Monday, December 07, 2009

Jag vill om du vågar

With today's announcement of the final two semifinals for 2010's Melodifestival, we know all but one of the acts competing. Today's artists consolidate the trend towards newcomers, but there are a few big names as well as some middle-of-the-field names seeking to truly establish themselves. As usual, see my earlier article as well as the following sources: SVT, QX, Gylleneskor, Aftonbladet, Expressen. Photos are from the aforementioned SVT and Expressen. I used live ones from the press conference where available (Alcazar and Crucified Barbara didn't attend), so you can see what the acts look like now.

Semifinal 3: Göteborg (Feb. 20)

Doctor Doctor - Elin Lanto
Composers: Mirja Breitholtz, Tony Nilsson
Elin has appeared in Melodifestivalen before, back in 2007 with "Money," but this is her first post-dance-pop reinvention appearance. Tony has written all of her songs since then except the first one, "Speak 'n Spell," including "Discotheque" and "Love Made Me Stupid." Tony and girlfriend Mirja describe the song as being about a heart problem, so I think we can guess which particular pop trope the lyrics will be playing on. Over at Scandipop, Elin mentioned that her style now is more like that of "Love Made Me Stupid," with more guitars and a more pop-rock sound, though she follows up by saying that "Doctor Doctor" is a pop song and more direct and immediate (and less dark) than "Love Made Me Stupid." Earlier rumors said it was modern and uptempo.

Headlines - Alcazar
Composers: Peter Boström, Tony Nilsson
Amazing pop group Alcazar, fresh off of their success with "Stay The Night" in last year's contest, return to Melodifestivalen for the fourth time with a song from the team I love so much (behind Ola's best pop songs, amongst others). That said, I'm quite nervous; it's not a song that was definitely going to go to them or meant for them, and for some reason that makes me a little apprehensive about quality (though that's not so much that other acts rejected it--September said no without even hearing the song, for example). Still, when Tony and Peter get together (and even when they're apart), they can work magic. They describe the song as a outrageous, energetic uptempo song which is about scandal.

Heaven Or Hell - Crucified Barbara
Composers: Håkan Larsson, Björn Lönnroos, Jörgen Svensson
I'd never heard of this all-girl rock group before, but previewing their only album so far shows them to have a hard rock sound. As I mentioned earlier, the only songs I definitely know the songwriters have been involved with in the past were for Shebang, but sadly it doesn't sound like we'll be getting anything similar to that group's bouncy pop-rock: the songwriters say "Heaven Or Hell" is a hard rock ballad about escaping from unhappy love with a strong hit-friendly hook.

Hur kan jag tro på kärlek - Erik Linder
Composers: Kenneth Gärdestad (text), Niclas Lundin, Tony Malm (musik)
Former televised singing contest (the Swedish version of ...'s Got Talent) entrant Erik is one album into his career, and it sounds like the slow tempo of that album is in keeping with his Melodifestival song: a Swedish pop song with sadness and hope in the '70s pop style which can't fail to leave one moved, according to its writers. Earlier reports said it was in the style of Ted Gärdestad's '70s hits and if that's true, the song and the singer seem like a good match.

Kom (Run) - Timoteij
Composers: Niclas Arn, Gustav Eurén, Karl Eurén
Another four person group I hadn't heard of, Timoteij will be singing a song by writers who sometimes venture into full-on pop or dance-pop (Verona's "La Musica," Alcazar's "Burning," Nina & Kim's "En gang for alla"...though they can just as easily veer off into material I don't care for) but who in this case have created a song they describe as a modern pop song with a folk touch. Earlier reports did indicate that the song is uptempo, contrary to what their photo might lead one to expect, and the group confirmed that to QX, calling it hooky and uptempo.

Tonight - Johannes Bah Kuhnke
Composers: Sharon Vaughn, Anders Hansson
Likewise, I'd never heard of Johannes Bah Kuhnke (who has apparently done a good bit of theater work), though the songwriters are of course very familiar; given that "Tonight" is a ballad, maybe the most recent and relevant work of theirs is Agnes's "Big Blue Wall," though perhaps even that isn't exactly a spot-on reference point--they describe "Tonight" as a big, emotional rock ballad with a groove, soul, grime, and power.

Yeba - Getty
Composers: Getty Domein (text), Tuomas (Tiny) Pyhäjärvi (musik)
Zaire-born but Sweden-raised Getty will be performing in Lingala which he and his co-writer describe as different and exotic Congo-inspired club musisc.

