Czech Republic and Belgium

Czech RepublicMikolas Josef: Lie To Me

Welcome to the 21st Century, Czech Republic! So good to finally have you along! Mikolas is a renaissance man, he had good marks at school and could have studied at a prestigious UK college, he worked as an international model, and now, dressed as a librarian, is fighting for the Eurovision crown!

This peppy number is sure to impress, some cool jazz trumpet, an obscure reference to Marilyn Monroe and suspenders holding up Mikolas’s pants. The dancing is outsourced to a break dancing lad seemingly trapped in a cube. The lyrics were ravaged by google translate: But steady plenty these greedies wanna eat my spaghetti

All in all, I quite like this….definitely entry into the finales!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

BelgiumSennek: A Matter Of Time

 Belgium’s Sennek is a 100 percent the love child of Portishead and Tina Turner (Goldeneye)! She even participated in 007 In Concert.

I am a sucker for the musical pizzazz dished up by Bond – it is sassy and schmalzy all at the same time. Bond swept Conchita Wurst to certain Eurovision glory….and of course her marvellous beige frock was a winner in itself!

Europe might be stirred by Sennek, but not shaken!

 Review by Mariella Herberstein

Slovenia and Moldova

SloveniaLea Sirk: Hvala, ne!

Hi, my name is Scott. I’m a former member of the behavioural ecology lab before my career took a left turn and I went to medical school. Now, as a first-year medical student, I’m going to try and apply my brand new medical knowledge to diagnosing Eurovision contestants! Ok, let’s start with Slovenia.

Upon first observation of the patient, I notice she has a very unusual style of staccato movements with rigidity and tremor. Parkinson’s perhaps, but she lacks the hallmark slow-movement bradykinesia. Or maybe she’s just trying to dance with a bad case of ataxia.

Actually her movements seem very frenetic… hmm, perhaps a psych consult may be needed? The ever-shifting patterns of the floor beneath her mirror the typical hallucination patterns of an LSD trip. Later, she starts rap-battling with what appear to be homunculi representing facets of her personality. Either she’s tripping balls or I need to read more Freud and Jung!

That said, it’s always protocol to rule out organic brain disease before diagnosing psych conditions. The flashing lights are a classic epilepsy trigger, but maybe her flapping arms are really a case of asterixis, a common sign of hepatic encephalopathy wherein liver damage harms the brain. I can’t be sure about her, but this song is driving at least one of us to drink.

One thing that stands out is the pseudobulbar vaguely-lyrical noises emanating from her vocal cords. Laryngeal edema perhaps, or polyps? Hmm, I may need to draw some blood tests.

But wait! Something I overlooked! Her hair has a strange miscoloured streak going through it. That’s called poliosis. Usually it’s just a benign quirk of hair, but maybe, just maybe… I’ve got it! She has Vogt–Koyanagi–Harada Disease. It all makes sense! The disease also causes nerve palsies, which explains her dancing, hearing loss and tinnitus, which explains her singing, and eye damage, which explains her fashion choices. Sadly, the prognosis isn’t very good. Luckily, she’s already wearing a body bag.

Review by Scott Fabricant

 

MoldovaDoReDoS: My Lucky Day

Hello again, Scott here. So I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to diagnose people at a distance, some ethics thing called the Goldwater Rule (which is actually why no one has yet given an ICD-10 code to President Trump), so I guess I’m going to have to brush off my behavioural ecology skills and return to my roots. Ok let’s go!

Here we see the rare and endangered Moldovan Cool Ranch Doritos… sorry, that’s DoReDos, in their natural habitat of the coastal cliffs. How these delicate diurnal creatures will adapt to being in the artificial environment of the Eurovision stage, with a photoperiod of 12 hours of dark and 12 hours of strobe lights and disco balls remains to be seen.

Given that it is in fact the female who is large and colorful, I deduce that DoReDos are likely some type of arthropod. It is of note that the female is red and yellow, so I assume she is poisonous. Her large frilled hat she deploys seems very effective at startling predators. She also has slices of citrus fruit in her hair; are these food rewards to potential mates, or is she using the citric acid to defend her eggs?

