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A (Final) Supersized Serving of Scandipop: My Top 50 Melodifestivalen Entries, 2006-2015! (The Top 10)

Meghan Trainor might be all about that bass, but me? I’m more about that Melodifestivalen. The search for Måns Zelmerlöw’s successor began on Saturday, with Ace Wilder (predictably) and Robin ‘Bedroom Eyes’ Bengtsson going direkt till final, and the duos of Albin and Mattias/Samir and Viktor heading off to Andra Chansen. Melfest has certainly started on a good note (if I may make a musical pun without you throwing yourself through the nearest window), but I suspect the show’s best is yet to come. That makes me even more excited to set my next super-early Sunday alarm, so bring it, SVT!

Speaking of which…I’m doing a bit of ye olde ‘bringing’ myself today. But rather than bringing you two hours of camp, poptastic entertainment feat. several glorious utterances of the phrase ‘Sverige, vi har ett resultat’, I’m FINALLY bringing you the conclusion to my Melfest Top 50 countdown. I guess I can still say ‘Vi har ett resultat’ – it’s just that the resultat in this case is my Top 10 from 2006-2015.

Forty other Melfest entries from that period have graced my list so far. In case you’ve forgotten which, here’s a recap:

  • #11 Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (2015)
  • #12 Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandén (2012)
  • #13 This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (2010)
  • #14 In The Club by Danny Saucedo (2011)
  • #15 Try Again by Dilba (2011)
  • #16 My Heart Is Refusing Me by Loreen (2011)
  • #17 Keep On Walking by Salem Al Fakir (2010)
  • #18 Efter Solsken by Panetoz (2014)
  • #19 Det Rår Vi Inte För by Behrang Miri feat. Victor Crone (2015)
  • #20 Echo by Outtrigger (2014)
  • #21 Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt (2012)
  • #22 Empty Room by Sanna Nielsen (2008)
  • #23 Better Or Worse by Julia Alvgard (2011)
  • #24 Baby Goodbye by EMD (2009)
  • #25 Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder (2014)
  • #26 Alla by Sofia (2009)
  • #27 Like Suicide by Christian Walz (2011)
  • #28 Temple of Love by BWO (2006)
  • #29 The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite (2012)
  • #30 Där Och Då Med Digby Emelie Irewald (2015)
  • #31 Euphoria by Loreen (2012)
  • #32 Yes We Can by Oscar Zia (2014)
  • #33 Living To Die by Andreas Johnson (2015)
  • #34 One By One by Elize Ryd and Rickard Söderberg (2015)
  • #35 Red by EKO (2014)
  • #36 Möt Mig I Gamla Stan by Magnus Carlsson (2015)
  • #37 Around The World by Dr. Alban and Jessica Folcker (2014)
  • #38 Bröder by Linus Svenning (2014)
  • #39 I’ll Be Fine by Molly Pettersson Hammar (2015)
  • #40 För Din Skull by Kalle Johansson (2015)
  • #41 Falling by State of Drama (2013)
  • #42 Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan (2012)
  • #43 Hello Goodbye by Tone Damli and Erik Segerstedt (2013)
  • #44 Begging by Anton Ewald (2013)
  • #45 Stormande Hav by Timoteij (2012)
  • #46 Stay The Night by Alcazar (2009)
  • #47 Make Me (La La La) by Dinah Nah (2015)
  • #48 Don’t Stop Believing by Mariette (2015)
  • #49 På Väg by Abalone Dots (2012)
  • #50 Jag Är Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren (2015)

And if you want to revisit rather than recap, you can check out #50-#31 in detail here, and #30-#11 here.

Och nu, without further ado, here is…

 

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#10 | Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky (2012) 

The overwhelming fan favourite of Melfest 2012 may have been Loreen, but personally, I have more of a soft spot for Miss Miskovsky (among other 2012 alumni). I know, I know – I’m a terrible person, and I’ve just bought myself a one-way ticket to Eurovision purgatory as punishment. But before you consider dropping any atomic glitter bombs on my head, hear me out. I know as well as you do that Euphoria was the right representative for Sweden at Eurovision in Baku, and it’s definitely one of my all-time favourite winning songs. But when I look/listen back at Melfest that year, I find that there’s something about the guitar-driven, electro-tinged Why Start A Fire? – something ethereal and otherworldly – that hits me right in the goosebump generator (wherever that is). Euphoria never achieved quite the same thing. Lyrically intriguing and melodically stunning, Lisa’s self-penned entry had me hypnotised from the first time I heard it in full. Its place on this list is a declaration of love it deserves.

