While some of the hardcore Schlager fans complained about this year’s Melodifestivalen, as always there were plenty of great songs competing to represent Sweden. Robin Stjernberg made history as the first Andra Chansen qualifier to win Melodifestivalen in an electrifying final. His fairytale story might have ended on a lukewarm note in Malmö, but it’s easy to forget another Andra Chansen qualifier that managed the rare feat of finishing top 5.
Yes, Anton Ewald made his debut as a Melodifestivalen singer this year with the breakout hit of the season “Begging”. It wasn’t his first time on the MF stage though, debuting as a dancer with Velvet in 2009, as well as dancing & choreographing both Danny Saucedo’s “Amazing” and Andreas Lundstedt’s “Aldrig Aldrig” in 2012. Busy guy.
I thought he was a surefire qualifier in his semi-final, but lost out to two songs he would later defeat in the final. Before that, he earned his place there in second-chance round Andra Chansen with a much more polished performance. He might not have won, but the exposure of a Melodifestivalen Final is highly-prized in Sweden, and with the dust and glitter settling after Malmö’s Eurovision, it’s time for some new material.
Anton’s “A” EP is his first big release, competing against the other big Melodifestivalen alumni guys. The danger is that Anton might struggle to stand out when more established artists like Danny Saucedo and Eric Saade are working with similar sounds. All I know is that there were plenty of people losing their shit to “Begging” in Malmö, and that’s a very good sign!
Fans of “Begging” won’t be disappointed, and 5-track “A” is an energetic collection of fresh pop tracks with an R’n’B slant to them. Sure, some of it – such as first track “Human” – has shades of Saade about it, but that’s not a bad thing. The big synth beat to “Human” might feel like a bit of a sluggish start to the tempo, but it’s a good opening track even though Anton’s vocals get a bit lost in the big production.
“Can’t hold back” is a much more instantly appealing track, and a natural successor to “Begging”. I can easily see this as a future single, I hope it is. In contrast to the arena-chanting vocals of “Human”, this track has more of a spotlight on Anton’s vocals. I think it really benefits there, he’s got a nice tone and high register to his voice. This is more like the sort of dance-pop I’m into, with a solid chorus and no let up in the energy levels.
“Would that make you love me” takes the best of both worlds from the first two songs. The R’n’B vibe is more pronounced here, but his vocals are also at the front. I think this sound is one of his strengths, and the best shot he has to distinguish himself from Saade. Anton’s trying to seduce on this 90’s-tinged track, a bit of R’n’B pop never goes out of style if it’s done right. This has really grown on me, really like it.
Rounding off the new tracks is “Brand New“, with an first verse that reminds me of Black Eyed Peas at their best, but then it morphs into a trancey pop chorus. The chorus has a bit of a strange melody to it, and the song as a whole has a difficult time to feel like a complete work. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, I really like the falsetto breakdown before the chorus. I think on the dance-pop scale it will be overshadowed by “Begging” but a solid effort.
Finally, the one that started it all off, “Begging“. It has only improved since I first heard it, those tight 80’s synth hooks, those big dancefloor filling choruses. I love singing along to this in the car, *awoo*! Just really well-executed pop music without feeling cheesy at all, and proof that Swedes do it better. The choreography for the Melodifestivalen performance was confident, impressive and raised the song even further.
It makes me think that “A” would be even more enjoyable with Anton performing live. I mean, how far can you get with dance music when you’re sitting at a laptop? Anton’s off to a great start with this EP, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the debut album!
You can watch the lyric video for “Can’t hold back” here.