Posts Tagged ‘ eurovision song contest ’

My Eurovision predictions for tomorrow

Another year, another Eurovision. For those of you who don’t live in Europe or Australia: the Eurovision Song Contest is an annual, widely broadcasted festival to which countries submit three minute Pop songs to compete with each other. There are results of varying degrees of quality, hilarity and entertainment value.
Those of you who have visited my weblog for longer than two years know that my full report will follow the day after the actual Contest, but based on what I have seen in the semi-finals and the video clips, I can share the following predictions with you.

This year’s Contest will be won by a male-female singing duo. My guess would be Norway’s Mørland and Debrah Scarlett, but I’m hoping for Estonia’s Elina Born & Stig Rästa. Czech Republic’s Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta – by far the best male singer of this year – were favorites as well, but they were sadly voted out.

Nina Sublatti’s ‘Warrior’ – a Destiny’s Child-like female empowerment anthem – will give Georgia their highest ranking ever. More specifically, that would mean somewhere between positions 1 and 8.

Wheelchair bound singer Monika Kuszyńska from Poland will gather a lot of sympathy votes with her ‘In The Name Of Love’. Whoever directed that performance did so brilliantly, showing images of when Kuszyńska was still able to walk. That doesn’t in any way attack her song, which is actually quite a decent power ballad.

None of the so called “Big Five” will end up in the top 10. Italy’s ‘Grande Amore’ will be the highest ranking track out of the five.

Australia’s Guy Sebastian will receive much more sympathy votes than he deserves with his middle of the road Pop song ‘Tonight Again’ simply because this is the first time they are actually taking part.

Not much of a prediction, rather a “post-diction”: whoever voted Portugal’s Leonor Andrade and her ‘Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa’ out is an idiot.

Always risky, but my guesses for the top 5, in no particular order: Norway, Greece, Russia, Sweden and Latvia. That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with that, though Maria Elena Kyriakou’s ‘One Last Breath’ (Greece) is Eurovision gold.

Serbia’s Bojana Stamenov will finish just outside the top 5, even though it doesn’t quite deserve that spot. Let’s just say the mediocre song does have some elements a majority of the Eurovision crowd can relate to.

I am very curious to see how much of this will actually turn out to be true.

Just to round things off, I’d like to share with you what we’re missing out on now that Portugal is out of the race. Leonor Andrade’s voice mixes the power and passion of the Portuguese Fado tradition with more conventional Pop melodies and her performances has some sort of beautiful anger boiling beneath the surface. The song sounds a little like Journey minus the guitar histrionics. The modulation in the last chorus is a little cheap, but apart from that, it’s a shame this didn’t make it to the finals.

My douze points for 2014

About half of the eleven Eurovision predictions I did earlier today came true. That didn’t diminish any of the joy, however. This year, there is a winner who more than deserves it, my entire country is happy because it came in second – the greatest Eurovision success in a long, long time – and Graham Norton’s commentaries on the BBC were thoroughly enjoyable. Between his sarcastic remarks, there were even some words of sincere admiration for the Dutch entry. Personally, I think the Netherlands sent a better delegation last year, but I have a weak spot for Ilse de Lange with her cute smile and sympathetic charisma.

The fact that this year’s entry from the Netherlands was less satisfying for me than last year’s is more or less in line with the level of the entire Eurovision Song Contest. There were more good songs and the vocal efforts were much, much better on average in 2013. Nevertheless, this year’s winner was nothing short of fantastic and I’ve seen some enjoyable acts. Some of them more intentionally than others, as always.

So like last year, I will share with you – my dear readers – my own top 5 of the festival. Or my six, sept, huit, dix et douze points if you will. It was slightly more difficult to gather five acts that I actually really liked this year, but they exist and these entries all deserve my honorable mentions.

Russia: Tolmachevy Sisters – ‘Shine’

Judging from the enormous amount of booing the audience emitted for the 17 year-old twin sisters representing Russia, I may be getting a lot of crap for mentioning this song, but I’m looking at this from a musical angle, not a political one. In fact, looking at this politically may give the lyrics an ironic aftertaste, but the fact is that ‘Shine’ a strongly written Pop song with bombastic strings backing a big, hooky chorus. That’s just the way I like it. The voices of the Tolmachevy Sisters work very well together and their vocal symbiosis lifts the chorus to its larger than life status, although I suspect there are some extra backing vocals on the backing track. The sister who does the higher part every alternate line does an amazing job. In the semi-finals, this was the first song to leave something of an impression on me and although a few songs surpassed them, this song definitely has some lasting value after the contest. And let’s be honest: these girls are just adorable.

