Disclaimer: This is a reviews post: All opinions stated belong to the editor quoted, and do not represent Matt or ESCUnited as a whole. Direct your anger elsewhere.

Also, as is the case if opinions, they’re subjective and mostly wrong. Especially mine. 

We’ve made it! Finally, after weeks of hounding and scouring the selections, national finals season will finally reach its close tonight. The apotheosis of the national finals season is, as per tradition, the finale of Sweden’s selection show: Melodifestivalen. Since Melodifestivalen is, according to our local correspondent Alistair, THE event in Sweden at the moment, we’ve compiled a giant megapost for its reviews to do it justice, and injustice.

Twelve songs are set to compete tonight for one final time, with one emerging as the Swedish representative at the up and coming Eurovision in Liverpool, England. Six of our editors have slaved themselves off to provide you with insight, or humour, or cathartic criticism about tonight’s line up. They are:

  • Stitching this post together on spite and acrimony, it’s Boris Meersman! (Belgium)
  • High on caipirinha, and still shaking his head at this Gen Z nonsense, it’s James Maude! (California)
  • Representing Scandi colours and Blandi flavours, It’s Phillip Jensen! (Denmark)
  • He goes by Laoi, but we swear, that’s a legit spelling of his name, it’s Lee! (Ireland)
  • Living half a world away but still caring beyond health, it’s Tyler Griffith! (Alaska)
  • and finally, mr Congeniality himself, it’s Connor Terry! (Oklahoma)

Together we have rated, ranked and reviewed the twelve songs from tonight, and from that has sprouted forth a ranking of sort. Let’s dive in, starting with our least favourite song, and working our way towards our eventual winner:


12th place
Jon Henrik Fjällgren, Ace North & Adam Woods – “Where you are(Sávežan)”
melodi #01

Boris – 5 – “Primo, that title banner has too many people on it. Secundo, what do all these names-upon-names-upon-motherf*cking-names even accomplish atop of their scaffholded spacecraft? I get a minor chuckle because of how extra Jon Henrik is in this, even though he figuratively carries this entire performance on his back like Sysyphus. Does the song need the jojking, though? 🤔 Sadly, the answer to that is yes, because *without Jon Henrik* “Where you are” lands at a generic, avicii-lite purgatory sort of state.”

Connor – 5 – “Talk about the longest introduction in recent melfest history here! While I love hearing some traditional Sami in melfest again, and I know that Jon Hendrik really wants to go to ESC….this is his worst entry so far. I think for me it’s because this is an Arc North and Adam Woods song ft. Jon Hendrik Fjallgren and not the other way around. The joiking seems shoe-horned in, the track is just fine, and this opening the final doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in it winning.” 

James – 5“I have certain expectations for my folk or pop-infused folk, and the appearance of two bland twinks in silver Nautica winter jackets doesn’t meet any of them. The centerpiece of “Where You Are” should be Fjallgren and his yoiking. Instead, he gets lost in the background of a composition I would most charitably label an airline ad jingle. It’s as if he got a memo that said his past near-misses at Eurovision were due to not being homogenous enough, and he took it as advice to strip out his backstory, heritage and uniqueness.” 

Lee – 5 –If not for the inclusion of Jon Henrik’s joik, this is a relatively pedestrian pop song. Thankfully, the joik helps to keep it at least a little original and engaging — I would have liked Jon Henrik to be at the forefront more, as the joik is the song’s unique element. It is a pleasant listen, though not one you’re likely to remember or return to at the end of a full run of song”

Phillip – 2.5 The rating might be harsh, but this feels unremarkable and lacks originality. It seems like they aimed to replicate Keiino’s success in 2019, but without the personality. The chorus isn’t memorable, and the vocals are so generic and anonymous. Given Jon Fjällgren’s impressive showings in 2017 and 2019 (in my opinion), they can certainly do better. However, perhaps I’m missing something.”

Tyler – 4.5 “I’m over Jon Henrik lol. I get that he brings a different vocal style to Melodifestivalen and it’s cool to see joiking, but does it really have to be included in a basic EDM track? I don’t think so! This song just does nothing for me and feels like a repeat on everything tried before only not nearly as well done. The song is okay and wouldn’t stand up to muster without the joiking so why should it get a pass again?”

