Second weekend of February, so ON SEASON is in full swing, which makes for tough choices – dedicate time to every selection, or play catch-up afterwards cause life goes on? And what about simultaneous broadcasts? #firstworldproblems if ever there were some! One thing was for sure: sometimes you get more than you bargained for. A LOT more.
Sometimes however you get a lot less – say hello to Eurovision You Decide everyone, where a mere three songs were presented. Three. All equally bland, even if they all got two different productions. If anyone was still wondering whether the UK is in it to win it, you’ve got your answer right there. As if the past couple of years did anything to deny that. ‘You decide’ is quite ironic by the way, when you get a selection this limited. But hey. I didn’t see the NF live, busy winning a quiz, but I did hear the entrants beforehand and saw the winning performance. So excuse me when I don’t go into detail, I simply really can’t be arsed to.
A couple of hours later it was up to The Land Down Under to have their own ‘you decide’. Australia actually IS in it to win it and is going full on down the Eurovision Integration path. So much so that they ended up with a final that took nearly three hours. Are they trying to fill the gap that TVM (the Maltese broadcaster) left? Anyway, it’s nice to get a final with ten songs. Even if that selection is filled by following the Eurovision Cookbook to the T. A bit of rock, a bit of popera, a couple of pleasant but kind of invisible pop songs, a weird blend or two and a lot of focus on visual tricks and voilà: a national final is born. Exceptional it wasn’t, except for the running time of the show. The only ones that jumped out were Electric Fields with their ethno-electro blend and vivid front lady, the cool electro song we got from Leea Nanos who was sadly a bit too young and unexperienced to sell this the way it should have been (where was the act, by the way??) and the eventual winner Kate Miller-Heidke. I’ll keep my thoughts on her for the actual 2019 previews. Famous drag queen Courtney Act was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. I wasn’t a fan of her vocal range to begin with, but I had the feeling she was off key for a big part of the song, and that song didn’t pack a lot of punch in the lyrics and the verses. The OK chorus and ditto act weren’t enough to lift this to immortal status – shame, can’t wait for the first Eurovision-Rupaul’s Drag Race hybrid.
Then it was time for the weekly rendez-vous with Melodifestivalen, the only NF that I will not skip. Even if it grinds my gears at times. Semi 2 only had two presenters for us, and the ladies did a swell job – even if that rap battle at the start of the semi provided for the ‘DAFUQ?’ moment of the evening (well, until San Remo came along, but more on that below). The ‘smygtitta’ bits we got on Friday weren’t all that promising, but this second semi proved surprisingly more entertaining than the opening one!
- Andreas Johnson – Army of Us: It’s his seventh time in MF and to be honest I don’t even remember half of his previous entries. In fact, his only song I actively like is ‘Glorious’ and that dates from an era I don’t even want to mention because I feel old enough as it is, thank you very much. But guess what: I liked Army of Us. Is it because it sounds quite familiar? Cause Coldplay and Avicii are calling and they want their share of the earnings. But copyrights aside, this was quite enjoyable and probably my fave entry of the night. Never thought I’d see that day.
- Malou Prytz – I Do Me: As soon as this got going, I kinda knew it was game over for Margaret. And not only because Malou’s yellow outfit outshone Margaret’s blue monstrosity by a landslide. This is a happy piece of pop that goes on for one chorus too many, but it’s so summery and cheery you can’t help but move those hips. It’s right on the money in terms of the current sound in girl pop and as far as the self-affirming lyrics go, so I don’t mind this being a direct finalist at all. Side note: that title is too dubious for comfort.
- Oscar Enestad – I Love It: I don’t really love it. The vibe of the music was quite cool and made me wanna strut, but THOSE LYRICS. “My parents don’t like it” – what are you, 14? Side note: this felt like a coming out song, I was surprised to read he has a girlfriend. Well, as Marika Carlsson said when she was referring to the LIAMOO-duet: it’s nice that we live in an age where heterosexual love can be celebrated without being frowned upon. I should be surprised that this ended up dead last…but I’m not.
