Category Archives: Denmark

A Winner in Denmark: Emmelie de Forest

Ten songs went to bat tonight in Herning, but, as is the custom, only one could win the ticket to Malmö.  After being winnowed down to a three-song Superfinal, one song stood head-and-shoulders above the rest and join the pantheon of Eurovision 2013 performers.

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Preview: Dansk Melodi Grand Prix

After a seemingly interminable dry spell, where Eurovision fans went literally weeks without a new song being chosen, we finally break through the ice for the first time this year with this Saturday’s Danish National Final.  Unlike the other Nordics, Denmark’s Melodi Grand Prix is a one-night affair, with no heats, semifinals, or second-chance rounds to wade through.  By the time the night is over, we’ll know who will take the baton from Soluna Samay and cross the Øresund/Öresund into Malmö this May. Read the rest of this entry

Denmark has Decided: it’s Soluna Samay!

After an exciting National Final, 2012’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix wrapped up today with one singer reigning supreme: twenty-one year old Soluna Samay will take “Should’ve Known Better” to Baku. After a nine-song contest and a three-song Superfinal, Soluna took a somewhat slim win over runner up Jesper Nohrstedt’s “Take Our Hearts” (110 points over Jesper’s 102…bronze medalists Christian Brøns & Patrik Isaksson scored 88 points with “Venter”).

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Preview: Dansk Melodi Grand Prix

On Saturday, January 21, the first of the Nordic National Finals will be held in Aalborg, Denmark, and Eurovision 2012 will have its third official song (after Switzerland’s “Unbreakable” and Albania’s “Suus”).  The Gigantium Arena will play host to the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, which has been the selection process for Denmark’s song since their ESC debut in 1957.  Denmark has fared well recently at Eurovision, scoring two Top Five places in the past two years.  Will one of these songs continue the trend, or even bring the competition to Copenhagen in 2013? Read the rest of this entry

The Weekend Round-up, January 8

It’s been a busy week in the world of Eurovision, with preselections, song announcements, and other news from Cyprus, Slovenia, Latvia, and beyond.  Let’s take a quick look at the past weekend, shall we?

Cyprus: On Friday, CyBC officially unveiled Ivi Adamou’s three candidate songs for Baku.  “Call the Police”, “La La Love”, and “You Don’t Belong Here” have all been pretty well-received by fans, and we’ll find out which song Ivi will perform on January 25th.  More information (including the songs themselves) is available here.

Latvia: The first of two semifinals took place on Saturday, January 7th, and ten songs were whittled down to the five that will make up half of February 18th.  The qualifying performances are:

The second semifinal will be held next week, but considering that the only song performed in Latvian was eliminated this week, it’s a pretty safe bet that Latvia will be sending another song in English in 2012.  (The only time they’ve dipped into the Latvian language pool was with 2004’s “Dziesma par laimi“, which failed to qualify for the Final.  LTV has also sent songs in Italian and Russian, but the vast majority of their submissions have been in English.)

Slovenia: After months of heats aired by the program “Misija Evrovizija”, the final two acts have been confirmed.  Eva Boto and sister act Nika & Eva Prusnik will go up against each other on February 26th, when RTVSLO will hold “EMA 2012”.  Both Eva and the sisters will perform three songs each, and the winning song will be chosen out of those six performances.

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Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 2)

Continuing on through our tour of the 2011 Preselections, we move straight on from Bulgaria to…

Croatia: Few people who were in the Press Center in Düsseldorf will soon be able to forget Daria Kinzer’s “Celebrate“, complete with two costume changes and a special appearance by a creepy Willy Wonka impersonator.  But only the most hardcore of ESC fans remembers that the lovely Daria had some serious competition in this year’s Dora: Jacques Houdek.  Daria and Jacques went head-to-head on three songs, with a public televote and jury vote selecting the best option for each singer.  The interesting thing about this, however, was that the scores were tied after the jury and televote was added together during the song selection, with the public favoring “Stotinama Godina (A Hundred Years)” for both Daria and Jacques (by a landslide), and the jury selecting “Lahor/Break a Leg/Celebrate” for the two.  Most national finals used the public vote as the prevailing factor, but Croatia deferred to the jury.   The uptempo number seemed better-suited for the lovely Daria, and so Jacques’ fate as runner-up was sealed.  But we were tantalizingly close to having this, instead:

“Stotinama Godina” reminds me of the classic Croatian ballads of years past: songs like “Neka Mi Ne Svane“, or “Nek’ ti bude ljubav sva” (which, interestingly enough, Jacques performed during the national selection process).  It’s hard to say if this would have made it into the Final (I’m sure that some would have argued that it sounded “dated”), but I personally preferred it to “Celebrate”.  As for Jacques, I wouldn’t count him out.  In a commercial for this year’s UK version of “X-Factor”, eagle-eyed viewers can catch a quick glimpse of Houdek auditioning for the show that introduced the world to Jedward.  Brace yourselves, my friends.
Skipping Cyprus, which chose its song internally, we move on to:

Denmark: “New Tomorrow” by A Friend in London brought the Danes their second consecutive Top Five placement, and may have given Jedward and Poli Genova a bit of competition in the “Best Spiky Blonde Hair” category this year.  But the runner-up at this year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was no slouch, either.

