BREAKING NEWS: Knez will represent Montenegro in Vienna!

Hey hey hey!! Well, it seems that RTCG have delivered on their word and we officially now know who will be representing Montenegro in Vienna for the 60th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest – Knez! So is this a good decision that RTCG have made, or will we have to wave them off as they miss another final?

Knez will fly the Montenegrin flag in Vienna!
Knez will fly the Montenegrin flag in Vienna!

It was announced earlier this week that Radio Televizija Crna Gora (RTCG) that the country would reveal their Eurovision 2015 artist on Friday, and true to their word, they delivered and via a press conference in Podgorica, they told us that Knez is the first confirmed artist for Austria. Knez’s real name is Nenad Knežević and at the age of 46, he is the second oldest artist that Montenegro has sent to Eurovision, with Rambo Amadeus taking the top spot, performing at age 49 at the time. Knez was part of various bands in his early career, with the main genres of music ranging from folk-pop to Eurodance and this is really demonstrated in one of his early songs – “Da l’ si Ikada Mene Voljela”, which very much has a focus on the Eurodance side of his music, which isn’t surprising, as Eurodance was the in thing in the early 90s.

Of course, this was made in the late 80’s/ early 90’s and so it’s understandable to think that the song is quite dated. However, at the time, this song became a huge hit in the Balkans, and Knez became of the ex-Yugoslavia’s biggest artists at the time. Later on, Knez went on to have a solo career, but the hype about him managed to stay and he went on to collaborate with many different artists (a good few of them were turbofolk artists such as Ceca, so I’m pretty sure James will be happy about that), as well as releasing his own music himself. His most recent song, “Donna” – released in April, is more modern in terms of pop, but still maintains the Balkan-esque feel his previous discography carried. Plus with the accordion featuring quite heavily on this track, I’m really quite tempted to say that this song is a cross between “My Słowianie” and “Lane Moje”. Is it just me or does he look a bit like Stefan Raab with some hair?

So is it the right decision to send Knez to Eurovision? It’s a hard question to answer, seeming as we actually don’t know the song he’ll be singing in Austria. If it was up to me, I would send something like his song “Kad Nekog Ludo Zavolis”, as it shows off the Balkan ballad, but with a hint of pop. And as we well know from last year, Balkan ballads seem to work for them! His singing abilities are good, but quite limited, so I’m hoping for a powerful song that can both show off his voice and stand out, but not to make a mess of it on stage..How well that goes, though, is still a mystery…

Your views:

What do you think of Knez from Montenegro?
What do you think of Knez from Montenegro?

Claus Michael Fasting from Norway: No final, Montenegro…sorry!

Wouter Veneberg from the Netherlands: He scares me!!

James Scanlan from the United Kingdom: First time I’ve heard of him, but I love this style of music – Sretan Crna Gora!! Let’s hope you can make it to the final 2 years.

Garrett Mulhall from Ireland (who just so happens to be the Editor-in-Chief of Eurovision Ireland): Think Montenegro have another great choice this year. He ranges from dance to Balkan ballads. Juries will like him and with a good Balkan presence in the contest he is looking good!

Well after initial thoughts, it seems that Knez has managed to split opinions on his participation in Vienna. However, we can’t immediately judge a book by its cover – look at how Conchita managed to triumph after the stick she got when she was first chosen to represent Austria last year in September. Maybe with Knez we’ll have a song that can reach the final for two years in a row! We’ll have to wait and see though…so what do you think? Do you think Montenegro picked the right artist for Eurovision? If not, who would you have sent? Feel free to tell us what you think by commenting below!

Editorial: What do we think about Junior Eurovision 2014’s entries?

Hi guys! It’s that time of the year again where Junior Eurovision is rolling around you know what that means? It means it’s time for us to unveil our opinions on the 16 competitors and their songs as Junior Eurovision 2014 approaches! So what do we think of each song and what are your own opinions on the Contest this year?

Which of these 16 countries will come out on top in Malta?
Which of these 16 countries will come out on top in Malta?

If you’re a dedicated reader of our blog (thank you very much if that’s the case!), you’ll know that we did a similar preview of the songs in Junior Eurovision last year, when 12 competing countries were vying for the title. Unfortunately for us, it was the helium balloon that is Gaia Cauchi that won the competition in Kyiv, bringing a Eurovision event to Malta for the first time ever. Now, with 16 competing countries – the most amount of countries in the competition since 2007 – we’re gearing up to see who can be Gaia’s successor, but who will it be?

