And so we return to our scheduled Euro-viewing. This time, it's the songs that will be in the second semi final and then the countries that automatically qualify.
The first part of the preview blog can be found here
IdentitetAdrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko)
Aha! I was wondering when we'd get to it, but this appears to be this years symphonic rock entry. Lots of pomp and general expansiveness, but suffers from some slightly flat production, which is weird considering we have an Albanian mandolin-equivalent, kettledrums, strings, brass, shredding guitar, pyros and the kitchen sink in there. Is this the best Eurovision guitar solo in quite some time? I can't think of another one to rival it.
Armenia - Lonely Planet (Dorians)
Curiously, the video linked to by the official Eurovision website is private.
So this song was written by Tony Iommi. Yes, that one. It's not as HUGE as I'd hope an Iommi song would be, but Dorians (I think that's the band) are giving it quite a significant level of welly and Gor's got lovely hair. If they do it in the understated way they did it in the national final, it'll look a bit battle of the bands. Also, another rather nice Eurovision guitar solo. Would totally love it if Iommi was able to do the solo in Malmo.
Azerbaijan - Hold Me (
Since Azerbaijan won with that Running Scared song that I'd barely even noticed (My considered review was 'Like a rich tea biscuit - dull but not unpleasant') I am a little bit wary of just writing this one off. Again, it's dull but not unpleasant. It contains a rather jarring key change which I cannot recommend.
Bulgaria - Samo Shampioni (Only Champions) (Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov)
a & Lozano)
This is classic Eurovision. Vaguely 80s, vaguely ethnic folk stylings, antique rave bleeps, lots of drumming and some EPIC BULGARIAN BAGPIPES. I love the black and gold top the singer lady is wearing and I can see this making the Best of 2013 playlist without very much effort. Love it, would buy again.
F.Y.R.O.M - Pred Da Se Razdeni (Esma & Lonzano)
A Macedonia hipster sings a fairly miserable couple of choruses about love and loss and then... I won't spoil the rest. Just watch the video, I think you'll like it. I can't pretend I understand what it's all supposed to mean though.
Finland - Marry Me (Krista Siegfrids)
Not all art has to be a profound statement about the human condition. This song is one of the stupidest things I've heard in long time, and contains a selection of extremely regressive ideas about gender politics and relationships but as it's strapped to a high-calibre pop missile, I'm afraid we just have to cower in our bunker and hope it goes away.
It reminds me of Natasha Bedingfield's deeply guilty pleasure 'I Wanna Have Your Babies' but with the high earworm potential of Call Me Maybe (I'm not linking to that. You know what song I mean)
I sort of worry that it might win.
Georgia - Waterfall (Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani)
This big Disney duet takes an awful long time to get going, but I think it's actually a lovely example of the genre. I am a big fan of duets, but when I think duet I think more 'River Deep, Mountain High' and 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' and 'Dead Ringer For Love' and songs with a bit of passion and verve rather than all this Mills and Boon shenanagins.
Greece - Alcohol Is Free (Koza Mostra and Agathon Iakovidis)
This is brill, I've been listening to this Greek folk/ska punk song for a few weeks already. It's a sentiment that a great deal of Europe can get behind, and the band are an affably handsome selection of Greeks in kilts who, if we believe the video, can do a really cool ska dance while they play. I hope they do really, really well, but perhaps not so well that Greece has to host next year. Maybe the UK could step in and host if they do and can't work out the finances.
Hungary - Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix) (ByeAlex)
I don't get it, I'm afraid. I think it might be the Hungarian equivalent of Nizlopi.
I was bored.
Iceland - Ég á Líf (Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson)
When I watched the national final, there was much tweeting about how much it looked like a Gaelic language folk music programme put together by BBC Alba. It's even more like that now it's about a rugged guy in a nice knitted hat going fishing. Adorable, although I doubt the cartoon seal will make it to Malmo.
Israel - Rak Bishvilo (Moran Mazor)
There's a lot going on here. The hair, the glasses, the ominous bass, the ominous cleavage. It's a standard overwrought song about love and despair and the human condition, and proceeds very elegantly for three minutes of almost constant crescendo and rising chord progressions and then stops.
Latvia - Here We Go (PeR)
This has the potential to be quite fun, although the chorus lyrics are sort of unusually bad even for Eurovision. The verse raps are eye-watering, and I have no idea where they obtained that keytar, but they look like they're having almost Jedward levels of good times. All over sequins is a brave look and it works on them. If they can defeat the tuning issues for the big night, then this could do freakishly well.
