Eurovision 2016 – Belarus

I’ve been busy for the past month with work, writing and a quick trip to New Orleans. Eurovision has been nudging the edge of my consciousness, but it’s been hard to get back into the groove. Until today.

A friend sent me a text asking if I knew about the guy from Belarus who’s going to perform nude, with a wolf, at Eurovision.

Wut?

Needless to say, that hooked me right back in. The aspiring nudist is Ivan (AKA Alexander Ivanov) and he won the Belarusian national song competition with his song Help You Fly. Let’s take a look and listen. For those concerned, he does perform fully clothed in the official video.


Okay. Decent song. Catchy, even. He’s got a gravelly voice with a good range. His stage presence is all right, though he relies a lot on a cute face and flippy hair. The background effects add some excitement to his performance. Is he a standout performer? Probably not. Unless…

Is Ivan really going to bare it all? Here’s an article stating his intention to do so. However, since Eurovision allows neither nudity nor live animals onstage, it’s highly doubtful. Nonetheless, Ivan has prepared for the possibility. Warning: the following video does contain partial nudity.


This does seem a lot like a publicity stunt, and why not? Ivan needs to build some interest in his song outside Belarus and Russia. This is one way to do it. I’ll be interested to see how he performs at the semi-final.

Help You Fly isn’t a winner, but the extra press and some fun staging could propel it into the finale. Kisses and best wishes to Ivan and Belarus!

You can read more about Ivan here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.

Eurovision 2016 – Russia

Sergey Lazarev was announced as Russia’s Eurovision participant at the the Russian National Music Awards way back in December 2015. He’d just been named Singer of the Year and is a well-known, popular artist in Russia.

On March 5, 2016, he dropped his Eurovision song You are the Only One. In one week, the video has racked up over 3 million views. That’s impressive. That’s a hit. That could be a winner. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.


Ah yeah! This is what I’ve been waiting for: a great, high-energy song. Something memorable that makes you want to move. Sergey Lazarev has a powerful voice and strong, sexy presence. I suspect some auto-tuning in the video, but since he won Singer of the Year, I’m going to believe he can deliver a great live performance. The video itself uses cool special effects, and is gimmicky and fun.

High-energy songs have been lacking at Eurovision the last few years. Last year, all the dramatic ballads bored me to tears and I wasn’t alone. Israel’s Nadav Guedj made the top ten simply because Golden Boy was energetic and fun. In a better year, it would’ve been in the teens at best.

Sergey Lazarev and You are the Only One are in it to win it. This could be Russia’s year. I’m giving this 10 points. They’ve set the bar high and now other participants are going to have to up their game. Hopefully, this makes for a more exciting competition.

On a side note, I’d like to voice my hope that politics can be kept out of this year’s competition. Last year, my favorite performance was A Million Voices by Russia’s Polina Gagarina. Though I favored Italy, I would have been happy if she had won. The geopolitical situation of her country set her up for failure. Let’s not let that happen again to any artist.

Kisses and best wishes to Sergey Lazarev and the Russian people!

You can read more about Sergey Lazarev here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.

Eurovision 2016 – Georgia

Georgia has chosen to use an interesting selection process for their 2016 Eurovision entry. Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz was chosen internally by GPB, the Georgian broadcast network. The band was then given five songs to perform, which were released as music videos. The viewing public and a professional jury voted on which song should be performed in Stockholm.

Midnight Gold was the winning song. Let’s take a look and listen.


I’m a rocker chick at heart and I love me some indie rock. Some. Not all.  Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive hits my sweet spot. This does not. I don’t like all the reverb and the heavy bass, and the strident beat. Which isn’t to say Midnight Gold is bad. If this is your style of music, this could be your 12 points.

One thing I did like is that this is different, meaning it’s not a ballad. If, during the Eurovision semi-final performance, Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz come on after five boring ballads, best believe Midnight Gold will stand out.

As it stands, the song is almost 30 seconds too long. Eurovision songs can be no longer than three minutes. Midnight Gold will be shortened, and potentially tightened and improved. I’ll reserve final judgment for their actual performance.

Kisses and best wishes to Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz and Georgia!

You can read more about Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.

Eurovision 2016 – Armenia

Armenia has gone the internal selection route for the past few years. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does make me more cautious about a song, particularly when it is launched as a polished video rather than a live performance.

For example, Armenia’s 2015 entry Genealogy launched with an amazing video for their song Face the Shadow. It featured five singers representing the Armenian diaspora following the genocide of 1915. I was greatly moved by the video and song. Thing is, Genealogy wasn’t that terrific on stage. They never gelled as a group and their performance came off rough and disjointed. They finished in 16th place, which was better than the live performance deserved.

2016 brings us another internal selection and polished video. Iveta Mukuchyan will represent Armenia with her song LoveWave. Let’s take a look and listen.


What a great song! Moody and powerful. And what an amazing vocal range she has! I love the background bagpipes which give the song an ethnic flavor. Iveta Mukuchyan is gorgeous and has the necessary presence to carry a big song on one of the world’s biggest stages.

