28 February 2016
I hate mornings! Super Saturday in Europe, it’s slumber Sunday in Australia. The plan wasn’t really to get up, considering most nights I hit the sack about 2am. Last night, for some reason, I fell asleep on the couch about 11pm so thought I’d whip myself to the bedroom and try for real sleep and let the force guide me for the early wake-up. If I wake up at 6am, then good! Molly Sanden was the last song of Melodifestivalen semi final 4, and Norway’s final didn’t start until 7am, so I knew I had some wriggle room in case I slept in. It was 6.20, so up I popped and turned on the computer. The SVT stream was instant and flawless. I missed the first three songs of Sweden’s fourth semi final; no big deal.
Sweden – Melodifestivalen semi final 4 (review)
Despite the popularity of some songs in earlier semi finals, I hadn’t considered MF to start until we heard Molly Sanden’s Youniverse – the last song of all the semi finals. While the first impression didn’t blow my galaxy, much less my universe, there was a ripple in my solar system. The re-cap and then the reprise convinced me. It’s another Molly classic. Without having seen any of the other songs in MF, I can’t really say Youniverse should win. I’ll only say that it MUST win! Molly is one of my favourite current artists, and I’d love her to be Sweden’s representative for my first ever live Eurovision.
As for the rest of the semi final, it followed from last year’s trash affair. MF stalwarts Linda Bengtzing and Martin Stenmarck finished bottom two. Bengtzing looked like a cyborg with her huge biceps and shaved head. Or was it just the early morning blurring my vision? I don’t really want to find out. Frans finished second, and his was the only passable song of the rest. MF enters its second chance show next week. Personally, it’s enough chances. There’s still serious flaws with the format. Too many shows and too much fluff.
Norway – Melodi Grand Prix (review)
Last year’s MGP was one of the best national finals ever. While this one could never compete, it did surprise by being entertaining and reasonably interesting. All the songs kept my attention. Much of that is due to Norway’s recent switch to a single night affair, which obviously cuts the refuse.
Laika, sung by a bunch of middle aged women in blonde wigs, kicked off the show and was good… for about 30 seconds. Stage Dolls with Into The Fire were next, and had me bopping away at the computer desk. It proved to be my favourite until song 8 by Elouiz with History. Such a beautiful voice and a really nice song. It echoed older Maria Carey (before she realised she was black), which is good to me! Maria’s early albums were brilliant, so I can cope with Elouiz being a little cliche if it’s so good.
Before Elouiz, there was some strange white reggae (Freddy Kalas with Feel Da Rush) that ultimately would finish second, and a nice soft rock number by Pegasus with Anyway. Anything named Pegasus can never be bad. Stine Hole Ulla’s pretty voice and her song Traces had all the hallmarks of a Disney theme. It really grew on me during the recap. Laila Samuels with Afterglow might have been better had she sung it without waving her arms about like she’s playing virtual Fruit Ninja in slow motion and ejected from the performance the drunken lout in the crowd masquerading as dancer.
The penultimate song was *dread* another boyband. I say “another” in that we already have two in Stockholm thanks to Denmark and United Kingdom. Suite 16 (cute name!) and the song Anna Lee were decent enough, and might have been a worthy winner. That was until the final act of Agnete and Icebreaker. Immediate impressions was this was Margaret Berger lite from 2013. The verse and chorus seemed disjointed on the initial view. Otherwise, really good, and second favourite of the 10 overall.
Norway’s super final is called the Gold Final and they take four songs. It was Laila Samuels, Suite 16, Agnete and Freddy Kalas. Of the four, Agnete was clearly the best, and became my overall personal favourite after the reprise. Ultimately she won easily, winning all 5 of Norway’s voting regions.
