Sunday, February 13, 2011

Melodifestivalen 2011: Deltävling 2, Gothenburg 12.02.2011

Off to my favourite west coast city for week 2 of this year's MF tour. Which began, for no reason whatsoever, by a "Barbie Girl" routine...then Marie having a laugh at her own expense after last week's results mishap.

Rickard was dressed in what looked like a velvet jacket, and Marie wore a dark grey glittery dress, however I didn't like her hair this week...but anyway on with the show.

OK not yet, as this week's special guest Christer Sjögren, um, 'treated' us to a rendition of that good old favourite German ESC entry "Dschinghis Khan" from 1979.

Now...can we get on with the show please??? But before we start, can I just say that I'm getting used to Bad Cop/Bad Cop who have been appointed by no less than Carl 'Bad Jacket' Bildt to interview this year's MF entrants for the 'postcard' segment, and it's quite good fun.

First to take to the Gothenburg stage on Saturday night was Brolle, making his first (and long overdue) debut appearance at MF. By this point I was literally shaking with excitement at the thought of finally seeing this big event. It was certainly a gutsy and passionate performance by an artist who has totally perfected his stage-craft thanks to his work in musical theatre over recent years. Unfortunately "7 Days and 7 Nights" fell short of the greatness of "Playing With Fire" but then that's a pretty big ask anyway. But it was enough.

Once upon a time, the main objective of appearing in Melodifestivalen was to win it and go on to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest. In my view, that no longer applies. A Melodifestivalen appearance is the most effective marketing opportunity that any artist in Sweden can get. So, it's a good way to promote an established artist's new album, or revive a dormant/fading career, or launch a new artist. Loreen is one of the latter, and she certainly made an impressive debut with a high-intensity performance of "My Heart Is Refusing Me" a modern, uptempo dance number which already has become one of this season's fan favourites. Great, powerful vocals and a strong image - I think we'll hear a lot more from her.

There is one certainty in MF: every few years you'll get a drag queen turning up. And sure as night follows day, 2011 has brought the latest one...Babsan. Whose "Ge Mig En Spanjor" nicely coincided with me heading off to the kitchen to pop some potato wedges in the oven. Which probably said it all, really.

Elisabeth Andreassen is, of course Eurovision royalty on both sides of the Sweden/Norway border. But in these modern times, it felt as if "Vaken i en Dröm" came from another era. It did have those reliable MF-staples: the wind machine and the backing singers brought out for the grand finale though! However, IMHO the song was a bit forgettable.

And on we go to the evening's favourite - Sanna Nielsen, making her Melodifestivalen comeback. That's funny: I remember after "Empty Room" failed to win, she said she'd never compete at MF again.... anyway she was back with "I'm In Love" - a more uptempo number, staged with her walking around in a 'schlager-cage'(!). She's a strong vocalist and a pretty girl, yet I thought all the styling was wrong. Her hairdo was in September-style, but she was dressed like a middle-aged woman at a wedding. I hope she ditches that jacket/bolero thing for the final.

I'd looked forward to seeing Daniel Karlsson again, as he was a big favourite of mine during Idol. I mentioned the Idol-recognition-factor last week, and Daniel was yet another to benefit during this year's voting. "Oh My God!" was catchy, yes, but for some inexplicable reason it annoys the hell out of me. Ooh la la, ooh la la. More moving treadmills here, and our Dan dressed like a Buddhist monk for some reason.

The potato wedges were ready by the time newcomer Anniela took to the stage with "Elektrisk", wearing what looked like a satin hedge on her shoulders, and it screamed 'non-qualifier', zapped from the competition by those two onstage pylons. Yet it wasn't all that bad and I hope we see her again in the future.

Finally, to the other artist I was really looking forward to seeing. Christian Walz has been a particular favourite artist of mine in recent years. "Like Suicide" was effectively staged with six sitting violinists and an imaginary orchestra backdrop.Christian, for some strange reason, sported a rather unflattering beard and for reasons known only to himself, a string of pearls around his neck. I like the song though, it's a little reminiscent of a midtempo Darin ballad mixed with Christian's distinctive style. Sadly though, despite that great draw position, the song's title was to prove prophetic and this was to be his first and last appearance at this year's MF.

I've very quickly decided that this year's interval act is probably one of the worst of recent years. I really don't see the point of Peter Stormare's character The Hurricane....and his reinvention of Christer Sjogren into Cosmos Lakebranch, a dansband Ziggy Stardust, singing "Life On Mars" had me going into cringe overload.

Voting time! Sanna and Brolle to Globen, Loreen and The Moniker to Andra Chansen, Christian 5th, Anniela 6th, Babsan 7th and Elisabeth 8th. As I said previously, Melodifestivalen doesn't care about reputations, as Christian and Elisabeth found out to their cost this week.

(photos courtesy of

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