Week 3: Norrköping 20.02.2016
Unfortunately SVT's usually reliable web stream kept breaking down and as I also had other stuff going on that evening, I therefore had to watch later on catch-up. It appears that SVT had finally got the memo about annoying musical-style numbers, so tfor this week's interval acts we were treated to a stand-up routine by co-host Henrik Schyffert and Gina showing off her contemporary dance skills.
"Human" - Oskar Zia
"My Heart Wants Me Dead" - Lisa Ajax
It was the second time (or technically third time if you count him backing Behrang Miri) in Melfest for Oscar Zia. Like Isa, he came back with a ballad; but "Human" was in a different class from "I Will Wait" and its simple but dramatic staging was impressive. So it was no surprise to see him reach the final.
The other finalist tonight was Idol winner Lisa Ajax with yet another ridiculously-titled song: "My Heart Wants Me Dead". Ridiculous staging too, with all that toilet roll hanging from the ceiling. I must admit that at the time of Melodifestivalen I couldn't stand this song but it later grew on me. I had a problem with its similarity to Zara Larsson's "Uncover". Not an obvious similarity, but a similarity nonetheless.
"Put Your Love On Me" - Boris Rene.
"Kizunguzungu" - SaRaha.
So let me get this right - Boris is a singing footballer? What is it with Sweden and singing footballers? (Hello, Kevin Walker!). In a year where virtually none of the Melfest songs had any immediate impact on me, along came Boris with this ridiculously catchy radio-friendly pop song. Just one gripe: is my heart in a little box, or a litter box, or a letter box??
Just before you start to scream 'cultural appropriation', SaRaha grew up in Tanzania and has recorded some very catchy pop in Swahili so there is a lot of authenticity here. Yes it is very similar to "Waka Waka" but for once I'll allow a bit of plagiat. Extremely infectious Afropop and refreshingly different at Melodifestivalen. Sara Larsson (that's her real name, not to be confused with Zara Larsson!) co-wrote this with Arash.
"Weight of the World" - Smilo.
"You Carved Your Name" - Swingfly feat Helena Gutarra.
"Kom ut som en stjärna" - After Dark.
Keeping up the tradition that nothing good can ever come of a Svensktoppen Nästa qualifying place, but at least Smilo (pictured above) tried, bringing some EDM/tropical house fusion to the proceedings. *Update: this song has also grown on me since the contest!*
Swingfly's song was a shock non-qualifier for me - I thought it would sneak an AC place at least, going by the songwriting pedigree (Jocke Åhlund, Andreas Kleerup). But maybe it was just because the song just wasn't as good as "Me and My Drum", the whole thing lacked the charm of that previous success and the staging was a little on the amateur side.
So, by week 3 of Melodifestivalen, the plug was pulled from the schlager life support machine and the time of death was declared. But After Dark gave it a fabulous feathery costume-changing key-changing send-off.
Looking back now, week 3 was my favourite heat in this year's contest: better songs and finally a glimmer of hope that there would be some songs I would enjoy, and play, long after the contest was over.