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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Melodifestivalen 2012: The Final

Here it is folks... the grand finale! Fingers crossed that Sweden chooses wisely!

** Although the hosts this year have been far from my favorites, I'm going to miss Sarah Dawn Finer. She's got one hell of a voice, too. If only she'd make a decent album. Something produced/written by Jim Steinman would be EPIC.

** Loreen, Danny, David and Molly seemed to get the most applause at the start, with Loreen noticeably louder.

** Whoa! Holy silver pants, Eric!

** This is weird. Has the previous winner ever come back to perform like this before? And now he's flying??

** Haha! I love the unintentional audience shot of the woman checking her phone at the end of Eric's performance!

** Time for performances

DAVID: The audience still loves him, but where will he place? I'm guessing anywhere between 4 and 6. I've had my issues with this song, but it's a great energetic opener.

THORSTEN: He's riding high on the andra chansen victory, clearly. I've tried to get into this song several times but it just doesn't quite do it for me. Still, I think the "older vote" will up his chances. I predict a finish between 5 and 7.

DEAD BY APRIL: Though they went direct to the final in Heat One, I just don't see this standing up well against the other acts. Maybe I'm completely underestimating them, though. Still, I think we're looking at a placing between 7 and 9. Frankly, it's more than they deserve.

LISA: Her song was super popular directly after she got through during Heat 4, but I think it's lost some luster since. It's a fine song, but too subdued to challenge for a win. But I think she'll still do well, finishing between 4 and 6 (mostly because people like her).

TOP CATS: This just screams last place, but you never know. However, I do know that it's my least favorite of this year's final. Anything more than a placing between 8 and 10 would shock me. Of course, I'm shocked they even made the final.

LOREEN: Well, she certainly has a warm reception. I just hope it all doesn't backfire! She needs to win this. Anything less than a place between 1 and 3 would be a travesty (though it's honestly not going anywhere lower than 2nd place at worst)

ULRIK: Poor Ulrik has to follow Loreen. It might chip away at his votes, though I'm not underestimating his fans. This should be a 3 to 5 placing, but I suppose it could go lower if the juries don't like it.

BJORN: I've really warmed to the stupid fun of this song, but I don't think it's going to finish in the top half. It's just too much of a parody (without actually being a parody). I predict it falls somewhere between 7 and 9.

MOLLY: Now this I can see doing very well. Probably not winning, but it'll be the top placing ballad this year (though it's kind of the only real ballad in the final, I guess). It's no Empty Room, but I think this will place between 2 and 4.

** What is up with the live feed? It was doing great all show and now the dreaded buffer seems to be back in full force. Argghh...

DANNY: The presumed frontrunner for so long, but his song just isn't as good as it should be. Still, he's the only one besides Loreen who could conceivably win. I wouldn't absolutely hate it, but Loreen's song is MUCH stronger. He'll place between 1 and 3 today. The pimp spot at the end of the show certainly doesn't hurt.

So, to reiterate, here are my predictions (I'm aware there's some overlap!):

(1-3) Loreen, Danny
(2-4) Molly
(3-5) Ulrik
(4-6) David, Lisa
(5-7) Thorsten
(7-9) Dead By April, Bjorn
(8-10) Top Cats

And my stab in the dark as to how the Top 10 will look when all is said and done:

1. Loreen
2. Danny
3. Molly
4. David
5. Ulrik
6. Thorsten
7. Lisa
8. Dead By April
9. Bjorn
10. Top Cats

** Okay, results are starting. International Juries up first.

A bad start for Loreen, but a quick recovery. Danny, Loreen, David and Molly in the lead so far.
* Jury votes are all over the place. Loreen in the lead now.
* Tied now between Danny and Loreen. The UK only gave Loreen 6?
* Loreen in the lead again. David in second? Crazy!
* Danny back in second. Loreen still leading by ten.
* Danny gets more votes from the Ukraine, which has to be expected. Loreen still ahead by eight.
* David back up to three. Loreen increases her lead.
* Another first place from Germany to Loreen!
* From Jedward's homeland (haha! can't believe they said that), another first place for Loreen. Ulrik is doing quite nicely too.
* Loreen finishes the jury votes with a pretty big lead. Let's hope it sticks!

* Also doing better than expected with the juries: Ulrik (yay!), Top Cats (boo!) Doing worse: Bjorn, Thorsten, Molly

** Interesting reinterpretation of last year's winner "Popular" as a burlesque number. Not sure it entirely works, but it's entertaining nonetheless. The problem is, without all the flashy production, Popular just isn't that great of a song.

