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BOO-ROVISION!!! A spooky song contest soundtrack to help you have a horrifically happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, Eurofreaks!

If you’re an ESC fan who doesn’t mind a good scare, then this is your lucky day…if you scare super easily, because all I’ve done is prepare a playlist of contest entries that evoke the most frightening time of the year. In comparison to the most blood-curdling, heart-pounding experience I’ve had today (waiting in the online queue for Melodifestivalen tickets, which I scored two of with surprising ease *screams like a banshee*) the following is pretty tame. Still, whether you’re celebrating Halloween with a group of guys and ghouls, or by yourself with a scary movie on your screen, here’s some Eurovision music to set the mood switch of your evening to ‘Suitably Macabre’. Enjoy, or a zombie will eat your brains.

 

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A Monster Like Me, Mørland & Debrah Scarlett (Norway 2015)

Brujería, Son de Sol (Spain 2005)

Taken By A Stranger, Lena (Germany 2011) You can’t tell me you’ve never had a nightmare that either faintly resembled this performance, or was a carbon copy of it. Happy-clappy ESC of yore it is not.

When Spirits Are Calling My Name, Roger Pontare (Sweden 2000)

L’Enfer Et Moi, Amandine Bourgeois (France 2013)

Minn Hinsti Dans, Paul Oscar (Iceland 1997)

Hour of the Wolf, Elnur Huseynov (Azerbaijan 2015)

Hard Rock Hallelujah, Lordi (Finland 2006) Use the words ‘scary’ and ‘Eurovision’ in the same sentence, and even an anti-fan will think of Lordi…though I personally think the scariest thing about the band must be the smell when they remove all of that latex after a show.

Nocturne, Secret Garden (Norway 1995)

Takes 2 To Tango, Jari Sillanpää (Finland 2004)

Nomads In The Night, Jeronimas Milius (Lithuania 2008)

Work Your Magic, Koldun (Belarus 2007)

Birds, Anouk (The Netherlands 2013)

Day After Day, Elnur & Samir (Azerbaijan 2008) Angels, devils, the spillage of an ambiguous red liquid…Azerbaijan went all out for Halloween in ’08. I’m assuming that was the event they thought they’d been invited to, anyway.

One Last Breath, Maria Elena Kyriakou (Greece 2015)

Running Scared, Ell & Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011)

Better The Devil You Know, Sonia (United Kingdom 1993)

Suus, Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012)

Black Smoke, Ann Sophie (Germany 2015)

Ghost, Jamie-Lee Kriewitz (Germany 2016) Singing about a spooky staple and looking like a long-lost member of Dolly Style – while surrounded by a fake but somewhat eerie forest – Jamie-Lee practically personified Halloween in Stockholm. She could easily have attended a costume party this weekend as herself.

Deli, Mor ve Ötesi (Turkey 2008)

Hope Never Dies, Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta (Czech Republic 2015)

I Feed You My Love, Margaret Berger (Norway 2013)

Wild Soul, Cristina Scarlat (Moldova 2014)

Vampires Are Alive, DJ Bobo (Switzerland 2007) Did you think I’d forgotten this? As if! It’s integral to celebrating Boo-rovision. If you can only force your party guests to listen to one creepy contest classic before they run screaming into the night, make it this masterpiece.

 

Well, that’s about all I’ve got in my brain box until next Halloween, with regards to the scary side of our favourite song contest.  Also, my Jamie-Lee costume for 2017 is going to take an entire year to put together, so I’ve got to stop doing this and get on to gluing that.

I’m hoping (though not expecting) that this playlist was terrifically terrifying, so let me know below if you peed your pants with fear at all while you were checking it out. Just a simple yes or no will do – I don’t need any more info than that.

Plus, to reduce the chance of me haunting you dressed in a bed sheet with eye holes cut out of it, comment me your answer to this question: if you were off to a Boo-rovision Halloween party, which ESC act would you dress up as?

 

Until next time *coffin creaking closed just because*…

 

hsig

 

 

EBJ’s Top 10…podium-placed trios from Eurovision’s past and present!

‘The top three is the place to be’ – Jaz, 2016. That’s a quote that that must hold truth because it rhymes. And because it just does. I mean, if you entered a contest and neither first nor second was on the cards, third wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize (and there’d probably be an actual consolation prize involved too. Bonus!).

What I’m trying to say is that the upper echelons of the Eurovision scoreboard are the spaces every act wants to be occupying by the end of final night. Making the top 10 is awesome; the top 5, even better. But it’s the bronze, silver and gold positions that everyone aims for, and that have been secured by countless douze-attracting songs since the ESC’s early days.

As such, I thought it was about time to shine the spotlight on the best of the best in that department – at least as far as I’m concerned (as always, you’ll get your chance to disagree with me afterwards). So, with that in mind, here’s a countdown of my favourite top three trios from the entirety of Eurovision history *insert trumpet fanfare feat. dubstep breakdown here*.

By the way, this post was inspired by the Rio Olympics (gold, silver and bronze medals, reaching the “podium”…you get the idea), and yes, it was supposed to be published in August. Oops. Well, if orange is the new black and forty is the new thirty, then I guess October can be the new September. So it’s not even that late, really.

Let’s get into it!

 

 

#10 | Harrogate 1982

Ein Bißchen Frieden by Nicole (Germany), Hora by Avi Toledano (Israel), Amour On T’Aime by Arlette Zola (Switzerland)

pp1A little peace, a little dance and a little love kick off my countdown based on their collective strength. Sometimes less is more (yes, even at Eurovision), and that was extra evident in 1982 when the Bucks Fizz Skirt-Ripping Schtick™ was succeeded by Nicole’s sentimental ballad. That’s not to say that an in-your-face, high energy piece of pop didn’t have its place – it snapped up second, as a matter of fact. Hurray for Hora! Subtlety sandwiched Israel, however, with Germany on top and Switzerland’s Arlette in third. The ranking was right, I reckon.

My personal top pick Ein Bißchen Frieden

 

#9 | Brighton 1974

Waterloo by ABBA (Sweden), Si by Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy), I See A Star by Mouth & MacNeal (The Netherlands)

pp2I don’t doubt that the right song and act won Eurovision in Brighton. Anyone who does deserves to be decapitated with a vinyl copy of Arrival, to be honest. But ABBA had some stiff competition snapping at their platform heels back then, in the form of some great songs that have stood the test of time. Gigliola’s comeback Si nearly secured her a second contest win, with its grandiose sophistication proving she wasn’t ‘too young’ anymore. I See A Star is serious fun that didn’t have quite the same earworming ability as Waterloo, but made a wonderful impression nonetheless. All three songs are Seventies gold (ABBA pun possibly intended).

My personal top pick Waterloo

 

#8 | Dublin 1995

Nocturne by Secret Garden (Norway), Vuelve Conmigo by Anabel Conde (Spain), Se På Mig by Jan Johansen (Sweden)

pp3Mystery and drama were the buzz words of the ’95 top three, with Sweden and Spain having one apiece up their respective sleeves and Norway boasting both (massive sleeves were clearly the go back then). I must admit that Vuelve Conmigo, the fan favourite, pales in comparison to the songs that surrounded it on the scoreboard, in my opinion. But that’s not an indication of how inferior I think it is. It’s actually an indication of how deep my love is for Nocturne, and in particular, Se På Mig. Ja, my Swedish bias is still alive and kicking.

My personal top pick Se På Mig

 

#7 | Copenhagen 2014

Rise Like A Phoenix by Conchita Wurst (Austria), Calm After The Storm by The Common Linnets (The Netherlands), Undo by Sanna Nielsen (Sweden)

pp4Once again, two broadly similar songs were divided by something totally different with Copenhagen’s highest-scoring trio. Austria = a big, Bond-type ballad performed to perfection by a hot woman in a stunning dress. Sweden = a big, electro-tinged ballad performed to perfection by a hot woman in a stunning dress. The Netherlands = the sleeper hit that few of us saw coming until we saw it on the Hallerne stage. To sum up, that’s three awesome songs with charismatic artists and impressive staging elevating them even higher. 

My personal top pick Undo

 

#6 | Rome 1991

Fångad Av En Stormvind by Carola (Sweden), C’est le Dernier Qui a Parlé Qui a Raison by Amina (France), Kan by Duo Datz (Israel)

pp5If I must momentarily hop off the top-three train at Justification Station for this one, then I’ll do so in numbers. 1 – Carola. 2 – Dreamy, ethnic pop from France with an exotically long title. 3 – Carola. 4 – Duo Datz upping the fun and the size of their shoulder pads. And 5 – CAROLA! Let’s face it (if you’re reading this as a fellow Carola enthusiast, you’ll agree): the entries below hers could be utter crap and she’d still drag up the quality because she’s so fabulous. However, they weren’t. In fact, France’s was so magnifique, it lost to Sweden’s entry on countback rather than by points.

My personal top pick Fångad Av En Stormvind 

 

#5 | Istanbul 2004

Wild Dances by Ruslana (Ukraine), Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović & Ad-Hoc Orchestra (Serbia & Montenegro), Shake It by Sakis Rouvas (Greece)

pp6There’s a clear weak link in this top three for me, and I can’t just Shake It off (#seewhatIdidthere). But the mind-blowing brilliance of the other two entries more or less cancels that out. Ukraine’s first winner (I’m so happy we can say that now) is iconic on Planet ESC for being whip-cracking ethno-pop perfection that stood head, shoulders and skimpy leather outfits above the rest. Apart, of course, from a little thing I like to call MY ALL-TIME FAVOURITE EUROVISION SONG WITHOUT QUESTION. Sometimes, I even call it Lane Moje. It’s the pinnacle of Balkan ballads, and I refuse to hear otherwise.

My personal top pick Lane Moje

 

#4 | Riga 2003

Every Way That I Can by Sertab Erener (Turkey), Sanomi by Urban Trad (Belgium), Ne Ver, Ne Bojsia by tATu (Russia)

pp7One of the most tense voting sequences ever – possibly the most nail-biting in the era of random point-giving orders – took place in 2003, if you can remember that far back in time (I know it seems like five years ago, but it was actually THIRTEEN). Favourites Russia had the least impressive entry of the three fighting for first place, but even when they’re not brilliant, they’re far from bad. In a turn of events echoed in 2016, Russia finished third. Ahead of Ne Ver were the epic Sanomi and the oh-so-Eurovision ethnopop of Every Way That I Can, both of which helped make this a tremendous top three.

