Is it just me who feels like we had a handful of Eurovision 2018 entries five minutes ago and were impatiently waiting for the rest to be locked in? And yet, somehow, the selection season is actually over. We have our 43, and that’s been the situation for a few weeks now.
It’s kind of sad, but there is a bright side – besides another contest being on the cards in the foreseeable future. Before looking back at Kyiv 2017 and looking SIX WEEKS (!) ahead to Lisbon 2018, we now get to glance over at this latest NF season and say ‘How you doin’?’ in a suggestive Joey Tribbiani way to all of the awesome new music we discovered throughout January, February and March (and maybe a little in December too). And today I’m finally ready to present you with my personal list of absolute favourites.
For some reason, I didn’t let myself have total free-rein fun with it (I may be my own boss, but it turns out I’m a strict one). There were conditions. DUN DUN DUN!!!
- This is an obvious one, but I couldn’t choose a song that won the NF it competed in, even if it was my favourite in the field. Once that happens, the song stops being an NF song and becomes a Eurovision entry, after all.
- Secondly, I only let myself choose one song per country, so don’t think you’re about to see me fawn over ten Melfest tracks in a row – it hasn’t happened. It would have been more like 3x Swedish songs, 3x Norwegian, 3x French and 1x token from somewhere else anyway.
Based on these rules, I’ve put together my top 10 and I’m pretty pleased with it. But, since this year offered up so much great stuff, if you make it to the end of this post – or just cut out the middle man and scroll straight through – you’ll find a playlist of my top 10 plus ALL of my other ‘best of the rest’ songs from this season. Feel free to tell me what excellent taste I have in the comments (or at least be polite when you’re criticising it). And don’t forget to leave a list of your NF favourites from 2018 too – I want to know what stood out to you and what you might have preferred to hear/see in Portugal over what will be. Because I’m nosy *hopes it’s part of my charm*.
Now, let’s get into the list!
#10 | Astronaut by Liam Tamne
Unplaced in Eurovision: You Decide (United Kingdom)
I know many of you will want to throw a pie at my face (or in this case, perhaps a plate of bangers and mash) for suggesting that ANYTHING in the You Decide lineup was better than Asanda’s Legends. Don’t get me wrong…that was dope, and in my opinion was probably the best choice the UK could have made for Lisbon (sorry/not SuRie). But while my head knew that much, my heart was with Liam and his Astronaut. Apart from taking the space metaphors a little too far at times, this song appeals to me in every way – from the modern and atmospheric production to the pretty melodies and Liam’s crystal-clear falsetto. In fact, the only thing that really bothers me is the line ‘take your body into space’, which sounds like a threat a serial killer would make to a bound-and-gagged victim after consuming a tray of hash brownies. But (bizarrely) that’s not a deal breaker. You can be my astronaut for sure, Liam (in a platonic way because I know you have a husband).
#9 | Signals by Karui
Unplaced, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix (Denmark)
When Karui didn’t even get a look in to the super final of DMGP this year, it didn’t come as a surprise. She may have turned in a stellar, soulful performance, but Signals is just not the kind of song Denmark would ever choose to send to Eurovision. As a consolation prize, though, it’s totally the kind of song I get a kick out of, and I plan to listen to it on the reg until I find a 2019 Danish reject to replace it. The song is like a less urban version of All My Friends by Snakehips, with bare-bones verses and hypnotic choruses that run smooth like a chocolate fondue (why do I always end up comparing music to food?). It’s the perfect backing track to a low-key house party or a romantic rendezvous – not, I have to admit, a great song to enter in a competition, which is another reason why I didn’t crumple dramatically to the floor when it didn’t go anywhere in DMGP. I still want to hear more stuff like this from Denmark in the future, even if it only serves to end up on a Spotify playlist of mine post-show.
#8 | Ptica by BQL
2nd, EMA (Slovenia)
Okay, so it might have been BQL with Promise that technically came second in EMA…but the semi-final Slovenian version of this song is miles better. In any language, it’s no Heart of Gold (which 110% should have gone to Kyiv despite the boys being more performance-ready this year) but it has the Maraaya Midas touch, and that’s enough to warrant it a spot on my best of the rest list. I just love the cruisy vibe, the acoustic-pop sound, and OF COURSE the light-up guitars (it’s like Poli Genova personally oversaw the instrument-pimping process). Honestly, if BQL return for a third try at representing Slovenia next year with a song less impressive than this, it HAS to be their time. Maybe the musical love child of Heart of Gold and Ptica would do the trick? You’re welcome for the musical inspiration, Maraaya.
#7 | Lelya by Tayanna
2nd, Vidbir (Ukraine)
If there’s one thing we learnt from NF season 2017, it’s that Tayanna can SING…unless she’s got a throat infection. Fortunately she made a triumphant comeback to Vidbir this year, switching from a big dramatic ballad to a fast-paced retro pop banger in the process. As you’ll know if you tuned in to see her in action, she sang so studio-perfectly while dancing her ass off that she had to fend off accusations of lip-syncing on live TV. But she’s not fake – just fierce AF. And so is Lelya, with a catchy chorus and unrelenting energy that helped Tayanna hang on to her 2nd place from a year earlier. I would have preferred her to go to Eurovision on home soil with I Love You (what a host entry that would have been!) and I’m happy with Under The Ladder as Ukraine’s song for Lisbon, but Lelya would have been a worthy entry too. BTW…I’ve linked Tayanna’s semi performance above because, even though she was vocally flawless both times, I really did not like the oversized pantsuit she wore in the final. Seriously.
#6 | My Turn by John Lundvik
3rd, Melodifestivalen (Sweden)
Why are the Melfest performances geoblocked on YouTube? In Australia, anyway. It’s a travesty, is what it is. But I digress. If you read the Selection Season posts that led up to this one (which you totally would have because you just can’t get enough of me, AMIRIGHT?!?) then you might have noticed I transitioned from thinking My Turn was cheesier than a board of brie and camembert, to thinking that it was magnificent (while continuing to acknowledge the cheese). It’s not like it’s Our Choice cheesy (Iceland has a lot to answer for). It’s more of a ‘I just won Idol circa 2002 and this is my uplifting, inspirational winner’s single! Yay for me!’ situation. But it just works. It has all the moments it needs to give me goosebumps, right down to the explosive money note that we all knew would be accompanied by a fire curtain before we even saw John perform it on the Melfest stage. And speaking of which, he performs it so well with so much confidence, it’s hard to hate. Who knows, he may not believe a word he’s singing, but he makes me believe that he does. It so is your turn, John…just not to win Melodifestivalen, obviously.
#5 | Delirium by Isabell Otrębus
9th, Krajowe Eliminajce (Poland)
There’s something about Isabell that isn’t that appealing to Poland – this year in particular, when her NF outing ended with second-last place. I’ll admit that Delirium is a better song to listen to than to watch being performed (making it less than ideal to send to a contest where visuals are as crucial to a successful package as the song). But that’s what I’m ranking here anyway – songs that I have already or will be Spotifying the shiz out of over the next few months/years/centuries (because Delirium gives me enough life to guarantee I’ll live beyond 100). This song is better, I reckon, than Isabell’s 2017 Krajowe entry Voiceless. That was good, but Delirium is great. It’s not quite a pop music masterpiece, but pretty close – everything about it is contemporary, the production (Swedish, surprise surprise) is slick, and the chorus is simple but super catchy. If I’m honest, I would have preferred Poland to send it to Lisbon over Light Me Up, but I also know full well that Gromee and Lukas will fare better than Isabell would have. So I’ll just accept what actually happened, and continue to press play on this whenever the mood takes me (which is about every half an hour).
#4 | Poison (Ari Ari) by Tamar Kaprelian
DNQ, Depi Evratesil (Armenia)
Initially, I was under the impression that this was the ONLY song Armenia should send to Eurovision this year. Then they went and kicked Tamar to the curb at the semi-final stage of Depi Evratesil (THE NERVE!) and chose Qami…which I ended up falling in love with because it gives me all the Renaida-style feels. But rest assured that a) I’m still mad about the Poison rejection, and b) I will never forget what an epic piece of ethno pop it is. And that’s not just by comparison to Genealogy’s Face The Shadow, which was dire. In a parallel universe – and with some staging changes plus a boost from backing vocalists – this would have been an ESC return that gave an entire continent a bad case of the earworms. I mean, that chorus is stickier than super glue! Overall, the song is three minutes of Tamar playing Princess Jasmine in the Armenian production of Aladdin, and hers is an Arabian night I want to relive over and over again. Ari ari-lly love this.
