Thursday, March 30, 2017

AMIR RELEASES AU COEUR DE MOI VIDEO

Last year Amir took France back to Eurovision success and became himself one of the most succesful artists in France in 2016 with his hit album and Eurovision track J'ai cherché and follow up single On direit. The album also includes Oasis. Now it's time to hit another success with the title track of the album, Au coeur de moi. The video gives plenty of images if you happen to have a foot fetish. I don't but I know some you do.... Enjoy!


ESC 2017 REVIEW - LITHUANIA (37): FUSEDMARC - RAIN OF REVOLUTION

Pictured is Lithuania's national flower rue

Fusedmarc won the 11 week long national selection process starting as an outsider but getting better results every time they performed (4th, 3rd, 1st). In the final they won both the televote and the jury vote resulting in a convincing win and leaving the fan favorites home. Their song Rain of revolution is written by Denis Zujev, Viktoria Ivanovskaja and Michail Levin.

Fusedmarc is an alternative electric pop group with a strong visual image made of lead vocalist Viktorija Ivanovskaja, multi-instrumentalist Denis Zujev, and visual designer Stasys Žakas. Their debut album - and the only one so far it seems - was released in 2005 and earned them an award as the breakthrough artist of the year. Other awards have followed and they seem to be considered some kind of pioneers in what's fresh and new in music in Lithuania. Over the years they have performed all over Europe.

The song is a strong contrast to how the band describes itself, as new and fresh and alternative. The song is a retro pop straight from the 80's, nothing new, nothing special. Been there, heard it. In the 80's. It has it's moments and nice rhythm, and Viktorija's experience on stage shows. For some reason I'm thinking of latest Madonna productions and her love revolution propaganda. And I prefer her. 2/10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

EUROVISION 2017: THE RUSSIA VS. UKRAINE SAGA

Oh boy. Poor EBU. Poor Jon Ola Sand. I'm sure he needs a proper holiday once this drama is over. And I'm sure secretly he's hoping some less demanding country will win in May!

Let's start from the beginning. Russia waited til last minute to reveal their cards and whether they will participate at all in Kyiv 2017 and on March 12 announced it's going to be Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning (my review of the song here

It didn't take long the Eurovision fandome ridiculed Russia's decision to send a fragile girl in a wheelchair with a sugary ballad to avoid possible booing and making Ukraine look bad should they ban her.

And that's exactly what happened on March 22: Ukrainian authorities isssued a travel ban on the Russian artist as she had illegally entered the annexed Crimea (in other words entering without passing via Ukraine) and even apparently posted anti-Ukrainian propaganda in her social medias. According Ukrainian law a criminal act.

Russia was ready to call that decision cynical and inhuman and was ready to boycott the contest and not to broadcast it all unless she's permitted to take part. One can only speculate how well planned this all was as all of sudden Ukraine was the evil and Russia the victim. And hours later they had already planned her a Russian wide tour to promote her ahead of Eurovision 2018! As it seems they are ready to send her there next year if this year isn't working out.

EBU stated they are deeply disappointed but have to respect local laws and said they would continue the dialogue with those two countries to get everyone abroad in Kyiv.

On March 23 EBU proposed a solution "to maintain the non-political nature of the contest" to let Julia perform live via satellite. Soon came the answer from Deputy prime minister Kyrylenko stating that tours and TV shows with persons non grata are not allowed in Ukraine. The only solution is the replacement of the participant from Russia. And now that is not allowed in the EBU rules...

Later the same night Channel One Russia has rejected the offer. "We consider the proposal of remote participation strange and reject it, since it, of course, contradicts the very meaning of the event, the strict rule of which is the live performance on the stage of the Eurovision."

At this point we can only say & hope:

On March 25 Jon Ola Sand  told they have proposed Ukraine to set the ban only after the Eurovision for Julia, and Ukraine promptly declined it but the negotiations go on. Sand also confirmed several national broadcasters have contacted them to get things right and stated:
"The decision is taken by the security authorities, who have to follow the laws as they are, but we will appeal to the Prime Minister and the Government of Ukraine to overturn the decision, so that any travel ban will only come into force after the Eurovision Song Contest. Our main goal remains that the Russian participant comes on stage in Kiev in May. We are working hard."
Meanwhile Director General Carlo Romeo of SMRTV has stated: "As a State broadcaster does not we agree on the behavior of the organizers in Ukraine to the Russian competitor. We do not care if it’s a conspiracy or a Russian provocation, the Eurovision  (Song Contest) should be a neutral ground."
Also the Danish Jan Lagermand Lundme has voiced his concern about the situation and the preparations: "It is practically unbearable. I know that the EBU takes it very seriously, they should take no shit . The justification for that Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest is of course that we have a place where we can meet across borders and differences, It is clear that I am concerned on behalf of the Danish TV viewers. We must demand to get some decent TV shows. There will certainly be a show, but we do not know how it is. It suggests that things are a bit out of control."

