As is now an annual tradition, the final of Melodifestivalen took place in Globen in Stockholm and thanks to SVT’s mainly faultless webstream I was able to watch it live.
As final line-ups go, I wouldn’t really call this a classic year but on the other hand it was probably one of the hardest to predict in recent years. Who would win and go to represent Sweden at this year’s Eurovision in Moscow? Before this year’s round of heats started it looked as if Måns Zelmerlöw had it in the bag and he would be this year’s "chosen one". But MF can have a habit of delivering a number of surprises along the way: just looking at the list of names before the contest, you could have imagined Scotts and Shirley Clamp easily progressing to the final, rather than the likes of Emilia or H.E.A.T., for example.
(OK, Shirley did turn up at the final - but only in a funny sketch where she was working behind a supermarket checkout singing all her MF favourites with new lyrics!)
This year’s MF presenter, comedienne Petra Mede had big shoes to fill - how do you follow Kristian Luuk? But amazingly she did. After week one, the critics were calling for her to be given the chop - but she turned it around and put her own sharp and funny stamp on the proceedings and kicked the show off in fine style with a big musical number.
Being drawn first can be a very good thing at MF: like last year’s winner for example. So Måns Zelmerlöw went out and gave it his all on "Hope and Glory". I still had my reservations about the staging of the song, he could have done without the "Pussycat Dolls" and I never really liked that suit, but apart from that, this song has become one of my favourites this year even if it was a bit Fredrik-Kempe-formulaic and didn’t break new ground.
Second position is always the "draw from hell", so it was appropriate that this year’s entry-from-hell was put there. I have never understood the hysteria which followed Caroline af Ugglas’ "Snälla Snälla" still I guess if voters wanted to make some subversive anti-schlager statement then this was the song they’d go for.
Idol winner Agnes looked great in her gold catsuit and Leona Lewis hair, and for a while the Swedish tabloids predicted that "Love Love Love" could do it. The song is ok, if a little dated, but I still think it lacked those necessary moments where it could soar and become a real contender.
One of my pre-final favourites was "1000 Miles" by H.E.A.T., which was one of this year’s more unlikely finalists on paper, however this retro-rock number appealed to me from day one (and their drummer certainly appeals to me and many many others!!) I thought they performed this brilliantly and even though it was no winner, for me it was one of this year’s best.
Emilia Rydberg was one of the more surprising finalists so it wasn't really surprising that "You're My World" was going to be one of the evening's also rans. It's not that bad, but it's not that great either.
Alcazar utterly deserved their place in the final. Just as in their earlier heat, they brought pure star-quality from the minute they hit the stage to sing and dance their way through the fabulous disco inferno that is "Stay The Night".
Sarah Dawn Finer was another possible winner, although I got the feeling that people may have got a little tired of the routine and staging of "Moving On", after being subjected to it several times in the last two weeks' heat and Andra Chansen.
And so to another one of my fave songs: "Baby Goodbye" by E.M.D. A costume change for the final - out with the black suits and in with white ones, presumably to make them stand out from the backing dancers. Still doing that Sam Sparro video routine though. I like "Baby Goodbye" and again it’s become one of my iPod favourites, but for some reason I couldn’t see it winning this year though, despite their huge popularity with young fans.
I felt that "Alla" by Sofia didn't deserve its place in the final (it was the international jury wild card choice) and this was, well, my opportunity for a comfort break.
This was Molly Sanden’s first year at grown-up MF and I think we will see her for many years to come. Is she the new Carola/Sanna? Unlike the perpetually childish Amy Diamond, Molly is a mature singer who delivered "Så Vill Stjärnorna" well. I thought she may have been in with a chance, but it seems that the Swedish public are finally tiring of the predictable Pling-ballads.
Being drawn last is always a very good place to be in MF...which will have done Malena Ernman no harm at all. "La Voix" was not one of my favourites, I'll admit, but it was very well staged and she did what she had to do. One thing I haven't been happy about this year is the introduction of taped backing vocals, and they were very prominent on this song, which leaves me wondering how it will work live in Moscow with live backing vocals?
Interval acts: those two bad-taste comedians and their wonderful "Ting a Ling" song which I cannot get out of my head; and Moto Boy duetting with Charlotte Perrelli on a slow acoustic version of "Hero".
The voting: firstly the international jury which chose "Moving On" as its top song, and then onto the regional juries: I won't go into detail here but will direct you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melodifestivalen_2009#Melodifestivalen_2009 for all the stats you need.
After the jury vote, the scoreboard looked like this:
1. Måns - 96
2. Sarah - 75
3. Alcazar - 67
4. H.E.A.T. - 58
5. Caroline - 51
6. E.M.D. - 49
7. Agnes - 40
8. Malena - 38
9. Emilia - 28
10. Sofia - 12
11. Molly - 2
The mix of jury vote and televoting has always been a controversial one - most recently when Martin Stenmarck beat Nanne Gronvall - and it certainly put the cat among the pigeons last night!! Televotes were converted to points, which were added to the jury totals, giving a very different final result...
1. Malena - 182
2. Caroline - 171
3. E.M.D. - 145
4. Måns - 144
5. Alcazar - 139
6. Sarah - 87
7. H.E.A.T. - 82
8. Agnes - 40
9. Emilia - 28
10. Sofia - 12
11. Molly - 2
Above: Malena Ernman celebrates with Fredrik Kempe, writer of Sweden's winning song for the second year running. (picture courtesy of www.svt.se/melodifestivalen)
So it's Malena for Moscow. I know I was a bit grumpy about it last night, but enough time has passed and I can accept this result now. "La Voix" has a very memorable quality to it - a very important fact in Eurovision when most people will never have heard the song before. It's certainly not the worst entry this year, and it proves yet again that the Nordic countries are really going for it this year putting in a very strong set of songs (although Iceland has let me down). And yes I will be cheering Sweden on because it's been 10 years since their last win so they really need to do it again.
I'm still disappointed that MZW didn't win, but maybe he'll try again in a couple of years. I don't know if this will be Alcazar's last time at MF either. Oh well....only another 46 weeks till it all kicks off again :))