Monday, March 25, 2013

Switzerland: The Review

Switzerland surprised everyone this year by failing to be the first country to pick their song for Eurovision 2013, piped at the post by Belarus who rushed through their final, once again though we were reminded that Belarus need to rush through their selection as there may be more to come…Switzerland are always a country who put on a good show for a national final, and though we might not always agree with the result it is still something to watch in December.

I quite like the Swiss entry this year I think it offers quite a lot. You and Me is a very please song, though I was not completely impressed by it when I first heard it. My fear for this entry is it may be lost on the night but it does have the advantage of not being surrounded by rock entries which would may have been the case it earlier years.

My issue with this is that the songs appeal, and probably what made it stand out so much at the national final was the songs association with the Salvation Army. Due to the nature of the rules of the contest, this advantage, which would have distinguished it from other entries, will be gone on stage. So it is difficult to say that it will be as distinctive as it was in the national final.

Verdict: A difficult call at this point, a strong song which could be lost in Eurovision but I am going to support it and say that it has the potential to do well. However I don’t think this will trouble the top 10.

Grade: C 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eurovision 2013

Yesterday the heads of delegations met in Sweden to finalise the list of this year’s entries and to discuss some smaller and more mirco aspects of the contest. This meeting rarely tells us anything important but it does mark the end of national final season 2013 – and what a year it has been.

However now it is time for the real Eurovision debate to begin. 39 entries only one will leave as the winner? That’s the big question.
2013 will never stand out as a unique year of original entries. Empirical generalisations would appear to suggest that most countries have played it safe when picking entries, meaning that very few countries have selected something original. There has been a noticeable absence of really strong entries this year. It is unlikely that we will see the cutting edge performances like Euphoria or the tear-jerkingly amazing vocal performance of Pastora Soler. Norway is probably the only country really bucking this trend. Margaret Berger’s song is one of the strongest and most original entry this year.

What are the bookies saying?

The early frontrunners are the Scandinavian entries. Denmark, Norway and Sweden lead the odds on Paddy Power, followed closely by Netherlands. The problem here is that when a region of Europe all produces very strong entries it becomes very difficult for one of them to gather all of the votes. Instead they take over the top 10. However in other years we’ve seen two Nordic countries come in the top 5. If we broadly define the UK as a part of Northern Europe then we may also note that 2009 had three northern European countries in the top 5.

The Big 5
The Big 5 have produced a very mixed range of songs. The UK’s entry will probably advance their place on last year but it is difficult to image Bonny Tyler on the left hand side of the scoreboard. Similarly France have missed the boat again this year, though Spain’s entry is a bit below average it still is well received. Italy’s strong entry is similarly well receive. Germany’s entry is the strongest of the big 5.

What do I think?

Straight forward as predictions are it is a very, very hard year to call. The strength of northern Europe and the Caucus states such as Georgia, mean that some countries may lose out of qualifying for the final. I have been leaning towards Denmark of late though some other entries have caught my eye.
My full reviews of ESC will begin soon then I might be better able to put names on who will do well.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Who Can Win Melodifestivalen 2013?

Whatever you may say about the schlager festival that is Melodifestivalen at the end of the day it will always be the most revered national selection there is and will always have a certain element of magic to it. This year though it has taken some strange turns and some very big surprises have occurred. The question that now remains is who to select as the winner of Melodifestivalen. Who should represent Sweden on homeground? I shall offer few thoughts....

Ulrik Munther will open tonight's show with his fairly formulaic Melodifestivalen song Tell The World I'm Here, not a bad effort but he does appear to have fallen out of favour with Christer Bjorkman. It's not the best song of the night and given the presence of so many male soloists and so many acts targeting the teen girl age group I find it difficult to see him getting a massive televote. However he may score well with the international juries.

David Lindgren follows Ukrik with a similar genre of song. The two of them drew for third place last year with David picking up more televotes than Ulrik. Though his song is good it is far from outstanding tonight and will certainly struggle given the running order position. David is followed by the lukewarm State of Drama and their good *yawn* song Falling. Another group who will be cannibalised in the televote, probably because of Yohio, they could pick up votes from the international juries.

In fourth we have Anton Ewald, the pick of some of the Swedish newspapers and leading the plays on Spotify. Personally I think this song is good but this would be a bad choice for Eurovision as it would be very difficult to organise the backing vocals without pre-recorded ones. Fifth in the running order is the only female act, Louise Hoffsten and her song Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream, I like this but I cannot imagine myself picking up the phone and voting for it nor can I see it getting massive points from International Juries.

Sixth we have one of the favourites, Ralf Gyllenhammar, with his song Bed On Fire. In my opinion this is the most likely winner tonight. This is such a strong song and is so well performed from a technical perspective that this is certainly going to go top three tonight. If this is leading when the international juries have voted then this could well take the televote too.

After Ralf is my second favourite act, Ravaillacz, I think that this would be an ideal song to represent Sweden but for some reason I cannot help but wonder will this get any points from juries? Then it is followed by a more serious joke act, Sean Banan. Once again I can't see this getting to many jury votes, but I expect to see this in the top 5.

Robin Stjernberg follows with his song You, personally I think this would be a very strong choice but given that it came from Andra Chansen it probably will not win. Finally we have Yohio. OR The Ark less a number of years. This is an unusual favourite. Though SVT are pushing it for the win I find it difficult to believe this has mass appeal across Europe, however I do think they have a good song.

Whatever happens tonight it is going to be very, very close and there will be no landslide winner. I expect jury votes to left right and center and the public winner will not get 20% of the vote.

