Slovenia, the Netherlands & Ukraine

Slovenia

On my way by Omar Naber

There is a slight chance that the Slovenian entry this year is pure genius in disguise, although the odds are on it being just awful. Omar delivers a rendition of the Phantom of the Opera, minus the mask and with more shouting. It sends shivers up my spine, but not in a good way. At the end of the video, Omar cries, and so did I.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

The Netherlands

Lights and Shadows by OG3NE

Three determined young women, sisters, no less, harmonise their little hearts out for the Netherlands! The sound is incredible -almost as if I had heard it somewhere else before. Indeed, it is ‘Hold on’ by Wilson Phillips anno 1990. But before we allege ‘plagiarism’ let’s analyse the evidence: Wilson Phillips only had two sisters – OG3NE has three sisters, and two of them twins! Wilson Phillips had rubbish hair – OG3NE have magnificent manes! Obviously, the similarity of sound is just a freak coincident. I think Europe will like this!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

UkraineTime by O.Torvald

Channelling the walking dead, O. Torvald is hoping for a back-to-back win for the Ukraine. They need not have bothered. Still, the heavy guitars, piles of rubbish on stage and cacophonous signing might stand out against other more waxed contestants and be rewarded by rebellious points from neighbours in fear of imminent invasion.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Israel, Italy and San Marino

IsraelI Feel Alive by IMRI

IMRI (I really do not know if this is a name to be shouted or an abbreviation) is already a veteran at Eurovision – Kiev will be his 3rd appearance. Admittedly, the previous times, he was part of the backing singers. I can tell IMRI is determined to make this a success. This young man has oodles of energy and, according the video, oodles of well-groomed friends. Expect some excellent dancing on the night, but perhaps not so many points.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

ItalyOccidentali’s Karma By Francesco Gabbani

This catchy and smart number from Italy is the favourite to win, and rightly so. The song is a stylish homogenate of Italian one-hit wonders (I am getting some Adriano Celentano) and light-heartedly homogenises Eastern and Western philosophies.
Surely, any Eurovision entry that exclaims ‘Panta rhei’ deserves a spot in the top 10.

Shave off that ridiculous moustache and it’s ‘douze points’ from me!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

San Marino

Spirit of the Night by Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson

San Marino is a more recent addition to Eurovision (competing since 2008) and her strength is clearly driving around in circles. So it comes as no surprise that San Marino has recruited help in the guise of Jimmie Wilson. Regretfully, the outcome is an uneasy fusion of R&B with trashy Euro-disco. Even the key change seems insincere, and at Eurovision, that is saying a lot. Back to the racing track for San Marino this year!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Greece & Hungary

Greece

This is Love by Demi

 

I had high hopes for Greece this year, expecting an explosive crescendo after the gentle build up. But sadly, Demi just does not reach the screeching heights that Anja from Denmark easily scales. Still, Demi’s video promotes diversity, which surely is a good thing….although with a maximum of 6 people on stage in Kiev, the effect might be somewhat restraint.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Hungary

Origo by Joci Pápai

Hungary has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Freddy did a great job last year, and my all time favourite is Katie Wolf back in 2015. But Joci is giving us something special. A haunting ethno sound over electronic beats sung in Hungarian. I like it so much that I am willing to forgive the fiddles and the fact that Joci is a samurai.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Cyprus, Denmark & Finland

CyprusGravity by Hovig

Will this be the year when Cyprus breaks the drought and finally wins Eurovision? I am afraid not. Is it the auto tune? The mildly threatening lyrics (Right beside you – I’ll never leave you)? The heavy-footed dancing? The lack of voting neighbours, or all of the above? Unless Hovig pulls off a gravity defying performance, I am afraid this one will crash into last place.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

DenmarkWhere I am by Anja

Ready the wind machines for Denmark! Lulling you into a false sense of security for the first minute or so, Anja hits her strides and belts out a classic Eurovision anthem that could only be improved by a key change. Never mind the nonsensical lyrics and non-existing dancing. I think this will go far, the finals for sure!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

FinlandBlackbird by Norma John

This is a real song, sung by real musicians, conveying sincere emotions, beautifully. What on earth is Norma John doing at Eurovision? No wonder they are looking so sad. This is the highest quality entry for decades, hands down. Sadly, this is no guarantee and if anything quality is a detriment to Eurovision success. I am so sorry, Norma John!

