This is it, Swedophiles, the big one. For those with an interest in Eurovision beyond their country’s national selection and the Eurovision shows themselves, the most famous event in the Eurovision calendar is Melodifestivalen.
This is Sweden’s national selection process to choose their representative in Eurovision. An ambitious series of four heats, a second-chance round and the grand final took place of the course of 6 weekends in six cities all over Sweden.
Regular readers will know I’ve been reviewing each of the shows so far, coming from Karlskrona, Gothenburg, Skellefteå, Malmö and Karlstad, but today all eyes and ears are on the recently completed Friends Arena in Stockholm as the ten finalists perform for the right to represent Sweden on the first Eurovision Song Contest on home soil for 13 years.
Malmö arena (venue for the 4th heat) is the home of Eurovision 2013, and Sweden get a free ticket to the grand final in their role as hosts, after Loreen won last year’s Eurovision in Baku, Azerbaijan last year with her massive hit song “Euphoria”.
The winner is decided by a 50/50 split of a televote and national juries. The jury vote is a common feature in deciding a national final winner, but unusually it’s not a Swedish jury at the helm. Instead, 11 national juries from across Europe will give their contribution to the final scores. These juries come from all four corners of Europe: Iceland to Israel, Spain to Ukraine (that wasn’t meant to rhyme so well), as well as the rest of the “Big Five” Eurovision countries and a few others.
Are we ready? Perhaps not ready for a Malmö-reworded cover of ABBA’s “Kisses of Fire” by hosts Danny & Gina, and the Eurovision hosts for 1992, 2000 and 2013. WTF?!
Ulrik Munther – Tell the World I’m Here
He looked like he was going to puke in the pre-show chat, poor guy. I wouldn’t like to open this show, but it’s a decent slot.
This has really grown on me, it’s a bit basic but I think it would look amazing on the Eurovision stage, possibly due to those eye-popping visuals. What happened to the last chorus visuals though? Did they give people seizures in the heats?
Fortunately the nerves didn’t get the better of his vocals. He was a bit patchy in places but the cracks were mostly covered over by the loud backing track.
It’s uplifting and memorable, even if the chorus is a bit thin. But that buildup to the final chorus really is a RUSH. He was a one-time favourite to win this, and I’d be happy with that as a result, even if it’s not my pick of the litter this year.
David Lindgren – Skyline
If you thought Ulrik had a basic dancepop template, David takes it to another level. It’s a bit of a cheap thrill of a track. He’s a likeable performer, but there’s just something that’s not clicking with this song.
He was the big surprise of last year’s Melodifestivalen, and I thought he’d come back with something a bit more… euphoric for the want of better adjective. His vocals are better than Ulrik, despite the frantic dance routine.
In that sense he’s got a better performance package, and my apathy is more from the studio version. He’s one of the few artists who added something to the song by performing it, rather than several acts whose songs were better on record than on stage.
I’m a convert, I’d happily see this one through to Malmö.
State of Drama – Falling
Another big grower for me, not usually my thing particularly, but it’s something I could see having Europe-wide appeal, even if it’s a very American-sounding track. It’s quite unique amongst its competitors, and after the success of A Friend In London in 2011’s contest.
That “Put your favourite dress on girl, cos I’m gonna rock your world” line is a bit of a cringey hook but I have really started to like this one. It does the tread the line of being a bit boring to grab people instantly, particularly in this performance, so I suspect that might be its undoing, but I’ve been loving this on the car stereo this week.
Anton Ewald – Begging
Now I LOVE this one. I wrote it off a bit during the second heat, and indeed his live performances haven’t had amazing vocals, but the song has been one of my favourites this year. Maybe my actual favourite!
I think the vocal lets it down a bit really, but he’s a very likeable guy, very cute – hate that t-shirt and trousers combo. Just give him a vest top or something.
I think this will grab the teen girl vote this year, but the odds are against him as an Andra Chansen qualifier. But like I said before, there’s a first time for everything.
I’m glad they are taking the pressure off his vocals by doing a Saade with a backing singer hidden somewhere. But his vocals actually sound pretty awesome. God I LOVE this dance routine. The song is just so addictive, I’d love for this to win. MAKE IT HAPPEN, SWEDEN. (PS, holy fuck, that last note was rotten!)
Louise Hoffsten – Only the Dead Fish Follow The Stream
Four uptempos and now … how did this make the final again? Even she seems to be a bit “WTF” about it. That said, it’s not a bad song, despite that bizarre but memorable title. God, give that woman a mobility scooter, how slow is she walking?
It just doesn’t have the scale of the first four songs, but it’s a definite contrast. If SVT are hellbent on Eurovision being about the performance this year, rather than flashy visuals and props, this could benefit.
But I just don’t see this as an obvious winner. I can’t call the contest this year, it’s all over the place, with no juggernauts like in the last few finals. Love the harmonica though!
Ralf Gyllenhammar – Bed on Fire
Not that I don’t like it; for what it is, it’s a big flashy Queen-esque number with scant regard for carbon footprint with all that pyro.
