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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014: Heat One

And here we go again! Time for 2014 first Melodifestivalen live blog! I'm super excited to see what happens today, because I have a feeling there may be some surprises. It seems like such a strong first heat.

Also, for the first time, I'm trying the live stream on a new smart TV. Hope everything goes well!!

* Sweden wants to win again this year! And that'd be a-okay with me. Still not really feeling this Danish song, though.

* I'm not familiar with these hosts. Hmmm... we'll see. That was definitely an... interesting... introduction.

* Time for the oh-so-reliable applause-o-meter. Yohio, Linus, Ellen and Helena seemed to have cleaned up there. Could they be the top four? Wouldn't be surprising, nor would it be what I'd want.

YOHIO: Peter Kvint co-wrote this, and as the co-writer of my favorite ever song ("Calleth You, Cometh I" by the Ark), I have high expectations.
Not sure about the look this year, but the song's great (though not as good as Ulrik's similar-sounding one last year) and his vocals sound really good. I'd like to see a DTG here, and that's coming from someone who's not necessarily a fan.

MAHAN: "We are Aleo." A little pretentious for what this is, right? She's pulling all sorts of faces. She really believes in this.
It seems like she's also got Robin's dancers from last year, flipsying and dipsying all around the stage and somehow making it look really serious. Song's not bad, and I will definitely be playing it over the next coming months, but I don't think she'll qualify. Maybe fifth?

LINUS: This guy is apparently way more well-known in Sweden than I thought. He's also got the songwriting power of Kempe behind him (and the most awkward catwalk entrance so far).
Plus, he's got the most "emotional" track of the night. All this adds up to what I think will be a surprise DTG, perhaps with Yohio? We'll see. Song's not bad, even though it's not exactly the type of thing I go into MF hoping for.

ELISA: Some cheap schlager! This is more what I would expect, and it's nice to see this kind of silly little song competing. I'm not sure it'll do very well, as it seems to be missing that little extra oomph in the melody that it needs. Kinda reminds me of that Rongedal song from a few years back that was so popular.

ALVARO: Following the footsteps of other dancers-turned-singers that have entered the contest (and done well) in the past, this is probably the song I'm most anticipating based on the clip. He reminds me of a mix between David Lindgren and Eric Saade.
It's a shame that his vocals are pretty shaky, because the song is great. To be fair, it's not exactly an easy melody to perform live. I don't think it's looking good for him (wrong performer for the song, imo), but I can't WAIT to have the studio version. Love this melody. I wonder how the raunchy lyrics will affect its chances?

ELLEN: I like her entry music, but that's probably the fastest tempo we'll be getting from her.
It's another "serious" song, but as far as that type of thing goes, it's not bad. She's certainly got a great voice. I expect (somewhat begrudgingly) this to be somewhere in the top four. I would like it a lot more had it been performed by Abba!

SYLVESTER: If a band member of the Ark is competing, why isn't it Ola Salo? Ugh, that would have been unbelievably fantastic. Maybe next year.
I actually... don't hate this? The vocals are a little weird, but I'm a sucker for a bit of Swedish rock. I don't think it'll do all that well, though. Too forgettable.

HELENA: I know she's popular with the MF and Eurovision community, but I don't really have any leanings toward her either way, so I'm coming into this song fresh.
Okay, I like this, but there's something preventing me from LOVING it. It's almost too straightforward, despite that awesome drama of the hook. I think she'll definitely be top four, but maybe not DTG.

* Okay, so I assume they'll be pulling the top 5 next, as usual. I think we can safely assume Yohio, Linus, Ellen and Helena will be there, with maybe Elisa or Alvaro taking 5th.
Right now, I'm feeling:
DTG - Yohio and Linus
AC - Ellen and Helena
We'll see. Somehow, I feel like this heat was a little less strong than I'd expected.

EDIT: I feel like we're at a baptist church with all this fire and brimstone. (also, proud of myself that I could understand a large portion of that Swedish!)

EDIT: It makes my heart swell to see "the ark" trending worldwide on twitter. If only it was for a different reason!

EDIT: Ah, I love Ulrik. Also, random question but didn't anyone else find it awesome that Chris Lilley used Molly Sanden's "Why Am I Crying" over and over again in Ja'mie: Private School Girl?

* Here we go!
TOP 5: Linus, Elisa, Ellen, Helena and Yohio.
As predicted, then.
Alvaro #6, Mahan #7 and Sylvester #8 (well, at least he has the honor of coming both first and last in MF!)

EDIT: They've really gone out of their way to mock Denmark, haven't they? Kinda lame, though I liked the Lego cup.

First Direct to the Final is..... Yohio!
(I'm feeling pretty good about my predictions)

Andra Chansen songs are.... Linus (kind of shocking, as I was sure he'd be DTG) and Helena.
Wow, that means Ellen must be in there for DTG.

And she is!
Christ, please don't this be "This Is My Life" all over again. People, we know how that turned out. Don't make the same mistake. (though Songbird is a much better song)


Friday, January 31, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014 Heat One: Preliminary Judgment

It is with great pleasure that I introduce my preliminary judgment for the first heat of this year's Melodifestivalen! It's always such an exciting time when MF kicks off. For pop enthusiasts like me, it really is manna from heaven. As always, these reviews are based on the one minute clips of the songs provided by svt and my opinions may change (and sometimes do) when I hear them in full tomorrow.