My personal top pick Every Way That I Can  

 

#3 | Brussels 1987

Hold Me Now by Johnny Logan (Ireland), Lass Die Sonne in Dein Herz by Wind (Germany), Gente Di Mare by Umberto Tozzi & Raf (Italy)

pp8I’m not about to dispute a win by Mr. Eurovision himself (not to be confused with Mr. Lordi, who prefers distressed leather and hard rock to white suits and power ballads). Hold Me Now is my number one – the only treasure I’ll ever haaaaave – of Johnny Logan’s three ESC winners, no doubt. Still, there was some great stuff mere points behind it. German reggae totally works when Wind are responsible for it, and LDSIDH always has me searching for sunshine and craving piña coladas. Gente Di Mare just makes me admire the effortless class of Italian music.

My personal top pick Hold Me Now

 

#2 | Vienna 2015

Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden), A Million Voices by Polina Gagarina (Russia), Grande Amore by Il Volo (Italy)

pp9Last year’s gold, silver and bronze-winning musical masterpieces were another example of vastly different songs fighting for first place. It was dance-pop with an Avicii-esque country twang (SHRN…or at least SHAYA, meaning so hot a year ago) that topped the table, followed by a peace ballad feat. the traditional Eurovision key change, which in turn was followed by the sexiest Italian opera I ever did see. That’s variety, my friends, and I for one LOVED it.

 My personal top pick Heroes

 

#1 | Athens 2006

Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi (Finland), Never Let You Go by Dima Bilan (Russia), Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

pp91None of these three entries are my favourite of all time, but their overall awesomeness sent them shimmying straight to the top of my list (Lejla is up there with my most beloved Balkan ballads, anyway). Hard Rock Hallelujah was a winner that opened the minds of non-rock lovers and surprised those who didn’t think something so heavy could succeed in the contest. Dima Bilan’s first ESC trip displayed Russia’s talent for fusing R&B with pop (and their talent for stuffing people into pianos). And Lejla…well, let’s just say that Željko Joksimović is capable of working his magic (in a way that would have impressed Koldun) for countries other than just Serbia and/or Montenegro.

My personal top pick Lejla

 

 

That brings me to the conclusion of this countdown – and let me tell you, it’s reminded me in a big way of what it takes to enter top three territory at Eurovision (I was asking for a friend). In case you didn’t get the memo, ‘it’ = stuff like lots of white, whips, horns (the musical and monster kind)…basically, anything lifted from the lyrics of Love Love, Peace Peace. Who would have thought?

Now, since I’ve showed you mine, it’s time for you to show me yours. Which top three entries from ESC history have impressed you the most – a collection of classic chansons, or a more modern first, second and third? Let me know in the comments so I can judge your poor taste as much as you’ve judged mine. It’s more fun if we all get to bring out our inner bitches so they can party together!

 

Until next time,

 

2015sig

 

PS – If you suspected that Stockholm 2016 might make it on to my list, then you should know that I purposefully omitted it. That’s because I didn’t think enough time had passed since Ukraine, Australia (!) and Russia topped the table to determine whether they make up a classic top three; one that holds its own against the rest and will do for years to come. For the record though, it would have made my personal top 5.

 

EU(RIO)VISION | ESC anthems to inspire you and fire you up for the rest of the Olympic fortnight

Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker for quite a while (which is fine if that’s what you’re into; not so fine if you’re being held captive down there), you’ll know that the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off the weekend before last, in Rio de Janeiro. I’m not ashamed to admit that I la la love the Olympics, and have done for as long as I can remember – and I think part of that has to do with the parallels one can draw between the Games and Eurovision, if one can be bothered.

I won’t ramble on about all the similarities right now, but you can imagine the kind of stuff I’m referring to: different countries competing against each other in a way that’s friendly enough, but definitely involves tension and prayers that someone else will be the loser…more flags than you can poke a flagpole at…et cetera. On top of that, there are plenty of Eurovision entries, past and present, that remind me of the Olympics á la Chariots of Fire. Songs that pump me up and inspire me to do the impossible by getting myself moving when I feel like doing the opposite.

Because I’m awesome, and because I never let the Olympics slip by without celebrating them here on EBJ*, I’ve gathered together the very songs I’m talking about in one place for your listening pleasure. From dance bangers through to slightly cheesy ballads, here are the tracks of recent contest history that are as perfect for backing ‘moment of triumph’ montages this Olympiad as they were for the Eurovision stage.

Oh, BTW – I may have thrown some NF songs from the 2016 season into this mix too. As Rihanna would say, they just workworkworkworkwork.

 

* I bet you thought I was going to, since we’re over halfway through this Olympics. There’s a slight chance this post was supposed to go live before the opening ceremony, but didn’t because reasons. You know what I’m like.

 

 
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 Say Yay! by Barei (Spain 2016)

If you wouldn’t say yay when you’ve just won an Olympic medal, then when would you? In between shoe-shuffling and faux-falling, Barei references the stuff that this sporting spectacle is made of – climbing over hills, following your dreams, and doing lots of running. Basically, this is the anthem for hurdlers everywhere.

 

Sound of Our Hearts by Compact Disco (Hungary 2012)

Invincible by Carola (Sweden 2006)

To The Sky by Tijana (FYR Macedonia 2014)

 

Be My Guest by Gaitana (Ukraine 2012)

What Eurovision does on a musical level, the Olympics do on a sporting level: bring people from all over the planet together, making us all (in theory) discard our differences while cattily criticising what the participants are wearing. It’s a beautiful thing, and Ukraine’s four-year-old ESC entry encapsulates that very well.

 

Molitva by Maria Serifović (Serbia 2007)

Rise Up by Freaky Fortune & RiskyKidd (Greece 2014)

Gravity by Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013)

 

Victorious by Xuso Jones (Spain NF 2016)

I’ll be honest: this was the song that convinced me to include a few national finalists in this playlist, rather than Eurovision entries exclusively. Up-tempo and centred around triumphing over adversity, it totally deserves to be an honorary Olympic anthem.

 

Butterflies by 3+2 (Belarus 2010)

Amazing by Tanja (Estonia 2014)

Pioneer by Freddie (Hungary 2016)

Na Inat by Poli Genova (Bulgaria 2011)

 

Believe by Dima Bilan (Russia 2008)

As sugary as it is, a ballad about believing that you can do heaps of difficult shit without giving up (or something similarly poignant) is Olympic gold. If that’s not reason enough for you to pop Dima in your own playlist, remember that Russia’s winning performance in Belgrade featured the multiple medal-nabbing figure skater Evgeni Plushenko. Surely that’s a sign?

 

Miracle by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2014)

A Million Voices by Polina Gagarina (Russia 2015)

Deli by Mor ve Ötesi (Turkey 2008)

Keine Grenzen by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)

 

I’ve Been Waiting For This Night by Donny Montell (Lithuania 2016) 

Any momentous event, musical or sporting (or getting out of bed on a particularly cold winter’s morning), tends to be the culmination of a heap of hard work for the people involved. I think Donny Montell totally understands that, even if he was referring to hooking up with someone he’s had the hots for since forever *pretends he’s not married for three minutes*. For a thousand years, through a million tears, etc…just like the path leading to a synchronised swimming podium placement. Obviously.

 

Jas Ja Imam Silata by Gjoko Taneski (FYR Macedonia 2010)

Playing With Fire by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010)

Warrior by Amber (Malta 2015)

 

Falling Stars by Lidia Isac (Moldova 2016)

It may not have had the steam to make it out of its semi final, but Falling Stars has the energy and up-tempo goods to get anyone remotely Olympically-inclined pumped up for competition. That’s as long as you can ignore Lidia’s half-hearted “money note”, which is worth about two Euros, and was partially responsible for her downfall.

 

Verjamem by Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012)

Higher by NuAngels (Ukraine NF 2016)

You’re Not Alone by Joe & Jake (United Kingdom 2016)

 

Euphoria by Loreen (Sweden 2012)

Come on…do I really need to explain this one? I know I feel like I could successfully complete a decathlon whenever I listen to Loreen’s winning entry (although I’m more likely to be found eating a donut, tbh).

 

Help You Fly by IVAN (Belarus 2016)

Cvet z Juga by Alenka Gotar (Slovenia 2007)

Dziesma Par Laimi by Fomins & Kleins (Latvia 2004)

Glorious by Cascada (Germany 2013)

 

Cool Me Down by Margaret (Poland NF 2016)

It’s going to be a while before hardcore, NF-following ESC fans stop mentioning Margaret, even though Poland proved anti-Michał peeps wrong by smashing Eurovision 2016 without her. So why not bring her up in this conversation? After all, I can confirm that many of the athletes competing in Brazil are hotter than fire, and that nothing could cool them down.

 

Unbreakable by Sinplus (Switzerland 2012)

Walk On Water by Ira Losco (Malta 2016)

We Are The Heroes by Litesound (Belarus 2012)

 

Dime by Beth (Spain 2003)

Based on how psyched the Spanish team were during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations, I don’t think they need one of their fellow countrywomen to pump them up. But the rest of the world could use a little Latin flavour courtesy of Beth – it’s perfect for getting us in the mood given that the Rio games are the first to be held in South America. Olé!

 

Time To Shine by Melanie Réne (Switzerland 2015)

Sunlight by Nicky Byrne (Ireland 2016)

I Can by Blue (2011)

 

Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015)

I bet you thought I’d left the most obvious song of all out of the running (pun intended). As if! Last year’s winner is so suited to becoming an Olympic anthem, I’d bet my not-completely-pathetic bank balance on Sweden having used it to back their coverage at least ten times already. MZW performed Heroes at the Australian Open earlier this year, so we already know it works in a sporting context. Put on some Lycra and blast it as loud as possible, and I can guarantee you’ll be feeling like an Olympian (if not an idiot) in no time.

 

 

 

And voila! That’s my personal soundtrack of the 2016 Olympics, Eurovision-style (my favourite style). Because I’m down with the kids, y’all, I could have put together a convenient Spotify playlist to insert here at the end of this post…but due to a technical error, you’re getting a good old-fashioned YouTube playlist instead. That’s better than nothing, right?

 

 

What do you think of this collection of tracks? Would you be happy to sprint for the finish line (possibly in slow-mo) to these tunes, or do you have a playlist of your own that makes you feel like an elite athlete…or just less like a couch potato? Let me know below.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to feasting my eyes on anything and everything Rio has to offer. If it involves countries competing against each other while flags obscure the majority of camera shots, then I’m on board!

 

I hope you enjoy the rest of the Olympics. Remember, they’re just like Eurovision, only sweatier. Or, in Sergey Lazarev’s case, just like Eurovision.

 

2015sig

 

 

PARTY FOR EVERYBODY! Celebrating EBJ’s 7th birthday with a special countdown (#shareyour7)

For most people, today is Tuesday. For some people, it may still be Monday. For other people – the really slack ones who didn’t get the memo that I’d posted this and just happened to stumble across it belatedly (subscribe or stop by my social media to avoid such disasters by receiving new post alerts *SHAMELESS PLUG*) – it could be any old day of the week. But for me, it’s June 28, and that’s kind of a big deal.

