dimanche 13 mars 2011

Melodifestivalen 2011

Yesterday, Sweden chose their 2011 entry for the Eurovision song contest that will take place next 14th of May in Düsseldorf. The winner of their Melodifestivalen song contest is Eric Saade with his Fredrik Kempe written song Popular. This song was one of this year's entiries that i like a lot so I am not deceived at all. It was a strong contender and nearly sure winner apparently as it finished first in the swedish public televotes as well as juries votes. It wasn't the only good entry naturally as the Melodifestivalen always brongs me every year a ton of cheesy euro pop hits.

Let's start with the ones I like, alphabetically, winner included :

First, Julie Alvgard's Better or worse is a modern piece of northern pop, sounding like Robyn with a diva voice. It has an anthemic chorus where Julie's vocal shines like a diamond, strong and powerful, and the arrangements sounds just right, but I don't know, it doesn't sound like a radio hit, not straight forward enough I think. I like it much though and wish this girl that was a web wildcard in the competition will get signed to release more material of that kind very soon.

Anniela's Elektrisk may be her first release sung in sedish, it is one of her best too. I liked her 2009 album Extravaganza and singles Stripteaser and My confession, but she was more a swedish Britney doing catchy commercial R&B/pop. This time around, this first song off her forthcoming second album Electric is pure electro dance/pop and even though I would have loved english lyrics, the swedish ones weren't a problem for me nor a reason not to like this very catchy song. I am awaiting for the album to come fore sure !

Linda Bengtzing's Ed det fel pà mej is a pure ABBA inspired retro euro pop song and the fact it is sung in english adds to the fact we can feel like it was 1990 again, before the Eurovison rules let countries record their entry in any language, english proeminently. Sweet and cheese pop overdose with this one but I don't care, I like it :)

Danny's In the club finished second and it is one of this year's entries I like the most. Saucedo's new single, released just after his cover version of The Attic's In your eyes is leading the way for his third solo album of the same title and is an anthemic electro dance number, that for sure would have brought dancers and fireworks on the Düsseldorf scene if it would have won. It hasn't but I suspect it won't prevent this song from being a hit ! Strangely, it seems this man can really lead two carriers at the same time : being a dance/pop solo act and releasing romantic acoustic pop/rock with his mates in the band E.M.D.

Dilba's Try again is a retro dance/pop song that sees the swedish singer of kurdish origin try a comeback. She failed to qualify to the final but I like her song. I hope she will try again... lol

Anders Fernette's entry, Run, a very pop/rock song with dance arrangements, is another entry that was strong enough to make it to the final but failed. Co-written by american superstar songwriter Desmond Child with Hugo lira and swedish team, sure high hopes were put in this new release, even though Anders is no newcomer in the swedish pop scene.

Sebastian Karlsson's No one else could starts with much more electro sounds than I remembered him for but soon the song becomes the usual catchy pop/rock song this former Swedish Idol 2005 contestant (and runner-up behind Agnes). I imagien he performs it on the scene with a guitar and even though I like it, there were better choices for Düsseldorf for sure.

Le Kid's Oh my God is a cheesy 80's inspired electronic piece of pop, sounding not too dissimilar from Alphabeat, with nice female vocals and a good rhythm. The band co-produced Same Difference's Karma karma reunion song with Alcazar on my recently reviewed album from them, and I can't help thinking they've kept the best song for them. Oh my God is really addictive !

Loreen's My heart is refusing me is another modern electro piece of pop with strong and deep haunting vocals by this former Swedish Idol contestant. It is her second release since she made herself known in the 2004 TV show and I must admit I'd like to hear more from her. She's got a good voice and an interesting own musical style.

Love Generation's RedOne penned Dance alone was sure a strong entry in this year's contest but it didn't win his ticket into the final in his semi-final, nor in the second chance round for which the four girls won a ticket. Dance alone nevertheless is a strong and über catchy dance/pop surefire hit and I only hope their underperformance in the Melodifestivalen won't get their forthcoming RedOne produced album withdrawn by their label as I want it badly.

