2017 Review: Greece

Greece didn’t qualify last year and broke their streak of 100% qualification when they placed second last in the semi. Needless to say, ERT wasn’t very happy to see that and needed something to bounce back to a respectable placing. A win would mean bankrupting the country (or at least the TV broadcaster), but somewhere in the top half would be great.

In that case, the best thing would be to call Ghostbusters the guy responsible for a bunch of Dream Team entries that’s in town and ask him to write a song for a big-name artist. And that’s what they did. After announcing that Demy would represent Greece, ERT announced that Dimitris Kontopoulos (co-composer of 6 Eurovision entries from 5 countries, all of which placed in the top 10) would compose the entry. Three songs were composed, a (somewhat questionable) national final was held, and Demy’s song turned out to be “This is Love.”

Okay so #ControversialEurovisionOpinion: Even though I wasn’t a major fan of “Utopian Land” at first, last year was better.

Even though Demy’s confirmed to be a good singer, even though we’re pretty much guaranteed to see a great stage show, especially if choreographer Fokas Evagelinos is involved, this seems like a rehash of Germany’s 2013 entry, except ERT changed up the artist, made the song three minutes to start with (so no weird fail edit), and avoided copyright/plagiarism issues. (ESC Pulse also mentioned that “This is Love” appeared to have the same structure of Russia’s entry last year…which was  *surprise* co-written by the same person.)

So yes, Greece is sending a plug and chug entry. It’ll qualify, and it’ll get a score more respectable than second last in the semi, and I might put it on my work playlist because it’s uptempo, but it’s not really going anywhere outside the contest.

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2016 Review: Greece

Looks like the first thing ERT did when get the EBU membership back from NERIT (the interim broadcaster while ERT temporarily shut down) was decide against the MADTV collaboration and internally select something ethnopop and relatable to the recent refugee crisis. The selection, which was allegedly singlehandedly made by the head of ERT, was the Pontic Greek group Argo (formerly known as Europond) with the song “Utopian Land.”

When I first watched the video in March, I thought someone had pulled a joke, uploading a parody of “I Wanna be the Guy” synced to some kind of Greek-sounding music, except the person doesn’t die, nothing falls on him, and there isn’t any change in the person’s running speed. So it’s pretty much just a fancy screen saver, where a male raps the Pontic Greek verse and a female sings the English refrain. Song-wise it’s a plodder like the (slowed down) running guy in the video, and it felt a bit disappointing at first compared to the last non-English entry from Greece. The rap part brings a bit of the energy back up, though it feels really paced, probably due to the running guy trying to maintain his breathing pattern and not overexert anything. Maybe it’s because later in May the artists will be performing Pontian dancing (which looks similar to other Balkan-region circle dancing) while singing, and someone may or may not pass out if they are spitting out all the fire and air used to move their feet.

These words are…so fancy…

Eurovision entries written in English aren’t the deepest pieces of literature in the world. That’s probably a reason why “It’s My Time” (UK 2009) was completed in 2 hours and “Not Alone” (Armenia 2014) in 12 minutes. Then again, the lyrics just have to be catchy and (in most cases) be somewhat coherent. All the composer(s) and lyricist(s) need to do is write a basic cliché love song and add a schlager-friendly tune. After they do that, they just have to dish the song onto a blue plate and add a few handfuls of grated cheese on top. Once they’re done, most of the (non-lactose intolerant) audience should buy it up.

Give me your love, give me all of your love, I’m the one for you…

But once in a while there’s a problem with the lyrics not matching up. There are 2 syllables missing here, 5 syllables there. That word doesn’t rhyme with the word it’s supposed to rhyme with. Then it’s time to pull out their handy thesaurus and try to shove in words that fit in the song. As a result, the 2005 Greek entry was born.

Capricious, addiction, conviction, crucifixion, vicious? Whose idea was it to reach for their high school kid’s SAT or TOEFL study guide and look up words that most people don’t use in everyday conversation unless they host spelling bees? Yes, I get that the words fit the song in syllable count, but did they really have to use them? Or was it just showing off to the rest of Europe that they know how expansive their vocabulary is?

I think I’ll have the chicken salad please…

So many Marias

Working at the bakery isn’t that bad. My coworkers are pretty chill, no one cares if I sing, we can talk about anything we want, and unless there’s a jerk trying to spoil the mood by asking for nonexistent blueberry bagels everyone tends to be in somewhat good spirits. Unfortunately, there’s one coworker that spoils the experience, and her name is Maria.

Whenever I see that our schedules overlap, I want to run away from work or at least just stay away from her. As the person who’s been at the bakery the longest (even longer than the manager), she constantly tells people off for doing things incorrectly and just grumbles about newbie employees who don’t know anything.

Despite my complaints about Maria I can understand where she’s coming from. She’s used to the bakery working like clockwork and is frustrated that newly-hired employees make things harder for her. She also knows exactly when our customers and work superiors want, and what to expect when they aren’t happy with our results. As a result she pushes us to follow the bakery’s expectations as quickly as possible, and she doesn’t get friendly until we reach that point.

Since I’m not at that point yet, all I can do is tread very lightly, make sure everything is right, get off work, and find a different Maria that won’t yell at me (i.e. one on YouTube in the ESC world). For example…

Malta 1971- Marija l-Maltija

A) The guy’s smiling. B) He’s also jamming to the song. It’s also so Ohrwurm-y that my family members who hate ESC are humming the song. I don’t speak Maltese so I don’t understand anything he sings, but I will sing along to the refrain and perform his awkward hand gestures as he goes “Marija, Marija, Mariiiii….”

