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

Latvia & The United Kingdom

Lativa

That Night by Carousel

I’m sure that by now, the whole world knows of my love for indie pop bands- but Carousel from Latvia just moved me so much that I managed to cut my finger on my laptop somehow, and now I’m bleeding all over my keyboard- WHAT A VOICE that lead singer has! Beautiful and understated. And what a pleasure to see Kenny G put down the saxophone, and pick up a guitar! I’m not sure if this song has the gusto to place in this year’s Eurovision, mostly due to the lack of an all important key change, but I damn well will be checking Youtube to see if Carousel has any other melodic bangers to listen to whilst I’m marking 1st year scientific reports.

Review by Georgina Binns

The United Kingdom

Bigger than us by Michael Rice

At first glimpse Michael Rice looks like his mum was a bit too involved in his wardrobe, and his hand waving is slightly distracting, but he nails all the chords nicely, and his hand tattoos slightly poke out of his jacket sleeve giving him a bit of a ‘secret chav’ air. Then he BLOWS the crowd away with an epic chord change, and I tell you what, Michael Rice deserves to not only place in this years finals, but I also vote for him to sing at the next Olympics! A powerhouse voice like his deserves more airtime and I’m not just saying that because I have a dual-citizenship with the mother country. Seriously though, can we get someone in to fix the blonde streaks/90s boyband undercut hair-do he has? It does absolutely nothing for his ears, which are definitely bigger than us…

Review by Georgina Binns

Ireland & Finland

Ireland

22 by Sarah McTernan

Sarah McTernan brings us a laid back catchy pop-tune that will at least get some decent radio play, if not rack up a decent amount of points this year. It’s a solid toe tapper but perhaps not enough to blow the socks of the global audience. If Ireland want to keep their record of most Eurovision wins they are going to have to start bringing their A game before Sweden finally re-unite ABBA and go after the title once and for all. In which case Ireland’s only defence may be in engineering a bionically enhanced Johnny Logan to return to the stage and claim his third finals victory. Who knows what 2020 could bring…

Review by James O’Hanlon

Finland

Look away by Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman

The 90s we’re great weren’t they? Scrunchies we’re in, Santana was making a comeback, Twitter hadn’t been invented yet, all was well. So is it time to relive the glory days and bring 90s music back into fashion? Maybe not. This year Finland revisits the late 90s and brings us a track littered with synth beats and boy band harmonising reminiscent of 90s pop music. Sadly, like most 90s pop music, it is instantly forgettable and unlikely to fare well at Eurovision this year. 

What isn’t forgettable however is the abomination of a soul-patch Darude appears to be sporting. The image of this flavour savour landing strip has been semi-permanently burned into my retinas. I know, facial hair shaming isn’t cool, but let’s just hope that this trend doesn’t catch on like fork beards, pencil moustaches, chin straps, and all those other unsightly attempts at fancy facial hair styling. As the song title begs, ‘Look Away’.

Review by James O’Hanlon

Cyprus, Slovenia & Italy

Cyprus

Replay by Tamta

Tamta tells me I need her love on replay and who am I to argue? With a wholesome penchant for welding and subjugation, Tamata clearly domineers Cyprus and frankly, anyone she wants to. The song is closely styled on Cyprus’ 2018 entry by Eleni…..remember…..she with the spray-on pants?): a pounding beat and only a hint of auto-tuning. If it worked last year, why not this year?

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Slovenia

Sebi by Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl

Zala and Gasper are a sweet duo. and may even outsweeten all other Eurovision contestants this year. They surely mean well, and wish no harm. Certainly, their minimalistic electropop song Sebi, does not hurt. Mind you, it does not really do anything and kind of leaves you a little bit peckish for Pringles. The aeronautical theme in the video is baffling, but instantly forgotten.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Italy

Soldi by Mahmood

Mahmood is pretty angry with his father – that’s for sure! He has tried everything – he got an earing, a tattoo, and ripped his trousers. His last option is to perform at Eurovision and express his anger with mumble rap and autotuning. Hope it works out for you, Mahmood, I really do!