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Albania, Austria and Belarus

AlbaniaWorld by Lindita

Thank you Albania! Thank you for sending Lindita to Eurovision. Gone are the wailing flutes and fiddly Çiftelijas! Instead, Lindita belts out a Bond-esque number with the obligatory key change. And boy, can she hold a note! The song is dull, but with the right stage show, Lindita might find herself in the top half at the end of the evening!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

AustriaRunning On Air by Nathan Trent

Back in 2014, Conchita was Rising Like a Phoenix, while young Nathan here is Running On Air! Both are sporting exceptionally groomed facial hair (Conchita’s is clearly better!). Still, Nathan seems like a nice lad, and he does a good job with this happy, toe tapping number! Definitely the finals for me!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

BelarusStory of My Life by Naviband

Life is super happy in Belarus! You get to wear embroidered linen shirts, run through forests and exclaim: hey, hey, heyaheyahey! And why are young Artem and Ksenia so happy? It is Belarus’s 800th birthday – what better way to celebrate than Eurovision? Maybe deliriously happy is not your thing, but I like it and predict the finals for Belarus.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Hello Kiev!

Dear Eurovisionaries!

Welcome to the 2017 Eurovision lunacy. Last year, Ukraine won Eurovision glory for the second time in history. Back in 2004 Russlana won with the excellent ‘Wild Dances’. Sadly, last year’s ‘1944’ by Jamala was not so excellent, but still won and we are going to Kiev!!!!

So, what is there to know about Kiev? The chickens are delicious and there is no shortage of controversy – back in February, the Eurovision organising team threatened to quit and in April Russia withdrew in protests from the competition! I can just tell – Eurovision 2017 will be exceptional!

Stay with us for all reviews and commentary!!!

Club Douz Points

Eurovision Finals Review

Dear friends,

What an exciting Eurovision final, where Australia almost ran away with the coveted prize. But in the end, the Ukraine’s politically charged, yet boring number won, and we will travel to sunny Kiev next year!

The proceeding start off with the presentation of the contestants, accompanied by models wearing spandex underwear and paper outfits onto which country flags are projected.

Our delightful hosts are Petra Mede (wearing a dream in beige) and Måns Zelmerlöw (last year’s winner, wearing a grin). They claim that this contest is about uniting countries with music – not sure where this is coming from.

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Belgium’s disco number opens the competition, dressed all in white, against a 4-connect LED display – 10th place despite the surprisingly timid dance moves.

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The Czech Republic (in a white wedding dress – is white it, this year?) lowers the mood with a labouring tune. The most exciting thing that happens on stage is when Gabriella’s hair suddenly comes loose…is that it? Apparently! Second last at 25th.

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The Netherland’s Paul Kelly (Douwe Bob) offers a full band and 3-piece suits. Some apparently liked it – 11th place.

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Azerbaijan’s Samra wears a marvellous jumpsuit (perhaps left over from last year’s Eurovision?). Her backup dancer/singers are dressed as football players but apparently can’t sing or dance. The audience and judges were equally confused – 17th place.

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Hungary’ Freddy in a, yes, you guessed it, white, T-shirt. Even the backing whistlers are wearing T-shirts. Such sartorial sloppiness is swiftly relegated to 19th place.

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Francesca from Italy takes the stage in a deconstructed garden. She borrowed Freddy’s T-shirt and found some abandoned dungarees. Her song was sweet and full of hope for a more fashionable future – 16th place.

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Israel’s Hovi, whose hair appeared to have had an earlier run in with a rogue wind machine, is accompanied on stage by co-joined twins trapped in a hula-hoop. A respectable 14th!

