Read back: Starstruck Melodifestivalen kick-off with Anna Bergendahl, Mohombi, Wiktoria and Nano

Sweden’s national selection begins tonight as Melodifestivalen kicks off with semifinal 1. Follow our live blog of tonight’s show starting at 20:00 Central European Time.

All eyes will be on Gothenburg as the first hopefuls take the stage in Melodifestivalen 2019. Watch the show live on SVT’s website.

Follow along with ESC Daily editor Allie Lindo as she provides commentary as it happens. Melodifestivalen 2019 begins at 20:00 CET.

Live blog of Melodifestivalen 2019

21:24 – Mohombi joins Wiktoria

Woohoo! Mohombi is next through to the final in Stockholm!

21:22 – Andra Chansen

The first to Andra Chansen this year is Nano with Chasing Rivers. The second to AC is Anna Bergendahl.

21:15 – Final results are in!

The first direct through to the final is Wiktoria! She’ll continue her chase for victory on the stage in Stockholm on March 9.

She takes the stage to perform the song once again. Her second performance tonight is just as strong as before.

21:11 – Netta? Is that you?

Sarah Dawn Finer takes the stage as last year’s ESC winner Netta. I had to do a triple take to make sure it wasn’t actually Netta. Well done Sarah!

How do I vote for this? Oh wait, voting is over now. Oops…

Eric Saade joins Sarah onstage to sing the Eurovision classic Diva by Dana International. This is a full on tribute to Israel.

HOW DO I VOTE FOR THIS?!

21:07 – Goodbye to No Drama

Personally, I’m glad to see High15 won’t be continuing tonight. I thought they might have a chance, especially with younger viewers. They are a talented group. I hope they come back again with a stronger song with stronger lyrics.

I’m sad to see Earth Goddess Arja Saijonmaa leave us but I expected it. Her song is a good reminder to care for the earth but it isn’t really the kind of tune Melfest voters go for.

21:03 – Vi har ett resultat

Votes have been tallied. The first two songs to be eliminated tonight are No Drama by High15 and Mina fyra årstider by Arja Saijonmaa.

High15 finished in sixth place tonight which means Arja Saijonmaa was in seventh, and last, place.

Continuing to the second round of voting are Nano, Wiktoria, Zeana feat. Anis Don Denima, Mohombi and Anna Bergendahl.

20:57 – Quick recap!

And just like that the first 7 songs of Melodifestivalen have been presented to the voting public. Two of these songs will go directly to the final in Stockholm. Two more will go to Andra Chansen for another shot at the Friends Arena stage.

We had a bit of a mixed bag with performances tonight. My current votes for moving on are Wiktoria and Mohombi. High15 probably has a chance of going to AC at least (despite my personal feelings on their entry).

I’m bitterly disappointed by Nano’s performance tonight. His voice wasn’t where it needed to be to pull it off tonight. I also didn’t feel any real evolution in his style since 2017. But I still enjoy his music and his story. Fingers crossed for Andra Chansen for him.

20:53 – Ashes to Ashes by Anna Bergendahl

Anna has already represented Sweden in Norway but she’s back to prove she’s still capable of doing it again. The most creative staging so far with Anna surrounded by flowers. Thankfully a strong vocal performance.

Unfortunately I think this song is lacking lyrically. Anna has good stage presence but I don’t see this song going past tonight. Sorry Anna!

20:48 – Hello by Mohombi

After years building his success in the US and around the world, Mohombi is back in Sweden. Folks he is not playing. He wants to know where he can find love that starts with hello. Does anyone have an answer for him?

His years performing with some of the music industry’s biggest stars has certainly paid off. Mohombi is more in control of his voice than some of his rivals tonight.

This was one of tonight’s stronger entries even if it was a little repetitive.

20:42 – Mina fyra årstider with Arja Saijonmaa

This song was inspired by the horrible forest fires of last summer. The theme of the song is reflected in the animation of our planet scrolling behind Arja as she sings.

This song certainly keeps with her personal history of being an activist. Rather selfishly, I love this song because I really enjoy listening to Finnish Swedish. But Arja is a joy to watch in her long flowing white dress. She swishes her long sleeves about in a great impersonation of a goddess.

Arja may be a few months younger than my sweet grandmother but she still has a spring in her step and a joy that makes you forget exactly how long it’s been since she was last on the Melfest stage.

