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EBJ’s Top 10…could-haves and should-haves of the 2015 national final season

First things first: I have an apology to issue. That apology is to this blog, for missing its sixth birthday last week. Oops.

I’m a terrible mother blogger, I know. But in the wake of my recent 400th post celebrations (and with life’s general chaos all around me) I thought all my milestones had been and gone for the year. My bad. Regardless, EBJ is now six years old (!!!) and my belated birthday gift is this hastily-constructed graphic.

ebj6

I’d like to say merci to anyone reading this right now, and to anyone who’s ever taken the time to read something I’ve posted throughout the past six years. I’m very appreciative of you. I mean, I was kind of hoping I’d have my own talk show and clothing line by now, but I guess I can live with just having (one or two) regular readers.

Still, if I get to the ten-year mark, and Drew Barrymore hasn’t been cast as me in a movie detailing  my life and times, there’ll be hell to pay.

Moving on now (mercifully) to le subject of today’s post: the ones that got away. It’s tradition for us all to moan about the national final entries that didn’t make it to Eurovision before the show, and even more afterwards as we wonder what could have been. I’ve already listed all my favourites from the 2014/15 season here, so now it’s after-party time!

I think we can agree that some countries, like Sweden, inarguably put their best foot (and most tight-fitting trousers) forward this year. Others, like Switzerland, just weren’t meant to make the final of ESC no. 60., and nothing in their NFs could have changed that.

Then there are the countries that may or may not have made the best decisions on who should represent them, if they wanted to achieve their best possible Eurovision result. Keeping those countries in mind, I’m about to count down my top ten could-haves (i.e. the songs that would have provided similar results but made nice alternative choices) and should-haves (i.e. the songs that would have climbed higher on the scoreboard for sure) in relation to the outcomes of the 2015 contest. Remember, this is a subjective topic, and all opinions are purely my own. I encourage you to disagree with them in the comments (in a respectful manner, of course).

3, 2, 1, GO!

 

#10 | Supernova by Janet

COULD have been sent by Belarus

If I had to single out one song from the Belarusian final that might have squeezed through to the Eurovision equivalent – or at least equaled Time’s not-too-terrible 12th place – it’d be Supernova. Written by Swedes Ylva and Linda Persson (if purchasing songs from Sweden is good enough for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia, it’s good enough for Belarus) this track is an interesting hybrid of ballad and electronica, with decent build and a strong chorus that sticks. If it were paired with a backdrop similar to Polina Gagarina’s, Janet in a floaty dress, intensive use of the wind machine, and perhaps some kind of cool last-minute reveal á la Moldova 2013 (although that wouldn’t be required to top Uzari & Maimuna’s nothingness), Supernova would have been…well, super, on the ESC stage. Unfortunately, it finished second-last in Belarus. Trés cray.

PS – The video above features the studio version, since the only video of the NF performance on YouTube is of rubbish quality. But do check it out if you think you can withstand the static sound and pixilated picture. Janet’s vocals aren’t the strongest, but the staging is pretty epic.

 

#9 | Jazz & Sirtaki by Thomai Apergi & Legend

SHOULD have been sent by Greece

As we all know, Greece did send a glamorous woman in a gown with a belter of a ballad to Vienna. Too bad for them that such entries were a dime a dozen there – and done better by the likes of Russia and Latvia. I know Greece would have qualified even if Maria Elena had actually farted tears and fears into the microphone for three minutes, but I can’t help thinking they should have sent their NF runner-up Jazz & Sirtaki instead of One Last Breath. It’s the kind of thing we expect from Greece: it’s ethnic, catchy, fun, and instantly identifiable as being Greek, and I don’t see those as negatives. Not only would it have upped the energy and the amount of ethno-pop in the 2015 lineup, it would also have had a good chance of getting Greece back onto the left side of the scoreboard, if only just.

