Eurovision 2016- The Music

I have done this exercise on both Twitter and Face book in the past. I listen to the years entries and write quick blurb, usually about how terrible the song is, and leave. It irritates the normal people of this planet- you know, the ones who think Eurovision is some sort of trashy pop music song contest with crazy fans that have no taste in music (these are the same people who drone on and on about the genius of the band you hate). So I’m leaving it on the blog, those who want it can read it. I mean, we’re really the sane ones, right, Eurovision fans?

  1. Finland “Sing It Away” by Sandhja

Previous Entry: 2015’s “Aina mun pitää”. Did not qualify for the Final.

Previous win: 2006

Finland frequently sends the bizarre and the interesting- Lordi was their winning act after all, and last year they sent a punk band whose members were all people with Down’s Syndrome that was kinda awesome. An emotional favourite, they failed to ascend to the Final. This year’s entry is fairly normal. It’s a middling Euro dance track. It is neither interesting nor bizarre. So it will probably make it to the final. I’m bored by it already.

2. Greece “Utopian Land” by Argo

Previous Entry: 2015’s “One Last Breath”. Finished 19th in the final.

Previous Win: 2005

Greece has three modes: pretty people singing mediocre Greek folk dance pop songs; weird ass rock bands; and atonal hip hop over traditional music sounds.  Greece almost always makes it to the final and I expect them to be there again, but this song sadly falls into the last of those categories. I do not like it one bit.

3. Moldova “Falling Stars” by Lidia Isac

Previous entry: 2015’s “I Want Your Love”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous win: none

I’m usually drawn to Moldova’s entries- previous years involved projection dresses, Emily Deschanel  lookalikes on unicycles,  and Epic Sax Guy. This year they seem to have decided to try to win by sending a good (for  Eurovision) Euro dance track sung by  a pretty girl. If you liked last years winner (I didn’t, but for different reasons than the music)- you should like this ( which I do, but I love good dance tracks!)

4. Hungary “Pioneer” by Freddie

Previous entry: 2015’s “Wars For Nothing”. Finished 20th in the final.

Previous win: none

I love Hungary’s music more often than not. I adored last year’s sweet folk song, I’ve previously espoused the brilliance of ByeAlex and Kati Wolf. But when Hungary turns dirge like and mopey I enjoy them less. I strongly disliked the song “Running” from 2014, and this song reminds me of that.  Freddie himself is very pretty- I expect a lot of chatter about him from Eurovision fans. Sometimes pretty is all it takes to finish higher up the ladder than your song should be.

5.  Croatia “Lighthouse” by Nina Kraljic

Previous entry: 2013’s “Mizerja”. Did not qualify for the Final.

Previous win: none

A welcome return from one of the Balkans, though Croatia have never been a force in Eurovision, frequently overshadowed by their bolder neighbours Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, and FYR Macedonia (the less said about Montenegro’s song record, the better). While this year’s entry is pretty, it’s lacking personality and a hook to grab you boldly by the lapels.

6. The Netherlands “Slow Down” by Douwe Bob

Previous entry: 2015’s “Walk Along”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous wins: 1957, 1959, 1969, 1975

I’m struggling to remember last year’s song, but I can clearly remember the Common Linnets from 2014. So does the Netherlands. In 2014 they finished second, their highest position in decades, with a gorgeous country inspired ballad. So they are trying again with “Slow Down”. And I’m a sucker for alt-country inspired tracks from places where country music is exotic. I really like this song, even if it’s fairly simple in both style and melody. Since I like it, expect it to not go anywhere.

7. Armenia “LoveWave” by Iveka Mukuchyan

Previous entry: 2015’s “Face the Shadow”. Finished 16th in the final.

Previous win: none.

Is it just me, or did Armenia rip off Latvia’s entry from 2015? I first thought my playlist had jumped when listening. But no, after last year’s dour history lesson, Armenia decided Latvia’s surprise top ten finish would be a winning idea to steal. On the surface the song is fine, but Latvia’s song was better. Sorry.

8. San Marino “I Didn’t Know” by Serhat

Previous entry: 2015’s “Chain of Lights”. Did not qualify for the final

Previous win: none. 

San Marino has five singers in the whole country.This year they sent their version of Leonard Cohen, singing a bizarre disco inspired love song. It’s as bad as that sentence suggests.

9. Russia “You Are The Only One” by Sergey Lazarev

Previous entry: 2015’s “A Million Voices”. Finished second in the final.