Multiple male suitors sing and chirp to get her attention. This is what we refer to as lekking behaviour. The males compete with each other, trying to best woo the female with rhythmic droning vocalizations. While its known that talk is cheap, we assume this singing behaviour is costly and therefore an honest signal because… reasons?

However, further natural history observations reveal that the males appear to be cooperative breeders. They’re helping each other into the finals! The only other known species that engages in cooperative lekking is the Long-Tailed Manakin. Are Manakins and Doritos sister taxa? Or is this a case of convergent evolution? As always, more research is needed (but not by me, I have to get back to studying).

Review by Scott Fabricant

Switzerland and San Marino

SwitzerlandZiBBZ:Stones

It is with great trepidation that I dip my toe into the murky – yet disturbingly placid – waters of the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision is a major cultural phenomenon, and yet, like a dream forgotten after waking, or the scent of a viola, your reviewer seems unable to focus on it. It has caused restless hours tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep; interminable, rambling sentences; and even self references in the 3rd person, yet I’m still unable to listen to a song the whole way through without losing concentration and moving on to something else (perhaps they employ Eurovision contestants to write legal contracts?) My one moment of hope was dashed when I discovered that YouTube had inserted a link to Black and Blue by the Aussie blues band “Chain” into the list of Eurovision videos (now there’s a refreshing lack of over-production and wind machines).

But I digress. Despite watching the rehearsal video 3 times (!), I still can’t remember anything about the song, although I can confirm that there was a midriff and some hips involved. I suspect they are attempting to channel the spirit of ABBA, which was the first act (of only 3 ever) to become a commercial success after winning Eurovision. Take “ABBA”, change “A” to “Z”, throw in an arbitrary “i” to symbolise the iPhone generation, and you’ve got ZiBBZ. Will ZiBBZ make it to the finals? I don’t know.

Review: Jim McClean

San MarinoJessika featuring Jenifer Brening

 

Micronation San Marino’s offering this year is notable for two reasons:

– Jessika and Jenifer bring the total number of San Mariners known to be able to at least coarsely bang out a tune to a grand total of approximately four people. I can only assume Valentina Monetta has recently undergone major surgery to miss her annual engagement, and wish her all the best in her recovery.
– This certainly isn’t the first time a singer will be upstaged by their backup dancers, but those dancers being tiny robots is new. Congrats to Jess, Jen and their plastic entourage.
On paper, the performance has a lot of the requisite components: a strong gimmick, a white jumpsuit (drink!), a riff that’s already proven to be a winner (Måns Zelmerlöw, at bit?), a surprise hip hop interlude performed by someone dressed like they were originally intended to be a 90s grunge interlude, an adorable nose scrunch, and a key change that’s only outdone in subtlety by her lipstick.
Will the sum be greater than the parts, and deliver more tourists to San Marino than it has citizens? Unlikely. But together it approaches the Platonic ideal of a Eurovision entry.
Review by Ingrid Errington

Bulgaria & Denmark

BulgariaEquinox: Bones

What is life? Equinox asks the important questions in this serious yet sensual song.

As a Eurovision rookie, I feel prematurely emotionally attached to this group, who will perform together for the first time during the semi-finals.

I hope they bring the rainbow prism machine on stage, because it adds a whole new mysterious dimension to the song; word on the street is Bulgaria have been a favourite before the group were even formed- doesn’t get much more mysterious than that!

My only concern for this group is that they follow each other, ‘deep into the unknown’ and forget to open their eyes and fall off the stage; regardless, I predict they’ll love beyond bones straight into the finals.

Review: Georgina Binns

 

DenmarkRasmussen: Higher Ground

I’m going to be honest, I wanted to review Rasmussen because of his beard.

Fortunately, his beard didn’t let me down. The choreography on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. Rasmussen is pretty decent at singing and stomping and looking like a Viking though, and thank goodness for the wind machine. I also really like how the back-up dancers don’t try and show him up.

