Eurovision Babbling pt. 2

Alright! Having written about the first semi-final, it’s time to tackle the acts that make up the second semi-final!

Lithuania – I love this song! Loooove. Love loooove. It’s bluegrass-y, Mumford & Sons-y goodness. It’s got a catchy chorus and is easy to sing along with. Especially that……………….pause! In the middle of the song. I think this will most definitely qualify. High hopes for it to do well after that, but I can’t say for sure.

Ireland – I quite like this song. Although last time I was gunning for Ireland, poor Ryan Dolan finished (UNDESERVINGLY) dead last. I definitely think that Molly Sterling is talented. I don’t know if she’ll qualify for the finals, though. I would love to hear this song on the radio, though.

San Marino – This song is well-composed. The vocals are cute. But meh. I’ll pass. Although San Marino could surprise everyone and possibly qualify like it did last year!

Montenegro – I’ve always really enjoyed the acts from Montenegro! Even more so, I like that they’re sung in Montenegrin! I don’t care if I don’t understand it, it’s beautiful to hear songs sung in native languages. I can’t say if they’ll qualify, but it’s a beautiful song.

Malta – Malta! Maltaaaaa! Every year, I gun for Malta to do well. And every year they DON’T. I feel like Malta is such an underdog every year and I hope that they do well this year! I’ll most likely keep loving them for years to come haha.

Norway – Man. Talk about a heavy song. I like it, though. What? No…no I’m not *sniff* I’m not crying. NO, YOU SHUT UP!

Portugal – Again, I love songs that are sung in their native language!! I was bored on my first listen but the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. Her voice is great!

Czech Republic – Sorry, Czech Republic. Not digging this.

Israel – One of the only uptempo songs this year, it seems. Cute song! It will most likely advance. Although, after last year’s SHOCKER of Mei Finegold not making it through, I don’t even know.

Latvia – Great vocals. I’m excited for this song. It will most likely qualify.

Azerbaijan – Meh. It’s alright.

IcelandYES. I think this is maybe my favorite song this year. I’m definitely getting some Emmelie De Forest and Taylor Swift here…but damn. I love it. And listening to this song in Icelandic? Even better! I hope this qualifies and does well!

Sweden – Alright. This is definitely an #UnpopularOpinion, but I really am not feeling Sweden’s song this year. Sure, it’s catchy, but that’s all. Måns is talented and I’ve liked him for years. But…this song is nothing really new to me. I mean, Sweden are always a powerhouse….but I’m really confused by the tidal wave of support that Sweden has this year. No doubt this will make it to the final and will collect an obscene amount of douze pointes….but I really don’t think Sweden deserves a win this year.

Switzerland – Meh. I would hate to have to perform after Sweden.

Cyprus – Meh

Slovenia – A ray of light in a forest a of ‘Meh’ closing acts for the second semi-final.

Poland –  Meh

 So those are my thoughts! What do you y’all think? Agree? Disagree? I’m especially curious to hear if anyone feels the same way about Sweden that I do haha. 

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Eurovision babbling 1

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! EUROVISION! 

Now, as an American, I love watching Eurovision. I find myself to be mostly objective about the entries. Being so far removed from Europe, I don’t get caught up in all the political hooplah. I think it’s really more about the performances for me.

It is a bit lonely sometimes, though. Most Americans know nothing about Eurovision! But there are some who do. They are the few glittering sequins adorning this dark, clueless tapestry of the U.S.

2015 is looking to be an interesting year. (Can we talk about AUSTRALIA, THOUGH?!)

Here are some of my thoughts on the entries this year! From the first semifinal:

Moldova –  Pretty generic 90s sounding Euro pop. Weren’t there also allegations of this guy cheating the national selection process with voter fraud? It sounds like a well-known song…but I can’t place my finger on it.

Armenia – Hmmm there was a lot of hype for this entry, right? They released all the members one by one etc. I usually love Armenia’s stuff, but this is a bit underwhelming.

Belgium – This sounds like a song by Lorde. Maybe a bit too downtempo for Eurovision? Might be a surprise hit, but I’m not terribly impressed =\

 The Netherlands – “Whyyy why yai yai yaiiiii” – this song sounds familiar to me too! Why?! Where is that hook from?! This song is catchy and, judging by the surprising (to me) 2nd place last year, the Dutch entry could be a surprise!

