2015 Review: Germany

If someone was talking about countries switching songs post-national final last year, I would probably guess that they were talking about Ukraine or Belarus. This year it’s Germany.

After using the same selection format they had in the previous year (7 “well-known” acts and 1 “unknown” act picked from a club concert, each preparing 2 songs to the national final), the official winner was Andreas Kümmert with the song “Heart of Stone” with nearly 79% of the votes in the final round. However, right after winning, he claimed that he was not an appropriate choice for the contest and gave the golden ticket to second place Ann Sophie and her entry “Black Smoke.”

I’m not going to comment on what he should have done, though I probably would have been ticked off if all the televotes that I paid for went to an artist who quit his title. And it might have annoyed people even more had the Eesti Laul winners (who also won with 79% of the vote) gave up their title.

As someone who didn’t vote or even watch the competition, I will say that I prefer “Black Smoke” over “Heart of Stone.”  Ann Sophie’s song appears to stand out more in the 40 songs this year since I don’t think there are other iamb-heavy, jazz-lounge-y songs.  At the same time, the song seems a little small for an arena; rather it seems like it would fit a smaller club/bar stage, though it might be remedied with using smaller, tighter camera shots in Vienna.

On a completely separate note, Ann Sophie also looks and sounds a bit like Lena (who won in 2010) at first sight. Since she noted in an interview that her favourite ESC entry was “Satellite”, I wonder what she would sound like singing that song. Maybe some people might not be able to tell the two apart if it was audio only…

 

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2015 Review: Armenia

This year Armenia is focusing on its diaspora and commemorating what happened in 1915 with the Genealogy and the song “Don’t Deny” “Face the Shadow.”

Inga and Anush Arshakyan describe the situation in their 2009 entry:

“Without me we cannot be, can’t you see? We aren’t free, fixed like a tree to the holy ground.”

And since much of the diaspora share the same story, ARMTV gathered the artists Essai, Tamar Kaprelian, Vahe Tilbian, Stephanie Topalian, Mary-Jean O’Doherty,  and Inga Arshakyan, five from the five continents (apparently South America got disregarded) to represent the diaspora and the final from Armenia.

Judging simply by the music and lyrics, the song doesn’t pull major political strings at the surface level since it’s mainly about people facing shadows and dark things/times in their lives. At a deeper level, the lyrics are a call to the diaspora to remember the past events. However, since the lyrics are in English, one could argue that it’s for the non-Armenian-speaking diaspora or for certain parties who don’t recognize the events.

The first song that I thought of after hearing “Face the Shadow” was Switzerland’s 2006 entry, which was another supergroup with six lead artists that didn’t have the best chemistry. That was pretty much caused by the molding the artists around the (borderline generic) song. The composers of “Face the Shadow” seem to have done a better job, writing the song around the artists to fit their voices and vocal styles. Still, there’s only so much they can do to cram six distinct voices into three minutes. Compared to most songs in the contest, the verses seem to be a little “disorganized” as all artists need to be showcased. It gets a lot cleaner once they leave the second verse and start the refrain; there the voices blend and they go from their individual identities to their one cultural identity.

Overall it’s a good song in studio. I’ve yet to hear it live, and I wonder how it will be staged in Vienna. Part of me is thinking that forget-me-nots are going to be involved, but that might not happen since that might end up being too political.

2015 Review: Azerbaijan

I think my biology and chemistry professors at uni are secretly involved in the Eurovision blogosphere somehow, since so far I’ve taken classes with professors that look like

  1. Vanessa Chinitor (Belgium 1999)
  2. Christer Bjorkman (Sweden 1992)
  3. Trijntje Oosterhuis (Netherlands 2015)
  4. Imaani (UK 1998)
  5. The lead singer from One (Cyprus 2002)
  6. Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011)

And now that Azerbaijan’s picked their entry “Hour of the Wolf”, I’m slightly creeped out because one of the chemistry lab teaching assistants looks EXACTLY like the artist Elnur Hüseynov. (Okay, maybe the TA’s hair is a little lighter, but it’s still the same face and it’s the same haircut). Appearance-wise aside, the entry is completely different from Elnur’s 2008 entry, where he sang as the “screaming angel” of Elnur and Samir.

