2 Dec 2023
Melodifestivalen 2023 – Did they save the best for last?
Festivals Music News

Melodifestivalen 2023 – Did they save the best for last?

So we have come to the last of the four preliminary heats of Melodifestivalen and are thus getting the entries from the remaining seven contestants. Eurovision queen Loreen’s return is having ESC fans all hyped up, and for good reason.

Last week saw very expectedly Marcus & Martinus going straight to the final, joined by Paul Rey. But let’s see what we can look forward to this week, beside an appearance by the legendary Carola for an interval act.

1) Kiana – Where Did You Go

The young singer is turning 16 on the night of her Melodifestivalen debut, but she has in fact already won the Swedish people over when she took second place at Sweden’s Got Talent 2021. She is bringing us the main pop girl moment of this year’s Melfest with her very up-to-date take on a contemporary pop banger. The light painting effects executed by the dancers look very cool. Well done all in all, here’s hoping we get to see her in the final.

2) Signe & Hjördis – Edelweiss

These two sisters are granddaughters of Swedish music legend Gullan Bornemark, who is best known for her children’s songs like Gubben i lådan. Their sound is in the realm of folk pop, in a much lighter and brighter way than last week’s Nordman. The lights in their staging are very much matching the atmosphere of the song. One could have wished the sound could steer a bit more towards pop in a similar way like Timoteij did some years back, since this could have used a bit more energy.

3) Smash Into Pieces – Six Feet Under

This year’s one and only token rock band is Smash Into Pieces. To be honest, it is not such a surprise that they would end up participating, seeing as they have already worked with merited Melfest songwriters like Dino Medanhodzic and Anderz Wrethov. This time however, they have turned to other Mello veterans including Joy and Linnea Deb. The song has similar vibes to what Finland’s Blind Channel had great success with at Eurovision 2021, just not quite as catchy and in-your-face. The staging looks like a futuristic computer game, and the masked drummer adds to that aesthetic.

4) Mariette – One Day

Mariette can call herself a Melfest veteran at this point, as she is returning for her fifth time, having gone straight to the final on all her previous attempts. This time her sound landscape sounds very much in the vein of Laleh, and the message is, as always, very positive and hopeful. All of this is in total synch with Mariette’s calm and peaceful aura. The choreo looks nice and the skate ramp staircase provides a nice backdrop. So much so that the cameras could have stayed closer to it for the duration of the song.

5) Emil Henrohn – Mera mera mera

Here we have a musical artist turned viral Tik Tok star (if you haven’t heard Jag är Mamma, you must be kinda old, or not from Sweden)… Emil brings a rather catchy song with a glittery stage show. We had our hopes rather high since the songwriting team includes the amazing pop masterminds Ji Nilsson and Marlene, and this is not bad at all, but it’s still missing that certain something that would make it a real bonafide bop.

6) Axel Schylström – Gorgeous

Swedish Idol alumni Axel Schylström returns to Mello for the second time as an artist. He did however join also last year as a songwriter for Theoz, and wrote on Theoz’s this year’s entry as well. The week’s only ballad is basically well-written, but nothing that would seriously stand out in a Mello final. The message is of empowering self-love, but I feel Axel is pulling the sympathy vote strings a bit too much when bearing all the scars he carries from the extensive burns he got in a fire. And the gospel-ish choir singers forming a circle is a move we’ve seen before.

7) Loreen – Tattoo

The one we have all been building up to for these four weeks is of course Loreen, who has reigned as the Queen of Eurovision ever since her 2012 victory. Her previous return in 2017 didn’t even carry her to the final though (because you couldn’t trust the Swedish app voters to recognize a good thing). But this time we may just have something that people could see as the sequel to Euphoria. The song is total quality through and through, and the sound is very contemporary. Loreen’s vocals are of course amazing live as always. And the visuals are at a whole another level compared with anything we have seen at this year’s Melodifestivalen. So yes, they have indeed saved the best for last, and YES, Loreen is worth all the hype that has surrounded her beforehand. Let’s just hope the audience sees that and votes her through.

All photos courtesy of SVT. Artist portraits: Janne Danielsson. Rehearsal photo: Alma Bengtsson

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