Sweden’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

Dolph Lundgren co-hosted Sweden’s Melodifestivalen this year, which lead to this:

I know it shouldn’t feel weird to hear Dolph speaking in Swedish, but it is. Anyway, this is Sweden, so you know that there’s going to be some quality entries.  Jen’s favorite was Eric Saade’s “Manboy,” because it’s called “Manboy” and is actually cheesier than the name would indicate.  I dug Salem Al Fakir’s “Keep On Walking,” which had a different sound than you would usually find at the Melodifestivalen.

Ultimately, the song that won was the song that was on top of the Swedish charts when the show aired, Anna Bergendahl’s “This Is My Life”:

A perfectly amiable ballad that sort of grows on you upon repeated listens.  It certainly has the gravitas that a winning entry has, and I bet it had an inside chance of doing well this year, even if we’re seeing scads of ballad entries.

UPDATED: I am totally wrong about this.  “This Is My Life,” upon repeated listens, gets really, really, really annoying. So annoying.

During the voting period, there was a medley of past Swedish and Norwegian entries, which culminated in Alexander Rybak performing “Fairytale” again.  Of the five shows we watched on Saturday, he was on three of them: a live performance in the U.K. on Friday and a live performance in Sweden on Saturday, plus a taped cameo for Estonia. Plus he did the Russian final as well. Goodness knows how many other national finals he showed up at.  Frankly, I can’t wait for the Final to start just so I know it’ll be the last time I hear that song for a while.

Anyway, the highlight of the evening was the glam rock band Casablanca performing last year’s Swedish entry, “La Voix”:

Two things to note:

  1. Couldn’t they have just sent Casablanca last year?
  2. Malena Ernman could totally kick all their asses with one uber-muscular arm tied behind her back.

Germany’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

After last year’s Disaster Von Teese, Germany decided to revamp its selection process. They went with a Your Country Needs You-type format called Unser Star für Oslo 2010, and they brought back into the fold Stefan Raab of “Wadde Hadde Dudde Da” fame to be the main judge.

Over a series of shows, the number of possible representatives was whittled down to two, Jennifer Braun and Lena Meyer-Landrut. During the finale, each performed three times. Their first two performances were their respective versions of the songs “Bee” and “Satellite.” Then Jennifer sang a song called “I Care For You” and Lena sang “Love Me” (which she co-wrote with Raab).

“Bee” was a very twee little song that suited Lena’s quirky speak-sing style more than Jennifer’s full-throttle soulful rocker style. Jennifer looked uncomfortable singing both “Bee” and “Satellite”. She clearly preferred “I Care For You,” so she gave it her best performance on the night.

Interestingly, Lena seemed to have a little trouble with her energy performing the song she co-wrote, although that could be chalked up to nerves. Where she really shined was her interpretation of “Satellite.” Jennifer had performed it as a ballad, which Raab noted was the way it was intended to be performed:

Lena decided to take it at quicker tempo, and this version ended up edging “Love Me” as the song selected to represent Germany at Eurovision:

So the question is, did the Unser Star für Oslo 2010 find a good Eurovision song or just a new star performer for Germany? There’s no doubt that Lena is a naturally talented and charismatic performer, and her interpretation on “Satellite” casts the lyrics in a whole new light. But, as with Josh Dubovie from the U.K., she is only going to have one shot at Europe because she goes straight to the Eurovision Final and won’t have a chance to promote the song on other national finals before then. She’s a perfectly charming person, but will that come across in the three minutes she’ll have? It may come down to where she’s slated to perform, but even then, I’m not sure this is going to be a song that Europe will cast its vote for.  But I’ll still enjoy it.

UPDATED: As it turns out, “Satellite” has been one of the oddsmakers’ choices to win this year, alongside “Drip Drop” from Azerbaijan.

United Kingdom’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

The U.K. would be hard-pressed to come up with an entry as successful as last year’s “My Time.”  Even though that was perfectly dreadful, it brought the Brits a fifth-place finish, its highest placement in years.  Andrew Lloyd Webber did not come back to do another song this year, so songwriting duties fell to legendary tunesmith Sven-Göran Eriksson… er, Pete Waterman. (And Mike Stock, who didn’t get the billing that Pete Waterman did. Probably doesn’t have an OBE.)

