23 February 2017

Eurovision 2017: Review: Georgia: Keep the Faith

Tako Gachechiladze / Georgia / Eurovision 2017
Tako Gachechiladze will Keep the Faith for Georgia in 2017

After an exceptionally drawn out selection process where 25 candidates competed for the right to represent Georgia in Kiev, it was eventually decided that Tako Gachechiladze will sing Keep the Faith for the nation at Eurovision 2017.

Over recent years, one could rely on Georgia to offer up something a little left field to the competition: indie rock, jazz fusion and some electropop spring to mind. Many hated it and, admittedly, most of those choices failed to race up the scoreboard.

However, it's somewhat disappointing to report that Georgia has ditched the alt-Eurovision attitude for something more Contest friendly - but sadly - bland, safe and familiar.

Georgia Flag
Keep the Faith is the kind of power ballad that has become a regular feature of the Eurovision Song Contest. It's nice and it means well but, among a multitude of similar productions, there's nothing to distinguish it from the crowd.

Vocally, it smacks of 1990s Mariah Carey or Celine Dion and visually - at least at the National Final - Tako appears to be channeling Conchita Wurst in the fashion stakes. Like the lyrics, it's all rather clichéd and stale.

Meanwhile - and this is probably just a personal thing - there's also a nagging similarity in the latter part of the entry to Michael Jackson's Earth Song. Although both compositions have a connected theme, it's the musical progression of Keep the Faith which bears the greatest resemblance.

That said, there's also the small matter of the somewhat politically charged and rather inappropriate backdrop seen in the video below. Surely, that has to go between now and May. Clearly, Tako will not want to find herself in the same predicament as her former group Stephane and 3G in 2009 - namely, disqualified. Assuming this isn't the case, some tweaks to the presentation and the song are inevitable.

Nevertheless, steel yourselves for some dramatic - some might say melodramatic - vocals. In that quarter the song can't be faulted, but the entire package is unlikely to be a major highlight in Kiev.

So, not Georgia's strongest effort and perhaps a borderline qualifier. Should it break through though, I can't see it worrying the upper area of the scoreboard.


08 February 2017

Eurovision 2017: Albania: Lindita Halimi: Botë

Eurovision Albania 2017 / Lindita
Lindita Halimi to sing for Albania

The 2017 season of the Eurovision Song Contest has kicked off with Albania once again becoming the first country to choose its entry. Although it missed the final last year, the country has chosen yet another solo female artist as its representative.

27-year-old Lindita is a veteran of music and vocal competitions, having participated in Albania's version of Idol, in addition to the internal TV contest Top Fest  which she won in 2009. A brief spell of popularity in the US appears on her CV as well, thanks to her appearance in the later stages of the last series of American Idol.

Flag Albania
Botë  marks Lindita's second attempt at winning Festivali i Këngës - the Albanian route to Eurovision glory - with the song following the (almost) exclusive tradition of Albania sending an overblown melodramatic ballad to the Eurovision stage. Lindita doesn't disappoint with the delivery: the song requires a powerful vocal and a showstopping stage performance and that is exactly what she provides. It impressed enough of the jurors, topping the scoreboard by a spectacular margin at the 55th staging of the show.

But what of its chances in Kiev in May? As it stands, Eurovision voters have generally been unimpressed by the vocal gymnastics of the Albanian entries. Granted, they have all been very good singers, but most of the songs have not been memorable for the right reasons.

At the moment, Botë  has very little of a hook to draw in the listener on its first play. However, there promises to be some significant changes to the song by the time it is performed in the first semi-final on May 9. Amongst them is a revision of the lyrics to English. This change usually offers little middle ground of opinion: it's either a definite help or a miserable hindrance. At the moment, we can only wait with bated breath for the end result.

The same could be said of its musical backing. Festivali i Këngës  provides a full live orchestra, but there will be no such lavish production in Kiev. Hopefully, the Albanian team's overhaul will give us something much more edgy and modern.

Could it qualify? Right now, it's all speculation in its present form. Lindita looks good and is obviously used to the big stage, so no problem there. The song's future really depends on the quality of the other national final winners and its own update.

Nevertheless, the song seems to have very marginal appeal to progress any further.


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