Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Countdown to Vienna Review - CZECH REPUBLIC!!!

The Czech Republic enter the ESC for the fourth time this year with the ballad "Hope Never Dies".  The country has not taken part in Eurovision since 2009 when an eejit in an orange cape flung himself around the stage singing about gypsies.  This year's entry from the Czech Rep couldn't be more different!

It's a ballad that could perhaps be more suited to the West End stage rather than the Eurovision stage, but it was written by the male half of the duo, Vaclav Noid Barta, who performs it with Marta Jandova.  Here, have a look!:

So what do our panel of pop pundits think?  Let's see...

Asta Bjornsdottir:  "Achhhh..... Quelle drama!!! He‘s not much of a singer and... and...... nei, takk. I´m not into this."

Hasse Skoldebjer: "10/10 for him! Woof!!! The song is ok, nothing special. 5/10"

Annemieke Kelleter - see review for Lithuania...!!

Adam and Charlotte Lane: "This is an over-the-top Phantom of the Opera / Evanescence / Pearl Jam mash-up.
Vocally, she's completely unnecessary, I would have preferred a screaming guitar solo instead. His voice is great. Only thing missing is Meatloaf crashing through the wall on his motorbike. I was upset to realise that wasn't going to happen. 1/10"

So mixed reviews from the panel - what do you think? Let us know below! :)

Vienna Countdown Review - LITHUANIA!!

You've gotta feel for Lithuania - they have never quite managed to get it right.  They've had years when they choose a great song for Eurovision only to have it disqualified (2002) and they've had years when they go through the most drawn out and complicated national final process known to man, only to choose a complete turkey of a tune for the ESC (practically every year).

This year though, could it be that they might not only qualify for the final, but actually end up on the left hand side of the scoreboard when the show is finished?  They've chosen two singers who are as cute as a pair of shiny buttons, with a feel-good sing-a-long vibe.  And here it is!:

Here's the views of the Euro Bureau panel:

Asta Bjornsdottir:  "Hmmm..... once again the guy is better than the girl... This is uptempo, simple and should be talking to me but it isn‘t . She‘s just not selling it to me!! Nahhh....."

Hasse Skoldebjer: "Lithuania: the first 30 seconds I thought, well this was a pleasant surprise. After 2 minutes I was waiting for it to end. The best ever entry from Lithuania, which doesn't say a lot to be honest. 6/10"

Annemieke Kelleter: "I'm going to review Czech Republic and Lithuania together because although they are in a completely different genre oddly for me they are very similar. Both duos consist of good professional singers with a nice stage presence. The voices fit well together and live they can deliver too. However... BIG however... although the songs are nice enough to listen to and don't have anything that puts me off they also do not have anything that makes me like them particularly. They just seem to be going nowhere, promising a lot, but somehow not delivering, filling their three minutes with melodies that are nice to the ear bit in no way original, creative, challenging or making me want to hear the songs again. This all being said, with the new what I like to call mediocrity rule concerning the jury/televote these songs might benefit from the fact that they are well delivered and not really off putting."

Adam and Charlotte Lane: "Love the indie-influenced jangly guitar, but tooo many gimmicks & predictable song structure marr this piece. Vocally, she's good, but he's too 'cruise-ship'. Would have been better with 2 female singers. 3/10"

So the panel have spoken!! What do you think about "This Time"? Are you feeling love? Let us know in the comments! :)

Vienna Countdown Review - AUSTRALIA!!!

Well the EBU really surprised us all earlier this year when they announced that Australia would be participating as a full entrant in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest, with a direct pass to the Final on the Saturday night.  Officially, Australia's participation is still being described as a "one-off", although if the Aussies go and win the thing, they will be back to defend their victory next year too.

And win the thing, they might!  While some Eurofans were expecting the Aussies to send an old-fashioned boom-bang-a-ding-a-dong style tune to the contest, they have confounded us all by sending one of their biggest stars with a song that is the soul-funk little brother of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson - fair play to them!

The singer is Guy Sebastian, and the song "Tonight Again" goes quite a lot like this:

Here's what the Euro Bureau Panel have to say about Australia:

Asta Bjornsdottir: "Sorry, but why are they in this competition??? But I like the song. It‘s a feel-good uptempo thing and I really hope he can sing live. This could do just fine."

Hasse Skoldebjer: " I think this or Italy will win. I love it, great modern song and a great singer. 9/10"

Annemieke Kelleter: "Australia! I looooooove this song. It's my number one up tempo song. Imo it would be very good for the contest if this won in the sense that it's so contemporary and after two years of typical ESC songs winning it might be good if a song that wouldn't look 'odd' in the normal charts would win. What I especially like about the song is that it oozes fun, joy and love for making music. The live performances I've seen were very very good and (okay okay this has nothing to do with the song whatsoever) in interviews he seems like such a down to earth sweet guy just wanting to make music. I love that attitude and it shimmers through in his performances. And, last but not least... Australia participating next year? I sure wouldn't mind if they send artists and songs of this quality!"

