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James Bay switches things up on sophomore album
James Bay became one of the biggest breakthrough sensations of the music industry at the end of 2014. Singles ‘Hold Back The River’ and ‘Let It Go’ turned into big international hits and the singer-songwriter dropped his successful and critically acclaimed debut album Chaos and the Calm early 2015. Although he had a three year break from releasing, he does not consider his second album Electric Light a comeback. In an interview with Metro he explains that he toured extensively with his last record and by the time that finished, he started recording new material immediately, together with producers Paul Epworth and Jon Green. We now get to hear the results and it sounds completely different than what we are used to from him!

So far, Electric Light has received mixed reactions from both fans and critics. Let me start with a some deserved praise! Bay could have easily recorded an album full of soft blues rock and singer-songwriter pop, because he knows that stuff did wonders for the start of his career. The British star however does not want to settle for more of the same, as he has dreams of selling arena tours, so he went for a bigger, more diverse sound on the new record. Gone is the long hair and the hat, replaced by a more slick look with leather jackets and colourful shirts.

Bay kicked off the campaign with lead single ‘Wild Love’, a mysterious synth pop ballad with obvious vocal effects. He followed it up with the incredible single ‘Pink Lemonade’, that serves hook after hook in a powerful, pop-rock sound with a bit of a glam attitude going on. With the gospel inspired ‘Us’ he proved that he sure did not lose his ability to write a touching ballad. But what does the rest of the album have to offer? A whole lot in a whole lot of different genres, sometimes even within one song. ‘Wasted On Each Other’ moves from a drum and guitar based rock sound to an almost a capella proper pop hook in which James uses the higher register of his vocal range.

In terms of composition, ‘In My Head’ probably is the most poppy moment of the record with a extremely simple, but effective hook with the lyrics “I’m gonna get you in my head, in my head, in my head, til I can’t forget”, lead by hand claps and a gospel choir like layering in the vocals. ‘Stand Up’ is a midtempo track that brings all the drama towards the end in a climax with piano, strings and again a choir. Can you imagine how stunning this would sound, performed with a gospel choir and an orchestra? Not everything on Electric Light was made with a ‘the bigger the better’ mindset though. ‘Fade Out’ is a laidback, lightly electronic soul affair with a hypnotic hook in which his vocals shine. The same goes for ‘I Found You’, a stripped back soulful ballad with a full, layered production that never takes away from the straightforward melody.

He shows he can still rock on ‘Just For Tonight’, the type of arena anthem that seems inspired by the likes of Bruce Springsteen. In terms of genre the record might seem all over the place to some, but James Bay deserves credit for not taking the easy route. He experimented, mixed up genres that his fans might not have expected from him in the first place and learned to use his voice in more than one manner. Not every experiment might have worked, but James Bay sure proved he got more than one trick up his sleeve and it will be exciting to see where he goes from here.

James Bay - Us - YouTube

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Christine and the Queens returns with funky new single ‘Girlfriend’
Christine and the Queens returned with new material. The French pop star dropped the first version of her debut album back in 2014, but because of interest from outside her home country, she launched a new version the year after. A handful of the tracks got translated from French to English and some new material was recorded. After touring intensively, she made her way back into the studio and we now hear the first results! The first single taken from the upcoming sophomore album is titled ‘Girlfriend’ and features Dâm-Funk!

As Christine and the Queens now has an international career, she recorded her new single in English, but that does not mean she forgot about her roots. She dropped a French version of the same track with the title ‘Damn, Dis-moi’. Héloïse Letissier, Christine and the Queens’ real name, recorded ‘Girlfriend’ as a tribute to G-Funk, with help from funk producer and artist Dâm-Funk. The production is smooth and there is a Prince-like funky guitar running through the chorus. The track faultlessly mixes the funk into a soundscape that reminds me of 80s synth pop, creating something that is a natural progression from the synth pop sound of Christine’s debut album.

