Saturday, 25 November 2017

jESC preview 2017

It's the run up to Christmas so here is the extra (unwanted) present that is Junior Eurovision!

I am not one of the biggest lovers of jESC as I think they best years of the contest were long long ago and I find that the infiltration of the adult songwriters has made the contest something different to what I feel it should be. Anyway, here are my views of this year's songs (I use that term very VERY lightly). There are based partly on the official videos as well as the rehearsals video on the junior eurovision website

01 CYPRUS Nicole Nicolaou "I Wanna Be a Star"
A nice enough song, giving the contest an energetic start. The orangey stage outfits makes it feel like summer! However she seems very nervous and at times it almost looks likes she’s forgotten what she’s there for. The whole thing doesn’t have enough oomph to be remembered by the end.

02 POLAND Alicja Rega "Mój Dom"
She is alone on stage in a very simple but beautiful dress with a matching background. The ballad is quite a gear shift from the opening number. Its structure is quite complicated, and although it shows off her voice very well, I still cannot remember note of it. May do well in the web vote.

03 NETHERLANDS Fource "Love Me"
So, judging purely from a ‘junior’ POV this will most likely appeal to the young impressionable teenage girl audience. However knowing that most viewers for this show aren't teenage girls, most people will wonder if the children of NKOTB have re-imagined the brand. Yes, but also definitely no.

04 ARMENIA Misha "Boomerang"
Don’t make it too obvious you don’t want to win, right?  In summary – a very small and young boy with long hair floating on a hoverboard singing about a hunting implement in the time signature of 6/8… Yeah, right that’s JUST what junior Eurovision needs right now… no.

05 BELARUS Helena Meraai"I Am the One"
Finally one of the big hitters. The performance of this is a little static and I would love to see her move off her podium but her voice carries off the song with ease. The pink piece of fabric she is wafting gets more and more annoying the more I watch it although its colour is outstanding.
                       
06 PORTUGAL Mariana Venâncio   "Youtuber"
After 10 years away they return with this… Really?!?!? On the plus side this is a very different song to anything in the show and the beat will get you moving along. The plot of the song is fairly obtuse and very repetitive. However props to Mariana for selling this song in front of a poo emoji.

07 IRELAND Muireann McDonnell  "Súile Glasa"
This is such a sweet, sweet song, and for these reasons it'll be totally lost. The chorus and it’s ooh-oh-oooh-oh’ earworm is addictive but not annoying. She has a very distinctive rocky/pixie look and doesn’t look like a stage school produced thing. There are other colours apart from turquoise, Ireland….
           
08 FYR MACEDIONIA Mina Blažev "Dancing Through Life"
The structure of this song is not too far from the Belarus entry but Mina’s performance is more in your face and engaging. That said, I am not a big fan of the mini-skirt/plastic-mac combo as a stage costume. The chorus is very memorable but the rest of the song is just too weak.

09 GEORGIA Grigol Kipshidze "Voice of the Heart"
Erm, not sure I watched this one… *watches it again* Even though I have just watched it still cannot remember anything about it apart from the fact that those backing singers dresses are a bit too short for my liking and they need to stay still. I *think* there was a song *shrugs shoulders*. Not my thing.

10 ALBANIA Ana Kodra "Don't Touch My Tree"
Woah, that voice comes out of THAT tiny body?!?!? The song is fairly innocuous although the tune flows nicely. Ana roars through the higher notes and pulls some quite fierce facial expressions and hand gestures. Her dress is very pretty but also overwhelms her slightly too.
                       
11 UKRAINE Anastasiya Baginska  "Don't Stop"
All I have is questions - Why is there a boy in a tree? What is going on with her hair? What is she (not) wearing)? Like a few of the contests offerings I find myself too distracted to even concentrate… Oh hang on the song has finished and once again I don’t remember a jot of that at all.

12 MALTA Gianluca Cilia "Dawra Tond"
OK the song is earwormy but the fact it’s for Junior Eurovision means I can be a bit more lenient. However Gianluca’s performance does my head in. Yes, I can see he’s trying to be a the ‘cheeky chappy’ but his OTT mature screams ‘stage school’ BTW girls – the skirts are *FAR* too short. Urgh.      

13 RUSSIA Polina Bogusevich "Wings"
This song is getting a lot of the love at the moment and I can see why. The whole performance, to my eyes, is confusing – thanks Sia (not) – and I found myself focusing on the dancing/performance behind Polina rather than her song. It may well be a serious topic but less is more sometimes.

14 SERBIA Irina Brodić & Jana Paunović "Ceo svet je naš"
Now *this* is proper jESC fayre with added gender bending! Electro Velvet Juniors! On the whole this is very sweet and inoffensive but the performance does look a little parochial compared with the production values gone before it. On the other side it is possibly the most relatable song of the show

15 AUSTRALIA Isabella Clarke "Speak Up"
This is a very straightforward, radio-friendly pop song and probably the most commercial song of the night. The performance is quite busy but has a steady stream of ideas which link to the song – yes it benefits from being entirely in English. Their best chance of a Eurovision win to date.

16 ITALY Maria Iside Fiore "Scelgo (My Choice)" 
This is bog standard Italian balladeer stuff and if you are into this you are going to love it. If not it is going to sound like every other Italian ballad – but sung by a child. Not quite as strong as their winner a few years ago. It feels a bit of a non-descript ending, compared to the 2 songs previously.


If you visit vote.junioreurovision.tv you will see a short video containing clips from their rehearsal shoots. You can then vote for your favourites from any country in the world!!!
I voted, in no particular order… Belarus (the fave I would most like to win), Australia (if they are going to win an event, I’d rather it was this one), Ireland (this is by far my favourite song) and Portugal (if they do really badly they will never come back so a vote from the head rather than the heart)

This all said once they are all on stage and I see and hear the whole songs from start to finish there is a very good chance I might change my mind!

Friday, 27 October 2017

The hallway of Hallowe'en horrors!

Hello!

I am back (I haven't really been away but that's something different) and I have returned with another of our themed podcasts - this time with a slightly blood-curdling and stomach-churning theme of October 31st!

To get back into the swing of Eurovision I have compiled a few topical songs that have a Halloween-ish feel... I mean do I have to spell it out for you - they are all really obvious... apart from one... Some might say the singer of this band looked a bit ghoulish but for me the title of the song sums up everything I feel about this simultaneously new and old occasion!

So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/ESChalloween

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

What's (in) another year....?

