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AWESOME ESC ALMOSTS | My top 10 songs of the 2017 selection season

Just because national final season ended back in March doesn’t mean we should forget about it, right? After all, every year brings with it a fresh batch of boss music for us fans to add to our respective playlists, and the happy-dances danced as a result of that can last forever. AND this is all before Eurovision itself even begins! I think I speak for all of us when I say – as a totally unknown band called ABBA once said – thank you for the music, NF season.

There’s no better way to top off a thanks than with a top 10, in my opinion – so here we are. It might seem like I’m just crazy late in posting this countdown, but now is a good time to pay tribute to the 2017 selection season: firstly, because it’s Thursday and I’m a big supporter of #ThrowbackThursday (check my Instagram if you don’t believe me); and secondly, because it’s not long until the results of this year’s OGAE Second Chance Contest are revealed. It turns out that half of my favourite tracks from the recent run of national finals were chosen to compete in the SCC, so I guess I’m not as alternative as I thought. Damn.

The lone rule for this list? I only allowed myself to pick one song from any particular country – so you’re not about to see Melfest song after Melfest song. Keep reading to find out which Eurovision could-have-beens I fell in love with this season, and how I think they would have fared in Kyiv compared to the songs that actually ended up there. And don’t forget to share your personal favourite songs in the comments!

 

 

#10 | Two Faces by Michéle (Switzerland)

NF result 3rd, Die Entscheidungsshow

Is it better than Apollo? No, but…apples and oranges.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? Definitely not, though I like to think it would have been staged better than Apollo.

I’m sorry to have to say this, but I know I’m not the only one who’s come to expect a certain level of sub-standardness when reviewing the Swiss national finalists each year. 2017 was an exception in that the final bunch of songs – bar one – were actually more than mediocre. My favourite, Apollo aside, was pocket rocket Michéle’s Two Faces, which took me by surprise given how mod-pop it is. It’s not a perfect production, and my inner jury’s still out on whether the ‘sugar and salt’ analogy is good or awkward…but damn, this is catchy. And even though it does sound radio-friendly, I’ve never heard anything quite like it before.

 

#9 | Helppo Elämä by Lauri Yrhjola (Finland)

NF result 8th, Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu

Is it better than Blackbird? No, but again it’s hard to compare the two.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? Probably not.

If this song was sung in English (or Swedish), it would have been right at home in the Melodifestivalen line-up. That’s a big compliment from me meaning it’s a) slickly produced pop, b) minty-fresh radio material, and c) gets stuck in your head like it’s made of super glue. The fact that it’s in Finnish, though, further set it apart in the UMK field, and adds to the aloof kind of cool it projects. The fusion of country twang and electro sounds is very Avicii, and gives it an automatic x-factor. For me, it was the NF character that speaks its own language (literally) and has little hope of winning, but will inevitably end up on my selection season playlist. There’s at least one of those in every national final.

Watch the NF performance here.

 

#8 | I Wish I Loved You More by Holly Brewer (United Kingdom)

NF result Unknown, Eurovision: You Decide

Is it better than Never Give Up On You? No, but it’s less of an identity-crisis song.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? Nope.

You guys know mama loves her female power ballads (when they’re good ones…I am fairly discerning). Why do you think I was such an enthusiastic member of Team Denmark this year? Speaking of blonde powerhouse vocalists, here’s Holly Brewer, who sang the shiz out of the sensational PB that is I Wish I Loved You More. I can admit that this sort of song had its heyday circa 2007, but the genre never stopped floating my boat. I love that IWILYM promises to become something dynamic and explosive, and then delivers – first with big + bold choruses, then with that money note that you KNOW is coming, but it still packs a punch when it arrives. It’s a knockout (and so is Holly, on whom I have a raging girl crush).

 

#7 | Heart of Gold by BQL

NF result 2nd, EMA

Is it better than On My Way ? HELL YEAH!

Would it have done better in Kyiv? HELL YEAH!

BQL (made up of two musos who are apparently blood brothers…who’d have guessed?) broke hearts throughout the Euroverse when they failed to get Slovenia’s golden ticket in 2017 – Slovenia’s fault, obvs. Okay, so their live performance was a little rough around the edges, while Omar Naber’s was flawless (it was another Margaret/Michał Szpak situation). And Heart of Gold itself is a bit all-over-the-place as a song, needing a restructure and a revamp. But like everything created by Maraaya, it has SO much going for it. Simple but effective lyrics, and not one, but about five epic melodies, for example. If it had won EMA and undergone a pre-ESC facelift, wonderful things might have happened to a country that has now chosen two questionable entries in a row.

Watch the NF performance here.

 

#6 | One by Ida Una (Denmark)

NF result 2nd, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix

Is it better than Where I Am? Not according to moi.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? I have to say yes (but I don’t want to).

Here’s a prime example of the safe, sugary pop songs that dominate DMGP – and this one is actually about love and peace (I don’t know if Måns and Petra would approve or be appalled). I’m not normally a supporter of either cookie-cutter music or lame lyrics, but I have totally dug the vibe of Ida Una’s One since day one. The lyrics are the main drawback, because everything else is very Scandi-2017…and how about the insane singalong-ability of the chorus? It turns one word into ten syllables, making it a surefire hook without it being too simplistic. I was pretty convinced this track was going to Kyiv because it’s right up Denmark’s street, and I wouldn’t have minded that result since the song is right up my street too.

 

#5 | Places by Ulrikke (Norway)

NF result 4th, Melodi Grand Prix

Is it better than Grab The Moment? No, but it’s a close call.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? I think it would have finished just outside the top 10, so no.

I wouldn’t willingly swap Grab The Moment – one of my true ESC 2017 loves – for anything. But if I had to for some random reason, I’d have sent Ulrikke’s Places to Ukraine in a heartbeat. That’d be on the condition that Norway totally rethought the MGP staging of the song, which wasn’t nearly ‘tropical beach party WOOHOO’ enough. Places itself, though, is a JAM – a summer jam that I’m being forced to play in winter as I imagine being by the ocean. My buzzwords for this countdown have been ‘current’ and ‘catchy’, and I have to use them again to describe this because it has bucketloads of both. More so than Dansk MGP and Melodifestivalen, Norsk MGP tends to deliver on pop with a bit of edge, and pop that’s very now – not squeaky-clean, sugary or safe. Places is an excellent example of that, I reckon.

Watch the NF performance here.

