Hej och välkommen to my 500th post! I’m not kidding – there’s no crappy attempts at clickbait from me (this time). I’d say something like ‘Who would’ve thought there was that much Eurovision-related stuff in existence to be written about by someone who aspires to but has no hope of reaching the popularity status of WiwiBloggs?’…but we all know there’s enough discussable Eurovision-related stuff to last a lifetime. Especially when there’s another ESC, JESC and NF season for both every year.
In summary, there’s a 99.9% chance that I’ll be composing Post No. 1000 in about eight years’ time. Hopefully it has a less boring intro than this one.
Anyway, I know we’re in the midst of the 2017 national final season right now (with the German final taking place on Thursday and an action-packed weekend creeping closer), but I thought this milestone of a massive amount of ESC ramblings needed to be acknowledged. And, as my numero uno NF Melodifestivalen started on Saturday – the final of which I’m attending this year and that’s SO EXCITING I SIMPLY MUST USE CAPS LOCK – I’m going to celebrate Melfest-style. Someone hand me my rhinestone-spangled catsuit!
Basically, there’s a fun tag that’s been floating around Facebook lately (at least, in my feed) and it’s as simple as this: you name your favourite Melfest entry for each year that you’ve followed the comp. I thought I’d choose mine according to all the Melfests that have happened while I’ve been (apparently) busy blogging 499 times – 2010-2016. Then I realised that’s the exact period I’ve been following the show for anyway. It’s fate. So here we go…a.k.a. NU KÖR VI!!!
PS – As this is a tag, I tag each and every one of you reading this to list your favourite Melfest songs from your years of keeping tabs on the five-week extravaganza. Even if you just joined the party in 2016, let me know which entry was your most-loved last year.
2010 | You’re Out Of My Life by Darin
The first Melfest to take place after the birth of Eurovision By Jaz (a birth that was not only painless but actually enjoyable, no drugs required) was fantastisk. Well, the final was – I have to admit, there were some questionable entries in the semis. But damn, Sweden, THAT FINAL! Even so, I can narrow the field down to my personal favourite song faster than most Ukrainian men can run on giant hamster wheels. The hugely successful runner-up of Idol 2004, Darin is my most beloved Swedish soloist in the history of Swedish soloists, and his one and only (to date *crosses fingers*) Melfest entry was the pinnacle of pop balladry in my opinion. If the music doesn’t move you, then check out the wind machine usage, which nearly moved the man himself off the stage and into the wings at supersonic speed. Sadly, it didn’t blow Anna Bergendahl, Salem al Fakir and Eric Saade away and out of the running.
Andra Chansen Kom by Timoteij
2011 | My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen
I’m going to break some bad news to you right now by saying that *SPOILER ALERT* this is the only time Loreen will appear on this list. Who knows – her 2017 Melfest entry Statements might end up in a Top 10 of mine in the future, but for now, it’s all about Loreen Vol. I. The first time we saw her compete, she made it into Andra Chansen but not out of it (I know…crazy, right?!?). The dance-pop dream with a hint of disco that is My Heart Is Refusing Me, though, was a winner in so many ways: from the catchiness, explosive chorus and overall cool factor to Loreen’s weirdly wonderful red top (I have been trawling op-shops in the hope of finding something similar ever since, and may eventually resort to feeding a plain red sweater into a document shredder). Because this track is more complex and unpredictable than Euphoria, I ever-so-slightly prefer it – and it’s far and away my favourite song served up to us by Melodifestivalen 2011.
Andra Chansen Popular by Eric Saade
2012 | Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky
It’s a good question. Why should you start a fire? I guess if you’re out in the wilderness and will freeze to death if you don’t rub some sticks together and get a flame going, then it’s probably a smart idea. But I’ll leave the extenuating circumstances of fire-starting at that, since they have nothing to do with my unconditional love for this song. Lisa, whose songwriting credits include boss-as-a-Billy-bookcase hits for herself and the likes of the Backstreet Boys (we have her to thank for Shape of My Heart), had a tough task topping the ten finalists of Melfest 2012. She ended up finishing second last – which wasn’t that shocking – but I for one think Why Start A Fire? is stunning. A mystical synth riff gives way to lush layers of music and vocals that, when they’ve run their course, make you (and by ‘you’, I mean ‘me) feel relaxed and re-energised – rather than exhausted, because you’ve just listened to something loud and watched a performance with more gimmicks than Sanna Nielsen has filled out Melfest application forms.
Andra Chansen Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
2013 | You by Robin Stjernberg
At last – the first Melfest year of my blogging career in which my number one competing song went on to win the whole thing! Against all the odds, too. Robin’s NF story is the ultimate underdog tale of a ridiculously good singer who entered what was a pretty weak edition of Sweden’s crowning TV glory (as they were hosting Eurovision in 2013, however, they can be forgiven for not trying too hard to produce an epic host entry). He didn’t manage to go direkt, instead ending up in Andra Chansen and making most of us count him out FTW. Then he did win, making him the first non-direct finalist in the existence of the AC round to do so. And he did it with an awesome, heartfelt pop anthem with one heck of a hook (you-ooh-ooh-ooooooooohhh, in case you were wondering). You also boasts a money note that, when Robin belted it out on the Malmö Arena stage, was powerful enough to produce a pyro curtain. I assume it was his vocal strength that did it, rather than your average pyrotechnics consultant backstage somewhere. Don’t burst my bubble.
Andra Chansen Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar
2014 | Undo by Sanna Nielsen
Speaking of your one true NF love taking the trophy home (along with an ‘Admit One’ ticket to Eurovision) – it happened to me for the second year running in 2014. Undo marked Sanna’s seventh Melfest participation, following mixed results for her in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011. It didn’t take seven of anything to have me hooked though. So much so that, despite having been Team Empty Room when it came to Sanna’s best entry, it wasn’t long before I’d bumped her ’08 runner-up down to the runner-up position on my list (my mental list…I don’t have a physical paper Sanna ranking). Undo, for me personally, is peak pop power ballad perfection. The soft vulnerability of the first verse, the break between the second and last chorus and the finish contrast goosebumpingly (I hereby decree that a proper word even though Spellcheck wasn’t a fan) with the simple but powerful choruses – and Miss Nielsen nailed every note, every time. This may not be a popular opinion, but I definitely think she won Melodifestivalen with her strongest submission. Nothing else would have scored her a bronze medal at Eurovision – not even Empty Room.
Andra Chansen Survivor by Helena Paparizou
2015 | Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw
It was third time lucky for MZW at Melfest, and the third year in a row that the results went my way. Can anyone really argue that Heroes shouldn’t have won the NF when it went on to win Eurovision? That’s a rhetorical question, so don’t try to start something in the comments. The song itself was worthy of winning both contests as far as I’m concerned, being the Avicii-inspired anthem with a karaoke dream chorus that it is. But you can’t mention Heroes and not talk about the visuals that elevated it from great to even greater (and I’m not referring to Måns’ muscles and THOSE LEATHER TROUSERS). We all fell in love with the original stick man – who turned out not to be so original in the end, so he got a bit fatter and wore a different hat for the ESC. We followed his journey from being downtrodden and dragged away by a balloon to having the privilege of fist-bumping his older, flesh-and-blood self (who had swapped overalls for THOSE LEATHER TROUSERS). And that, plus the slick lighting scheme and choreography, made Heroes a flawlessly-packaged entry that ticked every box, both in Melfest and at Eurovision. I love it just as much now as I did two years ago (!).
