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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014: Heat Four

I'm back, ready to delve into the fourth and last heat of this year's Melodifestivalen. My hopes are high, and I'm a bit worried about what the results will be, but I'm also so excited for the album to finally be released.

* I like how these opening bits are getting more and more elaborate (if only to cover up the boring hosts)

* The unofficial applause-o-meter gives Linda and Anton the edge, but barely. The crowd was hardly cheering at all! For anyone!

ALCAZAR: Oh yeah, I love the catwalk intro for them. This type of camp is necessary when you've got so many acts that are just kinda... dull. As for the song, I LOVE IT. They're just in a different class when it comes to the type of music they perform. I just hope Sweden isn't sick of this kind of cheesy pop, because it's a pretty massive song.

IDA: Does the background music in these painting segments remind anyone else of Harry Potter? This song is so much better than most of the "rock" that's been in the contest this year, but I still don't feel like they have a chance of qualifying. If anything, I hope they steal votes away from Ammotrack. As it went on, the song grew on me quite a bit. I'll be playing this :)

JANET LEON: I might be in the minority, but I kind of feel like she shouldn't have come back after the bad placement of her entry last year. Since she did, she definitely should have had a stronger song than this. To me, this is just SO vanilla and boring, like a bad X-Factor winner's song. Vocals don't sound good either...

AMMOTRACK: I'm worried. We managed to mostly avoid the boring "rock" acts triumphing last week, but I don't feel like we can get that lucky twice. On the plus side, this is miles better than that horrible Echo song last week, but I just don't want it to take a spot from one of the big pop acts. And I feel like it might.

JOSEF JOHANSSON: I know nothing about this guy, but I loved the clip of his song. The full thing's just as good, and a really nice surprise. I'm also kind of obsessed with his weird outfit. I predict that he could end up being a (somewhat) shock top four qualifier on the strength of the song alone, kind of like Robin last year.

LINDA BENGTZING: A lot of love for this lady. I almost wish she'd win the whole thing just because she probably wants it so badly. On another note, this sign language bit before her performance is not funny at all. Linda, on the other hand, is on fire (as usual). The song isn't quite up there with her classics, but it's still very good and you've gotta admire her constant oomph. Also, I think Josef worked his way into her back-up singer group.

ELLINORE HOLMER: That has got to be the most... creative... spelling of a first name I have seen in awhile. The song itself is hopelessly boring and unfortunately the vocals just aren't there (which would be okay if the song was better). Seventh or Eighth place, easy.

ANTON EWALD: He's carrying the frontrunner status on his back just like Ulrik did last year, which can be a blessing but more often a curse. This song isn't as good as last year's, which is a shame. Oh WAIT... it really kicked up in the second half. Still not as good as Beggin, but I like it, and I want to see him succeed.

Top 5 - Anton, Josef, Ammotrack, Alcazar, Linda
Top 2 - Anton and Josef (I've got a big feeling about this one)
AC - Ammotrack, Alcazar
Out - Linda
(though I would love Ammotrack to take that 5th place - or lower)

Top 5 - Anton, Linda, Ammotrack, Ellinore (WTF?), Alcazar
6th - IDA
7th - Josef (wow my feeling was WAY off base)
8th - Janet

* What is with all these downtempo, acoustic interludes this week? Isn't MF supposed to be fun?

* I swear, if Ellinore makes it past 5th place, I will be incensed

Top 2 - Anton, Alcazar
AC - Ammotrack, Ellinore (I. just. don't. get. it.)
Out - Linda :(


Friday, February 21, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014 Heat Four: Preliminary Judgment

This is the big one. More often than not, the winner of the whole sh'bang comes from the final heat of Melodifestivalen. And even putting that aside, this is the strongest heat this year by a mile... on paper. Will the actual songs live up to the promise? Let's take a look...