Why? Because seven years ago today (!) I decided to inflict my obsession with/ability to talk constantly about Eurovision upon the world, via a blog that would become known as Eurovision By Jaz…since that’s what I decided to call it that day, duh. Back then in 2009, I couldn’t have foreseen that I’d still be running the blog in my own haphazard manner after so much time had passed – let alone off the back of an ACTUAL TRIP to the contest after ten years of frenzied fangirling (I still have to pinch myself on the hour every hour to remind myself that I was in Stockholm). The reason I’m still around is simple, though: I do it for the love. I mean, if I did for popularity and adoration I would’ve lost the will years ago.

Here and now, in case you were wondering, I’m certain that as long as I enjoy chatting all things ESC with you guys, and as long as at least one person out there seems to be a fan of my material (besides me), I’ll be here doing what I do. I.e. criticising contestants’ costume choices and objectifying whoever happens to be the hottest guy of the latest contest line-up (in 2016, I’ve moved on from Måns to Freddie, FYI). If you’re willing to come along for the ride, I can guarantee a safe, yet entertaining and occasionally controversial journey through the years to come.

Before I let loose and blow my own kazoo (not a euphemism), I want to thank anyone who’s reading this intro. If you are, it means you’ve taken the time to drop by EBJ, probably out of habit or to see if it’s your cup of kaffe. You might have been with me from the beginning, be a recent reader, or be someone who’s sick of me already and plans to stick with Wiwi Bloggs exclusively from now on – I don’t mind whichever way. I’m just grateful for your visit and confident that you must be a pretty cool person since you’re attracted to rather than repulsed by the word ‘Eurovision’.

Now, to kick off my 7th birthday (blogday?) celebrations, here’s a substandard graphic I prepared earlier!

 

hbebj16

 

I’ve decided to celebrate this milestone with a countdown that’s not your usual countdown. It’s not a Top 10, for starters – it’s actually a Top 7, and (brace yourselves for a theme to emerge here) it will feature my personal top 7 songs that have placed seventh in the ESC since EBJ began. In other words, I’m about to rank, from my least loved to my most loved, the seventh placers of 2010-2016. Given that I started blogging just after Eurovision 2009, Sakis Rouvas Vol. 2 will not be included in this list. But, as I know he’d be devastated to be un-invited so unceremoniously from this partay (and be likely to release a song entitledThis Is (Not) Our Night), I’m going to use him to rate each of the seven entries using a system I like to call ‘The Sakis Head Scale’.

You can see why.

 

shs

 

If you’re keen to rate any of the following tracks – or ANY seventh-placed song from Eurovision history, for that matter – using the Sakis Head Scale/conventional 0-12 points (ugh, how normal), head to the comments section below. Alternatively, tweet me @EurovisionByJaz using the hashtag #shareyour7, and tell me which sixth runner-up is your favourite…or least favourite.

Without further ado (you know how I love ado, but I’ll restrain myself on this occasion), let’s kick off the countdown!

 

 

#7 | ‘May the winter stay away from my harvest night and day…’

Apricot Stone by Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010)

I fully expect to be pelted with apricot stones and verbal abuse over this one. I wasn’t surprised by Armenia’s lower-end-of-the-top-ten finish in Oslo, but that doesn’t mean I ‘got’ Apricot Stone. It’s not a bad song, per se – but push my buttons, it does not. It reminded me a bit of the Dutch entry two years previously, and that (Hind’s Your Heart Belongs To Me, for anyone having a brain-blank) was dated in 2008. Based on that, I never found the Armenian version very fresh – especially its chorus. And I hate to say this, because I’m totally pro-Rapunzel letting down her hair…but Eva’s super lengthy locks kind of freaked me out.

Sakis 2

 

#6 | ‘Watch my dance, head up high, hands like wings and I’ll fly…’

Watch My Dance by Loukas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike (Greece 2011)

Ah, Greece and their love of fusing rap with…not rap. There has to be some irony in the fact that they blended rap and ethnic sounds better in 2016 than in 2011, yet lost their 100% qualification record this year and finished seventh five years ago. If I remember correctly, a lot of us fans were convinced that Loukas and Stereo Mike (now known as Spotify Mike, most likely) would be Greece’s downfall, and that included me at the time. Nowadays, I like this song more than I did then, but it’s still too intense and too melodramatic for me to play that often – not to mention jarring enough to resemble an edit of a movie put together by a monkey. All in all, I prefer it when Greece takes a lighter approach to their rap fusion entries, á la Rise Up (#ROBBED). Though I’m not unwilling to watch Loukas’ dance, if he’s still after an audience and will be shirtless.

Sakis 2.5

 

#5 | ‘My life is on a string when I see you smile, our love will last a thousand miles…’

Shine by the Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014)

Here’s a song that I hated when I first heard it, only to find myself humming along shortly thereafter. I guess there’s no shortage of wonders an oversized see-saw can work, particularly when combined with twins who temporarily become conjoined via their ponytails. To be honest, I still don’t think Shine is a great song – it certainly has nothing on the duo’s Junior Eurovision winner Vesinniy Jazz – but there’s something nice about the melody and the way the girls harmonise (as only identical twins can) that had it growing on me even before the giant papier mâché sun was unfolded by a Portuguese national finalist (naturally). In fact, I have it stuck in my head right now.

Sakis 2.5

 

#4 | ‘I didn’t want to wake you up, my love was never gonna be enough…’

Goodbye To Yesterday by Elina Born & Stig Rästa (Estonia 2015)

The song that won Eesti Laul by a landslide last year couldn’t do the same at Eurovision, but 7th? Totally respectable, especially given the unfortunate and unjust outcome of Estonia’s entry in Stockholm. Goodbye To Yesterday is one of many fine feathers in Stig Rästa’s compositional cap, and while it wasn’t up there with my personal douze-pointers in 2015, I can’t deny that it has something special. The dynamic between the two characters in the song’s story makes for a perfect duet, and the song itself is one that feels both retro and fresh. And who could resist a lyric like ‘As I got outside, I smiled to the dog’? Not me, that’s for sure. Or the dog, I’m guessing.

Sakis 3

 

#3 | ‘You shook my life like an earthquake, now I’m waking up…’

LoveWave by Iveta Mukuchyan (Armenia 2016)

And here we have the latest track to reach the seventh rung of Eurovision’s top 10 ladder – one that makes me hopeful for a future in which cutting-edge, experimental music outnumbers stale cookie-cutter-type stuff in the contest. When a song doesn’t grab me straight away, but intrigues (rather than horrifies) me, I’m happy, because I know I’m going to love it eventually. LoveWave is initially disarming with its spoken-word start, but it makes you wonder where it’s headed and what kind of ground it’s about to break (so to speak). Ultimately, it’s a powerful punch-packer of a track, fronted by the femme fatale figure of Iveta who sells it vocally and visually. You can’t tell me this doesn’t kick Apricot Stone’s ass.

Sakis 3.5

 

#2 | ‘I am a lonely sailor drinking the night away, my ship is made from hope, she’s searching for your bay…’

Love Me Back by Can Bonomo (Turkey 2012)

The last time we saw Turkey compete in the ESC, they gave me everything I want in my ethno-pop. That includes a) a generous dollop of traditional sounds that set the song apart from its rivals; b) three minutes of fun and frivolity without any ‘this is a novelty act and it can’t be taken seriously’ vibes; and c) back-up dancers who can transform their costumes into a sailboat at a second’s notice. Basically, it’s the whole package. Catchy, unique and easy to sing along to (or yell drunkenly over in the midst of an enthusiastic round of the Eurovision Drinking Game), Love Me Back is also a masterclass in how to make a cultural mark on the contest without alienating anyone…besides people prone to seasickness.

Sakis 3.5

 

#1 | ‘While the world breaks into pieces, I compose new places and desires which also belong to you…’

L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)

If you hadn’t guessed already, given that only one 2010-2016 7th-placer is yet to be mentioned, Italy takes out the top spot with one of my favourite Eurovision songs of ALL TIME (if your name is Kanye West, don’t bother trying to dispute that). An entry that truly puts the ‘song’ into Eurovision Song Contest, L’Essenziale is lyrically and melodically magic, and comes equipped with a message that doesn’t make your skin crawl thanks to its cheesiness (yes, Russia, it CAN be done without resorting to love love, peace peace). I would marry this song if that were at all possible, I’m so crazy about it. Although, if Marco is available, I’d rather marry him instead. Then he could serenade me with the song whenever I wanted. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Sakis 5

 

Well, I’ve shared my seven – a song for every year I’ve been blogging here at EBJ. Holy Hard Rock Hallelujah! Remember, if you want to do the same, I’d consider it a birthday gift and therefore wouldn’t be offended by the lack of fruit baskets being delivered to my door. You should also feel free to tell me what you thought of my ranking. How would you rearrange it? Was seventh place too good or not good enough for these tracks? Exactly how offended are you right now?

While you’re letting me know, I’ll be off raising a glass to myself…and, of course, planning seven more years’ worth of Eurovisual entertainment for anyone who currently reads or will someday stumble upon this site. I hope you enjoy what’s to come as much as I’m going to enjoy creating it for you (if the Sakis heads are any indication, I’ll have an epic time).

 

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A (Final) Supersized Serving of Scandipop: My Top 50 Melodifestivalen Entries, 2006-2015! (The Top 10)

Meghan Trainor might be all about that bass, but me? I’m more about that Melodifestivalen. The search for Måns Zelmerlöw’s successor began on Saturday, with Ace Wilder (predictably) and Robin ‘Bedroom Eyes’ Bengtsson going direkt till final, and the duos of Albin and Mattias/Samir and Viktor heading off to Andra Chansen. Melfest has certainly started on a good note (if I may make a musical pun without you throwing yourself through the nearest window), but I suspect the show’s best is yet to come. That makes me even more excited to set my next super-early Sunday alarm, so bring it, SVT!

Speaking of which…I’m doing a bit of ye olde ‘bringing’ myself today. But rather than bringing you two hours of camp, poptastic entertainment feat. several glorious utterances of the phrase ‘Sverige, vi har ett resultat’, I’m FINALLY bringing you the conclusion to my Melfest Top 50 countdown. I guess I can still say ‘Vi har ett resultat’ – it’s just that the resultat in this case is my Top 10 from 2006-2015.