On March 26 Reference Group chairman Frank-Dieter Freiling told to a German newspaper that they are still waiting for the final decision by the Ukrainian government and that the discussion with Russia continues. But then: "One thing we noted before the ban is that the Russian delegation did not take part in mandatory previewing sessions and did not reserve any accommodation, in contrast to all other delegations. Russia has to make its participation clear, just as we make must make it possible for them." This blogger thinks Russia has no intention to take part, they are just playing with all of us..... No further comment.

On March 27 the German Thomas Schreiber, Head of Entertainment for ARD said “The Russian Broadcaster knew too well who they had chosen, and the Ukrainian authorities knew just as well what they were doing. This is a feud on a public stage.” He points out the Russian participation is the main goal and EBU should just keep trying to find a solution.
EBU spokesperson Dave Goodman confirms the dialogu continues to find a way out of this situation. He said the situation is not nice and "Russia’s participation is possible, Russia’s withdrawal is also possible if the two sides can’t come together. It would be nice if the EBU could find a way so that both parties involved can safe face. A solution that makes clear the the Eurovision Song Contest is exactly what the title says: A song contest and nothing else”.

On March 29 EBU's Swiss General Director Ingrid Deltenre, who will step down from her role this summer, appears rather furious in an interview she gave to Swiss Sonntagsblick: "This behavior of Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable," she says while negotiating with the only two men who can let Julia in Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hrojsman and President Petro Poroshenko. "I deeply regret the fact that the ESC is being abused for political action. The Eurovison Song Contest is supposed to delight and bring together millions of people; it must not be used to incite them against each other." If no solution is reached in the next few weeks, the top TV woman in Europe is already announcing sanctions against Ukraine: a temporary exclusion from the Eurovision Song Contest. This blogger is only asking why not ban Russia? After all it started the whole affair.....

Waiting for the next move....

To be continued....


FRANCE: EUROVISION TO BE SHOWN IN CINEMAS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY

France is living some kind of Eurovision  fever after Amir's success last year and Alma is set to follow her friend's footsteps on the left side of the scoreboard for sure. And French fans can get their pop corn, 8 euro ticket and a souvenir postcard signed by Alma, sit back on cinema's comfortable chairs and enjoy the show on megascreen and great audio in the 39 CGR Cinema Multiplexes all over the country. 
France is promoting this as the first ever "Eurovision in cinema" in the contest 62 years of history but that's not quite true. It's true in this dimension, of course, but some OGAE clubs have been watching the show in a proper cinema before.....

ESC 2017 REVIEW - BELARUS (38): NAVI BAND - HISTORYJA MAJHO ZYCCIA

Pictured is Belarusian national flower Common flax

NaviBand won the Belarusian national final on January 20. They won the juryvote but the televoters only placed them 5th but it was enough to secure their win ahead of Nuteki, who was just behind of them in both votes while the other votes spread all over the place. 

NaviBand aka Arciom Lukjanienka (25) and Ksienija Žuk (26) already tried to get to Eurovision last year but finished 4th in the national final. Now they won and are quite popular in the pre-contest polls. They have been making music together for four years have just released their third album. All their music is performed in Belarusian language and this Eurovision entry makes no difference. 

The song? Well, thankfully it's in native language and it's not some Mello reject. But it's shouty and not the right kind of shouty like Ruslana's Wild dances was. I'm not a fan. I know I'd like to like this a lot more than I do but I can't. I find this a bit messy and irritating, like if they are in a terrible rush to get somewhere but they always lose the way when they start shouting around instead. 2/10

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

EUROVISION 2017: ONLY FOUR NON-ENGLISH SONGS

Obrigazo Portugal, grazie Italia, köszönöm Magyarországon and дзякуй Беларусі! 

Only four countries this year rely on their own national language: Portugal, Italy, Hungary and Belarus. France and Spain both have added English to their song and Croatia some Italian to the otherwise English mix. 
That's quite a drop from 2013 when 17 songs were not in English, but then in 2014 the change came when only four did so (plus four mixed ones), in 2015 five (and two mixed ones) and last year three (and five mixed ones).
I throw in an idea: When Eurovision has its 65th edition let's make it special: Bring back the language rule for one year. If United Kingdom or Ireland wins again, you can then drop it for good, the point is proven for once and for all. No excuses. 
All this said 2017 could be the year when non English song will win for the first time since Helsinki 2007's Serbian Molitva... Maybe. 


*We can't forget that United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Malta also sing in their official language, only it being English but hey, that doesn't count really in this case, does it?

ESC 2017 REVIEW - THE NETHERLANDS (39): OG3NE - LIGHTS AND SHADOWS

Pictured is the Netherlands national flower tulip

OG3NE aka the sister trio Lisa, Amy & Shelley Vol (aged 21-22) were internally chosen to represent The Netherlands this year. The song Lights and shadows was announced later, it's written by Rick Vol (their father) and Rory De Kievit. 

The trio is no stranger to Eurovision as they already did the Junior Eurovision ten years ago. Later they made themselves known in The Voice of Holland that they won. They have released three albums, the latest released in fall 2016 hitting #1 in the Dutch charts. 

