It’s back! Heat 1 will be broadcast on SVT this Saturday at 8pm local time, and over on svtplay.se for the rest of the world – 7pm UK time.
For the first heat, we have eight songs from some pretty massive established names, and some quite exciting new names. Most of them have some experience of being on the receiving end of a favourable televote. And they all have the backing of some high calibre songwriting talent. We’re hugely positive about this week, and about the whole contest in general this year.
On Thursday night you’ll be able to watch 1 minute clips of that day’s rehearsals. And then on Saturday afternoon you’ll be able to listen to the studio versions of each song. All over on SVT’s Melodifestivalen website.
In the meantime though, here’s all you need to know about the eight artists competing in this week’s heat, and their songs;
1. YOHIO – To The End
Songwriters: YOHIO, Andreas Johnson, Peter Kvint, Johan Lyander
Last year’s “people’s winner”, as he received the most televotes from the public in the final, but was marked down by the juries. So thank goodness for those juries, eh? In the heats however, it’s all down to a public vote. So YOHIO will no doubt be the favourite from this heat to go straight through to the final. According to YOHIO, ‘To The End’ is a little more mature than last year’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. He describes it as grand, epic, and big. Three of our favourite words used to describe a pop song. Let’s hope YOHIO doesn’t make them three of our least favourite on Saturday night. Somewhat interestingly, YOHIO will be up against the songwriters with whom he composed ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. They wrote Ellen Benediktson’s song. And this time around YOHIO has enlisted, amongst others, Andreas Johnson as a songwriter. We didn’t like ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, we liked the audio abomination of the accompanying album even less, but for some reason or another, we do actually think that we’re gonna like ‘To The End’ a great deal more. Why would he bother coming back if it wasn’t a little bit amazing?
2. Mahan Moin – Aleo
Songwriters: Mahan Moin, Anderz Wrethov
A song title that’s a made up word. ‘Aleo’ stands for strength and togetherness, says Mahan. We’re expecting this to be a big, up-tempo show number. Firstly because of the pictures of the rehearsals that Mahan has been uploading to her Facebook page, and secondly because of her pre-contest single that she released this month, ‘Man Ba To’. So a world away from the last time Mahan was featured on Scandipop then. She came 3rd on Persian Pop Idol a few years ago, but it’s fair to say that her profile is quite minimal in Sweden. With Anderz Wrethov on board as a songwriter though, we’re expecting an energetic party track infused with international flavours – the kind of thing the Swedish public always seem to like in Melodifestivalen. Remember how big ‘Jalla Dansa Sawa’ was last year? And even ‘Gosa’ managed to finish as bafflingly high as fifth in its heat.
3. Linus Svenning – Bröder
Songwriter: Fredrik Kempe
A young chap responsible for his own fame, building up a loyal following via his YouTube channel. On it, for the last few years he’s been singing his own versions of other people’s songs – and being very good at it too. He’s also been performing his own songs, one of the biggest being a tribute to his brother who passed away a few years back. Step forward Melodifestivalen songwriting legend Fredrik Kempe, with a song that translates as ‘Brother’ in English – and you’ve got a recipe for a touching tribute that’s likely to bring a lot of Sweden to tears, and a few more to pick up the phone to vote for him. It’s something a little bit different for Melodifestivalen and we’re not cynical about it at all. Or at least we weren’t until a few weeks ago when Linus released his pre-contest single – called…….wait for it……‘Pappa’. Come on now mate, we know you’ve got more to you than that. ‘Bröder’ is described as a rock ballad. And could well turn out to be the surprise winner of the heat. Unless it’s shit of course.
4. Elisa Lindström – Casanova
Songwriter: Bobby Ljunggren, Jimmy Jansson, Ingela ”Pling” Forsman
As part of her Dansband Elisa’s, she’s already been responsible for two of the greatest Melodifestivalen songs that never were. So she’s a welcome addition here naturally, and the one we’re most looking forward to in this heat, if not the whole competition. Described by some as an up-tempo pop song, and by another as the sort of thing that Linda Bengtzing normally enters with, colour us extremely hopeful. The archetypal smiley girl next door recently won Körslaget, and prior to that won Dansbandskampen (RIP) with her old band. So we know that Sweden has a habit of picking up the phone to vote for her. The big question is though, do they still vote for this kind of music? It seemed like SVT spent last year’s Melodifestivalen insinuating that they kind of don’t. So we hope that Elisa steps up to the plate to prove them all wrong. It’s Rädda Schlagern all over again!
5. Alvaro Estrella – Bedroom
Songwriters: Jakke Erixson, Jon Bordon, Kristofer Östergren, Loren Francis
It worked out pretty well for Anton Ewald last year, so here’s this year’s back up artist turned main artist. Although Alvaro has already earned his stripes as a singer, having performed on Rix FM tours and had a short lived career as a popstar under the moniker Estello. He describes ‘Bedroom’ as a popfest. Amazing. We’ve heard that it’s pure filth, so there’s that to look forward to too. We think he may have found himself in an unfortunate heat though, with most of the young girls voting already being enamoured with YOHIO, and a lot of the rest becoming curious about the swoonsome Linus Svenning. Having said that though, songwriter Jakke Erixson has been responsible for some corkers over the last few years. Kristofer from Melody Club is on board as a composer too.
6. Ellen Benediktson – Songbird
Songwriters: Sharon Vaughn, Johan Fransson, Tim Larsson, Tobias Lundgren
A new artist who is here solely because of how much she impressed Christer Björkman with her vocal, when she acted as a stand-in at last year’s Eurovision Song Contest. She has a veritable army of amazing songwriters behind her, partly responsible for everything from ‘Release Me’ by Agnes, to ‘Elektrisk’ by Anniela. However, she describes the song as pretty, stripped down, fragile, and melancholic. And in Melodifestivalen terms that usually translates into 8th place. It may well turn out to be a grower, but that description certainly doesn’t cry show-er, does it?
7. Sylvester Schlegel – Bygdens son
Songwriter: Sylvester Schlegel
The man from The Ark, so in that sense he’s a former Melodifestivalen winner. He describes the song as his life story in three minutes, accompanied by a tempo that’s as frantic as such a tale would require. The fanbase of The Ark should never be underestimated. Although how favourably they’ll respond to Sylvester perhaps depends on how similar his song sounds to his former band. According to the man himself, it’s just as strong as anything in their back catalogue.
8. Helena Paparizou – Survivor
Songwriters: Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström, Karl-Ola Kjellholm, Sharon Vaughn
From a Melodifestivalen winner to a Eurovision winner. Helena Paparizou won the whole thing for Greece in 2005 with ‘My Number One’. And then scored a massive hit in Sweden with the follow-up single ‘Mambo’. Subsequent attempts to make her appeal to the Swedish public have been lukewarm though. She was voted off quite early in the Swedish version of Strictly Come Dancing last year. And despite releasing stellar pop moments like ‘Baby It’s Over’ and ‘Save Me (SOS)’, and actually visiting Sweden to promote them, she’s not had a hit single since those few years that followed 2005 in which she could bask in the glory of her Eurovision win. It’s no secret that Christer Björkman has been trying to secure her for Melodifestivalen for many years now. But we wouldn’t be surprised if she crashed out in her heat. If she’s going to progress any further, it’ll more likely be down to the talent of those legendary schlager songwriters that have provided the song, rather than her own star quality which has (unfortunately) been on the wane for some time now. ‘Survivor’ is a mid-tempo pop track about empowerment. And she has an album ready to be released when it’s all over (which will hopefully be later for her rather than sooner).