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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Melodifestivalen 2013: Heat One

The live blog has begun! Fingers crossed for a nice stream and even better performances!

* Opening with a shot of Danny Saucedo. I keep forgetting that he's one of the hosts this year. It'll be interesting to see how much of a sense of humor he can have about himself. And of course we get a reminder of the epicness of Loreen. Sweden must be so proud.

* As a sight-gag, this Euphoria is pretty funny, but I wish I understood the lyrics apart from a few words. Also, that Tron suit on Danny still looks stupid a year later.

* David, Yohio and Michael & Caisa getting the most cheers before the performances. I'd be happy if that continued.

DAVID: I approve of the NKOTB played as he walked to the stage. I still find him oddly needy when he performs, but the staging of this was pretty cool (loved the fractured camera "collage") and the song's decent. Not as instant as last year's entry, but still a competent dance track. His vocals sounded a bit shaky to me, though. And he certainly didn't have that enthusiastic response from the crowd after the performance that he had last year.

COOKIES N BEANS: Walking out to Bowie. I wish they would do a Bowie-esque song, but they're really not that kind of group. Cookies N Beans is the worst, yet somehow best, band name ever. Overall, I'd say that I liked their previous entry better than this. The verses are okay but the chorus is pretty boring. It really doesn't sound like a Kempe song. I could still see them progressing further if they get the "old" vote over Anna's song. We'll see...

JAY JAY: This was one of the songs I liked least from the previews, but it also seemed that it needed to be heard in full to be appreciated. But... hmm... this is just odd. Rhyming "Paris" with "where is" annoys me straight off the bat. Does he really think this is the kind of song that would represent Sweden in Eurovision... especially after Euphoria? Can you imagine? It sounds like a song a 9-year-old wrote. In two minutes.
reluctant applause at the end.

MARY: I am SO feeling her entry music. Maybe being a contestant on the Voice will help her with voters? I hope so. This is a refreshing change of pace from the last two acts, but it still feels like it's missing something and I don't know what it is. She seems like she's just short of pulling out all the stops. It's energetic but it feels too much like going through the motions, if that makes sense. Audience seems to agree.

ERIC: This seems like an obvious contender for the "serious indie swedish" vote, and if any of the non-dance tracks this week is getting in, it better be this one because it's the best. The production's gorgeous and the melody pleasant, if a little expected. It won't be my favorite for the week, but it'll probably be top three.

YOHIO: Well, you can't beat that stage get-up. I wish the song was a little more remarkable (does it work without the accompanying visual?), but I would still be happy to see this progress, if only to get a successful album from him. And strangely, I get the sense that this could do well today...

ANNA: I swear, that strings melody is borrowed from another song. I'm afraid of this going through, particularly since it's the only ballad and won't probably be splitting votes with any other entries. As far as MF ballads go, it's just really boring. Nothing offensively bad, but nothing of note whatsoever.

MICHAEL & CAISA: This was my favorite based on the previews, and it's still my favorite track of the heat. That said, the performance was a bit underwhelming. Caisa's vocals just didn't sound good, in my opinion. I can't wait to hear the studio version, as the song itself is awesome. Why was the performance so underwhelming, though? Argh... frustrating!!

** My brave predictions: 
I'm finding it really hard to predict this week, as nothing really stood out. I feel like I could be totally wrong, but here goes nothing:
Direct to Final: David and Cookies & Beans
Andra Chansen: Yohio and Eric (or Anna? Or maybe even Michael/Caisa?)

If it was me, I'd probably pick Yohio and David or Michael/Caisa

TOP FIVE: Cookies N Beans, Mary (shocking!), Eric, David and Yohio!
Kocked out: Anna (seventh), Michael/Caisa (sixth), Jay Jay (a deserved last place)

EDIT: Now, I'm feeling it might be Yohio and Cookies N Beans through, while David and Eric take Andra Chansen. Ahhh... I really can't predict this.

EDIT: I imagine the Swedish press will have a field day with the multiple graphics mistakes on tonight's broadcast. Mostly because there won't be much else to write about. A pretty underwhelming heat overall.
Also, this "Mean Ukuleles From Hell" bit is really weird.

EDIT: First to go through the the final is... David! I had him in my initial predictions, but really I wasn't sure in the end. It's deserved in an underwhelming heat, but it has no chance of winning in the final.

EDIT: Next to the final: Yohio!! (very well deserved)
Andra Chansen: Cookies N Beans and Eric
Knocked out: Mary

Overall, though this wasn't a very strong heat (week one usually isn't), I'm pleased with the results. I still love the Michael/Caisa song but that performance was terrible so it pretty much disqualified them. I like both David and Yohio's songs, and particularly Yohio's anime/glam-rock image. Bring on next week!!
Oh, and despite comments to the contrary, Yohio is NO Ola Salo. Not even close.


Friday, February 01, 2013

Melodifestivalen Heat One: Preliminary Judgement

February is great for two reasons: the Oscars and Melodifestivalen! Sweden's biggest musical month is back, and I am more than ready for it! As usual, I'll be live blogging tomorrow during the show, but for now I'd like to offer my first thoughts on the song clips provided by svt. As always, my opinions are likely to change when I hear the full things tomorrow...

