>Eurovision 2009 Preview Reviews: Part 3

>Thought I had forgotten about Pooty-poot’s sing-a-long?

Here comes round 3 of the Preview videos.

Greece: Original video. Now, I like Il Rouvas. He seems genial, a bit of a George Clooney (read into that what you will), comfortable as a performer, and quite frankly he didn’t embarrass himself as a presenter as much as my fellow American did. He’s also good looking, knows it, but doesn’t come across as arrogant. Putting all these ingredients together, you’d think that a Greek win this year would be a foregone conclusion. Not quite. Onto the video: A meteorite hits a stage and out appears Sakis (Sakis as Superman? Oy.) Sakis shoots smouldering looks at the camera as he sings. He also does that stomp-wanting-to-strut dance that looks like he’s trying to find the nearest bathroom. Apropos of nothing we see a bunch of happy-go-lucky youths waving at each other happily in front of some ruins. (Stock footage from 2006?) Wait? They do have a purpose, as they witness another meteor shower that yields…the lead singer from Next Time? Cut to Sakis who is doing his best impression of the choreography from Thriller. I have to wonder what they are going for with this video, because combined with the lyrics it seems to suggest that it’s the rallying cry for a bunch of Sakis clones to invade Earth. Catchy song, but there’s just some spark missing that will likely keep it from getting the top spot.

Croatia: “Original” video. Quotation marks are due to the fact that it’s more of a montage complied from Dora footage with the studio track on top of it. I am beginning to think that Croatia needs another good stomp-your-feet number a la Severina, Vanna, Doris Dragovic, or even Claudia soon. How many more of these drowsy ballads can the Eurovision public take? Anyway, Igor is good looking, and certainly giving the song his all, while Andrea struts along side and looks pretty. It’s not horrible, but it’s not remarkable amongst the plethora of other “not horrible” songs this years. Unlikely to bother the voters come Saturday.

Serbia : National final performance. Comedy entries are always a gamble, moreso when you have to get the humour across linguistic lines. This year Serbia sends it’s first upbeat song and it’s about an old shoe, although the lyrics (courtesy of the ever trustworthy Diggiloo Thrush) suggest that this is a metaphor for either a spouse, nation, or both. Anyway, we see a man playing an accordion as another man with wild orange hair (straight from Ideon) struts onstage with a suitcase, I am guessing this is Marko Kon. Marko proceeds to let out a singing voice that sounds like a 3 minute long burp. The backing singers (3 bald/shaven men) do some robot movements, Marko smiles, and I guess if we all understood Serbian humour, we’d be chuckling. Marko gives Milaan (the accordion player?) some money. He owes me some. While I’m very happy that Serbia has broken that run of ballads, I don’t think that a comedy song that depends heavily on the Serbian sense of humour is going to go all that far on an international show.

Portugal : National final performance. After the dramatics of Vania last year, Portugal has decided to go back to its slightly lively roots with Flor-de-lis. This is a gamble itself. The song is pretty much in the “I love you, let me count the ways and metaphors” school, and performed energetically, but it’s still a bit low key. Just when you think it’s building up to go somewhere, the song drops back to slow and quiet. While I’m tempted to write it off, I reckon I just can’t. (Even with Portugal between Finland and Malta in the running order.)

Ireland: Original video! Black Daisy wait for Sinead to get to the studio, stewing. I notice that the band’s drummer looks like Alya, which is a good sign in my book. They start playing. Sinead (who somewhat looks like a young Dawn French) wakes up and does her morning routine. This is also where I notice that the liberal amounts of pink and black, combined with the very 1980’s synth pop/rock sound of the song, make me think of the Go-Gos. It’s very cute, catchy, and engaging. I don’t think it’ll win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes it to Saturday.

Switzerland: Original video (well, there was no final). If Ireland is trying to have a 80s revival, then Switzerland is aiming for a 90s one. The video is borrowing heavily from/influenced by U2 Rattle & Hum, lots of stage smoke and silhouettes. Until the singer starts singing, and then it’s Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit video, minus the cheerleaders. The singer even looks a bit like Kurt Cobain. The song, however, is more in the Soul Asylum/Ned’s Atomic Dustbin/Lightning Seeds vein. Comrades, almost twenty years later after it started and nearly a decade after it faded, grunge has finally come to Eurovision. It’s a bit hard to tell, but I don’t see any of the Lovebugs wearing any flannel, so perhaps it’s not a total revival. Still, they certainly have the seemingly deep, but nonsensical lyrics down pat. I actually quite like this, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that nostalgia certainly plays a role. I’d like to think Switzerland might make it to the final, but they’re between Andorra and Turkey, so it could go either way for them.

Montenegro: Original video (Montenegro is now 3 for 3 with original videos.) While most of the Ex-Yu countries have dropped the proverbial ball this year (except for Slovenia, who always do their own thing, thankfully), Montenegro surprisingly has come up with a big old disco stomper. The video is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s Ukrainian entry Shady Lady crossed with George Michael’s Fastlove and a healthy dose of Samo Ljubezen. If that spells homoerotic campfest to you, then you’re right on target. Pretty much, Andrea is the only female present while assorted photogenic men in various states of dress dance and brood around her. The story, from what I can ascertain, is that Andrea is tormented by a bunch of go-go boys who enjoy playing with her emotions. If I can be blunt, Andrea is the proverbial fag hag who is being strung along, not that I think that depth is really necessary. Like last year, Montenegro opens the whole contest, but I think this time they will go to the final as well. (Daring prediction: Montenegro and Slovenia are the only Ex-Yu countries to make it to Saturday.)

