Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017 – Live Notes

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So, had to wait about two weeks after the event, but never fear – I did not watch it nor did I know who won. Luckily, DR broke tradition and made DMGP amazingly easy to find and watch. For those who are new, DMGP works quite simply. DR (Danmarks Radio, the Danish broadcaster that competes in Eurovision) selects ten songs after an open cattle-call for entries; typically, the ten chosen entries tend to be from professional producers and singers (though, every so often, an independent artist or producer makes it onto the show). All ten songs compete in a televised Final; the three songs with the highest combined score between the jury and televotes move on to a super-final. The winner is the song with the highest percentage of the combined televote and jury score. Typically, the jury is comprised of previous performers and producers. This year, they decided to use five super-fans of DMGP/ESC to create the jury.

These are my notes from watching DMGP 2017 for the first time (having not heard the songs ahead of time). I’m trying something new this year, instead of just using generic comments to sum up my thoughts, I’m scoring each song according to the four aspects that make for a strong ESC entry: composition (the music), lyrics (the words), staging (how the song is presented), and performance (how well the singers and dancers do). I will rate songs on a scale from 1 to 5 within each dimension.

Okay, I think that’s everything – on to the show!

 

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017

We are back in Herning for DMGP – the first thing that strikes me is how much the production has been scaled down this year. Is that screen even LED? A few years ago, Herning hosted an amazing event; this year looks more like the DMGPs of old, back when they were forgettable. So, Dansevise is one of my all-time favorite entries and I love that they have the competing artists perform it together. Great message of unity and a strong callback to Denmark’s storied history. Actually, the hosts make it quite clear that DMGP this year is entirely focused on returning Denmark to its former glory. DK, with three victories (1963, 2000, 2013) and Grand Final qualifications from 2008 through 2014 (including four Top Ten finishes), has been one of the most successful countries in recent years. However, Denmark has failed to reach the Grand Final of ESC each of the last two Contests, and has finished towards the bottom of its semi-final both times. DR is being explicitly clear: they want Denmark to be successful again at all costs (I guess, the reduced DMGP budget is to save up for a bigger production in Kyiv).

They’re interviewing the jury now; they’ve been sequestered in their own room (as opposed to sitting by the stage). I like the notion of using fans instead of professionals; though, I wish they had a more diverse (in terms of age and gender) panel. Eurovision fans come from a wide variety of backgrounds, if the goal is to find a song that appeals to everyone and will do well, then DR needs a more representative panel of persons.

Anyway, on to the songs!

Song #1. One performed by Ida Una

Ugh – a peace song – and a trite one at that. It’s simple, but not catchy, It’s trying to be modern, but comes off a but immature in its overall sound. The staging is decent, at least. Though, her singing is not the best.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 4            Performance: 2

Average: 3 (out of 5) Squarely average – sounds about right. I would think this song has an uphill climb to get to the superfinal.

Song #2. Vesterbro performed by Thomas Ring

Whoo! A Danish-language song (there always tends to be one), probably won’t win because of it (the Danes have not selected a Danish-language song since 2005). I think it’s a great song; actually, I’ve encountered this before on YouTube without realizing it was a part of DMGP. Unlike the preceding entry, this song successfully achieves a mature, modern sound.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 3            Performance: 4

Average: 3.5 I don’t think the staging was enough to get it through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets to the superfinal.

Song #3. Color My World performed by Rikke Skytte

Definitely a lot of thought went into the staging for this one. It makes a simplistic song seem more artistic than it probably is. By “simple song,” I mean that the composition doesn’t really do much and that the lyrics are fairly weak.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 5            Performance: 4

Average: 3.5 Definitely the strongest entry thus far, but the night is still early.

Song #4. Where I Am performed by Anja

Another heavily produced composition. But, unlike the others, this song gas more emotion and sounds more human. This is an example of “less is more” staging; she doesn’t seem to be at a disadvantage with the cheaper staging. It allows more focus on her and her powerful voice.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 4          Staging: 5            Performance: 5

Average: 4.25 Super strong! It has a 90s sound without sounding dated.

Song #5. Big Little Lies performed by Calling Mercury

In a complete reversal from the previous entry, this has a dated, 2000s sound. The composition doesn’t build or go anywhere, it just kinda…sits there, which is great for a doctor’s office or an elevator, but terrible for a pop song contest. The silhouettes in the staging are a nice touch, though.

Composition: 2           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 3            Performance: 3

Average: 2.75 Forgettable song coming to your local shopping mall soon.

Song #6. Smoke in My Eyes performed by Anthony

Whoa! Completely different song here! I think that the lyrics are sad – but the composition is so much fun! Yeah, maybe not as catchy as it needs to be, but definitely a strong contender. He and the backing singers have great chemistry. This is definitely a strong choice for victory in my book (at least, thus far!)

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 5          Staging: 5            Performance: 4

Average: 4.5 Lots of fun, eye-catching, definitely a memorable entry and a favorite to win. It should sweep into the superfinal.