#3 | Scandilove by Ida Maria
Unplaced, Melodi Grand Prix (Norway)
I have to start by saying that I had a hard time choosing my Norway song for this list. I had no doubt there’d be one, I just didn’t know whether it would be Talk To The Hand, Who We Are or Scandilove (and narrowing it down to those three was tricky enough. #firstworldproblems). Ultimately I opted for Scandilove because it’s the Mean Girls of music: endlessly quotable, totally iconic and SO much fun. If you don’t believe me on that first point, allow me to present you with the following lyrical gems: ‘Swim in the ocean, feel the emotion, it’s fucking freeeeezing’; ‘You’re in Scandinavia, biatch’, and of course, ‘Can you make love like a Scandinavian?’ (though I’m still not sure exactly what that entails). The whole thing is so weirdly wonderful, a part of me wishes Norway had taken a non-Rybak risk and bestowed Europe with such a magical gift of song in May. Especially since Ida performed it so perfectly (when I was expecting a car crash) and with all the energy, attitude and costume game we could have hoped for. 1990s Spice Girl pop and 2010s too-cool-for-school Scandi pop – with a sprinkling of ridiculousness – join forces here, and the result is amazing.
#2 | Compass by Alejandro Reyes
2nd, Die Entscheidungsshow (Switzerland)
Now I’m getting into the songs that I not only wanted to win, but nearly got my way with (which is me saying that this song and my #1 both finished second in their respective NFs). I do think Stones is a good song, and that Switzerland was sensible in picking it. But if I’d had the picking power over there (I cannot imagine a scenario in which this would be the case, but just roll with me) I would have gone with Compass in a heartbeat. I was impressed by Switzerland having a potential Eurovision song that was so damn now, it could be the latest thing Shaun Mendes fangirls are freaking out over (rarely something you find in a Swiss NF). Still, I would have dug this like a hole in the sand even if it had been competing in Melodifestivalen surrounded by similarly current radio hits. It’s easy-listening but still has energy; the lyrics are interesting, neatly rhymed and non-cliché; and the chorus is stripped-back (word-wise) but memorable. As a package, Compass comes gift-wrapped in fancy paper with a big fat bow on top. And, as an added bonus, Alejandro is a beautiful sight to behold and can deliver himself to my door gift-wrapped (or not) any time.
#1 | Eva by Lisandro Cuxi
2nd, Destination Eurovision (France)
Eva feels nothing but a heartache…and I was the same when Lisandro was beaten at the last minute by Madame Monsieur in France’s 2018 NF. As with Norway, there was a handful of French possibles that could have ended up on this list, and they did all end up on the playlist you’ll find below (including Emmy Liyana’s OK ou KO and Nassi’s Rêves de Gamin). But I had to make Lisandro’s Eva my number one NF song of the season because not only do I love love LOVE it, it’s also the one song that destroyed me when it finished second, not first. It didn’t help that it looked like it was going to win until, as I said, the last minute (oh, the pain!). But enough about that, since it didn’t win and I’ve now accepted that. As a standalone song outside of a competition, to me Eva is everything. It’s moody, mixes languages without interrupting lyrical or audio flow, tells a story, goes hard on hypnotic beats and power, and is generally an R & B banger that stood out to me from the moment I heard a snippet of it. Lisandro’s smooth-as-silk vocals are the cherry on top of the croissant. More than ever, I wish we could make an exception to the September 1st rule and wheel this one out to represent France in 2019, but the best I can hope for is that Lisandro tries again with a song that’s equally good, or better (if such a thing even exists).
So that’s the cream of the crop for me…but about the rest? Well, here they are alongside my top-tier NF favourites.
How long would your personal playlist be? Would any of my top 10 picks make it into your top 10? Write me a sentence or a story in the comments and let me know!
I’ll be back soon with another pre-Portugal post, and then it’ll be time for the EBJ reviews to kick off (the only time I wish Eurovision wasn’t currently a 40+ country contest is when I have to write about every single entry). Watch out for those, and/or subscribe (in the sidebar), and/or follow me on your standard social media platforms @EurovisionByJaz, for new post alerts. Oh, and ESC-related thoughts complimented by GIFs. What more could you want?
SELECTION SEASON 2018 | A shipload of songs for Portugal, Norway’s Grand Prix + the pointy end of Melfest!
It is with great regret – and to be honest, a little relief – that I say hey to you guys on the last Super Saturday of the 2018 ESC NF season. It feels like five minutes ago that the season started, and all of a sudden we’re in the thirties with our set-in-stone song tally and just days away from having a full house (and using the good old sorting tool to its full potential). The positive part of this, though, is that we are now just TWO MONTHS away from the main event.
No, not my birthday…that’s in September. I’m talking about Eurovision, obviously. Isn’t that all I ever do on this blog?
Before the spotlight hits Lisbon, there is more business to take care of. This is a sedate Saturday when you compare it to the last three or four – but the two finals taking place tonight are big ones.
- Norway (Melodi Grand Prix final)
- Sweden (Melodifestivalen final)
Yep – it’s an all-out Scandifest! And even though I’m mad about it denying me the chance to be on Twitter throughout Melfest if I want to watch MGP afterwards sans spoilers (why did they have to be on the same night, for the love of Loreen?!?) I’m also very, very excited. And very, very keen to get on with talking about a) everything that happened last week re: Portugal’s participating songs, b) Melodi Grand Prix, and c) my beloved Melfest (to think I was in Friends Arena for the final a whole year ago!). So I’ll get straight into it.
After a drip-drop few months of the NF season (Safura pun intended), all of sudden we are DROWNING in songs (albeit drowning in an enjoyable way).
It all started with the results of last Saturday’s finals, which saw five songs selected in Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Poland and San Marino. The role call = La Forza by Elina Nechayeva, Monsters by Saara Aalto, Our Choice by Ari Oláfsson, Light Me Up by Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer, and Who We Are by Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening (a Maltese/German production for San Marino, of course). My least favourite of this bunch by far is Who We Are (and if Norway chooses a much, MUCH superior Who We Are tonight, San Marino will be even worse off) while my top pick of the night was La Forza. I’ll tell you why – assuming I still feel the same way – when the EBJ reviews for 2018 kick off. #cliffhanger.
Sweden’s Melodifestivalen stage has made its last pre-Stockholm pit stop, and the final line-up is complete (obviously, since it’s happening tonight…I’m just mentioning it now). Quashing their competition in each of the four Andra Chansen duels last Saturday were Margaret, Renaida, Felix Sandman and Mendez, paving the way for a Schwarznegger-strong final. For more on that, including my winner prediction, keep reading.
We have our host entry at long last, with Portugal choosing Cláudia Pascoal and her fairy floss hair to defend their Eurovision title with O Jardim. It’s a seriously slow burner of a song, and I definitely need time to figure out how I feel about it – but my first impression is good. Not good enough to make me think Portugal will successfully defend their first-ever win, however.
Later in the week, just when we thought the flood of songs had stopped, in surged Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia and Ireland, unveiling entries by artists that had been locked in for a long time (Belgium in particular). It’s no surprise that most of my attention was on my own country’s entry (no. 4…who would have thought), but I’m actually not going to say anything about Jessica Mauboy’s We Got Love at this stage. Do I love it? Do I hate it? YOU’LL NEVER KNOW MWAHAHAHAHA until later on when I’ve formed a proper and objective opinion. Sorry, not sorry.
If I could describe the others in one word, though, Cesár Sampson’s Nobody But You would be ‘smooth’, Aisel’s X My Heart ‘underwhelming’, SENNEK’s A Matter of Time ‘interesting’, Franka’s Crazy ’jazzy’, I guess (and I’m glad Croatia isn’t in the same semi as Latvia, because I love Funny Girl and I don’t want two similar songs clamouring for the same points) and Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s Together ‘sweet’. Stay tuned for those 2018 reviews when I’ll say a lot more than that about all 43 entries.
Now it’s time to talk about some potential entries. Let the Scandifest begin!
We’ve known the artists and the songs for a good few months – and now, it’s finally time for Norway’s MGP to pit them against each other live and narrow ten down to one. And those ten are, in case you needed a refresher:
- You Got Me, Stella & Alexandra
- Talk To The Hand, Aleksander Walmann
- Scandilove, Ida Maria
- Light Me Up, Nicoline
- I Like, I Like, I Like, Tom Hugo
- Stop The Music, Charla K
- Tengo Otra, Alejandro Fuentes
- Moren Din, Vidar Villa
- Who We Are, Rebecca
- That’s How You Write A Song, Alexander Rybak
I don’t know about you, but I reckon this final is pretty freaking beautiful, to quote Robin Bengtsson *struts on treadmill and tries to type at the same time*. You did good, Norway – even if Alexander Rybak isn’t adding a surefire hit to the mix as many of us assumed he would.
Here’s my rundown of the songs that are hits, and those that missed the mark (in my opinion, obviously…feel free to disagree in the comments).
