The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent our other authors, #escYOUnited as a whole or the EBU.

So with that, the national final season draws to a close. And what better way to tie everything up into a neat package than with the twelve finalists of Melodifestivalen 2019? For one last time, before the Expert Panel starts, let’s review some national final hopefuls!

Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken (Goeksegh)

James – 10 – “KEiiNO won in Norway with a part-Sami-language song referencing the Northern Lights, and could it be possible Sweden enters the same with a similarly themed though different sounding song? I am convinced of it. “Norrsken” starts off like the folk of Gordon Lightfoot, with flute and an acoustic guitar before drums come in. But though KEiiNO is a modern club banger with Sami touches, this feels more like Sami folk given a modern pop production refresh. If Sweden chooses to go another direction this year (and after Ingrosso’s performance with televoters in 2018, they should), “Norrsken” and its message of following your dreams should light up the sky in Tel Aviv. This is a beautiful folk pop song that stands out and deserves Melodifestivalen victory.”

Jordan – 9 – “The only ethnically Swedish entry in the bunch this year and once again Jon Henrik has nailed it. His voice is fabulous as always. The main chorus is catchy which is hard to do with these kinds of songs and the staging is great. I do however have a little concern that it could fall flat on the Eurovision stage without the pre-recorded backing vocals.”

Roy – 6 – “To be honest, I think this is Jon Henrik’s weakest effort so far. It totally deserved to go to the final, but I feel like the overall vibe is a bit too childish for me. Off course this song sticks out among all the popsongs in Melfest and I would applaud Sweden if they sent this, but Jon Henrik deserves a better song. They also need quite a few backup vocalists to support the song, this may make it more difficult to make this staging great.”

Sean – 8 – “I have always enjoyed Jon Henrik’s entries in Melodifestivalen and this year is no exception. In fact, I’d go as far to say that this is my favourite of his attempts. It might be a little hampered by the fact Norway have a very similar approach to the contest this year but this is very Enigma easy listening, while having a catchy refrain at the same time. It would be fantastic for Sweden to stop their polished pop routine and go for something a little more authentic this time, while still keeping their familiar feel!”

Total – 33

Lisa Ajax – Torn

James – 6 – “Oh great, a break up song. Bonus for the “Dead Alive” lyric in the chorus, only because it reminds me of Peter Jackson’s greatest movie. The synthesized snare drum at the bridge is a neat touch. But instead of that being the sign of Lisa rising back up and finding someone new or heading off alone into the future on a positive note, she just doubles down on how broken she is. She just needs that “I kick arse for the Lord!” moment that “Dead Alive” had to lift us out of the doldrums. If Lisa goes to Tel Aviv, she should ask Nadav Guedj to show her around and cheer her up a bit.”

Jordan – 9 – “Jeez this girl can sing! Torn is an excellently composed song and Lisa puts her own spin on the song and the staging compliments it perfectly. Lisa is able to convey the emotion in her vocals and I believe every word she is singing. I really really like this one. I don’t think it’s going to win but she can be proud of this.”

Roy – 5 – “Even though Lisa can finally show us what her voice is capable of, I find her song a bit too bland. I also would have liked her performance to have a bit more real emotion. I do love the minimalistic staging although I think it doesn’t work that well in Melfest. I find her pronunciation in the main lines of the song a bit distracting too. She has a very harsh “K-sound” in the word broke which kind of gets me out of the moment. Her best entry so far, but a bit too bland.”

Sean – 6 – “Like some people have said with the newly released Austrian entry, I’m waiting for a boom that never comes. It’s an emotional, gut-wrenching ballad and Lisa certainly has a strong voice for this type of thing but this song does nothing for me. It’s too beige in a year which has a number of standouts.”

Total – 26

Mohombi – Hello

James – 7 – “Mohombi has the naïve charm of a Cesar Sampson, and this acoustic guitar romantic pop song is sweet but, especially with the animated staging he’s had, this falls into the Sweden slick staging over a nothing burger song trap. There is really nothing to this song. It is pleasant and warm, but verging on the saccharine. Remember how people complained of Zamerlow and Bengtsson and Ingrosso being all style and no substance? They can paint this one with that brush, too. Another note: the repeated hellos remind me of that scene from the British sitcom “Some mothers do ‘ave ‘em” where Michael Crawford keeps time in a Scottish folk dance by singing “hello” and “goodbye” over and over again. Crawford’s kilt falls down after the dance. I hope this is not Mohombi’s fate.”

