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SUPER SATURDAY #6 | Välkommen to the most momentous of Melodifestivalen moments!

It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life. After five Saturdays of frenetic and not-so-frenetic (in the case of After Dark) app voting, wanton wind machine usage, and results that made us say ‘Um…really?’, Melodifestivalen 2016 has reached its final stage…literally.

The traveling circus has set up shop in Stockholm (as Eurovision will in a matter of months) and the original line-up of 28 – if we’re including the booted Anna Book – has been narrowed down to 12 (presumably, the others have been fed to the lions by now). It is exciting, anticipating this imminent last installment, but it’s also depressing to imagine life after Sweden’s 2016 ESC entrant is named and famed. Seriously, what did we do in those dark days prior to Deltävling 1? I don’t know, but we’re going to have to start doing it again as of Sunday *sniffs pathetically with head buried in latest edition of Scan magazine*.

For now, though, let’s forget about things that are not Melfest-related, and focus on what’s ahead of us – i.e. things that ARE Melfest-related. When I say that, I mean it – I’m choosing to forgo discussing such things as 1) Australia’s second-ever adult ESC entry, and 2) Lithuania also selecting their song this evening, to give the Swedish selection the attention it deserves. I expect my honorary Swedish citizenship, hand-signed in glitter pen by Christer Björkman, to arrive in the post any day now.

As Ace Wilder would say, don’t worry – I’ll get back to Dami Im and (probably) Donny Montell in due course. But just nu, let’s preview and predict one of the greatest and most competitive Melfest finals in recent history!

 

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  1. Håll Om Mig Hårt by Panetoz
  2. My Heart Wants Me Dead by Lisa Ajax
  3. We Are Your Tomorrow by David Lindgren
  4. Kizunguzungu by SaRaha
  5. Human by Oscar Zia
  6. Don’t Worry by Ace Wilder
  7. Constellation Prize by Robin Bengtsson
  8. Youniverse by Molly Sandén
  9. Put Your Love On Me by Boris René
  10. If I Were Sorry by Frans
  11. Save Me by Wiktoria
  12. Bada Nakna by Samir & Viktor

 

That’s certainly a good-looking, good-listening programme. And that’s not even factoring in the star-powered interval act SVT have planned for us (more on that later). There are so many songs and acts I want to see succeed this evening, and only a few I wouldn’t be devastated to see fail. You can find out which are which without further ado. 3, 2, 1, review!

 

Håll Om Mig Hårt by Panetoz

My verdict I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – these guys make me so happy, and all they have to do is exist (and ideally, release some music every now and then). It’s no surprise that I was jumping for joy when they emerged victorious from their Andra Chansen battle last weekend. Håll Om Mig Hårt is weaker than 2014’s Efter Solsken, but it’s still the same brand of effervescent, crowd-pleasing tropical pop, and there could be no better opener for tonight’s final. Will it win? Of course not. Will it even come close? Nope. But will we enjoy it whether we want to or not? Obviously.

My ranking 7th

Predicted ranking 12th

Would it work at Eurovision? No

 

My Heart Wants Me Dead by Lisa Ajax

My verdict Stringing toilet paper from the ceiling has never looked so glamorous! No, Lisa didn’t get the best of deals when SVT were budgeting to cover staging costs. But that doesn’t stop MHWMD from being a killer pop ballad performed with aplomb by Sweden’s 2014 Idol champ (marinated in on-trend metallics). I love everything about this song, bar the lack of more dynamic staging. Zara Larsson would be proud to have this track in her repertoire.

My ranking 6th

Predicted ranking 9th

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

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Toilet-papering houses is so last year…arenas are where it’s at.

 

We Are Your Tomorrow by David Lindgren

My verdict David is the epitome of an Eric Saade-endorsed manboy. He’s adorable, in other words. But how he managed to go direkt yet again is a mystery to me, particularly when his song is just so…nice. Nice, competent and reasonably catchy, but nothing more. There’s no real substance to it, and it’s not going to be a contender now we’ve reached the pointy end of the comp. Sweden might have an affinity with this guy, but the international juries won’t – and even Swedish voters have the likes of Frans and Robin on hand to choose over David this time. Which is fine…I’m happy to console him when he fails miserably.

My ranking 11th

Predicted ranking 11th

Would it work at Eurovision? No

 

Kizunguzungu by SaRaha

My verdict Yes, this is Waka Waka + Aleo + Haba Haba in a tidy three minute capsule; and yes, despite the African overtones, it’s Swedish pop-by-numbers right down (or should I say, right up?) to the key change. But it’s also so high-energy and so much fun that I’m irresistibly drawn to it. Plus, I am yet to find a better word than ‘kizunguzungu’ emerge from 2016. You do give me kizunguzungu, SaRaha…as a result of too much DAMNED DANCING.

My ranking 9th

Predicted ranking 7th

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

 

Human by Oscar Zia

My verdict Cards on the table: this is my favourite. And I can’t help thinking it would be the best Melfest-turned-Eurovision song Sweden could possibly pick tonight, even if there’s little to no chance they’ll actually pick it. Oscar isn’t the world’s best vocalist, but his charisma, the power of Human, and the Academy Award-worthy cinematography of his staging (camera shots have never been used so effectively) compensate for that. He looks like a 50s film star on stage, but the rest of his entry is totally contemporary – and together, it’s a magic combo. Still, it’ll be a miracle of Paula and Ovi proportions if he manages to win.

My ranking 1st

Predicted ranking 8th

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

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Oscar: clearly a fan of T-Bird-meets-funeral chic.

