Radio Surprise

I'm sitting here minding my own business while listening to Radio Stockholm when suddenly my favourite Siw Malmkvist pops up on the air for an interview. Hadn't realised she will take part in the new Saturday entertainment show on TV4 starting tonight. And minutes later my ears start spinning when I hear the intro of "Divine" being played. Hurrah! Could the French entry become a hit in Sweden prior to the contest? Has this ever happened before at all? A non-scandinavian song getting airplay on Swedish radio this early on?


Nina's song of the day 3

Happy Easter everyone!

One of my favourite national finals songs was playing in my iPod today and I thought I'd share. Didn't really think that I would find it on youtube but I did. Hurrah! Then I listened to the live version and almost started crying. What a total waste of time not finding a real singer for this ABBA-ripoff that is splendid in its own way. The studio version that I have sound more ABBA than ABBA ever did themselves and Ronnie is in tune for the whole 3 minutes. The magic of technology hey!

So when you click that arrow please imagine how good this song could be (and is!) in a studio version without the hysterical strutting from Ronnie.

I give you "Lonely Nights" sung by Ronnie France from British national final A Song For Europe way back in 1978. This could have been a classic but is not for obvious reasons.


Previews for mortals

For all of us who are only ESC-mortals and don't have the previews on dvd all hope is not lost. We can at least watch the videos on www.eurovision.tv until Mr. Becks has made us all copies. ;-) So far I've just seen Spain and France but had to stop and tell you how fantastic the French song and preview clip is. Love it!


Preview day

Today is the day when Mr Becks reieves the official preview feed from the EBU, so I can study all the entries before we shoot the Swedish preview shows.

Ah, miss Posh, if you had still been here, we could eat something unhealthy and watch them all and cheer for the good and throw popcorn at the bad.

I am not really saying this make anyone jealous or so, just to assure you that there will be some sort of reaction coming your way soon. Some of the previews, that I already saw on YouTube, look really good. Croatia, Switzerland, Netherlands and Romania all made very good clips, that enhanced their entries further.

Way to go.

Hugo Claus

The Belgian poet Hugo Claus has died, according to newspaper reports. At this time it feels right to point out that Mr Claus was not only a great poet, but also a man who made an entire national ESC selection go belly-up once.

Sort of.

After the 1983 fiasco, where the booing of the audience almost made it impossible to reprise the winning song, Flemish television decided to abolish the national final of 1985 and select a song internally instead. They still wanted some kind of competition and appointed a composer and a performer, opera singer Mireille Capelle, but invited several authors to write lyrics. BRT made a list of eligible lyricists and the hunt for words was on.

However, without being on the list, Hugo Claus submitted a lyric, and Mireille Chapelle, possibly sensing the scoop, decided to refuse to sing any other version of the song. The Claus way or the highway.

The highway, decided BRT, clearly annoyed by the tampering of the rules. They abandonded the entire project, dropped everyone involved and had two co-workers write a song with very short notice instead. "Laat me nu gaan", the replacement song, placed last in Gothenburg, and in 1987, the Flemish national final was back on track again.

Rest in peace, Hugo Claus.

Linda Lepomme - Laat me nu gaan - Belgium 1985


Lucky #2

Swedish newspapers are slowly beginning to realise that Charlotte Perrelli's number two slot in the running order is far from a good place to be. Christer Björkman, from the Swedish delegation, pointed out that no song ever won ESC from a #2 starting position and now the newspapers cry. It is all over, there is no hope and we could just as well send in Céline Dion to sing "My Heart Will Go On" as the Swedish ship is sinking.

Again, they are rather short on analysis. It is true that no #2 ever won the contest, but the semi final is not about coming out on top. It is a question of ending up among the top ten, and that is more than possible from a #2 spot.

And in the final, there is no risk of Charlotte ending up singing in second position. The UK has already secured that unlucky spot for themselves.

But here are quite a few songs that made top ten despite singing as #2:

Michèle Torr - Une petite française - Monaco 1977

Sophie Carle - 100 % d'amour - Luxembourg 1984

Sonja Lumme - Eläköön elämä - Finland 1985

Gina G - Ooh... Aah... Just A Little Bit - United Kingdom 1996

Sebnem Paker & Ethnic - Dinle - Turkey 1997

Jessica Garlick - Come Back - UK 2002


The Draw!

Today, the running order was established by drawing of lots in Belgrade. Without further ado, this is the correct order:

Semi 1

1. Montenegro
2. Israel
3. Estonia
4. Moldova
5. San Marino
6. Belgium
7. Azerbaijan
8. Slovenia
9. Norway
10. Poland
11. Ireland
12. Andorra
13. Bosnia-Herzegovina
14. Armenia
15. Netherlands
16. Finland
17. Romania
18. Russia
19. Greece

Semi 2:

1. Iceland
2. Sweden
3. Turkey
4. Ukraine
5. Lithuania
6. Albania
7. Switzerland
8. Czech Republic
9. Belarus
10. Latvia
11. Croatia
12. Bulgaria
13. Denmark
14. Georgia
15. Hungary
16. Malta
17. Cyprus
18. FYR Macedonia
19. Portugal

In the final:

2. United Kingdom
4. Germany
19. France
22. Spain
23. Serbia

Quick remark: Three countries per semi were drawn and got to select their own slot in the running order. Azerbaijan was selected and chose to be #7. Hello? Seven? How new are you in this game?

Sad #2: Israel, Sweden and UK. Gaah. Charlotte is number two? But it doesn't matter, she will break the spell. Israel, however, will probably remain in the semi thanks to this. And UK is #2 for the third time in only six years. What did they do to enrage the gods?

Congratulations: Portugal. An excellent draw has most probably secured them their first appearance in a final since 2003.

MF analysis

No report from me yesterday, but here goes. I suppose I don't even have to appreciate just how pleased I was with the outcome, on more levels than one. The show looked good, even if Kristian Luuk seemed a tiny bit less comfortable than usual. Most people are already demanding a third consecutive year with him as presenter, but I am not sure. I like variation and I don't want any more Wogans - I would hate it if people started thinking that MF is impossible without Luuk.

