Posts tagged “esc 2017

Eurovision 2017 Grand Final Recap and Podcast

Hello Dear Viewers!

Well, there you have it – the 62nd edition of Europe’s Favorite TV Show is in history books. Wow, wow, wow – and quite a bit of history was made! First, a brief recap of our Top Ten:

  1. Portugal
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Moldova
  4. Belgium
  5. Sweden
  6. Italy
  7. Romania
  8. Hungary
  9. Australia
  10. Norway

In case you were wondering, I was 7 for 10 for predicting the Top Ten finishers. I predicted that the UK, Armenia, and Azerbaijan would all make the Top Ten, and they did not. Hungary, Norway, and Australia all got in there instead.

Some Historic Markers:

  • This is Portugal’s first ever victory. Until this year, Portugal had the record with most entries without a victory (this was their 49th attempt across 53 years); a mantle that now passes to Cyprus who has now competed 34 times without a win.
  • This is the first completely non-English song to win Eurovision since 2007 and only the third since the start of the televoting era (1998 – Israel, 2007 – Serbia).
  • This is also Bulgaria and Moldova’s highest ever placings. Previously, Bulgaria’s best finish was last year with 4th place with If Love Was a Crime performed by Poli Genova (her second time representing the country). Moldova’s best finish was back in 2005 when it debuted and finished 6th with Boonika Bate Doba performed by Zdub şi Zdub (their first time representing the country).
  • Speaking of Bulgaria, this is the third time Kristian Kostov has come runner-up in a major competition, having done so previously on The Voice: Kids in Russia and on X-Factor Bulgaria.
  • Sweden extends its Top Ten streak to four. Australia and Belgium extend theirs to three. Bulgaria starts a streak with its second consecutive Top Ten finish.
  • This is Spain’s fifth last place finish. It also stops Germany’s last place streak at two.

My Reactions:

  • Pleasant Surprises: I’m happy to see so many songs of high quality in the Top Ten, particularly Portugal, Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy, and Hungary. Even moreso, I’m so happy that three of the four non-English songs finished in the Top Ten and that France, which had a 50/50 song, finished in a respectable twelfth.
  • Disappointments: Moldova is a lot of fun, but I really did not want it to finish so high. It is also disappointing that the UK finished so low (though, its best in quite a few years); Denmark’s low placing is also quite disappointing given how strong its song was.
  • Biggest Shock: The huge discrepancy between jury and televote for Australia – 171 from the juries, but only 2 from the televote. Yet, it still finished in the Top Ten. Hmmm…this is a bit crazy, another argument to have the juries score the same performances as the televoters to avoid this kind of situation in the future.
  • Happiest Non-Surprises: Belgium’s success was brilliant! Fourth place, some argue is too low, but I think is a great finish for a fantastic song. Spain came last – the song was poor and poorly performed AND it helped Germany break its last place streak.

What a fantastic show! Below is my podcast with DizzyDJC. Check back this time next week for my final wrap-up post, including my Annual Awards! As well as some exciting news about the future of the site! See you all soon!

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Eurovision 2017 – Grand Final Live Notes!!

Hello Dear Readers and Welcome to the live notes for the Grand Final of Eurovision 2017!!! Kyiv hosts the 62nd edition after previously hosting the 50th back in 2005. Tonight, 26 songs battle it out to be crowned the victor – but who will win?

Bulgaria, at least, that is my pre-show prediction. I think the rest of the Top Ten will be comprised of: The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, United Kingdom, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sweden, and Romania. That can (and probably will) change after we see the 26 performances tonight, but those are my thoughts heading into the show.

**Be sure to keep refreshing the page to see my notes as they appear.

Also, if you’re new or just want some info about this year’s Contest, you can find my ESC Notes and Country Profiles here!

On to the show!!!

Parade of Nations

I still think this is a pointless exercise. But the sparks and the effect of them appearing seemingly out of nowhere is pretty cool.

Opening Act

Boo!! No opening act. Another reason to get rid of the parade of nations.

On to the songs!

01 Israel I Feel Alive

IMRI sounds really off tonight. The dancing is on point, though. Oh, just when I thought he had righted the ship, he misses the big note.

02 Poland Flashlight

I’m guessing Poland didn’tfinish too high on Tuesday to be assigned the cursed #2 spot. This seems less emphatic and enthusiastic than on Tuesday. Still good, though. Especially that last note!

03 Belarus Historyja Majho Žyccia/Story of My Life

So much fun!! They are so into this — definitely taking hold of this moment. Ha – she almost fell! Very good performance; they definitely gave it their all.

04 Austria Running on Air

He sounds WAY better than Thursday night. Still not good enough to make a big impact, but he should definitely be proud with how he did tonight.

05 Armenia Fly with Me

Another fantastic performance from Artsvik – listen to the crowd reaction! Definitely going to the Top Ten.

06 The Netherlands Lights and Shadows

Uh oh, someone seems to be flat. It sounds, like, she is sick, maybe? But they still sound great — their harmonies are just a little less tight than usual.

07 Moldova Hey, Mamma!

Still fun, still exciting, still not going to get into the Top Ten. But I think they’ll finish better than they did in 2010 (22nd place).

08 Hungary Origo

He seems markedly less nervous and has better pacing than on Thursday. Wow! You can feel his passion burning in that rap verse. This could do better than I thought; I probably still not Top Ten, though.

09 Italy Occidentali’s Karma

Our first major contender of the night, let’s see how this goes. Still do not understand the hype. I just don’t. Maybe there’s something about seeing it in person? But my god, the crowd sounds like they’re about to go marching forth.

10 Denmark Where I Am

Stronger than Tuesday, for sure, but still not at the level of her DMGP performance. Definitely good enough for a Top Ten finish, I think, though.

11 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois

Amazing! I just got goosebumps! Even better with Tuesday. He even fixed the part where he backed too far away and wasn’t picked up by the mic. Loved it! Oh, it might actually win. It is number two in the betting odds.

Speaking of odds sitting at third is Bulgaria, which is second-last in the running order tonight.

That was an awesome joke “(from Twitter) ‘I can’t believe in a few hours it will all be over and we’ll be wondering what to do with the rest of our lives.’ (Host) ‘Us, too.'”

12 Azerbaijan Skeletons

Better than Tuesday, but still not good enough to seriously contend for victory. I think Azerbaijan will, however, easily be waltzing back into the Top Ten.

13 Croatia My Friend

I still think this staging comes off as silly. Well, less impressive with the stronger competition ahead of him. He sounded great – it’s just a terrible song.

14 Australia Don’t Come Easy

Definitely better than Tuesday — WAY better! But still a lot of missed notes. There are too many strong songs tonight for this to do well.

15 Greece This is Love

Yikes! That was a big note to miss. I didn’t notice that before, the dancer on the left is also a backing singer. Yikes – she missed another note at the end of a verse. Nope – not going to be Greece’s triumphant return to the Top Ten, but not last place either, so, good?

16 Spain Do It for Your Lover

And if you had any doubts about the vocals being live, that cracked note is your proof. I bet Germany is happy because now they may not get last.

17 Norway Grab the Moment

He sounds spot on tonight. Really good – only makes me like this song more. Perhaps it’ll finish in the 11-15 range. Good, but not great in a year of strong competitors.

Hahahaha! Måns! I love this host-training montage.

18 United Kingdom Never Give Up on You

A love ballad from the UK to Eurovision, haha. Very well done, I see why this song shot up the betting odds over the course of the week. Wow! The UK just might find itself back in the Top Ten.

19 Cyprus Gravity

Why is he so flat? I still think that this staging is oh so very weak compared to what it could be. Even just one silks dancer would have been amazing. At least his vocals seemed to have leveled out.

20 Romania Yodel It!

Ugh, this song is so bad. At least their performance is still good. I can’t believe that this song will probably do well tonight. Hopefully, it will be no where close to the top spot.

21 Germany Perfect Life

This is an average song that is staged quite poorly. Maybe she has done enough to beat out Spain and avoid being the third straight last place finish for Germany.

22 Ukraine Time

This gets two bumps 1) for being from the host country and 2) for being this year’s only rock song. It is alright. I think we’ve heard better ones through the years. But, despite the supercreepy head on stage with them, they did a good job and will probably finish in the 11-15 range.

23 Belgium City Lights

She still looks kind of scared – so, I guess that’s just how she looks. Despite the fear in her eyes, I think she still has a commanding presence on stage. She forces you to pay attention. Well done! Belgium back to the Top Ten!

24 Sweden Can’t Go On

I keep forgetting that he is purposefully singing gravely and low – I think it’s supposed to be sexy. This song is just obnoxious, though. I know Sweden is trying to protect its Top Ten streak (three in a row, including a winner), but this song does not deserve to be in the Top Ten. There are so many more that have greater artistic value (for example: Hungary, Belgium, Portugal) or more genuine performances (for example: Croatia, Romania, the Netherlands) that deserve that spot more.

25 Bulgaria Beautiful Mess

He’s behind Italy and Portugal in the betting odds, but not by much. He needs to bring his top performance if he hopes to win — performing so close to the end does not guarantee a strong placing (just ask the UK). Wow! Started a bit shaky, but he definitely finished strong! Is it enough to win? I’m not sure. Portugal, UK, and Belgium all gave pretty amazing performances as well of their strong songs. Not to mention that Italy sounds like he raised an army with his. We’ll see, it should be close!

26 France Requiem

I am so confused by France’s staging. Why is she alone and without dancers? Is everything spinning? She is stunningly beautiful, though. Hmmm, maybe not enough for the Top Ten, but should finish with a respectable position.

 

And there you have it! One of these 26 songs will be our new champion. But who will it be?!

Well, I think that it will come down to Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, and the UK. Which, I guess, isn’t too surprising. I think these had the best performances tonight and captured audience interest while also garnering jury support. I think Italy will be super popular among the televoters while Portugal and the UK will be favorites among the jury. Ultimately, I think one song will garner enough support from both to claim victory: Bulgaria. I know, boring that my prediction has not changed, but I still think that this song has what it takes to win. And I think it will be quite close, with Portugal coming second within a reasonable margin.

So, who do I think will be in the Top Ten?

