Eurovision 2009: Slovenia

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SONG REVIEW | REHEARSAL NOTES | PERFORMANCE NOTES

REHEARSAL NOTES

SECOND REHEARSAL

A commenter on another song review – that Norwegian thing – pointed out that I shouldn’t forget that most people will see songs for the first time on the night of the semi-finals and make their judgement then. Consequently any bile which might be rising for any song might be lost. I may be disliking stuff because I’m listening to it too much. 

Not so with this. I didn’t like it to begin with and after the second rehearsal I don’t like it now. 

FIRST REHEARSAL

This song and it’s “performers” will never have any redeeming features and hearing Martina’s practice at the mixing desk before hand, I can’t help thinking that given how little time she’s had to sing and how little she has to move around on stage I’m disappointed she can’t get that bit right. It seems remarkable that 3 minutes of television could actually make me feel angry but this does. They might as well have just sent a DVD and stayed at home. 

SONG REVIEW

Here’s an interesting selection of facts about this song. It’s largely instrumental in style, executed by a quartet of tall handsome Slovenians and a woman who spends two-thirds of the song behind a backlit screen doing her audition for the opening credits for Tales of the Unexpected. Somebody needs to tell her the series was pulled years ago. 

Strip out the scenery and remind yourself that instrumentalists mime on the Eurovision stage because everything’s sing their vocal line to a backing track and what are you left with? Around about a minute of vocal stylings in a song which harmonically speaking never reaches a resolution. It is technically therefore a song which could go on until the end of time.

Eurovision 2009: Denmark

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SONG REVIEW | REHEARSAL NOTES | PERFORMANCE NOTES

PERFORMANCE NOTES

SEMI-FINAL

There’s one word for this and that word is no.

REHEARSAL NOTES

SECOND REHEARSAL

Not only is the song bland, the presentation bland but Brinck is blander than bland himself. Those top notes aren’t getting any easier either. I’m prepared to let this slip through the net and fall to the bottom of the ocean at the second semi-final, if only I had the chance to vote. 

SONG REVIEW

 

There is a moment in this rendition of Denmark’s Ronan Keating-written and Ronan Keating-impersonated song Believe Again when my withering dislike of the Boyzone style is offset by the sound of a woman who sounds as though she’s had her wrists slit. Be sure to keep a careful ear out at around 1’28” just as the camera circles the singer for the umpteenth time. It raises a smile.

Overlook another example of how an audience seems prepared to applaud at anything and you’ll hear an OK sort of song.

It’s simple and perky, tub-thumping and pleasant. It’s the squeaky-clean boy from next door who isn’t gay but who women of a certain age adore and men looking for boyfriend material wouldn’t mind showing to their mums if only the boy in question would have that third pint of lager and experiment a bit. Yes, that’s a long way to go without any punctuation, but you get the gist. There’s something there for everyone. 

It’s not my kind of song. But it might be yours.

Eurovision 2009: Slovakia

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SONG REVIEW | REHEARSAL NOTES | PERFORMANCE NOTES

REHEARSAL NOTES

She looks gorgeous and he looks better with slightly less greased back hair and no off-pink shirt but sadly this song is doomed. It still does little for me and I know come the night I won’t be able to wait until the next one. There is also the potential for some really quite awful top notes. Get some early nights in love and don’t be persuaded to go to any parties. I very much hope I haven’t damaged relations with Slovakia saying that either. 

SONG REVIEW

 

I should be nice. I ought to be nice. It’s far too easy to be disparaging about a Eurovision song. Being nice is both challenging and should pretty much guarantee a better image formed in the mind of the reader. With this in mind I turn to Slovakia’s entry -Leť tmou sung by Kamil Mikulčík and Nela Pocisková – and hope I can achieve something positive.

This is high drama indeed. It’s smoldering intensity makes me think of secret mountain hideaways visited in the dead of night by a man dressed in black leaving a box of chocolates and a business card marked “Milk Tray”. It’s red wine and roaring fires. It’s agony and ecstasy. It’s misunderstandings. It’s painful goodbyes. It’s a Sunday afternoon black and white romance with a big box of Kleenex.

The song also leaves one fundamental question in my mind. What was the melody? I can’t remember it. It doesn’t stick in my head. Put a gun to my head and demand I whistle the melody and I’m going to struggle. Kamil and Nela’s performances are very good – I’m not entirely convinced about the high notes at the end – but the melisma masks the melody so much I’ve no idea where we’re going during it or where we’ve arrived when it finishes. 

I fear it may get lost in the melee. People will remember the up-tempo numbers more than the ballads on Thursday 14 May and if that’s the case I suspect the Slovakian may be packing their bags early (assuming they weren’t intending on gate-crashing the wrap party regardless of whether they sung in the final anyway).

Eurovision 2009: Greece

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SONG REVIEW | REHEARSAL NOTES | PERFORMANCE NOTES

PERFORMANCE NOTES

SEMI-FINAL

Full screen stretched across 42″ in our living room, Sakis didn’t look entirely convincing in the retro-Ken outfit (from Ken and Barbie dolls range) as perhaps he or his costume designer thought he might. There was something ever so slightly uncomfortable about his appearance almost as though the thick set of hair he has on his head combined with the white outfit made him look ever so slightly seedy.

True, he will be the first eye candy of the final evening which could potentially please the minority of ladies watching this and all of the gay men, but still the combination of the wide stance he adopts and that boyish leap he does from time to time doesn’t sit well with the more mature look he has on his face. It’s an OK song and I know Greece really want to win, but come the final I do rather think we’ll have heard 7 other better songs before we get to Sakis. I could be wrong however. 

