Friday, February 24, 2012

The Melody Festival, part 4

I can't believe it's already time for the forth and last elimination round. Only eight more performances to go and only eight more opportunities to be impressed and/or horrified. I suspect that I've already heard my favorite this year, but I would be very happy if this elimination round offers something even better. And it might. Either way, I hope and pray that we have heard this year's worst song. If the worst is still to come, I'll have to seriously reconsider my interest in this competition. Let me present this week's artists. As you know by now, I haven't heard any of the songs they will be performing.

Charlotte Perrelli: Charlotte Perrelli is a Royal in the Melody Festival. Not only has she won the competition twice, she also won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999. In 2008 she re-entered the Melody Festival stage, and after some controversy, she ended up winning. She was crowned the winner after receiving the majority of the jury votes. However, the public did not want to see her as the winner. Given that she ended up not doing too well in Eurovision Song Contest 2008, I'm not sure how well she will do this year. I've never been a fan of her voice and I don't expect anything exciting, however I'm expecting a real show. I think the Melody Festival is ready for a new chapter, with new artists.

OPA!: What a fantastic way to make a debut. The soon formerly unknown OPA! is lead by Michael Sideridis, who is a music teacher when he's not performing with OPA! The band members are made up of Michael's friends who he met while studying music at collage. They're exploring a new musical genre, by combining traditional Greek music with Swedish lyrics and sentiments. It will be very interesting to see how it will turn out. I might be more curious than I'm hopeful, but I'm very much looking forward to it.

Dynazty: This is the second time Dynazty perform on the Melody Festival stage. But it's their first year as headliners. Last year they paid tribute to former winner Anna Bergendahl by performing her song with a heavy metal twist. Because that's what they do, heavy metal with influences from the 90s. I like it already. They look the part, they have the sound and if they manage to deliver it too, they will easily win me over.

Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren: They don't came much more experienced than this. This is Lotta Engberg's 7th time in the Melody Festival. She debuted in 1984, won the competition in 1987 and last time we saw her in this competition was 2002. Christer Sjögren has not been as frequent of a competitor in the Melody Festival as his colleague, this is his second time around. However, he is very well known in the entertainment business, having been a staple in the music industry since the 70s. In 2008 he competed with one of the cheesiest songs I've ever heard, but was voted straight through to the finale. Lotta Engberg usually do pretty well in this competition too and the combination of Lotta and Christer makes me a bit worried. I really dislike their genre of music, but I know there is a whole generation out there who loves them and what they do. Since this is their first collaboration, I leave you with two links, one for each of them. (Lotta Engberg is the first lady to sing)

Hanna Lindblad: Hanna Lindblad comes from a background in musical theatre and has starred in several hit shows like Sound of Music, Saturday Night Fever and Singing in the Rain. She is also an educated dancer, graduating from The Ballet Academy in 2000. This is actually her second time competing in the Melody Festival. She competed in 2010, but didn't reach the audience and her song never made it to the radio. I didn't particularly like her in 2010, but the fun thing with fairly unknown artists is that they have the ability to surprise you.

Axel Algmark: Speaking of unknown artist. This 22 year old has mostly competed in local music competitions. He has done well in those, but it is a very big difference performing locally and performing infront of millions of people. I don't know... anything about him or his music. But I will keep an open mind and maybe, just maybe, he won't be as nervous as almost all other new artists competing on this stage.

Lisa Miskovsky: Ok, you got my attention. It's always fascinating when an artist you like and respect decide to take part in the Melody Festival. Lisa Miskovsky became a huge star in 2001, after her monster hit "Driving one of your cars". Since then she has continued to wow her audience with her music, won several awards, written music for Back Street Boys and for the video game Mirror's Edge. If all this didn't make her cool enough, she used to be a member of Sweden's national Snowboarding team and she's still active playing ice-hockey. I'm sure I will like her song, but even if I don't love it, I want her to do well. So I cross my fingers and hope for an amazing song that will leave the audience in awe.

