Last night the Wiwi Jury—our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals—stopped by IKEA and purchased a lot of minimalist furniture. Then we headed to Stockholm to review Ellen Benediktson’s Melodifestivalen song. Did her “Songbird” soar? Or did it make us want to set fire to her nest? Read on to find out…
Angus: I don’t think I’ve ever more immediately wanted to shoot myself since I first heard Rona Nishliu’s ‘Suus’ in 2012. This is just god awful. Annoyingly sung and painfully slow I don’t find anything redeemable in this. It’s so vacuous. People might point to emotion but I point to the lack of anything in the song. I am all for stripped back performances but Ellen has stripped everything back so much there isn’t actually a song left for us to listen to. Appalling.
Deban: This is poetry. It appeals to my senses, and I enjoy the waves of emotions it creates. However, this would start to annoy me on repeat listens. Unlike Anouk who soared with Birds, “Songbird” quickly becomes boring. Appropriate for the elevator, but perhaps not suitable for Europe’s biggest song contest. When you’ve only got three minutes to court millions of viewers, this entry won’t survive the cut.
Padraig: Will people quit comparing this to Anna Bergendahl? “This is My Life” had charm and, dare I say it, a little dash of kookiness. “Songbird” on the other hand is a completely sanitised portion of middle of the road dreariness. The vocals are sweet and I’m sure Ellen is lovely, but honestly, this effort makes Katie Melua seem cutting edge.
Anthony: After Anouk performed an entry with ‘bird’ in the song title at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Ellen has decided to follow suit at this year’s Melodifestivalen. Ironically, this falls into the same category of gentle ballads but sadly, “Songbird” lacks the appeal of its Dutch counterpart. However, Ellen’s live performance makes up for it. Vocally she can deliver! Given that Sweden faces a tough post-Soviet semi-final, I dread another possible Anna Bergendahl moment if Sweden were to send Ellen to Copenhagen.
James: When I was watching the first semi-final in bed, I assumed that this song wouldn’t get through – it’s just another lovely ballad which will fail and fall just like Anna Jarvinen’s beautiful ballad ‘Porslin’ – but how wrong I was. It is calm, peaceful and will attract viewers from all over Europe who want an alternative to the schlager and the modern pop. I really enjoy listening to this whenever I have the chance. Eurovision may be characterised by all the camp pop and glitter, but every now and then we get a gem.
Patrick: I’m really confused. On the one hand it’s a wonderful song but on the other hand I really don’t like it that much. Her voice is nice, the song is mystical and dark. The lyrics are wonderful and the melody is beautiful. Here’s the catch: It doesn’t touch me at all. I really miss the moment when I say “Now she’s got me!” There is no goosebumps moment. It will do very well. Both the jury and the public will love Ellen…but for me this isn’t Eurovision.
Sami: This is so effing boring and just a minute after listening, I don’t remember a thing of it. Very old-fashioned, very lame. Ellen is an okay singer, even though her voice is a little annoying. But c’mon, nobody would remember this in ESC. It might become Sweden’s worst entry for a long, long time, if it gets chosen. I can’t understand why anyone would vote for this.
Franceska: I don’t get the sudden influx of acoustic songs in Eurovision. I really don’t. Her voice is strong, but the song isn’t. The lyrics are obscure, the guitar bit is more boring than a 95-year-old Ancient Greek philosophy professor, and she’s trying too hard. Come back when you’ve matured, darling.
Ramadan: This song is so cute! I really enjoy this and I’m happy that she got all adorable on us in the chorus with her personality and presence. That said, it only starts to make sense towards the end when she opens up with the vocals. I’m not sure this is going to do well in the final of Melodifestivalen.
Zach: Ellen surprised everyone by upsetting Helena and qualifying directly, even myself. But after a few more listens I find myself getting into the song. Vocally she’s advanced, and her voice leaves a lasting impression, which will help considering she goes second in the final. The lyrics are unique, kind of enchanting really. The pace may be a little bland, but I think she’ll do well score wise. However, I don’t think it will win, not enough mass appeal.
Wiwi Jury Verdict: 4.4/10
Final rankings: #10 of 10