Andra Chansen Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone
2016 | Human by Oscar Zia
These days, with 28 songs competing in Melfest each year, I’m bound to like or love at least 25 of them (Swedish songwriters just know how to float my boat). So did I like or love If I Were Sorry? Yes. Was it my ideal winner/host entry for Sweden in Stockholm? No, to tell you the truth. My votes – if I’d been able to cast any – would have gone straight to Oscar Zia, who started out in the show as a backing vocalist, returned a year later on his own, then made a massive comeback – having come out of the closet and evolved stylistically and hair-stylistically – with Human. You know I love (most) modern power ballads, but when a modern power ballad comes equipped with edge and a moody atmosphere like this one, someone’s going to have to haul me up off the floor where I have swooned. As with Måns, what we saw was just as important as what we heard when Oscar had his technically-third try for the Melfest trophy. Storm clouds and intense, quick camera cuts made the performance memorable without the need for an entire supermarket aisle’s worth of bells and whistles. The whole thing was so magical, it annoys me beyond belief that there’s no watchable video of it accessible in Australia (as far as I can tell). So enjoy – or not – the lyric video I stuck here. Closing your eyes and just listening is still an epic experience, after all.
Andra Chansen Constellation Prize by Robin Bengtsson
Whew – think yourselves lucky that I didn’t discover Melodifestivalen in 1991 (I was too busy being a baby). As it stands, my waffling on is…well, off, so it’s time for you to list your own favourites. Which Swedish songs have you cheered for the most over the years? Is there ANYTHING we agree on, or is it true that one person’s treasure is another’s trash? I want answers, people!
Until next time (the upcoming NF-antastic weekend)…
For those of us who place Melodifestivalen up on a pedestal, right next to Eurovision (because we believe it to be equally as epic) today was practically Christmas.
For today was the day we all received 28 gifts of varying shapes and sizes, in the form of the artists competing in the national final of dreams in February/March 2017. I was particularly keen to unwrap these gifts given I’m actually attending Melfest for the first time next year (!!!) and will have the chance to see twelve of the artists in the flesh come finalen…and then have some press charges in the wake of me inappropriately touching them.
Anyway, after months of rumours that ran right up to the start of this morning’s press conference – hosted by the adorable David Lindgren sans Clara Henry and Hasse Andersson – we now know exactly who will and who won’t be popping up in the four semi finals. Many confirmations of what we already knew were made; blanks were neatly filled in by returnees and newbies alike; and one of the biggest bombshells in Melfest artist-announcement history was dropped.
Let’s run through the entire list of participants and songs, and I’ll unload my initial thoughts and impressions along the way. I apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes, incorrect information or general incoherent rambling that you might encounter here. I’m both delirious with excitement and rushing to get this post up while it’s still relevant, so I’m not at the top of my game just nu.
Semi 1 | Göteborg
- Amare, Adrijana
- Her Kiss, Boris René
- Hold On, Nano
- Mitt Liv, Charlotte Perrelli
- One More Night, Dinah Nah
- Road Trip, De Vet Du
- Wild Child, Ace Wilder
We knew Adrijana, Charlotte Perrelli, De Vet Du and Ace Wilder were shoo-ins already, so the most pleasant surprises in this first roll-call – for me, at least – were Boris René and Dinah Nah.
Boris ended up being one of my favourites from this year’s comp, and I still can’t help dancing enthusiastically when Put Your Love On Me comes on shuffle (as well as shouting ‘IN A LITTERBOX’ loudly enough for my neighbours to hear and subsequently consider moving to Siberia). Suffice to say I can’t wait to discover what he has in store for us for his second shot.
Dinah Nah was heavily rumoured to return in 2016, but evidently she needed more time to find a track that might get her to the final again. I am very glad to see that her hair is still pink.
I know I should be peeing my pants with excitement about Ace Wilder, but to be honest, I wish she’d taken some more time away like Dinah did – I’m not sure I can handle her two years in a row. But I’ll reserve (most of) my judgments until we hear what she has to offer.
Apparently Charlotte Perrelli doesn’t want to win Melfest on this occasion, but has her reasons for giving it another go after The Girl failed to even make Andra Chansen in 2012. I’m guessing she won’t be disappointed if her aim is not to go to Eurovision for the third time.
I’m clueless re: Adrijana and Nano, so perhaps one of them will be the exotic stranger who has me head-over-heels for their entry (then sobbing into my specially-commissioned sequined Kleenex when it finishes last). It happens every year!
Semi 2 | Malmö
- A Million Years, Mariette
- Good Loovin’, Benjamin Ingrosso
- Hearts Align, Dismissed
- Himmel Och Hav, Roger Pontare
- I Don’t Give A, Lisa Ajax
- Up, Etzia
- Vart Haru Varit, Allyawan
The second semi will feature just as many big hitters as the first – such as Mariette (who took home the bronze medal in the Year of Måns), Roger Pontare (a Melfest and Eurovision veteran who last represented Sweden on home soil in 2000), and Lisa Ajax (the Idol winner who also won her semi this year over eventual runner-up Oscar Zia).
I can’t say I’m as excited – on names alone – for this round. But I am pretty keen to hear from the debutants. Benjamin Ingrosso, who comes from a family of serious musical heavyweights (Pernilla Wahlgren is his mother, for starters) is one I’ll definitely be watching. And listening to, obviously. Despite the totally unnecessary extra ‘o’ in his song title (#petpeeve).
Semi 3 | Växjö
- Boogieman Blues, Owe Thörnqvist
- Crucified, Bella & Filippa
- Gotta Thing, The Fooo Conspiracy
- Gravity, Jasmine Kara
- I Can’t Go On, Robin Bengtsson
- Kiss You Goodbye, Anton Hagman
- Snurra Min Jord, Krista Siegfrids
Again, the majority of artists competing in this semi were rumoured by the always reliable Aftonbladet. But that doesn’t make it any less awesome to have my main man Robin Bengtsson back in the mix after his success earlier in the year (when he beat Ace Wilder to win Deltävling 1). If he’s armed with a song that is anywhere near as superb as Constellation Prize, then we are in for a treat come week three. It’s highly likely, as I Can’t Go On was written by two of the three songwriters behind Sanna Nielsen’s Undo, plus my other fave Robin – Robin Stjernberg. *screams internally*.