 

#4 | Hold On by Nano (Sweden)

NF result 2nd, Melodifestivalen

Is it better than I Can’t Go On? In some ways, yes. In others, no.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? Nope – I think it would have done the same thing.

As you may or may not know (have I mentioned it often enough? I’m not sure…) I was in the audience for the Melfest final this year – and holy Herreys, it was amazing! I didn’t quite get the happy ending I was hoping for, however, as someone supporting Nano rather than Robin. Don’t get me wrong (Bengtsson lyrical pun intended), Sweden NEVER puts a foot wrong at Eurovision IMO (2009 excepted). But Hold On gets to me in a goosebumpy way that the perfectly-polished I Can’t Go On never did. Maybe it’s because it seems more authentic, or because it’s more dynamic and powerful. Or maybe it’s just a cracking song that appeals a teensy bit more to my tastes. Whatever the case, I can’t help being disappointed that Nano was Sweden’s choice to go to Eurovision, but got pipped at the post anyway.

 

#3 | I Love You by Tayanna (Ukraine)

NF result 2nd, Vidbir

Is it better than Time? Absolutely.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? For sure, providing Tayanna’s throat was in full functioning order at the time.

There were a handful of massively missed opportunities during the 2017 selection season, and sadly, host country Ukraine was responsible for one of them. I can understand how it happened, though. The Ukrainian final was super strong, with Tayanna, Mélovin and Rozhden being my personal standouts – but Tayanna’s incredible power ballad (here I go again with the PB love) was the cream of the crop…prior to that final. Tragically, her vocal ability was compromised by some sort of illness when she needed it most, leading to a performance full of cringe-worthy moments. That’s not the performance above – I had to choose the video of Tayanna at her best since it helps me to daydream about how I Love You would have been one of the best and most wildly-applauded host entries of recent times. Oh, and how it would have given Ukraine a respectable result without forcing another fork-out of contest hosting funds.

 

#2 | Ouch! By LeKlein (Spain)

NF result 3rd, Objetivo Eurovisión

Is it better than Do It For Your Lover? Well, yeah. I’d say ‘What isn’t?’ but that would be unnecessarily cruel to Manel and also not technically true.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? You bet your butt it would have!

EPIC ERROR ALERT NO. 3!!! Call this a controversial call, but if Spain made any mistake at their NF this year (which they did, though when I say ‘Spain’ I mean the Objetivo judging panel) it wasn’t picking Manel over Mirela. It was leaving LeKlein in 3rd, which definitely made me say Ouch! She might not have been everybody’s cup of sangria, but I’m convinced Ouch! was the best option for Spain in 2017, and would have secured them a spot on the left side of the scoreboard (I can say that with authority because there’s no way of proving me wrong). This song is an anthem of rock-electro-pop proportions, with a sense of fun and a simple hook that would have been memorable in the Eurovision final for sure. Unless, that is, I’m the minority and everyone else would have seen an aggressive androgynous woman yelling at them down the camera for three minutes #possible.

Watch the NF performance here.

 

#1 | Deák by Spoon 21 (Hungary)

NF result DNQ (semi-final), A Dal

Is it better than Origo? It’s equally epic.

Would it have done better in Kyiv? No.

Funnily enough, I’m glad this song – my favourite find from the 2017 season – didn’t end up at the ESC. Spoon 21’s live performance just wasn’t up to scratch, and that was all to do with vocals. Hungary still would have sent my number one entry of the year if they’d sent Deák instead of Origo, but you’ll never catch me disputing Joci Pápai’s place in the contest. Still, as a song for listening to (ten times a day) Deák is superb. It’s the most K-pop sounding NF song I’ve ever heard, and I love it for that. It’s unique, infectious and gets a zillion cool points just by being in Hungarian. And speaking of cool points, I feel like a cooler person just listening to it – it’s a little bit hipster but mainstream enough to have mass appeal. All in all, it’s a kickass track that proves Spoon 21 – who entered A Dal 2015 with something completely different – isn’t a one-trick pony boy band.

Watch the NF performance here.

 

 

So, how did I do? Do you think any of these songs would have made better Eurovision entries than what we actually got? Which musical masterpieces from A Dal to Vidbir and every NF in-between got you excited this year? If you have something (nice) to say, say it in the comments box below J

I’d better go now – it’s time for daily listen no. 10 of Déak, and I can’t keep Spoon 21 waiting.

 

 

 

 

The Final Super Saturday: Discussing the songs of the week and the songs still to come!

Bonjour. It’s been a week since my last post, which at this point in time means approximately 1 345 599 things of significance have happened within the Eurovision bubble. So let’s get straight on to discussing the chaos of the past seven days, plus the action coming your way this weekend and beyond.

 

Since we last spoke…

…a lot of countries have chosen for Copenhagen. Quite a few of them premiered entries for the artists they picked what feels like years ago, with the rest emerging from national finals on top. Here are my initial thoughts on a bunch of the last week’s selections/revelations, in alphabetical order (the best kind!).

Firstly, the NF winners:

  • Denmark: It’s a Cliché Love Song that will represent the home country, with the adorable Basim in the driver’s seat. Damn, it’s catchy, with those shoobi-doobis. Denmark made the right decision out of the three songs that made the DMGP super-final. Bring on the Bruno Mars comparisons, because both Bruno and Basim are awesome.
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Bruno Mars! Oh wait. It's actually Basim.

Just to clarify, this is a photo of Basim…NOT Bruno Mars.

  • Germany: Speaking of right decisions…Is It Right? Yes, it is. Wildcard act Elaiza took out Unser Song Für Dänemark on Thursday with that aptly titled track, and after recapping the other songs Germany could have chosen, I think they made the best choice. That’s not a compliment, considering how weak the lineup was IMO. Are Germany losing the plot again? Where is Stefan Raab when you need him?
  • Greece: The hosts of 2006 have come up with another slice of trumpeting fun in Rise Up by Freaky Fortune feat. Riskykidd. The pros? It’s trumpeting fun (as aforementioned), it made me want to shake something, and all three of these guys are hot. The cons? Apparently the live performance was laughably bad. I haven’t had the guts to see it for myself yet, but I hope either a) that’s not true, or b) they can sort it out by May-time.
  • Sweden: First off, the Melfest final was the first and only one I plan to watch live this season, and it was AMAZING. There was a strong field in the end despite some major casualties in the semis. It was thought to be Ace Wilder’s for the taking, and I would have enjoyed that, having prepared myself for Sanna Nielsen to lose yet again. But Team Sanna rejoice, because she finally came out on top! It was a narrow victory plagued by technical difficulties, but she’s got the trophy at last, and she’s off to the ESC. Undo is stunning as far as I’m concerned, and it’s definitely in my top 3 heading into this last big weekend of national finals.
Forget 'third time lucky.' Sanna's all about lucky number seven.

