Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.15

Sweden - Eric Saade - Popular ****
Swedes know how to do a great show for sure. Eric is a great performer and has Carola-like will to succeed that comes across and will make people vote for him as they're going to be afraid not to. But what is left of this puzzle kind of song (a bit of this, a bit of this....) when Eric needs to sing live for real? Drop the extra dancers? Do they have to change the backing dancers to ones who can also sing (like Malena)? Time will tell. Not as big a pre-contest favourite by fans as expected but hey, maybe that's a good sign!? Qualifier: Yes.

Ok folks. This concludes the 2011 songs. I am most propably wrong with everything. After predicting great things to Sweden last year I'm not feeling to most confident predictor this year (even if I got it right in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2003, almost in 2006, 2005, 2004 and was totally lost in 2002, 2001, 2000.... Maybe these early years of a decade don't work for me?)

So, re-reading what I have predicted over the last two weeks the qualifiers from the first semi are: Armenia, Azerbaijan,  Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Turkey with Albania, Croatia, Georgia and Serbia as reserves.
In the second semi they will be Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Moldova, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden with Cyprus, Romania and Slovenia as reserves.
I may change my ideas once the rehearsals start and we see the final package..... :-)

Israel: Ding dong remixed

The new mix of the Israeli entry Ding dong has been released. As expected Dana International has turned the beat up and there are some new effects. I did also like the understated simplier original demo version.... Now let's see if they skip the lovely ladies, too and add some useless dancers?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.14

Bulgaria - Poli Genova - Na inat ****
I'm not crazu for this song but I must admit it has been one of the most played ones in my head. The chorus just kicks in when you least expect it. Is that a sign of a hidden catchiness? Will the televoters go for this? She's got the look and Pink-esque stage presense and I love the piano playing here and there. We might be in for a Bulgarian surprise? Qualifier: Yes.

Austria - Nadine Beiler - The secret is love ****
Ok, it's Disney but I don't think it's sugary. It's beautiful. She sings it nicely and when the gospel choir kicks in at 2 minutes I'm in love. Not a fan favourite I know but I like it. And this might just have a wider audience than we think now and make Austria reach the final since forever. But she needs a new look and haircut. Badly. Qualifier: I think so. 

Armenia - Emmy - Boom boom *
Such a shame they chose this crap when they had something good in the selection as well. This is boring and annoying but not in a good annoying way. In the league with Portugal that you tolerate when it's playing but you don't really care to listen to it ever again. But this is Armenia and unfortunately reached the final. Totally undeserved this time around. And Emmy isn't that great either if you compare to what Armenia has sent before... Qualifier: Unfortunately.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.13

Lithuania - Evelina Sašenko - C'est ma vie *
For me this is a total yawn. Nothing wrong with it I guess. Just a song heard about a zillion times, sung by a voice heard a million times with corny lyrics with some French thrown in. And Céline Dion or Lara Fabian she is not. No merci! Qualifier: No way. 

Israel - Dana International - Ding dong *****
Ok, I admit. This song's nothing special really, nor is she a good singer. But it works as a harmless pop song. It has quiet melancholy in it Dana potreys very well. It is catchy. A bit annoying, too, which is good in a competition like this. Yet I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't even make the final as the news she's a trans have worn out about 12 years ago. And those who are too young to remember 1998 just don't care anymore. Some have criticized the backing ladies, I think they are fabulous in their choreography - why should they all move in unison? Qualifier: I hope so. 

Denmark - A friend in London - New tomorrow **
The snippet sounded very promising but the whole song turned into a big disappointment for me. This is so heard-sp-many-times-before - and indeed there have been the talk of a plagiation. And I can say I don't even like that much the songs they say it is stolen from. Rather boring stadium rock anthem. But if Denmark scored so well last year with that nonsense this will then fly to the final as well. And totally undeserved in my books. Qualifier: I hope not.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ESC 2011 previews in Finland

YLE2 will have three preview shows this year starting from April 7 (from Poland to Iceland), April 14 (from Hungary to Bulgaria) and finally April 21 (from FYR Macedonia to Spain). Each show lasts 50 minutes and Tarja Närhi and Asko Murtomäki will be the hosts. FST5 or the Swedish speaking TV will have its own ones on April 29 and 30.

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.12

Bosnia-Herzegovina - Dino Merlin - Love in rewind *****
When I heard this for the first time I thought this is it, a possible winner. But Bosnia hasn't managed to win yet even if they have had some great songs. Could it be this time they have got it right: not too weird, not too ethnic but the right ingredients to be liked by everybody even if not the one that takes a lot of 12s but many 10s and 8s, enough to take it home in the end? Dino is a charismatic performer and there's enough of sing-a-long and a touch of weirdness to make this memorable. And he is wellknown in the Balcans to secure votes from all the neighbours - and don't talk about voting blocks this time when it is well deserved (just like Serbia 2007). It could just be so in the end. Qualifier: Sure.

Russia - Alexej Vorobjov - Get you **
Such a let down from Russia. This is propably the worst Russian entry since... well, last year excluding, 1995. The song's like a Melodifestivalen reject and Alexej is no Bilan nor Koldun. Uninteresting performer, uninteresting song that will be covered with a huge show on stage and Russia will fly to the final again. If they did it last year they will do it this time as well. Very long 3 minutes. Qualifier: Unfortunately.