My favourite four (a.k.a. Jaz’s personal super final)
Who We Are In the wake of A Monster Like Me, Mørland brings us another musical masterpiece via Rebecca. It’s a power ballad that moves to morph into Sanna Nielsen-style schlager before each chorus, but (plot twist) doesn’t. The lyrics are familiar but not clichéd or a cheesefest, and each part of the song is as memorable as what comes before it – there’s no relying on a strong chorus to carry everything else. AMAZING. This is the MGP song leading the odds at the moment, and if Rebecca can deliver it close to studio-perfect tonight, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing her on an even bigger stage in May. 9.5/10.
Talk To The Hand I was surprised to see JOWST and Aleksander Walmann so keen to give Eurovision another shot so soon – surprised, but psyched. This time Aleksander is the only billed artist, but we still get to experience JOWST’s brilliant lyrics (Grab The Moment won the EBJ Award for Best Lyrics of 2017, ICYMI). And it’s another catchy, cutting-edge pop track, with a faster pace than the Kyiv 10th-placer. I love it. It’s so much fun, and I will be Spotifying the shiz out of it whether it wins or not. 9.5/10.
Scandilove Speaking of fun…oh my Lordi, this is a party starter. At first I thought it was ridiculous, but all it took was a second listen to get me thinking it was ridiculously epic. It’s unbelievably catchy, bubblegum as heck, and hilariously quotable – ‘Can you make love like a Scandinavian?’, ‘Swim in the ocean, feel the emotion’ and ‘It’s fucking frEEEzing’ are the tip of the iceberg. Sure, it could be an absolute train wreck when performed live, but Ida is innocent until proven guilty. 9/10.
Tengo Otra Who would have thought that the Despacito effect would pop up in Norway’s national final? Or Sweden’s, for that matter? Well, believe it or not, it has – and I’m fine with that when it gives us songs like this. I have no idea what Alejandro is singing about (I’d have better luck if he’d gone with Norwegian) but his melody is exotic and makes me want to dance until sweat is pouring off me and I have to excuse myself to go and down an entire pitcher of sangria. 8.5/10.
The leftovers (a.k.a. the stuff that’s still good, just not great)
That’s How You Write A Song Artist-wise, this is the big one. Song-wise, this is the musical equivalent of a trashy TV movie that’s so bad it’s good. What’s not good is how inaccurate the lyrical instructions are (I think there’s a little more involved in the songwriting process than you’re letting on, Alexander) but who cares when the violin riff is so fantastically cheesy? Fairytale this song is not, but it is my guiltiest guilty pleasure of the whole NF season. 8/10.
Moren Din Up until now, the creepiest mother-related song in the Eurovision bubble was Belgium’s 2014 entry from Axel Hirsoux. Enter Vidar, who wants to get it on with someone else’s (I must stress that) mum and is not shy about making that public knowledge by singing about it on national TV. Subject matter aside, the song is folksy fun and I quite like it – all the more as it’s the only Norwegian-language song competing in MGP this year. 7.5/10.
Stop The Music This is a strange name for a song, but I can’t even make a stupid joke about it along the lines of ‘I wish they had stopped the music’ (HAHAHA not) because it’s a nice song. As ballads go, it’s not the cookie-cutter kind, and I appreciate that. 7.5/10.
You Got Me Holy Haba Haba – Stella’s back! And she’s got her groove back too by the sounds of it (I owe you a congratulatory handshake if you got that reference). Her duet with Alexandra – as opposed to Alexander, Aleksander and Alejandro – is full of energy and packs a decent punch with the chorus, but it doesn’t exactly set my Scandipop-loving soul on fire. 7/10.
Light Me Up This is probably the most nondescript song of the ten. It’s good for radio play or the movie soundtrack of a John Green adaptation, but it’s too lacklustre to compete in a contest. There’s no fight in it. Sorry, Nicoline. 6.5/10.
I Like, I Like, I Like Now here’s a song title I can joke about! It’s not that I don’t like, don’t like, don’t like Tom’s track (though TBH, calling it I Like x1 would have been totally fine) – it’s just one of the few weak links here, and I’d be shocked to see it progress to the super final unless the live performance is miraculously mind-blowing. 6/10.
Making my predictions (a.k.a. embarrassing myself)
Traditionally, the four spots in the Melodi Grand Prix super final/gold final/whatever they’re calling it in 2018 are filled by a few predictable betting favourites, plus a few left-field options that few saw coming (and by ‘few’, I mean ‘me because I’m not very perceptive’). I’m not even sure I would have anticipated Grab The Moment making the cut last year if I’d followed MGP (I was busy swanning around Stockholm at the time). So, I’ve thought long and hard about who I think the final four will be this time…
…which didn’t help at all.
That means it’s stab-in-the-dark time, y’all! And I’m taking a stab at Aleksander Walmann, Vidar Villa, Rebecca and Alexander Rybak being the final four. If Walmann fades into the background after performing in the dreaded second slot, or Vidar isn’t the curveball I suspect he might be (remember En Godt Stekt Pizza?) we could see Ida Maria (if Norway’s feeling frisky) or Stella & Alexandra stepping up instead. Rebecca and Rybak are more or less already there, as far as I’m concerned, but don’t make me bet anything on it.
As for the winner, I do think Rebecca will do it if a) her live vocals are up to scratch, and b) the staging hasn’t been stuffed up and does Who We Are justice. That means the music video should definitely NOT be replicated on stage, as cool of a concept as it is.
What do you think? Am I crazy for not naming Rybak the runaway winner, or is there someone I’ve overlooked? Who do you want to represent Norway in Lisbon? Let me know below.
It’s here. After five cities, four semis and one second chance round, Melodifestivalen has arrived in Stockholm, and the capital is prepping for a final that has turned out to be pretty fantastisk considering the overall, weaker-than-usual standard of this year’s competition. 12 songs remain, and outside of victories on the Spotify charts, only one can win. So who’s going to Eurovision?
- Everyday, Mendez
- All The Feels, Renaida
- A Bitter Lullaby, Martin Almgren
- My Turn, John Lundvik
- Party Voice, Jessica Andersson
- Last Breath, LIAMOO
- Shuffla, Samir & Viktor
- For You, Mariette
- Every Single Day, Felix Sandman
- In My Cabana, Margaret
- Dance You Off, Benjamin Ingrosso
- Fuldans, Rolandz
That golden ticket to the ESC is still up for grabs. There’s no crystal-clear winner forging ahead far enough to make betting on them worthwhile (at least for a scaredy cat with a fragile bank account balance like me). Benjamin is leading the odds and won the audience poll; Felix is topping the charts and gaining more support by the second; Mariette or John Lundvik could still surprise; and LIAMOO might be a miracle worker who raps his way to first place.
A lot is going to come down to who Sweden votes for now that the best songs are in direct competition, and what the international juries take to as well (so we probably won’t see Samir & Viktor shuffla in Lisbon). Before I make my best possible winner prediction, I want to run down the full list of tonight’s twelve songs: not in performance or even alphabetical order (gasp!) but by how much I want them to win. Tell me if you feel the same – or not – in the comments.
Nej, tack…the songs I DON’T want to win Melfest 2018
A Bitter Lullaby I think there is a place for this in the final, and as long as it isn’t first place (which is about as likely as San Marino winning Eurovision this year) I can make peace with it being there. The song has grown on me since listen no. 1, but I still see it being too vanilla to get Sweden a result on par with what they’re accustomed to. 6.5/10.
Party Voice Melfest wouldn’t be Melfest without a touch of schlager, and since Jessica is one of only four females competing tonight, Party Voice is representing schlager and girl power in Stockholm. But, like Christer Björkman, I do NOT want a song like this winning through to the ESC and setting Sweden back 15-20 years. Again, it’s not going to happen…but I just want to make my feelings clear (while dancing like a mother). 7/10.
For You It’s not Mariette’s fault that she had so much pressure on her to produce a clear Melfest winner. Nonetheless, she didn’t. I think she’s almost out of contention for the win (if she couldn’t do it with A Million Years, she shouldn’t be able to with For You). The song and the performance are good, but missing the x factor. 7/10.
Fuldans I can’t be mad that Rolandz went direkt – didn’t we all see it coming? They are officially the Owe Thornqvist of 2018, right down to being handed performance slot 12 in the final. As with Boogieman Blues, I’d be lying if I said I got zero enjoyment out of Fuldans. Knowing it shouldn’t and won’t come anywhere near winning means I’m not worrying about it much. 6/10.
The songs I could get on board with (or should I say ‘All Aboard’ with?)
Everyday This is a bop. So much so that I can forgive the line ‘We were always meant to be’ (seriously, couldn’t they come up with anything else?). The chorus is possibly the catchiest of the year, and the colourful, frivolous staging contrasts well with Mendez’ all-black ensemble. 8/10.