It isn't. But it is very entertaining with him, I must admit.

As for the results, let me start from the back. Frida and Christer Sjögren got what they deserved. In this line-up, neither of them stood out as particularly brilliant (not that I thought they did in the first place, but still) and most people realised they wouldn't make a great choice for Belgrade. The same goes for Nordman. The jury did an excellent job here to hold the three of them down. Except for the jury in Malmö, who absolutely had to favour any entry from Scania. Hiss and boo.

Amy Diamond did better than I expected her to, but she was lucky enough to get small points from almost all the juries. Sibel also had to rely on the juries, since all the ballad votes went to Sanna, as expected. The big surprise in the televoting was the second last place of Linda Bengtzing. Usually it is the juries that hold Linda back, but this year the people told her no. Still, she was ungracious enough to talk badly of the jurors in the newspapers afterwards. Without them, she would have been the mega flop of the year.

Rongedal fourth, why not? BWO third, and I would have seen them like more of a contender. And then, the two darlings on top. Last time we had the jury favourite beat the televote winner, there was a public outburst and for a while it looked like the people would burn the Globe down. This time around, it has been a lot less vocal.

Probably because it gave us two winner instead of one this time. Charlotte goes to Belgrade, where she is very likely to do very well, and Sanna won the hearts of Sweden and will finally become the star she also wanted to be.

There is nothing quite like a happy ending.


East vs West

We now have all the 43 entries for Eurovision Song Contest 2008 ready. Sweden will no doubt run through the semi final and then get a good placing on the scoreboard in the final. Of that I am sure. But. And this is a big but. One problem spells the Ukraine. The beautiful Ani Lorak could very well be Ms Perrelli's biggest obstical to the Eurovision throne.

The songs are fairly similar in style.
They have a dance rutine.
They are both sung by female vocalists.
The vocalists are both beautiful.
They have almost the same kind of dress on (Verka certainly set a trend last year, hehe).
They can both sing live.
The words "hero" and "staying alive" shows up in both lyrics.

So I'm worried that they will split the votes between them and end up lower than they deserve. Ani Lorak definitely has the look and is a big star on the Russian market. Charlotte on the other hand has a history in this contest with having won the whole thing in 1999 and will get extra publicity because of that. The nightmare scenario would be if they are drawn to sing head to head in the final.

My prediction is that the Ukraine will get the votes from Eastern Europe and Sweden will score well from the Western countries. May the battle begin!

This is exactly why I wanted BWO to represent Sweden. Their song doesn't have a sound-a-like in any of the other entries this year. Plus, they would definitely score well all over Europe...

Ukraine - Shady Lady - Ani Lorak

Sweden - Hero - Charlotte Perrelli

Perrelli wins

Magic show! Did my predictions come true or what? Charlotte, Sanna, BWO, Rongedal. In that order. I knew BWO wouldn't win but I voted 6 times for their song. Clearly the best. Couldn't believe the so-called expert jury who only rewarded it one set of 12 points. Shame on you! After Sanna had sung I said "oh my god....she will win it". Very close. She got the highest number of points in the televoting but Perrelli was in a big lead after the juries so she still won in the end.

Was surprised that the jury held Rongedal as their second favourite. And Bengtzing got high points from the fearful jury and nothing in the televote. Opposite of how it has been for her earlier years. What about the Skåne jury?? Sweden shall never again complain about Eastern Europe only voting for their own when they do the exact same thing within Sweden. Sibel and Frida are both from Skåne...

This is the final result:
1. Charlotte Perrelli 224p
2. Sanna Nielsen 206p
3. BWO 158p
4. Rongedal 142p
5. Linda Bengtzing 64p
6. Nordman 48p
7. Sibel 39p
8. Amy Diamond 36p
9. Christer Sjögren 23p
10. Frida feat. Headline 6p

Televoting result (actual televotes in brackets):
132p: Sanna (449.419)
110p: Perrelli (397.907)
88p: BWO (320.741)
66p: Rongedal (273.521)
44p: Nordman (233.467)
22p: Sjögren (228.674)
11p: Amy D (188.872)
Sibel (120.587)
Bengtzing (115.321)
Frida (81.691)

(voting figures taken from Tobbe Ek's schlagerblog)


MF according to Becks

The last national final of the year could very well be the most important one as well. If there is a happy ending in Stockholm tonight, Sweden will select the eventual winner for Belgrade and, like in the best school books, there is not necessarily just one answer. Many different possibilities could be right. And some could be really, really wrong.

This is the prediction of Mr Becks:

It can not come as news to anyone who read this blog regularly that this is my top tip for victory both in Sweden and in the ESC. I can, simply, not believe just how effective, brilliant and totally captivating this song is in all its simplicity. And Charlotte delivers like the born professional she is. The choreography à la Israel in the 80's also adds a lot, like the special effect and the brilliant laser beams. All in all, the perfect package.
Chances in Belgrade: Huge. A strong contender for victory, and no way in heaven or on earth will this song place lower than third.

2. SIBEL - That Is Where I'll Go 3/5
Sibel is as sweet as candy and she has a very powerful voice in addition to a very unique kind of charisma. Her only problem tonight is the battle for the ballad vote, where she is up against a very strong contender in Sanna. As the latter is a more established household name after all, I think Sibel will be on the losing end. But nothing is lost, as Miss Redzep got a lot of publicity for her new album this way.
Chances in Belgrade: Not bad but not brilliant either. Poland and Hungary could very well complicate the life of any big ballad of this kind.

3. RONGEDAL - Just A Minute 3/5
In theory, one of the biggest surprises of the year, but the Rongedal brothers have made a splash in various TV shows and have a big audience that would cheer them on whatever they did. I am still not totally convinced by their song, but smitten with their enthusiasm. Good enough for a fifth place or so, but I don't think the juries will swallow this with hook and crook.
Chances in Belgrade: Could be a surprise as all unexpected acts with talent, but could also be seen as one joke too many and flop badly.

