Saturday Reject: Dead by April – Mystery

Keep the drummer in a metal cage.

Tim: This year, Melodifestivalen had two metal entrants. There was Dynazty with Land of Broken Dreams, which was to all intents and purposes a schlager song dressed up with heavy instruments. Very much worth a listen, but for a review you can pretty much head back to last year’s review of Nicke Borg, because it fulfils a fairly similar role – a song that’ll appeal to mainstream people and will be described by the fans as ‘selling out’, and as far as I’m concerned is very enjoyable.

Then there’s this.

Tom: Sure, keep the drummer in a metal cage. Just in case he’s a bit too visible.

Tim: Well, this is about the singers. We don’t want the instrument players getting aspirations above their stations now, do we?

Tim: This song was in the first heat, and (possibly due to the low quality of that week) got further in the competition than Dynazty did, which I think is a shame as I enjoyed that track a lot. This, I’m not sure about. The unintelligible screaming, I hate. I can’t wait for it to finish every time it starts and I wish I could get rid of the bloke in the baseball cap entirely.

Tom: Ah, but that’s how you do “Proper Metal Vocals”, isn’t it? Growl unintelligible vocals from your diaphragm.

Tim: It is, yes – but the other singing, though? I think it’s great. You can hear the key change coming a mile off, for starters, and that’s often an indication of great pop, which the decent stuff actually is – change the backing and it could be sung by any Charlotte Perrelli or Linda Bengtzing who cares to jump up on stage, really.

Tom: Which means it sits in an uncomfortable position – not a schlager song, not really a metal song. I’m surprised it got as far as it did – it’s not Lordi, after all.

Tim: Well, if you did replace it with a female singer and kept the screamy bit, you’d end up with something not unlike the closing part of the Casablanca/Malena Ernman collaboration from two years ago, which actually ended up being pretty brilliant, so that might explain it.

Tom: Casablanca’s lead singer isn’t metal-screaming there, though; it’s not that death-growl. That death-growl’s an acquired taste: for every person who goes ‘yes, proper metal in Eurovision!’ there’ll be two who go ‘ooh what’s wrong with his voice?’

Lena Philipsson feat. Dead by April – Dancing in the Neon Light

A bit different.

Tim: Older Melodifestivalen fans than us may be able to cast their minds back to 1987 and Lena Philipsson’s performance of a rather good Swedish song entitled ‘Dansa i Neon‘.

Tom: That’s some proper eighties hair, that is. And it’s a proper eighties song. It’s got chord progressions and melody lines that have been used a thousand times since and will no doubt be used a thousand times more.

Tim: Now jump forward twenty four years to a reworked and translated performance in the interval that got such a good reception it’s being released as a single.

Tim: A bit different, yes?

Tom: If it wasn’t for those two lines at the start of the chorus, I’m not sure I’d even realise it was the same song.

Tim: I actually quite like this, despite (or possibly because of) the weird genre splicing; similarly it’s nice hearing the key change, partly because it really doesn’t belong in a song like this.

Tom: It’s got something of Evanescence about it: the combination between traditional female vocals and proper black-metal screaming. I’m not sure the screaming actually fits in, but it’s a fantastic cover version and – in my view – better than the original.

Tim: Admittedly I don’t see it being an iPod mainstay, but for the novelty factor alone it gets a thumbs up from me.

Tom: And from me.