Forget third time lucky; Sanna’s all about lucky number seven.

And now, the song premieres:

  • Armenia: Aram Mp3’s entry Not Alone is the latest to have been publicised, with Aram himself being one of those acts announced back when most of us were still in nappies. Was it worth the wait? Well, after one listen, I can say I rather like it. It starts off a little repetitive and humble, but builds into something dramatic. The contrast is good. All in all (right now) it’s a definite step up from the Lonely Planet double-denim gang.
  • Georgia: Three Minutes To Earth by The Shin & Mariko has been released, and it’s…interesting. ‘Interesting’ in this instance of course means ‘confusing and painful and makes me miss off-the-shelf Swedish ballads.’ Just, no.  
  • Montenegro: Sergej Četković will sing Moj Svijet in Denmark, which is a very nice Balkan ballad that actually makes me miss Serbia a little less because it’s very Serbia-like. It also reminds me a bit of Korake Ti Znam, which qualified against the odds. I’m not convinced Montenegro can get to the final for the first time with this, though. It could be too nondescript.
  • The Netherlands: The Common Linnets have gone country with The Calm After The Storm, which will be a refreshingly peaceful three minutes on stage. I find country music very soothing, so even though this entry isn’t particularly dynamic, I’ve taken to it straight away, which didn’t happen to me with Birds.
  • San Marino: Valentina version 3.0 was a personal letdown. Maybe (Forse) is unlikely to make it third time lucky for her. I like it less than both of her previous entries, neither of which I was ever that keen on. Boring and dated are the key words here.

 

Tonight: four more songs?

I put a question mark on the end of that because Azerbaijan is involved this evening, and based on reputation, they could keep us all hanging on their song choice for longer than scheduled. Dilara Kazimova won her country’s final a few weeks ago with an original song, which could or could not be the song she takes to Eurovision. I haven’t listened to that song (Impossible) in case I hate it and it’s picked, or love it and it’s not picked, etc. But this is Azerbaijan we’re talking about – I’m not eager to go to Baku again just yet, but you can never discount them because they know how Eurovision is successfully done.

One country that’s had trouble in that area is Moldova, who seem to be cursed with not quite hitting the heights of the top 10 when they qualify to the final, often alongside neighbours Romania. Their final – O Melodie Pentru Europa – takes place tonight, and as is often the case, I suspect I’m going to like what comes out of it a lot more than I like what came out of the Romanian final (which was no Miracle for me). I haven’t followed their selection this year, mainly because of my current time deficiency (thanks a lot, university) so I’m sorry I can’t say anything about how epic/crappy/both the line-up is for 2014. But Moldova usually gives us a bit of quirk, and I have loved them the last couple of years. Fingers crossed they pick another weird and wonderful song from this selection:

  1. One And All by Diana Staver
  2. Energy by Doiniţa Gherman
  3. Perfect Day by Boris Covali
  4. I’m Yours by Tatiana Heghea
  5. Frozen by Lucia S
  6. Vis by Margarita Ciorici & Metafora
  7. Dragostea Divină by Ana Cernicova
  8. Forever by Edict
  9. Never Stop No by FLUX LIGHT
  10. Urme De Iubiri by Aurel Chirtoacă
  11. Fragmente by Paralela 47
  12. Hallelujah by Diana Brescan
  13. Follow Your Dreams by Mikaella
  14. Your Recovery by Curly
  15. Wild Soul by Cristina Scarlat
  16. The Way I Do by Felicia Dunaf

 

Also tonight, it’s the final of Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix…another one I haven’t had time to follow (if you came to this post for reviews and predictions, I really am sorry). I’m not convinced there are any Adeléns or Margaret Bergers amongst the group left standing, with the few snippets I’ve heard being quite dull (aside from Mo’s song, which isn’t the peak of originality but still appeals). But innocent until proven guilty, right? I.e., the potential for a great entry is there until a rubbish one wins. Here are the tracks Norway have to choose from:

  1. Ain’t No Love (In This City No More) by El Cuero
  2. Sole Survivor by Elisabeth Carew
  3. Taste of You by Knut Kippersund Nesdal
  4. Needs by Dina Misund
  5. Heal by Mo
  6. High Hopes by Linnea Dale
  7. Hit Me Up by Charlie
  8. Silent Storm by Carl Espen
  9. Sing by Oda & Wulff
Who's going to win? And would they look as good in this dress as the Bergster?

Who’s going to win? And would they look as good in this dress as the Bergster?

I know one big favourite is Silent Storm, also one of the snippets I listened to that bored me. But you can’t judge a song on a snippet, so if he’s the one, I’ll give him a chance to grow. Those of you who’ve listened to more than previews, let me know below who’s going to represent Norway this year!

 

While you’re at it, feel free to tell me the same re: Portugal. Festival da Canção comes to an end tonight, and let’s hope the result is a triumphant return for a country who took a year’s vacation from the ESC. Surprise, surprise, I haven’t heard a single Portuguese offering yet, so the winner will be a total mystery to me until I press play on their victorious performance. I remember Catarina Pereira from a few years ago, and her status as a former runner-up could give her a boost this time. She’s back with another Andrej Babić creation, and some questionable footwear according to Twitter. We’ll see how she and the others go.

  1. Ao Teu Encontro by Rui Andrade
  2. Mea Culpa by Catarina Pereira
  3. Nas Asas Da Sorte by Zana
  4. Sonhos Roubados by Raquel Guerra
  5. Quero Se Tua by Suzy

All I can say is good luck to everyone…so long as they’ve got a decent song to offer!

 

What’s left of the N-Fs?

Not much at all, people! Post-tonight, there’s only one actual televised final left, and that belongs to Belgium. Eurosong concludes Sunday night, and will hopefully be worth all the pre-final casting and filtering programs. The winning song will have to be damn good to rival my killer love for Love Kills, which I maintain kicked butt. The fact that it got Belgium out of the semis and almost within top 10 range is testament to that. Will the burst of confidence from that result carry through to another impressive (by Belgian standards) showing? I for one am hoping so.

