NF Review: Sweden finally chooses Sanna!

The 2014 edition of Melodifestivalen – undoubtedly THE biggest Eurovision national selection event of the calendar – came to a conclusion a few hours ago, and after seeing off competition from no less than thirty-one other songs, perennial participant Sanna Nielsen triumphed with her synthy scandi-ballad “Undo”. I’m sure there will be a plethora of opinions to be spouted on this one, so do feel free to read what we think, and then add your voice to the discussion!

Sanna Nielsen will fly the Swedish flag in Copenhagen!
Sanna Nielsen will fly the Swedish flag in Copenhagen!

In the last four weeks, I think I’ve heard nearly every single one of the ten songs in tonight’s final described as a possible winner from different corners of the Eurovision world. Honestly. Going into tonight, I had my personal favourites, but I genuinely had no idea who would eventually walk away with the Swedish ticket to Copenhagen. In the end, it was Sanna Nielsen – a lady who, as I’m sure you’ll know, participated for the SEVENTH time in 2014 – who eventually emerged victorious, winning with a margin of just two points over Melodifestivalen newcomer Ace Wilder. She will, therefore, sing for Sweden in May, with the song “Undo”:

The song:

So, what do we have here, from the country which has a consistent high standard of entries, and just two years ago brought us Eurovision’s biggest success story in recent times?

Well. As I see it, we have ourselves yet another well-constructed, credible piece of music, which will not only become a fan favourite and a well-tipped entry at ESC, but has the potential to transcend the boundaries of the contest and reach international acclaim. I’m pretty sure it won’t, but the important thing here is that it has that potential. Just because “Undo” is a ballad, it doesn’t make it any less modern and chart-friendly than “Busy Doin’ Nothin'” – look at the success of artists like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, who release Swedish-written ballads on pretty much every single album they produce. This kind of thing, if released by an international star, would be a hit.

It has a strong production, a memorable melody (Timoteij correlation aside) and it’s performed with such power and emotion that it becomes one of those records which is even better live than in the studio. And key change. Much key change. Sanna has been honing her craft in a professional environment for more than fifteen years, and I think she’s one of those artists where it takes a really good song to show just how amazing her voice really is… I personally never ‘got’ “Empty Room”, and although “I’m In Love” was lovely, it was rather dated. Now she goes to Eurovision at the top of her game, with a killer song to match. She looks confident, she sounds brilliant, and she knows exactly how to sell that song to her audience. Copenhagen will be the zenith of what has been an impressive career so far, and I’m sure she’s ready to attack it with everything she’s got.

A brief comment on the ten songs tonight as a cohort – it’s easy to see that Sweden is in some way responsible for 75% of the major worldwide hits of the twenty-first century… as a nation, their professional songwriting output is exquisite. Yes, it can be rather formulaic and predictable at times, but it’s also incredibly catchy, incredibly exportable and above all incredibly enjoyable to listen to. Tonight’s Melodifestivalen final serves to prove that “Swedish music” does not necessarily equal “schläger”. Swedish music can also equate to a powerballad like “Survivor”, a psychotically energetic explosion like “Busy Doin’ Nothin'”, a rock anthem like “To The End”, a really beautiful unassuming number like “Songbird” or a summery Afropop creation like “Efter Solsken”. Expand this field to the overall 32 competing songs from MelFest this year, and this diversity becomes only stronger.

Sweden, the home of modern music, we salute you.

The show:

Confession time. Tonight was the first time in my life I ever watched Melodifestivalen. Ever. I mean, I’ve been a Eurovision fan for seven years… and I managed to avoid it for that long?! Wow. Is that an achievement or a crime?

The problem I’ve always had with it as an institution is how contrived it is; how false and inorganic and clinical it feels, and the fact that you know every single person involved in that show is just a puppet on Björkman’s string. The international juries licking his arse during tonight’s voting only served to substantiate that reading of the contest.. I mean, come on, at Eurovision, do we get randomers from all over Europe making a point of thanking Jon Ola Sand for organising the whole thing? No. No we don’t. If there’s one person whose ego doesn’t need any further inflating, it’s Christer Björkman.

You came 22nd at Eurovision, sir. Second last. Odious little man.

Him aside, however… I have to admit that tonight has won me over; I’m an official MelFest convert.

It wasn’t instantaneous, though. I did get around an hour through it just thinking “my god, this is pretentious”. The focus didn’t seem to be on the competing songs at all – I mean, what was with whole catwalk thing which introduced each artist, where they strutted out to a completely unrelated song?! Fabulous as it was to see Sanna WERKING “Only Girl (In The World)”, it was a far cry from other national finals where it was less about the overblown television production, more about the actual songs in the running to go to Eurovision. I’m still not sure what to make of it. Aside from that, we had a load of pointless skits involving the presenters – language barrier or not, these two had all the charisma of a damp piece of cardboard, and they provided an excellent excuse to go check on Slovenia whenever their irrelevant little faces appeared on the screen.

On top of that…

  • Charlotte Perrelli’s forehead appears to have tripled in size since Belgrade. Ouch.
  • Malena Ernman still looks like a bloke in a dress.
  • Alcazar. Lyrics. Weak.
  • Linus Svenning, the terrifying bastard, I could have sworn was in actual fact Ross Kemp, with a few extra tattoos and a piece of metal shoved through his nose.
  • devil child
    Why was she there!? Just why?

