Sunday, February 24, 2008

I don't wanna wait until tomorrow

The fourth and final semifinal of Melodifestivalen is this coming Saturday; after that, they'll be a second chance round (Andra Chansen), at which various third and fourth place finishers from all the semifinals are matched up head-to-head in a knockout format until it's narrowed down to two, at which point those two will go to the final, which will take place the week after that. In other words, we've got three Saturdays left of Melodifestivalen: one for the fourth semifinal, one for Andra Chansen, and one for the final. For now, though, here are the artists for this week's semifinal, which is looking to be really tough. Same disclaimer as usual about all this information, and as usual, feel free to correct me or add things!

Sources: Schlagerprofilerna, Gylleneskor, SVT's official Melodifestival site, ESC Today,, QX, Oiko Times (1, 2), MSN, Festival de Eurovisión, Style, P4's Melodifestival site

1.) Niklas Strömstedt, "For många ord om kärlek" (Too Many Words About Love)
This week's joker, Niklas Strömstedt has a music career dating back to the '80's. I guess you could say he's a mature singer-songwriter sort, though some of the songs from his most recent album (from 2001) are kind of lightly poppy (or could be made sort of poppy with minimal changes), from the little I've heard of his work. On the plus side, he did co-write Magnus Carlsson's 2006 entry "Lev Livet!" (as well as Christer Björkman's winning entry in 1992). He says "For många ord om kärlek" is uptempo. He also says the song is a little more pop than schlager and kind of '70's-influenced. Niklas has a new album, Två vagar, coming out March 19.

To watch: well, YouTube doesn't give us too many options, so let's got with this montage set to his 1990 hit "Om"

2.) Calaisa, "If I Could"
Calaisa is a female country-pop group made up of two sets of sisters. They released their self-titled debut album in 2006, preceded by the sweetly-sung single "Hey Girl." The official description of the song says that it's a ballad about losing someone near to you and wanting to do something to get them back. They've been working on a second album.

To watch: the video for their single "Hey Girl"

3.) Daniel Mitsogiannis, "Pame"
Ooo, now here's a brand new artist whose song I'm very interested to hear! Granted, Fredrik Kempe--who, among other songs, wrote last year's "Cara Mia"--says that out of his tracks in this year's contest, Charlotte Perrelli's "Hero" is his favorite, but I still have hopes that "Pame" will be good. In fact, speaking of "Cara Mia," Daniel sang on the demo version of that last year (as well as the originally English demo of Mathias Holmgren's "Långt bortom tid och rum" from 2005), making me even more hopeful of a similar revelation from "Pame" this year--though I'm trying not to let my expectations get too high. Also, apparently he and Måns sang it differently, which doesn't mean his version was necessarily worse but does mean maybe we shouldn't expect a Måns redux here...then again, Henrik Wikström, the other writer, describes the song as "'Cara Mia' with ethnic influences." As you might have guessed from the title, "Pame" has Greek influences (apparently it means "Let's go" or something like that); it's also said to be uptempo and danceable (Daniel says it's "happy, speedy, and explosive" and like a male version of Helena Paparizou). In terms of not particularly relevant or useful information, Daniel already has an official site set up in a similar style to those of Charlotte Perrelli and Linda Bengtzing--does he have management that have a lot of faith in the song or did he just hire the same people himself?

To watch: I can't find any videos of him singing whatsoever, so let's just watch the first performance of "Cara Mia" from last year again. It's still a rush. You know, I've really enjoyed this year, but now that I'm thinking about it, has any song really got me as excited as "Cara Mia" did? I have a feeling, though, that I'll get that this week, and hopefully from the song up next...

4.) Linda Bengtzing, "Hur svårt kan det va?" (How Difficult Can It Be?)
Oh Sweden--I'm begging you: I need Linda in the final. As absolutely exciting as it is to have so many upsets going on, it worries me greatly for this round. Linda participated in Fame Factory, but her real establishment as a singer came with 2005's "Alla Flickor," a schlager song which may very well be the best song ever--a statement which would be easier to get away with if her followup 2006 entry "Jag ljuger så bra" wasn't so close in quality that it's easy to prefer it depending on the day. She released an album as well in 2006, and in 2007 she had a huge hit in Sweden in the form of her and Markoolio's jokey "Värsta Schlagern." Her entry this year is by the same people that gave us "Alla Flickor" and her second single "Diamanter" (and who have also worked on her upcoming album), among a bunch of other great songs. It was also originally described as being influenced by '60's schlager (there was also one early reference to it being a little bit like "Grace Kelly," but before everyone starts going into conniptions, that seems doubtful and I've heard absolutely nothing to make that sound accurate since), but all recent writing about it has referred to it as sounding very modern but being a "classic schlager" (so yes, it has a key change). Linda says the song is a girl singing to a guy about how he's stupid for not realizing she's the best thing that's ever happened to him. I have absolute faith in this track being completely a-maz-ing and March 19, the release date of her new album, Vild & Galen, cannot get here soon enough. Fact: Linda's on the cover of at least two weekly or monthly magazines in Sweden this month--please let that be an indication of her popularity in Sweden...

