SELECTION SEASON 2018 | A shipload of songs for Portugal, Norway’s Grand Prix + the pointy end of Melfest!
It is with great regret – and to be honest, a little relief – that I say hey to you guys on the last Super Saturday of the 2018 ESC NF season. It feels like five minutes ago that the season started, and all of a sudden we’re in the thirties with our set-in-stone song tally and just days away from having a full house (and using the good old sorting tool to its full potential). The positive part of this, though, is that we are now just TWO MONTHS away from the main event.
No, not my birthday…that’s in September. I’m talking about Eurovision, obviously. Isn’t that all I ever do on this blog?
Before the spotlight hits Lisbon, there is more business to take care of. This is a sedate Saturday when you compare it to the last three or four – but the two finals taking place tonight are big ones.
- Norway (Melodi Grand Prix final)
- Sweden (Melodifestivalen final)
Yep – it’s an all-out Scandifest! And even though I’m mad about it denying me the chance to be on Twitter throughout Melfest if I want to watch MGP afterwards sans spoilers (why did they have to be on the same night, for the love of Loreen?!?) I’m also very, very excited. And very, very keen to get on with talking about a) everything that happened last week re: Portugal’s participating songs, b) Melodi Grand Prix, and c) my beloved Melfest (to think I was in Friends Arena for the final a whole year ago!). So I’ll get straight into it.
After a drip-drop few months of the NF season (Safura pun intended), all of sudden we are DROWNING in songs (albeit drowning in an enjoyable way).
It all started with the results of last Saturday’s finals, which saw five songs selected in Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Poland and San Marino. The role call = La Forza by Elina Nechayeva, Monsters by Saara Aalto, Our Choice by Ari Oláfsson, Light Me Up by Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer, and Who We Are by Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening (a Maltese/German production for San Marino, of course). My least favourite of this bunch by far is Who We Are (and if Norway chooses a much, MUCH superior Who We Are tonight, San Marino will be even worse off) while my top pick of the night was La Forza. I’ll tell you why – assuming I still feel the same way – when the EBJ reviews for 2018 kick off. #cliffhanger.
Sweden’s Melodifestivalen stage has made its last pre-Stockholm pit stop, and the final line-up is complete (obviously, since it’s happening tonight…I’m just mentioning it now). Quashing their competition in each of the four Andra Chansen duels last Saturday were Margaret, Renaida, Felix Sandman and Mendez, paving the way for a Schwarznegger-strong final. For more on that, including my winner prediction, keep reading.
We have our host entry at long last, with Portugal choosing Cláudia Pascoal and her fairy floss hair to defend their Eurovision title with O Jardim. It’s a seriously slow burner of a song, and I definitely need time to figure out how I feel about it – but my first impression is good. Not good enough to make me think Portugal will successfully defend their first-ever win, however.
Later in the week, just when we thought the flood of songs had stopped, in surged Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia and Ireland, unveiling entries by artists that had been locked in for a long time (Belgium in particular). It’s no surprise that most of my attention was on my own country’s entry (no. 4…who would have thought), but I’m actually not going to say anything about Jessica Mauboy’s We Got Love at this stage. Do I love it? Do I hate it? YOU’LL NEVER KNOW MWAHAHAHAHA until later on when I’ve formed a proper and objective opinion. Sorry, not sorry.
If I could describe the others in one word, though, Cesár Sampson’s Nobody But You would be ‘smooth’, Aisel’s X My Heart ‘underwhelming’, SENNEK’s A Matter of Time ‘interesting’, Franka’s Crazy ’jazzy’, I guess (and I’m glad Croatia isn’t in the same semi as Latvia, because I love Funny Girl and I don’t want two similar songs clamouring for the same points) and Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s Together ‘sweet’. Stay tuned for those 2018 reviews when I’ll say a lot more than that about all 43 entries.
Now it’s time to talk about some potential entries. Let the Scandifest begin!
