Over the past five weeks we’ve been covering Sweden’s biggest music and TV event of the year. And this Saturday it all culminates in the big final of Melodifestivalen. Where twelve songs compete, and after a jury vote and a public televote, one will earn the title of winner. Oh yeah – AND end up heading off to Eurovision to represent Sweden. But Melodifestivalen is even bigger than Eurovision in Sweden, so that’s a bit of an after-thought sometimes.
Regular readers will be well aware of the songs and the performances already. But even if you’re new to it all, there’s a lot to enjoy here. And we’ve done a quick introduction of the twelve songs – and their chances – below.
The contest is a different monster to how it was even five years ago, and almost unrecognisable to how it was ten years ago. The infamous schlager music genre is absent from the line-up of twelve songs – something which would have been inconceivable up until recently. And in its place are ten radio-ready hit singles, and a couple of novelty numbers. Most of the songs here (if not all of them) could give Sweden or any other country a top ten placing at Eurovision, and roughly half of them could realistically go on and win the whole thing. The same number therefore have genuine European hit potential. And in Sweden all twelve can currently be classed as hit singles – with all of them currently in the Swedish Top 30 Spotify streaming chart, alongside hits from around the rest of the world by Rihanna, Lukas Graham, Zayn, and Bieber.
As much as we love Linda Bengtzing and After Dark (and we really REALLY do), it’s hard to miss them when the Melodifestivalen final line-up is as strong as it is this year. A niche amount of us looked to Sweden’s Melodifestivalen for the schlager gems that we couldn’t get anywhere else in the world. But it’s now offering a lot more people a whole playlist of quality pop music that has an even broader appeal. And it’s difficult to argue with that. Sweden was the best at what it did back in 2006, and it’s the best at what it does right now in 2016.
Right everyone. Here’s some ph’nom pop to wrap your ears around;
Panetoz – Håll Om Mig Hårt
(Jimmy Jansson, Karl-Ola Kjellholm, Jakke Erixson, Pa Modou Badjie, Njol Badjie, Nebeyu Baheru)
WHAT a way to kick off proceedings. A turbo tempo’d party banger that’s wormed its way into our Top 5 faves on the night. Not got a hope in hell of winning, but it’s a very welcome addition to the final. And with an “oj, oj, oj, oj, oj” and a “brap, brap, brap“, a great opener too.
Spotify: 1.6 million streams in 2 weeks.
Lisa Ajax – My Heart Wants Me Dead
(Linnea Deb, Joy Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad, Nikki Flores, Sara Forsberg)
It’s a shame that this one has been buried at the start of the line-up. If the rest of Europe were going to look to Sweden for the next Zara Larsson-esque hit, they’d really need look no further than here. But in ten songs’ time, it might struggle to be remembered. It’s an enormous grower, this one. So much so that it’s grown to become one of our favourite songs of the year so far, not just in this contest.
Spotify: 1.5 million streams in 2 weeks.
David Lindgren – We are Your Tomorrow
(Anderz Wrethov, Sharon Vaughn, Gustav Efraimsson)
An Axwell /\ Ingrosso sound-a-like has made its way into the hands of a senior cast member of a musical theatre production. And he’s performing it with the OTT enthusiasm you would expect from someone who can’t quite believe they’re here. Understandably. Sweden inexplicably voted this straight to the final. But they won’t be voting for it to represent them at Eurovision. A safe bet for the bottom three on Saturday night.
Spotify: 830,000 streams in 2 weeks.
SaRaha – Kizunguzungu
(Anderz Wrethov, Sara ”SaRaha” Larsson, Arash Labaf)
This is ‘Waka Waka’ with a key change whack’d whack’d onto it. And that sounds even better than you’d imagine. It’s unlikely to come out as the winner on Saturday night, but it’s VERY popular with the kids. And it’s the young ‘uns who are most likely to be influencing the heavily weighted app vote on Saturday night.
Spotify: 2.3 million streams in 3 weeks.
