God kväll good, national-final-watching people! I hope you’re having a fun NF season so far, despite it turning out to be one where pre-show faves do not follow through. This is the second Super Saturday proudly brought to us by February, and there’s so much happening I’m going to have to cut off my own introductory ramble and get on with chatting about my personal highlights ASAP.
Here’s everything going down this evening:
- Denmark (Dansk Melodi Grand Prix final)
- Estonia (Eesti Laul semi 1)
- Hungary (A Dal semi 1)
- Iceland (Söngvakeppnin semi 1)
- Italy (Sanremo final)
- Latvia (Supernova semi 2)
- Lithuania (Eurovizija heat 5)
- Sweden (Melodifestivalen semi 2)
- Ukraine (Vidbir semi 1)
Whew! The superhuman multi-taskers among us are rejoicing right now as they cook a six-course dinner, knit a sweater and recite Shakespeare simultaneously. You can find all of the streaming links to tonight’s shows right here courtesy of Wiwibloggs (bless their little sequined socks).
Surprise, surprise – my plans involve tuning in to Melfest. But in this post, I’m talking about some other stuff too (just not all of the above because I don’t want to put your will to live to the test). The latest song selection news from Eurovision HQ + Dansk MGP + that Swedish semi = what you’re (hopefully) about to read. Sit back, relax and enjoy…or hyperventilate with rage when I declare undying love for music you hate and bitch about music you love.
Malta chose to break a taboo (HA HA HA not) last weekend by choosing Christabelle – apparently 4th time’s the charm – to go to Eurovision. Her performance was pretty kitchen sink (as in, every “firework” Salvador Sobral could possibly frown upon was thrown in to up the song’s ante) but there’s potential in Taboo itself, and enough time pre-Portugal to bring the staging more in line with…whatever the heck the song is trying to say (I can’t say I got the mental health message without explanation, but DID YOU SEE THE PANTHER?!?).
Over in Sweden – Karlstad, specifically – Melodifestivalen kicked off in uncharacteristically mediocre style, I’m sad to say (scroll down to see if I think things are looking up this week). Shocking nobody, John Lundvik (feat. fire curtain) and Benjamin Ingrosso (feat. one of the greatest stage setups in entertainment history – Malta, take note) went direkt to Friends Arena. Renaida and Sigrid Bernson will fight for a final place at Andra Chansen. Grattis, guys!
It was bound to be one of the betting front-runners that won in Switzerland – and unfortunately for Alejandro Reyes (my personal pick), it was Zibbz – the grungier doppelgangers of Madame Monsieur – with Stones. I can’t fault them even though I was Team Compass, so that’s a good sign. It’s still too early to tell how the brother-sister duo will do in a more competitive environment than the six-song Entscheidungsshow.
The United Kingdom sacrificed legendary Asanda to the NF favourite gods and opted to send SuRie’s Storm to the ESC instead. My choice would have been Liam and Astronaut, so I wouldn’t have been totally thrilled anyway…but I wish Asanda’s vocal issues (easily fixable by letting her stand still for five seconds) could have been overlooked. Legends would have been LIT in Lisbon. Storm, on the other hand, is a little bit wallpaper. Competent and kind of catchy, yes – but not exactly a voting sponge at this stage (i.e. not likely to suck up the points it needs to succeed).
Malta, Switzerland and the UK now join Albania, the Czech Republic, France and Spain in the exclusive group of 2018 entries finalised so far. Head over to my Instagram stories to check out my top 7 while it lasts (@eurovisionbyjaz, of course) and let me know how your current ranking compares in the comments.
I always get excited about DMGP, despite the fact that it’s usually vanilla when compared to the sprinkle-encrusted sundaes delivered by the likes of Estonia, Hungary and Sweden (normally). I guess even average Scandipop has a way with me – and besides, there’s always something above-average ready to represent Denmark (it just never actually wins the right to do so).
The ten-strong line-up for DMGP 2018 looks like this:
- Riot, Ditte Marie
- Starlight, Anna Ritsmar
- Higher Ground, Rasmussen
- Boys On Girls, Sannie
- Angels To My Battlefield, Sandra
- Unfound, Lasse Meling
- Standing Up For Love, CARLSEN
- Signals, Karui
- Holder Fast I Ingenting, Rikke Ganer-Tolsøe
- Music For The Road, Albin Fredy
For me, 2017>2018 (there’s a lot of like-worthy stuff this year, whereas I loved multiple tracks in 2017) but I’ve seen disagreement on that already. Artist-wise, we’re looking at a few familiar faces (Ditte Marie, Albin Fredy), a 90s hitmaker in Sannie, and someone who doesn’t look old enough to be awake past 7pm, let alone gunning to go to Eurovision (that’s Anna).
I’ll quickly make my feelings clear re: the songs that didn’t make my top 3 before getting into those podium places, for anyone interested…
Starlight Seriously, how old is Anna? I feel like we should be questioning Denmark’s child labour laws every time I see her. Song-wise, she’s offering something cutesy and twee that somehow irritates me and soothes me at the same time. It could do very well tonight. 7.5/10.
Boys On Girls I wanted to feel intense 90s nostalgia listening to this, but Sannie a.k.a. Whigfield let me down a little. There’s a couple of DMGP songs weakened by anti-climactic, overly-repetitive choruses, and this is a prime example. 7/10.
