Curtain Up On Eurovision 2018 – A Tale of Two Idas

We’re starting to see the first few national final line-ups for Lisbon 2018, and there is a bit of Listen Outside interest scattered all over the contest. Let’s take a tour. Let’s start with the ScandiNordics.

In Sweden, Ida Redig  will be taking part in Melodifestivalen. We were obsessed with her Swedish-language pop which sounds like stripped-back Italo house, complete with breathy vocals. It’s unlikely she’ll wrestle the ticket to Lisbon out of the hands of Liamoo or Mariette, but it’s lovely to see someone new and this exciting come through Christer Bjorkman’s neo-schlager factory.

Next door in Norway, it’s not been confirmed yet, but we’re expecting Ida Maria to be participating in Melodi Grand Prix. Last year, she was the songwriter for Mama’s Boy -a piece of sexually assertive uptempo pop with the melodic hookiness you’d recognise if you were a fan of Ida’s first album Fortress Round My Heart. Her style has also encompassed roots and acoustic blues, but last summer she popped out a beautifully mellow and melancholic song called You. I love the vocal mellotron effect on the harmonies.

Over in Estonia, there is plenty to get excited about in Eesti Laul. Perennial Listen Outside faves Frankie Animal have brought the deeply slinky and sophisticated (Can’t Keep Calling) Misty which makes me want to turn up the collar on my trenchcoat and disappear into the fog under a gaslamp after breaking someone’s helpless heart.

We’re also going to be treated to a song by Iiris (whose recent single Stranger was one of my sounds of the summer) and Ago called Drop The Boogie which I’m expecting to be a shimmering dancefloor confection.  New to me, but no less thrilling is Sybil Vane and they’re as sexy and thematically dark as you’d imagine a band named after an Oscar Wilde character to be. Their song Thousand Words isn’t out at time of writing, but gosh, give me some of that noir.

In other intriguing Estonian prospects, Girls In Pearls bring lush pop (also, they are twins), Evestus have industrial new wave type stuff, there shall be various pop tracks, some rough naughty hip-hop, a dollop of ambient dubstep and some guy named Stig.

We already know that Finland are totally spoiling us by bringing Saara Aalto to the party, with presumably a huge stage production and an epic power ballad banger hybrid, which the 100 year old nation will select on March 3rd.

That just leaves Denmark (about which I’m none the wiser) and Iceland. So far there haven’t been any rumours about participants in Songvakeppnin, but I am pretty sure there’ll be something almost almost as good as Is This Love?

Next up: an in-depth look at the Latvia Supernova semi-finalists and some rending of garments over songs already lost to their process.


Lay All Your Love On Me – Pale Honey

Continuing our accidental miniseries of slightly downbeat covers of Swedish pop masterpieces, here is Pale Honey with a slouchy, twangy cover of Lay All Your Love On Me.

Pale Honey are an indie-rock two piece from Gothenburg – they’ve got a superbly louche vibe and are splendidly dry and funny on their blog. This is the first single from their upcoming second album, which is due to land in September. More like this please!

Pale Honey are on Facebook

Pale Honey are on Soundcloud

Pale Honey have a website

Fångad av en Stormvind – El Perro del Mar

In Sweden, even the sad/earnest cover versions of pop songs that they use on adverts are a cut above the usual. Here’s El Perro Del Mar stretching the three minute masterpiece that is Fångad av en Stormwind into a languid, transcendently miserable ode to offshore wind generation.

Weirdly, there’s not a full version on YouTube, but you can use this link to find it on the streaming service of your choice.

And I’ve just realised I ought to do a bit about how wind turbines are similar to schlageriffic wind machines, but they work the other way round. Still, I think if you were wearing a big frock on the top of an offshore wind platform, you’d get quite a billow going.

Racist Friend – Naomi Pilgrim

It’s a busy time of the Eurovision year and while I’ve been disgracefully absent from your music recommendation screens, things have been happening.

One of those things is that Swedish/Barbadian artist Naomi Pilgrim has released this pointed and timely cover of The Specials’ Racist Friend. A chant-a-long social message that you can dance to. What could be more good for the world?



Mer Jul – Adolphson & Falk

Apologies to readers in Sweden, who will no doubt be familiar with this Christmas song.

For readers outside Sweden, this is something like their equivalent to Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry. The chorus is ‘More christmas, I want more Christmas, give me more Christmas’ and there’s some lovely festive Swedish vocab in the verses. Enjoy. Add to your Christmas playlists and thank me later.


Glitch – Dismissed

If you’re a Eurovision person, you’ll probably have noticed that we found out who is going to be competing in Melodifestivalen 2017. A lot of people were screaming excitedly about the returns of Charlotte Perrelli and Loreen, and there was also some hyperventilating and shaking about Ace Wilder, Krista Siegfrids and Wiktoria, but I’m more interested in the acts that I haven’t heard of before.

So let’s talk about Dismissed. They’re 4 gorgeous glam rock types from Gothenberg, and they’ve been apparently rocking the heck out of various festival stages and pride parties all over Sweden all summer. They’re operating at the sweaty, danceable edge of rock music – it’s like The Rapture have reformed with better dress sense – and so far their songs have had quite sharp political messages that go a bit beyond the platitudes of ‘love love, peace peace’.

I’m sharing their most recent song ‘Glitch’ with you because as well as having a sexy video, a massive hook and a great danceable chorus it forms a cry of alarm at the glitches in our apparently tolerant reality that show that minds are perhaps less open than they claim to be.

I wonder what they’ve got in store for us next year?


Mrs Alex Vause – KNASH

This one managed to escape my notice when it came out in 2015 – but it remains ever relevant to my interests. KNASH are a wonderfully energetic Swedish band of feminist rockers – like all the best bands they look like a gang, but it’s a friendly, inclusive gang that can tell you all about your reproductive rights and would cheerfully mess up some dude if he was treating you badly.

They have a couple of new songs out – Let A Sister is about female freedom and Our Time is a razor sharp, dead pan response to a street harasser (‘there should be a curfew for men, they shouldn’t be out after 1am’)

Mrs Alex Vause, embedded above, is a very fun homage to everyone’s favourite raven-haired temptress in Orange Is The New Black. It’s full of cute references and in-jokes, as well as having a great chorus that goes “Be my lover, be my wife!”

KNASH are great. If I were putting a gig on, I would book them.

KNASH are on Soundcloud

KNASH are on Facebook



Game On! Sweden vs South Africa

The sport is BACK! The very first event of the whole Olympic shebang is the women’s football that starts two days before the opening ceremony. The first match is Sweden vs South Africa, which gives us a chance to bring in some recommendations from another incredible music nation (who are also Associate Members of the EBU – I am just saying).

For Sweden we have Hanna Nutti, who is a singer/composer from the part of the Sápmi (Sami landss) at the very north of the country. She had a go at Sveriges Idol in 2014, and now she makes sophisticated, cinematic pop music, contributes to artworks and is an activist for Sami rights. Her voice is incredibly rich and expressive, and if the rest of the album (soon to come apparently) is as good as Hold Me Like I’m Her, then she is one to watch.

For South Africa we have a brand new single from the superbly dapper Toya Delazy. Her music is so fun, her style is incredible and I can’t believe she’s not a megastar. Her family history is amazing – her grandfather is major historical figure Mangosuthu Buthelezi and her great-grandmother is another historical figure – the boundary-smashing musician Princess Magogo.

Which country has the better song? Sweden or South Africa?

View Results

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Hold Me Like I’m Her – Hanna Nutti [Widescreen and sad, grown up pop]

Nu High – Toya Delazy [Wonderfully infectious, nostalgic and danceable]