All The Feels Fiercest, most flawless female in the final alert! I’m so thankful Renaida made it out of Andra Chansen so we get to witness her smash it on stage again. All The Feels is addictive, contemporary and perfectly choreographed. The odds aren’t in its favour to win, but if it did I would be happier than Nathan Trent after a lottery win. 8.5/10.
Shuffla They’re leading the pack on Spotify – and it’s understandable – but as with Rolandz, it will be the international juries who drag Samir & Viktor down a scoreboard they might have topped if Sweden had 100% of the power. I’m not super keen on a Shuffla win, so that’s okay with me. Still, imagine the energy this would bring to Eurovision, and how jättebra it would be to have Sweden send a song in Swedish for the first time since 1998! 7/10.
Every Single Day Comparing this song – and Felix himself – to Frans’ win with If I Were Sorry is easy. I ended up loving and supporting that in Stockholm (right down to wearing Frans’ face on my t-shirt) and I can see myself doing the same thing if the Sandman becomes the second-ever winner to come out of Andra Chansen. At this point, though, I like this song, but love others. 8/10.
The songs I want to win
My Turn How did I go from labeling this as a total by-the-numbers cheeseboard to adoring it when I’ve only listened to it once since semi 1? Your guess is as good as mine. But there’s something about the melody, power, and John’s beautiful face that’s worked magic on me. Don’t underestimate this one! 9/10.
Last Breath I get that rap isn’t for everyone, but it’s what LIAMOO does best and that makes his performance of Last Breath authentic and moving. The staging is simple but complementary, and the song is dynamic thanks to the uplifting chorus that gives rap-haters a break from the more intense verses. As Sanna Nielsen would say, I’m in love. 9/10.
In My Cabana But of COURSE. I don’t care if Margaret sings like a drunk pack-a-day smoker (although she has come a long way from her Polish NF performance of Cool Me Down). This song is the bomb dot com – a tropical-reggae-pop banger with numerous insanely catchy bits. Oh boy, oh boy. 9.5/10.
Dance You Off Last but not least, it’s my boy Benjamin with a slick R & B/dance track and the most epic staging I have ever seen. Together they’re an ESC-ready package that I’ll be cheering for tonight so loudly I’ll wake up everyone else in my house, and you’ll probably hear me even if you’re in Friends Arena. 9.5/10.
Predicting the winner, with sweaty palms (and sweaty other places)
I’m going to keep this (kind of) short. Realistically, I think there are four songs that are in it to win it – My Turn, Last Breath, Every Single Day and Dance You Off. As I said before, Samir & Viktor will be dragged down by the international juries, whereas I think Swedish love for Mariette will be decreased now there are stronger songs and performances in play.
Last Breath is too divisive to win, in my opinion – as much as I’d enjoy that. My Turn is probably not current enough. That leaves a likely top two of Benjamin and Felix (who have a bromance going on that Shakespeare would write a sonnet about if he were alive today) and I’m having trouble deciding what’s more likely: the song I actually want to win winning (Dance You Off ) or an Andra Chansen qualifier winning again (Every Single Day). All I feel 100% confident in saying is that Sweden will be sending their fourth guy in a row to Eurovision (so could we please get some girl power á la Sverige in 2019?).
That being said, YOU HAVE TO MAKE AN ACTUAL PREDICTION, JAZ!!! So, for the win, I’m settling on *drumroll*…
Felix. Because I don’t want to jinx Benjamin, but also because I got this feeling inside my bones (Justin Timberlake knows).
Who’s your pick to fly the Swedish flag in Lisbon? Do we agree, or do we have to agree to disagree?
NF UPDATE: What’s Up Next (The Last NF of the Season, Noooooooooo!)
- 11/3 Lithuania (Eurovizija final)
And we still have song reveals from Bulgaria, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia and Russia to look forward to. Are we spoiled or what?
I think I’d better stop the Scandifest now since I could probably publish all of the above as an encyclopedia-thick novel (that nobody would want to read). I hope you enjoy Melfest or MGP if you’re watching one/both tonight, and that you don’t decide to be Eurovision Satan and DM me spoilers from Norway on social media. Have a heart!
Until next time, when the real ESC countdown begins…
THE KOUNTDOWN TO KYIV | The countries I don’t trust to make the right choices this NF season (a.k.a. Jaz gets way too judgmental!)
Believe it or not, Eurovision’s next national final season is about to begin. THE FEELS!
Sure, Festivali I Këngës was our early Christmas present, and Hungary and Lithuania have kicked off the heat stages of their selections already (Lithuania really should have started theirs in September if they wanted to be sure of a pre-ESC finish). But the coming weekend is when the craziness starts – in the awesome way it always does for us Eurofreaks. It’s more or less non-stop NFs from the moment Belarus and Georgia get going on Friday until the EBU demands the handover of all 43 entries sometime in March. Are you ready? Me neither, but that’s too bad.
Of course, NF season brings with it as much heartbreak as it does happiness, when the songs we fall in love with don’t rise to the top. And there’s a handful of countries that, to me, are more likely to deliver on the ‘WHY, LORDI, WHY?!?’ front than any others. Before the 2017 season switches to supersonic speed, I’m going to expose those countries in the hope that they might not disappoint me this time around.
In other words, I’m about to complain my InCulto-style sparkly short-clad butt off. Who WOULDN’T want to stick around for that?
First, a few FYIs:
- This post = my personal opinion on the most unreliable national finals. I still believe that every country has the right to send whatever they want to Eurovision for whatever reason (maybe they’d rather make a statement than be in it to win it. That’s fine!). I also believe that, as with the ESC itself, whichever song wins is the right winner because it triumphed according to the rules. However, NF mistakes have been made more than once by certain selection shows the way I see it, and I just wanted to point that out.
- Don’t take anything I say below too seriously, and don’t call me out for insulting the intelligence and decisions of entire nations. This is only what I’d dictate in a parallel universe in which the whole season goes my way. Which will NEVER happen, btw.
- I’m using the results of 2016’s finals as my main examples of what went wrong, but don’t be surprised if I throw back to something from ye olden days of 2010-2015 too.
Right – now that we’ve established that I’m not some sort of Eurovision Satan, let’s get started. Here are the countries and their accompanying pre-selections that I’m worried about as we head into the 2017 season.
Belarus (The NF Formerly Known As Eurofest)
Since the Belarusian final is taking place this Friday, I feel like there’s still time for me to give the country that confused and scared us all with a giant baby hologram in Stockholm some passive-aggressive advice (besides ‘Maybe don’t do THAT again…like, ever’). I remember Help You Fly being my least favourite song on offer last year, and I also recall jinxing the results in a big way by joking that because I disliked it so much, it’d probably get the go-ahead for Eurovision. Sure, it grew on me as Ivan’s horrendous audition performance blossomed into something far more polished and professional (though OTT and nonsensical at the same time). But I still believe that Belarus could have chosen something that would at least have flicked them into the ESC final (like Kirill Yermakov’s Running To The Sun or NAVI’s Heta Ziamlia which finished 3rd and 4th respectively), and not had us laughing and cringing in equal measure. Therefore, here’s my tip: think about the big picture, Belarus, and pick the best of what is usually a pretty average bunch. Switzerland does it every year – so can you!
Denmark (Dansk Melodi Grand Prix)
I think I’d need more than two hands to count Denmark’s DMGP missteps on. The past two years in particular have seen them select the most mediocre, inoffensive song possible, only to be surprised when it didn’t make the grade required to see Eurovision’s Saturday night show (presumably because inoffensive mediocrity has, I must admit, worked in their favour before). Two DNQs on the trot should speak for themselves, but I still get the impression that we all need to come together (Eurovision 2016 slogan pun intended) and light a fire (Eurovision 2012 pun NOT intended) under Denmark’s butt to ensure that they don’t do the exact same thing for a third year running. The DMGP line-up in 2016 was actually stellar in my opinion, with at least seven of the ten competing entries worthy of leveling up to the ESC. Two of them even made the super final. Then – *insert sound of a balloon deflating here* – the worst case scenario became a horrifying yet bland reality. Basically, I’ve been betrayed by Denmark too frequently to trust the tastes of their televoting public. It’s on par with feeling personally victimised by Regina George, and it HAS TO STOP.
