“Ow, is it March already?” That’s how I started my 2020 MF Finalen preview. I can’t for the life of me remember why I was amazed at how time works last year, but in the year that has passed time definitely worked in different ways. So allow me to repeat it: Ow, is it March already? I don’t quite know if I’m actually ready for this Preview, but something needs to pull me out of my Zombie modus so… Då kör vi! I guess.
“What’s in your head, zombie?” Dolores O’Riordan once so eloquently asked, and the answer is: nothing! The trauma of 2020 is still fresh, and the start to 2021 hasn’t really brought any change so…my proactive apologies for an overflow of sarcasm and cynicism I guess. (In all honesty: I’m happy with MF as a diversion. I’m just overwhelmed but the unbearable lightness of being at the moment, and my loneliness is – in true Britney fashion – slowly killing me. Anyway…let’s get it on!).
Speaking of ‘no change’: weren’t those semis a pain to sit through? I’m fully aware that I’m having this statement on repeat, but the system is so formatted to death now, the semis are skippable for non-Swedes. Of course there’s the odd surprise (good or bad), but usually it’s ever so clear what the outcome will be you can easily trust the process (or lack thereof).
That said, I need to get this one of my chest: WHERE. IS. TESS?!?!?! Of course the odd exception happens to be the one that I totally fell head over heels in love with from the first four beats. The act, the song…so perfect! Granted, it borrowed a lot from Kylie (especially her latest (Infinite) DISCO adventure) but still SO GOOD. Maybe I’m too gay to function…maybe the rest of the world isn’t. JUSTICE FOR TESS!
Anyway, now that I’ve got the off my chest…let’s check the actual line-up for next Saturday’s final.
All rights of the videos in this post belong to SVT.
1. Danny Saucedo – Dandi Dansa
The Song: There’s always room for this kind of funky pop at Casa Dimivision. The meaning behind the song is to have fun, driven by the drivel that was 2020, and I can’t agree more. Don’t know if it needed the slightly toddler-esque title or the redundant Macarena reference, but the happiness and groove of it all make up for that.
The Voice: Danny’s vocal abilities are obvious and well-known, though I don’t get the feeling they’re used to full ability here. Although: with the amount of moving in this choreo, one needs to be an excellent vocalist to make it come across as effortless while it is anything but that.
The Performance: This is probably where they’re losing me a bit. There’s just so much going on, it’s trying to be so clever that it kinda gets overshadowed by the abundance of ideas. The ‘sliding room’ idea has been done better by Jamiroquai, and the outfits are all over the place. A more coherent concept could have lifted this, now it’s a bit too chaotic to really sell it. Also: how much confidence is too much confidence?
2. Klara Hammarström – Beat of Broken Hearts
The Song: The kind of generic pop song you’d expect to hear in NF’s all over Europe. The exaggerated beat in the chorus may try to convince you it’s special, but it’s not. Shout-out to the mention of ‘silly season’ though – every Eurovision fan knows what that means.
The Voice: This feels more suited to her vocal abilities than her previous entry, but it still feels a bit too much of a challenge in parts. Good enough for a MOR pop song however, especially with those backings drowning her out in the right parts.
The Performance: I kinda like the understated approach they took, even if that outfit is anything but understated. The lighting effects are the main focal point and it works. Nothing shocking or amazing however…which suits the entire package, incidentally.
3. Anton Ewald – New Religion
The Song: This kind of broody electronic funky pop is really cool in my book. For Eurovision however it needs a bit of a different build-up to really keep the vibe going, this loses momentum mid-way through. More intriguing than what comes before it however.
The Voice: Starts off nicely but goes off track come the second chorus…only to derail in the last part of the song, when there’s little to no opportunity anymore to hide behind the pre-recorded backings. Singing while doing choreo, not everybody can handle it.
The Performance: I’m feeling the lighting for this song, but the outfits and choreo belong to a different concept in my book. It’s like watching a Michael Jackson performance to a New Order track…it doesn’t quite work.
4. The Mamas – In The Middle
The Song: Of course they were always going to serve us another slice of Gospel Pop pie, but I’m happy to hear it taking a different direction than last year’s (surprise winner) Move. It’s got a less obvious hook, but flows a bit more and I personally like this softer approach…even if it does make for a less instantanious feeling. The lyrics are powerful though.
The Voice: For a trio that relies heavily on harmonies, this doesn’t feel very harmonious to be honest. Maybe it’s the sound mix that deceives me, but I can clearly hear one of them taking the lead while the others float along merily with the pre-recorded backings. It kind of takes me out of the magic that it’s supposed to create.
