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Sweden: John Lundvik – Too Late For Love

Melodifestivalen 2019 is over and John Lundvik has won by a massive margin with his song Too Late for Love. As ever the Swedish entry divides opinion in the comments section and the Betfair market with plenty of opposition on both sides. When I saw the rehearsal snippet of John Lundvik I knew it would be the eventual winner: it just had that special ingredient called charisma. Swedish entries are often called out for being too cold and calculating, no more so than in the esctips reviews, but then one has to recognise that Melodifestivalen is a mini-Eurovision in terms…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal

Too Great

John has proven to be popular with international Melfest juries and is able to emotionally connect with TV viewers

User Rating: 3.65 ( 113 votes)

Melodifestivalen 2019 is over and John Lundvik has won by a massive margin with his song Too Late for Love.

As ever the Swedish entry divides opinion in the comments section and the Betfair market with plenty of opposition on both sides. When I saw the rehearsal snippet of John Lundvik I knew it would be the eventual winner: it just had that special ingredient called charisma.

Swedish entries are often called out for being too cold and calculating, no more so than in the esctips reviews, but then one has to recognise that Melodifestivalen is a mini-Eurovision in terms of musical quality and production values. This is why the Swedish staging remains the same with only minor tweaks because they perfect everything 2-3 months earlier than most other nations. Therefore, it is no surprise to see fans criticise the douche-y looks to camera and choreography-by-rote. This mechanical approach can fail spectacularly with someone like Ingrosso, as he’s a young, naive performer who doesn’t have the gravitas and maturity to perform beyond the narrow parameters of the programme. Lundvik has broken his programming, and along with his group of gospel singers, exudes a warm sincerity that infects televoters and juries.

Cesár Sampson’s Nobody But You has been cited as the most obvious comparable. Maybe so if all you are comparing is the presence of gospel singers. The songs are miles apart with Nobody but You probably being more chart-worthy. Nevertheless, Eurovision isn’t just a Contest for chart songs, it’s also a Contest for how a performance is delivered to the TV audience, and on that medium, I would argue that John is superior.

Even so, I don’t buy the argument that because Cesár topped the jury vote in Lisbon, John will too. Every Contest has a different set of components and permutations; however, what we do know is that John has proven to be popular with international Melfest juries and is able to emotionally connect with TV viewers – those are the ingredients of a top-5 contender.

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.

36 comments

  1. This was always likely to get a very strong finish, but after tonight this is definitely a serious threat to Netherlands as before tonight I felt the Dutch almost had this in the bag.

    Sweden for me are pretty much a lock for top 3 in the final and considering we have still yet to see Duncan perform his song in a competitive environment, I’m very much thinking the Swedes are right on par for now at least.

  2. You think so Cathal? Come on, John Lundvik was a very clear frontrunner earlyon. I even edited John Lundvik’s song into ‘SWEDEN 2018’, because so certain I was about it.

    I have to say, this year’s MF-lineup was a huge disappointment for me. Juhn Lundvik Always oozed charisma and he clearly stood out in that lineup.

    The whole picture was there in front of you for weeks. We know how the Swedes work, whereas internally chosen entries Always have more uncertaintities written all over it.

    In any case, I am playing ‘Too Late For Love’ a lot these days. Enough said about Sweden: another serious contender for the Eurovision trophy :-).

  3. top 3 locked I think and I wouldnt rule out Sweden for the win either. There are not real competitors this year. I can magine this killing the jury vote…
    If there isnt a clear winner in the televote and the televote scores have small differences, he could totally win the whole thing.

    • Especially given the fact that Russia dissapointed a lot and Duncan doesnt seem a super charismatic performer.