When I came up with the idea or this blogpost I had a load of categories, ideas and things in mind that I would be able to write about. However having written about three quarters of it I then realised that most of the things I was trying to get off my chest were so inter-related and intertwined it was hard to keep my thoughts in my original order. I’d write one thing then realise I have already said it somewhere else. So I’ve kind of scrapped it – as was.

When thinking back to last year’s contest there are a few threads that connect the acts that did well and a different thread that draws those ‘lower table’ acts. Nothing that you will read will be a surprise or be anything new but some of these things are thethings I feel I’d love to see (or not see) in 2018

‘Real’ Music

Real meaning real instruments and real style.

OK as much as I would love to see the orchestra make at Eurovision, it realistically isn’t going to happen. But since Conchita won in 2014, the status of a fully orchestrated backing track has gained momentum. And after the jESC winner of 2016 and ESC winner of 2017 having highly orchestrated backing , with lengthy introductions, it feels like electronic over-production is out – proper instruments are in. I mean Kaliopi’s “Dona” is quite the laughable sham. The faux violins makes it almost laughable.

However if you are going to do electronic music it also needs to be done right. If you are going to show your guitar rock roots - do it with pride. If you have an 90’s Britpop edge – go for it. If you are a bright young (or even tarnished old) schlager puppet – show them what you are made of. Whatever you do it must be done wholeheartedly. In addition one could almost extend this feeling to the national broadcaster and the delegation. If the ‘team’ doesn’t have the energy, belief and oooomph( as well as a bit of money) you might as well turn up in a t-shirt haying ‘We’re going to lose!”

If there is one thing we’ve learnt about modern Eurovision – safe doesn’t work. Middle of the road might as well be ‘bottom of the scoreboard’. Being a Marmite act/song is no bad thing. Having a loyal, niche audience that really loves your song is much better than everybody saying ‘it’s ok’. The latter will never extrapolate into votes.


National Sounds

Although Salvador won in 2017 and it is easy just to contrue this into ‘Europe likes languages’ there is a slightly bigger thing going on here. Looking back at previous Eurovision’s the number of fully or partly non-English songs has been dwindling. But when done right, this small proportion of entries has been punching above its weight e.g. Il Volo in 2015, Zoe and Amir in 2016 (even though it pains me to say it as I have no idea why these did so well in the first play but hey ho!)

Although not my favoured form of selection, internal selections can offer more edgy entries. It also gives the selected act a free reign to do something in their style and be more true to their artistic selves.This system may also entice bigger starts into the mix. I am hoping that in this coming Eurovision season we see national finals with more languages and also more national styles. Although I am not the biggest fan of Balkan ballads they have been lacking in stature and power of late and the Swedification of entries (I’m looking at you Cyprus, Georgia and Azerbaijan in particular!) has started to irk me. I don’t necessarily want every Greek entry to contain a bouzouki or every Russian song to start with a balalaika intro or any Nordic entry to allude to the nyckelharpa. I do, however want to feel like I am listening to a new story, a new place, a new point of view.

In other words Jon Henrik please be third time lucky !!!!!


Less is More

Although it has kind of sneaked up on us all without noticing, there is a real trend of (almost) solo singers winning Eurovision of late. Conchita and Salvador won with no backing singers, Mans and Jamala had hidden backing singers but had a busy backdrop while even Loreen’s sparce performance had hidden backing singers and the help of one dancer.
To open this further it seems that uber-theatrical pyros, superfluous backing singers/dancers and over-cinemantic backdrops are now blasé. In a classic case Joci Papai’s dancer/violinist combo seemed to strike a chord as both helped to emphasise the story and the use of ‘ethnic’ instrumentation throughout the song. Blanche’s simple yet vulnerable staging but with very clever camerawork, justifiably won over the hearts of Europe But Demy’s confusing staging (and slightly over salacious dancers) AND Anja’s overblown use of pryos during the last minute probably left most people thinking ‘It looks like they think they’ve already won’. No-one likes a cocky smart arse.

Although I enjoy the spectacle of teh light shows and video screens, I sometimes wish they'd get way from it. I think aEurovision song and staging should not just be able on its present stage but if it works on the 1987 stage too then even better.
This all said and done, what I am trying to say is don’t try too hard and don’t add too much. You are selling a SONG. Of you try too hard you will end up selling running travelators or Hawaiian shirts instead


Diversity Individuality   … Family?

It’s always nice when a country gets its first win but it’s also nice when a new language or a different style of song/singer wins. This year we had a couple of firsts in “Amar Pelos Dois” First win for Portugal in Portuguese and writer, Luisa, being the very first woman to be credited as a sole writer and composer of a winning song.

In all seriousness – where have Mr and Mrs Sobral been hiding these two???
Are there any more children to come out of the woodwork for the double win?!?!

Surprise aside, do we need to see more of ‘the family’? Looking back over Eurovision history there haven’t been many Eurovision winners nay entries written and performed by family members (by this I don’t mean married couples I am thinking more blood relatives) OG3NE’s entry was written by their father and you could tell that the song and the whole experience meant a lot to them. Francesco’s brother had a composing credit on “Occidentali’s Karma’.  I think that this also links back to having a tight team. Seriously how many of the other delegations could have the songwriter sang the songs for the actual singer during rehearsals…?  Or maybe rehearsals are overrated. Maybe rehearsals are for sissies.



For everyone like me who was over the moon Salvador won and that Joci rocked the televoting and that Francesco got a reasonable finishing place (although he was my fave there was never any way he was going to win) there will be someone else distraught at the result. I just hope that this coming Eurovision brings lots of different things but most of all that all the entries have a string of truth, passion, encourangement and heart that runs through it, its singer, its team… all the way back to the country of origin. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Secret ESC Karaoke 2017

So, this is my two penn'orth during the quiet time in the ESC calendar... If you are interested, dive in, but if you are not maybe you could help the cause by retweeting or sharing the post to get word around and raise more awareness before the sign up date.

This is the inaugural Secret ESC Karaoke where us Eurofans far and wide come together to sing each other songs! Hopefully I am going to try and do this every summer although for many reasons I didn’t quite get up and running as soon as I would have liked! Maybe next year I will try and set the system up just after ESC itself so I can publicise it at the peak time (and give us all something to offset our PED!)


SO WHAT IS IT?!?!?
The easiest way to explain this is to look at a different project I've been involved in called “Karaoke Secret Santa”. It's basically a group of people who sign up (each person knows 1-2 other people but not everyone). Instead of sending everyone a Christmas card or gift – which might be quite tricky, time consuming and expensive if the participants live as far apart as the UK, the US and Australia – you sing them a song!
Here is the link to the secret santa youtube account where all the songs are pooled together by all the participants over the last few years - including some of my own paltry attempts.


