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MY 500th POST!!! Marking a milestone with the Melodifestivalen Favourites Tag <3

Hej och välkommen to my 500th post! I’m not kidding – there’s no crappy attempts at clickbait from me (this time). I’d say something like ‘Who would’ve thought there was that much Eurovision-related stuff in existence to be written about by someone who aspires to but has no hope of reaching the popularity status of WiwiBloggs?’…but we all know there’s enough discussable Eurovision-related stuff to last a lifetime. Especially when there’s another ESC, JESC and NF season for both every year.

In summary, there’s a 99.9% chance that I’ll be composing Post No. 1000 in about eight years’ time. Hopefully it has a less boring intro than this one.

Anyway, I know we’re in the midst of the 2017 national final season right now (with the German final taking place on Thursday and an action-packed weekend creeping closer), but I thought this milestone of a massive amount of ESC ramblings needed to be acknowledged. And, as my numero uno NF Melodifestivalen started on Saturday – the final of which I’m attending this year and that’s SO EXCITING I SIMPLY MUST USE CAPS LOCK – I’m going to celebrate Melfest-style. Someone hand me my rhinestone-spangled catsuit!

Basically, there’s a fun tag that’s been floating around Facebook lately (at least, in my feed) and it’s as simple as this: you name your favourite Melfest entry for each year that you’ve followed the comp. I thought I’d choose mine according to all the Melfests that have happened while I’ve been (apparently) busy blogging 499 times – 2010-2016. Then I realised that’s the exact period I’ve been following the show for anyway. It’s fate. So here we go…a.k.a. NU KÖR VI!!!

 

PS – As this is a tag, I tag each and every one of you reading this to list your favourite Melfest songs from your years of keeping tabs on the five-week extravaganza. Even if you just joined the party in 2016, let me know which entry was your most-loved last year.

 

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2010 | You’re Out Of My Life by Darin

The first Melfest to take place after the birth of Eurovision By Jaz (a birth that was not only painless but actually enjoyable, no drugs required) was fantastisk. Well, the final was – I have to admit, there were some questionable entries in the semis. But damn, Sweden, THAT FINAL! Even so, I can narrow the field down to my personal favourite song faster than most Ukrainian men can run on giant hamster wheels. The hugely successful runner-up of Idol 2004, Darin is my most beloved Swedish soloist in the history of Swedish soloists, and his one and only (to date *crosses fingers*) Melfest entry was the pinnacle of pop balladry in my opinion. If the music doesn’t move you, then check out the wind machine usage, which nearly moved the man himself off the stage and into the wings at supersonic speed. Sadly, it didn’t blow Anna Bergendahl, Salem al Fakir and Eric Saade away and out of the running.

Andra Chansen Kom by Timoteij

 

 

2011 | My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen

I’m going to break some bad news to you right now by saying that *SPOILER ALERT* this is the only time Loreen will appear on this list. Who knows – her 2017 Melfest entry Statements might end up in a Top 10 of mine in the future, but for now, it’s all about Loreen Vol. I. The first time we saw her compete, she made it into Andra Chansen but not out of it (I know…crazy, right?!?). The dance-pop dream with a hint of disco that is My Heart Is Refusing Me, though, was a winner in so many ways: from the catchiness, explosive chorus and overall cool factor to Loreen’s weirdly wonderful red top (I have been trawling op-shops in the hope of finding something similar ever since, and may eventually resort to feeding a plain red sweater into a document shredder). Because this track is more complex and unpredictable than Euphoria, I ever-so-slightly prefer it – and it’s far and away my favourite song served up to us by Melodifestivalen 2011.

Andra Chansen Popular by Eric Saade

 

 

2012 | Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky

It’s a good question. Why should you start a fire? I guess if you’re out in the wilderness and will freeze to death if you don’t rub some sticks together and get a flame going, then it’s probably a smart idea. But I’ll leave the extenuating circumstances of fire-starting at that, since they have nothing to do with my unconditional love for this song. Lisa, whose songwriting credits include boss-as-a-Billy-bookcase hits for herself and the likes of the Backstreet Boys (we have her to thank for Shape of My Heart), had a tough task topping the ten finalists of Melfest 2012. She ended up finishing second last – which wasn’t that shocking – but I for one think Why Start A Fire? is stunning. A mystical synth riff gives way to lush layers of music and vocals that, when they’ve run their course, make you (and by ‘you’, I mean ‘me) feel relaxed and re-energised – rather than exhausted, because you’ve just listened to something loud and watched a performance with more gimmicks than Sanna Nielsen has filled out Melfest application forms.