  4. So I have to be the first in the comments to put the downer on this?

    I’ve been more open minded this year given the lack of too much to excite so I’m willing to go along with the “Sweden default win” angle that gets pushed every year more than I usually would be. I find nothing in this however that could come close to getting a strong enough televote score. In fact if it makes it to the televote top 5 it will do very well. This song is formulaic and predictable yet not outstanding and far too Americanised and will struggle to appeal across Europe. Lundvik is a good, charismatic performer, but his and his song’s popularity in Sweden is not indicative of the rest of Europe.
    A top 5 is possible but relies yet again for Sweden, on jury love.
    What I will give Sweden is that this is the most competetive of all the publicly selected songs so at least backers know what they are getting, even if the price is a bit silly.
    Maybe, one year Sweden won’t be overrated in the outright odds

    I will also say that nothing in MF this year was capable of doing much better. Sweden need to spend more time in the studio rather than throwing light shows, holographic projections and flowing shower curtains at album filler. John Lundvik’s winning margin is more due to the deficiencies of the field rather than anything else in my opinion.

    • Well said on the last para, Hippo. Nothing beats Melfest for its Eurovision quality staging, but in my book several national selections – I can think of Portugal, Australia and Hungary – had better songs. Melfest songs were generally bland, emotionless, ‘written by committee’ fare. Apart from Chasing Rivers I wouldn’t have given any of them more than 3.5 stars out of 5.

    • I mostly agree here with you Hippo. One needs to filter out the publicly selected entries (national finals) here from the internally chosen entries I think. What you see with John Lundvik is what you…get. Whatever wins in Melodifestivalen will be a near-identical copy on the Eurovision stage. Lately that works very well for Sweden, especially with the juries.

      But what do televoters do? I think if we compare Sweden and Netherlands with each other, then Sweden has some negatives that for instance Netherlands doesn’t have and vice-versa.

      Yes, charisma-wise, staging-wise, emotions-wise Sweden is a slamdunk hit and, in my opinion, much more sincere when compared with the past two Swedish entries. Staging here only elevates John’s charisma, whereas in 2017 and 2018 they completely overtook everything, including the purity and sincerity of the entries.

      Having said that, I think these are some con’s that could hurt Sweden this year:

      –> *The actual song*:

      I am a sucker for a well-executed soul/gospel pop song. But that’s because I am 37, not 17…or 22. I think the younger audience are perhaps thrilled by John’s performance, but still say “Mehh, this is not a 2019 song” or “Happy, but dated to me”.

      –> *Tiny flaws with emoting*:

      I am not talking about John Lundvik here, he emotes the song perfectly. But there are examples when songs alone do that even better. Think of ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ (Portugal 2017) here. But also ‘City Lights’ (Belgium 2017).

      –> *Modern relevance*:

      It’s interesting to look at social media and YouTube hits in the upcoming weeks. Which is perceived more…modern? More ‘2019’? Not sure if Sweden wins that aspect hands down.

      Those are things to look out for. For now Sweden is a worthy contender for me. But I wouldn’t be in the shoes of a professional better now :-O.

  5. It’s a big lump of cheese but performed with such joy that it’s impossible not to like.

    Juries and televoters will be all over this. It’s Sweden vs Netherlands for me for the win.

  6. Too Late for Love is not to my personal taste. The chorus with the ‘Hear Me!’ hook has grown on me but I’m still not convinced about the versus. It is well performed but the whole thing comes across as a bit well erm ‘plastic’. I particularly detest that cheesy Benjamin Ingrosso sideways glance to the camera.

    Still you can’t argue with a jury landslide and a hefty televote win.

    At Eurovision I think Sweden are going for a repeat of Cesar Sampson with the juries, but I reckon Austria won the jury vote last year because frankly the juries were short of alternatives to vote for. This is less the case this year. Still, Too Late for Love is probably safely jury top 5.

    The televote is a different matter. Soul and gospel are not Eurovision televote staples. I can see a repeat of Sweden’s recent televote results – either mid or low table, which added to their jury score will probably be enough to secure top 5 or top 10.

    Can Sweden win with a song of not much better than average quality which is not a patch on Arcade? In most years I would say no, but this year it can’t be ruled out, particularly as you know Sweden will deliver live while The Netherlands might screw up.

    • As opposed to most recent Melfest entries, John and his backups delivered pure live vocals with no sweetening from the backing tracks. So that’s one anti-Sweden criticism that can’t be leveled this year.

