In a surprise to absolutely no one (maybe not Gebrasy’s nearest and dearest, but actually even they probably knew) 2020 returning artist, The Roop, won Pabandom iš Naujo and will represent Lithuania in May with their song Discoteque. Whilst stating they won is wholly factually accurate, it still feels like a massive understatement.

Firstly, they scored a maximum jury score from the seven strong panel. Now that in itself is nothing new, it was a feat achieved as recently as 2019 by John Lundvik in Melodifestivalen. It was the public televote where the returning act hammered home their advantage. In a hypothetical world in which PiN had a superfinal and every other vote not for the Roop had gone to the second placed Gebrasy, the runner up would still have been nearly 63000 votes short of The Roop’s total. The victors achieved a public vote win percentage higher than that of Rybak in the 2009 Melodi Grand Prix. It’s fair to say, that’s how you win a national final!

Four weeks of shows summed up in as many seconds

Ukraine joined Lithuania in confirming their entry for May’s Contest. Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC confirmed last week their returning 2020 artist, Go_A, would be performing ШУМ. This is translated to Shum, shumtimes the translations don’t sound great. Never one to shy away from confusion Ukraine even managed to inject a pointlessly odd public process into what should have been a fairly straightforward internal selection. I summed it up on Twitter last week.

“So they released a song that people thought was their entry but were then told it wasn’t their entry and their entry would be revealed in March until the broadcaster announced Vidbir 2021 but it wouldn’t be televised and we wouldn’t get to hear all the songs and they announced the jurors and then released snippets and everyone still liked the song they had liked a week earlier so the jurors surprised nobody by picking the song that a week earlier wasn’t going to be the Eurovision song so I have uncomfortable question. Ukraine… needlessly complicated?”

Returning to this week’s national finals the showbiz juggernaut that is Sweden’s Melodifestivalen got underway. As with every televised selection this year I have a great deal of respect for SVT in getting their big show on our screens. However, in terms of quality of entry it didn’t really get the fires burning. My Melfest balloons were looking a little limp.

On balance, the Swedes probably made the right decisions. Danny Saucedo was always going to make the final, regardless of song quality, and Arvingarna gave the best performance of the night by some distance. Tänker inte alls gå hem had all the cheese of an apre-ski fondue but crucially, the charm to match. The wholesome Dads were my standouts, in no small part thanks to their chorus sounding a wee tad on the rude side to an Anglophone ear. Although the half Nickelback / half “kinda metal” act didn’t quite have the impact I was hoping for, Lillasyster deserved a second shot in Andra Chansen for the sake of variety. Paul Rey was also there. All in all, the songs were fine. Just fine. By the Swedes own high standards they kinda missed the mark. I’m sure the following weeks will improve.

Finally, Norway’s Meoldi Grand Prix held it’s penultimate heat to find another finalist. This was the tightest heat thus far with all songs being of a decent quality and no absolute stinkers (sorry Ketil, my life is still not OK after that). KiiM and his song My Lonely Voice (which I initially thought was My Lovely Voice and as such was gathering all the Father Ted memes) won the day and will join the finalists. Visually, the highlight of the whole night happened during Royane’s Circus. My screenshotting trigger finger was on point on Saturday.

Just a great big scary circus fella with a sparking willy. Naturally.

Whilst Saturday was a busy day in terms of this year’s Contest it was a also an incredibly tragic day, as we lost a member of the Eurovision alumni. Örs Siklósi, lead singer of AWS who competed for Hungary in 2018, passed away from leukaemia, aged only 29.

Lisbon 2018 was an experience I hold close to my heart, and Örs and his mates were a very big part of that. I’ll be forever grateful we have such a wonderful song and performance to remember him by. The lyrics and meaning behind Viszlát nyár only become all the more meaningful after the young man’s passing. All thoughts are with his family, friends and bandmates at this time. Rest in Power Örs lad. 🤘

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