 

Don’t Worry by Ace Wilder

My verdict Way back when Ace was the outright favourite to win Melfest, I wanted to love her comeback entry so I wouldn’t mind when she walked away with the victory. A lot has changed since then, including the fact that there’s a new kid on the block who’s likely to pip her at the post. What hasn’t changed is my attitude towards Ace herself – I still find her as unlikable as I did in 2014, when she was the devil to Sanna’s angel as they both perched on Melfest’s padded shoulders. I do, however, love Don’t Worry. But I don’t think it’s a winner. Simple as that.

My ranking 8th

Predicted ranking 2nd

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

 

Constellation Prize by Robin Bengtsson

My verdict It’s apt that Robin sings ‘You’re a star’ in the chorus of Constellation Prize (I still can’t wrap my head around that title) because he was the star of semi final one. Armed with a harmonica that he was definitely playing *wink* and eyes that could convince me to do pretty much anything (one lingering look, and I’d beat Frans to robbing a bank and the post office too), Robin charmed us all then, and he’ll be doing the same tonight. I hope he nabs a great result, if topping the table is out of the question (which is isn’t, necessarily). If he can hypnotise the international juries with those peepers, AND rank highly with the Swedish public, he could be the second Robin to represent Sweden on home soil. Stranger things have happened.

My ranking 2nd

Predicted ranking 3rd

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

 

Youniverse by Molly Sandén

My verdict Molly can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. She is flawless, and proved it when she put in a final-worthy performance a few weeks back. Granted, Youniverse is not the landslide-win type of song I was expecting given that Molly and her man-candy Danny Saucedo co-wrote it, but it still kicks butt. This is a tough year, and it will be an uphill struggle rather than an easy stroll for Molly to take it out. I’d be ecstatic if she did, but she might need to try a few more times to find the perfect formula – and/or drop by when the competition’s not so fierce.

My ranking 3rd

Predicted ranking 4th

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

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Like we believe ALL of that wind is coming from the fans, Molly…

 

Put Your Love On Me by Boris René

My verdict Whether in a little box or a litter box (once you’ve heard that, you can’t un-hear it) Boris has my heart for sure. This is my jam of the year so far, and I’m stoked we get to experience the pure joy of it once again in the final. Proving that you don’t need showy staging to have get places, Boris uses the fancy footwork from his football past to full advantage, and that helps make him a worthy participant tonight. I’m sad to say that he’ll probably end up in the bottom six of the twelve – but he should be proud to have made a successful Melfest debut, and in doing do, put a smile on the face of everyone who isn’t a soulless robot. Go ahead, Boris – putcha love on me!

My ranking 5th

Predicted ranking 10th

Would it work at Eurovision? No

 

If I Were Sorry by Frans

My verdict If we’re destined to have a runaway winner, it will be Frans. Having topped the Spotify and Sverigetopplistan charts and been the odds-on favourite since his semi performance, he’s on the right track to outwit, outplay and outlast much bigger names, which I’m quite pleased about (it makes Melfest less predictable in a way, and means it’s still a launching pad for relative unknowns/former child stars). There is a charm and authenticity to If I Were Sorry – an air of ‘no, we’re not trying too hard for once’ – that we last saw in Robin Stjernberg’s You, and that makes it dangerous. I know it’s not hugely popular outside of Sweden, but I think it will be a cool choice if it does what’s expected. But…will the non-Swedish jury members warm to it, or just think ‘WTF?’.

My ranking 4th

Predicted ranking 1st

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

 

Save Me by Wiktoria

My verdict Contrary to IIWS, Save Me is all about what happens to/on Wiktoria on stage. The girl is an amazing singer, and I want her hair chopped off and glued to my scalp stat (in a non-creepy way) but without those incredible body projections, she would need someone to save her. Don’t get me wrong – I am a fan of this song (it’s the kind of thing I imagine Taylor Swift would have been releasing right now if she’d remained within the realms of country music). But I’d be far less keen to sit through it if Wiktoria simply stood and sung, sans the series of projections. With those in her corner, I’m expecting her to debut successfully by squeezing into the top 5.

My ranking 10th

Predicted ranking 5th

Would it work at Eurovision? Yes

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After Melfest, Wiktoria will be installed in Sweden’s national art gallery as a permanent exhibition.

 

Bada Nakna by Samir & Viktor

My verdict I’m happy to hear that these boys will be as close to nakna as possible on primetime television tonight. Why not venture all the way down Trash Avenue? After all, it would be un-Samir & Viktor-like to show restraint (and not nipples). These two are the weakest singers in the field, and Bada Nakna is no Groupie. As a result, they won’t be heading back to Stockholm for ESC purposes unless they’re hitting up the Euroclub. That’s expressly why we should just sit back and enjoy the final song to be performed tonight…in all its moist, shirtless, pantless glory.

My ranking 12th

Predicted ranking 6th

Would it work at Eurovision? No

 

 

Okay…so that likely took you as long to read as it will take the Mello final to start, happen and finish. But that’s SVT’s fault for having so many songs competing. In summary, my predicted scoreboard (minus any actual scores, because I don’t want to make that much of a fool of myself) looks like this:

  1. Frans
  2. Ace
  3. Robin
  4. Molly
  5. Wiktoria
  6. Samir & Viktor
  7. SaRaha
  8. Oscar
  9. Lisa
  10. Boris
  11. David
  12. Panetoz

I do think that ultimately, Frans will be our winner for 2016. But his is not necessarily an open-and-shut case kind of victory like Måns’ of twelve months ago. Back then, MZW had the sort of mass appeal that won him both the international jury vote and the televote. But in 2014, Sanna Nielsen placed second in the jury vote and won the televote; and in 2013, Robin Stjernberg did the opposite, winning the jury vote and placing second with the Swedish public. My point is (yes, I have one!) that Frans will most likely win the televote, but if he’s placed second or lower with the juries, he may not win the whole shebang. It’s hard to guess which act the juries would opt for instead, but you could argue that the likes of Ace, Robin, Molly and Oscar have more mass appeal, and might be more easily “gotten” by non-Swedes. And if the points/percentages are right, we could see a close call feat. Frans with a metaphorical silver medal round his neck.

