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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014: The Final

This is a weird one. Last year everything seemed already etched in stone at this point of the competition, but we ended up with a big surprise winner. This year, things seem to be a little more flexible, yet I don't think the winner will be much of a surprise at all. I feel like it's going to be Ace vs. Sanna. But as we learned in 2013, anything can happen when it comes to the juries.

* Always nice to see Charlotte Perrelli, even if she's singing Disney. Maybe she should host next year?

* It sounded like the announcer announced Yohio as "Loreen." Maybe it's just me.

* Seeming like Oscar, Linus and Ace are getting the most audience love, but then again I'm not sure the audience knew they were supposed to be clapping when Yohio and Anton first showed up.

ANTON: I can't help but think that, with a stronger song that catered more to his vocal range, he could have walked this final. It's a shame, as I think he'll struggle to finish in the top three this year. His vocals are better than two weeks ago, though. Still, it's no Beggin', and that's what's going to hurt him the most. You just can't come back with a weaker song.

ELLEN: She's the real red herring of this year's final. I like the song. It's pleasant. It just doesn't jibe. She may win some votes with it, though, just for the fact that she's got no direct competition. But SVT's given her the death slot. Never a good sign.

ALCAZAR: Talk about a change of tempo! Out of the ten acts, these guys would be my choice to win today's final, even though it's not their best song. I would just love something so campy and Abba-esque to represent Sweden. I think they'll probably end up 3rd or 4th in the results, unfortunately. Weirdly, I think the live version of this is better than the studio version.

OSCAR: Another song I like a lot. I wish his live vocals were better, but you simply can't deny the strength of that chorus. Now watch him finish middle of the pack and come back next year with a weaker song. Seems to be the pattern.

LINUS: I wouldn't be surprised if this guy finished higher than most are predicting. The juries probably won't like him, but I bet his televote is pretty strong. The song's grown on me as well. I love how this is the third Kempe song in a row. That guy owns MF.

HELENA: I can't muster the excitement for this song like everyone else seems to. I don't dislike it. It just doesn't do anything for me. In the battle of the divas, I guess I prefer Sanna. She does give it her all, though.

YOHIO: Last year, when he was the presumed frontrunner, I thought his song was incredibly weak. This year he's got one of my favorite entries of the competition, yet nobody seems to be talking about him. I would love to see this surprise. I doubt it will. Still, the televote should help him quite a bit. I do hate that he does these great pop/rock numbers on MF and then his albums are filled with absolute, grungy/screamy crap. Kinda feels like he's just using this competition.

SANNA: I've come around with this song over the last few weeks. I've always loved her, but I liked Empty Room better. However, this would be a worthy winner for Sweden. The moment the second chorus kicks in, it absolutely takes off. If it truly is between Sanna and Ace, I vote for Sanna.

PANETOZ: I feel like they're destined for a finish somewhere towards the bottom. Any other year and they might stand out more. The quality's too high. It's a fun festive song, nothing more.

ACE: It's definitely the "cool" song of the final, but I don't think it's the best. I like her, though, and I'm happy to see that this has been a great launching pad for her. Personally, I think she'd do better not to win and focus her attention on a great album. Eurovision can really be a double-edged sword for an artist like her. But she's in with a major chance, so we'll see how things go.

* Getting the International Jury scoreboard ready below. Excited! These are the votes that can really change things up.

* You simply CAN'T beat an Abba tribute. Makes up for all the crappy intervals this year.

* Wow, I am loving all the former winners coming out to salute the best. Wish Loreen would have been there, though...

* Edit: That baker's fingernails are disgusting!

Denmark - 12 points: Ace
Estonia - 12 points: Linus
France - 12 points: Alcazar!!
Germany - 12 points: Linus (woah!)
Israel - 12 points: Ace
Italy - 12 points: Ace
Malta - 12 points: Helena
Netherlands - 12 points: Ace
Russia - 12 points: Ace (and of course they gave nothing to Alcazar...)
Spain - 12 points: Sanna (finally!)
UK - 12 points: Alcazar (haha yes!)

So we've got:
1. Ace
2. Sanna
3. Alcazar
and poor Anton in last place....
Still hoping for a Sanna or Alcazar win, but I feel like Ace has it pretty much wrapped up.

* Weird that they're letting the public vote after the jury selections were revealed. I don't think they did this last year, and it could definitely change things now that we know who the frontrunners are.


The winner is...
1. Sanna!!  (by. two. freaking. points.)
2. Ace
3. Alcazar
4. Helena
5. Linus
6. Yohio
7. Ellen
8. Oscar
9. Panetoz
10. Anton (!)


A deserving winner, I'd say. This has gotta feel like sweet justice after Charlotte squeaked by over Sanna in the 2008 final. What an incredibly close victory, though. I can't remember one being this tight. The biggest surprise for me is Anton's last place finish with both the juries and the voters. Let that be a lesson to next year's artists: don't come back with a crap song. Still hoping for that Anton album that surely must be in the works.


