Eric Saade? Nej. The real winner on Saturday night was, of course, Lena PH. Ensuring that the show opened with her latest single, Idiot, and more or less closed with her stunning metal version of Dansa i neon (conveniently available on iTunes straight after the show), Lena showed us how a true star works it. And I hope young Mr Saade was watching…
(And can I just say that production coordinator Henric von Zweigberk must be the hardest-working man in Swedish showbiz? From presenting the wildcard show from Golden Hits to making sure every Melodifestivalen heat works – including being there to catch Lena PH when she leapt off the stage. He even found time to coordinate the QX Gay Galan last week. Love the von Zweigberk.)
Presenters Rickard Olsson and Marie Serneholt are getting into their stride now, with a nice confidence proving that they’ve overcome any nervousness from the first couple of weeks, especially in Marie’s case. Her deadpan delivery of some of the most sarcastic links has been spot-on. Not sure the same can be said for web host Elsa Billgren, however. A little interviewing tip, Elsa: LISTEN to what your interviewee is saying.
The main question from Saturday is whether or not it was a schlagerfiasko. Shirley and her Angels losing out to The Playtones – schlager losing out to rockabilly! Is dansband about to eat its musical cousin?
Nu körde vi with Linda Sundblad. Unluckily for her, Lucky You was a great song marred by two things. Let’s get the first one out of the way quickly: someone should have told Linda that her teeth braces looked awful on camera. I’m not criticising her for wearing them, but surely they could have come off for her big moment for a few minutes? The second is that she’s too old for the song. This is a cheerful, teenage up-tempo pop song that would have sounded great coming from Amy Diamond – but from a singer who has already she can deliver a great, mature sound with her group Lambretta (and in her solo work), it all fell flat on its face. Which is a shame.
Next up was Simon Forsberg, with the evening’s ballad. He was always going to face an uphill struggle to make an impression with a slow number. He did a good job with what he had, though. The song is traditional schlagerballad all the way, with requisite money-notes and key-change all present and correct. A few years ago, he’d have probably been chasing Tommy Körberg all the way to the final with this. In 2011, it comes eighth.
Not far behind him was Sara Lumholdt. Or was it Cheryl Cole? California hair – check. Military styling – check. Vocal as flat as a pancake – check. Yes, sadly for Sara, what could have been a great song descended into three minutes of endurance as Sara attempted to get back on track, and failed. The studio version of this is great, so it might be an idea if Sara went away, analysed the show and came back in a couple of years, more confident and polished. There’s definite potential for fabulousness.
What can you say about The Playtones? Well I’m biased, frankly. Knocking the Angels into third place was never going to endear anyone to Schlagerfiasko’s heart – even if they did have a Kempesong. The fact that they had the schlagergenius on board means that they’re serious about doing well, and I’m pleased they seem to have the right attitude. But rockabilly just isn’t to my taste.
Schlagerfiasko’s star attraction, unsurprisingly, was Shirley’s Angels. I have a framed picture of glammed-up Shirl adorning my IKEA shelf. Shirley was making her comeback following the eighth-place ‘fiasko of Med hjärtat fyllt av ljus a couple of years ago. Is Sweden the only country where established artists are prepared to submit themselves to such harsh judgement on an annual basis?
Shirley was armed with Jessica Marberger and Vera Prada. And Bard, Ljunggren, Wikström and Abrahamsson’s I Thought It Was For Ever. And some spectacular dance moves. And this is the woman who didn’t move a muscle during Min kärlek.
A stunning return and a fabulous performance from all three women was a delight to watch. They’ve been labelled as the ‘MILFs’ in Sweden, which Schlagerfiasko would never do, of course. That doesn’t stop us agreeing, however…
Somewhat tragically (yes, that’s the word), as female schlager makes such a resurgence, only Sanna Nielsen has been able to secure a place in the final with it. With Shirley’s Angels and Jenny Silver both getting their second chance, it remains to be seen if Sanna will be the only woman on the Globen stage!
The person who probably lost out the most was Sebastian Karlsson. Arguably in the worst group for his song, this surely would have made the top four in any other round… A suitably paired-down performance worked well with the fast pace of No One Else Could, and the nice whistle hook worked well. My main issue was with the finish – songs do need to have an ending, and it’s a common problem that tracks that may last over three minutes simply stop, rather than end. Indeed, the camera operator also seemed to be taken by surprise at this!
Sara Varga has made a huge impression with Spring för livet. Deceptively light, the melody works in stark contrast to the lyrics, which deal with the issue of women in abusive relationships. Indeed, both main evening papers printed the lyrics of the song for their readers – almost unheard of before.
Spring för livet om det är dig klart, att slå tillbaka det är det aldrig värt… (Run for your life, if you care for it, fighting back, it’s never worth it…)
Does a song like this have a place in the glitter och glamour world of Melodifestivalen? Well, any song does, of course. I think it’s important to open up the contest as widely as possible, even if it means that schlager may miss out, on occasion. I like this song, but am not sure if it works in an arena setting, just as Christian Walz may have discovered last week.
On, then, to the man who had already gone direkt till Globen before he’d opened his mouth. Eric Saade promised a Popular show, and he delivered. The Kempesong is, well, it’s an Eric Saade Kempesong. A big wall of noise that disguises the lack of any substance in the lyrics. But that’s fine, I have no issue with that. Dancing, great. Smashing glass, great. Spectacular, even.
But what I don’t like is a half-baked vocal. If Melodifestivalen were all about the spectacle, then Popular would have triumphed. The problem is that the contest is also the selection process for Eurovision, and they’re much fussier about live vocals. An unfortunate cut showed Eric with his mouth firmly shut during the final money-note, only completing the last part of it. It’s not good, really, especially when you have Shirley Clamp pushing her lungs to the limit to prove herself.
I am glad that Danny’s got some major competition, and do think, even at this stage, that it’s a straightforward contest between the boys to win the whole thing. But a lot of work is needed before Düsseldorf.
If there’s a schlagerfiasko in Germany, don’t come crying to me. Or Lena PH.
Photo: Magnus Sandberg / Aftonbladet