Are you ready to rumble, NF-watchers? You’re going to have to be (says someone who’s far from being ready herself) – because the first of February’s four Super Saturdays is upon us!
Tonight is just one example of why the word ‘February’ is often paired with the word ‘frantic’ when Eurovision fans are conversing. If you want proof, a) you’re very demanding, and b) here it is, in the form of this evening’s epic programme of events:
- Finland’s UMK – the first semi final
- Hungary’s A Dal – the third quarter final
- Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin – the first semi final
- Lithuania’s Eurovizijos – the fifth show (of approximately five hundred)
- Sweden’s Melodifestivalen – the first semi final (*screams*)
- Ukraine’s Irritatingly Untitled Selection Process – the first semi final
Basically, there are a lot of firsts, a third and a fifth on this particular Saturday. Plus, there’s the kickoff of Latvia’s Supernova to look forward to tomorrow night, featuring Samanta ‘I’ll Still Be Attempting To Represent Latvia When I’m Dead’ Tina, and a song composed by none other than pocket rocket Aminata. These are busy times, y’all. What exactly do other people do on the weekends?
I can’t answer that, but I can tell you what I’m about to do, right here, right now: talk semis. Reviewing, ranking and predicting NFs is practically mandatory at this time of year, but I’m currently unable to go too in-depth (what with work/Stockholm prep/life in general keeping me otherwise occupied). So I’m limiting myself to the most appealing semis on this occasion – and for me, that’s those from Finland, Ukraine and Sweden. So let’s get on with criticising and complimenting what’s on offer from those countries on Super Saturday numero uno, shall we?
Finland: OMG, it’s UMK!
Okay, I’ll level with you…UMK isn’t a huge drawcard for me come NF season. While Melodifestivalen is my pinnacle of the period, feat. about ten hits to every miss, UMK = about five hits to five misses, each and every year – but that’s just due to my musical taste, I guess. Still, it’s always an interesting final to follow. This first semi has proven no different. Here are the competitors for this evening:
- Thief by Clemso
- Draamaa by Eini
- Evil Tone by Mikko Herranen
- Shamppanjataivas by Pää-Äijät
- No Fear by Saara Aalto
- Ain’t Got Time For Boys by Stella Christine
Only half of the artists/songs above will remain in the running to represent Finland after tonight. That’s the kind of culling I admire (as opposed to the Malta-esque, more or less pointless kind), but when it comes to 50:50, I’m bound to make the wrong decision. So I want to emphasise that there’s a very clear divide between my personal favourites in Finland so far, and those I’m predicting to qualify.
My top three Thief, Draamaa and Shamppanjataivas. Yes, I’m serious. Thief is the type of laid-back (so much so it’s comatose), tropically-influenced R & B that I love when it emerges from somewhere in Europe, so Clemso would have my vote…you know, if I could vote. Draamaa is very catchy, and I enjoy the eighties vibe of it. It also sounds super-cool with Finnish lyrics (IT’S SUCH A MAGICAL LANGUAGE). And Shamppanjataivas…ugh, I know I shouldn’t like it. But it’s fun, and a little silly, and Pää-Äijät wear those brilliant sunglasses in the music video. I wonder if there’s any of those for sale on eBay?
Which three are going through, though? Draamaa, Shamppanjataivas and No Fear. I really dislike Saara Aalto’s song, but everyone else seems to think it’s the baboon’s bollocks, so No Fear should be a safe bet (I just hope to heck it doesn’t win the whole show). Draamaa, if it’s well performed live, is my credible choice. Shamppanjataivas is my not-so-credible choice, because remember Ostarilla?
Those are my thoughts. How about you – are U into UMK? Who should make it out of this first semi, and who should be sent packing?
Ukraine: They’re back, and bringing it big time!
Well, well, well! Doesn’t this make the Belarusian NF line-up look/sound even worse than it was when it took place?
That’s the impression I get, having listened to as many of the below semi-finalists as I could find without putting in any effort whatsoever (it’s been a long week, and I am beyond scouring lower than the surface of the internet for anything).
- I Am Free Now by Anastasia Prikhodko
- Helpless by The Hardkiss
- Tin Whistle by Tonya Matvienko
- I’m Insane by Vladislav Kurasov
- Hold Me by Lavika
- 1944 by Jamala
- Inner Power by Aida Nikolaychuk
- Never Again by Svetlana Tarabarova
- Every Monday by Brunettes Shoot Blondes
At first glance, the names in this semi-final are the more underwhelming out of Ukraine’s two semis (what with the second installment including NeAngely and Victoria Petryk). Even with Russian ESC alumni Anastasia in the mix. But ermahgerd, guys…there’s some GREAT stuff in here. In my opinion, of course.
Only three of the nine (yes, I agree, that’s way too few) will qualify to the final. Here’s the trio I’d most like to see advance, based on what I’ve heard so far:
- Helpless The Hardkiss are the pre-show favourites, and they’ve got the goods to back that status up. Helpless isn’t my top pick of the semi, but it’s excellent – unique, unpredictable, far from formulaic, and totally devoid of eye-rolling Eastern European melodrama. Alt-pop, meet your new role model.
- I’m Insane A song title like this doesn’t exactly garner great expectations. But I do love a good man-ballad (so long as it’s minus the melodrama I just referred to) and this one is served with no cheese – not a good thing when it comes to food, but definitely a good thing when we’re talking music.
- 1944 Back in 2011, Jamala’s Smile contorted my face into anything but what the title promised. I didn’t dig it at all. But 1944? Well, it’s incredible. Different to her previous effort in every way, it’s mysterious, edgy and haunting. I think it’s something Ukraine should seriously consider sending to Stockholm.
But since when did anything in this department go completely in my desired direction? I’ll give you a hint: NEVER.
So, which songs are actually going to get somewhere? Helpless, Inner Power and Every Monday. Granted, I haven’t clapped ears on Every Monday, but it just sounds like the kind of thing that would progress. I don’t rate Anastasia’s chances with her dreary power ballad, so I’m putting my prediction eggs in the baskets of The Hardkiss (obviously) and Aida Nikolaychuk (there’s a promising snippet of her song online) instead. Jamala is the act I most want to make it, but with just those teensy three spots available in the final, the odds are against her. Still, I’m hoping that she’ll go through given that I’ve discounted her (my powers of anti-prediction are second to none. What I say doesn’t go!).
Which songs/artists do you think deserve those three tickets tonight? Can any of the first semi final participants top Ukraine’s result recorded during their last Eurovision trip in 2014?
Sweden: Melodifestivalen kicks off with a semi, live from the Scandinavium!
FYI: I am aware that Sweden comes before Ukraine alphabetically…but I HAD to save the best until last. So get over it.
HOLY HOTPANTS, IT’S MELFEST TIME!!! SOMEBODY SLAP ME!!!
Melfest really IS the best (it rhymes, so it must be true). The greatest NF on Earth is coming to you live from Göteborg tonight, and it’s been drama-filled already, thanks to a very un-Sweden-like scandal.
Ja, we must all take a moment to bow our heads on behalf of Anna Book, who was disqualified from competing this week after her entry Himmel För Två was revealed as the Swedish version of an entry from the 2014 Moldovan final. Oops. SVT’s got to be embarrassed about that oversight. They have tried to lessen Anna’s trauma by allowing her to perform as a guest tonight, but that could just be awkward as heck – we’ll see.
If she hadn’t been given the boot at the last second, here are the six acts Anna would be battling against:
- Bada Nakna by Samir & Viktor
- Mitt Guld by Pernilla Andersson
- Ain’t No Good by Mimi Werner
- Rik by Albin & Mattias
- Constellation Prize by Robin Bengtsson
- Don’t Worry by Ace Wilder
Based on the content of this inaugural semi, this edition of Melfest is going to be better than Sweden’s last post-win program in 2013, so that’s a relief. But I do feel we haven’t heard the best stuff yet. With Ace Wilder performing in the plum position, we may have heard Sweden’s Eurovision 2016 entry, however. Would I be happy if that were the case? Find out in the next sentence or so.
My favourite four Bada Nakna, Rik, Constellation Prize and Don’t Worry. Ace’s song is actually my favourite *gasp*. I love the mix of retro styles that somehow manages to be completely contemporary. I just worry (ironically, given how many times Miss Wilder told me not to) that her weak live vocals will drag it down. I can’t help my affection for Samir & Viktor, despite Bada Nakna being inferior to all of their previous releases – they’re too much fun. Rik is a bit too repetitive and not as awesome as what I expected to come out of an Albin/Mattias partnership, but I love them as a duo so much, I’m willing to ignore the song’s flaws. And Constellation Prize has a heap going for it, including a catchy harmonica riff. I think it might go further than many other fans do.
So, who’s going direkt? Bada Nakna and Don’t Worry. Samir & Viktor are going to open the show with a bang and with their torsos on display (obvs) and I think all of the app-users are going to lose their collective minds. Assuming the app works this year, I think popularity will push them through. Ace Wilder will win this semi by a landslide though, no doubt. Don’t Worry is the clear standout, and her story of defeat by Sanna is still relevant. Girl is back with a bang, and will be advancing even if she sings like a strangled street cat (like she normally does).