Friday, March 07, 2014

Melodifestivalen Favorites: Lena Philipsson - Det gör ont

I have a lot of work to do when it comes to catching up with Lena Philipsson's back catalog. She's been around since the late 80's and most of her stuff from back then is English-language, high energy dance/club music. In the past decade or so, she's returned to singing in Swedish. This song, the winner of Melodifestivalen 2004, happens to have been released in both languages. When I think of epic, classic all-out schlager that's actually won the competition in its modern incarnation, this is really the sterling example. I mean, it's just pure, unadulterated joy. It's the kind of song that, to me, exists solely because of things like MF and Eurovision, and it's the reason why I'm so grateful for this platform. Too much of music is trying to be "cool" or "serious" or "deep." But you know what? I take this very seriously, I find it effortlessly cool and in my opinion, there is something very deep about the blitz a sugar rush like this gifts its listener.

Det gör ont by Lena Philipsson on Grooveshark

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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Melodifestivalen Favorites: Linda Bengtzing - E det fel på mej?

In the annals of Melodifestivalen history, there is certainly more than a few schlager queens. They're each fantastic in their own way and bring something different to the competition, but the one we can always count on to bring the most energy is the human dynamo herself, Linda Bengtzing. I'm convinced there is no other singer in Sweden who can sell a song as completely as Linda. It helps that she routinely works with catchy-as-sin pop songs that worm their way into your brain no matter what language you speak. Unfortunately, her entry this year didn't make it to the final, but E det fel på mej was one of the many that did (this one, back in 2011). As is characteristic of her, it's a bundle of raw energy funneled into one intense jolt of pop music.

E Det Fel På Mig by Linda Bengtzing on Grooveshark

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Melodifestivalen Favorites: Roger Pontare - Silverland

This is the kind of song that could only come out of something like Melodifestivalen. Roger Pontare has actually represented Sweden twice at Eurovision, but this song, which jut missed out on the final in 2006, is my absolute favorite of his. His music is an interesting mix of folk, new age, tribal, pop and big, epic, ridiculous schlager. Silverland starts out like the theme song to Survivor before moving into a huge We Will Rock You-type stomp. Despite my comparisons, it actually sounds quite unlike anything else you're likely to hear. It was probably just too weird for the final, but it holds a very special place in my collection. I love over the top stuff like this that isn't afraid to be different.

Silverland by Roger Pontare on Grooveshark

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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Melodifestivalen Favorites: Magnus Carlsson - Live Forever

"All the stars in heaven will shine for me"

Leading up to the 2014 final this Saturday, I thought I'd flash back to some of my favorite Melodifestivalen songs this week, starting with one from the 2007 contest. I was first lured to MF in 2007 due to my love of the Ark, who went on to win the whole thing that year. I still remember the horribly grainy video online, buffering every few seconds. In that sense, it was a bit of a slog to get through the broadcast, but I hardly noticed. I was so enraptured with the idea of Melodifestivalen. As an American, I had nothing to compare it to. In fact, I'd only discovered Eurovision one year before, when I'd been living in the UK. I remember that 2007 final being quite a strong one, but I was definitely surprised and annoyed that this little gem didn't make it through (it placed fifth in its heat). Live Forever is some euphoric synth pop. It's like A-Ha's Take On Me on steroids and would have made one hell of a winner. I still listen to it quite a bit.

Live Forever by Magnus Carlsson on Grooveshark


Monday, March 03, 2014

Melodifestivalen Week - Looking at the Final

I thought I'd focus on Melodifestivalen all this week, leading up to the final on Saturday. Before I get into some of my favorite MF songs (past and present) over the next few days, let's look at what this weekend's final will look like, in the order the artists will perform:

1. Anton Ewald - Natural
2. Ellen Benediktson - Songbird
3. Alcazar - Blame It On The Disco
4. Oscar Zia - Yes We Can
5. Linus Svenning - Bröder
6. Helena Paparizou - Survivor
7. Yohio - To The End
8. Sanna Nielsen - Undo
9. Panetoz - Efter solsken
10. Ace Wilder - Busy Doin' Nothin

It's an interesting (and strong) line-up, and marks the first time in awhile where I genuinely like every single song. I can't say there's an entry I can get passionate about this year (like Ulrik's in 2013 or Loreen's in 2012), but I wouldn't be disappointed with any of these acts winning.

I feel like the public votes will probably end up going to mostly Sanna and Ace, with a few others having an outside chance as well. It's the jury vote that will really decide things. As of today, I'm feeling like Sanna still has this sewn up. I wasn't too happy about that a week or two ago, as I thought she had WAY stronger entries in the past, but then I heard the recorded studio version of Undo and it all clicked for me. I wouldn't mind seeing her win. Not my favorite, but at least it would be a worthy winner. And I love her.

That said, even though my two favorite songs of the year aren't in the final, here's what I would vote for if it was up to me:

1st - Alcazar - Blame It On The Disco
2nd - Yohio - To The End
3rd - Oscar Zia - Yes We Can
4th - Anton Ewald - Natural
5th - Sanna Nielsen - Undo
6th - Linus Svenning - Bröder
7th - Ace Wilder - Busy Doin' Nothin
8th - Panetoz - Efter solsken
9th - Helena Paparizou - Survivor (sorry! I know a lot of folks are fans!)
10th - Ellen Benediktson - Songbird