At 87, Owe Thörnqvist will become the oldest Melfest competitor ever. That’s assuming he lives long enough (I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but he barely made it onto the press conference stage without faceplanting and breaking a hip). If he doesn’t fall off the perch within the next few months, I have a feeling he could be the Hasse Andersson of 2017 and be catapulted further in the comp than I’d prefer via an outpouring of affection from the Swedish public. Hasse Andersson, of course, is also the Hasse Andersson of 2017, seeing as he’s co-hosting the show.
I’ll be flag-waving for The Fooo Conspiracy (despite being about ten years past the average age of their fan demographic) because BOYBAND ALERT, and Jasmine Kara because…well, we Jasmins/Jasmines have to stick together. I reserve the right to retract these pledges of support should these acts’ songs be…well, crap.
I must mention the gorgeousness that is Krista Siegfrids. Our girl from Sweden via Finland has come back for another crack at securing a ticket to Friends Arena, singing again in Swedish (bad move? We’ll have to wait and see). No matter where her journey ends – Växjö, Kyiv, or anywhere in-between – she’s always fun to have around, and I suspect she’ll be hungrier for success this time. That means she should have a song up her stylish sleeve that’s a step up from the good-but-not-great Faller. Fingers crossed!
Semi 4 | Skellefteå
- As I Lay Me Down, Wiktoria
- Bound To Fall, Les Gordons
- Du Får Inte Ändra På Mig, Sara Varga and Juha Mulari
- En Värld Full Av Strider, Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia
- När Ingen Ser, Axel Schylström
- Running With Lions, Alice Svensson
- Statements, Loreen
Well, well, well. We know SVT like to save a name bigger than any found in the Welsh phone directory for the last semi final. But they not only outdid themselves on that front for 2017 – they also managed to keep it a secret to ensure that all of our jaws would end up on the floor.
Holy dala horses, Queen Loreen is back! With, I might add, the coolest of minimal song titles AND the songwriting dream team of Segerstad and the Debs joining her in the credits. Anyone who says they saw this coming is either a psychic or a liar (or both), and anyone who doesn’t think it will be a contender FTW needs to have their vital signs checked. It will be the toughest of tasks for Loreen to top Euphoria, but she could be the second coming of Johnny Logan that we’ve all been waiting for. Johnny Logan with a septum piercing.
Wiktoria is making an unsurprising return, but will she have wow-factor staging to elevate her entry this time? I’m interested to find out. Save Me wasn’t right up my street song-wise, so I’m hoping she’s changed things up and gone for a power ballad. The girl can SING, so she could easily handle a Céline Dion update (i.e. something like Isa’s I Will Wait).
Also reappearing in the lineup is Sara Varga, who made it in and out of Andra Chansen in 2011 with Spring För Livet, but she’s not alone. She’s also not alone in making a comeback in partnership with another artist, as Jon Henrik Fjällgren has done the same. The man who nearly put paid to MZW’s trip to Vienna is teaming up with Aninia (Google will tell you all you need to know about her, because I can’t) and I reckon the result will be original, to say the least. It’s such a relief that we’ll be able to say stuff like ‘Are you joiking?’ on Twitter again without people getting (too) annoyed.
Jon Henrik and Loreen aside, the name that most excites/intrigues me is Alice Svensson, another Idol alum who was beaten to the crown by Kevin Borg (he of Maltese national final fame). I’m basing this almost exclusively on the title of her song (that plus previous musical releases are all we have to go on at the moment) because is Running With Lions not totally badass? Both the act itself and the string of words, I mean. Bring it on!
Those are my initial thoughts on the 28 acts unveiled this morning – now it’s time for you to have your say. Are you happy with the peeps preparing to battle it out in Europe’s favourite national final? Which songs are you most excited to hear when the time comes? Do you think Loreen will walk it (or crab-dance it), given her history and supreme songwriting team? Whatever you’re thinking, put it in writing in the comments. The countdown to Melfest 2017 is officially on, guys, so let’s keep the conversation going!
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…
#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!
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.
#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!
Don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming. I bet even Corinna May saw this coming.
What? I’m allowed one insensitive joke a month, and that was September’s.
Anyway, here’s the deal: I love Sweden, you love Sweden (I assume…who doesn’t?), we all love Sweden – in some respect. If le love isn’t related to their fashion, furniture or food (oh hej there, meatballs with lingonberry jam on the side!) then it has to be for Sverige + Eurovision. I mean, even if Scandipop makes you want to pull a Van Gogh and you’d much rather treat your ears to some Balkan ballads or saucy Spanish salsa, you have to admire the Swedish attitude towards the ESC. Not to mention (though I am about to mention it) their dead-serious approach to competing in it, one that has seen them win the contest twice since 2012.
Overall – out of 55 participations – the hosts of Eurovision 2016 have added a trophy to their song contest cabinet six times, and have finished inside the top ten THIRTY-SEVEN times. That’s a whole lot of Eurovisual goodness right there, and I’m about to count down my favourites of the lot. Ja, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned top ten…Swedish-style.
But, because I’m a soap opera fan and therefore love a good cliffhanger (and because I’m trying not to overwhelm you guys with one momentous post after another) I’m going to reveal my top ten Swedish ESC entries like, ever, in two separate posts. Today, I’m counting down my 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th and 6th-favourite songs, so if you want to find out which ones made it into the top five, you’ll have to stay tuned to EBJ. Sorry.
Also, since I’m yet to attain psychic abilities, I’d love you to hit me up with your personal favourite Swedish entries in the comments (but feel free to keep me waiting for your #1 like I’m making you wait for mine).
If you need a reminder of what you’re choosing from, then check this out:
And now, let the countdown begin. Tre, två, ett, go!
#10 | 1963
En Gång I Stockholm by Monica Zetterlund
I mentioned this entry in a previous post, not long after Sanna Nielsen performed it “alongside” Monica as part of her Melodifestivalen hosting/entertaining duties this year. That duet was spellbinding, and I couldn’t help revisiting the original performance (once my spine-tingles had subsided) to remind myself how En Gång I Stockholm (Once In Stockholm) stood up sans Sanna – particularly given that, back in ’63, it had finished equal last. That, my friends, is a travesty. The song, minus Miss Nielsen, is still lovely. It may not be as hypnotic or mystique-packed as Denmark’s winner Dansevise (which I also adore) but it does have a) a wistful quality emphasised by Monica in her performance, and b) a melody that’s so soft and beautiful you could practically blow your nose on it. I’m often an advocate for songs that exit Eurovision in last place, so naturally, this one’s a standout of the 1963 contest för mig.
#9 | 2015
Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw
YES, I’M GOING THERE. In case you weren’t aware that I’m mad about Måns, and that I couldn’t be happier that the Eurovision circus is heading back to Sweden so soon, well…become aware now. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Heroes is a great song, and no, it’s not a David Guetta rip-off (an homage, perhaps, but a carbon copy? Puh-lease). It checks a ton of boxes on my list of epic ESC entry criteria: it’s catchy, contemporary and energetic; it successfully fuses together two different musical genres; it builds to a climax worth waiting for; the lyrics don’t put my gag reflex to the test; and it’s karaoke-friendly. What more could one want? Well, apart from a mind-blowing staging concept that puts all the competition to shame. Oh wait – Heroes had that too! Aurally and aesthetically, this entry is a prime example of Sweden’s ability to go above and beyond without breaking a sweat.
