13 March 2022
In an exciting final, Cornelia Jakobs won Melodifestivalen 2022 and her ticket to the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin with an emotional and compelling performance of Hold Me Closer. Shockingly, she’ll be the first Swedish female act to appear on the Eurovision Song Contest stage since 2014, and is the first 100% home grown female act to win Melfest since then too. The Mamas, winners in 2020 when Eurovision was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were a hybrid Swedish-American gospel trio who rode the success of being John Lundvik’s backing singers the previous year in Tel Aviv. It doesn’t really count, and certainly not when talking about a local solo woman being so richly and deservedly rewarded.
For all the quality of Hold Me Closer and the obvious reality Cornelia must win, there was always the potential of a hiccup in the voting rounds. After Cornelia won the jury vote with 76 points, her position suddenly looked tenuous when Anders Bagge was catapulted from 8th to 2nd after the jury round with a whopping 90 points from the public. No one from 7th to 3rd was able to displace him, and noting that 60 points, mathematically, would be a top result from the public vote, and with Medina and Klara Hammarström already receiving 56 points each, the question was whether there were enough points left for the top two after the jury vote to take the lead. While I sensed the popular Liamoo was worth about 65 points at this point, mathematically that would crush Cornelia’s chances, so figured it would be 35 points if Sweden wanted Cornelia to win. It was just 26, meaning Cornelia, last to receive points, only needed 46 to win. She received an effusive 70 points to ensure victory and launch wild and emotional celebrations. Cornelia Jakobs simply was the right winner.
01 Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer – 146 (76+70)
02 Anders Bagge – Bigger Than The Universe – 121 (31+90)
03 Medina – In i dimman – 109 (53+56)
04 Liamoo – Bluffin – 91 (65+26)
05 Tone Sekelius – My Way – 84 (31+53)
06 Klara Hammarström – Run To The Hills – 83 (27+56)
07 Theoz – Som du vill – 65 (39+26)
08 John Lundvik – Änglavakt – 60 (43+17)
09 Cazzi Opeia – I Can’t Get Enough – 55 (26+29)
11 Faith Kakembo – Freedom – 51 (33+18)
11 Robin Bengtsson – Innocent Love – 34 (29+5)
12 Anna Bergendahl – Higher Power – 29 (11+18)
It must be noted that the Swedish public get to vote after the jury votes are revealed, so the big vote for Anders Bagge and the low vote for Liamoo could be a direct response to some absurd decisions by the wretched international jury. Cornelia Jakobs seemed to be Sweden’s favourite all along, and she expressed feeling a “love bomb” from them, and usually this sort of momentum drives the final vote. So the bigger push for Anders over Cornelia was more about rescuing him from an undeserved low place, while ensuring she would still get enough to win. Perhaps this system is recognition that the international juries can be so volatile, and if so, then why have them at all? Sweden are not the only country to try redress potential injustices of an international jury, as Estonia votes after the jury votes are revealed, while Finland has reduced the jury impact to just 25% of the total vote.
An interesting note from the final result is the failure of the previous Melfest winners, Anna Bergendahl (last), Robin Bengtsson (11th) and John Lundvik (8th). Historically, previous winners are compared to their previous entries and are quickly forgotten if not superior. It’s all subliminal, and part of the mindset of the audience is to give others a go. This sentiment disappears over time, so large breaks between wins can induce a nostalgia effect. So thanks for coming Anna, Robin and John. Just bring better songs next time, and wait at least 10 years.
