A baby face, a baby voice, and some massive drums. Add a minimalist choreography and you have an idea of what the performance of ‘Wake up’ by the Belgian Eliot brings to the table. The lyrics say “Don’t want your lies, I need truth”, so here it goes: I am not that impressed. We came to expect great things from the country that invented french fries and Belgian beer, and I must say that the quality of this performance is more in line with Brussel sprouts to be fully honest. Belgium hasn’t been the winner in Eurovision since 1986, 14 years before Eliot was born, and I don’t think he is here to change that tradition.
The performance by Anna Odobescu starts with her playing a white piano inside a large white house, but that only lasts exactly 9 seconds, after which the drama starts building up. She argues with her lover, he drives away in the rain and throws a tantrum over it. The melody is ok, and Anna’s voice is beautiful and powerful, but I can’t say the story told by the lyrics and the performance is original: it’s basically all about couple dramas where nobody knows how the argument started in the first place, but they are still trying to be “togetheeeeeer, foreveeeeeer”. Well, I guess this next level cliche might become trendy as a new ‘vintage’ theme?
In reviewing this song, I have to make a declaration that may influence my impartiality – I am a massive fan of Katie Miller Heidke. My fandom though is not for what you might think as It is not driven by her pop music career as such but rather the wonderful enigma that she represents. I would bet that if you challenge a group of people to judge the personality of Katie Miller Heike, from a photo or a general conversation, they would be unanimous in judging her as a diminutive timid female. In turn if you were to guess her appearance from her voice alone you might be forgiven for thinking she was a demonstrative operatic diva.
In reality Katie to me is a tour de force and her diminutive appearance masks an immense inner strength that manifests itself through the power of her voice. Her songs are also an enigma in that she frolics among the garden of octaves like a playful child but the lyrics tackle the complexities of adult life. In zero gravity we have her delightful canary-like trills that would be at home among a garden of blossoms under a bold blue sky. If you listen carefully though the song is about being out of control. Katie suffered a traumatic birth with her son and it was so physically debilitating she lost her voice. Like many women the excessive lack of sleep sent her in a spiral towards postnatal depression. This song then is essentially an ode to those who are stricken by a sense of losing oneself. I actually believe this is the best song Australia has written for Eurovision and no matter what happens I hope this song propels Katie towards international stardom.
Doe-eyed countertenor Jurij was voted Lithuania’s favorite son-in-law back in 2017, and his mission now is to win the hearts of Europe’s grandmothers, a powerful lobby group, no doubt.
With a song safe enough for a primary school dance, lyrics generated by a platitude app and handsomely coiffed hair and beard, Jurij will have to beat back invitations to afternoon tea for the rest of the year, but will probably not go far in Eurovision.
Duncan has a broken heart – fair enough, we have all been there, darl. But now he wants us to get him off this rollercoaster and carry him home. Not sure why he is making this mess our problem. Come on, Duncan!
Also, this is the favorite according to the bookies- place your bets, folks!
I fear that – just like the UK – my Eurovision is fading! Perhaps I am in need of some Euroglasses, preferably rose tinted. Or better yet, rainbow coloured, both for the symbolism, and to bring some colour back to the music video by Polish band Tulia.
I was drawn to this entry by the photo – brilliantly colourful, traditional costumes, Rapunzel hair, bucolic setting. I should have been warned by the expressions on their faces! The video is black and white. I strongly suspect it is an extended joke, but if so, the humour entirely escaped me, as did the music. Let’s hope it makes more sense to Polish speakers.
Fun fact: “polish” is the only word in the English language that is pronounced differently if it is capitalised.
If you are sick of the stock standard music and want to shake things up, the Icelandic band Hatari is where you will find yourself. Their music is not something you will find playing through the speakers as you roam a shopping centre. With their fusion of techno, punk and rock, you will not be left unsatisfied. The sandpaper vocals combined with techno vibes opens the flood gates to exploring BDSM in society.
The song “Hate Will Prevail” is a bloodbath of hatred to burn down capitalism. In Iceland, Hatari are known as tricksters who take pranks to the extremes. From pranks stating they were going to split up, all the way to starting an Icelandic music review website to review only their music, they never cease to attract attention. But their most recent stunt to challenge the Israel prime minister to an Icelandic trouser wrestling match has been the most controversial. If Israel’s PM wins the match, he acquires the Westman Islands, but if Hatari win, they get to form a liberal BDSM colony within the borders of Israel. Regardless of the quality of music, it is clear they strive to achieve their one true goal, “we want to uncover and destroy the everyday routine for it is a scam”.
Hello, it’s Scott again, your friendly
American correspondent. I’m so excited to peer over the wall to see what
Eurovision has in store for us this year. My first review is for Leonora from
Denmark. I love her. I love her voice. I love her lyrics, and how she
simplifies all conflict in a way only a bland white European pop star could. I
love her hair. I love that adorable giant Ikea chair of a stage prop, it really
highlights the emptiness of our wilting capitalist society. I love the way her
undead stare peels away all pretenses.
As she summarizes the zeitgeist of 2019 so perfectly: “Travel the world to see the ruins of what has been. Learning our history, but still, we don’t take it in. Don’t get too political.” And such a boppy tune! Love is Forever, she cheerfully reminds us, and forever is a whole lot longer than any land claims west of the Jordan River. I’m confident this postmodern classic will sail past any entry that bores viewers with protest, or substance, or self-awareness. Leonora has no time for politics, she’s here to make Eurovision great again.
Montenegro’s entry is a high-minded character study in how the concept of heaven varies between whomever envisions it. For the song’s writer, heaven is watching a jumbled collection of sweet literal nothings elevated to national champions. For the stage director, heaven is the essence of simplicity, embodied by angelic white robes and a complete lack of attempted choreography. For the music video director, heaven appears to be a laundry detergent commercial. For me, heaven is a Eurovision final without this song. I’d make a Pascal’s wager on it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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’.
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?
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.
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!
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
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
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.