Andra Chansen Soldiers by Ulrik Munther

 

 

2013 | You by Robin Stjernberg

At last – the first Melfest year of my blogging career in which my number one competing song went on to win the whole thing! Against all the odds, too. Robin’s NF story is the ultimate underdog tale of a ridiculously good singer who entered what was a pretty weak edition of Sweden’s crowning TV glory (as they were hosting Eurovision in 2013, however, they can be forgiven for not trying too hard to produce an epic host entry). He didn’t manage to go direkt, instead ending up in Andra Chansen and making most of us count him out FTW. Then he did win, making him the first non-direct finalist in the existence of the AC round to do so. And he did it with an awesome, heartfelt pop anthem with one heck of a hook (you-ooh-ooh-ooooooooohhh, in case you were wondering). You also boasts a money note that, when Robin belted it out on the Malmö Arena stage, was powerful enough to produce a pyro curtain. I assume it was his vocal strength that did it, rather than your average pyrotechnics consultant backstage somewhere. Don’t burst my bubble.

Andra Chansen Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar

 

 

2014 | Undo by Sanna Nielsen

Speaking of your one true NF love taking the trophy home (along with an ‘Admit One’ ticket to Eurovision) – it happened to me for the second year running in 2014. Undo marked Sanna’s seventh Melfest participation, following mixed results for her in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011. It didn’t take seven of anything to have me hooked though. So much so that, despite having been Team Empty Room when it came to Sanna’s best entry, it wasn’t long before I’d bumped her ’08 runner-up down to the runner-up position on my list (my mental list…I don’t have a physical paper Sanna ranking). Undo, for me personally, is peak pop power ballad perfection. The soft vulnerability of the first verse, the break between the second and last chorus and the finish contrast goosebumpingly (I hereby decree that a proper word even though Spellcheck wasn’t a fan) with the simple but powerful choruses – and Miss Nielsen nailed every note, every time. This may not be a popular opinion, but I definitely think she won Melodifestivalen with her strongest submission. Nothing else would have scored her a bronze medal at Eurovision – not even Empty Room.

Andra Chansen Survivor by Helena Paparizou

 

 

2015 | Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw

It was third time lucky for MZW at Melfest, and the third year in a row that the results went my way. Can anyone really argue that Heroes shouldn’t have won the NF when it went on to win Eurovision? That’s a rhetorical question, so don’t try to start something in the comments. The song itself was worthy of winning both contests as far as I’m concerned, being the Avicii-inspired anthem with a karaoke dream chorus that it is. But you can’t mention Heroes and not talk about the visuals that elevated it from great to even greater (and I’m not referring to Måns’ muscles and THOSE LEATHER TROUSERS). We all fell in love with the original stick man – who turned out not to be so original in the end, so he got a bit fatter and wore a different hat for the ESC. We followed his journey from being downtrodden and dragged away by a balloon to having the privilege of fist-bumping his older, flesh-and-blood self (who had swapped overalls for THOSE LEATHER TROUSERS). And that, plus the slick lighting scheme and choreography, made Heroes a flawlessly-packaged entry that ticked every box, both in Melfest and at Eurovision. I love it just as much now as I did two years ago (!).

Andra Chansen Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone

 

 

2016 | Human by Oscar Zia

These days, with 28 songs competing in Melfest each year, I’m bound to like or love at least 25 of them (Swedish songwriters just know how to float my boat). So did I like or love If I Were Sorry? Yes. Was it my ideal winner/host entry for Sweden in Stockholm? No, to tell you the truth. My votes – if I’d been able to cast any – would have gone straight to Oscar Zia, who started out in the show as a backing vocalist, returned a year later on his own, then made a massive comeback – having come out of the closet and evolved stylistically and hair-stylistically – with Human. You know I love (most) modern power ballads, but when a modern power ballad comes equipped with edge and a moody atmosphere like this one, someone’s going to have to haul me up off the floor where I have swooned. As with Måns, what we saw was just as important as what we heard when Oscar had his technically-third try for the Melfest trophy. Storm clouds and intense, quick camera cuts made the performance memorable without the need for an entire supermarket aisle’s worth of bells and whistles. The whole thing was so magical, it annoys me beyond belief that there’s no watchable video of it accessible in Australia (as far as I can tell). So enjoy – or not – the lyric video I stuck here. Closing your eyes and just listening is still an epic experience, after all.

Andra Chansen Constellation Prize by Robin Bengtsson

 

 

Whew – think yourselves lucky that I didn’t discover Melodifestivalen in 1991 (I was too busy being a baby). As it stands, my waffling on is…well, off, so it’s time for you to list your own favourites. Which Swedish songs have you cheered for the most over the years? Is there ANYTHING we agree on, or is it true that one person’s treasure is another’s trash? I want answers, people!

 

Until next time (the upcoming NF-antastic weekend)…

 

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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

Molly-Sanden-Melodifestivalen-2016-Youniverse

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?
lynda_woodruff

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 (AND SUNDAY) #3 | Two new 2016 tracks, controversial contest changes and a few fantastic finals!

It’s that time again, guys. Another February weekend is upon us, and it’s another frantic one. BRILLIANT! *dances on her own á la Robyn*.

Without further ado, let’s whip out that NF calendar and see what’s on the program for today and tomorrow.

