An American’s picks for the Eurovision 2014 Final

Okay, Europe, this is it! Tomorrow is the night countless Eurovision fans from all over the world have been waiting for – The Grand Final. 

 I will be tuning in with two friends in the afternoon and we will be watching in glee as the finalists take the stage and sing, dance and whistle their hearts out to win the coveted douze points

 I must say that I was shocked that Israel didn’t qualify for the final. I was then enraged to find that Belarus out of all the acts made it through. Seriously, one of the WORST SONGS (in my opinion) made it through while the amazing Mei Finegold sashayed away. Europe, what happened? I was also surprised that San Marino and Slovenia both qualified. I had written them both off completely. 

 That’s what makes Eurovision exciting, though, isn’t it? The curveballs, surprises and ‘WTF’ moments. As an American, I am largely free from the mess of political hullabaloo that comes with a Eurovision Song Contest. Sure, I know that the Balkans all vote for one another, as do the Scandinavian countries. Countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyrpus always give each other 12 points and all the ex-Yugoslav nations give beaucoup points to Russia. I get all that. 

 But because I’m all the way across the pond, I don’t pay too much attention to the gossip and the bookies’ picks. I find it makes for a much more enjoyable experience 🙂 

 Anyway, here are MY Top Favorites for the Final tomorrow!


 

 (In Alphabetical order)

Armenia

Austria

Greece

Hungary

Italy

Malta

Montenegro

Poland

Switzerland

The Netherlands


Now, while I would love to be right about them all, I know that I most likely won’t be. I think that Sweden is a pretty strong contender as well as Iceland. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Slovenia will do better than anyone thinks it will. I hope I’m wrong though. 

 Ultimately, I think that either Austria or Armenia will will tomorrow night. Other possibilities are Greece, Hungary, Switzerland or The Netherlands. 

 Ahhh I just don’t know! I’ll be watching tomorrow with excitement! Thanks for putting up with my Eurovision babble! 

 

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!

An American’s picks for Eurovision 2014

 

As I’ve said before, Eurovision Season is always a bit lonely for American fans. Here in the US, few people know about the contest. Even when I try to explain it, it’s hard. I’ll talk about how much I like the Maltese/Moldovan/Cypriot/Armenian entry and I find myself met with a blank stare. Not everyone knows where these countries are, much less that they even exist.

Everyone likes to poke fun at Americans for not knowing about other countries and I was no exception to this stereotype. In our defense, though, I will say that having to keep track of 50 states and a handful of territories gives us a lot of news as it is. Although some people don’t care one way or the other.

Admittedly, I was the same when I began watching Eurovision. But as I watched it, I learned so much about geography, international relations and politics and even history. Whoa, Moldova was a country? Azerbaijan too? Why can Turkey and the like participate? It was exhilirating and I felt like I was learning so much and connecting myself to Europe in some way.

Regardless of it being a bit lonely, I love following Eurovision every year. The past few years have been a bit difficult for me to watch because I lived in Japan. Last year, I commandeered my poor boyfriend’s computer and forced him to watch it with me. Needless to say that he did not enjoy it as much as I did.

I think that, being an American, I am somewhat out of the loop of the whole political side of Eurovison. Sure, I know about bloc voting and how X country always gives Y country 12 points etc. But I don’t invest myself too much in this and I think it makes for more of an objective viewing. I mostly just care about the performances and songs.

And so, here are my picks as an American looking in on this wonderful annual event!

 

MY TOP TEN ACTS FOR EUROVISION 2014

(in no particular order as of yet)

 

 Greece – Ever since that old guy danced with those gogo boys in 2010 (OPA!), I have been a fan of the Greek entries. Last year their song was catchy and fun and this year they’ve brought that same energy with the catchy EDM-infused ‘Rise Up’. I wonder if he’ll actually sing the super-fast repeating part, though? “Ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-ri-riririririririririririr”. Nevertheless, I hope Greece does well.

