Emmelie De Forest cruised to a comfortable victory in Malmö, despite the threat of a last-minute upset from Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov. Emmelie failed to garner the euphoric reception that Loreen received in 2012, but “Only Teardrops” was a worthy winner nonetheless. The key components of the winning song — pan pipes, twinkling piano and raspy vocals — form the core of Emmelie’s debut album of the same name.
“Hunter and Prey”, the second single from the album, brings fairytale flair. Despite having a less immediate impact than “Only Teardrops”, it builds in strength with every listen. “What Are You Waiting For” is a real highlight, offering an ominous and haunting change of pace that echoes Florence and the Machine.
Only Teardrops as an album is at its strongest when pointing to this grander spectacle and using music to emphasise meaning. “Soldier of Love” and “Let It Fall” both demonstrate the virtue of this. They bridge commanding vocals and substance. The union of strong messages and slick production enables Emmelie to seem like more of a rival than an imitator of Florence and the Machine or Lana Del Rey. “Let It Fall” is possibly the best song from the album: dark, stirring and laced with passion.
The fabulousness of the album is best seen, however, through a symphonic version of the song that launched it all. The Polish Radio Orchestra gives the song an epic quality and cinematic lift. That makes it all too easy to envision Emmelie delivering a beautiful, and actually much improved, version of the original on the Eurovision stage of old.
Only Teardrops is not flawless. It lacks the rawness that befits Emmelie’s vocals due to a little over-zealous auto-tuning. And the introduction of overt synthesizers on some of the songs–notably “Change” and “Beat the Speed of Sound”–render them a bit jarring and threaten a dissent into generic club banger territory.
Fortunately Only Teardrops gets it right most of the time and seems to respect the authenticity of the artist. At no point does Emmelie seem content with this just being a Eurovision winner’s album. It’s about demonstrating she is far more than a small stage singer who will be defined by the Malmö Arena. In that regard, it seems Emmelie is gunning for Loreen’s crown, and with such a terrific album, that’s a threat Loreen should take very seriously.
Photos: Emmelie de Forest
Angus Quinn contributed this report from the U.K. You can follow him on Twitter at @Angus_Quinn17.