(Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/SVT)
The result: The most important result of the night was that not only did the right songs go through to the next stages of the contest, but that the songs that were actually songs went through. So Edward Blom’s ‘Livet På En Pinne’ – the ‘joke’ act of the night – crashed out of the heat in 5th place, meaning that four artists who have made this whole music thing their career, got to progress in its place. Well done, Sweden. You’ve screwed it up countless times before, but last night you did good.
The winners: Oh yeah. Benjamin Ingrosso delivered that classic kind of Melodifestivalen super performance – the sort that requires the show to have a short break in between its performance and that of the song that was performed before it, so as to bring out all of the tech wizardry that the record label has spent a fortune on. It paid off for Benjamin Ingrosso though. His performance of ‘Dance You Off’ made it seem like you were watching an actual music video, not that he was merely performing on the same stage that six other artists has just been singing on minutes before. Proper popstar stuff. He’s joined in the final by John Lundvik – previously a songwriter for other artists, he came to Melodifestivalen with a song called ‘My Turn’. The message was loud and clear, and well received by Sweden. Take your turn and run with it. Particularly if it’s with the sort of ballad that’s so well crafted and well staged, that Russia would sacrifice actual lives in order to have a shot of taking it to Eurovision and finishing in second place again.
The second chancers: Idol graduate Renaida gave the perfect Melodifestivalen debutante performance, with the most banging of bangers. Our favourite song of the night, and we’re very pleased that she’ll get another shot at taking it to the final, at the second chance round that takes place on the first Saturday of March. Also getting another shot at final glory is Sigrid Bernson. We’re also big fans of her song ‘Patrick Swayze’, though due to its similarities in sound and style to Ace Wilder’s first Melodifestivalen entry, we just couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole thing would have been done so much better by the lady herself. We’ll probably forget all about that though, over the next few weeks as ‘Patrick Swayze’ plays on repeat ’round these parts. The artist and song combo seemed like it was destined to be a classic Melodifestivalen 5th placer. So last night’s result felt like a proper victory for her.
The losers: Dame Kikki. You’ll always be a legend to us. And we hope you didn’t really expect to finish much higher than you did. Though you definitely didn’t deserve to finish dead last in 7th place.
The worst of the night: Where do we even begin with the cold, rotting mess that was the Kamferdrops performance? Ok let’s start with the song. A song that SVT clearly didn’t even listen to (despite it having been available online for eight years – but that’s another story for another day), but just screamed “WE’LL TAKE IT! YOU’RE IN”, overjoyed by the fact that the artist behind one of the biggest hits in Sweden last year, wanted to be a part of Melodifestivalen right away, rather than in a year’s time when the hits had inevitably dried up. ‘Solen Lever Kvar Hos Dig’ might have charms that will make themselves known to us at a later date, but for those three minutes on that Melodifestivalen stage, it just wasn’t anywhere near strong enough to ever be a real contender. It’s subdued, it’s uncomfortably static, and it feels a lot longer than it actually is. This coupled with the artist’s live vocal, which – if we’re being kind – could be at best classed as ‘niche’, would have been bad enough. But then there was the performance. The mask – albeit her trademark – just made her seem like she thought she was above it all, and it might have been cuter had Sia not been peddling the same visual gag for the past five years. And then there was everything else going on around her on stage. Everything seeming more and more like an increasingly desperate attempt to come across as quirkier and quirkier. We’ve enjoyed plenty of Melodifestivalen car crashes down through the years, but that one was just too painful to watch by the end. How the massive team around her watched that all unfold through countless rehearsals over the past few days, and didn’t step in, we’ll never know. But we hope she recovers from it. We’re sending her our best wishes this morning.
The show: Was stolen by Fab Freddie. Make him the sole host of the rest of the heats. Make him the host of Eurovision 2019 when Sweden inevitably brings it back home. He was a brilliant addition to the live show by SVT. A charismatic and confident host that knew how to charm the audience – whether they were sat in the arena or at home. David Lindgren was there too.
The final word: If you were in any doubt before now, last night proved that Melodifestivalen has fully evolved into a platform for contemporary pop music ready-made for the charts, by artists who are either currently having, or capable of having, hits outside of this context. That’s clearly what it’s been striving towards for the last few years. And it’s definitely there now. A very different contest to what it was ten years ago, that’s true. But still just as essential.
You can watch the whole thing again right here. Possibly only until Sunday evening when it will be taken down again. Maybe Monday evening.
You can find the best of the week’s songs (aside from the two winners, who won’t be released for another three weeks) on our Best New Pop playlist.
And here you can watch all performances (again – the two winners will be uploaded in a few weeks);