HOW DO I JOIN?!?!?!?
First of all you sign up (that’s the easy bit) If you click on here and input your details you will get your own page to set up your own questions, answers and wish lists. Then at the start of September you will be paired up with another participant and they you choose something from their wish list to record. That's the easy bit!


WHAT SHALL I WISH FOR?!?!?!??!
Now, the elfster site is primarily set up for actual real life gift swapping so the best option is to just write out each ‘wish’ using the text option on the wish list tab.
As this is a ESC inspired wish list you should think of songs, singers, countries or even NFs that you love. I personally like to start each wish with a title or genre e.g. pet country, favourite contest, fave Irish entry, best ESC artist, Melfest flop, fave last place song, should have won NF, song/act that was robbed, sexiest language, funniest lyric, best prop/gimmick, Fave dance routine, best joke entry, best interval act, best jESC song/singer etc. etc. You are very much allowed to add 3-5 suggestions for each category – the more suggestions you make, the more choice your sender has! If you look at my wish list you can see how I have set it up - although you can add to your list, change it and delete things in the time left. They are not set in stone until swap day!
Please remember that the sign up date is at the start of September so if your wish list is done before that date, your sender has more time to work out which song they are performing AND how they are performing it! If the person you've been swapped with does not have a wishlist set up you can send them an anonymous message (find their profile, click on 'send a message' then make sure the anonymous box in the bottom corner is ticked) asking them to publish a list of songs. You could even suggest catagories if you wish.


DOES IT MEAN I HAVE TO SING?!?!?!?
Nope.
You can do whatever you like – be creative.
You could sing it with a backing track in your bedroom, lip-sync along, recite the words in the style of a spoken word poet, create (or recreate) the dance routine, play the tune on a kazoo, recreate the song with sand art, make a lyric video or even film yourself singing the song at your local karaoke bar!!! You can rope in the help of others (human and otherwise), use costume, sets and props to help you in your performance. You can try and do the whole thing in one shot or if you are a editing whizz you might be able to add different camera angles, shots or settings!
OR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT !!!!!

You may, however, get a wishlist beyond your scope of knowledge... Help is out there!
For entries between 1956 and 2013 you can use diggiloo.net to help you with lyrics, especially if they are not in your mother tongue or one you not familiar with. There are also English translations of most songs so you have a better idea what you might be singing about! Some entries may have been recorded in alternative languages which may also appear here. If you fancy singing a well known song with a attitude, there are also 'covers' websites such as http://eurocovers.blogspot.co.uk if you fancy a different spin on your song singing. If you are stuck for tracks to sing along with that might not be in your collection there'ss plenty of ESC related content on spotify and youtube, in particular, official videos and live versions of ESC tracks can be found at https://www.youtube.com/user/eurovision . These might also give you some ideas of props or staging for your own video.
If in doubt - google it!!!!!! (but please don't yodel it - you'll be put on my banned list!)

If you are still a bit bewildered, send me a DM on twitter (or send SecretESCkaraoke an anonymous message on elfster) and I can see what I can do


WHAT DO I DO ON GIFT SWAP DAY?
At some point before swap day you need to have filmed your 'entry' and got it ready for uploading. You will then have to keep it under wraps until nearer the deadline to upload it to your video service (most people will have a you tube or vimeo account). You then name it, leave a description, then on swap day either email, tweet, facebook or leave a message on the elftser wall telling the recipient that you have made them a video leaving them the URL. On the elfter website you also have the option to leave messages anonymously if you want to keep everything under wraps even more !


The thing is I have been doing the xmas karaoke for ages now and year 1 is always the worst one because things need time to set up – if you go through the rigmarole this year, next year will be much, MUCH easier !!! 
If you need more help to find things, set stuff up or have any other questions either leave a message at the bottom of the blog, or leave a post on the elfster site (if you decided to #joinus - see what I did there) or tweet me at @ESCarmchair x

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Eurovision 2017 FINALS

Well the big day is here!

The semis were (generally) predictable although it is a real shame that Finland did not qualify.
Anyways here is my list of the songs in today's final in my order of preference, I don't expect the final ranking to be ANYTHING like this! A few opinions have changed since my pre-contest ranking - for better and for worse - due to the semis and rehearsals. Bookies faves are Portugal, Italy, Bulgaria and Belgium and I expect most of the running to be made by these four, unless the hype behind slightly less thought of countries (e.g. Sweden, UK, Armenia) put spanners into the works.

Just to remind you that each country's jury will give a 1-12 vote and the national televote will give ANOTHER 1-12 vote. I expect,like last year, that the jury top 5 will be very different to the televoting top 5. Disaporas such as Armenia, Romania and Poland will skew these results a little and as Russia is not here this year, one can only wonder where the Russian diaspora will vote (probably Bulgaria, Belarus or possibly even Poland and Ukraine) and if this extra shove will make a noticable difference


01 ITALY   Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma
This song is so much fun. Francesco has amazing charisma on stage. This translates to those in the audience as well as through the camera. I think Europe (and the world) needs something to raise their spirits.

02  PORTUGAL   Salvador Sobral - Amar pelos dois
There are almost no words. This song just creeps into your being. The crowd falls deadly silent and are transfixed to Salavador’s every word. It is like a moment of calm during a storm (see what I did there…)

03  HUNGARY   Joci Pápai - Origo
Such an addictive and passionate song. Many people scoff at the Hungarian rap but its directness is needed to contrast against the tune and heart of the rest of the song. Plus the dancer (and fiddler) tell the story so well

04  MOLDOVA   SunStroke Project - Hey, Mamma!
This band are so tight and experienced at what they do, it really shows on stage. The whole wedding theme is very clever and the girls get into the Sunstroke spirit. Maybe this be the next wedding dance craze…

05  BELGIUM   Blanche - City Lights
I was sceptical about this song’s chances because I was scared it would be staged badly. Luckily, the staging has been kept simple and Blanche has grown in confidence, selling the song like a trooper.

06  NETHERLANDS   OG3NE - Lights and Shadows
The 3 sisters have been singing together so long they have a supreme confidence and assurance  - they never do a bad show. A great power ballad with a beautiful story. Will get a high jury score.

07  BELARUS   Naviband -  Historyja majho žyccia
I was convinced this would not qualify. The duo looks happy and perky on stage although I am scared one of them will fall of the boat. If you don’t join in the ‘hey hey hey’ bit you must not be human!

