Sunday, February 17, 2008

You've got the best of me, you'll get the rest of what is left

I realized I hadn't actually been doing too much recapping or discussing of the results of Melodifestivalen here, so--though there are a bunch of blogs already doing a great job of that and if you're interested I realize there's a good chance you've already looked up the performances--here are my highlights from the past two weeks. Some are highlights because of the songs (meaning you may need to look beyond the performance), some are highlights because of the performance, and some are highlights because of both.

Also, I should mention that I've decided I'm not going to watch YouTube videos of the performances, at least for a while; after last week's disconnect between how I experienced the performances live (as in real time, not as in actually there!) and what they seemed like on playback, I've decided to avoid that.

The first semifinal featured three songs that so far I can see myself listening to over the course of the year--well, maybe four, if Face-84's "Alla Gamla X" sticks with me. One of the three was dance-pop singer Velvet's "Deja Vu," which failed to make it to the second chance round or to the final. It keeps getting compared to Sonja Aldén's entry "Etymon" from a few years ago, but I prefer this, maybe because it's more danced-up.

Fifteen year old Amy Diamond, however, did make it through to the final with the young-sounding (but not in a bad or limiting way) pop song "Thank You."

Not too many other people--in Sweden or on the Internet--liked Michael Michailoff's "That's Love" like I did. The pop-rock song got compared to Andreas Johnson's entries from 2006 and 2007 as well as Karl Martindahl's "Love Turns Water Into Wine" from 2004, a comparison I can hear, but the payoff part of the chorus here works better for me--whereas after the similar introduction "Love Turns Water Into Wine" gives way to these smooth backing vocals singing "Love turns water into wine," "That's Love" gives you a more powerful, upbeat, singalong-oriented phrase, and that makes a huge difference for me. Ultimately, the chorus gets stuck in my head, and I don't mind it being there.

Onto the second semfinal's performances. Sanna Nielsen caused a real sensation in Sweden with her performance of the ballad "Empty Room," which had her in incredible vocal form (as usual). Sanna-mania is sweeping Sweden at the moment.

Someone not in incredible vocal form (watch out for that shout near the end, Alex!) was Alexander Schöld, but in studio I love his catchy pop-rock song "Den Första Svalan" (also, apparently I have the maturity level of a twelve year old boy, because I'm still not over that title yet). Plus, if his voice bothers you that much, it's an Epicentre song, so I imagine we'll be hearing another singer, probably someone off of an international Idol show, singing it within the next fifteen months. This is one of those songs that I don't expect most Melodifestival fans to love but that is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy.

Rongedal, like Sanna, qualified directly to the final, singing their fun Scissor Sisters/Bee Gees/Mika (take your pick)-esque entry "Just A Minute."

I was expecting to not like Andreas Johnson and Carola Häggkvist's entry "One Love" at all--I thought their earlier single together was just drippy--but not only did they put on a great performance (I even thought Carola was likable in it), I genuinely like their anthemic song. Doesn't mean I wasn't pleased to see them end up in the second chance round, though (now, if only it could have been Ola who got the other direct to final spot--I'm not at all confident in him making it through the second chance round).

...and speaking of Ola: all this is really just filling you in on songs I enjoyed, though, because my heart was totally sold in the three minutes it took for the first song to be performed. Ola may not be my type and his album may have been spotty, but boy, does he have dominion over my musical heart these days--well, him and the people making his best songs. "Love In Stereo" keeps getting compared to John Farnham's "You're The Voice" mixed with upbeat '80's pop, but it's very much in the vein of Ola's earlier hits "Natalie" and "S.O.S." as well. It's exactly what pop should be. Maybe it was the environment I was watching Melodifestivalen in, but I was so shocked to read almost all negative opinions of Ola's performance when perusing the Internet this morning--I thought it was really great. Plus, those chorus lyrics--"Give me love in stereo/Give me more of the attraction/'Cause I'm dying for some more" and "Give me love in stereo/Give me total satisfaction/'Cause I gotta have it all" are just demanding for me to find a use for them somewhere ( profile? Tagline here?). Please, Sweden, please vote him through to the final--I really fear for him, and we only know one of the groups he's up against so far (E-Type and the Poodles). He needs to be there!

I even liked Lasse Lindh's singer-songwritery "Du behöver aldrig mer vara rädd" as well--really, I just enjoyed this semifinal a lot. Great songs and great results--a top four I'm very happy with, even if I might have made one swap in the order.


AcerBen said...

I thought Ola's entry was just okay - not as good as 'S.O.S.' and he totally murdered it last night.

I reckon Charlotte whatsherface is gonna walk it this year. So excited to hear it!

I'm not holding my breath for BWO because their recent stuff has been disappointing IMO.

