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SELECTION SEASON 2019 | A seriously super Saturday (with a little something on a Sunday)

Knock knock, who’s there? It’s Saturday again, duh!

When you’re living for the weekends like I do during national final season, it’s a blessing for this day of the week to come around so quickly. And boy, does it have a lot to love on this occasion. Here’s everything happening tonight: 

  • Croatia Dora, final
  • Estonia Eesti Laul, final
  • Hungary A Dal, semi final 2
  • Iceland Söngvakeppnin, semi final 2
  • Latvia Supernova, final
  • Lithuania Eurovizijos Atranka, semi final 2
  • Portugal Festival da Canção, semi final 1
  • Slovenia EMA, final
  • Sweden Melodifestivalen, semi final 3
  • Ukraine Vidbir, semi final 2

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Is that all?’. But don’t worry, tomorrow night we also have:

  • Romania Selecția Națională, final

Do the math on this list of NFs, and you’ll find that Saturday + Sunday = FIVE more songs for Tel Aviv. And isn’t it about time? We’ve waited long enough to get into double digits.

I’m not about to preview/predict all of the above NF action, since I don’t want to send you (or myself) to sleep. I will make a quick wishlist for the countries I won’t be covering though, so listen up universe: Croatia can give me Brutalero or Redemption, Estonia Storm, Latvia Somebody’s Got My Lover or Fire, and Slovenia Kaos. Oh, and if Portugal could send Calema through as well as Conan (so I can figure out what the heck I actually think of Telemóveis) that’d be awesome.

Now, if you want to chat in-depth about Hungary, Sweden and Romania, you came to the right place.

 

 

It’s the second last Saturday of A Dal decision-making, after last week’s first semi final saw Acoustic Planet, Bence Vavra, The Middletonz (WOOHOO!) and Petruska (smaller woohoo!) make the final cut. Obviously there’s another hurdle for them to jump over in the final itself – making the all-important top four from which 100% televote will determine the winner – but qualifying to next weekend’s showdown is what everyone wants to do, and those guys have done it. Now there’s just four spots left for the taking, and nine acts after them. Let the (probably heartbreaking) battle begin!

  • Kedves Világ! Timi Antal feat. Gergő Demko
  • Kulcs Fatal Error
  • Egyszer Mocsok 1 Kölykök
  • A Remény Hídjai Nomad
  • Hozzád Bújnék Gergő Oláh
  • Az Én Apám Joci Pápai
  • Holnap Bogi Nagy
  • Forró Ruby Harlem
  • Madár, Repülj! Gergő Szekér

You guys know how obsessed I am with A Dal this year, and though I’ve lost some favourites along the way (JUSTICE FOR VILÁGÍTÓTORONY!) a few more are still in the running and competing in this semi. On the other hand, some of my least favourites are here too, and I’m hoping they’ll be among the sacrificial songs of the night.

Let’s start with the good stuff and work our way through to what will actually happen in Hungary this week, IMO.

My top four In random order, Hozzád Bújnék, Az Én Apám, Holnap and Madár, Repülj! Gergő Oláh is a perennial top pick of mine, and although Hozzád Bújnék is no Győz a Jó, it is a ballistic missile of a ballad that he – pardon my French in advance – sings the shit out of. My beloved Joci is back with a bang (well, more of a gentle tap on the door, but it’s beautiful and impactful nonetheless) and all the raw emotion required to sell such a unique ethno-ballad. Bogi is also armed with a gentle ballad, and the crystal-clear fragility of her voice takes it to another level (though the melody is worth mentioning too). As for Gergő No. 2, which is nothing like Mambo No. 5…well, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Madár, Repülj! at first, but I LOVE it now. It’s distinctive and dramatic without being throwback or an ultra cutting-edge track, and that makes it interesting.

