Monday, November 30, 2009

I did it for love

I wasn't sure there was much point to going over the recently announced artists for half of 2010's Melodifestival songs considering there were few surprises in terms of known names--in fact, I'm still not sure there is--but hey, it's tradition, right? The songs for the first two semifinals, complete with artists, the songwriters' descriptions of the songs, and a few of my thoughts (see also my earlier post for more complete thoughts about the songwriters themselves and notes on some of the artists; also, beyond being grouped by semifinal, the songs aren't in running order) are below, along with notes from other websites. As always, I have absolutely no inside connections, so any comments about actual quality--not just regurgitated press release stuff--is from other sites, which I try to always cite. See my sources before, SVT's official site (source of most of these photos), QX, Aftonbladet, Gylleneskor, and Expressen (1, 2). For general Melodifestival coverage, I also highly recommend Schlagerprofilerna, Gylleneskor, and Scandipop; hopefully Tobbe will be back in time for the contest.

Semifinal 1 (February 6, 2010):

A Place To Stay
Artist: Jenny Silver
Composers: Torben Hedlund

A singer in '90s group Candela who Anders Nundstedt of Expressen describes as the "dansband chick gone punkrocker," Jenny Silver (née Ohlund) is performing a song described by its creator as dark, minimalistic, melancholy and hopeful pop song suitable for clubs which makes people feel beautiful and sexy. That's not at all the style of music I would have expected her to be singing, but I guess that peak makes me slightly more interested in a song I might otherwise have had no real thoughts about. It's still not high on my excitement list, though.

I Did It For Love
Artist: Jessica Andersson
Composers: Kristian Wejshag (text), Lars "Dille" Diedricson (musik)
Jessica, a former member of the previously Melodifestival-winning duo Fame, appears in the contest as a solo singer for the third time, but I can't get nearly as excited about this new entry, despite some positive buzz around it. The songwriters say "I Did It For Love" is an emotionally-charged beautiful ballad about the pain and dejectedness of a love story. In a QX interview, Jessica says "I Did It For Love" is a big, beautiful ballad in all its simplicity.

Keep On Walking
Artist: Salem Al Fakir
Composers: Salem Al Fakir
This semifinal's joker, piano man Salem Al Fakir is, for lack of a better phrase, a credible singer-songwriter, but don't let that scare you off entirely; he's also the author and singer of the transporting song "It's Only You (Part II)," which I listed as one of my favorite singles of 2008 and still thrill to whenever I hear on television via a car ad. Granted, that song was a reworking of an original version which I didn't love quite as much, but I'm still thrilled for Laura of EuropeCrazy that the artist she loves so much will be in the contest (plus I dare you to find another critically praised album from this year that contains a joyful '70s-styled song warning about the dangers of picking up an STD if you engage in free love--Salem may make serious ballads, but he's definitely got a sense of humor, too). Salem says "Keep On Walking" is in his usual style and is a peppy song about picking oneself up and still going on even after one has fallen.

Road Salt
Artist: Pain Of Salvation
Composers: Daniel Gildenlöw
Rock band Pain of Salvation will be performing this self-written song, which they call a delicate track, a rock ballad which isn't hard rock but rather more on the quiet side, that refuses to give up about a trip to person's dark corner where we don't want to be seen but are (yeah, the little Swedish I had while abroad is fading fast, so I'd welcome help on clarifying that). As you'd expect, my default reaction to this entry is skepticism--rock that relishes in the darker, creepier corners of the music scene (which is how I'd characterize the bits I've heard of this group's music) isn't really where I spend my personal time (when it comes to rock, I tend to like it big, full of hooks, mainstream-friendly, and decidedly un-creepy), so I can't say this is an entry that my personal taste is making me look forward to.

Artist: Frispråkarn
Composers: Håkan Bäckström (text), Hamed K-One Pirouzpanah (musik)
Rapper Frispråkarn will be performing a song which he and his cowriter (who also worked on Ola's "Sky's The Limit" amidst a host of more R&B tracks) say is a mix of hip-hop and R&B that has a crazy dancey beat with vivid lyrics.

