If you believed every word you read in the Swedish press, then Saturday night was a schlagerfiasko of mammoth proportions. “Uselt” (‘Awful!’) shrieked Expressen’s front page the morning after. The latest drama appears to be over the amount of live vocals that are appearing in each song, with Danny coming under some criticism from his first week performance – not to mention the accusations of plagiarism. And then there are the ”terrible” presenters. Fiasko sells papers, of course. Indeed, it keeps this website going. Is Schlagerfiasko.nu part of the shrieking press pack? I do wonder…
But if the disaster was apparent on screen, then I didn’t notice it. And that’s not just because I had a drink in my hand. The show was its usual self-deprecating self, opening with Barbie Girl (amazing), rap (scary), and a sketch about last week’s mistake with the andra chansen votes and moved along at a brisk pace (Christer Sjöberg in full-on Djingis Kahn mode, anyone?). Not to mention Carl Bildt and his sexy schlager jacket.
Before I discuss the songs, I have an announcement: I will no longer preview the songs from the 60-second clips issued on Thursday evenings. It suddenly struck me halfway through Brolle’s performance that all my preconceptions about him were wrong. And by the end, I realised that all eight performances were actually good – exceptional, in some cases. Much better than I’d given any of them credit for. The rehearsal clips gave little away as to the actual reality of what appeared. So what’s the point in bleating on and basing opinions on half a tale? I’m just going to leave it to the real experts from now.
I’m sorry, I appear to be in a very analytical frame of mind today. Let’s do the songs.
Brolle was great. Moving from Elvis-inspired swinging to hillbilly rock, I wasn’t into this at all from the clip. But Brolle did it amazingly well, with fantastic stage presence and just enough swagger not to edge into arrogance (naming no names…). I do suspect he thought he had it in the bag, but with a performance like that, who can blame him?
Huge revelation of the evening was the astounding Loreen. Not so much for the song, which was actually quite nondescript – if worthy. What took Loreen into andra chansen was an outstanding vocal – probably the best of the night. She is a real talent and we should be all keeping an eye on her. I hope she makes it to Globen.
Give me a sangria to toast Babsan. Supposedly the ‘joke’ entry, if not for Göteborg then the whole contest, what Lars-Åke delivered instead was one of the most innovative performances ever seen in the contest. With a cry of ”¡¡¡Arrrrrrrriba!!!”, Babsan was magically pulled through a screen to be greeted by Bert Karlsson in a Stockholm bar. Well, Bert Karlsson is no sofistikerad herre. We want a Spanjor, dammit. And we sort of got them, if you count four Swedish matadors in pink velvet chaps. Babsan’s leg kick was another highlight. The song is great – fun schlager and one to enjoy. Loved it.
Elisabeth ‘Bettan’ Andreassen has some guts to rock up on a Melodifestivalen stage with a song like Vaken i en dröm. With some potentially hair-raising vocal moments, she pulled it off perfectly – a lesson in how to be a schlager balladeer from someone who knows. It really didn’t deserve to trail in eighth place, but in a deceptively strong heat, someone had to be that straggler. A shame. But Bettan’s been there and done it all before – water off a very elegant duck’s back, so to speak.
From Bettan to Sanna Nielsen was like a mantel being passed from one generation to another. I’m In Love was an astounding moment. Traditional schlager that stuck rigidly to the formula that works (see the previous Schlagerfiasko post if you don’t believe me), it sparked instantly. This is the song that made me reassess my attitude to reviewing rehearsal clips – it was nothing like anything previously had suggested. Sanna is the consummate professional, and worked that stage like she owned it and had the deeds to prove it. The only surprise about Sanna’s performance was that it actually topped the votes and did what it was supposed to do: gå direkt till Globen!
The Moniker was the performer I was sure would be joining Sanna. He was marginally better than I’d expected, but most certainly not to my tastes. I did think there would be plenty of mugging à la Guido that never came to pass, thank goodness. I’m sure there’s actually a decent song inside Oh My God!, but it needs a decent vocal to help it on its way. That this has gone to andra chansen over Le Kid makes me feel a little sad.
Anniela. What can one say about Anniela? I think this was the one song that I was right about from the outset: it’s too slow and poor Anniela’s vocal can’t cope with the lower range without turning flat. Having said that, when she was allowed to get going, she was very good. She looks quite like a blonde Linda Bengtzing, actually, and it would be great to hear her tackle something more personal, of Linda’s style. I think she could pull it off.
Finally, Christian Walz. A fantastic artist, I’m a huge fan of his work. So I’m really quite surprised that he’d want to take part in the drama of Melodifestivalen. Christian’s style is most definitely small venue, relaxed bar, and not the full-blown microscopic analysis of this contest. The song was Like Suicide, but as even the title suggests, it was never going to be the unifying number that would go on to win. Maybe that’s the point. It’s fantastic, but was swallowed whole by Scandinavium, even if Christian tried his damnedest to make it work, with fantastic string back-up and a stunning red lighting scheme. And I want his bow-and-pearl-necklace outfit combination for my next work event. It’s just such a shame that the song was entered, when this plainly wasn’t the place for it to thrive.
Sanna and Brolle to Globen, then, with Loreen and The Moniker having another go. Fingers crossed that Sweden won’t refuse Loreen’s heart a second time.