Danny Saucedo: This eliminations round's pretty boy and former Swedish Idol contestant. Danny may have had his breakthrough in Swedish Idol 2006, but he has come a long way since. Several radio hits later, he's once again on the Melody Festival stage. He competed in 2009, where he finished 3rd with the group E.M.D. He competed last year and finished second. This year he's aiming for the top. It might not be a far fetched goal. He is very popular. I actually don't mind him as an artist, however, if he will give us another club-hit, I rather see someone else win. I hope he delivers a good song and a good show. If worse comes to worst, I would like to tolerate the song we send to Eurovision Song Contest. I'm already preparing myself for the reality that it might be him and I haven't even heard the song yet.

This will be an interesting elimination round. If I were to guess, without knowing anything about what they will be performing, I will guess Danny Saucedo to the finale. Not sure who will be joining him. I have a feeling Lotta Engberg and Christer Sjögren will make it to the Second Chance. Maybe Charlotte Perrelli will join them? If I was asked, not what I believe, but what I want, I would want to see Lisa Miskovsky in the finale and I would want Dynazty to survive the first cut.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Melody Festival, part 3, The results

What a surprise! I could never have guess how much I would care about the third elimination round. I had very low expectations going in to the third week, but this turned out to be the most upsetting elimination round this far. Let me start at the beginning.

Youngblood: Boy-band... I guess they were... Honestly, I'm having some difficulties judging their looks, they just look very young to me. They certainly sounded young. It was also obvious that they lacked experience and everything looked amateurish. If it wasn't for the costly stage show, it could have been something out of a high-school talent show. They should thank their lucky star that an big chunk of the voters are adolescent girls. I'm expecting a lot of shrieking at the Second Chance.

Maria Benhajji: I almost wanted to hit the mute button on my remote. Maria Benhajji's singing was awful. I'm sure she has a beautiful voice and that she has a solid singing technique, but when you can hear her nerves in every single note, it doesn't matter. She has had a great career as a backup singer, and maybe she should continue down that path. She was this elimination round's loser.

Mattias Andreasson: I had neither high expectations, nor low expectation. I had absolutely no expectations on Mattias. When I found out he had written the song himself, I could feel myself cringe. However, he was the night's biggest surprise, well, at least in a positive sense. The Swedish R&B song he performed was actually really good. Maybe the song was more suitable for radio and maybe that's why he only ended up in 5th place. I would have loved to see him in the finale, but the Swedish people and I don't always agree, which would be evident several times this week.

Love Generation: There is not much to say. The three ladies looked good. That's about it. In all honesty, I don't remember the song. I made up my mind what I heard enough within the first minute and by the second minute I was planning out what to cook for lunch, contemplating how I really needed to vacuum my floors and trying to figure out how many calories were in my popcorn. The Swedish public were not impressed either. They gave Love Generation a 6th place.

Carolina Wallin Peréz: According to me, this was the best song of the night. Unfortunately, this might also have been the most misunderstood song of the night. I liked it because it was interesting and something new. It had a contemporary sound and her voice was delicate yet powerful. I would obviously have wanted to see her in the finale, but again, the Swedish public couldn't disagree with me more (or could they?) and only gave her a 7th place.

Andreas Johnsson: Here is a man who knows how to deliver. He delivered exactly what was expected of him. A professional performance, a solid voice and a good enough song. Yet still something was missing. I think it lacked passion, or relevance, or both. But I will not be too hard on him. The Swedish public and I agreed, he was good enough to pass the first round and get a Second Chance.

Molly Sandén: I felt very apprehensive towards Molly Sandén going into this weeks elimination round. I was expecting big blond hair and a big bright (and fake) smile. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she colored her hair brown. Unfortunately she still suffered from fake facial expressions, which was disturbing. But as long as I didn't look at her, the song was actually pretty great and she sure can sing. I would have been happier to give her a Second Chance, but I expected her to grab a ticket to the finale, which she did.

Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li: I don't know where to begin. I expected to have some issues with this song, but it was far worse then I could have ever imaged. I dare to say it's one of the worst songs I've ever heard. It was a cheesy Euro-techno beat in the background while a orange-tanned elderly author jabbered on (yes, he jabbered, not sang) about how love is the greatest miracle of life. AWFUL! But more chocking than anything is that it got enough votes to qualify to the finale. WHAT?!? I don't care what people say, there is no way anybody consider this good music. Some might have voted on this song because they like Björn Ranelid as an author, but I'm pretty sure he won a ticket to the finale because the song was so bad it made people vote sarcastically. It's horrifying that I will have to endure this song again in a few weeks.

This week was a mess! The two songs I wanted to give a Second Chance, did in fact, get another chance. However, my two favorites were nowhere to be found. Why Björn Ranelid was successful is beyond me. Now I only have one more week of potential favorites to go. I will keep an open mind, but I have a sneaking feeling that we have already seen the best.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, part 3

Half way done, half way to go. This week's elimination round will take place in Leksand and it promises to bring us the young, the old, the new and the established. Here's a short presentation of each artist. Remember that I haven't heard or know anything about the songs they will be performing on Saturday.

Youngblood: Talk about very young AND very new! This group was created last year and the four young men were handpicked by Melody Festival veteran composer, Fredrik Kempe. It's difficult to say how successful they will be, both because they are so new to the public and to each other, but also because the Melody Festival is already littered with young and good looking guys. Will there be room for more? I'm expecting a heavy dose of cheese, that's unfortunately not a good thing, as long as it's not served at the dinner table with a nice glass of wine.

Maria Benhajji: Each year the artists and songs competing in the Melody Festival are selected by a panel of experts. But for those artist and songwriters without an impressive resumé, there is another way to make yourself visible, the internet. Leading up to the Melody Festival, there is a web competition. Viewers can cast their votes and the song with most votes will be crowed the Web-joker of the year. This year, her name is Maria Benhajji. Although new as a solo artist, she as been singing as a backup singer to some very well known artist, such as Robyn. I can't seem to find any previous material of hers, so we will all have to wait until Saturday to hear her sing.

Mattias Andréasson: What would an elimination round be without a former Swedish Idol-contestant? This week, we will be watching Mattias Andreasson, who came 5th in Swedish Idol 2007. He is best know as one third of the boy-band EMD. It was also with EMD he came 3rd in the Melody Festival 2009. Now he's competing as a solo artist. I'm feeling a bit nervous, he should too. As a contestant in Swedish Idol he was almost forgettable. In EMD he was the weakest link, with the weakest look and voice. Maybe he will perform better singing solo? Doubtful... (he's the first guy singing)

Love Generation: This is an all female group who competed in last year's Melody Festival, where they reached some success, ending their journey in the Second Chance. Curiously, this is the second group in this elimination round that has been created through carefully picking each one of the three individuals. But unlike Youngblood, they have performed together for almost two years. If they are as they were last year, they will be pretty mediocre. Or maybe they will have ignited something new, now when they have gone from four group members to three.

Carolina Wallin Pérez: Those who know her, know her for her heartfelt interpretation of the rockband Kent's songs. Her signature genre of music is pop and jazz. She has a crisp and delicate voice and I'm curious to see what she will deliver. Since she hasn't released her own music, it's difficult to know anything about what kind of music she will be performing and how well she will do on stage. Hopefully it will be something great.

Andreas Johnsson: Here is a man with an impressive resumé, in and out of the Melody Festival. He had his break through in 1999. His single "Glorious" topped several charts in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. It even made it onto the American Billboard. Since then he has competed in the Melody Festival four times, each time making his way to the finale. He has never won, but in 2007 he finished second. He is a solid performer and he always delivers a professional quality. I can't say he has the most exciting music, but it's usually ok. Unfortunately I like his music better than I like him, but I'll try not to hold it against him.

