The big daddy of the national finals reaches its culmination this Saturday (9 March) and fittingly is the last national final of the season. 12 finalists have made it through the semi-finals and Second Chances stages to have a chance of representing the most successful Eurovision country of the last 20 years. I’ve not gone through all the finalists, but here’s a preview of the favourites and a couple of guilty pleasures too.
The big favourite
John Lundvik – “Too Late For Love”
After coming third in last year’s Melfest, John Lundvik looks set to represent Sweden this year, with the betting making him a strong favourite. John was actually born in London but was adopted by a Swedish couple living there and moved to Sweden as a small child. That’s not the only UK connection John has though – he’s co-writer of the UK’s entry this year, “Bigger Than Us”. So he could end up with two songs in the Eurovision final! It’s a big uplifting song with a gospel-sounding chorus – think the jury-winning Austria last year.
The other top contenders
There are a cluster of finalists who might deny John the win, though they are some way behind in the odds at the moment…
Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO – “Hold You”
Two former Swedish Idol contestants (Hannah was runner up in 2017 and LIAMOO won it in 2016) have teamed up, and if they won, it would be the first time since 2003 that Sweden had sent a duet to Eurovision. LIAMOO has some Melfest experience, having finished 6th last year. I don’t see this as anything special, so I would be surprised if this did win through.
Bishara – “On My Own”
The impossibly young Bishara (he only turned 16 in January) will undoubtedly get a big teen and tween vote but I am keeping my fingers crossed this doesn’t win. I find the lyrics of the song a bit ludicrous (and not a little disconcerting – with lines like “come to my bed” etc.) coming from someone his age, and this really does feel more JESC than proper Eurovision. Bishara is also active in his local (Syrian Orthodox) church and states that his gift for singing comes from Jesus. Which only makes the dissonance with the lyrics and his age all the greater!
Wiktoria – “Not With Me”
Wiktoria is an old hand at Melfest now, having competed in both the 2016 and 2017 finals, finishing fourth and sixth respectively. She’s back with a heartfelt ballad, and she certainly puts a lot of emotion into it (and it’s far superior to the other slow female ballad in the final). A female solo singer hasn’t won Melfest since 2014 though, so the odds are against her.
A few guilty pleasures
Well, when I say guilty, I don’t feel that guilty actually. We enjoy what we enjoy after all! This next group are less likely to win, but they’ve provided some new Euroschlager classics for us to cherish.
Lina Hedlund – “Victorious”
An out and out slice of schlager cheese, I was delighted when this went direct to the final. It’s such a classic bit of Swedish/Melfest pop, it’s a delight to have this back in the final as this genre is now an endangered species. Lina Hedlund is, lest we forget, was a member of Alcazar so her pedigree for dance pop and schlager couldn’t be better! This has no chance of winning so enjoy her moment in the spotlight of the final!
Anna Bergendahl – “Ashes To Ashes”
This has become a real favourite among the fandom and there was much jubilation when this made it through Andra chansen to make the final. Anna actually won Melfest in 2010 but her fate at Eurovision was to be the first and, to date, only Swedish entry not to qualify to the grand final. Now 27, I am sure she and the fans would love to see her have another go – and there is an outside chance (though slim) she might just get to do that.
Arvingarna – “I Do”
And finally, I am including this for my partner who loves this one. Arvingarna represented Sweden at Eurovision in 1993, finishing 7th, and this is very much a nostalgic throwback to that time!
So there are a further five acts competing, including 2017’s runner up, Nano, as well as serial finalist Jon Henrik Fjällgren. But who do YOU think will win and carry forward Sweden’s quest to match Ireland’s record seven Eurovision victories?