Single Review: Ruth Lorenzo – 99

Ruth Lorenzo 99 cover

Ruth Lorenzo returns to English with new single ’99’
Spanish pop star Ruth Lorenzo has come a long way since she auditioned for X Factor UK in 2008. The singer started her musical career in English, but did not manage to set the charts on fire after her fifth position in the live shows. Until she won the Spanish preselection of Eurovision in 2014 with ‘Dancing In The Rain’. She finished in top 10 at the contest as well and became a major name in Spain. She released her debut album Planeta Azul with the fantastic single ‘Gigantes’ and in October a re-release of the record will happen. Ruth has her eyes set on international success again with the English languaged hit to be, ’99’.

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Video Review: Ruth Lorenzo – Gigantes

Ruth Lorenzo Gigantes cover

Ruth Lorenzo releases inner pop diva for ‘Gigantes’ video

Ruth Lorenzo had quite a successful year so far. She participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for Spain with the beautiful ballad ‘Dancing In The Rain’. Thanks to a beautiful staging and outstanding vocal performance, she finished in top 10 for her home country. Before Eurovision Ruth had been releasing songs mainly in English, but because of her growing popularity in Spain, she decided to record an album in her mother language. The new single ‘Gigantes’ is the first song to be released of the record and Lorenzo premiered the video today on Youtube.

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Eurovision 2014: Final: Review, Results and Analysis

Conchita Wurst Wins

The Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 did not have one major favourite for the win, so this was the most exciting result show we have seen in a while. In the first half, the big contenders all still stood a chance of winning, but in the end there was only one amazing song that took the lead. Austria’s Conchita Wurst won the contest, something that would not have been expected before this week, but after seeing her great performance of ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ during the semi final, she became one of the biggest favourites. Five great songs make up the top 5 this year with my little The Netherlands in second place. It was a great show and an almost perfect result. Time to look back at the performances and the final scoreboard!

01. Ukraine: Mariya Yaremchuk – Tick-Tock
The final started with an upbeat performance by Mariya Yaremchuk from Ukraine. This girl looks and sounds like an absolute star. Her song was not one of my favourites, but it is catchy and decent enough. The act with the wheel did not make very much sense, but then again, it looked quite good on screen. I think the policital situation in Ukraine might have helped her a little with the sixth place she reached, but well done anyway!

02. Belarus: TEO – Cheesecake
If I had to give my personal opinion, this song would have finished in 25th position on saturday night, because I just don’t really like it. It is catchy and laidback and the performance looks quite alright, but his voice is not the best and his English is just not good enough to sell this song. I would say a 16th position is way too high for this track and performance, but kudos to him for getting this far in the competition.

03. Azerbaijan: Dilara Kazimova – Start A Fire
In terms of the results, I think we can all agree that Azerbaijan was one of the biggest disappointments. They never missed out on a place in the top 10 and year after year they even reached top 5. This year, Dilara Kazimova only brought them to 22st place with her ballad ‘Start A Fire’. I actually thought it was a beautiful ballad with a captivating build up. Dilara did a vocally very strong performance, although the circus behind her was not necessary. Still I thought and hoped this would have reached top 10.

04. Iceland: Pollapönk – No Prejudice
Where Belarus was my number 25, Iceland took the last place for me. I tried, but nothing about this could convince me. The song, the lyrics, the suits, it all felt so forced to me. The colorful staging looked good, but that was about it. Even the vocals towards the end of the song were very disappointing. I usually really like what Iceland sends in for Eurovision, but this year, it just wasn’t for me. Good for them they managed to get as high as the 15th position.

05. Norway: Carl Espen – Silent Storm
The contrast between Iceland and Norway this year could not have been bigger. Norway brings one of the most beautiful and touching songs to the contest. Carl Espen did an even better performance in the final with vocals filled with emotion. He looked more confident as well, without losing the fragile performance that fits with the song. Especially the verses of this track are gorgeous. Norway absolutely deserved their spot in the top 10, so I am glad that they made it to the 8th position.

06. Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi – Miracle
It was the second time that Paula Seling and Ovi represented Romania in Eurovision. In 2010 they ended up in top 3 with ‘Playing With Fire’ and I can’t help but saying that their song this year is quite a bit weaker than their previous attempt. It sounded current, but there are lots of tracks with better lyrics in this style. Both are charismatic performers though and especially Paula is a great vocalist, but even they could not get more out of this song than the 12th place they ended up with.

07. Armenia: Aram MP3 – Not Alone
Aram MP3 had one of the best and most popular songs in this year’s contest. It is a pity that his vocals in the verse at the start were somewhat disappointing. The build up and the climax of the song are intense and his vocals there were much better. This song however, deserved a faultless performance. It might have cost him a top 3 placing, but still, the 4th place is a result Armenia can be proud of. Based on the song, I think they deserved it.

08. Montenegro: Sergej Cetkovic – Moj Svijet
Montenegro brought the only typical balkan ballad to Eurovision this year. Sergej is not the most charmismatic performer, but his voice is good and the song is beautiful, although not one of the best in this genre I have heard. Although the skater did her best to make this performance stand out, I have to admit it came across as a bit forgettable after Armenia. Still great they had their place in the final this year and a 19th position is not that bad.

09. Poland: Donatan & Cleo – My Slowianie
Talking about contrasts between songs, Poland and Montenegro are worlds way from each other in terms of performance. Poland brings a fresh and loud mix of folk music and hip hop, which turns out to be my guilty pleasure this year. I did not want to like this song at first, but I have to admit it is damn catchy and nicely produced. The live vocals sound almost the same as on record which is a good thing. The big breasted ladies completed the performance visually and I think a 14th position is a respectable result for this song and performance.

10. Greece: Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd – Rise Up
Greece this year was a disappointment when it comes to their song, the performance and the results. Although ‘Rise Up’ is a very contemporary and swinging song, it did not do much for me. The performance was quite poor as well as this is not one of the hardest songs to sing, but still the vocals were out of tune for most of the time. The act with the trampoline looked a bit silly and I think the Greeks would have expected more than the 20th place they finished in. I can’t say it is undeserved though.

11. Austria: Conchita Wurst – Rise Like A Phoenix
And there was the winner of Eurovision 2014. I never really thought she could do it, but I am really happy with this deserved victory for Austria. It was great to see that almost every country in Europe gave points to Conchita Wurst and her great message, packed in one of the best tunes of the evening. The dramatic James Bond-like track has a soaring chorus and Conchita has some great vocals. She tackled every high note without any difficulties. Great to see my country gave 12 points to Conchita as well. This victory does feel like a statement as well and I love to see all the support for her message of equality and tolerance. You’re a star, Conchita!

12. Germany: Elaiza – Is It Right?
Poor girls from Germany had to grab the attention after the marvelous performance by Conchita. Elaiza’s singer gave a decent vocal performance and ‘Is It Right?’ actually is kind of a nice and catchy pop song. I would say it was a little to middle of the road to do very well in Eurovision, but I was afraid they were ending up in the lowest regions, which they did not deserve. The 18th place sounds about right for this song and performance though. Germany has done better in the recent Eurovision history, but this was nothing to be ashamed of either.

13. Sweden: Sanna Nielsen – Undo
After Germany it was time for another favourite from Sweden. Until just before the show, Sanna Nielsen still was the one to beat in the competition for the bookmakers and she absolutely deserved the high place on the scoreboard. ‘Undo’ mixes the best of Eurovision style ballads and something more temporary like Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ and Sanna Nielsen is an outstanding vocalist. To top it all off, the Swedish delegation brought a beautiful light show on stage with Sanna, which took the song to an even higher plan. Do Swedes ever not send good things to Eurovision? Deserved third place!

14. France: Twin Twin – Moustache
And in a competition like this, there is always a country that has to finish in the last place. This happened to Twin Twin from France this year. Their mix of Stromae, Major Lazer and LMFAO obviously did not impress the viewers or the judges. I have to say I quite like the track in studio version, but live it did not really come across very well. Too bad for France, that seems to disappoint in Eurovision year after year now.

