Friday, March 30, 2012

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

I had a thought the other day, a thought about my husband. And today it's the perfect day to write about it, because today is our anniversary. Today, eight years ago, we went on our first date.

I met my husband a few months after I turned 21. Since then I have loved him and he has loved me back. In other words, I have been loved by the person I love for most of my adult life. The epiphany I had the other day was about the consequences of this reality.

For as long as I can remember, I've always been fairly self-confident. When I was younger the self-confidence came from accomplishments and achievements. Today, I think it comes from being comfortable in my own skin and from being happy in life. This, more quiet but potent, confidence has grown constantly over the past years. If I should be really cliché about it, it has grown out of love.

I am constantly, every day, reminded by my husband, that I'm the greatest person alive. Not that he verbalize it everyday, but that's how he makes me feel just by looking at me. And that is regardless of how I feel about my self at any given moment. When someone you love tells you your are beautiful despite the snot running down your nose or who tries everything to make you happy despite your PMS tantrums, it's difficult to feel anything but invincible.

When you get to mirror yourself in the eyes of someone who loves you, the reflection can only build you up and make you stronger.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What's in a minute?

One minute is made up of 60 seconds. In one hour, there will be 60 minutes. 24 hours makes one day and one day consists of 1440 minutes. No matter how you twist and turn, it will always add up. With all that said, all minutes are not created equal.

Last week, I set out to try my bike legs. My intent is to finish a sprint triathlon this summer and knowing myself right, it suits me better to play around with the three different sports (swimming, biking and running) at my own pace rather than follow a triathlon training schedule.

Unlike most people attempting their first triathlon, I'm dreading the bike leg of the race. A year ago I would have stressed out about the running, but now I feel I have that under control. The swimming is fairly short, I have no time expectations and I know how to swim. That leaves the biking. 14 miles is not too intimidating, but to be honest, my legs have never tried 14 miles of race biking, so maybe it's more being afraid of the unknown.

As my bike is pretty unreliable (I can't switch gears), I figured I would hit the stationary bike at the gym. I mounted the bike and adjusted the resistance and off I went. 1 minute... 2 mintes... 3 minutes... 3 min, 30 seconds... 4 minutes... 4 minutes, 15 seconds... 4 minutes, 30 seconds... 4 minutes, 40 seconds... 4 minutes, 50 seconds... 4 minutes, 55 seconds... 5 minutes... After 5 minutes of utter boredom and mind-numbing peddling, I had gone 1 mile. ONE mile!!! I had 13 more miles to go! I'm usually pretty good at pushing myself, but enough was enough! Time practically stood still. I found myself cursing the timer between each second. I had no idea you had time to do anything between seconds. Feeling a bit defeated I  gave up and joined a Zumba class instead.

However, I hate feeling defeated, and I still have a triathlon to finish, so two days later I decided to dust the old bike and have a go at an actual bike ride. Knowing my bike had a few technical imperfections, I set off on my second attempt. 14 miles and well over an hour later I returned home with sore legs (some of the slopes nearly killed me), sweating like a pig but with a smile on my face. It wasn't bad, it wasn't bad at all. And I still don't really know where time went. Imagine, if I had a bike with working gears, I would be unstoppable!

Funny thing, time. One minute can feel never-ending, one hour can feel like a breeze. If riding a stationary bike is at one end of the spectra, gaming must be at the other end. 5 minutes of biking was enough to make me give up, while the 11 hours it took me to finish COD Modern Warfare 3 felt like something I casually did one afternoon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, The winner is...

... Loreen!

I'm proud to present this year's winner of the Melody Festival and Sweden's representative in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Loreen turned out to be the clear winner this year, according to the jury groups as well as the Swedish public. With a staggering 670 551 votes (32.7% of total votes) in the finale she outnumbered first runner up, Danny Saucedo (who received 22.3% of the total votes), with 212 163 votes.

Another thing I really enjoyed was to see Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li ending up as the finale's looser. Not because I wish Björn Ranelid any harm, but because I'm happy, and very relieved, to know that people in Sweden still recognizes bad music when they hear it.

