Most years, I write up my first impressions of the Eurovision entries, based on their videos. Often, the videos are highly distracting, and better or worse than the songs themselves.
This year, I've already watched most of the videos over the course of the previous week with my daughter. Grouting's favorite entry is the Australian one. Yes, that well-known part of Europe, Australia. The country has lots of Eurovision fans, and this is a one-off (in theory) as part of Eurovision's 60th anniversary celebrations.
Rough draft of lists of things worth mentioning
Hero songs: Sweden, Malta, Georgia, Italy's video
Tonight, not tomorrow songs: Azerbaijian, Australia
Conversational songs: Lithuania
Cutest video: Serbia's crowdsourcing
Most ridiculous plotline: Spain
Best heroic video: Georgia
Way too many men with stubble or barely-there beards. If I think of it as a tribute to Conchita Wurst (winner of last year's Eurovision, who therefore brought the contest to Austria), I can make some peace with it.
Albania (SF1 14) Elhaida Dani, "I'm Alive"
Lots of women looking slightly surly while doing all their jobs. Eventually they cry, and then the tear rolls back, and.... I don't know. The refrain does more for me that the video does, much as I'd like to think more of a video showing women pursuing lots of professions. A melancholy song about a relationship, female soloist with choral backing.
Armenia (SF1 02) Genealogy, "Face The Shadow"
Lovely settings with a confusing pseudo-plot (why are those people wandering around the maze?). I like the photos of generations passing. The regular change of voice and pace make this a bit of a collage of a song - it's a group of six different singers. Most confusing line: "Face every shadow purified."
Australia (F) Guy Sebastian, "Tonight Again"
A laid-back festive song well-filmed in a recording studio. Grouting's favorite. Catchy.
Austria (F) The Makemakes, "I Am Yours"
Azerbaijan (SF2 11) Elnur Huseynov, "Hour Of The Wolf"
If you were making a video about being afraid of tomorrow coming, would you set it at an evening party in an expensive apartment with a river view, with your protagonist pacing the walls while everyone else sits around with their cocktails? I suppose it's moderately realistic for circumstances in which one might feel trapped. "No, I won't sleep tonight. If tomorrow comes, I'll lose my mind."
Belarus (SF1 11) Uzari&Maimuna, "Time"
A woman dying of sand falling down on her in an hourglass! While playing the violin furiously! But it's a solo male singer.
Belgium (SF1 03) Loïc Nottet, "Rhythm Inside"
Belgium often have slightly odd entrants, like this one. Pop-rap. "If we die tomorrow, what do we have to show?" Video contrasts two different kinds of people doing the same kind of activity. (i.e. Girl with pretty doll and pretty dress vs. girl in trousers crawling around with a dinosaur.) It feels like the song may be too subtle in its way (or too uninteresting?) to do well in the contest.
Cyprus (SF2 15) John Karayiannis, "One Thing I Should Have Done"
Czech Republic (SF2 08) Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta, "Hope Never Dies"
Denmark (SF1 13) Anti Social Media, "The Way You Are"
With a group title like that, you'd never expect a perky, happy 70s throwback piece song by young musicians. I like you because of the way that you are.
Estonia (SF1 07) Elina Born & Stig Rästa, "Goodbye To Yesterday"
F.Y.R. Macedonia (SF1 08) Daniel Kajmakoski, "Autumn Leaves"
Excellent partially hand-animated video. About a guy who feels like his relationship is ending even if the woman is holding on. They're both changing. "Every moment will hurt, from the last to the first." The song's decent, but the video's better.
Finland (SF1 05) Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, "Aina Mun Pitää"
Eurovision's shortest-ever entry. One minute 40 seconds. And yet, it's the right length for this particular song: grumpy, irritated punk.
France (F) Lisa Angell, "N'oubliez Pas"
I'm usually partial to France's idiosyncratic entries, and this one doesn't disappoint. Lovely seaside landscapes, cliffs, a storm lantern. It builds from melancholy into anthemic yearning declarations.
Georgia (SF1 16) Nina Sublatti, "Warrior"
Gorgeous set of costumes, a variety of historical and mythic women warriors, including huskies and bird of prey. The song's decent, with a good edge of warning and unstillness, but I have a suspicion that this one which will be much more underwhelming on stage. It works well as soundtrack.
Germany (F) Ann Sophie, "Black Smoke"
Greece (SF1 06) Maria Elena Kyriakou, "One Last Breath"
A woman singing a melancholy song about the death of love. I'm watched it twice and am finding it really forgettable.
Hungary (SF1 10) Boggie,"Wars For Nothing"
Iceland (SF2 12) Maria Olafs, "Unbroken"
"One step at a time, out of the darkness, and into the light forever". A video with excellent cinematography and a good light director. One singer, two dancers in a dramatically lit warehouse. A likeable, optimistic song with very few, often-repeated lyrics.
