This week saw the always anticipated unveiling by SVT of the entries that will be competing in next year’s Melodifestivalen. The artists, the names of the songs, and the songwriters behind them.
Of the 28 acts (there’ll be 7 songs in each of the 4 heats next year, instead of the usual 8 per heat) only 11 of them have graced the Melodifestivalen stage before. But while there are a lot of newcomers to the contest, they aren’t necessarily newcomers to Swedish music fans, and to a lot of regular Scandipop readers.
We’ve put together a break-down of all 28 entries – a profile of the artists, the background to the songwriters involved, and descriptions of the songs themselves. We’ve been asking some of the artists, writers, labels, publishers, management etc what their entries are going to sound like, so that we’ve got some idea of what to expect.
Have a read. And of course we’ll be covering the main event for the six weeks it runs in February and March. So be sure to join us for that too.
HEAT 1: Göteborg, February 7th
Eric Saade – Sting
(Sam Arash Fahmi, Fredrik Kempe, Hamed ”K-one” Pirouzpanah, David Kreuger)
Eric Saade needs no introduction, although his early return to the contest after winning it a mere four years back does need some explaining, we’d say. Really though, the only explanation could be that he has another winner on his hands. So let’s hear about the song. We’ve been told “Sting is a pacey (hmm…right word?) pop song which also features horns and brass, which take the song to a new level. It’s got a great chorus which will be in people’s minds long after the show. As always when it comes to Saade, the audience can expect a spectacular performance”. Pacey, eh? We asked #TeamSaade to elaborate. “In Sweden, the word is ”fartfylld”, which means that it has a great tempo/pace all the way through”. Hang on – a direct translation of “fartfylled” is “full of speed”! Readers – Eric Saade has returned to Melodifestivalen with a HORNED UP, HIGH SPEED, RAVE BANGER. And as Eric himself says about the song – “It’s something new. I don’t want to repeat anything I’ve done before, so I’m going to do something I have never done before“. The songwriters on board are an impressive line-up. The man behind both of Saade’s previous Melodifestivalen entries has once again teamed up with the two guys he wrote Alcazar’s ‘Blame It On The Disco’, Sanna Nielsen’s ‘Undo’, and Oscar Zia’s ‘Yes We Can’ with for the 2014 contest. And they’re joined by Arash.
Jessica Andersson – Can’t Hurt Me Now
(Aleena Gibson, Fredrik Thomander)
The Melodifestivalen winner returns in 2015 with a mission to not so much win it, but more specifically to beat the success of her most recent entry outside of the contest. In 2010 she reached the final with the ballad ‘I Did It For Love’, which went on the break the record for most weeks on the Svenkstoppen chart (a radio chart) – 98 weeks in total. And she wants to better that with ‘Can’t Hurt Me Now’. “A fantastic ballad that moved me to tears when I first heard it”, is how she describes the song. And she’s got some good form behind her when it comes to Melodifestivalen ballads – Aleena Gibson was the woman behind Sanna Nielsen’s ‘Empty Room’ and Molly Sandén’s ‘Why Am I Crying’. Fredrik Thomander meanwhile contributed a ballad to Agnetha Fältskog’s ‘A’ album last year. So yeah – it’s fair to say it’s quite likely that Jessica has bagged herself a pretty good song here.
Behrang Miri feat. Victor Fritz Crone – Det Rår Vi Inte För
(Behrang Miri, Albin Johnsén, Måns Zelmerlöw, Tony Nilsson)
Behrang warns us not to expect a rethread of 2013’s Melodifestivalen hit ‘Jalla Dansa Sawa’. This is something different, which has been inspired by Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’. “A modern, mellow rap tune with a strong and emotionally driven chorus”, we’ve been told. Any of the songwriters on their own would be exciting enough – Albin of ‘Din Soldat’ notoriety, Måns Zelmerlöw, and then Tony Nilsson who was at the helm of Darin’s ‘Lovekiller’ album. But all three together indicates that we’re in for something good. As for his collaboration partner, Victor Fritz Crone appeared on the 2009 series of Swedish Idol.