Angels To My Battlefield This isn’t terrible, but it is the most forgettable song of the lot. How it’s in the top half of the odds, I have no idea (maybe it’s going to win and make my jaw hit the floor á la Soldiers of Love. Eek). 5/10.
Unfound Lasse is to DMGP what Max Cinnamon was to Destination Eurovision: adorable and armed with a guitar. This is a super-cute Shawn Mendes-esque track that’s not likely to go anywhere (but I will have a bop for one in my bedroom while I watch it being performed). 8.5/10.
Standing Up For Love How freaking Danish is this?!? CARLSEN manage to be both the female version of Lighthouse X and one of Europe’s many O’G3NE tribute acts, and if there were ever a song that screams ‘Denmark at Eurovision 90% of the time!’ Standing Up For Love is it. I want to hate it, but I kind of love it. Dammit. 9/10.
Holder Fast I Igenting And here’s the token Danish-language song that DMGP is not complete without – think Tæt På Mine Drømme (2015), To Stjerner (2016) and Vesterbro (2017). Unfortunately, Rikke’s song is not nearly as good as those were/are. It’s beige. 6/10.
Music For The Road Just when we thought Avicii’s Hey Brother was no longer a musical inspiration to anyone, enter Albin! It’s hard to resist the infectious country twang and catchy chorus he’s provided us with. 8/10.
And now, having saved the best (as far as I’m concerned) until last…
My top 3
Signals Did I love this instantly because it reminds me of this? Maybe, but regardless, something so unconventional (for Denmark) popping up here (in Denmark) threw me in a good way. Solange Knowles could come out with Signals and nobody would raise an eyebrow. There’s no way it’s winning or even coming close though. The musical territory is too unsafe for Denmark. 9.5/10.
Riot Ditte Marie has delivered a third pop banger to DMGP’s doorstep, after 2011’s 25 Hours A Day (with Le Freak) and 2012’s Overflow. Okay, so Riot isn’t breaking any genre boundaries, but it’s slick and catchy, and makes you want to move (not out of the room so you can’t hear it any more). The title is repeated a hundred times too many throughout, but I can forgive that. 9/10.
Higher Ground Roger Pontare has possessed Rasmussen, right? Except Rasmussen has more hair on his face than Roger has on his head. This song is majestic, atmospheric…and yeah, about a decade or so too late to be on-trend at Eurovision. But I wouldn’t be mad if Denmark sent it in Lisbon’s direction. 8.5/10.
Predicting the super finalists + the winner
I am SO BAD at calling DMGP, it’s become a tradition for me to be spectacularly wrong. So here we go again!
In random order, my prediction for the super final – in which the top three songs post-vote face off against each other FTW – is Anna Ritsmar, Rasmussen and CARLSEN. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, bet any money on this.
When it comes to the ultimate winner, I was going to go with Anna, but then I remembered the Anne Gadegaard Incident. Will the folksy pop number get its revenge this time? I’m not sure. Rasmussen is the one I think people would be most satisfied with, so that’s probably out. CARLSEN are so stereotypically Denmark-goes-to-Eurovision that they shouldn’t be underestimated.
So CARLSEN it is! *prepares for prediction fail no. 4975*
Now, if you’re still awake, let’s switch Scandinavian countries.
Ja, it’s true – Melfest got off to a less-than-impressive start last week. But this second deltävling is shaping up to be a little (if not a lot) better. At this rate we’ll be back to expected levels of epic by the time the roadshow hits Örnsköldsvik…OR WILL WE?? Insert dramatic soap opera cliffhanger music here and keep on wondering.
Here’s this week’s lucky seven:
- Shuffla, Samir & Viktor
- Allting Som Vi Sa, Ida Redig
- Det Finns En Väg, Jonas Gardell
- In My Cabana, Margaret
- Titta Vi Flyger, Stiko Per Larsson
- Songburning, Mimi Werner
- Last Breath, LIAMOO
There are three names that really stand out here: Samir & Viktor, who are always loveable (bada nakna or not) and might have their best chance yet of going to Eurovision; Margaret, who missed out on representing Poland in 2016 with the iconic Cool Me Down; and LIAMOO, who won Swedish Idol in 2016 (coincidentally covering Cool Me Down along the way). Mimi Werner, too, is worth nothing as a fan fave who didn’t quite make the Andra Chansen grade on her last attempt.
The big question is – in a parallel universe where I have a massively inflated ego – are any of those guys my favourites of this heat? As Ace Wilder would say: don’t worry, it’s alright. I’m about to tell you.
My top 4
Last Breath Just as I knew Benjamin Ingrosso would be my favourite in heat 1, I was sure LIAMOO would top my ranking for heat 2. My pre-established fangirling for the guy makes me biased, I know, but in all honesty I am digging (the snippet of) Last Breath like I’m looking for buried treasure. Clearly rap doesn’t turn me off.
In My Cabana I can’t believe I’m vouching for a song staged using a toilet, but here we are. This is exactly what I was expecting it to be – a.k.a. the love child of Cool Me Down and Camilla Cabello’s Havana. Do I have a problem with that? Umm, no.