 

#8 | Burning Lights by Daniel Levi

COULD have been sent by Estonia

Okay, Team GTY…you can put that pitchfork down. I’m not here to claim that Stig and Elina, who won Eesti Laul 2015 by a massive margin and finished a respectable 7th in Vienna, shouldn’t have represented Estonia. I’m just saying that the more joyful Burning Lights is an alternative that I wouldn’t have minded seeing/hearing at Eurovision. It’s a tasty slice of contemporary, anthemic pop-rock, with great lyrics in which nobody smiles to the dog (definitely a bonus). And, like Softengine’s Something Better did in Copenhagen, it would have stood out from the crowd as a rockier song in a field full of – yep, you guessed it – ballads.

 

#7 | Rush by Christabelle

SHOULD have been sent by Malta

After hearing this song for the first time, I started to believe that fate had forced Christabelle to trip up in her previous MESC attempt purely so she could make a victorious comeback with a much better song. Ultimately, she made a comeback that resulted in second place, which is something – but in my opinion, Malta made a mistake opting to leave Rush behind. Amber’s Warrior didn’t know what it was as a song, and the revamp only emphasised that. There was a sense of cohesiveness missing from the overall package put forward. Rush, on the other hand, was straight-up fresh-and-fun pop that would have been difficult to stage badly. We’ll never know for certain, but I swear to Chiara…if Warrior only just missed out on qualifying, then Rush would have made the cut for sure.

 

#6 | Wechselt Die Beleuchtung by Laing

COULD have been sent by Germany

Eurovision 2015 was all about (well, somewhat about) the wonderfully weird. Entries like Rhythm Inside and Love Injected – which aren’t commonplace in the contest just yet – proved incredibly popular, and I for one fell head-over-heels for them. I’d be saying the same about this number from Laing, had they represented Germany instead of Ann Sophie (via Andreas Kümmert). I’m a Black Smoke fan, but I think Germany could have sent Wechselt instead and not regretted it – mainly because something so intriguing wouldn’t have finished last with the dreaded nul points (in my mind, anyway). This song is so cool, and its staging at Unser Song Für Österreich was even cooler. Trust Germany to make a costume reveal edgy, not cheesy.

 

#5 | Human Beings by Karin Park

COULD have been sent by Norway

In case you didn’t know already, Mørland and Debrah Scarlett were the pinnacle of MGP ’15 pour moi, and there’s no way I would have wanted anything but A Monster Like Me to go to Eurovision. But in a parallel universe in which they didn’t enter the NF, it’s the amazing Karin Park I’d have been crossing my fingers for. The woman behind I Feed You My Love decided to enter as an artist this year, with the equally cutting-edge and atmospheric Human Beings. She gave a performance that sent shivers down my spine (that bit over the wind grate with the billowing kimono was a defining moment in my life). Hypnotic is the key word here, aurally and visually-speaking, and that’s always a helpful adjective to be labeled with when you’re trying to secure people’s votes. Not that it worked too well in Norway…Karin didn’t even make the top four. I’m still mystified.

 

#4 | Ne Engedj El by Kati Wolf

SHOULD have been sent by Hungary

It’s never fun when your least favourite song in an NF ends up winning it, and that’s what happened to me with A Dal this year (and UMK, and DMGP). In time, Wars For Nothing did grow on me. However, it’s still too sleepy for my liking, and I can’t connect with it emotionally. That’s not a problem I have with Ne Engedj El, performed by the fabulous Kati Wolf sans 2011’s massive hair and shiny satin disco dress. Yes, it’s a lady ballad, but it has more life to it than Boggie’s (then again, so does Knez’s face, which is really saying something) and I personally feel the feels when I listen to it (which is about ten times a day). It’s a beautifully constructed song with a pretty melody, and Kati did it justice in the NF with a performance that was both fragile and powerful. I really, really wish Hungary had given her the second shot she was after with this.

