January is a shite month. All the joy and merriment of Christmas & Hogmanay have passed. Your fatter self ends up shivering and penniless as you struggle to even imagine it being light outside at 5pm. The one thing that can power you through this month is the sleeping giant of Eurovision properly waking up. Not long ago May seemed like a distant dream but thanks to a month chocked full of news it feels a lot closer. Now it’s time to take a little look back at 8 things we learned in the last 31 days.

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January. Slavko speaks truth.

1. Norway can put together one hell of a line-up. This year’s Melodi Grand Prix will be graced by a glut of former competitors. Aleksander Walmann of JOWST fame returns with Talk to the Hand & Stella Mwangi will partner Alexandra for ‘You Got Me’. Rebecca’s ‘Who We Are’ is also written by Kjetil Mørland from 2015 and completing this star studded line-up…there’s Rybak. Having won so strongly in 2009 he is now synonymous with victory, Alexander will attempt to return to the Eurovision stage with ‘That’s How You Ruin a Legacy’. Step 1: Get a strong line up including a former winner, Step 2: Choose an awful song and end up doing a Dana.

Finally, in strong National Final tradition I’ve already resolved myself to my favourite not winning. Despite the fact it’s an absolute banger BIATCH!

2. Whigfield’s back! In other Scandi National Final news Denmark have served all 90s kids a fresh slice of pop based nostalgia by including the Saturday Night singer. Going by her real name Sannie she’ll form part of the ten strong National Final taking place on February 10th. This is particularly special for me as the last time I performed on a European stage was singing SN on holiday in Majorca many years ago. Pic provided.

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Strong vocal performance but with the styling he’ll struggle to get out the semi

3. The song that most thought would win the Czech National Final won the Czech National Final. Mikolas Josef will take ‘Lie To Me’ to the stage in Lisbon splitting public opinion as he goes. Whilst I would say in its favour, the song itself is upbeat and memorable especially against such a weak selection it’s certainly not one of my favourites. The lyrics are towards the filthier end of the spectrum and that bit when Josef basically just groans makes me feel rather grubby. One feels if you could catch a more “social disease” aurally then this song would be riddled.

4. Spain did what Spain does.

5. We’re all set up for Finland to return to the Grand Final. Having been ROBBED last year of a Grand Final spot it would seem the stars are aligning for Saara Aalto to heroically rescue the country from it’s recent poor qualifying form. Iceland, Estonia, UK & Ireland all voting in that semi points to a qualification for the first time since 2014. On the flip side any slim hope San Marino may have had is already dead in the water. Drawing in the top half of a semi including four 100% qualifiers gives them very little hope of making it to Saturday night. My idea, cancel 1in360 and just get a Valentina/Serhat/Tony Hadley supergroup for the hottest of hot messes. Who wouldn’t vote for that?

6. The French National Final, Destination Eurovision, should be here to stay. We saw France’s first crack at an NF for a few years and they absolutely nailed it. Semis served their purpose of weeding out the weaker acts leaving us a strong eight act final. It had a tense voting sequence, the customary Christer Bjorkman overlord shot, Jon Ola Sand popped up and most importantly, it had a worthy winner. Although my favourite, Emmy fell short on the night with OK ou KO Mercy is still a very strong selection with a message that deserves a wider audience. I’m just chuffed it wasn’t that really dull number about that lad’s Mum. Because that’s gone down really well before…

Axel
Eurovision friend

7. If the UK doesn’t send Legends it will only serve as further proof we as a nation shouldn’t vote on stuff.

8. Russia took us all by surprise by actually sticking to their word, revealing they will be sending Yulia Samoylova to Lisbon after all. This, of course, opens up a lot of the same issues we had last year which I for one am delighted about. Whilst obviously it’s wonderful for Yulia to achieve her dream one just has to hope she gets a better song this time. Flame is Burning did feel a lot like Russia were phoning it last year knowing fine well the song would never make it to Ukraine. Considering they could send three minutes of silence and still probably qualify it would be a shame if she gets a similar dirge this year for all of Europe to see.

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