Alex takes a look at this year’s Melodifestivalen finalists ahead of the main event on Saturday
Figures quoted accurate as of 14:30 11th March
February and March are pretty good months, with the RBS Six Nations and the Eurovision national selections well under way. The biggest of which, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen comes to the climatic final of its six week search on Saturday 11th March and has proved a pleasant distraction from Brexit, Trump etc.
Swedes love Eurovision, with one recent survey ranking it as their fourth favourite event of the year behind Christmas, Midsummer, and Birthdays. Melfest is one part of the Eurovision journey and is Sweden’s biggest annual TV event with around 4.5m tuning into the final each year. That is literally half the country. 2017 has been its biggest year yet, breaking voting records most weeks. Hosted by former Melfest contestants Hasse Andersson, David Lindgren and Vlogger, Author and TV host Clara Henry. This year’s contest hosted three and a half former Eurovision Artists amongst the 28 entrants competing to represent Sweden in Kyiv in May.
For those that are new to Melfest, here’s a brief overview. The 28 artists are split into four semi-finals which take place in arenas around Sweden. Shortly after the seven songs have performed tele voting closes and seven become five when the voting lines are reopened briefly. The first of two songs that go direct to the final which takes place in Stockholm each year is then announced. The songs that come third and fourth are then announced. These two songs go straight to Andra Chansen (Second Chance). This leaves two songs, one of which is the second to go direct to the final, the other leaves the competition. Andra Chansen is slightly different, made up of the third and fourth placed artists from each semi-finals the artists are split into one on one duels with the victor of each round going through to the final, the remaining four leave the competition. Now for the Final, all songs have been played on the radios, streamed on Spotify, watched on YouTube for the week of Andra Chansen and the Final. It’s time for Sweden to decide. The finalists perform their songs once more for both the public and international juries. This year the Jury is made up of Armenia, Australia, The UK, France, Israel, Italy, Malta, Norway, Poland, Czech Rep and Ukraine. The International Juries will award points in a similar fashion to Eurovision itself with 1-8, 10 and 12 points being handed out. There are then 470 points up for grabs through the tele voting. Each artist will be awarded their percentage share of the 470 based upon the percentage of the national vote, so an artist that gets 10% of the national vote would gain 47 points to add to their score from the juries.
Let’s take a look at the Final 12. First of all we should note that this year’s final contains no previous winners/Eurovision representatives as artists. Those that entered this year were Charlotte Perrelli who has represented Sweden in Europe twice, winning in 1999 with “Take me to your heaven” and came 18th with “Hero” in 2008. Krista Siegfrids who represented Finland with “Marry me” in 2013 and came 24th and Loreen who won for Sweden with “Euphoria” in 2012
Nano came top of the first Semi-final with his song “Hold On”. This is Nano’s first year in Melfest and is being credited as his career breakthrough. The song is an odd mash of choir backing singers with a dance music chorus, and why not this is for Eurovision after all! This quickly became an early favourite to take the contest and with 2,513,157 streams on Spotify and 3487,874 views on YouTube it could do well on the night.
The Second finalist from Semi-final 1 is Ace Wilder with her song “Wild Child”. This is Wilder’s third entry into Melfest having come second to Sanna Nielsen in 2014 with “Busy Doing Nothing” and came third in 2016 with “Don’t Worry”. Personally I much preferred “Don’t Worry” to this year’s entry. The song itself is catchy, and it’s ok on stage and Wilder has done well previously with the juries. With 977,238 streams on Spotify and 286,920 views on YouTube this might not be the best year for Wilder.
The first finalist of the second semi-final was Mariette with her song “A Million Years”. Mariette previously entered in 2015 with “Don’t stop believing” and placed third. For me this song is on par with her previous entry. It became an early favourite for me and remains in my top three. I think the song is great and the staging suits it. With 1,562,249 streams on Spotify and 317,744 views on YouTube Mariette may need to rely on the juries on the night.
The second finalist was Melfest first timer Benjamin Ingrosso with his song “Good Lovin”. Ingrosso did win Lilla Melodifestivalen in 2006 with his song “Hej Sofia”, he went on to represent Sweden in MGP Nordic of the same year after, Sweden, Denmark and Norway pulled out of Junior Eurovision. The song is doing well with 2,282,694 streams on Spotify and 421,351 views on YouTube but for me I can’t make my mind up on it, sometimes I like it and other times I’m not in the mood.
