Let’s start over with the lyrics…

It’s usually a bad idea to directly translate the lyrics word for word if the song’s supposed to stay a song. The syllables won’t match up, the words that are supposed to rhyme won’t rhyme, and the lyric credit will go to the inventors of Google Translate. In order to avoid people who put in half-hearted effort that ends up in rhyming like a second grader writes poems, or people like the guy with major writer’s block which Elaiza describes, the only thing left to do is completely scrap the lyrics and write new ones.

Where all the bad lyrics went

Macedonia (FYR) is probably used to doing this. In the past 10 years, they’ve already had to change the song meanings at least twice:

In 2006, Elena Risteska entered her country’s national final with the song “Ninanajna”. In the original Macedonian version, she sang about why her character broke up with an ex-boyfriend. Apparently he had really good taste in music when the two first met, but then he ended up brainwashed by trashy turbo-folk to the point that he refused to let Elena’s character play the “good” music that he first introduced her to. This story didn’t make the cut, so the English version turned into her character willing to do anything on the dance floor to win a new SO. Maybe the English lyricist decided that two breakup songs in a row wasn’t the best idea, or maybe the Macedonian delegation decided that it was better for non-Balkan countries to understand the song. Either way, they presented a song with a title that Terry Wogan couldn’t pronounce and got the country its highest score ever so far.

Later in autumn 2014, Daniel Kajmakoski won Skopje Fest with “Lisja Esenski,” an upbeat song about falling in love and how the bright colours of autumn leaves symbolised the happiness from within the relationship. Despite winning the contest singing in Macedonian, Daniel mentioned that the song was originally written in English and only re-written in Macedonian to fulfill the national final’s rules. The leaves changing colour was originally meant to symbolize the end of the old relationship (to be able to start all over). And to show that it was going the complete opposite direction as the national final version, all the leaves flew upward too.

(Minor complaint: Though I completely understand that for some the “soul” of the song stays in the original language that it was composed in, I’m still disappointed about the tune. Thanks for the revamp…)

I wonder if any of the countries will have to change their song language this year. Someone’s probably going to (most likely Iceland at least because of their rules), and I hope that the post-translation version is still as coherent as the original version.


2015 Review: FYR Macedonia (pt.2)

I had to wait a while to write this because at the time, Macedonia (FYR) was at the top of my list. I loved listening to Daniel Kajmakoski’s voice and spent a lot of time listening to his X-Factor Adria performances, and after stumbling for hours over the lyrics I managed to sing along with the song. I swear I had minor blood pressure spikes from watching videos that constantly ranked Lisja Esenski in bottom 2, and celebrated when people started ranking other entries last.  So that was then…

…And then they changed the entry. Not only did MRT/MKRTV change the lyrics from Macedonian to English, the tune was changed from the original upbeat Skopje Fest version to a slower, sadder, Balkan ballad-esque, final version.

I wanted to explode at the time. I complained to my friends that the entry got ****ed up, that I didn’t care if Daniel advanced to the final anymore; the Macedonian delegation wouldn’t qualify and that would be their punishment for sending a screwed-over song.

This would be me but I already paid too much replacing the computer screen. And it would also mean not being able to watch YouTube videos anymore…

But then I listened to the new version and the old version next to each other over and over. The English version used autumn leaves to symbolize the end of a relationship, while the Macedonian version used them to symbolize falling in love:

Koga životot mi beše taka siv vo boja ti go napravi, sega lebdime sami kon ljubovta slobodni ko lisja esenski

“When my life was grey you added colour. Now we float, free to love like the autumn leaves.”

Since the Macedonian version was more upbeat due to the theme, the slowed down English version makes more sense. It would sound weird if a breakup song was happy. Besides, why else would the Balkan ballad-style violins show up? The English lyrics aren’t that bad either. Unlike some songs that seem to have been written via Google Translate, the lyrics are coherent and do tell a story. I still find myself getting chills from the song’s emotions and tune, so that’s a good thing.

