Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eurovision 2015: The Big Five + host + Australia

Australia?? Yes, for some reason best known to the organisers, Australia gets to have an entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. No, I don't understand it either but then we've had Israel, Turkey and Russia, as well as lots of USSR states of old too. I've always thought Russia's inclusion was stretching 'Europe' a bit but when they were being friendly and co-operative and all was sweetness and light it seemed OK. Israel has always been a curious entry too but you don't like to argue with either Israel or Russia do you?

Anyway, here are the last six entries. These all get automatic passes to the Final and so can chuck whatever rubbish they please at us and many time in previous years some have done just that. Not having to get votes to participate in the Final took away some of the care in choice of song sometimes. Again, I feel a couple of nations didn't try that hard. Make your own mind up.


There's a vaguely Bruno Mars sound and beat to this. It's an OK pop song and pretty modern but not very memorable or interesting. All at the same tinny volume. No shade. I guess it's all sunshine in Australia. The singer looks as though he might be part aboriginal which is neither one thing nor the other but it did make me realise that I hadn't seen a single non-white face throughout all the performances I've seen so far.

I don't think Australia will do terribly well. They may squeeze into the Top Ten on votes from people intrigued as to why they're in the competition - a sort of welcome or thank you gesture like you give the host nation.


They've got another performer with long hair and a beard but this one is a bloke. A pretty solid, passionate performance although the falsetto bit didn't do much for me. All competent enough but unlikely to fare well and it'll just be the nods of votes for the host nation that'll keep them off the lower tranches of the listing.


A strong and well-sung ballad in traditional French style. I think it is about the war and destruction of a village on the coast somewhere. I like French female singers and this is a pretty classic example although she is a bit older than the 60s ones I admire most. A few years ago France had a tremendously good song that the singer messed up on the night and it fell from being favourite that evening to bottom later that night. If this lady does well and she can somehow connect a bit better with the voters than she does in the video then France could do well this year.


German girls singing in English have a strange accent but that didn't harm Nicole a few years ago. This is a tedious track. Doesn't stand a chance, I'm afraid, despite the girl's intense efforts. There's just nothing there. Compare this to the preceding and following tracks.


I am sure I have heard of Il Volo before. That's more than I can say of any of the other acts this year. This group sing superbly and it is a good song too, in good, classic Italian style. The video is annoyingly totally irrelevant and puts one off the track rather than drawing us into it so that may mean it comes across better as the guys do it live on stage. If the voters are in a slightly more classic mood then Italy will easily take the prize this year. They are a definite contender. One of very few.


I have loved Spain's entries recently, especially last year's by Ruth Lorenzo and an earlier year which had a video with a horse and a pretty girl that I thought was amazing but not many others did. Here we have a very attractive blonde and a strong song too. It's good Euro stuff this and ought to make the Top 10 but votes for Spain have been few and far between for reasons I don't understand in the past.

United Kingdom^***

Well, when I first heard this I thought it was fun and UK doing something a bit brave and definitely an improvement on the annoyingly formulaic 'message' song of last year. We used to do so well in this competition but after several very dull years of ancient pop stars, dull performers and average groups we have become too accustomed to finishing up well on the right side of the board. This, I believe, will bring us back where we belong and should be a certain Top 10 and, for the first time in ages, I believe we have a serious chance of winning. It's a 20s or 30s tune, and if the two main singers do it well and have some nice backing there so that some effort to reproduce the video is feasible then they will get support from the voters.
Unless we have offended anyone we ought to do well. Oh, Russia. And that means null points from quite a few other nations too.

So, that's it. There go all this year's entries. 10 will be selected from each of the Semi Finals and then those 20 with these 7 will perform in the Final. Looking at the betting odds, there are predictions that some good entries might fall in the Semis which could have a serious impact on the overall results. I have y ideas as to the few potential winners now but the Top 10 eludes me at the moment. It's going to be a tough year and I may have to make several changes if the Semi Finals mess up my plans!

More about that later.

Eurovision 2015: Semi Final 2 track reviews

You can see all the second group of entries here. The remaining automatic qualifiers will be in my next post. You do have to remember that in videos the performers get several opportunities to get things right, they have backing tracks and all sorts of extra things available that simply won't be there on the stage for their live show. Some will manage fine and seem to be straight recordings of performances but others are heavily edited and show story lines that will be lost on the night.


A classic boy + girl entry that could have been from the 90s. It's a jolly affair and you'll remember two things: Round and round and round we go  and a kiss in the middle. Maybe a charming embrace at the end too which will gain them a few votes as you can't help but feel good with this one. Lithuania have had a pretty miserable showing so far but this ought to get them a place and maybe even in the Top 10 if the voters are in the mood.