REHEARSAL NOTES

SECOND REHEARSAL

If you’re looking for yet more proof of how Greece is desperate to clinch victory – is it victory or now the idea of clinching victory over Alexander Rybak – be sure to follow the various different permutations of this particular song. The music has longed since passed into that area of my brain marked “It’s time to go and grab another coffee and have a cigarette”. However, it’s the staging which is (I’m afraid) making me smile.

First we had Sakis strutting his stuff in a pair of skinny jeans and a crotch sure to make gay men across Europe weap and the likes of Eurovision producer Svante Stockelius remind himself on when exactly the watershed was.

Then we had a rehearsal performance with Sakis jumping all over the place and now we have the complete package with a conveyor belt affair and gravity type boots. It’s not so tacky as the graphics on the big monitors at the front of the stage (that font definitely needs to change or they need to lose the graphics altogether), but there’s so much leaping around on stage to move the set around that I can’t help thinking that if Sakis doesn’t walk off with the grand prize he and his delegation will be absolutely gutted. 

You’re just throwing a bit too much paint at the wall Mr Rouvas. In the production world expression goes “this is style over content”. Still, at least you’ve toned down that crotch and you’re selling yourself a little better with more accurate pitching. 

(Naturally, if you’re reading this Mr Rouvas, you do obviously look good for 40 and I wouldn’t want my opinions to dent your enthusiasm for the UK act.)

FIRST REHEARSAL

Choreographed within an inch of its life, Sakis’ performance in the first rehearsal for the second semi-final looks impressive. It’s tight (even if that eye-popping move he did with his crotch has been seriously toned down) and engaging even without the 16 x 3 cropped TV view. If it can look that good from a camera stationed far off from the stage then it will almost certainly look even better come the night.

One thing I’m noticing already is how he pumps so much into the leaping around and what effect that has on his singing. There are moments when he literally shouting the note and that Mr Rouvas will do you no good whatsoever. Nobody likes a shouter, screamers even less. Hit the notes reliably first then do the moves. You’ll only regret it later.

It’s worth noting that out of all fo the rehearsals today posted on the Eurovision YouTube channel, it was this I went to first proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the buzz around Sakis and his team is reaping its rewards. That is, if the vote was entirely dependent on a telephone vote. Will the expert jury skew the result come his inevitable appearance in the final show? Will it actually turn out to be a battle between Norway and Greece?

SONG REVIEW

Sakis Rouvas is Greece’s representative this year at Eurovision – the second time he’s had the honour – and pours as much energy into his performance and specifically his dance routine as he obviously has down at the gym.

There’s no doubting that this late thirty-something chappy has weathered well and will most probably continue to do so into his forties whilst the rest of us observe our middle-age spread develop in front of our very eyes. On that basis Sakis Rouvas might be someone I’d like to throw oily rags at through sheer jealousy. I won’t however. It wouldn’t be becoming, I’m sure.

This is a formulaic song spruced up no doubt by a tight presentation. Yes Sakis you do look good in hipsters and we can only marvel at your slender midriff – which if his last appearance at Eurovision was anything to go by, we will almost certainly get a fleeting glimpse of it again this year.

It’s the pelvic action I have a slight problem with in this early performance of “This is our night”. There are moments when it seems as though his crotch has moved a beat before everyone else. All eyes seem to be drawn to what’s going on below his belt. Perhaps this is what the great man intended – and there’s no doubting he demonstrates his skill at this convincingly – but at what cost? It’s an infectious dance routine but one which is probably more geared at the adult (gay) market than the traditional family audience.

If Sakis gets through to the final and finds himself performing early in the running order I’m almost certain we’ll only be seeing head and shoulders shots of him, assuming the authorities haven’t got to him before and demanded he tone it down a bit.

Keep an ear out to do for the truck driver’s gear change Sakis has to go through to ramp up the song to the next key. Mr Rouvas has a history of having to execute these things and in a live performance they have been quite a challenge. That’s all I’ll say.

Eurovision 2009: Cyprus

READ REVIEWS: Semi-Final One | Semi-Final Two | Grand Final

SONG REVIEW | REHEARSAL NOTES | PERFORMANCE NOTES

REHEARSAL NOTES

Roll up! Roll up! Here’s Christine Metaxa with her revolving illuminated boxes. If I can get past the fact that there are moments towards the end when it feels as though her dancers look like they’re moving furniture, the stage presentation appears to have lost the overt Alannis Morrisette feel. Thank God the band aren’t there. I may possibly have changed my mind about this as a result. I’m fickle like that. 

SONG REVIEW

 

I fear I have to be damning in my appraisal of Cyprus’ contribution to the Eurovision canon this year. My unwavering opinion is estbalished during the first few seconds of the performance when Christine Metaxa’s soft, slightly shakey voice hovers over the oh so familiar instrumental accompaniment. This song makes me think of only one thing: Ironic by Alannis Morrisette.

This is not plagiarism however. I’ve lost count of the number of times in years gone by some twerp from somewhere in Europe has stepped up to the sacrifical stone slab in the cathedral of Eurovision and pronounced that some country or other has plagiarised another country’s song from some point in the past in pursuit of the big trophy. It’s a tiresome argument. Some of us roll our eyes.

Plagiarism is by and large a PR thing. It’s a way of getting people talking about a particular song or country over another. In the run up to the main event seemingly desperate PR companies will stop at nothing to get their song higher up the agenda. Although this in itself is all relative after all. The friends who came round last night to watch Jonathan Ross with me and The Chap didn’t know who the UK’s Jade Ewen was until I told them. I do have to get these things in perspective.

What I’m finding annoying is how Cyprus’ song is imitative. I do rather like Alannis Morrisette and her sound, but to see something like Morrissette’s work performed by a someone who isn’t Morrisette leaves me feeling a bit cold. The song’s OK but I don’t want to feel irritated when I watch it. And I am – I’m sorry to say – irritated by it.