MY 400th POST feat. two Scandi finals and a bunch of first impressions!!!

Yes, you read that correctly. I am as shocked as you are to find that I’m still going after five and a half years, and now, FOUR HUNDRED posts. That’s like, a hundred times four (I haven’t done any maths since 2008, so excuse me for being uncertain).

I guess you really can talk about Eurovision endlessly if you have the inclination. Sorry to everyone who thought I’d get bored and shut up before I even reached the big 1-0-0.

With lots of other stuff to chat about today, I’m not going to go on and on about this milestone. I just want to say thanks to anyone who’s read any of my 399 previous ramblings and is about to read this one. You’re (partly) why I keep blogging.

I’ll let a picture (which I hear is worth a thousand words) do the rest of the talking.
ebj4c
Wait…I did also want to warn you that I plan to be celebrating my 800th post in another five-and-a-half-years’ time. Run for cover, people!

Let’s get on with the show/s.

 

First thoughts on the songs of the last seven days

  • Armenia: There’s been big buildup re: Don’t Deny, as week by week Geneaology’s band members were announced and we all wondered how the song would compare to Six4One’s If We All Give A Little. Now we have all six singers, plus one song that makes me go ‘hmm…’. At the moment, the best part of this package for me is having an Arshakyan sister back in Eurovision. Jan jan!
  • Austria: Last night, The Makemakes won themselves the honour of repping Austria on home soil with I Am Yours. It was always going to be difficult for our hosts to follow up Conchita, and sadly – as competent, pleasant and well-sung as this piano ballad is – if it wasn’t an automatic finalist, I think it would be staying behind in the semis. The memorability factor, as with a bunch of 2015 entries, is low.
  • Belgium: The only way was up for Belgium after the creepfest they sent to Copenhagen. Even with that in mind, I am very impressed with Loïc Nottet’s Rhythm Inside. 2015 is shaping up to be a year of ballads VS atypical ESC entries, and this definitely falls into the latter category. It’s catchy and a bit off the wall, and Loïc’s voice – unsurprisingly, given his turn on The Voice Belgique – is great. With vocal backup being provided by a member of Witloof Bay, the live won’t be a disappointment.
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I don’t think the Eurovision camera equipment will respond well to a stage presentation this moist. Then again, Jedward pulled it off…

  • Czech Republic: I guess Hope Never Dies will be the fawned-over song that I can’t get on board with this year. I find it dated and depressing, which means it’ll probably win.
  • Israel: I was dying to hear Golden Boy, knowing that Nadav’s r & b stylings would ensure it wouldn’t be a ballad. It’s not, and it’s the most ethno-pop offering on the table so far. There are some questionable lyrics and a segment that sounds exactly like the pre-chorus of Ed Sheeran’s Sing (shh, don’t tell anyone!) but for the most part, it’s everything I was hoping for. And I STILL cannot believe Nadav’s only sixteen. What has he been eating for breakfast?
  • Poland: Well, the boobs have officially been retired for Eurovision 2015, and it’s kind of a shame. Monika Kuzynska will be using her voice rather than her lady lumps to win us over via In The Name of Love. It’s yet another ballad, and although it is pretty and pleasant to listen to, it will have a tough time standing out.
  • Portugal: Oh look, it’s nice ballad #975! This won’t have a hard time qualifying at all!
  • Romania: Voltaj were my favourites heading into Selecţia Naţională…meaning De La Capăt was the only Romanian song I’d listened to and enjoyed at that point. This has been a big hit in their homeland, and as a fan, I can see (or hear) why. It has the authenticity and character that Paula & Ovi’s Miracle completely lacked.
Voltaj-de-la-capat

‘Look! No stupid round pianos in sight!’

  • United Kingdom: The first time I listened to Still In Love With You, I actually facepalmed. The second time, I found myself tapping my toes. As a result, I’M SO CONFUSED! I’m yet to give it a third spin to see what reaction that brings, but I think I kind of like it. The scat part makes me want to cut my ears off, but I reckon I could come to boogie on down to the rest. BRB, just popping out to hire a flapper outfit and sign up for some Charleston lessons.

Now (I’m back with my fringed mini-dress and dance registration slip, BTW) let’s talk some songs which, for a few more hours, all have the chance of joining the prestigious Eurovision 60 Club – some with better odds than others. That would be the finalists from Norway and Sweden.

 

Cinderella, a monster like me and a well-cooked pizza: God kveld, NMGP!