We’ve known the artists and the songs for a good few months – and now, it’s finally time for Norway’s MGP to pit them against each other live and narrow ten down to one. And those ten are, in case you needed a refresher:
- You Got Me, Stella & Alexandra
- Talk To The Hand, Aleksander Walmann
- Scandilove, Ida Maria
- Light Me Up, Nicoline
- I Like, I Like, I Like, Tom Hugo
- Stop The Music, Charla K
- Tengo Otra, Alejandro Fuentes
- Moren Din, Vidar Villa
- Who We Are, Rebecca
- That’s How You Write A Song, Alexander Rybak
I don’t know about you, but I reckon this final is pretty freaking beautiful, to quote Robin Bengtsson *struts on treadmill and tries to type at the same time*. You did good, Norway – even if Alexander Rybak isn’t adding a surefire hit to the mix as many of us assumed he would.
Here’s my rundown of the songs that are hits, and those that missed the mark (in my opinion, obviously…feel free to disagree in the comments).
My favourite four (a.k.a. Jaz’s personal super final)
Who We Are In the wake of A Monster Like Me, Mørland brings us another musical masterpiece via Rebecca. It’s a power ballad that moves to morph into Sanna Nielsen-style schlager before each chorus, but (plot twist) doesn’t. The lyrics are familiar but not clichéd or a cheesefest, and each part of the song is as memorable as what comes before it – there’s no relying on a strong chorus to carry everything else. AMAZING. This is the MGP song leading the odds at the moment, and if Rebecca can deliver it close to studio-perfect tonight, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing her on an even bigger stage in May. 9.5/10.
Talk To The Hand I was surprised to see JOWST and Aleksander Walmann so keen to give Eurovision another shot so soon – surprised, but psyched. This time Aleksander is the only billed artist, but we still get to experience JOWST’s brilliant lyrics (Grab The Moment won the EBJ Award for Best Lyrics of 2017, ICYMI). And it’s another catchy, cutting-edge pop track, with a faster pace than the Kyiv 10th-placer. I love it. It’s so much fun, and I will be Spotifying the shiz out of it whether it wins or not. 9.5/10.
Scandilove Speaking of fun…oh my Lordi, this is a party starter. At first I thought it was ridiculous, but all it took was a second listen to get me thinking it was ridiculously epic. It’s unbelievably catchy, bubblegum as heck, and hilariously quotable – ‘Can you make love like a Scandinavian?’, ‘Swim in the ocean, feel the emotion’ and ‘It’s fucking frEEEzing’ are the tip of the iceberg. Sure, it could be an absolute train wreck when performed live, but Ida is innocent until proven guilty. 9/10.
Tengo Otra Who would have thought that the Despacito effect would pop up in Norway’s national final? Or Sweden’s, for that matter? Well, believe it or not, it has – and I’m fine with that when it gives us songs like this. I have no idea what Alejandro is singing about (I’d have better luck if he’d gone with Norwegian) but his melody is exotic and makes me want to dance until sweat is pouring off me and I have to excuse myself to go and down an entire pitcher of sangria. 8.5/10.
The leftovers (a.k.a. the stuff that’s still good, just not great)
That’s How You Write A Song Artist-wise, this is the big one. Song-wise, this is the musical equivalent of a trashy TV movie that’s so bad it’s good. What’s not good is how inaccurate the lyrical instructions are (I think there’s a little more involved in the songwriting process than you’re letting on, Alexander) but who cares when the violin riff is so fantastically cheesy? Fairytale this song is not, but it is my guiltiest guilty pleasure of the whole NF season. 8/10.
Moren Din Up until now, the creepiest mother-related song in the Eurovision bubble was Belgium’s 2014 entry from Axel Hirsoux. Enter Vidar, who wants to get it on with someone else’s (I must stress that) mum and is not shy about making that public knowledge by singing about it on national TV. Subject matter aside, the song is folksy fun and I quite like it – all the more as it’s the only Norwegian-language song competing in MGP this year. 7.5/10.
Stop The Music This is a strange name for a song, but I can’t even make a stupid joke about it along the lines of ‘I wish they had stopped the music’ (HAHAHA not) because it’s a nice song. As ballads go, it’s not the cookie-cutter kind, and I appreciate that. 7.5/10.
