That's right, dear readers. It's the time you've all been waiting for. Welcome back kind humans to my third annual Eurovision first impressions blog post!
Up for discussion are forty songs from forty countries. Armenia and Montenegro have returned to the competition after absences, whist Russia was barred from competing due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
As for the writeup itself, it's a little different because I have company.
Joining me is good friend, long time Eurovision fan, and bop-lover Chelsea, whose comments can be distinguished from my own by the presence of a slightly yellow background. (Mine get “salmon.”)
Since we're very different people, with different tastes and writing styles, this livens things up considerably.
After somehow exercising the will-power to avoid listening to any of these songs, we sat down to listen to each and every one... together. All the way through.
I've sorted the songs by the order that they will be performed (as it is currently best known), but this table of contents should assist with warping to any particular song of interest.
First Semifinal, First Half
Albania - Ronela Hajati / “Sekret”
Somewhere in the hills of Albania, a hitchhiker thinks about picking up a handsome stranger and...
Well, any song that has shouts of “Hajde” in wahtever local language is an automatic 10/10 for me.
Basically, this song is a mish-mash of elements, not unlike Albania's 2021 entry... Excpet, they are all things that I find individually more compelling than I did last year's entry. We've got some zurna, dance beats, hints of '90s pop...
Of course, the problem is that it doesn't really hang together as a cohesive whole. But, hey, I would get down to it if I was at a club.
I disagree when you say it wasn't cohesive.
I did not like the English chorus. I would be down if it was not there. In that respect, it's not very cohesive. It takes you out of the feeling of it, which is unfortunate.
Otherwise, the song has a lot of pros:
- It was in Albanian -- at least for the yell-speak-singing.
- Enjoyed the witchy vibes in the video
All in all, I would say this is a top for me, and I would put it on repeat in my car.
Steve's Ranking: Dig it, wish it was a winner but it ain't
Chelsea's Ranking: A top bop
Bulgaria - Intelligent Music Project / “Intention”
When I first saw the artist title, I was certain that this song would be stupid. I mean, what intelligent person would call their project intelligent?
Unfortunately, I was also expecting some good synths, some nice beats. Maybe something related to the terribly-named subgenre of... *ahem* “Intelligent Dance Music".
Well, what we have hear is a song that sounds like something that could be played on say, a rock station that my dad listens to in the car. Except, it's probably a bit insulting to Nickelback to make the comparison.
“And in time I've always known
I'm never in the safety zone"
If you like the Foo Fighters, this is for you. Other than that, this is like some grandpa's got together and were like, “remember when we used to play guitar in highschool, let's do that again!” And they invited all the grandpa's in town, cause there's like 20 of them, all rocking out somewhere in Bulgaria.
Also, the lyrics are terrible -- what the fuck is the “safety zone” -- but also, very comparable to Foo Fighters, cause all that shit's terrible.
Wow, I think you're being a little harsh about Foo Fighters. They have a much better handle on song structure. And besides, I have a soft spot for them, because a friend in high school.. tried to claim that the Foo Fighters invented all of their own chords instead of using chords that other people had used before. Which is hilarious, because ain't no Foo Fighter inventing chords.
I'm with you on the weird lyrics. For example, this dubious couplet from the bridge filled me with the special joy I'd get from a B-Movie:
“The more freedom I gain
The less real life I'm recalling”
Also, I'd call the guitar solo a highlight. I'd hate it anywhere else, but it was better than the rest of the song.
While I'm at it, I love that the band takes a page out of the Chris Dane Owens school of thought and ends their music video with a memorable message:
“It's never too late to set foot on the right path
All you need is a firm INTENTION”s
So intelligent indeed.
Steve's Ranking: $0.50 CD in FYE Bargain Bin
Chelsea's Ranking: I would not be mad if I never had to hear that song again
And, by the way, I looked it up. Chelsea is dead right in calling this a grandpa band.
"Intelligent Music Project” was founded by a 53 year-old “businessman,” and this probably explains a lot about why they sound the way they do, and how they got to be Eurovision entrants...
Quoth his current Facebook bio:
“Dr. Milen Vrabevski is a passionate composer and musical producer who works with world famous rock musicians who perform his own author's musical projects.”
Latvia - Citi Zēni / “Eat Your Salad”
As someone who wrote a song about eating vegetables, I feel a bit encroached by this one existing.
Well, this is a funky, funky, disco-inspired eco anthem dance bop about... recycling, composting, and eschewing red meat for... vegetables and pussy. It is catchy, it is fun. It manages to mostly toe the line of not being too obnoxious, though occasionally it flies its dance bro flag wild and proud.
I love it and there is nothing else to say.
Steve's Ranking: It's solid
Chelsea's Ranking: Love it
Lithuania - Monika Liu / “Sentimentai”
Alright, we are solidly into mid-tempo disco-inspired territory here, with this lovely tune about missing a man. Major points for being sung in Lithuanian, which I haven't heard in forever, and it is just lovely.
Major points as well for its artsy touches: the slow shutter speed in the music video, the mid-section that briefly brings in some hip hop influences, and the guitar solo that sounds almost horn-like.
Is it enough? No, but it is enjoyable.
I definitely agree that hearing a song in Lithuanian was amazing.
I preferred that I could not understand the lyrics without subtitles, because I found her voice to be incredibly sexy, and the song in general was very sensual. Before I was looking at the subtitles, I thought I could definitely make love to this song.
But, the lyrics are actually kind of depressing. So it's best to just listen without subtitles.
Steve's Ranking: Enjoyable
Chelsea's Ranking: I'd take my clothes off
Moldova - Zdob și Zdub and Frații Advahov / “Trenulețul”
I'm excited, because with artist names like this... I'm lookin' forward to it!
Have you ever wanted to ride a train from Chișinău to Bucharest? No!? What on earth is wrong with you.
