Nordman and Sibel won the Swedish second chance round, but all spotlights are targeting Carola Häggkvist. How did she go from being queen of Melodifestival to being near humiliated and having a glorious career thrown in pieces?
Two songs managed to beat their opponents in the direct shootout duels in the Swedish second chance round held last night, but you will have to search a long time in the Swedish medias to find their names. For someone not understanding Swedish one might assume that the couple Andreas Johnson and Carola Häggkvist, or Androla as Aftonbladet.se has renamed them, are the big winners as they walk away with all the headlines. A closer look at the pictures though reveals a couple under so much pressure that years of experience can not keep their disappointment from shining through their eyes.
In these pre selection heats there will always be winners and losers, but somehow this Swedish second chance round appeared to be full with drama. A lot more than usual actually. First Sibel knocked out E-type & The Poodles. Maybe not such a big surprise as their song really does not come across as strong as for example Night Of Passion from the Swedish 2006 final. That Sibel really had a song the Swedes liked was not really clear before she also knocked out Ola who had no problems beating Caracola in his first duel, but Sibel was too much of a challenge for him.
After knocking out Carola and Andreas Johnson Nordman gave us the first drama. Thérèse Andersson gave us the second one when she shortly after appeared to throw a secure victory against Suzie Tapper away. After both had been on stage they met with host Kristian Luuk for a little small talk during the voting time. Thérèse probably didn’t mean to do so, but she clearly offended her opponent by mentioning that she had to be nice to Suzie as she was so much older than her! Suzie’s face expression showed that she was offended and it appeared that the viewers might have changed their vote in favour of Suzie when they heard that remark from Thérèse Andersson. Suzie got all the sympathy, but in her next round against Nordman she didn’t stand a chance.
Nordman and Sibel did well yes, but they drown in all the talk about Carola and Andreas Johnson. They were big favourites and the fact that they didn’t qualify directly for the final, but were placed in this second chance round just appeared to be a minor detail for the bookmakers who still had faith in them ending up winning the whole thing. With their experience, their glorious past and their many fans this second chance round should just have been a little bump on the way to destination Globen – and they knew it. The second they realised that they had crashed they knew which questions were awaiting them and more importantly then they knew that they wouldn’t be able to answer the million dollar question “why”.
It all started out so well as they had clearly worked on the performance that didn’t quite work in their semi-final. At that time they appeared having big problems sharing the stage with each other and being too individual. Last night they did what they were supposed to do: sing a duet. They gave each other space and were still able to get together as a couple when needed. The song came across a lot stronger and nothing indicated that a big drama was about to take place. Nordman did well yes, but still; it was Carola he was up against! The queen of Melodifestival who has represented Sweden three times at the Eurovision Song Contest and even won it. And with Andreas Johnson, who had it written in his stars that he would soon be winning, by her side, Nordman would under normal circumstances have been chanceless in a direct duel.
But things were not as they use to be; something had changed. When forced to answer Carola decided to stick to her answer from the semi-final: that maybe people were getting a bit tired of Andreas and her and wanted to see some new names. The last does not really fit with the fact that many “old” names did what she and Andreas couldn’t do and this really isn’t the first time we see Nordman in a Swedish selection either – but she might just be right about the first part. Both Aftonbladet.se and Expressen.se are asking their readers about the result and the Swedes seem to agree that Nordman and Sibel really deserves their places in the final. In Aftonbladet’s forum many readers concludes that the song, One Love, simply wasn’t good enough, but many others are directly blaming Carola by stating that she appears to self-concentrated and that she has unrightfully been placed so high on the pedestal that it hurts very deeply when people realise that she is just human and not any better than most of its kind.
Right now Carola is clearly indicating that her time in Melodifestival is over. We all know that these things are said in a heated moment and might change later, but for now it appears that she first needs to get her career back on track. Bert Karlsson, owner and manager of the famous Swedish record company; Mariann Grammofon AB, directly says that Carola is going to need help after this. In an interview with Expressen.se thinks that Carola did well in Saturday’s second chance show, but “she must take some of the blame herself as one has to listen to and understand the signals”. Bert admits that right now Carola’s career appears to be torn apart, but he believes she can come back: “If she gets some really good material the next time, it is possible. One is never better than the last song”. He continues though: “Now she needs a good adviser, someone she can trust and who is not afraid to speak his mind to her”.
Will Carola be able to walk away from this crash with only a small amount of bruises or will the injuries be of such a character that it needs more than just a couple of months rest? Only time will tell – but one thing is sure: Carola Häggkvist will not be representing Sweden at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest nor will we have the dream final with two former Eurovision winners participating.