Thursday, 22 March 2012

Eurovision 2012 Preview - Part 1

It's that time again! All the songs have been chosen for Eurovision 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan, and it's time for me to do my traditional preview post. In the past, I've worked in alphabetical order, resulting in significantly short shrift for certain alphabetically challenged countries. This year, I'll split it up by semi final. Here is what is in the first one...

If you want to see all the videos I'm writing about, put this playlist on. I think it autoplays.
Eurovision 2012 Semi Final 1 Playlist


Montenegro
Ok, Rambo Amadeus, let’s get started. The song is called Euro Neuro and contains some very funky warbling synth bass and the most laid back rapper in the Balkans. I like the out of tune fiddle break and the line about something being good for rheumatism. Genuinely interesting and will be on my ‘Best of 2012’ Eurovision edit, but I can’t believe it’ll do well.

Iceland
This is a big dramatic duet between Greta Salome and Jonsi and also at times directly steals the bassline from Pink Floyd’s One Of These Days. It goes all Evanescence in the chorus, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Eurovision. More ethnic fiddles in the second chorus and, wait for it, HUGE FIDDLE SOLO. The video I’m watching also has a huge 10 second silence in it before the final chorus, which I’m sure will be shorter on the night. I think the worst I can say about it is that it’s a tad wordy.

Greece
Eleftheria Eleftheriou is singing a song called Aphrodisiac. It’s your typical vaguely Turkish electropop and also displays some misunderstanding over what exactly an aphrodisiac is. It’s the kind of thing that does really well, but the execution is all ‘will this do?’ and so it comes across as a slightly desultory effort. Also the video won’t buffer properly so I keep having to rewind and rewatch and it feels like I’ve been watching it forever. This is only song three. It’s going to be a long night. Oh, and they blew the golden key change opportunity. Fools.

Latvia
Beautiful Song is sung by Anmary who was born in ‘distant 1980 when Johnny Logan won‘ and contains some rather presumptuous lines about how she’s going to join the parade of winners. Well. It’s one of those self referential songs about how wonderful it is to write a beautiful song that is universally successful but unlike, say, ‘Number 1 Song In Heaven’ it isn’t actually that memorable a tune. It’s not bad, but the bit about Mick Jagger was a pisstake too far. Is this whole song a pisstake? The video certainly suggests a certain levity. Plus, airport flashmob dance routine in the final chorus.

Albania
To sing her song Suus, Rona Nishliu is all dressed up like Audrey Hepburn, but Audrey Hepburn with her feet trapped in a black granite tombstone. This falls into Eurosong Type B, or the Huge Impassioned Ballad, (Type A is the Cheesy Dancefloor Hit, Type C is the Folk Nonsense, Type D is the Unsuccessful Flirtation With Modern Music and Type E is, well, Novelty/Other)
I liked it. I liked the unsettling modern art in the video, I liked the song, and I would listen to it again.

Romania
As I tweeted earlier this evening, Mandinga’s song Zaleilah left me in a state of confusion and distress. The intro instrumentation of drums, bagpipes, accordion and soft synth pads was enough to remind me that Euro-time was indeed here again, and then when the jaunty beat kicked in, I knew where we were. A pretty lady writhes and sings about something or other to do with dancing, and there’s a chorus with a fairly catchy hook, but then there’s also the jaunty flipping accordion.

Switzerland
Sinplus have brought us a song called Unbreakable. I am sure this is not the first Eurosong with that title. It’s a bit like an Editors song, or something you might hear in a live session on 6music from a band that you subsequently never hear of again. Maybe I should institute the Type F Eurosong for this sort of thing. I like it, apart from the parts where the guitars are too noticeably U2-esque. The backing vocals are also really nicely done. It makes the playlist.

