Norway, Ukraine and Russia

Norway – Fallen Angel by TIX

In case you were wondering, TIX bases his professional persona on the fact that he has Tourette’s Syndrome (TS), as chronicled in a mildly heartbreaking music video based on his childhood bullying incidents. He uses his C-list celebrity fame to spread awareness on Tourette’s, so I’d like to honor him by doing the same. TS is a movement disorder characterized by the combination of involuntary erratic rapid muscle contractions (movement tics), and verbal tics consisting of grunts and coughs, or more complex behavior such as repeating words (echolalia) or famously but rarely, the yelling of profanities (coprolalia). TS is considered a form of neurodivergence, an axis of diversity long ignored in the celebration of diversity that is classically Eurovision. So thank you TIX for your honesty and emotional bravery.

That said, I owe his honesty an honest review… except I can’t, since you might mistake it for coprolalia. What I will say is that I thought the song was boring, derivative, and repetitive (but not echolalia). One can only assume the Eurovision voters will diverge from TIX, and this fallen angel will fall to the bottom half of the finals.

Review by Scott Fabricant



Ukraine – SHUM by Go_A

I will admit I’m a bit rusty, but I remember a little behavioral ecology. An energetically costly signal is more likely to be an honest indicator of quality, right? In that case, Ukraine has A+ genes since honestly even watching this performance is a little exhausting. Like a whirling dervish, this folktronica forest rave keeps getting faster and faster. Like… like… supraventricular tachycardia? No, bad Scott, this is an ecology blog! Anyway, Go_A lives up to her name with an energetic quality beat that keeps going. Do I think she’ll win? Probably not the Eurovision finals, but possibly a fist fight against Putin. A+ genes!

Review by Scott Fabricant



Russia – Russian Woman by Manizha

I have no idea what Manizha is saying to me in Russian, but I am certain she is spilling some very hot tea, reading me good, and I’ve earned whatever acid she’s spraying. Her powerful verse crosses all language barriers for a full-throated assault on toxic masculinity and I am loving it. Coming out strong in an aposematically-red Rosie the Riveter jumper, her command of intersexual conflict would put ducks to shame. Douze points from me, but what I really want to see is her trash-talk Putin after Ukraine’s Go_A are finished with him.

Review by Scott Fabricant

Ukraine and Sweden

UkraineMelovin: Under the Ladder

The live-rehearsal version of Melovin’s “Under the Ladder” is the story of man’s desperate search for a key, which doesn’t bode well for this X-Factor Ukraine alumnus come crunch time. The moody (and shaky) verse builds to a punchy chorus that admittedly has some pick-up and an appropriate number of “woah oh oh uh”s, but it’s too little too late for my money.

Review by Tom White

SwedenBenjamin Ingrosso: Dance You Off

The pressures of Eurovision are well known to select for mimetic extremes, yet the fidelity of Benjamin Ingrosso still took me by surprise. In a direct channelling of Justin Bieber & The Weekend, with a dash of Daft Punk underneath, the 20 year old Swedish national delivers the electro-pop banger “Dance You Off” (a threat? a promise?). The vocal style isn’t for everyone, such as me, but the rolling funk-bass is worth the price of admission, and there’s no denying the piece is on trend. I predict another strong finish for Sweden this year, but not enough to really stand out from the crowd.

Review by Tom White

Slovenia, the Netherlands & Ukraine

Slovenia

On my way by Omar Naber

There is a slight chance that the Slovenian entry this year is pure genius in disguise, although the odds are on it being just awful. Omar delivers a rendition of the Phantom of the Opera, minus the mask and with more shouting. It sends shivers up my spine, but not in a good way. At the end of the video, Omar cries, and so did I.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

The Netherlands

Lights and Shadows by OG3NE

Three determined young women, sisters, no less, harmonise their little hearts out for the Netherlands! The sound is incredible -almost as if I had heard it somewhere else before. Indeed, it is ‘Hold on’ by Wilson Phillips anno 1990. But before we allege ‘plagiarism’ let’s analyse the evidence: Wilson Phillips only had two sisters – OG3NE has three sisters, and two of them twins! Wilson Phillips had rubbish hair – OG3NE have magnificent manes! Obviously, the similarity of sound is just a freak coincident. I think Europe will like this!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

UkraineTime by O.Torvald

Channelling the walking dead, O. Torvald is hoping for a back-to-back win for the Ukraine. They need not have bothered. Still, the heavy guitars, piles of rubbish on stage and cacophonous signing might stand out against other more waxed contestants and be rewarded by rebellious points from neighbours in fear of imminent invasion.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Denmark, Malta and Ukraine

Denmark
Denmark.png

Soldiers of Love by Lighthouse X

lxh_group_8.jpeg

As the piano starts and a serious, well-groomed man stares intensely at the camera you get the feeling that Soldiers of Love by Lighthouse X may develop into something special. Excitement builds by the time the second and third singers start and you begin hoping for some classic boy band magic. But then, for me, confusion sets in. The song choice and hairstylist felt they were stuck in the 90s, but costume and dance moves seemed modelled on more contemporary male groups. Lighthouse X’s casual style of dressing (looking the same without being identical) and less scripted choreography left me feeling like I was watching what happens when One Direction loses another band member, develops a pseudo-social conscience and ages 10 years.

Despite this, there is nothing offensive about the song, the band or the set. And there is enough fist clenching earnestness to hold everything together. Throw in a well timed key change, some bursts of fire and some golden confetti and it all feels very Eurovision. Overall, it’s good enough to make the grand final, but not spectacular enough to stand out.

Review by Fran van den Berg

—————————-

Malta
Malta.png

Walk on Water by Ira Losco

ira_1.jpg

No touch’ touching – that is, being unbelievably close to someone and acting like you are going to touch them but not actually making contact makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Given that, Malta’s entry Walk on Water sung by Ira Losco left me squirming in my seat. While Losco stands and delivers her catchy dance tune, a man in black emerges from the shadows to dance around her, showcasing an exemplar of no touch touching.

Is repeatedly singing “I feel like I can walk on water”, while evidently failing to do so in the official clip reflective of delusions of a Eurovision win? Definitely so, but Losco’s powerful voice, plunging neckline, sequined dress, and a dancer with rather impressive animalistic gyrations will mean that Malta will probably be swimming somewhere near the top of the Eurovision pool this year. I just wish that the dancer spent less time invading Losco’s personal space.

Review by Fran van den Berg

—————————-

Ukraine
Ukraine.png

1944 by Jamala

img_8149.jpg

After an understandable absence from the Eurovision stage in 2015, Ukraine has returned in a big way, with Jamala singing 1944. This song details the plight of the Crimean tartars out of their lands by Joseph Stalin in 1944, near the end of World War 2. This song was seen as controversial by the Russian as it believed Ukraine to be taking a swing at them and trying to gain supporters to the current Russian-Ukrainian war. But the judges deemed it fine as Jamala made mention that it details her family’s personal history during the Crimean war.

But is it worthy of this attention? Well maybe, although Jamala does not move her body on the stage, her arm movements and her intense voice, draw in the listener to the song. Nice Middle Eastern Flavours, as well as a chorus sung in Crimean tartar, which will surely impact on the Ukrainian voters. But as to the wider European and worldwide audience, the message and presentation are lost in the lack of physical movement and there is no hook.

It will definitely attract a lot of sympathy votes, but I do not think it will be enough to reach the Top 10 on the scoreboard.

Review by Nicole O’Donnell

—————————-