MF Semi 4 – (Not that) A-ma-zing darling!

Posted: 26/02/2012 in National Finals Reviews

My inner Craig Revel Horwood awoke yesterday – for obvious and less obvious reasons…

A-ma-zing dahlin’! Those who are unfamiliar with the straight forward judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing best get on Youtube to discover what I’m talking about – prepare to be amazed. I’m a fan, I admit. A couple of his reactions have become fallback reactions in my vocabularium and yesterday was the perfect opportunity to dust off one of them in light of Melodifestivalen’s semi 4.

We started, as per usual, with a banging opening tune to welcome back Helena Bergström who had been absent the last 2 weeks due to theatre obligations. She was declaring her love for MF through spoken word while colleagues Sarah Dawn Finer and Gina Dirawi took care of a chorus driven by a flat beat. Sounds familiar? Is SVT advertising Björn Ranelid‘s entry? And why would they do that? It’s really not that amazing dahling…

Let’s pass quickly to the order of the evening because there were still 2 finalists and 2 Andra Chansers to pick. We welcomed back 6 names with an MF history, devided over 5 acts. Thé name everyone was talking about, one way or another, was of course Charlotte Perrelli. The two time MF winner ànd golden medalist in Jerusalem in ’99 was out for revenge after her rather unsuccessful passage in Belgrade 4 years ago and promissed us a Big Show for which she’d spared no expense – something the Swedish media loved to emphasise in the days running up to saturday. Millions of kronor were spent on an act that couldn’t even be performed in Andra Chansen if it had to as the technical possibilities in AC would be too limited and there was no money left. Message clear: Globen or nothing. The Swedes clearly didn’t have to think for long. Not that amazing dahling as the mix of all elements wasn’t ideal: the act wasn’t that new as Beyoncé had already used the same idea, the song itself wasn’t groundbreaking (which is no surprise with the King of Recycling Fredrik Kempe behind it) and nobody but Madonna can call herself a girl at a certain age and get away with it. But it has to be said the routine was clearly well rehearsed and as tight as Perrelli’s windtunnelproof face. Only for the fans I’d say.

Secretly I’d hoped for an equally big fiasco for Danny Saucedo, who seems to think he’s entitled to the ticker for Baku after having to bow to Eric Saade last year. Visually he treated us to an a-ma-zing show, even though I feel the Tron effects were a tad Over The Top, but Danny’s stronghold which is his voice seemed to have a night off. What a disaaaster dahling! Not at all a-ma-zing, even though he described himself as feeling ‘great’ (such deep lyrics) and the only a-ma-zing thing was the amount of repetition of the a-ma-zing title. He’s a bit of a show-off and it puts me off but I guess it’s a side effect of the thing we call showbizz…

Two other MF veterans, to be taken even more literally than in the other cases, are Lotta Engberg & Christer Sjögren – singing about an affair they’d had 20 years ago. their song sounded as if it had been written then, only to be tucked away somewhere in a drawer were it was found before submission deadline and submitted without tweaking. How dusty does this sound??? A-ma-zingly dated and the fact they made it to Andra Chansen is probably due to their joined fanbase rather than the enthusiasm by the average televoting Swede.

We also welcomed back Hanna Lindblad, whom I absolutely loved two years ago with the raunchy and pumping Manipulated. This time she went for a softer approach with the colourful and drenched in ’80s Goosebumps. The a-ma-zing thing is the way she danced and sang the whole way through, something not many artists are able to do in a qualitative way but miss Lindblad managed it. Even on those a-ma-zing high heels. Loved the Flashdance pose in the middle. But. Yet again there were so much backing vocals guiding her it’s hard to say how this would sound completely live. This is not the first time I’ve said this and as long as the Swedes ignore the Malena Ernman debacle I’ll keep repeating it.

The Dynazty rockers had some MF experience as well, even though they never participated. They did such an impressive job on remaking This is my life by Anna Bergendahl they made the cut this year to actually be part of the line-up. Their blazing guitars couldn’t disguise the schlager roots of the song, no surprise with Thomas G:son in the team, but that hardly mattered: this was fun! And the lead singer did a great job vocally, especially in those a-ma-zing high notes. This was my only correct prediction, time for a check-up of my crystal ball…

Cut to the debuting acts and among those it was clear from the start where the Greeks from OPA! would end up. Peculiar sounds for MF and a bit out of place really, even though I liked the atmospheric chorus. Was this their way of taking revenge for all those schlager sounds Helena Paparizou inflicted on the Greeks? Not entirely a-ma-zing that they ended up 8th.
Axel Algmark on the other hand managed to convince me with his Britpop. I liked the intimate setting which suited the song very well and I was sort of convinced Sweden would dig this as well. As soon as I saw that Algmark had a hard time getting the crowd fired up though I knew it was not going to happen.

And then there’s Lisa Miskovsky, one of the only artists to fit the mission statement SVT put up for this edition of MF. She’s an artist who can claim some name and fame in the Swedish music scene and still she throws herself in the MF circus without worrying about possible (negative) consequences for her carreer. For this fact alone she deserves my respect. She did however adjust herself to MF. The act with the mega-Eimears was superb, underlining the song’s atmosphere very effectively but what on earth was Miskovsky doing with a guitar? Does she want to emphasise she’s a singer-songwriter rather than an R&B doll? The same trick young Ulrik Munther pulled out a couple of weeks ago? I find it bizarre in a composition like this, building a bridge between Enya and Timbaland. And again we hear backing vocals on tape – how representative is this? I find it striking, nej a-ma-zing, that SVT doesn’t oblige all vocals to be live.

So looking at the Globen line-up I’d say the Swedes aren’t afraid to dump the old clichés and that SVT got what they wanted: with the exception of Björn Ranelid all finalists are international charts ready. An a-ma-zing achievement after the past couple of weeks. But I’m hardly a-ma-zed or overwhelmed. If I’d have to call one name for Baku right now I’d put my money on Loreen. Sista Chansen for my crystal ball…

In the meantime Finland decided on their entry as well and… they went Swedish for the second time in their nation’s history. I have to get used to Pernilla Karlsson‘s accent  but I hope she keeps her little ballad in Swedish as it makes her rather conservative entry a tad more special. I quite like it, but I’d hoped for something more groundbreaking from a country who changed the selection procedure to be more charts appealing. Check the video and let me know if you find it a-ma-zing…

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