Friday, April 20, 2018

EUROVISION 2018 REVIEW: UKRAINE, CZECH REPUBLIC, AUSTRIA, SWEDEN

 
Ukraine - Mélovin - Under the ladder
Mélovin (21), X Factor Ukraine winner (after three unsuccesful auditions!) and last year's televoting winner in the national final for Eurovision (but placing only 3rd) took revenge this year with self composed Under the ladder. The song is catchy and keeps building towards the burning end, he's got a gimmick in his look that makes him memorable, as is the staging. I don't remember seeing an artist start the perform mid stage ending up by the piano in the end - isn't it always the other way around? He seems also very secure on stage and the end of the performance is on fire. He will be a certain qualifier but how far he will go in the final? Hmmm ... 7/10

Czech Republic - Mikolas Josef - Lie to me
Mikolas (22) is the first Czech with a real possibility. He was asked by the local tv already last year but turned down the song not feeling it suitable for him. Smart choice as now he's back with a jackpot. A sure finalist with a catchy song, fun performance, convincing live, likable personality, easy on the eye  - what else can I say? Maybe a bit too different just like Israel to win but a Top-3 is a possibility.... 10/10
(And I can't but think about this lost opportunity: Vittoria Hyde with Play the trumpet from the Swiss selection 2011 (here). Had it won and been properly recorded and remixed, who knows? )

Austria - César Sampson - Nobody but you
César (34) is no stranger to Eurovision having been the backing singer two last years placing 4th and 2nd and being part of the production team that provides us the Bulgarian entry this year, too. Bulgaria is the big favorite but I certainly prefer this one. Better song, amazing vocals, fantastic gospel choir. Sadly they are both in the same semifinal and even almost back to back but in my books Nobody but you beats Bones by far. I hope this will qualify for the final but must admit I'm not feeling very confident it will.... unfortunately. 8/10

Sweden - Benjamin Ingrosso - Dance you off
The Swedish entry lies once again heavily on staging and indeed it looks great. Let's see how they bring that to Lisbon stage and fill in the pre-recorded vocals as Benjamin (20), as sweet son of Pernilla he is, isn't exactly the strongest vocally.  He tried to get to Eurovision already last year placing 5th but managed to win this year. He's no stranger to Eurovision traditions as his mother Pernilla Wahlgren tried five times already (being runner up in 2003) and Eurovision winner Charlotte Nilsson/Perrelli was married to his uncle. As much as I kinda like him and his effort I find this song a bit dull, as said great staging but songwise... yawn. I'd like to like it a lot more than I actually do really. But this is Sweden and sure finalist. The question is how strong it will be in the final voting and how well they manage this live vocally? 6/10