Ireland (SF2 02) Molly Sterling, "Playing With Numbers"
Another woman singing a melancholy song about the death of love.
Israel (SF2 09) Nadav Guedj, "Golden Boy"
A down-beat song about getting the party started. I find that contrast baffling.
Italy (F) Il Volo, "Grande Amore"
This video annoys me. It's a rip-off of various
Latvia (SF2 10) Aminata, "Love Injected"
Lithuania (SF2 01) Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila, "This Time"
A happy, cheerful, conversational song about falling in love. I was all set to write about the video I watched the other day, but they've switched it to something a little more produced with more people being made happy and bouncy by it.
Malta (SF2 05) Amber, "Warrior"
A dark video with violins in a dark house, woman in lace in a garden. Strength through desolation. "I had no choice but to become a warrior. I had to conquer." I *think* it's about a past relationship which made her stronger, but I'm not wholly clear because of the "had to conquer" line.
Moldova(SF1 01) Eduard Romanyuta, "I Want Your Love"
"Remind me why we aren't together", sings a guy in an orange jumpsuit locked up in prison, interleaved with a car chase and police with flashing lights. Explosions! Angry gesticulation! Confused identities! I spent the first half mocking it, but despite the weirdness of heavy petting while in the middle of a high-speed chase sequence, the plot had a really interesting twist to it. Too bad the song was reduced to soundtrack here.
Montenegro (SF2 04) Knez, "Adio"
It's this year's small country advertisement video! Female string players in black, lots of mountains, a man waring a green snakeskin jacket musing in song with quiet yearning.
Norway (SF2 06) Mørland & Debrah Scarlett, "A Monster Like Me"
Poland (SF2 17) Monika Kuszyńska, "In The Name Of Love"
Portugal (SF2 07) Leonor Andrade, "Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa"
Romania (SF1 15) Voltaj, "De La Capat/ All Over Again"
Russia (SF1 12) Polina Gagarina, "A Million Voices"
Bright white background, lots of cute kids. A solo singer with an inspirational marching/swaying song about us all having lots in common. "We are different, yet we're the same." Forgettable verses, but the refrain keeps getting me tapping my feet and singing along.
San Marino (SF2 03) Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola, "Chain of Lights"
Serbia (SF1 09) Bojana Stamenov, "Beauty Never Lies"
A crowd-sourced video which was well-edited; the crowd-sourcing really suits a song about everyone is beautiful however they are. "Finally I can say, yes I'm different and it's okay." It's such a charming undertaking.
Slovenia (SF2 16) Maraaya, "Here For You"
The song's rather catchy - I found myself singing it to myself yesterday while making dinner. I couldn't place it - in fact, I hadn't originally remembered it was a Eurovision entry.
So: a pragmatic-sounding singer wearing a white lace dress with a roughly distinctive voice. "When you're down, down low, sinking in the undertow, when you're down, down low, know that I am here for you." With a sort of robotic invisible-violin-playing fancily-dressed dancer in black with her on the soundstage where it was filmed.
Spain (F) Edurne, "Amanecer"
This video is hilarious! Leather glad man running through sepia-toned wheaten fields chased by a langorous title. Woman floating somewhere else in the dark wind singing, a Grecianesque goddess. The man finds the woman in a nearby field after unrealistically jumping off of a high cliff. Oh dear! The woman has turned into the tiger, and the man drops an engagement ring with the date in it of this year's Eurovision final! And now the woman is controlling the powers of nature.
A yearning solo song of love and separation.
Sweden (SF2 13) Måns Zelmerlöw, "Heroes"
"Don't tell the gods I left a mess, let's run for cover." A solo man with invisible back-up singers, using the magic of projected light The animated side-kick had better lose its dunces-cap before the contest. ARRRRGH. They have switched videos on me! It's now some bland bleached-out version of the guy singing with the lyrics superimposed. "Sing it like a hummingbird, the greatest anthem ever heard." Like a *hummingbird*?
So, this song. I think it will go far in the contest, but I'm feeling pretty ambivalent about it. The singer seems really upbeat about what's a very mixed message. Except for the bit about "yay, heroes".
Switzerland (SF2 14) Mélanie René, "Time To Shine"
The Netherlands (SF1 04) Trijntje Oosterhuis, "Walk Along"
A sweet song about wanting a romantic relationship with a friend. "Why won't you walk along, walk along baby?" I love the wistful confidence of the woman singing. Features weirdly self-conscious guy in steadily less clothing rubbing his hands together. I quiet like the song.
United Kingdom (F) Electro Velvet, "Still In Love With You
A chirpy song with cute pseudo-advice. "Don't go out in the pouring rain, you might get wet, I'd be upset." Toe-tapping fun, which has really grown on me. I'm glad that "Don't get in a fist-fight" is addressed to the woman. The video has 20s trappings with glow lights. I have high hopes it'll do well in the contest this year, for a change.
Bonus: the guy is a music teacher as my friend's daughter's school.