Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shake your body, the beats keep on pumpin'

Third round of Melodifestivalen this coming weekend! Once again, I'm no expert, so feel free to add things or correct me, and I've not heard any of these songs or even talked to anyone who has--it's really just my attempt at a round-up of information that we all have access to online, as well as some background information for people new to the contest.

Sources: Schlagerprofilerna, Gylleneskor, SVT's official Melodifestivalen site, Wikipedia, Plugged, Caracola Fansite, P4's rundown, QX's rundown, Mera Nöje, Metro,, and BWO's official site

1.) BWO, "Lay Your Love On Me"
Probably the big guns out of this heat, BWO are a three person group masterminded by Alexander Bard, who's also been involved with groups like Army of Lovers and Alcazar. The other two members are Marina Schiptjenko and lead singer Martin Rolinski, who appeared on a series of Popstars in Sweden. If you've never heard their music, hurry out and buy their debut album Prototype right now--it's packed full of fantastic pop (one of the best pop albums of the '00's, I'd say) and was an incredibly exciting arrival upon the music scene when it came out. Their first Melodifestival entry, 2005's "Gone," is easily one of their weakest tracks, but they more than made up for that in Melodifestivalen 2006 with the pop stomper "Temple Of Love," which was only prevented from winning the contest by the comeback (after fifteen years away from Melodifestivalen) of Carola. If "Lay Your Love On Me" is as good as "Temple Of Love," we should all be getting very excited. The song's writers say it's a dramatic electronic disco track. BWO also say the uptempo track isn't "Temple Of Love" mark 2 and is more melodic than that song; also, they'll be wearing "avantgarde" outfits. Reviews so far of it have been very positive, but (from what I've read) not very specific...hopefully we'll get more news as Saturday approaches. Henrik Wikström, one of the writers, does compare the track to Madonna's "Sorry," though (as did Alexander, along with "Hung Up"), and an Aftonbladet reviewer says that "Lay Your Love On Me" is dramatic electronic pop that perfectly suits Martin's voice, has a fantastic chorus, and is even better than "Temple Of Love." After releasing three albums (excluding their remix album), they'll be releasing a greatest hits, titled Pandemonium, this April; in addition to "Lay Your Love On Me," it'll have two other new songs.

To watch: their performance of "Temple Of Love" at the final of Melodifestivalen 2006--WANT! LOVE! Ohh-ohH-OHh-OHH!

2.) Mickey Huskic, "Izdajice"
Mickey's kind of an unknown factor here, since I don't think he's released any music commercially before (by himself--he is part of a band)...though apparently he's tried to enter Melodifestivalen a bunch of times before. The song's official description says that it's a ballad with Balkan influences, with "Izdajice" meaning "betrayal." It nearly qualified for last year's Melodifestival. There's got to be a cello in it somewhere, since a beauty pageant winner will be playing it for the song. Apparently it could be compared to Bosnia Herzegovina's 2006 entry. Also, the song is all in Bosnian, I think. Mickey's recently signed a deal with Universal and is working on an album.

To watch listen: a montage set to a song of his, "Kazna za sve;" alternatively, you can watch a live performance of the song here

3.) Frida feat. Headline, "Upp o. Hoppa" (Get Up And Jump)
Frida (Muranius, not part of ABBA) had a hit this past spring/summer with "Dunka mig gul och blå," a light singer-songwritery kind of song that played with rhythms a little bit in a way that I guess could be construed as hip-hop influenced...and probably should be interpreted to be, given that Headline is said to rap on "Upp o. Hoppa." In fact, the beginning of the official description for "Upp o Hoppa" could almost apply to Frida's earlier hit: singer-songwriter hiphop with African guitars (here about living life while you can). Then again, "Upp o. Hoppa" is said to be an uptempo track. Schlagerprofilerna says they've heard it's pop-rap that you want to dance to and sing with. As a kind of irrelevant aside, the song was originally announced as being called "Leva livet," but then retitled.

To watch: the video for "Dunka mig gul och blå"

4.) Thérèse Andersson, "When You Need Me"
Thérèse (those accent marks are going to get annoying quickly) is best known to Swedish pop fans as one-third of (I can't even begin to think of what adjective to use to describe Pay TV's we're-too-cool-for-you electro-pop stylings--"snarky" isn't aloof enough) Pay TV. What does her solo participation in Melodifestivalen mean for that group? I have no idea--maybe Robpop does? Her song "When You Need Me" is officially described as a combination of pop, musical, and Celtic influences with a message about daring to love again. Thérèse says when people hear the first verse they'll think "oh, another rock chick," but then when the chorus hits they'll wonder if it's the same song. It's co-written by Evan of "Under Your Spell" from Melodifestivalen 2006, and he describes the song as a mix of Sarah Brightman and Nightwish, adding that it's uptempo, has some guitars, and switches back and forth between genres, with the chorus being pure opera. Gylleneskor compares it to Slovenia's 2007 entry in Eurovision.

To watch: Pay TV's performance of "Refrain Refrain" at Melodifestivalen 2005

5.) Patrik Isaksson & Bandet, "Under Mitt Tunna Skinn" (Under My Thin Skin)
Singer-songwriter Patrik Isaksson had success around the turn of the century in Sweden, but 2006 marked a relaunch or comeback of sorts for him. His song "Faller Du Så Faller Jag," a piano-based ballad, may have qualified to the second chance round and just barely failed to qualify to the final from there (it took third), but it went on to be a hit for him; additionally, it was very well received critically. How do you follow up an entry that some critics viewed as one of the best ballads in Melodifestivalen in recent years (or period)? Not with a ballad, apparently, but more with a typical song for him, one with a powerful/pounding chorus--but also with a song that's said to not be quite as good as his previous entry.

