The Eurovision 2018 Review: Day 17

I’ve lived with a Welshman for the past 15 years.

In that time, I’ve been introduced to various aspects of his home country’s culture – especially the music. The choirs, the indie-ish pop and most importantly, Can i Gymru, the Welsh language preliminaries for the Pan Celtic Song Festival, broadcast on S4C every St David’s Day.

It’s probably not appointment telly for every Eurovision fan out there but it was the event which sprung to mind on first hearing of this year’s Georgian entry. Coupled with Wales’ success (a silver medal no less) in the first Eurovision Choir of the Year competition, forgive me if things were going all Celtic round my eardrums instead of Georgian.

This isn’t my first time at the Eurovision rodeo. I know not to take polished studio recordings of an entry as any indication of success once it transfers to rehearsal week. Flipping that coin over, I was so convinced The Common Linnets and their Calm After the Storm would bomb after being so thoroughly bored by it in preview season that the subsequent toastiness of my fingertips has taught me to look at the Eurovision line-up in the broadest picture possible.

While an art video presenting For You in some form of disused silo is never going to be the most exciting thing in the world, it’s clear that when these boys get on stage and do this live, there’s real potential for a spine-tingling combination of close harmony, control and power which could get the right people sitting up and taking notice.

There’s always one song in rehearsals which comes out of nowhere like an Agatha Christie plot twist and this could be the one. It won’t light up the world’s charts, it won’t get a 7th Heaven remix and nobody will be humming it in the street the Sunday after the final. But it could also provide one of those all-important Eurovision ‘moments’ – and we should never underestimate the power of those.

The Eurovision 2018 Review: Day 16

Iceland sort of did it in 2005 and nobody else has come even close to doing so until this year’s entry from FYR Macedonia.

With Eurovision having a strict three-minute max rule on the songs, one thing I’ve always been fascinated about is the concept of a country trying to do the Contest equivalent of Bohemian Rhapsody. That is, steer a composition through as many different genres as possible, retain its melodic integrity without ever sounding contrived and – thanks to the rulebook – doing all that in around half the time it took Freddie and friends.

Eye Cue’s Lost and Found is about the closest I’ve ever heard and it’s enjoyable enough, switching from off-the-peg pop to something with a hint of reggae and then something else a little rockier. I really like this and it stays just the right side of contrived. I’d also love to see it do well but there’s a concern about the way this meanders from one style to the next.

It knows it’s going to get there but there’s no sense of urgency in doing so. If the transitions were a little slicker and played around with a few more genres (imagine this going full-on popera at the end) then it would be a full-on contender for the title. Let me be clear, this is still a boss pop song but the listener deserves to hear the chorus at least one more time before those three minutes are up.

One thing we don’t have to worry about is Eye Cue’s ability to pull this out of the bag live. Reports from the first public performance of Lost and Found had thumbs up all round and they’re a tight outfit (even tighter than the pink thing worn in the video) so there’s still potential for the live chops to impress in Lisbon.

The only other note of concern relates to FYR Macedonia from last year. Dance Alone was such an irresistible package when laid in the table before us in the form of a promo and studio version. Come Kyiv, seeming budgetary restrictions from FYROM telly saw it performed in the most basic way possible which did nothing for the tongue-in-cheek style of the song.

This song deserves the sort of staging that shows off its gradual gear changes. It doesn’t have to cost the earth to achieve that either. Eye Cue deserve to do well – not to be left lost and foundering.

The Eurovision 2018 Review: Day 15

It takes a brave soul to wear a roll-neck jumper. Even a black one. The moment that collar makes contact with your chin, woe betide any excess fat you may have dangling south.

Luckily for this year’s French entrants, they have no such concerns. Being French, they are automatically sophisticated, slinky and a tiny bit sexy – perfect for the stripped back gear they’ve got on to sing this.

Mercy comes from the most involved French national final in years which saw some perfectly brilliant pop navigate a course through to a final where Madame Monsieur charmed the public if not the juries. That said, there was so much quality on show, whatever wound up winning had the potential to do decent things in Lisbon.

It’s always interesting to see a Eurovision song tread the line between commenting on world events without worrying the ‘no politics’ rule. With this being a comment on the plight of refugees who risked their lives – losing them in some cases – in an attempt to reach the comparative safety of mainland Europe, it would take someone particularly stone-hearted to go through the lyrics with a chunky red marker.

The preview video makes this message even more stark as sympathisers are filmed in key locations around the continent, wearing either the silver foil blankets which provide warmth in a crisis or the life jackets that symbolise support in a crisis.

That makes the perfect visual accompaniment to this sombre anthem. It could have been bombastic, overblown and preaching in its delivery but instead delivers its message with admirable restraint.

Mercy may be just that little too simplistic to bring about France’s sixth victory in total and its first in 41 years. While this is undeniably a great blend of electronica production and considered songwriting, the lack of bangs and whistles may make this go over the heads of Eurovision’s Saturday night voters.

Eurovision 2018: Sorting the UK treats from the chaff

Well, that was a long trip to the shops for some Murray Mints. Eight years after negotiating the aisles of Aldi, Dot is back in business (for the three or four of you that remember her) for Whoops Dragovic in a slightly different form than she was before. Call it a nip and tuck from a non-EBU sanctioned Botox clinic.

