Melodifestivalen – Sweden

Britain announced its Eurovision entry this week with Molly and her song “Children of the Universe” heading to Copenhagen in May. But for those of you who enjoy a camp music contest and can’t wait till then, tonight Sweden hosts the final of Melodifestivalen.

It is a music competition nearly as old as the Eurovision Song Contest itself, having started in 1959 and is now arguably the biggest selection contest in Europe. I was made aware of Melodifestivalen when I lived in Sweden and have continued to watch it since returning to the UK.

The show itself consists of four heats of eight contestants; three are eliminated shortly after the first round of phone voting leaving five to fight it out. 1 goes straight through to the final having gained the most votes, then the bottom two of the remaining four go through to the second chance heat held the week before the final, leaving two acts in a tense standoff, the act with the second largest vote also goes through to the final which sadly means third place is the end of the road. The only difference in the final is there are a panel of judges from different nations (including the UK) whose scores get mixed in with the public vote. Got it?

Last year’s winner, Robin Stjenberg with his song ‘You’, was the first winner who had to battle it out in the second chance show to get his final spot. Last year the show clocked four million viewers out of a population of nine and a half million and is a true Swedish institution.

Melodifestivalen has produced five Eurovision winners and eighteen top five placings and is fast becoming a guilty pleasure. So without further ado, here are this year’s finalists:

1. YOHIO – ‘To the End’

YOHIO came second in last year’s competition with his song ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and also had the honour of presenting Sweden’s results in Malmö.

2. Ellen Benediktson – ‘Songbird’

‘Songbird’ reminds me of Anouk, the Netherlands’ Eurovision entry last year. A nice no frills act that puts focus on the song.

3. Panetoz – ‘Efter Solsken (After sunshine)’

A translation of the chorus:

“After the sun comes the worst rain; It’s no kind of obstacle for I slip through the storm; It’s just hate, keep on talking; There isn’t anything that can depress me, no;

There is nothing that can keep me down; There is nothing that can depress me; I make my path in life, I don’t need anything; Everything I need I have inside me; Me me me me; Everything I need I have inside of me; Me me me me”

I have to admit this one is lost on me. Having translated it I can’t get my head around it. Still, it’s catchy and has an element non-Swedish speakers can sing along to.

4. Sanna Nielsen – ‘Undo’

A 7th attempt by Sanna Nielsen to win with this catchy song.

5. Oscar Zia – ‘Yes We Can’

An interesting use of televisions in this performance, and a welcome return to Eurovision cheese.

6. Ace Wilder – ‘Busy Doing Nothing’

Avril Lavigne meets country singing mixed in with some pop is the only way I can describe this act.

7. Alcazar – ‘Blame It On The Disco’

A 4th appearance for Alcazar at Melodifestivalen having sold 12 million records worldwide. A catchy tune with a sparkle for Europe.

8. Anton Ewald – ‘Natural’

A finalist from last year with his song ‘Begging’ who has also choreographed for other acts previously. Joe McElderry’s Swedish exchange partner.

9. Helena Paparizou – ‘Survivor’

This act has the hand dancing and the diva attitude. For those who know their Eurovision, you will be aware that Helena won back in Kiev in 2005 for Greece (she is Swedish by birth with Greek parents). One to keep an eye on.

10. Linus Svenning – ‘Bröder (Brother)’

A suppressing heartfelt song with the chorus of

“Dear Brother; Dear dear brother; What can you do when your heart is bleeding; Nights go good but the days are hard; For it was ours; Dear brother; Dear dear brother; What can you do when your heart is bleeding”

A moving song about his brother who passed away 4 years ago. This song is the dark horse of the final having beaten a favourite in the heats.

 

So those are the finalists, however there are a few who didn’t make it that you should all experience:

 Janet Leon – ‘Hollow’

Another artist who returned from last year.  The story telling choreography is somewhat confusing yet intriguing.

Manda – ‘Glow’

A nice song which showcases interesting giant violinists.

Alvaro Estrella – ‘Bedroom’

This sounds a lot better on the radio and is fast becoming a favourite of mine. Sad that this isn’t in the final but I imagine he’ll return next year.

 

It’s hard to pick a winner as several returning acts and a former Eurovision winner make this year’s competition tough, especially as last year proved that the favourite does not always win.

The final can be watched online at www.svtplay.se on Saturday 8th March 7PM (GMT).