So who, if anyone, has the best chance of toppling the favourite? Ace or Robin, with Wiktoria as an outsider. I’d love to say that Oscar – my main Melfest man – could hit the heights required to score an ESC ticket, but it seems there’s too much in the way (third time lucky in 2018, perhaps?). There really are a ton of great songs in this final, and too few top five places (five, funnily enough) to be allocated accordingly. Samir & Viktor should come last in my opinion, but they won’t. Any other act really doesn’t deserve that dishonour. I’ve predicted Panetoz because, as wonderful as they will be as the show’s opening act, I think the fun will fizzle out come voting time when Swedish voters get serious (and I don’t think the juries will rank them particularly highly either). I get the impression they’ll just be happy to be there, having made it this far though.

What do you think? Are there some shocks and surprises in store for us in Sweden, or will Melfest turn out to be massively predictable after all? Place your bets, people!

 

Now, to finish off, I’m going to bask in the ambience of Europe’s most epic NF for a little longer as I identify what I’m most looking forward to seeing and hearing in Friends Arena in a few hours’ time:

  • Oscar Zia in action I haven’t laid eyes on his kick-ass performance since his semi-final (though I have snuck in a few plays of Human in studio) so I’m dying to see it again. I do think we’re human, and I would like to take a look once again, Oscar.
  • Molly lost in her Youniverse Because who wouldn’t want to watch the Mollmeister do what she does best and generally be all of our beauty and talent goals in flesh-and-blood form? Anyone else also hoping Danny will show his beautiful face on this occasion?
  • Lynda Woodruff’s triumphant return SHE’S BACK! I can’t get enough of Sarah Dawn Finer, as herself or in character as the EBU’s most incompetent employee. The big question is, will she work in a mention of Azerjaiben?
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Oh, how I’ve missed that stunningly attractive face!

  • The Melfest medley of a lifetime SDF again. Magnus Carlsson. Nanne Grönvall. Anton Ewald. BWO. These are just some of the artists from Melfests of yesteryear who’ll be taking to the stage to reprise their entries while we wait for the votes to be tallied. I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. Interval acts don’t usually have me peeing my pants at the prospect of witnessing them, but this one’s different. Sorry for the over-share.
  • The moment vi har ett resultat I don’t want to hear Gina Dirawi utter that phrase for the last time, but I do want to suffer through the agony of the voting sequence. Remember, it’s the kind of process we’ll be seeing at Eurovision, so think of the drawn-out tension as a dress rehearsal for May.

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaand I’m done. There is more I could say on the subject of M to the E to the L to the O to the…well, you get the idea. But then I’d need to print it, bind it and market it as serious bedtime reading, and that’s too much hassle.

Speaking of bedtime…I’d better go have my last pre-Melfest power nap. I might see you on Twitter later for the main event, but if not, enjoy your Saturday whether you’re watching Melfest, watching Lithuania’s Eurovizijos (?) or doing something else entirely (???). We have so few Eurovision entries left to be picked/premiered, so let’s hope we get a few great ones tonight!

 

Until next time,

 

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SUPER SATURDAY #4 | New entries, first impressions + A Dal, Melodi Grand Prix and Melfest!

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.
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Jamie-Lee, ready for action in her ghost-busting gear.

  • 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

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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.

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The top is pointless, Andras. Just take the damn thing off *pulls out camera*.

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.

norway-2016-melodi-grand-prix-artists

  1. Laika by The Hungry Hearts feat. Lisa Dillan
  2. Into The Fire by Stage Dolls
  3. Traces by Stine Hole Ulla
  4. Stand Up by Makeda
  5. Anyway by Pegasus
  6. Feel Da Rush by Freddy Kalas
  7. Afterglow by Laila Samuels
  8. History by Elouiz
  9. Anna Lee by Suite 16
  10. 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.

  1. Runaways by Eclipse
  2. Rollercoaster by Dolly Style
  3. Du Tar Mig Tillbaks by Martin Stenmarck
  4. Killer Girl by Linda Bengtzing
  5. If I Were Sorry by Frans
  6. Håll Om Mig Hårt by Panetoz
  7. Youniverse by Molly Sandén
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Dolly Style clearly didn’t get the dress code memo.

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!

 

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Another Supersized Serving of Scandipop: My Top 50 Melodifestivalen Entries, 2006-2015! (#30-#11)

Hej there! With a brief break between semi allocation draws, slogan/logo (slogo?) announcements and national finals upon us, there’s finally time for me to continue the countdown of my favourite Melfest entries ever…excluding all editions of the show between 1959 and 2005. As I mentioned in part one, narrowing the possible picks down to those performed within a ten-year period is hard enough – there’s no way I was going to put myself (or you) through the ordeal of compiling an all-time Top 50. So here we are, at the penultimate point of my 2006-2015 version: #30-#11.

Once again, I’ve made a playlist of all the tracks featured below, if you want to check that out. If you just want some method to justify the madness, then read on as I reveal…

 

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#30 | Där Och Då Med Dig by Emelie Irewald (2015) This one flew under the radar at Melodifestivalen 2015, finishing in an unfortunate sixth place in the second semi. That was unsurprising when you consider that the main talking point of the entry, pre-show, was Emelie’s status as ex-girlfriend of Danny Saucedo (perhaps association with him is a bad luck charm? BREAK THE CURSE, MOLLY SANDÉN!). Even I was more interested in that gossip than the possibility that her song could be anything special. But come performance time, failure to qualify and all, Där Och Då Med Dig (There and Then With You) had me hypnotised. Haunting, melancholy in an intriguing manner and refreshingly subdued, it left a real impression on me – even though I was yet to Google Translate the lyrics at that point (if you haven’t, spoiler alert: they’re heartbreaking).

