Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #7 Written by on April 25, 2017 | 28 Comments

The end of our song reviews for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest 2017 is in sight, but with just under a week to go before rehearsals start, we still have some hits, misses, and maybes to give out. You can listen to Juke Box Jury and the ESC Insight podcast online. Add the RSS Feed to your favourite podcast application, or click here to follow us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

Just a quick note to say that the final episode of Juke Box Jury (with Ellie Chalkley and Jon Jacob) will air on Saturday 29th April so we can finish the hits, misses, and maybes before rehearsals start.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #7
…with Ben Morris (Eurovision Minipops) and Dave Cargill.

Poland: Flashlight, by Kasia Mos.
Macedonia: Dance Alone, by Jana Burceska.
Azerbaijan: Skeletons, by Dihaj.
Albania: World, by Lindita.
United Kingdom: Never Give Up On You, by Lucie Jones.
Italy: Occidentali’s Karma, by Francesco Gabbani.

Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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28 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #7”

  1. this is a weird precedent. putting uk second last in favor of italy. will you this with every fan hype?

  2. Robyn says:

    Every time I think I’m tiring of “Occidentali’s karma”, I listen to it again and find myself smiling. Even the short clip in this jury had me bopping along. That’s its power – it’s utterly charming and delightful!

  3. Howard A says:

    Italy is certainly the one to beat. I can make out a case for it not winning, but the reasons (Italian language, bad edit, misinterpretation of the monkey gimmick, possible first-half draw) are not convincing – I am clutching at straws.

    The only thing that really makes me have any slight doubts is that I loved it from the second time I heard it, not the first. In my opinion, Italy would be even more certain of winning if they were in a semi final. This was the case with Rybak and Loreen – being in the semi-final gave them the chance to build up a bit of extra momentum with viewers outside the fan bubble. Italy does not have that advantage, just as it didn’t in 2015. If most people hear it only once and react like I originally did, then it might just fall short. But I doubt it.

  4. Mark Butler says:

    With Italy I worry that there is not enough breathing space. It’s jam-packed with moments designed to pull in votes, like a figure skating routine containing one quad jump after another. Sometimes a bit of shade is needed in order to show off the light.

  5. Hans Wollstein says:

    Thank you Ben Morris. I feel exactly the same about Italy. I, too, would actually love for the contest to go to Rome or Milan in 2018, but this song leaves me cold. This, to me, is Aram MP3 all over again. But good luck Italy!

  6. HarrietKrohn says:

    I can’t believe anyone could listen to and talk about the Italian entry for months and still not be able to pronounce the title correctly … when it’s part of the lyrics. I’m baffled.

    Poland – I really like this, but somehow I think it will struggle to get out of the semi, Polish diaspora notwithstanding. It does not have the old-fashioned appeal of last year’s entry or the cheap voting incentives that the Polish milk maids offered. Kasia is good-looking and her voice is good, but there’s nothing outstanding about her. And she will not wear as little on stage as she did in the video, she already said so. MAYBE

    Macedonia – Like many others I have my doubts that this will work on stage. Jana does not seem to have too much charisma and the song seems not to be written for a live performance. Another borderline qualifier, but another one I really like. MAYBE

    Azerbaijan – I loved this at first listen, I immediately connected with it and thought what a great song it was. Again, the stage performance is the big question mark, but there is enough quality here to send it sailing through to the final and god knows what happens there. But I don’t think it will finish very high, but not low either. HIT

    Albania – This song joins a couple of others that I can never remember when thinking about all the entries, and when I remember Albania I still struggle to remember how the song goes. She is trying way too hard and I have no idea why anyone would vote for this song, unless maybe they’re Albanian. MISS.

    United Kingdom – Now I don’t know Lucie and I haven’t heard or seen her sing live, but the song is rather blah to me. It’s true that it is very rushed and there’s not a lot of room to actually enjoy the song, it goes on and on and when it’s over I’m exhausted from trying to keep up. I also agree that she gets a bit shouty sometimes, but maybe she won’t be live if she really is as extraordinary as you guys say. I don’t see a left-hand result for her. MAYBE

