The Mello season consisting of six weeks of touring music entertainment from various locations around Sweden is reaching its climax. The final once again takes place at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, and at the end of Saturday’s programme, we will know who will represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest.
As you should know by now, the Swedes take this Melodifestivalen business seriously, and it is much more of an institution than just the qualifications for Eurovision. This is the 60th year Sweden is sending their entry to the ESC (which somehow has not been even mentioned in this year’s Mello so far) and the past seven years have been a very succesful streak for Sweden, with two wins and a further 4 Top5 positions…
This year’s qualifications have included some disappointments, most notably Dotter not qualifying from her heat, despite the obvious quality of her track and being a favorite of the media and the critics. Another disappointment on a more general level has to be the fact that only 4 of the 12 finalists are female. The programme’s non-music content has also been slammed as very haphazard this year. Some people are also saying the songs wouldn’t be as good as earlier years, but let’s face it, 15 of the Mello songs are in the Top 31 of Spotify Sweden as of this writing, so the people are digging these and Melodifestivalen is a total hit factory once again.
But now let’s take a look at the finalists!
1) MENDEZ – Everyday (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Mendez makes a return to Melodifestivalen after 15 years. He had a string of latin-influenced hits in Sweden in the early 2000s, including the amazing Stockholm club anthem Estocolmo! However he has been living in his native Chile for the past 8 years now, becoming a popular reality star with his family and ever running for mayor in his home town Valparaiso.
What about the song? The current latino trend spearheaded by Despacito makes this a very good bet for Mello and Mendez really takes his chance and brings out dance-friendly latin vibes with one of the best choruses of the final. Too bad his vocals aren’t up to match the song material.
Any chance of success? This has been one of the bigger hits on Spotify, so the song should have support from the people. SVT has placed this first in the final, which usually means they don’t have so high hopes for it, but it will get the party started with a bang. I would expect a place in the top half of the competition, but not a win.
2) RENAIDA – All the Feels (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Renaida did a stint on Swedish Idol in 2016, finishing 6th. She has been seen doing music theatre after that (Aladdin). Melodifestivalen is the proper launch of her own pop career.
What about the song? Renaida brings the most up-to-date musical vibes to the final, she sounds like something you would hear on the radio right now. And there is of course a very energetic dance number to go along with the tune.
Any chance of success? Getting the second spot in the starting order already tells you most of what you need to know about her chances – they are rather slim. She did fight her way into the final through Andra Chansen, which may help the people remember her song.
3) MARTIN ALMGREN – A Bitter Lullaby (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Martin is another Swedish Idol alumn, actually the winner from 2015, but I don’t blame you if you had totally forgotten about him before he turned up at Mello.
What about the song? Martin keeps doing the kind of boring middle-of-the-road folk rock that worked well for him in Idol, and it also worked for Chris Kläfford in the latest Idol season – but it doesn’t work for me, sorry. The only redeeming quality about this song is that it is the only one among all the 28 songs that has been written and produced by an all-female team. So thumbs up for that – and let’s see SVT improve those statistics for next year!
Any chance of success? None at all. The people who voted him straight to the final from his heat will find something better among the other finalists.
4) JOHN LUNDVIK – My Turn (click to hear)
Who’s this then? John has so far mostly made his careeer behind other artists, writing songs for the likes of Sanna Nielsen, Anton Ewald and Finland’s boy wonder Isac Elliot. His biggest song writing credit must however be that tune Agnes and Björn Skifs sang at the royal wedding (Victoria and Daniel‘s). He is also the fastest man in Mello, as he’s ran the 100 meters in 10,84 during his sprinter years.
What about the song? John has possibly the finest voice in the competition this year and his song is a rather Eurovision-friendly ballad-type thing with a change in tempo towards the end.
Any chance of success? The audience voted him somewhat surprisingly straight to the final from the first heat, so people clearly like the solid quality of the song. I could also see the international juries liking it well enough. So yes, this can very well be among the top contenders. This year the field is really wide open as there is no clear favorite on top.
5) JESSICA ANDERSSON – Party Voice (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Jessica needs no introduction to the Eurovision and Melodifestivalen nerds, but if you are not one of them, here’s a little something about her. She is participating for the 7th time and has also bagged one win as part of the duo Fame, who were Sweden’s ESC entry in 2003. The Swedes will also remember her winning Let’s Dance (Dances with the Stars).
What about the song? Jessica’s song is updated schlager pop and a grown-up dancefloor filler. It actually sounds rather good, something in the vein of Sweden’s own September. She goes out partying with her other (milf) friends to ‘dance like a mother’…
Any chance of success? She went straight to the final, so the people liked her in this up-tempo number. But to take her positions up a notch, I think her number would need to be made a bit more approachable, so the people would feel they are invited to the party as well. I would expect somewhere around the middle positions.
6) LIAMOO – Last Breath (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Liamoo won the Swedish Idol season of 2016 (same year as Renaida participated). Since winning Idol he has released a few excellent singles and now it is time for him to return to the big stages.
What about the song? Liamoo really has a credible song, on which he gets to both rap and sing, showcasing his versatility. It is right in time with its musical sensibilities. The staging may have been a bit disappointing, but let’s see if they have tweaked it for the final.
Any chance of success? This is definitely one of the front-runners in the competition. Liamoo is full of charisma for such a young man, and it is a huge plus point that he is good at both singing and rapping. This could do well in the Eurovision as well.
