Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Simone – Heart Shaped Hole

Third place in the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, and… Nirvana?!


Edward Okulicz: The Dansk Melodi Grand Prix is generally one of the lowlights of the pre-Eurovision calendar; it’s usually one atrocious song after another, culminating in an atrocious song bombing out in the Eurovision semi-finals. “Heart Shaped Hole,” which lost out to what I assumed was a Christian rock boy band, seemed almost brilliant in its company, and I like its chilly, rumbling opening, childish but evocative chorus, and thundering melody. If anything, it’s stuck between its throbbing intrigue and its power-ballad bombast and should have gone with one or the other. But there’s a sturdy construction underneath that keeps me coming back. As ever, this year the Swedes pulled this moody trick off better in their selection extravaganza.

Katherine St Asaph: Slight problem: There’s already a song called “Heart-Shaped Box,” and it refers to something fairly specific (as well as Hole), and no matter how many rallying strings and Margaret Berger quavers you put in that association is going to ruin things. Also, needs 50% more chorus.

Will Adams: The first forty-five seconds or so were actually promising, with skitters crawling over the foreboding throb and Simone striking a balance between approachable and mysterious. But then the giant drums and showboat melody barged in, opening the floodgates of cheese.

Katie Gill: Things like “dynamics” aren’t really Simone’s strongest points — that chorus slams into you like a freight train, those vocals and instruments at top speed as Simone wails the chorus as hard as she can, only to become oddly soft when she hits those high notes. Add the vaguely S&M undertones and James Bond theme stylings in the prechorus, and you end up with something I’m not sure how to describe but want to listen to again.

Alfred Soto: Prowess isn’t the question — prowess is the problem. Simone combines the conversational, faintly pinched timbre of Ellie Goulding and Adele’s indifference to restraining forces, exposing the hole-shaped heart of a tune.

Megan Harrington: Brutally gruesome imagery paired with ice cave synths — doesn’t sound refreshing, but it definitely stirred me from an extended period of nothingness. 

Joshua Copperman: I actually love most of the lyrics — the idea that she cut him out of her life but still feels his absence is specific but relatable. I’m not a fan of the rest, though, especially the phrasing and arrangement; the “I cut you out of me-eeee” build to the chorus doesn’t work, and in that chorus, the drums borrow too heavily from “Love Me Like You Do” and obscure the sentiment. Elsewhere, the production and Simone both try really really hard to make this sound “big,” but nothing approaches the “holy shit” factor of ballads like “Love Me Like You Do” and “Impossible.” Only the bridge manages to break through the production, with that weird hopping melody. It makes me wonder how the song would sound with a sparser backing — maybe something resembling its graphic cardiovascular-related antecedent “Bleeding Love.” It wouldn’t make the instrumental less derivative, but it would make it easier for Simone to stand out.

Ramzi Awn: Leona Lewis had the last word when it comes to cutting love out of the picture, and “heart-shaped hole” is beyond trite. It’s difficult to get to the good parts in this globular-shaped mess.  

Iain Mew: The vocals range from too much to way, way too much. The lyrics range from ridiculous to nonsensical. It sounds just like a song which didn’t quite make it to Eurovision, to be honest. It does, at least, feature an unexpectedly gorgeous bridge which sounds like the basis for a much better song.

Thomas Inskeep: It’s “empowering.” It’s got Katy Perry sonics. It’s midtempo. It’s overblown. It’s boring. 

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4 Responses to “Simone – Heart Shaped Hole”

  1. Edward, that’s a bit harsh: we (the Danes) actually have a rather strong recent ESC tradition – winning as lately as 2013. That said, Simone’s entry was atrocious, just like all of the other Danish contenders in 2016. But bless her; this was her third try to represent Denmark. She may well get there eventually, though time is running out.

  2. I actually love the Danish Melodi Grand Prix. It introduced me to Sukkerchok (“Det, Det” is still one of my all-time favorite songs), but it is built differently from Melodifestivalen. In Sweden, they basically build a series of TV shows: As large as possible a variety of songs, different genres, languages etc, to get as many people as possible to watch. This sometimes leads to a bit to cookie-cutter songs that are just trying to fill a niche (it’s fun every year to guess “What was the songwriter brief for this” i.e.: “Undo” = “Wrecking Ball”, “Bedroom” = “Moves like Jagger”, etc.).

    Denmark however just goes to record companies directly without really coordinating, which can make it a bit same-y. This song is a good example of something that wouldn’t make it in Sweden because it simultaneously ticks too many and not enough boxes. Soaring, LOUD vocals, lyrics that oddly compelling but too cheesy to embrace the grossness of the central metaphor, and a production that veers between Eurovision folkyness and icy electronica. I have been listening to this since February and I have yet to get bored of it, which may be a side-effect of the way absolutely nothing in this song really goes together.

  3. Mads, I wouldn’t describe your recent history as that strong given that you failed to make the finals the last two years! I confess I hate “Only Teardrops” and was so pissed when it won, and because the stupid Eurovision phone app spoiled the result as I wasn’t able to watch it live.

    Not everything in MGP is terrible: I was pulling hard for “Suitcase” last year!

  4. Fair enough. I should perhaps have said ‘relatively strong’, given that, well, I remember some truly dire years.

    If I’m being completely honest, I neither liked nor voted for ‘Only Teardrops’. I believe it was my 3rd choice at MGP that year.

    I, too, loved Sukkerchok. I think my favorite of the recent past remains ‘In a moment like this’: