I’ve often featured talent from Sweden’s most-watched television event, Melodifestivalen. You’ll be hard pressed to find a famous pop artist from the Nordic nation not to have been involved with the competition at some point in their career. It runs for six weeks and acts as a process to select country’s Eurovision entry.
This year saw the return of the hugely popular Eric Saade – one of the biggest names in Swedish pop from the last decade. And while he was declared as the runner-up eventually, he delivered one of the most experimental and avant-garde performances ever to be seen on the show’s 62-year old history.
Victoria is putting Bulgaria on the world pop map with this sensational release. A talent who initially shot to fame earlier in the year as the country’s representative for the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest (which ended up being cancelled due to Corona), she is now back with a follow-up single that is one of the finest pieces of dark pop that I have listened to all month.
Did you watch the Eurovision special ‘Shine A Light’ yesterday evening? It was a broadcast that went all across Europe as a replacement to this year’s cancelled Eurovision Song Contest. It was a sombre reminder of the state of affairs that we are all going through now. But it also showed the hope and resilience humanity has, and still found a way to celebrate music. This performance from last year’s winner was quite gorgeous, so I’m sharing it with you all. I hope you enjoy.
If you are familiar with your Swedish pop you may recognise that one half of ohFrank is Robin Stjernberg, singer and songwriter extraordinaire. This sound marks a slight shift from Robin’s sound, with a playful and lighthearted take on indie pop that is perfect for the summer months ahead.
“We want to give an honest reflection of the world we live in. To inspire culture shifts, invite or force change, to make people think. Music used to stand for something and be the great observer of society – we want to try and bring that back.”
In addition to being a mega-talented songwriter (having worked on the likes of Jasmine Sokko, The Mamas (Eurovision 2020), Leonora (Eurovision 2019) plus two winner songs for Swedish Idol (being ‘Rain’ by Tusse and ‘Treading Water’ by Chris Kläfford), Melanie Wehbe is a talented singer in her own right.
We could be seeing one of the brightest Swedish exports to emerge for some time, with a subtle pop sound that’s easy to connect with, no matter who you are or what you enjoy listening to.
“I think most of us are familiar with the feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness. The frustration that appears when we realise that we can’t change a situation or a relationship. At the end of the day we know nothing at all.”
Admittedly this isn’t something I usually feature on the site but it’s such a pop banger that I had to share it with you. Specially in these grim times, a bop like this could lift the spirits a little.
The song features KEiiNO – who placed first with the public vote at Eurovision 2019 with ‘Spirit In The Sky’ while Electric Fields are an ARIA-nominated outfit who merge Aboriginal culture with electro sounds.
“I instantly remembered the half-written song I never finished, and suddenly it all made sense. Part two. ‘Raw Stuff’ instantly falls into two parts. The first half is my side of miscommunication, and the second my reaction to hearing they felt the same.”
I stumbled across this dark pop gem from Lithuania over the weekend (it’s competing to represent the country in Eurovision this year). While it’s sung in its native language it felt too good not to share.
You may have heard of Eurovision? If you haven’t then check the link and read more about it. Anyway, Albania has competed a few times (with varying degrees of success), and this week saw the start of their competition to select the song that will go on to represent the country for Eurovision in May 2020.
Tonight saw Elvana Gjata perform her entry, and as you can see – it’s not in the budget or scale of a Dua Lipa production but there’s no denying this kid has something special.
We’ll find out on Sunday night if she was successful in having her performance represent Albania at Eurovision.
It’s the start of Eurovision week (i.e. the world’s biggest music show), and for someone who follows the show for the fun rather than the music, this year I’ve been surprised by the number of countries submitting songs that could easily be on radio playlists.
Here’s some which have stood out to me – and as it happens, these are the main favourites to win…. Maybe Eurovision is starting to push for more current sounds again?
Duncan Lawrence – Netherlands (intense, minimal ballad with haunting elements).
Mahmood – Italy (my personal favourite this year from a talent who was featured in the past, this is punchy pop with angst).
Katerine Duska – Greece (the most beautifully melodic indie pop, along the lines of Florence & The Machine with a distinctive vocal).
Conan Osiris – Portugal (the most conceptual and idiosyncratic song this year, this feels better suited to an art installation at Tate Modern than Eurovision).
Michela – Malta (if Dua Lipa had a go at Eurovision, this would absolutely be it).
Hatari – Iceland (this has caused the biggest reaction this year- nothing is off limits with this group… It’s a bold electro/ goth/ synth sound that makes an impact from the start)
John Lundvik – Sweden (gospel pop with a mildly euphoric edge).
Luca Hänni – Switzerland (this is your standard bubblegum pop with big beats and catchy hooks).
A slightly unusual post this time… Michela is the latest winner for Malta’s edition of X Factor. Aside from a strong set of vocals on this talent, she’s also been selected to represent the country at this year’s Eurovision with a song that feels quite current for the show.
While she didn’t win (the song she performed was considered ahead of it’s time for a music contest that has a notorious reputation for showing off the Continent’s cheesier side), she has continued to develop her uniquely dark pop sound…
Let’s get this straight first – Eurovision (to those who aren’t familiar, this is a huge annual TV contest that Europe takes part in every May where one European country – or Australia – tries to win with a song) is notorious for showing off more cheese than edgy music. This year though, truth be told, there is a decent selection of some fun pop tracks…
Sweden – Dance You Off
Good – This is probably as edgy as Eurovision gets this year. Also, it’s from the team at the hugely successful TEN music production company.
Bad – Sweden do so well in this contest that the expectations are always so high for them.
Cyprus – Fuego
Good – Catchy, sassy sound.
Bad – Probably won’t translate well on a large arena stage.
Israel – TOY
Good – Easy, fun pop.
Bad – Chicken sounds?
Belgium – A Matter Of Time
Good – Belgium is forging a reputation for performing well-produced, minimal pop to this contest.
Bad – It’s probably too understated for a show that relies on big performances.
The show goes live on the 12th May from Lisbon. Here’s more.