And that leads me back to Gothenburg, where the 1990 final was held. Their approach to the whole thing had shifted a bit and tried to connect with the younger audience that their recent rock shows had attracted by having the youthful Carin Hjulström take over the presenting.
There were even some attempts to bring the sounds of newer generations into the lineup, with mixed results. And then there was the big comeback: Carola would sing in public again after several years of low profile and Bible studies.
|Picture borrowed from aftonbladet.se|
10. N'Gang / Vi vill ha värme
This was the most obvious attempt at appealing to a younger audience. This rock band tried to be hard and street and cred but lands in a deserted wasteland somewhere between rock and schlager without really being either one. Three minutes of empty posing.
9. Loa Falkman / Symfonin
It isn't really good but it is fascinating: a rather pompous opera star performing an equally pompous dansband aria in a mix curious enough to make several jaws drop. Became a major commercial success after the contest and is today fondly remembered for its entertainment qualities. But not good, no. Not as such.
8. Edin-Ådahl / Som en vind
Two sets of brothers sang heavenly and that was what the juries wanted. Apparently. This song always passed me by, it did at the time and it still does. It has its moments, it is well sung. But it is also pretty bland and pointless.
7. Lotta Engberg / En gång till
Lotta Engberg was still a real household name and possibly the Queen of the Svensktoppen chart. This song fall well into her standard repertoire but was too lean and too meek to make any bigger impact in a contest like this. Well performed but lacking in profile.
6. Peter Jöback / En sensation
A seemingly most self-assured young man entered the stage; dancing and flirting with the camera but as he fell through in the voting, Peter Jöback would prove way more sensitive than most reviewers thought at the time. He would slowly but steadily build himself a name as one of Sweden's top singers but this MF fiasco was to remain a sensitive issue for many years afterwards. Not that it really was a fiasco - a likeable little song that is a tiny bit too superficial for its own good.
5. Lizette Pålsson / Sången över havet
Lizette was named the only serious threat to Carola by one of the evening newspapers and was reportedly very disappointed as she failed to live up to expectations. This is a pleasant, traditional schlager anthem of a sort that perhaps felt a little bit too old for the juries.
4. Elisabeth Andreasson / Jag ser en stjärna falla
People keep mentioning "Kärleksmagi" from 1984 as the song where Bettan sang badly but nobody seems to remember this time when she used up her voice during rehearsals and had nothing left to give during the live show. The song is good but unfortunately turned into some sort of rock entry as the orchestra was unable to reproduce the hard, electronic sound of the studio version.
3. Sofia Källgren / Handen på hjärtat
According to Lasse Holm, someone had thought up a cool and extraordinary stage show - nicked from Broadway - that would suit this song perfectly. During the first rehearsals it turned out Sofia hated it and was reduced to tears. It all had to be redone in no time which shows. You can tell the show isn't focused and Sofia doesn't sing as well as she could have. That live performance might well have hindered the song from becoming a bigger hit and much like Peter Jöback it would take some years for to Sofia to really establish herself.
2. Lisbet Jagedal / Varje natt
Instead of pretending to be modern (like N'Gang) it is better to go full stop old-fashioned schlager and that's what this hairdresser did. A song tailor-made to be belted out in the shower or any place at all, really. Lisbet would never become a star but made a good career for herself on the dansband circuit.
1. Carola / Mitt i ett äventyr
There it was - the big comeback - and Carola was sparkling. She was impeccably styled, she had a new trendy haircut and a song that really seemed to fit her like a glove. When the juries rejected this, maybe they gave her a blessing in disguise - like what happened to Abba when "Ring Ring" didn't win. One thing was perfectly clear: the Swedes had missed their Carola a lot and in the long run she would be the winner.
After the previous year where some major pop stars battled it out, it was visible that the contest suddenly had much less of a finger on the pulse. Or it would have been visible hadn't Carola's big comeback been standing in the way. What could have been a temporary slip was rather the first sign of the recording industry beginning to shy away from melodifestivalen.
In a parallel universe:
Since the winner only made it to 16th place in Zagreb it is a pretty safe assumption that most of the closer contenders would have topped that. It doesn't feel like Carola would have been a winner there, so it was maybe for the better than she got to wait another year. Maybe a completely reshaped Sofia Källgren in better vocal form could have made an international impression?
Carola / Mitt i ett äventyr (Sweden 1990 NF)