Tim: Cyprus, Eurovision last year, and I’ve a question.
Tom: What’s the question?
Tim: So here’s the thing: this song has since then become basically an Anthem amongst the standard europop crowd. I was out the other night and the club went insane the moment the intro hit, and it jumped straight to number 2 by a massive margin in the 2018 #esc250 countdown (a beautiful NYE staple – and since you’re wondering, since 2012, number one has been, and will remain forever more, Euphoria).
But: I don’t get it.
Tom: And neither do I! The chorus is based around an irritating sample, and that pre-chorus anti-drop is just disappointing every time.
Tim: It’s okay, there’s a decent tune, but it’s sure as hell no What About My Dreams, which outrageously didn’t make the chart at all. Just me?
Tim: And while obviously it’s not a bet that could ever be called, I’d put a lot of money on there being an alternate, and better, timeline where That’s How You Write A Song was sung by some random Ola Nordmann, and then got correctly knocked out in the first round before this was crowned Norway’s representation, because OH MY DAYS is it a cracker.
Tom: It’s a bloody good Big Emotional Song, isn’t it? Given the right competition, so it stands out, that could win Eurovision. And yet it’s not going to get the chance.
Tim: The thing is, it plays by every single Eurovision ballad rule there is, except not quite. The first minute or so is obvious: a raw display of sensitivity and weakness in a quiet verse, a rising sense of emotional growth and empowerment into the chorus, and a whole load of massive instrumental moments that the crowd can go wild for.
Tom: Or turn their phone lights on themselves so they can mug for the camera. I see you, random Norwegian narcissist in the front row. Anyway, yes, massive instrumental moments.
Tim: Repeat for a second time, though a just tad louder, EXCEPT we don’t then drop into a middle eight. That’s it. That second chorus was SO BIG, SO POWERFUL that the audience is left with the plain and simple knowledge that Rebecca is an incredible woman who can have the world, and doesn’t have to play by the rulebook to get it.
Tom: And it works. Alas, Rybak got in the way.
Tim: It doesn’t matter that the message in the lyrics is remarkably confused, what matters is that REBECCA IS QUEEN. (But out of respect for you, Tom, I won’t type what I really really want to.)
“She’s tanned, she’s wet, beautiful and wild, I think you know who I mean.”
Tom: Yes! Dansband!
Tim: No-one votes for it, it’d probably have tanked last night, but oh, just listen to this Norwegian studio audience. Though I think that might be partly the lyrics…
Tom: I’m, like, 90% sure that’s Norwegian Alan Carr there.
Tim: Well, prepare for the lyrics, see if they reinforce that. “I’ve fallen in love again, think I’ve found my soulmate; she’s tanned, she’s wet, beautiful and wild, I think you know who I mean.” Yup, so far so good.
Tom: I… I don’t know who he means.
Tim: Well let’s look to the chorus: “I want your mum, I want her lips on my cheek.” SCREAMS OF APPRECIATION, dancing all over the place, he’s the audience’s favourite by a country mile.
Tom: Hahahahaha, it’s amazing, it’s a three-minute your-mum joke, complete with a winking pianist.
Tim: That’s not the only good thing about it, of course: hell, I liked it even before I knew what the lyrics were, because it’s an enjoyable genre and it’s always nice to have a bit of variety in the mix. It also sounds truly heartfelt as he sings it, and the faces of those women at the very end make it all worth it.
Tom: I’m not sure there’s enough material in the music there even for three minutes, but who cares: that was one for the crowd.
Tim: All in all: music’s fun, lyrics are fun, IT’S ALL FUN.
“Every single anthemic component you’d want for a good proper actual riot.”
Tim: Ditte’s here for Denmark, and apparently she’s none too keen on being separated from her bae.
Tim: Slightly weird lyrics, really, because unless one of them’s going to prison or there’s some sort of Montague-Capulet situation going on, I don’t quite see how this situation might crop up in the future, but never mind that, let’s judge the music.
Tom: This is giving me very weird feeling: I am simultaneously sure I’ve heard this before, and sure that I haven’t. It’s like the textbook Melodifestivalen track, like someone’s chucked every vaguely-anthemic Swedish track there’s ever been into a blender and just gone, yeah, okay, that’ll do.