Jordan – 8 – “This is fun! Mohombi has great charisma on stage and the staging although having hues of Mans Zelmerlow’s “Heroes” is fun to watch. The song has a very catchy chorus that gets stuck in your head but it’s painfully obvious coming after Lisa Ajax he isn’t the strongest vocalist in the line-up.”

Roy – 4 – “Firstly, vocally this isn’t the strongest. The staging is incredible and I like the verses. Now, This song should revolve around the chorus and the drop, if you can even call it that. I find this part the most lacking part of the entire song. Mohombi uses Hello as the famous “Lalala’s” and it just makes the song a little too repetitive for me. Melodically the chorus isn’t that strong either and I feel like it is a bit of an unfinished product. The staging is incredible and Mohombi has a lot of charisma, but the main part of the song is too big of a let-down for me.”

Sean – 7 – “Have seen a lot of hype for this one, and it’s a decent pop track with a latino energy, not too dissimilar in feel to Mendez’ entry last year. But while that was an epic bop, this just lacks something that moves it into ‘great’ territory. No doubt that it’s catchy, and they’ve tried to throw the staging book at this one, but when you strip it back to the song it’s nothing too special.”

Total – 26

Lina Hedlund – Victorious

James – 6 – “Because she was part of Alcazar, I will always have time for Hedlund (and that’s probably only because of the Billboard charting “Crying at the Discotheque,” which heavily sample’s Sheila’s disco masterpiece “Spacer”). But this is a generic pop-schlager number with a few cheap modern touches to bring it into 2019 (it tries, even though this could be from 2004). The lyrics have some goofy charm in a clunky way (“I see a friend craving for saving!”), but yet this is another safe “believe in yourself” banger that is common at Eurovision.”

Jordan – 4 – “Well… we always have to have one schlager pop banger from 2000 in Melfest right? Personally, I’m not a fan unfortunately. She has a nice voice and all but overall it just comes across as a bit cheap and predictable. It’s not a contender to win and I’ll be surprised if it isn’t in the bottom 2 come end of the voting. Sorry Lina!”

Roy – 6 – “I will be honest, I didn’t like this song all that much at first listen. I was quite surprised that this went straight to the final, but after listening to it a few more times I started to like it. This feels like a modern take on schlager-music and in this case it works for me. I think the chorus is catchy and I find myself singing to this more than I should. I do think that the staging could be a little better, but overall a nice catchy, fun and uplifting song.”

Sean – 5 – “This year’s schlagerfest comes from Alcazar’s Lina Hedlund. To compare another entry to last year, this is a poor attempt at channelling the same energy as Jessica Andersson. It’s unashamedly cheesy, brash and Swedish to the core, but surely the Swedes wouldn’t make the mistake of sending this one through. Fine for a party, but not much else.”

Total – 21

Bishara – On My Own

James – 5 – “Are they doing qualification for Junior Eurovision 2019 at the same time? The kid’s got a decent voice even though he had some mistakes on stage in the beginning. As a side note, this kid looks like the arms-dealing teenage villain from Robocop 2. I am not convinced this generic pop ballad carried by childlike vocals over not-at-all childlike content will do the business in Tel Aviv. They’re downright off-putting, actually. To use a lobster metaphor, throw him back into the sea and come back when he sounds like he is of the right age for Eurovision.”

Jordan – 8 – “This kid is 16 and already has a voice this good… Jesus Christ! Overall the song isn’t the most memorable of the bunch but it’s still a very well-produced pop ballad. I do understand people may find his high-pitched voice might put some people off but I just think that defines him as a performer. I like this and wouldn’t be upset if this won.”

Roy – 6 – “You can say all you want, but you can’t deny that this young lad can sing very well. I feel like the song itself fits him really well, but the part that bothers me so much is the lyrics. The lyrics of the song sound like they are about a very serious relationship and I don’t think that he has experienced something as bad as the lyrics describe. I feel like the song was initially written for an older performer that refused. Bishara probably tried singing it and they really liked how it sounded together. A good song, a good singer, but bad lyrics. Still not the worst of the bunch though.”

Sean – 2 – “He’s 16. I never got when a 16 year old singer was paired up with a song about deep love for someone (generally they haven’t had enough life experience to portray these songs authentically, surely?). If I focus on this song, I’m afraid to say it’s saccharine pap. Not my cup of tea, no matter how well he might sing it, but I’m sure this guy has a good future ahead of him.”