You Got Me Holy Haba Haba – Stella’s back! And she’s got her groove back too by the sounds of it (I owe you a congratulatory handshake if you got that reference). Her duet with Alexandra – as opposed to Alexander, Aleksander and Alejandro – is full of energy and packs a decent punch with the chorus, but it doesn’t exactly set my Scandipop-loving soul on fire. 7/10.
Light Me Up This is probably the most nondescript song of the ten. It’s good for radio play or the movie soundtrack of a John Green adaptation, but it’s too lacklustre to compete in a contest. There’s no fight in it. Sorry, Nicoline. 6.5/10.
I Like, I Like, I Like Now here’s a song title I can joke about! It’s not that I don’t like, don’t like, don’t like Tom’s track (though TBH, calling it I Like x1 would have been totally fine) – it’s just one of the few weak links here, and I’d be shocked to see it progress to the super final unless the live performance is miraculously mind-blowing. 6/10.
Making my predictions (a.k.a. embarrassing myself)
Traditionally, the four spots in the Melodi Grand Prix super final/gold final/whatever they’re calling it in 2018 are filled by a few predictable betting favourites, plus a few left-field options that few saw coming (and by ‘few’, I mean ‘me because I’m not very perceptive’). I’m not even sure I would have anticipated Grab The Moment making the cut last year if I’d followed MGP (I was busy swanning around Stockholm at the time). So, I’ve thought long and hard about who I think the final four will be this time…
…which didn’t help at all.
That means it’s stab-in-the-dark time, y’all! And I’m taking a stab at Aleksander Walmann, Vidar Villa, Rebecca and Alexander Rybak being the final four. If Walmann fades into the background after performing in the dreaded second slot, or Vidar isn’t the curveball I suspect he might be (remember En Godt Stekt Pizza?) we could see Ida Maria (if Norway’s feeling frisky) or Stella & Alexandra stepping up instead. Rebecca and Rybak are more or less already there, as far as I’m concerned, but don’t make me bet anything on it.
As for the winner, I do think Rebecca will do it if a) her live vocals are up to scratch, and b) the staging hasn’t been stuffed up and does Who We Are justice. That means the music video should definitely NOT be replicated on stage, as cool of a concept as it is.
What do you think? Am I crazy for not naming Rybak the runaway winner, or is there someone I’ve overlooked? Who do you want to represent Norway in Lisbon? Let me know below.
It’s here. After five cities, four semis and one second chance round, Melodifestivalen has arrived in Stockholm, and the capital is prepping for a final that has turned out to be pretty fantastisk considering the overall, weaker-than-usual standard of this year’s competition. 12 songs remain, and outside of victories on the Spotify charts, only one can win. So who’s going to Eurovision?
- Everyday, Mendez
- All The Feels, Renaida
- A Bitter Lullaby, Martin Almgren
- My Turn, John Lundvik
- Party Voice, Jessica Andersson
- Last Breath, LIAMOO
- Shuffla, Samir & Viktor
- For You, Mariette
- Every Single Day, Felix Sandman
- In My Cabana, Margaret
- Dance You Off, Benjamin Ingrosso
- Fuldans, Rolandz
That golden ticket to the ESC is still up for grabs. There’s no crystal-clear winner forging ahead far enough to make betting on them worthwhile (at least for a scaredy cat with a fragile bank account balance like me). Benjamin is leading the odds and won the audience poll; Felix is topping the charts and gaining more support by the second; Mariette or John Lundvik could still surprise; and LIAMOO might be a miracle worker who raps his way to first place.
A lot is going to come down to who Sweden votes for now that the best songs are in direct competition, and what the international juries take to as well (so we probably won’t see Samir & Viktor shuffla in Lisbon). Before I make my best possible winner prediction, I want to run down the full list of tonight’s twelve songs: not in performance or even alphabetical order (gasp!) but by how much I want them to win. Tell me if you feel the same – or not – in the comments.