This evening:

  • Estonia’s Eesti Laul – the second semi final (go, Grete Paia, go!)
  • Finland’s UMK – the third semi final (with three more final tickets up for grabs)
  • Hungary’s A Dal – the second semi final (can returnees Passed…well, pass?)
  • Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin – the final (it’s Greta Salomé’s for the taking)
  • Lithuania’s Eurovizijos – the seventh show (for god’s sake, Lithuania, just get on with it!)
  • Sweden’s Melodifestivalen – the third semi final (SAY YAY YAY YAY)

On Sunday night:

  • Latvia’s Supernova – the semi final (feat. fan favourite Justs)
  • Ukraine’s Still-Untitled NF – the final (it’s going to be an epic showdown)

Okay, so it’s not quite as crazy as last weekend. But I’m hoping it won’t be as disappointing, either (Ukraine, I’m looking at you. Don’t do a Denmark). For today’s reviews and predictions, I’m narrowing my scope and focusing purely on the goings-on in Sweden and Ukraine – and throwing in some thoughts on the songs and shocks of the week while I’m at it.

Let’s get cracking.

 

 

STOCKHOLM UPDATE: Two more entries make eleven + the stage is set + point changes + Poli = spontaneous combustion

Whew! This week has been bigger than Linda Wagenmaker’s tent dress when it comes to ESC 2016 news, with song presentations, artist announcements and voting revamps all bombarding us within a short space of time. For those of you still standing there shaking your heads and wondering what the heck is going on, here’s a recap of the most newsworthy headlines from the week just gone.

Bosnia & Herzegovina, back with a bang? Ljubav Je by Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner & Jala (try saying that sentence three times fast when drunk. Or when sober – it won’t really make a difference) was premiered last night, but did it meet expectations? Well, that depends on what your expectations were. Personally, I was hoping for some Balkan drama, and I would say I got it. There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen here – specifically, two vocalists, a violinist and a rapper – and they all came together (SLOGAN JOKE) to film a video clip on par with Mihai Traistariu’s Paradisio in terms of tackiness (though this one probably cost five Euros as opposed to 15 000). But…I like this track. It’s bringing ethnicity to a field that is, so far, lacking in sounds that say ‘This is where we come from’. I suspect Ljubav Je will be bigger and better on stage than it is in studio, but we’ll have to wait and see how it travels. One thing’s for sure: it’s hard to associate 2016 Deen with the hip-thrusting, bleached-blonde Deen from 2004. Are we sure it’s the same person?

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Hair today, gone tomorrow…well, gone twelve years later.

Georgia’s Midnight Gold: Nika Kocharov & the Young Georgian Lolitaz officially have their tune for the contest too, and it’s…un-Eurovision, to say the least. But I have to say, I’m digging it! It’s very reminiscent of Australian alt-rock, which is not normally a genre I enjoy – but there’s something cool about Georgia’s take on it. It will do horribly at Eurovision (no Midnight Gold or any-other-time gold for Nika and his pals) but I’m happy to do some lethargic head-banging to it nonetheless.

Stockholm’s stage design, revealed: Ja – and it’s a whopper! This year’s stage has been met with overwhelming approval, with many fans citing an aversion to Vienna’s as their reason for loving Stockholm’s so much (which is a little mean, IMO). I reckon the giant, geometric performance platform will look ultra-impressive in real life. Plus, it’ll apparently allow the artists to move “within” an LED backing wall, which will be interesting and/or painful if done incorrectly.

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Round is out, and angles are in. (Photo Credit: SVT)

Chasing a nail-biting conclusion, the EBU approve a massive voting overhaul: Less popular with fans was the announcement that contest voting – or at least, the method of presenting points – will change in a massive way by taking inspiration from Melodifestivalen. Basically, the jury points will be handed out as usual, with spokespersons doing their 8, 10 and 12 duties. But later on, our gracious and good-looking hosts Måns and Petra (#Måntra) will proceed to award the collective televoting points, from lowest to highest, to each country. On the surface, I love the idea – after all, it keeps the winner secret until the last possible second, meaning there can be no more early exclamations of ‘It’s no longer possible for any other country to win!’ (which I only just finished complaining about over on ESC Insight). But, as with anything, there are pros and cons to the change. Both have been explored in more detail than I could dream of by the folks at Insight (who are not paying me to promote them, by the way) so hit that article up if you want the whole picture.

Poli Genova doing her duty for Bulgaria, again: To nobody’s surprise, Junior Eurovision 2015 hostess and Eurovision 2011 alumni Poli is back for a second crack at escaping her semi final. I think the majority of us agree she should have qualified in Düsseldorf, so now’s her chance to get revenge. On whom, I’m not quite sure. But she’s amazing, so let’s hope her song is the same.

 

Speaking of amazing music…let’s move on to Sweden and Ukraine, the locations of this weekend’s best NF installments as far as I’m concerned.

No offence to Iceland, or anywhere else, intended.

 

 

SWEDEN: Melfest’s next stop = Norrköping!