 

#3 | Manjana by Babou

SHOULD have been sent by Denmark

Denmark and I rarely see eye to eye, meaning they hardly ever pick my favourite DMGP entry to represent them (2014 excluded, as I scubidubidapdapdididid love that). A few months ago, I was desperate for Anne Gadegaard’s Suitcase to go to Vienna on behalf of last year’s hosts, but in hindsight, I’ve changed my tune (so to speak), at least with regards to which DMGP song would have served Denmark best. For me, it’s Babou’s infectious Manjana. This song is a three-minute tropical party – kind of like a more urban version of Allez Ola Olé. Sure, it’s a tad generic, but so is The Way You Are, and generic dance > generic retro rock. Plus, a) it would have been great to hear Danish at Eurovision for the first time since 1997; and b) we desperately needed more floorfillers in the 2015 field, and Manjana would have been different enough to those we did have (from Israel and Serbia, for instance) to hold its own.

 

#2 | Crossroads by Satin Circus

SHOULD have been sent by Finland

FYI, I don’t want to take anything way from PKN; nor do I feel that they didn’t deserve their UMK victory. This list is about the national finalists I would have preferred to see/hear at Eurovision, and/or those that would likely have given their countries a better result. In the case of Crossroads, it’s both: a song I really wanted to represent Finland, and one that I believe would have gotten them into the final. Satin Circus may have qualified based on their less divisive, more mainstream musical style, which isn’t necessarily a positive thing (Finland made an awesome decision to send punk to a contest unaccustomed to the genre, even though it backfired) but I feel like there was a Crossroads-shaped hole in the Viennese lineup of down-tempo, melancholy pop and preachy ballads. It’s such a fun sing-along song, and, like Tonight Again, it’s perfectly suited to being performed at Europe’s biggest party (‘Tonight we can be young’ = so apt). Basically, I missed it in a big way, and I’m hoping that the boys bring their brand of youthful pop-rock back to UMK, ASAP!

 

And now, my most painful missed opportunity of the year…

 

#1 | Fjaðrir by SUNDAY

SHOULD have been sent by Iceland

It’s not just the Danish who disappoint me: Iceland does the same on a regular basis by leaving something quirky and brilliant behind at Söngvakeppnin in favour of something boring vanilla. Exhibit A? The 180-second-long chorus that is Unbroken triumphing over the bizarre yet beautiful creation that is Fjaðrir (or Feathers, but I’m specifically talking about the Icelandic version here) by SUNDAY. I know, I know…SUNDAY didn’t even come second to María, so it’s not technically a case of ‘if only!’. But Fjaðrir is so amazing, with its Margaret Berger-esque visuals and mesmerising industrial-pop sound, that I’m going to say ‘if only!’ anyway. There are no shrill choruses to be found here – in fact, the choruses are more low-key than the verses, which is part of what makes the song so interesting. And, as usual, the use of Icelandic adds an extra something special. I’m in love.

 

Put your thinking caps on, ‘cause it’s time to tell me: which national finalists do you think could have – or SHOULD have – been given tickets to Eurovision 2015? A.k.a. which countries got it right and which countries got it oh-so-wrong?

 

EBJ’S TOP 10…national finalists of the 2015 season (plus the rest of the best!)

Hi. I’m Jaz, I’m twenty-three years old, and I think I need to be admitted to national final rehab after the week I’ve had.

No, I haven’t been watching every single NF of 2014/15 back-to-back, only leaving the me-shaped crater in my mattress to get food and let the other occupants of my household know that I’m still alive. That would be crazy!

What I have done is listen to almost every single song entered in a 2014/15 national final, on and off for quite some days, in order to determine my favourites of the season. Subtract the reasonable-sized bunch I was already acquainted with (mostly those hailing from Scandinavia) and you’ll see how that’s a much less crazy thing to do. Still, I need the rehab. Just to make sure I’m re-energised enough to haul my butt out of bed for 3 x 3am Eurovision installments next month (!).

Those of you not currently receiving NF-induced therapy get to enjoy the fruits of my labor today, as I present my top 10* national final songs of the season just gone – plus the thirty-odd others that I would recommend you add to your must-hear playlist, if you haven’t heard them yet.

Hit me up with your personal preferences in the comments, and let me know if there are any gems I should give a second chance to (or third, or fourth…I’ve had an intensive time, guys).

