Sunday, January 15, 2017

The 2016-40: No.20-11

20. J'ai Cherché - Amir.

After a few years of propping up the bottom of the Eurovision results table, you could be forgiven for thinking that France had given up.  But in 2016, they turned to Amir Haddad, finalist from the French version of The Voice, who delivered a very pleasant surprise.  A ridiculously catchy pop song in French and English, sung by a very charismatic vocalist.  It wasn't only a fan favourite: it went on to charm the juries and televoters of Europe and achieve 6th place on the scoreboard, the best placing for France in 14 years. Celebrations all round!

19. This Girl - Kungs vs Cookin' On 3 Burners. 

Summer dance hit anyone?  During a very dark summer, this brought some rare sparkle for me.  The ridiculously young French dance DJ talent Kungs delivered what for me was the dance hit of the summer and autumn, mixing soulful vocals with that irresistibly catchy brass riff.  He then followed it up with another couple of cracking tunes which were criminally ignored here in the UK.

18. High and Low - Empire of the Sun. 

Long-awaited lead single from that equally long-awaited 3rd album.  Over the past year, EotS became massive in the USA thanks to the use of "Walking On A Dream" in a car advert.  Fandom aside, the UK continues to be resistent to the guys' unique image and wonderful music though: an appearance on "Later With Jools Holland" sparked much criticism and confusion on Twitter.  To date, the "Two Vines" album has not really had the same impact on me as the previous two, which probably explains the low position of this song on my chart.  But I still love them, and long may they continue on their own unique musical path.

17. Human - Oscar Zia.

It was a different kind of Melodifestivalen final for me. For once I wasn't at home but was in London with faithful travelling companion for a hugely enjoyable weekend break.  Anyway by that time it was very clear that the result was a foregone conclusion and that the Frans juggernaut was unstoppable.  But who would come second?  As it turned out, it was this one, which won the jury vote, despite some vocal wobbles.  The staging was simple but those sharp camera shots were very effective indeed.  Like many of the songs in Melodifestivalen 2016, it took a long time for me to love "Human" but once I got there, it took up residence on my iPod over the spring and summer along with a few other songs which also figure in my annual chart.  I can see Oscar returning to Melodifestivalen at a later date....

16.  Mos Harro - Dilan Reka. 

A very late addition to my chart, from Albania's Festivali i Këngës which took place just before Christmas.  Dilan tried to bring some modernity to the contest this year with this song, and he certainly had the momentum at the semi-final stage (pictured above).  However, in the final it was a different matter; Dilan's styling took a turn for the worse (that back-to-front baseball cap really wasn't a good look). Still, 3rd place was a pretty good result in one of Europe's most unique and gleefully idiosyncratic song contests, where something as completely bonkers and bizarre as Genc Salihu's "Këtu" can come second...!

15. Way To Go - Empire of the Sun.

My current favourite song from "Two Vines" and probably the closest in spirit to the best songs from their first two albums, with a similar driving beat to, say, "Standing On The Shore" and some upbeat, hopeful lyrics; "Doesn't matter what's tripping you out, there's ways to go / This is where we get carried away enough to start again" and "Like a cannonball shot across the floor / We have found a way through the darkest hour".

14. Melekler Ölmez - Mor ve Ötesi.

Another very late addition to my chart. In 2016, my all-time favourite Turkish rock band celebrated their 20th anniversary with a box set compilation but I wondered if we would ever get any new material from them.  Then came a new song released earlier in 2016 (Anlatamıyorum) and at the end of the year we got a nice surprise - this brand new song, and it didn't disappoint.  Hoping we don't have to wait too long for that next album...!

13. Put Your Love On Me - Boris René.

Singing footballers seem to be a thing in Sverige: not only did Kevin Walker win Swedish Idol in 2013, but also in 2016 we had the Degerfors defender Boris Lumbana a.k.a. Boris René compete in Melodifestivalen with this hyper-catchy pop song.  If you're looking for deep and meaningful, then look elsewhere: but if you just want a song to make you smile and have you tapping your feet then this is most definitely the one to do it.  Boris will open Melfest 2017 in three weeks: expectations are high that he will deliver another cracking little pop tune.

12. Afterglow - Laila Samuels. 

No offence to Agnete, but there were two better songs in MGP 2016 - the other one will appear later in my countdown.  Looking back, "Afterglow" could have gone that extra mile and presented a serious challenge in Stockholm.  This has the strength and intensity required of a contemporary Eurovision contender.  I hope she returns to MGP some day.  And as for MGP 2016 - well, it could have been so much worse...Freddy Kalas, anyone ?!?!?!?!?!?!

11.  Heartbeat - Justs. 

During a packed Eurovision national finals season, one national selection process stood out for me.  Latvia’s “Supernova” impressed for (at least) 3 reasons: 1) it was on Sundays rather than the increasingly congested Saturday nights; 2) the weekly appearances by Riga Beaver were just life-affirming and topped everything else in national finals season; and 3) Justs and his leather jacket brightened up our Sunday nights with the pulsating, industrial beats of this song, written by Aminata Savadogo who pushed the boundaries of ESC the previous year.  When it came to ESC in Stockholm, the song was staged well and Justs did the best he could - but sadly he only came 15th in the final. 

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