The first week of Melodifestivalen 2023 saw Jon Henrik Fjällgren with Arc North and Adam Woods going straight to the final as expected. And he will be joined by Tone Sekelius. The next seven contestants are up this Saturday in Linköping. Beside the actual qualification round, we can expect to see Linda Bentzing and Magnus Carlsson do something of a song duel. These two Melfest veterans have both competed a total of eight times previously.
But let’s take a look at who are competing this week!
1) Wiktoria – All My Life (Where Have You Been)
Wiktoria is returning to Melfest for her fourth time, having gone straight to final on all of her previous attempts. She is backed by the song-writing team behind The Mamas’ winning entry of 2020, and the sound is something new for her. The song is a catchy, radio-friendly pop tune of the type that you will find frequently on my own playlists. The number has Wiktoria moving quite naturally with her dancing girls. So what’s not to like… Well, maybe one could have wished for a little something that stood out and made it special, because that is what is required for something to be real winning material.
2) Eden – Comfortable
Eden is a debutant at Melfest and has made her name on TikTok, where she has gained a nice enough following with both original songs and covers. She brings an emotional mid-tempo ballad to the Mello stage, backed up by none other than Lovisa Sjöberg Nordahl on acoustic guitar plus some lovely strings. Unfortunately it feels like Eden’s voice and charisma are not strong enough to really come through the lens.
3) Uje Brandelius – Grytan
Uje is previously know as the singer of the band Doktor Kosmos, who made a name for themselves in the 1990s with humoristic and political themes in their music. He has also released solo material, and his latest album went on to become a theatre play and eventually a movie (Spring Uje Spring), which won the best movie award at Sweden’s Guldbagge gala in 2021. The song he brings to Melodifestivalen is a sweet story of mundane every-day love. The staging is quite clever with Uje (who has Parkinson’s) sitting down for the whole number, but being turned around so the background changes.
4) Panetoz – On My Way
The group from Jordbro of course had their breakthrough with Dansa Pausa back in 2012, and joined Mello in both 2014 and 2016. So it’s been a while, but they are now ready for a comeback with their contagious energy and plenty of fun ethnic vibes. It’s a catchy tune, which will have people chanting along. Despite the song title, the lyrics are mostly in Swedish, except for the chorus. The dance number will surely have people on their feet and the moves are easy enough to be repeated on TikTok.
5) Tennessee Tears – Now I Know
Tennessee Tears is a country-pop duo, who are actually the first artists to be signed on Jill Johnson and Maria Molin Ljunggren‘s new record label. Tilda Feuk and Jonas Hermansson are mixing modern Nashville sounds with Swedish pop sensibilities. They are partly lodged in the same landscape as the very popular folk pop duo Smith & Thell, and this song belongs indeed in the genre that Spotify likes to call Stomp and Holler. The staging feels somewhat distant, they could have tried to conjure up some more chemistry between the pleasant-looking duo.
6) Maria Sur – Never Give Up
Maria Sur had just started getting recognition on The Voice of Ukraine, when the war started and she fled to Sweden with her mother. Once settled here, she made a big impact on a televised charity show raising money for Ukraine. Being there at Avicii Arena to witness when she let it rip to Destiny’s Child‘s Survivor, she made an indelible impression with both her stage presence and her voice. That also helped her land a record deal and a spot on Melfest. The song she brings is a big ballad based on her experiences as a refugee and her yearning for the family members left behind. The delivery is very effectful and will surely wake people’s emotions. Still can’t help but feel it would have been better if they could have let her talent shine with a powerful pop tune instead of riding on the wave of sympathy.
7) Theoz – Mer av dig
Theoz had a good debut at last year’s Melfest, and is back for more right away. He of course made his name on TikTok (already when it was called Musical.ly), so at just 17 years of age he’s already an entertainment veteran. This year’s song is in a similar vein as last year’s Som du vill, but he’s turned up the tempo a bit more, so there’s plenty of room for a great dance number (well, what else would you expect?). The song even has a key-change thrown in, and it doesn’t get much more Melfest than that. And he really looks like he’s having much more fun on that stage than last time around.