Thursday, December 26, 2013

Catch-up: Melodifestivalen 2014 - the songs and the artists

Catching up with a few overdue blog posts this week!  Back in October/November, hardly a day passed without a new rumour about who would be appearing in Melodifestivalen.  In late November, the 32 artists competing in next year's contest were finally announced, and in the past week SVT revealed the running order.  So let's have a look at who will be competing for the honour to represent Sweden in Copenhagen and, more importantly perhaps, get a major career boost or revival from appearing in the contest.  Looking at the line-up alone, it suggests that Melodifestivalen is looking backwards rather than forwards, and taking a little break from 'the new' to acknowledge the wishes of the disgruntled Melfest fans who haven't been too happy with the direction which the contest has taken over recent years. 

Deltävling 1: Malmö 01.02.14

1. ”To the End” - Yohio
2. ”Aleo” - Mahan Moin (Mahan Moin, Anderz Wrethov)
3. ”Bröder” - Linus Svenning (Fredrik Kempe)
4. ”Casanova” - Elisa Lindström (Ingela ”Pling” Forsman, Bobby Ljunggren, Jimmy Jansson)
5. ”Bedroom” - Alvaro Estrella (Jakke Erixson, Jon Bordon, Lauren Francis, Kristofer Östergren)
6. ”Songbird” - Ellen Benediktson
7. ”Bygdens son” - Sylvester Schlegel (Sylvester Schlegel)
8. ”Survivor” - Helena Paparizou

Melfest 2014 season starts where Eurovision left off: Malmö.  A number of new or unfamiliar names in the week 1 line-up which leads to my own little conspiracy theory: this should give Yohio and Helena Paparizou a better chance of qualifying.  But Melodifestivalen also has a habit of surprising us all.  Two other potential qualifiers: Alvaro Estrella, who's been mentioned quite a lot on various blogs over the last couple of months - I expect something contemporary/uptempo here, whilst schlager fans are probably wetting themselves with excitement about new schlager queen-in-waiting Elisa Lindström singing a song written by the Pling/Ljunggren team. 

As for the other artists, Linus Svenning's been popping up regularly on YouTube with his acoustic covers of recent hits.  That 'acoustic' stuff isn't my thing, but he does have a good voice and I just hope Kempe has given him something a bit more uptempo or anthemic.  By the way, can we maybe have one year where all the usual songwriting suspects are kept out to give new, less well-known writers a chance? I do like the Fransson/Larsson team though so it will be interesting to see what they do for another new name, Ellen Benediktson. 

I'd have loved to see Ola Salo back - well, we are getting a member of The Ark but it's sadly not him - it's the drummer, Sylvester Schlegel, instead. 

Helena Paparizou, official Eurovision royalty (although, shock horror, I never rated "My Number One" and thought it one of the contest's weakest winners) has been linked with Melodifestivalen for many years.  I'm guessing she must finally be doing this to revive/boost her career in Sweden.  As for Yohio, the public's choice in 2013, well I think he would have crashed and burned at Eurovision and Robin was the right choice.  I'm expecting an anthemic, mid-tempo song by the Johnson/Kvint team.  Second time lucky?  I don't think so -  I just have this feeling that he will not do so well this year, the novelty has worn thin and the bubble may just have burst. 

Deltävling 2: Linköping 08.02.14

1. ”Love Trigger” - JEM (Thomas G:son, Peter Boström, Julimar ”J-Son” Santos)
2. ”Hallelujah” - The Refreshments (Joakim Arnell)
3. ”Glow” - Manda (Joy Deb, Linnéa Deb, Melanie Wehbe, Charlie Mason)
4. ”Efter solsken” - Panetoz (Johan Hirvi, Mats Lie Skåre, Nebeyu Baheru, Njol Badjie, Pa Modou Badjie)
5. ”I Am Somebody” - Pink Pistols (Joakim Törnqvist, Nestor Geli, Per Ivar Hed, Susie Päivärinta, Diztord)
6. ”Undo” - Sanna Nielsen (Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Hamed "K-One” Pirouzpanah)
7. ”Set Yourself Free” - Little Great Things (Charlie Grönvall, Cristoffer Wernqvist, Felix Grönvall, Adam Dahlström)
8. ”När änglarna går hem” - Martin Stenmarck (Andreas Öhrn, Alexander Bard, Martin Stenmarck, Peter Boström)

Sanna Nielsen and Martin Stenmarck - it's a definite trip back in time in the old Melodifestivalen time machine here.  Schlager fans will be very excited about Sanna's return, although I've never understood all the love for her.  With a title like "Undo" that made me think of Zara Larsson's "Uncover" so can we maybe expect a more modern, r'n'b type ballad?  I'm hoping for a "7 Milakliv"-type song from Martin to take him to (at least) Andra Chansen. 

I think Panetoz will also be serious challengers in week 2 - "Dansa Pausa" was such a massive chart/radio hit in Sweden so they have the recognition factor and I'm expecting a very similar type of song.  I hadn't heard of Little Great Things, but they are all about the back story.  For the band consists of none other than Charlie and Felix Grönvall, the sons of the legendary Nanne so that makes them the grandchildren of Benny Andersson which is bound to be a headline-grabber in the year of the 40th anniversary of Abba's ESC win.  Hope the song matches up to the ancestry!