Oscar Zia – Human
(Oscar Zia, Victor Thell, Maria Smith)
Mid-tempo anthemic number which packs quite a visual punch on stage. The last time Oscar Zia competed in a Melodifestivalen final (2014), he found himself languishing near the bottom. But he’s a more mature performer now with a more mature sound, and an off-stage narrative connected to the lyrics (he’s recently come out as gay) which will be known to most people watching on Saturday night.
Spotify: 1.5 million streams in 2 weeks.
Ace Wilder – Don’t Worry
(Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad, Ace Wilder, Behshad Ashnai)
Our favourite of the lot. ‘Don’t Worry’ is a European hit waiting to happen, and the performance of it is of Eurovision winning calibre. It’s not been doing as well as some of the others on Spotify, but we reckon that once Swedes are reminded of the performance visuals on Saturday night, it’ll overtake a lot of the songs that have been performing better than it on the charts. It’s a worthy winner. And she’s got so much potential to cross over as an international popstar.
Spotify: 1.2 million streams in 2 weeks.
Robin Bengtsson – Constellation Prize
(Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström, Mark Hole, Martin Eriksson)
Arguably the most contemporary of the mid-tempo songs in the line-up, if anything is going to cause an upset to the big favourite (more on him further down…), it’s this one.
Spotify: 2 million streams in 2 weeks.
Molly Sandén – Youniverse
(Molly Sandén, Danny Saucedo, John Alexis)
The biggest name in the line-up, and with the most hits behind her. She was the big favourite before the contest started, but she’s lost nearly all of that momentum now. ‘Youniverse’ will most likely give Molly the best result she’s had in a Melodifestivalen final so far, but it’s an unlikely winner. It’s come in for some stick for its similarities to past Melodifestivalen winner ‘Euphoria’, but we think it’s different enough to be enjoyed in its own right. And we have been for the past couple of weeks.
Spotify: 1.8 million streams in 2 weeks.
Boris René – Put Your Love on Me
(Boris René, Tobias Lundgren, Tim Larsson)
An infectiously upbeat and soulful pop number that will go down well on the night. Not so well that it wins. But well enough to mean that he’ll be invited back next year. If he can find time in his career as a professional footballer to fit another year in!
Spotify: 1.5 million streams in 3 weeks.
Frans – If I Were Sorry
(Oscar Fogelström, Michael Saxell, Fredrik Andersson, Frans Jeppsson Wall)
The clear favourite. Who most likely can’t be beaten. Sweden has fallen in love with this 17 year old dude and his simplistic love song with a twist. Another hugely contemporary number in Saturday’s final, that could translate very well into Europe. Which it will most likely be given the chance to.
Spotify: 4.5 million streams in 2 weeks.
Wiktoria – Save Me
(Jens Siverstedt, Lauren Dyson, Jonas Wallin)
Newcomer Wiktoria charmed her way into the final with this country-pop song. Like Frans, most of Wiktoria’s song’s charm lies in its simplicity. And we’d love to see ‘Save Me’ give ‘If I Were Sorry’ a run for its money on Saturday night. Its place in the running order means that it might just do that too.
Spotify: 1.3 million streams in 2 weeks.
Samir & Viktor – Bada Nakna
(Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Anderz Wrethov)
The novelty entry of the night. These boys aren’t here to win Melodifestivalen, they’re just here to score another MEGA sized hit. Which they’ve already managed. ‘Bada Nakna’ will probably end 2016 with more Spotify streams than any other song here apart from the Frans favourite. But the Swedes won’t vote for it to represent them at Eurovision. It’s essentially a football chant produced by AronChupa. A lot of fun to watch (and to watch them have the time of their lives performing it). But Sweden takes Eurovision far too seriously for this song to be any sort of a contender.
Spotify: 8 million streams in 5 weeks.
Wherever you are in the world, you can watch the whole two hour show live on Saturday night at 7pm UK time, over on svtplay.se. And you can listen to all 28 of this year’s Melodifestivalen entries on this Spotify playlist.