Sara Lumholt's Enemy is the latest attempt from this ex A*Teens girl to have a successful solo career. She released Let's get physical then Glamorous bitch a couple of years ago but then her album was shelved before release and now we've got this Enemy as a tatste of what is next to come, I hope, as it is a pleasant power pop song with nice strings arrangements and dance elements thrown into it, along a repetitive sing-along chorus line and the girls -now a woman- sure can sings.

Melody Club don't change their recipe and their The hunter is a catchy mix of electro pop and glam rock, like they release since nearly a decade now. Even though it didn't qualify for the final, I feel the band's aim was more to come back with a bang for their fifth studio album Human harbour and to use the Melodifestivalen exposure for that, rather than hope to win and go to Düsseldorf. Even though there's much more guitar in these Melody Club releases than my usual tastes, I have always found enough electronic pop and catchiness in their tunes to follow their career. The hunter won't make me change my mind.

Sanna Nielsen is not new to the Melodifestivalen, I liked her Empty room in 2008 already, and her 2011 entry, I'm in love, has a strong anthemic chorus. The emotion break is nice too and all in all, her song is a perfect piece of pop, not too into electro/dance nor not really middle-of-the-road, so that it can appeal to everyone, including me.

Eric Saade tried to qualify for Eurovision last year with his second solo single Manboy (he first was in the swedish boysband What's Up). He finished third but this year, he's been luckier. He didn't change his style, catchy dance influenced power pop, nor his team, Fredrik Kempe on music & lyrics, but Popular has that little something else that makes it a winner. Maybe it is his Giorgio Moroder electro rhythm in the intro, or his universal repetitive chorus, or the easy to sing-along verses' melody, or simply the fact it has an eurovision-esque chord change at the end of the song that made a must-be swedish entry for the Eurovision song contest.

Shirley's Angels is a super-group made for the Melodifestivalen around Shirley Clamp with Vera Prada and Jessica Marberger and their entry, I thought it was forever, is a nice catchy mid-tempo with strong chorus that incorporates some slight eastern folklore elements I feel, to appeal to the eastern countries. It has been co-written by Alexander Bard who, for once, didn't compete with his current formation, Gravitonas. Despite this, he didn't make it to the final, neither from its semi-final nor its second chance round.

Jenny Silver's Something in your eyes sounds like pure swedish euro pop, the one that some would call schlager-pop, just because it sounds like it was 1980 all over again, and Jenny's just Agnetha/Frida's daughter singing an ABBA tune we didn't know before. Call this one a retro entry or simply a guilty pleasure for lots of us...

Linda Sunblad's Lucky you is a repetitive and slightly irritating pop song but you can't help but nod your head to its rhythm and your feet surely can't stand still while it's playing. Nice but surely not a winner, nor a memorable hit of the year.

Christian Walz's Suicide is a nice piece of pop, soulful and catchy with nice string as well as slightly electro arrangements, and Christian's voice is moving, but maybe the song's theme didn't suit the Eurovision. I like it though and it makes me want to hear more from that man.

To be fair, I'll have a quick talk about the other entries, those who simply weren't good enough for me, or weren't to my music appeal.

Pernilla Andersson's Desperados is an acoustic uptempo folk/country song in swedish and even though it has a frenetic rhythm and the lady has written and composed it by herself and sings it nicely, it is not my cup of tea AT ALL !

Elisabeth Andreassen is a wellknown swedish/norwegian popopera singer and although she's got the voice of an angel, sweet and powerful, touching and crystal-clear, her Vaken ien dröm is a calm ballad that may have been of bigger appeal to me if sung in english, but I'm not even sure...

Babsan's Ge mig en spanjor first, may be pure schlager but, first it is a festive latin-styled one, second, the transvestite's vocals are very poor, and the performance, overall, sounds more like a schlager pastiche than a real cheesy piece of pop like I like it in the swedish contest.

