SELECTION SEASON 2020 | Norway gets Rotterdam-ready + Mariette and Mohombi meet Melfest (again!)

 

It’s that time of the week again: probably a pretty normal Saturday for people who live on Planet Earth as opposed to Planet Eurovision, but a Super Saturday for the rest of us. Tonight we have seven shows to choose between (or attempt to stream on seven different screens at the same time, which is more commitment than I’m capable of). That includes three finals and four semis from across the continent, if my terrible mathematical skills are serving me correctly.

 

Here they are in all their glory:

  • Armenia Depi Evratesil (feat. Athena Manoukian, TOKIONINE + Vladimir Arzumanyan)
  • Estonia Eesti Laul SF2 (feat. Jaagup Tuisk, Traffic + Uku Suviste)
  • Iceland Söngvakeppnin SF2 (feat. Hildur Vala, Iva + Matti Matt)
  • Lithuania Pabandom Iš Naujo! final (feat. KaYra, Monika Marija + THE ROOP)
  • Norway Melodi Grand Prix final (feat. Didrik & Emil, Raylee + Ulrikke Brandstorp)
  • Sweden Melodifestivalen SF3 (feat. Anis don Demina, Mariette + Mohombi)
  • Ukraine Vidbir SF2 (feat. Fo Sho, Khayat + Moonzoo)

 

As always, check in with the ESCXtra events calendar for more info and all the viewing links.

Now, let’s get on to the good stuff…well, some of it. If you want a refresher of Eurovision 2020’s recently-selected songs, plus previews/predictions for Norway’s final and Sweden’s semi, then keep reading.

 

What happened this week?

I’ll speed through this (by Jaz standards) otherwise you might need an overnight rest stop in a seedy motel halfway through reading this post. Last Saturday’s four “finals” left us with two set-in-stone entries for Rotterdam, one selected artist, and another artist whose song was decided until it wasn’t…and now apparently it is again. No prizes for guessing which country that was.

Australia Decides ended with Montaigne snatching the win out of Casey Donovan’s perspiring palms with Don’t Break Me. As your favourite Eurovision-related Aussie (humour me please) I’m pleased with the choice, on the proviso that the performance gets an overhaul on par with Zero Gravity’s. I’m not saying Montaigne needs to practice her pole-swinging skills, but to keep our 100% qualification record intact changes must be made to the circus that was.

Latvia is finally caving and letting Samanta Tīna fly their flag, after a track record that makes her the Baltic Sanna Nielsen. Still Breathing is neither Samanta’s nor Aminata’s best work, but more on that when I review it in a few months. For now I’ll just say that at least it’s already spawned memes aplenty on social media – so it gets two thumbs up from me on the entertainment front.

 

Malta decided not to go all M. Night Shyamalan and plot-twist our brains out, crowning Destiny their X Factor winner as predicted. They couldn’t have made a smarter decision, I reckon. All they need to do now is give her the kick-ass song she deserves so she can have an adult Eurovision trophy to pair with her Junior Eurovision trophy. DON’T MESS THIS UP, MALTA.

Over in Italy, after about 5742 straight hours of San Remo, Diodato was named this year’s winner. It didn’t take him long to say si to the ESC…or for Fai Rumore to disappear from the contest’s Wikipedia page. But it’s back now with official confirmation from the EBU, so we know where we’re at with Italy even if Soldi is the hardest of acts to follow. Personally I quite like Fai Rumore, but the revelation that Diodato is related to Benjamin Ingrosso is something I like even more.

The last sizeable bit of news from the week came from Romania, where 20-year-old house vocalist Roxen was revealed as their act for Rotterdam. She’ll sing five songs in a televised show in March, and hopefully at least one of them is good. I have high hopes.

 

Norway: A Melodi Grand Prix-view of the final

After five semi-finals and more duels than the Queen of England keeps in her fire safe, Norway is ready to pick a winner…but not before they’ve thrown in a few more duels just for good measure. The ten songs left will become four tonight, then two, then one, battling for the win all the way.

 

  1. Wild, Raylee
  2. Out of Air, Didrik & Emil
  3. Over The Sea, Magnus Bokn
  4. Som Du Er, Akuvi
  5. Pray For Me, Kristin Husøy
  6. One Last Time, Rein Alexander
  7. Hurts Sometimes, Tone Damli
  8. Take My Time, Sondrey
  9. Attention, Ulrikke Brandstorp
  10. I Am Gay, Liza Vassilieva

 

I know I’m in the minority here, but I think this final is BANGING. I would willingly listen to all of these songs, and plan on streaming the absolute crap out of a handful over the next few months (until I get sick of them and never want to hear them again as long as I live). There was definitely some trash in the heats, but thankfully that’s all in the past.

 

My favourite four Attention, Out of Air, Wild + Som Du Er, but I must give honourable mentions to Over The Sea and Pray For Me. I can’t help it! It’s like this line-up was tailor made to appeal to me after I was so damn disappointed with last year’s.