Always (if you exclude the chicken) good songs and always (if you exclude JEdward) well performed from Ireland who used regularly to be up there on the left side of the board every year but who seem to have suffered recently for no reason I can explain. They have some wonderful singers and song writers. This is a very good album track but not something that will win Eurovision. It's quite mournful and I wonder whether she'll even get through the Semi Final.

San Marino***

This nation struggles to get into the Final most years. They have made some excellent efforts but perhaps they haven't many friends. I like the way this song builds. It's quite clever and has a message. It ends a bit too quickly but could be popular.


Girl with violin. Another girl with a balalaika or something like that. This is good and traditional Yugoslav stuff. the bloke in earrings and a jumper and jeans sings in Slav too. The four girls are very attractive. So far this stands out as the only 'national' entry of the old style that ever Balkan country used to enter. For that reason, if it stays unique, it'll be there and should do well.


I think I have been a fan of almost every Malta entry over the years. I don't dislike this one but it doesn't seem to have any hook or rhythm that we can hang on to. It's sort of hard work and they may struggle to make the Final. She tries to get us on board at the end but may have left it too late.


This is serious stuff. Excellent singers but they don't have the most watchable faces. It is a fascinating song and a very strong entry. It is the first track I've heard that is a potential winner. The video, whilst completely irrelevant to the competition, is disturbing.


Engaging rebel girl singer. Great track and performance but I am not sure how popular she will be across Europe. A few missed notes on her video don't augur well but I like it for all that. I doubt if it'll get anywahere.

Czech Republic

A serious number from two good singers. Both have large chests. It's a boring song and the bloke is a bit too gravelly. All the chord changes are there and it almost ticks all the boxes but i don't see it going far. Th local nations will like it but that's about it.


Something modern after a lot of heavy stuff from this batch of entries. Israel can do catchy. Too much of an 80s feel though in the lyrics. I'm A Golden Boy | Come Her To Enjoy | Before I leave | Let Me Show You Tel Aviv. Oh dear.


This gets an award for the most unusual start. A curious track. It needs to be performed as well live if it's to work, though. Latvia is one cool nation for music but the girl's voice is just a little tinny and this is maybe too avant garde for Eurovision. I wish her well but doubt it'll get far.


One of the most consistent in Top 10 appearances in recent years and also often chasing the leader for a while on the voting board, Azerbaijan have a knack of picking good tracks for Eurovision and a lot of money to give to juries if necessary. Once more they've done well but once more it will not be quite good enough for #1. This gets a bit messy as it progresses so may not make the Top 10 this year, despite its chord change and choir joining in towards the end.


One Step At A Time. Repeat. Not the Michael Ball track thank Heavens, though. This has more of an Emilie DeForest feel and look about it with the bare feet and off-white dresses. I suppose in Iceland there's too much white around already. It's a good pop song, if a bit repetitive. Many will like it and it is another that I think has an outside chance for the #1 spot.


The current favourite. Fantastic video but try to imagine the guy singing with no special effects. On of just a few modern tracks this year. It's OK but a winner? I don't think so. Top 10 yes. That We Are The Heroes Of Our Time is pretty catchy. The guy is a strong performer and good-looking. So maybe.


Quite a good song. It races along and has a modern feel with nice guitar backing. the singer is good and if she performs that well on stage this ought to bring Switzerland back into the competition. My Time To Shine.


A gentle ballad of a style that is easy listening and pretty pleasant without being boring. It is a real song with real lyrics. It may seem a little bland when compared to many of the other entries but, funnily enough, that could be its strength. Nice track. I'm predicting a bit of a surprise from Cyprus with this one. As long as the voters stay awake, that is.


Europop but none the worse for that. Effective Lulu sound-alike singer gets it across well and will presumably have more clothes on in the her live performance. Slovenia normally hardly get off the bottom of the betting lists but this deserves a few votes. Their best entry for a while.


A gentle runalong song by a nice singer. It's all just a bit 'nice' and that's all. It is quite predicatble and boring. Rather over-produced too. The video is good with an unexpected twist at the end. I won't give that away but if it turns out actually to be the case with this singer then that could well bring a few extra votes. Not enough to do that well though.

OK, that's all the nations that have to compete to get in the final. There are no obvious stand-out winners yet. So that means UK may have a chance after all! I often have trouble whittling down entries to reach a predicted Top 10 but this year I am having trouble actually finding 10. There are still the Big 5 + Australia, however.