08 AZERBAIJAN   Dihaj - Skeletons
Love the staging for this (although I still have no idea what’s going on) and she looks at home in this stylised setting.. Dihaj’s vocals are much better than I envisaged and she connects well down the camera lens.

09 UKRAINE   O.Torvald - Time
I have a bit of a soft spot for this one but won’t do well. Shame they got rid of the clock motif and am not sure about the huge head next to them on stage. It will appeal to those with alternative tastes.

10 SWEDEN   Robin Bengtsson - I Can't Go On
This is such a well oiled ship. Everybody knows what they are doing and has been rehearsed within an inch of its life. I just wish Robin was a bit more personable and he had a moment to freestyle.

11 NORWAY   JOWST ft. Aleksander Walmann - Grab the Moment
The setting of this song and the way it is portrayed on screen is very unique and stands out a country mile. It is very catchy but it a bit of a slow burn. Still not sure how they got away with the sampled vocals.

12 UNITED KINGDOM   Lucie Jones - Never Give Up on You
The staging using the mirrors is very clever and sucks the camera in. Lucie has a great voice and engaging personality. Yes, it will probably be up there after the jury score but any placing above 20 should be considered a win.

13 CYPRUS  Hovig - Gravity
Hovig and his dancers have got this staging down pat even though most of it is stolen from Loic’s show a few years ago but we’ll ignore that for now. He has also grown vocally and knows when to sell the song.

14 AUSTRALIA   Isaiah Firebrace - Don't Come Easy
Although Isaiah has a soulful voice, this song doesn’t show it off to its best. The turntable is a great idea but he looks like he's concentrating on the choreography, he forgets to focus on what he does best – sing.

15 POLAND    Kasia Moś – Flashlight
I am glad this qualified (she is a very good singer) but this song is very confused. She switches to tune too much and garbles the lyrics. Not sure about the backdrop or why her brother is playing the fiddle.

16 GREECE   Demy -  This Is Love
Demy sings this adequately although her backing singers are very high in the mix. The paddling pool/almost naked dancers shtick is painfully twee and makes this look cheap. Still abhor the soppy ending.

17 CROATIA  Jacques Houdek - My Friend
Marmite time. On one hand, Jacques sings the living daylights out of this with supreme confidence. On the other hand the way he’s dressed is silly, the backdrop is too corny and the fiddler needs to get lost!

18 AUSTRIA   Nathan Trent - Running on Air
Another song and performance in the twee pile. Although Nathan is a good enough singer and the performance does exactly what is says on the tin it feels very safe and comfortable and therefore average.

19 BULGARIA   Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess
I know this will probably win but this leaves me cold. Yes, he’s a good singer but the staging is too bare. Wide shots of the crowd made them look bored and uninterested. The falsetto is also too much.

20 ARMENIA   Artsvik - Fly With Me
Style over substance. The close up shots don’t work and I find the constant touching of her face quite menacing. I love the dancers but there needs to be more of them. Shame it’s a 2min intro and 1 min of proper song.

21 DENMARK   Anja Nissen - Where I Am
Having been placed between Italy and Portugal, this is been universally designated the ‘piss break song’. She is becoming too shouty and looks like she is trying too hard. Also don’t like the knee drop near the end.

22 GERMANY   Levina - Perfect Life
It’s all gone a bit grey. Maybe this effect looks better down the camera lens than it does from photos in the hall. Levina is a much better singer than the song and she looks god awful in the grey/silver dress.

23 ISRAEL   Imri Ziv - I Feel Alive
Archetypal party starter. In the case sense it does its job very well but that is not what it is here for. He may well be eye candy but his vocal talents and knack for choreography will not be getting him lots of votes.

24 FRANCE   Alma - Requiem
The poor girl is stood on stage, embarrassingly dancing whilst a night time view of the Eiffel Tower gives you motion sickness. Get the feeling so much money was spent on backdrop they forgot about the actual song.

25 SPAIN   Manel Navarro - Do It for Your Lover
The problem is that this is just getting lost. Not even the summery surfboards and overhead camerawork can save this one from drowning. His overbearing accent and limited singing voice make him as limp as a rubber ring.
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. (I refuse to call this next one 26, as that is flattering it)
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42 ROMANIA   Ilinca feat. Alex Florea -  Yodel It!
This is STILL the worst thing I have heard or seen. However I feel this should be billed as Ilinca doing a duet with the male backing singer who is literally carrying the dead weight that is Alex. Big fat LOL at the useless cannons.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Semi final wishlist

I really don't want to do this but it HAS to be done...

Who will qualify from the 2 semi finals? Honestly? I don't know... I know that is the kop out answer (as well as the obvious one) but this year's line up is so different, so even, it literally could go any way.. 

So after doing my FINAL ranking this past weekend, here are the two semis in order of preferance...

1  Portugal Salvador Sobral Amar pelos dois
1  Moldova SunStroke Project Hey, Mamma!
1  Finland Norma John Blackbird
1  Australia Isaiah Firebrace Don't Come Easy
1  Latvia Triana Park Line
1  Sweden Robin Bengtsson I Can't Go On
1  Azerbaijan Dihaj Skeletons
1  Belgium Blanche City Lights
1  Poland Kasia Moś Flashlight
1  Cyprus Hovig Gravity
______________________________________________________________

1  Slovenia Omar Naber On My Way
1  Iceland Svala Paper
1  Greece Demy This Is Love
1  Armenia Artsvik Fly With Me
1  Czech Republic Martina Bárta My Turn
1  Montenegro Slavko Kalezić Space
1  Georgia Tamara Gachechiladze Keep the Faith
1  Albania Lindita World




2   Netherlands O'G3NE Lights and Shadows
2   Belarus NAVI Historyja majho žyccia
2   Hungary Joci Pápai Origo
2   Norway JOWST ft. Aleksander Walmann Grab the Moment
2   Estonia Koit Toome & Laura Verona
2   San Marino Valentina Monetta & Jimmy Wilson Spirit of the Night
2   FYR Macedonia Jana Burčeska Dance Alone
2   Ireland Brendan Murray Dying to Try
2   Austria Nathan Trent Running on Air
2   Denmark Anja Nissen Where I Am
____________________________________________________________________

2   Israel Imri Ziv I Feel Alive
2   Bulgaria Kristian Kostov Beautiful Mess
2   Lithuania Fusedmarc Rain of Revolution
2   Croatia Jacques Houdek My Friend
2   Switzerland Timebelle Apollo
2   Serbia Tijana Bogićević In Too Deep
2  Malta Claudia Faniello Breathlessly
2  Romania Ilinca feat. Alex Florea Yodel It!