Finland – This entry. I’m torn. On one hand, I’m impressed and inspired that Finland sent this act. It’s incredibly brave – especially considering how nasty ESC fans in other countries can be. On the other hand…I feel like it’s a bit gimmicky? We’ve seen this kind of an act out of Finland before – and it won. But I doubt it’ll be repeated again. Plus, it’s incredibly short.

Greece – Greece, what? A ballad?! I always rely on Greece to provide me with some kickass, uptempo ethnic-sounding dance party tune! I’m not digging this =\ She’s talented and everything, but meh.

Estonia – I’m honestly surprised by how much I like the Balkan entries this year! This might be the weakest one, but I still enjoy it! I think Elina’s vocals definitely outmatch her dude counterpart. This song is catchy, though, and I think it’ll do well in voting. Most definitely making it through to the final.

F.Y.R. Macedonia – I think this song is nice. It works well with the music video…but I predict it will be kind of boring when performed live. Maybe I’m wrong, though.

Serbia – Guuuuuurl. This song definitely feels like a favorite this year. Although, I think it needs to be sung in Serbian. I feel like translating it to English kind of waters it down. At least mix the two languages like Poland did last year. I think it’ll advance, though. Definitely.

Hungary – Okay. Like, I get what they’re trying to do and I respect it. But I don’t think this song is going to be received well at ESC. They already had some controversy over it; a sentence referring to how many children were killed in the Gaza conflict was removed from the background. This is one of those politically-charged songs that just kind of ekes past the guidelines about ‘no political statements’.

Belarus – After the shitshow of an entry last year, I’m glad to see Belarus sending a better act. It’s catchy and it has a cool beat. It’s not one of my favorites, but I think it will definitely advance to the final.

Russia – Eh. I’m consistently underwhelmed by Russia’s entries (ever since the adorable grannies). This kind of song, though? From Russia? lolol. I just imagine a little asterik “A Million Voices*”

*just not the gay ones. 

Denmark – Alright, Denmark. It’s like you know you can’t win again. Kudos to this guy, he’s alright but I don’t think he’s really serious haha.

Albania – I like it! It’s catchy, the vocals are good and it’s well-composed. May probably advance.

Romania – This song is surprisingly good, I think. It sounds beautiful in Romanian – even though I don’t understand a word. I’m curious to see how it does.

Georgia – YASSSS. YASSS, GEORGIA, YASSSSS. I’m loving this. What parallel universe am I living in where I’m actually super excited about an entry by Georgia?? Last year’s entry was terrible. TERRIBLE. But this? I am here for this. I assume they’ll advance and I really want them to.

What do you think, ESC fans? Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

Eurovision Flops 2014

Every year, I fanboy about Eurovision to the point that my friends and family begin to avoid me. I can see it in their faces when I start to bring it up, ‘Oh jeezus,’ their eyes practically scream. ‘Here he goes talking about that godforsaken song contest in Europe again…’.

It is true, though. When Eurovision season hits, I’m oddly obsessed with it. I always get the album and jam out to it for a solid month during and after the contest. I think that, cheese and glitter aside, Eurovision produces some great music that crosses language and geographical barriers.

But…sometimes it doesn’t. Every year there are a handful of songs that I just can’t get in to. Some of them are just generally forgettable, but sometimes they are just so BAD that I wish they were able to be expelled from my mind.

This year, I’d like to devote a list of what I think are the

 

 Flops of Eurovision 2014

 

I can’t stop seeing the Tolmachevy Twins as Children of the Corn…

 

Russia – This song is terrible. I would be willing to overlook the incredibly original title ‘Shine’, but there is just so much wrong with this. The Tolmachevy twins are surely nice people, but they are just a bit…boring. And is this song really about promoting love? Like…Russia, really? Are we just going to pretend that your country doesn’t have an abysmal track record when it comes to human rights? ‘Make a brighter day’? For who, Crimea?

I’ve asked this question before but nobody seems to be able to answer: Does anyone think the whole thing between Russia and Ukraine going to be reflected in the voting this year? I’m genuinely curious.

Regardless, it’s a terrible song.

 

Georgia – Speaking of countries that Russia has invaded, wtf at Georgia’s entry this year? Seriously. It starts out okay enough, but then it’s almost as if the acid that they’ve all ingested kicks in and it just completely devolves into a bizarre mess of a song.

