Your Ad Here

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Melodifestivalen 2012: Heat One

The live blog is open! Will we get a nice stream and good results this week? We'll see...

**Aw, clips of Swingfly and Sanna from last year! Probably my two favs, all said and done.

**And a reminder that Sweden nearly won Eurovision last year. If only.

**The balloons go up and we've got our new hosts. I know Sarah in the middle, but who are the other two? Is this the first time where the hosts have all been women?

**Judging by applause at the beginning, Dead By April and Loreen have this all sewn up, with the Moniker possibly challenging.

Alright, here we go. Up first:

SEAN BANAN: This is not starting out promisingly at all. I think he's trying to be funny. Are the bananas his shtick? Weird that they don't have prerecorded intros this year.
Now that the performance has started, I have to say that this is just bizarre. And not in a particularly good way. Who the hell would vote for this? That hook should have gone to a different artist, and with (I'm assuming) different lyrics. Quite possibly the worst opener ever.

ABALONE DOTS: These intros are so bad. SO awkward as they're dancing to the stage. This song is bad in the opposite way that the last one was. It's incredibly dull and lacks a strong hook. Their voices sound nice, but in the context of this show, it just doesn't work. I think my suspicions were right yesterday when listening to the clips online. This is one weak heat so far. Polite applause at the end.

THE MONIKER: He wears the weirdest costumes, doesn't he? I love the drums in this and the verses. I'm not sure about the hook quite yet, but it's easily the best song so far. The lyrics are kind of dumb, and I'm not sure about the video effects used to make him look like he's on TV. Because, well... he is on TV. Right now, I'm calling Andra Chansen for this one.

AFRO-DITE: They've got the first non-awkward entrance because they're totally playing it up. Their dancing could definitely use some polish (totally out of sync at parts), but I guess that's part of the nostalgic charm. The song's not bad, but it's not outstanding either. The whole thing feels oddly amateurish and messy, which is surprising given their pedigree. Still, it's a worthy Andra chansen winner at the very least.

DEAD BY APRIL: They've got to be the clear favorites this week, right? And honestly, I can't believe it. The song's not particularly good, though I do like the instrumental bits. That one guy has got to stop vomit-screaming through it, though. If this wins the whole thing, I will be so irritated.

MARIE SERNEHOLT: Poor Marie. Full of confidence, and she's paid her dues (even hosting), but I can't help think that she's not getting through today. And what was with that odd shot of her closing her eyes, looking like she was about to cry in her intro video? It's quite the catsuit she's got on tonight. But this song just doesn't feel strong enough. It's not even as good as her last entry, which didn't get through either. Is it just me, or does this heat feel weirdly lifeless so far? All the dancing seems like they're sleepwalking through it.

THORSTEN FLINCK: I can't even describe how awkward these intros are this year. I know I'm writing it again and again, but this time when the cameraman got the timing wrong, it made it even worse! On paper, this should be the act that appeals to me least. As it stands, I can't really form any opinion about it. It's just kind of... there. I feel like I'm not even hearing the song as it's playing. That it's just background noise outside or something.

LOREEN: Here comes Loreen to save the show (I hope). She looks like some kind of dark swamp witch (in the best way possible) and, unlike so many others, she's actually working the whole intro bit. And, she has the best track and performance of the Heat by the clearest margin I can imagine. Seriously, this is what's been missing today. I hope she gets more votes than Dead By April. It's going to be a fight between the two, I think.

To Final: Dead By April, Loreen
Andra Chansen: The Moniker, Afro-Dite
Possible Upset:Sean Banan, if people are wanting something stupid

EDIT: I'm not sure what's going on with this host's song. Is there going to be a real interval act this week? I'd like one. Especially if it ends this bit.

EDIT: Top 5: Thorsten, Afro-Dite, Sean, Loreen and Dead By April. Wow! The Moniker knocked out! As well as Marie and Abalone Dots, who got almost no cheers. Marie looks SO pissed.

EDIT: Double wow. Moniker got the least votes! Marie just barely missed out on the top 5 (as usual).

EDIT: If Sean goes through... I DEPLORE him, even if his song wasn't the worst of the bunch. I just can't even look at his face without wanting to slap it.

EDIT: Is that supposed to be Margaret Thatcher in this skit? probably not, but it reminds me of the Iron Lady. haha!

