A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Melodifestivalen 2017: this is it!

This is it - the end of the 2017 Melodifestival season. We heard all 28 songs and saw all the performances and are left with twelve hopefuls that will battle it out for the ticket to Kyiv.

Melodifestivalen has worked itself into a good place with an exceptionally high general level of songs and performances, but maybe it came at the expense of some edge and some originality.

There was always Loreen, of course, but our final lineup is pretty void of surprises. Most of the songs are clearly better than most of the other songs selected for the ESC this year while none of them feels strong enough to win.

But then again - Sweden won twice since 2012 and maybe it is good for them to take a tiny step back this year and leave room for something else. And to come back next year with more quirk and more surprises.

What about tonight's entries, then? One thing is clear: if the international juries have a clear favourite, then they will decide the winner and could possibly fully run over the televote results.

01. Ace Wilder / Wild Child
Ace is my girl and she never lets me down - also tonight she is my personal favourite and the one I secretly hope for the juries to sprinkle their top points over. It seems to totally lack momentum, though, and being the cheerful opener is seldom a way to MF success these days.

02. Boris René / Her Kiss
The first of many songs impeccably put together in order to score a radio hit. This one is happy and inoffensive and would be absolutely nothing without Boris and his energetic presence.

03. Lisa Ajax / I Don't Give A
A sharp young performer like Lisa would really deserve better material than this. Despite the attempt of a climax by the end it never takes off. Not a contender.

04. Robin Bengtsson / I Can't Go On
Contrary to many others, I find this song too generic to suit Robin's personality. He just feels replaceable - like a visitor in his own entry. The song in itself is ok but far from the smash hit I had hoped for. A potential winner, nevertheless.

05. Jon Henrik Fjällgren & Aninia / En värld full av strider
Jon Henrik is very easy to like and this entry has its moments, but above all it would have needed to make its mind up what kind of entry it is. Is it a duet? Is one of them the guest star? If so - who is the guest and who is the star? Not coherent enough but not a bad song.

06. Anton Hagman / Kiss You Goodbye
This is where Loreen was supposed to come in. Instead we have a delightfully charming young man with a guitar. I can deal with that but Anton is here to gather experience, not to win.

07. Mariette / A Million Years
My second favourite to win, but it is not going to happen. Too polished and too chilled. Plus Mariette apparently sang badly yesterday when the juries were listening. But it is a beautiful number and a very good song.

08. The FO&O / Gotta Thing About You
A really solid album track / third single made it into the final and why not? The boys dance well and sing quite well - most of the time at least - and got a radio hit out of it. That will have to do.

09. Nano / Hold On
A brilliant contemporary soul/gospel-flavoured pop song that would have needed a stronger live performance to fully shine. Nano doesn't really have what it takes. A shame.

10. Wiktoria / As I Lay Me Down
She improved her entry from last year and is the big favourite to win. I have a feeling she will, but for me this song outstayed its welcome too soon. After three listenings it just felt hollow and empty. But then again - I never understood the thing about Fame back in the day either.

11. Benjamin Ingrosso / Good Lovin
Smooth and pleasant - another made-for-radio-effort. Despite good vocals and a good performance, this doesn't really seem like a contender at all but could be a surprise in the making.

12. Owe Thörnqvist / Boogieman Blues
The comedy break if you so wish. Owe is a true legend and should have won Melodifestivalen hands down back in his heyday. In 1959 or so. Will come nowhere near a victory but could end surprisingly high up in the televote. Brace yourselves.

So how will this end? This is what I think:
1) Wiktoria
2) Robin Bengtsson
3) Jon Henrik Fjällgren & Aninia

But if I got to choose freely, I'd send Mariette or Ace Wilder to Kyiv. They'd live the place up more than I fear Wiktoria's song will.

As per usual, I will live tweet during tonight's show. Feel free to follow and to talk back at me.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Melodifestivalen 2017: andra chansen

My effort to blog about Melodifestivalen really didn't turn out too well this year - some travelling and then a heavy flu directed my energies elsewhere. And now we are already at Andra Chansen! A bit too late to pick up on the proceedings now, isn't it?

Nah. Not at all. It's a good chance at measuring some of the songs ahead of next week's final.

First duel:

The FO&O / Gotta Thing About You
Not the immediate pop smash one would have expected from a band desperate to have their big break but this one keeps growing and growing. The over choreographed performance is cute and a fair amount a radio play should be helping to.

De Vet Du / Road Trip
Pointless humour song without any humour. Truly basic in every way. But since it made it this far it must have something, even if this something totally eludes me. Out.

