2017 Review: Sweden

Aside from Finland’s Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen was the only national final where I watched/listened to all the NF entries. I’m still pissed off that the official Mello channel is blocked on YouTube in the USA, but thanks SVT Play and everyone else who isn’t SVT on YouTube posting all the videos.

Overall it was a pretty good Mello year. There was a lot of variety and favorites in the semifinals (and a lot of returnees—12/28 of the artists this year participated in former years). The final didn’t turn out as diverse as UMK but I’m still fine; I liked most of the entries. My favorites were Jon Henrik Fjällgren+ Aninia, Robin Bengtsson, and Mariette; Nano, Ace Wilder, and Boris René were pretty good too. I also found myself warming up to Benjamin Ingrosso’s entry after seeing the results in Semi 2.

As for the ones that didn’t make it, my favorites were Loreen, De Vet Du, Roger Pontare, and Adrijana. Loreen and DVD crashing out of AC was slightly understandable, due to the entries being either a)marmite or b)entries that needed to be watched at least 2-3 times to get what was going on, as was Adrijana’s entry getting 6th in Semi 1. Roger Pontare placing 5th, on the other hand…I’m still annoyed. Even though I knew that Benjamin Ingrosso was going to qualify direct when there was only one more name to be announced I was hoping that it would have been the epic anthem rather than the entry that sounded similar something on a Disney Channel special. Eventually I warmed up to Good Lovin’ but I still wish there could have been an extra 13th slot. (SVT would have put me on Mariette’s bungee cords to keep me from tampering with the results though). So now I’ll just imagine that everyone who didn’t vote for Roger probably took A and P with one of my professors and didn’t do very well in his class.

Anyways the eventual winner was Robin Bengtsson with his song “I Can’t Go On” (which is sort of a prequel to his previous entry “Constellation Prize”). And fun fact, this is the second artist named Robin that won Melodifestivalen by winning the jury vote only. One of his song’s co-writers, Robin Stjernberg, did the same in 2013.

When I first listened to the song in Semi 3, I couldn’t get it out of my head after one listen and I wanted to listen to/watch it again, with the slick performance, the snapping, the catchy hook. Okay I’ll admit it; the lyrics aren’t going to be AP English material and someone posted in a confessions box that they could fit on a Post-it note due to all the repeating lines. Then again, that’s probably one of the reasons why “I Can’t Go On” is Ohrwurm-y as hell. I’m probably guilty for at least half the listens on YouTube, most of which are involve rolling down the car window and singing with at the top of my lungs.

Or should I say “as fuck” instead? Had the original Mello version been sent to Eurovision, the contest would have been rated R in approximately one minute, and/or the EBU would be slamming the dump (censor) button on average every 18 seconds. I’m not the EBU, SVT, or anyone in Robin’s delegation, but IMO throwing an R in the system interferes with the sound aesthetic. However, like any of the three parties mentioned above, I don’t want the song disqualified, so I’m keeping my discourse down about the song getting Kidz Bop treatment and the word “fucking” getting changed to “freaking.”

OK so I can definitely say this song is in my top 3, and that’s despite two major things that should be keeping me from liking it:

I got food poisoning when listening to the song. Something similar happened prior in 2015, when my friend tricked me into drinking milk when I’m lactose intolerant and I got really nauseous while listening to Moldova’s entry at the time. As a result, I associated the song with nausea and was forced to put it in my bottom 3 even though it would have gone maybe 5-10 places higher. As for Sweden’s entry this year, somehow I didn’t end up hating the song after combining it with food poisoning, nausea, and a migraine. Okay then.

I’ve probably mentioned this ad nauseam (*facepalm due to above paragraph) but I’m asexual. I’m a pancake and a bit flux-y, but I definitely have my baker’s cred. The issue is that this song is literally about sexual attraction. I’m pretty sure after the third semifinal I’d been having an internal debate over whether I should even like the song being a cakey person. Eventually the “Liking this song has absolutely nothing to do with your identity; you’re still valid” voice won over, but I still find it a bit ironic.

So yeah…I really like this song, despite factors suggesting that I wouldn’t. I don’t have any flags at the moment; maybe I should borrow one from Ikea for the semi/final?

2017 Review: Armenia

AMPTV announced a really long time ago that Artsvik Harutyunyan, the winner of national selection Depi Evratesil (“To Eurovision”), would represent Armenia. Given that her first name means “eagle” in Armenian, it wasn’t exactly surprising that her song would be called “Fly with Me.” I was also looking forward to another good entry written by Lilith, who had co-written Aram MP3’s entry in 2014 and Iveta Mukuchyan’s entry in 2016.

So who remembers back in elementary school, when people used to write “The topic of this paper is XXX”? Or maybe when people had lab reports to write and wrote “The purpose of this experiment is XXX.” (Speaking of lab reports, I probably should get back to writing mine after finishing this review…)

Prior to the song’s release, this was Artsvik’s description of the song:

My song tells a story of a girl, who is the metaphorical symbol of love. She embodies the colors, the stories and the voices that make us who we are. “Fly with me” encourages everyone to come with me on this girl’s journey of championing the diverse and beautiful human nature. I think nowadays it is especially important to embrace our heritage and our traditions. We, the people – our colors, our stories and our voices make up this world. We must never forget that this girl’s light and love is one for all of us.”

