We’re now entering the most chaotic period for Eurovision pre-selection betting as Melodifestivalen hots up alongside the many other nations choosing their representative for Tel Aviv.
Over the last two years I’ve been fairly vocal about the failings of the Melfest app vote, which lessens the divergence between each song, thus giving more power to the juries whose scores tend to focus on 3-4 songs. To his credit, Melfest Executive Producer, Christer Björkman, has changed the app and jury voting for this year’s final. Likewise, the beating heart symbol will be less obvious to TV viewers, instead switching colour to illustrate the dominant age group voting for a particular song. This is a positive change, and in my opinion, restores the balance between the public and jury weighting.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of the main players in each heat:
Heat 1: Gothenburg – Feb 2nd
- Nano – Chasing Rivers
- High15 – No Drama
- Wiktoria – Not With Me
- Zeana feat. Anis don Demina – Mina bränder
- Arja Saijonmaa – Mina fyra årstider
- Mohombi – Hello
- Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes
I’ve found that watching the artists’ press conference videos provides an interesting glimpse into their own expectations. Surprisingly Wiktoria implied she wasn’t in it to win it, which might explain her less than ideal running order slot. That’s not to say she can’t qualify direkt till final [DTF], it just makes it incredibly tricky to stand out with a ballad knowing there are great songs opening and closing this heat. Also, will her fanbase like her doing a ballad? The 22-year old is one of four artists with one or both of ‘the Debs’ in their writing team.
Nano boasts four Eurovision-winning songwriters in his camp: the Debs , G:son  & Cabble  – great things are expected and Nano really should be one of three acts vying for a DTF slot! Nano reported that Chasing Rivers will be a faster Hold On, which topped the public vote in 2017.
Mohombi truly is an established global star with one of his songs boasting over 175-million views on YouTube. Hello is written by the Debs, G:son, Alexandru Florin Cotoi and Mohombi and is reported to be mid-tempo. That is different to what I would to expect from the Grammy award winner given his traditional musical style. That’s risky given who follows him! Zeana feat. Anis don Demina, on the other hand, are bringing the party with a mixture of high-energy and rap. Mina bränder will be fun and bright and could cause all sorts of problems for the mid-pack.
My better judgement advised me to back Anna Bergendhal when first announced. Something told me that there’s no way she would return to Melfest to make up the numbers. Lo and behold, she said Ashes to Ashes is an amazing song in her press conference and has been rewarded the heat 1 pimp slot by Christer. It’s worth noting that the heat 1 pimp slot has won the televote for the last two years. It’s also fairly clear that Anna Bergendhal is the only artist with a PR narrative going into this year’s heat. One to watch, but wouldn’t touch current prices.
Heat 2: Malmö – Feb 9th
- Andreas Johnson – Army of Us
- Malou Prytz – I Do me
- Oscar Enestad – I Love It
- Jan Malmsjö – Leva livet
- Vlad Reiser – Nakna i regnet
- Hanna Fern & LIAMOO – Hold You
- Margaret – Tempo
The Hanna & LIAMOO duet is the most interesting prospect in this lineup and there’s a real sense that Hold You could be the real pimp slot in heat 2. They held back in the press conference, so it was difficult to gauge their true feelings about the song and each other. Interestingly, one of their writers, Fredrik Sonefors, was responsible for Emmelie de Forest’s Rainmaker – a great song – and a number of Måns Zelmerlöw’s album songs. Jimmy Janson’s inclusion suggests some upbeat elements.
As I’ve mentioned above, the press conferences can reveal an awful lot. Margaret, returning for the second time said she wasn’t interested in Eurovision. Yes. She said that. Margaret also has Jimmy Janson in her writing team alongside Anderz Wrethov, who produced Cool Me Down. There’s also a link to Zibbz (ESC2018) with Laurell Barker. I can’t help but feel that Margaret has been helped with this slot. Likely a DTF, though probably very close.
