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Monday, March 30, 2015

Nightwish - Weak Fantasy

Last week, Finnish symphonic rockers Nightwish released their new album, and first with vocalist Floor Jansen. As usual with Nightwish albums, it takes some time to fully ingratiate with the dense, often long songs. Honestly, the twenty-four minute track that closes the album probably won't even find its way onto my ipod. I'm not a hardcore enough fan to have time for that. Upon listening to the album, there was one song that stuck out immediately as being incredibly awesome and exactly what I love about the band. Weak Fantasy is the second track, and it's classic, bombastic Nightwish. Both the hard rock and symphonic elements are operating at full tilt, and the song as a whole has a theatrical, aggressively insistent feel to it. It kind of sounds like it could have come from a heavier version of The Phantom of the Opera or something! The hook is especially indelible, with its snarling delivery and crushing production. Though I'm not sure how often I'll be revisiting the album as a whole, I can't stop listening to this song.

Nightwish 2015 - Weak Fantasy by MusicHits1

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Crayon Pop - FM

Yes! Yes! Yes! It's been awhile since Crayon Pop have graced us with their uniquely quirky brand of addictive pop, but now they've returned with a track that's almost impossibly catchy. Better yet, it's paired with a music video that awakens the nostalgic 90's child in me. Though it's not specifically what's being parodied here, most western viewers are going to see a whole lot of Power Rangers and Sailor Moon in the colorful video. It's pure, giddy eye candy. But even if we take the visuals away, there's absolutely no denying the candy-coated assault going on in the music itself. The beat is big and bright and propulsive. The melody of the chorus reminds me a bit of AOA's similarly catchy Elvis, but even better. It simply doesn't let up. The girls are well and truly back.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the mini album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ola Salo - Hamartia

Ola Salo's debut EP was released yesterday, worldwide, and I'm happy to report that it's actually pretty good. We've already heard the best two songs, Go On Go On and the fantastic How I Kill. Beyond that, we get the dark and glammy Calling On The Curious and the more bright sounding, string-infused Hamartia. Though I still maintain that Ola's higher register has become a bit shrill of late and his music needs vocal arrangement that accounts for that, I adore this song even so. I'm just overjoyed that Ola is releasing solo material that I actually like. The Ark was such a huge musical touchstone in my life, and it's fun to see what its frontman has evolved into. It turns out, thankfully, that it's not all that different from what I loved so much about the Ark. A full album is out in May, and I'm anxiously looking forward to it! And by "anxiously," I mean that I need it now.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Brandon Flowers - Can't Deny My Love

Despite loving the Killers' first few albums, I can't say I was overly excited at the prospect of another solo album by frontman Brandon Flowers. I think I assumed it would be mostly downtempo and serious. Well, it's not! The first single, at least, takes a welcome tilt back to the 80's pop direction that made me love the band in the first place. It actually sounds like something that would have been on Bleachers' excellent 2014 album. It's got an explosive, catchy hook and atmospheric synths that make it sound like a long-lost soundtrack cut to some 80's movie. Color me surprised. My interest is officially reignited (as long as the rest of the album follows suit...).

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Magnus Carlsson - Nej Nej Nej

After participating in this year's Melodifestivalen final, Magnus Carlsson went ahead and released an awesome pop/schlager album. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the schlager genre, think super catchy, singalong pop music. Like, SUPER catchy. It's a hallmark of Scandinavian music, and one of my favorite things about it is that it doesn't take itself seriously. Instead, it jettisons all pretenses and goes balls-to-the-wall hardcore to make the best, most urgently awesome melody that it can muster. It's also a genre that's not as prevalent in today's cynical music scene. Too often dismissed as a cheesy "guilty pleasure," schlager deserves to be spotlighted. Magnus has always done an amazing job doing just that. Take Nej Nej Nej as an example. If you can't get in to this, I feel sorry a little bit sorry for you. Take a cue from this awesome interpreter, who provided sign language for Magnus's MF entry. It'll brighten your day... maybe even your month!

