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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscars 2011 Round-Up

Best Picture
It’s been a strong year for Oscar-nominated movies (less strong for movies in general). I’ve seen all ten, and there are at least half of them that I wouldn’t mind seeing get the prize. I loved The Fighter, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, Inception, Toy Story 3 and True Grit. If I had to pick one, I’d give the slight edge to The Fighter, which is odd because it was the one I was least looking forward to seeing initially. Of all the ten nominees, it was the most affecting (followed closely by The King’s Speech). I found The Social Network to be overrated, Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are Alright underwhelming, and 127 Hours quite good, but not as good as my top six.
Should Win: The Fighter
Will Win: The King’s Speech

Best Actor
It’s Colin Firth all the way with this one. I loved Jeff Bridges and James Franco as well, but Firth absolutely disappeared into his role. I’d say this is the surest bet for Oscars 2011.
Should Win: Colin Firth
Will Win: Colin Firth

Best Actress
I find it amazing that Annette Bening has become a co-frontrunner for this. Sure, she was good, but Natalie Portman was jaw-droopingly good in Black Swan. Without her, I’m not sure that movie would have worked.
Should Win: Natalie Portman
Will Win: Natalie Portman

Best Supporting Actor
Another no-brainer for me. Part of the reason why I loved The Fighter so much was Christian Bale’s ridiculously un-Christian Bale performance. Like Firth, he just disappeared into this character and really became the focal point of the movie, despite being a supporting character. Geoffrey Rush is a close second, though. He was a huge highlight in The King’s Speech.
Should Win: Christian Bale
Will Win: Christian Bale

Best Supporting Actress
This is a really tough one for me. I would honestly be happy with any of the nominees (except Jacki Weaver, but that’s only because I haven’t seen the movie). I’ve had a lot of love for Carter, Adams and Leo for some time, and each had amazing years. But then there’s Hailee Steinfeld, who absolutely made True Grit. Aargh… I’m gonna go with Adams on this, just because I think she’s overdue.
Should Win: Amy Adams
Will Win: Melissa Leo

Best Director
Oh god, Darren Aronofsky all the way (though he’ll never get it). I wish Chris Nolan had been nominated. I’d also be happy with the Coen Brothers, but they’ve won too recently. I think there will be a split between picture and director this year.
Should Win: Darren Aronofsky
Will Win: Davind Fincher

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Melodifestivalen 2011: Heat Four - Live Blog

Here we go! My most anticipated Heat of the year, and it's starting in just 30 seconds :)

EDIT: This "Chicago" opening is very strange. Who comes up with this stuff? (I think Marie just wanted an excuse to sing)

EDIT: Can I just add that last year's hosts were much more entertaining?

EDIT: Dang, looks like the Ark won't be opening the show. I still hope they get to perform two songs.

1. MELODY CLUB: Yes!!!! PLEASE MAKE IT TO THE FINAL. Great song, great performance, great staging. I am nervous for them in this strong heat.

2. JULIA: Those background pillar things were kind of cool, especially when they melded into one and gave birth to background singers (!). The song itself is, unfortunately, quite boring. Not bad, but it screams last place. And she's got zero charisma.

3. LASSE: Here's one of those acts that I'm worried about, especially given their good reception in the arena (and their song, which is actually alright). But please, Sweden, we've already got the Playtones in the final. Come to think of it, can't we just replace the Playtones with these guys?

4. LINDA P: Wow, this does sound like Hollow! If any ballad has a chance this year, it's this one, but I can't help but be a little underwhelmed. It seems like there was something missing... but I'm not sure what it was. Lots of arm motions/waving, though. That's for sure!

5. ANDERS: I am gonna LOVE the studio version of this, but his vocals did not work at all in this setting. Plus the whole thing was unintentionally campy. The song itself, though, is excellent. Performance... less so.

6. LINDA B: It's hard to see this not going through in some capacity. It's ridiculously catchy schlager in a year without much competition in that genre. And I like it very much. So far, it's Melody Club and Linda B in the final for me. Weird staging, though.

7. NICKE: The other possible spoiler that I'm worried about. I just don't see how something like this isn't going to the final. It's a good song, too. Aaargh... I'm worried. Oh god, and he's got those crowd lights that Anna had last year! This is definitely a contender :(

8. LOVE GENERATION: I still don't think the public is going to warm to this the way everyone thinks. But I think it's andra chansen at the very least... just not the 100% winner that people were predicting. And I'm not sure the stage show transferred to video as they wanted, but I could be wrong.