Switzerland: Sebalter – ‘Hunter Of Stars’

With me being an outspoken hater of whistling in recorded songs, this may come as something of a surprise to those who know me, but Sebalter’s song was a delightful breath of fresh air in this year’s contest for me. Not the best vocal effort, but ‘Hunter Of Stars’ is a lightweight, upbeat Pop song without having the annoying electronic Europop bombast of majority of this year’s entries. Sebalter’s backing band contained a badass banjo player and the singer himself proves why he should be taken seriously as a musician by playing an awesome violin solo which could have been a guitar solo on any neoclassical Metal song. Once again, Switzerland surprises with a song that is free of pretense, but not without its musical value, just like Anna Rossinelli’s fantastic ‘In Love For A While’ three years ago, which sadly finished last at the time.

Slovenia: Tinkara Kovač – ‘Round And Round’

A lot of criticism has been projected onto Tinkara Kovač for consistently holding her flute during the performance of her song ‘Round And Round’. Being more interested in the music than the actual performances, I couldn’t care less. In fact, I think Kovač performed one of the most consistently amazing Pop songs in this year’s contest. Slovene and English mix remarkably well and Kovač strong alto fits the song perfectly. I think the song is extremely well written as it works towards several emotional climaxes with such ease that you’d almost forget that the song is relatively complex with all the subtle changes in the accompanying parts. Also, ‘Round And Round’ has been bugging the hell out of my father and me because the song’s chorus strongly reminds us of another song and we can’t figure out which one. Those of you who have suggestions are cordially invited to leave them in the comments section.

Italy: Emma – ‘La Mia Città’

One of the very few songs to be sung in the native language of the performer and the only decent Rock song – no, Finland’s horrible, horrible song doesn’t count – was delivered to us quite surprisingly by Italy. Emma Marrone has a great, powerful voice and the musical backing is somewhat typical Italian Poprock, albeit with a greater deal of force than you’d expect based on what can be heard on their mainstream radio. Emma proves herself as a strong performer and I am definitely tempted to check out one of her albums after what she did here. The dual vocal harmonies gave me goosebumps and have sort of an Alice In Chains vibe in their darkness. This is probably the most impressed I have ever been by Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest and that’s not just because Emma’s a good looking lady. She’s a Rock monster in the guise of a goddess.

Austria: Conchita Wurst – ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’

As I’ve said before: Austria’s “lady with a beard” – technically, I’d say Conchita’s a guy in a dress – is the only one who would have deserved to win the contest this year. Of course, a lot of media coverage was on the unlikely combination of the beard and the dress, but Conchita had both the best song and the best voice of this year. ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ sort of reminded me of Shirley Bassey’s ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ in its structure and orchestral backings and the vocal delivery is powerful, heartfelt and just downright impressive. The song actually nearly brought me to tears. Despite the relatively sober presentation, the camera captured Conchita’s emotional gestures perfectly, but even without that, it’s just a relief to see that the jury and audiences have decided the best man or woman should win this year. ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ is by far the best song of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest and Conchita Wurst owns the best voice. Congratulations!

My Eurovision predictions for tonight

The non-European viewers of this weblog may not be interested in this, but then again, I know some American people who are into the Eurovision Song Contest as well. Much to the annoyance of my mother and my Metal friends alike, I’m always looking forward to the contest. My full report will be posted tomorrow, but based on what I have seen in the semi-finals, I have made some predictions and I have some other conclusions I’d like to share with you as well.

Since the general level of the compositions and – even moreso – the vocal performances this year was thoroughly disappointing for yours truly, I think the scores of the top countries will be higher than the previous years.

Russia will receive less points than their Tolmachevy Sisters’ song rightfully deserves based on the political situation in Ukraine. They can definitely forget about their douze points – or really any for that matter – from said country for sure.

By the same logic, Ukraine will receive more points with their incredibly middle of the road Pop song ‘Tick-Tock’ than Marina Yaremchuk deserves.

Norway’s Carl Espen will end up in the top 10, because his introspective ‘Silent Storm’ will do better with the traditional Eurovision crowd than most of the bookmakers expect.

My own country of The Netherlands will end up on a higher position than last year, despite the fact that last year’s song was much better. I was impressed by the work of Belgian director Hans Pannecoucke, whose registration perfectly captured Ilse DeLange’s game winning smile on exactly the right moment.

Of the pre-qualified contestants, Italy’s Emma Marone will claim the highest position. If only because her ‘La Mia Città’ is the only good song of the six.

Austria’s Conchita Wurst will end up in the top 5. Not only based on the remarkable act, but also because he/she (I don’t know what Conchita prefers) is by far the best singer I have heard so far. The song is Eurovision gold.

Azerbaijan will continue their streak of high positions with Dilara Kazimova’s ‘Start A Fire’.

