Friday, March 07, 2008

Baby, you're too good to be true

I've been kind of remiss in talking about some of the Eurovision and national final entries that I--well, not necessarily love, but want to say something about. Here, then, is a quick run down of some of my thoughts.

Let's start with this: I like Dima Bilan's music. I really do. However, the news we've heard recently out of Team Bilan seems too much like a team that thought they had the national selection sewn up trying to draw attention back to themselves. Sergey Lazarev's participation in the national final means that Dima is no longer one huge name amongst other less popular artists, and suddenly Dima's quest for the title of Russian representative seems a lot less sure...which makes me more than a little skeptical about the news story about Dima losing control of his name that we heard a little while ago (and which now appears to be having no ramifications whatsoever). Team Bilan then followed up that announcement with the news that (with the song they'd originally planned to enter not eligible--apparently it had been released by another artist years earlier) the song they were entering was Timbaland-produced, not an entirely surprising fact given that Dima had released the Timbaland-penned "Number One Fan" as a single earlier on (as well as the fact that as one of Russia's post successful popstars Dima and his management can easily buy a big name writer's song if they want to), but nevertheless a fact that would pretty obviously draw attention and press. Meanwhile, a clip of Sergey rehearsing, complete with a little bit of his song playing in the background, hit the Internet, shortly followed by the whole song. Dima's song was today put up on his website (admittedly in subpar audio quality).

All that background, though, may not be the most important thing--the real question is, which song is better? For me, it's easy: I definitely prefer Sergey's "Flyer (Under Fire)." Dima's song is a ballad with a typical Timbaland-type beat underneath it, a type of song I love when it's done well (Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right," Timbaland and OneRepublic's "Apologize"--though perhaps those aren't entirely accurate comparisons, since there's a little more acoustic guitar work going on here), but this just doesn't seem like a particular outstanding example of that type to me. For Timbaland knockoffs, I still much prefer the Czech Republic entry.

Sergey's entry, on the other hand, I loved from the first listen. Schlagerprick observed a little while back that it looks like we're headed for a Eurorave party at Eurovision, and "Flyer (Under Fire)" would fit right in with that environment; it's very danceable and I guess could be called "Europop." It's a song that sounds very much in the vein of Sergey's past work, though I'd say it's one of the best songs he's ever done. It'll lend itself to some group choreography wonderfully, though I'm not sure if has Eurovision winner written all over it (I'm having trouble explaining why--I think maybe just because it's not really really "big" in some way), but it's a great fun entry that I'd love to see do well on the night. I'm pretty sure it would be one of my favorite entries.

On the free and legal Eurovision mp3s front: I usually ignore all the mail I get from digital music stores I'm registered with, but amazingly you can get the non-Eurovision version of Kostas Martakis's national final entry"Always And Forever" here; you do have to be signed into their service, though, which means you'll have to register. It's been a while since I did, but there's definitely no monthly fee or anything, and I don't think you have to buy anything to create an account, just give them an e-mail address. Actually, let's just skip all that: if you're interested, here's the non-Eurovision version.

Always And Forever

Anyway, I might as well throw in my two cents on the Kostas song while I'm at it. The non-Eurovision version wasn't what I was expecting from the composer and I didn't really expect it to be something that would stand out at Eurovision, but something told me it could end up a personal national finals favorite with me, and I really think it will. The guitarry version isn't discotastic or schlagerrific or anything, but listening to it in high quality now (you can appreciate the backing vocals properly this way) has really made me realize how much I love it...which is a lot.

Kostas performed a remixed Eurovision version of the song (which, with its revving noises and dance influence, sounds more like I was expecting from Kontopolous) at Greece's national finals and took second (out of three), winning the jury vote but substantially losing the public vote.

Obviously it has no impact on the song's quality, but let's be honest, he looks pretty great here (plus, there's just something about a guy doing some group choreography that always gets me going). Let's talk about that dance break in the middle there, though--what was that? Kostas just stands there? Compare that with what we got at a similar point in, say, Charlotte Perrelli's "Hero"--right where the song should take off to whole new levels it feels like it's just gone all random and has taken a step back.

My music taste is really getting beyond predictable now, isn't it? Does it make it any better if I say No Angels's "Disappear" was my favorite song in Germany? Actually...


Germany just chose No Angels' "Disappear" to represent them this year and, though I'm skeptical as to how well the song will translate to the Eurovision stage, I adore "Disappear." A gorgeous mid-tempo ballad that's full of sweet production touches, it brings out a reaction in me similar to the one I imagine Girls Aloud's "Call The Shots" was supposed to. I'm so pleased for them, and I really hope I'm proven wrong about how well it ends up coming across at Eurovision.

