Wednesday, 25 April 2012

2012 entry - BELGIUM: Would you? - Iris

Draw: Semi 1 (8) 

Belgium chose their singer November 18 2011 and that person was Iris. After a long wait, the Iris song contest was held three month later on March 17, consisting of two songs: Safety net and Would you? The latter song succeeded 53% to 47%.

When Would you? comes onto my iPod, I always ask what is this that I am listening to before I push it on. Iris has a very nice, pleasant voice, but the song is the most tired and boring entry for Belgium and they could have utilized Iris in so many more interesting and attractive songs.

Finalist - doubtful, but depends on the presentation in the semi (and then its still a big no).

2012 entry - FRANCE: Echo (You and I) - Anggun

DRAW: Final(9)

France announced their representative December last year and the song was presented in late January. Anggun has had a long career in her native Indonesia and then in France. The song is modern, has some whistling and is quite attractive.  I can see the European hordes listening to it on the radio, and dancing to it in the clubs. Will the Eurovision viewing public vote for this? I'll label it a maybe.

Personally, I think it one of the better songs selected this year. I like the road we travel with the song and I love her voice. Sadly, Anggun has been logged next to a power diva with Italy scoring the 10th place in the final draw. I suppose we will see who win win there or will the cancel each other out?

2012 entry - HUNGARY : Sound Of Our Hearts - Compact Disco

DRAW: Semi 1 (15)

The people of Hungary decided on a song on February 11 and there was a national final. Eight songs competed for the honour of representing Hungary and the song Sound of our Hearts succeeded.

Not many people are talking about this song and I clearly don't know why. It is a great song and probably too good for the ESC and their cheesy songs, soupy ballads and key changes. What I find really sad is I don't think it will attract votes. I can't see it in the final and these are talented people. Talented people who deserve better.

Vote for Hungary people.

2012 entry : ESTONIA - Kuula : Ott Lepland

DRAW: Semi 2 (14) 

Estonia is another country who retained the contest format they used last year. The Eesti Laul 2012 final was held March 3 and consisted of 10 songs that emerged from two semi finals that were conducted the previous weekends. The winner was Ott Lepland and the song is called Kuula (Listen).

A lot of people like this and expect this to do very well, but I am a fence sitter. It reminds me mainly of the Finnish song 'Why' from 2005, a glimpse of Jonsi in 2004 and a mash of other songs. But I am comforted by the fact that this man can sing and the song is good. But I'm uncertain of it making the final - optimistically finalist and into the top 10 with a good performance. Semi-pessimistically, still a finalist but a low placing.

2012 entry - LITHUANIA: Love is blind - Donny Montell

DRAW Semi 2 (18) 

Lithuania, much like most northern European countries in the Baltic/Scandinavian region, hold a multiple semi final selection process and then have a final of ten or so songs to select a winner. This year, Donny Montell prevailed with top marks from both the jury and the televoters.

Much like last year's song, there is a degree of stillness to this one; at least up to the point that the blind fold is removed. I like that even if you knew the title of this song and were just watching - you'd get that at the point of the blind fold being discarded you know that the the man's eyes are finally open. Donny is a charismatic gentleman who puts in a single handed cartwheel in his act and has the voice to hold the tune.

I am honestly concerned that this will not make the final, but I will be optimistic and say that it will. In the final, he will either sink like a stone or be incredibly popular.

2012 entry - ROMANIA: Zaleilah - Mandinga

DRAW: Semi 1 (6)

The Romanians followed their normal national final program. March 10 was national final day in Bucharest and of the selection of 16 songs, Zaleilah was the winner.

Let me begin by saying that the lady is very pretty and I like the drums through the song. Other than that I think it's rubbish. I absolutely loath the bag pipes and really am not enjoying the words, and the way the song travels. It's rare but I think it was much better live than in the film clip as the clip does not show off the lady's voice.

It'll make the final; and then it'll do okay. It won't win.