Estonia (Eesti Laul)
Don’t get me wrong – I think Eesti Laul is an excellent national final, and I’m not about to claim that Goodbye To Yesterday was a mistake of magnificent proportions (clearly, it wasn’t). But Estonia are so hit-and-miss with the calibre of song they crown EL champion, I can’t put too much faith in their decision-making skills. They did a Denmark in 2013 by sacrificing something edgy and exciting for something that could send you to sleep circa Eurovision 1994; then they assumed that a Stig Rästa songwriting credit would be enough to distract from the creep factor of Play’s presentation in 2016 (again, don’t drop that jaw. I love Play and I’m still devastated that it didn’t qualify, but I totally understand why). Those unfortunate turns of events have left me wondering what could have been if Grete Paia’s Päastke Noored Hinged and Mick Pedaja’s Seis (my entries of choice in those years) had won through instead. I reckon they would have made memorable moments for all the right reasons, and that’s what I want from the Estonian entry in 2017. But I’m not holding my breath, because I would like to live to see the Kyiv contest take place.
Finland (Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu)
Sandhja’s Eurovision experience can be more accurately summed up by the existence of a camel toe (the NSFW Urban Dictionary will help you out if you have no idea what I’m referring to) than by Sing It Away being a raging success…because it wasn’t. With a different position in the running order, more creative staging and weaker competition, the outcome might have been different. But at the end of the day, as fun and energetic as the song is, it was disposable. Finland were guilty of failing to bring ‘it’ (i.e. the x factor that has ‘We’re going to the final, bitches!’ written all over it) before 2016, so I worry that they’ll bring ‘it’ only to leave ‘it’ behind in UMK yet again this year. They’ve done it to poor Mikael Saari twice, and Satin Circus suffered the same fate in 2015 with Crossroads, which I believe would have been a dead cert for the ESC final. As I mentioned in this post’s ‘Better Cover My Arse’ disclaimer, every country is at complete liberty to choose what they want to represent them for whatever reason (as much as it wasn’t up my alley, I accept that Aina Mun Pitää brought an until-then uncharted genre to Eurovision and that Finland should be proud of being such musical pioneers). But do I think the Finns are consistently giving themselves the greatest chances of success on the contest stage? Umm, no. So if a pleasant surprise is in store for us re: UMK this year, you’ll be able to consider me a happy Jaz!
This one goes out to all of y’all who never forgot SUNDAY’s Feathers (or Fjaðrir, as it was known during Iceland’s 2015 semis). It also goes out to the two or three people (myself included) who thought that Iceland might have been suffering from ‘Ooh, it’s Greta!” syndrome when they settled on Miss Salóme for Stockholm. You guys will know what I mean when I say that Iceland has issues with sending their best-bet song to Eurovision. They also tend to take a Danish approach sometimes, by shoving innovative, contemporary songs aside to make way for slightly stale and often repetitive middle-of-the-road music (which is not at all representative of the epic, inventive music that the island can produce). Those issues are why I have issues of my own with the Icelandic selection process. At this point, we’re yet to find out who and what will be competing in Söngvakeppnin 2017, but I swear I’ll start feeling anxious as soon as we do, knowing that it’s highly likely the NF will end in…well, perhaps not disaster, but an ‘Oops, our bad!’ at least. Remember, this is my opinion, and Iceland is free to do whatever the heck they want. But they really should listen to me if they want to take full advantage of putting their musical talents on a global platform.
Norway (Melodi Grand Prix)
I can’t accuse Norway of opting for non-groundbreaking/icebreaking music for Eurovisual purposes. With songs like I Feed You My Love, A Monster Like Me and Icebreaker (which was highly original in that it crammed two song styles into one) in their archives, they’re certainly closer to Sweden than Denmark in the above-average stakes. However…Icebreaker was divisive, and I could easily argue that Norway had a mass-appeal, ready-made ESC gem at their disposal with Laila Samuels’ Afterglow. A modern, haunting ballad that would have eaten Croatia and the Czech Republic for breakfast (with some minor costume and staging tweaks), the song wasn’t completely overlooked by the Norwegians – but enough to leave Laila wearing her best gracious loser face as Agnete celebrated victory. You might say, depending on your definition of good music, that NMGP 2016 was like the shampoo aisle at the supermarket – an endless parade of high-quality choices that impress, but also overwhelm. I.e. there can be too much of a good thing, and it’s possible that Norway decided on the wrong good thing if building on Mørland & Deborah Scarlett’s success was their aim. That’s why I wouldn’t bet on NMGP producing the best possible winner this year – whereas I’d bet my life savings on Sweden’s Melodifestivalen whittling its entries down to the one that will guarantee them the most commendable Eurovision result they could have achieved.
Well, I think that’s the majority of my complaints officially off my chest. Maybe they’ve sent good vibes out into the NF universe…or maybe the vibes I’ve created are so negative, they’re now the Jemini of juju. Time will tell (and is also like thunder, according to Uzari. It’s multi-talented).
Now it’s your turn to vent. Which Eurovision 2017 selection shows are you most concerned about? Do you trust every country to make the “right” decision, or are there some that need a high five to the face with one of Poli Genova’s giant geometric earrings? Which countries made mistakes last year that have you thirsty for justice this year? Tell all in the comments below.
I’ll be back at the end of the week to preview and predict the Belarusian and Georgian NFs. You better prepare yourselves, because life on Planet Eurovision is about to get busy!
Välkommen to the fourth and final Super Saturday of February!
There are a few more national final-filled weekends to come, but this is the last that we can honestly label as ‘Super’, ‘Frantic’, or in extreme cases, ‘So *Insert F-Bomb Here* busy, I can’t *Insert F-Bomb Here Also* handle it, so I’m off to live in an uninhabited cave in the Himalayas’. Enjoy!
Here’s what’s on the menu tonight. I hope you’re hungry.
- Finland’s UMK – the final
- Hungary’s A Dal – the final
- Lithuania’s Eurovizijos – the eighth show
- Moldova’s O Melodie Pentru Europa – the final
- Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix – the final
- Slovenia’s EMA – the final
- Sweden’s Melodifestivalen – the fourth semi final
And, of course, there’s an after-dinner mint on Sunday, if you can squeeze it in:
- Latvia’s Supernova – the final
As usual, I’m not certifiably insane enough to tackle talking about every NF taking place tonight, so I’m picking a few favourites to review and predict – specifically, Hungary, Norway, and *completely unnecessary drum roll* Sweden. If you’re keen to check out what I have to say re: their line-ups, and would like to know who I think will win/qualify, read on. If not, what are you even doing here? This is what goes down on EBJ. Would you like someone to drop by your house unexpectedly only to criticise the wallpaper and the cleanliness of your toilet?
I DIDN’T THINK SO.
But I digress. Let’s kick things off with some thoughts on the songs that have become Eurovision entries since last Saturday.
STOCKHOLM SHENANIGANS: The Class of 2016, plus five
Plus five featuring some damn good songs at that. Four of the following tracks triumphed at national finals held last weekend, and during the week just gone; one was revealed in the wake of the artist’s internal selection. I’ll let you figure out which is which, because it’s extremely obvious and you already know anyway and man, I need to get some sleep after this.
- Alter Ego by Minus One (Cyprus) I probably wouldn’t have picked this as a G:son creation had I known squat about the identity of its songwriters. That’s not a good or bad thing. I mean, clearly, this is no Euphoria, but it’s not supposed to be – it’s supposed to be a Minus One song, and it does work in that way. However, although the chorus is catchy, I don’t know how far Alter Ego will carry Cyprus.
- Ghost by Jamie-Lee Kriewitz (Germany) Jamie-Lee, who could have competed in JESC until recently (and currently dresses like she should) is taking her Voice of Germany winner’s single to Stockholm, and ich liebe es. I’d like her to ditch the K-pop costume for Eurovision since it doesn’t suit the song at all, but apart from that, she’s got a voice (THE voice, in fact) and song to grab Germany a result they won’t be ashamed of.
- Hear Them Calling by Greta Salóme (Iceland) In a plot twist that no one saw coming, the favourite to win Söngvakeppnin WON Söngvakeppnin. Pick those jaws up off the floor, people! I have three things to say about this: 1) The staging is boss, and no, it’s not a do-over of Heroes (‘inspiration’ is very different to ‘imitation’); 2) The song is quirky and folksy in a beautifully Icelandic way; and 3) Why did they have to ruin that beauty by switching to English?
- 1944 by Jamala (Ukraine) I’m still receiving therapy due to the trauma I experienced watching the Ukrainian final, and part of the treatment involves my doctor telling me over and over again that JAMALA WON IT! Sure, I could have come to terms with The Hardkiss or NuAngels taking the ticket, but I’m thrilled that in the end (when it finally, mercifully came), the incredible Jamala and the emotion-heavy-yet-edgy 1944 were on top. Let’s hope nothing more than the title and a few lyrics – if anything – have to be altered to fit the EBU’s rules and regs.
