Isa Molin – Scared Holding On To You

“The best pre-chorus I’ve heard in a long while.”

Tim: We’ve never featured this Isa before: she’s Swedish, this is her second track and it was written by her and former Eurovision star Robin Stjernberg. Have a listen.

Tom: Ooh, those dubstep-lite synths in the background are lovely. And when they drop out, they’re replaced by the best pre-chorus I’ve heard in a long while: I know I’m a sucker for that particular type of melody and chord progression, but it’s also done so well here.

Tim: Now it’s good you say that, because full disclosure: I got distracted a few seconds after pressing play on this, not because it was dull but because I found out tickets for Avengers: Endgame had just gone on sale, and the Cineworld website was very, very overloaded (but in the end I got a ticket for a midnight showing so THANK GOODNESS) but anyway it wasn’t until the second chorus that I was back paying attention to this.

Tom: Well, then you missed the good bits! Because I’m not sure about that chorus at all. What did you reckon, when you were back in the room?

Tim: I realised it was pretty good. Well, loud, and that’s often a decent basis to start, and then you throw in a decent melody, which you’re very much getting in the middle eight (and pre-chorus, it turned out, as I listened again).

Tom: See? That’s the best bit!

Tim: It really is. So in total yes, actually, it is pretty good. That sums it up nicely.

Ben Zucker – Wer sagt das?!

“Who say we can’t trust our luck, who says we can’t give it a go, who says anything?!”

Tim: Sit back and relax, because it’s HUSKY MALE GERMAN time. His first album was called Na und?! Sonne! (So what?! Sun!),and here’s the title track from his upcoming second, translated as Who Says That?! Do you think there’s a pattern emerging?!

Tom: I don’t know, maybe?!?! But it’s always a good sign when you send me a video from this channel, because it’s almost certainly some Quality Schlager.

Tom: The track record stands! And you’re right, that’s the sort of HUSKY MALE GERMAN vocals that don’t seem to work for any other country. And which always seem like they should be hurting his throat.

Tim: Upsettingly, the lyrics don’t involve him taking apart his ex’s rejection message line by line and pointing out nonsensical bits in it, or breaking up with someone because they’ve just started spewing rubbish, as both of those could be entertaining! Instead, it’s a heartwarming hopeful number – who say we can’t trust our luck, who says we can’t give it a go, who says anything?!

Tom: I mean, at least the words match the style for once.

Tim: But let’s move on from the lyrics, because that music’s great isn’t it?! Beefy, bolshy, rock with a slight dancey twist which I’m all here for!

Tom: Yeah, I genuinely like this, although I am worried about quite how much you’ve been infected by the enthusiastic punctuation marks. It’s catchy and memorable.

Tim: It’s unusual for me to get a foreign language track stuck in my head after just a couple of listens, but this has done it! And yes, I seem to be infected! Isn’t it worrying?!

Jessica Andersson – På dejt med mig

“I’m not sure doubling that key change would be legal, Tim.”

Tim: The first half second of this is reminiscent of her entry (as part of Fame) into Eurovision 2003, and it doesn’t disappoint after that.

Tom: Well, that’s straight out of the 80s, isn’t it?

Tim: LOVE a good bit of disco schlager – I mean. which normal person doesn’t? – and it’s nice to know that all the skills are still there.

Tom: Full marks for actually including a proper double-clap, and for — I’m fairly sure — ripping off a James Bond chord progression in the verse.

Tim: It’s not flawless – I’d happily lose twenty seconds of the rinse and repeat leading up to the middle eight, because it does get a tad tedious, and I’d at least double the level of that key change.

Tom: I’m not sure doubling that key change would be legal, Tim. It’s already audacious.

Tim: THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR MORE. But the genre is fabulous, they ramp up to said key change is excellent, and all in it’s a lovely listen.

Tom: I’m not sure I’d actually want this on a playlist, but I’m glad it exists.

Tim: Very glad indeed.

Dilba – Running Up That Hill

“You come at Kate Bush, you’d better not miss…”

Tim: You come at Kate Bush, you’d better not miss…

Tim: …and I don’t think she really does.

Tom: Okay, so I realise this is a big hole in my musical knowledge, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard the original of this. So to me, this sounds like a slightly-odd chilled-out dance track, and, well, we both know how I feel about that genre.

