We’re still here – unlike the Russians if you believe what you read everywhere. OnEurope’s pundits continue to delight with ill-informed ramblings about the songs competing in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. We know you can do better. We know you’ll accuse us of bias and being dreadfully unfair, but we also don’t care. We’re buying eggs to smear down our faces already.
Today, it’s the second part of the first semi-final. We’ll hear these songs on 9 May.
Belgium – Blanche – City lights
Phil – I don’t actually know what to make of this song. It sounds like something else (and I’m sure one of you will tell me what it is) and when I realised that it was Blanche and not The Script singing, I couldn’t match the voice with the girl in the video. They also clearly have council estates in Brussels as well, given this is filmed in one, but the song just passes me by. It doesn’t have anything to hook me, and it sounds a bit uninspiring, like she’s going through the motions. There are people that like this a lot. Sadly, though, I can’t appreciate the song as for me, it’s just three minutes of droning.
Phil’s score: a monotonic 2 Points
Mo – It’s terribly Lana del Ray, Mr Phil. It’s probably one of the few songs I can see me listening to post contest this year. I love the build, and I’m assured she’s quite decent live – although at the London Eurovision thingy recently, people used the phrase ‘rabbit in the headlights‘. This is all going to come down to the staging. ‘City Lights’ is one of the few songs I find myself humming tunelessly, much to the chagrin of Mr Fanning. Remember Lena dumbfounded the old ‘uns with her song a few years back. Blanche could do much the same.
Mo’s score: 10 Points
Valentina – I’m pretty much between Phil and Mo here (easy!) Part of me listens to this song and thinks it’s just dull electronic noise, but on another listen I’m left feeling that there maybe more to it. Monotone it might be, but it’s a simple and does worm its way into your mind… I suspect this will be one to watch on the night. I think a friend described it best by saying “this is what I imagine Berlin sounds like at 1am” – actually a very succinct summary!
Valentina’s score: Le Belgique – 5 Points
Monty – The song bids a leap of faith: is her lover ready to commit and take that big step forward together? It’s delivered with a bit of understated electronica which creates a terrific mood that’s a most welcome addition to this year’s line-up. Like others handed this gig so early in their careers though Blanche is something of an unknown quantity on such an enormous stage as Eurovision. Her Voice Belgique was somewhat short-lived and from clips I’ve dug out she doesn’t seem to be the most engaging of performers so this is going to need to be well thought through when it comes to how it’s staged. Ultimately that could be the factor that makes or breaks it, but for now, on the audio, this is to be fully enjoyed.
Monty’s score: 10 Points
Montenegro – Slavko Kalezić – Space
Phil – Charlie says “never cross the road with strangers” … Phil also says “never listen to songs like this”. If Billy Butlin was alive today he’d realise that his camp was not as good as this. I don’t even know where to begin with how much I personally hate this song but, it’s not what I like it’s what they like. Slavko is clearly angling towards one particular constituency, but there is more than the poofs that watch a Tuesday night semi final, and if the lyrics aren’t a metaphor for bumming then I don’t know what is.
Phil’s Score: a haemorrhoid-inducing 1 Point
Mo – I never really got the whole Paul Oskar thing way back when. This is down there with it. He might as well get his knob out and be done with it. I’m sure I’ll hear it in the sort of dodgy bars I tend to frequent and convince myself I like it, but sitting here on a dull March afternoon, I don’t. It feels like the sort of song that works in the studio and that will look a shit storm on telly. And that’s twice I’ve used dubious language now. Sorry.
Mo’s score: 6 Points
Valentina – I would say “Get behind me, Satan!” but I’m pretty sure I don’t want him anywhere near me, let alone behind me!! I felt physically uncomfortable listening to this song for the first time and the lyrics make me cringe. I’m sure the performance will be something outrageous/graphic/censored and I suspect that while this may get votes in huge numbers from the public, the juries will try to bludgeon it to death in the semi. You’ve got your suit on – I’ve got my rape alarm.
