Eurovision 2014: The Entrants (Part 2)

Here’s the second part of my idiotic run-through of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest hopefuls. Part 1 can be read here.

Be warned: the opinions contained within may be dangerous and/or silly. Proceed with caution.

BELGIUM: Axel Hirsoux, “Mother”

Motheeeeer, youuu haaad me… seriously, that’s all I could think of to precede this. Sorry about that.

Of course, the operatic entry. Well, operatic-ish. The guy’s got a killer voice and the song itself… you know, I actually don’t mind it at all. It’s passionate and emotional without being too bombastic or cheesy. Musically its surprisingly simple, but the way it just builds and builds towards that climax is pretty great. I like this. Didn’t think I would, but I did. S’all I’ve got to say on this one.

HUNGARY: András Kállay-Saunders, “Running”

The word “running” was also one half of the title of the 2011 winning entry, “Running Scared.” That’s not relevant in the slightest, but you’re still reading. You are still reading, right? Please do read.

Ooh, doom-y piano intro with lots of black and red. The pianist’s even got a teddy bear giving her the evil eye. Deceptively minimal instrumentation at the start forces the melody to carry the weight of the song (and it isn’t a particularly strong melody at that) for the first fifty seconds or so before those Red Bull synths kick in and everything sounds like it’s running (heh) a marathon. Do I like it? Not really: musically it’s pretty weak and, going by this performance alone, the singer doesn’t sound all that emotionally invested in his words (obviously that could very well change come May). Could it do well, though? Maybe. It definitely sounds like something you’d hear in the charts, which might earn it some interest on the night.

UPDATE: If my research is correct, this song actually has a very personal meaning attached to it, which makes my remark about him not being “emotionally invested in his words” come off as, er, somewhat tasteless. For that I sincerely apologise. This is why you always need to do the research, folks.

MOLDOVA: Cristina Scarlat, “Wild Soul”

The singer’s name is similar to Cristina Scabbia, lead vocalist for Lacuna Coil. Six points go to Moldova.

Another dramatic, quasi-Gothic, piano-driven ballad sung by a singer with a powerful voice. Honestly, I can’t really think of anything else to say about this one. The stuttering beats and dubstep elements might win it some love on the night, but otherwise “Wild Soul” leaves me pretty cold. I’m not even familiar enough with the musical culture of Moldova to know if it sounds “Moldovan” enough. Sorry, Cristina.

MONTENEGRO: Sergej Ćetković, “Moj svijet”

From what I gathered (through Google Translate) ‘moj svijet’ translates into the English ‘my world’. So, yeah. Also worth noting: while other entrants’ videos on the Eurovision channel have generally split their viewership, this video has an unprecedentedly high approval rating (at time of writing 9250 thumbs up to 788 thumbs down, which is about 92% positive). I’m approaching this with cautious optimism…

Okay, so it’s a soft folk song. I’m actually glad about that. As I mentioned in Part 1, I like hearing songs at Eurovision that have some European folk influence – it’s the reason I liked “Only Teardrops” so much last year. So do I like this song? Well, the flute’s nice. It sounds like something from a late-Nineties/early-Noughties Disney animated film, which some people might like. I’m not particularly taken myself, but the guy can sing and the song has a lot of passion. It could do well.

NETHERLANDS: The Common Linnets, “Calm After the Storm”

According to the internet, a linnet is a small member of the finch family common throughout a good part of Europe. Given that I was once pretty obsessed with birds, I probably should have known that.

Huh. Well, this is surprisingly good. It kinda sounds like a Fleetwood Mac deep cut from the Seventies, or some lo-fi folk/country duo you’d hear on 6Music. It’s got a neat, acoustic-driven beat and some lovely harmonised vocals. Not a lot happens, but given the genre I wouldn’t have expected a sweeping, Westlife-style chord change at the end. It’s good. It’s original. This one could do really well, actually – provided Pitchfork’s readership tune in to the semi-final.

PORTUGAL: Suzy, “Quero ser tua”

So what have Spain’s Siamese twin got in store for us this year? (I’m kidding, of course. Seriously, I’m just kidding. No, don’t cry. Oh, please don’t cry. No, I… can we get some Häagen-Dazs in here?)

So it’s another entry in the folk-flecked in-da-club music genre that’s been thrown our way for the past few years (or am I just making that up? I might be making it up). I can’t say I care for it. I don’t dislike it. I don’t really anything it – It’s not memorable enough to elicit any lasting reaction from me. So what reactions do I have? Well, those drums are pretty big and those backing singers are kinda pretty. Will that do? Sorry, Portugal, but I don’t see you winning this one this year.

SAN MARINO: Valentina Monetta, “Maybe (Forse)”

So the song’s called “Maybe” with the subtitle “Forse,” which loosely translates into the English word… “maybe”? So its called “Maybe (Maybe)”? Sure. Whatever (qualunque).

Yet another dramatic quasi-Gothic, piano-driven ballad? You know, I remember a time when Eurovision was about having fun. What happened to that Eurovision, huh? What happened? Okay, it’s a nice song on its own and it does pick up momentum towards the end, but it doesn’t really stand out, y’know? Again, I’m sorry, but there’s really not a lot to say about this one. The spoken word bit towards the end is pretty funny, though, even if I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intended to be.

UKRAINE: Maria Yaremchuk, “Tick-Tock”

…on the clock, but the party don’t stop? Yes, I’ve resorted to four-year-old pop culture references. You do better.

Woah. Well, this is a refreshing change of pace. Obvious MJ ripping-off and slightly dumb lyrics aside, I really like this. It’s got a strong chorus, exciting visuals, actual melodic hooks, crisp guitars, a brisk, syncopated beat and a whistle-riff I actually want to whistle (screw you, Flo-Rida). Is it amazing? Probably not, but it’s easily the best thing I’ve reviewed yet in this run-through: catchy, contemporary, fresh and fun. If this doesn’t do well on the night I will be shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you. And you know what? I think I even dig the MJ influence. Something about an attractive woman in a suit and hat… yowza.

Wait, does that mean I’m attracted to Michael Jackson?

Part 3 coming next Monday. The first Eurovision semi-final takes place Tuesday 6th May, with the final airing Saturday 10th May.

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