 Israel – Another country that always puts out great songs. Israel’s song this year is a definite contender for the trophy, I think. Mei Finegold’s voice is powerhouse in both English and Hebrew. The song definitely grabs your attention and keeps it. I don’t know what everyone else is saying, but I’m betting that Israel is ranked pretty high on winning this year.

 Malta – Year after year (at least as far as I’ve been watching the contest), Malta has sent some solid acts to the world stage. Year after year, though, they never seem to do very well. I really feel for this little island, though. They’re the underdog that I like to root for. I loved their entry last year and I hope to see them do well this year. They deserve it.

 Hungary – This song is pretty damn heavy for a Eurovision entry. Maybe that’s why I like it. It’s something different, the vocals are strong and although I didn’t like the beat at first, it’s grown on me. I don’t know how it will do, but I’d like to think that it will make it far. The topic of child abuse might not appeal to Europe and the judges, though.

 Poland – I love ridiculous entries. The Polish entry this year is just that. At first, I was a bit horrified by how bad this song sounded in English but I think it’s mostly in Polish. I think the oversexualization of it is intentionally comical. Overall it’s a fun song and I find myself liking it the more I hear it.

 Switzerland – The song is cute and the whistling gets stuck in your head for days. The band is seemingly composed of male models, which I’m completely fine with. I wonder if they’re going to be able to do the whistling gimmick as effectively when they perform it live.

 Armenia – Armenia is another country that I find consistantly sends good acts. This year’s act is pretty great as well. Although it takes a while for the song to get started, Aram Mp3’s vocals and the epic instrumentals effortlessly guide the audience to the wub wubby climax. I’m definitely not a fan of dubstep, but I’ve grown to accept a wub here or there. I dig this song for a number of reasons and I think it could do well.

 Italy(!) – My god, I really love the Italian entry this year. Emma Marrone is fantastic. I love her voice, the instrumentals and overall badass-ness of this song. After watching a live performance of this song, though, I’m a bit scared of seeing her in the final. Italy just recently re-joined Eurovision after a long period of not participating. I think a win for Italy would be great but…I don’t know if Europe feels the same way that I do.

 Montenegro – I don’t know why but I really like this song. I’m not one for ballads, but this song just really appeals to me. It’s beautifully sung with a gorgeous instrumental. I don’t understand it at all but, for me, that’s not necessary in order to enjoy a song. That’s actually part of why I was so drawn to Eurovision – songs in different languages. I have no idea how this song will do, but it’s in my Top Ten because I think it’s very pretty.

 Austria – Conchita Wurst is badass. I’ll say it right now. The fact that she is performing in drag is not anything that Eurovision hasn’t seen before (Verka Serduchka, I’m looking at you). What is unique, however, is that she’s not doing it as a caricature that mocks the LGBT community. Her striking appearance has earned her a lot of publicity, both good and bad. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus being the bastions of acceptance and tolerance, have petioned the EBU to ban her performance. Luckily, it seems to be against the rules of the ESC to censor or ban any part of it. Her fishy body with full-on beard plus the empowering song have no doubt made her one of the most talked-about acts this year. Putting herself out there and promoting tolerance is an incredibly brave thing for her to do and I hope she does well.

Honorable mentions:

Denmark – I don’t think that Denmark will win (has any country ever won Eurovision two years in a row?) but I quite like their entry. It’s catchy as hell, the dance is cute the whole thing reminds me of The Jackson Five and Bruno Mars.

Netherlands. 2013 was the first year that the Netherlands qualified for the Final in seven years. This year, their song is nothing incredibly special, but I find myself really liking it. It reminds me of Fleetwood Mac and it’s very calming and emotional.

 

 What do you think?! Agree? Disagree? Are you an American who likes Eurovision as well? Let me know I’m not alone! Thanks for reading and, as always, comments are welcomed! 

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?

 

JPOP FRIDAY!

 

Watch out, Jpop artists. TANAKA ALICE is here and she’s coming for you.

I first heard of this girl last year sometime. With her song ‘Chicks & Nerds’. I thought she was cool but I wasn’t too overly impressd, to be honest. It was catchy and her rap  impressive but something seemed to be a bit off.

