Saturday, April 30, 2016

ESC 2016 SLOVENIA: MANUELLA RELEASES BLUE AND RED VIDEO

And after Moldova here comes Slovenia! ManuElla enjoys some camper life in her video for Blue and red. Her garderobe for Stockholm also gets a good airing outside before being packed up......

ESC 2016 MOLDOVA: LIDIA ISAC RELEASES FALLING STARS VIDEO

Better late than never, here is the video for the Moldovan entry Falling stars. Lidia Isac gets into some interstellar affair. Colorful and just enough weird to keep you watching and wondering what ws it all about.....Let's see if the Montenegrin astronauts will make a comeback on stage in Stockholm?

ESC 2016: OUR REVIEW PANEL ROUND UP - HOW DID WE VOTE?

The past two weeks I have been publishing reviews by Blogilkar's little review 6-pack incuding a Brit, an Irish living in Belgium, a Dutch, an Italian living in Sweden and a German living in the UK besides me, a Finn. Together we have some 175 years of Eurovision experience, inside and outside the bubble, as  simple fans, or involved in all the process of selecting and promoting an entry, as an avid collector and knowing the Eurovision history by heart. As a blogger, record collector..... you name it. We have done it. And keep doing it.
We gave out our point as how we felt the songs, not based on how we think they will do in Stockholm. 
With our votes all Big5+Sweden would be firmly in the final for a change, and even four of them in top-7! The first semifinal is stronger for us, as even three songs get higher scores than the last qualifier from semifinal two (Norway). 
We gave out a total of 13 full ten points (Italy, Austria and France got two each)
We gave out six one pointers, Montenegro got three of them and San Marino two. San Marino was also the most divisive as besides those ones they also scored one nine pointer and two eights!
Time will tell how wrong or right we were.....  Enjoy all the reviews by scrolling down the blog....

FRANCE    53
ITALY    51,5
LATVIA    50,5
AUSTRIA    47,5
UKRAINE    47+
check out the rest after the jump......

Friday, April 29, 2016

ESC 2016 FINLAND: SANDHJA RELEASES FREEDOM VENTURE

Sandhja releases her second album Freedom venture today. It follows the debut Gold that was released in May 2014. The new album has ten songs, including obviously her Eurovision entry Sing it away and the first single off the album, My bass, released earlier this year.  Tonight's the release party at DTM in Helsinki. 
Get yours here or here

MARCO MENGONI: SOLO DUE SATELLITE - THE STORY CONTINUES....

Marco Mengoni's concept videos continue. After Ti ho voluto bene veramente (#1 in Italy) and Parole in circolo, off the triple platinum #1 album Le cose che non ho, here comes Solo due satellite. His long journey and the story in videos continue.... and is left with intriguing finish.... How the story will go on and develop? What is the next single? Meanwhile he has kicked off his new sold out tour.....


Thursday, April 28, 2016

ESC 2016: UNITED KINGDOM, IRELAND AND THE NETHERLANDS REVIEWS

Last but not least, the last three entries of the season....
UNITED KINGDOM - JOE AND JAKE - YOU'RE NOT ALONE
(Matt Schwartz, Justin J Benson, S. Kanes)
UK has its first national final since forever and two guys who met while doing The Voice UK won.

Blogilkar: Joa and Jake were easily the best live singers in the UK national final. The song sounded ok back then but now among the other 41 it gets a bit lost. I like it when I hear it but have hard time remembering it other times. 6,5
Jack: I wasn't a massive fan of Joe and Jake's song prior to the British national final, however after watching them live, the song did grow on me. The chorus is ridiculously catchy and they're both cute. As a Brit, I really hope they will do well and give us an amazing performance on the night. Don't let us down, boys!! 8
Peter: Generally one of the better songs from the U.K. of the last few years, but the style is still a bit dated, it reminds me of a boyband song from the nineties… but it is an improvement - they shouldn't come last this year, but you never know !!
Robert: This one is a nice sympathetic pop tune from two young sympathetic guys but you would expect a bit more from the UK. The song is certainly not bad but it misses something great and cool. Also, I miss some of the intensity of the song when I hear them doing it live. I'm afraid this won't be in top-15. 6,5
Michele: When we think about UK we have to think with another level. They could win this every year if they wanted to, but in the past years they have delivered us songs that leave a lot to desire. This one is nothing wrong. It's a radio friendly one, easy to listen in the car and clearly the best choice in their national selection. It's not a winner but convinces (me) and it's a step to the right direction. 7-
Markus: This is so hard to predict. The boys are fresh and seem really wanna do this. It is a good pop song. I like it . Simple and effective ? I wish they will do well. Stays in my ears.... 8

IRELAND - NICKY BYRNE - SUNLIGHT
(Nicky Byrne, Wayne Hector,Ronan Hardiman)
Ireland skipped the national final this year and chose ex-Westlife Nicky internally instead.