Whatever else you might have to say on the topic of Norway, you can’t accuse their 2015 national final of lacking in variety, or quality in comparison to 2014.

Melodi Grand Prix has a much more consistent standard to its name this year, with the majority of the eleven entries being more than listenable (which is a compliment). Of course, there are the obligatory musical nightmares that should never have been let out of 1985, but things wouldn’t be quite the same without them. What would we have to complain about if the likes of Elisabeth Andreassen and Tor Endresen hadn’t provided us with 100% vintage cheese?

MGP-2015-All-the-participants

Which of these pretty faces will follow in Carl Espen’s footsteps?

Tor & Bettan will perform third tonight, and this is who they’re sandwiched between:

  1. Thunderstruck by Erlend Bratland
  2. Louder by Raylee
  3. All Over The World by Tor & Bettan
  4. Next To You by Jenny Langlo
  5. We Don’t Worry by Ira Konstantinidis
  6. Heaven by Contrazt
  7. Ta Meg Tilbake by Marie Klåpbakken
  8. En Godt Stekt Pizza by Staysman & Lazz
  9. A Monster Like Me by Mørland & Debrah Scarlett
  10. Cinderella by Alexandra Joner
  11. Human Beings by Karin Park

My top five:

#1 | A Monster Like Me: I know, I know…Eurovision 2015 is drowning in a sea of ballads. I’ve only mentioned it 100 times in this post alone. But this is a ballad I actually WANT in the contest (unlike quite a few of the existing ones). There is something spine-tingling about the melody, the lyrics and the way Mørland and Debrah’s voices intermingle. In two words (despite the fact I’ve already used many words): hauntingly beautiful.

10842268_645929968852209_5067144199527973594_o1

If they win, I hope they look a little happier than this.

#2 | Human Beings: This is pretty much what I expected from Karin ‘I Feed You My Love’ Park, and it rocks. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I do think it’s lacking the MGP-winning gene, but it’s unique and edgy, just like Karin herself.

#3 | Next To You: Again, this is missing whatever rings the ‘WINNER!’ bell in my brain. Still, I really like it. It’s contemporary with a well-produced Scandi sound, and somehow manages to be soaring and melancholic at the same time.

#4 | En Godt Stekt Pizza: This is a well-cooked pizza that smells like a very guilty pleasure. Staysman & Lazz have produced the trashy love child of Timber by Kesha and Woki Mit Deim Popo (a description Staysman seemed to appreciate when I tweeted it recently) and I’m ashamed to say I get a kick out of it. Yee-haw!

#5 | Cinderella: Aaaand enter the obligatory MGP r & b number that floats my boat. I highly doubt Alexandra will win, but I don’t doubt she’ll re-energise the audience as the penultimate performer.

 
So, who is in contention for the win? Worst case scenario, Contrazt AND Tor & Bettan. Don’t do it, Norway!

If I had to put money down, I’d put it down on Erlend, Staysman & Lazz, Mørland & Debrah and Karin – with the chance of Jenny subbing in for the Norwegian Trackshittaz.

Narrowing it down even further – Mørland & Debrah’s Monster has been calling out to me as ‘The One’ since the MGP entries were released. I do worry that it’s similar enough to Silent Storm for Norway to be looking for something different to represent them in 2015, in which case Karin, or Erlend – with his stadium pop that I don’t really “get” – could take the prize. But, as many ballads and he/she duets we already have booking flights to Austria, I can’t help wanting one more to succeed Carl Espen. A Monster Like Me FTW, or else!*

 

* ‘Else’ = me getting my sadface on, good and proper.

 

Melfest wraps up in Sweden with a super-sized finale

I can’t believe five weeks of Melodifestivalen have gone by already. Nor can I believe I’ve gotten up at 3am every Sunday morning for the last five weeks to watch the prelim rounds. #totallyworthit. But we do still have the biggest and best installment to look forward to, plus what is sure to be an interesting round of point-giving. Though don’t expect the scores to be as close as they were between Ace Wilder and Sanna Nielsen twelve months ago…

Speaking of twelve, that’s the number of competitors in tonight’s grand finale, after Linus Svenning, Hasse Andersson, Dinah Nah and Samir & Viktor qualified from Andra Chansen last weekend, joining the eight direkt qualifiers. Here they all are, in recap and running order form:

  1. Groupie by Samir & Viktor
  2. Building It Up by JTR
  3. Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah
  4. Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren
  5. Can’t Hurt Me Now by Jessica Andersson
  6. Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw
  7. Forever Starts Today by Linus Svenning
  8. Don’t Stop by Isa
  9. Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson
  10. Sting by Eric Saade
  11. Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette
  12. Guld Och Gröna Skogar by Hasse Andersson

It’s an unusual running order by SVT standards, but you can find plenty of discussion on that subject elsewhere on the net (and it’ll make more sense than anything I could come up with). I’m going to leap straight in to my personal preferences and predictions.