And who’s off to Andra Chansen? Ain’t No Good and Constellation Prize. Country music is often well received at Melfest, and Mimi has a toe-tapping fusion of country and pop to offer that has its audience, I reckon. Constellation Prize should really go direkt, but I think it will slip back into third based on the lack of abs, pecs, and general affable douchebaggery on display in Robin’s performance.
What about the others? Rik 5th, Mitt Guld 6th. Somebody has to lose, and I think Pernilla’s song is too sleepy not to. Rik will struggle to squeeze into the top four.
Honestly, I could be here all night long chopping and changing my predictions. But that wouldn’t be very entertaining for you, would it? What will be entertaining, I’m sure, is the level of my incorrectness. Will we be wrong together, or do you have a different take on what Melfest’s results have in store for us tonight? Let me know below.
I’m going to have to say a speedy ‘Catch you on the flip side, peeps!’ (apparently I have morphed into a fourteen-year-old boy from 1999) now, as I need a nap before tuning into Melfest at THREE FREAKING A.M. my time. It’s worth it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to complain about it.
Whether you’ll be glued to the SVT stream (in which case I might see you on Twitter for some fun times) or you’re opting to check out the action in Finland or Ukraine, etc, enjoy. But don’t have too much of a good time. This is only the start of the Super Saturdays – you need to conserve your energy!
Happy viewing (and pre-show predicting).
Objetivo Eurovisión: Of Spain’s select six, who should stay (at home) and who should go (to Stockholm)?
It’s the last day of January, and you know what that means!
Well, I’m assuming you know what that means.
Just in case you don’t, it means that national final season is about to take over all of our lives, and cause us to suffer from hair loss and heart palpitations as we struggle endlessly to keep up with all of the pan-European (and Australian) action on the calendar – particularly on Saturday nights.
We wouldn’t want it any other way, would we?
February’s first NF will be brought to us courtesy of Spain – on the first, fittingly. Tomorrow night, three guys and three girls will fight, matador-style (that’s how it works, right?) for their right to represent their country at Eurovision. Once there, the winner will have to pull off a performance that makes everyone forget the so-OTT-it-was-laughable stage show we witnessed in Vienna via Edurne. It’s a tough task, but somebody has to undertake it.
Mark my words where this final is concerned: it’s going to be pretty awesome. This is Objetivo Eurovisión!
For once, I can say ‘VIVA LA SPAGNA!’ with genuine enthusiasm, because this six-strong national final is packed with potential ESC success. There isn’t a bad song in the bunch – although some, in my opinion, are better than others (I’ll specify which in a second).
Here are the entries Spain has to select from, in running order:
- Un Mundo Mas Feliz by Maverick
- Say Yay! by Barei
- Victorious by Xuso Jones
- Días de Alegria by Salvador Beltrán
- La Vida Sólo Es Una by María Isabel
- Now by Electric Nana
It’s quite the variety show, with traditionally Spanish tracks sitting alongside electro-pop, pop-rock, and a dance-banger or two. The most talked-about names initially were those associated with the latter genre – Xuso Jones, who’s backed by a Swedish songwriting superpower; and María Isabel, who has a Junior Eurovision victory to her name, and has many wondering if she could do the double if sent to the adult contest. But it’s Barei who has risen in the ranks of the Spanish iTunes charts, topping them a few days ago. Does that tell us everything we need to know re: tomorrow’s results? Are underdogs Maverick, Salvador and Electric Nana completely out of contention? Time, as always will tell.
Something I can tell you in the meantime is what I think of the six songs. Quick, prepare yourselves for a mini-ranking!
- #1 La Vida Sólo Es Una It could be my unconditional love for her Junior winner Antes Muerta Que Sencilla talking…or my eternal excitement at the possibility of another former JESC participant graduating to the ESC. Either (or neither) way, I love this! It’s quintessentially Spanish without perpetuating a stereotype, and fulfils all of the ethno-pop fantasies I’ve had during the last few Eurovisions sans a significant amount of said ethno-pop. Oh, and it’s very catchy. That’s often all I ask for in a Eurovision entry.
- #2 Un Mundo Mas Feliz This one is a bit more stereotypically Spanish – but what’s wrong with that *says the Australian*? I don’t think anybody else is as big of a fan of Maverick as I am in this context, music-wise or aesthetics-wise (though at 24, I can’t seem to fancy his 19-year-old self without feeling like a creepy cougar). Un Mundo makes me feel good, and that can’t be bad. It’s sunny and trumpety and tropical, and I want to flamenco my ass off to it. Anyone who wants to join me is welcome. Olé!
- #3 Victorious As someone who frowns upon countries conducting their ESC entry shopping in the Cookie Cutter aisle of the Swedish Songs Sure To Succeed In Certain Contests Supermarket (*takes much needed breath*) I should hate Victorious, which is as derivative as heck and was co-penned by Peter Böstrom of Euphoria (and Amanecer) fame. The token Spanish lyrics, enforced in this NF, also annoy me. But…THIS IS BRILLIANT. The chorus is killer, and no other song in this comp has one so instant. If Xuso was victorious, I wouldn’t mind at all.
- #4 Say Yay! Though it’s far from being my favourite, the only thing I dislike about this song is its title, which makes it sound like it belongs on a Best of Hi-5 album (if you’re Australian, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, good luck). That aside, it’s verging on being something special. Barei has a cool, Sia-like catch in her voice which adds interest to an already interesting, multi-faceted song that’s unlike anything Spain has ever sent to Eurovision before. I’d be curious to see what transpired if they did so in 2016.
- #5 Días de Alegria I desperately wanted to see Pablo Alborán in this NF, and obviously, my wish wasn’t granted. But Salvador, who appears to be the love child of Pablo and Christos Mylordos, is a semi-decent substitute. I’m undecided on the formulaic beginning of Días de Alegria – do I like it? Is it too predictable? I don’t know. But then things ramp up, the chorus kicks in and I know I’m enjoying what I’m listening to.
- #6 Now My least favourite of the lot is still a perfectly competent, well-written number. It’s just that pop-rock isn’t usually a genre I enjoy, even when it’s in such a contemporary form. I think this is too much of a plateau song to give Spain a good chance of hitting any Eurovision heights, but it would still be an entry they could be proud of.
So, sí. Those are my thoughts. All in all, this is the strongest Spanish final I’ve been around to experience, and I’m psyched that Spain will end up with what I perceive to be a very good (worst case) or epic (best case) entry for Eurovision 2016, no matter what.
But what do I actually think is going to go down? I know you’re ridiculously keen to find out.
Is anyone there?
Who WILL win Barei. Or Xuso. Or María. Just…one of those three, okay?!? I don’t want to call Barei as an obvious winner based purely on Spain’s iTunes stats, especially because the Spanish public only has a 40% say in the outcome of Objetivo (a jury and a panel of experts share the remaining 60%). Still, the people have clearly staked a claim on her entry as one they prefer. And Say Yay! does give off triumphant vibes (not to be confused with Un Mundo Mas Feliz’ trumpet vibes). But…so does Victorious. Xuso would be a safer, more secure choice than Barei, but I’m not sure how willing Spain is to be represented by something so un-Spanish – mandatory Espanol pre-chorus aside (TVE are clearly NOT willing to toss all Spanish-ness in the trash). I do think María has a decent shot here too, due in part to her status as a previous Eurovision event winner. But again, wishful thinking might be clouding my judgment on this one. Much of what happens across the board depends on the live performances we witness from the six, so we’ll have to wait and see who’s truly winning material, I guess.
Who SHOULD win This depends on what Spain want to achieve in Stockholm. If they’d rather send something relatively safe, that has the goods to get them out of the gutter (i.e. as far from the bottom of the scoreboard as possible), then Xuso is probably their best bet. If they want to take a risk that may or may not pay off (following in Belgium and Latvia’s 2015 footsteps) they should send Barei. If they don’t want to upset me – and let’s face it, that’s the population of Spain’s first priority – they should send María or Maverick. So which is it, amigos?
As Electric Nana might say, Now it’s time for you to have your say. But I’m not going to ask you to pick your predicted or personal winner. Instead, I want to know:
There. All you can do now is sit back, relax, and see if your advice is taken.
However, if you’re itching to reveal your Objetivo rankings or predictions, head south to the comments section and reveal away! While you’re doing that, I’ll be Googling churro recipes, determining if eighteen different tapas dishes is too many for one person, and finding the most comfortable viewing position for tomorrow night (if you’re reading this on Sunday)/tonight (if you’re reading this on Monday)/tomorrow morning (if you’re in an Aussie-esque time zone).
PS – I have to take a moment to say farewell to the legend that is Mr. Eurovision (no, not that one…the OTHER Mr. Eurovision). Sir Terry Wogan passed away today aged 77, in what is the latest in a string of famous deaths none of us saw coming. He didn’t always take the ESC as seriously as some of us do, but that was part of his charm. Also appealing was his unwavering loyalty towards the contest – his voice eventually becoming synonymous with the BBC broadcast of the show. For that, and for so much more, I salute him. RIP, Terry.
