I've heard 'em all, and the worst Eurovision 2011 competitor is not Armenia's "Boom Boom," though there has been some debate. No, it's Sweden's "Popular." And lest there be any momentum building behind this song, any at all (Pop Justice seems to like it), it's time to bring down the hammer.
"Popular" is performed by 20 year-old Eric Saade. The gist of the song is that our protagonist fervently wishes to be popular so that he might impress some chick. He expresses this desire with the grace and subtlety of a Columbine High School shooter. "I will be POP-ular! I will be POP-ular!" he hisses.
Problems with the song are evident in its opening lines. "STOP! DON'T SAY THAT IT'S IMPOSS-IBLE!" Mr. Saade begins, "'CUZ I KNOW! IT'S POSS-IBLE!" every syllable enunciated with the zeal of a serial killer repeatedly stabbing his victim. Rhyming "impossible" with "it's possible" is pretty amazing, but there's also something jarring about starting a song with the word "STOP!"
"Sorry, Eric, but the thought of you actually getting that chick to notice you is just impossi"
"DON'T SAY THAT IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!"
"Well, how do you know it isn't impossible?"
"'CUZ I KNOW! IT'S POSS-IBLE!"
Then comes the chorus, which is ripped off of this very-80s tune from fellow Swedes Lili & Susie. Note that underneath the Lili and Susie video the top-rated comment (163 thumbs-up and rising) is "Hörde precis Eric Saade sjunga den här låten i melodifestivalen 2011..." Which translates to: "Just heard Eric Saade sing this song in Melodifestivalen 2011."
But one should not be surprised by the derivative nature of the tune, considering that the author of "Popular" is Fredrick Kempe, who ripped off "Nessun Dorma" when he penned "La Voix," Sweden's Eurovision 2009 entry. Lest you think that was only a coincidence, one need only recall that Mr. Kempe gave us a thoroughly trashed-up version of "Nessun Dorma" himself back in 2002. Anyway, this appropriating spirit is befitting the land of the Pirate Bay.
Not much else going on in "Popular" lyrically, though "My body wants you girl" is worth a mention.
All this is delivered with the bluster of hurricane whirling round and round as it charts a random course farther and farther out to sea. The lights are flashing, the dancers gyrating, Eric is spitting "I will be POP-ular!" And then, at 2:30, there is shattering glass.
To be fair, there is one other Eurovision 2011 competitor that arguably is worse than "Popular," and that is Belarus's bizarre, ultra-nationalistic entry, which comes on the heels of yet another rigged election and violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in that country. The current entry, "I Love Belarus," features a young woman repeatedly telling us that she loves Belarus. But the country's original song submission, pulled because of a lyrics dispute with the Eurovision organizers, was called "Born In Byelorussia," and waxed nostalgic on the good old USSR days. ("Born in Byelorussia! USSR time! Byelorussia! Crazy and so fine!")
But the audacious, gawk-worthiness of Belarus's Eurovision antics are at least somewhat interesting. "Popular" is just incredibly irritating.
Goodbye, Eric! See you around! Hope you become POP-ular! Jeez...