It’s hard to believe we’re at the halfway point of the six-week Melfest saga already. And, due to the recent Molly Sandén Incident (a.k.a. Leakgate), we’ve already heard snippets or full versions of every competing song for 2016. We’ve heard the host entry, in some capacity. Which song will have that title bestowed on it remains a mystery – especially in the lead-up to a semi as strong as this evening’s. I’m just saying, don’t put all your savings down on Ace or Molly S just yet.

Deltävling 3 looks like this:

  1. Kizunguzungu by SaRaha
  2. You Carved Your Name by Swingfly feat. Helena Gutarra
  3. Weight of the World by Smilo
  4. Kom Ut Som En Stjärna by After Dark
  5. My Heart Wants Me Dead by Lisa Ajax
  6. Put Your Love On Me by Boris René
  7. Human by Oscar Zia
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Aw, they all look so happy. Well, some of them do.

The first comment I have to make is this: ‘Kizunguzungu’ is my new favourite word. I have absolutely no idea what it means – if anything – but SaRaha is having it given to her by the object of her affection, so I’m guessing it means ‘an expensive, diamond-studded Rolex’ or something like that. Or, you know…the other thing.

But I’m not here to deliver a sex talk, so let’s move on to my second, less smutty comment: this semi is TOO DAMN GOOD. There are more than four songs I want to see advance, and knowing that’s impossible is driving me crazy. #firstworldmelfestfanproblems. I’m pretty convinced that, while one ticket till final is more or less taken by a certain someone who may or may not be performing in slot seven, the other – and the two second chances – could be anybody’s.

These are the songs I’d like to see fighting over places one to four:

  • Weight of the World The Svensktoppen Nästa winners always bring something special to Melfest, and they’re NEVER rewarded for it. I sincerely hope Smilo are the exception, because their blend of tropical house (their words, not mine) and Avicii-style folk-dance is the bomb. I really love this. It may not be a great performance piece, though.
  • My Heart Wants Me Dead I’ve been familiar with Lisa ever since her unsuccessful JESC bid a few years back, and I’m so happy she’s popped up in Melfest. Her song is a little bit Selena Gomez, a little bit Zara Larsson, and 100% killer. She won over the Swedish public on Idol…can she do the same tonight?
  • Put Your Love On Me Not bad for a footballer! If Panetoz sung in English, this is just the kind of thing I’d expect them to come out with, and that’s a huge plus. The chorus is repetitive, but when a song’s this irresistibly catchy, who cares? Not me.
  • Human Last, but not least (he is, in fact, my favourite) is the beautiful creature that is Oscar Zia. His second attempt to represent Sweden comes with a maturity that was lacking in his last Melfest entry Yes We Can. Human is a contemporary, ear-catching power ballad that will end tonight’s performances with a bang, and a ticket to the final. Watch out, Ace/Molly S.

PS – I also love the joyous Afro-pop of Kizunguzungu. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: anything that could have made the cut for The Lion King soundtrack is guaranteed to be up my street.

So, who’s going direkt? I DON’T KNOW!!! Besides Oscar, of course. Him aside, I need major help. I’m leaning towards SaRaha or Lisa, but this is such a tough semi, I can’t split them – and there’s always the chance of someone else sneaking through (apart from After Dark). I don’t want to sit on the fence, so I’ll be brave and say Oscar…and SaRaha.

Who’s off to Andra Chansen? Swingfly and Lisa? Smilo and Lisa? This bit’s just as hard to predict. I think Smilo’s song is stronger than Swingfly’s, but a precedent has been sent for Svensktoppen wildcards to fail at the first hurdle. I’m going to stick with Swingfly and Lisa.

 

What do you think? This semi is the most competitive yet, so we’re likely to see another surprise (such as Isa’s failure to go straight to the final last week). Who’s off to Friends Arena, who’s getting a second chance, and who’s going home to consume copious tubs of ice cream in the wake of a crushing defeat?

 


UKRAINE: Six sensational songs must become one…so who IS the one?

It’s not as clear-cut a final as you might think.

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Based on the results of the two semi finals, the frontrunners are Jamala and SunSay. But, with staging and costuming supposedly being ramped up for Sunday’s show (how The Hardkiss are planning on upping their costume game, I don’t know) – and the desire to win burning feverishly in the six acts’ bodies (I assume) – anything is possible. Ukraine can choose between very good and superb when it comes to the cream of their crop. That’s these guys:

  1. Every Monday by Brunettes Shoot Blondes
  2. Higher by NuAngels 
  3. Helpless by The Hardkiss
  4. 1944 by Jamala
  5. Love Manifest by SunSay
  6. We Do Change by Pur:Pur 

THEY’RE ALL SO GOOD. There’s nothing here that I would turn my nose up at in the context of this NF – but there are songs that would make better Eurovision entries than others, and songs I personally prefer.