Previous win: 2008

Bookies have picked Russia to win. It’s a good song, and Russian entries have a tendency to underwhelm me. Would I object to a Russian win? No, not for this song. Is it my favourite? No.

10. The Czech Republic “I Stand” by Gabriela Gunciková

Previous entry: 2015’s “Hope Never Dies”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous wins: none

It’s fine. Girl can sing, it’s a nice if bland piano ballad. It’s not amazing, it’s good, it’s… God, I’m bored.

11. Cyprus “Alter Ego” by Minus One

Previous entry: 2015’s “One Thing I Could Have Done”. Finished 22nd in the final.

Previous win: none

I’m a sucker for rock bands at Eurovision. This one got me immediately. Cyprus are always also-rans. This year they are my bridesmaid pick. It’s my second favourite track of the 2016 contest.

12. Austria “Loin d’ici” by Zoë

Previous entry: 2015’s “I Am Yours”. Finished 26th in the final.

I was the only person on earth who loved Austria’s 2015 song. It looks like I am the only person on earth who dislikes the 2016 selection. Twee presentation and a weak ballad. I’m not moved.

13. Estonia “Play” by Jüri Pootsmann

Previous entry: 2015’s “Goodbye To Yesterday”. Finished seventh in the final.

Previous win: 2001

Estonia sometimes sends these evocative, moody  pop songs that are stylized and weird. This is one of them. I love this side of Estonian pop music. In my top ten easily.

14. Azerbaijan “Miracle” by Samra

Previous entry:  2015’s “Hour of the Wolf”. Finished 12th in the final.

Previous win: 2011

The Azeri’s have stopped being desperate. The early years of their participation were dotted with over the top stagings of not great songs that reeked of desperation and delusion. Their 2011 win was ridiculous in my opinion. But the last three years have produced some good songs. I like this one a lot. Bonus vote for her hair, which I envy.

15. Montenegro “The Real Thing” by Highway

Previous entry: 2015’s  “Adio”. Finished 13th in the final.

Previous win: Ha ha. None.

The thirteenth place finish of last year’s atrocity was the best finish Montenegro has ever had.  I do not expect them to improve on that. This weird, atonal rock song is thoroughly unpleasant to listen to.

16.  Iceland “Here Them Calling” by Greta Salóme

Previous entry: 2015’s “Unbroken”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous win: none.

Greta has been here before, as part of a duo.  Iceland is the only Scandinavian country to never win Eurovision ( they have come in second and third). I don’t know if this song will be the one to do it for them. While I love it, I don’t know if it’s interesting dance melody and deep drums will work on the stage.

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina “Ljubav Je” by Dalal & Deen f. Ana Rucner and Jala

Previous entry: 2012’s “Korake ti znam”. Finished 18th in the final.

Previous win: none.

I have loved a couple of Bosnian songs deeply over the last several years. This is not one of them. There is some sort of weird rap breakdown towards the end which is beyond ridiculous.  And the guy’s eyebrows distract me.

18. Malta “Walk on Water” by Ira Losco

Previous entry: 2015’s “Warrior”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous win: none.

Losco changed her song after the previous one failed to inspire much passion or talk. I wasn’t a big fan. I’m not a big fan of this one either. Malta has sent some incredible acts over the years. I wish that this was on par with them.

19. Latvia “Heartbeat” by Justs

Previous entry: 2015’s “Love Injected”. Finished sixth in the final.

Previous win: 2002

Just a whole bunch of no all over the place. Bland, bad singing, bad everything. No no no.

20. Poland “Color of Your Life” by Michal Szpak

Previous entry: 2015’s “In the Name of Love”. Finished 23 in the final.

Previous win: none

He’s pretty. He has a pretty song. He sings it prettily.

21. Switzerland “The Last of Our Kind” by Rykka

Previous entry: 2015’s “Time To Shine”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous wins: 1956, 1988

Pretty girl. Awful song.

22. Israel “Made of Stars” by Hovi Star

Previous entry: 2015’s “Golden Boy”. Finished 9th in the final.

Previous wins: 1978, 1979, 1998

Israel is one of the more consistent countries, sending good songs on a regular basis. This is one of the more superior entries in recent years, a pretty little ballad sung by a sweet guy. Never underestimate sweet boys in a singing contest. American Idol taught me that.

23. Belarus “Help You Fly” by Ivan

Previous entry: 2015’s “Time”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous win: none

The brouhaha over Ivan’s desire to perform naked with wolves on the stage overshadows that this is one of Belarus’s better entries in it’s very terrible Eurovision song canon. I mean, it’s no “I Love Belarus”…

That’s a good thing. Believe me.