Norway - Stella Mwangi - Haba haba ***
Well, I would like to give this zero as it is zero Norwegian and she can't really sing, can she? But she's fun to watch and comes across likable and the song's catchy sing-a-long entry that will get the whole arena jumping and makes good TV. But musically it is totally nothing. But if grandma told her little things make her happy so let her have a little result in the final. But winner? No way! Or is this the Kate Ryan of 2011? Qualifier: I suppose so.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Madness of love in the movies with De Niro

The Italian  return entry to the Eurovision song contest, Raphael Gualazzi's Madness of love/Follia d'amore is also featured in the new movie by Giovanni Veronesi. Manuale d'amore 3/Manual of love 3 is the last film of a trilogy dealing with Italian way of love starring Rober De Niro and Monica Bellucci. Watch the trailer here.

No one for Slovenia

No more Vanilija for Slovenia as Maja Keuc will sing in English in Germany. The song is now titled No one. But how came they can change it this late? Didn't they have to present the version to be performed in the EBU meeting earlier this month like everybody else? But who cares? This version is much more understandable and easier to catch on - and this said by someone who stands for national language entries!

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.11

Latvia - Musiqq - Angel in disguise ****
This is one of my favourites. I like the melody, the guitar, his voice. It's uplifting, groovy pop song, easy to sing along but... yet it never really takes the flight. A quality entry that will most likely pass unnoticed. I hope I am wrong. I'm not usually a fan of the Latvian entries but for once they have something I like and I'm afraid they will bomb! Let's see. Qualifier: Unlikely.

Portugal - Homens da luta - A luta é alegria *
I have tried to find a reason to like this, any reason. And I have found none. The melody isn't anything interesting, the lyrics, the artists, totally annoying in a bad way. Totally uninteresting. The only positive thing I can think about it the Portuguese language I love. Otherwise the biggest disappointment this year. But every year we must have a stupid entry and let Portugal have it for once. Usually they are so serious.... Qualifier: I hope not.

Estonia - Getter Jaani - Rockefeller Street ***
This is favourite my many but ... I find the ride on Rockefeller street kinda bouncing and rocky in an unpleasant way. Getter isn't that good. My candidate for Kate Ryan award but then what do I know? Qualifier: Most propably...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dima Bilan - the saga continues...

Eurovision 2008 winner Dima Bilan is still going strong in ex-Sovjet countries even if his career in English didn't quite take off (and where's the promised Spanish album?). His latest single Ya prosto lyublyu tebya (Я просто люблю теб or I just love you) is hot in the charts at least in mother Russia and Ukraine. There's also and oldfashioned a dance remix. And a live Youtube as well....

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.10

France - Amaury Vassili - Sognu ****
France keeps trying different styles and it is always good and refreshing, even if a strong French pop would be nice for a change, too. Especially as this entry is more Italian than French. More Italian than the Italian entry in fact, even sung in Corsican that most everyone will mistake as Italian anyways. This is when writing this leading the betting odds and I'd like to ask: What makes this so much better than Norway last year? Opera voiced pretty boy singing boombastic song? I wouldn't be surprised if this fails come mid-May but I hope not. Winner it is not, unless the few uptempo favourites eliminate each other which I doubt. Midtable. 

Serbia - Nina - Caroban ***
I should love this as I'm a big fan of 60's Motown girlbands but maybe that's where the problem is - it's fake 60's sound. Nina sings nicely, it is great they kept the original version instead of the English version and the song is kinda groovy. But something's missing - despite the lovely backing girls. Qualifier: Maybe.

Greece - Loucas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike - Watch my dance ****
Now this is something else. They have turned the usual rap+pop song upside down starting with the rap instead of the rapping coming in in the bridge or something. But somehow the rapping sounds a bit too long? The singing parts by Loucas are wonderful though. And Greece will fly to the final once again, no doubt. And it's so nice to have something different from Greece instead of those overcalculated songs we have had... Qualifier: I hope so.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Patricia Kaas: Autobiography, movie, album, world tour and ... Piaf!

It has been quiet in Patricia Kaas front since her Eurovision 2009 in Moscow with  Et s'il fallait le faire and the tour that continued after that. But now her next plans are out: a new album, a new spectacle and new world tour for 2012-2013! Kaas chante Piaf or she will finally take on Edith Piaf and sing her songs and play the part so often suggested to her, the only real heir of that musical legend Piaf is. 2013 marks also the 50th anniversary of Piaf's death and La Kaas will end her 45 countries world tour in L'Olympia in Paris in February 26-March 2, 2013. The album and tour will include Piaf classics like Mon légionnaire, L'accordéoniste, Les trois cloches, La vie en rose, La foule, Milord, Je ne regrette rien and Hymne à l'amour.
But before the album will be presented in NRJ Music Awards in Midem in Cannes later this spring she will release her autobiography called L'ombre de ma voix, and she also stars in Marc Ruscart's movie Noir désert.

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.9

Belgium - Witloof Bay - With love baby *
One star I hear you asking? Well, yes. I know they are good. The song isn't bad. But for me this is a toilet break song. And if their styling on stage follows the video styling I won't hurry back and will go and check the fridge as well. Qualifier: I hope not.

