Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dancing for my life

If you do not usually tune in to Melodifestivalen, Sweden's contest to select an entry for cross-Europe song contest Eurovision, today is not the day to start watching.

Usually, Melodifestivalen--literally, the Melody Festival--is a reliable source for well-written songs, most often of the pop type. Tonight's semifinal, the third of four that introduce new songs before a second chance round and a final, is a disappointing step back in song quality compared to both this year's previous two semifinals and the contest's previous editions.

That's not to say you won't be in for a good time if you tune in to the web stream that will be available at 2 PM EST. At this point, Melodifestivalen is a slick entertainment production. Sure, the artist introduction packages have sometimes been running a bit long this year, but tonight's semifinal will feature what reports say is the best intermission act yet: Lena Philipsson, 2004's winner, performing an English hard rock version of her classic '80s Melodifestival track "Dansa i neon."

You'll also see one of the top contenders for this year's top placing. Young Eric Saade, the breakout star of last year's Melodifestival, will be performing "Popular," an uptempo pop song that is practically unnecessary in terms of him making it to the finals--Eric advancing is the closest you'll get to a sure thing in Melodifestivalen this year. Whether you fall for "Popular"'s pulsing hard beat or not, the best thing about Eric has always been his eagerness and dedication to putting on a show. Eric's strong dancing skills and a glass-shattering stage gimmick promise a strong overall performance package.

The problem viewers will run into this week, though, is that the songs are generally enjoyable but not exceptional; there isn't anything to stir up the fiery, passionate devotion that promises heartbreak when one's favorites don't advance. Most of the players--including Linda Sundblad, Sebastian, Shirley Clamp of Shirley's Angels, and Sara Lumholdt of A*Teens--have been involved in better songs in the past, even if their offerings this week are not bad per se. It's instead a matter of songs that, one suspects, will in the long term reveal themselves to be three star affairs instead of the four and five star songs one hopes for in a contest of such prominence.

Still, even in an off week, Melodifestivalen will be must-watch viewing for me. A good performance can make you temporarily overlook a song's shortcomings. Most of all, though, even when the songs fade down the stretch, the contagious enthusiasm surrounding the online conversation about them rarely does.


Nick said...

Lame week for MF. I didn't love any of the songs, and I'm really not sure of Eric's chances of winning the contest overall with Popular. It sounded too much like all of his other tracks. Of course, three weeks in and I still don't hear anything that sounds like an overall winner to me. My favorite in the final so far is probably Sanna's song, but I doubt it would win the whole thing.

Poster Girl said...

It really wasn't Melodifestivalen's shining moment. I'm kind of shocked at the dearth of top-notch tracks three weeks in, too, and though I expect to enjoy next week much more, I'm not sure it's going to offer that many Eurovision-ready songs. I love Linda Bengtzing, for example, and hope to love her song as much as I have past MF entries from her, but I never really see her as someone who belongs outside of Sweden. Though I can see Melody Club on the radio outside of Sweden and hope to love their entry as well, I don't know that they'd go over well at Eurovision. Love Generation's RedOne-connection means their song probably sounds like what you hear in the charts now, but I'm not sure about the girls' live performance skills (I've not watched anything, so that's not a "they are bad" don't know, just an actual don't know). Of course, great songs are more important to me than songs suitable for Eurovision, so in the end it might not be that big a deal for me personally, but seeing what Sweden does will be interesting. Will Danny and Eric compete for the same demographic and negate each other, allowing someone else (who?) to sneak through? Will Sweden finally send a young solo guy with an uptempo song to Eurovision after so many cases of buzzing about such songs but not sending them to the contest?

Sorry, rambling. Basically I'm just really hoping for some brilliance next week to add some much-needed spice to MF 2011.

Nick said...

I am hoping that Danny and Eric cancel each other out, though I'd rather have Eric than Danny go to Eurovision (which is weird because I like Danny the popstar better than Eric the popstar, but I'm not an "In The Club" supporter at all -- now who's rambling?). It would just be sad if, after several years of great young male entries that should have won, they send a lackluster one this year just to make up for their past omissions.

You know me... I will be supporting Melody Club 100% and I'm confident that they won't disappoint. I don't think they'll win the whole thing, but I hope to at least see them in the final. They need a little bump in their career at this stage, and the promotion attached to the finalists could help them reignite their commercial success. Though if they did win the whole contest, I'd really have to bow down to MF for making the Ark AND Melody Club winners. They would totally be buying into my whole "holy trinity of Swedish pop" shtick :)

Poster Girl said...

Your point about them sending a "make up" submission this year is exactly what I'm worried about--it always drives me crazy when something like the Oscars does it and I'd really rather see it not repeated here.

Ha ha! If the Mo suddenly get back together this October, I'm going to start getting really suspicious.