- You’re Not Alone by Joe & Jake (United Kingdom) If you follow me on Twitter (HINT HINT) you’ll already know how I felt about the UK final – the first held since 2010. If not, then I’ll recap in a more polite way by saying it wasn’t of the highest possible quality. Off to Eurovision is one of the two or three (at a push) songs that I didn’t despise, so that’s good news. What isn’t good news is it’s also a song that sounds like it should be in the background of something – a heartwarming movie montage or a compilation of teamwork-oriented Olympic moments. But I’ll give it time to grow. PS – Joe’s cute. Call me even though I just insulted your song?
What do you think of the latest songs to be selected? Is there a Eurovision winner among them? While you’re deciding, I’m going to leave the pre-existing entries behind and move on to the possible entries from Hungary, Norway, and our hosts Sweden.
HUNGARY: A Dal not dal at all as it reaches its conclusion
There’s no doubt about it: when you have an eight-song final, and only one of those eight songs is crap, that’s the dictionary definition of a brilliant show. Of course, that’s seven very good songs and one rubbish one in my opinion…but that’s the only one that matters to me.
Just kidding. I care what you think, person reading this! So how does this final look/sound to you?
- Trouble In My Mind by Petruska
- Győz a Jó by Gergő Olah
- Who We Are by Kállay Saunders Band
- Uncle Tom by Mushu
- Why by André Vásáry
- Pioneer by Freddie
- Már Nem Szédülök by Parno Graszt
- Seven Seas by Olivér Berkes & Andi Tóth
Based on the impressive content of their recent NFs, Hungary has convinced me they’re on track to win Eurovision within the next five years. I don’t think we’re off to Budapest quite yet, but I think they’ll be back in the final for the fifth time running in May – and who knows how high a rung they could reach on the scoreboard then? If they want back on the left-hand side (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) here are my recommendations in the form of a personal top four:
- Pioneer This is the kind of music Eurovision needs more of: gritty, powerful, meaningful pop-fusion performed by chiseled Hungarians who I sincerely hope are single. I realise that’s quite specific (and shallow) so let’s just make it an ESC requirement for Hungary on this occasion.
- Győz a Jó Ethnic R & B feat. sand? That’s a surefire recipe for success, as I have now discovered thanks to Gergő. This song is far superior to his last A Dal entry in my mind, because it has it all. And any man who can pull off a bright red suit with ease deserves a round of applause.
- Who We Are Never mind Ira Losco – it’s András who’s the true chameleon. This is his third appearance in A Dal, and once again, he’s visually and aurally unrecognisable. That man-bun is the stage equivalent of Clark Kent removing his spectacles. Together with his band (as they are so named) he’s delivering multi-faceted and very cool pop-rock straight to our door, and I’m keen on it.
- Trouble In My Mind THIS IS SO CUTE. Cute in a grown-up, totally-ready-to-charm-Europe kind of way. That is all.
I’m pretty confident that one of the above four will win tonight. Petruska and Freddie won their respective semis, so it’s probably down to those two FTW – but a last-second surprise isn’t out of the question. There’s an outside chance for András Kállay Saunders, his band, and his practically non-existent singlet (not complaining) to win, and I can see Seven Seas sneaking into contention as well. This should be a final well worth watching, no matter the outcome.
So…are you going to make an official prediction, or not? Hold your horses! I’m getting there. I think the top four, determined by the in-studio jury, will be comprised of Petruska, Kallay Saunders Band, Freddie and Gergő (alternatively, Olivér/Andi could pop up instead of KS Band or Gergő). I think – and hope – we’ll see Freddie in Stockholm. But if Petruska pips him at the post, I won’t be mad. How could I feel any resentment whatsoever towards that precious bearded face?
Okay…I think now’s a good time to talk about something else. But if you have a less awkward tip/expectation for A Dal 2016, let me know below.
NORWAY: Melodi Grand Prix, Norsk Edition (but did Dansk do it better?)
Um, YES THEY DID. What happened, Norway? MGP 2015 was epic, even though it may not have produced an ESC winner. MGP 2016 is…well, I don’t want to say bad, but it’s definitely in that ballpark. We’ve actually got a reverse Hungary situation here – ten songs, and I’d only define three or four as being halfway decent. Hashtag harsh but true.
- Laika by The Hungry Hearts feat. Lisa Dillan
- Into The Fire by Stage Dolls
- Traces by Stine Hole Ulla
- Stand Up by Makeda
- Anyway by Pegasus
- Feel Da Rush by Freddy Kalas
- Afterglow by Laila Samuels
- History by Elouiz
- Anna Lee by Suite 16
- Icebreaker by Agnete
Norway’s super final will also see four songs advance to a second round of voting, as per usual, so I’ll go ahead and single out my preferred super finalists (though to be honest, I’m finding it hard to care that much).
- Afterglow Laila’s song is my hands-down favourite, because it isn’t any of these things: Bon Jovi-inspired; a cheesy, overly-theatrical operatic ballad; a cheesy, soppy mid-2000s ballad; or a poor tribute to Meghan Trainor (all of which appear elsewhere in the running order). Plus, it’s actually good in its own right. It’s a true Scandinavian ballad, and if she can nail her live vocal, it will be magical on stage.
- Feel Da Rush The pleasure is all guilty. This is part Sean Banan, part Kygo, and though I know I should hate the sum of those parts…I just can’t.
- Icebreaker I’m convinced that this is literally two different songs that were accidentally mixed in the studio, and Agnete was just like ‘Okay then.’ The complete change in genre and tempo from verse to chorus isn’t cohesive at all. And yet…Icebreaker has appeal. A little advice for the writers/producers: if it was a dance track through and through, I’d love it.
- Anna Lee Stereotypical half-arsed boy band fodder appeals to the boy band fanatic – surprise, surprise! Suite 16 have a song up their perfectly-pressed sleeves that we’ve all heard before (about three times on One Direction’s debut album alone). Does that lack of originality bother me? Not that much. Not when they’re above most of their competition regardless.
And the winner will be…one of the following, as far as I can see: Afterglow or Anna Lee. Still, Norway isn’t a country to shy away from throwing a curveball (cue throwback to the pizza song making the super final last year and Karin Park missing out) so we can expect at least one ridiculous song – Laika or Feel Da Rush – to reach the final four, and potentially win (but probably come third). My guess for that four is Feel Da Rush, Afterglow, Anna Lee and Icebreaker, with Traces possibly slotting in instead of Feel Da Rush if Norway is in a serious mood. But I’m sticking with the ‘A’ songs when it comes to the winner. With fingers crossed.
Which song from MGP 2016 do you think could bring Norway the success I’m not sure they’re craving come May?
SWEDEN: Melodifestivalen’s fourth (semi) final showdown!
It’s hard to believe, but ja – we’ve arrived at the end of Melfest’s semi stage. We’ve become accustomed to the last semi featuring some big hitters and a possible winner of the whole thing, and 2016 is no exception.
- Runaways by Eclipse
- Rollercoaster by Dolly Style
- Du Tar Mig Tillbaks by Martin Stenmarck
- Killer Girl by Linda Bengtzing
- If I Were Sorry by Frans
- Håll Om Mig Hårt by Panetoz
- Youniverse by Molly Sandén
I wouldn’t say Deltävling 4 is as eyeball-bulgingly awesome as Deltävling 3 was, but…MOLLY! I’ve been waiting for this evening’s seventh song since we found out Youniverse would BE this evening’s seventh song. In case you weren’t aware, I am a massive Molly Sandén fan, and I’ve been basking in the ambience of her status as favourite alongside Ace Wilder for months. So, now that the almost-full versions of tonight’s competing songs have been released, how does she stack up? And, how do the other six artists stack up to her?
Take my ideal qualifiers as an answer to those questions.
My top four
- Youniverse Sure, Molly could fart into her microphone for three minutes and I’d fawn all over it, but thankfully, this is a few million steps up from that. Another sllickly-produced, ethereal pop number in a string of the same from her, it should win semi 4 comfortably.
- If I Were Sorry You don’t have to be sorry, Frans (not that he is). This is charming, Ed Sheeran-type easy listening at its almost-best. I’m not 100% sold on the repetition of the title, but I’ve already put a deposit on everything else.
- Rollercoaster Against my better judgment, I enjoyed this. It’s not a carbon copy of Hello Hi, which is good – this is a little more grown up (OMG, Dolly Style has evolved!). It’s still sweet and fluffy though, like a stick of cotton candy. And FYI, I have no clue which one is the original group member either.
- Håll Om Mig Hårt Panetoz can do no wrong. Their brand of infectiously happy tropical pop wins me over every time. Efter Solsken was better, but it left the boys with big shoes to fill, and they’ve made a good effort.
So, who’s going direkt? Molly and Frans. The former because, well, duh. The latter because it’s what my unreliable gut is telling me. Do not place a bet based on my tips, for heaven’s sake.