Tim: You’re not too far off, there, and I had a similar feeling. Though, while a “that’ll do” attitude normally results in a bit of a stinker, given the right ingredients what it gives here is, let’s be frank, a BANGER. Hell of a chorus, which like you said has every single anthemic component you’d want for a good proper actual riot, so full points there.
Tom: I mean, yes, it manages that. If I can get over the weird sense of not-quite-deja-vu, I can see what it’s trying for.
Tim: Backing dancers in military outfits also add bonus points, though at this point I’m starting to worry she’s a little over-prepared, and kind of think she might just have beef with society in general. Still, even if that is the case she certainly gets her point across. Criticisms, well, that return from the middle eight goes on twice as long as it really needs to, and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge them a key change there, passé as it may be. Otherwise, like I said: BANGING.
“Pink and yellow lighting! Multiple key changes! Floral headwear! Bleeping out the rude word describing how hard they’re going to dance!”
Tim: One of my favourite things about January is that every year the BBC brings back Death in Paradise, a murder mystery series set on a fictional Caribbean island that has such a high murder rate that you really wonder why on Earth anybody would want to go there on holiday. But I digress – here, cruelly knocked out at Andra Chansen, is a basically an extended version of its theme tune.
Tom: Cruelly knocked out?
Tim: Oh, absolutely – like I said the other day, Andra Chansen was something of a disgrace, and this lost out to a rather generic tropical pop song.
Tom: Which is… well, not unreasonable, really. It may be catchy, but it’s also got something of the Agadoo about it.
Tim: Oh, HARSH. Even if it was never going to win, let’s at least mention the fact that it would sure as hell have brought some extra variety to the final. Pink and yellow lighting! Multiple key changes! Floral headwear! Bleeping out the rude word describing how hard they’re going to dance!
Tom: Which was pretty strange: I thought Melodifestivalen just left things like that uncensored. Fair play for the key changes, though.
“Ida, let me remind you of Eurovision rule 1.2.2(h), which states clearly that song lyrics may not bring Eurovision ‘into disrepute’.”
Tim: NORWAY, God, I almost forgot about Norway – that was a great final, and these songs really are piling up. You may remember Ida as the one who had that hit “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” ten years ago; she’s kept going, had has plenty more songs since, including this one (which, um, you probably shouldn’t play too loudly in a public place).
Tom: Well, it made me smile. But, that’s about it.
Tim: “Why bother even trying to hit the notes when you can get the volume and have really raunchy lyrics?” was presumably the thinking; the answer turned out be that if you do that then you won’t get past the first round.
Tom: And raunchy lyrics aren’t necessarily good lyrics, either.
Tim: I’ll be perfectly honest: I can’t really see that this was ever a serious contender. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, sure, but Ida: let me remind you of Eurovision rule 1.2.2(h), which states clearly that song lyrics may not bring Eurovision ‘into disrepute’, and blimey if this wouldn’t do that then I don’t know what would.
Tom: This’d be a crowd-pleaser for the live audience on the night, of course, but it’d never win.
Tim: No. I mean, she and her subcontinent may be able to go twelve hours straight, but those Russian grandmas don’t wasn’t to hear that. BUT, like I said, hell of a lot of fun, and let’s be honest it’s hardly as if this song would get much of an outing elsewhere. Good work Ida.
“A huge, dark expanse on screen. Perfectly fits the song, but won’t endear it to anyone.”
Tim: Tom, I don’t know if it’s been a great year for national competitions, or if I’ve just been watching more of them than previously, but there have been a hell of a lot of good songs rejected. Sorry to do this to you, but we’ve only got one more week, so we’re going to have to cram a load in. Let’s return to Sweden, with a somewhat melancholy song knocked out in 6th (SIXTH) place.
Tim: So it’s no real surprise, let’s face it – it’s way too dark, there’s very little sign of any audience cheering and not a huge amount to bring forth excitement.
