ESC 2014 Preview: Iceland

Artist: Pollapönk

Song: Enga fordóma

This song reminds me of two things: a) The Wiggles (for the band’s outfits) and b) Andorra’s 2007 entry (for the Ohrwurm-y refrain). So it’s really catchy, they’re wearing colorful outfits, and I have no problem getting happy feet when listening to this. It’s also not straight-up “Eurovision formula” material, so there should be some variety in the semi-finals.

Except there’s also some angry people online: Without getting into the camp of “OMG Iceland you’re not going to qualify this year because you picked this crap instead of [insert super awesome song at NF]”, the main online concern is that no one understands the lyrics. Yes, I get that the title means “No Prejudices”, but given the feeling of the song, it’s a little hard to deliver the message to non-Icelandic speakers. Unlike Iceland’s 2013 entry, where the general meaning could be felt using a translation of the title and the tune, I can’t feel where Pollapönk talks about the theme (especially since the only word I can pick up is “algebra”). So I’ll listen to the song and dance along, but without a widely available translation I won’t pick up the theme yet.

ESC 2014 Preview: Malta

Artist: Firelight

Song: “Coming Home”

I’m going to say that I’m not a big fan of this song yet. As of right now, it feels as if the song doesn’t go anywhere, as in the emotion level doesn’t really change much. It’s nice that it creates this friendly sit-down, coffee shop-like environment, but I might end up listening to the song in school canteen and end up not really caring. Something similar might happen in an arena with 150 million worldwide viewers, so they’re going to have to get really close to the viewers in order to sound more coffeeshop than canteen radio.

ESC 2014 Preview: Switzerland

Artist: Sebalter

Song: “Hunter of Stars”

I didn’t bother listening to any of the songs in the Swiss national final outside of Arxplendida’s Latin entry (which didn’t make the cut for the final in February), but when I first listened to Sebalter’s entry I was hooked. Okay, so maybe it was kind of difficult listening to the lyrics, but the tune (especially the whistling hook) was really catchy and I couldn’t stop tapping my foot. Also, judging by Sebalter’s videos of rehearsing in the dressing room and jamming at home, he definitely can sing live.

I just have one issue with the lyrics: For some reason, it sounds a bit like he learned from Željko Joksimović by cramming a bunch of syllables into one line. That feels a little weird when the song sounds more like country music than it does a Balkan ballad.

Anyways, this song is (at this moment) one of my top 5 entries, and I guarantee that the song’s going to give me a good case of happy feet during the contest.

ESC 2014 Preview: Latvia

Artist: Aarzemnieki

Song: “Cake to Bake” (Yes, I’m doing this review right after posting a review for the Belarusian entry)

First Impression:

So Latvia’s decided to settle down from “great things” e.g. opening the 2nd semifinal and performing the first stage dive last year, and instead they’re focusing on the little things (Like cake.)

There seem to be two opinions regarding this song in the ESC world:

“WTF Latvia, you just killed your chances of getting into the final for the 6th time in a row because you selected this crap instead of [insert super awesome song from Dziesma here]!!”

Or there’s something a lot nicer this year:

“Awwwwwwww, it’s so cute!”

I think I lean towards the latter opinion. Yes, it’s cute, but it’s not cheesy up to the point that I’m drowning in a fondue pot. If I close my eyes, I can imagine the group playing the song at a coffee shop’s Friday Open Mic Night; it’s got this happy feeling somewhere in between “My Favorite Things” and “Kedvesem” (Hungary 2013).

ESC 2014 Preview: Belarus

Artist: TEO

Song Title: “Cheesecake”

According to ESC fan forum comments, TEO looks a bit like a combination of Pasha Parfeny (Moldova 2012/2013) and Robin Thicke.

When I first heard this song, my initial reaction was “WTF…?” while staring at the computer screen in shock. It was pretty much a combination of lyrics I couldn’t understand, TEO’s dancing, and the three backing singers holding up signs. After registering what had happened, I couldn’t finish the song for the first week without laughing—and now the feeling is pretty similar to watching Ukraine’s 2007 entry.

The official music video was really confusing.  Where was the cheesecake? Why is there a naked woman playing accordion? And why are you kicking the camera? But I guess it worked to get a lot of views. And that (hopefully) means that the song won’t do too badly in the semi-final (??)

ESC 2014 Preview: Italy

Song: La mia città

Artist: Emma Marrone

So instead of hosting San Remo Festival like the past 3 years to select their artist, RAI decided to just internally select both song and artist. It is a pretty good song (as it’s really Ohrwurm-y/catchy and can most likely keep me motivated while running on the track), but part of me feels like the beat sounds really familiar. That is, that someone could take the song, switch up the chords and lyrics, and the feeling would still be the same. Still, I like the amount of power in the refrain, since the lyrics push in iambs and that gets the point through. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, you can still feel the song.

ESC 2014 Preview: Albania

Title: Zemërimi i një nate

Artist: Hersiana Matmuja

So there are a lot of ballads in the Eurovision world: Some of them are like Suus, describing their pain at the moment, some are like Moving On, where the singers leave the past behind completely, and then there’s Albania this year. Yes, you might have gotten into something really bitter last night, but you’ll be able to think more clearly in the morning. That probably explains the guitar riff intro clearing up into a ballad- but it’s not supposed to be weak, as it was still able to remind me of Aerosmith’s Angel (a poster child power ballad).

I really hope that Albania and RTSH keep the song in Albanian instead of switching to English. Rona Nishliu proved in 2012 that RTSH doesn’t always need to swap languages to keep the power, and Hersiana Matmuja should be able to do the same.