Dolly Style – Hello Hi
(Emma Nors, Palle Hammarlund, Jimmy Jansson)
These debutantes aren’t exactly giving away too much about themselves (they’re called Dolly, Holly and Polly apparently, and hail from a doll house in Dollyville), so let’s look at the songwriters. Emma Nors and Palle Hammarlund’s most recent hit was ‘Moshi Moshi’ by Lovegum, so if the below image doesn’t give you an idea of what to expect, then that song certainly might. Jimmy Jansson contributed two songs to Melodifestivalen 2014 – ‘Hollow’ by Janet Leon, and ‘Casanova’ by Elisa Lindström (and has of course competed as an artist himself three times). For ‘Hello Hi’, we’re expecting a cross between Pay TV and YOHIO. Though hopefully the musical stylings of the former, eh?
Molly Pettersson Hammar – I’ll Be Fine
(Molly Pettersson Hammar, Lisa Desmond, Tim Larsson, Tobias Lundgren, Gavin Jones)
A Swedish Idol graduate, she’s been fairly quiet since she participated in 2011 – although admittedly she was 15 at the time. Now she’s set to release her debut single via Melodifestivalen. ‘I’ll Be Fine’ has been described to us as “A soulful, piano-driven up-tempo song that showcases her vocal abilities”. The person we spoke to this one about has heard quite a few others in the contest too. But they singled ‘I’ll Be Fine’ out in particular as being “awesome”. Songwriter wise, Gavin Jones is the man behind Zara Larsson’s ‘Uncover’, while Tim and Tobias have been behind Linda Bengtzing’s best bits. Lisa Desmond co-wrote Janet Leon’s ‘New Colours’, and also had some cuts on Timoteij’s ‘Tabu’ album.
Elize Ryd & Rickard Söderberg – One By One
(Elize Ryd, Jimmy Jansson, Karl-Ola Kjellholm, Sharon Vaughn)
Two artists who have spent most of their careers performing in musicals, with Rickard extending that to operas. The two appeared together this year on the singing game show on SVT, Så Ska Det Låta, and prior to that Rickard finished third on TV4’s choir talent competition Körslaget. Songwriter wise, the last time Kjellholm and Vaughn got together for a co-write, they came up with Helena Paparizou’s ‘Survivor’. And Jimmy Jansson contributed four more of Paparizou’s ‘One Life’ album hightlights – ‘Save Me (This is an SOS), ‘Set Your Heart On Me’, ‘Don’t Hold Back on Love’, and ‘4 Another 1’. So there’s a whole lot of awesomeness behind this song. It’s been described as a dramatic powerballad.
Daniel Gildenlöw – Pappa
The singer of Pain Of Salvation returns to the contest after doing quite well in it back in 2010, with their song ‘Road Salt’. Lets’ face it, if you read Scandipop then chances are ‘Pappa’ won’t be one of the songs you’re looking forward to most. And we’re with you there. But in a contest that is strangely devoid of rock in comparison to recent years, Daniel could be a threat to all of our faves. So don’t count him out just yet.
HEAT 2: Malmö, February 14th
Mariette – Don’t Stop Believing
(Miss Li, Sonny Gustafsson)
Mariette first found fame on Swedish Idol, and she’s had a mixed career since then. First launching as MaryJet, she then took a back seat out of the limelight for a few years. She recently relaunched as Mariette, with the brilliant ‘If Only I Can‘. But shying away from the front of the stage once more, she has spent the last six month singing and playing guitar behind Ace Wilder on tour. Most notable of all about this entry is that none other than Miss Li is behind this song as a writer. And given how all Miss Li songs have a certain style to them, we’d put forward a good guess that we might be hearing that influence in ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. The song is described as a beautiful, mystical ballad.
Emelie Irewald – Där Och Då Med Dig
A childhood girlfriend of Danny Saucedo, she later went on to compete in the TV talent show that he mentored in 2011, True Talent. In that, she finished 4th. But didn’t go on to make any sort of an impact on the Swedish music scene. Now she competes in Melodifestivalen for the first time with a song that she has composed all on her lonesome.
