Sunday, December 11, 2016

Melodifestivalen 2017: surprise surprise!

Surprises can be thin on the ground in the Melfest bubble, particularly when most of the line-up is "exclusively revealed" by the Swedish tabloids in the weeks leading up to SVT's official presentation of the artists and song titles. However if you are a fan of the contest then at least some of your own predictions/speculation will probably be right. 

I call it the Melfest bubble because over the past few years, most of the artists appearing in the contest have had no lasting success outwith the contest, so we shouldn't really be surprised by recent performers making a quick comeback or older established stars having one more shot. They're all guaranteed maximum Swedish media coverage and of course that all-important attention from the wider fan community. 

The announcement of the 2017 Melodifestivalen artists on 30.11.2016 brought one genuine, almost-fell-off-my-seat surprise. Loreen? I mean, really, who expected that? Obviously no-one, as this completely slipped under the rumour-radar. 

Loreen's "Euphoria" is one of the most iconic winners of the modern Eurovision era: in 2012 it blended song, performer, performance, choreography, lighting and staging in a way which had never been done at the Eurovision Song Contest before. It has become one of the most popular winners within the fan community.  It redefined what we expect from "a Eurovision entry" and had a massive impact on the contest as a whole. 

Bearing all that in mind, you'd wonder why Loreen wants to come back. But since 2012, she has not been able to build on her success. So perhaps we can understand why she wants to return to Melodifestivalen, although my own view is that we will inevitably be disappointed. She may surprise us though...! 

At this stage, we don't know anything about the songs so we have to focus on the songwriters. Fredrik Kempe songs either for the first time in, is it, 10 years? I wonder if that's his punishment for going to work for the "other side" joining the judging panel on TV4's Idol? The Debs-and-Anton have a much lower profile than in previous years, with only two songs in the 2017 contest. One songwriter who is definitely back in the Melfest fold is Thomas G:son, fresh from his success with Cyprus and Georgia in 2016. It will be very interesting to see what style of song he delivers in Melfest: will he return to the schlager which made his name, or will he stick with the pop-rock which has brought more recent success? 

Heat 1: Gothenburg 04.02.2017 

"Amare" - Adrijana
(Martin Tjärnberg, Adrijana Krasniqi)

"Her Kiss" - Boris René 
(Tim Larsson, Tobias Lundgren)

"Hold On" - Nano
(Nano Omar, Gino Yonan, Ayak, Carl Rydén, Christoffer Belaieff, Rikard de Bruin, David Francis Jackson)

"Mitt Liv" - Charlotte Perrelli
(Charlotte Perrelli, Lars Hägglund)

"One More Night" - Dinah Nah
(Thomas G:son, Jimmy Jansson, Dinah Nah, Dr Alban)

"Road Trip" - De Vet Du 
(Johan Gunterberg, Christopher Martland)

"Wild Child" - Ace Wilder
(Peter Boström, Thomas G:son, Ace Wilder)

Ace will be hoping it's third time lucky, but to avoid Melfest's law of diminishing returns, it will need to take a very special song and production to finally get her to ESC - or maybe she's going down the Sanna Nielsen route (make enough appearances and eventually Sweden will send you). 

Glad to see Boris back after an enjoyable debut. There's also a welcome return for dance diva Dinah Nah, whilst Charlotte is back in "it's not schlager!" shock despite her schlagertastic interval act in 2016, and internet stars De Vet Du could be the new Samir and Viktor. 

Don't know anything about new names Adrijana or Nano - they may surprise us although could be left on the sidelines of a heat where it's all about the name-recognition. 

Heat 2: Malmö, 11.02.2017

"A Million Years" - Mariette
(Thomas G:son, Johanna Jansson, Peter Boström, Mariette Hansson, Jenny Hansson)

"Good Loovin'" - Benjamin Ingrosso 
(Benjamin Ingrosso, Louis Schoorl, Matt Pardon)

"Hearts Align" - Dismissed
(Ola Salo, Peter Kvint)

"Himmel och Hav" - Roger Pontare
(Thomas G:son, Alexzandra Wickman)

"I Don't Give A" - Lisa Ajax
(Ola Svensson, Linnea Deb, Joy Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad)

"Up" - Etzia
(Johnny Sanchez, Hanif Sabzevari, Simon Gribbe, Erica Haylett)

"Vart Haru Varit" - Allyawan 
(Masse Salazar, Samuel Nazari)

This heat boasts the worst song title of the year: if you thought "Youniverse" was bad, don't even start me on "Good Loovin'"!  Benjamin is the son of Melfest legend Pernilla Wahlgren so he will get a lot of attention in a heat with 3 new/unknown names as well as returning recent artists Lisa Ajax and Mariette.  I think Lisa and Mariette will be a cert to qualify.  Ola is back and it will be very interesting to see what his co-write with the Debs-and-Anton delivers. 