Andreas Johnson is in the Martin Almgren heat-opening-slot and also enters a pop-rock arena song. Martin was able to rely on his Idol voters, whereas Andreas has struggled in recent years, failing to qualify in 2015 and losing his andra chansen duel in 2012. The age-range app voting might work in his favour if his song is strong enough, however I feel Oscar Enestad will be pivotal in deciding if Andreas makes andra chansen. Oscar says his song is very personal, though surprisingly upbeat. I can’t say I rated the FO&O boys that highly, yet Felix surprised last year and Oscar’s solo material has been more than capable, albeit somewhat lacking a mainstream sound. Oscar should be in contention for the second qualification slot with andra chansen a worthy fallback in this competitive heat.
The wildcards are YouTube star, Vlad Reiser, 86-year old Jan Malmsjö and 15-year old Malou Prytz. The latter has an amazing vocal and shows maturity beyond her years on stage. I Do Me is a pop song written by Isa Tengblad and three lesser known writers. I have to admit that her chances of making andra chasen are slim but I just had to flag up the vocal. Vlad Reiser or Jam Malmsjö are more likely, however more intel is required from the press screening.
Heat 3: Leksand – Feb 16th
- The Lovers of Valdaro – Somebody Wants
- Dolly Style – Habibi
- Martin Stenmarck – Låt skiten brinna
- Lina Hedlund – Victorious
- Omar – Om igen
- Rebecka Karlsson – Who I am
- Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken
On the face of it, heat 3 seems entirely built around getting Jon Henrik Fjällgren to the final. Whether or not that is deserved remains to be seen. The 31-year old is still a televote darling having recently won Let’s Dance, Sweden’s take on the UK’s Strictly Come Dancing franchise. Fjällgren described his song as being more happy and having a rhythm, and with Kempe and Kreuger in the writing team, a strong chorus-led song is a certainty. Fjällgren will be hoping for a return to the top-3 in the final.
Outside of Fjällgren, Idol 2016 runner up, Rebecka Karlsson, and Alcazar’s Lina Hedlund should be vying for the other qualification slots. Karlsson has a cracking vocal and is reportedly singing a mid-tempo pop song. Hedlund will default to pop-schlager, which could work well for the app vote. I suspect Omar and Stenmarck will be in the mix too, though I’m rather uncertain about Omar’s vote appeal. His song, Om Igen, has a Caribbean/Latin vibe. The ex-FO&O singer still has to be respected, as I’m sure his target is make andra chansen as a minimum.
I will not be watching this heat as it’s my birthday.
Heat 4: Lidköping – Feb 23rd
- Pagan Fury – Stormbringer
- Anton Hagman – Känner dig
- Lisa Ajax – Torn
- Arvingarna – I Do
- Bishara – On My Own
- Ann-Louise Hanson – Kärleken finns kvar
- John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
Never underestimate Sweden’s love for dansband, which could thrust Arvingarna into the top-2 DTF places. Nanne Grönvall is in the writing team, so expect a catchy chorus!
Pagan Fury provide an interesting and unique opening, and depending on the song quality, they could be capable of nicking an andra chansen slot. Anton Hagman will be using this heat to relaunch his career. Lisa Ajax, was a surprise name and she did intimate she returned because of the song – is Björkman playing with the running order? YouTube singer, Bishara, is an interesting prospect in the sense that he has the Frans slot. Björkman did say there were strong ballads in the mix this year, so Bishara could surprise – either him or Ajax.
Having qualified from the coffin slot last year, John Lundvik earned his pimp slot. He describes Too Late for Love as starting slow and gradually building in tempo which might not be the best format when considering Eurovision. His writing team Anderz Wrethov (Cool Me Down) and Andreas “Stone” Johansson (Running with Lions) look more than capable of delivering a suitable show closer. Last year John finished a distant 3rd with the juries, so he will be hoping for a more contemporary track to make up the deficit. However, I tend to think Lundvik is just a competent show closer rather than credible winner.
It’s an open year on paper with little pre-show buzz. My only investments to date have been on Anna Bergendhal to win and qualify with some small stakes value bets elsewhere to provide trading opportunities. Beyond that I have no interest at current odds and find myself frustrated at the lack of liquidity on Betfair and high street offering. Nevertheless, that will change when the first songs and staging concepts are revealed. Good luck all!