My prediction Given that we know the results of all the heats and semis so far – an A Dal tradition that I enjoy and dislike at the same time – it makes guessing tonight’s final four qualifiers easier. There are five heat winners in this semi alone, however, with some acts having tied FTW. And in the case of Joci and Bogi, who finished equal 1st in the third heat, you cannot separate them – they both scored the same from the jury and from the public. I’m going to give Joci the edge based on his previous history though (and I better not be jinxing him by doing so). Fatal Error stormed to victory in their heat (somehow) so I’d say they were safe finalists…not that they’ve had to compete against any of tonight’s other acts until now. I’m also thinking that Gergő Oláh and Gergő Szekér have a good chance of advancing, since they also tied for the win in their heat. If there’s a wildcard who makes it out of this semi, I think it will be Bogi in place of Gergő Oláh (heaven forbid) or Joci (heaven forbid even more). But I’m locking in my final four as follows: Fatal Error, Gergő Oláh, Gergő Szekér and Joci Pápai. There’s a whole lot of testosterone there and I am not mad about it.

 

Who would you put money on to make it through to the A Dal final?

 

 

How can we be onto the THIRD Melfest semi already? Granted, the second one was a blur for me since I was busy attending Australia Decides at the time (check out my Aussie NF diary here if you haven’t yet) but I’m still shocked. Maybe it’s because – and I hate to say this – the 2019 comp has been a bit of a non-event, at least in terms of the entries (the hosts/interval acts have been fantastisk). Nothing has jumped out at me so far and screamed ‘Winner!’ of Melfest, let alone of Eurovision. Will that change this week with these seven songs?

  1. Somebody Wants Lovers of Valdaro
  2. Habibi Dolly Style
  3. Låt Skiten Brinna Martin Stenmarck
  4. Victorious Lina Hedlund
  5. Om Om Och Om Igen Omar
  6. Who I Am Rebecka Karlsson
  7. Norrsken Jon Henrik Fjällgren

Based on snippets, no, that’s not going to change. I’m not saying I hate everything on offer here, but there’s a thread of ‘good but not great’ running through the entire line-up that worries me. And yes, I’m even referring to the much-anticipated Norrsken when I say that. But I’ll give this not-quite-magnificent seven the chance to win me over with cracking live performances.

My top four Somebody Wants, Habibi, Om Om Och Om Igen and Who I Am. The Lovers of Valdaro (feat. the guy who wore the heels in Moldova’s Eurovision 2018 performance) are the wildcards from Svensktoppen Nästa, and though I doubt they’ll outdo SMILO’s record of 5th place in a semi (being the highest finish for a Svensktoppen-chosen act), I am digging the beat and production of their song – it should make a great show opener. Habibi is my guilty pleasure and honestly, has the only chorus I could remember after I first listened to the snippets. I like the deviation from bubblegum pop to a more exotic Middle Eastern flavour for Sweden’s version of The Sugababes (because they change members so often, HA HA HA).

Is It just me, or is that Kim Kardashian in the pink wig?

Omar definitely has the better song of the FO & O boys competing this year (RIP Oscar Enestad from the running) even if it is a mixed-language copycat of Side To Side/In My Cabana/Woman Like Me. Pop music is derivative, that’s just how the cookie crumbles – and I can’t wait to hear this spiced-up version all the way through. Who I Am rounds out my favourites list based on everything but the lyrics, which are so clichéd I have a hard time excusing it. Still, the power-pop style of the song and Rebecka’s vocal abilities are enough to keep me rooting for her.

My prediction This is a hard one. Last week proved that anything is possible and that the odds are not always correct (in a good way – go Malou!) so I’m not even going to use them as a guide for my guesses. I do happen to know that Jon Henrik is sitting pretty at the top and is as guaranteed of a place in the final as one can be, so NO-BRAINER ALERT. I believe in Rebecka’s potential to also go straight to Friends Arena, or to Andra Chansen at least. Dolly Style are in the mix after winning the audience poll, but I can’t imagine – especially after seeing a shot of their staging – that they’ll place in the top two. For me the last spot is for either Omar (hopefully) or more likely Lina based on her pedigree and the Jessica Andersson effect. Victorious ain’t no Party Voice, but it’s just what you’d expect from one third of Alcazar and that might well be enough. To sum up, I think it’s Jon Henrik Fjällgren/Rebecka Karlsson DTF, and Dolly Style/Lina Hedlund to  AC. But feel free to surprise me (again) Sweden.

