Phew… after the excitement of last night’s Melodifestivalen final, I need to keep my focus in getting these national finals done. Eurovision is barely 2 months away now, and the deadline for selecting songs is very close. Once the official versions are available, I’ll start with my reviews of the competing songs … it’s a long road to Malmö still.
Ukraine had the biggest national final this year, with a mammoth 20 entries to choose from (dear God, please have semi-finals next time!), so I’ve been putting this review off. Indeed this isn’t exactly fresh news, Ukraine’s was the last of the 2012 selection events. They have good form at Eurovision; debuting in 2003, they have never missed a final. Out of 10 entries, half of them finished in the top 10, including Ruslana’s win with “Wild Dances” in 2004. Only a brave person would count them out, but will this year be a big success?
Matvey Vermiyenko – Otkryvay menya
Last place in a 20-strong Ukrainian national final, how bad can this be? HOLY HELL. This guy wants a bit of the Lady Gaga wardrobe, with rather… futuristic styling choices.
That cheap-ass pop dance rhythm isn’t quite so futuristic, and while his vocals are half-decent most of the time, this is a bit of a car crash.
Angeliya – Love Is Life
That’s a lovely thick head of hair. And a lovely dancepop bit of nonsense. It’s a bit depressing, not sure why, the minor key probably doesn’t help. It’s a fairly well put-together performance, just her voice isn’t that strong. Are all these songs going to climax with sparkler fountains?
It’s OK but nothing to write home about.
Marietta – Wonder
OK let’s stop trying to keep up with Loreen, let’s have a ballad. Not sure I’ve seen tea-light pots on a candelabra before, is that a health & safety thing?
Anyway, it all starts off mysteriously enough with a hooded siren singing a pretty downtempo and unexciting ballad. Her vocals are alright again, but there’s something a bit shrill that I don’t like. The chorus is fine, this just doesn’t do much to excite me at all.
Triniti – Belym Po Belomu
The audience look bored as hell. Here’s a bevy of Ukrainian beauties though, three heads must be better than one right? Well they look like an intriguing trio, but their harmonies really don’t work.
They at least seem a bit better choregraphed than some of the entries so far, but that last minute really is quite painful vocally. It could have worked, but it just didn’t really.
Dmytro Skalozubov – Davno
If only I knew Ukrainian, this would probably make a lot more sense. His hands are tied up with rope, and the first verse involves him chewing through his restraints. I’m sure it’s symbolism or something.
Unfortunately his new-found freedom allows him to do some rather unfortunate dance moves. Still, all this distracts from the rather rubbishy midtempo electropop number. His voice really doesn’t have much about it, he sounds alright, the song just doesn’t test the vocals at all. Maybe they should’ve gagged him too.
Ana Stesia – Dare To Change
I was so hoping this would be a boring ballad, so I could quip “More like Anathaesia!!”. It seems to be lucky day, as this seems like a fitting observation. Maybe that’s a bit mean, her vocals are one the strongest so far, even if her accent kept making me forget she was singing in English at some points.
It’s well-sung, and she seems like a more natural performer than some. But the song is a bit of a shouty self-help anthem of the sub-Xtina variety. It’s decent but not a winner.
Inesh – Delayu Shag
Delayu Shag? Goodness, that wouldn’t translate! What an intriguing character, some very severe Eastern European makeup going here. This is a bit more up my street (did the just steal a load of Tron Legacy footage in the backdrop??), with a pretty professional-sounding electropop effort.
She can hit the notes, and the stage performance looks like the real deal. OK the lack of melody might be covered up by the production, but it’s the first half-decent one I’ve seen so far.
Gvozdivchanka – Naleteli Gusenyata
Oh Christ … did someone watch the Russian grannies in Baku, by any chance? Apparently the Gvozdivchanka gals did, and thought “Let’s just do that”.
Well not quite, the Russian Babushki had a tacky Eurotrash backing to add that crucial kitsch value. These really don’t, they are screeching just some traditional folk music. It only lasts a minute and a half too, what’s going on!?
Duet Emotion – Saviour
This sounds like a cool name, it’s BOUND to be amazing. After an exploding backdrop, on comes a floppy-haired teen to sing below his lower register. Wait, he’s singing in English?? I guess they just got hair straighteners in Ukraine. Oh, it’s a boyband! You know, the kind with guitars and angst.
The chorus is half decent, but those verses really are flat as a pancake. I can feel a slight improvement in quality as I move through this final, but we still aren’t quite there yet. Pretty guy, and surprisingly quite a contemporary song, but it wasn’t to be.
