Yes, you read that correctly. I am as shocked as you are to find that I’m still going after five and a half years, and now, FOUR HUNDRED posts. That’s like, a hundred times four (I haven’t done any maths since 2008, so excuse me for being uncertain).
I guess you really can talk about Eurovision endlessly if you have the inclination. Sorry to everyone who thought I’d get bored and shut up before I even reached the big 1-0-0.
With lots of other stuff to chat about today, I’m not going to go on and on about this milestone. I just want to say thanks to anyone who’s read any of my 399 previous ramblings and is about to read this one. You’re (partly) why I keep blogging.
I’ll let a picture (which I hear is worth a thousand words) do the rest of the talking.
Wait…I did also want to warn you that I plan to be celebrating my 800th post in another five-and-a-half-years’ time. Run for cover, people!
Let’s get on with the show/s.
First thoughts on the songs of the last seven days
- Armenia: There’s been big buildup re: Don’t Deny, as week by week Geneaology’s band members were announced and we all wondered how the song would compare to Six4One’s If We All Give A Little. Now we have all six singers, plus one song that makes me go ‘hmm…’. At the moment, the best part of this package for me is having an Arshakyan sister back in Eurovision. Jan jan!
- Austria: Last night, The Makemakes won themselves the honour of repping Austria on home soil with I Am Yours. It was always going to be difficult for our hosts to follow up Conchita, and sadly – as competent, pleasant and well-sung as this piano ballad is – if it wasn’t an automatic finalist, I think it would be staying behind in the semis. The memorability factor, as with a bunch of 2015 entries, is low.
- Belgium: The only way was up for Belgium after the creepfest they sent to Copenhagen. Even with that in mind, I am very impressed with Loïc Nottet’s Rhythm Inside. 2015 is shaping up to be a year of ballads VS atypical ESC entries, and this definitely falls into the latter category. It’s catchy and a bit off the wall, and Loïc’s voice – unsurprisingly, given his turn on The Voice Belgique – is great. With vocal backup being provided by a member of Witloof Bay, the live won’t be a disappointment.
- Czech Republic: I guess Hope Never Dies will be the fawned-over song that I can’t get on board with this year. I find it dated and depressing, which means it’ll probably win.
- Israel: I was dying to hear Golden Boy, knowing that Nadav’s r & b stylings would ensure it wouldn’t be a ballad. It’s not, and it’s the most ethno-pop offering on the table so far. There are some questionable lyrics and a segment that sounds exactly like the pre-chorus of Ed Sheeran’s Sing (shh, don’t tell anyone!) but for the most part, it’s everything I was hoping for. And I STILL cannot believe Nadav’s only sixteen. What has he been eating for breakfast?
- Poland: Well, the boobs have officially been retired for Eurovision 2015, and it’s kind of a shame. Monika Kuzynska will be using her voice rather than her lady lumps to win us over via In The Name of Love. It’s yet another ballad, and although it is pretty and pleasant to listen to, it will have a tough time standing out.
- Portugal: Oh look, it’s nice ballad #975! This won’t have a hard time qualifying at all!
- Romania: Voltaj were my favourites heading into Selecţia Naţională…meaning De La Capăt was the only Romanian song I’d listened to and enjoyed at that point. This has been a big hit in their homeland, and as a fan, I can see (or hear) why. It has the authenticity and character that Paula & Ovi’s Miracle completely lacked.
- United Kingdom: The first time I listened to Still In Love With You, I actually facepalmed. The second time, I found myself tapping my toes. As a result, I’M SO CONFUSED! I’m yet to give it a third spin to see what reaction that brings, but I think I kind of like it. The scat part makes me want to cut my ears off, but I reckon I could come to boogie on down to the rest. BRB, just popping out to hire a flapper outfit and sign up for some Charleston lessons.
Now (I’m back with my fringed mini-dress and dance registration slip, BTW) let’s talk some songs which, for a few more hours, all have the chance of joining the prestigious Eurovision 60 Club – some with better odds than others. That would be the finalists from Norway and Sweden.
Cinderella, a monster like me and a well-cooked pizza: God kveld, NMGP!