WATCH THIS MUSIC VIDEO IMMEDIATELY.
You get some nice Carpathian folk... with Celtic influences, and maybe a swig or two of U.S. Country, and some absolutely fantastic gags.
Also, there's a not-too-subtle but still lighthearted amount of geopolitical commentary going on. The train is running from East to West, from post-Soviet Moldova to EU member Romania, both areas with Romanian speaking populations. According to the lyrics, the train itself is confused whether its journey is through one country or two.
(I'll note here as well that in recent years, Moldova's government has shifted from a pro-Russia ruling party, to one that submitted its first bid for EU Membership earlier this month.)
Meanwhile, the train ride in the video is awash with nostalgic imagery.
But, really, there's no need to analyze things at this level. This song is fun.
I love absolutely everything about this. Everything about this.
And, I mean that even more seriously and wholeheartedly than that stupid vegetable song. I have never been so interested to learn Romanian in my life, just for the sole fact that I am now determined to ride a train from Chișinău to Bucharest while singing this song obnoxiously.
Steve, we need to go ASAP.
I feel like this video also made me realize that I know nothing about Romanian or Moldovan culture or history and I would really like to learn more.
Steve's Ranking: WOOOOOOO!!! Love it
Chelsea's Ranking: Top of the List
Netherlands - S10 / “De diepte”
Okay, we're in solid ballad territory here... still mid-tempo ballad territory. And, it's another breakup song. And again, another song that is probably better if you don't read the lyrics, and can just appreciate those Dutch velar fricatives without knowing the meaning associated with them.
The guitar tone is nice. The vocals have the right amount of reverb. The production in the studio version is all there, and the chorus is super pleasant. I love all of the singer's oohs, and aahhs, and could probably gladly listen to a song full of em.
Not the tada dadadadadadaddada's though. Those are overwrought.
It was.. especially at the beginning with the guitar, giving me a lot of open mic night coffee shop, singer songwriter vibes. So, it wasn't really my vibe from the get-go.
I suppose her voice was nice enough, and I always appreciate when a song was in a different language. But, I could live without the tadadadada's, and the oohs, and the aaahs.
Oh no, Chels. Don't come for the oohs and ahhs. That's sacrilege.
Steve's Ranking: Pleasant
Chelsea's Ranking: Overall, I could probably live without it
Slovenia - Last Pizza Slice / “Disko”
I hope you're not holding out for any surprises here. This is, in fact, a disco song, with a somewhat handsome singer, and somewhat animated band. It's pleasant and all. The horn section (invisible in the video) is the best part.
I like the genre, but this isn't what I would call... memorable.
First off: I would not call this a disco song. Yes, it might have it in the title, but this song gives a much jazzier feel than disco feel in my opinion.
I was a little confused as to if I was attracted to the lead singer, or just kinda creeped out. I was not into the tempo change. Overall, it was in Slovenian, and it would definitely be a bop in my car.
So, I think it was memorable.
Steve's Ranking: Forgettable
Chelsea's Ranking: Memorable
Switzerland - Marius Bear / “Boys Do Cry”
Let's start with the positives here: there are drums being played with brushes buried in the background of the mix from the second verse onwards, and towards the very end of the song, a clarinet... (an instrument far too lovely to be associated with this song, but never the less, a clarinet) seems to be trying to let out an almost Klezmer line for a brief millisecond that's nice.
Other than that, this ballad is made of cliches that come so hard and thick they could be cut with a knife. From the pregnant pauses and overwrought lyrics of the intro, to the chorus which compares a boy crying to a mountain crumbling... this is a doozy.
Now I understand why Steve made the rule that we had to listen to all of the songs all of the way through. He knew that a song like this would appear, and I would probably just turn it off. Instead, umm...
I had the urge to do the laundry, so I could perhaps get my mind off the fact that I wanted to gauge my eyes out with a spoon.
That's all I have to say about that.
Steve's Ranking: No thank you.
Chelsea's Ranking: I would rather be anywhere but where this song is playing.
Ukraine - Kalush Orchestra / “Стефанія” (Stefania)
Ukraine has been in the news of late, for y'know war, in addition to Eurovision drama. Fun fact, this is Ukraine's second entry after their first artist withdrew under controversies about past travel to occupied Crimea. Meanwhile, at least some of new entrants Kalush Orchestra are currently fighting, so it will be interesting to see how this pans out on the Eurovision stage...
So, if the criteria for a great Eurovision song is, “would this be a bop in Chelsea's car,” then I can firmly say it would absolutely be a bop in Steve's car. We got some lovely Ukrainian folk-hiphop blend, with 'white vocal' harmonies and some sick flute solos in the drop.
It doesn't quite have the je ne sais quoi of Go_A's last two entries, but it is a fantastic number.
I have some questions to begin with. Is this song about his mom? Is that who Stephanie is?
If that's the case, that's pretty dope. I dig my mom a lot, and it would be cool if they also liked their mom enough to write a song about her.
I'm going to start with maybe the only negative I could find: because this was a live performance, there were parts that seemed just a little bit pitchy. But, that's the only flaw I can find.
I really, really enjoyed it, and the flute gave me life. 100% this would also be a bop in my car.
Steve's Ranking: Love it!!
Chelsea's Ranking: I hope they get a lot of points. Ukraine deserves a lot of points in all aspects of life.
First Semifinal, Second Half
Armenia - Rosa Linn / “Snap"
It's like I didn't know that I was in need of a modern day Michelle Branch until I heard this song. I like her style. I like that her house was located in the middle of nowhere. It looked really peaceful.
I was kind of disappointed when the house started o float away. But, I think that we got a nice view of Armenia from the sky.
I think that it's a good song. I like the clapping and the snapping in the chorus.
I think that this song reminded me too much of Mumford and Sons or “Ho Hey!” by the Lumineers. Except, like, it's a breakup song, but still not one with enough emotional depth to carry the tired sound.