Tim: True. For those that have heard the original, though, the nice thing is that Dilba (Swedish, btw, been going 20-odd years now) has a fairly similar voice anyway, so if you weren’t really paying attention you could almost dismiss it as a remix. But it’d be a good remix, because it’s sounding all modern and everything, and a fair bit dancey but still the same gentle laid back loopiness of all the best Kate Bush songs.

Tom: Despite my dislike of the genre, there is a lot to like here. The synths that appear over the final chorus are great, in a sort of video-game-soundtrack kind of way. Yes, it is a good chorus. I went back and listened to the original, and, frankly, I prefer the modern version — but that’s because those weird keyboard sounds haven’t dated well.

Tim: Just a shame there’s no video, really, because oh boy, did Kate Bush do good videos.

SINNAH – Running Wild

“I remain completely unmoved by it!”

Tim: Here is a song where, in a break with tradition, I will be talking exclusively about the song.

Tom: Finally. This does, however, almost guarantee that I won’t like the music.

Tim: Because that chorus is just wonderful, and that’s mainly what caught my ear, with the beating drums and everything.

Tom: I remain completely unmoved by it! It’s OK, sure, but… you remember this obscure track, Lionheart, that we talked about years ago? They feel similar to me — but that was entirely pop, whereas this might be trying to be something more, and it’s not quite making it.

Tim: Hmm, ish, and I guess this could be trying for a bit of a dancier vibe, but that’s certainly no bad thing. That is still a top track, though.

Tom: I’ll grant you that, by the final chorus, I didn’t think this was bad. It just wasn’t spectacular either.

Tim: Thing is, after being attracted by that chorus, I’m listening to it again properly and the rest of it just strikes me as lovely as well. Particularly her vocals in that pre-chorus, gentle and melodic, and beautifully in contrast with what’s about to unfold. And that middle eight as well, all quiet and mild, and calm, and suddenly BANG in come the drums for the close. It’s fabulous, all of it.

Christopher – My Heart

“Warning: this is an exceptionally frustrating video.”

Tom: Bold choice to choose one of the most common first names in the world as your mononym, but sure.

Tim: Warning: this is an exceptionally frustrating video.

Tpm: I’m not sure it’s frustrating, just more ill-thought-out.

Tim: “Okay,” went my thought process, “we’ve got a reverse video, always a fun thing, particularly when they try to lip sync it, and we know he ends up dead, so what’s going to happen?” Except then it turns out that since you can’t exactly die from rolling down a sand dune it must have been just a metaphorical death, but hey, is that a wedding we’ve got coming up? That’ll be a decent climax. Except, no. He’s just waiting at the alter, gets given back the engagement ring and then think “welp, guess she’s ditched me, okay, bye everyone”. Like, what? Narratively that’s awful, because at least call her to find out what’s going on, mate, don’t just run away and metaphorically kill yourself. And for our sake as viewers, where’s the fun? Where’s the “hang on, I know that look in your eye, wait, you’re sleeping my the best man?!” moment? That’d be a showdown worth waiting for, not this nonsense.

In other news, that’s now three out of three tracks this week where I’ve not actually mentioned the music at all. Hmm.

Tom: Yeah, I was going to mention that. And for once, I think that’s a shame: it’s got a really nice chorus, the piano’s doing interesting things in the background, and he’s got a voice that’s more than capable of singing it.

Tim: All of that is true – it’s nice. It’s decent. Just, not as good as the video is annoying, I guess.

Nano – Chasing Rivers

“Swedish Hozier! I mean that as a compliment. Although it is Swedish Hozier Slurring His Words A Bit.”

Tim: Last one from the final, and it did well with the juries but not very well with the punters, and I think I know why (and no, it’s not the weird mini-Nano).

Tom: Swedish Hozier! I mean that as a compliment. Although it is Swedish Hozier Slurring His Words A Bit.

Tim: See, it’s a good track. Powerful strong ballad, sung well, nice backing chorus, got everything it needs. As a song, it’s good.

Tom: Sure, it’ll do — but it’s in a very tough field.

Tim: It’s not twelve-points-from-every-jury good, but it’d be a decent enough Eurovision entry, so it’s doing alright with the jury. Except, Nano was at Melodifestivalen two years ago, with the very memorable Hold On. It had his same style – same voice, backing choir, passionate message, and we even made that exact same Hozoer comparison – but crucially, a whole lot more on top. A massive amount more, with blazing lights, horns and everything, and in comparison, this just doesn’t cut it.

