Melodifestivalen is upon us, so it’s time to get updated on who’s competing on Sweden’s larger-than-life qualifications for the Eurovision Song Contest.
The 28-song, 6-week extravaganza is by far the most ambitious set-up any country has for Eurovision, and it has borne fruit over the years making Sweden maybe the biggest success story in recent Eurovision history. And we are not just talking about those victories by Loreen and Måns Zelmerlöw and all the Top 10 finishes, but also Swedish songwriters and show producers helping countless entries from other European countries.
This year’s competition brings us once again a great mix of different types of artists and genres. We actually have three previous Mello winners (Anna Bergendahl, Martin Stenmarck and Arvingarna) as well as six earlier second-place finishers – so you can be sure these people are geared for competition. We also have plenty of first-timers including some very young artists like High15, Bishara and Malou Prytz. And well, to balance off the youth, there’s also real veterans like Arja Saijonmaa, Ann-Louise Hanson and Jan Malmsjö.
The voting system has gone through a revamp, as the free app votes will now be divided into seven age groups, each of which has their equal share of the votes. This has been done to counter the criticism that young people have been more eager to vote through the app and have thus had too much influence on the winners. The actual statistics do in fact show that different age groups have voted rather similarly, so let’s see if this changes the dynamics at all.
This year we have a strong team of four hosts (pictured above), who can be expected to deliver on a very high level (provided the scriptwriters are up to task). We have Sarah Dawn Finer, the powerhouse singer and TV host also know for her Eurovision character Linda Woodruff. Then there’s Eric Saade, who has represented Sweden in Eurovision (finishing 3rd in 2011) but is yet unproven as a host. Kodjo Akolor is a well-know radio personality with added props from TV, acting and standup comedy. And then there’s Marika Carlsson, a well-known comedian with experience from hosting gala events.
But now, let’s move on to what you can expect from Heat 1 in Gothenburg.
1) Nano – Chasing Rivers
Nano made his debut at Melodifestivalen in 2017 and took second place in the final, actually being the audience favorite. The song is said to be something of a Hold On part 2, with big choirs, powerful delivery and Hozier influences. This is certainly something that goes home with the masses.
2) High15 – No Drama
The members of this young girl group are 15 and 16 years old, but they have already been at this for a couple of years. The larger audiences were introduced to them in Sweden’s got Talent in 2017. Amie, Lleucu, Alva and Tiana have an upbeat pop song from Joy & Linnea Deb, so our expectations are high on it being a banger. But this is a tough heat and it will likely be difficult for the girls to advance.
3) Wiktoria – Not With Me
Wiktoria is back for a third run after having done very well in both Melodifestivalen 2016 and 2017. This time though instead of energetic country pop, we are getting a big ballad. She does have the voice for it, but let’s see if it has that special feeling and emotion that a ballad needs to do well in the competition.
4) Zeana feat. Anis Don Demina – Mina bränder
Zeana made an impression on Swedish Idol 2016, even though she was voted out way too early on 12th place. Anis Don Demina for his part has been seen together with several other artists, such as Samir & Viktor. This is bound to be the party song of the evening, including beating drums, rap lines and a catchy chorus with those oy-oy-oys.
5) Arja Saijonmaa – Mina fyra årstider
The 74-year-old Finnish icon Arja Saijonmaa has a strong history on the Melodifestivalen as well, finishing second in 1987, and joining again in 2005. Her up-tempo song has some greek influences and a great chorus that will get the friends of traditional schlager going. Expect something much better than what Swedish Mello legends Kikki Danielsson and Charlotte Perrelli have delivered in the past two years. But still not very likely to get ahead…
6) Mohombi – Hello
The Swedish-Congolese artist scored a huge international hit with his Bumpy Ride in 2010/2011 with demon producer RedOne. But he made his Melodifestivalen debut actually a lot before that, in 2005 with his brother, forming a group called Avalon. Getting Mohombi to join Melodifestivalen was quite a welcome surprise, but his mid-tempo pop tune may have difficulties getting further from this tough heat.
7) Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes
This is a very welcome comeback that has been a long time coming. Anna has the rather dubious distinction of being the only Swedish Eurovision entry ever to have missed the final, back in 2010. After that she was pretty much absent from the music scene, concentrating instead on her medical studies. Last year she returned with some excellent new tunes, and now she is back on the Mello stage armed with a very strong song. We are betting all will be forgiven and she can very well go straight to the final.
All artist photos: Nina Uddin
Host photo: SVT / Magnus Ragnvid