Second Impressions…

Posted: 22/2/2006 in:

When clips of the UK’s Eurovision hopefuls first surfaced on the BBC website, we were a little disappointed to discover that we could only listen to 30 seconds of each song.

But no sooner had we discovered that Antony Costa and Kym Marsh will be among those making their bid for Athens on March 4, than we came across a place where we could indeed hear all six songs in full. Thanks to we’ve now had the chance to listen to the songs, and we don’t mind admitting it’s changed our perceptions a little bit. Here’s what we reckon on first full hearing:

Antony Costa – Beautiful Thing
Likeable and catchy with a memorable chorus, although as we suspected after hearing the first clip, the verses don’t really stick in the mind on first listen.
For It: Sweet and inoffensive can sometimes work wonders on the Eurovision stage (remember Latvia in 2005?). And the fact that Blue were big in Europe could well win Antony a few Eurovision-viewing fans across the continent.
Against It: Might be a bit too bland to really stand out – and his ability as a charismatic live singer has yet to be proven. We weren’t impressed with his singing skills in the jungle – but then again he won’t be attempting to sing during Making Your Mind Up while being pelted with a stream of cockroaches. We’ll reserve judgment until the night.
What It Sounds Like: Jason Donovan circa 1991.

Kym Marsh – Whisper To Me
This is the standout big ballad, and after listening to the entire track our opinion hasn’t changed – we still reckon it’s a solid effort and a genuine contender.
For It: The UK did very well last time it entered a female singer with a ballad, and Kym does have proven singing ability.
Against It: We might have done well with a ballad, but when was the last time one actually won Eurovision? And with very little scope for the visually exciting stage show which has become a staple of the contest, this would have to rely even more on a strong vocal to carry it through.
What It Sounds Like: A slowed-down version of Hold On by Wilson Phillips

Goran Kay – Play Your Game
We weren’t very impressed by the short clip we heard but were taken by surprised by the full version of this track. As the only really uptempo effort it really stands out from the pack – but does it actually sound like it would be at home on a Eurovision stage?
For It: Uptempo songs are in favour at Eurovision at the moment if the winners of the last few years are anything to go by. Flashy stage show could be a distinct possibility too
Against It: Goran is very much an untapped talent – we don’t yet know if he can even sing in tune in his own shower, never mind perform in front of a huge audience and millions of TV viewers.
What It Sounds Like: Jamiroquai crossed with Bosnia’s 2004 effort In The Disco. Then again, that didn’t do so badly…

Four Story – Hand On My Heart
Our least favourite of the pack, simply because it sounds like a million other boyband tracks – it’s sung nicely but just ambles along without really going anywhere.
For It: There’s potential for it to come across well live, depending on whether the boys can handle those harmonies.
Against It: Made very little impression on us, so we can only assume it would have the same effect on Eurovision viewers. Sounds distinctly like the kind of mid-show track that Team Eurovision uses as an opportunity to have a toilet break or stock up on munchies.
What It Sounds Like: Blue meets N*Sync meets Backstreet Boys meets Boyzone meets – oh, you get the idea.

Daz Sampson – Teenage Life
The oddity of the bunch, as we’ve said, and our opinion hasn’t changed from hearing it in full. The only difference now is that against our better judgment, we’re starting to quite like it – at least it’s a bit more distinct and, dare we say, it, contemporary than some of the ballads.
For It: It’s such a radical departure from anything the UK has entered in recent years that it might just work in our favour if this went to Athens – it strikes us as the kind of track that will either sink without trace or do really, really well. Of all the entries it also has the most potential for some flashy stage antics – and given it’s a rap, we don’t have to worry about whether or not Daz can sing live….
Against It: Three words – Love City Groove. That was the UK’s last attempt at sending a rap song to Eurovision and that didn’t bring the contest triumphantly home to Blighty (although admittedly it did finish in the top 10 – just about). In fact, rap’s never been that popular at the contest, if recent efforts by Denmark and Ukraine are anything to go by. True, it could do very well, but we could be looking at another disastrous result if the viewers don’t buy into it. So why is it that certain members of Team Eurovision are being plagued by images of it on the Athens stage – while they can’t picture any of the other entries up there? We’re confused…
What It Sounds Like: Last year’s Ukrainian effort Razom Nas Bohato. Minus the shouting.

City Chix – All About You
Our early favourite, we’re still rooting for this one now we’ve heard the whole thing. Looking forward to seeing it on the night though.
For It: Upbeat and fun without being silly or over-the-top, while the promised bagpipes on the live version will most likely add a touch of quirkiness without actually turning it into a novelty song.
Against It: Once again, we don’t know if they can cut it live – and while the Scottish vote may be guaranteed, the fact the Chix are relatively unknown south of the border (or anywhere else in Europe for that matter) might be a disadvantage.
What It Sounds Like: The Corrs crossed with any number of Estonian efforts from the early part of the decade. This does not, of course, include Everybody.

Veterans angling for Athens glory

Posted: 17/2/2006 in:

At last year’s contest in Kiev, Chiara, winner Helena Paparizou and Selma were among the singers who decided to have another crack at Eurovision, with mixed results.

