The time has finally come to hear the last eight entrants to Sweden’s ever-popular Melodifestivalen, the national selection process for the Swedish representative to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Typically the fourth heat is stacked with the biggest names and this year is no exception. Curiously it’s being held in Örnsköldsvik, a relatively small harbour town halfway up Sweden’s extenstive East coast, keeping the tradition of sharing the festival with the whole of Sweden.
Big comebacks this year are Alcazar and Linda Bengtzing, both veteran MF entrants and looking to finally get that ticket to the final. From last year’s contest, Janet Leon and Anton Ewald return for a second try; Janet came 5th in her heat with the amazing “Heartstrings”, while Anton weathered Andra Chansen to come an impressive 3rd in the final, looking like one of this heat’s frontrunners.
For those of you not up on the rules, the eight entrants go to a public vote – the top 5 progress to the next stage with another brief vote to decide the final results. Of these five, the top two go to Stockholm’s final in 2 weeks, and the next two go to second-chance contest Andra Chansen to fight for the last pair of tickets to the final. Let’s do it!
Christ knows what’s going on with that intro, some mad celebration of Swedish sport. Is that what Örnsköldsvik is famous for? But I can’t argue with some flag-waving, ribbon-twirling and pompom shaking, can you?
Alcazar – Blame it on the disco
I love Alcazar, I’m surprised they’re back, but I suppose the reunion at last year’s MF as an interval act put it back on the table. Kempe’s writing this one too, hoping to get 4/4 songs in the final if Linus gets through AC. Emerging from a giant disco ball, it’s clear no expense is spared here. First impression is Alcazar’s business as usual; an even gayer derivative of “Stay the night”. Are they even singing? Those vocals in the chorus seem pre-recorded. Good stuff as expected, but I’m left with a query of why they came back with this, after superior entries before. Alcazar-by-numbers is still a great thing, but I can’t help shrugging a little.
I.D.A. – Fight me if you dare
I was expecting rock music here, but fortunately it’s a YOHIO-esque bit of lite-rock that’s got a lot more going on than just guitars. Her vocals are a bit shouty, and the verses a little lumpy but the choruses are solid. If this is one of the ‘alternative’ entries of the heat, it’s at least a lot more palatable than Outrigger and State of Drama. That last minute is great though, a good climax!
Janet Leon – Hollow
Poor Janet, stuck in third? She’s back with a ballad after Agnes knockoff “Heartstrings” last year. After several ballads this year with just someone standing on the satellite stage, Janet has brought some interpretive dancers. Is this another Agnes song? I’m not really feeling this one, I don’t think her voice is up to it, except for the first big note on the key-change. The song picks up some momentum near the end but I don’t think it’ll be enough personally.
Ammotrack – Raise your hands
Ahh, I knew we wouldn’t escape without a rock track. Looks like 80s hair rock to me too… a bit heavy for me. There have been plenty of empty chorus lyrics this season about raising hands, making noise etc., and this is no exception. I have an open mind for rock at Melodifestivalen, but this is just uninspired and boring, and for all their cool-guy posturing they aren’t above a key-change. It’s sad that rock is automatically a dark horse for qualification just because of anti-votes, but I’ll brace myself for this to survive the night in one way or another.
Josef Johansson – Hela natten
Oh it’s a G:Son track! I can’t remember his other one this year, but he’s been rather muted this year. But a “Euphoria” team reunion is behind this debuting artist, which must make him a contender. Hate his outfit though, and his ratty hair too… sounds like an electro-tinged ballad with a lot of earnest facial expressions. This isn’t doing a lot for me either, I presume there will be a key-change too? Well a swaying backing group is an odd prop to pull out, and overall it’s a pretty plain midtempo ballad.
Linda Bengtzing – Ta mig
This oughta be good, but Jesus look at those writers! Terrifying. It’s been a bit of a limp heat so far, so let’s leave it to a pro. Electro pop? Fantastic! She’s selling it anyway, loads of energy and good vocals. She’s certainly giving this everything, even though I’m worried she’s doomed before she even starts. My favourite so far tonight anyway, and doesn’t resort to a Schlager template to justify her place there. Love it, I hope she does well.
Ellinore Holmer – En himmelsk sång
Ballad time again, with a debuting artist at MF. That’s a lot of writers! Looks like another stripped-back ballad, the glowsticks are out. It’s a sweet song, but it’s not doing much for me. She can’t quite hit those low notes either. I’m sure this will be quite nice in its studio verison, but she’s not a very engaging performer, just eyeing the camera, and otherwise just standing there when she’s not got anything to do.
Anton Ewald – Natural
Well this better be worth the wait, after the amazing “Begging” last year. His “A” EP didn’t fill me with confidence of his status as the next big male pop singer, but maybe this will change my mind. He’s got the looks, and the moves, I just hope the vocals are there. That’s a decent opener, and he seems like a more confident performer now. It’s a bit of a re-tread of “Begging”, or perhaps an evolution of it. I don’t think the chorus has the same hook but after tonight’s performances I think he’s at least earned his inevitable qualification for the final. That gospel middle-eight and key-change is pretty super, the song’s a bit of an 80s throwback but I rather like it.
So that’s the lot – only half of them will make it further. In an ideal world, Anton and Linda would go straight to Stockholm, with Alcazar and I.D.A. following to Andra Chansen. Ammotrack were awful, Janet, Josef & Ellinore were boring, but I don’t mind seeing Janet saved.
No idea what will actually happen though, I suspect Anton will get one of the top 2, and Ammotrack will do better than they should, but I really have no idea about the rest. Big names have been shown not to be bulletproof this year, so I worry for Linda. I’d like to see Alcazar do well but it’s perhaps their weakest MF entry yet.
We have one more entry though, a joke 9th one by the hosts Anders & Nour. No idea what it’s about though, I admit I zoned out a bit there… but never mind that, it’s the first set of RESULTAT!!
Making it through to the top 5 are: Anton (well, duh), Linda (yay!), Ammotrack (someone needs to be fifth), Ellinore (yawn) and … Alcazar (had me worried there).
OK that’s pretty good, I didn’t hold out much hope for I.D.A., I’d rather have had them than Ammotrack though. Poor Janet though, 8th place! Josef in 7th and I.D.A. in 6th. I think Janet knew she was doomed before the results even started coming, she looked sad.
My biggest fear now is that Linda will get 5th place – if Ammotrack or Ellinore get 5th (preferably Ammotrack) I’d be happy with most combinations of results, though Anton & Linda in the final would be great.
An interval act now from… no idea, but the audience seem to love him. Tomas Ledin apparently? Very folky, but… yes, I think this is a bit lost on me. Wiki says he’s a big star there, and won Melodifestivalen back in 1980. Ugh it’s this Clara woman with her annoying jump-cuts again, is she a vlogger or something?
I’m quite nervous about these results – maybe its because there’s actually something decent at stake, rather than last week!
So first to the final is… Anton. No surprises there really, could he go and win the whole thing this year? I don’t think the song is stronger, but it’s pretty good.
Andra Chansen beckons, and the final two spots in next week’s second chance contest are… Ammotrack. Gah. Disasterously, Ellinore gets the other one, leaving either Alcazar or Linda out of the contest.
Getting the nod for the final is Alcazar, leaving a miserable Linda resigned to her fate before the result was even read. Very disappointing, could have only gone worse if Ammotrack or Ellinore had made the top 2 really, but Alcazar in the final must be a good thing, even if the track itself is a cheaper shadow of their better moments.
There we are, see you next week for Andra Chansen in Lidköping, where only a Helena & Martin result will be tolerated!