12
March
2019

Successful National Finals Must Dream Bigger Dreams Than Eurovision

Successful National Finals Must Dream Bigger Dreams Than Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest’s community regularly praises SVT’s Melodifestivalen as the barometer of all National Finals. Its mere name holds a hallowed place for many because of its sheer scale, its ability to produce more hits than misses at the Song Contest and it transforms all of its artists into household names both in Sweden and across Europe.

It is often cited as the one National Final that our own national broadcasters should emulate… whilst in the next breath criticising it when it fails to give Eurovision fans what they demand.

As international viewers of Melodifestivalen, indeed of all the National Finals that lead up to the Song Contest, I believe we are missing the point.

Anton Ewald once more on the Melodifestivalen stage (Photo: Olle Kirchmeier, SVT)

M. E. L. F. E. S. T.

Many of us tend to forget that the primary reason of Melodifestivalen – or indeed the likes of Sanremo, Festival I’Kenges and Eesti Laul – is about the opportunity for artists to gain exposure in what is one of the most watched programs of the year in each nation.

These shows are not provided to pander to a livestream audience of a few tens of thousands. They exist at a national level, to showcase local talent to a local audience. The successful national final formats are not built around being selected for the Eurovision Song Contest; rather they are about capturing ratings for the broadcaster; the ability to build on production techniques; and create development opportunities and increase sales for the artists. Picking up a ticket to represent the nation at the Song Contest is unlikely to be near the top of the outcome list.

As Aftonbladet’s Tobbe Ek explained on a recent Insight Podcast’s ‘Eurovision Thought’, Melodifestivalen is a success not just because SVT spends money on making a big show. It is a success because it is a nurturing home for artists, it offers something unique to music publishers, and it supports the mainstream media by providing long running celebrity story lines that promote high levels of engagement online, in print, and in broadcast.

Melodifestivalen 2019 saw John Lundvik lift the trophy. That follows on from his debut at Melodifestivalen 2017, arguably an apprenticeship year where the pressure was not necessarily to win, but to get to grips with the circus, to become comfortable as a TV singer and the associated social media intrusions, and build up a specific set of skills.

The vast majority of the Swedish music industry will not release songs from any major act during the first calendar quarter unless its a Melodifestivalen track. That’s the relationship the Swedish show has over the industry. For a quarter of the year, it is the industry.

And don’t forget that the media knows this as well. There is a virtuous circle of music being released, artist promotion, stories in the media, more sales and awareness, more promotion, and so on.  The show has a mutually beneficial relationship with the media.

Do it like Melodifiestivalen‘ is the demand of many fans, but the simple fact is that being a big TV show is not the reason that Melodifestivalen is a success, or why Sweden is on a hot streak at the Song Contest. Melodifestivalen respects the acts, provides a training ground, offers a unique outlet for record labels and has the respect of the media and the public.

You don’t replicate that just by moving your National Selection into a slightly bigger venue with a bit more money.

The view from the back of Friends Arena during the 2014 Melodifestivalen Final

The view from the back of Friends Arena during the 2014 Melodifestivalen Final

Compare And Contrast Two New Formats

Let’s wind the clock back to earlier in the 2019 National Final season to examine the approach of two selection shows. One which was just about selecting a song for Eurovision, and another that was looking towards building a national platform for music alongside the Tel Aviv decision.

The United Kingdom’s ‘Eurovision: You Decide’

Although it kept the moniker of ‘You Decide’ for a fourth year, 2019 saw the BBC scale down its production from a theatre setting to a television studio, as well as introducing a new tactic of having six acts performing three songs.

The songs came first, and were the result of a songwriters camp alongside an open call for submissions. The singers – all alumni of previous TV talent shows – were only approached following the three songs being chosen. A three-person jury was responsible for choosing which was the best performance of each song, before opening it up to the public to make the final choice between three acts.

The inclusion of celebrity juries to act as talking heads means that the focus is lost on both the song and artist. Rather than celebrate the music through the show and then choose a victor, we are forced to listen to others opinions and judge constantly in the same way as we witness many other talent shows.

Count the number of acts who are eager to appear competitively in multiple editions of Melodifestivalen, even though they lost, and compare that to the count of returning acts at You Decide.