Nej, tack…the songs I DON’T want to win Melfest 2018
A Bitter Lullaby I think there is a place for this in the final, and as long as it isn’t first place (which is about as likely as San Marino winning Eurovision this year) I can make peace with it being there. The song has grown on me since listen no. 1, but I still see it being too vanilla to get Sweden a result on par with what they’re accustomed to. 6.5/10.
Party Voice Melfest wouldn’t be Melfest without a touch of schlager, and since Jessica is one of only four females competing tonight, Party Voice is representing schlager and girl power in Stockholm. But, like Christer Björkman, I do NOT want a song like this winning through to the ESC and setting Sweden back 15-20 years. Again, it’s not going to happen…but I just want to make my feelings clear (while dancing like a mother). 7/10.
For You It’s not Mariette’s fault that she had so much pressure on her to produce a clear Melfest winner. Nonetheless, she didn’t. I think she’s almost out of contention for the win (if she couldn’t do it with A Million Years, she shouldn’t be able to with For You). The song and the performance are good, but missing the x factor. 7/10.
Fuldans I can’t be mad that Rolandz went direkt – didn’t we all see it coming? They are officially the Owe Thornqvist of 2018, right down to being handed performance slot 12 in the final. As with Boogieman Blues, I’d be lying if I said I got zero enjoyment out of Fuldans. Knowing it shouldn’t and won’t come anywhere near winning means I’m not worrying about it much. 6/10.
The songs I could get on board with (or should I say ‘All Aboard’ with?)
Everyday This is a bop. So much so that I can forgive the line ‘We were always meant to be’ (seriously, couldn’t they come up with anything else?). The chorus is possibly the catchiest of the year, and the colourful, frivolous staging contrasts well with Mendez’ all-black ensemble. 8/10.
All The Feels Fiercest, most flawless female in the final alert! I’m so thankful Renaida made it out of Andra Chansen so we get to witness her smash it on stage again. All The Feels is addictive, contemporary and perfectly choreographed. The odds aren’t in its favour to win, but if it did I would be happier than Nathan Trent after a lottery win. 8.5/10.
Shuffla They’re leading the pack on Spotify – and it’s understandable – but as with Rolandz, it will be the international juries who drag Samir & Viktor down a scoreboard they might have topped if Sweden had 100% of the power. I’m not super keen on a Shuffla win, so that’s okay with me. Still, imagine the energy this would bring to Eurovision, and how jättebra it would be to have Sweden send a song in Swedish for the first time since 1998! 7/10.
Every Single Day Comparing this song – and Felix himself – to Frans’ win with If I Were Sorry is easy. I ended up loving and supporting that in Stockholm (right down to wearing Frans’ face on my t-shirt) and I can see myself doing the same thing if the Sandman becomes the second-ever winner to come out of Andra Chansen. At this point, though, I like this song, but love others. 8/10.
The songs I want to win
My Turn How did I go from labeling this as a total by-the-numbers cheeseboard to adoring it when I’ve only listened to it once since semi 1? Your guess is as good as mine. But there’s something about the melody, power, and John’s beautiful face that’s worked magic on me. Don’t underestimate this one! 9/10.
Last Breath I get that rap isn’t for everyone, but it’s what LIAMOO does best and that makes his performance of Last Breath authentic and moving. The staging is simple but complementary, and the song is dynamic thanks to the uplifting chorus that gives rap-haters a break from the more intense verses. As Sanna Nielsen would say, I’m in love. 9/10.
In My Cabana But of COURSE. I don’t care if Margaret sings like a drunk pack-a-day smoker (although she has come a long way from her Polish NF performance of Cool Me Down). This song is the bomb dot com – a tropical-reggae-pop banger with numerous insanely catchy bits. Oh boy, oh boy. 9.5/10.
Dance You Off Last but not least, it’s my boy Benjamin with a slick R & B/dance track and the most epic staging I have ever seen. Together they’re an ESC-ready package that I’ll be cheering for tonight so loudly I’ll wake up everyone else in my house, and you’ll probably hear me even if you’re in Friends Arena. 9.5/10.