No embeddable link, but you can stream the song here

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Boyfriend - Crooked

I'm beginning to think that every Kpop song called Crooked is awesome. Actually, it's more like every song produced by Sweetune is awesome. I haven't actually seen the production credits for Boyfriend's new mini album, but I'm 99% sure that this track is a Sweetune composition. For much of its length, it's an above average dance/club track. But it's the second part of the chorus, that anthemic, soaring section that's first heard at the 1:20 mark, that stands out most. This is pure Sweetune perfection (or at least a very impressive facsimile) and it's what has kept this album track in heavy rotation for me the past few weeks. Sometimes all it takes is a little slice of melody, even if its surrounding parts aren't all that memorable. I wish Boyfriend would go back to this sound more often. It's what made their earlier material so classic.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Red Velvet - Ice Cream Cake

During the past few years in the K-Pop realm, SM Entertainment has become well known for their unique brand of "franken-songs." Tracks like Girls' Generation's I Got A Boy and f(x)'s Red Light cobble together seemingly disparate sounds and melodies to create a herky-jerky type of pop song that some fans hate, but I find to be really dynamic and interesting. It's something I've come to look forward to when SM artists release new material. Red Velvet, one of the company's newest groups, show us yet again how awesome this style can be with their addictive Ice Cream Cake. It's the kind of track that pulls you in immediately with its incredible catchiness, but keeps you curious long after with its interesting sound and tempo changes. The aggressive beat during the chorus is the best, but the song's more saccharine moments actually work well too. The song could have easily grated on my nerves with its childish refrain, but there's something about it that just seems so cool. The surreal, stylish video certainly helps.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Big Data & Dragonette - Get Some Freedom

"Baby, we've got options"

This blog has proudly followed Dragonette from the time when no one knew their sound, to the time when everyone knew them from the ubiquitous Hello with Martin Solveig, and now the time when they seem to be indie electro-pop collaborators of choice. It's been awesome to watch their career change and grow. Big Data is a New York-based production team, and they've augmented Dragonette's typical sound with a heavy industrial guitar riff for this wonderful track. In lieu of a new album, this song is a nice little surprise. In some ways, it's not quite what you'd expect from the band, but I'm really digging the White Zombie/Marilyn Manson influence. It's cool to see them take on a heavier sound, even though this is definitely still pop music at its core.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Darin - Ta Mig Tillbaka

Just in time for the Melodifestivalen finale, Sweden's ace popstar Darin released new music. Ta Mig Tillbaka (ie: Take Me Back) is a brand new sound for him. Gone is the r&b-influenced dance music in favor of an airy, almost country-sounding folk song. This should be a bad thing, but the track itself is actually kind of amazing. First of all, I'm delighted that he's singing in Swedish, even though I can't understand most of it. When he was on Så Mycket Bättre in 2012 and covered many Swedish-language tracks, I went from casually liking his music to becoming obsessed. He's just got such a stunning voice that's wasted on generic radio pop. If I'm completely honest, I'd probably be a bit disappointed if he released a full album with the tempo of Ta Mig Tillbaka, but then again if every song matches this high quality it could end up as one of the year's best surprises. One quibble, however: the song really should have been released in October. Doesn't it sound like Autumn?

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: The Final

Here we are at the end of another Melodifestivalen season! Who will take home the crown this year? I predicted Jon yesterday, but I'm not overly confident. Whatever happens, I can't wait for the voting. It's always the most exciting part of the show.

EDIT: I love Conchita Wurst. What a great winner. That male host has got to stop singing, though.

EDIT: As expected, the unofficial audience-applause-o-meter favored Jon and Mans, though Mans was the winner. He may just pull this off in the end.

SAMIR AND VIKTOR: Nope, still hate this. Though if I don't look at their smug, annoying faces, I like it just a little bit more.

* I am SO glad I will never have to see or hear Filippa after this year's MF is over...

JTR: I think I would like this song more if the vocals weren't so irritating. I have no idea why this is in the final. They should have just chopped off the first two songs.

DINAH NAH: This year's MF has been very good to breakout female performers. I still think this song is pretty basic, but at least it doesn't make me want to pull my hair out like the last two.

JON HENRIK: I really wonder what the International Juries are going to make of this one. I'm getting a feeling it might end up taking second place, now. Still love it, though.

JESSICA ANDERSSON: This feels very much like a non entity in the final. Honestly, I think she's just lucky to be here. I would be shocked if she finishes in the top half.

MANS: The predicted winner, and he may just do it. I like the song, but it does feel like it's missing something. The stage show is really the star here, and would do well at Eurovision.

LINUS SVENNING: This song has actually grown on me. I still feel like it's a cheap knockoff, but it's at least got a pleasant melody. Still, I think he will follow the classic path of a MF breakthrough and place significantly lower this year than he did last year.

ISA: This is another knockoff song that's grown on me, more because of Isa than the song itself. I'm curious what she'll come out with in the future. She feels like the big breakout of the competition this year, though I think she'll place somewhere in the middle.

