Music Features

The Singles Bar: Eurovision 2013 Special (Part Two)

Welcome to Part 2 of our Singles Bar Eurovision special. If you’re wondering what the Jiminy Cricket is going on, you’d be advised to check out Part 1.

Estonia: Birgit – Et Uus Saaks Alguse (English: So There Can Be A New Beginning)

The real tragedy about Estonia’s Eurovision participation this year is that the good people of that fine land didn’t choose this (possibly NSFW) ridicumazing piece of cartoon thrash metal from Winny Puhh to represent them in Malmö. Instead, they’ve plumped for Birgit, winner of the first series of Estonian Pop Idol in 2007. Et Uus Saaks Alguse is yet another piano-dominated ballad, which sounds like something you could have imagined Westlife singing back when they were a going concern (though judging from the video, Birgit eschews the use of chairs, leaving no opportunity for the dramatic stand-up-from-chair moment for the final chorus). It’s an entirely forgettable song – saccharine, syrupy and full of moments you’ve heard a million times before. Bland and pedestrian – it’ll probably win. 1/12

Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia: Esma and Lozano - Пред да се раздени (English: Before The Sunrise)

Esma Redžepova is a sexagenarian performer with twenty albums to her name who has fostered 47 children. Vlatko Lozanoski-Lozano is a 27 year old singer who came to fame through a Macedonian talent show. I have absolutely no idea why they are performing together but hey, let’s go with it. The catchily-titled Пред да се раздени is sung in both Macedonian and Romani, which is clearly a shameless ploy for votes, seeing as they’re such widely spoken languages. It’s a song that fits together just as well as the combination of vocalists – that is to say, not at all. Lozano’s parts are over-wrought soft-rock ballad in the One Republic style, and when Esma takes over, it’s all overbearing warbling, jerky beats and heavy bass stabs. Clearly the Macedonians thought putting together two popular performers from different generations might work well, but it’s the equivalent of making Ed Sheeran sing with Cliff Richard, then giving Cliff Richard’s section a Skrillex breakdown. A brave experiment gone badly, badly wrong. 0/12

Finland: Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me

Like seemingly everyone under the age of thirty in this year’s competition, Siegfrids is a graduate of her native version of The Voice. Her bio on the Eurovision site is full of the hashtag, #TeamDingDong, which is apparently a reference to her debut album rather than a tasteless comment on the recent death of Margaret Thatcher. Marry Me is a perky, jaunty pop song, and though the video suggests a strong, independent woman, the begging for a proposal in the lyrics and complete subservience to her significant other look set to put the feminist cause back about half a century (“I’ll play the game / I’ll take your last name"). It’s at this point that the significance of “ding dong” becomes clear – it relates to wedding bells. While not a bad tune in its own right, the peddling of the stereotype of the woman who can’t wait for marriage and the commitment-phobic man is exceptionally grating, and it makes Marry Me an unenjoyable experience. The video features a wedding as the final act (of course it does) and then finishes with Siegfrids’ partner proposing to her. I’m no expert in all this but someone’s got the chronology of that in a right old state, haven’t they? 5/12

France: Amandine Bourgeois – L’Enfer Et Moi (English: Hell And Me)

Bourgeois shot to fame when, yes, she won a French talent show. Seriously, this is getting ridiculous now. Anyway, there’s a dirty, bluesy feel to L’Enfer Et Moi, and her vocal style reveals she’s clearly a disciple of the Winehouse school of singing. This isn’t really Eurovision fodder, but it’s an enthralling song in its own right, even if it never quite takes flight when you expect it to. The guitar licks give it some much-needed edge though and the vocals certainly reach a dramatic climax, even if it isn’t quite matched by the music. Of all the songs so far, this is the main one you could imagine would fit most at home on British radio – probably Radio 2. Of course, that will never happen because, as we as know, British radio stations are only allowed to play one foreign language song a year, and they fulfilled this year’s quota by giving airtime to Asereje (The Ketchup Song) at 4am on 2nd February. 9/12

Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall

Another song, another TV talent show alumnus. This time it’s Tatishvili, who holds the sought-after title of Georgian Pop Idol 2009. Though this pair has never performed together before, they also have classical pedigree as well as having enjoyed pop success in their homeland. You can tell this song is intended as deep and emotional because there’s a lot of slow movement and wind blowing through hair in the video. It’s another ballad (yawn) with subtle hints of gothic melodrama that never quite make it through to the surface. Lyrics allude to “flying as if I had wings” and “sailing on a sea of dreams” and lots of other things that don’t actually make the slightest bit of sense. There’s an impressive held note before the obligatory key change, at which point every epic ballad cliché is thrown into the mix, with only the absence of a children’s choir preventing the bingo card from being filled. Thanks, but no thanks. 2/12

Key change count: 6

Germany: Cascada – Glorious

In relation to the earlier point about countries outside the UK actually putting a bit of effort in, Germany have decided to send one of Europe’s biggest 21st Century acts to Sweden, which sounds like a pretty decent tactic. Eurodance trio Cascada have sold over five million albums and fifteen million singles worldwide. In other words, they’re no slouches at this pop lark. If you’ve heard a Cascada song before then you’ll have a decent idea of what Glorious sounds like. A distinctly average pop song but thrust into your consciousness with rave synths and trance beats, achieving that peculiar feeling where you feel you’ve known a song for years despite never having heard it before. If we’re doing some kind of Cascada ranking system, Glorious is better than the happy hardcore of Everytime We Touch, but doesn’t quite reach the anthemic heights of Evacuate The Dancefloor. Given what’s gone before, Cascada truly sound like they’ve just taught the rest of Europe a lesson in dance-pop. 9/12

Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free

Finally, a sentiment we can all get behind. To begin with, Alcohol Is Free seems to be the song that sticks most closely to its national folk roots, but after the first verse, the drums enter, the ska licks begin and we’re firmly in Gogol Bordello territory. My Greek isn’t up to much, but the occasional dropped in names of various alcoholic drinks paint this as some kind of Hellenic version of Tubthumping. You’d like to imagine that, on the night, this performance would involve lots of traditional dancing, running around, and just generally a celebration of all things Greek, and presumably the alcohol on offer for free is ouzo. 10/12

Hungary: ByeAlexKedvesem (Zoohacker Remix) (English: My Darling)

Now here’s a thing – is this, I wonder, the first example of a remix being used as an official Eurovision entry? It appears the original version is what won journalist and singer, ByeAlex, the right to represent his country, but the remix has been chosen for the trip to Scandinavia. Kedvesem is a pretty, plaintive acoustic guitar-led track, reminiscent of perhaps José Gonzalez or even Nizlopi. It’s a little inconsequential though, which makes its success in ByeAlex’s homeland all the more baffling (it’s reached Number 1 in the Hungarian singles chart). With so many tracks to choose from, it’s difficult to see this sticking in too many people’s memories which is a shame as, taken in isolation, Kedvesem is a well-crafted little track. 8/12

Iceland: Eyþór IngiÉg Á Lif (English: I Have A Life)

Volcanic island and reviled supermarket chain, Iceland, have, from the looks of the press shots, seemingly chosen one of Maroon 5 to represent them at Eurovision. Ég Á Lif is a fairly by-numbers piano ballad with Gaelic undertones, though strangely the video is a mixture of rudimentary animation and footage of our hero on a boat gutting fish. My Icelandic is non-existent but from the rousing climax and the interspersion of real and imaginary from the video, the song appears to chronicle the fact that outside of everyday, Icelandic life, our man has much more important things going on. It’s never quite clear what these things are, though he does jump into the water fully-clothed at one point for some reason. For those of you concerned there hasn’t been a key change for quite some time, fret not - Eyþór Ingi is only too happy to oblige. 5/12

Key change count: 7

Ireland: Ryan Dolan – Only Love Survives 

I am refusing to review this in protest at Ireland not selecting Jedward for Eurovision this year. Anyway, it sounds like a Jason Derulo record. 0/12

Twenty down, nineteen to go. Part 3 is available here.