Whatever else you might have to say on the topic of Norway, you can’t accuse their 2015 national final of lacking in variety, or quality in comparison to 2014.
Melodi Grand Prix has a much more consistent standard to its name this year, with the majority of the eleven entries being more than listenable (which is a compliment). Of course, there are the obligatory musical nightmares that should never have been let out of 1985, but things wouldn’t be quite the same without them. What would we have to complain about if the likes of Elisabeth Andreassen and Tor Endresen hadn’t provided us with 100% vintage cheese?
Tor & Bettan will perform third tonight, and this is who they’re sandwiched between:
- Thunderstruck by Erlend Bratland
- Louder by Raylee
- All Over The World by Tor & Bettan
- Next To You by Jenny Langlo
- We Don’t Worry by Ira Konstantinidis
- Heaven by Contrazt
- Ta Meg Tilbake by Marie Klåpbakken
- En Godt Stekt Pizza by Staysman & Lazz
- A Monster Like Me by Mørland & Debrah Scarlett
- Cinderella by Alexandra Joner
- Human Beings by Karin Park
My top five:
#1 | A Monster Like Me: I know, I know…Eurovision 2015 is drowning in a sea of ballads. I’ve only mentioned it 100 times in this post alone. But this is a ballad I actually WANT in the contest (unlike quite a few of the existing ones). There is something spine-tingling about the melody, the lyrics and the way Mørland and Debrah’s voices intermingle. In two words (despite the fact I’ve already used many words): hauntingly beautiful.
#2 | Human Beings: This is pretty much what I expected from Karin ‘I Feed You My Love’ Park, and it rocks. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I do think it’s lacking the MGP-winning gene, but it’s unique and edgy, just like Karin herself.
#3 | Next To You: Again, this is missing whatever rings the ‘WINNER!’ bell in my brain. Still, I really like it. It’s contemporary with a well-produced Scandi sound, and somehow manages to be soaring and melancholic at the same time.
#4 | En Godt Stekt Pizza: This is a well-cooked pizza that smells like a very guilty pleasure. Staysman & Lazz have produced the trashy love child of Timber by Kesha and Woki Mit Deim Popo (a description Staysman seemed to appreciate when I tweeted it recently) and I’m ashamed to say I get a kick out of it. Yee-haw!
#5 | Cinderella: Aaaand enter the obligatory MGP r & b number that floats my boat. I highly doubt Alexandra will win, but I don’t doubt she’ll re-energise the audience as the penultimate performer.
So, who is in contention for the win? Worst case scenario, Contrazt AND Tor & Bettan. Don’t do it, Norway!
If I had to put money down, I’d put it down on Erlend, Staysman & Lazz, Mørland & Debrah and Karin – with the chance of Jenny subbing in for the Norwegian Trackshittaz.
Narrowing it down even further – Mørland & Debrah’s Monster has been calling out to me as ‘The One’ since the MGP entries were released. I do worry that it’s similar enough to Silent Storm for Norway to be looking for something different to represent them in 2015, in which case Karin, or Erlend – with his stadium pop that I don’t really “get” – could take the prize. But, as many ballads and he/she duets we already have booking flights to Austria, I can’t help wanting one more to succeed Carl Espen. A Monster Like Me FTW, or else!*
* ‘Else’ = me getting my sadface on, good and proper.
Melfest wraps up in Sweden with a super-sized finale
I can’t believe five weeks of Melodifestivalen have gone by already. Nor can I believe I’ve gotten up at 3am every Sunday morning for the last five weeks to watch the prelim rounds. #totallyworthit. But we do still have the biggest and best installment to look forward to, plus what is sure to be an interesting round of point-giving. Though don’t expect the scores to be as close as they were between Ace Wilder and Sanna Nielsen twelve months ago…
Speaking of twelve, that’s the number of competitors in tonight’s grand finale, after Linus Svenning, Hasse Andersson, Dinah Nah and Samir & Viktor qualified from Andra Chansen last weekend, joining the eight direkt qualifiers. Here they all are, in recap and running order form:
- Groupie by Samir & Viktor
- Building It Up by JTR
- Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah
- Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren
- Can’t Hurt Me Now by Jessica Andersson
- Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw
- Forever Starts Today by Linus Svenning
- Don’t Stop by Isa
- Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson
- Sting by Eric Saade
- Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette
- Guld Och Gröna Skogar by Hasse Andersson
It’s an unusual running order by SVT standards, but you can find plenty of discussion on that subject elsewhere on the net (and it’ll make more sense than anything I could come up with). I’m going to leap straight in to my personal preferences and predictions.