2012 entry - RUSSIA: Party for everybody - Buranovskiye Babushki

DRAW: Semi 1 (14) 

March 7 was the day Russia chose their song out a huge 25 song national final. This final included Polina Smolova, Belarussian entrant of 2005, Dima Bilan, ESC winner in 2008 and he teamed up with Yuliya Volkova, the dark haired lady from T.a.t.u. and a gent called Farinelli Balls. The winner though was none of the above, but six harmless grandmothers from Udmurtia, somewhere in Russia

I will admit that I don't like entries where there are a handful of words sung in English. It is a cop out. This one has the added bonus of 'boom boom' said about six time through the song. I'm not sure about anyone else, but i feel uncomfortable about someone twice my age saying boom boom to me - maybe I am strange.

It is not a bad effort and it ridiculously addictive. But if they turn up and their garments have neon lights sown into them or they start rapping, I'm turning off the TV.

2012 entry - ITALY: L'amore e femmina - Nina Zilli

DRAW: Final (10) 

The Italian song contest known plainly as Sanremo is the model for what we know as the Eurovision Song Contest today. Fifty odd years later, the Sanremo Song Contest is still alive and kicking. Much like last year, the song that won the song contest is not the song that will be representing the country at the ESC. Further more the song representing Italy was not even in the song contest.

Nina Zilli and her song Per sempre came 7th in the final of Sanremo. The song also came third in the Mia Martini award and second in the Press, Radio & TV Award award. Somehow a jury came up with the decision to send Nina to Baku while the eventual Sanremo winner, Emma Marrone, will be viewing ESC from her TV somewhere in Italy.

Per sempre was replaced with L'Amore e Femmina from Nina's forthcoming album as it was believed that the song would be better for the international audience. I like both, but truth be said the new song is a much more contemporary choice that is more current and will definitely be remembered; there is nothing else like it in the contest. Nina reminds me of Amy Winehouse in some ways - hair mainly, but mainly I like her because she's the moody temptress type that you want making goo-goo eyes at you from across the way.

Personally, this is the song to beat in this year's ESC. Hopefully, this is not a kiss of death.

2012 entry - CYPRUS: La la la love - Ivi Adamou

The very first announcement made regarding the 2012 contest was made by Cyprus in August 2011. Cyprus announced that their entrant for the 2012 ESC would be Ivi Adamou. A national was organised in January 25 with three songs and the highly addictive la la la love was selected.

On the outset, good song that has the effect of sticking itself to your brain and you randomly and subconsciously mutter la la la much like the other la la la song. It has all the good things going for it, but I have a very very small issue. I'm always a little alarmed when an ESC entrant has not sung the song live anywhere; every appearance so far has been lip synced.

I expect it will reach the final and sink like a stone - all depends if she can sing the song and the performance in Baku.

2012 entry - LATVIA: Beautiful song - Anmary

Draw: Semi I (4) 

Latvia selected their song on the 18th February with a selection of ten songs. The winner was Anmary and the song Beautiful song.The performance at the national final was somewhat strange with Anmary pulling faces as she sang, performing a hillbilly-like dance, and wearing the most stupid and unattractive hat. Not really optimistic so far.

That is not were this story ends. Latvia organised a very clever film clip where Anmary is being interviewed a few times, is in the recording studio and a flash mob at the airport. It also showed that with the right outfit, make up and direction an odd song can look like a winner. They also took the time to correct the English grammatically and it became somewhat more attractive again.

So, the question now is this: IsBeautiful songgoing to be the song that everybody hums and everybody loves? I cannot say yes or no, but a strong maybe.

Monday, 16 April 2012

2012 entry SAN MARINO: The social network song - Valentina Monetta

DRAW: Semi 1 (11)
March 16 was the date that San Marino revealed their song. The composer of the song is ultra famous German Ralph Siegel, who has written over a dozen songs for his homeland as well as Luxembourg, Switzerland and Montenegro. The lyrics are by Timothy Touchton & José Santana Rodriguez.

The original song 'Facebook' was deemed a break of rules so they had to quickly re-jig the song to fall within the boundaries of Eurovision law and thus 'The Social network song' was born. I suppose it now can be about not only Facebook, but Twitter, chat sites, dating sites and countless other internet things.

Personally, I don't like it but only because it's not the kind of music I listen to. But there are benefits to the song. It is about a subject most viewers of the song know of and/or have used, seen or spoken about. It is a lighthearted song that is pleasant enough to fill three minutes of the evening. Finally, they have a clever clip which of course present the joys of social media.