San Marino will finish last. Their place as finalist is the only “prize” Valentina Monetta will receive for her persistence, with this being her third participation.

In good Eurovision tradition, I won’t agree with the top 5.

Watching the ESC on the BBC instead of on the Dutch public network will be a good decision. Graham Norton will be much better for my blood pressure than Jan Smit and Cornald Maas.

We will see how much of this will come true in a couple of hours!

My douze points for 2013

Though generally not a very beloved show for people who consider themselves serious music fans, I always love to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. There’s always a couple of extremely well written songs and a bunch of very talented singers and musicians… And the rest is for laughing value.

For me, 2013 was a bit more interesting than other years because of Anouk representing my country. I’ve been a fan of hers since her fantastic debut single ‘Nobody’s Wife’ and her ‘Jerusalem’ is one of the best songs ever to come from Holland. Of equal importance: she’s from The Hague, like myself. Also, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi wrote the music to one of the songs this year.

This year’s winner, ‘Only Teardrops’ from Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest, had been predicted by the bookmakers for months. And though it’s nowhere near as godawfully annoying as last years winner (‘Euphoria’ by Loreen), the only thing I thought after hearing and seeing it was: “is this it?” A decent song by a good singer, but nothing special at all.

So I’ve decided to share with you the songs that should have made up the top 5 in my opinion. I could have – in the spirit of the contest – went for the most beautiful woman (Norway’s astonishing Margaret Berger, though I hated the song) or the most outrageous act (easily Romania’s Cezar, downright hilarious), but I do consider myself a serious music fan. These are the songs I would definitely find myself listening to again.

France: Amandine Bourgeois – L’enfer Et Moi

‘Hell And Me’ does sound like something that would please Kevy Metal, now wouldn’t it? Regardless, France’s entry this year took me completely by surprise. I had heard recordings of the song throughout the advent of the contest, but Bourgeois’ spirited performance of the track, including a rough edge to her vocals notably absent from the recordings, made it an early favorite of mine. I knew it wouldn’t win, because the performance was rather sober and Bourgeois is a little too plain looking to win over the extravaganza craving of the Eurovision audience, but I’d love to hear this voice rock out some more.

Iceland: Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson – Ég á Líf

Easily one of the more traditional Eurovision entries this year, Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson sung a beautiful ballad in his native language, which would have definitely ended up in the top 5, had it been 1985 or something. ‘Ég á Líf’ (‘I’m Alive’) has this sense of hopeful melancholia that is present in quite a lot of Icelandic music. Gunnlaugsson has the voice to carry this song by both setting the melancholic mood and lifting your spirit within the song. Apparently, he has joined Progrock band Todmobile. Dutch presentor Jan Smit caused something of a stir among my social circle, by saying that Gunnlaugsson looked weird. I seriously don’t see it.

Armenia: Dorians – Lonely Planet

No, not the traveller’s guide. Dorians’ Gor Sujyan is by far – seriously, he probably can’t even see the rest, that’s how far ahead he is – the best singer of this year’s contest. An enormous range, through which he races with enviable ease, hitting every note with just the right amount of power… This is exactly how I like singers to sound. The song, which reminds me of Prince’s fantastic ‘Gold’ at times, is pretty good too, though somewhat of a typical eighties Hardrock ballad. It’s been written by Tony Iommi. You won’t ever hear Black Sabbath doing something like this, but then again: you won’t ever hear Ozzy Osbourne singing this great either, right?

Greece: Koza Mostra and Agathonas Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free

Amazing! Though being a teetotaller, this song appealed to me immediately. It’s folky Ska sounds reminded me of Gogol Bordello a bit and even though my mom hates the contest, she liked this song, saying it sounded like Madness. I personally love the downright outrageous party atmosphere of the song. With the title being the only English in the entire track, I don’t really know what the rest of the song means, but it sounds good. Energetic and spirited, both in composition and performance. Just look at the performance: these guys know how to start a party. I love the raw vocals of Elias Kozas.

The Netherlands: Anouk – Birds

Okay, I may be a bit biased here. But that has nothing to do with Anouk’s home country or even home town. ‘Birds’ is just a beautiful song, done by Holland’s premiere female Rock singer. The song itself is a bit of a departure from her former work though, sounding more like a James Bond soundtrack than an actual Rock song. I personally love it. The lush strings give the song a dreamy atmosphere and Anouk’s vocals have never sounded so warm. If it was really just about the song, this would have won. As for Anouk herself: being our nation’s number one Rock bitch, I’m sure she doesn’t care that she hasn’t won and has enjoyed the free publicity her new album ‘Sad Singalong Songs’ has gotten. Now go out and buy it.