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Denmark ends where Norway begins as selection season gets started

This weekend there may only be one country choosing their entry for Baku, but that single selection is the spark for a very long string of finals that will take us through to March, when Sweden will try to be the last to pick, only to have their thunder stolen at the last minute by a country whose original final was a disaster (probably Ukraine) or who just claimed they would premiere their song on a particular date but lied (probably Azerbaijan).

Basically, if you follow the NFs, you’re going to be busy for the next bajillion weeks. And for the next ten minutes or so, you’re going to be reading some predictions and previews of this weekend’s two major events…

 

DANSK MGP

Denmark is first and foremost, because DMGP is their one and only final – a concept Slovenia should perhaps take note of. With the traditional truckload of pre-ESC disqualifications came one from the Danes, and so there are just nine songs competing tomorrow night. There’s a nice variety of genres on offer, which is great but does make it harder to predict what’s going to happen re: The Results. I’m usually wrong when I make predictions in any case, so maybe I won’t worry too much about that…

The show

  1. Take Our Hearts by Jesper
  2. Best Thing I Got by Aya
  3. Reach for the Sky by Kenneth Potempa
  4. Overflow by Ditte Marie
  5. Baby Love Me by Philip Halloun & Emilia
  6. Forever I B Young by Suriya
  7. Universe by Karen Viuff
  8. Should’ve Known Better by Soluna Samay
  9. Venter by Christian Brøns & Patrik Isaksson

My picks

Take Our Hearts – Jesper is adorable, and if he wins could well be the Paradise Oskar of 2012 (not in a musical way, but in a heart-melting, vote-magnetising way). I didn’t rate this song on the first listen, but on the second something clicked (and it wasn’t my wrists clicking with RSI from too much computer use).

Reach for the Sky – I’m reminded here of Switzerland’s entry in Moscow, The Highest Heights, however I think this song is a little less indie rock than that. It leans more towards mainstream dance, which could work in its favour.

Overflow – It could be Swedish superstar Robyn at the vocal helm of this vessel, but no – it’s Ditte Marie, formerly of Le Freak. This is catchy electro-dance pop that opens up all sorts of possibilities for an exciting stage show (including a wind machine, of course). I’d be happy for it to win.

Forever I B Young – Again, on the first listen, I didn’t get it. Danish dubstep on the precipice of Eurovision – who would’ve thought? But it’s fast becoming my favourite. It may be too complex and have too much attitude to win MGP or do well in Baku, but it’s something different.

Universe – If Suriya isn’t my favourite, then Karen definitely is. Well, her song is; I might hate her if I met her in person. Anyway, Universe is a top-notch up-tempo ballad, in my humble opinion. I like me a good ballad.

My prediction

With only nine contenders, you’d think I’d be able to narrow down to one winner. You’d be wrong. Instead I’m narrowing it down to four, with Take Our Hearts, Best Thing I Got, Overflow or Universe my bets – although if I had to cut that down, I’d pick Take Our Hearts and Overflow.

Personally, I’ll be waving flags – a.k.a. sleeping because I can’t be asked to stay up all night – for Ditte Marie, Suriya and Karen, any of whom I’d be super duper thrilled to see on stage in May. Go ladies!

 

NORSK MGP

I get very excited about Scandinavian selections because I find them less likely to be hit-and-miss where the music’s concerned than others. So, despite not bothering to blog every five seconds about the heats and semis that have been happening practically since Düsseldorf, I thought I’d throw in something about Norway’s NF, the first semi of which is also on tomorrow.

If the majority of the eight songs in this semi are anything to go by, Norway is going to put on a show and a half. Let’s hope that when it comes to the final on February 11th, the winner will have a good chance of qualifying in the even bigger show.  

Here’s the schedule for semi #1:

  1. Elevator by Irresistible feat. Carl Pritt
  2. Så Vidunderlig by Kim André Rysstad
  3. High On Love by Reidun Sæther
  4. You Break It, You Own It by Rudi Myntevik
  5. With Love by Lisa Stokke
  6. Little Bobbi by United
  7. Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri 
  8. Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors

I’m liking Elevator, High On Love, Little Bobbi and Somewhere Beautiful a lot. 

