Well hello there, second-last Saturday of the Eurovision 2020 selection season…what’s up?
What ISN’T up would be an easier question to answer, actually. March 7th may be looking busy, but it has nothing on this evening. In just hours we’ll have four more entries for Rotterdam, plus a handful of semi qualifiers from across the continent. Here’s the action-packed program of events:
- Croatia Dora final (feat. Colonia, Damir Kedžo + Lorena Bućan)
- Estonia Eesti Laul final (feat. Jaagup Tuisk, Traffic + Uku Suviste)
- Iceland Söngvakeppnin final (feat. Daði & Gagnamagnið, DIMMA + Iva)
- Moldova O Melodie Pentru Europa final (feat. Diana Rotaru, Natalia Gordienko + Pasha Parfeny)
- Portugal Festival da Canção SF2 (feat. Elisa Rodrigues, Jimmy P + Tomás Luzia)
- Serbia Beovizija SF2 (feat. Bane Mojićević, Hurricane + Ivana Jordan)
- Sweden Melodifestivalen Andra Chansen (feat. Anis Don Demina, Felix Sandman + Malou Prytz)
As if all of the above wasn’t enough, tomorrow = Greece’s Superg!rl song reveal, Romania’s five-song final for Roxen (on a Sunday…bad omen?) and Serbia’s ultimate decision. What exactly do normal people do on the weekend when they don’t have a million national finals to focus on?
Who cares! Let’s keep doing what we love to do. I’m running through the songs chosen last week, the songs I hope will be chosen this weekend, and Sweden’s Andra Chansen round today, so lace up your sneakers and let’s go.
What went down this week?
Use of my limited maths skills incoming! Since last Saturday, six more songs have been added to the Rotterdam playlist – taking the (temporary) total to 17. The latest to be tacked on to the line-up came courtesy of Belarus, who chose VAL’s Da Vidna to fly their flag last night. And I don’t know about you, fellow Eurofreaks, but I am capital-I Impressed! There’s nothing I don’t love about this entry, despite the fact that I can’t remember it at all from the auditions (I quite enjoy it when that happens). I love the lack of English (keep it in Belarusian pls), the electronic “drop”, the choreography, and especially vocalist Valeria’s powersuit/crystal-encrusted headdress combo. I’m now wondering if I could get away with a copycat version as workwear. Only one way to find out…BRB, off to buy a few bits on eBay.
Poland failed to give us one-third of Lake Malawi to fangirl/boy over, with Szanza Na Sukces crowning Alicja Szemplińska and Empires champion over Albert Černy. Am I pleased with this decision personally? Well, I don’t know how to say ‘not so much’ in Polish, but imagine that I just did. It’s early days, sure, but this is a song that just doesn’t stick in my mind no matter how hard I try to make it. If you pointed a confetti cannon my way and threatened to shoot me in the middle where my heart’s supposed to be (Dotter’s Bulletproof HAS stuck with me) I still wouldn’t be able to sing it for you. All I remember is that yes, Alicja can sing – but is that enough? I don’t think so. It’s a shame Poland can’t seem to bring their recent JESC talents to the ESC. Any chance we can snap the rules in half and send Viki Gabor’s Superhero to the Netherlands?
Germany made me much happier this week. Violent Thing by Ben Dolic (who actually entered his native Slovenia’s EMA a few years back) is like the musical love child of Dance You Off and any up-tempo track ever released by Years & Years. As a massive Years & Years fan and unconditional Benjamin Ingrosso lover, it was practically written just for me. When you combine such a catchy, hooky modern pop song with an artist who can deliver live (Ben finished 2nd on The Voice of Germany in 2018) and the creative staging talents of someone who’s worked on the Superbowl halftime show, it can’t be anything less than a fantastic bounce back from S!sters’ zero points. I approve with every bone in my body, and cannot wait to see what this looks like in the Ahoy Arena.
Slovenia narrowed the EMA 2020 finalists down to two – an Ariana Grande R&B ballad and a classic Balkan power ballad. I’d have opted for the former personally (JESC alum Lina must get to the adult contest one day – it would be an injustice if she didn’t) but it was the latter that came out on top: Voda by Ana Soklič. On the Poland-Germany scale of memorability, Voda is on the lower end, and all I can say at this point is I hope Ana keeps the song in Slovenian. An English version would probably strip it of the only thing keeping it distinctive. On a totally unrelated note, I miss Sebi.
Ukraine managed to hold a much less dramatic NF than they did last year, which ended with Go_A and Solovey in pole position. We might have missed out on a statement piece from this country in 2019, but here’s another – albeit very different – one to make up for it. That’s assuming emerging financial issues don’t see Ukraine withdrawing from Eurovision yet again, in which case the EBU should expel them permanently until they can prove they have their shiz together and will actually send the winner of their national final to the contest like everybody else does. I’m desperate for Go-A to get to Rotterdam because Solovey is such an interesting, standout sort of song, and it would leave a massive hole in that first semi-final…and in our hearts. Aww.