Shuffla Not a fan of Groupie? Have no desire to Bada Nakna? Well, you might still enjoy Shuffla, because it’s totally different to Samir & Viktor’s previous Melfest entries. There is trumpets, dance beats aplenty and a 1920s undertone that adds interest. I approve.
Songburning TBH, Mimi is here by default since the other three songs in this heat are pretty dire. That doesn’t mean Songburning has no redeeming features though – it’s just as charming as Ain’t No Good, actually, if the snippet is any indication. (Country) girl power!
So, who’s going direkt til final? Samir & Viktor + LIAMOO. As much as I’d like LIAMOO to prove his favourite status right by winning this semi, I suspect Samir & Viktor might do the deed instead – but he should be safely in the final anyway.
And who’s off to Andra Chansen? Margaret + Mimi. This is what I’m hoping, at least. If anyone else slips in to an AC slot it will be Ida Redig, but I’m not convinced Allting Som Vi Sa has enough of an x factor to move beyond 5th place. There is a clear top 4 here in my eyes.
What do you think? Tell me if you agree with my Melfest guesses – or if we’ll have to agree to disagree – in the comments.
NF UPDATE: What’s next?
- 11/2 Romania (Selecția Națională semi 4)
- 13/2 Israel (Next Star final)
- 16/2 Belarus (Eurofest final), San Marino (1in360 night 2)
But let’s deal with the craziness of tonight first…
THAT IS IT!!! I’m done – and to think I only discussed two of the 17 000 shows taking place tonight. I’m obviously all about the Scandis at the moment, but I fully respect your right to turn elsewhere for your NF fix. Let’s meet up on Twitter later (I’m @EurovisionByJaz, ICYMI) to compare notes and debrief after result-induced traumas. In the meantime, if you have anything to say about this Super Saturday, the EBJ comment box is always open!
Until NEXT Super Saturday (or a possible sneaky Valentine’s Day post…whichever comes first),
THE KOUNTDOWN TO KYIV | The countries I don’t trust to make the right choices this NF season (a.k.a. Jaz gets way too judgmental!)
Believe it or not, Eurovision’s next national final season is about to begin. THE FEELS!
Sure, Festivali I Këngës was our early Christmas present, and Hungary and Lithuania have kicked off the heat stages of their selections already (Lithuania really should have started theirs in September if they wanted to be sure of a pre-ESC finish). But the coming weekend is when the craziness starts – in the awesome way it always does for us Eurofreaks. It’s more or less non-stop NFs from the moment Belarus and Georgia get going on Friday until the EBU demands the handover of all 43 entries sometime in March. Are you ready? Me neither, but that’s too bad.
Of course, NF season brings with it as much heartbreak as it does happiness, when the songs we fall in love with don’t rise to the top. And there’s a handful of countries that, to me, are more likely to deliver on the ‘WHY, LORDI, WHY?!?’ front than any others. Before the 2017 season switches to supersonic speed, I’m going to expose those countries in the hope that they might not disappoint me this time around.
In other words, I’m about to complain my InCulto-style sparkly short-clad butt off. Who WOULDN’T want to stick around for that?
First, a few FYIs:
- This post = my personal opinion on the most unreliable national finals. I still believe that every country has the right to send whatever they want to Eurovision for whatever reason (maybe they’d rather make a statement than be in it to win it. That’s fine!). I also believe that, as with the ESC itself, whichever song wins is the right winner because it triumphed according to the rules. However, NF mistakes have been made more than once by certain selection shows the way I see it, and I just wanted to point that out.
- Don’t take anything I say below too seriously, and don’t call me out for insulting the intelligence and decisions of entire nations. This is only what I’d dictate in a parallel universe in which the whole season goes my way. Which will NEVER happen, btw.
- I’m using the results of 2016’s finals as my main examples of what went wrong, but don’t be surprised if I throw back to something from ye olden days of 2010-2015 too.
Right – now that we’ve established that I’m not some sort of Eurovision Satan, let’s get started. Here are the countries and their accompanying pre-selections that I’m worried about as we head into the 2017 season.
Belarus (The NF Formerly Known As Eurofest)
Since the Belarusian final is taking place this Friday, I feel like there’s still time for me to give the country that confused and scared us all with a giant baby hologram in Stockholm some passive-aggressive advice (besides ‘Maybe don’t do THAT again…like, ever’). I remember Help You Fly being my least favourite song on offer last year, and I also recall jinxing the results in a big way by joking that because I disliked it so much, it’d probably get the go-ahead for Eurovision. Sure, it grew on me as Ivan’s horrendous audition performance blossomed into something far more polished and professional (though OTT and nonsensical at the same time). But I still believe that Belarus could have chosen something that would at least have flicked them into the ESC final (like Kirill Yermakov’s Running To The Sun or NAVI’s Heta Ziamlia which finished 3rd and 4th respectively), and not had us laughing and cringing in equal measure. Therefore, here’s my tip: think about the big picture, Belarus, and pick the best of what is usually a pretty average bunch. Switzerland does it every year – so can you!
