Another year, another 32 songs, and another winner. However, this year’s Melodifestivalen was slightly different to previous years in the quality of the songs competing. Out of the 32 songs, we actually loved over 20 of them – that’s a hefty percentage when you consider the variety of musical genres covered, the different styles of songwriting used, and the many kinds of artists performing. So we thought it would be fun/interesting to note down our top 20 songs from this year. We waited until a few weeks after the final, as it gave time for our opinions to settle, after the excitement had died down.
We’ve also done this for the readers who don’t usually follow Melodifestivalen, or for those who never really take an interest beyond the final – we’ve included the performance videos of each of the top 20 songs, to show just how special this particular song contest is. It’s a given every year that if you follow Melodifestivalen, you’ll usually leave the experience each time with new songs that you’ve fallen in love with, and that won’t leave your playlists for quite some time.
So…if you’re new to all this – have a proper look at each of the videos below to see just what all the fuss is about. Melodifestivalen’s popularity has long transcended the borders of Sweden, and is loved by music fans the world over.
Or…if you’re an avid fan like us, then you can just take this opportunity to go over the best of this year’s songs again!
Here’s our top 20;
20. Jennifer Brown – ‘Never Been Here Before’ (Jennifer Brown/Peter Kvint)
This was one that we didn’t think we’d like at all. But we loved it. It was a charming, wistful, melancholic piece that matched a soft, soaring vocal to a waltzy, yet dramatic backing track. And it featured a beautiful string section – which we’re always partial to. Performing in Heat 2, Jennifer could only encourage 9,645 televotes – and as a result, she finished 7th out of 8 songs. And surprisingly, it’s yet to make any form of a dent in the Swedish singles chart either.
19. Marie Serneholt – ‘Disconnect Me’ (Peter Bostrom/Tony Nilsson)
Poor Marie. She was the first wildcard announced and everyone had high hopes for the song, but concerns about her live vocals. In the end, her live vocals came through absolutely fine – but the song wasn’t the stellar pop gem that we were hoping for. We do still adore it though. And her performance was a lot of fun – ending with a completely stunned looking Marie, incredulous at the fact that she’d pulled it off! ‘Disconnect Me’ sounded very much like a Eurovision song, and probably would have gone down very well at the contest. But in Heat 1, she could only finish 6th, after 23,599 televoters threw her a bone.
18. Markoolio – ‘Karlekssang Fran Mig’ (Patrik Henzel/Karl Euren/Marko Lehtosalo)
Ah Markoolio. Handsome, sweet, and unassuming. Except everyone else assumed that he’d be a definite qualifier from his heat. He’s immensely popular in Sweden; as a children’s television presenter, as a comedian, and as a novelty hit maker. Unfortunately though, he only polled 14,704 votes in Heat 2 to come 6th – despite a comedic performance (spoofing both Dima Bilan Eurovision performances) of a beautiful melodious ballad.
17. Nina Soderquist – ‘Tick Tock’ (Johan Lyander/Matti Alfonzetti)
What a song, what a performance, and what a woman. This was an amazing way to start Melodifestivalen 2009. A powerful song, with a remarkably energetic performance, given by a formiddable lady! It was a big surprise when this didn’t qualify from Heat One – it came 5th with 28,404 votes. Extra points are given because it achieved the rare feat of being a rock song that we actually really love!
16. Caroline Af Ugglas – ‘Snalla Snalla’ (Caroline Af Ugglas/Heinz Liljedahl)
At first, we really didn’t like this at all. It wasn’t until we heard it for the third time after it had qualified from Andra Chansen that we realised how brilliant a song it is. And the studio version only helped its cause. That intro is amazing! And her wholesomely passionate vocals can’t help but be admired. Overall, it’s a stunning track, and something very different from anything else in the contest this year. Which is probably why it finished 2nd in the final.
15. EMD – ‘Baby Goodbye’ (Eric Segerstedt/Mattias Andreasson/Danny Saucedo/Oscar Gorres)
This was one catchy number, opening with the chorus melody being whistled, and then launching into a slick verse, a harmony driven bridge, and then a triumphantly strong chorus. And the key change was one of the best this year. All this was helped along by an amazingly well choreographed performance. It qualified directly to the final from Heat 3 and went on to finish in 3rd place.
14. Thorleifs – ‘Sweet Kissing In The Moonlight’ (Lina Eriksson/Marten Eriksson)
This was the only through and through schlager song in this year’s Melodifestivalen – and to emphasise the point, it incorporated every schlager cliche in the book. And we loved it for it! It was a big surprise that this didn’t qualify from its heat – Thorleifs are a legendary dansband in Sweden, they’ve been going for almost 40 years! But unfortunately, it could only finish 5th in Heat 4.
