Blog Archives

EBJ’s top 10…Melodifestivalen entries of the past five years (+ keep voting for the 2014 winner!)

Hej, children of the universe. I’m assuming that’s how Molly Smitten-Downes would address anyone she came across, although I’d say we were more like children of the Euro-verse. But I’m not here to talk about the freshly debuted UK entry for Copenhagen (that’s what my reviews are for). Nope, as promised, I’m here to celebrate Melodifestivalen just days before the 2014 final takes place in Stockholm. It’s going to be a hotly-contested comp this year, with any one of three, four, or even five songs being possible winners, which means, IMO, that Melfest is back to its former glory. You know, the kind of glory that exists in countries that haven’t just won Eurovision and really aren’t keen on winning again.

Although the 2013 final was strong, the standard in the semis was pretty low. This year, it was much higher, meaning we’ve lost some gems along the way. That’s happened on many occasions over the years. I have literally shed tears over the loss of Melfest entries at the semi stages. So, to be relevant rather than random AND revisit some of these gems, today I’m revealing my top 10 Melodifestivalen songs, 2009-2013 (because, as I have mentioned before, covering the past ten years plus is too darn difficult). There are some in this list which did make it past the semis, with a few doing very well indeed. But I’ve found that a great deal of my favourites were clearly not Sweden’s favourites at the time. Check out the lucky ten and let me know whether any of them are your personal favourites, or if I officially have the worst taste on the planet (if you’re going to say that, however, word it nicely).

 

PS – I chose not to include any songs that won Melfest and went on to Eurovision, because I see those more as ESC entries to be included in other lists. I also have not included any songs from the 2014 edition, because they’re still so fresh and can’t be compared to songs I’ve been listening to for, like, ever.

PPS – If you haven’t yet voted in my poll to see who will win MF on Saturday, you can find it at the end of this post, and I will bow down to you and do all your bidding if you have your say. Voting closes on Friday, so hurry and help me predict the winner!

 

Now, on with my top 10 Melfest entries of the past five years, beginning with #10.

 

#10 | Baby Goodbye by EMD (2009, 3rd in final)

The three ridiculously good-looking guys who make up EMD – Erik Segerstedt, Mattias Andreasson and Danny Saucedo – have all participated in Melfest outside of the group, but it was together that they were at their most schlager-tastic and suave. Baby Goodbye has been heard time and time again in Melfest (let’s be honest, Manboy and Youngblood are retitled versions of the same thing) but for some reason, I find it the most appealing. I suppose the hypnotic power of the three handsome men singing it could be influencing that opinion a little.

 

#9 | Better Or Worse by Julia Alvgard (2011, DNQ)

Julia was one of two wildcard entries into Melfest 2011, and like the other, she failed to win over the voters. She did win over a certain Australian fangirl in a big way, though (that’s me, in case you were wondering). I fell in love with her unusual synth-pop number instantly after hearing it for the first time, and whilst I knew it didn’t have much hope of going to the final, let alone winning, I was still a walking sadface when Julia ended up 6th in her semi. I will admit, the stage performance featuring those giant lampshades was disturbing, so perhaps that was partly to blame.

 

#8 | Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andreasson (2012, DNQ)

He wasn’t suited up when he went solo, but EMD’s Mattias was still smooth and suave in Year Euphoria – and that was before he’d even opened his mouth to bust out the first line of the slick R & B track that is Förlåt Mig. It’s not the coolest use of light sabers since Kate Ryan (almost) nailed them in Athens that makes me get down to this. It’s the general catchiness and clever construction, build worth waiting for, and the fact that it’s in Swedish, which somehow elevates it for me – perhaps because songs like this often have nauseating lyrics when they’re in English.

 

#7 | Begging by Anton Ewald (2013, 4th in final)

He’s one of a bunch of artists who returned to MF this year, and like the majority, Anton’s come back with a weaker song, IMO. Natural’s just fine, but Begging was the bomb! It took me a few listens to really ‘get’, which may explain why Sweden didn’t vote it straight through to the final, but to Andra Chansen instead. Not only did it emerge from AC alongside eventual winner You, but it out-scored six songs that had been voted straight through. It’s on this list because it manages to be contemporary and mainstream at the same time as being original in its genre…and, of course, because it’s freaking catchy. That’s my main criteria.

