Eurovision 2016: Dansk Melodi Grand Prix

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.

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79 comments to Eurovision 2016: Dansk Melodi Grand Prix

  • My only feeling is that we can often pay far too much attention to blogs, that said I’ve gone in on Anja too, but probably not as much as you have 🙂

  • Hippo

    On first listen I thought Anja Nissen too from a typical Danish selection. That said, I’ve gone for lighthouse x, despite the fact that rehearsals have been poor. I don’t think last year’s result will have tamed Denmark’s love for boybands and there’s enough of a chance Simone and Anja will just take votes from each other, leaving the door open a little.

  • Ben Cook

    I didn’t see the Austrian entry as dated. It reminds me of Indila’s “Derniere danse”, which was a massive hit across Europe a couple years ago. I also thought she had that sort of Emmelie de Forrest twinkle in her eye star quality. Not that I think it’ll win, but could do quite well.

  • Hippo

    Nice to see Mary Berry presenting from the Melodi Grand Prix greenroom.

  • Lighthouse X win in Denmark, it screams jury save in the semi and bottom 5 in the final. They really haven’t learnt their lesson from last year.

    • Hippo

      Well I’m glad to be on target with my prediction for this one. Denmark consistently send some of my personal least favourite entries and this year is no different. I see on Betfair exchange the odds for Denmark to win have more than doubled, the Denmark winning in Sweden tradition can be 100% put to bed now.
      In terms of my prediction, I’ll give them 13th in the semi for now.

      • eurovicious

        Agree with all of this. Brinck beating Hera Björk’s Someday in 2009 was the start of a long trend. Whither the era of Tommy Seebach, Birthe Kjaer, Kirsten & Soren? Why isn’t Denmark fun anymore? You’d never know from its impossibly bland contemporary ESC entries that Denmark is the country that gave us Aqua, Junior Senior etc. – and of course this:

    • Ande

      To be fair Simone was very bland in the final.

      What make you so sure juries will go for Lighthouse in the semi?

  • George

    Well that’s Denmark completely out of the running. I think it will qualify, it’s better than last year’s effort but both Simone and Anja would have done better. I guess we’ve learnt something about the demographics of DMGP!

  • Hippo

    Rykka with Last of our Kind has won in Switzerland.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UQEHUpuGBAc

    I dismissed this pretty much before but I think it’s better than Belgium, Denmark and certainly Belarus in semi 2 and more mainstream than Georgia so I’ll be optimistic and say marginal qualifier.

  • Daniel was right, Danes clap. Simples!

  • Shai

    Someone on a Dutch site has noticed the similarity of the Danish Entry to the entry: Atemlos durch die Nacht.
    Especially the start of the chorus is alarmingly similar.
    I leave you to be the judge of this

  • Looks like I made the right choice going out tonight.

    I feel like Simba coming back to Pride Rock after Scar took over.

    • Looks like I too made the right choice by switching over from MGP last night cos I was bored to tears by it. I compounded my win by not bothering to sit through San Remo. Apparently the winning act turned down the Eurovision gig, so they now have to go off and decide who they’re going to pick as an Ann Sophie.

  • Eesti Laul is the saviour of the NF season this year it seems.

    Doubt we’ll see this in Stockholm, but two big thumbs up for execution here.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M7ukv2aFgk

    Meanwhile Laura has both delivered her entry to a decent standard while also proving she is truly a crap singer. The holograms are cool but they could’ve done a lot more with that.

    • eurovicious

      This is Sven Löhmus doing a lesser version of “Destiny”, his similar Eesti Laul 2009 entry performed by Laura. Her vocal in that was poor too. This time she has Kitty Brucknell’s light-up dress and some half-hearted holograms, but the song’s nowhere near as good. The only thing I liked in Eesti Laul last night was Seis.

    • I really like the song, but dear god it sounds really messy live.

      Just cements my theory that Juri has the NF in the bag.

      I also really liked Seis, pity that you know the Estonian public would never have the guts to send it to Eurovision.

  • Quick summary from me of the recent picks:

    Denmark – people who like non-threatening boy bands (i.e. not me) will love it and everyone else will nod off. We’re not going to be in Copenhagen in 2017.

    Switzerland – Nice enough, but there’ll be a dozen other songs like that in Stockholm, and it may not stand out. Plus Switzerland has a lacklustre record in the contest. I’ll agree with Hippo and say marginal qualifier/non-qualifier.

    Austria – I must confess, I quite like this. I wouldn’t call it original, but it’s hard to dislike. I’ll go with marginal qualifier.

