I’ve been a bad, bad fanboy all MF season: due to social engagements I’ve only watched semi 1 live, the others I’ve had to catch up with afterwards. So I haven’t had time to review every single entry in every single show. Hm, does that sound like I didn’t really feel like it? I wonder why…
Like many, many other people (especially in Sweden, if I am to believe Aftonbladet and Expressen) I find the 2014 edition highly tiresome. Unlike those newspapers, I’m not that surprised as I’ve been rolling my eyes and shrugging my shoulders for a couple of years now as the recipe for MF has been the same for over a decade. As we all know: eating the same thing over and over again makes you either very skinny or very fat, and neither is a healthy state of being. In other words: the washing is becoming extremely thin, with the same faces popping up every year (or every other year) and new faces being split down our throats for the sake of ‘staying fresh’. Which is a paradox: the organisation is so busy with keeping the show as interesting as possible for both MF fans ànd non MF fans that the concept ends up going absolutely nowhere. The ‘old’ faces tend to repeat themselves or get lost in new trends that make them look ridiculous, while the ‘new’ faces are busy living up to old standards just to fit in the MF format. So tiresome. When did we stop looking at the quality of it all? The ultimate purpose is still to find the next winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, no? I know a career in Sweden is important as well, but by focusing on so much diversity the audience tends to get lost in the woods a bit.
So it’s all the more amazing that out of four semis, filled with a very wide variety of styles and songs, the final selection ends up being surprisingly OK if you look at the line up. Would I love to have seen Pink Pistols, Martin Stenmarck and EKO in the Friends Arena come Saturday? Sure. But the ten songs that have been selected do seem to have an international quality to them. Just a pity that it doesn’t surprise at all.
1. Anton Ewald – Natural
Your usual suspect in MF: does great one year and comes back the next with a song that’s not quite as good as that first attempt. Natural sounds like it could be in charts around Europe, but whether it would top those charts is highly questionnable. As are Anton’s vocals at times: when he says he wants to lose control I don’t think he wants to be thàt literal. Kuddos for trying to be dynamic on stage while singing, but when one starts to suffer from the other you need to compromise… Plus, being in the dark like that makes half the performance almost disappear anyway. Hasn’t Russia 2011 taught you anything? Come to think of it, the entire performance reminds me of that one. I know he wants to be Eric Saade, but he ends up being Alex Vorobyov. Poor Anton. I don’t see this winning. At all.
2. Ellen Benediktsson – Songbird
This is straight up my ally. A melancholic lullaby, sung by someone who tells a story with every single note that comes out of her mouth. Ellen sings this beautifully and knows how to capture the attention all by herself without drowning in that dangerous pool of seeking attention. The song does have some lines that sound awfully familiar when it comes to the melody, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Does help to remember it as it’s not the easiest one of the bunch. And with a title like Songbird you’re immediately compared to thàt classic, which in my mind will live on forever in the version by Eva Cassidy. It survives that comparison in my eyes. I would love for this to win MF this year? Which means it’s doomed of course. As if it wasn’t already, being ‘drawn’ at the cursed second position. I’ll still cross my fingers for it.
3. Alcazar – Blame it on the disco
The first of three (!!!) entries by the songwriting team that consists of Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Hamid “K-One” Pirouzpanah, that luckily do not sound alike at all. Which is a claim that cannot be made for this song itself, as it’s a copy paste of Alcazar’s last entry in 2009. Seriously, every time I try to sing this entry I end up singing ‘Blame it on the disco, blame it on the lights, I could be your lover hold on tight‘. It screams Alcazar though, and they endless disco references really work this time – from the giant glitterball to the cliché outfits on the girls. The performance delivers and the whole thing basically screams FUN. Though I still miss Annikafiore. I do wonder how much of the vocals in the chorus are actually live, which kinda puts me off it a bit. The fact that this comes right after Songbird could either damage both songs or make sure they both end up really high. This is a bit too by the book for me however to really want to see it win…
4. Oscar Zia – Yes we can
When I first saw this I called it a bleak Anton Ewald copy. So you can take everything I said about Anton Ewald, paste it here and add a couple of eyerolls. This is all performance for me, and not even original at that. The vocals are simply not on par, especially towards the end of the song, and using ‘Yes we can’ as a catchphrase is simply too lame for words. All of this has been done before, and better at that. This has been written by Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Hamid “K-One” Pirouzpanah as well, they seem to specialise in recycling… A showfiller, from my point of view, and shouldn’t stand a chance in hell.
