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from flu fever to eurovision fever!

February 18, 2012

The latter is, of course, infinitely more enjoyable. The former has been my sad fate for the past three weeks – but now I’m fit for fight and shall join my dear compadres in the Casa del Schlager tonight for the third Swedish semi of the year!

And just in time too, because the game is really afoot this week. I still think we could definitely send Loreen to Baku with Euphoria and be darned proud of ourselves, and maybe we should, but there’s definitely good stuff in this third semi!

Here, at SVT:s website, you can see and hear a minute of each song.

It starts off with five pretty boy band boys singing “I want to be your Youngblood love”.

Well hello there. Cougar ears pricking up, along with musings about Fredrik Kempe’s preferences as this is his second song on the same theme – Manboy was the first. Hmmm.

The fourth song is also worth looking out for – three catsuited babes with slick dance moves singing RedOne’s latest creation. The 80’s sound and the line “Dirty disco, I’m loving every note” feel promising indeed.

Song five features a boy-haired and angel-voiced girl singing a very agreeable Kent-like song with a bossa rhythm in Swedish – high points for that! and song six gives us Andreas Johnson, whose patience in these matters is only equaled by Alcazar’s – so many good songs and never a win. This year’s variation on his sixties spin sounds really nice and sticks in my head.

And song seven is also definitely worth tuning in for. Lovely Molly Sandén has grown up a bit and grown a lot in confidence, and this made the hair on my arms stand up. I do love a good ballad, and Molly’s voice is so great.

Tonight’s last song will bring an utter car crash have-to-watch-but-dying-of-embarrassment extravaganza, as one of Sweden’s most pretentious writers recites poetry over euro trash techno… I do hope I survive this.

First love!

February 14, 2011

Yup, the first of this year’s chosen songs that makes me hit “replay” and jazz along has appeared! And it’s fellow Nordic country Iceland! Gods know those guys could do with a break after last year’s events. This is a very pleasing and very well executed number. Love the happy yet wistful jazzy/big band sound. The guys look very snazzy, the look is great, and some of them are definitely pleasant to look at. Also, they are clearly proper musicians and singers. Relaxed, great vibe, very authentic feel. I don’t particularly want to use the clichéd term ”real music”, but I kinda have to. Best among the songs revealed so far for me.

Oh my god

February 12, 2011

…is clearly the trendy phrase in Swedish songwriting this year. There are two songs with this same name in the Melodifestivalen semis.

Exhibit A:

While last week’s showing by Le Kid was a bit too Junior Eurovision and staccato for me (although they have fabulous dress sense) I am IN LOVE with this week’s heavenly invocation. Listen to it fast, before it disappears:

Exhibit B

Happy, bouncy, well written retro pop with a good singer,  a super catchy hook and a marching band feel that for some reason reminds me of this:

I have a feeling it will go nowhere though. Tonight’s semi has a lot else in it, which I will return to in a while, after I have been a good girl and analyzed the shit out of a mobile phone manual (University course assignment).

’tis the season…

February 11, 2011

Finally, that special time of year has come around. There’s that feeling in the air, that sense of newness, of everything fresh and reborn. People have a special spring in their step and beautiful birds sing sweet songs. I am, of course, talking about…
…Eurovision season! happy happy

Tonight, maybe even as we speak (or write, as may be our fancy) the Irish selection is under way. Also, a young man you may be acquainted with, Alexander Rybak, is doing a Beverly Hills Cop themed cha-cha-cha on my TV screen. But the Eurofate of the isle that is so dear to my heart is certainly more important.

Before I heard the Irish songs, I was saying one single prayer: please gods my Irish dears do not foist  Jedward upon the unsuspecting European public. But after having listened, I have to say that there is a huge glaring problem: Jedward have the best song out of the bunch. And while I find them more monumentally irritating than I can actually describe, their song Lipstick is so far ahead of the rest I think it is actually Ireland’s best bet. I can’t believe I’m saying this. Besides, it reminds me quite a bit of  Manboy which Sweden, in hindsight, maybe should have sent last year.