This year’s edition of Your Country Needs You featured six acts performing hits Waterman wrote for various acts in the ’80s (e.g., Rick Astley, Bananarama, Kylie Minogue).  It was pretty much an amateur hour, with only one performer, Josh Dubovie, who seemed to have any poise on stage.  The quintet Uni5 had only been assembled three weeks before the show, and they sounded like they hadn’t been together for even that long.  Waterman then picked three of the six acts to perform his song “That Sounds Good to Me.”

It was pretty clear that Josh was going to win, although another solo male singer, Alexis Gerred, gave him a run for his money during the “That Sounds Good to Me” round.  Esma Akkilic, the third finalist, unfortunately forgot the words to the second verse and actually stopped and apologized before picking the song back up.

So here’s Josh with “That Sounds Good to Me”:

You can really tell what decade they had their hits in, can’t you? The verses sound like “Kids In America,” though Waterman and Stock didn’t write that one.

The big problem, aside from the fact that he’s saddled with a mediocre song, is that Josh was picked so late in the national final season.  Jade Ewan was picked early and then visited 14 countries promoting the song during the build-up to Eurovision, including performing at the Russian final.  Now that nearly all participating countries have selected their songs, there’s nowhere for Josh to go to promote the song.  So the U.K. may find itself falling back down the leaderboard this year.

UPDATED: Josh, Sir Sven-Göran and Pete have released the new, final version of “That Sounds Good to Me,” which sounds worse to me than the version performed on Your Country Needs You.  Jen said that they took out the retro-’80s charm and turned this into a Disney theme park song.

It hurts us.

ESTONIA!!!!!’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

Watching the Estonian national final for Eurovision was not like watching a normal Eurovision contest. It was more like watching an art school band jam. Even the most conventional songs were slightly off: Jen described Lenna Kuurmaa’s “Rapunzel” as “a cute little Petula Clark number filtered through 22 hours of darkness.” And this number, which finished second, was one of the more accessible songs.

The winner was “Siren” by Malcolm Lincoln and Manpower 4:

Jen pointed out that this sounded just like Simple Minds during its more prog moments. It probably doesn’t have a shot at all at winning the big show, but it was certainly easier to listen to than, say, “The One and Only – Love.”

Ott Sepp and Märt Avandi hosted the evening’s festivities, and in between each act, they spoofed a variety of musical genres and acts. (It’s not often you get to see Paffendorf send-ups.) Our favorites were the reggae parody and the “We Are the World” parody:

Seriously, where can we get one of those “Don’t Die” t-shirts? The thing is, they were legitimately funny even though we had no idea what they were saying. And it’s not like you often see something intentionally funny during Eurovision national finals.

While the votes were being tallied, Metsatöll performed three songs backed with a men’s choir. Who knew Vikings with bagpipes and amps would be so much fun?

Serbia’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

Another marathon Eurovision day: Estonia, United Kingdom, Sweden and Serbia.  To be fair, we started watching Estonia last night, and we only caught the tail end of the Serbia show since it overlapped with Sweden.  Still, that is a big ol’ pile of Eurovision.

UPDATED: After I wrote this, we ended up watching the Germany final too. AH, WAHNSINN!!

Serbia selected Goran Bregović as the composer of their Eurovision entry this year.  He wrote three songs, and all three songs were done in a traditional folk style. Three acts (Emina Jahović, Milan Stanković, and Oliver Katić & Jelena Marković) were assigned each one of the songs.

Milan was rocking the Let Us Play With Your Look look:

Despite the fact that Will Ferrell didn’t have a cameo during his song, Milan won the night with his rendition of “Ovo je Balkan”:

Pretty solid, though it sounds like Milan got a little pitchy in the middle.  What was fun about the act was the costume change two-thirds of the way through the song, in which the folk dancers changed into b-girls.  It’s doubtful that this will win Eurovision, but it’s a lock to make it out of the Semis, and probably finish strong in the final. How could it not pick up neighborly voting when it’s called “This Is the Balkans,” right?

