Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Skiing is believing...

... in pain, cold feet and sore muscles.

I just came back from a weekend in Tahoe. Considering I only live a few hours drive away, it was just a question of time before I would have ended up there.

Being from Sweden, I'm no stranger to freezing temperatures, snow, ice or slippery roads. However, being from Sweden has sheltered me from the usage of snow chains and the fuss of putting them on and taking them off. After hours of tedious and noisy driving, I, my husband and our Honda Civic finally made it up the mountains.

We joined our friends late Friday night and on Saturday morning the 14 of us headed for the slopes. I've skied several times before and I actually know I don't really enjoy it, but every time I'm faced with it I trick myself into believing that maybe I will love it this time around. As it turned out, this time was actually better! I'm still pretty sure skiing is not one of my favorite things to do, but I did enjoy myself more than previous times. Two things made the difference. I was only on skis for one day and we were plenty of people on the same skill level.

I wish I loved skiing. I'm fortunate enough to live just a few hours away from good slopes. I have the physical (and financial) means to ski. I really enjoy all the things surrounding skiing, like the aprés-ski and relaxing with friends. But I can't escape the pain, the cold feet and the sore muscles. Add the fact that I have weak knees and that I'm definitely a person who preferes heat over cold and beaches over snow and you'll see why I'll probably never be a keen skier. I say probably never, cause you never know, maybe next time, I will love it!

Life besides the Melody Festival

Phew! After months of writing about the Swedish Melody Festival, I'm finally back to writing about... well, stuff. Believe it or not, but the Melody Festival isn't the only thing that has occupied my life since February. Let's see what's worth mentioning...

I've had a friend from Sweden visiting. It's always nice to have visitors from "home". It's such a strange sensation, seeing someone in a place where you normally would never meet. But after the initial acclimatization it's like they've never been living anywhere else except in your sofa.

Before the Sweden visit my husband and I held a "Pilot Festival". We watched 10 different pilot episodes we've never seen before (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Six Feet Under, Dead Like Me, Glee, Dr. Who, Pushing Daisies, Cosby, Breaking Bad, M.A.S.H and Jersey Shore). They were all interesting in their different ways, but Jersey Shore scared the bejesus out of me! The only series that really stuck with me was "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer". I know I'm about 1,5 decades too late, but I've seen the first two seasons now and I really like it! No surprise really, considering I really like Joss Whedon's work (the write/director) such as Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Firefly (he also co-wrote Toy Story). Also, David Boreanaz adds to the likability of the series.

For those of you who live somewhere around San Francisco, I really want to recommend a musical, "Party of 2 - The mating Musical". If you can, go see it! You won't regret it! The stage is super intimate and the entire ensamble consist of only two actors and a piano player. Go with a friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a spouse or go by yourself. If you've ever been in a relationship, you hare guaranteed to get a good laugh!

What else has happened since February... I've had my first Chicago style deep dish pizza. I had two slices and that was all I needed for the entire day! The pizza was insane. Delicious, but insane. I can't even remember last time I was that stuffed. I've also tried Scrap-booking for the very first time. Now I can remove yet another skill from my "Potential Skills list". I bet you can become good at it, but I'm definitely not a natural talent.

Else from that, life has continued its course. Spring is apparently approaching, even though the rain makes everything look like fall. There are a handful of really interesting things happening in the near future, but more on that when time comes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Melody Festival, The Results

This year's Melody Festival has come to an end. Who won? Eric Saade. Surprise, surprise! Regardless of my personal feelings, Eric Saade is the right song to win. The jury-groups and the public agreed this time, they both voted Eric Saade as the winner.

Each year different jury-groups gets the opportunity to allocate points and their points combined makes up for 50% of the total points, the rest is decided by the public. So, to be fair, he deserved to win.

The finale show had a lot to offer. Many of the artist sounded better in the finale (with the exception of Eric Saade, who I thought was better in the elimination round). The entertainment between act were good and the the whole show was very well-produced.