In a press release, Christine and the Queens shared some information about the idea behind the tune: “I initially set out to smash against macho culture and macho men. I became obsessed with this idea of the macho man, and still being a woman. What does it mean if I’m this figure, and I’m a woman? Does it make me an aberration? Is it joyful?” She further explained how ‘Girlfriend’ is a more aggressive expression of sexuality with the lyrics “Girlfriend, don’t feel like a girlfriend, but lover, damn I’d be your lover” being the main hook. This is how you do a comeback everyone!

Christine and The Queens - Girlfriend (feat. Dâm-Funk) - YouTube

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Jennifer Lopez works with DJ Khaled and Cardi B on new single
Jennifer Lopez has been in the charts since the late 90s and she is still going strong, being one of the most productive pop stars of her generation. She never disappears from our radar for too long and is alread on to her third single release of this year. The last time that she reached the international charts however, was in 2016 when she dropped the track ‘Ain’t Your Mama’. Her last chart topping hit was back in 2011, when she made a huge comeback with Pitbull collaboration ‘On The Floor’. This time around J.Lo managed to get two current hit machines to collaborate with her. Her new single ‘Dinero’ features the one and only DJ Khaled and rapping sensation Cardi B.

Jennifer Lopez is not surprisingly all about the money on new single ‘Dinero’, which for those who did not figure it out yet, does mean ‘money’ in Spanish. It is a bilingual track with a whole lot of clever word play going on, both in Spanish and English. While the chorus is a bit flat, there is an insanely catchy hook in the verses, that could have been a sample from a children’s song. Cardi B drops a strong verse which underlines how both Lopez and herself worked their way up from growing up in the Bronx, now making millions. It might be hard to predict how much Jennifer Lopez will be able to achieve in the charts these days, but I think ‘Dinero’ is her best shot at a proper hit in quite a while.

Jennifer Lopez - Dinero (Audio) ft. DJ Khaled, Cardi B - YouTube

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Camila Cabello and Pharrell Williams drop studio version of collab
Former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello catapulted herself into solo stardom when her infectious single ‘Havana’ became a number 1 hit around the world. Follow up track ‘Never Be The Same’ did reasonably well too and debut album Camila was released at the start of the year. Cabello went on her first solo tour where she also performed a tune called ‘Sangria Wine’, that did not make the cut for the album. The collaboration with Pharrell Williams however now gets a proper single release!

Camila collaborated with Pharrell before on ‘Havana’, where he provides backing vocals as well as being a co-writer. ‘Sangria Wine’ is more of a duet though, as both artists perform their verses while doing the one word chorus together, that by the way does not reference the drink but a dance move. The track has some salsa and reggae influences, while the production does sound like Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ at times. Camila switches between English and Spanish and her delivery is pop star worthy. To be honest, the repetitive character of the track does not work as well as it did for ‘Havana’, but with summer around the corner, this could easily become a hit.

Pharrell Williams x Camila Cabello - Sangria Wine (Pseudo Video) - YouTube

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Scroll naar beneden voor Nederlands

Sandra van Nieuwland returns with new sound on ‘Human Alien’
Dutch singer-songwriter Sandra van Nieuwland is back! she had her big break in 2012 thanks to her participation in The Voice of Holland. After the show she recorded two albums with original material, of which the most recent, Breaking New Ground, came out in 2015. About time for a new chapter! Van Nieuwland is going to tour in theatres across her home country later this year when her new album will be released. For now we get the brand new single ‘Human Alien’ with an interesting new sound!

Van Nieuwland’s sound has always been an interesting mix of electronic and more traditional elements of singer-songwriter pop, but for ‘Human Alien’ she definitely dives deeper into the world of electronica. The drums are louder, the beats deeper and the synths sound darker this time around. The chorus has an almost hypnotic quality with Sandra’s distinctive vocals sounding more mysterious than ever before. With the new track she starts a project with a space travelling theme in the visuals. Lyrically, she asks questions about what is real and what is an illusion. But what if everything we believe to be real is actually part of an illusion? Intriguing stuff! Can’t wait to hear more!