Here, you’ll hopefully find some views on what’s afoot in the Eurovision song-picking world and what better place to start than the supposed shortlist of six UK You Decide finalists posted up on the Digital Spy Eurovision forum earlier today.

Dot has put her awkwardly fitting researching pants on (the ones that chafe), in order to keep her alert at all times when rating the likelihood of these acts actually making it to Brighton on February 7 for the all-important anointing as the British representative in Lisbon this May.

But that’s been three pars of prattling now. Dot wants to be chafe-free as quickly as possible so let’s consider the evidence.

  1. Legends performed by Max Murphy

Oh, how the leaker likes to tease. If there’s one song title which has been rumbling around the You Decide jungle since the songwriting camps of summer 2017, it’s this. The chief reason is that there’s a chance, just possibly, this piece of what is struggling to break free of the term ‘tropical pop’ right now could be a potential contender in both Brighton and Lisbon.

Of course, ‘tropical’ as a definition throws up such musical notions as Amazulu’s Too Good To Be Forgotten and Ace Wilder’s Wild Child from last year’s Melodifestivalen, so as a term it’s as helpful as saying you’d like a green jumper for your birthday (what shade? what collar? a thick ‘un? a thin ‘un?).

It is the song title that won’t go away, however. So let’s move on to the singer.

If it’s the Max Murphy that appeared on The Voice in 2014, then his social media action isn’t giving many hints that he’s got something exciting up his rolled-up rockabilly sleeves.

Except…

On December 1, the Glasgow-based indie rocker (so would he feasibly be given some tropical pop to sing?) posted an otherwise innocuous tweet stating: “Good fun last night with my first ever photoshoot!” followed by the potentially teasing hashtag #undescoveredmusic (sic) among the not-so tropical #rhythmandblues

At the end of each hint, we’ll give a feasibility rating, based on any supporting evidence we can summon up (and you will notice, number one on the list is a far longer entry than all the others) . So…

The feasibility of Legends: Song 75%, Singer 20%

2. Home performed by Kelsey-Beth Crossley

We did say the other five would be more scant on detail (because, basically, Legends is the only song title most people have heard about via their various sources).

Kelsey-Beth is an actress with links to both Emmerdale and musical theatre (the header on her Twitter page shows her in a Scooch-style situation with X-Factor finalist Marcus Collins). Since she hasn’t updated her account since a retweet in October, no clues there. There’s no joy on her Instagram account either as it’s been new-snap-free since January 2014.

The feasibility of Home: Song N/A, Singer N/A

3. Rivers performed by Joe Astley

A quick look at this gentleman’s Twitter account shows he’s the lead singer of a band called The Back Pages with an old-school (and I can’t believe this is the second time such a word is being used so soon in the same post) rockabilly/Gene Vincent style which brings to mind that Presley-based *thing* Belgium sent a few years back.

There’s no other hintage of a Brighton/Portuguese variety here, although it seems Joe does play the Liverpool clubs rather often, so even if he is a big fib, I’m now feeling the need to pop along to one of his haunts and see what he’s all about.

(And before anyone asks, any family connection to Rick Astley is unbeknowns to the Never Gonna Give You Up crooner himself, although Joe has reached out to him on social media.

The feasibility of Rivers: Song N/A, Singer N/A

4. Want You Back performed by Judyshouse

To be honest, Justinshouse could be on this supposedly leaked list and we’d be none the wiser.

What’s even mire frustrating is that their Twitter account hasn’t been updated since 2011. The same applies for their Facebook page and considering the band has seven members, somebody would have to sit and wait in the green room for them anyway, so where’s the fun in that? For those who would like to find out more about this Christian ethos jazz group founded by the amazing Laura Mvula, give ’em a Google.

For now, we have no idea what they’re up to on February 7.

The feasibility of Want You Back: Song N/A, Singer N/A

5. Inferno performed by Anna Pancaldi

Finally. A nugget for you. Well, a nugget-ette.

A tweet to Anna from one of her fans enquired about the location of ‘Home’ on her recent output as it didn’t seem to be there. No real drama – except Home is one of the songs suggested to be o the shortlist, albeit performed by someone else.

Not only that, her touring schedule for the week of Eurovision: You Decide has a lovely gap on the 7th – with a London gig the next day.

London. That’s quite close to Brighton, isn’t it?

The feasibility of Inferno: Song N/A, Singer 20%

6. Swimming performed by Lucie Barat

At this juncture, we can only speculate at the watery nature of any song Lucie may or may not be singing. BUT there is this tweet from January 6 which Whoops Drag0vic may or may not have just over-analysed:

“Radio killed the video star… news coming! [imagine a V-for-victory and smily emoji here].

Well, the songs will (presumably) have their preview on Ken Bruce’s radio show as we get closer to the week of Eurovision: You Decide. Is this what Lucie has been hinting at? or has her DAB just fallen on Max Headroom and pulled his plug out? That’s really not for us to say.

The feasibility of Swimming: Song N/A, Singer 20%

So there you have it. A leaked list which we can only speculate about for another month. If you did want me to put my neck on the line so soon after Dot’s resurrection (hope I can still duck down that far), I’d say Legends is more or less nailed on and out of the six acts on the list, I’d be more confident of Lucie and Anna appearing than the others, with perhaps Home cropping up courtesy of a different singer.

Other than that, it’s speculation season! Enjoy it.

And we hope you’re pleased that Whoops Dragovic is back. Do leave us a comment.