Posts tagged “Denmark

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017 – Live Notes

Image result for dansk melodi grand prix 2017

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.


ESC 2016 Reviews: Second Semi-Final, Part Two

Hello Dear Readers!

Nine more semi-finalists to review! Once again, not as strong as the First Semi-Final, but definitely a lot of good songs. And definitely some interesting ones.

Second Semi-Final, Second Half

 

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection*

Albanian flag country

 Albania

Eneda Tarifa

Fairytale

Televised

Thoughts:

I don’t understand why they decided to translate this song into English. The original Albanian was just fine – sure, the song’s composition needed a bit of retooling, but there was no need to change languages – especially since language does not seem to have much bearing on Albania’s final placing. I, personally, find this to be one of the more compelling, midtempo power ballads thus far, but I’m not sure how the song will translate to the ESC stage.
Belgian Flag Country

 Belgium

Laura Tesoro

What’s the Pressure

Televised

Thoughts:

So, apparently Tesoro is 19, even though she looks like she’s 12 and this sounds like something from JESC. Don’t get me wrong, I really dig the dynamite disco beat to this track. However, I’m not sure if the song has a mature enough sound to it; the lyrics are rather mundane. Nevertheless, the song is funky and fun and uplifting without being trite. It will be interesting to see Belgium send another dance heavy performance to ESC.
Bulgarian Flag Country

 Bulgaria

Poli Genova

If Love Was a Crime

Internal

Thoughts:

An interesting song. definitely better than Na Inat. Bulgaira, and Genova herself, are fresh off hosting the JESC and decided to take some of that production value and apply it here. This is the most mainstream song that I have ever heard Bulgaria present. In this weakened semi-final, I definitely think it will move through to the Grand Final – for only the second time in Bulgaria’s history!
Danish Flag Map

 Denmark

Lighthouse X

Soldiers of Love

Televised

Thoughts:

My initial thoughts on this song can be found in the DMGP 2016. Essentially, I like it a lot but thought that the Danes had stronger options available to them. This opinion remains unchanged after hearing it within the context of the Second Semi-Final. While each of the last two times the Contest was in Sweden, Denmark finished victorious, that streak will end this year. I am just hoping that this song qualifies for the Final.
Georgian Flag Map

 Georgia

Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz

Midnight Gold

Televised

Thoughts:

Definitely a song that stands out! I’m shocked that this could win a national selection show; though, Georgia has shown that it is most definitely a land of experimental and eccentric artists, young and old. However, this might be too out there for the mainstream audience of the adult ESC. I am predicting this to languish behind in the semi-finals.
Norwegian Flag Map

 Norway

Agnete

Icebreaker

Televised

Thoughts:

“I’ll be your icebreaker/When you’re stuck in frozen water.” Really? Is this best that could be done? Also, anyone else think that the transition into the chorus is kind of awkward, like, the song stops and skips a bit, the first time, I thought something was wrong with my video feed. With that said, like Serbia, this song has that “sound” of a winner. And, we know that Norway’s first victory came on Swedish soil — in fact, Norway tends to do well in Sweden.
Romanian Flag Map

 Romania

Ovidiu Anton

Moment of Silence

Televised

Thoughts:

Definitely an 80s rock opera inspired song; Queen immediately came to mind while listening to this song. I enjoyed it, but overall find it so-so. However, we know that Romania tends to do well as does 80s rock (generally), so I would bet for this song to move through to the Final.
Slovene Flag Map

 Slovenia

ManuElla

Blue and Red

Televised

Thoughts:

Another country song, a little poppier than the Netherlands, but definitely Nashville-inspired. I’m not quite sure what this song is about, though. Is she saying that she’s moved on and is happy that her ex is now blue (meaning sad)? Or is she saying that they’ve gone through ups and downs and now colors no longer matter because they have love and each other? The song is happy, but it could really go either way. Much like this entry’s odds at qualifying for the Final.
Ukrainian Flag Map