 

Which acts will go where in this Melfest deltävling? Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

 

Disclaimer: Normally I’d just be discussing Saturday night here, but Romania has inconveniently scheduled their final on a Sunday again (Ester Peony pun not intended, but a declaration of love for her song is coincidentally coming up) and I’ve got to talk about it. In amongst the 12 finalists there is a lot of cookie cutter music, but there’s also a handful of songs so good that I couldn’t stay quiet. Place your bets.

  1. Renegades Linda Teodosiu
  2. Right Now Olivier Kaye
  3. Dear Father Laura Bretan
  4. Skyscraper Teodora Dinu
  5. We Are The Ones Claudiu Mirea
  6. Your Journey Aldo Blaga
  7. On A Sunday Ester Peony
  8. Daina Letiția Moisescu and Sensibil Balkan
  9. Army of Love Bella Santiago
  10. Destin Trooper
  11. Without You (Sin Ti) Dya & Lucian Colareza
  12. Underground Vaida

Selecția Națională isn’t usually one of my go-to NFs, and for those of you who do adore it, sorry – I haven’t suddenly become its number one fan. But like I said, a few SN 2019 songs have caught my attention based on their potential to do very well at Eurovision, and/or how jaw-dropping it was to find them in the Romanian selection to start with.

My favourites Dear Father, On A Sunday, Daina and Army of Love. Laura Bretan is a pocket rocket with form on America’s Got Talent, and watching her semi performance of Dear Father had me shook. There’s something special in this song, and it has great build. Of all my top picks it is my least loved, but it’s the most likely to kick butt on behalf of Romania in Tel Aviv. My most-loved in this line-up is On A Sunday, which is like a musical love child of Ann Sophie’s Black Smoke and Alannah Myles’ Black Velvet. It turns out those are good genes to combine. It’s a song so slick and moody, I can’t believe it’s not competing somewhere in Scandinavia. Ester is flawless live and I wish she was more of a contender.

Daina is Romania doing what I miss Romania doing. They could have sent it to Eurovision in 2005, 2011 or 2018 and it wouldn’t have made a difference (not to me, anyway). Will they send it in 2019? Not a chance, but it’s a killer – not filler – addition to the final. Speaking of which…where there’s smoke there’s Fuego, and Bella’s Army of Love is such a Fuego soundalike that the smoke is stinging my eyes. My ears are all for it though, because it is a banger! Empowering lyrics, ethnic instrumentals and a rap verse in Tagalog make for a rip-off I’d welcome into this year’s ESC family with open arms.

My prediction As much as I’d like to believe there are multiple contenders for this NF, I think the winner has already been signed, sealed and delivered straight through the window she’s shattered with one of her sky-high operatic notes. I mean Laura, of course. Personally I’d prefer Bella, but when I watch Laura’s performance there’s more than one point where I think ‘This is unbeatable.’ The song might not be the greatest to my tastes, but she makes it great and gives me goosebumps in the process. I said this about Kate Miller-Heidke last weekend and I’ll say it again now: If this girl doesn’t win I’ll be flabbergasted. If she does, I’ll be grateful that Australia isn’t in the same semi as Romania.

 

 

Whew…aren’t you glad I drew the line at discussing three countries? I’m done now, so if you have any thoughts or predictions for tonight that you need to get off your chest, my comments box is empty and waiting for you to throw stuff into it.

Who’s going to win? Who’s going to get knocked out? Will there be curveballs or will the bookies’ favourites follow through? Wherever it’s happening and whatever your opinion is, I’m ready to hear about it. My response will be more polite if you agree with me though…

See you on the other side of this super Saturday/fun-sized Sunday!

 

 

 

 

MY 400th POST feat. two Scandi finals and a bunch of first impressions!!!

Yes, you read that correctly. I am as shocked as you are to find that I’m still going after five and a half years, and now, FOUR HUNDRED posts. That’s like, a hundred times four (I haven’t done any maths since 2008, so excuse me for being uncertain).

I guess you really can talk about Eurovision endlessly if you have the inclination. Sorry to everyone who thought I’d get bored and shut up before I even reached the big 1-0-0.

With lots of other stuff to chat about today, I’m not going to go on and on about this milestone. I just want to say thanks to anyone who’s read any of my 399 previous ramblings and is about to read this one. You’re (partly) why I keep blogging.

