Wednesday, December 29, 2010

That final Swedish Idol post...

...which I never got round to writing.

So, Swedish Idol ended with one of the most predictable outcomes ever in the history of the contest - Jay Smith won, beating Minnah Karlsson in the final on 10th December at Globen. After Linnea Henriksson was voted off Idol in the last-4 week, I felt that the heart had gone out of the competition....and when Olle Hedberg left the following week, I have to be honest and say that my interest in the competition also ended there.

However, that's not to criticise the two finalists; they and several of the other finalists were way better than anything we'd ever see on our own X Factor.

The lead-up to the final was a bit controversial to say the least: firstly Jay Smith failed a drugs test for using cannabis, which brought a lot of criticism in the Swedish media that a programme so popular with children and young people should condone drug-taking by allowing him to continue in the competition...then the day before the final, both finalists revealed that they were in a relationship, which caused a bit of concern for the programme makers. I'm not sure what's happened since, if they are still a couple, or was it all just a publicity stunt for the final?

This year's winner's song is "Dreaming People", a big anthemic rock-ballad co-written by, among others, Christian Walz. It didn't break any new ground but it suited Jay's style perfectly, however Minnah also performed a different but still impressive version. In my alternative parallel-universe of preferred finalists I'm curious to know how Olle and Linnea might have performed the song - yet again we'd get two completely different versions. Anyway, at least the winner gets an original song to sing, which is more than can be said for X Factor....although on the down side, the rush-releasing of debut albums featuring cover versions of songs which they sang in the competition does, I believe, do more harm than good to the finalists' music career prospects.

Take for example the debut album by Jay Smith, which features his acclaimed "Like A Prayer" along with "I Want It That Way" and "Bad Romance" and more Jay-style songs like "Enter Sandman" and "Black Jesus". There's a greater variety of styles on Minnah Karlsson's debut album, however both share a very bland production and little artistic value - in other words, a quick cash-in.

The other album release this year featured all season finalists - again it's pretty unremarkable, but at least it has Olle (pictured above, bottom right) reprising his original audition number "No Diggity", although that's also a bit too polished.

The real test will come with the first "real" albums by Jay and Minnah - it will be interesting to see if Minnah repeats Tove Styrke's critical acclaim and success, and whether Jay will recover his rock-star integrity or disappear without trace. I hope that Olle and Linnea get the chance to release original debut albums which could potentially establish them as the latest (non-winning) stars to emerge from Idol.

Swedish Idol will be back again in 2011 for another series. I wonder if it will be the last? After all, you know what they say - all good things must come to an end....

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