Tom: You’re not wrong: that final chorus is great, but it doesn’t compare to the past.

Tim: That one was in first place with the televote, with the voters being tragically overruled by the jurors. This one? Nowhere near.

Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes

“Ranking highly amongst the “yes I will seek this out and listen to it a lot” entries.”

Tim: Part of me really wanted this to win so that Anna could go back to Eurovision 9 years later and TRIUMPH, proving all her haters wrong. That didn’t happen, of course, but never mind. They’re still wrong.

Tim: I dismissed this after a minute or so as a competent track but one that would ultimately get buried in Tel Aviv with all the other equally competent pop tracks.

Tom: I’ll grant you that it has a decent chorus, and there’s definitely something to be said for the pop-folk style they’re going for. Not much to be said for those verses, though.

Tim: Well, right. Except, then she walked off the stage and into a nearby forest, and it became slightly less forgettable, and then in the recap clips I realised that by the end, it is actually a right proper banger. It’s too early to say for certain, of course, but it’s ranking highly amongst the “yes I will seek this out and listen to it a lot” entries for me at the moment, because damn if there isn’t a massive amount of energy and joy in that song.

Tom: Even with “ashes to ashes, and dust to dust”. I know what you mean, though. That string-section middle eight really does stand out, now I come to think of it.

Tim: It’s marvellous. And sure, maybe it wouldn’t be great at Eurovision. But that doesn’t mean it’s not great at all.

Lina Hedlund – Victorious

“Oh, it is so nice to have camp pop up on stage like this.”

Tim: QUEENA Hedlund, more like.

Tom: I mean, she didn’t win, so Princess at best.

Tim: Oh, shush.

Tom: Full marks for using the Theiss Titillation Theory on that costume.

Tim: Good, isn’t it? And after seeing that costume, BLOODY HELL was next up in my basic thoughts when this got going, followed by a HOLY FLIPPING HECK when the sparks shot, because oh, it is so nice to have camp pop up on stage like this.

Tom: It’s a very “what the British think Eurovision is” sort of song, isn’t it? Heck of a chorus, really nice staccato middle eight, not actually going to be voted for.

Tim: Well, yes, very true. But still, wow. Throughout the first couple of verses you’re waiting for her to march down those steps, wondering what’ll happen when she gets to the bottom, but then it seems that there’s nothing, oh but hang on here are some backing dancers, oh no but they’ve gone, and wait OH THERE IT IS. What a performance. What a song. What a woman.

Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken

“The middle eight is literally just a man singing at a reindeer.”

Tim: As is tradition here, let’s stick with the Melodifestivalen final for a while.

Tom: With the ones who were less successful.

Tim: Well, yes, I suppose. I’ve had a lot of time for John Henrik’s previous entries, in 2015 and 2019. This year, singing about the Northern Lights, he steps it up somewhat, by serenading a reindeer.

Tom: It was nice of Sweden’s 1976 Winter Olympic team to lend him one of their old dress uniforms, wasn’t it?

Tim: You mean, you…

Tom: Disclaimer: this was a joke, I have not bothered to look up old Winter Olympic dress uniforms

Tim: Oh, okay. Though, wouldn’t have surprised me. Anyway, what was I going to say? Ah, yes: I know it would have been phenomenally difficult (and I guess risky) to do, but I would have ADORED it if they could have lined up the camera, a precise pose from him and the backing screen to have the reindeer erupt out of his microphone, Patronus style, to really hammer home how utterly ridiculous that scene is.

Tom: I mean, they’d already set the stage on fire, it’d get a bit much.

Tim: Would it, though? Would it really?

Tom: I think that was the point when it really sunk in for me just how ridiculous the track is: the middle eight is literally just a man singing at a reindeer. Kind of breaks it all up, doesn’t it?

Tim: It’s a nice song, all flutey and everything, and like I said I enjoy the genre every now and again (though I tried to listen to one of his albums a while back, gave up after three tracks). It has FIRE, and DANCING PEOPLE WITH SHEETS, and an INEVITABLE UPCOMING KEY CHANGE but suddenly it drops everything for him to tell a reindeer how much he loves it, and I start giggling. A shame. A lovely track, spoiled by fifteen seconds of baffling stage design.