My top five:
#1 | Heroes: A lá Melfest 2014, one of the favourites is also my favourite. On this occasion, it has nothing to do with how insanely attractive I find Måns, and everything to do with how excellent his song and staging are. Okay, that’s a lie. But I really do love the song.
#2 | Make Me (La La La): I was only too happy to bid Dolly Style farewell last week in favour of Miss Nah (not her real surname, though I wish it was). I love the costumes and choreography of this performance, and the song is a club dream with the perfect amount of 90s infusion.
#3 | Jag Är Fri: I couldn’t be less Sami, but there’s something about Jon’s joiking that I connect with on an emotional level. Throw in a Lion King-esque sound and an ethnic outfit and I’m sold.
#4 | Building It Up: I HAVE TO, GUYS. They’re Australia-associated! And you know I’m a sucker for boy band muzak. I genuinely enjoy this song, and if you’d seen JTR on the Aussie X Factor a few years ago, you’d know how much they’ve stepped up.
#5 | Groupie: I ALSO HAVE TO, GUYS. Groupie’s nothing on Samir & Viktor’s smash hit Success (despite the fact that it’s virtually the same song) but since the duo knocked my top Melfest ’15 song out of the race in Andra Chansen, I’ve decided to support them.
Getting on to who’s going to end up where on le scoreboard…well, every man and his schlager-loving dog have made their full, twelve-song prediction, so I think I’d better do the same. At risk of ending up dying of embarrassment.
- Måns Zelmerlöw – in a year where Eric Saade tried way too hard, the victory is Måns’ for the taking. If the song doesn’t do it, that adorable little cone-hat man will.
- Jon Henrik Fjällgren – the international juries will drag him out of winning contention, but don’t underestimate Sweden’s affection for JHF.
- Eric Saade – I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he ends the night lower than this.
- Dinah Nah – I’m tipping Dinah as the AC success of the year.
- Magnus Carlsson
- Jessica Andersson – Now we’re at the final stage, Can’t Hurt Me Now will come across blander than ever.
- Samir & Viktor
- Linus Svenning – There’s something missing here. People won’t connect with this like they did with Bröder.
- JTR – Anything BUT last will be a win for the boys, but with the cute guy vote already split multiple ways, they will struggle to charm their way out of the 10th-12th place region.
What do you reckon? Am I right or am I a moron with all the foresight of an Ikea meatball? Hit me with your tips for Sweden down below.
If you’re tuning in to Melfest, I hope to see you on Twitter where we can discuss the science of Hasse Andersson’s appeal in his homeland, among other things. We’ll also be able to console each other when the show’s over. I have a box of tissues and a tub of ice cream at the ready!
As the big 4-0 comes closer, what’s left?
Not a whole lot. But the good news – or bad news, if you’re as impatient as I am – is that selection season is not ending on the EBU-ordered submission date of Monday the 16th. Montenegro has put paid to that. After tonight, there are no more national finals on the calendar (nooooooooo) but here’s what we can expect.
Sunday March 15th
Albania (Elhaida Dani’s I’m Alive reveal)
Azerbaijan (internal selection…probably of Elnur Huseynov)
Russia (Polina Gagarina’s A Million Voices reveal)
Monday March 16th
Australia (Guy Sebastian’s song reveal)
San Marino (Anita Simoncini & Michele Perniola’s song reveal)
Tuesday March 17th
Montenegro (Knez’s Adio reveal)
And that’s it, ladies and gents. Shall we cry now or cry later?
Let’s cry later. I’d rather revel in the glory of posting my 400th FREAKING POST, and I’m sure you’d rather join me.
Fine. A party for one it is.
Enjoy your weekend, peeps!
