fransmolly(photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT)

The last of the four heats, and we’ve now got two more finalists and our last two andra chansers. Next week the Andra Chansen round takes place (and check back here tomorrow for our guide to all of the duels), and we’ll then have our full line-up for the final.

Now. Back to last night.

To the final: Molly Sandén’s ‘Youniverse’, and Frans – ‘If I Were Sorry’
To andra chansen: Dolly Style’s ‘Rollercoaster’, and Panetoz – ‘Håll Om Mig Hårt’

Molly Sandén has been the favourite to win this whole thing ever since her name was announced back in November. So it was no surprise to see her qualify direct to the final last night. What was surprising though, was the song with which she managed to do it. It’s the sort of thing we’d be quite satisfied hearing as an album track on the next Loreen record (if one ever arrives). Not a Melodifestivalen winning Molly Sandén comeback though. We certainly don’t dislike it, and it’s a great addition to the final line-up. But we reckon it’s just that – a part of the final line-up. And as it stands now – such is the quality of the rest of the line-up – we think she’ll be lucky to make it into the top half of the scoreboard on the night.

The breakout star of last night was contest debutante Frans. ‘If I Were Sorry’ is a contemporary radio hit waiting to happen – in whatever territories it’s exposed to. And after last night’s reaction to him, we reckon Sweden knows that all too well, and the competition is his to lose now. He’s number 1 on iTunes (though the real test of popularity will be the Spotify charts tomorrow), and he’s got more than double the amount of YouTube views than any of the other finalist performances that SVT uploaded last night.

Elsewhere on the night Dolly Style headed to Andra Chansen, as they did last year too. And given they’ll be facing Samir & Viktor in their duel, we reckon they’ll be staying in Andra Chansen once more too. Panetoz also progressed to Andra Chansen, with a song that we MUCH preferred to their 2014 finalist. A shame they couldn’t have been rewarded for coming back with an even better song, and making the finals once again.

Hard rock outfit Eclipse crashed out in 5th place – with a song that was for all intents and purposes a schlager banger once you take away all of the rock histrionics. And Martin Stenmarck bowed out in 6th place – with an actually-quite-beautiful-if-rather-dull ballad.

You can check out all of last night’s (and this year’s in fact) performances on SVT’s YouTube channel. And a special mention needs to go to the genuinely quite important interval act – a multicultural tribute to a multicultural Sweden.

Right. Onto 7th place. Dead last…..

Linda Bengtzing. The schlager legend. Last week we spoke out how we don’t believe that schlager music can really compete at Melodifestivalen anymore. That it might now have more of a place merely as an opening act or interval act. It’s entertainment, not credible competition. But we hoped that if anyone could rebuke that theory, it would be schlager music’s most fiery, fearless, relentless, and energetic champion – Linda Bengtzing. With a song she herself described as LINDA. FUCKING. BENGTZING. A hyper, hi-energy schlager belter called ‘Killer Girl’. We can think of no sight in Melodifestivalen history more heartbreaking than that of Linda performing that song for her life, while a grey heart failed to flash on the screen beside her, symbolising the lack of votes that were coming through for it. And so it came to pass – she finished in 7th place. A career low for her, and really an all time low for schlager music.

It’s hard to even be disappointed about it though. We wouldn’t say that we’d swap last night’s scoreboard around, and have Linda Bengtzing finish first and a song like ‘If I Were Sorry’ finish last. One look at the line-up of finalists, and you just can’t deny that Sweden have been very successful in voting actual hit songs into the final this year. It’s going to be a killer show on the night. And even the songs that have progressed to Andra Chansen each week – most of them would make for high achieving Eurovision entries for Sweden or any other country. But it does make us sad that a Melodifestivalen final probably won’t feature a schlager anthem for the next few years – unless it’s a show opener or an interval performance while votes are being cast and counted. The competition has moved on from schlager for now. But we’ll be really heartbroken if Melodifestivalen as a show decides to move on from it too.

Last night we made a comment on Twitter about the app vote needing to go, as it’s become quite clear that there is only one demographic of music fan using it this year. It’s of course not as simple as that, and there’s a lot of second guessing involved. But one only need look at the results this year to see a pattern has developed. Young artists generally do very well. Older artists, particularly those who are appealing to an older fanbase – consistently don’t. Is that solely down to the app? We’ll never know. But it doesn’t look like it’s a level playing field anymore. And if you want proof that there are voting pattern inconsistencies between when an app is used and when a phone vote is used, you only need to look at the voting results of Heat 4 of last year’s Melodifestivalen. Look at how JTR performed in the first round of voting (via the app), and then during the second round of voting (phone votes only). And then compare the number of app votes they received in Heat 4, to the number of votes they received in the final (when no app voting was allowed). A bit odd, isn’t it? There’s something about the integration of app votes that isn’t making this a completely fair competition anymore. Good luck to SVT trying to sort that one out…

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