Score: 27/60 (45%)
Highest: 5 (Boris, Connor, James &  Lee)
Lowest: 2.5 (Phillip)
Average: 4.5

11th place:
Maria Sur – “Never give up”
melodi #06

Boris – 2“Maria is a pet hate of mine. “Never give up” is anathema to what I value in an ESC song; it’s a stilted, cliché-ridden and IMMENSELY BORING charity song full of “believe in myself” platitudes and sweet nothings. “I don’t have surrender in my veins” is one of the most wretched lines ever committed to print by Laurell Barker. Worse, because the composition is cloying and inarticulate, it threatens to trivialize the Ukrainian conflict which has wrecked and cost the lives of thousands of innocent civilians! But hey, because Maria ~Has A Sob Story~ (which somehow matters more to the Swedes than actually having a good song?! In a SONG CONTEST?!) she’s also supposedly a “contender” to win Melfest. I mean, she won’t (because “Never give up” stinks, obviously) but the fact that discourse is even alive is a slap in the face of anyone going through an actual tough time.”

Connor – 8 “Maria is such a great vocalist and when the performance started I was like “Oh snap….she might have something here!” but then the chorus hits and it’s just…fine? By no means does the chorus make this a bad song but it does result in a lost point. I think that Maria could win Melfest in another year with a different song because that ‘It’ factor is there, this one just is a bit uninspiring and bleh overall. “

James – 6 – “I don’t feel this song quite captures and articulates Maria’s story. Sure, there’s only so many specifics to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine you could put in this song without running afoul of content rules, but this sounds like a generic girl boss anthem that could have been written for anybody years ago and was dusted off for 2023’s Melodifestivalen songwriting camp. Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania” won because of specific memories a man has of his mother, memories made more poignant as the son is forced to fight to defend his motherland. Laurel Barker could have done something lyrically about Maria and her mother’s flight to Sweden, or about anything specific to her as a young woman trying to make a life in exile.”

Lee – 4 Maria Sur’s story is an important and powerful one, speaking up for both herself and the countless others displaced by war. Unfortunately, I felt that her song “Never Give Up” doesn’t fully convey that message clearly on its own. The lyrics can be quite vague — the rhyme of “rain” with “pain” for example appears in two other finalists’ songs (Loreen and Kiana). Without knowing the added context of what the song is about, it can therefore lose a lot of its impact, coming across as generic and predictable. Nonetheless, Maria is an excellent vocalist, and performs the song well.”

Phillip – 5 –Although her story is inspiring and I sympathize with the difficult situation in Ukraine, the song feels unoriginal and has been done before. It was once the bookies’ favorite, but I sadly can’t see that when listening. It is very inoffensive. “

Tyler – 5.5 “There’s no question that Maria has good vocals. She seems capable of carrying plenty of songs like and killing it. The song itself though is just a big blah. The staging is so basic too that I’m expecting huge vocals to make up for it, but that doesn’t happen because the song doesn’t have any big moments. It’s competent and that’s it.”

Score: 30.5/60 (51%)
Highest: 8 (Connor)
Lowest: 2 (Boris)
Average: 5.08

10th place:
Paul Rey – “Royals”
melodi #12

Boris – 5“Well, “Royals” sure is a song. Yeah, I dunno. What exactly distinguishes it from Winners” by Mohombi? Or any of David Lindgren’s failures? It’s the same sort of inoffensively unmemorable default qualifier that reached the final because the Swedes had nobody else to imprint on. The trend of likely last placers closing the Melfest Final continues for yet another year, I guess.”

Connor – 9 – “Before the release of Tattoo, I was convinced that Paul Rey would win the selection. This song has been one of his strongest entries from both a melodic and lyrical standpoint and it’s simply infectious from the moment it starts. It’s also a Eurovision ready performance and song – and THAT is key for Sweden. In fact, next to Tattoo, ‘Royals’ has been my second most listened to song from the Melfest final to date. I don’t think he’ll win because the Loreen love is just so strong but if he sent this last year he might have challenged Cornelia.”

James – 6 – “On the plus side, this is a fun, relatively up-tempo number that suits Rey better than his prior singles. On the negative side, this is also very generic and we still, eight years after his arrival on the scene, have no idea of who Paul Rey is, his essence, or what if anything makes him unique as a performing artist. And the staging doesn’t help – his jacket blends in with the animated backdrop and he should be on a raised platform or more prominently displayed so as not to get lost among the dancers. Additionally, the lyrics to this entry are unforgivably daft. “If I was king for a day I would treat you royally” and his insistence that you could simultaneously be royal and rebel in his analogy, for example.”

