Archive for the 'Eurovision' Category


You’re a winner, I’m a winner

New music from Pet Shop Boys is always cause for celebration, for me anyway. A new album has just touched down and no doubt I will write about that later. Today, I just wanted to highlight the rather special video for the album’s first single “Winner”.

“Winner” came out a month ago and with all the fuss surrounding the Olympic Games in London, it was assumed that the song was written to cash in on the games due to the title, single cover art and the anthemic quality of the song.

It turns out that the song was not written with the Olympics in mind. It was actually inspired by Take That during the double header concert tour featuring both Tale That and Pet Shop Boys. Neil and Chris wanted to see if they could write a mid-tempo anthemic ballad and the result was “Winner”. It was never intended that Pet Shop Boys would record and release it themselves. Neil has even admitted that he was thinking of the song as a possible entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Listen for that key change during the song.

Andrew Dawson, the producer of the new Pet Shop Boys album “Elysium”, was the one who convinced Neil and Chris to record the song themselves. So they did.

Another track was always intended to be the first single but late in the day, the record company decided to release “Winner” instead, obviously thinking that it could be an Olympic tie-in.

I do like “Winner” a lot but having heard the rest of the album, I don’t think it was the strongest choice for a single and as it was, it didn’t sell particularly well. Maybe the record company always knew that anything released would be over-shadowed by all the Olympics hype so decided to release the stronger single later. Who knows.

Anyway, a video was recorded for “Winner” with a storyline closer to the meaning of the lyrics instead of some tacky, predictable Olympics montage. The lyrics are about tolerance and acceptance of those who are different, values that I respond to. And that’s what the video is about.

The story concerns a transgender woman, “Dirty Diana”,  joining a woman’s roller derby team. She is not particularly good at roller derby but that doesn’t matter. There are lots of scenes showing Diana being accepted. They obviously know what Diana is but don’t care. They accept her as one of their own and it is heartwarming to see how happy Diana is, finally being accepted and treated as one of the girls. I also like the fact that the video is shot as if it was an amateur documentary. It adds to the authenticity of the video.

I guess the video wasn’t going to help the single to sell more copies but that’s irrelevant. I love it anyway.



Evan – Back At Last

I first discovered Evan during Melodifestivalen in 2006 with his mindblowing song “Under Your Spell”, a dramatic, almost operatic three minute piece of theatre. I immediately bought the single (back in the day when singles were readily available), the album of the same name as well as delving into Evan’s back catalogue.

Of course, this was back in 2006 and after that – nothing. Well Evan did pop up again in 2008 as the songwriter for Therese Andersson’s 2008 Melodifestivalen entry but then promptly disappeared again.

A ray of sunshine broke through in 2010 when he released a collection of outtakes and demos called “Bonustracks” and a single called “Falling From Grace” which was pretty damn good but then he disappeared again.

Thanks to one of my favourite blogs, Swedish Stereo, I was delighted to discover that not only has Evan just released a new single  but an album as well. Called “The Beauty of Your Face”, the album is another collection of mini epic pop masterpieces and it’s been out on iTunes for two months! A quick visit to iTunes and a couple of minutes later, I finally had Evan’s third album and I love the grandness of it all as well as Evan’s amazing falsetto.

This is the video for the single “Out of Control”.

Check out Evan’s official site at

iTunes link for the album is right here:


The mystery of Isa finally solved

You may recall my recent series of posts where I rediscovered favourite albums of mine that I had not listened to in a couple of years. One of them was “Storybook” by Peter Jöback. Listening to the album again, reminded me of the mystery of Isa Norberg.

Back in 2004, Isa sang a duet with Peter called “Summer Wine”, a cover of the old Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood hit. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album, partly due to the stunning vocals of Isa Norberg according to the album credits. Later in 2004, I saw Peter in concert and Isa joined him on stage for “Summer Wine”. I fell in love with Isa, her voice and stage presence totally transfixed me.

Well, I thought, someone that talented had to have more of a career than singing one duet but I couldn’t find anything with an Isa Norberg. I kept trying for a while but eventually gave up, thinking the mystery would never be solved.

