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.
Political statements are not new to Eurovision. The Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia have all had a go at Russia along the years. Why, Portugal even started a political coup to the sound of ‘E Depois Do Adeus’ by Paulo de Cavalho in 1974.
Similarly, Madam Monsieur are making an unambiguous statement about plight of asylum seekers (the orange life jackets are a sure give away). However, unlike leather clad Ruslana, with her thumping performance or Jamala’s ear piercing assault, France’s mercy is lost in elegant subtlety. Definitely no where near the top 10.
Not unlike the goddess Athena, who burst forth from Zeus’ forehead, Yianna ’emerged from a musical family of professional singers’. In young years, she embarked on the heroine’s journey that took Yianna to foreign lands (USA), where she faced hideous beasts (mostly Celine Dion) to reluctantly return home (Cyprus Music Awards). And just like Odysseus’ return to Ithaca, no one really recognises Yianna but for the housekeeper. The song? A tragedy!
This years’ French entry is surely scandalous in France – its clear there has been far too much focus on this year’s election and they have sorely neglected their responsibilities as ambassadors of Europe. The song frankly suffers from confused cultural identity. Of all the nations, this is somewhat shocking as the French nation are so proud of their culture and yet this song has not a sliver of romance nor the welcomed gypsy chaos of a raging accordion in fact this song is a mile-long baguette from any beret. To be honest if I had not known this a French number before listening to it, I would have mistaken it as poor verson of a Gloria Estefan pop number. And to make things even more confusing Alma throws in three English words in the chorus! When asked about that Alma replied: “We decided to add English to the original version in order to reach a larger audience, I hope that if people can understand a part of the song they are more likely to like it!” Since when does France care about the rest of the world!! Don’t get me wrong Alma is very kind on the eye but I found my thoughts continually drifting off as the song is pretty dull and seemingly very long for Eurovision song. I do hope though Alma brings her shimmering jeans and they manage to have tango dancers dancing along the walls that would certainly increase the interest.
What do you get when you put youtube sensations ‘Epic sax guy’ and ‘Epic violin guy’ in the same room as a deadringer for Justin Timberlake? You end up with the band Sunstroke project with a pretty catchy little ditty about erotic baking. Well that’s what I gleamed from the film clip – the egg breaking sequence is priceless. It’s a real toe tapper and it has some classic elements such as Alexander Rybak inspired violin but with neon edges and a night wearing sunglasses sax player that Corey hart would have died for. My only real disappointment is that there is not an epic sax/violin solo off in the middle – it is surely a missed opportunity given the epicness of the band members. When asked what is one of the most interesting aspects of their entry they replied ‘Our performance looks like a small wedding on stage’. Small weddings are genuinely associated with Vegas and apparently, what happens in Vegas is meant to stay in Vegas so not sure who let them out nonetheless their offspring are bound to be epic.
I will put it out there right now. This is just not Eurovision. This Jack Johnson inspired number is too mainstream for this competition. I just spent a field trip in North Queensland where every second song on the radio was Ed Sheeran and between those songs were announcers mentioning Ed Sheeran. I feel this song is commercial radios attempt to further promote Ed Sheeran. Oh by the way this song is not sung by Ed Sheeran but Manuel Navarro whose key inspiration is apparently – yes you guessed it – Ed Sheeran. His other apparent inspiration is Bob Dylan this is not is not so evident. The chorus is far too repetitive and frankly is pretty frustrating. He just states Do it for your lover over and over without actually tell us what IT is? Unless it turns out Manuel Navarro is actually Ed Sheeran I cannot see this one getting too far up the charts.
Verdict = Ed Sheeran will sell another million records on his way to total world domination…oh and this song will tank badly at the Eurovision song contest
Well Triana Park have truly brought it to Eurovision this year for Lativa. This Kate Bush-Bjork-esque inspired pop number is sophisticated and musically intriguing for an electronica-drum-guitar combination. It’s not a toe-tapper that will bring the house down but it is surprisingly intellectually engaging. And as a result, they have not a hope in hell of winning Eurovision. Although according to their profile they love banana pancakes with Nutella and we all know I loathe bananas and consider them to be the devil’s fruit which means their direct connection to the devil potentially gives them some hope even in hell.
