The preselection season for Eurovision is in full force at the moment, but I have only blogged about the premiere of the Dutch entry ‘Walk Along’ by Trijntje Oosterhuis yet. Shame on me, I know. I will make this right by catching up with some stuff that happened over the past couple of weeks in Eurovision land.
In Sweden, Eurovision is a big deal, but there is one thing even bigger. Melodifestivalen, their national preselection. They are already three weeks in and next saturday the last seven songs will be presented and will battle for a spot in the final. So what about the tracks that already made it to the big final of Melodifestivalen. From the first heat, Eric Saade and Jessica Andersson, both experienced Melodifestivalen and Eurovision performers, received the most votes with servicable songs. Saade hopes to represent Sweden with yet another pop banger ‘Sting’, after reaching 3rd place for the country in 2011 with ‘Popular’. Jessica Andersson performed for Sweden as part of the duo Fame in 2003 with the song ‘Give Me Your Love’, receiving a fifth place. She is back with the ballad ‘Can’t Hurt Me Now’. Maybe not as strong as her 2012 Melodifestivalen entry ‘I Did It For Love’ (8th place in the final), but still a deserving finalist.
In the second heat, former member of Alcazar, Magnus Carlsson, brought back schlager in all its glory with ‘Möt Mig I Gamla Stan’, that proceeded to the final. He got company from my favourite in this year’s competition so far, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Mariette. This anthemic song, written by Miss Li, has a soaring chorus, a lovely message and an intriguing atmosphere. Mariette is a charismatic performer and manages to sell the song well. This could do really, really well in Vienna. From the third heat, it was the big favourite Jon Henrik Fjällgren that qualified for the final with a traditional Sami song, sung in Sami folk style. I don’t know if Europe will get this, but I understand what the Swedish love about it. The other finalist from the third heat is Isa, with her Taylor Swift-lite ‘Don’t Stop’. It certainly is a catchy little tune, but I doubt it will make a big impact on the 14th of March.
The Andra Chansen round (for the 3rd and 4th spot every heat) is rather poor this year varying from mediocre (Behrang Miri, Linus Svenning and Andreas Weise) to plain awful (Samir & Victor and Dolly Style), so it shouldn’t be to hard for Kristin Amparo to reach the final in a second chance with the beautiful ballad ‘I See You’. As a last note on Melodifestivalen, I would like to add that Molly Pettersson Hamar absolutely deserved at least a place in Andra Chansen with her strong soulful pop track ‘I’ll Be Fine’. The same goes for Ellen Benedikston and her catchy electro pop tune ‘Insomnia’. Too bad we won’t see them again in this year’s competition.
(I cannot yet provide you with links from the finalists as broadcaster SVT deletes them from YouTube.)
Sweden’s neighbour Denmark already selected a song with a national final organised in one night, called Melodi Grand Prix. The winning song is ‘The Way You Are’ by the band Anti Social Media. The reaction to their win has been lukewarm internationally, but I actually really enjoy the song. It is nothing groundbreaking, but it has a catchy melody and a nice vibe. For me it is one of the better tracks, selected so far. Still I have to admit that the song that finished second in MGP (and even won the televote), ‘Suitcase’ by Anna Gadegaard, would have been a better choice. This sweet little tune could have won the hearts of many European voters and might have gone very far in the competition in Vienna.
No surprises in Estonia this year. The big favourite in the national competition, the duet ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ by Elina Born & Stig Rästa, went on to win the show Eesti Laul and will represent the country in the first semi final of the Eurovision Song Contest. The song has a late 60s early 70s vibe and a very strong hook in the chorus. It is kind of like 2015’s ‘Summer Wine’, isn’t it? It immediately sounds familiar and this could be an advantage in Eurovision. The stage act is obviously inspired by the Dutch Common Linnets who finished in second place with the song ‘Calm After The Storm’ last year. If Elina and Stig improve their vocals in time for Vienna, we might see Estonia in the top 10 of the final in Austria.
Another Baltic nation, Lithuania, also selected a duet, ‘This Time’, by Monika & Vaidas. The good news for both Lithuania and Estonia is, that they are not competing in the same semi final so they can’t steal votes from each other. Monika and Vaidas are a charismatic duo and have strong voices that do the song justice. The upbeat duet is driven by guitar and the enthusiasm in the lyrics is contagious, thanks to the convincing performance. This is certainly one of the better tracks Lithuania has ever sent to Eurovision, but once in the final it will probably have a hard time competing with their Estonian colleagues.
Although only a handful of countries have announced and premiered their Eurovision song, we already have an early favourite: Italy. The boys of Il Volo (a quite famous band similar to the style of Il Divo) won the San Remo festival and agreed to go to Eurovision with their song ‘Grande Amore’. Is it original or groundbreaking in any way? No. Is it convincing, big and vivacious? Yes it is! The classical vocal style is obviously not for everyone, but I definitely enjoy this entry, although I am not a fan of this genre. The only problem here is that the track is now almost four minutes long and songs in Eurovision can only last for three minutes so we have to wait and see how they will solve this issue.
Norway will select its entry for this year’s Eurovision on 14 March in one show with eleven participants. Luckily, they have quite a few strong tracks to choose from, so if they select the right one, they might as well end up in top 10 for the third year in a row, after the good results of Margaret Berger and Carl Espen. My absolute favourite in their selection this year is ‘Human Beings’ by Karin Park. Park is one of the co-writers of Margaret Berger’s ‘I Feed You My Love’ (4th place in 2013) and that is one of my all time favourite Eurovision songs. ‘Human Beings’ is an uplifting electro pop track with a great melodic chorus. Karin will face tough competition from Jenny Langlo who has a strong song in the same genre, called ‘Next To You’. I would not mind seeing this winning either. The early favourite in MGP 2015 seems to be ‘A Monster Like Me’ by Mørland & Debrah Scarlett. This emotional ballad took a few listens to click with me, but once it hits, it is beautiful. If performed convincingly, this could go all the way in Vienna. If the Norwegians would like to be represented by a song in their mother tongue, they could choose Maria Klåpbakken‘s violin driven ‘Tag Meg Tilbake’. This beautiful track is still catchy, although most of us don’t understand a word. If Norway wants to go for uber catchy and slightly cheesy pop, they could choose ‘Louder’ by Raylee or ‘Cinderella’ by Alexandra Joner. These are both nice songs in their genre, but the four above mentioned are probably better choices in terms of Eurovision success. We have to wait and see what the performances will be like, but choose wisely, Norway!