Song #7. Warriors performed by Rene Mackon

Don’t know if he just started off wonky or what, but his voice is off. The song sounds modern (like, a discount OneRepublic) but the staging is so 80s (in a bad way); it’s distracting. Probably the weakest entry thus far.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 1            Performance: 2

Average: 2.25 Nope! Even the climax of this song felt flat.

Song #8. Northern Lights performed by Sala Vidoo

If you ever think wearing a disco ball is a good idea – you’re wrong. It’s NEVER a good idea. The lyrics of this song don’t really make sense. Also, the composition and the dance/movements seem very-Japanese: that’s cultural appropriation (i.e., using someone else’s culture without properly giving it context; it perpetuates the idea that other cultures are merely there to be used like items in a store). Despite this, I would say that the composition is fairly decent.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 1          Staging: 1            Performance: 3

Average: 2.75 This is the kind of song that will grow on your; however, it has one chance to make an impression. Plus, the cultural appropriation rubs me the wrong way.

Song #9. Hurricane performed by Jeanette Bonde

The mirror effect only works if the two sides look the same. I honestly thought that this was two different people until the camera switched to normal. Also, the outfit is not good. Both the staging and the composition get better as the song continues. Sadly, her singing does not. The lyrics are also quite repetitive.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 3            Performance: 2

Average: 2.5 Not really all that great. It’s not terrible, just not good. I bet the studio version is better, though.

Song #10. A.S.A.P. performed by Johanna Beijbon

Her pants make me sad. Okay, so, this is merely a vapid pop tune (she called it “party pop disco”). Fun to dance to, not much for a competition- And that’s a missed big note…

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 1          Staging: 1            Performance: 2

Average: 2 No! This is schlager at its worst.

 

Scores of all Ten Performances
Smoke in My Eyes (Song #6) 4.5
Where I Am (Song #4) 4.25
Vesterbro (Song #2) 3.5
Color My World (Song #3) 3.5
One (Song #1) 3
Big Little Lies (Song #5) 2.75
Northern Lights (Song #8) 2.75
Hurricane (Song #9) 2.5
Warriors (Song #7) 2.25
A.S.A.P. (Song #10) 2

This is a rare instance of my predictions aligning with how I would personally rate the songs. With that said, the three songs I think will move forward to the superfinal are:

Smoke in My Eyes (Song #6)

Where I Am (Song #4)

Vesterbro (Song #2) — I am selecting this over Color My World because 1) I like it better, 2) I hope that the only Danish-language entry can be successful, 3) there’s more potential for where this song can go

So, who actually qualified?

One (Song #1) – I guess a boring song about peace can still do well at these kind of competitions.

A.S.A.P. (Song #10) – The weakest song; it merely combines all the worst traits of a “stereotypical” ESC song.

Where I Am (Song #4) – well, at least I got one right. This song should easily win; it’s miles ahead of the other two.

Time for the songs to be presented once more. This time, for all the marbles!!

Song #1. One performed by Ida Una

Still sounds fairly generic and uninspiring. Her singing is not as strong as it was before. I think that this song will finish third.

Song #4. Where I Am performed by Anja

I can’t help but think about Tell Me Who You Are, Denmark’s 2002 entry that came in last (though, I love that song). I don’t like this song as much as that one; however, I think ESC is at a place where a song like it won’t fail so badly again.

Song #10. A.S.A.P. performed by Johanna Beijbon

I understand this song’s appeal, but it’s weak. If it wins, it’ll be another year stuck in the semi-finals for Denmark. This kind of music is not Eurovision anymore. Schlager has been doing less and less well, and this is a poor example of that genre. C’mon Denmark, let’s live in the present, not the past.

Prediction

  1. Where I Am
  2. A.S.A.P.
  3. One

Rather enjoyed the interval act! I love the idea of a medley of some of the most successful and popular Dansk Melodi Grand Prix entries. I think that this does a good job of driving home the point that DR is actively trying to do well at ESC again, a complaint that they’ve doubtlessly received each of the past two years.

Ouch! A.S.A.P. only got 10% of the vote.

And the winner is…

Where I Am (song #4) performed by Anja

Predictions for Kyiv

Song #4 wins in a landslide, garnering 64% of the vote. While not the strongest song (then again, probably none of the entries tonight would have a strong chance to win in Kyiv), it is the most deserving champion among the three superfinalists and will most likely get Denmark back to the Grand Final in May. The bigger question is, what will it once it gets to Saturday night?

That depends on several factors: its competition and its position, neither of which can I determine at the moment. Building a prediction based upon the song in and of itself, I think that it will finish mid-table, so, 12-18th on the night. I think that it will score highly with the jury, but only moderately so with the voting public. I think people will recognize it to be a good song, but not groundbreaking. I hope that Denmark takes whatever its final position is as inclination that refocusing on victory is a step in the right direction.

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