Sunday, February 24, 2013

Melodifestivalen - Deltävling 3: Skellefteå, 16.02.2013

The story so far: Sweden wins Eurovision.  Job done, and that takes the heat off for a while and they don't need too bother about winning it again this year.  After all, in these days of depression and recession, those times of chasing consecutive wins at ESC are long gone.

But is that really any excuse for a disappointing Melodifestivalen season?  After the horror that was heat 2 - one of the worst ever IMHO - which was deservedly panned by the internet fan community, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever enjoy Melodifestivalen again.

Yet after hearing the one-minute snippets of the songs on Thursday night I was once more filled with hope and actually wondered if this could be the week that Melodifestivalen would get its mojo back.  And I managed to convince mum to spend one more Saturday night in SVT-land.  As usual, don't expect in-depth analysis, just the comments of two people watching a song contest.

But firstly, there's one big question to be answered "Why does Italy hate Sweden?"
Gina Dirawi headed off to Rome in search of the answer.

Mum: Is there a reason why Italy hates Sweden?
I explain to mum that the whole point of this sketch was based on last year's Eurovision voting, where Italy was the only country not to give Sweden any points.
Mum: So Italy didn't give you points, get over yourselves! And can we get on with the show?

I thought the beginning of this week's show was a little flat, and I've still to be convinced by the Gina Dirawi/Danny Saucedo partnership this year, and we'll get back to that later....let's get to the songs!!

"Alibi" - Eddie Razaz.

Yes at last, it's the moment I've been waiting for, for a long long time: Eddie Razaz in Melodifestivalen.  Eddie took to the catwalk to the sound of Michael Jackson: no surprise there, given his 'Idol' history. Eddie didn't disappoint, even with glittery knees (!).  But it was a bit of an unfair draw, placing Eddie in the 3rd heat when we'd already had similar songs by David Lindgren and Anton Ewald over the past two weeks, thus placing him at a disadvantage.  "Alibi" was however my favourite of these three songs.  But then, I'M BIASED!!

L: This is Eddie Razaz, who I've been going on about for years.
M:  Oh yes!  He's a very nice looking guy :)

"Island" - Elin Petersson.

One of the earliest acts announced for this year's contest by virtue of winning a songwriters contest last year, my interest in this artist and song increased over the past week with the news that Salem Al Fakir had produced the song.   Unfortunately, for me, it lacked the magic that I'd expected from anything which Salem was involved in.  The high point (literally) of this otherwise rather dull acoustic ballad was her standing on a raised platform.

M: There are too many songs in this contest this year with no distinctive melody or direction.

"En Riktig Javla Schlager" - Ravaillacz.

Now to this week's joke entry, from one of the world's oldest boybands. Sweden's male answer to the Russian grannies. I explain to mum who Tommy Korberg is.  He's surprisingly still in good voice.

M: Strangely enough I like it.  It's like something out of 70s Eurovision.
L: One for the oldie vote.  For people who like dansband.

"Dumb" - Amanda Fondell.

Before this week's show this was one of the strongest favourites: after all, the Idol-winning connection must count for something, right?

M: What's that on her fingers?
L: Looks like hair sectioning clips.
M: I can't understand it, I don't know Swedish.
L: But she's singing it in English!
M: She's quite good but I don't really like the song.
L: The mirrors are a good effect.

So anyway Amanda does her incomprehensible thing rather well, although I always get the feeling when watching her that I'd rather be watching Amanda Jenssen instead.

"In And Out Of Love" - Martin Rolinski.

Mum is now disturbingly singing the praises of Ravaillacz.  But I tell her that the best is yet to come: it's Martin Rolinski time.  Mum has managed to escape the joys of BWO over the years so I briefly fill her in before Martin makes his way out of the glass box.

M: His voice reminds me of Neil Tennant! (that's high praise indeed!)
L: Oh yes, so it does, now that you mention it.
M: And he's very pleasant to look at.
L: Very pleasant indeed.  And even though Modern Talking have called to say they want their song back, I don't particularly mind because a) I'm a Modern Talking fan, and b) this at least has a bit of a tune.
M: This is my favourite tonight.
L: Mine too. Like like like!

"Hon Har Inte" - Caroline af Ugglas. 

She takes to the catwalk to "Sweet Caroline" but there's nothing particularly sweet about this (IMHO) rather tiresome song.

M: Is she wrapped in bandages?  Mummified? Your song should sell you, not your gestures.  Don't like this song.
L: There isn't a song here.   She'll probably qualify on reputation only.

"Falling" - State of Drama.

Never thought I'd hear Muse in Melodifestivalen, but that's this band's catwalk soundtrack.  They're a new name to me, but this pop-rock song will be a good launchpad for their career.

M: I like that keyboard player.  #meandmymumlovemenwithbighair
L: It's good to see a band in this.  There are too many solo artists now.  It sounds a wee bit like Feeder or Nickelback.  Nickelback are very popular in Sweden so I could see this doing very well.  I'd listen to this song after the contest.
M: Yes I like this.  Nice change from everything else.

"Heartstrings" - Janet Leon.

She walks the walk to "Gangsta's Paradise".
M: "Gangsta's Paradise"! One of my faves.
L: Mine too!  The 90s doesn't get the respect it deserves.  Oh look who it is, bloody Kempe again!!!
M: I don't like this, and I don't like female singers.
L: It was tipped to get to the final but I'm not sure now.  Slightly ropey vocals.  It's a tough week and I'm not even going to predict who is going to what.

We then spend the rest of the song discussing how she fit into that catsuit.

All eight songs done, we both agree that this has been the best heat of the three so far.

Back to Rome again for that joke which is really a bit too laboured now. Of course the jury spokesman, Ivan Bacchi, ends up giving '13 points' and all's well that ends well.

The 5 acts going to the next round of voting: State of Drama, Caroline af Ugglas, Martin Rolinski, Ravaillacs and Janet Leon.  Which means, inexplicably, that there is no place for Eddie Razaz, who just misses out in 6th place.  Another shock non-qualifier is Amanda Fondell, in 7th place, and it's no real surprise that Elin Petersson is in 8th place.

The interval act is a Rat Pack-styled song and dance number: this week Gina sings and Danny dances.

M: It always seems to be all about her (Gina)
L: Yes I think Danny's been a bit overshadowed and sidelined.

The comedy sketch this week features joke dansband "Bizex".  During which I try to explain the concept of dansband to mum.  Again.  I have to explain it to her almost every week.

First act to the final: State of Drama!  We are both quite happy about this, and I think they will get a big hit song out of this.  I can just hear "Falling" on repeat on Rix FM.

To Andra Chansen: Martin Rolinski and Caroline af Ugglas.  Of course AC is quite a tough format (are they still having the duels this year?) But we're both very happy for Martin.

So who would be this week's other finalist?  I had made up my mind that it would be Janet Leon, bearing in mind her draw position and being so highly rated by critics and fans.  However you can't be sure of anything - remember "We're Still Kids" - so I wasn't that surprised when "En Riktig...." was read out.

Much chuckling at EuropeCrazy HQ, as I headed off to load up on potato wedges in preparation for a long night ahead, including a bit of the Latvian final and the big conclusion of Sanremo.

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