Blogilkar: This has been one of the songs that have been playing in my head the most of this season. I like his voice even if no one else seems to like it, and the song's a perfect pop song. Catchy. Happy. I want to believe this does much better than the polls indicate. 8,5
Jack: "Touch who you wanna, love who you gotta...." well they're interesting lyrics. It's a nice pop song but I don't think I'll need to bother looking at hotels in Ireland for May next year. I suppose he'll get a result not to dissimilar to Ryan Dolan in 2013. 6
Peter: As an Irishman I have not been a fan of the songs chosen by Ireland over the last years, but this is great!! It's very catchy, moves well, strong melody and beat. Almost certain to get to the final, and possibly a top 10 placing. 7
Robert: An ok song for Ireland with catchy chorus. It does not stand out as one of my favorites but it's certainly a nice one for Eurovision playlist. I have no clue how this one will do. It all depends on his performnce, the staging and a good dose of good luck. 7
Michele: Nothing wrong with light commercial pop but when one is over 30 years old one expects a bit more. The problem with Sunlight is it goes by leaving no trace but it doesn't mean one should classify it as bad. It's just too light and flimsy to convince. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was a borderlie qualifier. One of many. 6-
Markus: Oh Ireland, what is going on with you ? The record holder struggles more less since the new century. This is a good radio airplay song but I am afraid this is again not smashing in my ears. And I am also not sure if he can deliver that live   5

THE NETHERLANDS - DOUWE BOB - SLOW DOWN
(Douwe Bob Posthuma, Jan-Peter Hoekstra, Jeroen Overman, Matthijs van Duijvenbode)
Douwe, who has talent show past and Anouk connection, was internally chosen for the Netherlands.

Blogilkar: First reaction: Meh..... But now I have warmed up to this. It's a genuine song, real instruments and fits with the artist. It could hit well with the televoters if the performance is good, and there's no reason to believe it wouldn't be. Could be a surprise in a final, but more Anouk like than The Common Linnets. 6,5
Jack: I'm a little undecided about the Dutch entry. It's pleasant, nice... although not very memorable. It's a decent enough entry but I just don't love it and probably wouldn't miss him in the final if he doesn't qualify. 5.5
Peter: Unfortunately the Netherlands has broken the mould of the last few years and sent a song that is unlikely to make the final… it's just uninspiring and a bit boring actually. A pity really. 3,5
Robert: My country is on the right track again after last year's disaster. Douwe Bob is a great singer/songwriter and comes with a nice Eagles like song that stays true to his personal style. It stands out from the rest, it's recognizable and you sing along quickly. If the staging and camera work is well, this could go to the final easily and end up in the top-10. 8+
Michele: The Netherlands come from a decade of total disaster until surprising (and deserved) success in 2014 and now are used to doing well and don't risk at all. Slow down is nice country pop, that goes by without leaving much, borderline qualifier. Musically good but commercially unremarkable. 6-
Markus: He sound very chilled and relaxed. I like that style very much. Great production as I can hear mostly real instruments and no samples. This is a big bonus for me. He will deliver. Cross fingers to him! 9

Check out the other reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10

ESC 2016: COME TOGETHER - NOT

Not everyone is welcomed in Eurovision song contest..... Or at least don't bring your flag if you are coming from one of these:
Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabach, Basque, Islamic State, Crimea, Palestine, People's Republic of Donetsk, Northern Cyprus, Transnistria. As approved by the ESC Reference Group in April 2016. 
You can and are welcome to bring your official national flag if you are from any of the participating countries, or countries that have recently taken pasrt like Turkey, Portugal and Romania. 
Rainbow and EU flags are being tolerated, if they are not used intentionally to make any politcial staement during the show. 
Read more here, to check out also allowed sizes fo flags.

Follow up: It didn't take long to Basque and Kosovo among others to react to this list. In Spain that matter ended up in the parliament and EBU had to release a statement soon after. As it turns out, the published document was a draft of the EBU’s policy that wasn’t yet ready for publication. And do we want to talk about Ukraine and Palestine... Oh well.....

Update May 6, 2016:
“After reflection and constructive talks with several participating delegations, Eurovision Song Contest organisers have agreed to relax the flag policy, and to allow national, regional and local flags of the participants e.g. the Welsh flag (as one of the UK singers is from Wales) and the Sami flag (as the Norwegian singer is originally of Sami heritage). This is in addition to the flags of all UN member states, the EU flag and the rainbow flag, as stipulated in the original guidelines.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ESC 2016 ITALY: SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION FOR FRANCESCA'S ROADTRIP TO STOCKHOLM

True to the idea of her song No degree of separation, inspired by the infamous six degrees of separation, Francesca and her team will arrive in Stockholm by bus, stopping in six cities on the way. She will kick of on Friday 29 from her hometown Bassabo del Grappa. Next stop Vienna, then Warzaw, Berlin and finally Copenhagen before Stockholm.
On the way she will be having her pockets full of seeds she will leave to people on the road to share and grow, the idea that will be also the theme of her staging in Stockholm. 
She has arrived to cold, cold Vienna....
In Austria she met with Zoe and they even sung together....
And she's in Warzaw. Got a nice balloon, too!

ESC 2016: LATVIA, HUNGARY, FRANCE AND RUSSIA REVIEWS

Four strong male artists in this one, all of them favorites for the win.
LATVIA - JUSTS - HEARTBEAT
((Aminata Savadogo)
Last year's Aminata wrote Justs Sirmais a song that became one of the favorites to win it all in Stockholm, even before he won the national final in Latvia.

