In a couple of days we’ll know the winner of MF2018. It’s been a very mixed edition, to say the least. But who will end on top come Saturday? Let’s try and find out together in this (p)review!
Worst edition ever. What happened to MF? I’m not watching anymore. Etcetera. You’ll undoubtedly have read, and even thought, those exact words the past couple of weeks. And let’s face it, a vintage year it wasn’t. By a long shot. Having followed MF since 2004, even I have had a particular hard time sitting through the semis. Those were more formatted than ever to appeal to a specific (read: non-European) audience, and it has been a long five weeks. But that’s all behind us, and we surprisingly end up with a rather acceptable final. So let’s not dwindle on the past, but focus on the very near future and take a look at the final participants. Who’s got what it takes to really go all the way?
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1. Mendez – Everyday
The Song: It was only to be expected that this NF season would be sprinkled with Despacito tributes (as in copy, not Hunger Games participants). Not an unexpected entry for an artist like Mendez, but this mix of Latin vibes and Svensk Schlager is a bit of an odd smoothie which doesn’t exactly give us lalalalalife.
Standout lyrics: “Sing this simple melody” – and isn’t it Ironic, don’t you think?
The Voice: Charismatic as señor Mendez may be, a singer he sure ain’t. Those verses are on the verge of painful. Long live the (prerecorded…) backings in the chorus.
The Performance: Much like the song, it is an odd mix of Latin hotness and Svenk Schlager glitter – which makes it all feel like a bit of a dud. It’ll be good enough to get the party started in the Friends Arena, but it doesn’t make you feel hot hot hot.
In one line: Just a bit more jalapeño, por favor.
Why it could win: The other participants have mysteriously developed some kind of food poisoning.
Why it won’t win: The other participants show up.
2. Renaida – All The Feels
The Song: First things first. What is up with all those “choruses” without lyrics these days? It’s annoying as fuck to have no delivery after the build-up in the verses. No, two lines in a twenty second chorus do not count. That being said, this song is OK enough to wanna shake ya booty to.
Standout lyrics: “I want another rush” – we all know the feeling.
The Voice: Speaking of lyrics. It’s hard to follow them when they’re hardly audible. Much as Renaida tries, the verses are really a stretch too far/low for her and it’s got all sorts of consequences. Luckily she makes up for it in the bits where she gets to demonstrate the power of her voice. However rare those bits may be.
The Performance: Full of (girl) power, so nothing to complain about. It helps that orange is my favorite color, I guess. Side note: preferred the outfit in the semi, the blue one in Andra Chansen strayed a bit too much into Barbara Dex territory.
3. Martin Almgren – A Bitter Lullaby
The Song: Nice enough, for a middle of the road country-esque song that could have represented Malta a couple of years ago. Though noble and heartwarming as the lyrics may be, a lullaby this ain’t. Certainly not a bitter one.
Standout lyrics: “This is a song for all the broken, you gotta believe we’ll win someday” – Erm, we did already, in Copenhagen in 2014.
The Voice: Nice enough, as it matches the style and vibe of the song. Not too sure about the higher notes, where he sounds a bit forced. But that could be personal taste of course.
The Performance: Nice enough, even though it could benefit from giving it a bit more of a country feel. I suppose having him on stage alone suits the lyrics a bit more. You know, having a ginger and not-thet-skinny guy represent all the broken he sings about. *raises eyebrow slightly*
In one line: Ginger Not-So-Spice
Why it could win: People feel he’s singing about them – cause everybody’s broken in one way or another, right?
Why it won’t win: There are other entries in this final that are more suited to be either an obvious front runner or a surprise compromise winner (such as the one that follows it).
4. John Lundvik – My Turn
The Song: Those first few notes are rather convincing, but then it goes all too gospel and Sanna-Nielsen-Ballad. It’s sweet enough, but never surprising or intriguing. There’s undoubtedly an audience for this kind of song, afraid I’m simply not part of that target group.
Standout lyrics: “So tell me baby, tell me that I’m ready to fly” – If you’re convinced that it’s your turn, why would you need someone else’s validation?
The Voice: Nothing short of amazing. One of the best singers to grace the MF stage in recent years – and to be fair, that is saying something.
The Performance: Fits the song and ticks all the expected boxes. Recipe: Sit at piano, stand up when music gets flowing, wear white, play with the light, smile in the right places. Pour some hot water et voilà: surprise contender accomplished.
In one line: A dubious case of either wishful thinking or clairvoyance.
Why it could win: It does all it needs to to pick up votes all over the place.
Why it won’t win: It’s got ‘been there, done that’ written all over it.
5. Jessica Andersson – Party Voice
The Song: Well produced with an edgy vibe, but still one of those ‘typical’ schlageresque songs that were so abundant in yesteryear’s editions. So of course I welcome it with open arms. Not only does it give us fans something to hold on to in this edition, it gives me a new opportunity to strut up and down my living room to this fantastic beat. Pity the lyrics don’t really follow suit. It all starts well with an empowering vibe, but it all too quickly lands into party territory. Yawn.
Standout lyrics: “Gonna dance like a mother******” – Nobody sees the ****** when you sing it, so it doesn’t make any sense at all.
The Voice: With a title like ‘Party Voice’, you’d better be on your best behavior or it turns sour before you can say ‘ironic’. So here’s hoping the vocals will be a tad better in the final than they were in the semi. Jessica’s or the backing’s, I’ll leave that open for discussion.
The Performance: The four goddesses in pink did absolutely nothing to underline the dynamic of the song. Pity. It felt under rehearsed almost, the way they didn’t give it their all. This song needs a new act if it gets chosen for Lisbon. I would suggest a truckload of strutting, but that’s just me. Nothing wrong to say about Jessica though: she’s got confidence in abundance and that’s what saved it.
In one line: This is the, this is the…*cracking sound*… Voice.
Why it could win: One of the few to represent Girl Power, and MF-glory as we know it.
Why it won’t win: The days of Charlotte Perelli are already ten years behind us.
6. Liamoo – Last Breath
The Song: Probably one of the catchiest choruses in this final, so kudos for that. The composition in its entirety is something you either love or don’t care about, with its rap(like) verses. Not my cup of tea, however well crafted it all may be.
Standout lyrics: “Would you give away your last breath to save me now” – Asking someone if they would save you with their last breath after confessing you’re a bit of an asshole makes you…a bit of an asshole…
The Voice: Borderline shaky throughout, more so in the verses than the chorus but there’s always a whiff of nerves surrounding them. If he can control things a bit more in the final it’ll do his entry a world of good.
The Performance: The understated performance of the semi works well for this song. Nothing overly exaggerated or crafted, just playing with lights and keeping the focus on him. Nicely done.
In one line: Coming back to Liamoo’s key question: no.
Why it could win: Kinda like John Ludvik, it might be the one to pick up enough votes to be that surprise compromise.
Why it won’t win: Perhaps a bit too One Direction for its own good.
7. Samir & Viktor – Shuffla
The Song: Your typical party song. Obviously (and sadly), the Moldovan entry from 2017 has left its marks. Not that these ‘bad’ boys needed an example, this attempt fits perfectly in their track record. It’s nice enough to get the crowd going in the Friends Arena. Too bad it’s annoying beyond all reason.
Standout lyrics: “Nu är vi back igen det var allt för längesen” (We’re back, it’s been too long) – No it hasn’t.
The Voice: Not as important as their boyish charm, and it shows. Just how much of that chorus are they singing themselves, I wonder?
The Performance: Fits the song nicely, even though those few choreographed steps (again: hello Moldova 2017) seem about as much as they can handle. The Spain 2016 moment is totally unnecessary.
In one line: I’ll keep dancing on my own.
Why it could win: It’s happy-go-lucky, and might convince people who are ready to party.
Why it won’t win: Does Sweden really want to be represented in this way in Lisbon?
8. Mariette – For You
The Song: Even though it’s got a different composer than her other entries, this really sounds like a super-Mariette song. It’s got a bit more of a super-laidback vibe, which fits her demeanor a bit better. It doesn’t really have a super-hook though, which makes it a bit harder to remember. Which is kinda super-important in a competition, but hey.
Standout lyrics: “I feel your love coming at me like a train on a track” – Sounds like a negative, still she’d do ‘anything for you’. Is she, like, super-aware of that?
The Voice: Overall competent, but as always she flirts here and there with going off-key. especially in the lower register, and then again in the higher notes. Which makes the overall experience a bit bewildering.
The Performance: The balancing board on top of a pyramid is a nice idea, but nothing’s really being done with it. As a statement it’s nice, but what purpose does it serve? Also: that running move. Fits well the first time. Didn’t need to be repeated however. I really want to like this performance, but something’s off. Can’t put my finger on it. It’s as if parts of it work, but the sum of all things simply does not stick.
In one line: Not that super, which is super-sad.
Why it could win: Sweden’s feeling generous and compassionate, and wants her third attempt to be the lucky one.
