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Spotlight on…Iceland

It’s nearly February, so naturally we’re about to experience our first mad weekend of national finals. Among the 1, 784, 322 events taking place on Saturday is the final of Söngvakeppnin 2013 – a.k.a. the decision show for Iceland – and whilst that isn’t the most exciting thing on the agenda (I have to hand that gong to the first semi of Melodifestivalen) I felt it was only appropriate to remind y’all of Iceland’s Eurovision history, before they add another stat to it. With a massive amount of luck, the song they choose this year will be absolutely amazing and pave the way for Reykjavik 2014. I for one am desperate to see the contest there in my lifetime.

Anyway, it’s time to switch the spotlight on *metaphorical switchy noise*

 

ICELAND: THE STATS

iceland

Debut

1986 – 16th with Gleðibankinn by Icy

Entries

25

Wins

0

Silver medals

2 – 1999, 2009

Bronze medals

0

Best result

2nd – 1999, 2009

Top 10 finishes

5/25

Top 10 success rate

20%

Top 5 finishes

3/25

Top 5 success rate

12%

Wooden spoons (last places!)

1 – 1989

Semi final qualifications

5/8

Qualification success rate

62.5%

 

 

MY PICKS

My favourite entry

Is It True by Yohanna (2009). This was perfection, so long as we’re talking about everything but Yohanna’s dress (which looked like haphazardly stitched-together dishrags garnished with raggedy pom-poms). The song is one of my favourite ESC ballads ever, her voice was/is incredible, and the fantastical backdrop used the frigging massive LED screens of the stage to full, atmospheric advantage. That note (you know, THAT note) gives me chills every time.

My least favourite entry

Tell Me! by August & Telma (2000). Okay, A & T, I’ll tell you – your song is rubbish. Iceland has had some amazing entries over the years, but it’s like they lifted this one straight out of the Book of Eurovision Unoriginality. It’s just…nothing. At least Israel’s entry was so bad it was entertaining. PS – the English lyrics are dreadful.

More of the memorable

Það Sem Enginn Sér by Daníel (1989) – I do not understand how this not only came last, but scored a big fat zero too. I love this song! Sure, his outfit wasn’t great, but this was the 80s, and I don’t think anyone had the right to discriminate against someone else for their “fashion” choices.

Minn Hinsti Dans by Paul Oscar (1997) – another fan recently reminded me of this one. The song’s catchy, but the most striking thing about it is the staging. I bet you’d never seen a Eurovision participant sitting on a couch and suggestively stroking their own thighs before this (or if you had, I bet it wasn’t onstage…).

All Out of Luck by Selma (1999) – having a rubbish day? Listen to this and I promise you’ll be feeling better within seconds. I can’t say the same for Selma’s other entry, but it’s best we just don’t go there.

Congratulations by Silvia Night (2006) – if we’re talking Iceland and stuff that’s memorable, Miss Night has to be included. Her performance was like Britney Spears in drag and on crack.

This Is My Life by Euroband (2008) – I was surprised this didn’t do better in the final. Still, it got there, unlike a certain other TIML.

Coming Home by Sjonni’s Friends (2011) – the sad story behind Sjonni’s friends and not Sjonni himself going to Düsseldorf overshadowed how good the song really was. The Icelandic version, as always, is the best.

Their best stage show

This Is My Life. It was the choreography that made the performance pop. I especially like the “reveal” of Regina when she appears to sing her verse, and the little combination right before the money note.

Their best costume/s

Selma (2005). Okay, so we are ‘going there’ after all, but not to dissect the song, so it’s okay. I’m a woman of simple tastes – I like burnt orange, I like the MJ one-glove  look, and I like sparkly things – particularly when you can hot glue gun them to your head. So it’s no wonder I’m a fan of the playsuit and accessories worn by returnee Selma in Kyiv.

Their best vocalist/s

Yohanna, without a doubt. I think I may actually be in love with her voice, and if I could marry it, I would. And before you say anything, yes, I know that’s creepy.

 

As I said, I’m hanging out for an Icelandic Eurovision, and since I haven’t listened to any of the potential entries for 2013 (not even Birgitta’s – that’s taken serious restraint) I haven’t given up hope. The fact that Yohanna is now out of the race doesn’t bother me, as much as I love her, because I did listen to her song and it’s safe to say she’s gone downhill since her runner-up Is It True? and her last NF song Nótt. But I guess we’ll always remember her as one of those who nearly nabbed the victory for Iceland (had it not been for a few hundred points, Oslo 2010 wouldn’t have been). Anyway, whatever wins this weekend would have to be absolutely shocking to be the worst thing Iceland has sent, so I’m staying positive.

Please don’t tell me if I shouldn’t bother.

 

You know the drill – let me know what you think about Iceland in the ESC!

 

Selection Season Day 4: Three songs and a Swedish semi

ME: It’s Saturday again?

YOU: Yes…it tends to come around every seven days or so.

ME: Very funny. Did you know sarcasm is the lowest form of humour? I think you…

YOU: Just get on with the darn post, woman!  

Alright. You didn’t have to be so rude. Anyway, it is Saturday again, and this time it’s an evening of three finals. That means three more songs to add to the slowly but surely growing list for 2012. Plus, it’s semi time in Sweden, which as you may know is one of my favourite topics of conversation. So let us converse!

 

I(celand) am Hungary for another song…

You may be disappointed or relieved to discover that I have virtually nothing to say about the Icelandic and Hungarian finals. Having listened religiously to all the songs from every NF so far, I decided to leave these two unheard so the winning songs are a total surprise – something I plan to do a few more times during the season.

