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Eric Saade, Alexey, and the mysterious absence of Azerbaijan…

So we thought we’d be ringing in this fine Sunday (depending on where you are in the world) with all 43 songs picked in preparation for the running order draw on Monday, right? But this is Eurovision, and since when did things ever go 100% smoothly in the lead-up? Exactly. But before I get to the issues and absentees, there are two more songs to be dissected after last night – one from Sweden, and the other from Russia.

Let’s begin with Sweden, and the genetically blessed homosapien that is Eric Saade, who managed to beat out fellow repeat-offenders like Linda Bengtzing and Sanna Nielsen in the Globen Arena with Popular.

I didn’t particularly rate this song at first, but was still cheering it on (for reasons I’m sure you can hazard a guess at). After a few listens, however, I have been won over to the point where right now, I’d give it 10 points. Manboy I would have given the douze, but if I deem a song worthy of the 8 or 10 it still means I’m loving it. You can guarantee that Eric will give it all he’s got onstage; hopefully deviating a little from the Melodifestivalen performances (he may have to deviate a lot if the consequences of shattered glass are any indication). He’s in the first half of the second semi, so it will be a tough battle to qualify, but if anyone can do it, he can. Good luck, I say!

For anyone interested/who hasn’t seen them yet, here are the results of the Melodifestivalen final:

  1. Eric Saade/ POPULAR/ 193
  2. Danny Saucedo/ IN THE CLUB/ 149
  3. The Moniker/ OH MY GOD!/ 124
  4. Sanna Nielsen/ I’M IN LOVE/ 114
  5. Swingfly/ ME AND MY DRUM/ 93
  6. The Playtones/ THE KING/ 79
  7. Linda Bengtzing/ E DET FEL PÅ MEJ/ 58
  8. Nicke Borg/ LEAVING HOME/ 57
  9. Sara Varga/ SPRING FÖR LIVET/ 50
  10. Brolle/ 7 DAYS AND 7 NIGHTS/ 29

It’s interesting to note that neither of the Andra Chansen qualifiers came last – in fact, The Moniker managed a commendable third place, higher than both Sanna and Linda who both qualified first in their semis. I’m not surprised by Brolle’s last place, as that was the song I had been least impressed with this year for Sweden. It is a shame for Sanna, though, to miss out AGAIN by a short distance. I don’t think she’ll give up though – she’ll be croaking her way through the schlager on day release from the nursing home.

Now for a quick word on the Russians, who enlisted RedOne to pen a song for them this year, performed by Alexey Vorobyov. After yet another early leak, the song was presented for us all to see without getting into trouble last night:

I have to say, if I didn’t already know who was behind this song, I never would have guessed it to be the man responsible for a chunk of Lady Gaga’s back catalogue and Love Generation’s MF entry. It doesn’t sound very RedOne-ish at all. Do I like it? Yes. It’s not a real boat-floater for me, but it’s quite catchy. Alexey’s heavy accent does get in the way a bit, but I suppose to no greater an extent than Koldun’s did in 2007, and remember how well he went down (FYI – Work Your Magic is my ringtone at the moment – how vintage!). I wouldn’t be shocked if it missed out on a place in the final, unlike last year when I was flabbergasted that Russia did make it (and only narrowly lost out on a top-ten finish). It gets 6 points from me, right here, right now.

While you’re figuring out how you feel about Saturday, here’s some more Düsseldorf dribs and drabs to consider.

–          A song we all should have been rating today is from Azerbaijan, who were down to reveal it yesterday, but for some reason did not. They’re cutting things a bit fine, with the 14th being the selection deadline, so let’s hope that there’s some news on that in the very near future. The website of the Azerbaijani broadcaster doesn’t reveal any more than is already known by us fans…

–          Another country putting us on edge is Belarus, who initially picked the song Born In Bielorussia for Zooey Deschanel…er, Anastasia Vinnikova (the resemblance is uncanny). The lyrics were soon deemed too controversial and so were rewritten, with the song’s title changing to I Am Belorussian. But wait, there’s more! It was then revealed that the song had been publicly performed before the 1st of September 2010, against the EBU rules, and so now, it has been disqualified, and a new song, called I Love Belarus, will (allegedly) premiere on the 14th, just in time. Watch this space to see if that is actually what happens!

–          English versions of this year’s native-language entries are slowly emerging, with the Netherlands and Iceland now set to use the former. Part of the charm of these two entries for me was the Dutch and Icelandic they were sung in, so naturally I am disappointed. I haven’t heard Sigurjon’s Friends’ Coming Home (as it’s now known), but I have heard Never Alone from 3JS, and I have to say it hasn’t lost much in the transition from Dutch to English – it still appeals as much as ever.

A day before the deadline, and there’s still two entries MIA. Will they both make it on time? Or will there be prices to pay? (Quite literally – a hefty fine or two). It’s more dramatic than a soap opera cliffhanger. Don’t you just love it?