Estonia, Lithuania and Russia

EstoniaElina Nechayeva: La Forza

Call me Ishmael. A good review is a narrative, and a good narrative has 5 elements:

1. A great first sentence (why mess around? I just went with the best!)

2. A journey. Amongst other things, my first sentence was supposed to simply an allegorical search for the meaning of life, and subtly suggest certain flattering characteristics about myself, all of which have been ruined because I realised it is a cultural reference whose meaning may not be apparent to everyone, and explaining it has negated any beneficial effects. Anyway, we are going one better than a search for the meaning of life – we are on a quest to discover the meaning of Eurovision, one of the greatest mysteries in the universe! Yay!

3. Elegant, lucid, succinct prose.

Two other elements which will hopefully come to me soon, otherwise I’ll have to explain why I said “5 elements” and only listed three.

On to the business at hand. Elina from Estonia can sing! She sings like the Diva from 5th Element (see what I did? It’s called foreshadowing in case you are interested), but the real star of the act is the dress, inside of which Elina is propped. I don’t know why this wasn’t mentioned in the official notes, but her dress is so big that it covers 2.4 hectares, and is encrusted in 3 million individally thought-controlled, coloured LEDs. Yes, Elina was singing and controlling the lights on her dress at the same time. She and her dress are a flowing fiesta of colour and light. Darwin would have maintained it was sexual selection at work, and who am I to question the great man? Rumour has it that Elina will be part of Sydney’s Vivid festival this year.

Did I mention that she can sing? Her final note shattered the wine glass in my hand. My prediction? Next year, Eurovision will be held in Tallinn, and by next spring, everyone will be wearing those dresses.

It seems I’ve allowed myself to be carried away by all the excitement of the event, and unintentionally created a metaphor for THE DRESS, whose maker also got carried away, and we both ended up with something way too big to be fit-for-purpose. Sorry.

Review by Jim McLean

 

LithuaniaIeva Zasimauskaitė: When We’re Old

When I see pop singers “playing” the piano I am often sceptical about who actually pressed the keys, but there is absolutely no doubt that Ieva played the whole song. It’s just a special piano, and pressing one key produces all the chords I reckon. Well, around the 40-45 seconds mark you see she got some assistance, but it was mostly he work, surely. The short bio states that she took lessons until she was fifteen, so there you go. Her voice is nice to listen to, and the song itself is very original, it’s about a topic no other song I can remember ever touched — eternal love. More specifically though, it seems to describe how love is powerful and can last forever when you live in a snowy country. Maybe it wears off more slowly due to the low temperatures?

Review by Bruno Buzzato

 

RussiaJulia Samoylova: I Won’t Break

When I was watching this video I had trouble focusing on anything other than the fact that Julia’s right eye sits so much higher on her face than her left eye! But thankfully only about 70% of the video is entirely about on her face. Well, that’s not entirely true, sometimes you see landscapes IN her face, which is, ugh, interesting? And then in the end you see her face in the landscape — on the top of a mountain, more specifically. With a waterfall. And a rainbow. And the moon too. In any case, Julia is not just a pretty face. The song? Sorry I didn’t pay much attention, and honestly, I’m not watching that again, am I?

Review by Bruno Buzzato

Switzerland, Poland and Lithuania

SwitzerlandApollo by Timebelle

The neutral country. The Euro-dodger. The land of chocolate and cheese, of secret banks and “What Nazi stolen gold?”. One does not expect such a country to make a splash at Eurovision. And you’d be right, as they only won it one time since the invention of colour television, and in Europe’s defense they were preoccupied with the Berlin Wall falling. So, in these politically tumultuous times, will Switzerland step off the sidelines with a powerful commanding performance to finally claim victory?

Well, no.