 

#6 | Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky (2012, 9th in final)

Miss Miskovsky has penned songs for, among others, the Backstreet Boys – one of my many true loves – so it’s not surprising that I’m a fan of her own music. This effort from Melfest two years ago sounds nothing like a BSB chart-topper, but that makes it no less beautiful. It’s hauntingly so, if I may say so without sounding like a ponce. Whether that’s from the unusual instrumentation, her voice or a combo of both, I don’t know. I just love it. It’s a shame it didn’t do better in the final, but 2012 was a strong year, and Lisa didn’t have crab-dancing in her repertoire.

 

#5 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt (2012, DNQ)

Andreas did cheese as part of Six4One at Eurovision, and plenty of it as part of Alcazar (and what do you know? They’re doing it again in 2014!). When he donned a metallic dinner jacket and ventured on stage by himself, there was no cheese to be seen anywhere. Aldrig Aldrig was like the musical love child of Coldplay, Urban Symphony and Donny Montell, and I mean that in a positive way. It had symphony, claps possibly borrowed from the Friends theme song, a mod-disco beat, and, once again it was in Swedish, which instantly made it more exotic in my eyes. Andreas performed it like a boss, and I wouldn’t mind him doing it again some day if he ever manages to shake off those pesky bandmates of his. JKIDOLOVEALCAZARISWEAR!

 

#4 | Mystery by Dead By April (2012, 7th in final)

Am I a rock fan? Not really. Metal (if it ain’t Lordi)? Uh, no. How about songs that incorporate death growls? Forget about it! That was until Dead By April somehow won me over with the gentle verses and irresistible chorus that contrasted so nicely with the aforementioned screaming to form a cohesive piece of awesomeness. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s because I actually have no idea what it is about Mystery that I can’t get enough of – it really is a mystery. The massive crush I had on lead singer Zandro at the time may have played a part. Could it be another case of EMD syndrome?

 

#3 | Soldiers by Ulrik Munther (2012, 3rd in final)

2012 was a seriously amazing year for Melfest, standard-wise. Sweden’s answer to Peter Pan, Ulrik Munther, provided yet another example of that with the rousing, anthemic Soldiers, which I’m sure has won some sort of award for Best Use of a Harmonica. I don’t say this very often, but in this case it’s the lyrics that have a lot to do with how I feel about this song. They are flawless and meaningful, and don’t rhyme ‘love’ with ‘above’, or ‘heart’ with ‘apart’ or any of that cliché crap. It’s genius songwriting, is what it is. I also have a thing for the drumming, which is suitably militaristic and makes me want to march right into Neverland with Peter/Ulrik and play the harmonica for the rest of eternity. Kind of.

 

#2 | Kom by Timoteij (2010, 5th in final)

I’m yet to come across a person who didn’t at least like this a lot, so expect a great deal of criticism if you tell me Timoteij aren’t your cup of tea! The quartet and their respective instruments turned folk on its head by making it pop and making it dramatic. Everything they produce is in this vein and is epic, but Kom is the pinnacle to date. Just try getting that chorus and/or riff out of your head. The song won the OGAE Second Chance Contest in 2010 and made us all wonder what could have been, since things didn’t go so well for Anna Bergendahl.

 

 

Finally *drum roll*, my favourite Melodifestivalen entry of the past five years is…

 

#1 | You’re Out of My Life by Darin (2010, 4th in final)

Beating Timoteij in the 2010 final (despite qualifying below them in their semi) was Eurovision 2013 interval act and my favourite artist period, Darin. He did so with a ballad that gave me goosebumps on the first listen, and still does approximately 10 995 listens later. I’ll admit, the live performance didn’t have the exact impact of the studio version (that money note is a toughie) but it’s still magic as far as I’m concerned. I know hardly anyone will agree with me on this, but know that whichever songs give you the bumps probably wouldn’t do the same to me. YOOML is my personal stunner, and sometimes I do wish it had beaten Anna. And Salem. And Eric Saade. Man, 2010 RULED!