15. Russia: Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine
I think the 7th position Russia finished in, was higher than most people expected. I think they had a decent song and the twins have great vocal ability, but a place in the top 10 for this performance was a bit too much in my eyes. The playground setting on stage was not something I am a huge fan of, and moreover, there were a bunch of other songs that deserved more and did not come close to top 10. At least I am happy for the sisters who had to endure quite some booing over the week. A place in the top 10 probably made this a little easier for them to accept.

16. Italy: Emma Marrone – La Mia Citta
After Russia it was time for one more big five performance, from Italy this time. Emma Marrone is a big star in her home country and her pop rock song sounds quite good in the studio version. I have to admit I was quite disappointed by the live performance. Emma seemed to be out of breath at least half of the performance because of all of the walking around the stage. Still I really dig the explosive chorus of ‘La Mia Citta’ and I really liked Emma’s outfit and especially her attitude on stage. With better vocals, this would have been in my top 10, but I understand why she only managed to reach the 21st position.

17. Slovenia: Tinkara Kovac – Round and Round
Like I already mentioned in my review of the second semi final, I really like this song, but the performance was quite poor. Tinkara has a nice voice, but she does not really impress live and visually there was not much to it either. Seeing this between all the other countries, it just did not make any impression so I was quite sure the results would not be great. I even thought Slovenia would finish in 26th place, but 25th was close enough.

18. Finland: Softengine – Something Better
The young Finnish boys managed to give a great performance again. Maybe the vocals of the singer were even stronger on saturday night and their light show looked awesome once again. Their strong and catchy rock pop track was the only in its genre tonight so I already predicted they would get a decent result, but 11th was even better than I expected. They totally deserved it though, wit a very professional performance in all aspects. Moreover, their song is explosive, catchy and definitely makes an impression on its audience.

19. Spain: Ruth Lorenzo – Dancing In The Rain
Spain brought one of the best moments in this Eurovision for me. I absolutely love ‘Dancing In The Rain’ and it might even be my favourite song in this year’s contest. Ruth Lorenzo is a phenomenal singer, which she proved by basically belting for half of the song. Almost every note was pitch perfect and I loved it to bits. I was a bit afraid though, that her loud vocals would be too much for the average public, so I am really happy she made it to top 10 in the end. If it was up to me, she would have reached top 3, but overall, a great result for a great song. And can I just say that performance with the sound of raindrops and the rain projections looked perfect. Great job, Ruth, great job, Spain!

20. Switzerland: Sebalter – Hunter For Stars
After Ruth’s pipes blew everybody away, it was time for something completely different. Switzerland brought a handsome guy on stage with the cutest song of the year. A catchy whistle, an infectious chorus and quite a good vocal were good enough to bring them to position 13, which is a bit higher than I expected. I quite liked their song and the charming performer, so good for them!

21. Hungary: András Kállay-Saunders – Running
Hungary delivered another quality performance in the final. András knows how to perform the hell out of this song. His voice and stage presence are both impressive and the dance act really adds something to the performance. ‘Running’ is one of the most contemporary tracks in this contest with its drum and bass beats and the story behind the song about child abuse is very powerful as well. For a second during the results it looked like Hungary could win the contest, but a place in top 5 is great and totally deserved as well.

22. Malta: Firelight – Coming Home
Malta’s Firelight brought another decent performance of their song ‘Coming Home’. All vocalists on stage sounded perfect once again, although the visuals accompanying the show could have been better on this one. The performance looked a bit static and therefore did not make the impression on the audience it could have. Still, it was good to have them in the final, a thing they absolutely deserved, but I can imagine a 23rd position was a little disappointment for them.

23. Denmark: Basim – Cliche Love Song
Basim came on stage to perform in front of his very own audience in Copenhagen. His song is one of the most catchy in this contest, but at the same time, it might come across as a bit too simple. Basim and his dancers gave their all and the Bruno Mars-like song did quite well in the competition. Denmark was in the top 10 for another year, on the 9th spot. I would have never placed this song that high, but I can definitely understand why there is an audience for that. Nice enough performance of an extremely catchy song!

