Melodifestivalen 2016's Competing Acts Are Here!

The long-awaited press conference took place in Stockholm to announce the competing acts for Melodifestivalen 2016. Among them we find back-to-back returners, semi-recent returners, old school veterans of the contest, and some exciting debutants.

Semi-final 1 will take place at Scandinavium in Gothenburg on February 6.

The competing acts in their running order are:

Mimi Werner - "Ain't No Good" (Composed by Mimi Werner, Göran Werner, Marcus Svedin, Jason Saenz)

A newcomer to the contest and largely unknown in the Swed-pop scene, Mimi appears to have an affinity for country music. Here's hoping she can bring a bit more of a Shania energy but this song doesn't inspire much confidence for that.

Samir & Viktor - "Bada nakna" [Translation: "Swim naked"] ~ (Composed by Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger, Anderz Wrethov)

Though Samir & Viktor only came in 8th in the Melodifestivalen 2015 finals, "Groupie" went on to become the second most successful entry behind "Heroes," the Melodifestivalen (and eventual Eurovision) winner. They followed this up with "Saxofuckingfon", a single we reviewed along with a music video for it (that we also reviewed), and saw the song become an even bigger hit with over 10 million streams on Spotify. Carrying on an extensive tour throughout Sweden and stopping in a few other adjacent countries, it was little surprise that these two would return to Melodifestivalen. Will they bring a contest winning song? Doubtful. But if there's one thing we'd bet on, it's that it will be one hell of a party.

Robin Bengtsson - "Constellation Price" (Composed by Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström, Mark Hole, Martin Eriksson)

Robin was the third place finisher on Swedish Idol 2008 and despite working relatively consistently since then, has yet to make a truly significant impact in the Swed-pop scene particularly in comparison to other big-name Idol alumni. This is a bit of a shame, considering how brilliantly crafted his recent singles were ("Fired" and "I Don't Like To Wait"). But Melodifestivalen has made big names out of Idol contestants including Eurovision winners Loreen and Måns Zelmerlöw, so perhaps this could be just the platform for Robin to boost his status. He has already proved himself to be a capable artist; all that's needed is the exposure.

Ace Wilder - "Don't Worry" (Composed by Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad, Ace Wilder)

SVT have brought out the big guns. Ace Wilder is the name that has fallen through the lips of many a Melfest fan from all over the world. After coming 2nd in the closest final result the contest has ever seen, a mere two points behind the winner Sanna Nielsen, Ace was still able to boast greater commercial success for her entry "Busy Doin' Nothin'" (hitting no. 1 in Sweden, and going triple platinum) than the winning "Undo" (hitting no. 2 in Sweden and going Gold). She also released a masterfully crafted EP, "The Wild Card", that infused a wide array of musical genres into her signature Swed-pop-banger artistic style. As Swedish voting patterns will demonstrate, Swedes don't often go for "edgy", so it was incredible that she was able to do as well as she did last time. But without the element of surprise, fans will be left waiting on baited breath to see if her efforts will be rewarded.

Anna Book - "Himmel för två" [Translation: "Heaven for two"] ~ (Composed by Sven-Inge Sjöberg, Lennart Wastesson, Larry Forsberg, Camilla Läckberg)

Now here is a veteran-return few saw coming. Anna made her Melodifestivalen debut at the mere age of 15 back in 1986. She placed fifth, and returned in 1987 only to not place at all. She returned again in 2007 and did qualify to the final, but ended up placing 9th with a mere one point. Some big name veterans can return and place quite well but many also crash out.

Pernilla Andersson - "Mitt guld" [Translation: "My gold"] ~ (Composed by Pernilla Andersson, Fredrik Rönnqvist)

Pernilla previously competed in Melodifestivalen 2011 and didn't make it past Andra Chansen. Given her style of music, and propensity for lower energy and lower impact, along with the competitive calibre of this heat, we are skeptical as to whether she'll fair much better this time around.

Albin Johnsén & Mattias Andréasson - "Rik" [Translation: "Rich"] ~ (Composed by Albin Johnsén & Mattias Andréasson)

Albin and Mattias are continuing their musical collaboration by bringing their talents to Melodifestivalen. They've released a few singles that are a bit slower, more emotionally and lyrically driven, which may not translate as well to the non-Swedish-speaking international viewers, but may not be as much of an issue to get votes from the Swedish public. We don't actually know if their goal is to go to Eurovision anyway, but we've not heard them release English-language music together so if they were to be a surprise winner, it would be interesting to see how they would proceed. Of course their biggest hit was "Din Soldat"; although Mattias did not do the vocals for the song, he did co-write it and has been known to sing it when touring with Albin since Kristin Amparo has her own career keeping her busy. Being that they are the closers of the show, they would be wise to have something a bit more uptempo, or at least with some sort of dramatic punch. This one has our curiosity particularly piqued!

Semi-final 2 will take place at Malmö Arena in Malmö on February 13.