The first finalist for the third semi-final was Robin Bengtsson with his song “I can’t go on” The song is co-written by 2013 winner Robin Stjernberg. Bengtsson first entered Melfest last year with his song “Constellation Prize”, which was my favourite song of last year’s contest. Bengtsson placed fifth in the final but is back again with this more upbeat song. Bengtsson was the second artist to cause a bit of an upset with profanities in his lyrics. He has since changed the lyrics for the final and album to “…you look so freaking beautiful”. I’ll leave the detective work to you. It is defiantly a song to strut too and the choreography involves treadmills, (Not a first for Melfest I can tell you). With 2,819,546 streams on Spotify and 787,940views on YouTube he looks set to better his fifth place and is one of my top three. Could he take his moves to Kyiv?
The Second finalist was a bit of a pleasant shock 87 year old Owe Thörnqvist with his song “Boogieman Blues”. Thörnqvist is an award-winning musical comedian with Royal honours. He helped write a few songs for Melfest contestants in the 60s and is now having a go himself. It’s not a bad song (I like it because the Swedish is slow enough for me to understand) but with 504,698 streams on Spotify and 189,631 views on YouTube it doesn’t look like a winner.
The final pair of semi-final winners starts with Wiktoria and her song “As I Lay Me Down”. Wiktoria entered for the first time last year with her song “Save Me” and placed fourth. This year she looks set to do better and is even the bookies favourite to win the contest. With 3,569,905 streams on Spotify and 625,913 views on YouTube she has a base to build on.
Lastly Jon Henrik Fjälgren feat. Aninia with his song “En Värld full av strider” (A World Full of Battles) Fjälgren came second to 2015 winner Måns Zelmerlöw and is noted for singing in Sami, which is the language of the Nordic natives in the north of Scandinavia. I can see this song on a Eurovision stage, it mixes native with modern, which has been done numerous times before. With 1,688,713 streams on Spotify and 607,060 views on YouTube. It could be a dark horse.
Now we move on to the winners of the duels. Only one artist has won Melfest through the Andra Chansen route and that was Robin Stjernberg in 2013 but there are a couple of outside chances in this group of four.
Firstly FO&O with their song “Gotta thing about you”. Originally named The Fooo, they later changed their name to The Fooo Conspiracy before founding band member Oscar Molander left the group in November last year. This left Felix Sandman, Oscar Enestad and Omar Rudberg. The Group stated out life as street performers in Stockholm and uploaded videos to YouTube and have since opened a Justin Bieber concert in Stockholm, They have a number 1 album under their belts from 2014 and this is their first year at Melfest. It is very boy band with a polished routine and pyrotechnics. It has been rising up the Spotify chart since they won their duel with 2,193,546 streams on Spotify and 764,956 views on YouTube it could do well on the night.
Lisa Ajax won the second duel with her song “I don’t give A”. This was the first song of the contest to cause an upset for language with the artist singing “I don’t give a f*ck what the others say” ten times, and when the backing singers kick in, well it is a bit full on! Ajax was a finalist last year with “My Heart Wants Me Dead” coming seventh. Unlike Bengtson the lyrics have been changed for the jury vote with confirmation pending on which lyrics she’ll pick on the night, however she would be forced to change them under Eurovision rules should she win. With 1,225,751 streams on Spotify and 444,398 views on YouTube it doesn’t look like that would be an issue.
Boris René took the third duel with his song “Her Kiss”, a former footballer this is his second consecutive year in Melfest having come last in last year’s final with his song “Put Your Love on Me”. Another catchy song from René and I hope it does better than last year. With 652,081 streams on Spotify and 210,292 views on YouTube it might not beat his previous position by much.
Lastly the duel winner and the concluding part to the story of the whole contest this year. Anton Hagman with his song “Kiss You Goodbye”. Hagman had the toughest duel up against former Eurovision winner Loreen. All the pundits had assumed Loreen had it in the bag, and that it was an oversight that she hadn’t made the final through the semi-final but this YouTuber has done it. The song is such an earworm and I have to hit repeat when it crops up on my playlist. With 1,762,653 streams on Spotify and 447,884 views on YouTube if anyone is going to challenge for the title from the Andra Chansen group its Hagman. He also completes my top three.
That completes the list of finalists but we can’t end this without talking about Loreen. Her song “Statements” fits well with the songs she has released both before winning Eurovision, and since. The staging was like a Sia music video and was interesting. I thought she had a final spot in the bag but it seems she didn’t win over Sweden. So here is the Eurovision entry that wasn’t.
The final takes place at 7pm GMT on Saturday 11th and is available from the SVT Play website to stream live. It can also be streamed via the app onto Chromecast.
I’ve also pulled together a Spotify playlist of some of my favourite entries over recent years including this year. Just search AlMitchell89 Melodifestiveln