(photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT)
Is it just me or was that one of the best #melfest heats in years? Not a single song I wouldn’t give at least a 7.5/10 to. Most a lot more.
— scandipop (@scandipop) February 20, 2016
“It’s just you“, was the response from Twitter last night. Well we’re sticking by our tweet that proclaimed our appreciation for last night’s entertainment (the songs, that is – this week’s opening number and interval acts really don’t bear thinking about ever again). It’s always a joy when a Melodifestivalen heat contains all killer and no filler. And last night we got one of those heats.
Two big pop numbers by two young popstars, and five up-tempo party tracks. The mid-tempo pop ballads made it to the final, and everything else fought it out (we imagine quite closely too) amongst themselves for finishing places 3rd to 7th.
To the Final: Oscar Zia’s ‘Human’, and Lisa Ajax’s ‘My Heart Wants Me Dead’
To Andra Chansen: Boris Rene’s ‘Put Your Love On Me’ and SaRaha’s ‘Kizungozungo’
Massive kudos to Oscar Zia – as good as ‘Human’ sounded on record, his performance of it (albeit a lot of that down to the staging) took it to the next level of amazingnessness. And Lisa Ajax joined him in the final with a song that we imagine the rest of the world would have wet itself over had Rihanna made her comeback with it last month. And another top performance.
To watch the whole show again, including last night’s two winner performances, SVT are hosting it on their site until tomorrow evening.
Last night’s result means that we’ve already got ourselves a superb line-up in store for the final. And actually, for the Andra Chansen round too. Boris Rene’s pairing of soul-pop with house-pop (and his charismatically enthusiastic performance of it) made for a highlight of the evening, and we’ll be shocked if it doesn’t become a breakout hit for him – whatever his result in the second chance round. And SaRaha’s ‘Kizungozungo’ was a guilt free remedy for every time you ever wanted to have a nostalgic listen to waka waka haba haba gosa gosa aleo aleo, but thought better of it. And another infectiously upbeat performance.
In 5th place were Swedish House Debutantes, Smilo. ‘Weight of the World’ sounded better on record than it did during last night’s live vocal, but the inclusion of a young house production outfit was a brilliant addition to the Melodifestivalen stage regardless, and a respectful nod to the type of music and artists that Sweden exports on the biggest scale of all these days. Swingfly & Helena Gutarra’s 6th place finish was a bit of a surprise. He returned to the competition with a song that was just as infectiously bouncy as his previous effort. But then as we said above, we doubt there will have been too much of a difference in the number of votes cast for the songs finishing between 3rd and 7th. Well – actually – maybe make that 3rd and 6th.
In 7th place we had iconic drag show After Dark, who celebrate their 40th year in showbiz this year. And while their song and performance did resemble something which they would have put out back in 1996 to celebrate their 20th year in showbiz too, it was undoubtedly an absolute joy to watch and to listen to. For us (and for a lot of other people too, we’d imagine), it was the most entertaining performance of the night. But in 2016 is this kind of performance perhaps better placed as a fun interval act rather than a credible competitor? Last week and the week before we all witnessed the pure charm and utter bliss that were the three minutes in which Charlotte Perrelli and Anna Book took to the stage respectively. AND we all saw the level of goodwill that was shown to them afterwards. Are we at a place now where an After Dark performance – as with Book and Perrelli – is still very much in demand by Sweden, but only in the context of entertainment rather than competition? We struggle to believe that After Dark was the lowpoint of the evening in most houses across Sweden last night. We’d imagine it quite was the opposite. But perhaps all those who enjoyed it (and schlager music in general) just don’t feel it should be representing their country on the Eurovision stage anymore. Or are so old school that they can’t really be bothered with the faff of downloading an app. Last week proved that schlager music isn’t dead. But last night needn’t be thought of as a rebuff. Instead, we’d say it provoked a re-think – of how schlager music needs to be showcased in Melodifestivalen from now on. Linda Bengtzing….it’s over to you next week!