Melodifestivalen 2019 has seen the introduction of a new scoring system to reduce the power of the juries which was analysed here last year. SVT has reduced the number of jurors to eight, while splitting the televote into age groups. Each of the eight age groups will have equal weighting thus increasing the %age of divergence between each act when the overall result is presented. Melfest has returned to a truly 50:50 scoring system.
The lineup for this year’s final is as follows:
- Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken
- Lisa Ajax – Torn
- Mohombi – Hello
- Lina Hedlund – Victorious
- Bishara – On My Own
- Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes
- Nano – Chasing Rivers
- Hanna & Liamoo – Hold You
- Malou – I Do Me
- John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
- Wiktoria – Not with Me
- Arvingarna – I Do
Once again we have the same derivative drivel which has seriously tested my patience this year. High 15 in heat 1 was the ultimate slap in the face to music, with their song consisting of two former Debs-written entries stitched together to form the musical equivalent to Frankenstein’s monster. Utter trash. But then we’ve also had to endure Mohombi’s inferior reworking of Måns’ projection concept, Fjällgren thinking that after three attempts the juries might buy into his joiking, Nano returning with an even worse Rag’n’Bone Man pastiche and many other B-list boys clinging to their shaky careers with Z-list pop. *and breathe*
There are several songs the juries should get behind to varying degrees in terms of what typically constitutes a Eurovision box-ticking performance. If the representatives are in line with previous years, then we’ll have a few heads of delegation familiar with what constitutes a solid Eurovision song. Originality will come into play along with hit potential, performance quality and impact.
This year’s juries are as follows:
- United Kingdom
John Lundvik has pretty much come from nowhere in this contest having not previously been considered prior to the live shows. It was 2015 when the heat 4 pimp slot successfully translated into a victory and the assumption was that Björkman may have been mixing things up again. It was also assumed that Ajax, Bishara and the voting strength of Arvingarna might count against Lundvik if he was returning with another dated stock-ballad. As it turned out, he rocked up in Lidköping with a meaty gospel-backed pop-ballad topped with some of the finest charisma this year.
Too Late for Love isn’t that great in studio form, yet it comes alive when performed on stage. The heart-warming chemistry and simple charm and enjoyment on display really sells the song – it’s like John is performing at his own concert! Moreover, all of the vocals for John’s performance were 100% live.
That confident performance resulted in John’s odds crashing to circa 1.6 on the exchange. At the time of writing he is 3rd on the Sverigetopplistan, the highest placing of all Melodifestivalen 2019 songs. Adding to that achievement, the 36-year old has topped the Spotify daily chart since last Sunday. This is the reason John is the market leader.
Behind John in the market, Hanna Ferm & LIAMOO are hoping their take on Azerbaijan’s Running Scared is enough to win over juries. My immediate response to Hold You was negative, whereas Too Late for Love hit me first time. I found the vocals were right on the edge of falling apart, with LIAMOO sounding particularly uncomfortable singing in a lower register. The vocals also lacked clarity during the first chorus, and again, I think LIAMOO is the weak link.
Another disappointment is the chemistry during the first half: they don’t own the stage or the song. They lack the fight and determination to carry what is a credible and contemporary entry, if not rather Eurovision-by-numbers. There’s a moment at 1:13 when they hold hands and Hanna looks like she’s leaning back away from LIAMOO – that moment should sizzle, but in the end it doesn’t and it further confirms the impression that the chemistry isn’t entirely authentic. 1:50 onwards is very good, but the second chorus ends too abruptly into the middle-eight. Again the imagery and interaction doesn’t sizzle until the last 20-seconds or so. Even then LIAMOO doesn’t appear entirely cut out for this sort of performance.
The duo debuted at no.7 on the Sverigetopplistan, one place below Bishara. On Spotify they’ve been around 20,000 daily streams adrift of John Lundvik. There is absolutely no doubt these two are popular, though along with Fjällgren, they benefitted from an easy passage to the final. The juries should score the song well, it’s just that nagging doubt questioning whether the juries will also find parts of this performance somewhat stilted.
Slightly adrift from the two favourites, Bishara starts from slot 5 which hasn’t yielded a winner since 1984 (Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley). Bishara is a great singer, nevertheless his performance is typical given his lack of experience: he grunts his lyrics and the overall delivery and projection is naive and rough around the edges when compared to the other more skilled competitors. His song, On My Own, is rather dated, and in my opinion, the juries will recognise its frailties when it comes to Eurovision.
