As Melodifestivalen 2013 gets underway and speculation begins as to who will win, this list will look at ten songs which took part in Melodifestivalen over the years but were denied the chance to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest. Sweden, not often a country known for making the wrong decision has in the past sent songs to Eurovision that were far inferior to others in the competition. Some Swedish songs have flopped at Eurovision leaving many to wonder how well the songs that came second or third in at Melodifestivalen would have scored against entries from the rest of Europe. Although we know that hindsight is a wonderful thing!

fel lat vann

Often at Melodifestivalen the winner and the runner-up are both exceptional songs: for example, Jan Johansen's Se på mej and Cecilia Vennersten's Det vackraste in 1995, both would have done well at Eurovision and there was Loreen's Euphoria and Danny Saucedo's Amazing in 2012, both songs could have taken the prize. Take a look at the list of songs below, some of which caused the press to cry "Fel låt vann" or "Wrong song won", sit back, re-live them and wonder how they would have done at the Eurovision Song Contest.

10. Alcazar - Stay The Night

Fifth place in 2009

Alcazar made a comeback to Melodifestivalen in 2009 after a four year absence and a line-up change. Their song Stay The Night took part in the first of the 2009 semi finals progressed to the final after winning the first "duel" of the evening (let's not say anything more and try to forget that awful format!). Alcazar had previously qualified for the final on both of their previous attempts but had done so through the second chance round, in 2009 they received enough votes to qualify directly.

At the final, in what was a strong year and the only year where eleven songs took part instead of the usually number of ten, Alcazar could only manage a fifth place after scoring 67 points from the regional juries and 72 points from the televoters. Malena Ernman went on to represent Sweden in Moscow even though she had only managed an eighth place with the juries but was the overwhelming winner of the popular vote. She went on to acheive a twenty-first place at Eurovision, Sweden's worst result since 1992.

Alcazar's hit Stay The Night - Fifth at Melodifestivalen 2009

 

9. Carola Häggkvist - Mitt i ett äventyr

Second place in 1990

After enjoying success throughout the 1980s on the back of her 1983 Melodifestivalen win, Carola started the new decade by returning to the competition with the hope of representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 1990 in Zagreb. Unfortunately, it was not be Carola's year and she finished in second place after losing to Edin-Ådahl's Som en vind in the jury vote.

Melodifestivalen 1990 still holds the record for highest number of viewers. 5,964,000 Swedes tuned into the competition, a figure which represented 74.1% of Sweden's population at the time. There was some controversy surrounding the results as it was reported that there was a break in the broadcast and as a result Carola's song was not received in full in certain parts of Sweden.

Not to be deterred by being the runner-up, Carola and songwriter Stephan Berg returned in 1991 with the song Fångad av en stormvind which not only won Melodifestivalen but went on to win Eurovision in Rome.

Carola's return to Melodifestivalen in 1990

 

8. Lena Philipsson - Kärleken är evig

Second place in 1986

Lena Philipsson, or Lena PH as she is affectionately known, made her Melodifestivalen debut in 1986 singing Kärleken är evig, a song co-written by Per Gessle of Roxette and Torgny Söderberg who had written The Herrey's Eurovision winner Diggi-loo diggi-lei in 1984. Lena lost out to Lasse Holm who after composing three of Sweden's Eurovision entries in they early to mid-80s decided that he would take part as a performer, his win meant that the Swedish Eurovision entries of 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986 were all composed by him.

Lena continued her association with Melodifestivalen and returned to the contest in 1987 with Dansa i neon and in 1988 with Om igen finishing in fifth and second place respectively. She would have to wait until 2004 to clinch a victory at Melodifestivalen. Her song Det gör ont complete with the famous routine involving a microphone stand won the competition and its English language version It Hurts represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2004.  

Kärleken är evig became a hit single in Sweden, reaching #3 on the Swedish singles chart and #2 on the Svensktoppen list.