Still, I have my reservations. Is she auto-tuned? That is the question I always ask when I see a video like this. Does she really have those pipes or has her voice been smoothed and improved to ensure a hit ahead of the contest? I’ve been reading the comments and those who know Iveta Mukuchyan are enthusiastic and greatly praise her vocal abilities.

I’m giving LoveWave a cautious four points with hopes that a live performance will skyrocket my opinion. Kisses and best wishes to Iveta Mukuchyan and Armenia!

You can read more about Iveta Mukuchyan here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.

Eurovision 2016 – Norway

If I say “Gorgeous Norwegian blonde in a tight white gown singing a power pop ballad with killer pipes” you might reply, “Margaret Berger!” That is a description of Norway’s 2013 Eurovision entry. It’s also a description of Agnete, winner of the 2016 Melodi Grand Prix. She will represent her country in Stockholm with the song Icebreaker.

It’s impossible not to compare the two women if you’re a Eurovision fan, but this isn’t a bad thing when both are powerful performers. I think Agnete and Icebreaker are terrific. Take a look and listen.


I love this song! It’s got a cool mystical element that’s unique to the northern countries. I feel the ice and snow in this song. I’ve read some criticism of the song’s changes in tempo, but I think that adds to its mysticism. Agnete has the voice and presence to carry this song and make it a hit.

Two things.

The dancer in the octagonal snow globe was distracting and ridiculous. I don’t know which would be worse: if she was choreographed or if she wasn’t. Either way, her jerky movements were out of harmony with the song. Change (or add) the choreography so she actually moves in time with the music.

The snowflake dress is beautiful and flattering, and fits the theme of the song. That being said, it reminds me and others of Margaret Berger. Agnete needs to stand on her own and not the shoulders of another. Find an equally lovely, less literal gown and she’ll be golden. Hey, gold is a nice color…

It’s early in the contest season, but I’m going to give this a solid 8 points, that could become more. Icebreaker is the only song I’ve heard so far that’s stuck with me. Congratulations and best wishes to Agnete and Norway!

You can read more about Agnete here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.

Eurovision 2016 – United Kingdom

After five years of internal selections (i.e. no voting), and dismal results at Eurovision, the BBC decided to return the choice of contestant back to their viewers. Eurovision: You Decide fielded six contestants, each performing different songs. This is an important distinction since some previous UK contests had participants all singing the same song.

The vote was cast entirely by the viewing public, with no professional jury. Joe & Jake will fly the British flag in Stockholm with their song You’re Not Alone.

I don’t envy them. The UK was once a Eurovision powerhouse, having five wins and many top 10 placements. Those days are long past and their entries mostly languish in the high teens and twenties. Do Joe & Jake have a shot at breaking the top 10 drought? Let’s take a look and listen.


Cute guys. Kind of remind me of the Winchester Brothers. Catchy tune, except for one thing. It doesn’t have a hook. I kept waiting for it to grab me and it didn’t. I don’t feel compelled to listen again. It’s a nice song, and these guys are fresh and appealing, but without a hook, this song is going nowhere. If they can find that hook, though, You’re Not Alone could be a contender.

It’s early in the contest season and Joe & Jake still have to release an official video. I’ll withhold judgment and see what they do. Thing is, the Nordics, Russia and Italy have been consistently producing top 10 material. If they all come out strong this year, a nice song like You’re Not Alone will be blown out of the water and into the nether region of points.

You can read more about Joe & Jake here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.

Eurovision 2016 – Austria

My first Eurovision review of 2016! I feel like there should be a drumroll or something.

There aren’t a lot of official videos available yet, so I’m starting at the top of the alphabetical list with Austria. Ten contestants competed in the Wer singt für Österreich? – Who sings for Austria? competition. The winner was decided by a combination of professional jurors and televoters.

And the winner is ZOË! She will fly the Austrian flag in Stockholm with her song, Loin d’ici. Yes, that is French, not German, and it means, “Far From Here.” In fact, the entire song is in French. Whaaat? Check it out.


Okay, so it’s a nice song sung by a pretty girl. The video is actually more interesting than the song because it is wack-a-doodle!  ZOË is rarin’ and ready to go for Eurovision with those screen effects and her walking in synch to the screen. Well done, in a wack-a-doo way. The effect was completely lost when the camera panned out to the audience, who for some reason kept looking to the left. Maybe they spotted themselves on another screen.

I thing my disconnect is that those effects would be great for a psychedelic, EDM kind of number, instead of an uplifting power pop ballad. Sure wish this was an EDM song. I’d like it better.

I also want to add that last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, etc., I bitched and moaned about non-English speaking countries presenting English language songs. I really want a more diverse Eurovision. So, it comes as a delightful surprise to have a German-speaking woman sing in French. It seems that ZOË is a fan of Édith Piaf, so there we have the French connection.

I don’t always like a song on the first or second listen, so Loin d’ici could grow on me. ZOË should channel her love of Piaf into a more powerful and soulful performance. Although this song gets no points from me at this point, I wish ZOË and Austria all the best.

You can read more about ZOË here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on eurovision.tv.