Fast forward to the song release, and the first line of the song was “I want to tell a story about a little girl with history.” That definitely brought me back to English class. Otherwise, I like the song, especially the “Fly with me high” hook, but I wish Artsvik had a stronger voice to fit the backing track; it seems as if she’s using primarily her head voice. Or maybe that’s just me, because I’d probably sing it in a lower register to not crack when trying to belt something.

As for now, this might end up on the work speaker playlist. On the other hand, if I start dancing it might get taken off again…

2017 Review: San Marino

When I first heard San Marino’s 2012 entry, I facepalmed and I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the keyboard in the school computer lab before coming up with words to yell at Ralph Siegel.

In 2013, I screamed when I heard Valentina Monetta was returning to the contest, but I eventually warmed up once the song came out, even feeling a bit disappointed when she missed out by one place in the semifinal.

In 2014, I didn’t even react when SMRTV announced she was coming back for a 3rd time; pretty sure the only reason to send her at the time was to finally bump San Marino into the final. And she did. It was only 24th out of 26th, but it was a spot in the final and she got to perform twice that week.

Fast forward 3 years to 2017. San Marino’s sent two 16 year olds from JESC building singing about building a potential fire hazard and a Turkish Jeopardy host singing disco. They’ve been memed on Twitter into the country that sends artists from countries that don’t participate in Eurovision, or even the country that sends reject national final entries.

Well they didn’t send a reject national final entry (How would they select it? Through OGAE Second Chance? A national final similar to Twitter contests? And how weird would it be if Loreen represented San Marino?). Instead they announced that one person would be from the EU and another person would be from outside the EU. Enter Valentina Monetta for the fourth time and American-singer-living-in-Germany Jimmie Wilson.

If the US could vote in Eurovision and people participated in neighbor voting, then this would be the one country that I would vote for despite not being that big of a fan. Even though I could also choose between Albania (Lindita lives in Georgia), Denmark (Greenland is part of North America), Iceland (the closest country in Europe on the Atlantic side), or Russia (Sarah Palin can allegedly see Russia from her house). However, Jimmie Wilson happens to be from Detroit. I live in southeast Michigan. That’s close enough.

As for the song itself, I listened to it for the first time and guessed that it was a Ralph Siegel entry. No surprise. Given that a lot of people on Twitter have been complaining about the number of ballads, being an uptempo song, albeit an uptempo disco song from the 70’s and/or belongs on a cruise ship and/or Schlagerfeber might have fun singing this, should give San Marino a bit of an advantage. At first listen the voices don’t seem to mesh very well, but that appears to be due to accents. Valentina Monetta, being from San Marino and not speaking English as her first language, still sings English with an accent. Jimmie Wilson, on the other hand, is from Michigan and doesn’t have an accent at all. There’s also the factor that their voices have really different textures- one is smooth (reminding me a bit of Leslie Odom Jr. or Guy Sebastian) and the other not as smooth.

The conversation that they’re having in the song seems kind of awkward at first listen, but at the same time I haven’t paid much attention to the lyrics. It probably would not matter as much, as the few groups that do pay attention to the lyrics are a) the small group of fans who learn all the lyrics, b) whoever puts subtitles over the live performances, and c) Buzzfeed, which proceeds to mock lyrics over the said subtitles.

While I do think SMRTV should find someone else that isn’t Valentina Monetta to represent the micronation (or at least give her a jazz song to work with for once), this isn’t bad and there might be another borderline qualifier for San Marino this year. However, if they don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised.

2017 Review: Switzerland

I didn’t watch the national final. The choice was between Switzerland’s Grosse Entscheidungsshow, one of the semifinals for Latvia’s Supernova, or doing my chemistry homework. While I was seriously considering watching Supernova to find something weird to blast at work, I chose my chemistry homework (and still managed to not finish it).

*Apologies to my professor. I really need to catch up and actually be able to focus…*

Eventually the ticket to Eurovision went to the 2/3-Romanian group Timebelle and their song “Apollo,” allegedly the only half-decent song in the selection. Disclaimer: I’m not the one to judge which ones were decent because I never listened to any of the songs yet.

Anyways the song’s not bad. I’ve found myself humming the refrain, especially “I will never let you down” and “I’ll follow you Apollo” despite not knowing the lyrics as well as I should (yes, I’m already disappointing myself as an ESC fan XD). It’s got slight Melanie Rene vibes from the rhythm of the song and seems to follow a similar format to Time to Shine; as a result, as a decent, middle-of-the-road/standard Eurovision ballad entry, I’m going to predict the song on the edge of not qualifying (9th-12th in the semi) or like Melanie Rene, dead last, especially if placed next to a marmite or hyped entry. (I hope I’m wrong though.)

Also, is it just me, or does Miruna’s dress look REALLY uncomfortable?

