EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2018 PREVIEW (2ND SEMIFINAL, 2ND HALF)

GEORGIA:  “For You” – Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao.  I don’t know why they have to tack in the label “Ethno-Jazz Band” to their band name–is there a brand conflict with another Georgian entity?  Isn’t “Iriao” unique enough?  Anyway, the solemn male harmonies and the ethnic elements of this song garnered positive notices that this is becoming a possible spoiler choice that if enough jury support comes in it might usurp some presumed shoo-ins in this group.

POLAND:  “Light Me Up” – Gromee featuring Lukas Meijer.  This contemporary electro-dance number is probably my favorite Eurovision entry from this country.  It’s an engaging, likable track, and its instrumental hook never fails to make me do the geek shimmy.  Just like most Polish entries, this is unlikely going to win jury votes, but it will score high in the televote.

MALTA:  “Taboo” – Christabelle.  Though many would quibble with some abrupt shifts between verse, refrain, and chorus, it’s a good entry for this country, way better than that sentimental sap they sent last year.  The expected dystopian staging will likely make an impression, and this could be a possible spoiler choice for the finals.

HUNGARY:  “Viszlat nyár [Goodbye, summer]” – AWS.  There had been rock entries in this contest over the year, but none as hard as this act, as this is a post-metalcore or post-hardcore band with a very abrasive sound.  The song is about a son’s grief and reflecting his father’s words at his deathbed, with the verses featuring the father’s parting words and the chorus the son’s reaction to the loss.  The hard sound is polarizing, but there are many rallying behind this that this looks like a likely finalist.

But there is also another secret weapon to this act’s arsenal:  it turns out this band has a host of great looking guys that can  make the girls swoon.  First, let’s start with the lead singer, Õrs Siklosi.  Underneath all the primal screaming and the floppy hair obscuring his face, he has angles where he looks like a young Leonardo DiCaprio, and there are other angles where he resembles Twilight superstar Robert Pattinson.  Plus, his voice could make people recall the late Chester Benington of Linkin Park, so there might be some voters who were fans of that band voting for this act.

Leonardo di Caprio in Romeo + Juliet (1995)
Robert Pattinson

As the band joined the pre-party circuit, we then discover other charmers from this band.  For instance, the cool, deadpan bassist, Soma Schizier–besides amusing people with his laconic wit, he looks like a cross between This is Us star Milo Ventmiglia and the original movie Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire.

Soma’s lookalikes: L – Tobey Maguire and R – Milo Vent miglia

Sure, most fans would go for the plethora of boyish dreamboats in this contest (including Örs above) but for people hunkering for someone manlier, with the slim pickings this year, I will give the Eurovision Hunk award to the drummer, Aron Veress.  And he gets even more appealing the more you get to know him–with his relatively strong command of English he ends up being the band’s main spokesperson, and he has a funny, outgoing, gregarious personality that makes him even more lovable.  It’s so interesting he’s the hunkiest guy in this year’s Eurovision, when there were even hunkier choices from the A Dal final–let’s just say there was a deep bench in that national final.

The hunk of Eurovison 2018: Aron Veress

Admittedly, the focus of my discussion for this band was mainly about how boy-crazy I am about three of its members.  For those who want to talk about serious musical theory and  even some Hungarian politics, let me defer that to Overthinking it.

LATVIA:  “Funny Girl” – Laura Rizzotto.  Besides her strong, near flawless live vocals, I think a key factor why this won Latvia’s national final is that Laura can speak Portuguese, as even if she has an Italian surname (that sounds like a classic Italian rice dish) she is actually half-Brazilian half-Latvian.  Her entry is a sultry quality entry that many people compared to The Weeknd‘s smash hit from Fifty Shades of Grey, “Worth It“, but the rhythms of the song also reminded me of Alicia Keys‘ classic ballad, “If I Ain’t Got You“.  Because of that, I found it coincidental that not only she and Franka are noted for wearing red gowns, they are also noted for songs whose rhythms seemed influenced by Alicia Keys’ hits.  Now, if I had my way, I would want her to be made up like in her music video, where she sported clown eye makeup, but knowing what happened to Triana Park last year, that look would’ve scared or repulsed the public so she’ll probably play safe and take the pretty, sultry route, instead.

SWEDEN:  “Dance You Off” – Benjamin Ingrosso.  Justin Timberlake may have wanted to veer away from his trademark R&B sound with his latest album, Man of the Woods, but there are artists like Benjamin Ingrosso who are keeping his trademark sound alive, like this number.  Though I don’t bet on this winning and sustaining Sweden’s recent three-year cycle, it will perform strongly in the finals.  A final note–I noticed Benjamin looks like a young, circa-1995 Enrique Iglesias.

Enrique Iglesias circa 1995

MONTENEGRO:  “Inje [Frost]” – Vanja Radovanović.  This traditional Balkan ballad is not highly regarded among Eurovison fans, who tend to rank this at the bottom, but we have to take note he has been receiving positive notices in his live performances in the preview party circuit.  Moreover, there is the support of Serbia and possibly Slovenia to shore up its fortunes.  This could be a possible upset surprise.  Piquant note:  Vanja for me looks like famous hip-hop dancer Philip Chbeeb, who was prominently featured in the video for Ed Sheeran’s 2014 hit song “Don’t“.  Wonder how are Vanja’s dance skills?

SLOVENIA:  “Hvala, ne! [Thanks, no!]” – Lea Sirk.  The trap-infused drop from the pre-chorus turned off a lot of Eurovision fans and pundits, but for me, that’s actually the best part of this song.  I’m one of those who loves this polarizing trap-based EDM number as I dig its empowerment message.  This is one of my favorite songs this year, even if it looks like its prospects for advancing to the final are dimming.  I’m rooting for this entry to pull off a miracle.

UKRAINE:  “Under the Ladder” – Mélovin.  This driving, rhythmic rock song reminds me a bit of the Killers‘ 2003 hit “Mr. Brightside“.  There are many fans who quibble about Melovin’s diction, but well, remember Freddie‘s “Pioneer” two years ago?  Sometimes a driving rhythm can make people ignore diction issues.  Besides the advantage of being the show closer, the dreamy boyish appeal of Mélovin, his strong vocals and his showmanship would guarantee this entry would be a finals shoo-in, with a possible play for the Top 10.

Now that the 2nd Semifinal is all accounted for, here’s my prediction on who would advance to the final.

TOP TEN:  NORWAY, DENMARK, RUSSIA, MOLDOVA, NETHERLANDS, AUSTRALIA, POLAND, HUNGARY, SWEDEN, UKRAINE

BUBBLING UNDER:  SERBIA, MALTA, LATVIA, MONTENEGRO, SLOVENIA

COMING UP:  THE AUTOMATIC FINALISTS

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