EDIT: I love these clips of "rejects" from past years. Most are better than any of this week's songs!!

EDIT: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives? What an odd choice for interval act. I haven't listened to these guys in at least six years!

EDIT: Wait? Is this song about Jesus?!?

EDIT: Oh, wait again?? Is this a cover of the Dilba song?? No way. It doesn't even sound like it.

EDIT: Highest number of votes and direct to the Final is... Loreen!!! COMPLETELY the right decision. Could we be looking at the winner of the whole 2012 competition? I wouldn't be totally surprised.

EDIT: Thorsten to Andra Chansen? Wow. Sean to Andra Chansen too. God, I'm going to have to see him again. But at least he's gone for now. Which means, Afro-Dite are out and Dead By April take the second final spot, as predicted. They could very well end up being the worst act in this year's final. At least Loreen beat them in the votes, meaning they probably don't have a chance of winning in March.

EDIT: I don't like this DBA song any better the second time. All in all, this was the worst single Heat since I started watching in 2007. The only way to go is up, right? Looking forward to some of next week's acts.


Friday, February 03, 2012

Melodifestivalen 2012: Heat One - Preliminary Judging

It's that time of year again, folks. Melodifestivalen is back and I'm raring to go. As always, I'm going to give my preliminary thoughts on Fridays, based only on the one minute previews that SVT has given us. but remember, my thoughts can (and sometimes do) change once I've heard the entire thing and seen the performance.

(Listen to clips here)

Sean Banan - Sean den förste Banan (trans: "Sean the First Banan")
What an odd choice to kick everything off. The verses sound oddly amatuer, but that chorus is certainly catchy. Of course, it's catchy in more of a campy Dschinghis Khan way than a credible pop song way. Of course, given the confines of Eurovision. This could be a good thing. Right now, it could go either way. 3/5

Abalone Dots - På väg (trans: "On my way")
So boring. This sounds incredibly old-fashioned and "local folk festival." I'm a little afraid that the voters will take to it, but from this clip I can't really distinguish any sort of hook. Maybe in full it'll be better. 1/5

The Moniker - I Want To Be Chris Isaak (This Is Just the Beginning)
It's certainly not as jaunty as his entry last year, but I see this getting through on name recognition alone. I don't hate it, but there's nothing really drawing me in from the sound of this clip, either. 3/5

Afro-Dite - The Boy Can Dance
This feels like the real start of the competition. I'm not sure it's really the best example of this genre, but at least there's some energy! I like the production a lot. The melody? We'll see. 3.5/5

Dead By April - Mystery
Quite a left turn for the competition. It seems as if these guys' popularity is going to allow them to sail through, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't mind the singing parts, but that monstrous shouty part? LAME. I just find this whole genre to be pointless, immature and--quite honesty--noise pollution. 2/5

Marie Serneholt - Salt & Pepper
I didn't expect such a swinging sound from this. It kind of sounds like Le Kid's entry from last year. As with Marie's last entry, I'm not sure the song is strong enough to push her through, but it's certainly a nice departure from the last contestant! 3/5

Thorsten Flinck - Jag reser mig igen (trans: "I rise again")
A classic, "mature" sounding Swedish rock ballad. There's always one of these types in the competition. Hopefully it will only be one. Actually, though, this isn't so bad. It's melodically dull, yes, but it's not terrible. 2.5/5

Loreen - Euphoria
Thank god! This feels like the only song worthy of going to the final. Loreen broke through last year, and this should see her sail through to the final. It's hard to get the full effect from the sample, I'd imagine, but I definitely get the hint of an epic club tune. 4/5

Honestly, from the sound of these samples, this is going to be the weakest heat of Melodifestivalen that I can remember. Nothing's really hitting me over the head with its brilliance, which kind of sucks. maybe the full songs will be better. As for now, my expectations are set at "low." Who I think will go through? Dead By April and Loreen, with The Moniker and Afro-Dite fighting for the second chance round.

*I'll be live blogging tomorrow throughout the show, so be sure to check back for my thoughts (and to see if my predictions come true)


Thursday, February 02, 2012

The 10 Best Singles By... Madonna

Madonna will be performing at the Superbowl this Sunday (as if any of you didn't already know that), so I thought it was the perfect time to submit her discography to the Top Ten treatment. She's an interesting one. While I can appreciate her work and am definitely a fan, I've never felt a connection with her like I have with some other pop divas (ie: Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue). Still, at seventy-five singles and counting, it goes without saying that I could easily have expanded this list well past ten.

