Friday, May 11, 2007

Why should I fall into despair?

My first ever Eurovision! All right, my thoughts about yesterday's semifinal--these were written down as I watched and not retrospectively edited.

1.) Bulgaria--I like the dancey backing tracks...and drums are a good thing. I just don't think my Eurovision tastes have matured enough for me to appreciate "ethnic wailing" yet. Especially when it seems aimless.

2.) Israel--when did it change from oom-pah to half-hearted mock rock song? Well, right at the chorus clearly, but why? It seems too jokey for me to take seriously and the chorus isn't catchy enough for me to appreciate it as fun lightweight fluff. And now they're rapping.

3.) Cyprus--one of my favorites. Plus, her fiance (the guitar player and the song's composer) sort of reminds me of the Jared Leto it's OK to like (who styled him tonight, though? Bad choice). I wish she was doing more. Still, dance song masquerading as electro-rock--I approve! Very catchy and I love the strobelight effect in the breakdown, but there should be more movement to take advantage of it--maybe slow motion flailing or at least walking around. I'd really like it to make it to the finals, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

4.) Belarus--I've been thinking lately that I like this more because I think I should than because I do. No, I think I do like it--I want it to make it to the finals, but not win. Ooo, choreographed group dancing--the first case of the night! Extra points for that. I guess I could stand to see it win. Not my first choice, though. Umm...why is the backing vocalist so loud and shouty near the end?

5.) Iceland--I ignored this song for a while, then listened to it once and thought it was much better than I thought it was going to be. Sort of a rock power ballad, I guess, sung by a long-haired older man who's only about half a forehead prosethic away from being a Klingon. That chorus is actually decently catchy. The "rock n roll can heal your soul" line stands out more than it should, though. This song doesn't deserve as much praise as it got on that Nordic commentary show (he was one of the commenters), but it's not bad.

6.) Georgia--I think I remember reading Bjork comparisons for this, though I've never really listened to Bjork and so can't say. I'm so glad the choreography and costume has changed--we actually have dancers and a reasonable red dress instead of that giant thing (and the dancers are in some sort of samurai-influenced get-ups). Sword play! Those strings are quite lovely. I like this more than I thought I would.

7.) Montenegro--I've never heard this before. Rock. Blonde singer who's used a hair straightener. I'd probably never listen to it on its own, but I think I like it here for some reason, despite it not having a strong melody as I'd like.

[Partway through Montenegro's performance, I lost my Internet connection and had to call the Internet company to get our connection restored; I came back for the end of Edsilia's performance for the Netherlands, meaning I missed Switzerland and Moldova entirely. Thank goodness for YouTube, I suppose.]

11.) Albania--older guy singing a ballad with I guess some operatic influences. Not in English. I often have trouble judging English ballads, as they don't have catchiness to get them over the language hurdle and the lyrics are usually particularly important. Sudden switch to Englsh--not awful, but I'm nowhere near enthusiastic. Really, for some reason I just don't feel like I should say anything mean about it or him, but I won't remember the song tomorrow.

12.) Denmark--another one I liked ahead of time. In a just world, this should do much better than Verka, the contest's other drag queen. I guess it's sort of Las Vegas, right down to that headdress, but maybe schlager or schlager-influenced. Catchy upbeat pop accompanied by lots of pink.

13.) Croatia--I didn't listen to this song ahead of time. Given the opening, I'm not optimistic--loungey jazz-influenced stuff. It gets rockier as we go into the chorus. I do sometimes wonder if I'd be more lenient on songs if they were in English. And now it is in English, partly, but I'm not excited. From the tiny bit I know about Croatian music, I'm not surprised they sent something like this.

14.) Poland--urban-influenced guy-girl song. It's like a bunch of songs mashed together--the guy and the girl each need their own song and why did it go all jazzy there? If we split this apart, I might like some of the component songs...and they'd definitely be better than this?

15.) Serbia--a fan favorite that I've sort of held a grudge against, I think for the horrible reasons that it's a ballad and I fear it beating out some songs I really like. Seeing it performed, that's lessening--the singer looks sweet and earnest--but if it comes down to this versus Serebro, those feelings are going to start building up again. Watch me decide two weeks after the contest that I love it.

16.) Czech Republic--more guitars. All the more reason to hope Serebro win so we can have a bunch of knockoffs of that sort of song in 2008. Or D'Nash. Bring on the boy bands! This singer's voice is too growly for me--I just can't get past the fact that it scares me. I'm just waiting for flames to start shooting up and the lead singer to bite the head off a bat.

17.) Portugal--Latin-sounding danceable music sung by a woman who is accompanied by dancers with giant fans. The chorus doesn't pop enough--I didn't even notice we were entering it the first time. It still wouldn't be the greatest song, but this song might be a lot better with a different singer, one whose voice sounds stronger or louder.