Predicting the winner, with sweaty palms (and sweaty other places)
I’m going to keep this (kind of) short. Realistically, I think there are four songs that are in it to win it – My Turn, Last Breath, Every Single Day and Dance You Off. As I said before, Samir & Viktor will be dragged down by the international juries, whereas I think Swedish love for Mariette will be decreased now there are stronger songs and performances in play.
Last Breath is too divisive to win, in my opinion – as much as I’d enjoy that. My Turn is probably not current enough. That leaves a likely top two of Benjamin and Felix (who have a bromance going on that Shakespeare would write a sonnet about if he were alive today) and I’m having trouble deciding what’s more likely: the song I actually want to win winning (Dance You Off ) or an Andra Chansen qualifier winning again (Every Single Day). All I feel 100% confident in saying is that Sweden will be sending their fourth guy in a row to Eurovision (so could we please get some girl power á la Sverige in 2019?).
That being said, YOU HAVE TO MAKE AN ACTUAL PREDICTION, JAZ!!! So, for the win, I’m settling on *drumroll*…
Felix. Because I don’t want to jinx Benjamin, but also because I got this feeling inside my bones (Justin Timberlake knows).
Who’s your pick to fly the Swedish flag in Lisbon? Do we agree, or do we have to agree to disagree?
NF UPDATE: What’s Up Next (The Last NF of the Season, Noooooooooo!)
- 11/3 Lithuania (Eurovizija final)
And we still have song reveals from Bulgaria, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia and Russia to look forward to. Are we spoiled or what?
I think I’d better stop the Scandifest now since I could probably publish all of the above as an encyclopedia-thick novel (that nobody would want to read). I hope you enjoy Melfest or MGP if you’re watching one/both tonight, and that you don’t decide to be Eurovision Satan and DM me spoilers from Norway on social media. Have a heart!
Until next time, when the real ESC countdown begins…
We all know Eurovision is a song contest, right?
Well, partly, anyway. I’m sorry for using such aggressive capitals to inform you of this, but if Eurovision was just a song contest, it would be a radio-only affair. Either that or every audience member and viewer at home would be required by law to wear a Donny Montell blindfold for the entire show.
That’s right – it’s a show. There are visuals. There are performances. There are vocals, costumes, props and pyrotechnics (good, bad and badder) that we all love to dissect over social media. Eurovision is both a song and a performance contest, particularly in this day and age. Do you think Ukraine would have come 4th in 2011 had it not been for Lady Dracula, the renowned sand artist? If people weren’t voting for the sand, it may well have been the sand that made them remember Mika Newton and Angel. Even I, as an Angel lover, can vouch for that. If a song is a bit weak, there are few of us who haven’t noted that it will need something special onstage to qualify. The performance matters, people!
So in honour of that, I’ve compiled a list of my favourites from recent history – the performances where clever props were used, vocals were faultless, choreography was mind-blowing, costumes were bang-on and/or the charisma of the artist was second to none. These entries weren’t all success stories, but they floated my boat. Prepare for a sickening amount of gushing as you read through.
Fairytale – Alexander Rybak (Norway 2009)
Kicking off my list (quite literally) is the runaway, record-breaking winner of Year Moscow and his amazing trio of dancers (that’s where the literal kicking comes in). Not to mention his two stellar backing vocalists, dapper waistcoat and supreme violin-miming abilities. I have to admit, I didn’t see Norway as an obvious winner at the time, what with a generally high standard of performances all round and particularly stiff competition from the likes of Iceland, Turkey and even *gasp* the UK. But looking back, I can see how they managed to destroy the other 41 entries. The choreography of both the dancers and backing singers, plus Alex’s boyish charm, polished up their three minutes so much so they simply outshined everyone else.
