Monday, 13 May 2019

Maybe I would lit your world with just one spark

Sweden
John Lundvik
Too Late For Love

The other week, in the middle of a wild, exhilarating weekend of bullying a 16-year-old girl, Toby Young got proper excited when he discovered that climate change activist Greta Thunberg's mum had done Eurovision, calling her "privileged".

That's right folks. A noted eugenicist whose dad got him into Cambridge is arguing that the revelation that a teenager's mum came 22nd in Eurovision in 2009 really means that "climate change" is an elaborate ponzi scheme designed to keep the privileged likes of Rylan Clarke in work. Just wait til he finds out who Emily Atack's mother is.


Anyway, Malena Ernman doing "La Voix" in Russia in 2009 isn't the real scandal. Sweden is the spiritual home of europop, and they really go to town on choosing their song. There's no "Eurovision your decision" or "Unser Star für Vienna" bollocks for them. Their "melodifestivalen" takes weeks, is the country's highest rating TV show and features every big pop star going in the country, spawning whole albums and careers and local radio station parties in parks (Baest Musik Just Nu- Rix FM).

That year's Melfest was rammed. Seriously. Agnes was following up her worldwide smash "Release me" with "Love love love". Velvet really was "The Queen". EMD did the brilliant "Baby goodbye" with those sticks and suits. Even Mans was in there standing for "Hope and Glory". Solid, smooth banger after banger tumbled onto the screen yet still the Swedes went for something with a fun Eurovision gimmick. Something distinctive. Something daring. Something... Swedish.

I love Sweden, see. I love the food. I love the people. I love the fact they enjoy paying tax. Tax is excellent. It's a dirt cheap way of getting good things. I love Ikea, I love Alcazar, I love extensive paid parental leave, and I love five weeks of paid holiday every year by law. I love Lynda Woodruff. I love meatballs, I love gender equality, I love sarcasm, I love social mobility, I love castles with moats, I love Petra Mede, and I love Malmo. And Gothenburg. And Stockholm. And I love their distinctive, daring, spectacular pop.

Last year's entrant Benjamin Ingrosso had light tubes. Mans had cartoon boy with a balloon. Everybody needs a bit of spectacle. Well, not everybody- if you're tolerant enough to not regard the beard as one, Conchita just stood there and belted it out and took the prize. As did Salvadorable. But if your song's not a sweeping bond theme and you're not a bumbling bore doing a Balkan ballad, you deploy staging and spectacle to help your song stand out.

There's all sorts of options. Our skimpy skirt reveal is an oft copied all time classic; the Ukraine's giant hamster wheel was an ideal way to dazzle the audience. The buck rodgers in the 19th century look was amazing; the Xena warrier princess on a night out in Watford look less so. You could try pirates. Or sand art. Or the world's third tallest man, shipped in especially (truefacts). You get the idea.

So I couldn't be more miserable about this year's Swedish entry. It's just a man singing a mid tempo inspirational underneath a light fitting that looks like one of those things that keeps food warm. It's lovely and everything and John Lundvik really "connects" but my god it's boring. And I think it's going to win by default. It's like that advert where three people are deciding what to eat and the man on the left doesn't like Chinese food and the man on the right doesn't like Indian food and in the end they choose McDonalds not out of love, or passion, or excitement, but because it's the least worst and most safe option.

Also sadly it's still not Wiktoria's "As I lay me down" which is possibly the greatest pop song of all time. Mugh. See you in Stockholm.