Hej there! With a brief break between semi allocation draws, slogan/logo (slogo?) announcements and national finals upon us, there’s finally time for me to continue the countdown of my favourite Melfest entries ever…excluding all editions of the show between 1959 and 2005. As I mentioned in part one, narrowing the possible picks down to those performed within a ten-year period is hard enough – there’s no way I was going to put myself (or you) through the ordeal of compiling an all-time Top 50. So here we are, at the penultimate point of my 2006-2015 version: #30-#11.
Once again, I’ve made a playlist of all the tracks featured below, if you want to check that out. If you just want some method to justify the madness, then read on as I reveal…
#30 | Där Och Då Med Dig by Emelie Irewald (2015) This one flew under the radar at Melodifestivalen 2015, finishing in an unfortunate sixth place in the second semi. That was unsurprising when you consider that the main talking point of the entry, pre-show, was Emelie’s status as ex-girlfriend of Danny Saucedo (perhaps association with him is a bad luck charm? BREAK THE CURSE, MOLLY SANDÉN!). Even I was more interested in that gossip than the possibility that her song could be anything special. But come performance time, failure to qualify and all, Där Och Då Med Dig (There and Then With You) had me hypnotised. Haunting, melancholy in an intriguing manner and refreshingly subdued, it left a real impression on me – even though I was yet to Google Translate the lyrics at that point (if you haven’t, spoiler alert: they’re heartbreaking).
#29 | The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite (2012)
#28 | Temple of Love by BWO (2006) Now we’re getting vintage (according to the parameters of this list, at least)! BWO had many a shot at representing Sweden at Eurovision – four, to be exact. But Temple of Love was the song that resulted in their most successful attempt. I’m in total agreement with that stat, because I reckon it was by far their best entry of the lot. It’s not lyrically substantial, á la Emelie’s song, but that’s not what BWO do best. Schlager-influenced dance bangers that get butts moving are their forte, and Temple of Love is nothing if not one of those. It’s up-tempo, infectious and a ton of fun – not to mention epic to sing along to when you may or may not be a teeny bit drunk (don’t ask me how I know that).
#27 | Like Suicide by Christian Walz (2011)
#26 | Alla by Sofia (2009) Melodifestivalen 2012 would bring us traditional Greek sounds combined with Swedish-language lyrics in the form of OPA!’s Allting Blir Bra Igen…but back in ’09, we got Greek on Greek – with some rock thrown in for good measure – from Sofia (who is Swedish, but just has a thing for Greece. As an Australian with a thing for Sweden, I ain’t gonna pass judgment). And, pardon the pun, this song really does rock. I love how high-intensity it is, how much energy it whips up despite being mid-tempo, and how great the Greek (as odd as it was to hear in the Melfest line-up) sounds over music that’s traditional-meets-modern. Sofia comes across as the ultimate power woman when she belts out the anthem that is Alla, and I want to join the army that I assume she started up back then. How does ‘Private Jaz, reporting for duty!’ sound?
#25 | Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder (2014)
#24 | Baby Goodbye by EMD (2009) You guys know how much I love boy bands – so, when the swarthy Swedish trio known individually as Erik, Mattias and Danny hit up Melfest, I was in my element. Featuring the success guarantee that is whistling, a thumping mid-tempo beat, and a structure that allows each member of the group to have a solo moment, Baby Goodbye sums up everything that was great about Melodifestivalen as the 2000s drew to a close. It’s slick, catchy, a little retro, and boasts the kind of killer chorus that can make you forget you’ve heard plenty of similar songs in the past (because you’re so focused on singing along enthusiastically, you can’t think about anything else).
#23 | Better Or Worse by Julia Alvgard (2011)
#22 | Empty Room by Sanna Nielsen (2008) Six years and two further entries away from FINALLY representing Sweden at Eurovision, Sanna had a crack with what is arguably one of the best ballads ever associated with…well, anyone or anything (yes, I am prone to exaggeration). The Rapunzel-esque hairdo didn’t do our girl many favours, but nobody tackles an emotional, piano-driven, heartstring-tugger like she does. Dressed in the post-breakup colour of choice and relying on nothing but her pipes to impress, Sanna sang her way to second place with a song that is just as dynamic – and just as effective as a vehicle for her voice – as Undo. Do I prefer Empty Room to Undo, then? Well, you’ll have to wait and see. I will say that it is, without doubt, up there with the best of her seven entries.
#21 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt (2012)
#20 | Echo by Outtrigger (2014) Yes, you read that right. Hard rock is hard to come by in Melfest, but when it does make an appearance, I tend to gravitate towards it like a moth to an aggressive, head-banging flame. This song allows me to let out all of my frustrations, which include but are not limited to La Voix making it to the ESC in 2009, and people being mad at Sweden for winning the contest last year instead of being mad at the scoring system. But Echo isn’t just three minutes of screaming and general noise – there is a cracking tune that accompanies all of the guitar-shredding. Rock on (a phrase only uttered by people who do not do so on a regular basis)!
#19 | Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone (2015)
#18 | Efter Solsken by Panetoz (2014) I love Panetoz’ Melfest debut for the same reason I love their first major hit Dansa Pausa – because it’s what sunshine and happiness and rainbows would sound like if they went on a vacation together to a tropical island. Everything about this track makes me smile, from the irresistible beat, to how adorable Swedish sounds layered over it. Sometimes I like my music to be deep and meaningful and angst-ridden; but when I don’t, I turn to stuff like this and think to myself ‘Hakuna matata!’. The fun and escapist nature of this group’s music makes me very excited to hear their entry for 2016.
#17 | Keep On Walking by Salem Al Fakir (2010)
#16 | My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen (2011) Record-breaking, game-changing Euphoria has already made it onto this list, which may surprise you whether you’d forgotten or not. That’s right – I have a higher regard for the song that initially introduced us to Loreen (assuming we missed the 2004 season of Idol Sverige) than her Melfest/Eurovision winning one…though I love them both. I think MHIRM is a little more interesting and a little less straightforward (genre-wise) than Euphoria. It seamlessly blends elements of electro, dance and disco music to produce something that is poppy, but has a definite edge. And you’ve got to give props to Loreen for pulling off the ‘I stopped by Sesame Street, skinned a Muppet and am now wearing it as a coat’ trend.
#15 | Try Again by Dilba (2011)
#14 | In The Club by Danny Saucedo (2011) I’ve always thought that Mr. Molly Sandén tried too hard to win on his second solo shot at Melfest – meaning that Amazing, while impressive, didn’t 110% live up to its title. I much prefer Danny’s first foray in the comp without the E and the M of EMD by his side. Not only did In The Club perfectly illustrate how the guy can sing and dance simultaneously without letting one or both skills suffer as a result (not something you can say about his vanquisher Eric Saade) but it also had super crowd-pumping power. Unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of moonwalking to this in a club (Swedish pop>mindless trance, but too few playlist programmers are aware of that). However, I have done it up and down each hallway in my house, and it was an awesome party for one, let me tell you! #tragicandiknowit
#13 | This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (2010)
#12 | Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandèn (2012) I’ll keep this short and sweet, since I’ve already professed my love for WAIC in a Melfest Monday post. Molly’s one of many returnees to the Swedish NF this year, and she’s going to have to go above and beyond to equal the magnificence of Why Am I Crying? I’m confident she can do it, what with her recent releases being the bomb and all. But I’ll always have a room in my heart rented out to her 2012 entry, due to its display of emotional fragility AND strength, touches of tinkling piano, and steady build to an explosive final chorus well worth waiting for.
#11 | Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015)
The Melodifestivalen/Eurovision reigning champ brings us to the end of this Scanditastic™ episode of the countdown, sadly (or not, depending on the level of enjoyment you derived from reading my ramblings). The most important installment is still to come, and it won’t be immediately – there’s some NF nattering to do first. So, to save all of your fingernails from being bitten off in suspense, I’ll drop some hints about my Top 10. Guess some or all of the featured songs/acts, and I’ll honour you with your own personal round of applause!
- The Top 10 features Melfest entries from 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. More specifically, two from 2010; four from 2012; one from 2013; and three from 2014.
- Two bands are included – one all male, the other all female. They’ve got VERY different sounds, but they’re both instrumentally inclined. My top 3, however, is made up purely of soloists.
- Two Melfest winners – and therefore, Eurovision entries – made the final cut.
- How my Top 10 placed (if they made it to their respective finals): #10 = 9th, #9 = 7th, #8 = 1st, #7 = DNQ, #6 = DNQ, #5 = 1st, #4 = 5th, #3 = 3rd, #2 = DNQ, #1 = 4th
Now’s the time for you to prep your own Melfest Top 10, if you’re keen on counting down with me. If you’re extra, EXTRA keen, I välkommen your #30-#11 lists in the comments below. Do we have any picks in common, or am I the only one with decent taste in music?
JK. I have terrible taste in music. And I’m totally okay with that.
See you sometime before Spain make their selection for Stockholm!
Overnight, three have become four. And four will have become five by this time tomorrow. You might think I’m referring to the formation of the Spice Girls, but it’s actually the Class of (Eurovision) 2016 that I’m talking about – it’s beginning to fill up, people! Belarus has chosen a song that’s destined to do worse than their latest Junior Eurovision entry, and Malta is about to do the same – so let’s have a debrief re: both.
