The fourth and final heat of Melodifestivalen took place last night. Two more songs join the final in two weeks time. And for the second week in a row, the Swedes voted for the POP to triumph over all else.
Where else to start but with the return of Alcazar. After a (actually quite short, really) hiatus, the threesome returned to the Melodifestivalen stage by descending from the arena ceiling inside a giant disco ball. Of course they did. They then proceeded to give the very kind of performance that cements their status as Swedish pop legends. Glittering around the stage in a highly polished and delightfully camp choreographed routine. And looking and sounding amazing while at it. The song ‘Blame It On The Disco’ might be a poor man’s ‘Stay The Night’, but when you’re gonna give a performance like that, it’s almost a case of the song not even mattering. And anyway – a poor man’s Alcazar song is still miles better than most other artist’s songs. So there. ‘Blame It On The Disco’ may well have been the weakest link within the whole package, but Christ what a package it is regardless. The final is now ten times more watchable now that we know we have THAT to look forward to and feast our eyes upon again. Let’s hope they never leave us again.
Joining them in the final is Anton Ewald and his track ‘Natural’. Another case of the performance being a whole lot better than the song. We can’t quite work out why he would come back to the contest with an inferior song than last year. But then we didn’t quite get ‘Begging’ at first either, so maybe ‘Natural’ too will fit into place once the final swings around. While we’re waiting for the song to become great listening though, let’s just reflect on how the performance he gave of it was such great television. His choreography (which we assume he created himself) was awe inspiringly slick. And he didn’t put a foot wrong throughout any of it – while refusing to let that get in the way of his new and improved vocals. Last year we learnt that The Boy Can Dance, this year we learnt that The Boy Can Actually Sing And Dance At The Same Time Too. We could watch what he did with ‘Natural’ last night again and again. And perhaps the song would finally click then too. Best bit = the gospel choir breakdown (!!!) and the bouncing of the microphone off the floor (!!!!!!). What a popstar.
Getting a second chance in next week’s Andra Chansen round are Ammotrack with ‘Raise Your Hands’ and Ellinore Holmer with ‘En Himmelsk Sång’. The Ammotrack boys delivered what appeared to be a hard rock song, although if you listen really carefully you’ll hear that it’s really a schlager track dressed up in guitars and drums (and a hot drummer). It’s even got a ridiculous key change shoehorned in. Amyltrack would be more appropriate a band name. It joins two other rock songs in Andra Chansen (Outrigger and State of Drama). And dare we say that if one of them HAS to progress to the final, please let it be this one. It’s the best of the bunch. And it means we get to see that drummer for a third week in a row.
Joining them in Andra Chansen is Ellinore Holmer. Another nice girl singing another nice song. Sweden really seems to be LOVING this sound and style this year. Us, not so much. It’s inoffensive of course, but therein lies the problem. We want the Melodifestivalen final to be entertaining – to the absolute max. It’s ace that the contest is giving this girl’s career a kick start, do we really need to hear this song again next week? No. Especially not when three superior songs finished beneath it in last night’s results table.
The most unfortunate Finalen or Fifth scenario of all time happened last night. Two schlager legends, Alcazar and Linda Bengtzing, faced each other in a duel that really could have gone either way. Both are used to making the final, and neither of them have ever been eliminated from the contest in their heat. Both gave incredible performances of subpar songs, and neither of them have had a hit single since their last appearance at Melodifestivalen. In the end though, Linda Bengtzing was the unlucky one who crashed out in 5th place. Was it because her song ‘Ta Mig’ was her worst Melodifestivalen entry by quite some distance? Or was it because despite the fact that she admirably changed her sound in an attempt to fit in with what the contest is more about these days, it’s just not what people want from her? Linda Bengtzing is synonymous with the a certain kind of schlager. A balls out, high energy, turbo powered brand of schlager that resonates with Melodifestivalen viewers. ‘Ta Mig’, while certainly energetic, most definitely wasn’t even close to what’s come before from her in terms of quality. And had she delved into her past and produced yet another one of those schlager stompers, she may well have switched places with Alcazar during last night’s result. She’s still got it in her – last night’s performance from her on stage proved that. We just wish she’d have had the chance to channel all that energy into something even a bit better.
Female fronted rock group I.D.A finished in 6th with ‘Fight Me If You Dare’, a screechathon that was sung well but which was never going to be able to stand out amongst its contemporaries last night. Josef Johansson finished in a surprisingly low 7th position with ‘Hela Natten’. The song is an incredible anthemic ballad that we’re loving in studio form today. It didn’t quite have the same power performed live though, and that God awful outfit he was forced to stand there in can’t have helped matters much. ‘Hela Natten’ also ran the risk of being cancelled out by the song which finished in 8th place – a similarly powerful ballad performed by Janet Leon, ‘Hollow’. Both two of the best songs of the night. And perhaps both would have done a lot better had they been performed in different weeks.