Over the weekend, both Sweden and Norway went and selected their entries to the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, following Iceland and Finland’s selections the weekend before, and Denmark’s entry the previous month. Meaning we now have all five of the Nordic Eurovision entries for this year’s contest.
At Eurovision, the five nations have varying track records in recent years. Iceland are at an all time low, having failed to qualify for the final over the last three years. And Finland are in the same position, though we’re not sure we’d call that an all time low too, given the dire periods they’ve gone through at Eurovision in the past. Norway and Denmark have experienced mixed success over the last few years, like most countries. Whereas Sweden have finished in the top five of the final, in six years of the past seven. Which is quite incredible really.
Regardless of where they end up placing in the contest though, all five Nordic nations can normally be relied upon by pop fans, to bring something special to Eurovision every year. Or at the very least, a decent pop song from three out of the five in any given year.
Now that we’ve been presented with all five for 2018’s ESC, we can take a look at what the Nordic territory is contributing to the contest in May. The great, the good, and the not so good.
Alexander Rybak – That’s How You Write A Song
Who? The iconic Eurovision winner and record holder for the most points received, like, ever, is back for a second shot at winning the whole thing.
What? A ghastly chunk of putrid cheese that’s a concoction of folk, pop, kitchen sink production ‘qualities’, and smarm. Norway are very proud of this artist (and rightly so), but that pride has resulted in them sending a name to a song contest. They fully deserve to sit out this year’s final, and Alexander Rybak’s legacy fully deserves to be tainted forever. Awful.
Marks out of ten? 0
Ari Ólafsson – Our Choice
Who? A fresh young talent who has already made a name for himself in musical theatre and as a contestant on The Voice of Iceland.
What? A ballad, timeless as it is, the likes of which haven’t been heard since Westlife were still churning out albums. It’s very Eurovision, albeit 1998. And while the 90s are very much back in fashion right now, we’re not entirely sure if that includes the notion of reminiscing over Eurovision ballads of that era. It’s not bad, but it’s Iceland’s weakest Eurovision effort in some time. And probably their only hope of qualifying to the final is if plenty of Mums around Europe are watching semi final 1 in May.
Marks out of ten? 6
Rasmussen – Higher Ground
Who? Ginger Viking.
What? An epic Scandi ballad. Film soundtrack fodder, and with a dramatic performance to match the cinematic feel of the song. Contains a key change. And we reckon the novelty of a Nordic nation going full Viking on the Eurovision stage is going to be enough to get a lot of people across the continent voting for this entry. Obviously though it helps if the song is up to scratch too. Which this one definitely is.
Marks out of ten? 8
Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off
Who? The crown prince of the Wahlgren/Ingrosso dynasty. Benjamin made a bid for pop stardom back in late 2015 and has been churning out top tune after top tune ever since. He’s turned out to be a superb pop star, both in the quality of the songs he’s putting out and the personality he backs them up with. It was only a matter of time before he won Melodifestivalen and headed to Eurovision for Sweden. But here we are already.
What? A slick contemporary pop production that sits very well today at the top of the Spotify chart in Sweden. Comparisons to Justin Timberlake are lazy, and besides – ‘Dance You Off’ is much better than anything on Timberlake’s new album. Our favourite bit is where it goes all The Weeknd/Daft Punk in the middle eight. This could well give Sweden yet another Top 5 finish at Eurovision in May. And the song itself is backed by a staging set-up that is highly unikely to be rivalled by any of the other 42 countries competing.
Marks out of ten? 8
Saara Aalto – Monsters
Who? Perennial runner-up Saara Aalto hot-footed it over to the UK a couple of year back to try her hand at British X Factor. She finished second. But she made a big name for herself in the UK, and elevated herself to superstar status in her native Finland. This year the Finnish broadcaster YLE binned their usual UMK national final format, and selected Saara as the artist to represent them at Eurovision 2018. With three songs to be presented to the Finnish voting public to select.
What? The winning song of those three options – ‘Monster’. A dancepop track with a hefty injection of kitsch and camp. And crafted in such as way so as to allow Saara to fully show off her impressive vocals. The staging of the song in its national final did come under a lot of scrutiny from Euro fans, though it still won comfortably. Nevertheless, an overhaul of the performance is expected ahead of Lisbon in May. This song is something special. It needs to be presented as such.
Marks out of ten? 9