After the disappointing results of the participation of Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck in Eurovision, the UK decided to go with something more fresh and contemporary this year. They are represented by relatively new singer Molly Smitten-Downes and her powerful anthem ‘Children of the Universe’. At Eurovision In Concert in Amsterdam I had the chance to have a chat with her about her chances in the competition, what went wrong for the UK before and the tough competition this year.
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.