4. LINDA BENGTZING - Hur svårt kan det va'? 4/5
Linda looks like a winner in theory as she has a very strong song, with a mix of every bombastic schlager written since the battle of Waterloo (the one in Brighton, of course) sprinkled with a bit (too much) of Mika's worldwide hits. But then there are a few things working against her: her own ability of doing too much when she should do less, the old reluctancy of the juries and the people to vote for her in the end as well as the fact that this song is so obviously constructed for domestic consumption in Sweden. It would have made a sensational ESC entry in 1986, but the world moved on since and the Swedes are not completely unaware of this.
Chances in Belgrade: Slim. It would make it into the final, but would probably be too local to make it big there.

5. CHRISTER SJÖGREN - I Love Europe 1/5
Fun fun fun with flags and a universal phrasebook, crazy enough for the Swedes to send it straight to the Globe. But this is where the fun ends. Because a closer examination of the entry shows that the melody in itself is really nothing. A sad sketch of a song that wouldn't even make it into the top ten of the Deutsche Schlagerfestspiele back in 1964. A great way for Christer to expose himself and his upcoming hit-sampler, but nothing to send off to an international competition.
Chances in Belgrade: None, what-so-ever. The people of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Slovenia are not so simple that they vote for a song just because somebody has their flag sewn on a skirt. Maybe it could steal a vote or two from the silly Irish turkey, but that would be all.

6. AMY DIAMOND - Thank You 2/5
The crashing satellite of the year. This song was clearly the strongest contender out of the first semi, but since then stronger names have lined up all over the place and Amy's little ditty feels a bit empty and tired. If you find an old single by A*Teens that you never knew about, it would give you the same feeling: ah, yes, this is what pop sounded like a few years ago. Amy shouldn't cry, as the history book shows that not everyone benefits from winning Melodifestivalen at the age of 16.
Chances in Belgrade: No better nor worse than anyone else doing this kind of pop this year, but there are a few already. Not that it matters, Amy won't get close to winning MF tonight.

7. SANNA NIELSEN - Empty Room 5/5
BIG ballad with capital letters, owing quite a lot to quite a few Celine Dion belters, especially "Think Twice". Sanna takes her big step out into the real limelight, and will hopefully forever leave the image of young, happy, schlager-Sanna behind her for good and move on with real pop material with chart success. We all knew she had the talent, but the amount of life and emotion she blows into this song is nothing short of breathtaking.
Chances in Belgrade: A possible winner. At least, the other countries with big ballads should fear Sanna tonight and wish her a second place instead.

8. NORDMAN - I lågornas sken 1/5
No, no, Nordman. Take your witches and go. I don't understand what pushes anyone in the year of 2008 to make a song about the burning of witches, and then convince Nordman, who doesn't really suit the song in the first place, to perform it. The special effect looks cool, and the chorus is efficient. But this song is just here to fill some space in the running order.
Chances in Belgrade: You never know, do you? But I would think none.

9. FRIDA FEAT HEADLINE - Upp och hoppa 1/5
Scanian hiphop-salsa, and apparently I am the dull one who doesn't get this at all. It seems this is very happy and nice, and maybe it is. But cows are nice too, and you don't send them to Eurovision. For me, in my boring ageing state, this is null and nothing, and I think the juries will be with me on this one. But there could be a few happy votes from the televoting.
Chances in Belgrade: Need I remind you? If Malta or FYR Macedonia sends something like this, the Swedes would laugh their heads off. Remember that before voting.

10. BWO - Lay Your Love On Me 5/5
Not a bad idea, perhaps. The song is fantastic in its own right and Martin is giving it all he's got. But will BWO have the radiation needed to win through in the end? I still think Alexander Bard scares people off enough to secure BWO a second runner-up position. A big hit whatever the outcome is, and the group said themselves they prefer credibility to a victory if the two can't be combined.
Chances in Belgrade: A possible winner if BWO keeps control of their own machinery. A motor mouth like Mr Bard could do a lot of good, but could also anger a few people out there. But the song and the package are top class.

My prediction:

10. Amy Diamond
9. Frida
8. Nordman
7. Christer Sjögren
6. Sibel
5. Rongedal
4. Linda Bengtzing
3. Sanna Nielsen
2. BWO
1. Charlotte Perrelli

I also think Charlotte will be a runaway winner with top marks from both jury and televote. Amy will not be last because she is the worst (she is clearly not) but she is the only one who is likely not to be anyone's real favourite.

My predictions are often a bit shaky, but I hope and believe in this. And if anyone that does not belong to my top four wins, I will sell my passport. Again.

Melodifestivalen tonight

The day is finally here when we will have the complete line up for ESC ready. All 43 entries. And Melodifestivalen is the toughest choice of them all. I can't think of any national final this year that would have had such a strong bunch of songs to vote for. Let the excitement begin!

1. "Hero" Charlotte Perrelli +++++
What a star! What a hero! I keep on singing the chorus inside my head over and over several times a day. A good sign. Every poll ever made is stating that this is the winner. I would certainly not mind. Schlagertastic!

2. "That is where I'll go" Sibel ++++
Sibel is sweet as sugar and has grown to be one of the top best vocalists in Sweden today. Her Celine-ballad is more complicated to sing than "Empty room" but she fails on the charisma and familiarity Sanna has. Mid-table is not bad in this superfinal.

3. "Just a minute" Rongedal +++
It's not until I hear it that I remember how good this is and how bubbly it makes me feel. It seems it's not only me it has the same effect on. The tabloids are whispering about "skräll"-warning. Could very well be the surprise of the evening but probably not higher than bronze. My tip is 4th.

4. "Hur svårt kan det va?" Linda Bengtzing +++
Linda could warm up a thousand households with that electricity she produces on stage. But it won't be enough to rig the voting. The jury is always against her and when it comes down to the final people usually go for the more polished songs that could work around Europe. But thanks for the old-skool-schlager Linda and keep stroking that cat!

