It’s the penultimate week of Sweden’s behemoth selection Melodifestivalen, and #YOU know what that means. That’s right, Andra Chansen duels! So what did our team think of the songs in the second chance round of the contest, and who would we pick between us to go through to next weekend’s final?

Let’s see how Boris, James, Melanie and Sean rated tonight’s entries…


DUEL 1

Alvaro Estrella – Baila Baila

Boris – 2 – Ugh, *this* sort of latin pop went out of fashion decades ago, if you are going to inflict one of my least favourite musical genres upon me, at least *attempt* to be current, could you do that please, mhm yes? Sadly muting doesn’t help, because the staging looks like someone vomited highlighter fluid all over the place.

James – 6 – The Swedish pop hosing off of Alvaro’s Chilean roots makes this a hybrid dance song that no-one wants. Unfortunately, Alvaro is in a weird position as his strength is as a Latin crooner. Problem is, he’s in Eurovision and not a competition that is geographically welcoming to Latin America for obvious reasons. The concessions he has to make to appeal to a Scandinavian audience neuters him. His best hope is to abandon the Scandipop concessions and fully channel his Chilean roots. Or concede his bed is made and being laid in Sweden, because this current straddling of the two continents is not working too well.

Melanie – 4 – Nope, Alvaro isn’t convincing me at all with “Baila Baila”. It just sounds like a generic, basic pop song that tries too hard to be elating. And don’t let me start about the lyrics. Still, he’s a charismatic performer, so he gets points for that.

Sean – 6 – Alvaro bringing the latin vibes once again to our cold winter nights, and this is a fun, colourful performance. It’s a little throwaway though with some cheap lyrics and some unfortunate vocals in places. Fun enough to have at Euroclub and for a quick lift but not one for Eurovision for me.

Total = 18 (avg. 4.5)

Lillasyster – Pretender

Boris – 2 – A Frankenstein’s monster of a song, in that it attempts to evoke too many conflicting vibes and genres in what isn’t really a song, but rather an ‘academic construction’ of various rock genres gone horrendously wrong. I’m not wasting my wit on that. It sucks.

James – 3 – Mediocre butt rock from the mid-00s. And that’s butt rock in the sense you expect it to be a song that features regularly on one of those Midwest American radio stations that ID themselves as “96.7 FM Abilene, Nothing BUT Rock!” And from a genre that brings us Godsmack, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch, what do we get here? A break-up song. For a song so full of Chad energy, it is disappointing to hear them whine about a girl who did them wrong. Boo hoo. The meathead aesthetics don’t marry well at all with the emo lyrics. Don’t come at us with your Monster Energy Drink vibe when you’re shilling content that makes Morrissey look hard as nails.

Melanie – 7 – Really a big surprise for me. The song starts like a very accessible rock song that even would do well with the general viewers. Then the guitar and the growling are coming in and it’s catching you a little bit off guard but in a good way. Pleasant surprise in this year’s Melfest line-up and wouldn’t mind for Sweden to send some good rock to Eurovision.

Sean – 10 – Would love it if Sweden sent this! I won’t hold my breath though of course. There is immense power in this performance as Martin Westerstrand growls and snarls his way through this emotive rock song. The flames and static effects are a little cliché, yes, but there’s no denying for me that this is a brilliantly catchy and different song for Melfest. Fingers crossed they make it through to the final, and then we’ll pray from there!

Total = 22 (avg. 5.5)

WINNER = Lillasyster


DUEL 2

Frida Green – The Silence

Boris – 2.5 – Frida must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. Malta is located on the *other* side of Europe.

James – 5 – I get a quirky Netta-esque performer stuck with a crap X Factor winner ballad vibe here. Frida is a great singer, but the song is so paint-by-numbers it is painful seeing her contort herself to fit the mold. I wonder who Frida is, who her true self is, what music truly resonates with her and what magic she and a great songwriter could create. And in the future, I’d like her to come back with a song that is true to her. And I bet that song would be a force to be reckoned with. This song is a dud, but we have not heard the last of Frida, and I for one look forward to hearing what she can offer when she realizes her true potential.

Melanie – 6 – Frida definitely has one of the best voices in this competition. Nevertheless, her song left me cold. It’s a decent song, but misses the emotions to really grab me and make me really love it. Frida also needs to work on her stage presence. I’ve got the feeling she isn’t ready yet to perform on the Eurovision stage. Give her some years to develop herself as an artist and please come back at Melodifestivalen with a big ballad. For now, I don’t see this winning.

Sean – 3 – Yawn. Sorry to be blunt and I have no problem with Frida’s performance or vocals, but this is a turgid sleeping pill of a song with tired lyric after tired lyric, and nothing I haven’t had to sit through a million times before in Eurovision selections across the continent. Come back with a more interesting song, please, Frida!