Taken By A Stranger – Lena (Germany 2011)
What I loved most about Lena’s title-defending appearance was how much of a contrast it was to her winning one a year earlier. Back then, she’d been an unknown, inexperienced 19-year-old who had a mighty fine pop song, and the gift of dancing so awkwardly that it was somehow endearing, up her LBS (little black sleeve). That Lena was cute and ditsy. The 2011 version was nothing of the sort. She strutted out on to that stage looking like a sexpot (whatever that is) and owned a dark and mysterious performance perfectly suited to her second Eurovision song. From the costume, to the dancers (again with the dancers!) to the moody lighting and that onscreen glass-shatter, this was a sophisticated show that proved Miss Meyer-Landrut had grown up.
Eastern European Funk – InCulto (Lithuania 2010)
Now for something I wouldn’t dream of calling ‘sophisticated’, but would call ‘extremely well-executed fun’. Say what you will about InCulto, you can’t deny they sounded brilliant live, especially when they were making music with their mouths one minute and harmonising like champions the next. That was the credibility factor taken care of. The fun comes in the form of the catchy song, instruments made out of secondhand gym mats, and the sight of five grown men ripping off their trousers to reveal sequined short-shorts. You couldn’t ask for a much better opening for a semi-final, and I think it’s a shame this didn’t squeeze into the final.
Lejla – Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)
A performance doesn’t have to be OTT to get attention. And so it was that no amount of pyrotechnics, costume changes or Svetlana Loboda brand Hell Machines could have made this one from our dearly departed B & H any more magical. It was subtle body movements instead of dance, and that stunning starlit background, that made me feel like I’d just witnessed something special – something that maybe I’d end up writing about on The Greatest ESC Blog In The World one day. Well, I was half right. I’m sure the fact that Lejla is one of my all-time favourite entries makes me a little biased here, but I honestly think this performance was perfection.
Let Me Try – Luminita Anghel & Sistem (Romania 2005)
This is another song I’m mad about (and so was Romania evidently, since they sent it again in 2006) but it’s possible that I love the ‘industrial chic’ staging a bit more. Luminita’s killer vocal and general bad-ass commandment of the stage was the foundation – the batter, if you will – of a successful recipe, but the icing on the cake was most definitely all the banging and grinding that went on. My favourite part is when Luminita gets in on the action, but that ever-present element of danger was pretty exciting too. If I remember correctly, a few of Kiev’s bigwigs got their knickers in a knot over the flying sparks…but apparently relaxed enough to allow Ruslana to open the final with a gigantic blowtorch. Go figure.
Show Me Your Love – Tina Karol (Ukraine 2006)
The Ukrainians know how Eurovision should be done. I’m just saying that to prepare you for the multiple Ukrainian acts you’re yet to encounter on this list. The first is the lovely Tina Karol, who wore the most magnificent pair of boots I had ever laid eyes on in Athens, and who had an attractive and well-dressed posse on hand to dance around her a) with tambourines, b) without tambourines, c) with detachable skirts, and d) without detachable skirts. Oh, and e) with skipping ropes. This performance had it all! Tina was partly responsible for that, looking so hot and singing her guts out.
Suus – Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012)
Here’s a woman who was almost entirely responsible for making her country’s performance great. Rona of the Gravity-Defying Dreadlocks found some way of nailing the emotion required by Suus every single time, complete with an expression of intense anguish throughout and that clincher of a sob at the end. As a result, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from her (although that could have been something to do with that infamous outfit). I would also like to congratulate the well-timed lighting person for coordinating the dramatic red glow with the music. A virtual high five from me to you.
Shady Lady – Ani Lorak (Ukraine 2008)
And so begins the Ukrainian domination. Ani Lorak’s performance was another in which absolutely every element was on point. Allow me to demonstrate (kinda): she looked uh-maaaayzing; her vocals were excellent, and would be even for someone standing still; the choreography was in total sync with the lyrics and music of Shady Lady; there was that nifty light box that was useful for silhouettes, posing in front of and climbing on top of, and even though it was a big prop it wasn’t too flashy; and, Ani gave it 110% of her energy. I am one of the party who believe Ukraine should have taken out the contest in Belgrade, which says a lot because I am also one of the party who LOVE Dima Bilan.
