Eurovision News 2014: Sanna Nielsen impresses in Sweden, Malta chooses a song

Sanna Nielsen Undo Melodifestivalen

February just started 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 weekend, the second heat in Sweden was aired and Malta decided which song they send to Denmark.

Last week Sweden kicked off their national final with the first heat in which Ellen Benediktson and Yohio made it to the final and Helena Paparizou and Linus Svenning had to settle for a place in Andra Chansen. This week, again eight songs fought for a place in the final and let’s just be honest here, it was all about Sanna Nielsen. This year it is the seventh time Sanna participates in Melodifestivalen and she has never failed to reach the final in the competition. She finished 3rd in 2001, 5th in 2003, 8th in 2005, 7th in 2007, 2nd in 2008 and 4th in 2011. In 2008 she won the televoting with the ballad ‘Empty Room’, but Charlotte Perrelli won the juries vote at that time and managed to win the whole competition. This year, Sanna Nielsen is back with the big ballad ‘Undo’. It is a powerful song with a memorable and impressive chorus. The songs sounds quite current, but still has some traditional Eurovision ballad quality about it. The performance was classy and her vocals were on point as always. No surprise here that she qualified for the final and she might even have a shot at winning the whole competition this year.

Other than Sanna’s great performance, there was not that much to enjoy in the second heat of Melodifestivalen. Martin Stenmark, who represented in Sweden in Eurovision in 2005 with ‘Las Vegas’ was back with the track ‘När Änglarna Går Hem’. In my opinion, his song was quite alright, but the composition as well as the performance tried to present the chorus as something bigger than it actually was. Still, Stenmarck was the best of the rest and deserved a place in the final. He has to compete again in Andra Chansen though, because the simple, summery and catchy ‘Efter Solsken’ by Panetoz qualified for the final. I did not really understand the appeal of that simple melody and chaotic performance, but Sweden seemed to really like it.

JEM were able to qualify for the other spot in Andra Chansen with their pop-dance track ‘Love Trigger’. Although the song and performance were not bad, there are lots of better efforts with more personality in this overdone genre. The same goes for Manda’s ‘Glow’, which was not bad, but a bit faceless to say the least. She ended up in the 8th position. The lazy drag queen show of Pink Pistols ended up 7th, which is one place higher than I would have expected. The boys of pop/rock band Little Great Things finished sixth while I expected them to go to Andra Chansen. The performance wasn’t all that, but there was quite a good melody and hook hidden in that chorus. The good news is that ‘Hallelujah’ by The Refreshments did not make it to the next round either, because we have had to endure enough of that kind of rockabilly nonsense through the years of Melodifestivalen. Next week, SVT will present us another eight songs and here is hoping that the overall quality will be a bit higher than this week.

While Sweden still has four weeks to go before they finally decide who will represent them at the Eurovision Song Contest, Malta already decided last night. The band Firelight managed to win the national final with the song ‘Coming Home’. For me the song belongs to the same category as most songs chosen so far. They are not awful, but not really good either. Most tracks so far are quite mediocre in their genre. This goes for Malta’s song as well, which tries to be a little bit folky and country, but at the same time kind of sounds like a poor man’s Mumford and Sons. Their performance fits the song, but the vocals of the band members do not really blend well together. Last year Malta finished 8th with Gianluca’s ‘Tomorrow’ but I would be surprised if they would even come close to that result this year.