Both James and I will give our opinions on each individual song and score it out of 12 points. The song with the highest combined amount of points will be our favourite! Then we’ll have a look at who your favourites are in the Contest. Below is a full recap video of all the competing country, with individual songs provided in the links.

Ready to see what we think?

ARMENIA: Betty – “People Of The Sun”

James: I always felt that “Choco Factory” last year fell childishly short of the brilliance it could have been, but Armenia’s 2014 entry is everything I hoped for last time and more. Energetic, electronic, child-friendly without alienating anyone older. And oh so Armenian, with those chords!! I do love this, I won’t lie. I wish they’d done it all in Armenian as the English lyrics are quite frankly crap. But that aside… YES.
Score: 8 points out of 12

Rory: It’s a good song from Armenia, considering their good track record at the competition, but in my opinion, it doesn’t equal the same feeling/urge/compulsion to replay the song like how Monika’s song made me feel last year. It might flop on the night, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Score: 6 points out of 12.

BELARUS: Nadezhda Misyakova – “Sokol”

James: Ohh, this is quite fantastic isn’t it. Catchy as hell, and extremely unique in a very ballad-heavy field. It’s what I would describe as ethno-R’n’B, and whilst that sounds rather odd on paper, it really REALLY works when you listen to “Sokol”. Yes, Belarus, yes. I can see them heading for yet another strong finish with this one too, and they most certainly deserve it.
Score: 10 points out of 12

Rory: I’m actually quite surprised at what Belarus have sent this year! It’s very much traditional music mixed with pop – only Ruslana has managed to pull off a good result with that combination..I really am liking this one and I hope it does well on the night!
Score: 12 points out of 12.

BULGARIA: Krisia, Hasan & Ibrahim – “Planetata na Detsata”

James: I love Bulgaria as a general rule. And I’m really over the moon that it’s the country everyone seems to be tipping as the favourite for victory… but I’m happier for the country than the song. They don’t quite deserve to win with this, although the song is admittedly a very well-written one. I like the very slight ethnic elements evident in the instrumentation and chord structure. It’s a good entry, there are just a few that I prefer.
Score: 7 points out of 12.

Rory: Hmm….you know what this song reminds me of? Our Queen Zlata’s song “Za Lisami Gorami”, which was released after the competition in Sweden (and that’s a compliment). It’s a decent song with good vocals and good delivery. Also, can I just ask why does Krisia have to change her outfit all the time? It’s a bit….fickle, to say the least. That’s about it for the minute…
Score: 7 points out of 12.

CROATIA: Josie – “Game Over”

James: I think this song is the definition of ‘lethargic’. Really, it comes across as being incredibly sleepy, when I’m sure it was meant to be energetic and fun. It’s nice enough, as wallpaper music, but it’s not a lot more noteworthy than that. Which is sad, because there are the beginnings of a good song in here fighting to get out.
Score: 5 points out of 12

Rory: I was a bit underwhelmed when I first heard this, seeming as Croatia is the first ever winner of the competition – especially since they’re returning to the Contest after seven years. Unless Josie delivers on the night, I have a feeling this will be our last place this year.
Score: 2 points out of 12.

CYPRUS: Sophia Patsalides – “I pio omorfi mera”

James: This is by far and away the entry whose melody has lodged itself well and truly in my head more than any other. Put simply, I adore it. It’s nothing groundbreaking by any means, but it’s intensely enjoyable. Favourite part: the build-up to the first chorus when the beats are creeping in as Sofia lets us hear THAT tune for the first time… it’s magical. She does come across as a bit of an awkward dancer, but her voice is fabulous, and I really hope she gets the result she deserves!
Score: 12 points out of 12

Rory: What a great way to come back to the competition! I actually think this will do incredibly well in Malta and if I was to predict a placing for it at this current moment in time, I’m thinking the top 5..and I love the great mixture of Greek and English!
Score: 10 points out of 12.

GEORGIA: Lizi Pop – “Happy Day”

James: I must be living in a parallel universe to everyone else here, because I actually quite like this. I HATE the ridiculous baby laughing at the beginning, and the two senseless English lines. But other than that, this is a very well-produced electronic ballad, which Lizi sings rather impressively. I wouldn’t be as annoyed as other fans if this were to come out with a decent result to be honest.
Score: 6 points out of 12

Rory: Georgia this year is a really tricky one for me. On the one hand, Lizi (or whatever her real name is) sings actually really well – even with the two English lines, whereas on the other hand, the song is just…terrible..don’t you just hate situations like that?!
Score: 4 points out of 12.