Molly Sandén: As sure as there is an former Swedish Idol contestant in each elimination round, is that there will be an Barbie-looking, fake-smiling, female artist to annoy me. This week her name is Molly Sandén. I haven't seen much of her since her last appearance in the Melody Festival 2009 and my fingers are crossed that she has matured into a better artist. Very doubtful, but please prove me wrong! I might not like her, but the Swedish public saw something in her in 2009 where she managed to make her way to the finale.

Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li: Hm... either I can write a lot or there is not much to write about. Björn Ranelid is a multi-talented man. He is foremost known and acknowledged for his literary work. He has won several literary prices since 1983 and has since ventured into other areas in the entertainment business. I have no idea how he will do in the Melody Festival, I don't even know if he can sing. But to help him, he has recruited Sara Li. She is an avid stage performer and has been a part of different entertainment groups, but has never released any material of her own. This very unexpected duo has never worked together before and I fear the worst. I will be chocked if I end up liking this. I have no previous material to share, so let us share the surprise on Saturday.

What are my hopes and expectations on Saturday? I have none. I'm curious to know more about Maria Benhajji and Carolina Wallin Pérez. Else from that, I don't think I will care. The only thing I'm suspecting is that one or more of the artist will horrify me and that is always better than feeling completely indifferent.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Melody Festival, part 2, The Results

Another week, another elimination round and another set of results. All in all, the second elimination round of the Melody Festival was... disappointing. Not because the results were particularly upsetting, but because I felt fairly indifferent. The Melody Festival is suppose to make you feel happy, euphoric, chocked or even horrified, not offer as bland mixture of bland things. Let me elaborate.

Ulrik Munther: He was the first one out. It sounded better than I expected and his voice didn't sound as juvenile as I feared. The song was ok and he made a solid performance. I was pleasantly surprised, but nothing more. However, by the end of the night, after comparing him to the other contestants, he turned out to be one of my favorites. Am not sure if the Swedish public came to the same realization as I did and that's why he was sent directly to the finale, but he did finish as one of the night's winners.

Top Cats: I knew from the get go that I would have an issue with this. I'm not a big fan of rockabilly, especially when it's done with a cheesy flair. Unfortunately, for me, Top Cats delivered a humongous cheese fest. The thing is that I don't even remember the song and I can't say that my brain even registered the song while it was playing. The band members threw me off completely. I could not tear my focus away from their cheesy grins. However, rockabilly inspired music have had a very good track record in the Melody Festival and apparently they still do. The Second Chance just got a whole lot cheesier.

 Sonja Aldén: Ever so beautiful Sonja. There is something regal, yet vulnerable about her and it makes her approachable and full of integrity. She sang a typical Sonja power ballad. The smoke machine and the wind machine was working overtime to create the perfect backdrop to her performance. Unfortunately, the magic of Sonja didn't reach my ears. Unfortunately a very boring song sang by a shaky voice was all I heard. Sonja might be beautiful but if you sing a bad song poorly in a music competition, there is no room for you. The public agreed, and she finished 6th in this elimination round.

Andreas Lundstedt: From one disappointment to another. If Andreas Lundstedt was an unknown artist, competing in the Melody Festival for the first time, it would have been a decent performance. But with his experience and background, I expected very much more. It all felt very flat. Sure, it looked good, but his voice was really weak and it felt like I've heard his song many times before. If you don't have anything new to offer, maybe you should reconsider your participation instead of participating every other year. Apparently, I wasn't the only one expecting more. Only one artist received less votes.

Timoteij: Not great, not bad, not offensive. They delivered exactly what was expected of them. They also ended up getting a Second Chance, which also was expected. The only remark I have is that they seem to have gone to the "Look-pretty-but-loose-your-personality-school" since they made their last appearance in the Melody Festival. Just because you are young and pretty doesn't mean you need to look and smile like a Barbie.

