I have to admit I think Germany made a mistake in sending Cascada. I can acknowledge the argument that they’re still a strong chart presence, but would argue that at least beyond Germany, their last big hit was ‘Evacuate The Dancefloor’ back in 2009, which was a veritable hit. There’s no denying that. You also can’t deny their albums sold millions of copies around the world and even cracked the States. They have an exemplary discography to their name, and ‘Glorious’ was actually a fairly decent song.
The problem is, that I think Cascada were sadly a little bit past their best in Malmö. There’s been a marked deterioration in global success of Cascada singles and in the quality of the songs, with noticeable limited success for recent album ‘Original Me’ in international markets. I think Cascada’s success at USFM owed a lot to BBC-style-decision-making. Send an established artist, who has some hits to their name and has sold albums and they should do well. Cascada is about two decades more relevant than Bonnie Tyler, but the thought process behind their selection is similar, even if Cascada progressed off the back of a televote-jury combination.
The problems with the performance on the night have already been discussed at length so I’m not going to go on about them, instead I’m going to put forward three alternative songs in Unser Song für Malmö that I think might have been a better fit.
Blitzkids mvt.,‘Heart On The Line’, 6th Place in USFM
This was my favourite song on the night, and probably my favourite of the national selection season. For a start it’s a real earworm, the lyrics are catchy but it’s also sumptuously produced EDM. It’s gorgeous. The sirens, the semi-electronic vocal and the whole look of Blitzkids was amazing. The staging was gorgeous too – perhaps a little stiff, but they worked the minimalist approach that saw Margaret Berger soar high in Malmö. In terms of comparisons to ‘Glorious’, I think the vocal was a lot stronger and the production wasn’t as dated. It also wasn’t so blatantly Europop. The lyrics might have all the nonsensical hallmarks, but they’re sung with conviction and the overall delivery of the piece was excellent. The added edge here, is that while both are dance songs, ‘Heart On The Line’ isn’t so reliant on auto-tune as ‘Glorious’. Natalie Horler might be able to sing, but there’s no denying that she struggled when denied her hidden helping hand, which is understandable since ‘Glorious’ is not an easy song to sing, but equally demonstrates that it should never have been sent to a Contest that requires a live and unaided performance. The reason I suspect it failed to connect was that ‘Heart On The Line’ is quite a dark song, akin to ‘Taken By A Stranger’, and I suspect it was just a little too soon for them to send a similar song. Shame though, I thought it was fabulous.
Nica & Joe, ‘Elevated’, 5th Place in USFM
I’m a sucker for duets, but ‘Elevated’ would have blown Georgia out of the water in Malmö if it had made it to Sweden. For a start there’s an instant comedy in the fact that Nica absolutely towers over Joe, an added memorable bonus and the staging is intense and dramatic. The song’s also uplifting which is always a bonus at ESC to my mind since the Contest is at the end of the day, about having fun and bringing Europe together. It is very Disney, but I actually think the cheese in this case works and it’s a pretty strong duet. Nippier than ‘Running Scared’ but packing a stronger vocal punch, I think this could easily have made Top 15 in Malmö, but perhaps not very much more since this is more Euroband than Ell & Nikki. That being said, I think I’d have rated it above ‘Glorious’ because again it was a standout at USFM. Nothing else that night sounded like it, and it sounded different. It was largely piano driven and the chorus is catchy as anything with the ‘oh’ hook having distinct resemblance to the winning lyrical formula of ‘Running Scared’.
La BrassBanda, ‘Nackert’, 2nd Place in USFM
I wasn’t a fan of this one, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see it’s potential. It would have sounded like nothing else in Malmö and to my mind that’s always a good thing at Eurovision. The tuba and trumpets give it a particular Bavarian flair and it’s fun and cheery. It’s as cheekily entertaining as Koza Mostra but perhaps a little classier; in so much as there wasn’t a reliance on a cheap gimmick title. The emphasis on instrumental is also something of a breath of fresh air and I’ve absolutely no doubt, had La BrassBanda made it, which they very nearly did, they’d have easily made the Top 10. It would likely have been in the lower regions, to my mind somewhere in 7th-10th due to the strength of the Top 5 this year, but it would have been a nice change and a much stronger contender than Cascada. Where Cascada relied upon hype to propel early discussion on where they’d place at Eurovision, La BrassBanda would have relied upon the actual merits of their song.
Considering ‘Glorious’ itself, it’s an enjoyable Cascada song. However, it is Cascada by-numbers. There’s nothing distinctive about it, and as is the case with their original music, when they don’t use a sample, it’s just the wrong side of generic Europop. Absolutely, it’s fundamentally enjoyable: but not a Contest-winner by any means and on reflection, not a Top 10 contender either. I do think 21st place was harsh, and that it more than deserved a slot in the Top 15, but Cascada to my mind were never the right choice.
What do you all think? Were there better acts at Unser Song Für Malmö? Were Cascada the right choice? Comment below!
Photo: Thomas Hanses (EBU)