The one two / three four in the chorus also really reminded me of that child's song “one, two buckle my shoe” which is probably not the right vibe for your mature acoustic guitar strumming number.
I enjoyed when her house floated through the clouds particularly when they seemed to be depicted by an overzealous smoke machine.
This isn't my jam, but it is a totally acceptable version of its style.
Steve's Ranking: Meh
Chelsea's Ranking: I can snap along to it
Austria - LUM!X feat. Pia Maria / “Halo”
Lumix!?! Who do they think they are?! A Panasonic brand camera?
If so, I hope one with a nice four thirds sensor and in-body image stabilization and... (okay, I'll stop now, though all my memories of happy photos taken with a Lumix GX85 beg me to continue forever.)
This one reminds me a bit of "The Ride", Poland's entry from last year's Eurovision. Theoretically, it's a high tempo electronic pop bop, something I should enjoy, with all them nice octave basslines and such.
Actually though, it's horribly generic, and something about the production just seems a bit grating. I'm also not impressed one bit by the shots of LUM!X occasionally prodding a LaunchPad. I know what an honest to god live electronic music performance looks like, and this ain't it.
The song seems to repeat its chorus about a billion times. It isn't particularly inspiring or catchy the first time, so by the billionth... It's stuck in my head and I don't like it.
Though, I will say that Pia Maria, who I guess provides the vocals, is a lot cuter than 2021's Rafal.
Sometimes, Steve and I aren't such different people after all.
The beat was okay. Pia Maria is pretty good-looking, and that's the only thing that really kept my interest.
Everything else was kinda 'meh' and the chorus does repeat a lot.
Steve's Ranking: Forgettable, and also I want to forget it ASAP
Chelsea's Ranking: Meh
Croatia - Mia Dimšić / “Guilty Pleasure”
Okay, so I was not expecting this to open with acoustic guitar, and I was not expecting singer-songwriter vibes. Really, this slots more into something that I could imagine slotting into late '90s early aughts pop radio, somewhere between “Sk8r Boi” and “1000 Miles.” Except, like, about infidelity on the singer's behalf. #BalkansFTW
I do think that the lyrics in the chorus are a bit weak, and that the backing vocals towards the end of the track are a bit overbearing. But hey, it's overall pretty enjoyable, and I enjoy the staging with a hunky male dancer doing somersaults and then awkwardly coming in for a kiss.
There are so many red flags with this song, but I've already put it on a pedestal, so I'm like blind to all of the red flags.
I hate the dancer. But, I could see myself losing my voice because I'm singing this song early on the way to work, very loudly in my car.
Steve's Ranking: Solid
Chelsea's Ranking: Blissfully ignoring all the red flags
Denmark - Reddi / “The Show”
I'm really excited to listen to Denmark. I hope they bring something interesting.
I'm not excited to listen to Denmark.
I think Denmark are usually one of the worst Eurovision countries, with songs about how we should be happy and ignore politics, or just boring stuff.
My expectations are rock bottom...
Oh good lord, we're in piano ballad territory.
And oh, good lord, the vocals are a bit raw, and there's an orchestra looming in the darkness.
For the love of god, yes, they start to play, and maybe, I am holding out hope that a drummer will come in. I am just wishing for a miracle. I am hoping that there will be some momentum.
Well, when the second vers is about to start, we are suddenly thrown straight into rock music territory, not unlike Bulgaria's entry. Except, instead of grandpas, I guess it's maybe an aunt and her cool young friends, and man, they like to play the six notes they know on their instruments quickly and repeatedly.
It's never good, but it's at least not as boring as it could be.
Yeah, I guess I liked the band's outfits.
The biggest pro for me is that it reinforced that I should trust Steve's instincts, because he said he didn't have high hopes for it going in, and it was definitely a let down. I'm glad that it wasn't all just a piano ballad, but at the same time, they were a wannabe Blondie. And it wasn't doing it for me.
Steve's Ranking: Not as boring as it could be.
Chelsea's Ranking: Leave it
Greece - Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord / “Die Together”
Let me start with the elephant in the room. The scenery in this video is so damn spectacular and gorgeous. It really makes me want to hang out on a boat near an idyllic Greek village for sure.
Meanwhile, the song. It's ballad-ish. It opens with some really lovely sparseness, and some vocals accompanied by a vocoder harmony, which really work in the initial build-up, but I feel like the pre-chorus and chorus are rather uninspired. When the beat and swooshy backing come in, they do save things for the chorus, but make the verse less interesting.
Overall, I feel like there are solid elements here, and like Amanda could def deliver something super special and awesome, but this isn't it. I can still kinda see myself bopping to it, but I'm not sure why.
Maybe because I want to move to that Greek village.
It wasn't for me. The scenery was nice, I suppose, but I still can't get over the fact that I feel like she's saying that the only way their relationship could be salvaged is by maybe... dying together!?
I guess it was just overall very bleh. And depressing. And in English, so boo.
If it's going to be depressing, at least do it in Greek!
Steve's Ranking: Reasonably Decent
Chelsea's Ranking: If Steve bops this in the car, I'm skipping to the next song
Iceland - Sigga, Beta and Elín / “Með hækkandi sól”
I guess I'm predispositioned to absolutely love everything that Iceland produces and this is no different. I thought that the three ladies were super cute. Loved that they were singing in Icelandic. Loved their super hippy style. And, I loved the dope folky vibe.
All in all, I hope they win. Because. After all, let's go to Iceland for Eurovision in 2023.
Lots of nice acoustic guitar, vocal harmonies, and '60's/'70s vibes. It reminds me really strongly of something I can't put my finger on.
It's pleasant enough, but not a standout.
Wow. Guess Steve doesn't want to go to Iceland in 2023.