My top five:

#1 | Heroes: A lá Melfest 2014, one of the favourites is also my favourite. On this occasion, it has nothing to do with how insanely attractive I find Måns, and everything to do with how excellent his song and staging are. Okay, that’s a lie. But I really do love the song.

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‘YES! I told you I could work these leather pants!’

#2 | Make Me (La La La): I was only too happy to bid Dolly Style farewell last week in favour of Miss Nah (not her real surname, though I wish it was). I love the costumes and choreography of this performance, and the song is a club dream with the perfect amount of 90s infusion.

#3 | Jag Är Fri: I couldn’t be less Sami, but there’s something about Jon’s joiking that I connect with on an emotional level. Throw in a Lion King-esque sound and an ethnic outfit and I’m sold.

#4 | Building It Up: I HAVE TO, GUYS. They’re Australia-associated! And you know I’m a sucker for boy band muzak. I genuinely enjoy this song, and if you’d seen JTR on the Aussie X Factor a few years ago, you’d know how much they’ve stepped up.

#5 | Groupie: I ALSO HAVE TO, GUYS. Groupie’s nothing on Samir & Viktor’s smash hit Success (despite the fact that it’s virtually the same song) but since the duo knocked my top Melfest ’15 song out of the race in Andra Chansen, I’ve decided to support them.

 
Getting on to who’s going to end up where on le scoreboard…well, every man and his schlager-loving dog have made their full, twelve-song prediction, so I think I’d better do the same. At risk of ending up dying of embarrassment.

  1. Måns Zelmerlöw – in a year where Eric Saade tried way too hard, the victory is Måns’ for the taking. If the song doesn’t do it, that adorable little cone-hat man will.
  2. Jon Henrik Fjällgren – the international juries will drag him out of winning contention, but don’t underestimate Sweden’s affection for JHF.
  3. Eric Saade – I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he ends the night lower than this.
  4. Mariette
  5. Isa
  6. Dinah Nah – I’m tipping Dinah as the AC success of the year.
  7. Magnus Carlsson
  8. Jessica Andersson – Now we’re at the final stage, Can’t Hurt Me Now will come across blander than ever.
  9. Samir & Viktor
  10. Linus Svenning – There’s something missing here. People won’t connect with this like they did with Bröder.
  11. Hasse
  12. JTR – Anything BUT last will be a win for the boys, but with the cute guy vote already split multiple ways, they will struggle to charm their way out of the 10th-12th place region.

What do you reckon? Am I right or am I a moron with all the foresight of an Ikea meatball? Hit me with your tips for Sweden down below.

If you’re tuning in to Melfest, I hope to see you on Twitter where we can discuss the science of Hasse Andersson’s appeal in his homeland, among other things. We’ll also be able to console each other when the show’s over. I have a box of tissues and a tub of ice cream at the ready!

 

As the big 4-0 comes closer, what’s left?

Not a whole lot. But the good news – or bad news, if you’re as impatient as I am – is that selection season is not ending on the EBU-ordered submission date of Monday the 16th. Montenegro has put paid to that. After tonight, there are no more national finals on the calendar (nooooooooo) but here’s what we can expect.

Sunday March 15th
Albania (Elhaida Dani’s I’m Alive reveal)
Azerbaijan (internal selection…probably of Elnur Huseynov)
Russia (Polina Gagarina’s A Million Voices reveal)

Monday March 16th
Australia (Guy Sebastian’s song reveal)
San Marino (Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola’s song reveal)

Tuesday March 17th
Montenegro (Knez’s Adio reveal)

And that’s it, ladies and gents. Shall we cry now or cry later?

 

Let’s cry later. I’d rather revel in the glory of posting my 400th FREAKING POST, and I’m sure you’d rather join me.

*awkward silence*

Fine. A party for one it is.

 
Enjoy your weekend, peeps!