Blogilkar: I really liked this when I heard it for the first time, but it has lost a bit of its appeal since. However, it's the first hearing that counts and Latvia should do very well this year. It's quite similar to their entry last year, Aminata all over it it but sung by Justs it makes it very different though. He's easy on the eye, has a great voice and the song is quite original. More of a play with sounds and production than melody but it works. 8,5
Jack: Aminata is Latvia's savour! She achieves one of their best ever results in Vienna and is set to do very well with Heartbeat, sung by the beautiful Justs. Riga 2017? 9
Peter: Good opening, catches attention, a solid beat in the background keeps the song moving, it is a bit catchy and different yet holds attention to the end. It is likely to get a lot of votes, not sure it will win, but it could be a dark horse in the final. 6,5
Robert: Latvia is on the right track this year, too, after the success of last year. A strong singer, handsome guy with a modern pop song. The only reserve with the song is that it kicks off a bit late in the song really. That makes that it's not among my top favourites but just with the pleasant ones. 7,5
Michele: For the second consecutive year Latvia brings something extremely modern, stylized and paradoxically simple and straightforward. You can hear Aminata in this song but Justs makes it his own, naturally and easily. This year I have no doubt: my 12 points go to Latvia. 10
Markus: Riga need also to get ready for a possible host role! This is great! 3 minutes of professionalism. Great voice and one of the best production this year  9

HUNGARY - FREDDIE - PIONEER
(Szabó Zé, Borbála Csarnai)
Gábor Alfréd Fehérvári aka Freddie is a regular for talent shows and managed to beat the others in the Hungarian national final.

Blogilkar: A bit like Latvia, I loved this when I first heard it and just like Latvia for a moment thought this could be a winner even. Since then it hasn't been that convincing in that field. The live performance rocks, love those backing vocalists with their sticks moving to the beat in unison - sadly I read they are going to do something different in Stockholm. Great visual impact that was. Also, this works well live but when you just hear it it's not coming across that strong anymore. Freddie is great, love his voice. Once again, people vote what they see and hear maybe for the first time nd this one's going to go far based on that. 9
Jack: Many have been predicating a Hungarian win for sometime - is 2016 the year they're finally going to be victorious? I think no but this song is brilliant. And I think I'm in love with his voice. 8
Peter: Decent song though not very captivating, Freddie's voice isn't great either to be honest (for my liking) though like some other songs, I can see it appeal to a large audience and get a lot of votes. Almost sure to get to the final given it's uniqueness. 5
Robert: Is 2016 the Eurovision of Hunks? So many goodlooking men and Freddie is really the top of the crops and the guy can sing, too, with an unusual raw voice. Very masculine. Hungary really became an interesting Eurovision country with their A Dal preselection. Many interesting songs and Freddie's song is an interesting one. Very radio firendly and nice to listen to. Not among my top favorites but I still expect Hungary to be in the top-10. 7,5
Michele: Hungarian song is melodic rock, maybe a bit dated but at the same time catchy and Freddie's voice gives it more weight. It's one of those songs that make you remember Eurovision isn't only simple nonsense songs. This is another prove of that. 7+
Markus: There is not one year Hungary fails with quality. Also this year the deliver! Great production for another top 10 ranking for me. 8

FRANCE - AMIR - J'AI CHERCHÉ
((Nazim Khaled, Amir Haddad, Johan Errami)
Tunisian-Moroccan-Spanish but French born and Israel based Amir Haddad was internally chosen for France after doing The Voice in France and another talent show in Israel. France is tipped to do better since... well, forever!

Blogilkar: Love this song. Love Amir. An instant favorite the moment I heard it. I knew Amir before so I was thrilled to hear his the chosen one. The song has just gotten better, he has done amazing PR and comes across very nice. He so deserves to win this, we would have a great name in the Hall of Fame of Eurovision winners! 10
Jack: Who knew the French had it in 'em? Amir is slowly becoming one of the favourites to take the title next month and that surely wouldn't be a bad thing. It's catchy and Amir will sure get some votes on cuteness alone. Maybe Paris 2017 is possible? 9
Peter: Great opening, nice beat throughout, also very positive that France went for a mainly English text which should get a lot of votes. This is highly likely to do very well and like some other songs could get France a long awaited win - if it can fend off Russia.
Robert: Amir is one of the favorites this year. Indeed he has a very enjoyable positive summer song. Also, he knows how to play the media, is very charming and it looks like this is his moment. He has been studying Eurovision winners and this is his idea of the next winner and he could be right. He has a song that appeals almost to everyone including me. It's nice to see that France, after many years, is back among the favorites. 8+
Michele: France has tried everything, sometimes sent also very interesting and modern proposals ... but it's never been able to convince the audience at home. The odds this year promise well and we understand why. Amir sings a cool song, pleasant, modern and performs it well, too.  I can not see him winning because I think that his song is missing that extra something you need in a song to win ... but if it wins, I don't think anyone minds. 8-
Markus: To be honest I never thought this will ever happen again.... France is killing me this year. What a stunning tune and from what I see a very humble singer. I pray for a good staging and performance and we will travel to Paris next year... Finally after 39 years!!!! 10

RUSSIA - SERGEY LAZAREV - YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE
(Dimitris Kontopoulos, Philip Kirkorov, John Ballard, Ralph Charlie)
Russia finally chose Sergey Lazarev internally, and the song is written by succesful Eurovision veterans. Russia rocketed to the #1 favorite to win. What could possiby go wrong?