San Marino - Senit - Stand by ****
Senit is fantastic. The song could have been a bit powerful but it has a quiet quality that may not open to TV viewers until it's too late. I hope they would have a stronger backing than just one lovely Sammarinese girl - or is she just one of the choir? This is old-fashioned Eurovision as its best and almost alone in its genre this year. I hope it will be warded. Qualifier: I hope so!

Slovenia - Maja Keuc - No one ***
I remember I was kinda blown away while watching the Slovenian final with this song and her performance. But now I don't get it. And why's the preview video in Slovenian if she's going to sing it in English? Or is it only the title changed? Pretty she is and her left leg gets a lot of air time but... is it just a lot of drama? Or will she blow away the voters as well? Hard to tell... Qualifier: I have no idea!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Paradise Oskar: Album release in Germany

Paradise Oskar will release his debut album on May 4, 2011 in Dusseldorf. "Well, I happen to be in Germany that period and it would be a bit difficult to fly to Finland and have the release party here" he says laughing in an interview with YLE's Eurovision expert Sanna Kojo. 
"I'm aiming for the international market. My music is international". He also tells his life has been very hectic since he won the Finnish final and is really living in the moment, carpe diem. "I concentrate in what I am doing this very moment. I really don't have time to think what I just did or what I will be doing in a moment. There's no time for that!
Since he signed to Warner Music Finland he has been mostly in studio. "It has been very busy and we don't have much time but it only makes us work harder. Everybody's giving their most. All the songs are ready but recording takes time obviously. We need to get this album ready before Eurovision and hopefully it will be released also in other countries. Eurovision is such a big exposure." Axel has written all the songs himself: "I'm a storyteller. I sing about little everyday things, with a twist. A little bit love, how I see life and such.
The preparations for Eurovision start in Amsterdam in the beginning of April in Eurovision in concert happening: "It will be really cool to meet the other artists and get a touch of Eurovision beforehand. It's going to be fun!" He doesn't seem to be very concerned about his starting number ten "I don't care where I sing. I don't want to stress for useless things. May the best song win no matter with which number it is performed". He says he hasn't really followed the other selections in other countries except Sweden as he has been too busy. He looks forward meeting Erik who is just 5 days his junior. He hasn't also read any blogs or chat room comments. But friends have sent him some comments through Facebook and MySpace. 
Amongst the things he has done for the very first time is the preview video. "It was a bit too cold to do it outdoors so we went for the Botanical Gardens. It was hot and humid but it was a lot of fun. I did a lot of things I never did before!". How about the big event in May? "I'm just trying to take it easy and eat healthy. Nor I have I thought what I will be wearing, it doesn't interest me. Something casual. Maybe I will wash my jeans at least, lol. Nah, after all I am represanting my country so maybe I have to dress up a little. We'll see. It'll be just me and my Landola 1964 guitar. It's from a relative's boyfriend's father's old one. It gives a bad sound but looks good. Made in Finland. It gives a good feeling."
When he has free time - which he hasn't at the moment - he likes to read books, watch movies and cook. "My speciality is pasta con pesto, with bacon and garlic! I like generally Italian music but I like all sort of music. The Finnish home cooking is the best. And garlic! Garlic is always good! And I'm not into American action movies. I prefer European movies, especially German movies, a bit artsy. My favourite director is German Fatih Akin. In litterature I like a little bit political books, like George Orwell. But sometimes I also like to read something more entertaining like Dan Brown." And what will he take with him to Germany to read? "Something German I guess. I'm reading Heidi at the moment, maybe I take that! It's really good!" 
Axel grew up with his two bothers and one sister in the middle of forest by a lake. He wasn't interested in music as a kid but when he entered junior high school he started playing instruments and soon did nothing else. "When I was 13-14 I realized I was very bad in playing instruments as no one thought me so I had to start creating my own songs so no one couldn't say I play it all wrong and bad! I could say I wrote it and it goes like this. Lol."
Rest is history. Da da dam....

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.8

Croatia - Daria Kinzer - Celebrate ****
This one went from Lahor by Jacques Houdek to Daria to Break a leg and finally Celebrate. I think I liked a bit more the original softer Lahor/Break a leg version. I didn't go crazy for this one at first but it has grown to be one of my favourites, a good mood old fashioned Eurovision entry. But as I have said before it's will battle it out with Hungary and may lose. Qualifier: With a lot of luck.

Albania - Aurela Gaçe - Feel the passion **
Albania often reworks its songs so much you hardly recognise them anymore after the work out but this time Feel the passion and Kenga ime sound pretty much the same only underlining the fact the English version has lost the feeling of the song. To me it sounds pretty boring now and the stars went down. Aurela though will propably give all on stage and judging the preview video will look stunning. Will it be enough to bring it to the final? Maybe not. Qualifier: Will struggle

Belarus - Anastasiya Vinnikova - I love Belarus *
I love Belarus. I am Belarusian. Born in Belorussia. How come EBU is allowing this 3 minutes advertising spot for a dictator? He must be very happy and giggling to himself! I suspect the first entry was piloted so the Europe would hear not only one but two propaganda songs and the disqualification caused so much media time no money could buy. Forgetting the lyrics the song isn't that bad, with a hint of a national flavor. Add bad English and a poor brainwashed bimbo to sing it I hope they will score a flat zero. Oh no, hang on, then they would stay in history! Let them score 3 points from Russia and 2 from Ukraine so they come second to last and will be forgetten forever. Qualifier: Hell no!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Helena Paparizou's greatest hits