Elevator’s lyrics are shocking – it’s as if the writers have taken the crappiest, most clichéd lyrics from a bunch of other songs and made them into one big crappy, clichéd word-family. However, Elevator is also one of those contagious dance tracks that I listen to without caring a whole lot about the lyrics (something you’re probably surprised by given my abuse of the lyrics one sentence ago).

High On Love isn’t the most original thing I’ve ever heard either, but it’s catchy and accessible. Little Bobbi is a very original song, so much so that I wouldn’t know quite how to label it. Is it R & B? Is it ethno-pop? Is it pointless me even trying? What I do know is that I’m a big fan. It’s one of those songs that you know is going somewhere, and you have to pay attention to figure out where that is. I’d like to say it’s going to the MGP final.

Somewhere Beautiful reminds me of a musical, which in turn reminds me ofLithuania’s ESC entry last year, and that is not a good thing. But Nora’s (studio) voice is amazing and in the end this is a good, if derivative, ballad that begs for mist and chiffon and ponies and candy floss and…okay, maybe not the last few.

As there’s no second chance round in Norway this year, the top three from each semi will get a ticket to the final. I’m going to harness my faulty incredible psychic powers now and predict that Så Vidunderlig, High On Love and Don’t Touch the Flame (which is my least favourite and so is bound to get through) will advance.

 

HELLLOOOOOOOO to those of you still reading this rather long post. Don’t worry, I’m just about done. In fact, I’m completely done.

Enjoy your weekend, and goooodbyyyyyye!

PS – Upcoming NFs: Cyprus(Jan 25th); Belarus (Jan 31st); Malta (Feb 4th)    

Eurovision 2012: by the numbers!

  • 1 controversy surrounding the construction of the venue: I’d say that there should have been a tad more planning put into this project so that nobody had to knock on the doors of a bunch of Azerbaijanis and say ‘I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your breakfast/lunch/dinner/grandmother’s funeral, but I’m afraid we have to build a gigantic stadium on the top of your house now.’ Or something like that. There’s no doubt the Crystal Hall will be amazing, but no amount of amazingness can justify making people homeless. Unless it’s made of actual crystal…NO. Not even then!
  • 42 participating countries so far: Every year, around September, I make a point of having a nervous breakdown. Why? Well, it’s not because my birthday is in that month and I am freaking out about getting older (which would be understandable because last September I turned twenty and found a grey hair). It’s actually because the number of confirmed ESC nations is hovering around the 31-34 mark and I panic that it won’t get any higher. Thankfully, it always does. This year’s contest has the potential to have 44 entries, but if it’s 42, I’ll be more than happy, especially since last year’s returnees, Austria, Hungary and Italy (allegedly) are back once more.
  • 1 comeback country: Give me an ‘M’! Give me an ‘O’! Give me a…oh God, I cannot be bothered. It’s Montenegro, okay? In the past I’ve found it odd that Serbia kicks bottom at Eurovision whereas its former spouse struggled three times in the semis before calling it quits. But, perhaps inspired by the changes being brought about by the presence of juries in the voting, Montenegro are back, and despite my being less than fond of their entries, I’m glad. 2012 will be another chance for them to pick a winner – or at least a qualifier (with their artist being called Rambo Amadeus, the latter is all I’m hoping for).

"Please PLEASE perform for us at Eurovision again, Andrea! We really...oh wait. We have Rambo!"