WARNING: Ira Losco’s name appears a LOT in the latter part of this post. If you’re not an admirer of hers, you might want to avert your eyes.
Ivan a do-over…Belarus opt for Alexander Ivanov’s Help To Fly, dropping jaws in the process
Well, that result dropped my jaw, anyway – I can’t speak for the rest of you (mainly because my chin is still stuck to the floor, weighed down by a momentous amount of shock). My first major fail of national final season has arrived early, because I did NOT see Alexander ‘Ivan’ Ivanov’s Help To Fly (as it’s now known) as a potential winner in Belarus. I can say with confidence that it won’t be considered a potential winner in Stockholm, and I don’t expect it to outdo the last song sung by an Eastern European dude with long blonde locks that will be swished from side to side hypnotically but not hypnotically enough.
I just…don’t get this decision. Sure, Ivan has a decent live voice, but his song is a big pile of nothingness in my opinion (with an annoying chorus buried in it). It would take a giant glass box, an army of cartoon stick men, sixteen costume changes and a wind machine firing on all cylinders to even give it a chance of qualifying to the Eurovision final *she says, reserving the right to change her mind and assuming you won’t mock her if Belarus miraculously win the contest in May*.
Having said that, I think Belarus would have struggled to advance no matter what they’d chosen this year (in case you missed yesterday’s mini-rant, I was hardly impressed with what the country had to offer us, overall). I stand by my reckoning that Kirill’s Running To The Sun would have given them a semi-decent shot – but, at the end of the day, it’s a begrudging ‘Congratulations!’ that goes to Ivan and nobody else. Help To Fly is no Cheesecake (what is?) but I wish it the best of luck anyway…and I will try and muster up some smidgen of desire to see it performed live. Either that, or I’ll just use Belarus’ performance as my much-needed toilet break time.
Will you be heading off to the bathroom or the bar when it’s their turn to take on Eurovision 2016? Or does their latest entry rock your socks?
The Maltese final countdown: Is MESC 2016 Ira Losco’s to lose?
I wouldn’t say she’s a shoo-in to win, but Ira probably has the edge in the small group of fierce females who are still, realistically, in contention after last night’s semi. Ira’s That’s Why I Love You was booted last night (as per the rules, one of her entries had to be sacrificed at this stage), alongside the songs from Danica, Dario, Domenique (it was not a good night for the Ds), Sarah Crystal and Stefan (or, for that matter, the Ss). That means that I somehow managed to correctly predict 4 of the 6 non-qualifiers yesterday, which kind of makes up for my mishap with Belarus.
It’s time to make some more predictions already, with Malta’s list of Eurovision hopefuls down to “just” fourteen. In mere hours, only one act will remain. Who will it be? If it isn’t Ira, I mean.
- All Around The World by Deborah C
- Little Love by Franklin
- Under The Sun by Daniel Testa
- Golden by Brooke
- Flashing Lights by Raquel Galdes
- Kingdom by Christabelle
- Falling Glass by Corazon
- Fire Burn by Dominic
- The Flame by Jessika
- Alive by Jasmine Abela
- You’re Beautiful by Lawrence Gray
- Young Love by Maxine Pace
- Chameleon by Ira Losco
- Lighthouse by Kim
Okay – clearly, Ira is the fan favourite here. But with an overwhelming majority of the power in the hands of Malta’s (hopefully) esteemed jurors tonight, she does have a fight on her hands. I’d be happy to see her back in the ESC after all this time – especially if she has another glitter pouch stuffed in her jumpsuit – but how high is she in my MESC top 5? Find out right now (I know you were dying from the suspense…).
- #1 | Chameleon Yep. Sorry for being Miss Predictable, but despite this song being a bit of a mish-mash and failing to reach either its own potential or Ira’s, there’s something powerful about it. The chorus in particular is very catchy and very instant.
- #2 | Falling Glass I hated Corazon’s last MESC entry with a passion, but she pleasantly surprised me with this one. Falling Glass is a two-part song that doesn’t suffer from Crisalide Syndrome – i.e. it actually works well as a ballad and a dance track, and transitions from one genre to the other without any speed bumps.
- #3 | All Around The World I know, I know! This is cheesy, clichéd, and something the Spice Girls wouldn’t have touched in 1996 with a ten-foot pole. But it’s so darn infectious, and makes me think of being on a summer holiday to such an extent that I can taste the margaritas. I’m pretty sure I look a little tanner after every listen too, so thanks, Deborah!
- #4 | Young Love Is Maxine’s number an All About That Bass for the teen market? Yes. Is it appealing nonetheless? Yes. I’m not a huge fan of retro-pop, but the fact that this does hark back to a faraway decade makes it fresh and fun. Maxine has great personality and stage presence that adds to the package.
- #5 | Kingdom Christabelle’s Rush was far, far better than this (and I still wish she’d elbowed Amber out of the way and gone to Vienna in her place) but this is the best straight-dance song in the running.
When it comes to the winner and Warrior’s successor, I can narrow it down to three of my top 5. That’s right – it’s ladies’ night, folks. In order of likelihood, here’s the trio* I’d bet on if I was a betting woman.
- Chameleon Ira is more or less to MESC 2016 what Måns Zelmerlöw was to Melfest 2015. If it’s going to be a by-the-book kind of year, she’ll take the victory with ease.
- Young Love If it’s a ‘say what?!?’ kind of year, however, a newcomer to the NF might out-score the veterans. This song is current, memorable and well-performed, and I think there’s something in it for televoters and jurors.
- Falling Glass This is Corazon’s best attempt yet to represent Malta, so she’d deserve the trophy if she nabbed it. She is smack bang in the middle of the running order, so she’ll have to work hard to keep attention on her.
*Like last night, I want to slip in an extra prediction here to reduce my chances of looking stupid later on. So if the stars don’t align for Ira, Maxine or Corazon, perhaps they’ll do so for Christabelle.
I’m not seeing through the eyes of a respectable jury member here, so what do I know? If you’re keen to put your objective, non-Ira-obsessed juror hat on and predict the MESC winner for the year, be my guest. The comments section will feel lonely and abandoned if you don’t…AND SO WILL I #guilttrip.
I’ll leave you now to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the abovementioned Maltese final. It’s going to be a long one as always – but with any luck, we’ll have a decent result at the end of it.
As Adele says when ending a phone call, see you on the other siiiiiiiiiide!
I have a confession to make: I had no idea that Belarus’ national final was taking place tonight.
For some reason (I’m inclined to blame Malta holding their semi and final over two consecutive days in order to confuse me) I was convinced they were choosing an act to follow in Uzari & Maimuna’s footsteps TOMORROW night. So, naturally, I had planned to forgo posting about Malta’s semi final so I could combine a prediction for both the MESC final and the Belarusian equivalent into one ridiculously long ramble on Saturday. SO, I’m not exactly prepared for what I’m about to do – hammer out a brief analysis of the ten songs competing to represent The Land of Koldun this evening, and take a look at Malta’s twenty-song-long semi while I’m at it. That being the case, there’s no Time (HEHEHE) to waste. Let’s go.
BELARUS: It’s Time to select a song for Stockholm!
Yes, I used the Time joke twice in a very short space of sentences. There’s only a matter of Time before it becomes totally irrelevant, so one simply must squeeze it in as many Times as possible.
But I’m done now. I think.
Hey, here are the prospective Belarusian entries for 2016!
- Flame by Alexey Gross
- Glory Night by Sasha Zakharik
- Not Alone by Valeriya Sadovskaya
- Radiowave (Ne Shodi s Uma) by Radiovolna
- Turn Around by The EM
- Heta Ziamlia by Navi
- How To Fly by Alexander Ivanov
- Pray For Love by Anastasiya Malashkevich
- Running To The Sun by Kirill Yermakov
- My Universe by NAPOLI
Overall, I’m pretty disappointed in this bunch. It only takes one great song to win Eurovision, but it seems to me that Belarus have none – which makes me wonder why they even bothered with their lengthy live audition process and all of the other jazz leading up to this point (and why they should bother with the stuff that’ll come after, such as rehearsing and remixing and turning up at Globen). That might sound harsh, but this final is lacklustre at best, and physically painful to preview at worst. At least, in my opinion. If you think it’s the new Melodifestivalen in terms of its epicness, power to you (but seriously, book yourself into an insane asylum stat).
I’ve selected some highlights (using the ‘high’ loosely) and collated them into a short list which I believe is traditionally titled a ‘Top 5’.
- Running To The Sun Lyrically questionable, but contemporary and catchy, this one’s my pick of the bunch. But I wouldn’t waste any douze points on it. If it wins, I’d be keen to see what was done with it between now and May.
- My Universe This is NAPOLI’s weakest attempt to represent Belarus, but because it reminds me a bit of Zlata “Goddess Amongst Us Mere Mortals” Ognevich’s Gravity, I can get on board with it.
- Turn Around It’s a man-band with a melancholy ballad! The boys from The EM are like a very sad Eastern European Jedward, who plumb the depths of depression and duckface a LOT in the Turn Around music video. Part of me loves it, part of me wants to play them a succession of YouTube cat videos to get them to cheer the heck up.
- Radiowave If this wasn’t so incredibly repetitive, it would be my favourite.
