Sunday 11 March 2018

Macedonia 2018 - Eye Cue - Lost And Found

Well here's a strange little thing. The long awaited alt pop presentation from Macedonia delivered many things to us - most of them entirely different stylistic directions - and all in the space of three minutes. It all started off quite promisingly with a folksy pop build that felt like it was going to lead us to some interesting places. Although we never imagined it would be a small interlude of cos reggae to be fair.

But then it gets stranger. The lyric starts to get all sexually suggestive, swiftly resetting to the intro, before, eh?... in rolls the twangy, bright bit of Euro guitar pop. We certainly never saw that one coming? Why give us one genre when at least three would do.

But that wasn't the half of it. At around the 1:40 mark, the song resets itself, while our lass here changes into perhaps the worst single garment we've ever seen in an ESC video. Yep, worse than that saggy swimsuit the Cypriot lass is sporting. We heard from the Macedonian delegation that the video editors were having problems finding shots that didn't, how shall we put this delicately, make her natural contours look too apparent. They've done a decent job of it, but the occasional contour does occasionally loom into view. A middle aged man like myself scarcely knew where to look!

So the big question looms - will she have the nerve to wear it on the big stage? It could see off a few grandpas around the continent if she does.

Saturday 10 March 2018

Israel 2018 - Netta - Toy

So the moment we've been pregnantly anticipating for the last few weeks as arrived - Netta's song for Israel has snuck out unannounced, and it's pretty damn decent. Well, for us at least. It's got all the ingredients of the kind of song we'd like. Banging Eastern rhythms, eccentric vocal performance and some deranged time signatures. And had we not had such high hopes for it up in advance (as well as a few bob on it at 50/1) we'd be over the moon. But somehow we're not feeling it as the contender we'd so dearly hoped it would be.

For a start, it's probably just a bit TOO bonkers. It gives us the full range of vocal tics and weirdness we love Netta for, but without ever letting her let loose with the full range of throaty pyrotechnics. And on top of that, while it looks like there's scope for a bit of loop station business, it feels trimmed to a minimum, with naught but a strange chunk of chicken noises and some righteous attitude part way through.

But you just know that she's going to perform the bones out of it, and whenever she flashes that winning smile, the votes are going to roll around like a cash register on Black Friday. She ain't winning, worse luck, but we're so dang flipping glad she's there, because she's going to light the place up like a massive great candle. And just imagine the Israeli party this year. Oh. My. Days!

San Marino 2018 - Jessika (feat. Jenifer Brening) - Who We Are

How did this slip by us without our notice? In a crowded week of qualifying we bypassed the eminently dodgy looking pay-to-play international battle of the bands that was the San Marinese process. Well, it smelled of haddock from first announcement to final play, and we don't much care for the seafood around these parts.

But after all that, the winning song isn't ALL that horrific, and it does take some of the heat off the organisers, seeing as our Zoe's Austrian bessie didn't win as everyone expected/feared that she would. But util today we'd never seen the performance that Jess and Jen had bagged the showbiz ticket with.

What where they thinking?

Why were those robots even there at all? I mean, they're better than that terrible attempt by Latvia in Athens all those years ago, but it was still some cheesy assed shizz, and hampered the girls in their leaping about somewhat. But who styled them? Big white billowy pantsuit matched with some deliberately crafted street clothes for the rap bit, while they both made sure their folds of spare robots didn't knock over one of the robot lads.

This is pure visual folly in song form. I don't suspect it'll do quite as badly in Lisbon as some fear, but if they elect to continue this stage show there'll be more than a few guffaws come showtime!

Sunday 4 March 2018

Sweden 2002 - Mendez - Adrenaline

Those younger, and less Swedish among you might be wondering why we've been leaving that Mendez laddie that Mello show well enough alone. Well that, bright youth, is because he's got form. Yes, cast your memories back to the hazy days of 2002, when Melodifestivalen appeared to be held in a big room around the back of a coffee house (or the old set of Cafe Norrköping for our regional fans), when a considerably more fresh-faced bagged a near miss, coming second only to Afro-Dite in a pretty strong field.

Delight as he bounds on stage, high on, erm, life, then continues to skip and leap like a car boot Ricky Martin while banging out the rhymes in a full on Chilean-Swedo stylee. And rather than going it alone and trying to do all the singing himself, like he has so famously struggled to do this year, he leaves all the heavy lifting to his more able sideman, leaving him to get on with all the bouncing about and general personality distribution.