 

#29 | The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite (2012) 

 

#28 | Temple of Love by BWO (2006) Now we’re getting vintage (according to the parameters of this list, at least)! BWO had many a shot at representing Sweden at Eurovision – four, to be exact. But Temple of Love was the song that resulted in their most successful attempt. I’m in total agreement with that stat, because I reckon it was by far their best entry of the lot. It’s not lyrically substantial, á la Emelie’s song, but that’s not what BWO do best. Schlager-influenced dance bangers that get butts moving are their forte, and Temple of Love is nothing if not one of those. It’s up-tempo, infectious and a ton of fun – not to mention epic to sing along to when you may or may not be a teeny bit drunk (don’t ask me how I know that).

 

#27 | Like Suicide by Christian Walz (2011) 

 

#26 | Alla by Sofia (2009) Melodifestivalen 2012 would bring us traditional Greek sounds combined with Swedish-language lyrics in the form of OPA!’s Allting Blir Bra Igen…but back in ’09, we got Greek on Greek – with some rock thrown in for good measure – from Sofia (who is Swedish, but just has a thing for Greece. As an Australian with a thing for Sweden, I ain’t gonna pass judgment). And, pardon the pun, this song really does rock. I love how high-intensity it is, how much energy it whips up despite being mid-tempo, and how great the Greek (as odd as it was to hear in the Melfest line-up) sounds over music that’s traditional-meets-modern. Sofia comes across as the ultimate power woman when she belts out the anthem that is Alla, and I want to join the army that I assume she started up back then. How does ‘Private Jaz, reporting for duty!’ sound?

 

#25 | Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder (2014) 

 

#24 | Baby Goodbye by EMD (2009) You guys know how much I love boy bands – so, when the swarthy Swedish trio known individually as Erik, Mattias and Danny hit up Melfest, I was in my element. Featuring the success guarantee that is whistling, a thumping mid-tempo beat, and a structure that allows each member of the group to have a solo moment, Baby Goodbye sums up everything that was great about Melodifestivalen as the 2000s drew to a close. It’s slick, catchy, a little retro, and boasts the kind of killer chorus that can make you forget you’ve heard plenty of similar songs in the past (because you’re so focused on singing along enthusiastically, you can’t think about anything else).

 

#23 | Better Or Worse by Julia Alvgard (2011) 

 

#22 | Empty Room by Sanna Nielsen (2008) Six years and two further entries away from FINALLY representing Sweden at Eurovision, Sanna had a crack with what is arguably one of the best ballads ever associated with…well, anyone or anything (yes, I am prone to exaggeration). The Rapunzel-esque hairdo didn’t do our girl many favours, but nobody tackles an emotional, piano-driven, heartstring-tugger like she does. Dressed in the post-breakup colour of choice and relying on nothing but her pipes to impress, Sanna sang her way to second place with a song that is just as dynamic – and just as effective as a vehicle for her voice – as Undo. Do I prefer Empty Room to Undo, then? Well, you’ll have to wait and see. I will say that it is, without doubt, up there with the best of her seven entries.

 

#21 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt (2012)

 

#20 | Echo by Outtrigger (2014) Yes, you read that right. Hard rock is hard to come by in Melfest, but when it does make an appearance, I tend to gravitate towards it like a moth to an aggressive, head-banging flame. This song allows me to let out all of my frustrations, which include but are not limited to La Voix making it to the ESC in 2009, and people being mad at Sweden for winning the contest last year instead of being mad at the scoring system. But Echo isn’t just three minutes of screaming and general noise – there is a cracking tune that accompanies all of the guitar-shredding. Rock on (a phrase only uttered by people who do not do so on a regular basis)!

 

#19 | Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone (2015) 

 

#18 | Efter Solsken by Panetoz (2014) I love Panetoz’ Melfest debut for the same reason I love their first major hit Dansa Pausa – because it’s what sunshine and happiness and rainbows would sound like if they went on a vacation together to a tropical island. Everything about this track makes me smile, from the irresistible beat, to how adorable Swedish sounds layered over it. Sometimes I like my music to be deep and meaningful and angst-ridden; but when I don’t, I turn to stuff like this and think to myself ‘Hakuna matata!’. The fun and escapist nature of this group’s music makes me very excited to hear their entry for 2016.

 

#17 | Keep On Walking by Salem Al Fakir (2010)

 

#16 | My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen (2011) Record-breaking, game-changing Euphoria has already made it onto this list, which may surprise you whether you’d forgotten or not. That’s right – I have a higher regard for the song that initially introduced us to Loreen (assuming we missed the 2004 season of Idol Sverige) than her Melfest/Eurovision winning one…though I love them both. I think MHIRM is a little more interesting and a little less straightforward (genre-wise) than Euphoria. It seamlessly blends elements of electro, dance and disco music to produce something that is poppy, but has a definite edge. And you’ve got to give props to Loreen for pulling off the ‘I stopped by Sesame Street, skinned a Muppet and am now wearing it as a coat’ trend.

 

#15 | Try Again by Dilba (2011) 

 

#14 | In The Club by Danny Saucedo (2011) I’ve always thought that Mr. Molly Sandén tried too hard to win on his second solo shot at Melfest – meaning that Amazing, while impressive, didn’t 110% live up to its title. I much prefer Danny’s first foray in the comp without the E and the M of EMD by his side. Not only did In The Club perfectly illustrate how the guy can sing and dance simultaneously without letting one or both skills suffer as a result (not something you can say about his vanquisher Eric Saade) but it also had super crowd-pumping power. Unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of moonwalking to this in a club (Swedish pop>mindless trance, but too few playlist programmers are aware of that). However, I have done it up and down each hallway in my house, and it was an awesome party for one, let me tell you! #tragicandiknowit

 

#13 | This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (2010) 

 

#12 | Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandèn (2012) I’ll keep this short and sweet, since I’ve already professed my love for WAIC in a Melfest Monday post. Molly’s one of many returnees to the Swedish NF this year, and she’s going to have to go above and beyond to equal the magnificence of Why Am I Crying? I’m confident she can do it, what with her recent releases being the bomb and all. But I’ll always have a room in my heart rented out to her 2012 entry, due to its display of emotional fragility AND strength, touches of tinkling piano, and steady build to an explosive final chorus well worth waiting for.