Steve's Ranking: Would rather have gone to Iceland the last three years...
Chelsea's Ranking: Would rather go to Iceland whenever, but 2023 sounds fine.
Norway - Subwoolfer / “Give That Wolf a Banana”
Fucking hell. If this is anything like that Ylvis song ("What Does The Fox Say?") that I politely tolerated for a year of... cannot word it politely
I will be upset.
A coin has two sides, a story with two characters has two perspectives, and so, this song has two elements I can discuss: the music (and NOT the lyrics), and everything else about the content and how it's presented.
Well, musically, we open (and close) with a nice acoustic guitar part, and it's pleasant, building into good dance music vibes. It's well-produced and boppable. The bridge is a really weak spot, and some of the later choruses go a bit too obnoxious with group vocals and the like, but it's not bad per se...
As for everything else, the music vid is chock full of dances designed to take Tiktok by storm, and the lyrics scream “lol wut I'm so random,” with gags about... not knowing someone's name and calling them Keith, or wanting to eat someone's grandma.
It doesn't have the same level of obnoxiousness of “What Does The Fox Say?", but I find its aesthetics tiresome nonetheless.
I could really see myself getting tired of this song after not too long, however that does not interfere with my extreme desire to see if I can get the song to become really popular amongst the students at my school. Which, will be my mission as soon as I go in tomorrow.
Steve's Ranking: Please don't win Eurovision
Chelsea's Ranking: Let's see if we can get this song playing on American radio stations
Portugal - Maro / “Saudade, saudade”
My first thought was to preempt Chelsea by saying, “Why isn't she singing in Portuguese?” But, eventually there are a few Portuguese lines and they are a joy. If the whole thing was in Portuguese, it would be better.
The live in the studio version features just a beautiful, rich piano tone, and a really nice fullness to the voicing of the piano notes. Is the melody simple and repetitive? Yes, but man, Maro hits all the goddamn notes so beautifully.
And, that's why I like it. It's not really that interesting of a song, but I find it charming.
I wholeheartedly agree.
In general, it would be the type of song that would bore me, but I was really captivated by her voice, to a point where I could definitely see myself getting emotional or tearful.
So, I'm really interested to see if her other work is in Portuguese, and what it sounds like in general.
Steve's Ranking: Low-key stannable
Chelsea's Ranking: I'm not crying... you're crying
Second Semifinal, First Half
Australia - Sheldon Riley / “Not the Same”
Australia? Ugh! They shouldn't even be here.
So, I generally like Australia's recent Eurovision entries. They have no reason to be there, but they've brought something interesting to the table. Unfortunately, this time, “Not the Same” is rather... dull and uninteresting.
Sheldon has a lovely cape-skirt, and rhinestones in front of his face for most of the performance, but other than the costuming, the song is pretty much a slow ballad with operatic vocals and high notes.
Does he hit his notes perfectly? Yup!
Is this basically, “Boys Do Cry” if it was... passable? Also yep.
I thought his fashion choice was kind of strange. It honestly reminded me of something I saw one of the Real Housewives wear once to get a reaction.
Definitely a ballad, so classically, I hate it.
I feel like there was a point where it could have gone somewhere special, but it really never left the driveway.
Steve's Ranking: Meh
Chelsea's Ranking: Double meh
Azerbaijan - Nadir Rustamli / “Fade to Black"
Oh man we have the most ballad-y of ballads next to each other.
Nadir Rustamli probably has the best male ballad out of this year's contenders, though it would have so much better if say, Gjon's Tears was back singing it.
The lyrics are a muddled soup of breakup cliches, with a bizarre pre-chorus about “the weaaaather” and the strange refrain “it hurts so fast, when love goes bad.” They're not helped by Rustamli's lackluster English enunciation.
But, we have nice buildup, nice piano, nice strings, and mostly nice singing.
The exceptions are that Rustamli's voice has a harshness to it when he pushes it, which I really dislike. This is accentuated when the song climaxes with his high notes. At first, they are a fitting climax, but before he finishes his display of prowess, they remind me more of a wounded animal.
Please sing something less boring in Azerbaijani next time.
This song was so boring to me. I found myself zoning out quite often. If it were up to me, we would have turned it off well before it ended.
The only thing that kept me entranced was the nice scenery of the lake with the small hill/mountain thing in the background.
The only thing that would snap me back into paying attention to the song was the raspiness of his voice when he would try to hit the high notes. So, I actually liked that aspect of his voice.
Steve's Ranking: Suits Azerbaijan just fine
Chelsea's Ranking: Snoozefest
Cyprus - Andromache / “Ela” (Έλα)
So, this one has a few nice elements to the instrumentation: a bağlama or bouzouki sounding string instrument, and a nice bit of flute, and occasionally, maybe some notes in a non-chromatic scale. Really, though, it's predominantely blended with a pop song with a dance beat, though, and that's what takes precedent.
The result sounds not unlike a Turkish pop song. Not unlike a Turkish pop song I would only listen to for Turkish listening practice. Except, of course, the lyrics are in English and Greek. Though, some of the English has rather Greek-like stress and intonation patterns, so it can be surprisingly difficult to tell the two apart.
Overall, I feel like the vocals could use more energy, and like this could translate into a killer live performance. But, what we have on record is too bland.
I enjoyed that the chorus was in Greek.
Honestly, it really wasn't that bad. Maybe somewhat enjoyable. But, it definitely doesn't spark joy and probably won't be a personal car bop.
Steve's Ranking: Has potential
Chelsea's Ranking: Grilled chicken with no salt or spices
Finland - The Rasmus / “Jezebel”
I would say if you were fortunate enough to be a middle schooler or high schooler from 2002-2007, and also enjoyed watching music videos on FUSE all afternoon, then The Rasmus may have rung a bell.
It definitely did for me.
