The Swedes get a lot of the attention when it comes to Scandinavian Eurovision circles, and to some extent they’ve earned that by the effort they go through to pick their entries. It’s an approach that’s been vindicated by their success in the contest, particularly Eric Saade’s 3rd place finish in 2011 and Loreen’s win in 2012. But there’s plenty out there, in the other national finals. In fact this year Norway’s entry has impressed me more than anything from Melodifestivalen so far.
So what of Denmark? Well-placed in Europe to pick up points from friendly neighbours, and with an ear for pan-European pop, they have performed modestly in recent years with five top 10 finishes this century, kicking off with their 2nd win in 2000. They select their entry via a national final – Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, which this year consisted of 10 songs. A 50/50 televote and jury scoring system picked 3 super-finalists, and another similar vote decided the winner. So what were they like?
Frederikke Vedel – Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det
A lady called Frederikke? How European! She’s very pretty. Those hot backing dancers are getting in the way. Get out of the shot! It’s a bit interpretive dance but the song is quite nice. Love when it gets a bit dancier, really up my street.
Her voice is nice, if a little lacking in character. Love the staging with the toilet-paper tangle, and she emotes well. Wow, love the glory note too. Really liked this!
Brinck – Human
I couldn’t find this on Youtube annoyingly, so had to settle for a studio version. 2009’s Danish entry returns with a self-penned guitar ballad with more than a taste of that Plain White T’s song “Hey there Delilah”. The melody is a bit erratic, and I wonder if he pulled off the live vocals.
He’s got quite a nice voice, but the low tone of this song doesn’t really help lift things up. The chorus instead feels a bit too flat and subdued. It does build up a bit towards the end with extra instrumentation and percussion coming in, but it just never really reaches an exciting level of action.
Kate Hall – I’m not alone
She looks like a bit of a femme fatale, power ponytail! Seems quite fun though, hope the song matches up. And good God, she’s a giantess! Interesting staging, some crazy choreo going on here, and a straightforward dancepop track. Sounds like an Agnes track I think.
The chorus is well put-together but it doesn’t quite have that killer hook. Her vocals are strong and her eventual outfit is typically Schlager-tastic. Those legs! I always love those Kali-arms routines too. She’s a good performer, I just think the song wasn’t really a winner..
Louise Dubiel – Rejs dig op
Another young lady, who I suspect might sing another power-pop effort. I expect nothing less from Denmark. Holy Christ, how big is that stadium? Oh maybe this is a ballad. Not sure about the snail haircut. Oh I love the drums when they kick in!
The song struggles to get much past mid-tempo, but the staging certainly takes no prisoners, great visuals and props. Just the song is a bit of a plodder. Nice and upbeat but not even a key change can make this particularly interesting.
Daze – We own the universe
Oh lord, Thomas G:Son is up to his old tricks, on his mission to write every single Eurovision hopeful. It hasn’t done him any favours in Sweden this year yet. They look a little too old to be dressed like that, but whatever, at least we know it’ll be pop dance track.
She hasn’t got the best voice, but she confidently sings her way through a gay remix of Kelly Clarkson’s “My life would suck without you”. It’s a bit overstyled, and feels like it was meant to be a bigger song. Maybe with a different act it could have been. Very bubbly and modern but just lacks something for me. Is that guy trying to play notes on the studio lights?! Chock-full of gimmicks, but just doesn’t quite scratch my itch.
Jack Rowan ft Sam Gray – Invincible
Goodness, is Jack the masked dancer? Sam is surprisingly very English. Who is this guy? Why’s he singing in Denmark? His voice reminds me a bit of Mr Hudson, he’s very clean-cut too. God, this masked guy is very distracting. Scratch that, it’s like Chris Martin on a David Guetta track. That’s not entirely a bad thing.
But his voice doesn’t soar like Chris Martin, and the chorus just ends up pretty flat, his voice has a nice tone but it just doesn’t really hit any big notes. Nothing really wrong with the song, it’s just not as big as it evidently feels like it should be. I really can’t take the masked DJ guy seriously at all!
Albin – Beautiful to me
Is this going to break into another Guetta-esque dance anthem? His voice is a bit reedy but seems to have more range than Sam Gray. Oh there comes the dance beat! It’s a pretty safe mid-tempo track, it just doesn’t excite me that much.
It reminds me a bit of Brinck’s 2009 entry, but the song is a lot less demanding, and the chorus is a little boring. He tries to spice things up with some impressive dance moves with some young harlot strutting onstage. Decent but no win from me.
Simone – Stay awake
And in third place, the first of the superfinalists. She’s got quite a sweet voice with some power behind it. I love the subdued intro, and the chorus is pretty solid. Reminds me of SOMETHING, it’s a little dated, like the turn-of-century pop princesses.
Lyrically it’s a pretty generic affair about living for the moment, waiting for love, dreams coming true etc. But it’s structured a bit better than the other dancepop tracks I’ve heard so far, and her voice is probably the best so far.
Mohamed Ali – Unbreakable
I heard a song by this guy a long while ago, “Rocket”, really loved that! He’s got such a lovely voice. I love the slightly drum’n’bass flavour to the backing track. Ultimately we end up with another Guetta-esque track, but this time with the soaring vocals to make it sound like a GOOD Guetta track.
Not THAT good though, more boring-assed lyrics, but fortunately his vocals really help him out. He’s got some moves too! I’m glad this made the super-final, though easily one of the best of the selection. Like the drum-filled breakdown, it’s just a great package! Can’t imagine it would have done amazingly at Eurovision but it’s a decent effort.
Emmelie de Forest – Only teardrops
So here’s the winner. Certainly different to the other tracks, with an angsty banshee intro complete with penny whistles. Certainly going for a bit of Celtic charm, and while the song is a little disjointed, and chorus does start to work on me.
It’s certainly better than Soluna Samay last year, and really starts to climax nicely in the last minute. I think it’s a worthy winner, and it could well be engaging enough to get a decent result in Malmö. Not a safe entry by any means, but has a bit more about it than the parade of well-meaning Guetta-likes I’ve seen from the selection.
So there we have it. As you can probably imagine, I’m not anticipating a Copenhagen 2014 contest, but the Danes probably made the right choice. I did like Mohamed’s track but it was just a bit of a knock-off of the current chart sounds, and all the worse for its easy comparison to well-known hits.
I’ve heard much worse national finals though!