I’ve missed those words. But the missing is over now that ‘super’ and ‘Saturday’ are chilling in the same sentence once again. It’s February 7, and tonight is the first big night of ESC 2015’s national final season. By Sunday morning Jaz time (that’s GMT+8.00 for those who want to get technical) we’ll have an early-ish decision from Denmark, and qualifiers in Finland, Iceland and Sweden. MELODIFESTIVALEN IS HERE!.
In addition to that action in Scandinavia and (slightly) beyond, we’ve got:
• the first semi of Estonia’s Eesti Laul;
• the third heat of Hungary’s A Dal (a ticket to the semis for Kati Wolf, please); and
• what feels like the 798th installment of Lithuania’s Eurovizijos.
I’m choosing my areas of focus, but if you’re spreading yourself across the continent, I wish you the best. And I wish you an enjoyable, or at least tolerable time reading my rundown of some of these NFs, feat. song verdicts and predictions.
Just before I start on that…
Poll results: Your favourite Georgian entry EVER is…
…to be revealed in just a second! In case you’ve forgotten, shortly after Georgia selected Warrior as their song for Eurovision no. 60, I celebrated their contest history with a poll so y’all could pick your preference. That poll is now closed, so if you didn’t vote in it, a) TOO BAD MWAHAHA and b) WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
I can tell you now that the top Georgian entry according to your votes is – why, it’s a tie! *goes into Eurovision 1969-style panic mode*
In first place, with 22% apiece, is Visionary Dream by Sopho (2007) AND Shine by Sophia Nizharadze (2010). Sopho power! Check out the full results in my festive pie chart (any excuse to create a festive pie chart) below.
If you’re about to question the lack of Anri Jokhadze, stop! The poor guy didn’t receive any votes. I personally am shocked to my very core by this travesty.
I won’t embarrass Anri any further by lingering on the subject. It’s time we moved on to discussing tonight’s NF schedule. Let the snide remarks, gushy compliments and questionable predictions begin!
The hosts of 2014 pass the torch, picking their entry through DMGP
Ah, DMGP…the national final in which I usually end up pining for the runner-up because I much prefer it to the winner. FYI, it’s been two years and I’m STILL not over Emmelie de Forest beating Mohamed Ali and his amazing Unbreakable (can you tell Only Teardrops isn’t my favourite Eurovision winner of recent times?) so I’m hoping tonight’s edition of the show will have me crying tears of joy rather than sadness.
With a line-up this derivative, though, there’s not that much to be crying or jumping for joy about.
- Love Me Love Me by Sara Sukurani
- Mi Amore by Tina & René
- Når Veje Krydses by Marcel & Soulman Group
- Hotel A by Cecilie Alexandra
- Love Is Love by Andy Roda
- Tæt På Mine Drømme by Julie Bjerre
- The Way You Are by Anti Social Media
- Suitcase by Anne Gadegaard
- Manjana by Babou
- Summer Without You by World of Girls
I’m sure you’re all pretty familiar with the lowdown on Denmark’s selected ten: you’ve got the duo who think we’ve all forgotten about In A Moment Like This (but we haven’t); not one but two of Basim’s backing singers from last year (that’s Marcel and Andy); JESC alum Anne Gadegaard, all grown up; and the Danish version of GRL. It’s a banquet of variety, sure, but there really isn’t anything on offer we haven’t tasted before. I’m mainly referring to that shameless rip-off Mi Amore, which is not only being rehashed by the same country who sent it in the past, but just five years later.
Still, I have my favourites, and here’s a quick top 5 to acknowledge those:
#1. Manjana – I’m just a sucker for this kind of muzak, folks. Accept it, and we’ll get along fine. Manjana is uplifting, damn catchy and makes me want to dance. It could be the antidote to my Unbreakable anguish if it wins.
#2. Tæt På Mine Drømme – Here’s the obligatory Danish-language pop that I love but that never goes anywhere (a.k.a. this year’s Vi Finder Hjem, which was penned by Basim and performed in DMGP ’14 by Emilie Moldow). This song = a slick, happy hybrid of 80s and mod-pop that I enjoy a lot.
#3. Summer Without You – I do love a girl band, and I’d be happy for this one to win (so long as they’re good live). It’ll be almost summertime in Europe come ESC time, and this would capture the mood and inject some energy into what is, so far, a predominantly down-tempo contest.
#4. Suitcase – I can’t help barracking for a JESC graduate, but this song is genuinely growing on me. It’s a sweet sing-along number that seems like the kind of thing Denmark will vote for, based on what’s succeeded in recent DMGP years. If Anne wins, she, Anita and Michele can swap serious stories in Vienna. The bitching! The backstabbing! Scandalous JESC!
#5. Mi Amore – Don’t judge me. I’m judging myself. I hate the fact that, as blatantly similar to In A Moment… as this is, and as much as I detest that entry, I still like this. For me, it’s a more enjoyable version of Chanee & N’evergreen’s soppy ballad, albeit just as clinical and dated.
I’ll be happy for any of the above songs to win this evening, and I think I can come to terms with any other champ except Anti Social Media (yawnfest) but who do I reckon is GOING to win? I refuse to make an outright prediction, but I’m giving the ‘Most Likely’ award to Tina & René, Cecilie or World of Girls. Or maybe Anne. I DON’T KNOW, OKAY?!?
From the host country of 2014, let’s fly over to Finland…
Starting at the Finnish: Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu begins!
Confession: I’ve never actually followed the Finnish final in detail from beginning to end. I always leave a few NFs to unfold without my supervision (I love the element of surprise) and UMK is often one of them.