- Heta Ziamlia The only non-English track competing, this is cute, and would be something different for Belarus to send to the ESC (laters, melodrama). The ‘ooh-ooh’ bits are irritating though.
So who’s going to win, and does anyone really care when the standard is so crap? OF COURSE THEY DO, AND STOP BEING NEEDLESSLY MEAN, JAZ! This is the trio of tracks I can see scuffling at the top of the scoreboard for the ticket to Stockholm:
- Flame Although I didn’t put this in my Top 5, I do think it’s a credible and rather majestic number (and I’m not just saying that because I personally know one of the lyricists, and want it to win for her sake). It’s first up in the running order, and I think it could end the night in first position too.
- Pray For Love I can’t stand Anastasiya’s voice – talk about nails down a chalkboard. But she’s done well for herself in the past with a song that was far worse than this one, so I can’t discount her.
- Running To The Sun Yes, I’m biased. This is my personal fave, so obviously I consider it the best of the bunch and a possible winner.
PS – I’d like to slip My Universe in as a prediction too, just in case. So consider that done.
Who would you like to see fly the Belarusian flag this year? Does Alexey ignite your Flame, or are you hoping it’s Sasha’s Glory Night? Maybe you’re thinking that Alexander Ivanov should learn How To Fly to Arlanda airport (though I truly hope you’re not). Let me know below!
MALTA: One mammoth semi + one mammoth final = MESC 2016
Another year, another MESC, and still nobody’s explained to me why Malta goes to the trouble of holding a semi final when they only ditch six songs at the end of it. CUT THE FIELD IN HALF, FOR THE LOVE OF IRA LOSCO!
Speaking of our beloved Ira…she’s back in the mix for 2016, fourteen years after her very successful, should-have-won-it trip to Eurovision in Tallinn. She’ll open tonight’s semi with one of her two entries, and be followed by eighteen other acts. If you’re tuning in, you’re in for a loooooong night. But it just wouldn’t be MESC otherwise.
Here’s the line-up, for anyone requiring a refresher:
- Chameleon (Invincible) by Ira Losco
- Falling Glass by Corazon
- Light Up My Life by Stefan Galea
- Empty Hearted by Domenique
- I Love You by Dario Mifsud Bonnici
- Under The Sun by Daniel Testa
- The Flame by Jessika
- Alive by Jasmine Abela
- Flashing Lights by Raquel Galdes
- Golden by Brooke
- Lighthouse by Kimberley Cortis
- Right Here With You by Sarah Crystal
- Frontline by Danica Muscat
- Kingdom by Christabelle
- Little Love by Franklin Calleja
- Fire Burn by Dominic
- That’s Why I Love You by Ira Losco
- You’re Beautiful by Lawrence Gray
- Young Love by Maxine Pace
- All Around The World by Deborah C
Now THAT’s more like it. It’s not the best musical battleground ever to have existed, but there’s hardly anything that I’d describe as dreadful listed above. I’m going to save my Top 5 ranking for tomorrow’s pre-final post (assuming all my favourites qualify. The odds are in their favour) but I will say that Ira, Corazon (gasp!) and Deborah C (double gasp!) have made the grade.
For now, I’ll have a bash at predicting which six songs WON’T be seen and heard again on Saturday night.
- Light Up My Life There is plenty of generic dance pop on offer, but this is the blandest example.
- Empty Hearted I quite like this one, but I can see it struggling.
- I Love You This ain’t bad either, but there’s always one or two DNQs that I don’t get.
- Flashing Lights Raquel failed to qualify last year with a much better song at her disposal. This one does nothing for her unique vocals.
- Frontline This is actually one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. Nothing more needs to be said.
- You’re Beautiful Well, thanks, Lawrence…but as it turns out, flattery won’t get you everywhere.
It’s a tough task, deciding which of Malta’s marathon runners won’t make it to the finish line. If you’ve selected your own six, get on down to the comments section and put them in writing! You know I’m an extremely nosy human and want to know what you think about anything and everything at all times.
Now, I’m going to say goodbye (I have some more face-palming re: my Belarus mistake to indulge in) but I’ll be back in about twenty-four hours with a verdict on the fourth member of the Eurovision 2016 family – i.e. Belarus’ song – plus a review, ranking and prediction of the MESC final. If you’re watching one of tonight’s NFs (or you’ve cloned yourself and plan to watch both), enjoy. And remember, selection season is only just beginning!
The national final train has been chugging along since December 2015, courtesy of Albania. Next stop? Belgium, defending champions of the title for Unexpectedly High Placing of the Eurovision Most Recently Past.
Dutch-language broadcaster VRT are in charge of choosing Loïc Nottet’s successor, which would normally be worrisome – the majority of Belgium’s decent results of late have been credited to French-language broadcaster RTBF. But, be it a coincidental turning of the tide or a totally calculated analysis of what catapulted Rhythm Inside to 4th place in Vienna, VRT have stepped it up for 2016. The five-strong line-up they’ve put together makes the likes of the Swiss final look and sound ten times worse than it already did (sorry, Switzerland, but a douze-worthy NF you have not).
Today, as we look ahead to tonight’s third and final installment of Belgium’s Eurosong, I’m going to take a look (having had a listen) at the potential ESC entries from Adil, Amaryllis, Astrid, Laura and Tom. Read on to find out which artists have songs up their sleeves that I’d vote for (there’s three!), which artists would bestow upon me a toilet break song in Stockholm if they were to win this evening (that’s the other two), and, probably most importantly, which artist and song I think is going to grab the golden ticket with ‘YOU GET TO REPRESENT BELGIUM! IS THAT AMAZEBALLS AF OR WHAT?!?’ stamped on it. As indicated by the (hilarious) title of this post, I might waffle on a bit below, so brace yourselves for that.
WAIT!!! I almost forgot. There’s one more something-something I must take care of first. I promised you a bit of boyband fangirling, and gosh darn it, I’m going to give it to you! Because, as we now know, the rumours flooding social media and the Irish media were not just rumours – earlier this week, it was confirmed that 1/5 of Westlife will be representing the Emerald Isle in May, and that excites my boyband-adoring self very much. Sure, Nicky Byrne isn’t the 1/5 I used to moon over when I was younger and (slightly) more pathetic – that was Kian Egan, who was to Westlife what Nick Carter was to the Backstreet Boys (a.k.a. a floppy-blonde-haired dude whose 2D face I had stuck to my wall in poster form). But I am going to be seeing a member of Westlife IN THE FLESH, so I don’t even mind that much.
Admittedly, I’m more pumped about Ireland’s choice of artist than choice of song at the moment. I don’t want to be too quick to judge, but Sunlight, while being radio-friendly and competent, is also pretty forgettable. I have literally forgotten how it goes. But time will tell whether a stellar live performance from Nicky can change my tune, so to speak. I think it would help if he takes his shirt off about thirty seconds in….though maybe that’s just me. You can clarify – how do you rate Ireland’s chances at Eurovision 2016? Obviously it’s a bit hard to predict given we’ve only got two songs so far, but for me, Albania’s>Ireland’s. Do you agree or disagree?
Right – that’s the interlude of fangirling (a relatively restrained one, by my standards) out of the way, so let’s move out of the Sunlight and onto Eurosong.
No more messing about! I’m going to dive straight in to reviewing the 60% fab, 40% not-so-fab-but-still-decent Belgian hopefuls competing tonight. In alphabetical order according to the artist’s first name in lieu of a running order, of course.
In Our Nature by Adil Aarab I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to listen to these tracks for the first time. I certainly didn’t think I’d be blown away by song numero uno. But…I LOVE THIS. I love everything about it, and yes, that love does extend to the copycat choreography harking back to Loïc’s mid-song nanna nap. I’d use many of the same buzzwords to describe this as I used to describe Rhythm Inside, too – i.e. interesting, current, and appealingly minimalist. It’s an underdog for the win, but COME ON, EUROVISION GODS!!
Kick The Habit by Amaryllis Uitterlinden Things went a tiny bit downhill from there with this intriguingly quirky yet slightly irritating number. Still, I think Amaryllis’ song is another indication of VRT learning from their own mistakes and from RTBF’s successes. I don’t want Kick The Habit to win, and I don’t think it’s in any danger of doing so.
Everybody Aches by Astrid Destuyver Firstly…isn’t this Molly Sterling singing under an alias in order to have another crack at the contest? I’m fairly confident that it is. And if so, she’s returning with a song that may have a depressing title, but isn’t half as melancholy as Playing With Numbers. I can imagine Margaret Berger nailing a cover version of this, which automatically makes it cool. Astrid/Molly’s voice is cool too – she’s got what’s probably the most unique voice of the five. I’d love to see something like this hit the stage in Stockholm.
What’s The Pressure by Laura Tesoro This title bugs me. ‘What’s the pressure’? Has anybody ever uttered that particular combination of words? I think not. Pushing that aside, however, I just want to DANCE MY ASS OFF to this track. It’s more infectious than a common cold in a crowded carriage of that aforementioned NF train, and is by far the most energy-packed effort of the evening. To me, it’s got winner written all over it. And, if Adil’s not going to win (which he isn’t) then I’m relying on Laura topping the scoreboard instead. You go, girlfriend.