Verdict = Quirky, intriguing and cool so not a chance of winning
J’ai cherché, Amir – an ambassador for France and an advocate for dental hygiene
We have Bono, Madonna, Pink and now the newest member to the one named artist – Amir. Amir recalls watching Eurovision with his family as a kid betting on the outcome. He hopes his family will back him this year. To be honest they will earn more money betting on the runners up than backing this number. It surely will attract the shortest of odds to win this year’s Eurovision competition.
The French tend to treat this competition as something they are obliged to do being part of the European Union and all. Usually the French just do their thing and do not care about the opinions of those pesky lesser European nations. But not this year! I feel a wave of change and a sense they are finally hungry for victory and will do anything to achieve it. My evidence to support this claim:
The chorus is in english – WHAT! I hear you exclaim in complete disbelief? Its true! And it is not forced, it is not even weird but in fact it’s close to brilliance!
The tune sticks in your head like a limpet sticks to a rock in the intertidal zone – it has one of those annoyingly catchy clapping sequences, a nice ‘woo-oo-oo’ (I like nothing more than a good bit of onomatopoeia in a song) and, a beat that will propel people from their seats to dance.
The only people that will not get up and dance to this number will be those transfixed by how damn good looking this guy is. It hurts even my eyes. And he is not even vacuous! Damn it! He is a self-proclaimed mega-geek who loves all the latest new gadgets and by all accounts comes from a wholesome family albeit a family of gamblers.
One of the secrets to his manly beauty is his ridiculously good teeth. Not surprising considering he used to be a dental surgeon. Apparently he just woke up one day and decided he had enough of filling everyone else’s cavities and it was time to fill his own deep cavity with musical love; and a few croissants I suspect.
The song is a motivational anthem. It is about staying true to your dreams. Based on his own rags to riches story to some extent – a kid that dreamed of being on the big stage to a dental surgeon to the Voice finalist to the winner of Eurovision – Aesop could not have written a more epic saga.
His message of gender equality. His video shows two kids from the ghetto on a road to success a girl who makes it to the Olympics as a kickboxer and boy that becomes a professional ballet dancer – I secretly hope they are his back-up dancers.
Verdict: I am going to make a big call – this will win Eurovision this year. I do not have to listen to anything else – over and out!
Review by Matt Bulbert
Icebreaker by Agnete
Icebreakers. They’re the latest hot (as it were) target for national science program funding. The UK and Australia are both in the process of commissioning a new icebreaker for a cool half billion each, then making the absurd decision to let the general public name it in an effort to capture hearts and minds.
Will Norway’s new Icebreaker pull it off? Or just get stuck, prompting a month long, multi-national rescue operation during which everybody on board is left telling the same jokes over and over because there hasn’t been anything new to talk about in weeks? And what sort of stroby magic will the lighting designer do with that half-time chorus? Time will tell.
Review by Ingrid Errington
Apparently two entirely separate Norwegian songs got together and entered Eurovision this year. Neither of them were particularly spectacular to begin with and joining forces certainly didn’t improve things. Agnete opts for wearing snowflakes rather than having them flying around her head like other entrants (Austria). It may be less distracting for her but it’s a bit on the dull side for the audience. Someone is thrashing around behind her in a glass box to give us something else to look at though. This is probably meant to be a block of ice. Hmmm….
Review by Nansi Richards
Heartbeat by Justs
If the real Mr Timberlake shows up on the night (and if Latvia gets through to the final), this abbreviated version will really struggle to shine. Justs builds himself up to some pretty rock-vocals but it makes for a slightly odd mash-up with the trance-beat of this song. He really means it though. The lighting crew was clearly out of ideas, hit the auto-pilot button and took a well-earned break. Heartbeat? So much potential imagery to work with here. Wasted!