I do look back on it at the end of the season and pick out a few gems, which I’ll definitely be doing this year. Only…I’ve already found one. And I think it might be THE one, if you know what I mean. It’s one of the entries competing in tonight’s first semi:
- Loveshine by Hans On The Bass
- Äänen Kantamattomiin by Vilikasper Kanth
- No Voy A Llorar Por Ti by El Misionario
- Aina Mun Pitää by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät
- Sydän Ei Nuku by Pihka ja Myrsky
- Crossroads by Satin Circus
I couldn’t resist listening to a recap of all the UMK-ers, so I’m vaguely familiar with them all, but someone singled out Satin Circus and Crossroads (Nick, I’m talking about you!) and I am now a little obsessed.
I’ve been through this band’s brief back catalogue, and whilst their 2014 single Expectations is slightly higher in my esteem (gosh dayum, it’s catchy) Crossroads is the one song Finland must pick for Eurovision, if they know what’s good for them. Which is me not being totes mad. Right now, of course, its challenge is to progress from the semi, which I think it will do comfortably. At least, that’s all I want from the Finns this week!
Second semi final shenanigans for Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin
Iceland’s NF is another one I don’t follow with a magnifying glass in hand, but again, I have recapped this year’s contestants and listened to the songs that piqued my interest. I’ve got to say ‘BRAVO!’ to the land of Björk. The quality of Söngvakeppnin is mighty high on this occasion, with the island spoilt for choice.
They have already sent three acts packing – one of whom was an early favourite – and the same thing will happen in a matter of hours in semi 2. I have four favourites of my own this time, so I’m going to lose at least one. Sadface.
- Milljón Augnablik by Haukur Heiðar Hauksson
- Lítil Skref by María Ólafsdóttir
- Fjaðrir by SUNDAY
- Aldrei of Seint by Regína Ósk
- Brotið Gler by Bjarni Lárus Hall
- Fyrir Alla by Cadem
Again, they’re all decent songs. But I’m most fond of Lítil Skref, Fjaðrir, Andrei of Seint and Fyrir Alla. Lítil Skref is a nice, uplifting (sorry for the overuse of that word in today’s post) pop ballad reminiscent of Yohanna’s stuff. Fjaðrir is minimalist and cutting edge and I LOVE it, but I don’t have high hopes of it qualifying. Regina is as on-point as ever with the atmospheric Aldrei of Seint. And Fyrir Alla is one of those dance tracks that I have a weakness for. On the plus side, one of them has to go through, and I think I want it to be Aldrei of Seint, because Regina is perfection.
My guess as to the 50% who’ll progress? Haukur, Reguina and Bjarni. But I say good luck (you can Google Translate that into Icelandic if you want) to everyone, as I leave Söngvakeppnin behind in favour of something that excites me just a teensy bit more.
Saving the best for last…IT’S #MELFEST TIME!
*pants with uncontrollable excitement*
That’s right, my fellow Melfest freaks. The greatest show on Earth (Eurovision itself excluded) has shimmied into Göteborg and is ready to roll. For the first time, I’m watching the semis live – normally I don’t get up at 3am for anything less than the final – and I can’t wait to experience it with you guys, as it happens. Catch up with me on Twitter @EurovisionByJaz and we can live tweet until our thumbs fall off.
This is what this first semi’s line-up looks like:
- I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar
- Pappa by Daniel Gildenlöw
- One By One by Rickard Söderberg & Elize Ryd
- Hello Hi by Dolly Style
- Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone
- Can’t Hurt Me Now by Jessica Andersson
- Sting by Eric Saade
We have seven songs per semi instead of eight for 2015, and I have mixed feelings about this. What I don’t have mixed feelings about is how awesome the show’s going to be, based on the rehearsal snippets that we’ve all seen and heard since their release on Thursday. A lot of fans are disappointed with what they heard, but I’m pumped – Eric Saade’s dodgy vocals aside.
Granted, this pumped-ness is based on snippets only, and will remain that way as I’ve decided to wait until the show itself to hear the full songs, but songs 1 through 7 (mostly) get my tick of approval for now. Here’s my top 4:
- I’ll Be Fine – If I were Austin Powers I would say this was groovy, baby. But I’m not, so I’m just going to say I like the sound of it. Retro, big band influences + Molly’s banging voice = a gold star.
- One By One – No, his opera voice doesn’t mesh that well with hers, but this song grabbed my attention. I’m intrigued.
- Hello Hi – I don’t want to like this, but it seems to marry J-pop and Scandipop in a way that appeals to the cheesy pop fan in me (which is about 90% of me, to be honest).
- Det Rår Vi Inte För – Behrang’s no one-trick pony, as this is no Jalla Dansa Sawa. That was boss, and as a fan of hip-hop duets, I think I’m going to appreciate his comeback track.
Now, shall we put our prediction pants on? With one less song in the running, it’s probably easier to decide which three won’t advance to the final or to the second chance round. Having considered this, these are my thoughts.
DIREKT TIL FRIENDS ARENA (I.E. THE FINAL): I’ll Be Fine and Sting
TO ANDRA CHANSEN: Det Rår Vi Inte För and Can’t Hurt Me Now
I have been spectacularly wrong re: Melfest predictions lately, so I’m aiming for at least one success this year. Do you think I’ve got it already, or am I way off? Let me know who’s going where, in your opinion, down below. That goes for outside of Sweden, too.
Well, I’d better get to bed if I want a shot at some shut-eye before the perfectly normal 3am wake-up call. It’s not like I’ll be dozing off in a hurry afterwards, what with the glitter-encrusted excitement coursing through my veins and all. If you’re settling in for this evening’s schedule of events, I shall see you then (I won’t literally be SEEING you, but you know what I mean). If not, are you crazy? NF season is the best season out, spring, summer, autumn and winter included. Get amongst it, people.
Until next time (when we discuss the aftermath of the action)…