 

#9 | Mystery by Dead By April (2012)

When Outtrigger’s Echo popped up in part two of this countdown, I told you guys I had a thing for Melfest rock. As you can see, I wasn’t kidding. I’m not saying I adore everything about Echo or Mystery (the throat-stripping screams in each track are far from being my cup of tea) but…come to think of it, the screaming is the only thing I’m not a fan of. Mystery made a big impact on me when DBA took on Melfest, and not just because I had an obsessive crush on lead singer (at the time) Zandro (and his tattoos). The song is well-written and was well-performed, with Zandro’s clear-cut vocals contrasting nicely with Stoffe Andersson’s death growls (‘death growls’ = a phrase I never expected would be defined for me by Melodifestivalen). There’s both vulnerability and aggressiveness to be heard here, and that makes for a dynamic listening experience. When you want to rock out, AND lament a lost love or a Netflix-related neck injury (for example) at the same time, Mystery is the perfect outlet.

 

#8 | You by Robin Stjernberg (2013)

Just thinking back to the days when Robin became the first Melfest winner to detour through Andra Chansen has happy tears moistening my eyes – so take everything I’m about to say with a grain of sentimentality. You was one of the most authentic, least forced winners Melodifestivalen has ever crowned. It wasn’t a formulaic cookie-cutter pop song trying desperately to come out on top – it was just one man + a pleasantly subdued neutral palette + a touching-but-not-cloying tribute + THAT VOICE. Oh, and a fire curtain. And all of that ended up creating an unexpected champion, via the most magical voting sequence ever recorded on film. Robin’s win felt so right. You is a song that builds and then builds some more, rising from a solid foundation of acoustic guitar and soft vocals to an explosive (literally, when you consider that fire curtain) conclusion, preceded by a show-stopping note from Robin that declared ‘I’m a contender!’. And shattered glassware from the north to the south of Sweden. It may not have shattered any records at Eurovision, but it will always be one of my most-loved host entries.

 

#7 | Bedroom by Alvaro Estrella (2014)

Aaaaand BOOM (boom boom boo-boo-boom) – just like that, you can say goodbye to sentimentality, and hello to my completely superficial love for a song about sex. Lyrical content such as ‘shoes off in the driveway, shirts off in the doorway, pants off in the hallway’ isn’t exactly the height of sophistication and significance, but it doesn’t have to be when a song’s this catchy. It wasn’t until I heard the Bedroom snippet prior to Melfest 2014’s first semi that I thought ‘THIS is what I’m talking about. THIS is why I devote all the time I’m not thinking about Eurovision to thinking about Sweden’s preselection.’ Because when I’m not weeping into a copy of SCAN Magazine over the raw beauty of a power ballad, I’m dancing wildly in my Bedroom to stuff like this. Alvaro suffers from Eric Saade Syndrome – he’s not a great live vocalist, but he can bust a move and churn out chart hits with ease. His Melfest entry was made for the dance floor, and is basically three minutes of proof that Swedish songwriters should continue to be in constant global demand.

 

#6 | Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson (2012)

Is there any genre that doesn’t sound sensational i Svenska? The first non-English number in my top 10 is also an R & B song, and I don’t reckon it would have made an appearance at all if it’d been sung in English by ex-EMD member Mattias. Förlåt Mig (‘Forgive Me’) is so slick and well-produced in studio, it couldn’t quite live up to itself live (I’m convinced that those Kate Ryan light sabers are a bad-luck charm) which may explain why it didn’t progress past its semi. Or perhaps I’m just the only person on the planet who thinks it’s the shiz, and should have at LEAST made it to Andra Chansen. If I had to single out one thing I really commend about this song, it would be the way it manages not to repeat itself, in spite of its straightforward sstructure. What I mean by that (because that made zero sense) is, while the verses and the chorus and that other bit before the final chorus *forgets everything she was taught about song construction in music class* together form a cohesive whole, they’re all unique. This isn’t a ‘heard half of it, heard all of it’ kind of song – and that, combined with its general awesomeness, gets my fist bump of approval.