 

* If I’m honest, it’s actually a top 11 (as if you wouldn’t have noticed). I got to the point where the prospect of relegating one more song to the ‘rest of the best’ pile was causing me physical pain, so I decided to throw the rulebook out the window and adopt the attitude of ‘my blog, my rules!’. And my rules dictate that a top 11, in a time of need, is a-ok. And now I’ll shut up and get on with said top 11.

 

My favourites, from A Dal to UMK (and quite a few finals in-between)!

Counting backwards for maximum suspense levels.

#11 | I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar (DNQ, Sweden)

In what shall henceforth be known as The Swedish App Fiasco of 2015, lady-in-red Molly failed to even make the second chance round of Melodifestivalen, allegedly due to first-time-use issues with the voting app. Up until my ears were exposed to eventual winner Heroes, I was convinced the Land of Abba had let their best chance of Eurovision success go in this scandalous manner. Now, though I couldn’t be happier about Måns heading to Vienna, I still see/hear this song as a retro-flavoured masterpiece, performed with a level of diva-ness that Dana International could only dream of reaching.

 

#10 | Nefelibata by MNTHA (4th, Latvia)

Tracks like this – i.e. weird alt-pop songs – aren’t normally my cup of tea, but for some reason, I’m drinking them down like there’s no tomorrow at the moment. MNTHA’s high-pitched vocal on Nefelibata (which apparently means ‘cloud-walker’) adds delicacy to a song that makes you wonder where it’s going, even when you’re listening to it for the third time in a row. It’s an attention-grabber of the non-OTT kind, and I appreciate that very much.

 

#9 | S’të Fal by Lindita Halimi (3rd, Albania)

You might not expect feverish EDM to come out of Festivali I Këngës. Even if you did, you might not expect it to get such a good result. Lindita Halimi pulled out all the vocal gymnastic tricks she could muster (but failed to pull a pair of pants out of her wardrobe or use a hairbrush) and ended up bringing both of those things to the sometimes-stuffy FiK with S’të Fal. I really like the pace of this song, how edgy it is, how it builds, and how surprisingly well it works with a live orchestra.

 

#8 | Wechselt Die Beleuchtung by Laing (Result unknown, Germany)

You can always rely on Germany (‘always’ meaning ‘for the previous four or five years’) to provide a national final full of interesting, atypically-Eurovision (per the stereotypes) entries. The superior of the two songs Laing threw into the Unser Song Für Österreich ring, this one is dark, moody, and also cutting edge. It lends itself beautifully to the German language and comes armed with an über cool performance feat. a costume reveal and…desk lamps. Translate the title of the song, and that addition will make sense.

 

#7 | Human Beings by Karin Park (Result unknown, Norway)

The woman behind Margaret Berger’s I Feed You My Love decided to have a bash at representing Norway as singer and songwriter this year, and it made for a triumph – if not results-wise, then in musical magnificence. Who knew a song with such sentiment behind it could be so lacking in cheese? Human Beings has the same kind of cold beauty that captured Europe’s votes when M. Berg oozed it on the Malmö stage (sorry for that mental image). It’s a Karin Park trademark. How Human Beings didn’t make the MGP super-final is beyond me.

 

#6 | Glück by Alexa Feser (Result unknown, Germany)

What do you know, here’s Germany popping up in my top 10 11 again! And ich liebe es big time. I would like to direct all people who believe German to be a harsh language to Exhibit A: This Song, if Laing’s didn’t already convince them otherwise. Glück, which according to Google Translate = ’good fortune’ (which means it probably actually translates to ’unripe bananas’ or something) is slow-burn piano pop at its finest – pretty, calming and authentic.

 

#5 | Frozen Silence by Fahrenhaidt (DNQ, Germany)

I swear, this is the last German national finalist I’m going to prattle on about. Yoda would say hauntingly beautiful this is, but I’m going to say that it’s hauntingly beautiful – so I guess Yoda and I are in agreement. Like Nefelibata, Frozen Silence isn’t a big, brash, in-yo-face number, but it draws you in and holds your attention nonetheless. This could have been a spellbinder on the stage in Vienna (though in the scheme of things, I’m grateful for the more up-tempo Black Smoke).