Lee – 5Unfortunately, this really feels like something that’s been heard before time and again. “Royals” is pleasant enough, but it feels like we’ve heard about being kings or legends before. Paul Rey has a great voice though, and there is good energy through the song’s runtime. It’s inoffensively nice to listen to, but not likely to have much staying power beyond that.

Phillip – 3This is without a doubt one of the songs competing at Melodifestivalen this year. It is refreshing to see him experiment with a new sound, especially after his previous entries in 2020 and 2021. However, the chorus in this song doesn’t really click with me. The repetitive shouting of ‘Royals! Royals!‘ is a bit rough to listen to. Paul doesn’t really give me much of anything with this song. Despite that, I have enjoyed his entries in the past, especially ‘The Missing Piece’, and I do think he is capable of delivering a winning song in the future.”

Tyler – 4 “Paul Rey’s most successful Melfest entry (at least in terms of automatically qualifying for the final), and I’m just confused why that is. The song is super basic and feels unoriginal. I don’t find Paul’s presence on stage to be engaging and I’m just bored the entire time as I’m watching it. It’s mediocre at best, and all the best on Saturday.”

Score: 32/60 (53%)
Highest: 9 (Connor)
Lowest: 3 (Phillip)
Average: 5.33

9th place:
Panetoz – “On my way”
melodi #05

Boris – 6 “A good case study for this Melfest. ‘On my way’ is a paint-by-numbers, vaguely memorable tropical house song, which does nothing new, or nothing particularly well, but it’s also like…… kind of enjoyable, in a lowest common denominator sort of way? Its goodness boils almost entirely down to Panetoz being fun performers and the song not getting in their way. It’s a shame though, because Panetoz had a few (actual) good songs in the past, and this offering barely cracks the ‘Mid’.”

Connor – 5 – “So this Swedish-Afro hip-hop/pop fusion is not my cup of musical tea, and while it’s not for me I do want to compliment the guys for putting on a fantastic show. It’s a good summer hit for Melfest and the group, and I think that it’s a fine song overall. Where it struggles is that it lacks a memorable hook/melody and so I often forget it’s competition. That’s usually not a good sign for an entry….”

James – 6 – “You’d think West African music and Swedish lyrics would go together like jollof rice and lutevisk. And they do. “On My Way” is a dated schlager party sound with some tropical trimmings at points, then swings back to Gambia for some sections, and while I can’t fault Panetoz for generally delivering a good time, there is a lot of “fusion confusion” here. And there doesn’t need to be, especially since the lyrics are of the “my girl’s booty makes me go wild” variety that you hear on your dirty Uncle Rick’s backyard BBQ Spotify playlist.” 

Lee – 6This is a very charming Summer bop; you can definitely imagine rolling down the windows in your car and enjoying this. It has a warm and full sound, and is just three full minutes of cheerfulness to listen to. It won’t compete for the Melfest crown, but it nonetheless just radiates good vibes, while also differentiating itself from other sounds on offer.”

Phillip – 5 – The one thing I can say about this song is that it always puts a smile on my face. The group’s infectious energy shines through every time they sing or rap. I also appreciate the mix of English and Swedish in the lyrics, and the incorporation of traditional African music influences, which is like some of the music that I enjoy listening to in my free time. However, I do feel that the song lacks progression and blends in too much without any standout moments.”

🏆 Tyler – 7 – “This is highkey super fun! The style of “On My Way” is Swedish Island Pop, so if this is how they perform in Gotland, then I’m missing out! This entry is just fun and enjoyable, even if the camera drone was awkward in execution. The crowd seemed interested too when Panetoz tried to get them involved, so there’s some audience there! This would be a super fun entry to see at Eurovision, this would be a good closer.”

Score: 35/60  (58%)
Highest: 7 (Tyler)
Lowest: 5 (Connor, Phillip)
Average: 5.83

8th place:
Tone Sekelius – “Rhythm of my show”
melodi #02

Boris – 7 – “Once again Tone Sekelius squeezed her way into my heart with an underwhelming song that I somehow quite enjoy. I dunno, “Rhythm of my show” is so basic its PH approaches eleven (it sounds like that ‘Indepediente‘ song from last year’s EMA <3), and yet, it is a bop and resonates with me. Is it good? No, probably not. Does that matter? Not really? 🤷‍♀️ “Rhythm of my show” is a serviceable trashbanger current in an ocean of dull and mid, and for that tiniest of glimmers it provides, it’s an entry I can root for.”