    Italy – How interesting to read some comments that are not totally fawning over Francesco and his song. When I heard it for the first time, I thought it was a nice enough entry, not quite my kind of music, but nothing wrong with it. Boy, was I suprised to then read everyone was predicting a landslide victory for Italy. Really? With the funny gorilla and everything? I needed to have the lyrics explained to me (I can pronounce “occidentali” but I don’t actually speak Italian) and I admit they are clever, but how much time is there in a postcard for the commentators to get that across? Plus, I simply don’t like his voice. It’s not that I don’t like the song, I totally do, but I don’t understand why this is such a clear favourite. To be honest, I don’t see many other contenders, so maybe he’ll win on lack of opposition? I’m totally fine with Italy 2018 though, it would be a nice change. HIT

  7. Shevek says:

    I can see why everything said was said, except the criticism aimed at the lyrics of the Italian song: ‘singing in the rain’ does not make sense?! Talk about being desperately seeking for something bad to say.

  8. Alex C says:

    Poland – MISS. This doesn’t really have anything to make you vote for it if you’re not Polish and even then it’s not that much of a galvanizing force (it didn’t win its public vote iirc). I think we’ve forgotten that Michael last year managed to activate the Polish diaspora because he was genuinely a big star in Poland and Kasia with the best will in the world isn’t really on that level. In 2015 they didn’t get any kind of spectacular televote at all which this runs the risk of getting which will, I think, pull it down out of the qualification zone.

    Macedonia – MAYBE. This does what it does really well and even if not an amazing vocalist Jana makes up for it with personality but Macedonia are so bereft of luck I feel like this is going to be 11th in the semi for them two years running.

    Azerbaijan – MAYBE. She isn’t a particularly charismatic performer but the song will be very appealing to juries and Azerbaijan always bring something big to the staging so this’ll qualify but then get a pretty ‘meh’ vote on the final night.

    Albania – MAYBE. Something just tells me this is the qualifier that nobody is going to see coming. Her vocals are pretty much jury bait and Albania have got a fair few friends voting in their semi (Italy, Montenegro, Greece, Cyprus and the caucus states) which’ll mean the televote won’t be as much of a drag as people are assuming.

    United Kingdom – MAYBE. Never Give Up on EU amirite? I think there’s a respectable, non-bottom 5 finish in our grasp with this but I do worry that this is going to get a first half draw and it’ll sink without trace (upon which the “brexit eurovision” headlines are going to be flowing in and I await that with as much joy as I await waking up on the morning of June 9th). I am crossing every crossable limb in hope though.

    Italy – HIT. In lieu of making a comment about Italy I’ll simply link you to a 2500 word blog post I wrote about it in March that sums up all my complex opinions on their chances https://escoverthinker.tumblr.com/post/158672917784/song-10-italy-francesco-gabbani-occidentalis

    tl;dr – it can win but it’s by no means a foregone conclusion because the juries won’t love it as much as they’ll love Bulgaria/Belgium/Netherlands/Sweden ect (that comment about the Eurovision juries being fans who’ve followed the fan hype is either confirmation bias or sheer delusion – I expect better from you Ewan, tut tut!) because the gorilla – unlike stick man and the beard – tips too far into ‘kitsch’ and ‘gimmicky’, its momentum will get overtaken by the press that the semi winners get and ‘the one with the gorilla’ isn’t any more of a vote winner than ‘the one with the yodeling’, ‘the one with the treadmills’ or any other quasi gimmick.

  9. What does Ben like this year? Anything? Great EuroPops though…

    Poland – MAYBE. Love ballad? Strong Woman against the world? Very interesting to listen to and Kasia has a great voice and is so passionate in her delivery but this entry may struggle in Kyiv due to the pace of the song. Polish diaspora should see Flashlight into the Final though.

    Macedonia – HIT. Macedonia have made it to the 21st Century with “Dance Alone” – Jana gives this understated but anthemic dance track a simplistic sexual edge that will surely stand out amongst the sea of ballads in Kyiv. The staging will need to be very engaging however to make this a top ten finisher – I have no concerns about her vocals as there is enough material online of her singing live to show that she can cope with this.

    Azerbaijan – HIT. The heavy electro synth beats make “Skeletons” pound in your head throughout and is contrasted beautifully by Dihaj’s dulcet tones cutting across the thumping bass. This could be one of the wow entries in Kyiv, another “Rhythm Inside”, but that is very dependent on the staging that accompanies this intriguing song. If you read the lyrics, this is almost a ‘good girl’ singing, wanting to be a ‘bad girl’. By the way, thorn jeans are designer ripped jeans!

