Sizing Up The Competition at Eurovision (1)

Copenhagen is the site of tonight's contest. (Wikipedia Commons)
5/6/2014 8:09 PM
Category: Opinion

As the Eurovision contest gets underway, columnist Stuart Garlick sizes up the acts you will see in the first semifinal tonight.

Armenia: Aram MP3, "Not Alone"
A power ballad about a man comforting a woman. There's a nice string section, that builds progressively, and then BLOODY HELL there's a dubstep shouty bit. That'll give a few pensioners a heart attack. Contender.

Latvia: Aarzemnieki, "Cake to Bake"
It begins a bit James Blunt, only to reveal worse rhymes and a man who seems to base his accent and cloying persona on the aforementioned man who saw his ex on the subway and thought we'd be interested. "I've got a cake to bake," says the mockney git, making this a shoo in for the next Sara Lee ad campaign.

Estonia: Tanja, "Amazing"
Tanja has been working hard at every aspect of the act, "Amazing" may be derivative, but since when has it been a crime for a good pop song to sound like others? A tune that sounds "Top 10", and world-beating choreography. Let's see, but it looks good for Estonia this year.

Sweden: Sanna Nielsen, "Undo"
I'd listened to most of the Swedish Melodifestivalen entrants, but hadn't picked this as getting to Eurovision. Nonetheless, the home of Abba and the legendary Roxette was never going to give us a bad song. This one isn't bad ... It's just that in spite of sounding polished and defiant, the chorus is not the easiest to remember, which could be costly in the latter stages.

Iceland: Pollapönk, "No Prejudice"
Remember in the British version of The Office, when Ricky Gervais` character said he'd come up with a song called "Equality Street" about treating people fairly? Well this might have been the result. The outfits are straight out of Iceland's most successful export, "Lazytown", the song is straight out of a mediocre indie songwriter`s bin. And how can you write a song about prejudice, but chicken out of even mentioning gay rights?

Albania: Hersi, "One Night's Anger"
The song is called "One Night's Anger", and yet this hostage to fortune doesn't detract from a decent tune that takes cues from The Corrs` "Runaway", fronted by a Shakira sound-a-like.

Russia: Tolmachevy Sisters, "Shine"
Not the first time in recent history that Russia has sent people abroad and asked people for their opinion, perhaps, although one wishes that what was sent could always be this anodyne. Utterly forgettable, but the girls are pretty, and that counts for something when the contest is televised.

Azerbaijan: Dilara Kazimova, "Start A Fire"
"Running Scared" was a wonderful song that deserved to win a few years back, but this doesn't start even a camp fire for me. Unlike Armenia, the Azeris haven't thrown in a cheeky bit of dubstep, and so lose points with this reporter.

Ukraine: Mariya Yaremchuk, "Tick-Tock"
Resisting the chance to send a protest song, Ukraine have gone for perhaps the even better option: a copper-bottomed pop hit with a massive disco production, a chorus you can remember just from reading the title, and every chance of winning. A true contender.

Belgium: Axel Hirsoux, "Mother"
A quivering voiced tenor with a paean to his mother. It would win the X Factor on its own in 2007, but the whole Andrew Lloyd Webber shtick feels pretty dated, especially from the country that brought us Soulwax and David Guetta.

Moldova: Cristina Scarlet, "Wild Soul"
"What am I, am I human?" asks Cristina Scarlet (no relation to the 1960s TV puppet character Captain Scarlet of British sci-fi), in possibly the song most obviously written after watching an X-Men marathon. It's an identikit dubby shouty ballad and should be treated with caution usually reserved for week-old pizza you find in the fridge.

San Marino: Valentina Monetta, "Maybe (Forse)"
Our favorite republic that we all secretly thought was part of Italy has given Eurovision a ballad that reminds me of a Timothy Dalton-era James Bond theme. A bit like the Andrus Ansip-lookalike actor, it's reliable, but not good enough in the role it's trying to play.

Portugal: Suzy, "Quero Ser Tua"
The country that had us singing along to Michel Telo`s monster hit about chasing girls two summers ago, whether we knew the language or not, has gone for heavy makeup, high camp, JLo style shimmying, and topless male bongo players. Like it or not, it'll be in the final on Saturday.

Netherlands: The Common Linnets, "Calm After the Storm"
The Common Linnets remember American country duo Lady Antebellum, and have come up with a smooth, well produced and efficient slice of emotive soft rock, that sounds more Nashville than Netherlands, and is welcome variation from the Europop. Deserves to be in the final, might do even better than that.

Montenegro: Sergej Ćetković, "Moj Svijet"
Oh brother. An Irish tin whistle treads just far enough from Céline Dion`s "My Heart Will Go On" to avoid a lawsuit, but I'm still left wondering if the mountainous Balkan nation believes it's still 1999. No, it won't do.

Hungary: András Kállay-Saunders, "Running"
Ooh, powerful minor key chords, followed by a story of a crying daughter that might or might not reference domestic violence. There is the obligatory attempt to make a downbeat song seem more exciting than it is; there is too much tinkering on the production, the drum and bass parts on the chorus seeming like turd-polishing.