Higher Ground is apparently based on a Viking who refused to fight. I’m confused as to how this Viking even got the job of leading a crew of warriors into battle when he was a lover, not a fighter?

There is a great pitch change towards to the end, which does kind of make you feel like loving instead of fighting.

And his beard really is great.

I give this act 3 beards out of 5 beards.

Review: Georgina Binns

Austria, Belarus & Cyprus

AustriaCesár Sampson: Nobody but you

According to his bio, Cesár is ‘not unknown’ in Austria.  Oh how I do struggle with double negatives! Setting aside his alleged fame, Cesár dishes up a catchy soul number that is probably good enough to get him through the semis, but imminently forgettable for any decent points in the finales.

Review: Mariella Herberstein

BelarusAlekseev: Forever

Alekseev is Belarus’ Petshop Boy, but he is having much less fun than the original duo. Is it the endless rain falling in this song or the beige knitwear? We will never know. However, Eurovision has had its share of sad young men with last year’s winner Salvador and so I fear Alekseev will go no further than the semis.

Review: Mariella Herberstein

CyprusEleni Foureira: Fuego

Eleni had a summer hit in 2010 and all it takes for a Eurovision winner:  catchy tune – check; legs (two) – check; marvellous hair flowing in wind created by wind machines – check. I think this will go far at Eurovision or at least Eleni will have another summer hit, on rotation in Club Med discotheques all along the Black Sea.

Review: Mariella Herberstein

 

Albania, Australia & Iceland

AlbaniaEugent Bushpepa:  Mall

I have so many questions about Albania’s entry this year, like, Is Eugent really a true gentleman?  – Do Albanians really love shopping that much? – And Is Eugent really Bon Jovi’s fraternal twin? (I’m expecting a Daily Mail exclusive any day now). Sure, he looks nothing like the rock god but don your head phones, close your eyes and press play and I bet you’d imagine Jon Bon Jovi singing an Albanian ballad. And finally, I cannot help but wonder, as I read the lyrics, – Did they actually, miss spell the name?*.

Having listened to this song a few times, I found myself daydreaming about starting an Eurovision spin-off with only hair metal bands called VisionaryHair. I mean could you imagine Whitesnakes flowing perm being caressed by a wind machine or twisted sisters desperate plea to rock as they threw school desks into the crowd and, frankly who has not been surprised to find Europe’s Final Countdown was not actually a Eurovision song. So who is with me?!! Huh? Whats that? Oh….what about Eugents song I hear you say? Well apparently music is his religion but unfortunately, I would be hard pressed to imagine he will reach Eurovision cult status with this little ditty.

Prediction:

If the video is anything to go by I anticipate a vain attempt at re-invigorating the lost art of hand dancing. And as much as I feel it deserves to see the final I suspect it will be swept under Motley Cure’s excessively voluminous perms – never to be seen again.

*i.e. Maul just in case that joke was too obscure!

Review by Matt Bulbert

AustraliaJessica Mauboy: We Got Love

I say finally! Australia has entered a song worthy of Eurovision – a song that finally catches the essence of what Eurovision is all about. I can see wind machines, anthemic chanting of the chorus and even an eclectic musical break that surely will be filled with a crazy dance routine. So Australia get ready as I think this is it.

 Ok so this year Australia has pulled out the big guns and I cannot help but think this was the main game all along. In 2014 Jessica became the first non-European solo artist to represent Australia as a guest performer at the Eurovision Song Contest as the interval act. Now I’m sure at this moment there are some Eurovision historians, some of which co-write reviews on this blog, that will be screaming at their computers – but what about the Australian icon Olivia Newton John?? and the only person to have won Eurovision twice Johnny Logan?? My response to you is that you obviously did not read the claim as none of those singers sung in the interval! But I digress, and instead I hereby provide a suggestion that is sure to send this blog viral – Australia cunningly sewed the seed 4 years ago, so Europe have had time to full in love with our Jessica.

