2018 Review: Norway

Okay.

We all saw his comeback announcement.

We all heard his song and how…wildly different it is to his previous ESC entry.

We all were part of the post-MGP dumpster fire that argued that the “wrong Alex won” and/or the “wrong former ESC entrant won” (to be honest my favorites were Stella + Alexandra, followed closely by Aleksander Walmann).

Yep.

Alexander Rybak is back to Eurovision 9 years after his Fairytale victory with “That’s How You Write A Song.”

Let’s just get the complaining over with: Fairytale is one of my 2 favorite entries of all time and I don’t think anything’s going to top it after putting in so much emotional effort to tell my story re: refrigerators and current partner. And then there was Norway’s entry last year, which I also ended up putting in my top 3 because it got me through pharmacy school interviews. If Grab the Moment represented me getting accepted to pharm school, That’s How You Write A Song represented me getting a 65% because I couldn’t write the proper lab procedure on how to compound capsules. In short, I already knew I’d be disappointed, and to make things worse I was connecting the entry to a bad experience.

Otherwise, this was my reaction for a while.

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And the reaction for Norway’s entry came from a Norwegian TV show too…

Judging by Alexander’s Instagram loaded with #SmallPleasures and #MyTrueTalent tags, I’m guessing he was at least partially inspired by those hashtags or whatever was behind them. But at the same time, he does make a point: Yes it is possible to write a song about *anything*. So many songs this year are about love and relationships, current events around the world, or taking a stand for/against something. What about choosing a different topic? As long as you mull over the topic long enough for words to build up and you put the words down on paper, anything could happen. That’s probably how songs about a dog dying of obesity, being broke, a dish of pickled vegetables, or metro safety show up. And in Alexander’s case, it means writing about his love for FIFA, stalkers, getting a bunch of fan mail, or speaking with an accent. As long as you choose a topic you know about, (even if it is something ridiculous like despising chocolate chip cookies or scaling fish), it’s a possibility. Yes there are additional techniques of layering music, choosing a rhythm and rhyme pattern, syllable count, making an Ohrwurm etc, but there is no limit to the song topic.

Granted following the instructions in THYWAS word for word isn’t going to get me a 70, much less a 100 on writing lab procedures, but that’s only one part of the song. (And thank goodness lab instructions only took up 1/3 of my practical grade). Maybe the lyrics won’t show up in AP English required readings (but then again, neither will Fairytale), maybe the music isn’t what I’d listen to every day, but if you’re able to perform the hell out of your song and have the audience believe in it, the song will go somewhere. It’s also really catchy, so it’ll stay for at least 30 minutes after one listen.

So while this song’s not in my top 10, it’s definitely refreshing. And Rybak is Ry…back.

 

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2018 Review: Croatia

HRT (Croatian TV, not the hormone replacement therapy type) managed to block all leaks, releasing Franka’s “Crazy” at the expected time.

I thought the song would something a bit more uptempo judging by the name, so “Crazy” was a bit slower than expected. However, given that Franka is singing about a lover, I should have been able to recall a bit from my personal experiences, that my pulse slows down when I’m around my partner instead of speeding up. It’s also a waltz, and I appreciate that the song’s not in 4/4. Otherwise, the song and music video reminded me of a few things:

  • The four beats in which she sings “Lo-o-o-ove” or when the instrumental pounds the four notes remind me of Ireland’s 2005 entry. Given that link and how the song plods, I’m not exactly confident about the song qualifying, even though it is a cohesive and well-produced track.
  • The dancers’ characters are either zombies, or they have REALLY BAD PSORIASIS. And in that case, I don’t know if I can imagine how itchy their skin would have to be. If anyone came into the pharmacy while I was on rotation, I would definitely want to recommend them their provider.
  • For some reason, this reminds me a bit of a less creepy version of Serhat’s original “I Didn’t Know.” No monocle attached to weird headpiece at least…

2018 Review: Bulgaria

As of so far, Bulgaria’s scores are like my exam scores: either they’re really good, or they’re absolute shite: either they place top 10 5 in the final or they don’t qualify from the semi at all. This year they’re trying to keep their reputation up with “Bones” by the supergroup common framework project Equinox.