Latvia : Original video (dubbing over the national final performance would look daft). Like the Serbian entry, this is another song that relies heavily on linguistic ability in order to fully get it, but unlike the Shoe men, the music and performance manage to bridge the gap. The video is also kindly subtitled. Intars, driving, wails against traffic jams. Interspersed are scenes of him and his band practicing this (Russian) version of the song. This song and video do have a slight late 80s feel (think wham! meets the Talking Heads), and Intars intense and engaging performance style work heavily in its favour. I still think the Latvian version sounds better, but the final product isn’t too shabby either. I’d definitely like to see Latvia make it to the final, and I think their chances are high, although it may be at the expense of Ireland (who perform right before Latvia).

Norway: National final performance (I can’t remember the last time Norway has had an original video.) Call your dentist, because this is going to be a sugary overload of pop/folk. The three male dancers do their leaps and kicks, Alexander plays his fiddle and chirps out an upbeat song about romantic disillusion. He is very talented and engaging as a performer, and even though the performance and song have a bit of the local carnival performance feel about them, it doesn’t harm it at all. A dark horse to finish high (Norway is between no-hopers Cyprus and Poland, so it would be a shock if they don’t make it to Saturday.)

Slovakia : Original video (it’s their comeback, so it’s got to be a bit splashy) Do upbeat songs flop on the Slovakian charts? Their endless selection process had next to none, and their previous entries seem to be a bunch a pleading ballads asking fate to right various wrongs. Anyway, for their big return they have two singers belting out a plea to “fly through the darkness.” The video is another spin on “original,” as it features clips (I’m going to assume from the national final) of the pair singing while a bunch of well-dressed people pose looking tormented/bored/stoned around a cellist and a pianist. In a very ballad heavy year, this is probably amongst the best (on par with France and the UK), mostly because they are having the musical equivalent of a breakdown onstage (and you don’t need to know Slovak to necessarily come to that conclusion). Slovakia is between Cyprus and Denmark, and I think it highlights the weaker aspects of both. Whether that translates into a spot on Saturday, I don’t know. I do think the jury pick might help them in a pinch.

Ukraine : Original video (if you’ve seen the performance already, then you only have an inkling of what is in store). The video like the entry itself is like one big massive psychedelic trip that you aren’t exactly sure that you want to take. Before we take this journey, let me frame this song again: It’s absurd, and not so much in the dismissive sense of the word but absurd in the way Dadaist art is absurd. There is no logic here save for this is a woman singing a song in something approximating the English language. Alright? Here we go: Lots of quick shots of crotches (male and female) in loincloths, while Svetlana climbs a ladder. It looks like we’re in an arena of some sort, and there is a woman dangling above in some metal/steel circular thing. Next thing, there’s quick shots of Svetlana thrusting through some chocolate covered goo, as well as her dressed like a slutty police officer. (Georgia got booted out for lyrics, but this is considered family friendly?) Note, the song has yet to actually start. When it does, we see Svetlana shimmy in a bikini or very brief lingerie, interspersed with dark goo (which could be chocolate or blood, to be honest) flowing past her lips. More writhing in chocolate. Svetlana starts singing and I have to abandon any pretense of trying to describe this in a coherent manner. It’s Svetlana in chocolate, Svetlana writhing around with a bunch of grey-skinned men, a kiwifruit being smashed, Svetlana swallowing a strawberry, more fruit being smashed. I have to call it quits before 90 seconds are over. Did that make sense? No. As for the song itself, it’s like someone took Show Me Your Love and Wild Dances, gave them both massive amounts of steroids, and gave it to a woman with an accent that is hard for Anglophones to understand. Having seen the live version, I honestly cannot say how this will do. It’s either going to go down well with the voters or ignored, being between Albania and Estonia (both quiet and relatively sane entries) just makes it stand out even more. I would not be surprised if Ukraine is out of the top 10 for the first time since 2005 this year.

Poland : Original video. After Svetlana, the relative tranquility of Lidia’s unassuming ballad is welcome. The video has Lidia staring into a mirror, and then staring out into the great unknown. The song is about asserting one’s maturity, so to speak (think I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman, but less overt with the sexual aspect). Lidia’s voice is beautiful to hear, but the song still seems a little devoid of emotional power given the subject matter. It’s almost as if she wants to really belt it out and bring the crazy, but can’t. Unfortunately, that might cost Poland come voting time, especially coming in between Serbia’s joke that few people get and Norway’s onslaught of cute.

I’m still recovering from that Ukrainian preview.

Next time: The Czech Republic tries Gypsy Rap (apparently they were the fun-lovers in Czechoslovakia), Moldova name checks itself a million times, Andorra sends a Dane with a guitar, a ton of charm, and an antisocial message, this year’s latest controversial Israeli entry, and perhaps, perhaps Turkey (who presented their entry around New Year’s) might have a preview video up.

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One comment

  1. Anonymous · April 2, 2009

    >i still say, “go malta!”full disclosure: i have no connection to malta whatsoever, except that i once met an astralian of maltese descent in london. i just like the idea of a tiny (almost inconsequential) country punching above its weight despite the odds.

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