 Ukraine

Jamala

1944

Televised

Thoughts:

Hmmm…I’m surprised that they allowed this song to compete without a lyrics change. Officially, the song is about the forced migration of Crimeans to Central Asia by the USSR; the Crimean Tatar language portions are direct quotations from Jamala’s grandmother who lived through this event. However, it would be naïve to think that this song lacks a sharp, current context. It ends with her saying “Because you took away my peace/I couldn’t spend my youth there/I couldn’t enjoy my motherland.” This is clearly referencing Russia in Crimea, past and present. The fact that the EBU allowed it to stand as is shows Western Europe’s sympathy for the situation in Ukraine. This is my favorite song thus far between both semi-finals. I also think it well deserves a place in the Top Ten and that it will earn its spot there, as well.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The only example of that this year is Malta, which had a televised selection, but opted to change the song through an internal selection process after Ira Losco won.

So, who do I think will qualify from this semi-final? What are my favorite songs?

Predicted Qualifiers
(In alphabetical order)

My Top 10
(Starting with my most favorite)

Australia Ukraine
Belgium
Serbia
Bulgaria
Macedonia
Denmark Australia
Norway Belgium
Poland Denmark
Romania Norway
Serbia
Israel
Switzerland
Bulgaria
Ukraine Latvia

More importantly, who do I think, from the First Semi-Final, will be competing for the crown?

Serbia – A diva-driven song about getting over a relationship.Serbia Well performed, well written, and well composed. While I think this song will be limited depending on where it falls within the running order, it should most definitely be considered a stronger contender to win ESC and return the Contest to heart of the Balkan peninsula, probably either back to Belgrade or to Novi Sad.

NorwaySerbiaUkraine is the only song from the Second Semi-Final that I think has the ability to win (as I said, this is the weaker of the two). However, both Norway and Ukraine have really strong songs that I think will finish in the Top Ten.

**Of course, these are my initial predictions without doing any research into fan sites, internet comments, or betting odds. Stay tuned for future posts (including Saturday’s) with more nuanced predictions and, of course, the 2016 edition of Contender or Pretender.

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Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016!

denmark_2016_poll-620x330Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome to my annual live notes for the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix! Ever since I studied in Denmark back in college (2007), I have considered it to be my second home country – and I always cheer for them in ESC. Those of you who have been following me for years know that my ESC coverage for the new year starts in earnest with my live notes from DMGP! As a reminder, live notes are my Denmarkrunning commentary; I write them as I watch the show for the first time. This year, I am fortunate enough to be able to watch the show live online (dr.dk) – which I always love doing; sharing the moment with all of Denmark!

What a great opening! First, we’re reminded that each of the last two times that Sweden hosted the Contest: Denmark has won. Perhaps 2016 will continue this pattern?

The hosts singing a rousing song about the glory of Danish music, their closeness with their neighbors to the north (Sweden), and the hope for a great show!

As a reminder, DMGP is determined from a mix of jury and televoting. The ten competing songs are all performed. We have a voting period. Then the top three songs according to a 50/50 combination of jury and televoting move through to the superfinal. These three songs are performed again. We then have another voting period. This year, the winner is determined soley by the votes of the public which are revealed in reverse-order. The public’s votes are distributed proportionately.

Our expert jury, who’s points account for one half of our final score – a songwriter from Satellite, president of the MGP fan club, Chanée (half of the duo from Denmark in 2010), the director from 2014’s Contest, and a music producer.

 

Song 1Rays of Sunlight performed by David Jay

This song is a lot of fun! The performance is great. Why the arrangement is a nice and the lyrics are swell – the song is just a bit too corny, for my taste. Maybe it will grow on me, but right now, I’m a bit lukewarm on it.