5. "I love Europe" Christer Sjögren +
I get that you love Europe Christer but the question is would Europe love you enough to vote for your Lederhosen-Vegas-retirement-strutting? Some people see this as a dark horse but I'm not worried. The jury will reward him a grand nil points and then it won't matter how many dansband-lovers call in. He won't come last though.

6. "Thank you" Amy Diamond ++
Amy will get the child-vote and there are plenty of youngsters demanding their parents to dial for this bouncy number. By no means a candidate for the Serbia-ticket as the song isn't strong enough, but Amy is dynamite and will come back in five years and turn into the new Sanna and win it.

7. "Empty room" Sanna Nielsen +++++
The feeling! The presence! The voice! The lyrics! The melody! The juries will love it and the Swedes already love it. Just maybe enough to go all the way. I won't be surprised if it happens. Guaranteed nothing lower than 2nd place.

8. "I lågornas sken" Nordman +
Nordman's only function in Globen is to gloat over having beaten Carola to the spot. I don't think people will vote for it now when it is serious business going on. No matter how real the witch-burning on stage looks.

9. "Upp o hoppa" Frida feat. Headline ++
Frida won't charm the jury and I doubt the Swedes will go crazy for this once again when the choice stands between more known and loved acts. The standard in Globen is too high and Frida should feel lucky if she can brag about something better than a last place in this league.

10. "Lay your love on me" BWO +++++
This number is the one I'll dial at least 3 times tonight. Not only because Alexander Bard has turned into my idol for his outspoken, honest and arrogant attitude but because this is the song that I love the most. The whole act with the clothes and everything helps. But the song is pure pop and would walk it in Belgrade. Big shame that it will never happen since BWO will come 3rd after Perrelli and Nielsen when the voters have had their say.

Lili & Susie revival

Tonight, as a fragment of their biggest hit could very well win MF, it is time to direct the spotlight onto an older MF act that could do with a bit of a revival these days. The Päivärinta sisters, Lili & Susie, were by far the biggest dance act in Sweden during the late 80's and early 90's, defending the Italo disco on every given moment.

They danced, the sang, and they were accused of overthrowing one hundred years of female liberation in only three minutes. And in 1989, they were talked into doing MF, against their own will, with the song "Okej Okej". It ended in 5th place, didn't really turn into any major hit, but didn't do their career any damage either.

The sisters scored their last major hit in 1992, when the tides had turned and their musical genre slowly died out. But their output was good, and they should not be forgotten.

And now BWO have snatched a piece of their hit single "Oh Mama" and included it in "Lay Your Love On Me", which is quite OK since Alexander Bard co-wrote most of their hits. Maybe that could be a way of winning MF, or maybe it could spark a Lili & Susie revival. That would be about time, if you ask me. Bring us an extensive hit sampler with the sisters. Now.

Lili & Susie - Oh Mama
(backing dancer Ankie Bagger was in the backing group for Sweden 1989)

Lili & Susie - Okej Okej - Sweden NF 1989

Lili & Susie - Okay Okay - English version

Lili & Susie - Boyfriend

Lili & Susie - Robert and Marie


Posh on the air

Local radio station P4 Västmanland called me up this morning to talk about Sweden's chances in Eurovision this year. It's fun being a Eurovision expert. There's a certain thrill doing live broadcasts for radio. A friendly conversation between two (or three) people but with the twist of having hundreds of thousands potential eavesdroppers. At least I got a text message from my grandparents stating that I had been really good. Bless!

If you want to find out what we were talking about you can listen to the archive for 30 days by clicking HERE. My part starts after 13 minutes.


My Dream 10

Melodifestivalen is getting closer by the minute and I will blog about predictions and stuff tomorrow. But now let's play a little game called "My Dream 10". If SVT hadn't bothered with letting the general public get involved in the voting and had just called me up instead the line up in Globen would look something like this...

From semi 1: Velvet & Suzzie Tapper
semi 2: Sanna & Rongedal
semi 3: BWO & Patrik Isaksson
semi 4: Charlotte Perrelli & Sibel
From my own Andra Chansen: Androla & Linda Bengtzing

6 out of 10 is not bad but let's face it... my taste is better than yours! ;-)

Wow, Bosnia!

For the third year running, Bosnia-Herzegovina selected their entry internally and after two traditional (but good) ballad efforts, bosnian television has opted for something different.

In fact, something very different.

More than one person have described the chosen entry as more of an installation of conceptual art rather than a eurosong. I won't disagree on that one. And just like modern art, it is not really a question about trying to understanding what the whole deal is about. You just have to decide whether you like it or not. It won't come to you automatically.

I'm not just liking it, I am wild about it. To me, it is an entire rock opera squeezed into three minutes, very reminiscent of the more ambitious rock groups of the late 60's. I love it and wish them well. But I demand that the mad backing singer is present in Belgrade. As for the peasants and the chicken, I don't really mind as much.

Laka - Pokusaj - Bosnia-Herzegovina 2008

Sirusho moving on up

Armenia let Sirusho make a video clip for her entry "Qele Qele", and they kept it simple, easy and effective. Very nice indeed.

On the total, Armenia is rushing up my personal chart and I am beginning to think Sirusho could go really far. It feels like she is doing the old Helena Paparizou-gig but with a new and fresh twist.

I also must admit that I know absolutely nothing about how far womens-lib came in Armenia or anything, but I feel there is a statement in the air when Iran's neighbour country is represented by a song about a dancefloor flirt with female initiative. Way to go!

The question is if the voters favouring this genre will be enough to reward both Armenia and Greece, who are largely doing the same thing this year. Never mind, that is a problem for the final, not for now.

Sirusho - Qele Qele - Armenia 2008


Sammarinese electronica

The second last country to reveal their choice for Belgrade is newcomer San Marino, and it must be said that what they lack in size, they make up for in courage. I must admit I feared the worst when some of the names that sent in songs for consideration were named. I wasn't too thrilled at the thought of some Swedish, Greek or Slovenian wannabe representing San Marino, where would the point in that be?

Ever since Sammarinese television announced their participation, I had hoped for a big Italian star to do the honours for them, to show the Italian record labels that Eurovision is an excellent vehicle for promotion that they can't afford to miss, but this final choice is not bad, and you will not hear me complaining.