#8 | 1996
Den Vilda by One More Time
If songs that make you desperate to frolic in a lush forest with a myriad of woodland creatures are your thing, then I’m guessing you’re a fellow fan of this entry from ’96. If not, why not? This track is gorgeous and timeless. I can’t say the same about the power suit OMT’s Nanne donned for the show (Eurovision performance or marketing meeting? Who can tell the difference based on that outfit) but lack of flowing chiffon aside, Den Vilda as a package is pure, pared-back perfection. Though the verses sound very similar to the choruses, they don’t sound too similar, meaning you’re/I’m easily drawn in by the melody without suffering from any repetitive-itis. Everything (except the chiffon, because there isn’t any) just flows. This is a classic case of magnificent minimalism.
#7 | 2012
Euphoria by Loreen
If you want more evidence of Sweden’s ability to say N-O to O-T-T and still succeed, it’s right here. There’s no question why Loreen holds the record for the most sets of douze points received by a Eurovision winner. Euphoria was, is and always will be the bomb dot com. For me, it’s just as impressive now as it was when it topped the Melfest scoreboard three years ago (!), in terms of both sound and staging. The slick production, maximum-energy beat and infectious ‘up-up-up-up-up-uuuup’ hook are all as wonderful as Loreen’s crab scuttle*, and came together in a performance so uniquely staged, it was groundbreaking. This entry will forever be filed under ‘Unforgettable’ in the Eurovision archives, and perhaps replace ye olde Bucks Fizz skirt-rip in the ‘Eurovision in a nutshell!’ clip compilations trotted out by the media at every opportunity.
* CAN’T…RESIST…THE GIF…
#6 | 1983
Främling by Carola
Sixteen-year-old Carola is my favourite version of Carola (although I’m happy to be fångad in her invincible stormvind any time) and she was clearly living her best life on the Munich stage, with her bouffant hairdo and weird-ass shirt that seemed to have a Dalmatian-giraffe on it (what WAS that?). Her vocal chops have always been insanely good, as this performance of the dated-but-still-magical Främling proves. The song gave Carola chance after chance to sing her heart out, and she grabbed each and every one. She also got to do a bit of strutting, because that’s the logical move to make when one is commandeering such a funky, oh-so-80s pop song. STRUT, CAROLA, STRUUUUUUT! The ‘why’ of why Främling is a favourite of mine pretty much boils down to one word: catchy. Främling is freaking catchy! It gets stuck in my head on the reg, but I never get tired of it, since it’s so peppy and all. Here’s to that continuing for many years to come *clink*.
That’s the end of this chapter, Eurovisionaries (I did warn you I was going to leave you in the lurch). I’m still polishing – and possibly reordering – my top five Swedish contributions to our beloved song contest, so you’ll have to sit tight for a few days until all is revealed.
As I asked you so nicely in the intro, please leave me many, many comments feat. the what and why of your top-ranking ESC entries from Sweden…and/or make a guess as to which ones have squeezed into my top five. Guess correctly, and you win a big bag full of my admiration!
Until next time…
Välkommen to EBJ’s inaugural Melfest Monday, folks! This isn’t going to be an intro in which I explain what the deal is with these day-specific posts, because a) I did that already in my previous post, and b) I don’t want to waffle on for ten paragraphs before even arriving at the topic of today’s (for once).
So, that said, let’s dive straight into the depths of a Melodifestivalen past. I hope you’re equipped with a suitably spangled-and-feathered flotation device.
Where + when Luleå, 2011
What Try Again, written by Niklas Petterson and Linda Sonnvik and performed by Dilba
Melfest 2011 was the first edition of Sweden’s famed national final that I watched from a fan’s perspective. Although I’d been obsessing over Eurovision since 2006, I ever really explored the pre-ESC selection scene until 2009 or 2010 (call me cray-cray, but it’s the truth). I’d followed Melfest 2010 mainly because Darin Zanyar was participating in it (and Darin, as you’ll know by now if you read Vol. I of my Stockholm Suggestion Box, is my favourite pop star on the planet) – and it was then that I discovered Timoteij, a.k.a. the Swedish folk-pop Spice Girls; and Anna Bergendahl’s This Is My Life, which continues to be one of my all-time top Eurovision entries, and still has the power to moisten my eyes when I think about how it just missed out on qualifying in Oslo *holds back salty Swedish tears*.
The epic plethora of personalities competing in 2010 had me hooked, and the following year, things got serious. Yes, that’s right: I BOUGHT THE OFFICIAL MELFEST ALBUM FOR THE FIRST TIME, and that’s the song contest equivalent of asking your significant other to move in with you. It was an album worth paying exorbitant import fees for, with the 2011 program featuring eventual winner Eric Saade, runner-up Danny Saucedo, ESC champ-to-be Loreen, and Europe’s most persistent national finalist Sanna Nielsen.
Also competing, with the dance banger Try Again (which should have been Sanna’s theme song), was Turkish-born Dilba, who had released her first album back in 1996 when Eric Saade was still learning how to tie his shoelaces. That album had been a huge success, even scoring the singer a Grammy award (a Swedish Grammy, that is…still a big deal), and several other hit albums followed. So it’s not surprising that Dilba, on name alone, had reasonably-sized expectations resting on her shoulders coming into the competition. She was to open the first semi final in Luleå, and based on the snippet of the Try Again studio version we were treated to in the hours before the show kicked off, she had a great chance of progressing further.
But fast forward to the end of the evening, and Try Again was sitting un-pretty on the bottom of the semi’s scoreboard. With the competition fierce and the musical quality always high in Melfest, there’s rarely a year that passes without an injustice, and this was one of them. Dead last for a pro performer fielding an instant and energetic earworm?
Well, looking back on Dilba’s three minutes in 2015, I’m seeing ‘HOW?!?!?’ very clearly, actually. I suppose that at the time, I may have been too hyped up on my excitement over watching a Scandi pop fest at four in the morning to notice any flaws in her stage time. But now I understand that there was a big problem with this entry – the same one that’s proven too much to overcome for many a Eurovision song over the years.
That problem = the transition from studio to stage being too tricky to pull off. Aurally was where the performance suffered most. Replicating the slickly layered lyrics of the studio version live proved impossible for one woman, even with pre-recorded backup. The fact that Dilba’s microphone had apparently been dropped in the bath before showtime (that’s my explanation for it hardly functioning during the verses, anyway) didn’t help matters.
