With X Factor UK approaching its final this weekend and back to its best this series, we were thinking a lot about X Factor Sweden over the past few days. The one and only season of X Factor that aired at the end of 2012. We don’t know what’s more baffling – that it took Sweden so long to get X Factor, or that when it finally did produce a series, it performed so unsatisfactorily in the ratings that it was axed, never to return again. The success of Idol in Sweden has been so big and so consistent, that Idol is now (and always has been) to Sweden what X Factor is to the UK. Which could explain the country’s reluctance to give X Factor a go. But the unenthusiastic reception to it happened during the one year when Idol was temporarily off screens, in 2012.So it’s a bit of a head-scratcher trying to figure out why X Factor was so comparatively unpopular.
The series was hosted by this absolute hottie, the judges panel included Marie Serneholt on the back of her well received turn hosting Melodifestivalen, and the judges houses segment featured guest appearances from “judges friends” E.M.D, one of the Swedish House Mafia (Axwell), and even X Factor UK’s biggest success – Leona Lewis.
Fortunately though, as time has proven, X Factor Sweden did actually succeed in one area. And in the most important area, at that. The one thing it does have in common with Swedish Idol, is that it has produced far more excellent popstars than it has any right to. And two years on, out of only one series, we now have seven noteworthy artists who have each managed to release at least one absolute tune that is a solid nine out of ten and/or above. And that’s pretty good going if you ask us.
X Factor Sweden. Your time here was all too short. But thank you for the moments. Here are your best bits;
JEM: Love Trigger
In the grand tradition of X Factor the world over, Mergime Murati, Jeremie Yumba and Elli Flemström actually all auditioned as solo artists. But when they each faced elimination from the contest, they were told to return and form a group. And so JEM was born. They made the live shows, eventually finishing 4th – the highest placed group. A debut single followed in 2013, ‘Zoom’, but it was Melodifestivalen 2014 that gave them their big breakthrough – with the super charged dancefloor BANGER ‘Love Trigger’. What a tune. Preposterously, they’ve not been given a slot in next year’s Melodifestivalen, despite reaching Andra Chansen this year. So we don’t know where that leaves them for now…
Isak Danielson: Long Live This Love
Finishing 3rd on X Factor, Isak was snapped up by Ten Music Group – the same label behind Icona Pop, Niki & The Dove, and Zara Larsson. At the end of last year they released Isak’s debut single ‘Long Live This Love’, a haunting piano ballad with a jaw-dropping vocal from him. At the time we thought it was them doing for him what they’d done for Zara Larsson with ‘Uncover’. But alas, all we’ve had since from him is a cover of ‘Say Something’. We can’t imagine they’ve completely halted all plans for him though, as that would be ludicrous with a vocal such as his. So we’re expecting much more from him in 2015.
Awa: Not Ready To Say Goodbye
This young lady went on to win the whole show. Her debut single followed a year later at the end of 2013, and was a superb JoJo-esque r&b pop ballad – ‘Not Ready To Say Goodbye‘. Hugely underrated, it never really became a hit for her unfortunately – and we’re still waiting for a follow-up single over twelve months later. We’d be surprised if we didn’t hear from her again though, but even if she’s already retired – she’s at least left us all with a stellar 10/10 pop moment to enjoy for eternity.
Arguably the best vocals to come out of the show. Manda has a voice that WOWs. She finished 7th on the show and of course went on to compete in Melodifestivalen 2014 with the awesome ‘Glow’. But we think that ‘Criminals’ is the best thing that she’s come out with. See also her most recent single ‘Love-a-holic’. Manda – we want more! And while you’re at it put bloody ‘Criminals’ on Spotify please.
Oscar Zia: Ballare Con Me
Finishing 8th on X Factor, he went on to do a lot better on the Swedish version of Strictly Come Dancing. He appeared at Melodifestivalen 2013 as a sidekick to Behrang Miri on ‘Dansa Alla Sawa’, and followed that up with two singles of his own – ‘#Fail‘ and ‘Without You‘. In Melodifestivalen 2014 he competed as an artist in his own right – making the final with ‘Yes We Can’. It’s the Latin flavoured. summer pop anthem, follow-up single ‘Ballare Con Me’ with which he peaked though.
Sabina Ddumba: Scarred For Life
Eliminated at the judges houses point of the series, Sabina never made it to the live shows, and stayed quiet until this year. Now though, she’s got an incredible debut single under her belt, and a very successful one at that. ‘Scarred For Life’ is part of the Swedish soul explosion that blew up this year, and personally we think it’s the highlight of the genre’s output in 2014. Lots of Swedish music fans eagerly await her follow-up single.
Kristin Amparo: Dance Our Tears Away
Another who was left languishing at judges houses, she’s since gone on to feature on this massive hit of summer 2013, ‘Dance Your Tears Away’. Its success was eclipsed however, by her feature on what’s been undisputedly the biggest hit of 2014 in Sweden – ‘Din Soldat’ by Albin. It’s had more streams on Spotify than all of the songs from all of the above put together (!!!). And that’s enough for SVT to have accepted her to compete in Melodifestivalen 2015 as a solo artist, where she’s already one of the big favourites.