The Winner Is… (Heat 3)

Guten tag to the third heat of The Winner Is… ! You’ve sent through two songs each to the second chance round and final by now, but we’re just getting started. It’s time to pick two more. Let’s get to it!

 

 Estonian wunderkind Norman Salumäe is the only artist this year to have performed two songs at any national final. He also had both of his entries end up in The Winner Is…, which is quite the achievement! His first effort was this funky pop-rock number that he performed with his band, August Hunt. Unlike the somewhat happy go lucky music, which is gorgeously layered and quirky, the lyrics detail a man’s breakdown and panic over his empty life and leaves him pleading “where’s the exit?” The performance in Eesti Laul’s first semi final was highly choreographed and sung decently by Salumäe and two band members.

That shaky performance sunk this wonderful song’s ship. It sounds like the update to 2003’s “Eighties Coming Back,” which makes me really like it. The bizarre mixture of the electro chorus with funk elements in the verses was handled so well and the resulting energy is unlike anything else Eesti Laul threw up in 2014. I really like everything about this, aside from the over-choreographed and awkward performance. It really should’ve qualified.

Live: 7 | Staging: 4 | Lyrics: 9 | Music: 9 | Preference: 17

Total: 9.45 pts.

 

 From a song about losing one’s mind, we now proceed to the homewrecker, Mikko Pohjola. “Sängyn reunalla” details Pohjola’s internal struggle about having an affair with a married woman. The lyrics are vivid and detailed, setting the scene perfectly; I can picture this being sung at dusk as the last few rays of light shine through a linen-covered window onto a rustic and empty bedroom, with grey wood furniture and a crisp, white, worn-out bed. When a song can do that, it’s something special. Musically, it’s a tad derivative but it thankfully pulled from great source material. Think “Dansevise” and other similar dramatic dark acoustic ballads. It’s dramatic and simple at the same time and it helps to enhance the atmosphere of the song greatly.

While the song might be a contender for top of the year, the performance isn’t. The addition of the slightly shrill female backing singer didn’t help the song at all and in fact damaged it, since it drove one’s attention back to Pohjola’s surprisingly distant performance; there wasn’t enough emotion in his voice to carry the song. Thankfully they got the staging almost perfect, right down to the outfits, and aside from a few too many wide shots it would’ve been 10-worthy. Nevertheless, this was a worthy silver medalist in the insanely awesome UMK 2014.

Live: 5 | Staging: 8 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 9 | Preference: 18

Total: 10.2 pts.

 

The breakout acoustic star of Melodifestivalen might’ve been Ellen Benediktson but the real queen was CajsaStina Åkersröm, who brought one of the year’s most peaceful songs. This folksy hymn grows perfectly on the back of a cello and acoustic guitar, culminating in a chill-inducing final chorus. Lyrically, it’s the story of an old singer who’s traveled the world and brought happiness to others with songs for “broken hearts that no longer burn,” yet failed to give her heart to anyone, travelling in “blue overnight desolation.” Despite that, she’s fulfilled by her life’s work and makes each loving “hand a home.” CajsaStina gave an understated performance in the third and best semi-final of Melodifestivalen, complete with a dark arena and pocket lights.

I might’ve raved about Martin in the first post but CajsaStina poses a strong challenge. “En enkel sång” passed me up during Melfest’s live run but I fell head over heels in love with it after the fact. It might be my favorite lyrical effort this year, especially with the line “stars fall as ice crystals in blue overnight desolation.” I could do a whole dissection of the lyrics and why I find them so incredible but for the sake of brevity, I’ll leave at “I love them” for now. The stunning beauty of such an aptly simple song is astounding. Sadly, it just didn’t translate to the stage well. CajsaStina was too restrained in her delivery and the true impact of the song wasn’t shown to the Swedish audience. Also, while the lights were a smart move, the falling glitter and cheesy overlays of the earth killed the performance’s vibe a bit. Thankfully, the song was strong enough to overcome that.

Live: 9 | Staging: 8 | Lyrics: 10 | Music: 10 | Preference: 19

Total: 11.25 pts.

 

 EKO were automatically granted the eighth place finish from the second spot in the third Melodifestivalen semifinal when they won Svenkstoppen Nästa. And like most Swedish wildcards, their 9,000-ish televotes were only a fraction of what they deserved. Inspired by the best of 80s synth-pop, “Red” is a bubbling yet serious number with tribal touches, delivered expertly by lead singer Anna Lidman. The lyrics honestly don’t make much sense to me so I can’t comment on their meaning but I will say that they fit the atmosphere of the music perfectly. Visually, EKO had a simple set up, with the two instrumentalists behind keyboards and synths while Lidman was left at center stage to command attention with her charm and voice.

For some reason, I thought that this would be the year where a Melfest wildcard surprised everyone and qualified to something. It especially stung since EKO had such great charisma on stage; Lidman’s vocals were brimming with character and her wonderfully playful gestures on stage made for one of the most intriguing and genuine Melodifestivalen performances. The song is just my style, as its electro goodness nestled into my heart in no time flat. Musically, it was layered to perfection with an excellent amount of ethnicity thrown in for good measure. It’s a damn shame this didn’t progress further and its failure and subsequent peak at #3 on the Swedish iTunes charts proved that Melodifestivalen was in trouble this year. Good for them.

Live: 9 | Staging: 7 | Lyrics: 6 | Music: 9 | Preference: 19

Total: 10.35 pts.

And that’s a wrap! It was a Swedish sweep for me this time, as the two wronged entries from Melfest’s third semi got their revenge. But enough about me, were you moved by Mikko Pohjola’s ballad or did August Hunt make you dance? Were you also won over by CajsaStina’s storytelling or was EKO’s retro sound more up your alley? Vote for your favorite below and watch out for the results of The Winner Is…!

Peace,

-Nick

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Posted in Eurovision, Personal Stuff, The Winner Is...
10 comments on “The Winner Is… (Heat 3)
  1. Shevek says:

    I voted for the Finnish song. This heat is very strong. Nick, I hope I have not missed any of the previous heats. There is so much stuff happening atm.

    • Nick P. says:

      Thanks for your vote. 🙂

      I agree but the nature of the competition makes every heat strong. I do think that this one will split support quite a bit. I’ve seen decent supporters for each song, aside from CajsaStina *sob*.

      There have been two heats but if you go to the homepage, the latest results article should be right below this one. You can catch up there. 🙂 This is the busy season, so I understand.

    • Shevek says:

      You’re welcome. 🙂

  2. Eulenspiegel says:

    Incredibly tough to choose between Mikko and Cajsa-Stina (and the two other songs were pretty close too). I had to flip a coin to make up my mind. 😛

    • Nick P. says:

      Yay, another CajsaStina fan! What did your coin choose? 😉

      • Eulenspiegel says:

        I’ve been a Cajsa-Stina fan since 2005. 🙂

        The coin wanted her too. 😉

        • Nick P. says:

          She seems to have quite a career behind her. Am I wrong in assuming this?

          And I like that coin. I like it a lot. 😛

          • Eulenspiegel says:

            Her father, Fred Åkerström, was a very famous and popular folk ballad singer, belonging to the far-left music scene in the 70’s. It surprises me therefore that she said she’s been following MF since she was a child, considering how despised the whole show was among those kind of musicians her dad was a part of.

            She had a huge hit in the 90’s with “Fråga stjärnorna”. Back then, she was more of a pop singer, and after some years in absence, she returned in the early 00’s, now doing the same kind of Swedish “visa” music her dad once did. So yes, she’s been having a good career which has sort of faded the last years. She is still frequently played on the AC radio stations, though.

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