Total = 16.5 (avg. 4.13)

Paul Rey – The Missing Piece

Boris – 4 – Gods, ‘The Missing Piece’ is *wretched*. That *would* be the end of the write-up, if it weren’t for the fact that Paul can’t bloody help himself and attempts the world’s poorest excuse of a ‘dance’ DURING the apotheosis of his salvaduncanesque ballad and I’m left with no choice but to laugh at the experience. Never change Paul, and I mean it, because if you get rid of that tiny moment of levity, I’ll ask Sean to retroactively change your score to a big round zero.

James – 4 – This is the most appropriate song title I have ever come across at a national selection. There’s no doubting Rey’s talent, but for the past decade we have been waiting for Rey to step up from the promise he showed at prior Melodifestivalens and from being mentored by the likes of Quincy Jones. I don’t want to write him off as not having the charisma for being an A-list star, but there is something holding him back from joining that elite club. It’s not too late – some stars such as Steve Miller and Jeff Lynne took decades to become fully forged icons. But yes, “The Missing Piece” annoys me because I know Rey can do better, pick a better song, and show Sweden who’s boss.

Melanie – 6.5 – Well, there’s some development here if you compare it with his entry last year. However, he still isn’t there yet as an artist. Like, his dancing during the performance didn’t really fit well in my opinion and I still think that the staging is the best thing of the whole show. The song is a great radio-friendly song, but quite forgettable. Paul just needs some more years to develop himself as an artist. One day he will be ready for the Eurovision stage, but not this year.

Sean – 5.5 – The visual effects in this performance are laughable, but this is an inventive staging aside from this. It needs it, as this is an insipid attempt at a country-fied ballad with streaks of the worst sides of Coldplay running through it. Paul Rey had a more intriguing effort last time out, so I’m a little disappointed with this one.

Total = 20 (avg. 5)

WINNER = Paul Rey


DUEL 3

Eva Rydberg & Ewa Roos – Rena rama ding dong

Boris – 10 – Bloody hell. Two grannies in their 70s show up with what is honestly a ramshackle, frantic, vaudevillian cabaret act straight out of 1987, and despite being DEAD LAST in the odds they qualify for Andra Chansen in presumably third place, clowning Patrik Jean and Julia Alfrida (two acts I actively disliked) in the process! AND THEY MAY ACTUALLY QUALIFY FOR THE FINALE TOO??? (or lose to No Effort Clara, which is actually lowkey hilarious as well.) 10/10 narrative, and that comes independently from “Rena rama ding dong” being one of the funniest things to ever grace a Melfest stage. The ‘retirement home hokey-pokey’ vibe of it all <3 Everything erupts in a geyser of mirth and gaiety that quenches even the most ardent fires of Hatrið. Excuse me while I give this full marks to counter the HUMOURLESS SOWS that will try to rate this unicorn for its ‘objective musical value’.

James – 10 – This song just rules. We can umm and ahh all day about the “serious” artists SVT wants us to listen to and what the “hip” kids say we should listen to, but this schlager number by two (very) experienced cabaret performers ticks off the main box that has been missing from Melodifestivalen these past few years: FUN. They have steamrolled performers in this selection 50 years their junior, and should they make Eurovision, they will easily overturn the televote problem that Sweden has had these past few years. That they do it so effortlessly, casually flicking off the concerns of their superficially youthful detractors, adds to the charm of this entry.

Melanie – 8 – This is really one of the sweetest performances I ever saw at Melodifestivalen. I just wish I could be like them if I will be in my seventies. Full of energy and still taking risks. Who ever thought this would be such a hit in this year’s competition when they were announced? The performance and song just immediately put on a smile on your face. Those two ladies are just natural performers and the song is just stuck in my head. This just has to go to the final!

Sean – 7.5 – You’d have to have a heart of stone to watch this and not raise a smile! “Rena rama ding dong” is never going to sweep any press awards but hell, it’s incredibly catchy fun with a very strong retro-Eurovision feel which is nostalgic in 2021. Eva and Ewa are very charismatic and their stage experience shines through ahead of many other acts this year. Come on Sverige, let’s have some Swedish fun in 2021!

Total = 35.5 (avg. 8.88)

Clara Klingenström – Behöver inte dig idag

Boris – 8 – Or ‘No Effort Clara’, as I like to call her as it describes the precise amount of effort she needed to win people over!! I like the song, it’s some really engaging indie pop that would normally be ignored in Sweden but somehow found traction. Good on you, Clara! To be fair, it is the anti-staging that turns me a bit off. Like, come on guys, just give her *SOMETHING*?  However, that is also the clear intent, I am lowkey rooting FOR Clara to reach the finale despite Christer’s perceivable-even-in-pitch-black-darkness efforts to sabotage(-jean bapiste) her out of the competition.