Forty other Melfest entries from that period have graced my list so far. In case you’ve forgotten which, here’s a recap:

  • #11 Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015)
  • #12 Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandén (2012)
  • #13 This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (2010)
  • #14 In The Club by Danny Saucedo (2011)
  • #15 Try Again by Dilba (2011)
  • #16 My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen (2011)
  • #17 Keep On Walking by Salem Al Fakir (2010)
  • #18 Efter Solsken by Panetoz (2014)
  • #19 Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone (2015)
  • #20 Echo by Outtrigger (2014)
  • #21 Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt (2012)
  • #22 Empty Room by Sanna Nielsen (2008)
  • #23 Better Or Worse by Julia Alvgard (2011)
  • #24 Baby Goodbye by EMD (2009)
  • #25 Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder (2014)
  • #26 Alla by Sofia (2009)
  • #27 Like Suicide by Christian Walz (2011)
  • #28 Temple of Love by BWO (2006)
  • #29 The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite (2012)
  • #30 Där Och Då Med Digby Emelie Irewald (2015)
  • #31 Euphoria by Loreen (2012)
  • #32 Yes We Can by Oscar Zia (2014)
  • #33 Living To Die by Andreas Johnson (2015)
  • #34 One By One by Elize Ryd and Rickard Söderberg (2015)
  • #35 Red by EKO (2014)
  • #36 Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson (2015)
  • #37 Around The World by Dr. Alban and Jessica Folcker (2014)
  • #38 Bröder by Linus Svenning (2014)
  • #39 I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar (2015)
  • #40 För Din Skull by Kalle Johansson (2015)
  • #41 Falling by State of Drama (2013)
  • #42 Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan (2012)
  • #43 Hello Goodbye by Tone Damli and Erik Segerstedt (2013)
  • #44 Begging by Anton Ewald (2013)
  • #45 Stormande Hav by Timoteij (2012)
  • #46 Stay The Night by Alcazar (2009)
  • #47 Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah (2015)
  • #48 Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette (2015)
  • #49 På Väg by Abalone Dots (2012)
  • #50 Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren (2015)

And if you want to revisit rather than recap, you can check out #50-#31 in detail here, and #30-#11 here.

Och nu, without further ado, here is…

 

mf101

 

#10 | Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky (2012) 

The overwhelming fan favourite of Melfest 2012 may have been Loreen, but personally, I have more of a soft spot for Miss Miskovsky (among other 2012 alumni). I know, I know – I’m a terrible person, and I’ve just bought myself a one-way ticket to Eurovision purgatory as punishment. But before you consider dropping any atomic glitter bombs on my head, hear me out. I know as well as you do that Euphoria was the right representative for Sweden at Eurovision in Baku, and it’s definitely one of my all-time favourite winning songs. But when I look/listen back at Melfest that year, I find that there’s something about the guitar-driven, electro-tinged Why Start A Fire? – something ethereal and otherworldly – that hits me right in the goosebump generator (wherever that is). Euphoria never achieved quite the same thing. Lyrically intriguing and melodically stunning, Lisa’s self-penned entry had me hypnotised from the first time I heard it in full. Its place on this list is a declaration of love it deserves.

 

#9 | Mystery by Dead By April (2012)

When Outtrigger’s Echo popped up in part two of this countdown, I told you guys I had a thing for Melfest rock. As you can see, I wasn’t kidding. I’m not saying I adore everything about Echo or Mystery (the throat-stripping screams in each track are far from being my cup of tea) but…come to think of it, the screaming is the only thing I’m not a fan of. Mystery made a big impact on me when DBA took on Melfest, and not just because I had an obsessive crush on lead singer (at the time) Zandro (and his tattoos). The song is well-written and was well-performed, with Zandro’s clear-cut vocals contrasting nicely with Stoffe Andersson’s death growls (‘death growls’ = a phrase I never expected would be defined for me by Melodifestivalen). There’s both vulnerability and aggressiveness to be heard here, and that makes for a dynamic listening experience. When you want to rock out, AND lament a lost love or a Netflix-related neck injury (for example) at the same time, Mystery is the perfect outlet.

 

#8 | You by Robin Stjernberg (2013)

Just thinking back to the days when Robin became the first Melfest winner to detour through Andra Chansen has happy tears moistening my eyes – so take everything I’m about to say with a grain of sentimentality. You was one of the most authentic, least forced winners Melodifestivalen has ever crowned. It wasn’t a formulaic cookie-cutter pop song trying desperately to come out on top – it was just one man + a pleasantly subdued neutral palette + a touching-but-not-cloying tribute + THAT VOICE. Oh, and a fire curtain. And all of that ended up creating an unexpected champion, via the most magical voting sequence ever recorded on film. Robin’s win felt so right. You is a song that builds and then builds some more, rising from a solid foundation of acoustic guitar and soft vocals to an explosive (literally, when you consider that fire curtain) conclusion, preceded by a show-stopping note from Robin that declared ‘I’m a contender!’. And shattered glassware from the north to the south of Sweden. It may not have shattered any records at Eurovision, but it will always be one of my most-loved host entries.

 

#7 | Bedroom by Alvaro Estrella (2014)

Aaaaand BOOM (boom boom boo-boo-boom) – just like that, you can say goodbye to sentimentality, and hello to my completely superficial love for a song about sex. Lyrical content such as ‘shoes off in the driveway, shirts off in the doorway, pants off in the hallway’ isn’t exactly the height of sophistication and significance, but it doesn’t have to be when a song’s this catchy. It wasn’t until I heard the Bedroom snippet prior to Melfest 2014’s first semi that I thought ‘THIS is what I’m talking about. THIS is why I devote all the time I’m not thinking about Eurovision to thinking about Sweden’s preselection.’ Because when I’m not weeping into a copy of SCAN Magazine over the raw beauty of a power ballad, I’m dancing wildly in my Bedroom to stuff like this. Alvaro suffers from Eric Saade Syndrome – he’s not a great live vocalist, but he can bust a move and churn out chart hits with ease. His Melfest entry was made for the dance floor, and is basically three minutes of proof that Swedish songwriters should continue to be in constant global demand.

 

#6 | Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson (2012)

Is there any genre that doesn’t sound sensational i Svenska? The first non-English number in my top 10 is also an R & B song, and I don’t reckon it would have made an appearance at all if it’d been sung in English by ex-EMD member Mattias. Förlåt Mig (‘Forgive Me’) is so slick and well-produced in studio, it couldn’t quite live up to itself live (I’m convinced that those Kate Ryan light sabers are a bad-luck charm) which may explain why it didn’t progress past its semi. Or perhaps I’m just the only person on the planet who thinks it’s the shiz, and should have at LEAST made it to Andra Chansen. If I had to single out one thing I really commend about this song, it would be the way it manages not to repeat itself, in spite of its straightforward sstructure. What I mean by that (because that made zero sense) is, while the verses and the chorus and that other bit before the final chorus *forgets everything she was taught about song construction in music class* together form a cohesive whole, they’re all unique. This isn’t a ‘heard half of it, heard all of it’ kind of song – and that, combined with its general awesomeness, gets my fist bump of approval.

 

#5 | Undo by Sanna Nielsen (2014)

There are two kinds of people: those who think Sanna was handed a pity win after her seventh attempt to take home the Melfest trophy; and those who think the time was right because she won with her strongest contribution to the competition. There are no prizes for guessing which camp my tent’s pitched in. I have been besotted with Undo from the moment I met it, and I firmly believe it to be one of Melfest’s – and Eurovision’s – greatest-ever ballads. Helping that mindset along is the fragility Sanna conveyed during each and every performance of the song. Thanks to her crystal-clear voice that is seemingly expelled at the push of a button (I think it’s on the back of her neck, like those Barbie dolls that have “growing” hair), she didn’t really have to focus on nailing her vocal. What she could focus on was making us believe her heartbreak was as fresh in Denmark as it had been during Deltävling 2 back in Sweden. And that, my friends, is what made for the dictionary definition of ‘spine-tingling’ produced by Undo. That and THE MOMENT!!! before the second chorus, which sent the wow factor shooting straight into the stratosphere.

 

#4 | Kom by Timoteij (2010)

Do you ever just sit and think about all of the things you’d never have discovered if it wasn’t for Melodifestivalen? No? Well, I do. And one of the main things I think about is the glorious girl band Timoteij. Their signature blend of Celtic instrumentals and Europop has led to a string of hits, and it all started with Kom (‘Come’, in case you didn’t see that Kom-ing). If this song is any indication, then Swedish-born ethno-pop can totally hold its own against the Armenian/Spanish/Turkish equivalents. The iconic opening riff ignites a sense of mystery that carries on through the rest of the song, interwoven with a pulsing, toe-tapping beat. The chorus is simple, but so effective; the melody is irresistible; and the ubiquitous key change arrives at the perfect moment. And that rolecall of redeeming features doesn’t even take into account the power of Timoteij harmonies (which, when on point, could poke a hole in a house brick). Even in a super-strong Melfest final, it’s hard (for me) to believe this finished fifth, and not higher.

 

#3 | Soldiers by Ulrik Munther (2012)

This track, co-written and performed by Peter Pan Ulrik for his Melfest debut (he’d go on to try way too hard to win the following year, only to end up 3rd again) was THE arena anthem of 2012 – if we’re talking down-tempo arena anthems, as the up-tempo trophy obviously goes to Loreen and her Euphoria. Heavy on instruments – guitars, drums, and a harmonica that gave an authentic bluesy feel to a polished pop song – it relied on sincerity and sing-along power (plus that angelic, seemingly prepubescent face of Mr. Munther’s), rather than flashiness, to harness votes. Remind you of anything? Say, Melfest 2016’s freshly-qualified Constellation Prize? It should. Soldiers is such a great song in all aspects of song…ness (songery?). The melody is memorable, the structure makes for a smoothly-navigated but not-too-predictable three minutes, and the lyrics have substance (but not so much that I have no idea what the manboy in the flat cap is on about). In an epic edition of Melfest, this was my standout entry.

 

#2 | Hela Natten by Josef Johansson (2014)

(No decent videos of this performance appear to be available on Youtube, y’all. Apologies.)

There are certain songs that I gravitate towards because they’re catchy. Then, there are those that make me feel all the feelings that tend to give one goosebumps. Relatively unknown prior to his Melodifestivalen debut, Josef Johansson provided us with a song that was the best of both worlds – a total tune, and a heartstring-puller. That’s what makes Hela Natten (‘All Night’) magic. No, it didn’t get anywhere in its semi, but it left an impression on me that has outlasted the impression left by any other participating songs from 2014 that did progress. The song’s build-up to explosive moments is stellar, ensuring the chorus packs punch whenever it pops up. And the introduction of a choir during the last thirty seconds or so was inspired, giving Josef the vocal support he needed to make the final stretch of the song bigger and (almost) better than the rest. I also credit this song for kick-starting my fangirling of Josef’s subsequent releases, like Blickar Kan Mörda, which was completely different to Hela Natten – i.e. a true testament to Josef’s artistic versatility.