All in all, the finale was satisfying. Good show with a good mix of music. The only little thing that annoyed me was Danny's behavior after they announced Loreen the winner. I can understand why he was disappointed and there is nothing wrong with showing sadness, however, bashing Loreen and the Swedish public is uncalled for. He might not have won, but he did receive 458 388 votes and his fans and supporters paid for each and every one of them. I expected more professionalism from Danny.

The Melody Festival 2012 has come to an end, but Loreen's journey is far from over. I am very proud of Sweden and our collective decision to send talented Loreen, and I'm very curious to see how she does in the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, May 22-26. The song has a distinctly modern sound and Loreen has a very special quality which makes this performance stand out from the crowd. A massive and costly stage show with fireworks and a sea of talented dancers can be spectacular, but sometimes a single woman with an amazing voice can truly make a lingering impact.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, The Finale

May I have your attention? It's time, its finally here, what we've all been waiting for... drum roll, please... The Grand Finale of the Melody Festival 2012!!!

The journey began six short weeks ago. Within a day we will arrive at our destination and we will crown the winner of this year's Melody Festival and Sweden's representative in Eurovision Song Contest 2012.

This year's finale promises to deliver some great performances, some unique experiences and an outcome that might surprise. These 10 artist are about to enter their final battle, and one will win it all. If you want to know more about the artist, please refer to my previous blog posts. If you follow the link attached to each artist, you will be able to see their performance from the elimination rounds.

David Lindgren: The young and charming artist, with a background in musical theatre. He qualified from elimination round 2.

Torsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern: The unpredictable and sometimes unstable, yet very respected stage actor who made his way to the finale from elimination round 1, via The Second Chance.

Dead By April: The Metalcore band who was the first artist to introduce "growling" to the Melody Festival. They qualified to the finale from elimination round 1.

Lisa Miskovsky: The unlikely participant in the Melody Festival who has wowed the public over the past decade with her own work, and work she has done for others. She qualified through elimination round 4.

Top Cats: The Rockabilly band that made their way to the finale from elimination round 2, via The Second Chance.

Loreen: The Swedish Idol 2004 alumni who is best known for her success in last year's Melody Festival. She qualified from elimination round 1.

Ulrik Munther: The 18 year old who wowed the public with a song his co-wrote. He made his way to the finale through elimination round 2.

Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li: The award winning author who enlisted Sara Li to help bring his music poetry to life. He made it through elimination round 3 and landed a place in the finale.

Molly Sandén: The former blond who had her heart broken, went brunette and performed a song in elimination round 3 that earned her a spot in the finale.

Danny Saucedo: The Swedish Idol 2006 alumni who was first runner-up in last year's Melody Festival. He qualified through elimination round 4.

There are several interesting artists in this year's finale. The general feeling is that the winner will be either Loreen or Danny Saucedo. Fingers crossed, it will not be Danny. I have nothing against Danny, but it would be refreshing to send something different to Eurovision Song Contest. If we send Danny, it would be like sending a blond copy of last year's representative, Eric Saade. Also, I would prefer to send an artist who can actually sing.

I would be proud if we crowned Loreen the winner. She has an amazing voice, great stage presence and she's offering something unique. Having said that, she is not my favorite artist this year, at least not my favorite piece of music. I absolutely love Lisa Miskovsky, her performance and song. Solely based on musicality, she is, hands down, my favorite. But this competition is not just about musicality, it's a competition and it's about making an instant impact, it's the Melody Festival. So, my favorite to win the competition is Loreen.

I'm dreading to see Torsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern as well as Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li again. I don't feel that they are real threats to win the competition, even though I expect them to do pretty well. Another artist that might to well is Molly Sandén. I'm also curious to see how Dead By April will hold up against the competition.

As I said before, this year's finale has the potential to be very exciting. Personally, I can't wait. With the champagne chilled, pink dress picked out and the feather boa ready to go, I'm prepared. If you want to join me in the celebration, you will be able to catch the show live, Saturday, March 10, at 8 pm (CET):

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, Second Chance Results

There's really not much to say. Out of the eight songs in the Second Chance, I wasn't really rooting for anyone. But as in any competition, it's more fun and exciting if you have an opinion and a favorite. I knew which two songs I would have wanted to see in the finale, but unfortunately I didn't get my way, at all.