Okay, so the song is describing that love has to be something much more than just the physical aspect, and my panro asexual self is currently trying to hold back from screaming “no shite!!!” about the situation. Yes there can be a physical aspect, but like the artists sing that they “love beyond the bones,” there is so much more to a relationship, and it can’t be contained in just one label.

The artists also mentioned that there’s an equality aspect to the song, so I guess the “love” described in the song can be expanded to more than just the romantic variant, including the general “love your neighbor” type as well, no matter race/religion/ethnic background/gender/sexual orientation/etc, or if they’ve had a bad past (e.g. Equinox member Zhana Bergendorff’s past struggle with addiction).

Also, because it is of “bones,” here is a picture of LITERALLY loving beyond the bones

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I like the song for the mysterious instrumental and the harmonies between the artists, and because two of the artists are from the United States- Trey Campbell from LA, California and Johnny Manuel from Flint, Michigan, “Bones” is my theoretical neighbor vote entry if I could actually vote from the US. I don’t have a flag though; probs need to at least color one for the performance.

2018 Review: Belgium

So we’d known for a really long time that Sennek (aka Laura Groeseneken) would represent Belgium, and it took until March for the song “A Matter of Time” to be leaked released.

I’d originally heard the song right as it was leaked, when everyone was saying that the song sounded like a Bond theme. Given the music video, the aesthetic probably works for parts of a 007 movie as well. At the same time, I’m thinking The Little Prince when he’s on the geographer’s planet asking what the word “ephemeral” means. It means “which is in danger of speedy disappearance,” explains the geographer, and the little prince’s flower is but a mere example of things the term can describe. And as Sennek describes in her song, love is also an example. Something that should never be taken as a constant because no matter what there is an end where it “echoes, echoes, and goes,” never to come back.

And because of the limited time, these ephemeral things need to be appreciated more, not taken for granted or over a long period of time, but day by day, minute by minute.

Also, it’s only a matter of time that I have to buy more wine. I always think that it’s going to last for so much longer than it actually does, because I don’t really drink and only use it for cooking, but here we are and I need to get more…

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2018 Review: Belarus

Back when I ran one of the Eurovision confession sites, someone submitted this post:

I’m guessing the person expected Nikita Alekseev (professionally referred to by his surname only) to represent Ukraine sometime, but he didn’t appear interested at the time. So when he announced his intent to do ESC this year, no one was really *that* surprised when he withdrew from Vidbir’s cutthroat selection and showed up in Belarus. After a stint of drama where most of the Belarusian national finalists complained about the original Russian version Alekseev’s entry that was allegedly released prior to September 2017 (it wasn’t), one artist dropping out, and Alekseev’s team settling to sing the song in a higher key, he…still ended up winning Eurofest (from slot 2!) and we’ll be seeing him in Lisbon with the song “Forever.”

I’m glad that the EBU decided that he could sing his song in a regular key instead of the raised key version at Eurofest (watch at your own risk). I’m guessing that the BTRC studio may have played a part with terrible acoustics but that performance reminded me so much of a bad karaoke experience when the person running the event cranked my backing track up 4-5 notes because I “apparently selected the “male” backing instrumental by mistake” (I did that on purpose because I can’t sing that high). Anyways I pulled it off but that was not the most comfortable belt. And this time no one’s going to crank the key up by surprise, now that BTRC sent the original English version.

Or did they? Per Twitter he’s sending *this* version, where the first refrain is whispered for more buildup to the rest of the song. I’m not even sure what’s going on anymore because the Pharm is taking over my life right now.

Anyways, I think it was intended to be a love song, but it sounds borderline obsessive and/or one-sided.