So just to say - THIS AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN !!!!! (but if it does I you will have to scrape me off the ceiling!)

A more level headed (and possibly more informed guess would be that the following WON'T qualify

1   Slovenia Omar Naber On My Way

1   Iceland Svala Paper

1   Czech Republic Martina Bárta My Turn

1   Montenegro Slavko Kalezić Space

1   Georgia Tamara Gachechiladze Keep the Faith

1   Albania Lindita World

The other 2 DNQs will more than likely be between Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium and Poland.
Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Armenia (and possibly Cyprus) are pretty much certain qualifiers.



As for semi 2, the songs we won't be seeing on Saturday will be:

2   San Marino Valentina Monetta & Jimmy Wilson Spirit of the Night

2   Ireland Brendan Murray Dying to Try

2   Denmark Anja Nissen Where I Am

2   Lithuania Fusedmarc Rain of Revolution

2   Switzerland Timebelle Apollo

2   Serbia Tijana Bogićević In Too Deep

2   Malta Claudia Faniello Breathlessly

This group of 7 will be joined by either Croatia, Hungary or Macedonia.
This semi is much more open and can only really say that Romania and Bulgaria are almost 100% through.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Alternative lyrics

Last year, I took some of the song lyrics and put my own spin on them... 

I've had another go this year...

ALBANIA
What’s the wailing for?
What’s the cost of tune in this song?
All I ever really want 
Is to halt it all, it's all so wrong


BULGARIA
I am such a big fat liar
I really did steal your tyre
The car was parked against the wall
But it was not driveable


BELGIUM
All alone in the zany zone
Are you ready to do soft play?
Knock down stuff, going in and out
Are you going climb or fall?


GERMANY
I’m needing some thinner, needing some paint
Needing a paintbrush that won't break
I’m not afraid of painting a fence
Sometimes it’s wet before it's dry
That’s what you call a perfect wife


ICELAND
You have used all the paper,
I'm on the loo, I've had a poo, oh phew.


IRELAND
But I’m buying a pie, I’m buying a pie
I’ll put it straight in my arms
Find the fridge on the farm then I’ll pay


LATVIA
Say it one more time
I forgot it, say it one more time
I forgot it, say it one more time
I forgot it, say it one more time


MOLDOVA
And he said
Mamma, mamma, don't breast feed here
I’m offended by your big boob
Mamma, mamma, put them  away
Can't you feed 'it' through a tube?
(based on an almost true story)


MACEDONIA
I don’t poo alone 
Wherever I am
The toddler follows


SAN MARINO
What's the spirit of the night, spirit of the night
Brandy, cognac, gin, tequila?
Spirit of the night, makes our wallets so much lighter


SLOVENIA
Saturday, I’m won’t coming back
I’ll hide away because I’ll get the sack


SPAIN
Do it for your liver, do it for your liver baby
Down a pint and saturate your liver


SWITZERLAND
I have got a strong big toe
All the way from Tokyo
Twenty years of training
Grandmaster of tae kwon do


Saturday, 6 May 2017

BBC Radio Bristol

Once again (for what I believe is the 4th time!) I appeared on the Steve Yabsley show to talk about Eurovision!

We started off about talking about the history of the contest before having a small reminisce about last year's contest and the fact that I was at this year's UK Eurovision selection show. Right at the end I talk about some of the ones to watch out for, as well as the BIG fave (I wonder who that could be?!?!?!?)

Remember that in the UK both semis are on BBC Four (Tuesday and Thursday) and the final on BBC One.
As well as the final you can vote for your fave in semi final 1 too !

I will try and get an mp3 of the interview on the site in a few weeks time but while you wait you can listen to it on the bbc website! Here is the link for the iplayer, which will be available for 4 weeks after the date of transmission.
My bit starts around the 36 min mark... here


Monday, 1 May 2017

My 2017 ranking

This is my final ranking of the 42 Eurovision finalists as taken on the moring of 30th April, before the first rehearsal.

Number 42 is at the bottom of this blogpost and number 1 will eventually find itself at the top !

This is my personal ranking and it has literally changed day by day ths year's Eurovision has been that open! I will revisit my ranking after the first week of rehearsals and alter them accordningly - many of my waivering feelings, fears and doubts may have gone, re-appeared or been swayed one way or the other by then! Based on this new positioning, I will then publish a top 10 qualifiers list based on this final ranking -  not a prediction per se,  just a list of the 10 best (in my humble opinion) from each semi based on that list. I will publish this on Monday 10th.

I know you are going to all disagree but that is all part of the fun!
If any of the songs make you curious, you can find videos of all the entries at the BBC eurovision website   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/1XhGk0MJKs6g8sR1vngbdzt/songs-2017

01 ITALY   Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma
A song with a story, several earworms, a copyable dance routine and a meaningful gimmick. Francesco has attitude and charisma by the bucket load as well as a huge internet following. Will win… in one way or another…

02  PORTUGAL   Salvador Sobral - Amar pelos dois
This song just gives me shivers. The overture into the song is so fresh yet classic. Salvador’s performance style is so affectionate and vulnerable you just want to cuddle him. The best Portuguese song EVER.

03  HUNGARY   Joci Pápai - Origo
This just reeks of authenticity. The interaction between the dancer and the singer accurately portrays the song that the fact it is in Hungarian doesn’t matter. The fiddle break is another welcome addition of folk

04  MOLDOVA   SunStroke Project - Hey, Mamma!
If you want fun – you’ve come to the right place. The threesome (including Epic Sax Guy) are back and with a stomper of a song. The great dance routine, and addition of backing dancers will get the party started!

05  NETHERLANDS   OG3NE - Lights and Shadows
The band contains 2 twins and a sister and the song was written by their father! A really heartfelt song with a great chorus. The girls’ harmonies are as tight as a badgers arse and are a pure joy to behold.

06  BELARUS   Naviband -  Historyja majho žyccia
A fun 3 minutes of folky pop wth more earworms than you could shake a big stick at. Although the song is totally in Belarussian you know what the song is about and shows true emotion and feeling.

07 FINLAND   Norma John - Blackbird 
A mystical, emo ballad filled with emotion.  Her singing is spot on and the piano instrumental near the end is just beautiful. Although styled audibly and visually like Adele, I think it'd work just as well without the cues.

08 NORWAY   JOWST ft. Aleksander Walmann - Grab the Moment
This is a grower. An odd song which is not typical Eurovision fayre. Alexsander is a great performer and the use of black cloaks and LED masks gives is a sense of aloofness and mystique. Not a winner but could be a hit.