OK, my (probably wrong) predictions:
Straight through: Linda B., Nicke (though I hope he and Melody Club switch spots)
Andra Chansen: Melody Club, Love Generation and maybe Lasse

But I've gotta say, this is by far the hardest heat to predict, and I could be pleasantly surprised.

EDIT: Vote Melody Club and Linda B!!

EDIT: MELODY CLUB IS TRENDING ON TWITTER WORLDWIDE! Probably the only time I'll ever see that in my life! haha

EDIT: The Ark!!

EDIT: YES YES YES I love the Ark :) And I love this performance! Can they just win MF all over again? They just showed everyone how it's done!

EDIT: Top 5 - Love Generation, Lasse, Nicke, Linda P and Linda B. AND MELODY CLUB DIDN'T EVEN MAKE IT TO THE TOP 5! In fact, they got 7th!! I knew I was worried for a reason >:(

EDIT: Direct to the final with the most votes - Linda B. I am still in shock over Melody Club.

EDIT: Easily the worst results of the whole year. I don't know what happened. Even Julia got more votes? REALLY?? Happy for Linda, but I feel so bad for the guys!

EDIT: So the next spot in the final is going to Nicke, right? I don't see any other options, except maybe Love Generation if they sneak in.

EDIT: Final results - To final: Nicke To andra chansen: Linda P, Love Generation Out: Lasse

EDIT: Hmmm... for the first time in several years, I don't see a clear winner in our final so far. I'm really not sure who Sweden will send this year! (but I'm pissed it's not Melody Club!)

EDIT: And why didn't they have the Ark do a cover song like all of the other interval acts?

EDIT: Ugh. I guess I'll just wait for that new Melody Club album and forget that they ever competed in MF :) They're still a trending topic on Twitter, at least!


Friday, February 25, 2011

Melodifestivalen 2011: Heat Four - Preliminary Judging

Aargh! It's the last round of original songs tomorrow for Melodifestivalen. In anticipation, here are my quick reviews based only on the short clips svt has provided. As always, they're likely to change when I hear the songs in full.

(Listen to clips here)

Melody Club - The Hunter
Easily my most anticipated entry of the contest from one of my favorite bands. I am loving the sound of this (and why wouldn't I? It's pure Melody Club). It sounds a bit further on the schlager scale than I thought it would (a good thing), and has a great hook. These guys have had quite a story in their build-up to MF. First they lose a drummer to a lawsuit, then they nearly lost their guitarist when he badly injured his foot this week. After all of this, It'll be a small victory just to get on stage! All you Swedish readers, please call tomorrow and throw in a vote for me! They need to make the final! 5/5

Julia Alvgard - Better Or Worse
This sounds leaps and bounds better than the other wildcard entry this year, but in this strong heat, it's still one of the least memorable tracks. It just doesn't make much of an impression. 2.5/5

Lasse Stefanz - En blick och nånting händer
Well, it's obviously old fashioned. That being said, I already like it better than last week's dreaded Playtones entry. I will be very angry, though, if this steals a spot from someone more deserving. 3.5/5

Linda Pritchard - Alive
We haven't had many big ballads this year (and the ones we've had have done quite poorly). This sounds like it has more potential to move on, but it's no Empty Room. I'm not sure it's even another Hollow, despite sounding similar. 3.5/5

Anders Fernette - Run
His vocals sound awful in the rehearsal video, but I really like the sound of the song. It doesn't have much of a chance in the context of the contest, but I'm enjoying this. 4/5

Linda Bengtzing - E de fel på mig
The verses to this sound so similar to Nanne's entry from a few years back (which I loved). It's pure bubblegum schlager, which should sound spectacular on the stage tomorrow. My second favorite, based on the clips. 4.5/5

Nicke Borg - Leaving Home
Very worried about this, as I have a horrible feeling that it could sneak in and steal a spot to Globen. It's not that I dislike it (I have a feeling I'll enjoy the full version even more), but there are at least four songs that I think I like better. 3.5/5

Love Generation - Dance Alone
I'm failing to see what all the excitement is about here. It just sounds like a hundred other things you'd hear on the radio, with a so-so melody and hook. I still think they'll benefit from an elaborate stage show and the pimp spot in the competition, but this is more than a little underwhelming for me. 3.5/5

I'm not sure that I can even predict this one! I'm thinking the top four will be Love Generation, Melody Club, Linda B and Nicke Borg, with Linda P taking the fifth spot, but I have no idea in which order those names will fall. Though Lasse could do well, too. It will be a nail-biter for me. But I urge all alienhits readers to watch tomorrow because not only do we have Melody Club, but the Ark will be performing, too!