Eurovision 2005 winner Elena Paparizou has come to the point in her career she's releasing a greatest hits album, also in 3-cd box in the end of March. She released her debut solo album Profereotita back in 2004. It was re-released in 2005 including her Eurovision tracks and later re-released in third version including also Mambo remixes. 2005 she released My number one album for the European market. Iparhi logos album followed in 2006, as well as The game of love, another compilation for the international market with English versions of her Greek hits amongst others. It was  re-released as a 3-cd special edition in 2007. Her next fully Greek album Vrisko to logo na zo was released in 2008 and moved from europop to darker rockier sound. Her fourth new album was released last year, titled Giro apo t'oneiro. Her discography is a bit confusing indeed with all re-releases and various versions so maybe a greatest hits will make it straight.

Carola - legendary Finnish voice

Carola Standertskjöld would have been 70 today had she not died in Alzhaimer's in 1997. She was popular in the 1960's thanks to her unique voice and looks, and her repertoire from pop to jazz  chanson and blues singing in Finnish, Swedish, English, French, Spanish, German, Jiddish, Russian, Italian and Portuguese. Something about her talent tells that she might be more respected and loved today than back then. 
For the anniversary a new compilation (2CD) and a box (8CD+book) titled Rakkauden jälkeen - kaikki levytykset 1963-1988 are released. And the box is indeed a very interesting one as it includes a lot of rarities and for the first time recordings in all languages together. Her classic covers of Aprés toi and Un banc, un'ambre, une rue are there, but so is also a French version of the latter! Her Euroviisut entries Ge mig en krabb/Tahdon pojan (1965) and Meren laulu (1966). Her duet with Aarno Raninen in 1971 was unfortunately never recorded, it seems.
Order your copy from here.

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.7

Germany - Lena - Taken by a stranger ***
This is risky business for Germany and Lena as she sings. First of all the song may result very strange and without any memorable hook for the first time listeners, and secondly how many televoters will think "she won last year, let someone else win now"? For me this song is like a piece of soap. Every time I think I get it it slips away again. I kinda like it when I hear it but forget it the second the song ends. Not a good sign.

Cyprus - Christos Mylordos - San angelos s'agapisa ***
I like this very much until the lady starts screaming and the beat goes thundering. But maybe there's a reason for that. Great that they sing in Greek and the song has a feel of identity and Cyprus didn't go for an easy Europop this time. I guess this is a good example of a song that will all stand on its live performance: if it is nailed they might reach the final, if it is not convincing ... no final. Qualifier: With some luck. 

Iceland - Sjónni's Friends - Coming home **
Nothing wrong with this song even if I only give it two stars. It's "nice" and nice's no good in Eurovision. The guys perform well in a laid back fashion, the song's rather jolly number and works as well in English as in Icelandic, even if the Icelandic one has more charm in it, me thinks. But if Icelanders had their reasons to vote for this instead of Jóhanna I doubt Europeans will have such sentimental reasons and Iceland will struggle to get any votes at all. Or then I'm completely wrong but... Qualifier: No.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lordi involved in elections?

Finland will have its parliament elections next month and the advertising campaigns are in full swing. Last weekend Jarmo Juntunen's ad was delivered in every home with Lapin Kansa newspaper in Lapland and many looked the ad twice as along with him is none other than Mr Lordi himself. Today he responds: "I'm not supporting Perussuomalaiset. I did it for long lasting friendship."
*Perussuomalaiset or True Finns are the latest phenomenom in the Finnish politics causing many people worry a bit. In less than ten years it has become the third biggest party in Finland and cuased the eternal Big3 to become Big4. They are very anti-EU and anti-foreign in every way. Some are saying they might even win the elections and give us the next prime minister... God save us from that!

Eurovision 2011 - does age matter?

Did you know the youngest entrant this year is  Getter Jaani (born February 3, 1993) at 18? And the oldest is 3Js's Jaap De Witte (born June 2, 1954)? And that Paradise Oskar and Erik Saade are separated only by 6 days in birth? And Lena and Anastasya by 8 days? And Amaury and Eldar by only four? Twiins and Mika could also form a trio, they are only 10 days apart. The busiest years for this Eurovision have been 1991 (Jedward, Lena, Anastasiya, Christos) and 1986 (Loucas, Stella, Twiins, Mika). Over the half of the artists have been born in the 1980's (52%) and most everyone else in the 1990´s (21%) and 1970's (21%) with the exceptions of Dino Merlin in the 1960's and beforementioned Jaap in the 1950's.Youth vs. Experience. I think the winner is amongst these people here. Middle of the road is no good in Eurovision....

Here is the youngesters top-10:
1. Getter Jaani - Estonia 2. Emils Balceris - Latvia 3. Maja Keuc - Slovenia 4. Jedward - Ireland 5.Lena - Germany 6. Anastasiya Vinnikova - Belarus 7. Chrystos Mylordos - Cyprus 8. Eric Saade - Sweden 9. Paradise Oskar - Finland 10. Amaury Vassili - France

And the oldies top-10:
1. Jaap De Witte - The Netherlands 2. Dino Merlin - Bosnia-Herzegovina 3. Dana International - Israel 4. Kati Wolf - Hungary 5. Aurela Gace - Albania 6. Jan Dulles - The Netherlands 7. Jaap Kwakman - The Netherlands 8. Stereo Mike - Greece 9. Duncan James - United Kingdom 10. Simon Webbe - United KIngdom

*Please note the artists from Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Moldova, Iceland and Romania are not included. They seem to be ageless on internet.