I would say
I definitely freaked out when I noticed there was an entry this year from a band I had recognized.
The lead singer has not changed at all. There must be something about Finland's water that keeps them looking young forever.
If I were 12 again and it was 2003, I could see myself really enjoying this. Thankfully, however, my music tastes have evolved a little since then.
This song is super cringey in my opinion. But, I still can't look away, and I probably would listen to it again.
I think what we have here is a catchy number, which, yes indeed, sounds like it has been beamed to us straight from 2003, or a parallel universe in which nothing has changed since then.
And oh my goodness, there are so many lyrics that made me laugh at how absurd and cringy they were, like a final kiss.. that leaves a scar... on the heart.
Or, say, how Jezebel is a “shark in heels” and “predator on wheels.” Am I supposed to find those descriptions attractive? It sounds like... someone on To Catch A Predator (also something popular in 2003, right?)
The song is a bit too repetitive for its own good, but it benefits from the lack of any others in the same style. It is energetic, it is entertaining, and cringey or not it is better than a lot of other entries.
Steve's Ranking: Could be a contendor
Chelsea's Ranking: Like finding a picture of my greasy pimpley face in my eighth grae yearbook
Georgia - Circus Mircus / “Lock Me In”
I'm really excited for this one, because I feel like Georgia tends to take a lot of risks. They're not rewarded for their risks with points, but they tend to be more interesting. I have no idea what Circus Mircus is going to sound like, but I hope they're good.
Meanwhile, I should point out that the youtube clip intentionally looks like a removed video, but isn't one. As the band writes in the description:
“Due to the war in Ukraine, we feel that it is not the right time to release our happy and colorful music video."
So, that's what's going on there.
This sounds like a funk rock band, with like a slight King Crimson influence. Maybe, not quite angular enough to hit avant-garde levels, but like there's definitely some angularity there. And some '60s influences. And synth arpeggios.
I would get down to the verses. I feel like the chorus is a bit less inspired and interesting, with kind of boring call/response and arpeggios going on.
Can I bop to half a song in the car?
...but what does it mean to be locked sideways!?
I really, really hope that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine ends quickly, if only for the sole purpose of seeing the colorful music video that goes along with this dope song. (Of course, I want it to end for the sole purpose of it ending.)
I think that this is a full car bop and I enjoyed it.
I do really, really really want to know what it is to be locked sideways though. I'm curious, would I like it?
Steve's Ranking: Love it
Chelsea's Ranking: This song makes me want to meet more Georgians
Israel - Michael Ben David / “I.M”
If you were Steve and sitting right next to me, you would know this song 1000% made me wiggle. I definitely could see myself blasting this song before a night out. You know, that type of song that gives you all that energy when you're putting on your makeup and picking out what to wear...
I really liked it.
Plus, I really enjoyed Michael Ben David's coat. That oversized look is definitely in.
I was, however, too enthralled with the beat and my overall excitement to share this with one of my BFF's that I missed a line about “the Middle East being the new sex appeal.” Thankfully, I have Steve to point it out, and well, I guess that is kind of a strange line.
But, I don't care. Still playing it while I pregame.
You can definitely tell that they're aiming straight for the gay dancefloor crowd with this one.
And that's why I was so into it!!
I mean, it hits all the right beats. It's a solid number. It's catchy.
It has a few odd lines, but overall, it brings its vibe remarkably well.
It's solid, but probably not one of my top, top favorites.
Steve's Ranking: It's goooood.
Chelsea's Ranking: Pass me a vodka redbull, we're going out
Malta - Emma Muscat / “I Am What I Am”
I think the first words out of my mouth when I saw her sitting in front of the piano were “oh no.” I was convinced this would be a super boring Vanessa Carlton-esque ballad.
However, I think about 30 seconds into the song it picked up and for me, it really reminded me of an early 200s pop song and it brought me back to just feeling pretty good.
I could have done without the music video. It was pretty cliche. The thing that really sold the song to me was the choral singing in the chorus.
I can picture myself walking down the street, singing this song, and when the chorus comes in, a bunch of my friends pop out of the bushes and start walkin' and singin' with me...
It's a really nice song.
Yeah, we've got lots of faux gospel choral backing vocals, and all the right chord progessions to scream “bland and upbeat.”
I love that Emma Muscat needs people to remind her who she is when she falls down so she can get up again. I wonder how often she forgets her identity. I guess maybe she is singing this song in the hopes of remembering.
Doesn't do it for me, but it's inoffensive enough.
Steve's Ranking: If I was 12 and this played on the speakers at Hair Cuttery, it would be one of the better songs
Chelsea's Ranking: Surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it
San Marino - Achille Lauro / “Stripper”
To address a thought I've been having for a while: is the lesson our entrants learnt from Maneskin's win last year that the surefire way to Eurovision success is to send... a bland song with some guitars in it?
Like, c'mon, please treat that as a fluke and send more... non-rock stuff?!
Anyway, this sounds like it's trying to sound like a '70s rock song, except more like an 00's band trying to sound like a '70s band, which from the '20s... is probably not that unusual of a point to hit.
The backing track could be pleasant enough, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Just repeats and pans out. Meanwhile, I'm certainly not into the lyrics. I don't think Achille Lauro is qualified to sing from the perspective of a female sex worker. And, though I have no desire to see any more of his body than he already showed in the video, I think he ought to at least pole dance or take his pants off if this is his lyrical topic of choice.
I hated the lyrics. I hated the instrumental. And, also why the fuck does he have face tattoos? Hated those too.
Though I see where Steve is coming from with the pole dance or pants removal, I am happy I haven't barfed today, so let's not start...
Steve's Ranking: I would be happy to never see or hear this again
Chelsea's Ranking: Do we have to ever see or hear this again?
Serbia - Konstrakta / “In corpore sano”
What is the secret to Megan Markle's healthy hair? What's the point of having an unhealthy mind in a healthy body? Will God grant me health, because I sure don't have insurance...