- Jan Malmsjö – Leva Livet: Cue ironic comments with the combo of that title and that performance. The poor sod sounded like he could go down at any given moment. Apparently he was relieved not to be voted through, which makes at least two of us. But then why are you participating? I’m all for giving all ages a chance (waves at Arja Saijonmaa). But when it feels like it’s a matter of ticking boxes, something’s not right. Seriously: no.
- Vlad Reiser – Nakna I Regnet: I’ll have a double portion of ‘meh’ to go, please. No really, I’m not even inspired enough to comment on this. I suppose it was okay enough to tolerate it for three minutes, but nothing even remotely managed to grab my attention – except for that plastic jacket, which must have made him sweat like the average sauna fanatic. Sorry about it, Vlad. (I’m always saying that in a Russian accent, just because I can)
- Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO – Hold You: Awww, these two are so in love my TV was dripping with sugar. Sticky mess. Their backstory made for sweet television and gave a bit more life to this kinda standard ballad. Hanna sure knows here way around the notes and almost overshadowed her lover, except in the bits where they harmonize beautifully. The parts where they didn’t almost begged for harmonies, so I was left feeling this could have been amped up more. A clear finalist though, even if it is bit on the safe been-there-done-that side.
- Margaret – Tempo: Your typical case of wanting to cash on a successful first impression with something that doesn’t even come close to being on par with that first attempt. ‘Tempo’ feels like a formulaic song if ever there was one, and it ends up being a washed down version of ‘Cool Me Down’ which got her to silver in the Polish NF in 2016. I’ll gladly hear it in one of my Zumba classes, but this had no real point being in MF this year. Also, that look was a total boot for me.
I feel like we haven’t heard the winner yet, so bring on semi 3. With less of Jimmy Jansson please – he’s quickly becoming the new Thomas G:Son.
Quickly switching to Montevizija 2019 where Montenegro had a UK-like selection in store for us with only five finalists in a two hour final. Qué? There was A LOT of talking going on, it almost felt like watching San Remo. Almost. There were only two song I couldn’t be bothered with, so of course those made it to the superfinal. Pity, Andrea Demirovic really redeemed herself from that Siegel-cliché in 2009 with that angry electro song – but the world is more into either Glee-like smoothness or cliché dramatic ballads, so there you go.
It was all too clear who’d walk with it in Montenegro, so we quickly switched to San Remo. We were just in time to see the eventual winner Mahmood. He performed in the 9th slot, and given the fact that there were 24 contestants we were in for a long session. How long, you ask? LOOOOOOONG. The hosts kept on talking, looking for the right cameras to talk to, bantering with guests, singing parodies, welcoming other singers that weren’t even in the competition… It felt very much like watching the 1991 ESC. Old skool calling, they want their vibe back. Patience is a virtue, or so I’ve heard – well, RAI certainly gives your patience a run for its money. I don’t even want to run through the songs anymore, they’ve sucked the life right out of me. There were a couple of trends to be noted though: we got a lot of rappers doin’ their thang being all vulnerable and hipstery angry, there was a lot of talking rather than singing, and there was a lot of off-key singing. Luckily, and again this wasn’t something I ever expected to say, there was Il Volo to prove that it wasn’t my television that needed some fixing in the sound department. I actually liked their entry this time round but it was less instant than their 2016 Eurovision bronze medallist, and having one of the omnipresent rappers winning San Remo wasn’t that much of a surprise. Good thing it was one of the ones who actually knew how to sing and sell his song. Conclusion: I don’t know if I ever want to watch san Remo again. Am I simply too used to the slick formats they use in the Nordics?
It all made for a bit of a bizarre evening. I feel like I’m recuperating from a marathon today. The life of a Eurovision fan can be hard. But okay, bring on next week already.