(Listen to clips here)

1. Alcazar - Blame It On The Disco
This is exactly the thing I'm wanting from Alcazar. It sounds a lot like Stay The Night, their entry from a few years ago. I'm not sure if it'll end up as strong melodically, but the sound of this clip is quite promising. 4/5

2. I.D.A. - Fight Me If You Dare
This is just kind of weird. It sounds so... messy? I can't tell if it's great or absolute crap. I'm leaning towards the latter, but there are pieces that seem sort of promising. Either way, I doubt it'll make much of a dent in the competition. 2.5/5

3. Janet Leon - Hollow
This has a faster tempo than I expected. Still, from the clip I think I preferred her entry last year. That didn't do so well for her, so I don't see this improving things much. It's fine, but doesn't sound like anything special. 2.5/5

4. Ammotrack - Raise Your Hands
Please, please don't let this take a spot in the top four. Why the hell are these types of songs part of the competition? It's just not my thing at all. And I love rock music, but when it's sung by people who can actually sing! Not just growl their way through a song... 1.5/5

5. Josef Johansson - Hela natten (All Night)
This is more like it. Though I'm not sure about his vocals yet, I love the big production on this. It sounds kind of like a cross between Ulrik and Robin's songs from last year. 4/5

6. Linda Bengtzing - Ta mig (Take Me)
I was predisposed to love this, just based on her history in the competition. From the clip, it doesn't sound as strong as most of her past hits, but I can see it totally growing on me once I hear the full thing. I definitely love the beat, but not as sure about the chorus. 4/5

7. Ellinore Holmer - En himmelsk sång (A heavenly song)
Last week we had a "simple song," this week it's a "heavenly" one. I think I preferred last week's, and even then I wasn't much of a fan. As a ballad, it just seems hopelessly boring. Her vocals don't sound all that amazing, either. 1.5/5

8. Anton Ewald - Natural
The entry I was looking forward to the most. This sounds a LOT like his entry last year, and has the potential to be just as good if he gets a handle on the vocals. That's what worries me the most. Either way, I'll likely be playing this a lot. 4/5

So, really hit or miss this week. We've got the very strong pop (Alcazar, Anton, Linda, Josef), which I would love to be the top four, and... the rest. I think Anton's a safe bet, and Alcazar will probably slide in there somewhere. I'm worried about Ammotrack.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Fooo - King Of The Radio

"Can't stop jumping around"

Sweden's most exciting new pop group is back with yet another single. The most exciting thing about this isn't even the song, but the fact that it's from their upcoming album, which I didn't even know we were getting. No idea when it will be released, but it can't be too far off, right? Anyways, the song itself is another addictive slice of catchy, simple dance pop. I feel like its sound is a bit trendier than their past material (somewhere between Icona Pop's I Love It and Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling), but it retains that sense of effortless cool that the guys are known for. "Swag" seems to be the appropriate word, even though I'm not a fan of it.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shirley Clamp - Burning Alive (Stormby's Firestorm Edit)

"You've got me dreaming"

Since I was away last Saturday, I never really got a chance to voice my opinion of the weekend's Melodifestivalen heat. In short, even though it featured my least favorite song of the year's competition so far (bet you can guess which one that was), the two songs that progressed to the final were both excellent. In addition to the victors, I'm a fan of Eko's underrated Red and this track, a dramatic ballad by MF legend Shirley Clamp. Stormby has been a reliable remixer of MF songs during the past few years (I particularly love his version of Ulrik Munther's Soldiers and Loreen's already-epic Euphoria), and now he's given us a dancefloor version of Clamp's 6th-place finisher. It's a nice compliment to the original, retaining the melodic bombast while adding familiar elements of EDM that take it further into club territory.

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the single here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Satin Circus - Expectations

"You're nothing like the girls I've met before"

I don't think I've mentioned Satin Circus on this blog before, but I have been quietly following their musical output for the last year. It seems as though Finland has enjoyed a resurgence of great pop music recently, and these guys are riding that wave. Their music is good old fashioned power pop, unashamed of its big hooks and dumb, singalong lyrics. They're kind of like One Direction in that way, expect their music strikes me as having one foot in the past. Expectations, their latest single, is a good example of this. I feel like a version of this track could have been released at any time during the past 50 years or so. The melody is classic high school, beach-party bombast, updated with today's production tricks and delivered with overflowing energy.

Expectations by Satin Circus on Grooveshark

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. Buy the album here. Follow me on twitter and facebook.