The only other option for Ireland is Nikki Kavanagh with Falling. Or is it Fallin’? It has a good, modern, cool sound that could appeal across the board, and Nikki has a grand voice (see? I am almost Irish!) and looks great. Shine on is severly boring and very unforgettable, Send me an angel sounds way too religious and choral, and the Vard sisters would, sadly, never work in Eurovision. I really want to like Talking with Jennifer, but it’s too too hard. It goes nowhere at all but to a Joshua Kadison convention, which is not a bad place, but it is not Eurovision at all.
We will just have to see. But I’m glad the decision is not in my hands.


March 14, 2010

Last night was very satisfactory indeed. I’m very pleased that Sweden is sending “This is my life” with tiny superstar Anna Bergendahl to Eurovision! Where this will place us is anyone’s guess, but this is a very good entry and very different from what we have been doing during the past few years. Anna and her song have heart, soul, genuine feeling and youth. Far from overproduced calculated pop. So Europe, will you like this?

Everyone at Casa del Schlager (the name of my dear friend X:s home during Eurovision season) was in agreement: this was the right winner. We had some grumbling about Jessica’s low points (from moi, the other’s don’t get the greatness of that song at all) and left field enthusiasm for Ola’s Unstoppable (Karin’s taste apparently coincides with Serbia’s and Ireland’s) as well as outbursts of old fashioned schlager love for Pernilla (Sofia was the culprit there). But we were unanimously unimpressed by Salem’s “Keep on walking”. It has ten good seconds that are repeated about two hundred times – the last time I checked, that did not fill the requirements for a good song.  And we were all sad that brilliant lovely Darin did not do better.

Today is clearly a day for revelling in Anna Bergendahl stuff, and here’s where you find it. Two years ago, when she was an even tinier sixteen, she walked nervously into the Swedish Idol audition with her guitar and completely wowed the jury. Enjoy that here:

And she went through to the final selection for the programme. This clip has English subtitles:

Then she did this. This is goosebumps all over. Remember, she is sixteen here. Sixteen.

Ridiculously impressive.

Anna having fun and playing on stage:

And for this last clip, my friends, I have no words. A guy at the end screams “Anna, I love you!” I understand why.

Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night…

March 13, 2010

Tonight is Melodifestivaaaaaaal…!
Stockholm has been blessed with gorgeous weather today, sun and blue skies, and warm enough so I don’t have to zip up my jacket while having coffee on my balcony.
Also, I have the perfect clothing for the event. I found a skirt with pink glittery bubbles on about a week ago.
In short, nothing can go wrong…
…yes, of course it can, because of the fickleness and unpredictability of The Public Vote. Will Sweden choose to ignore the fact that Fredrik Kempe songs have given us 18th and 21st places over the past two years? Will super pretty Eric Saade splash his way into enough hearts (or other relevant body parts) to win? Will Pernilla Wahlgren’s golden confetti and enormous energy sparkle enough to  make us forget that nobody out there understands Swedish schlager anymore?
I hope not. What my head, my tactical and strategic brain, hopes for you can read in the post just below this one.  What my heart hopes for, how I feel about the songs without giving a damn where we end up in Oslo, is this:
All pictures courtesy of  Poplight, photographers Jenny Staaf and Mattias Bolander.

1. I did it for love, Jessica Andersson

I’ve really said it all already. I love this simple, understated masterpiece of a song. And I have a huge soft spot for Jessica.

2. We can work it out, Andreas Johnson

Another beautiful ballad that gives me the shivers. With lyrics that move me as well, which is not really standard Eurovision fare:

You cover me with peace until the war is over
Still the hurting will remain ’cause tonight is getting colder
if the road that we walk upon should turn back and not straight on

And lately I’ve been trying not to fall apart, still my heart
says after all we’ve been through love is still to be found in the dark
We can work it out, we can work it out

You walked into my room and everything was broken
And you brought me back to life, took my pain unspoken
And I saw how hard you tried
Yeah, I could feel the pain inside

The melancholy feel of this one really hits my heart. And Andreas is just great on stage.

3. You’re out of my life, Darin

Aaaand another melancholy ballad about love gone wrong. Svenska Dagbladet’s Eurovision writer Dan Backman made me giggle this morning when he wrote that Pernilla is a light in the dark of a final lineup characterised by serious men with relationship problems. Darin’s honesty and passion go through the screen, and my best Eurovision friend had the same soft sweet look in his eyes after this performance as we both did after Sibel’s performance in 2008. Darin has that same combination of puppydog innocence and star quality as Sibel does.