 

#5 | Undo by Sanna Nielsen (2014)

There are two kinds of people: those who think Sanna was handed a pity win after her seventh attempt to take home the Melfest trophy; and those who think the time was right because she won with her strongest contribution to the competition. There are no prizes for guessing which camp my tent’s pitched in. I have been besotted with Undo from the moment I met it, and I firmly believe it to be one of Melfest’s – and Eurovision’s – greatest-ever ballads. Helping that mindset along is the fragility Sanna conveyed during each and every performance of the song. Thanks to her crystal-clear voice that is seemingly expelled at the push of a button (I think it’s on the back of her neck, like those Barbie dolls that have “growing” hair), she didn’t really have to focus on nailing her vocal. What she could focus on was making us believe her heartbreak was as fresh in Denmark as it had been during Deltävling 2 back in Sweden. And that, my friends, is what made for the dictionary definition of ‘spine-tingling’ produced by Undo. That and THE MOMENT!!! before the second chorus, which sent the wow factor shooting straight into the stratosphere.

 

#4 | Kom by Timoteij (2010)

Do you ever just sit and think about all of the things you’d never have discovered if it wasn’t for Melodifestivalen? No? Well, I do. And one of the main things I think about is the glorious girl band Timoteij. Their signature blend of Celtic instrumentals and Europop has led to a string of hits, and it all started with Kom (‘Come’, in case you didn’t see that Kom-ing). If this song is any indication, then Swedish-born ethno-pop can totally hold its own against the Armenian/Spanish/Turkish equivalents. The iconic opening riff ignites a sense of mystery that carries on through the rest of the song, interwoven with a pulsing, toe-tapping beat. The chorus is simple, but so effective; the melody is irresistible; and the ubiquitous key change arrives at the perfect moment. And that rolecall of redeeming features doesn’t even take into account the power of Timoteij harmonies (which, when on point, could poke a hole in a house brick). Even in a super-strong Melfest final, it’s hard (for me) to believe this finished fifth, and not higher.

 

#3 | Soldiers by Ulrik Munther (2012)

This track, co-written and performed by Peter Pan Ulrik for his Melfest debut (he’d go on to try way too hard to win the following year, only to end up 3rd again) was THE arena anthem of 2012 – if we’re talking down-tempo arena anthems, as the up-tempo trophy obviously goes to Loreen and her Euphoria. Heavy on instruments – guitars, drums, and a harmonica that gave an authentic bluesy feel to a polished pop song – it relied on sincerity and sing-along power (plus that angelic, seemingly prepubescent face of Mr. Munther’s), rather than flashiness, to harness votes. Remind you of anything? Say, Melfest 2016’s freshly-qualified Constellation Prize? It should. Soldiers is such a great song in all aspects of song…ness (songery?). The melody is memorable, the structure makes for a smoothly-navigated but not-too-predictable three minutes, and the lyrics have substance (but not so much that I have no idea what the manboy in the flat cap is on about). In an epic edition of Melfest, this was my standout entry.

 

#2 | Hela Natten by Josef Johansson (2014)

(No decent videos of this performance appear to be available on Youtube, y’all. Apologies.)

There are certain songs that I gravitate towards because they’re catchy. Then, there are those that make me feel all the feelings that tend to give one goosebumps. Relatively unknown prior to his Melodifestivalen debut, Josef Johansson provided us with a song that was the best of both worlds – a total tune, and a heartstring-puller. That’s what makes Hela Natten (‘All Night’) magic. No, it didn’t get anywhere in its semi, but it left an impression on me that has outlasted the impression left by any other participating songs from 2014 that did progress. The song’s build-up to explosive moments is stellar, ensuring the chorus packs punch whenever it pops up. And the introduction of a choir during the last thirty seconds or so was inspired, giving Josef the vocal support he needed to make the final stretch of the song bigger and (almost) better than the rest. I also credit this song for kick-starting my fangirling of Josef’s subsequent releases, like Blickar Kan Mörda, which was completely different to Hela Natten – i.e. a true testament to Josef’s artistic versatility.

 

And now, after two previous installments of Scandipop-oriented gushing, and my #10-#2 countdown above, it’s time to say hej to what is probably a rather predictable number one.