Seeing the new PV for TOKIO and the her other, BAD DAY, SO WHAT have changed my mind, though. This girl is badass and I think this is something that Jpop definitely needs right now.

TA’s flow is great, she switches seamlessly between English and Japanese and her lyrics are great (“Life’s a bitch, just a bit辛いかも”, and “Get out my face now, チャラいロミオ”, for example).

I think that TANAKA ALICE is special for a few reasons:

1) Sweet but salty. I’m not really one to keep up on the personalities of Jpop idols, but TANAKA ALICE doesn’t really seem like the demure, kawaii ragdoll that so many Jpop females try so hard to emulate. I haven’t seen interviews with her or how she is when she’s not singing but this girl doesn’t seem like one to take anyone’s shit. I could be wrong, but I can hope right?

2) ハーフexposure. This can be a double-edged sword, but with a name like ‘ALICE’ and given her appearance, I can comfortably assume that she is mixed. As I saw when I watched the great documentary ‘ハーフ’, this can be more of a burden than a blessing when growing up in Japan. Recently, though, there seems to have been kind of a shift toward fetishizing people who are mixed. A bunch of celebrities like Becky and Ro-ra are super popular in part because they’re of mixed descent. Whether or not TA will fall into this gimmick remains to be seen maybe, but I personally think it’s cool to see a mixed race Japanese girl kicking ass.

3) Dat Flow Doe. Her rapping is pretty cool, as far as I’m concerned. And it’s something that I haven’t really heard before. To be fair, though, I’m not super familiar with a lot of female Jhip hop stars.

Anyway, I just think TANAKA ALICE is pretty badass and felt the overpowering need to gush about her. Her music is well-produced and catchy as hell. Her rapping is impressive and I just really like her aesthetic and attitude. If you’re not convinced, here’s the video for ‘BAD DAY, SO WHAT’.

Check out her mini-album/LP/EP/album/whatever it is TOKYO GIRL II. You won’t regret it.

 Similar artists: MAA, Mademoiselle Yulia, CREAM and maybe M-flo (old, good M-flo).

 

Is this JPOP (or KPOP etc) Friday going to be a thing? What do you think? Y/N? Hmmm.

 

 

 

Eurovision Haikus IV

I’ve been slacking in my Eurovision fanboy-ing! It’s almost the end of April ahhh!! Here are the last of my Eurovision Haikus. I’m hoping I didn’t forget any countries.

 

Albania

She has a nice voice

Better in Albanian?

Don’t know what to say

 

Poland

What is going on?

Definite Novelty song

Churn that butter, girls

 

Portugal

I want to like this

But she is just so awkward

Backup dancers. Please.

 

Sweden

Sweden. Always good.

Should have been Ace Wilder, though.

You know you agree.

 

******

And that’s it! What do you think? Who are your favorites this year? Least favorites? I’ll have to think on this and write up my own Top 5.

I’m hoping I didn’t forget any countries! If I did, please let me know!

Eurovision Haikus III


It’s getting closer to May! I can’t wait! Here’s another round of my Eurovision Haikus.

Austria

A bearded lady
Preaching tolerance and love?
Yasss. Werk mama.

Azerbaijan

A pretty ballad
Azerbaijan delivers
Almost every year

Belgium

Beautiful vocals
Your mom dances very well
Oh wait…who is that?

Finland

Poppy rock anthem
Cool vocals, my question is,
Can he do it live?

Germany
Weird carnival vibe
Already through to Final
Lucky Germany

Malta

I feel for Malta
Every year they send good acts
But never go far

The Netherlands

A pretty song but…
Dutch Lady Antebellum?
More like Fleetwood Mac

Norway

This sounds like something
I can’t quite place what song, though
This will bother me

Russia

Oh wow, this is bad
Flashing lights can’t cover up
Terrible vocals

Slovenia

Oh, gothic flautist
I mean…it isn’t dreadful
It’s not my fav, though.

Ukraine

Not digging this song
How many points to Russia?
Should I not ask that?