Blogilkar: The bells of judgement day are ringing... Oh no, it's the Russian entry's intro. Putting all the politics aside and the fact I have liked and followed Sergey's career for years, something just isn't right here. I mean, this is perfection in every way and Russia will surely put on a great show on stage. But is this song a worthy winner? No. It's enjoyable old school Eurovision, calculated and measured to fit the formula 110% with originality level at the bottom. If he had a better song he would deserve to win but with this one? No. But top-3 it is come May 14, I suppose. Hopefully 2nd or 3rd. 7,5
Jack: Russia want to win this. And me thinks they're going to. Sergey will put on an incredible performance and he's going to get the votes. And some people will no doubt vote for Russia because it's Russia... Let's face it though - it would cause some drama if Russia won the contest. Not my favourite song but I wouldn't be upset if he did win. 8
Peter: From the first time I heard this song I just love it, it has a great beat that brings you totally into the song from the first note. The rhythm is very enticing and keeps interest throughout the song - the words are a bit on the corny side, but this is highly likely to have appeal across the board and give Russia another win. 8
Robert: No, no, no. We have heard this so many times. Typical Swedish Eurovision production. I don't buy this anymore. Not interesting. I would be very disappointed if this wins it. Eurovision needs a more quality wnner. The song is very average to me. 6
Michele: The Russians demonstrate for the umpteenth time they want to take home the trophy and, once again, they do all focusing on bombastic production, special effects and attractiveness of the singer. All characteristics that in Eurovision have never hurt. If they only remembered that to bring home the victory and not disappear from the charts the following day they also need a song in step with the times ... that is missing here. Sergey Lazarev does his job, he does it well, by textbook ... and that's the problem. It seems a task performed perfectly, by heart. Lacking authenticity. Very convincing ... until the end of the event. 6,5
Markus: Again the most expensive production the most expensive video clip and again a Swedish team behind it. Yes, it will go into the final and yes, it will be in the top 3 if we like it or not. They will deliver and show what they can do …... But for me its just again too much

Check out the other reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11

ESC 2016 NORWAY: AGNETE RELEASES ICEBREAKER VIDEO

It took some time but it's finally here: the ice cool video for Icebreaker. After seeing it it rather evident where she got that megaflu that made her promotion in Europe and cancel Eurovision in Concert and whatever was planned for her. Hopefully she's fully covered and in top form next week!
(This makes me think of the old Finnish previews, like this one. Or this one. Let it snow!)

ESC 2016 BEANIE STEREO: MOLITVA MADE OF STARS

Or rather songs that create mashups inside your head when singing them to yourself when sitting in a train or so.... This couple is another one that gets mixed up in my head. Israel's entry this year, Hovi Star's Made of stars turns into the winning song of 2007 Eurovision in Helsinki, Marija Serifovic's Molitva......

Made of stars
Silver fragments falling
We are made of stars
Molitva, kao žar na mojim usnama je,

Molitva, mesto reči samo ime tvoje.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ESC 2016 MEDLEY - MASHUP BY ERIC OLOZ

This is simply awesome! Well done!

ESC 2016: SPAIN, GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND UKRAINE REVIEWS

Another foursome of female voices.
SPAIN - BAREI - SAY YAY!
(Barei, Ruben Villanueva & Victor Pua)
Barei won the Spanish national final, and caused a major local storm as her song has no words in Spanish.

Blogilkar: I like this. I would have preferred a song in Spanish with a Spanish feeling to it, but Barei is very captivating and I even like her silly dance moves. Irresistible in a way. I don't think this song will be remembered in 10 years time but it's a good addition to the line up. 9
Jack: Spain is singing in English for the first time ever - and even though it caused some drama - I think Barei is set to give Spain their best result for years. Say Yay is incredibly catchy and she's also good live. I wanna go to Spain in 2017!! Hurray! 10
Peter: Great entrance, and very catchy number - wow - what a great time we would have at Eurovision in 2017 if it was in Spain !! For me I would love to see Spain with, but not sure it will happen. It's the one song that is constantly in my mind. 7
Robert: Spain got it this year. It deserves a top-5. A good modern pop tune with an enthuastic and energetic singer with some nice Spanish attitude. It really stands out among all the other songs done by female singers, I love it. 9
Michele: I agree with those who felt sorry for the lack of Spanish in the competition this year ... But Barei is strong and has an equally strong song. This is not one of my favorite genres but this has a  rhythm that takes you away and it's catchy. 7
Markus: Spain will never get it … They try sometimes more sometimes less. For me this is again just average and nothing special. I wish they come with something great soon. I fear this will be another fail for Spain …..3

GERMANY - JAMIE-LEE - GHOST
(Anna Leyne, Thomas Burchia, Conrad Hensel)
The freshly chosen the Voice of Germany 17-year-old Jamie-Lee Kriewitz won also the German national final that was set up quickly after the scandalous internal selection went all wrong.

Blogilkar: I like this a lot when I hear it. Then I forget it even exists. It's a good, non Eurovision song. Hard to say how it will work when average televoter hears it for the first time, maybe they will remember her for her (possible) manga look? But as said I do like it when I hear it so.... 8
Jack: Ohh, she's so cute! I do think Germany's song is really nice however I'm not sure if nice is going to cut it on the night and therefore I think Germany will be bottom five. But at least Jamie-Lee is set to win something - Barbara Dex! 8
Peter: Not a bad song, though I don't particularly like the beat, or the tune, it's not bad but it's certainly not a winner. Not a memorable song. 4
Robert: Germany's song was one of the first preselection songs I heard and loved. After it was elected it fell to the background when all the other other entries from other countries came out and Germany was new anymore, It is a very nice and pleasant modern pop tune with a singer who is still a bit young but has a great exceptional voice. I love it and it deserves to do well. 8
Michele: The song itself is modern, well produced and slick desite being very simple and generic. She sings a bit apatic but it's still fascinating. Can't really get me involved, with a risk of passing by unnoticed. 6-
Markus: Her performance in the German Final was just average for me but she was the favorite as she won the latest edition of THE VOICE GERMANY. Not sure if Jamie will catch the jury and televoters ….. I fear another disaster for them...... The song is not too bad...... 6

SWITZERLAND - RYKKA - LAST OF OUR KIND
(Rieder/James/Dawson/Livesey)
Canadian Rykka won the national final in Switzerland and hopes to follow the footsteps of fellow Canadians Celine Dion and Annie Cotton. Her hopes might go wasted. 

