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. 

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