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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Melodifestivalen 2010: Heat One

My thoughts on the songs/performances/etc:

Firstly, MAJOR kudos to whoever figured out the streaming video this year. It's clearer and way less jumpy than in the past. I hope this quality continues throughout the month.

What an epic, campy opening! Perfectly fitting for Melodifestivalen. Why do I get the feeling that it's going to be better than anything that follows? Just seeing those three on stage together was crazy.

I like the stylish "green room" this year, even though it's not at all green. These hosts... erm... not sure. Måns looks totally out of place next to the other two.

Ola: Despite looking very strange in his picture this year (has his face changed, or am I just crazy?), he seemed like an old pro onstage. He sounded great and I now actually love this song. It's all about the piano.

Jenny Silver: Her right arm seemed to be enjoying a different song than the rest of her body. It looked like she was signaling a plane to land. I really do like the song (a lot, actually), but it's out of place on this stage. And the performance was really kind of strange.

Linda Pritchard: Standard Eurovision-type stuff, this continues to be better than I was expecting. She's totally capable vocally, and the song has a lot of energy. Still, these types (by female singers, at least) don't tend to do very well.

Pain Of Salvation: I loved everything about this. Very nice. Weird, though, that the guitarists basically did nothing? The vocals were perfect. Lots of emotion. Sometimes, as evidenced by Caroline af Ugglas last year, less is more. I can see this doing very well.

Anders Ekborg: This guy looks very greasy. The staging was a bit weird. He didn't seem to be playing to the audience at all. But, the song was a lot better than I thought it would be based on the small clip. It may be a bit too schmaltzy, even for Melodifestivalen. Still, he seemed to have a lot of audience support, so who knows.

Jessica Andersson: If Molly Sanden's crap song could get through last year, it seems like this is an inevitable qualifier. Voters seem to love these big ballads. I found it pretty forgettable and a little annoying. But she's a known quantity. People will vote.

Frispråkarn: This could bump another artist from the top four, but I'm not quite sure if the type of people who would enjoy this song are also voters. It's not really very catchy for what it is. Needs a better hook. He's a pretty good rapper, though. I guess.

Salem Al Fakir: Not sure if being tied to the piano was such a good decision performance-wise, but I love this song. It's different than most Melodifestivalen stuff, but I think he'll get through on name-recognition. I really like the chorus. I just wish there was better staging.

My hopes to make it through: Ola, Jenny Silver (though the performance was dire), Pain Of Salvation, Salem Al Fakir
Who will make it through: Ola, Pain Of Salvation, Jessica Andersson, Salem Al Fakir

UPDATE: Top Five - Linda Pritchard was a (somewhat) pleasant surprise, though I doubt she'll make it further. Could the top four be exactly as I predicted?? I think they might :)

UPDATE: Salem direct to the final! It's all going well so far! This presenter is far too excitable, though...

UPDATE: This is weird the way they're doing it this year. The clear favorite makes it through first, then the rest have to be voted on? Every year the rules for this portion of the contest change. Jeez, make up your minds!

UPDATE: Oh god some bad acting to get us through the voting... and an even worse song and dance number.

UPDATE: Second chance round - Pain Of Salvation and Jessica Andersson, which means Ola is straight to the final!!! Did I predict this right, or what?? Pretty good results, I'd say. I do really want that Pain of Salvation song in the final, though.

FINAL UPDATE: Ha! I love Salem standing uncomfortably next to Ola at the end of his song. They're quite different, aren't they? Both great in their own ways. It's like the jock and the geek.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Melodifestivalen: Heat One - Preliminary Judging

It's that time of year again, folks. Sweden's annual song contest begins tomorrow with the first eight entries. As usual, the official site is streaming minute long clips of each contender. And, as usual, I'm here to offer my thoughts, however misguided they may become once I've heard the full versions!

(Listen to clips here)

Ola Svensson - Unstoppable
I love the piano line that runs throughout this. The song has the harder sound we were promised, especially in the chorus. It's not as strong as his best tracks (or his past entry), but it'll do. 3.5/5

Jenny Silver - A Place To Stay
While I don't think this will go anywhere in the context of the contest, I really like the sound of it. It's got that subtle electro beat that gives it a really cool feeling. The melody might be a bit lacking, though. 3.5/5

Linda Pritchard - You're Making Me Hot-Hot-Hot
Not nearly as dreadful as I expected based on the title, this is actually a bit of a pleasant surprise. Totally cheesy, but I like the beat and melody. It's not as latin-influenced as I thought it would be. 3/5

Pain Of Salvation - Road Salt
This sounds like something that will do very well, though it's hard to get much of a read on it based on the short clip. I really like the guy's voice and it sounds like it's going to build into something pretty grand. We'll see. 4/5

Anders Ekborg - The Savior
Here's what I expect from Melodifestivalen! It's so theatrical and ridiculous, and I think it would do a lot better sung by a different artist, but it gets points for the bombast. 3.5/5

Jessica Andersson - I Did It For Love
I'm not a fan of this type of ballad. It brings the energy down, and not in a good way. I like the dramatic drum beat, and the song sounds like it's going to be uber-dramatic, but it's not really my thing. 2.5/5

Frispråkarn - Single
This sounds like so much Swedish rap out there right now. It's popular on the charts, but will it work in Melodifestivalen? Maybe, but it's not working so much for me. I've heard so many better tracks in this style. 2/5

Salem Al Fakir - Keep On Walking
Exactly how you'd expect a Salem song to sound. The hook sounds very strong, though I wish the whole thing had some more energy. Still, one of my favorites. 4/5

It sounds like a really strong heat. There's nothing I hate, which is good. As to who I think will go through? Ola and Salem, on name recognition, as well as Pain Of Salvation and either Jessica Andersson (depending on the full song) or Frispråkarn.