Blogilkar: Yawn. This moves me - not. She comes across fake and plastic to me. The song doesn't go anywhere. No no no. 2
Jack: I really hope Rykka ups her game for Stockholm because she was pretty bad in the national final however the song is pretty good. Some even compare her to Sia. There's something about this song.. 7.5
Peter: Slow build up and a nice song, I really like Rykka's voice, though I'm not convinced this song will give a fantastic result as it just doesn't seem to have the punch that other songs have. I'm not convinced it will get to the final, but then I could be wrong.
Robert: Pretty decent song from Switzerland this year but I'm afraid it does not stand out among the others. The singer doesn't convince me completely either. But nice to hear time to time. Not on repeat though. 6,5
Michele: Everything to me here is far too understated. Melody, structure, arrangement, interpretation. I can not really say more. Fundamentally boring. 3,5
Markus: Ok Canada and Switzerland mmmmm yes I remember big times for them … But the mix 2016 is just another typical Swiss entry.... Do I need to say more ? Oh yes my points: 1

UKRAINA- JAMALA - 1944
(Jamala)
Susana Jamaladynova or simply Jamala won the Ukrainian national final, and caused quite a stir internationally thanks to her song's lyrics. EBU cleared it for the contest though so it's not political. Yup. 

Blogilkar: First I was shocked by the lyrics. Then I was fascinated. I had to go online and check the back story. Then the Tatar chorus was stuck in my head. And I do like Jamala. And even if it isn't supposed to be linked to recent events I can't but think it is. We in Finland feel it, too. We could be next. All this makes this even more important a song. And putting all that aside, Jamala is great performer, there's a tune and an intersting song in there. 9
Jack: The Marmite song of the year - some people adore it, whilst others simply cannot stand it. I'm in the first category. It's fab. Jamala's voice is perfection. The song itself is a bit weird but it works - and I read somewhere the performance is going be in 3D. Will it be a battle between Russia and Ukraine? I'm so pleased Ukraine are back. 10
Peter: Not a great song from my perspective, it's too light on the opening and the beat is not really catching. Along with the message in the song which is a bit too downbeat for me. I don't expect this to get to the final.
Robert: Jamala is a great singer and performer. I was very impressed when I saw and heard her perform and I felt the pain in her cry towards the end of the song. Self-penned with a personal, hostoric message it's a song with depth and meaning. My enthusiasm disappeared a bit among all the other contestants now but still one of my favoites. 8+
Michele: In this song you feel all the pain of who sings it. I can not go into details and reasons, when you get a thrill it is useless to look for explanations. 9
Markus: The message is very clear and we all know that. Happy to have a new language in the contest. She looks very friendly and humble and she can sing!!! 7

Check out the other reviews; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11





ESC FINLAND: KUUNKUISKAAJAT RELEASE FAREWELL ALBUM AND SPLIT UP

"Kuunkuiskaajat's 8 year journey has been full of joy and laughter, bubbles, friendship and unforgettavle moments. This is a good place to end our journey and Revitty rakkaus will be our beautiful farewell album, that will live on. Thank you for all these years and moments. Without you there wouldn't be us and this album. Let Revitty rakkaus take flight and keep singing this beautiful story!"

With this surprising announcement Kuunkuiskaajat is no longer. This will be their second and last album. It was a long long time in the making. Their latest single Unelmaa (Dream) was released earlier this year and has been doing well in the radios.
Buy your copy here

ESC 2016: EUROVISION IN STOCKHOLM UNDER ISIS TERRORIST THREAT?

Update: Säpo, the Swedish secret services have met with the Eurovision organizers. Eurovision song contest could be a very likely target for an attack. But so is the King's birthday in coming days. Or anything else. 

Last night the Swedish media caught up with the news that Stockholm is under threat of ISIS terrorist attack threat. The Swedish security services has got the information from Iraqi security service. Apparently 7-8 ISIS terrorists have made their way to Sweden, with plans to carry out terrorist act(s) against civil population. Swedish security services have already travelled to Iraq to find out more information.
Swedish police and task forces are in full alert but the national threat alert is still at level 3 (out of 5). Interior minister Anders Ygeman goes with "No comment" and continues the Secret Services will comment the matter. 
Linda Widmark, press secretary of the national police department NOA, said on Tuesday morning:
- There is an increased terrorist threat level in Sweden since 2010. And an elevated terrorist threat level means that there may be reasons to pay attention, and that you should contact the police if you see anything strange. There is no difference with the past. We have an elevated terrorist threat level several years. Events in the world make the police and the Security Service be on the alert for these issues. There are reasons to be attentive, as there are always nowadays.
Other authorities are being on the "No comment" lines.
Eurovision has had a high security measures for years already so one can expect it being very tight once again, at least what comes to indoor venues from the arena to press center. Considering the city will be filled with people next week for the Eurovision song contest, with several gathering spots also outside from Eurovision Village to Skeppsbron area and of course Globen City .... be careful out there!
(According authorities some 300 people have left from Sweden to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS. Some 100 have returned.....)

