For a moment there, I thought I had fallen asleep in a Delorean and woken up in 1985.
My initial reaction to Fyr & Flamme’s “Øve os på hinanden” was confusion. Are they a joke act or are they doing an intricately-constructed pastiche of the ’80s era of Eurovision? Reading the interview they did with Good Evening Europe: Eurovision Denmark, it’s clear (even with Google’s rough English translation) that they are celebrating the era rather than mocking it. How well that comes off when they perform at Eurovision will probably be the key to their success.
I am not a member of the Eurovision fan community who has a soft spot for the Song Contest of the 1980s. That is kind of strange, considering I first came to Eurovision for the campiness. That decade had kitsch in abundance, but I generally prefer the 1970s type of gaudiness.
That said, I can’t force myself into disliking “Øve os på hinanden.” Singer Jesper Groth is a big reason why. His slightly exaggerated movement and delighted looks at the camera impart such joyful enthusiasm for what he’s doing that I can’t help but smile. So even though I find the song he’s singing cheesy, I am also happy to keep watching him sing it.
Also, he has a chest tattoo, which is something I associate with 1930’s cartoon strongmen and and sailors. That he comes off as more Popeye than Bluto just makes him more likable.
This year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was a preview of what life is going to be like for the next few months. Because the Danish government issued restrictions on large crowds in order to stem the rapid spread of COVID-19, the entire show was staged in an empty arena.
So let’s assume that Ben and Tan now have a distinct advantage if the EBU need to fall back on a contingency plan for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Benjamin Rosenbohm and Tanne Balcells met during the 2019 edition of Denmark’s The X Factor. Ben finished second, while Tan was a member of the fourth place finisher Echo. They formed a duo after the series was over.
Their song “Yes” was written by Jimmy Jansson, Linnea Deb, and Emil Lei. Jimmy had a break-out year as a songwriter at Melodifestivalen this year, co-authoring six songs in the Swedish competition. Emil is a Danish engineer who has worked with Greta Salome. And Linnea is of course one of the songwriters behind the Eurovision-winning song “Heroes.”
“Yes” is a country-flecked pop tune with a big catchy “SAY YES” of a chorus. Ben and Tan’s vocal tones compliment each other really well, with some lovely harmonization throughout their performance. We love how they provide support for each other as they alternate leads on the harmonies. It’s a well-constructed song that has a lot of warmth.
We have to comment on the staging, though, because it was far from ideal for a love song duet. For two thirds of the song, Ben and Tan are on different parts of the stage. At one point, Tan stands behind Ben, staring at the back of his head while he faces forward. They don’t look at each other until the 2:12 mark of the song. It all made Chanée and N’evergreen look like Monika and Vaidas.
That’s why we hope Denmark let Ben and Tan wear their hearts on their sleeves at the Song Contest. “Yes” is going to fall flat if they aren’t allowed to display any chemistry.
After watching Leonora win Dansk Melodi Grand Prix with “Love Is Forever,” we asked ourselves, “Did anyone in Russia put their guns down and not go fight in Donbass?”
Leonora was a figure skater who competed in the World Junior Championships in 2016 and won gold with her brother Linus at the Danish figure skating national final in 2016. She still works as a choreographer while pursuing her music career. “Love Is Forever” was co-written by Lise Cabble, who also co-wrote “Only Teardrops.”
Leonora is an amiable performer with an amiable voice singing an amiable song with an amiable staging. Plus it’s all about love changing the world in the most direct way possible. And she sings it in French and Danish too! What’s not to tolerate for three minutes?
Okay, maybe we’re a bit cynical, but keep in mind we flipped over to Dansk Melodi Grand Prix after watching the fiasco unfolding in Ukraine, so maybe we weren’t up for a sunny “love conquers all” number at the time. Revisiting “Love Is Forever” a week later, we came to the conclusion that it is not good, it’s not bad, it’s just nice. Good luck changing the world with that.