Denmark (Dansk Melodi Grand Prix)
I think I’d need more than two hands to count Denmark’s DMGP missteps on. The past two years in particular have seen them select the most mediocre, inoffensive song possible, only to be surprised when it didn’t make the grade required to see Eurovision’s Saturday night show (presumably because inoffensive mediocrity has, I must admit, worked in their favour before). Two DNQs on the trot should speak for themselves, but I still get the impression that we all need to come together (Eurovision 2016 slogan pun intended) and light a fire (Eurovision 2012 pun NOT intended) under Denmark’s butt to ensure that they don’t do the exact same thing for a third year running. The DMGP line-up in 2016 was actually stellar in my opinion, with at least seven of the ten competing entries worthy of leveling up to the ESC. Two of them even made the super final. Then – *insert sound of a balloon deflating here* – the worst case scenario became a horrifying yet bland reality. Basically, I’ve been betrayed by Denmark too frequently to trust the tastes of their televoting public. It’s on par with feeling personally victimised by Regina George, and it HAS TO STOP.
Estonia (Eesti Laul)
Don’t get me wrong – I think Eesti Laul is an excellent national final, and I’m not about to claim that Goodbye To Yesterday was a mistake of magnificent proportions (clearly, it wasn’t). But Estonia are so hit-and-miss with the calibre of song they crown EL champion, I can’t put too much faith in their decision-making skills. They did a Denmark in 2013 by sacrificing something edgy and exciting for something that could send you to sleep circa Eurovision 1994; then they assumed that a Stig Rästa songwriting credit would be enough to distract from the creep factor of Play’s presentation in 2016 (again, don’t drop that jaw. I love Play and I’m still devastated that it didn’t qualify, but I totally understand why). Those unfortunate turns of events have left me wondering what could have been if Grete Paia’s Päastke Noored Hinged and Mick Pedaja’s Seis (my entries of choice in those years) had won through instead. I reckon they would have made memorable moments for all the right reasons, and that’s what I want from the Estonian entry in 2017. But I’m not holding my breath, because I would like to live to see the Kyiv contest take place.
Finland (Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu)
Sandhja’s Eurovision experience can be more accurately summed up by the existence of a camel toe (the NSFW Urban Dictionary will help you out if you have no idea what I’m referring to) than by Sing It Away being a raging success…because it wasn’t. With a different position in the running order, more creative staging and weaker competition, the outcome might have been different. But at the end of the day, as fun and energetic as the song is, it was disposable. Finland were guilty of failing to bring ‘it’ (i.e. the x factor that has ‘We’re going to the final, bitches!’ written all over it) before 2016, so I worry that they’ll bring ‘it’ only to leave ‘it’ behind in UMK yet again this year. They’ve done it to poor Mikael Saari twice, and Satin Circus suffered the same fate in 2015 with Crossroads, which I believe would have been a dead cert for the ESC final. As I mentioned in this post’s ‘Better Cover My Arse’ disclaimer, every country is at complete liberty to choose what they want to represent them for whatever reason (as much as it wasn’t up my alley, I accept that Aina Mun Pitää brought an until-then uncharted genre to Eurovision and that Finland should be proud of being such musical pioneers). But do I think the Finns are consistently giving themselves the greatest chances of success on the contest stage? Umm, no. So if a pleasant surprise is in store for us re: UMK this year, you’ll be able to consider me a happy Jaz!
This one goes out to all of y’all who never forgot SUNDAY’s Feathers (or Fjaðrir, as it was known during Iceland’s 2015 semis). It also goes out to the two or three people (myself included) who thought that Iceland might have been suffering from ‘Ooh, it’s Greta!” syndrome when they settled on Miss Salóme for Stockholm. You guys will know what I mean when I say that Iceland has issues with sending their best-bet song to Eurovision. They also tend to take a Danish approach sometimes, by shoving innovative, contemporary songs aside to make way for slightly stale and often repetitive middle-of-the-road music (which is not at all representative of the epic, inventive music that the island can produce). Those issues are why I have issues of my own with the Icelandic selection process. At this point, we’re yet to find out who and what will be competing in Söngvakeppnin 2017, but I swear I’ll start feeling anxious as soon as we do, knowing that it’s highly likely the NF will end in…well, perhaps not disaster, but an ‘Oops, our bad!’ at least. Remember, this is my opinion, and Iceland is free to do whatever the heck they want. But they really should listen to me if they want to take full advantage of putting their musical talents on a global platform.
Norway (Melodi Grand Prix)
I can’t accuse Norway of opting for non-groundbreaking/icebreaking music for Eurovisual purposes. With songs like I Feed You My Love, A Monster Like Me and Icebreaker (which was highly original in that it crammed two song styles into one) in their archives, they’re certainly closer to Sweden than Denmark in the above-average stakes. However…Icebreaker was divisive, and I could easily argue that Norway had a mass-appeal, ready-made ESC gem at their disposal with Laila Samuels’ Afterglow. A modern, haunting ballad that would have eaten Croatia and the Czech Republic for breakfast (with some minor costume and staging tweaks), the song wasn’t completely overlooked by the Norwegians – but enough to leave Laila wearing her best gracious loser face as Agnete celebrated victory. You might say, depending on your definition of good music, that NMGP 2016 was like the shampoo aisle at the supermarket – an endless parade of high-quality choices that impress, but also overwhelm. I.e. there can be too much of a good thing, and it’s possible that Norway decided on the wrong good thing if building on Mørland & Deborah Scarlett’s success was their aim. That’s why I wouldn’t bet on NMGP producing the best possible winner this year – whereas I’d bet my life savings on Sweden’s Melodifestivalen whittling its entries down to the one that will guarantee them the most commendable Eurovision result they could have achieved.
