13 March 2021
Sweden’s Melodifestivalen continues its renaissance for 2021 with a strong and competitive field that features the return of last year’s winners The Mamas, Dotter trying to go one place better, and previous winners and Eurovision representatives Eric Saade (2011 3rd), Charlotte Perrelli (1999 1st and 2008 18th) and Arvingarna (1993 7th). After several appallingly banal years, 2020 flipped the switch with a high quality competition, especially the final. While 2021 isn’t quite of that calibre, it’s been enjoyable so far, with the promise of an exciting final.
Semi Final 1
The first semi final kicked off Melfest well and the two direct to the final were probably the right choices. Danny Saucedo was very slick and Arvingarna were so likeable as ever. If it were up to me, the hard rockers Lillasyster to the final (instead of the second chance round) and Nathalie Brydolf to the second chance round (and then to the final) instead of Paul Rey. Her voice is so beautiful! Melfest alumni Jessica Andersson (winner in 2003 as part of Fame) was in this semi too, finishing fifth. Nice to see Lena Philipsson as host. She won the first Melfest I ever watched (2004) and I became a huge fan, buying most of her albums (Dansa I Neon from 1987 is so good!). It’s been about 10 years since I’ve checked her career so it might be time for a revisit.
Semi Final 2
Dotter was the most impressive here and a deserved finalist. The other finalist, Anton Ewald, was ok, while most of the rest weren’t much better. I’d have preferred Frida Green in the final and Julia Alfrida to the second chance round. Her voice was super nice. Unfortunately her song, Rich, wasn’t strong enough and she finished last.
Semi Final 3
Charlotte Pirrelli and Tusse were too good in this semi final, while Klara Hammarström winning her way to the final via the second chance round vindicated her strong performance here.
Semi Final 4
Clara Klingenström was really good and I was so happy that she ultimately reached the final via the second chance round. Tess Merkel with Good Life was my favourite from this semi and one of the best of all 27 entries this year, so it was sad to see her finish only fifth. Eric Saade and The Mamas – the two finalists – were nothing special. Of course, they just had to be in the final. We dare not shake it up.
Second Chance Round
Alvaro Estrella – Baila Baila
Lillasyster – Pretender
Frida Green – The Silence
Paul Rey – The Missing Piece
Eva Rydberg & Ewa Roos – Rena Rama Ding Dong
Clara Klingenström – Behöver Inte Dig Idag
Klara Hammarström – Beat Of Broken Hearts
Efraim Leo – Best of Me
In bold are the winners of each duel. Mystified as to how Paul Rey was preferred over Frida Green.
The Final – Preview
01 Danny Saucedo – Dandi Dansa
02 Klara Hammarström – Beat Of Broken Hearts
03 Anton Ewald – New Religion
04 The Mamas – In The Middle
05 Paul Rey – The Missing Piece
06 Charlotte Perrelli – Still Young
07 Tusse – Voices
08 Alvaro Estrella – Baila Baila
09 Clara Klingenström – Behöver Inte Dig Idag
10 Eric Saade – Every Minute
11 Dotter – Little Tot
12 Arvingarna – Tänker Inte Alls Gå Hem
Anton Ewald leads the pack of several solo male acts and, while his dance moves and lighting effects impress, he just doesn’t compare against the rest. The Mamas entry doesn’t quite compare to their winner last year, even though some aspects of it I like better. Paul Rey – pleasant voice, just perform last year’s entry again, please. It’s much better. Alvaro Estrella brings us our latin flavoured entry, both in song, style and performance. Not much wrong with it; there’s just others better. Fairly low-key song for Eric Saade, especially when you compare to his winning song in 2011, Popular, so he’ll hope the staging will convince enough people. Arvingarna is Arvingarna doing their thing we’ve seen so often at Melfest. A bunch of blonde Swedish boys (now men) dancing and prancing around, enhancing the local flavour.
Great visuals from Klara Hammarström, and Klara Hammarström is a great visual herself. Beat Of Broken Hearts is fine too, and is the one that just missed my top 5.
My Top 5
05 Tusse – Voices
A great story after arriving in Sweden as a refugee from Congo-Kinshasa (formerly Zaire), winning Swedish Idol in 2019, and now one of the favourites for Melfest 2021. While I’d point to his song as too formulaic for its own liking, Tusse’s style and uplifting vibe provides a point of distinction.
04 Danny Saucedo – Dandi Dansa
The most original and impressive presentation of the finalists, and a great song too. It has that intoxicating vibe to it, the extra mystique of being in Swedish, and Danny Saucedo is so dandi, and saucy!
03 Charlotte Perrelli – Still Young
Still young at 46 (I thought she’d be older), and possibly invincible too! This has the hallmarks of a Melfest winner with its big sound, strong melody and slick production – and don’t forget a top artist. It’s whether the new generation of Melfest voters will find it as appealing or it’s seen as a bit “same old” and voters look elsewhere.
02 Clara Klingenström – Behöver Inte Dig Idag
On the biggest stage of her life, Clara brings this gritty (for Melfest) rock-tinged Swedish pop classic. Translating to “don’t need you today”, Behöver Inte Dig Idag is so infectious, and with Clara all alone on the stage, it makes you want to will her on as the quintessential underdog. Doubtful the song is strong enough to win, especially with the (cough cough) international jury in play, so hoping at least she gets a solid result.
01 Dotter – Little Tot
Not as impressive as Bulletproof last year, especially in presentation, the song is at least as good and she could go one better. Especially so that she won’t be competing directly against several other solo female acts, so won’t lose votes to them. In contrast, the solo boys will face this problem, creating an opening for Dotter to tot through the middle and win. Being placed second last (the new last place) is also an enhancement of her chances, and even shows the wishes of SVT.
Who Will Win?
The betting markets favour Tusse heavily, and you do get the feeling it could be one of those Melfests that’s more about the story than the song. There’s also nothing Swedes like more than promoting a story. Equally, sending The Mamas again would be another great story. Eric Saade is next most popular, then Dotter and The Mamas equal next. As we’ve seen in Estonia and Lithuania, there is a wave of sentiment to send the 2020 artist that missed Eurovision after it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if there’s nothing obviously superior to beat it. This is where The Mamas might fail as there are some clearly better options. I hope it’s Dotter; in reality it’s likely Tusse. He is sufficient reason for Sweden not to vote for The Mamas, and even The Mamas would agree with that too.