09 AUSTRALIA   Isaiah Firebrace - Don't Come Easy
A steady if not predictable ballad from down under. He has a soulful voice and the song suits him reasonably well. The downside is that his face can be a bit emotionless so I hope there is plenty distraction on the stage.

10 UKRAINE   O.Torvald - Time
A solitary piece of rock in this year’s contest. The song is not bad, the guitar break at 2 mins. is EPIC but the singing gets forgotten. If this fails at Eurovision I am sure the guys will be signed to play at next year’s Wrestlemania.

11 SAN MARINO   Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson - Spirit of the Night
A slice of 100% cheddar cheese in what is a vegan Eurovision. Some soulful up-tempo disco and done better than Serhat. Yes it’s cheap, tacky and dated and very very Ralph Siegel but it’s Valentina … duh…!

12 ESTONIA   Koit Toome & Laura  - Verona
This is a typical love/lost love duet. Dramatic musical breakdowns and lingering looks to camera mean it is memorable from all angles. Koit’s vocals are fine but Laura can look stilted and sound very nasal.

13 AZERBAIJAN   Dihaj - Skeletons
Too-cool-for-school artpop. The lyrics of the song don’t really make much sense but it adds to its appeal. The chorus is a little messy but might benefit from eye-catching staging. Might be too odd to vote for.

14 BELGIUM   Blanche - City Lights
Another contemporary entry from the Walloons. Has a great beginning and ending for Eurovision and just the right amount of repetition. I am concerned she will sound and look too scared on camera and not engage.

15 FYR MACEDONIA   Jana Burčeska - Dance Alone
The best FYROM entry ever by a mile. The perky chorus and use of hand claps is infectious. But the over-use (nay, reliance) of vocal effects, and the fact she has mimed most of her appearances, suggests shaky vocals.

16 IRELAND   Brendan Murray - Dying to Try
This is not a great song but a very different type of ballad to all the others this year. Love the 3/4 time signature and the simplistic title repetition but I am  genuinely scared that Brendan’s balls will drop before the semi-final.

17 FRANCE   Alma - Requiem
This seems to be going down a storm with the fans. But I own “Toutes Les Memes” by Stromae and believe me “Requiem” is nowhere near new or original. Plus the addition of English is totally unnecessary.

18 AUSTRIA   Nathan Trent - Running on Air
This is a nice enough middle of the road type of song you’d hear at any point on Radio 2. Maybe this is just right for Eurovision… However it could also be so vanilla, no-one votes for it and ends up last.

19 SWEDEN   Robin Bengtsson - I Can't Go On
Very Swedish… Robin and his chums waltz in, x factor style from behind the scenes to sing this Justin Timberlake b-side on 5 treadmills left over by Ok Go.  It’s full of very familiar things. Original yet not original.

20 ICELAND   Svala - Paper
The song is very contemporary but has an 80’s electro feel. Her voice is a little shrill and uses a bit too much vibrato for me. Moreover, Svala’s performing style is totally at odds with the words of the song.

21 UNITED KINGDOM   Lucie Jones - Never Give Up on You
Although a revamp of this song is ok I ever so slightly preferred the original version. Lucie can sing and perform with gusto and emotion and the song has memorable bits. I fear this might get lost at sea.

22 LATVIA   Triana Park - Line
Nice to see a bit of neon-steampunk-rave culture at Eurovision. Another song that will look great in the hall but the longs lyrics are a little repetitive and the lead singer’s vocals can sound very ropey.

23 GREECE   Demy -  This Is Love
A Eurodance floor filler which will get the guys in the hall in the right mood at Eurovision. But the lyrics are so predictable - and the worst ending of a Eurovision song ever. It won’t be troubling the top.

24 POLAND    Kasia Moś – Flashlight
A dark, moody and atmospheric song sung by a singer with a great set of lungs on her. However the song is slightly too complicated for a 3 minute song contest. More likely to phone Samaritans than call to vote for this.

25 DENMARK   Anja Nissen - Where I Am
This has a very instant start which gets your ears pricked with great interest but it goes downhill quickly from there. The verses are boring and the choruses are shouty. Sounds more like an x factor winner’s song.

26  CZECHIA   Martina Bárta - My Turn
This is a slow, jazzy cabaret number like something you would’ve seen on 3-2-1. In fairness she has an interesting voice and the song doesn’t quite go where you expect it too. Nice - but nice doesn’t cut it.

27 GERMANY   Levina - Perfect Life
Yes, the opening bars do sound a bit too much like “Titanium” but that doesn’t matter if the song is a decent one. But this really isn’t. Levina seems like a singer who is much better and bigger than this song.

28 CYPRUS  Hovig - Gravity
Rag and Bone Boy. He’s a great singer and this is not a bad song – but not the two together. He looks more like a slightly drunk dad doing karaoke at his daughter’s wedding. Quite meh.

29 BULGARIA   Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess
This may well be a betting fave and seen by many as contemporary, all I hear is a lot of hipster-ish moaning (probably about hummus). This is too quiet, too cold and nowhere near engaging enough to win.

30 ARMENIA   Artsvik - Fly With Me
Good singer, good visuals and a beautiful backing track. Totally spoilt by some very inane lyrics and (another) very unnecessary introduction. Full of bits – she never sings the same bit the same and has no hook.

31 ISRAEL   Imri Ziv - I Feel Alive
This party song will go down well in the hall but the structure of the song is all wrong. It takes too long to get to the chorus and when you get there it's as damp as a wet wipe. Barely alive and needing CPR.

32 SWITZERLAND   Timebelle - Apollo
The symbolism and meaning of this song is so lost we’ve all gone past caring. This is just a very dull, over-produced song, continuing the form of previous Swiss entries. Full of holes just like their cheese.

33 SLOVENIA   Omar Naber - On My Way
On one hand, Omar is a very good singer with  clear tone and diction. However most of the time he comes across as a stuck up git who loves himself. The song is not bad but boring compared to the rest of the cast list.

34 MONTENEGRO   Slavko Kalezić – Space
Oh dear me. The lyrics are cringe worthy and his hairpiece laughable. I find this so overtly camp it’s almost aggressively so. Many members of the ESC community will love this but many viewers will see this as a joke.

35 SERBIA   Tijana Bogićević - In Too Deep
A case of verse and chorus colliding hopelessly in the dark. The verses are far too prim and proper to sit next to the booming chorus and neither part is up to the standard of the little instrumental near the end. An early faller.