 

#4 | Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone (DNQ, Sweden)

I’ve been listening to this more or less non-stop since it got booted from Melfest – in favour, mind you, of a performance that incorporated a selfie stick (though in Samir & Viktor’s case, it was technically a groupie stick). Rap interspersed with vocals isn’t to everyone’s taste, but something about this – the anthemic atmosphere, the drums, the hilarious way Behrang says ‘ehhh’ at the beginning, perhaps – gets me every time. I find it particularly powerful when I’m struggling with a workout, as it has an amazing ability to push me towards the finish line. #forreals.

 

#3 | Crossroads by Satin Circus (2nd, Finland)

This. One. HURT. I thought Satin Circus had UMK ’15 in the bag with their irresistible pop-rock singalong song for le youth…but alas, PKN pipped them. Crossroads came a close second to Aina Mun Pitää, and as a result, I can’t listen to it without tearing up and wailing ‘If only!’. But I continue to listen to it anyway, because it is the bomb, and in my Eurovision fantasies it goes down an absolute treat in Austria. Tonight we CAN be young!

 

#2 | Fjaðrir by SUNDAY (5th, Iceland)

Every year, Iceland passes up the chance to send something that’s more Björk than bland; i.e. a piece of quirky pop perfection that even the haters would have to admit is unique. This year, SUNDAY’s Fjaðrir (or Feathers, in its slightly-less-awesome English incarnation) was that sacrifice. I freaking LOVE it – it’s weird and mystical and so contemporary it shouldn’t even exist yet (I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that, so don’t ask). The song makes much better use of its three minutes than Unbroken does, and she-SUNDAY’s voice is perfect for the style. Brilliant stuff.

 

#1 | Ne Engedj El by Kati Wolf (Result unknown, Hungary)

Leaving What About My Dreams? – and her poofy-haired, satin-clad self – behind, Kati Wolf made a triumphant return to A Dal in 2015…at least as far as I’m concerned. The A Dal judges were more like ‘whatevs’ when it came to the crunch, failing to put the Wolfster and her emotive ballad through to the final four. Ne Engedj El (Don’t Let Me Go) would have been my ideal representative for Hungary though, because, unlike Boggie’s cry for peace that leaves me cold, I can feel the feelings Kati invests in it – feelings that were well-portrayed in her performance.

 

The rest of the best (according to moi)…

Get these babies on your music machine of choice STAT, people. Unless you hate them all, in which case just do your own thing. Whatever. I can’t help you improve your terrible taste.

AUSTRIA: Absolutio by Johann Sebastian Bass (5th)
BELARUS: Supernova by Janet (14th)
CYPRUS: Stone In A River by Hovig (4th)
DENMARK: Suitcase by Anne Gadegaard (2nd), Tæt På Mine Drømme by Julie Bjerre (3rd), Manjana by Babou (5th)
ESTONIA: Burning Lights by Daniel Levi (2nd), Superlove by Elisa Kolk (3rd), Exceptional by The Blurry Lane (8th)
FINLAND: Hold Your Colours by Solju (4th), Ostarilla by Shava (8th), Mustelmat by Siru (DNQ), Love It All Away by Eeverest (DNQ)
HUNGARY: Fire by Ív (Result unknown), Mesmerize by Passed (Result unknown), Gyémánt by Vera Tóth (DNQ), Ősz Utca by Gergő Szakács (DNQ)
ICELAND: Fyrir Alla by Cadem (6th), Aldrei of Seint by Regína Ósk (DNQ)
ITALY: Fatti Avanti Amore by Nek (2nd), Adesso e Qui (Nostalgico Presente) by Malika Ayane (3rd)
LATVIA: Take Me Down by Markus Riva (2nd)
MACEDONIA: Brod Što Tone by Tamara Todevska (2nd)
MALTA: Rush by Christabelle (2nd), Breakaway by Glen Vella (3rd), Stop Haunting Me by Raquel (DNQ)
NORWAY: Next To You by Jenny Langlo (Result unknown)
ROMANIA: Superman by Lara Lee (7th), Chica Latina by Aurelian Temișan feat. Alexa (9th)
SWEDEN: Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren (2nd), Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah (12th), Där Och Då Med Dig by Emelie Irewald (DNQ)

 
That’s all of the NF-ness I’m going to provide for now, ladies and gents. But rest assured that after Vienna, I’ll be taking a look at which national finalists could – and maybe should – have been sent to Eurovision, based on the results of the songs that were (á la this post from last year).

