Eurovision Countdown

Every few days between now and the Big Show, OnEurope's pundits will delight with musings on the musical merits of the songs competing in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. Just like in the old days when Terry Wogan would gather the family around the telly box and play the preview videos. Imagine us all doing cod Irish accents, if you will. Feel free to insult and tell us how very wrong we are in the comments below each installment. (And the logo for our Countdown is indeed 'on purpose').

Today, it's the first part of the first semi-final. We'll hear these songs on 9 May.

Sweden - Robin Bengtsson - I can't go on

Phil - So when your well of ideas has ran dry, yeah, and you only have a chorus, yeah, the instruction booklet to your "Melodifestivalen in your pocket" set says " Just stretch it to three minutes but just remember the gimmick to take people's mind off the fact that you can't be arsed finishing the song". The Berocca advert on which this choreography is based is far better than three minutes of him going "You look so freaking beautiful" to the point of me wanting to punch his face! It's annoying, it grates. Lyrically it has nothing to offer. I fear, however, a certain constituency will lap this up.

Phil's score: 3 freaking Points.

Mo - 'Hands down to the floor' - is that some kind of reference to knuckles dragging? Melodifestivalen had an off year, admittedly, but this was one of the weakest to my ears. Of course, it's staged to perfection. Of course, the dead-eyed manequin can sing. But if this were in the second semi final, I reckon it would struggle to qualify. There's something so creepy about his performance that I can't quite place, but I find it harder to look at than listen to.

Mo's score: 1 Point

Valentina - Can I just make retching sounds instead of writing anything here? This is utter crap. It's over-produced, sounds naff and relies heavily on staging rather than music *cough* Heroes *cough*. I really can't see why people love this as much as they do, which is a shame as I know it'll undeservedly steamroll into the final. I can't go on... listening to this song, I mean!

Valentina's score: La Suède, 2 Points

Monty - It’s polished and memorable, but it’s also fantastically cheesy, and unless it’s genuinely meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek (it’s not) I feel it might be met with as much derision as it is applause once it’s being judged outside the expectations of Swedish TV. I don’t know whether that will matter so much in the scoring: you can’t vote against a Eurovision song as a viewer after all. Indifference won’t negate his support, and this did win in Sweden thanks to the support of the international jury. And support there will be – it isn’t outside of the realm of possibilities that this may push Sweden level with Ireland on 7 wins. I hope it doesn’t though: apart from the fact I’m already invested in an Italian win, I’d like the victorious song to be a little less bland.

Read Monty's Countdown review

Monty's score: 8 Points

Georgia - Tamara Gachechiladze - Keep the faith

Phil - I keep having to correct my brain when I hear this song to tell it this isn't 'Rise like a Phoenix'. Rather it's a sub-bond type song that tries to be Conchita, performed by a cheaper version of Glennis Grace. Yes, it has a message - and I'm sure it'll be projected on the screen behind her in Kiev - and I know it will only have to beat eight or nine others to get into the final (and I'm sure it will). But even with the lit-up dress it's just an average Euro-stomper.

Phil's Score: 5 Points.

Mo - It reminds me of Saturday Night telly when I was little and my parents made me watch Lulu or Cilla belting out rubbish MoR. I'm sure the staging will help, but this is shite of the lowest order. I was so happy when it ended.

Mo's Score: Heaven help me - 0 Points

Valentina - Who told you... this was a good idea? OK, that was mean... I want to like it, I really do... but I think the message and the power it's aiming for gets drained by that dreary repetition of the titular plea. Three minutes is not a long time, but sometimes it really feels like it. I like the whole faux-Bond thing she's going for, but the song needs either less repetition or to be about a minute shorter. Rumours claim we're going to get a revamp before the contest... it'll need to be a damn spectacular one if it wants to qualify!

Valentina's score: La Géorgie, 5 Points

Monty - There’s echoes of Conchita (though Tako’s more closely-shaven) and Bond themes about this soaring power ballad, but it’s all a lot of noise without a scrap of originality. The inherent drama required to deliver this kind of thing might well elevate it to a loftier position than it deserves, but for me it wouldn’t be gracing our Saturday night.

Read Monty's Countdown review here

Monty's score: 2 Points

Australia - Isiah  - Don't come easy

Phil - It don't come easy and it don't come cheap ... a little bit like this song. It seems that last year's writers have turned to the Big Book O' Cliche to write the lyric and it grates so! The chorus is so trite it's ridiculous, and the verses are no better. This will get through the semi-final based on the Australia factor, but it is a piece of factory-produced generic poptastic tat without the legs to do anything . It's nowhere near as strong as Sound of Silence. In fact three minutes of Silence would be better .  Again it's Average A mcAverage, and doesn't stand out.

Phil's score: A very average 4 Points

Mo - I didn't really rate their song last year (or the year before). This one is even weaker. It's so bland, like the kind of tripe third-rate boy bands use to fluff out desperate second albums. It would be easy to compare Isiah with Kristian from Bulgaria - they're both young boys singing songs about lost love. The Bulgarian song though has more going on: there's an element of drama that this lacks. And of the two, Isiah has a much less interesting voice.