Total – 21

Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes

James – 8 – “It’s unusual that an up-tempo, light folk pop song has a chorus of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” a phrase more commonly heard in funeral rites, but this is Sweden, so there you go. Anna’s got the most to prove as she has the “ignominy” of being the only Swedish Eurovision entrant to have failed to qualify from a Semi-Final in 2010. That this sounds so effortless, her movement on stage so confident, is a testament to what a professional performer she is. The song is light and warm, despite its contrasting name.”

Jordan – 7 – “Bjorkman, don’t you think it’s a bit insensitive to put Anna Bergendahl in slot 6? (Sweden were in slot 6 in 2010 when they didn’t qualify for the final) Anyway, the song is a very well-produced well performed pop/country song. I don’t really understand what the staging is all about. I’ll be honest, I don’t see this winning but it’s good to see Anna Bergendahl getting some love again after the mess that was 2010 for Sweden.”

Roy – 3 – “I was 11 years old when she went to Eurovision in 2010, so I don’t really have a historic connection with her. I feel like a lot of people like this song, because of the fact that she is the only non-qualifier and that she struggled with that for a long time. Like I said, I don’t have this connection, so I don’t really see this as a good song. I looked her up and was shocked to see that she was only 27 years old. I feel like this staging and song make her feel so much older than she is. I wouldn’t mind this playing in the background, but I don’t really find this remarkable. The melody is very simple, the vocals are very simple and the staging isn’t that great either. I will say that I love the way that she pronounces “Burn”, that gives her 1 more point for me. I am sorry to all the Anna Bergendahl fans, but this is just my opinion.”

Sean – 5 – “While I am pleased for Anna that she seems to have redeemed herself for the heinous crime of daring not to qualify for Sweden back in 2010, unfortunately her entry here is nowhere near as special or atmospheric as “This Is My Life”. I love the colour of her voice, it’s memorable at least, and is one entry I had been familiar with before reviewing this final, but it’s unremarkable all the same.”

Total – 23

Nano – Chasing Rivers

James – 7 – “Soulful, and the use of the mini-Nano (allegedly his own son) is clever, minimalist staging. This a well-crafted song, with layers added on at appropriate stages and nothing that doesn’t serve any purpose. After the Eurovision televoters gave the Swedes a warning last year that their staging first slick pop of the past few years may not be as bulletproof as they thought, they may want to change tack with a track-first approach from a singer with an “8 Mile” type story.”

Jordan – 9 – “Now this is one I can really get into. Nano is such a relatable guy and comes across as really humble but strong at the same time. Chasing Rivers is a strong anthemic song and the staging is inspired. Obviously, they can’t do that kind of thing at Eurovision but it’s still an epic spectacle. I think honestly, I might even prefer this to his 2017 entry. I really like this and would not be upset to see this win.”

Roy – 4 – “I absolutely loved “Hold on”. It is still one of my favourite songs that never made it to Eurovision. That song was so incredible because it was drum and bass combined with gospel. This combination totally worked, but this year he completely ditches the part that made “Hold On” so unique, but he kept the gospel. His voice is still incredible, but I feel like this song is very unfinished and a bit too lazy even. I am personally not a big fan of his staging either, I just don’t like it when acts use pre-recorded things in their live performance. Right now it is just an okay song that had loads of potential.”

Sean – 8 – “Not as exciting as “Hold On” but Sweden’s answer to Rag n Bone Man brings the goods again with “Chasing Rivers”. It’s a well-produced and structured soul pop track which sticks in the mind and gives Nano the ability to showcase his vocal chops. I may contradict what I said in my review for “Norrsken” but if Sweden must go down the slick and polished route again this is my pick.”

Total – 28

Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO – Hold You

James – 5 – “This is so incredibly boring and the staging at the chorus looks like toilet roll flapping at them during their supposedly tender moment. Song-wise, it’s stock pop R&B of the sort Zayn Malik or The Chainsmokers truck in. So exactly what you expect former Idol contestants to be saddled with at a national selection. They sing well, but it’s just cold and impersonal, the exact opposite of what you want a romantic duet to be.”

Jordan – 10 – “I’m not gonna beat around the bush here. This is my favourite to win the whole selection. I love this song! Hanna and LIAMOO are both excellent vocalists both in the studio and live. They have fantastic chemistry together and the staging although simple is truly effective. I really enjoy this one and would love to see this represent Sweden in Tel Aviv.”