Monday, April 25, 2016

ESC 2016: GLOBEN IS SINKING THANKS TO EUROVISION

Globen is so packed with tehcnical gear that it has sunk already 3,5 cms! Or so SVT claims.  Johan Bernhagen, show's producer says there's no need to worry though, and "You can never have too much". Lights will be in major role this year and it's going to be rock'n roll meets Eurovision. 
220 people will be working on a live show, 40 people only to get stage ready between songs and 172 trucks full of equipment. The stage alone weights 65 tons. Check out the impressive numbers below:

143 meters of cables
14 follow spot operators
45 lighting operators
900 square meters of LED
12 HDQ 40 projectors, the world’s largest projectors
37 video operators
134 speakers
64 microphones
7 sound desks
32 sound operators
30 fire effects
30 pyro firing positions, 24 of them built into the stage
6 smoke machines
109 tons of rigging in the ceiling
350 points of rigging
1397 meters of truss
10 power generators
15 kilometers of power cables
Stage weight: 65 tons
Stage height: 15,5 meters
Stage width: 50 meters
Stage depth: 32 meters
220 square meters of stage floor
2000 square meters of glossy surfaces
5397 parts in the back wall

ESC 2016: DENMARK, NORWAY, SWEDEN AND ICELAND REVIEWS

Nordic four in this post.
DENMARK - LIGHTHOUSE X - SOLDIERS OF LOVE
(Søren Bregendel, Johannes Nymark, Martin Skriver, Sebastian Owens, Daniel Durn, Katrine Klith Andersen)
Lighthouse X emerged as surprise winners in the Danish national final. Last two times when the contest has been in Sweden Denmark has won. This time the polls aren't backing this, but then - The Olsen Brothers never were taken into consideration either....

Blogilkar: For some reason I like this. It's very catchy and one of the most played songs in my ehad this season. It's nothing original, the lyrics are rather corny and cliché but everything works fine. Most likely Denmark won't do a triple, but then this could be a song no one hates and telelvoters like when hearing it the first time so it could end up scoring votes from everywhere. Who knows? 8
Jack: Not the best, not the worst.. it's just kinda there. Nice, radio friendly but I don't think they'll set the scoreboard on fire. 5
Peter: Ok, apart from the name which reminds me of the Liliane St Pierre song from way back when, this has a good beat, is catchy and pretty good song - aside from the fact that the singers are a pretty good looking bunch they will get votes, and I'm sure they'll make it to the final. 6
Robert: A cheesy non interesting, old-fashioned (this would have scored 15 years ago). Slick, non emotional entry from Denmark this year. I'm sorry guys, your vocals are alright but the song does nothing to me. 4
Michele: The Danish don't lose their habit of offering us bland, radio friendly and terribly anomymous pop. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Musically so light that it doesn't leave any trace, vocally no effect either. Luck has it they are in the second semifinal and even maybe manage to qualify, in the first one this would stand no chance. But in the final they are chanceless. 4,5
Markus: Timeless song not disturbing but I fear too average to be in the final. Typical airplay tune. 5



NORWAY - AGNETE - ICEBREAKER
(Agnete K. Johnsen, Gabriel Alares, Ian Curnow)
Agnete won the Norwegian national final hands down. Among the songwriters Gabriel Alares who co-wrote also Moldova's entry, and worldfamous Brit Ian Curnow.

Blogilkar: I can't but think about Ylona from #UMK16. I think that was better. But then I know Agnete from the Junior Melodi Grand Prix times and liked her back then. Laika would have been so epic for Norway but this was my second favorite. I enjoy this song after all and hopefully she's recovered from her megaflu in time. 8-
Jack: I miss the disco, I miss the disco.... Let's first just remember how awesome LAIKA was? Okay, back to Agnete. I guess Norway can be proud of their entry and even though I don't love Icebreaker, I think we will see them in the final. The chorus does get a bit repetitive. 6.5
Peter: This song confused me for a while, it's basically two different songs/beats mashed together. While personally I don't like the way the flow is interupted I can see it appeal to a lot of people and it's not too bad. It will make the final, but it won't be a winner. 4
Robert: Delightful song from Norway. Good build up. Strong vocals. I love it a lot. For me it's certainly a top-10 song. 8+
Michele: Norway's entry divides this year. Decractors point out it's made of two completely different songs, two different rhythms. It's a bit chaotic and not very original. The first part being very Euphoria-esque. Analysing all this yes, it isn't that far from the truth but the final product does have its fascination and great production. All this should bring Agnete to final. 6
Markus: I guess the ice will be too thick to break trough the Semi Final . I expected more from Norway. Not a fan of this! 4

SWEDEN - FRANS - IF I WERE SORRY
(Frans Jeppsson Wall, Fredrik Andersson, Michael Saxell, Oscar Fogelström)
Swedes decided it's time for a simple and downshifting and after all show numbers Frans' simple song and staging won the national final.

Blogilkar: While most everyone else is trying to figure out how to copy their winning act without being too obvious Sweden itself has already moved to another planet in staging effect.Also, everyone's complaining Serhat talking through his song but Frans isn't singing that much either. This was one of my 3 favorites in Sweden and in the end maybe the favorite. I like this much more than Heroes and should Sweden win again, I would be a lot less pissed than last year. A song I enjoy to listen to everytime I hear it. 9
Jack: Firstly - Oscar should've won Melfest. His song was just perfection. Anyway, Frans's effort is nice. Not very memorable but sometimes maybe less is more? I don't get why so many fans dislike this song. 6.5
Peter: Good opening, catchy and contemporary, but still I'm not convinced this is totally original, and I'm also not sure that Frans will be able to pull it off on the night, however, I hope he does. Personally in the final I will be cheering for him. 7
Robert: Sweden got blinded en masse by Frans and I still don't get it really. Why? There are some nice elementsin the song but it's certainly not among my favorites. The singer is also too much of a kid still. 6,5
Michele: The Swedish choice of this year has surprised a bit everyone. It's all you would NOT expect from Sweden. Structure, interpretation and production. Everything surprisingly simple and bare. It is a very radio friendly, more for the road-trip that a song contest. All features that do not facilitate to get noticed and remembered especially in a competition of 26 songs ... but beware of the refrain. It sticks in your head without even you realizing it. Personally I find it a very interesting entry, but objectively I can only give a positive overall grade. Moving with the times. 7
Markus: Thank you Sweden for not sounding Swedish the first time ever. This boy does a great job. I am in love with that song! I would no be sorry if they would win again this year!  10

