Monday, February 10, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014 Week 2: underwhelming in Linköping

So yet again we've got the old HDMI cable wired up to the telly, but problems quickly emerge with the SVT stream and don't really resolve themselves for the remainder of the show.

The opening act - "Congratulations" sung in Swedish! - is clearly some kind of 1974/1984 anniversary commemoration of Abba and the Herreys winning Melodifestivalen. 

And now on to the songs!

JEM: "Love Trigger".
Oh look, it's G:son!  Now you never see him in any national finals, do you??  Unfortunately a blurry stream results in a prolonged conversation about how grandad in Mrs Brown's Boys always reminds me of Mr G:son.  Yes peeps, it's that kind of night.  There is something about this which is reassuringly amateurish, yet there is a and Britney feel to this which is very contemporary indeed.  Apparently they were on Swedish X Factor, which may possibly be a good thing for them.

The Refreshments: "Hallelujah".
So on first glance the singer looks as if he's dressed as the flag of FYR Macedonia.  The song is pretty hideous, they've got what looks like Sheila's Wheels on the backing vocals and mum is distracted by the splits-guy's boots.  She's not as excited about the song though.

M: They must have written that in about 5 minutes.
L: This is utter pants.  Next!

Manda: "Glow".
Mum is not used to watching internet streams, whereas I'm happy to put up with pixellation in the name of Melodifestivalen.  We may not be able to see Manda properly but her nails are a big talking point here.  As for the song, it has definitely grown on me and I think it would do well if sung by a more famous singer rather than the unknown Manda. 

Panetoz: "Efter Solsken".
Their catwalk music is Magic System and I tell mum all about 'Dansa Pausa' and how it was a massive hit in Sweden.  Mum is impressed by the fact that in Sweden, hit artists are not afraid to enter the contest and risk failure.  This song has a very catchy chorus although, for me, the verses don't measure up. 

Pink Pistols: "I Am Somebody".
This one's my favourite of the night so far.  I didn't realise till tonight that the girls weren't girls after all!
Mum: Not a bad song.  I like the name - Pink Pistols!
L: Yes I like this.  Although the song title could have been more prominent in the song.  It's more like an afterthought at the end of the chorus.

Sanna Nielsen: "Undo".
AKA the one 'influenced' by Wrecking Ball.  I tell mum about Sanna's numerous appearances in Melodifestivalen.  Mum is not impressed.
M: She's boring.
L: I've never been a fan - I could never warm to her.
M: I just don't like this type of singing or this type of song. 

Little Great Things: "Set Yourself Free".
Mum gets a little summary of the 'family tree'.
M: Nepotism!
I liked the sound of this on the Thursday night clip, however was less impressed tonight.  The lead singer's voice grated on me and the whole thing was vocally ropey at times.  Which is a shame as I usually enjoy the rock songs in Melodifestivalen. 

And cheekily, the organisers of the contest have drawn LGT next to mama Nanne's nemesis...

Martin Stenmarck: "När Änglarna Går Hem".
L: Martin used to have a lovely head of hair.  You fancied him the year he was in Eurovision.
M: Did I?
L: Yes.  And so did I.  He still looks alright. 
The chorus is in the "Tell The World I'm Here"-anthemic vein, however the verses are unimpressive and forgettable.  There are too many flashing lights and effects, obscuring Martin much of the time. 

Resultat time.  Sanna, Refreshments (ugh), JEM, Panetoz and Martin to the next round of voting.  Little Great Things miss out in 6th place, Pink Pistols 7th and Manda 8th. 

Whether or not Panetoz qualify, I think their song will probably become the biggest hit from this week's contest.

Mum does not like Melodifestivalen, much as I try to convert her. 

M: I can't get into all this.  The difference is that you're familiar with all these singers and songwriters and presenters but I'm not.  And I can't watch that blurry picture.
L: (laughs wickedly) And there's 4 more weeks of it to go!
M: Oh no....

They're advertising the Lilla Melodifestivalen thing again.  Yes, you too can appear in big Melodifestivalen if you start off on the kiddie version. 

Nour received some criticism last week for her nervy performance, but she seemed more relaxed and confident this week, dressed in a wine-coloured jumpsuit (or whatever the young folks call them these days).  Mum is unimpressed by Anders, for purely aesthetic reasons: "All those good-looking Swedish young men and they pick him!?!" 

Both presenters however are about to be upstaged by a little girl named Sigrid with her blue and pink hair and a drawing of Yohio.  She stole the show and did the splits.  But can she sing?  Lilla Melodifestivalen beckons. 

Two weeks in, there is still something missing from this year's contest, which is lacking sparkle and the event-quality which long-term Melodifestivalen fans have come to expect.  The quality of the songs is average rather than spectacular.  The Swedish media is blaming the poor scripts, but for those of us non-native speakers, the presentation just appears dull, the postcards useless, and the whole thing has a going-through-the-motions feel. 

So if you remember, there was no interval act last week and we all complained about it.  But be careful what you wish for - because this week we got one.  Sean f****** Banan, with his take on what for me is one of the worst ever Eurovision winners of all time. 

M: I remember that Diggiloo Diggiley.  It was rubbish.  If that's the interval act, you're better off without one!  It was a rotten song the first time round and it's still rotten!

Banan gives way to the real Herreys.  There is something pretty second-hand about all this, as they appeared in last year's brilliant DMGP final as part of a previous-winners segment.

But now it's time for the result.  No surprise that Sanna is direkt till Friends.  Which means that she gets to reprise the song.  This one started off as 'ok' with me but it becomes worse with repeated listening.

JEM go to Andra Chansen and I'm quite happy about that as it's a more contemporary song, but they still need to polish some of the rough edges.  Martin also goes to AC - the second week in a row that the Swedish public has sent a message that just because you're either a Eurovision or Melodifestivalen winner, don't take it for granted that you're an automatic qualifier to the final.

So who else is going to the final?  Panetoz!  Or, as mum now calls them, Pantyhose :))

(all of the above photos courtesy of either SVT or Aftonbladet)

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