4. This is my life, Anna Bergendahl

Just like Darin, Anna makes her song much better than it would be with any other performer. Youthful honesty and heart on sleeve for the win.  That said, it’s a good song on its own, just not a great one, but this brilliant 18-year-old makes it great.

5. Kom, Timoteij

My guilty pleasure this year. Yes it’s bubblegum pop, yes it’s way too simple and banal, yes the girls have a ways to go before they’ll actually be professional performers, but oh I like this. I also think the lyrics in the chorus are very cleverly done despite their very repetitive simplicity. It works.

6. Unstoppable, Ola

This is a good pop song. No more, no less. Hummable and catchy, and it has a good and interesting musical twist in the second part of the chorus – from the line “Nathalie is coming back from the dead again” – but it makes me feel exactly nothing. Pleasant, it has nothing at all wrong with it, but it leaves me completely unaffected. Like eating a cucumber.

7. Jag vill om du vågar, Pernilla Wahlgren

I do love schlager. And I know I’ll be dancing and singing my heart out to this when she performs it at Stockholm Pride’s schlager evening in August. But for me, it’s just not as good as, say, Linda Bengtzing’s corkers in the same genre,  Alla flickor and Hur svårt kan det va.

8. Manboy, Eric Saade

I basically feel that this is totally soulless Eurodancepop. It’s not a bad tune, and gods know that it sticks like glue, and he is lovely and very welcome to sing this in my bed, but this is manufactured over produced hitlist pop and does not have a genuine bone in its body. Sorry.

9. Keep on walking, Salem al Fakir

He’s a very talented musician and songwriter. But a great ten second chorus that is repeated what feels like two hundred times is not quite enough for me. If he had padded this with equally great stuff in between, and cut out like 90 percent of the repetitions, I’d be in. Now, not so much.

10. Hollow, Peter Jöback

For me, this is just a completely overblown soufflé of a musical number that collapses under its own weight of melodrama. All the lasers in the world can’t help this, I’m afraid.

Listen to all the songs in the final here.

Shortly before the show starts, at 20:00 CET, a link to the webcast will appear here.

The full lineup reads as follows: (composers in brackets)

  1. Darin – You’re out of my life
    (Henrik Janson, Tony Nilsson)
  2. Pernilla Wahlgren – Jag vill om du vågar
    (Pontus Assarsson, Jörgen Ringqvist, Daniel Barkman)
  3. Andreas Johnson – We can work it out
    (Bobby Ljunggren, Marcos Ubeda/Andreas Johnson)
  4. Timoteij – Kom
    (Niclas Arn, Karl Eurén, Gustav Eurén)
  5. Peter Jöback – Hollow
    (Anders Hansson, Fredrik Kempe)
  6. Ola Svensson – Unstoppable
    (Dimitri Stassos, Alexander Kronlund, Hanif Sabzevari, Ola Svensson)
  7. Jessica Andersson – I did it for love
    (Kristian Wejshag, Lars “Dille” Diedricson)
  8. Salem Al Fakir – Keep on walking
    (Salem Al Fakir)
  9. Anna Bergendahl – This is my life
    (Bobby Ljuggren/Kristian Lagerström)
  10. Eric Saade – Manboy
    (Fredrik Kempe, Peter Boström/Fredrik Kempe)

Saturday night’s all right for fighting

March 12, 2010

Or – It’s the classical dilemma between the head and the heart…

On Saturday night it’s finally time for the Swedish Melodifestivalen final!

I’ve been saying, as has most of the Swedish Eurovision population, that this year is an unusually bleak one. But we have managed to scrape together a final lineup that actually has quite a bit of good stuff in it.

When voting or rooting for a song there is always the question of whether you should listen to your heart and go with the song that fits your own personal taste, or if you should be more tactical and try to predict what might do well out there in the big bad Eurovision world. I will make two lists for Saturday: one that  follows my heart and one that follows my head.
First out: head. Headlines, if  you wish… in order from place ten to place one, from  what I think is least likely to succeed to what I think is most likely. Comments and reflections are most welcome.