———————————————————-
Single Recensie: Sandra van Nieuwland – Human Alien

Sandra van Nieuwland presenteert nieuwe sound op mysterieuze single
Sandra van Nieuwland is terug! De zangeres brak in Nederland definitief door dankzij haar deelname aan The Voice of Holland in 2012. Sindsdien lanceerde ze twee albums met eigen werk, waarvan de meest recente, Breaking New Ground, in 2015 verscheen. Hoog tijd voor een nieuw hoofdstuk! Van Nieuwland zal later dit jaar langs de theaters van Nederland touren met haar nog te verschijnen nieuwe plaat. De eerste single ‘Human Alien’ verscheen onlangs en hierop laat Sandra een nieuw geluid horen.

Sandra van Nieuwland experimenteerde op haar eerdere twee platen al wat met een meer elektronische sound die ze mixte met traditionele elementen van singer-songwriter pop. Op ‘Human Alien’ duikt ze dieper in de wereld van elektronische pop met luide drums, diepe beats en prominente synths die de track een mysterieus, ietwat duister karakter geven. Dit wordt onderstreept door de herkenbare, warme stem van Van Nieuwland die ditmaal spannender klinkt. Met ‘Human Alien’ begint ze een nieuw project dat visueel op ruimtereizen is geïnspireerd, waarin Sandra grote vragen stelt over wat er echt is in ons bestaan. Wat als alles wat wij aanzien voor werkelijkheid eigenlijk een grote illusie blijkt te zijn? Intrigerend! Ik kan alvast niet wachten om meer te horen!

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Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato team up for ‘Solo’
After a successful debut album with hit singles like ‘Rather Be’ and ‘Real Love’, it was the track ‘Rockabye’ featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie that changed the career of Clean Bandit. After helping to launch the careers of acts like Jess Glynne and X Factor winner Louisa, the success of that single gave them the opportunity to collaborate with established international stars. After working with Zara Larsson, Marina and the Diamonds and Julia Michaels on their recent singles, they managed to get Demi Lovato on their new single ‘Solo’.

It is a big week for Demi Lovato. Her collaboration with Christina Aguilera only dropped yesterday and now her track with Clean Bandit is out too. Now to be completely honest, ‘Solo’ is a bit of a WTF moment on first listen. By the second (or maybe third or fourth) play, there (hopefully) comes a moment the chorus ‘lands’ and that is when you can start bopping away! There is a lot going on in the production, especially when it comes to vocal effects, but it all adds to the insane catchiness of this tune. Demi Lovato does not seem like the most obvious choice for the song, but her vocal delivery is perfect here! ‘Solo’ does not sound as distinctly Clean Bandit as their previous singles, but in the post chorus the soaring strings do lift us up again! It sure is one of their more experimental singles, showing off a side we hadn’t seen since their debut, but this time around it surely is going to be another big hit for them!

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Christina Aguilera launches new track with Demi Lovato
Christina Aguilera must realize that a six year gap between albums was way too long to wait for her fans, because she is now dropping new songs like there is no tomorrow! The pop star finally announced the release of her upcoming new record Liberation next month and dropped first single ‘Accelerate’ two weeks ago. Only a few days ago she followed it up with the gorgeous ballad ‘Twice’. Now it is time for ‘Fall In Line’, a duet with the one and only Demi Lovato!

Vocally, ‘Fall In Line’ is exactly what you would expect a Christina and Demi duet to sound like. Let’s just say that both are not exactly known for their vocal restraint… As expected, they belt their hearts out here! ‘Fall In Line’ could best be described as a soulful ballad with a progressive production. Producer Jon Bellion made some bold choices in terms of sound that effectively underline the message of the song. This is a proper feminist anthem that speaks directly to young girls. “Little girls, listen closely, cause no one told me, but you deserve to know, that in this world, you are not beholden. You do not owe them your body and your soul”, Aguilera tells her young female fans. Lovato adds: “Show some skin, make him want you, ’cause God forbid you now your own way home”, only to conclude powerfully: “You’re more than flesh and bones.”