Linus Svenning – Forever Starts Today
(Aleena Gibson, Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad, Fredrik Kempe)
The most successful male debutante of Melodifestivalen 2014 unsurprisingly returns for 2015. His song ‘Bröder’ absolutely wasn’t our bag at all, but he did redeem himself to these ears later on in the year, with the fantastic ‘Dansa Sakta’. This time around he’ll be singing in English. And we’ve gotten three different sources to give us descriptions. “Mid-tempo, with an almost Irish/Celtic flavour”, said one. And another source told us that it is a “big pop song with a massive vocal range”. Then we’ve got “Big song. Emotional, hopeful, and totally epic, with guitars, big drums and an up-tempo orchestra. There’s a lot to sing!”. That sounds like an obvious finalist to us. And just LOOK at those songwriters involved.
Samir & Viktor – Groupie
(Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad, Kevin Högdahl, Maria Smith, Viktor Thell)
These two chaps were behind one of the biggest hits of the summer in Sweden. ‘Success’, which managed to make the difficult transition into becoming a Spotify chart hit with great longevity. Samir hails from reality TV show Paradise Hotel, and Viktor is a famous fashion blogger. Fashion bloggers are a big thing in Scandinavia, remember. Their song ‘Groupie’ has been described to us as “Insanely hooky. Not about “Groupie” as in fans. Think photo…”. Ah, so it’s basically Sweden’s take on “but first…..lemmetakeaselfie”. Amazing. Behind it, as well as Anton MHAS, we have three writers who have been across 2014 hit singles from the likes of Molly Sandén and Isak Elliot (and the first good Linus Svenning single, which we referred to in the last paragraph!). And yes – Maria Smith and Viktor Thell are artists themselves, you should all know and love Smith & Thell by now. Samir & Viktor might be novices who are essentially famous for being famous, but we’d be very surprised if they didn’t capture the imaginations of young Sweden in February, and progress to the final. DIREKT.
Neverstore – If I Was God For One Day
(Thomas G:son, John Gordon, Jacob Widén)
Thomas G:son goes rock. This could go either way really. As could the annual appearance of Melodifestivalen’s token rock group. It’d be unfair to Neverstore however, to dismiss them based on them seeming to be filling a quota – after all, when was the last time we had a Melodifestivalen final without a rock act? They’ve released four albums since their debut in 2007, their most recent one arriving last year. They’ve opened for Good Charlotte on tour, and been nominated for an MTV European Music Award for Best Swedish Act – twice. The writer John Gordon was behind Lena’s Eurovision winning song in 2010, ‘Satellite’.
Magnus Carlsson – Möt Mig i Gamla Stan
(Thomas G:son, Lina Eriksson)
This will be his eighth time competing at Melodifestivalen, although he’s not been in it since ‘Live Forever’ spectacularly bombed (undeservedly) in 2007 (interestingly enough, against one of this year’s big favourites Måns Zelmerlöw). That’s not stopped him from trying though, and he’s been submitting songs ever since, but to no avail. His persistence in trying to get back into the contest is matched only by his persistence in peddling the classic schlager sound that we love. And for his recent singles ‘Glorious’ and ‘Tillsammans’ (check ‘em both out here), we have the utmost admiration for the man. Championing the sound when most artists of his ilk (and even the ones who HAVE been accepted back into Melodifestivalen before now) have moved on. Magnus has described the song as “Kom Hem – the 2015 version”, so he’s showing no sign of giving up trading on those former glories. And what glories they are. Elsewhere, we’ve had the song described to us as being “perfect for Magnus. An epic pop song with a chorus that will stay in your head, and is very sing-a-long friendly. Less disco, more schlager”. ‘Möt Mig i Gamla Stan’ has been written by THE best songwriter of all time, along with Lina Eriksson, who at Melodifestivalen has recently been behind the likes of ‘Salt & Pepper’ by Marie Serneholt, ‘Kom’ by Jessica Andersson, and ‘Sweet Kissin In The Moonlight’ by Thorleifs.
