Melodifestivalen, and the road to Lisbon
March 7, 2018 5:58 AM   Subscribe

Most nations have selected their singers and songs for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, through processes straightforward and controversial and more controversial and convoluted. Some qualifiers have been revamped; many can be heard on Eurovision Radio. A pleasant variety of genre will be performed in Lisbon, from the operatic dress of early favourite Estonia to the energy of Finland, the obligatory Country and Western of East Texas/The Netherlands, the Bond/Mad Max of Croatia, and the metal of Hungary. Sadly, performers such as Kamil Show (Armenia), Formerly Whigfield (Denmark), Heimilistónar (Iceland) and Þórunn Antonía (again, Iceland) failed to qualify. However, a few countries are still finalising their entry, including Sweden through their Melodifestivalen...

Melodifestivalen (previously, twitter), organised by Sveriges Television (SVT) and Sveriges Radio (SR), is the annual multi-week selection contest for Sweden. Why does it matter? Sweden has a good track record of Eurovision winners, both distant and recent; Melodifestivalen has produced six Eurovision winners (1974 and previously, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012, 2015 and qualifying) and eighteen top-five placings. Since 2009, when Melodifestivalen started to use an international jury system, 2 victories and 4 top 5 places have been secured.

With the second chance qualifier completed (the eight acts who finished third or fourth in their initial qualifier have another go, from which four qualify for the Melodifestivalen final), twelve performers and their songs will battle it out this Saturday.

The eight finalists who finished 1st or 2nd in their qualifier consist of:

* John Lundvik will sing “My Turn
* Benjamin Ingrosso will sing “Dance You Off
* Samir & Viktor will sing “Shuffla
* LIAMOO will sing “Last Breath
* Martin Almgren will sing “A Bitter Lullaby
* Jessica Andersson will sing “Party Voice
* Rolandz will sing “Fuldans
* Mariette will sing “For You

...are joined by the four who emerged victorious from the second chance qualifier:

* Méndez will sing “Everyday
* Renaida will sing “All the Feels
* Felix Sandman will sing “Every Single Day
* Margaret will sing “In My Cabana

At the moment there doesn't appear, on the various forums, to be a strong or runaway favourite, though Jessica Andersson - who has participated in both Melodifestivalen and Eurovision previously - is mentioned more than most. Some notes on the finalists. Rolandz also receives a lot of coverage, but not in terms of winning.

(Housekeeping: the previous Eurovision 2018 thread. In Eurovision week, MeFite and Eurovision follower zebra will be launching Semi-final and Final posts over on Fanfare. Come join the Eurovision Club!)
posted by Wordshore (29 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Am not knocking the entry by The Netherlands - I really liked the Common Linnets back a few years ago when they were runner up. It's just that every time I hear their entry this year, I have an irrational desire to dig out the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? again.

Iceland is making me quietly despair. It's like they suddenly realised their finalists were pretty strong this year and, with the right selection, they had a real chance of Eurovision glory. But at the thought of hosting the final, decided to choose the dullest entry possible. (And Sweden, with several cut price Justin Biebers in your final, you aren't off the hook yet).

(Still also sulking because Denmark did not pick Whigfield 2.0 and her song was really good)
posted by Wordshore at 6:08 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]

I think Norway decides this weekend as well -- I was delighted to see Alexander Rybak back again with a simple but catchy song. I also liked this guy last year as part of JOWST, but haven't had time to listen to all the entries yet.

Was bummed that this song placed second at Portugal's selection, but that's just because I have a little fangirl crush on the songwriter.
posted by JanetLand at 6:12 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

I liked the Common Linnets entry as well, but the dude just calling himself "Waylon" is objectively hilarious.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:15 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]

I wish we could get ourselves together and have one of these in the Americas.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:26 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

That Rolandz "song" really grates. More because it's taking up a place that could have been taken by a serious Eurovision contender. It's as shiny as the Ukraine winner a few years ago, but suffers from - unlike that performance - not being funny, catchy, talented or memorable.

On the plus side, this I guess is why we need juries, so we don't end up with a load of pointless acts who get through on support campaigns while the votes of quality acts are split.
posted by Wordshore at 6:45 AM on March 7

posted by Capt. Renault at 6:57 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]

What do you mean "sadly" Heimilistónar didn't make it? Kúst og fæjó is an awful, awful song. Not as bad as Golddigger, but still.

"Our Choice", as cheesy it may be, is still very wholesome. I harbor no illusions that Iceland will win, though. I don't think any of us do. For us it's more a question of "what song do we want to represent us?" rather than "what song will win?"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:09 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

Kúst og fæjó may be a terrible song for all I know (hard to judge when I can't understand the lyrics), but after digging through youtube I gotta say I'm digging Heimilistónar as a band.
posted by JanetLand at 7:17 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]

(Awaits the far-better-informed-than-me Kariebookish to chip in with insight into Nordic country selections)
posted by Wordshore at 7:19 AM on March 7

Is it just me, or is this contest crazily overweighted toward english language songs (just going by the titles)?