Why it won’t win: It lacks that je-ne-sais-quoi, however hard it may try.
9. Felix Sandman – Every Single Day
The Song: As a sucker for songs about heartbreak, this is straight up my alley. Everything about this ticks a lot of boxes: touching lyrics, a melancholic vibe and a very effective production with sparse yet touching instrumentation. It falls into the ‘Someone Like You’ category, which is not the worst of references I’d say.
Standout lyrics: “What’s a heart supposed to do with a hole the size of you” – A very to-the-point question.
The Voice: Very well sung, especially given the fact that he’s singing this almost acapella for a good part of the song. At that age in that venue: kudos, mr. Sandman. Now bring me a dream.
The Performance: That understated performance fits the song to a T. Don’t know if the vintage shaped mic adds anything, but a bit of frivolity in this gloomy setting is permitted.
In one line: About time another Andra Chansen song takes the win, eller hur?
Why it could win: It’s got it all, except for that Direkt Til Final glow around it.
Why it won’t win: It’s a bit too gloomy for the sparkle that is MF?
10. Margaret – In My Cabana
The Song: At first hearing it’s your average summer hit, but ever since the semi it’s crept its way into my head EVERY SINGLE DAY. Oh boy oh boy, indeed. It’s catchy as all hell indeed, clumsy as it may be in some parts. Oe na na. (Somebody please help me.)
Standout lyrics: “Let’s go ape in my cabana” – Qué?
The Voice: Adequate enough, for what it needs to be. There’s a certain street cred in the way she pronounces certain parts, which helps a lot. Oh boy oh boy. (No seriously, help.)
The Performance: Kinda loving the tracksuits and giant shoes she’s been wearing in both performances – hashtag throwback to the glory days of the Spice Girls. The extra street cred they’re trying to give the entire thing by pouring a hiphop sauce all over it strangely works. Oh boy oh boy. (#fml)
In one line: Oh boy oh boy. (Please call 911.)
Why it could win: Sweden gets hypnotized just like me.
Why it won’t win: It’s a nice first to have a non-Swede qualify for the final, but expecting anything more seems too good to be true.
11. Benjamin Ingrosso – Dance You Off
The Song: A nice slice of funky pop that wouldn’t be out of place on a Justin Timberlake album. That is indeed a compliment.
Standout lyrics: “Cause I just wanna feel the mood girl with anyone but you” – a delicious verbal middle finger.
The Voice: Awesome. It’s a bit of a riddle which of the melodies he’s handling himself, but he’s handling them splendidly – he clearly proves his capabilities in the verses anyway. Special mention for combining singing and moving like that.
The Performance: Nothing short of brilliant. Loving the light effects and the feeling that it’s almost a video rather than a live performance. I understand why they opt for a wide shot after being two thirds into the song, but it kinda diminishes the overall effect for me. But it’s a minor criticism on an almost flawless performance.
In one line: Just a moonwalk away from eternal glory.
Why it could win: Cause it’s got it all, even all it takes to walk with it in Lisbon (especially in the current field…)
Why it won’t win: It’s a bit too slick to convince everyone.
12. Rolandz – Fuldans
The Song: As a piece of music it offers nothing new or surprising. I’d even dare say it sounds, in a particular way, very Swedish. That can work for or against it. Thanks to its high tongue-in-cheek level this provides for three minutes of sheer entertainment.
Standout lyrics: “Allting sitter snett ändå blir det rätt” (It’s all a bit off but still it feels right) – You said it yourself, mister.
The Voice: Not the most important factor in this equation. Luckily, cause he’s not really the best singer of the bunch is he?
The Performance: From the school of Verka, and it works wonders. The humor here is very well crafted, and it makes the song all the more bearable. Some people *coughs* Edward Blom *coughs* might learn a thing or two here. Now shake that money maker, mister R.
In one line: Funny boy.
Why it could win: It brings a smile to your face. If you understand Swedish.
Why it won’t win: It’s too Swedish. No really Sweden, don’t send this to Lisbon unless you crave another non-qualification.
So, on to the Big Question: who will take the crown (sorry, blame my obsession with RuPaul’s Drag Race)? The frontrunner seems Benjamin Ingrosso. His challengers would be Felix Sandman, John Lundvik and Liamoo. Too male, you say? Well, if gender plays any part and girl power is at hand it might be up to Mariette to defend the female colors. Curious to see who it will be. Bring on the ‘Då kör vi’!
Who do you think’ll win? And who is your favorite? Vote below!