Finally time to resume the last leg of that Absolute Schlager CD. It has been a lot of fun (by and large), but I must say CD3 isn’t the best of the bunch. Not that it’s bad, just not as great as Disc 2 in my opinion.
10 ABBA – Waterloo – Well no introduction needed here, one of the crown jewels in the history of Schlager, winning the 1974 Eurovision and launching one of the biggest bands there’s ever been. It’s very easy for this to be overexposed, as so many of ABBA’s big hits seem to be, at the expense of several great songs in their repertoire. But this is a classic for a reason, and is as timeless as ever. I just love the resignation in it, like “what’s the point fighting this?”, it just has that lovely “oh bollocks to all the drama, let’s just have fun” feel of an office party at the end of a difficult year. Or something.
06 Björn Skifs – Michelangelo – Bit of an odd choice on paper, from a man who represented Sweden twice at Eurovision, they select this 5th place Melodifestivalen entry. Has the same 70s naffness of Waterloo, but not that magic spark, it just feels a bit dated to me, and there’s not really enough to the chorus to get me too into it.
09 Carola – Evighet – Now THIS I know, or more precisely the English version “Invincible”. A pretty gay day in Athens when this former winner returned to represent her country in 2006. It’s a powerful pop song, but I never really got on board with her vocals, I guess they are an acquired taste but they seemed a bit shaky to me. The song is a triumph though, and I do recall some top-class flag waving at the time. It reversed Sweden’s Eurovision fortunes for a year, coming 5th, but it was a long time before they’d reach this high again (though in my opinion, Hero is much better).
08 Lena Philipsson – Kärleken Är Evig – 1986’s Melodifestivalen runner-up, and a rather lovely pop song. Obviously DRIPPING in 80s production (and that album cover really is beautiful…), but still really quite nice. Not really comparable with the later Lena output I’ve heard, but that chorus is lovely and memorable.
09 Shirley Clamp – Att Älska Dig – Coming 4th in 2005’s Melodifestivalen, this is a pretty lush dancey-pop track. Actually puts me in the mindset of Sash!, which is a good thing in my book, I think that’s mostly the production though. I love the chorus, not dissimilar to Carola’s Evighet the following year. I don’t recall hearing a lot of Shirley, aside from her 2011 MF entry (one of several she’s made over the years). This is really great though.
08 E.M.D. – Baby Goodbye – I’ve recently discovered that my latest favourite Danny Saucedo is a member of this pick’n’mix of Swedish Idol entrants. It doesn’t really sound a lot like his sort of stuff. It’s catchy and I love the production, but it doesn’t quite fire on all cylinders for me. The harmonies are a bit of a waste, they all sound the same! Key change as always makes everything better.
10 Agnes – Love Love Love – Oh god I love this woman. Or what I’ve heard anyway, Release me was a triumph, as were the other singles from her Dance Love Pop album. I’d heard of this song quite a while ago but I don’t think I’d heard it before now. It’s really a dream, she’s sick of waiting for the one and just wants love NOW. That chorus is glorious and heartwarming. It might have only come 8th in 2009’s Melodifestivalen, but it’s honestly one of my favourite discoveries from this whole Schlager CD set.
06 Tomas Ledin – Det Ligger I Luften – Back to 1979’s Melodifestivalen now, with this 2nd-placer. After a ropey start, it gets into a surprisingly disco tempo. It doesn’t stay that good though, it quickly turns into something I’d imagine from a ropey 80s movie. I don’t like his strained shouty voice really, this doesn’t do a lot for me
06 Anna Book – ABC – Hmm, was she some child-star? Sounds like she was only 15 when this was a 5th place finish in 1986’s Melodifestivalen final. I don’t really see the appeal, her vocals are alright but the tune is quite annoying, and the cringey faux-rock-pop backing doesn’t really help things. I do like the fact that she had an album called Killsnack though.
06 Malta – Sommaren Som Aldrig Säger Nej – Ack, what’s this, folk music? I wanted fun dancepop, not Simon and Garfunkel. Apparently this was 5th in the 1973 Eurovision, though the wiki page for that final seems to have forgotten that…? Things brighten up a bit, but this isn’t really much to write home about. This even beat ABBA’s first Eurovision entry “Ring Ring”, but I suppose if Waterloo hadn’t happened, who knows what the world would like now (probably destroyed).
08 Chips – Dag Efter Dag – More 80s cheese now, but a bit more singalong naffness to it. Sounds like several songs of that time, and this didn’t exactly light up the Melodifestivalen that year (did she just sing Faloola??). But it’s quite fun, another sort of Christmas party song, I can’t quite put my finger one what it reminds me of, but it’s all good.
07 Pernilla Whalgren And Jan Johansen – Let Your Spirit Fly – I really loved Pernilla’s 2010 entry, and this is still rather good (just not so much). A pacey midtempo, it’s all a bit happy clappy and schmaltzy, it weighs the song down a bit too much to get me too excited. Nice enough but I’m sure it would have floundered a bit had it gone one better and represented at the 2003 Eurovision contest.
10 Måns Zelmerlöw – Hope And Glory – Oh Måns! I love this guy. The MZW album might have been a bit patchy, and this itself wasn’t really a patch on Cara Mia a few years before, but it’s a pretty hot pop song. Really singable, and a great pop song all round. Might not have quite the catchiness and spectacle of Cara Mia, but this is a great addition to my collection. The key change is super too. I guess this might have floundered a bit in the Eurovision final, I can’t really see it doing much better than Malena’s weak finish, but I enjoyed it anyway.