Song 2 Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone

While this is not the song co-written by winning performer Emmelie de Forest (that is song 10), this song brings to mind Rainmaker and Hunter and Prey, two of de Forest’s post-Contest songs. Despite this, I think the song is really great! The oversized heart is also a nice touch – particularly as it raises her up a bit. I don’t quite understand the point of the dancers, as they’re barely onscreen. Very strong song!

Song 3Breakaway performed by Bracelet

Hoping that their dual Danish-Swedish heritage works to their advantage. What are they wearing?! It’s like they want to try to be loud and edgy, but they don’t take any real risks with it; overall, their look is just kind of weak. The song is rather repetitive, but not in a good way. While it may appeal to the hoards of preteen girls watching, I just don’t see this song having mass appeal.

Song 4Blue Horizon  performed by Sophia Nohr

I like this, but think that it tries too hard to be “different and unique” — this is what we would refer to a “hipster” song here in the States. It’s alright, I don’t think it will move through to the superfinal, but it’s not bad.

Song 5  – The Wrong Kind performed by Veronicas Illusion

It’s nice to have another uptempo song, but this isn’t very good. There’s a lot of flashing lights and sounds and dances. It’s just a complete mess. The song is only okay. I am not impressed and don’t anticipate this song being very popular tonight.

So, halfway through, I think songs 1 and 2 are so far the strongest; but  neither are all that stunning. Interestingly, we don’t really see the usual attempts of capturing last year’s magic of Heroes, A Million Voices, or Grande Amore. Perhaps the second half will present a few examples?

Song 6  – Soldiers of Love  performed by Lighthouse X

I don’t care for their voices; at least, not when they sing individually. Despite this, Soldiers for Love is, thus far, the most complete song we’ve seen. The performance and staging are modest, but in a good way. The song is catchy without being overly repetitive. The music is nice. It will just be a matter of whether the Danes can get past their aversion to military metaphors and vote for them.

Song 7  – Who Needs a Heart  performed by Kristel Lisberg

Again, I do not particularly like her voice. I like her outfit, but not those of her backing singers. Umm….this song is okay. It would definitely need to some beefing up and reworking if it somehow wins tonight. But since I do not see that as a major possibility, I don’t think that it will be an issue.

Song 8  – Break It Good  performed by Jessica

Hmm, a reggae-inspired song. I cannot say that I was expecting something like this. But I cannot imagine this song doing well either tonight in DMGP or on the stage in Stockholm. Also, what the heck is she wearing?

Song 9  – To Stjerner performed by Muri & Mario

Our one and only Danish language song tonight. It really is a shame the DR does not promote more Danish language stuff — it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve last heard Danish on the ESC stage. I like the sound of the song; it’s very different and stands out from the crowd. The acrobat is also a nice touch. Once again, the singer’s voice needs some work, in my opinion. But I like the song and think that it could do well in Sweden, but not so much here.

Song 10  – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

This is the song co-written by Emmelie de Forest; it has a bit of controversy, because de Forest had performed it at a few, smaller concerts a few years ago. After consulting with the EBU, it was determined that those public performances were not big enough to warrant eliminating the song. Oh no, it sounds like she’s sick or something, her voice just sounds off. As the winner of The Voice Australia, I was imagining a stronger performance. It’s a shame, because this sounds like a song that has a real  shot of, not only winning tonight, but challenging for the crown in Stockholm. Hopefully, the Danish public and the jury look past her rough start and vote for this song!

 

So, my thoughts on our ten songs from tonight.

My Top Five

  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone
  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen
  1. Song 9 – To Stjerner performed by Muri & Mario
  1. Song 1 – Rays of Sunlight performed by David Jay

Who I think will make it to the Superfinal

  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen
  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone

I know what you’re thinking, “he just chose his top three songs to move through to the superfinal. That’s not very smart.” And you’re both wrong and right. I chose the three songs that I think have the best shot of moving through to the Superfinal; they just so happened to be my favorite three from the night. You’re right in that I do not have a very good history with picking successful entries at DMGP. But hey – no one’s perfect!

