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Melodifestivalen 2019: Final Preview

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:

  1. Jon Henrik Fjällgren – Norrsken
  2. Lisa Ajax – Torn
  3. Mohombi – Hello
  4. Lina Hedlund – Victorious
  5. Bishara – On My Own
  6. Anna Bergendahl – Ashes to Ashes
  7. Nano – Chasing Rivers
  8. Hanna & Liamoo – Hold You
  9. Malou – I Do Me
  10. John Lundvik – Too Late for Love
  11. Wiktoria – Not with Me
  12. 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:

  • Portugal
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Cyprus
  • France
  • Finland
  • United Kingdom
  • Israel

The Contenders:

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:

  1. John Lundvik
  2. Hanna & Liamoo
  3. Anna Bergendahl
  4. Wiktoria
  5. Bishara
  6. Mohombi
  7. Arvingarna
  8. Jon Henrik Fjällgrenn
  9. Malou
  10. Lisa Ajax
  11. Nano
  12. Lina Hedlund

Context:

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.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

7 comments

  1. For me the best song and performance by some way is the ‘Rag n Bone Man pastiche’ but you and most of Sweden clearly disagree.

    Wiktoria’s song feels a bit dated and conservative, but it has a strong chorus and she performs the hell out of it. But with the water and the live mic I worry that we might be about to witness the first electrocution in Melodifestivalen history.

    Anna Bergendahl’s song is decent (but no better than 3.5 out of 5) and I can’t say I’m as impressed as you by the staging.

    I really can’t see what all the fuss about John Lundvik is about. On first listen his song did absolutely nothing for me. After a few more listens, I’ll concede the chorus is good, but I still can’t get a handle on the verses at all.

    Whoever wins (Jon Henrik Fjallgren apart) I expect in Tel Aviv, Sweden will get its usual good jury score only to be dragged down by the televote. I don’t remotely see a Eurovision winner among the Melfest contenders.

  2. A pretty unremarkable selection, in my humble opinion.

    But the performance which annoys me the most is Hanna and LIAMOO. It could have been a decent song indeed with other singers. But with these performers, it is just a rare amount of plastic. There’s plastic in the backdrop, plastic in their face expression, plastic in (lack of any) chemistry.

    Now I get it that Hanna is only 17 and legally a child, so LIAMOO had to be on his best behaviors. Plus, judging by the introduction of the 3 to 9 voting segment, Swedish toddlers and their stuffed teddies are watching the Melfest intently. So I get it, there will be no sex on stage. But then maybe at least some emotions?

    John Lundvik will traditionally pick up some jury votes but the televote will put him well under Michael Rice. And I do not remember the rest.

    Did the Melfest golden time come to its end?

  3. For me, the best option is Wiktoria. She is beautiful, the act contains hooks. The song is not very good, but who is a good song on this show?

    John Lundvik is also annoying as Ingrosso. When their faces are shown in close-ups, and they look at the camera, there should be contact with the viewer, but I only hate it. In addition, his act is static, as with Ingrosso.

    I think Malou will do well. Her presentation on stage at such a young age is amazing. And I think Lina Hedlund will do well in televoting.

    And I don’t believe in Hanna & LIAMOO and Anna Bergendahl.

  4. Pretty weak selection from Sweden. It is Lundvik’s to lose in my opinion but there is nothing here that justifies Sweden’s odds in the ESC outright but I’ll leave that for now.
    Lundvik’s song is jury bait and is going down the best with the Swedish public so is a worthy favourite.

    Hanna Ferm is far superior to Liamoo who is really letting the side down, both vocally and visually, whilst the staging is very naff by Swedish standards.

    Bishara just isn’t that good at all. The juries will kill any chance of his and I also don’t imagine the televote split will help him much either.

    Wiktoria is the main threat to Lundvik and should be closer than the odds suggest. I don’t see Lundvik being that far ahead, if at all, from her on the juries so it might come down to performance on the night to if she can pip him on the televote.

    Anna Bergendahl will get a middling score from both televote and jury I think which probably won’t be enough for a top 3.

    Finally I somewhat agree with Eurojock that Nano has by far the strongest song here but is really poor live and whilst supposed to be uplifting, the staging is so dark for way too long and cluttered. Sweden doesn’t go for this sort of fare.

    Top 3 prediction:

    1- John Lundvik
    2- Wiktoria
    3- Hanna Ferm and Liamoo

  5. I think Anna would have been in to win it with better staging. The song is the best in this year’s line up but the staging doesnt suit it. Very static and boring, it would fit a slow ballad way more.
    Now I think John Lundvik has it in the bag. Juries will adore it and as there arent real favourites this year, there are going to be small differences between the televote scores and the juries will have the bigger say again. John is going to do great in the televote too so nothing can really stop him.

  6. When the bad joke about Sweden’s overall Eurovision odds is going to end?

  7. I don’t really have anything to add in terms of analysis, it’s a pretty sad looking lineup and I also don’t understand the short odds on Sweden for Eurovision. Usually I find it a little hard to judge how Sweden’s entries will fare after following Melodifestivalen so closely but I would be very surprised if Sweden (Lundvik) finishes in 3rd, its current betting position. I’d be happily laying it for the top places if liquidity wasn’t an issue at this stage.

    Lundvik is quite obviously the clear winner barring some kind of jury revolt. It’s a bit of a tongue in cheek suggestion but the ex-Eurovision participants (Dana International and Krista this year) haven’t given max points to the jury winner in the last few years, Simon Proctor is the ever-present wildcard and there’s no Klitos this year! Having said that, I do actually expect John to win both jury and televote. The one song I hope juries do punish though is Hold You. It looks like the poor taste that Swedish televoters have will prevail sadly so I hope the juries recognise that it’s trying too hard. The staging is bizarre, there’s more romance and chemistry between Jon Henrik & Reindeer and Mohombi & Woman than Hanna & Liamoo, and the song itself just isn’t for me. Wiktoria and Anna are my #2 and #3 although this may be just down to my dislike for Hold You. I’ll write the rest of the entries off for top 3 but Bishara would be the one that could do it, if any. The lyrics make no sense for someone his age but the cute kid factor could draw in the older voters and their assumed greater vote weight.

    What I’m most interested in is seeing how the new age categories for voting affects the results. It’s already overturned 2 positions in the heats I think and SVT used some careful language when introducing it. They stressed that had it been introduced last year, it would not have changed the eventual winner or those who made it to the final. That says nothing about the finishing positions from 2-12 though or the extent of its impact. We know that 60% of 15 year olds vote compared to 10% of over 50s, according to SVT, which would suggest a song favoured by older voters could benefit in a close race. That shouldn’t really apply this year but hopefully we can assess the exact impact, if any, the new voting system has.

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