Review: “Melodifestivalen 2021” – Grand Final (Sweden)

On Saturday’s night, Sweden will select the act (artists+song) for Eurovision 2021.
After 4 semi-finals and a second-chance round, 12 artists remained in the race.
The results will be determined by 50% public voting and 50% international jury voting.
8 countries will be included in the jury panel this year:
Israel, Switzerland, Iceland, Albania, Cyprus, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (that replaces Belarus).
Each country will give 58 points to 10 different songs (1-8, 10, 12 points). This means that 464 points will be given by the jury and 464 other points will be given by the public.

In this post, I’ll review the 12 competing songs

  1. Danny Saucedo – Dandi dansa

It’s a dance-pop song. The song starts with an instrumental section that is based on string instruments. The first verse is characterized by fast singing. The chorus is catchy and the melody is similar to the one presented at the beginning of the song. It isn’t a coincidence that the chorus lyrics consist of words with a simple sound like “dan” and “dum” – it helps to create the desired memorability even though the song is in the Swedish language. The first half of the chorus is being performed with a higher voice, while the second is being performed in a slightly low voice accompanied by an electronic beat and drums.
The structure of the song is cyclic. While the chorus seems to be constant, the things that change are the staging elements.
The performance includes quite a small but impactful staging: a lot of boxed, a conveyor and dancers. The floor is lightened with various colors that sync with the dancing.
It’s a catchy pop song that can immediately stick to your mind. In my opinion, staging and performance in general are the main components while the song is good but not excellent.

2. Klara Hammarström – Beat of Broken Hearts

It’s a midtempo pop ballad. Klara presents us with a teenage-dreamy pop song that seems to me American in its style. The song starts with a simple melody that is accompanied by a gentle beat, guitar playing and drums playing. At the beginning, Klara sings with a soft and fragile voice.
Pre-chorus is just like stairs that prepare us to lift up to a higher floor: the chorus is opened with drums playing. She sings while backing vocalists support her in what can be heard as an “echo” effect. The verse that comes after the verse is more emotional and powerful.
She sings the last part of the song with a higher voice. Thereafter, we have a kind of acapella singing part just before the modulation. we can see that the modulation part is harder to perform, but Klara does it pretty well.
The staging is just amazing: starting with the special outfit Klara wears, the lighting artwork, the way that led effect fits to Klara’s moves. Klara knows how to tell a story convincingly and the final result is just heartwarming.

3. Anton Ewald – New Religion

It’s a R&B – pop song. The song opens with a solo of drums playing that is typical to the beginning of the 2000’s music. The first part of the song is acoustic and it’s dominated by Anton‘s singing. However, the chorus is very different, more powerful and memorable.
Anton sings with a higher voice that sometimes pushes the limit between impression and singing inaccurately. The verses that come after the chorus are rhythmic and have mainstream character.
There is a wide use of backing vocals towards the end of the song, but it can totally be understood regarding the fact Anton‘s dancing.
The dancers create a festive atmosphere which elevates the vibe that the song tries to bring.
The general style of the song reminds me of The Weekend, especially the chorus.
My main criticism here will be about Anton’n singing. I find it unsatisfying and sometimes below my expectations.

4. The Mamas – In the Middle

It’s a gospel- soul song. It opens with a basic keyboard playing and pre-recorded backing vocals.
Ashley Haynes was the first one to sing accompanied only by the keyboards playing. Thereafter, we can hear Dinah Yonas Mann singing alongside a simple beat. The chorus is being performed by the 3 of them. Unsurprisingly, the combination of the 3 ladies sounds great, the harmonies are just on point. The third verse is being performed by Louise “Loulou” Lamotte. Her voice has a special color and that part is more rhythmic comparing the previous verses. The chorus contains drums playing, but the main element is of course the voices of the Mamas. The peak of the song arrives when they are singing powerfully and standing in circle.
Although “Move” was a good song, I found “In the middle” to be a better one. There is something more convincing in it, they didn’t put too much effort in and still the final result is more exciting.

5. Paul Rey – The Missing Piece

It’s an acoustic ballad. The melody namely relies on guitar playing and stringing.
The staging is pretty dark while Paul stands on an orange platform.
The first part of the song (including the first chorus itself) is quite quiet and basic.
The song changes in its second part, where it becomes rhythmic with percussion instruments and electonic keyboards. Before the chorus and after it, we can hear backing vocals.
In the last part of the song, Paul sings louder with a light raspiness, the stage is lightened with flashing lights.
I found a contrast between the simple message of the song and the hand movements by Paul.
The song is just too basic for me and I find it hard to remember.

6. Charlotte Perrelli – Still Young

It’s a Schlager pop song. The song opens with a festive instrumental section that is composed of wind instruments and keyboards. The first verse has foundations of country-pop music.
Charlotte sings with mannerism (and it isn’t a surprise when it comes from a diva).
I found her voice a little bit shaky at the beginning. However, the chorus is powerful and catchy.
The verses after the first chorus are more impactful but I still see them as way weaker than the chorus. After the second chorus, there is a key change and even a change in the melody.
Towards the end, Charlotte is being supported by backing vocalists.
My main criticism here is the lyrics. In my opinion, the lyrics contain too many cliches. Sometimes, it looks like the words of the songs were created in an artificial intelligence tool. As a Schlager pop song, we could have heard it even 30 years ago. As for staging, I don’t like the idea of catwalk concept that resembles a fashion show (although I can see the connection between it and the message of the song). In specific parts, it seems to me as a direct continuation of “Invincible” by Carola (Sweden Eurovision 2006)

