10 May 2015
It’s been a week with the CD now and several full plays. There was a period of a few years in the mid 2000s when the CD was my first full preview of all Eurovision songs and it was quite interesting to then see the artists on stage. Often there would be radical changes of perception of a song, and big surprises as to the physical form of the artist. From a producer hiring a female soloist to a four-girl band, that was Vanilla Ninja for Switzerland in 2005. In 2006, seeing Finland’s Lordi on stage – even being aware they were more than your average metal band – that was crazy. Nowadays it’s the opposite, that the audio can change impressions of a song.
Austria, Australia, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland and Netherlands – there’s a pattern there of songs being quite radio friendly. Most particularly Austria, Cyprus and Germany, which I had rated quite low, had far greater listening appeal. Part of this could have been through listening while working, meaning it’s more subconscious listening rather than direct focus of watching a video or performance. Even walking and listening through earphones, they’re still quite pleasant. The big question is whether it’s enough to permanently leap them higher up my list. The answer is only Germany. There’s a definite appreciation of it now. Whereas Ann Sophie and her “Black Smoke” was in the bottom seven, now she’d be about 20th.
Australia, Ireland and Netherlands were songs already that I quite liked, and the audio just reinforces them. Netherlands particularly I was beginning to waver whether they were really Fab Five material. They are.
Two other songs also managed to gain some or extra appreciation: Moldova and Russia. Moldova just has that instinct kick and gets you bopping with its energy and pace. The repetition towards the end is not felt as much, unlike when watching the video. Now Russia, the song that has been one of the “growers” already, it’s really blossomed. Just listening to it without the distraction of the video and whatever puritanical message it’s trying to convey (I don’t listen to lyrics), it just makes the song so much more enjoyable. As someone that listens very deep into the song, especially the vocals, getting that total aural experience has raised the appreciation of the song almost to the best this year. It doesn’t beat Slovenia at number one – they sound as good as ever. Russia would leap from seventh to now two in the Fab Five.
Greece is the only one that lost something. It’s not enough to demote them from fifth in my Fab Five. Definitely being able to see Maria-Elena perform so passionately does help the song overall. Also, she sounds better live than on the studio recording. The small strains and inflections that I love in her voice, let’s just say that the studio recording is too perfect.
Even songs I don’t like, I’ll always give at least one full listen, or maybe two, and then start deleting them off the phone or skipping them on the CD. Only one song has suffered that fate: Finland. I suspect Armenia will soon follow, then Belgium and Azerbaijan. It depends on my level of tolerance. While the latter two did offer a slight improvement, they are simply songs that will never appeal.
The Countdown Begins
As of tomorrow, the Eurovision Song Contest officially starts with the first rehearsals. I don’t check rehearsals and I urge fans not to bother either. We need some surprises. After the longer than usual lull between the end of national final season and the start of Eurovision proper, there’s almost a craving to see the shows. One thing is certain, that it will be a dramatic year song-wise. Ignore the criticism about the flood of ballads. Many are more mid-tempo songs that start a bit slowly, and many are so dramatic that more often than not the audience will be left on their one last breath.