And who’s off to Andra Chansen? Dolly Style and Linda Bengtzing/Panetoz. I feel like there’s going to be a real fight for fifth place tonight, and though it pains me to say so (as I want them to go as far as possible) I do think Panetoz might struggle and lose out to Linda.
This is the last opportunity for two songs to go straight to the Friends Arena final in a fortnight. Am I right about which two it will be? Do you have a different take on this semi’s seven? Say so in the comments, my fellow Melfester.
Alright. That’s enough of my nonsensical, sleep-deprived rants about musical competitions for now. I’m off for my traditional pre-Melfest nap that hopefully won’t turn into a full night’s sleep resulting in me missing Melfest (oh, the horror!). Maybe I’ll see you on Twitter in a few hours’ time? If not, I’ll see you once we’ve added six more songs to the stack marked ‘Eurovision 2016’.
Happy NF Viewing!
Finally, and I mean FINALLY, after what seems like the longest wait in history, we have a national final taking place. That’s a one-off, decision-making NF without any further, irritating ado. In a day or so, Denmark will have chosen their entry for 2013, and the winning artist can then start making plans for the long, perilous journey to Malmö…taken by train in about seven minutes (assuming the starting point is Copenhagen. But even if it isn’t, it won’t exactly be a long-haul trip).
Also on the agenda this weekend is Norway’s second semi final, which we now know will feature the Eurovision champion to end all champions, Alexander Rybak. Unfortunately he’s only participating as a songwriter, which was not the impression given by eurovision.tv when they announced ‘the return of Rybak’, exclamation mark. But his taking part at all is exciting news.
Also ALSO coming up is the announcement we’ve all been hanging out for: the revelation of Eurovision 2013’s master (or mistress) of ceremonies. But I’ll save my thoughts on that for somewhere down below, among all of the above. Let’s go.
Dansk Melodi Grand Prix: it’s on!
You know it! Because I just said it! Anyway, the general consensus on the Danish prospectives this year has been ‘meh’, but I must be too easily pleased since I think they’re a strong bunch. Sure, some are way better than others, but there isn’t any one I would hate to go to Eurovision. A few I’d have to come to terms with, but nothing I’d shriek and then faux-faint over.
If you’re yet to hear the ten, you can listen to them here: http://dr.dk/melodigrandprix/Artikler/ 2013/sangene.htm. Then why not get back to me on which one you want to see in Sweden?
In the meantime, here are my verdicts.
1. Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det by Frederikke Vedel – of the two Danish-language songs in the lineup, this is the best. It’s not even factoring among the favourites to win, but I think it’s one of the best things going. I like the fact that it doesn’t immediately say ‘HEY! LOOK AT ME! I’m yet ANOTHER dance track!’, instead taking a minute or so to develop into one, kind of like Donny Montell’s Love Is Blind but in a more contemporary way. I doubt it will go anywhere in DMGP, but it will be going onto my iPod (which is really a more prestigious honour anyway).
2. Human by Brinck – Denmark’s choice of ’09 returns with a less try-hard entry written and composed by himself, and I am a fan. I love Brinck’s voice, and I think it’s more suited to this sweet, catchy, almost folky song that reminds me of Sjonni’s Friends Coming Home than it was to Believe Again, which I did like, but that he struggled a little with vocally. The lyrics are just about cliché-free which I really appreciate. I think we could have our first returnee in this guy, and if the song is reworked a bit to give the latter choruses more punch, it could do quite well in Malmö.
3. I’m Not Alone by Kate Hall – for something unoriginal and a little dated, this is pretty good. It has all the elements that make for a decent pop song – it’s catchy, repetitive enough to get stuck in your head but not overly so, the chorus goes bang, and there’s a money note. Having said all that, I don’t love it, and I don’t think it’s as strong as either of the songs that come before it. If Kate pulls off the live performance she could do well, but I think she’s too déjà vu to come out on top.
4. Rejs Dig Op by Louise Dubiel – I hate to keep on comparing these songs to other ones, but this reeks of Some Nights by Fun., which I was never that gone on. It is quite rousing, and I like the militaristic sound, but I feel like the whole thing could get boring fast. Although there is potential for a cracking stage show, with drummers and fancy costumes…in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Louise appears on stage dressed in Soluna Samay’s cap and epilets. But no, I still don’t want it to go to Eurovision most of all.
5. We Own The Universe by Daze – here we have a new-generation Aqua with a song penned by Euphoria’s very own Peter Böstrom and Thomas G:son. I know a lot of people thought Euphoria was 1990s, but wait until you hear this, one of the most 90s-sounding songs I’ve ever heard. I’m afraid that just won’t fly in 2013, not with me and hopefully not with the Danish public and jury. I enjoy a bit of nostalgia as much as anyone, but please, let’s keep the stuff we grew up with firmly in the national finals.
6. Stay Awake by Simone Egeriis – Simone came 3rd in DMGP a few years ago, and now she’s the apparent favourite to win. I’m not entirely sure why. Her song isn’t bad by any means (I’m into the jungle vibe, and may have to wear some animal print for any subsequent listens) but I don’t reckon it’s up there with the best of them. She won a singing competition, so I’m assuming she can hack it live, but I just can’t see her storming to victory. And that has nothing to do with me being jealous that she can sing and is both prettier and younger than me. Nothing at all…
7. Invincible by Jack Rowan feat. Sam Gray – another dance song? Who would’ve guessed? This one is much more ‘now’ than the previous, but somehow has less substance. Again, it’s far from terrible (and I’d love the UK to snaffle it up as their entry post-MGP as Sam Gray is a Brit) but it doesn’t stand out in the sea of almost identical songs dominating global radio. In a club, totally audio, it would go off. At Eurovision, not so much. Still, as I said, it would make a solid, modern entry for the UK. Ya listening, BBC?
8. Only Teardrops by Emmelie de Forest – speaking of not standing out…well, actually this does. Mainly because it’s in the Danish selection and not the Irish selection. Yes, it’s very Celtic, and as much as I hate to repeat myself (repeat myself repeat myself) it sure is rousing. If it did win, I think it would surprise first-time listeners at the big show who would probably expect a depressing, violin-laden ballad about Emmelie being able to do nothing but sob into her pajamas because her boyfriend dumped her. It’d probably get votes just for being something else.
9. Beautiful To Me by Albin – radio-friendly, album-filler material that neither disturbs nor offends. This is possibly the weakest of the lot, but it’s still decent in my opinion. There isn’t a whole lot more to say about it, other than that it won’t trouble the top three (unless it miraculously does, in which case forget I said anything. As I will reiterate in a moment, I suck at predicting DMGP).
10. Unbreakable by Mohamed – and the award for Best Dance Pop Song Hands Down goes to…this guy! His song has that something that Invincible is missing, if not the something that could make it an ESC winner so soon after Loreen. It’s up there with Simone’s as a favourite, and this time I get it. But I’m not sure about a landslide for Mohamed either. Unbreakable sounds like the sort of thing that could easily come second. But if the staging is steered clear from anything too edgy and intimate a la Euphoria, and his vocal is top-notch (as he’s another reality-tv alumni, it should be) he could be The One.
Whew. So that’s the ten, and one of them will be flying the Danish flag in May. This is how things will work: 50% public voting and 50% jury voting (what a genius system!) will determine the top three songs. Those three will proceed to the super-final, and another round of voting will decide the winner.
In terms of the trio I want to see there, these are my picks: Unbreakable, Human and Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det. But in terms of what will actually happen…well, you now know that I have a history of totally misjudging what the Danes will go for. Still, it’s a new year and that means another chance to stuff things up, so here goes.
I’m feeling Brinck, Louise and Mohamed for the super-final, with Louise in 1st, Mohamed in 2nd and Brinck bringing up the rear. Keep in mind that is not at all my ideal situation. I just have a funny feeling about that Louise. And as I said, whichever song I like the best/predict to win often comes second.
What are your thoughts? Who would be Denmark’s best chance of success on close ground?
Norsk Melodi Grand Prix, Vol. II
Thankfully, this semi is a lot stronger than the first one, which seemed to amateur hour. But is that thanks to Alexander Rybak, or is he only the bomb when he’s composing and performing?
- Det Vakje Mi Tid by Martin Blomvik
- I’m With You by Annsofi
- On Hold by Shackles
- No One by Hank
- Ulvetuva by Fjellfolk
- Shine With Me by Haji
- I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger
Annsofi’s is the song Rybak wrote, and it’s okay, but nothing earth-shattering. It reminds me of the depressing second half of his debut album Fairytale. But with his name stamped all over it, it’s sure to get a place in the final.
My favourites would have to be:
Det Vakje Mi Tid – I am not ashamed to admit that I LOVE this one. It’s dance pop, but not the standard kind. It’s super current, electro, slickly produced, and will be amazing if Mr. Blomvik can nail it live – a big ask considering the production on it, but…innocent until proven guilty, people. Or in this case, talented until there’s a massive onstage fail, people.