Second duel:

Axel Schylström / När ingen ser
Honestly - I can't make head nor tails of this song. I can't decide if it is a work of genius or simply annoying. That's a quality when it comes to standing out in a song contest. Axel is also most likeable and so enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Lisa Ajax / I Don't Give A
A pretty average mid-tempo pop number, completely ruined by the use of the f-word. It doesn't contribute anything, it's not funny, it's not clever. It just underlines that this team too thought their song wasn't interesting enough in its own right.

Third duel:

Boris René / Her Kiss
Happy and energetic. Sometimes that is all you need to be.

Dismissed / Hearts Align
For being a group working against stereotypes, Dismissed seem to rely a bit too much on people finding it shocking to see men in dresses. The actual song isn't bad but they would be better off focusing on being a band and to do less posing.

Fourth duel:

Anton Hagman / Kiss You Goodbye
Anton shouldn't stand a chance here, being a fresh YouTube talent up with a guitar up against a former winner with the most spectacular stage show of the year. However, he feels fresh and likeable and has a song that is easy to grasp and hold on to. This isn't over yet.

Loreen / Statements
It all looked so promising but when favourites fall, they often fall all the way to the ground. Loreen's song and performance stunned many but seem to have confused many others. Maybe enough people changed their minds for the better, but it feels like the momentum is gone.

So, who will make it to the final? My guess is it won't matter much, only shuffle the cards a bit. The winner is probably already there in the final lineup.

But I think The FO&O, Lisa Ajax, Boris René and Loreen will make it to the final. This is not necessarily what I want (I'd definitely have Axel over Lisa) but my prediction.

The highlight of Andra Chansen? Having the running order for the final revealed at the end. That's what I'm waiting for.

Eesti laul 2017: all eyes on Estonia

It is not more than fair to say that the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest lineup is far from impressive so far. We know half the songs and there are few things to enthuse audiences or to write home about. If Estonia play their cards right tonight, they could easily become one of the top contenders come May.

Twenty songs were whittled down to the final ten that will fight it out in tonight's show. They will be voted upon by the audience as well as the usually totally unpredictable expert jury. The three top placed songs will proceed into a super final where the viewers will have the final word on who is sent to Kyiv.

01. Liis Lemsalu / Running
A very good opening number that above all has a captivating verse and build-up only to leap into a disappointingly flat chorus.
Grade: 2/5 

02. Koit Toome & Laura / Verona
Like the electropop cousin of "Goodbye To Yesterday", this one has the same advantages and the same weaknesses - a bit more chemistry between the singers wouldn't harm - but as a song this is the best one in the running.
Grade: 4/5

03. Whogaux & Karl-Kristjan feat Maian / Have You Now
Musically talented and sophisticated but a bit too laid-back and a tad too forgettable to be a good choice for Kyiv.
Grade: 2/5

04. Lenna Kuurmaa / Slingshot
As always, this ex-Vanilla Ninja star brings in something good and totally reliable. Maybe she lost something in her switch to English but this is still a most solid entry.
Grade: 3/5

05. Daniel Levi / All I Need
Slick voice and slick production in what sounds like a sure-fire radio hit. I'd say it isn't direct enough to work in a song contest where you only have three minutes to impress the audience, but not a bad effort.
Grade: 2/5

06. Elina Born / In Or Out
A slightly stressed feeling and a bit of a risqué wardrobe could work against this one, but if Estonia looks past that there is a good and catchy song performed by a singer who only gets better and better. Should be a contender.
Grade: 3/5

07. Ivo Linna / Suur loterii 
Old-fashioned? You bet. But also well performed by a most beloved singer Estonia has cherished since the 1970's. This could be a surprise in the making but hardly an international winner.
Grade: 2/5

08. Rasmus Rändvee / This Love
The most temperamental rocker in the line-up that would at least kick Cyprus out the window with ease in Kyiv. An outsider but in no way chanceless.
Grade: 3/5

09. Ariadne / Feel Me Now
A well-written and convincing pop ditty that really would have needed a stronger performance. Young Ariadne is far too polite and insecure to break through the screens, lacking any kind of wow factor.
Grade: 2/5

10. Kerli / Spirit Animal
Estonia's own Krista Siegfrids has never been closer to grabbing the trophy for herself than she is this time. Catchy, quirky and very easily accessible.
Grade: 4/5

So - what will Estonia do? Predicting the jury's verdict - not to mention those famously unpredictable televoters - is like trying to predict what shape the season's first snowflake will have. But here's my shot at a top three:

3. Elina Born
Because she is one heck of a performer and deserves every bit of praise and success.

2. Koit & Laura
Because the presentation could be a bit too cold in the end

1. Kerli
Because it is her turn and she has a better starting position. But this could turn any which way still.

Secretly I hope for my top two to be reversed but any of these three could give Estonia a solid placing in Kyiv. And so could Rasmus and Lenna too.

Eesti laul begins at 18:30 CET and can be seen online here.