    Albania – MISS. Lindita being a fluent English speaker has helped the transition of this song from “Botë” to “World” a painless one. Having said that, losing the FiK live orchestra seems to have removed the ethereal power and wonder that the Albanian version had. I hope that Lindita can recover some of that beauty in Kyiv to reach the Final but I now fear for this nation’s qualification. She didn’t make it to London unfortunately…

    UK – HIT. Did Ben not enjoy drawing Lucie? Blimey, pick, pick, pick! I really don’t get the negativity from Ben and Ewan here – maybe too many broken dreams on Ewan’s part (I remember Molly too). The best UK song since Moscow, Lucie gives this ballad with so little musical accompaniment so much life, her musical theatre experience providing the emotional delivery needed from a solo piece. She left the audience spellbound in London with her performance that took the song to a higher level and the revamp makes that even better. As long as the staging isn’t crap, I think that we could have the ‘Lena effect’ here – the live performance taking this to at least a top ten, hopefully top five.

    Italy – HIT. I know that sometimes songs are overhyped but Ben, I’m afraid that this ain’t one of them and you are definitely in the minority. A song in Italian I actually love – Francesco’s gravelly voice sets this wonderful tune up perfectly, the pop beat gets my head nodding and the staging with the gorilla is the icing on the cake. No need for translation as this song’s happiness shines through – as long as Francesco doesn’t overplay the edit as he did in London but smoothed over in Amsterdam, this should be a winner. It will only fail if he screws up on one of the Final nights or if people really can’t see this as anything other than a comedy piece.

    You can invite Dave again – he seems to gel with my reasoning! Ben did have a saving grace – his favourite this year is Blackbird too…

  10. Eurojock says:

    Poland – A really good dissection of the strengths and weaknesses of this one by the panel. The one thing I would add is that Poland is actually a bit short of its usual voting allies in Semi 1 and this makes qualification not certain. If it gets to the final there are enough diaspora votes available for Flashlight to come 11-16 or maybe even sneak top ten. MAYBE

    FYR Macedonia – Dance Alone is modern, accessible with a strong hook and if ESC was judged on song and video alone this would surely go top 10 this year. The concerns with Jana’s vocal may be a red herring. She sung live in Israel and her vocal was adequate and in-tune. Her dancing ability is more of concern, given that the song cries out for some eye catching movement. Like the panel I have reservations that the entire package is suitable for a contest. Until I see the rehearsal footage it’s a MAYBE.

    Azerbaijan – Again wise words from the panel. I tend to come down on the negative side on this. It’s too complex for Eurovision, lacks a strong chorus, and Dihaj’s appearance is cold and alienating. It may just scrape qualification but if it does I can envisage this well down the right side of the board on Saturday. MAYBE

    Albania – This sounds like a slightly better version of Albania 2016. There are two rays of hope for World. Albania has more voting allies than most in this semi, and in a run of ballads in slots, 2, 3, and 4, if Lindita is the best singer of the three she may just attract the jury votes. But I am clutching at straws. MISS

    UK – I’m entirely with Ewan on this. If Lucy finds an extra gear on the (Friday) night this could go top 10 with juries. Then as the televotes are read out watch it slide down the table to 19th place. MAYBE. (Footnote – Lucy has a rather theatre orientated performance style – singing to an imaginary character in her mind’s eye. For Eurovision she needs to sing down the camera to the potential voters sitting in their European homes)

    Italy – As you say, Ewan, first listens are important. On my first listen after 3 minutes the tears were rolling down my cheeks. The ‘Allezs’ are utterly joyous then to top it off we get a dad-dancing gorilla. Yes, there are reasons why it might not win (and Ben made a good fist at dredging up all of them!) but any other song in this year’s contest has more serious potential drawbacks. If not Italy, who? Winner and HIT

  11. Ben Morris says:

    There are some really interesting comments here!
    Just to clarify something Shevek pointed out, though. Of course the phrase ‘Singing in the rain’ makes sense, I just find it toe-curlingly awful. That goes for ‘sex appeal’ too.

    Martin is right that I’m definitely in the minority with regards Italy. I recognise that, but I’m not alone in my ambivalence towards it. I know many find it joyful, I just find it the sort of cheesy ‘wacky’ song that cements non-Eurovision fans’ views of the contest. There are many moments that make me cringe. The arms aloft, knees up dance with the monkey (not to mention the monkey itself) and the aforementioned phrases. And as for that manic chicken dance Francesco shoehorned in in Amsterdam.. Aargh!
    Up the revolution!

