Melodifestivalen 2014: All About the Final!

This Saturday night it’s the big one. The biggest annual event in the Swedish calendar in terms of both television and pop music. Oh yes, and the biggest and most scrutinised national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. We always forget about the Eurovision part. It’s easily done.

After five weeks – four weeks of heats, and last Saturday’s Andra Chansen round which saw Helena Paparizou and Linus Svenning nab the last two places on offer – it’s the grand final of Melodifestivalen 2014. Time will tell whether or not this turns out to be a vintage year, but it certainly seems like it now. And that’s mostly thanks to the strong final that we have on our hands, and that we can all look forward to watching on Saturday night. It goes without saying that any vintage year status for Melodifestivalen 2014 will be down to the songs and the songs alone – everything else surrounding the music has been absolute tripe. How could they get it so wrong. Oh God.

Anyway. The final. It’s going to be a good one. And it’s going to be a close one too. There is no obvious winner. Perhaps two that look more likely than the others. But of those others, it really seems to be the case that many of them could surprise us on the night and take the crown.

Here’s your guide on what to expect on Saturday. The running order, the performances, the songs, and dare we predict – their chances?….


1. Anton Ewald – Natural
A good show opener. Anton’s going to set the bar high in terms of performance, and ‘Natural’ will get the final started in style. It’s modern, it’s current, it’s relevant to what’s being played on the radio, and so it’s the perfect opening statement of what the Melodifestivalen final is looking for – a song to represent Sweden in 2014.
Could it win? He definitely wants to, but we don’t think he’s going to. The song just isn’t as incredible as it needed to be. It’ll probably give him a respectable finish on the leader board though, as it’s the only dance song in the final, and he’s going to give it EVERYTHING on Saturday night. But a win is looking unlikely. Never mind. What he really has to concentrate on now is what’s to follow for the rest of the 2014. He needs to go on to produce at least one big hit before the end of the year (outside of the contest), so that he doesn’t fall into the hard-to-escape trap of being looked upon as nothing more than a Melodifestivalen artist.

2. Ellen Benediktson – Songbird
This song’s surprise qualification to the final in week one caused it to build up some big momentum, and quite quickly too. But it’s fair to say that any momentum it had five weeks ago has all but halted now. A terrific song that Ellen will undoubtedly perform very well, but so many other songs since that first week have gone on to shine that bit brighter. ‘Songbird’ offers up some versatility for Saturday night’s line-up, and without compromising on quality or popularity. It’s a nice addition to the show. But that’s it – nice.
Could it win? It’s hard to see how it could triumph over Sanna Nielsen’s big ballad. It’s more than likely going to get lost amongst bigger songs and names, and end up mid-table at best.

3. Alcazar – Blame It On The Disco
This will undoubtedly be the MOMENT of the whole final. A giant disco ball descending from the ceiling, giving birth to three polished popstars who then embark on three minutes of awe inspiring performance. We’re not entirely sure why SVT have decided to spunk it away so early on in the line-up, without it being the opening number. Had they saved it for a bit later on, that would have given the Swedes time to guzzle at least one more alcoholic beverage, and thus fully maximise the entertainment factor for the whole nation. Or perhaps that’s what SVT are trying to avoid…..
Could it win? Well it’s highly likely to do well with both the juries and the televote, which would see it scramble ahead of the entries that will score better with one but not the other. We don’t think it will win either vote, but a high enough placing on both would give it a big advantage. Personally though, we don’t want them to win. Yes it’s Alcazar and they’re amazing. And yes it would be even more amazing to have them perform this at Eurovision. But the song’s not amazing. It would feel a bit wrong that they finally make it with a lesser number. And it certainly wouldn’t give Sweden a good result at Eurovision. If ‘Blame It On The Disco’ could even take Sweden to the final….

4. Oscar Zia – Yes We Can
A genius entry here in that it’s a retro pop performance of a retro pop song – both paying homage to a time when Swedish songwriting and production were behind the biggest pop music across the globe. The Swedes are understandably very proud of the influence Cheiron and their sound had (and individually, its members still have) on what’s playing on the radio everywhere in the world. And Oscar Zia’s ‘Yes We Can’ is a brilliant reminder to the country that – well – yes, they can. It’s respectful enough in that it’s an unmistakable tribute to that era and that production studio, yet it’s fresh enough so that it’s not a pointless rip-off. And as a frontman, Oscar Zia is inoffensive, new, and quite infectiously fun. Above all, the song is fab and the performance is entertaining. It’s a very worthy finalist and Saturday is going to be all the better for its inclusion.
Could it win? This one is the hardest to predict. It could just as likely win everyone over as it could pass everyone by. It’s not the best and it’s not the worst, but it’s not so average that it couldn’t go either way. We’ll say less ‘Yes We Can’, and more ‘Maybe We Can’.