The distorted male voice in the background tells them to shut their mouth and asks who told them they were allowed to think. To underline their message, they completely overpower him vocally with a key change that was designed to snatch some wigs (as the kids say these days). Two generations of contemporary pop stars come together on a big tune with larger than life vocals and an important message to young girls. There is literally nothing not to love about that!

Christina Aguilera - Fall In Line (Lyric Video) ft. Demi Lovato - YouTube

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Europe, we have a winner! Israel’s Netta received the most points in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Her unique pop song ‘Toy’ turned out to be the favourite of the televoters at home and finished in third position with the professional juries. After being the one to beat for weeks according to the bookmakers, Israel was in second position behind Cyprus at the start of the grand final, but managed to overtake their rival in the most tense, surprising result show we have seen in years. Some jury favourites were not picked up by the televote and the other way around. A Bit of Pop Music guides you through everything that happened with a review of the performances and results.

01. Ukraine: Mélovin – Under The Ladder
After closing down the second semi final, Ukraine opened the final with Mélovin’s upbeat, dramatic pop song ‘Under The Ladder’. After rising from a coffin, he sings his heart out on stage and climbs up a burning piano to finish his performance. I would have preferred it if he performed in his own language (from the interview in the green room, we learned that he does not speak English, so why sing in English!?), because he was hard to understand at times. This was always going to be a performance that would resonate more with the televoters, but juries putting him dead last was a bit much. He ended up on the 17th position overall and 7th with televoting, which is a respectable result for this talented young man!

Read more about the Ukrainian entry.

MELOVIN - Under The Ladder - Ukraine - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


02. Spain: Alfred y Amaia – Tu Canción

Spain had bad luck this year, as the show producers decided to give them the unlucky second starting position. The couple performed their love duet ‘Tu Canción’ (your song) with passion and their romance really shined through on stage. Vocally, Amaia sure was the stronger one of the two, but both did a good job at working with their nerves. Although I would have loved to see these two higher up the scoreboard, I was not surprised their sweet, sugary ballad only finished in 23rd position.

Read more about the Spanish entry.

Amaia y Alfred - Tu Canción - Spain - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


03. Slovenia: Lea Sirk – Hvala, ne!

Slovenia’s qualification was one of the big surprises in this year’s contest, but based on Lea Sirk’s charisma on stage and screen and her impeccable vocals, she deserved to be here. ‘Hvala, Ne!’ (No Thanks!) was not one of my favourite songs in the competition, but she sure performed the hell out of it with a slick choreography. The moment were the music stopped worked better during her semi final performance, but other than that she was just as good as on Thursday night. Slovenia was never going to play a main role in this final and a 22nd spot is about what I expected, but Lea sure can be proud of her performance and the fact that she made the final in the first place!

Read more about the Slovenian entry.

Lea Sirk - Hvala, ne! - Slovenia - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


04. Lithuania: Ieva Zasimauskaité – When We’re Old

Lithuania came to the contest not being one of the favourites at all, but when Ieva qualified for the final, there was a hype train that predicted great things for her in the final. Interestingly enough, her lovely ballad about growing old with her husband (who appears at the end), only finished ninth in the semi and was not even in the top 10 of the juries. Her warm vocal performance was appreciated more in the final when the juries put her 11th again, but this time out of 26 contestants. Televoters voted her tenth, resulting in a respectable 12th position for Lithuania!

Read more about the Lithuanian entry.

Ieva Zasimauskaitė - When We’re Old - Lithuania - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


05. Austria: César Sampson – Nobody But You

Austria was easily the biggest surprise of the Eurovision final. Bookmakers hardly gave him a spot in the top 20, but he proved them wrong and then some! César gave another vocally perfect performance of his soulful pop track with gospel influences. I still think his backing vocals should have been visible as they are so prominent in the song, but even with this stage show, he managed to win the jury vote. Interestingly enough, the televoters at home only placed him on the 13th spot, which gave him the 3rd position overall. César Sampson can be proud and I think ‘Nobody But You’ does have potential to become a hit on radio in the coming weeks!

