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

 

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

 

Serbia, San Marino, Albania and the Netherlands

Serbia
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Goodbye (Shelter) by Sanja Vučić ZAA

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I think the full orchestra is largely ornamental here but it’s a gutsy song with oo-ooo-ooo BVs that amp up the soulful feel nicely. Is it OK to channel Amy Winehouse yet, though? Too soon??

Review by Nansi Richards

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San Marino
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I Didn’t Know by Serhat

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San Marino is probably most famous for a defunct car race that occurred in Italy. Being used to this level of anonymity, one might have thought that the citizens of the Most Serene Republic (look it up) would shy away from the brutality of Eurovision competition. But no! They have Serhat, a man who seems to think to that singing isn’t necessary at a song contest. If this is an attempt to raise San Marino’s profile, I’d say it is a failure, perhaps they should get the Italians on the phone and ask about the race.

Review by Matt Bruce

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Albania
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Fairy Tail by Eneda Tarifa

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Eneda Tarifa manages to pull off a reasonable impression of a James Bond theme song. Unfortunately for Eneda, this isn’t a movie soundtrack, it’s Eurovision and this number doesn’t quite hit the heights required to pull in the douze points. Soaring finale, nope, memorable key change, nope, culturally inappropriate costume, nope. Sorry Albania, no grand final for you.

Review by Matt Bruce

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The Netherlands
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Slow Down by Douwe Bob

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This year the Dutch have dispensed with their (unintentionally) entertaining , yet ultimately  unsuccessful dalliance with novelty acts. Here we have a boy band meets James Taylor ditty from Douwe Bob and his two mates. A bit dull really, perhaps the Dutch should stick to whatever  they are good at for Eurovision [I can’t think of anything at the moment, insert your own thoughts here]. Either way they seem to be stuck in the second division for now, but at least they could have some more fun.

Review by Matt Bruce