  1. Bulgaria

  2. Portugal

  3. Belgium

  4. Italy

  5. United Kingdom

  6. Belgium

  7. Romania

  8. Sweden

  9. Armenia

  10. Azerbaijan

And, who were my ten favorites from tonight?

  1. Hungary

  2. Armenia

  3. Belgium

  4. Portugal

  5. Bulgaria

  6. United Kingdom

  7. Denmark

  8. France

  9. Norway

  10. Poland

Voting Entertainment/ Interval, I guess

While I think Ruslana, contemporary-traditional Ukrainian fusion music, and Jamala were all super awesome — I don’t understand why this is happening during voting. This is why shows keep running over, because they try to do a thousand things. I bet Jamala is going to be the Interval Act – adding yet more time. This should be a tight, three-hour show. Let last year’s winning artist (in this case, Jamala) open the show with a reprise and whatever new single they are hoping to promote (and get rid of the parade of nations), keep the voting to a tight 15 minutes, and move the entertainment back to the interval act, which can be shorter thanks to the fact that fan votes can continue to be verified while the jury votes are provided. It just doesn’t make sense.

LET THE VOTING BEGIN!! Here are the jury votes!

Sweden – Whoa! Sweden gave its twelve to Portugal. That’s highly unexpected (and no points for Norway) Portugal will either run away with these points or fall flat

Azerbaijan – No Russia, now to its twelve goes to…Belarus.

San Marino – more points to Portugal

Latvia – and the points continue for Portugal

OMG IBA from Israel is shutting down! Bombshell announcement live on air! Maybe Morocco and Lebanon will finally return?

Israel – Another 12 to Portugal

Montenegro – 12 to Greece

Albania – 12 points to Italy

Malta – surprise, instead of the UK their 12 goes to Italy

Macedonia – first 12 for Bulgaria

It’s going to be interesting to see where points from the former USSR will go without Russia. And from the former Yugoslav with Croatia being the group’s only representative.

Denmark – 12 to Sweden. surprise, surprise

Austria – 12 points to the Netherlands. Interesting

Norway – 12 to Bulgaria (and not Denmark or Sweden, surprisingly)

Spain – 12 to…Portugal (no surprise)

Finland – 12 points to Sweden (no surprise)

France – 12 points to Portugal (much to Belgium’s chagrin – zero points from their French friends)

Greece – 12 points to Cyprus (no surprise)

Lithuania – 12 points to Portugal (yea, I’m sensing a runaway)

Estonia – 12 points to Bulgaria (keeping them in the realm of closeness)

Moldova – 12 points to (let me guess….) Romania — no surprise.

Armenia – 12 points to Portugal!

Time for a breather – wow so fast, these votes! I think Portugal will handily win the Jury. The question is, how will it do with the televote?

Bulgaria – 12 points to Austria? That was unexpected. Strategic?

Iceland – 12 points to Portugal. Oh yeah, two out of four Nordic countries, definitely going to win the jury vote.

Serbia – 12 points to Portugal

Australia – 12 points to (the UK?) Yep. First time they sent 12 points to the motherland, fyi

Italy – 12 points to Azerbaijan?! Huh. Strategic?

Germany – 12 points to Norway – interesting

Portugal – 12 points to Azerbaijan! Interesting…strategic?

Switzerland  – another 12 points to Portugal

The Netherlands – 12 points to (wait! only 2 points to Belgium?!) Portugal

Ireland – 12 points to Belgium! (can’t think of the last time Ireland gave 12 points to the UK)

Georgia – 12 points to Portugal!

Cyprus – 12 points to Greece (I love how the spokesperson even knew that everyone already knew that their points were going to Greece)

Belarus – 12 to Bulgaria (benefiting from the lack of Russia, I bet)

Romania – 12 points to (Italy?) the Dutch! wow wow!

Hungary – 12 points to Portugal! Maintain the lead, but its definitely not as thick as it was. But, win or not, Portugal will definitely get its best ever placing tonight.

Slovenia – 12 points to Portugal

Belgium – 12 points to Sweden – that was highly unexpected

Poland – 12 points to Portugal!

United Kingdom – (yes, Katrina, we all know who you are) 12 points to Portugal!

Croatia – 12 points to Hungary – well deserved, I’d say

Czechia – 12 points to Portugal, 94 points ahead of Bulgaria

Ukraine – final 12 points from the juries – 12 points to Belarus! Whoa!

Portugal has won the jury votes by 104 points, leading Bulgaria who is 60 points ahead of Sweden. Australia led Ukraine by 109 at this point last year.

Televote!

Spain is saved from null point land!

And there goes the UK’s shot at the Top Ten

A lot of interesting televote points…And a lot of low point values. All the ones outside the top ten of the televote have fewer than 90 points

France got 90 points

Croatia got 103 points

126 points to Sweden

152 to Hungary – and quite the jump!

Italy – 208 WOW!!! Way underperforming for the bookie and fan favorite going into the Contest

Romania – is next with a sizeable jump

Portugal, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Belgium left to receive points

255 points to Belgium (WOW – how many points did Moldova get?!)

264 points and third in the televote to Moldova

Bulgaria v. Portugal

337 points to Bulgaria

MEANING THAT PORTUGAL HAS WON (with an addition 376 points)

WOW Our first new winner since 2011 (Azerbaijan) and PORTUGAL’s first ever victory!!! It took 49 attempts and a lot of shame, but Portugal has finally won. It is no longer the country with the most participations without a victory (Cyprus now takes that helm with 30 participations without a win). Congratulations and next year in Lisbon! Also, great job Ukraine, after a lot of confusion and craziness, you put on a fantastic show!

Awww, he has his sister (who wrote and composed the song) up there with him to sing the winner’s reprise as a duet with him. A beautiful moment for a beautiful song. A well-deserved, well-earned victory for Portugal.

Check back tomorrow for our wrap-up podcast with DizzyDJC as well as my wrap-up article about the Grand Final.

 

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2017 Eurovision for Beginners & ESC Notes 2017

Hello Dear Readers!

Eurovision continues is reaching a wider audience than ever before! I’d thought it would be a good idea to create a quick reference post for newbies to the Contest. Here are the top ten things you need to know in order to understand and enjoy Eurovision.

1. The Contest began in 1956 in order to bring together war-torn Europe. Starting with just seven countries, the Contest has exploded as Europe welcomed new countries. There are a total of 42 countries involved in ESC 2017, spanning the continent and beyond.

2. The participating countries are randomly split in half based on their voting history and must compete in one of either two semi-finals. Ten songs qualify from each semi-final and meet the automatic qualifiers in the Grand Final.

3. The automatic qualifiers are the host country, which is the defending champion, and the Big Five. These are the countries with the five largest television audiences in Europe and pay the most to the EBU (the organization that runs Eurovision). These countries are: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

4. The competitors are broadcasting companies (typically government-run) that select a representative to fly the flag. Countries can choose their entries any way they like. Some opt for a competition in which artists compete with songs, some choose an artist and song internally, and some do a combination of these things.

5. Songs can be in any language, but most choose English (or partially English) to broaden their entry’s appeal. Songs cannot have offensive, overtly sexual, political, or overtly religious lyrics. All lyrics can be found, in English and French, on the official website: eurovision.tv.

6. All performers (singers, backing singers, and dancers) must be at least 16 on the day of their first night of competition. No animals are allowed on stage. All music must be provided by backing track, but all singing must be done live. Songs must be no longer than three minutes.

7. Voting results are a 50/50 combination of professional juries and public vote (televoting). Each country provides a jury of five music professionals; they watch the second dress rehearsal (the evening before the televised show) and cast their votes then. Televoting occurs during the televised show during a fifteen minute window after the last song is performed.

8. Every competing country, regardless if they qualified for the Grand Final, vote for the winner. The results of the jury are revealed, country by country. The televoting is then revealed in ascending order, from least points to most points.

9. The winning song has the honor of being reprised at the end of the show. The winning artist gets a crystal trophy shaped liked a microphone. The winning composers and lyricists receive plaques. The winning broadcaster and country get to host the Contest the following year.

10. The Eurovision Song Contest is for EVERYONE. Despite the stereotypes, Eurovision is enjoyed by all kinds of people across the world and has the goal of uniting us ALL through music for one week a year.

Annual Notes

Craving for more information about Eurovision? Check out my ESC Notes that give a look at the history, rules, and notable quirks about the Contest. They were written with a particular eye towards those new to the Contest.

 Notes for ESC 2017

Want more information specific to ESC 2017? My country profiles will satiate your appetite as they cover information for each competing nation – their history and the background of their competing artists.

 ESC 2017 Country Profiles – Grand Finalists Only
ESC 2017 Country Profiles – All Participants

Wondering how you can hear great hits from Eurovision’s past? I have assembled playlists capturing different elements of Eurovision. This includes an Eurovision for Beginners playlist with twenty of the most influencial and historically important entries of all time.

Last year during the Second Semi-Final, two great productions were made wherein hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw explain the Contest in fun ways.

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Eurovision 2017 – Second Semi-Final Recap and Podcast

Hello Dear Readers!

As we anxiously await the forthcoming Grand Final, some thoughts on last night’s Second Semi-Final. I think this semi-final suffered from a lot of nervous performers with shaky performances. Additionally, there seemed to be a plague of poor stagings (more on that below). But first, here are our qualifiers (in alphabetical order with their semi-final half in parentheses):

Photo ©EBU Andreas Putting

  • Austria (first half)

  • Belarus (first half)

  • Bulgaria (second half)

  • Croatia (first half)

  • Denmark (first half)

  • Hungary (first half)

  • Israel (first half)

  • The Netherlands (first half)

  • Norway (second half)

  • Romania (second half)

Some Historical Markers from last night

  • Romania maintains its 100% qualification record. Hungary extends its streak to seven straight qualifications, reaching back to 2011. Austria extends its streak to four. Croatia, the Netherlands, and Israel have now all qualified twice in a row.

  • Bulgaria also has qualified twice in a row for the first time ever (and only third time overall). Denmark and Norway both return to Grand Final after missing it last year (for Norway) and each of the past two years (Denmark). Belarus qualifies for the first time since 2014.