Marie Bergman & Sanne Salomonsen – Nonetheless
(Andreas Stone Johansson, Allison Kaplan)
Marie Bergman has entered Melodifestivalen three times before – and won it all three times. And if that doesn’t fill you with reverence then shame on you! Sanne Salomonsen’s star shines a lot brighter in her native Denmark (where she still to this day releases hit albums), but she’s also made the Melodifestivalen final before – in 2005 with ‘Higher Ground’. Both artists are in their…..shall we say “later” years, and are both known for a more soft-rock kind of style. Speaking about ‘Nonetheless’, Team Marie & Sanne have told us that “it’s a calmer song, but not a ballad per se. Marie fell in love with it instantly, as soon as she heard it and therefore decided to participate. She had not planned to enter the contest ever again, but simply couldn’t refuse when she was asked to perform such a beautiful song”. Andreas Stone Johansson has been behind everything from J-Pop to Middle Eastern music, via Balkan hits and all the way back to Scandipop. And while that doesn’t tell us a great deal about the song, it does indicate that he’s quite good at adapting his sound to the artist he’s working with.
HEAT 3: Östersund, February 21st
Andreas Weise – Bring Out the Fire
(Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad, Henrik Janson, Thomas G:son)
To be fair, Melodifestivalen was pretty much the only TV show he hadn’t appeared on – so it was bound to happen eventually. The Idol, Let’s Dance, Körslaget and Så Ska Det Låta graduate finally gets his wish to compete in Melodifestivalen, after trying on more than one occasion. ‘Bring Out The Fire’ sees him deviate from the music style he’s most known for though, and has been described to us as “not big band or jazz. Think Sam Smith meets Robbie Williams”. He’s got one of the most exciting songwriter teams behind him too. As well as Thomas and Anton, you’ve got Henrik Janson, who has written songs for Darin, Elin Lanto, Rachel Stevens, S Club 8, Take That, as well as Celine Dion’s most recent single ‘Breakaway’.
Isa – Don’t Stop
(Isa Tengblad, Johan Ramström, Gustaf Svenungsson, Magnus Wallin, Oscar Merner)
Another newcomer to Melodifestivalen, but by no means a newcomer to Scandipop. And it’s a name we’re delighted to finally see attached to the contest, based on the strength of what she’s done before. By all accounts (or at least the two accounts that have been given to us), ‘Don’t Stop’ is going to be right up our street too. “The song is an up-tempo pop song and together with the performance Isa promises to deliver an experience that feels like the half time show at the Super Bowl. A positive energy shock that makes the entire audience join in the party and dance”. Another source informed us that it is “a young, happy, fresh and playful up-tempo song along the lines of Taylor Swift, Becky G etc”. Could she be this year’s Ace Wilder? After spending a lot of the past 12 months in LA working on music, she certainly has the repertoire of tunes ready to be released should Melodifestivalen 2015 provide a big enough launch-pad for her. Songwriter wise, Johan Ramström was behind Swingfly’s ‘Me & My Drum’, while Oscar Berner penned the Swedish Idol winner’s single in 2007 – Marie Picasso’s ‘This Moment’.
Kalle Johansson – För Din Skull
(Martin Eriksson, Thomas G:son, Thomas Karlsson)
Kalle Johansson gets his Melodifestivalen ticket as the winner of this summer’s Svensktoppen Nästa competition. His song has been described to us as “an up-tempo pop song with a strong melody that is extremely catchy”. And no one does up-tempo pop melodies like Thomas G:son does them. So we’re on board.
Kristin Amparo – I See You
(Kristin Amparo, David Kreuger, Fredrik Kempe)
The lead female vocal on what is unquestionably the biggest hit in Sweden of 2014, Albin’s ‘Din Soldat’, Kristin Amparo makes her debut at Melodifestivalen 2015. The last time she appeared on a music contest TV show, she was left stranded at judges houses in the over 25’s category, in Sweden’s first and only series of X Factor in 2012. Since then she’s provided the vocal to John de Sohn’s big club hit ‘Dance Our Tears Away’ and of course Albin’s ‘Din Soldat’. For ‘I See You’, she joins forces with Melodifestivalen’s most successful songwriter of all time, Fredrik Kempe. And when we asked for the gossip on the song, it was described to us as “haunting melody, epic but especially made for a really REALLY good vocalist. Piano, orchestra, maybe drums – we’ll see”. It’s a ballad. Her contribution to the hit of the year is going to be a big sell on the night, so we’d say that she’s already a favourite to make the final.