I’ll let a picture (which I hear is worth a thousand words) do the rest of the talking.
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Wait…I did also want to warn you that I plan to be celebrating my 800th post in another five-and-a-half-years’ time. Run for cover, people!

Let’s get on with the show/s.

 

First thoughts on the songs of the last seven days

  • Armenia: There’s been big buildup re: Don’t Deny, as week by week Geneaology’s band members were announced and we all wondered how the song would compare to Six4One’s If We All Give A Little. Now we have all six singers, plus one song that makes me go ‘hmm…’. At the moment, the best part of this package for me is having an Arshakyan sister back in Eurovision. Jan jan!
  • Austria: Last night, The Makemakes won themselves the honour of repping Austria on home soil with I Am Yours. It was always going to be difficult for our hosts to follow up Conchita, and sadly – as competent, pleasant and well-sung as this piano ballad is – if it wasn’t an automatic finalist, I think it would be staying behind in the semis. The memorability factor, as with a bunch of 2015 entries, is low.
  • Belgium: The only way was up for Belgium after the creepfest they sent to Copenhagen. Even with that in mind, I am very impressed with Loïc Nottet’s Rhythm Inside. 2015 is shaping up to be a year of ballads VS atypical ESC entries, and this definitely falls into the latter category. It’s catchy and a bit off the wall, and Loïc’s voice – unsurprisingly, given his turn on The Voice Belgique – is great. With vocal backup being provided by a member of Witloof Bay, the live won’t be a disappointment.
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I don’t think the Eurovision camera equipment will respond well to a stage presentation this moist. Then again, Jedward pulled it off…

  • Czech Republic: I guess Hope Never Dies will be the fawned-over song that I can’t get on board with this year. I find it dated and depressing, which means it’ll probably win.
  • Israel: I was dying to hear Golden Boy, knowing that Nadav’s r & b stylings would ensure it wouldn’t be a ballad. It’s not, and it’s the most ethno-pop offering on the table so far. There are some questionable lyrics and a segment that sounds exactly like the pre-chorus of Ed Sheeran’s Sing (shh, don’t tell anyone!) but for the most part, it’s everything I was hoping for. And I STILL cannot believe Nadav’s only sixteen. What has he been eating for breakfast?
  • Poland: Well, the boobs have officially been retired for Eurovision 2015, and it’s kind of a shame. Monika Kuzynska will be using her voice rather than her lady lumps to win us over via In The Name of Love. It’s yet another ballad, and although it is pretty and pleasant to listen to, it will have a tough time standing out.
  • Portugal: Oh look, it’s nice ballad #975! This won’t have a hard time qualifying at all!
  • Romania: Voltaj were my favourites heading into Selecţia Naţională…meaning De La Capăt was the only Romanian song I’d listened to and enjoyed at that point. This has been a big hit in their homeland, and as a fan, I can see (or hear) why. It has the authenticity and character that Paula & Ovi’s Miracle completely lacked.
Voltaj-de-la-capat

‘Look! No stupid round pianos in sight!’

  • United Kingdom: The first time I listened to Still In Love With You, I actually facepalmed. The second time, I found myself tapping my toes. As a result, I’M SO CONFUSED! I’m yet to give it a third spin to see what reaction that brings, but I think I kind of like it. The scat part makes me want to cut my ears off, but I reckon I could come to boogie on down to the rest. BRB, just popping out to hire a flapper outfit and sign up for some Charleston lessons.

Now (I’m back with my fringed mini-dress and dance registration slip, BTW) let’s talk some songs which, for a few more hours, all have the chance of joining the prestigious Eurovision 60 Club – some with better odds than others. That would be the finalists from Norway and Sweden.

 

Cinderella, a monster like me and a well-cooked pizza: God kveld, NMGP!

Whatever else you might have to say on the topic of Norway, you can’t accuse their 2015 national final of lacking in variety, or quality in comparison to 2014.

Melodi Grand Prix has a much more consistent standard to its name this year, with the majority of the eleven entries being more than listenable (which is a compliment). Of course, there are the obligatory musical nightmares that should never have been let out of 1985, but things wouldn’t be quite the same without them. What would we have to complain about if the likes of Elisabeth Andreassen and Tor Endresen hadn’t provided us with 100% vintage cheese?