 

#11 | Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015) 

 

The Melodifestivalen/Eurovision reigning champ brings us to the end of this Scanditastic™ episode of the countdown, sadly (or not, depending on the level of enjoyment you derived from reading my ramblings). The most important installment is still to come, and it won’t be immediately – there’s some NF nattering to do first. So, to save all of your fingernails from being bitten off in suspense, I’ll drop some hints about my Top 10. Guess some or all of the featured songs/acts, and I’ll honour you with your own personal round of applause!

  • The Top 10 features Melfest entries from 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. More specifically, two from 2010; four from 2012; one from 2013; and three from 2014.
  • Two bands are included – one all male, the other all female. They’ve got VERY different sounds, but they’re both instrumentally inclined. My top 3, however, is made up purely of soloists.
  • Two Melfest winners – and therefore, Eurovision entries – made the final cut.
  • How my Top 10 placed (if they made it to their respective finals): #10 = 9th, #9 = 7th, #8 = 1st, #7 = DNQ, #6 = DNQ, #5 = 1st, #4 = 5th, #3 = 3rd, #2 = DNQ, #1 = 4th

Now’s the time for you to prep your own Melfest Top 10, if you’re keen on counting down with me. If you’re extra, EXTRA keen, I välkommen your #30-#11 lists in the comments below. Do we have any picks in common, or am I the only one with decent taste in music?

JK. I have terrible taste in music. And I’m totally okay with that.

 

See you sometime before Spain make their selection for Stockholm!

 

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MELFEST MONDAY | Good golly, Miss Molly!

Where + when Stockholm, 2012

What Why Am I Crying?, written by Molly Sandén, Aleena Gibson and Wendy Wagner, and performed by Molly Sandén

 

 

Molly ‘Perfection and a Person I Want To Switch Lives With’ Sandén (as I refer to her on a regular basis) has been welcomed back into the open arms of Melodifestivalen for 2016 (hug it out, M & M) and no doubt she’s hoping it’ll be third time lucky for her, as it was for Måns Zelmerlöw last March. MZW had his second shot at representing Sweden in 2009 – the same year Molly made her first appearance with Så Vill Stjärnorna, just three years after flying the blue-and-yellow flag at Junior Eurovision in Bucharest. Back then, a still-blonde, sixteen-yearold Molly qualified direkt til Globen with her Sanna Nielsen-esque ballad, but finished dead last in the final, far behind MZW and EMD (her future man candy Danny Saucedo being the ‘D’).

She had some seriously tough competition that night, and stepping over them all in order to take the trophy home was never going to be an easy task. It seems she needed some more time to develop into an adult artist capable of clawing her way to the top. And so, three years later, Miss Sandén stepped onto the Melfest stage for the second time – sporting dark hair, dressed in head-to-toe black and very high heels, and trying her luck with…well, another very Sanna Nielsen-esque ballad (that’s not a bad thing…I’m merely pointing out that a musical pattern was forming there). This time, armed with the heartstring-tugger that was/is Why Am I Crying?, she was more of a contender.

After winning her semi, she went on to perform in the penultimate position in the final, in the Globe Arena once again and just before Danny Saucedo took to the stage solo for the second year running (he was still her future boyfriend then, and I can’t help thinking that this is where the sparks really began to fly. Someone should make a movie about their love story, stat!). That final performance was all kinds of perfect (not all kinds of everything), and not because Molly put in a 110% pitch-perfect vocal. She didn’t, actually, but the catches in her voice – which was still as beautiful and powerful as ever, overall – made what could have been a clinical, going-through-the-motions performance feel far more authentic and emotional. Given that Molly’s relationship with the previous year’s Melfest champ Eric Saade ended in early 2012 (let’s just say the girl has a type), it’s not hard to understand how she was able to channel so much heartbreak into three minutes.

What also made her second attempt at representing Sweden such an admirable one was the simplicity of the staging. Back in 2009, things had been too pared-back, if anything – but this time, shadowy lighting, a bit of a breeze from the old wind machine (OF COURSE) and some multi-Molly visual effects ensured that an intimate atmosphere was created, and that no aspect of the performance could be described using the letters O, T and T. Basically, we witnessed the most effective way of treating a song like Why Am I Crying? – something we’d see again with Sanna’s Undo two years later. Sandwiched between the aggressive noisiness of Björn Ranelid and Sara Li’s Mirakel, and the flashy, futuristic stage show of Danny’s Amazing, Molly stood out purely because she didn’t…if you know what I mean.

picture-1

Another Molly depicts what I’m sure all of your faces look like at this precise moment.

ANYWAY, that fact didn’t help her win the competition, but she greatly improved on her initial result with her eventual fifth place, narrowly missing out on fourth to David Lindgren (who she’ll battle against again next year if they both qualify from their semis). As we all know, it was a different intimate performance that won Melfest 2012 and went on to win Eurovision – Loreen’s. It couldn’t have been Molly’s or anybody else’s time with the Queen of the Crab-Dance in the mix.

