Saturday, February 19, 2011

There are times when the doubts get to me

Today's Melodifestival results were predictable: Eric Saade, he of the strongest fandom in the contest, and the Playtones, they of the top-selling albums of last year in Sweden, were voted to the final. One might have expected Sebastian, who advanced straight to the final last time, to have a shot at the second chance round, but even his fifth place isn't especially shocking.

The results aren't especially disappointing either. Do I still feel like there's something missing in Eric the popstar, even if I strongly approve of his use of aggressive choreographed group dancing? Yes. Do I think that "Popular," though full of exciting production touches and situated in a style I like, is lacking in its topline? Yes, definitely. In a lackluster heat like this one, though, I can't deny that the combination of his song, staging, and performance deserved to advance. I just can't feel the enthusiasm for it that I would like to. I'd rather send him to Germany than the winner of semifinal two, Sanna's "I'm In Love," but considering how cold that song leaves me, that's not saying much. I don't want to sound too negative, though: "Popular"'s beat and whistle, the dark, edgy staging, the dancing (particularly Eric's little backwards side-to-side shuffle midway through the song), and Eric's obvious seriousness about the whole endeavor all earn thumbs-ups from me.

I can't say I feel any passion about the Playtones. Their energetic song is nice enough and they filled up the stage nicely. Still, they've done nothing to convince me they have anything other than anti-charisma when they perform.

I would have liked to see better for Linda Sundblad, whose entry this week was my most-played going into today; "Lucky You" has a warm charm to it. It isn't as strong as the best of her work, though.

Shirley's Angels had an effectively staged performance, but "boring" has already started to creep up on their song. Considering how little time we've spent with it so far, that's troubling.

Sara Lumholdt's "Enemy" is a good song. Sebastian's "No One Else Could" probably is, too. Will they be hugely missed at Globen, though? No.

The Swedes are apparently over old-fashioned schlager ballads, with Simon Forsberg coming in last, and find bossa nova most effective when married to what are apparently moving lyrics about the importance of escaping from an abusive relationship. With my broken Swedish, most of the subtleties of Sara Varga's "Spring för livet" go over my head, but, like with Pernilla Andersson's entry, I think I can understand its appeal in a detached way.

The best thing about this week's semifinal was that, with relatively little investment in the songs, it made for a fairly stress-free view experience. That's sure to change next week, though, when the traditionally overpacked fourth semifinal will have us biting our nails as our favorites face tough competition. Let's hope it contains something internationally spectacular or we may be facing a solid but spark-lacking final.


Laura (EuropeCrazy) said...

You made some really good points here I think. It was a pretty underwhelming week, and I'm totally disappointed for Sebastian, but admitting he's had better songs though. Whilst watching "Popular" I got that feeling that we were possibly watching the winner of MF, yet it's a long, long way from a Eurovision winner. There's something so....old fashioned about it. I'd love to be wrong, as another Swedish win is long overdue, but it tries just a little too hard.

Damian said...

I'm completely with you PG and Laura. The problem is that song isn't near as good as Hero or Hope and Glory and Eric in my opinion is not as unique and independent artist as Måns, Darin, Danny or other well-established Swedish boys-stars. He's got well-produced pack of choreography, image, show and PR but it's just not as good as we use to get from Swedish pop-music that's why we're not satisfied.
"Popular" can be local phenomenon but bringing it to Eurovision, is this show as good as Sakis or Svetlana did? Can Kempe-pop be interesting for international voters as much as it is for us MF-fans when previous attempts on Eurovision have failed? I've got a big doubts.

Paul said...

I have to say I was won over by the playtones, and slightly disappointed with Shirley's Angels. however, i'm absolutely smitten with eric and his latest single... i'd love to see more of this pop in the UK, heck, I'd even like Simon Curtis to get a bit more cheerful and do something as dancetastic as this :P

eurovisionessex said...

Really sorry to hear you're not a fan of Sanna's entry this year. It's been on constant repeat in this little corner of the UK; in fact, it's almost attained Hero proportions for me, which is saying something.

I can't see it winning either, though, but I wouldn't put a top four placing out of its reach. I have to say, however, that I find the staging of it quite strange. I just don't get the revolving fruit bowl, and the trick with the dancers at the end is a bit disturbing to my eyes.

Poster Girl said...

I just can't figure out what I'd expect "Popular" to do as ESC, Laura and Damian. It's a big, energetic show, which I think would give it better chances than the past few years' entries. How high in the ranks would it go, though? I really agree with you, Damian, about Eric. I think he's become extra-frustrating to me because in theory he ticks off so many of the boxes of what I like in my popstars and yet something just seems to not connect with me.

Ah, Paul, it's good to see someone else who didn't despise the Playtones! Don't get me wrong--they're no favorite of mine and the singer doesn't really charm on stage--but I think they were better than most commentators gave them credit for being. You know, two and a half/three stars instead of one :)

Hey, EE! It's fantastic to hear from you. I really hope I'm won over by Sanna--she is totally lovely and I like the people who wrote the song, too. Maybe next time through it will click for me.

I expected the staging to be much more effective than it was based on the rehearsal footage. Something--not just Sanna's styling--felt like it was lost from then (when I thought it worked well) to the actual performance. In the event she did make it to Eurovision, they'd have to change it--there's too much distance or aloofness to it, which has hurt Swedish performers in the past.