Since Portugal has given Eurovision a maritime theme this year, it is apropos that Denmark has voted to go for the full Viking. Here’s Rasmussen with “Higher Ground.”
“Higher Ground” is by Swedish songwriters Niclas Arn and Karl Eurén, who co-wrote Timoteij’s 2010 Melodifestivalen entry “Kom.” The song is inspired by Magnus Erlendsson, a Viking leader and martyr who sought peaceful solutions to conflicts.
Rasmussen is a singer and actor who fronts an ’80s cover band Hair Metal Heröes. You may be surprised to learn he has performed in a production of Les Miserables.
So let’s not put too fine a point on it: “Higher Ground” is “One Day More” crossed with “Only Teardrops,” but with zombie Vikings. It is a suitably haunting song and the staging is simple but effective. Rasmussen is a solid, charismatic singer and the arrangement makes good use of bass, dwarvish vocal tones. It was our favorite at Dansk Melodi Grand Prix from the moment we heard it.
We do wonder if there is a market for a theatrical song about Vikings outside of Denmark. If so, who will like it more: the parts of Europe that were never invaded by Vikings or the parts that were frequently invaded by Vikings? Either way, we are more than happy that Rasmussen and his fellow unkempt, undead hippie Norsemen have set sail to Lisbon.
Anja Nissen has won Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017 and will represent Denmark at the Eurovision Song Contest with “Where I Am.”
Nissen is a Danish-Australian singer who won the third season of Australia’s The Voice. She had also made the semifinals of Australia’s Got Talent when she was 12. She finished second in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016 with “Never Alone,” which was co-written by Song Contest winner Emmelie de Forest. Nissen co-wrote “Where I Am” with Angel Tupai, who was a competitor on season four of Australia’s X Factor, and Michael D’Arcy, an Australian songwriter who has penned songs for 5 Seconds of Summer and Samantha Jade.
We stress that “Where I Am” is this year’s Danish entry, not this year’s Australian entry.
We know this because Australia usually sends more interesting songs. I mean, it’s fine, in a bland adult contemporary sort of way. It’s great if you want to make a long-distance dedication on a love songs after dark radio show or looking for background music during a standard rom-com montage. (Shh, don’t tell the Danes that rom-coms are dead.) On the plus side, Nissen is a good singer and a charismatic performer, so she has a decent shot at getting Denmark’s groove back. But this is not our cup of schmaltz.
These are busy times in the Lemurs household, making it difficult for us to write about the National Finals results on a regular basis. Rather than skip out on the Eurovision season altogether, we decided to do a round-up of what has happened around Europe up until now.
The most interesting (if not exciting) thing so far is what happened in Italy. This year’s Sanremo winners, Stadio, turned down the invitation to represent Italy in May’s Grand Prix. The day after Sanremo ended, Italian broadcaster Rai announced that they gave the ticket to Stockholm to runner up Francesca Michielin. It was not quite as dramatic as Germany’s schlagerfiasco last year, but trust the Italians to be better prepared than the Germans to handle this kind of situation.
(Wait, did I just say that?)
Francesca has not confirmed what song she will be performing at Eurovision (although presumably she would go with her Sanremo entry “Nessun Grado Di Separazione”), but plenty of other countries have their entries locked up:
Anti Social Media has won the right to represent Denmark and to reply to about a thousand questions about their band name at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest:
Anti Social Media’s styling gave me hope that “The Way You Are” would be a Ruben Cossani-style lounge-pop single. It did have a certain 1960s guitar pop savior faire, but I admit it lacked the swankiness I desired. Still, it did contain a healthy dollop of Denmark’s Eurovision 2008 entry “All Night Long.” I wouldn’t say it’s a rip off (the way, say, Thomas G:Son and Henrik Sethsson ripped off their own “In a Moment Like This” with “Mi Amore“), but it’s hard to listen to this one without imagining Simon Mathew strutting around the stage.
Nevertheless, you’ve got a good-looking, amiable quartet of lads, dressed impeccably, performing a catchy, upbeat love song. You would have to have problems with puppies and rainbows to begrudge Anti Social Media’s success at this year’s Melodi Grand Prix.
