EDITORIAL by METTE HELENE CHRISTENSEN (DENMARK) – “Denmark always wins Eurovision, when Sweden hosts!”. Danish broadcaster DR was confident before the national final back in February, when they tweeted a check box showing ‘Stockholm 2000’ and ‘Malmø 2013’ already checked, and ‘Stockholm 2016’ awaiting completion. The Olsen Brothers were ‘Flying on the Wings of Love’ to Victory in Stockholm 2000, Emmelie De Forest took the Eurovision Crown in Malmø 2013 with ‘Only Teardrops’ and the next artist to bring home the trophy on Swedish ground was to be found among 10 finalists handpicked by legendary Danish producer, songwriter and DJ Cutfather. While the bookmakers predicted victory for the young Grand Prix veteran Simone, many fans, including myself, had their heart set out for the Danish-Australian singer/songwriter and Voice-winner Anja Nissen singing ‘Never Alone’ by Emmelie de Forest.
Celebrity factor or ‘Soldiers of love’?
The last song of the evening, an amazing vocal performance, a ‘Rainmaker’ sing-a-long chorus and a powerful ending with pyro effects. What could possibly go wrong? Both the juries and the televoters were gonna love this sparkling Australian star? They did. But the viewers, who had 100% power in the Super final, loved another act even more. The boy band Lighthouse X supplied a refreshing surprise and won Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016 with 42% percent of all votes. Before the last confetti had landed in Forum Horsens, fans were already engaged in a heated discussing about the landslide, surprise winner of the evening. Had the viewers voted for the artists in expense of the song – The popular Johannes from ‘Dancing with the stars’, former teen-idol and actor Søren and musical star Martin? Or did Lighthouse X just deliver an instant hit with a great message that perfectly matched the televoters music taste. I think it was a combination of the two.
Denmark’s worst result since 2002 – What went wrong?
When reflecting on the overall Danish efforts, 2016 offered both positive aspects, disappointments and lessons to learn for future participation. First of all I would like to point out Cutfather as THE highlight of the year. His huge international experience, connections within the music business and his talent for spotting a hit is unique. And I am thrilled, that DR decided to continue working with Cutfather. This year’s national final offered the highest quality selection we’ve seen for years and DR even managed to attract Australian superstar Anja Nissen along with several well-known songwriters. In 2015 the juries overruled the televoters choice, which triggered massive discontent among fans and viewers. This year DR changed the format and let the televoters have full power in the Superfinal. Honestly I would have preferred to keep the old format. I must admit, that I think we would have seen a different winner, if the jury had been involved in the Superfinal. I think that one of primary reasons for our disappointing result can be found in the adaptation of the winner performance to the big stage in Stockholm.
According to Jan Lagermand Lundme the Danish delegation had prepared different stage graphics along with special ‘Soldiers of Love’ masks, which were going to be included in the performance and serve as promotional material for fans and press. At the last minute DR decided to drop the prepared graphics and gimmicks, in an attempt to let the song stand on its own – leaving us with a rather bland and anonymous show, which looked very much like the performance from the Danish Final. Whereas the show worked in a smaller, more intimate arena, the downplayed performance didn’t have enough impact in the Globe. It’s already difficult to make a choreography stand out, when you have a band on stage instead of a single performer. And when you don’t use integrated visuals to support the song/message, the artists really need to stand out to secure a memorable performance. I appreciate the intent behind the decision to scrap the gimmicks, but that is simply not how Eurovision works, at least not for the last handful of years.
Where do we go from here?
I think it’s important that the national selection is based on the same rules and terms as Eurovision, so we need to go back to 50/50 vote and no pre-recorded backing track, which aren’t allowed in Eurovision. The results from the last couple of years indicate that Denmark has a different taste in music, than the rest of Europe, in particular when it comes to selecting our entry for Eurovision. A way to secure that we choose a song with more international potential would be to reintroduce the international juries, maybe even skip the Danish panel of music professionals. But juries don’t make us win, nor qualify alone. We need to follow the development, learn from other countries success or preferably be first movers. If we take a look at the top songs from the last couple of years, they have at least one thing in common: Impressive visuals that support the song! Måns Zelmerlöw wouldn’t have won without the perfect interaction with his cartoon guy and Jamala’s act wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact without the perfectly integrated visuals. Judged only on the visuals, Denmark got steamrolled by all other competing entries this year. I’m not saying that impressive visuals can make us qualify alone. Iceland and Belarus were sad examples of that. But we need to accept the fact that a song can’t stand alone in Eurovision! When working with the graphics I would like to see DR look to the rest of Europe for inspiration. This year a lot of eastern European countries like Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan have all shown impressive work. One way to get new input would be to involve some of the hardcore fans in the Danish selection process as well as the preparations for Eurovision. Not many individuals have the same experience, knowledge and touch with all the aspects of the contest as the fans, who have followed the show for years and watch national finals from all over Europe.
Submission of songs for next year’s Danish selection is already open and I really hope that we will see as many high quality songs in DMGP 2017, despite the disappointing results for the last couple of years.
My top 5 candidates for Eurovision
Danish upcoming artist Silje Svea: talented singer/songwriter with great potential. For the last couple of years she has been one of the highlights at the Copenhagen Pride concert. Her musical approach is unique and experimental. Modern electro tracks with 90’s inspired beats and synthesizer sound. Silje writes her own songs, and manages to combine lyrics, composition, music and voice to perfection.
Sada Vidoo (Nicole Stockholm) has worked in the music business for more than 15 years. In 2000 she supplied the vocals on the international hit single “Lollipop” by DJ Alligator. A couple of years ago she introduced her new doll persona and her own unique universe. With her charismatic and mystical appearance, strong vocals and catchy songs combined with artful visuals Sada Vidoo would be a perfect artist for Eurovision.
In 2011 Tim Schou finished 5th in Eurovision with his former band A Friend in London. Tim is an extraordinary talented and charismatic performer who connects with the audience and spreads love wherever he goes. The camera loves Tim Schou and with his strong vocals and energetic performance he is one of my dream Eurovision comebacks.
One of Denmark’s most impressive vocals belongs to Alex Vargas, a young Danish singer, songwriter and producer with South American roots. Alex is a very experienced live artist with several tours and support jobs. His charismatic appearance combined with the unique, wide ranging and expressive vocals would be perfect for the Eurovision Stage.
The last candidate is one of my own favorite artists. Danish upcoming artist Patrick Spiegelberg already participated in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix once before, in 2014 with his stage name Glamboy P, performing the catchy pop tune ‘Right by your side’ along with his own choreography. Last year Patrick was behind the official Copenhagen Pride song. With a very personal single, the beautiful melodic electro ballad ‘Dig og mig mod verden’ (You and me against the world) he showed some unique songwriting talents. Patrick is able to combine strong vocal and emotional performance with a braveness to bring out his message to the public. He is a true professional both on stage and in the studio.