    I’m not sure I said I didn’t enjoy drawing Lucie, Martin. If that was a criticism I made, then that definitely would be picky.
    My criticisms are both with the song and the delivery. The song has no room to breathe, as HarrietKrohn says. The verses, choruses, middle eight etc merge into one another without a beat between them (aside from the pause near the beginning of the song). It needs more light and shade. There’s a good song in there. It just struggles to get out. It all ends up sounding like one long verse.

    And re: the delivery. I have to confess I’m biased as I don’t like the musical theatre genre and this is a definite musical theatre delivery. Lucie is belting out to the back of the upper circle, and can afford to be more subtle on camera. Again there is, after the soft start, little light and shade, and I find her voice a little reedy in the upper register.
    But, as I said on the podcast, she is very confident and her tuning is perfect. All important things! If some of the elements of the video were taken onto the stage (the white outfit with the hair scraped back is amazing, and I love the Venetian blind shadow across her at that point) then it could have some impact. But, like Ewan said, I can’t see what would make your average viewer at home pick up the phone.

    Oh, and there are many songs I love this year, Martin. I adore Finland! A simple, yet imaginatively arranged song, beautifully delivered. I hope this does a Common Linnets!

  12. Jonas says:

    Thank you Ben!!! Finally someone else who doesn’t get the fuss about Italy this year, thought I was the only one. I’ve really tried to see what everyone else sees in it, but I just don’t get it. While I don’t see anyone seriously challenging them at the moment, I’d be very happy if they somehow came second, even though that’s admittedly unlikely.

  13. mk says:

    Italy is a HIT. I hope it wins despite the fact that none of my faves won in the last 10+ years…

  14. Ben Pitchers says:

    Poland: MISS. Sounds much better in the studio version, which never helps at Eurovision. She’s good singer needing a better song; this just feels like a mood piece that needs better lyrics and more music. There’s no hook to remember when it comes to voting – I think it’ll be mostly diaspora support. Albania and Georgia are doing very similar things with their entries in SF1. It might just scrape through but Poland in the last few years have proven strong in getting weak entries to the final. Poland could easily win the contest with a stronger entry another year.

    Macedonia: HIT. A contemporary, well-produced entry and very enjoyable to listen and dance along with. The only unknowns with it are Jana herself, but the Macedonian team’s choice of choreographer gives me hope that they can stage the song well and give her the backing vocalists to fill out the sound of the song so it be as close to the studio version as possible. Despite an awful draw I think it’ll qualify and could have a chance of attracting votes from Western Europe that could get Macedonia top 11 and their best placing yet.

    Azerbaijan: MAYBE. There’s some good ideas (esp. the bridges) here and it has been well produced but the chorus really lets it down like Ben said. I really thought she was singing “I’m a skeletons”. I also agree with Ben that the lyrics are confused and obscure. What are “thorn jeans” and why do they keep repeating “bad boy” all the time? It’s a real shame they didn’t let Diana contribute to the composition or lyrics. Why choose a singer-songwriter and exclude them from the process? If I remember right she did say she wouldn’t perform anything that detracted from who she was as an artist so hopefully she liked the entry enough to not reject it (did she have that option?). I think there’s a chance it might just miss out on qualification. I’m not convinced it deserves to qualify, but it’d be a shame if Azerbaijan goes back to their old formula.

    Albania: MISS. She has a very powerful voice, but it seems like a great deal of the input into the song element has been overshadowed by Lindita being able to play around with her vocal range. She doesn’t sing any lyrics from 1:39 to 2:43, leaving it all to the backing singers. There’s just not enough song there and nothing to hook televoters in. FiK has had three very similar winning songs in a row, so Albania risks being stuck with the same fate of poor results at Eurovision. Georgia has a very similar, but slightly better, entry just two songs before in SF1 too so I don’t think it’ll qualify.

    United Kingdom: MAYBE. The NF entries this year were a little bit safe (thank the Danes) and there needs to be more genre variety next year. This song is safe and competent but doesn’t get me very excited. The good news is, like Ewan said, that Lucie really brings the song to life when she sings it live and is a very reliable singer that can bring out the emotions in the song. The BBC gave themselves enough time do revamp the song and seem to be thinking seriously about how to stage it effectively. I hope they give her some much more flattering and contemporary styling than she had at the NF and when she wears the old-fashioned white dress in the music video. At the very least, I’d like to see the song get 19th or higher. It could sneak into the lower reaches of the top half with the right presentation, draw and a good jury score.