5. Linus Svenning – Bröder
Since Saturday night’s Andra Chansen round which saw him progress to the final, Linus Svenning has had a surge of popularity on iTunes, and more importantly Spotify. So he obviously struck a chord or two. And we’re guessing that this is going to translate into a healthy tally from the Swedish televote. Juries however? There’s too many better songs in the mix for this one to stand out with them, particularly the international juries who won’t appreciate the sentiment behind the lyrics so much. Lucky them.
Could it win? No. But it’s made him a star. And the competition is his for the taking in 2015. With the right song.

6. Helena Paparizou – Survivor
Well after last Saturday’s performance during the duel section of the show, we think it’s safe to say that this woman absolutely cannot be counted out, despite having made the final via Andra Chansen. In a way she’s the kind of artist and ‘Survivor’s the kind of song that represent a Melodifestivalen of yesteryear. But as was witnessed at the weekend, Sweden is most definitely not ready to say goodbye to either style. A top notch diva delivering a killer pop song is such a force to be reckoned with, and it’s inclusion is going to be one of the big highlights of Saturday night’s final.
Could it win? If you watched what this achieved a couple of days ago, then you’ll know that the answer to that is yes. It’s got an uphill battle on its hands of course, but then – “JUST CALL ME A SURVIVOR”, etc etc.

7. YOHIO – To the End
The momentum and good will that this chap achieved going into the 2013 final seems a very distant memory now. And his inclusion in the 2014 final almost seems like a courtesy consolation prize for winning the televote last year, yet not being afforded the Melodifestivalen victory. Nobody’s talking about him. And while the song is so much better than what he entered with last year, it’s highly unlikely to give him a better result. He’ll be lucky to even get a similar result. As a star he arguably shone the brightest in the final last year, but he pales in comparison to the competition he’s up against this year.
Could it win? Well the sheer droves of his televoting fans can’t really be counted out. And there’s nothing else like ‘To The End’ in the final, which should make it stand out to the juries. It doesn’t really feel like anyone outside of the fanbase is interested anymore though.

8. Sanna Nielsen – Undo
THE power ballad of the night. And we’ve already witnessed the impact with which she delivers it live. She’s entering the final with even more good will towards her and the song, than when she did with ‘Empty Room’ in 2008. And we reckon she knows it too. So expect Saturday night’s performance to be CAREER HIGH levels. A performance so flawless that it fills a watching Sweden with the level of pride required to make them pick up the phone and beg for her to represent them as a nation.
Could it win? Most definitely. We can’t see it finishing any lower than second on the televote, and not much lower with the juries either. We’re less sure about how those juries will treat Sanna’s main competitor Ace Wilder however. Ace will most likely win the televote, but if the juries aren’t as as receptive, then it could see Sanna triumph on a combined score – which is precisely how Charlotte Perrelli beat Sanna in 2008. This could be the ultimate revenge for what happened on that night.

9. Panetoz – Efter Solsken
How did this end up here in the final?! It didn’t seem SO odd on the night it qualified, but when you look at it lined up alongside its nine competitors on Saturday, well it’s all a bit WTF isn’t it?! As the toilet break song of the night, this should really have been drawn around 5th rather than 9th.
Could it win? What’s a more interesting question will be to see if it can pull of coming last with both the televote and the jury vote. And yes, it probably can.

10. Ace Wilder – Busy Doin’ Nothin’
This has been the biggest surprise, and already the biggest success of the competition. Coming from nowhere and winning over the nation with a cool performance of exactly the kind of song that Sweden has been exporting over the last 12 months (or at least a combination of three anyway). It’s by far the most streamed song of the contest on Spotify (it’s notched up well over a million plays in only eight days), it’s the song that Swedish radio are paying most attention to, and it also has the biggest online buzz too. While the traditionalists are fighting over Sanna Nielsen, Alcazar, and Helena Paparizou, everyone else is unanimous in their love for ‘Busy Nothin’. It’s a grower, which will give it a hard time at the Eurovision Song Contest. But in the few weeks that everyone’s had to come round to it in Sweden and internationally, everybody has.
Could it win? We reckon it’s between her and Sanna Nielsen. Ace will probably win the televote, but it’s a little more unclear how the juries will react to her. And that could end up pushing her below Sanna. In some ways though, it’s already won. It will be the biggest Melodifestivalen hit of the year in Sweden (and dare we say outside of Sweden too?), and it’s set her up for what could be a massive pop career in the coming years. Job done. And possibly without that pesky business of having to go to Eurovision.

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