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Selection Season Day 4: Three songs and a Swedish semi

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:

  1. Stay by Tooji
  2. High on Love by Reidun Sæther
  3. Sailors by Lise Karlsnes
  4. Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
  5. Crush by Malin
  6. Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri
  7. Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors
  8. Things Change by Peter Øien & Bobby Bare
  9. Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
  10. 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.

Rikke's dancers were as shocked by her failure to qualify as I was

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:

  1. Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
  2. Baby Doll by Top Cats
  3. I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén
  4. Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt
  5. Stormande Hav by Timoteij
  6. Shout It Out by David Lindgren
  7. Det Går För Långsamt by Mimi Oh
  8. 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.

Ulrik has a mug of warm milk before naptime at the nursery...just kidding!

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.

 

Jaz x

 

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

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

 

I I Ivi in La La Love

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

 

The Land of Fire wants you (to light yours)

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

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

  

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

Maybe I’ll learn to love it.

 

Who went where?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Norway, Vol. II

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is all…for now.