Two days after we took care of Germany and Moldova, we have another combination of east and west for you today, as well as a combination of winner and non-winner (two times winner again even, if you include Yugoslavia!). And for the second time in this series, there is a returning artist with Greta Salome – this time without Jonsi – for Iceland. Let’s hear what the two have to offer in 2016!
Serbia: ZAA Sanja Vucic – Goodbye (Shelter)
Serbia has very quickly become a “traditional” Eurovision nation after the eastwards expansion, even though one could argue they always were through Yugoslavia. They had a tendency to keep to a certain sound or feeling that always seemed present to me in Serbian entries, which is definitely a good thing. This year’s Sanja Vucic did keep that, using the strings and quite a bit of drama in its favour. Listening to it on headphones but in the “background” as I write this introduction, it kind of keeps my attention, which enough others didn’t.
The song has quite present rhythmic strings, which I adore, and a trademark Yugo melody (see the Balkan ReYUnion or the Macedonia review for more on Yugo melodies) which I have to grown to love as well. Actually the drums and whatever else is coming in is, for me, rather disturbing the whole thing. And the video shows that Sanja can sing. Once again, the Serbs have produced a nice voice, but unlike last year, there is more to the song that I can like. Nevertheless, they have once again failed to keep the drama under control and push me away with it. That is, however, not the biggest problem.
The biggest problem, as much as I hate to say this, is Sanja herself. First of all, when I saw her face the first time, the thought that shot into my mind was “she looks like an Amy Winehouse parody”, and while that could be a good thing, it’s not in this case. Her styling does not really flatter her in my opinion (the mic does though!), plus there’s the weird movements she does. And I am sceptical how the song will translate to a ESC stage when she’s not surrounded by a bunch of strings (innuendo not intended). What I have to point out positively are the lyrics – they positively remind me of Running and it’s nice not to hear a lovesong or not-so-deep meaning “I’m so sad” thing that still has coherent lyrics. Even though I always understand “I lick my boobs”, but hey, why not? I am not 100% convinced, but we all know Serbia has done much worse. 6/11!
Iceland: Greta Salome – Hear Them Calling
Iceland decided for a tested way of doing things and send a returning artist. They usually keep a rhythm of good and bad changing every year in my book – Sjonni’s Friends broke it in 2011, being my second dislike in a row, but since then it’s been intact again – and a “tradition” of being called out last in their semis, which does usually make me quite anxious for one of my favourites every other year. Will Greta continue the patterns and hear them calling out Iceland last in May?
One thing I like about this song is how every single change in it kind of “makes sense” when you hear it, yet it doesn’t really give away what it’s gonna do in the beginning. The slightly folky guitar bits combined with a energetic electronic danceable chorus is a combo I was always going to like. And at least to me, whose knowledge of Iceland is reduced to Eurovision, TV, geography class and riding Blue Fire (no advertisement intended), this does create an association with Iceland in my mind despite not coming across as ethnic. I think that in a year with many international-sounding, not very special entries, this can help their chances a lot.
Comparing performances of Nordic NF’s to others is always tricky, given that they are usually so much more finished than most other preselections. But this one is presenting us with a show I could see on a Eurovision stage. I really like how they don’t give you a proper shot of Greta’s face for such a long time despite filming her frontal for most of the time, and the whole lighting and backdrop enhances that not really defined Icelandic feeling for me. While there has been more than enough talk about the chest explosion thing – and it does indeed look weird – the rest of the concept works very well for me. And unlike last year, Greta has proved she can actually hit notes. I hope and predict that Iceland can be welcomed in the finals again this year, and I give it slightly generous 8/10.
This was a pair of rather high votes compared to the last one, and certainly a more enjoyable review session for me. Will that be the case next time as well? Find out and let your heartbeat help you fly with Latvia and Belarus!