 

EBJ extras: the ones that just missed out…Keep On Walking by Salem Al Fakir (2010); Try Again by Dilba (2011); My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen (2011); Elektrisk by Anniela (2011); På Väg by Abalone Dots (2012); Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandén (2012); Hello Goodbye by Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli (2013).

 

So that’s that…what did you think? Do we have anything in common? Yay or nay, I think we can agree that this Saturday night is one to look forward to. In the latest Melodifestivalen final, one of ten songs will become a Eurovision entry, whilst the others will compete for places on lists like this one for years to come. You can still help me decide which one will come out on top by voting in the poll that I mentioned earlier, and have been bugging everyone on social media etc about for days now. Here it is!

You still have the power to change the results. You won’t win a prize if you do, but it may make you feel superior for a few minutes. #winning?

I’ll be back on Saturday with the final poll results, predictions and other (hopefully) entertaining stuff re: NF season. Takk for reading, and see you then!

EBJ Signature

 

A surprising post (not): reviewing + predicting February’s final super Saturday

Hey hey, it’s Saturday! No, this post isn’t about the TV show of the same name that you will know if you’re a fellow Australian. It’s actually about Eurovision (shocking). At last, we have a Saturday that is truly super, with multiple entries being decided and one being debuted. As such, there’s no time to waste with long intros. I’ll make up for that next time with an extra long and extra boring intro, but for now…lights, camera, action!

 

Hungary…for Eurovision victory?  

dal2014

Since they rejoined the Eurovision family in 2011 (when the last memory we had of them was an over-tanned dance machine wearing the tightest pants ever manufactured) Hungary has been on form. Sure, they haven’t constantly hit the highest of heights, but they’ve qualified for the final every year since Kati Wolf of the Bouffant Hairdo, and made top 10-worthy magic with Kedvesem last year (still my one true love). ByeAlex got me excited to see what his country would produce next, and then so did all the fans who said the A Dal lineup for 2014 was über awesome. As such, I couldn’t resist having a sneak listen to the final eight, chosen after quarter and semi finals – despite my earlier decision to leave Hungary as a total surprise. So yeah. I did. And here they are.

  • Running Out of Time by Victor Király
  • We All by Bogi
  • The Last One by New Level Empire
  • Csak A Zene by Depresszió
  • Running by Kállay-Saunders
  • It Can’t Be Over by Fool Moon
  • Brave New World by Dénes Pál
  • A Legnagyobb Hős by HoneyBeast

The video of snippets I watched told me that yes, the level is pretty high. A few of the songs grabbed me immediately, and the rest stroked me gently on the shoulder as if to say ‘you could grow to love us’. If I had to pick favourites based on just a taste, these would be my most delicious picks:

Running Out of Time cute but not cheesy pop with a chorus that sticks.

The Last One – it’s kind of dance and kind of not. The mystery intrigues me.

Running – this guy did very well in A Dal last year, but I like this song much better.

It Can’t Be Over – I do love me some Group Cosmos, but if this wins it could well be the best a cappella entry to have graced the ESC stage.

So who’s going to try and out-score Kedvesem in Copenhagen? I guess a more important question is, should I step back and leave the predicting to those of you who’ve heard the songs in their entirety? I think yes. I would be happy for any of my preferences to win, so let me know below if that’s likely to happen, or if I’m going to have to learn to love something else. How high do you think Hungary can go at Eurovision this year?   

 

Hola, Mira Quién Va A Eurovisión!

That’s ‘Look Who’s Going To Eurovision’, if Google Translate is correct. I have to hand it to Spain for being extremely organised without seeming to be at all. They had their songs, they had their NF date, and we knew nothing about either of them until very recently. Since then, however, we’ve all listened to and passed mostly positive judgment on the five prospective entries, and tonight is the moment of truth. Which one of these ridiculously good-looking Spaniards will fly the red and gold in May?

L-R: Raúl, Brequette, La Dama, Ruth and Jorge, pretending that they don’t hate each other’s guts. Sweet!

