Hello, it’s Scott again, your friendly
American correspondent. I’m so excited to peer over the wall to see what
Eurovision has in store for us this year. My first review is for Leonora from
Denmark. I love her. I love her voice. I love her lyrics, and how she
simplifies all conflict in a way only a bland white European pop star could. I
love her hair. I love that adorable giant Ikea chair of a stage prop, it really
highlights the emptiness of our wilting capitalist society. I love the way her
undead stare peels away all pretenses.
As she summarizes the zeitgeist of 2019 so perfectly: “Travel the world to see the ruins of what has been. Learning our history, but still, we don’t take it in. Don’t get too political.” And such a boppy tune! Love is Forever, she cheerfully reminds us, and forever is a whole lot longer than any land claims west of the Jordan River. I’m confident this postmodern classic will sail past any entry that bores viewers with protest, or substance, or self-awareness. Leonora has no time for politics, she’s here to make Eurovision great again.
Montenegro’s entry is a high-minded character study in how the concept of heaven varies between whomever envisions it. For the song’s writer, heaven is watching a jumbled collection of sweet literal nothings elevated to national champions. For the stage director, heaven is the essence of simplicity, embodied by angelic white robes and a complete lack of attempted choreography. For the music video director, heaven appears to be a laundry detergent commercial. For me, heaven is a Eurovision final without this song. I’d make a Pascal’s wager on it.
Zena says we are going to “like it”. 32 times if I am not mistaken. In any case, what matters is that this really catchy chorus is built on a reggaeton basis: a rhythm that has been influenced by American hip hop, Latin American, and Caribbean music, coupled with vocals that include rapping and singing, typically in Spanish. In Zena’s case the lyrics are in English though, of course. After all, she is representing Belarus. That’s one of the things I love about Eurovision — the privilege to get exposed to mixtures of cultures that should have never really been mixed in the first place. I guess the lesson is: the fact that some things can be put together does not mean they should be put together.
Conan and his sidekick bring a mind-blowing visual performance. It is proper strange, and it leaves you with more questions than answers. Why do they have “Edward scissors hands”? Or are those handy and trendy multi-chopsticks to eat what seems to be a golden Gyoza? And are these hand apparatuses related to the Hannibal-inspired masks? But let’s not read too much into the visual performance and focus on the lyrics for a minute. I love the originality of singing in a mostly dead language — Portuguese. A quick visit to google translate tells you that this song is all about mobile phones, so clearly a thought provoking exercise focused on the effects of these devices on our daily lives — Conan asks us: “what happens if I break my phone”? This will certainly have an impact on the younger generations.
In terms of diversity, Bilal has the whole package: born in France to a Moroccan Muslim family, Bilal is transgender and sings a powerful song with a mixture of French and English lyrics that deliver a message about self identity. To bring it to the next level, Bilal wears a somewhat military uniform. The whole performance is complete with a slide show of Bilal’s childhood in the background — it is moving and beautiful, but I must admit it is a risky strategy that could cause the audience to wonder whether Eurovision and weddings have more in common that we anticipated.
I’m sure that by now, the whole world knows of my love for indie pop bands- but Carousel from Latvia just moved me so much that I managed to cut my finger on my laptop somehow, and now I’m bleeding all over my keyboard- WHAT A VOICE that lead singer has! Beautiful and understated. And what a pleasure to see Kenny G put down the saxophone, and pick up a guitar! I’m not sure if this song has the gusto to place in this year’s Eurovision, mostly due to the lack of an all important key change, but I damn well will be checking Youtube to see if Carousel has any other melodic bangers to listen to whilst I’m marking 1st year scientific reports.