Connor – 6“I really didn’t love this song during the first heat but now that we’re at the end, I get the hype and how Tone went DTF. It’s a fantastic dance pop song, and very traditional melfest/Swedish pop. I think while Tone does a good job of carrying the song but we do lose some of the lyrics in the verses due to, ironically, the rhythm of the words. A perfectly fine song but she could get lost in the shuffle this year. “

🏆 James – 9 – “After a timid first go-round at Melodifestivalen, Tone chose the right time to come back with a defiant declaration of intent that is also a great club banger. A fist pumping bassline runs throughout, and though I take every opportunity to crap on Melfest songwriters for drafting clichéd swill, I have to commend them for bringing something less Stockholm and more Miami and Los Angeles. And for taking Tone’s victory over her inner demons are making it universal. Sure, she may still be green as a performer, but I’d rather Sweden send someone young and inexperienced to Liverpool with something to say in an engaging and fun package than someone older with a more formulaic and seasoned entry.”

Lee – 4Following her 2022 Melfest entry “My Way,” Tone Sekelius returns this year with another uplifting pop anthem. Unfortunately, I feel that this song is a little weaker than last year’s track. I felt that its drop is very underwhelming, letting the track down at the moment when it should really pop off. While Tone is a good performer, I also felt that her diction could be improved, as it was at points difficult to understand what was being said. The lyrics are always welcome however, with a good message about celebrating oneself.”

Phillip – 4.5Tone had a great song last year, a very great song actually. This year I feel like it’s one of those songs you’ve heard 100 times before, even at Melfest/Eurovision. It doesn’t do much for me. I also can’t hear most of the words that she sings most of the time, especially in both of the verses. The mumblyness of the singing makes the final product feel too messy for me.”

Tyler – 7 – ” I’m so happy Tone is back and she qualified directly to the final this time instead of going through Andra Chansen–she got the respect immediately this time! I quite like the song for how queer it is when I’m reading it. It’s all about going to your own rhythm and not conforming to others and making your own show. That being said, I find Tone’s vocals to be a little weak here. Not sure if it’s outside her range, but it wasn’t enough of a slay for me. I’m so glad we got to see Tone perform a girlboss song, now it’s time next year to perform a winner.”

Score: 36.5/60 (61%)
Highest: 9 (James)
Lowest: 4 (Lee)
Average: 6.08

7th Place:
Mariette – “One day”
melodi #03

Boris – 6“This is my masterplan, I’m gonna scale a ramp. Fake or believe  it, I ham all I can.”

Connor – 7 – “This song has had a massive glow-up for me as I really wasn’t a fan in heat four, but something clicked in the semi-final. While it’s not my favorite Mariette entry I think it’s her better attempt post 2017. The best part of a Mariette song we never have to worry about her vocals, but there’s still some slight disconnect for me – maybe it’s all the dancing? Maybe how finely rehearsed it is? I’m unsure but it makes me appreciate but not stan the song. “

James – 8 – “There’s a moment at the end where Mariette lands the lyric “lost” with a visible wince, even though by the logic of the song she has ascended the top of the stage steps and triumphed. That small detail pretty much sums up the power of a Mariette entry – she emotes tenacity, the feeling that she will never give up, and should she triumph, she will not take it for granted or the people who help got her there. There’s an authenticity and experience with her that can’t be taught but that she conveys effortlessly. This is a perfect power pop number that could ring out a modern stage musical.”

Lee – 3Your enjoyment of this will depend hugely on your tolerance for sugary sweetness — this is essentially the musical equivalent of a spoon of sugar, with some cheese on the side. The end result is saccharine to the max, albeit with some charm and great vocals to help the medicine go down.”

Phillip –  7.5 – A lot of people have argued that this song is only good because of the great staging, and they could be onto something. However, I think the whole package is well put together, and I’m thrilled to see her qualify for the final, especially after narrowly missing out in the fourth heat. Mariette also just seems like the most likable person. The performers and backup singers execute the choreography very well, contributing greatly to the overall success of the song. There is no doubt in this is very unapologetically Swedish and can have a problem with standing out in a twelve-song lineup.”

Tyler – 5.5 – “I was never a big fan of Mariette’s songs, as I find them to be quite generic and not that groundbreaking. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they appeal to a wide scope of people. “One Day” hasn’t changed my mind of this. I like the staging with the weird half pipe structure on it, but the lyrics are just dull to me. Mariette sounds nice and professional, but nothing special to me.”

Score: 37/60 (62%)
Highest: 8 (James)
Lowest: 3 (Lee)
Average: 6.17

6th Place
Theoz – “Mer av dig”
melodi #11

Boris – 7“I wish I could give more. “Som du vill” was my favourite song last year and I have a soft spot for the talented teenagers participating in these grown-up selections, but Theoz suffers from the same issues that have plagued  all of Melfest 2023: (1) everything (yes, this includes the good songs) feel basic at best, and soulless at worst (2) Every returnee who was good before returned as a worse version of themselves. “Mer av dig” is fine, but given how fun “Som du vill” was and still is, I was hoping for a bit more than ‘fine‘ for its successor.”

Connor – 8 – “Two things I love most about Theoz, he always sings in Swedish and always delivers a summer bop that I’ll listen to for weeks on end. Similar to my comments on Kiana, there is a particular part about Theoz that makes me think he could be the next Eric Saade for Sweden, whether through ESC or Melfest or just music releases. He does have the crap slot though coming just after Loreen, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Either way I’ll be bopping along and pretending to know Swedish when he performs Saturday!”

James – 6.5 – “This has all the hallmarks of a Dutch Junior Eurovision entry, from the overly cheery baby faced dance assassin with a dodgy ‘90s center hair part leading his dance ensemble pals down the street, figuratively, for an evening on the town. It’s all very wholesome, but we’re headed for Eurovision to a town where this entry’s car would be put up on bricks and set on fire. This clean cut dance number feels very out of place, no matter how many Eurovision tricks AVROTOS… sorry, SVT… throw at it. And they throw a fair few with the key change and pyrotechnics and lights.”   

Lee – 4 – “Despite its repetitiveness, I really loved THEOZ’s ‘Som Du Vil’ last year. Sadly, I’m not sure that I feel as positively about his 2023 entry “Mer Av Dig.” It’s great to have another Swedish language song, though this one feels a little cheesy with its reliance on “woah’s.” It’s ultimately a fairly harmless pop song.”

Phillip – 7 –Another song in Swedish that is also quite alright. Doesn’t do anything special and is as said many times in this review VERY SWEDISH. Those whistling noises feel a bit misplaced, but all in all, it’s the traditional Swedish pop-party song that does what it needs t”

Tyler – 6 “”Mer av dig” is about the same quality as his song last year, just with a different haircut from the late 90s. It’s an okay song, the dancers are fun, Theoz definitely has a natural stage presence that would make him a hit with teenyboppers. But for the big Eurovision stage? I’m not sure if I see that yet.”

Score: 38.5/60 (64%)
Highest: 8 (Connor)
Lowest: 4 (Lee)
Average: 6.42

5th place:
Marcus & Martinus – “Air”
melodi #04

Boris – 5 – “These *freaking* K-Pop-looking wonderbread twerps, man. I’ve had some major eyerolls listening to this: Rhyming “water” with “underwater” and “higher” with “fire“; “I CAN’T BREATHE WITHOUT AIR, YOU ARE MY AIR!!!!!”; “YOU’RE LIKE AN OCEAN, A MILLION EMOTIONS” The writing exhudes so much white male mediocrity the Swedish Fangirls have already moistened themselves. Now, don’t get me wrong, “Air” has a good melody and ambience, and the act is – more unintentionally than anything else – pretty funnay. Pair of homely twinkbeasts “airbending” on a platform the size of a postal stamp <3 There is some appeal there for me, but it comes entirely at M&M’s expense and I would hate to see them defeat any entry with actual merit, so a five is the ceiling I can give, soz babes.”

Connor – 9 – “Well we all knew that this would be one of the strongest songs/acts of Melfest as soon as they were announced, and they have really delivered. They are still the biggest competition for Loreen’s victory this year and if she wasn’t in the contest this year it would be THE entry for Eurovision 2023 hands down. It’s a catchy song, an entertaining and new staging concept, and the boys are also having so much fun. Sweden would be well represented with this package and act for sure. “

James – 4 “The track itself is fine, but the lyrics and delivery thereof hose off this club banger with antiseptic fluid. I’m trying to have a great time in the club, and then my ears are assaulted by these twin bees buzzing around and rambling on about breathing underwater. F&%$ off with your high pitched “You’re just like the ocean, I feel a million emotions” nonsense. And for looking so young, how the hell do these two pull off drunk Dad level dancing? These two definitely need backing dancers to supplement their “I stick my right leg out, shake it, then skip cross the stage”- routine.”

