Tonight, during Semi-Final 3 of Melodifestivalen 2016, we saw drag queens change costumes, a Swedish Idol winner sing-it-out in front of what looked like toilet paper, and a Tanzanian-Swede working it waka-waka style. But in that haze of pyrotechnics, stage lights and sequins, Oscar Zia (“Human”) and Lisa Ajax (“My Heart Wants Me Dead”) have emerged as the winners, qualifying direkt till final. Two other acts — SaRaha (“Kizunguzungu”) and Boris René (“Put Your Love on Me”) may join them in the March 12 final, as they’ve been relegated to Andra Chansen (Second Chance).
Melodifestivalen 2016: Deltävling 3, Norrköping
Semi Final 3 Winners: Direkt till final
Oscar Zia with “Human”
“Human” marks a total shift in direction for Oscar and it really works. He sang with conviction, which also came through in his dramatic facial expressions and body thrusts. The staging consisted of him in all-black standing before an LED of dark clouds. The camera shots were jerky and strobes gave the effect of lightning. It was all very mysterious, sinister and atmospheric — really more of a performance art piece than a three-minute pop act. This had a “dirty” sound — and I mean that in the kindest way. The real standout of this semi-final.
— wiwibloggs (@wiwibloggs) February 20, 2016
Lisa Ajax with “My Heart Wants Me Dead”
This started off with some major Middle Eastern flair, but sadly that feeling dissipated and I was left with something rather generic and uninspiring. The repetition of “every day, every day” was a bit grating and the staging looked incredibly cheap. The smoke overwhelmed the stage to the point I was like, “Where is Lisa?” The song itself sounds very Junior Eurovision and it doesn’t really showcase Lisa’s amazing voice. Sweden obviously responded to this — and perhaps her wave of momentum from Swedish Idol. Fair enough: She outshone most in this rather weak semi.
ZaRaha with “Kizunguzungu”
This gave us major “Waka Waka” vibes — and we love Shakira! But unlike the Venezuelan in South Africa, this felt so much more real owing to SaRaha’s deep connection with Tanzania. The gorgeous costumes really popped against the simple lighting scheme and the high-energy dancing kept this moving. The song started to drag about halfway through, but a good ole ESC key change brought it back. A nice debut from this blonde beauty. And please: Don’t call her Stella Mwangi!
Boris Réne with “Put Your Love on Me”
Boris had more charisma and stage presence than all of the acts that preceded him put together. Producers clearly didn’t give him much cash — he had dancers in street clothes getting their swerve on — but he didn’t need it. His swagger and attitude more than filled the stage. His vocals were a little weak and exposed in the bridge, but he’s so darn likeable I’m willing to forget that. “If I go down will you go down with me” he asks? Absolutely!
SMILO with “Weight of the World”
These newbies wanted to throw it down David Guetta style but came off a bit too amateur. As wildcards they were rightly excited about their Melfest debut, but their inexperience really showed. I kept getting the sense of “Look mom I’m on TV!”, particularly from the two guys at the DJ booth. Also: Dodgy vocals. It’s a huge improvement over their number from Svensktoppen Nasta, which was a tad naff, so well done for the reboot.
Swingfly feat. Helena Gutarra with “You Carved Your Name”
Totally disappointed by this following the high that was Swingfly’s 2011 entry “Me and My Drum.” The staging looked random and cheap, with dancers wearing very basic street clothes. Where is the glamour?! In his video postcard Swingfly said, “I’m kind of crazy on stage — I do what I feel.” But that madness didn’t really come through. Helena’s vocal sections were fantastic. She has such a unique timbre that works well with electronic music. Would love to see her come back as a solo act — or at least with a rejuvenated Swingfly.
After Dark with “Kom ut som en stjärna”
Sorry, not even the showgirl feathers and a costume change from tacky pink dress to tackier white one can save this. After Dark is fun — she is clearly very good at her genre. Sadly that genre is too old-fashioned for my liking. The staging — massive letters that illuminated — worked surprisingly well. It’s just a shame the voice and the rest of the act didn’t seem as sizeable.
Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT