For the third year in a row, Melodifestivalen 2017 returns to Malmö for its second heat. We’ve already seen Ace Wilder and Nano make it straight to the final, but who will join them this week? Once again, SVT will publish 30 second rehearsal clips throughout the day, as well as a minute of each song.
Unlike last week, the newcomers outnumber the returning stars in Malmö. Roger Pontare makes his return to competing at Melodifestivalen for the first time in 11 years. Also returning are former finalists, Mariette and Lisa Ajax — who pushes the boundaries with the lyrics to her song, “I Don’t Give A”.
For scheduling reasons, Etzia rehearsed first this morning, despite being third in the running order. The rest of the rehearsals were done in the correct order.
Melodifestivalen 2017: Deltävling 2 Malmö
1. Mariette – “A Million Years”
Chris: Her dancers may be on bungee cords, but Mariette isn’t in free fall. “A Million Years” builds throughout the minute we’ve heard, guided as ever by Mariette’s vocal. She might not have competed in 2016, but the year out clearly hasn’t done her any harm. It’s very early to call her an overall contender, but there’s reason enough to believe this could be a hit.
William: She’ll never give up, she’ll never back down — and this song is proof of that. The snippet sounds expensive and sleek, qualities that give edgy Mariette a decidedly mainstream appeal. Her voice has a vulnerable quality and the light instrumentation and contemporary electronic sounds give it extra strength while retaining its fragility. The chorus is anthemic and inspiring. Assuming it builds to an even higher pay-off, this is a real contender. This is how you open a show.
2. Roger Pontare – “Himmel och hav”
Chris: This feels considerably more atmospheric than I’d expect from Pontare. The power of “Spirits Are Calling My Name” and “Silverland” has passed in to something much more gentle. Maybe the song will build to something more impactful, because at the moment I feel this one may just pass me by on Saturday night.
William: The opening channels Enya or one of those sexy sirens from Greek mythology, and Roger keeps the drama coming with his stirring voice and a very heavy drum. The tribal, larger-than-life sound wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to Pocahontas or Thor — and it would definitely be enough to keep the audience enraptured. Assuming he builds upward rather than nodding to the horrific pop-drop trend of 2016, this could be a huge surprise. This is an older artist schooling the young ones on how to be epic.
3. Etzia — “Up”
Chris: It feels like I could have predicted Etzia performing a song in this ilk from miles off. Rollerbladers on stage doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence — they would often be seen as a sign of doom for any act on X Factor. That being said, Etzia sounds good and I think Andra Chansen isn’t out of reach.
William: I love it when a beautiful woman sounds like a man — especially when she serves feel-good Calypso drum realness! “Up” is instantly likeable, warm and inviting and the tropical flair makes it stand out instantly. Songs like this can breeze by — but they can also get old very quickly. Etzia’s delivery will make all the difference.
4. Allyawan — “Vart haru varit”
Chris: Oh. Swedish hip-hop…again. At least Allyawan’s staging doesn’t seem as bizarre as Adrijana’s was last weekend. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t work for me anywhere near as much as “Amare” did, which was a low baseline anyway. Allyawan seems destined to be out this week, especially with his competition stepping up.
William: Understanding the lyrics is a pre-requisite for enjoying hip-hop — so much of the entertainment comes from clever word play and meaning. That may explain why I connect with exactly nothing in this song, which also lacks a compelling melody, any kind of shape and interesting instrumentation. I know it’s just a snippet, but as for now it’s a big no from me.
5. Dismissed — “Hearts Align”
Chris: Dismissed own who they are and with “Hearts Align” really are proving that looks can be deceiving. It does feel like a very early 00’s rock track — perhaps not too unsurprising with Ola Salo behind it — but at least it’s a good throwback. Sweden have reacted well to songs like this before, so I’m not putting anything past this.
William: Their look is totally outré. But these androgynous glam rockers prove they have plenty of mainstream tricks up their sleeve, as this pop-rock entry is giving me life! It’s instantly catchy, falls on the ears easily, and sounds decidedly vintage rather than dated. One request: Please avoid the stereotypical red lights Melfest reserves for rock entries.
6. Lisa Ajax — “I Don’t Give A”
Chris: This just confuses me. Lisa’s voice is great and the “I Don’t Give A” hook works by itself. But then the unnecessary f-bomb gets dropped (and will be throughout the song, too). It feels like a Disney star who’s trying to branch out from her previous work. Just such an odd choice and I don’t know why they’ve gone down this route. It doesn’t ruin the song in the moment, but on repeat I feel it’ll be lacking.
William: Glam girl goes gospel! Lisa is serving power and musicality with this piano-heavy love song that shows off her range, soul and grit. When she drops the F-bomb she drops it with style — it’s somehow soft and beautiful. F*ck what the haters say — you slay!
Check out the “I Don’t Give A” lyrics
7. Benjamin Ingrosso — “Good Lovin'”
Chris: It’s nothing new or out of this world, but “Good Lovin'” is a well produced pop song by a charismatic, likeable singer. For many reasons, that should tick quite a few boxes of a Melodifestivalen finalist. Perhaps the lack of originality may hurt Benjamin a little bit, but I’d be shocked already at this stage if he wasn’t at the Friends Arena.
William: That voice is pure sex — sign me up! Going by the studio snippet alone, this could go one of two ways: It’s either going to take us higher and make my head explode or it’s going to slip into schmaltz and sleaze, resulting in a rather cheap trainwreck. Judging by the clip, I’m worried it’s the latter.
(Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT)
What are your thoughts on each song? Do you think there’s a real standout amongst them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!