No one loves quasi Soviet style dictators with no sense of humour.

24. Serbia “Goodbye” by ZAA Sanja Vucic

Previous entry: 2015’s “Beauty Never Lies”. Finished tenth in the final.

Previous win: 2007

The Balkan nations have frequently sent big ballad belters (think Christina Aguilera). This song is in that vein, but I’m quite fond of it. Serbia is the only former Yugoslavian nation to win Eurovision since the break up twenty plus years ago. I expect this song to do well next week for them.

25. Ireland “Sunlight” by Nicky Byrne

Previous entry: 2015’s “Playing With Numbers”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous wins: 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996

The (still) most victorious of all Eurovision nations, Ireland might just do it again if I had my way. This is by far my favourite of all the songs, a bright pop song sung by a former boy band member. This is my idea of a Eurovision song, folks. It’s damn good.

26. FYR of Macedonia “Dona” by Kaliopi

Previous entry: 2015’s “Autumn Leaves”. Criminally did not qualify for the final.

Previous win: none

Kaliopi have been here before with a waaaaaaay better song. This is firmly in ballad land, and while the lady can SANG, I wish the song was better. It’s just not working for me this time, sweetie.

27. Lithuania “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night” by Donny Montell

Previous entry: 2015’s “This Time”. Finished eighteenth in the final.

Donny’s another returning act. He did well previously for Lithuania, but this song is even better than “Love is Blind”. I am also a sucker for upbeat dance pop along with rock bands at Eurovision.

28. Australia “Sound of Silence” by Dami

Previous entry: 2015’s “Tonight Again. Finished fifth in the final.

Previous win: none

I think Eurovision opening the contest to Australia was a brilliant move. It adds a new voice and a new region to the mix and may make an impact on the voting in a positive way. Is it the end of regionalism? God, no. People vote for the songs they hear over and over again. But seeing the passion the Australians have for this exercise, letting them continue on is a great idea.

As for the whining about Australia obviously not being a European country- Israel. Still not on the European continent.

Just saying.

The song is good. Australia has a history of great pop songs. They have Kylie.  Will it win? I don’t think so. But it will finish high up the table.

29. Slovenia “Blue and Red”  by ManuElla

Previous entry: 2015’s “Here For You”. Finished fourteenth in the final/

Previous wins: none

Full disclosure: one of my bestest friends is Slovenian. I am biased toward the nation that allowed that wonderful woman to grow up to be awesome like she is.

She apologizes frequently for her country’s inability to produce a great Eurovision song. it doesn’t help that Eurovision brings out the worse in some countries. But I think that Slovenia’s record is actually pretty decent, 2010’s debacle not withstanding. Last year’s entry was really cool in both style and sonics. This year they crib a little of the Americana guitar. It’s an okay song- I find it inoffensive as music. But in Eurovision terms, unless the staging is amazing, it might get lost in the mix.

30. Bulgaria “If Love Was A Crime” by Poli Genova

Previous entry: 2013’s “Samo shampioni”.  Did not qualify for the final.

Previous win: none

Poli Genova previously participated in 2011, where she failed to qualify for the final with her totally amazing “Na Inat”, a song that stuck with me and made such an impact that it actually appeared on my 2011 best songs list. I like her song this year, too, even if it’s less rock and roll and more dance inspired. Maybe that dance vibe is enough to make her impact like she should.

31. Denmark “Soldiers of Love” by Lighthouse

Previous entry: 2015’s “The Way You Are”. Did not qualify for the final.

Previous wins: 1963, 2000, 2013

Full disclosure: I am half Danish. My father was born there. So I’m surprisingly very Danish for a Canadian. So I favour Denmark almost every year on tribal instinct alone.

Except this year. I don’t like it.  Sorry, Denmark. This year, my Irish half wins out.

32. Ukraine “1944” by Jamala

Previous entry: 2014’s “Tick-Tock”. Finished sixth in the final.

Previous win: 2004

This year’s dreary quasi-political history entry is from conflict  heavy Ukraine. The Russian delegation were pissed when this song was not disqualified. The rules do clearly state political songs are not permitted, but songs with political messages have been a part of Eurovision since the sixties. It’s among the favourites to win. That is purely on politics. The song is awful.

33. Norway “Icebreaker” by Agnete

Previous entry: 2015’s “A Monster Like Me”. Finished eighth in the final.