Don’t forget to tell me your standouts of the 2014/15 NF season. I’ll open up my can of DO IT NOW, FOR THE LOVE OF LORDI!!! if I have to.

 
Until next time…

 

nsig

 

SUPER SATURDAY #2 | A bit of A Dal, Melfest in Malmö + Iceland takes their pick!

After what was a rather dramatic week in the Eurovisionverse (understatement alert!) it’s time for us to stop wondering what the bloody hell Australia is doing competing in the contest, and start gearing up for Super Saturday Volume II.

If you thought last weekend was action-packed, you may want to sit down and take a few deep, calming breaths (don’t mind me, I’ve just been doing a lot of yoga lately) before I remind you of all the NF happenings of the 14th and 15th.

  • It’s go-time for Eesti Laul’s last semi, and with it hot favourites Elina Born & Stig Rästa. They’ll sail through to the final, no doubt, but who will join them?
  • The Finnish UMK saga (which is thankfully nothing like the Twilight saga) continues as the likes of Eeverest, Opera Skaala and Siru go head-to-head in the second semi
  • Hungary’s A Dal reaches its own semi final stage, with nine of the eighteen heat qualifiers competing for four precious places in the final
  • Iceland rounds up Söngvakeppnin with one of the strongest finals in years
  • Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival concludes by crowning the champ of the Big Artists section – a champ who has the first right of refusal to go to Eurovision (or to refuse to go again, in Nina Zilli’s case)
  • Lithuania chooses their song, but not their artist. Probably. Maybe? Who really knows how the mammoth and very intricate Eurovizijos operates. You need a PhD in national finals to figure it out.
  • Melodifestivalen, hits Malmö for week two of the epic tour around Sweden
  • Plus, tomorrow night, Serbia’s second and final show determines their first representative since wacky-wear specialists Moje 3.

Basically, there’s a LOT you can use as a distraction if you’re single this Valentine’s Day – I know I’m looking forward to my romantic, candlelit rendezvous with Melodifestivalen (although I suspect Melfest is cheating on me with a considerable amount of other people). I dedicate the forthcoming discussions/predictions of a few of the above finals to all of you who are more excited by the selection season than by sexy times with your non-existent significant other. Even if you’re abandoning your existing significant other to tune in to one or more of tonight’s shows, this is for you. We know what out priorities are! High five! *makes plans to marry Eurovision if she’s still single at forty*

Just before I get on to the Hungarian, Icelandic and Swedish bits and pieces, allow me to introduce (because it’s the last chance to do so) my top 10 ranking for ESC 2015. In a matter of hours, we’ll no longer have the nice, even number of ten to play with, so get in while you can and share yours too.

#1. Georgia – Nina’s still on top! Georgia has never been this high in my estimation before, JESC aside.

To be honest, I'm too scared to rank her any lower.

To be honest, I’m too scared to rank her any lower.

#2. Malta – Take away the mess from this hot mess, Malta, and we’ll renegotiate.
#3. Albania – Elhaida will sing in English. Jaz will be sad.
#4. Switzerland – There’s something about this I really like.
#5. Netherlands – It hasn’t worn too thin with me yet.
#6. Belarus
#7. Macedonia
#8. Denmark
#9. Cyprus
#10. France

Oh, France. How I miss your Moustache.

Now, onwards with the enn-effs!