Thursday, April 19, 2018

EUROVISION 2018 REVIEW: ITALY, SWITZERLAND, FRANCE, SPAIN


Italy - Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro - 
Non mi avete fatto niente
Italy sends again the Sanremo winner and their platinum selling #1 manifest against terrorism Non mi avete fatto niente. Albanian born Ermal Meta (37) and Fabrizio Moro (43) both have very succesful and flourishing career already and both have been busy touring and promoting their respective albums after Sanremo skipping all Eurovision related pre-parties - so did Loreen, too, didn't she? I prefer the studio version to the live performance to be honest, when especially Moro goes a bit too shouty for my liking. Despite this one of the strongest songs by far this year with an interesting half spoken verses that turn into light folk rock a la Hop hop somerello, another song with apparent lightness with heavy lyrics. Italy will score another top-10 easily this year. If not, it'd be as unfair as Russia making the final again. Italy could also be fighting for victory in case the jury and televotes spread and differ to other entries, who knows? 10/10
Switzerland - ZiBBZ - Stones
If Italy sings against terrorism, the Swiss siblings Corinne (32) and Stee (31) Gfeller sing against bullying. The pulsing beat keeps the track together and it's energetic and strong, but we have the problem of an angry female singer. They never seem to work in Eurovision. Ask Hanna Pakarinen for example. Nothing wrong with her, it's just... well, we will see. Borderline qualifier for me, but I think Swiss might miss the final once again being in the 1st one.... 6/10
France - Madame Monsieur - Mercy
After terrorism and bullying here's another hot topic: emigration. Madame Emilie Satt (33) and Monsieur Jean-Karl Lucas met in 2008 and have been writing music ever since, from 2013 under the current name.  Mercy has a backstory (and all the specualtions of the song being political are long forgotten), the arrangement is airy and modern, Emilie's vocals perfect and the song has maybe the catchiest refrain of all entries this year - at least it plays in my head day and night since weeks. I had a bit of a roller coaster start with this song; liking it, then a bit dismissing it and then slowly it climbed back to the top favorites while other songs were selected. The English and Spanish versions or the various remixes add nothing to the original French one that is perfect just the way it is. Their look in black is cool and it's all very French somehow. In a good way. Perfection. This should better Amir's 6th place and cement France's position as a Big one for real.  10/10
Spain - Amaia y Alfred - Tú cancion
Spain leaves the heavy themes to others and goes for the eternal one: Love. And in this case for a real life sweethearts and talent reality show finalists with a touch of Disney and La la landish atmosphere. And it works. Amaia Romero (19) won the show while Alfred Garcia (21) came 4th, but together they won the national selection. Both have previous less fortunate reality talent show experience. The song itself with me has the same story as France's. First I liked it, then I kinda forgot about it but sneakily it returned to my mind, played in my head and is now among my favorites. There's a danger it all gets too sugary and gets ruined on stage live, but if they keep it sweet and innocent celebrating the young love and they hold it together vocally and transmit real emotions this could go very far... sealed with a kiss.. 9/10

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

NETHERLANDS: WAYLON RELEASES OUTLAW IN 'EM VIDEO AND A NEW ALBUM

Waylon it getting ready for his second Eurovision song contest by releasing an official music video for his entry Outlaw in 'em - better late than never! But that's not all as his new album The world can wait is out, too. This blogger is loving both of them. 

EUROVISION 2018 REVIEW: LATVIA, LITHUANIA, RUSSIA, CROATIA


Latvia - Laura Rizzotto - Funny girl
Latvian-Brazilian Laura Rizzotto (23) has lived her life so far between Minnesota, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Latvia. She has studied in Berklee (Boston), California and Columbia Universities so she certainly knows music. And no doubt she's talented singer and songwriter. That doesn't however hide the fact her Funny girl needs some what acquired taste for this kind of music. Generally this could be my cup of tea so to speak, but no. This is dull and uninteresting. Live it works a bit better but about one minute mark my attention drifts elsewhere and I find myself checking the contents of my fridge while she's still singing her song. Very long three minutes. 2/10

Lithuania - Ieva Zasimauskaitè - When we're old
I managed to ignore this song all those eternal weeks the Lithuanian selection was going on - maybe because I didn't follow it live and just checked the videos later, if even that. I did watch the final, and all of sudden I fell in love with this song. So fragile, simple. I checked the Lithuanian version and was under a spell. Even the remix fits and ads something to the mix. The best Lithuanian entry to date by far!
Ieva (24) was 5th time lucky in the national selection and while being somewhat ignored by the fandom in the bubble could become a real surprise in Lisbon. This is touching, real with a message and if she performs it well when it matters, who knows? This deserves the final more than most. What else can I say? I love all the versions of this little pearl. 9/10

Russia - Julia Samoylova - I won't break
Julia Samoylova (29) should have been there already last year. Or really she shouldn't be here this time either. Last year used as a propaganda weapon between Russia and Ukraine her presence this year feels even more out of place than last year. Her first live performance underlines the whole madness of this affair. Russia would have so much better to offer if they played by the cards to win or do well with music alone. Not propaganda. This put aside, judging only her voice and presence, and the song's quality this has no place in the final, but sadly will steal some other better one's place because this is Russia. One can only hope for justice and Russia staying in the semi as with this package they don't deserve anything else. The song has zero originality no matter how deep you dig. 2/10

