After what was, quite frankly, a disappointing start to this year's Melodifestivalen festivities, it was destination Gothenburg for the second heat of this year's contest.
A pretty amusing start this week, as Hanson, Carson and Malmkvist treated us to some of their Swedish-language spoofs of recent hits in a recording studio VT before taking to the Scandinavium stage for their take on "Popular" - now retitled "Pensionär"(!)
Mum: "I know that tune".
L: "It won Melodifestivalen 2 years ago. Eric Saade."
Mum: "Yes I've heard that name".
This week Gina is dressed in a little leather ensemble with Danny in leather trousers to match. They seem better this week but I'm still not 100% convinced by their presenting partnership. Anyway, on with the show!
First song tonight is "Begging" sung by Anton Ewald who seems like a computer-generated bybrid of Justin Bieber meets Zayn from One Direction, programmed with this week's generic Saade-Lindgren-Saucedo song. He certainly gives a lively performance but we have to ask, how much of it is really 'live' and how much is Memorex? The lack of 'live' feel actually ruins the song for me although I get the feeling that he's done enough to qualify to something or other.
One of the good things about Melodifestivalen is that it gives exposure to new/unknown artists and I get the feeling that we haven't heard the last of Felicia Olsson. Her song "Make Me No.1" has some considerable songwriting talent in there - notably "Pling" Forsman and Maria Haukaas Mittet (nee Storeng - who seemed almost unrecognisable tonight!) - and it was a very impressive debut performance of a big retro-styled ballad which we were both quite positive about, however again spent the bulk of the song chatting about the negative aspects of pre-recorded backing vocals. Which increasingly makes me long for the days of 'live' backing singers and an orchestra....
I give mum a brief resume about who Joacim Cans is, but having heard "Annelie" I really can't understand the change of musical direction This is one of those songs you keep waiting for to start and it never really gets going. The song is as unimpressive as this year's 'minimalist' stage set. Then, to cement his new-folkie credentials, there's a key-fiddle middle eight. Like, wow.
So far, so 'meh' this week.
I explain to mum that the next act Swedish House Wives is a play on words although this falls flat as she hasn't heard of the Swedish House Mafia. Anyway I spend most of the song wondering why Jenny Silver has replaced her lovely red hair :( "On Top Of The World" has all the ingredients for the schlager-fans to go into raptures: mike stands, glitter, wind machines, strutting and a bit of a Lady Gaga-vibe. However, there was something missing: maybe the song just wasn't good enough.
Mum: "This is very Eurovision Song Contest.....very old-fashioned".
The Swedish-Norwegian team of Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli are up next.
Reports from rehearsals indicated that there just wasn't enough chemistry between the duo, and even tonight I felt there was something missing. Tone looked as if she was going to strangle a wary Erik at times. The style of the song (co-written by a certain Måns Zelmerlöw, who was missing tonight due to performing a gig) was very Jason Mraz rather than E.M.D. and I spent the duration of the song ranting about how E.M.D. should have got back together this year and put a killer song into Melodifestivalen, never mind all Danny's presenting nonsense etc...
Mum: "This is mediocre."
L: "It's OK but should have been better."
Just as with Eric Gadd last week, we now have another artist who doesn't really need to prove anything at Melodifestivalen. Louise Hoffsten is a long-established singer in Sweden who this time has teamed up with 'team Running Scared' on a pleasant little country-blues number. However it's OK rather than great, and I find myself asking..."when is Melodifestivalen going to come good in 2013?"
Not with the next song that's for sure. Rikard Wolff is next on stage with the rather dreary ballad "En förlorad sommar". What's with this trend of non-singing actors turning up at Melodifestivalen, taking up a spot which could have probably been occupied by a more decent song?
Mum: "This is hellish. I'm not watching this programme again!"
L: "But Eddie Razaz is on next week....!"
Is this what Melodifestivalen's come to? An annual appearance by Swedish 'comedian' Sean Banan? Whom my mum has decided to call Sean Banana. Before the 'song' "Copacabanana", he does not take to the catwalk but has a butler taking his baseball cap down the catwalk instead. A typical over-the-top performance follows.
Mum: "I thought all that had gone out 30 years ago".
L: "He's big in Sweden, although I can't understand why. This is three minutes too long".
So that's it for this week's songs. Maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood but I'm still not feeling the Melodifestivalen vibe this year. I go into a rant about how every time Sweden wins Eurovision they don't really bother the following year....it looks like being another one of those years unless week 3 or 4 can rescue the 2013 contest from the slump.
In the meantime, Hanson, Carson & Malmkvist are back with "C'est La Vie".
Mum then goes into a rant about how the Eurovision Song Contest is "FINISHED!!"
Vi har ett resultat time....Banan, Anton, Louise, Erik & Tone and Felicia to the next round of voting. SHW come 6th (is schlager now officially dead?), Wolff 7th and Cans 8th this week.
We are both bored by this week's Melodifestivalen although I'm always willing to give it another chance. Mum announces that she's not watching any more of it. Although I remind her that she says the same thing about Eurovision every year and then she comes back for more :)
Next up, this week's long-awaited interval act which is a Bollywood-version of Danny's "In The Club" now retitled "Indie Club". I didn't really get into this but I'm probably putting it down to my grumpy mood. The other interval act song this week, "Ordinary Family" by Swedish House Family wasn't as good as last week's ukeleles from hell but it had its moments.
Results time again. As predicted, Banan to the final. Anton Ewald and Erik/Tone to Andra Chansen. Who's getting that other final place? Louise Hoffsten and her fish. Based on her performance tonight we wanted Felicia to qualify to something or other, but she misses out.
Two weeks into Melodifestivalen season and I still have an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. Next week: the long-awaited 3rd heat which could be quite a tough one: my favourites Eddie Razaz and Martin Rolinski will be performing but in a heat which includes the debut of the hotly tipped Janet Leon and former Swedish Idol winner Amanda Fondell, and the return of Caroline af Ugglas, it's not going to be easy.