My votes are:
12 - Ralf Gyllenhammar
10 - Ravaillacz
8 - Robin Stjernberg
6 - Yohio
4 - Louise Hoffsten
2 - David Lindgren
1 - Sean Banan

My Predictions:
1st - Ralf Gyllenhammar
2nd - Yohio (by less than 10 points)
3rd Robin Stjernberg

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Believe In Me - This Is Not The Same As Last Year

This morning we woke up to the news that Bonnie Tyler is to represent the UK at Eurovision. I don't think that there was anyone who was not surprised by that news. 

Personally I am reasonably happy with the news. I think that Bonnie is actually a reasonable choice for Eurovision. 

Though some have argued today that this is an extension of the strategy employed by the BBC last year I argue that though The Hump didn't score well last year does not mean that this is an aimless strategy. Also I argue that Bonnie Tyler is a better and more appealing singer. This does not mean that I think the UK is going to win the contest by any stretch. However I do think that a mid-table finish is perfectly achievable and with all things going the UK's way this could sneak into the top 10.

Yes there are problems with this strategy, but I do think that there is a certain level of pessimism amongst many British fans of the contest that feel the BBC has abandoned Eurovision. I am skeptical that this is a complete flop by the BBC and think that this entry may outperform expectations.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Hangover Weekend

Picture the scene: You wake up after a night out. It's the afternoon, you don't remember what happened last night. You look on Facebook.......there's pictures. Lots of pictures. You stare at your computer screen and think "Oh God!"

Well that's how I feel about this Eurovision weekend. Left, Right and Centre - what did Europe do this weekend? There have been some very suspect song selections by any accounts.

Serbia just about got it right but they had five very strong songs in their final; so they don't really deserve a clap for that. They sent Moje 3 to Eurovision with the song Ljubav Je Svuda - I really like the performance. You can watch the video here.

Estonia made the very strange choice of sending Birgit Oigemeel to Eurovision with the song Et Uus Saaks Alguse. I though there were some much better entries in this year's Eesti Laul, so there certainly has been some missed opportunities there. You can watch the winning song here.

Bulgaria have really lost the plot. After having the brains to send Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulou back to Eurovision they made a very unsmart song selection of Kismet. It is like Water only not nearly as good. It really is not a strong song selection by any one's judgement and should continue to keep Bulgaria in the semi-finals. Listen to the song here.

Armenia had already chosen their singer so Gor Sujyan was already going to Eurovision. Now we know he will go with the song Lonely Planet, which in my opinion is a fairly poor song from Armenia, they are capable of much better. Listen to the song here.

Hungary choose ByeAlex and the song Kedvesem to represent them at Eurovision a surprising (but awful) choice and, well ByeAlex just says it all. Watch the performance here.

Other Song Choices

I haven't had the chance to really dig into some of the other songs that have been presented lately and am trying to catch up on them, however I really am impressed by Georgia's song Waterfall - well done Thomas G:sson.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Who Will Estonia Send To Malmo?

Estonia a country of just 1.2 million people is certainly a country that punches way above it's weight in terms of quality of national final. So though I will be glued to Andra Chansen tonight others will be watching Essti.This morning I look at Estonia briefly, so let's see what's happening there:

Rolf Roosalu – With U
A remarkably unusual Eesti Laul song given that there is nothing remarkable to make this Estonian which is normally a theme of the songs in the Estonian national final. This song probably is pitched at the fans of Kuula last year, it bears many similar characteristics of last year’s entry though it just is not as outstanding and doesn’t jump out at me as much as Kuula did, nevertheless it is an impressive song which is well sung. Grade: A-

Liisi Koilson Ja Sooromoo – Ule Vee
Sorry I could not get all the dots above her name. This is a gentle bouncy song which patters along. It’s nice to have in the background but I fear that it just will not stand out enough to make an impression in the national final. It’s a bit forgettable. Grade: C

Facelift Deer – Dance
Tries to be old school boom town rats or similar – fails miserably. Grade: F

Elina Born – Enough
Elina has a good song but when I watched a preview video she was singing it live and this was not good as I imagine the studio version is. All the other songs have been judged based on their studio version so it seems not right to judge this based on the live version. Grade: B-

Pohja Tallinn – Meil On Aega Veel
Here it is – The Estonian choir song, sadly with added rap in Estonian which makes the overall song feel like a scratched CD. Can’t understand how Estonia would convince the EBU to take a large enough crowd onstage to let them produce the sound of the chorus of this song. Grade: D

Korsikud – Suuda Oelda Ei
I should like this but I don’t like it as much as I should. However it does build into a more substantial song as it goes on but I fear it is taking too long to do this. It reminds me a lot of Christmas, but do I want to think about this in May? Grade: B

Birgit Oigemeel – Et Uus Saaks Alguse
Another gentle song still I don't think that it will go to far tonight but it is difficult to say, this is a little forgettable though. Far from outstanding but makes a soft impact. Grade: C

Teele & Tuuli & Ula – Ring The Alarm
There’s a certain amount of Amy Winehouse in this song. The verses are somewhat weak but at the same time I quite like the chorus – It grows on you. Grade: B

Winny Puhh – Meiecundimees Uks Korsakov Laks Eile Latte
No – seriously Estonia? I’ve heard pigs dying who have made better sounds.Grade: NG

Grete Paia – Paastke Noored Hinged
This is why I listen to Eesti Laul, for all the overly strong pop songs sometimes it all just works and for this I solute you Estonia. This is the first song I have actually wanted to listen to a bit more, this is simply excellent. Grade: A