ESC 2017 Review: Sweden – I Can’t Do This Again

A bit of a disappointing Melodifestivalen this year led to this extremely formulaic entry from Sweden.

These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.

Country: Sweden
Artist: Robin Bengtsson
Song Title: I Can’t Go On
My Ranking: 19th (out of 43)
Semi Final: 1st Semi Final
Final placement prediction: 9 of 26

SWEDEN! I don’t love Sweden. It’s not Sweden’s fault (it’s totally Sweden’s fault). Sweden has won Eurovision 6 times and is coming up fast on Ireland’s record of 7 wins. In the last two decades alone Sweden has won three times and while they deserved those three wins, you can argue that Sweden has won more times than that because Swedish composers and lyricists basically write songs for half the contestants. I get it, you want the best song from the best country so your country will win and there are no rules against this but unfortunately it’s why I can’t love this song. You see, this song is Sweden. This years Melodifestivalen more than the past few years highlighted the problem I’ve been having for the past 5-6 years with Sweden. Anything even remotely outside of the box gets swatted away. The second problem is how perfectly polished all the songs are but I’ll tackle that in a bit.

First off we have Robin Bengtsson throwing his hat in for Eurovision this year. The 26 year old hit the stage in Sweden on the show Idol 2008, placing third behind people whose names I vaguely know which is always a good sign. He’s also had a legitimate music career out of the Idol circuit with 3 singles charting in Sweden before “I Can’t Go On”. Robin also has a young son at home who watches him on TV but other than that I couldn’t find anything of real substance about him on the English part of the internet.

The song itself is fine. It is an ear worm written by the teams behind Sweden’s 2013 and 2014 entries (you may note those were not winning years for Sweden). The vocals have some challenging parts but based on both the Melodifestivalen live and the lives we’ve seen at pre-parties, like Russia last year, he’ll be backed up on the most difficult parts as to mask his struggling vocals. The lyrics originally contained “fucking beautiful” which concerns me on a number of levels. In the same way that “I Don’t Give a Fuck” was somehow supposed to win and go on to Eurovision knowing full well you can’t really say “the fuck word” (in the words of Loreen) at the contest. At the end of the day if you really wanted to go to Eurovision, why bother writing the song that way?

The real problem I have is that this song is so Sweden that is it the song form of plastic. It’s over tuned, it’s overwrought, and it’s polished within an inch of its life. The funniest part is that because it’s SO polished it comes out to me as kind of bland. Robin often looks bored preforming it and everyone I’ve talked to has told me they remembered how hot he was instead of the actual song. This can get you pretty far but never really to the top. The song itself is like a mix between “Blurred Lines” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling”. The staging a mix of Ok Go’s “Here It Goes Again” and literally any music video with a white guy pretending he can dance to a soulful song.

And it works. I hate to admit how much it works. The staging is so slick and polished that the performance seems like it will do very well. It will qualify extremely easily given Sweden’s neutral political position and strong voting bloc along with his good looks and a totally okay song this basically spells instant top 10 for Sweden but I can’t help but kind of hate that about it. It feels undeserved. I know that Sweden will be taking the place of something more unique and interesting that never had a chance (maybe even Portugal or Belarus). Many of the countries with songs produced by Swedish composers have better and more interesting arrangements as well so for a lot of complex reasons I have some issues with the song both as a song and its place among all the other entries.

In terms of staging though I don’t want people to point at their crotch during any part of the dance and if they could just not do that it’d be awesome. But I can’t go on any further with this song and it won’t be on my playlist after this year – no matter how spot on his plastic is.

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