Beware the Ides of March, but beware the Eurovision Song Contest entries from San Marino more.
San Marino: Serhat – “I Didn’t Know”
For those of us who first came to Eurovision for the campiness, the past decade has been relatively slim pickings. Sure, you sometimes get a countertenor on a plinth or an Albanian Gumby impersonator, but most countries are increasingly taking this seriously. Fortunately, San Marino and Serhat have teamed up to offer us a slice of old school hokum that has transported us to a magical land where that strap-on monocle is an actual thing that people actually wear. We want to vacation in Manfred T. Mugler’s artistic vision. With any luck, the staging of this least self-aware miracle will live up to the amazing video. San Marino, don’t fuck this up.
UPDATED 03/21/2016: They fucked this up. Since we posted this review, San Marino decided to use the disco remix of “I Didn’t Know” as their Eurovision entry. Sadly, the original video has been scrubbed from the Eurovision YouTube playlist. Why do you got to stick it to the Manfred, San Marino?
Greece: Argo – “Utopian Land”
Greece’s fortunes in Eurovision have been waning in the past few years. Three of their last four entries have finished towards the bottom of the table. We’re not seeing that change with this year’s entry, although our opinion may be tainted somewhat by the video of a shirtless William H. Macy running endlessly.
It was always going to be hard to follow up “Golden Boy,” but Israel did itself no favors by deciding to revamp Hovi Star’s “Made of Stars,” apparently due to the negative reaction from online fans after the national final. To be fair, the original version was a bit repetitive. Unfortunately, the new version has turned “Made of Stars” into a Bon Jovi power ballad or something. Israel better hope Hovi Star has enough star power to carry them through to the Final.
Lithuania: Donny Montell – “I’ve Been Waiting for This Night”
When we first called attention to Donny Montell back before he even made it to the Eurovision stage, we could scarcely hope that he would become a two-time Lithuanian representative at the Song Contest. We are confident that Donny will put in overtime to top the sheer Donnyness of “Love Is Blind.” His performance of “I’ve Been Waiting For This Night” at Lithuania’s national final indicates that we will see a lot of special Donny magic in Stockholm.
Albania: Eneda Tarifa – “Fairytale”
We reviewed Albania’s entry back when it was called “Përrallë,” at which time we said that they shouldn’t literally translate the title, seeing as any song at Eurovision titled “Fairytale” would pale in comparison to… you know… “Fairytale.” Of course, Albania went ahead and called it “Fairytale.” It’s hard to see how this one is going to stand out, unless Europe is craving more Bond themes.
France: Amir – “J’ai cherché”
It’s a weird year when the only song at Eurovision completely in French comes from Austria. Then again, France has been on such a terrible run of form the past four years that maybe a splash of English will help change their fortunes. Having a modern, chart-friendly pop song may help. Having an undisciplined live performer may not. Let’s see if they can finish higher than Austria.
Sweden: Frans – “If I Were Sorry”
It’s funny that in a year where so many countries are trying to sound Swedish, Sweden opts to defend its title with a youthful pop song spiked with some acrid lyrics. “If I Were Sorry” relies a lot on Frans’ charisma and stage presence, but fortunately he has enough to spare. We’re betting that a lot of countries go the full Måns this year, so a stripped down (dare we say, Lena-like) performance may stand out in an otherwise even field. Umeå 2017, anyone?