Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kevin Walker is Sweden's new Idol.

The final of Swedish Idol took place last Friday night at Globen in Stockholm.  And an unexpected bonus for us: TV4 letting all of us outside Sweden watch the live broadcast.  And if that's not enough, English language commentary!

So far so good.  However, the reality was somewhat different.  The stream was consistent but blurry, and the sound mix between the Swedish language TV broadcast and the English language commentary by Greg Poehler meant that the two languages were merging into each other most of the time, thus you couldn't actually hear any of it, apart from the ad breaks when Mr Poehler and his long-suffering Swedish sidekick, reminiscent of those side-by-side American sports commentators, finally had the chance to be heard.  On with the show!

above: this year's Idol contestants - minus Kevin or Elin. 

I had managed to persuade mum to watch the final with me, after giving her a short recap of the 2013 contest.  The final was opened by a musical performance by this year's Idol contestants, minus finalists Kevin and Elin.  Then it was on to the individual performances.

Kevin: "Where The Streets Have No Name".
I had criticised Kevin over recent weeks for his safe, perma-grinning, easy-listening renditions.  So it was a pleasant surprise to hear him tackling something more rocky, and even more surprisingly, managing to hold it together for the full length of the song.

Elin: "Raise Your Glass".
Elin also managed to raise her game on her first song, backed by an army of dancers. 

Mum: Is Elin Bergman related to Ingrid Bergman?
L: No! 
M: Kevin should walk it.
L: Oh ha ha. 

The next duel featured Kevin and Elin's most popular songs of the series.

Kevin: "Say". 
A very safe version of the John Mayer song, which Kevin performed well enough and it wasn't too taxing.
M: This is a very repetitive song.  How often can someone sing 'say what you need to say'?

Elin: "Happyland".
M: Elin, wearing what could only be described as a hedge.  It's like one of those camouflage things where people have tree branches sticking out of their hats.

We spend the remainder of the song wondering just what Elin has done to offend the stylists this time.  I tell mum that her styling has been horrific over the series but this beats all. 
L: This is an Amanda Jenssen song, but she's not a patch on Amanda Jenssen. 

Mum also had a chuckle at "Admiral" Anders Bagge's costume.  I also had to explain to her that Alexander Bard's outfit was actually subdued by his standards...

More ads, more wit by Mr Poehler.  This evening's interval act is none other than Mr Robbie Williams.  Of course you would have to live on Mars to have escaped Robbie's ubiquitousness over the last couple of weeks, as he has an album to plug. 

Poehler: "Has Robbie Williams' career fallen so low to appear on this show?"  Mr Poehler then went on to make a comment about Robbie's weight.
M: You are far too sarcastic, Mr Commentator!

above: Robbie shows what he thinks of Greg Poehler's remarks.

The final task of the evening was for both contestants to have a bash at the winning song.  Prior to the final, the tabloids were reporting the finalists' disenchantment with "Belong", apparently a difficult song to sing. 

So, firstly Kevin had a go.  "Belong" is quite an uptempo-ish thing, anthemic and dancey, and clearly influenced by Avicii.  All good.  A nice change from the 'here I am standing here today' sickly winner's ballad. 

M: Not much of a song is it?
L: I don't know, it's a nice uptempo change from the usual "here I am" ballad.  This is "here I am" with beats.

In this final we were clearly on "Team Kevin" (whilst I continued to rant and rave that 'it should have been Erik') and Elin's take on "Belong" didn't do anything to change our minds. 

L: Oh, my ears.
M: That's awful.  He has melody.  She doesn't. 

Mum has also been won over by Kevin's winning smile and charisma, which has come a long way during this year's competition, even if he didn't always have the vocals to match.  I've criticised Kevin over recent weeks for being a bit too safe, but credit to him in the final for pulling off two different musical styles - rock and dance-pop - when it mattered. 

Fast-forward to the results show, which unlike our own results shows in this country, didn't overstay its welcome.  I thought it was a nice touch as each of the finalists passed on the result before it was announced.  And the winner is.....Kevin!  Yes, it may have been one of the biggest foregone conclusions in talent show history, but it's now official - Kevin Walker is Sweden's new idol. 

Now, Kevin has to decide where his main priorities lie - on the football field or the pop charts?  I reckon he should go back to football, after making the usual winner's album.  For Kevin has been the ultimate 'novelty act' - the "singing footballer" and it's all been about the back story, which has been a gift to the tabloid journalists throughout the series.  Pop fame is fleeting, and longevity as an artist, in a packed music business is another thing entirely.

The big news is that Idol will be back in 2014: which proves that you can't keep a good show down. 

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