Read more about the Austrian entry.

Cesár Sampson - Nobody But You - Austria - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube

06. Estonia: Elina Nechayeva – La Forza
The gorgeous Elina Nechayeva gave another faultless performance of her opera and pop hybrid ‘La Forza’. She hits every single note like it is no effort for her at all. The stage show with the projection dress works really well to emphasize the climaxes in the music, while the camera work underlines this perfectly. Personally I hoped this stunning performance would have been enough for top 5, but both juries and televoters appreciated her enough to give her the 8th spot overall. Estonia should be proud of their new Eurovision queen!

Read more about the Estonian entry.

Elina Nechayeva - La Forza - Estonia - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


07. Norway: Alexander Rybak – That’s How You Write A Song

Before the contest I was afraid that Alexander Rybak’s return to Eurovision, after having won in 2009 with classic ‘Fairytale’, would be a case of ‘That’s how you ruin your Eurovisoin reputation’. It turned out that there were enough people who disagree with me that this is one of the weakest songs in the competition. I still find the track too repetitive and childish, but Rybak sure knows how to perform it with charisma. Interestingly enough, he won the second semi final, but in the final he did not go any further than the 15th spot.

Read more about the Norwegian entry.

Alexander Rybak - That’s How You Write A Song - Norway - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


08. Portugal: Cláudia Pascoal & Isaura – O Jardim

Host country Portugal went from victory to last place, just like Austria did back in 2015. I do think they deserved a little bit more though. Sure, ‘O Jardim’ is not one of the most memorable compositions on first listen, but it is one of those tracks that creeps up on you with every single play. Obviously there is no time for that in Eurovision, but I thought Claudia still perfectly conveyed the emotion of the song. Vocally it was sweet and fragile, just like it should have sounded. Oh well, someone had to take that last position…

Read more about Portugal’s entry,

Cláudia Pascoal - O Jardim - Portugal - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


10. Serbia: Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – Nova Deca

Serbia was one of the surprise qualifiers during the second semi final and I think it was clear from the beginning that their performance would mostly receive points from other Balkan countries, because of the specific mix of folk and contemporary elements. Vocally they delivered another strong performance, but for me personally it was one of the least interesting ones. Televoting awarded them a 12th position, while juries placed them 20th, which resulted in a 19th place on the scoreboard. Interestingly enough, during the second semi final they were saved by televoting, after the juries gave them the 11th spot.

Read more about the Serbian entry.

Sanja Ilić & Balkanika - Nova Deca - Serbia - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


12. Albania: Eugent Bushpepa – Mall

Albania’s Eugent Bushpepa was one of the surprising qualifiers in semi final 1, but with that vocal performance he thoroughly deserved it. He sure is one of the best singers in the contest this year and his rock song ‘Mall’ perfectly showcased this. Looking at the result, it is clear that Albania this year was a juries darling. If it wasn’t for the juries, he would not even have made the final. Televoters placed him on place 11 there, while juries awarded Eugent a spot in their top 3. In the final, juries voted him 7th, while televoting placed him 18th. Overall, this gave him the 11th position, which sure is nothing to be sad about.

Read more about the Albanian entry.

Eugent Bushpepa - Mall - Albania - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


13. France: Madame Monsieur – Mercy

France was one of the pre-contest favourites, but with both their performance and result, they did not live up to the expectations. Duo Madame Monsieur performed the song ‘Mercy’, about a baby born on a boat with refugees. The French delegation did nothing on stage to emphasize their message of compassion visually, with might have cost them votes as not everyone understands the French lyrics. Vocally, the performance was decent enough and the crowd interaction with pointing the arms in the sky gave a nice effect. After juries awarded France the 8th position, televoters were less impressed. They only voted Madame Monsieur on the 17th spot, which resulted in a 13th place overall.