L-R: Raúl, Brequette, La Dama, Ruth and Jorge, pretending that they don’t hate each other’s guts. Sweet!

  1. Más (Run) by Brequette
  2. Estrella Fugaz by La Dama
  3. Dancing In The Rain by Ruth Lorenzo
  4. Aunque Se Acabe El Mundo by Jorge González
  5. Seguir Sin Ti by Raúl

We have dance, we have ballads, and we have key changes. We also have a lot of awkward Spanglish which seems unnecessary, but that can be taken care of later (it better be *shakes fist threateningly*). There are great, good, and not-so-good elements in all of them, but there is one that stands out for me. If I had the power, I’d rank them as follows:

  1. Más (Run)
  2. Aunque Se Acabe El Mundo
  3. Estrella Fugaz
  4. Dancing In The Rain
  5. Seguir Sin Ti

Si – Brequette’s the one, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not convinced she could do a Pastora Soler, but her song is the only one that doesn’t put me off with something dated or cliché (such as the painful key change in Raúl’s song). It does bear a resemblance to a certain other song, and if it wins the cries of plagiarism will be heard around the world because that’s what people do these days (just STAHP!) but let’s face it, most songs do sound like other songs in some way (so JUST STAHP!).

Going by the predictions of the masses, tonight is ultimately a catfight between Brequette and Ruth Lorenzo, so it will be interesting to see how the results pan out. I do believe it will be one of the two that ends up on top, and even if that one is Ruth I can make peace with it. What about you? Who should Spain select and who should they steer clear of?

 

Sweden – have they saved the best for last?

It’s hard to comprehend that we’ve already arrived at the last semi of Melodifestivalen. Time flies when you’re enduring the agonizing wait between national finals that are actually final.

The Örnsköldsvik semi includes a lot of returning artists, i.e. Alcazar and last year’s surprise success, Anton Ewald (a.k.a. one of my many future husbands). But do big guns come armed with big songs? Listen and decide for yourself here.

  1. Blame It On The Disco by Alcazar
  2. Fight Me If You Dare by I.D.A
  3. Hollow by Janet Leon
  4. Raise Your Hands by Ammotrack
  5. Hela Natten by Josef Johansson
  6. Ta Mig by Linda Bengtzing
  7. En Himmelsk Sång by Ellinore Holmer
  8. Natural by Anton Ewald  

Stefan Mattsson (1)

I think Sweden has almost saved the best for last. This semi’s just a little weaker than last week’s, which I thought was the best so far. The returning artists are bringing it for the most part, and there are a few newcomer surprises too. Here’s my top 4:

Hollow – this is hard to compare to Janet’s last entry Heartstrings, but I think I prefer this. It’s a pop ballad that is less depressing than the title would have you believe.

Hela Natten – say hello to my hands-down favourite of the semi! Josef looks like a younger version of Darin (Swedish superstar/Melfest alumni/my beloved) and his song could have been lifted from a Darin album easily. His voice is different though, and if he’s a good live performer this could be amazing in the arena.

Ta Mig – Linda has swapped schlager for electronic pop with a rock edge, and it works for her. Song-wise, I’d rather E Det Fel På Mig (her last effort) but this has appeal.

Natural – Anton’s Begging was a surprise success last year, and he’s the favourite of favourites in this semi. Natural isn’t quite as original, but it’s a perfectly wonderful club banger. I hope his backing singers are up to the task of carrying him, Eric Saade-style…

Now, to predict. I’ve been trying to figure out why my Melfest predictions always feel wrong no matter how I configure them. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t know how Sweden thinks, so I’m constantly uncertain. Oh well…embrace the uncertainty!

To the final: Linda and Anton

To Andra Chansen: Alcazar and Janet

I might be putting too much faith in the returning artist gimmick there. We’ll see. I’m actually hoping for yet another favourite + underdog pairing to go straight to the final. Anton and Josef, anyone?

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe…

There are a couple of other things happening tonight, but they’re hardly worth mentioning. All we’re getting out of them is THREE MORE SONGS, PEOPLE! Gosh! Why are you being so blasé about it?

