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Last Saturday saw the UK unveil its Eurovision entry and as May 23rd and the Eurovision final in Vienna draws nearer, more and more nations will reveal their acts. This Saturday (14th March), Sweden will select theirs in Europe’s biggest selection process.
Melodifestivalen is nearly as old as Eurovision itself and is considered the marmite of the Swedish television calendar. Yet it’s the most popular show broadcast, netting around 3.3 million viewers an episode for the semi finals from a nation with a population of 9 million. This increases to above 4 million for the final.
This year has seen a big change in the process. The semi-finals shrank from eight contestants each to seven. Each contestant would sing their song before the voting lines are opened. Then, the contestants are knocked down to five before the lines are re-opened. Once the votes are counted, the first song to go directly to the final is announced. Then, the two songs at the bottom of the 5 will be announced, and they go through the Andra Chansen (Second chance) leaving the remaining two. There is no prize for 3rd place with the act coming second going directly to the final.
Andra Chansen is where the biggest change can be seen this year. Previously, they ran much like one of the semi-finals with the top two acts going through to the final. Now, the eight acts will be split into duels with the winner of each duel going directly to the final, so we’ll have four entrants from Andra Chansen this time.
The final sees a mix of a public vote and an international jury of 11 nations. This year’s nations are Armenia, Austria, Belgum, Cyprus, Estonia, France, UK, Israel, Malta, Slovenia and The Netherlands. Last year’s winner Sanna Neilson came in a strong third in Copenhagen with her song ‘Undo’.
For me Melodifestivalen is like the pre-Eurovision warm up. It’s as europop and at times as cheesy as Eurovision. Having produced 5 winners and 18 top 5 placing acts.
So let’s have a look at this year’s finalists and some from the semi final rounds that stuck out.
Eric Saade – ‘Sting’
Saade won the contest back in 2011 and came in 5th in Düsseldorf with his song ‘Popular‘, and this is his third entry in Melodifestivalen. A strong contender with the dance moves to accompany his catchy song, Saade came in at the top of his semi final group and will be a favorite.
Jessica Anderson – ‘Can’t Hurt Me Now’
Here, we have a Euro ballad from Anderson who took the second final slot from the first semifinal. This is Anderson’s 6th entry into Melodifestivalen and her 4th as a solo artist. Anderson won the contest and represented Sweden in Riga back in 2003 with her song ‘Give ME Your Love‘.
Mariette – ‘Don’t Stop Believing’
Here, we have 2010 QX magazine “Homo of the Year’ with her indie song. The dancers bring a sense of Transylvanian vampire bats to the stage and with a cape that Madonna would be jealous of. This is a song I found myself humming the next day. It’s definitely in my Top 3.
Magnus Carlson – ‘Möt mig i Gamla Stan’ (Meet Me In Old Town)
A catchy song with a hint of Ricky Martin about it. The chorus translates to:
‘Meet Me in Old Town
Now, tonight, tonight Now
I’m waiting in the Old Town
Need you with me tonight
Stop a taxi
Cut a train or
Spring all-you-can hit
Just get here
Meet Me in Old Town
Now, tonight, tonight Now’
This is Carlsson’s 8th appearance in Melodifestivalen having appeared last year with the group Alcazar and their song ‘Blame It On The Disco‘. Sanna Nielsen won on her 7th entry into the contest, so there is some hope here for Carlsson.
Isa – ‘Don’t Stop’
(Sadly the video of her performance is not available.)
At just 16 years old, Isa is the youngest entrant at this year’s competition. I’m not a fan of this song personally, but I wish her luck.
Jon Henrik Fjällgren – ‘Jag är fri Manne Leam Frijje’
Fjällgrean was 2014’s Sweden’s Got Talent winner and has quite a story. Born in Colombia, he briefly lived in an indigenous village before being adopted by a Swedish Sami family. The Sami people are the Indigenous people of the arctic region of Sápmi which today spreads the arctic regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This song is in the Joki Sami style. I think this could be the dark horse of the final.
