Sweden’s Eurovision 2017 Entry

Robin Bengtsson has won Melodifestivalen and will represent Sweden at Eurovision with “I Can’t Go On.”

Bengtsson finished third in Sweden’s Idol 2008 and has gone on to have top 10 hits with “Another Lover’s Gone” and “Constellation Prize,” with which he placed fifth in last year’s Melodifestivalen. “I Can’t Go On” was written by David Kreuger, Hamed “K-One” Pirouzpanah and Robin Stjernberg. Stjernberg represented Sweden with “You” at the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. Kreuger and Pirouzpanah co-wrote “Undo” for Sanna Nielsen, as well as Alcazar’s “Blame It On the Disco.”

We have complex feelings about “I Can’t Go On.” It’s smooth and catchy, and it’s elevated by the staging, which starts off all Justin Timberlake backstage at Saturday Night Live and then gets all OK GO’s “Here It Goes Again.”

However, “I Can’t Go On” is not without its flaws. It is a triumph of style over substance. As such, Bengtsson needs to perform it as stylishly as possible or else it comes off as a bit smarmy and exposes the inherent mediocrity of the song.

In particular, the original lyric contained the line “when you look this fucking beautiful,” which was repeated 10 times during its first performance. (It’s so cute when Swedes swear in English.) Seemingly realizing he had a shot to win, Bengtsson changed the lyric for the Melodifestivalen final to “when you look this freaking beautiful.” It’s not an improvement by any stretch of the imagination, but the songwriters had painted themselves into a corner with a needless swear word that added nothing to the song. We’re not prudes, by the way. We just didn’t see the fucking point of the original lyric.

Bengtsson was behind in the betting odds going into the Melodifestivalen final and it always felt like he was a part of the conversation without ever being anyone’s outright favorite. In the end, he finished third in the televote and only got the full 12 points from three of the 11 international juries. However, he did get eight to 12 points from all but two of the juries. People like to focus on the douze points at Eurovision, but the key to doing well is getting those mid-to-upper range of points. The results of Melodifestivalen prove that in microcosm, which is convenient for us since Eurovision now uses the Melodifestivalen scoring system.

We’re not saying that “I Can’t Go On” is your next Eurovision winner. There are a lot of stronger songs in the Song Contest this year. But there weren’t a lot of stronger songs or better performances at Melodifestivalen this year and that was good enough for Bengtsson to book a ticket to Kyiv.

2 thoughts on “Sweden’s Eurovision 2017 Entry”

  1. Actually, I was rooting for Robin from the moment I saw his performance on YouTube (not a Swede, but chose to follow Melodifestivalen this year). I felt like he had the most complete package of all the finalists (I really liked Mariette and Jon & Aninia as well though). “I can’t go on” is hella catchy, slick, dare I say sexy, and Robin’s got this cool air of detachment that kind of works. My only concern at this point is his staging. Melodifestivalen allows prerecorded vocal tracks, whereas Eurovision, obviously, doesn’t. To these ears, the song sounds like it could use at least two back up singers, but then he can’t keep all four dancers. He could suck it up, keep the Melfest staging and just sing everything alone, but Gaitana did that in 2012 and we know how well that went. But if he adds singers then the staging will suffer, because it’ll look super lame with only two dancers, or even more super lame with three (though this may just be my symmetry-loving self talking). I’m worried that they might have to redo everything from scratch, and the treadmills were part of what made it great in the first place.

    Having said that, this is Sweden we’re talking about. I’m confident they’ll pull it off. He’s pretty much guaranteed to make it into the final and I think the Swedes are looking at another strong top 5 finish in Kyiv.

    (Let me just add that I adore this site and eagerly await every bit of new content to devour. Well done and keep up the good work.)

    1. Hi someguy, thanks for the commment!

      Assuming nothing unusual about the backstage in Kyiv, we think this staging should be able to be exported without major changes. We’re not too worried about the shift to 100% live vocals. Eurovision permits 6 performers. The treadmill choreography is low impact, so replace at least 2 of the dancers with dancers who can sing. Or, the choreo leverages symmetry, perhaps all 4. Add one more singer off stage to double Robin. They will need to change some camera shots to make it work, but the general production design should be okay.

      The other performance issue, in our opinion, is Robin’s attack. Detachment and coolness is fine, but we thought his energy level at MF was too low. We wondered at the time if he had done enough to close the deal. We suspect Christer Björkman will have words.

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