"/> " />
SHARE
COPY LINK

MELODIFESTIVALEN

Melodifestivalen: Stenmarck pips Grönvall

Foto: Carl-Johan Söder/SVT

.

The songs were distinctly average, the costumes nothing to write home about, but the voting was simply sensational! In the end a mere three points separated the expert jury’s choice, Martin Stenmarck, from the people’s choice, Nanne Grönvall.

Stenmarck, who grinned broadly and laughed heartily through most of Saturday night’s proceedings at the Stockholm Globe, sang a show-style number called ‘Las Vegas’. His performance featured an illuminated microphone stand and several attractive young ladies in tight-fitting jump suits. His success has immediately made him a top national sex symbol, with Aftonbladet dubbing him “Sweden’s Elvis”.

“Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!” said Martin after the show, “I can’t believe it. It feels incredible.”

Nanne Grönvall performed her own song, ‘Håll om mig’ (Hold me), which the Local finds hard to either categorise or recall. Nanne donned a low cut, short dress, slightly reminiscent of last year’s winner, Lena Phillipsson. Sweden’s music hacks seemed to favour Stenmarck over the diminutive veteran, so poor old Nanne, who spent the evening not knowing whether to laugh or cry, had to endure some bitchy comments in the Sunday papers.

Aftonbladet’s Fredrik Virtanen couldn’t resist a dig at the big hair: “It was wider than she’s long”, he wrote, before dismissing the 42 year old as “sexy in an auntie-ish kind of way”.

But the real interest lay in the voting. It created such an uproar that we shouldn’t be surprised if Göran Persson appoints a commission to investigate the matter, or if political scientists write theses on the subject.

The final total was comprised of points awarded by ten regional juries of ‘pop experts’ and points based on the number of telephone votes from the public. The juries gave their points first, after which Stenmarck had a comfortable lead with 102 to Grönvall’s 77.

However, Grönvall was a clear winner with the public, polling 373,928 votes to Stenmarck’s 208,716. Translated into points, this gave Grönvall 132 to Stenmarck’s 110. The respective totals were 212 and 209.

Aftonbladet reported that their phone lines were jammed after the show with furious members of the public claiming Nanne had been robbed and that the jury system should be ditched. An anonymous schlager insider agreed:

“I think the jury should be thrown out for the final. It’s the people’s competition and the people’s will should decide. In this case, it’s clear that public opinion and taste have been steam-rollered.”

Nanne herself seemed unconcerned about the trifling details of points and placings:

“I’m just unbelievably happy that the people liked my song. To me it feels like a victory. I’m going to celebrate tonight as if I’d won.”

The controversy was heightened when it was revealed that significant numbers of voters couldn’t get through. Many of them would presumably have voted for Nanne – would it have made a difference? Who knows.

“How the hell can you ring 37 times and not get through,” said angry Nanne fan Kurt Lindal.

Unfortunately for all those disappointed people, the result stood in black and white and Martin Stenmarck won. He now gets the chance to represent Sweden at the European final in Kiev, Ukraine, on 21 May. And Sweden’s music pundits breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“Phew! Public favourite Nanne almost won,” wrote Fredrik Virtanen. “It’s better to send a song that you can sing along to to Kiev. A truly sexy international performance.”

A slightly more sober Johan Lindqvist in GP wrote:

“It feels absolutely right to give Martin Stenmarck the chance to go to Kiev. He has every chance of doing himself justice against Europe’s best.”

MUSIC

LISTEN: Who’s in the running to represent Sweden in Eurovision

Ben Robertson has been following Melodifestivalen around Sweden for the past six weeks. Ahead of the final on Saturday, here are his thoughts and predictions on the 12 remaining songs competing to represent Sweden at Eurovision 2020.

LISTEN: Who's in the running to represent Sweden in Eurovision
Finalist Paul Rey performing during the earlier heats. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma / TT

Victor Crone – Troubled Waters

This is Victor's second Melodifestivalen appearance, after taking part in 2015. He also represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019.

Despite a different songwriting team, Troubled Waters builds on that same 'Avicii-lite' sound that's bound to be popular on radio stations across the country and makes it a great show opener.

Ben's view: I prefer this song to Storm, and Victor's voice sounds strong. Pleasant if not particularly groundbreaking.

Prediction: Feels like the kind of song lots of people will like but few will love. Competing to beat Robin Bengtsson, another male soloist in the lineup.

Paul Rey – Talking in my sleep

Paul Rey has tons of global musical influences, born to a Finnish father and Chilean mother and having spent years in the US recording music with Quincy Jones and Snoop Dogg. He is the only artist of the remaining 12 making his Melodifestivalen debut.

This is a very modern take on the ballad; gone are the overblown dramatics, key changes and power vocals – instead Talking In My Sleep holds a simple hooky melody that builds through the three minutes on stage.

Ben's view: A perfectly functioning song that builds nicely. My biggest question mark is about the ability of the artist rather than the song to emote and tell the story effectively.

Prediction: Likely to score better with the juries than the public vote. Sneaking into the top five would be a great achievement.

The Mamas – Move

The Mamas helped John Lundvik win Melodifestivalen last year with Too Late For Love. Three of them returned to perform Move which gives the pop-gospel smashup we were all expecting. Expect big vocals and something danceable for all aged from three to 93.

Ben's view: The Mamas are great performers, although I wish the track was just a bit less generic, especially in the post-chorus.

Prediction: Top five seems likely, it would be a surprise to challenge for the win however.

Mohombi – Winners

Mohombi is back in Melodifestivalen after his 2019 song Hello that became a favourite in preschools across Sweden. Mohombi left life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a teenager to move to Sweden, and has forged a musical career spanning both the European and African continents with success.

