Review Part XIV: Spain, Finland, Netherlands

Hello everyone, did you survive the first day of rehearsal madness? It was once planned that we are finished today… yeah, right. But there’s not a lot left to go, and today we take three more off the to-do-list. Three classic western Eurovision nations, all with various success over the last years. Let’s check out Spain, Finland and the Netherlands.

Spain: Barei – Say Yay!

Spain has tried various things lately, but they tend to do best when they return to the dramatic female ballad. Things like Dancing In The Rain look like the only way to the top for España, which is a little weird as they should be predestined for summer hits as well. But let’s not forget their attempts at this were usually simply bad. This year, they decided to try it again, and Say Yay! seems to be pretty popular. Will that prove right?

My favourite thing about the song is probably Barei’s voice. I love love love this type of female voices. And the song itself? It can turn out either way, really. She has a high risk of coming out shouty and aggressive, which would be horrible, or she can end up powerful and making me dance, which would be great. The song offers both possibilities. There seems to be quite a lot going on in the instrumental that doesn’t really translate to the track, which is a little annoying – I note a lot of sound happening, while the end product is just a blend of noise. Or, to put it less nicely, a lot of sound elements wasted.

I guess there has been a lot of talk around about Barei’s style and dance moves, but I admit I like both of them. The dance reminds me very much of Kurt Calleja of Malta, and it never did him any harm. And about the style, hey, I like a little “street” on stage. I’m more concerned about the staging, as the Spanish have proved they’re capable of very weird stuff with Amanecer. Or that anyone notices how little sense the lyrics seem to make. They sound like someone put every motivational line that one can think of together and added a catchy hook. But then again, who listens to them anyway? Spain, you can do better but you’re on a very right track. I’ll reward the effort with a rather generous 7/10.

Finland: Sandhja – Sing It Away

Finland has blessed us with many of my favourites, as they are what I am to the fan community, the household guitarboys and girls. I always throw some interested looks their way, and who else could bring metal to the Eurovision throne? They took another route this year, so let’s see how I like that.

This starts a little less shouty and energetic than Spain, but quickly takes a very similar route. The fact Sandhja’s verses are less loud makes it sound more structured though, and the backing track is a bit less noisy. It’s very un-Finnish however, with the brassy sound bits in the background which sound rather like something Azerbaijan would use. Everything in the song seems to be directed at creating a fun uplifting sound, which makes it a great starter. However, it’s also not very memorable in consequence, as it seems rather “flat” to me, not doing anything except creating fun. I think that while it’s good for the show it’s on the first position, it’s rather bad for the Finns.

I can’t understand Sandhja in the chorus even if I try, not live and not in studio. I keep hearing “melting your balls away”, but surely she can’t be singing that? The whole live thing is not really working for me, at least not in the video of UMK. First of all, she looks rather uncharming I think. I’m not against short hair per se, but it doesn’t really suit her. Then, I can definitely make out some missed notes and a lack of energy in some places. Not exactly what she needs – she can do with a few wrong tones, but the energy needs to be there 110% for such a song. Give it all you’ve got, Sandhja, and I can let you get away with 4/10.

Netherlands: Douwe Bob – Slow Down

The Netherlands have been chronically unsuccessful when I started watching Eurovision, and it was often easy to see and hear why. Until their 2013 rebirth at the hands of Anouk, that is. Followed by a country episode that would probably have won in another year, when there was no potential Eurovision icon on offer. It kinda makes sense they’re back to country now.

The sond starts out with the ticking noise and the voice of Douwe Bob, which is nicely slower than the ticking (and the song in general in the first few bars?). Nice effect! It’s a fairly simple arrangement, guitars, drums, bass and a piano that is adding a nice depth to the song. It may be a little repetitive, but I personally don’t really mind. At least this makes sure that the hook is stuck in your mind. And it’s a great singalong song after all. Little weird detail: Why is the song speeding up when he says “Slow Down” for the first time?

A lot of the success of such a song will depend on the vocal performance and the staging, and both better be good. The Dutch have proven they’re capable of staging country in 2014(even though that was a very different song), but they also showed their capability of colossal fuckups more than once. The little bit of rehearsal footage we’ve seen makes me positive about the staging, but it’s hard to judge by it. A band setup is definitely what’s needed for this song. And I totally hope they include the beer bottle slide guitar of the video. I’m usually no country lover, but here it’s a nice breath of air, and worth 8/10.

We are getting cloesr and closer to the end of the review round (and to Eurovision), and tomorrow we’ll finish the S songs. Next on the list: Soldiers of love listening to the sound of silence in the sunlight. Or in other words, Denmark, Australia and Ireland.

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