10. Music (2000) - The toughest spot on the countdown, because this was battling with several other singles, some much more iconic. But ultimately I chose this because I think it's the best representation of her early 2000's output. And, as silly as it all is, it's actually aged quite well.

9. Vogue (1990) - One of her most iconic songs, and ultimately I think it suffers from that a bit. Still, taken on its own merits, there's simply no denying the melody and sound. To me, this is the last release of her greatest, late 80's era.

8. Borderline (1984) - A highlight of her early output, it's all about the sugary melody here. Free from gimmicks or production flourishes, it's just a great pop song.

7. Live To Tell (1986) - The first track on the countdown from her greatest pop album, this was the most mature ballad listeners had heard from her at the time. Even today, it's still incredibly beautiful and affecting.

6. Material Girl (1985) - Her first perfect music video and one of the most instantly catchy hooks of her career. When thinking of early Madonna, this is what comes to mind for me.

5. Ray of Light (1998) - After a muddled output in the 90's (in my opinion), this was the track that brought her career roaring back. Combining elements of her early work (the massive hooks and bright production) with the artistic experimentalism that would define this period of her evolution, it was the perfect musical statement.

4. Hung Up (2005) - Madonna and Abba. It could have gone horribly wrong. But that sample, coupled with the song itself, easily became the highlight of her 00's output. If only she would have continued in this vein for the rest of the decade!

3. Papa Don't Preach (1986) - Her first major foray into exploring social issues in her singles. But -- and this is key -- that seriousness didn't stop the song from being incredibly melodic, 100% pop and timeless in production. One of her absolute best.

2. Open Your Heart (1986) - '86 to '90 were her best years, by a mile, and this was part of the reason. Quite simply, it's a perfect pop song. It would sound great anywhere, anytime.

1. Like A Prayer (1989) - Like the past two songs, it's perfect pop. What elevates this slightly is its wild ambition, both in the music video and the song itself. Choirs, guitars, religious overtones and a new found vocal maturity all add up to her most riveting single.

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

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Darkness - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us

"You were pulling my hair"

Earlier today, the Darkness revealed their comeback single. I'm thrilled that they're back, though it doesn't really feel like they left since Justin Hawkins' side project Hot Leg sounded so similar. Still, I've always had a soft spot for the band and can't wait to see them performing with Foxy Shazam later this month in Seattle. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us (wouldn't it be awesome if it was a cover of the Starship song?) has the classic Darkness sound to it. It's short, at well under three minutes, and honestly took me awhile to get into. It feels incredibly slight for a comeback single, but as the melody begins to click, it becomes exactly what I'd hope a 2012 Darkness would sound like. Hopefully, the upcoming album will expand on this sound and offer something a bit meatier. I have faith in them, for sure. Right now I'm just going to enjoy this teaser.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy their previous albums here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Make Out - True Love Is Just Too Hard To Find

"You know you want it, and you want it bad"

Make Out is a Danish band comprised of Jesper Mortensen (of Junior Senior fame) and vocalist Leah Hennessey. Their music is definitely pop, but with a frantic, garage energy to it that makes it quite unique. All of their songs are incredibly short. it's like they took a full pop song, condensed it, and crammed it into just over two minutes. This track, in particular, is a wonderful jolt of raucous energy. Don't let the beginning fool you. It kicks off with Video Killed The Radio Star style synth production before bursting into a cathartic, punky hook that doesn't let up. And best of all--like all their songs--it stays around just as long as it needs to for maximum effect. To borrow a cliche, some of the best things come in little packages.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the EP here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Chairlift - I Belong In Your Arms

"It doesn't matter what we do"

I posted about indie band Chairlift years ago, before their song ended up on an itunes commercial and before hipsters embraced them. Now they're out with a new album, and it's decidedly more 80's inspired. If you like your pop lush and quirky, you should really give it a try. The video to their single, Amanaemonesia, is hilariously mesmerizing. But it's I Belong In Your Arms that was my instant standout. It's got wonderfully surging production and a melody that blossoms into something quite special for the chorus. It really is the perfect sweet spot between pure pop and something more artistically gratifying. And, yes... if the powers that be see fit, it would make a wonderful soundtrack to another itunes advert.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.