 

And now, after two previous installments of Scandipop-oriented gushing, and my #10-#2 countdown above, it’s time to say hej to what is probably a rather predictable number one.

My favourite Melodifestivalen entry from 2006-2015 is…


#1 | You’re Out Of My Life by Darin (2010)

YEAH IT IS! If you’ve read virtually any of my past posts, you’ll know that ’04 Idol runner-up Darin is my personal pinnacle of popstardom. He’s a bit of a musical chameleon, and I’ve loved every stage of his career – his folksy phase of 2015/16, for instance, has seen me flog his latest album Fjärilar I Magen like my life depends on it. When Darin decided to give Melfest a go in 2010, he was in more of a power ballad phase, and that’s how he came to be partnered with You’re Out of My Life. If Sanna’s Undo is the female ballad to end all other female ballads, then YOOML is its male counterpart. I can’t even describe in detail why I love it as much as I do (you’ll be relieved to learn) – it’s just undying, could-listen-to-it-on-repeat-forever love. So if you don’t understand why I even find this song listenable, and you head down to the comments to say so, don’t expect me to emerge from my love bubble long enough to notice. The rose-coloured glasses have been super-glued to my face by the magnificence of Darin’s attempt to get to Eurovision.

 

Okay…so that was the written equivalent of the London Marathon. If you crossed the finish line, congratulations. If you just scrolled down to see how lengthy this post was and swiftly thought ‘As if!’ upon finding out, here’s what you missed:

  • #1 You’re Out of My Life by Darin (2010)
  • #2 Hela Natten by Josef Johansson (2014)
  • #3 Soldiers by Ulrik Munther (2012)
  • #4 Kom by Timoteij (2010)
  • #5 Undo by Sanna Nielsen (2014)
  • #6 Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson (2012)
  • #7 Bedroom by Alvaro Estrella (2014)
  • #8 You by Robin Stjernberg (2013)
  • #9 Mystery by Dead By April (2012)
  • #10 Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky (2012)

What are your thoughts on my Top 10? Would any of this back-catalogue Melfest music make your shortlist? If not, which entries would? If you’ve got something to say, I’m hanging out to hear it.

While I’m waiting for your words, I’ll be figuring out how to handle the upcoming Super Saturday – one that makes the six-show evening just gone seem sedate by comparison. Join me on the weekend to see if the stress sent me into meltdown mode, leaving me unable to string a sentence together; or if I managed to rank, review and predict in spite of the pressure. If Laura Tesoro is still wondering what the pressure is, somebody had better tell her that it’s THIS FREAKIN’ SATURDAY.

 

Until THIS FREAKIN’ SATURDAY…

 

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Another Supersized Serving of Scandipop: My Top 50 Melodifestivalen Entries, 2006-2015! (#30-#11)

Hej there! With a brief break between semi allocation draws, slogan/logo (slogo?) announcements and national finals upon us, there’s finally time for me to continue the countdown of my favourite Melfest entries ever…excluding all editions of the show between 1959 and 2005. As I mentioned in part one, narrowing the possible picks down to those performed within a ten-year period is hard enough – there’s no way I was going to put myself (or you) through the ordeal of compiling an all-time Top 50. So here we are, at the penultimate point of my 2006-2015 version: #30-#11.

Once again, I’ve made a playlist of all the tracks featured below, if you want to check that out. If you just want some method to justify the madness, then read on as I reveal…

 

mfc2

 

#30 | Där Och Då Med Dig by Emelie Irewald (2015) This one flew under the radar at Melodifestivalen 2015, finishing in an unfortunate sixth place in the second semi. That was unsurprising when you consider that the main talking point of the entry, pre-show, was Emelie’s status as ex-girlfriend of Danny Saucedo (perhaps association with him is a bad luck charm? BREAK THE CURSE, MOLLY SANDÉN!). Even I was more interested in that gossip than the possibility that her song could be anything special. But come performance time, failure to qualify and all, Där Och Då Med Dig (There and Then With You) had me hypnotised. Haunting, melancholy in an intriguing manner and refreshingly subdued, it left a real impression on me – even though I was yet to Google Translate the lyrics at that point (if you haven’t, spoiler alert: they’re heartbreaking).

 

#29 | The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite (2012) 

 

#28 | Temple of Love by BWO (2006) Now we’re getting vintage (according to the parameters of this list, at least)! BWO had many a shot at representing Sweden at Eurovision – four, to be exact. But Temple of Love was the song that resulted in their most successful attempt. I’m in total agreement with that stat, because I reckon it was by far their best entry of the lot. It’s not lyrically substantial, á la Emelie’s song, but that’s not what BWO do best. Schlager-influenced dance bangers that get butts moving are their forte, and Temple of Love is nothing if not one of those. It’s up-tempo, infectious and a ton of fun – not to mention epic to sing along to when you may or may not be a teeny bit drunk (don’t ask me how I know that).

 

#27 | Like Suicide by Christian Walz (2011) 

 

#26 | Alla by Sofia (2009) Melodifestivalen 2012 would bring us traditional Greek sounds combined with Swedish-language lyrics in the form of OPA!’s Allting Blir Bra Igen…but back in ’09, we got Greek on Greek – with some rock thrown in for good measure – from Sofia (who is Swedish, but just has a thing for Greece. As an Australian with a thing for Sweden, I ain’t gonna pass judgment). And, pardon the pun, this song really does rock. I love how high-intensity it is, how much energy it whips up despite being mid-tempo, and how great the Greek (as odd as it was to hear in the Melfest line-up) sounds over music that’s traditional-meets-modern. Sofia comes across as the ultimate power woman when she belts out the anthem that is Alla, and I want to join the army that I assume she started up back then. How does ‘Private Jaz, reporting for duty!’ sound?

 

#25 | Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder (2014) 

 

#24 | Baby Goodbye by EMD (2009) You guys know how much I love boy bands – so, when the swarthy Swedish trio known individually as Erik, Mattias and Danny hit up Melfest, I was in my element. Featuring the success guarantee that is whistling, a thumping mid-tempo beat, and a structure that allows each member of the group to have a solo moment, Baby Goodbye sums up everything that was great about Melodifestivalen as the 2000s drew to a close. It’s slick, catchy, a little retro, and boasts the kind of killer chorus that can make you forget you’ve heard plenty of similar songs in the past (because you’re so focused on singing along enthusiastically, you can’t think about anything else).

 

#23 | Better Or Worse by Julia Alvgard (2011) 

 

#22 | Empty Room by Sanna Nielsen (2008) Six years and two further entries away from FINALLY representing Sweden at Eurovision, Sanna had a crack with what is arguably one of the best ballads ever associated with…well, anyone or anything (yes, I am prone to exaggeration). The Rapunzel-esque hairdo didn’t do our girl many favours, but nobody tackles an emotional, piano-driven, heartstring-tugger like she does. Dressed in the post-breakup colour of choice and relying on nothing but her pipes to impress, Sanna sang her way to second place with a song that is just as dynamic – and just as effective as a vehicle for her voice – as Undo. Do I prefer Empty Room to Undo, then? Well, you’ll have to wait and see. I will say that it is, without doubt, up there with the best of her seven entries.

 

#21 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt (2012)

 

#20 | Echo by Outtrigger (2014) Yes, you read that right. Hard rock is hard to come by in Melfest, but when it does make an appearance, I tend to gravitate towards it like a moth to an aggressive, head-banging flame. This song allows me to let out all of my frustrations, which include but are not limited to La Voix making it to the ESC in 2009, and people being mad at Sweden for winning the contest last year instead of being mad at the scoring system. But Echo isn’t just three minutes of screaming and general noise – there is a cracking tune that accompanies all of the guitar-shredding. Rock on (a phrase only uttered by people who do not do so on a regular basis)!

 

#19 | Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone (2015) 

 

#18 | Efter Solsken by Panetoz (2014) I love Panetoz’ Melfest debut for the same reason I love their first major hit Dansa Pausa – because it’s what sunshine and happiness and rainbows would sound like if they went on a vacation together to a tropical island. Everything about this track makes me smile, from the irresistible beat, to how adorable Swedish sounds layered over it. Sometimes I like my music to be deep and meaningful and angst-ridden; but when I don’t, I turn to stuff like this and think to myself ‘Hakuna matata!’. The fun and escapist nature of this group’s music makes me very excited to hear their entry for 2016.

 

#17 | Keep On Walking by Salem Al Fakir (2010)

 

#16 | My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen (2011) Record-breaking, game-changing Euphoria has already made it onto this list, which may surprise you whether you’d forgotten or not. That’s right – I have a higher regard for the song that initially introduced us to Loreen (assuming we missed the 2004 season of Idol Sverige) than her Melfest/Eurovision winning one…though I love them both. I think MHIRM is a little more interesting and a little less straightforward (genre-wise) than Euphoria. It seamlessly blends elements of electro, dance and disco music to produce something that is poppy, but has a definite edge. And you’ve got to give props to Loreen for pulling off the ‘I stopped by Sesame Street, skinned a Muppet and am now wearing it as a coat’ trend.

 

#15 | Try Again by Dilba (2011) 

 

#14 | In The Club by Danny Saucedo (2011) I’ve always thought that Mr. Molly Sandén tried too hard to win on his second solo shot at Melfest – meaning that Amazing, while impressive, didn’t 110% live up to its title. I much prefer Danny’s first foray in the comp without the E and the M of EMD by his side. Not only did In The Club perfectly illustrate how the guy can sing and dance simultaneously without letting one or both skills suffer as a result (not something you can say about his vanquisher Eric Saade) but it also had super crowd-pumping power. Unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of moonwalking to this in a club (Swedish pop>mindless trance, but too few playlist programmers are aware of that). However, I have done it up and down each hallway in my house, and it was an awesome party for one, let me tell you! #tragicandiknowit

 

#13 | This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (2010) 

 

#12 | Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandèn (2012) I’ll keep this short and sweet, since I’ve already professed my love for WAIC in a Melfest Monday post. Molly’s one of many returnees to the Swedish NF this year, and she’s going to have to go above and beyond to equal the magnificence of Why Am I Crying? I’m confident she can do it, what with her recent releases being the bomb and all. But I’ll always have a room in my heart rented out to her 2012 entry, due to its display of emotional fragility AND strength, touches of tinkling piano, and steady build to an explosive final chorus well worth waiting for.

 

#11 | Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015) 

 

The Melodifestivalen/Eurovision reigning champ brings us to the end of this Scanditastic™ episode of the countdown, sadly (or not, depending on the level of enjoyment you derived from reading my ramblings). The most important installment is still to come, and it won’t be immediately – there’s some NF nattering to do first. So, to save all of your fingernails from being bitten off in suspense, I’ll drop some hints about my Top 10. Guess some or all of the featured songs/acts, and I’ll honour you with your own personal round of applause!

