Belarus, Portugal & France

Belarus

Like it by Zena

Zena says we are going to “like it”. 32 times if I am not mistaken. In any case, what matters is that this really catchy chorus is built on a reggaeton basis: a rhythm that has been influenced by American hip hop, Latin American, and Caribbean music, coupled with vocals that include rapping and singing, typically in Spanish. In Zena’s case the lyrics are in English though, of course. After all, she is representing Belarus. That’s one of the things I love about Eurovision — the privilege to get exposed to mixtures of cultures that should have never really been mixed in the first place. I guess the lesson is: the fact that some things can be put together does not mean they should be put together.

Review by Bruno Buzatto

Portugal

Telemóveis by Conan Osiris

Conan and his sidekick bring a mind-blowing visual performance. It is proper strange, and it leaves you with more questions than answers. Why do they have “Edward scissors hands”? Or are those handy and trendy multi-chopsticks to eat what seems to be a golden Gyoza? And are these hand apparatuses related to the Hannibal-inspired masks? But let’s not read too much into the visual performance and focus on the lyrics for a minute. I love the originality of singing in a mostly  dead language — Portuguese. A quick visit to google translate tells you that this song is all about mobile phones, so clearly a thought provoking exercise focused on the effects of these devices on our daily lives — Conan asks us: “what happens if I break my phone”? This will certainly have an impact on the younger generations.

Review by Bruno Buzatto

France

Roi by Bilal Hassani

In terms of diversity, Bilal has the whole package: born in France to a Moroccan Muslim family, Bilal is transgender and sings a powerful song with a mixture of French and English lyrics that deliver a message about self identity. To bring it to the next level, Bilal wears a somewhat military uniform. The whole performance is complete with a slide show of Bilal’s childhood in the background — it is moving and beautiful, but I must admit it is a risky strategy that could cause the audience to wonder whether Eurovision and weddings have more in common that we anticipated.

Review by Bruno Buzatto

FYR Macedonia and Portugal

FYR Macedonia

Well where should I start? The video amazed me: well studied dance moves, a guitarist who definitly had some kind of model career (how else would he manage to be that natural in front of a camera) and a beautiful pink latex dress worn by the lead singer lying on a yellow bed showing us impressivly why one should never ever use those coulors for a powerpoint presentation.

The song caught me with his energetic reggae beat right from the beginning. The lyrics tell the story of a deep, emotional relationship with her soulmate…obviously in other, slightly sexualised words. The end of the song (we’ll be lost and we’ll be..) leaves the audience full of questions how this sentence and the love story might end and keeps you thinking about the song for much longer.

It has all it needs, now lets see how far they make it.

Review by Macelo Christian

Portugal

The position of the host is always a difficult one. The expectations are high and everybody keeps an eye on you… Well, at least if you are not song writer and composer Isaura, who wrote this song. If you saw the video you might have noticed the person in the background that is literally hiding by turning here back to the audience and has like 20 seconds to sing, before she turns her back again. Even in the picture she is in the background, like it is part of the contract, that she has to appear on the profile photo, so at least keep her blurry.

I mean its understandable if you’re on stage with superstar Claudia Pascoal, who has participated (!) at two national music contest and plays guitar since she turned 15.

Well despite these equality issues we’ll see if a very emotional song combined with advanced gardening skills will be enough for Portugal in their home game.

Review Marcelo Christian

Ola Portugal!

Dear Eurovisionaries!

Eurovision is back, and so are we! This year, we are travelling to Portugal after Salvador Sobral carried away the first Eurovision win ever for Portugal!  His languid Amar pelos dois was felt in the hearts of everyone,  extracting douze points from an audience weary of wind machines and waxed chests. Let’s hope this is not an enduring theme!

What do we know about Portugal? Other than stereotypes, not much at all – it is long and thin, frequently confused with Spain and serves up delicious sardines. Forty-three countries will compete in Lisbon,  transforming the capital into a festival village – oh my, how exciting!

Stick with us….we will get you through this with essential reviews and commentary!

Club Douze Points

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