This year at Melodifestivalen, for the first time since the heats were introduced to the contest back in 2002, there’ll be a change to the number of songs competing each week. SVT have reduced it from eight songs per heat to only seven songs. Only seven.
But what does it all mean?!
Well. There’s the obvious fact that it means we now only get 28 shots at hearing an amazing song as opposed to the usual 32. And that’s a massive thumbs down right there. But it also means that we say goodbye to the chance of a song finishing 8th in its heat. That might not sound major, but trust us – it is. Finishing 8th place in your heat is an accolade that has become as legendary as it is humiliating, in the twelve years since its conception. In the new format, finishing last in your heat will mean that you finish 7th. And 7th just doesn’t have the same connotations of doom that 8th does. 8th. Åtta plats. Sist. 8th.
What’s added an extra layer of legend to the dreaded 8th place finish, is that over the years some of the big fan favourites – artists and songs – have ended up causing pearls to be clutched, jaws to be dropped, and hearts to be broken, as they limp in and languish in 8th place on the leader board. And rarely does a year go by where we don’t see an established artist’s career ground to a halt or a new artist’s launch be dead on arrival, thanks to the stigma they must now carry with them forever, of being an 8th place finisher. The shame.
We’ll miss it. Terribly. It’s given us some of our favourite Melodifestivalen songs ever. And so we thought a fitting tribute would be to do a countdown of our Top 20 favourite Melodifestivalen 8th place finishers of all time. For there will be no more (unless of course SVT realise the error of their ways leading into 2016).
Here you are. The 8th place finishers hall of fame and misfortune. And of course, a handy Spotify playlist (containing only 19, not 20 – the shame for one of these artists obviously got all too much)
20 – Jennifer Newberry: ‘Ingenting Ingenting’ (2002)
Quite why anyone thought that Sweden wanted a poor rethread of a song that that Russia had sent to Eurovision two years previously, which itself was a poor rethread of the kind of songs that Swedish producers had been making for Global pop artists a further two years prior to that – was anyone’s guess really. And it was only ever going to end one way. Badly. So badly that it polled one of the lowest number of votes for any song in recent Melodifestivalen history. But we’re a sucker for this particular type of pop music. So ‘Ingenting Ingenting’ has a place reserved in our hearts.
19 – Pandora: ‘You’ (2003)
After having a string of hits and selling shedloads of albums in the 90s, Pandora took the plunge and finally entered Melodifestivalen in 2003. What a coup for SVT! Unfortunately for Pandora though, they placed her in the same heat as a lot of their other coups that year. Alcazar’s first entry, Sanna Nielsen’s breakthrough hit, and the contest’s eventual winner and Eurovision 5th place finisher ‘Give Me Your Love’ by Fame. And all three were songs in the same genre to ‘You’ too. Votes were cannibalised, cancelled out, and so there was always going to be one loser. And that was Pandora – whose star has never quite recovered.
18 – Simone Moreno: ‘Aiayeh (The Music of the Samba)’ (2006)
This is the sound of Gloria Estefan opening up a Nando’s restaurant in Stockholm. Or rather, Leksand in this case. This song had every latino pop cliché you could imagine – even Geri Halliwell would have blushed. It’s an enjoyable listen though, despite the fact that you’ve heard everything about it a million times before.
17 – EKO: ‘Red’ (2014)
We’re not the biggest fans of having competition winners enter Melodifestivalen. But these guys were probably the best of the lot since SVT started all that carry-on in 2010. ‘Red’ was a brilliantly produced electropop number that probably would have done a lot better outside the context of the contest (and certainly without that aforementioned stigma of finishing 8th now attached to it). It was never going to win a competition like Melodifestivalen. It was probably never going to reach the final either. But it was very unfair that it had to finish last.
16 – Janet Leon: ‘Hollow’ (2014)
After earning a lot of good will the year before with the Agnes-lite ‘Heartstrings’ finishing an oh-so-close 5th in its heat, it seemed fair to invite her back the following year to exact revenge. All good ideas so far. But then they decided to lump her with a dramatic ballad instead of the disco-schlager that we ALL wanted from her. It came in last, caused the WHOLE album of Jörgen Elofsson songs that she’d recorded to be canned, and essentially killed her career stone dead in Sweden. She’s just moved out to LA. Good luck out there Janet – and please don’t let ‘Hollow’ be the last time we ever hear that voice of yours.
15 – Elisabeth Andreassen: ‘Vaken i En Dröm’ (2011)
By 2011 it was pretty evident – old schlager legends performing big schlager ballads just wasn’t cutting it anymore (just ask Shirley Clamp, further up the list!). So this was never really gonna go anywhere for Elisabeth. And seemed to serve one purpose and one purpose only – an elaborate advert for her latest Greatest Hits collection. The Swedes saw through it and voted it into 8th place – allowing Babsan to finish above her. We liked it though. Obviously. It’s a gorgeous song with an incredibly complicated melody.
14 – Anna-Maria Espinosa: ‘Innan Alla Ljusen Brunnit Ut’ (2010)
It’s always a huge risk when an already credible and successful artist goes and enters Melodifestivalen for the first time. Especially given that they’ve always managed just fine without it. But with a song this good, all involved must have assumed that the risk was minimal. But no. All of Anna-Maria Espinosa’s fans must have been out that night. At jazz clubs. Which is probably where Anna-Maria wishes she had have stuck to that night too.
13 – Maja Gullstrand: ‘Här För Mig Själv’ (2009)
Where to even start with this odd ODD song. Shall we start with its odd ODD performance? No, let’s not. This song didn’t really grab us at the time (did it grab anyone at the time?). But over the years its charm has eventually proven to be absolutely undeniable. Composed by two writers who have won Eurovision for Sweden TWICE – one being behind ‘Euphoria’, the other behind ‘Take Me To Your Heaven’. How they came up with this is, the mind boggles. But we’re so glad that they did – and that it somehow found itself competing in Melodifestivalen.