Mo's score: 5 Points

Valentina - On a first listen, I was woefully underwhelmed. But let's be honest: After the initial hype of Australia joining the contest, Guy Sebastian rocking Vienna and Dami Im storming the scoreboard and winning the jury vote in Stockholm, how do you keep that momentum going? Simple: It don't come easy. It only seems dull because of the back catalogue it has to compete with. It's a pleasant enough song and has grown on me, but I suspect Australia are heading for their worst ever placing...

Valentina's score: L'Australie, 6 Points

Monty - Isaiah is quite the young popstar of the moment, hot off the back of winning Australian X-Factor, and continuing a link with the show that runs through all of Australia’s Eurovision entrants to date. At just 17 years old Isaiah is cute as a button, ticking the indigenous Australian box for added modern pop performer integrity, and seems likely to be a popular competitor in Kyiv. His voice is a thing of beauty, rich and deeply textured. It belies his age as much as his subject, which seems a bit old for him. With his matinee idol looks and his full flush of youth I wouldn’t be surprised if he has been at it like a jackrabbit as he sings of his time between the sheets, but you’ve had to have had some darned bad luck to have been burned in love as much as he croons he’s been at 17.

Read Monty's full Countdown review

Monty's score: 7 Points

Albania - Lindita - World

Phil - Well it's all very "Albanian" isn't it.  By that, I mean its not even the song that went through from their Festivali thing many moons ago. The more I listen to it, though, the more I think it could be an Enya or Clannad song.  But that doesn't make it any good. It's just a load of noise (and background noise at that). Now, I don't usually like "Balkan Ballads" and I'm sure other people will think this is ace, but personally, it's just OK and nothing more.

Phil's Score: A noisy 4 Points

Mo - To my tired old ears, it sounds like a weak stab at a James Bond theme. The orchestration is lovely, but Lindita gets lost in the mix and sounds desperately indistinct. It washed over me, and I suspect it's a year out of the final for Albania.

Mo's score: 3 Points

Valentina - Poor Albania must stop choosing their song after Christmas … it’s so far before the contest that by the time the revamp came out a few weeks back, I’d almost completely forgotten they’d even chosen their entry! This is possibly the only song I’ve ever heard translated into English that I think sounds better in translation than in its original language – so bravo! Musically I quite enjoy the haunting and dramatic sound “World” has, but it feels like it’s trying to be very grand and powerful, but not quite pulling it off. Will have to wait to hear a live rendition before I could say if it’ll qualify...

Valentina's score: L'Albanie, 6 Points

Monty -
It just doesn’t seem to go anywhere, despite its big build up into a prolonged wail, but once Linda Halloumi gets on stage and we can see her giving it some I suspect this may transfer into something that feels very different to this studio version. If any country can turn wailing into a stunning presentation it’s Albania, after all. Though I’m not convinced even the most magnetic of stage presences can see this through to the final.

Read Monty's full Countdown review

Monty's score: 6 Points

3 COMMENTS

  1. Are you having your own version of JBJ of ESCinsight?

    I have to apologize in advance – Some of the songs, I have reviewed on the original JBJ, so I might repeat my self:)

    Sweden – Plastic, plastic and again plastic, that’s what I get when hearing this presumed song. It’s monotonic as a song based on 1 accord can be (it didn’t stop them winning in 2015, though) and like last year I have a feeling that it gets so much love, just because it’s a Swedish song. If it would have come from a different country it would have perceived as shallow and uninspiring.
    And about the staging – Didn’t Greece used something similar on one of Sakis Rouvas’ gigs?

    Georgia – A good Bond song need a good singer. Someone that can carry a tune and help lifting the song a bit. The song is not a good Bond song and she is not a good singer. Neither she has the range to carry the song and somehow it seems that the song was written to someone with a different voice range. Right now this sounds like a car crash waiting to happen.

    Australia – One of Eurovision rules is that a song should be memorable after first listen. I’ve already listened 6 times to this one and I still can’t remember how this one goes. It just forgettable and that’s not a good sign for a song that require to impress in 3 minutes.
    And someone will need to explain me why a 17 years old guy need to sound so depressing.

    Albania – It starts quiet promising but than the bombastic arrangement kick in and she start wailing and she just lost me. I think it’s a song that had a potential but the the potential got lost in translation in the actual song.

  2. Just noticed one thing during the Georgian song which was one of the headlines in the newspapers was “Russia invades Georgia”. I wonder if that is going to be allowed to make the final cut in whatever background presentation is put in place for this song in Kyiv. The EBU are already walking a tightrope here with this contest.

    • General comments
      Sweden – This is just dire and while I’m sure it will make the final it would serve Sweden right if it didn’t qualify. Although given they’ve hosted twice in the last few years I’m sure the bean counters in SVT will be quite happy with a mid-table finish.

      Georgia/Albania – Putting these two together because they are so similar in style. I know we’ve always had big female ballads in ESC but since Conchita the “faux James Bond” style ballad seems to be the choice in this style. Neither of these particularly grab me in any way. Couldn’t tell or care if they will make the final.

      Australia – It’s a pleasant song delivered by a nice looking young boy but unlike the last two entries for Oz this once really feels like it’s trying to hard. There’s nothing offensive about it and he has a decent voice but it really doesn’t make any impact.

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