ITALY – Vincenzo Cantiello – “Tu primo grande amore”

James: I feel like I’ve taken a trip back to Eurovision 1994 with this one. We’ve got a pre-pubescent Italian male who sounds like the love-child of Whitney Houston and has the questionable 80s hairstyle to match. If you accept this for what it is though, then it is quite easy to listen to, and even enjoy. I’m not its biggest fan, I do think it’s important for Italy to do well though, what with them being the only Big 5 nation daring to touch JESC.
Score: 4 points out of 12.

Rory: It’s a very strong début from Italy this year, with the two key changes happening in the song (sounds familiar…vola, vola..), and his vocals are solid the whole way through…and is it just me or does his voice change in those lines when he sings in English? (as a sidenote, *beep* *beep* GAYDAR IS GOING MENTAL HERE!!!)
Score: 7 points out of 12.

MALTA: Federica Falzon – “Diamonds”

James: *please don’t eat me Rory* I don’t hate this as much as I thought I would. Whereas Gaia last year was painfully formulaic, Malta have chosen something very unique and ingenious for their home contest. A dramatic electronic backdrop for Federica’s impressive mature voice. It’s not particularly accessible, but god it’s brave and intriguing. I don’t mind listening to it really.
Score: 4 points out of 12.

Rory: Malta REALLY likes to annoy me, it seems when it comes to JESC. I didn’t like Gaia – still don’t. Now, I don’t like Gaia AND Federica. I could not understand a SINGLE word in that song. Don’t get me wrong, Federica has a fantastic voice, but when it comes to understanding the song, this just falls flat. But because it’s opera and it’s different and it’s the host country, it’ll do very well….great.
Score: 2 points out of 12.

MONTENEGRO: Maša Vujadinovic & Lejla Vulic – “Budi dijete na jedan dan”

James: If I were to describe the Montenegrin entry in just one word, it would be ‘chaotic’. The song is dated, but passable…. but I can see this being an absolute car-crash live – Barbara Popovic style. This would be my pick for last place, if not for the fact that a fair few Balkan nations will be voting, and will probably bung a few points Masa & Lejla’s way simply because they can understand what the hell they’re singing about.
Score: 3 points out of 12.

Rory: I have to say that this song has actually been a relatively nice to listen to…the girls do sing well, but the only advice I’d give to them is make sure they actually look happy when they sing. I just wish that fans weren’t as harsh on this though… (By the way, the bit where they speak the English lyrics sent me into stitches!)
Score: 8 points out of 12.

NETHERLANDS: Julia – “Around”

James: I love it when we get this kind of entry in Junior Eurovision, and in the case of “Around”, I really do think it’s kinda perfect. It’s got the youthful singalong chorus, the electronic instrumentation which is both modern and relevant, yet reminiscent of the kind of early-2000s dance music I myself adored as a child. I really like this one, and I hope Julia gets a decent result with it!
Score: 12 points out of 12.

Rory: I can see why so many people like the Netherlands’ entry this year…man, all these countries are taking their experience from the adult Contest and implementing it into the Junior Contest…it’s a great song with great vocal delivery…this might be one to look out for!
Score: 10 points out of 12.

RUSSIA: Alisa Kozhikina – “Dreamer”

James: In a field with many ballads, some are inevitably going to get cancelled out. This one comes from Russia, so I doubt this will be the one that gets forgotten about, but it’s probably the most formulaic of the lot. That said, I do quite like it, the chorus is very well-composed. Russia have sent much better songs to JESC before, but this one is still quite enjoyable.
Score: 7 points out of 12

Rory: Listening to this makes me realise just how many ballads there are this year…it’s a decent ballad, but to be honest, it wouldn’t be anything I’d want to listen to again…but it’s an enjoyable piece of music to listen to.
Score: 5 points out of 12.

SAN MARINO: The Peppermints – “Breaking My Heart”

James: Well. I quite liked this the first time I heard it. But whenever it comes on now, I realise I just don’t want to listen to it. I like the post-chorus bit. And I like the Italian. But aside from that, it’s very… bland. I’d still be happy seeing them do alright because come on, it’s San Marino. But Michele deserved it so much more than these girls.
Score: 5 points out of 12.

Rory: Ehhh…..what can I really say about this? It’s an okay song with good enough harmonies, but for me, the group doesn’t really gel together which is a cornerstone of a group! I just hope their live vocals save them from another low placing.
Score: 5 points out of 12. 

SERBIA: Emilija Ðonin – “Svet u mojim očima”

James: This, quite simply, is my hands down favourite song from the line-up this year. It’s incredible. The melody is indescribably beautiful. Especially *that* high note in the chorus which Emilija just floats up to effortlessly, like she can do it in her sleep. She’s quietly confident, and immensely talented. I do hope they don’t try and overly kiddify her performance (like they did by chucking balloons all over her in the video.. I mean look at her face there… “bitch pls, can you not, I’m not 3”) but that’s really my only worry here. I adore this song, and were I in charge of the result, this one would win.
Score: 12 points out of 12 .

