A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Melodifestivalen 2014 - Tobson Top 32

Melodifestivalen isn't over - we don't have a winner yet - but as we have heard all the songs in the running, I think this is the right moment to go them through properly and write the reviews I never wrote for the respective semi finals.

In general, this has been quite a strong year song-wise. Surely a lot better than the sad collection of songs we had in 2013, but also quite a lot like last year's eurovision final from Malmö: overall good standard with few really bad ones but the real top classics being absent as well.

What has been lacking this year - and I think most viewers would agree with me - is a functioning television show with an easily understandable red thread that would make it easy for the people at home to follow the action and feel involved. The show must compliment the entries and that has not been achieved this time.

This is my own personal ranking and it is in no way a prediction of what the outcome will be like in the big final. I'll get back to that. Sooner or later.

32. I.D.A - Fight Me If You Dare
It's a sad coincidence that the only song not written by professional songwriters is also the weakest one, but it also shows how important experience is. Loud but with no charm.
Grade: 1/5

31. AMMOTRACK - Raise Your Hands
I can honestly say hard rock is hardly my favourite genre, but when I have it in Eurovision I prefer the real thing - a real rock song in a really heavy arrangement. This re-write of Mika's Grace Kelly spiced up with guitars thus fails to impress.
Grade: 1/5

30. ELLINORE HOLMER - En himmelsk sång
There were several of these fragile and starry-eyed female ballads this year. If there was one too many, this is the surplus one. Cute but mawkish. I hope it at least means something to Ellinore herself.
Grade: 1/5

29. STATE OF DRAMA - All We Are
I quite liked these guys last year and on a first listening this song felt OK too. OK but also lukewarm, colourless and unimportant. Sounds like a million other songs, most of them better.
Grade: 1/5

28. THE REFRESHMENTS - Hallelujah
The band should have kudos for doing their thing - they are good at what they do and are loved by their audience. And rightly so. I just can't see why SVT keeps insisting on including this type of entry year after year. One rock/rockabilly song every seven years or so would do nicely, thanks.
Grade: 2/5

27. SYLVESTER SCHLEGEL - Bygdens son
Sylvester is better than this and so is the song, really. But this kind of epic storytelling with lots of words in the verses and very little in terms of a chorus feels most mal placé in a contest like this.
Grade: 2/5

26. JANET LEON - Hollow
Another fairly good song that gives the impression of possibly being chosen to fill a void in a certain musical category. Janet had problems coming through the screens last year and the situation remains the same. OK voice but no connection.
Grade: 2/5

25. ELISA LINDSTRÖM - Casanova
A hopelessly outdated piece of dance orchestra-meets-schlager princess that might have felt hot in the mid-80's. But like a Swedish Sieneke, Elisa makes the song work at least a bit. And once it starts spinning in your head, you won't get rid of it.
Grade: 2/5

Perhaps my heart is made of stone but despite the emotional lyrics, this song touches me very little. Linus has a good voice and does his best, but would have deserved something better to work with.
Grade: 2/5

23. CAJSASTINA ÅKERSTRÖM - En enkel sång
Simple and likeable, well performed by lovely CajsaStina, but far too polished and forgettable to stand out in this crowd.
Grade: 2/5

22. MANDA - Glow
Sweet girliepop that would have needed a more powerful performance to stand a chance. Could have been a good Katy Perry album track in a parallel universe.
Grade: 2/5

21. YOHIO - To The End
Last year, he had an intriguing image but not enough of a song. This year he toned down the visual aspect of himself and entered a song that arguably is better but bears a lot less of his personality. An incomprehensible move.
Grade: 2/5

20. MAHAN MOIN - Aleo
At first I was so sorry that Mahan Moin didn't have a great song, as I really liked her. After a few (but far too many) listenings the song becomes more clear and graspable, but by then you are already voted off the show.
Grade: 2/5

19. LITTLE GREAT THINGS - Set Yourself Free
There are a bit too many words in these lyrics as well, but at least the guitars are loud enough and the song has sufficiently sharp edges to be a decent rock entry. Great energy.
Grade: 2/5

18. MARTIN STENMARCK - När änglarna går hem
A suggestive start with interesting and intriguing verses slowly grows into a big grey piece of arena rock in the chorus. What a disappointment. Could have been so much more than it is, but Martin sells it well.
Grade: 2/5

The best rock entry of year (but still dangerously close to being schlager in disguise). Melodic chorus, some growling, and a handsome vocalist in a straitjacket. Not bad.
Grade: 3/5

Despite a rather adorable melody line in the chorus, this is dangerously close to falling into the group of "pretty but pointless" entries (see Ellinore Holmer) but Ellen saves it with her presence and personality.
Grade: 3/5

15. SHIRLEY CLAMP - Burning Alive
Shirley does pretty much what Ellen also did - by giving a remarkable vocal performance you save a composition that really would have needed to be stronger or more interesting in itself.
Grade: 3/5