  • Serbia and Lithuania’s streaks of qualifications end after two straight and Malta fails to make a second straight qualification. Macedonia has not qualified since 2012, Ireland since 2013, Switzerland and San Marino since 2014, and Estonia since 2015.

My Reactions

  • Biggest Disappointment: Austria and Ireland, two of my favorite songs, were both terribly performed last night. I could barely make it through Austria’s performance. I hope that Nathan Trent’s singing is better tomorrow night.

  • Biggest Shock: I am still shocked by how well I thought Romania and Croatia (two songs I do not like) did. They performed their hearts out and deserved their qualification.

  • Macedonia and Switzerland, while I think there might have been some nullification effect on one another, I think both were just missed opportunities. They both had strong, popular songs this year and A) staged them poorly and B) did not sing at their best abilities. Just, disappointing.

  • I think the Netherlands had the best performance on the night, followed closely by Bulgaria. They could possibly make a huge splash tomorrow, especially with the help of the juries.

  • France, Germany, and Ukraine had very questionable stagings. Read more about it in my live notes.

  • Just sad that San Marino failed to qualify. I think SMRTV may blame it on their small size, but, actually, it’s because it continually chooses dated songs with lame stagings. More on this in a forthcoming summer series.

So, there you have it my reactions to the Second Semi-Final. My excitement for the Grand Final is through the roof! Hear more about mine (and my friend DIZZYDJC) below in our podcast from today!

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Eurovision 2017 – Second Semi-Final: Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

It is Thursday of Eurovision Week and we all know what that means: time for the Second Semi-Final! Tonight we will get the last ten qualifiers for Saturday’s Grand Final. As a reminder, the qualifiers for tonight will join the Big Five (Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom), our defending champs & host (Ukraine), and Tuesday’s ten qualifiers (Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden).

Make sure to keep refreshing the page throught the show!

It’s starting! I love starting with a recap of Tuesday.

…what are the hosts wearing?! No. Not good. I do love a good ESC medley! Euphoria! Fairytale! My Number One (which was the winner the last time we were in Ukraine). Rise like a Phoenix! Definitely not a bad openning act. I always enjoy a reinterpretation of songs into a new folk style.

 01 Serbia In Too Deep

They seemed to have scaled back the epicness of song; why? This is wholly underwhelming. This song is nice, but forgettable. The dancer didn’t add much other than some additional eye candy.

02 Austria Running on Air

Oh no, he sounds a bit underpitch and he’s singing with zero emotion. I also don’t understand this staging – why is there a moon? Oh no, he just botched the big note. I love this song but this is just a poor presentation of it.

03 Macedonia Dance Alone

Interesting to put the backing singers so dominatingly right at the beginning lime that. That was also a poor model walk she is doing. Her outfit is cute, though. I understand the use of the mic effect, but I can barely hear her. She is certainly selling this as hard as she can as a dance number. Ummm…..I’m just not sure how to react. Definitely a HUGE missed opportunity for Macedonia, but it might be enough to qualify.

 04 Malta Breathlessly

I don’t understand this backing scene choice. It should be black amd white images of her and her lover. Not random gifs of her singing. Really pretty dress! No one can say that her voice is not good, but this song is just so drab and boring.

05 Romania Yodel It!

I like the toy soldiers. The cannons look cool – but I don’t know why they’re there. Oh! That’s why — pretty cool. As much as I dislike this song, it is, so far, the strongest performance tonight — by a mile.

06 The Netherlands Lights and Shadows

Oh! Love those outfits! Oh my goodness, they sound amazing hitting those harmonies! Honestly, I was expecting their outfits to turn white during the climax towards the end. Very good – definite qualifier, I think.

 07 Hungary Origo

 He seems to be going a bit fast amd is a bit ahead of the beat. But things seemed to habe caught up with the violin. Cool! Was not expecting the flames. I don’t what it is, but the camerawork just seems — not good – they should have goven the producers better camera choreography to work with. It doesn’t help that he looks so uncomfortable on stage.

08 Denmark Where I Am

Why does her voice sound weird? Did they leave a mic effect on? She seems out of breath as well, like she can’t quite fully support her singing. She hit that big note, though! Too much backing singer on this performance; I hope they turn them down for Saturday.

09 Ireland Dying to Try

Why the hot air balloon? Oh, missed a note there. He’s so adorable, though. Uh oh. He missed that big note. And just barely made the biggest one. Disappointing. This is one of my favorite songs this year and this performance is just flat.

10 San Marino Spirit of the Night

What are they wearing?! Why are they so sparkly?! They have really good chemistry together. Despite the fact tat this is a fairly dated sounding disco-track, given the quality of performances tonight, it has a legit chance to qualify. I think my friend called this the “song of a thousand key changes” — most definitely. They at least nailed them all.

Man, San Marino had a black American guy and now Croatia has a big guy, it’s like Eurovision producers wanted me to feel particularly represented on stage.

11 Croatia My Friend

Oh my goodness, this turning back and forth is silly. As is that glove he is wearing. He sounds good, though. Bad song, but well performed.

–sorry for the interruption, my town is under tornado warning and I had to take shleter– 

**All clear! Picking up where we left off.

12 Norway Grab the Moment

I like the camera effects and how digitized he looks during the refrain and his face is featured on the screen. I know the desire to keep it simple is tempting, but I wish they had added a bit more dynamic elements to the staging, particularly to the climax at the end.

13 Switzerland Apollo

LOVE the dress, hate the hair. Her voice seems to be dancing in the edge of in tune and out of it. I feel the same as I did after Macedonia, just a huge missed opportunity. Maybe enough to qualify, maybe not.

14 Belarus Historyja Majho Žyccia

Love the wite and blue aesthetic! They started off a bit shaky, but their voices leveled out. Some much energy and fun – fireworks!! That screen is fun and that’s a huge crowd reaction!

Time for this year’s youngest competitor and my predicted winner:

14 Bulgaria Beautiful Mess

Love this overhead shot during the first verse! He gets a bit off pitch during the refrain. Love the interplay between the camera, the special effects, the background, and the lyrics – beautifully staged! As good as that was, not sure I’d rate that higher than Portugal’s performance Tuesday. I’ll be interested to see what happens Saturday night when thy can go head-to-head.

16 Lithuania Rain of Revolution

I see they are reproducing their national final performance… includingn that terrible hairstyle. They should have invested in actual spark showers. The animated ones just don’t have the same effect. And, honestly, coming after a song like Bulgaria only makes this, with its super-synthesized instrumentation, sound a bit fake and dated.

17 Estonia Verona

Mic issues! I wonder if they will deemed bad enough to call for a second performance. Vocal issues! I wonder if they will be bad enough to stop this from qualifying. I do love the camera effect making it look like they were on two completely different stages throughout the first verse and bridge. They don’t seem to have much chemistry; maybe that’s why they barely interact with each other throughout the performance. I know this is a big fan favorite, but I remain unimpressed.

18 Israel I Feel Alive

He knows how to work a camera! Which, I guess takes away from his weak vocals. The staging was a lot of fun — quite dazzling.

My Top Ten from tonight

  1. The Netherlands
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Croatia
  4. Norway
  5. Belarus
  6. Denmark
  7. Israel
  8. San Marino
  9. Switzerland
  10. Romania

Who I think will qualify (in no particular order)

  • Romania
  • Denmark
  • Bulgaria
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • Belarus
  • Switzerland
  • Serbia
  • Estonia
  • Norway

Voting Sequence EntertainmentMore Verka (Ukraine 2007 and probably one of the modt popular entries to date)! And yay for talking to fans 🙂

Interval Act

The dancing is really cool. I never know quite what to make of it, but it’s certainly interesting and much appreciated.

A marriage proposal for Jana from Macedonia!!! Awwwww

Our Automatic Qualifiers

  • France – whoa! All the spinning is dizzying, which I guess is the point.
  • Germany – why is she in a dress that matches the background. She’s just going to get lost in the production. Maybe Germany is aimig to break Norway’s most last places record?
  • Ukraine – that head is CREEPY!!! It looks like a possessed baby doll. 

Now, on the results! Our ten qualifiers are:

  • Bulgaria! Woot, woot – we could legitimately be heading to Sofia next year (1 for 1 in my predictions)
  • Belarus – well deserved! (2 for 2)
  • Croatia – not surprised, just didn’t think this and Belarus would both make it (2 for 3)
  • Hungary – one of my favorites, but he’s going to need a much stronger performance Saturday (and Friday) night (2 for 4)
  • Denmark – Gå Danmark!! (3 for 5)
  • Israel – no surprise here (4 for 6)
  • Romania – ugh (5 for 7)
  • Norway – good stuff (6 for 8)
  • The Netherlands – well earned, best performance of the night (7 for 9)
  • Austria – complete shocker!! (7 for 10)

Well, there you have it. Ten qualifiers. Macedonia completes its fall from grace going from big favorite to non-qualifier in six short weeks. Come back tomorrow for my full thoughts and my next podcast ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final! 

 
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Eurovision 2017 – First Semi-Final Recap and Podcast

Hello Dear Readers!

Yesterday was the First Semi-Final – which, despite all the issues in the organization, went very well! UA:PBC has, thus far, put on a great show with a beautiful stage (oh my goodness, it’s beautiful!) and fun hosts. Overall, I feel like the good from yesterday’s show outweighs the bad. First, a brief review.

Our qualifiers from last night: (in alphabetical order with their Grand Final half)

©EBU Thomas Hanses

  • Armenia (first half)

  • Australia (second)

  • Azerbaijan (first)

  • Belgium (second)

  • Cyprus (second)

  • Greece (second)

  • Moldova (first)

  • Poland (first)

  • Portugal (first)

  • Sweden (second)

The Big Five also had their drawing: Italy was drawn into the first half, while France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom join Ukraine in the second half of the show. This means there are only three spots left in the second half for qualifiers from tomorrow night’s semi-final. That plays to the benefit of Belgium and France whose primary competitors, Italy, Portugal, and Azerbaijan all take place in the first half and remaining favorites, Denmark, Bulgaria, and Romania have slim odds of getting into the later part of the show.

Some historical markers from last night:

  • Azerbaijan upholds its 100% qualification streak. Sweden extends its to seven (including its two automatic qualifications). Armenia extends its to 5. Belgium and Poland extend their qualification streaks to three.

