Anna Bergendahl – Kingdom Come

Tim: Sweden chose its Eurovision entry last Saturday; as tradition dictates, let’s spend the week seeing what they could have had instead, starting with this TRIUMPH (although sadly not an actual triumph).

Tom: It’s time for the Week of Rejects!

Tim: WHAT A SONG, and to be honest I’m almost surprised it came as high as it did, because it’s the sort of song that I love, Swedish folk are okay with and juries slate (pretty much like her song last year, in fact).

Tom: It’s solid, isn’t it? It feels almost like a Eurovision song from a few years back.

Tim: But nope, in the end it came fourth with both and third overall, maths is great isn’t it?

Tom: That makes sense, if there were songs above it that divided public and juries a lot more. Melodifestivalen selections have to at least satisfy both.

Tim: And that, I think, is pretty much exactly where it should have come – the lyrics are powerful, the music is BANGING but it is alas probably not a Eurovision song right now, and we really really don’t want a repeat of ten years ago when she became the only Swede in history not to qualify.

Tom: You’re right: these days something like this stands a fair chance of dropping out in the semis.

Tim: As for the staging, it was kept to a minimum all round this year – I think there was some reason given, but was almost certainly nonsense – but Anna made good use of what was available, with flashing lights and magically appearing dancers, and who’d say no to that?

Anna Bergendahl – Speak Love

“Country is basically schlager, just with different instruments and more pickup trucks.”

Tim: Bits of yesterday’s track reminded me of Avicii; here’s a country opening for you that’s right out of his playbook.

Tim: Not quite as hefty later on, of course, but as country tracks go it’s still a RIGHT ON BANGER, and one I’ve happily played several times now and not got even slightly bored of.

Tom: Country is basically schlager, just with different instruments and more pickup trucks. Which is why I’m surprised that you always seem to write it off as a genre. This isn’t full-on American country, of course, but it’s certainly on those lines. And you like it!

Tim: The melody, the vocal, the energy, the everything, it’s there! Right there!

Tom: It’s a bit by-the-numbers, sure, but they are good numbers.

Tim: All flipping marvellous, so BRING IT, Anna, YES, with your walks down memory lane in the pouring rain. They might not be the greatest things, but at least they inspire good songs. Like this.

Anna Bergendahl – Home

“Oh, you’ll see.”

Tim: Starts quiet, but builds. And then builds some more, and keeps building, and…oh, you’ll see.

Tim: Do you see?

Tom: At least partly, after I stopped trying to work out why she didn’t seem to have a left arm in that cover art.

Tim: Do you now, I’d not noticed that – it is a bit odd looking, isn’t it? I’ll confess I wasn’t entirely sold on this throughout the first verse – decent enough, but possibly closer to album track status. The pre-chorus got me interested, though, and then the chorus came in properly with the amazing orchestral backing.

Tom: It’s good! I’m still not sure it’s more than an album track, but I suspect that it’s a grower: after enough radio play it’d be stuck in my head.

Tim: Good. Because after all that, it’s standard good pop song progression, really, because this is very much a good pop song. Very good indeed.

Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes

“Ranking highly amongst the “yes I will seek this out and listen to it a lot” entries.”

Tim: Part of me really wanted this to win so that Anna could go back to Eurovision 9 years later and TRIUMPH, proving all her haters wrong. That didn’t happen, of course, but never mind. They’re still wrong.

Tim: I dismissed this after a minute or so as a competent track but one that would ultimately get buried in Tel Aviv with all the other equally competent pop tracks.

Tom: I’ll grant you that it has a decent chorus, and there’s definitely something to be said for the pop-folk style they’re going for. Not much to be said for those verses, though.

Tim: Well, right. Except, then she walked off the stage and into a nearby forest, and it became slightly less forgettable, and then in the recap clips I realised that by the end, it is actually a right proper banger. It’s too early to say for certain, of course, but it’s ranking highly amongst the “yes I will seek this out and listen to it a lot” entries for me at the moment, because damn if there isn’t a massive amount of energy and joy in that song.