Oh wait, that was me.

  • Latvia’s Dziesma final (another one as yet unfollowed by moi) is ready to roll with 12 songs in the running to represent. I’ve never considered Latvia’s NF one not to be missed, and in missing it again, all I know is that one half of PeR obviously didn’t take their Malmö fail too hard, since he’s back already to have another shot. And also that Samanta Tina is becoming the Latvian equivalent of Sanna Nielsen, so if she wins tonight I’ll take it as a good omen for Sanna.
  • FYR Macedonia is presenting their (freshly changed) song tonight after internally selecting Tijana Dapčević around the same time dinosaurs began to walk the earth. Instead of premiering the initially selected Pobeda, they’ll be premiering the English version of Tamu Kaj Što Pripagjam…at least from what I gather. It’s called To The Sky, which I suppose is a better name for a competition song than To The Bottom of the Scoreboard With Zero Points. My fingers are crossed for a gem.
  • Lithuania’s mammoth quest to find their entry/rep continues with show no. 456386858711…haven’t we all lost count? This time, something significant IS taking place, with the song (but not the artist) to be determined. That’s as far as I can see, anyway. It’s Confusion Central over there in Lithuania.

 

Yikes – I think that’s enough to satisfy even the most demanding ESC fan. The only bad thing is that, if you don’t want to fry your brain, you’ve got to choose which NF/presentation to tune in to. Whatever you watch, enjoy it, and may your favourite win! Unless it’s different to mine, in which case stuff you, I want mine to win.

What? Honesty is the best policy.

See you on the other side of Saturday…

EBJ Signature

 

Selection Season Day 4: Finland and Norway choose, Melfest continues

Hello again, and välkommen to another overview of some of the action taking place this weekend. After a week of random revelations, it’s nice to focus on some ESC-related things that were actually scheduled. By tomorrow, we’ll have two more entries for Malmö and two more finalists from Melodifestivalen. All four of them can be found somewhere down there…but not necessarily in my predictions. Please read on without taking them too seriously!

 

UMK, or TFOFNF – the final of Finland’s national final

Finland, I am not amused. Or enthused. Yes, I may have drawn that conclusion from a dodgy online recap of your final crammed with fifteen-second snippets of the offerings for 2013, but I know personally if I’m going to be excited by something, it will happen within fifteen seconds.

That’s not to say – and I’m talking to you guys again, not Finland – that UMK has nothing good up for grabs this year. And at least you have a chance of finding the good stuff in a field of only eight songs. Take note, Malta!

Here are the eight:

  1. Lost by Arion
  2. He’s Not My Man by Elina Orkoneva
  3. Dancing All Around The Universe by Lucy Was Driving
  4. Marry Me by Krista Siegfrids
  5. Saturday Night Forever by Last Panda
  6. We Should Be Through by Mikael Saari
  7. Flags by Great Wide North
  8. Colliding Into You by Diandra

I’m getting decent vibes from Arion, Elina and Diandra in terms of song quality, but in the absence of full-length song knowledge, I’m going to predict a winner based completely rationally on song title. I’m sure this isn’t the first time someone’s done it.

So, who looks promising? By my standards, Dancing All Around The Universe gets a tick. So do Mikael and Diandra, whose names are probably more interesting than their song titles, but who still count.

Can you give me a more informed take on who should/will win UMK? If you’re reading this after it’s happened, then obviously you can.

 

Norsk MGP: three down, one to go

Nine qualifiers and one lucky (lips) wildcard later, and NMGP is about to crown a hopefully more successful successor to Tooji. This is a much stronger ultimate line-up than Finland’s despite the hideousness voted through from the first semi, and I have some firm favourites. But looking back on the last few years of the Norwegian selection, there seems to be no way of accurately guessing the outcome – sometimes, the acts that won their semis don’t even get a look in to the super final, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, Tooji came 2nd in his heat. When you think about it, the winner could be any one of these:

  1. Paid My Way by Vidar Busk
  2. Ulvetuva by Fjellfolk
  3. Bombo by Adelén
  4. Alone by Gromth feat. Emil Solli-Tangen
  5. Awake by Gaute Ormåsen
  6. Sweet and Heavy by Lucky Lips
  7. The Underground by Datarock
  8. I’m With You by Annsofi
  9. I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger
  10. I Love You Te Quiero by Sirkus Eliassen

That abovementioned super final will feature the four top-ranking songs from an initial round of voting, and the winner will be whichever of those scores the highest from a combined jury and public vote. At risk of going with some too-predictable options (I like to live dangerously and be on the safe side at the same time) I’m earmarking Gromth, Datarock, Annsofi and Margaret for the super final.

