1 – Anton Ewald – Natural.
It’s a magnificent production. Best part of the song though is how the whole lyric flows and it is super super smooth. Anton needs a slap in the face for the routine though – dropping the dance routine in the second chorus makes him look worse at singing than he actually is. With the backing to help him he is doing fine – not great but not a hindrance on vocals alone. He could be covered up Sakis style and we could build a team around to sing behind. The multi-track gospel effect is tough, but worth a try as nailing it will soar up the leaderboard. The breakdown into key change section is magical – best key change of the season. 12 points
2 – Ellen Benediktson – Songbird
Exactly like the kind of song it is, it takes time to grow on you and it is a shame in a sense it went direct to the final where it lost the chance of getting more listens. As a general rule, never send a song in 3/4 time, as they always do worse than deserved in Eurovision and are harder to pick up. However, it’s a beautiful lyric (I wish a little more direct about what the ‘songbird’ is and does) but the verbs trigger the emotional heartstrings throughout. Ellen nails it note perfect – almost arguably at a loss to the meaning, but I expect this will come through on Saturday. Worthy, and jury friendly. 10 points
3 – Alcazar – Blame it on the Disco
It is like Fredrik Kempe has taken Alcazar dolls and sat in his bedroom recreating his wildest schlager fantasy – it is like they are puppets on his string with this entry. While happy and bouncy and fun enough, the number of key changes and daft lyrics are confusing. Is this song ironic or serious, or just a piece of harmless fun? Assuming the latter, I want more oomphs in that production. It takes too long to start at the beginning and the recurring Blame it on the Disco line isn’t strong enough to hold (and isn’t even the main hook), and that main key change at the end isn’t as powerful as previous Alcazar’s. Missed opportunity. 4 points.
4. Oscar Zia – Yes We Can
And from Kempe puppets to another one. Wonder if he wants to see Zia in his underwear? This is the kind of song written for those types who want to get direkt to the MF final, secure another year of top shows in the summer season in Sweden, but importantly not get to Eurovision. Yes We Can delivers just that. While it’s quite direct and effective in a 8 song semi, it loses it to others in the same genre here, just as it is meant too. His popularity will mean this will over-perform with the televote, but if the juries bat straight this will be too far back to be challenging. 1 point
5. Linus Svenning – Bröder
It’s very nice. And it’s an addicitive and growing melody, a Kempe ballad that doesn’t just give power but tells a tale and does it well. However. It’s a story twinged with grief and anguish. The whole mood of the piece, especially the main ‘kära bröder’ is all to nice and happy to fit what is being said. Give me some dissonance and discordance somewhere in this, don’t give me a plumping big and rather heartless key change at the end which spoils the emotion of this. You have to do more with this to make it genuine to make it feel like a real piece of music, rather than one contrived again just for Melodifestivalen’s sad sake. So close, but so far from what I would demand at this level. 6 points
6. Helena Paparizou – Survivor
As soon as I saw the lyrics I could sing that chorus melody. It hits you hard and is the best hook in the final. The bridge going into the final chorus too is magical. But sometimes, you get too much of a good thing. The song gets stuck on this hook so much that it needs to resort to fire and desire rhyming, and struggles in the final chorus to have anything extra to give it the oomph, the original hook was so strong Helena’s deviations lose the song power in the final minute. It needs no key change, but a pause and big production drum beat going direct into the last chorus, rather than the failing blend at the moment, would help making it bombastic. For now it’s just defining mid table. 2 points
7 – YOHIO – To The End
I’m going to tell you the same thing I told you last year. Go and be yourself. An Andreas Johnson song is not for you, you are a really cool character, but you keep coming here to Friends Arena with songs that don’t represent who you are. It makes the whole package weak and forgettable, which is sad because your image is so cool that you have the chance to do something great and memorable, something which could translate from Israel to Iceland. This wouldn’t. Come back with a Japanese-language song with some of your trademark guitar playing and make it fun and make it you. 0 points
8. Sanna Nielsen – Undo
I don’t get Sanna. I never have. Perhaps I am not Swedish enough. Empty Room was a lonely snooze, and how lovely as she is I’ve never been moved by her on stage. Sorry Sanna. Voice is great though.
The song works. But that is works is so annoying. It’s singalongable in the same annoying way La Voix was, and I can’t get past the borrowing from Eric Saade’s It’s Gonna Rain in the verse. Again, for something so sad why is the music so glad? I could re-write the entire chorus lyric with ‘I-I-I will get there, I-I-I will be just fine’ and so on and it fits just fine. More than fine. It bugs me. So does the ramping up key change (Kempe..) which is filled with as much emotion as he has hairs on his head. Does nothing revolutionary in songwriting terms, and I understand the loving for Sanna but hope it crumbles along the way on Saturday. As I don’t see this winning Eurovision either, I’ll be voting against Sanna because I fear this may weaken the UK’s chances of a good result and we need and arguably deserve one this year. 0 points
9. Panetoz – Efter Solsken
On the same lines as Oscar, this is mission accomplished. Nice, and fun lyrically, but runs out of ideas far too quickly, some are predicting last. It could squeak higher, but nothing to danger anything. 0 points
10. Ace Wilder – Busy Doing Nothin’
This is the David Lindgren of the field. A nice 4 chord loop entry, sent in to the MF jury, gets through, shocks all to make it, delivers what it tries to do on stage, and is suddenly billed as a massive favourite. Does really good with it’s post chorus (but no Björkman, isn’t not dubstep), and that is damn as hell effective. However, like Shout it Out was, this is still really in demo format production based alongside the others, as it wasn’t expected to gleam to the top of the ratings as the others did. What makes this so good is not in production but in feel, and the jumping around of styles with the same structure below gives just enough familiarity to join into and sound like quality, but the score underneath does little to surprise. It also has the same beat as Shout it Out and will gain huge support in the arena, look out for the audible hand claps. The lack of ending is a little bit of a downer on something unspectaclarly good, but music is about being effective first in a contest like this more often than not. If you are going to do the simple chord loop, do it right. This does that. 8 points.
This is why stuff like Sanna does well after all… Will be stunned if she doesn’t take it home.