The competing acts in their running order are:

Victor och Natten - "100%" (Composed by Dag Lundberg, Melker, Jesper Lundh)

Victor och Natten may be new to Melodifestivalen, but with catchy, contemporary songs already out like "Normal" and "Svartsjuk", we'd love to see them be the surprise hit of this semi if they bring something even bigger and better that builds on their unique and fresh style.

Krista Siegfrids - "Faller" [Translation: "Falling"] ~ (Composed by Krista Siegfrids, Gabriel Alares, Magnus Wallin, Gustaf Svenungsson)

Christ Siegfrids is a Finnish pop singer best known for representing Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013. But that number was more memorable for the upset it caused amongst homophobic viewers due to it being a statement in favour of equality for the LGBT community (the number even had Krista kiss one of her female back-up dancers). The song itself didn't actually place well in the finals; some would even say that she "bombed." Krista has maintained a steady career in Finland but Swedes by in large don't remember her, which begs the question of why SVT cared so much about getting her to participate in Melodifestivalen. But at the very least, this name has generated interest amongst avid Eurovision fans.

Molly Pettersson Hammar - "Hunger" (Composed by Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad, Molly Pettersson Hammar)

Now here is a quest for vengeance we've been rallying behind since the most controversial upset of Melodifestivalen 2015! Molly Pettersson Hammar is back to wrong the rights of Swedish voting and assert her dominance as the next big thing in Swed-pop. With her enormously vibrant personality to further make her stand out, and armed with some of the absolute best composers with which she co-wrote her entry, this will undoubtedly be one to watch.

Patrik Isaksson, Tommy Nilsson & Uno Svenningsson - "Håll mitt hjärta hårt" [Translation: "Hold my heart hard"] ~ (Composed by Patrik Isaksson, Tommy Nilsson, Uno Svenningsson)

We're trying not to shudder at this concept of old-male-music-veterans brought together for Melodifestivalen but the last time this concept was present at the contest, we saw a terribly naff song/number advance direct to the finals while the underrated classic Janet Leon's "Heartstrings" was left in fifth place in the heat. For shame, Sweden, for shame.

Isa - "I Will Wait" (Composed by Anton Hård af Segerstad, Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Nikki Flores)

Another returning act from 2015 that's armed herself with the biggest, baddest composers in Swed-pop is ISA. She's dyed her hair back to brown and is apparently trying to pursue an urban direction in music. Right. But with those composers penning her song, it warrants our attention.

Wiktoria  - "Save Me" (Composed by Jens Siverstedt, Lauren Dyson, Jonas Wallin)

Wiktoria is a completely unknown newcomer. But we love a surprise if it's good!

David Lindgren - "We are Your Tomorrow" (Composed by Anderz Wrethov, Sharon Vaughn, Gustav Efraimsson)

David Lindgren exploded onto the scene in Melodifestivalen 2012 as an entirely unknown artist and won everyone over with his showmanship, charisma, and of course the singing and dancing to a quality pop track. Having been away from the contest since 2013, many are eager to see what his return will bring. The word is that it will be a bit different from his previous entries, but hopefully it will be just as gripping to watch.

Semi-final 3 will take place at Himmelstalundshallen in Norrköping on February 20.

The competing acts in their running order are:

Oscar Zia - "Human" (Composed by Oscar Zia, Victor Thell, Maria Smith)

Oscar Zia's first go in Melodifestivalen was an outrageously outdated attempt to stir up sentimentality for the 1990s/early 2000s pop complete with Nsync's decades-old VMA staging. But even more shocking than the fact that there were people who actually considered this to be quality pop was the fact that Oscar's follow-up single, "Ballare Con Me", was one of the best Swed-pop songs of the year, though it received little attention due to poor marketing, or lack thereof.

SaRaha - "Kizunguzungu" [Translation: "Dizziness"] ~ (Composed by Anderz Wrethov, Sara "SaRaha" Larsson, Arash Labaf)

This concept rubs us entirely the wrong way. Cultural appropriation is not a good look, nor is it a respectful way to make your career.

After Dark - "Kom ut som en stjärna" [Translation: "Come out like a star"] ~ (Composed by Sven-Inge Sjöberg, Lennart Wastesson, Larry Forsberg, Lina Eriksson, Kent Olsson, Calle Kindbom)

Melodifestivalen is about to get a whole lot more fabulous! After Dark is a drag artist that has competed in Melodifestivalen twice before and though they've never made it to the finals, the numbers always make the contest more fun!

Lisa Ajax - "My Heart Wants Me Dead" (Composed by Linnea Deb, Joy Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad)

The winner of Idol 2014 has kicked off her career with a surprisingly strong debut single (considering how many Idol contestants take a few years to find their artistic niche... or have still yet to find it). But with that dream team of composers (#TheFamilySwe) behind her song, and with a song title strong enough to generate hype, if we were the betting sort, our money would be on Lisa Ajax to advance from semi 3.

