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How Would You Improve Sweden’s Melodifestivalen? Written by on March 12, 2023 | 1 Comment

Ratings for this year’s Melodifestivalen are on a backwards trajectory from years prior. Can we fix it? Ben Robertson asks those covering Sweden’s huge national final this year for one tip they would give SVT to bring Melodifestivalen back to its glory days. 

The Songs In February

Paul Rey (competing with the song ‘Royals’)

Release the songs after each heat

What I absolutely love about Melodifestivalen is that they embrace people for being different, to stick out is something that is good here. Melodifestivalen is such a welcoming atmosphere with so much positivity and creativity.

They already did this change with the semis, just the best four go through out of the eight. The duels are super dramatic and I get it for creating drama but I thought it was a little bit unfair. But you know they changed that.

You know what, the previous years I was in Melodifestivalen I went through in the semi, and the song was released the same day as I was in the heat. I feel that’s a really good thing. Because the songs can grow and you gain listeners and fans by going on playlists and the radio and instead I missed out on that. As soon as you have performed your song, I wish your song could come out straight away.

Míceál O’Kane (Eurovision Hub)

Release the finalist songs after the semi final

For me, I think the finalists songs should be released as well on the Saturday after the semi final. This would allow all the other songs to gain momentum and get the radio play and create more hype and buzz going into the final. The finalists getting released the same day as the heat 4 songs doesn’t feel like it matches how we consume music any more, and gives them a boost compared to others. It could also be a good incentive too for artists who go direct to the final, they have their own “release week” etc.

Ben Robertson (ESC Insight)

Release the songs at midnight on the day of each heat

After heat 2 I couldn’t escape videos of Maria Sur’s performance across Elon Musk’s platform. But how? There is meant to be a strict embargo on direct to the final songs until after heat 4.

That rule has been in place since I’ve been following the six-show circus and the logic is that it should stop the winners from earlier heats getting an unfair advantage. But in the days of screen recording and social media this simply doesn’t work and these songs no longer remain hidden from view. I was bored of ‘Never Give Up’ before it hit streaming services.

Instead, people play these songs without streaming them and actually contribute their $0.003 to the artists and songwriters involved.

So let’s change the drip-feed hype machine of each Melodfestivalen week. Keep the songs secret throughout the build up, leaking the one-minute audio clips and 30 seconds from the stage like we do today (although maybe not at 07:00 CET) but change the Saturday.

At the stroke of midnight when Saturday begins, then you release the songs. Let all of these songs go out into the wild the day of their heat performance and watch the speculation storyline take a new dimension as fans panic about which song hit 10,000 streams first and the songs hit heavy radio rotation on a whirlwind day where the artists perform their song in shopping centres around the city.

Win or lose on the evening’s show, this method would surely guarantee seven out of the top ten on the Spotify daily charts would be from that week’s heat. All of the acts will in some way be winners, and Melfest will go back to being a hit machine once more.

Oh, and if a song goes massively viral and pulls off a landslide victory in the final? That’s no bad thing for the contest. Just ask Alessandra Mele and team Norway.

The Voting System

Tobbe Ek (Aftonbladet)

A limit to your number of votes

I really believe it is time for a complete overhaul of Melodifestivalen, redo the whole competition, and throw everything up in the air. Should it be 10 weeks, 4 songs competing each time? Or a Benidorm style Melfest week with two semis and a grand final the same week? Perhaps go full Sanremo with a live orchestra, duets with other celebrity artists, and different juries selecting different winners each night? I don’t know.

But since I don’t see that happening anytime soon I have one single thing that I would like to change. It’s the app votes. I would scrap the ability to vote 10 times for each song, I would scrap the age groups and I would force the audience to choose a proper favorite, instead of spreading their votes so thin that the winner most likely is the lowest common denominator rather than the song that parts of the audience love above all other, but that might also have people who really detest it.

So let’s do this instead. Each and every one can have 10 votes in their app. They can then choose to give all 10 votes to one artist, or spread them out as thinly as they like to all the participants. But when the 10 votes are gone. They are gone. And for this, the voting needs to start after all songs have been performed. There we go, that’s how I would like to change Melfest in the short run.

Marcus Björkander, Schlagervännerna

The Golden Heart vote

Let each voter use the app as today, awarding up to five hearts (votes) to each song with no other restrictions, just the same as it works now. But when a voter has given the maximum number of hearts to a song they are given the option to award an additional “Golden Heart” to the song. This Golden Heart counts for as much as for instance 5, 7 or 10 regular votes. The exact value can be discussed, but choosing the number 7 would make the sum of the 5 regular votes plus the value of the Golden Heart sum up to the classical number 12, so this would be my personal preference. The important limitation is though that each voter can only award at most one Golden Heart per competition. If the voter tries to award a second Golden Heart they are prompted to make a choice between the song currently having the Golden Heart and the song they are trying to give it to. Until the voting window closes, the voter can change their mind as many times as they want.