The selected group is Miodio, a mix of pop and electronica with a touch of punk, like a synthesized version of last year's Andorran entry. The band name translates as something as uplifting as "I hate myself" (mi odio), but some people have read it out like Mio Dio instead. But that is wrong.

The selected entry has not been made public as yet, but I hope they have time to record something ressembling a preview clip before next week's meeting of the Heads of Delegation.

Welcome, San Marino, we like you a lot already.


Three more songs

The line-up for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest is almost complete as three more countries selected their entries last night.

I followed the national final of Russia streamed over the internet, as that one seemed the most interesting to me. Impeccably produced, and with an impressive variety of singers and styles, it can't be denied that 27 songs in one evening is a bit much. However, the professional jury and the televoters agreed completely that Dima Bilan should have a second try after his second place back in 2006. The song is slick and well-produced (but is this version really produced by Timbaland? I exercise my right to be doubtful), but to my ears it sounds very similar to Georgia, but the Georgians have more of a hook in their chorus. By the general standards of 2008 not bad, but I had expected more from Russia. And from Dima.

Dima Bilan - Believing - Russia 2008

Last year, when Andrej Babic represented his third different country as composer, we all joked and wondered what country he would write for next year. Ah well, Portugal fell for it. "Senhora do Mar" is really Babic by the numbers, and it usually works well enough to make it into the final and then be 15th or so there. Which, of course, would be a great progress for Portugal, who has not made a top ten finish since the heyday of Lúcia Moniz back in 1996.

Vânia Fernandes - Senhora do Mar - Portugal 2008

And then there is Belgium... Let me state one thing very clearly here: I hate songs in made-up languages. Making up languages is a pastime of children, stoned poets and over-ambitious lingustic professors in the 19th century. What makes it so hard to find a suitable lyric in an existing language? It just makes the whole thing ridiculous to me. As for the song? Well, it would have been a Eurovision smash hit. Back in 1956. The ways of the Flemings are mysterious to me. And the worst thing? I could be wrong and everyone will love this. I pull my blanket over my head and ignore that possibility for the time being.

Ishtar - O julissi na jalini - Belgium 2008


Schlagertastic Night

I didn't have time to say anything about Andra Chansen before the competition but I was hoping for Sibel and Androla. It was a mega thriller to watch the show last night. I saw it together with a bunch of ESC-fans. We slightly disagreed on who should take the ticket between Sibel and Ola, but the real battle was of course the heat between Androla and Nordman. A lot of them spent money on protest votes against Carola whereas a few of us felt sorry for the former schlager queen when the result came in. Honestly, "One love" is heaps better than "I lågornas sken" as far as songs are concerned. We then all agreed that Suzzie Tapper deserved to win over Nordman and I voted several times for her. It did no good in the end but at least I gave my support.

A lot of other people voted too. Over 1.400.000 votes came in during the show. Almost 1.5 million votes! Unbelievable! I wonder if it can get higher in the final when Carola isn't there?

My evening continued in the stars of schlager when stuffing around to this year's (and old) songs in Club Lino. The dance remix of "Lay your love on me" is just great! But the highlight of the night was the live performance of Charlotte Perrelli singing "Hero" twice to the excited crowd. She was on top and everybody loved her to bits and promised to vote 10 times each for her next weekend. I might split my votes though and give half of them to BWO...

If you are in Sweden you can now buy the official Melodifestivalen 2008 CD in Statoil. If you are abroad or without money you can listen and see all the songs at svt.se instead. Click here to get to SVT Play directly.

Globen line up

Christer Björkman decided on the line up for Globen as soon as Andra Chansen was over. This is the order the songs will be performed on Saturday.

1. Hero - Charlotte Perrelli
2. That is where I'll go - Sibel
3. Just a minute - Rongedal
4. Hur svårt kan det va - Linda Bengtzing
5. I love Europe - Christer Sjögren
6. Thank you - Amy Diamond
7. Empty room - Sanna Nielsen
8. I lågornas sken - Nordman
9. Upp o hoppa - Frida feat. Headline
10. Lay your love on me - BWO

What a final it will be! And a thriller to the end no doubt. Will the Swedes again vote for a surprise winner as in the heats? Or will they (we) think "Eurovision" now and what would work well internationally? Only one thing is for sure and that is that Christer Björkman wants either Perrelli or BWO to win. Over the years it has been known that opening or closing the final is a good thing.

Three more songs

Three countries held their national finals last night, and the outcome was somewhat varied.

Armenia managed to come up with by far the strongest contender out of these three. Domestic popstar Sirusho sang four songs in a national final that had to be staged in a tv-studio instead of in a theatre, due to the current political tension in the country. Out of the four songs, "Qele Qele" scored more than 86 % of the televotes, and that can't be described as anything less than impressive. The song is quite impressive in its own right as well, a happy, dancy little tune with ethnic undertones. A stronger version of Armenia's debut entry from 2006 if you so wish, and the catchy chorus in combination with one of the biggest and most active diaspora's in the world, there is no doubt in my mind that Armenia will be in the final. And rightly so - that is where Sirusho belongs.

Sirusho - Qele Qele - Armenia 2008

It seems a bit ironic that the national final in Spain carries the name "Salvémos Eurovisión" (Let's save Eurovision) when the winner has set out to do exactly the opposite. The winner is a silly little parody of... ehm... something, I am not really sure what. It could, if you feel nice and good at heart, be described as catchy and a distant cousin to some of the output of Manu Chau, but without any hint of warmth or humour. I don't think I ever saw a "humourous" ESC-entry that felt this cynical and constructed. But there is one really good thing about it: it is short.