(Listen to clips here)

1. Yohio - To The End
Oh my god! What a way to kick things off. I wasn't much of a fan of his song last year, but this kind of big anthemic track is exactly the type of thing I love. It sounds kind of like Ulrik Munther's entry from last year, which you all know I absolutely adored. I really hope the full song is as good as this clip. So exciting. 5/5

2. Mahan Moin - Aleo
Sounds kind of like Gosa last year, but with more of a dance bent to it. Not sure about the verses, but that chorus sounds like it could stick. Altogether, quite promising for an artist I know nothing about. 3.5/5

3. Linus Svenning - Bröder (Brothers)
The first Swedish-language entry, and it sounds like a dramatic rock/indie track (with strings!). Like the two before it, the chorus sounds quite anthemic. Not sure about the vocals, but this could end up being really cool. Wow... three strong contenders in a row! Sweden is not messing around this year. 3.5/5

4. Elisa Lindström - Casanova
This is much more of an old-fashioned schlager throwback. That means I'm bound to really enjoy it, though it doesn't sound quite as strong as I'd like it to based on this clip. Still, it's nice to have this kind of music back in the competition and I have a feeling the full version will worm its way into my head very quickly. 3/5

5. Alvaro Estrella - Bedroom
God, I love the sound of this too. It's so funky and that chorus is amazing (and catchy as hell)! You can tell that Kristofer from Melody Club had a hand in writing this. We are so spoiled so far! This could be a surprise qualifier, easily, though it seems like he has a lot of competition in this strong heat. 5/5

6. Ellen Benediktson - Songbird
There's bound to be one downer in the crowd, and what's sad is that she might actually find a lot of success because there isn't anything else in this heat to really pit her against. The melody sounds nice (kind of like a song from one of Jewel's first to albums). I'm going to withhold judgment, because it sounds like it might build into something a little more epic. 3/5

7. Sylvester Schlegel - Bygdens Son (The Neighborhood's Son)
I should be predisposed to love this, since Sylvester was a part of my favorite band ever, the Ark, but this sounds nothing like the Ark. It's typical Swedish folk music. Not always my thing, but it doesn't sound like a particularly bad representation of the genre. I might end up loving it. At least it's uptempo! 3/5

8. Helena Paparizou - Survivor
Not really what I wanted from her (ie: I wanted a faster tempo), but it's certainly not bad. It does sound a little dated, but at the same time that chorus sounds pretty impactful. Still, I have a feeling she might not do as well as people may expect... 3.5/5

Wow! What an incredibly strong line-up. All I can say is we are so lucky that this year MF seems to be back on form. I'm not sure I've ever reviewed a week where I haven't given any track less than a "3". I can't wait until tomorrow to see how it all plays out! Right now, I'd like to see Yohio and Alvaro sail through, and I think there's a chance of that happening if Swedish audiences are in the mood for pop. There are so many strong contenders, though. It's gonna be hard to call!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Telegraph - Rewind

"I wanna make you mine"

Melodifestivalen (ie: one of my favorite times of the year) coverage starts tomorrow, but in the calm before the storm I've got an excellent power-pop track by a promising new American band. As I'm sure all you readers know, I'm a nut for big guitar-riffed, 80's inspired rock. That's one of the reasons the new One Direction record was such a nice surprise. Telegraph are obviously indebted to that sound as well. They describe their music as perched somewhere between 80's bands like Def Leppard and Van Halen and modern pop like Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. I'm not sure I'm hearing either of these extremes in their debut single, but that doesn't mean it's not a great little slice of power pop. Based on this track, I'd actually compare them more to a band like Fountains Of Wayne from the early 00's. Still, I'm sure they've got other sides to show us. Either way, this is an incredibly promising start and I'll definitely be curious to see what they do next.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Download the single for free here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Viktor And The Blood - Boys Are In The City

"Girls are looking pretty"

I've been following Viktor Norén's career with great interest for years now, first as part of Swedish rock band Sugarplum Fairy, then with his awesome solo project Viktorious and now with his new band, Viktor and the Blood. "The Blood's" music is a little more raw and rockier than a lot of what I post, but even when it's a bit out of my realm, Viktor's charisma really carries it through. There's a hint of old-school glam in the album's tracks as well, which is completely welcome. Second single Boys Are In The City is an excellent example of this. It's got that sorta sleazy stadium anthem sound written all over it, kind of like a mix between the Rolling Stones and Jet -- lots of power in both the production and vocals while still retaining a pop edge when it comes to the melody. Weirdly, with different production, it wouldn't sound out of place on one of Robbie Williams' first couple albums. High praise indeed!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Kites And Komets - She Lives In Neon Lights

"You can see it in her eyes"

I'm so annoyed that I didn't know about this artist earlier, because it's totally up my alley. Kites And Komets is the moniker of Danish Mikael Kærsgaard, who produces the kind of pop/electro/rock hybrid that this blog was built on. In fact, his music reminds me of the kind of stuff I was able to post regularly in the early years of alienhits. It's got a real funk to it, kind of reminiscent of that band Under The Influence Of Giants (remember them??). He's got a new single out, but it's not on soundcloud yet and I think this, his hit from last year, is a great introduction to the sound. Enjoy!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.