ICELAND - GRETA SALÓME - HEAR THEM CALLING
(Greta Salóme Stefánsdóttir)
Another returnee from the 2012 edition, Greta Salóme. This time with a self penned song she won the national final with.

Blogilkar: I find this very calculated, manufactured until the last detail. Greta is a good performed but she's so caught up throwing her hair to the left, then to the right she comes across rather ADHD and too concentrated on getting her moves right for the projections. The song itself isn't anything new, a tyical Eurovision entry. The overal impression is the demons Måns were singing about last year are set free and hunting poor Greta. This could be a shocker non qualifier. 6
Jack: Greta is one of the favourites to win and I'd love to see Iceland win for the first time ever. The song is fab - I could easily see it being played on the radios here in the UK. The stage presentation will also be memorable so this will help her. Iceland deserves a win. 9
Peter: This isn't the best song that Iceland has sent in the last years, however, it is a good solid song with a good beat and nice movement to it along with a memorable melody. Likely to get to the final and could do ok, though not a top 10 type song. 5,5
Robert: Iceland did not send my favorite. Unfortunately. I know many fans really appreciate this song of Greta but it does not much to me at all. I tried hard but nothing is happening. 5,5
Michele: It is an unconvincing mess. There are too many quotations, both visual and musical. It ranges from the last two Swedish winners regarding the staging and Icelandic Of Monsters And Men in purely instrumental parts. Admirable commitment but again there is little anything new. It remains a very nice project that should work on screen but my judgment is a little cold. 5
Markus: I loved her first entry not so sure about this one … We know she can sing and I am sure they will put a great stage performance for that song. Final yes... Top 10 nope ….. 6

Check out the other reviews; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11




Sunday, April 24, 2016

ESC 2016: MOLDOVA, ROMANIA, SAN MARINO AND SLOVENIA REVIEWS

This is maybe the most unfortunate group of songs.
MOLDOVA - LIDIA ISAC - FALLING STARS
(Gabriel Alares, Sebastian Lestapier, Ellen Berg, Leonid Gutkin)
Lidia won the very mediocre Moldovan national final, with a song partly Made in Sweden.

Blogilkar: How generic and unmemorable can you get? This is kinda ok when you hear the studio version, but live it has been painful so far everytime I have heard it. Unoriginal in every way 100%. 4
Jack: I have to admit Falling Stars is a bit of a guilty pleasure. I doubt Moldova will make the final and there's a chance this will be a car crash on stage, but I just can't help but enjoy this song when I listen. 6
Peter: Personally I'm not such a big fan of Lidia's voice, it doesn't captivate me. But I do like the typical Eurovision chorus which is pretty good - the only reservation I have is if this is a memorable song - so far I don't think so. 5,5 
Robert: OMG, this is such a Melodifestivalen song. Heard this kind of song so many times before. It's not bad but certainly not one I want to hear often. The singer is also not so interesting really. She looks so insecure at times. A bit too less convincing. 5
Michele: This seems to be a leftover from some Swedish selection from the last decade. Cheap production, on sale. Not managing even convince as a dance track. 3
Markus: Nice tune but sound too Swedish to me. 5

ROMANIA - OVIDIU ANTON - MOMENT OF SILENCE
(Ovidiu Anton)
Ovidiu finally won the Romanian national final with self penned song after many, many attemps in various contest to win something. And then just 2 weeks before the contest EBU kicked Romania out. .... But we will keep this reviews in here after all. 

Blogilkar: I'm writing this after the news and I can only think that maybe it was a blessing for Ovidiu, he may have escpaed the fate of becoming the first Romanian artist not to qualify for the final. A totally unoriginal and heard a million times before musical/rock opera anthem. The one I always skip on the album as it's just annoying. 2
Jack: Probably one of my least favourites this year. I guess I thought Romania would send something awesome and instead we're left with this.. it's dramatic and a bit pretentious. One a positive note - I liked the topless dancer in the national final. I hope he comes to Stockholm..... 1
Peter:  Not a particularly inspiring song, a bit Meatloafy in style and his voice is pretty good, but I don't see this going anywhere except back to Romania. 4,5 
Robert: Strong voice, strong live performer but with a song and appearance that is not my style. A strong point is he wrote and composed his owns song. 5,5
Michele: There's a certain drama in this song. The problem is everything seems to be taken over the top. It seems to be wanting to be rock but it's not even close. Exaggerated performance, questionable staging... it's all kitch. He can sing though. Objective fact. 4
Markus: Sorry Romania …... but since THIS IS MY LIFE everything can get through the final :) personally no thanks 2

SAN MARINO - SERHAT - I DIDN'T KNOW
(Olcayto Ahmet Tuğsuz, Nektarios Tyrakis)
Turkish Serhat was chosen internally, as always for San Marino, and his song is a collaboration of Turkish, Greek, French and Belgian authors and musicians, and a German production. First it was released as a ballad version but once fans demanded the disco remix they asked EBU for permission and were granted so in Stockholm it's going to be 70's disco!

