Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Nästa big thing?

Admit it, even Eurovision obsessives need a little break from the ever-expanding song contest season.  But we're in August now and the withdrawal symptoms are starting to grow and grow.
After weeks of speculation, Vienna was chosen last week as the venue for the next Eurovision Song Contest, so it's time to get into ESC mode once again.  After all, it's only just over 9 months away!

So here's something to keep us going for a little while.  A few days ago Swedish radio announced the line-up of finalists in its national Svensktoppen Nästa competition.  The winner of this contest gets an automatic pass into Melodifestivalen.  Now I've never been too excited about this contest before, as it's never really made much of a mark on Melfest.  In 2014 however it brought us the band EKO with "Red" which still remains my favourite of this year's Melfest songs, so I'm a lot more interested now than I used to be.

You can find all the songs from this year's finalists in full at http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=3147&artikel=5932383 to hear them for yourself but here are my thoughts after just one listen to each song.

"Bells and Whistles" - Bullock Hearts
I wasn't initially sure if I would be in the moo-d (groan) for this particularly upbeat and jaunty song, but the chorus stayed in my brain for a while.  It mixes a little bit of Sebalter-style whistling with some Kika/Rongedal influences.  The problem with this song on first hearing is that the verses are rather forgettable.

"If Forever Means Forever" - Stephanie Quinth
This initially sounds like someone who's been listening to too many Ellie Goulding songs.  There's a pulsating electronic backbeat, and just as the song threatens to burst into a big old pop chorus, it stops very short and leaves us without a hookline.

"Ways Of Growing Old" - Last Trees
And now onto a pleasant but ultimately unexciting acoustic song which doesn't really go anywhere. Sorry but I don't really have too much else to say about this one.

"Den Där Dan" - Kalle Johansson
Yippee!  At last something in Swedish.  Not only that, but this has radio hit written all over it.  Of course that doesn't mean that it's a Melodifestivalen winner, but it's the best and most commercial of the songs I've heard so far in this competition and would be an asset to the final line-up.

"Living By The Gun" - Flat Foot
This is a little bit country, a little bit rock, with a "run Johnny run" chorus.  It's not bad but it's not great either.  It's just..there.

"Alive" - Elsa Martinsson
This one's yet another example of the pop songs which the Swedes churn out in their sleep.  This promises a lot but like Stephanie's song earlier, it is missing a killer chorus which would massively improve the song.

"Honung" - Morgan Färm
I didn't really like this to begin with, but it's got that little retro-feel to it and it's quite nice.  Wiwi Bloggs has pointed out the slight similarity in the chorus to "In And Out Of Love" which I also noticed too.  It's a pleasant and easy-going pop song, and there's more whistling.  Whistling, it would appear, is the new black.

"When The Blackbirds Sing" - Rebecca Fredriksson
Birds. Songbird.  And now When The Blackbirds Sing.  The avian-related theme continues.  This is quite similar in low-key style to "Songbird" and the public seem to go for that style now, so this is in with a strong chance.  No whistling though, despite the bird-theme.

After hearing all the songs, it's Kalle's Swedish-language song which floated my boat, however it will ultimately be a mix of public and jury votes to determine the winner at the final on Sunday 31st October.  Good luck to all the contestants!

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