 

nsig

 

About Jaz

I'm Jaz, I'm 26, and I'm 110% Eurovision-OBSESSED. The contest is one big party, and I like to keep it going 365 days a year - that's why I write about anything and everything ESC on my blog. Come join the fun, and I promise you'll never have a nul-point experience! www.eurovisionbyjaz.com/

Posted on March 14, 2015, in Eurovision 2015, Melodifestivalen and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. FINALLY the day is here, two Scandinavian finals, whoopee! I haven’t had a chance to catch up on the latest confirmed ESC finalists as nothing must interfere with the dramatic show down in Norway or Sweden. Truthfully, Norway you have left me quite flustered all week trying to pick a favorite. Any of my top four would be a reasonable decision.

    Norway
    At first I surprised with the support for A Monster Like Me, but the more I listened the more it crept into my brian. Dark, haunting, melancholy do hit a lot of my musical preferences after all. It would stand out more than the other hundreds of ESC 2015 ballads, imo, I have heard so far yet….I can’t pick it as my winner. Probably any other year it would work for me. The truth is that my fingers are tied in knots between Karin Park and Jenny Langlo. And this was after Thunderstruck debuted as my favorite after the first listen.

    1. Human Beings: lyrically better than IFYML (omg did I just diss IFYML?) and the back story-her partner being diagnosed with cancer last year-wrap it all in perspective for me. It’s not as sensational sounding as IFYML, but works on it’s own level as nicely crafted eletropop. Karin also asked fans on faceblah, I mean facebook, to submit their own pictures for the video which I thought was pretty cool.

    1A. Next To You: despite a bit of a heavy synth 80s vibe it is wickedly good. The “youoouu, yooouuu” c’mon! I could see this being a mega hit in an 80s teen romance movie. Envisioning a dark, smoldering performance for this one.

    B2 and II (See how indecisive you have left me Norway, damn you)
    Thunderstruck: the chorus was stuck in my head early on and overall Erlend’s pipes would wake up the audience in Vienna at the least. Actually he could have a very classical sound, add a little white 18th century wig and wah-lah!

    A Monster Like Me: deliciously matched voices. It will haunt me either way if it does or doesn’t go to Austria.

    5. Cinderella: slowly climbed my list. Not quite my style of pop, but has the best production and would be popular on the radio all summer.

    6. Either Ta Meg Tilbake or En Godt Stekt Pizza. Pizza will do what intends to do: provide silly comic relief from Tør & Bettan/Contrazt and pump the crowd back up. TMT doesn’t have quite the oomph, but sounds lovely in Norsk.

    The rest is mish-mash. We Don’t Worry sounds like it should be a Saturday morning kids show. All Over the World is something I would hear in the background at a xmas party from which point I would promptly remove myself from the room. Anybody 65 or older will enjoy Heaven. Note to Raylee–being Louder does not make it better. Please apologize to the dozens of artists you sampled this train wreck from.

    I’ll catch Melfest on delay and expect Mans and his cone-headed friends to be marching across the bridge towards Vienna by then. Jon Henrik and Magnus are into my top 5 (sorry Linus) along with Dinah Nah Nah Nah and Mariette. The big question is: how will Sanna redo Undo this year? I can’t wait to see.

    Sounds like the ice cream should be for celebrating the 400th post, congrats!

    Like

    • How freaking amazing was Saturday night? I am still trying to claw my way out of the post-event depression.

      Well, replying to this well after the Scandi fest (sorry about that!) I can tell you that I feel your probable pain over neither Karin Park nor Jenny Langlo even making the superfinal in Norway. Both put in great performances – I surprised myself by particularly enjoying Jenny, ridiculous outfit and all. And I think she more or less met your dark and smouldering expectations.

      I am SO SO SO happy with Norway’s choice, especially considering how close they came to choosing Erlend instead. Thunderstruck isn’t quite my cup of tea – Joy and Linnea Deb borrowed too much from Robin Stjernberg’s You (self-plagiarism?) and I resent that. Erlend himself seems like a great guy, though, and I appreciate the way his green hair streak was lovingly matched to his performance’s lighting scheme. But holy wow, Batman…A Monster Like Me is just incredible to me. An absolute stunner. I hope you’re right – that it can stand out from most (if not all) of the other Viennese ballads.

      I found Alexandra’s performance quite OTT and trashy/tacky. She wasn’t wearing pants, for starters. If they’d toned down the showgirl vibe and made the costumes and choreography more urban, it would have had a better shot at success IMO. Ira’s, I actually liked, and her song worked way better live than I thought it would. She just lost the vocal plot for the most part.