The Performance: So, if this makes it to Rotterdam I hope they get rid of the visual trickery at the start of the performance. It makes sense in a MF context, but at ESC it would only be confusing. I like the golden outfits, it somehow elevates the natural power oozing from this trio. I also digg the fact that there’s more movement on stage, something they obviosuly needed in this no-audience setting – it is clear however that this amount of ‘choreo’ doesn’t really come natural to them, at times you can see them think where they have to go next.
5. Paul Rey – The Missing Piece
The Song: Once it gets going and the beat kicks in, this manages to pull you in – especially during the bridge where we get a build-up that is reminiscent of Coldplay in their A Rush Of Blood To The Head era (which is a good thing). It’s just a pity that the acoustic part at the start takes up one third of the song – it promises something different, which isn’t necessarily bad, but doesn’t exactly captivate…unlike the other two minutes.
The Voice: I fell in love with Paul last year and the love continues…even if I think this song doesn’t exactly manage to showcase his vocal abilities to the max.
The Performance: I like the idea of using one lead color and interrupting it with a second color in the outfit. I also like the use of different stages and shapes. But I don’t feel like it adds anything to the song…it feels a bit random at times. I’m not saying they should have gone for something on the nose like a puzzle or Tetris…but some kind of storyline could have lifted this a bit more.
In one line: There’s only one missing piece and that’s peace. (Deep, I know.)
Why it could win: Compromise winner like 2013.
Why it won’t win: Who will vote for this in this final, I wonder?
6. Charlotte Perrelli – Still Young
The Song: This sounds quintessentially MF – no wonder, with those songwriters in the credits – and it feels like every other quintessential MF entry: slightly cheap, easily assembled, kinda works in every setting but is hardly ever exciting. Permission to find the lyrics, and especially the title, deliciously ironic.
The Voice: There’s no need to discuss miss Perrelli’s vocal abilities, she’s a real pro. I don’t know if she’s the right choice for this track (or vice versa), but it’s certainly way more up her alley than that acoustic effort some years ago.
The Performance: Ever so reminiscent of the ESC 2016 opening (the flag parade), I’m not quite sure what this catwalk-vogue themed performance is doing for this song. I like the performance…I just don’t get the combination with the song. Like, at all.
7. Tusse – Voices
The Song: That dark electronic vibe that infiltrates the song from the get-go is really intriguing, especially during the verses and the build-up to the chorus. I guess the chorus is very accessible, but it doesn’t feel as intricate as the rest of the song. Especially with those lyrics, that feel a bit too on the nose – more like something, random example, Russia would send. Even if the message is nice and contemporary, I’m not sure we need it delivered like this. And the key change is probably one of the worst ones we’ve ever had to endure in all of ESC history. I actively hate it, and it instantly puts me off the song.
The Voice: Tusse really makes the most of the verses, but sadly struggles with a couple of the high notes. It’s not actually off, but they really need to reach. Like, a lot. Especially after that key change.
The Performance: Probably the best thing about this entry. Everything matches the vibe to a T. The play with the lighting, the difference in color, the polished look (down to the nail polish)… Unlike the other entries we’ve seen up till now, this really feels like a solid package.
In one line: Somewhere, Polina Gagarina is preparing a law suit.
Why it could win: It’s got a lot going for it, not in the least a vibe that matches the current climate.
Why it won’t win: People hate the key change as much as I do.
8. Alvara Estrella – Baila Baila
The Song: This reminds me of how much I miss my Zumba classes. Other than that, it’s pretty spectacular how unspectacular this is.
The Voice: Last year, I praised Alvaro for his share in the Mendez entry. This year however, it turns out that Alvaro can only be a real Estrella when he has some kind of counterpart to make him shine. I don’t really feel that he’s carrying this the way he could or even should. In other words, it’s pretty spectacular how unspectacular this is.
The Performance: Well, we all need a party these days and performance wise we get what we need. But let’s be honest… it’s pretty spectacular how unspectacular this is.
9. Clara Klingenström – Behöver Inte Dig Idag
The Song: Confession time: I’ve been playing this almost on repeat ever since its semi. It’s the kind of country pop the Swedes are so good at (see also: First Aid Kit, A Camp,…), and the fact that it has these relatable, touching yet empowering lyrics makes it even better. This has got Amy Macdonald / KT Tunstall / Ilse Delange vibes about it and I’m simply in love with it. Sorry for putting the Dimivision curse on you, Clara.