JEM should give us a contemporary pop number with J-Son among the songwriters.  The Refreshments are a well-known name in Sweden, whilst Manda and the Pink Pistols are new names.

Deltävling 3: Göteborg 15.02.14

1. ”Echo” - Outtrigger (Joy Deb, Linnéa Deb, Anton Malmberg Hård Af Segerstad, Outtrigger)
2. ”Red” - EKO (Linnéa Deb, Joy Deb, Anna Lidman, Hannes Lundberg, Michael Ottosson)
3. ”Yes We Can” - Oscar Zia (Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Hamed "K-One” Pirouzpanah)
4. ”Burning Alive” - Shirley Clamp (Bobby Ljunggren, Marcos Ubeda, Sharon Vaughn, Henrik Wikström)
5. ”All We Are” - State of Drama (Göran Werner, Sanken Sandqvist, Emil Gullhamn, Sebastian Hallifax)
6. ”En enkel sång” - CajsaStina Åkerström (CajsaStina Åkerström)
7. ”Busy Doin’ Nothin’” - Ace Wilder (Ace Wilder, Joy Deb, Linnéa Deb)
8. ”Around the World” - Dr. Alban and Jessica Folcker (Dr. Alban, Jakke Erixson, Karl-Ola Kjellholm)

This, for me, is the completely unpredictable week.  State of Drama return after their 2013 success but could miss out this time round, as the rock vote may go to Outtrigger.  This is a nice story as they did a great metal cover of "You" ( and will now be singing a song written by the same songwriting team!  It's a very busy week for the Debs as they're competing against each other.  Ace Wilder (who sounds like a Hollywood action superhero!) is a new name, EKO won that Svensktoppen-thingy so they're probably doomed, webbjoker-style, and Cajsa-Lisa, an established artist from a few years ago, could do a Louise Hoffsten.  So it's wide open.  I think Oscar Zia - a.k.a. Eric Saade 3.0 (Anton Ewald is Saade 2.0!)

But there is one name which stands out for schlager fans in week 3: Dame Shirley of Clamp is back again!  However, she is not a guaranteed qualifier and has missed out in previous years.  Melodifestivalen may have moved on from Shirley's glory days, but with this year's line-up having a definite backwards-looking appearance, the retro vibe may just work.  Talking of retro, 90s dance king Dr Alban is finally making his debut with Jessica Folcker who is returning to the contest.  I love my 90s dance music so hopefully this won't disappoint.

Deltävling 4: Örnsköldsvik 22.02.14

1. ”Blame It On The Disco” - Alcazar (Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Hamed "K-One” Pirouzpanah)
2. ”Fight Me If You Dare” - I.D.A (Albin Nicklasson, Nicklas Laine, Louise Frick Sveen)
3. ”Hollow” - Janet Leon (Karl-Ola Kjellholm, Jimmy Jansson, Louise Winter)
4. ”Raise Your Hands” - Ammotrack (Jari Kujansuu, Thomas Johansson, Calle Kindbom, Mikael de Bruin)
5. ”Hela natten” - Josef Johansson (Peter Boström, Thomas G:son, Josef Johansson, Peo Thyrén)
6. ”Ta mig” - Linda Bengtzing (Nicke Borg, Jojo Borg Larsson)
7. ”En himmelsk sång” - Ellinore Holmer (Ellinore Holmer, Vanna Rosenberg, Åsa Schmalenbach, Josefina Sanner, Henrik Wikström, Amir Aly)
8. ”Natural” - Anton Ewald

There is only one name on that list which matters to me - the mighty Alcazar!  Yes, glitterballs at the ready.  If the title is anything to go by, it's going to be fa-bu-lous, dah-ling! But will they qualify though?  This is going to be a tough one to qualify from, what with the return of the Bengtzing.  With a song written by the Borgs.  Is she leaving schlager behind and going all 'rock'?  Hopefully the stylists will be kinder to her this time round - I still have nightmares about that yellow dress.  Janet Leon is also back and hoping it will be second time lucky.  Seems no time since the last "Hollow" in Melfest.  Suggests a ballad.  And I don't like ballads.

IDA is a new name although I have read about her on pop blogs.  Ellinore Holmer is also a new name to me, an actress and singer best known for her work with the Glada Hudik theatre. I haven't heard of Josef Johansson at all but with team G:son on board this could be his big breakthrough.  Could he be Saade 4.0?  (Stop it Laura, this is just getting ridiculous now!).  Rock songs always do very well at Melfest so Ammotrack will be hoping that this is their year to qualify.  Check out their "Living Like An Angel" ( which sounds as if it would slot perfectly into Melodifestivalen. 
So, finally, to the mythical 'pimp slot', the final song in the competition and the one most likely to win the whole thing.  Step up Anton Ewald, this could be your year.  Or could it be a David Lindgren-style disappointment?  Either way, Anton's singing "Natural" which I expect to be a contemporary, uptempo tune with lots of dancing going on.  It will need to go a long way to top "Begging", but Anton has probably more chance of winning than Yohio.  As long as he's mastered the art of singing and dancing at the same time.  My biggest pet hate about Melodifestivalen is the pre-recorded vocals/backing vocals which just makes it feel like a miming/playback show.  What's the point of this?  Any act should be able to prove that they can sing live, after all that's what's required of them at Eurovision. 

5 weeks to go.....

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