These questions (and more) are raised by Konstrakta's entry, a song which pokes at really important topics with its pointed lyrics, but which provides no easy answers, no cliched overriding message. And moreover, it provides a sick dance beat.
I am immensely pleased that this song exists, I just feel like it is the complete package in terms of lyrics, ideas, music, and performance.
I'm also so glad it's in Serbian, and that I can certainly understand some of the simpler repeated refrains (“biti zdrava” ~ “to be healthy") because it means that when I repeatedly listen to this in the coming months, I am also gettin' some language practice in.
I'm happy you went first, because I feel like you said it really well. And I now just have a few things to add:
- I really think that Serbian is a very, very beautiful language, and so I'm happy that this song is in Serbian. I wonder if we spoke Serbian fluently and we actually understood the feeling of the words if we would be able to perhaps understand the intentions at a deeper level.
- I'm a sucker for a good face mole and she has a beautiful one.
Steve's Ranking: Next time Kostranka holds an audition for people to pour water over her hands in a music video, I want to be first in line
Chelsea's Ranking: Let's actually go to Serbia in 2023. She should win.
Second Semifinal, Second Half
Belgium - Jérémie Makiese / “Miss You”
We open in piano ballad-ish territory. Combine that with the title, and I'm fearing the worst, but really, we build into a rather splendid, soulful breakup ballad.
I think it really works, and these are the three things I like the most about it:
- The use of “nooo!” as a refrain. It's sung with serious energy, and it's something I can imagine singing along to, which is great.
- The strings
- The guitar riff as a counterpart is just nice.
Overall, I'm feeling this a lot more than I thought I would.
At the very beginning, I was expecting not to be blown away. But, to be honest, I really enjoyed it and I could see myself putting it on a playlsit and listenign to it a lot more often than I really ever expected a song from Belgium to be playing.
Steve's Ranking: Should this win? Nooooo! But, like it should be in the top 10, eh?
Chelsea's Ranking: Will listen to again
Czech Republic - We Are Domi / “Lights Off”
I loved pretty much everything about this. I'm surprised because their band name sounds kind of dumb, and I dunno, the title of the song also didn't seem appealing. But, boy was I wrong.
The song gave me early 10's euro club vibes, like Cascada “Everytime We Touch” vibes. I was instantly transported back to a really wonderful time in my life when you could drink without fear of being hungover and you're just dancing in some European bar, and you end up making out with people who look exactly like the people in We Are Domi.
All in all, it was a really wonderful feeling of nostalgia and I'm happy with it.
As an amateur synth-spotter, I'm happy to see some modern issue Moog & Prophets in the vid, even though they are definitely not always being played for real. Ditto for the bowed guitar, what a cool effect, but definitely not as present in the audio spectrum as the visual one. Would have loved more of all of those.
Other than that, I guess my main point of critique would be the vocals. There's nothing wrong with them per se, but I feel like they aren't quite as memorable as... well, a lot of other entries.
The music though... Chelsea nailed it. Def euro club vibes, and I am here for it.
Steve's Ranking: Solid and enjoyable
Chelsea's Ranking: I have a really intense urge to hit up the clubs this Friday
Estonia - Stefan / “Hope”
My expectations: a handsome man sings a bland ballad.
Reality: I don't really know if Stefan is handsome or not. The cowboy hat is hiding most of his face almost all of the time.
And yes, I did just say cowboy hat. This song is basically a hybrid between a mid-tempo ballad-y Eurovision song and... a spaghetti western.
Main point against it is that the chorus (or pre-chorus, but the initial refrain) just saps a lot of the song's momentum (and makes no sense... why would you need to sing for all people, great and small).
Besides that, the song is a lot better when the drums come in. They are sorely missed in the first half.
I loved the image of a coffin being buried labelled “Hope,” and I'll leave the apperance of the title in the song lyrics for Chelsea to discuss..
This was one that I had been really, really looking forward to. Mainly because a few days ago during <> time, I was raving about Eurovision songs and how my friend Steve and I were going to rate all of them in the upcoming days.
One of my students became very interested and went on YouTube and searched up Eurovision 2022 and he listened to a few different songs. When he got to Estonia's entry, he was hooked and gave it rave reviews.
Because Steve & I promised we would not listen to the songs before we listened to them together for the first time for this first impressions post, I made the student put headphones on while he listened.
I don't know if you remember being eight years old, but you tend to not realize you're still singing outloud when you have headphones on. And all I got was a third grader chanting “I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope” in a weird half-singing voice. It was both hysterical and frightening.
So, this song was really fun if only because it now has this memory associated with it.
I do have a couple of questions though because I don't know much about Estonia's landscape. Was this filmed in Estronia?
Wikipedia says it was filmed in Spain.
I guess it's disappointing that the landscape in Estonia doesn't look like that, but I really appreciate that they had the whistley bit and baritone guitar like in the theme to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. But that was all it did for me personally.
Steve's Ranking: Inoffensive, I hope
Chelsea's Ranking: I hope, I hope, I hope
Ireland - Brooke / “That's Rich”
Having a pretty toxic ex named Richard who, obviously goes by Rich, this song really, really moved me.
It had a pretty good beat. The lyrics got a little bit cheesy, but with my personal experience it hit something deep within me.
Thumbs up from me! Good job, Ireland!
I love the lyrics. “Bye-Bye Fool” is such a good refrain for a self-empowerment screw you guy love anthem. And, I am personally a fan of probably any song that tells the loser ex they should go please themselves and that self-pleasure beats their love... Because, that's a very nice burn to express, and one that doesn't come up all that often, but is definitely a valid dig.