But – and this is where this post has been leading – the combination of singer, song and beatable rivals might just be right for the Mollster in 2016. My reasoning? Well, for starters, her career is peaking as we speak, and her music has never been better (Freak? Hit. Phoenix? Hit. Like No One’s Watching? Hit. Satellites? HIT!!!). So much so that I’ll set fire to my entire Eurovision merchandise collection if her third Melfest entry Youniverse is anything less than THA SHIZ.

In addition, the song’s been written by Molly and Danny as a pair (as well as some other guy who’s clearly a third wheel) which makes it the closest thing to a Manny (or Dolly?) duet that we’re going to get in the near future. Both artists have proven their talent for penning great tracks in the past, so that ups my expectations of Molly’s chances.

And, when you look at her Melfest track record – last, then halfway up the leaderboard – it’d be a logical leap for her to finish first in the March final. She’s never been in a better position to win, and as the likes of Sanna and Måns would tell her, if you keep trying, the time will be right on one occasion or another.

Even if it’s the seventh.

That’s my thinking…but where are you at? Will Molly make it back to the Globe as Sweden’s host entrant for Eurovision 2016? Should she have had that chance back in 2012, or even 2009? Do you reckon she’s stepped things up with Youniverse, or is Why Am I Crying? too hard to top? If you have anything to say about this Sandén sister – even if it’s re: Ace Wilder being far superior (umm, I don’t THINK so!) – then get those fingers busy by commenting below!

 

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EBJ’s top 10…Junior Eurovision countries

This time next week, JESC 2012 will be over (sad face) and I will be attempting to stay awake at a Christmas party having gone to bed at 6am after watching the contest live (I bet you’ve missed me complaining about being an Australian Eurovision fan. It really can be traumatising). There are still a few things to take care of between now and then, and I’m not just referring to painstakingly selecting my show snacks. The second half of my reviews is yet to come, as is the final recap of Yerevan and a prediction or two of what will go down in Amsterdam. But right now, it’s time for a top 10.

I’m always labeling one country or another as one of my favourite ESC or JESC participants – and now we’re in the thick of Junior month I figured it was about time I made the mini-Eurovision list official. It’s not exactly easy to narrow down which of the 31 nations who have ever competed are your most-loved, but a lot of nostalgia, countless calculations of percentages (#eurovisionmathsisthebestmaths) and several hours later, I’ve cracked it. The list is based on the countries that have sent amazing songs time and time again – in my opinion, of course – and in doing so given me high expectations of them the next contest approaches. Quite a few of them have less than impressive records in the ESC, but have found their rhythm (and a factory that produces supremely talented singer-songwriters aged 10-15) in Junior. Let’s hope they figure out how to do both in style sometime soon.

In the meantime, check out my favourite JESC countries and let me know which ones would be on your list.

 

#1 | Belgium

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 4th in 2009

My top 3:

Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (2009)

Anders by Trust (2007)

De Vriendschapsband by X!NK (2003)

 

#2 | Spain

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 1st in 2004

My top 3:

Te Traigo Flores by Antonio José (2005)

Antes Muerta Que Sencilla by Marìa Isabel (2004)

Te Doy Mi Voz by Dani (2006)

 

#3 | Armenia

Debut: Rotterdam 2007

Best result: 1st in 2010

My top 3:

Erazanq by Arevik (2007)

Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (2010)

Welcome To Armenia by Dalita (2011)

 

#4 | Georgia

Debut: Rotterdam 2007

Best result: 1st in 2008/2011

My top 3:

Odelia Ranuni by Mariam Romelashvili (2007)

Candy Music by Candy (2011)

Mari Dari by Mariam Khakelishvili (2010)

 

#5 | the Netherlands

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 1st in 2009

My top 3:

Ik Ben Een Teenager by Rachel (2011)

Click Clack by Ralf Mackenbach (2009)

Stupid by Tess (2005)

 

#6 | Ukraine

Debut: Bucharest 2006

Best result: 2nd in 2008

My top 3:

Evropa by Kristall (2011)

Matrosy by Victoria Petryk (2008)

Urok Hlamuru by Ilona Galytska (2007)

 

#7 | Serbia

Debut: Bucharest 2006

Best result: 3rd in 2007/2010

My top 3:

Učimo Strane Jezike by Neustrašivi Učitelji Stranih Jezika (2006)

Čarobna Noć by Sonja Skorić (2010)

Piši Mi by Nevena Bozović (2007)

 

#8 | Belarus

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 1st in 2005/2007

My top 3:

My Vmeste by Ksenia Sitnik (2005)

S Druz’yami by Alexey Zhigalkovich (2007)

Tantsui by Volha Satsuk (2003)

 

#9 | Sweden

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 3rd in 2006

My top 3:

Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandén (2006)

Du by Mimmi Sandén (2009)

Varför Jag? by Limelights (2004)

 

#10 | Macedonia

Debut: Copenhagen 2003

Best result: 5th in 2007/2008

My top 3:

Prati Mi SMS by Bobi Andonov (2008)

Rodendeski Baknež by Denis Dimoski (2005)

Ding Ding Dong by Rosica & Dimitar (2007)

So, which countries have you fallen in love with based on their Junior entries? 

Counting down to JESC: Bucharest 2006

At last, a Junior contest I can look back on knowing I was watching the year it took place!  

Yes, 2006 was the year I discovered Eurovision, and I haven’t looked back since (which kind of contradicts what I just said about looking back, but you get my drift).

Being my first, I’ve always thought of this JESC as one of the best. The quality was high, the talent was impressive, and the theme music kicked butt.