David Lindgren: This was the biggest surprise of the night. By no means surprisingly good, but I was expecting something along the lines of show tunes, given David Lindgren's musical theatre background. Instead I got club pop and synchronized dancing. He was charming enough and he can sing but the song was one of a dussin. I would have preferred a song where he could have used his technical singing abilities, but if he would have done that, he probably wouldn't have been as successful in the competition. The Swedish public liked him and his performance and sent him straight through to the finale.

Mimi Oh: Mimi Oh turned out to be this eliminations round's loser. Frankly, I don't understand why. Sure, her voice was questionable at times, but at least she had something to show. Her 80s inspired disco pop was a welcomed splash of color and she was the first one who made me smile. I did absolutely not agree that this was the worst of the night and I would have wanted to give her a second chance. But when it came down to it, I wasn't too upset to see her go.

Thomas Di Leva: Speaking of people who made me smile. This was the highlight of the night. By no means was this the best song and Thomas Di Leva is not a particularly good singer, but he was, hands down, the greatest artist. He brought life to this week's competition. This wonderful and eccentric weirdo would have made the finale much more colorful, but unfortunately he did not manage to convince the general public. But then he has never appealed to the broad masses, so why start now, after 30 years as a successful and unique artist. He did however receive more votes than both Sonja Aldén and Andreas Lundstedt, who are all about the main-stream.

As you might have noticed, I wasn't too impressed this week. I would have wanted to see Thomas Di Leva in the finale and I wish I wouldn't have to see Top Cats again. But I don't care enough to be fired up about it. But to leave you on a positive note, I found it very refreshing to see how well the new and not yet established artists are doing. For some time, the Melody Festival has been about who's singing, rather than what they're singing. In that sense, I welcome, virtually unknown Ulrik Munther and David Lindgren, to the finale.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, part 2

This Saturday, The Melody Festival tour arrives the best city in the world, Göteborg. This elimination round promises to deliver established artists as well as new acquaintances. Here is a short presentation of each artist. As always, I have not heard any of the actual songs they will be performing.

Ulrik Munther: Don't let his young age fool you. He might only be 17, but he has been around since 2009. He had his career break-through after winning the Melody Grand Prix 2009, which is a junior version of the Eurovision Song Contest, limited to the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland). Since then he has had several successes on YouTube and one of his singles made the charts. I'm sure countless of young girls out there will looove Ulrik. Maybe his boyish charm will even appeal to the maternal instinct in some women, but all in all, I expect this to be nice enough, but nothing great.

Top Cats: Rockabilly. A hit or miss miss genre in my book. Let's see what Top Cats has to offer. They have played several local venues for the past decade, but through tv-appearances in the recent years, most notably Sweden's Got Talent, they have started to reach the general public. I look forward to see what they will perform. Sometimes, Rockabilly can be all about fun and charm, but sometimes it sounds really cheesy and dated.

Sonja Aldén: As much as I disliked Marie Serneholt last week, I love Sonja Aldén. As a performer, she is beautiful and genuine. She has a great voice and is an amazing song writer. Combine her efforts as song writer as well as lead singer, this is the 4th time Sonja Aldén participates in the Melody Festival. I'm a sucker for love ballads (when done well) so needless to say, I'm a sucker for Sonja.

Andreas Lundstedt: It almost seems futile to summarize Andreas Lundstedt's career in The Melody Festivals in a few sentences. He has participated as a solo artist three times previous and with his group Alcazar four times. As a soloartist he came in second place in 1996. Since 2003, Alcazar has been a Melody Festival staple. They have never won, but every song they have performed has turned out to be huge radiohit. However, the lack of first places hasn't stopped Andreas. He got to competed in the Eurovision Song Contest finals in 2006, representing Switzerland. I don't know what to expect of Andreas. He can undoubtedly sing, but I'm worried he won't be able to deliver anything we haven't heard before. But hopefully my worries are unfounded. Given his long career I will give you two links, one to his 1996 solo success and one link to one of his Alcazar performances.

