Melodifestivalen Final 2019 - Too Late For Lovers?

The Melodifestivalen 2019 Final is typical in that it features several exciting newcomers in addition to more established, familiar faces. Most of these have strong overall packages which would qualify at Eurovision. Betfair has been kind enough to add a Last Place market, so let’s start by looking at the acts who will be fighting it out at the bottom.

Lina Hedlund is a former Alcazar singer who must have made it to the final by the skin of her teeth. She qualified from a very open semi-final 3 on a wave of pure Swedish nostalgia. I’m surprised that the fan hysteria that surrounded Jessica Andersson last year, who finished last in the televote, hasn’t transferred to Lina and ‘Victorious’. Her dated package is therefore a valid favourite for last place but she might be saved by one or two schlager-loving international juries.

Speaking of schlager, man-band Avingarna are occupying the pimp slot this year, as it seems tradition now to give this prized position to a hopeless act. Like Lina, they will be lingering towards the bottom of the scoreboard but could be saved by performing last and/or the song ‘I Do’ featuring some lyrics in Swedish.

Poor Malou Prytz looks like the value pick to finish last. She was a surprise qualifier from the second semi-final who made it through with a highly competent and fun pop package. This is one of the only pure pop songs in the final but will be overshadowed by performing next to the two betting favourites in the running order. Her song ‘I Do Me’ is sassy and decent but is not vocally-driven, so might get overlooked by a lot of the juries. The 16-year-old will be relying on some goodwill for being the youngest act in the competition.

Ex-convict Nano stormed the televote in the 2017 final with the excellent ‘Hold On’. The voting system back then strongly favoured the juries and he was actually robbed, as a combined 50/50 system would have seen him go to Kiev. Unfortunately, his sophomore effort has been a disappointment and he had to take the Andra Chansen route to the final. ‘Chasing Rivers’ is well-performed and uplifting and so you would hope some points from the juries at least will help him avoid last place.

It’s not going to be third time lucky for Lisa Ajax, who has been lumbered with the worst position in the running order in addition to a complete lack of staging for ‘Torn’. Some of the juries might be impressed with her vocal performance but her televote is going to be very low.

Moving on to some of the more competent songs now. As with Lisa, the law of diminishing returns is also in effect for Jon Henrik Fjällgren, whose ‘Norrsken’ is his weakest entry yet. He was gifted a position in the final by headlining a very weak semi-final 3. His televote will likely have been strong, but this should suffer greatly when placed among stronger competition. We know from the 2017 and 2015 finals that the juries will not be sufficiently kind enough for him to be troubling for the win. I’ve been happy to lay him in The Top 3 market.

For my money, the best song in this year’s competition is ‘On My Own’ by Bishara. He probably qualified quite easily from a competitive semi-final and has been doing very well on Spotify streams. The problem is, he seems to be quite divisive as a performer to say the least. His squeaky ‘Young Michael Jackson’ vocals are not to everyone’s taste, and I’m expecting him to suffer under the new voting system as the 16-year-old’s app votes should skew very young. As with Malou, you just know he will be back for another go and could well be a star of the future. Bishara to my eyes looks like the best value lay in the Top 3 market.

Former Eurovision non-qualifier Anna Bergendahl was the star of this year’s Andra Chansen round. Her song ‘Ashes To Ashes’ has been performing the best in stats out of the four qualifiers, so you would think it will easily finish the highest out of those. The question is, how high can it go? Her song is clearly a grower, as enough people didn’t take to it straight away and she had to settle for third in semi-final 1. I have mixed opinions on this one as I think the lady-garden staging is pleasant, but whomever styled her probably deserves the sack. Third place shouldn’t be ruled out, but I don’t think she can win.

Wiktoria is another act the fans have been going crazy about, as she is also both a former contestant and a female act. ‘Not With Me’ is a sweet ballad and well-performed, with an excellent slot in the running order. I just worry it’s a bit too plain and ordinary to win the competition. Like Anna, I think she’s a strong contender for third place and is highly likely to finish in the Top 5.

After a somewhat agonising decision, I have settled on Mohombi as my pick for third place. The markets look to be underrating him at the moment. It is true that he has been dumped in third in the running order. However, Sweden’s potential to pick a high-quality male overall package should not be underestimated. Remember, this is a country that hasn’t sent a woman to Eurovision in five years. ‘Hello’ is an extremely radio-friendly and modern song, doing very well on streams, that could exist outside of a song contest. The staging concept, whilst not totally original, is effective and strong. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Melodifestivalen over the years, it’s that the international juries tend to really go for – some might say fall for – songs with particularly impressive staging concepts. Mohombi himself is a telegenic and likeable enough guy, especially compared with Mendez last year, who almost won the televote despite looking like he might beat you up in prison.

The winner market looks correct to me in that it should in the end come down to John Lundvik vs Hanna Ferm and Liamoo. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised in either of the top 2 acts in Spotify streams winning the ticket to Tel Aviv. Thinking about the implications of the new voting system, I am going with the lovesick duo as my predicted winner.

Hanna Ferm and Liamoo are both extremely attractive performers with a great deal of chemistry, as referenced in the song ‘Hold You’. Are they an item, or aren’t they? It really doesn’t matter, as everyone will be speculating about this regardless. No one knows more than marketers that sex sells, but so does romance. As performers, they are both highly aspirational and it could be said that they are portraying an aspirational romance. Vocally they are both strong, with Hanna in particular being perhaps the strongest vocalist in this year’s final. Her powerful long notes should help elevate this contemporary ballad to the top or very near the top of the jury vote. There isn’t much to the staging at all, but at least the white swirly bed sheets and gold lighting give the performance an overall classy vibe.

In terms of the televote now being spread evenly across age groups, from the youngest children to the oldest pensioners, this is the act I think will have the widest appeal. The audience poll result from semi-final 2 for the couple was 40%, which is roughly in line with what previous winners of the competition achieved in their heats.

John Lundvik has already successfully qualified for the Eurovision final by being a co-writer of the UK entry. His song ‘Too Late For Love’ is leading the Spotify streams and is considered by many as a shoo-in for the Melodifestivalen win. It is highly competent and very well performed, yet at the same time feels totally unremarkable. He will feature towards the top of the jury vote, if not the jury winner. But the power of the juries has been reigned in this year and we now apparently have a more accurate 50/50 system. I can’t help but think his voters might skew slightly older, whereas I could easily see very young girls looking up to the aspirational Hanna and Liamoo and voting for them, in addition to older voters.

If John Lundvik does win then I would not be surprised, and his uplifting, soulful song would probably provide Sweden with their usual Top 10 at Eurovision. But it seems like a two-horse race, where one is priced at around 1.45 and the other at 8.0 +. With the slight uncertainty regarding the new voting system as well, I have to go for Hanna and Liamoo at the prices. Out of the two, it feels like the overall package which has more of an ‘x factor’.

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Predicted finishing order:

1.    Hanna Ferm and Liamoo

2.    John Lundvik

3.    Mohombi

4.    Wiktoria

5.    Anna Bergendahl

6.    Bishara

7.    Jon Henrik Fjällgren

8.    Nano

9.    Lisa Ajax

10.  Malou Prytz

11.  Lina Hedlund

12. Avingarna