Here, finally, is my Melodifestivalen final review which I'm finally getting rounf to publishing after my blogging-break of the last couple of weeks!
10.03.2012: time for the Melodifestivalen final, as ever coming live from Globen in Stockholm. One major change, as the pre-contest onscreen announcers who we've come to know and love over the years were just this week banished to history: SVT decided to remove them from our screens which is really sad. But progress and all that....
Anyway the computer was wired up to the TV (ah, the joys of an HDMI port!) in time for the final 2 hour extravaganza of this year's Melodifestivalen season, with yours truly and mum gathered in front of the TV at EuropeCrazy HQ for the final showdown. It kicked off with the hosts in a "Baku Baku" tribute to this year's ESC host city (to the tune of New York New York) followed by last year's MF winner Eric Saade dancing to a medley of his own songs, and only making the effort to mime when he could be bothered.
The three hosts, Helena, Gina and Sarah sparkled in their party dresses (or in Gina's case, a catsuit). I'm really impressed with the job they've done over the past six weeks - great choice SVT!
Mum was getting irritable by this point - "OK, enough of these presenters, when is this thing actually starting??"
It did start eventually, and first on stage was David Lindgren to sing the Danny-reject "Shout It Out".Of all this year's performers, David is probably the one who will benefit from this high-profile career launchpad. This song has grown on me over recent weeks and it's an energetic opening number.
Mum: "He looks like a bank clerk....although he's wearing trainers, so he's trying to be trendy".
Laura: "Good vocals, good song and dance man - this will be a good springboard for him, but he's still lacking in charisma".
Mum: "He's a very good singer though".
Melodi nummer två: "Jag Reser Mig Igen" by Thorsten Flinck and his Revolutionsorkester.
You know the score: another barefoot and intense performance of a (non) song which we've never managed to connect with at any time we've heard it during the contest.
Laura: "Apparently you need to be Swedish to get him".
Mum: "By the neck, preferably....he's like some drunk uncle at a wedding who'll grab the microphone off you and won't let it go for the rest of the night".
Mum: "You know some Swedish - what's he singing about?"
Laura: "Think it's about picking himself up again.. or something".
"Mystery" - Dead By April. It's not been a classic year, but this year's final has certainly given us a diverse line-up. We've had the breakdancing bank clerk, the tortured actor and now the death metal boyband. There is potentially a decent song somewhere in there, but then it gets ruined with all that growling.
Mum: I don't remember this.
Laura: This was in the first week, when you weren't really watching it.
Mum: Do the audience get these pink cowboy hats thrown in for free with their tickets?
Laura: Don't know. Back to the song...it's too stop-start/disjointed for me.
"Why Start A Fire" - Lisa Miskovsky.
When we first heard this it failed to start a fire at EuropeCrazy HQ, yet between then and now I listened a few more times and it ended up becoming one of my favourite songs of this year and may even figure in my year-end chart. Its subtlety is its strength, and that made it particularly stand out during the final.
Laura: This has probably grown on me more than many of the other songs in the final.
Mum: I quite like this.
Laura: Quality song, written by Norwegian songwriters including the lovely Alexander With (who looked particularly hot in the pre-song announcement).
"Baby Doll" - Top Cats.
Fulfilling what's become an annual rockabilly-quota, Top Cats milk the moment and enjoy what will probably be the peak of their career.
Mum: Oh yes, I remember them. I feel as if I've heard this song a million times.
Laura: And as I say at this point every week, 'it's not as good as The King, by the Playtones last year'.
Mum: the singer reminds me of the bank clerk guy from earlier on.
Laura: David Lindgren?
Mum: yes, him.
Laura: this should get the Dansbandskampen-vote. The novelty's worn off by now.
"Euphoria" - Loreen.
You can't even hear Sarah announcing this one because it's drowned out by the audience's cheers. The dark and mystical staging and choreography - and Loreen herself - is crucial to the song's success. Without that, I doubt if it would have been so successful.
Mum: this is too repetitive. Euphoria, euphoria, euphoria.
Laura: it's all about her performance which lifts this song out of the ordinary, as I said before. It's got that 90s dance vibe to it, which I love, but I only like this song rather than love it. She is better than the song though.
"Soldiers" - Ulrik Munther.
Ulrik walks onstage to "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve, which automatically earns him extra poäng at EuropeCrazy HQ. Everyone is waving lights in the stadium, and I'm very impressed. Globen looks majestic.