To watch: her performance of "Jag ljuger så bra" at the 2006 final

5.) Nordman, "I lågornas sken" (In The Flame's Light)
Eek. I wish we could just take Nordman (who in their 2005 semifinal qualified directly to the final, while Alcazar and Linda Bengtzing had to go to Andra Chansen) out of this heat--I don't want them as a threat to my favorites. Sigh. Maybe I'm being kind of unfair here, but I just don't go in for gruff male voices, a fact that makes it difficult for me to appreciate Nordman's work. The writers of "I lågornas sken" did give us Jessica Andersson's "Kom" and Magnus Backlund's "The Name Of Love"--not classics, but not songs to make you instantly reach for the mute button either (and I actually really like "The Name Of Love"). Still, whether or not the writers call this a pop song and Nordman say it's "more schlager" (really? That doesn't fit with what I know of their work at all), I'm having trouble mustering much enthusiasm for a song that was stirring up controversy for its stage performance including the simulation of a witchburning onstage--it's not so much the act I'm upset with as I can't really imagine a song I like being conducive to that performance. Then again, the band do claim that it will be "beautiful and dramatic"--who knows, maybe it'll be a fantastic bombastic song (I wouldn't bet on it, to say the least). For the sake of the other songs in this heat, though, I'm almost hoping not. They've got a new album coming out March 12.

To watch: oddly enough, I can't find a video of their Melodifestival performance, but you can listen to the audio of it below, attached to a Lion King montage

6.) Sibel, "That Is Where I'll Go"
2007 gave us Sebastian and Måns (could have been Agnes) from the second season of Swedish Idol; 2008 brings us Ola and Sibel from the same season. Sibel finished third, behind Agnes and Sebastian, and will finally get a chance at commercial success with this power ballad. The song's writer says it's a big ballad about unconditional love. It starts out small and grows for the end and includes a lot of long high notes. For some reason, I see it as having a very good chance to do well. She (like seemingly most of the contestants this year) has an album due to come out this spring; it's called Diving Belle and comes out March 12.

To watch: her performance of (Niklas Stömstedt's) "Sista Morgonen" on Idol

7.) Fronda, "Ingen mår så bra som jåg" (No One Feels As Good As Me)
2007's Melodifestival saw two entries disqualified: first Agnes's, and then Fronda's, thus allowing Lustans Lakejer and Måns Zelmerlöw to enter the competition. Fronda's entry was disqualified because he sang the demo of it but he (/his record company) refused to sing it at the contest, at least not by himself (not all demo singers will go on to sing the song at Melodifestivalen, but SVT can choose to demand that the demo singer do so and disqualify the song if the demo singer refuses). This year, the rapper will be participating with a song that its writers describe as an uptempo party song with danceable rap beats and funny lyrics. Fronda adds that it's not a pure hip-hop track, more like "balkan-ska."

To watch: a montage (well, more like one photo) set to his song "En stor stark"

8.) Charlotte Perrelli, "Hero"
...or, as fans of Eurovision but not followers of Swedish music would know her as, Charlotte Nilsson. Charlotte was Eurovision in 1999 singing "Take Me To Your Heaven," and she's released four albums since then (if you like your upbeat schlager, her Gone Too Long album has some songs you'll definitely want to hear), with another one (in English) due out this April (which she says she wants to promote beyond Sweden). Charlotte hasn't entered Melodifestivalen since winning it in 1999, though it's often been rumored she'd be participating; her decision to finally enter again this year has a lot of people thinking her song must be something very special--and with the writers it has, that's a very strong possibility: Fredrik Kempe and Bobby Ljunggren (who's been involved in way too many Melodifestival songs to list here). The official description of "Hero" says it's a dance and rock song, and it's also been said to be uptempo, have a great chorus and a really good beat, and be a modern pop song, not "Take Me To Your Heaven" part II. Charlotte says it tells a good story and is an uptempo dance-pop song that is a little bit rockier than "Take Me To Your Heaven" (though she points out that "rockier" is relative and she'll still be doing schlager songs), and will be a good way to establish her "new style." The performance involves a lot of dancing and girls in 10 cm tall heels, and the song has been said to be a potential winner of the whole contest as well as a great song that only gets better with each listen.

To watch: well, I could embed her winning performance of "Take Me To Your Heaven," but let's go with something more recent, a performance of her most recent single (but not the most recent of songs), the schlager-disco-pop "Jag är tillbaks"

It's easy for me to make my "who do I want to go through without having heard the songs" decision this week: Linda--I'm so worried for her; she has to make it--and Charlotte to the final. The trouble is, I can see all too many potential threats from the other contestants that could prevent that from happening.

