The last of the national finals of 2021 (as is usually the case), Sweden’s Melodifestivalen remains the biggest and best known of those national finals (if one excludes Italy’s Sanremo which is something different). This 61st edition of the show has been covid-affected with the shows filmed in the same TV studio with no live audience rather than the usual tour around arenas in different Swedish cities.
The show format has remained the same though with four semi-finals and the “second chances” round and there have been plenty of familiar faces among the contestants, many of whom have reached the final 12. The final takes place from 7pm UK time on Saturday 13 March – but who will be going to Rotterdam for Sweden?
Melfest probably gets analysed more than any other final in terms of who might win, who will get the votes of which age group etc. and there are around four big favourites, including some former Eurovision artists.
Tusse is the big favourite going into the final – YouTube views, Spotify plays and the overall betting all seem to point to that. He has a very good voice, I just wish it wasn’t deployed in quite such a typical Melfest-y song and production – competent but nothing particularly surprising or challenging about it.
Eric Saade “Every Minute”
While Tusse is the favourite, former Melfest winner and Eurovision entrant Eric Saade is back again, hoping to make a return to the Eurovision stage after his third place result in 2011 with “Popular“. Eric shows some nifty moves in his cricket gear, but it does suffer from that somewhat soulless, over produced feel one does get with many (male solo) Melfest entries. The lyrics are pretty basic and I find the autotuned backing hook “oh nananana” quite irritating. Still, I know I may be in my minority in my view of this!
Dotter “Little Dot”
Last year’s runner up (by just one point!) Dotter has returned with, in my view, a better song. Or at least, I prefer this to “Bulletproof” (and Dotter’s “Laserboobs” look). It still has the distinctive Melfest produced sound, but I think it has more heart than the efforts of the male solo songs in the final. While Dotter was the favourite last year, this hasn’t been leading in the various download and play charts so she may have to come back another year.
The Mamas “In the Middle”
The Mamas were last year’s winners, pipping Dotter to the prize, but not long after their emotional win when John Lundvik got to hand the trophy on to his backing singers from the previous year, the news came that the contest was cancelled. That was a great pity as I think their entry “Move” was better than “Too Late for Love” (the 2019 entry).
It was swiftly confirmed there would not automatically be given the 2021 slot so they have had to come back to see if they can win the Melfest title (for the third time if you include 2019). This entry is not as strong as Move but still showcases their vocals, their harmonies and of course, their warmth. They aren’t the big favourites this time, but don’t rule them out by any means.
The outsiders (including my favourite)
While those four are the main favourites, there is chance a winner could come from the other eight participants. I’ve listed the most likely winner from the remaining artists (which happens to be my favourite) as well as a familiar face who has returned once again to the contest.
Clara Klingenström “Behöver inte dig idag”
Clara Klingenström has been the great surprise of this year’s Melfest, winning through to the final from “Andra Chancen” beating the very popular Eva and Ewa in the process. In stark contrast to most of the heavily produced and staged Melfest entries, Clara’s song is a far more stripped back, simpler affair. It’s a really uplifting song, with a good songwriting team behind it (including a writer who has written several Melfest winning songs).
Delightfully, it is in Swedish and Clara has vowed to keep it in Swedish in the event she wins. That still feels like a long shot, but there is wind in this song’s sails now, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. Probably not enough to win, but it really would be wonderful if this did go to Rotterdam (and would be first time Sweden sent a song in Swedish since 1998).
Charlotte Perrelli “Still Young”
I couldn’t do this preview without a shout out to Charlotte Perrelli (née Nilsson), former Eurovision winner in 1999 with the iconic “Take Me to Your Heaven” and a contestant again in 2008 with “Hero“. She’s made a Melfest final again with a fun schlagerpop song that actually conveys a great message. I don’t think she minds how she does, she’s enjoying her time on the show again and that’s all that matters really!
Twelve songs but only one can go on to win and represent the second most successful Eurovision country of all time at this year’s contest. My heart is with Clara, my head says it will be Tusse (or Eric).
The show can be viewed via SVT’s website.