Datarock are in there purely for the sake of randomness. I don’t like their song that much, and I don’t think they really deserve to get so far, but I’m always confused by the stuff that gets through in NMGP.

Gromth & Emil are my hands-down LEAST favourite, so for the unsuspecting eardrums of Europe, don’t let them win, Norway!

Annsofi is a force to be reckoned with thanks to her association with Alexander Rybak. Her vocals weren’t exactly perfect, and the song sounds like one that could get boring very quickly, but I wouldn’t mind if she won.

Finally, Margaret is amazing in every way, and I don’t get all the criticism about her dress. I would LOVE her to win. Norway would have a very edgy, unique entry if she did, and you know what? I think she will.

Will M. Berg be looking this happy after tonight’s final?

That’s right; I’m predicting girl power to prevail this evening. What say you?

 

Melodifestivalen marches on

Melfest? More like mehfest! I never thought I’d say something like that about my beloved Swedish final, but let’s face it: last week’s semi was a bit crap. Still, there is a chance the hosts will redeem themselves tonight with a semi that includes:

  • the poor man’s Eric Saade/Danny Saucedo
  • a triple whammy of schlager divas
  • a duet between the ‘E’ of EMD and a Norwegian pop princess
  • the return of a banana-loving, fake chest-hair-wearing comedian

It can’t go wrong…right?

  1. Begging by Anton Ewald
  2. Make Me No. 1 by Felicia Olsson
  3. Annelie by Joacim Cans
  4. On Top of the World by Swedish House Wives
  5. Hello Goodbye by Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli
  6. Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream by Louise Hoffsten
  7. En Förlorad Sommar by Rikard Wolff
  8. Copacabanana by Sean Banan

Well, I think it’s safe to say that Sweden do NOT want to win Eurovision again so soon. If not, then I have to question the musical taste of the people who narrowed down all the entries submitted for MF to just 32. Feel free to question my musical taste as I narrow the above eight down to a top four:

Begging This is oh-so-predictable dance pop with a dubstep break a la everything. But that’s enough to make it one of my favourites in yet another average semi. With such a high production level in studio, Anton could totally destroy it live, but even so he’s got a good chance of going straight to Globen.

On Top of the World Here are those schlager divas with a clubtastic song penned by the Euphoria team of Boström and G:son. It’s one of the best things going, if not the most original.

The SHW star power is blinding. MY EYES, MY EYES!!

The SHW star power is blinding. MY EYES!!!

Hello Goodbye I am so grateful for Erik and Tone for not doing dance. This is my favourite of the semi by far. It’s a nice little slice of guitar pop which actually makes breaking up with someone sound appealing.

Copacabanana Yes, I know that this is a carbon copy of Sean’s entry of 2012…but I loved that, and in such a poor field I can easily love this too. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it probably has offensive lyrics, but I don’t understand enough Swedish to know for sure.

Now to try and make up for my dreadful MF predicting last weekend!

I’m gazing into my dust-covered crystal ball, and it’s telling me…Swedish House Wives and Erik & Tone to the final, with Anton and Joacim heading off to Andra Chansen. There. Now I can blame the crystal ball for everything, unless it was right in which case all the credit will be attributed to ‘Jaz, with absolutely no help whatsoever from any kind of prophetic device’.

Your turn – who’s got the right stuff to get to the final, and who deserves a second chance?

 

That’s it from me for this Super-ish Saturday. Enjoy whichever final you’re tuning into, and enjoy whatever else you’re doing if you can’t be bothered. Bring on the results!

EBJ Signature