I only had two complaints. SVT (public service tv and producer of the program) really needs to look over its bandwidth. The first half of the program was more or less impossible to watch. All the buffering was beyond annoying! Secondly, the dancers in the introduction performance wore Onepieces!!! I blogged about this specific garment a few months back, and I refuse to accept that they are fashionable (read my December post: "Fashion forward? Or fashion awkward?)!

My favorite in the finale was Swingfly. The act was even better this time, thanks to Christoffer Hiding. He held it together a lot better the second time around and he carried his voice better. I knew from the start that Swingfly wouldn't win the competition, but I was pleasantly surprised that the Swedish people ranked them as number 4 (even thought the total points placed them as number 5). It was a surprise that Danny Saucedo came in number 2, after Eric Saade. I thought that Eric Saade would steal most of Danny Saucedo's votes, but apparently there are more than enough fans to support both pretty boys doing club-hits. Another nice surprise was that The Moniker came in 3rd place, placing higher than both the songs that won his elimination round.

I know it's not nice to laugh at other's misery, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't ecstatic about Brolle finishing last. Sara Varga came in 9th place which was also pleasing.

All in all, it's been fun! Many highs and many lows, but most importantly there has been a lot of opinions and emotions. I can't wait until next year! But before then, we have a Eurovision Songcontest to look forward to. On May 14th (9 PM CET), all of Europe will be engaged in a friendly, but serious, competition. Even though Eric Saade wasn't my favorite, I will cross all my fingers that he will do well and that Sweden will, once again, be a force to be reckoned with. I will, of course, write about the event when time comes. Until then, I will summarize the Swedish Melody Festival 2011 as follows:

The 3 worst things in this year's Melody Festival has been...

... the host and hostess. I've always thought it to be an honor to host the Melody Festival, but I refuse to believe that Marie and Rikard were the top choices for this year's competition!
... Christer Sjögren doing David Bowie's "Life on Mars". I liked the idea to have famous artist do songs and performances out of their normal comfort zone, but this was way below par. There must be a multitude of artists out there who would dare to losen up more and who wouldn't take themselves to fricking seriously!
... the elimination of Christian Walz. I still don't understand how it happened. I've watched the Melody Festival every week with another Eurovision fan, and she has heard me complain about the loss of Christian Walz every week since his elimination. I might never get over it!

The 3 best things in this year's Melody Festival has been...

... Swingfly. Thank you for making me dance.
... The Moniker. Thank you for making me smile.
... Christian Walz. Thank you.

As a final remark, I will leave you with my favorite song and artist this year. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Melody Festival 2011, The Finale

It's almost time!! On Saturday it's the end of the line, it's crunch time, it's the big crescendo, it's the grand finale of this year's Melody Festival! If you're interested in watching it on Saturday, they will be streaming it live on: (starting 8 pm, CET).

I want to give you a rundown of the contestants competing on Saturday. If you have read my previous posts, you should have some background information on all the artists. Now I will post each song and try to predict how they will do in the finale. Living in the US, I've been able to escape the media-frenzy surrounding this fabulous competition, so my conclusions have not been influenced by public opinions.

1. In the Club, with Danny Saucedo: Solid club-hit. This guy can sing and dance. The chorus is a bit repetitive, but I can forgive it because it's so freaking well-produced. Under all other circumstance he would do brilliantly in the competition, however, his younger and even dreamier equivalent, Eric Saade is competing in the same finale. I personally prefere Danny, but it's mostly because Eric Saade's picture perfect face gives me the creeps!

2. Spring för livet, with Sara Varga: Well, this was not a favorite of mine. It has nothing to do with the song, it's all because of her and the image she has. To me, a singer/song writer should look genuine, personable and honest. Sara Varga looks like a girl who should dress in something skimpy and record a club-hit. Maybe it's me being sensitive, but Restalyn and singer/songwriter doesn't go together! Thankfully, I'm pretty certain she will not do too hot in the finale and I can't wait until I get her song on CD... cause I do kinda like the song...