Croatia - Franka - Crazy
Last lady in her twenties in this post is Franka Batelić (25). Her career started in a talent show in 2007 with a win. She also tried to get to Eurovision already in 2009 without luck but went on to win local Dancing with Stars before retiring from the business. Now she's back as internally chosen artist. Crazy has somewhat disappointed the expectations and no wonder. Great production values and video for sure but... what about the song? Echoes of Sam Brown's Stop come to mind immediately and that's just about it. Long and rather boring quite depressing three minutes that can of course be hidden by a stellar staging and performance but I doubt it's enough to make this qualify. Which is a shame as it seems Croatian tv really tried this time. Sometimes too much trying leads nowhere but sterility... 4/10

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

FINLAND: WELL DONE YLE - PAYING THE SONGWRITERS TRIP TO LISBON AFTER ALL

Yesterday's news was YLE was unable to "pay everybody" to Lisbon 2018 Eurovision song contest and thus leaving the entry's writers home, read more here. That caused quite a social media stir and for the reason. After all this is a SONG contest and without the song and who wrote it there was no entry (even if sometimes one wonders if there's a song at all in some performances...) 
Today YLE announces it was all a misunderstanding and Linnea Deb, Joy Deb and Ki Fitzgerard all are travelling to Lisbon and will be in the Green room with the artists as well. One wonders who had the guts and common sense to stay away and give room to those you really deserve it.... 
Well done YLE, whether it was due to the negative flashback or just commom sense. Still I have to press it's more of the first as in the statement they still insist "usually YLE hasn't paid the songwriters to the spot due to the delegation limits set by EBU". So you do mean you have madee the songwriters present on the spot pay their trips from their own pocket all these years? 

EUROVISION 2018 REVIEW: NORWAY, ALBANIA, DENMARK, THE NETHERLANDS


Norway - Alexander Rybak - That's how you write a song
Eurovision 2009 winner Alexander Rybak (31) returns with a self written That's how you write a song. that will also be the 1500th Eurovsion song when he opens the 2nd semifinal with it. He won the Norwegian selection as a minor surprise but very convincingly. The fans really didn't believe in his chances but when masses vote... what do fans know? This blogger liked the song from the start and it was one of my three favorites and his live performance took away any doubts. The song itself isn't anything special really, true, but he makes it work and it's very enjoyable and entertaining three minutes. Not a winner in Lisbon but I wouldn't be surprised if he does very well in the final, to the left side of the scoreboard for sure. 8/10
Albania - Eugent Bushpepa - Mall
Albania was the first to choose and now it feels already soooo long time ago when we first heard Mall. To compensate Eugent Bushpepa (33) released the Eurovision short version of the song as the last one making it a hot topic again in mid-March. Well done! I kinda liked the song in December, but soon forgot about it. Now I kinda like it when I hear it that is very rarely. Eugent sure can sing, but the song itself is rather mainstream standard pop rock without anything that would make it stand out. Thankfully they have kept it in Albanian, so an extra point for that. A borderline qualifier but I suspect he will watch the final, not participate in it. 3/10
Denmark - Rasmussen - Higher ground
Danish Rasmussen (33) has a concept song, a bit like Lordi, Verka, and it's always good to have something that people remember you for. The Vikings. I grew tired with Higher ground rather fast and after the initial wow effect it's gone to yawn. However it's worth remembering about 99% of the voters will hear and see the song for the first time and vote based on that. If he and his warriors nail it when it matters this sails to the final. They could also suffer a shipwreck just when they see the shore....That is if they stick to the national final performance theme - while he's been performing alone in his hoodie like any random hipster in various promo events it's been like looking a totally different thing.  6/10
The Netherlands - Waylon - Outlaw in'em

Waylon, another Eurovision returnee and 30something guy in this foursome (37). He already came 2nd with The Common Linnets so he surely wants to better it. But no, we aren't off to Amsterdam next year. I really liked the song the first time I heard it, and still do. A real energy booster and something else for the Eurovision. I believe he rocks himself to the final, and then... I have no idea! Hopefully to the left side of the scoreboard. Outlaw in'em is not a song I listen to a lot, but everytime I hear it I'm hooked. and jamming along. This sticks out in the line up wherever they place it in the final. A piece of America in Eurovision. In a good way. 8/10

Monday, April 16, 2018

FINLAND: SHAME ON YOU YLE - NOT PAYING THE SONGWRITERS TRIP TO EUROVISION...