My top three 1944, Higher and Helpless. As I said when I reviewed the first semi, I hated Jamala’s song in 2011, but she has blown me away this time around. 1944 is stunning. Poignant and unique, it blends 90s sounds with now sounds to create something that’s sentimental in the least nauseating way possible. And her vocal? Wow. I have no other words. NuAngels and The Hardkiss don’t even measure up, but they do have great songs up their sleeves. Higher is as catchy as heck, and the anti-Cezar nature of the ladies’ voices is a talking point (I think they took outfit advice from Cezar, funnily enough). As a package, this entry could serve Ukraine well at Eurovision. The Hardkiss have an intense, melancholy-but-powerful ballad in Helpless, which is wonderfully dramatic (it needs to be used to back a movie trailer, stat). If they make it to Eurovision, they’d have the potential to pull an Alyosha, should the scene be suitably set.

Who should win? Yes, I have three favourites – but the fairest of them all is Jamala, by a mile. This final has the potential to devastate me like Denmark’s did, should she not win. 1944, though kind of controversial in subject matter, is hauntingly beautiful and incredibly alluring (no bells, whistles or fire curtains are required to make it stand out). Nothing else in this final stacks up in terms of substance or style. I feel like everything happens for a reason, and in this case, I think Jamala lost out back in 2011 so she could come back with 1944 in 2016 (if that made any sense) and win her way to the ESC with zero cheese involved. Make it happen, Eurovision gods…or even Kanye West will cower in terror at the sheer force of my tantrum.

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How could anyone say no to that face?

Who will win? It’s between Jamala, SunSay and NuAngels, I’m thinking. The former two acts won their respective semis, but should voters and jurors be divided when the pair go head-to-head, NuAngels could be the ones to nab the bulk percentage of points (making them this week’s Lighthouse X, only female and in possession of a more memorable song). Ultimately, my heart and head say Jamala. But is that wishful thinking? You tell me.

 

Seriously, tell me. If you have any hopes, dreams or expectations for this weekend’s NF results – and not just concerning the NFs I’ve rambled about today – let me know below. Is Greta Salomé a shoo-in to win in Iceland? Could Melfest’s fan favourite (and mine) Oscar Zia stumble and end up in Andra Chansen? Spill, people. You know you want to.

 

I’m going to say goodbye for now, but if you want to catch up with me on Twitter tonight (during Melfest) and tomorrow night (during the Ukrainian show), tweet me @EurovisionByJaz. I can’t guarantee any particular country’s outcome, but I can guarantee hilarious banter. That’s just as good, right?

 

Until next time…

 

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A Supersized Serving of Scandipop: My Top 50 Melodifestivalen Entries, 2006-2015! (#50-#31)

Hallå, och välkommen till…um…nope, still not quite at the point where I can string together an entire introduction i Svenska. But I’ll get there. Possessing such a skill would have been ultra-appropriate today, though, given the subject matter of this post. There’s no need for me to explain it to you – the title tells you everything you need to know. Well, apart from one or two or three teeny tiny things:

  • Melodifestivalen is far and away my favourite pre-ESC national final (which may be cliché, but I don’t give a crap) so I’ll take any opportunity to celebrate its sheer sensational-ness. I’ve never posted a Melfest ranking before, so with that in mind – plus the fact that the 2016 edition of the show is creeping ever closer – I’m considering this window of time before NF season crazy-time begins as an opportunity more golden than Herreys’ shiny boots.
  • I realise that a Top 50 of Melfest spanning 1959 (the year of its inception) to present would have been more spectacular, but there’s just so much magnificent music to choose from, even limiting myself to the last ten years was a challenge. Besides, I’m far more familiar with the entries from 2006 onwards – i.e. the year I discovered the definitions of ‘Eurovision’ and ‘national finals’. You can, however, expect a more vintage view of the comp in the future.
  • There are a lot of entries from the last two/three years of Melfest in this first installment of the countdown, but I can assure you that trend does not (completely) continue in the #30-11 and Top 10 episodes. Just FYI.

Now, with that trio of housekeeping points taken care of, let’s get started! I’ve embedded some videos of the listed tracks below, but if you want to see and watch them all in one place, check out this playlist.

Sverige (and everywhere else)…vi har ett resultat.

Well, some of it, anyway.

 

Melfest50a

 

#50 | Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren (2015) No, I’m not joiking. As much as I love the standard Scandipop fare Melfest predominantly serves up, it was refreshing to have something on the NF’s most recent programme that managed to be super-Swedish without *Googles the songwriters just in case* having Thomas G:son’s name attached to it. Jag Är Fri could be the theme song for a tourist campaign urging us all to visit Lapland – and it totally works on me. I wonder if I could squeeze in a side trip while I’m i Sverige?

 

#49 | På Väg by Abalone Dots (2012)

 

#48 | Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette (2015) If it hadn’t been for the extremely predictable lyrics peppering this track from Mariette – and the presence of Måns + Stick Måns in Melfest 2015, of course – I’d have happily said ‘Si!’ to Sweden sending a cool, contemporary ballad-but-not-quite kind of pop song to Vienna. My favourite thing about this is how dynamic and drama-packed it is, without ever being OTT. It’s got a great melody, and overall, isn’t half as cheesy as you might expect a song called Don’t Stop Believing to be.

