Eurovision 2011 national finals season has been underway for a while and Albania, Switzerland and Romania have wasted no time in choosing their entries.
ALBANIA: "Kenga ime" by Aurela Gace http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVd0rMyUTU8 is, on first listen, dramatic but pretty underwhelming although her eye make-up and hair gets my vote, as I'm really big on eye make-up, as anyone who knows me will verify that I can't go out the door without my mascara and eyeliner on :)))
Meanwhile over in SWITZERLAND we have Anna Rossinelli with "In Love For A While" which has that little Jason Mraz-acoustic style going on, with a na-na-na hook, but being the Eurovision purist I'd have preferred something in one of the country's main languages. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME50NDQTI_U&feature=related
To ROMANIA now: I didn't take the time to check out their national final, but the winning song "Change" by Hotel FM gets the thumbs-up from me. It's reminiscent of "Hello" by Take That in places, which is no bad thing, and it's probably my favourite of the songs chosen so far. Apparently the lead singer is English so hopefully that will maybe guarantee some votes from the UK jury too? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q1WpOTpZ1A
Tonight saw the first of the Melodi Grand Prix semi-finals in NORWAY, with Ørland being the first venue of this year's contest. The following songs qualified to the final:
Not that easy (Ah-åh-ah-åh) - Åste & Rikke - one of them looks a little bit like Maria Haukaas Storeng, but the whole thing on first listen was very forgettable.
Vardlokk - Helene Bøksle : this was the pre-contest favourite but the end result was basically a piece of meaningful atmospheric mince in search of a decent song. If you like that girl-in-a-floaty-frock thing, Christine Gulbrandsen did it much better in 2006 with "Alvedansen". Major disappointment.
The two songs qualifying to the Siste Sjansen round on 5th February are:
Daisy - Use Me: their haircuts were just a little too Justin Bieber for my tastes, but I guess there's still an audience for this Fall Out Boy-style rock/pop with teen appeal.Alt du vil ha - Sie Gubba: Norsk dansband with fiddles. Not really my thing.
In this year's interval act NRK are bringing back some former MGP contestants and teaming them up in some very intriguing duets. This week it was the turn of Keep of Kalessin and 2009 ESC winner Alexander Rybak with "The Divine Land", with a combination of fiddles and heavy rock....
Over to ICELAND now, where the first semi-final took place tonight: "Ástin Min Eina" by Erna Hrönn Ólafsdóttir (a nice ballad sung by a good singer) and "Ef Ég Hefði Vængi" by Haraldur Reynisson (easy going but forgettable acoustic-rock song) are through to the final.