13. Molly Sanden – ‘Sa Vill Stjarnorna’ (Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljungren/Marcos Ubeda)
Despite being one of the favourites to win the whole contest, and qualifying directly to the final from Heat 3, Molly Sanden finished last in the final, picking up no points from the Swedish public or juries – only recieving 2 points from the international jury vote. Even so, it was another stunning ballad in what was a really good year for slow songs. The melody is old fashioned and beautiful, and the soaring final chorus is what Disney dreams are made of! And she sang it so well too. Never mind, we’re sure she’ll be back.
12. Anna Sahlene & Maria Haukaas Storeng – ‘Killing Me Tenderly’ (Amir Aly/Henrik Wikstrom/Tobbe Petersson)
Another casualty of the horrendously difficult Heat 4. We loved this because it had a chorus that sounded like a song from Abba, Steps, or Same Difference, and a verse that sounded like a James Bond theme. Perfect! And the delivery from these two ladies was highly enjoyable too. All sultry vocals and suggestive dance moves! Plus, this song gets the award for having the best key change of the entire contest. Flawless! Unfortunately though, it came 7th in its heat, with 17,240 votes.
11. Star Pilots – ‘Higher’ (Johan Fjellstrom/Joakim Udd/Johan Becker)
The perfect sort of dance music. A great pop song that’s been hit with a layer of eighties music, and topped off with a club music makeover. ‘Higher’ was equally as catchy as their previous hit, ‘In The Heat of the Night’, and so it managed to qualify from Heat 4 to the Andra Chansen round. There, it beat Amy Diamond in the first round of voting, but was knocked out by Caroline Af Ugglas in the second round of voting, despite recieving 107, 425 votes – which is more than what Sarah Dawn Finer achieved to progress from Andra Chansen to the final. Never mind. The song has become a big hit in Sweden regardless.
10. Amy Diamond – ‘It’s My Life’ (Alexander Bard/Bobby Ljungren/Oscar Holter)
AMY! We love this little darling, have done since her first album half a decade ago – when she was only 12 bless her! And ‘It’s My Life’ is one of our favourite songs of hers – it’s Amy going all electric disco on us. The opening synths are delicious, and they don’t drop in quality for the duration of the song. The chorus is catchy as hell, and the key change is perfection. We also loved the performance – slickly choreographed with six strutting backing dancers, and Amy wrapped in a silver hologram cape and with rinklets in her hair! ‘It’s My Life’ managed to qualify to the Andra Chansen round from Heat 2, but didn’t progress any further than that unfortunately.
09. Agnes – ‘Love, Love, Love’ (Anders Hansson)
A string drenched, down-tempo intro turns into a massive, strutting disco number – with Agnes belting out her defiance at the suggestion from her friends that she could contain her feelings at this early stage in her relationship. And why is she doing that? Because she wants to feel LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! The backing track on this song is just beautiful, yet still packed with enough attitude to match the lyrics and melody. And it was performed in a gold sequinned catsuit and humongous hair! It’s already become one of the bigger hits of this year’s Melodifestivalen, and with her career starting to take off in Europe too (Denmark, Belgium, and Netherlands have just come on board, and the UK isn’t very far behind), this is a very exciting time for Agnes.
08. Sarah Dawn Finer – ‘Moving On’ (Sarah Dawn Finer/Fredrik Kempe)
We weren’t wetting ourselves in anticipation for this, as we weren’t massive fans of her 2007 entry, ‘I Remember Love’. HOWEVER, ‘Moving On’ is just absolutely epic. As epic as a three minute song can be anyway. Absolutely beautiful. It starts off with a soft piano backing, then we get a hint of drums before the chorus, then some more drums kick in during the second verse, she starts letting rip a bit more in the second chorus, teases us with a knowing glint in her voice throughout the middle eight……..and then…..and then…….*SCREAM*…just complete and total drama! And all whilst singing lyrics about moving on, getting over a let-down, and becoming stronger. It’s probably the best cure out there for a broken heart. Although, this next chap would be a pretty good method too…..
07. Mans Zelmerlow – ‘Hope & Glory’ (Fredrik Kempe/Henrik Wikstrom)
‘Hope & Glory’ is an amazing song. However, it was cursed from the beginning because it had two even more amazing songs to live up to. ‘Cara Mia’ was Mans’ previous Melodifestivalen entry from 2007 – and it’s already become a schlager classic. And it was always going to draw comparisons with ‘Hero’ by Charlotte Perrelli – as they have the exact same song structure. Regardless though, it still stands out as a brilliant song in its own right. He gave a perfect performance in the final, and based on only the jury votes – he was the favourite of the night. In the end however, he finished 4th in the final.
