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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Melodifestivalen 2012: Heat Three

Back again for round three! The song previews haven't gotten me particularly excited, but I'm willing (and hoping) to be surprised.

No crazy boyband intro this week... sad. Instead we get a pronunciation lesson/song? Is that what I'm seeing??

Mattias, Andreas and Molly seem to have won the audience applause before the performances start. I wonder if that will translate into votes.

YOUNGBLOOD: If they get through, it won't be because of the song (or the singing). I just think this is a missed opportunity for something that could have been really good. As is, it's just average. And what the hell is a "youngblood love"? Is it similar to a "manboy"? Kempe's just making up his own language.

MARIA: That noise she made in her intro video was scary! I wish I could drum up any kind of reaction to her song, though. I guess I like the candles? I think this might just win for most boring 2012 MF entry so far.

MATTIAS: Okay, so I said this sounded intriguing yesterday when I heard the clip. It's not quite what I hoped it would be, but it's still my favorite so far and it think he might easily steal Youngblood's votes.

LOVE GENERATION: Those are quite the outfits they've got. I like the verses much better than the chorus, but this is still better than I'd expected. I have a real hard time warming up to these girls for some reason. They just seem so generic. That said, this song is better than last year's. Performance still needs some work, though.

CAROLINA: She's got a Robyn haircut! I actually don't hate this. I know a lot of people would disagree, but I've just got a feeling that this is making top 5, if not further. I could be completely wrong, but the staging is good (and simple), she has a nice voice, and the song is pleasant.

ANDREAS: He's a MF veteran, which explains why he's got the best song this week. That's kind of a sad realization, because it's not like this is a future classic or anything. It's hard not to see this going through, though.

MOLLY: She kind of looks like Miley Cyrus. This isn't really my thing, but I think it'll get the most votes today. She's loved, the lyrics are personal/emotional, and it's a nice ballad with simple, effective staging.

BJORN: This is a weird one. I don't see how it would work outside of Sweden, as the understanding of the spoken bits has to be at least somewhat important to enjoying the song (I'd imagine). I do feel like I'm attending some weird faith-healing church or something, but I like how odd this is. In fact, it could wind up being my favorite of the week. He's gotta stop with the clapping, though.

MY PREDICTIONS: This is a really hard one to call, and not because there are a lot of strong entries. Most of them are equally mediocre, actually. I'm thinking the top five will be Molly, Andreas, Bjorn, Mattias and Carolina, though either group could sneak in I suppose.
TO FINAL: Molly and Andreas
ANDRA CHANSEN: Mattias and Bjorn
(though I'm not particularly confident in these!)

TOP FIVE: Andreas, Mattias, Molly, Youngblood and Bjorn
I'm really shocked that Youngblood got through with that dire song. Not too surprised with LG getting 6th. I think I speak for most in saying that they just aren't breaking through, personality-wise.

**If Youngblood get kicked out, not only will my prediction be right, but I'll be happy with the results.

**Best track (besides Loreen, obviously) out of those older "losers" they're showing? ... Christian Walz "Like Suicide" - underrated, for sure.

**This interval act is just weird. I've never heard the original track, though. It was from the year before I started following MF. I'll have to check it out.

**First through to the final - Molly. As predicted. At least we've got another girl in the final.

**More results - Youngblood and Andreas to Andra Chansen (that's surprising on both!) and Bjorn to the final. I'm a bit surprised that Mattias didn't get through (as were the audience... I half expected boos), but his song wasn't that great. Of course, Youngblood's track was downright bad, and they still got through over him, despite being mostly unknowns. Weird.

**Can I say that I'm actually happy that Mirakel got through to the final? Not embarrassed by that at all. The audience seems pissed, though.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Melodifestivalen 2012: Heat Three - Preliminary Judging

Will this year's winner be in Heat Three of Melodifestivalen? Listening to the clips, probably not -- though my opinions will likely change when I hear the songs in full.

(Listen to clips here)

Youngblood - Youngblood
A lot of folks were saying this had a chance to win, but hearing this clip, I'm not sure. It's basically Manboy, but less catchy. The chorus is actually kind of stupidly repetitive, and not in a good way. Still, I'm willing to give it a chance. 3/5

Maria BenHajji - I mina drömmar (In My Dreams)
If Sonja's ballad didn't get through last week, I don't see how this has a chance. It's the same thing, but worse. Its title is even similar. I can't really drum up any interest in this one. 2/5

Mattias Andréasson - Förlåt mig (Forgive Me)
This clip intrigues me. I'm not sure if I'm going to like this or not, but at least it's a little different. I like the rapid-fire lyrics, but wish that the production had more heft. His high profile should help him out, even if the song isn't perfect. 3.5/5

Love Generation - Just A Little Bit
I was no big fan of their entry last year, but this sounds a little better. I like the rock edge, but I just want a little more ("just a little"? haha) oomph from these girls. They still feel so manufactured. 3.5/5

Carolina Wallin Pérez - Sanningen (The Truth)
Pleasant, but that's about it. I can't make out much of a hook, but oddly I can see this doing alright. It fills that pop/jazz category that voters seem to like so much. I just can't tell much from this clip. 2.5/5