Stuart Garlick is a journalist and blogger based in Tallinn. Since 2012 his blog, Charm Offensive, has offered insight into Estonian music, fashion and food.

The name field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 1024 characters

Message forwarded to the editor

This Ip-address has limited access

See also

There are no comments yet. Be the first!

Reply to comment

Reply to comment

Laadi juurde ({{take2}})
The name field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 1024 characters
Add new comment
  • foto
    Opinion digest: Estonia’s stagnating politics

    Estonia’s largest political parties had been going through the most serious crisis in their existence, and on top of that they had lost their most important function, namely to formulate a vision of the country’s future, daily Postimees wrote in its Friday editorial.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Putin exploiting power vacuum created by U.S. presidential elections

    According to director of Tallinn’s International Centre for Defence and Security and former ambassador to Russia, Jüri Luik, the increased tensions over the past few weeks between Russia and the West indicate Putin’s wish to exploit the ambiguous mood before the U.S. presidential elections as much as possible.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Time to return to discussing serious issues

    In a stinging opinion piece in published in the daily Eesti Päevaleht, member of the Riigikogu Eerik-Niiles Kross (Reform) condemned the Estonian media as well as the country’s elites for their obsession with what he sees as pointless topics, while disregarding the last few weeks’ unsettling developments concerning Russia.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Legally speaking, everything is proper

    After Toomas Hendrik Ilves’ decade in office, and after he promoted Estonia like no other president did before him, his legacy is now tainted by the fact that he seems to have gone for a substantial state grant in 2006 that he never put to use — and of which he will now pay back just a tenth.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Closer to Warsaw, farther away from Estonia

    In a recent opinion piece in daily Postimees, columnist Ahto Lobjakas wrote that one way to look at Rail Baltic was as a step towards the level other countries had already reached in terms of speed and comfort of their railway connections. The main weakness of this point of view was the fact that in Estonia, it lacked the necessary social context.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Leadership change in Reform needed for potential coalition with Center Party

    For a potential future coalition with the Center Party, the Reform Party needed to change its leader as well, Social Democratic MP and chairman of the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee Sven Mikser wrote in a comment on social media on Friday.

  • foto
    Matthew Crandall: President Ilves’ global impact

    The greatest accomplishment of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is that he branded Estonia as a modern and innovative 21st century country, and brought it out of post-Soviet obscurity, writes Tallinn University’s Matthew Crandall.

  • foto
    The shackles of history and modern life in the fast lane: Estonia's experience in the migration crisis

    The uncertain public performances of Estonian politicians and poor explanatory work were to blame for a considerable increase in public distrust during the migration crisis, found ERR journalist Greete Palmiste, working in Bremen on an international journalists' exchange, in an opinion piece written for German publication taz.die Tageszeitung.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Kersti Kaljulaid on the concepts of ethical nationalism and confident Estonians

    On Friday, Aug. 12, Estonian representative to the European Court of Auditors Kersti Kaljulaid delivered a patriotic speech on the Postimees Stage at the 2016 Opinion Festival in Paide in which she expanded on two words and two respective ideas she found important for her country that were represented by the two letter Es in its native-language name Eesti: eetiline (ethical) and enesekindel (confident).

  • foto
    This mess we're in: Picking up the pieces after Saturday's elections

    From Saturday’s election fiasco to Tuesday’s sudden emergence of a likely cross-party candidate: ERR News editor Dario Cavegn makes an attempt at explaining Estonia’s seemingly chaotic quest to find its next president.

  • foto
    Opinion: The decline of Estonian as a language of science starts abroad

    The Estonian language as a language of science is only sustainable in those subject areas that offer undergraduate courses in Estonian, and with which students begin their university education, finds ERR science portal editor Marju Himma.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Current approach to reform won't help municipalities

    The Center Party’s presidential candidate, Mailis Reps, wrote in an opinion piece published in daily Postimees on Sunday that the Administrative Reform Act was a disappointment to Estonia’s municipalities, and that relations between local and central government were in a crisis.

  • foto
    Opinion: Jüri Nikolajev in response to the Ida-Viru secret memo

    Describing himself as "wearily spiteful" instead of angry, ERR's Narva correspondent Jüri Nikolajev responded to the top secret memo on Ida-Viru County that leaked recently, calling Estonians to figuratively not leave their property laying around if they did not want anyone else to take it for themselves.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Sulev Vedler on the secret memo on Ida-Viru County

    In 2015, the Government Security Committee received a secret memo containing a dark assessment of the future of Ida-Viru County, Estonia's most northeastern and predominantly Russian-speaking county, which was compiled by Ilmar Raag, who worked as a strategic communicatins advisor at the Stenbock House at the time. Estonian journalist Sulev Vedler responded to the memo by compiling various reactions to issues it addressed.