    We met this rather evil looking child. Judging by her facial expression, I expect she’d been forced to listen to YOHIO on repeat for a few weeks prior to the final.

  • The ABBA tribute which constituted the interval act really did have me on the edge of my seat. At the back of my mind, I suddenly clicked that it was the 40th anniversary of “Waterloo” this year… if a reunion was going to happen… where better than where it all began: Melodifestivalen. Alas, it wasn’t to be. But we did get to see Robin Stjernberg again. Who still looks adorable.
  • Helena Paparizou not only looked fantastic, and epitomised the word “majestic”, she performed the shit out of that song, and finally – FINALLY – won me over as to its auditory merit. It took me nearly two months, so in that respect I’m not surprised it didn’t win. “Survivor” is a grower, but boy, when it’s finally got hold of you: wow.
  • Just having to watch YOHIO got me a bit angry. The foul loathsome evil little cockroach. Thank you Hermione Granger, for giving voice to the words we were all thinking.
  • Linnéa Deb – one of Ace Wilder’s songwriters – is absolutely fabulous. I mean, did you SEE that dancing? Hellooo.
  • On a similar subject actually, I really like the fact SVT introduced each act with a shot of the song’s composers as well as the actual artist themselves. It’s nice to properly acknowledge the creative team behind each piece of music, and it’s something more broadcasters should consider doing, in my view.
  • The graphics, the stage and the overall house style is undeniably impressive with Melodifestivalen. This reflects how much of a national institution the contest has become: it’s way more than a Eurovision selection event, it’s a whole other world in its own right.
  • The thing that really won me over was the voting. Seriously, the tension and excitement created by that televote reveal is second to none! Especially considering it was such a close-run contest and such an open playing field, it was a whirlwind experience. 

At Eurovision:

It’s Sweden, so I think that we can safely say Sanna has one foot in the final already, despite being up against a fair few big hitters from the east. In my estimation, the songs in semi one have so far been of a generally lower standard than semi two, so this will likely work in her favour. Of course, the thing with “Undo” is that to date, it’s our only PROPER belter of a ballad – if we discount Spain’s “Dancing in the Rain”, which is already guaranteed a spot in the final. Something like this, up against Estonia’s electronic dance, or Iceland’s.. noise, will really stand out a mile. Sanna didn’t need any help increasing her chances of qualification, but the circumstances are only serving to make it look even more likely.

We can’t count our chickens before they’re hatched however; I’m sure Sweden hasn’t forgotten the unfortunate legend of Ms. Bergendahl, which, remember, is still only four years ago. It would take one hell of a ballsed-up performance to send “Undo” the same was as “This Is My Life”, and as noted above, I doubt there is a more capable pair of hands than Sanna Nielsen’s. This is her time, and I think she will take the contest by storm. She’s waited long enough.

Oh, and just so you know, I’ve been listening to THIS in the background whilst writing this review, and have been finding it rather too funny, all things considered. If Sanna sang like this in Copenhagen, I would love her forever and eternity.

Your views:

Did Hungary make the right choice?
Did Sweden make the right choice?

Janne Mämmi from Finland: Too much alike Rihanna’s Diamonds ( and like thousand others). Alcazar would have discoed the whole Europe 

Ryan Tuckwell from the United Kingdom:  I love Sanna and she looked great but it’s a shame she won with her weakest entry. And it’s got THE most dreadful lyrics which are beyond annoying!

Daniel Cobbett from the United Kingdom: Undo is a great entry!!! AFAIAK, we are coming back til Sverige in 2015!!!

Colin McKnight from the United Kingdom: The voting structure is genius, especially when the vote is as close as it was tonight. I would’ve been happy with either Sanna or Ace going through but I do have a soft spot for Sanna.

The general feeling seems to be that people either love Sanna or feel she would have been better off with a different song. However, there’s always an explosion of opinion in the hours after a song’s selection, and it’s only in the coming weeks where we’ll find out a more accurate idea of how “Undo” has been received… is it really as amazing as some people say, or is all this praise simply because it’s Sanna? Or because it’s Sweden? Who knows.

Feel free to let us know below: what do you think of the song and the show?

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7 thoughts on “NF Review: Sweden finally chooses Sanna!”

  1. When Sanna reaches top 5, maybe even in the runs to win, everybody will think its her best song ever. I still remember many peoples initial reaction to Yohannas win in the Icelandic preselection in 2009, saying it was a dull and boring song. For me it sounded like an international winner. Today most people think “Is It True” is the best ballad ever and even should’ve won instead of “Fairytale”. I am one of those very few who actually think “Undo” is Sanna’s best song ever in the competition as all her other songs have been extremely dated or silly. “Undo” is actually Fredrik Kempes best song in the competition ever as well – so congrats to both of them:) I think it might win. Unless some other country come up with some better song I think it actually WILL WIN as it is by far the best of the lot speaking of Eurovision-wise.

    1. Thank you for your comment Stian!

      That’s an extremely good point – so many fans have been quick to criticise Sanna and her song simply because they preferred a different one in the Melodifestivalen final, but I’m sure that some of those same people will eventually rave about “Undo” during and after the contest this year. Happens all the time, doesn’t it 😦

      I personally agree with you about the song, I think it’s brilliant (as you can probably tell from what I wrote in the review!) Definitely the best thing she’s sung in MF to date! As for winning, hmm… I’m still not sure. It’s going to do very well, I’m sure, but I’ll wait until we have all 37 songs before I become confident enough to rate Sanna’s chances!

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