A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Finland & Sweden: first semi roundup

That was it - in both Finland and Sweden the eurovision season started with a bang last night, and we have our first finalists in both countries. I watched Melodifestivalen live and then UMK delayed and here are my first impressions.

UMK seems to have maintained the ambition to be a more exciting and entertaining tv show it aspired to be last year. At least at first. Unfortunately, after a promising start the show fell apart a bit. Started lacking in tempo. Started lacking in contempt. Hopefully that was just a temporary glitch.

Another thing I was missing in this first semi was the strong determined voice of a producer. Someone who can tell people in advance when their ideas won't work. Mikko Herranen's failed hoverboard stunt must be one of the most cringeworthy moments on Finnish live television ever.

But also someone that could remind inexperienced singers where the cameras are and what they are good for and why you should throw them a look every now and then.

Having said this, the right songs qualified for the final even if all of them have work to do for the final. Saara Aalto must learn how to cool down and not come across as so frantic on tv. Eini needs to hit the notes better and Stella Christine really must get rid of that guitar she's hiding behind. But all in all, a promising start.

Tobson's current top 3 in the final:
1) Saara Aalto / No fear
2) Eini / Draamaa
3) Stella Christine / Ain't Got Time For Boys

Sweden kicked off their celebration year as the modern melodifestival with semi finals on tour turns 15 this year. With Gina Dirawi, Petra Mede and loads of nostalgia, nothing could go wrong here.

Or could it? The show was slick and entertaining - you can tell Edward af Sillén is back in charge - but sometimes it felt like the energy was a bit low. Was I expecting too much or did anyone else sense the same thing?

Also, the big Anna Book disqualification thing took a lot of space in the show. A bit too much, perhaps. Anna got to sing her entry outside of competition and is doing a whole lot better in the charts than she probably would have, had she not been disqualified. Let that be enough of a reward.

The general level of songs was OK but not overwhelming. It doesn't have to be in a first semi, the audience will enjoy themselves anyway. But next week I'd long for a slightly stronger selection.

The two songs that made it straight to Globen were clearly in a league of their own. And yet I thought Robin Bengtsson's entry would be too slick and elegant for Swedish voters. I haven't forgotten the shock non-qualification of Josef Johansson's "Hela natten" two years ago and was very happy to see that the general taste of the general public has improved since.

Ace Wilder is a temple of coolness. Perhaps there isn't much of a traditional chorus in her song, but I love how she makes it work anyway.

The only thing I would have changed? Mimi to Andra Chansen instead of Samir & Viktor. But I won't let that ruin the mood.

Tobson's current top 2 in the final:
1) Ace Wilder / Don't Worry
2) Robin Bengtsson / Constellation Prize


  1. I must ask, is Saara your favorite this year in UMK? And if not, who is? Or is that a secret yet to be revealed?

    Saara was my favorite, but I was a bit disappointed in her live show. Too much of everything and trying way too hard. She could do better with a simpler performance.

    If she's not my favorite, then Mikael is. At least if he doesn't completely bomb his live too.

    1. Judging from studio versions alone, then Saara is my favourite. I think she would have a chance of making it to the final and do reasonably well there. But she really must get her act together first. What we saw on stage in the semi shouldn't be enough even to win the national final.

  2. I'd say that if one thing should change in Stella's performance, it's that her backup singers & dancers should get a lot more soul into their moves on stage. Her music video is excellent and that feeling needs to come to the stage.