Week 3 of my favourite annual musical event, but it was spoiled a little by the 'foregone conclusion' aspect.
A little bit of background first. This year's Melodifestivalen hasn't exactly been welcomed warmly by the Swedish tabloids, particularly the "Hurricane" interval act, and various accusations of plagiarism etc. But life goes on, and we arrive at the third instalment of 2011's continuing saga. Another week, another town...this time it was Linköping's turn to host the festivities. However, due to a little internet blip I missed Lena Philipsson's opening number "Idiot" but I was impressed enough with the chord progressions and then found out that Oskar Linnros was involved in it, which equals significant levels of wonderfulness.
Which, sadly, couldn't be repeated tonight. There was that interminable car-chase intro. There was Marie's slicked-back hairdo - she's such a pretty girl, so why are they trying to hide it? I liked her purple and silver dress though, so that was ok.
When all this week's finalists were announced, Eric Saade got the biggest cheer of all. Hmm.
On with the songs!
1. "Lucky You" - Linda Sundblad. A woman of many talents, and it was very nice to finally see her at MF, but there was never any chance of this being a qualifier. However, it did sound like a radio hit and it'll be interesting to see how this one goes after the contest.
2. "Tid Att Andas" - Simon Forsberg. A newcomer to MF, which inevitably means that he has to establish himself. The song was written by Fredrik Kempe: does he ever have any other facial expressions apart from smug??? That apart, young Simon was a good enough vocalist, although lacking in charisma. The song was a little too old-fashioned, but it did have a big triumphant silver ticker-tape finish.
3. "Enemy" - Sara Lumholdt. Marie Serneholt's former A*Teens bandmate finally made her MF debut as a Cheryl Cole lookalike singing a "Battlefield" soundalike. Pole-dancing made its MF debut in the 'postcard' - well I guess it had to happen :) Anyway the song was modern but annoying, with Sara styled like Cheryl Cole, surrounded by cinema door attendants and a wind machine.
4. "The King" - The Playtones. The one thing you can always rely on at MF is diversity, so here we had the kind of act not seen since the days of the Stray Cats, but they do have that Dansbandskampen win in the bag, which counted for a lot. Great balls of fire....will someone please fetch a fire extinguisher!
5. "I Thought It Was Forever" - Shirley's Angels. With a very simple light-box background, which can be a good thing at ESC ("Shady Lady") or indeed a hideous thing ("That Sounds Good To Me") but anyway it was all drama, and strutting, and hair, and arms, and a wind machine thrown in for good measure. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but I liked this. By the way, don't Shirley's fellow angels Jessica and Vera look like twins?
6. "No One Else Could" - Sebastian. A welcome return for Mr Karlsson. And a gang of Hanna Lundblads. Very Killers. Me like. And he blew a kiss at the end which completely sent me off my trolley.
7. "Spring för Livet" - Sara Varga. A brittle, sensitive performance of a song which is apparently about domestic violence, and which the organisers described as the most 'political' song in the contest since Christer Sjogren's "I Love Europe" (????) Anyway some call it boring, but I thought it was quite mesmerising.
8. "Popular" - Eric Saade. 'Plagiat!' yelled the tabloids. Not that we'd suggest any influence by Boney M's 'Rasputin' or Lili & Sussie's "Oh Mama" of course. This is clearly screaming '2011 Swedish Eurovision Entry' but dare I say that it would not be such a good idea if that was to be the case? If it's between Eric and Danny then at this point I'd have to go with Danny, all the way with a contemporary clubby-dance number.
This week it was Lena Philipsson's turn to be transformed by "The Hurricane" into a heavy rock star, which resulted in = "Dance In The Neonlight" - Lena Philipsson with Dead By April: it's certainly not a patch on the original, but she showed up most of the evening's participants with her incredible professionalism.
Eric to Globen (no surprise)
Playtones to Globen (eh???)
Sara Varga and Shirley's Angels to Andra Chansen
Sebastian 5th (boo hoo, really wanted him to qualify to something)
6th - Linda
7th - Sara
8th - Simon
(photos courtesy of SVT)
Next week: two Lindas, one Anders and a Love Generation...