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.6

Spain - Lucia Perez - Que me quiten lo bailao **
What to say about this? Clearly not the best offer in the Spanish final. This song could have been the Spanish entry in any year in the past 30 years. Does it make it timeless? Or simply one in a dozen? Is it too much carneval so it works only there and comes across as tired and boring late Saturday night? And the fact that Lucia looks like a rabbit in the flashlights doesn't help either. Time will tell but I don't have high hopes for Spain bothering the battle on top this year (either). Shame. 

Poland - Magdalena Tul - Jestem ****
This is a good entry, well sung, produced and performed. And at least the fans are pleased they chose to perform the original Polish version instead of the English one, First class ticket to heaven. In my books this competes with Hungary and unfortunately loses but I'd be happy if they both make the final, especially because of the Finnish touch in it. Qualifier: Hopefully

Italy - Raphael Gualazzi - Madness of love *****
I admit I was very sceptical at first. Even a bit shocked and very disappointed. But! A big but. This might have been a very clever choise for Italy. Being the only song in this genre it might get people vote for it. And if they don't they can always say the genre was wrong and misunderstood by the audience. This said, I have grown very fond of this song. In English or in Italian, I don't really scare as both work very well. I can even forgive Italy using English as it clearly fits this kind of a song much better. Raphael isn't the greatest singer in the world vocally perhaps but he makes it up with style and originality and personality. Welcome back Italy - with a bang!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Warner signs Paradise Oskar - debut album in May

When 20-year-old Axel Ehnström aka Paradise Oskar won the Finnish final of Eurovision he was a total nobody. He told himself that "nobody knew me. Now I don't know myself" after a week of media fuss caused by the victory. He had just 2-3 songs on his MySpace at the time and he was a pretty regular music student. Now he is an artist with a record deal with Warner Music Finland and the debut album will be released on May 4, 2011. He has written all the songs himself. The producers are  Leri Leskinen who also produced the final version of Da da dam, and Lasse Kurki by Warner. "We interested in Axel most of all as a songwriter. When we met I heard he's most inspired by brian Wilson and Jimmy Webb who are also my favourites. Knowing this is no wonder this young guy writes such great songs" says Kurki. The performance for Eurovision 2011 in Germany will be alike to the Finnish final one: just a guy with a guitar singing his song, no cabaret and dancing girls or gimmicks. Less is more.

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.5

Moldova - Zdob si Zdub - So lucky ***
I think this will be the fan shocker this year flying to the final and maybe even repeating their granny trick. Or then not. But the song has a hook, an annoyning one and that's much better than being without one, annoying or pleasant one. This won't go unnoticed. And surely will work the stage, too. I like this in some twisted way. Qualifier: Yes. 

Turkey - Yüksek Sadakat - Live it up ****
Turkey rocks once again and will go to the final and top-10 even without the diaspora votes. Simple good rock song that is memorable with the first hearing. Turkish it is not, which is a shame but I guess you can't have it all. This was one of my favourites from the moment one just like Turkey last year when I may have pronounced the words "Turkey may win" and how did that end? This time maybe not a winner but keeps the Turkish record straight. Life is beautiful, my friend!  Qualifier: For sure. 

FYR Macedonia - Vlatko Ilevski - Rusinka **
First of all it is a relief they kept this in Macedonian instead of the bad English version. The song flirts with the Russian kalinka and propably will gain votes from the ex-Sovjet block with some odd votes from the west and with some luck might squeeze into the final but I hope not. I don't hate this but this falls to the category "if this wasn't an Eurovision song I hardly would never listen to it". Qualifier: I hope not

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Enough is enough for Carola

Carola has released a digital single Enough is enough from her coming Elvis, Barbra och jag album to coincide with her visit to Let's dance this week. This week she also performed Always on my mind and In the ghetto on TV so the promotion is in full blast. The album will be released next Wednesday and the day after she will hit the road for a Swedish tour. TV4 will also rerun her Carola i Valhalla show from last summer on March 31. Meanwhile the DVD climbs the charts again.

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.4

Yet some more.

United Kingdom - Blue - I can *****
I wouldn't be surprised if they won the whole thing. And it might do Eurovision good. Some label them has-beens but Blue has still fans all over Europe and this can be a start of a beautiful come back. The recorded version is filled with all sort of voices but I like even more the stripped live version. They won't go for some over blown choreography which is a relief. If they win I won't be sad at all!

Ukraine - Mika Newton - Angel *
This song gives me nothing. Total indifference which is the worst I think. She's a good singer I guess but the song is dead boring and forgettable. This should not make the final if there's any justice and sense left to this Eurovision world. Qualifier: No.