 

A Dal ramps up: it’s semi final time

I’m still doing a happy dance over Kati Wolf’s qualification last weekend, but I suppose I can stop for a few minutes to take a look at the next stage of Hungary’s always intriguing NF. The heats are finito and it’s time for the best of those to fight in a musical battle to the death. Well, it’d be to the death if Katniss Everdeen was competing, anyway. As it stands, we’ll have to settle for a battle that will see just four of the nine competitors nabbing spots in the final. That’s brutal enough!

A_Dal_2015_stúdió_MTVA

The stage is set. Tonight there’ll be bums on those seats.

There are plenty of decent songs on offer this year, but for me the second semi has the stronger bunch. Justification for that will come in seven days (though it really just comes down to personal preference), as right now is the time to focus on what must come before. Which is the first semi. Obviously.

It looks like this (running order TBA at time of posting):

Give Me Your Love by Ádám Szabó
Wars For Nothing by Boggie
Time Is Now by Karmapolis
Homelights by New Level Empire
Kacsi A Világ, De Nagy Világ by Panktastic!
Keep Marching On by Spoon
Woke Up This Way by Timi Antal
Gyémánt by Vera Tóth
Beside You by Zoltán Mujahid

There’s a lot of variety in there, which is nice – some rock-pop, a few ballads, a folksy number, the lead single off One Hungarian Direction’s new album…the list goes on. Here are the four I’d choose to put through to the final if I was the great and powerful Lord Jaz of A Dal (I applied for the job but it’s still pending).

Time Is Now It’s not that distinctive or groundbreaking, but it’s mod and I just like it, okay?
Keep Marching On There is a BOY BAND behind this. Need I say more?
Gyémánt This is a slightly unusual ballad with a mystical atmosphere. Very nice.
Beside You Generic man pop with a rock edge, that’s just catchy enough to win me over.

In terms of who I think WILL advance, I have to go with a half-different foursome, namely Ádám Szabó, Boggie, Karmapolis and Vera.

Ádám can’t be discounted after his heat result, though I don’t hear anything special in his song at this stage. I don’t connect with Wars For Nothing in the way others have, and I assumed it would have been eliminated in the heats, but Boggie clearly has fans, since she won her heat. Karmapolis too, have semi success on their side and are likely to deliver again. And Vera’s ballad is captivating to watch and listen to – who could resist it? Alright, maybe a lot of people. Time will tell. I’ve been so shockingly bad at predicting so far this season (as usual), don’t be surprised if nothing I come out with turns out to be true!

 

Iceland – make your Eurovision decision now!

I have very mixed feelings about Söngvakeppnin’s last dance (i.e. final) for 2015. On one hand, I’m pumped because the line-up is stronger than I’ve ever seen/heard it. On the other, I’m depressed because Iceland has a history of picking what I feel is an unimpressive entry that doesn’t best represent the cool, quirky pop music the country has to offer. There are two songs in the field of seven that I don’t really enjoy, and I can’t help assuming one of those – or the favourite, of course – is going to Vienna.

1. Fyrir Alla by Cadem
2. Fjaðrir by SUNDAY
3. Piltur Og Stúlka by Björn and Friends
4. Lítil Skref by María Ólafsdóttir
5. Í Kvöld by Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir
6. Í Síðasta Skipti by Friðrik Dór
7. Milljón Augnablik by Haukur Heiðar Hauksson

Let’s start with the best of the best, in my opinion: my top three. Fjaðrir, Fyrir Alla and Lítil Skref all qualified from last Saturday’s semi, making me happier than Gianluca Bezzina on laughing gas. Another thing they have in common is that they’ll be switched over to English should any of them win, another thing Iceland like to do on a regular basis. As Icelandic is such a magical language, this move always saddens me a bit, but until I’ve heard the English versions on this occasion – if I do – I’ll refrain from judging.

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It may be Saturday, but SUNDAY get my vote.

Whether performing Fjaðrir or Feathers, SUNDAY is my top choice for the win, but I’d be shocked if they did. Two of the songs will progress to a superfinal towards the end of this evening, and one of those will be the chosen one, and I don’t like the chances of my top two being either of them. María has a better shot.