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

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Tapeaters - Kids

"Kids are better than us"

The Tapeaters. Does anyone even know what a tape is anymore? I just realized that I no longer have any device capable of playing a cassette or video tape and haven't for over a year. Sad. And also off the point entirely. Back to the artist, The Tapeaters are from Russia, a country with a thriving electro scene right now. A lot of that electro is instrumental, but these guys go in a poppier vein. Kids is their strongest track, and the one with the best hook. Plus, with the production and accent, I always think the guy's saying "gays" instead of "kids" in the chorus, which makes me laugh. You end up with great lines like "gays are smarter than us, gays are faster than us" etc etc. "Kids" is fine, too, I guess. A good song is a good song!

The Tapeaters - Kids by alienhits

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


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Ark Catalog

In case you're not a twitter follower, I want to alert you to some exciting news. The Ark is now streaming their entire catalog on their studio blog in high quality, including all single releases (that means b-sides, remixes, etc). This is the perfect chance to casual fans (as if that can exist) to dive into their collection.
Be sure to check out the b-sides, definitely. They've got some great ones (my favorites probably being Opera, Topsy Kaiser, Cygnet to Cygnet and Power to Change, but they're all fantastic - favorites change month to month!).

So have a listen and tell me what you think. I never have too many chances to write about the Ark!


Pop Blitz 2/3/10

Marina & The Diamonds - Hollywood
I'm still not entirely in love with Marina's voice, though that's more of a personal thing. However, the song's quite nice. Subtle in a way... it doesn't really hit you over the head the first time. It's a real grower. Hopefully that means longevity. B+

Lady Antebellum - Need You Now
I'm not a country fan but I can see why this is taking America by storm right now. Somehow it sounds more like a big 80's ballad than anything. There's nothing like it on the radio right now. Very pretty. A-

Jedward - Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby) (ft. Vanilla Ice)
I'd probably hate this if I hadn't followed John & Edward on X-Factor. As it stands, it's a super fun slice of novelty pop. And it does the impossible: makes Vanilla Ice tolerable! B+

Pink - Glitter In The Air
Her performance at the Grammys catapulted this non-single to hit status and unearthed a buried gem. It's one of her most delicate ballads. Reminds me of the late 90's. A-

Black Eyed Peas - Imma Be
This is absolute crap, and represents the worst side of BEP. It's not a song. It's noise. The military could use it to drive Bin Laden out of hiding. F

Iyaz - Solo
Horrible. Basically, he took a classic song, changed the lyrics and sang it horribly. I can't believe that something like this could even be deemed radio-worthy. D-

Jason Derulo - In My Head
Maybe he won't be a one hit wonder, after all. This sounds a hell of a lot like Chris Brown, and possesses exactly 0% originality, but it's pretty catchy. Could've been a LOT worse. B

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

This Episode - The Movies

"I want the motion in the picture to be true"

It's always a treat when a band shoots me an email and I discover that their music actually fits the content of this blog. This Episode is exactly that type of band, an American boy/girl duo who are inspired by the classier melodies of the 80's. They cite U2's With Or Without You as a big inspiration, and I can see elements of that track in their work. There are two songs of theirs that I loved equally (the other being the stately Move On), but with the Oscar nominations this morning, I thought a song called The Movies would be appropriate today. It's an upbeat, fun track with a little bit of Deborah Harry in it (and something else that I can't quite put my finger on). The chorus is especially addictive. And best of all, I actually wrote about these guys about two and a half years ago! I'm glad to see that they're still at it (and getting better, it seems).

This Episode - The Movies by alienhits

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


Monday, February 01, 2010

Staygold - Backseat

"Get a job done in the parking lot"

I'm not the first to write about this track, but it's worthy of another mention because it's soon going to be ubiquitous (at least if you live in Sweden - or imaginarily live in Sweden, like me). Staygold are an electro production duo utilizing guest vocalists and performers for their songs. This single features the ever-reliable Salem Al Fakir (under a Prince-like alias Damien Adore) on lead vocals, as well as Spank Rock and Lady Tigra. Come to think of it, the whole thing sounds like a great, long-lost Prince track. From the cheeky lyrics to the funky falsetto, it's more of a pastiche than an original track. But it's fantastic, and ridiculously catchy. The chorus alone has been in my head for the past week, refusing to budge. Beneath all the attitude it's a flawless pop song, simple as that. They need to get Salem on every track for the album.

Staygold - Backseat by alienhits

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

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