*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!)

*Also, for all you movie-buffs, I'll have my thoughts on the Oscars up sometime tomorrow!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Folio - Branded

"Your eyes leave a pained expression"

Sometimes I come across a song from a few years ago and wonder why I had never known of it before. Branded is from all the way back in 2007 (only a year after I started this blog), but sounds like a more 80's influenced Melody Club. I know you're thinking, how can Melody Club be any more 80's influenced, but it's possible. In fact, this sounds like it was recorded in 1986. It's almost a little eerie. Branded has a wonderful, looped drum roll that propels what would otherwise be a simple pop song from an indie band. This comes from Folio's EP, which is of a similar style (though this is by far the best song). They're also releasing stuff this year, but it's not as electronically influenced and, frankly, not as fun. But yay for unearthing old, unknown pop songs! That being said, I hope the whole Hot Topic look (in picture above) has been retired.

Folio - Branded by alienhits

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


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wolf Gang - The King And All Of His Men

"Why don't you stop fighting me?"

I love it when readers share songs with me. I get dozens of "recommendations" from labels and PR people every day but so few of them are anything I'm even remotely interested in. But you readers know my taste! This is one such track. Wolf Gang is a new band/project (though it's really the brainstorm of one man), recording piano-influenced rock music that's in keeping with some of my all-time favorite groups. There's no album yet (we'll have to wait a few months for that), but there have been three single releases... all of them amazing. My favorite, though, is the first track that was released last year. The King And All Of His Men is one of those rare songs that I knew I'd fall in love with after about ten seconds. Sometimes it happens that quickly. There are shades of the Ark and the Mo in this track, which can only mean that it's pretty damn close to perfection in my eyes. It's an example of a specific type of guitar/piano/synth-based pop that doesn't come around nearly often enough. If you like this, be sure to check out the other singles as well (I swear that I had heard Lions In Cages prior to being introduced to it this week... is it in a commercial or something?).
On another note, though you can't see it in the counter at the bottom of the page (I added that shortly after starting the blog), Alienhits reached its millionth view today. WOW. Never thought that would happen when I started five years ago!

The King And All Of His Men - Wolf Gang by dragonflyenergydrinks

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


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Ark - The Apocalypse Is Over

"Give 'em a hell of a show"

I've been enjoying this track for a few days now, but thought I'd post it today because it's the release date for the band's greatest hits. I've already done my Ark tribute earlier this year with my five day Arkeology retrospective, and I'm sure I don't need to blather on again about how they're my favorite band and blah blah blah, so I'll focus specifically on this, their final song, instead. The Apocalypse Is Over is a swan song if ever there was one. It carries a heavy note of finality from the very beginning, documenting the group's rise to fame and offering a self-tribute of sorts. The Ark has always been close to their fans, and many of Ola's best lyrics created self-empowering anthems that were less about him personally than the band's Angelheads (the name given to their most devoted fans). This last song is a celebration of this relationship -- a final rallying cry. The music is suitably anthemic and thunderous, though there's also a hint of melancholy in the verses. It's bittersweet, as it should be. And, judging from the lyrics, it's definitely the end, providing us diehard fans with a needed sense of closure. Make sure you catch them on Melodifestivalen this weekend. I'm not sure what crazy "transformation" they'll make (if you've been watching MF this year, you know what I mean), but I'm hoping they're allowed to play two songs, as many of the interval acts have.

The Apocalypse Is Over by theark

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


Monday, February 21, 2011

Viktorious - Instant Virtuality

"Reality beats instant virtuality"

Searching through my blog, I just realized that I have never even mentioned Viktorious. This is a huge oversight on my part, as I've been enjoying his music for months now and he's one of my most anticipated popstars of the year. Debut single, When We Were 10, is beyond brilliant, but there's something even more exciting in the works. For the next six weeks, Viktorious will be giving away a free track every Friday. Let me repeat that... EVERY FRIDAY. He already released the first one last week, and if Instant Virtuality is anything to go by, we're in for an exciting six weeks. For those who don't know, Viktor Norén was a member of popular Swedish rock band Sugarplum Fairy (kind of like a rougher Mcfly), who had a number of hits in their homeland. Now he's gone solo in a poppier, more electronic direction and I am completely obsessed with this project. This track is a propulsive dance-rock anthem railing against modern technology even as it embraces it. The melody's got a bit of a Robbie Williams influence (or am I the only one who hears that?). You can download this track, and the forthcoming ones, on his website. Please do!

Viktorious - Instant Virtuality by alienhits

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