My favourite Melodifestivalen entry from 2006-2015 is…


#1 | You’re Out Of My Life by Darin (2010)

YEAH IT IS! If you’ve read virtually any of my past posts, you’ll know that ’04 Idol runner-up Darin is my personal pinnacle of popstardom. He’s a bit of a musical chameleon, and I’ve loved every stage of his career – his folksy phase of 2015/16, for instance, has seen me flog his latest album Fjärilar I Magen like my life depends on it. When Darin decided to give Melfest a go in 2010, he was in more of a power ballad phase, and that’s how he came to be partnered with You’re Out of My Life. If Sanna’s Undo is the female ballad to end all other female ballads, then YOOML is its male counterpart. I can’t even describe in detail why I love it as much as I do (you’ll be relieved to learn) – it’s just undying, could-listen-to-it-on-repeat-forever love. So if you don’t understand why I even find this song listenable, and you head down to the comments to say so, don’t expect me to emerge from my love bubble long enough to notice. The rose-coloured glasses have been super-glued to my face by the magnificence of Darin’s attempt to get to Eurovision.

 

Okay…so that was the written equivalent of the London Marathon. If you crossed the finish line, congratulations. If you just scrolled down to see how lengthy this post was and swiftly thought ‘As if!’ upon finding out, here’s what you missed:

  • #1 You’re Out of My Life by Darin (2010)
  • #2 Hela Natten by Josef Johansson (2014)
  • #3 Soldiers by Ulrik Munther (2012)
  • #4 Kom by Timoteij (2010)
  • #5 Undo by Sanna Nielsen (2014)
  • #6 Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson (2012)
  • #7 Bedroom by Alvaro Estrella (2014)
  • #8 You by Robin Stjernberg (2013)
  • #9 Mystery by Dead By April (2012)
  • #10 Why Start A Fire? by Lisa Miskovsky (2012)

What are your thoughts on my Top 10? Would any of this back-catalogue Melfest music make your shortlist? If not, which entries would? If you’ve got something to say, I’m hanging out to hear it.

While I’m waiting for your words, I’ll be figuring out how to handle the upcoming Super Saturday – one that makes the six-show evening just gone seem sedate by comparison. Join me on the weekend to see if the stress sent me into meltdown mode, leaving me unable to string a sentence together; or if I managed to rank, review and predict in spite of the pressure. If Laura Tesoro is still wondering what the pressure is, somebody had better tell her that it’s THIS FREAKIN’ SATURDAY.

 

Until THIS FREAKIN’ SATURDAY…

 

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Selection Season Day 9: Verdicts of the week, the Melfest final and my first ranking for 2013

So, Romania’s choosing a Eurovision entry tonight? How fascinating. I must say that…

No, I’m sorry. I don’t really care. Because Melodifestivalen is where it’s at this evening! As I mentioned last time, it’s the first and only final I’ll be getting out of bed at a ridiculous time to watch, so even though the standard is weak, I’m super pumped. We also get to see Sarah Dawn Finer in action as Lynda Woodruff (probably to discuss Lorraine’s Euphemism or something like that), schlager queen Carola in action as herself, and what should be a thrilling voting segment. I never thought I’d say this, but bring on 3am!

In the meantime, as little attention as I’m willing to give to Romania (again, I apologise) I will acknowledge that other things have happened in the past week besides Melfest rehearsals. And here they are. Along with Melfest ramblings, of course.

 

Songs of the last seven days: first impressions

Armenia (Lonely Planet) – this makes me think of my Lonely Planet book collection, which makes me happy. That association, however, is the only thing about this that puts a smile on my face. I was so hoping Armenia would come back with a bang, showing Azerbaijan what they missed, etc. But this is not a good effort.

Belarus (Solayoh) – I was practically head of the Rhythm of Love Appreciation Society, so for it to be replaced with a lame five-year-old tropical number that would have been more at home on a cruise liner circa 2003, is a huge blow. I hope this doesn’t qualify. 

‘Look at all these suckers, thinking my original song was going to be my eventual song. Hello! This is Belarus!’

‘Look at all these suckers, thinking my original song was going to be my eventual song. Hello! This is Belarus!’

Bulgaria (Kismet) – how are you supposed to feel about three minutes in which you like 65%, but are weirded out by the rest? Good I guess, since majority rules. I really do like the instrumental parts, and the bit Elitsa keeps repeating (technical term, anyone?).