Blogilkar: Ok, I do have a soft spot for San Marino and always try to like their entries even if sometimes it's a bit hard. This year I didn't even have to pretend liking it, I was kinda amused with the original version, and the disco one is just pure fun. Fans talk about his voice (shall we talk about Sweden's Frans talking though his song? That doesn't seem to bother anyone!) but checking Serhat's back catalogue, what did they expect? That he turns into a tenor all of sudden? This could be a surprise qualifier, as after all... fans are not the ones deciding who qualifiers and who doesn't but the big middle aged masses all over Europe. This is an old school nostalgy show number and entertainment. 8
Jack: I f*cking love this song now they're using the disco version. I shouldn't, but I just do.The original sucked although the disco version is funky and I actually wouldn't mind Serhat qualifying. Yes, I'm crazy. 9
Peter: What were San Marino thinking in chosing this song .it's just awful … certainly not going to the final. This song belongs in a retro 1970s bar. 2
Robert: It will be exciting to find if it's San Marino or Montenegro in the ultimate last place. I don't see this going any higher. It's oldfashioned in a bad way, a bit loveboat style if you still can remember that series. Serhat is more talking than singing, I can't take this too serious. It could become a cult camp Eurovision evergreen maybe, if lucky. 1
Michele: It hurts to hear such entry from San Marino where I always leave a piece of my heart when I visit it. But I think one could use more self criticism every now and then. 1
Markus: Well, small countries need to stand out. This is important to get recognized. Either with an amazing artist like Valentina Monetta who made history for this wonderful small country I made a lot of friends during the last 4 years . The press and the fans are killing it. I can not predict his chances at all. I am sure this team knows what they doing. 8

SLOVENIA - MANUELLA - BLUE AND RED
(Manuella Brechko, Marjan Hvala, Leon Oblak)
ManuElla won the Slovenian national final beating two Eurovision veterans.

Blogilkar: I honestly don't know what to say? When I hear this it's kinda ok. I remember nothing afterwards and this leaves me completely indifferent in every way..... that's worse than a song that irritates me, as that's at least some kind of reaction..... 4
Jack: Not many people appreciate this entry however I think it's pretty awesome. The lyrics make don't make much sense but it's just infectious. 7
Peter: The entrance is a bit confusing, but ok, it moves along nicely once the melody starts. The build up to the chorus is disappointing though - and there's not enough in this to keep me going - not sure if they'll manage to get lots of votes, questionable to go to the final, but might make it. 5
Robert: We have a strong year with female vocalists and ok songs and unfortunately ManuElla  drops out compared to all the others. The lyrics are a bit annoying, too. I'm afraid this isnät a qualifier. 5
Michele: Hard not to compare Manuella to Taylor Swift, both musical genre and physical appearance. However, unlike the American this Slovenian has less vocal freshness and brings this radio friendly song down, it's vaguely anonymous but enjoyable. For the text you might have been straining more. "Cause blue is blue and red is red." Really? 5
Markus: This has something but not sure what yet. Is it country or rock or …. mmmmm 5 points

Check out the other reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 8, 9, 10, 11

ESC 2016: TECHNICAL STAND-IN REHEARSALS HAVE STARTED: LOOK OUT FOR RUSSIA, AUSTRALIA, MALTA AND BELARUS

Globen is ready in time and in schedule. The technical stand-in rehearsal have started last Thursday and the producers as well as the delegations will have the first glimpse of their ideas working out for real. Once again students of Stockholm schools are being used for the rehearsals. They are 91 this year and they will learn the songs in their original language (not a hard task this year I'm afraid, Ed. note) and their choreographies and produce a perfect replica. Some students are doing several lead roles, like Isabella Larm who belts out both Finland and Macedonia. 
The delegations will get filmings of these and have a chance to make changes before they come on spot. That includes backdrops, special effects, camera angles, microphones. sound, lights, logistics... everything you see (and don't see) on screen. 
Lotta Furebäck and Martin Kagemark are in charge and they reveal that Russia, Australia, Malta and Belarus are the most technologically advanced ones, in true spirit of Måns Effect. In general we can expect a lot of technology and lavish stagings. 
There will be 40 cameras, including 2 Moviebird 45 ft cranes, 3 rail cams, 3 steady cams, 2 handheld cams, 7 Dolly cams and one fixed cam for the scrutinee's table. And then there are the cameras in Press center and in the Tele2 Arena for the public viewing party.

JUNIOR EUROVISION 2016 IN MALTA - WITH NEW AGE LIMITS

Malta will be hosting the Junior Eurovision song contest 2016 as expected after their second win last year. And it was also announced significant changes in the broadcast time. From Saturday evening it has been moved to more suitable Sunday afternoon slot at 4pm. The date is set to November 20, 2016.
There's also a change in the rules. The age. And thank god for that! It has been lowered to 9-14. (This has changed from original 8-15 to 10-15 later.) I have always thought 15 is too old. You have a strange mix of singers who do look like kids and then you have fully developed girls in there, they may be 15 but they have boobs and dress like grown ups and it has always disturbed me in Jesc. 
This is also good news for San Marino's Anita Simoncini - no one can take her record of being the only one passing directly from Jesc to Esc anymore :-)
Jan Ola Sand takes over as the executive supervisor after EBU fired Vladislav Yakovlev with some other people in a rather scandalous matter just days before last edition. 

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