36 LITHUANIA   Fusedmarc - Rain of Revolution
At least they are trying something a little bit different. Unfortunately the verses don’t fit with the chorus and the constant ‘yeah-yeah’-ing afterwards reminds you of the lack of oooomph in this song. Yawn.

37 GEORGIA  Tamara Gachechiladze - Keep the Faith
I don’t have faith in this song at all. Her voice is too wobbly and full of  unessessary vocal trickery and I’d rather she just stopped and just sung the song and the notes properly. She’s trying very hard to be the next Conchita.

38 CROATIA  Jacques Houdek - My Friend
Oh god I have no words. Pavarotti meets Freddie Mercury but both voices come out the same schizophrenic body. Yes, he can probably belt it out but I fear the staging will end up being more BGT than classy Eurovision.

39 ALBANIA   Lindita - World
Such a shame. The English lyrics are just a washout on what is a great backing track. The lyrics are so bad and the last minute is just screaming. I don’t know if she’s ever given birth but that is what it sounds like.

40 MALTA   Claudia Faniello - Breathlessly
The first verse takes so long to get through you only get to hear the chorus twice in the whole thing. This song is so plodding it is the Eurovision equivalent of quicksand. And it’ll stay firmly stuck in the semi too.

41 SPAIN   Manel Navarro - Do It for Your Lover
This isn’t sugary-sweet. This is like a spoonful of NutraSweet – powdery, thin and most of all totally fake. This is going to look DEAD in the hall.  All hair and no charisma (and no decent English pronunciation either)

42 ROMANIA   Ilinca feat. Alex Florea -  Yodel It!
This is literally the worst thing I have heard or seen  - possibly EVER. She needs to get a decent stylist, then leave him and the airport and finally stop shouting in the second half like Aunt Flo has come to visit. AWFUL.




Sunday, 30 April 2017

SOA17_07

In the words of Europe - it's the final podcast!

We go a little 1980's crazy in this episode with lots of weird references and I hope you like our musical interludes... And I am sorry I sound so croaky in this episode! Eurovision officially makes you ill!!!!
So the teaser clues to the reiews in this podcast are -

1) Hispster-geddon
2) If this song was a stick of rock...
3) Synchronised swimming
4) Too much interference
5) He really loves himself
6) On stage with a megaphone

Remember to keep listening to the very, very end for another one of Andy's Easter egg extras - and this one is possibly the funniest one yet (just don't remind him hoe long it took to make!)

The songs left over to be reviewed are, in alphabetical order:
Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Israel, Macedonia and Sweden!


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_07

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

SOA17_06

Episode 6 of our Eurovision review show!

Clues to today's opnions are:

1) Cher Lloyd
2) Give up the beers
3) That’s nice
4) Too much interference
5) A bag of underwhemingness
6) Overlooking like a chaperone

Other references include lesser known Babylon Zoo songs (yes, there IS more than just the one!), 90’s rave culture, Mrs Brown’s Boys, one man went to mow, and tongue twisters

The reviewed songs, in alphabetical order are:
Czechia, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Serbia and Spain.


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_06

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

SOA17_05

Episode 5 of our Eurovision review show!

Considering we recorded this episode on the day a general election this was pretty topical news satire!

Very long intro to begin with (these intros are becoming less intros to the show more like an AOB about stuff that winds us up and needs getting off our chests. Soz.)  Other obscure references include Teletubbies, german bands and BBC Alba (you you even know/care what that is?!?!?!)

Clues to today’s opinions include:
1)      Contemporary yet eighties
2)      James Bond the musical
3)      Pick a key…
4)      Jarring
5)      Pudding
6)      Not even nice

Today’s reviewed entries, in alphabetical order are:
Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Moldova and San Marino


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_05

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Monday, 17 April 2017

SOA17_04

Not one to blow my own trumpet but this is the best intro yet!

We had a lot of fun reviewing the songs in ths episode and probably could have gone on for ages but we reigned ourselves in - but still not under the hour barrier yet- gah !!!!

The revews today include to following clues,,,

1) Look and Read’s The Boy from Space
2) Kenny Everett
3) Joyous
4) Susan Calman and Liz McColgan
5) Sounds too much like a show tune
6) A bit of a heavy concept

The songs reviewed today are, in alphabetical order:
Azerbaijan, Estonia, Italy, Malta, Netherlands and Slovenia


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_04

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

SOA17_03

Episode 3 is here and starts off in a quite literal quizzical manner...
Hints on today's reviews include...

1) too many bits
2) standing and singing a song
3) Racine Carrée
4) vowels….?
5) 2 minutes of song, a minute of ‘voicing’
6) Steptoe and son

On the plus side NO EDITS – we were very well behaved today (although it has been replaced in this episode by extreme grumpiness. Also fewer weird references today more because we were very tired and wanted to get under the hour banner… oh dear epic fail… As ever listen out for the hidden ending....

Today’s songs, in alphabetical order are:
Armenia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Latvia and Portugal


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_03

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

SOA17_02

You came back for more did you....?  You glutton for punishment !!!!

A brief summary of our feeings behind today's reviewed acts are -
1) Rats tails
2) looking like one of All Saints
3) a 3 minute selfie
4) best background yet/ever…?
5) Chris Morris' ”Paedageddon”
6) were there any words?

....aaaaaaaaaaaand there are lots of edits (we were far too edgy for our own good this episode!!!!)
Today’s random references include Kristian Leontiou. The Hardy Boyz, Zlatko from German Big Brother, and  Rubberbandits (please do Eurovision one day guys xxxx)

Now for the science bit...Today's reviewed acts are, in alphabetical order:
Australia, Belarus, Ireland, Montenegro, Romania and the United Kingdom


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_02

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Monday, 3 April 2017

SOA17_01

It's the Eurovision review show that has the one thing Eurovision doesn't - LOTS OF SWEARING !!!!

Andy and Ann are back with the fan and non-fan's view of this year's Eurovision entries... I would say how many entries there are but this number could change at any time... In this show we review 6 from the list...
Don't worry we try and recap the rules, the bizarre scoring system and we also talk about the slight change to the format but it doesn't really change how we feel about anything to be honest!

Things to watch out for -
1) Many references to Mr Tumble
2) WWE themes/walk on music
3) Po-land (quite literally)
4)Andy remembers something Ann didn't think he would remember...
5) Alternate re-writes of the Greek chorus
6) Is this Austria or is it actually Australia


The songs revewed today come from, in alphabetical order:
Austria, Finland, Greece, Poland, Switzerland and the hosts, Ukraine.