I’m Not Lost by Tom Frantzis Mid-tempo indie rock rarely parks up my street, and post-first listen of I’m Not Lost, I was duly unimpressed. But I figured I’d give it another chance, and I did end up enjoying it more the second time round (kind of like the leftover pizza you have for breakfast the morning after the night before). Like the four songs before it, it avoids cliché, and it does have a strong sing-along chorus. Tom’s great live, too. I just can’t shake the feeling that his song should be played in the background of an Olympics montage or something, and not competing in the musical battle to end all musical battles (which would be the ESC, not Eurosong). But will I be mad if it wins? Not any more.
Based on those first and/or second impression opinions, I’d give eight points to Astrid, ten to Laura, and a big ol’ douze points to Adil (everybody on Team Adil put your hands uuuuup! *waves lonely hands in the air like I just don’t care*). But I don’t actually get to do that, since, in an absolutely shocking turn of events, I wasn’t asked to be an international jury member by VRT. After everything I’ve done for them! Trashing their Eurovision entries, wishing they were more like RTBF…
Oh, okay. It makes sense now I’ve thought about it.
ANYWAY, as I mentioned before, VRT have gone above and beyond in the wake of Rhythm Inside’s success, offering up a selection of songs (mostly) worth salivating over. There are no creepy odes to mothers or cheesy cries of ‘Nothing is impossible!’ to be found here, and that’s one heck of a relief. Deciding which of the non-creepy, non-cheesy songs is going to Stockholm tonight will be the Belgian public, plus an allegedly esteemed panel of jurors hailing from Sweden, the Netherlands, France, and a whole bunch of countries who’ve never voted for Belgium at Eurovision (something Belgium clearly wants to change). The public and jurors will decide on a top two, and that pair will proceed to the second and final round of purely public voting – so the ultimate power lies with those peeps eating popcorn on the couch. Now I’ve explained to you something you already knew, it’s time to make my first official prediction of the 2016 NF season:
The top two What’s The Pressure and I’m Not Lost
The winner What’s The Pressure
Honestly, I wouldn’t put any money down on that prediction – when it comes to fifty-fifty decisions, I usually head in the wrong direction. But, based on mass appeal and YouTube views (a highly scientific approach, no?) I would bet on Laura and Tom being the chosen top two. I think Laura is Belgium’s best chance of Swedish success, given that What’s The Pressure is ridiculously catchy, reasonably memorable (THIS is how you write a radio-friendly song that isn’t vanilla, Ireland) and could be staged impressively at Eurovision. If she does win tonight, Laura will be the fourth Belgian act in a row to have graduated from The Voice to the ESC. Is that a sign?
What do you think? Is a victory for Laura written in the stars (The Voice being Belgium’s ESC entrant store of choice lately) or will Tom take the prize instead? Maybe it’ll be an underdog who impresses the jurors and the public enough to clinch the win? Fill me in on your hopes and expectations for Eurosong down below!
Until next time (when the Class of 2016 will have become a trio)…
Hallå, och välkommen till…um…nope, still not quite at the point where I can string together an entire introduction i Svenska. But I’ll get there. Possessing such a skill would have been ultra-appropriate today, though, given the subject matter of this post. There’s no need for me to explain it to you – the title tells you everything you need to know. Well, apart from one or two or three teeny tiny things:
- Melodifestivalen is far and away my favourite pre-ESC national final (which may be cliché, but I don’t give a crap) so I’ll take any opportunity to celebrate its sheer sensational-ness. I’ve never posted a Melfest ranking before, so with that in mind – plus the fact that the 2016 edition of the show is creeping ever closer – I’m considering this window of time before NF season crazy-time begins as an opportunity more golden than Herreys’ shiny boots.
- I realise that a Top 50 of Melfest spanning 1959 (the year of its inception) to present would have been more spectacular, but there’s just so much magnificent music to choose from, even limiting myself to the last ten years was a challenge. Besides, I’m far more familiar with the entries from 2006 onwards – i.e. the year I discovered the definitions of ‘Eurovision’ and ‘national finals’. You can, however, expect a more vintage view of the comp in the future.
- There are a lot of entries from the last two/three years of Melfest in this first installment of the countdown, but I can assure you that trend does not (completely) continue in the #30-11 and Top 10 episodes. Just FYI.
Now, with that trio of housekeeping points taken care of, let’s get started! I’ve embedded some videos of the listed tracks below, but if you want to see and watch them all in one place, check out this playlist.
Sverige (and everywhere else)…vi har ett resultat.
Well, some of it, anyway.
#50 | Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren (2015) No, I’m not joiking. As much as I love the standard Scandipop fare Melfest predominantly serves up, it was refreshing to have something on the NF’s most recent programme that managed to be super-Swedish without *Googles the songwriters just in case* having Thomas G:son’s name attached to it. Jag Är Fri could be the theme song for a tourist campaign urging us all to visit Lapland – and it totally works on me. I wonder if I could squeeze in a side trip while I’m i Sverige?
#49 | På Väg by Abalone Dots (2012)
#48 | Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette (2015) If it hadn’t been for the extremely predictable lyrics peppering this track from Mariette – and the presence of Måns + Stick Måns in Melfest 2015, of course – I’d have happily said ‘Si!’ to Sweden sending a cool, contemporary ballad-but-not-quite kind of pop song to Vienna. My favourite thing about this is how dynamic and drama-packed it is, without ever being OTT. It’s got a great melody, and overall, isn’t half as cheesy as you might expect a song called Don’t Stop Believing to be.
#47 | Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah (2015)
#46 | Stay The Night by Alcazar (2009) It’d practically be illegal to put together a list like this and NOT include Alcazar, unless you’re the President of the Anti-Schlager Society. Now, I’m not exactly heading up the Pro-Schlager Party, but I’ve always found Alcazar’s sound-alike Melfest entries to be infectiously irresistible. Stay The Night (the superior version of 2014’s Blame It On The Disco) is so textbook, you could sing it in your sleep even if you’d heard a minute-long snippet and nothing more. But there’s a certain appeal in such familiarity…and in that freaking catchy chorus.
#45 | Stormande Hav by Timoteij (2012)
#44 | Begging by Anton Ewald (2013) One of several surprise successes of Melodifestivalen 2013 (both Anton and Robin Stjernberg failed to qualify direkt til final, only to emerge victorious from Andra Chansen and finish 4th and 1st respectively), Begging became a big success in the Swedish charts too, and I understand why. Produced to perfection and not as derivative as your average dance track, it’s a frantically-paced club banger that I think holds its own without Anton busting many a move to add interest – partly because in studio, his vocals don’t suffer for the sake of enthusiastic pelvic thrusting. Forget about his comeback track Natural (although I personally liked that too)…it was during his debut as a frontman that he had the best musical weapon at his disposal.
#43 | Hello Goodbye by Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli (2013)
#42 | Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan (2012) GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT. I never wanted to enjoy this – even considering my crappy taste in movies and books, it should have been too low-brow for me – but what can I say? I’m easily swayed by an ear worm, and SDFB is nothing if not one heck of an ear worm. Also, bananas are my favourite fruit, and Sean has a penchant for them too, so…there’s that.
#41 | Falling by State of Drama (2013)
#40 | För Din Skull by Kalle Johansson (2015) The pre-comp Svensktoppen Nästa winners always get a raw deal in Melfest, methinks – never advancing anywhere (they’re lucky if they don’t come last in their semis). Still, I’m always a fan of their entries, and Kalle’s is no exception because it is adorable, dammit. Retro-flavoured pop doesn’t always float my boat, but För Din Skull (For Your Sake) is tinged, rather than soaked, with a slightly Sixties flavour, which lends itself very well to the Swedish language. I also really like the sound of Kalle’s voice, so all in all, this entry is sounding good, sugar (to me, at least).
#39 | I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar (2015)
#38 | Bröder by Linus Svenning (2014) Before he informed us that Forever Starts Today, Linus proved that you don’t have to opt for a ballad if you want to move people – move them straight to the nearest box of tissues, in this case. Written for him by Fredrik Kempe about the death of Linus’ brother (hence the title), Bröder is far more rocky than most tributes to a lost loved one. It does start out in ballad territory, giving you a chance to notice how pretty the melody is, before upping the ante and turning hard(er)core. I loved Bröder from the first listen, felt the emotion behind it, and practically jumped for joy when it scored a second chance and made it to the 2014 final.
#37 | Around The World by Dr Alban feat. Jessica Folcker (2014)
#36 | Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson (2015) A year ago, I would NEVER have considered including this song in my top fifty. After all, it was Magnus “I Can’t Feel My Face (Because of all the Botox)” Carlsson crashing Melfest yet again, with yet another been-there-heard -that schlager number. All of those things remain true, but the song has wormed its way into my brain and affections over time. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly superficial, all I want out of my music is a catchy tune. On that, Möt Mig I Gamla Stan delivers, and y’all can bet I’ll be singing the shiz out of it when I’m actually wandering around Gamla Stan.
#35 | Red by EKO (2014)
#34 | One By One by Elize Ryd & Rickard Söderberg (2015) Robbed of a place in Andra Chansen last year (IMO), this poperatic confection worked to a degree I didn’t expect. Sure, Rickard comes off a little too showy to be taken seriously at times, but Elize’s vocal saves the day, and the two do manage to mesh for the most part. One By One itself has a nice mix of light and shade, verses that are as interesting as the choruses, and a show-stopping money note from Rickard, prior to chorus no. 2, which gives me goosebumps.
