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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Melodifestivalen 2016: this is how the final ends

After six weeks of Melodifestival we have reached the end of the procedure, where the national final in the huge Friends Arena will select the lucky one who gets to defend Sweden on home ground in the very much smaller Globe Arena in May.

This has been the year of the radio-friendly, well-produced mid tempo track and it is of course a positive thing that the kind of music people actually listen to on radio found its way into the competition. Most of the entries are already hits in Sweden and of course that is a huge success for SVT.

It would perhaps have been more entertaining if the genre hadn't quite crushed all resistance like it did. The final line-up is really good but also a bit too streamlined. It feels like most of these performances were hatched from the same egg and there is nothing that stands out or feels shocking or upsetting to anyone.

The trend seems to be the same in this year's ESC. Loads of commercial, radio-friendly inoffensive pop of a kind I really like. But if the ESC final turns out to be as void of variation as the Melodifestivalen one, only longer, than I am not sure Europe will stay amused all the way through it.

The good part of the songs being pretty similar is that we could have had the most exciting voting ever. But in week four, one of the songs suddenly became more than just a radio hit - it grew into a phenomenon. If this particular one doesn't win, it will be the biggest surprise in many a good day.

But apart from victory, everything is possible and all the positions are up for grabs.

01. Panetoz / Håll om mig hårt
How to start a final with a bang? Put the energy burst known as Panetoz to open the whole thing. Joyful and plain adorable - I should usually feel reserved about this kind of thing but am totally in love with these guys - and probably without any real chance in the end.

02. Lisa Ajax / My Heart Wants Me Dead
Almost an icon for this year: pleasant, well-produced, well sung but not in possession of an awful lot of personality. Lisa does her best but most of the other songs are better and this won't carry far.

03. David Lindgren / We Are Your Tomorrow
The male equivalent of Lisa Ajax in many ways. Nothing is wrong here but some personality and originality would have been needed to break through.

04. SaRaha / Kizunguzungu
I admit I thought this wouldn't make it out of its semi, now it is one of the biggest hits of the season. I still think it is far from excellent but SaRaha's energy makes up for a lot of that. And it is also one of the few songs to really stand out musically in this final.

05. Oscar Zia / Human
At some point Oscar felt like a potential winner but has fallen back a bit in the predictions. Still a remarkably good-looking execution and if the boy improves his vocals this could be a tiny surprise in the making.

06. Ace Wilder / Don't Worry
What would Ukraine do? Ukraine would send in a song that is hardly even a song but a massive rhythm with a really clever hook in an excellent visual presentation. This would be my dream winner but Sweden is not Ukraine and this is not going to happen.

07. Robin Bengtsson / Constellation Prize
A lovely song performed by a lovely man. Genuinely happy this one made it all the way here but the competition is razor sharp in this very genre. Could end up surprisingly low tonight.

08. Molly Sandén / Youniverse
Most people thought this would be Molly's year - me included - and then the song just wasn't strong enough. Nice, pleasant, forgettable. It won't do in a year like this.

09. Boris René / Put Your Love On Me
If there is to be a big surprise tonight, please let it be this one. Musically also this one stands out more than most and feels explosive coming after two more laid-back songs.

10. Frans / If I Were Sorry
The winner. Only a very determined international jury could push Frans off his throne in this final. The way Frans has clicked with the Swedish audience is rare and if he doesn't win it would be the biggest surprise in this new era of Melodifestivalen.

11. Wictoria / Save Me
Very hard to predict how this one will do: all I hear and see is a pretty mediocre and repetitive song, performed by a good singer trapped in an underwhelming special effect that others have done better before.

12. Samir & Viktor / Bada nakna
My guess is that SVT feels rather confident that one of the entries has victory all wrapped up already and can allow the comic relief to close the running order. It could give these beach boys a better placing than most would have suspected and they do deserve some reward for being entertaining.

So how will this end? Frans will win. That is pretty clear. Most probably it will be quite a tight race between everyone else in the running which means the international jury could have the decisive vote in case they have clear favourites. I hope they will favour interesting stage numbers like Oscar and Ace but your guess is as good as mine.

Tobson predicts:
1) Frans
2) Oscar Zia
3) Ace Wilder