01 Klara Hammarström – Run To The Hills
Nice song, nice presentation and obviously a really nice girl. Nothing really wrong overall with the performance except it lacked a big moment, whether that’s in the song itself or even the vocals. There was no big note from Klara (as much as she tried to provide one), nor is her voice distinctive enough. Fourth from the public is an indication of her popularity all along. 7/10
02 Theoz – Som du vill
Standard sing and dance by a Swedish pretty boy. Got too repetitive for me, with the last minute seemingly “Som du vill” over and over and over and over again. He added a white strip to the side of his outfit to help you notice him more, if the song wasn’t doing it for you. 5/10
03 Anna Bergendahl – Higher Power
Much improved from the earlier rounds, with Anna having her hair down to match the wild look of the horses’ manes, and singing with more passion. As said earlier, for former Melfest winners, viewers expected a higher standard. In saying that, last place was harsh. I felt she should have been nudging mid table. Anna, perhaps sit it out for 15 years. 7/10
04 John Lundvik – Änglavakt
Much of the strength of this entry is in John’s voice and his charismatic nature. The song didn’t convey anything to the viewer, and that seems so even if you’re Swedish, with just 17 points from the public. Words alone are not enough. You need emotion in the music or vocals to really connect with the audience. John, you can sit it out for 15 years too. 5/10
05 Tone Sekelius – My Way
Changed from a black dress to a red dress for the final, and my main thought as Tone walked up the steps of the centre stage in each of the three rounds was “don’t trip”. Just like the rest of the performance, Tone accomplished that well. A very likeable song and personality, with a great uplifting feel. Fifth is good reward. 7/10
06 Anders Bagge – Bigger Than The Universe
Graphics seemed a little fancier than the heats, and the only thing that projected better than those was Anders himself. Apparently he suffers from stage fright and low self-esteem, which is why this was the first time we saw him and his magnificent voice on the Melfest stage. He started each verse with “As I’m sitting here in my apple tree”, which made me think he forgot the lyrics. No, that’s the introduction to each verse. I thank the Swedish public for rescuing him after the international jury smashed him with low votes. Let’s presume the 90 points from the public meant that he was their personal winner, I would have been fine with that. He’s the one male act I could have tolerated beating Cornelia Jakobs. You know something else? He actually would have had a stronger chance to win Eurovision than Cornelia. A catchy song, that phenomenal voice and those amazing background graphics – these sorts of acts quickly grab attention, create a big impression, and aren’t forgotten. 8/10
07 Robin Bengtsson – Innocent Love
Too nondescript to stand out from this bunch. Robin was filler, which is probably a term he’s heard describe him before. He was an accessory in this ensemble, and can only go to Turin now as Cornelia’s handbag. 5/10
08 Faith Kakembo – Freedom
A rework of Tusse’s Voices from 2021, and not even Sweden are stupid enough to send the same failed style of song twice, even if Freedom was a bit better. 5/10
09 Liamoo – Bluffin
Added dancers for the final stages of the song to keep it moving along, and it helped bluff the jury. Second from them was not a huge surprise, as this was always a quality and popular entry. That the Swedish public essentially abandoned it meant their priorities were elsewhere. 7/10
10 Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
Hold Me Closer clearly stood out from this bunch. The most real, genuine and interesting song, and delivered sublimely. Staging wasn’t anything special; it was all in the delivery of Cornelia’s raspy vocals and her perfect vocal intonations and dramatisation. It was the only song that got to me emotionally and it was all about her setting up an instant symbiosis with the audience, which she held to the end. It was finally good to see Sweden step away from “fast food music” like a dried hot dog from Pressbyrån for a nice sit-down meal of meatballs and potatoes at your local IKEA. 9/10
Hold Me Closer was Cornelia’s third attempt at Melfest after attempts with the girl group Love Generation in 2011 and 2012. If you’re not sure, she’s the blonde. This came after she appeared on Swedish Idol in 2008, where, curiously, Anders Bagge was one of the judges.
11 Cazzi Opeia – I Can’t Get Enough
Starts promisingly and Cassie’s quirkiness makes it quite engaging. It lacks a killer chorus and 9th is about the right place. 6/10
12 Medina – In i dimman
The song title means “into the mist” and is about partying hard. The booming voices and the energy made this so appealing, and it looked like a shock win was a possibility when they got 12 points from the first jury. Then the correction came from the rest, where it finished third with them, third with the public, third for me, and third overall. 7/10
My Top 5
Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
Anders Bagge – Bigger Than The Universe
Medina – In i dimman
Tone Sekelius – My Way
Klara Hammarström – Run To The Hills
It doesn’t change at all from the preview, which isn’t a great surprise, since I’m judging essentially the same performances. I even had Liamoo at 6th. If I’d done a top 12, the main change no doubt would have been Anna Bergendahl placed higher. Seventh now compared to 9th or 10th beforehand.
This year continues the resurgence of Melodifestivalen, especially after a shocking run of limp songs and even limper male winners, and that’s reflected with an average score of 6.5. That’s between “good” and “very good” on my scale, and compares better than the past two years where both events scored 6.1. Of the national finals I watch and reviewed this year, Melfest 2022 compares better than Australia (6.2), inferior to Norway (6.8) and Estonia (6.6), and significantly inferior to Finland (7.3). Of course, Finland have a tight show of just 7 quality songs, and Estonia even dropped from 12 to 10 songs for 2022.
Most important of all from this year’s Melodifestivalen is that Sweden has done the right thing by picking Cornelia Jakobs to win, and breaking that horrible 8-year drought of not sending a local home grown solo female talent to Eurovision. She’s an amazing artist, with an amazing song, and an interesting story that I sense is far from over. Hold tight, hold tight.