MAGNUS CARLSSON: My favorite of the night, though there's no way it'll win even though it should. I just hope he places well. This is pure schlager, and he's really the only one bringing it this year.

ERIC SAADE: I hope Eric pulls an Anton Ewald and finishes surprisingly low. It would serve him right for a weak song and smug performance.

MARIETTE: I can see how others like this, but it's just not my thing. Too self-serious, I think. I don't think it'll do as well as some are thinking, either, though it will probably finish in the top half.

HASSE: This will likely get a healthy portion of the Swedish vote, but the juries are going to kill it. It's a very strange choice for the final performance of the year, but whatever... I have no ill will toward the song... it's just there.

* Wow, Filippa is not even funny in English.

* Ylvis is a really random choice for an interval act. I wish this song wasn't "comedy," because I actually like the melody and production. I can't deal with the "funny" lyrics, though.

I feel like Jon could rack up some points from the Southern and Eastern block, while Mans will probably be tops with the West. But we'll see...

International Juries' 12 Points go to:
Armenia: Mans
Austria: Mans
Belgium: Mans
Cyprus: Mans
Estonia: Mans
France: Mans
Israel: Mariette
Malta: Mans
Netherlands: Mans
Slovenia: Mans
UK: Jon

Wow, that was a landslide for Mans in the juries. As it stands now, the top three are:
1. Mans
2. Mariette
3. Jon

But I'm presuming Mans has already won unless something really, really weird happens in the voting. Jon is too far behind, and could Mariette really rack up enough Swedish votes??

* Dirty Loops! I didn't know they'd be covering Undo. This is pretty cool.

Final Results!
01. Mans Zelmerlow
02. Jon Henrik
03. Mariette
04. Hasse Andersson
05. Eric Saade
06. Linus Svenning
07. Isa
08. Samir and Viktor
09. Magnus Carlsson
10. JTR
11. Jessica Andersson
12. Dinah Nah

Well, we have a winner, and it really wasn't close at all. Is it a good winner? Sure. An exciting winner? Not really. But then again, it's been a pretty unexciting year. Mans, I wish you luck in Eurovision! (But I hope there's something better in May...)


Friday, March 13, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: Finale Preview

Tomorrow marks the end of this year's Melodifestivalen. Ever since the artist line-up was announced last year, I just couldn't muster up any excitement. That's a shame, and I'm not sure if it's because it truly is a weak year, or that I'm just not enamored with the competition the same way I used to be. Whatever the case, I'm hoping that 2016 turns things around.

That said, the final line-up isn't actually too bad. In fact, cut the first two (horrendous) songs out and you'd have a pretty nice, very pop-oriented, final. As a reminder, here's what the running order will look like tomorrow:

1. Samir and Victor - Groupie
2. JTR - Building It Up
3. Dinah Nah - Make Me (La La La)
4. Jon Henrik Fjällgren - Jag är fri (Manne Leam Frijje)
5. Jessica Andersson - Can't Hurt Me Now
6. Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes
7. Linus Svenning - Forever Starts Today
8. Isa - Don't Stop
9. Magnus Carlsson - Möt mig i Gamla stan
10. Eric Saade - Sting
11. Mariette - Don't Stop Believing
12. Hasse Andersson - Guld och gröna skogar

Although I believe the final will be quite close, I think when it all comes down to it, it's a  Måns vs. Jon battle. I'd be fine with either one of them winning, so I don't have a problem with that. Although Måns has been way ahead of everyone on itunes for two weeks, I still think Jon is going to reap the majority of the audience votes, even though it may be a small majority. As usual, though, the juries are way harder to predict and may just decide the contest. I could see them supporting almost anyone on this list, so it's very hard to call. Even so, I'll stick my head out for some fearless predictions, as well as my personal opinion.