18.) Macedonia--I didn't think I'd listened to this before, but those "Ni-na-ni-na"'s sound familiar. No--now that we're at the chorus, I think I have heard it before, but when and why? Female singer, decently catchy mid-tempo song with a rising sort of chorus--very pretty. She switches to English and is then singing about the uniting power of music.

19.) Norway--another female-sung Latin-influenced pop song and instantly I like it more than Portugal, which forgot to have any part that popped--this song doesn't have that problem. Costume change! And another! I pretty much ignored this entry before the contest, but I like it.

20.) Malta--another fan favorite in some parts. Opening shot: two shirtless guys, one playing violin and the other hitting a gong. This was another song I was thinking I liked more because I felt I should, but the show is allaying those fears. Wind machine, too! Swooshy and dramatic, sung by a woman. I hope she makes the finals. Aww!

21.) Andorra--before the contest, I thought this was a bad punk-pop song, then sort of liked it, then felt ambivalent and didn't think about it. It's all about "how we treat the world right now" and the title translates to "Let's Save The World." I like this! Especially the chorus. It would be better if Busted were singing it, though. I may be jumping around my room to this later.

22.) Hungary--I didn't listen to this ahead of time. I am not a blues fan generally, though--no, let's avoid tangents. A woman singing. 22 songs in, you need something more than a shouting ballad performance that wouldn't look out of place on American Idol to stand out to me.

23.) Estonia--I think the singer is the sister of a guy who was one-half of Estonia's last winning entry. Dramatic, I sort of like it--I'm surprised there wasn't more written about this ahead of time! I hadn't felt compelled to listen to it before the contest. Guy in suspenders with Patrick Swayze-esque hair dancing with her now. It's no "Runaway" with Sahlene, but not much is. If we need another James Bond theme after Koldun's, we could use this.

24.) Belgium--we're back in the '70's. Super-cheesy, but I can't help smiling. I may even love it, even if it's not going to rival any disco classics anytime soon. It's performed by a group, though there's a lead singer, and they're all wearing giant popstar sunglasses. Aww, they're so cute! Yup, I think I love them. They're just so happy!

25.) Slovenia--operatic chorus. I'm still thinking about Belgium's KMG's, who were just so fun and (I thought) charismatic, even if just because it seemed like they were having such fun. Interesting lighting, especially the light in or on her hand. I wish we could cut the operatic influences, though.

26.) Turkey--I feel like I've expressed my thoughts on this entry before. Who styled him?! He's wearing something like a cowboy shirt (including a little bow on the collar) and a long red jacket--trust me, it does not look good. I've held sort of a grudge against this song for a bad reason, too, in this case because more people seem to like this than Greece, and the two are always compared. Still, outside of that comparative context, it's not bad. The chorus could still be a lot better, but I think I like this. I'll probably really like it soon. Choreographed group dancing, too. Ooo--fire!

27.) Austria--I've not listened to this before, but I thought I might like it based on what I knew, and I do. Halfway blowout chorus that should be catchier but isn't bad. Forget the red ribbon behind him--I'm more distracted by the dancers' strange birdlike costumes. Probably not going anywhere, but I really like it and the performance was good. The song could have been better, though. Pyrotechnics!

28.) Latvia--I haven't listened to this yet as I've heard it's opera or popera and not very good. Top hats? Why?! The balance between voices and music doesn't sound right in the chorus, in regards to my preferences--like their mikes were off and they were trying to shout to be heard, with little concern for how their voices mix--not that that's happened, but that's what it reminded me of. I'm not sure why it's so hated, though; at least it has a tune. Of course, if it's starts to win, I'll probably end up practically hating it, too.

After all that, the list I made of my "real" favorites was as followed (in no particular order):

Switzerland (yes, I missed it, but the review clips made me think I would have really liked the performance, even if it's silly that the woman isn't credited)

My "half favorites" were:


In retrospect, that list should probably include Macedonia and, based on the review clip, Moldova and the Netherlands, though I still need to see those and Switzerland.

The countries that made it to the finals were:


I think that means I'm supporting the following songs in some form for the finals, though this could all change once I see the performances and hear some of the songs I haven't heard yet:

Serbia (but I could flip on that at a moment's notice...or start liking it more)
maybe France
maybe Moldova--I've got to look up the performance

The two songs I know I'll be cheering for most are Russia's and Spain's; I know I should probably like Russia's song more, but I know me, and I'll probably ultimately be holding out the most hope for Spain, futile as that might be (I'm expecting it to do horribly). Greece is probably next in my rankings, followed by Sweden and the UK on the next tier of support. I'd really love to see my top three do well and I'd like my tied-for-fourth's to do great, as well, but I am not optimistic at all. Well, maybe Russia can do well if they can sing--I've been avoiding reading about rehearsals. Hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised!

(Keep in mind that I still haven't seen Moldova, so that could end up as a favorite, too.)

Next up: possibly more Eurovision talk or the solo work of the writer of one of my favorite songs from this year.

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