Last but not least, this week also saw the United Kingdom unveil their long-awaited entry…but not before all the Sherlock Holmes types on the internet got in first. Like expecting Kylie Minogue and having Dannii show up instead (just kidding) it’s not John Newman but James Newman, his older brother, heading to Eurovision with My Last Breath. Considering James wrote it alongside a Eurovision-winning songwriter (though Running Scared is the winner in question, so…) and has penned some big hits himself – e.g. Waiting All Night by Rudimental and Blame by Calvin Harris – I expected more. I don’t feel like there’s a lot to grab on to (a.k.a. vote for) here, but it could be a personal grower at least. Right now I’d say that it’s solid if not that exciting, and I hope it receives the staging treatment Bigger Than Us missed out on last year.
Germany might have come through with my highlight of the week, but what was yours?
My wishlist for this weekend’s national final frenzy
As I am just one woman of average brain size (except the Eurovision-infused part of my brain which is ginormous) I couldn’t talk about all of tonight’s NFs in depth. You can follow me on Twitter LINK for extra commentary, but as a compromise here on EBJ, these are my not-so-deep and not-so-dark desires for this weekend’s finals.
Croatia I’m not that invested, but Colonia sound like they’re storing some fun up their collective sleeve.
Estonia Jaagup Tuisk or Uku Suviste (even though Uku had a far better song last year DAMNIT).
Iceland I have three words for you: Daði & Gagnamagnið. Truth be told, Oculis Videre freaks me out.
Moldova Diana Rotaru or Pasha Parfeny. Basically anything that says ‘Moldova’ as opposed to ‘Melodifestivalen reject from 2002’.
Romania Roxen, obviously…but song-wise I’ll take Beautiful Disaster or Cherry Red. And yes, I would like fries with that.
Serbia There’s a girl-group-sized gap in this year’s contest, and Serbia has just the trio to fill it. Team Hurricane all the way.
Copy-paste your wishlist for all of these shows in the comments!
Sweden: Let the battles begin (and end)
It feels like five minutes since Melodifestivalen 2020 kicked off with a DÅ KÖR VI from David, Lina and Linnea…but the shocking news is it’s actually been four weeks. After a few surprises and a fair share of predictability, the Andra Chansen round has arrived. If you’re in Sweden tonight and planning to vote, it’s time to pick your players. For the rest of us, all we can do is cross our fingers for our favourites.
- Duel 1: Vem E Som Oss, Anis Don Demina VS Surface, Ellen Benediktson & Simon Peyron
- Duel 2: Ballerina, Malou Prytz VS Talking In My Sleep, Paul Rey
- Duel 3: Boys With Emotions, Felix Sandman VS We Are One, Frida Öhrn
- Duel 4: Vamos Amigos, Mendez feat. Alvaro Estrella VS Piga Och Dräng, Drängarna
My favourites FTW Vem E Som Oss, Talking In My Sleep, Boys With Emotions + Vamos Amigos. I was hoping these four songs would go DTF in the first place, so of course I want them to take the scenic route to the final if that’s what it takes. Paul and Felix are the ones I’m particularly desperate to see in Friends Arena next Saturday, and it looks like Christer Björkman might too – you’d think they would have been up against each other if that wasn’t the case (unless they both finished 3rd or 4th in their semis, since 3rd-placed entries can only duel 4th-placers). Maybe it’s a bit of both. Also, imagine how great Vem E Som Oss or Vamos Amigos would be as final openers…or closers, for that matter. A party to start and a party to finish? My hands are in prayer position!
So, who WILL win the duels? On paper, two out of the four battles have seemingly obvious winners – 1 (Anis, after all his streaming success) and 3 (Felix, because I can’t believe Frida even made it to AC). While we should never forget the 2017 duel that saw Anton Hagman beat Loreen in a result that had everybody’s jaw on the floor – I call it Statementsgate – I’m pretty confident in predicting the two boys to take out their competition.
The other pairings are much harder to split (not in terms of personal opinion but in terms of what’s most likely to happen IRL). Though I’m praying for Paul Rey to advance – and he has had the streaming success Malou hasn’t – I think girl power will reign supreme and Ballerina will be heading to Stockholm. For the lucky last duel I’m predicting Drängarna to win, since I can easily see them being the fun, esoteric, non-contender addition to the final. As I said before though, it’s all about Vamos Amigos for me.
I’ll leave you with the most banging of songs battling it out tonight in Eskilstuna (fight me) hoping I haven’t jinxed it in the process. Enter Sandman!
On that note, I’m out. Enjoy this last leg of the selection season, and don’t stress over what to watch even though it’s VERY STRESSFUL. Keep calm and join me on my socials (all @EurovisionByJaz) so we can virtual-party like it’s 2020. Because it is.
Can you tell I suck at wrapping things up?