1. Magnus Carlsson
2. Jon Henrik Fjällgren
3. Måns Zelmerlöw
4. Isa
5. Dinah Nah
6. Linus Svenning
7. Eric Saade
8. Hasse Andersson
9. Mariette
10. Jessica Andersson
11. Samir and Victor
12. JTR

1. Jon Henrik Fjällgren
2. Måns Zelmerlöw
3. Mariette
4. Eric Saade
5. Samir and Victor
6. Magnus Carlsson
7. Dinah Nah
8. Isa
9. Hasse Andersson
10. JTR
11. Linus Svenning
12. Jessica Andersson


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ola Salo - How I Kill

"You will rise again from your grave"

Ola Salo is back again! Ahead of an imminent EP release, he's treated us to another single, How I Kill. This time, we've got a dramatic, Meat loaf-esque chorus that I'm already obsessed with. The rest of the song doesn't hit quite as hard, but I'm super happy to hear the reemergence of the female choral vocals in the background. That had always been one of my favorite aspects of the Ark's music. But seriously, with this song it's all about that hook. It has such an old school feel to it and I really hope that this is the sound we'll be hearing on the rest of the EP. As usual, Ola worked with Nicklas Stenemo (of The Mo and Melody Club) for this song, which is pretty much a match made in heaven. I've been critical of the production of Ola's other solo songs, particularly the way his vocals sounded, but this is meaty and epic and he sounds amazing. Honestly, it's the first time since the Ark broke up that I feel that spark in his music again.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Top Ten Singles By... Infinite!

There are a few untouchable artists/acts that I've wanted to do a top ten for, but I've been stalling. Sometimes an artist's singles run is so flawless that ranking the songs is near impossible. I'm still not ready to count down Janet Jackson's singles yet, but I've finally settled on a list for Kpop royalty Infinite. Any one of these songs could have been number one at some point, but for now, here are my favorites:

10. Last Romeo (2014) - Their standard, synth-drenched epic sound. In many ways, it's a distillation of all of their sounds up to this point.

9. BTD (Before The Dawn) (2011) - The earliest example of what would become one of their trademarks... that dramatic, string-laden build. The "scorpion dance" at the 2:56 mark would become their first iconic moment, but it's all about the opening synth work.

8. She's Back (2010) - One of their more underrated singles, this is pure bombastic Summer fun. An irresistible confection, it floats along with power-pop guitars and a chorus to die for. It's also their first single to feature their Sweetune-assisted trademark sound.

7. Man In Love (2013) - Infinite at their brightest and most upbeat. It's a propulsive, wall-of-sound aural assault with squealing guitars and one hell of a build at around the 3:00 mark.

6. Nothing's Over (2011) - One of the group's most melodic songs, this does an excellent job of straddling the line between Eastern and Western pop music. Simply put, it's impossible not to listen to it with a smile on your face. The ultimate feel-good singalong anthem.

5. Destiny (2013) - Their first foray into working with a different production team since their debut single, the gamble paid off and paved the way for an edgier sound. This is 21st century dance pop at its very best, produced and performed to perfection.

4. Paradise (2011) - In a career of ridiculously catchy choruses, this could be their catchiest. The Bee Gees-esque hook is a stunner, and takes advantage of their incredible, layered vocals. It's an enormous song, and one of the most instant melodies of their career.

3. Be Mine (2011) - The song that officially broke them into the stratosphere, it's their most iconic moment. And rightfully so, because this is honestly a song that should appeal to anyone. It's all about that synth-heavy, 80's inspired chorus and accompanying dance.

2. Back (2014) - My favorite song of last year, and an incredible piece of work. I've gone on at length about the inventive song structure, the powerful, orchestral production and the iconic video, so for now I'll just say that this song transcends pop music and becomes something much more impressive.

1. The Chaser (2012) - This was the very first Infinite song I heard. Until very recently, even, it wasn't in my top spot. But, like all of Infinite's tracks, it's kind of like a time bomb, exploding more and more each listen. Three years going, and I'm still invigorated with The Chaser's amazing, dramatic build, powerful vocal arrangement and unrelenting, dense production. They perform the hell out of it live, which only adds to how incredibly epic the track is. It's easily on the shortlist of very best K-Pop songs of all time.

So there you go! But here's the thing, no list is complete without hearing what you think! Leave your top ten Infinite songs in the comments!

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Invader Girl - Stuck On Me

"There's something about you I can't dismiss"

Scandinavia continues its 2015 assault with this awesome new track by Invader Girl (formerly Cinnamon Girl). I've got to admit that I wasn't totally familiar with the music she's made in the past, and I'm kind of regretting that now. Stuck On Me combines the kewpie doll vocal style of early Gwen Stefani with an 80's assault of drum heavy production. There's a definite build to the track, which means the first section seems like its missing a little something. It's not until the cascade of drums comes in around the 1:15 mark that the song finds its footing and becomes something very special. For those looking forward to Marina and the Diamonds' newest album, I think you'll become an instant fan of Invader Girl. She's got another, slightly more rock-influenced track that she released last year, but this is the one I'd start with.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy her music here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Friday, March 06, 2015

Producer Spotlight: Thomas Troelsen

As a pop music aficionado, and a bit of a curator when it comes to my ipod playlists, I realize more and more that songwriting teams and producers are just as important, if not more, as the artists performing songs. Given this, I've started a feature that focuses on my absolute favorite behind-the-scenes music creators... songwriters or producers whose name alone gets me psyched for a song.