Well, I think that’s the majority of my complaints officially off my chest. Maybe they’ve sent good vibes out into the NF universe…or maybe the vibes I’ve created are so negative, they’re now the Jemini of juju. Time will tell (and is also like thunder, according to Uzari. It’s multi-talented).
Now it’s your turn to vent. Which Eurovision 2017 selection shows are you most concerned about? Do you trust every country to make the “right” decision, or are there some that need a high five to the face with one of Poli Genova’s giant geometric earrings? Which countries made mistakes last year that have you thirsty for justice this year? Tell all in the comments below.
I’ll be back at the end of the week to preview and predict the Belarusian and Georgian NFs. You better prepare yourselves, because life on Planet Eurovision is about to get busy!
If you’ve heard a faint sobbing sound over the past few days and weren’t sure where or who it was coming from, I have the answers. Australia is the location, and I’m the crier. Since Saturday night, I’ve been busy mourning the loss of what would have been my new numero uno entry of Eurovision 2016 – Simone’s Heart Shaped Hole. In a shock conclusion that very few of us saw coming, Denmark selected Lighthouse X to represent them in Stockholm with the solid-but-far-from-spectacular Soldiers of Love. There may be some truth to the theory that the three-piece man-band’s super final rivals (a.k.a. the blonde bombshells) cancelled each other out – but even taking that into consideration, it’s hard to fathom how Lighthouse X managed to attract 42% of the public’s votes.
But…at the end of the day, they did, and they are off to the ESC in May. We’ll see what happens to them when they get there (which, at this early stage, could be anything. Miracles never cease). I’m not here today to trash them like a tissue I just blew my nose on. I’m here because, underwhelming winner or not, DMGP was stellar this year – and I want to talk about it some more before we all move on to (hopefully less jaw-dropping) pastures. As there were ten acts competing at the weekend, what better way to both review and rank the NF than with a Top 10? Having critiqued all of the acts based on their performances (an umbrella term covering staging, choreography, costumes and vocals) I proudly present my Top 10 performances of DMGP 2016!
#10 | Muri & Mario’s performance of To Stjerner
It pains me to say this, as someone very much pro-To Stjerner…but what the actual heck was going on here? Vocally, Muri & Mario (well, I say both, but Muri was doing all the heavy lifting) were A-grade – as the majority of the ten acts were on Saturday night – but their staging and street-wear styling get a D minus from me. From Muri’s awkward and uncomfortable bopping (he clearly knew how stupid he looked) to the out-of-sync and out-of-place gymnasts hanging from the rafters, this was three minutes of pure cringe, culminating in the addition of ‘Ridiculous Guitar Man Making Constipation Face’ (as I have chosen to call him). There was that one magical shot of Muri reaching out to a hanging hula-hooper prior to the final chorus, but that wasn’t enough to salvage anything from the wreckage of this car-crash performance.
#9 | Kristel Lisberg’s performance of Who Needs A Heart
Meh. To me, Kristel’s was the weakest ballad competing in DMGP, and although it was staged how such a song should be, the whole package was a bit of a snoozefest (and I wasn’t even watching it at three in the morning. I was wide awake until song no. 7). And surprisingly, her vocals weren’t up to scratch either. All in all, this performance was as bland and beige as the dress Kristel had on underneath all of that bling. But it beats Muri & Mario’s on the basis of being yawn-worthy rather than cringe-worthy.
#8 | Jessica’s performance of Break It Good
Reggae usually puts me in a good mood, so even though I knew Jessica wasn’t a contender for the super final, let alone Stockholm, I was looking forward to her time on stage. She didn’t really disappoint. Costumes that clashed prints and energetic dancers equaled visuals that suited the song well. Still, this was quite a slow 180 seconds, and I wasn’t unhappy to move on to the next lot once Break It Good was finished (for good).
#7 | Veronicas Illusion’s performance of The Wrong Kind
For a song that could have suffered live on stage, The Wrong Kind was successfully executed via commendable vocals and a lot of strutting, on the part of Veronica herself and her posse (they can’t be compared to Taylor Swift’s squad, but they had a decent amount of fierceness). If I had to nitpick, I’d say that Veronica looked a little unsteady in her high-heeled boots. Had she borrowed Anja Nissen’s fancy sneakers, she’d have been better off (and her strutting would have been Academy Award-winning…if there was a category at the Oscars for such a thing. There totally should be).
#6 | Lighthouse X’s performance of Soldiers of Love
This was a song and performance that in no way screamed ‘OBVIOUS WINNER!’, which probably explains why Denmark chose it to represent them at Eurovision. On stage, it was competent and enjoyable, and the trio of acceptably attractive Scandi men were acceptably engaging and charismatic. None of that, of course, disguises the fact that Denmark could have sent something spectacular to Stockholm, but opted to send something safe instead – AGAIN (but I’ll save a lengthier rant on that subject for my 2016 reviews). The most interesting thing about Lighthouse X + DMGP was learning that the band name is pronounced ‘Lighthouse Ten’, not ‘Lighthouse Ex’ (I personally think the latter sounds cooler, but whatever).