Rodolfo Chikilicuatre - Baila el Chiki Chiki - Spain 2008

And then there is always Montenegro, whose only way was up after last year's complete crash and burn fiasco of Stevan Faddy. They bought a song from Grigor Koprov, one of the most loved composers of FYR Macedonia, having penned among other songs the FYR Macedonian entries of 1998 and 2007. I have a feeling that the old maestro may have seen Montenegro's request as easy money, since he didn't quite invest his complete soul in this new song. Stefan Filipovic seems to be nowhere near as full of himself as young Master Faddy, but it is always an alarming sign when a singer can't be bothered to learn how to mime his song properly before presenting it. Not great, not bad, only very dull. A song that will come and pass without anyone really noticing it. What a shame. I thought so much more of you, Montenegro.

Stefan Filipovic - Zauvijek volim te - Montenegro 2008


MF tonight

This is what will happen in Andra Chansen tonight:

Sibel will beat E-Type & The Poodles
Ola will beat Caracola
Androla will beat Nordman
Thérèse will beat Suzzie

Let's just hope they won't beat each other too hard, we don't want blood on our screens.

Then the final battles will be won by Androla and - I think - Sibel. It is a delicate situation to have Ola against Sibel, since they fought it out in the past in Idol, and I may be really wrong here. But I think voice will win over charm. Sibel it is, but maybe I would prefer Ola.

Androla and Sibel to the Globe, and a final that could very well be the strongest ever through MF-history.

Hind moving on up

The Dutch entry was presented last night, and to be really honest and upfront about it - the last Dutch entries have all been a very sad and tedious bunch.

I wonder what happened to one of the best and most innovative Eurovision countries, that used to come up with loads of fun entries through the years without ever giving up due to low placings. How did they turn into this eternal flop that keeps sending unbelievably flat and boring songs, only to weep and sob after their obvious failure, blaming others (the East) for their lack of success.

Seriously, I have not liked one single Dutch entry since Linda leapt out of her giant dress back in 2000. But somehow I never give up on the Dutch and keep my fingers crossed every year.

I must say that I am relatively pleased with this year's entry by Hind. Maybe not a winner, but at least this is a song with a chorus you can hang on to. I also think it will sound better with a polished background and no half-hearted live band involved.

I hope Hind makes it to the final, if that would ensure more quality from the Netherlands in the years to come. Windmills, clogs and tulips are not enough - we need choruses as well.

Hind - Your Heart Belongs To Me - Netherlands 2008


Victory for France!

France3 wanted to bring something new and surprising to Eurovision. I have heard that old song before, only to be severely let down. Every time France pretends to have a big name in the sack, it turns out to be some old almost-star a hundred years ago who wrote like the lyrics and then that was it.

My initial response to the name Sébastien Tellier was: who? I never heard that name before. Another let-down?

I would not think so. Tellier has worked with several dance producers and his eurosong is co-produced by Daft Punk. His current album is at #2 in the French album charts. Wow!

Even better - the song is as far removed from the original Eurovision frame as possible. It is entirely in English and is most untraditional in it's build-up and composition, which will, of course, make it a favourite hate target for the traditional eurofans.

Something that just makes me like it a lot more. It is more than possible that this is not the way to spell Eurovision victory in 2008, but I hope this will carry far. With it's mix of dance pop and Beatles-esque twists and turns, this could be a major radio hit and I always welcome songs like those with open arms.

Hit or miss, but this year I love you, France. Great work!

Sébastien Tellier - Divine - France 2008

No Angels

I am pleased with the outcome of yesterday's German final, and I am quite convinced there will be more votes coming in this time than recently. No Angels feel like a glossy magazine set to music - like a mix between Desperate Housewives and a Spice Girls' revival.

I also find the song captivating and the vocals are good, despite what more than one bitterly disappointed eurofan has commented since the results came in.

Modern and good-looking, that suits you, Germany!

No Angels - Disappear - Germany 2008

Eurovision in Romanian

Posh & Becks recieved a greeting from another Eurosite that deserves some pushing. Ciocip is yet another one of these enthusiastic young eurofans, and he has a very nice blog, albeit being exclusively in Romanian. But he also has a very nice picture gallery from the Romanian final (where you will see what Dida Dragan looks like these days), and with some imagination you will get quite a lot of info out of the texts as well.

Check out his site here.



It is really about time that Germany broke through and won this contest again. It has been a breathtaking 26 years since Nicole serenaded peace and subsequently crushed everyone absolutely flat in Harrogate.

I really thought Germany was in with a chance last year, and thought Roger Cicero would be cemented in top five at least in Helsinki. I was oh-so-wrong, and the German swing crashed and burned at 19th place. Not that it mattered - it gave loads of publicity to Roger and gave his career further fuel. The low placing was soon forgotten.

And it seems German television keep playing the game, as they have lined up five hopefuls to take on the honour of representing the bigger record industry in Europe in the ESC.

It is remarkable how often Europe snubbed Germany at Eurovision, considering the open arms german products were greeted with outside the contest. I would hate to think it is still old politics that would be the root of it? Surely not.

Anyway, a victory for Germany would do a lot of good. It would give a well-needed injection for Eurovision on the enormous German market and that could never hurt anyone. And the best bets to ensure German success would be, according to me, Cinema Bizarre and No Angels. Either of them will do nicely. Germany selects tonight. I keep my fingers tightly crossed for them to do the right thing.

Cinema Bizarre - Forever Or Never - Germany 2008 NF

No Angels - Disappear - Germany 2008 NF

Belarus goes Vesna

After some deep deliberation, the Belarus delegation has decided to re-style the musical arrangement of their entry for Belgrade. "Hasta la vista" stays the same, but the sound changed from pop to rock.

Is anyone else old enough to remember that Croatia did the same back in 2002, when Vesna Pisarovic saw her entry turn from solid pop hit into a dull pseudo rock number, as exciting as headache and only moderately successful at the ESC.

Belarus can do whatever they please, but I am not sure this was the way to go.

Vesna Pisarovic - Sasvim sigurna - Croatia 2002 NF

Vesna Pisarovic - Everything I Want - Croatia 2002

Ruslan Alehno - Hasta La Vista - Belarus 2008
New version - thanks to ESC Today


Ireland can be fun

There is still too much focus on that silly plastic bird in the media. Annoying is what it is, and to counterbalancing the whole matter a bit, let me show you a clip of when Ireland were fun for real.