ME: It’s Saturday again?
YOU: Yes…it tends to come around every seven days or so.
ME: Very funny. Did you know sarcasm is the lowest form of humour? I think you…
YOU: Just get on with the darn post, woman!
Alright. You didn’t have to be so rude. Anyway, it is Saturday again, and this time it’s an evening of three finals. That means three more songs to add to the slowly but surely growing list for 2012. Plus, it’s semi time in Sweden, which as you may know is one of my favourite topics of conversation. So let us converse!
I(celand) am Hungary for another song…
You may be disappointed or relieved to discover that I have virtually nothing to say about the Icelandic and Hungarian finals. Having listened religiously to all the songs from every NF so far, I decided to leave these two unheard so the winning songs are a total surprise – something I plan to do a few more times during the season.
My ears were exposed to one song from Iceland by Greta Salomé & Jonsi (man candy of Eurovision ’04) which was rather interesting, and with another before-seen artist in the mix (Regina from Euroband) I reckon something good should come from the country. Let’s hope there’s no horrible-but-all-consuming sob story detracting from the entry this time around.
And let’s all cross our fingers for Hungary to produce another qualifier while we’re at it.
Norsk MGP comes to a close
This is the first year I’ve followed NMGP with as much devotion as Melodifestivalen, and I’m glad I did because Norway produced a lot of songs that add to the bank of gems that didn’t make the ESC. Of course, there is one song still to make the ESC, but only one…and it’s something from down below:
- Stay by Tooji
- High on Love by Reidun Sæther
- Sailors by Lise Karlsnes
- Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
- Crush by Malin
- Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri
- Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors
- Things Change by Peter Øien & Bobby Bare
- Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
- Make It Better by Tommy Fredvang
My picks: For some reason Norway didn’t tailor their qualifiers 100% to my taste (???). If they had, I’d be commanding you all to root for Rikke Normann’s Shapeshifter (you will regret leaving that behind, Norwegians!). MGP 2012 has produced a decent final line-up however, and my picks of the bunch are Stay, Crush, Somewhere Beautiful and Sammen…although High on Love and Make It Better aren’t far behind. The song that would win the whole thing in a place called Jaz’s Perfect World – a.k.a. if I could decide on behalf of an entire country – is Stay, which I think could do wonders at Eurovision despite the Saade Effect. Or maybe because of the Saade Effect? There’s something to ponder, if you are very, very bored.
My prediction: Usually – not ALWAYS, but usually – it’s one of the songs that won a semi that wins the final of a selection process. If that’s the case, Norway’s representative in Baku will be Plumbo, Nora, or (heaven forbid – how did they get to the final?) Peter & Bobby. I’m definitely feeling in my gut a victory ahead for Plumbo or Nora, but if not, then it’ll be Reidun. I don’t know how you’re feeling about this final, but for me, if the winner is not The Carburetors/Peter & Bobby I will be pleased. The odds are in my favour – how are they looking for you?
Melodifestivalen: Volume II
Listening to the semi final songs for MF is always my Saturday night highlight. Semi #2 is especially exciting due to a certain genetically blessed blonde quartet (it’s Timoteij, in case you weren’t sure) who plucked/strummed/fiddled their way into many a fan’s heart in Melodifestivalen 2010 with Kom. Will they better the 5th place they got back then or will it be a shock early exit? We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime here’s their competition – tonight’s line-up:
- Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
- Baby Doll by Top Cats
- I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén
- Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt
- Stormande Hav by Timoteij
- Shout It Out by David Lindgren
- Det Går För Långsamt by Mimi Oh
- Ge Aldrig Upp by Thomas Di Leva
My picks: Soldiers, Aldrig Aldrig, Stormande Hav and Det Går För Långsamt.
Ulrik is going to be hard to beat. Combine his vocal talents with this catchy track and a face that could melt even Jon Ola Sand’s heart (is he genuinely of Eurovision age? He could easily pass as a primary-schooler) and you’ve got a package that practically screams ‘straight to the final’. I’ll be thrilled if Soldiers gets there because it’s better than I expected. Not ground-breaking, but going somewhere.