  • Portugal’s qualification rate is now 50% since first qualification in 2008. Moldova gets its first qualification since 2013.

  • This is only the second time in history that there has not been at least one female host, the first being 1956 (the first Contest) in which Lohengrin Filipello hosted on his own. Conversely, 24 Contests have had solo women or exclusively women hosts.

My Reactions:

  • Pleasantly Surprised: Poland – I thought she sounded great last night and that song was well-staged (despite the volume issues); Portugal was amazing! I thought it was a good song before, but was absolutely taken aback by its awesomeness live yesterday

  • Disappointments: Australia – Isaiah sounded pretty off-key throughout the entire performance yesterday. Actually, many of the artists seemed off-key last night sadly. Cyprus’ staging (and subsequent qualification) were greatly disappointing.

  • Biggest Shock: Finland – a perfect performance of a perfect song with a failure to pass through to the Final.

  • Happiest Non-Surprise: Belgium – a great song and Blanche’s vulnerable performance was a good fit for the lyrics, very happy that this qualified.

So, there you have it my reactions to the First Semi-Final. Heading into tomorrow, I think that the Second Semi-Final is going to be equally as, if not more so, awesome. Hear more about mine (and my friend DIZZYDJC) below in our podcast from today!

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Eurovision 2017 – First Semi-Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!!

This year, since I cannot attend the events live, I am bringing back my live notes – written, running commentary throughout the show! Tonight, the first semi-final.


Wow, an interesting opening act. Rap music. I’m just happy they seem to be returning to the tradition of the reprise being at the start of the Grand Final.

What a beautiful stage!!

Yes, a “Euro-genius” is a great term for those of us who love and are knowledgeable about the Contest.

So, the postcards are a mix of prep and home life for the artists. Cool.

01 Sweden I Can’t Go On

Again, I don’t much care for this song. The staging is identical as Melodifestivalen‘s, per usual. He sounds fine. Why are none of them wearing socks? Pretty much exactly as expected.

02 Georgia Keep the Faith

The staging is pretty dark for a song about hope and faith. Oh! There go the lights. A little off with the pitch there. Love her dress. Hmmm….where are those backing singers hiding? Yay – fire! This performance did not reach the level of epicness that this song requires.

03 Australia Don’t Come Easy

Starting a bit shaky. Is it me or is he just under pitch? Not quite sure they went with a backing screen of infinite Isaiah’s. It doesn’t do the song justice. The backing track is too low. Yeah, he just botched the only big note he had, as the others seemed to have been removed. Underwhelming. Perhaps Australia will miss the Final this year.

04 Albania World

Why so quiet? Not a great outfit; not terrible, just not good. Yay! Backing singers getting some time in the light! That’s how you do epic — she nailed her big notes and staging did not take away from the lyrics or composition.

05 Belgium City Lights

Love her dress and the staging choices thus far. The song has a since of isolation about it, which is well represented by the camera working emphasizing her being alone on such a big stage. She looks quite scared, though. But the fans seem to love her. I like the compositional change at the end here – the chord interval between her and the backing singer is really cool.

06 Montenegro Space

I expect there to be controversy around his song. Whoo! Look at those pants! His pitch seems a bit off. Unlike Australia, the use of his image on the backing scenes fits the song well. I wonder if the EBU limited what he could do. I expected there to be a lot more sexiness to his staging.

Two corrections for the green room host: 1) So, this is NOT Ukraine’s first ESC or even Kyiv’s. It’s the second time we are here in the capital – after they hosted the 50th edition in 2005. 2) Georgia debuted in 2007. Tamara was part of the group that was disqualified in 2009.

07 Finland Blackbird

Oh! Lights throughout the audience. So, they are recreating the UMK staging. Flawless performance. Perfect staging. Beautiful song.

08 Azerbaijan Skeletons

Love the use of the blackboard with the wordcloud of the lyrics. Horsehead guy….? And the pitch issues continue — or maybe it’s the mic effect they have her using? What is she wearing, by the way? What was the point of drawing xs on the singers’ backs? That was an…interesting staging, but not quite in the way I was hoping it to be.

09 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois

His voice sounds great! Good choice to use the satellite stage, too. I would have had a piano up there with him; but this was utterly flawless.

10 Greece This is Love

Some interesting chord choices for the refrain. Fun staging and backing screen. Demy: “This is love: two hot shirtless men dancing in water!” That was fun and accomplished what it set out to do. It is definitely moving forward.

11 Poland Flashlight

Look at those heels! I like this song, but having her up so loud takes away some the mystery and intrigue of the song. She killed it though!

12 Moldova Hey, Mamma!

Surprisingly, one of the best dressed acts tonight. That was good. Fairly unremarkable – no “Epic Sax Guy” memes this year. That was fine. The song was the center of the show, which, I guess, is how it should be.

13 Iceland Paper

She’s got a huge boob window in the dress. No Illuminati earrings like in the video. I’m surprised they went with a white outfit, but I guess it’s the most drastic contrast they could go with between her and the background. And, I guess, most paper is white. She looks more like a superhero that just saved the day (perhaps Powergirl with a weave) than she does a woman broken by her love leaving her.

Epic Sac Guy playing his well-known riff.

14 Czechia My Turn

What is she wearing?! I like the walking path of light effect. This is not how I would have staged this entry — the song needed to do something to standout and they chose to try to do so through a hideous outfit. I do not think this will go well for Czechia.

15 Cyprus Gravity

More pitch problems. Hey! The backing dancers disappeared. Let me guess, they’re gonna come back while flying. Nope. Just reappeared. Wow – this staging is just one huge missed opportunity. There’s so much more they could have done.

16 Armenia Fly with Me

Awww, no giant ring of hair. Cool camera effect of having it bounce around. Nice use of strobes and fire without letting them be overwhelming. Love the flying bird at the end; what a cool effect!

17 Slovenia On My Way

They really need to do everything they can to help this song standout. Let’s see… Why is his suit so sparkly? Pitch problems in the second refrain. So, that was probably the best they could do to stage it without things getting too overwhelming, but, still a bit boring and forgettable.

18 Latvia Line

Her hair – why?!?! The backing screen is really cool. And I love the neon color scheme. I was hoping for some glow-in-the-dark effects… Nope. Those boots, though. That was much more tame of a staging than anticipated.

Why do they keep showing delegations from other countries after a performance?

My Favorite Ten from tonight

  1. Portugal

  2. Finland

  3. Armenia

  4. Albania

  5. Poland

  6. Iceland

  7. Azerbaijan

  8. Greece

  9. Belgium

  10. Latvia

Who I think will be moving through (in no particular order)

  • Sweden

  • Portugal

  • Albania

  • Latvia

  • Finland

  • Armenia

  • Greece

  • Azerbaijan

  • Belgium

  • Moldova

Voting Entertainment

Jamala! If they weren’t going to open with 1944, they needed to have just saved it for Saturday. I do like this version. But again, it should have been during the opening sequence on Saturday. Congrats to her on her marriage, though!

And – technical difficulties 😡😡😡

Interval Act

Oh! Jamala is back for the interval act! I thought they said she wouldn’t be here again until Saturday. I guess I misheard the hosts. Interesting outfits and backing screen choices. Cool song, though!

Automatic Qualifiers Previews

Spain – well, that performance sounds wholly uninspired

United Kingdom – love the infinite stars! Well staged, UK, well staged.

Italy – that was about as expected. It’s the big favorite for a reason.

Voting

Oooohhhh!!!!! Here we go!!!

Qualifiers

  • Moldova – no surprise there; I’m 1 for 1

  • Azerbaijan – cool beans! 2 for 2

  • Greece – fun, positive dance track; 3 for 3

  • Sweden – probably undeserved; 4 for 4

  • Portugal – first time in the Grand Final since 2010! 5 for 5

  • Poland – yay! Loved this song, happy it moved through; 5 for 6

  • Armenia – a favorite of mine, woot! 6 for 7

  • Australia – no, this is the most undeserved qualifier; 6 for 8

  • Cyprus – that was unexpected. Good for them; 6 for 9

  • Belgium – it would have been a huge upset if Belgium failed. 7 for 10.

So, I’m 70% accurate for the qualifiers. I’m bummed that Finland did not qualify. Sad that Sweden and Australia did. And pleasantly surprised that Poland did. Check back tomorrow for 1) my full thoughts on each qualifier and 2) my next podcast previewing the Second Semi-Final.

Thanks for watching with me!

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Happy Eurovision Week!

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we have a special treat: a collaborative podcast with my friend DizzyDJC! We’ll be recording podcasts ahead of each remaining show (so, on Wednesday and Friday) as well as on Sunday after the Contest. Join us live on his YouTube channel or catch it later on mine – either way, enjoy!

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Contender or Pretender 2017: Recap!

Hello Dear Readers!

There you have it – the ten songs that comprise the top of the betting odds at the time of starting Contender and Pretender 2017. As a recap:

Contenders:

-Belgium
-Bulgaria
-Italy

Pretenders:

-Armenia
-Australia
-Azerbaijan
-Ireland
-Portugal
-Romania
-Sweden

This may seem quite skewed, however, I truly believe that the winner will be from among Belgium, Bulgaria, and Italy. Since the start of this series, Ireland has fallen out of the top ten of the betting odds, replaced by France (who I have previously deemed as a legitimate contender).

So, in adding France to the fray, of the four contenders, who do I think will win?

Well, my opinion has not changed. I still think Bulgaria will pull out the victory this year in Kyiv, taking the Contest to Sofia for 2018.

Beautiful Mess is compelling, intricate, and heartfelt. Much more so than any of its closest competition. Italy is fun, but it will be a bit much for a lot of first time viewers. Belgium has been losing ground over the past week and will be going into the Contest on a downward trajectory. France, while beautiful and unique, just isn’t as captivating Bulgaria’s ballad. I think Bulgaria has the perfect mix of jury appeal and fan attraction to win this year.

What are your thoughts? Leave them below and/or on Twitter.

Stay tuned!! Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday I will be teaming up with DizzyDJC to bring you podcasts all throughout Eurovision Week. Stay tuned here, YouTube, or Twitter for the link to broadcasts!