If you thought it's Eurovision SONG contest now it's clear what YLE thinks about it. The SONGwriters, who are quite much responsable for the outcome and the entry are not worth paying the ticket to Lisbon and their accomodation. All sort of managers, PR people, make up artists, hair artists, choreographers and assistants are, including of course various YLE people having not so much to do at the spot in reality. "We can't just pay everyone" comments YLE while in any sense of the world the artist and the backing group AND the SONGwriters should be the first ones in the list. But no. Not for YLE.
This blogger had a bit hard swallowing they went abroad and bought the songs abroad like any Azerbaijans do (as that is what they did when especially inviting Eurovision winning team (Heroes 2015) to write a song for Saara and Eurovision) but I softened a little when I discovered Linnea and Joy Deb actually do have some Finnish roots. And if YLE had money to bring them over for the UMK final, this is just ridiculous and bad PR. And most of all shameful. No wonder the Debs state they have no will to work with YLE again in the future, so this year has been a great year for UMK team: first they angered the Finnish songwriters, and now even the foreign ones..... Season 2019 will be interesting.....
I feel shamed. Phyi YLE!


Friday, April 13, 2018

EUROVISION WINNERS: LORDI RELEASES YOUR TONGUE'S GOT THE CAT AHEAD OF SEXORCISM

Lordi has released the first single off their new and ninth studio album Sexorcism - out May 25, 2018. Check out Your tongue's got the cat's lyric video below .-)
Mr Lordi tells Your Tongue's Got The Cat is clearly the lightest song on the album, reminding most the old Lordi in his opinion. The song tells a horror scene where a man oversees his beloved maid by the bed, remembering common times as she is now possessed by a Demon and nothing old and known remains, There may, of course, also be heard some hints to dementia and Alzheimer's disease, if you so wish. My father's last year's were filled with these memory disorders, so there might be some echoes of those times, too. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

EUROVISION 2018 REMIXED AND ACOUSTIC - IEVA, NETTA, SURIE, ELINA AND SAARA

Eurovision and remixes. Every year there are a few more or less interesting official ones, and many, many unofficial ones. Here you have some official ones out so far. And something else....
Ieva Zasimauskaité's When we're old has got a Jovani Remix. One of the most underrated entries this year if you ask this blogger works nicely even as a sort of dance mix,  Just like the Lithuanian language version Kol myliu it adds another dimension to this little pearl. The video itself follows her journey through the neverending selection process until her victory. Nice job!
The favorite extraordinaire this year has got a remix, too, Sagi Kariv's remix of Netta's Toy doesn't bring much to the mix, just more and longer beats to make this work even better at the dance floor. For more adventurous remixes Youtube is full of unofficial ones....
SuRie's got Storm remixed by 7th Heaven making it sound like... err... any 7th Heaven remix since years but hey, if it works, why change it? And the standard 7th Heaven remix is always kinda nice, isn't it?
Elina Nechayeva turns her pop opera nonsense La forza into a dance floor nonsense and actually it works better this way, not even trying to be a proper song with any sense. 
Saara Aalto goees the other way and goes acoustic with a simple piano version of her Monsters, but as a gimmick sung in all the Eurovision song contest 2018 languages. That's 31 or 34 of them, depending how you want to count them.... 


Sunday, April 08, 2018

EUROVISION: CAETANO VELOSO WILL PERFORM IN LISBON 2018

 
Brazilian bossanova-tropicalia-folk rock legend Caetano Veloso will join the list of already impressive guest stars in the coming Eurovision song contest 2018 in Lisbon such as fado legends Mariza and Ana Moura. He will be performing with the reigning champion Salvador Sobral. 
Veloso (75) along with his sister Maria Bethania (who this blogger saw live in Lisbon a long time ago and fell in love with) and Gilberto Gil are among the best known Brazilian musicians globally, and have shaped the Brazilian music as we know it today. He has won ten Grammys and Latin Grammys and countless other awards and released 34 studio albums since 1967 as well as 17 live albums and countless compilations. I'm loving how RTP is showcasing the Portuguese languagee culture and giving us the best of it. Next I expect Ronaldo will be announced as the one starts the final voting....
(Eurovision link here: Italy's Franco Battiato borrowed the refrain to his Cuccurucucu in his 1981 album and having one of his biggest hits with it)


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