Aldrig Aldrig is a song that could do with a harder punch in the chorus, but I’m still liking it because it has just the right amount of schlager and dance.
I may be into Stormande Hav because I adore everything Timoteij have ever recorded, but I realise it’s no Kom and was never going to be, so when I say I love it I mean it. The folk-pop combo works every time when these girls get their hands/vocal chords on it, and apparently it’s a magic formula that can handle a sprinkling of dance beat. Bravo.
Det Går För Långsamt is another song with a chorus not as good as the verses promise, but I personally am not too fussed. It’s enjoyable and catchy, which is what I expect from Melodifestivalen entries for the most part.
My prediction: It’s a tough one to predict, but who says I have to be right? Thankfully nobody, or else I’d be in trouble. I’m going to say that Ulrik and Timoteij will get the golden tickets to the final, with Sonja and Andreas moving on to Andra Chansen.
That’s that. Apart from a semi final in Lithuania (I apologise for my lack of will to cover that as well) what you’ve just read is all the action that will take place around Europe tonight. Join me on Twitter, Facebook and pretty much everywhere else in the online universe tomorrow so we can discuss, dissect and possibly trash the fresh entries…and so much more.
Every year, during national final months, there’s one Saturday night that can only be described as crazy, for all the action it brings. Although come to think of it, the “official” description is Super Saturday, so…I guess you can say whatever you want about it. It’s an evening where there are so many semis and finals and whatnots going on that you have little hope of keeping up with it all even if you decide to stay in and not go out to a club and dance on a table into the wee small hours whilst slurring the lyrics to Ghetto Superstar and waving your underpants in the air (I don’t write from experience, I swear).
Well I’m here to tell that today is…
…not that Saturday. Sorry if I got your hopes up. Nonetheless, there are some big things happening tonight, including the selection of Baku’s next entry in Malta, and the first installment of my favourite national final in Sweden. Let’s get to the nitty gritty (INSERT APPLAUSE HERE for my use of the term ‘nitty gritty’) of this not-so-super-but-still-pretty-cool Saturday’s scheduled events.
The Maltese Falcon…er, I mean Final
Last night Malta had a semi final, but I won’t go into detail about that. The important thing is that we check out the final, because one of its 16 songs will be failing to qualify in Azerbaijan in a few months time.
Okay, that was mean of me. But I’m often so unimpressed by Malta’s finalists, and 2012 has been no exception. I feel like the island is stuck in a musical time warp when it comes to Eurovision. Let’s face it; Glen Vella was not the most current of acts. There are some good ones in this year’s group though, and I am pleased to say that my entire personal top 5 advanced from the semi.
- In Your Eyes by Lawrence Gray
- You Make Me Go Uh Uh by Deborah C. feat. Leila James
- Autobiography by Dorothy Bezzina
- Petals on a Rose by Gianni
- Pure by Claudia Faniello
- 7 Days by Danica Muscat
- I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song) by Fabrizio Faniello
- Mystifying Eyes by Corazon Mizzi
- Look At Me Now by Richard Edwards
- First Time by Kaya
- Answer With Your Eyes by Amber
- Time by Wayne Micallef
- This Is The Night by Kurt Calleja
- You Are My Life by Janvil
- No Way Back by Klinsmann
- Take Me Far by Francesca Borg
My picks: Look At Me Now, I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song), Answer With Your Eyes, No Way Back and 7 Days.
Look At Me Now is a Nickelback-esque rock track with two main things going for it (besides me) – firstly, it’s very Top 40, which as we now know could allow it to win Eurovision (if it came from somewhere other than Malta) and secondly, it works great live, thanks in no small part to Mr. Edwards. Rock on!
Fabrizio Faniello is back for the 178th time, probably wanting to make up for his dreadful and totally uncalled for result the last time he made it all the way to the big show in 2006. I Will Fight For You is tons better than his last NF entry, and I’d tentatively say it’s my favourite of what’s on offer. It sounds like a mash-up of See You Again by Miley Cyrus, Where Do You Go? by No Mercy and Temple of Love by B.W.O., but I’m partial to all of those songs (yes, even the Miley one) and if this is as close as we ever get to a megamix at Eurovision I’ll be happy.