2012 entry - MOLDOVA: Lăutar - Pasha Parfeny

DRAW: Semi 1 (17)
The Moldavian people chose their song on March 11th 2012 via national final. The winner was a handsome gentleman by the name of Pasha, who looks very much like American action Edward Norton, and a song called Lautar.

I've watched the clip and listened to the song countless times and I don't get it. It has cheery music and is pleasant to listen to. The video clip is quite addictive as everyone seems to be having some fun. But the words are strange. The whole trumpet thing through the lyrics doesn't make sense, and it irritates me that while everything else is going for it, the trumpet spoils it for me. It's careless and clumsy - but it's there because there is a man with a trumpet and that's supposedly the link.

We may see Moldova in the final or just miss out. If it makes the final, I'd expect the usual 12 from Romania and little else.

2012 entry - AZERBAIJAN: When the music dies - Sabina Babayeva

DRAW: Final (13)

Azerbaijan has a habit of holding long winded national finals, select a singer and then silence till mid to late March when they provide a song. This year there was no difference. Sabina was selected in their national final on February 12 - song was presented  March 17.

When the music dies is an updated copy of Sam Brown's 'Stop'. Now that has been said, Sabina has a lovely voice and she could probably sing the telephone directory and she would still do well. I've not heard Sabina sing this song live - only preview clip - and that can give an indication that all is not well.

2012 entry - NORWAY: Stay - Tooji

DRAW: Semi 2 (16) 

Norway, like all years, have hosted the MGP (Melodi Grand Prix) to select the person to wave their flag. As always a high standard show with great songs. The favorite and the eventual winner was Tooji and his song is called Stay.

Stay is going to make the final in my opinion, but i can't see a crystal ball that is going to tell me the ESC 2013 will be in Oslo again. For me, it is a professional song, modern, ethnic and interesting - but it is also a noisy headache of a song. There are comparisons to Popular from Sweden last year that i believe are unjustified. I'm starting to like it quite a bit.

2012 entry - FYROM: Crno i belo - Kaliopi

DRAW: Semi 2 (2) 

The FYROM announced their artist in November 2011. Kaliopi Bukle was previously selected to enter the Eurovision of 1996 (she was Kaliopi Gril back then). Sadly for FYROM and the ESC watching community, her song was eliminated at the semi final stage. Crno i belo (black and white) was revealed in late January.

I'm torn with this one - I kind of like it and kind of hate it. If we remove the singing we have a lovely piece of music; dramatic and with suspense. Even the sound of the actual words are great and interesting. I really hate Kaliopi's singing - it's like scratching fingernails on a blackboard; husky, squealing and squeaky.

The draw isn't going to help them, second in the draw after Serbia in a semi final with most of the Balkans taking part. It's not going to be a final for FYROM this year either.

Monday, 9 April 2012

2012 entry - DENMARK - Should have known better

Draw: Semi 1 (13)

The Danes held an extraordinary national final like they do every year and a magnificent stage reminiscent of an actual ESC stage. The winner this year was Soluna Samay as you already know with a slightly unusual song for the ESC. The song itself is very easy to listen to, Soluna's voice is pleasant and reminds me alittle of similar sounding American or British singers of the moment.

It's not that extraordinary that it will be a third year in a row for Denmark in the top 5. There are other songs that will surpass it. Don't get me wrong, Denmark will make the final, but finish in the early teens.

2012 entry SERBIA: Nije Ljubav Stvar - Željko Joksimović

DRAW: Semi 2 (1)

On November 18 2011, Serbia announced their entrant to represent them in 2012. Željko Joksimović is not a stranger to the ESC; he was the host of the show when it was in Belgrade and this is his 4th song in the contest since 2004. His songs have come runner up (Lane moje), third (Leyla for BiH) and 6th (Oro). This year's song is Nije Ljubav stvar.

The song is lovely and it's heartfelt and beautiful. Because he wrote his own song, he written to his own strengths and challenges. But it is no Lane moje, Leyla or Oro, which is a disappointment. These three songs were all classical and timeless, while this new song is trying to be modern and not really working for me.
I have a bad feeling that Zeljko will suffer the curse of the returning artist and finish outside of the top 10 in the final.

2012 entry SWITZERLAND: Unbreakable - Sinplus.