Valentina’s score: Le Monténégro – 5 Points
Monty – The heavily sexualised imagery is justified by the lyrical content, which is gloriously, unabashedly celebratory about shagging. It oozes dodgy metaphor from every pore: wet dreams, explosions, and an invitation to come into him from within. I’m just about to stage a sexual health intervention warning of the risks with barebacking when Slavko reassures us he “has his suit on, no need to worry” which I’m taking to believe means he’s all rubbered up. And all this over a fantastic dance beat giving us one of the most ridiculous but unashamedly queer entries in years. I fucking love it!
Monty’s score: 12 Points
Finland – Norma John – Blackbird
Phil – Seven songs in and this is not a classic song, but it is wrist-slittingly beautiful. The songs titular subject does get some abuse in this song: don’t sing there, go away, I love you, don’t sing … It’s like the new RSPB hate anthem! What it does have, however, is a melancholic tinge, and a preview video about suicide (it seems). I suspect it won’t get very far in a contest context.
Phil’s score: An artery spurting 2 Points
Mo – Fans always seem to favour Finland more than seems right and this year is no exception. That said, YLE have entered much worse. Out of context -away from Eurovision – I see some appeal in a Clannad/Mary Black sort of market. This little birdie may just about poke its head above the qualification line given some of the utter shite surrounding it. It’s the kind of song I can see myself losing interest in very quickly on the night, a sort of ‘pass me those crisps’ song.
Mo’s score: A bird-brained 4 Points
Valentina – Now this is stunning. Yes, it is a morose little ditty and will have jilted lovers across Europe sobbing into their sofa cushions come May (or possibly leaping from their windows…) but if you’re a fan of dark ballads, then you’re in for a real treat! My one critique would be that I’d like to see a little more of a key change or crescendo at the end, but other than that it’s sublime. Have no idea what song Phil and Mo were listening too…
Valentina’s score: La Finlande – 10 Points
Monty – The poignancy of the song could lend itself to a darker interpretation, in much the same vein as A Monster Like Me. This is gorgeous! Leena’s vocals are beautiful, and as the song progresses Lasse’s sublime piano break adds something extra special. I don’t know if this will have enough appeal to have a stab at a second victory for Finland, but I hope it does. It deserves as high a Finnish finish as it can get.
Monty’s score: 12 Points
Azerbaijan – Dihaj – Skeletons
Phil – She’s emptied them all out of her cupboards and has come up with a good one. The song is written by one of the people that wrote “Running Scared”, but this one is much better. A proper pop song that hasn’t been over produced. Looks like kneehigh Dihaj can sing it live too. I like the chorus, but the middle eight is a bit pointless, and could have been made more of. Overall, it’s got a decent shout at the top ten on merit, rather than by having its friends help it.
Phil’s score: Her thigh bone is connected to her … knee bone … 7 Points
Mo – Can’t help but love the drama of this one – and sure, there is a touch of the Robbie Williams Rhyming Dictionary going on here, but it’s never done him any harm has it? Perhaps the chorus could have been stronger, the verses promised so much more. The end really works for me. I’d stick my neck out and say this will be in there on the big night. My only slight (really slight) reservation is whether Dihaj and her alternative look fits with what is at heart quite a traditional pop song. Another one where staging could make or break.
Mo’s score: dem bones, dem bones 10 Points
Valentina – Now this one blew me away from the first listen. Dark, sultry, edgy… this is easily the best Azeri entry for a good few years and I’m confident it’ll do well in the final. My one *tiny* gripe with this song is the final line “I’m a skeletons”…. having a fantastic Eurovision entry is no excuse for poor grammar 😉
Valentina’s score: L’Azerbaïdjan 8 Points
Monty – Dihaj (Diana Haciyeva) is almost unrecognisable from her attempt to represent Azerbaijan in 2011, which included an appearance where Elnur Huseynov appeared from a Christmas present to cavort around Diana and mumble some backing vocals. Then she covered Lady Gaga and Ukraine’s Alyosha, but now she’s giving us a slice of modern pop that without the dreaded Eurovision tag wouldn’t sound out of place in the UK charts. I don’t think it’s strong enough to tilt for a win, but it’s another strong and solid entry for a country with one of the strongest records in their 10-year history, never missing the final, and with a run of 6 top 10 placings. This could well see them back there this year.
Monty’s score: 10 Points