Belgium aside, there are only two countries remaining without complete entries. Austria will allegedly reveal Conchita Wurst’s song on Tuesday, which I’m not exactly enthusiastic for. I can’t imagine it will be anything but a stereotypical Eurovision schlager anthem, and even if it wasn’t, it’s too hard to take someone who looks like an unshaven Kim Kardashian seriously. I admire Miss Wurst in many ways, but I just don’t believe she’s going to do Austria any favours in terms of results.

Conchita is a thing of beauty, but she's also bizarre.

Conchita is a thing of beauty, but she’s also bizarre.

That leaves Russia – controversial Russia. Everything bar music aside, I’m intrigued as to whether they will actually send JESC 2006 champs the Tolmachevy Twins to the contest, as initially stated. I got super excited at that prospect, only to have it snatched away shortly after the fact, so I’m on edge at the moment. I have this feeling we can expect a good effort from Russia, or at the very least something less cheesy than What If (a song with peace-advocating lyrics that now seem rather ironic). Not that it would be difficult to contribute something less cheesy than that.

 

When Russia finally makes its decision (and providing Azerbaijan have also) that’s it. We’ll have our Class of ’14. That’s when the real fun – namely arguing about who’s going to win/qualify, why your taste sucks and mine is fabulous, and lamenting the loss of many amazeballs national finalists – can begin! We’re less than eight weeks away from the first semi final, if you can believe that, and there are a lot of nostalgic (aah, Malmö!) and prediction-based (TwinTwin for the winwin!) things to cram in to that time frame. Join me for the frenzy, won’t you?

In the meantime, enjoy the last Super Saturday of the season.

EBJ Signature

 

PS – I almost forgot to mention THE best news of the week. Australian peeps, get excited, and everyone else, get jealous. This year our broadcaster SBS is holding a televised Eurovision quiz show called The Eurovision Quiz Contest (shocking). Details are still a bit fuzzy (i.e. I’m not sure how many parts there’ll be) but filming starts this weekend, and we can expect the show to be on TV around Eurovision time. YAY! I’m so excited for this, and once again proud of SBS for giving Eurovision the limelight it deserves. If it turns out you can watch the show online internationally, I’ll post the link ASAP so y’all non-Aussies can check it out.

 

Selection Season Day 4: Finland and Norway choose, Melfest continues

Hello again, and välkommen to another overview of some of the action taking place this weekend. After a week of random revelations, it’s nice to focus on some ESC-related things that were actually scheduled. By tomorrow, we’ll have two more entries for Malmö and two more finalists from Melodifestivalen. All four of them can be found somewhere down there…but not necessarily in my predictions. Please read on without taking them too seriously!

 

UMK, or TFOFNF – the final of Finland’s national final

Finland, I am not amused. Or enthused. Yes, I may have drawn that conclusion from a dodgy online recap of your final crammed with fifteen-second snippets of the offerings for 2013, but I know personally if I’m going to be excited by something, it will happen within fifteen seconds.

That’s not to say – and I’m talking to you guys again, not Finland – that UMK has nothing good up for grabs this year. And at least you have a chance of finding the good stuff in a field of only eight songs. Take note, Malta!

Here are the eight:

  1. Lost by Arion
  2. He’s Not My Man by Elina Orkoneva
  3. Dancing All Around The Universe by Lucy Was Driving
  4. Marry Me by Krista Siegfrids
  5. Saturday Night Forever by Last Panda
  6. We Should Be Through by Mikael Saari
  7. Flags by Great Wide North
  8. Colliding Into You by Diandra

I’m getting decent vibes from Arion, Elina and Diandra in terms of song quality, but in the absence of full-length song knowledge, I’m going to predict a winner based completely rationally on song title. I’m sure this isn’t the first time someone’s done it.

So, who looks promising? By my standards, Dancing All Around The Universe gets a tick. So do Mikael and Diandra, whose names are probably more interesting than their song titles, but who still count.

Can you give me a more informed take on who should/will win UMK? If you’re reading this after it’s happened, then obviously you can.

 

Norsk MGP: three down, one to go

Nine qualifiers and one lucky (lips) wildcard later, and NMGP is about to crown a hopefully more successful successor to Tooji. This is a much stronger ultimate line-up than Finland’s despite the hideousness voted through from the first semi, and I have some firm favourites. But looking back on the last few years of the Norwegian selection, there seems to be no way of accurately guessing the outcome – sometimes, the acts that won their semis don’t even get a look in to the super final, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, Tooji came 2nd in his heat. When you think about it, the winner could be any one of these:

  1. Paid My Way by Vidar Busk
  2. Ulvetuva by Fjellfolk
  3. Bombo by Adelén
  4. Alone by Gromth feat. Emil Solli-Tangen
  5. Awake by Gaute Ormåsen
  6. Sweet and Heavy by Lucky Lips
  7. The Underground by Datarock
  8. I’m With You by Annsofi
  9. I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger
  10. I Love You Te Quiero by Sirkus Eliassen

That abovementioned super final will feature the four top-ranking songs from an initial round of voting, and the winner will be whichever of those scores the highest from a combined jury and public vote. At risk of going with some too-predictable options (I like to live dangerously and be on the safe side at the same time) I’m earmarking Gromth, Datarock, Annsofi and Margaret for the super final.

Datarock are in there purely for the sake of randomness. I don’t like their song that much, and I don’t think they really deserve to get so far, but I’m always confused by the stuff that gets through in NMGP.

Gromth & Emil are my hands-down LEAST favourite, so for the unsuspecting eardrums of Europe, don’t let them win, Norway!

Annsofi is a force to be reckoned with thanks to her association with Alexander Rybak. Her vocals weren’t exactly perfect, and the song sounds like one that could get boring very quickly, but I wouldn’t mind if she won.

Finally, Margaret is amazing in every way, and I don’t get all the criticism about her dress. I would LOVE her to win. Norway would have a very edgy, unique entry if she did, and you know what? I think she will.

Will M. Berg be looking this happy after tonight’s final?

That’s right; I’m predicting girl power to prevail this evening. What say you?

 

Melodifestivalen marches on

Melfest? More like mehfest! I never thought I’d say something like that about my beloved Swedish final, but let’s face it: last week’s semi was a bit crap. Still, there is a chance the hosts will redeem themselves tonight with a semi that includes:

  • the poor man’s Eric Saade/Danny Saucedo
  • a triple whammy of schlager divas
  • a duet between the ‘E’ of EMD and a Norwegian pop princess
  • the return of a banana-loving, fake chest-hair-wearing comedian

It can’t go wrong…right?