Incidentally, in March and April we're getting new albums from Linda, Charlotte, and Sanna?! Now if only Lena Philipsson would release something new, it'd be pretty much the perfect year.

In a side note related to this past Saturday's semifinal, I read online--well, why don't I just quote it, but this is all [sic]:

"Currently he [Oscar Görres] is composing and producing a record for the artist Therese Andersson performing under the name Evan. Therese Andersson is also classically schooled and sings in the genre pop/ballad."

Now, Oscar's not Evan (he co-wrote some songs on Danny's album and co-wrote Donal Skehan's "Double Cross My Heart" and LoveShy's "Mr. Gorgeous") nor is Therese, so I have no idea what to make of that, but it's at least nice to know that a record is in the works. Therese also said in an interview that Pay TV are still working on their album, though if her solo album comes out at the rate of that album, we'll still be waiting for it in 2010. Once again going off on a tangent, Oscar Görres's official site that I linked to above allows you (in the "Media" section) to listen to a clip of a Danny song called "Alive" (it's also on his MySpace). Song they wrote together but that didn't make the cut? Song that was reworked into a song that eventually made the album? I've got no idea (though if it's really obvious or something please let me know!).


AcerBen said...

Thanks for your previews each week - they're very informative! I haven't bothered writing about MF on my blog at all this year yet because nothing's really excited me. But I have high hopes for Charlotte's entry and I suspect it's going to be the winner.

Baszjuh said...

Im really excited about Pame :D Let's hope its something good, greek influenced songs almost never let me down. Loved Sofia's Hypnotized last year as well, though she couldn't sing live very well... let's hope Daniel does better :)

EuropeCrazy said...

Thanks for another great preview.

Looking forward to next week. I've enjoyed MF as usual this year but I still don't think we've heard the winner yet. Or maybe I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the introductions PG, always a joy to read!

Charlotte and Linda I have the biggest hopes in.
But Calaisa had some sweet songs, I hope it will work.


Yuяi said...

I really like "Cara Mia"! Great song!

And the Charlotte disco number was good too.

Didn't even know they had country-pop acts in Sweden!! I guess there must be a market for that then. :)

Poster Girl said...

You're welcome! They're kind of getting ridiculously long at this point, though...I'm really looking forward to Charlotte's entry as well! It should be FANTASTIC.

I love "Hypnotized" too! :D Fingers crossed for a great song and good vocals.

I think there's a very good chance you're right--there are some songs I would be happy to see win, but I think this semifinal will really add that...pop we're all looking for.

No problem--and thank you! :D I really like the Calaisa songs I've heard, too--"sweet" is a perfect word for them. I hope they really benefit from the contest. It's so difficult to know what the results of this heat are going to be.

Yay, Yuri! :D It is a great song. I know--you wouldn't guess there was much of a market, would you? I mean, from what I know, the UK, for example, doesn't have one, nor do most European countries...but Sweden must. One of the big stars there is Jill Johnson, who's kind of like a Swedish Shania Twain.

eurovisionessex said...

I have a confession to make. Until today, I had never heard 'Alla Flickor'. Boy, was it worth waiting for! I think you may be right in saying that it is quite possibly the best song ever, and Sweden was mad in not sending it to Kiev in 2005. I can't see how it wouldn't have won Eurovision and it makes the choice of 'Las Vegas' even more puzzling than it already was. I'm keeping everything crossed for Linda! Great review as usual, by the way :-)

Kevin said...

WTF was Thérèse Andersson's sh*t? Seriously, that was like the worst thing I've ever heard! Then again, I'm no fan of PayTV. They are like a much-less talentless Britney, times 3.

Just as I thought, this year's MF has been a huge disappointment. I have no hopes for this week's. We shall see. :P

Poster Girl said...

Yay! I'm so glad you've finally got to hear the complete joy that is "Alla Flickor"! I's not just that "Las Vegas" beat out Nanne (bad enough in itself), it's that it beat out so many other great songs! Thanks, too :)

I don't think her song sounded anything like Pay TV...I really liked it, and her performance! We have totally different opinions on Melodifestivalen, too--I've really enjoyed this year's, and I think we'll get some great songs out of this coming semifinal.

Len said...

Euro-Essex, the reason "Alla Flickor" lost out in MF 2005 is quite a famous story, even Linda's Wikipedia entry mentions it. To put it kindly, Linda was an unseasoned performer at the time, and her live rendition "lacked confidence". The less kind version is that when she performed it live, the backing tracks changed key for the last verse,& Linda forgot to...

Poster Girl said...

Oh yes, I did forget to mention that fact! ;) It's the reason I went with embedding "Jag ljuger så bra" over "Alla flickor." I think (hope) she'll be good this year, though--her performance at the Globen in 2006 was good and she's been doing a lot of touring and performing since then.