In the fourth and penultimate part of our ESC 2016 line-up check series, it’s time for our editors – Felix, Martin and Shi – to give their views on the songs in the second half of the second semi-final!
Just like in our first, second and third articles, each entry has been randomly assigned to one of them. They’ll give their views briefly, followed by an arrow that represents their feeling about the song’s chances in the contest and an emoji or two that reflects their own personal taste. Then the other two editors will get a quick “right of reply” in which they can agree or disagree with what’s been said!
Now let’s see what our team thinks about the remaining
ten nine songs in semi 2…
Shi: Or as I call it, the checklist song. It’s a good checklist song, don’t get me wrong, because they got everything on their list to work well, but from all songs this year this feels to me like the one that tried the hardest to follow a very specific formula. The result is a strong song, sung by a very strong singer, and that will undoubtly have a very impressive staging to boot, but for me it also feels a bit cold and detached. All in all, though, it should be at least a top 5 contender.
Martin: I wonder if this isn’t a bit overrated – it’s very competent and contemporary, but successful ESC songs need a heart too, and that’s what I’m missing here.
Felix: I have a thing for cold songs. And yes, it’s cold, but one of those cold songs that make you feel a bit feverish. In a good way!
Martin: You tend to get one or two entries like this in every edition of ESC: a friendly singer with a perfectly pleasant melody (albeit a total Carrie Underwood rip-off in this case, but if you’re going to steal, might as well steal from the best), all quite charming – but just too insubstantial and, well, nice to remain in anyone’s memory when they come to vote. Factor in a staging concept that practically screams “we’re from a small country!”, and much like a rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming truck, the Slovenian entry is cute but ultimately doomed.
Shi: I thought the consensus was that this is a Taylor Swift rip off? Never mind. She’s neither Taylor or Carrie, and the song is pleasant but going to be remembered by no one.
Felix: I don’t know Carrie Underwood. I just about know who Taylor Swift is. However, my lack of knowledge doesn’t help Slovenia either. Provincial. Boring. Cheap. Next.
At this point, let us pause to observe…
Shi: The last time Bulgaria sent a returnee, in 2013, it became my favorite Bulgarian song to date. It didn’t qualify, so it might be a bad omen for Poli Genova whose song is now my favorite Bulgarian entry. I think she’s safe, though, with her modern, uptempo and catchy tune in a year that really needed one like that. If they can get the staging right (and Poli’s previous entry was one of the few they did right – doesn’t mean much, I know) this could get Bulgaria not only a second Q, but also a second visit to the top 10.
Felix: I hope it won’t have the same angry-woman-fate that Cyprus 2007 and Israel 2014 had. Because I want it to do well, very well.
Martin: Everything about this feels promising. Contemporary, good song with a human heart and a performer who should be able to deliver. Don’t screw it up, Bulgaria!
Felix: Argh. I tried not to like it, but I do. Denmark gives me all reasons not to like it: It’s once again typical Danish Eurovision material, it’s a “boyband” with – let’s try to put it friendly – well, a lack of attractive young men, it’s stealing the title from a Eurovision classic, it borrows some notes from Helene Fischer, and against all odds, I like it. For some reason it’s so innocent. Slappable, yes, but before you even think it you feel sorry for the song. If that makes sense. Will qualify.
Martin: Safe song, safe qualifier – probably? There wasn’t a lot of live vocal on this at the Danish final, so it could yet prove to be a car crash…
Shi: I sort of like this as long as I don’t look at them or listen to the lyrics. Will qualify and die in the final, and that’s totally fine by me.
Martin: There’s an overused word in the online ESC community that I’m reluctant to repeat here. (Suffice it to say it begins with “f” and rhymes with “panwank”.) Anyway, Ukraine returns to the contest this year with three minutes of multilingual wailing about the forced deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944, set to a vaguely trip-hop beat with ethno stylings. Could it get any more, erm, panwanky? Hype aside, though, I really do like this. It’s no winner – it’s surely far too difficult for that – but it stands out from the crowd and could easily gain a “Suus” result.
Shi: I suspect that people who live in regions that are Eastern of Italy will get this more, just one of those things. I also suspect it will do rather well.
Felix: What a comeback! Songs like these are the spice of Eurovision. Will do well, not only with the East.
Shi: It has been noted this season – often – that Norway is two songs in one, and in a completely different tempo at that. The effect is weird and I was caught by surprise when I first heard it. I think both parts are musically pleasing and the chorus is one of the more effective ones this year. I’m also curious to hear how it sounds with actual live vocals and whether they will still use the giant ice cube – because beat that, other countries! It should qualify rather easily, before running into a lot of competition from the semi 1 qualifiers.
Martin: I’m not sure about “easily” – the tempo change is a barrier, and Agnete didn’t convince me vocally at MGP – but there should still be room for both Norwegian entries in the final.
Felix: It will qualify. The tempo change makes it stand out, people at home won’t not notice this song, even if it’s a talkative round in front of the TV.
Felix: In this line-up check series, the main reviewing editor usually writes between 70 and 100 words per country. For Georgia 2016, this is an impossible task. It’s not horrible, it’s not bad, it’s just completely forgettable and unnecessary. In this line-up check series, the main reviewing editor usually writes between 70 and 100 words per country. For Georgia 2016, this is an impossible task. It’s not horrible, it’s not bad, it’s just completely forgettable and unnecessary.
Martin: Whereas we get 30 words for our responses and that’s nowhere near enough for me, but anyway: I love it I love it I love it I love it I-
Shi: It’s cool for what it wants to be. It’s just not working in a Eurovision context. It’s cool for what it wants to be. It’s just not working in a Eurovision context.
Martin: Another year, another Albanian revamp. The big dramatic number from Festivali i Këngës, “Përrallë”, is no more. In its place we have “Fairytale”, complete with that shuffling pseudo-R&B beat that Albania seems so keen on. All told, it’s a poor piece of decision-making. The lyrics and music don’t match (“I’m going to shout at you for three minutes – that’s why I love you!”), and the dramatic intent of the original is drowned in the mishmash of the new production and song structure. So no, there’s no fairytale ending in sight for Eneda.
Felix: Oh Albania. Why try to americanize your entries? This is Europe. Your entries were fine as they were with FiK factory settings. “Përrallë” was a strong track. “Fairytale” is weak.
Shi: I keep seeing people mourning the original version, but I could never actually tell the difference and find both equally boring and chanceless.
Felix: Hey, I like this. It’s a fresh, charming feel-good song, heavily underrated at this stage of the season. Of course, noone knows how it will be on stage, but I guess it could be the dark horse this year. Judging by my Facebook feed, it was successful in various preview voting parties with non-fans (different countries, not connected), which is a very good sign. It’s among my top favourites this year and think it will qualify.
Shi: When it was chosen I decided I liked her and she’d never qualify. I still like her and now I think it might qualify. She should send flowers to SVT and TVR.
Martin: Just as I was worried that this year’s songs were too mainstream and likeable, along comes something mainstream and slappable. Phew! Having pet hates is important. THIS IS HORRIBLE. (And qualifying.)
And with that considerable difference of opinion about the Belgian entry, we’ve nearly reached the end of our line-up check series for 2016. All that remains is for our team to turn their critical eye to the automatic finalists – and they’ll be doing that very soon indeed. Watch this space!