Anne Noa’s “Sleepless” felt like a breezy blend of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, and could have easily been a worthy follow-up to the youthful puppy-love of Lena’s “Satellite”.

Estonia: Once again, some of the best songs this year came to us from Eestilaul, and it’s really tough to pinpoint an absolute favorite.  Getter Jaani’s “Rockefeller Street” was a fun, bouncy, vaguely surrealistic number that people in the press center either lauded or loathed, but there were definitely a handful of songs that could have gone to Germany in its place.  Fans of “Oida Taunz!” might have gone for the Argentinian-born Elmayonesa’s “Kes Ei Tantsi On Politsei (Whoever Doesn’t Dance is a Policeman)”, while on the opposite side of the musical spectrum, we have Marilyn Jurman’s sweet “Veel on Aega (There is Still Time)”.  This year’s runner-up, “I Wanna Meet Bob Dylan” by Outloudz, is a wonderfully wistful track that I am predisposed to love (both as a resident of Dylan’s home state of Minnesota as well as a fan of 80’s-style New Wave), but my personal favorite still remains 2011’s fifth-place finisher, Ithaka Maria’s “Hopa’pa-Rei!”:

How can you argue with those cellos, that attitude…that YODEL?  It’s exceedingly difficult to not sing in English at Eurovision, yet still have everybody singing along with your hook (just ask Magdalena Tul)…but I’m pretty sure that Ithaka Maria would have had Ruslana fans (and many others, for that matter) absolutely eating out of her hand.

Finland: Paradise Oskar may have “Da Da Dam“ed his way to Düsseldorf, but he had to defeat a fairytale princess and a former monster to get to the top of the heap.  Finland’s runner-up this year was Saara Aalto’s saccharine-sweet “Blessed with Love” (if Eurovision’s rules had allowed animals on stage, I’m pretty sure we would have seen Bambi, Thumper, and Tweety Bird singing backup…but then again, with the LED screen, I’m sure anything would have been possible).  If sweetness isn’t quite your thing, how about the glam-rock of Stala and So.’s “Pamela”?

Lead singer Sampsa Astala is the former drummer for Lordi, who famously took the Eurovision crown to Finland for the first time back in 2006.

Next up: Georgia, Germany, Greece, and Iceland!

"A New Tomorrow" in Denmark

The last of Saturday’s additions to the Eurovision 2011 Roster was Denmark.  The Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was, as usual, chock-full of finely-crafted pop songs, as is standard for the Scandinavian/Nordic bloc’s National Finals.  After ten performances (including one by Jenny Berggren, the former lead singer from Ace of Base!), we have a winner!  “A New Tomorrow”, performed by A Friend in London.

Denmark seems to have cornered the market on upbeat pop with positive messages over the past few years.  Especially in 2008 and 2009, when Simon Mathew and Niels Brinck took Denmark to 15th and 13th place, respectively…will a similarly-themed tune hover around that placement, as well?  Another thing that the boys from A Friend in London will have to contend with is the possible conflict with Romania’s “Change”, another uptempo song with a message to send.  Furthermore, Denmark will have to contend with Ireland in their semifinal…who’s hair will reach the highest heights?

The Best of the 2010 Preselection (Part One)

I don’t know about all of you, but all of this talk recently about the 2011 ESC season has really kicked my Eurovision appetite into high gear.  It’s sort of like how a person might say that they’re not hungry when dinnertime is coming up, but once they walk past a kitchen and detect the tiniest wafting scents of meals cooking, they realize that they’re absolutely famished.

