Eurovision 2015 – Australia

That’s right. Not Austria. Australia.

The Aussies are mad about Eurovision. The contest has been broadcast in Australia for 30 years to an ever increasing audience. In honor of this popularity, Eurovision invited Australia to compete in the 60th Anniversary show. They will compete only in the finale, not the semi-finals. This is a one-off opportunity, unless of course Australia wins.

Could happen. Or could it? The best way to judge is to check out the Australia’s official video. Guy Sebastian will be proudly waving the Aussie flag in Vienna with his song Tonight Again.

When this started, all I could think is, “Please, not another ballad.” It’s not! It’s a fun and upbeat R&B number that is so refreshing to the ears. It reminds me just a bit of Uptown Funk in that it makes you want to get up and move to a funky beat. Guy Sebastian has a soulful voice and is an accomplished performer.

Go Aussie! This is good stuff. I really enjoyed it. Is it a winner? Hmm. You know, with the right momentum, it could be. It’s certainly a strong dark horse contender. I would put money on Tonight Again being in the top 10.

Well done, Australia. What a great debut! Kisses and best wishes from another non-EBU country!

You can find out more about Guy Sebastian here.

Eurovision 2015 – Moldova

Woo-hoo! Not a ballad! Right there, Moldova is already on my good side. Let’s see if they can stay on it. At least they’ll bring some variety to Balladvision… er… Eurovision 2015.

Eduard Romanyuta was chosen by national selection to wave Moldova’s flag in Vienna with his song I Want Your Love.

The official video is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like watching Justin Bieber have a Grand Theft Auto fantasy. Ugh. Plus, he sounds auto-tuned AF. So, I searched out his winning performance at O Melodie Pentru Europa.

Ahem. Well. It’s definitely better than the official video in that he’s giving a decent performance. His voice isn’t great. As for the song, I Want Your Love is a ’90s boy band-esque pop confection. Eduard Romanyuta reminds me a bit of Norway’s 2012 performer, Tooji, except Tooji is a better singer and dancer.

Norway came in last in the 2012 finale. Just sayin’.

If this was another year, I don’t think Eduard Romanyuta would have a chance to make it to the finale. However, amidst all the ballads, I Want Your Love sounds cheerful and infectious, and will get people moving. The new ‘do in the official video makes him look a lot cuter. He could pull this off. Best wishes to him, regardless.

You can find out more about Eduard Romanyuta here.

Balladvision 2015

Every year since 2012 I have, in various blogs, posted reviews of all the participating countries in the Eurovision song contest. Sadly, this year will be different because this year I am… well, Sherlock puts it best:

Bored. Swap out “criminal classes” with “EBU countries” and “wall” with “blog.” There are only so many times I can say, “well, what do you know, another ballad that sounds like all the other ballads” before I start becoming snarky and mean-spirited.

What brought this on is listening to three ballads in a row and not wanting to review any of them. I’m not going to name countries, but from this point forward, if I don’t review a song it’s because my reaction was “meh.” I’m more likely to review a song I don’t like than one that bores me.

Eurovision 2015 has become Balladvision and Anglovision. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good English-language ballad as much as the next person, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen to 30+ in a row.

This isn’t a diss against the performers! They are talented professional artists who deserve accolades for representing their countries. Many of them do not choose the songs they perform at Eurovision.

I love Eurovision and remain an avid fan, but I’m disappointed in this year’s contest. Here’s hoping 2016 brings the variety a show of this caliber needs!

Eurovision 2015 – Italy

Grazie mille Il Volo for singing in Italian.

Of all the other countries I have reviewed so far, only Finland’s Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät have sung in their native tongue. It was starting to feel like Anglovision instead of Eurovision. Really, I get it. I know that performers who sing in in English are more likely to win. English is currently the universal language. It is my first and only language. But part of what I love about Eurovision is its international flavor. The contest starts losing that flavor when it’s all in one tongue.

I’ll be doing another post about 2015 being Balladvision.

This post is about Italy and their artists, Il Volo, who won the national competition with their song Grande Amore. The official video is a silly bit of business with movie references. Their winning performance at Festival di Sanremo is amazing and must be seen!

