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Weekend round-up: Melodifestivalen and the race to the finish line

by | Mar 11, 2019

Weekend round-up: Melodifestivalen and the race to the finish line

by | Mar 11, 2019 | Eurovision, Featured |

All the internal selections are in, all the national finals are complete, and we don’t think there’ll be any more countries withdrawing – which means we now have the 41 songs that will compete in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest!

The (extended) last weekend of the national final season began with Belarus on Thursday night, although their final was really little more than a televised internal selection, since it was only voted on by a seven-person jury. That jury was more than generous with their votes, never venturing below 7/10 for any song, and – in a move almost designed to remove all drama from the occasion – their votes were revealed after each song. With the very second song receiving 69 out of a possible 70 points, it seemed near impossible that it would be caught, and so it proved. Belarus will therefore be represented in Tel Aviv by “Like It” performed by Zena, or even ZENA. She co-hosted last year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest and was born – brace yourselves – on 17 September 2002. Ouch.

As is so often the case, the national final season came to a close with Melodifestivalen in Sweden. Like most years, we were in Stockholm for the festivities – though we’ve fallen out of the habit of actually attending the show ever since it moved to Friends Arena. Not necessarily out of any loyalty to Globen, but let’s be honest, it’s not quite the same, is it…? One thing remains unchanged with every Stockholm trip, though, and that’s the schlager mood you encounter right from your arrival at the airport:

After six weeks with a few shocks and surprises (and the glorious reappearance of legends like Arja Saijonmaa and Ann-Louise Hanson), it’s a shame in a way that the final ended up being such a foregone conclusion. Not so much for the Swedes themselves, who have a strong entry in John Lundvik‘s “Too Late For Love”, a song that ought to continue the country’s record of success in the contest this decade. But for the new voting system, designed to eliminate the problems with the “flat” televoting in recent years that essentially meant the international juries decided the winner because the differences between the televoting scores were so small.

The new idea of dividing the televote into jury-style scores based on age categories did indeed have the desired effect of spreading out the televoting totals – from 85 at the top to 8 at the bottom. But that was rendered moot by the fact that John Lundvik received every single jury 12 and won the public vote quite comfortably too. We’re looking forward to seeing how the system works in a properly competitive year, because it seems like a step in the right direction.

As if that wasn’t enough, the period from Thursday to Sunday gave us presentations of internal selections from (deep breath) Switzerland, the Netherlands, San Marino, Ireland, Austria, Poland, Azerbaijan, North Macedonia, Russia, Malta, Armenia and Israel. Good grief! It’ll take a while to unpack everything we’ve encountered so late in this national final season, but at least all these late announcements mean we shouldn’t be thoroughly bored of all the songs by mid-April, and that’s probably to be applauded overall.

So what’s next for escgo! and the ESC on-season?

  • The SongHunt continues! Now in Heat 6, please do click and give us YOUR votes to help us find the best non-winning song of the 2019 national final season.
  • April will see the 14th annual edition of the ChatVote, in which our #esc chatters decide which song is their favourite from the forthcoming contest – accompanied by preview nights and semi-finals.
  • We’ll also soon be launching our line-up check series, in which our team of Shi, Felix and Martin forensically pick their way through all 41 entries. Your opinion may vary – ours often does too.

And of course, our legendary #esc chat will be there throughout for you to join us and talk about all things Eurovision and beyond. See you there!

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