  1. Begging by Anton Ewald
  2. Make Me No. 1 by Felicia Olsson
  3. Annelie by Joacim Cans
  4. On Top of the World by Swedish House Wives
  5. Hello Goodbye by Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli
  6. Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream by Louise Hoffsten
  7. En Förlorad Sommar by Rikard Wolff
  8. Copacabanana by Sean Banan

Well, I think it’s safe to say that Sweden do NOT want to win Eurovision again so soon. If not, then I have to question the musical taste of the people who narrowed down all the entries submitted for MF to just 32. Feel free to question my musical taste as I narrow the above eight down to a top four:

Begging This is oh-so-predictable dance pop with a dubstep break a la everything. But that’s enough to make it one of my favourites in yet another average semi. With such a high production level in studio, Anton could totally destroy it live, but even so he’s got a good chance of going straight to Globen.

On Top of the World Here are those schlager divas with a clubtastic song penned by the Euphoria team of Boström and G:son. It’s one of the best things going, if not the most original.

The SHW star power is blinding. MY EYES, MY EYES!!

The SHW star power is blinding. MY EYES!!!

Hello Goodbye I am so grateful for Erik and Tone for not doing dance. This is my favourite of the semi by far. It’s a nice little slice of guitar pop which actually makes breaking up with someone sound appealing.

Copacabanana Yes, I know that this is a carbon copy of Sean’s entry of 2012…but I loved that, and in such a poor field I can easily love this too. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it probably has offensive lyrics, but I don’t understand enough Swedish to know for sure.

Now to try and make up for my dreadful MF predicting last weekend!

I’m gazing into my dust-covered crystal ball, and it’s telling me…Swedish House Wives and Erik & Tone to the final, with Anton and Joacim heading off to Andra Chansen. There. Now I can blame the crystal ball for everything, unless it was right in which case all the credit will be attributed to ‘Jaz, with absolutely no help whatsoever from any kind of prophetic device’.

Your turn – who’s got the right stuff to get to the final, and who deserves a second chance?

 

That’s it from me for this Super-ish Saturday. Enjoy whichever final you’re tuning into, and enjoy whatever else you’re doing if you can’t be bothered. Bring on the results!

EBJ Signature

 

Selection Season Day 3: Icelandic, Maltese and Scandinavian action

Do you know what day it is? No, it isn’t some important anniversary that you’ve forgotten about (although, if you missed my birthday last year I’m still not speaking to you. Harumph!). It is, of course, Super Saturday – the first Super Saturday of the selection season. Tonight, both Iceland and Malta wrap up their national finals (which for Malta pretty much means going through the same lengthy process that they did for last night’s semi), Norway gives away three more spots in the MGP final, and host country Sweden kicks off my absolute favourite NF, Melodifestivalen.* Boy, there is going to be a lot of results to squeal about/be horrified by on Sunday morning! That’s if you aren’t planning on watching any of the finals. For those who are otherwise engaged or just need their beauty sleep, and those who will be tuning in, here’s an overview of the SS schedule, with 23% more picks and predictions and no added sugar.

* I know there are even more things happening, but I am just a mere mortal and can’t feasibly cover them all. Sob.  

 

Söngvakeppnin: Who will follow Salomé (and Jónsi)?

Honestly, I haven’t got a heap to say about Iceland at this point. I’ve decided to make Söngvakeppnin one of the finals for which I don’t listen to all the songs and get my hopes up about which one I want to win, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t. This year, I’ll be listening to the island’s rep for the first time with zero expectations…unless it’s Birgitta. There’ll be a few expectations there.

Anyway, this is the field of competitors who’ll be battling it out for a ticket to Malmö:

  1. Ekki Líta Undan by Magni Ásgeirsson
  2. Lífið Snýst by Svavar & Hreindís
  3. Ég á Líf by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson
  4. Meðal Andanna by Birgitta Haukdal
  5. Til þín by Jógvan Hansen & Stefanía Svavarsdóttir
  6. Vinátta by Haraldur Reynisson
  7. Ég Syng! by Unnur Eggertsdóttir

Lucky number one Magni was the wildcard finalist, so it’s unlikely he’ll win. That’s good news for the others, who now have a 1 in 6 chance of success. Kind of.

And that’s about it from me, apart from a warning I feel I must give you: try not to fall in love with the Icelandic version of the winning song, won’t you? It will no doubt be rewritten in or reverted back to English about five seconds after the reprise. 

 

Malta’s mini ESC

Ah, Malta. Malta and their strange, strange ways. It is a mystery to me why they even have a semi final when they don’t use it to weed out all of the average stuff. Last night, as always, the initial round took place and zapped many people of the will to live with its immense length. 16 of the 24 entries made it through to the final (what an achievement! The odds were in nobody’s favour!) and tonight will be more of the same. Or slightly less of the same, it’s still a ridiculous setup. The less songs there are to choose from, the less chance voters are going to make a mistake, right?

Well, it is what it is, and what it is…well, is, a mammoth final full of artists we’ve seen try to get to Eurovision time and time again – Richard Edwards, Dorothy Bezzina, Claudia Faniello and Amber, to name a few. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them come out on top. But the one I want most for Malmö is Kevin Borg, who tried to represent Malta before he moved to Sweden…and won Swedish Idol. That win means two things – firstly, he can sing and sing well, and secondly, if he goes to Eurovision the Swedish public will probably back him – and that bodes well for a decent Maltese showing. 

Kevin Borg, trying to locate the end of the MESC national final

Kevin Borg, trying to locate the end of the MESC national final

Of course, what I want and what we’ll get are very different things, and since I haven’t had a spare 5364849 hours to listen to all of Malta’s options, anyone could win. I just hope the best choice possible is made.

 

Norsk MGP, semi number three

There are just four places left in the Norwegian final for 2013 – three for tonight’s qualifiers and one for a usually random and undeserving wildcard. This last semi has a bit of everything to choose from: soft-metal, dance, country, pop-rock, tropical hip-hop…you get the picture. I’ve found I can’t trust Norway to choose the best offerings (IMO) when there’s a lot of same-same, so it will be interesting to see where the votes go here.

  1. Utopia by Gothminister
  2. Bombo by Adelén
  3. Sweet and Heavy by Lucky Lips
  4. Awake by Gaute Ormåsen
  5. The Young by Anina
  6. Not Afraid by Winta
  7. I Love You Te Quiero by Sirkus Eliassen

These are the entries I’d be texting my thumbs off for if I could:

Bombo – I knew I was going to love this just from the title, and if you liked Mandinga in Baku you’ll probably love it too. It has more of a dance feel than Zaleilah, but it’s a similarly irresistible fusion of Spanish and English that will get you bum-shaking in no time. Norway has sent ethno-pop to the ESC two years in a row now, and I’d be thrilled if they did it again.

Awake – this is unassuming, radio-friendly fodder that could get stuck in the semi just as easily as it could slip into the final. But it’s enjoyable to listen to, and in this instance that’s enough for me.

I Love You Te Quiero a Norwegian version of Trackshittaz, anyone? This is another (part) Spanglish gem with a super catchy chorus, and is one of the few almost guaranteed to be as good live as it is in studio. Watch out for these guys.

 So those are my preferences. But (you knew that was coming) I’m predicting advancement for Gothminister, Lucky Lips and Anina this evening, with Anina the only one of the three I wouldn’t mind winning MGP. At the moment, the forerunners are Gromth and Margaret Berger, who won their respective semis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Last year, Tooji placed second in his semi before storming to victory in the final. So if your favourite song didn’t beat all the others, don’t despair.

 

Last, but not at all least: Melodifestivalen!  

If you can hear woo-hooing from wherever you are right now, it’s just me. I am SO pumped for Melfest, and I can’t believe how fast it has rolled around.

melodifestivalen2013ql1_

Semi #1 will be held in Karlskrona, and whilst most of the artists I’m dying to see are in later semis, the lineup is impressive. And here it is.

  1. Skyline by David Lindgren
  2. Burning Flags by Cookies ‘N’ Beans
  3. Paris by Jay-Jay Johanson
  4. Gosa by Mary N’diaye
  5. Vi Kommer Aldrig Att Förlora by Eric Gadd
  6. Heartbreak Hotel by YOHIO
  7. Porslin by Anna Järvinen
  8. We’re Still Kids by Michael Feiner & Caisa

As I write this, it’s mid-afternoon and the full songs are yet to be released, so I’ll have to get back to you with my picks and predictions in a few hours.

A few hours later…

I’m back! And sorry to say, quite disappointed. The first semi of Melfest 2012 was all ‘bam! Bam! BAM!’, the bams naturally representing one awesome song after another. This year, it was more like ‘poof. Poof. Poof?’ However, I don’t believe you can 100% make up your mind on a song by the first listen, so I’ll wait for these to grow on me. The best at this point, for me, are:

Burning Flags this is a side of Fredrik Kempe I don’t think I’ve seen before, but I like it. The chorus is killer (though I don’t get how anyone’s supposed to see those burning flags if their eyes are closed) and the whole thing is generally powerful. I mean, it makes me feel like I could bench press my couch or something.

Gosa no other song in Melfest this year is likely to have the title repeated in it as often as this. It’s tribal, it’s dance, it’s a little bit nuts…I’m sold.

Heartbreak Hotel can I just take a second to say what a beautiful creature YOHIO is? He is a stunning example of androgynous flesh. Anyway, his entry is more hardcore than you’d expect, but far from reaching the hideousness level of Gromth in MGP. The bridge kicks butt.

We’re Still Kids is that Epic Sax Guy I hear backing Michael and Caisa? Unfortunately not, but this song makes me think of him and that’s good enough.

Now, who will go where? In case you’re a Melfest newbie, there are two final tickets up for grabs per semi, as well as two spots in the Andra Chansen (Second Chance) round. And I’m about to tell you who’ll get them. Maybe.

For the final, it’s Cookies ‘N’ Beans (also known as Biscuits ‘N’ Lentils) and YOHIO as far as I’m concerned, but I’m also prepared to be spectacularly wrong. I think we’ll see a Timoteij situation with David Lindgren, who’ll go to Andra alongside Anna Järvinen.

Or will he…because I can never ever be sure.

 

If you’re still there, congrats on making it all the way through this post, and I’m sorry if I sucked more energy out of you than the Maltese semi. There’s just so much happening in ESC-land as we speak, I could ramble on about it for ages. And basically have.

See you on the other side of Super Saturday!

EBJ Signature

 

Selection Season Day 2: The Danish final, another MGP semi + the mystery of the 2013 host

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!

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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?

  1. Det Vakje Mi Tid by Martin Blomvik
  2. I’m With You by Annsofi
  3. On Hold by Shackles
  4. No One by Hank
  5. Ulvetuva by Fjellfolk
  6. Shine With Me by Haji
  7. 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.

This is the only face I want to see staring back at me when I'm watching Eurovision this year.

This is the only face I want to see staring back at me when I’m watching Eurovision this year.

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??

EBJ Signature

 

Selection Season Day 14: My picks of the 2012 national final runner-ups

When you’re suffering from a case of PENFSD (Post-Eurovision National Final Season Depression) which is not as devastating as PED (figure that one out yourself) but still difficult to deal with, don’t despair; you can still sift through the songs from said NF season and find some new music to lift your spirits.

Doing so is one of my favourite parts of the pre-ESC period, but as a (sometimes) busy woman I have to mainly focus on the songs that could have been – the second-placers. With that, I bring you the best runner-ups of 2012!

The list is a personal one, of course, so feel free to tell me how silly I am for excluding so-and-so from Somewhere. But this is my top five:

 

#1 Dance by Max Barskih (Ukraine)

What I like: A shorter answer would be to the question ‘What don’t I like’. Ukraine left a cracker behind in this, a song that could have provided a winning formula: good-looking guy + eyeliner + super catchy club track + for God’s sake this is UKRAINE = douze points in a nutshell. How this didn’t win the NF I will never understand. Couldn’t the whole thing have gone to the dogs like it usually does so Max could step up and represent, in both the Eurovision and ghetto senses of the word?  

If Max had beaten Gaitana, I would: be waving a Ukrainian flag from my couch come May, because this song kicks total butt! As it stands, Gaitana’s not quite flag-worthy, although I might wave an imaginary one for her if I can be bothered. Imaginary flags are so much heavier than real ones, for some reason.

 

#2 Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri (Norway) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR_xdihoJe0

What I like: Spine-tingling ballads, that’s what. Considering the amount of ballads that are going to Baku, it’s probably a good thing this one isn’t, but still…I won’t stop sighing over it, or being mildly annoyed that Nora is yet another teenager with incredible vocal prowess, when I am out of my teens but my vocal talents extend only to the shower.