Andreas Johnson - Lovelight
He's never not made it to the final on a solo performance. And unless voters get complacent, I see him getting there again. Based on the clips, this is the best so far this week. It's got a real Robbie Williams feel to it and thank god it's not another ballad! 4/5

Molly Sandén - Why Am I Crying?
Another strong contender, though this preview underwhelms. I expected the song to have more energy. It sounds very much like a Jordin Sparks album track. Ugh. Where's the schlager? 2.5/5

Björn Ranelid ft. Sara Li - Mirakel (Miracle)
What. The. Hell? This is just too weird. Without speaking Swedish, the spoken verses are lost on me and just sound silly. The hook has potential and I like that it's a dance track, but I've got absolutely no idea what's going on here. ?/5

Not a particularly strong heat, I'm afraid. In fact, it's down there with the first week, especially since there's no Loreen. It's also an incredibly hard week to call. That Mirakel song is a total wildcard. Either the novelty of it will catch on or utterly fail. Right now, I'm thinking Andreas is a sure bet for the final, with Youngblood, Mattias, Love Generation, Molly and maybe Carolina biting his heels. But then there's that Mirakel thing. Who knows?

*I'll be live blogging tomorrow throughout the show, so be sure to check back for my thoughts (and to see if my predictions come true)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Caotico - Into The Beat

"Destroy my heart and soul"

Caotico are a great example of how awesomely Swedish bands combine pop and indie. Their breakthrough single, Brains Out, guaranteed that I would be following them for quite song. The follow-up, while excellent, was in a very different vein, but now we're back to upbeat pop music. Into The Beat reminds me of effortlessly cool Swedish bands like the Tough Alliance and the Legends. It's not overly polished, but it's got that pop core to it. A simple, effortlessly catchy hook melds with a herky-jerky drum beat and propulsive production. It confirms everything I knew I liked about the band and gets me pumped for the release of their first album, which (conveniently) is out next week!

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Preorder the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Darin - Nobody Knows

"Can you feel my heart?"

Darin just keeps getting better. To be honest, though I really enjoyed his third album and the first two have their moments, it wasn't until his fourth release, 2010's Lovekiller, that I was truly won over. It's an odd thing, too, because that album was nearly all ballads. I'm usually a pretty uptempo guy, but the melodies were too awesome to resist. Nobody Knows, his new single, is definitely not a ballad. But he's infused that excellent pop melody with some truly epic dance production. It's like he took everything that's awesome about him as a pop artist and threw it into one amazing single. It's a statement of worldwide intent, and deserves that level of recognition. Few pop artists improve with age. If the upcoming album is as perfect as this single, Darin will be the definite exception to that rule.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the last album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#1 Hits From Another Planet turns 6!

Today marks the sixth anniversary of this blog. That's just under 2,000 posts. This past year has seen some notable professional changes for me with the publication of my first young adult book (and the subsequent writing of the follow-ups!), but I'm proud that the blog has still been going strong the entire time. And rest assured, I don't plan on stopping anytime soon!

I was trying to decide on a fun, different post to celebrate the occasion today. I write about music I love everyday, but I don't write nearly enough about music I love to laugh at. I'm a fanatic when it comes to campy old pop music videos. Seriously, nothing's funnier to me. Here are a few of my favorites (of many) to brighten up your day:

Armi & Danny - I Wanna Love You Tender

The granddaddy of them all. I am so obsessed with every frame of this wonderful video. The dance moves, the Ken doll-esque posturing of Danny... it's simply one of the best things ever put to film.

Tommy Seebach - Apache Boy

Horrific. This is what happens when Ned Flanders decides to form a band. It's like a car crash. You simply can't look away.

Baltimora - Jukebox Boy

Those pants/trousers! The rainbows! The facial expressions!

Maywood - Late At Night

I have this dance memorized. Enough said.

Others to check out:
Vivien Vee - Give Me A Break (the dance moves!)
Teach-in - Ding A Dong (a prostitute's anthem... bonus points for pronouncing "big hit" like "bigot")
Belle Epoque - Bamalama (Planet Of The Apes: Part Two - Attack of the Golden Chain)


Monday, February 13, 2012

Jedward - Waterline

"I know this is bound to go down as the big one"

Jedward are the luckiest guys in pop music. I mean, at best, they're a novelty act. Their increasingly abrasive personalities eclipse any talent they might have, and their hair just keeps getting higher and sadder. Yet, people keep giving them amazing, awesome pop songs. Last year it was Lipstick, and this year it's Waterline. It just gets better and better. They're competing to represent Ireland again in Eurovision, and if there's any justice this song should see them on their way to Baku in May. Waterline is perfect, anthemic pop. Its simple and celebratory melody takes me back to what Eurovision used to be (I'm thinking Abba, Bucks Fizz, etc). It's undeniably lightweight, but all the better for it. Personally, I would have never expected the guys to record something this fantastic. I can't stop listening to it. I mean, that chorus! I was surprised to find that it wasn't written by Tony Nilsson, as it echoes his work quite closely -- that whole massive, 80's pop hook thing. You don't hear it nearly enough in this day and age.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Buy the first album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.