ESC 2013: 2nd Semi-Final – The Songs
Less than a month, the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 (which will be held this year in Malmö, Sweden) is going to start with the 1st Semi-Final on Tuesday, 14th May 2013. Continuing my opinion about the ESC 2013 songs, let’s go to the 2nd Semi-Final
After trying to represent the country from 2009 to 2012 (2011 not included), PeR finally have the right to go to ESC with “Here we go”, a alternative pop-rap entry with some beatbox elements. Apart from good lyrics in the verses, the rest of the song is quite forgettable, without any redeeming quality to it. Not seeing it in the final at all, but it could suprise if they do a memorable performance
02: SAN MARINO
After last year’s experience with “The Social Network song (oh, oh – uh – oh, oh)”, jazz pop singer Valentina Monetta is back. Again with Ralph Siegel on the helm as the main composer, she will sing “Crisalide (Vola)”, a two-part song that starts as a ballad but goes uptempo after two thirds of the song with lyrics that somehow deal with freedom and renewal. For sure a much better effort than her previous participation, but I still doubt this’ll be San Marino‘s breakthrough year (many think it is, though. We just have to wait and see)
A unlikely duo: folk singer Esma Redžepova and pop-rock singer Vlatko Lozanoski and a unlikely fusion of midtempo pop ballad with uptempo folk sounds is what this country has to offer this year. Titled “Pred da se razdeni” (translated as “Before the dawn/sunrise”), we have a dual fight in the lyrics: Vlatko‘s part gives much concern to a retaliation of love, while Esma‘s part is an invitation to feel her voice and dance along. Simply catchy and at times bouncy with an effective chorus (well, unlike many, I like Esma‘s part more than Vlatko‘s). Chances for Macedonia to do well this year are far from between according to betting odds and fan polls, but they shouldn’t be ruled out just yet
The composer and one of the lyricists of the song aren’t really unknowns to the ESC world: Dimitrios Kontopoulos (composer) had already composed Greece‘s entry in ESC 2009 (“This is our night“, Sakis Rouvas, 7th), while british born singer John Ballard (lyricist) had tried to go to ESC back in… 1984 for Sweden with the song “Rendez vous”. Along with another lyricist, Ralph Charlie Al Fahel, they created the pop ballad “Hold me” and it will be sung by Farid Mammadov, a singer who had been recently in a talent show before being in the Azeri ESC NF 2013. Despite a few musical parts of the song make me cringe a bit, this is actually a very nice ballad with a trustworthy vocal by the singer. This should normally be a lock in qualifiying for the final, but we have to see what will happen live
Bubblegum electro-pop with some ressemblences to the usual Katy Perry pop formula for catchy songs has arrived and it’s all courtesy of Krista Siegfrids (she too a former talent-show contestant for the finnish version of “The Voice”) and her catchy song “Marry me”. It’s quite frantic, isn’t it? A enjoyable fun, nevertheless, in both music and lyrics… but everything will come down to the performance she’ll do vocally and visually if she wants to have a shot at qualifiying for the final
Gianluca Bezzina, formerly working as a doctor, will participate for his country this year with “Tomorrow”, a laid-back mid-tempo country-like entry about love at first sight. It’s not bad, but I’m not really gaga over it: let’s just say it’s not the strongest song of this edition. At first sight, I’d think this doesn’t have the potential to qualify. But then again, Malta did a suprise qualification last year, so anything is possible for Gianluca as well
The year was 2007 and the duo composed of Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov did history as the first artists to have qualified for the final representing their country, Bulgaria, with the drum’n’bass ethnic dance entry “Voda”, reaching a honourable 5th place. 6 years later, they’re back with a song dedicated to the champions around the world: “Samo shampioni”, also an equally drum’n’bass ethnic dance entry. It’s no “Voda”, but it’s equally charming and attractive: I like the overall instrumentation of the song. Will this be the second time Bulgaria qualifies for the final? Only time will tell
For the first time since 1997, Iceland has sent a song in their native language. The responsible for that happening is Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson and a ballad titled “Ég á líf” (translated as “I have a life”), written by the same person who wrote the icelandic entries for 2000 (Telma & August, “Tell me”, 12th), 2008 (Euroband, “This is my life”, 14th) and 2010 (Hera Björk, “Je ne sais quoi”, 19th), Örlygur Smári, and by a backing singer for the icelandic entries of 2000, 2006 (Silvia Night, “Congratulations”, 13th in the semi), 2008, 2010 and 2012 (Greta Salóme & Jonsí, “Never forget”, 20th), Pétur Örn Guðmundsson. Really emotional and touching in a way, the lyrics turn out to be really the strength of the song. Will it be enough, though, to qualify for the final?
When you attach a ska-rock band like Koza Mostra (who, before ESC, had only a few singles on their output) and a veteran “rebetiko” folk singer and instrumentalist like Agathonas Iakovidis (who had started his carrer as far as 1971) for a duet, you just get the notion that something intriguing has been created out of this: “Alcohol is free”. Contagious, rememorable and fun are just a few of many words I’d say to this joyful entry that makes us think of Greece itself. Like Azerbaijan, this normally should be a lock for one more participation in the final: well, their record of passing through the final since the semi-final concept was introduced in 2004 is 100%. But anything can happen – will this be the first year without Greece in the final?
