Sunday, April 26, 2015

Notes from National Finals: Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, Denmark

February 7th arrived, the first of the 'Super Saturdays' with a number of heats and semi-finals going on all over Europe.  However I had made my decision.  After making the horrible mistake of missing last year's DMGP final, I made sure that this was going to be my main viewing choice this time round.

Laptop wired up to the TV (this was in the days before I finally got my Chromecast to work) and I even persuaded my mum to watch some of this.  However she was quite bamboozled by the sound of the Danish language spoken by presenters Esben Bjerre and Jacob Riising!

DMGP is a one night only contest, which is a rarity in a time of never-ending heats and semi-finals. But would it be all killer and no filler?  Not quite, but you're always guaranteed that DR will put on a good show on a grand scale.  This year's host venue was the appropriately named Gigantium in Aalborg.

But would the songs be as gigantic in quality?

1. "Love Me Love Me" - Sara Sukurani

A lively Eastern-flavoured opener, co-written by Arash, Unfortunately the song is just too generic - "My Number One" and all its copies all thrown into a great big blender and this came out.  Sara is an enthusiastic performer but her orange and grey dress does her no favours, and could they not have chosen another colour instead of grey for the backing dancers' outfits?

2.  "Mi Amore" - Tina and Rene.

And in a moment like this (!) it's time for Tina and Rene.

Mum: This is more like it.
Laura: Unfortunately it's also more like another song which represented Denmark 5 years ago.
M: If they sent the same song do you think anyone would notice the difference?
L: We fans would!  Have to say I actually prefer this song to In a Moment Like This.

3.  "Nar Vejde Kryses" - Marcel and Soulman Group.

Firstly, I'm glad to finally hear a song in the Danish language.  Marcel certainly has an interesting style, but he is probably better than the song, which probably belongs to the "Love Power"/"Even If" school of "let's do a funky/soulful song for Eurovision".  This song doesn't really go anywhere. Next!

4.  "Hotel A" - Cecilie Alexandra.

I'm feeling a Joe le Taxi vibe from this.  Crikey, there's even an accordion solo. It's all just too sweet and twee and a bit of a cynical attempt to do well.  Written by Swedes.

M: Sometimes something simple works best.
L: I just think it's too lightweight, too flimsy, to work at Eurovision.  And a bit too desperate to please voters.

Trine Jepsen then makes an appearance, and I didn't even recognise her.  Meanwhile mum has developed an obsession with Jacob's collar: she thinks it's far too tight.  She also thinks the postcards are too long!

5. "Love is Love" - Andy Roda.

Never thought much of this from the pre-show clips, but for some strange reason it seemed to click with me.  And there was even an undressing dancer gimmick.  It's not great, but it's ok. Mum is getting a bit restless though.

M: Has this programme got long to go?

Rene swallows an egg.  As you do.  But not even this can distract my mum from the real pressing issue of the evening.  Jacob's collar, to be precise.

6. "Tæt på mine drømme" - Julie Bjerre.

Julie is so youthful that she looks as if she belongs in Junior ESC, but she brings a welcome freshness and enthusiasm to the evening with her light and summery pop song. This was very nice.

7.  "The Way You Are" - Anti Social Media.

For a band with a name like Anti Social Media you'd expect them to look a bit edgy.  They look anything but.  The song is catchy but safe.  Mum's delivered her verdict.

M: He looks so square.  Like one of those singers who was around before rock n'roll came along.
L: I think they might want to be the Beatles.  I find him quite annoying to look at.  This song sounds like something McFly might do.

8. "Suitcase" - Anne Gadegaard.

This seems to be one of the pre-contest favourites.  No dancers or backing singers, Anne is accompanied by a solo guitarist sitting on the 'suitcase' of the song's title.

She has a very nice voice and the song is quite sweet, although maybe a little too lightweight. Nevertheless I could see this one working on a Eurovision stage.

9.  "Manjana" - Babou.

This is quite an agreeable boybandish tune, and mum is quite taken with it.
M: This is lively! (nodding head) Manjana! Manjana!
L: It sounds like something else.
M: I like this,

10.  "Summer Without You" - World of Girls

Yes, it's a country-pop hybrid, and to labour the point the girls are dressed in check shirts for this Avicii-influenced number. Their performance is a bit of a let-down.  There is a fake ending.  I expected a much slicker performance of this, but it fell short of my expectations.

Mum quotes the lyrics disapprovingly.
L: It's a no from me.

So that's it for the songs.

Songs over, recap time, and a visit to Vienna by the two presenters.

During the recap, mum decides that Mi Amore has a good chance as it is "more Eurovision" than some of the other songs.

The jury voting is dispatched very quickly.  The jury spokespersons are some very familiar faces.  By the way it was nice to see the lovely Tim Schou again!  I wonder if he would ever return to DMGP as a solo artist in the future?

I really can't be doing with children singing on stage, and this seems to be some kind of DMGP Junior anthem thing, I don't know, my mind is wandering.  We also get a very welcome performance by last year's DMGP winner Basim.  But Basim aside, DR seem to have totally neglected the concept of a quality interval act.  I guess DR had no money left after putting on tonight's extravaganza?

So on to the big finale: the result of the televote.  Despite "Suitcase" winning the televote, the total points gathered are not enough to defeat Anti Social Media, who will represent Denmark in Vienna with "The Way You Are".  It's a catchy pop song a la McFly, but unfortunately it doesn't have that something special.  The song is just too safe and bland.  As for the band, their singer looks like a posh schoolboy and the whole staging of this needs some serious restyling if they're to make the final.

M: This song is too repetitive.  And he looks like a....librarian.  

(If any librarians are reading this, I would sincerely like to apologise).

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