 

#47 | Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah (2015)

 

#46 | Stay The Night by Alcazar (2009) It’d practically be illegal to put together a list like this and NOT include Alcazar, unless you’re the President of the Anti-Schlager Society. Now, I’m not exactly heading up the Pro-Schlager Party, but I’ve always found Alcazar’s sound-alike Melfest entries to be infectiously irresistible. Stay The Night (the superior version of 2014’s Blame It On The Disco) is so textbook, you could sing it in your sleep even if you’d heard a minute-long snippet and nothing more. But there’s a certain appeal in such familiarity…and in that freaking catchy chorus.

 

#45 | Stormande Hav by Timoteij (2012)

 

#44 | Begging by Anton Ewald (2013) One of several surprise successes of Melodifestivalen 2013 (both Anton and Robin Stjernberg failed to qualify direkt til final, only to emerge victorious from Andra Chansen and finish 4th and 1st respectively), Begging became a big success in the Swedish charts too, and I understand why. Produced to perfection and not as derivative as your average dance track, it’s a frantically-paced club banger that I think holds its own without Anton busting many a move to add interest – partly because in studio, his vocals don’t suffer for the sake of enthusiastic pelvic thrusting. Forget about his comeback track Natural (although I personally liked that too)…it was during his debut as a frontman that he had the best musical weapon at his disposal.

 

#43 | Hello Goodbye by Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli (2013)

 

#42 | Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan (2012) GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT. I never wanted to enjoy this – even considering my crappy taste in movies and books, it should have been too low-brow for me – but what can I say? I’m easily swayed by an ear worm, and SDFB is nothing if not one heck of an ear worm. Also, bananas are my favourite fruit, and Sean has a penchant for them too, so…there’s that.

 

#41 | Falling by State of Drama (2013)

 

#40 | För Din Skull by Kalle Johansson (2015) The pre-comp Svensktoppen Nästa winners always get a raw deal in Melfest, methinks – never advancing anywhere (they’re lucky if they don’t come last in their semis). Still, I’m always a fan of their entries, and Kalle’s is no exception because it is adorable, dammit. Retro-flavoured pop doesn’t always float my boat, but För Din Skull (For Your Sake) is tinged, rather than soaked, with a slightly Sixties flavour, which lends itself very well to the Swedish language. I also really like the sound of Kalle’s voice, so all in all, this entry is sounding good, sugar (to me, at least).

 

#39 | I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar (2015)

 

#38 | Bröder by Linus Svenning (2014) Before he informed us that Forever Starts Today, Linus proved that you don’t have to opt for a ballad if you want to move people – move them straight to the nearest box of tissues, in this case. Written for him by Fredrik Kempe about the death of Linus’ brother (hence the title), Bröder is far more rocky than most tributes to a lost loved one. It does start out in ballad territory, giving you a chance to notice how pretty the melody is, before upping the ante and turning hard(er)core. I loved Bröder from the first listen, felt the emotion behind it, and practically jumped for joy when it scored a second chance and made it to the 2014 final.

 

#37 | Around The World by Dr Alban feat. Jessica Folcker (2014)

 

#36 | Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson (2015) A year ago, I would NEVER have considered including this song in my top fifty. After all, it was Magnus “I Can’t Feel My Face (Because of all the Botox)” Carlsson crashing Melfest yet again, with yet another been-there-heard -that schlager number. All of those things remain true, but the song has wormed its way into my brain and affections over time. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly superficial, all I want out of my music is a catchy tune. On that, Möt Mig I Gamla Stan delivers, and y’all can bet I’ll be singing the shiz out of it when I’m actually wandering around Gamla Stan.

 

#35 | Red by EKO (2014)

 

#34 | One By One by Elize Ryd & Rickard Söderberg (2015) Robbed of a place in Andra Chansen last year (IMO), this poperatic confection worked to a degree I didn’t expect. Sure, Rickard comes off a little too showy to be taken seriously at times, but Elize’s vocal saves the day, and the two do manage to mesh for the most part. One By One itself has a nice mix of light and shade, verses that are as interesting as the choruses, and a show-stopping money note from Rickard, prior to chorus no. 2, which gives me goosebumps.

 

#33 | Living To Die by Andreas Johnson (2015)

 

#32 | Yes We Can by Oscar Zia (2014) High School Musical met Melodifestivalen two years ago, when Oscar followed up his backing-singer-for-Behrang-Miri gig with a song about dancing in his underwear. Well, it was about other stuff too, but that was mentioned – and since it was okay for Lena to divulge the deets of her knickers to millions, I say it was okay for Oscar too. I feel like this entry is a rare one to fangirl over, but if I am one of just a few who’d say yes to Yes We Can, then so be it. This song’s epic! It packs a punch, it’s fun to sing along to…you can really let your hair down and rock out to it. And it reminds me of summer, making it a summer anthem, which automatically makes it awesome.