7.Tusse – Voices

It’s a power ballad. The song starts with an instrumental part that consists of bagpipes playing (Denmark 2013 anyone?). The first verse is permomed with a special pronunciation of the words, the singer tends to extend the words at the end of each line. Electronic beat combined with the sound of eletric guitar leading to the sound of that part. The chorus is powerful and contains backing vocals as well. However, the chorus ends with too many repeats of the phrase “Million Voices“.
The third verse is very similar to the first one.
Towards the end, Tusse isn’t alone on the stage and he sings “Can you hear them?” while the backing vocalists sing the chorus itself. The last half minute of the song starts with modelation.
I think that there isn’t a perfect match between Tusse and the song. No doubt Tusse is a good singer (you can check out his “Swedish Idol” performances). There’s nothing bad about the song at all, but I would like to see a singer with a powerful and thicker voice performing it. I think the whole issue here may depend on taking the right breaths.

8. Alvaro Estrella – Baila Baila

It’s a Latin pop song. Another year of “Melodifestivalen” and another Latin oriented song is in the running. The whole story begins again, the song fails to qualify for the final in the direct way but it qualifies via the “second chance round”. The song starts with guitar stringing and backing vocals.
The verse is built on a Latin – Caribbean rhythm. Towards the end, it even included the Greek work “Yasu.”
Unfortunately. I found the vocal performance disappointing. However, my main problem here is that we’ve heard so many songs like this one in the past (not only in “Melodifestivalen“).
If honesty is the keyword (and it always is!) then I must confess I don’t see any reason Sweden will send a song from this genre to Eurovision.

9. Clara Klingenström – Behöver inte dig idag. (Eng: Don’t need you anymore)

It’s a rock pop song in Swedish language. The first verse melody relies on guitar playing. Clara sings in a low voice and you can definitely feel that she tells a story. The tension is well built until the chorus arrives. Then, she sings powerfully while the melody changes – becoming faster and more dominant.
The second chorus is already more rhyhmic. We can recognize a little bit of anger in her singing which I see as a positive thing. The chorus arrives again and Clara’s voice is just beautiful and overcomes the melody. She sings in a higher voice until playing guitar solo. Thereafter, she chooses to sing in a gentle, soft and higher voice which is being used in order to present us fragillity combined with power and self-confidence. Clara doesn’t need any fancy staging or dancers. She proves to us that sometimes basic is beautiful and simple is enough. The fact that the song is in Swedish, it’s an advantage for me: I can definitely feel her pain and her strengths even though there is the language barrier. In a sea of pop songs, the song is just a pearl. Well Done!

10. Eric Saade – Every Minute

It’s an elecro pop song. The song starts with a short instrumental section. Thereafter, Eric starts singing. Unfortunately, I found Eric’s singing this time problematic. Sometimes he isn’t accurate.
The chorus is catchy, but the pre-recorded part is annoying. Something in the whole package seems forced and unnatural. I wonder why we get more dancing than live singing in the chorus.
In the middle, there is an instrumental break with oriental influences.
The melody itself is namely based on computer processed production.
The staging is very dark, while Eric’s outfit is white. The staging is simple and therefore can be remembered well. It would be a sin saying the song isn’t original, but a worst sin will be sending it to Eurovision.

11. Dotter – Little Tot

It’s mid-tempo pop ballad. Dotter didn’t miss a single second: From the beginning, she shows us what she has got with an impressive voice. In fact, the song starts with a phrase from the chorus.
The first verse melody includes a single cyclic beat. The pre-chorus is powerful and even includes some backing vocals. The chorus itself includes the first half where Dotter’s voice is in the center.
The second half of the chorus consists of the beat from the beginning but now it’s louder.
The part of “You don’t, you don’t” is catchy and completes the chorus in a very interesting way.
Towards the end, she is singing in a softer way, almost whispering and I really like it.
The performance of course includes dancers and lighting, but it’s totally moving in the background when Dotter is here.

12.Arvingarna – Tänker inte alls gå hem (Eng: Do not intend to go home at all)

It’s a Schlager pop song, being performed in Swedish. The song opens with a short instrumental part which is composed of keyboards playing. In the first verse, their singing can almost be described as talking. The end of the verse was too dramatic for me. I like the chemistry between the band members. However, at some point the performance looks like it was taken from school for acting.
The chorus of chorus is just from the book, according to the traditional Swedish Schlager genre.
I respect the genre and the reason why it should be included in the Swedish festival “Melodifestivalen”. However, I think the song may be more attractive for the Swedish listeners and not for Europe.

My Ranking

  1. Clara Klingenström – Behöver inte dig idag.
  2. Dotter – Little Tot
  3. The Mamas – In the Middle
  4. Danny Saucedo – Dandi dansa
  5. Anton Ewald – New Religion
  6. Klara Hammarström – Beat of Broken Hearts
  7. Tusse – Voices
  8. Charlotte Perrelli – Still Young
  9. Paul Rey – The Missing Piece
  10. Alvaro Estrella – Baila Baila
  11. Eric Saade – Every Minute
  12. Arvingarna – Tänker inte alls gå hem

My Prediction

As of the moment, I see 4 potential winners:
Eric Saade, Dotter, The Mamas, Tusse
In my opinion, the jury vote will be an interesting part of the evening.

Doron Lahav is 30-year-old, who lives in Israel. Doron has been watching the Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and shows interest in singing and writing.

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