MGP-2015-All-the-participants

Which of these pretty faces will follow in Carl Espen’s footsteps?

Tor & Bettan will perform third tonight, and this is who they’re sandwiched between:

  1. Thunderstruck by Erlend Bratland
  2. Louder by Raylee
  3. All Over The World by Tor & Bettan
  4. Next To You by Jenny Langlo
  5. We Don’t Worry by Ira Konstantinidis
  6. Heaven by Contrazt
  7. Ta Meg Tilbake by Marie Klåpbakken
  8. En Godt Stekt Pizza by Staysman & Lazz
  9. A Monster Like Me by Mørland & Debrah Scarlett
  10. Cinderella by Alexandra Joner
  11. Human Beings by Karin Park

My top five:

#1 | A Monster Like Me: I know, I know…Eurovision 2015 is drowning in a sea of ballads. I’ve only mentioned it 100 times in this post alone. But this is a ballad I actually WANT in the contest (unlike quite a few of the existing ones). There is something spine-tingling about the melody, the lyrics and the way Mørland and Debrah’s voices intermingle. In two words (despite the fact I’ve already used many words): hauntingly beautiful.

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If they win, I hope they look a little happier than this.

#2 | Human Beings: This is pretty much what I expected from Karin ‘I Feed You My Love’ Park, and it rocks. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I do think it’s lacking the MGP-winning gene, but it’s unique and edgy, just like Karin herself.

#3 | Next To You: Again, this is missing whatever rings the ‘WINNER!’ bell in my brain. Still, I really like it. It’s contemporary with a well-produced Scandi sound, and somehow manages to be soaring and melancholic at the same time.

#4 | En Godt Stekt Pizza: This is a well-cooked pizza that smells like a very guilty pleasure. Staysman & Lazz have produced the trashy love child of Timber by Kesha and Woki Mit Deim Popo (a description Staysman seemed to appreciate when I tweeted it recently) and I’m ashamed to say I get a kick out of it. Yee-haw!

#5 | Cinderella: Aaaand enter the obligatory MGP r & b number that floats my boat. I highly doubt Alexandra will win, but I don’t doubt she’ll re-energise the audience as the penultimate performer.

 
So, who is in contention for the win? Worst case scenario, Contrazt AND Tor & Bettan. Don’t do it, Norway!

If I had to put money down, I’d put it down on Erlend, Staysman & Lazz, Mørland & Debrah and Karin – with the chance of Jenny subbing in for the Norwegian Trackshittaz.

Narrowing it down even further – Mørland & Debrah’s Monster has been calling out to me as ‘The One’ since the MGP entries were released. I do worry that it’s similar enough to Silent Storm for Norway to be looking for something different to represent them in 2015, in which case Karin, or Erlend – with his stadium pop that I don’t really “get” – could take the prize. But, as many ballads and he/she duets we already have booking flights to Austria, I can’t help wanting one more to succeed Carl Espen. A Monster Like Me FTW, or else!*

 

* ‘Else’ = me getting my sadface on, good and proper.

 

Melfest wraps up in Sweden with a super-sized finale

I can’t believe five weeks of Melodifestivalen have gone by already. Nor can I believe I’ve gotten up at 3am every Sunday morning for the last five weeks to watch the prelim rounds. #totallyworthit. But we do still have the biggest and best installment to look forward to, plus what is sure to be an interesting round of point-giving. Though don’t expect the scores to be as close as they were between Ace Wilder and Sanna Nielsen twelve months ago…

Speaking of twelve, that’s the number of competitors in tonight’s grand finale, after Linus Svenning, Hasse Andersson, Dinah Nah and Samir & Viktor qualified from Andra Chansen last weekend, joining the eight direkt qualifiers. Here they all are, in recap and running order form:

  1. Groupie by Samir & Viktor
  2. Building It Up by JTR
  3. Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah
  4. Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren
  5. Can’t Hurt Me Now by Jessica Andersson
  6. Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw
  7. Forever Starts Today by Linus Svenning
  8. Don’t Stop by Isa
  9. Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson
  10. Sting by Eric Saade
  11. Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette
  12. Guld Och Gröna Skogar by Hasse Andersson

It’s an unusual running order by SVT standards, but you can find plenty of discussion on that subject elsewhere on the net (and it’ll make more sense than anything I could come up with). I’m going to leap straight in to my personal preferences and predictions.