Wowza! Now that’s how to make a ballad memorable: three handsome men with operatic voices and power pop chops. What a terrific performance and great song. No wonder they won Festival di Sanremo. This live performance is far superior to the official video; it’s a shame they didn’t use it. Plus, dat wink at about 2:37! Swoon.

One small problem is the song in both videos is too long. They’re going to have to trim almost a minute off to make it work. I don’t think that will be a big problem.

I’m calling top three on Il Volo and Grande Amore. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Eurovision makes its home in Italy next year. Bravo bravo!

You can find out more about Il Volo here.

Eurovision 2015 – Greece

Greece is a top contender in the Eurovision contest. They always make it to the finale and are often in the top ten. You can usually count on Greece to deliver something with flavor; something different to get you excited.

For example, 2013 brought us Koza Mostra and Alcohol is Free, a lively punk/ska song that was my number one choice that year. In 2014, Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd took to the stage with some hip-hop. For 2015, Greece brings us Maria Elena Kyriakou, who won the national competition and will perform in Vienna with her song One Last Breath. Will she bring the quality and variety we’ve come to expect?

Sigh. No. It’s another ballad. It’s a very nice ballad, sung by an accomplished singer with a powerful voice. It’s also a very formula ballad, which goes up-tempo at the two-thirds mark for dramatic effect.

Elena Kyriakou is lovely and has a dramatic presence, but One Last Breath does not stand out. Greece is in the first semi-final and if she has the misfortune to be placed before or after Finland, everyone will forget her because they’ll be talking about Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät.

I hope this makes it to the semi-finals, but I don’t know. Sorry, Greece, but I think you picked a bad year to bring a ballad. Regardless, best wishes to Elena Kyriakou.

You can find out more about Elena Kyriakou here.

Eurovision 2015 – Israel

So far, with the exception of Finland, all the songs I’ve reviewed have been some kind of ballad. I love a good ballad. Who doesn’t? After awhile, though, they all start sounding the same. In a competition where people will be listening to 16 songs in a row, you gotta stand out.

Which brings me to Israel. Since I became obsessed began enjoying Eurovision in 2012, Israel has sent some decent ballads to the arena. Nothing noteworthy. I honestly can’t remember any of them. 2015’s contestant is Nadav Guedj, whose win in The Rising Star gave him the right to wave the Israeli flag in Vienna with his song Golden Boy. Is this 16-year-old a breath of fresh air or the same old thing?

So. Fresh. Yaaas. So much fun! Finally, something danceable that will get people out of their seats.  I love how Golden Boy mixes a hip-hop sound with a Middle Eastern beat. Nadav Guedj has a great R&B voice and his youthful exuberance is infectious.

Also to love: that he manages to throw in the name of his city, Tel Aviv, and his words at the very end, “Okay, we gotta go, three minutes. Bye-bye.” Lol! Cheesy but in the good way.

This darn well better make it into the finale! Kisses and best wishes from the USA.

You can find out more about Nadav Guedj here.

Eurovision 2015 – Azerbaijan

You can count on Azerbaijan to deliver a great song to Eurovision each year. Chances are you’re going to hear a power pop ballad delivered by accomplished artist(s). They’re in it to win it, which they did in 2011.

Which is to say, they don’t take risks. You’re not going to hear anything weird or offbeat. Or innovative. When you don’t take risks, you miss out on the opportunity to be transcendent. Azerbaijan is hardly alone in this, but I point them out because they are a contender.

Which brings me to Elnur Huseynov who was chosen by internal selection to wave the Azerbaijani flag in Vienna with his song Hour of the Wolf. Does he transcend or maintain the status quo?

A little of both I would say. Hour of the Wolf is a lovely, introspective song with some powerful moments. Elnur Huseynov has a beautiful, plaintive voice with the range of emotion necessary to give listeners the chills. Go to 2:10 in the video when he turns and has that moment that makes you go “yaaas!”

That being said, the song is pretty safe. After it was done, I didn’t feel a strong, emotional connection, though that might change after a few more listens. Will I remember it this time next year? I don’t think so.