(I think I got all these right. They didn't show the line-up for long)
1. Loreen! (by a landslide)
2. Danny (looks pissed)
3. Ulrik/David (tie)
5. Molly (surprisingly low public vote)
6. Top Cats (WAY higher than they deserved
7. Thorsten (public vote helped)
8. Dead By April (meh)
9. Lisa (shockingly low public/jury vote)
10. Bjorn (not too surprising)

YES! Now win Eurovisiion, Loreen!!
(Lisa and Molly got the lowest public vote? That's hard to believe!)


Friday, March 09, 2012

Preview: Melodifestivalen 2012 Final

I've had no qualms in saying that this year's MF has been pretty weak, especially when compared with the greats. As usual, the quality of the songs was spread out in a very frustrating way (Week 4 being almost universally strong while Weeks 1 & 3 being incredibly weak overall.

It's all come down to the Final, which I will be live blogging tomorrow. According to the pundits (and pretty much every viewer), it's a race between Loreen and Danny. I am completely behind Loreen, who not only has the better song, but has the best song of the entire competition. So even if it's been weak overall, voters could still make this year worth it by giving her the trip to Baku that she deserves.

As a preview before tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to rank every single song from best to worst. The ones that ended up actually making the Final are bold. But honestly, wouldn't my top ten have been more fun?

1 Euphoria - Loreen
2 The Girl - Charlotte Perrelli
3 Stormande Hav - Timoteij
4 Kyss Mig - Axel Algmark
5 Don't Let Me Down - Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren
6 Goosebumps - Hanna Lindblad
7 Soldiers - Ulrik Munther
8 Mirakel - Björn Ranelid Feat. Sara Li
9 Amazing - Danny Saucedo

10 Just a Little Bit - Love Generation
11 Ge Aldrig Upp - Thomas Di Leva
12 Why Start a Fire - Lisa Miskovsky
13 Shout It Out - David Lindgren

14 Det Går För Långsamt - Mimi Oh
15 Aldrig Aldrig - Andreas Lunstedt
16 Land of Broken Dreams - Dynazty
17 Förlåt Mig - Mattias Andréasson
18 Why Am I Crying - Molly Sandén
19 Salt and Pepper - Marie Serneholt
20 Lovelight - Andreas Johnson
21 The Boy Can Dance - Afro-Dite
22 Sanningen - Carolina Wallin Pérez
23 Mystery - Dead By April
24 Jag Reser Mig Igen - Thorsten Flinck
25 Youngblood - Youngblood
26 I Want To Be Chris Isaac - the Moniker
27 Allting Blir Bra Igen - Opa!
28 Baby Doll - Top Cats
29 Sean Den Förste Banan - Sean Banan
30 På Väg - Abalone Dots
31 I Din Himmel - Sonja Aldén
32 I Mina Drömmar - Maria Benhaji

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Pop Blitz 3/8/12

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
I remember Carly from all the way back during Canadian Idol. It's great to see her rack up a worldwide hit. The song's good, too. It's the kind of straight-up pop track that doesn't come along very often anymore. I'd argue that that's why it's been so successful. People want this kind of music back. A-

Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
Speaking of massive worldwide hits, this is pretty much conquering the planet. And like with the last track, I think much of its success is down to the fact that it's a complete 180 from what's popular right now. That hook doesn't hurt either. B+

Madonna - Girl Gone Wild
Though her last single was a little embarrassing, it had its moments. This is straight up dance, which is really where she should be at this stage in her career. The verses are pretty forgettable, but the hook sticks. B+

Nicki Minaj - Starships
This is really a pastiche of popular 2011-12 tracks. There are the guitars borrowed from Pink's Raise Your Glass and the dance elements borrowed from almost every song of the last year. Yeah, it's catchy, but it's almost ridiculously unoriginal. B-

Katy Perry - Part Of Me
This track's been floating around for ages, but I'm happy that it's now a single. It's up their with Perry's best--uncomplicated, glossy power pop. Her strong singles reign continues. A-

Carrie Underwood - Good Girl
It's Carrie in uptempo, rocking "he done me wrong" mode. I really like the sound of this, but I feel like it's missing something extra that would have pushed it over the edge. B

Train - Drive By
I dread a new Train single. But, with expectations as low as they can be, this isn't too bad. However, it's not horribly, drill-into-your-head contagious like their worst hits, so it probably won't do that well. C

Your Choice: What's your favorite Pop Blitz song this week?