      Raylee looked kind of concerned during her entire performance. Maybe it was in the moment that she realised how passe her whole package was?

      As it turned out, Sanna had some friends redo Undo on her behalf (nice wordplay, by the way). I think I was the only person on Twitter who actually enjoyed that MJ-esque version, even though it technically butchered the original of which I am the world’s biggest fan. What did you think?

      Merci for your congrats! Ice cream was indeed had in celebration. Probably not 400 posts’ worth, but that just means I get to compensate for it another time 😀

      Like

      • Saturday does feel empty now without the allure of our Scandinavian friends. It might be time for me to break down and buy the ice cream to weep into as well.

        Melfest
        I’m still shocked that they said nah nah nah to Miss Nah and left her at the bottom. Wth Sverige? Not in the top 5, okay I can live with that, but bringing up the rear? Maybe it was those 3/4 pants….between that and the pink hair she did appear to be trying just a tad too hard to look younger.

        Quite surprised and disappointed that Sanna didn’t reprise her winning song. About halfway through I was hoping she was going to leap onstage and undo it by smothering them with her big, fluffy dress. High-pitched male vocals are a curse to my ears unless they have really good music behind them, ala MJ or Maroon 5. I did enjoy the creativity of the new arrangement otherwise.

        Do you realize you correctly predicted three of the four gold finalists in MGP?! Those percentages are creeping up.

        Once the finalists were announced it was a given AMLM was the winner. I predict it will fare better than Heroes (sorry!) and is top 10, if not 5, material for ESC. Pleasantly surprised for Erlend (out of those four) to do so well. There was a woman at his table with the same green streak in her hair-talk about coordination.

        MGP did a 180 from last year with the rousing intro, a well-rounded selection of songs, and a tidy presentation. Sign me up for MGP boot camp! Overall I found most of the performances helped the selections, although Erlend did look like he was thunderstuck to that spot on the stage. Raylee wasn’t as cringe worthy as anticipated proving a gold cape can help save the day. Ira’s performance wasn’t terrible either; the song is too saccharine for me yet I still find myself humming a few bars. Marie had a pleasant, traditional showing. I wasn’t surprised by a pants-less Cinderella (where else can one write that sentence?), besides Sanna had to have the skirt back for Melfest. Karin proved that she received the highest marks in wind machine 101. And Jenny nudged Karin out of my top spot on song quality, not necessarily on costuming. Not sure what I think of high-waisted pants AND platform shoes.

        Whew! That is plenty for now. There is still a slew of recently announced ESC entries for me to catch up with. Bring on the ice cream.

        Like

        • I’m not sure if Dinah was trying for ‘younger’ or for ‘Gwen Stefani circa 1996’…either way (3/4 pants aside) it worked for me. I am both outraged she came last and very keen to dye my own hair pink…one day. Maybe.

          It is a bit of a shame we didn’t get a serious, Sanna-helmed reprise of Undo. We had the parody version in semi 1 and the final’s almost unrecognisable version that I somehow dug. Oh well – we can relive the Eurovision performance anytime we like, I suppose. Perhaps she was supposed to cut in on the EDM-ish version, but her dress got stuck in the stage wings or something? Or perhaps a backstage toilet break turned into an emergency when she flushed half of her skirt down the loo? Ahh, the mental images we can conjure!

          75% right in MGP is something I will attempt to be proud of!

          I don’t think I’d mind if you were right and AMLM did outdo Heroes…but I’m not so sure. If both do very well, that’s a bonus.

          MGP was pretty darn good this year, all round. I have developed a slight girl crush on our flame-haired, tattooed co-presenter, actually. Fortunately for her, she didn’t pull a Sanna and get stuck in questionable gown after questionable gown – her dress game/stylist was on point.

          Like

  2. Congrats on your 400th post – only 319 to go for me!

    Think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the UK entry – first listen and everyone goes WTF…let’s hope the two or so recaps get viewers thinking “OMG, how boring a line-up was that! I fancy voting for that Charleston song” 🙂

    Like

    • Gracias for your congrats (and thankyou for not doing it Cliff Richard-style!). I hope to extend the same to you when you meet your first big milestone. It’s amazing how quickly one can rack the post count up.

      I’m starting to wonder if the UK might accidentally do rather well this year. Maybe my gut instinct’s all off, but I just have this feeling, having listened to SILWY a few more times. I think there’ll be more than a couple of home viewers trotting out that line about the boringness VS the flapperiness!

      Like

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