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Contender or Pretender 2017: Episode Five – Armenia and Ireland

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been nearly a week already! We have reached the last two entries that are a part of this series: Armenia and Ireland! Armenia probably does not surprise many, but most are probably shocked (if not pleasantly surprised) to see Ireland make a late surge for the top ten of the betting odds going into Eurovision Week. But, does either country have what it takes to raise the crystal microphone?

Fly with Me performed by Artsvik

Why it is a contender: This song is unique with it’s varying tempos and ethnic flair. More than that, the song tells a story of trusting in love – always a popular sentiment at ESC. Furthermore, the composition is utterly captivating; each moment builds upon the last.

Why it is a pretender: The same compositional elements that make this song stand out are the same ones that can turn off viewers. The ever-shifting tempos and melodies make the song sound a bit cluttered and confused. By the end, the viewer is left trying to catch their breath.

Final Verdict: Pretender As much as I love this song, I just don’t see it captivating viewers enough to pull off a victory. I do think the juries will like it, so expect a Top Ten finish.

 

Dying to Try performed by Brendan Murray

Why it is a contender: Murray’s voice is certainly unique and it helps that he is rather adorable. The song is also something that many can relate to; it’s a love song with a heavy dose of reality.

Why it is a pretender: Murray’s voice isn’t for everyone. The composition is also not inherently interesting; subtly is rarely appreciated at Eurovision.

Final Verdict: Pretender I think this song will qualify for the Final. But there will be the eventual comparison between this and the other two young, male ballads – Australia and Bulgaria – and I just don’t think that this will stand up to those two in the minds of viewers seeing these songs for the first time at the Grand Final.

 

So, will Armenia build upon its recent success? Or will it just be too much for viewers? Conversely, will Ireland spark a new era of domination? Or will it be not enough for viewers? Leave your thoughts below and/or on Twitter!

Missed the previous episodes of Contender or Pretender? Click here to find them!

Check back later for the wrap of the series and my updated prediction for next week’s winner!

 

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Contender or Pretender 2017: Episode Four – Azerbaijan and Sweden

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we examine two powers of the Contest: Azerbaijan and Sweden, both of whom have won the Contest within the past six years (and the only ones in this series to have won in the past twenty years). While Sweden has consistently been performing towards the top since missing the Final in 2010 (it has since finished in the Top Ten five out of six times, including two victories since then), Azerbaijan appeared to have lost its groove, failing to return to the Top Ten in each of the past three Contests. This year, both countries find themselves in serious contention for the Eurovision crown – will either past winner taste glory once again?

Azerbaijan

Skeletons performed by DiHaj

Why it is a contender: Haunting, catchy, and easily accessible; probably the most popular Azerbaijani entry since 2013. We know that, when it wants to, Azerbaijan puts on a staging unlike any other. This year, they’re ready to return to the Top Ten.

Why it is a pretender: DiHaj’s aesthetic can be a bit much – so there is the potential for the staging to go too far and turn people off. The bigger danger, though, is the performance. This is a good pop song, but does DiHaj have the live vocals to carry it above all the other high quality entries this year?

Final Verdict: Pretender Despite the potential for a stunning stage show, I just am not confident that this song will translate to a live performance on the ESC stage. While this song sounds radio ready, I don’t know if it’s unique enough to bump off the more memorial entries, like Italy or Belgium.

Sweden

I Can’t Go On performed by Robin Bengtsson

Why it is a contender: Well, it’s Sweden. For better or worse, Sweden is always included in the conversation regarding possible winners during the current era of the Contest. This song has a slick staging (staging is rarely, if ever, changed between Melodifestivalen and ESC) and is ridiculously catchy.

Why it is a pretender: While it is catchy, it is also rather simple, to the point of being borderline annoying. Not to mention the many families watching will probably not be too happy about his choice of words in the refrain. I know I, personally, have difficulty singing “freaking beautiful” instead of using some other language and I am not one to use curse words.

Final Verdict: Pretender For a song with this much hype and potential, I find it interesting that the producers stuck it first in the running order in its semi-final. I also think that, for the majority of viewers, this song will simply be too annoying to reward with points. I think, like Romania, this is another entry that has a high likelihood of flopping in the Grand Final.

Are you tired of Sweden’s recent domination? Are you excited that Azerbaijan is finally back in the conversation for victory? Are you just waiting for tomorrow’s examinations of Armenia and Ireland? Leave a comment below or on Twitter!

Missed the previous episodes? Find the table of contents here!
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2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode Three – Portugal and Belgium

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we look at probably the two most surprising members of the Top Ten betting odds, Belgium (who has been doing fairly well in recent years) and Portugal, who, as far as I know, has never been in the top ten of the betting odds going into Eurovision week. Two very different songs that both stand out from the crowd, but, does either have what it takes to win?

Portugal

Amar pelos Dois performed by Salvador Sobral

Why it is a contender: A heartfelt ballad that sounds like it was dropped from the 1940s. This is a high quality composition with a gentle performance that helps it transcend its simple lyrics. Portugal is the perpetual underdog and has the support of a big swath of the fandom behind it.

Why it is a pretender: Only nine times has Portugal ever reached the Top Ten, the most recent of which, 1996, was its highest placing: 6th place. History’s arrow does not seem to be pointing in Portugal’s direction. Not to mention, for many casual viewers and those that turn to Eurovision for vapid schlager, this slow ballad will be more chore than enjoyment.

Final Verdict: Pretender While I commend Portugal for sending a truly artistic song, but it’s just too simple to win. I think Portugal may have a legitimate shot at the Top Ten, but lacks the power to overcome more memorable ballads or the outshine the up-tempo numbers.

Belgium

City Lights performed by Blanche

Why it is a contender: This is perhaps the most unique of the EDM-inspired entries this year. Blanche’s deep voice makes her standout from all the other female singers and delicateness of the song will help give it broader appeal. The song is also catchy without being repetitive.

Why it is a pretender: It’s unique, but is it too unique? Depending on its staging and how its start position, this song could seem too weird to too different to make a real impact in the minds of televoters.

Final Verdict: Contender This song simply stand out in a positive way. I think the juries will also take to it quite strongly given how rare it is to hear a solo pop singer with such a low voice sing so well. I think the composition is captivating enough to linger in the minds of viewers and jurors alike throughout the night.

Hmm, Belgium at one point was towards the top of the betting odds, not it’s floating around the tenth spot. Portugal has solidly been sitting in the top five since mid-March. It will be interesting to see how these songs do in Kyiv. You thoughts?

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2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode Two – Bulgaria and Italy

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we look at the top two songs in the betting odds, Bulgaria and Italy! One is a perennial favorite returning to form after a brief stumble last year, the other is finally coming into its own after many years of languishing in the semi-finals. But, does either have what it takes to actually win?

Bulgaria

Beautiful Mess performed by Kristian Kostov

Why it is a contender: A beautiful, haunting ballad powerfully performed well by a young, cute singer. The lyrics are intriguing and the composition is gripping. What’s more, the song generates a feeling of longing within the listener.

Why it is a pretender: It’s not the most exciting ballad this year, as the climax of the song does not particularly stand out. Not to mention that Bulgaria rarely, if ever, stages its songs properly. If the music video is any indication, we will witness a trite, uninspired stage show.

Final Verdict: Contender If you read my initial reactions to this year’s songs, you’ll know that I picked this song to win. Thus far, I have yet to see a reason strong enough to change that thought. With that said, BNT still needs to come through with an amazing staging to hold off other contenders.

Italy

Occidentali’s Karma performed by Francesco Gabbani

Why it is a contender: This is a fun, catchy song that challenges us intellectually. Italian seems to be a favorable language in garnering votes. Not to mention that Gabbani seems to be a serious contender, having won San Remo and looking to win Eurovision.

Why it is a pretender: For the average Eurovision viewer (aka, the televoting masses), this song might seem a bit odd – particularly with its dancing gorilla. Even if the staging is kept close to its original, it might be a bit too much for most casual viewers.

Final Verdict: Contender This song is catchy, interesting, and very unique. Italy is poised for victory soon and this just might be their year. It would be great for a fully non-English song to win (the last time that happened was 2007) as it would hopefully spur other countries to utilize their national languages next year.

Come back tomorrow to check out Portugal and Belgium!
Also, don’t miss our recently published news updates.
Missed yesterday’s reviews of Australia and Romania? Never fear! They’re right here!

 

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2017 Contender or Pretender!

Hello Dear Readers!

First, in the event that you missed last week’s post, here are my initial thoughts concerning the songs that I think have a legitimate shot at winning this year in Kyiv. This also included this year’s bracket for ESC Obsession’s Annual Eurovision Tournament.

ESC 2017 Tournament

And, if you are curious, here is my personal bracket based solely on my personal preferences.

Second, we come to our yearly Contender or Pretender series, where we look at the top ten countries in the betting odds and access whether they have a realistic chance of winning (contender) or if they are merely names without foundations (pretender). I took the top ten countries and randomly sorted them.

You’ll see them in this order:

Day One: Australia and Romania

Day Two: Bulgaria and Italy

Day Three: Portugal and Belgium

Day Four: Azerbaijan and Sweden

Day Five: Armenia and Ireland

Some notes: It has been interesting watching the movement in the betting odds. Per usual, Sweden and Italy are in the top ten. Azerbaijan seems to be back in the good graces of ESC while Armenia has made its typical late-season push towards the top of the odds. As shocking as it is to see countries like Belgium (perhaps, though, not so much after finishing in the top twelve in three out of the past four years), Portugal (when was the last time they were among the top in the betting odds?), and Bulgaria, I think the most shocking are Ireland and Australia. Both started in the low teens back in March (once all the songs were known). Both sneaked up the rankings while others slipped (France, Denmark, Greece, and Hungary are the next four, all of which were once in the top ten). Interestingly, Macedonia seems to have fallen the farthest; reaching about seventh in the betting odds before following to the low teens.

Stayed tuned! Each day this week, we’ll cover each of the ten entries at the top of the betting odds; analyzing their potential, identifying their shortcomings, and providing a verdict.

 

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) — Recap!

Eurovision Obsession logo

Hello Dear Readers!