So, you can follow all the fun and games on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ESCarmchair  
or like our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ESCarmchair

You can download or listen to the latest podcast here - https://archive.org/details/SOA17_01

Click here to listen to this podcast in your usual music player (M3U Playlist)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

SEMI FINAL DRAW

Now that all the songs have been released, fans have been making predictions as to how the semi-final layouts might lay out. Not only have the songs been designated to 1 of the 2 semi finals but have also been slotted into the top or bottom half of their allocation.

However, this is NOT a prediction – although it might as well be!
I am imagining I am in charge of running order. What factors would I be taking into consideration?
I would have to be careful to space out songs in such a way so that it feels like something different and unique is coming on stage next. I’ve also tried hard NOT to favour songs I like and put them in too much of an advantageous position. All I have tried to do and individualise each song by putting each song before or after something different whether it be the kind of act, style of song or language.The only difference from this is in the openers and closers of each half as this song has to make a statement about what's to come or close off in a memorable fashion.
So here is my half arsed attempt is making an ‘interesting’ couple of shows…

Semi Final 1
Australia
Montenegro
Albania
Sweden
Finland
Azerbaijan
Portugal
Georgia
Belgium

Czech Republic
Iceland
Slovenia
Latvia
Cyprus
Armenia
Greece
Poland
Moldova

Semi Final 2
FYR Macedonia
Malta
Austria
Romania
Russia
Netherlands
Serbia
Ireland
Denmark
Hungary

San Marino
Norway
Bulgaria
Lithuania
Israel
Switzerland
Belarus
Croatia
Estonia
Also bear in mind there are likely to be ad breaks around the song 5 and song 13 mark (although these slots have not been cemented in fact) and so this knowledge may well affect the order.

This makes sense to me and I think it is fair considering the parameters I gave myself... 
Who knows what the real order will look like?

ARMENIA

The Armenian entry was finally revealed on March 18th via the official video. Back in December, the final of Depi Evratesil was held at ARMTV TV Studios in Yerevan, hosted by Gohar Gasparyan. The winner during the final was chosen by SMS voting (50%) & an "expert" jury of Armenian diaspora musicians (50%). The winner of the show would be selected as the Eurovision entrant with a song to selected at a later date. Going to Kyiv is Artsvik singing the song ‘Fly with me”

The main part of the video is set on a brightly coloured stage with different levels to it. She performs the song in a black dress with coloured bands on it that changes colour at different points in the song, however I don’t think it is particularly flattering for her. She has a plethora of dancers backing her which adds a lot of strength and power to the performance. The dancers work well together and at times it feels like she is control of what they are doing, almost like a puppet master. Although she doesn’t go into a full on dance routine, it is mostly armography, it is obvious she can maintain a good level of choreography and could do something similar on stage.

The song is very ethnic and the backing music is very beautiful and intricate. The lyrics and tune that lies on top of it is very non-descript and changeable. The beginning is quite a jazzy, almost spoken word introduction which then gets interrupted by a deep beat which leads into a verse. This leads into a refrain of oooooohs which has a very mystical and eastern feel. It then goes back to another verse but she sings this much more strongly and with her full voice. This then leads into what I guess is the chorus as it contains the title of the song, however there is no backing music change between here and the verse so feels a little bit flat. After this is then a sizable instrumental which is very elaborate with lots of nanobeats and percussion. This is then followed by a final chorus but with a totally different tune to the first one.

So this has elements of a ballad but is far too abstract, ethnic and innovate to be but unto that box. This is possibly the most ‘arty’ song of this year and the video styling really emphasises this. However, looking through all of this creative veneer there is actually very little to get your teeth into. The lyrical hooks don’t stand out enough and there are too many ‘bits’ that don’t get repeated and you find yourself struggling to find one bit you can plant in your brain and remember it.
It must be said that in the last few years, Armenia have been one of the countries taking an ‘out of the box’ approach tot heir entries and have come up with something very different and highly memorable to the stage. Unfortunately this year, they have brought the ‘art’ but not the ‘pop’. I cannot see how any first listener to this could enjoy this and vote for it. As we know, however, the diaspora of this country will vote and might be enough to get it through although I personally think there are 10 other songs I would prefer to see in the final than this.


ARTIST - Artsvik
SONG - Fly with me
MUSIC - Lilit Navasardyan, Levon Navasardyan
LYRICS - Avet Barseghyan, David Tserunyan.


Saturday, 18 March 2017

BULGARIA

The Bulgarian entry was released on March 13th via a lyric video. The broadcaster had released regular news snippets of their internal selection journey although very little was known about the final song and act choice. Going to Kyiv is Kristian Kostov with the song “Beautiful Mess”.

The release as in the form of a lyric video which leaves no clue about staging and singing ability. However, having watched a number of videos from his appearances on various talent shows, I can see that even though very young he has a very confident and self-assured voice. Although he has the boyish looks and fashion sense of a Justin Bieber, most of the songs I’ve seen are ballads and he doesn’t appear to move a lot. I say boyish looks, he could easily look at home representing Bulgaria at jESC instead.

The song in a slow ballad with a fair bit of falsetto and has an ethnic instrumentation. It sounds very modern and radio friendly and somehow also feels very familiar. It must also be said that the start of the song is very whispery and feels like he is using a very sensitive microphone so I would be very interested to see if he performs with such delicateness. The structure is pretty simple with a verse, chorus, verse, chorus structure. The ending is a bit odd as the last 30 seconds could be used to repeat the chorus fully rather than have an instrumental and an extra line. What is also confusing is the fact that the title ‘Beautiful mess’ is a line from the verse, not the chorus. In fact, it might even have been better to end on a repeat of that line.

So here is another ballad to put into the mix but Kristan will appeal to a younger age group compared to many of the other balladeers. When I listened to this for the first time I thought it was dull and quite average. I kept on waiting for a big guild up that never came. After several listens my opinion of this has got better but not by much. It also has shades of “Believe” by Dima Bilan about it, which dates it slightly. I think the biggest comparison many have made is that after last year’s banger of a tune this is a bit of a let-down.
Throughout all the craziness of semi-final 2 this could come across as quite boring and forgettable OR come across as 3 minutes of class during a very bizarre night. The draw might be a real factor in how well this does - if it is near the end, it will stand out. Personally, I think that this is too quiet, spiritless and lethargic to do anything in the final if it did progress -unless hehas a memorable stageing trick up his sleeve


ARTIST - Kristian Kostov
SONG – Beautiful mess
MUSIC - Borislav Milanov, Sebastian Arman, Joachim Bo Persson
LYRICS - Borislav Milanov, Sebastian Arman, Joachim Bo Persson