This Saturday night, Sweden's biggest annual TV show, Melodifestivalen, returns to our screens. These screens are SVT1 if you are in Sweden andgameif you are outside of Sweden, at 20:00 CET.
It is one of the four editions of Melodifestivalen 2023 and the first seven of the 28 songs will be played for the first time. After a public vote, two will advance directly to the final and two will qualify for the semifinals of the competition, one last chance to earn a ticket to the final.
But what about the songs? And the artists?
Well, on Tuesday morning, we got sneak peeks at each of the seven songs and jotted down our initial thoughts on them below. Also, you can learn a little more about the seven artists who compete this week not to go blind in the show on Saturday night. It is good to distinguish your tones from your toves and your evas from your ewas. Ever.
Melodifestivalen Heat One: February 4, Gothenburg
Sekelius tone - rhythm of my show
(Anderz Wrethov, Dino Medannhodzic, Jimmy "Joker" Thörnfeldt, Tone Sekelius)
As the star of Melodifestivalen 2022, it's great news that Tone is back in 2023 and has such a strong songwriting team behind him. Expectations will be high, that's the bar she's set for herself, but we have a slight suspicion that she's trying to raise the bar even higher with “Rhythm Of My Show” and, indeed, it's a show.
Rhythm Of My Show is a quick turnaround from their 2022 My Way entry. While this song lets the melodies shine like the star of the music, this year's song lets the song do the talking, with a bit of sass behind its tone. We have a dancehall verse, a euphoric pop bridge and a deep danceable chorus. Anderz Wrethov's production was scored to allow for some hot choreography at various points that we really hope to achieve. Leaving the tune relatively in the background this time means that everything else in the evening will take center stage. But it has all the makings for a terrific show to kick off the first week.
Loulou LaMotte - Don't Worry
(Jonas Thander, Loulou LaMotte)
It would eventually happen: the only question was which of The Mamas would be the first to return to Melodifestivalen and compete as a solo artist. That honor goes to Loulou, who recently released some of her own songs in Swedish to little fanfare but moderate success. Loulou is one of the few contestants to win Melodifestivalen and perform on stage at the Eurovision Song Contest. Interestingly though, these were in two different years. We just go through moments like that.
"Inga Sorger" is this week's big surprise. In a lineup of artists like this, few people will have seen LouLou as the music of the heat, despite her earlier form with The Mamas. But with this song, she's pieced together a melodically *beautiful* string-laden track that evokes fond, distant memories of Petra Marklund's seminal debut single, "Händerna Mot Himlen." It's faster than anyone expected, to the point where we can even see this chorus taking off on the dance floor. Best of all: that transition from the central eight to the final chorus and the vocal improvisations that she sings. This deserves to be huge as it is a great deal.
Rejhan – Verfolgt
(Albin Johnsén, Mattias Andréasson, Pontus Söderman, Tilde RONIA Wrigsell)
A graduate of Sweden's Got Talent, Rejhan previously made it to the final of that show in 2021 and is now, no doubt, set to do the same at Melodifestivalen in 2023. "Haunted" will also serve as his debut single.
Compete with a soulful and timeless ballad that is sonically beyond its years. That sounds positive until you listen to the lyrics and realize they also go well beyond an artist's younger years. Your voice does this seamlessly. But this performance might need some convincing to connect the music with the audience.
Elov y Beny – Raggen Gar
(Johan Werner, Kristian Wejshag, Mattias Elovsson, Oscar Kilenius, Tim Larsson)
Quite a coup for SVT to bring these two guys on the show in 2023. Last November, before all the Christmas carols dominated the Spotify dailies, Elov & Beny had two top 20 hits. Melodifestivalen could see the crowd not grow, but these two will be bringing new eyes and ears to the competition this first week of February.
On "Raggen Går", Elov & Beny pull it all together: a catchy whistling riff, a sing-along chorus that's doable no matter how much booze you've had, and a beat that seems relentless in its mission to get you up and up. make you break down, move, almost as if daring you to deny it. The charm of your staging will play a big role in how people respond to that same challenge. It's not that hard to ignore, but it may not take many tricks up your sleeve to get us on board.
Victor Crone - Diamonds
(David Lindgren Zacharias, Peter Kvint, Victor Crone)
By now he is a dear old friend of Melodifestivalen and the Eurovision Song Contest and it is a pleasure to start the 2023 calendar with a familiar face. And let's be real: When it comes to music competitions, whether as a singer or songwriter, he hasn't let us down yet. He comes with a quality guarantee.
"Diamonds" doesn't tarnish its reputation for delivering The Hits. There's a radio hit in the works. Much like his previous releases, which might upset some of his critics. But really, this chorus offers something a little different, taking a step or two beyond pure pop and pushing the boundaries of outright success. If Linda Bengtzing had started with this song, we would all say that it is her biggest comeback to Melodifestivalen since her glory days. And we would all be right. Victor, if you're reading this, that's actually high praise. enjoy it. We will certainly enjoy this on Saturday night.
Eva Rydberg and Ewa Roos - Live Long
(Emil Vaker, Henric Pierroff, Kalle Rydberg)
Her song "Rena Rama Ding Dong", intended to appeal to the senior population at Melodifestivalen 2021, has become a favorite with families and children, captivating international audiences with the depth of her charm. Is it a surprise to see them again so soon considering how perfectly they did their job last time and how you surpass actual perfection? But obviously they had so much fun in 2021 that they want more. And who doesn't ride with them?
On "Länge Leve Livet", our two women are back with something that is a bit more musically accomplished than its predecessor. They incorporated a flapper dance soundtrack to create something akin to a granny-friendly "Shuffla," making them the Samir and Viktor of this generation of Melfest viewers, believe it or not. And you don't become musically proficient anymore, do you? ... Thank God we have a fundamental change. And we're also very excited, if a little wary, for the complete collapse of the griffin in the middle. There is plenty of room for them in this production to produce more of The Show that so wowed Sweden last time.
Jon Henrik Fjällgren, Arc North con Adam Woods – Where You Are (Sávejan)
(Arc North, Calle Hellberg, Jon Henrik Fjällgren, Joy Deb, Oliver Belvelin, Richard Lästh, Tobias Lundgren, William Segerdahl)
In fact, given how often he's competed over the second half of the last decade, it's a little surprising that it's taken Jon Henrik Fjällgren this long to return since he last competed in 2019. The fact that he's back now implies who thinks he has something special up his sleeve. And the fact that he's back as part of a collaboration implies that he's got something different this time too.
On “Where You Are (Sávežan)” we were given a commercial house track with exactly the kind of voice over verse that normally accompanies this genre. And then our very own Jon-Henrik steps into the chorus to do exactly what has been synonymous with him: perform a great joik for us. When we looked at this song on paper, considering the artists involved, we had an idea of what it was going to sound like. The end result is honestly on the less exciting end of that spectrum. And hopefully they've planned a tremendously spectacular performance to make all that effort pay off and generate enough interest for people to vote for it.