The Duskeys are adorable - they sing, they dance and the boy sing along with the lyrics designed for girls-only, and these silvery outfits are almost as striking as the yellow tight suits they used in Harrogate.

Long live the Duskeys!

The Duskeys - Here Today, Gone Tomorrow - Ireland 1982


It's got to be Charlotte

I am so smitten - "Hero" is the best one this year. I just love it. And I can't get enough of it. I just have to hear it over and over on repeat. It has everything I love about Eurovision written all over it. (And it has the more than fabulous Anna Nordell aka Anorah on backing vocals - always an advantage!)

There is no use in posting any YouTube-link on it, because it will disappear anyway, but I am reaching out to everyone in the Kingdom of Sweden. Give Charlotte a second shot at Eurovision, and you will be greatly rewarded.

By having a Song Contest in a Globe near you in 2009.

Could it be happiness

I just need to specify another thing: Belgium has never selected the song I would have wanted them to for as long as I have followed their selections. Belgium has had many fabulous songs through the years.

And this is the best one.

Ann Christy - Gelukkig zijn/Could it be happiness - Belgium 1975

Belgium at its best

Just have to share some real Belgian candy - one of the best songs ever to feature in a Flemish selection and Lisa del Bo's big moment: wonderful "Vlinder" from 1993, a song that could have made a contender out of Belgium.

Did it win?

Of course not. The Flemings went for a sopoforic lullaby instead. Just the way they are bound to this year as well.

Lisa del Bo - Vlinder - Belgium NF 1993

Kiss of death

I know what always happens - me and Belgium can never agree on anything. Not once did they select the songs I hoped for, and here we go again. I am sorry for doing this to you, Sandrine, but...

Sandrine is the only hope for Belgium to do anything that will catch anybody's attention come Eurovision. It may not be the most convincing song ever written, but the production is great and it sounds marvellous! Somewhere in the same musical landscape that also Norway keeps trecking through this year, Belgium could actually have a shot at the top ten this year.

But I am afraid that the dear Flemings will go for a sopoforic lullaby in baby language instead. Well - their loss.

Sandrine - I Feel The Same Way - Belgium NF 2008


Euroviisut - Wrong decision

Booooring! I have no interest whatsoever in Teräsbetoni. Can't see the rest of Europe disagreeing with me on that either. Did the Finns even for a minute think of what the best choice for ESC would be? Heavy rock is big in Finland. True. But in schlager-lala-land that is Eurovision? Whatever. Their loss! I'm glad that I moved from Helsinki at the right time to become a proud Swede again. Tried to convince Becks to do the same last night over the phone. Please come home! ;-)

Kari Tapio came ridiculously close to win a trip to the Balkans. Scary thought. We have enough old men from Croatia to keep us company this year. So kiitos for the little things Suomi!

My big favourite Cristal Snow did surprisingly well. Thought he would be too weird and different to reach 3rd place in dear old Finland. This was the only song in the final that could have worked on international ground if you ask me. Risky and daring. Just what Finland would have needed the year after hosting the event to show Europe that they are still a country to keep track of.

Cristal Snow - "Can't Save Me"

He looks just like Laura Voutilainen! Don't you agree?! And wohoo he already made a video for the song. Impressive! Foolish, foolish Finland for not picking this!

Eurovision - Your decision

Thanks to the wonderful invention of satellite TV I could watch the British selection last night. I had of course heard the songs in studio versions prior to that and had already made my decision. The winner turned out to be my second favourite of the lot. At best it will reach mid-table in ESC but at least Andy can sing and it's a real song. Even if it is a bit too close to the effort from Belgium last year...

So well done UK! It was a better choice than runner up Michelle who was shouting her way through her repetitive song. However, my fave by far yesterday was "It's You" by girl group The Revelations. That one could have turned the tables around for the poor old UK in Eurovision.

The Revelations - "It's You"

Heavy, Finland

Just as I thought, Teräsbetoni won the finnish final. The surprise was the slim margin to Kari Tapio as well as the fact that somebody as outlandish as Cristal Snow would stand a chance in a Finnish televote.

So, for the third consecutive year, Finland goes rock and everyone in the hall was overjoyed last night. That is great, then. If Finland is happy, I am happy.

But I suspect most european viewers will look at Teräsbetoni and see a pale, washed-out Lordi-copy. And then vote for somebody else. It is time to think new and daring. The way that Lordi were.

But it is nice to hear some Finnish back on the eurostage again, for the first time in ten years time.

Teräsbetoni - Missä miehet ratsastaa - Finland 2008

Peace will come with Georgia

Also Georgia selected the poor soul who will have to step up to the challenge of filling the rather large boots of Sopho Khalvashi. Not an easy task, ladies and gentlemen.

So let's give it to Diana Gurtskaya, who already tried her luck in last year's Belarusian final. When listening to this, I find myself humming "Wake up call" by Maroon 5 instead, but that may just be me.

Competent, but maybe not violently interesting. Best of luck to Georgia, anyway.

Diana Gurtskaya - Peace Will Come - Georgia 2008


In Europe, one of my favourite places is Riga. It is a fantastic city that I love and cherish for many various reasons, and I always have a blast when I go there. So, I love Latvians and most of the things they are up to.

Therefore, I always make an extra effort to like the Latvian entries for Eurovision as well. I really, really want to like them. And sometimes it is hard.

This year's ditty, for instance, is an annoyingly simple little singalong about pirates, not very unlike DJ Bobo's vampire fiasco for Switzerland last year. (And isn't it exactly the same song as the one that finished second in Iceland?) I get the same kind of irritation as I felt about Norway last year - if you get a song from abroad, get a good one. If you set out to flop, it is better to do it with a domestic product. Why promote bad songwriting from another country? I just don't get it.

But on the other hand - Latvia has an almost spooky way of making their entries work live. They make the most appalling things look good when it comes down to business. So these pirates could very well make it to the final.

But aren't there too many jokes already?