Slovakia’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

Here is Kristina, the Slovakian representative at Eurovision, with “Horehronie”:

So New Age!  There’s nothing wrong with this song, per se, but it never really goes anywhere.  It’s all mood and no substance. Compare it to “Water,” Bulgaria’s 2007 entry and a song that occupies the same space as “Horehronie.” There’s progression there.  You feel it building as it goes along, whereas “Horehronie” just lies there.  I didn’t hate it, but I won’t remember it either.

Moldova’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

After last year’s quite mad “Hora Din Moldova,” the people of Moldova decided to stick with the dance music. Rather than going with a pseudo-traditional number, though, they went with “Run Away” by Sun Stroke Project and Olia Tira:

Honestly, at first, “Run Away” struck me as one of those generic Euro-pop dance numbers that always seem to fill up some space during the Eurovision Song Contest.  Then that saxophone riff kicks in, and suddenly, I am totally okay with this song.  Of course, the sheer goofiness of the saxophone player probably helps too.

And how about those turntables he and the violin player got to spin around on?  They so need to make sure those make it to Oslo.

Latvia’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

Aisha is representing Latvia at Eurovision with “What For?” Only Mr. God knows why:

I never understand how songs in which the singer hits a lot of bum notes… and trust me, in that second verse, Aisha misses more notes than she lands… make it through to the big show.  You could figure if people grow to know a song during semi-final rounds, then they are more likely to be forgiving of an off-performance on national final night.  But Latvia only had a national final.  I’m almost afraid to listen to the other entries in case this really was the best of the bunch.

And man, is this number maudlin.  Every melody in this song is just whiny. The chorus is catchy, but not in a pleasant way.  And not just because Aisha is off key. “What For?” is just an annoying drone of a song.

Iceland’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

Björk is representing Iceland at Eurovision this year!  Okay, it’s Hera Björk with “Je Ne Sais Quoi,” but I can’t resist using a lame obvious unfunny gag to start things off.  Let’s just cut to the song:

It’s a Europop dance anthem, so it’s hard for me to gauge it.  On the one hand, Iceland did well with “This Is My Life” a couple of years ago (and “Je Ne Sais Quoi” is certainly very reminiscent of that).  On the other hand, Finland did horribly with “Lose Control” last year. Let’s blame Finland’s demise last year on the rapping and then say that Iceland could do decently with “Je Ne Sais Quoi.”  Not that I expect it to win, or even place second.  But they won’t embarrass themselves either.

Denmark’s Eurovision 2010 Entry

The trouble with writing up reviews of songs after listening to them only a couple of times is you sometimes don’t fully appreciate them. I kinda slagged off Brinck’s “Believe Again” after I first heard it, but it eventually became my favorite entry from the 2009 competition.

I think Denmark is on a bit of a roll, actually.  Jen and I are split on Simon Mathew’s “All Night Long” from 2008.  I thought it was a good track, if a bit annoyingly chipper.  Jen found it more irritating. And we both enjoyed DQ’s “Drama Queen” from 2007, though sadly, she didn’t exactly bring a vibrant performance during the semi-finals.  So since the utter horror of “Twist of Love” in 2006, Denmark has a solid Eurovision track record.

Chanée and N’evergreen’s “In a Moment Like This” continues the run of success.  The opening guitar riff filled me with dread, because it sounds a bit like John Waite’s “Missing You”.  Then the vocals kick in to make everything a-okay:

How terrific is that chorus?  It’s like Danish scientists have spent years perfecting a chorus that can get caught in your brain without making you want to drive it out with an icepick.  I hope they use as much of the staging as they can, because I love Chanée and N’evergreen starting out on opposite sides of the scrim. Of course, the wind machine was set a little too high at the end, but you can adjust that.

We both have a good feeling about this one.  The second we heard it during the Danish final, we knew it was the winner. And in a year with a lot of slow, anthemic ballads, an up-tempo pop ballad could just be what the Eurovision audience craves.