Olena Korneva – You’ll Be The Winner Forever
We’re in the top half of the entries now, and an optimistically titled track. Once it gets going it’s quite nice, it’s got a nice chunky electro-tinged chorus. Olena’s got a pretty powerful voice too for those big notes. It gets a bit creaky for the more low-key verses, but generally she does a good job.
I’ve heard worse, even if the song itself is a bit of a cheesy upbeat affair. I can hear it already in the underground gay bars of Odessa, it’s a Ukranian “Born This Way”.
RealIvanna – You Gave Me Everything
Real Ivanna? She sounds like a Twitter username… anyway, after a low key first verse with talk of crucifixion and some earrings that look like big Chewits, she hits the first chorus.
She’s got some power there, and is certainly a confident performer. But this song is a bit of an OTT shout-a-thon. That last chorus is pretty good, but something isn’t quite working for me on this one.
DiO.filmy – Medlyak
Another fresh-faced male duo, how’s this one going to pan out? Not sure about the dance routine, it’s a bit Supremes isn’t it? The song itself reminds me oddly of “Sunshine in the rain” by BWO, though it really doesn’t benefit from the comparison.
Their voices just don’t really go well together, and those dance routines really are horrific, is it supposed to be ironic or something? The short-haired guy’s voice totally swamps the other guy, and it’s not even that good. Catchy but a bit of a din.
Dmytro Yaremchuk – Mamo
What a weird entrance, were there technical problems there? What is going on?! I had to link that video at the bottom, even if this song is rubbish. Which is a shame as it probably will be, judging by the start and his terrible perm.
Mamo means mother, incidentally, and he comes equipped with a slideshow of audience-baiting babies. This is so dated. His voice is half decent, but it’s just a bit of a downer with a tacky sentimental premise. Not really worth the wait, sadly, even if the last minute is pretty solid.
Alina Grosu – Let Go
Oh more dance music, let’s have it then. Love that 90s dance beat. Did she forget where she was in the song just then?
Her voice is OK, though she’s heavily supported by a mysterious silhouetted backing singer doing the ad libs. It does hit its stride before the end, the choruses come together into something listenable, but it’s just a bit unoriginal and unexciting.
Maria Yaremchuk – Imagine
Top 5 time, and there’s another ballad on the way. A bit of a distracting backdrop, but she’s got quite a nice voice. Hang on, this just morphed into a midtempo dance track, really helps to get the track out of its rut.
Not really sure what sort of song it’s trying to be, but it’s one of the more competent efforts in the line-up. She’s a really good singer, I just think this wasn’t the right song.
Tetyana Shyrko – Feeling Like A Sir
Feeling like a Sir?! Is this a Ukranian attempt at “If I were a boy”? What the hell is going on with that video screen? After a sweet intro, this bursts into a pretty unexpected power-pop track, like early Atomic Kitten (is that a good thing?).
Her voice is really sweet, but she looks a bit uncomfortable at the start. She really work the second half, and despite a rather hair-raising money note, this is a fairly decent track. That chorus really works for her by the end. Hope she tries again next year.
Eduard Romanyuta – Get Real With My Heart
This sounds like up-to-the-minute slang to use in a pop song. Sadly it’s another hair-straightened minor key drama-pop number that seems to be very popular in that part of the world.
I can’t say I’m really on board with it, his voice is a bit flat and the melody is pretty mundane. It does build up a bit towards the end, but it really wasn’t worth the wait. A bit of a budget Dima Bilan.
Dasha Medova – Don’t Want To Be Alone
The runner-up now, we’re nearly at the end. I’m not sure I quite got my head around the beat of this one until the chorus, it just feels a bit out-of-time. She’s not a very inspiring performer is she, the voice is quite lovely when she has the chance to test it, but seriously what a miserable expression.
OK fair enough she doesn’t want to be alone, but maybe she should try a bit harder. 3 minutes later, she still doesn’t seem to have reached a decent climax, even if she does sing the chorus well.
Zlata Ognevich – Gravity
This better be worth sitting through 20 ropey-at-best Ukranian tracks … here is the winner, taking the Ukranian ticket to Malmö. She’s really beautiful, and her voice is pure and gorgeous.
Not sure about the world music angle from the backing singers, but this really head and shoulders about everything I’ve seen. Thank fuck for that!! She’s got a lot of energy and passion in her performance, I’m really enjoying this. It feels like it’s just climaxing for 3 minutes, very uplifting.
My only criticism is that a lot of dependence is placed on the backing singers, which I think are the weak link here. But they’re re-tooling it for Malmö, so let’s see how it ends up. What a relief, Ukraine came up with the goods again, and I think they should maintain their qualification record with this.