After a debatably good set of results for Heat 1, we are off to Linköping in the South-east of Sweden for our next eight hopefuls who want that Swedish ticket to Copenhagen. Amongst them are a few big names – both stars & writers. We’ve got the lone G:Son co-write, a former MF winner Martin Stenmarck, and even the favourite to win Melodifestivalen by the unsinkable Sanna Nielsen (written by the also-unsinkable Frederik Kempe).
Sanna entered 6 times before now, and every song has ended up in the final. Curiously every entry has finished at a different rank, and they have all finished top 8; within this group she’s only avoided coming 6th and 1st, so you can imagine which of those she’d prefer. Forget Helena Paparizou, Sanna is the real Melodifestivalen survivor.
Now, one blog I followed (until last night) loudly trumpeted the two qualifiers in their blog post titles, so I’m a little annoyed by that. It won’t happen again. However, I don’t know the two Andra Chansen picks so I guess that’s something. Let’s go!
For an ABBA tribute segment celebrating 40 years since Eurovision winner “Waterloo” (and Herrey’s “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley” 30 years ago), it was a bit odd to only hear a Swedish rendition of Cliff Richard’s “Congratulations”, but whatever, a fun little opener.
J.E.M. – Love Trigger
Cutting their teeth on Sweden’s X-Factor, J.E.M. have the might of G:Son behind this song. That’s some recommendation! This sounds like a Pitbull-style EDM track. No, maybe a clubbier version of Eric Saade’s “Hearts in the air” – I think, there might be another of his tracks that sound even more similar.
That said, I really like this, plenty of energy and the blonde girl has vocals to support the whole thing. Definitely starting off in the right direction, and certainly throwing plenty at this performance.
The Refreshments – Hallelujah
This rock’n’roll band have been popular in Sweden for decades so they have to be a bit of a wildcard. It’s not your typical MF group, and something strange usually finds its way to the final each year. I wonder if it will be this one? I’m not convinced myself, this is as uninspiring as I feared.
Not that I’ve got anything against people keeping the 50s alive, but it doesn’t feel like it’s moved on at all – I suppose that’s the point. You either like this sort of thing or your don’t; it’s not going to win any new fans.
Manda – Glow
First time at MF for Manda, but is she here as more than cannon fodder? Hailing from X-Factor too, she’s got The Debs on writing duties, who wrote Robin Stjernberg’s “You” that won last year. I feel this is going to break in Katy Perry’s “Firework” at any second. Or maybe even hit the right key – she’s a bit shaky.
It had shades of “You” too which is nothing bad, it’s a great example of the modern pop MF can produce. Some disco strings too, and towering violinists too. It lacks the special something to take it over the edge but I imagine listening to this a lot in its studio version.
Panetoz – Efter Solsken
A multi-national group with an African (and erm… Finnish) flavour, Panetoz had a big hit a few years ago. They seem to get the crowd whipped up anyway, even if those verses are a bit of a mess, though the vocals come together for the choruses.
There’s a bit too much content in here to ever make it a karaoke classic, but there is something about it, I’ll give them that. African styles – like the Refreshments’ 50s throwback – will either work or it won’t, but having had a big hit recently, they’ve got a decent shot.
Pink Pistols – I am somebody
Has it not been gay enough yet? Well the remnants of After Dark & Straight Up (whoever they were) have formed a supergroup to try and rival even Alcazar. Goodness knows what this will end up like. It turns out, pretty much like Alcazar, albeit with a harder, clubbier sound.
It’s like club-schlager, with a curiously downbeat slant to it – “Can anybody hear me?”, and “I am somebody”. I’m not sure if I feel empowered but they gave it all they could and it is one of my favourites so far tonight. 7th place though I reckon!
Sanna Nielsen – Undo
So this is the one to beat. I only know a few of Sanna’s songs but she always seems to bring it in the performance. Indeed she’s won the public vote once too, losing to Charlotte Perrelli on the jury vote. I hope she finally makes it, and Frederik Kempe’s 2nd entry (so far) certainly has everything going for it on paper. But what of the song?
I love those suspended crystals! We haven’t had a ballad tonight and this is a potent one, and they know she’s the selling point, given the minimal staging. I got goosebumps! I’m not sure if it will go all the way, but good lord I can see it happening.
Little Great Things – Set yourself free
Sanna’s got a formidable MF rep, but we’ve got a former winner soon, and now Benny from ABBA’s grandchildren are weighing in. Talk about lineage! State of Drama were a shock qualifier last year, could this brand of pop-rock be another winner? It’s a bit harder-sounding this time though.
Lasers! Oh I’m on board, it starts off really well, though some of the shoutier moments in the chorus are iffy. Rapid-fire delivery, but that lead vocalist is really good. You know, for a rock entry I really quite like this one, dare I say I could even see this at Eurovision surpassing expectations. We’ll see.
Martin Stenmarck – När änglarna går hem
Maybe not Sweden’s finest hour in Eurovision, but he won MF in 2005 and that’s gives him an edge, let alone the fact he’s closing the performance segment. Plus I don’t remember him being as hot as he is now… ahem.
Oh now this is rather good – another stadium-sized bit of dance pop that only MF would produce. I love the radiating light show behind him (slightly ruined by the constant panning shots). This is really good, very uplifting and loads better than “Las Vegas”. That last bit too, amazing! He’s won me over anyway.
So… that’s our lot. A great selection too, much better than the first heat. If The Refreshments stay away from the final and Andra Chansen, I think I’d be happy with pretty much any result, the rest are all great songs. Sanna deserves to win this damn thing finally though.
We finally get the big ABBA moment though, even if it’s a bizarre dance section with no singing. I think the UN sanctioned no more vocal performances of “Waterloo” after that abomination in the Baku semi-final a few years ago. Shame they don’t do the same for this Clara woman. But that’s it! RESULTAT!
So, into the top 5 go… Sanna Nielsen, The Refreshments (ugh), J.E.M., Panetoz and… Martin Stenmarck. I totally called 7th place for Pink Pistols! Aww… Manda coming last isn’t a big surprise, and Little Great Things in 6th sound about right, but I thought they’d do better. Just a shame we’ve still got the Refreshments in the mix.
After a skit where Nour gets owned by a little girl, Sean Banan does a tribute to Herreys with a bizarre puppet version of “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley”. Just… I don’t know where to start with THAT. Fortunately it ends with the guy themselves shimmying their way through a performance.
So off to the final goes… Sanna Nielsen! AGAIN! I thought they might save that for the big Finalen-or-bust bit for a bit of drama, but I guess she must be such a runaway favourite it’s not even worth it. We got another great performance, perhaps even better this time.
Off to Andra Chansen go J.E.M, a bit of a surprise but I like it. Joining them is… thank God, it’s Martin Stenmarck. I say that because I know whoever ended up against Panetoz for the last final spot was sunk in 5th place, and fortunately that’s where The Refreshments ended up.
Panetoz weren’t exactly a pick for the final, but it’s certainly a good track. A decent set of results though, I like all four qualifiers, even if J.E.M. might need a bit of work to win me over.
So there we are – off to Göteborg next week for a week slightly dimmer in star power, though we have the returns of Shirley Clamp, State of Drama and Jessica Folcker to look forward to. See you there!