Remember, this was a man who managed to beat Kiki, Bettan and Lotta into a distant third place, and make mincemeat of Jill Johnson, Friends, and the hugely popular (at the time) Brandsta City Sl√§ckers in that fateful MR final. And don't also forget that his curious crossover style gave him some pretty massive hits across the continent (although quite possibly not your bit). So while he might seem to the uninitiated eye to be some old mumble well past his prime who's been let up on the Melfest stage because he won a competition or something, there's a lot of goodwill towards him in the old country, and he's probably made the final on that alone.

Now sit back and revel in how he used to look in his prime, bless him!

Azerbaijan 2018 - Aisel - X My Heart

OK Azerbaijan, we need to talk about your wordplay here. So yes, we know that at the end of the day as long as you're pumping out some vaguely word-shaped sound memes that people who don't have English as a first language can happily bark along to, it doesn't really matter if they make any sense or not. But come on, this is my language you're mangling here. With all the money you've got sitting in your pond of oil on the Caspian, couldn't you at least have run your lyric by someone who speaks the tongue as a native?

Surely someone's just looked in rhyming dictionary and gone "Yeah, that's near enough" without actually wondering what any of the words mean. Here's some examples. You may cringe:

It all starts simply enough, with the usual old dragged-out-of-a-bag platitudes.

"I can hear you when I wake, I can see you when I dream" - so far, so cliched. But then this happens…

"I can feel you when I break" - alright, it doesn't mean anything, but it sounds songy.

"As you hold me as you beam".

BEAM? Alright, so in that rhyming dictionary we mentioned earlier it would suggest 'beam' as a synonym for smile, but no bleeder with English as a first (or even third) language would ever use it in parlance - common or otherwise. But that's just the start of it. Cop these for lines…

"Every night you fill the sky with new revelations…" Eh? Sounds romantic, but what does it actually mean?

"Misty moon, I'm your loon…"

Oh come on, you're taking the mick now. Songwriter, you really don't know what any of these words mean, do you! One would possibly only ever use the word 'loon' in a knockabout funtime song with lots of deliberate laughs and gags in it, and then only very very carefully because of the connotations with mental health. You might JUST get away with it if you correlated it with the North American bird of the same name, but only then at a push. Blimey.

But that's not the worst of it.

"Let's rock the nation…"

Where did that come from? Have we suddenly turned into a New York block party hip hop joint here? No! No we haven't. So how has that line even happened?

Then it all goes a bit random word generator for a bit…

"Heaven knows we are, made perfect we are, tailored by the stars. Once we set our mind, we become divine, take my hand it's time"

…before the really silly stuff kicks in…

"I X my heart" (Actually, that's not a bad literary device, we'll let them have that one)

"I tear down the firewalls"

Eh? What, you're saying you're going to wilfully leave all your connected devices susceptible to malicious attack? Why would you ever do that? Unless you've been coerced into letting your new significant other look at donkey porn on your iPad?

"I X my heart" (Still like that bit)

"I"m stronger than cannonballs"

WHOA! Is there an emoji for 'I've just spat my tea out is surprise/dismay'? Who possibly thought that was a good idea for a rhyme? Even I wouldn't do that, and my songs are deliberately terrible. And then there's the tail of the chorus…

"I'll never stop stop stop, Luna moon me up, to the top-op-op"

Now come on, did you really mean to write that bit, or were you on a tight deadline and just needed to fill that part in a hurry with things that sounded like words? This is absolute cobblers from word one, and it doesn't get any better, trust us.

Especially when they rhyme 'noise' with 'voice'!

And yet. And yet… It's an insistent little beggar, and it'll soon get its hooks into you. Where you started off tutting and snorting at every strangely coupled line and curious non sequitur, by the third rotation you'll be pumping your fist in the air rhythmically at the very mention of cannonballs. And couple that arch singalongability to a well-presented high energy pop song and I fear this might do very well. So what if it doesn't make any sense at all, if it gets them dancing down the front on a Saturday night in May and puts a big smile upon a continent's collective face then it's job done. Just don't watch it with the captions on, you might just put a foot through the telly.