Stockholm 2016

Xtra Review: Wer singt für Österreich?

Another country revealed their national hopefuls for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest yesterday. Ten songs will be fighting for Austria’s ticket to Stockholm.
Peter and Nick had a listen to what last year’s hosts have to offer. Check it out below!

AzRaH – The One

Peter: The One is a soulful, jazzy pop effort that sounds quite authentic on one hand but also a tiny bit like elevator music. Azra is apparently the web wildcard and a digital marketing manager by day, which makes sense as she doesn’t exactly ooze star quality, but this is an accomplished enough composition, even if it gets a tad long by the end. I like the trumpet part, it helps with the “live” feeling of the recording. I’d imagine this would completely fade into the background at Eurovision though.
Nick: I did not expect that. Seeing her picture, I thought we were going to get a ballad, but it’s an attempt at soul, jazz and being catchy. The catchy bit does work, I have to say. She does actually pull it off quite well for someone who’s apparently not a full time professional. It doesn’t have much of an ‘oomph’, but I wouldn’t skip it on a playlist. If this would get to Eurovision, I imagine the Austrian delegation will be watching the final from home…

Bella Wagner – Weapons Down

Peter: Oh great, we had done quite well this Eurovision season so far and managed to avoid peace songs. Of course when we get one it’s one with a hit-you-in-the-face sentiment and subtle-as-a-brick lyrics. It’s rambles on somewhat similarly to Boggie’s ‘Wars For Nothing’ for Hungary last year, although at least musically it’s a little bit more interesting with subtle drum and bass beats running through it. Still boring and preachy though.
Nick: This is quite haunting. Sure, it’s another peace song and it’s rather in your face with it, but it’s a very interesting song and not one of those overly sweet ballads. If we had to have a peace song in Stockholm, I’d much rather have this over the cliché ones. This is quite enjoyable and her voice certainly makes most of the impact here. Good effort.

Céline Roscheck & Farina Miss – Sky Is The Limit

Peter: Farina describes her music as “neo-soul” and a blend of R’n’B, jazz and lounge music. This collaboration with violinist Céline Roscheck is more than a little bit disco, although that’s no bad thing as it’s pretty catchy. OK so the guest violinist is a bit of an overdone trope at Eurovision, but I like what she adds to the track, and the drama added by the strings stops the song from getting too repetitive towards the end. I can’t see this doing much, but I like it and had the hook in my head after the song ended.
Nick: Why? I love a bit of violin in a song, but Celina will be used as stage filling in that chorus and then she’ll get to fake a few notes again before Farina throws in her disco. There is no harmony between these two. It feels like a musical battle between two people who are both talented, but neither of them can really convince. Celina wins it though, so it’s too bad Farina takes most of the stage. In itself, it’s quite good, but there’s so much conflict going on here.

ELLY – I’ll Be Around (Bounce)

Peter: I was wondering where the “Bounce” might come into this song, as for the first minute or so it sounded like a bit of a misnomer. ELLY starts off the song accompanied by jazzy guitar and the song sounds like a midtempo along the lines of ‘Put Your Records On’ by Corinne Bailey Rae, then the chorus hits and it goes in a completely different direction. The deep house synths come in, and then then it goes all drum and bass! It works very well though and it’s a very up to date addition to the line-up.
Nick: Oh no, if ‘bounce’ means using dubstep, then you can bounce your way out of my ears. This dubstep isn’t all too offensive though, on a second listen.  ELLY has the talent, that’s for sure. It starts of quite nice with a midtempo effort that makes the title sound odd, but in itself, it’s not bad, then it however goes completely crazy and leaves me wondering what the composers were thinking with this one – must be something positive though. It’s definitely enjoyable and I quite like this.

Lia – Runaway

Peter: Lia Weller’s biography outlines her influences as soul, funk and house, but there’s no a trace of that in this pretty run of the mill Eurovision ballad. It’s a “don’t leave me” orchestral song, but without enough drama in the music or relatability in Lia’s interpretation to leave me with any lasting impression of it. It’ll get a few votes just for being the only straightforward ballad, but it doesn’t have nearly enough going for it to go all the way.
Nick: Dear Lia, if you want your bio to scream about all your uptempo work, why do you then deliver a ballad? She says Conchita inspired her, but that doesn’t mean you also need a ballad. That said, this is a Eurovision song by the books. There will be fans for this (me included), as it includes a violin in the right way and Lia’s vocals are pretty good. It’ll depend on her live performance though, but even then, it’ll be tough for her to go to Stockholm. I like the song though.