My friends watch Mello

Well then. The final’s going to be next week, and I’ve been super lazy with reviews. There’s already…23 songs out now? And at the same time, I’ve managed to watch all 4 semifinals (thank goodness UMK didn’t take place on a Mello Saturday). On the other hand, my writing drive is still hovering around zero, so instead of a fleshed out review (which I’ll probably do for the final) here are some random thoughts while watching (or re-watching) the semis with my friends.

They’re not Eurovision or Mello fans, but I’ve been hanging around them long enough that they know it’s national final season right now, and they know some of the entries already.

SF1

  • Boris René: Her Kiss (AC >> Final)
    • Does he wear socks while he performs? Because if you don’t wear socks your feet stink. He probably does when he plays football but is he wearing them right now? I’d be concerned for his backing dancers if he didn’t.
    • Did he say “I wanna get her kids?”
  • Adrijana: Amare (6th)
    • This isn’t trashy enough for Eurovision.
  • Dinah Nah: One More Night (5th)
    • That outfit does NOT look comfortable.
    • Looks like she’s going for a football halftime performance?
    • But it’s a really good performance. I really like the rap part when she’s laying down.
  • De Vet Du: Road Trip (AC>> out)
    • Johan looks like the pharmacist that I work with
    • But he also looks like Bobby Flay!
    • *bobs head to the instrumental after listening to it for the 5th time straight to see what was going on*
    • That does not look safe if they were actually going on a road trip.
    • Wait, they’re wearing traffic cones on their heads? I thought they were hats at first.
    • DJ Hunk is just there for the fan service and it’s not even that good. Wait, is he there just to DJ and wash the car?
  • Charlotte Perrelli: Mitt Liv (7th)
    • She’s playing guitar. But I can’t hear any guitar…?
  • Ace Wilder: Wild Child (Final)
    • Looks like she woke up, couldn’t find a stage outfit, covered her pajamas in glue, and threw glitter all over herself.
    • Those aren’t pajamas, wouldn’t you be cold if you wear crop top pajamas to bed?
  • Nano: Hold On (Final)
    • He looks like the guy who sang the Mother song…

SF2

  • Mariette: A Million Years (Final)
    • I want to be her backing dancer, those bungee cords look fun.
  • Roger Pontare: Himmel och Hav (5th)
    • He didn’t qualify because he’s not trashy enough
    • No, he didn’t qualify because everyone who failed his anatomy class refused to vote for him
    • If she didn’t give a f/ why don’t they let him qualify instead?
  • Etzia: Up (6th)
    • She’s from the US? No wonder she didn’t qualify.
    • She has a lower voice than I do!
  • Allyawan: Vart har du Vart (7th)
    • Um… was there a song?
  • Dissmissed: Hearts Align (AC>>out)
    • It’s a pretty good song, the outfits are just aesthetic.
  • Lisa Ajax: I Don’t Give A (AC>> Final)
    • No, she does give a f/ because she cared enough to find a decent stage outfit.
    • Looks like sparkly crop tops are in season.
  • Benjamin Ingrosso: Good Lovin’ (Final)
    • He looks like he’d fit in on the cast of Dawson Creek
    • Did they pull him off the Disney channel
    • Wait, he’s only 19? I thought he was in his mid 20’s already!

SF3

  • Robin Bengtsson: I Can’t Go On (Final)
    • This is a good performance.
    • Wait, but no one gives a f/ when he swears??
    • Was that crotch shot necessary? Nope.
  • Krista Siegfrids: Snurra min Jord (7th)
    • That top doesn’t look very comfortable
  • Anton Hagman: Kiss You Goodbye (AC>> Final)
    • It’s not trashy enough for Eurovision.”
  • Jasmine Kara: Gravity (6th)
    • “But we gravity”?
  • Owe Thörnqvist: Boogieman Blues (Final)
    • *stares at screen for next 3 minutes*
  • Bella & Fillippa: Crucified (5th)
    • I thought Sweden wasn’t very religious?
  • FO&O: Got a Thing About You (AC>>Final)
    • Are boy bands a thing again?

SF4: Confession: I only showed them 2 songs out of this semi.

  • Jon Henrik Fjällgren ft. Aninia: En Värld Full av Strider (Final)
    • She looks like she’s having fun…
    • Wait, this is your favorite of the semi?
  • Alice: Running with Lions (5th)
    • *didn’t show them the song*
  • Les Gordons: Bound to Fall (6th)
    • *didn’t show them the song*
  • Wiktoria: As I Lay Me Down (Final)
    • Well I like her hair. And her dress. Looks like something I’d wear.
    • But are you going to go to bed in that?
    • She didn’t bring a mattress or a blanket or a pillow!
  • Axel Schylström: När Ingen Ser (AC>>Out)
    • *didn’t show them the song*
  • Sara Varga & Juha Mulari: Du får inte ändra på mig (7th)
    • *didn’t show them the song*
  • Loreen: Statements (AC>>Out)
    • Okay, so it’s interpretive dancing, and more interpretive dancing, and more interpretive dancing…