The song is based on various harmonies with their voices and the girls sure can sing well together and have pretty voices. But the song is so 80's American nonsense, they could have done so much better I suppose. I'm bored already after the first chorus and it doesn't get any better and for me it's a very long three minutes. Uninteresting, boring, unoriginal and highly forgettable. With a good staging this could come alive though. Maybe. Propably not. Therefor 2/10

Monday, March 27, 2017

ITALY: OVER 80 MILLION VIEWS FOR OCCIDENTALI'S KARMA

Francesco Gabbani's three official videos have gathered already over 80 million views already. The official video on Vevo is nearing 75 million, the live from Sanremo on eurovision.tv nearing 5,5 million and the 3 minutes Eurovision version on eurovision.tv is over 0,4 million. And the numbers keep growing every day.... one can only wonder what they are in May!
And then there are dozens of parodies, covers, unofficial remixes and the videos from his live performance this weekend in Coca Cola Onstage awards, where he was invited to perform while fellow Eurovision stars Marco Mengoni and Emma picked up awards. While scimmia nuda balla.....
Meanwhile he has added new dates and cities to his summer tour in Italy 
and tickets are selling fast....

06/07 Fontaneto D'Agogna (NO) - Open Air Festival
16/07 Molfetta (BA) - Luci e suoni a Levante - Anfiteatro di Ponente
21/07 Firenze - MusArt Festival - Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
28/07 Palermo - Teatro di Verdura
29/07 Zafferana Etnea (CT) - Anfiteatro Falcone e Borsellino
09/08 Alassio (SV) - Riviera music fest - Porto Turistico Luca Ferrari
18/08 Lecce - Piazza Libertini 
19/08 Caulonia Marina (RC) - Piazza Bottari
25/08 Castagnola Delle Lanze (AT) - Festival “Contro” - Piazza San Bartolome

ESC 2017 REVIEW - CROATIA (40): JACQUES HOUDEK - MY FRIEND

Pictured the national flower of Croatia, iris

Jacques Houdek (36) was internally chosen to represent his country with My friend, a song he co-wrote with Tony Roberth Malm, Siniša Reljić, Arjana Kunštek, Fabrizio Laucella and Ines Prajo.

Željko, who likes to be called Jacques, is a familiar name in Eurovision world and in the Balcan area. He has studied in the Berklee Collage of Music in California, and in France, Italy and Greece. He has tried to get to Eurovision many times before failing to win the national final: 2002-2006 every year. Then again in 2011 when he lost in the final match to Daria Kinzer to sing Lahor/Celebrate. He has also tried his luck in the UK in Open Mic UK and X Factor. He has been recording artist since 2004 and has collected a pile of silver, gold and platinum discs. But music isn't his only interest.
He has been involved in politics supporting conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and later supported a populist mayor candidate. Afterwards he said he's apolitical and those where only work. Ok.
He has also been named The Homophobe of the Year in 2006 and nominated as the Homophobe of the Decade in 2011 for his remarks that gay people cannot be equal to others and saying same sex marriage is sick, earning him the questionable title of "the biggest homophobe in the Croatian showbiz". He has stated later he has nothing against love of any kind and he's very gay friendly. Ok.

Well, what about the song? First hearing I thought it's kinda funny, bizarre but in a good way. The second hearing left we totally irritated. In a bad way. This is bad. But not bad enough to be good. A joke. The singing in two voices is maybe liked by someone but not me. And these fake pop operas with Italian lyrics put together from love letters and pizza menus are so corny and cliché I have no words. Il Volo is art compared to this cheapness. Actually I dare to listen to this only third time now when writing this review and no, it's not getting any better. 1/10 from me.  And yes, it's all Frozen in some lines. A bit too much. Let it go, let it gooooo....


Sunday, March 26, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - ALBANIA (41): LINDITA - WORLD


Pictured above is also poppy, Albania's national flower



Lindita Hamili (28) was the first chosen artist and song this year when she won the Festivali i Këngës on December 23, 2016 with clear numbers. She sung in Albanian of course, and it took months before Botë was transformed into World, but this time the song hasn't gone major changes but the language, refreshed arrangement, mixing and fitting it into the 3 minutes rule. The song is written by Klodian Qafoku and Gerard Xhari.

Lindita was born in Kosovo and has made her career through various talent shows from Albanian Idol to American Idol passing through local Top Fest that she has won twice, and other talent shows. Her first attempt in the Albanian selection was in 2009 and then again two year's ago finishing then third. She has released 15 singles since 2007 but no album yet. 

The song is yet another ballad, like some would say. For once it makes no difference if it's in Albanese or in English, I don't get it either way. The piano in the beginning is wonderful, but when the song progress I like it less and less just like her voice gets louder and the notes longer. Sadly I don't even like her voice particularly even if she does belt out some notes. I think it's very messy from the half way through with the choir and not going really anywhere. If it's a metaphora of today's world that is a mess then she really nails it. But it's not for me. Therefor only 1/10

Gadget

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