Yep, that’s me.  Now that we know where Eurovision 2011 will be held, and we’re getting a better picture of which nations will be participating and how their entries will be chosen, I’m getting really excited to see how Düsseldorf will compare to Oslo (and Moscow, Belgrade, Helsinki, etcetera, before it).  But since it will be another few months before we get to hear the lion’s share of candidate songs, I thought I’d give you all a blast from the not-so-distant past, and serve up a list of a few of my favorite Preselection songs from last year.  These are the ones who didn’t quite make it to Oslo, but they made a bit of an impression on me, at the very least.  (By the way, I’m specifically skipping mention of the fantastic Albanian and Estonian preselections, as I had made pretty heavy mention of them in their nation’s individual postings…but feel free to backtrack and check them out!  Estonia, in particular, put on a fabulous National Selection this year, and there are about a half-dozen songs from Eestilaul 2010 on my iTunes right now.)

Anyway, in no particular order:

From Greece: “Enjoy the Day” by Katherine Avgoustakis.
Katherine, who is actually a Belgian citizen born to a Greek father, was strongly favored to go to Oslo with this danceable summer song, but a clause in the national preselection banned any of the candidate songs from being released to the public before a specified date, or else risk disqualification.  A remix of “Enjoy the Day” was leaked to YouTube early, and Katherine was left out in the cold.  There are rumors that she’s going to try to represent Greece again, and if she can duplicate the popularity of her 2010 song, I wouldn’t count her out of the running to go to Düsseldorf.

Fom Denmark: “Breathing” by Bryan Rice.

Coming in second place in this year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was this modern ballad, which always seems to remind me a bit of Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”.  I personally preferred this entry over Denmark’s eventual winner, Chanée and N’evergreen’s “In a Moment Like This“, but since I can’t vote, I can’t complain!  In a way, it’s almost a good thing that Bryan missed out in 2010, as Denmark’s 2008 and 2009 entry, Simon Mathew’s “All Night Long” and Brinck’s “Believe Again“, respectively were both male-driven, mid-tempo numbers, and maybe it was time to switch things up a bit.

From Malta: “Save a Life” by Wayne Micallef.

Although I know that Malta is more or less obsessed with Eurovision, I am generally not a massive fan of many of the songs that the island nation submits (Sorry!  Nothing personal, I promise!).  However, I really liked Micallef’s entry this year.  It has the hopeful, positive message that many Maltese ESC songs tend to have, without sounding like a track ripped from a 1995 Disney film.  His voice is strong, and “Save a Life” kind of reminds me of something that Snow Patrol or The Fray would come out with, and it might have stacked up pretty well against Tom Dice or Jon Lilygreen this year.  He also gets points from me for performing his own song, as only three self-penned tunes made it to the Maltese final this year, out of 20 songs.  Wayne came in 6th place in the 2010 preselection, and 7th the year before that.  If he keeps writing songs like this one, we might see him on the big stage sometime soon.

From Moldova: “Amintirele Dor (The Memories Hurt)” by Leylla
When I first introduce Eurovision to my friends who aren’t quite familiar with the contest, many imagine imagine a contest full of ethno-techno-disco pop like this.  The Moldovan preselection this past year was packed, with over 80 songs vying for a shot at Oslo.  Those 80-some-odd songs were all released to the public, but only 30 made it to the semifinal level (25 picked by a jury, and 5 by local SMS voting).  When the dust settled, Eurofans from all over were stunned to see that Leylla had missed out, especially considering that crap like this went through.
But, on the bright side, if Leylla had gone to Oslo, the would never would have gotten to know the glory of the saxroll.  Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

From the Ukraine: “Emotional Lady” by Dazzle Dreams.

Ok, this one is a total guilty pleasure.  I love it when songs in other languages randomly slip in a line or two in English, and combining that with Depeche Mode-inspired synthpop makes me a happy Samantha.  Granted, though…”Dazzle Dreams”?  The band name sounds a bit like something that a five-year-old girl would come up with while trying to name her pink My Little Pony.  Great song, though…

From Russia: “Dlinnaya-dlinnaya beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee aishon (Long-Long Birch Bark and How to Make a Headdress From It)” by Buranovskiye Babushki  (whew!)

This song is an obvious departure from any other tune in this year’s contest (or almost any year’s contest, for that matter).  It’s sung in Udmurt, which is a minority language more closely related to Finnish and Estonian than Russian, and was performed by the Buranovskiye Babushki (literally, “The Grannies from Buranovo).  Believe it or not, this was a serious contender to go to Oslo, coming in third place in the Russian national final!
And I don’t care what anybody says.  This song makes me happy.  Just try to listen to it and not smile!  I dare you!
…Yeah, that’s what I thought.

(More coming up in the next entry!)