James – 5 – Rydberg and Roos may be retro, but so is this mid-90s Lilith Fair-esque alternative folk rocker about a break-up. To be honest, I think this is a minor victory for variety at Melodifestivalen that this made Andra Chansen. But other than that, the best I can say is that this song is okay. The chorus is catchy in a way, but the song feels incomplete. The staging also let her down, so if she wants to continue, they’re going to have to fix her standing there (not) playing her guitar.

Melanie – 7.5 – This performance was really a breath of fresh air in a sea full of scandipop bangers. It stood out due to the simplicity of the song and its performance. Clara shows us that you don’t need an overproduced beat or a groundbreaking staging. Just Clara and her guitar can steal the whole show. Love the song and I’m sad this is in a battle with my other favourite act of Andra Chansen.

Sean – 8.5 – I love the effortless simplicity of this song. It feels like the first sun rays of spring and Clara’s performance is charming and captivating in some ways. Now, I won’t kid myself into thinking that the Melfest audience would even entertain the thought of sending a song in Swedish, never mind one with such a guitar-heavy backing, but I am pleasantly surprised this has made it this far and would LOVE it to be a surprise package in the final next weekend.

Total = 29 (avg. 7.25)

WINNER = Eva Rydberg & Ewa Roos


DUEL 4

Klara Hammarström – Beat of Broken Hearts

Boris – 5.5 – A terrifyingly generic popballad saved ONLY by Klara being forced to wear what looks like a giant embossed microwave oven for an outfit. To be honest, Klara trying her best despite the nothing act she’s been given (a leitmotiv along the Klarae of this year, it seems) is somewhat endearing to me and it will be a sad day when she’s unfairly and inevitably slain by the worst act in this Melfest.

James – 2 – Terrible costume and a terrible song. This is canned Melodifestivalen pop to the point of cynicism. Apart from Klara’s terrible costume, there is nothing unique here. There are canned synthesized backing vocals, the lyrics are frankly stupid (wouldn’t a broken heart have no beat whatsoever?), the key change so dialled in it might as well have been done by Alexander Graham Bell.

Melanie – 6.5 – Girl, don’t tell me that it was comfortable to perform in THAT suit. It looks amazing, but it distracts me a lot from the song and your performance. Nevertheless, Klara is serving us a great Scandi power pop song. The chorus is kinda catchy, but still misses something to really stand-out. Maybe if we give Klara a choreography instead of a uncomfortable suit this song still can be elevated?

Sean – 3 – Okay, explain the performance to me please? Why the metallic body suit? Why the pointless Måns-lite interaction with the video screens? I feel like it’s to distract from the fact there isn’t really a song here. It’s a Swedified X Factor single, nothing more. Klara had an absolute banger of a song last time out which was unfairly canned, I’m disappointed if this is what she has resorted to to get through to the second stage of the contest…

Total = 17 (avg. 4.25)

Efraim Leo – Best of Me

Boris – 1.5 – Efraim Leo is not a good singer, not a good dancer, not a good performer and his song is dire. Andra Chansen over Tess Merkel, really? LIKELY THIRD PLACE over radiant indie seraph Clara Klingenström, really? Not even COVID can excuse the appalling lack of taste demonstrated by the Swedish voting public.

James – 3 – If Robin Bengtsson was from Huddersfield, this would be his entry. I don’t want to be purely mean, but Efraim does have charisma of a sort but is lumbered with a canned Melodifestivalen pop number. Every lame pop song cliché is in here, and this is the sort of pop nonsense that gives Melodifestivalen its reputation for churning out generic, lazy Scandipop performed by a pretty boy.

Melanie – 6 – Efraim is cute. The song is cute. The performance is cute. I just want to pinch him in his cheek. There’s a lot of potential in this guy, but he needs his time to bloom a little bit more. He doesn’t look very confident on the stage yet. Nevertheless, a great first attempt from Efraim and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.

Sean – 6 – Efraim Leo here, a.k.a. Robin Bengtsson lab experiment gone wrong (even the first words of the song are “I can’t go on”). Looking past this though, this is a solid if uninspiring teen-pop track with all the hallmarks of a relatively successful pop hit. The performance and vocals need work but I’m putting that down a little to nerves. A little more power in the verses and I’d up the points a little, but this isn’t the worst song by any means.

Total = 16.5 (avg. 4.13)

WINNER = Klara Hammarström


What do #YOU think of our reviews of this year’s Andra Chansen, and do #YOU agree with our winners? Let us know your thoughts in the comments selection below or join the discussion on our forum HERE and on social media!

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