 

#31 | Euphoria by Loreen (2012)

 

 

Talk about ending on a (euphoric) high! Although, if you’re a massive Loreen fan, you might think seeing her ranked outside of the Top 10 is the lowliest of lows. In that case, don’t worry, because she might just crop up again in the countdown *insert mysterious, cliffhanger-type music here*.

 

I hope you enjoyed this supersized serving of Scandipop, with some Scandirock and Scandiotherstuff thrown in for good measure, even if you disagreed with some/all of my choices. Once again, here’s the full playlist:

 

Now’s the time for you to post your own #31-#50, or simply have your say on my song selections, in the comments below. Go on…do it for Christer Björkman.

I’ll be back in a few days’ time with more Melfest goodness – specifically, unveiling the Top 50 from #30 through to #11. As Anton Ewald would (probably) say, I’m begging *pelvic thrust* you to drop by and count them down with me!

 

 

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Vote, vote, vote for the winner! Of Melodifestivalen, that is…

Hello there. So, in my last post, I promised that Melodifestivalen madness would take over my next ramble, with a poll AND a top 10 focused on what is the most Eurovision-like national final around. I intend to keep that promise, however…now that the Melfest final is full up for another year, I couldn’t resist getting my poll on early, for reasons such as a) I don’t want to be the absolute last person to do it; b) I want to give you guys more time to vote; and c) I seriously need help predicting the winner of this year’s comp, and I figured this might help with that. I’ll add my Top 10 Melfest entries of the last five years into this post later in the week, but right now, let’s get our poll awn, y’all!

I’m asking you – yes, you (love that shirt, by the way) – this very important question. This isn’t about who should win Melfest in your opinion; it’s about who you believe will sing their way into the good graces of Sweden and the international juries and head off to Copenhagen in May.

Consider your choice carefully…the correctness of my upcoming prediction depends on it!

Spread the word and get your friends, family, mailman, newsagent and that creepy guy staring at you on the bus to vote for the likely winner. Le results will be revealed prior to Saturday’s final (duh!) so get in while it still makes sense.

BRB…voting myself.

 

Söngvakeppnin, another Swedish semi, and a mini newsy roundup!

To quote Outkast (as a new way of greeting y’all) hey ya! A week ago I promised to be back mid-week reporting on whatever happened that Saturday night, which didn’t quite work out…as in it didn’t work out at all. I blame technical difficulties and a serious case of Olympic fever. Still, I’m here now when it really counts, on another Super Saturday. Though I think we’re all using the term ‘super’ loosely on this one, because there isn’t a heap going on. We are getting one entry for Copenhagen, plus more Melodifestivalen, however, and that’s worth getting excited about.

In addition to rambles about that NF action, I’ll also be glossing over some of the news of the past seven days – again, of which there hasn’t been that much. But rest assured there’s always something happening in the Land of Eurovision. It’s just sometimes you need a magnifying glass, search party, metal detector and sniffer dog to find it.

Here’s what I managed to track down this week.

 

The titular newsy roundup

Because what else would I call this segment?

  • Malta: MESC 2014 finished in style last weekend, with Malta’s answer to Mumford & Sons (a.k.a. Firelight) scoring the ticket to Denmark with Coming Home. Forget coming home – I’m still coming to terms with the fact that they aren’t Daniel Testa with One Last Ride (who, as I suspected he might, ended the night in the top three). With the way things turned out, I don’t think our favourite tiny island will be hosting JESC and adult Eurovision consecutively, but I do like this entry. Yes, comparisons to other songs can be so easily drawn with it, and yes, the performance in the final came off a bit messy…but the former may actually help Firelight (a sense of familiarity rarely hurts) and the latter shouldn’t be an issue come May.
Firelight managed not to choke on their celebratory confetti, as far as I know.

Firelight managed not to choke on their celebratory confetti, as far as I know.

 

  • Sweden: Unsurprisingly, Sanna Nielsen sailed through to the final of Melodifestivalen at the pointy end of Saturday’s second semi with the lovely Undo (it’s been stuck in my head all week). Somewhat surprisingly, my beloved Panetoz nabbed the remaining spot with Efter Solsken, the only Swedish-language song in the final at the moment. It’s times like that when I’m happy to be a hopeless NF predictor. Joining Helena Paparizou and co in Andra Chansen was reality show alumni J.E.M, and winner of Melfest 2005 Martin Stenmarck, whose song and performance bore no resemblance to that of Las Vegas (yay or nay, depending which way you look at it). It was a pretty good result all round.
  • Romania: Paula Seling & Ovi may be in it to win it (again) in their home country, but it turned out to be a thumbs-down from fellow former rep Mihai Trăistariu, whose ballad I’m Sorry would have been a strong contender in the NF. Despite telling us all back in Athens that he’d return (via Tornero, of course) he’s not going to in 2014. Torner-NOOOO!
  • Belarus: Cheesecake is still going to Copenhagen (at this stage) but TEO has suffered a Valentina Monetta. Just as her Facebook became a social network, so too has his Google Maps undergone de-branding. The Google lyric has had to be changed as per the ESC rulebook, which is a bit of a shame as I liked how specific TEO was about his means of escape, but it doesn’t make a huge difference.
  • Russia: Okay, so this isn’t exactly current ESC news, but there is a contest connection. If you’ve been watching the Olympic figure skating (as I have, until ridiculously late at night/early in the morning) you may have seen the legendary Evgeny Plushenko injure himself during the warm-up for the men’s singles comp, and withdraw about a minute later, bringing his career to an abrupt end. It was über unfortunate to say the least. But the man has given us decades of graceful yet manly routines, including the one that, let’s face it, sealed the deal for Dima Bilan in Belgrade (see, there IS a connection!). So I hereby embed that very performance into this post in a tribute to the incomparable Mr. Plushenko. Watch with mute on if you must.