You're Out Of My Life - Darin
Composers: Henrik Janson, Tony Nilsson
Former Idol contestant and brilliant popstar Darin (who, much as I love him, has been unable to equal the commercial success of his second album and its single "Step Up" with his third or fourth, though his recent cover of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" has been his most successful release in the past few years) makes his first appearance in the contest with a song written by the men behind Velvet's "The Queen" (and in Tony's case a bunch of other songs I love), who claim this time to have written an unforgettable huge emotional song about loss. Earlier reports indicated the song was mid-tempo (though in my head I keep thinking that means a ballad with some big percussion beat beneath it or something). There's no question I'd prefer Darin to be singing an uptempo song, which is where I think his strength lies, but he does have a fantastic pop voice which can elevate just about any song and he has made some great ballads in the past.

Semifinal 4: Malmö (Feb. 27)

Hollow - Peter Jöback
Composers: Anders Hansson, Fredrik Kempe
Massively popular Peter will be singing a ballad by the fantastic songwriters Anders Hansson (BWO, Agnes, Alcazar, Lena Philipsson--the list could go on and on, but for non-Swede-pop addicts, he also co-wrote Rachel Stevens' "Queen") and Fredrik Kempe (the winning song the past two years). They describe "Hollow" as a grandiose song written in the despair of a lonely heart, which is pretty much what you'd expect a Peter Jöback Melodifestival entry to sound like, while Peter compares it to "All By Myself" in feeling while noting that Anders Hansson's production keeps it modern. Earlier reports indicated it was a ballad (as if you needed confirmation of that given its official description). After never being won over by the popular ballad entries of the past two years (Sanna Nielsen's "Empty Room," which still doesn't move me at all, and Caroline af Ugglas's "Snälla Snälla," which I can understand the appeal of even if I don't feel it myself), could Peter's "Hollow" finally mark the top-contending ballad I actually get? Let's hope these songwriters have something in store that is top-drawer quality.

Human Frontier - NEO
Composers: Anneli Axelsson, Tobias Jonsson
Yay! I'm pretty happy for Neo, who isn't signed to one of the bigger labels in Sweden and whose debut album from 2008 was very underappreciated. He's one of those artists who, in terms of music, I think has the most to benefit from the contest; his songs are very schlager/pop-fan friendly, but lacking previous national prominence or a bigger label, he was unlikely to get the exposure to establish himself without Melodifestivalen. Hopefully he's a good live performer (something which is up in the air--has anyone actually seen him sing live?) and "Human Frontier" is as good as the BWO-esque "Flower Power Supergirl" or the '80s pop "Higher." I'm still not counting on (or really expecting ) him progressing out of his semifinal, but this should introduce him to a much bigger audience. All indications are it's at least in keeping with those styles: the songwriters (behind his earlier work, too, I belive) say "Human Frontier" is life-affirming, melodious, dancey uptempo pop which gives you a burst of energy.

Idiot - Noll Disciplin
Composers: Per Aldeheim, Niklas Jarl
The lead singer of this band was also the singer in SK8, the group which won Lilla Melodifestivalen 2007 (which doesn't actually feed into Junior Eurovision). SVT's site doesn't have the official description of the song up yet, but I think we can expect rock given the songwriters and group. Earlier reports said the song is uptempo.

Jag vill om du vågar - Pernilla Wahlgren
Composers: Pontus Assarsson, Daniel Barkman (text), Jörgen Ringqvist (text), Jörgen Ringqvist (musik)
There's big positive buzz around this schlager song from Pernilla (who I love), best known in a Melodifestival context for the '80s entry "Picadilly Circus" but who has made some other great pop songs, both in those years and more recent ones. When Pontus goes schlager, he does it well--see his earlier Melodifestival entries like Fame's "Vindarna vänder oss" and Fame's "The One That You Need." The songwriters describe their song as classic happy uptempo schlager in Swedish about love. Pernilla told Gylleneskor (which refers to "Jag vill om du vågar" as the year's only schlager entry) the song is a little rockier than her earlier entries, but she also said to Aftonbladet that it's an old-school schlager song. Despite that, from the buzz, this is definitely one of my most-anticipated entries; for those of you who love schlager, it should be one of yours as well. Pernilla has somewhat of a media presence in Sweden still, but as far as actually selling music, her entry this year could be marked as an attempt at a comeback.

Magisk stjärna - Py Bäckman
Composers: Py Bäckman (text), Py Bäckman, Micke Wennborn (musik)
The writer of the winning 1988 Melodifestival entry, Tommy Körberg's "Stad i ljus," and co-writer of "Gabriellas sång" enters as both co-writer and artist this time (though she's apparently released numerous albums of her own over the years, too). She and Micke describe "Magisk stjärna" as a cool song with sharp lyrics and an instantly memorable chorus.

Stop - Sibel
Composers: Mikaela Stenström, Dimitri Stassos
The former Idol contestant who made it to the Melodifestival finals in 2008 with "That Is Where I'll Go" returns with a song whose songwriters (including Dimitri, who often writes Greek-flavored songs but doesn't seem to have done so here) describe as a fast, cool pop song with a lot of energy.