24. The Netherlands – The Common Linnets – Calm After The Storm
After the host country, it was time for my own. The Common Linnets did a mesmerizing performance of their song ‘Calm After The Storm’ once again. Their vocals blend together perfectly and they sing this little country pop ballad pitch perfect. Visually, this was just stunning. The first shots from above, the close ups, their smiles in the camera, the little looks they exchanged during the singing. I think a Dutch performance at Eurovision never looked better. If I am completely honest, I was not blown away by their song at first, like most of the Dutch people. From the beginning, I really liked it, but thought it was too calm for the contest. They proved me and everybody else wrong by literally being the calm after the storm in both the semi final and the final. So good to hear this song is loved by so many Europeans. This 2nd place is our best result since 1975!

25. San Marino: Valentina Monetta – Maybe
I don’t think many people expected San Marino to do very well in the final, as it was very surprising they passed from their semi to begin with. After the contest it turned out they finished 10th in the semi, with only 1 point more than Portugal. Valentina gave a good performance of her slightly outdated ‘Maybe’. Her vocals shined and she looked great on stage. I am glad she did not finish in last position, but I did not expect her to go higher than the lowest regions. I hope she still is happy after the 24th position, because it was great to have San Marino in the final in the end.

26. United Kingdom: Molly – Children of the Universe
This was for me the biggest disappointment when it comes to the results. A 17th position is way too low for this song and performance. I absolutely love the tone of Molly’s voice and she looked great. She came across very likeable and cute, but had enough attitude to sell this song well. Her vocals were pretty strong, although not perfect towards the end and maybe this is why the results for UK once again were lower than expected. I think ‘Children of the Universe’ is one of the best songs this year with a big chorus and melodically very strong bridges towards this chorus. I really hoped she would reach top 10, but I think there is a bright future for her anyway.

Now let’s all look forward to Vienna 2015 after a deserved win for the lovely Conchita Wurst!

Interview: Ruth Lorenzo: ‘The UK better give me those 12 points!’

Ruth Lorenzo EIC

Ruth Lorenzo had her first breakthrough when she finished fifth in X Factor UK in 2008. The singer started working on her own music after that and is now aiming for international success with a participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. She will be representing Spain with the powerful ballad ‘Dancing In The Rain’. I talked to Ruth about her connection to the United Kingdom, the big stage performance and her goal in this competition.

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Eurovision News 2014: Ruth Lorenzo for Spain, Sweden in final stages, new songs chosen

Ruth Lorenzo Spain Eurovision Dancing In The Rain

It’s February and that means that many European countries are about to decide which song and artist they will send to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the next few weeks I will pay attention to some of the national finals that will take place and write some reviews on the songs that will represent their country in Copenhagen in May. This week, Spain chose it’s contestant, Sweden is getting closer to the big final and Hungary, Iceland and others chose their contestants.

A few weeks ago I already wrote about the songs that were participating in the Spanish national final, stating that Brequette and Ruth Lorenzo were by far my favorites. It seems like I was not the only one with this opinion as it was already more than clear before the final started, that it would be a two horse race between the big voiced divas. Both gave decent performances of their mid-tempo tracks with powerful choruses. The vocal performances were not perfect but still nice enough to enjoy. The juries all gave their highest points to Brequette’s ‘Más’ while the public at home voted the most for Ruth Lorenzo’s ‘Dancing In The Rain’. Both singers finished with the same amount of points and at that point the televoting was seen as more important and therefore Ruth Lorenzo will represent Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. It is my favorite Eurovision entry this year so far and I think she can do really well in Copenhagen. She is capable of a good performance and her song is beautiful, current and catchy.