But, in the hope of not jinxing anything, I’m going to go with one song I dislike and another that’s the bookies’ favourite for my top-two prediction. That’d be Elín (the style of her song is not my thing, and her voice is SO IRRITATING) and Friðrik (the song’s not bad, but would still make for a ‘meh’ selection). And from that super final, I’m siding with the favourite and pegging Friðrik as the champ-to-be. That wouldn’t be a devastating outcome, but he’s close to the bottom of the pack according to my taste and I’d much rather any of the four I’m extra keen on. If you love me, Iceland, you’ll make my wish come true. It IS Valentine’s Day after all, and I did send you a bunch of flowers.

 

Sweden leaves the controversy behind as Melfest takes Malmö

Well…most of the controversy. In a new week and a new city, it’s easy to start afresh, but the Eric Saade-level sting of Molly Pettersson-Hammar apparently falling victim to the Melfest app’s flaws has not been forgotten. Now that people have downloaded the app and actually know how to use it, the odds are as fair for the first few competitors in tonight’s semi as they are for the last. But that may not stop the app from changing Melfest in a multitude of ways, which are detailed here if you’re interested.

But just who will Sweden be thumbing at their phones for this week?

1. Forever Starts Today by Linus Svenning
2. Där Och Då Med Dig by Emelie Irewald
3. Groupie by Samir & Viktor
4. If I Was God for One Day by Neverstore
5. Nonetheless by Marie Bergman & Sanne Salomonsen
6. Möt Mig i Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson
7. Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette

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Where’s Emelie Irewald? Hmm…I reckon it was Magnus, in the dining room, with the candlestick.

Last year’s surprising success Linus Svenning is going for less emotion, more inspiration in his second attempt at representing his homeland. He’ll open the show, followed by The Artist Formerly Known As Danny Saucedo’s Girlfriend. Samir & Viktor had an epic hit in Sweden last summer and are hoping to follow it up with a Melfest victory (hope away, boys) while Neverstore fill the obligatory soft-rock gap. Veterans Marie and Sanne, who I have to say come across as a pair of old witches (visually speaking), are peddling a country song that should do alright as long as they don’t have a bubbling cauldron and a broomstick on stage. Finally, we have a sole slice of schlager from the one and only Magnus Carlsson, and something of an ethereal pop number from Idol alumni Mariette. Whew!

Having listened to the rehearsal snippets (again, I’m saving the full songs for the live stream itself, so all my thoughts/predictions are based on notsomuch) these are the four songs that grabbed me:

  • Forever Starts Today There is something very You (yes, Sweden’s host entry of 2013) about this, which is fine by me as I was that song’s biggest fan. I like that Linus is returning with something different, and not just a rehashed version of Bröder.
  • Groupie This ain’t so different. Success was Samir & Viktor’s incredibly infectious summer hit and Groupie is very similar. Do I care? NOPE. Loved them then, love them now.
  • Nonetheless I didn’t expect to like the sound of this, but here we are.
  • Don’t Stop Believing Fortunately this isn’t as cheesy as the title makes it sound. In fact, snippet-wise, there’s no cheese. I’m intrigued and I want to hear more.

After I correctly guessed that Eric Saade would go direkt last week (like that was hard) and that Behrang/Victor would get a second chance, I’m feeling more confident. 50% is still a crappy rate of rightness, but it beats my usual 0%-25%. So, with my infamous prediction pants on, here I go again…

DIREKT TIL FINAL: Linus Svenning, Samir & Viktor
ANDRA CHANSEN: Neverstore, Mariette

Let’s see if I can keep that stellar 50% record alive!

 

By the way, if you think you can out-predict me (it shouldn’t be hard) on Melfest or any other final, put your money where your mouth is and let me know below. Who are you fist-pumping for tonight? Who’s going to stroll to expected triumph or qualification, and who will shock us all by taking the top prize? I want to know what’s rattling around in your brainbox, so let it allllll out.

Enjoy your romantic evenings, everyone. I hope you get some. Some of the results you are hoping for, that is. Don’t forget, you can join me @EurovisionByJaz on Twitter and together we can pick apart the action – so long as it’s in 140 characters or less.
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