Making Sweden 5% nerdier than it has to be.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A mixed bag of music and feelings

Over the last month Sweden has been hard at work to each saturday pick out the songs that will sing it out for the shot of being our contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest. Last year I was largely disappointed by the roster of songs for the finale but we ended up with a good song as winner, stupid invisible jury groups stopped us before we got to the real ESC finale but that's a whole other rant. Anyway, this year I wasn't disappointed at first, mainly because there hasn't been any songs that have really wowed me. But after thinking about it I'm actually pretty damn disappointed in Sweden. But it's a little more complicated than last year.

So far we've been through all four quarter finals and eight songs have been chosen for the finale so far. This saturday we're going through the semi-final where the 8 songs that were chosen to get another shot at the finale will duke it out in a tournament style sing off. I'll get back to those later on. First we'll go through the 8 finalists.

1.Danny Saucedo – "In the Club"
2.Swingfly – "Me and My Drum"
3.Sanna Nielsen – "I'm in Love"
4.Brolle – "7 Days And 7 Nights"
5.Eric Saade – "Popular"
6.The Playtones – "The King"
7.Linda Bengtzing – "E det fel på mej"
8.Nicke Borg – "Leaving Home"

Out of these eight I like about three of them. None of them are really bad but most of them are so very forgettable. I've watched this show since it became a stupidly big thing in this country. That was ten or eleven years ago and I've basically heard everything that'll be popular in this contest over and over and over. I want something new already or least a little variation of the old stuff. Luckily this years contest has provided some new stuff and some of that just happens to be the three songs I really like in this line-up.

First there's Swingfly with Me and My Drum. It's a rap that isn't horribly lame. I'm not saying that rap as a musical art is bad but the rap songs that tend to make it into this contest have up until now been so very very stupid. Not this one though. Me and My Drum is an up-beat and catchy rap that pulled me in from the get go and the artists performing it have a wonderful joie de vivre that they show on stage. It's just a delight to see them do their thing.

Then there's The Playtones with The King. They're a danceband and usually I'm not into this kind of music but this particular song is just fun. It's has a good rythm and sort of gets me pumped to actually dance, though I never ever will. Their stage show is also lots of fun and stylish. It's probably the most generic of my three favourites but I still think that it's a good one.

Lastly we have Nicke Borg with Leaving Home. Nicke Borg is a former singer and guitarist for the rock band Backyard Babies. The song is a heartfelt rockballad about how he's leaving the tour-life and entering a new phase of his life. It's the kind of song that gets stronger with each time you hear it. He's pouring his everything into a very simple performance and it's just very effective in tugging my heart-strings.

Those three are my favourites so far. The problem is that none of are going to win and that's probably for the best. I just can't imagine any of them winning the ESC and I have no idea how they'd work with the rest of Europe. Then again I have backed up the wrong song for about five or six years in a row by now so what do I know.

That said they're most likely not gonna win anyway. The two most popular songs, as far as I've gathered, are Danny's In the Club and Eric Saade's Popular and they have a lot in common. They're both solo male artists who put in extremely well-rehearsed and proffessional shows with lots of flash and kickass coreography. They're also very modern and absolutely ooze confidence, both in their act and the lyrics. It's not my personal taste but I can't say that they're bad. I can say that they lack the heart of the three songs that I enjoy the most.

In the end though they probably have a better shot at winning the ESC for Sweden than Swingfly, The Playtones and Nicke Borg do. I'm willing to admit that... begrudgingly. But still, I can't help but feel disappointed that this is what's gonna be the big fight in the finale, at least for the people's votes. Also, I think that it's kind of unfair when one considers one last aspect of this whole thing.

You may have noticed that all the artists I've mentioned so far have been men. It's not for a lack of female artists with songs. There's been plenty but most of them have been sent home packing or into this week's semi-final. Among the ones in the semi-final we my two favourite female artists of this year's competition.

The first of which is Love Generation with Dance Alone. It's a group of four young women that sing a song about how they don't need any man to accompany them out on the dancefloor. They've got themselves and their friends and that's all that they need to have a kickass time at the party. The performance is just as sharp and practiced as Danny's and Saade's, if not more so, and it mixes the more old school style of singing this contest is used to with a modern beat. Just like Danny and Saade there's an undeniable confidence in their performance as well.

Secondly we have Sara Varga with Spring för Livet. This is probably the only song in the entire contest that has a truly unique sound to it. A more experienced source, mom, described it to me as a swedish 70s progressive rock/pop song. It's a song about being how when you're in a relationship with a man that hits you the best thing to do is just to leave him because life is too wonderful to waste on something like that. The tone is very solemn throughout most of the song only to rise into a slightly lighter tone towards the end. And the presentation is modest yet effective throughout.

So there we have two very different songs that are about female strength, both as an individual and as a group. They're well-done and really should've gone all the way to the finale. Instead they're in the tournament style semi-final where they might eventually have to face off against one another and I'm forced to choose between them. When compared to the two female solo artist that did get to the finale right away I just can't help but worry about what's going throught the minds of the swedish people. Please bear with two more song descriptions, it's just fair that way. These are the two songs sung by female artists that the swedish people sent directly to the finale.

First we have Linda Bengtzing with E det fel på mej. It's a song about a woman who's happily married with a more or less perfect guy but still fantasizes about another man whom she could very well just jump in bed with if he so much as asked, she asks herself if there's something wrong with her. The performance is very energetic and has a certain amount of heart in it. Or in other words, basic Linda Bengtzing. She's competed before and it's basically always this same performance over and over and over.

Then there's Sanna Nielsen with I'm in love. As the title says it's a song about how she's in love with this guy and how he's her everything and how she'll give her everything to him forever and ever. Like Bengtzing, Nielsen has compete quite few times over the years but at least she's tried out different kinds performances. This time is your typical happy to be in love song with and nice smile at the end.

In short, the two songs performed by women that the people of sweden sent directly to the finale are all about different aspects of romantic heterosexual relationships and how great it is to have a man, and they're the same old type of song that we keep hearing in this contest year after year.

We could've had the two progressive female songs directly in the finale where they deserved to be. You know, to show that this contest is moving forward and evolving so that we don't just get the same old stuff all the time. But nope. The people of sweden sent the two old fashioned relationship songs all the way instead and now I have to pick one of the progressive songs over the other.

Thank you people of sweden. You keep finding new ways to disappoint me.

It's especially annoying when one considers that Love Generation's song is, as I described above, in many ways similar to the two most likely contenders for the grand prize. Basically sweden is saying that it's ok for guys to sing confident, modern and flashy songs while women should stick to love songs of various kinds. That alone is probably going to tip me in favour of Love Generation of Sara Varga simply because I think that there should some fairness between the sexes in this contest already.

Then at the finale itself half the points will be handed out by various european jury groups. That will make things interesting and if Love Generation could just get to the finale maybe, just maybe, those jury groups will see that they're sharper and fresher than Danny and Saade and this contest could finally take just one step forward.

1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis. Submitting a great song to Eurovision is more important than winning Eurovision but sadly we sometimes think more about what might win Eurovision than we think about how good the song is. I appreciate that your focus is on the strengths of each song.