DRAW: Semi 1 (7)

The first geriatric we can upon in this year's song selection process and the one that will not be appearing on stage in the actual competition is legendary Lys Assia. [I figure Lys will be in Baku for the merth in any case] Poor Lys entered the National selection for Switzerland in December as hot favorite to win with a lovely French song. Unfortunately, she came 8th.

The song for Switzerland, Unbreakable, is modern, lively and familiar. To me, it sounds like a Cure song mainly due to the voice of the lead singer. I'm trying desperately to like the song, but there is something missing or something too much. Not sure.

Switzerland will probably miss the finals this year, but that may not be a surprise to anyone.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

2012 entry UKRAINE: Be my guest - Gaitana

DRAW: Semi 2 (7)

The Ukraine did something unprecedented this year; they had almost no controversy regarding the selection of the song or artist to represent them. Almost as some political person decided to openly discuss dissatisfaction due to the lady's skin colour. The political party distanced themselves from the previously mentioned person.

I've listened to this song a lot and while it will make the final and make the top 10, it's not really wonderful song. The song is kind of bland and the beauty of it is in the singer. Gaitana has a lovely deep voice in comparison to some of the squeaky entrants this year. Her rendition of the song is great and makes it sound like an anthem. It is a song that will be used for the up coming European football Champions held in Poland and the Ukraine, so i guess it will be heard alot over the European summer.

2012 entry - UNITED KINDGOM: Love will set you free : Engelbert Humperdinck

DRAW: Final (1)

The first day of March, the United Kingdom announced the representative for their nation. Three weeks later the song with the corresponding video clip was revealed.

Some people were horrified, others were delighted. I was in denial for the first part of March expecting the entire announcement to be an early April fools joke. On hearing it for the first time I can say I was pleasantly surprised. It's a wonderful song, the orchestration is really good and the Hump does a lovely job. Again, we haven't heard it live yet, but I highly doubt that this song will be at the foot of the ladder this year.

2012 entry CROATIA: Nebo - Nina Badric

DRAW: Semi 2 (10)

Croatia decided to dispense with the annual Dora contest and announced Nina Badric as their representative. The song is Nebo. I want to say quite early in this that Nina has a wonderful weathered voice and is very pleasant to listen to. I'm sure she is very popular across the Balkans, but Nebo is awful. I can't get into it and I think it will be overshadowed by other songs in a very tough semi final.

I'm sure that when the ESC comes around it will be altered as most entries do and the presentation will be wonderful. At this time though, I can't see it getting out of the semi final.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

2012 entry - THE NETHERLANDS: You and me - Joan

The Dutch chose a new way to select a song; six songs competing against each other in duals much like a Swedish second chance final. The dual three winners then competed for the honour of representing the Netherlands.

Joan, dressed like an Indian, sings the song while playing the guitar. It's kind of quirky and it's very much the kind of song that you can sing along to, endearing and people can relate to it. I like it quite a lot.

The second semi is full of 'big guns and Balkans'. This said, Joan should be able to overcome all of these things and curse of being drawn third.

2012 entry - SLOVENIA - Eva Boto - Verjamem

Draw: Semi 2 (9)

Slovenia announced early on they were holding a show called 'Mission Slovenia' and the intension of the program was to find a successor to Maja Keuc last year. There were eleven shows leading to a final of two competitors and six songs. The winner was Eva Boto and the song Verjamem (I believe). Let's get the good/bad news out of the way early; it sounds like Molitba, winner of ESC 2007, and thats because the man who wrote the music for both.

Personally, I didn't give this a second glance when it was selected and remembered it only as the song with the Lena look alike and the backing singer with the fairy floss on her head and the badly buttoned cardigan (look closely and you'll see). Then I loaded it onto my iPod and couldn't stop listening to it repeatedly.

Will it make the final? It all depends on the presentation they choose and the fact that is dominated by Balkan ballads. She is only 16, and I think that if that presentation is spot on, Eva Boto could potentially be the most successful Slovene in ESC history.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

2012 entry - ICELAND: Greta Salóme & Jónsi - Never Forget

Draw: 1st Semi final (2) 

Iceland did what they do every year: chose 15 songs for three semi finals and brought that down to a dozen or so songs to complete a final. That final was conducted on Feb 11 and the winner was Mundu eftir mér. As with all Icelandic songs, they were then translated into english and the song ever forgetis the song for Iceland in 2012.