Eurovision 2015: Semi Final 1 track reviews

Yes, it's that time again. All the entries can be seen and listened to and we can start to try and figure out whether there might be any surprises, just how good is that favourite and I can do some very complicated sums to ensure that I don't lose any money.

The video link above plays all the 16 entries in the first semi final. I may select a few later and promote them as my own tips for the Top 10 but for the time being I shall just add a few comments on each below.

This may be all you ever hear from me about many of them!


They've made a reasonable effort with this average 80s style song. It's not Wendy James, though, and just doesn't stand out, probably not making the final.


An interesting song that tells a story with a Celine Dion sound-alike, a younger girl and some serious bloke. A well-written track with a fine strong ending but I am not sure it'll grab the attention and votes it will need.


Why yiy yiy yiy. There, you'll remember that bit. Not quite the class act of last year's marvellous Common Linnets' runner-up but the low lands are trying again. With a decent female singer, neither young nor blonde, it has a catchy phrase or two but it doesn't win any awards for its lyrics. I sort of like it and do wish them well, although I am not totally sure why yiy yiy.


I remember Lordi winning and this sounds just like them, several years older. A bunch of strange old folk. They are all said to have learning disabilities, whatever that means. Brave effort and I don't think we have ever had this sort of entry before although some may have been verging on the insane. It's a punk band of sorts but not a memorable track other than visually being so weird. They ahve got a lot of early attention, though, and I suspect they my pick up quite a few votes just for the effort made. Remember last year's winner probably gained a significant proportion of votes for the statement being made rather than the song or singing. I dislike it but can't discount it.


Breathless Maria-Elena seems to be trying too hard. Greece always do seem to be in or near the Top 10 and ought to repeat that again with this solid song. It's not spectacular and gets quite confusing towards the end as you're not sure quite where the song is going. She certainly makes the most of the title. It's not a winner, though. If you want a pretty blonde in a nice dress, choose Russia.


The first three star track I've heard. A good song, with two excellent contestants who seem to know what they're doing. Why didn't you wake me up? should have been the title but it isn't. And the bloke's called Stig so he has to do well! I'm not sure it is a winner but I'll do my bit to promote it and see what happens.


They've struggled in this competition so far. This is much better, nice although not very memorable. It could be one of those that surprises us all later.


One of those songs with a message that people tend to like in Eurovision. It is quite strong. I can see this getting a good bit of support although I am not sure how popular Serbia is these days. I don't like it much at all but it has a similar quality to last year's winner from Austria that may suit the current Eurovision mood. First pretty definite Top 10 contender.


The first Top 10 likely entry that I enjoyed. A clever song, also with a message. I like the way it builds and if the individuals can repeat that excellent performance effectively on stage live then they'll get support. It all works well with 4 minutes on a video but with a silent background and just 2 minutes it may just fail. A possible surprise for everyone as it sits at over 900-1 at the time of writing!


No. From the start. Good violin, though. Then it starts to get catchy so perhaps it may have a chance after all.


Nice blonde girl with strange focus effects in the video that emphasis her blue eyes but also slightly disorts her mouth in a disturbing way. This is, though, a very strong song and she will, hopefully, be back in proper focus on the stage. You get the feeling Russia really do want to win this and, with more control over the venue for 2016, they can put a stop to all this beard rot. There is just something missing in this song to make it really special so I see it easily making Top 10 (subject to my not finding another 10 in the ones I've yet to hear) but not the top spot. Politics always seem to help Russia although this year hasn't seen them quite as warmly appreciated across Europe and could affect votes. Ukraine are nowhere to be seen this year. The song ends a bit strangely too.


A relaxed pop song with a likeable lead singer. This is the first that I would expect to appeal to younger viewers who have largely been overlooked so far. In the absence of any competition for their votes it could do well but I wonder if it is interesting enough to win. Much depends on how well the group can perform this live. Denmark have really been finding good tracks recently. Likely Top 10.


A good entry, well sung and written, but lacking something we can hang on to and remember. It's a pity as she tries hard to convince us to vote.


I just don't know what to say about this one. They start by going for the gentle, scenic ballad that often does well here and it then turns into quite a reasonable pop song. In many ways it's quite appealing. But will it even make the final? I just don't know.


A hard-looking woman, the sort that used to be all over Eurovision entries a few years ago. They were either gorgeous, soft and blonde or super-fit raven-haired, black-eyed tough women that were sexy but in a frightening way. This is top volume, top speed stuff from start to finish but it still just passes me by. They need Katie Melua back.

So that's the first Semi Final. I will look again at some of these. I haven't spotted an obvious winner amongst these. The bookies have Estonia, Finland and Russia making the Top 10 at present. In that order but none are favourites.

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