  • foto
    Opinion: Alo Lõhmus on the definition of Estonian citizen by blood

    Journalist Alo Lõhmus explored the right to Estonian citizenship by "jus sanguinis," Latin for right of blood, as it relates to one's eligibility to run for president — an issue which has had particular attention drawn to it recently after members of a competing political party attempted to cast doubt on the status of presidential candidate Marina Kaljurand's Estonian citizenship.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Erkki Bahovski on Finland and the alleged Baltic scheming

    Columnist Erkki Bahovski commented on the curious, decidedly defensive turn that seemed to be taken by Finland's Social Democrats following the release of a lengthy report by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (UPI) which suggested that Russia, in its own self-interest, is attempting to hamper Finland's total integration with the West.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Siim Kallas thinks real estate tax effective way to finance local government

    The Reform Party’s presidential candidate, Siim Kallas, said in an opinion piece published in daily Postimees that an estate tax, more precisely a tax levied on real estate, could be considered to finance local government.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Siret Kotka on the support, or lack thereof, for Estonia's farmers

    Vice-Chairman of the Riigikogu’s Rural Affairs Committee MP Siret Kotka (Center) found that while Estonia's farmers have recently suffered one blow after another, the current Estonian government owes them more support than they have been paid, and likewise found that it is precisely domestically grown food that should make up the backbone of Estonian security.

  • foto
    Dario Cavegn: The intellectual crisis and editors’ internal conflict

    Iivi Anna Masso’s piece published on Sept. 6 is unfit for publication. ERR News editor Dario Cavegn explains this verdict, and why it ended up getting published anyway.

  • foto
    Iivi Anna Masso: The migration crisis and liberals' internal conflict

    Columnist Iivi Anna Masso asks why people with a liberal world view couldn't support freedom of movement for work, studies, marriage, and genuine political asylum while at the same time support more effective protection of European cultural values.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Hanneli Rudi makes case for starting school a year younger

    Prompted by the arrival of September 1, the first day of school for children across Estonia, Hanneli Rudi reflected on how kindergarten is simply a good way for schools to make money in light of the fact that it has been deemed unnecessary for most children's development, and that perhaps the country should instead consider having children start first grade one year younger, at age six.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Mikk Salu on the open secret of Estonia’s emergency underpreparedness

    Journalist Mikk Salu recently addressed an issue about which it seems like many in the country are whispering but no one will come out and say — that despite appearances to the contrary, Estonia's military, law enforcement agencies, hospitals and other such critical support agencies are woefully understaffed, underequipped and underprepared for the event of a true emergency.

  • foto
    Dario Cavegn: Kaljurand, the reluctant candidate

    Over the past months, there have been several occasions when the Estonian media assumed that Marina Kaljurand, much like everybody else in the country’s government and legislature, was working on some political scheme, aiming to move up in the long term. This is nonsense, writes Dario Cavegn.

  • foto
    Letter from a reader: In favor of paper ballots in e-Estonia

    Reader Virgo Kruve submitted a letter to ERR on Monday evening, following the first round of presidential elections in the Riigikogu, defending the continued use of seemingly relatively antiquated paper ballots in the presidential elections of a country famous precisely for its well-established use of electronic voting in local and parliamentary elections.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Evelyn Sepp on the election cycle and the importance of the president

    Just days before the Estonia’s 2016 presidential elections, which kicked off with the first round of balloting in the Riigikogu on Monday, former politician and MP Evelyn Sepp reflected on how positively this year’s presidential campaign has been handled and why exactly Estonia needs a president in the first place, expounding upon the respective roles of the Riigikogu, the government and the president for context as well.

  • foto
    Opinion digest: Two takes on Angela Merkel’s political personality

    Just in time for Merkel’s visit on Wednesday and Thursday this week, two takes on her character and political convictions have appeared in the Estonian press. In Päevaleht, director Katrin Laur writes about a politically bland, but nevertheless successful woman, and in Ekspress, journalist Külli-Riin Tigasson lists six ethics rules that Merkel has followed.

  • foto
    Marko Mihkelson: A common Europe’s struggle for existence

    Despite both recent and ongoing events which have served to cast doubt in many Europeans on the future of the EU, Estonian MP Marko Mihkelson found that Europe is nonetheless stronger when it stands together, and that in the face of external threats that it cannot prevent, the union must continue to build stronger ties upon the shared desire for peace and stability which serves as its foundation.

  • foto
    Center Party could raise its profile explaining NATO to local Russians

    While 88% of Estonians support increasing NATO’s military presence, most local Russians are against it. That’s 25% of the country’s population. The Center Party could explain to them what caused the increased allied presence, reduce opposition to Estonia’s defense policy, and gain a lot in the process, Erik Gamzejev writes.

  • foto
    Uber is in Estonia for Taxify

    Uber is in Estonia for two reasons: For PR, and to kill Taxify. But the price war it has kicked off just in time for the weekend rush isn't how they're hoping to get the Estonian start-up. It's part of Uber's typical strategy in every market it enters. It will blow over, eventually resulting in higher prices.

  • foto
    Why is anyone surprised? Look to the unilateral decisions of Obama and Merkel for the passage of Brexit

    University of Tartu guest history lecturer Joseph Enge thinks that the UK's vote to leave the European Union is both reasonable and rational, and that it should not come as a surprise. Even more, the current criticism of the voters shows that they are right to leave.