What we saw was an issue as well as what we heard. Though their outfits were cool in a NASA-meets-New-York-Fashion-Week kind of way, Dilba’s dancers were choreographed far too statically/robotically to complement Try Again. The energetic onstage movement required to match the song’s mood was absent, and as a result, the performance felt a little flat. If that reminds you of anything, it should might be Slovenia’s performance in Eurovision just gone. The made-for-radio Here For You took us all on a trip to Static City in May, but if we’d taken the ‘vision’ out of Eurovision 2015, Maraaya probably would have finished in the top five. Similarly, while Dilba trailed the pack in her semi (the semi won by Danny Saucedo), she would top the Swedish iTunes charts with Try Again in the wake of Melfest.
When I listen to my 2011 album, I never ever skip over this song – but, in retrospect, I can totally understand why it lost the Luleå semi. What should have hit televoters with a ‘BAM!’ ended up giving them a half-hearted shove and whispering ‘Vote for me, if you want to. No pressure’, in their ears.
That’s my opinion, anyway. I’m going to draw this mini-essay to a close by asking you for yours. Did Dilba deserve her disappointing result for failing to translate a terrific studio song to the stage? Or should she have at least made it to Andra Chansen so she could…well, Try Again?
3, 2, 1, thoughts!
I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t think us grown-ups get enough opportunities to do childish things, unless we happen to work in a daycare centre (which would be fine by me if there was no kids involved). So for all of you who, like me, spend too much time wishing it was socially acceptable for a twenty-something to finger paint, hula hoop and watch movies starring Hilary Duff, I’ve put together this thought-provoking, Baku-themed quiz…complete with FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS GAMES *insert squeals here*!
This isn’t the first quiz I’ve posted, but I’d like to think this is the hardest (even if it really isn’t). It’s more a test of your memory than anything else, so if you’ve watched the contest a few times over the past year and/or read my Flashbaku recap last week, you should do alright. Not that it matters if you don’t, since there’s nothing up for grabs and nobody will be there to see you succeed or fail. Winning.
So, the only “rules” are:
– All facts have been checked to the best of my ability, and all lyrics have been verified via the official 2012 fan book. If you do spot a mistake, feel free to pick me up on it, but be nice, because it’s nice to be nice to the nice.
– You can find the answers at the bottom of the post. If you decide to cheat, fine, but be warned: Dana International WILL hunt you down and make you walk up the main street of your town wearing her feathered Gaultier.
– Let me know how you did in the comments. I managed to get 100%, but I’m guessing being the person who came up with the Qs and As had something to do with that.
Without further ado, I want to know…
a) Macedonia’s Kaliopi failed to pass the pre-qualifying round of a previous ESC with her song Samo Ti. In which year did this take place?
b) What is the real name of Max Jason Mai from Slovakia?
c) What about Donny Montell from Lithuania?
d) Željko Joksimović took to the ESC stage for the second time as composer/artist in Baku. He represented Serbia; but how many other countries has Željko composed a Eurovision song for?
e) Eventual winner Loreen had attempted to represent Sweden in 2011 via Melodifestivalen. What was her entry called?
f) How old was Rona Nishliu when she stepped onstage last year – 25, 28 or 32?
g) Which TV talent show did Ott Lepland win in his home country in 2009?
h) Which member of Pernilla Karlsson’s family wrote her entry När Jag Blundar?
i) What did Buranovskiye Babushki want to do with any proceeds from entering Eurovision?
j) Elena Ionescu fronted Mandinga in Baku. Which past Romanian representative used to be the lead vocalist of the group?
k) Which 2012 artist was once a member of the Sunstroke Project, who represented Moldova in Oslo?
l) Jedward are not known for their conservative clothing. Which snack food did they dress up as during rehearsal week?
m) Who did Roman Lob beat in the Unser Star Für Baku final to win his ticket to Eurovision?
n) Which artist purposely performed without an earpiece during her semi-final?
Unscramble these artist names:
b) IRNA OHDKAZEJ
d) CAMPCOT SOCID
f) HAAPS FREAPNY
g) NCA MOONBO
Fill in the blanks of these titles:
a) N_ _ _ _ _ u _ _ _ _ t _ _ r
b) _ h _ _ _ d’_ _ _ _ _ _ _ B_ _ _e_
c) _ _ h_ (_ _ _ _ n _ _)
d) E_ r _ _ _ _ r_
e) _ _h_ _ _ i_i_ _
f) _ _ _ la
What is the first line of lyrics in each of these songs?
a) Beautiful Song by Anmary
b) The Social Network Song by Valentina Monetta
c) You And Me by Joan Franka
d) Euphoria by Loreen
e) L’amore é Femmina by Nina Zilli
f) When The Music Dies by Sabina Babayeva
g) Would You? by Iris
And which songs do these first lines belong to?
a) ‘You can do anything you want’
b) ‘The whole big world is just one place’
c) ‘I hear music as I walk down the street’
d) ‘When the day becomes the night, you know that I’ll think of you’
e) ‘So graceful and pure, a smile bathed in light’
f) ‘When the night is falling from the sky’
g) ‘She’s singing softly in the night’
h) ‘At the wedding tonight she looks nicer than the bride’
What do these titles translate to in English?
b) Korake Ti Znam
d) Quédate Conmigo
e) Crno I Belo
f) Vida Minha
THE SHOWS AND THE RESULTS
a) What are the full names of the three hosts?
b) Name the previous contest winners who supplied the interval act of semi 2 – in order of appearance.
c) Which country was the last to be announced as a qualifier in semi 1?
d) What about semi 2?
e) Which former Eurovision hostess could be seen in the green room on Thursday and Saturday nights, providing moral support for her husband?
f) How many lots of douze points did Loreen receive in the final?
Which countries did these props belong to?
a) A bench made of books
b) A laptop computer
c) Pole-dance poles
d) A water fountain
e) A pizza oven
a) Opened the first semi final?
b) Closed the first semi final?
c) Opened the second semi final?
d) Closed the second semi final?
e) Opened the final?
f) Closed the final?
g) Won the first semi final?
h) Lost the first semi final?
i) Won the second semi final?
j) Lost the second semi final?
k) Drew the dreaded slot 2 in the final?
You know who won (and lost) but do you remember, on the final scoreboard, which country came…
Congratulations (as Cliff Richard would say if he wasn’t currently in the toilet)! You’ve made it to le end of le quiz. Now it’s time to see how you did.