  7. Catriona Colville

    This is just brilliant. Massive smile on my face. The standout chorus of this year’s contest. I’d say Netherlands have serious competition. Especially with a performer THAT engaging.

  8. Nicely crafted and polished piece of music with no risk taken. Reminds me of A Million Voices, Sound of Silence, Beautiful Mess and Nobody but You. The Safe Song of the Year that ends up 2nd or 3rd on the night.

    • Let’s have a look at recent winners then. In my opinion they have slightly more risky aspects when compared to the runner-up or 3rd place:

      – Sweden 2015
      – Ukraine 2016
      – Portugal 2017
      – Israel 2018

      If you ask me? Nicely crafted and polished music, but with slightly more risky elements. It can be the difference between Gold and Silver/Bronze.

      • Dear Gert, I think we are on the same page here (as is often the case overall). Sarcasm was intended when I called Sweden – The Safe Song of the Year. I totally agree that an element of risk is required to snatch victory. I am betting on Russia, Italy, France and my sweet cinnamon roll, Conan from Portugal, to clarify my personal risk-taking position.

        • Surely its Netherlands if our risky winner needs a bit of something unsafe about it? Or yes Russia fits the bill with its drama.

          Dark horse with that theme is Iceland, although I think they would need a lot of hype and a political narrative to help them over the line.

          • Nothing can help Iceland, do people really think Juries would let this win?

          • A decent jury and a BIG public vote Iceland cannot be ruled out and for sure is one the few genuine contenders this year.

          • I’m coming around to Iceland doing well, particularly looking at that dire first semi- there’s a chance to build some momentum there, there’s only Cyprus who look particularly strong with the televote there. But it is all about a narrative building for them to threaten the top.

  9. I think in summing up I’m in line with the general opinion on Sweden:

    The song as we all know is quite good but not great. The middle 8 fails to fire and it’s quite a dated sound and formula. Lundvik and the backing vox perform the hell out of it.

    The main problem that Swe has is that this year has the runaway jury winner – NL. Toy/Fuego etc were divisive/lacking in some way jury wise and esp Aut and Ger capitalised on that. This year we have a Salvador/Dami style lead that NL will fashion. With the public vote Swe will fare better than Aut but I also see Nl beating them by quite some way in that vote too.

    Swe as winner is only possible as default and granted that that has to be covered.

    Song wise it is not brilliant at any point.

    A good staging and Duncan guided to be on point with Ilse on hand and I do indeed think this is NL’s year.

  10. I was happy to take on the backers last night on this right down to 6s.I just dont see the huge appeal in an ESC.Ok the juries gave it all the points and there is a risk it might happen again,but the televote might not turn up.There is also a risk that the eastern juries ignore this and give very little.I dont agree he is a top performer.Those side glances at the camera are hmm and really cheesy and a load of soul singers that remind me of a local happy clappy church might not set the voters on fire.
    However this ESC is a minefield and caution is needed.I added Russia on the drift,even though i find that lacking,and il buy this back at some point and run a small red or a small green.
    This is an ESC where we should expect to disagree with other good judges and each other a lot.Its wide open and there are lots of songs that could take a step forward or a step back.A year where spurs will need to be earned by gamblers and books kept in a place where they dont run away from you if about turns are needed.

  11. I feel as though I have been in a Groundhog Day warp with Sweden since the 2015 Mans triumph: whether it be Frans, Robin Bengtsson, Benjamin Ingrosso or John Lundvik, it’s all bracketed under: “pleasant song, polished and likely to be well staged, good jury bait but not going to that extra edgy place to push it from 3rd to 6th all the way to winner…”…..I honestly feel that the the reaction to this has been a kind of relief, that it is uncomplicated, upbeat and the guy is having fun on stage (compared with quite a lot of the darker and demanding entries)……but that “relief” isn’t a passport to the winner’s podium……and I see this sailing through to the final, ending top three jury and then being granted a lukewarm televote reaction……overall, 3rd to 6th.

    • A little bit of prediction then from my side.