To be honest if Europe can overlook Australia not being part of Europe then I feel this song has a serious chance of taking out Eurovision this year. The song has a wonderful shmaltzy message that is catchy and repeated just enough to stick to your eardrums like a burr. And let’s face it, Jessica’s smile and bubbly personality are pretty hard to ignore the best of times but doused with lashings of melted gouda cheese, which this song provides in abounds, makes this entry irresistible.

Prediction:

No matter where Jessica comes she will be a winner! It will take out the heat and be pushing the podium provided Jessica can find some dance moves. I would love to see some Timorese-Indigenous stomp for instance! Bring the trophy home for Mariella – Jess!!

Review: Matt Bulbert

IcelandAri Ólafsson:  Our Choice

Iceland is a spectacular country where you can stand before massive waterfalls, be doused by towering geysers, see the might of the biggest mammals on earth the Blue Whale, and walk between the tectonic plates of Asia and Europe. This is all before witnessing the gods playing knuckles with blue icebergs and, mingling among the millions of waddling puffins prior to embalming your insides with the delight of lobster soup. So given this description you cannot help but think Ari Ólafsson cannot help but be impressive…..(Spoiler alert: if you want to hold onto this belief please do not read any further….)

It’s a big year for Iceland, they have made the Soccer World Cup for the first time, coming off the back of beating England in the Eurovision of football last year. So they might be forgiven for not really caring so much about Eurovision this year. However, for a country that has a population the size of Newcastle NSW, Iceland typically kicks the proverbial music charts. I mean they have provided the world with the experimental genius of Bjork, the ethereal post rock of Sigur Rós, the royal family of pop rock Of Monsters and Men, and not to mention the electronica masterful expression of teenage boredom by FM Belfast – yes that song called ‘Underwear’:

“…..we are running down the street in our underwear, to the hill that is over there, because nothing ever happens here…” (Warning: this tune is insidiously catchy).

Given Iceland’s pedigree, you can be forgiven for thinking Iceland should be capable of rustling up a real challenger. So, it comes a surprise to me they would roll out Ari, whose choice of song, and clean-cut demeanour, are potentially a better fit for PlaySchool rather than a serious music competition such as Eurovision. I mean, it seems his only qualifications for this gig is apparently having played “a part in Oliver, in a musical directed by Selma Björnsdóttir who came second in the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest with the song All Out Of Luck”. So let me emphasise two points here – first of all he did not even play Oliver, he could have played the bowl for all we know and secondly, they have intimated that he was destined for Eurovision fame because he was directed by a contestant from nearly 20 years ago – which by the way was before this kid was even born!

Prediction: I anticipate lots of hand holding and swaying from the audience and despite my apparent derision of Iceland’s choice I think Ari will make the finals based solely on his fine teeth, good hair and fine dress sense – he might even be worth a bet each way as roughie. Oh and I would not rule out the possibility of the song being drowned out by Viking Thunderclaps – as the Icelandic fans are likely to embrace the opportunity to warm up for – dare I say it – the more important World Event.

Review: Matt Bulbert

 

Ola Portugal!

Dear Eurovisionaries!

Eurovision is back, and so are we! This year, we are travelling to Portugal after Salvador Sobral carried away the first Eurovision win ever for Portugal!  His languid Amar pelos dois was felt in the hearts of everyone,  extracting douze points from an audience weary of wind machines and waxed chests. Let’s hope this is not an enduring theme!

What do we know about Portugal? Other than stereotypes, not much at all – it is long and thin, frequently confused with Spain and serves up delicious sardines. Forty-three countries will compete in Lisbon,  transforming the capital into a festival village – oh my, how exciting!

Stick with us….we will get you through this with essential reviews and commentary!

Club Douze Points

Eurovision finales 2017

Welcome to the final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, from Kiev, Ukraine! The show kicked off with an excellent laser/LED display, and all contestants running the gauntlet through the ecstatic crowd. Already this was taking unbearably long.