Slovakia - Twiins - I'm still alive **
This is another boring one. Not bad, just nice. Boring and nice. And Swedish. Compared to Azerbaijan this is totally uninteresting and I don't look forward so much to the vocals capasities of these two. Pretty they are for sure with fabulous dresses come May but... Qualifier: No.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ESC 2011: The world's biggest TV screen in Düsseldorf

We are used to having some sort of world records or at least to showcase the latest technology - remember the spidercam? or the fog screen? -  in the Eurovision and Düsseldorf is no exception. ARD will turn the Thyssen-Haus in the centre as the world biggest TV-screen where the semifinals and the final will be projected into it's 6.300 meter square facade. More than 30 projectors will be used along with light and 3D effects to make it look as good as possible. The building is visible in most parts of the city and if the weather is good you can enjoy Eurovision hundreds of meters away.... The Thyssen-Haus was built in 1957-60 and it is 84 meters high.
Thanks to Daniel Motiño Camúñez for information

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.3

And we go on.

Romania - Hotel FM - Change **
Like Switzerland this sounded much better when it was chosen months ago. And is it me or was the original version a bit stronger? One can't though forget these guys are at their best live and know how to work the camera so I think they will be sailing to the final anyways. Qualifier: Propably.

Georgia - Eldrine - One more day **
This is a weird song. It starts very promising, then turns into some simil-rock before going into rap.... I don't know if I would ever listen to this if it wasn't an Eurovision entry. Most likely not. But the new singer - remember they replaced the singer right after their national final win? - works nicely I guess. Qualifier: Maybe. (but it doesn't deserve to)

Finland - Paradise Oskar - Da da dam *****
I'm not giving this song five stars because I'm a Finn but because it really is one of my favourites this year. Important text contrasting with the title and people's ignorance. The song is not written for Eurovision, it is not even written for a purpose. It just happened and you can hear it: it's honest. And Paradise Oskar or Axel comes alive on stage so I keep my fingers crossed he will charm the Europeans like he did with Finns. At least he charmed the Swedes in an award gala the other night! Qualifier: It's difficult but I believe he will make it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lauri - Heavy

Lauri Ylönen of The Rasmus fame has released his first solo single Heavy off his coming album and it's pretty fabulously hypnotic and addictive. With an interesting story:
"The song is based on an interesting conversation I had with a local taxi driver one night. We were talking about what it means to have the freedom of speech. He told me a story of a bird in a golden cage, where all the beauty and wonders of life has been brought infront of him but only thing he really wants is freedom. He asked me to write a song about it, so I went back to my hotel and did it that night. I really hope he’s able to hear this song one day!" (Lauri's Official Blog)
Can't wait for the album!
And if you want to know how he's doing in the charts, click here.

Mietta: After a baby a book and a new album

Mietta has been busy lately as she is releasing her new album Due soli... - the title track is the new single - in early April and later this month her first book L'albero delle giuggioli. The book sounds a bit autobiografical: "Chiara is 40, with a passion for dubbing cartoons. Adoring grandmother, distant mother. True friends, ex-lover. Is it possible to still believe in love after all, after really all? When you already think it's better to forget it and move on?". As we know she found her love a couple of years ago and became mother of Francesco at the age of 41 last year. And she dubs cartoons, Disney, is actress herself, has done audiobooks. And now she has written a book... But hey she has also designed cartoons to her own video Cambia pelle and directed Eccitazione. And she also had a restaurant in Rome and now in her hometown Taranto. And before all that she was a model. Multitalented woman indeed!
But back to the album. It is her 11th album and first in three years. She won the OGAE Song Contest in 1990 with Vattene amore and represanted Italy again in 2000 with Fare l'amore. It has been rumoured she was to represant Italy also in Eurovision 1990 until Toto Cutugno took over....

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.2

And here some more.

Azerbaijan - Ell & Nikki - Running scared ****
Just like last year Azerbaijan hires the songwriters from Sweden and if last year's entry had a singer with questionable live singing capacities we need not to worry about that as both Ell and Nikki, or Eldar Qasimov (22) and Nigar Jamal (31) both can sing and work nicely despite my initial doubts how they would sound and look together. And this song is stripped off the main problem with Drip drop: over production. Pleasant entry, memorable in some way. Qualifier: Yes!

The Netherlands - 3JS - Never alone ***
This would have got four stars from me if kept in Dutch. I love the sound of Dutch. To tell the truth there isn't really so much difference with the English version but Dutch made it more exotic, so to speak. Anyways, this is a very nice song, rather catchy and radio friendly, one of the best songs this year but maybe it will be a bit lost in the crowd? Will get people all over Europe to vote for it is another matter. I hope they will. Qualifier: A big maybe.

Malta - Glen Vella - One life ***
I cannot listen this without thinking about Albania last year. That said the song fits Glen very well and has its catchiness. And he surely is giving his all. The song has a message. But despite all that I'm not sure if this song deserves to be in the final,  it is a long three minutes. Qualifier: With some luck.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eurovision 2011 videos, vol.1

I will start with the Eurovision 2011 videos today with my comments. My likes and dislikes. My predictions. That will be all wrong once again. Or then not...

Switzerland - Anna Rossinelli - In love for while **
This song has lost a lot of its charm since it was chosen last year. I did like it back then so should I trust more on my first impression of the song? But she really needs to work her stage presense and her movements or she ends up looking like a C-class Idols wannabe. Iceland has a litlte bit similar song that might end up sounding and looking like more voters-friendly come mid-May. Qualifier? No.

