Melodifestivalen 2016 — Sweden’s longest party — has officially started. Earlier today SVT revealed 30-second snippets of the first rehearsals for semi final 1. Seven acts, including Melfest alums Viktor & Samir and Ace Wilder, wiggled and rocked and even worked water fixtures. Below you can read our first impressions from the first semi-final. Who was your favourite?
Melodifestivalen 2016: Deltävling 1 Gothenburg
Samir & Viktor – “Bada nakna”
William: Their song is all about living your life on your own terms — and for them that means skinny dipping in a Stockholm Square. They give that idea life by splishing and splashing inside a shallow pool of water, with some very Jedward-esque water spouts in the background. That looks a bit cheap. But the song itself sounds slightly more expensive than their entry from last year and composer Fredrik Kempe has def upped their game musically. The deep thumping beats and anthemic oh oh oh give me hope this will be a banger with soul. PS: In rehearsals they removed their shirts. Say yay yay yay!
Sami: It was expected that Samir and Viktor would actually bada nakna on stage, which is perhaps a bit much. The song is much worse than “Groupie” (based on this clip anyway) and it sounds really old-fashioned for fresh-faced Samir & Viktor, who do best with the ebullient and playful. It’s a big disappointment and they might have trouble making it to the final with this.
Pernilla Andersson – “Mitt guld”
William: I’m all about sleeping, but I’m not about passing out. This lacks the gentle thrust that made her song “Desperados” one of the most-played tracks on my iPod back in the day. The angelic harpist seems somewhat out of place with the guitar that Pernilla doesn’t seem to play. Perhaps this clip comes from early on in the song and an epic and emotional chorus follows? I’m hoping. Note: Pernilla actually painted that picture of the naked lady with the tiger behind her. Slay, mama!
Sami: Pernilla’s song is very sweet, but also rather drowsy. I’m sure this would be the perfect cure for insomnia (and no, that’s not a reference to Ellen Benediktson)! The lyrics are touching — “I feel your breath on my skin, it must be what they call God” — and you can see that Pernilla has lots of experience. But I’m afraid this will end up dead last in the semifinal.
Mimi Werner – “Ain’t No Good”
William: Ain’t no good? Mimi, darling, this is so good! The Melodifestivalen debutante worked a vintage, 1970s inspired look replete with bell bottoms and a shaggy vest. She’s updated country-disco for 2016 and this oozes attitude and energy. A sea of men twist and twirl around her, but she more than holds her own. Disco numbers can get really repetitive really quickly, so we’ll have to wait and see if she can sustain this excitement for the full three minutes. One of my colleagues messaged to say “100% playback”, but maybe she’s just resting her voice. Could she pull an ISA and be this year’s breakout star? Maybe. But I have a feeling she’s headed to Second Chance.
Sami: Mimi Werner is bringing some country flavour to the contest, and while previous country music numbers haven’t done so well (see Cookies N Beans and Abalone Dots, for example), Mimi actually brings a potential qualifier! We’ve had hundreds of songs about falling for the wrong guy, but Mimi makes it sound current and fresh. The choreography looks great — and extremely well synchronized! You go girl!
Albin & Mattias Andréasson – “Rik”
William: Love it or lump it — English is the lingua franca of hip-hop and rap. So when Albin drops it in Swedish I just cringe. I’m not convinced he has the swagger needed to pull this off and I’m struggling to remember the melody just a few seconds after this finishes. I appreciate their energy and chemistry, but I definitely prefer Mattias in E.M.D. mode, where he was more pop and much more endearing. If this makes it to Andra Chansen it’s only because of Mattias’ reputation. The song itself deserves to be eliminated.
Sami: “Rik” would not do well at Eurovision, but it’s a nice addition to this semifinal. It’s urban, modern and very now. The message is strong and clear: Money is not the key to happiness! Albin and Mattias also seem to have lots of fun on stage and they have great chemistry. It might end up in andra chansen, but I can’t see it heading straight to the final.
Anna Book – “Himmel för två”
William: Anna Book — who looks like the older and slightly fleshier sister of Little Mix star Jesy Nelson — came fifth at Melfest 1986 and ninth in 2007. She will not be bettering those placings. She’s got a strong voice, but it’s wasted on this dated schlager number. She sings about a rainbow built for two, so naturally seeks to blow up the electro magnetic spectrum with lots of flashing lights and a painfully cheesy heart installation. This excerpt already sounds repetitive so I can’t imagine what the full three minutes will feel like. In any event, great energy from a lovely woman.
Sami: En riktig jävla schlager! It’s exactly what we expected from Anna Book — wind machine, absurd choreography and cheesy lyrics! It’s timeless schlager — a genre that always has its fans. Obviously Sweden would never choose something like this, but it never fails to bring a smile to your face.
Robin Bengtsson – “Constellation Prize”
William: The staging is glorious — I’m loving the black-and-gold hues, the platform that twinkles like a constellation and the use of spotlights. But that’s where my enthusiasm ends. The melody isn’t inspiring and the chanting of “you are beautiful” sounds both cheap and monotonous. The harmonica helps break this up — but the fact they’ve had to call on it for that effect says a lot. A disappointing entry from a very competent and talented performer.
Sami: Veteran composer Bobby Ljunggren has penned a song that sounds very 2016. “Constellation Prize” is a feel-good, easy-listening number, but sadly it doesn’t show us Robin’s personality at all. He still sounds — and looks — great, and there’s never too many songs with a harmonica.
Ace Wilder – “Don’t Worry”
William: The choreography slays and the dancers drop it like it’s really hot. Their moves are quirky and slightly frenetic, suggesting that a big chorus is on its way. I certainly hope so: This slice of the song isn’t doing much for me and left me just a tad disappointed. The repetition of “don’t worry it’s alright” has an Old World bossa nova feel, which I’m not really into, but I’m assuming this is just a transition in the song and not a main event. Reports coming out of the Scandinavium have made it clear this number is even louder and dancier than her hit from 2014 so I’m keeping my faith ahead of the full reveal. Ace looks way more confidant than she did on her debut two years ago — look at her droppin’ attitude and playing to the camera. The staging has an Eric Saade 2015 feel with the shadows and spotlights, suggesting producers know Ace is on to a good thing and they’re giving her the budget to do it.
Sami: Melodifestivalen producers have made this semifinal way too easy for Ace. While it took a while for her 2014 entry “Busy Doin’ Nothin'” to achieve its front-page hype, I feel like people will start to like “Don’t Worry” on first listen. The lyrics are playful but they don’t come off as immature, and you could have a field day mining the meaning of her number, which talks about everything from wi-fi to preachers. There’s no way Ace isn’t heading direkt till final.
Photos: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT