The Melodifestivalen 2021 circus has come to town — and more specifically to Semi-Final 1 in Stockholm. The pandemic may be gripping the world, but producers made sure the acts could still slay — albeit in a socially distant setting with no audience. Call it a job well done. Kadiatou threw it down Dua Lipa style, and Nathalie Brydolf turned her heartache into a beautiful three minutes. But in the end it was Danny Saucedo (“Dandi dansa”) and Arvingarna (“Tänker inte alls gå hem”) who won the day and will advance direkt till final, also in Stockholm. Paul Rey (“The Missing Piece”) and Lillasyster (“Pretender”) will live to sing another day in the Second Chance round Andra Chansen.
Melodifestivalen 2021: Semi-Final 1 Winners (direkt till final)
Danny Saucedo – “Dandi dansa”
He’s got a stellar track record at Melodifestivalen, having placed second twice. The man has a voice and the moves. Give him a room full of cardboard boxes and he will still turn it out. We’re being literal. For his song “Dandi dansa”, which is all about having fun after a horrible year, he threw shapes in a small room filled with cardboard boxes. Eventually he stepped out and performed more moves in the lights and centre stage — right where the Swedish public like him.
Arvingarna – “Tänker inte alls gå hem”
Y’all remember Manel Navarro’s colourful staging from Eurovision 2017? Well this takes that, throws in Guy Sebastian’s cityscape and adds in four classy dudes with rather dapper evening wear. Long story short, it’s fun and gripping and, despite not knowing a single word of Swedish, this made me smile. It was a guilt-free guilty pleasure.
Melodifestivalen 2021: Semi-Final 1 Andra Chansen
Lillasyster – “Pretender”
Rock on. They delivered a proper rock concert — and one seemingly filled with more strobe lights than people in Stockholm! From fire to screams, they had it all and helped us remember those sweaty nights walking on sticky floors before the pandemic. Rock on!
Paul Rey – “The Missing Piece”
We don’t know what’s missing in your puzzle, just please say it ain’t Paul Rey! This was among the simplest performances which made it among the most powerful. He wore a pared-back beige and white outfit and moved around between expanses of black and large orange plinths, all lit by tasteful and subtle lights. His face carried this — he felt every note and that voice was tender, sweet and all kinds of amazing.
Eliminated Acts in SF1
5. Jessica Andersson – “Horizon”
She’s known for her schlager party voice. But this year Jessica decided to dip her toe into gospel. Backed by a choir and showing off her ample vocal assets, the song had texture and emotion. She had a very large dress which was quartered to create a sort of singer-as-may-pole effect. That wasn’t particularly innovative. But the wow factor came courtesy of the digital horizon they created on the walls and floor — it literally lit things up, giving us major “Love Shine A Light” feels.
6. Kadiatou – “One Touch”
One touch is all it takes — falling in love with Kadiatou! This was the perfect opener for the show. It showed off the full scope of the stage, which turned every colour of her 80s synth rainbow. Kadiatou knows how to move and she knows how to sing. Throw in some dancers with eye-catching ponytails and you’ve got a memorable performance with shades of Dua Lipa — both sonically and in terms of that nonchalant fabulousness. Radio-friendly, current and eye-catching, she did herself proud even if Sweden did her wrong.
7. Nathalie Brydolf – “Fingerprints”
Nathalie Brydolf is a stunning diva with a beautiful voice. And that voice was more than enough to fill the entire stage in Stockholm. Standing with a mic stand and a few lights, she oozed emotion as she described the fingerprints an ex left on her heart. A highlight was when she walked toward the front of the stage as digital smoke billowed on the screen behind her. Ultimately, though, this song lacked a moment that could help it stand out in a strong field.