 

I may have used the word ‘news’ loosely when it comes to all of the above, but the less time we spend mulling over that, the better. Moving on…

 

Iceland – it’s time to decide!

That’s right – Thor’s Eythor’s reign is over. Iceland will hopefully be weeding the next Yohanna out of their six-strong field tonight after several weeks of Söngvakeppnin semis. I’ll admit (because you’d soon realise anyway) that I haven’t been following Söngvakeppnin at all this year. Each NF season, I’m selective about what I do follow and what I leave as a total surprise, and in 2014, I want a surprise from Iceland. With any luck, it’ll be a good one. If you’ve been paying attention, let me know. Is this a top-notch bunch of finalists?

  1. Þangað Til ég Dey by F.U.N.K.
  2. Amor by Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir
  3. Lífið Kviknar á Ný by Sigríður Eyrún Friðriksdóttir
  4. Von by Gissur Páll Gissurarson
  5. Eftir Eitt Lag by Greta Mjöll Samúelsdóttir
  6. Enga Fórdoma by Pollapönk

Looking at this list, I’m struck by two things: a) why don’t more Icelanders use stage names? It would make life much easier for the rest of us; and b) they all look promising somehow. You can’t judge a song based on its title or who’s singing it, but there’s something about stuff like Amor and Pollapönk (which I swear was a magical creature featured in the Harry Potter books) that gets me excited. As I’m in the dark save for my attraction to song and human titles, I’ll leave it up to Iceland to make the best decision.

Although…I can’t help having a stab at predicting the winner based on words alone. I’m getting vibes from Eftir Eitt Lag, guys. If it doesn’t win, I’m getting my vibe detector serviced.

 

Third time lucky for Sweden’s Melfest?

Now onto an NF I have been following and can talk about with some level of authority! Woohoo! Melodifestivalen continues this week in the city of Göteborg, and like the past two weeks, this semi’s line-up consists of a good mixture of old favourites, returnees and newbies, namely:

  1. Echo by Outtrigger
  2. Red by EKO
  3. Yes We Can by Oscar Zia
  4. Burning Alive by Shirley Clamp
  5. All We Are by State of Drama
  6. En Enkel Sång by CajsaStina Åkerström
  7. Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder 
  8. Around The World by Dr. Alban & Jessica Folcker
This is what a great semi final looks like.

This is what a great semi final looks like.

In terms of quality, it’s definitely third time lucky for Sweden. For the first time, I’ve had trouble picking my top 4, and whilst that means there will be casualties tonight, it also means Melfest is back on form. Exclamation mark!

After much internal debate, here are my personal favourites:

Red – I have to wonder if EKO have a thing for Margaret Berger, because this song has echoes of I Feed You My Love for sure. Is that a problem? Um, no. Not at all.

Yes We Can – Oscar Zia is precious (think a snack-size Eric Saade) and his song is like all the High School Musical soundtracks rolled into one, only without all the cheese. Cute, catchy, and most likely endorsed by Barack Obama, it gets my stamp of approval.

Busy Doin’ Nothin’ – Nothin’ but giving us a great, current addition to the line-up, that is. This dance-fest (with a slight country edge) is pretty ace, Ace.

Around The World – Dr. Alban was big in the 90s, so it’s not surprising that his entry brings Ace of Base to mind. It also brings to mind OMG I LOVE IT PLEASE LET IT QUALIFY.

You know what comes next: predictions. It is a tough ask, guessing Melfest. Unless there’s two runaway standouts, how do you draw the line between what ought to go straight to the final and what deserves a second chance? That’s a serious question. Please, would somebody let me know?

To the final: Outtrigger and Oscar Zia

To Andra Chansen: Ace Wilder and Shirley Clamp

 

With only one more batch of Melfest entries left unheard, we could already be acquainted with the winner. I don’t think the same goes for Eurovision itself. There’s the possibility of success, but not victory, amongst the teensy group of entries chosen. Could the winning song come from Iceland? Sweden, after a year’s break? Or maybe even Hungary, heading towards the climax of A Dal with semi finals on tonight and tomorrow? All will be revealed…well, in May. But the coming month will give us all the options, at least.

 Enjoy what this evening brings, fellow ESC-ers, and leave me your thoughts on pretty much anything below 🙂

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