Read more about the French entry.

Madame Monsieur - Mercy - France - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


14. Czech Republic: Mikolas Josef – Lie To Me

Czech Republic made the final for the second time in Eurovision history, and they did a whole lot better than in 2016. Mikolas Josef gave a better performance than in the semi final in terms of choreography and energy and his swinging, contemporary ‘Lie To Me’ still sounds like a hit to these ears. No surprise that this entry scored higher points from televoters, who awarded him the fourth place. Juries gave him the 15th spot, which meant Czech Republic ended 6th. This is their best result by a mile. Well done, Mikolas!

Read more about Czech Republic’s entry.

Mikolas Josef - Lie To Me - Czech Republic - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


16. Australia: Jessica Mauboy – We Got Love

Australia’s Jessica Mauboy gave another vocally questionable performance of her not so great tune ‘We Got Love’. The hook is decent, but the lyrics just sound too cliche to these ears and those bigger notes in the last chorus were simply butchered. Mauboy has a nice stage presence though and she does her best to keep the public at home hooked with just herself dancing around. Unfortunately, the televoters gave her the least amount of points and Australia had to be saved by the juries (who put her in 12th position), resulting in the 20th place overall.

Read more about the Australian entry.

Jessica Mauboy - We Got Love - Australia - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


18. Bulgaria: Equinox – Bones

After a 4th and 2nd place in 2016 and 2017, all eyes were on Bulgaria again to do well. They formed supergroup Equinox to perform the electro pop composition ‘Bones’. Vocally the five performers did a good job and visually, the act was simple but effective. Somehow, something did not really connect with me. I did not feel their performance as much as I did others and it turns out the same happened to the televoters. While the juries gave them the 9th spot, televoters placed them 14th, which resulted in a 14th position overall.

Read more about Bulgaria’s entry.

EQUINOX - Bones - Bulgaria - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


19. Moldova: DoReDoS – My Lucky Day

Moldova might not be remembered for their song in this year’s contest, but their staging surely was one of the best. The slapstick comedy effect with the opening doors is contagious and simply a lot of fun to look at. Vocally trio DoReDoS does not stumble while doing the choreography and it all elevates their folk pop tune ‘My Lucky Day’ on stage. Both juries and televoters appreciated the performance which resulted in Moldova ending up in 10th place!

Read more about Moldova’s entry.

DoReDoS - My Lucky Day - Moldova - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


20. Sweden: Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off

Sweden sent another handsome young fellow with an infectious, contemporary pop tune ready for the European charts. The staging with the lights behind Benjamin Ingrosso, who’s dancing is the main focus of the performance, works and I was convinced Sweden was ready for another top 10 result thanks to both juries and televoters. What I did not expect is that the juries would appreciate it enough to give him 2nd place. The proper shock however came when it was announced Sweden only placed 23rd in televoting! Even with a 7th position overall, this must have come as a shock for the Swedish delegation that clearly takes Eurovision very seriously every single year!

Read more about the Swedish entry.

Benjamin Ingrosso - Dance You Off - Sweden - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


21. Hungary: AWS – Viszlát Nyár

Hungary took the risk of taking metal to the Eurovision stage with band AWS. They gave another explosive performance of their track ‘Viszlát Nyár’, but the vocals in the verses seemed weaker this time around. The grunting in the chorus still is not my taste, but then again metal is not my favourite genre of music, to put it lightly. Not surprisingly, juries did not appreciate this as much with a 22nd spot. Their 15th place with televoters made them finish at 21 overall. In the semi final they were saved by the televoters too, as juries voted them out with a 14th place.

Read more about the Hungarian entry.