Lena PH making her Melodifestivalen debut in 1986

 

7. Sanna Nielsen - Empty Room

Second place in 2008

Empty Room was Sanna Nielsen's fifth attempt at winning Melodifestivalen after taking part in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. She returned in 2008 and Empty Room easily qualified to the final, winning both round of televoting in the semi final. After an emotional and well-received performance at the final, Sanna finished in third place with the regional juries, behind former Eurovision winner Charlotte Perrelli's Hero and Rongedal's Just a Minute, the song she had polled more votes than in the semi final. Empty Room was the choice of the Swedish public to represent them at Eurovision but the extra points from the televote score were not enough to beat Hero which had won the jury vote and come second with the public.

La Perrelli's lack of success (the song was a monumental flop) in Belgrade was well documented as her song had been the favourite of the fans (but what do we know?) in the run up to the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. The fact that her song barely managed to claw its way into the top twenty led many people to wonder if the wrong song was sent to Eurovision. Empty Room reached #2 on the Swedish singles chart and spent twenty weeks on the list. It was also crowned the winner of OGAE's Second Chance Contest in 2008.

Sanna Nielsen performing to a not so empty room in 2008

 

6. Lena Andersson - Säg det med en sång

Third place in 1972

Lena Andersson took part at Melodifestivalen 1972 with Säg det med en sång, the song was written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA and Stig Anderson. The song finished in third place behind Östen Warnerbring and winners Family Four, who represented Sweden for the second consecutive year. Although Lena didn't win the chance to represent Sweden, her song placed higher than those of past and future Swedish Eurovision representatives Monica Zetterlund, Björn Skifs and Tomas Ledin. Swedish troubadour Cornelis Vreeswijk and Melodifestivalen 2013 contestant Sylvia Vrethammar were also present in the 1972 line-up.

Säg det med en sång became a favourite amongst fans and was a hit in Sweden reaching #1 on the Svensktoppen list. Lena Andersson continued her career in music and became a backing singer for ABBA and took part in the Tokyo Music Festival in 1972 with another Benny and Björn composition and went home with the trophy. She now lives in the United States.

Lena Andersson's Melodifestivalen 1972 entry, Säg det med en sång

 

5. Eric Saade - Manboy

Third place in 2010

Eric Saade's Manboy was the piece of pop perfection at the Melodifestivalen 2010 final. A cute boy singing a ridiculously catchy song, some clever choreography and he got drenched at the end (still don't know how that microphone worked through all that water), surely it would win? Well, it didn't win. The Swedes opted to send Anna Bergendahl to Oslo with her sweet little song This Is My Life, the first time Sweden had sent a ballad to Eurovision since 1998. Neither This Is My Life nor Manboy had topped the list after the scores from the regional juries so the televoters had the power to sway the vote. Anna Bergendahl was the winner of the Swedish public vote but only got 1.7% more votes than Eric Saade. Manboy eventually finished third behind Bergendahl and Salem Al Fakir.

This Is My Life failed to qualify in Oslo and Sweden missed their first Eurovision final since 1976, we can't help but think that Manboy would have got one of the qualification spots. Eric Saade returned to Melodifestivalen the following year with his song Popular and it proved to be just that. He went to Düsseldorf and was the winner of the second semi final and came third in the grand final.

Eric Saade in 2010, he would be more "popular" in 2011

 

4. Svenne & Lotta - Bang en boomerang

Third place in 1975

Bang en boomerang was entered for Melodifestivalen 1975 after Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson were invited by SVT to submit a song. They were not interested in participating as artists after winning with Waterloo the previous year. Fellow Polar Record label mates Svenne & Lotta were offered the song and recorded a three minute version with new Swedish lyrics for Melodifestivalen. The song finished third and lost the chance to represent Sweden on home soil. Lasse Berghagen and his song Jennie Jennie got the honour after he had lost out to ABBA in 1974.

Bang en boomerang was recorded in English and became a hit for the duo after being released in Scandinavia, Belgium, the United States and Australia. It was also later recorded and released by ABBA but in Scandinavia it is associated with Svenne & Lotta and Melodifestivalen. Svenne & Lotta enjoyed many hit singles in Sweden and Denmark and still perform their catalogue of hits to this day.

