Melodifestivalen (Sweden) 2022 Reviews: Semi-Final 1

So, I’ll be honest: in the past I only followed smaller national finals closely, and tuned in to the bigger ones like Melodifestivalen in the week before the final. The quirky voting rules and so on are all new to me, so imagine my surprise when I realised I wouldn’t be able to review the two qualifiers from this round (Cornelia Jakobs and Robin Bengtsson) because there’s an embargo on them releasing the full track until closer to the final. Instead, I’ll look at the three songs which are definitely out of the contest, and then the two which head off to semi-final 5 (previously the second chance round) for one last shot at a place in the final.

Malou Prytz — “Bananas”
Given the excitement around the 18 year-old Prytz these last couple of years after her debut at Melodifestivalen 2019, her opening line “I should be the winner but I’m lazy” rings a little too true when it comes to this song. Perhaps it’s a commentary on her public image in the same vein as Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” (I don’t follow Swedish pop culture enough to know either way), but the song itself is over-the-top to the point of absurdity. There’s something about the quasi-rock backing track, the big “wooooooos” and the general vibe that feels a bit cheap to me.

Shirley Clamp — “Let There Be Angels”
Don’t have a huge amount to say about this — it’s a competent ballad. Clamp sings well; the music is appropriate to the upbeat, hopeful lyrics. There’s not much I can connect to though, so now that I’ve listened to it a few times I’m ready to move on.

Omar Rudberg — “Moving Like That”
So, I guess Justin Timberlake’s appearance at the 2016 contest in Stockholm had quite an influence on the local music scene! I’m still not sure to what extent Rudberg is switching between English and Swedish(?) in the verses, or if his enunciation could do with some improvement, but I’ll assume the former. Either way, this is a slick, catchy song which gets a boost from Rudberg’s natural charisma and stage presence. He seems to have a strong fanbase, but they couldn’t save what was ultimately a fairly basic ECM track.

Danne Stråhed — “Hallabaloo”
Does this qualify as old school schlager? It certainly seems to tick a few boxes. I can see why this is going to get a second chance, as it’s different enough from the others in this semi that it might have garnered support from older voters. There’s something to be said for a band simply getting on stage and performing their song without complex choreography or fancy lighting.

Theoz — “Som du vill”
If I had to point to a stereotypical Swedish pop song, I’d probably go for something like this. Upbeat, well-produced, catchy. For some reason I’m reminded of “Vil ha dig” (probably the KEiiNO version). I guess there is a 1990s vibe about this. My issue with it is that there’s way too much repetition, which leaves me distracted in the 45 seconds when it’s clear that we’re not going to hear anything new.