LiZZA – Psycho

Peter: What an addictive song! This is a great listening experience first time around – a bit like a more bombastic, Eurovision version of ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack. The whole thing builds throughout and there are a lot of sonic layers to get lost in. I am cautiously excited to hear this live, as it will be very very difficult to pull off the exact blend of sounds in the studio version, but if she can then this will be something special.
Nick: When a song called ‘Psycho’ starts off with the bells you typically play to newborn babies, you’re creeping me out. The rest of the song doesn’t do much else, aggressive guitars and a dark vocal, this certainly leaves an impression. But not a good one… I can’t say it leaves me ice cold, but no, I’d prefer it if Austria would send something that doesn’t sound so creepy.

Orry Jackson – Pieces In A Puzzle

Peter: This is an R’n’B flavoured pop anthem and immediately this sounds extremely voter-friendly to these ears. It’s got a big boyband chorus with a catchy hook, it’s contemporary and radio-friendly and I can see it working in a performance setting as well. Personally it leaves me completely cold and it’s not my cup of tea at all, so I hope I’m wrong but right now this sounds like a big frontrunner.
Nick: Pisses in a pussel, right, Orry? A rather modern attempt, R&B with some electronic sounds mixed in, but oh dear what are they trying to do with this? It sounds like way too much tries at the same time and knowing Austria, they could fall for that trick. It’s an old trick though and we all need to remain hopeful that they won’t fall for the trick of trying to please everyone and ending up pleasing no one.

Sankil Jones – One More Sound

Peter: It’s an appropriate title as I don’t think this song can fit one more sound in here! It’s a strange pick and mix of influences, with busy dance beats and samples, ethnic breakdowns, an R’n’B melody and a singer who sounds very polished and musical theatre taking the reins. It’s not awful, but there’s just much too much going on (and not blending together) for me to get drawn in.
Nick: Imagine: You’ve been trying to get to Eurovision for years and years. And then ORF gives you the chance to make it and you come up with… this? One More Sound he sings, I wish he wouldn’t make one more sound. I just can’t feel anything but shock when hearing this. Nice for the nine others. One less contender. Too much going on, but nothing is done particularly well. Let’s just move on then, because I just wasted three minutes of my life.

Vincent Bueno – All We Need Is That Love

Peter: A very credible attempt here, not a million miles away from Justin Timberlake. It’s a catchy, club-friendly R’n’B song that would no doubt go down well in the arena. It’s not my cup of tea and I start to actively go off it a bit when Vincent decides it would be a good idea to rap briefly in the middle, but a solid effort that I can see being one of the favourites.
Nick: Tu Cara Me Suena, Sztárban Sztár, you know, that kind of show – here’s your next contender. My goodness, this man could easily pass for Justin Timberlake in such a show and that’s no compliment coming from me as I can’t remember that last time I enjoyed listening to Timberlake. It’s on the annoying side of repetitive and the rap near the end just confirms that this is a clear no go from me.

ZOË – Loin D’Ici

Peter: ZOË finished second to the Makemakes last year with another French language song that I liked but didn’t grab me nearly as much as this follow-up attempt. This is a delightfully quirky, fast-paced song, featuring Zoe’s soft vocals over acoustic guitar and strings mainly, a bit like something by Alizée. The production is so lush here though, and very lovingly put together. What an utterly glorious middle-eight! It would be a very welcome addition to the line-up in Stockholm and I’d say it stands a decent chance.
Nick: Yes, thank you, that’s a wrap, we’re off to Stockholm. I loved Quel Filou and was surprised when she switched to English. I think that cost her a ticket to Vienna, but she’s back and she’s better than ever. Good use of the strings again and this would be Austria’s sign to France: If you won’t send credible French pop to that stage, then we’ll do that instead. Easily my favourite and a song that will feature on my playlists for quite a while. ZOË is a credible artist with her own style and a unique voice. We need
In all seriousness: Austria, you’d be fools not to send ZOË to Stockholm. She just has to win this show, because she’s the only act that really stands out.

Our highlights

It’s clear to see that we both share on clear favourite. If we’d have to vote 1-12, ZOË would quite easily win it. That would also make her our runaway pick for Stockholm. Behind that, our opinions start to differ. We both quite enjoy Elly, but behind that, it’s LiZZA for Peter and Bella or Lia for Nick.
All in all, whether it’s Elly, LiZZA, Bella or Lia coming second, it’s not that important, because ZOË should just win that ticket. It’ll be fun to see Austria singing in French and this unexpected choice could actually pay off for the Austrians.
What do you think? Are we right or did we lose the plot? Let us know!

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