31 March 2015
This year was a record year for viewing national finals for Mr Eurovision. Most years it’s one or two, while previewing the songs of one or two other countries. This year it was nine: Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Hungary, Finland, Greece, Norway and Sweden. Estonia was the only one live. The rest, except Sweden, were usually a few hours after the event to suit my timezone better and skip all the fluff. For Sweden, I previewed the semi-final performances on the official youtube channel and decided the entire show was fluff, so no point watching it again.
Seeing so many national finals or previewing the songs does have a potential drawback: songs that become personal favourites may not be selected for Eurovision. This has caused personal outrage in the past, most particularly in 2011 when Yohanna missed for Iceland with her brilliant “Nott”. It was even better than her second place finish at Eurovision itself in 2009 with “Is It True”.
Yohanna’s loss in 2011 saw widespread angst among fans, including some in Iceland. The decision to send Sjonni’s Friends was based more on emotion than song – understandable given Sjonni suddenly died 12 days prior to his semi final. His friends sung his song and they reached the final in Dusseldorf, so it was all justified. Well… “Nott” became very personal to me, so it was difficult to let go. To compound the heartache, Anna Noa with “Sleepless” had already lost to the dopey A Friend In London in Denmark’s national final, and then, in Greece, Nikki Ponte with “I Don’t Wanna Dance” would eventually lose to Loukas Giorkas and Stereo Mike. 2011 was such a tough year.
In 2015, no such heartaches. Only one song approached such a level of angst, and that was in Denmark when Anne Gadegaard lost to Anti-Social Media. Much like Greece in 2011, the jury had the final say as they ranked the people’s favourite lower than the people ranked the jury’s favourite. Still, ASM were the people’s second pick, so they can’t feel too aggrieved. The controversy is about a possible conspiracy, that juries deliberately rate people’s favourites lower than second place to avoid a tiebreak situation that would then see the public’s preference prevail.
Anne Gadegaard’s “Suitcase” is just an adorable, addictive song, and it’s a shame she won’t be seen in Vienna. Maybe Denmark has a penchant for seeing actual bands perform rather than attractive solo females, because, ironically, A Friend In London in 2011 and now Anti-Social Media are both bands and, also, both have familiar, bordering on plagiarised, songs.
In Finland, the controversy in that PKN only won because of sympathy towards their mental disabilities. Their 90 seconds of punk rock is just about the worst Eurovision song ever and not even worthy of being classified as glorified noise. While it’s debatable that there was anything in Finland super great that missed out due to PKN, Satin Circus with “Crossroads” did finish a clear second and would have brought a far superior listening experience to Eurovision than PKN will.
While the best song won in Norway, there were several that could easily been worthy Eurovision finalists, particularly those from Marie Klåpbakken, Jenny Langlo and Karin Park. Most interesting of all is “Cinderella” from Alexandra Joner. An energetic pop song that used the orchestra to excellent effect.
The best song out of Sweden all year was not even entered in Melodifestivalen. Most likely because Molly Sanden doesn’t have an album ready. A shame, because “Phoenix” will be missed not just on the Eurovision stage, possibly the world stage too.
19 April 2015 – Update
Back from two weeks holiday in the exquisite country of Japan, and here are the two songs I forgot to include. That’s a lesson to not write an article on the day you are leaving to go overseas, or at least be better prepared.
Another song that escaped Sweden’s national selection appeared in Ireland. Swedish singer, writers and backers… what the hell was it doing in Ireland? It finished a close third of 5 songs. While it cannot be argued that Erika Selin deserved to win ahead of the precocious Molly Sterling, “Break Me Up” is a catchy song and would at least have made Melodifestivalen a bit more interesting. Those 3 statuesque blondes on backing vocals are Timoteij. Now a threesome after losing a member, they should have represented Sweden at Eurovision in 2010 with the brilliant “Kom” – had the Swedish public any sense.
Robin Juhkental represented Estonia at Eurovision in 2010 as Malcolm Lincoln, singing “Siren”. His 2015 attempt, “Troubles”, is far superior, being a really quirky, infectious jazzy number – and could only manage sixth place of 10. It just shows you how luck can play a part in winning these national finals. Not only do you need a decent song, you need nothing exceptional among your competition. This year’s Eesti Laul was one of the best ever.