I’m a native English speaker and the lyrics are nonsensical as fuck. ‘Star Jam? Sky divers? Space Jam? Space Jump’? ‘All their wives? All their whys’??? I’m seriously at a loss of words for this song. I think it’s probably best if Shin and Mariko keep orbitting whatever psychadelic planet they’re on.

I SWEAR I hear ‘Space Jam’ in this song.

 

Lithuania – ATTENTION! Oh! okay, what?! ATTENTION! what?! what do you want from me?! I think it’s a shame this song made my list – the singer seems like a really sweet person. I think that the message, female empowerment (right?), is a good one. But the delivery is so frantic and the dancing is so all-over-the-place and jerky that I don’t know what to make of it. “I’m gonna make you fall, down d-d-down down on your knees!” What?

Ireland – I hate that Ireland ended up here, I really do. I always love the Irish entries! Last year, ‘Only Love Survives’ was actually my top pick. It then ended up in dead last and I felt so bad for poor Ryan Dolan.

The Irish entry this year just bores me. And…that’s about it. Sorry, Ireland. I still love you.

 

Latvia – Latvia has always been a joy for me to watch. I mean, their pirate entry in 2008 was amazing and I generally like what they send every year. But this? I think they’ve been sharing the same drugs that the band from Georgia has been using; only it seems they’ve baked them into a cake. This song is catchy, I’ll give it that, but I just can’t take it seriously. I can’t even enjoy how ridiculous it is. At least with Pirates of the Sea, it was fun ridiculous. This song is just…bad.

 

 

Belarus– The second Eurovision song this year to be about cake…go, Belarus. It’s as if they plucked the beat from a shitty karaoke version of a 90’s song. The poor vocalist is trying to be Robin Thicke, which is in and of itself pretty upsetting. The cheesy lyrics, bad instrumentals and obvious lack of chemistry between he and the poor girl forced to dance with him is painful to watch. Sorry, Belarus.

 

F.Y.R. Macedonia – You know, I think I’ve always kind of liked the Macedonian entries over the years, but this one? Hot messssss. Seeing her lip-sync (poorly) to this song when she won the national selection was cringe-inducing. She dances super awkwardly and kind of looks really uncomfortable on stage. When she fist-bumps, I just want it to stop. It’s a pity because the song itself isn’t terrible…but her stage presence is.

 

France – France seriously, what the hell? It literally sounds like they just blatantly copied Stromae and then added in some Major Lazer winding sounds a la Pon de Floor. It’s a shame because this song would be great if it weren’t so obviously ripping off another well-known French artist. Pour quois, France? Pour quois?

I had the same reaction, Stromae!

 

Germany – Gurl. This song makes me really uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the creepy accordion? It gives me a weird carnival vibe that I don’t like. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before in Eurovision and I find it quite boring, to be honest. Germany is lucky that it’s already advanced to the final. If it were to try to compete against the other countries with this song, I don’t think it would qualify.

 

Now, I don’t doubt that, in order for these artists to make it to Eurovision, they had to work incredibly hard. I really respect that they are all representing their countries and the hard work that it’s taken to do so. That being said, these are just my opinions.

 What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have another country that you think qualifies as a ‘Flop’? Leave a comment and let me know!

JPOP Friday! 5/2

 

This week’s featured Jpop Friday artist is CREAM!

I first heard about CREAM a few years back while living in Japan. They did covers to Western songs like Super Bass andI was really impressed with them.

Watching them evolve as artists has has been pretty impressive. Both Minami and Staxx T are incredibly creative and talented and it really shows in their music.

CREAM released they’re album DREAMIN’ last year in January and I really enjoyed it. Songs like Money Money Money, Firework and Whatever stuck out to me because they’re high energy and fun. Their song Shooting Star was also a pretty big hit and helped them break in to the mainstream spotlight.

Their new album #nofilter dropped on April 30th and, while more laid back and less in-your-face energetic than DREAMIN’, I think it still showcases their talent. Minami has a beautiful voice and Staxx T’s rapping is always fun to listen to.

Overall, #nofilter wasn’t what I expected but I still enjoyed it, though. CREAM is a fun group and they continue to put out great music that makes you want to move, smile and have a great time.

 

Favorite tracks: #nofilter, Nobody, Forever Young and Wonderland.

