Monday, 1 May 2017

Eurovision 2017

Eurovision 2017

"Celebrate Diversity". Celebrate reality TV shows more like. We balked when the UK's Eurovision You Decide show exclusively comprised of X Factor hopefuls, but it seems the rest of Europe has had a similar idea. X Factor, Idol and The Voice are all represented by contestants and judges alike. The result is a Eurovision full of serious credible musicians singing serious credible pop songs.

More so, the competition is characterised by darkness and melancholy. Most songs are in a minor key, there are plentiful ballads, and "gothic, experimental, ethnic synths" are the order of the day. It's like the Hunger Games of song. Is this Europe crying out in pain? Or are these countries set on showcasing their individuality with serious intent, determined to prove themselves on the world stage? There are no joke acts, no gimmicks.

That is except one, the likely winner...

You can listen to all the contestants on the Eurovision website. The top five videos are featured below.

Lindita - World
The first of many, many reality TV stars. The steampunk video is cool and the vocals pack a punch, but this Kosovan singer is no Rita Ora.

Artsvik - Fly With Me
Russia may not be competing this year, but Armenia's entry Artsvik grew up in Russia and competed on The Voice Russia. She's taken inspiration from last year's Ukrainian winner, who proved you can pair ethnic singing with modern synths. This suitably follows suit with its bubbling bassline and sinuous melodies, though it's tragically lacking a hook.

Isaiah - Don't Come Easy
Whatever you think about Australia being in the competition, they should've won last year and I'm still bitter about it. This year, with this X Factor Australia alumni failing to live up to Dami Im, they don't deserve to be here because they're not even European. Yes I'm fickle.

Nathan Trent - Running On Air
I'm not sure what's more beautiful: the idyllic, snowy, alpine landscapes of Austria or this Jason Mraz wannabe's crystal blue eyes. He won't win though.

Dihaj - Skeletons
Apparently critics have described Dihaj as "experimental doom pop" which sounds fitting with lyrics like “I’m so so cursed”. It's been unearthed from the depths of Azerbaijan’s haunted woodland, it's evocative, deliciously dark, and like many songs this year it's more credible pop than Eurovision entry. Will it resonate with the audience?

Naviband - Story Of My Life
What is this folky nonsense?

Blanche - City Lights
This entry was produced by Tim Bran, who's worked with the likes of London Grammar, Aurora and Birdy. That's immediately noticeable with the moody piano, drum and bass beats, and the unusual vocal of singer Blanche. “Are we going to lose it all?” she sings - it's another strong entry from Belgium, but it's not a winner.

Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess
Another singer from Russia’s The Voice (this time the kids edition), as well as X Factor Bulgaria. The video is cool but the most memorable thing about this dark and moody song is the gap tooth.

Jacques Houdek - My Friend
From Croatia we have a mentor from The Voice (oh for crying out loud). It's an anthem for diversity and friendship so he sings a duet...with himself. Arrogance or genius?

Hovig - Gravity
X Factor Greece contestant singing Rag N Bone Man rip off.

Czech Republic
Martina Bárta - My Turn
This sweet love song tinged with melancholy is far too delicate and lovely to make much of an impact.

Anja - Where I Am
Yes she's from The Voice Australia (so she'll get their vote), but this Danish singer gives a masterclass on modern pop: classic structure, hooky chorus, evocative synths and a powerful voice. Impressive.

Koit Toome & Laura - Verona
What the hell happened to Verona? I'm dying to know...

FYR Macedonia
Jana Burčeska - Dance Alone
There's only been one series of Macedonian Idol and Jana Burčeska didn't even win it. Still, she's delivered a funky, futuristic disco entry that sounds like a mix of Lykke Li, Austra and La Roux. Probably not original enough to stand out.

Norma John - Blackbird
A blackbird is a pretty clichéd musical symbol, but this is an unusual Eurovision choice. It's delicate, mournful, cinematic and evocative of chilly Scandinavian frosts. It should sound awesome in an echoey stadium, but will it get votes?

Alma - Requiem
This starts all poetic and moody and dramatic and then lurches into a Eurodance chorus sung in English. It iz modern but très très Français.

Tamara Gachechiladz - Keep The Faith
"Who told you to hide behind the veil," she sings to the image of a Muslim woman. This is meant to be a feminist anthem, but it's VERY heavy handed and misjudged.

Levina - Perfect Life
The website describes the German entry as having "Nordic metropolitan charm". Actually it's just utterly ripped off David Guetta's Titanium.