Instead of going through one battle at the time, I'll just mention a few quick things about the artists that I would have wanted to see again and the artists who won the final two tickets to the finale.

I would have wanted to see Dynazty and Sean Banan in the finale. Dynazty were not extra-ordinary by any means, but they delivered a solid package and, more importantly, they where better then the competition. In the finale they would have disappeared, especially along side Dead By April who are, by far, superior.

Sean Banan was a joke, but it was ok, that was his intention. It was nothing but silly and I can understand how his humour might have offended some people and been misunderstood by others. I would have wanted to see him in the finale for one reason only, he puts a smile on my face. I rather be amused and entertained than being indifferent. In the finale, he would have added showmanship, humour and some much needed lightheartedness.

Instead of Dynazty and Sean Banan, we will be seeing more of Top Cats and Torsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern. I would have preferred never having to see them ever again. Top Cats has been a dislike of mine since the first time I saw them. The lead singer has a really cheesy quality I can't get passed and the vocals are very forced, like he's trying to hard. The only positive thing, I guess, it that they will be bringing yet another music genre to the finale.

Torsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern is beyond my comprehension, but it didn't come as a total surprise. There are apparently a whole bunch of people in Sweden with a very questionable taste in music, given the success of Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li a few weeks ago and now Torsten Flinck. My only consolation is that Torsten Flinck might steal votes from Björn Ranelid in the finale and that will hopefully be the end of it.

With all the elimination rounds behind us, it is time to focus on the grand finale. It is finally down to business. I'll be writing all about it tomorrow!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, The Second Chance

We have heard all the songs and we're almost at the finish line. Only one week stands between now and the grand finale. The only obstacle left is a little something called "The Second Chance". During the past four elimination rounds, the two songs that received most votes each week were sent straight through to the finale. The second and third runner up were given a second chance at grabbing one of the coveted tickets to the finale. All the second and third runner ups will battle it out on Saturday and the two winners from this round will be invited back to compete in the finale.

How will the winners be determined? By winning a series of duels. By random lottery, the artist have been divided into two tournament schedules and will be pitched against each other in head-to-head duels. The last two performers standing will stay in the competition for the final week. As I have already written about the individual artist over the past weeks, I will stick to only writing about the actual duels.

Duel 1 (group A), Dynazty vs. Tom Cats
There is no question about who I would like to see win the duel. I really liked Dynazty and I really had an issue with Tom Cats. However, there is no knowing the outcome. Both genres (90s Metal and Rockabilly) have a strong and loyal audience. Let's see who's fans watch and vote in the Melody festival.

Duel 2 (group A), Andreas Johnsson vs. Timoteij
Can't say I care for any of them, and I don't really have an opinion about who should win or loose. But if I had to, I would bet my money on Timoteij winning this duel. I'm afraid Andreas Johnsson has already peaked in his career, at least regarding the Melody Festival.

Duel 3 (group B), Torsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkester vs. Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren
This is the best news of the night. I got really excited when I found out about this duel. After they battle, one of them will be gone, forever! My nightmare would be to see both Torsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern as well as Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren in the finale. Now I know that can't happen. Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren will probably win this duel, but I don't care either way.

Duel 4 (group B), Sean Banan vs. Youngblood
The last and final duel. They target about the same audience, the very young audience. Sean Banan is a likable and funny character while Youngblood is a cutesy boy-band. Outside their primary target group, my generation is likely to prefere funny over prepubescent boys. However, my parents generation is likely to prefere clean cut young adults over humor they can't understand. My fingers are crossed that Sean Banan will advance to the next round, and I suspect I might get my way.

There is no point in writing about every possible duel combination beyond the first round. But what I can do is to tell you who I would like to see advance from this week. I hope to see Dynazty and Sean Banan in the finale. I'm very curious to see how things will turn out. Not that any of my favorites this year is in any danger or even competing in this round, but I just can't help but to care.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Melody Festival 2012, part 4, The results

The last elimination round in this year's Melody Festival provided a little bit of everything. It was a smorgasbord of the good, the bad and the truly wonderful. Out of the four elimination rounds, this was my favorite.