Random trivia: a) 1996 b) Miroslav Šmajda c) Donatas Montvydas d) 2, technically – Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia & Montenegro e) My Heart Is Refusing Me f) 25 g) Eesti Otsib Superstaari, or Estonian Idol h) Her brother i) Build a church in their village j) Elena Gheorghe k) Pasha Parfeny l) Popcorn m) Ornella de Santis n) Sofi Marinova
Unscramble: a) Trackshittaz b) Anri Jokhadze c) Sinplus d) Compact Disco e) Anmary f) Pasha Parfeny g) Can Bonomo h) Gaitana
Fill in the blanks: a) Nije Ljubav Stvar b) Should’ve Known Better c) Echo (You and I) d) Euro Neuro e) Aphrodisiac f) Kuula
First lines: a) ‘I was born in distant 1980’ b) ‘Are you ready for a little chat?’ c) ‘I was five, you were three, we were dancing in the street’ d) ‘Why, why can’t this moment last forever more?’ e) ‘Unbelievable, I can’t wait to go’ f) ‘You, you are my best friend’ g) ‘Come and find me, I’ve been hiding from you’
First line, which song: a) Unbreakable b) Sound of Our Hearts c) Stay d) Love Is Blind e) Love Will Set You Free f) We Are The Heroes g) Never Forget h) Laŭtar
Title translations: a) Personal b) I know your steps c) Listen d) Stay with me e) Black and white f) Life of mine g) I believe
The Shows and The Results
Random trivia: a) Leila Aliyeva, Nargiz Birk-Petersen and Eldar Gasimov b) Dima Bilan, Marija Šerifović, Alexander Rybak, Lena, Ell & Nikki c) Ireland d) Turkey e) Jovana Janković f) 18
Props: a) Cyprus b) San Marino c) Austria d) Ireland e) Russia
Which country: a) Montenegro b) Ireland c) Serbia d) Lithuania e) United Kingdom f) Moldova g) Russia h) Austria i) Sweden j) Slovakia k) Hungary
Final scoreboard: a) Azerbaijan b) Estonia c) Moldova d) Cyprus e) France f) Hungary
So, ladies and gents…how well DID you remember Baku??
Not that there’s anything shameful about having a lookalike. In fact, if I had one I’d be honoured. But apart from my nose bearing a slight resemblance to Roberto Bellarosa’s from the right (or wrong) angle, I’m yet to stumble upon my sister from another mister. So it’s lucky I can at least live vicariously through the doppelgangers that abound in the ESC.
Having kicked off my Flashbaku series last week (with a side-splitting recap of the 2012 contest which you simply MUST read if you missed it then…pretty please?) this particular exposé of long-lost twins is naturally centered on the 42 artists who competed in Azerbaijan. There are a few included here you may remember from previous posts, or just your own observations, but the rest are brand new. Give or take a few years and/or cosmetic procedures, and these resemblances are uncanny. Kind of.
Albania’s Rona Nishliu looks like animated Snow White’s Wicked Queen
I’ll admit, I didn’t notice this resemblance until the collective Twitterverse saw fit to point it out about 0.35 seconds after Rona had opened her mouth to sing (I guess I was distracted by that errant dreadlock). But there was definitely something about her unique look that screamed ‘villainous Disney bitch not only willing, but eager, to off you and eat your heart if you happen to be prettier than she is’.
Bosnia & Herzegovina’s MayaSar looks like Australian media personality Mia Freedman
Coincidentally (or maybe not?) Maya also settled on a witchy, evil queeny-type outfit for her Eurovision performance. But when the dangerously pointed shoulder pads are nowhere to be seen, I reckon she could play Mia’s sister in a heartwarming telemovie in which one of them can’t get pregnant and the other offers to be her surrogate. Just as an example.
Cyprus’ Ivi Adamou looks like American actress Liv Tyler
Here’s one you’ve seen before; but in my opinion, there are never enough occasions on which one can say how much Ivi and Liv look like they were separated at birth. Even their first names are similar. And Ivi being Steven Tyler’s secret daughter would explain where her musical genes came from.
Estonia’s Ott Lepland looks like UK singer and X Factor judge Gary Barlow
Matching suits, facial hair, intense browlines and brands of hair gel? What more proof do you need that these two share a resemblance? I bet a morning hasn’t gone by since Baku when Gary didn’t roll out of bed, go to the bathroom to brush his teeth, see his reflection in the mirror and think to himself, ‘My God, I look a little bit like Estonia’s own Ott Lepland!’.
Greece’s Eleftheria Eleftheriou looks like former ESC hostess Maria Menounos
There’s nothing better than an inter-ESC pair of lookalikes, and to top this one off, they’re both part Greek. Maria stood alongside/flirted with Sakis Rouvas as co-compere of the 2006 contest, and Eleftheria stood alongside/probably flirted with him when she participated in Greece’s X Factor a few years ago. So it’s not just appearances that these two have in common.
Hostess Leyla Aliyeva looks like Spanish actress Penelope Crúz
Let’s face it, the only difference between Leyla and Pene is that, to my knowledge, Leyla has never cavorted around on a pirate ship with Johnny Depp. Unfortunately for her. They clearly go to the same hairdresser and dress for formal events with funerals in mind.
Iceland’s Jónsi looks like Frankenstein’s monster
I never thought I’d be comparing the chiseled magnificence of Jónsi to something made up of multiple people’s body parts, but that monster of Dr. Frankenstein’s has got some serious cheekbones on him. The likeness doesn’t stop there, however – check out the mouth, and that intense brow (again with intense brows!) AND the stiff tailoring of the suits. Don’t worry Jónsi. If you were in fact stitched together by a crazed GP then he sure chose some good-lookin’ bits to work with.
Moldova’s Pasha Parfeny looks like Irish actor Colin Farrell
This pairing rivals Ivi and Liv’s (Livi’s?) as the most striking of 2012. I can’t even say for certain that Pasha and Colin aren’t one and the same, especially since Colin is a big fan of the ladies and Pasha appeared on stage with the entire female population of Moldova. We haven’t heard much from the Irishman lately…could that be because he’s been busy composing and playing piano for Aliona Moon?
Russia’s Buranovskiye Babushki look like this set of matryoshka dolls
I bet you didn’t see this coming. NOT. We’ve all thought it – does the teeniest Russian granny fit inside the next size up, and so on? Did they only take up one plane seat on their flight to Baku because of this? Maybe we’ll never know. The grannies are 100% as cute as these wooden creations though, and much more huggable.
Slovakia’s Max Jason Mai looks like US talk-show host Chelsea Handler
Since MJM is a guy in his twenties and Chelsea is an almost-forty-year-old woman, this is more a case of the possibility that she’s his mother than anything else. They both have trademark blonde locks, although I’d have to say that Max’s are more impressive. Chelsea does tend to wear more clothing on a regular basis, but apart from that, they could totally be related.
Sweden’s Loreen looks like Canadian model/actress Hannah Simone
Yeah, I know it’s the hair. I think we can all agree though, that there are a heck of a lot of people who look less like Loreen than Hannah does, and that’s got to count for something.
Switzerland’s Ivan Broggini looks like American actor Eric Mabius
I could have cheated and put the frontman of Sinplus next to a photo of his brother Gabriel, but I wanted to put in a bit more effort than that for you guys (plus, they don’t even look very similar). Strip away the differing hair and eye colour – as well as a whole bunch of other stuff – and you’ll see the similarities here. I hope…
Did any of these have you seeing double? Which doppelgangers did you spot in the class of 2012?
Can anybody believe it’s been almost a year since Baku?