I mean they try. The fact that none of the members of Timebelle were actually born in Switzerland probably explains their decidedly non-neutral earnestness in their quest for the crown. The lead singer has a pretty decent voice and an eye-catching dress. The song flirts with being catchy. Unlike most of my Eurovision reviews I didn’t compulsively fast forward to make it to the end. But it just can’t get past its Swiss heritage of being neutral and inoffensive. It’ll do well, but not well enough. The Swiss may have once horded the plunders of WWII, but in this year’s geopolitical conflict my money is on them not taking home the gold.

Review by Scott Fabricant

PolandFlashlight by Kasia Moś

I mean if we’re going to be making distasteful WWII references, might as well keep up the trend with Poland, who famously brought a bunch of horses to a tank fight. Same here.

It’s not a bad song by any means, it’s just very old-fashioned (by Eurovision standards). A one-woman power ballad that uses incoherent metaphors to make some vague point about love, or hate, whatever. She’s certainly got an impressive set of pipes, with a hoarse sultry timbre to her voice that’s better suited to blues or jazz. But Eurovision is a new theater of war now, one that considers Australia part of Europe. Recent conquerors of Europe include the amazing interactive graphics of Sweden 2015, the thoroughly modern Austrian drag queen of 2014, and of course Ukraine’s giant war metaphor of 2016, not to mention some spectacular runners-up like Russia’s unstoppable cookie-baking grannies.

And here stands Kasia Mos, holding the line with her old-fashioned pipes, no props, and distinct lack of techno gimmicks. I wish her well.

Review by Scott Fabricant

LithuaniaRain Of Revolution by Fusedmarc

Finally, there’s Lithuania, who wasn’t even a country during WWII so I guess I can finally let this cheap crutch of a trope go and evaluate their entry on its own merits. And I like it! It’s weird and funky, and the lead singer reminds me of a thoroughly modern Bjork minus the theatrical pseudo-insanity. Fusemarc manages to break new musical ground and be truly unique without resorting to cheap gimmicks. I’m predicting we are seeing a taste of Eurovision to come, a time when this old stalwart contest breeds true acoustic innovation.

Just kidding, I already know they never make it out of the semi-finals. A shame really, since they really are funky, and I really did like them. Usually the truly unique sounds never make it to the finals. Eurovision may love its flashy visual gimmicks, but the music remains stuck in the glory days of a pre-Brexit European glory. Maybe Poland has a fighting chance, horses and all.

Review by Scott Fabricant

Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania

Ireland
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Sunlight by Nicky Byrne

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Former Westlifer Nicky Byrne – better known as Ireland’s second sexiest man 2014 – is carrying the hopes of the Republic this year with the pop-ballad ‘Sunshine’. It’s pretty standard fare, but there’s the hint of a foot-tapping groove, and I enjoy the irony of an Irishman singing about sunlight (note the lack of location-shots in the accompanying video). It’s an outside chance.

Review by Tom White

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Bulgaria
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If Love Were a Crime by Poli Genova

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If love were a crime, then Poli Genova would be in jail for beating that lyrical conceit to death. She’d be sharing a cell with her weird necktie thing, which is surely committing a fashion crime. Otherwise, this entry is totally forgettable generic Eurotrash; here’s hoping the song doesn’t make bail or the finals.

Review by Scott Fabricant

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Lithuania
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I’ve Been Waiting for This Night by Donny Montell

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I specifically want to review the music video version, because honestly that party looks pretty dope. As in, all the dope they probably lit up before filming. I think I just saw a girl blow a handful of popcorn at the camera while over in the corner people are stroking each other’s furry coats. Neither is a euphemism. Feelingly clearly overwhelmed by all the sensory stimuli in their current drug-addled state, the singer and his lyrically mandated date roam the streets, wave sparklers in each other’s faces, blow smoke in each other’s mouths, and eat kebabs as come-down munchies. So, another night in King’s Cross Lithuania I guess.

Oh you wanted me to review the song? It’s decent I guess. Typical bubblegum boy-pop. It’s pretty catchy, like crabs in a King’s Cross nightclub. He’ll do alright for himself, on the scoreboard and the afterparty.

Review by Scott Fabricant