I had originally posted this over at Planet Salem last night but thought it would be more appropriate over here :)
I thought it was time to assess the competition, song by song....
1. "You're Out Of My Life": You can't deny Darin's huge popularity with the Swedish public - I like him too, but would have preferred if he'd gone for something more uptempo than this Westlife-style ballad. He does the best with what he's got though: but being first on stage with a ballad is a poor draw position and he could suffer from this.
2. "Jag Vill Om Du Vagar": One for the schlager-fans who have felt that this style of music has been neglected in this year's competition. There is nothing fresh about the song, the routine or the singer, and I don't see this as a serious contender. The draw position reflects that.
3. "We Can Work It Out": I've liked Andreas' final-songs in the past - "Sing For Me" and "A Little Bit Of Love" were both catchy and memorable, but this is probably his weakest song in the competition. Nevertheless there will be audience participation, everyone will be waving lights in the arena and this will probably end up mid-table.
4. "Kom": the first serious contender of the evening. (I played some of the Melodifestivalen songs earlier today to my mum who is of course a big Salem fan but she doesn't follow Melodifestivalen - and she thought that "Kom" had a very good chance of winning). Four girls among a number of male solo singers - they may stand out, it's very Swedish, they are pretty girls singing a catchy song.
5. "Hollow": another male solo singer, another ballad. But this is the great Peter Jöback who has a very big reputation in Sweden, however for me "Hollow" is maybe a little too theatrical for MF and would be better in a stage musical or movie soundtrack. I think this will finish in the top 5 on the night.
6. "Unstoppable": apart from "Keep On Walking" this is my favourite song in the competition. Of course it qualified from week 1 which is usually considered to be the "bad week" - 2010 was the exception to the rule :) It's a very catchy pop song which is guaranteed to be a radio hit after the contest.
7. "I Did It For Love": Although I have liked Jessica's past solo songs in this competition, I feel that this is a rather old-fashioned ballad and I would have preferred her to do something more uptempo.
8. "Keep On Walking": Yes there may be 9 repetitions of the chorus, but the result is a very memorable and heartfelt song, sung brilliantly by Salem Al Fakir. What sets Salem apart from most of the other performers is his professionalism, incredible stage presence, charisma, charm and natural musicality. It's a beautifully arranged song, with a breathtaking, dramatic and moving string/keyboard arrangement, and a very hopeful lyrical theme.
9. "This Is My Life": Although the former Idol-contestant performs this song very well, I feel that this is a little too close in theme to 2009's 2nd-placed Icelandic entry "Is It True" (and even uses the same song title as their 2008 entry) therefore lacks any originality. If this was to be chosen as Sweden's entry for Oslo, I feel that it may disappear....
10. "Manboy": Having heard this song a couple more times, I have only one description for it: trashy and tacky. I feel it would be a step backwards if this song was chosen to represent Sweden at Eurovision....and it would get a very similar result to recent years. What Sweden needs is a song to restore its national pride, to bring the contest back to Sweden (its rightful home!) and provide the opportunity to showcase and launch a potential world superstar beyond just one night of a song contest. That song is "Keep On Walking"; that singer is Salem Al Fakir.
And before you accuse me of bias....well you're probably right, but even if I'd never heard of Salem before, "Keep On Walking" would still be my favourite song in this year's competition.
Go Salem Go!!!!!