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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Melodifestivalen 2010: Heat Two

My thoughts on the songs/performances/etc:

First question: where's Dolph? Was that just a one week thing? They showed a clip of his "performance" last week on the American clip show The Soup yesterday. Cracked me up.

Eric Saade: I still can't get over the lyrics to this. The vocals were kind of weak, as was the general energy until the dance break (why backwards?) and the neat water thing. It's definitely catchier than anything else this week, though.

Andra Generationen & Dogge: It wasn't as bad as their last entry two years ago, and that made it through, so I wouldn't be that surprised to see this crap get votes. Musically, it's not my thing at all.

Anna Maria Espinosa: This improved a lot for me hearing the full version. I much prefer it to the ballad last week, but going against Andreas in the ballad category may be a problem, as he's more popular. Still, she performed very well.

Highlights & MiSt: Despite looking really creepy at the beginning, these guys have the best song so far by a mile. The woman (MiSt?) didn't really have much to do, though, did she? I hope the voters appreciate a straight-up gimmick-free pop song like this.

Pauline: I actually really liked this, despite it being a complete Amy Winehouse rip-off. She sounded great live and totally pulled off the performance. I'm a little doubtful if it'll make it through, though. And the black & white thing was unnecessary.

Andreas Johnson: Nice performance. The song's adequate, but he does a good job with it. This will get the votes because it's Andreas Johnson. In fact, it may be the highest vote-getter of the week. It does seem a little too serious for Melodifestivalen, though.

Kalle Moraeus & Orsa Spelmän: This is so left-field that it's hard to know what to say. The song's pleasant, and definitely goes for the Alexander Rybak vote. It will get through, no doubt, despite the performers having absolutely no x-factor. The audience ate it up. Maybe they'll get more votes than Andreas?

Hanna Lindblad: This surprised me by being a lot better than I expected. Lots of energy and she sounded great. The choreography was great, too. Kind of Chicago-esque. She could benefit by going last, as well, and may just take Eric Saade's place.

My hopes to make it through: Eric Saade, Highlights & MiSt, Pauline, Hanna Lindblad
Who will make it through: Highlights & MiSt, Andreas Johnson, Kalle Moraeus & Orsa Spelmän, Hanna Lindblad

UPDATE: Ah, there's Dolph! And in a wig and freckles, too! Pretty funny.

UPDATE: Sad for Highlights! Top 5 - Eric, Andreas, Pauline, Kalle, Hanna

UPDATE: Manboy got the highest votes?!?!?!?! I am actually way stunned about this. Not entirely disappointed, but VERY stunned. I guess Kempe + rain = straight to final.

UPDATE: The internet feed is really starting to cut out now. And it's been so good for the rest of the show :( In fact, now it's not playing at all...

UPDATE: Still not working. Svt needs to get this sorted out. I thought they had this year, but no video is even worse than choppy video.

UPDATE: Now listening on radio (sigh). Pauline makes it to the second chance and poor Hanna is 5th.

FINAL UPDATE: Andreas goes straight to the final and Kalle is in the second chance. Kind of surprising, really. I thought Kalle had it in the bag. Can't say I'm too disappointed, though. It was a weak heat no matter what. Next week will be better (and hopefully have video throughout the entire show!)


Friday, February 12, 2010

Melodifestivalen: Heat Two - Preliminary Judging

Time for round two, and my thoughts on the second heat's song clips. As usual, things can change once I've heard the full versions.

(Listen to clips here)

Eric Saade - Manboy
What. The. Hell. Seriously, this is weird, from the "spooky" background to the ridiculously hilarious chorus. As far as europop goes, I like the melody. It's almost too catchy. But it's SO weird! 3/5

Andra Generationen & Dogge - Hippare Hoppare (Hip Hopper)
Utter crap. Why is this type of thing entered? And the band look way creepy, especially the guy with silly string for hair (!). 0.5/5

Anna Maria Espinosa - Innan alla ljusen brunnit ut (Before all the Lights Burned Out)
A dramatic sounding Swedish ballad, the clip is instantly forgettable. Anna's had a few good songs in the past, but this unfortunately doesn't sound like one. 1.5/5

Highlights & MiSt - Come And Get Me Now
I like the sound of the chorus of this, especially the use of strings. Actually, from the clip, it's probably my favorite sounding song from this heat. I have no idea who these guys are, though. They look a little... old? 3.5/5

Pauline - Sucker For Love
I'm not always a fan of this genre, but I like the hook on this. It'll be interesting to see how it's staged and performed live. The background music reminds me a lot of Razorlight's superior In The Morning mixed with the always-good Zutons. We'll see. 3/5

Andreas Johnson - We Can Work It Out
I've liked a lot of Johnson's past material, though this sounds a little tepid. It goes for "soaring," but may just end up being "boring." It's hard to tell from the clip, especially with this kind of song. Right now it's pretty average. 3/5

Kalle Moraeus & Orsa Spelmän - Underbat (Wonderful)
I can actually see this style doing very well in the contest, even though the band looks like a bunch of grandparents. It's not horrible, but it's definitely not the kind of thing I listen to, either. 2/5

Hanna Lindblad - Manipulated
This is a very strange one. Again, it's not the type of music I necessarily associate with Melodifestivalen. For a hard hitting club track, it's not wowing me in this clip. It could end up being really outstanding or just lame. Again, hard to tell. 3/5

This is one of the strangest (and most boring) heats I've seen in the past few years. There's nobody I love. Hopefully that changes tomorrow. I think Andreas, Pauline, Anna and Kalle will go through, though Hanna or Eric could change that with really interesting performances.