Denmark has tasked Basim to defend its Eurovision title with “Cliché Love Song”:
Stop us if you heard this one before: Basim is a former X Factor contestant! He co-wrote his winning song with Lasse Lindorff, Daniel Fält, and Kim Nowak-Zorde. He also co-wrote another entry in the Melodi Grand Prix final, “Vi finder hjem” by Emilie Moldow.
As you can guess from the title, “Cliché Love Song” revels the standard tropes of love songs. Despite its cheekiness, it still comes off as a bit cloying. It’s also relentlessly chipper, befitting the happiest country on earth. Frankly, it would fit right into the regular rotation on Radio Disney. But Basim is an engaging performer, the staging is cute, and the whole thing is slick and professional.
But I am convinced that Basim won the Melodi Grand Prix at this specific moment right here:
You can keep your Azerbaijani showers, Eurovision. Basim has a GIGANTIC DANISH FLAG. I mean, come on, it’s like a NASCAR driver painting his car with military camouflage. A play to national pride never hurts.
STRAY OBSERVATIONS: We talk a lot about how the same songwriters pop up all the time at Melodifestivalen. The same can be said of Melodi Grand Prix. As mentioned, Basim co-wrote two songs. Two of his “Cliché Love Song” co-writers, Lasse Lindorff and Kim Nowak-Zorde, also co-wrote “It Hurts” with five other writers. One of Basim’s co-writers on “Vi finder hjem,” Engelina, co-wrote “She’s the One” with three other writers. And Lars Halvor Jensen co-wrote two songs, “I Choose U” and super-finalist “Wanna Be Loved.” No Ronan Keating this year, though.
Judging from the segments where the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix hosts interview Eurovision legends Johnny Logan (Ireland), Brotherhood of Man (United Kingdom) and Herreys (Sweden), Denmark really wants to win it this year. So they did the logical thing: shamelessly steal from Ireland.
Countries of Eurovision, you’re on notice. If we hear one more penny whistle we’re going to lose it.
“Only Teardrops” is power ballad about, well, who really knows what. Maybe it’s about failed relationships, but the use of drums and Emmelie de Forest’s wardrobe choice of rags and mussed up hair (think Cosette in the Les Miserables logo) makes it read political. We roll our eyes, because this form of pretentiousness is SO Sinead O’Connor. We despise Emmelie’s Cranberries-inspired vocal affectations. It’s a shame really, because she’s a good singer and we like her alto tonality.
And, girl, put some shoes on. And go brush your hair. AND GET OFF OUR LAWN!
Denmark is sending Soluna Samay to Baku with “Should’ve Known Better.”
Jen and I are divided over this one. When we watched the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, I said, “She’s the new Anna Bergendahl.” Jen said she sounds more like Miley Cyrus and that Bergandahl’s song was good enough to win Melodifestivalen. Well, fair enough, but that doesn’t mean the song is any bloody good.
I told her that “Should’ve Known Better” was going to grow on her the way “This Is My Life” grew on me: I liked it okay the first time, but by the third time I hated it as much as I hate being shot in the foot with a nail gun.
Since the final, I’ve since listened to this five or six times (all for you, gentle reader!), and now it reminds me even more of “This Is My Life.” It just doesn’t go anywhere and it’s got this sing-songy hook that gets real old real fast. The crowded lyric only adds to that sing-songiness. Also, “Now I miss you like Sahara missed the rain” is going to make this year’s worst lyrics post. (See last year’s!)
On top of that, Samay’s vocal was grating, and shaky to the point where she does that goat-bleating thing Bergendahl did at her most nervous. This doesn’t give the confidence that she can pull it together when she is performing on the big stage.
I’ll ignore the staging, because they may lose the “General in Love’s Army” outfit and singers on the couch and the Red Sox cap on the cellist. I won’t ignore this, tho: the way she pronounces Sahara as “So-horror” is really, really annoying.