Hey hey, ladies and gents. Now it’s December (gasp!) a month in which the 2015 NF season officially kicks off, it’s officially acceptable to think of nothing but national finals. Did you hear that, all the people I’ve cancelled plans with because Melodifestivalen’s approaching? Speaking of which, the list of Melfest’s competitors for the upcoming edition is out/was out days and days and days ago. As I was busy and couldn’t shove my excitement down your throat at the time, I’ll do it now, albeit more briefly than I’d like to. These are the names that had me hyperventilating into my sequined knapsack!
- Eric Saade: The Danny Saucedo rumours were just rumours, but that’s one less powerhouse for returning powerhouse (if not in the vocal department) Saade to contend with. Mr. ‘Popular’ is making his comeback with a ‘Sting’ in his tail, and a determination to take out Melfest AND Eurovision next year. He’s cocky, sure, but I’m going to be shallow and say dat ass is more than welcome to grace Vienna with its presence.
- Linus Svenning: He did surprisingly well for himself last year with ‘Bröder’, a song I still listen to on a regular basis when I want to get all screamy and emotional (so basically most of the time) so I’m very happy to see he’s giving it another crack. Expect less heartstring-tugging from Linus this time around.
- JTR: Fresh from their turn on The X Factor Australia in 2013 (when I fangirled over them like no self-respecting twenty-something should) I inquired via Facebook as to whether these three Swedes would consider competing in Melfest. I didn’t get an answer, but I still reckon my question inspired them to go for it (#notdelusionalatall). I AM SO EXCITED. I cannot wait until Heat 4. Except I have to, because it’s Heat 4.
- Måns Zelmerlöw: Perhaps seeing Sanna finally triumph got MZ thinking it was time to get back in on the action? It could be third time lucky for the one-time co-host. After the lack of eye candy on display in Copenhagen, I say MÅNS FOR PRESIDENT!! I mean, for VICTORY!!
Of course, there are always gems to be discovered in the Melfest lineup. Based on Scandipop’s in-depth insight into all of the entries and artists, I’m also über keen to expose my earholes to Samir & Viktor, Jon Henrik Fjällgren and a reinvented Ellen Benediktson.
Now, to get to the point of today’s post, at long last: I think we all have a wishlist of artists we’d love to see go to Eurovision, be that list in our minds or on actual paper and categorised alphabetically by country. Some of my personal hopes for 2015 have already been dashed (no Valentina Monetta for San Marino? What the hell is going on? I’M KIDDINGNOMOREVALENTINAEVERPLEASE) but there are plenty of countries whose artists remain up for speculation.
With that in mind, I’m going to begin revealing my wishlist for Vienna by profiling one of my favourite Finns. I’d kill to see this guy taking part in UMK 2015 (though I’ll try not to) so on the off chance he did submit a song, you better pick it, Finland! His name may or may not be familiar to you, based on how susceptible you are to the charms of teen pop singers, but I can assure you that he is awesome and totally ESC-ready.
So, can we PLEASE have…
WHO? WHERE? WHAT?
Robin Packalen, 16, from Turku, Finland. Robin started his singing career in 2008 as a ten-year-old entrant in Finnish contest Staraskaba. The following year he represented his country in New Wave Junior in Moscow, so he knows how to handle competition. Three years after that one, he released his debut album Koodi, featuring the hugely successful single ‘Frontside Ollie’, and quickly became known as the Justin Bieber of Finland (unfortunately for him).
Robin’s first album didn’t chart, but his following two efforts in 2012 and 2013 went straight to the top in Finland. So did Boombox, a remixed version of 2013’s Boom Kah album. You know you’ve made when people are even willing to fork out for an hour’s worth of remixes!
In September this year, at the ripe old age of sixteen, Robin released 16, which became his third #1 album. All up, 16 included, he’s had three #1 singles, five top 10 hits, sold almost 400 000 records, and collaborated with some big names in Finnish music, including Mikael Gabriel and Nikke Ankara. Not bad for someone still very much a teenager. *instantly feels inadequate and unsuccessful*.
The standard pop to pop-rock sound of Robin’s earlier music makes those Bieber comparisons easier to believe. You can also imagine his first few singles fitting in nicely in the Netherlands’ Junior Songfestivaal (with a Dutch-language rewrite) in the quest to make it to JESC.
