One of the highlights of the schlager year is QX magazine’s pre-Melodifestivalen issue. This year, the theme is American television, and it looks amazing. Here is the gorgeous cover.
But there’s a problem. It’s all in that Swedish! And while we’re content to sing along in Swenglish to Shirley Clamp, it’s another matter trying to understand it written down. Especially when sober.
Well, your problems are over. Every one of them. Because we’ve translated the whole bloody lot into easy-to-read English (yes, we have no lives). So download your issue from www.qx.se, then read along with Schlagerfiasko. It’s handy.
(By the way, if you’re using an iPhone, iPad or iPod and can’t see the pictures in the QX PDF file, we feel your pain. So we’ve created a mobile-friendly version. It’s a 100MB, unfortunately, so not that friendly. But if you want to get hold of it, send us a message and we’ll give you the download link.)
Tusen, tusen, tusen tack to Ronny Larsson for the great interviews and concept, and to photographer Peter Knutson for these amazing shots.
This year, Danny will be competing in the first Melodifestivalen heat in Luleå, with In The Club.
“It’s a real club song,” he smiles. “It puts you right on the dancefloor. But it’s hard to get that across when there’s only six of you on the stage, so it’s more like a nice little gang who are all out having a good time and a dance!
“In The Club has a touch of house, a big scoop of R’n'B, and a great dance chorus,” Danny adds.
The singer reckons that such a song has never been heard in Melodifestivalen before – which could be a big risk. But he didn’t want to compromise on his sound, or try to change what he’s about.
And while there’s a certain buzz surrounding Danny’s chances, he doesn’t see it as an advantage.
“It’s like when you read about a really hyped film and then see it in the cinema,” he says. “The audience comes out generally disappointed. The reason there’s a bit of buzz is probably because people know who I am already, and have formed an image of me. But it doesn’t mean anything in the contest itself. I think you actually have more impact as a newcomer – when you come from nowhere.”
Danny has never seen True Blood, so his favourite vampire is from elsewhere…
“My fave is, and always will be, the beautiful Louis de Pointe de Lac – as played by Brad Pitt in Interview With The Vampire,” he says.
Jenny describes her song, Something In Your Eyes, as ”nice schlager”: an Abba-disco-schlager that has a nice, juicy key change. And a bunch of fit dancers. Last year, she entered the contest with the suggestive electro number A Place To Stay. It didn’t get anywhere in Melodifestivalen, but it did become a big hit.
”I’ve done everything from ballads and jazz to pop and rock,” she says. ”It’s the music that’s important. It can grab you in any way – and that’s how I feel about this song, and last year’s.”
Jenny makes the perfect Miranda, but she didn’t watch Sex And The City.
”I don’t watch TV,” she confesses. ”But I do know it. I love Samantha’s free spirit, and Miranda’s sharp attitude. She’s a cool chick.”
Last year, Linda demo’d [Peter Jöback's] Hollow so well that Fredrik Kempe (together with Oscar Görres) has written a song for her that should see Linda’s voice come into its own.
”Alive is a big, wide-eyed ballad with a lot of force,” she says.
As the last to go on stage, Linda will see all the acts before she performs herself.
Meanwhile, she’s following all the action in Let’s Dance. For that contest, Linda has made a pact with her fellow schlager finalist from last year, Jessica Andersson. If Linda votes for Jessica in the dance-off, then Jessica will vote for Linda in Melodifestivalen.
For QX, Linda became a red-headed Carrie Bradshaw – and she’s thrilled, because she has seen every episode of Sex And The City.
”My favourite is Samantha,” she smiles. ”She’s so uninhibited. So cool!”
Round three sees former A-Teens star Sara performing her song Enemy – a mid-tempo track – equal parts rock, pop and R’n'B, with a big chorus.
”You can analyse the semi-finals until you die,” she sighs. ”I thought, ‘Damn it!’, when I saw who else will be in my heat. But then again, you don’t know how people are going to voter, so it’ll be a challenge. A-Teens were asked to enter a few years ago, but we were all doing different things.
”I’ll never say that we’ll never perform together again,” continues Sara. ”But it’s not on the cards right now. Almost all the songs we did were great. If I get through to the final, I promise you I’ll do Mamma Mia at the afterparty!”
Sara is wearing a blonde wig to become Sex And The City‘s Samantha.
”She’s my favourite,” she laughs. ”Had you asked me a few years ago, I’d said I was exactly like Samantha when it came to sex. I was a little wild ‘n’ crazy when I was younger…”
The third heat of Melodifestivalen sees Sara Varga making her debut, with the stripped-down song Spring för livet. And Sara believes her entry has an important message with strong lyrics.
”Melodifestivalen is such a big deal,” she says. ”So it’s important to me to perform a really personal song in that arena.”
She reveals that the performance will be simple, so as not to take anything away from the song.
When asked who she’s most eager to see on stage, there’s only one answer…
”Le Kid!” reveals Sara. ”It’ll be so cool to see them. We share the same record company, and they’re the best. If they write as great as they are as people, their song will be the best in the world.”
Sara got to play the role of Charlotte in Sex And The City – and it’s a series she grew up with…
”The genius of that show is that everyone identifies with Carrie and the other women,” she says. ”No one is like just one character – we’ve all got elements of each of them.”
Sebastian will make his second appearance on the Melodifestivalen stage in the third round in Linköping this year. Last time he performed, back in 2007, he got through to the final with When The Night Comes Falling. Now he hopes to repeat that success with the up-tempo synth track No One Else Could.
”I guess we’ll be using a lot of LED screens,” he teases. ”And I’ll be doing a lot myself.”
All very mysterious…
Sebastian says he’ll be watching all the acts perform before he goes on himself, and he’s looking forward to seeing Danny.
”He’s brilliant,” says Sebastian. ”I like Danny best when he’s solo. It could be the best thing ever!”
”A great Swedish ballad – authentic and well-written.” That’s how Simon describes Tid att andas, the song he’ll be performing in the third semi-final. He’s set to perform the Fredrik Kempe-penned song alone, with maybe a few lights and dry ice for company.
When asked who he’s eager two see on the stage, two names immediately spring to mind…
”Linda Pritchard will be fun,” says Simon. ”And Eric Saade – he’s got so much self-confidence, so he’ll be dangerous!”
And will he watch the other heats?
”Yes, I want to see all the songs,” he laughs. ”But I don’t know what it’ll be like to sit there and watch everyone before I go on stage myself.”
He’s posing with Sebastian as the Prison Break brothers, but Simon says that he didn’t watch the show.
”No, I never saw it,” he confirms. ”But the guy I’m played was quite fine, so it hasn’t passed me by!”
There was only one show that would do for Sweden’s new pop darlings when it came to the QX shoot: Glee.
The group describe their song, Oh My God, as ”a colourful, sparkling Le Kid song”.
”Those who don’t know what Motown is will think it sounds a bit Motown,” says Felix Persson. ”But those who do know Motown will totally disagree!”
And what about the performance?
”I’m saying nothing,” he smiles. ”Except this: too much is never enough.”
OK… So how would you describe Le Kid for someone who doesn’t know you?
”In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Hans Solo, Chewbacca and the robots save the world from becoming boring and meaningless,” says Felix. ”If they’d started a band – and got some fashion sense (just because you save the world, it doesn’t mean you have to go around in terrible clothes) – then it would be Le Kid!”
You’ve become Glee for us. What do you think of the show?
”The most amazing thing about Glee is the effect it’s have in the US,” reckons Felix. ”It swept the Billboard charts clean of rock and R’n'B and replaced it with pop. It’s amazing!”
So do you watch it?
”Three of us watch it all the time,” he says. ”But for the sake of confidentiality, we can’t say which three.”
Eric is giving the Swedish public another chance to send him to Eurovision. And with the beat-filled up-tempo Popular, he’s giving us more electro-pop than schlager…
”It’ll be an amazing show,” he says. ”We’ve worked more on the sound this year, so it’ll work overseas. If Europe wants a pop song this year, then Popular is the right song to send to them!”
When Eric heard the song for the first time, he knew it’d be a smash – and he hopes we’ll agree.
In last year’s QX schlager shoot, Eric was Johnny Depp in Nightmare On Elm Street. This year, he’s Johnny Depp in the 80s cop show 21 Jump Street.
”Johnny is the world’s best actor,” says Eric. ”Even though I haven’t seen 21 Jump Street. I was a bit too young for it.”
Yes, Eric was too young. Especially given that he was just seven months old when it ended…
Four-piece Love Generation have the honour of closing this year’s Melodifestivalen as act 32 in the last semi-final with RedOne’s massive Dance Alone.
”We entering a powerful pop song, but there’s a lot of pressure on us,” says Charley (the short-haired one). ”Lady Gaga’s absolutely been able to achieve that, though.”
Charley believes that it’s vital the group get through to the final at Globen. ”There’s no point if you don’t want to win!” she says.
The group was formed following auditions, and the girls get on well together.
”We often find we love the same things,” says Mikaela, the red-head who decided to dye her hair the vibrant shade when she was bored. ”My hair’s perfect now I’m playing Bree from Desperate Housewives! She’s my favourite.”
”Desperate Housewives is the only show I follow,” says Cornelia, the blonde. ”So it was so right that we got to be them!”
Babsan will appear in Göteborg alongside the likes of Brolle, Sanna Nielsen and Christian Waltz, and describes Ge mig en spanjor as ”a happy disco-flamenco number written by the trio behind La Dolce Vita.”
It was originally entered into competition last year, but didn’t make it to the shortlist. This year, however, Christer Björkman called to ask if Babsan wanted to take part – and the song got its chance.
”There’s a place for funny, showy numbers like this in the contest,” says Lars-Åke Wilhelmsson, the man behind the dame. ”It’s all about the choreography, scenery and frocks – and a bit of flesh! I wouldn’t compare the song to La Dolce Vita, but it’s in a similar vein. Anyway, Christer Lindarw thought I should be less Babsy and more stylish. But Babsan is Babsan – I can’t make her be 25, can I? I’ll try to be a little bit, though.”
Lars-Åke wasn’t sure if he’d seen Dynasty at first, but was soon attracted to the roles of both Alexis and Krystle.
”The bitch parts are always fun,” he laughs, as he gets the dark wig on his head.
”Oh God!” he smiles. ”Remind me never to dye my hair dark. Look at it – it’s awful!”