Ellen Benediktson – Insomnia
(Ellen Benediktson, Anderz Wrethov)
After last year’s successful debut, Ellen is unsurprisingly back to compete again. What WILL be surprising to Melodifestivalen viewers though, is that ‘Insomnia’ is nothing like ‘Songbird’. Whereas that was the type of music that Ellen today admits she never listens to, ‘Insomnia’ is much more her bag. And if you’d like a reference point, it makes more sense to listen to her single from this summer, ‘When The Sun Comes Up’. As far as we’re concerned, that top she’s wearing says it all – and ‘Insomnia’ will be to ‘Songbird’ in Melodifestivalen terms, what Sibel’s ‘Stop’ was to ‘That Is Where I’ll Go’. Amazing.
Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Jag är Fri (Manne Liem Frije)
(Jon Henrik Fjällgren, Erik Holmberg, Tony Malm, Josef Melin)
It’s been QUITE the year for this young reindeer herding Sami. He appeared on Talang (Sweden’s Got Talent), and with his self-composed song and the story behind it, went on to win the whole thing. This six minute audition video explains Jon’s charm and USP far better than we can. And since then he’s gone on to release a hit album, and perform at Allsång på Skansen. It was a bit of a no-brainer that he’d end up at Melodifestivalen, and here he is – to commence what’s bound to be another eventful year for him in 2015. The Swedish public who have encountered him seem to have a lot of affection towards him – and we can’t see that running out by the time February rolls around.
Andreas Johnson – Living To Die
(Andreas Johnson, Bobby Ljunggren, Karl-Ola Kjellholm)
Andreas Johnson’s sixth time participating in Melodifestivalen as an artist – and that’s in only ten years. We don’t think we’ve played any of his songs since their respective contests, so we’re not exactly thrilled to see him try his luck again. That said though, while he’s never contributed a song that we’ve loved, he’s never contributed a bad one either. And with Ljunggren and Kjellholm on board, we won’t write the whole thing off just yet. Johnson has described the song as a suggestive mid-tempo ballad with an emphasis on the vocals. *croak*
HEAT 4: Örebro, February 28th
Caroline Wennergren – Black Swan
(Nicklas Eklund, Joel DeLuna, Aimee Bobruk)
She made her Melodifestivalen debut in 2005 with the quite frankly horrendous ‘A Different Kind of Love’. But then what do we know – it finished fifth in the final. 10 years later she’s back, after popping up on a few tours and releasing a second album. She describes ‘Black Swan’ as a retro, old-fashioned song with a modern gloss. And it’s been described to us as a “mid-tempo song with a very strong melody“.
JTR – Building It Up
(JTR (John Andreasson, Tom Lundbäck, Robin Lundbäck), Erik Lewander, Iggy Strange Dahl)
A Swedish boyband of brothers, who found fame on the 2013 series of Australian X Factor (they moved to Aus when they were young). They’ve just released their debut album, and while there wasn’t a bad song on there, we did also remark last week that every song sounds similar to the previous one. So if you’re looking for an indication of how ‘Building It Up’ sounds, we’d put forward a guess that it sounds something like their biggest hit ‘Ride’. Songwriter Erik Lewander has written for September in the Nordics, Girls Generation in the far East, and Sarah Connor down in Germany. While Iggy Strange Dahl has joined Erik on his September contributions, and previously entered Melodifestivalen in 2010 as a composer of the underbart ‘Underbart’.
Midnight Boy – Don’t Say No
(Johan Krafman, Kristofer Östergren, Olle Blomström)
He’s featured on these pages with both of his singles, ‘Roll With It’ and ‘When You’re Strange’. For the latter’s video, he famously stripped naked and marched through Stockholm’s Stureplan on a cold Winter afternoon (and yes, the video’s in that link….and yes, you do get to see his cock). He describes his song as being inspired from eighties music, a selection of the most infamous sounds from the era. In the songwriting process, he was joined by Kristofer out of Melody Club.
