Earlier today the Wiwi Jury – our in-house panel of music unprofessionals – caught an early morning flight to Sweden so that we could start our reviews of Melodifestivalen 2015. After grabbing some coffee, we put Jon Henrik Fjällgren on the boombox with his entry “Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)”. Did we love the Frozen vibes or were we turned off by those phantoms? Read on to find out!
Jon Henrik Fjällgren with “Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)”
William: Easily the most stirring song in the competion, Jon Henrik rejects disposable pop for a joik that channels spirituality and soul. Built on millenia of tradition, it stands out musically and thematically. It would have been admired by ancient shamen and warriors, but also today’s Sami housewives, Sweden’s hot young things, and, potentially, Eurovision voters. Universal and moving, original and touching, this is my indigenous jam.
Billy: Jon Henrik seems really promising. His song is not. I get the traditional look, which would fit much more for a Balkan country, but I don’t understand the lyrics. Maybe because THERE AREN’T ANY. Seriously, it would be interesting to see “Jag Är Fri” at Vienna. But to be honest, it’s hopeless.
Bogdan: Props to Jon for bringing the joik to our attention. It does look like a joke though. First of all, I started to laugh out loud when I saw the choreography of the dancers. (Are they listening to “Fairytale” instead?) Then, the poor backing vocalists are hanging from the ceiling like some creepy girls from a B horror movie! Jon Henrik Fjällgren can sing, but he is expressionless and looks awkward on stage. The song itself is different for Melodifestivalen, but different is not always good. And it’s not even original, as Enigma, Deep Forest and, come to think of it, Emmelie De Forest have done it better before.
Denise: Jon is amazing. I absolutely adored Daniel’s Joik, so I was really looking forward to this song. I was hoping for something like that song, so Jag är fri was a little dissapointing. Even if this song is not as great as I was hoping for, it’s still really good. Jon isn’t a typical performer, but I believe every single non existing word he says. Normally I don’t like songs without real words like Treble and Urban Trad, but this Sami language is great! There’s so much emotion in it and it sounds incredible. He isn’t my overall favourite, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him back in May.
Deban: Just like it’s long songtitle, “Jag är fri (Manne Liem Frije)” sounds like an overstretched chorus for a jungle themed musical. Without verses or a clearly defined musical structure, it starts to appear like the composition is on a loop. Furthermore, JH’s personality and stage presence is too feeble. This song demands a thunderous vocal. I can barely see his lips move. Disappointing!
Robyn: My main issue with this song is that it sounds like Jon Henrik is singing backing vocals, while his backing singers quietly sing the main part. It’s a good performance, but it’s more of a theatrical performance than a song. It would be better as the interval act than as Sweden’s song in Vienna.
Ron: It is a very unique and non-typical Swedish song, which might work for it in Eurovision. However, most of the song is pre-recorded vocals, perfect and echoed backing vocals , I think this part will be tough to recreate on the Eurovision stage, where all the backing singers will have to sing live – it’s gonna sound a lot less impressive than how it sounds at Melodifestivalen. What I do like is the atmosphere, the hanging ladies and the snow! Euphoria!
Angus: This is a complete car crash. I am all for getting in touch with my spiritual side but this feels totally contrived. The overpowering pre-recorded backing says it all. Jon is there to look cute and look bemused as the song goes on around him. There’s no reason anyone should be putting this near the top because it will not go to Eurovision. #sorrynotsorry.
Sami: I really don’t get the hype of this song. Yeah, Jon Henrik is talented but I think most people can do that. You don’t really hear the Swedish words, which makes the song even messier. The performance is also weird and I don’t understand why there’s the dancers and the ghosts. I believe this would get stuck in the semi-final if Sweden send this to Eurovision.
Padraig: Sweden may have sent home Elsa (Annika Herlitz), but at least they’ve seen some sense and kept on Kristoff. Because this is brilliant! I’m instantly transported to some far flung Sami territory and never want to leave. Sure the lyrics may be somewhat lacking in variety, but the rousing chants and instrumentals more than make up for them. Just one negative – ditch the floating banshees!
Wiwi Jury Average: 6.05/10
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Photo Credit: Mikael Andersson (Dala-Demokraten)