Be warned: the opinions contained within may be dangerous and/or silly. Proceed with caution.
NORWAY: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett, “A Monster Like Me”
Fun fact: the original singer for this entry? Sully from Monsters, Inc. True story.
Well, it’s dramatic, it has Gothic touches, it’s driven by a piano aaaand it’s a ballad. Go figure. Is it any better or worse than the others we’ve had so far this year? Honestly, I don’t remember the others enough to really say. I like what they’re dressed in, at least. Aren’t they dressed all classy?
IRELAND: Molly Sterling, “Playing with Numbers”
Let’s hope Ms Sterling is the only one playing with numbers this year, amirite? Amirite, though? Seriously, though, if there is something dodgy going into the votes of this thing, what does it matter? It’s a pop contest. Let it go, people.
Well, it’s a piano ballad but it hasn’t got any Gothic leanings so that’s… something, I guess. There’s also something quite distinctive about Sterling’s voice that I can’t quite put my finger on. And it’s in 3/4, which… it’s like a waltz, isn’t it? That’s neat. Or is it 6/8? We may never know. So, how’s your day going?
CZECH REPUBLIC: Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta, “Hope Never Dies”
…Until it’s the end of the night, there’s five countries yet to reveal their votes and you’re placed at #28 in the overall tally, at which point it might be best to just put hope out of its misery.
Okay, were they actively trying to write a song that could’ve fitted in on the Hunchback of Notre Dame soundtrack? Like, you could call this “Hope Never Dies (Quasimodo’s Theme)” and I’d buy it. Well, I wouldn’t actually buy it, but I’d get it, y’know? I like the key change, at least, and there’s something Daughtry-esque about Bárta’s voice. So really it’s everything you’ve been asking for all these years.
LITHUANIA: Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila, “This Time”
INXS also had a song called “This Time.” It’s not great but it’s okay. That’s, uh, that’s all I could come up with here.
“This Time” doesn’t know if it wants to be a charming roots rocker or a club anthem, but at least it’s not a freaking ballad. It’s not very good but, you know what, I’ll take it. It’s limber, it’s upbeat, it’s… not much else, honestly, but I’ve sat through so many turgid ballads this year that I really will take anything that so much as nicks the mould, let alone break it. Oh, and the two singers kiss in their performance. That’s, uh, something, I suppose.
SAN MARINO: Anita Simoncini and Michele Perniola, “Chain of Lights”
Chain of lights? You mean, like the lights of a UFO? It’s been confirmed, people! We’re headed for an alien invasion! We… okay, that’s not what’s happening, but imagine if it were. Wouldn’t that be exciting? Just imagine.
The electronic beat at the beginning threatens something genuinely interesting before the piano keys hammer down and we segue into, you guessed it, another dramatic, quasi-Gothic, piano-driven ballad. The staccato violins are nice and the singers seem genuinely invested in making this as dramatic as possible, while the electronic touches give it some flavour (though I swear I’ve said that about, like, five other entries at this point). Unfortunately there’s no clear hook and the melody isn’t strong enough to stand out against the accompaniment, so it all gets washed away in the atmosphere. How many more of these do I have to review?
MALTA: Amber, “Warrior”
Hang on, haven’t we already had a song called “Warrior”? Yeah, that Nina lass from Georgia had one as well. Are she and Amber in cahoots? Are they?! It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya!
If you haven’t listened to it yet, just guess, just go on and guess what it sounds like. That chorus certainly gets your attention with the cello scratch followed by Amber’s “break!” Unfortunately that one moment is one of the few times this song shows any genuine signs of life. For the most part it’s all one beige, stringy wash. Georgia’s “Warrior” song at least sounded like a call to arms. This is more like a call to remind you that your car is due an MOT.
PORTUGAL: Leonor Andrade, “Há um Mar que nos Separa” (English: “There’s a sea that separates us”)
Which sea are they referring to, I wonder? Well, going by my basic knowledge of geography there’s only one sea that separates Portugal from anything and it’s actually an ocean. Unless this is a metaphorical sea, which it probably is. Is it obvious how bored I am at this point?
It’s a dramatic, quasi-Gothic, piano-driven ballad, just like all the other dramatic, quasi-Gothic, piano-driven ballads I’ve looked at so far. I… I’m sorry, Portugal, but I have nothing left to say at this point. If this is a war of attrition to see how many beige ballads the few people paying attention to these things can take, then I’m losing.
MONTENEGRO: Knez, “Adio”
Okay, we’re at the end of this part now. We’ve sat through saccharine ballad after saccharine ballad waiting for something crazy and wild to come along and peak our interest. Redeem it for us, Knez. It’s all up to you now. Bring on the wackiness. Bring it…
Eh, forget it. I do appreciate the use of traditional instruments, even if my culturally-ignorant brain couldn’t name them to save my life, and this is the first Eurovision entry I’ve heard so far, I think, that sounds as if it was written in Europe, but that’s not enough to save what is ultimately just another ballad in a contest already plump to the gills with them. Soz, Knez.
P.S. If this set of reviews seems underwritten, I apologise, but this “part” in particular has been really tough to write about just based on how monochromatic the entries have been. Finding eight different and worthwhile ways to write “meh” is not an easy task. At least we survived it together, but even so there is an inherent problem to be addressed here: there are too many of these dramatic ballads and they all sound the same. The semi-final voters aren’t going to know which is which if all the entries sound alike, so as many ballads as there are I wouldn’t be surprised to see a whole load of them left out of the grand final on May 16th, just because nobody knew which one to vote for and so ended up voting for none of them. Of course I could be wrong and all the interesting, unique entries could be left out, resulting in one of the most tedious Eurovision shows in a long, long time. Fitting for its sixtieth year, I suppose.
Part 4 coming next Monday. The second Eurovision semi-final takes place Thursday 21st May, with the final airing Saturday 23rd May.