Listening to the album again recently, reignited my love for Isa so once again, I went hunting and this time I turned up trumps. My internet research skills must be a lot better these days. As I discovered, the difficulty I had in the past was partly due to the fact that Isa had been known by different names and her music had covered different styles from schlager to pop to folk to jazz.

So here, for anyone interested is a potted history of the career of Isa Norberg aka Jessica Pilnäs.

Isa was born Jessica G. Pilnäs and it was under that name that she appeared in Melodifestivalen 1995 (Swedish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest) at the tender age of 16. Her song “Jag ger dig allt” (I give you everything) came third and was a hit for the young singer but, rather than commit to a career straight away, Jessica decided to finish school.

Five years later in 2000, Jessica signed with Sony Records. The record company dubbed her Isa, thinking that were too many Jessicas on the market. As Isa, she released an album called “Pretender” and two singles – the title track and “Everything I Do”. Isa toured with the likes of Robyn and sold well in Japan of all places. This album was very much contemporary pop/R&B.

Here is Isa performing an acoustic version of “Pretender” during a promotional tour of Japan.

Pop wasn’t really Jessica’s thing and she didn’t like being told what to do by the record company so there was no follow up. Jessica got married and started a family. She also studied medicine. Although she was spending her time bringing up her children and studying, Jessica still kept her hand in, guesting on records by Peter Jöback, Bengan Janson, Vacuum and Nils Landgren.

Thanks to Elin, here is Jessica as Isa Norberg (Norberg being her married name) performing “Summer Wine” with Peter Jöback.

And this is “Love Earth Cry” by Vacuum featuring the stunning vocals of Jessica Pilnäs.

Nils Landgren released a Christmas album in 2008 and Jessica provided the vocals for “A Child Is Born” performed here on a Swedish TV show.

Stepping back a moment to 2005, as Jessica Norberg, Jessica joined the group Mormors Visor as lead vocalist and released a Swedish language album “Sådan är kärleken” (Such is love), a mixture of folk and jazz. A really quite beautiful album. Click on the image below to go to the group’s MySpace page and listen to some of their songs.

Now lets flash forward to 2011. Jessica has finished studying and is now a qualified doctor. She feels ready to get back into music and has recently released a brand new album called “Bitter and Sweet”. Jessica’s first love is jazz and this album highlights her jazz voice. A mixture of original songs and covers done in her own inimitable style. Here is her jazz version of the Eurythmics hit “There Must Be An Angel” which is truly brilliant, as is the rest of the album.

The best thing is that almost everything that Jessica has done is still readily available. All three albums (as Isa, Mormors Visor and Jessica Pilnäs) are up on international iTunes as are the Peter Jöback, Vacuum and Nils Landgren collaborations. I was able to order Jessica’s latest from Bengans and my friend, the Best Judge, was able to pick up a copy of the Isa album for me on a recent trip to Sweden.

Jessica’s official site:

As far as I can ascertain, that is a run down of the career of Isa Norberg / Jessica Pilnäs. Please let me know if I have missed anything.


Nina from Serbia

I am still processing the Eurovision outcome and wondering why such a boring song won. In the meantime, look what I found.

This is probably old news for many but there is actually an English version of the Serbian entry, “Caroban” by the spunky Nina.

“Caroban” was actually one of my favourite songs this year. I would even place it in my top three after Sweden and Hungary. The 60s vibe struck a chord with me, I loved Nina’s look and I loved the psychedelic light show going on behind Nina and her backing singers even if it did make my eyes hurt.

One thing I did appreciate and respect was that Nina had the balls to sing the song in her native language. That is one thing I miss about Eurovision. I really think that they should go back to the native language rule. One has to wonder if the disappointing position that the song came was because it was in Serbian. Surely Europeans are not that shallow?

Anyway, doing some surfing tonight and I discovered that Nina did in fact record an English version and also recorded a music video for it. In English, the song is called “Magical” and magical it is. I hate to say it but maybe Nina would have scored higher if she had performed the English version. I guess we’ll never know and part of me is still glad that we got the Serbian version.