    Italy: HIT. I really fell in love with this from the very first listen. It has so much going for it: Francesco’s charisma and stage presence, thoughtful lyrics and a great production. The Eurovision edit is a necessary evil but like the full length version it picks you up and doesn’t let you go for 3 minutes. There’s not chance to get bored. The visual elements of the gorilla and the simple dance will give viewers the calling card they need when remembering it for voting. Young voters especially are very influenced by visuals and memes. Even if it doesn’t top the jury vote, I’m sure it’d win the televoting. If this does happen, the EBU really need it to be the overall winner to justify the 50/50 split between jury and televoting. It’d also be great to have a non-English winner and a winning song with so much personality. I get the same feeling about it winning that I did for Euphoria and Only Teardrops.

    I often have the same feeling that Ben has about not wanting silly songs to do well that will reinforce negative stereotypes about the quality of Eurovision entries and hark back to the 2000-2008 period. I obviously don’t think Italy falls into that category – I’d select Romania’s song this year (and 2013) as being the perfect example of this.

  15. Nice one Ben – I always appreciate a juror who actually replies to the comments made! You should have seen the comments I made on JBJ#6, where NONE of the songs were in my top 25! Different strokes for different folks and all that…

    I’m just not getting why loads of Eurovision fans have this big down on the UK entry this year, probably because Lucie is my position 5 – apologies to Ben, if my comments were a tad harsh. Maybe we should just chat about the delightful lyrical beauty that is Blackbird (my number 1 this year too) and perhaps both dream of Helsinki 2018!

  16. Shai says:

    Poland – It’s all dramatic and trying to be sophisticated and mysterious but somehow it’s all sound very forced. She can sing this, no doubt. However what she sings is a song that has no built up or even a change in tone. The question remains if diaspora and juries alike are going to endorse or reject this. -MISS

    Macedonia – It deserve credit for being modern and contemporary, and a s a song it’s quite and interesting one. However it’s a song that depends hugely on the ability of the singer to sing it, sell it to me and convince me as one of the viewers that she means what she sing, and here I have my doubts. I am not sure she is up to the task. Her performance in Amsterdam was anything but promising or reassuring.She was miming and had problems with that too and she had no stage presence or charisma at all. Add to this that Macedonia has a bad track record regarding staging and you can understand I have my doubts. I am willing to give this a benefit of a doubt but at the moment it is MISS/MAYBE,

    Azerbaijan – Let me start saying that I normally don’t like the entries from Azerbaijan but I like this quite a lot. It’s interesting and intriguing. There are surprises in the composition that keep me wonder where this is going to and it’s far from being a safe entry. The thing that can work against the entry is how she will comes as a singer. During the Amsterdam gig she came a cross as a bit cold and maybe it suits the song but if this is how she come across to the audience at home, that might be the song’s downfall – (a tiny)MAYBE but more (A big) HIT.

    Albania – Albania does this every year. Choose a song in December only to come with a revamp in March. I went to listen to the original and it struck me that they pump-up the volume and the drama way too much. I think a more low key approach would work here better because the pump-up sends her wailing and shouting, which alienate me as a listener as I can’t stand it. Somewhere there is a good song hiding there which is hampered by the overdoses of drama and production and beside she can sing this live. Hopefully she will be dressed better than in Amsterdam – MISS

    United Kingdom – I thought that the original needed a bit upgrade and that is done here. It’s simple and yet effective it relies heavily on her singing because she sell the song and has no problem of singing this live. And the line:”I’ll Never Give up on you”at the start of the chorus is catchier than anyone can imagine. Now get the staging right and this could do quite well. Winning, not sure but a respectful/good result is an option – Hit(with some undertones of)MAYBE

    Italy – It has everything to win. It’s a well built song with a catchy composition and a singer with tons of charisma to sell this.If this win than it will be one of those rare occasions when I very much like the winning song – obviously a HIT

    That’s said, I have 2 minor issues with the song and yes it’s coming from a fan eyes and have probably very little to do with average viewer:
    1. Part of the song’s charm during the San Remo’s performance, was the participation of the orchestra. It was like a dialog between 2 parts and gave a boost to the song. No orchestra at Eurovision so they will need to do it with the backing singer, but the effect will be different and probably less effective. They can do it with the assistance of the crowd, but for this they need a crowd who knows the song. The Amsterdam gig was a perfect example, where a crowd gave it an extra push. A majority of the crowd in Kiev will not be that familiar with the song and that can go wrong.
    2. The Eurovision version is a bit of a let down. Something in the edit is not right and damage the flow and the built up of the song. It’s sound a bit awkward. Not sure whether the average viewer will take note of this or just ignore it all along.

