Tim: So I was out last night seeing Ace Wilder perform, and tbh it was a bit disappointing – despite having a fairly extensive back catalogue of great songs, she only sung Wild Child, Dansa i Neon and Busy Doin’ Nothing, and then for an encore did Busy Doin’ Nothing a second time. On the other hand, the rest of the music played was absolutely cracking, such as this, which I was OUTRAGED to discover we’d never covered. So here it is.
Tim: Finished a close second in its heat in Melodifestivalen 2006, bang in the middle of what could justifiably be described as schlager’s golden age, or maybe its renaissance, and would later come 7th in the final. WHAT A BANGER.
Tim: I went to see Magnus Carlsson performing a couple of weeks ago, but you weren’t able to; to be honest, you didn’t miss much.
Tom: I’d say “that’s a relief”, but I’ll be honest, it’s more of a “well, that’s okay then”.
Tim: He stuck mostly to his Alcazar stuff, which not only meant he didn’t play Glorious, but he didn’t even play Wrap Myself In Paper! DISGRACEFUL. However, the warm-up DJ did play this, one of the finest schlager songs of the past decade and one which I was astonished to discover we’d never covered.
Tom: Echoes of Mika’s Grace Kelly at the start there, but fortunately it goes down a… well, “original” isn’t the right word for a schlager track like this, but at least it goes down a different route.
Tim: It sailed through to the final Melodifestivalen final in 2008, as is correct, but lost out to, amongst others, the even better Hero by Charlotte Perrelli, so I’ve no problems there. Title translates to “How Hard Can That Be?”, song’s basically “I can be whatever you want, how hard can that be?” A curious message perhaps, with a mix of submission but also knowledge that he won’t want much anyway, but one I suppose works nonetheless. Particularly when you apply this sort of music to it – the big beats, the powerful voice, the key change accompanied by the screaming vocal.
Tom: It’s a bold choice to actually just do a shouted scream in the middle of your second verse, but somehow she pulls it off. And it’s a song that needs that key change — that’s not a bad thing, I’m just glad it was there.
Tim: This has been a favourite of mine for a long time, and I’m not sure it’ll ever stop being.
Tim: Some, including me, were commenting on the Twitters at the end of heat 4 whether this year finally marked the end of an era for Melodifestivalen.
Tom: Given that name, I’m guessing you mean the era of schlager?
Tim: Indeed – there were three notable entries, unashamedly pop. One of those ended up not performing; then we had After Dark, coming seventh in the third heat, and then we had this. I won’t say where it came, because I think it would break my heart to actually type it.
Tom: Blimey, she’s shaved her head! And it suits her. As for the music… well, you can add all the heavy beats you want, that’s clearly schlager.
Tim: Admittedly, it could be said that it’s time to move on – this music was beginning to sound dated probably five years ago, even for Eurovision; key changes have been decreasing in number for several years.
Tom: And they haven’t won in… well, a good few years now.
Tim: Nope – you’ve got to go back to 2007, and before then 2001. 2007 an interesting winner, actually – not only the only song in 15 years to have won with a key change, also the only non-English song to have won since 1998, and all that despite being a bit rubbish.
Despite that, for many people, key changes and schlager are what defines Melodifestivalen. The bright purple and yellow. The outstanding spark fountains. The…well, it’s almost hard to put into words, because no singular components really define it, but we all know it when we see it, and love it. And yet we also realise that it’s not suitable for a Eurovision entry, and so is apparently not suitable for a Eurovision selection program. A big, big shame, even if the signs have been on the walls for a while now.
Tom: I can’t disagree with you. I don’t think it deserved to be last, though.
Tim: Linda Bengtzing, schlager queen. Three years back, she pulled quite the shocker by coming first in her heat, then last in the final; she then swore off Melodifestivalen and said she’d never be back. She came back this year, and just missed out on a slot in Andra Chansen. With this.
Tim: Right, expletives ahead, as I’m emotional.
Tom: “Tired and emotional”?
Tim: Yeah, we’ll call it that. I mean, really. Just how the bollocks did that not get through? Sweden, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Tom: ‘Cos it’s a bit dull and repetitive? I mean, it’s good, but it’s not a classic.