  • The Top 10 features Melfest entries from 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. More specifically, two from 2010; four from 2012; one from 2013; and three from 2014.
  • Two bands are included – one all male, the other all female. They’ve got VERY different sounds, but they’re both instrumentally inclined. My top 3, however, is made up purely of soloists.
  • Two Melfest winners – and therefore, Eurovision entries – made the final cut.
  • How my Top 10 placed (if they made it to their respective finals): #10 = 9th, #9 = 7th, #8 = 1st, #7 = DNQ, #6 = DNQ, #5 = 1st, #4 = 5th, #3 = 3rd, #2 = DNQ, #1 = 4th

Now’s the time for you to prep your own Melfest Top 10, if you’re keen on counting down with me. If you’re extra, EXTRA keen, I välkommen your #30-#11 lists in the comments below. Do we have any picks in common, or am I the only one with decent taste in music?

JK. I have terrible taste in music. And I’m totally okay with that.

 

See you sometime before Spain make their selection for Stockholm!

 

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A Supersized Serving of Scandipop: My Top 50 Melodifestivalen Entries, 2006-2015! (#50-#31)

Hallå, och välkommen till…um…nope, still not quite at the point where I can string together an entire introduction i Svenska. But I’ll get there. Possessing such a skill would have been ultra-appropriate today, though, given the subject matter of this post. There’s no need for me to explain it to you – the title tells you everything you need to know. Well, apart from one or two or three teeny tiny things:

  • Melodifestivalen is far and away my favourite pre-ESC national final (which may be cliché, but I don’t give a crap) so I’ll take any opportunity to celebrate its sheer sensational-ness. I’ve never posted a Melfest ranking before, so with that in mind – plus the fact that the 2016 edition of the show is creeping ever closer – I’m considering this window of time before NF season crazy-time begins as an opportunity more golden than Herreys’ shiny boots.
  • I realise that a Top 50 of Melfest spanning 1959 (the year of its inception) to present would have been more spectacular, but there’s just so much magnificent music to choose from, even limiting myself to the last ten years was a challenge. Besides, I’m far more familiar with the entries from 2006 onwards – i.e. the year I discovered the definitions of ‘Eurovision’ and ‘national finals’. You can, however, expect a more vintage view of the comp in the future.
  • There are a lot of entries from the last two/three years of Melfest in this first installment of the countdown, but I can assure you that trend does not (completely) continue in the #30-11 and Top 10 episodes. Just FYI.

Now, with that trio of housekeeping points taken care of, let’s get started! I’ve embedded some videos of the listed tracks below, but if you want to see and watch them all in one place, check out this playlist.

Sverige (and everywhere else)…vi har ett resultat.

Well, some of it, anyway.

 

Melfest50a

 

#50 | Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren (2015) No, I’m not joiking. As much as I love the standard Scandipop fare Melfest predominantly serves up, it was refreshing to have something on the NF’s most recent programme that managed to be super-Swedish without *Googles the songwriters just in case* having Thomas G:son’s name attached to it. Jag Är Fri could be the theme song for a tourist campaign urging us all to visit Lapland – and it totally works on me. I wonder if I could squeeze in a side trip while I’m i Sverige?

 

#49 | På Väg by Abalone Dots (2012)

 

#48 | Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette (2015) If it hadn’t been for the extremely predictable lyrics peppering this track from Mariette – and the presence of Måns + Stick Måns in Melfest 2015, of course – I’d have happily said ‘Si!’ to Sweden sending a cool, contemporary ballad-but-not-quite kind of pop song to Vienna. My favourite thing about this is how dynamic and drama-packed it is, without ever being OTT. It’s got a great melody, and overall, isn’t half as cheesy as you might expect a song called Don’t Stop Believing to be.

 

#47 | Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah (2015)

 

#46 | Stay The Night by Alcazar (2009) It’d practically be illegal to put together a list like this and NOT include Alcazar, unless you’re the President of the Anti-Schlager Society. Now, I’m not exactly heading up the Pro-Schlager Party, but I’ve always found Alcazar’s sound-alike Melfest entries to be infectiously irresistible. Stay The Night (the superior version of 2014’s Blame It On The Disco) is so textbook, you could sing it in your sleep even if you’d heard a minute-long snippet and nothing more. But there’s a certain appeal in such familiarity…and in that freaking catchy chorus.

 

#45 | Stormande Hav by Timoteij (2012)

 

#44 | Begging by Anton Ewald (2013) One of several surprise successes of Melodifestivalen 2013 (both Anton and Robin Stjernberg failed to qualify direkt til final, only to emerge victorious from Andra Chansen and finish 4th and 1st respectively), Begging became a big success in the Swedish charts too, and I understand why. Produced to perfection and not as derivative as your average dance track, it’s a frantically-paced club banger that I think holds its own without Anton busting many a move to add interest – partly because in studio, his vocals don’t suffer for the sake of enthusiastic pelvic thrusting. Forget about his comeback track Natural (although I personally liked that too)…it was during his debut as a frontman that he had the best musical weapon at his disposal.

 

#43 | Hello Goodbye by Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli (2013)

 

#42 | Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan (2012) GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT. I never wanted to enjoy this – even considering my crappy taste in movies and books, it should have been too low-brow for me – but what can I say? I’m easily swayed by an ear worm, and SDFB is nothing if not one heck of an ear worm. Also, bananas are my favourite fruit, and Sean has a penchant for them too, so…there’s that.

 

#41 | Falling by State of Drama (2013)

 

#40 | För Din Skull by Kalle Johansson (2015) The pre-comp Svensktoppen Nästa winners always get a raw deal in Melfest, methinks – never advancing anywhere (they’re lucky if they don’t come last in their semis). Still, I’m always a fan of their entries, and Kalle’s is no exception because it is adorable, dammit. Retro-flavoured pop doesn’t always float my boat, but För Din Skull (For Your Sake) is tinged, rather than soaked, with a slightly Sixties flavour, which lends itself very well to the Swedish language. I also really like the sound of Kalle’s voice, so all in all, this entry is sounding good, sugar (to me, at least).

 

#39 | I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar (2015)

 

#38 | Bröder by Linus Svenning (2014) Before he informed us that Forever Starts Today, Linus proved that you don’t have to opt for a ballad if you want to move people – move them straight to the nearest box of tissues, in this case. Written for him by Fredrik Kempe about the death of Linus’ brother (hence the title), Bröder is far more rocky than most tributes to a lost loved one. It does start out in ballad territory, giving you a chance to notice how pretty the melody is, before upping the ante and turning hard(er)core. I loved Bröder from the first listen, felt the emotion behind it, and practically jumped for joy when it scored a second chance and made it to the 2014 final.

 

#37 | Around The World by Dr Alban feat. Jessica Folcker (2014)

 

#36 | Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson (2015) A year ago, I would NEVER have considered including this song in my top fifty. After all, it was Magnus “I Can’t Feel My Face (Because of all the Botox)” Carlsson crashing Melfest yet again, with yet another been-there-heard -that schlager number. All of those things remain true, but the song has wormed its way into my brain and affections over time. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly superficial, all I want out of my music is a catchy tune. On that, Möt Mig I Gamla Stan delivers, and y’all can bet I’ll be singing the shiz out of it when I’m actually wandering around Gamla Stan.

 

#35 | Red by EKO (2014)

 

#34 | One By One by Elize Ryd & Rickard Söderberg (2015) Robbed of a place in Andra Chansen last year (IMO), this poperatic confection worked to a degree I didn’t expect. Sure, Rickard comes off a little too showy to be taken seriously at times, but Elize’s vocal saves the day, and the two do manage to mesh for the most part. One By One itself has a nice mix of light and shade, verses that are as interesting as the choruses, and a show-stopping money note from Rickard, prior to chorus no. 2, which gives me goosebumps.

 

#33 | Living To Die by Andreas Johnson (2015)

 

#32 | Yes We Can by Oscar Zia (2014) High School Musical met Melodifestivalen two years ago, when Oscar followed up his backing-singer-for-Behrang-Miri gig with a song about dancing in his underwear. Well, it was about other stuff too, but that was mentioned – and since it was okay for Lena to divulge the deets of her knickers to millions, I say it was okay for Oscar too. I feel like this entry is a rare one to fangirl over, but if I am one of just a few who’d say yes to Yes We Can, then so be it. This song’s epic! It packs a punch, it’s fun to sing along to…you can really let your hair down and rock out to it. And it reminds me of summer, making it a summer anthem, which automatically makes it awesome.

 

#31 | Euphoria by Loreen (2012)

 

 

Talk about ending on a (euphoric) high! Although, if you’re a massive Loreen fan, you might think seeing her ranked outside of the Top 10 is the lowliest of lows. In that case, don’t worry, because she might just crop up again in the countdown *insert mysterious, cliffhanger-type music here*.

 

I hope you enjoyed this supersized serving of Scandipop, with some Scandirock and Scandiotherstuff thrown in for good measure, even if you disagreed with some/all of my choices. Once again, here’s the full playlist:

 

Now’s the time for you to post your own #31-#50, or simply have your say on my song selections, in the comments below. Go on…do it for Christer Björkman.

I’ll be back in a few days’ time with more Melfest goodness – specifically, unveiling the Top 50 from #30 through to #11. As Anton Ewald would (probably) say, I’m begging *pelvic thrust* you to drop by and count them down with me!

 

 

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FRIDAY FAST FIVE | The Aussie songs I’d have sent to some Eurovisions of yesteryear

Welcome to 2016. Välkommen to a year of Eurovision, Stockholm-style (something we most recently could have said post-NYE 1999)!

I hope you guys had a blast doing whatever you did last night, and that you’re currently resting up in preparation for the full-on NF season we’re about to enter into. Said season has technically  already started – though in less full-on form – with Albania opting to send Eneda Tarifa’s Përrallë to Sweden (most likely in English) at the Festivali I Këngës final last weekend. That’s assuming none of the song’s writers decide to withdraw it from the contest, á la Elhaida Dani’s Diell. At the moment, I’m crossing my fingers for that NOT to happen, because there’s something about Përrallë that intrigues me. I’d like to see how it evolves and ends up sounding at Eurovision.

Speaking of how things sound at Eurovision…that’s how I’m introducing today’s post (my first of the year. Woo to the hoo!). I should have put together something more relevant to New Year’s Day, like a list of my favourite ESC-related music of 2015 or something – but I forgot to. Although I have selected two top musical moments from the year just passed over on ESC Insight. Mine appear alongside the picks from the core team and the rest of the site’s contributors, if you want to check them out (which you should, because they’re brilliant). So there is that.