After listening to the song a few times, I still couldn’t pick up where the song came from. It’s definitely powerful (in the sense that it gives vibes somewhat resembling Lion King or LOTR), and it’s something that I wouldn’t mind listening to a few more times. While I’m not 100% thrilled that it’s another Swedish import (Couldn’t they at least get some Azeri involvement in the composition some time soon?), it’s still a good, non-marmite entry that probably will qualify. (No guarantees, *cough2014cough*)

2015 Review: Denmark

When I first heard this song, it reminded me of supermarket commercials. Or food commercials. Or some kind of commercial. Either way, it was something with really happy people, whether forced to fake a smile or not, and I didn’t know whether to like it or not.

Later I decided that the only reason I didn’t like the song was that it was a bit too cheesy for my taste, and that I wouldn’t let my SO sing/play it around me. Also for some reason I felt like there was something wrong with the lead singer’s face (which could be a problem if the only way to watch ESC and national finals at home is with the sound off). But with the song merely playing in my headphones, it’s not that bad. I sometimes want to skip down the sidewalk and sing along, force my mind to turn and recognize that I’m not a zombie/depressed, show everyone that I have a positive outlook. But for now I’ll just enjoy the song in silence.

But I will have fun listening. They sound like they’re having fun, and the happiness is contagious. 🙂

Ace of Cakes I don’t know how to bake

Last year was probably the most convenient time to realize that I’m ace (asexual), since it was also the year of cake at Eurovision. And the ace world is probably *that* famous for cake:

The problem is that I’m not the Ace of Cakes. That’s Duff Goldman. And since I’m a bit messed up outside the ESC blogosphere, I’m not an ace of anything. My family’s been having a lot of fun telling me off for focusing on everything I’m not supposed to focus on (e.g. the blogosphere), not thinking things straight, and just being a lazy asshole who doesn’t report anything/doesn’t care about anything/doesn’t do anything.

It’s also fun that IMO one of the hardest things to do is ask for help, especially when the resources that do help can be jerks at the same time, or when I think I’m going to be laughed at for asking.

*end rant*

Anyways, let’s change the situation and listen to Latvia’s entry:

Let’s say the main character of the song actually did everything they mentioned in the song. They’re great at all those things, but when they are asked to bake a cake using a recipe, they can’t because don’t know how. On one hand, they could just start posting memes about how telling them to do such things is like grading a fish at life by watching it climb a tree. That’s probably me at the moment: I just want to do what I like without constantly getting told off for being lazy. I want to use my current thought process method in order to reach a conclusion instead of struggle through forcing my head in a straight line. But since I don’t grade myself, I have to use their methods in order to “succeed.”

At the same time, maybe the main character (MC) actually wants to learn how to bake a cake, but the baker is a jerk. The MC will probably fight over whether they should quit and not learn how, or if they should just confess that they don’t know how and start from square one. My family would probably say the latter. Even though the baker is a total asshole and tells the MC off for not being able to ID the salt and sugar or the teaspoon and tablespoon, they are still a resource for the MC to become an ace of cakes. It all would depend on how willing they are to ask for help and how willing they want to become an ace of cakes.

I would love to be able to become an ace of cakes (or something outside of barefooting and the ESC blogosphere). It’s just hard getting torn down every 5 seconds. But then again, that’s literally what happens with weight training: tear a little bit so it’s going to build itself back more, and eventually all the strength comes back. As long as the house doesn’t burn down, it’ll be all right.

Let’s bake some cake. Or try. And actually try.

