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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Melodifestivalen 2011: Heat One

My thoughts on heat one of this year's contest:

Let's hope for a nice stream and a good outcome :)

(uh-oh, preshow video's already a bit jumpy... does not bode well...)

OPENING: Lots going on with the hosts singing and dancing around in all manner of outfits and gags. Still nowhere near as good as last year's opening, though.

Edit: Their new logo looks like a Transformer. Autobot or Decepticon, I'm not sure...

Edit: From audience applause alone, it seems like Danny (duh) and Jenny (!) will be going through.

DILBA: The Tron outfits are cracking me up, but it really doesn't sound like she's singing live? I mean, she has to be according to the rules, but the vocals sound so processed. This works better in studio form than live, I think. It won't go through, but it's a good dance song. Unfortunately, Dilba doesn't have any charisma.

Edit: This backstage woman looks like she's from Mad Men.

SWINGFLY: Does Swingfly really not speak Swedish? Or were they just being funny in that opening? Hmmm... Anyways, I've always liked this guy's music, and this is no exception. Not for MF, but he's got more energy than Dilba did. I like the singer with him, too. Who is he? Oh my god, and that woman at the end? She cracked me up for some reason.

JENNY SILVER: Here's Jenny with her Abba pastiche! It's so campy, but so much fun. I love the "tribute" to her strange silver arm of 2010 on the dancers. The song's great, the performance was well staged and well choreographed... I think she may be through with this one. It definitely deserves it.

JONAS MATSSON: Had a funny opening, but once the performance started... erm... well, this is really bad. So cheesy, and not in a good way. Plus, the melody's lacking any sort of identifiable hook and his vocals annoy me. Actually, he annoys me. Polite, muted applause at the end.

LE KID: I love this! Of course, I already loved the band, so that helps. It's a great song... probably the best so far. And they've got such identifiable styling and staging. I do have my doubts about this going through, though. Still, they've put on the biggest "show" of the night so far.

RASMUS VIBERG: I liked this, but I'm not sure if it's as good as I wanted it to be. The vocal performance was excellent and I love his presence, but it seems like the song's just a bit too predictable. I'd like to hear this guy do something rockier, because he's definitely got the voice. I think this has a chance of pulling an upset, though.

PERNILLA ANDERSSON: What the hell were those things she was having to eat in the opening? This is a very Swedish-sounding rock/folk ballad, and it's very pretty. No Snalla, Snalla, but then again, what is? Vocals were excellent, but this may end up lacking some oomph by MF standards. This is an insanely difficult heat to predict!

DANNY: ...Except I can pretty much guarantee than Danny will be going through. He didn't even need to perform, honestly. It was already a done deal. Doesn't hurt that he had the most accomplished performance of the night. I'm still not sure if I'm 100% sold on the repetitive song, but this is a definite contender. Great vocals, though like Dilba's performance, it was hard to tell how much was actually sung live.

My BOLD, and probably INCORRECT predictions:
To final - Danny, Jenny
Andra Chansen - Pernilla, Le Kid (fingers crossed)
Possible upset - Swingfly

Edit: Love it that #mel2011 is the #1 (non-promoted) trending topic on twitter worldwide right now. Never underestimate the power of Melodifestivalen!

Edit: Dilba, Jonas and Rasmus eliminated. My predictions could actually be right! Poor Dilba got last place. Not surprising (and I love how the guys announced the song, ironically, as "Try It Again"

Edit: Danny's the first to go directly to the final. Not surprising in the least. I would have been shocked if this hadn't happened. I'm sure he would have been too!

Edit: BTW, I think I can say it now without jinxing it. The stream today is EXCELLENT.

Edit: Danny's song is growing on me, though it's nowhere near being up there with his best. And I hate that stupid spoken bit in the interlude.

Edit: Four good songs vying for the three remaining spots. I'd probably knock off Pernilla's, but I'm a bit worried for Le Kid's chances against these big guns.

Edit: Nanne!! I love her, but she better stop singing this crap Whitney Houston song and bust into one of her own.

Edit: Apparently, that's not gonna happen. Nanne and Whitney do not mix well.

Edit: Le Kid eliminated :( Pernilla and Jenny in Andra Chansen and Swingfly direct to the final. Hmmm... this is a bit of a surprise. I guess you can never rule out name recognition. Swingfly's had a lot of hits.

Edit: The good news - I like this Swingfly song and Le Kid finished in the top five, which hopefully means they got some nice exposure.


Friday, February 04, 2011

Melodifestivalen 2011: Heat One - Preliminary Judging

Yes, yes, yes! Melodifestivalen is back for another year, and it's poised to be the biggest yet. While I can't say I'm behind the decision to post the clips in these weird lo-fi audio/video teasers this year, that doesn't mean I won't follow tradition and do some preliminary ratings before the show tomorrow. As always, my opinion can radically change once I've heard the songs in full, but that's half the fun!

(Listen to clips here)

Dilba - Try Again
This sounds so much clubbier than I expected to. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it seems like the vocals need to be brought up in the mix. This shouldn't matter in the live performance, but the recording seems to be missing just a bit of oomph. Altogether, it sounds great, but the contest has a history of forgetting this type of track. 4/5

Swingfly - Me & My Drum
Swedish rap is so much better than American rap. This sounds like a typical Swingfly song -- so-so verses, excellent hook. He's got the name recognition, but doesn't seem to fit very well in the context of the other acts. Right now, this sounds pleasant but forgettable. 3/5

Jenny Silver - Something In Your Eyes
Couldn't be more different from her entry last year. I love the blatant Abba production. It certainly sounds like the campiest entry in this heat, but also the catchiest. A showstopping performance could see this advance. 4.5/5

Jonas Matsson - On My Own
The sound of this has potential, but the melody and vocals seem very dull. It's hard to tell from the clip, but it doesn't seem to have much of a hook. Probably my least favorite of the heat right now. 2/5

Le Kid - Oh My God
I think a lot of people are counting on this being Le Kid's big breakthrough. And, as with their other songs, it sounds quite good. Not sure if it's up with their best yet, but I'm very eager to hear more. It seems like the full version could be quite anthemic. 4/5

Rasmus Viberg - Social Butterfly
This could be the big surprise of the first week. As others have said, this has a sound very reminiscent of Alexander Rybak's Fairytale (and we all know how that turned out). I can see this doing well. 3.5/5

Pernilla Andersson - Desperados
One of the bigger names in this heat, I have a feeling this song will do well. It's the only ballady one, though it's not quite a ballad. It's definitely the most "mature" sounding of the pack. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but it sounds pleasant enough. 3/5

Danny - In The Club
This is harder and more American-influenced (or at least UK-influenced) than I expected. I'm not sure how I feel yet, though it's definitely catchy. And he'll sail through on name recognition. I have a feeling I'll like this more when I hear the full version. 3.5/5

All in all, strong heat. Though I don't think we have the eventual winner here. As to who I think will go through? Danny and Pernilla straight through, with Le Kid and Rasmus Viberg (though Jenny or Swingfly could eke it out) through to the second chance round.

*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 03, 2011

Tao Hypah - Celeb

"All that glitters isn't gold"

Sometimes all you want is a burst of straight-up dance pop. Tao Hypah, a half-Japanese, half-Dutch singer (you don’t hear that very often, right?), supplied exactly this when he emailed me yesterday. I often lament how few emails I get from artists/labels/management fit the style of this blog, but when one really hits the mark, it's a nice surprise. Tao is still finding his voice. This (damn catchy) track borrows from the Gaga-esque sound of the moment and the lyrics are a little obvious at times, but the melody is just killer. The vocal performance and production, as well, are really pretty stunning given that this is an independent artist. It sounds as strong as anything you'd hear on the radio. And on the eve of the first Melodifestivalen weekend of the year, I can't help but think that this would be an excellent Eurovision contender. One to keep an eye on, certainly.

Celeb (Radio Edit) - Tao Hypah by taohypah

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


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Foster The People - Helena Beat

"I tie my hands up to the chair"

Foster the People have seemed to be branded with the “what MGMT would sound like if they didn’t go all experimental with their second album” slogan by the indie world. When I heard that, I was instantly intrigued. I loved MGMT’s debut album, hated their follow-up. And from the tracks released so far on their EP, Foster the People could end up releasing an album that’s better than either. They are decidedly indie, but with a far poppier side than most of their peers. The songs are heavy on electronic elements, but that never ever comes before an excellent melody. Pumped Up Kicks may end up being the breakout single you hear playing in all the “cool“ stores (it’s so catchy that it borders on novelty), but I prefer the other tracks on the EP. Helena Beat, especially, has one hell of a chorus. It mixes elements of electro, glam and straight up, sunny pop to create something irresistible. Along with Penguin Prison--who these guys remind me of--this is the indie band to watch in 2011.

Foster The People - Helena Beat by alienhits

(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.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Pop Blitz 2/1/11

Britney Spears - Hold It Against Me
As this single's quick chart ascension proves, it's an instantly catchy dance track. What it doesn't seem to have, though, is a lot of staying power. Right now I'm rating it as "just fine." Certainly not bad, but nothing all that special, either. B

Jessie J - Price Tag
While I can see a glimmer of the "next-big-thing" hype she's getting, neither her last song nor this one has got me all that excited. It's kind of boring, honestly. C+

Chris Brown - Yeah 3X
After everything that happened, I'm honestly surprised that this comeback is happening. Especially with such a derivative, sounds-like-everything-else track. Taio Cruz does this much better, but I do have to admit that the chorus is pretty strong. B-

Pink - F**kin' Perfect
Sorry, Pink. I'm a fan, but this is such a lazy song. Boring melody, sappy sentiment and dull production. I don't see why it's such a huge hit. It's the same problem I've had with a lot of her more recent stuff. She's coasting. There's none of that spark of her first three albums. C

Adele - Rolling In The Deep
Amazing. This is an example of an artist improving on her debut with a single that pushes forward, rather than setting the auto-pilot and reaping the rewards of an already established career. A-

Train - Marry Me
Is there anyone alive that still likes Hey, Soul Sister? It may have been the most overplayed song of all time. Let's HOPE this doesn't follow the same path. This is a neutered band, producing Hallmark card songs at the whim of conservative radio playlisters. Blech. F

Wretch 32 - Tractor
I'm probably not the target audience for this, but as far as UK rap singles go, I find this relatively forgettable. I like the production, but the hook's not strong enough to make much of an impact. C-

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Lisa Miskovsky - Got A Friend

"Play with fire, but you're so cold"

Lisa Miskovsky has been around the Swedish music scene for awhile now. She started out as a mostly folksy, acoustic--almost country--artist but has experimented with a more subtle electronic pop sound as she's released more material. This is no dancefloor stormer, but it's definitely glossier than her first recordings. There's a nice collision of sounds here, an augmented version of her acoustic guitar pop. Plus, it's catchy as hell. The chorus has a big, anthemic sound to it--perfect for the radio. And Miskovsky's vocals, as usual, are as smooth and pleasant as ever. I've always thought that she would be an excellent addition to Sweden's Melodifestivalen. The contest seems to favor this style (ie: a more interesting version of last year's winner). Then Miskovsky's transformation would be complete.

Lisa Miskovsky - Got A Friend 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.