Ireland - Jedward - Lipstick ****
Now what to make of this? I'd love to hate it but when I listen to it I can't. A little bit the Verka-effect.  I hated Verka with passion but by the ESC week I loved it. The guys seem to be a bit of a disaster vocally on stage but propably they manage to create a kind of hype and mediastorm in Germany we haven't seen since Dana International vol.1 and Lordi... Will it be enough?. Qualifier? Yes.

Hungary - Kati Wolf - What about my dreams? *****
This is my clear favourite this year. I absolutely adore the original Hungarian version but this works even when shorter and in mixed English. She is fantastic in a drag queen kind of a way and the boombastic choir towards the end gives me shivers. Qualifying will be difficult from the first semi but I trust Kati will charm the voters and fly to the final, shame that the songs by Croatia and Poland in the same genre are all in the same semi! This one's the best out of them though by far. Qualifier? I pray!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blogilkar makes the press!

Todays's Iltalehti refers to Blogilkar's Life after Helsinki 2007! :-) Here.  Iltalehti is Finland's 4th biggest newspaper.

Riki Sorsa makes comeback!

Riki Sorsa will start doing gigs this summer. This is big news since he suffered from throat and nose cancer five years ago and back then it seemed sure he would never sing again. The illness also caused him hearing problems. The treatments have been succesful over the years and now his doctor has given him an OK! Great news! Meanwhile Riki has become the face of the cancer battle in Finland and people were able to read about his cures in his blog. Welcome back, Riki!
Amongst Riki's biggest hits is Euroviisut runner up Haaveissa vainko oot mun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Osmo Ikonen behind the Polish entry!?

Now this comes as a surprise! Osmo Ikonen who tried in the Finnish Euroviisut in 2009 with Signmark (Speakerbox) and the year later solo (Heaven and hell) is apparently behind the Polish entry Jestem, now in English First class ticket to heaven. He has written the song with Brian Allan and Magdalena Tul herself. Once the Finnish media finds out there will surely be a Poland-Finland battle in the first semifinal..... And is that him in the backing vocals in the English version?

Alice: Platinum collection

Alice releases a triple-CD with her greatest hits today under title Platinum collection. She has participated herself in the song selection so this isn't yet another rip off compilation by her record companies (as there seems to be in average two every year!). And for the first time songs from all periods of her career are included: Carla Bissi, Alice Visconti and Alice. That means the period from 1972 to 2009 including oldies like La festa mia, Un'isola and Io voglio vivere. Also the duet Zu nah am Feuer with Stefan Waggershausen is included, as is of course I treni di Tozeur and Chanson egocentrique with Franco Battiato. And for the very first Alice's solo version of Open your eyes, previosuly only available with Skye of Morcheeba. A very cut of her career even if you have her albums already while waiting for the new album in the making with new material :-)

Frenchless Eurovision

Who would have thought we come to this? In this year's Eurovision not a single song is sung in French (except a few words in Lithuanian song, sigh). Even France itself has skipped French and sings in Corsican (for the second time actually) as they didn't want to sing in Italian as the song was originally written in. But then Italy on the other hand sings in mixed English-Italian and San Marino only in English. Norway brings Swahili to the contest with a song that is as Norwegian as is Swahili. What happened to the national flavour - the original idea of Eurovision? We have 36 entries in English or mixed English with Bosnian, Greek, Hungarian, Albanian or such. Only Serbia, Poland, Portugal, FYR Macedonia, Cyprus, Spain and Bulgaria stick to their national language - while writing this. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few hours we hear Poland, FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia have changed to English!
On the other hand we have to back to 1988 to find the last winner in French, Céline Dion's Ne partez pas sans moi and France itself has won the last time in 1977 with fabulous L'oiseau et l'enfant by Maria Miriam. The 2000's is sad reading: only Serbia has managed to win with a non-English song when Marija Serifovic triumphed in Helsinki with Molitva. And think that French winning score was in the 50's 50%, 60's 38%, 70's 40% and still in the 80's 30%...  Maybe we need Monaco and Luxembourg back? Or at least France sticking to its own language?

UPDATE: It looks like at leasrt Poland has changed the language and Jestem turns into First class ticket to heaven....
UPDATE 2: They have changed it back to Jestem in so it seems she will sing in Polish after all, great!

Today: The draw!

Today at 13 CET the draw for the running order will take place in Dusseldorf. Who gets the honour to open the contest and who to close it? This post will be updated later today.

UPDATE: The draw is done as you can see below. I'm quite happy for Finland, nicely in the middle amongst two totally different uptempo numbers.

First semifinal 10.5.2011
01. Poland (wildcard)
02. Norway
03. Albania
04. Armenia
commercial break
06. Serbia
07. Russia
08. Switzerland
09. Georgia
10. Finland
11. Malta
12. San Marino
13. Croatia
14. Iceland
commercial break
15. Hungary
16. Portugal
17. Lithuania
18. Azerbaijan
19. Greece (wildcard)

Second semifinal 12.5.2011
01. Bosnia & Herzegovina
02. Austria
03. The Netherlands
04. Belgium
05. Slovakia (wildcard)
commercial break
06. Ukraine
07. Moldova
08. Sweden
09. Cyprus
10. Bulgaria11. FYR Macedonia
12. Israel
13. Slovenia
14. Romania
commercial break
15. Estonia
16. Belarus
17. Latvia (wildcard)
18. Denmark
19. Ireland

Final 14.5.2011
11. France
12. Italy
14. United Kingdom
16. Germany
22. Spain (wildcard)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Iceland is coming home

The Icelandic entry has been translated into English and is Coming home now. Very simple and fitting video for the song that I have no idea what Europeans will think about....

