March may be upon us, but if you’re still reeling from all the jazz that took place on the last night of February – that is, the national final madness – I can empathise.
In the mind of Jaz right now, there’s chaos. But I know the key to sorting it out is to get it all off my chest, in a stream-of-consciousness blog post that provides a free steak dinner to anyone who reads it all the way through.
So let the thoughts on Saturday, a little of Sunday, and a few other bits and pieces, flow free. That includes yours, my friends. Be caring and get sharing in the comments!
Reacting to the news from an NF-antastic weekend (and beyond)
An announcement of our representative in ‘the first week of March’ is now an announcement that will take place this Thursday morning – via a press conference at the Sydney Opera House, no less. Shortly after 9.30am AEST (which is a slightly-earlier-than-I-would-prefer 6.30am for me) the world will know who’s flying the Blue Ensign (i.e. our flag) for the first, and I suspect, last, time in Eurovision history. I barely attempted guessing the identity of the artist before giving up on it, and all I really want is a good song, performed by a good singer, that I feel proud (rather than obligated) to cheer for. All my body parts are crossed for luck’s sake!
So, it happened. Not for the first time this selection season, a country chose my least favourite song to represent them. On this occasion, it was Aina Mun Pitää by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (or PKN, now that we’ll have to type it on a regular basis). I don’t feel like I can sum up everything bulging out of my brain-box re: this entry in a few lines, so see the Finland-only section below for more information.
In a turn of events that shocked…well, nobody, Boglarka ‘Boggie’ Csemer took out A Dal with Wars For Nothing. Poor Kati Wolf didn’t even make the top four. Though Boggie was my least favourite entrant back when A Dal was about to kick off, and I would have ultimately preferred Kati, Passed, Ív or Spoon to be heading off to Vienna on behalf of Hungary, I am slowly coming around on her song. I know, I know, I was bemoaning how much of a lame message song it is just a few days ago…but I’m extremely fickle, okay?
Well, I’m happy even if nobody else is, and I’m praying that Eduard Romanyuta’s I Want Your Love makes it to Vienna. With Ukraine out of the contest this year and the Belarusian final being surprisingly devoid of scandal, it was Moldova’s turn to have a controversial winner who may or may not be dethroned. The mass amount of televotes Eduard and his so-2000s-it-hurts-but-I-freaking-LOVE-it number received is peculiar. But until there’s evidence that all is not legit, I say BACK OFF to the haters. And to all those slamming Eduard because he’s Ukrainian, not Moldovan – shame on you. Rules are rules, and a non-national would not have been allowed to compete (with the chance of winning) if it wasn’t permitted.
As predicted, Slovenia made the best choice possible, selecting Maraaya’s Here For You. I like the direction Eurovision is heading in, accepting more and more songs like this into the fold – songs that are current, have edge, and generally refuse to fit the stereotypical ESC mould. This particular one is more of a grower than an instant douze-pointer for me, but I expect it to grow on me in a big way over the coming months.
After a long period of buildup, Edurne’s Amanecer was finally premiered on Sunday, and responses have been divided. That buildup may be responsible for many fans’ expectations not being met. My expectations were fairly fuzzy, and after one listen of the song, I still remember the chorus and the fact that I rather like the rest. It’s dramatic, atmospheric, and very Spanish. I can see it being amazing live if Edurne can belt it out anything like she does in studio. For someone who knew Dancing In The Rain was good but was never that attached to it (that’s me) Amanecer is a step up. And, FYI, ‘amanecer’ is officially my new favourite word of all the words.
Melodifestivalen’s final semi ended in best case scenario-style for this Måns Zelmerlöw/boyband enthusiast. Mr. Zelmerlöw went direkt with the refreshing anti-Saade package of Heroes, his staging so minimalist yet mind-blowing, it was obvious he’s in it to win it, without it being too obvious (Mr. Saade should be taking notes). Joining MZW was the act I was just hoping would squeeze into Andra Chansen – JTR! Having followed them since their X Factor Australia days, trust me when I say the boys have come very far since then, and not just geographically. I still can’t believe they made the final, and while I don’t expect them to trouble the top of the scoreboard there, I am SO happy for them right now.
Oh, and Dinah Nah/Hasse Andersson are the final pair heading off to AC.
Now, for that Finnish rant I promised…
Finland’s choice: Weird or wonderful, ‘Wow!’ or ‘WTF?’
The hottest debate of the Eurovision year so far is the one still raging over Finland’s choice. My own initial reaction involved profanity, for which I blame shock. Shock at a song I never saw as a true UMK contender ending the evening victorious.
Reading everyone else’s reactions web-wide, you can find those who appreciate the punk genre and the message of Aina Mun Pitää; those who believe all the haters are being prejudiced towards PKN themselves; those who are prejudiced; and those who like the band but not the song. After learning a little more about PKN through these comments, I still find myself pitching my tent in the latter camp.
When it comes to Eurovision performers, I’m not fussy. I believe anyone, of any gender, culture, background, sexuality, height, age or disability status should have the right to compete, and feel accepted when they do. But if the song they are bringing with them isn’t to my taste, I’m not going to patronise that artist by pretending otherwise. As someone who can vote this year (I’m still wrapping my head around that!) I will not be voting for Finland, because I do not like PKN’s song. Based on what the guys have stated to the media, they would be fine with that. They don’t want sympathy votes.
