If you smell pyrotechnics don’t be alarmed: Rehearsals for the third semi-final of Melodifestivalen 2015 kicked off in Östersund this morning. The line-up features five-time #melfest veteran Andreas Johnson, #mello 2014 breakout star Ellen Benediktson, and Svensktoppen winner Kalle Johansson. So who’s up and who’s down? Let’s take a look at the 30-second snippets SVT has released and make sense of all the fabulous…
Deltävling 3, Östersund 21/2:
1. “Insomnia” – Ellen Benediktson
What a difference a year makes! Last year Ellen was the slightly shy newbie singing a charming (albeit meloncholy) song called “Songbird”. That song gave her lift, but “Insomnia” helps her take flight! This is modern, dark and intoxicating electronica which tells the story of a woman trying to hide her pain. “Putting on a show, So no one will know, That my heart is constant low, I can’t shut out the night, I can’t shut out your lies, And I’m waiting for you, I’m waiting for you.” That explains why she can’t sleep. The staging has real edge: six backing dancers surround Ellen on a series of platforms. If it rains, no bother: their black body-con outfits are made of pleather.
Read the lyrics to “Insomnia”
2. “För din skull” – Kalle Johansson
Kalle is this year’s wildcard, having won Svensktoppen last fall, and I’m afraid to say it shows. The song itself is flat and forgettable, and the staging lacks the gloss we saw in Ellen’s performance. I’m not convinced they gave him a choreographer (walk, stand, clap, walk). That said, the lack of polish may be what helps this in the end. He is incredibly likeable, he isn’t yet a diva, and he manages to stir warmth in you when he flashes those baby blue eyes. I’m skeptical about his chances to make Andra Chansen. I’m more confidant that he can come back in a few years and properly shine.
Read our interview with Kalle.
Read the lyrics to “För din skull”
3. “Bring Out the Fire” – Andreas Weise
I’m sure Andreas is a nice guy, but he comes off a little pervy in this video, saying, “turn me on, bring out the fire.” I think I’ll bring a fire extinguisher instead. The song has flashes of disco, but in that annoying, we-have-heard-this-before kind of way. He can sing and he can move, so it saddens me that he’s singing this dated lounge music. Second chance? No chance.
4. “Living to Die” – Andreas Johnson
Andreas is a veteran and it shows. He could sing “Happy Birthday” and he would still deliver it with presence and command. It’s difficult to judge the song based on this snippet, but this much is clear: it really suits his voice. At times he sounds like the frontman of U2. There’s a smouldering quality to his voice. The rasp when he sings “I’m still by your side” gives me tingles. At times the stage appears to swallow him, and he’s kept the staging (or at least the part we see) very simple. I’m slightly underwhelmed — perhaps it’s because I just watched the non-stop energy that is Isa — but it’s definitely too early to rule this one out.
Read the lyrics to “Living to Die”
5. “Don’t Stop” – Isa
Isa’s hips don’t lie and they’re telling me she is fierce. She promised us Super-Bowl-sized entertainment, and she delivered. This is a high-octane number that requires her to have all engines blasting. Fortunately she has a lot of juice in her tank to see it through. The stage is filled with pinks and purples and oversized boom boxes. Dancers give this a frenetic pace and Isa knows exactly went to thrust, pout and bend. She’s telegenic, y’all. The progression to the chorus is nice and when it finally hits I can’t help but bob my head. Watch out for this one.
Read our interview with Isa.
Read the Don’t Stop lyrics.
6. “I See You” – Kristin Amparo
Reports emerging out of Sweden suggest that she’s a real dark horse to take this semi-final. After watching the snippet we can see why. Her staging is simple but engrossing, grand and opulent yet somehow warm and familiar. While the snippet only shows her working those dark, melodious bits — and Adele-style, we might add — she’s apparently going to be throwing down every inch of the register, from low to high. This may be the classiest number in this semi-final.
7. “Jag är fri (Manne Leam Frijje)” – Jon Henrik Fjällgren
Jon is representing Sweden’s Sami minority — and he does it with aplomb! If this is indicative of Sami music, then I need Christer Björkman to open a recording studio in the Sami capital. This is my indigenous jam, y’all! It has real soul — not the manufactured stuff we’re used to hearing on the radio — and you can tell that Jon is singing from the heart. The staging recreates a Sami village which, judging from the title, gives Jon a sense of freedom and purpose. He provides the heat musicaly — that voice is so rich, so warm, so melodious — and the staging compliments it with an artifical campfire that pumps out smoke. In a contest where the artificial and superflous so often reign, this stands out for keeping it real.