If Nora had beaten Tooji, I would: be pleased, but still wishing Tooji was going to Baku. Stay was my favourite song in the MGP final but I actually didn’t think it would win over Nora or Plumbo. Also, I would not be fending off Eric Saade comparisons left, right and centre (although if you chopped off Nora’s hair, put her in a leather jacket and squinted…)

 

#3 Home by DAR (Lithuania)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV2ZjDCvc8k

What I like: This is a song that should be saved for those days when you know you should never have gotten out of bed, and you need something to cheer you up ASAP. It’s a happy song of epic proportions.

If DAR had beaten Donny, I would: be very happy, and possibly have no knowledge of the now infamous blindfold. Having said that, I am happy with Donny, and amused by his blindfold. Who doesn’t like to be amused by something visually ridiculous every now and then?

 

#4 Amazing by Danny Saucedo (Sweden) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuFj1CeFVCs

What I like: Mr. Saucedo can do no wrong in my eyes. Even his MF costume (a puffy white affair with built-in lights that made him look like a camp astronaut) worked for me. Amazing is definitely amazing IMO. I’m especially partial to the dubstep break.

If Danny had beaten Loreen, I would: have died of shock before his Melodifestivalen reprise and consequently not been here blogging now. 2011 was Eric Saade’s MF year (why does he keep coming up?) and this year it was Loreen the Machine’s. Even if she’d been super-glued to the ceiling of her dressing room for the entirety of the final, she still would have won.

 

#5 Take Our Hearts by Jesper (Denmark) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgiSXh_OIvs&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL7A533282C2E4FDAB

What I like: If all the members of Coldplay bar Chris Martin spontaneously combusted, and Chris found a time machine so he could go back and stop it from happening only to discover that wasn’t possible, Take Our Hearts would be the mournful but hopeful-for-the-future song his younger self would pen to get over the whole ordeal. Aww!

If Jesper had beaten Soluna, I would: be mopping the pool of my melted heart up off the floor. He is tres adorable…and probably better at French than me even if he’s never spoken a word of it in his life. Oh, and I would also have enjoyed his song at Eurovision (note to self: write more about the music and less about everything else).

 

But wait, there’s more! There were so many strong entries in the 2011-12 preselections, even among the runner-ups, that I couldn’t limit myself to just five. Here are those that tickled my fancy and proved yet again that the songs that make Eurovision are just the beginning of the music us fans get to discover every year thanks to the contest.

Austria That’s What I Am by Conchita Wurst

Belgium Safety Net by Iris

Bulgaria Chance For Better Life by New 5

Cyprus You Don’t Belong Here by Ivi Adamou

Estonia Mina Jään by Lenna

Finland Lasikaupunki by Ville Eetvartti

Hungary Learning to Let Go by Gábor Heincz

Iceland Stattu Upp by Blár Ópal

Malta Pure by Claudia Faniello

Moldova Open Your Eyes by Dara

Russia Back To Her Future by Dima Bilan & Yulia Volkova

 

What are your favourite songs of the 2012 national final season?

 

NEXT TIME: A month of Düsseldorf in Rewind begins with a recap of last year’s German extravaganza!

 

Selection Season Day 2: La la loving the art and allocation draw?

Bonjour again, ladies and gents. It’s time for the second rambling, and this time around it’s time for me to stop using the word ‘time’ so much and turn my attention to the goings on of the last few days in Eurovisionville. Let’s get to it!

 

I I Ivi in La La Love

As expected, Ivi Adamou will perform La La Love in the first semi final (more on that later) in Baku, and I’m hoping to have got it out of my head just in time to get it stuck in there again when she does. I think most of us are pleased with this outcome, although what we aren’t so pleased about is Ivi’s appearance at the national final – an appearance made pretty much redundant by her failure to sing live. Unless I am much mistaken (if so I blame Youtube and my PC speakers) there was more miming going on there than at a sideshow carnival, and that worries me, because the only live performance of hers I have seen – from her time on The X Factor – was less than impressive. Just because you’ve been on a singing talent show doesn’t mean you can sing, does it Jedward? However, I am going to give Ivi the benefit of the doubt, because LLL is, in my opinion, another great song from poor overlooked Cyprus, and if she can put in a good vocal and visual, this could be the one that rockets them into the top ten for the first time since 2004. LLL also seems to be a musical love child of Titanium by David Guetta and We Found Love by Rihanna…but it did inherit the best of both its parents, I guess. Good luck Ivi.

 

The Land of Fire wants you (to light yours)

On Thursday morning, Jaz time (i.e. midnight) the host exchange/insignia/allocation draw/Long and Repetitive Speech ceremony was held in Baku, and for the first time I decided to watch it all unfold (i.e. I just happened to be awake and thought, ‘why not?’). It’s so rare that us Australians get to experience Eurovision anything at the same time as the rest of the world because if we wanted to we’d have to set our alarms for a god-awful hour. Anyway, the theme presentation and draw turned out to be quite exciting, although as alluded by my reference to speeches above, the first fifteen or so minutes were a little sleep-inducing – and awkward, as all over the world fans witnessed a massive technology fail. The less said about that, the better.

A fully functioning video introduced us all to the 2012 slogan and theme art first, which, unless you have been asleep for the last few days (maybe thanks to the speeches?) you will know is ‘Light your fire!’, and looks a little like this:

  

It’s so hot over here at the moment I kind of wish the slogan was ‘Take off all your clothes and pour a bucket of ice water over your head’, but I guess the whole thing is as appropriate for Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire, as it could be. The logo itself I’m not 100% sure about at this point. I do love me some orange, and fire is…good. Good for toasting marshmallows, and…stuff.

Maybe I’ll learn to love it.

 

Who went where?

Now on to the allocation draw, which was worth staying up for. The specific running order draw will take place in March, but for now we know which country is in which half of which semi. Here’s the deal:

SEMI FINAL #1: Albania, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Montenegro, Romania, Switzerland (first half); Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Moldova, Russia, San Marino (second half). 

SEMI FINAL #2: Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine (first half); Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey (second half).

We also now know that Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain will vote in semi 1, with France, Germany and the UK casting theirs in semi 2.

Something else we now know is that splitting up the countries into ‘pots’ in an attempt to prevent partisan/bloc etc voting does not always work. As is stands, Greece will be able to vote for Cyprus, and vice versa; most of the Former Yugoslav countries will be able to vote for each other whilst poor Montenegro sits alone in semi 1; and Italy will be able to give San Marino a leg up. On the other hand, the UK can’t help Ireland get to the final and Russia won’t be sending any points to Belarus or Ukraine, so there will be some unpredictability. Plus, if the juries are as dominant as they were last year (remember the shock horror that was Turkey Not Qualifying?) those predictable exchanges may be further reduced. That’s one good thing about being a non-European fan – if there’s a good song or a crappy song, I don’t care where it’s from. I’ll vote for it if it’s good and I won’t if it’s crappy. Well, I would if I could vote.