Tom: Even with “ashes to ashes, and dust to dust”. I know what you mean, though. That string-section middle eight really does stand out, now I come to think of it.

Tim: It’s marvellous. And sure, maybe it wouldn’t be great at Eurovision. But that doesn’t mean it’s not great at all.

Anna Bergendahl – Raise The Vibe

“You just know the singer will clap their hands above their head in every single live performance.”

Tim: Hello Tom and welcome back!

Tom: Thanks! I’m just about coping! Let’s talk about music!

Tim: You may (or may not, I’d completely forgotten) that Anna came back earlier this year with a slightly country-esque number with occasional synths; it didn’t chart anywhere but why let that spoil anything?

Tim: And THAT THERE is one of those songs where you just know the singer will clap their hands above their head in every single live performance to get the crowd going along as well.

Tom: I’m not sure, but I think all the drummer has to do, through all the verses, is stomp on the kick drum pedal every beat. Frankly, the crowd clapping along would perk it up a bit.

Tim: In fairness, though, it’s a perfectly decent song to clap along to, and one that does indeed raise the vibe of what might otherwise have been a dull gig. And for that, I’ll take it. Particularly that nice background vocal and drumbeat back from the middle eight. That’s very nice, that bit.

Tom: It is. But I’m not sure the middle eight being very nice is enough to make a barnstorming pop hit.

Anna Bergendahl – Vice

“There’s some proper cowboy-country guitar in the background”

Tim: Anna, perhaps still (sadly) best known for being the only Swede not to qualify for the Eurovision final (though God knows Frans would probably have given her a run for that); she’s had remarkably little activity since then, but now she’s here, with a slight change of genre.

Tom: Blimey, there’s some proper cowboy-country guitar in the background of that, isn’t there?

Tim: And despite wanting to jump in with “I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing” every time the chorus comes around, I like that quite a lot. It does sound a bit dated; I’m not sure how much of that is due to those tinkly synths under the chorus, or if it’s just a general something about it, but it does seem to have a slight Annie Lennox in the early 90s vibe about it.

Tom: I reckon that’s down to the instrumentation — there’s a lot of older styles of synth in there. It’s not a bad choice at all, but then I grew up with sounds like that. Were this a British record, I’d say it’s more aimed at Radio 2.

Tim: I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, but I am struggling to understand it: if you’re going to switch genres, why go for one thirty years old? Not a bad listen, but just a bit mystifying.

Anna Bergendahl – Live and Let Go

She sounds a bit like a lost member of the Corrs.

Tom: Not a kids’ cover of “Live and Let Die”, I’m guessing?

Tim: You guess correctly, and because last week you didn’t remember Greta from this year’s Eurovision, I’ll assume you don’t remember Anna, who represented Sweden in 2010 but (for the first time for Sweden), didn’t qualify for the final.

Tom: I remember thinking she sounds a bit like a lost member of the Corrs.

Tim: Two and a half years later, she’s hoping the Swedes will have forgiven her and has a new track out.

Tim: And it’s…well, it’s even less interesting than the Eurovision one was, disappointingly. It would have been nice if it had been a properly exciting “Hey! Look at me here! Go on, I won Idol in 2008 and Melodifestivalen in 2010! Look, remember how amazing I am?” but it seems it’s not to be.

Tom: She’s basically the Joe McElderry of Sweden, then?

Tim: Erm…yes, that just about stands up as a comparison.

It’s alright, I suppose – it’s a decent ballad, but it never goes anywhere. It’s starts quiet and soulful, and it finishes quiet and soulful. Which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s pleasant enough, and I do like that chorus melody.

Finally (and somehow I’ve only just noticed this), “I’d rather just go” is hardly an appropriate chorus line for a comeback track, is it?