#5 | David Jay’s performance of Rays of Sunlight
This was like the second coming of Basim, so naturally, I dug it. Rays of Sunlight is such a sunny (EXCEEDINGLY APPROPRIATE ADJECTIVE ALERT!), funky song that it didn’t require gimmicks to sell itself – just some peppy dance moves and a stylish hat. David Jay is a decent showman, and took advantage of his opening slot to elevate the energy levels of the crowd watching (and dancing) on. Okay, so I wasn’t 100% convinced about the presence of pink turtleneck sweaters, on men, in 2016. But I got such a kick out of the rest of the performance that I’ll forgive DR’s stylist-in-residence for that faux pas.
#4 | Bracelet’s performance of Breakaway
The lead singer of this “band” (let’s face it…he was the star of the show and should have entered as a solo artist) may have been a member of Panic At The Disco circa 2007 if his hair, fashion and nail varnish choices were anything to go by – but the guy can deliver a studio-perfect vocal, and that’s what matters (plus, he should be able to dress however the hell he wants. Judgmental snobs like me should be ignored). Breakaway is a fun stadium anthem, and that was really reflected in Bracelet’s staging. With glitter and pyrotechnics aplenty, the trio were having a party up there that we were all invited to. It rocked.
#3 | Anja Nissen’s performance of Never Alone
At last! Now we know what Emmelie de Forest’s Eurovision performance would have looked like if she was less Lord-of-the-Rings-extra and more Step-Up-film-franchise-extra (which isn’t meant to be an insult, by the way). Anja’s performance, coupled with the De Forest composition Never Alone, was basically Only Teardrops Part 2 (The Pumped-Up Kicks and Polka Dots Edition). That being the truth and nothing but the whole truth (IMO), I’m glad she finished as the runner-up. But she did give her all to the competition, injecting her performance with personality, enthusiasm, and a powerful vocal. This was the only song of the night that had a distinct “moment” – one that signifies a song is in it to win it. When Anja sank down on her knees and belted out that big, big note as sparks flew behind her, it was magic. You go, girlfriend.
#2 | Sophia Nohr’s performance of Blue Horizon
While one of my DMGP favourites failed performance-wise (To Stjerner), one of my least favourites impressed me with its staging. A sultry, smoky rendition of Blue Horizon from Sophia – complete with a giant image of her head in the background, lip-syncing to her own song á la Anastasia Prikhodko in Moscow – set the scene for the folksy number, and her styling was perfection in gypsy form. Considering she barely moved for three minutes, it’s commendable that she kept me transfixed the entire time. This was proof that you don’t have to employ ‘big’ and ‘loud’ and ‘in your face’ as performance buzzwords if you want to make an impact.
#1 | Simone’s performance of Heart Shaped Hole
I’ll be honest. I had very high hopes for the staging of this song, and they weren’t met. I wanted moody, edgy and shadowy; what I got instead was romantic, shiny and stringy (seriously, that giant heart-hole looked like it was made out of spangled seaweed). And Simone was far too cheery the entire time given that her song wasn’t an airy-fairy ode to true love (it’s quite the opposite, in fact). But I can’t not make her third DMGP performance my number one pick, because it still managed to set off a physical reaction in me (i.e. spine tingles) in addition to a multitude of emotional feels. And, tackling a song that doesn’t mess around in the key change department, Simone sang flawlessly. She lights up whatever stage she’s standing on, and watching her do her thing is glorious…even if she really should wipe the smile off her face.
Hmm…I may have to settle in for a repeat viewing of Denmark’s selection ASAP, having reminded myself of how super-duper awesome it was. Not that I particularly want to relive my beloved Simone and fellow Aussie Anja being beaten by a band I hadn’t even considered potential winners.
It still hurts SO BAD *sniff*.
But the pity party’s got to end sometime. Did you feast your eyes and ears on DMGP on the weekend? If so, I want to know what you thought of the performances and the results. Were Lighthouse X deserving champs in your opinion, or have Denmark just planted their feet firmly in the semis for the second year running? Who would have given the hosts of 2014 their best shot at another win on Swedish soil? Let me know below.
Until next time (a.k.a. Super Saturday #3!)…
I’ve missed those words. But the missing is over now that ‘super’ and ‘Saturday’ are chilling in the same sentence once again. It’s February 7, and tonight is the first big night of ESC 2015’s national final season. By Sunday morning Jaz time (that’s GMT+8.00 for those who want to get technical) we’ll have an early-ish decision from Denmark, and qualifiers in Finland, Iceland and Sweden. MELODIFESTIVALEN IS HERE!.
In addition to that action in Scandinavia and (slightly) beyond, we’ve got:
• the first semi of Estonia’s Eesti Laul;
• the third heat of Hungary’s A Dal (a ticket to the semis for Kati Wolf, please); and
• what feels like the 798th installment of Lithuania’s Eurovizijos.
I’m choosing my areas of focus, but if you’re spreading yourself across the continent, I wish you the best. And I wish you an enjoyable, or at least tolerable time reading my rundown of some of these NFs, feat. song verdicts and predictions.
