24 March 2018

Qami / Sevak Khanagyan / Armenia | Review

Sevak Khanagyan / Eurovision Armenia / 2018
Do Armenia have the Wind behind them this year? Sevak Khanagyan

Since their Eurovision debut in 2006, Armenia has enjoyed seven Top 10 placings out of ten attempts and is often considered to be long overdue its first - and perhaps justified - triumph. Could Qami (English: Wind) by Sevak Khanagyan be the song to do it in Lisbon? Well, it's a powerful ballad featuring modern production values and performed in its native language by a talented and potent singer.

Flag Armenia
Still, I’m not entirely sure. While the Armenians present an undeniably accomplished product, this entry is certainly not as instantaneous as it should be to win the Contest. As a matter of fact, it took some time before I could recall how it went, even within a few moments of playing it. Several previous strong contenders have also been thwarted by this problem - think Francesco Gabbani with Occidentali's Karma last year - and were largely overlooked by the majority of televoters.

I don’t feel that this song is likely to score too badly though. Like some of its predecessors, it’s practically a shoo-in to end up somewhere in the final Top 10, but I don't think it will be distinct enough to register the required range of national televotes to triumph - even if the juries love it.

Its potential may also depend on the running order this year. If it is featured within the first dozen songs, I have a feeling that people won't remember it when it comes time to choose their favourites. Nevertheless, Armenia usually put a lot of work into their entire presentation - including the visuals - so I'm sure they’ll devise something of note to improve their prospects.

Overall, Armenia have only ever failed to qualify once and there’s little doubt that Qami should make the Grand Final and could easily rank very highly within its own semi-final.

Artist: Sevak Khanagyan
Song: Qami 
Semi-Final 1 | Second Half

21 March 2018

Viszlát nyár / AWS / Hungary | Review

AWS | Eurovision 2018 | Hungary
AWS: Will Eurovision voters embrace Hungary's metal?
Rock and its many sub genres have never been among the most successful styles of music to grace the Eurovision stage. Quite possibly, the competition's archetypal (and most popular) example is Finland's 2006 winner Lordi - but that act probably won more for the accompanying visuals than for the song itself. Consequently, metalcore band AWS is going to have its work cut out when it takes to the stage for Hungary with its powerful, out of control anthem, Viszlát nyár (Goodbye Summer).

Hungary flag
AWS certainly seem to fit the 'angry young man' attitude that defines their modus operandi. Many of their previous videos have used familiar faces interposed with images of violence in order to highlight global problems. The lyrics to Viszlát nyár do not seem to follow this trend, however - apparently relating the woes of a broken heart rather than a broken world, only in an aggressively defiant way. No sugar-coated romance ballad here.

It's satisfying, then, that The Eurovision Song Contest can be open to all kinds of musical expression. Unfortunately, the majority of the audience is not so embracing, particularly when it comes to the less commercial, less melodic forms of rock music. One previous example is Max Jason Mai who represented Slovakia in 2012. Don't Close Your Eyes finished last in its semi-final mainly because most of the voting audience closed their ears.

Personally, this type of music is not my thing either. Then again, I also don’t enjoy many of the boring middle of the road songs that are dished up year on year. Not every entry is ever going to be to my taste, much as those I like will be despised by others.

The problem here is that while AWS will get attention for being musically spectacular, the votes for them will generally come from people professing a sense of musical solidarity. For better or worse, the bulk of voters are likely to ignore them and ultimately Goodbye Summer will turn into Goodbye Eurovision.

Image by MrSilesian (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Artist: AWS
Song: Viszlát nyár 
Semi-Final 2 | Second Half

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