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

 

Armenia, Australia, Belgium

ArmeniaFly With Me by Artsvik

I recon these are the horse people from Game of Thrones – only more dressed, which is an odd thing to say for Eurovision! Anyway, the hair and the baseline are great! Yes, there is a bit of wailing, but it is a delicate kind of wailing. So, I think Armenia is onto something good here….finals or extras in the new GOT season?

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Australia

Don’t Come Easy By Isaiah

 

And so the romance between Eurovision and Australia continues! After two top 10 positions, will Isaiah clinch Eurovision victory for Australia??? He certainly has the best eyebrows of the competition. In an eyebrow-off with Ireland’s Brendan Murray,  Isaiah would win without batting an eyelid. But can the eyebrows make up for a fairly boring song, sung well admittedly, but still boring? I am tempted to say: Yes! Why not! Bring on the finals for Australia!!!!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Belgium

City Lights by Blanche

So, I had fairly low expectations, here – Belgium is pretty mediocre at Eurovision (and possibly in general). But to my surprise, Blanche delivers a catchy, atmospheric, yet languid number. Following her accountancy degree, Blanche has had extensive training as a ventriloquist and you can barely see her lips move. Her onstage performance includes striding.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Australia, Slovenia and Macedonia

Australia
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Sound of Silence by Dami Im 

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Welcome back to Eurovision! I am your loyal American correspondent, Scott. First on the European agenda is the Australian entry by Korean-born Dami Im. After last year’s subliminal messaging by Guy Sebastian, Australia is in fact doing Eurovision night again and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be reverse-colonizing Europe’s borders …again. This year, Australia opts for a more ironic theme with Dami’s “Sound of Silence”.

This rousing powerful ballad is anything but silent, and Dami’s pipes are more than a match for Europe’s finest. In classic fashion she stands on her own, eschewing gimmicks and backup bands in favour of her own talent and fashion sense, although in modern Australian tradition she does bring along a piece of man-candy. Is he contact-juggling his own body? The song itself has a catchy if redundant lyrical hook, a deep beat, and a moving bridge. Needs more wind machine. I doubt it’ll win, but my hope is that it places high enough and draws enough advertising dollars that we can do tonight thrice. We may be here on this blog as neutral and objective scientists, but when it comes to Australia I will always have the journalistic objectivity of Fox News.

Review by Scott Fabricant

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Slovenia
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Blue and Red by ManuElla

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America has a proud tradition of country music, deep fried oreos, and casual racism. While 2016 has demonstrated that Europe is certainly not lacking in the latter, I do feel as though the Eurovision song contest, long dominated by bubblegum pop with a dark horse streak of Scandinavian metal and electrotrash, would really benefit from some country soul. Here to save our souls is Slovenia.

All good country music is about break ups, and this song is no exception. I think. It might actually be about finger painting in primary colours, as the singer’s faux-Tennessee accent is almost as impenetrable as Fort Knox, but her yodelling game is on point and that’s really what country music is about. Her slick-but-pointless costume change is a welcome flourish, and I appreciate how the white-to-red swap against a blue stage background pays homage to her source material (USA! USA! USA!). Ultimately she’s no Taylor Swift, but the novelty of her entry (and the high power of her wind machine) will propel her into the finals. While she’s unlikely to win, I do hope she spurs a mini Lordi Effect and we hear more banjos in Eurovision future.

Review by Scott Fabricant

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Macedonia
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Dona by Kaliopi

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What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual, of course. What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual. And a person who only speaks one language? An American! Naturally I have no idea what Kaliopi is singing about (donut donut donut…), but that in no way hampers my enjoyment of this song. After a beautiful opening sequence of Kaliopi walking through a fancy hotel blinged out in high end robes, the production budget suddenly runs dry (much like the broader Macedonian economy).

We are unexpectedly transported to the magical land of 1980’s green screen as Kalopi is projected with all the choppy finesse of a high schooler with Photoshop into a gorgeous theatre that she probably doesn’t have the talent to get into the old-fashioned way. She does keep singing after this point, a suitably 80’s ballad with suitably 80’s bangs, but frankly I’m too bored by her and distracted by the CGI to pay attention. Honestly I think she missed her true calling; if/when she fails at Eurovision, she should try her hand at being a surfer, as her wetsuit pleather pants and surfs-up dance routines would really make waves on the Australian market. Just don’t come by boat.

Review by Scott Fabricant

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