Pirates Of The Sea - Wolves Of The Sea - Latvia 2008

Royaume-Uni, trois points

"Eurovision: Your decision" last night resulted in the 2008 UK entry, and the winner is Andy Abraham and the soul-funk "Even If". The winner sounds a bit like some old track by LondonBeat, with Tom Jones as guest vocalist.

Not bad, and clearly a gigantic step in the right direction after the last few dire UK efforts. But still. This is a far cry from being a winner. But a 15th place is a lot better than second last, right?

Andy Abraham - Even If - UK 2008


Euroviisut 2008

Tonight, at Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki, the 2008 Finnish final will be held, in which the Finns by televote will determine who will fly the Finnish flag in the semi final on May 20th.

I really dug deep inside my soul to try and write something witty and positive about the finalists, but there is nothing. I am so sad to say this, but for the first time since the last ice age, I couldn't really give a toss about who wins in Finland.

I can't see any of these 12 songs in the running go through to the big final. You should never say never, and sometimes songs work surprisingly well once they end up in the final mix, that is true. But my enthusiasm is low. There are good singers, but their songs are really weak. All the songs sound like OK album tracks rather than promising hit singles.

Two songs could possibly do the trick with a bit of luck. Teräsbetoni could stand out a bit, since the songs of the first semi aren't the strongest, but there is a turkey and the Estonian goofheads to stel their thunder. Movetron could possibly fit into the seemingly popular retro 90's trend that seems to be going on. But I have my doubts.

However, sometimes all a country needs is a complete flop and quality meltdown. One serious flop can make a national broadcaster renew the entire selection procedure, and if there is anything Finland would need, then it is a complete change of formula. Maybe the low quality of Euroviisut is the first step towards better times?

So, I will pull myself together and make a prediction. I think the two songs going through from the Second Chance round will be Jenna and Crumbland or, if the Cristal Snow fans tune in as early as this, Ninja could be a surprise. But I doubt it.

The final ding-dong will go on between the three respective winners of the semi finals, or I would be very surprised. The top three will, thus, consist of Kari Tapio, Mikael Konttinen and Teräsbetoni. Kari and Mikael will split the schlager vote between them, Teräsbetoni will win, and Finland will promote heavy music for the third year running. Any chance that Europe is getting a wee bit tired of that?

Secret combination

For the last years, Greece has been one of the most successful countries in the ESC. After the final in Belgrade, Greece will continue being one of the most successful countries. Modern, engaging, danceable and catchy, "Secret combination" has the package needed to knock more than one televoter out.

What could possible work against a final in Athens 2009 is that quite a few people may find Kalomira's voice a bit too much on the squeaky side, but this will go far. Another top five wouldn't surprise me, anyway.

Kalomira - Secret Combination - Greece 2008

Melodifestivalen snippets, #4

I just want to point out that I deliberately didn't read the comments on the matter made by Miss Posh yet. You see, that is how professionals work. They don't compare before, they compare after. Take note of that.

60 seconds of each song is on display on SVT:s website and it really feels too little. It is so hard to make heads or tails of the songs, and you can't tell what will build and what will crumble to dust before the third minute is over.

But here goes. Here are my opinions:

NIKLAS STRÖMSTEDT - För många ord om kärlek
Something is very familiar here, some sounds from the 60's, and a very sympathetic approach. Niklas was a very big name some 15 years ago, and maybe this song can shake some life into his career and put him back into the radio playlists. But I would be most surprised if it was enough to give him a decent placing in this heat.

CALAISA - If I Could
Many people will love this, I mean absolute go to pieces over this. But I don't think there will be too many of them, and personally I don't experience anything to go wild about here. Some pleasant country pop, yes. But there is already pleasant country pop aplenty in the world. I don't see this as the song to make a big difference.

Whenever Velvet sings something like this, it will end in fifth place, and when Andreas Lundstedt does something similar it ends sixth. This ought to appeal to people, but again I just hear an energetic little dance tune like many others. Could score quite well, but in no way a winner.

LINDA BENGTZING - Hur svårt kan det va'?
The Grace Kelly-factor is so high it stands in my way and blocks the sun - it is heavily inspired both musically and lyrically and a bit too much for my liking. But the rest of the world won't bother. And the televotes will fall like raindrops over Linda. The first real contender of the night, probably.

NORDMAN - I lågornas sken
This is no way made for me. Medieval oompa-schlager-rock complete with the burning of a witch on-stage. I was never a fan of Sarek either, so I know this could very well be a winning recipy also in 2008. I just don't want it to be. And Nordman's way of singing, that felt really new and exciting in 1994, is just making my poor ears tired these days.

SIBEL - That is where I'll go
I really warmed to Sibel when she was in Idol (the same year as Måns, Ola, Danny, Agnes and quite a few others), so I know the girl can deliver. I also like the production of the song a lot, and Swedes often like powerful vocal chords in combination with good lung capacity. But there is already a Sanna there. The ballad factor could tip Sibel over, but she should make top three tonight anyway.

FRONDA - Ingen mår så bra som jag
This was the one that gave me flashbacks from Die Prinzen (but their song was a very minor hit in Sweden, so I guess it is just a co-incidence) and it does bring me into a good mood. If Frida could go far, so could Fronda. But hopefully not as far. Happy bagatelles have a tendency of annoying me as soon as they reach too high up in the ranking.

After the fiascos of Carola and Patrik Isaksson, some journalists already take pride in predicting a failure also for Charlotte. She wasn't that good at rehearsals, they write. I believe Charlotte to be a true professional, who will blow the others away when the competition starts for real. I would need to hear more to judge the song, but it does sound very promising. I love Charlotte, and I think the rest of Sweden will, too.

My prediction:

Charlotte Perrelli
Linda Bengtzing

Andra Chansen

5. Daniel Mitsogiannis
6. Niklas Strömstedt
7. Calaisa
8. Fronda

Maybe I would like to change places of Niklas and Nordman, if the sell-by-date for witch-burning has passed, which I sincerely hope it has. I won't see MF until tomorrow, as I will be at the Finnish final in Kulttuuritalo tonight, but there will be comments. And after tonight, it is time to start analysing Andra Chansen too...