The wait is over — Melodifestivalen 2017 has begun. The first semi final of Melfest takes place this Saturday in Gothenberg. Of course, Sweden’s SVT are in full teasing mode ahead of the show, and today released 30-second rehearsal snippets along with one-minute studio samples. As they tease we can’t help but think Melodifestivalen 2017 is going to be very strong!
Taking part in this week’s heat are a who’s who of Melfest veterans. Boris René kicks off the proceedings, alongside the likes of Eurovision 1999 winner Charlotte Perrelli and former Melfest runner-up Ace Wilder.
Melodifestivalen 2017: Deltävling 1 Gothenburg
1. Boris René – “Her Kiss”
Chris: There’s only flashes of it, but you can tell just how grand the stage is this year. “Her Kiss” has a definite throwback, retro vibe to it. The chorus in the rehearsal clip doesn’t grab me as much as Boris’ effort last year. That being said, the opening verse does connect with me. The song promises to have a lot more of a routine to it though, so it might work better in full.
William: He tells us she’s “got the sunshine”, but I’m not really feeling the heat. This is so retro it’s dated. I appreciate his charisma and the on-point choreography, but I’m not convinced that’ll be enough to pull him through this intense semi-final. Wuh-oh, wuh-oh….
2. Adrijana – “Amare”
Chris: This is pretty much exactly what I expected from Adrijana, based on her previous releases. Swedish rap has been attempted before at Melfest with muted success, though. Although if you wanted a like-for-like comparison, I already prefer this to “Rik” from last year. The staging seems a little odd, however, especially given that it’s supposedly a “love song”. Ballerinas in darkness doesn’t give me the feels.
William: Move over Sia and hello Adrijana! “Amare” rides the dirty pop wave beautifully and features a stirring, somehow inspirational chorus. Adrijana clearly has sass in spades and she manages to make the Swedish language sound mysterious and intoxicating. A new face — and clearly a good one!
3. Dinah Nah — “One More Night”
Chris: I wanted Dinah to send me to the dancefloor and she delivers. There’s hints at a subtle evolution from “Make Me”, showing her growth as an artist. This, for me, is going to be where the semi final really starts. Although maybe they should lose the Dolly Style pastel wigs from the backing dancers…
William: Dinah is like an expensive construction worker in Tokyo. In this first minute she lays the foundation for a house that will, no doubt, experience an earthquake during the chorus. I get the feeling it will be epic, memorable and just a little unhinged — judging from all her backing dancers with brightly-coloured wigs. Open that can of crazy and let’s drink!
4. De Vet Du — “Road Trip”
William: They’ve cultivated a massive YouTube following with their witty lyrics and undeniable sex appeal. And while the latter is on full display, it’s hard for me as a non-Swede to judge whether this is actually amusing. Musically this doesn’t live up to their more seasoned rivals — they are the David in a sea of pop Goliaths. But given their momentum in Sweden maybe this off-kilter performance will be enough to get them to the Second Chance round.
Chris: As expected, De Vet Du slot perfectly in to the spot vacated by Samir & Viktor and Sean Banan before them. With both acts, obviously staging was key, something DVD seem to have taken on board. So far though, it seems underwhelming. Road traffic signs and a topless DJ Hunk doesn’t seem enough to make the humour work to a wider audience, unlike their predecessors’ efforts.
5. Charlotte Perrelli — “Mitt liv”
William: Well that was disappointing! Charlotte re-established herself as the Queen of Schlager with her Schlager Diva routine during last year’s final. But now she’s swerving toward the serious and it’s a total downer! Yes, she’s got a lovely voice and her Swedish is on point. But it’s leaving me feeling as empty as her chances of advancing direkt till final. It’s a no from me.
Chris: Charlotte said she was going to do this one “for herself”. Lo and behold, she’s doing it for last place. This is so out of place for Melodifestivalen 2017 that it’s untrue. It’s a lovely melody, Charlotte’s vocals are lovely, but “lovely” does not motivate people to tap their app.
6. Ace Wilder — “Wild Child”
William: It’s as if Ace has taken a slice of Icona Pop and put it through the same machine that produced Emmelie de Forest’s “Rainmaker”. The mix of warehouse, EDM and tropical house is refreshing, but as of now I’m not finding any WOW moment. Ace knows how to slay a chorus, so I’m going to keep the faith that one is coming. But as for now I’m slightly underwhelmed.
Chris: The more I hear “Wild Child”, the more it screams “album track” than “Melfest winner”. Ace’s problem, perhaps, is that everything will always be compared to “Busy Doin’ Nothin'”. This just doesn’t compare. The chorus may be catchy on repeat listens, but the verses are a little too harsh in this snippet.
7. Nano — “Hold On”
William: Nano has this on lock down. His voice is melodic and soulful and you get the sense that this former prisoner turned father is drawing from some very deep and dark experiences. The choir in the chorus coupled with the swell in production and tempo really suck you up into the chorus — and now I’m DYING to hear it. I think we have our SF1 winner.
Keep checking back for more rehearsals and reviews throughout the day
(Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT)