France, Georgia and Greece

FranceMadame Monsieur: Mercy

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.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

GeorgiaEthno-Jazz Band Iriao: For You

Every wondered what happens to boy bands in Georgia when they mature? Wonder no more! They morph into Ethno-Jazz bands, wear grey knitted wests and bore the hell out of Eurovision. Nil points!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

GreeceYianna Terzi: Oniro Mou

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!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Czech Republic and Georgia

Czech RepublicMy Turn, by Martina Bárta

Following a five year apathy-driven absence from the competition, the Czech Republic made their first ever finals appearance in 2016. This landed them a respectable (loosely speaking) 25th place, and the hopes of surpassing this effort now rest with the jazz sensibilities of Martina Bárta. Unfortunately this quasi-naked, touchy-feely, hair-centric piano ballad offers few surprises. The chorus does build to a reasonable hook, and it might be enough to squeeze through to a second final, though I don’t foresee a strong finish for the Czech Republic this year.  

Review by Tom White

GeorgiaKeep the Faith, by Tamara Gachechiladze

It’s difficult to get excited about an artist whose brief opens with the striking claim that she “…has taken part in a number of national and international festivals and creative events”. This lack of enthusiasm is not misplaced, and carries right through this year’s copyright-infringeriffic offering from Georgia. The central hook of ‘Keep the Faith’, along with much of the instrumentation, is lifted directly from Adele’s theme for ‘Skyfall’. That song did win an academy award, and it overlaid one of the best Bond films in years, so full points to Tamara for fine taste and sheer audacity if nothing else.

Review by Tom White

Poland, Israel and Georgia

Poland
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Colour of your Life by Michał Szpak

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Stringing together a range of clichés is a tried and true Eurovision song-writing strategy…. No smoke without fire, try to figure out who you really are, don’t be afraid of your destiny etc. etc……   and a full five-piece boy-band might actually have been able to carry this number. The appropriate suite of synchronised dance moves and earnest facial poses would, at least, have appealed to some segments of the audience. As it is, poor Michal has to work his fine cheek bones and pouty-lips five-times as hard all by himself! He also sports five-times as much hair.

Review by Nansi Richards

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Made of Stars by Hovi Star

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Anthemic in the best Eurovision tradition, Mr Star (apparently his real name) has a rather lovely voice. Appropriately attired for the night, he also has highly-sculpted hair, a long goth coat and a penchant for gesturing sky-ward. I think the distinction between stars and drones may have eluded the producers of the promo video though. One hopes this is not too easy a mistake to make in Tel Aviv. Possibly a bit gloomy for the big night and exuberant crowds.

Working in his favour, Mr Star received decidedly shabby treatment in Moscow on a recent Eurovision promo tour. Knowing how desperately President Putin longs for their approval, Eurovision voters quite like to thumb their noses at such unpleasantness. If this translates into points for Israel (as opposed to points off for Russia), Mr Star should at least make it through to the final.

Review by Nansi Richards

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Georgia
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Midnight Gold by Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz

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Both the band and the punters are justifiably mystified as to why this was Georgia’s entry this year.

These guys ooze obscure references and hipster disinterest. They’re way too cool for Eurovision. I’d be amazed if they even show up, frankly.

Review by Nansi Richards