Our annual choir of kids.  Yadda yadda yadda. Small talk with hosts and guests. Yadda yadda yaddda.

Okay, and our three qualifiers are….

  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone
  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

 

Buahahaha! I was 3 for 3, 100% correct! That’s exciting! Now another sketch (which, by the way, these sketches are funny, to imagine that her as this tough-as-nails, Godfather-type character, is pretty cool).

Okay, and onwards to the Superfinal. This is for all the marbles. The songs need to be in full glory this time around in order to be crowned in victory.

Song 2  – Heart Shaped Hole  performed by Simone

Her voice is amazing, just as strong as the first time around. However, I don’t feel like this is any better than earlier tonight; it’s merely the same level of performance. She needs to give us more in the last third of the song. Here we go…building up to the final climax…and…meh. A very good job, no doubt, but will it be good enough to leave a massive impression and knock off the other two.

It’s about time we talk about Dansevise, one of my favorite ESC winners of all time! It’s such a haunting song, particularly the guitar rift, which is what we’re focusing on here in this video.

Song 6  – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X

They’re voices need to be stronger and clearer this time around. So far, so good. It’s good, but I just can’t keep thinking about the 3JS (Netherlands 2011) when I listen to this song. I really like this song, and think it could compete on the ESC stage, however, I just don’t think it has enough to beat either of the other two songs, even with this slightly better performance in the Superfinal.

Song 10  – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

So, I think this is hers to lose at this point (which is interesting, as Denmark is not known for choosing non-Danish performers, even when they have Danish heritage). You can see it in her eyes, she’s performing with this look of confidence, as if she’s already won. Listen to the crowd! That was a good performance. Again, her voice was not as strong as it could have been, but I think she gave a great performance.

After last year’s failure, Denmark is striking back with three very strong songs that all are worthy of bringing the trophy back to Denmark. I like Soldiers of Love a lot, but I just do not think that it has what it takes to outperform the other two songs in the voting. It’s not as captivating as the other two and the singers are less appealing to the general audience.  So, while I think that Heart Shaped Hole is the better song and the better-performed song, I have a feeling that Never Alone is going to easily win tonight. Which, honestly, might be the better, strategic choice for DR, as Nissen is Australian which unlocks loyalty voting from Australia, the UK, and Ireland. The song is also more uptempo and more uplifting; it’s catchy and the singer is pretty. We’ll see.

Okay, so now we’re talking about Swedish winners. Oh! A fun picture of Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015) with a pile of beer. A short interview with C​​harlotte Perelli (Sweden 1999…and 2008). And now, a performance from Loreen (Sweden 2012), who’s as pretty as ever and singing a lovely version of the ever popular Euphoria.

Danish Flag MapFinal Resutls!

So, Heart Shaped Hole gets third place…and the winner is…Soldiers of Love! Of course it is. Right when I predicted that it would come in last. Honestly, I think Denmark would be well off with any of these three songs. This is my favorite song from tonight. It will be interesting to see how the song takes shape between now and when the final version is due in mid-March. As I say above, I think that this song has a very strong chance to do well at the ESC and I look forward to supporting the song in Stockholm!

 

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Hopes for the 2016 Contest

esc2016

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, we now have our breakdown of who is in which semi-final, we’re up to nine artists selected without a song, and five complete entries known! With more revealed just about every weekend, Eurovision season is in full swing! So, as we await the final song list and their final forms (due in mid-late March), let’s go over some hopes and dreams for this year’s Contest.

Design:

The theme for this year is “Come Together” and the logo is a IKEA style disco ball!

