The travelling music extravaganza has been going on for five weeks already, and now it’s time for the big final of Melodifestivalen!
Melodifestivalen is kind of a big deal. It may be the Swedish qualifications round for the Eurovision Song Contest, but it is so much more – and it is bigger than Eurovision here, by viewer count or by any other measurement.
Saturday brings us the big final with 12 songs competing – a mixed bunch from a boyband to Sami traditions and from a pop princess to schlager veterans.
Here’s our low-down of the finalists. (Click on each artist / song title to hear the song.)
Who’s this then? We have a reality TV star and a fashion blogger, who both have a bigger Instagram following than any of the real singers in the competition. They already have a summer hit called Success under their belt from before, though.
What about the song? Obviously these Internet Age pop stars are not expecting rock star treatment and overzealous groupies hanging around backstage. No, they are looking forward to having a bunch of people flocking around them taking group selfies. The music itself hasn’t got many redeeming qualities, it’s basically the boys chanting and going Oy, Oy, Oy. Earworm material of the less pleasant kind.
Any chance of success? They are up there vying for the youth vote, of course. And this song has been getting more Spotify play than any other Mello song (granted it’s been out longer than most other finalists). But no, it won’t be competing for top positions.
Who’s this then? A boy band consisting of three brothers: John, Tom and Robin. They are Swedish, but went and got their breakthrough on the Australian X Factor in 2013.
What about the song? Cheery up-tempo boyband pop, with a bit of a rap section and over-the-head claps and oh-oh-ohs thrown in for good measure. Nothing out of the ordinary that would stand out from the rest of the genre.
Any chance of success? They got through to the final on the teen votes, lacking competition in that category in their original heat. But in the final they are facing many others fighting for the hearts of the same demographic.
Who’s this then? Dinah Nah has been singing Euro House in Caramell (whom you’ve most likely never heard of) and released a couple of solo singles (the latest one, Like You, through YLC’s favourite pioneering record label 100 Songs).
What about the song? This is an energetic and enthusiastic three minutes of electronic pop that will make you want to get off your sofa and move.
Any chance of success? This one is a bit difficult to predict, but the song should be able to do relatively well with both the audience and the international juries.
Who’s this then? Adopted from Colombia to the Swedish Lapland, Jon Henrik had his huge breakthrough in Sweden’s Got Talent 2014, which he went on to win with his emotional back story and music based on the Sami people’s joik traditions.
What about the song? It continues with Jon Henrik’s formula for success, combining traditional joik with modern sounds.
Any chance of success? This man and his music are hugely popular with the Swedish people, so he can be expected to be in contention for top positions. The international juries might be harder to please, though.
Who’s this then? A veteran of many Melodifestivalen competitions and even a winner and thereby Sweden’s ESC entry in 2003 as part of the duo Fame.
What about the song? This is the only ballad in the final, which is a shame, since Kristin Amparo had such an amazing song in I See You, which inexplicably failed to make the finals. Jessica’s ballad is pretty forgettable, had to listen to it when writing this to remind me how it actually went.
Any chance of success? The fact that this song made it straight to the finals from the first heat can probably be blamed on the new voting app, with which people can ‘vote with their heart’. At least Molly Pettersson Hammar who was first out was a clear casualty. Jessica’s song will most likely end up in the bottom of the pile in this final.
Who’s this then? The hunky boy-next-door is well-known and loved by the audience, starting from his participation in Idol in 2005 and his win in Let’s Dance (Dancing with the Stars) in 2006. He’s also participated in Melodifestivalen twice before and hosted the hugely popular Allsång på Skansen.
What about the song? This is without a doubt one of the strongest entries in the competition, much in the same vein as recent world-wide hits by the likes of Avicii. The co-writers are Joy and Linnea Deb, who were behind Ace Wilder’s Busy Doin’ Nothin’ and Robin Stjernberg’s You.
Any chance of success? This is the most likely candidate to win the whole thing, and definitely a big favourite with wide appeal to many parts of the audience.
Who’s this then? Linus made his breakthrough in last year’s Melodifestivalen with an emotional song for his dead brother. Before that he had gained a following on YouTube with his covers.
What about the song? Linus has switched to singing in English and the song is an up-tempo drum-banging anthem type of thing.
Any chance of success? Not one of the hot favorites to win, most likely somewhere in the middle of the field.
Who’s this then? A 16-year-old future pop princess, potentially of international proportions. Isa is full of energy and has that something special that transmits through the lens.
What about the song? It’s right up there with the American variety of current pop hits ruling the charts. Feel-good pop that really deserves its place in the final and on Spotify playlists.
Any chance of success? Another one appealing to the younger part of the audience. The success may depend on whether the young girls choose to vote for her or for the heartthrobs she’s up against.
Who’s this then? Another veteran of the Melodifestivalen stage, entering for his eighth time. He’s been in the running before with both Barbados and Alcazar, as well as solo.
What about the song? Old school schlager making a bit of a comeback in Melodifestivalen. The song is in the catchy tradition of schlagers with a somewhat updated sound.
Any chance of success? Not a winner, but the song will definitely get its share of votes from friends of the more traditional variety of Swedish schlager this competition has been known for in earlier years.
Who’s this then? Eric has entered Melodifestivalen twice before, and on his second run in 2011 he went on to win with Popular. The strength of the song and the performance took him to third place in the Eurovision Song Contest.
What about the song? It is a catchy affair, not repeating the pattern of his two earlier entries but rather staking out a new path with a great tune in the mould of the current radio hits. There’s also the compulsory saxophone riff and a bit of acoustic guitars thrown in. Pretty much of an earworm chorus too.
Any chance of success? This was one of the favorites in early speculations, but now more of an underdog to Måns Zelmerlöw. But definitely still in the running.
Who’s this then? Many people remember Mariette from her stint on Swedish Idol in 2009. She has also been seen on stages around Sweden recently playing guitar for Ace Wilder and Magnus Uggla. She’s also released some music on the 100 Songs label.
What about the song? This excellent song has been written by Miss Li and Sonny Boy and gets a powerful delivery from Mariette. The message is clear and uplifting, and the performance lifted the whole thing up to epic Eurovision levels.
Any chance of success? When the song went straight to the finals from the second heat, it also went up in winner speculations. There is not as much hype over it now ahead of the final, but it still has a chance of gaining the top spot, if Eric Saade and the other boys lure away enough of Måns Zelmerlöw’s potential voters.
Who’s this then? The senior of the final at 67 years, but still a debutant in Melodifestivalen. Andersson’s genre is a Swedish variant of country.
What about the song? A cross between Swedish dansband and folk music plus some country-infused violins.
Any chance of success? The Swedes loved this enough to vote the song into the final over Kristin Amparo in the Andra Chansen, which was unfathomable to yours truly. But there can be no way they will vote for this to represent Sweden in Eurovision.
All photos by Janne Danielsson / SVT