      Semi Final #2:
      – RUSSIA (1st – 4th)
      – SWEDEN (1st – 4th)
      – SWITZERLAND (1st – 4th)
      – THE NETHERLANDS (1st – 4th)
      – AZERBAIJAN (3rd – 6th)
      – DENMARK (3rd – 6th)
      – AUSTRIA (6th – 9th)
      – NORTH-MACEDONIA (6th – 9th)
      – NORWAY (6th – 9th)
      – IRELAND (8th – 11th)
      – LITHUANIA (8th – 11th)

      Let’s see what MALTA and ARMENIA have for us.

      Semi Final #1:
      – CYPRUS (1st – 4th)
      – CZECH REPUBLIC (1st – 4th)
      – GREECE (1st – 4th)
      – ICELAND (1st – 4th)
      – BELGIUM (3rd – 7th
      – ESTONIA (3rd – 7th)
      – HUNGARY (3rd – 7th)
      – AUSTRALIA (6th – 9th)
      – SERBIA (6th – 9th)
      – SAN MARINO (9th – 12th)
      I ranked on alphabetical order before the ranking possibility

      • Hi Gert

        Lovin’ yo work 🙂

        Except I would say Nor could well be Top 4 possible edging out Swi in Semi 2.

        Well Armenia have given us a complicated structure of an uptempo – pro with some nice outro vocal acrobatics but it ain’t gonna challenge.
        Malta on the other hand…are in the Cyp genre EXCEPT Michela’s song is more original than Replay and she is a much much better singer than Tamta and she is a fresh, young pretty face.

  12. There are a lot of comparisons made between Austria 2018 and this one (more in the fandom than here), but I still wanted to share some thoughts about Austria 2018.

    I think we can agree that Austria winning the jury vote last year was a surprise. We knew there was a possibility of a great jury result, but a jury win seemed veeery optimistic.
    It gets even more interesting if you rank the best jury results since (re)introduction of juries:

    1. Salvador Sobral 382
    2. Måns Zelmerlöw 363
    3. Dami Im 320
    4. Alexander Rybak 312
    5. Loreen 296
    6. Kristian Kostov 278
    7. Cesár Sampson 271

    Each of the entries above Cesár are somehow speacial in their own way. You could show those entries to someone who has never watched Eurovision and he would probably be impressed (they were also all at least top 3 with televoters). Cesár does not seem to really fit into this list, especially if you think about that acts like ‘1944’ got only 211 or ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ got 224 jury points (2014 did only have 37 competing nations).
    It shows that those 271 points from Cesár are a huge hurdle and not easy to overcome.

    But the most interesting part is looking at the semi results. Each of the acts above Cesár (and even below him) had fantastic jury results in the semis, Cesár did not.
    Cesár “only” had 115 jury points in the semi-final. That’s solid, but not more than that. ‘Mall’ had 114 jury points in the same(!) semi, ‘Bones’ had 107 jury points.
    If we rank Eurovision entries by jury points received in the semis, Austria 2018 suddenly falls on the 39th(!!) position. Even Nathan Trent in 2017 had 115 points from juries in his semi.

    So I was looking through the press room reports of jury rehearsal semi 1 of last year to find out if something was wrong with Cesár’s performance, but they all state he delievered an overall very strong performance in the semi jury rehearsal.
    No idea what happened between semi and final, I just wanted to point this out. If someone has any explanation, feel free to comment 🙂

    • There was a lot of weird stuff last year, Israel’s televote in the final was likewise much higher than the semi and I can’t find much of an explanation for how Netta pulled so ahead. Also Norway’s collapse.

    • Actually, I recently made this chart of odds history vs. the actual outcome:

      https://imgur.com/TsfgEMP.png
      https://imgur.com/o4nc1CE.png

      To me the Austrian final result last year very much looked like the result from Netherlands 2014. No-one at this stage was convinced about a possible ‘magic’ being created by the staging, nor were people convinced about the charisma Waylon/Ilse vs. Cesar had. I actually recall Gavin not being that enthusiastic about Cesar’s charsima. I found that pretty….unbelievable, because to me Cesar really owned other stages towards the Lisbon final. He ‘plays’ with the audience, he truly has the ability to ‘seks up’ audiences and juries alike.

