(photo: Stine Stjernkvist)

The second heat of Melodifestivalen wrapped last night, with the evening giving us a finalist that’s our first real contender for the 2021 win, two debut hosts that will definitely be invited back, and an invaluable backing vocalist whom we suspect will also be invited back!

It felt like a very different show to last week’s first heat. Heat 2 brought with it new features, lots of respectful nods to Melodifestivalen’s past, and a fresh energy from the two hosts – Oscar Zia and Anis Don Demina. While Lena Philipsson’s more commandeering approach was required last week to usher in a different kind of year for the contest, Anis and Oscar whipped the show up into more of a party this week, with noticably great chemistry, quick humour and an impressively natural talent for hosting. They definitely have a job to come back to in future years, should they wish to.

Last night’s results in full:

Finalist: Dotter – Little Tot
Finalist: Anton Ewald – New Religion

Andra Chansen: Frida Green – The Silence
Andra Chansen: Eva Rydberg & Ewa Roos – Rena Rama Ding Dong

5th place: Patrik Jean – Tears Run Dry
6th place: Wahl feat. Sami – 90-Talet
7th place: Julia Alfrida – Rich

Sweden’s journey to Dotterdam – sorry, Rotterdam – in May got placed firmly on track last night with what felt like the first very real contender for the Melodifestivalen win making it though to that final. ‘Little Tot’ is an exhilerating pop song that feels like an epic contained within its mere three minutes. And Dotter performs it precisely as required – with all the confidence of someone who feels that they’ve already won. Of course there are another 14 songs to come next Saturday and the Saturday after, and so nothing is guaranteed in the contest. But we do think she’s guaranteed to have another monster hit with it, whatever happens. And we can also imagine that regardless of what comes from heats three and four, ‘Little Tot’ will be putting up a strong fight in that top three on March 13th.

One finalist that may have a more difficult shot at things in March is ‘New Religion’ by Anton Ewald. Not because of the song (it’s a banger), the staging (omg lasers) or the man himself (charm personified), but because of what happened during the song’s reprise, once it had made it to the final. Anton – who has been away from Sweden for almost half a decade, and not released any music during that time – had quite the emotional time of it during said reprise. At times it appeared he was crying, and at other times it seemed like he was laughing in disbelief – clearly he had not expected to be welcomed back as warmly as he was. It was a moment that will have endeared him to many viewers, who will have found it quite touching. But the fact is, while all this was happening, the song continued to be played and the vocals continued to be heard – despite Anton neither singing nor even miming. Such a consequence would probably be overlooked by all were it a regular performance on a different kind of show, but in the context of a contest – in which viewers are voting for one of 12 acts – it’s an unflattering picture that some voters will most likely bring with them into the final in March. And so he may need to re-work his next performance slightly, and make it clear that he’s the one doing the singing – live – if he wants to get those voters back on board.

Elsewhere in the voting, it was a very pleasant surprise to see Eva & Ewa’s adorably comedic shenanigans be rewarded with a ticket to progress further in the competition. ‘Rena Rama Ding Dong’, and all the bells and whistles that come with it, is precisely what the world needs right now. And so it was heartening to learn that we’ll be getting another does of it on March 6th, with a view to potentially receiving a third jab on March 13th.

A much less pleasant surprise was Patrik Jean crashing out of the competition in 5th place – like so many other greats before him. A newcomer to the contest, though not to music, Melodifestivalen was to be his wider launch to Swedish pop fans. And while the song ‘Tears Run Dry’ and its flawless performance (vocals and staging a highlight of the night) were indeed a great launch, we do believe that it was destined for much greater than the result it got. But we suspect that it won’t be the last we see of him in the contest. Either as an artist, or as a winning songwriter.

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.

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