Musically, I'd say we're in 10's dance territory. My main criticism is that the song is a bit too static, with its repetitive ramp bass and maybe a bit too much compression ensuring that the different elements don't have as much space in the mix as they could. The song just sounds a bit samey, and that's a shame.
Good work, Brooke!
Steve's Ranking: My flowers are on fire
Chelsea's Ranking: Another one that's probably going on repeat for a while
Montenegro - Vladana / “Breathe”
This song is Montenegro's return to the competition after a three year absence. Normally, I'm all for having as many countries as possible in Eurovision, but if their entry is anywhere near as limp and inspid as their last (2019's "Heaven"), I might wish they stayed home instead...
Hey! I really liked that 2019 song.
Is this song about air pollution? In any case, the lyrics would be a lot better if I understood them less. I would love to hear some Montenegrin, and have another good song for language learning listening practice. Instead, I get to learn about how the air is what they need to breathe. Hurrah.
This has some elements I really like, and a pretty decent beat, but I am not feeling it.
At least it's not a love song. It really reminded me of a song that would be specifically written for a movie. You know what I mean?
It's ballad-y so it's not really my thing. At least Vladana is nice to look at.
Steve's Ranking: Exhale and move on / Didn't take my breath away / I wouldn't hold my breath for this one...
Chelsea's Ranking: Insert any breathy pun here
North Macedonia - Andrea / “Circles”
I was really expecting to be bored towards the beginning, but I am very pleasantly surprised. I really liked it a lot. I could see the chorus getting stuck in my head and I'm not mad about it.
Wish they had a chance.
This one isn't one of my favorites, but there's a lot to recommend.
First of all, I'd like Andrea to hook me up with her hairstylist, because I feel like we could have a good time together.
Second of all, I like the vocal performance.
Third of all, I love the way that most of the music video is shot with her moving through a city, often with rather long focal lengths and some bokeh for a rather disorienting feeling. And indeed Skopje (if that's where this was filmed) looks exactly like I imagined it would...
For the negatives, I'm not really into the conversation/situation baby/already rhymes. The music is also rather throwbacky, except for those snare rolls on the beat which are definitely in vogue. I feel like it hits some ballad-ish bingo squares but doesn't commit, and instead is just a bit too repetitive and melodidcally flat.
But hey, I still dig it. Maybe it will grow on me.
Steve's Ranking: Good
Chelsea's Ranking: A solid 7/10
Poland - Ochman / “River”
Rivers are one of my favorite types of bodies of water.
I haven't heard such a banger about... suicidal thoughts and wanting to absolve oneself of responsibility in a long time. We get some real nice crooning and piano, and an excellent beat in the chorus with lovely string counterpoint to the melody. Also worthy of note: Ochman's great falsetto.
My only complaint is that the bridge and its key change are really quite jarring and unnecessary.
Steve, you seem very certain that this song is about suicide. I can see where you're coming from, but I got much more of a “water is my salvation. I can be absolved of my sins” vibe. Very Christianity focused.
Oh yeah, wow, I didn't think of that, but I can definitely see it.
However, the part about “who would want to be king / pulling too many strings” -- that part in general should be removed from the song because he tries to go too fast with that many syllables.
Yep, plus I think that's the part that sounded most like wanting to end life...
I agree with you that the bridge could get deleted.
All in all though, I actually really enjoy this song, mostly because I really feel a deep connection and gratitude towards water in general, but rivers in particular hold a pretty special place in my heart. Going down to the river to float away sounds very cathartic to me.s
Steve's Ranking: Definitely has a lot going for it (down to the river)
Chelsea's Ranking: Really & truly delete the part about king & strings and you have a real contemporary church banger
Romania - WRS / “Llámame”
I'd say that Romania is just trying to be Spain, but they are instead being someone who has just sat through their first three days of Spanish class, and knows how to say “call me baby.”
The whole time I was listening to this, I was wanting to be listening to Israel's entry again, because it's a far better club banger with *slightly more* substance and no atrocious costuming.
For some reason I just want to connect all of these songs to personal experiences. This song really, really reminds me of using my very, very limited Spanish to flirt with Cabo resort workers. Most of the conversation would be in English, but with some winks and three Spanish words thrown about.
Overall, this song gives me some flirty fun, gettin' freaky on vacation vibes.
Steve's Ranking: Just put on Israel's song twice instead
Chelsea's Ranking: It's all fun and games until you find out they're divorced with three kids
Sweden - Cornelia Jakobs / “Hold Me Closer"
Okay. Here we are again with yet another song about wanting someone in a relationship that won't work out...
I liked this a lot more then Sweden's other recent entries, so that's something, but I wish the pumping synth bass came in earlier than half-way through the song. I think Cornelia has a lot of charisma and performs the song well, and I like it, but I don't love it.
I think her accent while singing in English is hella cute. I'm not into the tired and weak clubby synth beat, but I would checkout her other stuff in the hope of something more Joanna Newsome-esque.
Steve's Ranking: Could be more inspired than it is, but there's some good stuff there
Chelsea's Ranking: Steve hit the nail on the head
When more and more countries started to join Eurovision, the format was altered so that most had to qualify to appear in the final. (Apparently, most people don't think 40 performances of 3 minute songs plus all the set up, teardown, and hours of putting numbers on scoreboards would be an appropriate length for a show...)
However, the countries that fund the European Broadcasting Union the most automatically get included in the final.
This absolutely has nothing to do with the quality of their songs. In fact, automatic finalists Germany, Spain, and the UK were rock bottom in last year's rankings, with the UK getting a coveted (?) 0 points from televoters and 0 points from the juries for a total of... null.
Will the UK redeem themselves?
Will Germany give a fuck and try to win?
Will Spain produce something neither boring, nor ear-wrenchingly horrible?
Can Italy win twice in a row?
Will France do something worth writing about?
Let's find out!
France - Alvan and Ahez / “Fulenn”
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really loved that. Everything about that.