A blonde Ulrikke, minus the Brandstorp, ticked all my boxes back in 2017 when she competed with Places (the dictionary defines it as ‘a bop’). This time she’s brunette, full-named and armed with a spine-tingling ballad written by the lady herself – plus Christian Ingebritsen of A1 and the man with the magic touch, Mørland. This is FLAWLESS. A diamond with zero rough. Well, maybe a tiny bit if you count the predictable ‘here’s a ballad!’ staging, but the song itself and Ulrikke’s vocals are perfect. Attention is contemporary, emotional and builds up to an explosive climax, and if Norway doesn’t carefully consider sending it to Eurovision I will be furious. Not that they’d give a crap.

 

If you weren’t a fan of Westlife in the mid-2000s (or ever) then you probably aren’t a fan of the Solli-Tangen brothers’ Out of Air either. Yours truly, as a boyband fangirl 4 LYF, was a Westlife lover (and still is) so naturally I adore the big hunk of cheese delivered by this handsome, disturbingly ageless pair. Seriously, has Didrik been cryogenically frozen and literally chilling with Walt Disney since 2010? Anyway, I adore this and I am not (completely) ashamed of it. I’ll take it any day over My Heart Is Yours, thank you very much.

Well, it may be 2020 now, but Europe’s burning desire to emulate Fuego has not been extinguished. If the copycats keep coming off the production line to the standard of Wild, then I say why stop here? This is a cracking song if not the most original (it even shares a songwriter with the OG Fuego) and if Norway is going to make us dance again, I’m happy to let Raylee take the reins (from Rein, if that’s how it pans out). She radiates girl power, and this is a step up from her last MGP entry.

Som Du Er is sadly the only Norwegian-language song left in the running, so let’s all be thankful it’s an awesome one. I can’t imagine it realistically winning this thing, but stranger things have happened. I feel like it would be a pretty bold choice, but potentially the most exciting to come from Scandinavia too in ESC 2020 terms – and its bop status would be the cherry on top of a sundae made up largely of sadbois. Som Du Er: the tribal banger we deserve.

 

Now for a Prix-diction…and I have never been less sure of anything in my life. Having tried to gauge the popularity of the pre-qualified finalists and knowing the others have already won through via a public vote, here’s my best guess as to how things will go. I’m seeing a top four made up of Wild, Over The Sea, One Last Time and Attention – with Pray For Me as a possible substitute for Over The Sea (excuse me while I cover my butt a little bit).

In my mind, the second cut would see One Last Time and Attention left standing – with One Last Time winning through now that we’re looking a total public vote. I just have a feeling about Rein and his Viking vibe that makes me think of Rasmussen in the club after one too many vodkas. And Norway has a history of relegating drop-dead gorgeous ballads to second place, so…sorry Ulrikke. PS – I doubt another Eurovision televoting win is on the cards for Norway no matter what, but my suggestion if they want to be as successful as possible in May? Wild, Pray For Me, Attention or yes, One Last Time.

 

What do you think? Which songs from the MGP 2020 final should be told KEiiNO and which one should be sent packing (in the best sort of way)?

 

Sweden: New names and familiar faces go head-to-head in Heat 3

It’s hard to believe, but week three of Melodifestivalen has rolled around already. It isn’t going to be third time lucky quality-wise, I’m sad to say, but there are a few competing tonight who have potential should a good performance permit.

 

  1. Shout It Out, Mariette
  2. Livet Börjar Nu, Albin Johnsén
  3. Piga Och Dräng, Drängarna
  4. Late, Amanda Aasa
  5. Vem Är Som Oss, Anis don Demina
  6. Crying Rivers, Faith Kakembo
  7. Winners, Mohombi

 

This semi makes me question the quality spread this year – I honestly think one or two of last week’s acts would have advanced had they been placed in this week’s show. But they weren’t, so GET OVER IT JAZ! Let’s just hope we end up with two deserving finalists tonight like we did last week (#girlpower).

 

At least they look good…even if they don’t all sound the same. Photo: SVT

 

My favourite four Livet Börjar Nu, Late, Crying Rivers + Winners. I’m always saying that Swedish sounds especially cool in a rap/hip-hop context, so Albin’s second Melfest song (with EMD’s Mattias on backing vocals instead of out front this time) is right up my street. I was curious about what Amanda, the P4 wildcard, would bring, and though Late really needs to be heard in full for full appreciation, I’m keen to hear and see it as a package (not that I expect it to get anywhere). The same goes for Crying Rivers, which sounds like it could build up to a ‘wow’ moment given the chance. Mohombi, meanwhile, has followed up last year’s Hello with the most likely winner (pun intended) of this heat. I don’t think I’ll be as obsessed with Winners as I was with Hello, but it has serious earworm potential and I expect big things from the performance.

 

Who’s going where? Winners + Piga Och Dräng to go DTF, Shout It Out + Crying Rivers to Andra Chansen. Vem Är Som Oss in 5th, Livet Börjar Nu 6th and Late in last place.

This is a tough one to predict, even for people who actually have a talent for it. If you can, make your own Melfest prediction in the comments.

 

 

And with that, I’m done (think yourself lucky I only discussed two of tonight’s six shows…it could have been so much worse). I hope you have an extra-super Saturday whatever you’re watching, and I’ll see you on the other side when we get into the double-digits of ESC 2020 entries. The road to Rotterdam is getting shorter and shorter, guys – if I squint I can just see Ahoy in the distance!

 

 

 

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