The Winner Is… (Heats 7 and 8)

heat 8 banner

I’ve come to the annoying conclusion that finishing this quickly simply will not happen. So, we’re going to speed through the final two heats in order to get to a good stopping place before Eurovision. Now, no time for lengthy intros, Eurovision is afoot!

 

 Each of the eight artists in Unser Song für Dänemark brought two songs to the contest, and when combined with seven left behind in the club show, that makes for a 23-song, 17-artist national final, which is one the year’s largest. Elaiza’s second song was this poppier ode to self-improvement and growth. While the subject matter might not be as engrossing, the delivery is fresh and the sentiment is good, for the most part. Musically, it’s just as fun and light as their other song, with a strong tuba and piano driving “Fight Against Myself.” And again like “Is It Right?,” Elaiza performed this incredibly well, with strong characteristic vocals and charming circus-like staging touches.

I’m trying to to have this be a prediction thing, but I think this would have better chances in Copenhagen, just because it’s a bit hookier and poppish. And in saying that, I’m fully aware of the fact that “Is It Right?” is somewhat more sophisticated, lyrically and musically, so I can live with this not winning USFD. But this would’ve been swell. Everything about the performance is stellar and the song is so gorgeous, I can’t help but really like it. As a big softie, I prefer these relatable lyrics to the others, but that’s just a personal thing. No matter what was going to happen in Cologne, Elaiza were bound to be great, and the fact that they had two equally great songs is a testament to them as artists.

Live: 10 | Staging: 8 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 8 | Preference: 17

Total: 10.05 pts.

 

Estonian is such a strange and difficult language to translate, which means that my attempt to find meaning in the song’s lyrics are for naught. However, what came out was a charmingly sweet poem with many organic influences. And that fits in very well with the music, which has a campfire feel to it that’s unrivalled by any other acoustic instrument-touting contestant anywhere this year. Kõrsikud’s performance echoed that, in that they never seemed to make eye contact with the camera, instead focusing on each other as they performed. While their voices weren’t as smooth live as they were in studio, a little roughness never hurt.

First, the line “We listened to the song of flowers, of rivers…” might be one of my favorites for the entire year. It’s one of those things that’s instantly imaginable and beautiful. Although, that could be said for the whole song, which didn’t seem have justice done unto it in the Eesti Laul final. The performance in the semi-final was a tad stronger. Nevertheless, it’s musically amazing and even if my understanding of the lyrics is challenged, there’s obviously something beautiful there, too. There were so many special songs in this edition of Eesti Laul, it’s almost a shame that Tanja was sent instead.

Live: 8 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 8 | Music: 10 | Preference: 18

Total: 10.35 pts.

 

 This 80s-influenced alternative electro track got shafted when it came to allocation for the MGP semifinals. In the same semi as popular rockers El Cuero, pop princess Elizabeth Carew, and favorite and eventual winner, Carl Espen, Moi (and co-non qualifier Ilebek) never stood a chance. What viewers of the final missed out on was this nuanced and slightly bonkers song that managed to have multiple faces. Musically, it’s very particular and thoughtfully crafted and it creates a warm and cold atmosphere at the same time. The lyrics detail Moi’s struggle to escape from a relationship that’s only done her harm. The performance was done with her moving about the stage to different pieces of furniture while still singing very well.

My favorite part about this song might be the intro, which introduces all the concepts so well and so playfully. Then again, the whole song is brilliant, carrying all of the careful details throughout so well, like the “hmm”s and high-pitched synths in the chorus (listen and you’ll know what I’m talking about). This is also amazing lyrically, as it’s very vivid without being worn out. Moi’s choreography of couch-hopping made a bit of sense to me, if the idea was to portray trying (and failing) to reason with someone in a dynamic way, but there might be a grander idea that’s lost on me. At least her vocals were really good, as was everything about this song.

Live: 8 | Staging: 8 | Lyrics: 8 | Music: 10 | Preference: 19

Total: 10.8 pts.

 

 A study in detailing, this contemporary indie ballad was somewhat of a surprise qualifier to the Eesti Laul final. With a one Stedicam-shot staging that had people darting in and out of frame, this was one of the more unique ideas to find its way onto a national final stage this year. Then there’s the song, which has touches such as sporadic wood clicks and string plucks that work in tandem with the introspective lyrics. Norman (and his choir)’s vocal performance was good but got shaky as time went on, drawing away from the staging idea.

This is the best staged entry I’ve seen in a very very long time. The concept is brave but so perfect for the subject matter, as each choir member who appears represents a different thought that’s lent itself to helping Salumäe find a conclusion. The spinning helps to illustrate the introspective idea and the whole idea, while not executed perfectly, is so strong, it doesn’t matter. And as a song, it’s also incredibly strong, with a quirky but straightforward orchestration that ebbs and flows appropriately and lyrics that grow and really show the frustration and occasional loneliness that comes with finding something deep within oneself. The only problem with this entry was the choir, which frequently sang out of key and nearly ruined the great effect. Thankfully Salumäe was able to recover, but he never should’ve been put in that situation.