      I think what worked in Austria’s favour was A) the song. It was a very believable piece of soul. Then B) the staging concept was perfect for Cesar. Combined with lots of close-ups, reminiscent of Mans Zelmerløw, he truly ‘grabbed’ the people.

      Had Cesar be drawn in the 2nd half, the televote might have been even better, pushing him towards an overall 2nd place.

      Another ‘charismatic’ performer however, Alexander Rybak, was given a much more dated song. On the road to Lisbon, lots of better pundits overrated the ‘charisma-element’ if you ask me. Resulting in some rather weird outliers in the betting odds. So ‘charisma’ isn’t everything either.

      There needs to be a ‘perfect total package’ that is able to convince Europe. Obviously Norway last year didn’t have that. In a way this could be a caveat for John Lundvik as well (although I still think Sweden 2019 is miles better than Norway 2018).

      Looking at all winners from the past years, the song still is foremost the decisive factor in winning or losing:

      –> The song needs to stand out even before rehearsals and other live performances. It needs to be unique (an example, last year’s Cyprus stood out, but this year more similar entries are in the lineup).

      –> The song needs to be an admirable composition that is being produced, mixed and instrumentalized in such a way that every aspect of the song (vocals, instruments, key changes, modulations, remarkable sound effects) let you rise up.

      –> The song needs to be uttermost contemporary and modern. It needs to be ‘music’ from 2019, not from 2009. Even in 2014 that was the thing that helped propel Armenia to a wonderful 4th place.

      –> The song should not be competing too much with other songs from similar music genres.

      And when that is done properly, when you have a potential winning song that includes all of the above aspects, you can build on that. Norway 2018 clearly didn’t have that advantage, whereas Austria 2018 was much more in line with a song that amidst the lineup stood out as a modern, soul-ful song.

  13. This song sounds as if it was cut up and then sewn together again, but not in the original order, with some bits missing and some bits put back upside down.
    As a listener, you make the effort to make sense of it for perhaps 45 seconds to a minute and then you give up.
    But it’s nice that there will be viewers who will think: oh look, he didn’t bother to loose weight or get into shape before performing before millions of viewers.

  14. I dont know if this has been brought up yet, but semi-final 2 looks absolutely jacked! All four of the top ranked 4 are in there (Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Russia)…

    Makes semi-final 1 the easier path to the final especially since Ukraine will be a no-show… So countries like Iceland, Belgium, Australia, Portugal and Estonia would certainly benefit…

    Any thoughts Gav?

    • I would agree those nations have it easier in semi-1, but I doubt it’ll help them going forward if let’s say the winning package is in semi-2. The voting public has a way of spotting quality.

      • Gav the reason why I mentioned semi 1 will be a easier path is due to getting the prime slots for the final…

        In semi 2 if you’re not in the top 2, your spot in the final will probably be nerfed…

        In semi 1 it’ll be easier to do well so chances are you’ll get a good spot in the final providing you’re top 2…

        But you’re right 8t may be a marginal advantage in the end…

        Looking forward to your analysis as always…

    • What price would you give Sweden squall on current evidence?.I layed them heavily down to 6s and think its probably a 12s/13s shot.I cleared a bit at 9.6 though as im keeping my book tight this year and keeping everything in range.

      • I’d say low double digits is reasonable.

        Strengths:
        * Archetype really seems to resonate with juries
        * Good vote total in finals
        * As always with Sweden, staging concept is near-finished and you know it will be professional
        * Very good vocals

        Risks:
        * Poor heat vote – if it’s a grower that’s not good at all
        * Uncertain how much of finals vote was due to Swedish liking of Lundvik
        * Almost all juries were western (serious fuckup by Björkman – now we have no idea what eastern juries would think)

  15. I hate saying this (because I have my age), but I have to be realistic: Lundvik is simply too old to win it.The televoters who go for his kind of song, don’t go for his kind of age.

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