Roy – 7 – “This song sounds like a basic X-factor duet for the first half of the song. This is taking waaaay too long in my opinion. The song gets interesting when they passionately shout at each other that they don’t want to be let down. If they had found a way to bring a bit more life into the first half of the song like the second half, I could have said winner 100%. Right now, I absolutely love the passion shown in the second part of the song though. A 9 for that part and a 5 for the first part that is quite boring and simple. Since the song is basically 2 halves, let’s take the average and give this a 7.”

Sean – 5 – “Love ballad duets like this one just do not do it for me, sorry. It’s another expertly crafted precision engineering track, but it’s too manufactured and soulless as a result. While it’s a pretty, this shouldn’t be troubling the top of the scoreboard in my opinion.”

Total – 27

Malou Prytz – I Do Me

James – 6 – “How old is this girl? Why are we bringing in kids like Malou and Bishara to do romantic songs? A bonus point for her because she is studying economics in high school, but she is still in high school, singing about guys’ “tricks” and guys’ dumb excuses. A bonus point for being a break-up song where moving on up in the point. It’s fun and up-tempo pop, but again, we’re going into “poupee de cire, poupee de son” territory with a teenage girl singing the lyrics more appropriate for someone more mature. At the very least the creep factor is not there as the writers are four women, but still.”

Jordan – 10 – “This was such a pleasant surprise seeing this for the first time. Malou for such a young performer has so much swag and charisma.  The live staging was very clever (and very Ace Wilder might I add) and Malou’s live vocals are mostly very strong. For someone so young Malou is a star and deserves a good place on the scoreboard. I love this.”

Roy – 6 – “Objectively, this song has a very strong production. The beat sounds very rich and vibrant even though the progression is rather simple. The claps and high hats perfectly fit to Malou’s voice. The combination of the both make for a very pleasant and uplifting song. Now I must agree that Malou still isn’t the most comfortable performer, but her voice works incredible with this. It is kind of used as an extra instrument. Again, the progression of the beat is very basic, but her voice just is just incredible and gives it just the right amount of colour. Should it win? No, it is still just a very nice radio song, but I feel like this song doesn’t get enough credit and I love how this is crafted.”

Sean – 7 – “This has an air of a retro pop Charli XCX number, which I like. There’s a swagger to this song and a sense of fun that is missing from a lot of the songs in this final. It’s not going to win and I can accept that, but this is a nice addition to the selection!”

Total – 29

John Lundvik – Too Late for Love

James – 8 – “We’re getting a few entries this year across Europe with elements of soul, and this is a good one. This is still primarily all about Lundvik as he confidently struts his stuff and is not afraid to take center stage, but the back-up singers popping in leave a big impact. Going with Lundvik would help Sweden ditch the impression they only send style-over-substance acts. Small quibble – Lundvik states in the YouTube bio that “the title says “Too Late for Love”, but what I want to say is: “It’s never too late for love.”” Then why not call the song that, then?”

Jordan – 10 – “And once again… an excellent song in the Melodifestivalen final. I was one of the few people that absolutely loved his song from last year and I absolutely love this one too. John is an excellent live performer and his chemistry with the gospel choir is great. The staging compliments the song beautifully and his live vocals are once again great. I think we have a likely winner on our hands.”

Roy – 8 – “I didn’t care all that much for John’s previous entry. The only good thing about It was him. This year he has a lot more of a wholesome song. It sounds like a good and finished product that has a clear direction. He has amazing charisma and a great stage-presence. I absolutely love his smile and how he interacts with the gospel-choir. I would not mind this winning although it may be a little on the safe side again. This probably means that it will win since this is usually what Sweden goes for. Very happy for John, he would be very deserving to represent Sweden at Eurovision.”

Sean – 6 – “So this is probably the favourite to win, and I’m not too sure why. Yes, it’s a decent gospel pop crossover with some RnB sensibilities, and I’m sure that has some fans, and oh, yes, there’s a key change. But this is nothing extraordinary, and is a bit basic in truth. Sweden would be going backwards by choosing this one.”