5. Linnus Svenning – Bröder
Yay, an entry in Swedish! Only two to be found in this year’s final so I’m inclined to favor this already. But. It didn’t take me long to guess who was behind this (it was either Thomas G:Son or Fredrik Kempe, and it is indeed the latter one), that’s how run of the mill this sounds. The lyrics do get an extra dimension to it when you think of the fact that it’s based on Linnus’ experience in dealing with his brother’s death, but the fact that something that lifechanging got Kempefied does not sit right with me. Which puts me on the fence about this entry. Linnus does an adequate job though. Don’t know if I would be able to tell my story like that without sobbing. I don’t think this will set the scoreboard on fire however.
6. Helena Paparizou – Survivor
I’ve never been a real Paparizou fan I have to say – she was too sulky in 2001 for that cheery song, and I didn’t quite get the hype around her 2005 entry. Her stern attitude does help her in this entry though, and girlfriend sure knows how to fill a stage all by herself. That’s not a sneer on her body, I actually think she looks a lot better with her curves, but more of a compliment on her professional attitude. It was a bit of a mystery to me why she had to go through Andra Chansen to get into the final as I think she totally nails this entry, which sounds very contemporary (mid tempo ballads are topping the charts worldwide) and can still work within a Eurovision context (hello, Azerbaijan 2010…and 2011…and 2012!). Last year’s winner came out of AC, and this year’s might as well! I woudn’t mind seeing Helena in Copenhagen. But in a more colorful dress, thanks.
7. YOHIO – Till the end
Another one to come back the year after he got a great result (he ended up 2nd in 2013 after winning the televote) and his entry’s a tad weaker as well. Is it catchy? Kind of. Does it sound contemporary? Not entirely, as the days of Tokyo Hotel have since long gone. Is YOHIO vocally up to scratch? Sometimes. There are simply too many elements in this entry that make me mumble ‘whatever’ one time too many. I don’t see the magic in this, it slides into greyness even when it’s still going on. If Sweden picks this they will get another mid table result I’m afraid. They won’t, though. I simply don’t see it happen.
8. Sanna Nielsen – Undo
The third entry by the Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Hamid “K-One” Pirouzpanah trio and the first one that sounds remotely ‘original’. Not that we haven’t heard ballads like this one in the past but at least it can stand on its own. Not in the least thanks to Sanna Nielsen, who gives this entry an extra dimension. Vocally that is, as she doesn’t seem nearly sad enough to make this ballad believable to me. She looks like she hasn’t been sad in quite a while which makes this entry quite plastic to me. But all that aside I simply cannot get over the phrase ‘undo my sad’. Undo my sad??? Really???? I’ll never stop rolling my eyes if this wins until Eurovision is over come May. I wonder if the international juries will go for this over Helena. I really do. Thén Sanna will have a sad to undo.
9. Panetoz – Efter solsken
I wasn’t a big fan of France 2010, nor am I a big hiphop fan, so I’m surprised to find myself liking this VERY much. It’s just so happy and smells like spring! Pity the guys are dressed in black, doesn’t suit (haha!) the vibe at all. The music sells this entry, as does the quirky choreography. One big BUT though: the white guy sticks out like a sore thumb. Not only does he miss a couple of notes and timing in his solo pieces but he struggles with the choreo the entire way through. Very distracting. I’m surprised the guys get to perform 9th as well – does Björkman know something we don’t? Would make a very surprising entry for Sweden. Don’t think it will happen though #sadface
10. Ace Wilder – Busy doin’ nothing
Where do I begin with this one? First off: this sounds VERY catchy, especially in the ‘don’t wanna work’ bits – I could easily see this topping the charts all around Europe (although it would sounds quite/too ironic in some economies…). Ace Wilder looks the part as well, in an outfit that basically screams “I’m having a lazy day” (although it does look a bit TOO comfy clothes to fit on stage). I can even live with her vocals (although they tend to get very all over the place towards the end). The big problem I have with this entry is (and now we come to one of my pet pieves in MF) that this will probably sound a lot different in Copenhagen when it’s performed completely live – which will automatically mean it will come across a lot different as well. I fear this could look very clumsy and might even be a contender for getting stuck in the semi if the presentation is not up to scratch. In other words: the biggest gamble for Sweden to take. Would I mind it? Not at all. But I think there are better contenders for Eurovision glory in this final than this one.
We’ve already seen how the Swedish public voted, it will be interesting to see how they will vote in the final. And the international juries of course, who determined the outcome of last year’s final. These are the countries having a say on Saturday:
• United Kingdom
I’m rooting for Ellen, Panetoz and Helena. Which probably means either Sanna, Yohio or Ace Wilder will make it.
What do you think?
Follow the final live at http://www.svt.se/melodifestivalen and let’s meet on Twitter to exchange opinions!
Next week we’ll know almost all entries for this year’s ESC and I’ll start my countdown…