Review Part I: Ukraine & Cyprus

Today, the day has come where we start reviewing the first two songs! To mix things up a little (and because every sensible way of doing this would leave me with two songs I dislike to begin with) the way we do this is alphabetically by song title. Yes, this does not make any sense, but who cares about sense, right? Let’s go right into the action and start it up with The Ukraine and Cyprus!

Ukraine: Jamala – 1944

For once, Ukraine left the drama pretty much out, except for the question if 1944 is too political or not. One could argue it is hard to write a song with this title without being political, but surprisingly, there are no Germans in this! Jamala’s second – and first successful – attempt at representing Ukraine does rather focus on the soviets and Crimea. Can we hope Russia and Ukraine get paired to each other, even though there’s no “one step at a time, one day you’ll be mine” in Russia’s lyrics this time?

First thing I remark is Jamala’s voice, making it kind of hard to determine whether she is actually on key and she just sounds like that or if she’s about a quarter-note off key in the beginning (I actually think she is, because it sounds better after the first chorus). The sound gives me a vibe somewhere between Love Injected and Not Alone, plus some ethno, which is in fact a big compliment. But that radically changes at the chorus, so maybe it’s not such a compliment after all. At that point, the whole thing starts to change from a haunting dirge (in the original meaning) into a desperate wailing, which is definitely NOT my thing.

Her looks actually emphasize that feeling as well, which may be well intentioned given the background of the song – singing about your people dying probably shouldn’t be too cheerful – but let’s not forget that it’s still an entertainment show. Basically, this is Genealogy v2.0, just without the effective production gimmicks (world map, anyone?) and with a song that’s a lot harder to swallow. It’s unlikely this will grow much onto me, and I award it 4/10.

Cyprus: Minus One – Alter Ego

I will say it right away: This is one of my favourites, and I may not be entirely neutral about this. Cypriot rock band Minus One competed in the preselection last year with the song Shine, which did about as mediocre as it can be expected by a Eurovision song called Shine. Despite the bad result and my eventual like for John Karayannis, I did prefer their song at the time of last year’s selection, and now they came back with a song not written by them. Instead they called in one of THE songwriters of the Contest with G:son, so let’s see how that works.

Turns out it does work. As it can be expected with G:son being in control, this is really good sounding, even though the focus of the guitar to the right side and the resulting presence of the rather un-rockish keyboard in the chorus gets a little annoying. Not that you’ll hear on TV, though. Alter Ego is pop-compatible rock by the textbook, and to be honest it doesn’t do much to hide it. But then again, this may be what is needed to succeed.

Another thing that is notable is the complete absence of lyrics that make any sense. Confusingly, many lines do actually make sense by themselves, but put together with the rest, that whole thing seems utterly meaningless. Once again, this is something that usually shouldn’t do a song much harm – it’s not like there haven’t been successful songs with meaningless, incoherent lyrics – but Alter Ego is kind of pushing it in terms of lack of sense. As I love myself some rock music, even if it’s such a thinly disguised Swedish industry piece, I do really wish the Cypriots score some points in May. I rate this 8/10.

Alright, that’s it for today! Time to say “Good night Europe” (and “Good morning Australia”) and see you next time, when we answer the question if Blue and Red may be the Colour(s) of Your Life with Slovenia and Poland!

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Preview Questions

What the hell are preview thoughts, you may wonder? Well, as Eurovision comes closer and we (most likely) know all the songs now, I will start reviewing them maybe tomorrow, but surely after Easter. I will do – roughly – one song a day, and a complete review once we get some rehearsal footage or pictures in. But for now, I will take advantage of the many Top 42 videos available and write down a question per song (hopefully), similar to the 40 Things of Red Carpet thing I did in Vienna. The rules: It must be a question, and I am not allowed to actually think and reflect on it, which means they may be a little idiotic sometimes. The video I used does NOT reflect my actual thoughts on the songs, and is not my order. It’s just the first one that popped up in my YT search.

  • How can someone have Montenegro at #42? Like, dead last?
  • Is Georgia’s song finished?
  • Does Albania have a single Albanian word in its lyrics, and if no, why is the title Albanian?
  • As I am reading Game of Thrones at the moment, is that a direwolf in Ivan’s backdrop and does that mean that [deleted for spoiler alerts]?
  • Why exactly does XCOM operating in Israel involve filming music videos with one of their soldiers?
  • If you didn’t know you’re falling for someone, how can you be singing about it?
  • Is it me or does ManuElla look like Taylor Swift in disguise?
  • Are all mountains in Greece glowing from within?
  • What is this room QKaliopi is in, and why is there so much smoke in this building?
  • Why are you making a song, involving voice by definition, about a moment of silence?
  • Isn’t touching who I want to possibly getting me into trouble?
  • Shouldn’t falling stars be more likely to ignite a fire than to make one burn out?
  • Does “Sing it Away” actually mean anything, as an expression?
  • Am I the only one who thinks “Shakeshaft” is quite a funny last name?
  • Does Jala have Eurovision’s most epic beard ever?
  • Why can’t Rykka always look like in the video?
  • Why did Donny Montell take his date to a ghost town?
  • If this is fiction, why can I see it on live TV in May?
  • What are the weapons soldiers of love fight with?
  • Is Zoë’s time so scarce that she had to shoot a music video and a washing powder commercial at the same time?
  • If I already can’t go on, how am I supposed to slow down even more?
  • Can someone please release Norway’s captive?
  • What the hell is Frans not sorry for???
  • “Every part of me is a part of you” – is that schizophrenia or conjoined twins?
  • Why is there no hashtag in front of #LoveWave?
  • Well, what colour is your life, and does it need to be black or white? (if yes, black for me please!)
  • If your heart still beats, how can there be silence? (Also, see Romania)
  • Are ghosts actually haunted by other ghosts?
  • Who is calling Greta so badly that it makes her chest explode?
  • What in the world did convince Ira Losco that this is better than her first attempt?
  • Is the miracle needed to save Azerbaijan from another disappointing result and, in the long run, NQ? (Hint: Yes, and it’s called “the miracle of Maltese televoting”)
  • Is Jüri suggesting to play around to find out if he loves his partner, and if yes, does his partner approve?
  • Are Sanja’s dance moves supposed to look like that?
  • Where the hell are those red-and-blue 3D glasses still used?
  • How do you play electric guitars in a desert?
  • Is Nina’s Lighthouse called X?
  • What is supposed to be in my heartbeat?
  • Does 1944 actually have lyrics?
  • What is Freddie pioneering in? (It’s not music, I guess.)
  • Are those actual Olympians? BONUS QUESTION: Why is the song called “J’ai Cherché” and not “Je Chercherai”? Stick to your tenses, Amir!
  • Was “My love is rising” done on purpose? (I hope so, those jokes are less funny if not intended)
  • Is there a reason for me to say yay?

As you can see, not all songs left me with questions – sometimes it was a bit of a stretch – but if you have answers, let me know. And if you want, come back this weekend (or next week) to see the first review(s) of this year’s field!