Thomas Troelsen is one of the few producers and songwriters who is notable for his contributions in both Western and Eastern music. He even enjoyed a sizable hit in America with Junior Senior's breakthrough. He's long been one of this blog's musical heroes.

Musical Hallmarks: Bright, funky synth work, strong Michael Jackson influence in beats and vocal production, generally beat-driven compositions with ample use of syncopation

Best Examples: While Junior Senior's Move Your Feet was his international breakthrough, his own band Private one-upped it in quality. His single track with Swedish band Melody Club is one of their best. As far as Kpop, Exo's History and, more recently, Taemin's Danger, are essentials.

Recommended Further Listening: 

SHINEE - Sherlock, Spoiler, Punch Drunk Love, Girls, Girls, Girls, Everybody, Like A Fire
SUPER JUNIOR - Opera, Spy, Perfection (Super Junior M)
F(X) - Nu Abo, Hot Summer, Gangsta Boy, Butterfly
TVXQ - Mirotic
SUPERHEROES - Someone Else, Ghost, Johnny And I, Cool Girl
THE FOOO CONSPIRACY - Fridays Are Forever
INFERNAL - Dead Or Alive
AQUA - How R U Doin'
PRIVATE - Entire debut album

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Xia - Flower

Jeez, this is why I love Kpop. Xia was one of the original members of the blockbuster Korean group TVXQ, which has since dwindled to only two (still very successful) members. Since leaving the group, he's released a few albums on his own and with his other group JYJ, which is composed of himself and the two other members who'd left TVXQ. Confused? It doesn't really matter. What you need to know is that Xia is a powerhouse vocalist and dancer, and he's not afraid to go really, really weird. This is beyond Lady Gaga-level weird pop music. He also makes incredibly videos, and the just released Flower is his best yet. The song is a split between ultra-spare, barely registering balladry... and epic, turned-up-to-twenty operatic bombast. It's not even much of a pop song in the traditional sense. It's too haunting and dynamically provocative to be something that fits in well on radio. The video won't make much sense, but your jaw will drop as you watch image after strange, startling image. It's like a big-budget sci-fi epic crammed into four and a half minutes. Unfortunately, Xia has a confounding habit of releasing awesome, boundary-pushing singles as part of albums that, as a whole, feel very middle of the road and ballad heavy. His new one follows the trend. I'm finding it very difficult to get into it. But then again, with a single and video this, I'm not really complaining.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Midnight Boy - Don't Say No

"Just reach out and feel the love"

Sometimes in the world of Melodifestivalen, I hear a song that I completely fall in love with while also knowing unequivocally that it won't do well in the contest. Such is the case with Midnight Boy's wonderfully 80's Don't Say No. Despite being an amazing song (maybe the best in this year's contest), it was always going to be too niche for the voting public. And, just as I thought, the song placed dead last on Saturday. But, in a wonderful twist, it's also found itself in the top ten songs on Swedish itunes since the competition aired. I hope this encourages Midnight Boy and the people behind him to release a full album of 80's-tastic pop. I've been a longtime cheerleader of his, and I know he's got other songs written and ready to go, but I also know how difficult it is for acts like these to get funding for an album release. For now, we've got this brilliant song to enjoy, and I intend to!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, March 02, 2015

Shinhwa - Sniper

Shinhwa are the longest running boy group in K-Pop. With the members all in their mid-thirties, they've reached the point in their career where they could be churning out irrelevant "old guy" music and banking solely on their name recognition. Instead, they've released the first great K-Pop album of 2015. I'm incredibly impressed with We, a nonstop parade of funky, beat-driven pop that takes more than a subtle inspiration from Michael Jackson. Sniper is the single, and it's a cool, slinky pop tune with an incredible whistle hook and hammering beat. The accompanying video is stylish and atmospheric, and honestly as sleek as anything younger bands like Exo and Beast are putting out. This is a group clearly at the top of their game (after 17 years in the business), and they deserve to be noticed as such.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat Four

Here we are at the last Heat for MF 2015. Historically, this tends to be the strongest round, and from the sounds of it this year will be no different. So I'm prepared for some heartbreak with regards to the results. Luckily, by the time it's all over we'll have the full album to enjoy.