On Hold – This is another electro number, which will never qualify in a million years because none of the catchy, radio-friendly girl pop I adore in MGP ever does. I think the verses are a little stronger than the choruses, but in general it’s a song well done.
I Feed You My Love – This was not what I was expecting from a wispy blonde girl called Margaret, but I was far from disappointed. It’s intense, gritty, rock-ish and awesome, and the contrast between that and her look is vair interesting. She’s a big contributor to this semi kicking the butt of the last one.
Now, I must bring to your attention the fact that I managed to (accidentally) predict the qualifiers of last weekend’s show, so the pressure’s on to do it again. I’m listening to my gut, and it’s telling me in no uncertain terms that Annsofi, Hank and Margaret will be the lucky ones. If I’m wrong, my gut will be severely reprimanded, unless I’m wrong in the sense that my three favourites make it. Then I will be too busy dancing on my kitchen table to do anything else.
Which of Norway’s offerings would make you want to bump and grind on top of furniture? A.k.a. which are your favourites?
Who will be the host with the most?
And will they be able to outshine Anke Engelke? Half of those questions will be answered this Monday (!) when SVT reveals the lone wolf who will get to say those magical three words (that’s ‘Good evening, Europe!’ not ‘I love you’. That would be weird) to an audience of many in a few months’ time.
I think less can be more when it comes to the hosts, so the fact that it’s back to one after years of three doesn’t bother me. Three really was a crowd. The thing is, with the weight of scripted comedy and multi-lingual intros on one person’s shoulders, it has to be a really, really good person. Naturally, rumors of who it could be have been going around from the second of the single-host announcement, with everyone from Eric Saade (all the teenage girls on the planet) to the Swedish chef from The Muppets (me on Twitter) getting a mention. But it seems there’s one personality we all want, so here’s hoping SVT give us what we want and put the fabulous Sarah Dawn Finer in charge.
SDF has it all – she’s entertaining, fluent in multiple languages, an experienced hostess, and has a LMAO-worthy alter ego called Lynda Woodruff. Plus, she’s notably absent from hosting Melodifestivalen AND is apparently booked up for the entire first half of 2013…except for May. Coincidence? I think/hope not! Still, I wish it wasn’t too late to start a petition to get her the job.
The only equal alternative would be ABBA (counting them as one person, of course. They could stand on each other’s shoulders) which will never happen. But, if it turns out to be some random dude or dudette no-one outside Scandinavia has heard of, we should give them the benefit of the doubt, for they could be the next Anke. Like Lena, she came out of nowhere.
That’s the wrap for this evening, so I guess I’ll see you on the other side of DMGP and NMGP. Let me know what you’re thinking re: those finals, and who you’d like to see fronting Eurovision 2013. Please??
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:
- Stay by Tooji
- High on Love by Reidun Sæther
- Sailors by Lise Karlsnes
- Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
- Crush by Malin
- Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri
- Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors
- Things Change by Peter Øien & Bobby Bare
- Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
- 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.
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:
- Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
- Baby Doll by Top Cats
- I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén
- Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt
- Stormande Hav by Timoteij
- Shout It Out by David Lindgren
- Det Går För Långsamt by Mimi Oh
- 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.
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.
This weekend there may only be one country choosing their entry for Baku, but that single selection is the spark for a very long string of finals that will take us through to March, when Sweden will try to be the last to pick, only to have their thunder stolen at the last minute by a country whose original final was a disaster (probably Ukraine) or who just claimed they would premiere their song on a particular date but lied (probably Azerbaijan).
Basically, if you follow the NFs, you’re going to be busy for the next bajillion weeks. And for the next ten minutes or so, you’re going to be reading some predictions and previews of this weekend’s two major events…
Denmark is first and foremost, because DMGP is their one and only final – a concept Slovenia should perhaps take note of. With the traditional truckload of pre-ESC disqualifications came one from the Danes, and so there are just nine songs competing tomorrow night. There’s a nice variety of genres on offer, which is great but does make it harder to predict what’s going to happen re: The Results. I’m usually wrong when I make predictions in any case, so maybe I won’t worry too much about that…
- Take Our Hearts by Jesper
- Best Thing I Got by Aya
- Reach for the Sky by Kenneth Potempa
- Overflow by Ditte Marie
- Baby Love Me by Philip Halloun & Emilia
- Forever I B Young by Suriya
- Universe by Karen Viuff
- Should’ve Known Better by Soluna Samay
- Venter by Christian Brøns & Patrik Isaksson
Take Our Hearts – Jesper is adorable, and if he wins could well be the Paradise Oskar of 2012 (not in a musical way, but in a heart-melting, vote-magnetising way). I didn’t rate this song on the first listen, but on the second something clicked (and it wasn’t my wrists clicking with RSI from too much computer use).
Reach for the Sky – I’m reminded here of Switzerland’s entry in Moscow, The Highest Heights, however I think this song is a little less indie rock than that. It leans more towards mainstream dance, which could work in its favour.
Overflow – It could be Swedish superstar Robyn at the vocal helm of this vessel, but no – it’s Ditte Marie, formerly of Le Freak. This is catchy electro-dance pop that opens up all sorts of possibilities for an exciting stage show (including a wind machine, of course). I’d be happy for it to win.
Forever I B Young – Again, on the first listen, I didn’t get it. Danish dubstep on the precipice of Eurovision – who would’ve thought? But it’s fast becoming my favourite. It may be too complex and have too much attitude to win MGP or do well in Baku, but it’s something different.
Universe – If Suriya isn’t my favourite, then Karen definitely is. Well, her song is; I might hate her if I met her in person. Anyway, Universe is a top-notch up-tempo ballad, in my humble opinion. I like me a good ballad.
With only nine contenders, you’d think I’d be able to narrow down to one winner. You’d be wrong. Instead I’m narrowing it down to four, with Take Our Hearts, Best Thing I Got, Overflow or Universe my bets – although if I had to cut that down, I’d pick Take Our Hearts and Overflow.
Personally, I’ll be waving flags – a.k.a. sleeping because I can’t be asked to stay up all night – for Ditte Marie, Suriya and Karen, any of whom I’d be super duper thrilled to see on stage in May. Go ladies!
I get very excited about Scandinavian selections because I find them less likely to be hit-and-miss where the music’s concerned than others. So, despite not bothering to blog every five seconds about the heats and semis that have been happening practically since Düsseldorf, I thought I’d throw in something about Norway’s NF, the first semi of which is also on tomorrow.
If the majority of the eight songs in this semi are anything to go by, Norway is going to put on a show and a half. Let’s hope that when it comes to the final on February 11th, the winner will have a good chance of qualifying in the even bigger show.
Here’s the schedule for semi #1:
- Elevator by Irresistible feat. Carl Pritt
- Så Vidunderlig by Kim André Rysstad
- High On Love by Reidun Sæther
- You Break It, You Own It by Rudi Myntevik
- With Love by Lisa Stokke
- Little Bobbi by United
- Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri
- Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors
I’m liking Elevator, High On Love, Little Bobbi and Somewhere Beautiful a lot.
Elevator’s lyrics are shocking – it’s as if the writers have taken the crappiest, most clichéd lyrics from a bunch of other songs and made them into one big crappy, clichéd word-family. However, Elevator is also one of those contagious dance tracks that I listen to without caring a whole lot about the lyrics (something you’re probably surprised by given my abuse of the lyrics one sentence ago).
High On Love isn’t the most original thing I’ve ever heard either, but it’s catchy and accessible. Little Bobbi is a very original song, so much so that I wouldn’t know quite how to label it. Is it R & B? Is it ethno-pop? Is it pointless me even trying? What I do know is that I’m a big fan. It’s one of those songs that you know is going somewhere, and you have to pay attention to figure out where that is. I’d like to say it’s going to the MGP final.
Somewhere Beautiful reminds me of a musical, which in turn reminds me ofLithuania’s ESC entry last year, and that is not a good thing. But Nora’s (studio) voice is amazing and in the end this is a good, if derivative, ballad that begs for mist and chiffon and ponies and candy floss and…okay, maybe not the last few.
As there’s no second chance round in Norway this year, the top three from each semi will get a ticket to the final. I’m going to harness my faulty incredible psychic powers now and predict that Så Vidunderlig, High On Love and Don’t Touch the Flame (which is my least favourite and so is bound to get through) will advance.
HELLLOOOOOOOO to those of you still reading this rather long post. Don’t worry, I’m just about done. In fact, I’m completely done.
Enjoy your weekend, and goooodbyyyyyye!
PS – Upcoming NFs: Cyprus(Jan 25th); Belarus (Jan 31st); Malta (Feb 4th)