This weekend sees the final round of national final fun for the 2018 season. The Lithuanian competition enters it’s 22nd and final week, a mediocre Melodifestivalen will draw to a close but most importantly Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix is set to produce the most exciting selection of the lot. With returning artists, quality songs and fan favourites MGP could well have saved the best for last. Dominating the coverage of their whole process though, is one major story: the return of one man and his violin.
Having spent the 9 years since his victory popping up in interval acts, impersonating Conchita and wailing about dying equines (see above) Alexander Rybak has decided to return to MGP this year. Saturday will see him attempt to earn his place at Lisbon with the trades description baiting, ‘That’s How You Write a Song’. Since the selection was released back in January ‘That’s How You Screw up a Song’ has been placed as one of the favourites to win, thanks in no small part to Rybak’s significant popularity in Norway. You may have guessed I’m not the song’s biggest fan but I wanted to see how I’d feel after it got the 60 Minute treatment. Usual rules apply: no phone, no distractions, just the same song 20 times.
If I’m honest I had done all I could to avoid ‘That’s How You Ruin a Legacy’ after it was first released nearly two months ago. Whilst a number of the other MGP entries have become firm favourites on this year’s playlist I had given Rybak the swerve. It took only one listen to remember just how irritatingly corny it is and how the next 57 minutes would be a living hell. There were some parts of the song that I had completely forgotten…or perhaps repressed. When you start to scat in your potential Eurovision entry you know you’re in some fairly dubious company.
With each subsequent listen every weird aspect of this song only served to grate even further. The track feels like it’s been lifted from a mid-2000s fabric softener ad, the violin feels crow-barred in rather than fitting the song and the lyrics, the lyrics are God awful. A quick Google search of step-by-step guides for songwriting calls into question Rybak’s helpful advice. Several books and online guides can be found with far more substantial support than Alec’s recommended 2 step programme. Whilst I’ve never turned my hand to songwriting I suspect there’s a little more to it than having an idea and then simply ‘rolling with it’. The less said about “enjoy the small things, in time they will get big” the better!
Bizarrely I did find myself tapping along for the final 30 seconds of each listen. By the end of the hour I could even begin to see why people like this song. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t care for it myself but I can see it’s freakish appeal. Perhaps I had been ground down to a sufficient degree that I had succumb to Rybak’s powers. If only there were some kind of Scandanavian based name for this phenomenon. Bergen Bug? Molde Malady? Stavanger Sickness?
All this Scandifun brings me to the most annoying aspect of the whole experience. Every time I repeated “That’s How You Split a Fandom” YouTube’s autoplay tried to move on to Ida Maria’s ‘Scandilove’. As if to taunt me Google was tempting me away from this nightmare with my favourite song of the whole 2018 season. For the love of all that’s Lys Assia Norway please send Ida! Or Rebecca. Or Stella & Alexandra. Or Aleksander, Nicoline, Tom, Charla, Alejandro or Vidar. Just not Rybak.