In case you haven’t understood it as yet, Melodifestivalen is a BIG DEAL in Sweden . Last year’s final was the most watched TV programme of the year, all categories, with almost 3,8 million viewers (of a 10 million population). In comparison, the Eurovision Song Contest final – with a Swedish winner – “only” had 3,3 million viewers.
The travelling circus, with preliminary heats held in different towns around Sweden, is now celebrating it’s 15th year. That change of format made the Melodifestivalen more popular and broadened it’s appeal when a larger number of songs were brought to the public eye each year, and thus more variety of genres was introduced instead of or in addition to the traditional schlager.
This year we have once again four preliminary heats with seven competitors in each. But just two days ahead of the first heat we had quite a bit of Mello-drama, as Anna Book‘s song was disqualified from the competition. The song-writers had sent the same melody to Moldavia’s Eurovision qualifications back in 2014. They had been told they did not make the cut to the final, and therefore thought the song was still eligible to use for Melodifestivalen, which has strict rules that the songs competing must not have been made public prior to the competition. Turns out the Moldavians had published their top 40 contestants online and once Anna’s song (with lyrics by Nordic Noir novelist Camilla Läckberg) was heard in rehearsals, somebody put two and two together and reported the song. Anna is said to be devastated about all this, but she will in any case be making an apperance during the first heat, as a guest artist outside of the competition,
So the first heat in Gothenburg brings us six contestants vying for a spot in the final. (Disclaimer: the following comments are based on only having heard snippets of the songs).
We have Samir & Viktor opening with an adolescent party banger about skinny-dipping at Sergels Torg. You can expect this to be a sommarplåga that will be played by truckloads of students when they celebrate leaving school. I don’t expect many redeeming qualities as far as the music goes, but some might enjoy the bare-chested young men getting wet on stage. Still a strong contender to go directly to the final.
We also have Pernilla Andersson doing what she always does, soft and melodic singer-songwriter type of fare, which doesn’t seem very inspiring. And we have Mimi Werner with an uptempo country pop tune including a nice banjo sound. She seems to have more energy than I expected having heard her more low-key country balladeering. Not so impressed with her choice of outfit for the final, though.
Albin & Mattias are joining with another of their now formulaic songs with Albin rapping and Mattias singing the melodies. Not sure yet if their number will lift off to be strong enough. Robin Bengtsson sounds surprisingly good and looks dapper in his outfit. The harmonica is a nice touch which just might give the song the necessary boost. Otherwise it sounds pretty close to many pop songs currently playing on the radio (which is not a bad thing in my book).
Going out last is our given favorite Ace Wilder, who promises a proper show number worthy of Eurovision. The song is filled with several hooks and all kinds of funky beats. And it doesn’t hurt that the dancers are just spot on. Ace returns to the competition as a definite favorite for the final or even the victory crown, after coming in at a very close second place to Sanna Nielsen two years ago as a virtual unknown to the big masses (but already a favorite of yours truly).
So it’s #TeamAce all the way for my part. 😉 Don’t worry it’s allright..
PS. Be sure to download the Melodifestivalen app (available in the app stores for iOS, Android and Windows Phone), which gives you up to five free votes on each contestant. This time you don’t have to give the app votes while the song is playing – which will hopefully help avoid the fiasco the app voting ended up being last year.
LINK to watch online, Saturdays at 8 pm starting from 6th February until 12th March: