Today we sat through the first rehearsals of the eight songs that will be competing in this Saturday’s Heat 1 of the big ‘un – Melodifestivalen. What a lark!

It’s all very exciting being back within the throes of Melodifestivalen again. Hearing the songs for the first time, seeing what they’ve done with the stage, and finding out if this first heat is as strong as it looks on paper. It’s good to be here again and we’re looking forward to the next six weeks immensely.

For a little glimpse yourselves, SVT will be uploading clips of each of the rehearsals throughout the day. You can find them all here, and they should all be up by the late evening. As for the show itself – you’ll be able to watch it live wherever you are in the world on Saturday night at 7pm UK time – at SVT’s website here. Also, unlike in previous years, SVT will be keeping the show online for 48 hours afterwards. So if you miss it live, you’ll still be able to catch it.

So then! Here’s what we saw and heard today at Vida Arena in Växjö;

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1. Sean Banan – ‘Sean Den Förste Banan’
Text och Musik – Sean Banan, Joakim Larsson, Hans Blomberg, Mårten Andersson

This is a frustrating one. The chorus is ridiculously catchy and against all the odds actually quite brilliant if you allow yourself to get a little bit lost in the whole thing. But that’s the problem – we couldn’t quite get lost in all of it and completely latch onto the mood that the song is aiming for. The verses and the middle eight are just too bad – even by our shamelessly low standards. And the difference in quality between the verse and chorus is made all the more obvious by the fact that the verses are awkwardly live, whereas the chorus is allowed to boom out pre-recorded.

On top of this issue of the live vocals, it also felt as though said vocals were only second in importance to the stage show. Him and his dancers were a little too wrapped up in all of the costume and prop changes. And if anything went wrong – which it quite easily and often did – the barely audible vocals were completely thrown off and just became mumbles.

Oh well. Obviously the recording of the song won’t suffer from the same sound problems, and we reckon that it will come away from the contest as an enjoyable novelty number. We like enjoyable novelty numbers. Especially when they’ve got choruses this good.
Sean himself is a little bit adorable too. Bless him.

2. Abalone Dots – ‘På Väg
‘Text och Musik – Abalone Dots (Rebecka Hjukström, Sophia Hogman, Louise Holmer), Viktor Källgren

’På Väg’ veers between nice and dull. Unfortunately for the girls, on first listen it’s more towards the dull, with the nice only coming into play later. It just seems to take a while trying to get somewhere and then its three minutes are up before it’s managed to get anywhere at all.

The staging is really pretty. All majestic flags blowing in the wind while the trio stand in front of them performing like a self-aware Timoteij on Xanax.

3. The Moniker – ‘I Want To Be Chris Isaak (This Is Just The Beginning)’
Text och Musik – The Moniker

Totally different to his entry last year, ‘Oh My God’. But consistent in that he’s brought to the contest another song that we’re probably not going to be able to get behind. We were in the minority last year though, so we won’t be majorly surprised if lots of other people love it.

Although we will be a little bit surprised. There’s nothing much to it. The chorus is alright and at least memorable. But the verses are hugely forgettable. Not helped by the forced lack of enthusiasm he imposes on the song’s delivery. It’s mid-tempo track – but weaker than the the Abalone Dots song which is performed directly before it. Sweden – if you MUST put one of these songs though, then please let it be the girls. And whatever you do, please don’t let it be both!

On a more positive note, he makes great huge of the huge stage that Melodifestivalen 2012 has. His performance is the first time the stage makes us feel a little WOW. Great lighting.

4. Afro-Dite – ‘The Boy Can Dance’
Text och Musik – Figge Boström, Catrine Loqvist, Johan Lindman

Thank the pop heavens for Afro-Dite!

Before they even entered the stage we were almost blinded by the abundance of spotlights warming up and reaching around the entire arena. The lights are joined by huge projections of disco balls. And it’s the second time during the show that the stage really lights up and shows itself off fully. THIS is Melodifestivalen for us!

The girls all sound pretty much flawless – even on their very first take. And all this without scrimping on the choreography either. It’s all remarkably tight. The ladies are flanked by a couple of barely legal twinks, and still manage to keep up with them with ease.

As for the song, well it’s just the lift needed after the previous two performances. An absolutely relentless BPM from start to finish. It’s not really schlager though. Just modern disco with lots of cheese on top. In truth, we DID want them to put more emphasis on the schlager, but ‘The Boy Can Dance’ is no disappointment nevertheless.

The frocks they’ll be wearing on the night are pretty special too – for all the right reasons!

5. Dead by April – ‘Mystery’
Text och Musik – Pontus Hjelm

The surprise of the show. Grungey death metal and yet scandipop.co.uk actually likes it!

We don’t love it of course, but it’s definitely more than bearable – which is definitely more than we were expecting from it. It’s certainly melodic, which is more than what can be said for some of the tripe that we’ve already sat through today. And perhaps it’s because we’re in the arena, but the production on the song is pretty impressive too. The final chorus in particular is quite epic. The boys have adapted to their surroundings too and even brought along a key change with them.

The staging centers around the drummer who is in some sort of cage made up of ropes and chains. If we squint our eyes a little, we can find it a little bit homo-erotic. It’s all those exposed biceps and tattoos and what not. And the crew-cuts, mohawks and faux-hawks. Don’t tell them we said that though, they’ll hurt us. Not in a good way.

6. Marie Serneholt – ‘Salt & Pepper’
Text och Musik – Lina Eriksson, Mårten Eriksson, Figge Boström

Marvellous!

We really really enjoyed this – every second of it. It’s very catchy, supremely uplifting, and satisfyingly foot-tappable. A big pop number. We’re particularly enamoured with the chorus obviously, and even more so with the post-chorus. The memory of it kept us going throughout the deathly dull delay that Thorsten Flinck caused and made everyone wait through before his rehearsal.

Performance wise, Marie’s is the most ‘schlager’ of the show. Six girl dancers, lots of camp hand movements, and a big finish. So it’s easily right up our street. And we wanna learn the “salt and pepper, salt and pepper, salt and pepper” hand routine of the post chorus too. Just for the LOLZ, y’know.

7. Thorsten Flinck och Revolutionsorkestern – ‘Jag Reser Mig Igen’
Text och Musik – Thomas G:son, Ted Ström

Awful, awful, awful.

We never wanna hear this again. Thankfully because he was late, we only had to sit through it twice. But that was still two times too many. It’s the most offensively bad song to happen to this contest since Py Bäckman.

8. Loreen – ‘Euphoria’
Text och Musik: Thomas G:son, Peter Boström

Without a doubt, the best song of this heat. By quite some margin too. We suspected that this was going to be amazing, but to our ears it even beats both of Loreen’s previous singles, ‘My Heart Is Refusing Me’ and ‘Sober’. No faint praise.

Sonically it’s not unlike both of those two singles either. Ethereal dance music with chilling vocals. The only difference this time is that the chorus is even more….well….euphoric. It’s all very MASSIVE!

The performance works really well too. It’s quite eerie and creepy. In fact it’s a lot like the imaginary clubbing exploits of that girl who crawls out of the TV in Japanese horror film The Grudge! It works though, whatever twisted mind it came from.

We know it’s only week one and thus RIDICULOUS to say such a thing, but this doesn’t just look and sound like a Melodifestivalen winner, but a Eurovision winner too.

So there you go.

 

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