Also, how does someone not enjoy the doodles?

So it’s probably not my number 1, but it climbed from emotionally-charged bottom 10 back to somewhere in my top 10 again. And I really hope Daniel makes the final. I do miss the awkward foot-slide-y dance from the Macedonian version, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep practicing.


2015 Review: (FYR) Macedonia

After only qualifying once in the past 7 years and realizing after 3 internal selections that choosing their country’s most famous pop stars doesn’t always mean getting into the final, MRT went back to selecting their Eurovision entrant through the national selection Skopje Fest. After a little bit of scandal (which has to occur every year otherwise tabloids will probably ignore the contest), the winner turned out to be Daniel Kajmakoski, the winner of the 1st season of X-Factor Adria.

I was pretty happy that I already knew who Daniel Kajmakoski was (or at least that he existed in ESC circles) before the national selection, since his X-Factor coach was none other than Balkan superstar Željko Joksimović, and the two posted a song on Youtube shortly after Kajmakoski’s victory:

Due to the collaboration between the two artists, and that the title Lisja Esenski (“Autumn Leaves”) reminded me of the mixtape in The Perks of Being a Wallflower containing a lot of ballads, my first assumption was that the winning song was going to be another Balkan ballad. However, after a few seconds that was not the case. Instead, the song sounded more like a Swedish ballad that one might hear at Melodifestivalen. (After looking up the composers, I also learned that Joacim Persson is Swedish, so…yeah…) Besides getting surprised by the song structure, the only other thing I noticed was his golden shoes (*cough*Diggiloo-Diggiley*cough*). That’s probably the last of the Swedish influence until the song possibly gets revamped before the song deadline.

I really enjoyed the song from my first listen, since the song reminded me of something warm and fuzzy even though I couldn’t understand any lyrics besides a few words picked up from other ex-Yugo entries. All I could guess was that it was some sort of a love song (which the translation showed it was)…no wonder it felt like he picked up a piece of his soul written in his own language and was handing it to the audience.

Now let’s see how he does it in Vienna. And $5 says he lives closer to the Wiener Stadthalle (5-10 minute walk from where he lives) than the Austrian entrant…


And our first song of the season is out!

While I was busy

a) typing lab reports (yay for procrastinating on organic chem lab!)
b) sleeping in (because I had been procrastinating on the lab reports and ended up finishing them at 3:00 AM)
c) stress cooking (due to the lab reports)

a lot of stuff happened in the Eurovision world:

RTBF internally selected Loic Nottet , a former contestant of the Voice Belgique to represent Belgium. I’m guessing that since Roberto Bellarosa (also a Voice Belgique contestant) got to the final in 2013, why fix something that’s not broken?

Anouk revealed that she co-wrote a song for Trijntje Oosterhuis, who will represent the Netherlands in May. And then AVROTROS confirmed this. (By the way: how do you pronounce her name?)

And Macedonia (FYR) held its national final Skopje Fest today (at least it’s still “today” in the USA as I’m writing this). A few former Macedonian ESC participants (Vlatko Ilievski, 2011, and Tamara Todevska, 2008) tried for a second time to be able to sing on the Eurovision stage, but eventually the prize went to Daniel Kajmakoski, who won the first season of X-Faktor Adria, with the song “Lisja Esenski” (“Autumn Leaves”). Though I haven’t closely listened to the song yet, I was a little excited because I knew who the singer was (mainly due to being spammed by Zeljko Joksimovic‘s YouTube page). Also, if you watch his Skopje Fest performance, it’s really hard to focus on anything besides his bright yellow shoes.

[5 minutes later: The song’s a ballad, but it doesn’t sound like a stereotypical Balkan ballad. Instead, it sounds a lot like a schlager ballad that you might hear at Melodifestivalen; something more like Linus Svenning’s “Bröder” or Sanna Nielsen’s “Undo”]

Great. Now I’ll have to get back to those lab reports. Thanks a lot, uni.