This Is My Life - Anna Bergendahl
Composers: Kristian Lagerström (text), Bobby Ljunggren (musik)
Anna, from the 2008 season of Idol, makes her commercial music debut with a song by Melodifestival stalwart Bobby Ljunggren, who along with Kristian describes "This Is My Life" as an existential declaration of independence garbed in an organic midtempo style. Talking to Gylleneskor, Anna said "This Is My Life" is a quiet, hopeful, warm song which becomes bigger and bigger as it goes along and isn't really a pure ballad. She also compared it to her early performances on Idol, before the themed weeks started.

Thursdays - Lovestoned
Composers: Sharon Vaughn (text), Peter Boström, Thomas G:son (musik)
The mainly Swedish (though only launched in Germany so far) two boy two girl reggae-pop group is working with some names I like on this song, but their folky reggae-pop has yet to be as poppy as I'd like (i.e., it's never gone into Ace of Base territory, which is where I like my reggae-pop to sit). "Thursdays" is described by its songwriters as melancholy but infectious reggae in their usual style about making the best of a weekday.

Also, it was announced a few days ago that the song "Come and Get Me Now" from semifinal two, the web joker, will be performed by the dansband Highlights, competing on Dansbandskampen at the moment (thanks Len!). There's still one joker spot left to announce. Aftonbladed gossiped earlier that it was between Lena Philipsson (who SVT really wanted but who was having a lot of trouble finding a song she liked), Pernilla Andersson, and Linda Sundblad and now Expressen says it's between Linda, Lena, and Jenny Berggen, who has just left Ace of Base..."between them" in that songs are being written especiallly for them in hopes of wooing them to do the contest. Any of those last set would make me VERY happy. I've been desperate for a proper new album for Lena for what seems like much longer than it's actually been (no, that '60s-sounding Lena + Orup album doesn't count) and she is obviously AMAZING (adding her to this year's lineup would make it feel complete, really make it a big deal in terms of both prestige names and likely pop fantasticness), I'm a big fan of Linda and would like to see this new album of her find success (and apparently radio doesn't want to play her new material, so Melodifestivalen might be her best shot), and how can you not be intrigued by what a former Ace of Base member would sound like, even if she doesn't have her former songwriters behind her?

As for who out of these names I'm excited about, well, it's a bit difficult to judge when it comes to all the newcomers--Timoteij could be good, as could Anna, maybe. I'm excited to hear the songs from Darin, Alcazar, Pernilla, Peter Jöback, Elin, and Neo, albeit with some of the aforementioned concerns. I hope I like Sibel's new song and those from some songwriters I really like. Erik's song could be a really good match of singer and song, as I said above. Basically, there are a lot of sparks of interest going up from me, just not always a lot to fuel those sparks in a sustainable way yet; luckily, there are that batch of semi-established artists I just mentioned who I'm hoping have it amongst themselves to bring some great pop and at least a couple of classics.


Paul said...

Elin - yay! Alcazar double yay! Neo - yay! Darin - mega yay! Must track down the Thursdays to see what I make of them :) It's shaping up to be quite the contest!

Pete said...

måste säga att du gör den bästa schalgerbloggen jag har läst! =) Mycket matnyttig info!!
Har själv jobbat ganska mycket med Lovestoned här i Sverige, då de har spelat in det mesta av deras material här, och jag måste säga att det är ett gäng grymma människor och artister! Hoppas deras låt är lika bra som jag hoppas! ;) Här har du länkar du kan kolla från när de spelade i tyskland i somras!


Mike said...

Is it incredibly sad that I secretly like Lovestoned? Their trashy cover of "Rising Girl" is still my favourite guilty pleasure of 2009. I can't wait to hear what ever low brow, culturally irrelevant rubbish they deliver next!

Anonymous said...

Sorry that here but there's no ther place for this info. One of Melodi hosts- Mans Zelmerlow ia nominated to Grammis Prize in category : the best song of the year. Vote at till 14th December 2009.

Poster Girl said...

Oh, Paul, Thursdays is the name of the song--the band is Lovestoned, who I think you might have reviewed for PTA at some point? Well, I know we reviewed it; I just can't remember if you were on the panel that week or not. Anyway, there are multiple names here to be happy about, including those you just listed off :)

Hi Peter! That's very kind of you to say--thank you! Really, though, all the credit goes to the sites I mentioned; across the ocean and without any inside sources, I'd be lost without their information. Some people I really like are involved in the Lovestoned project, so hopefully their song will be good.

Mike, much as I complain, one listen to that song and it's stuck in my head for the day. And cover? I had no idea! Just YouTubed the original.

Hi, Wiola! This is a fine place to leave a comment like that--any news about or support of Måns is always welcome here :)

Paul said...

how embarrassing :P Why can't i keep up with all this pop. I swear i am getting pop dementia!!