3. Oh my God, with The Moniker: This is one of my favorite songs in this year's competition. Sure it's different and I'm not sure that it would do well in Eurovision, but I don't care. It puts a big smile on my face and Daniel Karlsson (aka The Moniker) seems to really enjoy himself. The biggest problem I see with this song is that it grows on you. In Eurovision you only have one shot, it needs to stick with you right away. Well, honestly I don't think I have too much to worry about. Unfortunately, this will not be a contender for the throne.

4. 7 Days and 7 Nights, with Brolle: It this my least favorite song? I think it is! I found out after his elimination round that, apparently, he is really popular. I can't understand why. Given that I really disliked it, I hope it will come in last, but I don't think it will. Hopefully it will end up in the bottom half. If he wins... I don't even want to finish that train of thought...

5. E det fel på mig, with Linda Bengtzing: I think most of us (the Swedish people and I) are in total agreement. It's great that she's a part of the finale, but do NOT send her to Eurovision! She and her song represents the tradition of the Swedish Melody Festival better than anyone. For that reason people sent her to the finale. But I bet almost every single on of us would be ashamed to send her to Eurovision to represent Sweden. Linda Bengtzing is a total darling but she will probably finish close to the bottom in the finale.

6. Leaving Home, with Nicke Borg: Yet another one of my favorites. It didn't blow my mind, but it was one of few songs I would classify as good music. Sweden almost always has a song from the rock genre in the finale. I usually like them, especially if it's a rock ballad. Considering this is not only the only rock song in the finale, it's also the only ballad, I'm sure it will have some fans out there. But sadly, I'm also sure this will not be the winner of the competition.

7. Me and My Drum, with Swingfly: Speaking of favorites, this is one as well. Well, it's actually not one as well, I believe this is my ultimate favorite in the finale. Nicke Borg's song is good music, The Moniker makes me smile from ear to ear, but Swingfly makes me want to hit the gym, that's how much energy it has! It's impossible to sit still to it. It's a sad thing that I don't believe it will win, but it's not going to stop me enjoying it many times over in the future. Go Swingfly!!

8. I'm in Love, with Sanna Nielsen: ZZZzzzz... I love you Sanna, but OMG this song is boring! I think I've heard this before... in every single Melody Festival that has been the past decade! So, the conclusion should be that it's a successful concept. Sure enough, it is. It got her straight through to the finale and she is sure to get a lot of votes on Saturday. The only threat to her reasonable success on Saturday (she won't win) is that she and Linda Bengtzing will be fighting over the same voters. But for me, I believe in evolution and I'm ready to leave this particular kind of music behind.

9. The King, with The Playtones: Not my kind of music, but I guess if you're into this genre av music this might be quite good. Personally I think it's worrisome that there are many songs in this year's finale that I don't mind never hearing again and unfortunately this song falls into that category. I will admit that I'm happy that The Playtones made it to the finale. I'm hoping they will steal some votes from Brolle and hopefully none of them will do particularly good on Saturday.

10. Popular, with Eric Saade: Ok, pretty boy, will you win the whole shebang? My guess, yes. He is pretty, he looks cool, he can dance, he can sing and the whole performance is well-rehearsed and well-produced. Will I be happy when they announce him the winner? No. Will I be upset that he won? Not really. If we end up sending Eric Saade to Eurovision, at least we know he will deliver. Maybe not a top result, but I'm sure there are plenty of teenaged girls in Europe, just waiting to fall in love with Eric Saade.

All in all, my favorite is Swingfly. However, I will be insanely happy if Swingfly, The Moniker or Nicke Borg wins the finale. But I'm not going to kid myself, it's not likely to happen. If I would place a bet, it would be on Eric Saade. And I can live with that. History says that all the winners since they first introduced Elimination rounds has been the winner of their elimination round. If that is true the grand price will go to either Danny, Sanna Nielsen, Eric Saade or Linda Bengtzing.

The most important thing to me is that the Swedish people vote for their favorite song, not the song that we predict will give us the best result in Eurovision. The winner on Saturday will be representing the people of Sweden, so let it reflect what we actually like rather than what we believe is the best tactical or political move.