Just before I start on that…
Poll results: Your favourite Georgian entry EVER is…
…to be revealed in just a second! In case you’ve forgotten, shortly after Georgia selected Warrior as their song for Eurovision no. 60, I celebrated their contest history with a poll so y’all could pick your preference. That poll is now closed, so if you didn’t vote in it, a) TOO BAD MWAHAHA and b) WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
I can tell you now that the top Georgian entry according to your votes is – why, it’s a tie! *goes into Eurovision 1969-style panic mode*
In first place, with 22% apiece, is Visionary Dream by Sopho (2007) AND Shine by Sophia Nizharadze (2010). Sopho power! Check out the full results in my festive pie chart (any excuse to create a festive pie chart) below.
If you’re about to question the lack of Anri Jokhadze, stop! The poor guy didn’t receive any votes. I personally am shocked to my very core by this travesty.
I won’t embarrass Anri any further by lingering on the subject. It’s time we moved on to discussing tonight’s NF schedule. Let the snide remarks, gushy compliments and questionable predictions begin!
The hosts of 2014 pass the torch, picking their entry through DMGP
Ah, DMGP…the national final in which I usually end up pining for the runner-up because I much prefer it to the winner. FYI, it’s been two years and I’m STILL not over Emmelie de Forest beating Mohamed Ali and his amazing Unbreakable (can you tell Only Teardrops isn’t my favourite Eurovision winner of recent times?) so I’m hoping tonight’s edition of the show will have me crying tears of joy rather than sadness.
With a line-up this derivative, though, there’s not that much to be crying or jumping for joy about.
- Love Me Love Me by Sara Sukurani
- Mi Amore by Tina & René
- Når Veje Krydses by Marcel & Soulman Group
- Hotel A by Cecilie Alexandra
- Love Is Love by Andy Roda
- Tæt På Mine Drømme by Julie Bjerre
- The Way You Are by Anti Social Media
- Suitcase by Anne Gadegaard
- Manjana by Babou
- Summer Without You by World of Girls
I’m sure you’re all pretty familiar with the lowdown on Denmark’s selected ten: you’ve got the duo who think we’ve all forgotten about In A Moment Like This (but we haven’t); not one but two of Basim’s backing singers from last year (that’s Marcel and Andy); JESC alum Anne Gadegaard, all grown up; and the Danish version of GRL. It’s a banquet of variety, sure, but there really isn’t anything on offer we haven’t tasted before. I’m mainly referring to that shameless rip-off Mi Amore, which is not only being rehashed by the same country who sent it in the past, but just five years later.
Still, I have my favourites, and here’s a quick top 5 to acknowledge those:
#1. Manjana – I’m just a sucker for this kind of muzak, folks. Accept it, and we’ll get along fine. Manjana is uplifting, damn catchy and makes me want to dance. It could be the antidote to my Unbreakable anguish if it wins.
#2. Tæt På Mine Drømme – Here’s the obligatory Danish-language pop that I love but that never goes anywhere (a.k.a. this year’s Vi Finder Hjem, which was penned by Basim and performed in DMGP ’14 by Emilie Moldow). This song = a slick, happy hybrid of 80s and mod-pop that I enjoy a lot.
#3. Summer Without You – I do love a girl band, and I’d be happy for this one to win (so long as they’re good live). It’ll be almost summertime in Europe come ESC time, and this would capture the mood and inject some energy into what is, so far, a predominantly down-tempo contest.
#4. Suitcase – I can’t help barracking for a JESC graduate, but this song is genuinely growing on me. It’s a sweet sing-along number that seems like the kind of thing Denmark will vote for, based on what’s succeeded in recent DMGP years. If Anne wins, she, Anita and Michele can swap serious stories in Vienna. The bitching! The backstabbing! Scandalous JESC!
#5. Mi Amore – Don’t judge me. I’m judging myself. I hate the fact that, as blatantly similar to In A Moment… as this is, and as much as I detest that entry, I still like this. For me, it’s a more enjoyable version of Chanee & N’evergreen’s soppy ballad, albeit just as clinical and dated.
I’ll be happy for any of the above songs to win this evening, and I think I can come to terms with any other champ except Anti Social Media (yawnfest) but who do I reckon is GOING to win? I refuse to make an outright prediction, but I’m giving the ‘Most Likely’ award to Tina & René, Cecilie or World of Girls. Or maybe Anne. I DON’T KNOW, OKAY?!?
From the host country of 2014, let’s fly over to Finland…
Starting at the Finnish: Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu begins!
Confession: I’ve never actually followed the Finnish final in detail from beginning to end. I always leave a few NFs to unfold without my supervision (I love the element of surprise) and UMK is often one of them.
I do look back on it at the end of the season and pick out a few gems, which I’ll definitely be doing this year. Only…I’ve already found one. And I think it might be THE one, if you know what I mean. It’s one of the entries competing in tonight’s first semi:
- Loveshine by Hans On The Bass
- Äänen Kantamattomiin by Vilikasper Kanth
- No Voy A Llorar Por Ti by El Misionario
- Aina Mun Pitää by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät
- Sydän Ei Nuku by Pihka ja Myrsky
- Crossroads by Satin Circus
I couldn’t resist listening to a recap of all the UMK-ers, so I’m vaguely familiar with them all, but someone singled out Satin Circus and Crossroads (Nick, I’m talking about you!) and I am now a little obsessed.