Live: 5 | Staging: 10| Lyrics: 10 | Music: 9 | Preference: 18

Total: 10.5 pts.

 

So, here’s the recap for Heat 7. Both polls will be at the bottom of the post.

heat 7 results

Now, onto the final heat, Heat 8!

 

 Germany’s national final was full of surprises, MarieMarie’s qualification to the second round being one of them. “Cotton Candy Hurricane” was a fanciful harp-based electro song that brought the year’s most surreal lyrics about a crazy yet charming relationship to life. Using the harp and other various string instruments really drove home that whimsical feel of the whole song. The live performance was heavy on lighting and MarieMarie struggled to hit a few notes, but it was enough to put her in the second round.

This is one of those songs that makes so much more sense together than it its parts. Case in point, the lyrics are a bit fuzzy (although I assume that’s the point), the staging was way too heavy and busy, and MarieMarie’s vocals were, hate to say it, bad. Thank goodness it was fabulous musically, although the three minute version isn’t anything compared to the four minute original. That said, the music on its own is barely enough to save the song, but it’s delivered from the absolute bottom.

Live: 4 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 7 | Music: 9 | Preference: 18

Total: 9 pts.

 

 Sorry Melfest fans, this draw was not kind to you. That said, our first Swedish song is one of the few that was actually in Swedish. “Hela natten” is a somewhat standard R&B-influenced pop ballad with all the bells and whistles, like a whole choir and light fixtures. The lyrics are surprisingly deep for such a “light” song and they’re very well-complimented by the music, which is absolutely anthemic. Johansson’s performance was almost monochromatic, which fit very well with the song and although his performance was a bit weak, he recovered well.

This was my first year closely following MF, and I have to say, although the songs were great, the results vexed me like nothing else. Really Sweden, 7th behind Ammotrack and Alcazar? *sigh* I loved this song so much, from the arrangement, to the performer, to the staging. It all rocked. However, I think the lyrics are the highlight here, as Johansson comforts his beloved as she contemplates suicide. The staging reflects that really well, with the spinning lampshades that let through shimmers of light, although that effect was marred by the overabundance of split screen shots and overlays. Still, this is really a missed gem from MF 2014, and I’m glad that I have it here.

Live: 6 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 8 | Preference: 20

Total: 10.65 pts.

 

 Eurovision made this girl a star and she didn’t even take part in the show. At the first technical rehearsals for Malmö 2013, Ellen was a stand-in for Amandine Bourgeois of France. Her performance so impressed producer and Sweden’s Herr Eurovision Christer Björkman, that she was offered a spot in MF 2014. She said yes and surprised everyone by qualifying directly to Stockholm out of the first semi final. The song is an acoustic ballad that builds off of familiar themes like perseverance and fear, and even though that’s been done before, Ellen’s freshness gives the song most of its life.

The reason she made it directly to Stockholm was because her performance in Malmö was breathtaking. She wasn’t able to replicate that in the final, sadly. And even if she had, the weaknesses of “Songbird” still would’ve been apparent, namely the lyrics, which pull off the rare feat of being both trite and ridiculous at the same time. Thankfully the simple music and staging was there to offset the song’s other losses. In an average Melfest final, this should’ve easily been top three.

Live: 7 | Staging: 8 | Lyrics: 3 | Music: 8 | Preference: 16

Total: 8.7 pts.

 

Rock plays quite frequently at Melodifestivalen but never as authentic as this, it seems. Little Great Things are somewhat new and decided to not poppify their song, which probably cost them a place in either Andra Chansen or the final. The song is an intense plea for a woman to break out of an abusive relationship that’s not getting better soon. Musically, it’s rich and stirring while still staying true to its alt-rock roots. Their performance was bolstered by strong green lights and lasers.

Having not listened to this song in a while, this was a positive surprise. Lead singer Charlie Grönvall was incredibly solid vocally, adding just the right amount of emotion to the performance. The song overall was bracing and full, with lots of great contrast and style. The lyrics are simply fantastic, challenging András Kállay-Saunders for darkest of the year. Like almost all of the Melodifestivalen songs here, this was a robbery.

Live: 9 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 9 | Music: 9 | Preference: 18

Total: 10.5 pts.

 

And that’s a wrap! Here’s a recap for the final heat of The Winner Is.

Again, thanks so much for voting and sharing. It means the world to me. Finally, here are the last two polls before Eurovision! I’m so excited!

 

Peace,

-Nick

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Posted in Eurovision, Personal Stuff, The Winner Is...
4 comments on “The Winner Is… (Heats 7 and 8)
  1. Shevek says:

    ‘Bensin’ and ‘Cotton Candy Hurricane’ got my votes. The best songs in both heats, imo.

  2. Patrick P. says:

    I can’t remember exact who I voted for. I think Norman and MarieMarie.

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