  17. Pj says:

    Two of these are in my top 10: Italy and Albania. The others are complete musak

  18. dimitris esc says:

    Italy is a big hit and i’m not saying it necessarily because it’s the most obvious contender for the crown.It’s Italian pop,it’s distinctive and not generic.The lyrics are witty and people commenting on them should first sit down and read them.What is this guy singing about?You can’t criticize those lyrics while at the same time you praise the UK entry “I will never give up on you,blah,blah,blah….”Italy same as Portugal would be a worthy winner.It’s culturally distinctive,it’s instantly catchy,it makes people have fun.We need songs like “Occidentali’s Karma,”Amar pelos dois” and “Origo” among the many similarly sounding pop songs.

  19. Frances says:

    If Italy can get Europe to participate in the song it’ll be the only entry this year that’ll have that USP. That means the dance, and a combination of the singers and a screen projection maybe of the Ale’. I can’t see another entry that has that potential in this field. Really ‘feelgood’ factor that could set it apart. Hoping so anyway.

  20. Mike says:

    Italy’s song is so great this year; this is definitely one of my favorite Eurovision entries ever. While simple, his performance at San Remo was mesmerizing, and I can’t wait to see how this is staged during the final. Unless he really blows it, I don’t see what song could even come close to this. There are definitely some good songs this year, but nothing nearly as appealing to a general audience. (In fact, I’m starting to get bored listening to a lot of them.)

    Years where there is very clear favorite can be a bit boring, but Francesco is so appealing as a performer that I don’t care. This will be a great asset for the contest overall. It will be great if a non-English language song wins; hopefully encouraging more next year. Plus, it will be fun to see how and where the Italians host EV2018.

    Ewan has excellent judgment if he identified this as being able to win EV during his first listen of the song. Hopefully he made a bet on the song before the odds-makers realized what Italy had this year!

  21. Ewan Spence says:

    Mike, my bet on Italy was at 29-1…

  22. Ricardo says:

    The Italian song is very much a deserving winner. .the only thing is I wish he would perform without that damn monkey, just so that it won’t be cast as a joke entry. I really think it’s strong enough to win without that.

  23. Frances says:

    The Ape might be misunderstood but it needs to be there in some form.’La Scimmia nude balla’ is a refrain. But I agree that it could be a problem. I have thought from the outset that it might be better as a silhouette against a background screen – as it is briefly in the video – to take the ‘costume party’ look away while keeping the idea.

  24. Shevek says:

    Ben, thanks for explaining what you meant. I do not agree with you at all; putting ‘singing in rain’ and ‘Panta Rhei’ side by side illustrates brilliantly the main point of the song: the fact that Westeners do tend to make very shallow use of cultural references they do not fully understand. The whole act, including the dancing ape, manages to be highbrow and lowbrow at the same time, which is something difficult to achieve.

  25. markdowd1959 says:

    Ben…surprised a seasoned commentator as yourself dismisses Italy as a “comedy song”…..it’s superbly satirical and much more thought-out than you give it credit for.

    It will be a deserved winner.

  26. Dave Cargill says:

    Terrific reading all the comments on the juke box jury show! When I first started following Eurovision in the 1980’s, my only contact with other people who shared my passion was a monthly magazine. Now, it’s truly a minute-by-minute experience, and so much riche when you listen to opinions that make you think. Thanks everyone (thanks Martin!). Dave 🙂

  27. Edmund says:

    tbh as an American I would love a contest that pits Nebraska and Vermont against each other. but let’s get to the songs:

    Poland: MAYBE – I simultaneously don’t understand why everyone loves this while also not understanding why I don’t love this. Her voice is great, but the songs just does very little for me. I can’t really explain why I don’t like this but the song. It just bores me. The lyrics don’t make sense to me, it’s too slow, and I just don’t see the appeal to it other than her voice and the production value. However it seems to be pretty well loved and as we saw last year, sub-par songs will still do amazingly simply from the Polish diaspora. Also Dave did you say that she has key changes? This song NEVER changes key…