Estonia (Et Uus Saaks Alguse) – Birgit is no Ott Lepland, let’s face it: even though they’ve both won Estonian Idol, there’s no way she looks as good in a tight pair of pants. Her ballad is nowhere near as strong either. It’s nice, and I’m glad they’ve gone for another song in Estonian, but…yawn.

Hungary (Kedvesem) – I have no idea why, but I LOVE this. Maybe it’s that same humble charm that Coming Home had for Sjonni’s Friends. I’m not sure ByeAlex will do as well as Compact Disco (it may be ‘bye, Alex’ on semi final night, if you know what I mean) but if I could vote, I’d vote for him.

Israel (Rak Bishvilo) – interesting look, great voice…average song. Okay, it’s verging on being a decent ballad, but it doesn’t exactly live up to Milim. In what is appearing to be a ballad-heavy contest, I can’t see this standing out unless something drastic happens on stage. Is there an Israeli version of Jimmy Jump?

Serbia (Ljubav Je Svuda) – guilty pleasure alert. It’s been labeled cheap, tacky and a little bit dated, and I know I shouldn’t be a fan, but damn it, I am. Yes, it is partly because we have our first JESC-to-ESC artist and that is freaking awesome. But come on, the song’s catchy!  

I wonder which side Nevena’s on…good or evil?

I wonder which side Nevena’s on…good or evil?

United Kingdom (Believe In Me) – sigh x 1000. Another year, another big name, another middling ballad that will struggle to make an impression on anyone from the UK. Having said that, I do like this a little better than I liked Love Will Set You Free after one listen. All we can hope for is a killer vocal and suitable staging.

 

Which entry of the week is your favourite?

 

Sweden ready to name Loreen’s successor

And it will be one of the nine that isn’t Ravaillacz.

  1. Tell The World I’m Here by Ulrik Munther
  2. Skyline by David Lindgren
  3. Falling by State of Drama
  4. Begging by Anton Ewald
  5. Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream by Louise Hoffsten
  6. Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar
  7. En Riktig Jävla Schlager by Ravaillacz
  8. Copacabanana by Sean Banan
  9. You by Robin Stjernberg
  10. Heartbreak Hotel by YOHIO

Can whoever it is do as well as Loreen? Um, no, obviously not. But it would be nice for the host country to squeeze into the top 10. At the very least they’ll get that massive cheer that I look forward to so much.

But just who will ‘they’ be, if that made any sense?

Ulrik, Ralf, Sean, or YOHIO, I reckon. Up until recently I would have gone with Ulrik straight out, but as scandipop.co.uk   (I think) pointed out, with both Robin and Anton advancing from Andra Chansen, the teenage girl votes that would have gone directly to the Munthmeister may now be divided between the three guys. I really want Ulrik to win (or Robin, the underdog) but YOHIO in particular has an x-factor and crazed fan base that will make him hard to beat. Outside of Sweden, the international juries may go for someone a little more mainstream – Ulrik, David, Anton maybe. Or they might be wooed by the sight of a grown man in a nappy being hoisted into the ceiling rafters of Friends Arena (everyone has a fetish).   

Really, who wouldn’t want this man flying the Swedish flag?

Really, who wouldn’t want this man flying the Swedish flag?

Head over here http://www.svtplay.se/video/1071366/finalen-med-forsnack at around 20.00CET to watch the show live from the massive arena just mentioned. I know I will, unless some disaster happens with my alarm, in which case you won’t hear from me ever again because I’ll be too devastated to function. If you see any of my hilarious live tweets (@EurovisionByJaz) you’ll know everything’s good.

 

Ranking the Class of ’13, so far

I would like to (sarcastically) thank the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – using the full name because I am not amused – for doing two things. Firstly, for announcing yesterday that my beloved Imperija would be scrapped as Lozano & Esma’s entry for Malmö, due to negative reactions in the press and on social media. Because it is only a few journalists and a handful of people on Twitter who decide the Eurovision winner, right?

The second thing is that, in dumping their entry, they totally messed up my plans of making my first 2013 ranking a top 30. Or DID THEY?

Well, no, ’cause I’m just going to go ahead and do it anyway, assuming that the new song will be just as good as Imperija and would therefore not affect my list in any way. Wishful thinking, huh.