So, there you have it, my initial thoughts on the 2017 Eurovision field of entries. It was hard this year to choose top contenders, so many songs sound similar and parceling out those that were stronger from the weak wasn’t easy. Amongst those that sound different, I’ve tried to identify which ones were memorable for the right reasons. Below is my first prediction for 2017’s Top Ten and winner!

As of right now, I predict that the following songs will be in the Top Ten (in alphabetical order):

  • Armenia – it’s dazzling and intriguing; captivating and unique.

  • Azerbaijan – a return to form and powerful pop song

  • Belgium – unique, current, and incredibly popular

  • Bulgaria – the strongest ballad this year

  • Denmark – stands out with its R&B sound

  • France –  even better than last year, very French, yet still accessible

  • Italy – certainly one of the smarter entries in ESC history, very entertaining, too

  • Macedonia – this year’s strongest entry from the former Yugoslav

  • Poland – dark and stirring, will outperform expectations for sure

  • Sweden – well-done schlager with a flashy stage routine

With that said, who do I think will contend for the title of ESC victor? Well, so far, my thoughts have not yet changed.

Denmark, Bulgaria, France

Denmark
Anja has an amazing voice and the song is well composed. However, R&B does have a dicey history at the Contest. Will the audience be able to get behind this song, even though it strays from the traditional pop style?

Bulgaria
Perfectly capturing the styling of the modern ballad, Bulgaria brings its most competitive entry to date. However, Kristian Kostov, while supremely vocally-talented, is one of the youngest performers this year, I wonder if he has the stage presence to convey this kind of song. Will Bulgaria be able to build on its success from last year by putting together a useful staging and promotional work?

France
An intriguing entry that does a strong job of displaying the French aesthetic without scaring those who are non-French. However, this song requires a well done staging, and we all know that is most definitely NOT France’s department. Can Alma guide the production process enough to ensure that the song presentation is both meaningful and enjoyable without it becoming a distraction?

Ultimately, if I had to choose one song right now as the winner. I would choose…

Bulgaria! Ultimately, I think Kostov has the look, sound, and stage presence to aptly perform this haunting – yet relatable – ballad. The music is stirring, yet not overly complex and the lyrics are captivating without being inaccessible. And, without Russia around, there will be more points up for grabs, particularly for those from Slavic backgrounds. Though, this song will definitely appeal to Westerners as well.

I definitely look forward to diving deeper into these entries, commentary, and internet buzz. Even more than that, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below or catch up with me on Twitter!

 

Once again, ESC Obsession has created a Eurovision Tournament Bracket for you! Forty-two songs enter, only one can survive. Seeded by their current betting odds, this bracket sets up a series of duels until one song comes out on top. Whether you want to think about the competition in a new way, compare your picks with friends, or simply are having trouble determining your favorite entry this year – the bracket is for you! Feel free to download it, feel it out, share it around. Post about it here and/or Reddit! I’ll post mine next week.

ESC 2017 Tournament

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – Automatic Qualifiers

Hello Dear Readers!

Only six more reviews for this year! Among the Big Five, there seems to be a sharp divide between title contenders and bottom-dwellers.

Automatic Qualifiers

 

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection*

 

Ukraine

O.Torvald

Time

Televised

Thoughts:

This will benefit from being the only rock song this year and the hometown entry. I think the song is alright, but definitely distinctive. I don’t think it will get in the Top Ten, but will definitely outperform the 19th place Ukraine got back in 2005 (the last time we were in Kyiv).

 France

Alma

Requiem

Internal

Thoughts:

So whimsical! I rather enjoy this song and could definitely help France repeat in the Top Ten (and possibly, dare I say, contend for the crown!). The splash of English in the refrain is just the right amount, much like last year. Though, if France is serious about winning, than it needs to ensure to give Requiem the staging it deserves (as I’ve discussed previously).

 Germany

Levina

Perfect Life

Televised

Thoughts:

Germany followed my recommendation to return to the original Ünser Star format. Ultimately, after defeating other contenders, Levina competed against herself with two songs in the final show’s super-final. This one is cheerful, but not all that interesting. Won’t be last place, but definitely not going to win.

Italy

Francesco Gabbani

Occidentali’s Karma [Westerner’s Karma]

Televised

Thoughts:

A thoroughly intellectual song (give the lyrics a read) about the futility of Westerners trying to adapt Eastern customs that are at odds with Western values. I think the song is okay, but in just the brief glimpses of what I’ve seen online, this is a heavy favorite to win right now.

Spain

Manel Navarro

Do it for Your Lover

Televised

Thoughts:

Another controversy for a Spanish entry (this is the jury’s favorite and went against the fan’s favorite). This song is…very California…and lazy…and lame. It’s overly repetitive to the point of being boring.

United Kingdom

Lucie Jones

Never Give You Up on You

Televised

Thoughts:

Probably the most popular (among the British) entry in at least a decade. It’s a bit drab and uninspired to me, but at least it’s another contemporary song despite last year’s stumble. It sounds like it could be a radio hit.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The examples of that this year are Armenia, Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel and Armenia had televised shows to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

So, who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? How would I rank these songs?

Predicted Top Ten Finishers
(In alphabetical order)

My Top 6
(Starting with my most favorite)

France

France

Italy

Germany

Ukraine

Italy

United Kingdom

Spain

More importantly, who do I think will be competing for the crown?

France – Probably my favorite song this year, this song will most definitely build upon last year’s success – especially if it is given a proper staging. This song is distinctly French, yet still accessible. It is catchy and fun and whimsical without seeming childish or simple.

Italy – The other big fan favorite along with Belgium, thus far. Interesting staging, intelligent lyrics, and sung in the much-loved Italian language. And, unlike several other Italian performers, Gabbani actually seems like he wants to win and bring the Contest back to Italy (maybe they’ll host it in Milan or Palermo this time around).

Missed by previous review posts? Find them here:

First Semi-Final: First Half, Second Half

Second Semi-Final: First Half, Second Half

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see my summary post and get my first prediction for who will ultimately win in May.

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – Second Semi-Final, Second Half

Hello Dear Readers!

It was incredibly difficult for me to narrow this down to just ten songs I think will progress to the Final. In this regard, Russia’s quitting made things a little easier for me.

Belarus

Naviband

Historya Majho Žyccia

[Story of My Life]

Televised

Thoughts:

A great folksy song and one of the few not in English. I’ve loved it from my first listen, I think that it’s such a fun song to sing along to. I think there’s enough non-lyrics that everyone can sing along without having to speak Belorussian.

Bulgaria

Kristian Kostov

Beautiful Mess

Internal

Thoughts:

Such a powerful voice from such a young guy! A great ballad that maintains its sensitivity without getting boring. I like it more and more each time I listen to it. I particularly enjoy the composition and how it continually pushes us through the song.

Croatia

Jacques Houdek

My Friend

Internal

Thoughts:

Definitely an original piece. I think that it’s…interesting. The composition is definitely stirring. The singing is well done. The lyrics are uplifting. The choice to mix English and Italian in this way…interesting.

Estonia

Koit Toome & Laura

Verona

Televised

Thoughts:

A well-done ballad that is well delivered by Koit Toome and Laura. A song about a love turning sour (but hopefully not tragic). It’s definitely a bit more unique, but I’m still on the fence about its chances. It has widespread appeal without sounding overly generic, so, I want to err on it doing better than one would expect.

Israel

Imri

I Feel Alive

Mixed

Thoughts:

A fun dance tune. It’s in danger of being loss in the mix of things because it’s not overly distinctive. However, Imri seems like a really fun performer and has had to battle for this opportunity longer than most thanks to Israel’s selection process this year. There’s definitely hope, yet!

Lithuania

Fusedmarc

Rain of Revolution

Televised

Thoughts:

I think this is a song about undergoing a personal revolution – changing for the better along life’s journey. It’s certainly interesting and unlike any other song this year. It’s a bit weird, but intriguing, but will not make the Final.

Norway

JOWST feat. Aleksander Walmann

Grab the Moment

Televised

Thoughts:

I really like this song, but maybe it’s a bit too contemporary to succeed. The composition is quite textured; the song is infinitely interesting musically. I also love the lyrics about transcending that internal negative voice that holds us back in life.

San Marino

Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson

Spirit of the Night

Internal

Thoughts:

When the rest of the Contestants step forward into club, San Marino returns full-scale to the discotheque. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy Monetta is back — and I am always happy when an American takes the stage. However, why give two jazz singers a disco song?

Switzerland

Timebelle

Apollo

Televised

Thoughts:

Switzerland has sent a compelling pop tune that sounds like it came off the radio and into the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s not my particular favorite, but it’s a good song. And, more importantly, it’s a strong, competitive song.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The only examples of that this year are Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel had a televised show to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

So, who do I think will qualify from this semi-final? What are my favorite songs?

Predicted Qualifiers
(In alphabetical order)

My Top 10
(Starting with my most favorite)

Bulgaria

Hungary

Denmark

Ireland

Estonia

Denmark

Hungary

Bulgaria

Israel

Norway

Macedonia

Belarus

The Netherlands

Austria

Norway

The Netherlands

Serbia

Serbia

Switzerland

San Marino

More importantly, who do I think, from the Second Semi-Final, will be competing for the crown?

Well, overall, I think that this is the stronger of the two semi-finals. With that said, I think that three songs have the ability to seriously contend for the victors’ trophy.

Denmark – Powerful, R&B-esque ballad performed powefully by a popular, pretty singer. I think this song has all the components needed for victory – strong melody, interesting lyrics, well-designed staging, and flawless performance (if DMGP is anything to go by).

Bulgaria – The best ballad this year, by a long shot! With the release of the music video, my hopes for this song have gone down some; hopefully the staging does not mirror the music video. I think Kostov may actually have the stage presence to bring the Contest to Sofia.

In addition to these songs, I think that Macedonia will find itself in the Top Ten for the first time ever and Switzerland will return to the Top Ten for the first time since 2005 come Saturday night.

Find the other reviews from this year here!

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – Second Semi-Final, First Half

Hello Dear Readers!