Rory: Serbia have come back with a bang and I’m all for it! This is some pretty easy listening compared to a few others in the competition and I can tell that this song will serve them well on the night…this could definitely be a dark horse!
Score: 10 points out of 12.

SLOVENIA – Ula Ložar – “Nisi Sam (Your Light)”

James: Oh. Slovenia, I really wanted your debut to go well. And I do think you’ll probably get a good result with “Nisi Sam”… But I’m sorry, I just really don’t like this. It’s cold as anything, and no matter how strong Ula’s voice is, you can’t polish a turd. This is my Gaia Cauchi song this year, sorry. (Although Ula does seem lovely, whereas Gaia… yeah, you all know where I stand on that one.)
Score: 2 points out of 12

Rory: When I heard the first few seconds of this song, I thought I wouldn’t like it. Turns out, I’m actually a big fan! Ula is actually a really good singer! And if she can do those high notes without breaking them, I can see a strong contender for the title. Welcome to the competition, Slovenia!
Score: 10 points out of 12.

SWEDEN: Julia Kedhammar – “Du är inte ensam”

James: Once again, Sweden are gracing the JESC stage with an incredibly mature and contemporary effort. And once again, I love it. I really admire their apparent commitment to choosing high quality pieces of music, and I hope this up-tempo melodic offering is rewarded with a top half result next month!
Score: 8 points out of 12.

Rory: This song just oozes Swedish production – consistent beat all the way through, great vocals, compulsory key change at the end of the song – it’s almost like the perfect combination. I really, really hope it’s not going to end up like Eliias last year!
Score: 8 points out of 12.

UKRAINE: Sympho-Nick – “Priyde Vesna”

James: Right, well I don’t get the first 22 seconds at all. Not at all. It’s all very cinematic and atmospheric and everything… but why? That aside though, what we’ve got here is a really experimental and dramatic entry, and I for one rather enjoy it. The verses and middle-8 are much stronger than the chorus in my eyes, but the whole thing is undeniably memorable.
Score: 7 points out of 12.

Rory: Okay, I officially know who I’m supporting this year at Junior Eurovision – Ukraine. This song is EXACTLY what I would normally listen to, plus the key it’s in as well adds extra tension and drama..I adore it…well, post-intro. I am having pleasant throwbacks to Kyiv in December! Oh, how I adore this song. The only concern I’d have would be if their live vocals don’t improve like they were in the National Final…but still, DAVAI UKRAÏNA!
Score: 12 points out of 12.

Our overall rankings:

If you looked at the highlighted article up at the top of the article, you’ll know that this section is where we combine our own individual scores to make a ranking of the ESC Views’ most favoured song. So after much work and adding both our scores together, these are the final results:

1 – Belarus – 22 points
= – Cyprus – 22 points
= – Serbia – 22 points
= – Netherlands – 22 points
5 – Ukraine – 19 points
6 – Sweden – 16 points
7 – Armenia – 14 points
= – Bulgaria – 14 points
9  – Russia – 12 points
= – Slovenia – 12 points
11 – Italy – 11 points
= – Montenegro – 11 points
13 – San Marino – 10 points
= – Georgia – 10 points
15 – Croatia – 7 points
16 – Malta – 6 points

It seems that James and I have managed to create several draws amongst the participants, with a four-way-tie for first place..now this could mean that we could either love/hate a lot of songs, or we’re just incredibly indecisive..It seems that the underdogs of the competition have managed to make it quite highly in our rankings, with countries such as Serbia and the Netherlands – countries that haven’t been mentioned as much as others have – managing to come in joint first place. So, it’s time to turn it over to you guys, what do you think?

Your views:

Which song is your favourite JESC entry this year?
Which song is your favourite JESC entry this year?

Michel Schena from Italy: I love Bulgaria! I like it ’cause it’s an amazing ballad, the two guys can play the piano and the song is suitable for children, unlike many others.

Aggelos Flegas from Greece: Cyprus because i cant anymore to hear ballads winning and Sophia Patsalides has an amazing voice live!  I don’t like Bulgaria’s song because is ballad not from the best ballads and I don’t know if this girl has a good voice live.

Hristo Hristov from Bulgaria: Bulgaria!!! I like Krisia and the song very much, as they are from Bulgaria and I am also from Bulgaria.

