(photo: Stina Stjernkvist)

In a Melodifestivalen that’s taking place in a slightly different way to the norm, comfort in familiarity was at least found in terms of the results. The slick, expensive show number that performed last in its heat went direct to the final, and was joined by the old-fashioned party tune that was obviously going to put the biggest smile on everyone’s faces. Meanwhile, the schlager diva beloved by so many, took on the journey so often frequented by the tragic diva role: the final or 5th-place face-off – ending, as it more often than not does, in tears.

This year, SVT are going with the tagline Inget Stoppar Mello. And it rang true last night – our beloved show is back, everything is at it was, and for 90 glorious minutes, the only problem we have in this world is Jessica Andersson not progressing further in the competition.

Last night’s results in full;

Finalist: Danny Saucedo – Dandi Dansa
Finalist: Arvingarna – Tänker Inte Alls Gå Hem

Andra Chansen: Paul Rey – The Missing Piece
Andra Chansen: Lillasyster – Pretender

5th place: Jessica Andersson – Horizon
6th place: Kadiatou – One Touch
7th place: Nathalie Brydolf – Fingerprints

Jessica Andersson’s elimination from the contest wasn’t the only disappointment last night, however. ‘One Touch’ by Kadiatou was clearly capable of achieving a lot more – but it seemed like the artist was giving a lot less than she herself was capable of. Oh what could have been for that banging song and the incredible staging it was afforded.

But enough about the losses, we have enough gains to focus on. Specifically our first two finalists. With ‘Dandi Dansa’
and ‘Tänker Inte Alls Gå Hem’, it’s the first time two Swedish-language songs have gone direct to the final from the same heat in 14 years – since Heat 1 in 2007! And they’re two big show numbers that are already making the Melodifestivalen 2021 final look like an attractive evening’s worth of entertainment on March 13th. If things continue as they went last night, it’ll safely remain the unmissable event it is every other year.

SVT have already revealed that a record number of voters made their voices heard in Sweden last night – 628,624 individuals, to be precise. And with an increased focus on reaching an international audience through social media this year (and bravo for that, SVT), #Melfest became the number 1 trending topic on Twitter in Spain at one point throughout the evening, reaching as high as number 7 in the UK. Despite limitations and restrictions – Melodifestivalen 2021 is on course to be one of the biggest of all time.

Lastly, we can’t talk about last night’s show without mentioning the person who held it all together – Lena Philipsson. Yes, it was slightly jarring experiencing the show in such a different setting, and with no live audience, but only for the first five minutes or so. Thanks to Lena (her familar, matter-of-fact style, her deadpan deliveries, and her good-humoured approach to the skits), we soon forgot that anything was all that different. Instead, we just sat back and took in the show in whatever way she deemed appropriate to deliver it to us. Because you don’t argue with Lena Philipsson. You just wouldn’t, would you? And in that respect, she was an inspired choice as the host to kick off this year’s contest-with-a-difference.

You can watch the whole thing again (only until Monday evening at 23:59, when it will be removed) over on SVTPlay.

You can watch the performances (only those that finished between 3rd and 7th – the top two won’t be released until after the fourth heat) over on Melodifestivalen’s YouTube channel. The same applies to the songs – five of the seven are already available on Spotify or wherever it is you get your music. ‘One Touch’ by Kadiatou, for one, is particularly worth revisiting in its studio recording….

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