We move up north, to the must successful area of the last years. Today’s review combines nine victories and the three highest point totals of all times, but also a total of 13 last places – eleven of which for the same country, the rather unlucky Norway. Can they improve their already impressive stats or will the Nordics have to give up their recent superiority?
Norway: Agnete – Icebreaker
Let’s start with what is probably the most hit-and-miss nation of Scandinavia. Norway has had good and bad result strings, and despite their record of eleven last places they never managed two of them in a row. Despite their not really constant effort, the semifinals are not a common trap for Norway. They have only failed twice to qualify, but more than enough, not much was there to follow the qualification.
I found it hard to hear at first because the overall style and vibe of the song is quite different to me, but the first verse is basically Euphoria’s backing track. Which would totally be a good attempt, and promises a good song. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There have been multiple complaints about the tempo change, but I am not disturbed by it. I am disturbed by multiple other things, such as Agnete only partially reacting to the changes in the beat. There is a nice buildup in… not speed per se, probably rather intensity, between the first and second verse, but you wouldn’t notice in her singing. Even the more powerful chorus feels as if she just speeds up and sings louder, but never breaks the ice (see what I did there?).
And then there’s the performance, which is simply unintentionally hilarious. While the weird dancer in that… thing goas crazy, steam goes off and everything is trying to be energetic in the chorus, we have Agnete walking around like she just doesn’t care. If you just saw the performance, you’d assume it’s Azerbaijan or Ukraine or so, and that we’re in 2006. Which would also explain why her dress looks like it’s made of paper. I don’t know how a staging with such a structure and effort can look so cheap, and why they did bother to put it all up if it’s so much “been there, done that”. It kinda fits the song I guess… which gets 3/10.
Sweden: Frans – If I Were Sorry
The hosts are here! Last time they hosted, they chose a very normal looking young man who sang a midtempo love song, which was a very nice effort but not anything else. For Sweden, it was a little underwhelming actually. Some may say the same about Frans, who is not really what you have in mind when you think about Sweden and Eurovision – a very normal looking young man who sings a midtempo… breakup song?
When I watch the video, I instantly have guitars in my mind, so I am regularly surprised to notice that for the majority of the song, there is actually not a guitar. The sound, especially the instruments chosen, have a nice summery feeling to me and a little deep house vibe. It sounds like something waiting to be remixed by Robin Schulz, and that’s generally not bad. It’s very modern in a different way than the Baltic futurists, something that sounds urban and a little hipsterish even, judging by Eurovision standards. The “broken” melody is a very nice change in a sea of vocal showoffs, and is needed, cause frankly Frans isn’t the person for vocal showoffs.
His singing is pleasant and fits the song, but there are a few dropped notes whenever I hear the song. In his defense, though, I am covering the song on guitar and it is a lot more difficult than it looks like on the first view. The staging they used in MF is really effective too as it’s basically a non-staging apart from the backdrop. And I love how they don’t make you look at the backdrop with the words and symbols, it’s just kind of there. Big thumbs up for yet another understated sweet home entry from the Swedes. You know you’re good when you don’t have to “use” your home entries for a big one, and I appreciate that with a good 7/10.
We’ll be picking up speed now to get things done before the first semi, and next time – likely tomorrow – is a night I’ve been waiting for, cause we’ll finally learn what would happen if love was a crime. Stay tuned for Bulgaria and Lithuania!