(photo: Stina Stjernkvist)

Last night in Sweden we got to witness one of our favourite story arcs that exists throughout all of pop music. Quite possibly our favourite story arc of them all, come to think of it. That of the redemption of the schlager diva.

Charlotte Perrelli is an icon, a legend and a superstar. At this point, nothing can take that away from her. But in the world of song contests, such a status does not always translate into success – a sobering fact she’s been all too familiar with in recent years. Back in 2012, she returned to Melodifestivalen having won it the last time she’d competed. She came back with the undeniable banger ‘The Girl’, but was alas rewarded with only a 5th-place finish in her heat, progressing no further in the competition. She tried her luck once more in 2017 – and with an entirely different approach (one we rarely speak of on these pages, and which we’d rather not go into now either) – but did even worse, finishing in last place in her heat. Hell, even when she did win Melodifestivalen in 2008 with ‘Hero’, her result at the subsequent Eurovision Song Contest was one she’d probably rather forget, only making the final thanks to the kindness of the juries.

So when you consider all of that, really nothing is guaranteed at Melodifestivalen. And so despite her star status, she returned to the 2021 competition with the view that anything other than a last-place finish in her heat would be an improvement. Literally – the bare minimum of hopes and dreams in a schlager context.

Which makes it all the more sweeter when she appears on that stage, strutting, voguing and posing her way through what is the best song she’s released in almost a decade, and is rewarded by a grateful Sweden by being voted directly through to the final. A moment that was sweet for all of us fans of hers, but which will have been unimaginably sweet for the great diva herself.

Last night Sweden didn’t just get it right – they made it right. And in record numbers, too –  last night’s 647,000 is more voters than a Melodifestivalen heat has ever had.

She was joined in the final by the development of another great story arc that we enjoy seeing unfold before our eyes – that of the super-talented newcomer getting the success they so deserve. Tusse is one of Sweden’s brightest new talents in the music world, both an impressive singer and a compelling performer. And whatever happens in the final with his song ‘Voices’, we hope it’s his next great springboard to domestic pop superstardom. And after that, why not – the world!

Last night’s results in full:

Finalist: Charlotte Perrelli – Still Young
Finalist: Tusse – Voices

Andra Chansen: Klara Hammarström – Beat Of Broken Hearts
Andra Chansen: Alvaro Estrella – Baila Baila

5th place: Emil Assergård – Om Allting Skiter Sig
6th place: Mustasch – Contagious
7th place: Elisa – Den Du Är

Both Elisa and that song deserved so much better. But hey, if last night’s results taught us anything, it’s to believe that Elisa herself might well be being primed for that Charlotte Perrelli-sized change of fortunes in the contest when she next comes back. That’s the only solace we can take from her result last night, and we’d appreciate if you’d let us have it, thank you very much.

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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