As it was so popular last time with Eurovision (still one of the most read blogs) here is my preview to Melodifestivalen’s final this week. And it is pure Euphoria.
What a shockingly bad year we all have been saying haven’t we? And we would be right to say so I should think. The final is full of missed opportunities and it is all lacking a little bit of class.
I remember thinking back in 2012, when I recorded this episode of Nul Points (http://www.escinsight.com/2012/12/30/nul-points-the-eurovision-quiz-show-6/ – which is hilarious and you should listen), that no, Sweden doesn’t want to win Eurovision again this year – it was funny how those abroad thought it was completely the opposite. MF has been a big show this year, but in becoming a big show it seems to have lacked quality and substance. Voting seems unreliable, and its whole purpose is a little further away each year from the point of Eurovision – it isn’t about finding the right song for Sweden to win it again which I hope the final comes back to.
Many of the songs in the final are worthy efforts, but they are falling short at the moment. Here is the rundown
1) Ulrik Munther – Tell the world I’m here
Or not. It is a stupidly pompous title and lyric and gives Ulrik bigger shoes than he could fill. Eric Saade has the act to sell I will be popular, but I don’t really care if Ulrik is heard by the world. This big boy arena pop is well produced – but has no oomph in that production to make it isn’t something to get an arena excited. His voice too isn’t big enough for this. Still nice, but he needs to back to his guitars and keep it simple, and tell a story worth telling. As an artist, you need to know what you can sell. He can’t sell this to me sadly. G:Son and Boström, as Eurovision winning composers, should know better. They are also responsible for the awkward long instrumental before the last chorus which goes nowhere.
2) David Lindgren – Skyline
The second artist of the show and the second one who deserves a big slap across the face. Precisely, once again, at the part just before the final chorus. David has got his composers to put in a one second pause in the music, where he looks into the camera, shakes his little bow-tie and then carries on hopping around the stage. Who the hell do you think you are? David, you are lovely, but you are a mummy’s favourite and a pre-school favourite. You are not cool. You come with a more ‘edgy’ song this year. It isn’t. The production is better than the demo-version-for-Danny-that-he-rejected last year, but the song isn’t. The melody is harder to get into and sing along to. The whole act doesn’t get the crowd as excited and you actually don’t have a new song. Try playing last year’s entry over this one…
3) State of Drama – Falling
I hope these guys didn’t actually go to Drama class, because the acting sucks. They are calling themselves a new ‘hard-pop’ group, and do look like the middle-of-the-road mess. I show some off some sick tattoos on my arm but that’s ok because I have a normal haircut. The keyboard player has no haircut from this century, but is safe and likeable because he points at things and looks vacant when doing so.
The song itself is a good effort. At writing the next song for the next American soppy film. It doesn’t work as a stage performance, and was stunned it got through. It’s all fake, but they want to be taken as real musicians. I can’t find the right balance for it. It’s just like an American teen drama, it is trying and failing to find itself. I want to hold judgment in that, as relative unknowns in a tough semi, either they have a strong and loyal support or this does reach out to the masses. I can’t see the attraction though in this for somebody to say it is their favourite entry.
4) Anton Ewald – Begging
Artist number 4 of 4 who deserves a slap. You have silly hair and no girl would find it attractive close up. You are also acting like a know-it-all-prick when you have no record for doing so. You have been a backing dancer for Velvet, Andreas Lundstedt and Danny and all three of them had a result in Melodifestivalen with you in the team lower than you would expect. You are no big name and you are lucky you are cute to the 15 year old girls I teach.
You are a great dancer, but your style sucks. You aren’t performing this story to the camera at all and other than your hardcore fans you are not attracting votes my friend. All the shaking and prancing and hopping is not telling a story of how you a begging a girl for more. Don’t even try and suggest it does.
Kempe has written you a song with possibly one of the catchiest melodies in the contest, although it runs out of steam towards the end, and sadly I find it hard to get over the Bieberpop genre it sadly is. You take your jacket off and think you are the king pin but you don’t get anybody excited – it’s forced and you don’t have it. You ruin it.
And then you have the cheek in the press last week to tell the people who say you aren’t singing to stop, but that is what you are doing. Yes, you are correct, all lead vocals you are singing. But you have the backing on tape as high as you. Fact. And it sings lines you aren’t. Fact. In Sweden, maybe you will get enough forgiveness for that, it is part of pop style at the moment after all. In Iceland, Ukraine, Spain – three countries voting with juries on Saturday in Melodifestivalen, they will not get it. It is EuroVISION. You don’t sing it, we can tell, and it just looks wrong. You have to sing it live in the final contest, so you better learn fast.
Or not, because you aren’t willing to learn.
5) Louise Hoffsten – Only the dead fish follow the stream
You are not getting a slap. Well done for that. I am excited about you being in the final, but more because your songwriters have destroyed my theory on Melodifestivalen. They have written 3 Eurovision entries before, all for Azerbaijan, and the worst placement was 5th. Good record. However I always said that those songs would all be last in an MF semi, and you proved me wrong in the biggest way.
How the phrase “Only the dead fish follow the stream” actually works as a hook I have no idea, and I quite like the structure of the chorus and it just has enough interest throughout to keep you going in the 3 minutes. However, even being the only woman, I don’t think this translates into votes unless the media make it a scandalous issue for you.
Jury points, but last in televoting.