 

  1. Germany
Feel free to insert your own 'glorious' pun here

Feel free to insert your own ‘glorious’ pun here

  1. Ukraine
  2. Hungary  
  3. Norway
  4. Macedonia
  5. Serbia
  6. Malta
  7. Austria
  8. Belgium
  9. Finland
  10. Lithuania
  11. Switzerland
  12. Ireland
  13. Iceland
  14. Bulgaria
  15. Israel
  16. Slovenia
  17. Denmark
  18. Greece
  19. Estonia
  20. Albania
  21. Georgia
  22. Croatia
  23. United Kingdom
  24. Belarus
  25. Russia
  26. Latvia
  27. Armenia
  28. Spain
  29. Cyprus

 

That concludes my bits and bobs for another Saturday. Do let me know what goes down in Romania if you watch the show there; I do still care. If you want to share your thoughts on anything else, including your personal ranking at this point, please do. 

Until 3am…

EBJ Signature

 

Most-played…Melodifestivalen entries of 2012

Can you believe that Melodifestivalen, everyone’s favourite national final (‘everyone’ being a slight generalisation) is about to wrap up for another year on Saturday? For me that’s a double-edged Swarovski-encrusted sword: on one hand, it’s always sad when the mammoth Melfest ends, but on the other, this last installment is the first and only NF I will be getting up at 3am to watch, so I’m pretty excited. Even though I know – and you’ve heard me complain about this before – my stream will be rubbish. What’ll make the 2013 final really worth watching though is the fact that it’s a two, three or possibly even four horse race for the win, unlike in 2012 when the trophy had Loreen’s name engraved on it from the second she struck her final pose in semi 1. Here’s a reminder of the ten left standing:

  1. Tell The World I’m Here by Ulrik Munther
  2. Skyline by David Lindgren
  3. Falling by State of Drama
  4. Begging by Anton Ewald
  5. Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream by Louise Hoffsten
  6. Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar
  7. En Riktig Jävla Schlager by Ravaillacz
  8. Copacabanana by Sean Banan
  9. You by Robin Stjernberg
  10. Heartbreak Hotel by YOHIO

Wow, the ladies really need to step it up next year. Where’s the girl power? Although the lack of women does mean lots of eye candy. I mean, those dudes from Ravaillacz – whew!

*awkward cough*

Anyway, before we find out who will fly the home flag in May, I thought it would be nice to go back in time and celebrate the best of the Class of ’12. Well, my personal best, at least. So here is a list of my most-played…eh, you read the post title.

 

#1 | Why Start A Fire by Lisa Miskovsky

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‘Hey you! One more crack about my guitar being unplugged and I’ll throw it at you!’

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t expect much from lil ol’ Lisa, a stranger to me this time last year. Her Melfest 2012 entry was the second-to-last to be premiered, and at that point I thought I’d heard all the amazing-ness possible, excepting Danny Saucedo’s aptly titled Amazing (remember the olden days when MF was of a consistently high standard?). But I fell in love with it immediately, and was a teensy bit excited when it qualified to the final. I would describe it as ethereal, atmospheric guitar pop, if I was über pretentious. Otherwise, it’s just awesome guitar pop…although we never do find out why we should start a fire. For warmth? To burn all the physical copies of Josh Dubovie’s That Sounds Good To Me we can get our hands on? Why, Lisa, WHY?

#2 | Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson

#3 | Soldiers by Ulrik Munther

#4 | Pä Väg by Abalone Dots

#5 | The Boy Can Dance by Afro-dite

This was more or less the same song Afro-dite went to the ESC with in 2002, which by 2012 was sounding majorly dated. But just because something isn’t contemporary, and you know it’s never going to go anywhere in a million years (unless there’s a sudden resurgence of disco schlager) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. I actually like this a lot better than Never Let It Go.

#6 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt

#7 | Euphoria by Loreen

Loree, thrilled to realise that Danny Saucedo is no match for her and her bangs

Loreen, thrilled to realise that Danny Saucedo is no match for her and her intense bangs

#8 | I Mina Drömmar by Maria BenHajji

#9 | Salt and Pepper by Marie Serneholt

#10 | I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén

Sonja gave my hands-down favourite performance of Melfest last year. This is a ballad that begged for a great vocal, floaty dress, dry ice and a machine-engineered breeze to blow her chiffon around. Not only did we get all of that, but we got a bleeding bridge as well! Bridges are not used half as often as they should be on musical competition stages. Sonja sang her figurative pants off and commanded the stage, never faltering or tripping when a long hemline and all that mist would have made it so easy.

