Eurovision 2017: [Georgia] Keep the Faith / Tako Gachechiladze

Georgia’s rousing anthem ‘Keep the Faith’ exploits a simple melodic idea. Through repetition, modulation and grandiose crescendos, the song stirs the heart.

Tako Gachechiladze’s National Final performance used literal illustrations on a video backwall. You won’t see them in Kiev – far too political for the EBU who have struggled to contain this year’s celebration of diversity turning into an overt political bunfight. No matter, Tako’s lyrics will still convey the meaning with impact.

Musically speaking, that ‘Keep the Faith’ melodic idea gets annoying after a while. The song doesn’t necessarily sustain repeat listens. It could quickly transform itself into one of this year’s turgid listens. There’s also a hint of Skyfall about it too.

If Tako doesn’t move around on stage and sports the same look she had in the National Final, comparisons will be made with Austria’s Conchita Wurst from a few year back (just without the beard). That won’t help her. Conchita had a good deal more poise, and a beguiling stage presence. Conchita’s song was a more satisfying creation, with a universal message that crossed international borders with a more obvious kind of inclusivity. ‘Keep the Faith’ in comparison uses a hammer to convey its political message.

In that respect, the song’s musical simplicity (the stage presentation in Kiev echoes that simplicity) could end up being its undoing. But, it’s sung with heart and with gusto. The fact it builds to a rousing conclusion will make it a natural crowd-pleaser in the arena.

Eurovision 2016 – Georgia: ‘Midnight Gold’

It’s an interesting process blogging about each song on a fairly regular basis. Where other bloggers and fansites probably write-up all of their reviews all in one go and then phase the publication of each post, my preference is to publish as I write.

That accounts for why some posts go live with some glaring typos and helps explain why, as with Georgia, I face some song reviews with trepidation, as though its the homework I absolutely don’t want to do. Which is odd really, seeing as I, effectively, set the homework in the first place.

So what’s my problem with Georgia? There’s nothing especially notable to say about them. Or at least, nothing that immediately springs to mind. I have to go searching for their songs – I can’t remember any of them especially.

There’s plenty to say about the country’s relationship with Russia and how that has played out in the Contest (their 2009 entry ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In‘ caused some furrowed brows at EBU Towers in Geneva who asked the Georgian broadcaster to change the lyrics or find another song given the political overtones of the song), and their track record, when they have participated, isn’t that bad: nothing below 12 in the final tally and they’ve only failed to qualify only twice. Which is surprising really because the majority of Georgia’s entry have been dire.

Maybe my apathy is down to the music and the often ponderous and literal stage productions. Their 2007 debut tiresomely worthy ‘Visionary Dream‘ seemed like a shameless, albeit pale, imitation of elements from Bjork’s album ‘Debut’ and Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light‘ all rolled into one. And it looked terrible on stage.

Peace Will Come‘ in 2008 relied heavily on ridiculous choreography to mask what was, at best, a C-grade GCSE Music composition. I’m assuming that Georgia retained the services of their choreographer for the country’s 2010 entry: a stage production which looked incredibly over-engineered. I’ve never been a fan of slash metal anyway, and despite repeated viewings, I still cannot fathom out what the hell was going on in 2012 – by which I mean it was, lets not beat around the bush here, total shit.

Progressive as 2014 was – a sort of tribute to Brian Pern with a guest appearance from Stevie Nicks and, in one of the most literal of Eurovision stage interpretations, a drummer hanging from a massive parachute on stage. The song rightly failed to qualify.

Last year’s song ‘Warrior‘ was the first Georgian entry that had it all going on and landed well. And it looks like this year’s song for Georgia – ‘Midnight Gold’ (above) – builds on that. It’s grungy, Brit-Poppy (kind of – I’m sure I can hear some Blur in there somewhere) and packed full of integrity. It seems as though Georgia have found a band who like making music, like doing something distinctive and pull it off reasonably well. Quite how that translates into a stage act I’m not sure I really hope they don’t end up doing the song a disservice.