After two years without going to the final, all hopes are now on Moran Mazor (fresh from her participation in a recent season of talent show “Kochav nolad”) and on “Rak bishvilo” (translated as “Only for him), a ballad about a young woman that does everything for her lover. So touching, so strong, so powerful… one of the kinds of ballads I like so much and Moran‘s her allmighty voice elevates it to the highest heights. If there’s any justice in the world, this should sail to the final… but only time will tell when it’s performed live in Malmö
The first pure rock entry of the 2013 edition will be performed by one of the most famous current bands of the country, Dorians, and was composed by Tony Iommi, former member of legendary british heavy metal band, Black Sabbath: “Lonely planet”. A very solid and emotional entry with some good thoughts into the lyrics… quite risky, though. Will Armenia qualify for the final with a song of its kind?
ByeAlex (aka. Alex Márta) introduces us to the world of indie music this year in a smoothy pop way as his own song, “Kedvesem” (translated as “My darling”), tells the story of a girl he loves. I’d say the musicality of the song is so calm and quite refreshing (in any moment you’d do meditation or “yoga”, this would certainly be the song to play). However, it needs something more special to stand out and, as it is now, I don’t think it will qualify for the final… though we don’t know for sure how will be the results of the televoting and the jury for this one, so keep an eye on this one too
A favourite in the betting odds and in the ESC fan polls, Margaret Berger (who started her carrer in the norwegian version of “Idol” back in 2004) is defending her country with a song in her usual electro-pop style, “I feed you my love”. Totally my cup of tea: original, mystic, dark and a momentaneous piece of art. This could be a lock to qualify for the final, but will it do well in the final as it’s expected to happen? We’ll find out when that day comes…
The last pure rock song of the contest comes from a duo put together especially for the contest. Adrian Lulgjuraj (formerly a participant in the albanian version of “The Voice”) and Bledar Sejko (a seasoned singer that had started his carrer in the late 80′s. He’s no stranger to ESC as well: he was one of the backing singers for Aurela Gace back in 2011 when she performed “Feel the passion” (she didn’t qualify for the final then: 14th in the 1st Semi-Final) are defending “Identitet” (translated as “Identity”), a song Bledar composed and which triggers an usual issue for the time being: the search for a person’s identity on its homeland. In a way, a good and solid rock entry and yet not totally powerful apart from the chorus. One curious thing about Albania in ESC: so far, all the artists that went to the final were female (except Aurela Gace that didn’t qualify back in 2011) while the only times they did send a predominant male artist (2006 (Luiz Eliji) and 2007 (Fredrik Ndoci), they failed to qualify. Will Adrian and Bledar be the first male artists (in this case, also a duo) to qualify for the final in the name of Albania?
Thomas G:son strikes again (this is his 8th participation in ESC. And this coming after last year’s victory for Sweden with “Euphoria”, sung by Loreen). And this time (with the help of Erik Bernholm, the same person that helped G:son with the composition of the danish entry from 2010 (Chanée & N’Evergreen, “In a moment like this”, 4th) and the spanish entry from 2012 (Pastora Soler, “Quédate conmigo”, 10th), the chosen country is Georgia. For this occasion, the duo composed of former talent show singer, Nodi Tatishvili and folk singer, Sopho Gelovani, will sing “Waterfall”, a ballad mostly about endless love. Not totally original, but it isn’t devoid of power and emotion on both music, lyrics and vocals. Probably the second song of this semi-final that might surely be a lock for a qualification in the final… but, then again, suprises could happen
Takasa aka. “The artists formerly known as Heilsarmee” make their way for “You and me”, a anthemic pop-rock entry about a love relationship in a “together united we stand” type of story. The song is too formulaic and quite oldfashioned in a bad sense for my taste, but I must say that chorus is really catchy (and its musicality seems quite familiar to me). Despite a good draw, I wonder if Switzerland will qualify with this type of song
Cezar, a countertenor opera singer, gives his appearance to the ESC circles to sing “It’s my life”, a crossover-opera dance song written by the same responsible for the romanian entry of 2005 (Luminiţa Anghel & Sistem, “Let me try”, 3rd), Cristian Faur. In my opinion, it’s not as bad as many ESC fans tend to believe it so (it’s catchy and well produced. I hope, though, he won’t overdo his vocals that much during the perfomance), but there has been better songs of that type and it’s not really one of Romania‘s finest songs ever at ESC. I thought, at the first sight, that this year would be Romania‘s first non qualification for the final since mostly due to the fact that it’s (according to the betting odds and polls) a contender to be in the bottom-3, but given the great draw they have and the fact that they are stil one of the few countries since the semi-final concept was established in 2004 to have a 100% rating of qualification for the final, I’d say now this one shouldn’t be ruled out as of yet
The last post concerning ESC 2013‘s songs is going to be about the finalists… so, watch out for that one as well