It’s an unlikely candidate, but anything can happen in Eurovision. It always just feels a bit unusual when Sweden gives a non-pop song the nod, especially one with such dated facial hair.
I don’t think the song is any stronger than the generic dance tracks we’ve had already, it just stands out with big shouty notes and pyro effects. He doesn’t even his the shouty notes very well, but it’s RAWK so does that mean it doesn’t matter? Will Sweden fall for a gimmick like this? I hope not… but I’m braced for it.
Ravaillacz – En riktig jävla schlager
I feel like the wheels are falling off this final with the previous two songs and now this ridiculous old-fashioned pub chant of a song. It’s got a decent melody but seriously, what are we doing here?
It’s a bunch of old men singing a song that I doubt will translate outside Scandinavia. In this genre (sad to say, this isn’t the first song like this I’ve heard in Eurovision) it’s not a bad effort, but seriously this would be a total disaster. At least they can sing in tune though.
Sean Banan – Copacabanana
Speaking of disasters, Sean Banan would be another awful choice for Malmö. Swedish rap, taking the piss out of Turks at one point? Hmm… this is a prime example of gimmicks over substance.
It’s not particularly funny to me as a non-Swede. Am I supposed to be LOLing at a guy because he’s wearing tacky outfits, including a baby/angel climax. There’s cross-dressing too, LOLZ!! Ugh … no. The chorus is memorable and instant, but that’s about all this has going for it.
No novelty songs please, they are Eurovision poison. But at the very least is has a catchy chorus … but please RESIST, SWEDEN.
Robin Stjernberg – You
Now I love this one, and with a great slot in the running order it might hit above its weight as the other Andra Chansen qualifier. I hope so, it’s got a great vocal, and provided he keeps his head it would be a great entry for Malmö.
He’s a likeable performer with probably the best voice of the lot in this final. The melody is vocally the most challenging too, and I hope people will realise that. God I love this! I’m so sad that my favourites were both AC qualifiers, but he’s got a shit-hot vocal tonight, I really hope there’s a chance to make a second (or third) first impression with the public.
What are the dancers doing though, a primary school music & movement class?? There’s a lot of forward-rolls going on there. I really love this song, it’s just such a rush performed live, this big notes were total magic, and he nailed every single one, even that MASSIVE one at the end. COME ON!!!
Yohio – Heartbreak Hotel
This one is infamously “big in Japan” though, and has that ladyboy angle to play. But I just don’t think he’s really got the vocal to pull this one off.
I don’t know what we expected, but it’s just a bit of a naff 80s cheese-rock pop track. It’s instant and catchy, but again I think it revolves too much around props and gimmicks.
His vocals are decent but nothing special, a few bum notes, and his voice is a bit thin really. He does perform it well, but I just don’t think it measures up to the scale of the previous track. I’m just worried it will qualify because I don’t entirely understand WHY. It’s decent but far from the best in show. But that’s it, the responsibility is in the hands of the Swedish public and a handful of international jury members… I can’t call it.
While we wait for the nailbiting results, there are two former Swedish winners to perform, but first EBU representative Lynda Woodruff (aka former MF entrant & host Sarah Dawn Finer) reprised her amayyzing performance from last year in Azerjeban…
Is this what “Euphoria” needed, a kids choir? Hmm… can’t say that’s what I was after. She’s such an ARTISTE. Just sing the bloody song! At least we won’t get this in Malmö too. They never tire of sign language in Eurovision do they? At least these singers can enunciate better than Loreen.
I guess that was supposed to be a ‘moment’, but while her vocals were great, it was a bit “So what?”. What the fuck is Gina wearing? Does Louise smell of dead fish?
Oh fuck, is it the result already?!?
So, 11 countries have a jury, giving Eurovision-style points to their favourite songs, with douze points for the favourite, and so on. Then the public votes are added in a massive block.
After the jury votes, which were all over the place, the dust finally settled on a top 3 of Robin(!!!), Ulrik and David. But the public vote could totally flip this over… which worrying is STILL OPEN during the jury results. Could the balance be totally upset by this? And could Robin become the first Andra Chansen song to win Melodifestivalen?
I would be happy with any of those three representing Sweden, obviously Robin is my pick, but the public vote proportional representation is such that any lead could be total swamped, and someone much further down the table could leapfrog them. My nerves are frayed… ANYONE could still win.
But before that, it’s time for another interval act from another former winner, Carola with a Schlageriffic remix of her best-loved hits “Främling”. As good as that was, there’s a terrifying set of results to come from the public vote.
And after that … a nerve-shredding public vote handed a massive set of points to Yohio, but Robin had got just enough of a lead to win the day. I literally cannot believe this happened… totally astonishing, and unprecedented for an Andra Chansen song to win. I’m so fucking happy, this is amazing.
There’s nothing left to say, I hope you enjoyed my write-ups as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them and watching the show!!! See you all in Malmö with Robin!