Round three of Sweden’s glittering programme of Eurovision selection events was hosted in Sweden’s second city Göteburg last night. Its purpose was to whittle eight entrants down to another two qualifiers for the final in 3 weeks’ time, and throw a lifeline to two acts by sending them to second-chance round Andra Chansen in 2 weeks’ time.
It’s been a star-studded Melodifestivalen so far, with some very notable former entrants such as YOHIO and Sanna Nielsen, former Swedish Eurovision entrant Martin Stenmarck and even former Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou proceed to later stages. Göteburg has its own selection of ‘names’ too; serial MF entrant Shirley Clamp, last year’s direct-to-final qualifer State of Drama, and an unexpected pairing of Dr. Alban (of “It’s my life” fame) & early 00’s Swedish singer Jessica Folcker. Frederik Kempe has another twink in the wings too, with Oscar Zia performing the third Kempe song in as many heats.
So let’s see how they got on, in yet another massive arena – this time Göteburg’s amazingly-named Scandinavium!
Could have done without seeing Anders in a dress, did I catch a joke about “Biggest Loser” there? He’s got some solid shoulders, mercy! It’s a shame I pick up practically none of the humour of this should without knowing any Swedish. Whatever, here are the songs!
Outtrigger – Echo
Is one of them in a straitjacket? Oh lord… it’s screaming thrash metal with the band in cages. I guess we have the track I’m hoping doesn’t get through. It’s not as bad as it starts off though, if anything it’s rather ordinary by the standards of the last decade of nu-metal. Sure there are a few screamy bits but a melody is pretty alright. Of course it rails against what I want to listen to at MF but why shouldn’t it be there if it represents Swedish tastes?
EKO – Red
I think these were the wildcard entry, picked by winning a Swedish song contest for unknowns last summer, giving them automatic entry to Melodifestivalen. Typically these wildcards have never done well, but this is rather god. She reminds me of Toyah Wilcox. This is rather reminiscent of Margaret Berger’s “Feed you my love” from last year’s Eurovision, isn’t it?
It’s more understated and hinges more on vocals and synths rather than pure impact. I really like it actually, a really good performance, some top-drawer Swedish synthpop.
Oscar Zia – Yes we can
It’s time for Kempe track of the week, and another twinky young man in the long tradition, and automatically a strong favourite to qualify. But will he sing like a dancer, like so many before him? I love that gimmick with the TV screens. This seems pretty standard Swedish pop, if a little dated to the *NSYNC days. Apart from the TVs, no surprises, nothing groundbreaking but a strong tune, good staging, decent vocals, I won’t be sad to see this inevitably qualify.
Shirley Clamp – Burning alive
But there’s nothing inevitable about Shirley’s success in Melodifestivalen, making repeated attempts to represent Sweden at Eurovision, but it’s never quite happened. But she’s back with a stripped-back ballad. Didn’t hurt Sanna, did it? But this one ups the gay ante with dramatic percussion and angelic backing singers. Oh bless her, this is really good, and giving it everything with the vocals. This is everything you need to see from a MF ballad.
State of Drama – All we are
Having qualified straight to the final last year, was it just a fluke for the college-rock group? Looks like it, it’s generic as you like with those big crowd-voices for backing vocals, even down to the lead singer loving the camera a bit too much, even resorting to a megaphone when the camera threatens to look at the band too much. I feel like I’ve heard this song dozens of times over the last few years, and it even makes three minutes drag… did he seriously just wave the mic at the audience to sing along? Give me strength!
CajsaStina Åkerström – En enkel sång
Not a wildcard in the literal sense EKO were, but her low-key entrance seems a little at odds with the energy of the other tracks. It’s a laid-back throwback of a folky ballad, with everything resting on the lady herself, no gimmicks. Didn’t stop “Songbird” qualifying though. As nice as this is, it’s no “Songbird”. I can’t see this getting anywhere, but it’s pleasant and charming all the same.
Ace Wilder – Busy doin’ nothin’
What the hell was that interlude? Why couldn’t that guy be presenting? She seems fun… hopefully not the Swedish Jessie J or anything. It’s a nice tempo, it’s got that faux-country tinge in places, hinting at an Avicii-style dance track, but it’s more of a riotous Guetta track about wanting money for nothing. Not exactly aspirational, but it’s a decent song, that chorus is good. Her vocals are a bit flimsy though, which is alright on the shoutier noise bits, but it does feel a little limited. I smell 8th place perhaps..
Dr. Alban & Jessica Folcker – Around the world
In the pimp slot goes this dynamic duo, I wonder if it’ll be as much of a 90s throwback as their origins might suggest. A reggae-inspired mid-tempo dance track seems like a bit of a hard sell, but I guess the African rhythms to Panetoz did well last week. The main failing is Dr Alban’s terrible vocals and the dismal lyrics. It could had worked if Jessica’s skills as a vocalist had been put centre stage instead of extended Dr Alban verses. A hot mess that I don’t expect to see in Andra Chansen, let alone the final.
Well… I’m not quite sure how this will pan out. Oscar Zia seems like a shoe-in for a Direkt-til-Finalen slot. I’d love to see Shirley Clamp or EKO join him, but I expect one of the rock acts might upset things. I think those three really need to get SOMETHING though.
Of the ropey remainders I’d be happy with any of the others making up the numbers except for State of Drama, but on paper they seem the most likely to do well. I just hope Shirley isn’t totally shafted, that’s all I ask…
It’s interval time though, and Sochi the musical! Sadly I understand none of it, but I’m enjoying the spectacle of the yellow gimp-outfitted performers re-enacting the sports, and … what the hell is this about? A snow-angel tournament to a Bohemian Rhapsody-style backing? Bizarre but fun. But never mind that, it’s the RESULTAT!!
The top 5 are… Outrigger (sigh), Ace Wilder (WTF!?), State of Drama (aghh!), Oscar Zia (well duh) and… Dr Alban & Jessica… WHAT THE FUCK?!
Poor Shirley came 6th (robbed), Eko came 8th, true to form (robbed) and.. CajsaStina was 7th. That could only have gone worse if Oscar had been pushed out by CajsaStina, unlikely as that was. Dismal, and I feel terribly for Shirley, is she just not liked or something? I just hope Oscar goes to the final with… oh I don’t know, Outrigger?
I suspect Ace Wilder will get ditched in 5th, but I hope it’ll be State of Drama.
Another interlude first though with that annoying Clara woman. I bet she’s like the Swedish Fearne Cotton. Oh it’s that hairy bloke stage manager from Malmö! I guess he is an infamous figure at MF too, and his request to get some water for Anders leads to a ridiculous chain of events in Göteburg, and even involves a cameo from sexy gay football player Anton Hysen.
Alice Babs died this week too, not a name I was familiar with, but she sang the first ever Swedish Eurovision entry, so there’s a little musical interlude for her.
Enough of that, off to the final go… Oscar Zia! Not a big surprise but a bit of good news at least … I really don’t know who else I want though, am I REALLY rooting for Outrigger?
Into Andra Chansen go… Outrigger. Bugger. Joining them are State of Drama. What!? I can’t believe either of these remaining acts came in the top 2. I can easily believe they came 5th though!
But there has to be a qualifer, and incredibly it was Ace Wilder. She looks as shocked as anyone though, even looking bemused she’d made it to the top 5. At least I quite like the song, I just never saw it as a DTF qualifier! What a bonkers heat this has been, let’s never speak of it again!