I live in the US, so I won't be able to vote in the finale. If you are able, please vote once for me. Preferably on Swingfly, but The Moniker or Nicke Borg will do as well. Soon it's time to chill the pink Champagne, prepare the finger-food, decorate the living room and put on a pink dress. I'll get back to you with the results and some final thoughts.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Melody Festival 2011, The Second Chance

Last Saturday we decided on the last two performances to send to the finale next week. As you might have understood by now, each elimination round has sent two songs directly to the finale, two songs have gotten a Second Chance and four songs have been eliminated. Two days ago the Second Chance was given to the eight performances who still had a shot at a place in the finale.

This is perhaps my least favorite part of the Swedish Melody Festival. It feels a bit redundant. If you came, at best, in third place in your elimination round, what makes you believe that you will have a chance at winning the finale. But regardless of me disliking this part of the competition, I obviously have opinions about the results.

This part of the competition is much different from the previous weeks. Up until now, it has been simple voting that have determined the faith of the contestants. However, in yesterday's round, the contestants were competing head-to-head, in duels. According to a pre-set tournament scheme, two songs would be crowned the winners and be given a pass to the finale next week.

I'm not going to explain the rules in more detail, let me head straight to the results.

First of all, with the elimination procedure shown above, there is always the chance that your two favorites will end up in the same quater-final group. Of course this was true in my case. But before I tell you about the winners, let me start at the beginning.

The first duel was between Jenny Silver and Love Generation. If you want to know more about any specific performances and songs, please refere to my blog-posts from previous weeks. In this duel, I didn't really have an preferences. Both of them were super generic in their own ways and we already have similar kind of music in the finale. If I forced myself to have an opinion, it would have been Jenny Silver. The Swedish people preferred Love Generation.

The second duel was more interesting. It was between Loreen and Sara Varga. I definitely hoped Loreen would go on to the next round, but I should have learnt by now not to care too much, I tend to get disappointed. And yes, I was disappointed yet again. Sara Varga survived and Loreen was eliminated.

The third duel was between The Moniker and Linda Pritchard. It was painful to watch. They were my favorites performances of all the ones who got a second chance. Unfortunately, they had to cancel each other out. However, I did have a favorite. Considering that I wanted The Moniker to go straight to the finale from his elimination round, I obviously hope for his success. This time it wasn't in vain, he did survive the first round of duels.

The fourth and last duel was between Shirley's Angels and Pernilla Andersson. I wasn't too passionately involved in this duel. I like all the artists performing, but none of the songs did anything for me. I was leaning towards Shirley's Angels, but given the shear joy and surprise on Pernilla Andersson's face, when they announced her as the winner of the duel, it made me happy that she won this duel.

Semi-finals. The first semi-final was between Love Generation and Sara Varga. It was difficult for me to be happy about the outcome, regardless of what it would be. I really didn't care much about Love Generation and Sara Varga disturbed me as an artist. Her songs is actually ok, but she is very "plastic-fantastic" and looks very shallow. But for the sake of having a good mix in the finale, I guess I preferred Sara Varga. And as it turned out, I will see more of her in next week's finale.

The Second semi-final was much more interesting. If the other semi-final was between pretty, young ladies with perfect hair and make-up, this semi-final was much more down to earth. Both The Moniker and Pernilla Andersson seemed genuinely nervous and you could see in their faces that they really cared. While they were busy being nervous, I was busy crossing all my fingers, hoping for The Monikers success. And HURRAY, he will be competing in the finale!

Next week is the final showdown. Who will be representing Sweden in 2011s Eurovision Songcontest? I'm pretty sure I already know the answer. But more about that in my next time...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Melody Festival 2011, part 4, The results

This weeks show was a nice surprise! I only really disliked one song. Not that I necessarily liked all the other contributions, but I wasn't as disappointed as I have grown used to being. But more importantly, the results were fantastic! The Swedish people and I couldn't have agreed more!

