Making a comeback in the same week as another Swedish Eurovision representative Loreen, who won it, when you’re notably the only ever Swedish entrant not to make it to the final is a bold move. But one listen to the song and it’s clear that this whole comeback is bold. There’s none of the wispy acoustic guitar stuff that Anna showed us in 2010 in Oslo (although we rather liked it). This is a powerful, electronic feminist anthem that gets us slightly giddy with inspiration. The lyrics pull no punches: “Can we talk about it? The fact that I’m a pain when I question the norm. The fact that your paycheque is always bigger than mine. The fact that I’m a slut when I’m taking you home and a prude when I don’t. How you hate it when I’m taking care of business.” It’s matched with urgent beats and flurries which only get more urgent as each new layer comes in. This is a real attention-grabbing, brilliant song that would sit perfectly on Jenny Wilson’s recent highly political Demand the Impossible album, and, we have to say, out of the two Swedish Eurovision comebacks this week, we know which one we vastly prefer.
Four long weeks ago, Swedish broadcaster SVT set out on its mission to find a song to send to Eurovision. Melodifestivalen is the TV event of the year in Sweden, with 28 songs battling it out across four weeks of preliminary rounds, before a second chance round for the songs that didn’t quite make it the first time (Andra Chansen) and, finally, the final, to be held this year on 14 March in Friends Arena in Stockholm.
It’s a massively entertaining show but, of course, the song quality varies. Of those 28 songs, a large number were guff that we think you don’t need to waste your time with. But, as you’d expect from the land with pop music running through its veins, there were also some absolute corkers. And here they are.
First up we have Midnight Boy, with his song Don’t Say No, which criminally came last in its heat. It’s a deliciously camp Eighties throwback that more than slightly resembles the Pet Shop Boys and Dead or Alive, but is utterly thrilling in its own right. Midnight Boy is pretty new to the scene so we hope the result doesn’t stall his fledgling career – although the song does seem to be faring far better in the charts than it did in the contest.
Finding more success was Isa, who went straight to the final with Don’t Stop. It was probably written before the world heard Shake It Off, but the similarities are striking. Not that that’s a bad thing. This won’t win the competition, but it could have launched a great new popstar.
Mariette also went straight to the final with the dramatic mid-tempo number Don’t Stop Believing. This was mooted as a potential winner and would be a very good choice, but the buzz seems to have faded. The presentation is strikingly modern, not a million miles away from the same aesthetic Loreen had with Euphoria back in 2012.
Sadly, live vocals are pretty important when it comes to these things, and they’re not the strong point of Dinah Nah, but her song Make Me (La La La) is a massive banger that virtually reeks of poppers. It’s modern and cool and recalls Ace Wilder’s brilliant runner up Busy Doin’ Nothin’ last year. She made it to the final through Andra Chansen and this is this year’s cool entry that actually sounds like stuff you hear in the charts. Whichever way it goes on Saturday night, we’ll be keeping an eye on this lady in the future. (Although the video is *a little* bit like a Romanian Eurovision entry.)
They’re our top four, but not the only highlights. You should also check out Molly Pettersson Hammar‘s powerful potential chart smash I’ll Be Fine, Magnus Carlsson‘s enthusiastic and very catchy schlager Möt mig i Gamla Stan, Kristin Amparo‘s sorrowful Adele-style ballad I See You (which should definitely have made it to the final), Caroline Wennergren‘s jazzy soul number Black Swan and the two big hitters, and favourites to battle it out for victory (alongside a Sami entry that’s just a bit of a cheesfest to non-Swedes): Eric Saade with Sting (generic but competent dance pop) and Måns Zelmerlöw with Heroes (generic but competent dance pop that rips off David Guetta something chronic). Both boys are super pretty and have a large army of teen fans who will be voting their little fingers off, but expect Måns to snatch victory.
But for heaven’s sake, whatever you do, don’t listen to Groupie.
2014 is over and by now you’ll have read dozens of end-of-year lists, but you can never have too much of a good thing, so here is our selection of the best songs of 2014 from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Have a very happy new year, one and all.
Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin‘ This Melodifestivalen runner up would have been a pan-European hit had it won.
Alina Devecerski – Armé It must be hard to follow up her monster hit Flytta På Dej, but this is pretty rousing nonetheless.
Beatrice Eli – Moment of Clarity We could include almost every track from Die Another Day, but this is probably the highlight.
Elliphant – Revolusion Brilliant fringed hat (and song).
Elliphant feat MØ – One More A moving tale of female friendship (part 1).
Erik Hassle – Pathetic Again, we could include any song from Erik’s brilliant Somebody’s Party EP.
Frida Sundemo – For You, Love Frida’s Lit Up By Neon EP contained several gems, but she shines best when she’s at her most fragile.
iamamiwhoami – Fountain Phenomenal single followed phenomenal single from Jonna Lee’s project in 2014, but the one that started it all had us at our most excited.
Jennie Abrahamson – Wolf Old news in Sweden but heading into 2015 on the back of a Peter Gabriel support slot and the launch of her Gemini Gemini album in Europe, this is the album’s highlight.
Ji Nilsson & Marlene – Love You Anyway A moving tale of female friendship (part 2) and our most listened to song of 2014.
Kate Boy – Self Control Basically, their long-awaited album should be amazing.
Kleerup feat. Susanne Sundfør – Let Me In This sounds a bit like ABBA and is very, very good.
The Knife – För alla namn vi inte får använda A single from The Knife’s Europa Europa cabaret. Please don’t leave us, The Knife.
Little Jinder – Vita Bergens Klockor Slightly indecipherable to non-Swedes (The White Mountains’ Clocks?) but we sing along anyway.
MØ – Walk This Way One of many brilliant songs from one of the most exciting artists of the last couple of years.
Röyksopp & Robyn – Monument A ten-minute electro-jazz epic that is amongst the best work that either of them has ever done.
Seinabo Sey – Younger With any justice, 2015 will be Seinabo’s year, and not just in Sweden where she already features on a stamp.
Tove Lo – Timebomb Habits was technically 2013, so this just pipped Out Of Mind as our favourite Tove song in 2014.
Tove Styrke – Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You Our second favourite Tove came back with an absolute belter.
Zhala – Prophet Slightly bonkers song from Robyn’s first signing.
Now you can listen to all the tracks which are currently available on UK Spotify in this handy link.