I’m definitely having issues getting my head around it. One minute I’m all excited for the next installment of Eurovision amazingness – making stuff to wave over the three nights and contemplating baking a Swedish-themed layer cake to mark the occasion. The next, I’m having a panic attack about where the last 11 months have gone, and contemplating inventing a device to stop time instead of baking some stupid cake. It’s a little confusing. What is for certain is that Malmö is heading straight for us, whether we like it or not. Ultimately, that’s a very good thing!
Before the thirty-something days until the first semi are up, I figured it would make sense to go back in time (not literally…I haven’t invented a device for that yet) and remind everybody what went down in the Crystal Hall last May. I’m going to do this via a series of posts known as Flashbakus (see what I did there?) and this first episode is an overview of the Azerbaijani action made possible by Ell & Nikki…and Azerbaijan’s ability to do so well in the contest despite sometimes having an, ahem, average entry. So sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane feat. stats, facts and some of my personal highlights from the most easterly ESC of all time.
When 22nd, 24th and 26th May, 2012
Where Baku Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan
Motto ‘Light your fire!’
Broadcaster İctimai Television
Hosts Leyla Aliyeva, Eldar Gasimov & Nargiz Birk-Petersen
Returnees 1 – Montenegro
Withdrawals 2 – Armenia, Poland
SEMI FINAL 1
Interval act Natig Rhythm Group
– Albania: This was the first performance to give me goosebumps, which I really wasn’t expecting as I wasn’t a big Suus-aholic at that point. But you can never anticipate which entries will blow you away live, a la Ukraine 2010.
– Romania: Watching Mandinga’s tangerine queen Elena struggle as her earpiece failed her was both cringe-worthy and highly amusing. Fortunately, apart from a few timing issues she pulled off a decent vocal, so kudos to her for that. I also enjoyed the 2012 version of Epic Sax Guy – the Moonwalking Bagpiper.
– San Marino: Yes, I admit it. I enjoyed this performance more than I thought I would and more than I knew I should. It helped that Valentina could actually sing (and she’s getting the chance to showcase her voice in all seriousness this year) but really, anything would have been an improvement on the music video *shudder*.
– Cyprus: And I thought the Cypriots brought their A-game in Düsseldorf! Ivi and her gal pals totally outdid Greece in every department last year, which is not the norm. Costume, choreography, lighting and props all deserved…well, props.
– Russia: Oh, those grannies and their pizza oven! This was the act everyone was waiting for, and I for one was not disappointed. The BB gave us that promised party for everybody, as well as a midnight snack (the show had to be held later than usual thanks to Azerbaijan being über east, so thank you Russia for the sustenance).
– Ireland: I’d consider Jedward’s performance of Waterline relaxed compared to the ‘we’ve been living on red cordial for the last six months’ vibe of Lipstick. What I liked most was watching the twins’ perfectly primped hairdos be destroyed by the water fountain they carted across the continent with them. Although giving them a good scare by announcing them as the lucky last qualifiers was pretty priceless.
1. Russia 152
2. Albania 146
3. Romania 120
4. Greece 116
5. Moldova 100
6. Ireland 92
7. Cyprus 91
8. Iceland 75
9. Denmark 63
10. Hungary 52
– Greece made their ninth consecutive final, whilst Cyprus qualified from a semi for only the third time since 2004.
– Hungary qualified for the second year running, having returned to the contest in 2011 following several failed attempts.
– Switzerland, on 45, and Finland, on 41, missed out on qualifying by a Nishliu dreadlock.
– Austria lost the first semi, only getting 8 points’ worth of popos shaking.
SEMI FINAL 2
Interval act (A rather horrifying) winner’s medley
– Serbia: My beloved Željko back on an ESC stage once again? Of course that would be a personal highlight! His opening of the second semi with the atmospheric Balkan ballad (how unexpected) Nije Ljubav Stvar more than compensated for Montenegro’s, shall we say, unusual opener in the first.
– Macedonia: I kind of fell in love with Kaliopi during Eurovision week. Not only is she apparently the nicest person on Earth, but she’s a great performer too – as we saw on this Thursday night. It was a simple presentation from FYROM, but the lady rocked the house.
– Sweden: As is usual with Sweden, nothing had changed performance-wise since Melodifestivalen. Did anyone care? I don’t think so. The crowd was buzzing (with euphoria, perhaps?) as the lights went all laser on us before the camera closed in on Loreen, the woman of the moment. What followed was an act staged like no other in the history of forever/the contest.
– Turkey: They made a ship. Out of their COSTUMES. TWICE! Is that not one of the most amazing things that has ever happened?
– Estonia: Naturally I appreciated the opportunity to stare at my future husband for three whole minutes, while he sang his little heart out. Again, this performance was a simple one (with an exceptional selection of background images, I must say), all about the song and the emotion. And me drooling over my TV screen #pathetic.
– Lithuania: If there was ever a one-man show, its name is Donny Montell. Well, its stage name, anyway. The man sings, dances, wears blindfolds, plays air guitar, and does all of them brilliantly. Well, he doesn’t look entirely normal in a blindfold, but who does?
1. Sweden 181
2. Serbia 159
3. Lithuania 104
4. Estonia 100
5. Turkey 80
6. Bosnia & Herzegovina 77
7. Malta 70
8. Ukraine 64
9. Macedonia 53
10. Norway 45
– Sweden won the second semi for the second year running.
– Macedonia reached the final for the first time since 2007.
– Norway just squeezed into the top 10 ahead of Bulgaria, who also scored 45 points.
– Slovakia brought up the rear this time, suggesting that no amount of exposed flesh can guarantee one a good result.
THE GRAND FINAL
Opened United Kingdom
Interval act Emin, chewing gum and performing Never Enough
– France: The French gymnastics team figured Eurovision was as good a place as any to get in some Olympics practice, and I agree. John-Paul Gaultier decided that stapling an entire roll of chiffon to the back of Anggun’s leotard was better than a mere few metres, and I double agree. That costume + a decent wind machine = a match made in Eurovision heaven.
– Azerbaijan: I don’t think the last-minute addition of ethnicity was a good idea, but that dress – you know, that dress – certainly was. It was a clever “prop” that struck a balance between ‘not exciting enough’ and ‘so exciting I’m distracted’. It must have caught on, because I’ve seen it done a few times since.
– Spain: This was the performance of the final as far as I’m concerned. Pastora delivered a faultless vocal that genuinely made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck (I’m telling you, I looked like a hedgehog) and when she launched into her epic note and the artificial breeze kicked in, there were tears in my eyes.
- Sweden 372
- Russia 259
- Serbia 214
- Azerbaijan 150
- Albania 146
- Estonia 120
- Turkey 112
- Germany 110
- Italy 101
- Spain 97
- Moldova 81
- Romania 71
- Macedonia 71
- Lithuania 70
- Ukraine 65
- Cyprus 65
- Greece 64
- Bosnia & Herzegovina 55
- Ireland 46
- Iceland 46
- Malta 41
- France 21
- Denmark 21
- Hungary 19
- United Kingdom 12
- Norway 7
– Sweden’s was a record-breaking win: Loreen out-douzed Alexander Rybak in being ranked first by 18 countries. Rybak scored 16 sets of douze points. What a loser.