To watch: well, I'm obligated to post his performance of "Faller Du Så Faller Jag" from Melodifestivalen 2006 (which bafflingly didn't show up on YouTube when I used YouTube's search function and typed in his name), but I do want to mention that I fell in love with his very very MOR ballad with Sarah Dawn Finer, "Du Som Tog Mitt Hjärta," last year. I really like his earlier hit "Hos dig är jag underbar" as well, and that's faster and with more of a punchy chorus, as is another earlier hit, "Ruta 1"

6.) Caracola, "Smiling In Love"
I have high hopes for a good song from this girl group! Caracola (if P4 can be believed, they're named after the Spanish word for "conch"--like the shell) have released two albums of dance-influenced pop, one in Swedish and one in English (well, I swear I remember seeing that they released an English album--called Love Alive or something, I think--and even almost buying it, but now some traces of that seem to have been erased from the Internet; it included many English versions of their earlier Swedish songs), but have yet to really break out in Sweden. "Smiling In Love" is another case of very good things being said but me not knowing many specifics; it's said to be a good modern happy pop song, and the girls themselves say it's catchy Caracola-type schlager. With luck, they'll be the year's Cosmo4--though hopefully they'll get a higher ranking! They're planning to release an album, This Is Caracola, this spring.

To watch: well...there's a non-professional video of them performing "Mango Nights" embedded below

7.) Ainbusk, "Jag saknar dig ibland" (I Miss You Sometimes)
This is a group I know nothing about--I guess they had some hits (big hits) back in the '90s. Josefine Nilsson, one of the members, competed in Melodifestivalen 2005 with "Med hjärtats egna ord." "Jag saknar dig ibland" is apparently a good ballad about regret and has a similar feel to Sonja Aldén's "För att du finns" from last year (with which it shares a creator). It starts with piano and then builds and has a big chorus. Schlagerprofilerna says that it's been said that it could have been a good comeback song for Shirley Clamp if she'd wanted to return to Melodifestivalen.

To watch listen: a montage set to their '90's hit "Lassie" (co-written by Benny Andersson)--there's a long talking bit at the beginning

8.) Eskobar, "Hallelujah New World"
Not your typical Melodifestival group, Eskobar are an indie-pop or alt-pop group that has been releasing music since the late '90s. They're also this week's joker/wildcard. Schlagerprofilerna reports that it's rumored (though how strongly, I have no idea) that "Hallelujah New World" is Eskobar's best song ever. Their song is also said to be uptempo with a clap-friendly section in the middle, and the band says the song is big/grand. They've got an album called Death In Athens coming out this March.

To watch: their 2002 hit single with Heather Nova, "Someone New"


Paul said...

I'm very excited about BWO and anything to do with the marvelous group makes my skin tingle with anticipation. So that song I am eager to hear and see and devour and get far too excited over.

Fashion notes. Frida and Headline ~ Headline needs to ditch the scarf. I completely blame Robyn for people thinking it's still fashionable to wear scarves this way. It isn't!! I thought the pictures of Robyn were old, but she's still doing it. Clearly it's my pet peeve :P Having said that i shall negate everything by saying i'm all for people expressing themselves through (WRONG) fashion choices :P

Poster Girl said...

I'm very excited about it as well--though trying to keep my hopes from getting too high, since I don't want to get disappointed! Ha ha at your last comment about personal style and wrong fashion choices.

Jamie said...

Paul's comments are hilarious. I still have a friend who wears scarves and I actively tell him he looks ridiculous.

I'm very excited by the semi-final with BWO, Caracola and Thérèse Andersson. Looks like another Saturday night watching the MF streaming when I should be getting ready to go out.

EuropeCrazy said...

Great write-up - really appreciate all the hard work that you put into your unmissable blog.

BWO!!! I'm so excited about seeing and hearing them next week.

Men in scarves LOL - well I suppose it's not too surprising as Eurovision is the spiritual home of the fashion faux pas so I guess some of the MF contestants are just getting in on the act :-))

Yuяi said...

"Temple of Love" is a great song! I had not seen this performance before! "Conquering America" is probably my fave BWO song of the moment.

For a sec there, I was like "Man, Frida's looking young these days!" But of course, wrong Frida! Why do I always think there is just 1 Frida?? :P

Nick said...

I'm really excited about the possibility of the Eskobar song being great. I love the guy's voice and I've been hoping for an uptempo from them forever.

Poster Girl said...

Speaking of scarves, I saw a clip of Enrique Iglesias today in some sort of promo video for that "Push" song of his and thought of Paul--he had on a scarf too!

Me too! And yup, that sounds like what I'll be doing again as well...

Thanks so much! :) I am too!

"Conquering America" is a-maz-ing. One of my all-time favorite BWO songs, for sure. At one point I was even going to use that instrumental bit that comes after the first vocal at the beginning as my ringtone on my phone...but then I was too lazy to figure out how.

I really don't know very much of their music at all, but I LOVE "Someone New"--I'm really excited to hear their track as well, and I imagine if it's great that'll probably prompt me to go investigate them further (which I should probably do anyway). I wonder exactly what the reviewer's idea of "uptempo" was...I wonder if it's "just" soaring and anthemic so that's the word they used?