EDIT: Sanna singing En Vogue is not something I ever imagined I'd see...

EDIT: Oh my god. Now she's rapping.... badly...

EDIT: JTR and Mans won the audience pre-applause unofficial vote, though I don't necessarily think that means much this week.

MIDNIGHT BOY: Wow, Kristoffer from Melody Club looks so different now! All I know about Midnight Boy is that I need an album, now. I don't care how he does this week. I just want more music. This is the kind of 80's pastiche I live for.

CAROLINE: What the hell was up with her intro? That aside, the song in full is not as good as I hoped it would be. I like the drama and bombast of the production, but the chorus feels kind of weak. Although she's done well in the past, I don't think this will be her night.

JTR: They seem to have a lot of support in the audience. I'm just not sold. The song itself sounds like something One Direction would have turned down. It's just too predictable and trendy for me. Plus, they're still annoying and tryhard.

HASSE: He seems to be a favorite if the odds are to be believed. Plus, a song (and artist) like this almost always makes it to the final to represent the older viewing audience. It might happen again today, but the song just isn't that great. If he gets through, it'll be based on name and genre alone. There have been SO many better dansband entries in the past.

DINAH NAH: This song could be so much better, but the production certainly is impactful, especially coming off the heels of the last entry. I don't see this doing well, though. I think Isa got all of these particular votes last week. Straight up dance/club music rarely does that well in MF, historically.

ANNIKA: Ugh. A ballad. I think this lady has a certain cache with the Swedish public because of Frozen, but the song is boring me to death. Next, please.

MANS: I like this a lot, and that staging is really, really cool. Surely it'll go direct to the final and retain its place as one of the frontrunners. As far as Eurovision-esque entries, it's probably between this and Jon's from last week (though I like Midnight Boy's song better).

To Final - Mans and Hasse (unfortunately)
AC - JTR and maybe Caroline? Or, in a just world, Midnight Boy

Top 5 - Dinah (!), JTR, Caroline, Mans, Hasse
6th - Annika
7th - Midnight Boy (told ya it'd do poorly)

To Final - JTR (ugh!), Mans
AC - Dinah (!), Hasse
Out - Caroline


Friday, February 27, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat Four - Preliminary Judgment

This is it, the final Heat that will decide if this year's competition can be salvaged or if it will go down as an unfortunate bump in the road. Let's see what this week's clips reveal!

(Listen to clips here)

1. Midnight Boy - Don't Say No
Based on the names involved, this was easily my most anticipated song of the entire competition. Based on the clip, I'm happy to say that it's my first "5" score of the year. I love everything about it. I hope it does well, but honestly it sounds too good for this year's MF so it probably won't.  5/5

2. Caroline Wennergren - Black Swan
I shouldn't like this, but it has some undeniable bombast that's really intriguing me. It sounds like Caroline Af Ugglas tackling some bluesy Jim Steinman track. Could be amazing. 4/5

3. JTR - Building It Up
I found them quite cheesy and annoying on X-Factor AU. This also sounds quite cheesy, but that fits much better in the context of MF. It also sounds very paint-by-numbers, so right now it's a pretty average score.  3/5

4. Hasse Andersson - Guld och gröna skogar (Gold and Green Forests)
I love dansband, but this is not my favorite slice of the genre. It's totally old man rock, and there's always one like it in MF each year. In such a boring year, this is actually kind of comforting. Doesn't make it good, though. 2.5/5

5. Dinah Nah - Make Me (La La La)
Why are all the decent songs in this heat? Now, this is nothing special at all, but it's a dance pop sound that has been sorely missing from this year's competition. The chorus sound catchy. I'm very curious about the verses. 3.5/5

6. Annika Herlitz - Ett andetag (One Breath)
Firmly in the "plodding ballad" territory that Ryan Tedder has unfortunately popularized. It doesn't sound as dirgey as some of them... at least there seems to be a spark of life in the performance. Still, it's nothing new or exciting.  2.5/5

7. Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes
I already like it miles better than Eric's song from week one. This is supposed to the big track of the week. It's not my favorite, but I'm SO happy that it seems to have the grand, epic sound that characterizes the best MF entries. I need to hear more to see just how much I like it. 4/5

Wow! Why the hell didn't they spread these songs out across the four weeks? This is easily, by a laughably wide margin, the strongest week this year... and that's just from hearing the clips! Finally, I'm looking forward to a MF Saturday again.