You Decide as a model delivered a song and performer to represent the United Kingdom, but the feeling that the show is part of a larger musical and media narrative is not present. The songs were not officially released in their own right for streaming on the major services such as Spotify until early March. With limited promotion on television and radio, there was no ability for the artists to use ‘You Decide’ as a platform to build their career and visibility while they were in the spotlight.

SuRie described her business relationship with the BBC bluntly in an interview with Vice magazine during her time as the UK act for Lisbon 2018:

Back in London, I [Journalist Michael Segalov] brought up the financials of representing Great Britain with SuRie, having assumed there would be a substantial contract and pay package given the workload she has to take on. “I get a one-off fee for the show itself, but that’s it,” she’d told me bluntly. “I just need to survive. If I had a waitressing job they’d have said, ‘Keep your shifts and we’ll work around it.’

These issues are ultimately compounded with the years of the Song Contest being seen as something to be ridiculed. One simple example is the stark difference in how Graham Norton approaches the musicians on both his TV and radio shows compared to how musicians are discussed in his Eurovision commentary. You can still have fun and present Eurovision as light entertainment while offering the performers on the Eurovision stage the same artistic respect as Norton’s sofa.

How the Eurovision Song Contest is spoken about by the BBC is intrinsically linked to the way the public, artists and those internally employed perceive its value. Whilst this current presentational style and lack of investment in the artists continues, the ability of attracting any known serious talents will be left wanting. Without a valid and quantifiable outcome, be it for future career or financial opportunity, it shall continue to be ignored by artists of the calibre seen in other national selection shows.

SBS’s ‘Eurovision: Australia Decides’

‘Eurovision: Australia Decides’, whilst admittedly also existing as a single show to select an entry for the  Eurovision Song Contest, has a vision goes beyond the remit of finding a Eurovision song. Its rhetoric and approach to artists and the public differs greatly from the approach seen at the BBC.

Australia shares much of its Eurovision history with the United Kingdom, having taken the commentary of previous BBC commentator Terry Wogan for twenty-five years.  When this changed was in 2009, as the team began the journey of changing local perceptions by employing its own commentary team. Whilst it continued to view Eurovision with a side eye and humour, gone was the element of ridicule.

Once Australia achieved participant status in 2015, the frames of reference and style again stepped up to become more serious in nature.

Guy Sebastian | Eurovision 2015 Australia

Guy Sebastian at Eurovision 2015 (Photo: Eurovision.tv)

Australian Head of Delegation and Production since 2009, Paul Clarke, was instrumental in the change of perception about the Song Contest, and now has the first ‘Australia Decides’ under his belt. He openly acknowledged that the selection show took its cues from Sweden, but rather than jumping to bring on Swedish scriptwriters and hosts, it instead reached out to Mr Melfest himself, Christer Bjorkman as a consultant and then juror in the process.

The production chose to utilise the same voting methodology as the Song Contest, with 50 percent jury score and 50 percent televoting that emulated the Contest as much as possible, offering viewers something that they instantly recognised and associated with the Eurovision format.

Why Did Australian Acts Take A Chance?

What of the performers? Why were so many artists of status willing to risk their reputations at an unknown National Final? As it stands, Australia is entirely lacking in live music performance outlets on television and radio. Great music performance shows like Countdown in the 1970s & 1980s, and Recovery in the 1990s (which was produced by Paul Clarke) have long disappeared from local television.

The Australian music industry therefore is hungry for an new outlet, and the possible benefits gained stand to outweigh any reputational damage. Despite Jessica Mauboys poor showing at Lisbon 2018, her career within Australia continues to flourish. Armed with the knowledge that a poor Eurovision result is not career-ending, coupled with a selection show in the trusted hands of long-time TV professional, the music industry regards the rewards as outweighing any risk.

The faith of the untested format locally was well highlighted in a post from George Sheppard, lead singer of competing band Sheppard prior to the jury final:

If you’re a new artist trying to make a name for yourself in Australia, you realistically have one of two options – Triple J [the Government funded alternative radio station], or commercial radio. Triple J doesn’t often go for pop music and commercial radio doesn’t often touch unknown artists. This means we have a pretty big void in the market that leaves very little opportunity for upcoming pop artists to flourish in Australia.