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Austria, Hungary & Malta

Austria

Limits by PÆNDA

Despite shouting her name, PÆNDA is a vulnerable woman who whispers a breathy and emotional account of turbulent times. No doubt, it is honest, and I might even have listened to it outside Eurovision (nah…..just kidding), but will it garner favor with the audience and judges? Chances are that PÆNDA will punch a tiny hole into our hearts, through which she will slip into the finals.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Hungary

Az én apám by Joci Papai

Another tearjerker by Eurovision veteran Joci – unfortunately, I am fresh out of tears, thanks to Austria’s PÆNDA. The song is stripped to its bare essentials: a man, his guitar, a handsome studded black leather jacket, a manly top bun, a dilapidated building, and a young lad dressed like an Ewok. Joci delivers a solid performance in Hungarian with excellent whistling and a bleak video that appears to lack approval by the Hungarian Tourist Board. Good enough for the finals!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Malta

Chameleon by Michaela

This is more like it! Malta’s Michaela delivers classic Eurovision gold – a thumping beat, nonsensical lyrics, and all of Ricky Martin’s songs homogenized into one! The stage show will be crucial for entry into the top 10 – wind machines, wild dancers with heaps of legs, and pyrotechnics. Mind you, the combination of wind machines and open flames may bring Malta’s hopes to a traumatic end.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Czech Republic & Russia

Czech Republic

Friend of a friend by Lake Malawai

Can you feel it? !I am SO excited that I picked Czech Republic on a whim to review this year, because hipster indie pop bands that are dressed like The Wiggles are TOTALLY what I’m into right now.
Seriously, the base player in his red turtle neck looks exactly like Murray, who incidentally once came into the Sly Fox in Enmore whilst I was working once and told me he “really liked my popcorn”- if that’s not an innuendo, then I don’t know what is. Speaking of innuendos, Friend of a friend is full of them. Do you know what I mean? I particularly liked the part of the clip where the lead singer has a series of photos of him being manhandled into a police car, because it’s a metaphor for the youth of today being labelled as miscreant Millennials, which they probably are, right? The tune is catchy and annoyingly stuck in my head right now. The Czech Republic has been a part of Eurovision for the last 12 years, and have yet to win, but if any of the current judges are under the age of 25 then Lake Malawi might be in with a chance.
I give them 3 skinny leg jeans out of a possible 5.

Review by George Binns

Russia

Scream by Sergey Lazarev

WOOF, is there anything Sergey can’t do?! Racking up countless music and radio awards, adopting puppies, starting up a company that creates dog friendly pastries and cakes… and he can bloody sing! Like an angel! He gave me goosebumples. Scream is a beautiful song, and I can’t stop raving about his voice, it really is magic. The lyrics are a bit dodgy however, like most emo songs with beautiful melodies, it seems to be about loudly broadcasting feelings that you’re having, but lying about actually having them: “Tears won’t fall whilst my pride stands tall… but my eyes will be liars..”
I think we ALL can relate to that. I quite liked the video clip with the hero coming to rescue the princess troupe, and then dumping her on a small island covered in bryophytes (which he stomped all over, rude), but she was really quite pretty with glorious hair and didn’t say anything at all the whole clip, so why did he dump her there? I think men really should start addressing their feelings so we can all be supportive of them.
PS: a small child acts out killing a large dragon towards the end of the clip. Just in case that sort of thing upsets you.
SERGEY FOR THE WIN!

Review by George Binns

Sweden & Romania

Sweden

John Lundvik: Too Late For Love

Grammatical issues notwithstanding, John Lundvik’s “Too Late For Love” is a safe, straightforward dance ballad from this Euro-powerhouse. It’s true to recent form for Sweden, and to be honest if you played any of their last dozen entries over a clip of slow-motion rain I doubt whether viewers would be able to differentiate them. The strategy is effective enough having secured a top 10 finish for most of the last decade (we don’t talk about Bergendahl), but it doesn’t make for compelling listening. Get weird Sweden!