Timoteij: Timoteij is a group, made up of four young girls, inspired by Swedish folk-music and pop. This is their second time in the competition. They participated in 2010 and managed to finish 5th place. I know what I'm expecting and if my suspicions are right, I will be quite indifferent. I'm not going to be offended, but I'm not going to be particularly impressed either. I like my cup of tea without the extra sugar.

David Lindgren: I'm afraid David Lindgren will not do too well in this elimination round. Which is a pity. I can't say I know anything about the song he will be performing but coming from a successful musical theatre background will unfortunately not help him a bit. More seasoned, more well-known and loved musical artist before him have failed in convincing the Melody Festival audience. Unfortunately, this show has almost always been more about flashing lights, wind machines and glitter than technical singing and voice quality. I have a very soft spot for crisp, musical theatre voices and show-tunes so I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this, even though I already know his fate.

Mimi Oh: I love what Mimi Oh is all about! Side swept hair, too much hairspray, leg warmers, cropped tops and neon colors. I'm not sure, yet, if I love her music, but I will applaude anyone who let the 80s influence their wardrobe as well as music. Somewhat of an internet senstation, Mimi Oh seems to have quite a few fans. I look forward to see what she has to offer and to be entertained!

Thomas Di Leva: I've absolutely gone through a Thomas Di Leva phase in life, as have many. I guess it is inevitable, considering he has been in the music business for over three decades. Everyone who has ever embraced the odd and unconventional must surely have a special place in their heart for this unlikely hero. It is somewhat of a sensation to see him in this competition. The Melody Festival is all about main-stream commercial hits and Thomas Di Leva is all about kaftans and the harmony of the universe. But maybe it's a testament in itself, to how Thomas Di Leva does what he want to do, not what it expected of him. His rainbow spaceship might take you on a ride beyond your wildest dreams. Having never appealed to the broader masses, I doubt he will make it beyond this elimination round, but who cares, he will be there on Saturday, blessing the stage with some wonderful weirdness.

Right off the bat, I can't say I have any obvious favorites, but I do expect to like a few. There are several great artists and voices among these competitors, so it will be interesting to see how they will use their resources and what songs they will be delivering. I can't wait!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, part 1, The Results

It's done! It's started! And it didn't disappoint!

The first elimination round of the Melody Festival gave us a smorgasbord of musical genres. At times it made it very difficult to compare one song against another. Many times it was impossible to compare at all. But with a mix of gut-feeling, initial reactions and future predictions the evenings contributions did eventually make sense and my ears could sort out my likes and dislikes.

Sean Banan: The confusion started right off the bat. A silly song, about silly things, sung by a silly artist. And it was all a part of the plan. Sean Banan delivered exactly what was expected of him. Was I entertained? Absolutely. Was it good music? Absolutely not! Would I like to see him perform again? Sure, why not? When compared to many of the other songs, at least I wasn't bored. It seems like the Swedish public agreed with me. Not quite good enough to qualify directly to the finale, but good enough to get a second chance.

Abalone Dots: Pretty girls who could sing and play instruments. They sounded good enough and their songs was not at all offensive. I expected to dislike them, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. If my suspicions are right, I will be happily singing along to this tune in the future. They didn't qualify passed this round, which is unfortunate, I would have wanted to give them a second chance.

The Moniker: In all honesty, this song didn't get a fair chance. It turned out to be nearly impossible to get an impression, the website was buffering throughout the entire performance. The few bits and pieces that did come through made no sense. After seeing the publics vote, maybe it wasn't just the buffering, the song didn't seem to make sense to the public either. The Moniker finished in last place in this elimination round.