But here on EBJ, THIS is what you’re getting on this mighty fine January 1st: a sequel to my recent Friday Fast Five, which listed the Australian artists I think should be on the shortlist for Stockholm. This time, I’m attempting to transport you to a magical world in which Australia has been competing at Eurovision for at least a couple of decades. I’m not saying I wish we had been – I just wanted to ramble on about some Aussie music from the 1990s/2000s that I love, while somehow relating it to Eurovision.

This is the result, in no order other than chronological: five awesome Australian songs I’d have sent to some past contests, if we’d been invited to the party pre-2015.

Oh, by the way…just assume that the following tracks would have been trimmed down to the EBU-regulation three minutes.

 

! (The Song Formerly Known As) by Regurgitator (1998)

Make way for one of my favourite party songs of all time, people! You may not see the logic in that description, but if you can separate the slightly bizarre music video (which is actually super-sane by Regurgitator standards) and the burst of profanity (I know it’s not an f-bomb, but a more explicit word for ‘popo’ isn’t exactly common ESC fare) from the song itself, that might help. ! is grungy and danceable at the same time, and curiously, never seems to date – 1998, 2008…who could pinpoint a year of release with 110% confidence if they weren’t already aware it was a 90s number? There’s something to be said for a song that has musical integrity and timelessness, but doesn’t for a second take itself too seriously.

How would it have fared at Eurovision? There’s no doubt it would have stood out in Birmingham, but would it have challenged Dana International’s Diva for the trophy? Realistically, nope. I do think it could have been top five material, based on the fact that it would have been unlike any of its competitors. Plus it would have RAISED THA ROOF, keeping celebratory spirits sky-high.

 

The Animal Song by Savage Garden (1999)

Savage Garden = the shining light of the Aussie music industry during the mid-1990s and early 2000s. That is, until members Darren and Daniel decided they didn’t like each other all that much (but that’s another story). Their back catalogue features a string of songs that would have made perfect Australian Eurovision entries – but as someone drawn to jungle jingles (i.e. any songs that could have played over the Lion King credits) I have to settle on The Animal Song as my pick. I can visualise this on the stage in Jerusalem so clearly. There’d be shirtless drummers. Lots of lights, in the absence of LED screens to display safari vistas. Tons of awkward-but-beautiful shots of Darren singing to the camera as the audience lose their collective shiz in the background. I am so sad that I will never see all of that happen.

How would it have fared at Eurovision? Call me biased, but I reckon this could have pipped Charlotte Nilsson at the post. It’s bigger, it’s more of an anthem, and it sounds much less like a Christmas carol.

 

Hearts A Mess by Gotye (2007)

Most non-Aussies would recognise Gotye as the painted man-face of Somebody That I Used To Know fame. That smash hit of a song could easily have been my selection here – but Hearts A Mess (yes, the lack of apostrophe is intentional) is a more haunting option, and would probably have been more striking on a stage á la Europe’s biggest. This song is a slow-burner, not unlike the classic Balkan ballads that Željko Joksimović can’t stop sending to Eurovision (which we ALL salute him for). It might be minimalist, but it grabs attention for that very reason; it’s dynamic, dipping in and out of soft and explosive moments; and it was lovingly recorded by Gotye in his bedroom. You can’t tell me the transition from a bedroom to the ESC, had Australia been invited to participate back in 2007, wouldn’t have made sense. Well, you can, but I won’t listen.

How would it have fared at Eurovision? Well, a shadowy lighting scheme and contemporary dancer or two would have worked wonders…but aside from scoring big with Belgium (Gotye’s homeland), I think this would have been a little too alternative to have viewers voting en masse.

 

Cosby Sweater by Hilltop Hoods (2014)

Here’s a song that would have been more or less destined to fail had it been sent to Eurovision last year the year before last (*shakes fist at 2016 for making me look foolish*), much like Trackshittaz’ Woki Mit Deim Popo in 2012 and, to a lesser extent, Who See’s Igranka the following year (I’m still seething over that Montenegrin near-miss). Hilltop Hoods’ Cosby Sweater is kind of like a love child of those two tracks, if that child had a super-Aussie accent. I love it, and I’d love to have seen it compete in Copenhagen for entertainment purposes. The Hoods are great live performers with expertise in crowd-rousing, and I expect the live audience would have responded very well – and/or with a ‘WTF?’ – to this ode to ugly jumpers (as we usually refer to them Down Under).

How would it have fared at Eurovision? Terribly, like I said. Europe would not get it. Rap/hip hop rarely does well at the ESC unless Greece sends it. At least one of said ugly jumpers would have made it onto the Hallerne stage, though, meaning Australia may not have won the contest, but would probably have won the Barbara Dex Award for 2014. Sorry, Vilija.

 

Do You Remember by Jarryd James (2015)

To finish off this Friday Fast Five, I present to you one of my favourite releases of 2015 – a twist on your traditional break-up ballad, feat. a mixture of pop, acoustic and r & b sounds, and a thumping, very hypnotic beat. Do You Remember is about as cool as Aussie music can get, I reckon, and one indication of that is the fact that it charted in Europe (i.e. Belgium, Germany and Switzerland – countries that can recognise smoothness of the highest quality even when it’s unrelated to chocolate production). I wouldn’t be surprised if, no matter what staging treatment it received, this song remained better as a recording than as three live minutes. However, as X Factor judge Guy Sebastian proved last year when he gave Do You Remember to one of groups on the show, it can work as a performance piece. If Guy had been unavailable to do Eurovision no. 60, I would have happily watched Jarryd James march into the musical battle armed with this.

How would it have fared at Eurovision? With the success of “out-of-the-box” stuff from the likes of Belgium and Latvia last year, I think this could have done reasonably well – though maybe not as well as Tonight Again, which is more energetic (meaning it could fight against the army of ballads present in Vienna) and instant. Top 10 wouldn’t have been out of reach.

 

EBJ Extras On A Night Like This by Kylie Minogue (2000); Zebra by John Butler Trio (2003); This Boy’s In Love by The Presets (2008); Open Season by Josef Salvat (2014); Shoulda Coulda Woulda by Elizabeth Rose (2015)

 

That’s me done, apart from the hours of hoping I’ve got to do now – hoping that at least one of these five songs tickled your fancy. If there was something you’d have liked to see/hear on the ESC stage in a parallel universe, let me know with a click below!

 

And, if you’ve got suggestions of Australian songs – or songs from another competing country’s archives – that would have made epic Eurovision entries in their day, head on down to the comments section pronto.

 

Until next time, keep on having a great start to 2016!

 

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COMING UP I hope you’re feeling hungry for all things Swedish! With Melodifestivalen, my personal highlight of NF season, not too far away, I thought it was time to get nostalgic and get ranking. The result? A three-course banquet feat. some supersized servings of Scandipop. That’s right – I’m preparing to count down my Top 50 Melfest Songs, 2006-2015. I hope you’ll join me with your own ranking at the ready.

 

 

FRIDAY FAST FIVE | The Aussie artists I’m desperate to see in Stockholm!

If speculating which artist will – or should – succeed Guy Sebastian as Australia’s Eurovision representative was a fiesta for the online Euroverse, then I am seriously late to the party. But that’s not unusual. And, technically, it’s never going to be too late to muse about that until the actual artist’s name is announced sometime in the new year.

So, on that note, I HAVE MUSED! As it’s Friday, I’m about to present my shortlist of Aussie acts who’d be sensational in Stockholm to you – accompanied by gushing justifications, of course – as another Fast Friday Five.* Some of them made it onto my previous, pre-Australian participation list; others I didn’t even know existed back then. Altogether, they’re an eclectic mix (by my standards) and I reckon SBS should keep their names handy as they muse themselves. But I’m über biased in saying that.

Have your own suggestions for ‘Straya at the ready, because my comments section just told me it’s dying to hear them – and I’m pretty curious too!

 

*I may have slipped a sixth pick in, hoping you wouldn’t notice. And I’ve just realised that explicitly drawing your attention to that now has eliminated all chance of you not noticing. Eh, whatever. My blog, my rules.

 

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Birds of Tokyo

Think…Lovebugs, Compact Disco, Voltaj

Who? BoT are a five-piece alt-rock band from Perth, Western Australia (as am I…boy, this city is just PACKED with talented people!) and they’re probably the most stereotypically anti-ESC artists on this list. You won’t catch them whipping off their trousers to reveal sequined hotpants halfway through a gig, or busting any Loreen-esque contemporary moves on stage – but I would be very interested to hear what they’d come up with for the contest. I think what we could expect from them is a simple-but-effective stage show (á la Softengine’s last year) and a very authentic, quality rendition of something that could be labelled ‘rock-pop fusion with an edge’.

Must-hear tracks Anchor, Plans, Lanterns

 

 

Cyrus

Think…Nadav Guedj and John Karayiannis, if they miraculously procreated

Who? Last month, 19-year-old Cyrus Villanueva was crowned winner of the X Factor Australia’s seventh season – thanks, I’m pretty sure, to my feverish, fangirl-induced voting in his favour. This dude can sing absolutely anything flawlessly, and that would certainly be beneficial to ranking highly in the jury voting at Eurovision. He’s multi-talented, playing the guitar and the piano (sadly, not at the same time); bounces between soulful ballads and silky-smooth r & b without batting an eyelid; and has all the charisma required to create a connection with a big crowd. If X Factor judge Guy Sebastian puts in a good word for him, who knows – we could be seeing him hit the stage in Stockholm. Fun fact: Cyrus’ debut single Stone was co-written by Bobby Andonov, who represented Macedonia in Junior Eurovision 2008. IT’S A SIGN!

Must-hear tracks Stone, and his X Factor performances of Wicked Game and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

 

 

Delta Goodrem

Think…Sophia Nizharadze, Sanna Nielsen, Polina Gagarina

Who? I’ve always referred to her as Australia’s Sanna, and that’s precisely why I’m dying to see Delta ooze her overwhelming goddess-ness in the Globen. She’s been a superstar since the early 2000s, playing Nina Tucker on Neighbours before carving out a piano-pop career for herself and winning more ARIAs (which are basically the Aussie Grammys, in case you didn’t know) than anyone could fit in a standard display cabinet. She’s currently a coach on The Voice Australia, and also sat in one of the red spinny chairs on The Voice Kids – on which Bella Paige finished second. We know My Girls, partly penned by Delta, went to Sofia with Bella, so the logical next step is for Delts to step up and demand to go to Sweden, right? If she did there what she does best – perch behind a piano looking stunning and belting out a heartfelt/powerful ballad – Down Under could be dangerous.

