Friday, May 08, 2009

This years pre-ESC review

Montenegro – Very 80’s throwback, its one of those songs which sounds OK on first listen but there really isn’t much to it, and it soon palls. Average at best

Czech Republic – This years Borat out-take. Pretty horrible all told. The shouty rapping definitely doesn’t work and this will be near the bottom of the pile

Belgium – Well, the Copycat name is obvious enough, although this is rather more Alvin Stardust than Elvis Pressup. Having the two novelty-ish entries at the beginning may not do them a lot of good. This is what you expect it to be.

Belarus – Very loud intro. Substandard stadium rock, and I don’t like the singing

Sweden – This years popera effort. I think its essentially a schlager song with an overblown opera chorus and it just screams ‘Swedish eurovision entry’. Which is fine if that’s your thing, but this isn’t mine....

Armenia – And the dross goes on.....this is one of those ‘ethnic but contemporary’ efforts which doesn’t go anywhere very much and isn’t particularly remarkable whilst dping so. It also requires a tune.

Andorra – I don’t rate this very highly, it’s an average pop song, But after the preceding bilge, it doesn’t sound too bad. Entirely forgettable, nonetheless

Switzerland – I have a reputation for not being a rock fan, but whatever category one places this in, it should sail through if there’s any justice. Musically its spot-on, interesting instrumentation, and the overall feel is somewhere between the Pet Shop Boys and New Order. Actually reminds me of ‘Disappointed’. What it has going for it is a good melody and a haunting atmosphere..

Turkey – So, so predictable. Unfortunately, there are always votes for this sort of thing, no matter how dull and unremarkable. You couldn’t get much more routine than this one. Ethnic kebab-shop-by-numbers. Boring, boring

Israel – Good singers who sound professional and harmonious. I don’t think it’s a great song, but after all the noise so far it comes over as quite different and refreshing

Bulgaria – This is straight out of the Communards/Jimi Somerville songbook, but to be able to get away with this sort of thing, you have to be able to do it very well. Sung well, this could win. But all the live performances so far have been excruciating

Iceland – This is a sweet little ballad, nicely sung, but somehow it misses something. I’m not sure what.

Macedonia – Even louder than Belarus. More stadium rock, and I’m not the person to be able to give an unbiased view....not for me

Romania – Another very dull song which doesn’t really do anything or get anywhere. Dullsville

Finland – very, very bad rapping, and usually rapping does badly in the contest. The chorus is pretty predictable Steps-style pop. No thanks

Portugal – And so to the class. This is delightful, it’s uplifting and cute. If Urban Trad can do well, why not this?

Malta – I’m a great Chiara fan and she can certainly sell a song. This isn’t as strong a song as either of the previous entries. But the chorus is very memorable. I think it will qualify and may do much better than some predict

Bosnia – This is a serious contender. It’s a dramatic song, well sung, I don’t like it as much on a few listens as the first time round but it will be a definite qualifier

Croatia – This year’s slice of Balkan doom. Its not one of the best examples, but he looks good and it may be remembered enough to qualify.

Ireland – I’d hoped for a really good Irish en try this year, but they really have lost the plot. This is a very weak Americanised song which classes as their worst effort to date

Latvia – In the ‘Bizarre’ corner comes this messy and tuneless cacophony. He’s a good singer, but this isn’t a good vehicle for a voice with lots of range

Serbia – There seems to be a surfeit of music claiming to be ‘folk’. This is the second Borat outtake only they have borrowed the lead singer of Right said Fred, fattened him up , and given him a wig. Its silly but then its meant to be. I think,

Poland – The response to this has been quite underwhelming so far, but I think it’s a good ballad – certainly much better than Iceland. Good melody, well sung on CD though I gather the live performances lack something. But it’s one of my favourites

Norway – Every so often, rationality disappears and something turns up which you love – or in this case, hate, hate , hate. Its not only that the song is a clichéd, derivative, irritant, nor that he has a face just waiting to be punched. Nor that something so cynically pitching for eastern votes is supposedly ‘traditional’. Its everything wrong with European pop in three loathsome minutes.

Cyprus – The performance in both the semi and final was in the Sophie Carle ‘little-girl-lost-with-out-of-key-voice’, which to an extent works, but not the out of tune bit. Song-wise this is really nice but whether such a huge improvement will be possible before the contest, I’m not sure.

Slovakia – Dramatic stuff, this. May all depend on the performance, but this sort of thing can do better than early predictions suggest – Tell Me Why being the obvious example. It isn’t the most tuneful song around, but it does stand out.

Denmark – What a cute boy! This is the sort of thing Ireland ought to be entering – and yes, it does sound like Ronan Keating. A million times better than Norway, it’s a grower, but can he do the song justice, particularly those high notes. If so, it’s a contender.

Slovenia – This must be the surprise selection of the year. It’s quite creative stuff but there’s just something a bit daft about watching what is effectively an instrumental being mimed on stage. I think it might qualify

Hungary – This is a bit gay. Actually, it’s very gay. But it’s not very good. Really predictable . It does what it says on the tin but this is one for recycling

Azerbaijan – Of the songs in this vein, this one is the strongest. I don’t actually like it, but it sounds fresher than the others and the voices work well.

Greece- The absolutely heterosexual Mr. Rouvas returns. He’s not much of a singer but then this doesn’t require a lot of singing. He’s fit and he can move, and like Chiara, he can sell a song. There’s a certain charisma there. Shake It sounds just great speeding to Athens airport in the back of a Greek taxi and this may do as well but it really doesn’t do much for me

Lithuania- This years ‘quiet song’ is pleasant enough but I think it needs a ‘lift’ melodically. It lacks light and shade.

Moldova- This year’s ultra-ethnic outing. I loved the jazz ballad last year but knew it wouldn’t get many votes. This really does sound like something you would stagger around drunkenly to but i have a feeling it could amass a few votes.

Albania- This sounds very Scandinavian to me. It’s nice enough but a bit unremarkable

Ukraine- There had to be one. Musical merit nil, heavy on the gimmicks. Tuneless and clichéd. Just horrible

Estonia – On first hearing I thought this was a bit ‘cold’, but it’s now one of my favourites. Haunting and ethereal, and a bit different....

Netherlands- Sometimes a joke entry works, but its important that everyone is in on the joke. To an outsider, this looks like three old blokes dressed as Liberace singing a schlager show tune

France- This is really classy, sleazy, jazzy stuff. It does stand out from the crowd – I can imagine it behind the credits on a film noir. Its also thoroughly French. Excellent

Spain- They do seem to have got into a rut of entering very predictable upbeat songs which scream ‘Spanish Eurovision entry’. This is another in the sequence, and its utterly forgettable

Germany- Conversely, Germany often enter interesting songs but they don’t always do well. This is very smooth and professional, I fancy the singer, and it’s a grower. But somehow I don’t think it is going to do very well. I hope I’m wrong.

UK- I’m not a fan of our entries on the whole, and actually having the UK on or near the top of the pile at this stage in the contest is almost unheard of. But this is the best ballad in the contest. It’s a memorable tune, and the ALW factor may help it along

Russia – Playing to the home crowd gallery I think. I don’t like it

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