Our second semi-final. Sadly, Russia has decided to not participate this year due to…all the political things. This is sad because 1) I always hate to see a country withdraw and 2) I loved Flame is Burning. Oh well, such is life. It does open up one more qualifier spot in this competitive semi-final (as Russia always qualifies). Again, song reviews are in alphabetical order because…I’m lazy.

Second Semi-Final

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection*

 

Austria

Nathan Trent

Running on Air

Internal

Thoughts:

A lovely, upbeat song that can’t help make one feel happy when listening to it. Honestly, it’s such a simple song. It’s only shot at making the final, though, is probably on the back of Trent’s charisma — cute boys tend to do well.

 

Denmark

Anja

Where I Am

Televised

Thoughts:

See my Live Notes on DMGP 2017 for my full thoughts on this entry. It’s a strong entry that will not only make it to the Final, but will most likely end in the Top Ten.

 

Hungary

Joci Pápai

Origo [Origin]

Televised

Thoughts:

This song is one of the most unique, not just this year, but this decade. It’s dark one of the few that follows in the footsteps of 1944, mysterious and about a serious issue (this focuses on the prevailing racism, particularly against the Romani peoples), but this has a message of hope (and faith!).

 

Ireland

Brendan Murray

Dying to Try

Internal

Thoughts:

Such an intriguing voice and such a sweet song. The sentiment of the lyrics is definitely one with which I can relate. While it seems like a love song, it’s truly more of a song of loneliness and longing. I want nothing more than for this song to win; unfortunately, this semi-final is too strong and this song just is not captivating enough, especially being in the first half of the show. It could very well be the beneficiary of Russia’s withdrawal.

 

Macedonia

Jana Burčeska

Dance Alone

Internal

Thoughts:

A catchy song about being happy on one’s own. While I have preferred most of Macedonia’s other entries, this one isn’t bad. To me, it’s a bit generic, but fun. Macedonian fans will be happy to be back in the Grand Final and, possibly, in the Top Ten for the first time.

 

Malta

Claudia Faniello

Breathlessly

Televised

Thoughts:

A powerfully sung ballad. However, unlike in previous years where this kind of entry would make a significant impact, this year, it comes off as a bit boring and dated. I’m sure Faniello will give a stunning performance; I just don’t think this song is captivating enough to get it to the Final.

 

The Netherlands

O’G3NE

Lights and Shadows

Internal

Thoughts:

Alternatively, whereas Malta sounds a bit dated (old-fashioned in a bad way), the Dutch entry sounds “vitange” – that is, old-fashioned in a good way. Their harmonies are tight, the lyrics are inspirational, and the composition is catchy.

 

Romania

Ilinca feat. Alex Florea

Yodel It!

Televised

Thoughts:

Ugh. Probably my least favorite song this year. Let’s see, yodeling doesn’t do well at Eurovision (just ask Austria 2005). Nor does rap (just ask UK 2006 or Finland 2009). I presume that, since we’re talking about Romania, two wrongs will indeed make a right; unless Romania becomes the next country to have its 100% qualification streak snapped.

Serbia

Tijana Bogićević

In Too Deep

Internal

Thoughts:

A powerful song that is unique and intriguing! I imagine there will be silk dancers to further the aesthetic from the music video. I think, though, as I have listened through the songs over and over, this is one that I continually forget – despite its power. It will make the Final, but I think it will do surprisingly little.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The examples of that this year are Armenia, Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel and Armenia had televised shows to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

Find the other reviews from this year here!

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – First Semi-Final, Second Half

Hello Dear Readers!

Ready for part two of semi-final one? Below the table are my predictions for qualifiers out of this semi-final! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Armenia

Artsvik

Fly with Me

Internal

Thoughts:

Armenia was the final one to reveal its song – and it was worth the wait! Dark, complex, and takes us on an auditory journey. Heavily influenced by Armenian folk tunes and style, the song ultimately ends on a hopeful note. Love it!

Cyprus

Hovig

Gravity

Internal

Thoughts:

In recent years past, I would have thought this was a sure candidate for victory. However, in a year that is full of this style of music, it gets lost in the shuffle. I like it a lot and think it has a great beat; not much faith it will do much, still on the fence about its chances to make the Final.

Czechia

Martina Bárta

My Turn

Internal

Thoughts:

Another example of a great song that just doesn’t stand out from the crowd of entries this year. I think Czechia’s (note, the legislature voted last year to make the official English name “Czechia”) best hope is to dominate the jury show with a large enough lead to make the Final.

Greece

Demy

This is Love

Mixed

Thoughts:

This song, to me, is quite generic! It’s fun and uplifting, however, so there’s that. Aside from the positivity, there’s not much to this song, unfortunately. Will it reverse Greece’s fortune and return it to the Final? Yes! Will it do much once it gets there? Nope.

Iceland

Svala

Paper

Televised

Thoughts:

I’m not sure what to make of this song. I like it, but it’s a bit odd. I’m not sure if it has mass appeal, especially since it’s in the same vein as Norway from last year. A song that seemed popular but fell flat. I think it depends on whether the staging is engaging without being overwhelming.

Latvia

Triana Park

Line

Televised

Thoughts:

I really like this song, but am not sure why. It’s not too different from Iceland, but there’s a bit more of an edge here that Paper lacks. Like Iceland, however, I worry that Line doesn’t have the mass appeal to attract enough votes from either the juries or the televote to progress to the Final.

Moldova

SunStroke Project

Hey, Mamma!

Televised

Thoughts:

SunStroke Project returns (this time without Olia Tira) to produce another viral Saxophone-Guy meme with this catchy, but trashy, song. Actually, the song isn’t so much trashy as the video is. Other than that, this song is so danceable!!

Poland

Kasia Moś

Flashlight

Televised

Thoughts:

This song is unassuming, mysterious, and intriguing. I think it could be a true dark horse this year; given that the vocal performance is strong, of course. I think this might be one of my favorite compositions from this year.

Slovenia

Omar Naber

On My Way

Televised

Thoughts:

I loved Naber’s 2005 song, Stop. This year’s song…not so much. I don’t dislike it as much as I think it’s a bit boring. As much as I want Slovenia to do well, it won’t be with this song. In fact, I’m afraid it might finish last in the semi-final.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The examples of that this year are Armenia, Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel and Armenia had televised shows to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

 

So, who do I think will qualify from this semi-final? What are my favorite songs?

Predicted Qualifiers
(In alphabetical order)

My Top 10
(Starting with my most favorite)

Armenia

Armenia

Australia

Albania

Azerbaijan

Latvia

Belgium

Portugal

Cyprus

Finland

Finland

Poland

Greece

Azerbaijan

Moldova

Iceland

Poland

Moldova

Sweden

Czechia

More importantly, who do I think, from the First Semi-Final, will be competing for the crown?

Well, overall, I think that this is the weaker of the two semi-finals. With that said, I think that two songs have the ability to seriously contend for the victors’ trophy.

Belgium – Probably the most popular song on Youtube rankings; it will be interesting to see how this song fares in the OGAE fan poll. This song is super-contemporary and stands out from the crowd. It has a very captivating melody and Blanche has a mesmerizing voice.

Poland – This has real potential to be a dark horse in this year’s Contest. It’s dark, mysterious, and will get a fantastic boost if staged properly. As long as the performance is competent, it will have a legitimate chance to contend for the win.

In addition to these three songs, I think that Sweden and Armenia will find themselves back in the Top Ten come Saturday night.

Check back tomorrow for Semi-Final Two
Find the other reviews from this year here!

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – First Semi-Final, First Half

Hello Dear Readers!

Here are my reviews for the first half of the first semi-final. I have kept them in alphabetical order because, frankly, I had written this before the running order was revealed and do not really have the time to reorder everything. Overall, I think this semi-final is the weaker of the two. However, there are some real gems that, sadly, I do not think will make the Final.

First Semi-Final, First Half

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection*

 

Albania

Lindita

World

Televised

Thoughts:

So epic! So powerfully sung! Still not 100% sure what she is saying; honestly, she could have left it in Albanian without much difference. Love the song – but it probably will not get Albania back to the Final.

 

Australia

Isaiah

Don’t Come Easy

Internal

Thoughts:

A well-done ballad; Australia once again brings a strong entry. However, I do not think this will continue its uphill trajectory of success (i.e., it’s not going to win). Will definitely make the Final, but it will be a stretch to see it in the Top Ten.

 

Azerbaijan

Dihaj

Skeletons

Internal

Thoughts:

A dazzling number. It definitely sounds more conventional than Dihaj’s more experimental look and sound, but still a great number. It’s been a long time since Azerbaijan wowed us with a stunning staging. I am thinking this might bring that back (as well as Azerbaijan’s place in the Top Ten).

 

Belgium

Blanche

City Lights

Internal

Thoughts:

Already a heavy favorite, this is definitely another side of the contemporary sound. I really like it, though, not quite sure I’m seeing it as a winner just yet. Blanche’s voice is definitely unique; not too often you hear a female singer’s voice be quite that deep which might be a big part of her appeal.

 

Finland

Norma John

Blackbird

Televised

Thoughts:

Haunting, simply haunting. Each time I hear this song, I like it more and more. Her voice is so captivating and the arrangement perfectly captures the lyrics. I wonder how it would sound in Finnish…

 

Georgia

Tamara Gachechiladze

Keep the Faith

Televised

Thoughts:

This song delivers a powerful message that is well sung. However, it comes off a bit self-important and I predict a lot of controversy around the staging come April. I do like the song, but think it has little chance to make it to the Final.

 

Montenegro

Slavko Kalević

Space

Internal

Thoughts:

When people ask me for a good example of “gay pop,” I can now point to this song. And, if you’re curious as to what makes this “gay pop” – here is my rationale: the composition is a dance track with a disco feel (plus disco trumpets!) and, even more so, the erotic nature of the lyrics and music video. With that said, I think the song is a good club track, but a poor competition piece.

 

Portugal

Salvador Sobral

Amar Pelos Dois [Love for Both of Us]

Televised

Thoughts:

A lovely, understated ballad. My initial thought was that it could stand out in this field of EDM and power ballads; however, I just don’t think Sobral has the stage presence nor is the composition enchanting enough to make much impact.