Total – 32

Wiktoria – Not with Me

James – 6 – “Oh great, a break up song. I should cut and paste what I said about Lisa Ajax’s “Torn” as I have the same issues here. She’s a great singer but why would I want to listen to a dirgey break-up song at Eurovision? Wiktoria, you ask who’ll sleep on your ex’s side of the bed? Anyone you want! Eurovision’s a big party where you can meet anyone of your choosing. I don’t mean to sound callous, but don’t cry about ex-boyfriends to me at a party. I hope Nadav Guedj has a big enough car for him to show Ajax and Wiktoria around Tel Aviv.”

Jordan – 10 – “So… the producers decide to put the four songs I love the most all together near the end of the show. I really love this offering from Wiktoria. This is a mature emotional song with excellent staging. Her live vocals are pretty much flawless, and she sounds like she means what she is singing. I would not be surprised if this won and would be very happy to see this represent Sweden.”

Roy – 9 – “Yup, I am going with the break-up ballad this year. Finally Wiktoria can show us what an incredible voice she really has. Her previous entries were fine, but vocally not a whole lot more. The staging is absolutely amazing and she delivers it very well. Her expressions and movements go very well with the song and really illustrate how good she is as an artist. This ballad is very memorable and actually rather easy to sing along to as well. I am very much a sing-along-type-person and this song has low-key been stuck in my mind ever since she performed it. Only 1 little side note, I wish she went into the “rain” a little earlier when she starts the final chorus. I think the emotional vocals combined with the rain pouring onto her would make it even more memorable. Right now it is maybe a bit too much of an afterthought. Besides that, amazing song.”

Sean – 5 – “A disappointing third entry from Wiktoria, channelling some 90s RnB ballad vibes from the other side of the Atlantic. The performance is dramatic, sure, and Wiktoria is obviously a very charismatic performer with a lot of stage prescence, but yet again this Melodifestivalen final has a middle of the road entry as one of the front-runners.”

Total – 30

Arvingarna – I Do

James – 9 – “Another blast from the past, this time the guys who did “Eloise” at Eurovision 1993. That was a standout that year, and it was about wooing a lass named Eloise. “I Do” maybe as corny as “Eloise,” but it’s a retro dansband number that works as a sequel to “Eloise” as well. “I Do” is a middle age triumph over relationship complacency, of recalling that first passion (“Eloise!”) and using that memory to recharge their love. Their up-tempo blend of big band and rock worked in 1993, even if was a little dated even then, but hot damn, it actually works in 2019 as well. Fans of “Eloise” will really appreciate touching back to the original and ageing the sentiment with their audience.”

Jordan – 4 – “Well… there is always one jokey entry in the final isn’t there? Personally, I’m not a massive fan of this one unfortunately. It’s just very cheesy and cliché and it doesn’t stand up to masses of great songs it’s up against. I’m predicting a last place finish for this in all honesty.”

Roy – 5 – “I wish I spoke Swedish, this song is so much fun and is a very good show-closer. It is a bit of a nod to the old days, both in its melody and its staging. I do find it a bit unfortunate that it is mainly 1 guy singing and the other 2 acting more like backup vocalists. I also think that the song takes a bit too long and is a bit too repetitive. Towards the ending I am a little done with the song and I wish that they kept it a bit more interesting throughout. Dope that this is in the final, shouldn’t win though.”

Sean – 7 – “Well, this is a happy, jolly way to end the Melfest final! Arvingarna’s song reminds me of the joyful effort from The Moniker way back in 2011 that nearly won the whole thing – could a similar surprise happen this year? It’s not going to win songwriting or composition awards, but maybe it’s about time Sweden showed us something fun, and in Swedish?!”

Total – 25

So what do our combined scores look like as a result? Let’s see…

  1. Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken (Goeksegh) – 33
  2. John Lundvik – Too Late for Love – 32
  3. Wiktoria – Not with Me – 30
  4. Malou Prytz – I Do Me – 29
  5. Nano – Chasing Rivers – 28
  6. Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO – Hold You – 27
  7. Lisa Ajax – Torn – 26
  8. Mohombi – Hello – 26
  9. Arvingarna – I Do – 25
  10. Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes – 23
  11. Lina Hedlund – Victorious – 21
  12. Bishara – On My Own – 21

So it’s tight, but our choice for Sweden would be Jon Henrik Fjällgren with “Norrsken (Goeksegh)”. Will the jojk performer finally get to Eurovision and make it third time lucky? We will find out very soon, so stay tuned for all of the reaction from Melodifestivalen 2019!

Who do #YOU want to represent Sweden in 2019? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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