Malta - Tomorrow (Gianluca Bezzina)
More hipsters, this time with ukeleles. This song contains the first mentions of 'risk assessments' in Eurovision history. Also, what if Jeremy is perfectly happy with his IT job and his routine and his life without this manic pixie dream girl that the hipsters in the park are intent on setting him up with. Bloody hipsters.
Norway - I Feed You My Love (Margaret Berger)
This one is my runaway favourite song this year. It's a bit special, although it's just too dark and kinky to win, I think. It's like if Robyn had guested on that Garbage Bond theme, but with the snogging robots of Bjork's All Is Full Of Love sorting out the costumes and randomly generating non-specifically sexy lyrics from their throbbing data banks. It's like that.
(I think Margaret should wear more latex and dance even less for the final, but that might just be me)
Romania - It's My Life (Cezar)
This is, I am assured, entirely 4 Real. It's at the camper end of Eurovision to be sure, and when Cezar hits those first few high notes with the uncomfortable strain showing on his face, we're almost in Eurotrash territory. It would look less insane without the street dance troupe and pyros, and contains a fairly superfluous dubstep breakdown. Dubstep breakdown is the new ethnic drumming breakdown for Eurovision.
Egads - they just hit the final keychange which was so awkward that I winced. Another true Eurovision original.
San Marino - Crisalide (Valentina Monetta)
Last year Valentina was sent, presumably against her will, to Baku with the Social Networking Song which 'makes the Fast Food Rockers sound like Bohemian Rhapsody' but this year she's back with a big empassioned ballad about how we'll all emerge from our chrysalises as beautiful butterflies one day. The song itself emerges from a chrysalis at about 2 minutes in, and goes full drama disco. I hope Valentina has a better time of it this year, now they've sent her with something that's an actual song.
Switzerland - You And Me (Takasa)
Aha, so this was a controversial one because the band are actually the Salvation Army in disguise and you're not allowed to have ideological messages (other than 'we are the world, we are the children' type stuff) in Eurosongs. The song doesn't do anything for me, and I don't think the brass instruments on the backing track are even real, which is a bit of a waste when you have the whole resources of the Swiss chapter of the Sally Army to call on.
Automatically qualifying through application of large sums of money and by virtue of hosting are...
France - L'Enfer Et Moi (Amandine Bourgeois)
Oh, my. This is really my kind of thing. Well played, France.
The song reminds me of Anna Calvi's stuff, which desperately wanted to be a French pop album. The whole thing has an air of slightly malevolent sexiness to it, which is so not Eurovision, but has so caused me to mark her album for further listening.
Germany - Glorious (Cascada)
There is growing evidence that some Eurovision nations know what they're doing. Cascada? At Eurovision? With a massive ravey banger about the world waiting for me, being who I want to be? YES!
And yet somehow I'm disappointed because it doesn't quite reach the ecstatic heights that I hoped it would.
Italy - L'Essenziale (Marco Mengoni)
We mustn't let the fact that Marco has a puzzling hair/sideys/tache combo blind us to the fact that this is a standard ballady ballad. Nina Zilli's song last year was much better, and has ended up being something I still listen to now.
Spain - Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until The End) (EDSM)
Hmm. Gentle pop-country which turns into something a bit, well, Savage Garden? It entirely succeeds at what it sets out to do, which is provide three minutes of uplifting pop music for a wafty lady to ride a white horse on a beach to.
Sweden - You (Robin Stjernberg)
I watched a lot of Melodifestivalen this year. Well, I had a broken ankle and I didn't go out on Saturday nights. I was quite surprised when this turned out to be the winner, but it's not a bad wee song. It's not a blatant Swedish campaign for two wins on the trot and neither is it a host's extended middle finger.
You'll listen to it and go 'meh' and maybe make some cracks about Robin's slightly steampunk backing dancers, but then two days later you'll find yourself humming the lovely chorus and then that's when they've got you. I expect it to do really well.
United Kingdom - Believe In Me (Bonnie Tyler)
Bonnie Tyler! BONNIE TYLER! I was very excited when I heard Bonnie would be singing for the UK. I had visions of a massive power ballad with big guitars and leather trousers and fists of pure emotion. Then I watched the video and I was like, 'Well, maybe there'll be a less limp remix for Eurovision because this sounds like a sort of lame pop country album filler'. And then I thought about what happened last year with poor Englebert Humperdinck and I knew there would be no remix and no leather trousers and no big guitars.
The Eurovision song contest will never be held in the UK again. If I'm wrong, I think I owe you all a drink in the Euroclub in Birmingham.