7) SAMIR & VIKTOR – Shuffla (click to hear)
Who’s this then? By now I guess I have to call them artists, since this is already their third time in Melodifestivalen and they have made it to the final each time. Samir became known as a reality TV star and Viktor as a fashion blogger. Their songs have been huge Spotify hits and featured on the playlists of every kid celebrating finishing their school in the past few years.
What about the song? Have to admit the song is the best of their three so far and they are actually dancing to a real choreography (must be thanks to Samir’s girlfriend Sigrid Bernsson, who also participated in the Melodifestivalen this year, but is better known as a professional dancer). But anyways, Icona Pop did this thing with 1920s vibes, charleston and saxophone riffs better on their Emergency.
Any chance of success? This has been the most streamed Mello song on Spotify, but that is not directly relatable to the voting behaviour of the Swedish public. The international juries have never really understood Samir & Viktor, so that pretty much ruins their chances.
8) MARIETTE – For You (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Mariette returns to the competition for the third time in the past four years, having taken third and fourth place respectively. She first came to the attention of the public on Swedish Idol in 2009. Before her own career took off for real, she has also been seen playing guitar for the likes of Ace Wilder and Magnus Uggla.
What about the song? The song is a finely crafted pop tune by master songwriter Jörgen Elofsson, who has written for many huge stars like Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, or most recently some amazing tunes for Rhys. However the song doesn’t seem quite as strong and Eurovisiony as her two previous entries (still among the best this year, though).
Any chance of success? Mariette was one of the strongest favorites before anybody had heard the songs, but the momentum hasn’t really been there after she went straight to the final from the last heat. She should do well with the international juries, though, who are basically deciding this whole final, as the free app votes are diluting the audience votes and spreading them very evenly among all candidates.
9) FELIX SANDMAN – Every Single Day (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Felix is known from the boyband FO&O, who did really well in last year’s Melodifestivalen and made it to the final. This marks his first solo release.
What about the song? Felix brings a stripped-down and fragile ballad, which right away brings comparisons to 2016 Melodifestivalen winner Frans in its simplicity. The staging is also simple, drawing most of the attention to the emotional delivery (plus that huge recording mic he’s holding).
Any chance of success? This one had to go through Andra Chansen to make it to the final, but it may actually improve it’s chances of success, as the song has had time to grow on people. This is currently doing best of all Mello songs on Spotify, and also trending strongly in Spotify’s global viral chart. So right now this kind of feels like the strongest winner candidate beside Felix’s label mate Benjamin Ingrosso.
10) MARGARET – In My Cabana (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Poland’s own superstar Margaret was quite a surprise entry to Melodifestivalen, almost the only one the gossip rags had not figured out beforehand. The Polish audience robbed her of victory in her native country in 2016 (when she should have won the whole friggin’ Eurovision). Joining the Melodifestivalen becomes quite obvious when you realize that the people behind her from songwriters and producers to the record label are Swedish. She has also enjoyed previous hits in Sweden.
What about the song? Margaret brings latin vibes, so she could not be more on point and up-to-date on the current music trends. And the people behind the song include Mello veterans like Linnea Deb and Anderz Wrethov. It’s a fun party banger, so who wouldn’t want to go ape with her in that cabana…
Any chance of success? It’s not very likely the Swedish audience will vote a foreigner to represent the country in ESC, but hey – one of the international juries this year is Poland. 😉 This song is already a bona-fide radio and Spotify hit, so it may not matter that much what her place in the final turns out to be, it’s already mission accomplished.
11) BENJAMIN INGROSSO – Dance You Off (click to hear)
Who’s this then? Benjamin did very well in his Mello debut last year securing a fifth place in the final. He really has music and dance in his veins, as his mother Pernilla Wahlgren had her own breakthrough singing in Melodifestivalen 1985, while Benjamin’s father Emilio Ingrosso was her background dancer. Benjamin actually went and won Let’s Dance in 2014 with none other than Sigrid Bernson, who also participated in Melodifestivalen this year.
What about the song? The song is soft, soulful and sensual… And the number with colorful light tubes is visually the most effectful in this year’s competition. The lights really give an extra dimension to Benjamin dancing and singing alone without any background dancers.
Any chance of success? Benjamin has been one of the strongest winning candidates since this year’s artists were announced. He has also done well with streaming and is currently number one in the betting odds to take this one home. So yes, a very strong chance of success and this would look good in Lisbon too.
12) ROLANDZ – Fuldans (click to hear)
Who’s this then? OK, to make a long story as short as possible, Roland was a character in a 1999 comedy movie played by one of Sweden’s most popular actors, Robert Gustafsson. Some genius had the idea of actually putting the band together for the Dansbandskampen game show in 2008, and it was a success. And why did they decide to bring their act to Melodifestivalen now in 2018? Well, best possible publicity on prime-time TV for their up-coming residency at Gothenburg’s Rondo theatre (which was announced a few days before they took the stage in their heat).
What about the song? The song is certainly well-crafted by professionals like the Melodifestivalen veteran Fredrik Kempe. It is in the traditional dansband style that Swedes love. And the stage show is full of glitter and fun for the kids. This is not my kind of humour, though.
Any chance of success? No way the Swedes will vote this as their winner, and the international juries even less so. But Metro UK seems to think it would be great fun to have Rolandz represent Sweden, so they could chuckle at yet another ‘Eurovision moment’ (even though they go on to add that ‘this song is highly addictive, incredibly good fun and looks great on TV’).
Pictures: Janne Danielsson/SVT