Lee -8.5 – Fittingly for a song titled “Air,” this has a fantastic atmosphere! The dark instrumental feels almost like being submerged, while the bright synths offer pockets of air throughout. The melody is very memorable, and although “Air” has fairly cliche lyrics, they don’t really detract from the overall package being so thoroughly enjoyable.”

Phillip – 8.5- I had the opportunity to perform on the same stage as these guys when I was just 13, and let me tell you, their stage presence is simply amazing. The way they command the audience’s attention is truly remarkable. Furthermore, the song they’ve presented is Swedish songwriting at its very best – I don’t think there was any doubt it would qualify, even before the song was out. My only critique is that their vocals can become a bit much at times.”

Tyler – 5 – “The vocals are too much for me to overcome. They definitely aren’t for me, but I’m sure they both have their fans, but I find the vocals to be too shrill for me to really enjoy. I do like the staging of the song though and think this would be a pretty good club song. The vibe is right for me to like it, but the performers themselves aren’t good enough for me. Their dancing is good though!”

Score: 40/60 (67%)
Highest: 9 (Connor)
Lowest: 4 (James)
Average: 6.66


4th place
Nordman – “Släpp alla sorger”
melodi #09

Boris – 7 – “Pair of listless olds stumble into Melfest with a dulcimer, a raven and an unpretentious folk song, and proceed to wrap Sweden around their bony finger <33333 Ewa & Eva might have long been dead, but their geriatric underdog spirit lives on in Nordman.”

Connor – 6 – “Listen, I know that there’s a very good market for this in Sweden and I’m glad we have at least ONE traditional sounding song in the final. But this just seems a little empty live, maybe because they need a different staging concept? The close up shots are great with the LEDs but when the chorus hits and it’s just just more of the same it loses it’s charm. Will this do good in the 45+ televote? Yes. Will this win? No. ”

🏆 James – 9 – “This is what a Scandinavian national selection should be all about – two guys who look like extras from Vikings delivering a folk EDM number that slaps. Google says the Swedish title translates to “Let go of all your sorrows,” but it should really be “hit your sorrows on the head with a vodka bottle and throw it through the bar window to land on the hood of a Dodge Ram.” That’s just the rambunctious vibe this gives. Sweden will never pick this for Liverpool, but I hope the publicity allows Nordman to be financially successful enough to stage many rural barroom parties for years to come.”

Lee – 5Nordman’s “Släpp Alla Sorger” brings folk rock to Melodifestivalen 2023, which is a very welcome addition! The song adds a welcome dash of originality to an otherwise pop-heavy lineup, although it won’t appeal to all.”

Phillip – 8.5 –I have actually enjoyed many of the songs in Swedish this year. These songs include “Edelweiss”, “Låt hela stan se på”, and one particular song also in the final, but this one has to take the cake! The Swedish traditional vibes (with the nordic mythology references and so on) in this song just work, especially with that ‘Key Harp’ instrument thing.”

Tyler – 5,5 – “Perhaps simple staging with a guy with an unique instrument is good for most people, but I wish there was more to this. I don’t like the green lighting, Nordman sounds okay but not a showstopper like a bunch of others in this selection. It’s cool to see, but isn’t cool enough to be a favorite. It’s fine.”

Score: 41/60 (64%)
Highest: 9 (James)
Lowest: 5 (Lee)
Average: 6.83

Kiana – “Where did you go?”
melodi #08

🏆 Boris – 9 – “Heat 4 is when the good music showed up, exhibit two. Kiana turned sixteen on the day of the heat and delivered this. This performance is f’cking IMPRESSIVE for someone her age, first of all. Second of all, the song slaps? Like all entries this year, “Where did you go?” is a bit basic, but here I find it working in Kiana’s favour – her eurodance song is easy to connect with, catchy and fun to vibe to. Add in a strong performance by a charismatic and talented singer (where were YOU at age 16?) and a fun act, and you have something that should (at least pretend to) challenge Loreen’s impending coronation.”

Connor – 8 – “I’ve said this before on my podcast, Kiana is the best Melfest debut we’ve seen this year. Girl came off a Swedish talent show just last year, turned 16 the week of her heat, and then came out and delivered a flawless and energetic pop performance. While I know this isn’t her year, she gives me early Olivia Rodrigo vibes who is just about to go big internationally, because the package is there – dancing, vocals, stage presence. She has IT and things will only get better from here. ”

James – 7 – “Kiana will go to Eurovision. Not in 2023. Probably around 2029. But this is the future talent SVT wants us to keep an eye out for, and for a 16-year-old making her professional stage debut she nails it. The song itself is weak and not memorable, but that’s not the point and what it asks of Kiana is not excessive and an appropriate showcase for an up-and-comer and she hits the notes and the marks accordingly. Her stans in six years’ time will look back on this debut fondly.”