Tom: Some very interesting directing choices there, too: Dotter’s isolated on stage, with no background, and frequently with unsettling camera angles: slightly out of the frame, or facing away from a huge, dark expanse on screen. Perfectly fits the song, but won’t endear it to anyone.
Tim: It brings to mind, a lot, Sanna Nielsen’s Undo from 2014, which of course went on to win; it’s led by a strong female vocal (WHAT a vocal), with precious little instrumentation behind. In terms of her movements, there’s a lot of inspiration from Loreen with nothing in the background, just her swinging around all over the place. Except, both of those cases had things to make up for them: Sanna had fun with the lighting, and Loreen had amazing upbeat music. This…this doesn’t have either of those.
Tom: Right! This feels almost like watching a rehearsal.
Tim: It’s a great song, but staged like this it sure as hell isn’t a competition winner.
“That’s a coincidence, my new prog band is called the Disingenous Fireworks.“
Tim: Andra Chansen this year was, to put it mildly, a total farce. For those that don’t know the details, the third and fourth songs from each heat get mixed up and pitted against each other as four one on one duels; this year, two songs vastly better than their competitors got knocked out, there was one pairing where both songs were dull and one pairing where both were great. Here, we have one that lost out to the most tedious ballad the contest has seen since 2014’s Bröder, which for context was a song about the singer’s dead brother.
Tim: I won’t pretend this song is perfect – for starters, I’ve always slightly disapproved of things like fireworks or falling glitter on stage, as for me it symbolises “this has just won” – there are exceptions, obviously, but most of the time it strikes me as a bit disingenuous.
Tom: That’s a coincidence, my new prog band is called the Disingenous Fireworks.
Tim: And while I love the use of the song’s title as a dynamite fuse here, the massive, massive amounts of pyrotechnics just don’t quite seem earned.
As far as the actual song goes, though: it’s brilliant. and I wouldn’t change a note.
Tom: You sure about that? I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s by no means a Eurovision winner.
Tim: Hmm…alright, I might bring in the beat a bit sooner – gentle strumming doesn’t suit this.
Tim: Finland took the unusual (but not unheard of) step this year of having one artist presenting three songs for the public to choose from. The singer is Saara, who UK readers may remember as runner up in the 2016 series of The X Factor; others may recognise her from previous Eurovision selection competitions, Finland’s The Voice 2012, and considerable success in China, apparently. The winner was a pretty good dancepop number; this here is a really rather excellent ballad.
Tim: Annoyingly I’ve no idea what it looked like live, as for some reason the winning performance is the only one online, but if the sound of it is anything to go by it was likely fairly impressive – if nothing else, that’s a hell of a chorus.
Tom: That is a BRILLIANT chorus. I think this is the first reject where I’ve actually been startled by how good the chorus is.
Tim: I particularly like that the chorus goes on for twice as long as it needs to, and as a result makes up the considerable majority of the song. When you add in the middle eight (with that outstanding vocal note coming out of it), there’s only really a few seconds that the verses might ruin as an inferior part.
Tom: In a contest where most of the audience will have only heard the song once, having a good, catchy, and repeated chorus is a bonus. The verses — well, yep, they were over quickly, just in case they made it worse.
Tim: And they don’t, at all, because they’re very good as well.
Tom: Plus, what an end-and-return from the middle eight!
Tim: All in all, an excellent track, and it’d have been a very worthy Eurovision contender.
“It’s Whigfield! With some incredibly distracting dancers!”
Tim: It’s Whigfield! With some incredibly distracting dancers!
Tom: Wait, that actually is Whigfield! Singing… well, let’s just say that Damon Albarn might be wondering if he’s got a case about that chorus.
Tim: Ideally, in most cases, the singer’s the one we should be looking at – sure, sometimes there are exceptions, if they’re really there to make something of the choreography. But here, although I’m certain they’re not meant to be so distracting – there’s that one guy, front and centre when they’re all sitting down, standing directly behind her in that second chorus, and taking attention on the right at the close. I don’t know why (no, it’s not because of that), but he seems to steal it every time he’s there. Just me?
Tom: Just you, mate. But the fact you haven’t written a word about the (sadly, fairly dull) song says a lot.