Monday, May 02, 2016

Notes from National Finals: Melodifestivalen 2016 - Week 4

Week 4: Gävle 27.02.2016

Melodifestivalen headed to the home of this wonderful creature!

Of course the Christmas goat was long gone by February and the town was the centre of attention for a different reason.  Week 4, a.k.a. "the one with the winner" also had a good reason to watch, as the week's co-presenter was none other than the mighty Sarah Dawn Finer.  She and Gina kicked the show off in style with a Swedish re-write of Guy Sebastian's "Tonight Again".  

There was also a very emotional interval act with a number called "Hela Sveriges Sång" with Gina singing in Arabic, Sarah singing in Hebrew and special guest Jon Henrik Fjällgren doing what he does best, a bit of jojk.  

Going direkt
"If I Were Sorry" - Frans
"Youniverse" - Molly Sandén

But what of this week's entries?  The general expectation before this year's contest was that it had Molly Sandén's name on it, and it was no surprise when she was awarded the mythical "pimp slot" in the final heat. But before even hearing the song, I was majorly cringing over the title - "Youniverse" (oh FFS!) And by the time Molly finally performed the song, I cringed again.  Ridiculous staging - check!   Stupid hand-choreography - check!  And what a disappointing song - check! 

Don't get me wrong.  I like Molly.  She's had some good hit singles, she is talented, gorgeous and a great role model for young women.  Oh, and she is also one half of Swedish pop's golden couple - the other being Danny Saucedo, who co-wrote this song with Molly.  Now I get the sentiment, but the end result was just disappointment.  A bit like Melodifestivalen 2016 (with very few exceptions).     Molly did make it to the final; but she was about to be eclipsed by a teenager making his Melfest debut.  

The last time we saw Frans Jeppsson Wall, he was 7 years old and annoying the life out of us with that song about Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  10 years later, he came back with a song which should really have been titled "If I Were Marmite" such is its capacity to divide fans.  We know how it all ended of course....

Andra Chancers:

"Håll om mig hårt" - Panetoz
"Rollercoaster" - Dolly Style

Panetoz have their critics in the fan community, but I was glad to see them back again.  I previously described them as a Swedish version of Magic System (the Ivory Coast band who have enjoyed a long and successful career in France) and this year they brought another variation of their successful formula of Swedish and African upbeat pop fusion.

Dolly Style put the Sugababes to shame when it comes to line-up changes.  Despite the songwriting pedigree (G:son/Boström) I wasn't sure if there was enough life left in the novelty for it to match the appreciation of the now-iconic "Hello Hi" among the fandom.

Going home:
"Runaways" - Eclipse
"Du Tar Mig Tillbaks" - Martin Stenmarck
"Killer Girl" - Linda Bengtzing

Unfortunately these days Melfest is so watered-down and generic that even the songs described as "rock" are a long way from that.  Every rock song in Melfest is automatically compared by me to "1000 Miles" and "Runaways"fell well short of that standard.

I doubt very much if either Martin Stenmarck or Linda Bengtzing will think about returning to Melfest.  Times have changed and these are dark times for singers who are either older or from a time when schlager still ruled in the contest.  For me though, one thing unites Martin, Linda, and the Tommy-Patrik-Uno trio from week 2: the songs just weren't good enough.  And even though Mr Björkman claims that it's no longer about schlager or songs but it's about the whole picture, the fact remains that a well-performed good song will take you a lot further than the forgettable songs which these artists delivered this year.  And in any case, why does Björkman/SVT allow these artists to enter if the songs are falling short of expectations?  Or is there a more sinister explanation - allow substandard entries which subsequently do badly, which in turn will then deter schlager/older artists from entering future contests?

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