This will undoubtedly make it to the top ten, but I don’t see it as a winner. Even being predictably good is still predictable. Elnur Huseynov will give a great performance and I wish him all the best.

You can find out more about Elnur Huseynov here.

Eurovision 2015 – Armenia

I am posting this review on April 24, 2015, which is the day the world commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Armenia is sending a commemorative song to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. To keep it from being political, they were asked to change the original title from Don’t Deny to Face the Shadow.

Changing a title doesn’t change a single thing. Lives are only saved when we don’t deny.

Besides, what’s the point of changing a title to spare the feelings of a certain non-participating country who got all poopy and dropped out when their Man Boat didn’t win?

All that aside, I think Genealogy and Don’t Deny… excuse me, I mean Face the Shadow are fantastic!

This video is so beautiful and touching. The singers all have amazing voices. Plus, I love their style, sort of Nuevo-Victorian. They look really cool. And politics aside, it’s a great song that stands out from the pack with a hella powerful hook.

Genealogy is made up of five singers of Armenian descent from five different continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America), meant to represent the Armenian diaspora. They make a winning combination and I have high hopes for them and Face the Shadow.

Genealogy, I love you and hope you make it to the top ten and beyond! Kisses from the USA.

You can find out more about Genealogy here.

Eurovision 2015 – Georgia

Last year, Georgia sent some hippies called The Shin and Mariko to Eurovision and they didn’t do so great. Actually, they pretty much placed last overall. Thing is, I liked them. Their hippie-jazzy fusion music was a nice change of pace and I do like a socially conscious message if it’s done right.

This year, Nina Sublatti won Georgia’s national competition with her song Warrior. Already, I’m liking her because she wrote the lyrics and co-composed the music. Does this song live up to its fierce name?

So. Fierce. I love it! Love her strong voice and tribal style. Love that she’s singing about women being empowered without involving any kind of romance. Warrior is a song about women being mighty and having agency.  We need more songs like this.

One small thing… what the hell does “oximated” mean? As a native English speaker, I’ve never heard the word used. Oximation means “reaction with, or conversion into an oxime.” An oxime is “any of various compounds containing the divalent group C=NOH and obtained chiefly by the action of hydroxylamine on aldehydes and ketones.”

Wait… what?

Maybe she meant to use oxidated, as in oxidized, meaning to “combine or become combined chemically with oxygen.” She probably should have just said something like “invigorated.” Seriously, kids, the English thesaurus is a dangerous thing. Use with extreme caution.

Regardless, I’m loving you this year, Georgia. Best wishes for a place in the finale.

You can find out more about Nina Sublatti here.

Eurovision – Russia 2015

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room. Actually, let’s give the elephant a name: Vladimir… no, let’s not. Elephants are too awesome to be named after a certain homophobic Russian president.

You know who else are awesome? The Russian artists who represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Yet last year, the Tolmachevy Sisters were booed whenever they performed live and that was just plain wrong.  The Tolmachevy Sisters are not Putin and neither is Polina Gagarina. However you feel about the current geopolitical environment, please respect the artists and the people they represent.

Now that we’ve cleared the air, let’s get on to the fun stuff! Polina Gagarina was chosen by internal selection to fly the Russian flag in Vienna with her song A Million Voices.

Very nice. Very uplifting. Polina Gagarina is a beautiful young woman with a powerful voice and strong stage presence. I would like it more if it weren’t for one thing: it is so similar to Russia’s 2013 entry. Take a look and listen.

Of course it’s not the same song, but undeniably similar. It feels like they took the lyrics from 2013’s song, put them in a box, shook it and came out with this song. I really like Polina Gagarina as a performer. I wish they’d given her better material to work with.

Still, Russia does get a lot of votes no matter what they put up there. I’m sure A Million Voices will do well and even make it into the top ten. This makes me happy for Polina Gagarina, but sad for other artists with more original material.

Nonetheless, I wish her all the luck in the world. Best wishes from the USA!

You can find out more about Polina Gagarina here.