Sweden’s Eurovision hopefuls. Photo credit: eurovision.tv (publicity photo)
Eurovision is a big deal in Sweden. Of course I knew it was popular before becoming a contributor to this website yet discovering how important it seems to be to Swedes has left me dumbfounded. Saturday night was only my second time watching a Melodifestivalen show and couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the UK’s X Factor with a highly charged packed audience and phone voters at home texting and calling for their preferred performer. Sweden has won the competition 5 times and has sent acts like ABBA who embody all what is great about European music with their flamboyance and fun.
Sweden has chosen their candidate for this year’s semi final who hopes to replicate some of the success ABBA have had in the famous competition. Måns Zelmerlöw fended off competition from 12 other finalists young and old with his catchy tune Heroes and will now strut his stuff at semi-finals on May the 19th in Vienna. Although the song has its merits and he has a powerful likable voice it is the stunning choreography where the singer seems to be creating creatures with his hands that set this one apart from its rivals.
The night kick started with the young pop duo Samir and Viktor who finished their set falling on to a bed in tandem; they clearly have appeal for teenage girls although Samir has a fake tan only an Essex boy would be proud of. Their song needed a punchier chorus to compete with Zelmerlow. An act that I thought would take the eventual winner to the wire but finished third from bottom was Dinah Nah. Her track, comically named, Make me lala, has a thumping dance beat throughout and the crowd seemed to react well to it and with her classic Scandinavian good looks, albeit with dyed pink hair, she has star quality. I am sure she’ll be back next year.
Other performers that deserve a mention include the Colombian born Jon Henrik Fjallgren who finished third with his soothing multi-instrumental Jag Ar Fri (Manne Leam Frijje) that seems to have drawn influence from traditional South American music. The eventual runner up Mariette demonstrated her powerful yet dark and brooding voice well with her song Don’t Stop Believing with her stage persona having a hint of Kate Bush about it.
The last act of evening, Hasse Andersson, a 67 year old country singer, clearly had charmed the audience by singing in Swedish and strumming his acoustic guitar but in age where the act is as important as the song perhaps Sweden and the panel has chosen the act that combines flair and substance and one that could perform well in the final. Judging how serious a business Eurovision is in Sweden failing to qualify for the grand final, like in 2010, would be a disaster.