“What a bunch of bogans”, I thought to myself as I watched how the Swedish public voted in the Heat 4 of Melodifestivalen, the finals which choose the song which represents Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest.
I had no doubt Ulrik Munther would make it through. He’s talented, very popular with teenage girls, is family friendly, and he sang a rather average song with great passion. The song itself was pretty ordinary, but Ulrik’s performance was really fantastic. He’s come a long way from the nerdy boy who looked like a character from Oliver Twist when my friend Graeme saw him perform at Stockholm Pride a couple of years ago.
I also knew there’d be a “rock song” that would make it through to the finals. There always is, as there’s obviously a significant market for the “odd man out”. And in Melodifestivalen, which consists of pop, schlager, and so on, the “rock guy” is always the odd man out who obtains a significant personal vote. Maybe I’ve become a bit of snob, a bit of a Stockholm-centric Swedish elitist, but as he sang, I had the image of the guy singing “Bed On Fire”, as someone you might find in a late night bar somewhere in rural Sweden picking a fight with someone over their musical taste. Just sayin’.
There were a couple of songs I knew wouldn’t make it through. Sylvia, who famously had the 1974 hit song Y Viva España – which I love – would have had appeal to an older audience, of course, but unfortunately the song wasn’t all that great, and neither was her performance.
I also knew Army Of Lovers would struggle to get through, since it was so completely “out there”. “Army Of Lovers” was a legendary Swedish pop band of the 1990s thanks to their international hit, “Crucified”. The individual members of the band have had varying degrees of success ever since, though it’s Alexander Bard who has gone on to achieve the greatest success with bands like Gravitonas and BWO. Meanwhile, female vocalist, La Camilla, went on to have an affair with the King of Sweden. Twenty years later, they’re a very eccentric, slightly off-beat bunch of middle-aged Swedes who continue to be a little bit “out there”. Ten years ago, slightly crazy out there performers would still make it through to Eurovision. That was before the impact of Pop Idol, American Idol, X-Factor and so on resulted in Eurovision also becoming similar. The Russian Grannies were a welcomed oddity. Deep in my heart, I’d hoped the Swedish voting public would have at least allowed it to go through to “Andra Chansen”. the second chance final. But no…
I was also really disapointed Lucia Piñera failed to make it through. Even though it was completely derivative of Adele, I thought her song “It Must Be Love” was an incredibly catchy song performed well. And hey, what’s wrong with sounding like Adele? She seems to have done quite well in the last few years.
The surprise of the night for me was “Jalla Dansa Sawa” (Come On And Dance) by Behrang Miri. Sung in Arabik, Swedish, Fench and English, I thought it had a good melody and was quite catchy. Even if it did look like the band had dressed for Saturday night karaoke, I thought it had a lot of potential.
But no… the Swedes have decided to send Ulrik and Ralf through to the final. They did a great job selecting Loreen last year. I’m just not sure if they can be trusted this year to choose the right song to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest.
On a brighter note, it was lovely to see Danny Saucedo perform the role of Magnus Carlsson in the return of Alcazar. Again, not wishing to appear grumpy and cynical, and I love Alcazar, but I have this vague memory of having seen Alcazar’s final performance at Stockholm Pride in 2011. Mabye it was the excitement of it all, maybe I’d had a drink or two, but I am sure it was their farewell performance, never to be seen again…