As Athens fast approaches, we could see some more competitors who have some pretty formidable Eurovision form.

One singer who’s already in the frame for the 51st contest is Anna Vissi, who will be doing the honours for the host country. A delve in the Eurovision archives reveal that she represented Greece back in 1980 and then finished fifth for Cyprus two years later.

But a star with near-legendary Eurovision credentials is in the frame to make a grand comeback in 2006, causing the biggest ripple of excitement amongst song contest fans.

Greek-born Vicky Leandros, who scored a memorable win in 1972 for Luxembourg with Apres Toi, is bidding to represent Germany, a country desperate for a shot in the arm after finishing last in 2005.

The 56-year-old’s power ballad Don’t Break My Heart is a reminder of old-school Eurovision before it was all stagey dance routines and svelte costumes.

For a performer who first competed in the 1967 contest, this would be an impressive comeback - but she has to win the German national final first.

Swedish singer Carola is another former winner who wants to do it for a third time, 15 years after she squeaked to victory over France with Captured By A Love Storm.

Winning the country’s mighty Melodifestivalen competition is no mean feat, but she is regarded as the favourite to win a berth for the qualifying round on 18 May.
If they get to Athens, it will be intriguing to see what these seasoned pros will make of 21st century Eurovision, and how popular voting will treat them.

The UK Makes Up Its Mind

Posted: in:

After weeks of rumour and speculation, the artists who’ll be competing in this year’s Making Your Mind Up have been revealed – and there isn’t a Scott-Lee or Chico in sight! The six artists – and songs – who’ll be competing for the chance to represent the UK at Eurovision 2006 are as follows:

Antony Costa – Beautiful Thing
City Chix – All About You
Daz Sampson – Teenage Life
Four Story – Hand On My Heart
Goran Kay – Play Your Game
Kym Marsh – Whisper To Me

In other words, the line-up is a mix of established artists – including ex Blue man-turned jungle celebrity Antony Costa and former Hear’Say star Kym Marsh – alongside relative newcomers Goran Kay and boyband Four Story. Completing the sextet are Daz Simpson, who’s scored UK chart hits with the bands Bus Stop and Uniting Nations, and City Chix, a duo featuring two stars of the BBC Scotland soap River City.

And our first impressions? Well, based on the 30-second clips we’ve heard on the BBC website it seems that we’re playing it very safe this year – no sign of any of the middle-eastern influences or faux operatics of 2005’s Making Your Mind Up. Instead, we have a bunch of ballads and mid-tempo efforts, with only Goran offering something a bit more upbeat. Although it’s hard to tell from such a short clip, these are our initial thoughts:

Antony Costa: Pleasant enough but a bit forgettable. A possible contender, depending on how he performs on the night.

Daz Sampson: The genuine oddity of the bunch, reminding us of Ukraine’s 2005 rap effort, only with a children’s choir thrown in. Downright bizarre, to the point that it’ll either crash and burn or go all the way – but surely the kiddie backing band might be a problem, given we were under the impression you had to be over 16 to take part in Eurovision?

Four Story: If they can pull it off, this ballad could sound really good on stage, but the song itself is a little bland, meaning they’re going to have to work much harder to make it stand out.

Goran Kay: The fact it’s the only uptempo number of the bunch may give it more of a chance – but it just doesn’t sound very Eurovision friendly to us. Once again, we’ll have to wait and see how it comes across on the night.

Kym Marsh: We weren’t expecting great things from this but were pleasantly surprised – it’s a decent enough ballad, which could well nab top honours if she gives a good performance.

City Chix: This seems to be an early favourite among Eurovision fans, and to be honest we’d have to agree. Not only is it catchy and likeable, but apparently it features bagpipes, giving it more of a distinctive twist without being gimmicky. Provided the Chix can deliver on the night, and provided the British public sees fit to vote on the basis of the song, rather than just going for an artist they’ve heard of, this could be the one to beat.

Whatever happens, we’ll find out on March 4….

Eight Down, 30 To Go….

Posted: 15/2/2006 in:

There’s still a few months to go, but this year’s Eurovision line-up is already starting to take shape, with a number of countries having chosen their song. Here’s a round-up of the entries so far:

Albania: Luiz Ejili – Zjarr e Ftohte (Fire and Cold)

Armenia: Andre – Without Your Love (not Stay With Me as was widely reported a few weeks back)

Denmark: Sidsel Ben Semmane – Twist Of Love

Estonia: Sandra Oxenryd – Through My Window

Norway: Christine Gulbrandsen - Alvedansen

Poland: Ich Troje – Follow My Heart

Slovenia: Anzej Dezan – Mr Nobody

Switzerland: Six 4 One – If We All Give A Little

Elsewhere, Ireland will be represented by Brian Kennedy (who recently scored a top five hit in the UK charts with his George Best Tribute), while Sibel Tuzen will sing for Turkey. However their songs have yet to be confirmed.

And once again Eurovision Blog will be reviewing and rating all 38 entries as the date of the contest draws closer. We’ll keep you posted….