AWS - Viszlát Nyár - Hungary - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


22. Israel: Netta – Toy

Israel’s Netta was the bookmakers’ favourite for weeks before the rehearsals in Lisbon started and in the end she actually took the victory home to Israel. Her song ‘Toy’ was promoted as a message in the #MeToo discussion. Netta tells all the ‘stupid boys’ that she is not their toy in a playful and insanely catchy manner. She opens her performance with her looping style and her already infamous chicken sounds will be the topic of discussion for days to come. Whether you like ‘Toy’ or not, I think it is not right to just dismiss her performance as ‘another Eurovision circus act’. ‘Toy’ actually is a catchy and unique pop composition with some powerful lyrics and Netta is a memorable performer with a strong voice, who knows how the play the camera with her over the top facial expressions. Although she might not be your or my personal number 1, I think she absolutely deserved her victory!

Read more about Israel’s entry.

Netta - Toy - Israel - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


23. The Netherlands: Waylon – Outlaw In ‘Em

The Netherlands had the tough gig of following up the winner’s performance, but Waylon did so with grace. His country rock sounds excellent in an arena setting and so do his powerful, raw vocals. The stage act certainly was a choice with passionate dancers that do not fit the genre of the song at all. To me, it worked a little distracting from the song and the main star Waylon. After his runner up finish as part of The Common Linnets back in 2014, he now had to accept the 18th position, which is nothing to be ashamed of either.  He does have the juries to thank for this, as televoters placed him in 12th position in the semi final, which would not have been enough to qualify. In an interview after the result show, the confident singer already announced that he would love to do the contest again one day! That’s the spirit Waylon!

Read more about the Dutch entry.

Waylon - Outlaw In ‘Em - The Netherlands - LIVE - Grand Final - Eurovision 2018 - YouTube


24. Ireland: Ryan O’Shaugnessy – Together

Ireland managed to qualify for the first time after four years of failed attempts from the tougher first semi final with Ryan O’Shaugnessy’s guitar pop song ‘Together’. This stripped back love song with mostly high notes in the chorus, was given a memorable stage show with two male dancers portraying a gay couple. Vocally Ryan’s performance was decent, but certainly not flawless. The bookmakers placed him in top 3 at one point, but I think the 16th position is about right for this middle of the road tune.

Read more about the Irish entry.

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OG3NE welcomes summer on new single
This week it is exactly a year ago that OG3NE did the Netherlands proud on the Eurovision stage. The three sisters represented their country with the midtempo tune ‘Lights and Shadows’ and reached a respectable 11th place in the final. This year they will be back to present the Dutch votes in the result show. They also have a new single out! The song follows up last year’s ‘But I Do’. One thing is certain. Lisa, Amy and Shelley are ready for summer with ‘Clouds Across The Sun’.

The OG3NE sisters have been working on new material for a few months and ‘Clouds Across The Sun’ is the first result we get to hear. It is a breezy, summery, little bop with a laidback production. The chorus is a super infectious ‘ladadaida’ affair that will sing through your head for the rest of the day. Their harmonies are impeccable as always and the summer vibe suits their warm voices. ‘Clouds Across The Sun’ is one of their best singles yet and will hopefully become a summer hit!

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Eurovision often is a contest full of surprises, but 2018 is one of the hardest to predict in recent memory. Before the contest, Israel’s Netta was the one to beat with her song ‘Toy’, but just like last year, the odds started to shift when the rehearsals started. According to the bookies Eleni Foureira representing Cyprus is now the favourite to win. A Bit of Pop Music takes a look at the bookmakers, the download and streaming charts around Europe and the starting order and predicts the winner for this year’s contest.

Bookmakers
For two months, the bookmakers seemed sure of one thing: Israel’s Netta was going to win Eurovision with her song ‘Toy’. Just like Italian Francesco Gabbani last year, Netta had to give up her position to a country that impressed during the rehearsals and semi final. Eleni Foureira from Cyprus is now the one to beat with her upbeat pop song ‘Fuego’. Israel currently still holds the second spot, but behind those two leading ladies, everything seems to change by the hour.

