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

 

Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Romania

Ireland

Dying to Try by Brendan Murray

Rumour has it that, as a young child, Brendan Murray’s cheeks were pinched so vigorously by passing octogenarians that he required reconstructive surgery. They say he is paid entirely in crocheted doilies and lemon tea-cakes, and is banned from releasing a Christmas album amidst fears that it would induce a mass attack of the vapours across the British Isles.

With good looks and titanium-reinforced cheekbones Brendan Murray brings dollops of gorgeousness to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. His melancholy tune about struggling to maintain relationships has one of the most impressive key changes of this year’s line up, and has left women across Europe wondering why their daughters can’t find themselves a nice young man like Brendan. His eyebrows alone are guaranteed to get him as far as the semi-finals.

Review by James O’Hanlon

 

IcelandPaper by Svala

Svala has been granted sabbatical leave from the Borg to represent Iceland this year. The song ‘Paper’, precisely crafted to suit the musical requirements of the assimilated masses, is unsurprisingly mediocre. Nevertheless you will vote for Iceland, resistance is futile. It’s robotic rhythms and synth melodies are perfect listening for the next time you are cruising through the grid on your light cycle. Keep an eye out for the key change goose-step late in the song – a well-timed and subtle build to… nothing at all. Clearly key-changes do not compute.

Review by James O’Hanlon

 

PortugalAmar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral

Salvador Sobral was orphaned on the streets of Lisbon as a child. Thankfully a flock of canaries took him in and raised him as one of their own. Years later he was discovered working in a mineshaft – cramped inside a small cage and entertaining the workers with his gentle melodies. Now a full grown man and successful performer, Salvador collaborates with his sister Luisa – who wrote this song and most definitely isn’t pissed about Salvador getting all the credit.

Surprisingly this song, ‘Amor Pelos Dios’ is one of the most coherent Eurovision efforts we have heard from Portugal since, well, ever! The orchestration is tasteful, the soft piano melody is whimsical, and the singing is, believe it or not, in key. Portugal, you have surprised us all and have done well! Maybe you should get Salvador and Luisa to look into your national debt problems, it’s not like they could do any harm.

Review by James O’Hanlon

 

Romania

Yodel It! By Ilinca feat. Alex Flora

It’s Eurovision! Of course there is yodelling! I’m proud to say that Romania have inspired my latest tattoo. The phrase ‘Yodel It!” has been carved into my chest and sits nicely in between my “#YOLO” and “Frankie Says Relax” tatts.

Equal parts East 17, Aqua, and von Trapp family, Romania pairs a seductive yodeller in a leprechaun suit with a tone-deaf rapper to create this year’s abomination. Seriously it’s terrible. Me thinks the novelty value won’t float this boat very far and Romania are likely to sink early on in the quarter finals.

Review by James O’Hanlon

Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belarus

Armenia
Armenia

LoveWave by Iveta Mukuchyan

photographer_Armen_Aghayan

Iveta is overcome by a LoveWave, the source of which is a dashingly handsome and hairy Ewin Mcgregor. Emotions have taken hold, and all Iveta can do is screech: uhhhhuhhhuuhhhhuuuhhh. The wailing is artfully amplified by the Armenian Duduk – an ancient, yet annoying reed instrument.  On the plus side, Iveta is sporting a blow wave, the like of which I have not seen since Farrah Fawcett. Also, Iveta has very well shaped eyebrows!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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Bosnia & Herzegovina
ba

Ljubav Je by Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner and Jala

ES__11_of_14__Ana_Rucner__Fuad_Backovi___Deen__Dalal_Midhat_Talaki____Jasmin_Fazli___Jala

It’s been twelve long years since Deen graced the Eurovision stage with his oh-so-subtle pelvic thrusting, rhinestone-clad, mouth-gaping ‘In the Disco‘, replete with its concerning message about body image.

It may be best to think of ‘Ljubav Je’ as an opportunistic longitudinal study on the effects of aging on the human body. Dependent variables of interest could include hair quantity, hair location, voice pitch and surface area to volume ratio. The next measurement is due in 2028.

Not even France is entirely en français this year, so take this opportunity to drink for a song in a native language.

Review by Ingrid Errington

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Belarus
Belarus

Help you fly by IVAN

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Belarus has sent the love child of Ron Weasley and Kylo-Ren to Eurovision. This could be interesting, but sadly is not. IVAN extrudes a whiny metal ballad that could have been ripped off the back catalog of Scorpion  (remember ‘wind of change’?). While the screen display behind IVAN offers moments of distraction, the viewer is left wondering why he wants to help wolves fly?

Rumours have it that IVAN is planning to perform naked with real wolves – nothing less if he wants a chance to get into the finals.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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Iceland, Austria and Finland

Iceland
Iceland

Hear Them Calling by Greta Salóme

greta-promo

As a final year PhD student, this song was a surprise because it’s remarkably accurate in its description of my past couple of weeks. Hearing whispers in the hallways even though nobody else is left working so late in my lab in the basement, stumbling outside to find it now cold and dark after a 13 hour day without windows. Then running to make my train because it’s the off-peak timetable and the next service isn’t for 20 minutes…

Perhaps it’s all those solvents; perhaps the ghosts of postgrads past.

Greta represented Iceland a few years ago paired with Jonsi, who seemed quite good but has now apparently moved onto other things. Rather like that super keen, sparkly-eyed undergrad volunteer that was helping out around the lab back in 2014, now I think of it…

Review by Ingrid Errington

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AustriaAustria-1

Loin d’ici by ZOË

Zoe_01

This dreamy eyed young forest fairy delivers a delicate, happy ditty about being ‘far from here’. The song and Zoe surely mean no harm and I have certainly sat through much worse from Austria (remember the bearded hipsters with the piano on fire from last year?). Austria will probably slip into the finales without anyone even noticing. I do hope the stage show will improve on the CGI toadstools in the background.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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Finland
Finland

Sing It Away by Sandhja

This poppy number from Finland is pure Eurovision gold and has my votes!!! Sandhja promises to sing away all your worries and troubles, and I for one, believe her. With her girl posse, she hangs out on playgrounds, wears sparkly sneakers and tells you that ‘there is no need to be carrying a frown’. Who cares that the music video featuring a masked rider on a horse and someone boiling water for a cup of tea, makes no sense at all….just ‘sing it away’!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

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