Melodifestivalen 2015 ~ Semi-final 3 Picks!

What's good, Museled readers! Another set of rehearsal snippets has been posted by SVT so it's time to give our picks for this week's Melodifestivalen semi-final. We've also included a recap and review of last week's show, numbers, and results, but you're as welcome as ever to skip down to our thoughts on this week if you prefer.


In a reverse-shocking set of results, the voting actually reflected the ranking of the quality of songs and performances given. But before we get to those, the show began with a cheesy and bland opening number that wasn't even the worst musical number from the hosts of the night. They later did some sort of knock-off version of "Empire State of Mind," which read as entirely ignorant and disrespectful to the hip-hop and urban genre. Given the origins of this type of music and the highly tumultuous ongoing current events regarding police brutality and white supremacy, SVT would do well to read up on what's going on in the world of POCs instead of delivering offensive numbers with the whitest people (never) under the sun donning gold chains and caps.

Flipper Bark, yes that's what we're calling her now, also continued to flop in her attempts to be funny. We still don't know if this character is supposed to be seven years old or forty-five, but considering that this is someone who donned a bear costume for the entire show just for one floundering punchline, we're long past any hope that we'll ever find her entertaining. But let's move on to the songs themselves.

Linus Svenning's "Forever Starts Today" opened the competition and we were pleasantly surprised by the number. Admittedly, he lacked charisma, stage presence, and his outfit looked more like that of a rebellious teenager that snuck out to do a gig at a dive-bar. But with a full team of drummers moving around and offering visual compensation, we were able to derive a bit of satisfaction, as the song was brighter and his vocals were steadier than last year. The studio version is more enjoyable since it removes the poor showmanship from the experience. Once again, he landed in Andra Chansen. Last year, he was one of two acts to advance from AC, and considering that a full four acts will advance from AC this time around and "Forever Starts Today" is his best song yet, his odds are decent that he'll be in the finale once again.

Emelie Irewald's "Där och då med dig" (There and then with you) was about as dreary as we thought it would be. It's really quite a shame because it seemed like her voice wasn't that bad, but the song and number did absolutely nothing in her favour. But surprisingly, she didn't end up in last place. Hurray?

Samir & Viktor's "Groupie" was the other song to advance to advance to AC, no doubt due in large part to the hype they have from the vastly superior "Success," their popularity on social media, and their lack of competition in this Heat for the youth demographic. The vocals were horrendous, but we can't deny that we were entertained, considering that you had middle-aged camera men scrambling to chase them around the arena and Viktor's mark-missing off-rhythm bopping struck a sentimental chord in us of nights out clubbing in Sweden and watching the locals attempt to dance. Nonetheless, we've relented and downloaded this song, and it's started to grow on us.

Neverstore's "If I Was God For One Day" came in fifth, and we're sick of talking about how mediocre the rock numbers are in Melodifestivalen, so we just hope that this will send a clear message to SVT to drop the genre unless something truly epic comes along to warrant its return to the contest.

Marie Bergman & Sanne Salomonsen's "Nonetheless" earned the infamous last place spot. We really don't want to be mean about this but this was the right result, and we'll just leave it at that.

Magnus Carlsson's "Möt mig i Gamla Stan" proved all the Schlager-hating naysayers wrong with an all-around fun number. The wardrobe, his hair, the choreography, and the song itself were all excellent. We'd like for him to turn up the attitude just a bit more for the finale, though. As far as Melodifestivalen dance songs are concerned, this wasn't exactly groundbreaking but with how weak this overall heat was, this number shined that much brighter by comparison.

Mariette's "Don't Stop Believing" was the other to advance to the finale and seriously, this staging was like a bad Vegas impersonation of Loreen's aesthetic. If this had been a stronger heat, we really question as to whether this would do any better than AC but at least she sang in tune which is more than we could say for some.

 We did yet another video review of this semi-final that you can watch here:


Now onto this week's numbers. We hadn't heard of most of these acts, so we felt compelled to do extra research to reassure ourselves that we wouldn't have another lukewarm "Heat" to sit through. There seem to be many more capable vocalists in this heat, so a lot comes down to the quality of the songs, styling, stage production, and showmanship. As usual, we'll remind everyone that these opinions are based only off the snippets, and any past exposure to the artists themselves and their work. Even if we're critical, we could always change our opinions once we've seen the numbers in full on Saturday as well as eventually hearing the studio versions.