Amber, Klinsmann and Danica also have decent if not amazing songs of varying genres. I’m hoping, but not expecting, one of them, Richard, or Fabrizio to win. Which brings me to…
My prediction: The reason I’m not expecting a win from my favourites is because my favourites have a knack of never winning. Still, I’m going to say Richard or Fabrizio could do it. Otherwise it’ll be Kurt Calleja, Wayne Micallef or Deborah C.*
* Anyone I predict to win also seems to coincidentally NEVER win, so keep that in mind.
Norway have a good final on their hands so far (which could be made excellent if they give Rikke Normann and Shapeshifter the wildcard place) and I hope the three qualifiers tonight keep the standard high. It’s not the best semi of NMGP this year, so that might not be as easy as it sounds.
- Stay by Tooji
- Si by Marthe Valle
- Things Change by Petter Øien & Bobby Bare
- Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
- The Greatest Day by Håvard Lothe Band
- Euphoria by Silya Nymoen
- Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time by The Canoes
- Sailors by Lise Karlsnes
My picks: Stay, Si and Sailors (ooh, alliteration!).
Tooji has been snubbed for being a clone of Eric Saade, but I have a few things to say about that:
A) There’s no way he’s looking in the mirror every morning and thinking ‘My God, do I look like Eric Saade or what!’
B) The song does not have a (practically) single-word chorus.
C) Where can I get a clone of Eric Saade? Do they have those on eBay?
Marthe Valle’s Si is a nice ballad, but it’ll have a hard time outshining Nora Foss Al-Jabri’s song should it make the final. Sailors is quirky electro-pop that could be very interesting live so long as nobody gets seasick onstage. I’m also thinking Lise should borrow Soluna Samay’s costume.
My prediction: If I was a betting woman, I’d put money on Stay, The Greatest Day and Euphoria to make the final.*
* The reason I’m not a betting woman is because I am usually wrong, as indicated by the previous asterisk.
FINALLY! Europe’s most-loved NF is beginning, and I’m so excited I just made an assumption about an entire continent! Melodifestivalen is almost as big a deal as the ESC itself, with 4 heats, a second-chance round and a final to its name, not to mention the Webjoker process that comes before everything else. The standard is often as high as Dana International’s hemlines, and Sweden’s biggest acts aren’t afraid to take part. On the list for 2012 are Ulrik Munther, Timoteij, Danny Saucedo, Charlotte Perrelli and Molly Sandén, to name a few…none of whom are in this first heat. Here’s who and what is (listen to the full songs here: www.svt.se/melodifestivalen)
- Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan
- På Väg by Abalone Dots
- I Want To Be Chris Isaak (This Is Just The Beginning) by The Moniker
- The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite
- Mystery by Dead By April
- Salt & Pepper by Marie Serneholt
- Jag Reser Mig Igen by Thorsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern
- Euphoria by Loreen
My picks: Sean Den Förste Banan, Mystery, Salt & Pepper and Euphoria.
Sean Den Förste Banan is a song I feel like I shouldn’t like – I mean, his name is in the title, for Petr Elfimov’s sake (rarely the sign of a high-quality song). But it’s so unbelievably catchy I can’t help myself.
Mystery, on the other hand, is a song I didn’t expect to like. The bits that don’t involve ‘death growl’ are actually really nice, and I can even see myself accepting the death growl in the future. The chorus is a knockout. Dead By April, I think you’re a dead cert for the final.
Salt & Pepper is familiar retro pop, and Euphoria is familiar dance pop, but there’s nothing wrong with familiarity! I am a little disappointed with Loreen who was one of my favourites last year, but I knew I would be – nothing could live up to her 2011 entry. What she’s got now in 2012 is pretty darn good.
My prediction: This post has been rather long, so I’ll give you a guess in one sentence: Mystery and Euphoria to the final and I Want To Be Chris Isaak (This Is Just The Beginning) and Salt & Pepper to Andra Chansen.
I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and see what happened in Malta, Norway and Sweden– follow me on Twitter (@EurovisionByJaz) for reactions.
And don’t forget to keep dropping by as the selection season continues!