Darlings, can we let you in on a secret? This has been a tough season for us. We like a lot of the songs that are going to Copenhagen, but we love very few. To our dismay, many of the songs that really got us excited were left behind in the national finals. So much so that this year we feel compelled to do a (rather long) post about our favorites. In some cases these were second place finishers, and others only managed mid table or worse. The songs are, for us, the ones that got away – but we will happily play them on our iPhone in the months and years to come.
Sweden: Ace Wilder – “Busy Doing Nothing.” What a great slacker anthem: “don’t wanna work work work, I wanna make money while I sleep.” God knows I can relate to that. While we’re happy for Sanna, we can’t help thinking Sweden made the wrong choice. “Busy Doing Nothing” could have been an international pop hit. Sweden may have even had a shot at winning Eurovision with it, something we can’t say for what they ultimately picked.
Belgium: Sil – “What’s the Time in Tokyo.” This is our pick for the best ballad of the entire season (and that includes “Silent Storm” and “Not Alone”). Show stopping songwriting about a troubled long-distance relationship. Sil imparts profound melancholy, laced with a lot of self-denial and a little hope. WTF Belgium, allowing this gem to finish 5th out of 6 in the final.
Norway: Linnea Dale – “High Hopes.” This song is so freaking suave, and modern, and chill. The MGP presentation was superb too, and it earned a well-deserved second place. Linnea is effortless here. “Mmmm, love me, love me, love me, love me not.” Girl, we love it all.
Finland: Mikko Pohjola – “Sängyn Reunalla.” Oh, this one snuck up on us. In other years, this song would surely have won Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK), but it was a competitive year with a lot of good choices and in the end “Sängyn Reunalla” finished second. We particularly love the haunting backing vocals, which sound like wind on the tundra.
Sweden: Alvaro Estrella – “Bedroom.” “Bedroom” is a cheeky dance pop song. Unfortunately Estrella’s live performance at Melodifestivalen was a vocal disaster and he went out the early heats. The recorded track (linked to below) is a favorite in our car. And, yes, we do groove along.
Estonia: Super Hot Cosmos Blues Band – “Maybe-Maybe.” This bluesy rock singalong stood out to us from the very beginning (when Estonia first released the audio tracks prior to Eesti Laul), but we didn’t think it had much of a chance. Imagine our surprise when in the first round of voting in the Eesti Laul final, “Maybe-Maybe” emerged as #1 pick of the Estonian jury and the televote. (“Yea yea yea yea yea.”) The song proved to be highly divisive with fans, however, and in the Superfinal the televoters turned out in droves, ultimately tipping the scales the other direction. (“Na na na na na.”) It’s probably just as well. We suspect it would have tanked in Copenhagen. We’re quite content to keep this one to ourselves and never know how bad it could have turned out. (“Maybe maybe maybe, I could never tell.”)
Spain: Jorge Gonzalez – “Aunque se Acabe el Mundo.” Enjoyable example of feelgood Spanish pop. Basically, this song is an improved take on Fabrizio Faniello’s “Another Summer Night” (Malta 2001). It finished a distant 3rd.
Sweden: Shirley Clamp – “Burning Alive.” Quintessential Bobby Ljunggren schlager and a powerhouse vocal from Shirley Clamp. Too bad about her styling.
Estonia: Lenna – “Supernoova.” This isn’t the strongest of Lenna’s Eesti Laul attempts, but we’ll happily play it next to “Mina Jään” just the same. To lift a phrase from Stephen Sondheim, give us more to see.
Finland: Jasmin Michaela “Kertakäyttösydän.” This song felt like an updated, Finnish riff on Severina’s “Moja štikla” (Croatia 2006). Jasmin’s elimination in the Finnish semifinals was a crime.
Belarus: Switter Boys feat. Kate & Volga Karol – “Vechnaya lyubov.” This hip hop number is tacky, but super fun in a pastiche kind of way. And on a personal note, the Karol twins favorited everything we said about them on Twitter.
And as a testament to just how good Hungarian national selection was this year, it turns out practically the entire A Dal final is also on this list:
Hungary: Fool Moon – “It Can’t Be Over.” Fool Moon provided a textbook example of how to combine a cappella techniques to create good music and a compelling performance. To date, this is the best a cappella act we’ve seen at any Eurovision-related event.
Hungary: Dénes Pál – “Brave New World.” We love this backdrop. It produces exactly the right mood for the song, transporting you into space and filling you with wonder. Also, we are total pushovers for bass lead singers. We could have done without the sign language, though.
Hungary: Marge – “Morning Light.” This delightful light pop song takes us back to early Madonna and John Hughes movies. Sadly, Marge’s live vocals weren’t up to par and the song stalled in the semifinals.
Hungary: Bogi – “We All.” If one must be twee and have one of those tiresome “let’s just get along” messages, then at least let it be as well done as this one. Bonus points to Bogi for the lemurs.