    Macedonia: HIT – In terms of studio recording, this might be the best song of the contest. I could see this charting even in the States if it were performed by a famous singer here. Her voice isn’t exceptional and it’s fairly produced, but that just adds to the feeling of the track. However, this is a live contest and I’m not sure how she will perform live (but I’m trying not to think too much of the preview performances as you said Ewan), but I still feel like the amazingness of this song will make it a hit. I don’t think it’s a definite qualifier but among fans this will always be a hit so I hope that the voters think so too. Also I feel like it’s very prejudiced of you to always look for nationalistic musical elements in only Eastern songs. No one would bat an eye if a Western European country released this song, but Macedonia does and you comment on how it doesn’t sound Macedonian. Get out of the late 1800s and stop exoticizing Eastern Europe. (Also Ewan the song is not “acceptable”, the song is fantastic) I can agree that they may not stage it well for the contest, but this song is amazing and they’ll need to do really poorly to mess up an already great set. I’m so pissed that two of you gave this a miss. If a song is great but on stage it’s unsure, that means it should be a maybe. It’s times like this that I think you need to qualify what hit miss and maybe mean.

    Azerbaijan: MISS – I should like this song. It’s got great production and a good singer. But I just can’t. Firstly, the backing vocals are terrible. They’re repetitive and they jump out too much. Also the lyrics and pronunciation are pretty bad (I thought she was saying “I’m a skeleton” for weeks), and the melody of the chorus bores me. It’ll probably do well because it’s Azerbaijan, but I would rather see so many other songs do better. Oh my goodness Ewan you did this last year too. I may not like this song but I’m sick of you calling out Eastern European nations for not being ethnic and never doing it for Western nations. None of Azerbaijan’s last eight entries have had an ethnic feel. If 80% of your entries sound very produced, then that’s your country’s sound. Stop. Needing. “Ethnic”. Entries. Only. From. Countries. You. Find. Exotic. I agree that it’s complicated, but I don’t think any of the layers work well together. I would be angrily surprised if this made the Top 3. This song just does nothing for me…

    Albania: MISS – I actually find the song alright and her vocals are good, so it’s a low maybe for me personally but I don’t think it’ll do too well against the other ballads. (Omg “whether that is love or Spain” is my new favorite quote). Not much more to add to/disagree with the commentary.

    United Kingdom: HIT – I love this song. The revamp really brought it up for me with the production value and her earlier entry on each line of “I will never…” made it really stick out to me. Her performance isn’t super showy but anyone can tell that her voice is fabulous. And the song has a simple message that can be so applicable to anyone. I think this will be one of the UK’s best showings in a while. I agree that her live experience on X Factor and on Broadway will really help her on stage. Yes it does get very belt-y but you obviously don’t know the difference between strong belting and shouting if you think this is shouting. She is the least shout-y belter that Eurovision has seen in a long time.

    Italy: HIT – This song is just too catchy, and it has so many other great elements too: singing (yeah he’s raspy but he owns it), lyrics (both meaning and sound of the Italian), a simple dance move to get the crowd going, his outfit and charisma, not to mention the fantastic orchestration of a great song. My only concerns are the ape, but commentators will probably clear that up for televoters and jurors will already know, and the new version of teh song. Because I listened to the old version so many times, I hated the shorter version without the second verse. It was so jarring to me. However I’ve now gotten used to it. But in terms of songwriting, it’s still very odd and jarring. Going from verse to chorus to chorus to bridge to chorus is just weird, and some voters on both sides might be jarred by it. That’s why I don’t think it’s as sure of a winner as everyone thinks, but it’s still the one to beat, and I’d still be very happy with this as a winner. Also Ewan your monologue at the end was amazing I loved it. And Ben how can you give this a maybe and give Azerbaijan a hit? I’m shocked you work in music.

  28. Dave Cargill says:

    Edmund -I hear you on Nebraska v Vermont. I wonder if the American states voting would be classified as political, if specific groups of states voted for each other. So Kentucky giving 12 points to Oklahoma (South)? Or Oregon awarding douze points to Washington State (West Coast)? Puerto Rico may be the Israel of the states version. Perhaps Hawaii is Cyprus! But this is probably a discussion for another thread!

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