As a song, I also liked the Cinema Bizarre entry, the electro-rock-pop "Forever Or Never" (it was good enough that I was able to put aside their probable origins and styling), but the lead singer proved last night (not embedded above) that he needs major frontman lessons--all he did was stand there! The fact that their performance managed to seem in any way dynamic is a credit pretty much solely to the camera work, which focused mainly on kind of jolting short shots of the band and close-ups of the singer. The chorus didn't translate well at all to the stage last night either.


I love this. Yes, more predictable responses from me, but I think this is great if predictable cheesy catchy uptempo "traditional" Europop.

That's probably more than enough Eurovision writing for now--I'm sure tomorrow I'll be writing about Melodifestivalen, but I'll try to do something non-Eurovision related the day after that. Maybe. Or maybe I'll end up weighing in on a few more entries tomorrow in the lead-up to Melodifestivalen.


D'luv said...

Babe, my money's on Dustin The Turkey.

Jaker said...

D'Luv, you bite your tongue!


Poster Girl, great entry here. You can join the club of people who're thrilled to see No Angels depart for Belgrade even though they're going to lose.

And I'm totally with you on Sergey's song being better than Dima's.

Len said...

On the National Finals front PPG, don't know if you remember a while back when you posted about Italian pop and I mentioned you should check out my myspace buddy Michele Imberti, a young Italian pop singer living in Stockholm? It turns out that he's one of the finalists for the first ESC entry from San Marino. His submission is a nice Italian pop love song that you can check out on his myspace page.

Also don't know if you noticed that the big French name that signed on to be their entry is Sebastien Tellier, known for his work with Daft Punk and Air. His song is a gentle Air-style electropop.

kevin (ru) said...

From what I've heard, Sergey's song is written by some Swedes.

Anonymous said...

Btw, No Angels song and Cinema's Bizarre is by the same songwriters.


And now there are discussions if the No Angels song might be a copy of this one here:


Poster Girl said...

Oh no, D'luv--don't tell me it's '90's dance sound was enough to win you over? I'll admit, that was clever of them, but like I said earlier, I literally can't STAND the turkey's voice. Yuck. Charlotte needs to go all the way to Belgrade (or wherever it ends up happening) and completely destroy Dustin, please.

Yeah, those are my thoughts exactly on No Angels :) I'll gladly join that club! And I'm glad someone else likes Sergey's entry too.

You're kidding, Len! I didn't even realize the potential San Marinese (I don't know if that's the right adjective...) songs were out yet! I'll go look it up right away--that's FANTASTIC for him! I did notice the Sebastian thing and nearly wrote about it in this entry because it's so interesting but then decided it was probably worth its own post or something, plus I wanted to give the song a few more listens. I'm so glad France is doing something like this, though.

Kevin, I just read that today, after reading your comment! You're right--Lina and Mårten Eriksson and Rob 'n' Raz, apparently. I should have mentioned here, though, that I'd love there to be some great entries from the other acts, even though I get the impression (and please correct me if I'm wrong!) that names along mean that there's a very strong chance it'll be Dima or Sergey who ends up winning.

Oh really? Hah, that does make me feel like it makes more sense that I liked both! Thanks for that link--it's so odd, I think I'd even heard that song before, and just completely forgotten about it. I wonder if this'll end up like seemingly all the other plagiarism accusations we've had? It's especially odd, though--I mean, if you were intentionally plagiarizing a song, it seems like it would be really silly to choose a song released in Germany about the same time, which makes me think the similarities are accidental...but I have no idea. It always seems to me like it'd be silly to enter a plagiarized song in an international competition--surely people will notice! wouldn't everyone realize that?--and then you still get bizarre stories about x contestant in the some Junior ESC national final performing some failed ESC national final song from another country or something.

Keira said...

Thanks for posting the link to Dima's song. Was very excited when I heard he was trying out for esc again. Then when I heard Sergey's song, I was sure he would get it. I love Sergey and think he would do really well, and the exposure esc would give him would be fantastic. However, now I've heard dima's song, I'm torn! It's not an outstanding song, but there's something about his voice. Basically, I think I'll be disappointed either way. We'll know soon enough.

Poster Girl said...

No problem! I know...I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing (something to be happy about either way or something to be disappointed about either way)!

Rick said...

I still love Dima over Sergey. =)

Laurence P. said...

Sergey Lazarev is one of the best Russian pop stars out there today. Although most of his music is sung in English, he has not yet toured in New York for his Russian-American fans. There is no doubt Lazarev will do well at the Eurovision Song Contest as this year’s 1st place winner, Dima Bilan did. All these artists are bi-lingual singers trying to reach all fans around the globe. Another Russian pop idol that became famous through a similar organized TV talent show is coming to Rasputin Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY. It will be a VIP Dinner Event September 18th. Even though the singer only performs in Russian, he is drawing a huge following.