Also, loving Heimilistónar (also not an Icelander, don't speak the language, just excited by women who aren't 16 and crazy fit doing a pop song)
posted by vjpdx at 8:04 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]

Portuguese frontrunner and thus hometown favorite Diogo Piçarra pulled out ahead of the finals after being accused of plagiarizing a hymn from the evangelicals IURD.

Instead, Claudia Pascoal will sing "O Jardim" ("The Garden").
posted by chavenet at 9:26 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

I saw Rybak's That's How You Write a Song on his YouTube channel. I didn't realize it was in contention for Norway's Eurovision entry.
posted by zinon at 9:30 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]

vjpdx, there's a whole thing about the language of choice for the songs. Long story short, singing in your language pleases your countrymen, but singing in the common tongue wins you more votes, and people like votes.

When the song had to be in one of your national languages, the ultimate example of gaming that for maximum singability-by-foreigners has to be Spain's 1968 classic, La La La.
posted by sldownard at 9:43 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]

I'm so excited about this! I've been listening to the songs. Although not as strong a field as it has been in the past, there's still some good ones in there. And then there's Shuffla... oh man, those guys sure know their brand.
posted by gemmy at 6:52 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Well. Not who I would have chosen, but... Ingrosso it is! Here’s how it played out.
posted by gemmy at 2:24 PM on March 10

Well, Norway dragged it out as long as they could -- 10 acts performed, then while people were voting, 10 judges from other countries picked "a favorite," which I guess gave them some points, I don't know. Then, four acts "moved on," and people voted aGAIN. Then, they brought it down to two, and people voted AGAIN. Plus, the two acts left either performed again, or their performance was shown again, I honestly couldn't tell. And of course we had to sit through a lot of other junk while we waited, the only bit of which I enjoyed was a uniquely arranged encore by last year's winner JOWST (sorry, can't find video, here's the song at Eurovision 2017).

So, it came down to [warning: opinion coming] a rather ordinary and boring but beautifully sung ballad by a very young person and a not very profound but lively as hell number by a seasoned professional. The seasoned professional got it.

Me, I was rather taken by the guy who sung in Spanish, but he got no love.

And dear god, what on earth was this?? It made me think of that moment at a party when somebody gets drunk enough to start singing. And Norway has cheer squads? Who knew?
posted by JanetLand at 3:55 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]

JanetLand, I can confirm, that is exactly how I would sing and dance if someone got me super drunk and told me to go sing like I was in Eurovision.
posted by sldownard at 4:41 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]

Have we talked about Ireland yet? Because I just saw the new official music video for their song by Ryan O'Shaughnessy and I am have actual tears right now. It's so sweet and touching!
posted by dnash at 12:48 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]

Netta's song for Israel, Toy, has been released and it's easy to see why she is the early frontrunner.
posted by zebra at 5:24 PM on March 11

Not just the early frontrunner, but the astonishingly short-odd favorite. 5/2 in a 40+ field is ... rather unusual. The Metro has an article on this.
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]

That Israel entry is fun. I'm really getting excited for this year's contest!
posted by sldownard at 10:55 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]

Bulgaria and Georgia have released their songs -- that's a full lid! The official Eurovision YouTube playlist is still missing a couple of official videos, but should be updated soon to reflect all 43 entries.
posted by zebra at 10:25 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]

Did anyone else hear cannibals and not cannon balls in Aisel - X My Heart - Azerbaijan?
posted by zinon at 6:41 AM on March 15

Now I can't hear it any other way.
posted by JanetLand at 9:10 AM on March 16

Ah, here is video for the JOWST performance of their song from last year at Norway's Melodi Grand Prix last weekend. If you liked the song last year it's worth a watch. Drum line!
posted by JanetLand at 9:16 AM on March 16

Did you guys know that Catherynne M. Valente will be releasing a novel about a pan-galactic Eurovision called Space Opera? I’m more excited about this than I’m ready to admit.
posted by Kattullus at 11:42 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Just had a look at the odds. Israel remain the very hot favorites at odds of shorter than 2/1 (which, for a field of over 40 contenders, is ludicrously short and not a value bet).

Some way behind Israel are Estonia (Yay!) and the Czech Republic (I have no idea why; the trumpet? Anyone?), both at around 7/1. The rest of the field are some way further back.

This could all change, of course. A pre-final favorite can sink if it has a mediocre and baffling stage performance (hello, Italy and your gorilla suit). And another song can storm the finals week with a strong stage performance (Conchita!). But at the moment it looks very much like it's Israel's to lose.
posted by Wordshore at 11:38 AM on March 17

Did you guys know that Catherynne M. Valente will be releasing a novel about a pan-galactic Eurovision called Space Opera? I’m more excited about this than I’m ready to admit.

A couple of friends and I have a Eurovision podcast and we're trying to see if we can interview the author on an upcoming episode. It's a longshot but worth a try. I've got the book on preorder and will be reading it cover to cover as soon as it arrives.
posted by zebra at 7:14 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]

Holy glittering disco balls, Kattullus, I need that book! (Available in hardback for €18 on 10 April at a fine retailer near basically everyone.) Anyone up for a FanFare readalong? We'll have a month after its release before the main event!
posted by sldownard at 12:43 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]

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