6) Ralf Gyllenhammer – Bed on Fire
What a shock this was. Who saw this as a contender a month ago? Certainly not me.
It’s a concept song – not middle of the road lyrics about nothingness – but meaning lyrics about nothingness. This song is the perfect alarm clock ringtone. I need to try that. And it is a song about waking up, and how you really don’t want to. It really works!
Genre wise, and you can rip me for this all you like, it reminds me of my failed entry this year Soldier in the Sky (Don’t Cry), which is not meant to be faint phrase. Wisely, Ralf slows it down and crams in less and perhaps has a shorter and easier tale to give in the three minutes than I did, but it gives him ample room to show off the voice well.
He needs to work on that first 30 seconds. At the moment he is singing it the same as before, but at half-effort. It might come across too much like a strangled cat for some people and lose votes straight away. I would sing it deeper, a bit more spoken and off the rhythm, and from there tell the tale more so you really hit that big note hard when you do.
I think this is a jury winner, and with the new televoting rules, will hold off enough competition to take the crown by a smattering of votes.
7) Ravaillacz – En Riktig Jävla Schlager
When this song was announced, I was hugely excited. Värsta Schlagern is a classic tune and makes fun of Melodifestivalen and Eurovision songs so well, and I was hoping for the same here. I felt disappointed by this from the outside. It is basically a nursery rhyme with a moderately funny text at best. It doesn’t have a stage show to add to the spectacle and there is so much more you could throw at the idea of a rubbish Eurovision song.
But maybe I missed the point. This is such a Swedish tradition, and to send something so innocently bad really is the worst that it can be, and that is part of the charm. Tommy Körberg, I have huge respect for, and he sings the pants off this. This is fun on stage and to be honest, it does completely fit the bill here. Remember Sweden, as hosts, has qualified for the final automatically and can send whatever they like. And none of these songs would win Eurovision anyway. Hell, Europe needs educated to what this word schlager means anyway, and I would love to see the BBC squirm in their translation of the title for English subtitles. Let’s send this!
8) Sean Banan – Copacabanana
I can cope with Sean. I was introduced last year through Melodifestivalen, and I think he is a great character to play. Last year, his song was one of my favourites – it had a super hook and really spoke out to me with some great lyrics that really played with some of the problems new immigrants to Sweden have.
This year, he has taken it further and thrown all but the kitchen sink at the performance. SVT want this to qualify for the ratings, and have let it change the rules of the competition (to have more than 8 people involved, even if they aren’t all on stage). SVT argue that this is because it’s not 8 people at a time, and it is similar to Anna Bergendahl’s glowsticks (which I assume have now all been used up by the way). This is a wrong argument; audience participation is very different than fixing people in the audience.
As fún as this is, some of the references are way too obscure. Danny gets second place, ha ha. Pontare will sadly be forgotten. Christer Turkman just looks like a racist joke than anything that actually has any substance. Catchy. You bet. Fun if you are 6 years old. Absolutely. Winning the televote. A dangerous possibility. Suddenly, these international juries seem like an excellent idea.
9) Robin Sjternberg – You
If anything wants to scream out dark horse, it’s this one.
However, in second chance history across Eurovision, only one song to my knowledge has ever made it to represent their country after being knocked out in the first round. That was Drama Queen by DQ, a horrible drag act that flopped in Eurovision but got loads of positive PR in the week of the Danish final, taking a very split vote in a great final very undeservingly.
Robin is gaining momentum with his song. I would be proud of this representing Sweden in Eurovision. Lyrically, the meaning in the main part would fit the atmosphere in the Malmö Arena just fine with the fans all around the stage.
However, this relies on one hook so much. He delivers it great, and it does build up to a performance crescendo which so many of the other songs here forget to do. And however sweet it is, Robin is the kind of artist you have to grow to love. Perfect for a competition like Idol.
In Eurovision, the vocal gymnastics on offer in the final minute are not going to save you. You will be forgotten long before then sadly. I have no issue to sending this to Eurovision, but I fear a bottom 5 position if we do send him.
10) Yohio – Heartbreak Hotel
Well, it certainly is a contemporary choice to send something inspired from the Far East. But that is about as contemporary as this gets.
As an artist idea, it is spot on the money, but actually the only thing revoluntionary here is the image. The song is a dead fish following the steam of pop/rock numbers and is catchy in the sense of having a stupidly simple oh-oh post chorus. The talent that this kid has isn’t being put to good use, and his superb ability to be a musician is lost.
On the production scale, this is the weakest of them all in the final. It is so generic; it is not stylistic at all to the artist and doesn’t play to his strengths. On stage he has no choreography other than to wave his palm at the camera – and when he hits the big(ger) note for the final chorus, the music falls back to where it was before, it loses any oomph it needs.
Still, would probably do ok in Eurovision just for the shock factor. But not well enough to do us proud.
I am of course buzzing for one of the most fun weekends ever – and one which is amazing to be here in Stockholm for. Life is pretty much on hold the next two weeks and writing this will be one of the only bits of free time that I have. However I am glad I wrote this, I haven’t done any Eurovision journalism for a while so it was nice to actually write something for the world to see. I miss it and would in the future relish some more!
Especially with the quality of the songs, it is a short reminder to me that the fans are so amazing and it is so exciting to see them all together this week once again. We are the community and we do need to use that voice a little more. Watch this space on that one.