I am super happy that they are already in the final. I am surprised that this song is in Breton. With a language like this, you think more about different ethnic groups and languages native to France.
This song would be dope without translation, but with the translation it's everything that's amazing about songwriting. I think the song is brilliant. All in all, it just makes me feel super good. I love it!
I am thrilled that this was France's entry!
It feels a lot like an early '10s club banger with some cool instrumentation here & there. Maybe a tad overdone, but who's not to love some dancing with the devil.
Steve's Ranking: Solid
Chelsea's Ranking: Could France be a winner with a song about the devil?
Germany - Malik Harris / “Rockstars”
So Malik looks like he's about 20, and he's singing about wanting to go back to that time in the past when “we used to be the rockstars.”
Is he nostalgic for being 15, or something?
You know Aaron Carter? That guy peaked when he was 11.
This song sounds like something that someone could play at a middle school graduation, but like a song that even the most tasteless of soccer moms would help boo off the P.A. system.
In its favor are two things: 1) the rap breakdown, which is just so overly emotional for no reason -- I love it, and 2) the fact that the beat has a lil bit of a bounciness to it, which really makes it a lot better.
Steve, what bouncy beat?! And, also there is nothing that makes this song better. I wish I could have turned this off the second it came on. And I would not be disappointed if I never heard the “overly emotional rap breakdown."
Okay, maybe it's not bouncy. I just think they picked a good kick drum sound.
Steve's Ranking: I wish I could go back to when I had never heard this
Chelsea's Ranking: It's songs like these that are worth breaking Steve's rule about listening all the way through for
Italy - Mahmood and Blanco / “Brividi”
Right off the bat, it's worth pointing out that Italy has been here before. 2019's "Soldi" was an absolute standout, and would have been a well-deserved Eurovision winner. He absolutley brought it with a passionate peformance too.
(Incidenally, I would have much preferred an Italy victory in 2019 and a Netherlands victory in 2021, but that's just me.)
I don't think they'll hit those heights this year, but my expectations are still pretty damn high.
Italy should definitely win two years in a row.
I feel like this song and Portugal's are tied for songs that could definitely get my tearducts flowin'.
I really enjoy that it's in Italian, and I think that it makes it a lot more emotional.
It makes me happy to hear Mahmood's voice again, and I love the harmonies. The chorus struck me as a tad grating at first impression, but it grew on me.
Overall, this is a really heartfelt number, and a beautiful duet, and I am happy to see it in the final.
Steve's Ranking: I appreciate it
Chelsea's Ranking: Stannable
Spain - Chanel / “SloMo”
Never have I ever heard of anyone propositioning someone by inviting that someone to film the propositioner's hypnotic booty shake in slow motion for later careful inspection.
Also, how I get how Chanel is breaking hearts, but hips!?
Maybe she's breaking the hips of all the other ladies who try to dance like her, and can't.
Well, I think it's a better Spanish dance song than Romania's (no surprise.)
I find it neither boring, nor unpleasant, but it's definitely a little off. But, I'm too hypnotized by the booty to say much else.
Overall, it's fine. Don't hate it. It's not memorable in any respect.
I did enjoy her outfit at the beginning, but I wish that she didn't rip it away.
Oh, so you didn't find the hook “booty hypnotic” memorable? It's all I can find to talk about.
Steve's Ranking: Not hypnotized enough to like this song
Chelsea's Ranking: If I was supposed to be hypnotized I want my money back
United Kingdom - Sam Ryder / “SPACE MAN”
Sam imagines himself as a lonely astronaut, wanting nothing more than to return to a forelorn lover.
I can only hope that said forelorn lover is someone like Brooke, who scoffs at him and awards him 0 points for his Eurovision entry, continuing the UK's streak at the bottom.
This is less bland than Michael Rice, but having long hair doesn't make the song better. I wish it did, but it doesn't.
This is so funny! It's like you read my mind.
However, having long hair can make the song better. I have proof. It happened to me while listening to this song.
At first, I was thinking to myself, alright, the only thing this song has going for it is that this guy has lucious, golden locks and isn't half bad to look at. And I felt this way for, I would say, about half of the song. But then it was as if Chanel's hypnotizing powers were actually bestowed upon Sam.
By the end of this song, I'm thinking it's actually not half bad. I actually kind of dig it.
But also, it does kind of feel like a space man has come down and infiltrated my mind. I'm feeling very confused.
Steve's Ranking: Throw it out an airlock with no space suit
Chelsea's Ranking: Still up in the air about this one
So, with all that said & done, how do we feel about the songs?
I would be absolutely thrilled to see Serbia win Eurovision in 2022. I would be stoked if it were Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, or Italy.
I would gladly, gladly never listen to Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, San Marino, Switzerland ever again.
What would your tops & bottoms be?
My tops are Portugal, Moldova, Iceland, Ukraine and France.
Maro is hands down the best in general. I could listen to her stuff all the time. Moldova's is so, so great, and I just really love Iceland's too.
My least faves are Bulgaria, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, and San Marino. But also, Greece ain't that great.
I'm so surprised that a ballad is my fave.
I'm shocked by that too, but she does have such an intoxicating voice.
I'm happy to see that we're so aligned in hatred for Bulgaria, Switzerland, Germany and San Marino, but Greece is an absolutely acceptable entry, and one that I will make sure to bop in the car at some point... y'know for the purpose of delighting any riders I might have.
I mean, who doesn't want to have their driver put on a song about how we should “Die Together.”
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these 5 similar posts:
- 2021-03-16 —Eurovision 2021: First Impressions
- 2020-03-13 —Eurovision 2020: First Impressions
- 2021-05-04 —Eurovision 2020 vs. 2021: Battle of the Songs
- 2021-05-22 —Eurovision 2021: Live Blog
- 2020-08-30 —Island: Years of Anticipation and a Review of Music