Review by Tom White

Romania

Ester Peony: On A Sunday

An incongruous county-blues guitar hook kicks off this gloomy electronic piece from Romania’s Ester Peony. In the great tradition of edgy alternative bands there is no hint as to what the title “On a Sunday” actually refers to, but the song carries the usual theme of love and the tremendous price it extracts from us all (are we thinking of the same thing?). The real star of the accompanying video is Ester’s husky companion, whose glossy coat, playful eyes, and regal attitude steal the show. I would very much like to scratch it behind the ears and rubs its belly, and I do hope Romania leans heavily into the canine theme for the live show, since the song and human performers are otherwise forgettable.

Review by Tom White

Tel Aviv calling!

Eurovision is back and we are going to Tel Aviv on account of Netta’s nonsensical chicken song. This is the third time, Israel will host Eurovision and we have lots to look forward to. For one, the reject cast of Men in Black 4 will be hosting the event.

41 countries will compete for Eurovision glory – but fear not, The Science of Eurovision will see you through the trauma: Club Douze Points will selflessly review all songs and prepare you for the Eurovision finale.

In the meantime, stock up on some hummus and falafels….and perhaps something stronger for the coming two weeks!

Club Douze Points

Eurovision Finals 2018

Here we are again, at the Eurovision finals for 2018! The evening opened, as is now traditional, with the parade of the Eurovision finalists. And as if Eurovision were not camp enough, the flags were presented by winking sailors (male and female).

The evening was hosted by Portuguese quadruplets, Daniela, Filomena, Silvia and Catarina.

Thankfully, there was not much talk and we jumped straight into the first contestant.

What a start to Eurovision! Melovin from the Ukraine had it all – trapped in a coffin, dressed in a black morning coat (blown away by wind machines) and flames licking at his feet – it deserved better than 17th place.

 

Amaia and Alfred from Spain duetted a benign love song accompanied by smiles and not much else. The lack of any choreography, coffins or fire cost them dearly – 23rd place.

( Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto)

 

Change of pace with Slovenia’s girl power. Lea and her friends were stomping up and down the stage under strobe lighting – the crowd was loving it, but not the voters: 22nd. The first whipping ponytails of the evening!

AppleMark

 

An exhausted Ieva from Lithuania’s had to sit down on stage amongst her floppy pink dress. Finally, she scrambled up to walk up a set of stairs where she was joined by a young man (her husband?), who had no function at all – 12th place.

 

Cesar (Austria), dressed in a star trek uniform, was not distracted by the off-key backing singers, and delivered a solid upbeat performance, carried into 3rd place by the jury vote.

 

Estonia’s Queen of the Night, Elina pierced the evening with a soprano performance that could have shattered wine glasses (and ear drums). Her magnificent dress saved the performance – 8th place.

 

Norway’s Alexander Rybak could not bank on his previous Eurovision win in 2009: 15th place.

 

The host Portugal was up next, but Claudia’s harmony with her onstage friend was off-key and she was swiftly relegated to the last place. Best pink hair of the evening!

 

The UK’s performance was interrupted by some clown who rushed the stage and grabbed the microphone (Kanye?). An undeserved 24th, despite the excellent recovery from SuRie who belted out what remained of her song. Another wardrobe pick from the star trek set.

 

Serbia’s wailing and ethno drums were swiftly punished – 19th place.

 

Michael from Germany was tugging the heartstrings of voters across Eurovision. Dressed in black with excellent curls, and even better visual effects – 4th place.

 

Albania was next with a rock band on stage and a flawless and energetic performance, despite the highly confusing wardrobe – Kiss meets the Klingons? 11th place!

 

Wearing Jean-Paul Gaultiers’ star trek design, France’s Madame Monsieur made heavy use of on-stage fog, but forwent all other gimmicks – a respectable 13th place.

 

Czech sunny boy, Mikolas brought his school satchel on stage. Some high jinx dance moves distracted from a flat vocal performance – an inexplicable 6th place.

. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

 

The Klingon empire (Denmark) was next – Ramsussen let their flowing beards do all the talking, conjuring up a snow storm on stage – 9th place. Best eye-liner of the evening.

 

Australia’s very own, Jessica Mauboy gave it her best with a big song, some excellent hair whipping and wild dancing. The crowd love it, but no-one else…20th place.

 

Finland’s Saara was pulling all leavers – unsuccessfully. Not sure about the NS style uniforms- 25th place!

 

Keeping the wailing to a minimum, Bulgaria’s Equinox, dressed as Vulcan high priests, delivered a funky anthem and were rewarded with a respectable 14th.

 

Moldova’s shenanigans on stage (think Bennie Hill) were richly rewarded despite the off-key singing, tuba and primary colours! 10th pace.

(Photo by Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images)

 

Sweden’s disco inferno was a welcome relief after Moldova. A flawless singing performance, albeit the promises of a ‘dance you off’ was not met. Still, a respectable 7th place.

(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

 

At least Hungary’s AWS had a good time on stage, screaming their metal anthem only slightly out of tune. I still dozed off….21st place.

 

Israel’s Netta was operating the console of a Romulan warbird and delivered the best chicken song and dance of the evening – to the delight of the crowd and Eurovision – 1st place! Israel, here we come!

(Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Another band arrived on stage –Netherland’s country & western Waylon. Or so it seemed -the guitars were fake and quickly discarded to make room for some very energetic dancing. This type of deception never goes far – 18th place.

 

Ryan from Ireland was accompanied by a black piano, a street lantern and snow. But it was the two affectionate backing dancers that stole the show and catapulted an otherwise boring song into 16th place.

 

Wearing a spray-on suit, Eleni from Cyprus whips the crowd with excellent hair and dance moves, only narrowly escaping a wardrobe malfunction. Eurovision in its purest form – 2nd place!

 

Italy closed the performances. I can’t quite remember, but someone did – 5th place.

 

The jury votes were all over the place with douze points going to Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, Albania and Cyprus and Israel, changing the lead at almost every vote. The popular votes then rearranged the leaderboard dislodging Austria from the first place to make room for Israel and Cyprus.

In a nail-biting finish, Israel beat Cyprus by 100 points – Tel-Aviv here we come!

It is over, thankfully – I need a nap!

Italy, Latvia, Spain and the UK

ItalyErmal Meta e Fabrizio Moro: Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente

One might easily conclude that Italy’s entry is a happy, toe tapping ditty, probably about summer love or gelato or both. But the upbeat tune is in fact a grim commentary on war, terrorism and displacement. The main message is well illustrated in the video, let’s see what Ermal and Fabrizio dish up on stage. Will political commentaries go anywhere at Eurovision in the 21st century? Probably not…sorry Italy!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

LatviaLaura Rizzotto: Funny Girl

The title and bio pic is deceptive – no sign of Barbara Streisand anywhere in Laura’s performance. There is some staccato singing, a modern version of voguing and a combination of jazz trumpet and cello, leaving me utterly confused. Will Europe be as confused and erroneously allocate douze points?

Review by Mariella Herberstein

SpainAmaia y Alfred: Tu Canción

Look, Spain has sent much, much worse to Eurovision and I am grateful for  young and inoffensive Amaia and Alfred. Still, this sickly sweet, and slightly nasal number will send you to sleep at around 0’21”. While effective, this is somewhat elaborate for a sedative.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

United KingdomSuRie: Storm

 

The UK has cloned Annie Lennox for Eurovision. Obviously, the real Annie declined politely, having seen the humiliation experienced by UK Eurovision entries (cue Engelbert Humperdinck and  Bonnie Tyler). And it almost worked: short blond hair (tick), long, angular face (tick), string riff from Walking on Broken Glass (tick). Yet, CRISPR was unsuccessful in removing the highly annoying For eh-he-he-he-he-ver  chorus. More humiliation awaits!

Review by Mariella Herberstein