[‘Eurovision – Australia Decides’] essentially gives us a rare outlet to celebrate pop music, in a country where it’s not widely accepted or celebrated… it gives us all a brand new avenue to celebrate this kind of music. It gives up and coming writers and performers a new opportunity to showcase their original songs, and it give us a way to start building a whole new lane of Australian music culture for the next generation of artists coming through who don’t want to go on a reality TV show, or sign away everything to a major label.

Clearly, the approach and reasons given for Australia Decides to be held resonated with several artists, reaching well beyond the promise of Eurovision fame.  When the team from SBS made a national call out for submissions last October, it resulted in 700 submissions in a period of just 3 weeks. The inaugural show gathered ten diverse contestants ranging from the above chart-topping darlings Sheppard to newly discovered talent like Leea Nanos. Recognised artists in the genre ranges of EDM, opera, rock and RnB were keen to get involved, which also added to its appeal and opportunity to build reputation in public.

Australia Decides reached 813,000 people,  resulting in approximately 70% increase on usual Saturday night reach for the channel, and also was the tenth most watched program across Australia on the day.

The selection show trended globally on Twitter throughout the Saturday evening and held seven out of ten of the top trending hashtags in Australia.  For the artists themselves, following the show, Sheppard, Kate Miller-Heidke and Electric Fields all held a top 20 positions in downloads, with Leea Nanos, Courtney Act, Alfie Arcuri also featuring in the top 100.

This measurable success should ensure that the format returns next year, and likely to remain in place for the five years of the negotiated invitation Australia now has to the Eurovision Song Contest.

Ignore Sanremo At Your Peril

It’s understandable that Melodifestivalen is the show that the Eurovision fans turn to when looking at National Finals, but I want to point out that there is one other show that delivers the three key elements highlighted – namely artistic support, music industry support, and mainstream media support. And that’s Italy’s Sanremo.

The RAI Orchestra at Sanremo

The RAI Orchestra at Sanremo

Every year Eurovision fans turn on to the final night of Sanremo and get lost. They don’t see a replication of the Song Contest format as a National Final. It’s long and bloated, packed with guest singers in awkward places, the occasional interview with Italy’s oldest midwife, and comedy sketches occasionally lifted from old Morecambe and Wise sketches. But it shares the same mythical power as Melodifestivalen.

Sanremo is an Italian institution, and you see the same building blocks. You have a show that artists want to appear in, and are happy to keep returning to throughout their careers. You have a huge audience watching on television, with over fifty percent market share for each show. You have the music industry working to get their acts either in competition, or invited as guest singers. And you have the Italian press eager for any piece of news about the acts appearing, the songs, and the drama. Oh and all the other television channels know that there’s no point trying to compete, and throw up a mix of classic films, repeats, or their own coverage of the festival.

Sanremo has the respect of the music industry. It delivers a show that the Italian public is comfortable with. And its media coverage pushes other stories well down the editorial schedule. That’s why it continues to work.

Choose A Three Minute Song Or A Strategy For The Ages

What we can see is that the shows that have endured most and achieved great success are those that have taken a step away from the reality TV mould, that look beyond fads and instead employ best practice techniques, that choose to focus on the artist and song, and prioritise the celebration of the local music scene in all its forms.  On it’s first outing it seems Australia has done so, and thus there is no reason why others cannot follow suit. A country that already has plenty of opportunities where pop is celebrated, artist development is encouraged and seemingly boundless amount of talent to draw upon, such as the United Kingdom, needs to create a new outlet that will be respected in the industry.

Even Eurovision as a contest focuses on something more than just crowning its winner – it trusts in its foundation of utilising music as a way of bringing Europe closer together, the testing of new technologies in broadcast and providing artists a platform for exposure to a greater audience.

So as a final thought, I believe that instead of seeing Melodifestivalen as the ‘selection’ show to mimic, one should look beyond the size of the show and instead learn from how a national selection can benefit the artists and the artistic fabric of a country, and can stand alone as a key annual televisied event.

The concept of a successful National Final should be more than ‘we need three minutes for May’. The best options are where the goals include, but are not limited to, the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s bigger than us.