    Overall, apart from Iceland (yes, I know they haven’t officially picked yet, but they’ll be mad to go for anyone other than Greta Salome) I’d say there’s no obvious favourites at the moment.

  • George

    Francesca Michielin for Italy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXE-aTIIG30

    Not sure if she’ll definitely be singing this yet.

    • Good song, but singing in Italian seems to drag their scores down (see: Emma Marrone). That’s a shame because it shouldn’t, but it does. Yes, I know Il Volo finished third last year, but everyone expects opera to be in Italian.

      My guess is she’ll score undeservedly low (though that assumption is based on that being what she’ll sing, which as you say isn’t confirmed).

      • Hippo

        I don’t think Italian drags down scores at all, in fact I think it helps. There’s a certain romanticism associated with Italian which is partly why Il Volo and Marco Mengoni (10th in televote with such a poorly staged song and no voting allies is quite an achievement) did so well. I don’t think that translates to female performers though which may explain Nina Zilli and like you say Emma Marrone (whilst Emma was one of my favourites that year, it could definitely be seen as really tacky which I think hurt it a lot more).

        Anyway, I agree with this song Italy don’t have much hope, maybe 16th to 19th.

        • George

          I think it has less to do with the gender of the performer and more to do with the style of the song. This song is worlds apart from Nina’s and Emma’s efforts and much more comparable to Marco’s. I can see it being comfortably on the left hand side of the scoreboard, especially if this year becomes infested with modern, uptempo tracks – a classic ballad such as this will really stand out.

      • Black n Blue

        La Mia Citta was album filler. There were far better songs off of her 2014 album.

  • Meanwhile in Latvia, Markus Riva won the second heat with only 19% of the vote, with the second place getting 16%. They may as well not bother with the next two shows and hand Justs the trophy already, give the empty time slots to the Beaver for his own show.

  • Charlie Clark

    Strongly thibk that this year it’s Malta’s turn to win the Eurovision. The team behind Ira Losco is not going to leave any stones unturned. Heared it through the grapvine that the budget is unlimited for the production. So go ahead and place your bets…..

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jtmp-9DIJ5M

    Here’s a video of the ESC 2016 stage design, there’s more photos on eurovision.tv, it looks really cool, it also looks like it’s gonna be a big stage which could hurt the more “intimate” songs, especially as there’s no catwalk.

    • Hippo

      Looks like there will be a lot to play with, maybe a bit too much for some. I think it’s a great stage for Latvia for example. Modern sound, modern stage, I can just imagine those overhanging bits giving a great heartbeat impression. Italy and Netherlands probably the loosers from this, I think the more gentle, old fashioned style songs might suffer.

  • Henry VIII

    The dire quality of songs this year makes me realise how lucky we were last year. At this stage last year it was a constant reveal of great songs. Anyway, it’s still fun and there may even be some good stuff yet to come.

  • Charlie Clark

    Ira will not be participating with CHAMELEON, grapevine tells me she’s changing the song….

  • Hippo

    Georgia has gone for Midnight Gold. I like this and would have been my pick, it makes a nice change from a lot of the average and expectable so far and kudos to Georgia for pushing the boat out again. Sadly, I’m guessing it won’t qualify, juries will probably kill it and I don’t think it’s niche can see it through. 15th in semi 2 my guess for now.

    • My first thoughts on listening to Midnight Gold were that the 19 year old me who used to obsess over obscure indie bands would have loved this.

      Sadly, I have to agree that it probably won’t qualify, but God bless them for doing something a bit different in what’s turning into a rather monochrome year.

  • The top 5 on Betfair’s outright at the moment needs to sort itself out. Germany, Australia and Latvia all neck and neck when they really shouldn’t be. The market appears quite pathetically frustrated. ‘Youniverse’ leaking appears to have caused it.

    • Hippo

      Australia are way too short. I think the novelty of them participating will wear off very quick and I’m not sure they’ll be welcomed quite as much, in the East in particular, when it is clearly to the detriment of other countries.
      Sweden are too short as well, there’s no way they’re winning this year unless there’s something fantastic in semi three (which I strongly doubt). Latvia and Germany seem about right to me, and everything else looks fair apart from Russia being too low as well.

      Special mention to Albania though. It’s a decent effort and usual the song will be refreshed, tidied up and switched to English. 330/1 looks very harsh with a large Balkan block. I’m not saying it can win, but it seems very underestimated and one I’ll be looking at when the to qualify markets and others start to take shape.

      • Hippo, I think it will be best if you view Australia as a normal participant and don’t consider them being ‘welcome’ or not. That’s a very fan-bubble mindset.