Charlotte Perrelli: Charlotte Perrelli always put a lot of emphasis on a dazzling show and she didn't disappoint. She also always perform something up-beat, and dance friendly and she lived up to the expectations once again. However, I'm not particularly fond of her voice, and I was expecting her song to be predictable and boring, and on this point I was right. The sound was very familiar, and even though I appreciated the nod to the 90s, it was too flat and forgettable. The Swedish public agreed and gave her a 5th place, despite her previously perfect track record.

OPA!: This was not good. I tried to like it but I just couldn't. The chorus was slightly better than the verses, but all in all, it was pretty bad. I might have appreciated it if I was sitting with a glass of wine at a Greek taverna, where they played some cheesy Greek CD for ambiance, but as a main act on the Melody Festival stage, it was way below par. And that's why they ended up being this elimination round's looser.

Dynazty: If I say 90s and Poodle Rock, I bet a clear image pops up in your head, with the skinny pants, long frizzy hair and the unmistakable sound. Dynazty provided all that. The sound was perfect, the look was just right and the stage show was very fitting. The only downside was that it wasn't anything more than what was expected. If you gave me sample of five similar songs, I would have a hard time identifying which one was Dynazty. So it's lucky, for them, that I'm a sucker for this genre of music and so is Swedish public. They were good enough to be given a Second Chance.

Lotta Sjöberg and Christer Sjögren: This was the performance I dreaded to see. And I was right to be apprehensive. This was awful. I only have one word, cheeeeeeesy! This is "Swedish Country" at it's worst. They may be icons within the genre, but I just couldn't stomach it. It wasn't nearly as offensive as last week's Björn Ranelid feat. Sara Li, but still pretty bad. Unfortunately, I suspected that they would find a way through to the next round, and unfortunately, I was right. They were in deed given a Second Chance.

Hanna Lindblad: I just had to re-listen to this song, I completely forgot it. Not only did I forget the actual song, but I couldn't even remember my opinions about it. In short, this song was forgettable. Even though Hanna Lindblad looked good, wore neon-yellow and the song was insanely energetic, it was still forgettable. That's never a good thing. The public agreed and gave her a 7th place.

Axel Algmark: Formerly unknown Axel Algmark surprised me. I was expecting him to look and sound nervous, but he commanded the stage and his energy was great. The song was fine, even though it had a quality that didn't sit quite right with me. I wasn't able to identify what it was, but something was a little bit off. But he made a commendable performance and I'm sure I'll be listening to this song in the car when I get a chance. The general public thought he deserved a 6th place.

Lisa Miskovsky: I mentioned that there was something truly wonderful in this weeks elimination round. This was it. I loved Lisa Miskovsky! Musically, this was the best song of the Melody Festival 2012. The whole performance was so light, delicate and beautiful. I was afraid it would be misunderstood by the masses, but I was wrong. She was voted straight to the finale.  Will this song win this year's competition? Not likely. Would it do well in Eurovisision? Doubtful. This song is in another head-space than the Melody Festival. However, I would be endlessly proud of Sweden if we decided to send a brilliant artist like Lisa Miskovsky.

Danny Saucedo: Speaking of winning this year's Melody Festival, Danny Saucedo might be his name.  I hope I'm wrong, but I'm afraid I might not be. He is a good looking guy and he sure can dance, but his club inspired song was beyond boring and apparently he has forgotten how to sing. His voice was very shaky. I'm trying really hard to find things I like about this performance, because I would hate to dislike our representative in Eurovision Song Contest. Either way, the public acted as expected and sent Danny Saucedo to the finale.

I've been told to expect the unexpected. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't apply to the Melody Festival. Sure, the Swedish public has surprised itself before, like 2009, when we decided to send Marlena Ernman and her club-opera. But more often then not, we send someone pretty, singing something generic. This year it might be Danny Saucedo. There is still a flicker of hope in me and I have my fingers crossed and hope to see Lisa Moskovsky or Loreen as the winner.

But more about the finale next week. We have another week of challenges to get through. This Saturday, all the artist who got a second chance will have have to battle it out in the Second Chance round for the last two tickets to the Grand Finale.