Melodifestivalen 2018: First impressions from the final rehearsals in Friends Arena


The final of Melodifestivalen — the biggest national final of the Eurovision season — is finally upon us. Sweden’s annual celebration of song (and schlager and divas and things that sparkle) will take place in Stockholm’s Friends Arena on Saturday. We’re on the ground and have been snapping pics and jotting down notes to help you get ready for the musical extravaganza. Put on your sunglasses — it’s about to get bright!


Nothing major changed from last week. “Everyday” is still an ear worm that makes you want to move. The fiesta draws fire from dancers who help amp up the energy, and distract you from Mendez’s questionable vocals. For Spanish viewers this will be cliché after cliché. In fact, for Swedish viewers it will also be cliché after cliché. But that doesn’t mean it won’t please plenty of people — and potentially draw some votes.


With each run-through Renaida seems more confident on stage. As in her semi-final and Andra Chansen, this woman radiates energy, light and happiness. She gives us “All the Feels” — and most especially joy. Even without a big climax, Renaida captivates you with her voice, style and attitude — endearing herself to viewers week by week.  Regardless of the result on Saturday, she’s already won.


Simple yet effective. When you have a winning formula you stick with it and that is  exactly what Martin Almgrem is doing. Look, the man can sing. His husky country voice fills the stage and keeps you engaged even if you don’t like this type of music, which some might argue comes from another era. The camera angles are tighter and the light show is on point. In a year where everything sounds the same, Martin is more than capable of snatching the crown. This dark horse is hungry — so hide your apples or watch him eat!


Martin can sing, and John Lundvik can sing. This is three minutes of vocal perfection, and with a song meant to showcase precisely that. Even if it’s a tad predictable, “My Turn” does its job. A sweet piano ballad with a major key change and a pyro demonstration — copy and paste all our positivity from his semi-final. While most Eurovision fans are counting John out, viewers in Sweden seem to appreciate Lundvik’s vocal strength. Some even think he’s a potential surprise winner.


Can you hear her party voice? Yassica Andersson is back and stronger than ever, telling the audience who runs the weekend. Even if this schlager moment feels vintage, Jessica does her best on giving it a modern spin. The choreography is near perfect and the camera angles are better than in the semi-final, resulting in a tighter, higher impact performance. Everything that needs to work here, works.

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If you were sceptical about LIAMOO’s semi-final performance, then stop. While the performance of “Last Breath” still feels authentic to what it was back in Gothenburg, the camera production is taking this to another level. He is more comfortable on stage. It’s clear Sacha Jean-Baptiste has been working on getting this to work for Saturday. Bravo! And about time.


When you make an impression like Samir & Viktor did in Gothenburg, there’s little you should change. They already provided synchronised choreo at the semi-final but today they really moved as one. The “fake” moment where Viktor pretends to be out of breath is gone but the fun and authenticity the duo brings to the stage remains in tact. There’s a reason they went direct to the final, after all.


The major change for Mariette is her styling. She’s ditched the casual jeans and cropped t-shirt and replaced it with an all-white co-ord. The lit-up blue pyramid is back and she commands the mystical triangle like no other, serving that Illuminati realness. The vocals are on point and the camera shots as well. It’s rehearsed and ready to go. But is that enough?


Felix Sandman is back after hitting #1 in Sweden’s Spotify Top 50. His bold claim? Less is more. His voice is now back at 100% which makes “Every Single Day” a strong contender to win the coveted ticket to Lisbon. He invites you in, tells you a love story in three minutes and it’s beautiful. Everything is flawless here. Many will say it’s “a bit too Frans”. But that was then. And Felix is most definitely now.


In today’s rehearsal Margaret stuck to the trend of mixing things up and changing her staging after every single performance. The Polish star showed up in a red dress with a pearl necklace — a sharp shift away from her Andra Chansen yellow dress and her semi-final orange one. The LED with the cabana is back and the two-minute long camera shot is still there. If you liked the song already, it’s doubtful Margaret will disappoint you on Saturday. Now go get it, gurl.


He is the bookies’ favourite to win it all and you can understand why. Benjamin’s performance is very similar to the semi-final. He’s still lighting it up — figuratively and literally —  but this time around he adds a bit more sex. Three minutes in and you’re out of breath and ready for more. Dancing, moonwalking and voguing before a series of horizontal lights, he’s in a world of his own and the audience only features at the end. The camera shots also improved. It’s a package ready for Eurovision.


Rolandz close the show with a bang. They bring back the energy of semi-final four (and the same sequins, seemingly born of Mother Disco Ball). Entertaining from the first minute, the comedy stamp in this act is clear and you should enjoy it and celebrate it as such. Edward af Sillén is in loco to make this the perfect performance and he is nailing it.

Who do you think will win Melodifestivalen this year? Is there a potential Eurovision winner among them? Tell us what you think below!