Guide to Melodifestivalen 2014, Week 2

Last week, as I watched the first semifinal of Sweden’s epic Melodifestivalen, the six-week miniseries that chooses the Nordic nation’s entry for ESC, I live-blogged the goingson on my Facebook timeline.  In years past, I generally waited until the show was over to join in on social media, since my computer was busy feeding the show’s internet stream to my TV.  But this year I just used my trusty Android phone to connect to Facebook (this week I will probably make it even easier by logging in on my laptop while I sit in front of my TV).

Melodifestivalen2014

Anyway, several Facebook friends commented about how interesting my running commentary was, even though they had little idea what I was writing about.  So to encourage them and more of you to get in on the fun, here is a pre-show cheat sheet to get to know the participants in Deltävling 2 tomorrow from Linköping.

The big question for tomorrow is whether the song that journalists and bloggers on site in Sweden have called a potential Eurovision winner will breeze through to the finals, or possibly shock the world by landing in the Andra Chansen “second chance” round.  Sanna Nielsen is Sweden’s girl next door, and has never missed making the finals in her previous six appearances in MF.  She is a very gifted singer, and very beautiful, but in the past has suffered from being dependable and not surprising or edgy in any way.  This year’s entry from her old friend, composer Frederick Kempe, is said to be his and her best work to date.  Here is Sanna’s best showing up to now, 2008’s first runnerup “Empty Room”:

The other big name this week is Martin Stenmarck, who already represented Sweden in 2005 with “Las Vegas”.  That entry underperformed in Kyiv, and Martin lived down the shame by changing direction, becoming a master of big rock ballads in Swedish, and ritually staking out his new path when he shaved his head during the video for his breakout single “Sjumilakliv”.  His entry this year is a huge ballad with choral backing, written by Alexander Bard of BWO and Marcus Öhrn of Gravitonas. Here is “Sjumilakliv”:

JEM are a pop/rap band that was formed during Sweden’s X-Factor in 2012.  Their entry this year is described as a pure fun party song reminiscent of the Black Eyed Peas.  Here they perform their previous single “Zoom”:

Panetoz are a dance/hiphop/reggaeton group massively popular with young listeners in Sweden:

Manda Nilsenius was also an X-Factor discovery. Her MF entry is probably out of the running, although it is described as pretty Taylor Swift / Katy Perry pop, and the staging will be striking. Here she sings “Sweetest Heartbreak”:

The Refreshments are a rockabilly dansband that has a huge following with an older and rural crowd around Sweden.  Unapologetically corny, they shouldn’t be counted out of the scoring for this week:

The two other entries this week should also be fun to watch.  Pink Pistols are two gay male singers from the campy dance music band Straight Up, paired with two drag performers from the cabaret group After Dark.  Here is Straight Up’s earlier single, “Family”:

And Little Great Things have the next generation of a Swedish royal family of pop music.  The grandsons of Abba’s Benny Andersson (and sons of pop star Nanne Grönvall) lead the teen emo-pop group, who shouldn’t be counted out of the running Saturday:

So there you have a look at the eight acts in the running for this second semifinal. #JoinUs and watch the live stream of the show Saturday at 11am in the morning Pacific Time from svt.se/melodifestivalen .

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