ESC 2014 Preview: Montenegro

Artist: Sergej Cetković

Title: “Moj Svijet”

I’m a bit of a Balkan ballad freak (considering that I ended up writing around 10 pages analyzing Serbia’s 2008 entry in relationship to the Battle of Kosovo for geography class), so I was really looking forward to the Montenegrin entry. And since the artist Sergej Cetković is pretty much known for Balkan ballad-style music, I got really excited.

There was just one little issue before hearing the song though. Balkan ballads can come in two types (IMO): the first type is the kind that immediately grabs hold of your emotions and won’t let go until the song is over, even if you don’t understand the lyrics, e.g. “Lane Moje.”  The other type works a lot slower and sounds like dentist office music for at least a few listens until actually being able to appreciate the song, e.g. “Korake ti znam.” In my case, “Moj Svijet” took about two listens to for the song to start grabbing onto my emotions and feeling the story. Without any translation of the lyrics or watching the video, the song sounds as if it is about a journey of a group of people up a mountain, and the refrain sounds like a time for the climbers to pause and view the land below.

I can’t wait to hear this song when he performs it in Copenhagen. Maybe he will be able to send Montenegro into the final for the first time.

ESC 2014 Preview: Israel

Artist: Mei Finegold

Title: “Same Heart”

I was about to write something 99% similar to my post on (FYR) Macedonia’s entry because the two songs were of similar genres, but there was one major difference between the two: the power in the songs were directed at two different topics. One was celebrating a relationship, and the other one was announcing a break-up. And Mei Finegold sings a 3-minute announcement that the relationship is over. (Mine was more like a 5 minute text conversation and both parties walking off quietly, so at least I wasn’t melting like a snowman in a sauna). It’s pretty straight-up and direct that she (or her character in the song) is planning to completely wipe out any memories if she‘s “skinning [him] out” and that the relationship was all “poisoned love.”

Outside the topic, “Same Heart” has a pretty good beat for running on the track, and it’s really Ohrwurm-y. The people on the track are still going to stare at me for this…

ESC 2014 Preview: (FYR) Macedonia

Artist: Tijana Dapčević

Song: To the Sky

So first it was “Pobeda” (“victory”), and then the song title got changed to “To the Sky”—which in a way still has the same meaning. And if the most important point is to get people to dance, I can already imagine someone playing this in a club (though I’ll most likely end up hanging around the food or with friends). The lyrics are pretty easy to learn, and it feels like anyone could attempt some sort of footwork with this. Outside the club, “To the Sky” sounds like a good song to listen to while on the track (and in the winter, get some weird looks for mouthing the lyrics and/or imitating Tijana’s stage gestures while running).

Now let’s get moving, since it’s time to celebrate something.

ESC 2014 Preview: Estonia

Artist: Tanja

Title: “Amazing”

I’ll admit it; I wasn’t expecting this song to win (though I didn’t watch Eesti Laul) due to all the hype around Sandra Nurmsalu at the time. But after giving the song a bit of time to listen to, the song’s not that bad, and the song works pretty well with running on the track.

A lot of people are comparing this song to Loreen’s Euphoria from 2012, but I can’t really see any similarities between the songs besides the genre, somewhere in the house/trance/USW (someone please correct me on this since I don’t really know the terminology) category, and that the visual focus is the interpretive dance. If Loreen’s entry was like Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” that her character was only able to describe her situation and have no control, then Tanja’s character has full control over her song’s setting.  The dance movements aren’t struggles against a wind machine, and Tanja’s voice commands to the system to stay. Even when she’s dancing, her voice is strong (which is something I would never be able to do).

If I were to say that Estonia copied off anything, it would probably have to be a little bit Georgia 2010’s choreography instead of Sweden 2012’s song (due to the getting picked up, barefoot). But how many other entries have their artists getting picked up by another dancer? I think the song’s getting too many plagiarism comments on YouTube that it doesn’t deserve.