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Bulgaria’s Poli and her posse from Blake 7 delivers an upbeat number that clearly struck a chord with Europe – 4th place.

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A big cheer welcomes Sweden to the stage with young Frans (that white T-shirt is still making its rounds). Frans is working the crowd with the tiniest dance steps ever, richly rewarded with place 5th.

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Finally, some stage fog for Germany’s Jamie-Lee, who was allowed to dress herself, with devastating outcomes – last place!

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The white T-shirt is back, this time on France’s Amir, who carries an energetic performance, mostly in French, to a deserved 6th place – best placing for France in decades!

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Poland’s circus director/vampire Michal commands a string quintet and eerily reminds me of Conchita. It was the key change that propelled this otherwise languid tune into place 8.

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Australia is up next: Dami is stuck on a black box, mimicking to the visual effects from the Minority Report. Australia’s love affair with Eurovision continues – an amazing 2nd place!

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Rightly placed behind bars, Cyprus requires several cubic tons of stage fog to obscure the ridiculous onstage antics. This goes no further than 21st place.

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Serbia’s Sanja defeats unwelcome advances on stage. The leather outfits could not distract from the off key singing – 18th place.

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Bless Donni from Lithuania for wearing a white leather jacket – there is just not enough of that…EVER! He flirts with the audience, does somersaults and sails into 9th place.

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Croatia’s Nina easily has the best outfit for the evening. An XL sized kimono, ripped off by some dark figures, revealing some sort of jellyfish tentacles. Despite the dress and the mother of all key changes, Croatia does not make it beyond 23rd place.

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Sergey is Russia’s equivalent to Ricky Martin, only straight, of course. Dressed as a dentist Satanist (where is that white T-shirt from earlier?), he performs against the best onstage LED display for the evening. Many, many points propel him into 3rd place.

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All I remember from Spain is a glittery basketball t-shirt and a swan dive on stage – 22nd place.

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Latvia’s Justs was so much less than Donni from Lithuania and imminently forgettable –15th place.

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The Ukraine (in electric blue) delivers a haunting (or just off key?) song, retelling the horrors of  war in the Crimean. Clearly the political message was a winner with Europe and after a tight point finish, the Ukraine will host Eurovision 2017!

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Malta’s Ira quickly lowers the tone with a dress crevasse and one very excellent leg (the other one stays hidden). Windmachines are working overtime, as is the sole dancer on stage – 12th place.

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Georgia’s attempt at giving Eurovision the finger worked – 20th pace!

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Zoe from Austria is dressed as a Disney princess and sings about laughing and singing……not even unicorns could be happier. A solid 13th place.

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Joe and Jake from the UK appear in t-shirts, leather jackets and two drummers. Still not enough: 24th place.

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Ivetta from Armenia is bathed in stage fog and dressed as a gymnast ready to compete in the pommel horse. I have said it before, great blow wave: 7th place!

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For the intermission, Petra and Mans deliver a humorous medley of all Eurovision clichés we have seen over the years (including guest appearances by Lordi, Alexander Rybak and that ice skater used by Russia’s Dimi back in 2008).

And just in case the audience did not get how grotesque Eurovision is, Justin Timberlake’s performance drives home the point.

Highlights from the voting shenanigans: the Iceland presenter appeared with a dog. Other than that we had the usual geopolitical block voting and excruciating small talk from the local presenters: Good evening Stockholm, this is Valetta calling…..

I am off to buy a white leather jacket…..I already have a white t-shirt!

Many thanks for seeing through Eurovision 2016 with us! See you next year in Kiev!