The Voice: It might not be the most sophisticated voice out there, but the occasional struggles in the live version only make for a more believable concept in my book. It only emphasizes that this isn’t the result of some kind of formula or recipe.
The Performance: The sparse approach is a bit flabbergasting at first glance, but then again anything bigger than this would only contrast the song too much. The simplicity only draws more attention to the vibe and message of the song. It’s a bit weird though how she stops playing the guitar halfway through. But it’s only a minor detail.
In one line: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?
Why it could win: Sweden suddenly decides it doesn’t need to use the big guns to go the Eurovision.
Why it won’t win: It’s a nice local hit, but won’t lure in the masses.
10. Eric Saade – Every Minute
The Song: Probably the song that sounds most like it wasn’t written specifically for Eurovision in this field. I mean, it still sounds like it can work at Eurovision, but it can also be a hit on its own. Loving the electronic vibe in the verses, and while the chorus sounds a bit on the easy side it IS quite instant. Lyrically perhaps not very subtile, especially in the chorus – and the ‘you light up my dark’ at the end might come across as philosophical but it has a weird ring to it. No? Just me? OK.
The Voice: Unfortunately I kinda hate Eric’s nasal sound. As a vocalist he’s improved a lot over the years and he carries this well…but I just can’t stand the color of his voice. Sorry not sorry.
The Performance: The visual concept borders on art, I digg it. The addition of the shadow wasn’t needed, I feel…but it doesn’t harm the performance either. What does harm it, are the wardrobe choices. *insert Tatiana* Maybe I’m starting to loose touch with with what’s trendy, but: no.
In one line: Come light up my dark, Eric.
Why it could win: It’s a solid package that could do very well at Eurovision.
Why it won’t win: There’s a lot of competition fighting for the same votes in this final.
11. Dotter – Little Tot
*Must…not…mention…Bulletproof…* So…erm…does anyone feel like they tried to repeat last year’s impact, but only managing partly? There are parts to this I really like, like the electronic drop for the first passage of ‘you don’t wanna be like us’ after the chorus. But the entire package feels like it’s trying to be something it’s not, it’s a bit too formulaic for its own good. It doesn’t feel like it suits Dotter either. Dunno. Maybe I’m still digesting last year’s loss, but this feels like it’s trying hard without really getting there.
The Voice: Last year’s weak point in parts, and Dotter manages to keep herself more upright here.
The Performance: Where are the mirrors? Nah, kidding. I like the cold vibe here, it matches the electronics in the production…but then isn’t really up to par with the softness of the lyrics and the title. Again, something feels off and I don’t know what it is but it weirds me out.
In one line: I’m so confused, I almost feel like Karen from Mean Girls while sitting though this.
Why it could win: Sweden wants to make up for what happened last year.
Why it won’t win: Sweden doesn’t care about what happened last year.
12. Arvingarna – Tänker Inte Alls Gå Hem
The Song: Just a sprinkle of The Bee Gees’ Tragedy in the production there, before it goes completely and utterly typical dansband that is. It’s so unapolegetically and quintessentially old skool MF that you can hardly hate it. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It’s a bit too by-the-book without an actual interesting hook. Also: Alexa, play Ironic by Alanis because I can’t with these lyrics in Covid-lockdown-times.
The Voice: While I think Casper is a good vocalist, I don’t think he’s the best fit for this song – he sounds like he’s going all out for half of the song, it could use a bit more light and shadow for my liking. Also, when they switch in the bridge to one of the other members I was fully embodying Alyssa Edwards in this clip. The blasphemy of it all. (Also: auch.) The harmonies didn’t sound as harmonious as they usually do. Maybe the soundmix…maybe not.
The Performance: Cute enough, I like the Australia 2015 approach which suits the lyrics very well. It’s a bit on the traditional side versus some of the other performances, but anything else for this song would be wrong.
In one line: (Prepare for a quick witted reference to their previous MF entry!) I don’t.
Why it could win: It’s last in the line-up and wodka has clouded people’s minds.
Why it won’t win: It’s very Swedish, but perhaps too Swedish.
So, on to the Big Question: who will come out on top? I think it’s Eric’s too loose, even if Tusse could threaten that status of fave. Don’t think The Mamas can repeat their win, though they have surprised me before so never say never. I do hope for a surprise however…you know, just to break free from the formulaic feeling of it all.
Who do you think’ll win? And who is your favorite? Vote below!