 

Pre-Melodifestivalen Thoughts

My friends will probably spend all of March 14th posting that it’s Pi Day and eating round food. On the other hand, I’m going to pretend to study and stare at the SVT App on my phone to watch Melodifestivalen with the sound off. (Thanks, family members who don’t like me listening to music.) In that case, it’s a good thing that I’ve heard all the songs before coming home.

This year’s final running order is a little different than the semifinals, since the supposedly “hyped” entries aren’t put into the “best slots”:

  1. Samir & Viktor- “Groupie”
  2. JTR- “Building It Up”
  3. Dinah Nah- “Make Me (La La La)”
  4. Jon Henrik Fjällgren- “Jag är Fri (Manne leam frijje)“
  5. Jessica Andersson- “Can’t Hurt Me Now”
  6. Måns Zelmerlöw- “Heroes”
  7. Linus Svenning- “Forever Starts Today”
  8. Isa- “Don’t Stop”
  9. Magnus Carlsson- “Möt Mig i Gamla Stan”
  10. Eric Saade- “Sting”
  11. Mariette- “Don’t Stop Believing”
  12. Hasse Andersson- “Guld och Gröna Skogar”

If some of the artists sound familiar, it’s because they probably are. Jessica Andersson participated in Eurovision 2003 as one half of Fame, and Eric Saade received 3rd place representing Sweden in 2011. Linus Svenning participated in Melodifestivalen last year with the song “Bröder”, and Magnus Carlsson is probably best known in the ESC world as “that one guy from Alcazar.” There’s also Dinah Nah, a former member of Caramell (and their hit Caramelldansen) and Jon Henrik Fjällgren, who won Sweden’s Got Talent 2014.

According to the bookies, the entry most likely to win is “Heroes.” It’s definitely on my radar, though a small part of the lazy blogger in me wants someone else to win because it’s annoying having to type the letter å. (Still, it’s going to be funny when people mispronounce his name because they only check his Twitter or Instagram, which doesn’t have the diacritical marks for convenience.) I’m not going to rule out “Jag är Fri”, “Möt Mig i Gamla Stan,” or “Don’t Stop Believing” either, since they stand out the most as a Lion King-esque joik complete with spirits and aurora, classic Swedish schlager, or a dark ballad with ghostlike wind machine effects. As for “Sting,” it will probably do well (probably top 4) but I really don’t want it to win.

Out of the entries that I like but probably won’t win, the one that stands out the most is “Forever Starts Today.” It’s probably because I love belting out the refrain really loudly while walking to class.

Since I’m just an American who has zero control of who the public or jury votes for, I’ll just wait for the results once the contest ends. But it’ll be fun watching the competition tomorrow at…15:00 Eastern Daylight Time?

2015 Review: Estonia

Now that Daylight Savings Time kicked in, I’m probably going to follow Stig Rästa’s line “I woke up at 6 AM” since the sun will be out then. But unlike Stig, I’m not going to sneak out of the house/room since I’m the only resident and I don’t have anyone to wake up. Also, because of Daylight Savings Time, my internal clock still hasn’t adjusted to the actual clock and I’m still sleepy 9 AM.

Anyways, Stig Rästa and Elina Born won Eesti Laul with the song “Goodbye to Yesterday” with 79% of the vote. It was pretty much a runaway win after the songs appeared, and it created as much buzz with the bookies as it did in the blogosphere.

Compared to some of the other breakup songs in Eesti Laul (I’m looking at you, Elisa Kolk), it’s a more realistic story rather than just someone dropping the bomb and feeling that it’s the end of the world: one person in the relationship gets cold feet and doesn’t know what’s next, so he runs away to the disappointment of the other person after waking up in an empty room. I personally haven’t experienced this, but I can feel the confusion that the two sing about. At the same time, the song’s casual enough to sing for fun. I’m still having a bit of trouble singing Stig’s part because it’s a bit low for my voice, but I really like switching between the two characters.

On a completely separate note, Stig reminds me a bit of a cross between John Cameron Mitchell (of Hedwig) and Waylon (from the Common Linnets last year)