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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat Four

Here we are at the last Heat for MF 2015. Historically, this tends to be the strongest round, and from the sounds of it this year will be no different. So I'm prepared for some heartbreak with regards to the results. Luckily, by the time it's all over we'll have the full album to enjoy.

EDIT: Sanna singing En Vogue is not something I ever imagined I'd see...

EDIT: Oh my god. Now she's rapping.... badly...

EDIT: JTR and Mans won the audience pre-applause unofficial vote, though I don't necessarily think that means much this week.

MIDNIGHT BOY: Wow, Kristoffer from Melody Club looks so different now! All I know about Midnight Boy is that I need an album, now. I don't care how he does this week. I just want more music. This is the kind of 80's pastiche I live for.

CAROLINE: What the hell was up with her intro? That aside, the song in full is not as good as I hoped it would be. I like the drama and bombast of the production, but the chorus feels kind of weak. Although she's done well in the past, I don't think this will be her night.

JTR: They seem to have a lot of support in the audience. I'm just not sold. The song itself sounds like something One Direction would have turned down. It's just too predictable and trendy for me. Plus, they're still annoying and tryhard.

HASSE: He seems to be a favorite if the odds are to be believed. Plus, a song (and artist) like this almost always makes it to the final to represent the older viewing audience. It might happen again today, but the song just isn't that great. If he gets through, it'll be based on name and genre alone. There have been SO many better dansband entries in the past.

DINAH NAH: This song could be so much better, but the production certainly is impactful, especially coming off the heels of the last entry. I don't see this doing well, though. I think Isa got all of these particular votes last week. Straight up dance/club music rarely does that well in MF, historically.

ANNIKA: Ugh. A ballad. I think this lady has a certain cache with the Swedish public because of Frozen, but the song is boring me to death. Next, please.

MANS: I like this a lot, and that staging is really, really cool. Surely it'll go direct to the final and retain its place as one of the frontrunners. As far as Eurovision-esque entries, it's probably between this and Jon's from last week (though I like Midnight Boy's song better).

To Final - Mans and Hasse (unfortunately)
AC - JTR and maybe Caroline? Or, in a just world, Midnight Boy

Top 5 - Dinah (!), JTR, Caroline, Mans, Hasse
6th - Annika
7th - Midnight Boy (told ya it'd do poorly)

To Final - JTR (ugh!), Mans
AC - Dinah (!), Hasse
Out - Caroline


Friday, February 27, 2015

Melodifestivalen 2015: Heat Four - Preliminary Judgment

This is it, the final Heat that will decide if this year's competition can be salvaged or if it will go down as an unfortunate bump in the road. Let's see what this week's clips reveal!

(Listen to clips here)

1. Midnight Boy - Don't Say No
Based on the names involved, this was easily my most anticipated song of the entire competition. Based on the clip, I'm happy to say that it's my first "5" score of the year. I love everything about it. I hope it does well, but honestly it sounds too good for this year's MF so it probably won't.  5/5

2. Caroline Wennergren - Black Swan
I shouldn't like this, but it has some undeniable bombast that's really intriguing me. It sounds like Caroline Af Ugglas tackling some bluesy Jim Steinman track. Could be amazing. 4/5

3. JTR - Building It Up
I found them quite cheesy and annoying on X-Factor AU. This also sounds quite cheesy, but that fits much better in the context of MF. It also sounds very paint-by-numbers, so right now it's a pretty average score.  3/5

4. Hasse Andersson - Guld och gröna skogar (Gold and Green Forests)
I love dansband, but this is not my favorite slice of the genre. It's totally old man rock, and there's always one like it in MF each year. In such a boring year, this is actually kind of comforting. Doesn't make it good, though. 2.5/5

5. Dinah Nah - Make Me (La La La)
Why are all the decent songs in this heat? Now, this is nothing special at all, but it's a dance pop sound that has been sorely missing from this year's competition. The chorus sound catchy. I'm very curious about the verses. 3.5/5

6. Annika Herlitz - Ett andetag (One Breath)
Firmly in the "plodding ballad" territory that Ryan Tedder has unfortunately popularized. It doesn't sound as dirgey as some of them... at least there seems to be a spark of life in the performance. Still, it's nothing new or exciting.  2.5/5

7. Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes
I already like it miles better than Eric's song from week one. This is supposed to the big track of the week. It's not my favorite, but I'm SO happy that it seems to have the grand, epic sound that characterizes the best MF entries. I need to hear more to see just how much I like it. 4/5

Wow! Why the hell didn't they spread these songs out across the four weeks? This is easily, by a laughably wide margin, the strongest week this year... and that's just from hearing the clips! Finally, I'm looking forward to a MF Saturday again.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Max Elto - Somebody Like You

"I found comfort"

Scandinavia is regaining my attention, and the funny thing is, it's not in the way I'd have expected. Melodifestivalen has always been a reliable source of awesome pop music each February, but this year I've found it very disappointing so far. Something miraculous may come out of the final heat this weekend, but I'm not holding my breath. But meanwhile, there have been a string of under-the-radar pop songs trickling out from the region -- most of which from artists who've had little to their name thus far. Max Elto, a Swedish duo, are at the very peak of this winter wave. Some songs just click with me the very first time I hear them. I certainly know what I like, and there are specific styles of production and songwriting that appeal to me instantly. The surging, anthemic 80's dance of Somebody Like You is in that category. I didn't even need to hear the whole track to know that I'd be enthusiastically featuring it today. Keep stuff like this coming, Scandinavia. It's what I love you for!

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


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vetle - I Let Go

"Where is the girl I used to know"

Vetle Jarandsen's debut track has a very Scandinavian sound, sort of a cross between A-Ha and the Sound Of Arrows. From the soft-edged vocals to the soaring, yet somehow subtle, production, this is the kind of sound that makes me fall in love with a song even before I've heard the entire thing. I know very little about Vetle, other than the fact that he's from Norway. I really hope that this is the genre he plans to stick with for future releases, because I have a very empty Sound of Arrows-shaped hole in my heart that desperately needs filling. I know that it's not the type of production that's trendy right now, but it has lasting power and appeal. I can't wait to hear what he gives us next.

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


Monday, February 23, 2015

Swiss Lips - Books

"I wanna see you burn it up"

Swiss Lips are my kind of rock band, the kind that was in incredible fashion when this blog started but is all too elusive now. They're the kind of rock group that write synth-bolstered pop songs with emphasis on anthemic hooks. I featured them here ages ago, and have since been subscribing to their new stuff on soundcloud (even if I haven't been as diligent on staying up to date as I could have). When Books unexpectedly appeared on my feed, I clicked play and was instantly reminded why I love these guys. That icy 80's synth that opens the track drew me in immediately, but it's that sledgehammer chorus that captured me completely. In an alternate world, this should be getting the airplay that bands like Imagine Dragons and Fallout Boy are enjoying. Their debut album is out in a couple of weeks, so make sure you check it out!

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