Categories: ESC Insight

11
March
2019

Newsletter: The Ones That Got Away This National Final Season…

Newsletter: The Ones That Got Away This National Final Season…

Also in this week’s newsletter, a look at how the betting industry is reacting to the full lineup for this year’s Contest, Israel draw their position in the Grand Final and the Heads of Delegation meet in Tel Aviv for the first time.

You can read the newsletter in full here, or subscribe for a regular dose of Eurovision insight and analysis delivered direct to your email inbox.

National Selection Season – The Ones That Got Away…

With National Selection Season now officially wrapped up, we have 41 contenders in place to battle for this year’s Eurovision trophy. But what about the ones that didn’t quite make it? The ESC Insight team selected some of their personal picks for the songs they’re going to miss the most in May…

Ja Sam Ti San‘ by Andrea Demirović (Montenegro)

It’s been a relatively painless National Selection season for me, with most countries either making what I consider to be the best choice or at least an acceptable alternative. The sole glaring omission is Montenegro. With this punchy electro number from 2009 veteran Andrea Demirović, they could have had one of their most competitive packages in years. Instead, Montenegro made another choice… We’ll see what happens in May, but I have a strong suspicion they’re going to regret the outcome. – John Lucas

Pretty Little Liar‘ by Uku Suviste (Estonia)

Great hooks in both verse and chorus, a stunningly attractive singer and a disappearing dancer gimmick that was jaw-droppingly effective. – Ben Robertson

2000 And Whatever‘ by Electric Fields (Australia)

There’s something so exuberantly infectious about this song. It would have been an incredible inclusion in this year’s international roster, both for general quality as well as for linguistic and cultural diversity. The beautiful thing about National Final also-rans, however is that even if they don’t make it to the show in May, nobody can take those songs away from you. I’ll continue to turn the volume up and jam out to this for many years to come. – Samantha Ross

 ‘Babela‘ by Kujtim Prodani (Albania)

On the first night of Albania’s Festivali i Këngës, Eurovision lost ‘Babela’. There was something in the first listen hooked me in – not much, but then we didn’t have many National Final songs at that point. Kujtim Prodani’s ballad/spoken word romance has been a slow burn, but it’s arresting and heart stopping every time it comes round on my playlist. – Ewan Spence

Light On‘ by Monika Marija (Lithuania)

I had this down as a potential best ever result for Lithuania if selected. It was uplifting, with excellent vocals and the chorus stuck in my head for days after first hearing. It filled me with Emeli Sande vibes. Unfortunately I feel Monika did herself a disservice and pushed herself out of contention by the issue of going into the final with two songs and then withdrawing the other one – leaving a sour taste in the mouths of the locals. – Sharleen Wright

You can stay up to date with all of the latest Eurovision news and analysis right here on ESC Insight. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: ESC Insight

10
March
2019

Israel 2019: Kobi Marimi’s “Home” official video released

Israel 2019: Kobi Marimi’s “Home” official video released

Kobi Marimi

Being on home soil, the song title “Home” fits Kobi Marimi quite well. Today, this year’s Israeli Eurovision entry was released. This is the 41st and last entry to be released for this year’s contest.

NoteThe song leaked earlier today and was uploaded to YouTube illegally, but on EuroVisionary.com we do not support illegal uploads. This is why we waited for the official release.

In November, Israel’s “HaKokhav HaBa L’Eurovizion” (The Next Star For Eurovision) kicked off. Throughout the talent show, the number of participants were narrowed down to the four who competed in the final, which was held about a month ago, on the 12th of February.

Kobi Marimi was crowned the winner and as such, he would represent Israel on home soil at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Tel Aviv in May. His participating entry is simply titled Home – and today, it was publicly released. Israel has before won when hosting the contest (in 1979) and question is, can Kobi Marimi perhaps do that too?

Listen to the song in the video below:

About Home

According to a press release sent out by KAN shortly after the premiere, Home is written by Inbar Wizman and Ohad Shragai, both singer-songwriters from Tel-Aviv. The official music video is directed by Guy Sagy, known among Eurovision fans for having directed the 1998 Eurovision Winner Diva.

Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest

Back in 1973, this year’s host country debuted at Eurovision with a 4th place. They country got off with a good start, and over the years, Israeli fans have generally had a lot to smile about – that is, if you look aside a period from 2011 to 2014 where the country failed to reach the final four years in a row, but since Nadav Guedj’s Golden Boy in 2015, the Israeli artists always delivered that: to reach the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The country can add four victories to their CV, which is quite impressive. Two of these even came in a row; in 1978 with A-Ba-Ni-Bi and the year after where Europe fell in love with Hallelujah. 20 years after first victory, Dana International’s Diva was crowned the winner – and yet another 20 years later, the same happened to Netta and her Toy. What are odd’s for Israel winning in 2038?

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Categories: Eurovisionary

10
March
2019

Armenia 2019: Srbuk’s Eurovision entry finally revealed

Armenia 2019: Srbuk’s Eurovision entry finally revealed

Srbuk

The long wait is over! Armenia broadcaster revealed today the entry which Srbut will compete with at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Can “Walking Out” bring Armenia back into the final of the contest after failing to qualify last year?

We have waited a long time for this day. It was back in November, Armenian broadcaster AMPTV announced Srbuk as their representative for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. She became the first artist known for the contest – and with the song release today, it’s one of the last songs to be released.

24 year old Srbuhi Sargsyan performs under the artist name Srbuk. She is familiar with competitions and knows how to do well in them. She took part in X-Factor Armenia and finished second. Later, she went to Ukraine for The Voice where she came fourth.

Following the announcement of Srbuk, AMPTV opened for potential songs to be submitted. The window for that closed in mid January after which an internal committee selected the right song for her to sing in Tel Aviv, Israel in May. Listen to it it, in the video below.

About Waking Out

In a press release, Armenian broadcaster writes that Walking Out is composed by two Armenian music artists “Lost Capital” and“tokionine”. The lyrics were written by Garik Papoyan, who also wrote Aram MP3’s
Not Alone (Armenia 2014).

“When I first heard the melody, visions flashed before my eyes. Events that haven’t
yet become memories… I realized that this fight and the collapse of the emotions
inside me have to be reflected in my song. I want to tell myself and everybody else:
“Don’t kill love, but don’t let it kill you.

Srbuk

The music video has been produced by “Factory Production”. About it, Srbuk said: “We wanted to visually portray the emotions within a loving but betrayed heart. When you think you will be filled with joy, but instead there is not enough air to breathe. When you want to share your happiness, but instead you start loosing yourself: your hands are tied, your emotions are overwhelming, you keep pretending just to keep your love alive. But what are you waiting for? How long can you play by these rules? These are the questions and emotions visualized in the music video”.

Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest

With 12 appearances and 10 finals, Armenia is one of the most successful countries in terms of qualifying for the final. The country is yet to win the contest, but impressively seven of their entries finished in top 10.

The best results from Armenia is two 4th places. First time achieved by Sirusho’s charming Qélé, Qélé in 2008 and since repeated in 2014 with Not Alone performed by Aram Mp3.

Quite surprisingly to many, Emmy’s Boom Boom failed to reach the final in 2011, and last year the same thing happened to Sevak Khanagyan and his Qami.

At this year’s contest, Armenia has been drawn into the first half of the second semi-final, which means that Srbuk will first take the stage live on the 16th of May.

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Categories: Eurovisionary

10
March
2019

Michela Pace’s Eurovision entry released – it’s Chameleon for Tel Aviv

Michela Pace’s Eurovision entry released – it’s Chameleon for Tel Aviv

Michela Pace

After winning X-Factor Malta back in January, Michela Pace is now ready for the Eurovision Song Contest. Today, this year’s Maltese entry was released, and pressure is high on the 18 year old girl to improve recent bad results.

Malta dropped its traditional national final selection for this year. They instead took on the well known X-Factor format with the twist that the winner would represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest. That honour went to Michela Pace who turned 18, the day before the final in Malta.

After Michela’s victory, the broadcaster worked on finding the perfect song for her to compete with at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel in May. And finally today, that song was released. Listen to it in the video below:

About Chameleon

In a press release after the release of the song, Maltese broadcaster writes that Chameleon was recorded in Vienna, Sweden and Malta, whilst the music video was shot all in Malta and produced by PBS.