Demy - This Is Love
In her spare time Demy is a "diligent law student" and plays piano and likes jazzzzzzzz... BAM! IT'S POPPERS O’CLOCK!

Joci Pápai - Origo
Apparently this guy is a "Believer, fighter, singer, dreamer, father and Samurai", which is quite something. The song combines gypsy music, modern electronics and rap: an interesting mix but is it universal enough?

Svala - Paper
Another The Voice judge, but her pre-stage routine apparently involves bathing in unicorn tears and drinking a shot of snow on fire, which instantly makes her my favourite contestant. This is another credible pop track, with its crystalline synths and clever paper metaphor, which could do well but it's not your typical Eurovision entry.

Brendan Murray - Dying To Try
Unless Ireland enter Ed Sheeran singing Galway Girl, there's no way they'll win. Incidentally, singer Brendan Murray comes from Galway, but this Swedish-written song takes far too long to get going at the key change.

IMRI - I Feel Alive
The video for this was filmed in the glamorous Tel-Aviv - together with the euphoric dance track, it's basically an advert for Party City. It's probably a bit too Sun, Sea and Suspicious Parents to win though.

Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma
Europe is in the midst of an apocalypse. Darkness and despair covers the land. But there's a shining light. And in that colourful light there's a dancing ape singing about..."Westerner's Karma"? I've got no idea what this song is about, but who even cares. It's fun, it's silly, it's fabulously infectious and everything a Eurovision winner should be. Also, I quite fancy a trip to Italy next year. Alé!

Triana Park - Line
For the third year in a row, Latvia offers an experimental electronic track, this time all heavy beats, screaming guitars and Euro synths. It's not quite Love Injected from 2015 though.

Fusedmarc - Rain of Revolution
Apparently this act have "raised the standard for Lithuanian music". How low was it before?

Claudia Faniello - Breathlessly
Oh look, Malta have a big-voiced diva in a gown singing a ballad *eye roll to camera*.

Sunstroke Project - Hey Mamma
Mr Saxobeat has a sex dream about his mum.

Slavko Kalezić - Space
OMG is that Khal Drogo? Slay queen! Whip that hair! Yaass!

JOWST - Grab The Moment
The singer is yet another The Voice contestant, but producer JOWST is the mastermind behind this track. It's cool, laidback, feelgood pop with a catchy electrobeat. It deserves to do well, but they're probably taking themselves a little too seriously for Eurovision.

Kasia Moś - Flashlight
I don't think Poland will ever beat those butter-churning milkmaids seared into the collective consciousness of Europe.

Salvador Sobral - Amar Pelos Dois
Simple. Classic. Boring.

Ilinca ft. Alex Florea - Yodel It!
Two X Factor contestants attempting to yodel while keeping a straight face. Painful.

San Marino
Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson - Spirit of the Night
This is singer Valentina Monetta's fourth entry at Eurovision, but she's stuck in the past. The best bit is the key change.

Tijana Bogićević - In Too Deep
Umm...the dancers are quite good?

Omar Naber - On My Way
Singer Omar has "even been a licensed busker on the London Underground!" As if that’s a badge of quality.

Manel Navarro - Do It For Your Lover
"Manel Navarro, 21, is a young composer and singer whose music is a mixture of influences from Bob Dylan to Ed Sheeran." That should tell you everything.

Robin Bengtsson - I Can't Go On
Five hot guys in suits dancing on treadmills to sexy synths and catchy melodies. Fairplay Sweden, you know the Eurovision audience well. Oh and singer Robin Bengtsson was on Swedish Idol, because of course. Possibly the catchiest song of the lot.

Timebelle - Apollo
The singer is Romanian but is an "avowed chocolate lover", which is presumably why she lives in Switzerland. That's about as interesting as this song gets.

OG3NE - Lights and Shadows
This sisterly vocal trio are named after their mother's blood type and their genes, whilst the song is a tribute to their mother written by their father. They were also the world's first group to win The Voice. The harmonies are beautiful but the message behind the song is more interesting than the song itself.

O.Torvald - Time
This is notable for being the only rock song. I can only presume the lyrics ("Let's take time to find a place with no violence", "There's no common ground, there's no compromise") are a middle finger to Russia.

Lucie Jones - Never Give Up On You
Italy hold the trophy aloft in a shower of confetti, leading Europe out of the depression and despair that's plagued 2017 with smiles and laughter. Lucie Jones remains alone and crippled with grief, sobbing on the ground, the lyrics "I will never give up on you" hauntingly whispered from her lips. The UK were never seen in Eurovision again. Theresa May cackles in the distance.