Must-hear tracks Wings, Believe Again, Dancing With A Broken Heart 

 

 

Samantha Jade

Think…Nadine Beiler, Elhaida Dani

Who? In case you didn’t know, I’m a reality TV tragic – so, surprise surprise, here’s another X Factor winner who I think would be the business on the Eurovision stage. Samantha was mentored all the way into winning position on the show in 2012 by none other than Guy Sebastian (again, and who could also give her some valuable tips on winning over Europe) and she has reigned supreme as our premier pop princess (Kylie Minogue, in the World of Jaz, is the queen, not the princess…albeit a rather overrated queen *gasp*) ever since. I’m pretty convinced she attended the Ani Lorak Academy of Singing and Dancing Simultaneously and Excelling At Both Without Breaking A Single Bead of Sweat at some point, and she can put on a serious SHOW. Sam’s got power and playfulness, and that’s a great combo for an ESC audience to get from an artist.

Must-hear tracks Shake That, Firestarter, Sweet Talk 

 

 

Troye Sivan

Think…a toned-down, chilled-out Loïc Nottet

Who? 20-year-old Troye is another muso who’s practically my next-door neighbour (meaning I could drive to his house without running out of petrol if I knew his exact address and was a complete creep) and he is SHRN to the max, having just dropped his first full-length album Blue Neighbourhood (which I think even Tanja would agree is amaziiiing). He sang and acted as a kid, but he’s best known for his Youtube videos, which have amassed him a tiny THREE MILLION subscribers to date. His sound is dreamy, electro, slick and unique, and I’d love to see someone so relevant and on fleek (I’m talking about a Youtuber…I had to use that terminology) yet so interesting represent Australia, in the wake of the pro-alternative Belgian and Latvian successes of 2015.

Must-hear tracks Wild, Happy Little Pill, Fools

 

 

+ Bonus Pick: Jessica Mauboy

Think…Hannah Mancini, Zlata Ognevich

Who? I have to mention J.Maubz because it JUST MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. After her appearance in an alfoil dress on the Copenhagen stage, it might actually have made too much sense to send her to Vienna. But now that more time has passed, and another Eurovision has taken place since we last saw her attend one in any capacity, sending Jess would be a very sensible decision. Maybe this time she could wear a dress made out of baking paper (Croatia already did the bin bag thing four years ago, and plastic wrap probably isn’t suitable for family television)? Whatever it’s yay or nay to that idea, she’d be a top-notch ambassador for Australia on a global stage – and with a song that suits her vocal range better than Sea of Flags, she’d blow us all away.

Must-hear tracks This Ain’t Love, Can I Get A Moment?, Never Be The Same 

 

 

And, with that cheeky mention of the Maubster, I’m done…for now. I’m constantly finding ideal reps for Australia – and plenty of other countries – popping into my head when I’m supposed to be concentrating on non-ESC stuff, so there might be a part deux coming to you in the near future. I can say for sure that I’m currently putting together a top 10 featuring ten (SAY WHAT?!?) random Aussie songs from the past and present that I’d love to have seen and heard on the Eurovision stage, if a) Australia had been allowed to participate pre-2015, and b) SBS made me their first port of call when looking for entry inspiration. So, if you enjoyed this post, you might like that one too *she hopes*.

I’ll be back next week with a Time-Warp Tuesday, but before that, I’d love you to donate a click to the poll below. Which of my five six picks for Australia to send to Stockholm do YOU think is the best fit for the job?

 

Now you’ve done that, it’d be plain wrong if you didn’t fill me in on your personal picks for Australia – or anywhere else, if that’s easier – to send to the contest in May. What are you waiting for, Christmas?

Fair enough…it is only a week away!

 

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EBJ’s Top 10…Swedish entries of all time (The Top Five!)

Happy Weekend, and välkommen to the second installment of my Scandi-centric countdown. I’m thinking of this as a gift to you, on what happens to be my birthday (hello there, shameless cry for celebratory wishes). It may not be a quality gift in your opinion, but if it is something you’re keen to unwrap, don’t worry about getting me anything in return (although, a sizeable cheque and/or a new car wouldn’t go astray if you’re feeling generous).

Anyway…let’s get back to Eurovision, and get on with the countdown. My top five Swedish ESC entries EVER *insert dramatic music here* are waiting for your judgment, and I’ll be waiting for your personal top fives in the comments. Don’t leave me hanging, guys – not on my birthday!

FYI, here’s a recap of the list so far:

  • #10 – En Gång I Stockholm by Monica Zetterlund (1963)
  • #9 – Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015)
  • #8 – Den Vilda by One More Time (1996)
  • #7 – Euphoria by Loreen (2012)
  • #6 – Främling by Carola (1983)

Now, är du redo?

 

#5 | 1998

Kärleken Är by Jill Johnson

I’m kick-starting the top five with some kärleken – specifically, Kärleken Är, a painfully 90s (not a bad thing), super pretty ballad. Jill Johnson was and is more of a country singer than a pop singer, but quite literally changed her tune for Melfest/Eurovision purposes (in other words, she pulled a Taylor Swift, but in a less drastic manner). Her performance in Birmingham was the last to feature a shred of the Swedish language until 2012 (when Finland sent När Jag Blundar) and her song was penned in response to the death of Princess Diana the previous year. The latter makes it lyrically beautiful and sad at the same time, but despite the sadness (and Jill’s funeral-esque stage garb) ‘uplifting’ is another adjective you could use here. Kärleken Är is a fond tribute rather than a morbid three-minute moan, and that gets my tick of approval. I love the lyrics, the melody, Jill’s voice…all in all, this forces me to feel all the good feels.

 

#4| 2013

You by Robin Stjernberg

You’ve got to root for an underdog, right? Robin’s been on my radar since he lost the 2011 Swedish Idol crown by a barely-there percentage of the vote, so I was pretty excited by and invested in his Melfest entry two years later. Then, when he became the first Andra Chansen competitor to go on and win Melfest, ‘pretty excited’ was eclipsed by ‘out of my mind with ecstasy’. What an awesome host entry Mr. Stjernberg/Fwernber gave us! I was obsessed with You back in the Malmö days, and I’m still bowing down to its greatness – and the majesty of Robin’s vocal range – today, as we look forward to another Sverige-style ESC. You isn’t what some might call a ‘typical Eurovision song’ (repetitiveness aside), and that made it distinctive. It’s another uplifting tribute to a special someone, and I think we can all identify with the titular you-ou-ou-oooo-ou. Adding to the pros of the package was the fact that Robin sung the pants off it, to the soundtrack of a noisily supportive home crowd. And dammit, he deserved some noise. You was an amazing, refreshing alternative to clinical Scandipop (not that I don’t love clinical Scandipop. I really do).

 

#3| 2010

This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl

It’s hard to believe there was a time when Sweden didn’t advance to a Eurovision final – but there was, and that time was just five years ago. Anna Bergendahl’s semi stumble was three things: one, shocking; two, devastating (mostly for Anna herself, and probably Christer Björkman) and three, narrow (Sweden finished five points behind Cyprus’ Jon Lilygreen and his Islanders). Despite a slightly shaky performance that did give off rehearsal rather than real-thing vibes in moments, I believe This Is My Life should have nabbed a place in the 2010 final (though not necessarily at the expense of Life Looks Better In Spring). The song is a stunner, with Anna’s husky vocals providing a nice contrast to her princess tiara and prom dress on stage. My only problem with it is performance-related, though it’s less of a problem than it is a mind-boggling mystery: WHERE DID THE GUITAR GO??? *hires private detective to end my five-year stretch of suffering*.

 

#2| 1995

Se På Mig by Jan Johansen

Sweden definitely went through a ‘less is more’ phase in the 1990s. You could argue that it was impossible to make a performance too ostentatious in a time before 100-metre long Russian LED backdrops and such, and you wouldn’t be wrong – but Jan’s Se På Mig, like Den Vilda after it, was simplistic in comparison to a lot of its competitors. On stage, it was just Jan, his patent leather jacket, a strategically-placed line of backing singers, some soothing dappled lighting, and one heck of a beautiful song. The kind of beautiful song that Anmary went on about in Baku: one that everybody hums, and everybody loves. I repeat, EVERYBODY. Seriously, if you’re anti-Se På Mig, what’s up with your distaste for sentimental, melodically stunning man-ballads? It ain’t normal, my friend. The magic of this song speaks for itself, so I’m going to shut up now and let it.

 

#1 | 2014

Undo by Sanna Nielsen

I’m well aware that my decision to slot Sanna into first place will make many of you want to Undo your subscriptions to this blog (and if you’re not subscribed, why not? It’s a constant Eurovision party over here!). But, before you throw whatever device you’re reading this on out the window and run screaming from the room, hear me out. Sweden’s 2014 entry being my all-time fave is not just a product of the song quality, but also of its significance being a song by an artist who I’ve loved for years, and who had tried time and time again to represent her country without success. I watched Sanna powerhouse her way through Melfest with this magnificent ballad (in an unflattering jumpsuit, but that’s irrelevant) and win over Ace Wilder by a measly margin, and I was so happy for her I cried a little bit. And that wasn’t the last time she had me reaching for the tissues – my floodgates fairly flew open when she performed in Copenhagen’s first semi last May. Girl was pitch-perfect, hit me right in the heart with her vocal and facial arrows of emotion, and looked like a goddess in a much more flattering outfit than her Melfest getup. Undo gave Sanna 180 seconds to do nothing but impress with her vocals, but it impresses me in other areas too. It has light and shade, strength and vulnerability, and an unforgettable hook (memorable = a two-syllable word that becomes a five-syllable one). Douze for the song, douze for Sanna, douze for a performance that kept the focus on her crystal-clear vocals, and douze for the whole thing being my #1 Swedish entry of all time.

 

For now, at least. Who knows what Sweden could do to me in 2016?

 

That’s a wrap on this drawn-out Top 10, and the list is complete (until I change my mind in five minutes). Here’s what it looks like right this second, though:

  1. Undo by Sanna Nielsen (2014)
  2. Se På Mig by Jan Johansen (1995)
  3. This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (2010)
  4. You by Robin Stjernberg (2013)
  5. Kärleken Är by Jill Johnson (1998)
  6. Främling by Carola (1983)
  7. Euphoria by Loreen (2012)
  8. Den Vilda by One More Time (1996)
  9. Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015)
  10. En Gång I Stockholm by Monica Zetterlund (1963)

Oh, and here’s the fantastisk stuff that just didn’t make the final cut…Waterloo by ABBA (1974); Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley by Herrerys (1984); Fångad Av En Stormvind by Carola (1991); Las Vegas by Martin Stenmarck (2005); Popular by Eric Saade (2011). So now you can’t abuse me for completely, 110% blanking ABBA.

Now it’s your turn. Let me know down below which of Sweden’s 55 entries have most tickled your fancy, and tested the endurance of your flag-waving arm! You know you want to…

 

2015sig