Combining traditional Albanian drum and pipes with reggae beats and a very melodious chorus, Ronela is throwing down the musical gauntlet – just not sure anyone will pick it up. As in every year, Albania is testing our patience with this cacophony of sounds: big, bold and relentless. And as in every year, it won’t go well… no further than the semi-finals, I am afraid!
Review by Mariella Herberstein
Croatia – Mia Dimšić: Guilty Pleasure
This stripped back performance of Mia and her guitar is sweet, authentic and speaks of guilty desires. While the sound leans heavily on Taylor Swift, the real risk is that it could just be drowned out by the other big, ostentatious on-stage performances. Still, good enough for the finales!
Review by Mariella Herberstein
Germany – Malik Harris: Rockstars
A strong, emotional and heartfelt start that gives way to an angry, frustrated and lengthy soliloquy (Eminem-esque), rather than the expected high energy crescendo and key-change. While Malik gets an automatic entry into the finales, he won’t be able to break Germany’s Eurovision drought over the last 7 years not ranking above 25 (the exception being a 4th place in 2018).
Anxehla belts out a classic Eurovision power ballad with everything you hoped for: wailing pipes, a plunging décolletage, a key change and a truck load of regrets. The deceptive soft start quickly gives way to a heavy drum beat, a rogue clarinet and Anxehia’s imposing yodel – oh boy!
Stefania travels by Pegasus (a winged horse of sorts), heavily sampling the 80s (think Kim Wild and Never Ending Story) encouraging us to dance. The song is inoffensive and imminently forgettable. With her Durch background, here is hoping for some sympathy points from the host country.
Germanys entrant Michael Schulte started his career playing covers on youtube, and he possibly should have stayed there. He has a pleasing, clear voice, and the piano accompaniment gives the performance heart, but I feel like he doesn’t have the oompf to win this competition. Then again, Eurovision does have a long running obsession with lustrous hair, so Schultes thick curly locks may give him the edge he needs.
Well, the odd’s aren’t in Montenegros favour. In fact they come in right about last alongside San Marino and Slovenia. But that doesn’t mean that this year’s entrant Vanja Radovanović doesn’t have a lot to offer. His entry has an eery overtone and tells a story of love and loss in a snow swept landscape. The natural vistas and accompanying ballroom string orchestra (not to mention the giant chess set) give the entry a sense of drama and suspense. I look forward to the full length movie feature.
Call me a pushover, but I was instantly charmed by Alexander Rybak’s profile photo, where he wears a plain t-shirt and an earnest smile. His entry “that’s how you write a song” is just as sweet, and follows the story of a young boy who writes to ask Alexander advice on how to write a song (surprisingly enough). The catchy beat will definitely appeal to the tweens in the audience and his open, friendly demeanour is hard not to like. The video is simple but includes people from all walks of like, so I give him extra points for community spirit.
Germany’s offering this year starts with some promise, but it’s unfortunate that promise doesn’t really belong to them… I’m calling plagiarism. Here is Levina. Here is Sia and David Guetta (who themselves borrowed fairly heavily from the stalky number from The Police…) Apparently it’s the year for it – check out Tom White’s review of Georgia.
Alas, Levina doesn’t quite follow through with her suggestion that ‘Perfect Life’ might be another perfect banger of a pop anthem, as it rather fizzles at the chorus and never quite recovers. Indeed, in the official video, we see her start to dance a few times before realising her tune doesn’t really lend itself to that sort of thing. Whoops.
A catchy, cheerful number with lyrics that, for reasons you can’t put your finger on, don’t quite pass as native English (“So when it’s all or nothing, I put my nerves in the coffin”), as well as a pithy refrain about Grabbing the Moment. Tick, and tick. Also, this is the first use of (ostensibly) live sampling/looping that I recall from the ESC stage. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t someone building layers with a cello, but this will do. A troop of back-flipping Scandinavian dancers wouldn’t go astray on the night, though I fear he might prefer his Kylo Ren-ish masked DJ buddies instead – what a lost opportunity.
The chorus line of this song ‘Gonna take a miracle’ seems to betray a lack of confidence in Azerbaijan’s ability to take home the Eurovision crown. Why so skittish Azerbaijan? Alongside a growling synth track underlying some sick beats Samra brings the goods with her powerful voice, finely sculpted eyebrows and a delightful slathering of sass. In other words, don’t fuck with Samra.
Azerbaijan’s Eurovision dreams could not be in more capable hands. She seems like the kind of woman who can run in heels and manage a fledging online start-up company to fiscal stability. And if there isn’t a place for her in the Eurovision hall of fame, perhaps there’s one in local government or middle management.
Review by James O’Hanlon
Ghost by Jamie-Lee
After the young, black-haired, pixie-faced 2014 Eurovision champion Lena failed to bring home the goods again in 2015, Germany has decided to shake things up by sending another young, black-haired, pixie-faced songstress, this time wearing a fascinator. The Eurovision powerhouse that is Germany is likely to do well this year, but will the fascinator and eclectic accoutrements carry Jamie-Lee to victory? Probably not.
In my opinion Jamie-Lee simply doesn’t take quirky fashion far enough. It’s as if she was heading to a cosplay convention but didn’t have time put together a decent costume.
Which brings me to my prediction for Eurovision 2017- ‘Furries’ are about to hit the scene in a big way. Whole bands of them! Imagine the Spice Girls, but instead of band members dressing as brit-culture-stereotypes we get purple wolves and fluorescent yellow fennec foxes. Mark my words, 2017 will be the year the Furries hit Eurovision.
Review by James O’Hanlon
You are the Only One by Servey Lazarev
If you have a LAN party coming up then Sergey Lazarev’s ‘You are the Only One’ could be the soundtrack to which you frag your nearest and dearest. Russia seem to have taken a retro angle by bringing us a song that sounds eerily like the soundtrack to a 1990’s video game.
Filling you with equal parts enthusiasm and the soulless shame that comes with enjoying any pop-song, ‘You are the Only One’ is a solid effort with one major drawback – Sergey simply doesn’t take his shirt off enough. With all the money and time that has apparently been invested into chest waxing and sit-ups this seems like a lost opportunity. Does Russia want to win Eurovision or not??? As my grandfather always used to say, the sun got nowhere to shine till you get them guns out son!