Melodifestivalen 2014 #1 – The Melfest Crisis

For the last few days I’ve been struggling. I’ve been unable to decide if it was the songs or the hosts of this year’s first edition of Melodifestivalen which were the most underwhelming. That’s why it’s taken me a few days to compose a post, whereas I’m normally quite speedy to offer my opinions on the Swedish finals which lead to the Eurovision Song Contest. Finally, a few days later, I’ve concluded it’s both.

Each year, through a series of nationally televised finals, the Swedes choose an entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest. Most years, I actually think the vast majority of the Swedish entries are far more interesting and entertaining than those offered by the rest of Europe. The Swedes have a fantastic recent track record of putting on a fantastic live television event, and often choosing “the right song” to contest Eurovision. Often they’ve got it wrong, but in the case of Loreen with her song “Euphoria” they got it spectacularly right.

With a long history of schlager, and a more recent history of “pop idol” (and the like), the recent Swedish finals have been a combination of the “traditional” and the more “contemporary” with the occasional whacky number thrown in, including Bjorn Ranelid and Army Of Lovers.

Unfortunately, the first round of this year’s Melodifestivalen has left me totally underwhelmed, and why it’s taken me a few days to compose my thoughts. As Peggy Lee once sang…

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

The first edition was very disappointing. In my view, there were very few memorable songs. There were some catchyish songs, I admit, but nothing which I thought would stand a chance at representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest.

As you listen to the commentary from the hosts, the constant refrain seems to be “They competed in Melodifestivalen in 2009 and came fourth” or “They were a contestant on Swedish Pop Idol and came second”.

Speaking of the hosts, they are so incredibly lacking in charisma this year, compared with previous years. Can you really imagine this year’s team being able to carry off something like this?

Another problem seems to be the limited pool of song-writers who compete. As much as I loved Fredrik Kempe and some of the songs he has contributed in recent years, I groaned when I saw him appear again this year. I liked his song. But like all of his tracks, his lyrics are terribly simplistic. And there have to be other songwriters in Sweden aside from him surely? Why aren’t we seeing the likes of the Swedish House Mafia team competing? Why is it (seemingly) third-rate hasbeen or rock wannabees who are writing the songs? (Those questions were probably more rhetorical than anything).

I’m hoping the second heat will see an improvement.

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