Winners is a pop song track with a slightly oriental mix, especially within the verse. Expect plenty of charming the camera from popular Mohombi during the three minutes on stage.

Ben's view: A fairly anonymous song saved by Mohombi's presence.

Prediction: He's too popular to be last, surely?

Hanna Ferm – Brave

19-year-old Hanna Ferm competed last year in Melodifestivalen with Hold You, a duet with Liamoo.

Brave is on the quirky end of pop, with frantic phrasing and hooks that sink into your vocal chords after just a couple of listens. You will be whistling along.

Ben's view: This isn't for me. I may sing along, but I'm craving a deeper meaning and spend the three minutes wondering what Hanna is being Brave about.

Prediction: Top half but unlikely to be challenging.

Mendez feat. Alvaro Estrella – Vamos Amigos

Mendez came to Sweden from Chile along with thousands of other families during the 1980s. He grew up in Farsta outside of Stockholm and fell into a community of crime and drugs, but music was his release. He was in the final of Melodifestivalen 2018, finishing last, but finished second in 2002.

Mendez's musical career has taken him to stardom here in Sweden but also back home in Chile with many other stops in between. This song unsurprisingly has many elements in it from the second wave of Latin music infiltrating Western pop, with Mendez rapping alongside Alvaro, also of Chilean upbringing, singing the chorus.

Ben's view: There are a few nice melodies in here, but nothing that hasn't been done before and likely to get lost in this final field.

Prediction: Juries were the reason Mendez came last in 2018. This should score better with them than that effort, but not being last will be a success for this duo.

Dotter – Bulletproof

Johanna Jansson is the Arvika-born artist known as Dotter (Daughter), coming from an image of being a daughter to mother Earth. Despite releasing a few singles since her 2014 debut she is better known as a songwriter.

Together with Dino Medanhodzic and Erik Dahlquist they have loaned influence from Sia for Bulletproof – a big production mid-tempo arena pop number.

Ben's view: I happily admit that this isn't my normal style, but the laser glitter ball effect is fantastic and Dotter has hugely grown as a performer.

Prediction: Currently the favourite, and is getting tons of vocal support on social media, especially from abroad. Would have been a shock victory a month ago, now would be a shock if not in the top three.

Robin Bengtsson – Take A Chance

'Robin won Melodifestivalen in 2017 and his appearance on Let's Dance last year made him even more likeable to the Swedish TV watching audience.

Set in London, this arena singer-songwriter style track has a great clap-a-long verse mixed in with a chorus melody that took me straight to the heydays of iconic Swedish superstars Abba.

Ben's view: Nobody oozes sexiness down the camera as well as Robin this year, but musically this runs out of good ideas by the first minute.

Prediction: Mid-table.

Mariette – Shout It Out

Mariette broke history by becoming the only artist ever to qualify for four Melodifestivalen finals in just four attempts. Shout It Out is a driving powerhouse of a song about letting go of your doubts and trusting your heart.

Ben's view: Mariette is such a strong on-stage character and that drives the song's message home well. That said, musically it doesn't offer anything new and creative to be in Eurovision contention.

Prediction: As Mariette has finished third, fourth and fifth previously… sixth?

Felix Sandman – Boys With Emotions

Felix Sandman has been here before, but his earlier floppy-haired look has been replaced by a bleached and shaven look, and the attitude to match.

Boys with Emotion' is a challenging track, written and recorded in LA and sounding and looking like a piece of MTV circa 1995. This is a song with a central theme encouraging men not to hide their feelings.

Ben's view: This takes a few listens, but I adore the slick production both musically and visually. The message does come across as rather abrupt, but that's partly the point and this is as much art as music.

Prediction: Dark horse for victory. Felix has over 500,000 Instagram followers and a song that I hope a jury will appreciate.

Anna Bergendahl – Kingdom Come

Anna was the only Melodifestivalen winner in Sweden's history not to qualify to the Eurovision final back in 2010.

True to Anna's style with her enchanting voice in focus, this is a frantic clap-a-long track at 148 bpm with grandiose-sounding lyrics that in reality mean very little. Six hunky male dancers in kilts do little harm.

Ben's view: For those in those Eurovision and Melodifestivalen bubbles, this is the song that's going to be filling our dance floors for months to come. Judge us accordingly.

Prediction: It's in the mix. Anna's hugely popular amongst the older Melodifestivalen voters, the question will be if enough children button-bash their apps to push her from top three to victory.

Anis Don Demina – Vem E Som Oss (Who is like us)

Anis Don Demina is here for his third Melodifestivalen appearance after playing saxophone for Samir and Viktor in 2018 and featuring on Mina Bränder last year.

This song is a shoutout to all of Anis' fans with an uncompromising rap and uptempo chorus that's going to be another relentless loop around Swedish preschools for the next year. Learn for yourself the Swedish slang word 'Shurda' – the kind of guy who's part of Anis' fun-loving gang.

Ben's view: Brilliant staging, full of energy and a superb crowd-pleaser, this is a great twist on pop music with local flair.

Prediction: Chanceless with international juries and anybody over the age of 40, meaning it would be amazing if this gets anywhere inside the top ten.

And that's your Melodifestivalen line-up. You can still buy tickets to see the show live or one of the two rehearsals beforehand inside Friends Arena. Alternatively tune into SVT 1 at 8pm on Saturday, March 7th.

You can vote by ringing or sending a text during the show, or you can download the Melodifestivalen app to vote for free.

The winner of Melodifestivalen is set to take part in the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest's first semi-final in Rotterdam on Tuesday, May 12th.

Ben Robertson is covering Melodifestivalen 2020 for both The Local and ESC Insight.

SHOW COMMENTS