Lee – 6.5 – At only 16 years old, Kiana is a major talent, and has brought a very respectable bop to Melodifestivalen 2023. “Where Did You Go” has all the ingredients of a successful pop song; however, it is hampered by its repetitiveness. The phrase “where did you go,” is repeated thirty times in three minutes! However, if you aren’t turned away by the repetition, this is a really fun listen.”

Phillip – 6 – Another very Swedish entry with great staging. A big fan of the light rods and incorporated dancing. I start to get the feeling that Sweden really likes upbeat music, who would’ve thought lol. Well performed and sung, but doesn’t scream WINNER to me sadly. There is much potential to see here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she came back in the coming years with an even better song.”

🏆 Tyler – 7“Kiana’s vocals are a slay, they’re quite strong and good! I thought the staging was okay, didn’t like the computer graphics for the bar lights and then the pink strobe. The music is a little generic, but still infectious and I can hear this on the radio as long as you can hear Kiana too. The lyrics are a bit repetitive, but overall a good performance!”

Final Verdict: 44/60 (73%)
Highest: 9 (Boris)
Lowest: 6 (Phillip)
Average: 7.33


Smash Into Pieces – “Six Feet Under”
melodi #07

Boris – 8 –Heat 4 is when the good music decided to show up, exhibit one. Lead boy’s a bit much of a nasally twerp, but that’s really my only gripe – Smash into Pieces de-LIVER a powerful melfest Schlager Metal entry that stands out amongst the average radio pop and it’s like a breath of oxygen fanned onto a dying flame. I don’t want them to win though because (1) this year already has a few good rock songs (Promise, Carpe Diem) (2) I like said rock songs more oops- (3) breathing life into a dead contest isn’t exactly difficult (4) let’s be real, they aren’t Loreen or Kiana.” 

Connor – 9 – “I LIVE. My little metal heart is quaking every time I listen to this song, and it just brings me back to my days of listening to Def Leppard or Evanescence as a kid. The performance is captivating, the staging is entertaining and eye-catching, and their vocals are fantastic. This is the level of quality I’ve come to expect from Melfest, and I’d be shocked to not see this in the top 3 of the final this year!”

James – 5 – “This band sounds like the opener for a B-level Nu-metal act from 2003 like Adema or Spineshank. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. I’d go scope out the merch table, grab a drink, or make sure Adema’s bassist isn’t urinating in the ladies room sink again, while Smash Into Pieces performed. “Six Feet Under” is a little too polished, a little too pop. You want some edge with your nu-metal or alternative metal (for example, the feral quality and working class nihilism the kids in Blind Channel had at Eurovision 2021). Video game imagery in the lyrics and a drummer doing low rent Star Wars LARPing definitely don’t provide that.”   

Lee – 8 – It’s incredibly unlucky that Smash Into Pieces are competing in such a difficult Melfest, as “Six Feet Under” is fantastic! It’s a great mix of pop and rock. Lead singer Chris Sörbye brings excellent grit to his vocal in the verses, shifting to a more melodic pop tone during the chorus. This is certainly one of the strongest (if not the absolute strongest) rock entries to appear this national final season.”

Phillip – 9 –I think I speak for most people when I say, this year’s Eurovision has an overabundance of bands. However, if there’s one more band that should join the lineup, it is Smash Into Pieces. Their rock-pop song is fantastic, and Chris Sörbye delivers an outstanding vocal performance. This is rock done right and it’s one of three rock songs from the national final/selection season that I’ve enjoyed, alongside Voyager and Nicklas Sonne. This song should win any other normal year, but…”

Tyler – 6 – ” It’s giving Linkin Park as the obvious comparison, but if it fits, why bother changing it? The song is kinda good and I was impressed by the key change and actually going for a high and long note for variety. Very nice! This would be a risk for Sweden to choose, but it’s all the more reason to pick it. It’s probably the most polished rock song I’ve heard in this year’s selections, but it’s competent. It doesn’t blow me away though so this score seems fair.”