Entering the Sverigetopplistan at no.6, as well as maintaining a top-5 Spotify position is impressive and demonstrates the level of interest in this 16-year old. Even so, I simply cannot consider him a threat to the main challengers.
Drifting out to 20/1+, Wiktoria is going for third time lucky with her somewhat anonymous ballad. That has been the criticism from day 1: that Not With Me is largely unremarkable and is only enhanced by a water feature and Wiktoria’s name recognition. What’s more, the arm movements during the verses are too contrived and doesn’t flow with the music. It’s only when the power hits that Wiktoria reaches the performance level we know she’s capable of.
If the juries do get behind a ballad, it’ll be this one and I’m not anticipating a vote split with Lisa Ajax either. However, in the context of Eurovision, Not With Me is about as voteable as Maria Elena Kyriakou’s One Last Breath which actually had a lot more impact. Hopefully the juries will recognise that. The televote should remain quite friendly to Wiktoria, especially in slot 11.
Wiktoria entered the Sverigetopplistan at no.20 and is currently 7th on the Spotify daily chart. These aren’t the stats of a winner, but then stranger things have happened.
A potential wildcard comes in the form of Anna Stjernbe… sorry Anna Bergendahl. She started the contest as market leader and was probably very close to qualifying direkt from heat 1. Even so, her Göteborg performance appeared stiff and slightly nervy. However, in Nyköping she was a woman transformed like she had nothing left to prove. The lighting at the start of the song was less gloomy and Anna genuinely looked like she was enjoying her performance. Ashes to Ashes is your typical jury bait song, especially during the outro when the sprite/firefly graphic overlay is deployed. If there is to be another Robin Stjernberg moment in Melfest history, Anna is the most likely candidate this year. Before andra chansen, Anna was 29th on the Spotify chart and has since risen to 12th at the time of writing and is enjoying a whole heap of radio play in Sweden along with Lundvik. It will be interesting to see this Friday’s Sverigetopplistan chart!
Last up, Mohombi has been yo-yoing between 20/1-30/1 even though he has been dumped in slot 3 which last delivered a winner in 1993 when a certain Christer Björkman went to Eurovision. It’s worth watching the recap video above and noticing how Lina sucks the life out of Mohombi’s song, and even though Victorious is inferior, I believe this running order clash will have an impact.
The staging concept is from the same people behind Heroes yet it lacks the same level of charm. The reveal of the woman is a nice touch but it ultimately fails to wow. Mohombi isn’t as vocally secure as his opponents either and Hello is a rather plastic-y song.
Mohombi entered the Sverigetopplistan at no.15 and is presently 4th on the Spotify daily chart.
Based on the above, this is my 1-12:
- John Lundvik
- Hanna & Liamoo
- Anna Bergendahl
- Jon Henrik Fjällgrenn
- Lisa Ajax
- Lina Hedlund
It’s difficult to know how the age-group splits will affect the vote on Saturday. The idea is to work out which act pleases the widest demographic and work from there, while also considering how the jury will rank their favourites.
The market reckons John Lundvik is the most likely winner and I have to concur with that. His live performance is the most professional in this year’s lineup, and even though it is choreographed (they all are), it appears way more natural than his fellow finalists. Circa 1.55 does seem a tad short at this point.
I have struggled to decide the rest of my top-3. Wiktoria and Hanna & LIAMOO were in the original version, and even though I believe Sweden has a lot of affection for Wiktoria, I just can’t help feeling that the public also loves Anna’s song with some momentum building from andra chansen. As mentioned earlier, Anna Bergendahl is capable of causing an upset if the conditions permit. Wiktoria’s song does have impact from slot 11, but Anna’s song is credible and magnificently staged. Anna would require a serious malfunction from one of the other favourites to emulate Stjernberg; nevertheless, she should be one of the jury darlings on Saturday.
Bishara is nice but too amateurish, and along with Mohombi, has been hampered with a less than ideal slot in the running order. The contrast in being followed by Anna will make it easier for juries to notice his frailties.
The Arvingarna pimp slot should see them ranked higher than the disappointing Fjällgren with juries giving the vintage Eurovision contestants some recognition. Note that the UK is represented on the international jury again and it’s another opportunity for resident clown, Simon Proctor, to dish out 12-points to the most left field song. Below these two the rankings are quite fluid, though Lina does have the stench of a classic last place.
There won’t be a Melfest final podcast from us, and due to time constraints going forward, it is unlikely the Melfest podcasts will continue beyond this year. Thanks for listening over the last 5-years and do keep coming back to read future preview articles.