In Sweden they are getting close to the final stages of their national selection to choose a participant for Eurovision. All four heats of Melodifestivalen have passed and this saturday, the last two finalists will be added in the second chance round. In the third heat, Ace Wilder surprised by reaching the final directly, but I would say this was totally deserved. She might not be the best vocalist of the contest, but her song ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” is the best pop song Melodifestivalen has to offer this year. It’s modern, it’s current, it’s damn catchy and fun, somewhat like a mix between Ke$ha and Gwen Stefani. It is a pity that good songs like ‘Red’ by EKO and ‘Burning Alive’ by Shirley Clamp did not manage to get any further in the competition. The same goes for Linda Bengtzing and Josef Johansson in the fourth heat, that was rightfully won by Alcazar and Anton Ewald. Ewald was the big favorite before the competition started, but his vocal performance still is somewhat poor and ‘Natural’ is a nice and catchy track, but prefer last year’s ‘Begging’. Alcazar do what they have always been good at, which is of course campy disco pop. This saturday’s andra chansen round should be all about Helena Paparizou, who definitely deserves to reach the final and get a decent result there with the track ‘Survivor’. At this moment I would predict Sanna Nielsen to win the final which I would really like, but I would be happy with Ace Wilder or Ellen Benediktson as well. Strong final in Sweden this year as I like almost every song!

Ace Wilder Melodifestivalen Busy Doin' Nothin'

Hungary, Latvia and Poland
The Hungarian public chose the artist that will represent them in Eurovision last weekend. András Kállay-Saunders won the national selection A Dal with the song ‘Running’. The song is about child abuse and domestic violence which is of course a heavy theme, but luckily the song is not too sad and dreary. ‘Running’ is a current composition with interesting verses and a catchy chorus. The song has some drum & bass influences, but could be best described as modern pop. Strong entry from the Hungarians, absolutely one of the best songs chosen so far.
Latvia chose a song called ‘Bake a Cake’ and this actually says it all. Almost every year they end up at the bottom of the scoreboard and totally deserve that most of the time. It is not even news these days that they came up with another bloody awful song. One can only hope that one day they will take it seriously again and send in some decent track.
Poland sends one of the biggest hits in the country over the past few months to the contest. ‘Slavic Girls’ by Donatan and Cleo has already been viewed over 38 million times on YouTube. The song could be described as a mix of R&B hiphop and folk music. We have to wait and see if the rest of Europe will ‘get’ this as well, but it is always good to see a country making the effort to actually send a big hit to the contest. It might not be my cup of tea, but not a bad choice at all.

Eurovision News 2014: Sweden starts, Spain premieres, Finland and Switzerland select

Ellen Benediktson Melodifestivalen Songbird

February just started and that means that many European countries are about to decide which song and artist they will send to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the next few weeks I will pay attention to some of the national finals that will take place and write some reviews on the songs that will represent their country in Copenhagen in May. This weekend Sweden started off with their huge national final Melodifestivalen, Spain premiered their five songs and both Finland and Switzerland chose an entry.

Sweden: Melodifestivalen heat 1
The first heat of Melodifestivalen 2014 was always going to be a big event as last year’s runner up Yohio and former Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou both participated. Yohio performed his song ‘To The End’, which is in the same style as last year’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, but slightly better. No surprise that he made it to the final, although his vocals weren’t all that. I would have preferred to see Helena Paparizou in his spot in the final, but her power pop track ‘Survivor’ only made it to the second chance round. ‘Survivor’ is nowhere near Paparizou’s best songs, but it is a nice enough, catchy track and her performance, although a bit too stripped back, was powerful. Accompanying her to Andra Chansen, is Linus Svenning with his decent ballad and performance for his brother who passed away.

Helena Paparizou Melodifestivalen Survivor

Sylvester Schlegel deserved to end up in the last place with a song that did not go anywhere, accompanied by a poor performance. Mahan Moin’s ‘Aleo’ was not a bad track, although totally cliché Eurovision, but her visually and vocally weak performance killed all hope that was left for that track. Elisa Lindström’s song and performance were just outdated and Alvaro Estrella actually had a modern and funky song, but his weak vocals kind of ruined the potential. There was one young girl that did steal the show and that was Ellen Benediktson who managed to go directly to the final. Her ‘Songbird’ is a sweet little song with a captivating chorus. Her delivery is fragile, beautiful and endearing. My favourite in this year’s Melodifestivalen so far!

