Finally we arrive at the end of the road to Malmö, and the 39th entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Loreen’s landslide victory last year in Baku brought the contest back to its spiritual home of Sweden, where Malmö was selected as the host city.
Sweden as a participant of Eurovision hardly needs introduction, with five victories to its name. Lest we forget ABBA’s “Waterloo” is one of those victories, perhaps the most famous song ever to come from the contest. Strong results over the years have sealed Sweden’s place as one of the strongest forces in Eurovision, not least down to the massive Melodifestivalen selection process, the biggest and most internationally popular event of its kind.
Sweden hit a rough patch in the late 00’s, with Carola’s strong 5th place finish in 2006 followed by a string of disappointing results, culminating in their failure to qualify for the 2010 final by a narrow margin. Since then they have not looked back, with Eric Saade’s 2011 3rd place and Loreen’s win last year putting the Swedes back on top, with an indication that another Nordic country may well follow suit next week.
This year’s Melodifestivalen felt like a bit of a comedown from 2011 & 2012, but there were still plenty of good songs in contention (visit my Malmö hub for reviews of all the shows). I thought it was the end for Robin when he didn’t get a direct ticket to the MF final, instead ending in second-chance round Andra Chansen. After taking one of the two tickets for the final from that round, he pulled off what many thought was impossible and won Melodifestivalen, the first Andra Chansen act to do so.
My nerves were in shreds after that incredible final (review), and a dumbstruck Robin stood in disbelief as his win was announced. It was a wonderful moment, and I just know Robin is going to give it his best in Malmö next week. Robin’s own road to Malmö is short, a native of Skåne county where Malmö is found. However, his journey to this point has certainly been interesting.
He successfully auditioned for boyband What’s Up, a four-piece group including none other than Eric Saade. Eric left to pursue a solo career and eventual Melodifestivalen & Eurovision glory, while the band broke up soon after. Robin then took part in Sweden’s Idol 2011 show. By a very narrow margin (48/52) he came second to fellow Melodifestivalen 2013 alumnus Amanda Fondell. Amanda flopped at MF, but Robin is going from strength to strength.
Finally we get to the song. It was one of my instant favourites of this year’s Melodifestivalen, with some truly amazing vocals set to an uplifting dance-pop soundtrack. It’s an incredibly hard song to sing, but when he nails it, it’s incredible.
That warbling “Yoooouuu–waahhhaaa” hook is brilliant, and he lights up the stage with his modest but cheerful manner. It was so great to watch him each week in Melodifestivalen, always blown away that he’d got as far as he did. If he nails the vocals in Malmö, and the staging is suitably spectacular, I wonder if the Friends Arena in Stockholm might finally pop its Eurovision cherry sooner than expected…
As this year’s host, Sweden gets a free pass to the grand final. To avoid vested interests for SVT who will write the performance order, Sweden’s slot was randomly drawn – 16th place is pretty good I think, and Robin could do very well this year. I’m backing him all the way, good luck!
So that’s all of them. Visit my “Malmö 2013” hub for links to all 39 entries, reviews of the national finals, Melodifestivalen and other news. You can also click “Malmö 2013” at the top of the page.
On Tuesday I am flying out to Malmö for the first semi-final, stay tuned next week for previews of all three shows, and reactions for their results. It’s going to be awesome and I hope you enjoy it!