11 March 2017
Melodifestivalen, the traditional highlight of the Eurovision national final season, has been hit and miss over the years. It’s ranged from rubbish to the sublime. This year it’s back at its best with a quality final, with many quality songs in the semi finals not even reaching the second chance stage. Add to that, big names of Loreen and Charlotte Pirrelli – losers! Yes, these former Eurovision winners are not in the final, with the latter not even reaching the second chance round. Personal favourite semi final loser was Bella & Filippa with their infectious country/pop song called Crucified, which was indeed crucified in semi final 3 when it lost to that Boogieman Blues garbage of Owe Thörnqvist. Dinah Nah, Roger Pantare, and Krista Siegfrids were other big names to fail.
(Scroll down for the review)
In Sweden’s unique, curious and often stupid wisdom, Sveriges Television has blocked their official youtube content to several countries, including Australia, and seemed to have blocked any uploads of full performances from anywhere else. Only snippets and compilations are available. So links are to the artists’ pages on the SVT website, where the full song can be viewed. Even that could be problematic on mobile devices with the website demanding you use the official SVT app. There you can watch replays of the semi finals, not individual songs. Anyway, we persist!
PREVIEW – THOSE TO WATCH
Previous I’ve called her Trash Wilder because of her trashy style and sound. This year, she finally took the trash out and has arrived at her best Melfest song by far. Visually she’s still a bit trashy, which is ok if the song is as enjoyable as this. It’s her third attempt after a second in 2014 and fourth in 2016, so credit for the perseverance.
02 Boris Rene – Her Kiss
Standard soulful pop, qualifying only through the second chance round. Pass.
This is the one that’s grown on me most, with it stuck in my head all week, and I’ve had to be careful not to sing too loud the key lyric when riding home from work this week. Lisa’s picked a wretchedly tough year to return after a decent effort last year. This year she’s an also-ran unless there’s enough people that go giggly or are shocked over hearing the f-word.
Another with a foul mouth, there’s something in this song that makes me recoil profoundly from within. Unlike Robin’s suave appearance last year, he has a predatory look this year, and coupled with the f-word and a way too slick presentation, it’s like he’s trying to intimidate the audience into liking it. Unfortunate, because the song is good to stand on its own, and is among the favourites.
A rare Swedish language song in the final, and it’s a damn good one! Superb vocals and feel. With Sweden’s obsession with international juries, I wonder whether enough will go for this over the more derivative stuff like Robin Bengtsson.
06 Anton Hagman – Kiss You Goodbye
Anton shocked Sweden, Loreen and himself when he knocked Loreen’s pretentious Statements out in their second chance duel. It’s rather bland boy-band pop without the band. Will sink in this strong year.
Third in 2015 with Don’t Stop Believing, Mariette hasn’t stopped believing and is back with a much superior song. Again, this is such a strong superior year, so she has a challenge to win.
08 FO&O – Gotta A Thing About You
From the second chance round, cheap boy-band sing-along that’s only making up the numbers.
I wonder if one of his parents was a huge fan of Mork and Mindy? Nano nano. All the rage online after qualifying direct from the first semi final, emotions have tempered after subsequent semi finals. Still a HUGE chance to win, notably because he’s an unfashionable larger guy, he lacks the standard MF polish, and Swedes often get behind stories or personalities. Plus, it’s a great song!
Wiktoria was my clear favourite last year with Save Me, and is back with her unique country-infused pop with As I Lay Me Down. Arguably not as good as Save Me, which finished fourth, it’s still excellent and continues her trademark of a catchy beat and rhythm, and is badly needed in Kyiv to provide some sort of up-tempo and interesting diversity to the entries.
11 Benjamin Ingrosso
Has MF returned to the days of 10 songs in the final? It should if these last two are any indication. *copy and paste from song 6* “It’s rather bland boy-band pop without the band. Will sink in this strong year.”
12 Owe Thörnqvist – Boogieman Blues
I’m hoping it’s a battle between the key three returning female artists of Wiktoria, Mariette and Ace Wilder, and it seems online opinion suggests that is most likely. The main spoiler is actually each other – splitting votes and then allowing Robin Bengtsson, Jon Henrik or Nano to blitz through. In fact, it could be quite an even jury vote with the televote proving decisive and to go all one way. While Ace might deserve it as this is her third go, my heart must stick with the best song, and I’m hoping the Swedish public do likewise. Go Wiktoria! Save me! Save Eurovision!
So much for Sweden Decides, it was the International Jury Decides, when Robin Bengtsson won Melodifestivalen for 2017 thanks to a dominating 20 point lead from the international jury. He finished with 96 points, 20 ahead of Nano. Despite Nano then winning the televote ahead of Robin in third, under Sweden’s proportional points allocation system, he only collected 57 points compared to Robin’s 50. That’s because only 1.3% separated Nano and Robin, which converted to the 7 point difference, leaving Nano 13 points adrift overall. Under the old system, Nano would have earned 24 points more than Robin – enough to win by 3.
Any long term reader of this blog will be aware of my constant carping at MF’s voting system. While the proportional allocation does alleviate the huge bias towards the televote of the old system (you needed 12 points from every jury to get the same points as the televote winner – impossible), now the bias is towards the jury because there’s no proportional points there. The jury’s favourite gets 12 points, that’s it. There’s no adjustment if, for example, Robin, Nano and Wiktoria can’t be split by a jury so they award 10 points to each of them. No, they must split the three and go 12, 10 and 8. For consistency, the public vote should be converted to 12, 10 and 8, etc, too.
To compound the problem this year is the very existence of an international jury. Talk about selling out your soul merely to extract a few points at ESC. That’s the entire purpose of such an idea. In the meantime, local cultural influences are purged from your national final because the like-minded international jury only understands the derivative, generic drivel that ended up winning MF. Add an f-word for extra appeal, just to be sure. Lisa Ajax, the other foul mouthed entry this year, procured 12 points from one jury in her 16 point total. Since the introduction of full international juries in 2011, MF has moved more and more towards the lowest common denominator as each year passes. Trash and cheapness increasingly predominates – and succeeds – over style and substance. Even worse, this disease is spreading to other countries, like Finland and Norway. Stop it! We don’t need 20 MF clones deciding ESC songs.
In third was my favourite, Wiktoria. She was bashed senseless by the lame international jury, ending that phase in 8th, so Mariette was my only hope to beat the boys. No, only fifth on televote, so back to Witkoria for a miracle. No again, as her second on televote was only worth a measly 51 points and a jump to 6th place. From there I couldn’t care less. Robin was next on 10.6% followed by Jon Henrik Fjällgren with 10.3%. Looking to previous years, the highest winning percentage has ranged from 21% for Yohio and Heartbreak Hotel in 2013 and 26% for Sanna Nielsen and Undo in 2014, to 35% for Mans Zelmerlow with Heroes in 2015. Frans with If I Were Sorry was a low one with 14% in 2016. Although, he won by 5%. It shows that even if Sweden struggled to decide this year, all years the winning percentage is relatively low and the spread is quite close. So why this stupidity of proportional allocation of votes only for the televote? Winning the jury or the televote should be worth the same value, period.