For those who have been wondering why Sweden always does so well in Eurovision, Melodifestivalen is the answer. Their national final is incredibly popular and taken seriously by many artists. The show has been on for weeks with four heats … Continue reading
Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
2015 hasn’t even ended yet, but a lot of countries are already busy selecting their song for Eurovision 2016. The Netherlands have selected singer-songwriter Douwe Bob and FYR Macedonia will send Kaliopi (ESC 2012) again. For Bosnia & Herzegovina Deen (ESC 2004)gets company from singer Dalal. Sweden, known for their huge preselection called Melodifestivalen, have announced the hopefuls in 2016’s competition. A Bit of Pop Music takes a closer look as the first predictions are rolling in!
It’s decision time across Europe. Today was the deadline for the countries that participate in Eurovision to send in the songs that will represent them. This means that in the past few weeks, it has been a very busy time full of national finals and song presentations. I already wrote about some national contests and chosen songs and will continue to do so in the next few weeks before the show starts. Today, some words about the selections and songs from Sweden, United Kingdom, Norway, Israel and The Netherlands.
It has to be said that Sweden always delivers when it comes to their national final. Melodifestivalen is one of the biggest events of the year when it comes to music and it is almost bigger than Eurovision itself. This year, the final had quite a good line-up with lovely songs from Helena Paparizou, Ellen Benediktson, YOHIO and Alcazar. Days before the final, it became clear that it would be a two horse race between Sanna Nielsen and Ace Wilder. Both singers had great songs and if I had to choose won, I would have gone with Ace’s ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” as it sounds like nothing else in Eurovision these days. It’s upbeat, modern, cheeky and fun. Still, Sweden does have a nice shot with Sanna’s ‘Undo’ as well. It is a great power-ballad with a memorable chorus. It mixes traditional Eurovision ballad-style with a somewhat more modern production, kind of similar to for example ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus. Definitely one of my favourite entries this year and I would be surprised if Sanna did not make it to at least top 10 in the final.
The United Kingdom has not been very successful in Eurovision lately. In 2009, they reached the 5th spot with Jade Ewen and this was the last time they were in the top 10. In the past two years they finished at the bottom of the scoreboard with Engelbert Humberdinck and Bonnie Tyler. The BBC realized that letting artists from the seventies and eighties make a comeback at Eurovision, was not going to bring them success. This year they try a whole different strategy with a relatively unknown singer Molly Smitten-Downes. Her track ‘Children of the Universe’ has a message that we have heard before in Eurovision, but this time around, it is packed in a modern sounding, exciting pop track. At the first few listens, the repetitive chorus did not do it for me completely, but now I realize this track is more than that. The ‘We shine like diamonds’ parts in the pre-chorus and the middle-eight sound amazing and are very catchy. Molly has a great tone of voice and this absolutely takes the song to another level. I really hope the UK will be back in the top 10 with this.
Norway have been doing very well for themselves lately in Eurovision. They won the contest in 2009 with Alexander Rybak and finished in top 5 both in 2008 with Maria Haukaas Storeng and last year with Margaret Berger‘s glorious ‘I Feed You My Love’. This year they are in for another great result as they will send Carl Espen with ‘Silent Storm’ to Copenhagen. He is already one of the favourites to win the whole contest. ‘Silent Storm’ is a beautiful, little ballad that will definitely get the juries going, but will probably convince the people at home as well. Espen is not yet the most experienced performer, but with a little work on that, he definitely is one to watch with an emotional and captivating track. My personal favourite in Norway’s MGP this year, finished in second place. Linnea Dale‘s ‘High Hopes’ is a brilliant electro pop song, that would have worked great on the big stage in Copenhagen. Maybe she could try again next year, because there is a lot of potential in her songwriting and performance.
I have to admit I was quite surprised last year when it turned out Israel did not make it to the final with Moran Mazor and the song ‘Rak Bishvilo’. I would be even more surprised if they do not make it this year with Mei Finegold‘s ‘Same Heart’. The song sounds very current with an instrumental breakdown after the first chorus. Finegold shows she has quite a lot of power in her voice and she seems to be able to sell the song really well in the videoclip. We will have to wait and see how she will perform this live, but if she can pull it off, this powerful and catchy uptempo pop track could do well, as it is one of the few songs in this genre this year.