Tim: OH COME ON. Admittedly it’s not Alla Flickor, but for a start, there was a totally SHITTING AWFUL track (dull song, very weak singer) that went through to Andra Chansen, and you kicked out THIS? I mean, WHY? It’s not even as if it’s “oh, it’s crappy camp schlager, we don’t like this”. It’s really an incredibly good pop track.
Tom: It’s okay. It goes on a bit, even at three minutes.
Tim: IT DOES NOT. Why the hell did you not vote it through? WHAT ON EARTH IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? I am actually tempted to GIVE UP. ENTIRELY. Sweden, YOU HAVE FAILED ME. I AM APPALLED. HOW VERY DARE YOU.
Tom: You realise we’re going there in a few weeks, right?
Imagine a typical Swedish Eurovision entry. This is pretty much it.
Tim: Imagine a typical Swedish Eurovision entry. This is pretty much it.
Tom: Blimey, that is textbook, isn’t it? That could be any regular Scandinavian Eurovision entry in the last decade or two.
Tim: Interesting result for this one: despite doing fairly well with the international juries, it got barely 3% of the telephone vote in the final of Melodifestivalen, which is a shame, especially since it came top of its heat.
Tom: I can see that happening: it’s one that could get picked as the best of its kind, only to seem a bit generic when it hits the final.
Tim: With the quick fake ending and then the key change, this is a brilliant piece of schlager, and I love it. Throw in the bright clothing, the wind machine and the upside-down camera, this is a performance that I reckon was robbed of a decent placing.
Tom: I was wondering where the wind machine was when the song started. I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.
Tim: PREVIOUSLY, ON EUROPLOP: Värsta Schlagern, which was described, quite correctly, as ‘a massive Take That to the whole Swedish pop music scene.’
Well, turns out that at least of them is one heck of a hypocrite, namely Linda Bengtzing, who dived straight into the middle of the Swedish music scene with this 2005 Melodifestivalen entry, the divine Alla Flickor.
Tom: Why does that sound vaguely rude to me? Clearly I have other things on my mind.
Tim: Um, clearly. Anyway, this is, as I said, divine, and contains everything there is to love about Swedish schlager in, well, any given twenty seconds of it, really.
Tom: I was worried that you’d overhyped this until the first chorus, which justifies everything you said. It’s even got the descending bells cliché under the final few lines! Fantastic.
Tim: As a whole three minutes, it’s excitable, catchy and jumpy, and it ticks every box necessary: over-excited female singer, backing singers throughout and plenty of howling after the key change. (Although that does come with a rather worrying thought process of “Here comes the key change … Hang on, has she forgotten it? … Ah, there it is.”)
Tom: It’s odd to have the quiet, silent breakdown and not immediately follow it with the big key change – lulled into a false sense of security, I thought that was it. I actually jumped, slightly startled, when the proper one kicked in.
Tim: Do you reckon we’re a big enough website to create a new phrase? I hereby name this ‘The Bengtzing Effect’ – that of leaving a key change so late you think it’s not going to happen, and then making you entirely delighted when it suddenly appears with just seconds to spare.
Tom: Catchy name.
Tim: Isn’t it? I predict it catching on within the entire music industry by Christmas at the latest. Back to the song, I see absolutely no reason at all why one should not immediately get up and jump around when this starts to play.
Tom: I would dance to this like an idiot if it were played in a club. Do any clubs actually play music like this any more?
Tim: If they don’t, we owe it to the world to start our own club, and OOH, we should actually call it The Bengtzing Effect, because that would be an amazing name for a club. We shall play this song over and over and over again, until people get sick of it, and to them we shall say, ‘If you think that, then you don’t deserve to be in here. GET OUT, I tell you, GET OUT!’*
* I’m in a bit of an odd mood today. Hmm.
Tim: Anyway, the lyrics are entirely banal, as befits such a song – they’re roughly a warning to any ladies about a guy who makes you feel special, as though you’re the only person in his life, but then behaves exactly the same way to any other girl who walks past. Slightly wasted as a warning, though, since she never actually says who he is. Bad luck, Swedish ladies: she knows, but she ain’t telling.
Tom: And now I have “all the Swedish ladies / all the Swedish ladies” bouncing around in my head. Well done, Tim.
Tim: Thank you – always happy to help.
Right, now who do we talk to about setting up a nightclub?