Club Douze Points

Moldova, Montenegro and Sweden

Moldova
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Falling Stars by Lidia Isac

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So, I love anything astronomical, and Lidia serves up swirling galaxies on a bed of Balkan disco beat. I predict this will be on rotation at Club Med all around the Black Sea this summer (sadly Moldova has geographically been denied access to the Black Sea). Just a word of warning: listening to this more than three times will open a black hole in your heart!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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Montenegro
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The Real Thing by Highway

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Is this the real thing? Oh….that is quite disappointing then. The best thing about this performance is the dancer: a resolute, if not slightly angry young woman who, like I, seems to be quite disappointed with this entry from Montenegro.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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Sweden
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If I were sorry by Frans

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Where was the Swedish Tourist Board when this video was made? Sweden has never looked so derelict.  Frans will attempt to win Eurovision glory back to back for Sweden, but I don’t know if teenage emo with a bit of ‘meh’ will win over the voting grandmothers of Eurovisionland.  Even if Frans is not sorry,  I surely am!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania

Ireland
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Sunlight by Nicky Byrne

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Former Westlifer Nicky Byrne – better known as Ireland’s second sexiest man 2014 – is carrying the hopes of the Republic this year with the pop-ballad ‘Sunshine’. It’s pretty standard fare, but there’s the hint of a foot-tapping groove, and I enjoy the irony of an Irishman singing about sunlight (note the lack of location-shots in the accompanying video). It’s an outside chance.

Review by Tom White

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Bulgaria
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If Love Were a Crime by Poli Genova

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If love were a crime, then Poli Genova would be in jail for beating that lyrical conceit to death. She’d be sharing a cell with her weird necktie thing, which is surely committing a fashion crime. Otherwise, this entry is totally forgettable generic Eurotrash; here’s hoping the song doesn’t make bail or the finals.

Review by Scott Fabricant

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Lithuania
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I’ve Been Waiting for This Night by Donny Montell

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I specifically want to review the music video version, because honestly that party looks pretty dope. As in, all the dope they probably lit up before filming. I think I just saw a girl blow a handful of popcorn at the camera while over in the corner people are stroking each other’s furry coats. Neither is a euphemism. Feelingly clearly overwhelmed by all the sensory stimuli in their current drug-addled state, the singer and his lyrically mandated date roam the streets, wave sparklers in each other’s faces, blow smoke in each other’s mouths, and eat kebabs as come-down munchies. So, another night in King’s Cross Lithuania I guess.

Oh you wanted me to review the song? It’s decent I guess. Typical bubblegum boy-pop. It’s pretty catchy, like crabs in a King’s Cross nightclub. He’ll do alright for himself, on the scoreboard and the afterparty.

Review by Scott Fabricant

Greece, Hungary and United Kingdom

Greece
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Utopian Land by Agros

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Greece has had a tough couple of years: ongoing financial instability, continuous arrival of refugees and now this! Agros dishes up an annoying ethno-urban melange that goes nowhere. It starts off with pesky fiddles that always sound a half-tone off and some Balkan wailing. It’s downhill from there: a simplistic chorus interspersed with rapping (admittedly in Greek). Even the robots back in 2002 (S.A.G.A.P.O.) were more inspiring.

The video alludes to Pheidippides’ heroic run by from Marathon to Athens reporting the defeat of Darius’ Persian forced by Miltiades. And indeed Argos’ 3 minute song does feel like a 42 km run!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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Hungary
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Pioneer by Freddie

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Hello Hungary!!! Look, I like this a lot (to be honest, I like everything Hungarian), despite the ridiculous hair, the rustic shirt, the superfluous whistling, possibly illegal use of a buddhist monk look-alike drumming and backing singers wielding light sabers. Go Freddie!!!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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United Kingdom
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You are not alone by Joe and Jack

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With a free-pass into the finals one would hope the UK would take some risks, but in instead they inflict upon us the visually and aurally indistinguishable Joe & Jake. In a clear attempt to tap into the fanbase/profits of the now-defunct One Direction and the now-adult Bieber, we’re dragged through three minutes of being ‘in this together’, ‘ready forever’, and ‘your parachute when you fall’. If you listen carefully, you can hear the gears of the autotuner groaning under the weight of melodic mediocrity.

Review by Tom White