Sweet People – Alyosha (Ukraine 2010)
Knock, knock! Who’s there? Oh, it’s Ukraine again. This time, it’s their jaw-dropper of 2010, a relatively pared-back performance (by Ukrainian standards, anyway) that made a massive impact. I don’t think many people were enthused by Sweet People when it was internally selected, especially after two songs had come and gone before it. I certainly wasn’t. But this was a song that thrived on being performed live, and the way it was presented changed everything. Alyosha appeared on that big stage all by herself, dressed in a fabulously weird getup, and proceeded to belt out her song like nobody had ever belted one before, accompanied only by flashing lights and the deft application of a wind machine. Nothing else was required to make this incredible.
Wild Dances – Ruslana (Ukraine 2004)
She won the contest in ’04, and now she tops my list of the greatest Eurovision performances in recent history. The staging of Ruslana’s Wild Dances has become something of a model for the perfect balance of…well…IT ALL. For me, it was at a level that made all of the other performances look a little dodgy (except for Lane Moje, of course). From the opening horns to the discarding of fur capes; from the fierce Xena costumes to Ruslana getting down with her backup dancers; from the whip-cracking to that final pose, it couldn’t have been done any better. This was one of the most deserved victories ever, and I’m yet to come across anyone who thinks another song should have won.
Do you think these performances deserve a belated round of applause? If not, which ones would make your list?
PS – UPDATE! The results of last week’s Big 6 poll are in, and here they are.
Have your votes predicted what will happen to the auto-finalists in Malmö? In a mere eight weeks time, we’ll find out…
Norway is just a few days away from choosing its entry for Baku from a pretty impressive bunch of songs (more on that this weekend), so it’s time for another country profile. The country has had its fair share of ups and downs in the contest (let’s be honest, mostly downs) but with the highest ever winning score to its name, Norway has something to show off about when things don’t go so well. Here’s a look back at their time in the ESC so far…
NORWAY: THE STATS
ESC debut: 1960
No. of entries: 50
Gold medals: 3
Silver medals: 1
Bronze medals: 1
Top 10 finishes: 19
Top 10 success rate: 38%
Top 5 finishes: 10
Top 5 success rate: 20%
Wooden spoons (last places!): 8
Semi final qualifications: 3/4
Qualification success rate: 75%
My favourite entry: Nocturne by Secret Garden (1995), for the most successful use of violins in a Eurovision – until 2009 that is. And because it gives me goosebumps (and not because the violin is out of tune).
My least favourite entry: On My Own by Haldor Laegrid (2001). Not even their nul-pointers make me as depressed as this non-zero-but-still-unsurprisingly-last entry, or as averse to green pants. Not that I was particularly fond of green pants pre-Copenhagen.
More of the memorable: Mil Etter Mil by Jahn Teigen (1978); La Det Swinge by Bobbysocks (1985); I’m Not Afraid to Move On by Jostein Hasselgård (2003); In My Dreams by Wig Wam (2005); Fairytale by Alexander Rybak (2009).
Their best stage show: Fairytale. Disagree? Why don’t you try kicking a hat off a stand like that (HANDY HINT: try it outside of the hallway. I accept no responsibility for injuries caused by you falling through a wall).
Their best costume/s: Jahn Teigen/ Christine Guldbrandsen. I can’t choose between the world’s stretchiest braces, and a dress made out of a shredded bed sheet. Did that make it sound like I don’t actually like these costumes at all? Well let me tell you something; I wore braces AND a bed sheet to my school ball and got quite the reception.
Their best vocalist/s: Didrik Solli-Tangen. His epically long note at the end of My Heart is Yours more than made up for any “I’m 22 but somehow my voice is breaking” vocal fails that may or may not have occurred earlier on.
What I love about Norway in the ESC: It’s often hard to predict what Norway are going to come up with – look at the last few years. Who would have assumed that 2011 would be their year for afro-schlager (term not coined by moi)? Not that anyone would expect that from any country in Eurovision. But that’s the beauty of it. They don’t win very often, but when they do, there’s always something about the win – e.g. a record-breaking score – that keeps people talking.