I’ve been through this band’s brief back catalogue, and whilst their 2014 single Expectations is slightly higher in my esteem (gosh dayum, it’s catchy) Crossroads is the one song Finland must pick for Eurovision, if they know what’s good for them. Which is me not being totes mad. Right now, of course, its challenge is to progress from the semi, which I think it will do comfortably. At least, that’s all I want from the Finns this week!
Second semi final shenanigans for Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin
Iceland’s NF is another one I don’t follow with a magnifying glass in hand, but again, I have recapped this year’s contestants and listened to the songs that piqued my interest. I’ve got to say ‘BRAVO!’ to the land of Björk. The quality of Söngvakeppnin is mighty high on this occasion, with the island spoilt for choice.
They have already sent three acts packing – one of whom was an early favourite – and the same thing will happen in a matter of hours in semi 2. I have four favourites of my own this time, so I’m going to lose at least one. Sadface.
- Milljón Augnablik by Haukur Heiðar Hauksson
- Lítil Skref by María Ólafsdóttir
- Fjaðrir by SUNDAY
- Aldrei of Seint by Regína Ósk
- Brotið Gler by Bjarni Lárus Hall
- Fyrir Alla by Cadem
Again, they’re all decent songs. But I’m most fond of Lítil Skref, Fjaðrir, Andrei of Seint and Fyrir Alla. Lítil Skref is a nice, uplifting (sorry for the overuse of that word in today’s post) pop ballad reminiscent of Yohanna’s stuff. Fjaðrir is minimalist and cutting edge and I LOVE it, but I don’t have high hopes of it qualifying. Regina is as on-point as ever with the atmospheric Aldrei of Seint. And Fyrir Alla is one of those dance tracks that I have a weakness for. On the plus side, one of them has to go through, and I think I want it to be Aldrei of Seint, because Regina is perfection.
My guess as to the 50% who’ll progress? Haukur, Reguina and Bjarni. But I say good luck (you can Google Translate that into Icelandic if you want) to everyone, as I leave Söngvakeppnin behind in favour of something that excites me just a teensy bit more.
Saving the best for last…IT’S #MELFEST TIME!
*pants with uncontrollable excitement*
That’s right, my fellow Melfest freaks. The greatest show on Earth (Eurovision itself excluded) has shimmied into Göteborg and is ready to roll. For the first time, I’m watching the semis live – normally I don’t get up at 3am for anything less than the final – and I can’t wait to experience it with you guys, as it happens. Catch up with me on Twitter @EurovisionByJaz and we can live tweet until our thumbs fall off.
This is what this first semi’s line-up looks like:
- I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar
- Pappa by Daniel Gildenlöw
- One By One by Rickard Söderberg & Elize Ryd
- Hello Hi by Dolly Style
- Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone
- Can’t Hurt Me Now by Jessica Andersson
- Sting by Eric Saade
We have seven songs per semi instead of eight for 2015, and I have mixed feelings about this. What I don’t have mixed feelings about is how awesome the show’s going to be, based on the rehearsal snippets that we’ve all seen and heard since their release on Thursday. A lot of fans are disappointed with what they heard, but I’m pumped – Eric Saade’s dodgy vocals aside.
Granted, this pumped-ness is based on snippets only, and will remain that way as I’ve decided to wait until the show itself to hear the full songs, but songs 1 through 7 (mostly) get my tick of approval for now. Here’s my top 4:
- I’ll Be Fine – If I were Austin Powers I would say this was groovy, baby. But I’m not, so I’m just going to say I like the sound of it. Retro, big band influences + Molly’s banging voice = a gold star.
- One By One – No, his opera voice doesn’t mesh that well with hers, but this song grabbed my attention. I’m intrigued.
- Hello Hi – I don’t want to like this, but it seems to marry J-pop and Scandipop in a way that appeals to the cheesy pop fan in me (which is about 90% of me, to be honest).
- Det Rår Vi Inte För – Behrang’s no one-trick pony, as this is no Jalla Dansa Sawa. That was boss, and as a fan of hip-hop duets, I think I’m going to appreciate his comeback track.
Now, shall we put our prediction pants on? With one less song in the running, it’s probably easier to decide which three won’t advance to the final or to the second chance round. Having considered this, these are my thoughts.
DIREKT TIL FRIENDS ARENA (I.E. THE FINAL): I’ll Be Fine and Sting
TO ANDRA CHANSEN: Det Rår Vi Inte För and Can’t Hurt Me Now
I have been spectacularly wrong re: Melfest predictions lately, so I’m aiming for at least one success this year. Do you think I’ve got it already, or am I way off? Let me know who’s going where, in your opinion, down below. That goes for outside of Sweden, too.
Well, I’d better get to bed if I want a shot at some shut-eye before the perfectly normal 3am wake-up call. It’s not like I’ll be dozing off in a hurry afterwards, what with the glitter-encrusted excitement coursing through my veins and all. If you’re settling in for this evening’s schedule of events, I shall see you then (I won’t literally be SEEING you, but you know what I mean). If not, are you crazy? NF season is the best season out, spring, summer, autumn and winter included. Get amongst it, people.
Until next time (when we discuss the aftermath of the action)…