“For her first time in Australia, it would have been good to have some more of her older songs”, my friend said, as we made our way out of the Sydney Opera House tonight. I agree with that assessment. As much as I really do like her new material, it was classics like “Buffalo Stance” and (my personal favourite) “Manchild” that really got the audience excited.
I read with jealousy, Youssou N’Dour had joined her on stage at Womadelaide the other the day, performing their wonderful duet “7 Seconds”, and deep down I hoped he would have been there tonight also. It really is an amazing song.
But there again, Neneh Cherry is also an amazing performer. The show was full of energy and excitement, and even though she’s now 51 years old, retains a wonderful edginess. The drum and bass instrumentation of her latest work really worked for me, and I was amazed at both the sound, performance and graphical background to the show. I was also amazed at how good her voice is. In a 90-100 minute show, it never gave up.
Even though I’m no longer part of the culture of “Friday Afternoon Work Drinks”, I do remember this stage of my life very well. You would go to the pub, talk about work, and then, as the drinks kicked in, you would turn to other topics, and before you knew it, you were in a dodgy karaoke bar singing “Dancing Queen”. Through your “beer ears” you thought you sounded okay, when it fact you sounded pretty awful. And what happened to remind you of this was the appearance on stage of your workmate (who had ditched his tie and jacket) and who suddenly revealed to everyone he had a really great singing voice.
That guy was a contestant in the third heat of Melodifestivalen, the Swedish competition which selects a contestant for the Eurovision Song Contest, and his name was Andreas Weise. When he appeared on stage, I thought he would be another boring old male blonde Swede who would sing something of little consequence, only to be forgotten about minutes later. In fact, his performance was one of the best in this heat.
Along the way there were other tracks such as “Insomnia” by Ellen Benediktson (good, though probably a little too similar to Loreen’s “Euphoria”); “För din skull” (For your sake) by Kalle Johansson (boring); “Living To Die” by Andreas Johnson (the songs title says it all, it’s time for Andreas Johnson to move on); “Don’t Stop” by Isa Tengblad (boring in my view, but popular with the tweens); and “I See You” by Kristin Amparo (gorgeous voice, though I can’t remember the song only half an hour after having watched it).
But my favourite of the heat was “Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)” (I am free) by Jon Henrik Fjällgren. He won Sweden’s got talent last year with a song about a friend who died. Though originally from Colombia, he’s part of the Sami community and works by day, seriously, herding reindeer. The song he sang was “rousing” and “catchy” and sung in “Joik” which is a traditional Sami form of song. A big call to make at this stage, since there’s still a further heat to go, and then “Andra Chansen” before the final, but I think he has a really good chance of representing Sweden at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Unfortunately the video of his performance isn’t available online yet, but here’s the video from when he won Sweden’s Got Talent.
Update – The video clip for his song has now been uploaded
I’m quite a fan of the Swedish pop singer, Magnus Carlsson. To be precise, Magnus who was in Swedish pop bands Barbados and Alcazar, not Magnus Carlson (one “s”) who was in Swedish indie band, “Weeping Willows”. I even met him once, briefly, at a bar in Stockholm (see photo below). Although his obsession with recording Christmas albums is something I still don’t understand (beyond the fact they sell well), he can be relied upon for really great pop tunes. His self-titled solo album remains a firm favourite. Along the way, he has released songs in both English and Swedish, and has competed in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish finals leading to Eurovision on several occasions. Thus, when I heard the news a few months ago he would be competing again this year, I was pretty excited.
His song this year, “Möt Mig I Gamla Stan” (Meet me in the old town (part of Stockholm)” is “classic” Magnus Carlsson, and although I like it, and it has made it through to the final, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a bit “old school” to make it through to Eurovision. Over the last decade, with one or two exceptions, the Swedes have tended to vote for younger, more contemporary sounding singers and songs than the classic “key change schlager” songs they’ve been known for many year.
Aside from Magnus, there were two other songs which stood out for me this week for completely different reasons. Even though they were a bit off tune in their performance, and there’s nothing much to the tune, I thought “Groupie” by Samir and Viktor is a bit of fun, with a lyric that declares the end of the “selfie”. Totally forgettable, of course, but they had a good energy, even if the song was pretty rubbish and they couldn’t really sing. I also really liked “Forever Starts Today” by Linus Svenning, who competed in last year’s contest with “Bröder” also. It’s one of those rousing Eurovision sing-a-long numbers with a killer hook. Linus is a young guy with tats who, in Australia, probably wouldn’t be caught dead competing in a Eurovision pop song contest, but who in Sweden is totally at home.
Other competitors this week were: Emelie Irewald with “Där Och Då Med Dig” (a nice enough ballad); Neverstore with “If I Was God For One Day” (a fairly dated sounding 80/90s power ballad); Marie Bergman and Sanne Salomonsen with “Nonetheless” (a pretty song with lovely harmonies); and Mariette with “Don’t Stop Believing” (pretty good song, powerful, and with a slight Tory Amos feel to it).
Just because I have the complete recordings of ABBA in my record collection, it doesn’t mean I stopped listening to new music in 1982. But that’s what online music stores often presume. I have stored most of my music collection on Google Music, and I’ve … Continue reading Jonas Holmberg
I’ve spent the night listening to the wonderful album, “Vapen och ammunition” by the Swedish pop/rock band, Kent. Given the news events of the last few days, it’s interesting that “Vapen och ammunition” translates as “Weapons and ammunition”. Perhaps subconsciously, it was an album that … Continue reading Vapen och ammunition
“Oh my God, you MUST watch it”, I told a colleague earlier this week. She grew up in Sweden and is a major fan of Depeche Mode. I was talking about the first episode of “80s”, a new half-hour music documentary from Swedish TV, SVT. … Continue reading 80s Music Doco