#33 | Living To Die by Andreas Johnson (2015)
#32 | Yes We Can by Oscar Zia (2014) High School Musical met Melodifestivalen two years ago, when Oscar followed up his backing-singer-for-Behrang-Miri gig with a song about dancing in his underwear. Well, it was about other stuff too, but that was mentioned – and since it was okay for Lena to divulge the deets of her knickers to millions, I say it was okay for Oscar too. I feel like this entry is a rare one to fangirl over, but if I am one of just a few who’d say yes to Yes We Can, then so be it. This song’s epic! It packs a punch, it’s fun to sing along to…you can really let your hair down and rock out to it. And it reminds me of summer, making it a summer anthem, which automatically makes it awesome.
#31 | Euphoria by Loreen (2012)
Talk about ending on a (euphoric) high! Although, if you’re a massive Loreen fan, you might think seeing her ranked outside of the Top 10 is the lowliest of lows. In that case, don’t worry, because she might just crop up again in the countdown *insert mysterious, cliffhanger-type music here*.
I hope you enjoyed this supersized serving of Scandipop, with some Scandirock and Scandiotherstuff thrown in for good measure, even if you disagreed with some/all of my choices. Once again, here’s the full playlist:
Now’s the time for you to post your own #31-#50, or simply have your say on my song selections, in the comments below. Go on…do it for Christer Björkman.
I’ll be back in a few days’ time with more Melfest goodness – specifically, unveiling the Top 50 from #30 through to #11. As Anton Ewald would (probably) say, I’m begging *pelvic thrust* you to drop by and count them down with me!
Welcome to 2016. Välkommen to a year of Eurovision, Stockholm-style (something we most recently could have said post-NYE 1999)!
I hope you guys had a blast doing whatever you did last night, and that you’re currently resting up in preparation for the full-on NF season we’re about to enter into. Said season has technically already started – though in less full-on form – with Albania opting to send Eneda Tarifa’s Përrallë to Sweden (most likely in English) at the Festivali I Këngës final last weekend. That’s assuming none of the song’s writers decide to withdraw it from the contest, á la Elhaida Dani’s Diell. At the moment, I’m crossing my fingers for that NOT to happen, because there’s something about Përrallë that intrigues me. I’d like to see how it evolves and ends up sounding at Eurovision.
Speaking of how things sound at Eurovision…that’s how I’m introducing today’s post (my first of the year. Woo to the hoo!). I should have put together something more relevant to New Year’s Day, like a list of my favourite ESC-related music of 2015 or something – but I forgot to. Although I have selected two top musical moments from the year just passed over on ESC Insight. Mine appear alongside the picks from the core team and the rest of the site’s contributors, if you want to check them out (which you should, because they’re brilliant). So there is that.
But here on EBJ, THIS is what you’re getting on this mighty fine January 1st: a sequel to my recent Friday Fast Five, which listed the Australian artists I think should be on the shortlist for Stockholm. This time, I’m attempting to transport you to a magical world in which Australia has been competing at Eurovision for at least a couple of decades. I’m not saying I wish we had been – I just wanted to ramble on about some Aussie music from the 1990s/2000s that I love, while somehow relating it to Eurovision.
This is the result, in no order other than chronological: five awesome Australian songs I’d have sent to some past contests, if we’d been invited to the party pre-2015.
Oh, by the way…just assume that the following tracks would have been trimmed down to the EBU-regulation three minutes.
! (The Song Formerly Known As) by Regurgitator (1998)
Make way for one of my favourite party songs of all time, people! You may not see the logic in that description, but if you can separate the slightly bizarre music video (which is actually super-sane by Regurgitator standards) and the burst of profanity (I know it’s not an f-bomb, but a more explicit word for ‘popo’ isn’t exactly common ESC fare) from the song itself, that might help. ! is grungy and danceable at the same time, and curiously, never seems to date – 1998, 2008…who could pinpoint a year of release with 110% confidence if they weren’t already aware it was a 90s number? There’s something to be said for a song that has musical integrity and timelessness, but doesn’t for a second take itself too seriously.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? There’s no doubt it would have stood out in Birmingham, but would it have challenged Dana International’s Diva for the trophy? Realistically, nope. I do think it could have been top five material, based on the fact that it would have been unlike any of its competitors. Plus it would have RAISED THA ROOF, keeping celebratory spirits sky-high.
The Animal Song by Savage Garden (1999)
Savage Garden = the shining light of the Aussie music industry during the mid-1990s and early 2000s. That is, until members Darren and Daniel decided they didn’t like each other all that much (but that’s another story). Their back catalogue features a string of songs that would have made perfect Australian Eurovision entries – but as someone drawn to jungle jingles (i.e. any songs that could have played over the Lion King credits) I have to settle on The Animal Song as my pick. I can visualise this on the stage in Jerusalem so clearly. There’d be shirtless drummers. Lots of lights, in the absence of LED screens to display safari vistas. Tons of awkward-but-beautiful shots of Darren singing to the camera as the audience lose their collective shiz in the background. I am so sad that I will never see all of that happen.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? Call me biased, but I reckon this could have pipped Charlotte Nilsson at the post. It’s bigger, it’s more of an anthem, and it sounds much less like a Christmas carol.
Hearts A Mess by Gotye (2007)
Most non-Aussies would recognise Gotye as the painted man-face of Somebody That I Used To Know fame. That smash hit of a song could easily have been my selection here – but Hearts A Mess (yes, the lack of apostrophe is intentional) is a more haunting option, and would probably have been more striking on a stage á la Europe’s biggest. This song is a slow-burner, not unlike the classic Balkan ballads that Željko Joksimović can’t stop sending to Eurovision (which we ALL salute him for). It might be minimalist, but it grabs attention for that very reason; it’s dynamic, dipping in and out of soft and explosive moments; and it was lovingly recorded by Gotye in his bedroom. You can’t tell me the transition from a bedroom to the ESC, had Australia been invited to participate back in 2007, wouldn’t have made sense. Well, you can, but I won’t listen.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? Well, a shadowy lighting scheme and contemporary dancer or two would have worked wonders…but aside from scoring big with Belgium (Gotye’s homeland), I think this would have been a little too alternative to have viewers voting en masse.
Cosby Sweater by Hilltop Hoods (2014)
Here’s a song that would have been more or less destined to fail had it been sent to Eurovision last year the year before last (*shakes fist at 2016 for making me look foolish*), much like Trackshittaz’ Woki Mit Deim Popo in 2012 and, to a lesser extent, Who See’s Igranka the following year (I’m still seething over that Montenegrin near-miss). Hilltop Hoods’ Cosby Sweater is kind of like a love child of those two tracks, if that child had a super-Aussie accent. I love it, and I’d love to have seen it compete in Copenhagen for entertainment purposes. The Hoods are great live performers with expertise in crowd-rousing, and I expect the live audience would have responded very well – and/or with a ‘WTF?’ – to this ode to ugly jumpers (as we usually refer to them Down Under).
How would it have fared at Eurovision? Terribly, like I said. Europe would not get it. Rap/hip hop rarely does well at the ESC unless Greece sends it. At least one of said ugly jumpers would have made it onto the Hallerne stage, though, meaning Australia may not have won the contest, but would probably have won the Barbara Dex Award for 2014. Sorry, Vilija.
Do You Remember by Jarryd James (2015)
To finish off this Friday Fast Five, I present to you one of my favourite releases of 2015 – a twist on your traditional break-up ballad, feat. a mixture of pop, acoustic and r & b sounds, and a thumping, very hypnotic beat. Do You Remember is about as cool as Aussie music can get, I reckon, and one indication of that is the fact that it charted in Europe (i.e. Belgium, Germany and Switzerland – countries that can recognise smoothness of the highest quality even when it’s unrelated to chocolate production). I wouldn’t be surprised if, no matter what staging treatment it received, this song remained better as a recording than as three live minutes. However, as X Factor judge Guy Sebastian proved last year when he gave Do You Remember to one of groups on the show, it can work as a performance piece. If Guy had been unavailable to do Eurovision no. 60, I would have happily watched Jarryd James march into the musical battle armed with this.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? With the success of “out-of-the-box” stuff from the likes of Belgium and Latvia last year, I think this could have done reasonably well – though maybe not as well as Tonight Again, which is more energetic (meaning it could fight against the army of ballads present in Vienna) and instant. Top 10 wouldn’t have been out of reach.
EBJ Extras On A Night Like This by Kylie Minogue (2000); Zebra by John Butler Trio (2003); This Boy’s In Love by The Presets (2008); Open Season by Josef Salvat (2014); Shoulda Coulda Woulda by Elizabeth Rose (2015)
That’s me done, apart from the hours of hoping I’ve got to do now – hoping that at least one of these five songs tickled your fancy. If there was something you’d have liked to see/hear on the ESC stage in a parallel universe, let me know with a click below!
And, if you’ve got suggestions of Australian songs – or songs from another competing country’s archives – that would have made epic Eurovision entries in their day, head on down to the comments section pronto.