Adam and Charlotte Lane: "Is this the greatest ever debut Eurovision entry? The vocal delivery is excellent in this Ronson-esque soul-revival stomp. The piece is polished, well-produced with strong brass lines and a great build-up in the pre-chorus. I only hope the live version is as good as this. On the negative side, the limitations of the 3-min Eurovision format don't do this piece justice. The brass parts could be even more developed, with a longer, stronger instrumental section. Dare I say it ... is this piece too good for Eurovision? 7/10"

So, the EB Panel have spoken!! But what do YOU think? Why not leave us a comment and let us know! :)

Monday, 27 April 2015

Vienna Countdown Review - NORWAY!!!

Plucky Norway, once we pointed and laughed at you, and now we bow in the knowledge that you won the contest with a song that garnered more points than any other in Euro history!  Norway have done well in Eurovision of late, from the afore-mentioned winner, "Fairytale", to a dark and reflective ballad that they entered last year which saw them continue a run of getting to the final.

So it is not entirely suprising that this year, Norway has chosen a dark and reflective ballad that they hope will continue their run of getting to the ESC final! ;)

"A monster like me" is performed by Morland and Deborah Scarlett, and boy is it dark.  They've tried to liven it up a bit by getting Helen Mirren (not true) involved in a food fight in their video, speaking of which, here it is:

So let's consider the view of our panel on the Norwegian Song for Europe:

Asta Bjornsdottir: "I don‘t like her voice. Don‘t like their voices together, the harmony of their voices..... nahhh... I just can‘t understand the hype about this song, it was not my favourite of the Norwegian mpg. I‘m not voting for this."

Annemieke Kelleter: "It's my favourite this year. I love the way the music and the lyrics of this song fit together. The way their voices and looks are so different and yet merge so naturally. The Keane-esque melodies and the way the song builds up to the end, it's near perfect. Small comment, I do not like the very last part where, instead of singing together they seem to sing alternately, otherwise it's just brilliant."

Hasse Skoldebjer: "Norway, it's so dull and depressing it makes me want to slit my wrists. 1/10"

Adam and Charlotte Lane: "Great falsetto (from the male singer)! Wonderful melody - probably the most memorable tune of the three. I wish it would have 'gone somewhere' a lot sooner. There's a lot of potential here for this to become a massive dance anthem, but instead it 'fafs' about a little pretentiously. Great tune, bad arrangement. I wait for the remix. 4/10"

So the Euro Bureau Panel has spoken - what do you think? Leave us a comment below!! :)

Vienna Countdown Review - IRELAND!!!

We move on to our second song of today - the entry from Ireland.  Time was Ireland were the KINGS AND QUEENS of Eurovision!! They only had to turn up and be in the top ten.  The self-styled "Spiritual Home of Eurovision" top the medals table with 7 wins - and are likely to remain top of the table for a good while yet!

However it's a different story now. Apart from Jedward bouncing around the stage in 2011 which delivered them a top ten finish, it's true to say Ireland are struggling...  They've sent a Turkey Puppet, a former Euro champion with a big ballad, Jedward mark 2 and a dancey number with muscley blokes banging massive big drums in recent years, but always seem to be one step behind what the rest of Europe want to vote for...

So this year Ireland are sending a contemporary ballad by a very young performer, Molly Sterling, and here she is!:

It's all very well me rabbitting on about it, but what does the Euro Bureau Panel think about it?:

Asta Bjornsdottir:  "The song is ok, a bit monotonous though. The girl can sing but I´ve never been a fan of those „hot potato in the back of my thoat“ voices. After first listen I´m not sure I can remember this after 5 minutes."

Annemieke Kelleter: "Ireland... what can I say... I'm a sucker for these kind of songs. It's simple, sincere and has imo beautiful lyrics. Her voice could use a bit more depth, sometimes it tends to get a bit monotonous, but there, the beauty of ESC kicks in with the 3 minute rule All in all I love this song and she is such a talented singer/songwriter. I hope this will do well"

Hasse Skoldebjer: "Ireland, a very anonymous and forgettable song 2/10"

Adam and Charlotte Lane: "Some nice lilting Celtic melodies without the overuse of vocal gymnastics which plague so many examples of this genre. Lovely vocal harmonies, but please tune that piano! This piece probably doesn't need such a 'full' backing. The piano / vocal only bits are the best by far. Good. Could do well. 5/10"

So, mixed views from the panel here, but tell us what you think and comment below! :D

The Vienna Countdown Review Begins!! ARMENIA!!!