No need to worry, rain falling down
It’s our happiest story and there’s no one around
We will go for it and I know you’ll be mine forever

Okay sure, you are clearly interested in the other person, and the other person may have changed you for the better, but we have no clue whether the other person is interested. It reminds me a bit of Snape’s back story in the Harry Potter series, that he’s so certain of what the future holds that he doesn’t care what he’s doing and that he’s going to stay in his little stage world for the entire time. What if the other party already left the stage?

Anyways, I’m pretty sure there won’t be much more fiasco until the night of the semifinals and the hosts announce the results. Maybe Alekseev will bring his LED suit from Eurofest, or maybe BTRC will stage something else. Whatever happens, all we know is that Belarus is interested in winning, and they’ll do anything (including import an artist, give him presidential approval, and throw in elaborate staging).

2018 Review: Azerbaijan

2016 was won by a jazz singer. 2017 was won by a jazz singer. Azerbaijan last year sent a jazz singer and placed 14th. Czech Republic sent a jazz singer and placed second last in the semi. So when ÍTV announced that Azerbaijan was sending AISEL, another jazz singer, we really had no clue what was going to happen. That is, until her song “X My Heart” was revealed to be composed by half the Dream Team and Sandra Bjurman. Okay then, it’s a standard pop song co-written by the best of both worlds in the voting blocs.

And yes, it’s “cross my heart” like PED XING signs, not “nix my heart.” Congratulations Lighthouse X, you’re not the only entrants to confuse people with how to pronounce the X.

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It’s not a bad listen at all, but this is one of those times that I wish I couldn’t understand English so AISEL would just be singing a bunch of random syllables similarly to Sanomi. Unlike some countries that may or may not get inspiration from someone’s TOEFL vocab list, this song seems to go with whatever comes to mind. Okay, so tearing down firewalls and letting the person? But she’s stronger than cannonballs? And Luna should moon her up to the top? Is she an alien or one of the weird alien ships in Meet Dave, and is Luna the program system in the ship?

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Given that AISEL has been presented in caps, you never know what it could stand for…

All I know is I should probably stop overthinking this, enjoy the tune when it’s on my shower playlist (so I can’t turn it off), and wait for someone to do a dramatic reading of the lyrics….

 

2018 Review: Austria

So Austria’s had a bit of fun moving up and down the scoreboard in the past few years. 2014: win. 2015: nil pointe. 2016-2017: hanging around the right side. So what does a delegation do after realizing that there’s a local artist who sang backings for a country that placed 8x better than their own?

Simple: Ask that local artist to sing for their own country. And that’s what ORF did with Cesár Sampson: after singing backings for Bulgaria in the past two years to help obtain two top 5 placings, he was internally selected to sing for Austria this year with the song “Nobody but You”.

I’m having a lot of fun listening to the song and attempting to sing along with (minus the belting part, especially when I try to walk up a hill to school). At initial listen it sounds a bit like an uptempo revamp/remix of Australia’s entry last year, replaced with a more experienced artist and with less space to improv. Lyrically speaking, he’s a lot more involved in the described relationship as well. Instead of Isaiah’s “sorry it looks like we’re not moving forward; I’m still dealing with a lot of prior emotional baggage that makes it difficult for me unless I know I can trust you 200%,”, Cesár’s monologue sounds a bit more like “Look, I’ve been trying to not think about you, but that’s like trying to tell me to ignore the rice that’s taking up 50% of my plate, so I’m wondering if you’re thinking the same thing, (and please tell me yes because we’ve been together for X amount of time).”

Derp. And given all of this I can see for the nth time, why I’d rather send my partner YouTube links to a song instead of telling them straight.

Anyways, lyrics aside, what’s up with the last two years of Austrian ESC music videos being filmed in snowy forested areas? I’m pretty sure they could come here and film one too:

 

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On my way to the doctors office…