Finally, the evening’s hosts, three well-groomed chaps (Huey, Dewey and Louie) officiate the evening. The humour was painful and enduring.

Israel kicked the evening off, with, yes, another well-groomed chap, IMRI, singing off key in a black sleeveless t-shirt. He was ably assisted on stage by two dental nurses – 23rd place.

Kasia from Poland was next, her dress was in danger of an imminent wardrobe malfunction, which we were spared. She had one excellent leg, the other one was rubbish. A big song, but not big enough – 22nd place!

The happiest Belarussians ever were next, all dressed in white crochet (even the guitar)! Their folky tune clearly connected with the crowd, but not the voters – 17th place!

Austria’s Nathan (in white again) was evoking the Little Prince by dancing on a half moon. A solid 16th place.

Back to black outfits (a pant suit, no less) with Armenia and the best braided hair of the evening. The dance moves were reminiscent of Voguing (remember that old chestnut?), enough for 18th place!

The three sisters from the Netherlands were next with furry, glittery, black outfits, some had legs. They were marvellously coordinated, but the lack of wind-machines cost them a spot in the top 10…11th place!

Moldova was raising the fashion stakes with blackties and a (highly annoying) saxophone. The backing singers turned into brides half way through the song, much to the delight of the voters – 3rd place!


Hungary’s Papaj was joined on stage by a fiddler and a dancer. His outfit defies description, other than being very, very handsome! Best use of a milk can as a drum! An excellent 8th place!

Italy! Francesco did a great job and was ably assisted by the Wiggles on stage and a gorilla (also in black). The crowd loved this one, but not enough for a win….6th place.

Denmark’s Anja was in no need of gorillas or gimmicks – she filled the stage with her power ballad and a red flowing dress. Best tooth gap of the evening! 20th place!

Portugal’s Salvador calmed the audience with an oversized black suit and a thoughtful Fado. The audience, and Europe is stunned….first place – Portugal here we come!!!

Dihaj from Azerbaijan had the most extraordinary onstage props, including a horse on a ladder and writing on a blackboard. The significance of the trench coats remains unclear – 14th place.

Croatia’s Jacques brought a split personality and sang his own duet. Technically impressive it did confuse the audience – only 13th place. Creepiest violinist of the evening!Australia’s Isaiah picked up one of the trench coats abandoned by Azerbaijan. The excellent singing matched even more excellent eyebrows and Australia finds herself again in the top 10 with 9th place!

Greece’s Demy also had only one good leg, but a terrible song. For some reason, her barely dressed dancers had to perform in a footbath. A deserved 19th place.

Spain tragically mis-stepped with a boy-band wearing Hawaiian shirts. A deserved last place for silly reggae beats!

Norway’s Jowst brought his own gimp on stage (just in case, I suppose). Dressed as a dentist and quite inexplicably, Norway just makes it into the top 10.

The inane intermission by our three Ukrainian hosts provided the perfect toilet break.

Lucy from the UK appears in gold and belts out the UK’s best performance in years – 15th place. Best use of an on-stage kaleidoscope projecting 3 Lucies!!!

Wearing a studded black cardigan, Hovig was off key and laboured the audience for the full 3 minutes. Douze points from Greece and Armenia (but why?) propelled this into 21st spot.

Rumania yodelled – nuff said! 22nd place (and I am not even going to mention the canons on stage!).

Germany’s Levina was a bit tired and had to lie down on stage. Despite an excellent set of hair and a backless (grey) dress, this went no further than 25th.

Ukraine’s rock band wore excellent sleeveless smocks, but could not carry off the Lordi effect – 24th place.

Belgium was next, and without moving her lips, Blanche performs brilliantly, dressed as the corpses bride. A deserved 4th spot!!!

Stylish Sweden is next, Robin was wearing a shiny mauve suit. His dancing colleagues however, had to wear black turtlenecks. There were some odd hand signals throughout the song, still, 5th place, probably due to the brilliant use of treadmills on stage!

The second toothgap of the evening came courtesy of Bulgaria’s Kristian. The man-child, dressed as a young Viktor Krum, had nerves of steel  and ran away to second place!!!

