Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Eurovisionary



There may still be a couple more months to go until the Eurovision party kicks off in Malmo, but the majority of the songs participating have now been selected and announced. Last week Bonnie Tyler was given the nod for the UK entry, hoping for a better outcome than Engelbert Humperdinck a year ago, but for the last six weeks I’ve been more closely following what’s been happening in Sweden, and not just because they are the defending champions and hosts for this year.
The Swedes select their song through Melodifestivalen, a music festival and competition which lasts for six weeks, with four semi-finals, a second chance round and the grand final itself. The four semis have eight songs each, two of which go through to the final, and two to the second chance. Similarly the second chance round has eight songs, the top four going into two play-offs, the winner of each going to the final. The final therefore has ten songs.
Intriguingly, the overall winner is chosen by not only a public telephone vote, but also through international juries, both groups having an equal weighting. This way a song which has more international appeal has a better chance of winning as it is also more likely to do well in the Eurovision competition.
So what about the songs? One of my favourites was Bed on Fire, a rock ballad that was perfectly over the top in both its style and the pyrotechnics on display. It only came seventh on the night and should have done better, but interestingly the UK jury had it in third place.
Another song which was extremely entertaining was En Riktig J√§vla Schlager (I have no idea what that translates as). It made me think of four hobbits singing a drinking song on a table in the Green Dragon and for that it should have done better, but unfortunately finished last. Certainly the international voters wouldn’t have understood any of the words.
Funniest song titles must go to Only The Dead Fish FollowThe Stream, and Copacabanana, the latter gaining the second most votes in the UK jury, but they only came fifth and sixth respectively.
So what about the top three? Tell The World I’m Here was second after the jury voting but only finished third overall. It also received the most points from the UK. It seemed a bit of a Disney song to me though somehow. Heartbreak Hotel came second and was the most popular amongst the Swedish phone voters, but the winner was You which was popular all round. It didn’t receive any points from the UK jury however, but most other countries put it in their top three. It’s not a song I particularly liked, being a bit trendy for my tastes, but I would predict a top three finish for it.
As for Melodifestivalen itself, I really enjoyed the whole show, it being the first time I’ve ever seen it. It’s both entertaining and light hearted, with several other musical acts interspersed between the competitors and the voting it comes across as a real music festival. There were songs from Jedward as well as past competitors, and both the presenters sung too, a lot of the songs being parodies or jokey.
It was much more entertaining that I remember a lot of UK ‘Song for Europe’ shows, with Terry Wogan looking as comfortable as a man with piles sitting on a cactus, and Michael Ball singing all the songs. I have no idea what demographic that was aiming at, but in Sweden it does seem to be a show for everyone. And that, surely, is what Eurovision is all about.

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