Afro-Dite: Afro-Dite looked great, especially being ladies in their late 40s. They might have aged great, but unfortunately their music has just aged. High energy, very catchy and lots of glitter and sparkles, but the song turned boring within minutes. In that sense it was just as I expected and feared. It was nice seeing you ladies again, but I agree with the Swedish public, once is more than enough.

Dead by April: I liked this, I liked it a lot. It was refreshing to see how the Melody Festival has evolved and included metalcore with growling. I have a soft spot for rock, especially in the Melody Festival and this won me over. Surprisingly, it also won the hearts of the Swedish public. Not only did they survive passed the first elimination round, but they won one of the coveted tickets to the finale.

Marie Serneholt: This turned out to be one of the high-lights of the night. Marie performed an ok song that I'm sure will be played at various night clubs this summer. But as soon as she stepped onto the stage, all these feelings started to bubble up. With fingers crossed I hope to get my way. And surely I did. It seems like I'm not the only one who has an issue with Marie. She did NOT qualify to beyond this round and unlike last year, when she hosted the Melody Festival, I don't need to see her again after this week!

Torsten Flinck och Revolutionsorkestern: My guess is that you either like this kind of music or you don't. Not unlike Marmite. And just like Marmite, this is not something I digest easily. In my opinion, this was this week's bottom of the barrel. But as I suspected, there is an audience out there, who enjoy what Torsten had to offer and that audience was big enough to give him a second chance. I can't say I look forward to his repeat appearance.

Loreen: Thank you for bringing good music to the Melody Festival! My favorite of the night. I'm always excited to strengthen the bridge between good music and Eurovision Song Contest music. I love Eurovision, but the successful songs in Eurovision tend to be on the cheesy side of things. It needs to be very catchy as it has to attract a wide audience right away. What Loreen offered was not cheesy, but fresh. It was interesting yet still approchable. On top of it all, she looked great. The Swedish public agreed with me, they sent her straight through to the finale. I have a sneaking feeling she might turn out to be my overall favorite this year.

All in all, it was a good week. The show was good, the hosts were great, the songs were ok, but more importantly, the results were amazing! Hopefully Sweden will keep up the good work the coming weeks!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, part 1

Hello, to all the Eurovision fans out there! It's time again, time for The Swedish Melody Festival, 2012! Hurray! 

Few things are as loved and hated, worshipped and detested as the Eurovision Song Contest and the spectacle Sweden has made of the qualification rounds, The Melody Festival. Every spring the world revolves around The Melody Festival, both in the private and public domain. 

I've always been fascinated and very much entertained by The Melody Festival and The Eurovision Song Contest. However, unexpectedly, my interest has grown since I moved to the US. Maybe because living here has made it a coveted event, it's not constantly being shoved in my face. Also, I have found that it's more interesting to hear the songs and the artists without having read all the gossip about them weeks in advance.  

All the participating countries in The Eurovision Song Contest have their own way to select their contribution to the European finale. Sweden decide which song and artist to send by having four elimination rounds, followed by a "Second-chance" and finally a finale, where a winner is selected, through a combination of jury and public votes. The first elimination round takes place on February 4th, at 8pm (CET). To see it live:

Last year I spent several hours writing about The Melody Festival and I will keep to the same format this year. Every week I will write a pre-show post about the different artist performing that week, followed by a summary post after each show. The songs are kept a secret until the live show, so know that I write the artist presentations without knowing anything about the actual song they will be preforming:

Sean Banan: Sean Ramadi, a.k.a. Sean Banan, is a man of many talents. Artist, comedian, dancer and choreographer. I remember him from one of the early dance competition on tv, Floorfiller (2006). Since then he has had a re-accuring part in a popular comedy show, appeared on the Swedish Dancing with the stars and is currently co-hosting a talk show. As far as his music goes, it's a combination of club music and comedy. It attracts a younger audience, but his popularity is undeniable. I know what to expect, but I don't know how I'll react. Either I will absolutely hate it or I will secretly love it.