Introducing the Golden Heart will not decrease the number of cast votes but rather increase it. It will hopefully also add to the joyfulness of the app rather than remove it. The introduction of the Golden Heart will, given the current situation, help Melodifestivalen produce an even more competitive Swedish Eurovision representative.

What Stands Out More

Nordman (competing with the song “Släpp Alla Sorger”)

A greater focus for the songs and the songwriters

Well this is the greatest tv show for music we believe, it is a big and fantastic show that can connect people and gather the Swedish people.

Maybe we could give some more background for the songwriters and lift the songwriters up more. They present us as artists very well but the songwriters are anonymous. They could have more attention actually.

They did it really well because it’s not the easiest thing to fit our style and our melodic language. They are like surrogate parents.

They can present them together with us, how we created the song. The songwriters can’t tell how they found us. Often the songwriters are often the artists, but the collaboration is interesting for the audience.

Joy Deb (songwriter for four of the songs in the Melodifestivalen final)

A More Diverse Bunch of Staging Creators

That’s a hard question. When we get to the finals it is pretty much the best songs that go through and most of the time it is far. The show is what it is, and they do change lots of stuff each year.

It would be cool to bring, like Loreen did now, this great stage performance, and Marcus and Martinus also have this great stage performance. Like in the days when we did with Måns (2015) and Eric Saade (2021) we took external people to create the staging and now they [SVT] do so much by themselves now. I’m not saying it’s always like that, but it could be cool to have more variety.

Richard Taylor, Eurovision Ireland

The Melodifestivalen Hall Of Fame And Younger Viewers

Melodifestivalen is a huge family television event in Sweden. While it is a family event, there is nothing now to appeal to those in their late teens or twenties.

Several years ago, Interval Acts used to feature big name Acts (not necessarily Internationally renowned), but attractive to those in their late teens or twenties. To name an example would be Zara Larsson, who was an Interval Act in the Final of Melodifestivalen 2017.

Come along to Andra Chansen in 2020, the Melodifestivalen Hall of Fame was introduced – celebrating Artists, Writers, Presenters etc to have taken part in the Contest. Since then, the Interval Acts have been used in their majority to induct more personalities into the Hall of Fame – making it more of a heritage feature. This heritage feature does not attract the late teens or those in their twenties and here lays the problem.

Return the Hall of Fame to what is now known as the Semi Final and bring in some personalities to perform elsewhere to attract back the discussed age group.

Lukas Gornitzka (ESC Panelen)

How to get a more diverse song list

The biggest gripe among not only Swedish viewers but also among fans abroad, is that it’s usually the same songwriters behind the entries.

If we take a moment to consider how the show used to work in the past, it was viewed as a contest among different composers. Naturally this has changed with time, with the songs and artists being front-and-centre. But the problem here is that by accepting the same songwriting teams for most songs, year in year out, is that the show rests more and more on its old laurels. The result is that the show struggles even more to keep itself relevant in a much more musically diverse world outside of the bubble. Which in itself presents another issue: the musical diversity in the show, or rather lack thereof. Usually the songs that make it in the show are written in the same songwriting camps (often closely related to the same record labels which in turn are strictly going for standard pop).

A possible solution in order to bring in more musical diversity is to bring in more songwriting camps that represent more genres that more accurately represents the Swedish scene. For example a camp for the rock/metal scene, one camp for the hip hop scene, and so forth.

What do you think Melodifestivalen needs to evaluate this off-season to improve for the next season? And do you agree or disagree with the suggestions by the commentators above? Add your comments and suggestions below. 

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

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One response to “How Would You Improve Sweden’s Melodifestivalen?”

  1. Chris says:

    Not alone in saying each deltävling on it’s own seemed weak; painfully obvious which songs where headed to the semi/final. The middle spots frequently lost all momentum. From a pool of 2,824 submissions I’m not sure how some of them made the cut.

    Half-time material was up and down over the weeks – some segments were great; others not so much. The mello-battle was actually far more entertaining than Saucedo’s spot in the final.

    Not a good year for Melfest. The lineup wasn’t bad by the end but the deltävlingar were frequently underwhelming.

    The final nail was the lousy audio on the English commentary feed. SVT Play needs to sort out what’s causing the audio to skip every other minute. The Swedish language broadcast was unaffected. I can forgive tillfällig avbrott screens, stage invasions (that actually made things more exciting!) but for the audio to be glitching on a music programme, c’mon!

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