Jamie said...

Sanna was breath-taking. I love 'Empty Room' so much and am so happy for her that she went direct to the final.

EuropeCrazy said...

I enjoyed last night's show a lot more than the first one, although I think there must be something seriously wrong with me as I didn't find Sanna or Carola totally unbearable for once. Anyway Ola may have looked better than he sounded but I still like "Love In Stereo" and can't wait to hear the full studio version.

Poster Girl said...

See, Ben, that's what I read online, about his performance--but that's not the impression I left with! I'm avoiding YouTubes for everyone, though (which is just about killing me), so I can't rewatch and see whether it just was the atmosphere influencing me. Plus, I'd argue there weren't very many songs in the past few years that were better than "S.O.S"! I kind of feel like BWO are hoping to use this platform to kind of relaunch themselves, and they've teamed up with some really great songwriters for this one, so I am hopeful...

I am too! Talk about world-class vocals. I'm buying that single the very moment I can.

Ha ha! I don't think I'm particularly anti-Carola in terms of her performances, but I was (pleasantly) surprised by the fact that she (in my eyes) came off as likable in that performance.

Kevin said...

Am I the only "Sanna-hater"? I can't that twit. She couldn't be any "boredier" (is that a word? it is now) if she tried. NEXT! Hated all the songs from the last heat. And that, Greek is it, song? WTF was that?

PG, you know where to send the hate mail. :P

Adem With An E said...

My family and I are getting quite excited in the lead up to Eurovision; even my Internet illiterate mother has been watching the YouTube clips you've posted after sending her your way to this particular post.

Mum likes "Love In Stereo" and was pleased to hear of the John Farnham reference being a big Johnny fan herself.

eurovisionessex said...

Well, here is at least one more 'Love in Stereo' fan! It's very unusual to love a song from virtually the opening, but I think those first few beats after the bagpipes at the beginning are sublime. It's such a summery song which, although it has clear 90s influences, still feels very contemporary. I hope he makes it through Andra Chansen, but I won't build my hopes up....

Much better than Gothenburg this week. If only I'd picked Vasteras when I was booking tickets!

Poster Girl said...

Kevin, no--like she said, EuropeCrazy doesn't like her either...usually! Wait, Greek--am I forgetting something? Oh, do you mean Andra generationen? They're Balkan-influenced.

Woo! Though apparently the channel in charge of Melodifestivalen is having all the clips's so exciting; I'm not sure what I'd do if I didn't have national finals season to keep Eurovision fever going longer! I've been listening to "You're The Voice" a lot this week (and then backing it up with one of Ola's songs, like "S.O.S.," and then trying to mentally mash them together to recreate the experience of "Love In Stereo," since I'm not letting myself watch the videos ;) ). I'm sure it's probably not cool, but it really is a great song!

Yes!! That's exactly how I reacted to it as well. Ditto to on the not building hopes up, too--I really don't expect it to advance, though I'd love it to. I know--it's such a shame we can't know in advance which heats are going to be the good ones!

Rick said...

Hey girl -

Probably thanks to SVT, all the youtube videos you posted are down. Try - their MF videos tend to stay up.

Thoughts and pics on MF 2nd heat:

Kevin said...

Ha ha. I'm glad I'm not alone. And I meant to say "boring-ier"! and "can't stand that twit". Oh well.

Yes, that Balkan song, I knew it wasn't Greek... that's just how interested I was. When I was watcjslfgdsdkfgdfgoeuasasa.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Sorry, I fell asleep just talking about this year's MF! :P

Men doing falsetto: Why? Really, Jacko is the only that can get away with it, and even he doesn't do it all the time. Men doing falsetto gets old and tired - very quick! Where are Ten City, Jimmy Sommerville and Scissor Sisters? Nowhere, that's where! :P

Poster Girl said...

Sigh...I was just noticing that. I'll have to follow the Daily Motion advice in the future! Thanks! I've been reading and really enjoying your blog, too (even the non-Swedish content ;) )--I need to start commenting!

I don't hate Kebabpizza song now, but if it had taken a spot in the top 4 and knocked someone more deserving out, my kind of dispassionate reaction to it now would've changed! I'm not really fond of men doing falsetto either, but I liked Rongedal's song--maybe because if something's catchy enough I'll almost always end up falling for it (world: "[choose-an-STD] is catchy too!" Yes, I know) ;)

Adem With An E said...

I really love the idea that, across the other side of the world, someone is listening to a John Farnham pop classic.

Rick said...

Thanks Postergirl for reading my blog - I've been recommending your blog to all the Swedish pop sluts I know as well - no one captures what's good about this music as you do. (plus everything else you write about)

Here's to more great commentary.