        • Hippo

          I certainly won’t be bearing a negative factor against them personally when they choose their entry and I don’t think most of Europe will either. However, if one or two jurors do (and jurors seem pettier than most based on the full brakedown of previous years)from the countries that don’t get through semi 2 they’ll take a hit under this ranking system.
          Like you say they are a normal competitor, and with little to go off in terms of block support, not much diaspora either and just the one performance and set of voting data to analyse , I’d find them hard to back at the same price as Latvia or Germany without any indication of the act or song.

  • Hippo

    Cryptic teaser from Ebu:

    “Change is coming! The Eurovision Song Contest is about to get a lot more exciting! Tomorrow, 10:00 CET on Eurovision.tv”

    I hope it’s not a guest participant like China or something or something really crazy like a nine points.

    Best case we’re going back to the previous jury/televote split.

    • Previous televote/jury split would be awful for the contest imo, it would just lead to the likes of Cyprus/Greece, Moldova/Romania guaranteeing each other 12 points again. It makes people’s criticism of the contest voting somewhat justified.

      I think the current system is fairer as it produces more “deserving” outcomes. If the objective is to appeal to both televoters and juries, then that’s what entries should set out to achieve. I don’t think it’s fair for countries to do well just by appealing to just one of the two constituencies.

      • Hippo

        The ability for juries to kill favourites for no apparent reason is worse I think. Netherlands to Armenia in 2014 I think, and a few last year to Russia and Italy placing them 23rd and lower. When powerful countries entered terrible entries (Russia 2011) they got what they deserved even in that system.

      • George

        While in principle what you say is true, the fact of the matter is televoters can not actively vote “against” any song whereas jurors can and it is clear that certain juries have been doing so (Armenia in 2014 voting down all of their competitors, for example). Until it gets to the point where televoters can rank the songs in the same way as the juries through the app I think the current system is unbalanced. I would also say that the 11th to 26th placings don’t matter when it comes to giving the actual votes so nor should they matter when calculating them.

      • eurovicious

        The 2000-2008 system doesn’t work at all as diaspora wins every time, but neither does the 2013- system as it amounts to effective fraud when there’s zero correspondence between the public vote and the results, to the extent that the song that wins a country’s paid televote can get 0 points. The 2010-2012 was as good as it’s ever gonna get, and the contest needs to go back to it.

    • I’d bet my money it’s the voting. SVT previously said they were looking at changing how the votes are presented to make it more “exciting”.

    • Changing the way the votes are revealed would be fine by me, as long as it’s not the way they’re determined. If it’s true, perhaps we’ll get a preview of how it’ll work at the Melodifestivalen final.

    • This is something I thought they could do a couple of years ago. Reveal the points of just the juries in the normal way with spokespersons, then lump the points from the televote together and the host just announces them right at the end like a democratic upsetting of the scoreboard.

      Not in such a way that 1 point x 43 countries = 43 points, but simply add an entirely seperate scoreboard on top.

      Obviously this will mean huge winning scores and virtually bids goodbye to the prospect of ‘Nul Points’ but it’s certainly one way to make things more exciting.

      I want a cookie if I’m right.

    • Black n Blue

      One change that could ruffle a few feathers would be a Superfinal. The same 50/50 voting split to determine the result as usual, than let the public decide the winner in a flash-vote from the top three. Although a long-shot, it’s interesting how most national finals have something like this in practice already, and maybe SVT could latch onto it.

      Chocolate chip, Ben? 🙂

    • Ben Cook

      Why would returning to an old voting system be heralded as something “exciting”?

    • Ben Cook

      This is the best song I’ve heard this season.

    • Chris Bellis

      Agreed. Worth a go I think. Polish Sia/Rihanna tribute. Should do very well if she can perform it live. Anyone got any info re her live vocals?

    • Hippo

      Looks like I’m in the minority but I find it repetitive, overproduced and irritating and It can get found out live. Not a patch on Edyta in my view.

      • Hippo, you’re not entirely in the minority, as I agree with what you said there.

        At this rate Greta Salome could take the win purely on the basis of being the only act that particularly stands out.

      • eurovicious

        I don’t think this is top 10 material, it may not even win the NF. It doesn’t appear to be vocally driven or particularly emotive, it’s repetitive, Poland has a poor record, and Rihanna-esque/Rita Ora-esque songs like this are 10-a-penny in some countries – this could have been taken straight off Albanian radio, it sounds exactly like Enca Haxhia or Dafina Zeqiri.

  • Henry VIII

    I very much hope the change is not to do with the vote reveal. I think they like it the way it is, it provides for excitement and prevents a foregone conclusion.

