Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Summer rewind 2015: the (All)sång remains the same....or does it?

Petra Marklund's second year as host of SVT's great summer tradition didn't start well.  The last thing an outdoor show needs is bad weather, and the series premiered in a dull, grey, rainy, overcast Stockholm, the opposite of what we expect from Allsång: the beautiful Stockholm landscape bathed in evening sunshine. 

Something which has been creeping into the show over recent years is the inclusion of ever more 'VIPs' and celebs in the audience.  This went to ridiculous lengths in week 1 as the Swedish prime minister turned up with another fellow minister.  But no matter who you are, the weather does not differentiate.  So the PM and his government chum had to don their Skansen cagoules too...

The politicians' appearance attracted a lot of criticism with many online comments that SVT seems to care more about who's in the audience than who's appearing on stage.  Maybe it was just the weather, but week 1 fell flat, despite the efforts of the much-loved Hasse Andersson, this year's (other) big Melodifestivalen success story.Anyway we had the usual 'understated' performance from Carola (although it was worth mentioning for eagle-eyed fans of my other - mainly dormant these days - blog, Planet Salem, that Adam Hagstrand, Salem's former guitarist in his touring band, was in Carola's backing band). 

One new innovation we could have done without during this series: Petra singing her introduction of the artists to the tune of "Stockholm i mitt hjärta<. No, no, a thousand times no. It's not even acceptably cheesy, just cringeworthy.

Week 2 brought the triumphant return to Skansen of a certain ex-Allsång presenter who just happened to win this year's Eurovision Song Contest, but the Swedish press was just full of Norlie and KKV's "F word" controversy.  Meanwhile Tomas Ledin was back - now you all know that he's one of my all-time fave Swedish singers but if I'm honest his material of recent years doesn't come close to his classic songs.  "Livs levande" is certainly no "En del av mitt hjarta". 

In week 3 we had Isa, who had her breakthrough in this year's Melfest and I could predict her returning to Melfest and even representing Sweden at ESC in the next couple of years.  She is a very professional young performer.  The highlight of week 3 for me was Danny Saucedo performing the excellent "Brinner i Bröstet".  Like a lot of other Swedish stars, Danny has gone down the native-language route with his latest material.  He is such a star - I wonder if we will ever see him back at Melfest again? Talking of Melfest, Magnus Carlsson was rejuvenated by making the final this year and I enjoyed his energetic performance of "Gamla Stan" in week 3.

Week 4 was all about the summer hits.  Zara Larsson's "Lush Life" - a song with massive international hit appeal - has been judged the 'hit of the summer' in Sweden while "Fan Va Bra" by Jakob Karlberg has also been a big summer hit although if I'm honest it has a whiff of the 'one-hit-wonder' for me....unlike Darin (above), who has established a brilliant career which has completely been reinvented with his Swedish-language material. He performed the gorgeous "Ta Mig Tillbaka", (a song which always managed to bring me much-needed calm during my horrible summer) and its fine follow-up "Juliet".  And on a completely shallow note, isn't he just getting better and better-looking?????

Week 5 brought us the return of the rain, see-through raincoats and Ulrik Munther.  Just like Danny and Darin, he's turned his back on English-language music in favour of Swedish.  He performed "Nån gång", which I found a disappointing and irritating song. He still retains the youthful look but at least he doesn't look as if he should be in Junior Eurovision any more.  Dinah Nah's "Make Me (La La La)" was one of those songs which I've played a lot since Melfest and I think we can confidently say we'll see her back there next year, if only to prolong her 15 minutes of fame.  I'm pretty confident we'll also see Ida Lafontaine at a future Melfest too.

Not much to say about week 6 apart from Alcazar, who were also this year's chosen artists for the Allsångsscenen är din" special which directly followed the show. The 'Zar didn't disappoint, the show was packed with energy, discotastic fabulousness and all the hits and more .  A major highlight was a particularly memorable duet of "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" by Andreas and special guestPeter Jöback.  Alcazar really did put on an entertaining show. I missed week 7 but did manage to catch the Four Seasons medley on YouTube performed by the Swedish cast of Jersey Boys, including David Lindgren and Bruno Mitsogiannis (again, I can imagine either or both of them in a future Melfest).

On 11th August, the final episode of this year's series was a very grand occasion, to commemorate 80 years of the Allsång tradition at Skansen, with a spectacular backing group - no less than the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.  Lena Philipsson was among the artists with her new song "Jag är ingen älskling".  A big finale then, with a big surprise.  For no-one was expecting that big announcement from Petra Marklund (above) that she was quitting the show after just two series to concentrate on her own solo music career.  An emotional farewell, one final dramatic performance of Kent's "Musik Non Stop" and then she was gone.

Presumably to avoid a whole summer, autumn, winter and spring of speculation in the Swedish tabloids over who the new host will be, SVT moved quickly to announce that Sanna Nielsen will present the 2016 series.  She gained good experience co-presenting Melodifestivalen 2015 with Robin Paulsson, where she emerged as a professional and fun presenter; if she can reach out to the public at Skansen as well as the TV viewers then SVT will have done the right thing appointing her as Petra's replacement.  But I'm sure the Swedish media will have lots to say, as always, when next July comes around....

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