These days, Robin’s sound is more diverse, his pop songs interwoven with elements of electro, r & b and hip-hop. He ain’t thirteen any more, and thankfully, his music has matured with him – the production standard is high and everything’s very current. Toss the adjectives ‘slick’, ‘versatile’ and ‘catchy’ into the ring when discussing his latest album, and you’ll (probably) be met with agreement (though I can’t promise there won’t be someone who’ll throw a piece of rotten fruit at your head). Quite simply, Robin’s a purveyor of DAMN GOOD pop music. So DAMN GOOD I couldn’t possibly type ‘DAMN GOOD’ without using capitals.
- Koodi (2012) feat. ‘Frontside Ollie’ (#1), ‘Faija Skitsoo’, ‘Hiljainen Tyttö’
- Chillaa (2012) feat. ‘Puuttuva Palanen’ (#4), ‘Luupilla Mun Korvissa’, ‘Haluan Sun Pulaavan’
- Boom Kah (2013) feat. ‘Boom Kah’ (#4), ‘Erilaiset’ (#1), ‘Onnellinen’
- Boombox (2014) feat. ‘Tilttaamaan’
- 16 (2014) feat. ‘Kesärenkaat’ (#1), ‘Parasta Just Nyt’ (#13), ‘Paperilennokki’
THE HIT LIST
He’s come a long way in a short span of time, and these days, Robin can do no wrong…at least in my opinion. Here are my top picks from his repertoire of pop masterpieces.
‘Boom Kah’ feat. Mikael Gabriel & Uniikki. Fast-paced electro-inspired fun with plenty of fist-pumping opportunities. This is the track that got me hooked.
‘Erilaiset’. An up-tempo, feel-good builder recorded for Red Nose Day in Finland.
‘Onnellinen’. He can do piano ballads too, people!
‘Parasta Just Nyt’ feat. Nikke Ankara. An aggressive hip-pop fusion that shows Robin’s got bite.
‘Paperilennokki’. This latest offering is zero Justin Bieber and about 80% Justin Timberlake. It’s my favourite song of the moment, and ‘paperilennokki’ (i.e. ‘paper airplane’) is my favourite Finnish word of ALL TIME.
Well, if San Marino can select two sixteen-year-olds who’ve failed in Junior Eurovision to represent them in the adult contest (don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about it and I love the duo of Anita and Michele, but their combined results don’t bode well for grown-up success) then Finland could, should and would (if I had my way) pick a sixteen-year-old who’s participated in competitions before, but has spent most of his career going from strength to strength in his homeland and building up a catalogue of chart-toppers instead of competing.
Robin’s transformation from JESC-appropriate teen act to the still young and fresh, but more mature, experimental artist he is today, proves that there’d be no need for him to wait any longer to give Eurovision a try – unless, of course, he wants to wait until he’s about to release his next album in an attempt to use the exposure to plug it outside of Finland.
In terms of bringing his country a result as good as or better than Softengine’s in Copenhagen, could he do it? I don’t see why not. ‘Something Better’ was a contemporary rock song on the more indie side of what Eurovision is stereotypically accustomed to, and a simple but effective performance – and most likely, its uniqueness in the 2014 field – was all it took to secure the boys a placing to be proud of. So it’s not far-fetched to imagine that a more talented, less schlager and more cutting-edge version of Eric Saade (sorry, my Swedish meatball, but you know it’s the truth) could do the same, especially when you consider that Robin’s the right age and has the right sound to have mass appeal, at least among the televoting community. Perhaps my bias is creeping (i.e. elbowing forcefully) in here, but I reckon this kid has as good a chance as anyone to show Eurovision who’s boss. And even if he ended up last in the final (because I have NO doubt he’d make it to that stage) I’d have gotten to fangirl over his appearance in the contest, and that’s what matters to me.
Clearly I have no regard for all of your opinions and tastes as I have been gushing about one of my personal favourite artists for quite a lot of page space. JK, JK – I AM interested in your opinions and tastes, I swear. So let me know down below how you think Robin would fare in the ESC, who you’d like to represent Finland in Vienna, and/or who your dream contestant for any country in 2015 would be. If it’s Eric Saade for Sweden, lucky you…your dream may just come true.
Until next time,
PS – Want more Robin? You’ve got it!