After going through my post-Eurovision YouTube history, watching me dance Cara Mia and belt Hope and Glory out of tune, and obnoxiously sighing while watching me go through his Instagram (while complaining how his pizza looks weird), my sister got a little concerned. So after about 5 minutes of trying to deny her suspicions, yes, I’ve got a bit of a fan-crush on Måns Zelmerlöw. (Thanks, video of acoustic version of Hope and Glory, you really sealed the deal…) Eventually it got to the point that instead of just streaming on YouTube and Spotify*, I decided to buy his album. And rant (positively) about it.
*Then again, Spotify sucks if you live in the wrong region. At the moment which I am typing this, Spotify will only play 3 of MZW’s tracks: “Heroes” (due to Eurovision), “Should’ve Gone Home” (recent promotion for his music video), and “Miss America.” (Is it because it’s USA friendly due to the name? Aesj.)
- Stir It Up: I’m pretty sure everyone’s TL; DR for this song is “Do something; carpe diem.” This is a good introduction track to the CD, since in other words the song says, “I don’t want to regret not doing anything, so I’m going everywhere as a storyteller since someone told me to quit farting around at home eating pizza and watching Netflix.” Songwise it’s a little repetitive, but at least the refrain’s catchy. Now onwards to the rest of the album…
- Heroes: Though he doesn’t have a song called “Perfectly Damaged” on the album, this song is probably the closest to the album title: “We are the heroes of our times” (seen as “perfect” by others), “but we’re dancing with the demons in our minds” (seen as “broken/damaged” on the inside). Also as everyone in the ESC world knows, this song (and the stick man MP) won Eurovision. Enough said.
- Someday: If a couple is like fire and gasoline, then there are only two options: Either they can work together really well, or it’s constant crisis management after playing with fire. Given the lyrics, things aren’t working as well as expected for this couple since at least one party is drifting away. It’s written by the same team that wrote “Heroes,” so it’s got a similar dramatic, “Look, I can do this and fix the problem” vibe and a similar introductory riff. It’s also one of my favourite tracks to sing along to in the car with the windows down, so no apologies if anyone at uni or around where I live hears me trying to belt out “We’ll get it someday, someday, someday, ahh.”
- Live While We’re Alive: My sister saw the title and thought it was going to be something related to One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young.” If you’re looking for that, please look up Satin Circus’s UMK 2015 entry instead. Back to the album review: If you play the song once, I’m pretty sure you will get the “oh-oh-oh” part of the refrain stuck in your head. If not, maybe you will be nodding your head to the beat. IMO the second verse is a little easier to sing than the first verse, but it’s just as happy. It’s really hard to not sing along or smile when the song comes up.
- Let It Burn: Someone please tell me I’m not the only person think of the “Let it Go” parody where “the flames never bothered [her] anyway” before listening to the song. It’s a little forgettable on the first few listens compared to the first four tracks, but the power kick-starts once he finishes the first almost-spoken verse. Anyways, this feels like a follow-up to “Someday” as he’s continuing the fire metaphor, but this relationship has just begun. It’s either that or the parties are getting back together despite negative outside comments. They already know it’s not going to be easy, that the fire can be good (feeling warm and fuzzy inside) or bad (feeling emotional pain/fighting). But they’re “not afraid of the fire; [they’re] not afraid to get scarred.” Eventually the fire ends up getting used productively (“fire away”) to go “somewhere [they] don’t know.” Looks like they solved the fire and gasoline and it’s a happy ending.
- Should’ve Gone Home: So there’s the happy “perfect” part of the album. Then comes the “damaged” half when he’s singing about regret about affairs in a past relationship. In a way, it’s generic and specific at the same time: specific because it’s his personal story to tell, generic because regretting a past action(s) is a universal story. He and his label chose this as his second single to remind the public that he can do more than his Mello entries, and I like that it makes him more human as a storyteller/artist.
- Fade Away: This is the least catchy song in the album. Because the two songs have similar styles (a slow, speak-sing verse, a short pause, and then bringing in the refrain with a lot of power) I keep messing this song up with “Let it Burn” when I try to hum the songs in my head. And right after the song is supposed to kick in with “Until I fade away”, I start humming the sound bite to JTR’s “Building it Up” since the instrumentals are very similar. But while it’s hard to sing off the Ohrwurm Network, I still like listening to it and singing along. Still, please don’t make me sing this on karaoke night yet…
- Hearts Collide: It’s a waltz, and it’s about two people falling in love. Cue someone quoting TFIOS that they fell in love “the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” Yay (for a 2-hour Apple infomercial). It’s also one of those slow songs that my friends and I would have butchered at school dances: instead of swaying along to the beat like it’s supposed to be a boat on the water, we threw in extra moves because it was way too slow and none of us were in relationships at the time. I’ll put this in the “very calming tracks” list to calm down if I suddenly have a panicky meltdown. Otherwise, I’ll be listening to it curled up in bed feeling alone, silently wishing I could talk to someone outside my family at 2AM.
- The Core of You: I’m kind of glad that this song’s uptempo after the previous song, since too many ballads would make the CD harder to listen to in the car. And sure, it’s probably talking about some sort of relationship, but we already know it doesn’t have to be a romantic one since he’s just asking the other party not to change the core (inner essence) of them. In his concerts, he refers to the students at the schools his charity funds, but the song works for anyone who might be going through some kind of major change on the outside. It’s a great song to say “I support you” with, and it ties back to his “we can all be heroes” spiel at Eurovision.
- Unbreakable: My friends and I would have botched “Heart’s Collide” at school dances. We would have rocked out to “Unbreakable,” since it’s got an easy dance floor beat and overall it’s easy to sing along with in the car. I find it really hard to not sing along to the refrain, “I broke the unbreakable, unbreakable, unbreakable, uh-huh,” and feel a little weirded out that this is probably one of the happiest breakup songs that seems to involve regret. Now I’ll be even more weirded out if someone starts playing this at the gym. The mail carrier seems to not care though, as he’s already seen me sing along while raking leaves…
- Kingdom in the Sky: If I arranged this album, I would want this song to be the last track. It’s slow, but it’s dramatic and an emotional showstopper. It’s a happy ending with him walking in the clouds on love, having resolved every major issue despite going through pain/demons around him, where the world is strong like iron and his love will soar like an eagle. I’m not sure if it’s the same level as Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s “Midnight Radio” happy ending on Broadway, but it’s definitely an epic ending. Now if only there were more videos of him performing this song outside of Sweden…
- What’s In Your Eyes (ft. Tilde Vinter): OK, so I get that he can definitely pull off a ballad (See him and Molly Sandén performing the Swedish version of “I See the Light”). I also get that it’s a well-written and well-produced song with a good emotional arc. The minor problem is that I can’t take the song seriously once they hit the refrain: When they sing the line, “Couldn’t see what’s in your eyes, your eyes, your eyes,” for some reason I want to sing back “THE RAIN, THE RAIN, THE RAIN” from Spain’s 2014 entry as off-key as possible. Maybe it’s because I’m alone in the car driving to class and need to laugh at something…
TL; DR: I really like this album. My favourites are “Heroes,” “Someday,” “Live While We’re Alive,” and “Kingdom in the Sky.”