Alma from France was the last performance for the evening. With two excellent legs, Alma finished the evening for the, by now, delirious audience. Good enough for 12th place. Best use of SimCity graphics.

The intermission brought back Russlana (Eurovision winner 2004) and some clown mooning the audience! The voting landscape was less predictable than previous years (other than Greece and Cyprus awarding each other douze points) – the yodelling Romanian’s received 12 points from Ireland of all places!

There we have it! A glorious win for Portugal! As for fashion trends…I am getting myself some more legs…good ones!

Until next year!

Club Douze Points

Bulgaria

BulgariaBeautiful Mess by Kristian Kostov

Bulgarian man-child Kristian is the third teenager in this year’s line-up. Together with Brendan (Ireland) and Isaiah (Australia), we have the making of a boy band. Kristian would obviously be the edgy one without convincing eyebrows, who would eventually fall out with the others, develop a drug habit and see out his career playing Las Vegas. And the song? Forgettable!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Switzerland, Poland and Lithuania

SwitzerlandApollo by Timebelle

The neutral country. The Euro-dodger. The land of chocolate and cheese, of secret banks and “What Nazi stolen gold?”. One does not expect such a country to make a splash at Eurovision. And you’d be right, as they only won it one time since the invention of colour television, and in Europe’s defense they were preoccupied with the Berlin Wall falling. So, in these politically tumultuous times, will Switzerland step off the sidelines with a powerful commanding performance to finally claim victory?

Well, no.

I mean they try. The fact that none of the members of Timebelle were actually born in Switzerland probably explains their decidedly non-neutral earnestness in their quest for the crown. The lead singer has a pretty decent voice and an eye-catching dress. The song flirts with being catchy. Unlike most of my Eurovision reviews I didn’t compulsively fast forward to make it to the end. But it just can’t get past its Swiss heritage of being neutral and inoffensive. It’ll do well, but not well enough. The Swiss may have once horded the plunders of WWII, but in this year’s geopolitical conflict my money is on them not taking home the gold.

Review by Scott Fabricant

PolandFlashlight by Kasia Moś

I mean if we’re going to be making distasteful WWII references, might as well keep up the trend with Poland, who famously brought a bunch of horses to a tank fight. Same here.

It’s not a bad song by any means, it’s just very old-fashioned (by Eurovision standards). A one-woman power ballad that uses incoherent metaphors to make some vague point about love, or hate, whatever. She’s certainly got an impressive set of pipes, with a hoarse sultry timbre to her voice that’s better suited to blues or jazz. But Eurovision is a new theater of war now, one that considers Australia part of Europe. Recent conquerors of Europe include the amazing interactive graphics of Sweden 2015, the thoroughly modern Austrian drag queen of 2014, and of course Ukraine’s giant war metaphor of 2016, not to mention some spectacular runners-up like Russia’s unstoppable cookie-baking grannies.

And here stands Kasia Mos, holding the line with her old-fashioned pipes, no props, and distinct lack of techno gimmicks. I wish her well.

Review by Scott Fabricant

LithuaniaRain Of Revolution by Fusedmarc

Finally, there’s Lithuania, who wasn’t even a country during WWII so I guess I can finally let this cheap crutch of a trope go and evaluate their entry on its own merits. And I like it! It’s weird and funky, and the lead singer reminds me of a thoroughly modern Bjork minus the theatrical pseudo-insanity. Fusemarc manages to break new musical ground and be truly unique without resorting to cheap gimmicks. I’m predicting we are seeing a taste of Eurovision to come, a time when this old stalwart contest breeds true acoustic innovation.

Just kidding, I already know they never make it out of the semi-finals. A shame really, since they really are funky, and I really did like them. Usually the truly unique sounds never make it to the finals. Eurovision may love its flashy visual gimmicks, but the music remains stuck in the glory days of a pre-Brexit European glory. Maybe Poland has a fighting chance, horses and all.

Review by Scott Fabricant