12 – Cecilia Vennersten: ‘Var Mig Nära’ (2005)
WHAT a fall from grace. Not only did she finish in second place at Melodifestivalen 1995 with ‘Det Vackraste’, but that song has gone on to become an absolute classic in Sweden. This was supposed to be her big return to the MF stage. But to put into perspective how hard she flopped – Pay TV’s ‘Refrain Refrain’ finished in 7th, one place above her, with more than DOUBLE the votes. Fucking hell.
11 – Evan: ‘Under Your Spell’ (2006)
“Was it something I said? Was it something I did? Was it something I….BOOM….never had?” We’d say it was none of the above Evan, dear. You did good here. And we’ll never know why Sweden didn’t fall under your spell. This was as camp as a wet dream about Linda Bengtzing.
10 – Regina Lund: ‘Rainbow Star’ (2007)
A case of life imitating art, the actress who played the diva protagonist from the Livet är en Schlager film, ended up reprising the role in her own life. Things went a little differently for her to how they went in that film though. And despite a genuinely amazing song and an ‘interesting’ performance, no one was all that interested. We loved it though. And to you Regina, we say this: “Du är perfekt……PRECIS som du är”.
09 – The Nicole: ‘Razborka’ (2008)
In terms of HOT MESS, this one raised the bar, set it at an unprecedented height, and then pole-danced around it. And no one’s touched it since. What a song, what a vocalist, and WHAT a performance. In fairness to ‘Razborka’, it was ahead of its time. No, seriously! A year later, the whole Swedish-comedy-pokes-fun-at-Russian-culture schtick became the interval act of the 2009 final, and ended up spending a MONTH at the TOP of the Swedish singles chart. Poor trailblazing Nicole Fuentes – a victim of her own artistic foresight.
08 – Face-84: ‘Alla Gamla X’ (2008)
A fresh faced dansband with a superb song. A combination that would have done the world of dansband music a world of favours. Offering something different to the often jaded genre. But no – SVT had to put them in the same heat as the first Melodifestivalen appearance of the biggest dansband star of all time, Christer Sjögren. That vote was only ever gonna go one way. And so it happened – Christer Sjögren DIREKT to the final, Face 84 finishing SIST.
07 – Shirley Clamp: ‘Med Hjärtat Fyllt Av Ljus’ (2009)
We don’t know which was the biggest fall from grace here – the almighty Shirley Clamp returning from almost winning in 2004 and 2005 to finishing in 8th place in her heat in 2009, OR the live vocal during the key change. It’s a tough one. But it’s ended up as the most shocking 8th place moment that’s ever happened. Ouch. We can barely talk about it five years later – the wounds have yet to heal. Give us another five years please.
06 – Susanne Alfvengren: ‘Du Är Älskad Där Du Går’ (2009)
Widely regarded (by us) as the strongest Melodifestivalen heat OF ALL TIME, this song had pretty much no choice but to finish in 8th place when it competed in Heat 4 of 2009. Faced with Agnes, Sarah Dawn Finer, Star Pilots, Thorleifs, Anna Sahlene & Maria Haukaas Storeng, and not to mention the eventual contest winner Malena Ernman – this beautiful song bowed beneath them all with great dignity.
05 – Manda: ‘Glow’ (2014)
Sometimes you just don’t understand how a song could have finished in 8th place. There is no rationale, no rhyme, no reason. This is one of those cases. The song, the vocal, and the performances – all ON POINT. ‘Glow’ – you’re incredible as you are….don’t you know, don’t you know.
04 – Arja Saijonmaa: ‘Vad Du än Trodde Så Trodde Du Fel’ (2005)
Come back to Melodifestivalen after almost 20 years away and after delivering one of the most iconic Swedish pop songs of all time, they said. Have this brilliant song, they said. It’s called ‘Om Natten’, they said. Oh hang on, they said. Don’t have ‘Om Natten’, they said. We have to give it to Jessica Folcker or else she won’t compete, they said. Have this equally amazing song here instead, they said. THEY LIED. But brave battle-axe Arja soldiered on with what she was given regardless. And gave us a truly spellbinding spectacle on stage. It’s one which has been engraved on our eyes, our ears and our hearts ever since.
03 – Mimi Oh: ‘Det Går För Långsamt’ (2012)
Our Meem delivered one of the best songs of the 2012 contest – and bear in mind this is the year that gave us ‘Euphoria’. For some unfathomable reason though, SVT put nearly half the pop quota of the entire contest into one heat. It’s almost as if they really wanted one song in particular to stand out in the final! Anyway – in Heat 2 the pop votes were inevitably split, and so barely distributed amongst the sacrificial pop lambs. Of which Mimi was the unluckiest.
02 – Verona: ‘La Musica’ (2007)
Verona had a hit the year before with a similar sounding track. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ‘La Musica’ is exhilarating, flawless pop. But why on Earth would the Swedes want to send a song in Italian to represent them at Eurovision?! Now that Italy are back in the contest themselves however, they need to be getting on the phone to Sweden and asking Verona’s plans for May 2015.
01 – Dilba: ‘Try Again’ (2011)
Super successful singer/songwriter makes a long overdue comeback. Gets paired with an almighty dancepop banger. Perhaps the Swedish public thought the two didn’t belong together. Christ, even Dilba herself looks like she never got fully on board with the marriage. But they were all wrong. This is one of the best things that pop music and indeed television has ever given us.