 

Norway, Vol. II

Last but not least, it’s the second semi of Norsk MGP tonight, with eight more songs competing for three spots in the February final. Those eight are:

  1. Keeps On Dancing by Cocktail Slippers
  2. I’ve Got You by Isabel Ødegård
  3. Make It Better by Tommy Fredvang
  4. Another Heartache by Rikke Lie
  5. Crush by Malin Reitan
  6. Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
  7. You and I by Minnie-Oh
  8. Shapeshifter by Rikke Normann

My personal picks would be Crush, You and I and Shapeshifter. Crush is performed by a formerly tiny schoolgirl with pigtails, now a teenager who may or may not wear pigtails occasionally. Yes, it’s Malin Reitan, who placed 3rd in Junior Eurovision in 2005, and she’s back to have a go at the big ESC (I hope we see a lot more of this in the future). It’s a song with a very 80s vibe to it, but I still like it, and I can’t wait to see Malin onstage again.

You and I is also a bit 1980s-inspired with its electro-pop sound, but it’s definitely contemporary. I’m not sure it’ll pack enough punch live to qualify, but no doubt Minnie-Oh’s choice of face paint will be a talking point.

Shapeshifter is easily my favourite from this semi, although I may be biased because Rikke was responsible for my favourite song of the whole NMGP last year (Not That Easy with Åste). This song is completely different, a little more mainstream, but just as catchy and probably more likely to do well at Eurovision. The weirdness of the lyrics makes it stand out, and with Rikke’s great live vocal and performance position, it has everything going for it.

As far as my predictions for the three qualifiers go, I’m thinking it’ll be the generically pop-rocky Keeps On Dancing, the more traditional Ola Nordmann and Shapeshifter.

And that is all…for now.

 

Selection Season Day 1: Soluna Samay and the songs so far…

Extra, extra, read all about it – HOT OFF THE PRESS! Denmark chooses Soluna Samay for Baku!

What’s that? Denmark chose on Saturday, and it’s now Wednesday? Alright…

Extra, extra, read all about it – from the paper that accidentally fell off the press during the printing process. You can’t complain. You know I don’t break news here at EBJ; I just dissect it after everyone else has moved on to something more exciting.

Anyway, back to Ye Olde Dansk MGP. Once again, I have been shocked into silence (though I am apparently still able to type) by a winning song that wasn’t even on my radar of possible winning songs. Should’ve Known Better by the abovementioned Soluna Samay pipped Jesper’s Take Our Hearts at the post to win the Danish final and secure the new Queen of Epaulets a two-way (I presume, although if she does badly Denmark may not want her back) ticket to Azerbaijan.

Soluna has the hopes of a nation resting on her shoulders...as well as Europe's entire supply of gold thread

For me, it was indeed a surprise, but not a “I just found a tarantula in my underpants” kind of surprise – it was more “I wanted a custard tart from the bakery but they only have fruit flans…well, I do like fruit flans”.

For those who don’t understand what I’m trying to say (i.e. 99% of you) allow me to translate: I love Jesper’s song, but Soluna’s is nice, and grew on me just from my initial listen to my second. There is a definite whiff of Anna Bergandahl’s This Is My Life in the air around this one, which for me is a good thing, but for those who are part of the Ban Bergendahl committee, you’ve got a livelier, rockier ballad with less Converse and more…what do you call those hats, anyway? The song is not the most exciting thing ever written, and I have a feeling it might blend into the background a bit once more songs start coming through – but at the moment, I’d say it’s the best of the three.

Speaking of The Three, it won’t be long until they are joined by forty others, a fact that must be providing hope to all the fans out there who are unenthused by what the Swiss, Albanian and Danish have come up with (in Albania’s case, feel free to replace the word ‘unenthused’ with a suitably offensive alternative). I remember last year feeling a bit disappointed when there were only a few songs and none of them were saying douze points! But as more songs became known, I got more enthusiastic. Generally speaking, by the time my CD arrives in the post there’s not a single song I’m going to skip over/skip in Shuffle once I’ve rejoined my fellow Gen Y-ers in casting aside cumbersome compact discs in favour of tiny machines that will one day rebel against human control and kill us all.

A-hem. My point is, don’t give up hope if neither Unbreakable, Suus nor Should’ve Known Better are tickling your fancy, because, in the near future, you’re probably either a) going to like them if not love them, or b) not care about them because a bunch of other countries have picked songs you do love, and that do say to you, douze points!

Now speaking of DP, here’s a squiz at my top four so far (yes, I said four…just wait):

  1. Cyprus
  2. Denmark
  3. Switzerland
  4. Albania

Do you see what I did there? Well, the Cypriot final is on tonight, and it doesn’t matter which of the three possible entries Ivi Adamou gets to sing in May – it’s still going to be my favourite so far. I’m impressed by all of them, which hopefully is a sign that Cyprus can qualify without a strangely hot Welshman representing them. The bookies and the fans are backing La La Love, and I have kinda sorta already built the title of my next post around that song…but we’ll see what happens. Don’t forget what went down in Armenia last year (and I ain’t talking J-E-S-C).

I think that’s all I’ve got to ramble on about for now, but expect a ton of such rambles to be posted over the coming months as the chaos escalates with national finals Europe-wide. You have been warned.

 

COMING UP: Cypriot results, slogans, theme art, a semi final decider (of sorts) AND a second installment from Norway. Yikes!

 

Denmark ends where Norway begins as selection season gets started

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…

 

DANSK MGP

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…

The show

  1. Take Our Hearts by Jesper
  2. Best Thing I Got by Aya
  3. Reach for the Sky by Kenneth Potempa
  4. Overflow by Ditte Marie
  5. Baby Love Me by Philip Halloun & Emilia
  6. Forever I B Young by Suriya
  7. Universe by Karen Viuff
  8. Should’ve Known Better by Soluna Samay
  9. Venter by Christian Brøns & Patrik Isaksson

My picks

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.

My prediction

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!

 

NORSK MGP

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:

  1. Elevator by Irresistible feat. Carl Pritt
  2. Så Vidunderlig by Kim André Rysstad
  3. High On Love by Reidun Sæther
  4. You Break It, You Own It by Rudi Myntevik
  5. With Love by Lisa Stokke
  6. Little Bobbi by United
  7. Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri 
  8. 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)