Melody Club: This actually was a bit of an disappointment. But it had a lot to do with the expectations. I thought it would be different and a bit alternative, but the song turned out to be a very mainstream and a watered down version of Melody Clubs music. If you've become successful by being different, the worst thing you can do is to suddenly try to please the masses by being generic. Another problem I had was the singing. I've never heard them live before but they sounded like a band who needs a lot of time in the editing room before releasing their music. They didn't make it through this elimination round.

Julia Alvgard: I was very impressed! The song itself was ok, I think I liked it a bit, but I will give her a perfect score for her nerves and live performance. Being a more or less completely inexperienced artist, she really held her own. She looked confident and her voice was strong. She didn't make it passed this round, but I believe it's because people preferred other artists, not so much because they minded her. Personally, I would have wanted her to get a Second Chance, but I didn't feel strongly about it and didn't mind that she was eliminated.

Lasse Stefaz: I have never been this happy about being wrong! I was right to predict that I would hate it. I really did! This might have been the worst song in this year's competition. However, I predicted that they would do well but as it turned out, I was dead wrong! Hurray! I was absolutely sure that they would advance! Given the reaction from the fellow competitors when they announced the result, I wasn't the only one surprised!

Linda Pritchard: This has the potential to become my favorite sing-along-song from this competition. There is nothing better than singing your lungs out in the car, to a good power-ballad. I love it and I know this song will suit me perfectly! Linda Pritchard has a deeper voice than many female singers, which I prefere (maybe because I, personally, can't hit the high notes). The song itself was nice enough. Are there better female artist out there? Sure! I still dream about the day when Sarah Dawn Finer will compete with a perfect power-ballad. I get chills just thinking about it! Apparently, I'm not the only sucker for power-ballads. The Swedish people liked it enough to want to see it again, in the Second Chance.

Anders Fernette: I don't have a whole lot to write about this artist or performance. It was nothing special at all. It was not good, not bad, not exciting, not boring, not modern, not dated and if there is one thing more frustrating than being bad, it's being nothing at all. However, this contribution was so much nothing that I'm not even frustrated by its nothingness. I don't know if the Swedish people agree with my description, but they did agree with my conclusion. We don't need/want to see it again.

Linda Bengtzing: If Anders Fernette is nothing, Linda Bengtzing is an abundance of everything. This was exactly what I expected. Crazy energy, up-beat, super smily and an insane wardrobe. She seems like such a darling, but what on earth was she wearing? I hope and believe that it was intensionally "tacky", because it suits her music. Also, I like her better with short hair. However, she made me smile, as always. This was not her best song, but then, most of her songs have a very similar sound, so if you've heard one you've heard them all. I've bashed other artist and songs for being predicable, generic and dated. She was all of the above. But I still liked it and wanted her to go straight to the finale. Luckily this meant agreeing with the Swedish people rather than wishful thinking. She was this elimination round's winner.

Nicke Borg: Best song of the night! So simple and so beautiful! One very tattooed man alone on the stage, singing a rock-ballad with heart and soul. He was not as good as last year's "Pain of Salvation" nor this year's "Christian Walz", but definitely one of my favorites still in the competition. Because he is very much still in it to win it. He was voted straight to the finale and it was well-deserved! I'm not expecting him to win the finale but I'm very much looking forward to seeing and hearing him again.

Love Generation: My mistake! I didn't mean to exclude them from my previous blog-post. I must have been in a hurry or forgot that there always are eight artist competing in each elimination round. Not that I would have had a whole lot information to share, Love Generation is a very "secretive" group. The group is made up of four pretty girls in their 20s. They are super trendy with their eclectic wardrobe and perfect make-up. They are "super-produced" and their sound ties it all up in a tough and edgy package. They are the 21st Century's "Spice Girls". The song and performance they delivered was very competent and well-produced, but again, fairly generic. I didn't mind them and as a result I didn't mind when they got a Second Chance.

Now we've heard all the songs competing in this year's Melody Festival. On Saturday it's time for the Second Chance and in 8 days it's time for the grand finale!