  • 1 withdrawing country: Poland is out and the mourning is well underway. There’s not much to say on this matter apart from ‘I sure hope Poland come back in 2013, preferably with Edyta Gorniak or Ich Troje (now with yellow or purple hair!)’. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
  • 2 ‘will they, won’t they?’ countries: No, neither of them is Slovakia, although you can expect Slovakia to start messing with us again any day now. It is, in fact, Armenia and Morocco. I have a bad feeling they may be missing in Baku. As far as Armenia goes, I find this uncertain status very sad, because they are a trusty Eurovision nation and the idea that they may have to sit this year’s contest out because they can’t be guaranteed safety in Azerbaijan, to be blunt, sucks. Even more so because Eurovision was created to unite the continent.
  • 26 participants in this year’s final: Wow, that means it’ll be almost as marathon as the 2007 semi during which my entire bottom half went numb from sitting on the couch too long! Awesome! But why is it so? Well, that’s because not only do we have the Big 4 (the UK, Spain, Germany and France) but we have the newest member of that exclusive set, Italy (obviously making it a Big 5. I may not have done any maths since high school, but I can count up to ten), and the host country. Add that to the 20 semi final advancers and you have the magic two-six.
  • 26th of January (when the semi final allocation draw will take place): I don’t honestly believe that any particular performance position – except for maybe last – helps a song to qualify, but that doesn’t stop me from immediately setting about predicting once the draw is done. This January draw will determine who sings in each semi, as well as in which half, and that alone is enough to get speculation going.
  • 2 selected songs: I think it’s safe to say that right now, Switzerland is the favourite to win. Unbreakable by Sinplus would definitely deserve the honour and shiny trophy in my book when compared with the “interesting” “song” that is Suus by Rona Nishliu, Albania’s pick. I’ll leave my spite for some proper reviews later in the year (although, if Suus is reworked enough – i.e. completely – the spite level may have decreased by then).

Rona Nishliu: bringing back the dreads we have missed so much in Eurovision since Beth

  • 8 selected artists: Here’s the role call – Iris, Maya Sar, Ivi Adamou, Anggun, Kaliopi, Rambo Amadeus, Zeljko Joksimović and Pastora Soler. I’ll assume you already know which country they’ll be representing (if you don’t, see if you can figure it out by the names…consider it a fun little game!). It looks like Belgium and Cyprus are going down the Lena route by choosing someone young and fresh, whereas France, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Spain are bringing out the big guns with chart-topping, established artists. As for Bosnia & Herzegovina? Well, they’re taking a leaf out of Iceland and/or Georgia’s book by kidnapping last year’s backing singer and forcing them at glitter-gunpoint to sing this year (but without the violence, I guess – I hear Maya was fully consenting). Personally, I’m hanging out to hear what Zeljko will come up with, as he is the creator of two of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time, and another cracking one. He’s under a heap of pressure to deliver the goods, but I reckon he can.
  • 7 national selections scheduled for January: As I write this, here’s the go – Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, Slovakia and Turkey will have both songs and artists by the end of the month; Denmark’s MGP will be on the 21st; Cyprus will pick a song for Ivi on the 25th; and Belarus will make their decision on the 28th. As you read this, none of the above is likely to be true. NFs are so very fickle!
  • Today’s final number is a triple-digit 100, for the amount of times per day I think about how excited I am for Melodifestivalen. The list of entrants for 2012 reads like a who’s who of Swedish music (which is kind of what it is). I’ll be keeping my eye on…

–          Loreen and Danny Saucedo, two of my favourites from last year

–          The Moniker, since last year he came third (like a certain Eric Saade did back in 2010 before coming back and winning!)

–          Timoteij, because they are amazing. Obviously.

–          Ulrik Munther, the Swedish Justin Bieber (there’s one in every country. Australia’s is Cody Simpson. Who’s yours? Unless you live in Canada in which case your Bieber IS Bieber, and I’m very sorry for that).

–          Afro-Dite, Andreas Lundstedt, Molly Sandèn and Charlotte Perrelli, because they have all graced the Eurovision stage in the past – some once, some 7564 times (and it’s still not enough is it, Charlotte?) and others on a smaller scale.

 

So that’s my overblown numerical take on the stale 2012 news that everyone had known about forever. I hope you enjoyed it, and do come back, because I promise to post more regularly and be more hilarious than ever this year. Well, I did at about 11.58pm on December 31st anyway.

Happy New Year!

 

What are you most looking forward to in the 2012 Eurovision season? Who are you excited to see in the national finals?