06. Shirley Clamp – ‘Med Hjartat Fyllt Av Ljus’ (Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljungren/Henrik Wikstrom)
After a three year absence from making schlager music, this was supposed to be Schlager Superstar Shirley’s big comeback. Unfortunately though, a sickness all week, a few bum notes on the night, whilst singing a song far more down-tempo than anyone wanted from Shirley, caused the song to finish last in its heat – with just 11,542 votes. Regardless of how disappointed we felt that she hadn’t returned to the contest with the jovial pop song we had in our dreams, ‘Med Hjartat Fyllt Av Ljus’ STILL managed to become one of our absolute favourites, such is its strength. Like ‘Moving On’ by Sarah Dawn Finer, it has a subtle start, a confident middle, and an uber dramatised ending. She mightn’t have handled the key change very well in her performance, but she certainly sounds great in the studio version. And, the Oscar Holter remix means that the song can be enjoyed as a club track too. Everyone’s happy. Even Shirley – as the song was a number one hit for her in Sweden last month, and she popped up again in the final to take the mickey out of her contest result.
05. Velvet – ‘The Queen’ (Tony Nilsson/Henrik Janson)
This was the one that we were looking forward to most of all. Thanks to the half dozen or so songs from her second album that had already been previewed, we knew that she’d be saving something very special for Melodifestivalen. And she was! ‘The Queen’ was one of the more dance orientated songs in this year’s Melodifestivalen, which was a big risk as dance songs rarely do well in the competition (The Attic and Therese anyone?!). But it was still very poppy, and had one of the most singalong choruses this year. And if the chorus was memorable – well, what can you say about the performance?! Without a doubt, the most spectacular show of the year – Velvet emerged on stage in a massive frock, only for it to open before the chorus and have six dancers escape from beneath! Unfathomably though, despite the top song and performance, Velvet only managed to finish 6th in Heat 3 with 15,985 votes. The biggest show of the year, and also the biggest surprise!
04. Susanne Alfvengren – ‘Du Ar Alskad Dar Du Gar’ (Pling Forsman/Bobby Ljungren/Henrik Wikstrom)
Another incredibly beautiful ballad from this year’s contest. And probably the most subtle, unassuming performance of the contest. Susanne started and finished the song in the same way – just standing at the microphone and interpreting it to us. At times she looked fragile, but that only suited the sentiment and the melody. There were no smiles, suggestive winks, wind machines, or key changes – don’t get us wrong, we love all of those, but we loved this song even more for not using them! Incredibly, this polled the lowest number of votes for any song out of the entire 32 entries!!! In Heat 4, it came 8th after getting 7,530 votes. Nevertheless, it’s our 4th favourite this year.
So!!! Onto our top three now! And there are still 15 songs that we haven’t mentioned, and thus 15 to battle it out for the last three places. Amongst those are the overall winner of the actual event, Malena Ernman. Two internationally successful bands, BWO and Alcazar. Three Thomas G:Son penned songs from Lili & Susie, Mikael Rickfors, and Maja Gullstrand. And other finalists, Sofia, Emilia, and H.E.A.T.!
Here’s our top three;
03. Malena Ernman – ‘La Voix’ (Fredrik Kempe)
La Voix indeed! A thoroughly deserved winner. Who’d have thought that the marriage of schlager and opera would be so harmonious? And it was quite good breeding too; from opera – internationally renowned mezzo soprano Malena Ernman, and from schlager – Fredrik Kempe, author of countless schlager classics such as Charlotte Perrelli’s ‘Hero’ and Mans Zelmerlow’s ‘Cara Mia’. The song is simply brilliant. Dramatic strings played over an unrepentant dancebeat, all backdropping Malena’s vocals. And that key change needs to be heard to be believed. It was by no means a clear victory on the night, as it was one of the toughest Melodifestivalen finals ever – but this won through in the end, and we’re hoping for similar things in Moscow, when it represents Sweden at Eurovision.
02. Alcazar – ‘Stay The Night’ (Anders Hansson/Marten Sanden/Andreas Lundstedt/Tess Merkel/Lina Hedlund)
As big Alcazar fans, it’s no small praise to say that ‘Stay The Night’ is our favourite Alcazar song of all time. Never has the production of one of their songs sounded so brimming with sheer dancefloor energy. And it’s literally got bells on! And lots of drums too. The melody is divine, the lyrics are fun, the dance breakdown in the middle eight is exciting, and the key change is immense! The performance is probably our favourite this year too, again because of the awe inspiring energy it had. Despite all of this though, it only came 5th in the final. However, both the song, and their new album have been big hits in Sweden.
And finally……….after a very close call between the top 2………and indeed, a very tough top 20……..this next song has been our absolute favourite of Melodifestivalen 2009.
01. Lili & Susie – ‘Show Me Heaven’ (Susie Paivarinta/Calle Kindbom/Thomas G:Son/Par Lonn/Nestor Geli)
Just absolute bliss. From the first second of THAT into, to the last breath at the end of the track, the entire song just exudes complete and utter euphoria! We’re not even going to try to put it into words. Just take a look at the video below. It did progress from its Heat to the Andra Chansen round, but didn’t make it to the final unfortunately. They got a top ten hit out of it though, and their new Greatest Hits album also debuted in the top ten.
And there we have it. The calibre of the twenty songs above should go quite a way in explaining why we started a website and club night dedicated to Scandinavian pop music!