10: Jag vill om du vågar, Pernilla Wahlgren
We’ve learned the lesson by now – the world is not as enamoured with Swedish schlager as we would like. Sad but true.

9: Hollow, Peter Jöback
Surely, surely we have also learned the lesson that Fredrik Kempe’s songs work about as well as traditional schlager, i.e. not at all? After two years of sinking like a stone, it would be plain mad to send a Kempe song for the third year in a row. Also, there is a thin line with this kind of ballad, a line beyond which you just descend into pompous melodrama silliness. This song crosses that line. And Peter Jöback’s delivery, while brilliant and just right in musicals, is the final thing that makes this  Just Too Much.

8: Unstoppable, Ola
It gets tricky to call from here on up to 4th place, but as sweet and young as Ola is, the song is too forgettable. I think this would come off as very anonymous in Oslo.

7: Keep on walking, Salem al Fakir
Salem and his song, on the other hand, stand out quite a bit. The reason I do not see this as having a better chance is the very static staging. Man at piano does not cut it in this age of Ukrainian spinning wheels of death and mad blue Albanian mime gimps. Also, the song gets awfully repetitive toward the end.

6: We can work it out, Andreas Johnson
Maybe Salem and Andreas should change places, I honestly don’t know. Andreas is, after all, quite a bit over 30, and Eurovision has shown itself to be extremely ageist over the past years. But he is such a star on stage, his voice and delivery impeccable, and I think this song is really good. Although it does suffer from the widespread malaise of chorus not delivering what great verses promise.

5: Manboy, Eric Saade
Another Kempe composition, and one I’m afraid could fall flat on its pretty face. It has a lot going for it – it’s super catchy, it has a boy (manboy?) being sexy and sexual, and Eric is hands down the best looking contestant in this year’s bunch. He has good if not quite great energy on stage (I can’t help thinking of what Måns Zelmerlöw could have done with this) and the shower at the end will definitely secure votes. I’m sure he’d have quite a wide appeal over the sexes as well. But I fear that the song would be perceived as shallow heard-it-before Swedish schlager, even if we Swedes don’t see it that way. Sending this would be a real gamble.

4: I did it for love, Jessica Andersson
I’ll willingly admit that the fact that I personally plain adore this song might affect my judgment. But I think the simplicity of this lovely ballad, and the way it echoes back to decades when songs were songs and not gimmicks, could hit home, at least across Western Europe.  And ms. Andersson is stunning, with an impeccable voice and a lot of warmth when she turns her smile on. But she is pushing 40, and the ageist spectre could rear its ugly nul points head here as well.

The top 3 I think would all do pretty well:

3: Kom, Timoteij
When this won its semi final a lot of people were shocked. I definitely expected Darin to walk away with that victory, but I’m not at all surprised to see this in the final. It’s positively infectious in its instant catchiness,  it ticks the ethno boxes nicely, and you should never underestimate the power of young blonde girls. They’re not even out of school yet.
My major problem with this one is the glaringly obvious and hugely silly fact that the instruments just  hang around the girls’ necks like very heavy necklaces. They need to lose the instruments that are not actually featured in the accompaniment and learn to pretend play the others convincingly. Otherwise this comes off as amateur night at your local highschool. But with more professionalism, I think this could do quite nicely indeed.

2:  You’re out of my life, Darin
The second best voice, second prettiest boy and second highest or highest star quality in the field. The song is not really that strong, but Darin completely makes us believe that it is. He delivers it with feeling, vulnerability and honesty, he sells it perfectly, and this guy should be the finalist who has the broadest appeal across the motley crew of voting countries. Or could racism be an danger here, as a friend pointed out yesterday? Anyhow, young fresh face, beautiful song and a genre Sweden has not sent before – this would be perceived as new and interesting, and it’s completely genuine.

1: This is my life, Anna Bergendahl

A lot of what I say for Darin’s song and performance applies here as well. The girl’s a wonder, her voice is brilliant, there’s a Cranberries feel to the singing in places, and she shines through the screen with youth and honesty. I think this song is better and more instantly likeable than Darin’s, and I think Anna makes a little more of an impact.  There are definite Yohanna vibes here, and that did rather well last year, didn’t it?