Eurovision is coming closer and closer, and that means that from now on, we have larger reviews of three songs per episode! Say Yay! And in consequence, there won’t be a review that features entirely non-English language songs. There would have been one today with Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Bosnian Ljubav Je and Austria’s French Loin d’Ici, but Armenia joins them in English for round 11. So now you know the countries, let’s go!
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Deen & Dalal feat. Ana Rucner & Jala – Ljubav Je
It kind of makes sense for the only country in the competition that has a “and” in its commonly used name to send a group of artists which contains “&” two times. I guess they just couldn’t decide on a group name or so, but the explanation with the & is as good as any other. So, how will the returner from Bosnia – in more than one sense – do?
Goodness, whats the thing with the Balkan and dramatic strings? I can’t think of a song from there that didn’t try to sound “western” and missed out on their strings. The first two minutes are nothing more than a balkan ballad with some extra energy and drama poured onto it (and slightly sped up), but it’s a good one. This is no Korake Ti Znam-esque “by numbers” song, it has way too much power for that. Not cutting edges either though. And then comes the place where it takes either a brilliant or a terrible turn. Enter Jala. Bosnian rap in such a song is definitely risky, but also memorable. It goes against the golden rule of not using rap music though, but what if it’s so well “hidden” in a pretty impressive balkanesque piece?
There is, however, a lot more wrong with it once you start the video. Let’s start by Ana’s cello – please give her a real one, cause that looks pretty ugly. And then come Deen and Dalal, who both fail to show another emotion than complete concentration during the entire three minutes. Do they ever even look at each other? The best thing about the visuals and performance here is Jala’s beard, really. I like the song, and I think their voices go together very nicely, but this presentation better be better. So far, it’s no more than 5/10.
Austria: ZOË – Loin d’Ici
Which country has sent the only completely French song of the year? Austria. Apparently we need a random French song from time to time, like we got in 07 with Cyprus. And like that one, it’s a little bit of a fan favourite with a not very predictable outcome with the general public. Let’s see if it’s back to Vienna or back to Zero.
Actually, this song could not be anything else than French. Of course I am not a specialist either, but to me, her French skills seem pretty perfect. I’d totally believe you if you said she’s from France. And the song fits this very well too. It’s about fifteen years too late with it’s Alizée-ish vibe, but that may not be a bad thing if she can sell it as rétro. Unfortunately, the Alizée comparison is not the only one to make. It also has a hint of cheapness that looks like straight out of Kate Ryan’s song drawer, and we all know how that ended.
Looking to the video (or rather NF performance) now, this is incredibly sweet. The background looks like a washing powder commercial, and so does her dress. And the treadmill thing is a nice illusion but also looks a little cheap. You know, like the magician who makes it a joke to “accidentally” show his audience occasionally how the trick is done. Actually, it fits Eurovision pretty well, cause the entire song is a show as well. A little issue may be that in the live performance, ZOË (is she Belarussian?) never really seems to reach the power she does in studio, or makes it sound a little angry rather than euphoric. But hey, maybe they can change that! A little sweetness surely won’t hurt between the rather dark Czechia, Cyprus and Estonia, and I give 7/10.
Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave
And now the most impressive one year break of all times. Armenia took a break in 2012 to make a point against Azerbaijan, but came back transformed from by-the-book wouldn’t be missed ethnic pop nation to a modern, serious competitor. They kinda lost track with their
genocide commemoration moment totally unpolitical worldwide family reunion last year, but are they back on track in a year with no such historical background?
Wait, who is doing this spoken word intro? It’s not Iveta herself, is it? I adore the fact this devotes almost a third of the song to introduction and stuff that’s not really connected to the song, and I exceptionally like that part. I had a random dislike for this – given my love for Aminata and Justs, I somewhat expected to like it – but it’s slowly getting to me. I still think it’s trying a little too hard and went too far down the noisy route (especially compared to Heartbeat) to be as captivating as the Latvians. Also very important I’d say: This song never seems to breathe. It’s three minutes (or 2:10 rather) of full power, interrupted only by a small ethnic part we have heard multiple times from now by the Armenians. And the title definitely should be #LoveWave.
Then there’s the video, showing a style I love. If they base their staging on it in any way, it’s likely to look really, really good. Well, it probably will anyway cause there’s Iveta on stage, who has lost the Hotness Vote of ESCnation to Francesca of Italy by only one point. Once again Armenia has come up with something that I’d never have expected from them when they announced their one year break in 2012, and that works very well. I like seeing Eurovision opening up to new styles and stuff, but to be honest, LoveWave doesn’t do it for me personally. And that’s why I can only give them a 4/10, but please, Armenia keep trying!
After we’re done with Armenia, we visit two Caucasian neighbours next time together with the stars. Join us again for Israel, Georgia and Azerbaijan!