Welcome to a Bucharest recap, put together by somebody who’s probably a little biased…

 

 

 

The stats

Edition: 4th

When: 2nd December, 2006

Where: Sala Polivalentă, Bucharest, Romania

Motto: ‘Let the music play’

Hosts: Andreea Marin Bănică & Ioana Ivan

Broadcaster: TVR

Entries: 15

Debutants: 3 – Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine

Returnees: 1 – Cyprus

Withdrawals: 5 – Denmark, Latvia, Norway, Serbia & Montenegro, United Kingdom

Interval acts: Ksenia Sitnik and a song and dance medley

First place: Russia

Last place: Macedonia

Most douze points: 7 – Russia

 

The entries

Portugal/ Deixa-Me Sentir by Pedro Madeira

Cyprus/ Agoria Koritsia by Luis Panagiotou & Christina Christofi

Netherlands/ Goed by Kimberley

Romania/ Povestea Mea by New Star Music

Ukraine/ Khlopchyk Rock ‘n’ Roll by Nazar Slyusarchuk

Spain/ Te Doy Mi Voz by Dani

Serbia/ Učimo Strane Jezike by Neustrašivi Učitelji Stranih Jezika

Malta/ Extra Cute by Sophie Debattista

Macedonia/ Vljubena by Zana Aliu

Sweden/ Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandén

Greece/ Den Peirazei by Chloe Boleti

Belarus/ Noviy Den by Andrey Kunets

Belgium/ Een Tocht Door Het Donker by Thor!

Croatia/ Lea by Mateo Đido

Russia/ Vesinniy Jazz by Tolmachevy Twins 

 

The scoreboard

  1. Russia – 154

    I wonder which sister got to keep the trophy?

  1. Belarus – 129
  2. Sweden – 116
  3. Spain – 91
  4. Serbia – 81
  5. Romania – 80
  6. Belgium – 71
  7. Cyprus – 58
  8. Ukraine – 58
  9. Croatia – 50
  10. Malta – 48
  11. Netherlands – 44
  12. Greece – 35
  13. Portugal – 22
  14. Macedonia – 14

 

My top 5…

…songs

Sweden – this country hasn’t put a foot wrong in JESC for a while (in terms of my taste, if not in results) and it all started with Molly. Her ballad is one of my all-time favourite Junior entries.

Serbia – with all the counting and gratuitous language-switching, this reminds me of when I watched Sesame Street last week…er, I mean, when I was a kid. And I love it! Bouncy, catchy fun.

Romania – one of my strongest memories of ’06 is what I used to think of as ‘The Harry Potter/Spiderman Song’. That does sum it up quite well, methinks.

Spain – as far as I’m concerned, Spain had the magic touch when it came to JESC. Their string of one amazing songs sadly ended with Dani’s in Bucharest, but at least they finished on a high. 

Netherlands – I usually like the retro ballad-type songs the Netherlands send almost every year, and this was no exception. It’s one of those you don’t expect to do well, but you can’t help having a fondness for. By ‘you’, I mean ‘I’.  

…voices

Sweden – I wish I could say Molly was talentless, since she’s already got looks and personality going for her. But she’s as vocally wunderbar now as she was in 2006, damn it.

Russia – FYI Jedward, these twins could have sung the pants off you when they were barely out of nappies.

Netherlands – Kimberley is like a younger, less powerful version of Edsilia Rombley. That’s a good thing, by the way. I think Edsilia-level growling on the JESC stage could have been intimidating for the young ‘uns in the audience.

Greece – I’m not a huge fan of the song, but I do think Chloe’s a strong vocalist.

Ukraine – commendable, apart from a few brief moments where Nazar was touched by the Curse of Puberty now known as the Dorijan Dlaka Effect.

…costumes

Macedonia – it kind of looked like Picasso’s crepe paper interpretation of the Lithuanian flag, but Zana’s dress was certainly eye-catching. There’s nothing wrong with wearable art, IMO.

Russia – cute! I can’t help being reminded of the apple skirt Laka’s sister wore for Bosnia in Belgrade.

Romania – with a song like this, you’ve got to be literal with your costumes. You know, just in case someone misses the constant references to Harry Potter and co.  

Sweden – simple and pretty. Bonus points for not plumping for yards of floaty, transparent chiffon.

Netherlands – Kimberley rocked neutrals while her backing dancers tossed their skirts around like nobody’s business.     

Clockwise from left: Zana, the Tolmachevy Twins, New Star Music, Kimberley, and Molly.

 

My bottom 5…

…songs

Malta – please note, this is the only one I actually hate with a passion. Extra cute? More like extra, EXTRA irritating.

Greece – not bad, just boring.

Croatia – as a Junior rock song, Lea could be a lot worse. But it comes across a little lame when compared to Croatia’s first few entries.

Cyprus – this is catchy, but it feels too ‘big Eurovision circa 1995’.

Ukraine – guilty pleasure alert!

…voices

It was too hard to bag five acts for underperforming vocally. All I could come up with was…

Belarus – like Ksenia Sitnik before him, Andrey was squeakier than a rubber duck.

Macedonia – let’s just say if you leave a can of Coke open for too long, it’ll lose its fizz.*

* I mean she was a bit flat.

…costumes

Ukraine – Elvis may have left the building, but it seems his wardrobe did not.

Croatia – double denim can be done well (see Spain’s Dani for evidence) but not like this.

Belarus – did Andrey actually wear the same costume as Mateo? Give or take a few iron-on motifs? Well, sharing is caring. 

L-R: Nazar and his groupies, Nazar and his super-sized collar, Mateo, and Andrey.

 

How did you rate Bucharest? What were your favourite/least favourite moments?

 

Selection Season Day 5: Lights, camera, action action action…

Here we are yet again at one of the most active evenings on the pre-Eurovision calendar. It’s Saturday night, and I’m doing what every self-respecting contest obsessive does – not leaving the house in favour of listening, watching, nodding and/or gasping in horror at all the national final action.

Tonight that action is as follows: Croatia presents its song for Nina Badrić; Italy’s San Remo Song Festival ends with a winner and a representative for Baku; Latvia and Ukraine make their final decisions; and Sweden heads into week three of competition with the 3rd semi final of Melodifestivalen. All that plus a few little somethings extra is what I’ll be covering on this warm/cool evening (I’m trying to cover all bases and reader locations here, people). Here we go.