Last year, The Netherlands did a great job in Eurovision by sending Anouk with the gorgeous song ‘Birds’. Her pure and stripped down performance put the Netherlands through to the final to finish in 9th position, the best result in ages. This year, it seems The Common Linnets try the same strategy with a stripped down country song. Ilse DeLange and Waylon, who make up the band The Common Linnets, chose to perform ‘Calm After The Storm’ in Copenhagen. I am not so sure this will reach the same heights of success as Anouk did. Where her song was captivating and exciting, ‘Calm After The Storm’ might be a little bit too calm to keep the viewers attention. Still it is a cute little song that definitely is one of the better things that his year’s Eurovision has to offer, but it could have done with a better build-up and a little more tension in the track. Still I am sure they will sound great live and give a professional performance on the big stage.
It’s February and that means that many European countries are about to decide which song and artist they will send to the Eurovision Song Contest. In the next few weeks I will pay attention to some of the national finals that will take place and write some reviews on the songs that will represent their country in Copenhagen in May. This week, Spain chose it’s contestant, Sweden is getting closer to the big final and Hungary, Iceland and others chose their contestants.
A few weeks ago I already wrote about the songs that were participating in the Spanish national final, stating that Brequette and Ruth Lorenzo were by far my favorites. It seems like I was not the only one with this opinion as it was already more than clear before the final started, that it would be a two horse race between the big voiced divas. Both gave decent performances of their mid-tempo tracks with powerful choruses. The vocal performances were not perfect but still nice enough to enjoy. The juries all gave their highest points to Brequette’s ‘Más’ while the public at home voted the most for Ruth Lorenzo’s ‘Dancing In The Rain’. Both singers finished with the same amount of points and at that point the televoting was seen as more important and therefore Ruth Lorenzo will represent Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. It is my favorite Eurovision entry this year so far and I think she can do really well in Copenhagen. She is capable of a good performance and her song is beautiful, current and catchy.
In Sweden they are getting close to the final stages of their national selection to choose a participant for Eurovision. All four heats of Melodifestivalen have passed and this saturday, the last two finalists will be added in the second chance round. In the third heat, Ace Wilder surprised by reaching the final directly, but I would say this was totally deserved. She might not be the best vocalist of the contest, but her song ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin” is the best pop song Melodifestivalen has to offer this year. It’s modern, it’s current, it’s damn catchy and fun, somewhat like a mix between Ke$ha and Gwen Stefani. It is a pity that good songs like ‘Red’ by EKO and ‘Burning Alive’ by Shirley Clamp did not manage to get any further in the competition. The same goes for Linda Bengtzing and Josef Johansson in the fourth heat, that was rightfully won by Alcazar and Anton Ewald. Ewald was the big favorite before the competition started, but his vocal performance still is somewhat poor and ‘Natural’ is a nice and catchy track, but prefer last year’s ‘Begging’. Alcazar do what they have always been good at, which is of course campy disco pop. This saturday’s andra chansen round should be all about Helena Paparizou, who definitely deserves to reach the final and get a decent result there with the track ‘Survivor’. At this moment I would predict Sanna Nielsen to win the final which I would really like, but I would be happy with Ace Wilder or Ellen Benediktson as well. Strong final in Sweden this year as I like almost every song!
Hungary, Latvia and Poland
The Hungarian public chose the artist that will represent them in Eurovision last weekend. András Kállay-Saunders won the national selection A Dal with the song ‘Running’. The song is about child abuse and domestic violence which is of course a heavy theme, but luckily the song is not too sad and dreary. ‘Running’ is a current composition with interesting verses and a catchy chorus. The song has some drum & bass influences, but could be best described as modern pop. Strong entry from the Hungarians, absolutely one of the best songs chosen so far.
Latvia chose a song called ‘Bake a Cake’ and this actually says it all. Almost every year they end up at the bottom of the scoreboard and totally deserve that most of the time. It is not even news these days that they came up with another bloody awful song. One can only hope that one day they will take it seriously again and send in some decent track.
Poland sends one of the biggest hits in the country over the past few months to the contest. ‘Slavic Girls’ by Donatan and Cleo has already been viewed over 38 million times on YouTube. The song could be described as a mix of R&B hiphop and folk music. We have to wait and see if the rest of Europe will ‘get’ this as well, but it is always good to see a country making the effort to actually send a big hit to the contest. It might not be my cup of tea, but not a bad choice at all.