Annika Herlitz – Ett Andetag
(Amir Aly, Maciel Numhauser, Robin Abrahamsson, Sharon Dyall, Sharon Vaughn)
Annika Herlitz played the voice of Elsa in the Swedish language translation of the Disney film Frozen, singing what’s arguably been the most famous song of the past 12 months, ‘Let It Go’ (or ‘Slå Dig Fri’ as Annika performed it). So while most of us might not be familiar with her name, it does make perfect sense that Annika Herlitz should compete in Melodifestivalen 2015. About the song we’ve been told “I would describe ‘Ett Andetag’ as a classic big ballad with elements from modern musicals. Lush strings, big orchestration and powerful backing vocals. The song is about when you come to the point in a relationship where you are just seconds away from either saving or destroying it. Annika’s voice is a perfect match to the song’s melody (which spans two octaves…)”. Annika’s currently starring in the Swedish stage production of Evita alongside Charlotte Perrelli, and describes her song as a powerballad.
Hasse Andersson – Guld Och Gröna Skogar
(Anderz Wrethov, Elin Wrethov, Johan Bejerholm, Johan Deltinger)
A former rock, country and dansband star who has released in and around 20 albums. And this is his biggest hit. He says that he’s been asked to do Melodifestivalen before, but the three minute song rule always got in the way – as he likes to write much longer songs. Now though, he’s got a book to promote – a biography about his life and his music. And four songwriters have written the track for him, so that he doesn’t have to worry about limiting his own scribings to three minutes. Johan and Johan have specialised in pop and dance with an ethnic twist over the years, as has Anderz Wrethov (Behrang Miri’s ‘Jalla Dansa Sawa’ and Frida & Headline’s ‘Upp och Hoppa’ being his biggest Melodifestivalen hits, and ‘Always’ by Arash & Aysel being his biggest Eurovision hit). And if they can make Hasse Andersson adopt that style, that’s some big respect we’ll have for them!
Dinah Nah – Make Me (La La La)
(Dinah Nah, Dr Alban, Jakke Erixson, Karl-Ola Kjellholm)
Former member of the yesteryear Eurohouse act Caramell, Dinah Nah has more recently been wowing us and making it onto these pages with big tunes like ‘I Am’ and ‘Like You’. And she’s promised an energetic performance this time around too. The songwriter name to make note of on that list of credits is Jakke Erixson. He was behind both of Alvaro Estrella’s 10/10 singles this year (including his Melodifestivalen song ‘Bedroom’) and he’s contributed songs to the likes of Sanna Nielsen, Helena Paparizou, and Christina Aguilera. He also wrote the mega successful Swedish Idol winner’s single last year, ‘Belong’ by Kevin Walker.
Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes
(Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad, Joy Deb, Linnea Deb)
His third time competing as an artist, six years after he last performed on the stage. He’s barely been out of the spotlight since then though, appearing as a host of Melodifestivalen 2010, and then as the presenter of Allsång på Skansen for three years from 2011. He then returned to pop with a more ‘grown-up’ sound, but to large indifference if truth be told. We’re putting that down to timing though, rather than the quality of the music – the sublime lead single ‘Broken Parts’ was released inexplicably on the same day as the Melodifestivalen 2013 finalists, and the album ‘Barcelona Sessions’ at the same time as this year’s lot in February. As for ‘Heroes’, we’ve been given two descriptions. “A big modern pop tune. Not ‘Cara Mia’ at all”. And also “an epic up-tempo song. Like John Newman meets Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’”. The songwriters on board are big names themselves. As well as Anton, we have Joy and Linnea Deb who were behind both Ace Wilder’s ‘Busy Doin Nothin’ and ‘Robin Stjernberg’s ‘You’. He’s a big favourite to win. And the two horse race that Melodifestivalen 2015 is already looking like (betting agencies already have Zelmerlöw and Saade down as equal favourites, neck and neck), it’s looking like the winner could come down to what the public want most – a massive Melodifestivalen hit or a massive radio hit.
(all images from svt.se, and courtesy of Anders Wiklund/Henrik Montgomery/TT)