Nicke Borg is the lead singer of the swedish rock band Backyard Babies and I easily can do without his rock song Leaving home and its saturated guitars and vocals. Stop it before your ears bleed !

Brolle's catchy pop/rock 7 days and 7 nights performed well in the selections, finishing second to Sanna Nielsen in the second semi-final but was the least performing song in the final with the juries' vote and it finished last. It is not that it is not a catchy song, but it sounds old-fashioned commercial rock'n'roll, definitely not what everyone hopes to see win the Eurovision in 2011.

Simon Forsberg's Tidd att andas, like Popular, is a song that has been written and composed by Fredrik Kempe, but not to compete with Eric Saade's pop appeal, this tone is an all sweet ballad, except for the note-breaking break at the end of the song, where this former Fame Factory singer shows he's got what it takes to belt out a tune or two. I don't like the overall song but I wish I get to hear a Soundfactory remix of this one though...

Lasse Stefanz's En blick och nànting händer sounds so retro pop/rock I don't even feel this swedish dansband can be called schlager. It belongs to Elvis Presley's days, with 50's guitar riffs and fingersnaps and when I saw the song was written by pop-musicGod Alexander Bard along Tim Norell, like back in the Army Of Lovers days, I first thought it was a cover version or an old song they wrote that has been covered by this band, except all entries must be new unreleased songs so I guess it is really a brand new writing from Mr. Bard. I'm still waiting for the release from his latest band Gravitonas, but from how this swedish new song sound, I doubt he's a genius anymore...

Jonas Matsson's On my own, although having a strong chorus, is just a boring piece of acoustic folk, with flower power "ba-ba-ba" backing vocals and a whistling break that irritate me. NEXT!

Linda Pritchford is a swedish singer with a strong voice that struggles to find success. She did Idols 2008, sang background vocals for Velvet or tried the Melodifestivalen in 2010 already with You're making me hot-hot-hot but she didn't win. Nor did she this year with that boring ballad called Alive, although it displays her Celine Dion-like voice range perfectly. Strangely enough, her song is co-written by the same Fredrik Kempe who wrote the winning dance/pop song for Eric Saade.

Swingfly's Me and my drum is an irritating mixbag song rapped by an american native (but now naturalised) who worked with Dr; Alban or Blacknuss and his entry is a crosstable of multiple influences, rap, rock, pop and dance but the final result is awful, even though the chorus' chant is a little catchy and more appealing than the unbearable verses.

The Moniker's song won its place in finale in the second chance round but Daniel karlsson's Oh my God! is nothign as good as Le Kid's same titled entry. His is an exhuberant and kitsch pop/rock declamation that finished third in the final, just behind Eric Saade and Danny Saucedo. I cannot imagine people foudn this song like-able enough to vote for it... Maybe he gained a fanbase from his Idol 2007 participation ? But they must be very trustful because he hadn't released anything since then, and I hope after this one, he will never again !

The Playtones' The king is an even more Presley-esque entry than Lasse Stefanz' one was. Truth is it is a rockabilly swedish dansband so it must be natural. The song is in fact better than a whole others that I dislike here but that retro rolling drums and old-fashioned rock vocals just don't fit the bill and give me a cold sweat.

Sara Varga's Spring för livet is a gentle accoustic fingersnapping song sung in swedish and even though it is breezy, pleasant and everything, it sounds too acoustic for me, and there's too much folklore influence in it too. And for once, I don't get into the swedish lyrics, not feeling them melodic. Maybe I would have liked it a little if sung in english, maybe.

Rasmus Viberg's Social butterfly is an odd uptempo oldschool folk/rock song but I won't tell more about it except the use of accordion in the intro and then all along the song made me use the STOP button from my music player ASAP. It's like that. I have developped an accordion phobia since I saw Yvette Horner dressed in a french flag designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier in the 80's on TV.

So there were more entries this year that I like so I bet this is a good year. I hope it will be for the other countries a good Eurovision year too.

For having heard Sognu last week on french TV, I know for France it is not.

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