The other big news in this heat is the return of Roger Pontare.  Will he get a Hasse Andersson-style bounce and make it to the final or will he suffer the fate of "older" artists who have competed over the past couple of years and failed to make it?

With Ola Salo and Peter Kvint as songwriters, I'm particularly looking forward to the entry by Dismissed. 

Heat 3: Vaxjö 18.02.2017

"Boogieman Blues" - Ove Thörnqvist
(Ove Thörnqvist)

"Crucified" - Bella and Filippa
(Peter Hägerås, Mats Frisell, Jakob Stadell, Filippa Frisell, Isabella Snihs)

"Gotta Thing" - The Fooo Conspiracy
(Robert ”Mutt” Lange, Tony Nilsson)

"Gravity" - Jasmine Kara
(Anderz Wrethov, Jasmine Kara)

"I Can't Go On" - Robin Bengtsson
(David Kreuger, Hamed ”K-One” Pirouzpanah, Robin Stjernberg)

"Kiss You Goodbye" - Anton Hagman
(Christian Fast, Tim Schou, Henrik Nordenback)

"Snurra Min Jord" - Krista Siegfrids
(Krista Siegfrids, Gustaf Svenungsson, Magnus Wallin, Gabriel Alares)

For me this heat is all about Robin and whether he will be able to follow up with something as good or better than "Constellation Prize", a song which went on to have a very long post-contest life as one of my favourite songs of the year - just how favourite you will soon find out in my 2016-50 chart to be published around Christmas week!  This time round, 2013 Melfest winner Robin Stjernberg is among the songwriters so hoping for maximum Robin fabulousness :)

This heat will be a headline-grabber thanks to the appearance of Melfest's oldest ever artist, Ove Thörnqvist, and in contrast there will be a lot of attention given to the hugely popular young boyband The Fooo Conspiracy.  There's some heavyweight songwriting talent here - "Mutt" Lange (ex-husband of Shania Twain) has been responsible for writing and/or producing a massive number of hit songs and albums over the years -  whilst Tony Nilsson has written/co-written some Melfest classics in the last decade including "Love In Stereo", "The Queen", "Headlines", "You're Out Of My Life", "Like Suicide" and "Shout It Out".  

Krista returns in another attempt to boost her profile on the Swedish music scene.  Watch out for young Swedish YouTube star Anton Hagman who could be the new..Anton Ewald!  Tim Schou - yes, none other than the ex-lead singer of A Friend in London (DK, ESC 2011) is among the songwriters. If Anton taps into his key fanbase - Justin Bieber/Shawn Mendes fans - he will easily go direkt till 

Bella and Filippa could also be surprise qualifiers with their country-flavoured sound.

Heat 4: Skellefteå 25.02.2017

"As I Lay Me Down" - Wiktoria
(Justin Forrest, Jonas Wallin, Lauren Dyson)

"Bound To Fall" - Les Gordons
(Jonatan Renström, Albert Björliden, Andreas Persson, Carl Ragnemyr, David Runebjörk, Jimmy Jansson)

"Du får inte ändra på mig" - Sara Varga and Juha Mulari
(Sara Varga, Lars Hägglund)

"En värld full av strider" - Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat Aninia
(Jon Henrik Fjällgren, Sara Biglert, Christian Schneider, Andreas Hedlund)

"När ingen ser"- Axel Schylström
(Behshad Ashnai, Axel Schylström, David Strääf)

"Running With Lions" - Alice
(Anderz Wrethov, Andreas ”Stone” Johansson, Denniz Jamm, Alice Svensson)

"Statements" - Loreen
(Anton Hård af Segerstad, Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Loreen)

Aah, heat 4, which over the past couple of years has been "the one with the winner in it".  So I'm not surprised at all to see Wiktoria in this heat; it was inevitable that she would return quickly and there is definitely a whiff of "the chosen one" here.  She has some competition here though: much will be expected of Loreen's song, whilst returning artists Sara and more recently, Jon Henrik have been Melfest finalists in recent years therefore they would also be in with a chance.  Don't write off the Idol-effect though, as 2008 runner-up Alice Svensson (with a Wrethov co-write) and 2015 4th-placed Axel Schylström are also making their debut in what could be quite a hotly-contested final heat. 

So who is going to win Melodifestivalen 2017?  We will know the answer in March 2017, but in the meantime we will just get excited and speculate wildly until it all kicks off in just 8 weeks time!

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