(Listen to clips here)

David Lindgren - Skyline
I'd imagine he will do well just based on his success in last year's competition. The song sounds like a great uptempo start to the festivities, though maybe not as instant as Shout It Out was. I think in the long run, I'll like it better, though. 4/5

Cookies 'N' Beans - Burning Flags
Another act that's not new to the competition. This sounds bigger than I expected it to, and I could easily see it progressing onward. It doesn't mean that it's my favorite track, though. 2.5/5

Jay-Jay Johanson - Paris
A well-respected artist in Sweden, but as far as I can tell, a pretty boring song. It just seems too subdued for a contest like this. I'm not getting a lot of melody from the clip, but maybe the full song will be better. 2/5

Mary N'diaye - Gosa ("Cuddle")
Quite a departure from the past two tracks, this Brazilian dance song will certainly stand out. While I like the sound of it, I'm not sure that hook registers as strongly as it could. We'll see. 3/5

Eric Gadd - Vi kommer aldrig att förlora ("We'll Never Lose")
I've always liked this type of indie Swedish rock, and while I don't think it belongs in MF, this sounds like something I might enjoy after the competition. Nice production flourishes throughout, though I do fear that the full version will get a little boring. 3.5/5

Yohio - Heartbreak Hotel
I love the general weirdness of the look and the sound (if not the strength) of the vocals, but I was hoping fora bit more melodically. The text below the preview references The Ark, but The Ark would never write a melody this dull. I hope the full version is better! 3/5

Anna Järvinen - Porslin ("Porcelain")
The only real ballad of the heat, and it's pretty boring, as expected. There's a chance that Sweden might go for her on name recognition alone, but (although there's a hint of a nice, familiar melody), the song's pretty darn sleepy. 1.5/5

Michael Feiner & Caisa - We're Still Kids
Now we're talking! Despite the shaky live vocals, I am loving what I'm hearing so far. The saxophone is unique (and super 80's) and the melody is exactly what I'm looking for. This could easily end up being a five when I hear the whole thing, especially in studio version. 4.5/5

Well, based on the previews, this is definitely stronger than last year's first heat. Although, that week had the eventual winner in the line-up, and I don't think our 2013 winner is amongst these eight. I hope Michael and Caisa sail through, but I'm thinking it's more likely that we see David and Cookies 'N' Beans straight to the final, which would be odd considering they're the first two acts.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

2Yoon - 24/7

"To the left, to the right"

Have you been wanting a K-Pop remake of Miley Cyrus's infamous Hoedown Throwdown? Of course you have, because one of those catchy monstrosities is never enough! Well, this isn't quite that, but it's pretty close. This addictive little trifle borrows a hook from American line dancing, melding it with a bubblegum melody throughout the verses and chorus. It's pretty much impossible to hate. So well produced and so fun. 2Yoon is comprised of Gayoon and Jiyoon (hence the "2"), and is a subgroup of popular girlband 4minute. Why these girls don't believe in spaces between the numbers and words in their names, I'll never know, but it doesn't matter because despite the language barrier, this can really be enjoyed by everyone. I could easily see kids getting into this, but honestly the whole thing's so saccharine sweet that it'll get stuck in anyone's head.

(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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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Darin - Give Me Tonight

"Say you want me like I want you"

Darin's that rarest type of popstar--one whose music actually gets better with each year of his career. He's the type of male artist we just don't have in the US, and with his recent performances on Så Mycket Bättre (a show that needs to come to America), he may have just reached his peak. Though I haven't had a chance to spend much time with his new album, I can confidently say that nothing is as good as the final track, Nobody Knows (released as a single last year). But that song's so good that it would be a tall order to compete with it. I was a big fan of his last album, Lovekiller, but I'm fine with the shift of sound on this one, since I don't think a Lovekiller Pt. II would have worked. This time around, Darin's gone with a much more international (shall we say, trendy?) sound. Give Me Tonight fits the bill perfectly. It's a soaring dance track that lets hims show off his flawless vocals. Nothing revolutionary, but definitely good fun.

(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, January 29, 2013

Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love

"The whole world is mine"

It seems like forever since I've listened to Margaret Berger. I was really into her 2006 album Pretty Scary Silver Fairy, which surprisingly is her most recent full-length release. That's a long time between albums! Now it's time for her big comeback, as part of Norway's search for their 2013 Eurovision entry. She's well on her way, as this track progressed onward during the weekend. It's an odd choice for the contest, as it has a real dark electro vibe to it that isn't as instantaneous as what we'd consider a "typical" Eurovision entry. But that's always been Berger's way. She makes quirky, artistic electropop. It's hard to believe she started on Norway's version of the Idol series. This is a stately midtempo track with crunchy electro production and a subtle, yet super-catchy, hook. If you like it, please check out her back catalogue--especially singles like Samantha and Will You Remember Me Tomorrow.

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


Monday, January 28, 2013

Feed Me - Death By Robot

For the nerds out there, this is the kind of music the Transformers would listen to on their home world of Cybertron. This is like robo-dance, all augmented, metallic vocals and fuzzy dance beats. It's not the usual thing I'd go for, but the production on this is too good to pass up. I often look for workout music, and I can see this fitting the bill. It kicks off with a burst of energy and never lets up. It has a real dark, otherworldly sound to it without sacrificing a sense of giddy freakout fun. If you're a fan of dance music at all, give this a try.

Death by Robot by Feed Me on Grooveshark

(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.