Norway & San Marino

Norway

Spirit in the Sky by KEiiNO

Having finished last in more Eurovision finals than any other country, Norway’s people cry out for a hero to save them. That hero is nascent supergroup KEiiNO. Their people’s pleas, echoing across the void, wake the champions from cryopreservation in Narnia. Christina Ricci, Lanky Mr Tumnus, and Vin Diesel deliver a rousing electropop track that is surprisingly multi-faceted and catchy. Though undoubtedly jealous of the other’s nekomimi battlemorphs, Vin Diesel’s bridge of Sámi vocals to a backdrop of tribal drums and Aurora Borealis delivers the killing blow to the Anonymous antagonists. The heroes return to suspended animation, awaiting the day they are next needed. Though unlikely to add a fourth Eurovision victory for the Vikings, the track should present a stirring live performance, and place Norway in the upper rankings.

Review by Chris Reid

San Marino

Say Na Na Na by Serhat

In an alternate universe, George Calombaris has gained 3 feet in height, swapped his apron for a satin suit that changes colour every five seconds, and conquered San Marino, transforming the mountainous microstate into an urban disco dystopia. Construction workers and police crump and twerk together on a futuristic crosswalk that can only be described as the McDonald’s reboot of Blade Runner. Tall George beams his image from his impregnable fortress on Monte Titano, encouraging vulnerable women to call him any time for nonsensical self-help platitudes, accompanied by an uninspired Casio stock bassline. At this year’s Eurovision, will San Marino “be a hero, be a rainbow and sing na na na”? Yeah, but nah. Just nah.

Review by Chris Reid

Switzerland and San Marino

SwitzerlandZiBBZ:Stones

It is with great trepidation that I dip my toe into the murky – yet disturbingly placid – waters of the Eurovision Song Contest. Eurovision is a major cultural phenomenon, and yet, like a dream forgotten after waking, or the scent of a viola, your reviewer seems unable to focus on it. It has caused restless hours tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep; interminable, rambling sentences; and even self references in the 3rd person, yet I’m still unable to listen to a song the whole way through without losing concentration and moving on to something else (perhaps they employ Eurovision contestants to write legal contracts?) My one moment of hope was dashed when I discovered that YouTube had inserted a link to Black and Blue by the Aussie blues band “Chain” into the list of Eurovision videos (now there’s a refreshing lack of over-production and wind machines).

But I digress. Despite watching the rehearsal video 3 times (!), I still can’t remember anything about the song, although I can confirm that there was a midriff and some hips involved. I suspect they are attempting to channel the spirit of ABBA, which was the first act (of only 3 ever) to become a commercial success after winning Eurovision. Take “ABBA”, change “A” to “Z”, throw in an arbitrary “i” to symbolise the iPhone generation, and you’ve got ZiBBZ. Will ZiBBZ make it to the finals? I don’t know.

Review: Jim McClean

San MarinoJessika featuring Jenifer Brening

 

Micronation San Marino’s offering this year is notable for two reasons:

– Jessika and Jenifer bring the total number of San Mariners known to be able to at least coarsely bang out a tune to a grand total of approximately four people. I can only assume Valentina Monetta has recently undergone major surgery to miss her annual engagement, and wish her all the best in her recovery.
– This certainly isn’t the first time a singer will be upstaged by their backup dancers, but those dancers being tiny robots is new. Congrats to Jess, Jen and their plastic entourage.
On paper, the performance has a lot of the requisite components: a strong gimmick, a white jumpsuit (drink!), a riff that’s already proven to be a winner (Måns Zelmerlöw, at bit?), a surprise hip hop interlude performed by someone dressed like they were originally intended to be a 90s grunge interlude, an adorable nose scrunch, and a key change that’s only outdone in subtlety by her lipstick.
Will the sum be greater than the parts, and deliver more tourists to San Marino than it has citizens? Unlikely. But together it approaches the Platonic ideal of a Eurovision entry.
Review by Ingrid Errington

Israel, Italy and San Marino

IsraelI Feel Alive by IMRI

IMRI (I really do not know if this is a name to be shouted or an abbreviation) is already a veteran at Eurovision – Kiev will be his 3rd appearance. Admittedly, the previous times, he was part of the backing singers. I can tell IMRI is determined to make this a success. This young man has oodles of energy and, according the video, oodles of well-groomed friends. Expect some excellent dancing on the night, but perhaps not so many points.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

ItalyOccidentali’s Karma By Francesco Gabbani

This catchy and smart number from Italy is the favourite to win, and rightly so. The song is a stylish homogenate of Italian one-hit wonders (I am getting some Adriano Celentano) and light-heartedly homogenises Eastern and Western philosophies.
Surely, any Eurovision entry that exclaims ‘Panta rhei’ deserves a spot in the top 10.

Shave off that ridiculous moustache and it’s ‘douze points’ from me!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

San Marino

Spirit of the Night by Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson

San Marino is a more recent addition to Eurovision (competing since 2008) and her strength is clearly driving around in circles. So it comes as no surprise that San Marino has recruited help in the guise of Jimmie Wilson. Regretfully, the outcome is an uneasy fusion of R&B with trashy Euro-disco. Even the key change seems insincere, and at Eurovision, that is saying a lot. Back to the racing track for San Marino this year!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Serbia, San Marino, Albania and the Netherlands

Serbia
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Goodbye (Shelter) by Sanja Vučić ZAA

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I think the full orchestra is largely ornamental here but it’s a gutsy song with oo-ooo-ooo BVs that amp up the soulful feel nicely. Is it OK to channel Amy Winehouse yet, though? Too soon??

Review by Nansi Richards

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San Marino
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I Didn’t Know by Serhat

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San Marino is probably most famous for a defunct car race that occurred in Italy. Being used to this level of anonymity, one might have thought that the citizens of the Most Serene Republic (look it up) would shy away from the brutality of Eurovision competition. But no! They have Serhat, a man who seems to think to that singing isn’t necessary at a song contest. If this is an attempt to raise San Marino’s profile, I’d say it is a failure, perhaps they should get the Italians on the phone and ask about the race.

Review by Matt Bruce

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Albania
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Fairy Tail by Eneda Tarifa

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Eneda Tarifa manages to pull off a reasonable impression of a James Bond theme song. Unfortunately for Eneda, this isn’t a movie soundtrack, it’s Eurovision and this number doesn’t quite hit the heights required to pull in the douze points. Soaring finale, nope, memorable key change, nope, culturally inappropriate costume, nope. Sorry Albania, no grand final for you.

Review by Matt Bruce

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The Netherlands
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Slow Down by Douwe Bob

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This year the Dutch have dispensed with their (unintentionally) entertaining , yet ultimately  unsuccessful dalliance with novelty acts. Here we have a boy band meets James Taylor ditty from Douwe Bob and his two mates. A bit dull really, perhaps the Dutch should stick to whatever  they are good at for Eurovision [I can’t think of anything at the moment, insert your own thoughts here]. Either way they seem to be stuck in the second division for now, but at least they could have some more fun.

Review by Matt Bruce