COMING UP: It’s three more songs and a Swedish semi on another Super Saturday!
Here’s a few questions for you: do you keep up to date with the careers of any Eurovision winners? Are you still listening to their music? Have you become enough of a fan to like them on Facebook? Or have you forgotten all about them (shame on you)?
My answers vary, so I decided to do a little more research to see how some of the last decade’s champions have fared since they earned enough douze points to earn them a place in the history books (the ESC history books, that is: the most interesting history books out!). Here’s what I discovered…
Winner of: 2003 (Riga, Latvia) with Every Way That I Can
Since her win, Sertab has released 6 albums and 11 singles. Her winning song went to #1 in Turkey, Sweden and Greece, but she has made limited chart appearances in the last few years – despite such prolific musical activity. Her singles that have topped the charts are Here I Am (2003) and Bu Böyle (2009), which both made it in Turkey. Sertab’s last official release was Açik Adres in 2009, which reached #3 there.
My pick for Sertab: Here I Am http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8atJYRVFWmc&ob=av2e
Listen to her latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ke8xhFUr7k
Winner of: 2004 (Istanbul, Turkey) with Wild Dances
Since exchanging her Xena, Warrior Princess leather for…well, more leather, Ruslana has released 4 albums and 12 singles. Her winning song went to #1 in Greece, Ukraine and Belgium, and #2 in Turkey. The majority of her releases since have been Ukrainian singles and have charted consistently, with Ring Dance with the Wolves (2005), Skazhy Meni (2005), Dyka Enerhiya (2006), Vidlunnia Mriy (2008) and Moon of Dreams (2008) all reached the #1 position. Her latest release is Wow (2011) which peaked at #7.
My pick for Ruslana: Moon of Dreams http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFkJLhgyQag&feature=related
Listen to her latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFEDBrgYbkM
Winner of: 2005 (Kyiv, Ukraine) with My Number One
Helena has released 5 albums, 22 singles and numerous EPs since triumphing in Kyiv. Her chart successes have been almost countless! Her winning song went to #1 in Greece and Sweden and she has barely been out of the top 10 in Greece since. Lately, she hasn’t charted charts as solidly as she did in the few years post-win, but nonetheless continues to be a hugely popular artist. She’s topped the charts in Greece and Cyprus with Mambo! (2005), and in Greece with Heroes (2006), Fos (2007), Mazi Sou (2007), To Fili Tis Zois (2007), Porta Gia Ton Ourano (2008), I Kardia Sou Petra (2008) and Baby It’s Over (2011). Her latest single is Love Me Crazy.
My pick for Helena: Baby It’s Over, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jBuniWjsgw&feature=fvwrel
Listen to her latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEmFeyaS9GQ
Winner of: 2008 (Belgrade, Serbia) with Believe
Dima has produced 3 albums and 10 singles since ripping his shirt open in Serbia. Believe failed to make an impact on the charts, only just making the Top 30 in Sweden, and slipping in to the Top 100 in Belgium and Germany. Several of his other singles have reached #1 in Russia. His latest album, Dreamer features a duet with singer Anastacia, and the title track was the latest to be released in March 2011.
My pick for Dima: Changes, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tayy4Hiyn28&feature=related
Listen to his latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3cd0OkaPP0
Winner of: 2009 (Moscow, Russia) with Fairytale
Alexander’s record victory saw him catapulted to the top spot in Norway, Ireland, Russia, Finland, Greece, Sweden and Denmark, as well as making the Top 10 in the UK (an honourable achievement for a modern Eurovision entry!) and charting in Australia. He’s since released 3 albums and 7 singles. His first single after Eurovision, Funny Little World, went to #1 in Norway, but his latest Swedish-language single Resan Till Dig has failed to chart anywhere, unfortunately. Still, Alex scored a whopping great legion of loyal fans alongside his whopping great score in Moscow.
My pick for Alexander: Fela Igjen (feat. Opptur), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaH-VAC-fxs
Listen to his latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elj2rrnqY7Q