This weekend sees the final of Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s most popular annual TV event and Europe’s biggest search to find national representation for Eurovision.
This year, Eurovision will be hosted in Lisbon, Portugal for the first time following Salvador Sobral’s victory with his song “Amar pelos dois”. Sweden has a national obsession with Eurovision and has hardly been out of the top 5 in recent years. The Swedes have won twice in the last 10 years and are now just one win away from matching Ireland’s all time winner’s record of seven.
This year’s contest has been hosted by three-time entrant David Lindgren who also co-hosted last year. He is joined by the glitter obsessed Fab Freddie in the green room. Controversy was somewhat avoided when it transpired that Kamferdrops’s song “Solen Iever kvar hos dig” had been available online prior to the contest. A violation of Eurovision rules which saw Anna Book disqualified in 2016. There was no disqualification this time around, however Kamferdrops failed to get through the first round of public voting.
The final will see a slight alteration to the voting system used in the final following public dissatisfaction with the result last year (though the producers say it isn’t linked). The 11-strong international jury supported eventual winner Robin Bengtsson and his song “Can’t Go On” and scored him 96 points. With the public vote, Bengtsson came third with 50 points. The public supported Nano and his song “Hold On” which gained 57 points from the public and 76 from the jury. This gave Bentsson a 13-point lead in total 146 to Nano’s 133.
The new rules will see the international jury award points to 10 of the 12 acts instead of seven. This matches the jury points allocation system used in Eurovision and is believed will dilute the influence of the jury – something that broadcaster SVT have ruled out removing. The difference between the jury and televote has not been a one-off, however it is worth noting that when the jury and public agreed on their top song, Sweden went on to win Eurovision with Loreen’s “Euphoria” and Måns Zelmerlöw’s “Heroes”.
Let’s take a look at the finalists for this year’s contest (youtube figures as of 12:00 am 10/3/18 & Swedish Spotify Chart week ending 8/3/2018):
Born in Chile, Méndez ran for Mayor of Valparaiso in 2016 but was unsuccessful. A popular Latin DJ in Northern Europe and Russia, Méndez has entered Melodifestivalen twice before: in 2002 with his song “Adrenaline” where he came second and in 2003 with “Carnival” where he made it through to the knock-out Andra Chansen (second chance). This year his route to the final was through Andra Chansen again, where he beat Sigrid Bernson with her song “Patrick Swayze”.
Youtube views: 720,136 Spotify Position & streams 3/1,449,040
Renaida “All the Feels”
Born in Tanzania, Renaida placed sixth in Sweden’s version of Idol in 2016. This is her first time in Melodifestivalen. Renaida makes the final having beaten Olivia Eliasson with her song “Never Learn”.
Youtube views: 536,637 Spotify Position & streams 32/459,477
Martin Almgren “A Bitter Lullaby”
Almgren was the winner of Idol in 2015, and was one of the winners of the third semi-final in Malmö. This is Almgen’s first time in Melodifestivalen. A song with a country vibe, it has really grown on me over the last few weeks and is maybe one to watch out for.
Youtube views: 85,291 Spotify streams 42/422,706
John Lundvik “My Turn”
A former professional sprinter, Lundvik switched to music in 2010 and composed the song “When You Tell the World You’re Mine” which was performed at the wedding of Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling. Lundvik has also composed songs for fellow melfest artists such as Anton Ewald and Sanna Nielsen. “My Turn” is the first ballad of the final and was one of the winners of the first semi-final.
Youtube views: 162,594 Spotify position & streams 25/626,416
Jessica Andersson “Party Voice”
This will be Andersson’s sixth appearance at Melodifestivalen. She was also one half of Fame, who represented Sweden in Riga, 2003 wit the song “Give Me Your Love” where they finished 5th. Andersson was last in a Melfest final in 2015 with her song “Can’t Hurt Me Now” where she placed 11th. Anderson was the second winner from the third semi-final alongside Almgren.
Youtube views: 182,643 Spotify position & streams 31/529,529
LIAMOO “Last Breath”
Another former Idol winner from 2016, LIAMOO was one of the winners from the second semi-final in Göteborg. This song has a great chorus but I’m not a personal fan of rap music. This is LIAMOO’s first time in Melfest.
Youtube views: 158,281 Spotify position & streams 12/833,994
Samir & Viktor “Shuffla”
This duo return for the third time having competed in 2015 and 2016 where they made the finals having gone through Andra Chansen with their songs “Groupie” and “Bada Nakna”. Their best position was eighth with Groupie. In the year between their last entry and now Viktor Frisk came out as bisexual and released a book entitled “Min Superkraft” where he talks about his ADHD diagnosis. Samir & Viktor were winners of the second semi-final and were spared a duel in Andra chansen.
Youtube views: 1,546,604 Spotify position & streams 5/1,546,604
Mariette “For You”
Mariette is now a three time finalist having reached it in 2015, 2017 and this year when she was one of the two finalists from the fourth semi-final. In 2015 she came second to Måns Zelmerlöw with her song “Don’t Stop Believing and fourth in 2017 with “A Million Years”. Mariette goes into the final as one of the bookies favourite. Whilst I am a big fan, I felt this year’s song was mellow in comparison to previous entries.
Youtube views: 259,146 Spotify position & streams 21/669,667
Felix Sandman “Every Single Day”
Sandman entered Melodifestivalen last year as part of the group FO&O where they placed 11th in the final with the song “Gotta Thing About You”. The group split up after this and Sandman launches his solo career with this heartfelt ballad. In my opinion I expected Sandman to go straight to the final, however he had to duel it out against Mimi Werner and her song “Songburning” in Andra chansen. Only one song has won the contest coming through Andra chansen, Robin Stjernberg with his song “You” in 2013. I think Sandman has a great chance of winning if Sweden is in the mood for a ballad and is my dark horse for the final.
Youtube views: 376,066 Spotify position & streams 1/1,551,061
Margaret “In My Cabana”
Originally from Poland this is Margaret’s first time in Melodifestivalen after coming second in Poland’s national selection last year. Margaret came through Andra chansen having beaten Moncho and his song “Cuba Libre”.
Youtube views: 2,904,645 Spotify position & streams 10/838,901
Benjamin Ingrosso “Dance You Off”
A former winner of Lilla Melodifestivalen in 2006, this is Ingrosso’s second time in Melodifestivalen and is the second time he’s gone directly to the final after winning the first semi-final. Last year he placed fifth with his song “Good Lovin”. Another one of the bookies favourite Ingrosso has great staging with this song.
Youtube views: 508,232 Spotify position & streams 5/1,100,708
This is a guilty pleasure from the parody dansband group headed by comedian Robert Gustafsson who created the character Roland Järverup for the 1999 movie Screwed in Tallinn. The song would fit in with the camp and the sparkle of Eurovision. A surprise winner from the final semi-final the song gets put into perspective when you translate the title. “Drunk Dancing”.
Youtube views: 784,183 Spotify position & streams 20/736,062
The final will air live on SVT Saturday 10th March 7pm GMT.