Well it's beginning to get *very* exciting!!  The Euro Bureau Team (well, me and Alan!) arrive in Vienna in exactly three weeks time :)  Before we do though, it's time to have a look at all of the competing entries in this year's contest, with some informed and considered opinion from what I like to call the Euro Bureau Panel :)

We'll be looking at two or three songs each day, and the order has been decided under the auspices of the EBU by random.org  The honour of opening the review falls to ARMENIA!!

This year Armenia have assembled a "super"group of six vocalists from six corners of the world, all with Armenian heritage.  They've thrown the kitchen sink at this one, it's original title was "Don't Deny" (which still forms most of the chorus), although they felt that in the centenary year of the genocide of Armenian people that some countries choose to deny happened, that this might be deemed too political...  So now it's called "Face the Shadow", and here it is!:

So what do our panel make of it?:

Asta Bjornsdottir (from Iceland):  "I love the beginning, the concept and the video is very strong but at the end where the high point of the song is supposed to be it just becomes noise and the ending .... ach.... . I am not into politics in Esc but this is very strong reminder and a warning for our present times and future."

Annemieke Kelleter (from the Netherlands): "Armenia, this song intrigues me. It's a bit messy but challenging. Not all the voices don't go particularly well together but in some parts the harmonies are beatiful. What I dislike about is is that some parts of it sound too made up/farfetched with strange melodies and transitions. Despite everything I always listen to this song til the end, so that's a good sign."

Hasse Skoldebjer (from Sweden): "Armenia, it's okish but a bit too pretentious imo. 5/10"

Adam and Charlotte Lane (from the UK): "This is a piece which simply tries too hard. It's an attempt at a duet aria which never quite hits the mark. There are some clever musical ideas, such as some nice chord progressions, but they never realise their promise. Its biggest failing is that of having too many ideas. The almost-acceptable chorus hook gets forgotten amongst the cornucopia of motifs. 2/10"

Well, that's what the EB Panel think, comment below and let us know what you think! :)

Friday, 17 April 2015

"It means nothing to meeeeeee!!"

Except of course, it does really!  As you probs know, the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 takes place in the Austrian capital of Vienna!  

I’ve never been to Vienna, although I can’t really say that “it means nothing to meeee”, and I think Midge might have been telling porkies too.  We all know that Vienna is famous for its waltz and for its big balls (steady!) after all, but there is so much about Vienna that I didn’t know, and look forward to bringing to life for you in May!  

For example:

  • Vienna is the only capital city to produce its own wine (so the internet says, at least)!  I hope they’ve had a bumper crop to cope with the influx of “press” and fans in May...
  • You remember PEZ sweets?  Those ones that pop out of a dispenser? Yup, they’re a Viennese invention!  Are they still a thing?  And snow globes were invented there too!  Oh Vienna, how *much* we owe you! 
  • Vienna is known as both “the city of dreams” and “the city of music”.  I dream about Eurovision all the time!! IT WAS MEANT TO BE J

So, wine, sweets and musical dreams – the 60th contest was always going to come to Vienna, wasn’t it? J

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Join Eurovision Debate on Facebook - it's fab there :-D

There are plenty of groups about Eurovision on Facebook, all with their own merits, but the only one that I contribute to (and as I am an admin there I am a bit biased!) is Eurovision Debate.  It's fun, friendly and respectful and full of lovely people.  If you wanna meet them, click here and join :)

Eurovision!!! Vienna!!! Glitter and Glamour!! Excitement!!!

The exciting news is that the EBU has approved my press accreditation for the contest in Vienna, so I will definitely be able to bring you the latest news and gossip from the Eurovision in May - yippee!!

The Euro Bureau blog will be brought to you in conjunction with the "Eurovision Debate" Facebook group - I'm an admin there, and it is the best place on the internet to hang out and chat Eurovision, if I do say so myself!  There's over 3,600 Eurofans there that are just waiting to meet you! :)

So, plans for the blog?  I'll be reviewing the songs for this years' contest, starting shortly, and will employ a crack team of eurovision fans music experts to help me with this!  I'll bring you all the news about the show ahead of the contest in Vienna, and I'm hoping to stalk meet Electro Velvet, the UK act (well I am a Brit!) ahead of the contest.

I'll focus on what makes the contest the fabulous event that it is, with a weekly "Fan Focus", when I get down and dirty (ooer!) with another uber-fan like me, and find out a bit more about them...

I'll also link to other content that features in the "Eurovision Debate" group, such as playlists of contest and competitions that are taking place, results of fan votes, and I'll highlight any exciting debate that is going on there to encourage you to join in yourself!

There will be plenty more too, I am very aware that I am lucky to be accredited, and I will certainly do my best to make full use of my press pass and bring you all the news and gossip you want!

Now then, I'm off to buy a massive inflatable Israeli hammer.... ;)
Dan x