I doubt the other acts will get much coverage in this heat with a returning Eurovision winner closing the show. There are two other direkt returnees in Jon Henrik Fjällgren and Wiktoria, both hoping to beat the law of diminishing returns. On top of that, we have a couple of acts capable of causing an upset. All we know is it’s Loreen +1.
Heat Four: Skellefteå – Feb 25th
1. Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia – En värld full av Strider
No surprise Fjällgren has been sent to perform at the most northerly of this year’s heats in Skellefteå; it’s not quite his home crowd, but it’s as close as he’s getting this time around. Expect the same format as in 2015, but with the addition of Aninia making this a joik duet. Fjällgren benefitted from the pimp slot in 2015, and with the likes of Loreen and others in this heat, andra chansen could be the best result. His brand of 1990s Enigma and panpipe moods does have appeal, but we’re getting nothing new second time around.
2. Alice – Running With Lions
From ballad to midtempo now, Alice has a song written by Wrethov, one of several composers behind Margaret’s Cool Me Down, as well as many Melfest hits. Andreas ”Stone” Johansson cowrote Nonetheless from Melfest 2015, which finished last in the first heat. Second slot in the running order doesn’t fill me will confidence considering Alice hasn’t released any music since 2010, thus doesn’t have as high a profile as the other artists in this heat.
3. Les Gordons – Bound To Fall
We’re still waiting for a Svensktoppen nästa selected artist to qualify, and if the song title is anything to by, I think we’re in for an longer wait. Les Gordons’ electro-punk Svensktoppen nästa song, Need to Feel, was quite distinctive, so if they can bring the same sort of vibrant energy to Melfest, maybe there’s a small hope of andra chansen.
4. Wiktoria – If I Lay Me Down
Wiktoria’s Save Me was one of the big chart successes last year and finished second to Frans on the televote. The international jury didn’t show it as much love, which was surprising given her virtuoso vocal delivery of a modern, chartable song. Since then Wiktoria has struggled with her follow-up singles, Yesterday RIP and Unthink You. She returns with two of last year’s writers, but loses the Avicii connection. Wallin is more than capable of writing a hit, but given Wiktoria’s lack of recent commercial success, I can’t call her a sure-fire direkt qualifier. Despite being a highly engaging performer, Wiktoria can sound rather shrill at times. If this song isn’t as catchy as Save Me, the negative aspects of Wiktoria’s performance could leave her exposed. I have her finishing 2nd or 3rd. If the song is good, though, the sky’s the limit!
5. Axel Schylström – När Ingen Ser
Back in 2013, Axel received a 16,000 volt shock which left him with 70% burns and ended his budding football career. Just two years later he made the semi-final of Swedish Idol 2015. A further two years on, his harrowing, yet inspirational story will surface again and I can genuinely see the Swedish public getting behind him. Whereas Linus Svenning’s Brother narrative was overplayed, it seems Axel doesn’t want to dwell on the past, and instead wants to compete on a level playing field. We know there will still be some recognition of his achievement and that’s what makes him an interesting qualification prospect and certainly worth a few quid at 3/1.
His writing team looks a little bare, but Ashnai earned a credit for Ace Wilder’s Don’t Worry. The guys over at Scandipop have Axel describing his song as a torch anthem.
BACK AXEL DIREKT 3/1 (small stakes) @ BET365
6. Sara Varga & Juha Mulari – Du får inte ändra på mig
Sara Varga last took part in 2011 with Spring För Livet, and qualified to andra chansen from the same penultimate slot in heat 4. She returns with duet partner, Juha Mulari, to perform another ballad. He sounds a bit like Serhat, though we’re not expecting him to don a white suit and throw a few shapes to a dated 70s disco tune. The song is written by Varga and pianist, Lars Hägglund. I think it’ll be difficult for them to not only shine in this upbeat sandwich, but to also stay ahead of Fjällgren’s popular joik.
7. Loreen – Statements
The Melfest and Eurovision 2012 winner, Loreen, was the surprise name in this lineup and instantly entered the outright market as the favourite to win. The 33-year old has enjoyed a strong post Eurovision career, but even that has petered out of late. Paper Light was one of the bigger recent releases, yet even that only peaked at #25 in the Swedish charts. With the Debs and Anton Hård af Segerstad in the writing team, we should hopefully get a more radio friendly track instead of the artistic, left-field releases Loreen has become accustomed to. Furthermore, we’re guaranteed a stylish stage show and the moist international juries won’t be able to resist awarding her points.
Having said that, the initial opinion here is that Loreen will be using Melfest to inject a few vitamins into her wilting career and will be happy to make the final and compete near the top of the scoreboard. I’m expecting her to be a contender, but at the moment I’m happy to oppose the short price. If she has a killer song and is willing to go to Eurovision, then maybe we should start booking hotels in Stockholm for next year.
So the main question is can Loreen win? I have to admit that I oppose Loreen early on, and having listened to today’s snippet, I was very pleased with the position. The staging has changed that feeling a tad, as makes what is unintelligible noise, quite memorable. There’s no doubt that Loreen makes the final, the big question is does she win Melfest and go on to do well at Eurovision. That analysis will come in later articles.
As expected, the strong pop song comes from Wiktoria with Fjällgren serving up a decent opener. Axel may play a part in deciding who goes direkt with Loreen, as his upbeat entry may drain away support from Wiktoria. In that instance, covering Fjällgren might be a wise move.
Does Loreen need Eurovision again?