08 BWO – Temple Of Love – On to an act I HAVE done a brief investigation of, having a few goes at their somewhat samey greatest hits collection a little while ago. I do while like them but there’s something a bit too knowing and calculated for them to as much fun as other acts. Coming 2nd behind Carola in 2006’s Melodifestivalen, it’s catchy enough but hasn’t quite got enough of a hook. A bit like a watered-down Alcazar song without the benefit of female harmonies. It’s good but not incredible.
06 Janne Lucas – Växeln Hallå – A 1980 MF second-placer now, and a bit too cheese-rock for my tastes really, like the male-fronted album tracks you often had to sit through on ABBA albums while you were waiting for the better stuff. Only it’s not even THAT good. The chorus is plenty catchy, and I suppose that schoolgirl chant is alright if you’re into that, but not me. Lots of energy but … *shrug*
06 Chattanooga – Hallå Hela Pressen – Off to 1982, and a definite 80s feel to this. A bit of that sort of alternative rock-chick style to this one, or as close as you can get with a pretty straight-up pop song. It sounds familiar, not sure what it’s reminding me of style-wise, but it’s fair to say it’s not really my thing. Naff guitar solo bits and some pretty ropey harmonies to see us out, sigh.
08 Sarah Dawn Finer – I Remember Love – Oh now I like her, I liked her Moving On song, and this has the makings of a big ballad. 4th in 2007’s MF final, and doesn’t quite have the killer moments to turn it into a great song. Her voice is nice in tone, if a little nondescript. She comes across as being a bit of a showoff pain-in-the-arse in the few clips I’ve seen of her (hello Eurovision vote-giving). It builds nicely but it feels like it’s missing a BIG key change somewhere to really get the drama going, but it just sort of peters out.
06 Jill Johnson – Kärleken Är – Well I wasn’t a fan of her song Crazy in love particularly, but let’s go back to when she represented Sweden in 1998’s Eurovision. She came 10th, about right judging by this. Her voice is nice, but the song is pretty average. Maybe this would have been nicer in 1998, when Lighthouse Family roamed the Earth, and so on. Just sort of pootles along, I’m not really that fussed.
07 Cecilia Vennersten – Det Vacraste – Runner up in 1995’s Melodifestivalen, and seems to have been a massive hit there. It does feel like 1995 now, like an Enya song or something. It’s quite pleasant and floaty, like a Christmas song almost really. But presumably this would have been a hit in Spring/Summer? Who knows, I guess they get a lot of snow in Sweden. It’s alright.
08 One More Time – Den Vilda – Another that made it to Eurovision, this time 3rd place in 1996’s contest, a pretty good showing considering the pedigree of some of these songs. Forget what I said before, THIS is a lot more like an Enya song! Apparently they wrote the previous track too, and are pretty solid pedigree themselves, counting a son of ABBA amongst their number, and Nanne Grönvall in there too. The song has a memorable melody, another Christmassy feel, and it’s quite sweeping and waltzy. Very nice.
07 Roger Pontare – När Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn – Another Swedish representative, this time 2000’s entry, and what I gather was a bit of an environmental message, dragging on a few eskimos to accompany him onstage. It sounds quite old fashioned considering it’s only 11 years old, but his rough-sounding vocals come across quite well in a strange way. Can’t say I’m too hot on the traditional vocals in the middle-8, but there it is. A bit much really, but it could have sounded like terrible dad-rock if handled differently.
07 Nordman – I Lågornas Sken – Is that a crow? Well at least that was vaguely in key, we are treated to some rather iffy shout-rock now. There’s effort to get into a tune, and mostly they succeed, but I guess this guy isn’t a born singer. It’s a bit strained, and evidently a bit of an alternative vote in 2008’s Melodifestivalen. The chorus isn’t half bad really, but it’s not the most pleasant voice to listen to. Have a lozenge!
07 E-Type – Paradise – Hmm, I hope DJ Sammy’s lawyers were listening here. Coming just 2 short years after Heaven, there’s an uncannily similar song called Paradise with practically the same synth hook. Despite me loving that DJ Sammy song, this guys vocals are just annoying, like a featured vocal from Eiffel 65 or something awful. I like a bit of a shit trance music, particularly from the early 00s, but this really doesn’t do it for me. He looks like a bit of a state too.
05 The Poodles – Night Of Passion – Oh Christ, have we run out of pop music already? I presume this isn’t totally serious rock music, it sounds like a naff parody act. His vocals are pretty dreadful and shrill too, they are laying it on a bit THICK to say the least. Not sure how serious this is supposed to be, but it gives me earache, this is one genre I really don’t like to get into. In Eurovision, this stuff is best left to clueless Macedonians or somesuch.
06 H.E.A.T – 1000 Miles – Another naff rock track, why are they saving all these for the end? Did we even need them at all? Lordi have a lot to answer for, that’s all I can say. This one is a bit more palatable than the Poodles’ effort, and the chorus is fine enough, but it just leaves me cold really, I wouldn’t choose to listen to this again.
06 P-Bros ft Trexx & Olga P – Tingalin – Not really sure about this, from what I can tell from Swedish wikipedia, this was a banned entry from the 2009 Melodifestivalen (for Moscow’s Eurovision final), so a Russian-themed track evidently had some controversial content? It’s a pretty rubbish effort at a novelty track, but I guess it could have at least made an impact. Sweden are above novelty entries though, aren’t they? It’s a pretty bog-standard eurodance bit of nonsense with a semi-catchy chorus, and a bit of Tetris music, it’s almost like a medley with some shitty rapping over the top of it.
Keepers for the iPod: Waterloo, Evighet/Invincible, Att Älska Dig, Love love love, Hope & Glory, Temple of love