Songcheck 2016: Albania, Ireland, Belgium

The Eurovision season is taking off as we know the first songs chosen to compete in the contest. On ESC Song Reviews we are going to take a look into all the songs as they pop up, and we start with Albania, Ireland and Belgium.

Albania: Eneda Tarifa – “Përrallë”

As usually Albania is one of the first countries to pick a song, in that they hold their national final in December. Their song, “Përrallë”, is a solid and powerful rock ballad with a fine rhythmic base where the rhythm guitar is emphasizing the beats 1, 2and and 4, and the bass is on 1. It has a fine dramaturgy with some rather tense chords. It culminates in the chorus where the harmony contains a chromatic upwards movement: D-Eb-E-F.

The song clearly leads my thoughts back to the Albanian 2011 entry “Feel the Passion”, but I think this one is a slightly more convincing. Where “Feel the Passion” said “passion” with very big letters in almost every note so to speak – which made it sound forced – the music here seems a bit more honest. There is a certain touch of something rough and unpolished here which is quite liberating in this world of glitter and big dresses. I wish the singer would dare take that unpolishedness a bit further: make the sound even more distorted in the chorus, make it more reckless, more rock’n roll. A bottle of whisky might help 😉

I am also a bit doubtful about what to think of the “oh oh” choir, but on the other hand, the title translate into ‘fairytale’.

The melody in itself is perhaps not so strong. It is difficult to remember, but I think music like this is not necessarily so much about melody. It is about tension, and it does contain both tension and nerve.

All in all a solid, but not flawless entry: 7/12

Ireland: Nicky Byrne – “Sunlight”

After a string of disappointing results with songs chosen in a special Eurosong edition of the Late Late Show, the Irish broadcaster RTÉ now goes for an internally selected artist namely Nicky Byrne, a former member of the boyband Westlife. Also the song, “Sunlight” is internally chosen. Can it turn their fortunes? Maybe.

Clearly the focus here is what you could call ‘radio pop’. The song is very well produced with a slick soundscape, but not too much edge. It can’t be much more mainstream which of course doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad song. The chorus is easy to remember and to sing along to.

Unfortunately it is taken down a lot by the song’s lyrics which are not exactly an example of subtle poetry: “In the sunlight, we’ll stay together, we’ll live forever” or “There’s no tomorrow, let us live on the here-and-now”. All in all very clichéd. Another minus is the vocals which are very clinically produced. It often means lack of personality, and it is the case here as well. Only Nicky’s distorted sound now and then counterpoints the slickness of the sound a bit.

But again the production is very professional, and the song is catchy (though not particularly original), so we end somewhere in between: 6/12

Belgium: Laura Tesoro – “What’s the Pressure”

The first thing that came to my mind was the bass riff in the beginning which sounds a lot like the old Queen classic “Another One Bites the Dust” from 1980. The rest of the song, however, is more reminiscent of Michael Jackson, but we are clearly in a soul/funk/disco universe here.

It contains a funky beat that you can dance to, and it would get me out on the dance floor too. Whereas the melody in the verses is perhaps a bit anonymous, the chorus is very catchy. And the contrast piece after the second chorus makes a fine contrast, building a tension towards the final chorus.

I like the song quite a lot, but unfortunately Laura Tesoro’s singing is a bit too cautious. A little more energy and power would suit the song, and it could potentially turn it into a funky disco tour de force. As it is now, it is 7/12, but it could improve. There is clearly some potential here, and with the right package Belgium could in fact reach far. 7/12

3 thoughts on “Songcheck 2016: Albania, Ireland, Belgium”

  1. “Feel the Passion” and “Another One Bites the Dust” came instantly to my mind too when I listend to “Përrallë” and the beginning of “What’s the Presssure” for the first time. While I agree with what you have written on both Albania and Ireland, I still don’t get Belgium at all. In fact, at this point, Laura’s song doesn’t make me want to join the crowd on the dancefloor but makes me forget that it is on at all. Well, perhaps I will warm up to the song once I have listend to it several times.
    Plus, the live performance lacks oomph big time imo.

  2. I was hoping to post my comments after the last 2016 entry had been revealed but, unfortunately cannot wait for the Bulgarians 😛

    Albania: I really liked it from the first time I listened to it until yesterday when they commited their usual crime… I totally agree about the dramaturgy thing and the comparison with their 2011 entry.

    Ireland: Lacking personality big time in all aspects is my big issues here. And the whole package couldn’t be more superficial methinks.

    Belgium: In contrast to the majority, “Last Night The DJ Saved My Life” is what came instantly to my mind when I first listened to it 😛
    One of my guilty pleasures this year. Really like the funky/groovy beat.

    Liked by 1 person

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