Song Reviews – FYR Macedonia and Poland

Posted: 14/4/2006 in:

Song: Ninananja
Artist: Elena Risteska
It could be argued that nobody has benefitted from the introduction of the semi-final more than the Macedonians have – so far they have a 100% record of qualifying for the final from the semi, even though they have yet to field a song which truly deserves that all-important spot. Tose Proeski made more of an impact in 2004 for his beribboned backdrop than his song while Martin Vucic’s ethnic disco tune Make My Day was overshadowed somewhat by his pink jacket last year. True to form, just as FYR Macedonia seem to slip through to the final with no problems, they seem to slip back into the semi just as easily. This year, however, they’ve actually come up with a song which is worthy of the final – and even though we’re not convinced that it’s going to be the one to bring the contest to Skopje for the first time, it’s certainly a big improvement on previous years. While Ninananja (this year’s contender for the silliest title, it has to be said) feels a tad derivative of last year’s Greek winner, and owes more than a debt to J-Lo, it’s a catchy and ultra-contemporary little number which uses ethnopop to enhance the song rather than allowing it to dominate completely. OK, so it’s not without its cringe-making moments (the lyrics for example – what does ‘if you want to Ninananja with me’ mean exactly??) but if you can overlook that the result is probably one of the best entries ever from the Eurovision nation with the prettiest flag – and one which might finally qualify on its own merits rather than relying on the kindness of neighbours.
For It: It’s not bad at all – modern, sexy and a lot better than we’ve come to expect from the Macedonians. Like the Slovenians, it seems they’ve made a real effort this year. And its position slap-bang in the middle of the running order could give it a boost too.
Against It: Not the most original of entries – especially given the ethnopop glut of recent years – and we’re still waiting to see if Elena can cut it live. It’s a very likely qualifier anyway simple because of FYR Macedonia’s habit of making it through – but since nothing in this contest is certain they should beware of complacency.

Song: Follow My Heart
Artist: Ich Troje
Remember this lot? If you don’t you probably weren’t paying enough attention to the 2003 contest, because the lead singer’s bright scarlet locks and weird throaty voice (the sort most people might end up with after suffering from a chesty cough) were permanently etched on Team Eurovision’s collective memory after that contest – the fact they managed to finish a very creditable 7th with the dirge-like ballad No Borders also left them lingering in our minds. Anyway, whether you remember them or not they’re back for another go this year – with the scarlet-headed, throaty-voiced one present and correct once more. Now, our biggest Eurovision disappointment in 2005 was the fact that Polish entrants Ivan and Delfin missed out on a place in the final by just four points with their insane gypsy-themed effort Czarna Dciewczyna – so part of us would love to see them do well this year, just to make up for missing out last year. The problem is, we’re not sure what to make of their 2006 effort – for while there’s definitely a good song hidden somewhere here, Follow My Heart feels like a bit of a mish-mash – lots of different musical styles all thrown together in a big heap – and we just can’t decide whether we like it or not. It’s all held together by a rap from German performer The Real McCoy – which is interspersed between the song itself – but there’s something very shambolic about the whole thing. The chorus is actually quite catchy but the rap sits uneasily alongside it – and by the time it all finally pulls together and hits its stride the song is practically over, leaving us wanting. For us this is one of those ones that could go one way or the other – we like it a lot more than we did when we first heard it, and certainly think it’s got the potential to do rather well, depending on performance – but similarly, its offbeat nature may do it no favours on the night. And of course if it does make it through, we certainly don’t want to see it being performed anywhere near the UK entry.
For It: It’s certainly different, and if the band keep the original format of the national final performance – in which they perform most of the song in Polish before lapsing into English for the final chorus – they could be on to a good thing.
Against It: This is going to be one of those songs that people either love or hate – which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Also, being squashed in between likely qualifiers FYR Macedonia and Russia isn’t necessarily the best place to be. We’re staying on the fence with this one since we really can’t decide which way it’s going to go.

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