Sweden prepares for showdown

by Richard West-Soley 54 views

The running order has been drawn and the ten qualifying acts have entered the final week leading up to the grand final of Melodifestivalen 2006 this Saturday, seeing not only rehearsals but an album launch event for one contestant, Linda Bengtzing. After four qualifier heats and a second chance round, the nation is almost ready to pick Martin Stenmarck's successor and try to put Sweden back on top in Athens.

The songs will be performed as follows on Saturday:

1. Sing for me – Andreas Johnson
2. Älskar du livet – Björn Kjellman
3. Jag ljuger så bra – Linda Bengtzing
4. Night of Passion – The Poodles
5. Lev livet – Magnus Carlsson
6. Mama take me home – Rednex
7. Evighet – Carola
8. The name of love – Magnus Bäcklund
9. Idag og imorgon – Kikki Danielsson
10. Temple of love – BWO

Two former Eurovision Song Contest performers come together during the evening in the guise of Carola and Kikki Danielsson. Carola won Melodifestivalen in 1983 and 1991, and took the grand prix at the international final in 1991. Kikki represented Sweden on home ground in 1985.

An internet poll by the newspaper Aftonbladet showed the hugely popular Carola poised to take the prize according to visitors, who voted her as the current favourite by a wide margin. There is still everything to play for, however, as it will be down to jurors and televoters on Saturday to decide who will represent Sweden. Surprises are plenty at national selections, and there is every reason to believe that the strong field will result in a close finish.

Double celebration for Linda
Tonight sees a double dose of excitement for contender Linda Bengtzing, who not only celebrates her birthday, but also the release of her new album Ingenting att förlora (Nothing to lose) tonight. Tonight's launch party saw the album showcased as Linda herself lumbers up for Saturday's showdown, already a favourite amongst many fans with her entry Jag ljuger så bra. The function was well-attended, with several Melodifestivalen stars present to show their support for both her album and upcoming appearance in Saturday's show, although rival favourites Carola, BWO and Andreas Johnson were not present.

Whoever wins will have last year's disappointing result at the Eurovision Song Contest to undo by successfully passing through the international qualifier in Athens. Because of Martin Stenmarck's low placing, Sweden finds itself in the preliminary round for the first time.

Tune in to the Melodifestivalen final this Saturday from 20:00 CET.

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Richard West-Soley

Senior Editor

Richard's ESC history began way back in 1992, when he discovered the contest could fuel his passion for music and languages. Since then, it's been there at every corner for him in some way or another. He joined the esctoday.com team back in 2006, and quickly developed a love for writing about the contest. In his other life, he heads the development team at the learning resources company Linguascope, and writes about all aspects of language learning on the site Polyglossic.com.