Tuesday, May 20, 2008

...to win a destination in the center of my heart

Few of my favorite entries (without thinking about how they'll come off when performed or how well they'll do) in this year's contest are in the first semifinal, but a few are, so let's go through those. It's worth mentioning, though, that the performances tend to only make me think better of songs, though usually not drastically--songs I found forgettable and dull before become more recognizable to me.

Rebeka Dremelj, "Vrag Naz Vzame" (Slovenia)
I've had so many ups and downs with this song--the various reworkings of it, the revealing of the English version (which thankfully isn't the main version)--but I think at the end, I still really do enjoy it, even if I kind of have no idea what to actually expect it to sound like on the night (I'm basing my final opinion off the version on the Eurovision CD). And yes, I do have generally positive feelings towards Rebeka since I love the campy "Pojdi z menoj" and the campy-at-the-beach "To je prava noč," but I'd still like this Mediterranean-flavored uptempo Europop/dance song even on its own. Apparently rehearsals have revealed her performance to be an S&M-themed car crash, which will probably only make me love her more. This isn't an ultimate favorite of mine, but there's something about the way it sparkles that brings a sense of fun (even if it is about a woman declaring her independence) many of the entries in this semifinal lack.

Gisela, "Casanova" (Andorra)
...from one uptempo Europop song which has apparently had bad rehearsals to another. It's tempting for me to play off my enjoyment of this as just a "well, it's got a danceable Euro beat beneath it--of course I was going to like it!" sort of thing, but that wouldn't be giving the song proper credit; there's something about the cheesy happy "Casanova" that I find genuinely charming (and, since I started comparing them, I might as well say that I like it more than "Vrag Naz Vzame" as well).

Laka, "Pokusaj" (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
I'm not sure this technically belongs on the "love" list yet, but it's so close to the border of "like/love" that I had to mention it, especially because with the right performance I can see myself falling for it even more. One of the more unusual songs in this year's contest (even beyond the singer's unique voice), "Pokusaj" is...well, I'm not even really sure how to describe it. Part of me wants to compare it to the music for my much-beloved Spring Awakening, which isn't to say this sounds like typical musical fare--Spring Awakening's score was composed by Duncan Sheik and is more bold lush pop-rock than anything else. That's not a totally apt comparison, but maybe it'll begin to get across the way "Pokusaj" has a pop awareness of melody but also isn't afraid to switch between group chants, a minimal and more playful verse, a rushing piano section, and--well, really, you'll probably have to listen for yourself to get any idea of what it actually sounds like. It won't be for everyone, that's for sure, but I can see myself being madly in love with it by the time the contest ends.

Kalomira, "Secret Combination" (Greece)
The chorus of this Greek pop-and-R&B song has grown on me to an almost ridiculous extent since Greece's national final, and it's often the Eurovision-related music that gets stuck in my head. Unfortunately, it's let down by a verse that's completely forgettable and really serves no purpose but to provide some filler until we can get back to the chorus (which I realize many would say is true of many Eurovision songs). Can we, I don't know, steal Armenia's verse or something (for the record, Armenia [Sirusho with "Qele, Qele"] is a fan favorite that's nowhere near a favorite of mine--it's listenable, don't get me wrong, and better than many other songs in this semfinal, but as of right now it just lacks that spark for me and the chorus doesn't hit as it should; I'm not against it qualifying to the final, but I would be against it winning...a good performance might up my opinion of it a lot, but I think I'd still be disappointed if [speaking in purely hypothetical terms] it placed really really highly in the end)?

A few notes on other songs: I keep going back and forth on Dima Bilan's song ("Believe" for Russia)...it's better than many others in this semfinal, but I just can't make up my mind about how much I actually like it. One moment I think it's fine, pretty good, the next I think I could love it, and then the next I think it's nothing special and am upset about a bunch of things related to it.

As a general rule, time has tended to diminish my ire for songs I really couldn't stand before. Except Belgium. That, though, is a song you won't soon be forgetting, so I'm not expecting it to get lost in the mix. Oh, and Estonia. I still don't like Ireland (and the musical sections of it that before I thought were actually tolerable seem to have been changed on the CD--am I imagining that?), but I'm more complacent about its existence now.m

Maybe worth mentioning as me having positive feelings towards them even if not loving them are Norway (Maria Haukaas Storeng with the '60's-sounding "Hold On Be Strong") and the Netherlands (Hind with "Your Heart Belongs To Me"). I just can't get enthusiastic about either, though; neither leaves me thrilled. I really like Maria generally and I get that "Hold On Be Strong" is classy, but I've been wondering: if it wasn't in English, would I really make it fully through the song? Maybe that's being too harsh; at the least, it sounds like the fairly simple presentation will be professional, which is a good word to describe "Hold On Be Strong" as well. There are parts of Poland's entry that I like, but it doesn't add up to anything for me; I guess the same could be said of Finland's entry to an even lesser extent--some nice guitar riffs and "hoo-hah"s, but the vocal melody on top of all that doesn't work for me.

All in all, my proper favorites are in Semi 2, but I'm still looking forward to tonight--see you all in a bit!


D said...

WOW!! Azerbaijan got my vote!! :D

jonathan13 said...

Unfortunatly we (France) don't have any chance to win as usual...Our song suck.
My fav is Secret Combination but i don't like it as much as i liked "Hard Rock Hallelujah" by Lordi 2 years ago :)

Anyway, thanks for ur post Poster Girl !

P.S : Here's the brand new Crazy Loop video "Shut up ! Joanna" which has just been released on yesterday (and a 154552000 thanks for making me discover it again !!)

Poster Girl said...

They had a really dramatic performance, didn't they? I don't think they would have got my hypothetical vote (the chorus is a little too impenetrable for me), but I don't mind having them in the semfinals at all.

Awww, poor France--ha ha! If it makes you feel any better, a lot of people do like it. Thanks so much for the heads-up about the video--I had no idea it was coming out, or that the next single was chosen! I'm watching it right now :)

kevin (ru) said...

From my cup of tea, Andorra was the only proper song tonight.

Poster Girl said...

I really do like Andorra's song--plus, much as I loved D'Nash and "I Love You Mi Vida," it really would have been nice for Gisela to have left as much of an impact on people as she did with her demo song presentation for the 2007 Spanish national final--that was a great package (well, with the question of singing ability up in the air, but it was great match choreography, styling, and song).