JTR – ‘Building It Up’
Here, we have three brothers: John, Tom and Robin Lundbäck. They found fame in 2013 when they were on the X Factor – Australia where they came 7th. This wasn’t one of my choices for the final. However, the Jonas Brothers/One Direction comparison is no doubt going to work in their favor.
Måns Zelmerlöw ‘Heroes’
By quite a margin, Zelmerlöw is the odds on favorite to win this year’s competition. Visually impressive with no changes needed, he should go to Eurovision due to the competition limit of six people on stage. This is Zelmerlöw’s third entry into Melodifestivalen with his last entry being in 2009 with ‘Hope and Glory‘.
Now, we look at the four winners of the Andra Chansen duels that have made it to the final. Only one entry has ever won coming from the second chance round, and that was Robin Sjernberg in 2011 with his song ‘You’.
Linus Svenning – ‘Forever Starts Today’
Linus finds himself in the final for the second year in a row with another ballad, something you wouldn’t expect from him if you met him in the street. Last year he finished 5th with his emotive song ‘Bröder‘. Last year he went directly to the final, this year he had to fight for it. We shall see what happens.
Hasse Andersson – ‘Guld och gröna skoga’ (Gold and Green Forest)
Proving that age is no barrier for Melodifestivalen, Anderson seemed somewhat surprised by his accession to the final. His chorus roughly translates to:
‘There was dancing and partying upon the children all night long
It was summer, it was the gold and green forest
I was young and you were neighbors, Which we loved each other
It was summer, it was the gold and green forest’
Dinah Nah – ‘Make Me (La La La)’
This is quite a clubby (well, if you go out in Sweden it is) and very catchy song which is not your stereotypical Eurovision entry. This is her first year in Melodifestivalen and a pretty good effort. Like Kylie Remixed.
Samir and Viktor – ‘Groupie’
Lastly, we have a more typical, Eurovision entry here from Samir Barden and Viktor Frisk (who is also a fashion blogger). It’s their second release after ‘Success‘ which went to number three on the Swedish charts. This song has an annoying hook that really gets in your head. The chorus roughly translates to:
‘For us to take a Groupie
Yes, we’ll take a Groupie
Oåj ojoj ojoj oj oj oj
No more selfies
for us to take a Groupie
Oåj ojoj ojoj oj oj oj
Nobody wants to be totally by themselves
Take a Groupie tonight’
So there we have this year’s finalists. However, I will briefly list a few others that took part this year.
Ellen Benediktson – ‘Insomnia’
Ellen Benediktson is a finalist from last year with her entry ‘Songbird‘. This year saw quite a difference in style from last year’s ballad. This change could arguably be to blame for Benediktson’s failure to get to the final or Andra Chansen. Though ‘Insomnia’ is pleasant, it didn’t quite sit right with her.
Dolly Style – ‘Hello Hi’
Here is this year’s winner for cheesiest song. Dolly Style looks more at home in a Japanese anime cartoon than at a song contest, but I imagine it was a few peoples’ guilty pleasure. They made it through to Andra Chansen and lost in the duel to Nina Nah.
Elize Ryd and Rickard Södeberg – ‘One By One’
We appear to have found Brian Blessed’s Swedish cousin with this song It’s an operatic – pop fusion, and in a weird way, it’s quite enjoyable (Don’t judge!). Sadly, they were knocked out in the first round of voting of their semi-final.
Molly Pettersson Hammar – ‘I’ll Be Fine’
Winning Diva song this year, we have Molly Petterson Hammar. I was disappointed that this got eliminated by coming in third in her semi-final, losing to Jessica Anderson. I do feel the high note at the end lets the song down.
The finals will be broadcast live on SVT Play at 7PM UK time and is view-able from the UK. Luka till to all the acts from VADA.