#11 | Youngblood by Youngblood

#12 | Mirakel by Bjorn Ranelid feat. Sara Li

#13 | Amazing by Danny Saucedo

I bet Danny didn't think anyone was amazing after placing second...again

I bet Danny didn’t think anyone was amazing after placing second…again

#14 | Shout It Out by David Lindgren

#15 | Mystery by Dead By April

I am very much an anti-fan of heavy metal, Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah being the one song of that genre that I can stand. My main peeve is the ‘death growling’, a.k.a. incessant screaming, which makes my throat and ears hurt just listening to it. That very same screaming was part of DBA’s non-heavy rock entry last year, but somehow I got past it, probably because the rest is such a contrast. All in all, I think Mystery is probably what would happen if Mr. Lordi did guest vocals on State of Drama’s 2013 entry.

#16 | Just A Little Bit by Love Generation

#17 | Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandén

#18 | Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan

He’s back this year with a very similar but not-quite-as-good chaotic dance track, is Sean Banan, and this time he’s wearing a diaper instead of fake body hair. I’ve always preferred fake hair myself. Say what you will about this hyperactive man-child – you can’t deny this song is an ear worm and a half. In fact, if you aren’t hearing it in your head right now there must be something wrong with you.

#19 | Stormande Hav by Timoteij

#20 | The Girl by Charlotte Perrelli

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Charlotte, a few seconds after pricking her thumb on her dress

Back in ’08 it would have been more appropriate for Charlotte to sing a song called The Extra-Terrestrial, but nowadays she is looking fierce in the best kind of way. Last year in Malmö Arena, she pulled out all the stops (and 95% of the planet’s spike appliqué supply) for what turned out to be an unsuccessful comeback, but one that stuck in my mind. The Girl took a step back from the straight-up schlager of Take Me To Your Heaven and Hero, which possibly freaked out some people who thought that was all she was capable of.

 

Which Melodifestivalen 2012 entries are still racking up the plays at your end? And who do you think should win the 2013 final on Saturday night?

 

Selection Season Day 7: News, Sweden’s last semi and February leftovers

It’s the last February Saturday of the year, which also means that this is the final weekend of February Madness in the run-up to Malmö. Granted, it’s not that mad – we’re not even getting any final deciders tonight. But with an event-filled week behind us, a bunch of semi-finals about to kick off (including Romania’s, which is on the verge of breaking the Maltese record for longest show in the history of the world) and plenty of action taking place next week, one can’t really complain. And if you find yourself pining for some form of madness, there’s always the option of reliving Laka’s performance from Belgrade…or any of the bajillion other crazy-ass performances from the last six decades.

For those who don’t mind a degree of sanity, however, here’s some I prepared earlier.

 

A little bit of this, a little bit of that: news from the last seven days

– Alcohol Is Free: Greece’s new tourism slogan for 2013, or their latest Eurovision entry? In case you didn’t know, it’s the latter. Continuing this year’s trend for picking artists with impressively long and difficult to type names, Greece chose Koza Mostra feat. Agathonas Iakovidis to fly their flag in Sweden, with the aforementioned musical celebration of free booze. I would have been grateful if they’d sent a decade-old souvlaki to represent them just to have Greece in the competition, so the fact that they decided on actual human beings with a fun and ethnic (but not in a Helena Paparizou Version 35025.0 way) song is a big bonus. There are similarities to one of my all-time Turkish favourites, For Real by Athena, in Alcohol Is Free, so that’s also pleasing.

– In other shocking news, Ireland chose a single, non-hysterical man with a regular hairdo to go to Eurovision last night. It’s hard to remember what life was like in the pre-Jedward years, apart from the occasional flashbacks of a screeching bird with someone’s hand up its backside, but I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with them. Again, I’d have accepted a crappy song just to have a Jedward break, but Ireland have chosen well. They’ve gone for Only Love Survives, a.k.a. electro-dance pop that would be lumped in with Slovenia and Germany if Eurovision was a Venn diagram. I don’t like it as much as Glorious, but it’s on a par with Straight Into Love which has grown on me a lot since my first listen. I can see a wicked stage show backing it.