That won’t stop them from getting some, and to a point, votes for a performer rather than for their song are part and parcel of Eurovision. We’ve all questioned whether Rise Like A Phoenix would have won the contest if Tom Neuwirth had sung it in a suit; or if any other song that Conchita Wurst had fronted would have won as easily. Of course, any votes Conchita pulled in that were unrelated to her song weren’t sympathy votes. They were personality and “character”-based votes. Had I been able to vote in 2014, I may well have texted a few in for Conchita because I think she’s incredible, and RLAP was a song that suited her perfectly and had a ton of impact.
Finland 2015 differs from Austria 2014 in so many ways. I like PKN as people, and I think it’s so great for them to be making music and getting it out on an international stage. But Aina Mun Pitää is far from being my cup of tea, and I’m glad it’s as short as it is so I don’t have to put up with it for three entire minutes.
We dodged a similar bullet back in Eesti Laul 2013, when Winny Puuh mercifully failed to capture Estonia’s allegiance. But now we’re directly in the line of fire, and there’s no side-stepping. It’s like narrowly missing being hit by a monster truck only to hop back up onto the sidewalk, trip over a crack and break your neck on a fire hydrant (we are clearly in some version of New York where monster trucks are part of routine traffic in this comparison).
So, if you ask me if Finland made the best choice in terms of Eurovision success by picking PKN, I’d say no. I respect that it IS Finland’s choice, and I think the country should be proud to have backed a group of people who can change some perceptions on such a platform. It’s also a positive for Eurovision to feature a wide variety of musical genres, and punk will certainly break up the ballads that are dominating the lineup so far.
However, I can’t help wishing that PKN had done just well enough in the UMK final to come second to Satin Circus. Their message would still have been received by an entire nation, which would have been wonderful for them, and the collective Eurofan-verse would have been more content. Well, I would have been, anyway.
Still, I wish the best of luck to PKN in their Eurovision quest. I hope they have a great experience in Vienna, and that there are enough fans of punk watching on to send some genuine, music-based points their way.
I just hope they don’t win. Helsinki 2016 = hell no!
For ranking’s sake…EBJ’s tentative top 21
Does anyone else have trouble arranging the filling in their song-ranking sandwich? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to clarify: I find it easy to decide which Eurovision entries I love, and which ones I hate, but everything in-between is often a big ol’ mess. I can never decide how to arrange the songs I don’t have strong opinions on.
Hashtag ESC fan problems.
Still, I’ve given this top 21 my best shot, but I am keeping the stone I was planning to set it my cupboard for now. Hit me up with your current top 5, 10, 15 or 21 down below!
1. Italy – Don’t expect Il Volo to be demoted anytime soon, folks. I’m in love, and the rose-coloured glasses are not coming off.
3. Moldova – This is total trash from an alleyway dumpster. But it just so happens that alley belongs to me. Get it? Because this song is up my alley?
6. Macedonia – Listened to this again after a hiatus, and now I think it’s underrated.
8. Malta – Amber’s Warrior has overtaken Nina’s at this point. Don’t ask why. I don’t have the answer.
14. Ireland – This one’s sneaking up on me as a possible future favourite.
15. Belarus – The revamped version is suffering from Litesound syndrome. Uzari and Maimuna deserve better.
18. Hungary – A few weeks ago, this would have been on the bottom.
21. Finland – As I attempted to explain above, what it comes down to is that punk isn’t my thing. That’s it.
Now that we know just over half of the songs that will compete in Vienna, we’re all wondering: have we heard the winner yet? I wouldn’t rule it out, but I wouldn’t bet on it either. Remember, Australia’s coming for you, Europe!
OMG, AC! Vote to help me call Sweden’s second chance round
Andra Chansen, the penultimate round of Melfest, is imminent. And this year, the process has changed, with the odds of making the final greater than ever for the eight participants.
Four of them will appear on stage at Friends Arena next weekend, which means it should be much easier to predict the outcome. Yet, somehow, it’s REALLY REALLY NOT.
Making a 50/50 choice has never been my strong point. SVT have done their best to pit animals of the same species against each other in the four duels – Andreas Weise VS Linus Svenning, Hasse Andersson VS Kristin Amparo, Dolly Style VS Dinah Nah and Behrang Miri/Victor Crone VS Samir & Viktor – and in doing do, they’ve made the duels very tricky to call.
That’s why I need your help. Yes, I’m talking to you (your hair looks nice today, by the way). So slip into your prediction pants and give me a hand in choosing which four songs are most likely to make it out of Andra Chansen!
Results will be revealed on Saturday. If you need a reminder of the songs with a second chance, all the performances are watchable here.
Now that’s taken care of, I think I may have said all I wanted to say. For now *insert menacing laughter here*. So if you’ve done your duty and voted in le above polls, you are now free to go about your daily business. If you’re anything like me, that will involve a) putting off important stuff in favour of revising your 2015 rankings, b) reading the entire archives of Wiwibloggs, and c) popping into the supermarket to buy Melfest-viewing snacks.