20 April 2018

O Jardim / Cláudia Pascoal / Portugal | Review

Cláudia Pascoal / Portugal / Eurovision 2018
Can Portugal make it two successive victories?
As Eurovision's musical perspective becomes more and more stagnant, one has to admire Portugal’s perseverance in marching to their own drum, no matter how this is reflected in their final scores. Their entries are always distinctly Portuguese in tone, regardless of their genre.

The breakthrough finally arrived last year with a plaintive, heartfelt ballad which took Salvador Sobral to the top of the scoreboard. Cláudia Pascoal is the singer seeking to repeat the feat for Portugal with a similarly constructed entry called O jardim (The Garden).

The song finds the nation barely shifting gears, rather continuing the wistful, melancholic mood of 2017's winner. Starting quietly, Cláudia pours every ounce of emotion into the song before the beat behind the brooding melody ramps up for a short time, then slows again for a particularly poignant conclusion. Cláudia appears to be a confident singer who sells the entry very well, if the evidence of her Festival da Canção performance is anything to go by.

That said, the concern is that this atmospheric song may very well get lost in the mix. Unlike last year, O jardim has not built up the kind of momentum which Salvador was enjoying at this stage pre-contest  - which probably stemmed more from his personal circumstances than the overall strength of the song.

In fact, dare I say that Cláudia's track is more distinct, sounds more contemporary and should give Portugal another creditable result. However, its competition is seemingly way too strong to allow the country a repeat victory.

Artist: Cláudia Pascoal
Song: O jardim
Big 6 Finalist

16 April 2018

Light Me Up / Gromee ft. Lukas Meijer / Poland | Review

Gromee and Lukas Meijer | Poland | Eurovision 2018
Can Gromee and Lukas Meijer light up the scoreboard for Poland?

Although Poland made a strong impact on their Eurovision debut in 1994 - when Edyta Gorniak secured the runners-up position behind Ireland - their results since have not proved so spectacular. With just two appearances in the Top Ten since 2003, the Polish team is hoping that Light Me Up will return the nation to the Grand Final - as well as the left-hand side of the scoreboard.

Flag Poland
Composed by its performers, Swedish musician Lukas Meijar and Polish DJ Gromee, the track is one of the more modern offerings this year, combining dance rhythms with flavours of contemporary country and pop. The duo's live performances have certainly been rocking the folk at the preview parties in London, The Netherlands and Israel but, of course, this is not always a gauge of how well it will perform with the much larger Eurovision audience.

Nevertheless, given some of their recent results, Poland should be confident that this will make the Grand Final – and I think Light Me Up should accomplish that quite easily. The logic? If we look back at last year's results, JOWST's similarly composed song for Norway achieved 10th place. So, reasons to be cheerful for Poland!

However, how is it likely to fare with the juries? The vocals have not always been as strong as they might and, bearing in mind that the members usually vote fairly conservatively, I wonder if the song may suffer in the ranking as a consequence?

Personally, if all goes well, I expect the feel-good allure of this entry to see it through its semi-final, on its way to a possible Top 12 placing - especially if the Polish diaspora have anything to do with it. If they can really tighten up the live performance, Lukas and Gromee could equal (or better) Poland's eighth place in 2016.

Gromee by Serecki [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons 
Lukas Meijer by Serecki [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons 

Artists: Gromee ft. Lukas Meijer
Song: Light Me Up 
Semi-Final 2 | Second Half

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