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.
Ok, Kobi can SING! He has this boy-band/Gregorian Chant thing going for him, and anyone that can harmonise with themselves will always be a winner for me. He is fast becoming Israel’s new ‘national sweetheart’- but he is far removed from last year’s crazy cat lady winner in terms of outrageousness. And to be honest, his lyrics about being someone and finally coming home is a little bit on the nose, especially when you think about that little political and religious ‘scuffle’ that Israel is currently in. But Eurovision isn’t about politics. It’s about sequins and wind machines and glorious key changes, and as a half German, half Israeli, English-born Australian citizen, I can guarantee that it’s all about rooting for your own country to win, and Australia the one o in the finals, so GO KATE!!
Well, it’s not even in question as to why Greece made the cut for the finals this year. Katerine Duska is the result of Grace Jones and Katy Perry having a sensuous love baby together and then wrapping that baby up in pink tulle, flesh-coloured lycra and fake pearls superglued to its long fingers. The main question that I came up with is, have I been wearing tights wrong my whole life? Are the underpants supposed to be on the outside?? My mother taught me many things, but how to wear tights was obviously not one of them. Anyway, this song is pretty nice, and Katerine’s voice has this husky bedroom quality to it that had me captivated. Will she wear the flesh-coloured lycra on stage for the finals? I hope not..
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!
I had high hopes for Greece this year, expecting an explosive crescendo after the gentle build up. But sadly, Demi just does not reach the screeching heights that Anja from Denmark easily scales. Still, Demi’s video promotes diversity, which surely is a good thing….although with a maximum of 6 people on stage in Kiev, the effect might be somewhat restraint.
Hungary has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Freddy did a great job last year, and my all time favourite is Katie Wolf back in 2015. But Joci is giving us something special. A haunting ethno sound over electronic beats sung in Hungarian. I like it so much that I am willing to forgive the fiddles and the fact that Joci is a samurai.
Greece has had a tough couple of years: ongoing financial instability, continuous arrival of refugees and now this! Agros dishes up an annoying ethno-urban melange that goes nowhere. It starts off with pesky fiddles that always sound a half-tone off and some Balkan wailing. It’s downhill from there: a simplistic chorus interspersed with rapping (admittedly in Greek). Even the robots back in 2002 (S.A.G.A.P.O.) were more inspiring.
The video alludes to Pheidippides’ heroic run by from Marathon to Athens reporting the defeat of Darius’ Persian forced by Miltiades. And indeed Argos’ 3 minute song does feel like a 42 km run!
Review by Mariella Herberstein
Pioneer by Freddie
Hello Hungary!!! Look, I like this a lot (to be honest, I like everything Hungarian), despite the ridiculous hair, the rustic shirt, the superfluous whistling, possibly illegal use of a buddhist monk look-alike drumming and backing singers wielding light sabers. Go Freddie!!!
Review by Mariella Herberstein
You are not alone by Joe and Jack
With a free-pass into the finals one would hope the UK would take some risks, but in instead they inflict upon us the visually and aurally indistinguishable Joe & Jake. In a clear attempt to tap into the fanbase/profits of the now-defunct One Direction and the now-adult Bieber, we’re dragged through three minutes of being ‘in this together’, ‘ready forever’, and ‘your parachute when you fall’. If you listen carefully, you can hear the gears of the autotuner groaning under the weight of melodic mediocrity.