The Saviour
Artist: Anders Ekborg
Composers: Henrik Janson, Tony Nilsson
"The Saviour" replaces disqualified song "Åt helvete för sent." Theater star Anders Ekborg (who is releasing an album this spring) is one of many Melodifestival debutants this year, and he's performing a song by by the team who wrote Ola's 2008 entry "Love In Stereo." Anders' song, though, is described by its writers as a cross between Freddie Mercury and Pavarotti which is about saving the world with music, and Anders says it's grand and difficult to sing. Usually I'm kind of skeptical about opera in pop songs ("La Voix" was an exception), but this sounds interesting, if nothing else, and it has songwriters I like attached to it.

Artist: Ola
Composers: Alexander Kronlund, Hanif Sabzevari, Dimitri Stassos, Ola Svensson
All these Ola connections...and now we've finally got the real thing! I can't overstate how excited I am about Alexander Kronlund writing a song for Ola--he knows his way around pop, as I went over in my earlier MF post. The official Melodifestival site isn't listing any of the usual details about this entry, so I'll just restate what I said before: a modern uptempo pop song which has a positive buzz around it suggesting it's of the class of "Natalie," Ola's breakout hit...a real radio hit. Ola told QX that "Unstoppable" shows off his new harder sound and is in a different style from what he's done previously. One of my most anticipated songs of the contest, for sure.

You're Making Me Hot-Hot-Hot
Artist: Linda Pritchard
Composers: Johan Fransson, Tim Larsson, Tobias Lundgren
I LOVE this team of songwriters. Not 100% quality, but darn close, and when they do get it right, they get it right BIG TIME (Linda Bengzting's "Alla flickor" and "Hur svårt kan det va?", Jessica Andersson's "Kalla nätter," Alcazar's "Alcastar," Jessica Folcker's "Om natten," etc.). Linda, who competed in the early stages of Idol, has only given us one taste of her solo work so far, a cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car," but I doubt it's worth more than a mention since it's not by these writers, who say their song is uptempo pop with a Latin style. I wish they'd left off the "Latin style" part--just a fantastic pop or schlager-pop or disco-pop song is what I'd like from them--but this is still one of the entries I'm excited to hear. Linda adds in an interview with QX that "You're Making Me Hot-Hot-Hot" is a swinging party song which you can't sit still for

Semifinal 2 (February 13, 2010):

Come And Get Me Now
Artist: not yet clear
Composers: Mia Terngård (text & musik), Stefan Lebert (musik)
The webjoker winner, so we've already heard it, at least in an early form. Suffice to say it would not have been my choice.

Hippare Hoppare
Artist: Andra generationen & Dogge
Composers: Vlatko Ancevski, Vlatko Gicarevski, Douglas Leon, Mats Nilsson, Teddy Paunkoski, Otis Sandsjö, Stevan Tomulevski
Balkan style mixed with hip hop--yup, that's what you'd expect from Balkan-flavored band Andra generationen and rapper Dogge. They also refer to the song as being Balkan reggaeton. Oh joy, oh rapture.

Innan alla ljusen brunnit ut
Artist: Anna-Maria Espinosa
Composers: Danne Attlerud (text), Stefan Woody (musik)
Anna-Maria's own sound is a sort of indie-pop-rock. Credible. Her entry--with music composed by someone whose name I only know from MissMatch's "Drop Dead"--is said to convey a frank feeling of loss.

Artist: Eric Saade
Composers: Peter Boström (musik), Fredrik Kempe (text & musik)
Eric, formerly a member of boy band What's Up who has done Disney work and is dating Molly Sandén, will be singing this uptempo song which its writers--of Charlotte Perrelli's "Hero" amongst many others--say has an exciting dynamic. In an interview with QX, Eric says "Manboy" has some mysterious, slightly dangerous-feeling elements--hard or strong, not wimpy. Rumor has it this could be a "Cara Mia"-level song. No surprise--it's one I'm looking forward to (and the idea of Fredrik/Peter pop but with a slightly harder sound is just what I wanted).

Incidentally, in that same interview with QX, Eric says he's releasing a single called "Sleepless" which is also by Fredrik and Peter, which is thrilling to me--I didn't think we'd get a taste of his music until February or March, but we must be hearing "Sleepless" before that. Unsurprisingly, Eric's official site says he's planning to release an album in 2010.

Artist: Hanna Lindblad
Composers: Sarah Lundbäck, Hayden Bell, Erik Lewander, Iggy Strange-Dahl
Hannah, who's done theater work and backing vocals, will be singing a song its writers describe as a sexy dance/club song with a lot of R&B influence, while Hanna tells QX it's a cool suggestive club song. I might not otherwise be excited, but that description is enough for me.

