Singer-songwriters win through to Melodifestivalen final

Musicality triumphed over glitz in the last heat of Sweden's Melodifestivalen competition, with two singer-songwriters winning their way through to the final at Stockholm's Globen on March 10th.

Sarah Dawn Finer and Andreas Johnson attracted the greatest share of almost 650,000 telephone votes, while national icon Magnus Uggla and Melodifestivalen regular Sanna Nielsen will get a second chance to qualify for the final next Saturday.

It was Uggla who kicked off the evening’s fun in Gävle, with an unusual song that managed to blend the pomp of a non-specific Germanic national anthem with the three chords of a rock schlager, and which he performed dressed up as the king of Sweden. It is no wonder that Sweden’s royalty and schlager-loving public opted for a second chance to get their heads, if not their ears, around the whole package.

After Dark’s investment in innuendo failed. With a song entitled ‘(Åh) När ni ta saken i egna händer’ (ask a Swede to explain the pun), Sweden’s favourite drag act also managed to get several television celebrities to pre-record contributions. But their efforts were in vain.

The heavily pregnant Caroline af Ugglas joined After Dark on the way to the competition’s exit door. Her Joplinesque performance of ‘Tror på dig’ was not helped by her failure to stand up straight at any point; suspicions of a bad back evaporated as she sprang off stage at the end.

Two Melodifestivalen debutantes, both wielding instantly forgettable songs, were the other performers edged out of the event. Emilé Azar put his faith in a boybandesque ditty called ‘Vi hade något’, while Verona’s three minutes in the spotlight was spent singing a dreadful Eurodisco track in what sounded like Esperanto.

And so to the victors. Sarah Dawn Finer’s gospel ballad, ‘I remember love’, will be one of the favourites in the final. Finer, who has an American mother and an English father, delivered a vocal performance of sheer quality that has been unmatched in the competition so far.

Last year Andreas Johnson was overall runner-up with the Beatlesesque ‘Sing for me’. This year’s bid, ‘A little bit of love’, also harked back to the sixties and his stage charisma will place him among the main contenders for the coveted ticket to Helsinki.

The Second Chance round will be held in Nyköping next Saturday. Two artists will go forward to the final the week after, where they will join Finer and Johnson, along with Anna Book, Tommy Nilsson, Marie Lindberg, The Ark, Måns Zelmerlöw and Sebastian.