Saturday, September 28, 2013

Swedish Idol 2013: Friday Finals Week 1 - 27.09.13

Loreen.  Darin.  Agnes.  Sebastian Karlsson.  Måns Zelmerlöw. Danny Saucedo.  Amanda Jenssen. Christoffer Hiding.  Erik Grönwall.  Tove Styrke.  Eddie Razaz.  Olle Hedberg.  Linnea Henriksson. Amanda Fondell.  Moa Lignell.  Robin Stjernberg.

Just a few of the names who came to my attention thanks to my favourite TV talent show - Swedish Idol. And now, after a year off, the show is back.  In 2012, Idol was rested and replaced with the hideous "X Factor" however that was dropped after just one series - oh if only they could have done the same over here in the UK! - so maybe we should change the name of the show to "Sweden's Got Taste" :)  Anyway, this year's Idol has a lot to live up to, when you think about the calibre of many of the artists who originally started out on the show.

Above: Swedish Idol's class of 2013.  Just think, one of these people will probably win Melodifestivalen in a couple of years. 

As usual there's lots of coverage in the Swedish tabloids, who are mainly focusing on Kevin Walker, who has a very interesting back story.  For he is also a professional footballer with GIF Sundsvall, who had to reschedule a football match this week so that he could appear on Idol! Singing footballers haven't exactly had a great pedigree in musical history of course: think of all those embarrassingly bad World Cup songs, and don't start me on "Diamond Lights"(!) - so I guess Kevin will be out to change all that.

As usual, TV4 doesn't allow viewers outside Sweden to watch programmes/clips on its website so it's off to YT to check out the clips.

I haven't watched the qualifying stages of this year's Idol so apologise if my comments are a bit vague; I always struggle at this stage of any contest where there are too many new faces to remember (same goes for Strictly Come Dancing) and they only really hit their stride after about 3 weeks.  So this is the first time I've actually watched all this year's Idol contestants performing.

Sandra Wikstrom - "Empire State of Mind".  I'm not really into that "belter" style of singing but she did well on this and is probably good for another few weeks in the competition.

Matilda Melin - "Thrift Shop".  Yes, that Thrift Shop, the one with the F words and all, which young Matilda reinvented as an r'n'b 'song'.  She made the best of it but I can't really understand why they give contestants songs like this.  (And I say that as someone who likes Thrift Shop).

Gabriel Alares - "Impossible".  There's a big Eurovision connection here, as Gabriel co-wrote Russia's 2013 ESC entry, the sickly-sweet "What If" by Dina Garipova, and he was also one of her backing singers at the contest.I think he has potential and some careful song choices could take him quite far in the competition. However he really needs to work on his breathing as he seemed breathless/wheezy at the end of each line of the chorus. He's trying to work that Danny Saucedo/boyband look.

Sakib Zabbar - "Get Lucky".  This song - which I still love, by the way - has been done to death! It's an easy song to sing, so it doesn't really show off a singer's potential though. This was all wrong for me and even he didn't look like he was enjoying it.  Lyrics changed in the chorus as well.

Sarah Mathisen - "Animal".  Sarah is probably one of the more 'anonymous' contestants and these are the ones who always go early.  Miike Snow as sung by Florence and The Machine.  Florence Welch is on the phone and she says she wants her vocal style back.

Erik Rapp - "Skinny Love".  On this performance, of a song which I don't particularly like, Erik would seem to be the finished article already.  Strong vocals and performance, and he will definitely make it to the latter stages of the competition without a doubt.  Erik is also openly gay - a rarity in talent-show land where any young gay male contestants are forced to disguise their sexuality in order to not alienate that all-important female fanbase.

Sara Sangfelt - "Set Fire To The Rain".  Oh no, not another Adele song, please!!!  I get the feeling that Sara may be more at home on something more rocky/edgy; if they keep giving her songs like this then she could be out of the competition in the next couple of weeks.

Elin Bergman - "Seven Nation Army".  This is like Cher Lloyd singing the Marcus Collins version of the song.  In the clip she looks a bit like Miley Cyrus before she got her hair cut and started all that twerking nonsense.  What does all this add up to?  A no from me.

Kevin Walker - "Pride".  Yes, the U2 stomper reinvented as a restrained piano ballad, with the singing footballer sitting on a stool.  Apparently he had some wobbles during the recent qualifying heats but this would appear to have been his comeback.  Kevin has some hysterical fandom already, which will just multiply from here.  Yes he's good, but so far he's not spectacular.

Miriam Bengtsson - "End of Time".  Yet another appalling song choice.  You used to get a better variety of songs in Idol.  I'm not familiar with this, but I'm guessing Beyonce, right?  Miriam already has a distinctive image, with her head shaved at one side and red hair cascading down the other side.  She could go far but she really needs better songs.

Jens Hult - "I Will Wait".  Banjos and tweed jackets at the ready for a bit of the old Mumford and Sons. This was a really great match of song and voice.  At first I thought he looked like an old guy, but he's only 20!  I'm not sure if he would do so well on different types of songs, but maybe give him some Stiftelsen/Takida or Mando Diao's "Strövtåg i Hembygden" and he might be good for a couple of weeks yet.

George Shaid - "Resolution".  On first listen I think this guy is going to do very very well - he has the looks and the voice, and apart from a couple of iffy bits, this was one of the best performances of the night. I'm not familiar with this song but he did well.

Bottom two: Sakib and Sarah-with-an-h: Sarah is eliminated.

I think the evening suffered from poor song choices for most of the contestants.  The great thing about Idol in the past was the better variety of songs than what you usually get on the talent shows.  This week's choices were a bit tired and predictable.  Sweden has such a rich pop heritage, past and present - do they really need to rely on the usual Alicia Keys/Adele and tiresome r'n'b efforts?

Most of the time for me, Idol is all about the boys and certainly on first viewing, Erik and George seem to be the strongest contestants.  On a completely shallow note though, there is no-one this year to pledge undying devotion to (!) - unlike Eddie Razaz, Christoffer Hiding and Olle Hedberg who were all the subject of my totally shallow favouritism!!!

On first viewing I doubt if any of this year's crop have the talent/personality/charisma (delete as appropriate) to join the long list of Idol 'greats' but nevertheless it is great to have Idol back again, and it will keep us going from now till Christmas, and then it will be Eurovision season once again.  Not that I'm wishing my life away or anything....!

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