Pop Blitz 3/8/12 Your Choice!
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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Storm - The Chosen Ones

"We have no fear"

Three years ago, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their most recent album. I was obsessed (still am) with lead single Zero and, after hearing the follow-up, I was pumped that they were headed in a new direction musically. Then the album arrived and it became a case of two songs in a new style and everything else the same ol' same ol'. I notice this with a lot of bands. It's really thrilling when an artist chooses to completely reinvent themselves (like Donkeyboy did last week). Well, Denmark's The Storm has done just that with their new album, Rebel Against Yourself. In fact, in a lot of ways it's the album I wish the Yeah Yeah Yeahs would have released. Zero would have fit in perfectly. The Storm has always had a more aggressive sound, but this time it's fused to dance and 80's alt pop. They've already had a couple of huge singles off this release, but most of the album tracks are just as good. The Chosen Ones is a great example. It's pretty much propulsive, gigantic pop music from start to finish. That hook is just massive. (But unfortunately you're going to have to trust me, since no site online will embed the damn thing. For now, enjoy another of the album's tracks below...)

(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.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Dragonette - The Right Woman

"Take a chance"

I was very excited to find a new Dragonette song in my inbox today. Their official new single, Let It Go, will be released later this month, but for now we've got this extra treat. The Right Woman, a collaboration with producer Plastic Plates, is part of a compilation, but it's also a nice holdover while we wait for the third album. It's a little heavier on the electro vibe than most of their stuff, but retains a poppy chorus. The band have been sharing previews of new material (including the single) on their soundcloud page and I definitely recommend heading over there to check it out. I have a feeling (especially after their success with Martin Solveig) that this third album is going to be the one to really break them big-time around the world.

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


Monday, March 05, 2012

Track-by-Track: Donkeyboy - Silver Moon

It's rare when a band is willing to experiment so much on a second album. With the success of Ambitions, Donkeyboy could have easily crafted a record full of clones, hoping to replicate success. Instead, they've taken influence from the excellent Bassflow mix of that same single and upped the tempo and electronic influence. It's exactly what I'd hoped they'd come back with.

1. Silver Moon - Opens the album in a swinging fashion, with a simple refrain and uptempo electronic beat. It's a great, straightforward pop song that would do well as a single. 9/10

2. City Boy - The first single, and one of the tracks that's just instantly catchy. The warped vocals of the chorus show up quite a lot throughout the rest of the album, but they're used so well. This has already been a big hit, and sounds like Summer (though it was released in Fall). 10/10

3. Drive - This borrows a bit of that squiggly instrumental breakdown from LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem (I know that sounds unlikely, but it's the best comparison I can make). Another really strong dance track. 9/10

4. Get Up - The first midtempo, and this is where the band's gift for melody really comes into play. That lush, beautiful chorus uses the female vocals (provided by frequent collaborator/practically 6th member Linnea Dale, I'm assuming) to brilliant effect. Definitely a future single. 10/10

5. Out Of Control - This is a huge surprise. It's far funkier and dance-pop influenced than anything they've done. In fact, it reminds me a little of fantastic Danish band Private, especially in its blatant 80's influences. I love this. 9/10

6. No More Movies - This feels a little like Ambitions with a higher tempo. It's one of the best tracks on the album because it melds the band's gift for soaring melody with their new-found dancefloor aesthetic. Pure pop bliss. 10/10

7. Pull Of The Eye - The second single, and an excellent choice. This might actually be my favorite song on the album. The vocoder-ized chorus is reminiscent of Eiffel 65, but in the best way possible. That hook is SO catchy. 10/10

8. On Fire - Back to the 80's influence. This is a good counterpart to Out Of Control, but it's not as strong melodically. I still love it, but it feels the closest to filler that this album gets, even though the production is stunning. 8/10

9. All Up To You - In a sharp right turn, this acoustic ballad hearkens back to their debut. Because it's so different from the rest of the album, it really stands out. Luckily, the melody's strong and it's a great break from all the intense production going on before and after it. 9/10

10. Darkest Night - A late album highlight. This is very Pet Shop Boys, but better than anything they've done in years. Immaculately produced, this has a driving beat that starts strong and never lets up. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. 10/10

11. We Can Be Friends - From Pet Shop Boys to something that sounds a little like Roxette, these guys have taken influence from some of the pop greats. This could easily be another hit single for them. 10/10

12. Stay - An anthemic pop song to close the album. They certainly don't go out with a whimper. I feel like I'm repeating myself, but this is yet another potential hit. This album is remarkably consistent. 10/10

Album Grade: 9.5/10

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