Last night saw Melodifestivalen 2019 kick off. The song contest is the national selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 and has been running for 59 years. Semi-Final 1 took place on 2 February 2019 and saw Wiktoria and Mohombi go straight through to the Final.
Taking place at the Scandinavium in Gothenburg, the show was presented by Sarah Dawn Finer, Kodjo Akolor, Marika Carlsson, and Eric Saade. Seven acts competed in front of the Swedish public, two was sent through to the Final, whereas two more were sent to the Second Chance round. A total of 7,158,333 votes were cast with 573,040 kronor being donated to the Radiohälpen charity.
Wiktoria and Mohombi, with their songs “Not With Me” and “Hello” respectively, were voted to go into the Final from the public at home. As for the second chance round, we’ll be seeing Anna Bergendahl and Nano with their songs “Ashes To Ashes” and “Chasing Rivers” respectively.
Melodifestivalen 2019 Semi-Final 1 Finalists
Wiktoria – Not With Me
We’ve followed Wiktoria ever since she first performed on Melodifestivalen 2016 with the song “Save Me”; and, as expected, she completely nailed this performance of her new song “Not With Me”, on the night. Who knew it was possible to make singing in the rain look effortless? Her vocals were on point from start to finish and the rich heartfelt songs gave us chills as she sang about a break-up. This is certainly an anthem and totally deserved to go through.
Mohombi – Hello
With theatrics that showed a brilliant storyline – expanding the narrative of the song; international superstar, Mohombi, brought it to the stage with his song “Hello”. It’s no surprise that it sailed right on through to the final. There was a mirrored screen behind him that displayed a sketch of a woman that he dances with on the screen and on the stage. It’s a very conceptual staging that certainly helped him advance to the final as the song is simple compared to the others in the Semi-Final.
The videos of these two performances will not be released until after Melodifestivalen ends so that all finalists are given a fair chance.
Melodifestivalen 2019 Semi-Final 1 Andra Chansen (Second Chance) Qualifiers
Nano – Chasing Rivers
To open the show is never an easy thing to do, but Nano’s calm and collective persona really won over the Swedish public and he clearly didn’t display any nerves. His voice and performance reminded us of Rag’n’Bone Man. We watched as sang about being confident and succeeding. The song is powerful but the delivery was missing something; regardless, it had a reinforced staging that saw Nano’s real-life child acting as young Nano, giving us a heartwarming narrative. We hope he puts his all in the Second Chance performance.
Anna Bergendahl – Ashes To Ashes
She’s back, the 2010 Melfest winner who is best known for being the only Swedish Eurovision representative to not make it to the Grand Final, has decided to give it another shot and fully redeem herself. “Ashes To Ashes” is a folk-pop song about being strong and going for what you want. There’s a lot of imagery in the song which is reflected into the staging creating an ethereal concept whilst Anna Bergendahl impresses with her rich vocals.
Melodifestivalen Semi-Final 1 Eliminated Acts
Fifth Place: Zeana feat. Anis don Demina – Mina bränder
Scoring a total of 980,354 votes, it wasn’t enough to be in the top four and missed out. This deserved so much more as it brought the party to the stage. Lighting up with fire, Zeana really shined as a phoenix in this stage concept as she sang “Mina bränder” which means “My Fires” in English. It had a brillant hook and chorus, one of which anyone can sing along to even if you don’t know or understand Swedish and Anis don Demina broke up the song perfectly with his vocals. Probably one of the best Swedish-language songs we’ve seen on the Melfest stage for some time – we’re disappointed this didn’t make Andra Chansen (Second Chance), at least.
Sixth Place: High15 – No Drama
Scoring a total of 814,839 votes, High15 were giving us raw, early Little Mix vibes – they were certainly bringing the girl power to the Melodifestivalen stage. They were fierce, confident, and alluring with their on-point vocals and awesome stage delivery. It was a colourful explosion with very party-life lyrics which was, possibly, the reason it didn’t fare well as they weren’t able to flood the song with emotion. There was no meaning behind it. With a better song, High15 may have done well. This girl group is definitely an act we’ll be keeping our eyes on, as we’re sure they’ll be going places soon.
Seventh Place: Arja Saijonmaa – Mina fyra årstider
We’re not at all surprised by this one, the Swedish public sent in a total of 507,727 votes, which made Arja Saijonmaa come last – it has to be someone. We feel that they got it right, however, it was an endearing folk number (which means “My Four Seasons” in English) from this Swedish legend and at 74 years old, Arja Saijonmaa proved herself with her amazing angelic voice and sweet song.
These weren’t the only musical numbers we got during the first Semi-Final, the four hosts took to the stage, where they opened the show with an Olly Murs song “Dance With Me Tonight” in Swedish, with the lyrics completely changed. They sang about giving us everything we want – and they sure were. We would so listen to this song on repeat, it reminds us of the last time Sweden hosted and the hosts, Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw, gave us unforgettable interval acts.
Then, they introduced Netta to the stage with the winning song “Toy”, but it wasn’t really Netta, it was Sarah Dawn Finer dressed up as Netta, transforming the song into a mashup of all the Israel winning songs with additional help from her co-hosts, Kodjo Akolor, Marika Carlsson, and Eric Saade. This was simply amazing, and another song we would listen to on repeat. Combining Netta’s “Toy” with Dana International’s “Diva”, Gali Atari & Milk and Honey’s “Hallelujah”, and Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta’s “A-Ba-Ni-Bi”. Totally iconic, absolutely brilliant, and completely unforgettable.
What a brilliant Semi-Final 1 and we certainly cannot wait for the next one. Melodifestivalen is truly one of the best national selection shows for Eurovision, and is a staple in Swedish music history.
The second Semi-Final will take place on 9 February 2019, at the Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden. We will watch Andreas Johnson, Malou Prytz, Oscar Enestad, Jan Malmsjö, Vlad Reiser, Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO, and Margaret battle it out. We can’t wait to watch.
Semi-Final 1 is available to catch up on the SVT official website until Monday night.