Tuesday, March 12, 2013

With Great Expectations, Anouk's "Birds" Won't Deliver

Picture from eurovision.tv

Approaching a decade of failing to get into the Final, the Netherlands invest this year on an established and well-respected artist, Anouk, who has seen great commercial success in the Netherlands and Belgium. Today, Anouk revealed in entirety her song "Birds." You can listen to "Birds" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evv2SXOOWWk. The bookies catapulted this to the top five. But, Swedish producer Tore Johnsson's scathing yet realistic prediction on "Birds" may be all too foreshadowing on how the Netherlands will do this May in Malmö.

The Song

Picture: Anouk.tv

"Birds" deviates from the routine of tongue-in-cheek, brainwash-inducing, and head-slamming-against-the-wall pop. One major strength is the artistic songwriting, though rarely a crucial factor in Eurovision. The songs lyrics seems like an allegory with birds acting as a metaphor for someone whose hurt, unhopeful, and struggling to get back up. Beyond the lyrics, the song's structure is not your typical five-note bubblegum pop. Some reviewers cite influences of Adele and Lana Del Rey, but I hear slight subtleties of French singers such as Edith Piaf's "La vie en rose" and Patricia Kaas's "Et s'il fallout le faire." Overall, the song has an old-fashion classiness mired in mystery.

However, the song is a departure from an edgy, rough-on-the-edges, and raw sound Anouk gave the Netherlands for the past fifteen years. Edith Piaf's intangible captivation and Patricia Kass's drama are severely lacking in "Birds," desperately needed to elevate the song. As I take multiple listens, there was a lack of a crescendo-like build up that would make a song with mysterious and dark lyrics feel mysterious and dark. So what do I feel after listening to "Birds" multiple times? It would be a nice substitute to percocet and vicodin.

"Birds" along with several other songs from her upcoming album, "Sad Singalong Songs," show a rather tamed, subdued, and dulled sound for the rocker. Dutch music critics may praise Anouk for finding a new sound and discovering new dimensions to her unique voice. But, when put on the stage watched by hundreds of millions of ordinary and clueless Europeans, what defined her then and now as an artist does not matter. The song is too mature and too complex for the Eurovision audience. This is when we all should anticipate for failure and not success.

Be Prepared For Disappointment

Eurovision can become fairly predictable if you can spot the patterns. It has been a pattern for the past few years that at least one of the frontrunners, as perceived by the bookies, flop so badly that it makes Hera Björk's pool dive in her "Je Ne Sais Quoi" music video worthy of an olympic medal. For example, in 2011, we clearly didn't care when Kati Wolf belted "What About My Dreams?" In 2012, we all should have known better that Denmark's Soluna Samay had no shot competing against Loreen, Buranovskiye Babushki, and Željko Joksimović.

After losing their retirement savings from betting on YOHIO for Melodifestivalen, the bookies are at it again putting Anouk in the top five in betting odds to win in Malmö. To the bookies - stop sniffing the skunk-like air from the Netherlands and consuming those magic brownies. I would not bet on The Netherlands this year. I predict Anouk's "Birds" will be this year's "hype-to-flop," possibly breaking the Netherland's semifinal curse but at best, ending up around 15th to 20th place.

ESCritic's Rating: 4.7/10

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