As you should know by now, Melodifestivalen is a very BIG DEAL in Sweden, as the Swedes take their Eurovision qualifications more seriously than any other nation. In fact, Melodifestivalen always gets more viewers than the Eurovision Song Contest itself.
The qualifications take six Saturdays to complete and they take the form of a travelling circus, with the preliminary heats held in different towns around Sweden. There are four preliminary heats with seven contestants in each. The two artists with most votes get straight to the final, while 3rd and 4th place holders get a second chance the week before the final. Having 28 songs in the line-up means the competition has a broad appeal and a wide variety of genres.
This year a whopping 18 of the 28 artists are first-timers in the Melodifestivalen, so expect some new stars to be born, like our favorite Dotter. To balance things off, there are also some real Mello veterans, like Kikki Danielsson and Jessica Andersson. The strongest contenders may however be those who are returning for the second or third time, namely Mariette and Benjamin Ingrosso.
The year’s first preliminary heat takes place in Karlstad and the one getting to start off the proceedings is Sigrid Bernson. Some of you may know her as a professional dancer from Let’s Dance (i.e. the Swedish Dancing with the Stars). Expect an upbeat pop banger with Icona Pop influences and Dirty Dancing references both in the lyrics and the dance moves.
She is followed by John Lundvik, who has one of the finest voices in the competition. His song starts off in the vein of boyband ballads á la Boyz II Men but changes tempo later on. This one should be rather Eurovision-friendly.
Renaida did a stint on Swedish Idol two years back, and brings the most up-to-date musical vibes to the competition. She sounds like something you would hear on the radio right now. You can also expect an energetic dance number to go along with the tune.
Edward Blom is one of the novelty acts of this year, a TV personality who likes to talk, and apparently also sing, about food. So take your cue and head on to the kitchen to pick up some more snacks while he’s on.
Melodifestivalen veteran Kikki Danielsson is participating for the 10th(!) time and has actually two victories under her belt from earlier years. She brings country sounds to the stage, telling her own life story. I like my country more upbeat, but she will surely have her supporters.
Melodifestivalen shows they are on the pulse of what people are listening to in Sweden, as they bring on Norwegian artist Kamferdrops to the competition after her huge summer hit with a cover of Kikki Danielsson‘s Jag trodde änglarna fanns. Swedish people have taken a liking to her updated schlager sound, but I fear her song sounds just too similar to her radio hit, with the saxophone and the dansband vibes. But the show is sure to be a favorite with the kids.
The clear favorite of the first heat is Benjamin Ingrosso, who did very well in his Mello debut last year securing a fifth place in the final. You can look forward to something soft, soulful and sensual… And we hear his number is visually effectful. Plus the boy sure can dance – he actually went and won Let’s Dance in 2014 with none other than Sigrid Bernson, who he now gets to face against in this Mello heat.
Featured photo: Janne Danielsson/SVT
Other photos: Nina Uddin