I'm almost through all the entries for Baku, this post will deal with the four last songs to go through the semi finals, closing the Thursday night run-through.
Max Jason Mai - Don't Close Your Eyes
Eurovision has perhaps never provided the perfect stage for real rock music. "Hard Rock Hallelujah" was - in all honesty - a typical eurosong disguised as a rocker with some guitars and, well, monsters. The Slovakian entry is by far the heaviest piece of metal since their Czech neighbours tired their luck with Kabàt in 2007.
This could be a turning point for rock, though. This might be sharp and noisy, but also melodic and easy to get a grip on. Max Jason Mai is a likeable performer and this song stands very alone - nobody is trying to steal their points and they will stand out by a mile from the other entries in this semi.
Yes. This is the year when Slovakia will get something back for all the effort they invested during the last few years. I am not sure how high a placing they might get in the end, but it would be a big negative surprise if they don't qualify this time around.
My grade: 3/5
Tooji - Stay
You know what? We need to talk about Tooji.
He is a real personality, he looks good and he has something deeply interesting about him, something enigmatic and mysterious. He is quite a good singer and has a good way with the camera. He really is a strong asset for Norway.
The big question is why he has opted to perform a song as weak as this one. It has a lot of promise and good ideas and good little hooky things, but it doesn't help much as there is no melody line and no structure. This song would need to grab me by the hand and lead me through this musical landscape and explain what is going on. As a listener, I feel very much left on my own as the whole package dances on without me.
Probably. Confidence comes a long way in a competition like this, and Tooji has plenty of that. But it is surprising that Norway, for the third year in a row, enters with a good singer and a song that is nowhere near as good.
My grade: 2/5
17. BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Maya Sar - Korake ti znam
Bosnia has really proven themselves as one of the strongest countries in the ESC, contributing quality entries year after year - well-crafted songs, elaborate performances and very good artists. Maya Sar has been part of the Bosnian team twice before, behind Deen in 2004 and as part of Dino Merlin's cheerful gang last year. This time around, she is going with a far more laid back effort.
The song, written by Maya Sar herself, is a tender and delicious little ballad where every syllable feels like a gentle touch, sung in a most delightful and sensual way. A real gem, but perhaps slightly too ethereal to work wonders in a televote.
Hopefully. It contains so many good ingredients, but is anything but instant. Should hit home with the juries, if they aspire to be of any use to the contest.
My grade: 4/5
Donny Montell - Love Is Blind
It's a hard life when your song is ready and you can't shake the feeling that it just isn't interesting enough. At that point, it is easy to start adding extra things, special effects, that might seem like a good idea at first but that don't really contribute anything in the end.
It could be a complicated bridge between the verse and a chorus. It could consist of adding some long notes that just distract from the actual melody. It could involve putting a blindfold on to underline the words you are singing. And in the end, you'll find yourself with a whole lot of superfluous rubbish and not so much of a song.
That is exactly what has happened in Lithuania, where the composer and the performer have joined forces to make it impossible for the audience to find the somewhat decent melody line they have hidden under several layers of over-production and stage antics.
No. This song would need some serious cleaning up, but not even that would help. The chorus, when Donny finally gets there, is OK but not original enough to make a difference.
My grade: 1/5