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

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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Israel
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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