Eurovision 2012: Georgia I’m a Joker Anri Jokhadze

Georgia's Anri (via Eurovision.tv)

Georgia’s song for 2012 is a difficult one to get my head around. Here’s my thinking.

Watch early footage of singer Anri Joskhadze (left) delivering I’m a Joker and the song sounds a little repetitive. A lack of choreography makes this worse.

A little production effort however and the song is transformed into something catchy, unusual and surprisingly engaging (below).

Musically, I still find the chorus a bit of a drain. It feels like I hear those descending chords way too many times. Yes, the melodic riff and the middle eight which lifts the affair into something almost edgy (‘edgy’ in Eurovision terms, by the way), but on the whole it feels like 3 minutes of a chorus repeated over and over again.

If as much effort is pumped into the stage act as was clearly invested in upping the production on the song itself, then it’s still a song worth watching out for. Personally, Georgia have turned in some satisfying numbers over the past few years, proving that unusual offerings not only consistently win them a place in the final but also deliver them a respectable place mid-table come the voting.

This year, they’ll need to tread a fine line however. I’m a Joker in video format works well and compliments the song. But there are comparatively long sequences in which Anri is singing but he doesn’t appear in shot. A lot of the time we see the models sat on the sofa looking into their lipstick clad vase. That won’t work on stage in Baku, meaning something needs to fill the gap. That either means more of Anri or a dance act. And if it’s the latter, then a poorly styled one could tip the whole thing into an act which is potentially derided.

If you want an example of what I’m talking about look at Hungary’s brilliant promo video for 2009 and it’s pitiful translation to stage. Very disappointing. An poorly thought out choreography impacting on voice production, compounded by the decisions of a costume designer who clearly had absolutely no idea what he or she was doing.

Georgia has never won the Eurovision. Best result: 9th in 2010 with Shine and 2011 with One More Day.

Georgia will sing for a spot in the final in this year’s second semi-final on Thursday 24 May 2012.

Eurovision 2011: Georgia

Where Moldova’s grungy rock very nearly turns me off and Greece’s hip-hop seems a little creaky, Georgia have managed to pull both sounds off considerably more successfully than I ever thought anyone could. I wouldn’t normally warm to the combination. But Georgia’s One More Day sung by Eldrine works for me. It holds my attention at the very least.

A lot will depend on how this is translated to stage, clearly. It has the potential of looking a bit .. useless without the fast cutting which enlivens the preview video. We’ll know pretty soon if the Georgian delegation need to replace one of their TV production rank as soon as the first loud-hailer appears on stage.

That said, Georgia’s got a history of turning in a good performance. Whilst I wasn’t especially keen on the song, last year’s Shine was an impressive demonstration of singing and choreography bringing the country ninth place in the final best result since its debut in 2007.

Aside from the lyrics to their 2009 entry which was subsequently withdrawn because it was a little too close to the bone for the Moscow hosts that year, We Don’t Wanna Put In probably would have been quite good too.

2008’s Peace will Come wasn’t bad, wasn’t performed badly either and managed a respectable eleventh place too.

But by far their most interesting entry to date was Sopho’s My Story from their debut year. Undoubtedly influenced by one or two Bjork albums, the song got Georgia an OK twelfth place.

Georgia. A country to watch. Just no loud-hailers. OK?

Eurovision 2010: Georgia

Personally speaking, this is a cracking little song packed full of interesting chord progressions underpinning a sweet little melody. There are Kate Bush-esque moments in both the melody and the arrangement. The whole thing builds to a perfectly balanced climax too.

Compared to the song Georgia submitted last year which saw their withdrawal from the 2009 Eurovision (which apart from the questions surrounding the political message, the song was just destined to be a pantomime act on the stage in Russia last year), this year’s effort is far better.

Written by Norwegian songwriterHanne Sorvaag (she’s co-writer on the marginally less-satisfying My Heart Is Yours), Swede Harry Sommerdahl and Christian Leuzzi.