    Hippo you shouldn’t hope that the change isn’t China as guest, as the Chinese are huge gamblers and the ESC markets would grow.

    • Ande

      How do you feel about it now? I feel it’s for the better…

    • eurovicious

      I’m wholly on-board with it. It’s well thought-through and solves a range of problems. Let’s see how it works out. It’s basically the same as in the Melfest final and thus de-facto a return to the 2010-2012 system, except fairer still – every televote counts, and countries like Albania and San Marino can’t send corrupt jury-only votes anymore. It makes our lives easier as the televote and jury vote once again complement each other (as in 2010-2012) not cancel each other out (as in 2013-2015). Now do I start gambling again?

  • Hippo

    It really is a big change

    :http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=biggest_change_to_eurovision_song_contest_voting_since_1975

    I’m onboard initially but I’ll have a good look latee.

  • Ande

    What if a country cannot deliver a valid televoting result?

    “Both jury and televoting award 1 to 8, 10, and 12 points in each country. In order to secure the 50/50 balance between jury and televoting a national jury result cannot be used as backup result for the televoting. Therefore, if – for whatever reason – a country cannot deliver a valid televoting result, a substitute result is calculated by the audience result of a pre-selected group of countries. These groups and their composition have been pre-approved by the EBU and the Reference Group.”

    Same with juries.

  • WHERE’S MY COOKIE?

    Ok but seriously. I think this is good. It’s still fair, but there’s no emphasis on consensus as with the 2013-2015 system, and there’s no emphasis on compromise as with the 2010-2012 system. It’s a raw combination.

    Only thing that does leave a bit sadface is that the spokesperson will only read out 12 points now. 10-1 will be spread out on screen as 7-1 used to be.

    The EBU hasn’t quite made clear though how the televoting points will be added on…

    Do we have a separate scoreboard of raw televoting points that is simply added on to the jury scoreboard? (In other words, follow this link, and you will see a pop-open box on the right to click, revealing the split jury/televote points in the 2015 final. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest_2015#Final_2 … are we now simply adding these together?)

    Or will they be doing it the way they seem to do it in Melodifestivalen, where the host announces something like “we have 9.67% of the European/Australian televote and by our calculations this magically transforms into 64 points? 64 points go to…. Lithuania!” sort of thing?

    I REALLY hope its the former because doing it the second way would, I feel, give the individual televoter less power than they already have. What’s more, a calculation from percentage into Eurovision points wouldn’t always be perfect, and god forbid you could, in theory, have producers re-allocating one or two points to another country to pip someone at the post if they don’t like the result, but the audience has to accept it because we can’t hold those calculations to account.

    • https://youtu.be/Wd_RHS3f5-4

      The video says that the televote will be added like in MF, basically all the televote points will be combined and will be announced in ascending order, so they leave the televote winner until last

      Anyway, I’m on board with this change.

      • Yeah, that much is clear, but it doesn’t explain where they get the points from. I distinctly remember that in Melodifestivalen, although I don’t understand what the host is saying, a percentage flashes up on screen, indicating percentage of televote, and then it changes into a number which we’re supposed to just accept is correct?

        So I hope they are actually just adding on raw televoting points as though they come from a separate scoreboard.

    • Black n Blue

      Does this mean we could see a record winning score this year, since points are being aggregated rather than averaged out?

      I’m all for the change, but am still a little in the dark over how the presentation of votes will play out, and whether they’ll be using percentage-to-points televotes like you’ve said, Ben.

      • If they are doing a raw combination like they should be, and like escXtra’s editorial seems to assume, then yes indeed, twice as many points will be on offer this year, making winning scores easily in excess of 500 points and virtually bidding goodbye to the prospect of nul points.

        That is, unless, the host has to read out the televoting and say “the UK got 0 points from the televote”. Ouch. XD
        (I doubt it.. they will probably just chuck the bottom 10 on the scoreboard from the televotes straight away)

        …The more I think about it, the more I think it’s going to be a hell of a lot of on screen information to follow and process.

    • Black n Blue

      What sounds good about this aggregate system is the way the placing of a country, with more points on offer is more accurate. Last year, you could see that six countries hoovered up the big points, with marginal scores separating 10th down to last. There’ll be a greater disparity in scores now.
      I don’t mind the loss of nul points really. Neither Austria or Germany deserved it in 15′, and quite frankly one of the reasons what was happening at the bottom of the scoreboard interested people, was because the result at the top had already been decided, which is all set to change.

      All in all, it’s an exciting prospect 🙂

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