Greece 2007- Yassou Maria

I’m going to have to call guilty pleasure on this one, because I wouldn’t want anyone to catch me singing this and posting it on the Internet. It’s really hard to not sing along though, since it’s super Ohrwurm-y. I try to keep the song in my head at work in order to not explode from stress, and it’s super ironic because the Maria in the song is completely different from the Maria at work.

Serbia 2007- Marija Šerifović

I think I’m going to do this song in the freezer one day, complete with the flute solo. This is one of those songs that I won’t care if it shows up on YouTube.

Norway 2008- Maria Haukaas Storeng

Confession: I haven’t listened to this for a while since it’s pretty much reminding single people to hold on and be strong. However, it’s always nice to get encouragements and a reminder the someone’s always there.

Ukraine 2014- Mariya Yaremchuk

Sometimes I think I would rather be the guy in the hamster wheel despite having really stupid blood that won’t carry oxygen. Or have to deal with obnoxious people at work. But realistically stupid blood means I’d pass out at work and end up on a hospital bed dealing with the even more stupid medical bills. Oh well… maybe I can sing the lyrics too (in the shower).

Iceland 2015- María Ólafs

Ummm…barefoot representation at the contest? Yes! The shoes definitely hurt after 7-8 hours in the bakery. (As much as I like going barefoot, it’s a really bad idea to walk into a freezer or oven without any shoes…). And everything is one step at a time: fighting off depression, getting used to work, finishing that case of potato chips…

And the winner is…Sweden!

I was going to post this yesterday, but congratulations to Sweden and Måns Zelmerlöw for winning the 60th Eurovision Song Contest with 365 points!

It’s also Sweden’s 6th win since ABBA in 1974.

Ranking:

1. Sweden- 365 points
2. Russia- 303 points
3. Italy- 292 points
4. Belgium- 217 points
5. Australia- 196 points
6. Latvia- 186 points
7. Estonia- 106 points
8. Norway- 102 points
9. Israel- 97 points
10. Serbia- 53 points
11. Georgia- 51 points
12. Azerbaijan- 49 points
13. Montenegro- 44 points
14. Slovenia- 39 points
15. Romania- 35 points
16. Armenia- 34 points (Tie Break)
17. Albania- 34 points
18. Lithuania- 30 points
19. Greece- 23 points (only 8 of which came from Cyprus)
20. Hungary- 19 points
21. Spain- 15 points
22. Cyprus- 11 points (And Greece only gave Cyprus 10 points. Death and taxes are still guaranteed, but Greece and Cyprus exchanging 12 points isn’t anymore.)

23. Poland- 10 points
24. United Kingdom- 5 points
25. France- 4 points
26. Germany- 0 points (There were points somewhere in the split voting but they disappeared)
27. Austria- 0 points

 

 

Thoughts on Semi-Final 1

Thanks to SVT App and something called headphones, I managed to catch the contest with the sound on this time!

I didn’t watch Denmark’s performance since I had to use the washroom, but the replay showed that it was exactly the same as in DMGP, so I didn’t really care. And I still don’t like the guy’s face.

Predicted qualifiers (in participation order):
Moldova, Armenia, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Estonia, Belarus, Russia, Albania, Georgia

Actual results (in participation order):
Armenia, Belgium, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Hungary, Russia, Albania, Romania, Georgia

Well 7 out of 10 isn’t that bad. Then again, it was such a crapshoot trying to predict the qualifiers that probably could have predicted the same amount by drawing random flags out of a hat, and I didn’t consider any visuals of the rehearsals. It’s also a good thing that 5 out of the 10 qualifying countries are more uptempo, so we don’t have to drown in a sea of “jury-friendly” ballads in the final.

Now let’s move on to the 2nd semi!

2015 Review: Greece

No matter what ERT/NERIT sends, there will be complainers. They’ll complain that they’re sick of laiko/laiko-pop/folk pop and want a different genre. They’ll complain that too many people sing in Google Translated, super-cliché English. They’ll complain that no one outside of Greece understands Greek. And they’ll complain if the song’s not laiko-centered.

So there was no surprise that members of the blogosphere started complaining about the Greek entry again. Unlike the past few years, Greece decided to send an English ballad with no signs of ethnopop, as NERIT sent Maria-Elena Kyriakou and her song “One Last Breath.”

At first listen, the song sounds very similar to Anna Vissi’s 2006 entry: it’s a female solo singing a post-breakup song that starts out soft but reaches a climax at the final refrain (which will most likely appear on the recap), except there are much breathier vocals.

Though there do seem to be a lot of ballads this year, the song is a break from all the ethnopop entries that seem to use big SAT words to match syllables. Even if it turns into one of those super cliché breakup songs, at least the song’s not puking a rhyming dictionary. And okay, I don’t think “One Last Breath” has the power as “Everything” did in 2006 due to the other entries in the final, but I think Maria-Elena Kyriakou should make the final and probably finish somewhere better than Greece’s result last year from jury votes.

And also, what’s the major problem with Greece’s entries? Sweden doesn’t have to always send schlagers and Greece doesn’t have to send laiko-based entries…