The Mello season has reached the sixth and final week of touring music entertainment. The final is once again taking place at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, and by Saturday evening we will know who will represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.
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. Nobody else puts this much effort into this and Sweden has had plenty of success. The past eight years have been a very successful streak for Sweden, with two wins and a further four Top5 positions. Last year Benjamin Ingrosso ended up on 7th place.
This year’s qualifications have most likely been affected somewhat by the changes in the app voting, where the audience has been divided into age groups, thus limiting the influence of the youth vote. So maybe we do have more “traditional” content in the final like Arvingarna and Lina Hedlund, but hey, we also have two teenagers in the top 12. The final feels rather strong, and the competition has really brought out the hits, as the Melodifestivalen entries have been populating the Spotify charts and the Sverigetoppen. So Mello has done it’s main job as a hit factory once again.
But now let’s take a look at the finalists!
1) Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken
Jon Henrik’s earlier tally includes a 2nd and a 3rd place finish in Melodifestivalen, as well as a win in Sweden’s Got Talent and on Let’s Dance (Dancing with the Stars). He is very popular with the masses, so we’ll have to give him that. This time for his Northern Lights song, he is bringing in Fredrik Kempe, the songwriter known for his bombastic tunes that many Mello fans love. Beside his traditional Sami jojk, Jon Henrik is also singing more this time. He is sure to get in on the top half of the result sheet, but it doesn’t look like he’s got enough steam to get that win. He may have lost some of his momentum now that Norway is sending a jojk entry to Eurovision.
2) Lisa Ajax – Torn
This is probably the best ballad of the year, and as you may have heard, Loreen was considering doing this song that time when she chose to go with Statements instead and crashed out of the competition (unfairly). Lisa has shown that she sure can belt out the big notes – but she has the dynamics to take it easy as well. Lisa is a previous Idol winner (that year when the loveliest Josefine Myrberg was in top 3) and we of course have to mention the extra bonus points she will get from us for having a Finnish mom. 😉 This is Lisa’s third try in Melodifestivalen – she has been in the final both earlier times, but ended up in the bottom half of the result table. Unfortunately the competition is so strong this year, that she will very likely end up in the lower half again, even with such a strong song.
3) 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, and his mid-tempo pop tune made it straight to the final from a tough heat. The song has been doing well on Spotify as well, so a Top 5 finish is looking very much possible.
4) Lina Hedlund – Victorious
Lina’s first solo effort since Sweden’s favorite disco defenders Alcazar called it quits after dominating their genre for 20 years. The songwriters include YLC’s big favorite Dotter and her fiancée Dino Medanhodzic as well as Melanie Wehbe. The song is catchy and glittery, what else. It was a bit of a pleasant surprise that the tune went straight to the final from its heat, but that may be down to the new age group based voting system. Not expecting the song to be in the top half, but it will bring out the party for the evening amongst ballads and mid-tempo tunes. Ans anyway, what a way to launch that solo career!
5) Bishara – On My Own
One of the very young contestants this year who made it all the way to the final, the 16-year-old Bishara Morad was discovered singing on Instagram and taken under her wings by Idol judge Laila Bagge. He is also backed by Ten Music Group, home of Zara Larsson and last year’s winner Benjamin Ingrosso. Benji is actually in the song-writing team for Bishara’s song along with Markus Sepermanesh, who is responsible for many of Zara’s big bops. Bishara charmed the audiences and took himself straight to the final from the strong fourth heat, which has four entries in the final. Expect him to be in on the fight for top positions.
6) 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 decided to come back to the Mello stage armed with a very strong song. She had to go through the Andra Chansen round, but was clearly the strongest entry of that lot. And going through that route allowed her to gain more radioplay earlier, making her song the number one on the influential Svensktoppen chart. This is the first time any Melodifestivalen song has taken that honour before the final. So all is already forgiven and she has redeemed herself and all that, so she can enjoy her place in the final – and make the Top 5.
7) 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 something of a Hold On part 2, with big choirs, powerful delivery and Hozier influences. While his first entry turned him into a phenomenon, this time around he has not gained the same kind of buzz and the song does not feel as strong. So a bottom half finish is what he is looking at in this strong final.
8) Hanna Ferm & Liamoo – Hold You
To be honest, these two were our favorites already before anybody had heard any of the songs. Hanna and Liamoo have just so much chemistry it goes straight through the lense… Not to mention how ridiculously good they look together. And obviously they have the musical power to back up that promise too. Liamoo, the 2016 Idol winner showed already at last year’s Mello, that he is one to be reckoned with. And Hanna Ferm made a big splash on the 2017 Idol finishing in second place, and most relevantly doing a crazy good duet with Liamoo. They are our Zain and Sia, and would be a very contemporary entry to send to Tel Aviv. And they are looking like they will provide the strongest competition to John Lundvik for that ticket to Eurovision.
9) Malou Prytz – I Do Me
The other one of this year’s very young contestants who made it to the final, at her 15 years of age. Malou has won several talent competitions and caught the attention of the right people with her YouTube covers. She has a strong voice and brings a contemporary pop song, that’s up to date and right on time. None other than Ace Wilder has been involved with the staging, which has taken its cues from 90s cult classic Clueless. One of the songwriters is Isa Tengblad, who has gone on to make some excellent pop on her own after her Melodifestivalen stints. Way to go for making it to the final – You do You, Malou!
10) John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
John Lundvik looks like the strongest candidate to win the whole shebang right now, having been number one on Spotify since all the songs were released. John had his big breakthrough in last year’s Mello with My Turn, finishing third. He has previously been more behind the scenes as a songwriter, and he has not stopped working with that either – this year he is actually one of the songwriters behind UK’s Eurovision entry Bigger Than Us, so he may very well end up competing against himself in Tel Aviv. After last year’s strong ballad, we are now getting a contagious uptempo song with an amazing gospel choir – so let us rejoice!
11) 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 pipes for it, and a pretty amazing water number to go along with it. In basically any other year this could have been a real contender for the crown, but this year it will be tough for her.
12) Arvingarna – I Do
Finishing off the show we have the feelgood dansband song, which is another one of the more traditional entries to make the final thanks to the age groups in voting. The group won Melodifestivalen back in 1993, with their classic Eloise. They have been back to Melodifestivalen several times, but not since 2002. Last year the singer Casper Janebrink went and won the first season of Stjärnornas Stjärna, the competition where singers were competing in many different genres. So it was really no surprise seeing the group in Mello bringing their happy and harmless schlager. So much better than that last year’s comedy dansband, right?
All the photos: Nina Uddin