I have been crap at linking the Pop World Cup, which is silly of me since a) I’m running it and b) the people managing teams have regularly come up with really great tracks.
This, overall, is the strongest Group E showing. France play a big name, Honduras let the local MCs loose (every small country does this at some point), Switzerland gets in Boris Blank of YELLO, and Ecuador puts forward the country’s premier beatboxer.
(There may be a ton of beatboxers in Ecuador, to be fair. But even if there were this dude is still probably the best.)
Anyone can vote - you don’t need to be a registered user or anything of that sort - and everyone should. BUT - there are only 12 hours or so left to do it, so hurry up!
We’re not usually big on self-aggrandisement or mythologising. More or less, we just do one thing — we rate pop songs out of ten — but we love it and we do it well. We don’t pay attention to the consensus around us; we build our own (sometimes, but we often disagree). And we’ve now been doing it for five years.
Of course the story of the Jukebox goes back further than that. We started as a pair of columns on Stylus, one for UK singles and one for US singles, which ran until the site closed in 2007. A chance meeting between two writers in a pub led to a few emails going across the globe, and all of a sudden the band was back together, just like we’d never split up. Sure, our friends at Pitchfork began to focus on individual tracks in earnest a month earlier, stealing our thunder somewhat, but we’ll always have the extra decimal place.
In the last five years, there have been nearly 3400 songs covered from over 60 countries, with about 30,000 individual paragraph-long reviews from us adding up to about 2,000,000 (two million) words. It’d take you a week solid to read the site from front to back. We don’t recommend you do that, so here are some highlights from our first five years. Feel free to share your own in the comments!
I feel very lucky to have been part of the TSJ crew over the last few years - this highlight reel makes for some happy nostalgia times right here. Who knows, now I have a new phone AND working headphones, I might even be able to get back on the regular reviewing bandwagon!
NEEDS VOTES. This Pop World Cup match - which I don’t think I’ve linked here - needs your love and voting attention. It is slightly harder going than previous games - which might be why it’s languishing in the votes - but there’s plenty here to reward your attention (or alternatively make you go “blimey that oscillator is a bit much”).
GUESS WHO has picked the nosebleed techno for this round?
As is tradition, here’s a quick rundown of the entries without videos (that I can find on Youtube):
ESTONIA: Birgit Õigemeel - Et uus saaks alguse (Estonia)
Basically a LeAnn Rimes early-2000s-production-style rock ballad that’s a leeeettle bit country. It will surprise you ZERO AMOUNTS that Birgit won Estonian Idol in 2007. I have no idea how this beat Winnie Puuh (well yes I do, because Song For Estonia used a complicated combination of jury-and-televote to ensure something non-mental got through).
DENMARK: Emmelie de Forest - Only Teardrops
Not more bloody tin whistle and drums, it’s almost as Irish as Spain’s entry! Lass isn’t wearing any shoes and has a little breathiness to her vocal. It’s catchy and I don’t like it and it will probably win.
ISRAEL: Moran Mazor - Rak Bishvilo
Fabulously serious young girl with bouffant hair, hipster specs and a Kappa tracksuit dress thing that shows off her boobs in an alarming fashion. It’s a ballad. With BELLS. And KEYCHANGES. It’s TERRIBLE and AMAZING.
MOLDOVA: Aliona Moon - O Mie
Aliona has some stunning facial architecture going on, and her dress has stuff projected on it. She belts the (reasonably interesting) ballad while standing very still to enable this. Above average for Moldova.
SERBIA: Moje 3 - Ljubav Je Svuda
A sassy girlgroup in the style of Stooshe (one’s an angel, one’s a devil, one’s… normal?) The song is enjoyable enough if you like Natasha Bedingfield but they are kind of singing it out of tune, which is a shame as I would like to go to the pub with these three and cackle about nonsense until 3am.
LITHUANIA: Andrius Pojavis - Something
Imagine if Daniel Bedingfield (can you tell I miss the Bedingfields?) didn’t actually know how to sing. As in, couldn’t actually use a microphone or hold a note. Excruciating.
AZERBAIJAN: Farid Mammadov - Hold Me
Will Young would never roll his sleeves up so awfully or ham up that chorus so badly. He would probably approve of the minor key and rocking middle 8 though. If Farid pulls it off on the night then I judge this is likely to give Azerbaijan another top 5 placing.
BULGARIA: Elitsa & Stoyan - Samo Shampioni
Remember how Eurovision went through a phase of everyone banging massive drum kits all the time about ten years ago? Well Bulgaria are still banging them, but this time with a very limp dubstep breakdown in the middle. There is an excellent fan video however, of various Bulgarian sporting legends — mostly weightlifters — which is rather compelling.
That just leaves Sweden, France and Germany (none of whom are in the semis and so I left till last, well planned out there me) which I’ll look at… at some point?