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.
According to his bio, Cesár is ‘not unknown’ in Austria. Oh how I do struggle with double negatives! Setting aside his alleged fame, Cesár dishes up a catchy soul number that is probably good enough to get him through the semis, but imminently forgettable for any decent points in the finales.
Alekseev is Belarus’ Petshop Boy, but he is having much less fun than the original duo. Is it the endless rain falling in this song or the beige knitwear? We will never know. However, Eurovision has had its share of sad young men with last year’s winner Salvador and so I fear Alekseev will go no further than the semis.
Eleni had a summer hit in 2010 and all it takes for a Eurovision winner: catchy tune – check; legs (two) – check; marvellous hair flowing in wind created by wind machines – check. I think this will go far at Eurovision or at least Eleni will have another summer hit, on rotation in Club Med discotheques all along the Black Sea.
Thank you Albania! Thank you for sending Lindita to Eurovision. Gone are the wailing flutes and fiddly Çiftelijas! Instead, Lindita belts out a Bond-esque number with the obligatory key change. And boy, can she hold a note! The song is dull, but with the right stage show, Lindita might find herself in the top half at the end of the evening!
Back in 2014, Conchita was Rising Like a Phoenix, while young Nathan here is Running On Air! Both are sporting exceptionally groomed facial hair (Conchita’s is clearly better!). Still, Nathan seems like a nice lad, and he does a good job with this happy, toe tapping number! Definitely the finals for me!
Life is super happy in Belarus! You get to wear embroidered linen shirts, run through forests and exclaim: hey, hey, heyaheyahey! And why are young Artem and Ksenia so happy? It is Belarus’s 800th birthday – what better way to celebrate than Eurovision? Maybe deliriously happy is not your thing, but I like it and predict the finals for Belarus.
Iveta is overcome by a LoveWave, the source of which is a dashingly handsome and hairy Ewin Mcgregor. Emotions have taken hold, and all Iveta can do is screech: uhhhhuhhhuuhhhhuuuhhh. The wailing is artfully amplified by the Armenian Duduk – an ancient, yet annoying reed instrument. On the plus side, Iveta is sporting a blow wave, the like of which I have not seen since Farrah Fawcett. Also, Iveta has very well shaped eyebrows!
Review by Mariella Herberstein
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Ljubav Je by Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner and Jala
It’s been twelve long years since Deen graced the Eurovision stage with his oh-so-subtle pelvic thrusting, rhinestone-clad, mouth-gaping ‘In the Disco‘, replete with its concerning message about body image.
It may be best to think of ‘Ljubav Je’ as an opportunistic longitudinal study on the effects of aging on the human body. Dependent variables of interest could include hair quantity, hair location, voice pitch and surface area to volume ratio. The next measurement is due in 2028.
Not even France is entirely en français this year, so take this opportunity to drink for a song in a native language.
Review by Ingrid Errington
Help you fly by IVAN
Belarus has sent the love child of Ron Weasley and Kylo-Ren to Eurovision. This could be interesting, but sadly is not. IVAN extrudes a whiny metal ballad that could have been ripped off the back catalog of Scorpion (remember ‘wind of change’?). While the screen display behind IVAN offers moments of distraction, the viewer is left wondering why he wants to help wolves fly?
Rumours have it that IVAN is planning to perform naked with real wolves – nothing less if he wants a chance to get into the finals.