Stefan E. from Serbia: Serbia. Cute charismatic girl, with amazing song.

Well it seems quite apparent that many fans are in support of Krisia, Hasan & Ibrahim, but other songs are starting to build a small momentum in fan support. So will Bulgaria take the crown this year in Malta? We’ll have to wait until November 15th to find out…so now, it’s time for your opinion! Which song from the 16 countries is your favourite? Who do you think has a chance of winning? And are you looking forward to the show? Feel free to let us know what you think by commenting below!!

Album Review: Sanna Nielsen – “7”

Hello everyone – once again, you find yourself reading one of our album reviews, so thank you very much for joining me! Today, though summer may be winding to a close, I’ll be turning the clock back a couple of months to take a look at the studio album Sanna Nielsen released at the end of June, in the wake of her Eurovision bronze medal in Copenhagen. Does it live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

"7" was released on June 30th
“7” was released on June 30th

So, “7” – which, somewhat confusingly, is actually her eighth studio album – takes its title from the amount of times it took Sanna to finally win Melodifestivalen and sing on the Eurovision stage; since it was a lifelong ambition of hers, after all. Taking that into account, you might expect a really personal little album, maybe featuring some tracks written by Sanna herself, or at least those selected to bear some lyrical relevance to her life or her momentous Eurovision journey? I definitely hoped for that, anyway. But did we get it?

Erm… not exactly.

We have nine – yes, just nine – new tracks. One of which is “Undo”, which we all know from Eurovision. So eight new tracks. Oh, hang on. One of those is an acoustic version of “Undo”. So seven new tracks. Actually no scratch that. Three of them were released as part of the “Undo” EP earlier this year. So we have a grand total of four new tracks. Good start.

That’s not to say they’re not good songs though. They really are, in the main. I absolutely adore “Trouble” the most, out of the four real new ones:

A bold electro ballad, sublimely produced and enthusiastically interpreted, the staccato ‘de-de-de-deeeep trouble trouble’ chorus is the real winner here. Perhaps they couldn’t think of enough words to fill in the second line, but what they ended up with is incredibly catchy, and it emphasises the drama in the lyrics perfectly. With this being a Nordic pop album, it goes without saying that the production is just exquisite, on pretty much every single song.

And therein, perhaps, lies the problem. What we have here is a Nordic pop album. Which is all well and good, of course. I love Nordic pop. My only issue is that pretty much anyone could have recorded it. Maybe it’s because I was introduced to the songs on this album in chunks rather than as one cohesive piece, but I can’t find much identity to really link them all together. It’s very anonymous. And anonymous can still be a good listen. It just isn’t quite the album I was expecting from someone with as much of a zest for life as Sanna clearly has. *sigh*

Stepping past that rather obvious problem, though, and taking “7” for what it is, it’s still very enjoyable. “Ready” exudes an air of positivity as it portrays the resolve needed to find love again after a failed relationship. “All About Love”, whilst appearing to tackle the rather difficult subject of family break-ups, is an immensely enjoyable listen, layering a number of catchy hooks over a bouncy uptempo backing. The album opener “Skydivin'” (seriously, why drop the ‘g’? This is 2014.) has an absolutely killer bridge and a contemporary empowering beat. If she’s planning to release another single from this lot, “Skydivin'” should probably be the one.

My personal highlight of the album would be the sublime electronic ballad “Rainbow” – penned by one of my favourite songwriters who is also one half of Ask Embla, Ina Wroldsen.

The beat here is just immense. Powerful, driving, commanding. And Sanna’s vocal line is, as always, magnificently executed. Put simply, this is an Ask Embla song (and a bloody good one at that too), and whilst I wish Ina had been the one singing it, Sanna’s inimitable voice is by no means a poor replacement. Once you’ve got to grips with it, this is one hell of a singalong anthem too!

“Rainbow”s lyrics are rather strong, but it’s a little sad that some of the other lyrics on “7” appear to be cobbled together without a great deal of thought –

you took me high up in your sk-ah-ah-yyyy, to fl-ah-ah-yyyy

… but then again, we need not forget that this is Sanna Nielsen of “undo my sad” infamy. And at the end of the day, no, of course lazy lyrics don’t really affect how good a song is or not. I still really enjoy listening to all but one of the songs on “7”, and a few clichéd rhymes and clumsy sentence structures don’t impede that.

Perhaps if Sanna and her team had spent a little more time on this album, it would have been a more personal affair, but as I keep saying: though it’s undoubtedly clinical, it’s . The majority of these songs have hit potential, and that at least renders them a force to be reckoned with!

Your views:

What do you think of "7"?
What do you think of “7”?