Abalone Dots: The group of three women (four when the band formed) has been performing Bluegrass and Country inspired music since 2000. They have not yet reached mainstream fame in Sweden, even though they have won prestigious awards. However, their musical successes has spread across the Atlantic and they frequently tour Bluegrass and Country music festivals in the US. Personally, Country is not my favorite music genre. My opinion about the song they will be performing will mostly depend on how much it is influenced by Bluegrass and Country.

The Moniker: Daniel Karlsson, a.k.a. The Moniker, graduated Swedish Idol 2007 where he finished 4th. He participated in last years Melody Festival and competed against Loreen (see further down) in the same elimination round. The Moniker, just like Loreen, had to re-qualify in "The Second Chance" to participate in the finale. Not only did he make it to the finale, but he ended up being last year's overall no. 3. His song "Oh My God!" was very catchy and you could not help but to smile when you heard it. I should mention though, that the song lost quite a lot of it's initial appeal after some repeated listenings. But it had very little to do with the song, but the fact that The Moniker, as a performer, added a lot of spark and the song felt flat without his whimsical persona and his contagious smile. I hope he will be as happy and as genuine this year as he was last.

Afro-Dite: Afro-Dite is this week's veterans. They have done it all before. Not only have they competed before, they have won before. In 2002 they won the Swedish Melody Festival with the song "Never Let it Go". In Eurovision Songcontest (in Estonia), they finished 8th place. Since then they have also competed in The Swedish Melody Festival 2003, where they finished 7th place. Outside the group, the members of the group are, individually, well known personalities in the Swedish entertainment business. I have some hopes but mainly fears. It's always dicey to revive icons. Unfortunately, more often than not, it's a disappointment. Either way, I'm sure they will put a smile on my face.

Dead by April: Believe it or not, this is not the first year, this Metalcore band has been in the Swedish Melody Festival. Last year they played behind one of Sweden's most beloved artists, Lena Philipsson, during her honorary performance as a heavy metal rocker. This year they are bringing their own music to the stage. I always welcome rockers to the Melody Festival. Sweden has a long and prosperous history with rock and metal. Hopefully Dead by April will stay true to who they are and not perform a watered down "adapted" version of their music.

Marie Serneholt: Marie knows the entertainment business very well and she has been a part of it since her break-through with A-teens in 1998. Since then she has competed in the Swedish Melodi Festival 2009 (where she didn't qualify to the finale), hosted it once and done tons of other public appearances. I don't know anything about the song she will be performing, and frankly, I dont care. I really dislike her as an artist. She is one of the least genuine people in the industry and everything about her seems fake, her hair, her nails, her smile and her "personality".

Thorsten Flinck och revolutionsorkestern: Oh my, I don't really know what to write. Thorsten Flinck is famous as an actor, on stage as well as on the silver screen. But more than that, he is infamous for being unpredictable, temperamental and somewhat out of his mind. A genius or a highly disturbed addict or maybe both. I know very little about his music, even though I know he has had some successes. If his previous music is an indications, my guess is that it will not be my cup of tea.

Loreen: The Swedish public first got to know Loreen through Swedish Idol 2004, in which she finished 4th. But more recently, people know her from last year's Melody Festival where she preformed "My Heart is Refusing Me". She ended up in 9th place, after re-qualifying in "The Second Chance" and her song became a huge radio-hit. The artists from last year's competition also voted "My Heart is Refusing Me" as their favorite song. Personally, I love her voice and "My Heart is Refusing Me" grew on me and turned out to be one of the few songs I still haven't grown tired of. I have high hopes and can't wait to see what she has to deliver.

All in all, this should be an interesting elimination round. Again, without knowing anything about the songs, I'm mostly looking forward to see what Loreen has to offer. I'm also very curious to hear Dead by April. I will be very surprised if I find my self liking Abalone Dots or Thorsten Flinck. And I already know I will dislike Marie Serneholt, because I already do.