ESC Preview 2014: Sweden (and a bit of Melodifestivalen)

Artist: Sanna Nielsen

Title: “Undo”

After deciding to skip multiple national finals because I didn’t want to be disappointed by the outcome and because I didn’t want to constantly think about entries in the middle of exam season, I decided to watch just one national final. And that one would be Melodifestivalen final.

Before the final the only Melfest entry I had listened to this year was Ellen Benediktson’s “Songbird” (or as a lot of people put it, the song that put Helena Paparizou in Andra Chansen). It wasn’t bad, but the calming nature made the song feel like a lullaby (kind of like Chiara Dubey’s “Bella sera” in Switzerland’s NF last year).

Outside of “Songbird,” the other song outside of the winning entry that caught my attention was Linus Svenning’s “Bröder.” I couldn’t understand the lyrics as the song was written in Swedish, but the song had a lot of power that delivered blow after blow when he sang the refrain. As a lot of people mentioned, there was a clash between what they saw and what they heard/felt: a person looking like a “stereotypical gangster” singing a heartfelt ballad. And even though visuals matter a lot on stage events such as Melfest, it didn’t matter because the song painted the visuals with emotions.

Anyways, the winner: Besides a bit of confusion with the lyrics, I think it’s a pretty good song (though it slightly borders on “stereotypical breakup song”). Overall the song reminds me a little bit of Molly Sanden’s “Why am I Crying” from Melfest 2012: Stripped down to just the singer, I can feel the raw emotions in the song even though the vocals are clear (especially in the refrain).

In a way, “Undo” is a bit like a spirit trapped inside a music box. In the intro and up to the first refrain, the song spirit is still trapped and not yet ready to take the strength of the world. After the first minute the spirit slowly crawls out of the box and shows itself to the world, demonstrating its power. But Sanna doesn’t make it go too far; in the end the song spirit has to return to the music box in order for others to see it later.

ESC 2014 Preview: Poland

Artist: Donatan ft. Cleo

Title: My Słowianie

I remember during first year that I followed the Eurovision entry presentations in 2011; Poland’s song was my favorite entry at the time. (I only remember this because I wrote my top 10 entries on my German teacher’s white board every single day until the first semi-final, when Magdalena Tul crashed and received last place). So I was pretty disappointed when TVP withdrew from the contest in 2012 and 2013 and excited when they returned this year.

Anyways the song is ehm…interesting, to say the least. It’s got a beat that reminds me somewhat of Dino Merlin’s “Burek” but with more hip-hop elements mixed into the traditional folk sounds. I didn’t understand the original music video (as in: what’s with all the women in revealing traditional outfits churning butter/baking bread?), but it made more sense after someone else pointed out the satire. If I’m not watching the music video, I really like it when “My Słowianie” shows up on my phone. A lot of people have given me weird stares for yelling “Cleo, Donatan!” from the intro while jumping down the last three steps or dancing along with the music, but what can they do if they haven’t heard the song?

ESC 2014 Preview: Spain, Romania

Spain:

Artist: Ruth Lorenzo

Song: “Dancing in the Rain

Romania:

Artist: Paula Seling & Ovi

Song: “Miracle”

I’ve been listening to these two entries for a while, but unlike a lot of people on YouTube I don’t really understand the hype around the entries.  As a result, I didn’t think I could type that much. Also, considering that Romania sent an entry in Spanish 2 years ago, why not combine these two entries into one post?

In most of the “Eurovision 2014 Top XX” videos on YouTube (read: over 90%) that I’ve watched, Spain and Romania are in the top 5. But as an Ami who doesn’t always have the context and/or someone who listens to the songs more than she watches them, the two entries sound like a decent ballad and a decent schlager (though for anyone who cares to know, I did know about Romania 2010). I’m not going to say that they’re bad, but I find it difficult to connect with the songs emotionally, just like the songs that play in the dentist’s office: They’re nice to listen to, after a few listens the songs might end up on the Ohrwurm Network, and it’s obviously better than listening to a drill while getting a filling. However, they stay in the dentist’s office and don’t go home with me.

So for anyone who really likes these songs, I’m really sorry that you found a post that didn’t agree with your opinion. If it makes anything better, I’m not putting them on my hate list