Similar artists: M-flo, Mademoiselle Yulia, capsule

 

What do you think of CREAM?

 

Confessions of a Eurovision Fanboy: Melodifestivalen

 

credit to Eurovision.tv

Let me take a break from Japan for a little bit. Believe it or not, I DO have other interests. It’s almost May, and you know what that means — EUROVISION SEASON.

Eurovision is something that isn’t known to many Americans but I have been a hardcore fan of it ever since I saw Norway win in 2009. I love it all – the cheese, the ridiculous performances, the various languages and the great pop music that comes from it. As an added bonus, it has helped me immensely in familiarizing myself with European (and Middle Eastern) geography. Before Eurovision, I (admittedly) had no idea where Croatia was. Nor Azerbaijan. I didn’t even know Azerbaijan was a country to be honest.

While there is so much more to discuss about Eurovision, I’ll just give a quick explanation for those who aren’t familiar with it: Imagine if the X factor, American Idol and the Olympics were combined into one massive event. That’s Eurovision.

Each country decides the song that they are going to send to the world stage to perform at The Final in May.

One country that I love seeing every year is Sweden, a bastion of amazing pop music. Every year, they host something called Melodifestivalen where various acts compete to represent Sweden at The Final. I missed the first Semi-Final but I was able to watch the second Semi-Final on this great music blog

Below are my thoughts as I watched the Second Semi Final. Please keep in mind that 1) These opinions are coming from an American. I don’t really have in-depth knowledge of pop culture in Sweden. Nor do I speak Swedish (unfortunately) and 2) They were written straight from brain to keyboard – don’t expect anything deep and moving 😛

***** MELODIFESTIVALEN SECOND SEMI FINAL THOUGHTS *****

This intro performance reminded me of Weinerville a bit too much. I don’t have fond memories of that show. Cute song, though.

1) JEM – This guy reminds me a bit of Cee Lo Green and kind of sounds like WIll.I.Am but not TERRIBLE. And the main blonde girl looks like Ke$ha! Oh hey, I can do this. This song is pretty catchy.

2) The Refreshments – Nope. Nooope. Sorry, guys. I’m an American and I live in Texas – I hear this music on the daily. Also, ‘Trail of Tears’? I’m hoping that’s just an unfortunate coincidence rather than a jab at American history.

3) Manda – OH SHIT. Sudden toweing orchestra?! OKAY! I’m digging this entry. It’s a positive, uplifting song and I get some Katy Perry ‘Firework’ vibes from it for some reason. I would think this is going to make it through to the final.

4) Panetoz Efter Solsken – OH DAMN. THIS IS BADASS. The moves, the , the rapping, the Caribbean-esque rhythm. Everything about this is great! Even the awkward white guy! This is such a feel good song and I love it! If these guys don’t make it through, I swear…

5) Pink Pistols – Guuuuurls. I feel like I’ve seen the Pink Pistols from Melodifestivalens past. They’re pretty fabulous and I think that they should party with the Scissor Sisters. I like the song and the performance was good. Kudos for being in drag!

*Dang, there are a lot of good performances in the second semi finals!

6) Sanna Nielssen – I’m not super fond of ballads, but she definitely gripped me with her voice. Her range is pretty incredible and I like how she’s real-time autotuning. Those backing vocals are hella loud, though.  Cool song but it wouldn’t be a top pick for me. I bet this is going to make it to the final, though. It just has that kind of feel about it.

7) Little Great Things – I feel bad for doing this but my American mind seems to instantly want to link these artists with American ones that I know! I’m getting a definite Green Day/Panic! at the Disco vibe from this group. I like it, though. I probably wouldn’t vote for it, however.

8)  Martin Stenmark – The buildup for this is pretty intense. I hope it’s worth it. It was. Although I don’t understand what he is saying, this song sounds very uplifting and I can definitely feel his emotion in his voice. I’m gonna say this could make it to the final. This is a pretty epic song.

*******

As it turns out, I was kind of right about the people who made it through to the final! I’m surprised that Manda was dead last, though. Even more surprised that the godawful country crooners were voted FIFTH! I really am just happy that Panetoz made it through. They are fantastic and I hope they go on to represent Sweden in Copenhagen!

Enough from me. Expect more Eurovision fanboy updates as May gets closer!