Spain: The songs
The Spanish broadcaster RTVE decided to put their five songs online that will compete in the national final. To be fair, all five songs are at least of a decent quality. Raúl’s ‘Seguir Sin Ti’ is an alright traditional ballad and Jorge González will try to win the Spanish votes with a slightly outdated, but still catchy slice of Spanish Eurovision pop. La Dama also tries to impress with a dancey up tempo track and although it is not a bad song, Spain has not been lucky with this type of music in Eurovision recently. If the Spanish people choose wisely, either Brequette or Ruth Lorenzo will go to Copenhagen. Ruth, who gained fame in the UK for participating in X Factor, sings the beautiful and current ballad ‘Dancing In The Rain’. The classy bilingual track showcases her vocals nicely. Brequette also sings in both English and Spanish on her power ballad ‘Run (Más)’. In comparison to Ruth’s track, Brequette’s song is a little more powerful and makes more of an impact on first listen. The chorus hits hard and is very memorable. Still I believe, both Ruth and Brequette could give Spain a nice result in the next Eurovision Song Contest.

Finland: Softengine to Copenhagen
While Sweden and Spain just started their national selections, Finland already chose their representative in a show on Saturday night. Pop/rock band Softengine managed to win the show with their track ‘Something Better’. It could be described as a big guitar pop song with a powerful chorus. The singer of the band manages to convince in a live setting as well. Still I cannot help but feel that this track misses an edge to really stand out between all the other countries in Denmark. In my honest opinion, Mikko Pohjola’s ‘Sängyn Reunalla’ that finished in second position, does have a little more personality and stands out a little better. The cute little song would definitely have done well with the juries. At the moment of writing this, Mikko’s song was at the first spot in the Finnish iTunes chart, while Softengine only placed at the sixth position.

Switzerland: Sebalter wins
Switzerland decided to send Sebalter to Eurovision with his song ‘Hunter Of Stars’. The song is catchy but the whistling is border on annoying and the performance at the national final looks quite amateurish. I kind of get the feeling that the song is going nowhere and the performance just does not come across well on screen. It could well be that Switzerland makes the same mistake as last year, when the catchy but clumsy ‘You And Me’ by Takasa did not make it to the final.

Introducing: Ruth Lorenzo / Single Review: Love Is Dead

Ruth Lorenzo cover

Ruth Lorenzo launches solo career five years after X Factor

In 2008, Ruth Lorenzo was a contestant in the live shows of the British X Factor. The singer, mentored by Dannii Minogue, survived a sing off against favourite Laura White (who recently released new material as well) and finished in the fifth place, thanks to powerful renditions of ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’, ‘Angels’ and ‘No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)’. Lorenzo is now launching a solo career in Britain with her new single ‘Love Is Dead’.

The Spanish-born Ruth Lorenzo was the singer of a rock band and tried her luck in a Spanish talent show, but she had her breakthrough when she made it to the top 5 of X Factor, losing out to Alexandra Burke, JLS and Diana Vickers. She took her time to work on solo material and released the single ‘Burn’ in Spain in 2011. Earlier this year, she released her first single in the UK, called ‘The Night’. The melodic pop/rock style of this song suits her voice perfectly. ‘The Night’ has a powerful and memorable chorus and the verses are exciting and captivating. It is a shame that the song was not picked up by radio stations in order to achieve a respectable chart position, but on the 1st of December, she tries again with the release of the new single ‘Love Is Dead’.

‘Love Is Dead’ is a big, powerful and dramatic ballad. The song could be described as pop, but with a few hints of rock thanks to the omnipresent guitars and it has a bit of a gothic feel, because of the dark sound and lyrics. Once again, Ruth proves that her strong voice is made for this type of big and dramatic songs. ‘Love Is Dead’ starts out small with only piano and Ruth’s voice, but at that point it already breathes an ominous atmosphere. By the time of the chorus, guitars kick in and Lorenzo tells a story about a lost love, in dark and heavy wordings: “Love is dead, numb like a beat-less drum, no one else can give it life, mourn till dawn, but forever I’ll sing this song.” Ruth gives a convincing and emotional performance of this heavy story. I hope she can get a hit this time around, because with ‘The Night’ and ‘Love Is Dead’, Lorenzo proves she is a worthy pop star with great songs and undeniable vocal talent.