This song was an early favorite with the fans. There is drama, it is well sung and Greta and Jonsi are so in the moment when they sing it. Expect that we will see it in the final, but it landed a terrible draw. We have seen decent songs be 2nd in a final and then make the final - not worried.

2012 entry - FINLAND: Pernilla Karlsson - Nar jag blundar

Draw: Semi 1 (09) 

Finland announced the format for the national final in August 2011 with a new name but somewhat the same format. Semi finals, eliminations and a final and we have a song sung in Swedish for Finland.

The song is very pleasant sung in a lovely, quiet way by Pernilla. I'm troubled about it being in Swedish and not Finnish; minor point though. I wonder seeing as it is in the middle of the draw will it be forgotten by the televoters and final does see a final for a third year in a row.

2012 entry - TURKEY: Can Bonomo - Love Me Back

Draw: 2nd Semi (13)

The Turks have traditionally chosen their entries internally. The last time TRT held a national final they chose the hysterical Gulseren and the entry Rimi Rimi Ley. It came thirteenth which is the worst Turkey has come in the final in this last decade.

January 9th was the date that Turkey announced their singer to be Can Bonomo and this was followed closely (Feb 22) with the actual song. Can is a quirky fellow and he has a style of his own. It may be an outfit to go with the seafaring theme of the song, maybe he likes it, maybe he is deranged. The last time a gentleman wore a fisherman's cap upon an ESC stage they finished second from last.

As you may have guessed, I'm not liking this and it pains me to say this as I love the Turkish entries. I don't like the man, I don't like the words, I don't really like the music nor the na ni na ni words. I may be wrong, but I see another year with no Turkish song in the finals.

Monday, 2 April 2012

2012 entry - BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA: Korake Ti Znam - Maya Sar

Draw: Semi 2 (17) 

The selection of the artist for Bosnia & Herzegovina was made in December 2011. The name of the artist is Maya Sar. This was followed by a silent period of three months before we were advised of the entry itself.

Korake Ti Znam (English: Everything I love) is one of a series of ballads in the contest and most of them are coming from the Balkans/former Yugoslav states. This song has a timeless beauty and Maya has a lovely tone to her voice. The problem I see is that I haven't heard her sing it live and while i can locate other songs were she is singing, it is always reassuring to hear the song itself.

Regardless, it'll make the final without a sweat.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

2012 entry - GEORGIA: Anri Jokhadze - I'm A Joker

Draw: Semi 2 (12)
Georgia selected their entry February 19 and there were 9 songs in the national final. The song that was selected is 'I'm a jocker' with a dark haired Anri gyrating about aimlessly. Once it was selected, the title changed from 'jocker' to 'joker'.

The song has now morphed as most songs do - Georgia took it one step further and Anri is now a blonde. It opens with a dramatic opening maybe to show that our bloke can actually song and then the rhyming begins; joker rocker shocker poker. They have worked on this song quite a lot and it better than the horror we had in Tbilisi.

Let me assure you though even with these changes I still believe this is the worst entry of the year; I expect some sort of gimmick (it's Georgia after all - long sheets, goths, heavy choreography and impromptu sword fights expected) and it'll tumble into the final like they deserve it.

2012 entry - ALBANIA: Rona Nishliu - Suus

Draw - First Semi final (5)

Albania chose their song second of all the countries in this years Eurovision way back in the last days of December 2011 (Switzerland got in first). They held their annual song contest Festivali i Këngës and the winner of course would represent their country.

Rona Nishliu is not the type of person you anticipate representing Albania with a fantastic head of dreadlocks. Let me assure you though, her hair and her appearance in Tirana last December did not dissuade the jury or the televoters of Albania in choosing a great song to represent them.

The song that is representing Albania has been cut down from a 4:30 minutes to 3  minutes to fit into the Eurovision standard. While the original version was rambling and repetitive, the new version is an outstanding, dramatic, stylish and powerful entry. Rona looks stylish, almost like an Audrey Hepburn clone, and the music of the new version appears to be using the full orchestra.

I am really looking forward to Albania at the final and hopefully the magic of the song captures everyone.