Eurovision_2016_Official_LogoI can’t take credit for that joke, a friend in a Facebook-based fan club made it first. But still, the design leaves much to be desired. As we know from previous years, the design can often give us ideas of the final stage design. In 2013, Malmö gave us a backdrop based on the wing patterns of maths and butterflies. Denmark gave us boxes that mimicked the geometric design of their crystal emblem. And Vienna recreated the bridge from its logo as the upper bound of the stage. Having gotten my fan ticket for “Standing Right” I know that the stage will be a bit of a peninsula, surrounded by fans on three sides. I wonder if they will have a circular screen or if the stage itself will be round, allowing increased standing area for fans and exposure for those in the seats. What I hope for, more than anything, is that we will not get an overabundance of lame puns and dirty jokes based upon the slogan. A boy can dream, I guess.

Hosts:

We know that the ever-popular Petra Mede and last year’s winning artist IMG_6290Måns Zelmerlöw will be our hosts for the Contest. While many love Mede, I think she is just okay. She is funny and capable, but I think she relies too heavily on gay jokes. As I have said before, ESC is for everyone, not just gay men. Sadly, I know it will be more of the same, especially since Zelmerlöw is trying to fight an image that he is homophobic (at one point in the past, he made a comment, while on a talk show that gets its guests drunk, that he thought allowing gay couple to adopt was not a good idea. He has since recanted this statement and has made many efforts to put it behind him). While I, myself, am a gay man and I know that a sizeable chunk of ESC fans in attendance are gay men, the majority of the audience is not. Pandering to the base is rarely, if ever, a good route to take. My hope from the hosts is that Petra Mede will not be wearing any of the hideous dresses she had on in 2013. Or, really, any hideous dresses in general.

Staging:

IMG_4703As I said in my recap of 2015’s Contest, I loved almost every production decision made by the host broadcaster this past year; it’s the closest to a production that I, myself would have designed that we have seen. I would love to see Sweden carry on the tradition of highlighting the history of the Contest and tying the past, present, and future together. So many great songs have graced the stage of the ESC; it’s a shame that most fans today do not know anything older than 2010. Focusing on the history would be great – especially since Sweden is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Carola’s win in 1991. The biggest thing I would like to see changed is the voting and interval act. A few years ago, a trend began where we had entertainment during the voting sequence as well as an interval act. I have no doubt that this has contributed to each of the past three Contests running way over time. My hope for the production is that we will go back to a tight 15 minutes for voting, where we get our two recaps and production clips. And that the interval act returns to being a succinct, yet entertaining, way for the host country to promote an artist/itself.

The Fan Experience:

Last year, this was the biggest issue in the way how Vienna hosted the Contest.Austria

  1. There were two security companies hired, one for outside the arena and one for inside the arena. In addition to the arena staff itself. None of these three entities talked to one another. Nor were they prepared for the madness and aggression of ESC fans.
  2. The security companies and the staff refused to listen to the experienced fans that offered suggestions for how to make things run smoothly for the standing areas. The Danes developed a good system that was fair and articulated (it took four days, but it still got developed). The outside security took five days before they even started paying much attention to the queue and did little to control things once the gate opened. Not only that, the indoor security crew targeted those of us who were not white, often holding us back unnecessarily and preventing us from progressing forward.
  3. Those with fan accreditation not only got to queue inside with snacks, but they were let into the standing area before the arena opened for everyone who was queuing outside. I understand that fan accreditation comes with perks, but this is totally unfair to those of us waiting in the cold (and rain) to enter the arena. Why not have a specific seating section reserved for accredited fans. If they would rather stand, than they need to queue like everybody else.

SwedenMy hope for the fan experience is that SVT builds upon the experiences of previous hosts and have an orderly, communicated plan of action for admitting those in the standing zone into the arena in a fair and safe way. Not only that, all security and ushering teams need to be in communication and on the same page with one another. Not only that, but SVT needs to communicate that ESC fans are on the same level of aggression and energy as any sports match or other major event. That, more than anything, seemed to be the issue in Vienna, the security was completely unprepared for the number and aggression of the ESC fans. The racial discrimination I and others faced was also a major problem, but there’s not much SVT can do about that other than diviersity training ahead of the event (which would be a great idea).

What are your hopes for this year’s Contest?

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