Until next time, keep on having a great start to 2016!
COMING UP I hope you’re feeling hungry for all things Swedish! With Melodifestivalen, my personal highlight of NF season, not too far away, I thought it was time to get nostalgic and get ranking. The result? A three-course banquet feat. some supersized servings of Scandipop. That’s right – I’m preparing to count down my Top 50 Melfest Songs, 2006-2015. I hope you’ll join me with your own ranking at the ready.
NEWSFLASH: Free as a bird in May 2016, will Delta Goodrem spread her wings and fly north for Eurovision?
Australia’s Sanna Nielsen, and Eurovision. Delta Goodrem and the ESC. Deltz + Eurovij (I could go on, but thankfully, I won’t). According to a large portion of people who enjoy discussing Eurovision online – which I assume includes you, given your current reading material – that’s a match manufactured in the same factory where Il Volo were assembled (and very far away from the place where Chanee and N’evergreen were paired up *insert audio recording of fighting cats here*. And it seems that Australia’s second attempt at taking home the Eurovision-stamped Kosta Boda trophy could see the two meet, and make (hopefully) sweet music together.
That’s right, folks – do a little detective work, and you’ll find that Miss Goodrem is all freed up for May 2016. And that sudden space in Delta’s diary isn’t the only clue pointing towards the singer possibly succeeding Guy Sebastian as Australia’s ESC representative.
What’s that? You want proof? Fine then! Obviously my word alone isn’t enough for you, but I’m not offended or anything. Whatever.
Exhibit A: Delta’s disappearing role in Cats: The Musical
Sir Andrew Lloyd “Just Try And Top My Fifth Place For The UK!” Webber’s Cats began its Australian run in November, and as of a week ago, Delta Goodrem has been donning the hairy onesie required to play the role of Grizabella, glamour cat (?) turned not-so-glamour cat (???). Cats will travel across Australia into 2016 (presumably with several truckloads of kitty litter in tow), finishing up in my stomping ground of Perth in May – but according to the show’s ticketing website, it’s not necessarily taking Delta with it all the way.
Click through to buy tickets for the Adelaide (March-April) or Perth (April-May) performances, and you’ll see the following message: ‘It has not been confirmed who will be playing the role of Grizabella…and an announcement will be made in the near future.’ Interesting, isn’t it? Interpreting that statement in the obvious manner, it seems as though Delta’s commitment to Cats could end as soon as Valentine’s Day (when the Brisbane shows conclude), leaving the songstress with some serious free time through to the end of May. I wonder what would be a productive, international career-increasing use of that time?
Exhibit B: Coaching commitments on The Voice pose no problem
Guy Sebastian returned to his role of judge on The X Factor Australia shortly after arriving home from Vienna, and Delta – as a three, soon to be four-time coach on The Voice Australia – shouldn’t have a problem doing the same, if she were to duck into the Globen to do Eurovision next year.
That’s thanks to a sizeable gap in The Voice production schedule between the filming of the Blind Auditions, and the beginning of the live shows. Delta could potentially put the auditions behind her in time to walk the red carpet at Stockholm’s opening party, rehearse her Eurovision entry, qualify from her semi final (I’ve got confidence in this lady), win the whole contest (I don’t have that much confidence…but just humour me) and then jet back to Australia where her big red chair would be waiting for her. It’d be a busy start to 2016, but I reckon Delta could handle it.
Exhibit C: Record label links and the Bella Paige connection
Sony Australia is the record label of choice/contractual obligation for Guy Sebastian, and it was Sony’s German counterpart that partnered with the label and Australia’s ESC broadcaster SBS to pay for Guy’s participation in Austria. Sony, SBS and Eurovision are very much interlinked at this point in time – and guess which label Delta Goodrem is currently releasing music through? Some might say the logical nature of the path from Guy to Goodrem is too convenient, but I say it’s just convenient enough.
Then there’s the cherry on top of this mounting pile of proof: Delta’s Junior Eurovision association from November, which saw her name mentioned more than once (a lot more than once, in fact) in European media. Though her co-write of Bella Paige’s My Girls wasn’t intended to be a co-write for a Eurovision event, that’s exactly what eventuated – and to summon Delta for adult contest duty off the back of that makes sense…doesn’t it?
With those points of evidence presented, I’ll assume you’re now as convinced as I am that Delta is the most likely Aussie act to be sent to Stockholm (and as I gushed in a recent post, I think she’d knock Europe’s lederhosen off given the chance). After all, she’s available, and already associated with the contest and with the label SBS turned to when selecting their so-far sole adult entrant.
But, if you’re still skeptical, consider the following: Delta’s latest single Wings was promoted in Europe, meaning she’s got a current presence on the continent, no matter how small, that can be built upon. She also has an album due for release in early 2016, which undoubtedly features some three-minute tracks that would do nicely as ESC entries. Then there’s SBS’ well-publicised intention of nabbing a ‘bigger name than Guy’ for participation no. 2. I’d say that Delta fits the bill (despite having the same amount of letters in her name as Guy Sebastian does, which technically makes their names equal in size. HA HA).
I guess the moral of this (news) story is this: Delta’s freedom to represent Australia at Eurovision 2016, and her likelihood of doing so, could be a) coincidental, or b) carefully orchestrated (bye-bye Grizabella, hallå Globe Arena) – so don’t discount her, whatever you do. At least not until SBS publishes an official media release stating that a family block of Vegemite chocolate will be flying the flag for us in Sweden.
Until that day comes, I want to know what you think. Is Delta deciding between the ‘Hair-Ruffling Breeze’ and ‘Destructive Tornado’ settings on the wind machine as I type this? If she is The One for the Land Down Under, would you vote for her (my fellow Aussies aside, of course)? Or is that a moot point, because you’re certain that the evidence above has nul points to do with Eurovision? Let me know below!
Where + when Oslo 2010
What Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie), written by Pierre Kartner and performed by Sieneke
Sometimes, the song I select for Time-Warp Tuesday is one that I love so much, I’d marry it if I could (and I just can’t help getting my PDA on right in front of your faces). On other occasions, I decide on one I despise so I can figure out which of you share my opinion and which of you I will no longer be on speaking terms with. THEN there are the times I unveil an entry half of us have forgotten even existed, because it’s always nice to rediscover how much love, hate, or indifference you have towards a particular track.
Today, though, I’ve gone for none of the above (making that intro pretty pointless).
In 2010, the Netherlands sent a song to Eurovision that I neither love nor hate – and I definitely hadn’t forgotten about it. I do have strong feelings about this little ditty (no, I haven’t evolved into someone’s grandmother since my last post…’ditty’ is just an appropriate way to describe it) but the main reason I picked it is because, lyrics aside, it could pass as a Christmas song. And Turkey ‘n’ Pudding Day is right around the corner (I am yet to wrap a single thing, so expect me to sign off quite quickly today).
As someone who’s not the biggest fan of Christmas music – i.e. you’d have to pay me a large amount of cash and/or bribe me with copious quantities of Nutella-filled donuts to get me to sit and listen to any without complaining – that’s a downside, rather than an upside, to Sieneke’s Ik Ben Verliefd. But there are positives to be acknowledged here: a) the song is cute and endearing, so hating it with a passion would be like hating an adorable puppy with a slightly irritating bark; b) the staging and prop choices were bang-on, so what we saw matched perfectly with what we heard; and c) Sieneke sang like a champ. Parceled up as a package, this Dutch entry checked box after box, and could have been successful on the scoreboard…
…had it competed at Eurovision circa 1967.
That, right there, is the trouble with Ik Ben Verliefd, and it prevents me from feeling much liefde at all for this track. I swear it could have challenged Puppet On A String’s victory back in the day, but it had zero chance of advancing anywhere in 2010. I guess that’s what happens when you recruit the guy who penned The Smurfs theme to write your ESC entry, in a decade that doesn’t remotely resemble the Swinging Sixties.
Not that we can blame Mr. Kartner for every flaw in this plan. Whose fault was the horrendously vintage styling of Sieneke? She was seventeen at the time, but looked like she could have been the mother of a seventeen-year-old in that lacy jumpsuit-type arrangement. Girl was Nadav Guedj-ing before we knew that was a thing.
(Yet she still looked better than Trijnte Oosterhuis, our reigning Barbara Dex Award winner. The BDA went to Serbia in 2010, which I think was thoroughly undeserved. Why should you be punished for bringing back the bowl haircut and manufacturing ball gowns out of bubble wrap?).
Anyway…how badly would you say Sieneke was dressed in Oslo? Or, if you’d prefer to discuss something less fashion-oriented, what’s your verdict on Ik Ben Verliefd as a competition song? Is it retro and fun, or does it remain just as dated and kitschy as you (probably) thought it was at the time? Let me know below.
I’m heading off now to do that wrapping I mentioned earlier. While I’m doing it, I’ll be sending many festive vibes your way to make up for this TWT pick completely draining you of Christmas cheer.
In case I don’t post again pre-Friday (highly likely), God Jul, ladies and gents. May the best gift of all, for us all, be a great song from Albania on the 27th. Because national final season is about to kick off, and that’s the real season in which to be jolly. So go and be jolly already!