14. DR ALBAN & JESSICA FOLCKER - Around The World
I don't believe in the concept of guilty pleasures - if I like something, I like it regardless if it's appropriate or not - but if I did this would be the biggest one of the season. Dr Alban may not be the sparkling star he once was (if he was, I can't be sure after all these years) but this is instantly catchy and Jessica is a true star.
Grade: 3/5

13. ALCAZAR - Blame It On The Disco
Alcazar are back on the dancefloor they never left. That's nice I guess, but for a band that was once quite avant-garde and experimental in their genre, this is far too nice and safe and expected to satisfy me. I would have wanted more, much more. Disappointed.
Grade: 3/5

The Eurovision Goddess came down from her heaven, she pinned down the cameras with her eyes, filled the room with her presence and sang her heart out. Too bad that the song she was given wasn't strong enough to match her. Good but lacking that last little something.
Grade: 3/5

11. OSCAR ZIA - Yes We Can
A frisky and playful little chorus with a good hook and some good mood, is that all it takes? Not really. The song would have needed to be more developed to stay interesting in its own right for three minutes, but the energetic performance really helps a lot.
Grade: 3/5

It really was about time that Linda would try to mature a bit and this electro stomper is a logical step and the more aggressive relative of "Alla flickor." The problem is that Linda gets too excited - as always - and can hardly contain herself or keep her number together. I can never relax when she is on stage and that distracts from the song in question.
Grade: 3/5

9. EKO - Red
An engaging piece of electronica featuring a surprising little detail ripped from Abba's "Move On", dramatically performed by a fascinating singer I want to see and hear more from. Sadly overlooked by the televoters, but a song that won't wear out anytime soon.
Grade: 3/5

8. J.E.M - Love Trigger
Top marks for the visual presentation - delicious on the Ani Lorak scale - and the award for best camera work. Good energy and a really infectious chorus.
Grade: 3/5

7. ANTON EWALD - Natural
I was far from being an Anton fan boy last year but I was pleasantly surprised this year. A more subtle and less obvious song with a good chorus and a performance more elegant than most dancing boys we have seen in Melodifestivalen lately.
Grade: 3/5

6. PINK PISTOLS - I Am Somebody
The real surprise of the year for me. I was moderately impressed on a first listening but when the pieces fell in place I realised what a gem this is. Original and demanding in a way I wish Alcazar would still be. And what a shame for the rock bands that the guitars with most attitude of the year were presented by a band like this.
Grade: 4/5

5. JOSEF JOHANSSON - Hela natten
The biggest injustice of the year. Josef is like a pop dream with his fine voice, personable style and youthful appearance and the song keeps growing and growing into a very effective and touching climax.
Grade: 4/5

4. PANETOZ - Efter solsken
A real happy pill with five adorable guys dancing in sync (most of the time) to a ridiculously catchy chorus full of sunshine.
Grade: 4/5

Fun, catchy, sexy and hit friendly. Unfortunately killed off by a set of sick notes in the live performance - falsetto is always tricky, isn't it - but the studio version is ace.
Grade: 4/5

Queen Sanna - the Agnetha Fältskog of the new generation - shows yet again that she is able to do almost any kind of song as good as perfectly. Impeccably executed and bursting with (restrained) emotion. Quite possibly this year's winner.
Grade: 4/5

1. ACE WILDER - Busy Doing Nothing
Never in a million years did I expect Sweden to like this as much as I do. A Swedish Yulia Savicheva complimented by dancers who actually contribute a great deal to the performance - many times I find dancers more distracting in all honesty - and a song that would be a pretty ordinary pop ditty if it wasn't for the crazy electronic breakdown that also works as the real handle for the audience to hold on to. Most probably too demanding to be the winner of the final but at least it is my personal #1 of 2014.
Grade: 4/5


  1. I am still very torn this year my friend. Fredrik Kempe & David Kreuger write great tracks, but I still haven't decided whether I want Alcazar or Oscar Zia to go through to Copenhagen...

    I think "Blame it on the Disco" is a better track than "Stay the Night", but I do like the BSB/Cheiron-classic stomping bass sound of "Yes We Can" (and the TV set dance routine was clever, altho an idea borrowed from a few West End shows). Their 3rd track Undo via Sanna Nielsen is also good, but I prefer my upbeat songs.

    Other than that I would take back your Alvaro Estrella too after listening to the studio version, but that live performance did make me wince. And I hope the pre-competition favourite Yohio has faded a bit, his song this year is a bit meh. Same with Anton's entry.

  2. In my mind the best song and performance was En enkel sång by CajsaStina Åkerström, but I agree it might not be the best choice for the Eurovision Song Contest. Of the ten finalists I am torn between Sanna and Helena.

    Helena has a perfect song for her, but maybe a little too clean and calculated for me (reminds me of Hero by Mrs. Perelli).

    I have always loved Sanna in Melodifestivalen. She is perfect singer but manages still to have human vulnerability in her singing. Unfortunately Undo is one of many Frederik Kempe songs that start promisingly but refrain is disappointingly flat (I can give you a list of Kempes other unfinished songs). Still the overall package is the best this year.