I’m never 100% comfortable betting on other countries’ national finals, for fear of not totally understanding the voting audience. Is there an aspect of the act or song which provokes a cultural response I know nothing about? Still, I feel safer with a Danish national final than most others. The Danes are a relatively consistent bunch: they like middle-of-the-road, usually midtempo pop that they can clap along to.
For me, there were two standouts when the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix (DMGP) songs were released: Simone’s ‘Heart-Shaped Hole’ and Anja Nissen’s ‘Never Alone’. The official website billed the competition as a “diva-kamp” between these two young blonde singers. Their differing backgrounds added intrigue: the former a national child star, third in two previous DMGPs trying to make it third time lucky; the latter a younger, foreign upstart, having grown up in Australia to Danish parents, winning The Voice there in 2014.
As for their compositions, ‘Heart-Shaped Hole’, a power ballad standing on the shoulders of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’, gained more traction with fans. But the mid-tempo, middle-of-the-road nature of ‘Never Alone’ sounded more like a Danish Eurovision entry, perhaps because it was penned by their 2013 winner Emmelie de Forest. In fact there was initial controversy that Emmelie had performed the song at festivals and concerts in 2014.
The broadcaster checked with the EBU that it wouldn’t fall foul of the rules stating a song shouldn’t be in the public domain before September 1. DR not only got the go ahead, but proceeded to give ‘Never Alone’ the pimp slot in tonight’s event. In stark contrast, they put Simone at #2.
Yet Simone remained odds-on with bookmakers and on Betfair, and I was able to get double-figure prices or thereabouts on Anja. Was there something I had missed? Was the Emmelie controversy, or the fact that she’d been parachuted in, a negative for the Danish public?
I built up a decent green anyway. The disparity in odds ended once blogs indicated the general consensus in the press room after last night’s dress rehearsal was Anja as the most likely winner. You can read those blogs here and here, and see snippets of the staging from wiwibloggs here. We’ll have to see if the domestic audience proves loyal to Simone instead – she remains the marginal favourite.
Tonight’s event, which starts at 7pm GMT and is streamed live by www.dr.dk, will see a national jury and a televote both have a 50% say in the first round, before a superfinal of three is decided by televote only. My guess is that the youth appeal of Muri & Mario or Lighthouse X will gain the third spot in that final.
There will be at least one other song for Stockholm picked this evening, as the Swiss have their national final too. It’s also the climax to Sanremo in Italy, which will see confirmation of whom they’re sending to Sweden in May. Otherwise, there have been two selections since the last article.
Austria chose bookmakers’ and fan favourite Zoe with ‘Loin d’Ici’ last night. I’m afraid it doesn’t excite me much as a package. I think dated songs in French trigger a form of nostalgia among fans that lead them to be overrated: last year’s French entry being a case in point. There just isn’t much substance to ‘Loin d’Ici’ at all. It trundles along even less eventfully than Zoe’s attempts not to trip over on her travelator, a staging gimmick that leaves her looking uncomfortable and makes her sound breathy.
It’s the kind of effort that juries have proved allergic to: it’s not contemporary and there are no big vocals to be impressed by. The overall effect is sickly sweet. It’s only USP (in the semi) is that it’ll be the only song in French, and I’m not sure how much use that will be. Still, it is in the second half of the first heat in Stockholm, in which France votes. But I can’t see it doing much damage in the final if it gets there.
The other selected song was Spain‘s Barei with ‘Say Yay’, which deservedly won an uncompetitive national final. There is the potential for fans to get overexcited by this one too: a dance song from a popular, old-school Eurovision contestant. But there are also red flags for the juries: the song’s uninspired beat and lyrical banality. I’m not hopeful of its chances in May either, but I’m not quite willing to condemn it to a lowly place on the scoreboard until I see the staging in rehearsals. I think it can at least be made to seem relevant in this era of Jess Glynne, whereas I don’t think that’s possible at all for ‘Loin d’Ici’.
Let us know your continuing thoughts below.