Belgium
Another big ballad, and this time Iris is our winsome balladeer. Her song Would You is perfectly inoffensive, but nothing profound. Her movement technique of bouncing from the knees in time with the music with her legs wide apart isn’t the most winsome and ladylike thing I’ve ever seen, but I’m sure she’ll work on that. The song is like the uptempo number on a Celine Dion album in the 90s.

Finland (wildcard)
I don’t know what Nar jag blundar means, but that’s what Pernilla Karlsson is singing. I think this is the incredibly dangerous hybrid between Type B and Type C, judging from the single dancer who is barefoot and dressed as a tree sprite and the dress covered in pine branches that Pernilla is wearing. It’s a lovely, lovely tune, a bit like a more relaxed version of the equally pastoral Horehronie that Slovenia sent a few years ago. Nicely done Finland, but will it get through a semi full of flamboyant nonsense?

Israel
Izabo’s song Time is one of the pieces of aforementioned flamboyant nonsense. With the strings and the general 70s vibe, there’s some sort of reaching for an ELO-type effort. The clowns in the video are deeply off-putting, and I hope that they don’t feature in the stage show.

San Marino
The Facebook Song makes the Fast Food Rockers sound like Bohemian Rhapsody. I cannot wait to hear the shoddy, hasty rewrite that makes it into The Social Networking Song. Awful. You can listen to it here if you must.

Cyprus
The lady representing Cyprus looks a bit Liv Tyler-esque. Her name is Ivi Adamou and her song La La Love is unforgivably catchy summer holiday dancefloor nonsense. The video features a lot of vaguely sexy Snow White stylings and has me feeling very well disposed towards the whole business. Excellent costuming. Ok tune.

Denmark
Should’ve Known Better by Soluna Samay is in chart ballad territory. I am not even going to mention the sailor hat and the stupid epaulettes, because she won’t be wearing those in the final. Will she? The song is ok. It meanders around and doesn’t really go anywhere and lacks that hard-to-explain rising upward quality that a song of this type needs in order to be a big Eurohit.

Russia
Genuinely great to hear traditional singing techniques in this song by Buranovskiye Babushki, at least for the first 20 seconds. Then the PARTY FOR EVERYBODY nonsense kicks in. It has a lot of charm, and a choir of six old ladies in traditional costume isn’t the strangest thing we’ve seen at Eurovision in the past few years. The woman emerging from the piano? The paper plate robot? Sebastian Tellier’s backing singers? That hallucinatory business with the Moldovan gnomes? In comparison with all that lot, this is just fine.

Hungary
Compact Disco bring their excellent band name and a slightly dull modern chart ballad called Sound of Our Hearts to Baku. I think it’s about homelessness and shutting up about first world problems. I lost interest and started worrying about my incipient carpal tunnel syndrome. See? First world problems.

Austria
Ah, Trackshittaz. With your exhortations to ‘Woki Mit Deim Popo’ you are really bringing new levels of boneheaded idiocy to Eurovision. Not only is your band called Trackshittaz, but when you say ‘woki’ (which means shake, apparently) with an Austrian accent, it sounds like ‘fucky’. It’s subversive, you see. ‘Popo’, of course, means ‘arse’. The whole spectacle is topped off with pole dancers in UV reactive catsuits with giant cartoon arses and tits drawn on them. Ah, well.

Moldova
Pasha Parfeny seems to be a much nicer boy than either of the Tuneshittaz, as he prances with his folk fusion band and sings Lautar. It’s rather nice, with a groovy twiddly trumpet break. Ooh! More fiddle! Key change! This is great!

Ireland
The Jedward have returnethed. I still think these guys are great. I may have said mean things about how they were stupid last year, but their sheer enthusiasm and curiosity and energy makes it pointless to be negative about them. The song is a bit different this time - it’s not a giant dodgy glam rock confection, it’s a huge Pat Benatar style pop anthem with a monumental chorus. Do you care if they’re singing the main vocals with significant help from the backing singers? No. Do you want to see them jump about like crazy little dynamos? Yes.

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