1) Ellen Benediktson - "Insomnia"

We've been ever so curious to see what this song and number would be like after Ellen's ridiculously hilarious antics at the press conference announcing the contest's acts. From the outlandish behaviour to her drastic change in styling, we were expecting some sort of hot mess of a pop banger. Instead, we got the same nasally vocals we were subjected to last year on an underwhelming, dramatic-pop number. Comparisons are being made to Loreen's "Euphoria," and with another 1-SAT-word song title it's admittedly not that far-fetched. But if Mariette's "Don't Stop Believing" is the Vegas-knockoff of "Euphoria," then "Insomnia" is the self-important karaoke version of "Don't Stop Believing." We appreciate the improvement from last year, as we're not a fan of underwhelming comebacks, but this just isn't good enough for us. The melody is weak and doesn't pack nearly enough of a punch for us to cheer this on. But to her credit, the styling is solid. We love her outfit, and liked the accompanying dancing.

2) Kalle Johansson - "För din skull" (For your sake)

We really didn't have high expectations for Kalle Johansson at first, as the P4 picks don't have a propensity for bringing the best numbers. But when we researched the acts and listened to the song that won Kalle his spot in the contest, "Den där dan," we became enormously excited because of how utterly excellent it is. (We also downloaded it and have probably listened to it a hundred times already in the last week). From what we heard in the rehearsal snippet, "För din skull" isn't quite as good. However, it's still relatively decent, and Kalle sings it well. But as he's entirely unknown and not in the best spot in the running order, we reckon he'll really need to whip out the showmanship and perhaps a few cheeky smiles and winks to charm the Swedish public into voting for him. But regardless of how he does on Saturday, Kalle is someone we'll be keeping an eye on solely for the strength of "Den där dan."

3) Andreas Weise - "Bring Out the Fire"

Now this is what we're talking about! Take the groove of an uptempo Cee-Lo Green song, add a splash of Michael Bublé-esque showmanship, and add in some pyro-techniques which we haven't even seen yet but are now greatly looking forward to, and you'll have Andreas Weise's "Bring Out the Fire." His vocals are great and his staging appears to be good as well. It also appears that he's one of the few Swedes that actually isn't afraid to show a bit of personality so we're feeling rather taken by him. The only critique we have for him currently is that the single cover for this song is all wrong. It lacks personality and spark, looking like something more appropriate for an eerie, experimental track. This is also why we chose a more lively photo from his performance instead of the single's cover itself to be the featured image on this post.

4) Andreas Johnson - "Living to Die"

What. Happened. Though. We haven't heard many of Andreas Johnson's songs but we thought him a far more capable vocalist than what SVT has posted. Then the song itself is just bland, dreary and very little about the number and production doesn't feel dated, including even the lighting. It sounds like a failed comeback from a once-great rock act from the 80s. We really expected more from him.

5) Isa - "Don't Stop"

Isa seemed ripe with potential, with youth, energy, dance experience, and decent vocal ability on her side. There's just one problem: the song. It's coming off like a lukewarm early 2000s pop song that you heard a couple of times but has long since faded from your memory. But considering that this girl is only sixteen, she could still be moulded into something great if she's given the right guidance or carves her own innovative path.

6) Kristin Amparo - "I See You"

Wow, does this woman have a voice on her or what!? This snippet isn't quite as epic as we'd like but assuming that it's only from the bridge, so we're hopeful that the number will make more of an impact once heard in full. Given the popularity Kristin Amparo has gained by mic-dropping her fantastic vocals on big dance tracks, we were hoping for something more along the lines of that. But considering some of the (questionable) numbers that have advanced to the finale already, or even to Andra Chansen, we firmly believe Kristin Amaparo's vocals deserve a spot in that finale.

7) Jon Henrik Fjällgren - "Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)" (I am free)

It's a rare occasion that we can say a Melodifestivalen song feels entirely original but this is very much the case for this one. We can't say that we view Melodifestivalen as a culturally sensitive program, nor does it typically have much diversity, so that in and of itself makes it all the important for a song and act like this to be present. But on top of all of that, the song is actually quite uplifting and pleasant to listen to. We haven't heard much Sami music before, but if this song is representative of the genre, it's certainly enough to make us intrigued to hear more. Also, Jon's vocals are quite lovely.

Final tally ~ Our ranking, based on the rehearsal snippets, is as follows:

Direkt till finalen (Direct to the finale): Andreas Weise's "Bring Out the Fire" & Jon Henrik Fjällgren's "Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)" (I am free)
Andra Chansen (Second Chance Round): Kristin Amapro's "I See You" (But it absolutely needs to advance from AC to the finale) & Kalle Johansson's "För din skull"
5th/6th (We're not bothered which places which between the two): Ellen Benediktson's "Insomnia" & Isa's "Don't Stop"
7th: Andreas Johnson's "Living to Die"

** Friendly reminder that this is not a prediction of Saturday's voting results, but our preferences**

Be sure to tune in at 20:00 Swedish time (11:00 am PST), February 21, on SVT's website to watch the third semi-final. You won't be able to vote unless you're actually in Sweden but you can watch from anywhere in the world! Also, tweet along with the #Melfest hashtag. To all the entries, break a leg!


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