And what about Melodifestivalen then? Week 1 is traditionally the "rubbish one" but there were some big hitters in the line-up. Former favourite (but never winner) Shirley Clamp; old favourites Alcazar; TV talent show winners Scotts; former A-Teens member and Måns Zelmerlöw's girlfriend Marie Serneholt to name 4.
This year's first semi-final came from the Scandinavium in Gothenburg, with some notable changes. Out went Kristian Luuk, who had been a fantastic presenter over the last couple of years, and last year's hugely popular Bjorn Gustafsson was also absent. In came new host Petra Mede, who quickly revealed her own gimmick - a costume change for every song. I've still to make my mind up about Ms Mede - but already she seems to be someone you either love or hate. I initially thought she was a bit overbearing, but I suppose you need a strong personality to present MF....
I liked the Martin Stenmarck/Charlotte Perrelli segment at the beginning (ooh he's lovely isn't he???) when Martin sang and they threw this year's trophy all the way to the Scandinavium.
The biggest problem tonight was the video stream which seemed to work ok during the song links/postcards but seemed to break down/buffer during the songs, which meant I couldn't really hear every song all the way through. (BTW I miss the old-style postcards where the artists themselves were interviewed, now it's only a voiceover)
Song 1: "Tick Tock" - Nina Soderquist. I missed more of this song than I actually heard due to the wonky live stream. She is such a powerful singer and I hope we haven't seen the last of her at MF, although she is still a bit scary and I wasn't really sure about that outfit, but a good start nonetheless.
Song 2: "Welcome To My Life" - Jonathan Fagerlund. I knew straight away that this wasn't a qualifier, but despite this I think that it will do well outwith the competition. Very likeable.
Song 3: "Med Hjartat Fyllt Av Ljus" - Shirley Clamp. The major surprise of the night, as one of the long-awaited MF comebacks crashed spectacularly. She is still a big, powerful dramatic singer, but this ballad was just Pling-by-numbers and didn't do her any favours, and she could have done without the wind machine at the key change.
Song 4: "Jag Tror Pa Oss" - Scotts. Not the best song to ever grace an MF stage, but Scotts did the best with what they had, and Henrik is still quite an engaging frontman which usually guarantees a few votes. Which they got.
Song 5: "You're My World" - Emilia. Something quite different now, but I had a feeling that this would qualify. Vocally she lacks the power of a Nina or a Shirley, but the song had enough charm to progress in the competition in what was judged to be a weak first semi-final.
Song 6: "Stay The Night" - Alcazar. And now to the main course. Alcazar have been around at Melodifestivalen, on and off for the last few years, and it was so, so good to have them back. Make no mistake, they really really went for it tonight and finally got their reward.
Song 7: "Snalla Snalla" - Caroline af Ugglas: I can't comment on this because it was a good excuse for a comfort break :) anyway IMHO it was the worst song of the night and I can't understand why it did so well???
Song 8: "Disconnect Me" - Marie Serneholt: I was pleasantly surprised by this and by the end of it I really thought we had a qualifier. (Apart from the numerous buffering-breaks which spoiled this MF heat for me). But hey, what do I know...?
Anyway the voting passed quickly and the five songs progressing to the next rounds were announced:
"Stay The Night"
"You're My World"
"Jag Tror Pa Oss"
Major shock - Shirley hadn't made it.
Then came a little interval-segment with clips from old Melodifestivalen (1950s/60s?) and a song by an old bloke called Freddie Wadling. I really missed Bjorn Gustafsson here :(
The duel-system has been introduced in the heats this year, with the winner going to Globen and the loser to Andra Chansen.
Duel 1: Scotts v Alcazar.
Result: Alcazar to Globen. Yaaaaaaaayyyyyy!!
Duel 2: Emilia v Caroline af Ugglas.
Result: Emilia to Globen.
Now here's where it gets confusing. There is an international jury on board this year, and they'll choose one song per week, I don't know what happens after that? Anyway the international jury chose Caroline af Ugglas - ????? - she's already gone to Andra Chansen so I don't know how the jury thing will go.
But anyway Alcazar are going to Globen so I'm sooooooo happy !!!!!