My top five:

#1 | Heroes: A lá Melfest 2014, one of the favourites is also my favourite. On this occasion, it has nothing to do with how insanely attractive I find Måns, and everything to do with how excellent his song and staging are. Okay, that’s a lie. But I really do love the song.

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‘YES! I told you I could work these leather pants!’

#2 | Make Me (La La La): I was only too happy to bid Dolly Style farewell last week in favour of Miss Nah (not her real surname, though I wish it was). I love the costumes and choreography of this performance, and the song is a club dream with the perfect amount of 90s infusion.

#3 | Jag Är Fri: I couldn’t be less Sami, but there’s something about Jon’s joiking that I connect with on an emotional level. Throw in a Lion King-esque sound and an ethnic outfit and I’m sold.

#4 | Building It Up: I HAVE TO, GUYS. They’re Australia-associated! And you know I’m a sucker for boy band muzak. I genuinely enjoy this song, and if you’d seen JTR on the Aussie X Factor a few years ago, you’d know how much they’ve stepped up.

#5 | Groupie: I ALSO HAVE TO, GUYS. Groupie’s nothing on Samir & Viktor’s smash hit Success (despite the fact that it’s virtually the same song) but since the duo knocked my top Melfest ’15 song out of the race in Andra Chansen, I’ve decided to support them.

 
Getting on to who’s going to end up where on le scoreboard…well, every man and his schlager-loving dog have made their full, twelve-song prediction, so I think I’d better do the same. At risk of ending up dying of embarrassment.

  1. Måns Zelmerlöw – in a year where Eric Saade tried way too hard, the victory is Måns’ for the taking. If the song doesn’t do it, that adorable little cone-hat man will.
  2. Jon Henrik Fjällgren – the international juries will drag him out of winning contention, but don’t underestimate Sweden’s affection for JHF.
  3. Eric Saade – I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he ends the night lower than this.
  4. Mariette
  5. Isa
  6. Dinah Nah – I’m tipping Dinah as the AC success of the year.
  7. Magnus Carlsson
  8. Jessica Andersson – Now we’re at the final stage, Can’t Hurt Me Now will come across blander than ever.
  9. Samir & Viktor
  10. Linus Svenning – There’s something missing here. People won’t connect with this like they did with Bröder.
  11. Hasse
  12. JTR – Anything BUT last will be a win for the boys, but with the cute guy vote already split multiple ways, they will struggle to charm their way out of the 10th-12th place region.

What do you reckon? Am I right or am I a moron with all the foresight of an Ikea meatball? Hit me with your tips for Sweden down below.

If you’re tuning in to Melfest, I hope to see you on Twitter where we can discuss the science of Hasse Andersson’s appeal in his homeland, among other things. We’ll also be able to console each other when the show’s over. I have a box of tissues and a tub of ice cream at the ready!

 

As the big 4-0 comes closer, what’s left?

Not a whole lot. But the good news – or bad news, if you’re as impatient as I am – is that selection season is not ending on the EBU-ordered submission date of Monday the 16th. Montenegro has put paid to that. After tonight, there are no more national finals on the calendar (nooooooooo) but here’s what we can expect.

Sunday March 15th
Albania (Elhaida Dani’s I’m Alive reveal)
Azerbaijan (internal selection…probably of Elnur Huseynov)
Russia (Polina Gagarina’s A Million Voices reveal)

Monday March 16th
Australia (Guy Sebastian’s song reveal)
San Marino (Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola’s song reveal)

Tuesday March 17th
Montenegro (Knez’s Adio reveal)

And that’s it, ladies and gents. Shall we cry now or cry later?

 

Let’s cry later. I’d rather revel in the glory of posting my 400th FREAKING POST, and I’m sure you’d rather join me.

*awkward silence*

Fine. A party for one it is.

 
Enjoy your weekend, peeps!

 

nsig