They mention that the song is written and produced by Symphonics. In case that name sounds familar they wrote Equinox’s Bones (Bulgaria 2018),  Beautiful Mess (Bulgaria 2017) as well as other Eurovision entries. 

Malta at the Eurovision Song Contest

31 apppearances, 24 final positions and no win yet. That’s the basic facts about Malta’s Eurovision history. The country debuted in 1971, and unfortunately the country finished last in their first two years. Until 1991, their participation was a bit on-off, but since then, they have been a steady country.

Their “new” debut in 1991, was with the song Could It Be by Paul Giordimaina and Georgina, which finished second. The following year, Mary Spiteri came third, and Malta had proven themselves as a country to watch out for. In fact, it wasn’t until 1999 that they eventually finished outside top 10 again.

Ira Losco came 2nd in 2002 and the same great result was achieved by Chiara in 2005 singing the beautiful Angel.

The past two years, in 2017 and 2018, Malta has failed to reach the final putting a bit of pressure on this year’s X-Factor winner.

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Categories: Eurovisionary

09
March
2019

John Lundvik wins Melodifestivalen and will represent Sweden at Eurovision 2019

John Lundvik wins Melodifestivalen and will represent Sweden at Eurovision 2019

John Lundvik

Tonight was the grand final of Melodifestivalen, the Swedish national selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest. After 4 semi-finals as well as a second chance episode, the final 12 competitors battled for a chance to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Every year, Sweden puts on quite a show. Other countries try to replicate or emulate a similar format but the Swedes just always know how to put on a great show for their national selection. This year, 28 acts competed through 4 semi-finals. Each week, the top 2 moved to the final while the next 2 would be selected as a second chance round. Tonight, a total of 12 acts performed their songs in the hopes of representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Israel, next may.

Among the competing entries in the grand final, two of them have appeared on a Eurovision stage before. Anna Bergendahl took part in the 2010 contest with her song This Is My Life. The entry failed to qualify to the grand final. The band Arvingarna also took part previously, all the way back in 1993 with the song Eloise which finished 7th place.

Contents

  • 1 The songs
  • 2 The show
  • 3 The result

The songs

Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken (Goeksegh)

First up is Jon Henrik with the song Norrsken (Goeksegh) . The song is a mixture of traditional Swedish Sami influence and mordern sounds. Jon Henrik, who was originally born in Colombia but adopted by Sami parents at a young age has been using influence of the Sami sounds in all three of his competing entries at the contest so far. His previous two songs Jag är fri (Manne leam frijje) and En värld full av strider (Eatneme gusnie jeenh dåaroeh) both made it to the finals of 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Lisa Ajax – Torn

Up next is Lisa Ajax. This is also Lisa’s third attempt at Melodifestivalen as she took part in 2016 with her song My Heart Wants Me Dead and in 2017 with I Don’t Give A. Both songs made it to the grand final. Torn is an emotional ballad brought to life by Lisa’s incredible vocals. The simplistic staging also makes this a stand out.

Mohombi – Hello

Third on is Mohombi who is also not a first timer at Melodifestivalen as he took part with the group Avalon in 2005. Mohombi has also had a fairly popular career in America with collaborations with artists such as Pitbull and Nicki Minaj. The staging for his song Hello is rather similar to Heroes from 2015 with a projection screen dancing with him.

Lina Hedlund – Victorious

Next up is Lina with Victorious. Once again, a competitor with experience at the contest. Lina is best known as a member of the band Alcazar. They’ve had many Melodifestivalen entries but Lina was part of three of them. In 2009 with Stay the Night, in 2010 with Headlines as well as in 2014 with Blame It On the Disco. Her solo entry is certainly less disco than what we know her for, but is a high energy dance pop tune. The staging is simple but effective.

Bishara – On My Own

Next up is the second youngest contestant this year, Bishara at 16 years old. This is Bishara’s first entry with a song co-written by Benjamin Ingrosso, On My Own. Bishara is quite adorable, and brings a strong performance for such a young singer, but one can’t help but think he may need a few more years to grow to handle something like Eurovision. The song itself is also quite nice but makes me wonder if a performer like him can deliver a message like a broken heart at such a young age.

Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes

Up next is Anna with Ashes to Ashes. Anna has the unfortunate record of being the only Swedish entry to miss qualification at the Eurovision Song Contest. Her entry this year is much stronger however. The vibe still has a country vibe as her 2010 entry did but this time she looks like a popstar in the veins of Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift. The song is catchy but the staging is a bit confusing to me. Her outfit is quite nice but it clashes with the forest background look.

Nano – Chasing Rivers

Halfway through the show, next is Nano with Chasing Rivers. His first participation was back in 2017 with his song Hold On. The song has a pretty strong chorus and the performance is cut with shots of Nano as well as a Nano look-a-like kid. I don’t particularly think this one is better than his 2017 entry but the song is catchy.

Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO – Hold You

The next song is Hanna Ferm and LIAMOO. All I can really say to begin with is, wow are they both very attractive people! Their song Hold You however isn’t quite as attractive in my opinion. The duet is rather dull, the song itself doesn’t have much of a hook too. Perhaps I am missing something. The staging is cute but also doesn’t have much special with drapes attached to a metal fixture flying up with fans.

Malou Prytz – I Do Me

We next have Malou the actual youngest contestant this year! Interestingly she seems a lot more confident onstage than Bishara. Her song is young and fresh and works for her. The staging is also quote cute. I am not sure if it should truly win the contest but it is definitely a strong current pop song. I am hoping she continues her career and comes back to Melodifestivalen as she certainly has potential.

John Lundvik – Too Late For Love

Here he is, the favourite to win as of this morning. John Lundvik is a returning artist as he made the final last year with his song My Turn. Interestingly, John actually already has a song competing at the Eurovision Song Contest as he’s the composer for Bigger Than Me, the United Kindom’s entry this year. Too Late For Love is a big gospel-like song with big voices. John is on point and delivers on stage while the crowd cheers.

Wiktoria – Not With Me

Up next is another artist at her 3rd entry. Wiktoria took part in 2016 with Save Me as well as in 2017 with As I Lay Me Down. This time she is presenting us a power ballad. The staging is rather elaborate with a full shower pouring around her mid song to eventually make it rain on her by the end. Wiktoria is a strong vocalist and the song itself is pretty good but it’s also rather typical and doesn’t bring much new.

Arvingarna – I Do

We finish the show with Arvingarna. This isn’t their first time here either. They took part in the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest with their song Eloise. The song I Do is considered dansband which is a style inspired by country, pop and rock n roll. This is one of those songs that is literally made for the Swedish public. I can’t really imagine something like this doing anything at all at Eurovision.

The show

The show started off with last year’s Melodifestivalen winner Benjamin Ingrosso singing his song Tror du att han bryr sig with Felix Sandman. He then performed a short version of Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long as the hosts and performers made their way to the green room out of a van.

After Anna had performed, the wonderful Lynda Woodruff made a return to Melodifestivalen. For those won don’t know, performer Sarah Dawn Finer plays a character of a British spokeswoman for the European Broadcasting Union. The genius of her comedy is how she’s not particularly knowledgeable on the Eurovision or Melodifestivalen history, often pronouncing names of countries of cities wrong and making absurd mistakes like confusing Austria with Australia or being unable to pronounce Azerbaijan.

After all the songs were performed a special performance of Dance You Off was presented by the Melodifestivalen dance troop. The choreography seemed to invoke the way technology and cell phones affect our lives. An interesting parallel to Portugal’s song this year Telemoveis.

Between the jury votes and the public votes we were gifted with a Charlotte Perrelli performance of Take Me To Your Heaven, the song that won the last time Israel hosted the contest. Dana International also made an appearance and performed her hit Diva. They then came together to perform their brand new collaboration called Diva to Diva.

The result

The winner of Melodifestivalen 2019 will be decided by a combination of expert juries from 8 countries competing at this year’s Eurovision as well as a Swedish public vote.

After the international juries voted, the top 3 was:

  1. John Lundvik -96 points
  2. Nano –  54 points
  3. Hanna & LIAMOO –

The Swedish public then voted for their favourite songs.

The winner of the 2019 Melodifestivalen is John Lundvik with Too Late For Love

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