Here is my much delayed report on this year's Melodifestival, held at Victoriahallen, Stockholm.
First of all, I want to thank Tobias Larsson, for taking the trouble to get me a ticket, and put up with me during the evening. A special 'Hi!' to Tobias's friend Hanna, too - Åh!, Svenska flickor!
Stockholm was cold - very cold!. The harbour was iced over, the pavements slushy, but the Swedes still, as ever, warmly welcomed the Melodifestival!. The tabloids were jammed with reports on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and the Monday! In contrast, the British press ignored the 'Great British Song Contest' totally.
The favourite was 'Den Vilda' by 'One More Time', and, for once, the favourites came through, but more on that later.
The set was rather on the theme of ice, and started with skaters coming on stage.
Then the presenters, Pontus Gårdiner, and Eurovision veteran Siw Malmkvist both came out in the same evening dress! Pontus complained that Siw must have hundreds of dresses, and he'd only got - two! During changing on stage, Pontus told us there were ten songs, we'd hear five twice, one one three times. Then we were off with the songs:
Song number one , 'Gör någon glad' was rather forgettable apart from the large number of guitars on stage. We got to see a cameranman on a trapeze wire moving in the roof, and were pleased we were not sitting under him!
Song two, 'Driver dagg faller regn' was also uptempo, but more memorable.
Lotta Engberg's song, 'Juliette och Jonathan' was very bright, cheery and memorable, as was Lotta herself. The best so far.
'Den Vilda' by 'One more time' was next, a slow beautiful ballad sung by Maria Rådsten and Nanne Grönvall, with Benny Andersson's(ABBA) son, Peter Grönvall at the piano. Very popular in the hall, but I found it a little lacking in any 'hook' to make it memorable.
Of song four, sung by 17 year-old Ellinor Franzen, we expected little - the press hadn't liked it in the previews - but I thought it was a rather catchy uptempo song.
'Gråt inte' was equally catchy, and country singer Inger Nordström proved well capable of changing style.
Elvis impersonator, Henrik Åberg sang song eight with his Elvis voice. Nothing special - very schlager.
'Tårar från himlen' should have been 'Tears from hell' rather than heaven, because long-haired Frank Ådahl singing brought tears to the eyes with his singing.
'Va e du?' was billed as the Swedish 'Love city groove', but was much more melodic, and less rap-like.
'Förlorad igen' was a really good fast uptempo number written, and sung by Mårten Eriksson. Very powerful, and very good, but Mårten's voice was suffering from a cold, and he became hoarse, particularly in the second round.
After a break we were treated to Siw Malmkvist as the interval act. As she sang an Italian song famous from the San Remo song festival, comedy took over. The floor moved up and down, and her fur stole took over the singing briefly, doing battle with Siw for the microphone! Siw had verged on a crazy presentation style all evening - in rehearsal she had tried a see-through blouse which had been banned!
Later, Pontus sang duet with Siw - a song whose lyrics were made from previous Melodifestival songs, and other Swedish schlagers.
In between, the second round winners, songs 2,3,4,8, and 10 were re-presented.
After all this, the voting:
Song Number- 2 3 4 8 10 Final Totals 48 45 71 26 41 Final Place 2 3 1 5 4 Juries: Luleå 6 8 2 4 1 Umeå 4 6 8 1 2 Sundsvall 4 2 8 1 6 Falun 6 4 8 1 2 Örebro 4 1 8 6 2 Karlstad 2 4 8 1 6 Göteborg 4 2 6 1 8 Malmö 2 8 1 4 6 Växjö 6 2 8 4 1 Norrköping 2 4 8 1 6 Stockholm 8 4 6 2 1
'One more time' easily won, and all the Swedes were very pleased. The band performed a tearful reprise, the girls struggling to start properly.
After the show there were two parties - one for the performers, and one for the rest of us, but we managed to talk to Jan Johansen, Cecelia Vennersten, Henrik Åberg, Pontus Gårdinger, Mårten Eriksson, and others.
Finally, Peter Grönvall has made it through Melodifestivalen!
His first band, 'Sound of Music' had its first single, 'One more lonely night' in 1985. The line up was then Peter, Angelique Widengren (who Peter lived with), and Nanne Nordkvist. Their first Melodifestival entry was 'Eldorado' in 1986, which didn't do too well. Their style at the time was uptempo, heavy on the synthesiser, with catchy melodies, but rather repetetive. Very glittery. Their 1987 Melodifestival song, 'Alexandra' also faired poorly, although it became a hit in Sweden.
There followed more singles, but no more Melodifestival entries, and 'Sound of Music' broke up. Eventually, Peter formed the group, 'One More Time' with Nanne Nordkvist, who he now married, Maria Rådsten, and Therese Lof. They put forward two songs in the 1992 Melodifestival, 'Vad som än händer', sung by Maria, and 'Ingenting går som man vill', sung by Therese. Maria came third, but Therese's was unplaced. 'Vad som än händer' appearred in English on One More Time's first CD album, 'Highland', which also has the International 1992 hit (apart from the UK), 'Highland'.
Therese left the group, and another somewhat forgotten album came.
In the 1995 Melodifestival, Nanne, Maria, and Peter wrote the second-placed 'Det Vackraste', sung by Cecelia Vennersten. In the Swedish Grammy awards on February 19th, this song had been awarded as best song of 1995.
The Swedes seem convinced this song will do well, but opinion is divided here in England. It is thought to be a classy song, but without enough 'hooks' or power to do well.
I do hope it will get to Oslo, as Sweden remains one of the most supportive countries of the Song Contest.