At first glimpse Michael Rice looks like his mum was a bit too involved in his wardrobe, and his hand waving is slightly distracting, but he nails all the chords nicely, and his hand tattoos slightly poke out of his jacket sleeve giving him a bit of a ‘secret chav’ air. Then he BLOWS the crowd away with an epic chord change, and I tell you what, Michael Rice deserves to not only place in this years finals, but I also vote for him to sing at the next Olympics! A powerhouse voice like his deserves more airtime and I’m not just saying that because I have a dual-citizenship with the mother country. Seriously though, can we get someone in to fix the blonde streaks/90s boyband undercut hair-do he has? It does absolutely nothing for his ears, which are definitely bigger than us…
Sarah McTernan brings us a laid back catchy pop-tune that will at least get some decent radio play, if not rack up a decent amount of points this year. It’s a solid toe tapper but perhaps not enough to blow the socks of the global audience. If Ireland want to keep their record of most Eurovision wins they are going to have to start bringing their A game before Sweden finally re-unite ABBA and go after the title once and for all. In which case Ireland’s only defence may be in engineering a bionically enhanced Johnny Logan to return to the stage and claim his third finals victory. Who knows what 2020 could bring…
The 90s we’re great weren’t they? Scrunchies we’re in, Santana was making a comeback, Twitter hadn’t been invented yet, all was well. So is it time to relive the glory days and bring 90s music back into fashion? Maybe not. This year Finland revisits the late 90s and brings us a track littered with synth beats and boy band harmonising reminiscent of 90s pop music. Sadly, like most 90s pop music, it is instantly forgettable and unlikely to fare well at Eurovision this year.
What isn’t forgettable however is the abomination of a soul-patch Darude appears to be sporting. The image of this flavour savour landing strip has been semi-permanently burned into my retinas. I know, facial hair shaming isn’t cool, but let’s just hope that this trend doesn’t catch on like fork beards, pencil moustaches, chin straps, and all those other unsightly attempts at fancy facial hair styling. As the song title begs, ‘Look Away’.
Tamta tells me I need her love on replay and who am I to argue? With a wholesome penchant for welding and subjugation, Tamata clearly domineers Cyprus and frankly, anyone she wants to. The song is closely styled on Cyprus’ 2018 entry by Eleni…..remember…..she with the spray-on pants?): a pounding beat and only a hint of auto-tuning. If it worked last year, why not this year?
Zala and Gasper are a sweet duo. and may even outsweeten all other Eurovision contestants this year. They surely mean well, and wish no harm. Certainly, their minimalistic electropop song Sebi, does not hurt. Mind you, it does not really do anything and kind of leaves you a little bit peckish for Pringles. The aeronautical theme in the video is baffling, but instantly forgotten.
Mahmood is pretty angry with his father – that’s for sure! He has tried everything – he got an earing, a tattoo, and ripped his trousers. His last option is to perform at Eurovision and express his anger with mumble rap and autotuning. Hope it works out for you, Mahmood, I really do!
Despite shouting her name, PÆNDA is a vulnerable woman who whispers a breathy and emotional account of turbulent times. No doubt, it is honest, and I might even have listened to it outside Eurovision (nah…..just kidding), but will it garner favor with the audience and judges? Chances are that PÆNDA will punch a tiny hole into our hearts, through which she will slip into the finals.
Review by Mariella Herberstein
Az én apám by Joci Papai
Another tearjerker by Eurovision veteran Joci – unfortunately, I am fresh out of tears, thanks to Austria’s PÆNDA. The song is stripped to its bare essentials: a man, his guitar, a handsome studded black leather jacket, a manly top bun, a dilapidated building, and a young lad dressed like an Ewok. Joci delivers a solid performance in Hungarian with excellent whistling and a bleak video that appears to lack approval by the Hungarian Tourist Board. Good enough for the finals!
Review by Mariella Herberstein
Chameleon by Michaela
This is more like it! Malta’s Michaela delivers classic Eurovision gold – a thumping beat, nonsensical lyrics, and all of Ricky Martin’s songs homogenized into one! The stage show will be crucial for entry into the top 10 – wind machines, wild dancers with heaps of legs, and pyrotechnics. Mind you, the combination of wind machines and open flames may bring Malta’s hopes to a traumatic end.
Can you feel it? !I am SO excited that I picked Czech Republic on a whim to review this year, because hipster indie pop bands that are dressed like The Wiggles are TOTALLY what I’m into right now. Seriously, the base player in his red turtle neck looks exactly like Murray, who incidentally once came into the Sly Fox in Enmore whilst I was working once and told me he “really liked my popcorn”- if that’s not an innuendo, then I don’t know what is. Speaking of innuendos, Friend of a friend is full of them. Do you know what I mean? I particularly liked the part of the clip where the lead singer has a series of photos of him being manhandled into a police car, because it’s a metaphor for the youth of today being labelled as miscreant Millennials, which they probably are, right? The tune is catchy and annoyingly stuck in my head right now. The Czech Republic has been a part of Eurovision for the last 12 years, and have yet to win, but if any of the current judges are under the age of 25 then Lake Malawi might be in with a chance. I give them 3 skinny leg jeans out of a possible 5.