20:35 – Mina bränder with Zeana feat. Anis Don Demina

We’re storming through the night. Already we’re on song #4. And we’re back to the bright neon colored outfits onstage thanks to Zeana. Anis is keeping it simple in mostly black.

There’s a bit of a tropical house vibe with this song. Definitely a song with a chance in the clubs on Stureplan in Stockholm later in the year. I’ll classify this song as a guilty pleasure.

Zeana seems like a really nice woman but her voice isn’t the strongest. At times she sounds like she’s struggling to keep up with the beat of the song. Still this is a fun entry. I’m sure the crowd in Gothenburg don’t mind.

20:28 – Not With Me by Wiktoria

Now I loved “Save Me”. I still listen to it now. My hopes are high for Wiktoria this year and I won’t attempt to hide it. Jag håller tummarna (holding my thumbs) and crossing my fingers.

Wiktoria is going for a slightly more classic look onstage tonight. She’s wearing a black beaded one shoulder dress. Tonight we are seeing a different side to Wiktoria. I like it. It feels like she took inspiration from Celine Dion for this performance. And here is the much-talked about waterfall. She certainly uses it well for dramatic effect.

Yep. I liked this. But will it be enough? It is a good song but rather simple and understated compared to the others we’re seeing tonight.

20:24 – No Drama by High15

Girl group High15 are already a popular choice for the younger crowd tonight. They take the stage dressed in neon colored outfits. I’m reminded of high visibility jackets.

The vocal ability is undeniable. There are some impressive vocal moments in “No Drama” but this song doesn’t feel like a full package. Especially this irritating chorus “I just wanna drink no drama”. Yes I too would just like to drink right now. These ladies had far too much caffeine before taking the stage.

Nevertheless, they get a big round of applause and some screams as the song ends. Maybe I’m just getting too old?

20:16 – Chasing Rivers with Nano

If you were with me back in 2017, you’ll know Nano was my heartfelt favorite to win Melfest 2017. Robin Bengtsson’s song was a club thumper for sure, but Nano’s “Hold On” has the kind of staying power that an artist dreams of. I hope he can replicate that feeling onstage tonight.

As he starts the songs he sounds a little out of breath but he recovers. His son William is onstage with his dad, which is sweet. This song isn’t as catchy as “Hold On” but has the same undertones. The camera work for this song is kind of nauseating. I’d like a word with the production team and the camera crew. Please keep the camera still for longer than 3 seconds!

As for the song itself, it definitely plays off the themes of Nano’s troubled youth. It’s clearly personal. Unfortunately I can’t ignore that the backing singers were carrying this song for the majority of it.

Oh dear….

20:12 – Då nu kör vi!!!

The words have been spoken. Nano is up first.

20:06 – Can’t forget the singing hosts bit

I’d love to see the check list of requirements SVT has for Melfest hosts. Somewhere on there they must have “If Petra still isn’t available, find some people willing to sing a lot.”

Check list item #2: must be comfortable making fun of Sweden’s recent political uncertainty….?

20:04 – Here we go…

And we start off with our hosts “finding out” their mission to bring all of Sweden on this journey with them. It’s a little bit comedy and a little bit James Bond with a touch of the 1980s. OH HEY MÅNS! Surprise appearance there.

19:45 – The countdown begins

It’s almost time! Tonight’s stage is packed with old and new favorites so we should be in for a good show. In the pre-show interviews with the audience, the name “Wiktoria” was on everyone’s lips.

So will she be among the two going directly to Stockholm? Or will she be heading to Andra Chansen? Or -gasp- could she be totally out of luck this evening? We’ll soon know the answers to those questions. Stay tuned for the infamous words “nu kör vi!”

19:40 – What we can expect

Nano will take the stage first. The crowd favorite narrowly lost in 2017 to Robin Bengtsson. His second-place finish that year caused some controversy among Melfest lovers. Other familiar faces tonight include Anna Bergendahl who represented Sweden in Norway in 2010.

Meanwhile, Wiktoria hopes to improve on her fourth-place finish in 2016, and Arja Saijonmaa returns to the Melfest stage for the first time since 1987.

Here’s the starting order for tonight:

  1. Nano – “Chasing Rivers”
  2. High15 – “No Drama”
  3. Wiktoria – “Not With Me”
  4. Zeana feat. Anis Don Demina – “Mina bränder”
  5. Arja Saijonmaa – “Mina fyra årstider”
  6. Mohombi – “Hello”
  7. Anna Bergendahl – “Ashes To Ashes”