Friday 8 March 2019

Belarus 2019 - Eva Kogan - Run

Now here's a cautionary tale about electing not to sing in your own language. English may be something of a lingua franca in the musical world, but if you're going to attempt to try to sing in it, you should at least have something of a minimal grasp of its shape and grammar.

Witness poor Eva here. She obviously thought she was onto a good thing, beating our very own Daz Sampson to the final and all, but she really should have revised her language of choice decision. Because, well, it's fair to say that we were the best part of a third of the way through the song before we realised that she was having a stab at our mother tongue. But still we weren't sure, and the Apocalypse sofa was pulled closer and closer to the screen to try and pick out little packets of syllables that we recognised.

But we're not mocking her for her lack of language skills. She did a darn sight better than I ever would have attempting to sing the song in Belarussian - or just about any other language, to be honest. But if you're trying to display emotion in a big old plod of a ballad, it's useful to have even the tiniest grasp of what you're singing about, rather than remembering word shapes from an unfamiliar tongue. Fair play for giving it a go, Eva, but let this be a lesson to you if you ever try and enter a song again. Because this was at near Ken Lee levels of language mangling, bless you.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Serbia 2019 - Dženan Lončarević - Nema Suza

Serbia has been the source of some dark entertainment this season. The social unrest in the nation has surely filtered through to the contest and there's a lot of introspection, and in many cases downright bleak entries on their slate this year. But more more visually arresting than this.

From our less than perfect grasp of Slavic languages, we surmise that this is a song about a mother whose bright, artistic son has gone to war, and while she waits for him to return she knits figurative strands of hurt and worry to show her painful longing. But then it all gets a bit interpretive dancey and a giant ball of wool comes on and unravels before her - and the it begins to get really strange. And gloomy. And boy has it ever got a downbeat ending.

But even though this occasionally borders on the silly to the Western eye, this is a heartfelt song with one eye on the nation's troubled past that will really tug at the heartstrings back home. The song itself is the standard Balkan ballad that builds and drops in all the right places, and is sung incredibly well by Mr Lončarević, despite him looking like he's come straight from work at the accounts department in the rope factory.

There may be undertones and nuances to this song that we don't readily understand on this side of the continent, so I may reserve full judgement until I see a more contextual reading of the storyline. But on face value this has a surprising amount going for it, and the visuals, however odd and jarring they may appear at first, make up for the singer's lack of charisma, and I wouldn't begrudge seeing this in Israel (as it stands). File under songs you didn't think that you'd like, but you kind of sort of do.