Malta's video is here, too!

And here is the Maltese video for Glen Vella's One life. Very colorful pointing out the fact we are all the same in the end.  Very nice video indeed.

San Marino presents its video

Here is the preview video for Senit's Stand by, written by a 30-year-old Radiosa Romani from Rome. Nice to see some snowy images from the tiny country! And the song's a grower.

I love Belarus - NOT!

Here it is, the last missing song from Eurovision 2011. The singer is the same Anastasiya, the text is still local propaganda and the song's propably even worse than the original one.... Judge yourself here. It might be ok if sung in Russian so I wouldn't understand one word... Yikes!

Düsseldorf 2011: The delegations meet. The stage. The interval acts.

The 43 delegations are meeting in Düsseldorf today and tomorrow. Italy's return was greeted with a big applause when the delegations presented their songs and preview videos.
The opening act for the final will be Stefan Raab Big Band performinf Satellite, and the interval act will be by Jan Delay and his group Disco No.1.
Once again there will be LED wall behind the stage that has been kept small this time. It also includes a satellite some 40 meters infront of the stage, whatever that means? Hanging? A catwalk? Jerry Appell has designed the stage and 26 cameras will be used to capture it all for TV. 
The postcards will feature national flavor and the slogan Feel your heartbeat pronounced in national language. Well, at least that as you won't hear many languages besides English this year otherwise as 34 songs will be performed in English or partly in English. 
The press center will be situated next to the arena in Athletics sport hall and once again there will be tents outside for catering and such. 
Tomorrow the draw for the semifinals and the final.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Running scared for Azerbaijan

Azeris have renamed their artists as Ell & Nikki and their song is Runnung scared. Well, what to say? Sounds very Swedish, the way Drip drop did....
Update: It was just a wild guess but now it has been confirmed the same Swedish team is behind this song!

Croatian Celebration

The videos keep coming in. Here's the Celebrate by Daria Kinzer for Croatia!

Feel the Albanian passion

Albania has presented its entry in English with a fancy video to go with it. This time around the song hasn't been completely overdone and rearranged but sounds pretty much the same as before. Here.

Here is the Finnish video - Da da dam....

Paradise Oskar has released his very simple and homemade-like video for Da da dam that fits the song. Big lyrics, simple song. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Will Sweden be popular?

I guess it will. Erik Saade has a Carola-like mind power and will to succeed and the song is catchy with a sort of melody (like this for example) and no doubt a great choreography and performance - but what will happen when recorded vocals are not allowed in Germany? Anyways, Popular is much better than In the club so I'm quite happy with the result. And he won both the televote and the international juries so no one can complain!

The international juries spread their votes all over the place, six songs got at least one 12. Only Erik and Danny got votes from every country while Erik and Sanna both got 3 times 12, Swingfly twice and Danny  Linda and The Moniker once. Linda who was complaining about the jury actually ws more liked by them that  the Swedes - will you now shut up? Here are the results:

1. Erik Saade (jury 81 + televote 112 =) 193
2. Danny (79 + 70 =) 149
3. The Moniker ((55 + 69 = ) 124
4. Sanna Nielsen (75 + 39 =) 114
5. Swingfly (44 + 49 =) 93
6. The Playtones (46 + 33 =) 79
7. Linda Bengtzing (42 + 16 =) 58
8. Nicke Borg (20 + 37 =) 57
9. Sara Varga (23 + 27 =) 50
10. Brolle (8 + 21 =) 29

Melodifestivalen - here we go....

Seems like some artists, like Linda Bengtzing, are not happy with the new rules. Meaning there are the international jury groups and they voted already last night based on the dress rehearsal. Hey Linda, I have something to tell you: if you win there will be 42 international jury groups judging you, and from the dress rehearsals as well so shut up! If you can't give your best twice in two days you're in a wrong business! If you didn't bother to read the Melodifestivalen rules before you decided to take part, it is your own fault so shut up. Ok? 
Christer Björkman commented that: "Until now we Swedes have been able to vote for songs we want to do in karaokebars and listen in the summer cottages in the forests but now we have to decide who's going to represant and compite for us in Europe. Obviously Swedes have forgot that the past few years as we have seen in the results and are out of touch. Therefor the juries" I totally agree.
The superfavourite Erik Saade has only one thing in his mind: to win. He has made it clear this will be his last Melodifestivalen so he better win.  My wild guess is he's been having the most stressful days of his life these days....
Meanwhile The Moniker has become the favourite in Aftonbladet's poll followed by Erik, Danny, Sara and Nicke. On SVT's site Erik is in the lead followed by Danny, The Moniker and Swingfly.
I won't be blogging live tonight but make myself cozy in the sofa and enjoy the show and come back for a report afterwards. Everybody: Have fun and ... may the best song win!

My thoughts are in Japan, not in Sweden tonight....

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