My ears were exposed to one song from Iceland by Greta Salomé & Jonsi (man candy of Eurovision ’04) which was rather interesting, and with another before-seen artist in the mix (Regina from Euroband) I reckon something good should come from the country. Let’s hope there’s no horrible-but-all-consuming sob story detracting from the entry this time around.

And let’s all cross our fingers for Hungary to produce another qualifier while we’re at it.

 

Norsk MGP comes to a close

This is the first year I’ve followed NMGP with as much devotion as Melodifestivalen, and I’m glad I did because Norway produced a lot of songs that add to the bank of gems that didn’t make the ESC. Of course, there is one song still to make the ESC, but only one…and it’s something from down below:

  1. Stay by Tooji
  2. High on Love by Reidun Sæther
  3. Sailors by Lise Karlsnes
  4. Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
  5. Crush by Malin
  6. Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri
  7. Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors
  8. Things Change by Peter Øien & Bobby Bare
  9. Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
  10. Make It Better by Tommy Fredvang

My picks: For some reason Norway didn’t tailor their qualifiers 100% to my taste (???). If they had, I’d be commanding you all to root for Rikke Normann’s Shapeshifter (you will regret leaving that behind, Norwegians!). MGP 2012 has produced a decent final line-up however, and my picks of the bunch are Stay, Crush, Somewhere Beautiful and Sammen…although High on Love and Make It Better aren’t far behind. The song that would win the whole thing in a place called Jaz’s Perfect World – a.k.a. if I could decide on behalf of an entire country – is Stay, which I think could do wonders at Eurovision despite the Saade Effect. Or maybe because of the Saade Effect? There’s something to ponder, if you are very, very bored.

Rikke's dancers were as shocked by her failure to qualify as I was

My prediction: Usually – not ALWAYS, but usually – it’s one of the songs that won a semi that wins the final of a selection process. If that’s the case, Norway’s representative in Baku will be Plumbo, Nora, or (heaven forbid – how did they get to the final?) Peter & Bobby. I’m definitely feeling in my gut a victory ahead for Plumbo or Nora, but if not, then it’ll be Reidun. I don’t know how you’re feeling about this final, but for me, if the winner is not The Carburetors/Peter & Bobby I will be pleased. The odds are in my favour – how are they looking for you?

 

Melodifestivalen: Volume II

Listening to the semi final songs for MF is always my Saturday night highlight. Semi #2 is especially exciting due to a certain genetically blessed blonde quartet (it’s Timoteij, in case you weren’t sure) who plucked/strummed/fiddled their way into many a fan’s heart in Melodifestivalen 2010 with Kom. Will they better the 5th place they got back then or will it be a shock early exit? We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime here’s their competition – tonight’s line-up:

  1. Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
  2. Baby Doll by Top Cats
  3. I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén
  4. Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt
  5. Stormande Hav by Timoteij
  6. Shout It Out by David Lindgren
  7. Det Går För Långsamt by Mimi Oh
  8. Ge Aldrig Upp by Thomas Di Leva

My picks: Soldiers, Aldrig Aldrig, Stormande Hav and Det Går För Långsamt.

Ulrik is going to be hard to beat. Combine his vocal talents with this catchy track and a face that could melt even Jon Ola Sand’s heart (is he genuinely of Eurovision age? He could easily pass as a primary-schooler) and you’ve got a package that practically screams ‘straight to the final’. I’ll be thrilled if Soldiers gets there because it’s better than I expected. Not ground-breaking, but going somewhere.

Ulrik has a mug of warm milk before naptime at the nursery...just kidding!

Aldrig Aldrig is a song that could do with a harder punch in the chorus, but I’m still liking it because it has just the right amount of schlager and dance.

I may be into Stormande Hav because I adore everything Timoteij have ever recorded, but I realise it’s no Kom and was never going to be, so when I say I love it I mean it. The folk-pop combo works every time when these girls get their hands/vocal chords on it, and apparently it’s a magic formula that can handle a sprinkling of dance beat. Bravo.

Det Går För Långsamt is another song with a chorus not as good as the verses promise, but I personally am not too fussed. It’s enjoyable and catchy, which is what I expect from Melodifestivalen entries for the most part.

My prediction: It’s a tough one to predict, but who says I have to be right? Thankfully nobody, or else I’d be in trouble. I’m going to say that Ulrik and Timoteij will get the golden tickets to the final, with Sonja and Andreas moving on to Andra Chansen.

 

That’s that. Apart from a semi final in Lithuania (I apologise for my lack of will to cover that as well) what you’ve just read is all the action that will take place around Europe tonight. Join me on Twitter, Facebook and pretty much everywhere else in the online universe tomorrow so we can discuss, dissect and possibly trash the fresh entries…and so much more.

 

Jaz x

 

Eurovision Challenge: Day 5

Favourite song from a solo singer

Almost there:

Solo by Alsou (Russia 2000)

Tell Me Who You Are by Malene Mortensen (Denmark 2002)

Heaven by Jónsi (Iceland 2004)

Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006 – technically a band, but as their name is the lead singer’s stage name, and he is practically the only original member, I’m classing their entry as one from a soloist. Plus, wait ’til you see how long my group/band favourites list is…)

Never Let You Go by Dima Bilan (Russia 2006)

This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)

 

But my favourite is:

Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)

There aren’t many songs that still give me goosebumps on the 150, 094th listen (just an estimate). That’s how I know that this is The One! Three minutes of perfection.