ESC Wish List: Nanook

Going from Thomas Holm, my next suggestion for Eurovision, while technically still citizens of Denmark, couldn’t be much further from Holm’s synth-pop sensibilities.  Quite literally, in fact: there’s a distance of over 2,200 miles between Copenhagen and Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland.  That’s about the distance between Los Angeles and Orlando, or Lisbon to St. Petersburg!  Greenland is an autonomous nation that is still partially governed under the Danish crown.  They have their own Parliament, but spend the Danish Krone and are protected by the Danish military.  It is the world’s largest island, and as a standalone nation, Greenland is the 13th-largest country (by area) on the planet, larger than Saudi Arabia, Mexico, or Indonesia.  Despite their massive size, only about 56,000 people call Greenland home, making it by far the least densely populated country.

So, why am I telling you all of this information on Greenland?  Well, that’s because it’s where today’s ESC Wish List artist hails from.  I don’t quite remember how I came across Nanook, but I’m incredibly glad I did.  They sing exclusively in Greenlandic (Kalaallisut), which is related to other Inuit languages like Inuktitut, Aleut, or Yup’ik.  Being generally interested by foreign language, the moment I heard brothers Frederik and Christian Elsner singing in a tongue that I had never heard before, I was fascinated.  Nanook (Greenlandic for “polar bear”) released their first album, “Seqinitta Qinngorpaatit (Our Sun is Shining on You)” last year, and I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since.  Luckily, it’s available on iTunes here in the US.  Here’s the title track from their first album, with a translation available here:

The intimate, garage-band quality of the video, coupled with the rolling gait of the music…to me, this is absolutely beautiful.  Sadly, it doesn’t look like they have many other videos out (it’s hard enough being an independent artist out here in the Twin Cities area, with a population of 3 million in the metro.  Can you imagine being a musician in a market of only a little over 50,000?), but if you appreciate beautifully-written alt-rock, with echoes of Britpop, you might want to give these guys a listen.  I was able to find a brief sampler of some of their other songs, including “Kisimiinneq”, “Timmissat Taartut”, and “Seqinitta Qinngorpaatit”, among others.

Their chances of getting to the Danish Melodi Grand Prix are slim, sadly, even if they did decide to take the long trip to Copenhagen.  But these guys are working their butts off, making beautiful music in one of the most starkly beautiful and desolate places on the planet.  I feel like more people should hear Nanook, and have their sun shine on us, even if it’s completely dark there from November through February.

ESC Wish List: Thomas Holm

As I’m basically killing time between now and when further Eurovision News pops up (which might start rolling as soon as next month, when we might have an official confirmation on next year’s location), I figured I’d play a bit of “Fantasy ESC”.  As I’ve been learning more about pop and rock music from abroad, I’ve encountered quite a few great artists who I’d love to see on the Eurovision stage one day.

(Disclaimer: I’m NOT trying to start any rumors here…I’m just sharing a few great singers with you, my readers!  Let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions that you’d like to send my way; I’m always on the prowl for great new music to add to my collection.)

We start our tour in Denmark, home of Thomas Holm.  This 31-year-old singer-songwriter recently released his first full-length album, “Middelklassehelt (Middle Class Hero)”, and has been performing actively throughout his native country.  His album is a mix of self-deprecating wit, soul-searching introspection, and head-bopping electronic pop, and I’ve been enjoying it thoroughly!

Here’s his first single, “Nitten” (while it literally means “Nineteen”, it basically translates to “The Short Straw”), which has become my go-to “bad-day-song”, despite the fact that I don’t speak any Danish. (Don’t worry, English captions are available!)

Now, don’t you just feel better about your crappy day after watching Thomas getting pummeled?  I know I do…

His next single, “Selvmord på Dansegulvet (Suicide on the Dancefloor)” is another immensely catchy pop song, and while I can’t find a video with the English lyrics embedded like I could with the video for “Nitten”, I can say that this song speaks to the awkward partygoer in all of us…the clip is pretty self-explanatory (and a lot of fun!)

Even if he’s not depending on electronic beats or high production values, Holm’s voice is undeniably beautiful, and it pairs wonderfully with a single guitar, as in the case of this acoustic version of “Byens Bitreste Mand (The City’s Bitterest Man)“.  It’s in a performance like this that shows his versatility, that he’s not just a comedian with musical ability, but a well-rounded singer-songwriter who’s able to capture heartbreak just as effectively as exasperation or well-intended awkwardness.  I have no idea if he’s even considering entering Denmark’s preselection, the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, next year.  If he is, however, and he enters an upbeat number like “Selvmord På Dansegulvet”, he very well might be able to take it all the way to Germany in 2011.  However, Thomas tends to sing exclusively in Danish, and no entry has been sung in that language since 1997, so the odds might be slightly stacked against him.

But a girl can dream, right?