Earlier this week Norway’s returning winner Alexander Rybak made it all the way to the runner up spot, but now saw his odds go back to the 9th position. Lithuania briefly claimed a spot in the top 3 after Ieva’s well received semi final performance, but now holds the 7th spot. The new rising star is Ireland. Ryan O’Shaugnessy surprisingly qualified during Tuesday’s tough semi final and is now one of the front runners according to the bookies. France has been doing well for months and Madame Monsieur’s ‘Mercy’ sits at a steady 4th place. Germany has been rising like crazy in the past few days and hours. Michael Schulte’s emotional ballad is well performed and Bookmakers think the country has a shot at top 5 after years of finishing in the bottom. Sweden has been making top 5 for four years in a row now and Benjamin Ingrosso has a good chance of making this 5, with a 6th spot currently. Italy and Estonia complete the top 10.

Downloads and streams
Looking at the European iTunes downloads and Spotify and Apple Music streams, there is only one conclusion possible: Cyprus is going to win, judging by these numbers. Eleni’s ‘Fuego’ charts in the iTunes top 100 of 16 countries, including number 1 in Greece and top 10 in Malta and Spain. She made it into the Spotify top 100 of six different countries. Sweden and Denmark’s viking Rasmussen follow with nine top 100 placings in the iTunes charts and three and two notitions in Spotify. Australia’s Jessica Mauboy found her way to the top 100 of iTunes in eight countries, while she made three Spotify top 100’s. Israel managed to get a score of five placements in iTunes and five in Spotify. Madame Monsieur from France already made it into top 100 of iTunes in five countries without performing their full song during the broadcasted show yet.

One could question the significance of these iTunes charts, as in some countries, you don’t need a whole lot of downloads to get a place in the top 100. Spotify lists therefore might be more impactful. Czech Republic’s Mikolas Josef is doing well on Spotify with a spot in the top 100 in five countries, while Finland’s Saara Aalto and Bulgaria’s Equinox have streaming success in four countries.

Running order
The EBU gave Cyprus potentially one of the best starting positions as 25th. She again performs after Ireland‘s Ryan O’Shaugnessy and only Italy will perform after her. Israel‘s Netta will take the stage as 22nd, in between the metal from Hungary and country rock from The Netherlands. Both Estonia and Norway have to perform early on in the show (6th and 7th), but the huge contrast between both performances could work in their favour. Lithuania‘s Ieva might struggle to be remembered after 26 countries, as her quiet ballad is already performed as 4th. Germany starts at position 11, right in the middle. Their emotional ballad might have thrived more if placed after or before a loud song or big show, which is not necessarily the case with Serbia before them and Albania after.

Sweden and Moldova seem to be dark horses in this year’s competition. Sweden performs as 20th, after the happy slapstick folk pop from Moldova. Italy’s duo is up last with their song about war victims and the state of the world. They use lyrics on screen to get their message across and if Europe is still awake after 25 performances, they could become an outsider for at least a spot in the top 10.

Conclusion
All things considered I have to conclude that Cyprus has the best chances of winning at the moment, although I am not entirely convinced Eleni will do as well with the juries as the televoters. Israel’s Netta might not have the winners performance after all, but she should be able to claim her spot in the top 5. Moldova might well be the surprise of the contest again after last year’s top 3 placement. Their song ‘My Lucky Day’ is currently in 16th position according to bookmakers, but I think they might do a whole lot better as their act is eye catching and they are one of the only countries in their region that made the final, so they won’t have to split the neighbouring votes. Elina Nechayeva from Estonia was one of the early favourites to win and I think she still has a shot, as her performance is impactful and I expect both juries and televoters to award lots of points to her vocal performance. I expect Sweden to make the top 5 for the 5th year in a row. Both the juries and televoters have shown appreciation for their slick pop tracks and ditto performances before, although Germany or Ireland might well jump in and snatch Sweden’s place if the people at home get touched by their performances.

01. Cyprus
02. Israel
03. Estonia
04. Sweden
05. Moldova

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