Hungary – A Dal 2016 (live review)
A black dude by the name of Uncle Tom, that’s the way to open a show! So politically incorrect, that you know it’s Eurovision. It’s not until song 4 of Petruska with Trouble In My Mind that anything decent shows. It infuses folk and pop and is so addictive. More infusion follows, by Gergo Olah with Gyoz A Jo, this time ethnic and dance. The handsome Freddie with Pioneer returns to a more generic western style, with a powerful rock voice and power ballad. Anders Kallay Saunders is back after his fifth at ESC 2014. The trouble with returning artists is expectations are high, so their songs must be really good. Who We Are, while good in its own right, needs to be spectacular. It’s not. The judges agree with that synopsis as those four songs move into the second round for the public decide. The public alone decide the winner and it’s Freddie. We’ll see his face fuzz grace the stage in Stockholm.
Finland – Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2016 (live review)
Great to see Lordi open the show! So many wonderful memories. I remember asking a Finnish friend on a music forum at the time about Finland’s ESC representative. Her response was something like “OMG” or “don’t ask”. The impression was a nightmare choice. Little did she – or anyone – know the eventual outcome.
Krista Seigfrids survives being cut open by Lordi to co-host the show. Cristal Snow with Love Is Blind is a satisfactory start, as too is Stella Christine with Aint Got Time For Boys. Maybe she should hook up with Cristal? Annica and Kimmo are next and, wow, a beautiful power ballad is more than just Good Enough, it’s great. It’s very un-Finland, so I don’t rate its chances. Eini with Draamaa is your standard Nordic “schlager”, while Barbe-Q-Barbies (I had to read that 3 times to interpret that as BBQ Barbies) are a return to the traditional Finnish rock stuff of the late 2000s. A glam-rock girl band, Let Me Out is my pick so far.
The second half starts with Krista dressed as an adorable pink snowball and Tuuli Okkonen singing Don’t Wake Me Up. Please don’t! While pleasant, it’s one of the weaker ones so far. The soulful Sandhja with Sing It Away is so reminiscent of the Junior Eurovision 2015 winner of Destiny Chukunyere from Malta. It’s in my top 3 at this stage. Saara Aalto with No Fear is next and it takes a while to get going. Then bang, off comes the dress, and the dancers are waving fragments of it about. Or that’s meant to be the illusion. Despite the histrionics, it’s all a bit repetitive. Mikael Saari with his ballad On It Goes finishes on dramatic note. I’m sticking with the Barbe-Q-Barbies! Next is Annica and Kimmo, then Sandhja as my top 3.
The winner is…
After a crazy voting procedure that includes parliament, eskimos, ESC experts, Finnish Swedes, zombies, LGBT, children, Santa’s reindeer and road workers (only 3 of those are fabrications!) the winner is Sandhja, followed by Saara Aalto and Mikael Saari. That’s reasonable enough. Barbe-Q-Barbies in fourth with Annica and Kimmo fifth. BQB’s song probably not quite good enough and, like I said, a power-ballad duet is very un-Finland. Of course, so is soul, so what the hell do I know! Overall, it was a very good UMK.
Slovenia and Moldova
I’m too exhausted to watch anymore national finals and need a break from the computer desk. It’s approaching 2pm now! I’ve been at the desk longer than most work days.
I can’t imagine Slovenia or Moldova could have picked better songs anyway. ManuElla with Blue And Red is a beautiful country-pop song for Slovenia. I’ve just had it play 3 times and I’m hooked. These style of songs can be a bit hit or miss when it comes to Eurovision audiences. For me it’s a hit! Lidia Isac won for Moldova with Falling Stars. It’s an energetic pop with enough key changes to confuse a locksmith. While it doesn’t stray much from the standard Eurovision pop formula, if the result is good, who cares.
The winner of Super Saturday is…
Norway! While I might eventually grow to like Slovenia more, Norway has the immediate appeal. Next is Moldova, Finland and Hungary.
Links to all national final winners are posted on my twitter timeline.
Next weekend is Estonia’s Eesti Laul. It’s another good one, so expect a preview during the week.