First debuting in the contest in 1958, Sweden have gone on to secure a total of six wins (second highest behind Ireland’s seven wins) and 24 Top Five finishes - a true powerhouse of the Contest. They are also the country who gave us ABBA (to which we are ETERNALLY grateful).
This year, John Lundvik has been tasked with representing Sweden in Tel Aviv, Israel with the song Too Late For Love. Lundvik was chosen to be the representative by virtue of his victory in Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s annual music show. Lundvik had previously entered Melfest in 2018, finishing a comfortable third overall with his song My Turn.
His victory enters the Swedish history books as being the first Melfest act to secure 12 points from each of the international jurors - not even Loreen or Måns were able to accomplish that…and they STILL took out the competition in 2012 and 2015 respectively. Does that say much about Lundvik’s chances? Let’s see.
Too Late For Love can be described as an empowering gospel track emphasising themes of love and acceptance. The song initially starts off slow, breaks into a massive chorus, but then quickly returns back to low energy second verse. The reversal back is unexpected and perhaps ruins the momentum built, but in any case, the song continues to go from strength to strength from that point.
The highlight of the song, I believe, is the reveal of the four gospel backing vocalists towards the end. The backing vocalists, as well as Lundvik, are all POC, which is always a good thing to see, particularly since the world of ESC can often be lacking that kind of representation. The interactions between Lundvik and the gospel choir is beautiful and touching because it is very palpable to the viewers, live and through the television, that they are all having the time of their life on that stage, which is very infectious! You can’t help being endeared to them!
In saying all that, it is important to mention the backlash facing Melfest and Sweden as a whole. Sweden as of late has been accused of sending contemporary, generic, jury-friendly songs sung by men. 2014 was the last year Sweden sent a woman (Sanna Nielsen with the fabulous Undo) and since then, the top two finishers in the Melfest final have all been male. We saw the tide beginning to turn against Sweden last year, when Benjamin Ingrosso came 4th last with the televoters. Is this an indication that Sweden needs to change up its formula? Will John Lundvik be caught up in it? My answer is "yes" to both (to an extent!), but all shall be revealed in a fortnight’s time!
Personally, I’ve placed it 9th out of 41 - I quite enjoy the song! I find it to be joyous and uplifting without being too saccharine. I expect it will do very well both in its semi and the grand final and seeing how it swept the juries in Melfest, you’d be a brave person to discount this song’s prospects of victory. We could definitely be looking at a Gothenburg 2020!
Another exciting tidbit: Lundvik also has the honour of being the first Eurovision act to compete against his own song in the same contest, having written the UK entry Bigger Than Us to be performed by Michael Rice.