Previous wins: 1985, 1995, 2009

I like it when the Scandinavians get all moody and sing songs referring to Icebreakers and snow and stuff. We invented death metal. We write dark as fuck pop songs. So I like this song. Musically more interesting than most Eurovision pop songs with tempo shifts in the chorus. Always applaud when music is more than you expect it to be.

34. Georgia “Midnight Gold” by Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz

Previous entry: 2015’s “Warrior”. Finished eleventh in the final.

Previous win: none

Is it a year ending in an even number? That explain’s the weirdness of this year’s Georgian entry. No country is consistently Jekyll and Hyde musically like Georgia. While this year’s entry is very odd in the mosaic of sound and the lyrics, it’s still not the weirdest the country has sent. I don’t see it doing particularly well, though.

35.  Albania “Fairytale” by Eneda Tarifa

Previous entry: 2015’s “I’m Alive”. Finished seventeenth in the final.

Previous win: none

Albania is proving to be an interesting musical nation, having sent dance pop, weird jazz, proto folk punk, and green gimp suits.This song though adds nothing to that rich legacy. I’m convinced Albania will win one day. Not in 2016.

36. Belgium “What’s The Pressure” by Laura Tesoro

Previous entry: 2015’s “Rhythm Inside”. Finished fourth in the final.

Previous wins: 1986

Ummmmmmm. First, that bass line is totally “Rapper’s Delight”/ “Good Times”. Second, this is BAD Europop. Bad. Bad bad bad.

Just… bad.

37. France “J’ai cherché” by Amir

Previous entry: 2015’s “N’oubliez pas”. Finished 25th in the final.

Previous wins: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1969, 1977

In a rare decision, France has sent a song in which French is not the only language. Previous songs with English lyrics have created controversy at home, but one of those songs, Sebastien Tellier’s “Divine”, is a classic pop song. France’s self-importance often comes through in its song choice. This year’s song, however, is a delightful and pretty pop song. I like it when the Big Five take the damn contest seriously and attempt to win it.

38. Germany “Ghost” Jamie-Lee

Previous entry: 2015’s “Black Smoke”. Finished 27th in the final.

Previous wins: 1982, 2010

Last year they finished dead last, but “Black Smoke” was the only Eurovision 2015 song i heard playing in Canada.  I didn’t particularly like it at the time but it has grown into a tolerable song over time. I don’t like Germany’s entry this year, ether. It has a drone I find unpleasant. That being said, Germany is the only Big 5 country to win Eurovision since the Big 5 concept was introduced.

39. Italy “No Degree Of Separation” Francesca Michielin

Previous entry: 2015’s “Grande amore”. Finished third in the final.

Previous wins: 1964, 1990

Italy took a 14 year break, returning to the contest in 2011, and have sent consistently great songs since, even if the voting fails to reflect it. I love this song, it’s one of my favourites of 2016. They have also been taking the contest seriously, so you know I’m loving it.

40. Spain “Say Yay!” Barei

Previous entry: 2015’s “Amanecer”. Finished 21st in the final.

Previous wins: 1968, 1969

Spain notoriously sends terrible music. This is probably in the top five songs they have ever sent. It has really gown on me in the last few weeks. I can see it doing really well for Spain or be an atrocious nul pointes for them.

41. Sweden “If I Was Sorry” Frans

Previous entry:  2015’s “Heroes”. Finished first in the final.

Previous wins: 1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012, 2015

Sweden gave us ABBA. They have given us golden shoes and Euphoria. They are consistent in the quality of their songs. But sorry, “Sorry”. You just aren’t catchy, inventive, or great.

So, so sorry.

42. The United Kingdom “You’re Not Alone” by Joe and Jake

Previous entry: 2015’s “Still In Love With You”. Finished 24th in the final.

Previous wins: 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981, 1997

Of all the countries, the one that complains the loudest about their failure to win is the U.K. It might garner some sympathy if they, say, sent great songs. People know what the U.K. has musically. It’s a slap in the face of smaller countries who are sending their biggest stars to send an act like Joe and Jake. The U.K. has let the fact they see the Eurovision song contest is a giant joke colour their song selection for two decades, and since their broadcast is the one most viewed, the slightly racist commentary of the late Terry Wogan coloured the world’s view of the contest. The fact is the U.K. isn’t winning because their songs suck. And this year is another terrible pop song.

Their last great showing was 2011 when a reformed Blue went with “I Can”, which was a great pop song sung by a known entity. Their last top five finish was in 2009, when Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote an appropriately over the top Broadway style belter. Take it seriously as a song contest and maybe you will get your votes back.


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