Thu. May 30th, 2024
Photo: EBU

For my last blog of reviews, I try to make it a case where I save the host nation for last. Last year, I wasn’t as organized with my blogging. I’m better this year. That explains why my last song review blog will be about the Nordic nations.

The Nordic nations have always had some of the biggest showstoppers of Eurovision. The five nations combined have won a total of fourteen Contests and many of their songs have done a lot to reshape performances of Eurovision. I’m sure every year, you’ll have at least one Nordic entry in your personal Top 10. So what do the Nordic nations have up their sleeve for this year? Let’s see:

Performer: SABA
Song: “Sand”

It’s interesting that all the Nordic nations hold a national final to determine their Eurovision entry. Denmark’s is the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix and this year’s winner is the Ethiopian-born SABA with “Sand.” This is a song about a rocky relationship that’s doomed. It starts with the intensity of a ballad but soon picks up the tempo which continues to the end. Saba definitely makes her vocal abilities present throughout the song. The song itself is good but not great. It feels like it’s missing some qualities. Even at the end, it feels like this song is unfinished. 

ESC Chances: The 2020’s have been rough on Denmark. They’re one of the four nations that have not yet landed any of their entries into a Grand Final this decade. A far cry from the 2010’s where they only missed twice, grabbed five Top 10’s and a win in 2013. This song looks like its chances are 50/50 for qualifying. There are more attention-grabbing songs this year and even in SABA’s semifinal. Staging will definitely need to be way better than the Grand Prix. Basically, a lot of things outside the song need doing.

Performer: Windows95man
Song: “No Rules!”

It’s interesting how Finland’s two Top 3 came through two of Eurovision most notorious, and most legendary, performances. There’s 2006 winner Lordi with “Hard Rock Hallelujah” and last year’s runner-up Käärijä with “Cha Cha Cha.” This year,  Finland sends Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu winners Windows95man. Already even the stage name of Teemu Keisteri started controversy because one of Eurovision’s rules is no advertising. Despite that, the name is still there. On to the song. Along with  vocals from Henri Piispanen the song is a hyper dance song that’s intended to be loaded with 90’s nostalgia. Judging from the performance, it looks like a song that wants to reach high because of its shock antics from the faux-nudity of Teemu to the shorts with cables that spray sparks. Many times, I feel like dismissing it as a Cha Cha Cha wannabe.

ESC Chances: I’ve often used the term “Eurovision insanity at its best” to describe certain legendary ‘crazy’ songs, but doing a crazy song or a ‘troll act’ as some Eurofans call it is a tricky thing. Some songs like “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” “Dancing Lasha Tumbai,” Netta’s “Toy,” and even “Cha Cha Cha,” it’s easy to see why they could be described as “Eurovision insanity at its best.” We should also not forget some of the notorious entries that have flopped or ranked low. This song I see as more sink than swim and I don’t think its notoriety will pay off in a big way. I can see it qualifying for the Grand Final, but I can’t see it getting a good finish. 

Performer: Hera Bjork
Song: “Scared Of Heights”

For Iceland this year, the Söngvakeppnin 2024 decided its entry for Eurovision and 2010 entry Hera Bjork will be returning to the Eurovision stage! The song she sings has a good dance tempo. This is probably the song with the most class, but the problem is it plays it too safe. This is Eurovision and the risk takers are going to be rewarded best. On top of it, her stage performance could get her performance dismissed as boring.

ESC Chances: Just like in the case of Moldova’s Natalia Barbu, I can’t help but compare this song to “Je Ne Sais Quoi,” which I like better. Even without comparing the two songs, “Scared Of Heights” sounds like a song that would have done better at Eurovision in the early-noughts before the expectations of styled-up staging and even livelier better songs became Eurovision standard. In addition, a good chunk of Eurofans will be half her age and it’s easy to see this performance falling prey to ageism. I’m not optimistic about its qualifying chances.


Performer: Gåte

Song: “Ulveham”

The Melodi Grand Prix is the event that decided Norway’s entry for this year’s Eurovision. The winning act was the band Gåte: a band that’s been in the Norwegian music scene since 2005. Their song “Ulveham” became Norway’s first entry since 2006 completely in the Norwegian language. We get ethnic flavor here too. Looking at the translated lyrics, it sounds like a fable from centuries ago. The song is very mystic and loaded with energy. Interesting that she sings about being turned into a wolf and the chorus she delivers like a wolf-like howl. The song really gives a lot to like. 

ESC Chances: Norway has some interesting Eurovision stats. The most last-place finishes, three wins and seven Top 10 finishes in the last ten Contests. This is definitely no last-place song. Actually it sounds like a song bound to qualify. I feel its Top 10 chances are 50/50. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Eurofans will appreciate a song in the Norwegian language. Thing is they have a lot of competition to deal with. Their performance at the Melodi Grand Prix was excellent. They will have to duplicate it in order to aim high in Malmo.

Host Nation – SWEDEN 🇸🇪

Performers: Marcus and Martinus

Song: “Unforgettable”

It’s hard to believe 22 year-old twins Marcus and Martinus Gunnarsen are showbiz veterans. In 2012, they both won Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix Junior, but Norway didn’t compete in Junior Eurovision. After their win, their career and teen idol status soon took off in Norway. For Eurovision 2017, they were made spokespeople for Norway. Soon after, they endured a common fate of child stars: a downfall with puberty. Last year, they competed in Sweden’s Melodifestivalen. Although no one could beat Loreen’s “Tattoo,’ they finished second and it marked their comeback. This year, they finally get their Eurovision moment!

What made Marcus and Martinus choose to compete for Sweden? They could’ve easily represented Norway. If you were anticipating a pop entry from Sweden, you’re right. Sweden knows how to do pop and the Gunnarsen twins here do what pop is expected to do: dazzle and entertain. They have the looks to make the girls go crazy, the dance moves, the good singing and the eye-catching stage show. If there’s one glitch, it’s that the song sounds like it’s meant to be longer than the three-minute time limit and it’s cut short. Whatever the situation, it will definitely be a showstopper on Grand Final night.

ESC Chances: The last time the host nation opened up the Grand Final was in 1970. The last time first-up won the Contest, and the third time ever, was in 1984 and ironically won by a group of three Swedish brothers: The Herreys. The twins here deliver a show deserving of winning again for Sweden, but they have obstacles. First off, Eurofans are sometimes tough on host nation entries. Secondly, some Eurofans can become blase and say things like: “Not another pop entry from Sweden.” Sure, Sweden may produce some of the best pop in the world, but music fans are tough, picky and sometimes cruel.

Fun Fact: When Marcus and Martinus open up the Grand Final, they will become the twelfth pair of twins to compete in Eurovision!

And there you go! Those are my reviews of the Nordic entries for Eurovision 2024. That completes my reviews of all the songs. Now it’s time to create lists for this year. It’s easy to like Eurovision songs but it’s hard to rank them!

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