Final Verdict: 45/60 (75%)
Highest: 9 (Connor, Phillip)
Lowest: 5 (James)
Average: 7.5

Loreen – “Tattoo”
melodi #10

Boris – 8.5 ‘Heat 4 is when the good music showed up, exhibit three. Ok time to play devil’s advocate (without giving a lowish, edgelordy score): ‘Tattoo’ is not the best thing to ever happen to music, CHILL OUT CIGARETTES. It sounds like a b-side track from her Heal-era and while that’s enjoyable, it’s also the weakest song Loreen has entered melfest with. “Statements” was revolutionary. “Euphoria” was game-changing. “My Heart Is Refusing Me” is one of the best EDM songs ever.  The whole ensemble of “Tattoo” meanwhile feels like a spectacle where the song is kept basic so as it would not interfere with the act, stunning as that act is. Having said all that, “a faded Euphoria still makes for a very, very good entry though, lol.”

🏆 Connor – 10 “The fact that they gave her slot 10 in the final speaks wonders here, SVT knows what is coming on Saturday – a guaranteed top 2 finish for Loreen. What I love about this performance (even if you take Loreen’s former ESC win out of the equation) is that this is a piece of performance art and looks like a music video NOT a live performance. She thought about everything from the camera placement to the LEDs to the smoke. People say that Loreen is being overhyped, but if Sweden wants another win to tie Ireland, it’s right in front of you. “

James – 6“Lyrically, Loreen winning Eurovision 2023 – if the hype is to be believed – would be a reverse Johnny Logan. “Euphoria” was a triumphant anthem, of a woman confidently striding onto a stage she feels she owns and crushing all in her way. Victory was hers, and fans for the past decade have agreed, propping up her status as a once in a generation sensation. So thematically it seems weird that a more nervous, less sure woman shows up eleven years later with “Tattoo.” Had the woman who declared the euphoria onstage that night in Baku an eternity fallen on hard times? Why has the woman who had destiny in her own hands now hung up on someone else to chase that decade old euphoria? She could have made the song a reflection on experience, of having to pivot and learn from mistakes in order to get that euphoric high again. But that doesn’t happen. The staging at Melodifestivalen makes it look like Loreen is stuck in a photocopier, which is quite an appropriate metaphor given there’s elements of her Baku winning performance there, but they have faded. I want the Loreen of that night in 2012 back, or a Loreen who has progressed from there. “Tattoo” feels like defeat.”

🏆 Lee – 9 –Loreen’s grand return “Tattoo” is, on paper, not as instantaneously special as “Euphoria.” It feels like it strains slightly at its chorus, never quite reaching the phenomenal height that its build promises. It is a good but relatively ordinary pop song — fortunately, the artist herself elevates this massively, with soaring vocals and the addition of a powerful ambience when performed. Loreen is nothing short of a superstar: the rare performer who can take a decent song and transform it into something mesmerizing. Her grand return to Melodifestivalen is a song with lyrics about reunion — and it certainly is a joy to be reunited with Loreen again.”

🏆 Phillip – 10I had a weird feeling about this song at first. When the bookies and others started getting hyped over one-minute snippets of her song, I was very skeptical. I actually got a bit mad at all the traction the song got because I just didn’t get THAT vibe from the snippet. But… hearing it live in the fourth heat gave me goosebumps. It’s PERFECT. Don’t change a thing and this should win both Melodifestivalen and Eurovision. Her raw and powerful vocals, brilliant staging, and these rising electronic arpeggios that get stuck in your head for days.”

Tyler – 6 – “Loreen has such a powerful stage presence that she barely needs this claustrophobic staging. Her vocals are crazy good and can carry in an arena. That all being said, I like this song less than I did with “Statements”. Her vocals while pretty aren’t as comprehensive to me as I don’t understand what she’s saying nor what she’s trying to go for. Her performance seems polarizing in people will either love it or just shrug and say “this doesn’t apply to me” and not pick up the phone. I guess I’m in the latter camp. The song itself isn’t good enough for Loreen’s talent, and I do not think this would win Eurovision. The jury might eat this up, but it isn’t a televoting winner.”

Final Verdict: 49.5/60 (83%)
Highest: 10! (Connor, Phillip)
Lowest: 6 (James, Tyler)
Average: 8.25


As you’ve read, our winner is none other than Loreen, beating out her fellow competitors with a generous 8.25 average. Smash Into Pieces and Kiana complete the podium and are our back-up picks in the case of a Loreen loss.

Here’s the full voting chart for the nerds who care:

Melfest will air at 20:00 CET on SVT. Dont miss it!

Do #YOU agree with our assessments? Who do #YOU want to see win Melodifestivalen 2023? Let us know in the comments or on our social media!


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