 

Sweden

Robin Bengtsson

I Can’t Go On

Televised

Thoughts:

I like to think of this as discount-Måns Zelmerlöw. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is very well done schlager. But not much more than that. Even with a slick staging, this will merely be another Swedish Top Ten song that doesn’t really challenge for victory.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The examples of that this year are Armenia, Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel and Armenia had televised shows to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

What are your thoughts on these songs? My outlook is fairly bleak on most of them, but I’ve been surprised by semi-final results before. Just see my reactions to ANY of the semi-finals on this blog over the years (this is ESC Obsession’s 8th Contest!).

Find the other reviews from this year here!

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Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017 – Live Notes

Image result for dansk melodi grand prix 2017

So, had to wait about two weeks after the event, but never fear – I did not watch it nor did I know who won. Luckily, DR broke tradition and made DMGP amazingly easy to find and watch. For those who are new, DMGP works quite simply. DR (Danmarks Radio, the Danish broadcaster that competes in Eurovision) selects ten songs after an open cattle-call for entries; typically, the ten chosen entries tend to be from professional producers and singers (though, every so often, an independent artist or producer makes it onto the show). All ten songs compete in a televised Final; the three songs with the highest combined score between the jury and televotes move on to a super-final. The winner is the song with the highest percentage of the combined televote and jury score. Typically, the jury is comprised of previous performers and producers. This year, they decided to use five super-fans of DMGP/ESC to create the jury.

These are my notes from watching DMGP 2017 for the first time (having not heard the songs ahead of time). I’m trying something new this year, instead of just using generic comments to sum up my thoughts, I’m scoring each song according to the four aspects that make for a strong ESC entry: composition (the music), lyrics (the words), staging (how the song is presented), and performance (how well the singers and dancers do). I will rate songs on a scale from 1 to 5 within each dimension.

Okay, I think that’s everything – on to the show!

 

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017

We are back in Herning for DMGP – the first thing that strikes me is how much the production has been scaled down this year. Is that screen even LED? A few years ago, Herning hosted an amazing event; this year looks more like the DMGPs of old, back when they were forgettable. So, Dansevise is one of my all-time favorite entries and I love that they have the competing artists perform it together. Great message of unity and a strong callback to Denmark’s storied history. Actually, the hosts make it quite clear that DMGP this year is entirely focused on returning Denmark to its former glory. DK, with three victories (1963, 2000, 2013) and Grand Final qualifications from 2008 through 2014 (including four Top Ten finishes), has been one of the most successful countries in recent years. However, Denmark has failed to reach the Grand Final of ESC each of the last two Contests, and has finished towards the bottom of its semi-final both times. DR is being explicitly clear: they want Denmark to be successful again at all costs (I guess, the reduced DMGP budget is to save up for a bigger production in Kyiv).

They’re interviewing the jury now; they’ve been sequestered in their own room (as opposed to sitting by the stage). I like the notion of using fans instead of professionals; though, I wish they had a more diverse (in terms of age and gender) panel. Eurovision fans come from a wide variety of backgrounds, if the goal is to find a song that appeals to everyone and will do well, then DR needs a more representative panel of persons.

Anyway, on to the songs!

Song #1. One performed by Ida Una

Ugh – a peace song – and a trite one at that. It’s simple, but not catchy, It’s trying to be modern, but comes off a but immature in its overall sound. The staging is decent, at least. Though, her singing is not the best.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 4            Performance: 2

Average: 3 (out of 5) Squarely average – sounds about right. I would think this song has an uphill climb to get to the superfinal.

Song #2. Vesterbro performed by Thomas Ring

Whoo! A Danish-language song (there always tends to be one), probably won’t win because of it (the Danes have not selected a Danish-language song since 2005). I think it’s a great song; actually, I’ve encountered this before on YouTube without realizing it was a part of DMGP. Unlike the preceding entry, this song successfully achieves a mature, modern sound.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 3            Performance: 4

Average: 3.5 I don’t think the staging was enough to get it through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets to the superfinal.

Song #3. Color My World performed by Rikke Skytte

Definitely a lot of thought went into the staging for this one. It makes a simplistic song seem more artistic than it probably is. By “simple song,” I mean that the composition doesn’t really do much and that the lyrics are fairly weak.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 5            Performance: 4

Average: 3.5 Definitely the strongest entry thus far, but the night is still early.

Song #4. Where I Am performed by Anja

Another heavily produced composition. But, unlike the others, this song gas more emotion and sounds more human. This is an example of “less is more” staging; she doesn’t seem to be at a disadvantage with the cheaper staging. It allows more focus on her and her powerful voice.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 4          Staging: 5            Performance: 5

Average: 4.25 Super strong! It has a 90s sound without sounding dated.

Song #5. Big Little Lies performed by Calling Mercury

In a complete reversal from the previous entry, this has a dated, 2000s sound. The composition doesn’t build or go anywhere, it just kinda…sits there, which is great for a doctor’s office or an elevator, but terrible for a pop song contest. The silhouettes in the staging are a nice touch, though.

Composition: 2           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 3            Performance: 3

Average: 2.75 Forgettable song coming to your local shopping mall soon.

Song #6. Smoke in My Eyes performed by Anthony

Whoa! Completely different song here! I think that the lyrics are sad – but the composition is so much fun! Yeah, maybe not as catchy as it needs to be, but definitely a strong contender. He and the backing singers have great chemistry. This is definitely a strong choice for victory in my book (at least, thus far!)

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 5          Staging: 5            Performance: 4

Average: 4.5 Lots of fun, eye-catching, definitely a memorable entry and a favorite to win. It should sweep into the superfinal.

Song #7. Warriors performed by Rene Mackon

Don’t know if he just started off wonky or what, but his voice is off. The song sounds modern (like, a discount OneRepublic) but the staging is so 80s (in a bad way); it’s distracting. Probably the weakest entry thus far.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 1            Performance: 2

Average: 2.25 Nope! Even the climax of this song felt flat.

Song #8. Northern Lights performed by Sala Vidoo

If you ever think wearing a disco ball is a good idea – you’re wrong. It’s NEVER a good idea. The lyrics of this song don’t really make sense. Also, the composition and the dance/movements seem very-Japanese: that’s cultural appropriation (i.e., using someone else’s culture without properly giving it context; it perpetuates the idea that other cultures are merely there to be used like items in a store). Despite this, I would say that the composition is fairly decent.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 1          Staging: 1            Performance: 3

Average: 2.75 This is the kind of song that will grow on your; however, it has one chance to make an impression. Plus, the cultural appropriation rubs me the wrong way.

Song #9. Hurricane performed by Jeanette Bonde

The mirror effect only works if the two sides look the same. I honestly thought that this was two different people until the camera switched to normal. Also, the outfit is not good. Both the staging and the composition get better as the song continues. Sadly, her singing does not. The lyrics are also quite repetitive.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 3            Performance: 2

Average: 2.5 Not really all that great. It’s not terrible, just not good. I bet the studio version is better, though.

Song #10. A.S.A.P. performed by Johanna Beijbon

Her pants make me sad. Okay, so, this is merely a vapid pop tune (she called it “party pop disco”). Fun to dance to, not much for a competition- And that’s a missed big note…

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 1          Staging: 1            Performance: 2

Average: 2 No! This is schlager at its worst.

 

Scores of all Ten Performances
Smoke in My Eyes (Song #6) 4.5
Where I Am (Song #4) 4.25
Vesterbro (Song #2) 3.5
Color My World (Song #3) 3.5
One (Song #1) 3
Big Little Lies (Song #5) 2.75
Northern Lights (Song #8) 2.75
Hurricane (Song #9) 2.5
Warriors (Song #7) 2.25
A.S.A.P. (Song #10) 2

This is a rare instance of my predictions aligning with how I would personally rate the songs. With that said, the three songs I think will move forward to the superfinal are:

Smoke in My Eyes (Song #6)

Where I Am (Song #4)

Vesterbro (Song #2) — I am selecting this over Color My World because 1) I like it better, 2) I hope that the only Danish-language entry can be successful, 3) there’s more potential for where this song can go

So, who actually qualified?

One (Song #1) – I guess a boring song about peace can still do well at these kind of competitions.

A.S.A.P. (Song #10) – The weakest song; it merely combines all the worst traits of a “stereotypical” ESC song.

Where I Am (Song #4) – well, at least I got one right. This song should easily win; it’s miles ahead of the other two.

Time for the songs to be presented once more. This time, for all the marbles!!

Song #1. One performed by Ida Una

Still sounds fairly generic and uninspiring. Her singing is not as strong as it was before. I think that this song will finish third.

Song #4. Where I Am performed by Anja

I can’t help but think about Tell Me Who You Are, Denmark’s 2002 entry that came in last (though, I love that song). I don’t like this song as much as that one; however, I think ESC is at a place where a song like it won’t fail so badly again.

Song #10. A.S.A.P. performed by Johanna Beijbon

I understand this song’s appeal, but it’s weak. If it wins, it’ll be another year stuck in the semi-finals for Denmark. This kind of music is not Eurovision anymore. Schlager has been doing less and less well, and this is a poor example of that genre. C’mon Denmark, let’s live in the present, not the past.

Prediction

  1. Where I Am
  2. A.S.A.P.
  3. One

Rather enjoyed the interval act! I love the idea of a medley of some of the most successful and popular Dansk Melodi Grand Prix entries. I think that this does a good job of driving home the point that DR is actively trying to do well at ESC again, a complaint that they’ve doubtlessly received each of the past two years.

Ouch! A.S.A.P. only got 10% of the vote.

And the winner is…

Where I Am (song #4) performed by Anja

Predictions for Kyiv

Song #4 wins in a landslide, garnering 64% of the vote. While not the strongest song (then again, probably none of the entries tonight would have a strong chance to win in Kyiv), it is the most deserving champion among the three superfinalists and will most likely get Denmark back to the Grand Final in May. The bigger question is, what will it once it gets to Saturday night?

That depends on several factors: its competition and its position, neither of which can I determine at the moment. Building a prediction based upon the song in and of itself, I think that it will finish mid-table, so, 12-18th on the night. I think that it will score highly with the jury, but only moderately so with the voting public. I think people will recognize it to be a good song, but not groundbreaking. I hope that Denmark takes whatever its final position is as inclination that refocusing on victory is a step in the right direction.