Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest article in our “What If” series. Today, thanks to a suggestion from Euro Dummies’ Kylie Wilson, I’ll be exploring what could have been different had eventual Swedish representative Robin Stjernberg not managed to qualify from the Andra Chansen round of Melodifestivalen 2013. Granted, he would then not have won the ticket to Malmö, but what would have been the knock-on effects of this?
So, when Robin Stjernberg won the final of Melodifestivalen in March this year, he not only won the right to represent the home country in Malmö, he made history at the same time. Since its inception in 1959, “You” is the only song to win Melodifestivalen having previously been relegated to Andra Chansen. (any readers who are unfamiliar with the format of Melodifestivalen will probably not immediately see the significance of this, but never fear… the aforementioned Euro Dummies has a comprehensive guide on the Swedish National Final which should fill in any gaps in your knowledge!)
Put simply, the Andra Chansen (Second Chance) round – introduced along with the semifinals in 2002 – is a duel system, by which two songs which finished 3rd or 4th in their respective semifinals are eventually chosen to fill the last two remaining spots in the grand final. More often than not, these songs do just that: fill in the two last slots. They have rarely been seen as genuine challengers for the title, as they have already been proved to be slightly lacking in popularity when compared to the other eight direct qualifiers. However, the semifinal stage is based purely on televotes, whereas the final incorporates the votes of international juries, which tend to offer a glimmer of hope to the Andra Chansen entries.
In Robin’s case, he finished in a distant third place in semi four of MF 2013, earning him a ticket to the second chance round, where he opened the show with “You” –
There were multiple rounds of voting involved in Andra Chansen, and eventually, although Robin did emerge as one of the two qualifiers, he finished in second place out of the two, receiving around 8000 votes fewer than Anton Ewald and only 3000 more than nearest non-qualifier Martin Rolinski. He scraped into the final, quite literally by the skin of his teeth, number 10 out of 10, the theoretical outsider in the contest.
And then this happened…
Yes, he went and won the whole thing didn’t he! And, aside from having the singular most adorable reaction out of any national final winner I think I’ve ever seen, Robin really had defied all the odds to beat out favourites like YOHIO and Ulrik Munther to claim the right to sing for Sweden in Malmö.
Now, what really saved him was the international juries. The Swedish public were clearly behind manga-wannabe YOHIO to take the title, awarding him the greatest share of the televotes. However, by that point – as shown in the clip above – even that wasn’t enough. The international juries were not as impressed, awarding YOHIO only 30 points, in comparison to the 91 they collectively gave Robin. In actual fact, “Heartbreak Hotel” finished a lowly 9th place in the jury rankings, pretty much decimating any real chances the song had of beating Robin.
But it could all have been a different story, had Robin not managed to pass through Andra Chansen. Yes, the obvious assumption would be that YOHIO would have sung for them in Malmö, but I’m putting my neck on the line and saying it wouldn’t have happened. Assuming that Martin Rolinski would have taken Robin’s place, we have a whole other variable to consider. Would the running order have stayed the same, with Martin simply replacing Robin at #9? Or would SVT have given the second-to-last spot to someone like Ulrik Munther or Sean Banan? Things like that we will never know. But what we can just about work out, is which entries would have benefitted from Robin’s absence…
Example: the Icelandic jury awarded Robin 12. So, if Robin hadn’t been there, all the other entries would *in theory* have received the next score up than they originally got (Anton 12, Ulrik 10, Ralf 8 etc.) This excludes Martin Rolinski from the equation, as his entry was never tested on the international juries, so we have no precedent to its success.
Examining the results in this way suggests that the following entries may have benefitted most:
State Of Drama – Falling (would have received +14 points without Robin)
David Lindgren – Skyline (+11)
Ulrik Munther – Tell The World I’m Here (+10)
Anton Ewald – Begging (+9)
Louise Hoffsten – Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream (+8)
YOHIO – Heartbreak Hotel (+8)
This is in no way trying to say that without Robin, State Of Drama would have gone to Malmö, and there is no way of looking into how the pubic votes would have been distributed if “You” had been knocked out earlier. However, this does suggest that YOHIO wouldn’t have had the clear-cut victory that was assumed.
The Swedes loved him, but the juries most certainly didn’t. Had Robin not been there, would they have all collectively got behind one of the other entries, in order to prevent a YOHIO victory? I’d say it’s very likely they would have, although selecting which one is more difficult. However, if I had to choose, I’d say that Ulrik Munther would have ended up as the Swedish representative, judging by the already strong 126-point showing, and the potential improvements highlighted above. Of course, I have no way to prove this, and whatever else may have qualified through Andra Chansen could have been equally capable of a Robin-esque shock win.
That’s just me, of course. What do you guys think?
Richard West-Soley from the United Kingdom: Then it might have been Martin Rolinski in Malmö… The juries seemed determined to stuff up Yohio’s chances, so perhaps Martin would have been the one they sent (or possibly Ulrik)
Steinar Mogen from Norway: I have an idea that people would not ‘get’ Yohio. We might know of visual kei style in Japan. But for others it would be another ‘androgyn’ act. Adding fuel to stereotypes . people seemed – for some reason – to focus more on his image than the song. Never a good thing. And neither his style nor his song impressed me anyway. You was much better.
Hans Leenders from the Netherlands: Difficult. To be honest I think Sweden did not have a very strong year in 2013.. I did not hear real winners during Melodifestivalen..
Linen Mikaelsson from Sweden: I don’t like Robins voice & You is such a boring song. I still wish Martin would’ve gone through andra chansen instead of him because he were A LOT better. I don’t like Yohio’s approach on being a singer but he’s got a great voice & “Heartbreak Hotel” is an awesome song so I would’ve preferred him.
Today’s what if is definitely one of our most subjective to date. None of us can go back in time and find out what would have happened, and there are so many plausible outcomes that reaching any kind of conclusion is a bit of a challenge! However, Robin’s historic victory in Melodifestivalen will be remembered – regardless of his eventual ESC result – as one hell of a dogged effort, and a hard-fought success for a singer who deserves a lot more recognition than he gets. If he’d never been in that final… well all I’d say is Shame on Sweden!