Saturday, February 9, 2013

Melody Festival 2013, part one

Just like Groundhog day, some events brings the promise of spring and brighter times. Personally, I know spring is just around the corner when I get to dust off my pink feather boa, put on my tiara and sip champagne at 11 am. Hello, The Melody Festival 2013, how happy I am to see you!

The Melody Festival is the Swedish music competition in which Sweden decides which song to send to The Eurovision Song Contest. This year there's even more at stake. The winner of the Melody Festival will not only represent Sweden, it will represent the host country, as Sweden's Loreen won last year and brought The Eurovision Song Contest back to Sweden.

The Melody Festival is divided into four elimination rounds. From each round two songs will qualify directly to the finale, and two songs will get a second chance to advance. This set up will result in a total of six rounds; four elimination rounds followed by The Second chance and finally a grand finale, with 10 songs and amongst the 10 songs, the winner will be crowned.

Last Saturday, February 2, the whole process started, with elimination round one. I'll give you my opinion on each artist and share with you the results.

David Lindgren
He participated in last year's Melody Festival, where he finished in 4th place. He's a classically schooled musical artist and with he's ability to sing, dance and charm, he soon became a fan favorite. This year, he's back, and just as last year, he's song is an upbeat clubhit. Despite fresh camera angles, a well choreographer number and pitch perfect singing, the number lack luster and will soon fade into the generic and predictable abyss. As an artist, he is very likable and the performance was solid. The fact that he made it through straight to the finale has more to do with him as an artist than the song itself.

Cookies and Beans
The country influenced band of three blonde women made their Melody Festival debut in 2009 with their song "What If". Back then, they were eliminated in their first elimination round. I don't really remember what I though of them when I saw their performance in 2009, but I do know it is one of my sing-along songs after the fact. I have the same feeling towards this year's contribution. It was fine, even though something about the chorus didn't sit quite as comfortably with me. Maybe I will like them better the second time around, cause they did get enough votes to get another chance. Either way, I'm pretty sure I will be singing along to it in the near future.

Jay Jay Johanson
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" would be an appropriate description of Jay Jay Johanson. If you ask me, he was the best of the night. If you ask the Swedish public, he was the worst. Even though our opinions were vastly different, I can't say I'm surprised Jay Jay Johanson received the least amount of votes. Wrong artist, with the wrong song at the wrong venue. At least if you're looking for votes. But if you're looking for music that have the potential to grow and live a full life outside the competition, this was lightyears more intriguing than anything else this elimination round had to offer.

Mary N'diaye
I love being multilingual, so when a song makes me wish I never knew Swedish, you know it's bad. The artist had the right look, the beat was really catchy but the text was awful! It was so bad that I didn't even care that she couldn't sing. If she had hoped that her childish lyrics would make her adorable, she failed miserable. What a waste of talent. Cause talent she has. If you search her name on YouTube, you'll find that she actually isn't that juvenile but a pretty edgy and respectable artist. What happened? And it's not just me, the Swedish general public had enough as well. She did not advance beyond this round.

Eric Gadd
It's always worrisome when a former popular artist decides to make a comeback on the Melody Festival. Every year there's a few of them and almost always it ends up being a disappointment. Eric Gadd was hugely popular in the 90s. Since then he has released several albums but he's not reached the same levels of success. So maybe it's unfair of me to call this a comeback, I guess in some ways he never left. But did he disappoint? Yes, but not by much. His contribution was not offensive but it was luke warm and sleepy. I'm not sure I agree he was good enough to get another chance, but he did.

Leading up to this elimination round, a lot of wonder and curiosity surrounded the artis YOHIO. An androgynous guy from the north that has made himself a name on the Japanese music scene by performing in a lolita dress while singing with a distinct male voice, needless to say, there were a lot of expectations on this performer/performance. He surely looked the part och gave the audience a real show. However, the actual song was, at best, generic. There was nothing distinctly original with the song. The whole performance left me feeling disappointment. It was like being presented with the biggest box, with the most elaborate gift wrap, just to find the box empty inside. He's returning in the finale and hopefully I won't be as disappointed, now when I know what to expect.

Anna Järvinen
Being a well respected singer with multiple awards in her backpack, this singer/songwriter had potential to engage and touch people in a profound way. But instead of deep and vulnerable, it was confused and frail. At one point, I was scared for her safety. To me, she looked and sounded like a confused older lady, in her dressing gown, who'd wondered away from home and couldn't find her way back. She was in need of assistance. The general public wasn't too impressed either. She ended up in 7th place.

Michael Feiner & Caisa
Michael Feiner has produced several club-hits since 2006 and this was his second time around in the Melody Festival. He participated in the Melody Festival 2007 as a part of The Attic. Back then they didn't move beyond the first elimination round. This year he's back, with a new partner in crime, Caisa. It's been a week since the first elimination round, so it's been a week since I heard their song. But it's like I've never heard it. I vaguely remember that I appreciated the saxophone, but also that I thought they looked too old to be performing such a young number. But I can't recall anything about the song, what so ever. I guess that is enough said. They didn't manage to impress the audience either. Their journey ended just as it started.

As you have seen, I wasn't too impressed by the first elimination round. David Lindgren and Yohio made their way to the finale, which was expected and something I can live with. Cookies & Beans and Eric Gadd will get another chance. I'm happy this was only the first week, so there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Just a few words about this year's host and hostess of the show. Danny Saucedo returned this year as the host together with Gina Dirawi. After competing in the Melody Festival three times (finishing 3rd and 2nd twice) maybe Danny's time to be crowned the winner is still to come, but until then I think he is doing a good job at being the host. He's a natural performer and looks at ease leading the show. At his side he has Gina Dirawi, the blogger, the tv persona and the comedian. She co-hosted last year's Melody Festival and did a great job. She's quirky, funny and whimsical. All this while being really beautiful and professional. I'm happy she was invited back to host the show this year as well.

Tonight the competition continues. I'm ready to be blown away. And horrified. And delighted. And confused. Either way, it will evoke emotions and I will, for sure, have endless amount fo opinions about it.

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