The classic Bang en boomerang from 1975

 

3. Arja Saijonmaa - Högt över havet

Second place in 1987

Melodifestivalen 1987 was undoubtedly one of the strongest of all time. All six of the songs that made the second round have become classics. Arja Saijonmaa's Högt över havet, which was written by Lasse Holm, came second in a field of songs that included Lena Philipsson's Dansa i neonCyndee Peters' När morgonstjärnan brinner and Sound of Music's Alexandra. As well as these, there was the winning entry Fyra bugg och en Coca-Cola by Lotta Engberg.

Lotta had defeated Arja by just one point and took the trademark-free version of her song Boogalooto to Brussels and finished in a disappointing twelfth place. A poor result for Sweden after finishing in the top ten between 1980 and 1986. Högt över havet became Arja's biggest hit and most memorable song. She still performs the song frequently, often wearing the outfit she wore at Melodifestivalen 1987.

Arja Saijonmaa performing the evergreen Högt över havet

 

2. ABBA - Ring ring (Bara du slog en signal)

Third place in 1973

ABBA, or Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid as they were known at the time, entered Melodifestivalen 1973 after Benny & Björn along with Stig Anderson were invited to submit a song to SVT. The trio quickly came up with Ring Ring and it was selected for the competition. As we all know, "the history book on the shelf" does not include Ring Ring as a Swedish Eurovision song. The song finished in third place but went on to become a massive hit in both the Swedish and English language versions.

The Swedish version reached #1 on the Swedish singles chart and the English version got to #2. However, Ring Ring was to become ABBA's first international hit. It was a #1 in Belgium, #2 in Norway and Austria and top ten in the Netherlands, South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

The success of Ring Ring spurred the group on and they returned to Melodifestivalen in 1974 with a little song called Waterloo and fared slightly better than in 1973...

A badly dubbed video for Ring Ring from 1973

 

1. Nanne Grönvall - Håll om mig

Second place in 2005

Nanne Grönvall, a true Melodifestivalen veteran, was selected as one of SVT's wildcards for the 2005 competition to ensure that there were more female songwriters taking part. Nanne had previously participated in 1986 and 1987 as part of Sound of Music, in 1996 winning as part of One More Time and in 1998 and 2003 as a soloist. She also tried her hand as a songwriter in 1992 and 1995 (writing the aforementioned Det vackraste which was Sweden's song of the year in '95).

Håll om mig, co-written with Ingela 'Pling' Forsman (who had written the Swedish Eurovision entries in 1995 and 1998 along with countless other Melodifestivalen songs) stormed the semi final finishing in first place and was performed in last slot at that years final. The song was well regarded but didn't appear to be in with a chance after finishing in third place behind Shirley Clamp and Martin Stenmarck in the jury vote. However, when the public votes were announced Håll om mig was in first place adding 132 points to Nanne's jury score causing a great deal of commotion in the arena whilst the audience and those in the Green Room attempted frantic mental arithmetic to add up the scores before they were displayed on the screen. Unfortunately winning the televote was not enough for Nanne and she finished in second, just three points behind Martin Stenmarck's Las Vegas. This led many to question whether the jury/public voting system was fair and should the public alone choose who they want to represent Sweden in the future.

To date, the 2005 result remains the closest under the current Melodifestivalen format. Even though Nanne did not win the single was released and topped the Swedish chart for two weeks and spent 32 weeks in total on the chart, selling over 10,000 copies, was awarded a Gold disc.

Nanne Grönvall, almost winning Melodifestivalen 2005

Each year there can only be one winner and at an event such as Melodifestivalen which is packed with talent and songs often worthy of becoming international smash hits, it is difficult to pick a song and know how Europe will respond to it. This list, which has left out many fantastic entries, merely contains songs that may have done better than the ones that went on to the Eurovision Song Contest, whether they could have or not we will never know.

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