– The honour of twelve points did not come easily to the other 25 participants. Coming a very distant second to Sweden in those stakes was Albania, Azerbaijan and Serbia, all receiving four sets of douze.
– Three Big countries, as well as host country Azerbaijan, made the top 10. Germany’s 8th place was their third top 10 finish in a row; not bad for a country that had struggled not to come last in the years BL (Before Lena).
– Spain’s 10th place marked their first top 10 appearance since 2004, when they also came 10th. Pastora Soler scored ten more points than Ramón did in Istanbul.
– Albania secured their best result ever, and after failing to qualify in Oslo and a disappointing showing in Düsseldorf, Estonia was back on form in 6th place. Their previous Estonian-language entry had also finished 6th.
– Ukraine’s recent results have been impressive – 7th in 2006, 2nd in 2007 and 2008, 10th in 2010 and 4th in 2011. But last year’s 15th was proof that they’re not invincible (and possibly that Europe disliked Gaitana’s floral and fringe combo just as much as I did).
– The same goes for Greece, with 2012 being their first finish outside of the top 10 since 2003.
– The UK was the lowest ranked Big country, only outscoring Norway (and I’m still not over it). Sending a household name with a less than contemporary ballad did not pay off, but at least they’ve learnt from that mistake going in to Malmö. Oh wait…
I realise now that it may have taken you longer to read this recap than go back and watch both semis and the final again, but, hey, you could have given up if you wanted to. Now that I think of it, maybe you should go back and watch the show again if you need to, then let me know below what you loved, hated, and were shocked and surprised by in Baku. We all need the practice, since we’ll soon be doing the exact same thing for Eurovision 2013.
COMING UP: If you thought I couldn’t possibly find any more ESC lookalikes, you were wrong! The Flashbaku doppelgangers will have you seeing double. Then, my longest and most difficult quiz EVER rears its head, in an Azerbaijan-tastic test of your Eurovision 2012 knowledge.
Can you believe that Melodifestivalen, everyone’s favourite national final (‘everyone’ being a slight generalisation) is about to wrap up for another year on Saturday? For me that’s a double-edged Swarovski-encrusted sword: on one hand, it’s always sad when the mammoth Melfest ends, but on the other, this last installment is the first and only NF I will be getting up at 3am to watch, so I’m pretty excited. Even though I know – and you’ve heard me complain about this before – my stream will be rubbish. What’ll make the 2013 final really worth watching though is the fact that it’s a two, three or possibly even four horse race for the win, unlike in 2012 when the trophy had Loreen’s name engraved on it from the second she struck her final pose in semi 1. Here’s a reminder of the ten left standing:
- Tell The World I’m Here by Ulrik Munther
- Skyline by David Lindgren
- Falling by State of Drama
- Begging by Anton Ewald
- Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream by Louise Hoffsten
- Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar
- En Riktig Jävla Schlager by Ravaillacz
- Copacabanana by Sean Banan
- You by Robin Stjernberg
- Heartbreak Hotel by YOHIO
Wow, the ladies really need to step it up next year. Where’s the girl power? Although the lack of women does mean lots of eye candy. I mean, those dudes from Ravaillacz – whew!
Anyway, before we find out who will fly the home flag in May, I thought it would be nice to go back in time and celebrate the best of the Class of ’12. Well, my personal best, at least. So here is a list of my most-played…eh, you read the post title.
#1 | Why Start A Fire by Lisa Miskovsky
I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t expect much from lil ol’ Lisa, a stranger to me this time last year. Her Melfest 2012 entry was the second-to-last to be premiered, and at that point I thought I’d heard all the amazing-ness possible, excepting Danny Saucedo’s aptly titled Amazing (remember the olden days when MF was of a consistently high standard?). But I fell in love with it immediately, and was a teensy bit excited when it qualified to the final. I would describe it as ethereal, atmospheric guitar pop, if I was über pretentious. Otherwise, it’s just awesome guitar pop…although we never do find out why we should start a fire. For warmth? To burn all the physical copies of Josh Dubovie’s That Sounds Good To Me we can get our hands on? Why, Lisa, WHY?
#2 | Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson
#3 | Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
#4 | Pä Väg by Abalone Dots
#5 | The Boy Can Dance by Afro-dite
This was more or less the same song Afro-dite went to the ESC with in 2002, which by 2012 was sounding majorly dated. But just because something isn’t contemporary, and you know it’s never going to go anywhere in a million years (unless there’s a sudden resurgence of disco schlager) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. I actually like this a lot better than Never Let It Go.
#6 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt
#7 | Euphoria by Loreen
#8 | I Mina Drömmar by Maria BenHajji
#9 | Salt and Pepper by Marie Serneholt
#10 | I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén
Sonja gave my hands-down favourite performance of Melfest last year. This is a ballad that begged for a great vocal, floaty dress, dry ice and a machine-engineered breeze to blow her chiffon around. Not only did we get all of that, but we got a bleeding bridge as well! Bridges are not used half as often as they should be on musical competition stages. Sonja sang her figurative pants off and commanded the stage, never faltering or tripping when a long hemline and all that mist would have made it so easy.
#11 | Youngblood by Youngblood
#12 | Mirakel by Bjorn Ranelid feat. Sara Li
#13 | Amazing by Danny Saucedo
#14 | Shout It Out by David Lindgren
#15 | Mystery by Dead By April
I am very much an anti-fan of heavy metal, Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah being the one song of that genre that I can stand. My main peeve is the ‘death growling’, a.k.a. incessant screaming, which makes my throat and ears hurt just listening to it. That very same screaming was part of DBA’s non-heavy rock entry last year, but somehow I got past it, probably because the rest is such a contrast. All in all, I think Mystery is probably what would happen if Mr. Lordi did guest vocals on State of Drama’s 2013 entry.
#16 | Just A Little Bit by Love Generation
#17 | Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandén
#18 | Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan
He’s back this year with a very similar but not-quite-as-good chaotic dance track, is Sean Banan, and this time he’s wearing a diaper instead of fake body hair. I’ve always preferred fake hair myself. Say what you will about this hyperactive man-child – you can’t deny this song is an ear worm and a half. In fact, if you aren’t hearing it in your head right now there must be something wrong with you.
#19 | Stormande Hav by Timoteij
#20 | The Girl by Charlotte Perrelli
Back in ’08 it would have been more appropriate for Charlotte to sing a song called The Extra-Terrestrial, but nowadays she is looking fierce in the best kind of way. Last year in Malmö Arena, she pulled out all the stops (and 95% of the planet’s spike appliqué supply) for what turned out to be an unsuccessful comeback, but one that stuck in my mind. The Girl took a step back from the straight-up schlager of Take Me To Your Heaven and Hero, which possibly freaked out some people who thought that was all she was capable of.
Which Melodifestivalen 2012 entries are still racking up the plays at your end? And who do you think should win the 2013 final on Saturday night?