Boris René - "Put Your Love on Me" (Composed by Boris René, Tobias Lundgren, Tim Larsson)

Here we see a newcomer we'd love to see rise up in the ranks and have a shining moment. Perhaps it's the fact that his voice is lovely, or the fact that he's debuting with a song he co-wrote, or that warmth that seems to radiate from him, or just all of the above. Go on, Boris!

SMAILO - "Weight of the World" (Composed by Arvid Ångström, Dennis Babic, Oscar Berglund Juhola, Anton Göransson, Robin Danielsson)

Yes, these are the winners of the P4 Radio contest. Yes, the winner typically bombs out in the semi they're placed in. However, we want to give this one its fair chance. For one, last year's winning song, Kalle Johansson's "Den där dan" was truly excellent and even his Melodifestivalen entry, "För din skull" was decent. What's also worth noting was that SMAILO was not a typical winning act. The winning act in the traditional sense was the one voted through by the public like years prior. However, Christer Björkman (who was present that day as part of the jury - and yes, we would know because we were at the show to witness it firsthand) bypassed this decision with the jury to select this group instead to go to Melodifestivalen. This makes us wonder if he is trying to legitimise the Radio contest by picking an act that had a better chance of being moulded into something good. We're not about to go assuming that their entry will be ground-breaking, but we'd love to see it be something respectable. Why have just one great contest to follow if you can also get the contest for the contest up and running on a higher calibre too?

Swingfly feat. Helena Gutarra - "Weight of the World" (Composed by Jocke Åhlund, Andreas Kleerup)

Swingfly is best known for his 2011 Melodifestivalen entry, "Me and My Drum" which was by in a low-budget, straight-to-DDR track. But he's capable of bigger and better things so if he can come back with a higher quality track then his journey to the finals will be made that much easier.

Semi-final 4 will take place at Gavlerinken in Gävle on February 27.

The competing acts in their running order are:

Martin Stenmarck - "Du tar mig tillbaks" [Translation: "You take me back"] ~ (Composed by David Stenmarck)

Martin Stenmarck controversially won Melodifestivalen back in 2005 over Nanne Grönvall's "Håll om mig" despite the latter having significantly more votes in the public. He didn't fair very well at Eurovision either. But when he returned in 2014 with "När änglarna gar hem", he very much redeemed himself in regards to quality, though perhaps not with results, as he only made it as far as Andra Chansen. But perhaps he will be able to better those results in 2016.

Panetoz - "Håll om mig hårt" [Translation: "Hold me tight"] ~ (Composed by Jimmy Jansson, Karl-Ola Kjellholm, Jakke Erixson, Pa Modou Badjie, Njol Badjie, Nebeyu Baheru)

Melodifestivalen has consistently needed to diversify itself in regards to the acts that compete and in other forms of contemporary, commercially marketable music. Panetoz can not only bring a multicultural element to the contest, but they also offer lively and energetic performances. Though they still have yet to outdo their biggest hit, "Dansa Pausa", it would be interesting to see if they can improve upon their 9th place finish in Melodifestivalen 2014.

Frans - "If I Were Sorry" (Composed by Oscar Fogelström, Michael Saxell, Fredrik Andersson, Frans Jeppsson Wall)

Frans' claim to fame came nearly a decade ago via a viral music video about a song professing adoration for the famed Swedish footballer, Zlatan Ibrahimović. His music career since then hasn't had as much traction but Melodifestivalen could be his big break as a legitimate artist, depending on the quality of his entry.

Linda Bengtzing - "Killer Girl" (Composed by Mattias Kallenberger, Andreas Berlin, Linda Bengtzing, Dag Öhrlund)

Linda Bengtzing has competed in Melodifestivalen a grand total of five times in the last decade, and has made it to the finals each time... except for her most recent time. Could the tides be shifting for good on this Melodifestivalen veteran? Or is she set for a big comeback?

Dolly Style - "Rollercoaster" (Composed by Thomas G:son, Peter Boström, Alexandra Salomonsson)

This will be the fourth year in a row that SVT has allowed a blatant case of a stereotyped fetishisation of Japanese culture in yellowface to be paraded around the stage. We do not condone this, so we offer up an alternative video for you to watch and recommend that you consider the dehumanising effect yellowface in media has:

Eclipse - "Runaways" (Composed by Erik Mårtensson)

We have no idea why Swedish producers insist on putting rock and/or metal music into Melodifestivalen, particularly when very little of the rock that gets let in is any good. If they were going to let a band in, they should've buttered up the metal group Amaranthe to join instead, as their glossy brand of metal would've made for a much better fit with Melodifestivalen.

Molly Sandén - "Youniverse" (Composed by Molly Sandén, Danny Saucedo, John Alexis)

Molly Sandén has seen more career success since her last run in Melodifestivalen in 2012. Ironically, her strongest song released has been her least commercially successful of her latest wave of music. She will have high expectations to live up to but we'll see how she fairs come February.

Finally, Andra Chansen will take place at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad on March 5. The final will take place at Friends Arena in Stockholm on March 12.


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