*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 11, 2010

Surferosa - Monster Bitch

"Monsters coming and they're gonna rip your heart"

Apparently, I'm not going to leave Norway this week! Yet another track from the country today...this time a b-side I never knew existed from one of my favorite bands. Exciting! Surferosa released this as part of the album Grusomme Låter, which is a soundtrack for the animated movie Kurt Blir Grusom (Kurt Turns Evil) about a forklift operator that "turns vicious" (!). The song itself has a horror-movie influence to it, with dark, dramatic strings added to the already frenetic Surferosa sound. As usual with these guys, attitude and energy trump deep, soul-searching lyrics, but who cares? It's fun stuff. This is one of those bands that can really do no wrong in my mind, though they're criminally under-appreciated outside of Scandinavia (and Norway, specifically). I haven't heard any news about upcoming releases, but they've been remarkably consistent since their debut album, so I'm hoping there's more to come.

Surferosa - Monster Bitch by alienhits

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


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zuma - Norwegian Girl

"There's nobody like my baby"

In keeping with yesterday's track from Norway's MGP, I've got a song from Zuma for you today. One half of Zuma is Alexander Stenerud, who entered the fantastic Give It To Me in the contest this year and the even better Find My Girl last year. I am a ridiculously huge fan of his voice. To me his style of singing has a real classic, wandering-balladeer sound to it. His songwriting has a similar old-school feel, even when the lyrics are totally contemporary. Zuma released a couple of great albums around the turn of the century and now they've compiled the best tracks, along with Stenerud's solo hits and two new songs, on the compilation album Pearls. One lost gem appearing on the cd is Norwegian Girl. It was released all the way back in 2000 and doesn't appear on any of their albums. Despite being a decade old, it's completely refreshing in 2010. Gone is the hyper-electronic sound of Stenerud's most recent hits, replaced by a gentle pop melody that grabs you from the first listen and doesn't let go. The vocals actually remind me a lot of Sparks (and if you don't know who Sparks is, look them up pronto). I'm dangerously obsessed with this song right now, and although Pearls could benefit from cutting two or three songs from the middle, Zuma's a band well worth checking out. I have a feeling they've gone a little underappreciated, at least in the online world. As far as synth-pop groups go, they're right up there with the best of them. Hopefully Stenerud's massive success these past few years will up their profile.

Zuma - Norwegian Girl by alienhits

(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.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bjørn Johan Muri - Yes Man

"I don't wanna be a superman"

Is this not just a perfect song? It defines the term "breezy summertime pop," despite being released in the dead of winter. Bjørn made it to the finals of Norway's MGP with this one (no small feat, as MGP was above average this year), but ended up losing to the insidiously boring Didrik Solli-Tangen and his dirge of a ballad. Doesn't matter, as long as we've got Yes Man to enjoy. It starts off pretty stripped back, even underwhelming, until the synth beat kicks in, taking the song to A-Ha Take On Me levels. There's something about the melody, gentle and soaring simultaneously, that hits the sweet spot dead-on. Bjørn himself comes at us from the Idol series (yes, those shows exist even in Norway) and from what I've digged up, Yes Man is a bit of a departure in genre for him. PLEASE, Bjørn, do an entire album like this.

Bjørn Johan Muri - Yes Man 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.


Monday, February 08, 2010

The Dirty Disco - Sista!

"Sista, you're making me feel like I've got something worth living for"

Sometimes a band is birthed into the world fully-formed with a sound and image all their own. Without any corporate fiddling, The Dirty Disco have managed to construct something that's as polished and professional as it is artsy and avant garde. With this type of band, it's important to have a dynamic frontman, and they certainly have one in lead singer Adam. He's (and I mean this in the best possible way) an absolutely bat-shit crazy performer. Add to that a sound that's half Gaga, half The Ark, and I was converted into a major fan about ten seconds into the song. Sista! mixes glam, electro, punk, and pop into a perfect cocktail. White Room, another song on their myspace, may be even better. Rather than post an mp3, I thought it was important to embed the music video, because this is a visual band if I've ever seen one. Like all of my favorite artists, they put a lot of effort and thought into their image. I've also attached their cover of Florence & The Machine's terrific Rabbit Heart, which is tweaked into a dramatic electro opus. The single is out on the 22nd of this month, followed by an album sometime in the future. It can't come quickly enough.

The Dirty Disco - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) 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.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Protocol - Rules Of Engagement

Remember Protocol? They were a fantastic UK synth-rock band who released two great singles in 2005/2006 (Where's the Pleasure & She Waits For Me) and nearly a third (Love Is My Drug). Then the album was scrapped and they disappeared. I've posted about them a few times before on this blog and have longed to hear their unreleased material.

Well, I long no more. The guys have kindly uploaded their album, along with all b-sides, remixes and acoustic sessions for free download. I think it's absolutely awesome for them to do this. Some of my favorite albums of the past few years have remained unreleased, and although I wish these guys could have had the success they deserved, I'm hoping they'll find a new audience through this release.

(not sure if the tracklist they have up on the site is the true one. I doubt that the demo-sounding version of Beautiful Girlfriend is really the first track. In my collection I keep that a b-side and have the following tracklist, but of course it's entirely up to you! 1. She Waits For Me 2. Love Is My Drug 3. Headaches Heartbreaks 4. Where's The Pleasure 5. Burning Up 6. Needed 7. Don't Make Me Jealous 8. Those Things I Do 9. Cover You Over 10. We Both Hurt The Same)

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