Here’s the English clip. Enjoy the groove.


Nice pic of Eric Saade

I love this pic of Eric Saade, taking some time out during the high pressure atmosphere of Eurovision. Eric is justifiably one of the favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 for Sweden.

Although winning the Contest a respectable four times, Sweden has had a run of bad luck over the last few years and didn’t even qualify for the final last year. I am confident that Eric will do well enough to break the bad run and get Sweden back into the top 5, and quite possibly the top spot.

Go Eric.


Congratulations Eric

Congratulations to Eric Saade for being chosen to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011. His song “Popular” won by an overwhelming majority and sees Sweden with a real chance to win in Dusseldörf.


Melodifestivalen final – here we come

Tonight, Swedish time, sees the final for Melodifestivalen which will select Sweden’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2011. It seems that the two favourites, Eric Saade and Danny Saucedo, are getting overly friendly in the picture above. This shot has been appearing on schlager blogs all over the net so how could I resist such a shot. Sadly, as the following video shows, it’s just the two guys mucking about at a press conference. But it does embody the spirit of Melodifestivalen. The friendly rivalry and the fun that the participants bring to the atmosphere, one could almost say a sense of family.

I have read quite a few schlager blogs complaining about the final line up of songs. I actually think it’s a good and varied line up, a bit of something for everyone. The Swedes actually have a range to choose from which should make it more interesting.

I have already commented on Sara Varga (my favourite in the final) and Eric Saade (the one that should go to Dusseldörf) but I thought I would give my impressions of the remaining eight songs for what it’s worth.

Danny – In The Club

Eric Saade’s closest rival, I think this club tune will give Eric a run for his money. It’s modern and would appeal to a younger audience (as long as they are the ones voting). I’m not that keen on it myself (I must be getting old) but I’m sure it would do well at Eurovision.

The Moniker – Oh My God

A lot of people seem to hate this very happy pop song but I quite like it and certainly won’t be skipping it when I get the CD. Kinda like Mika but not done as well, still it’s fun. I don’t think it’s a contender.

Brolle – 7 Days and 7 Nights

I really like this slice of rock pop from Sweden’s so-called answer to Elvis. I find myself singing it a lot. I have a feeling it will do well at the final but not well enough.

Linda Bengtzing – E Det Fel På Mig

Linda has entered Melodifestivalen a number of times in the past but this would have to be her weakest entry yet. I know I should like it but I just can’t. I think the only reason it made it to the final was the general low standard of the songs in the fourth semi final, one of the worst semi finals since they introduced the semi final format.

Nicke Borg – Leaving Home

I don’t like this rock ballad from the lead singer of the internationally known Backyard Babies. I think there will be an audience for this song but I just don’t think that the fans of Backyard Babies are the kind of people to watch Melodifestivalen or Eurovision.

Swingfly – Me And My Drum

Although I don’t normally like rap, the chorus of this song is so damn catchy it could get through. It would be one of those annoying summer hits that Europe seems to love so much. If it does get through, it could even manage a decent placing at Eurovision. Certainly not a favourite by far but not the end of the world if it ended up representing Sweden.

Sanna Nielsen – I’m In Love

Although Sanna does have a loyal fan base and this schlager number is quite listenable, I don’t think it will do too well.  Nothing wrong with schlager of course, but voting audiences seems to be moving away from it.

The Playtones – The King

This rock ‘n roll pastiche is catchy and should do well but I think it would be regarded as too much of a novelty song by European audiences.

Part of the fun of Melodifestivalen is and Eurovision is not really knowing which way the voters will swing. Since the semi finals were brought in, the eventual winner of Melodifestivalen  has always come first in their respective semi final. This would mean that only Danny, Sanna, Eric and Linda are in the running. But the real unknown factor this year is that for the first time, 11 international juries will be voting and will make up half the vote with the general public making up the other half. Watch the sparks fly in the Swedish media if the jury vote changes the general public’s choice!

Still, all things considered, I think Eric Saade will be eventual winner and that he could very well take out the Eurovision crown for Sweden. I guess that time will tell.