Artist: Kalle Moraeus & Orsa spelmän
Composers: Lina Eriksson (text), Johan Moraeus (musik)
They (Kalle and his string group) have apparently played as part of the Benny Andersson Orchestra. No description of the song on SVT yet.

We Can Work It Out
Artist: Andreas Johnsson
Composers: Andreas Johnson (text), Bobby Ljunggren (musik), Marcos Ubeda (musik)
Andreas Johnson, known internationally for "Glorious," makes yet another return to Melodifestivalen (his fourth time in five years, I think). Once again, no description of the song on SVT yet, but Andreas told QX that it's a piano ballad, which is a change from his earlier entries, a big beautiful epic song closer to "Glorious" than his other Melodifestival entries.

In other Melodifestival news, Expressen gossips that, in regards to the songs not officially linked to singers yet, folk act Timotej (not Erika Selin) will sing "Run," Linda Bengtzing was offered Tony Nilsson song "Headlines" but it's not clear if she's accepted yet, and guesses at/reports some other matches.


Damian said...

It's dufficult to be excited about Jessica this year as I'm sure she's absolutely not a ballad-singer, I think she can be this year Shirley.
Pain Of Salvation...well, they are not The Poodles nor a H.e.a.t.
About Anders - I'm sceptical about him, he's not a pop singer, I just don't see him bringing so much joy and MF-mood to this celebration but Tony Nilsson is always promising.
I've just realized that Ola has no Tony behind this year, but combination of Alex and Dimitri is not less exciting.
I'm in love with Linda since I first time saw her on Idol auditions, she has potential of a real bomb, bomb-voice, bomb-appearance, so strong, talented and sexy, she's a star and I expect so much from her. By the way love her "Fast car"! :)
After reading your info about Andreas' song I'm getting more excited about him, he actually disappointed me so many times on MF that I've lost all the hope on him.

Paul said...

There are definitely some songs to be excited about with this little lot! I'm eager to hear the Jessica ballad - could be wonderful. Definitely chomping at the bit to hear anything from Eric What's Up! Manboy is a brilliant title for a song, so hopefully his forthcoming album will be equally brillo. And of course, I'll follow Ola anywhere :)

EuropeCrazy said...

Brilliant review as always - and thanks for the mention, of course I love your comments about Salem :) While I would love to see him go all the way to Globen, I'm sensible and realistic enough to know that he's not a traditional Melodifestivalen artist and therefore may not make it out of his heat. What I'm particularly happy about though is the opportunity that MF will give him to reach a wider audience both inside and outside of Sweden. By the way, is the Volvo ad with "It's Only You (Part II)" still showing in the USA?

I wish Jessica was doing an uptempo number rather than a ballad as I love both "Kalla Nätter" and "Kom"; glad to see Ola and Andreas J back too; I agree with what you said about Linda's songwriters so hoping for good things here too. Very intrigued by "Manboy" too...!

Rick said...

Hmm... I find the selection of artists so far pretty uninspired. Some old stalwarts (Ola, Jessica) Hope the second batch of artists are a little more interesting. Glad Darin will be around though, apparently.

Poster Girl said...

I know there's positive buzz around Jessica's song, but given her new retro style (though who knows if this song is in keeping with that) and the fact that it's a ballad, my enthusiasm for her return has been dampened. I agree about Pain of Salvation--my instinct is to prefer either of the bands you mentioned over them because they at least have moments of pop-friendliness. I really HOPE Linda does great and is great--it'd be nice to have a new strong female singer on the Swedish scene.

Anytime Kempe feels like launching another male singer in his particular pop style, I'm all for it. It could go all Daniel Mitsogiannis, but even then, I liked Daniel's song, so I'm pretty hpoeful.

That's exactly what I hope Salem will get out of this, too! Added exposure in places and groups that otherwise might not have heard of him. I haven't seen the ad for a few months, but I'm pretty sure I saw it over the summer.

It's not exactly a thrilling group so far, no, but for some crazy reason SVT seems to insist on putting many of the "names" in later heats. Annoying, but maybe it'll give a great song from a not-a-sure-thing a chance to break through (like Alcazar's "Stay The Night") in the first two semifinals.