A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Semi 1: 05 Denmark

If bookmakers and eurovision fans were always right, we could save ourselves some time, money and effort by cancelling this year's final and just deem Denmark the winner already now. But they're not always right, are they?

Emmelie de Forrest - Only Teardrops (Denmark 2013)

Ever since her 1995 classic "Fra Mols til Skagen", I have been a  big fan of Lise Cabble and her songwriting. She provided plenty of quirky and jaunty pop numbers for the Danish finals through the years and I admit to being a bit disappointed when she finally won again in 2011. A Friend In London were fine but not my cup of tea. And Lise Cabble had surely written better songs than that.

This year's entry is stronger, a lot stronger. Emmelie is a good performer with a personable voice and the stage element with the tin whistle stays in your mind.

Yet, I can't shake the feeling that this is a typical fan favourite song that flirts with the good old days of Eurovision. It is good, but it is the song that will crush all competition and get a runaway victory like Rybak or Loreen?

It doesn't feel like a winner, somehow. Maybe it will come Saturday night, but at this stage I don't think this is the one.Especially I don't think this eurosong-by-the-numbers would have a successful life outside the ESC, which I think a perfect winner should.

Yes, without the shadow of a doubt.

My grade: 4/5

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Semi 1: 04 Croatia

Croatia decided to abandon pop and go folksy instead. Nothing wrong with that. I just expected something slightly more folksy than this.

Klapa s Mora - Mižerja (Croatia 2013)

Once upon a time, many moons ago, Croatia was one of those really promising new participants - one you just knew would win the contest sometime soon. Well, Poland was another one of those.

For years already, Croatia has struggled to make a mark. It has been more than ten years since they last made it into the top ten, four years since they made it to the final.

As for this new adventure into folklore it is not sure whether HRT believes this is a winning formula or if they just gave into the pressure on home ground to present its local culture to Europe.

The chosen song is not a bad one and it faces less opposition from anything similar than many other contestants do. The specially commissioned klapa sings well and given a polished impression that could very well impress juries as well as older televoters.

But were the people involved all that keen on the whole klapa-idea to start with? Klapa singing is usually a cappella but is here baked into a solid pop arrangement, hiding most of the folk elements until the bridge of the song. Maybe it works better like that?

Yes. Their singing abilities should impress the juries at least. However, I don't believe this Klapa will take Croatia back to top ten.

My grade: 3/5

Friday, March 29, 2013

Semi 1: 03 Slovenia

Team Slovenia should consider sending flowers to SVT as an extra thank you for giving them the best possible spot in the running order.

Hannah - Straight Into Love (Slovenia 2013)

Slovenia's entry is modern, well-produced, slick and energetic. Unfortunately Eurovision has not been particularly quick to embrace qualities like these lately. It is OK to be modern, but not too modern.

After the Austrian girlie-pop and the Estonian ballad, Slovenia will burst onto the stage and really wake the audience up. As the first song of its kind on the night, it would have quite good chances of imposing itself on the audience.

If things work out according to plan, that is. As Slovenia has a history of wanting a bit too much when they set up their stage performances, there is an obvious risk this performance will turn into a mess.

Straight Into Love is also one of those songs that are hard to bring to life on a live show. It is designed for a dancefloor, not for a tv performance. Will they manage to keep it interesting for three minutes?

If the answer is yes, then there could be bright things ahead of Hannah.

Yes, given that the live performance is as tight and televisual as needed and that the vocals don't become too shouty.

My grade: 3/5

Semi 1: 02 Estonia

Forget the curse of being number two - since the semi finals were split into two, the second song qualifies more often than it fails. The starting position will not be the biggest problem for Estonia this year.

Birgit Õigemeel - Et uus saaks alguse (Estonia 2013)

Estonia as well as Austria should rather fear getting eclipsed by the songs that come later on in the show. While Austria might see Serbia and Ireland eat a great deal of their points, Estonia faces stiff competition for the ballad points when Russia, Ukraine and Moldova roll in the artillery.

Estonia has a few strong selling points, though. Their ballad could be described as old-fashioned, but it is also clean-cut and elegant, not afraid to rely on its own musical capacities.

It also has Birgit Õigemeel and her strong presence and warm radiation. And the lyrics in Estonian sound most attractive, like a soft whisper in your ear.

An entry to grow very fond of if you let it come close enough.

Yes, I really hope the audience will recognise all the qualities here. I'm far from sure I'm right but I hope I am. But there is also a risk that Birgit will be the Pernilla Karlsson of the year and narrowly miss out.

My grade: 4/5

Semi 1: 01 Austria

The best part about the running order being sequenced instead of drawn is that we should always have a good opening song. Austria is indeed a good opener.

Natália Kelly - Shine (Austria 2013)

A good opener should provide some tempo, some attitude and a general message to the viewing audience that this is a show worth watching. The Austrian drum based intro should sound promising to most and American-born Natália has a good voice to back it up with.

This entry also sets the tone for what this year's Eurovision Song Contest will sound like. It is bursting full of good and well-produced entries that will sound great on the radio but perhaps not stand out a lot from the rest.

In the Austrian final, Natália delivered vocally but gave a bit of a timid impression. She would need to grow some attitude and confidence in time for Malmö in order to be a real contender. Many songs will be fighting for the attention of the pop audience and for now there are stronger candidates than this one.

No, unless young Natália turns into a firework on stage. It is easy to be forgotten when you sing in first position and this semi final seems very open with quite a few entries fairly similar to this one, but "Shine" would deserve a spot in the final.

My grade: 3/5

Thursday, March 28, 2013

ESC 2013: and we have a running order

Here we go, all 39 participating countries have selected their songs and we have ourselves the correct running order for the upcoming final in Malmö.

It was a controversial move to allow the host broadcaster to sequence the songs instead of just draw lots to determine the order, but to my eye at least it looks like SVT did a good job so far. As for the national finals season this year,

I've been the Sleeping Beauty of Euroland, deep in slumber instead of blogging the songs to bits. Now I decided to shake some life into this blog again and review the songs for Malmö. One song per day, in the order of presentation, starting tomorrow.