PS – I would also like to mention that this is my 200th post *cue balloons and streamers falling from the ceiling*. Feel free to send me congratulatory gifts. You don’t expect any to you from me, right? I mean, I’m not Oprah.

 

All my life I’ve been standing still

I’m going to start with a brief mention of the most recent songs to be added to the Baku pile. On Valentine’s Day while I was cruising on a yacht in the Mediterranean with my oil heir boyfriend Pierre (that may be a lie) Belarus chose Alyona Lanskaya and All My Life to represent them. Having previously heard three of the Belarusian finalists, one of which was Alyona, I was hoping for a win from Litesound, but they could only manage second place. I think Belarus has taken a forward step by picking All My Life – they’re obviously taking things more seriously this year (although let’s wait and see if this one gets disqualified for breaching some sort of code of practice, e.g. the one brought in for 2012 that states no artist should wear a mullet dress because they are so last year).

Having said that, I’m not jumping for joy over the song. It’s a ballad of the dramatic-but-depressing variety, much like Lithuania’s 2011 entry, and though I like it more than I liked C’est Ma Vie, it’s already a dud in comparison to the songs from Norway and Cyprus, for example. I’m not going to discount it from qualifying just yet, because I was certain Evelina would be stuck in the semi and that turned out not to be the case.

Moving on to Germany now, and last year’s hosts finished up Unser Star für Baku on Thursday by making Roman Lob and Standing Still the last one standing (don’t pardon the pun – it was totally intended). It’s a song with credentials, having been co-written by the UK’s jazzy Jamie Cullum who features prominently in my mother’s CD collection, but it does come across a bit too ‘I’ve just won American Idol and this is my winning song that will be shoved down your throats for the next month’. Maybe I’m just confused having experienced two straight years of Lena and I don’t know how to react to anyone else or their music. I think Roman needs to wear a wig and an LBD on stage to wean us all off Miss Meyer-Landrut.

Roman tries to explain that no, he is not Lena in disguise

 

Let the ranking begin!

In lieu of the above songs bringing the heard total to 11, I thought now would be a good time for my first 2012 ranking. Here’s my scoreboard so far…

  1. Norway – 12
  2. Cyprus – 10
  3. Denmark – 8
  4. Iceland – 7
  5. France – 6
  6. Switzerland – 5
  7. Hungary – 4
  8. Germany – 3
  9. Malta – 2
  10. Belarus – 1
  11. Albania – 0

Thoughts?

 

Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Ukraine and Georgia: it’s decision time

Amazingly, I have nothing to say about the above five finals due to a combination of not listening to the contenders, not knowing who the contenders are (in Italy’s case) and not having enough information to even form a sentence (in Croatia’s case). I will say that I did not accidentally omit Georgia from my intro – their final is taking place tomorrow night, so it’s still part of the weekend, just not of this Super Saturday.

 

Melodifestivalen

Now it’s time to discuss my favourite part of the evening, courtesy of the Land of IKEA and ABBA. Sweden’s marvelous Melodifestivalen continues with eight more acts competing for four coveted spots (two more coveted than the others). This week’s acts include the lone winner of the Webjoker section, Maria BenHajji (I was fortunate enough to hear her song back in November before SVT ripped it off Youtube faster than a wax strip off a cyclist’s shin) as well as 1/3 of my favourite Swedish boy band EMD, Love Generation, and Eric Saade’s lady love Molly Sandén.

The show:

  1. Youngblood by Youngblood
  2. I Mina Drömmar by Maria BenHajji
  3. Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson
  4. Just A Little Bit by Love Generation
  5. Sanningen by Carolina Wallin Pérez
  6. Lovelight by Andreas Johnson
  7. Why Am I Crying by Molly Sandén
  8. Mirakel by Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li

My picks: Förlåt Mig, Just A Little Bit, Why Am I Crying and Mirakel

It will be interesting to see what happens if both Mattias and Danny Saucedo (who’s in next week’s 4th semi) make the final as former members of EMD. I don’t think Mattias could outshine Danny when it comes to the crunch, however he has got, for me, the best song of this semi. It’s a Swedish-language R & B track that he wrote and composed himself, which is always appreciated.

Love Generation are back minus one member, and RedOne has written them a song that’s a little more pop-rock than dance, and probably more accessible. It’s not an absolute standout but it’s catchy enough to make the top four, which is where everyone wants to be (unless somebody’s life goal was to lose a Eurovision preselection).

After hearing Molly’s latest single at JESC I was expecting great things from her Melodifestivalen entry. Why Am I Crying didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it’s a nice ballad with nice lyrics that will no doubt show her voice off. I’m a bigger fan of this than of the song Molly performed the last time she entered MF, which got her straight to the final.

Let's hope Molly keeps this face for backstage

As for Mirakel, there’s only one teensy problem – the dude. Get rid of the dude! For those who don’t speak 1990s, I’m referring to Bjorn, who does some kind of middle-aged rap throughout the song that ruins Sara’s awesome choruses. If it was ‘Sara Li feat. One or Two Very Quiet Words From Bjorn Ranelid’ this would do well.

My predictions: I think this is the weakest semi so far, which makes it just as hard to predict as a good one. My guess is that Love Generation will get all the way to the final this time round, as well as Andreas Johnson. As for who’ll make Andra Chansen, I’m going to say Youngblood and Mattias. I’m actually hoping to be wrong…

 

Voila! Another weekend overview done and dusted. Don’t forget to attach yourself to whatever device you use for your social networking tomorrow, because we’re going to need to talk. In a completely non-serious way.

 

Do you think tonight will produce a winner? What’s your favourite song for Baku so far?