WOOF, is there anything Sergey can’t do?! Racking up countless music and radio awards, adopting puppies, starting up a company that creates dog friendly pastries and cakes… and he can bloody sing! Like an angel! He gave me goosebumples. Scream is a beautiful song, and I can’t stop raving about his voice, it really is magic. The lyrics are a bit dodgy however, like most emo songs with beautiful melodies, it seems to be about loudly broadcasting feelings that you’re having, but lying about actually having them: “Tears won’t fall whilst my pride stands tall… but my eyes will be liars..” I think we ALL can relate to that. I quite liked the video clip with the hero coming to rescue the princess troupe, and then dumping her on a small island covered in bryophytes (which he stomped all over, rude), but she was really quite pretty with glorious hair and didn’t say anything at all the whole clip, so why did he dump her there? I think men really should start addressing their feelings so we can all be supportive of them. PS: a small child acts out killing a large dragon towards the end of the clip. Just in case that sort of thing upsets you. SERGEY FOR THE WIN!
Grammatical issues notwithstanding, John Lundvik’s “Too Late For Love” is a safe, straightforward dance ballad from this Euro-powerhouse. It’s true to recent form for Sweden, and to be honest if you played any of their last dozen entries over a clip of slow-motion rain I doubt whether viewers would be able to differentiate them. The strategy is effective enough having secured a top 10 finish for most of the last decade (we don’t talk about Bergendahl), but it doesn’t make for compelling listening. Get weird Sweden!
An incongruous county-blues guitar hook kicks off this gloomy electronic piece from Romania’s Ester Peony. In the great tradition of edgy alternative bands there is no hint as to what the title “On a Sunday” actually refers to, but the song carries the usual theme of love and the tremendous price it extracts from us all (are we thinking of the same thing?). The real star of the accompanying video is Ester’s husky companion, whose glossy coat, playful eyes, and regal attitude steal the show. I would very much like to scratch it behind the ears and rubs its belly, and I do hope Romania leans heavily into the canine theme for the live show, since the song and human performers are otherwise forgettable.
Having finished last in more Eurovision finals than any other country, Norway’s people cry out for a hero to save them. That hero is nascent supergroup KEiiNO. Their people’s pleas, echoing across the void, wake the champions from cryopreservation in Narnia. Christina Ricci, Lanky Mr Tumnus, and Vin Diesel deliver a rousing electropop track that is surprisingly multi-faceted and catchy. Though undoubtedly jealous of the other’s nekomimi battlemorphs, Vin Diesel’s bridge of Sámi vocals to a backdrop of tribal drums and Aurora Borealis delivers the killing blow to the Anonymous antagonists. The heroes return to suspended animation, awaiting the day they are next needed. Though unlikely to add a fourth Eurovision victory for the Vikings, the track should present a stirring live performance, and place Norway in the upper rankings.
In an alternate universe, George Calombaris has gained 3 feet in height, swapped his apron for a satin suit that changes colour every five seconds, and conquered San Marino, transforming the mountainous microstate into an urban disco dystopia. Construction workers and police crump and twerk together on a futuristic crosswalk that can only be described as the McDonald’s reboot of Blade Runner. Tall George beams his image from his impregnable fortress on Monte Titano, encouraging vulnerable women to call him any time for nonsensical self-help platitudes, accompanied by an uninspired Casio stock bassline. At this year’s Eurovision, will San Marino “be a hero, be a rainbow and sing na na na”? Yeah, but nah. Just nah.
Eurovision is back and we are going to Tel Aviv on account of Netta’s nonsensical chicken song. This is the third time, Israel will host Eurovision and we have lots to look forward to. For one, the reject cast of Men in Black 4 will be hosting the event.
41 countries will compete for Eurovision glory – but fear not, The Science of Eurovision will see you through the trauma: Club Douze Points will selflessly review all songs and prepare you for the Eurovision finale.
In the meantime, stock up on some hummus and falafels….and perhaps something stronger for the coming two weeks!