'I love Jedward THIS much! JK.'

‘I love Jedward THIS much!’ Well, that makes one of us.

– The Netherlands have revealed Anouk’s song title, and it’s Birds. It would sound more interesting if it was called Rhinoceroses or Three-Toed Sloths, but hey, she’s certainly talking it up. According to her delegation, though, it’s both too good for Eurovision and not good enough to do well – which if you ask me is just an excuse to cover all bases if they do fail miserably.

– The BBC has FINALLY broken their silence on what’s in store for the UK, if only to give us a date of announcement and a slight clue as to who will represent them. On March 18th a solo singer will put all the rumours to rest by failing to live up to them (probably). Odds are on Mika who would make me very happy, but my hopes are kind of…*gestures to feet*. We shall see.

– Finally, in random but exciting news (for me, anyway) I was lucky enough to be interviewed about EBJ and all things ESC last week by escunited.com, and the interview is now live. You can read it right here: http://www.escunited.com/home/interview-with-jaz-creator-of-eurovision-blog-eurovision-by-jaz/. While you’re at it, do check out the rest of the website. It pretty much has everything you could ask for, and the editors make a point of looking into the Eurovision impact all over the world, not just within Europe.

 

Melodifestivalen: three down, one to go

And here’s hoping it’s the best one yet (that really, really isn’t much to hope). I’ve been waiting for this semi to come for one reason, and two words: Ulrik Munther. He’s one of the favourites, and since I loved his song last year I had big expectations of him this year. I’m also keen to see Idol runner-up Robin Stjernberg (and see if he can beat the girl who beat him in Idol by getting out of his semi) and Terese Fredenwall. Here they are, with the rest.

  1. Rockin’ The Ride by Army of Lovers
  2. Must Be Love by Lucia Pinera
  3. You by Robin Stjernberg
  4. Trivialitet by Sylvia Vrethammar
  5. Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar
  6. Jalla Dansa Salwa by Behrang Miri
  7. Breaking The Silence by Terese Fredenwall
  8. Tell The World I’m Here by Ulrik Munther 

 _DSC0868

Sweden has saved their best for last. This semi is almost up to the standard of last year’s weakest, so yay, I guess. Here are my favourites.

You I liked this because it didn’t go where I thought it was going to, and I like the way Robin turns the one-syllable title into practically an entire chorus.

Jalla Dansa Salwa if it wasn’t biologically and logistically impossible, I’d think Behrang was the love child of Sean Banan and Jessy Matador. His musical stylings of catchy tribal-dance pop certainly suggest it.

Breaking The Silence this is similar to the song that got Terese a place in Melfest, and just as beautifully sung. She’s not the best live vocalist from what I’ve seen, but I’m hoping she can pull off a decent performance tonight.

Tell The World I’m Here okay, it’s not a patch on Ulrik’s previous entry, but it’s still got what it takes to win in a year of mediocrity. I am praying this gets to the final, even if it goes no further.

Now, who’s going where? If you’re looking for a likely prediction go elsewhere (I’m sure I don’t need to highlight yet again my lack of prowess in this field) but if you just want an opinion, this is what I’m thinking – Ralf and Ulrik to the final, Army of Lovers and Robin to Andra Chansen. Whether that happens or not, at least there isn’t any cringe-worthy middle-aged men who can slip in to the final when someone else deserved it more.

PS – this semi is not only being held in Malmö, but in the very arena that will host Eurovision in a few months. Imagine that sketch of the stage in the setting you’ll see tonight, with Petra Mede plonked in Danny and Gina’s place, and that’s a fairly accurate picture of what you can expect.

 

What’s coming up in February?

There isn’t much left of the month, but these are the scheduled developments you can look forward to:

24th Russia’s Voice Dina Garipova presents her song What If. If she doesn’t have at least three grannies as backing vocalists, she’ll already have failed to live up to her predecessors.

26th Spain choose the song ESDM will sing in Malmö, from a smorgasbord of three. I haven’t listened to any yet, so…yeah. How are they?

27th Croatia and Macedonia present their songs, Mižerja and Imperija respectively. I’m not sure which I’m more curious to hear. I’m definitely hanging out to see if the age gap between Esma and Vlatko is more noticeable than the one between Ell and Nikki.

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks, and make the most of the almost-madness.

EBJ Signature

 

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