Laura: I think this is one of the most underrated songs this year.
Mum: not often that you see two drummers!
Laura: I like this.
By this stage we both agree that our favourite of the evening so far is....Lisa.
"Mirakel" - Bjorn Ranelid and Sara Li.
The now-bearded Mr Ranelid threatened to quit the contest because of all the abuse from internet trolls, but he changed his mind and decided to stay. The tanned one and his dancey sidekick take the stage to "Conquest of Paradise" setting the scene for another epic performance....however I get the feeling that whereas the buzz for Flinck has grown over the past week, the momentum for this one has been lost.
Laura: Herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrregud. Kärleken, kärleken, kärleken, oj oj oj oj!
"Why Am I Crying" - Molly Sandén.
The only "big ballad" this year. However I'd rather have had Sonja Aldén's subtle non-qualifier than this big shouty-screamy number. Molly is a very good singer though, but I'd like to see her back at MF in the coming years with an Agnes-style dance-pop stomper.
Laura: This is the ex-girlfriend of the guy who was on at the start of the show...
Laura: Time for potato wedges!
And finally..."Amazing" - Danny Saucedo.
The man in the glow in the dark suit takes the stage to E.M.D. bandmate Mattias Andréasson's "Forlåt Mig" which I find quite amusing. He's managed to recover well from the sickness of the past week. I'm not so sure how much is live and how much is Memorex, but we're both much more impressed than we were a couple of weeks ago.
Mum: good gimmick, these lighted suits.
Laura: he's got the vocals right. Although the song itself is still a bit of a letdown, he's definitely my favourite tonight.
Mum: mine too. Best tonight.
The EuropeCrazy HQ Jury Top 5:
1st - Amazing
2nd - Why Start A Fire
3rd - Shout It Out
4th - Soldiers
5th - Euphoria
So you're probably shocked that "Euphoria" finished so low in our voting. Loreen is such a strong artist, a one-off, with a fantastic voice and an incredible stage presence - but I just can't explain why I don't like the song as much as I probably should, and I wonder if it would have been so popular if another artist had sung it?
Songs over, and time for the best moment of the final - a sketch which will go down in Melodifestivalen legend. Sarah Dawn Finer as the clueless EBU lady Lynda Woodruff, complete with impeccable English accent - a classic comedy creation!
On to the international jury votes, where Loreen gets most of the top marks, Danny gets a few 12s too, the UK jury spokesman Simon Proctor's as good at pronouncing Azerbaijan as Lynda Woodruff is (!), Malta buck the trend as usual and give their 12 to David, oh and hello Tooji in Norway!!
After the international jury votes, the tan man and the barefoot guy are propping up the scoreboard. "Euphoria" is a runaway winner even before the televote is added. The song's success with the international juries is a very good sign. I have mixed feelings about the song as even though it's wasn't my favourite in Melodifestivalen, it's a great choice to represent Sweden and I can see it achieving a very high position in ESC. And having heard some of the rubbish from other countries masquerading as entries this year, I'd have to say that "Euphoria" is one of the best.
And so to the interval act. The tradition of the previous year's winning song being re-interpreted in a different way is now a regular feature of the final, and it was certainly a major coup to get a previous ESC winner to sing it. I refer to Helena Paparizou, reinterpreting "Popular" in "Chicago" style. It was OK, she looked amazing, but it strangely left me cold like most of this year's "Tredje Chansen" efforts.
Now time for the televote. By this point the camera focused on Danny, whose disappointed expression clearly showed that he was resigned to losing. In any other year he would have triumphed, but this year he was up against something very special indeed. As for the televote results, the most "Amazing" thing about the televote was that third place for Thorsten Flinck, and fourth place for Top Cats! Oh well, each to their own.
When all the votes were added together the final result was:
1st - Euphoria
2nd - Amazing
3rd - Soldiers
4th - Shout It Out
5th - Why Am I Crying
6th - Baby Doll
7th - Mystery
8th - Jag Reser Mig Igen
9th - Why Start a Fire
10th - Mirakel
So Loreen carries the hopes of Sweden to Baku with "Euphoria".
Big congratulations to Loreen! However well Loreen does in Baku, she's already a record breaker, receiving the highest televote figure ever in Melodifestivalen - 670551 to be precise.
Since it was selected, "Euphoria" is picking up a lot of international buzz and is probably the strongest favourite for a Swedish win in many years. Stockholm 2013, anyone?