Monday, February 03, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014 Week 1: Yohio and Ellen Benediktson till Friends Arena

After a dull, uneventful January, February finally arrived with the first 'Super Saturday' and the first week of this year's Melodifestivalen marathon.  Yes mum, it goes on for 6 weeks (groans from the other side of the living room)

So here it is, Merry Melo, everybody’s having fun.  Unless of course you’re in the anti-Melo camp and were probably watching one of the two finals or the 5 or 6 other heats/semi-finals of course.  As regular readers will know by now, I manage to persuade my mum to watch the contest with me every year, and so it was again on Saturday night. 

The contest began where Eurovision 2013 left off – in Malmo.  But it's a new presenting team this year of Anders Jansson and Nour El-Refai. 

The opening number is usually a nod to the previous year’s winner – remember Gina and Danny’s Loreen routine last year?  So the 2014 opening sketch was basically taking a shot at those Only Teardrops penny whistles.  It maybe didn’t appeal to everyone, but I thought it was funny. 

Mum (quickly losing patience): “less of the chat, get on with the songs!”
So let’s get on with the songs. 

Yohio – “To The End”.  The writers are introduced, Andreas Johnson is among them.  Yohio, the one-man Tokio Hotel returns this year and is hoping to go one better than in 2013. 

L: Yohio’s toned down his image this year.  I think this might appeal to more people than his song from last year, but that’s not to say it’s great.
M: It’s a bit forgettable and mediocre.

Mahan Moin – “Aleo”.
M: I’m not impressed by this.  Too many changes.
L: It doesn’t really go anywhere, does it?
We talk through the rest of the song, which screams non-qualifier.

Linus Svenning – “Bröder”.
Guy singing a song about his late brother, written by uber-smug text-och-musik eminence Freddie Kempe.
M: I don’t really like this and wouldn’t want to hear it again.
L: This is a strange one.  It’s like the X Factor. I think the emotional lyrics might win the public over, but I still can’t really warm to this.  The piercings and the tattoos are a bit too distracting.
I have some more explaining to do to mum about the next song.  In 30 seconds I manage to explain the concept of schlager and dansband, although it probably goes over her head. 

Elisa Lindström – “Casanova”.
M: She’s not wearing very much, is she?
L: This is total schlager but it’s a bad one and it’s all over the place. 
M: It sounds so old-fashioned, like something from about 40 years ago.  Like an old Eurovision song. 
L: So much about this is so wrong.

Alvaro Estrella – “Bedroom”.
L: TFI Bedroom!  I don’t care if the lyrics are mucky, this has brought a bit of life to the show.
M: This is more like it.  A lot more lively and modern, although the lyrics probably waste it.
L: Doesn’t really matter anyway – you can’t really make them out.  He doesn’t have the best voice but I’d like to hear the studio version of this.  My fave of the night so far. I think this is a qualifier.

I then spend the remainder of the song explaining the concept of Anton Ewald to mum…!

Ellen Benediktson – “Songbird”. 
We go from boom-boom-boom-boom to a bare-bones, less is more song.
M: I think this has a really good chance of doing well.  Sometimes the voters will be fed up with all the big routines and go for something simple.
L:  She’s really selling this one.  I think this is going to qualify. 
I explain to mum how this reminds me of a song which did well a few years ago (“Trying To Recall”) – I’m feeling the same vibe.

Sylvester Schlegel – “Bygdens Son”
M: Who’s this guy?  He’s not a singer.  Maybe it might have sounded better if a proper singer had sung this. 
L: If we’re going to have an ex-member of The Ark on that stage, I wish it would have been Ola Salo.  This is so not qualifying. 

And finally….

Helena Paparizou – “Survivor”.  
I give mum a quick briefing on Helena’s past life as Eurovision winner for Greece.   We are both nodding approval for her lace dress which is our favourite of the night.  Unfortunately, the song falls short of our expectation.
L: This is far too repetitive.
M: She’s good, but the song should have been better.  “Call me a survivor” over and over again – yes, too repetitive.

The songs are over, the crowd shots begin.  Look – there’s Henrik Larsson in the audience! One of the greatest ever footballers is at Melodifestivalen!  You wouldn't expect to see any English premiership footballers in the audience for A Song For Europe, would you?  (Well, if we had A Song For Europe, that is...)

We then get some before-they-were-famous clips from Lilla Melodifestivalen including Molly Sanden and Erik Rapp. 

So, first set of results: Linus.  Elisa. Ellen. Helena.  Yohio.
Never mind 'never made it to the bedroom' - poor old Alvaro never made it to the final or Andra Chansen either.  He came 6th, with Mahan 7th and Sylvester 8th.
I'm rather disappointed that there hasn't been an interval act worth mentioning this week.  So at this point I'm engaged in a conversation with mum about going-to-Copenhagen-outwith-Eurovision-week and all the reasons round about that....anyway let's have some results eh????

Firstly: Yohio is direkt till Friends Arena.

Linus Svenning to Andra Chansen, as is (shock horror) Helena Paparizou - we all expected her to go direkt till Friends  however she'll have to settle for a slot in Andra Chansen.  So who is getting the all-important final spot?

Only....Ellen Benediktson.  Which my mum, aka casual Eurovision viewer, clearly predicted. 

Above: Yohio and Ellen celebrate.

48 hours later, there's only one song from that line-up still on my brain - "Bedroom"! 

It was an underwhelming first week:  Anders and Nour were solid rather than spectacular, whilst I'm deducting points for the lack of a real interval act.  Therefore here are the marks I'm awarding for  week 1:

Songs: 2/5
Postcards: 2/5
Staging: 3/5
Presentation: 3/5
Intro: 3/5
Interval Act: 2/5

Next stop Linköping: hoping that J.E.M., The Refreshments, Manda, Panetoz, Pink Pistols, Sanna Nielsen, Little Great Things and Martin Stenmarck deliver some better songs!

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