There’s been even more excitement than usual about this year’s Melodifestivalen. For the uninitiated, the winning song of this Swedish contest goes on to represent the country at Eurovision. But that’s just a by-product of the event itself, which is huge in Sweden and among Eurovision fans.
Much of the reason for the hype surrounding this year’s contest has been the popularity of a song that qualified from the first semi-final, ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen. We had to wait till the last song of the last semi-final to assess its main rival, Danny Saucedo’s ‘Amazing’. Sofabet commenter Boki nicely summed up what’s been happening on forums since:
It’s ‘amazing’ how punters are ‘euphorically’ divided about Loreen’s or Danny’s tune. Each group thinks that Sweden will make a terrible mistake by sending ‘the other one’ because only ‘this one’ can win ESC’.
The Eurovision chances of whichever song wins (and it should be said there are eight others in the Swedish final) will be considered in a later article. First let’s try to figure out the Melodifestivalen result.
Bookmakers seem to have made their mind up already. Swedish firm Svenska Spel closed their books on Thursday, claiming that Loreen was a guaranteed winner. You can still get on at Betfair where she’s a prohibitive 3/10 favourite. That price has shortened significantly in the last week as newspaper polls (such as the one highlighted by Boki) and iTunes downloads have indicated a comfortable lead for Loreen with public opinion.
What is it with ‘Euphoria’? Watch the performance here. It’s basically a mid-90s trance track with a couple of great hooks. Loreen performs as if she’s been stuck in Mr Rochester’s attic for too long. As a result, it has plenty of critics.
What they underestimate is how well the package works on the Melodifestivalen stage. The song itself may be an example from a dated genre, but it’s an excellent example of that genre, and as such transcends its mid-90s sound. Loreen certainly likes to do things in an offbeat way but she’s a strong vocalist and a really strong performer.
By comparison, Danny’s ‘Amazing’ didn’t hang together so well for his semi-final. See it here. It felt like a dance routine and staging concept with the song as an afterthought. Vocally he was very weak, nervous with the low notes early on and out of breath pretty soon afterwards.
However when I indicated that he should be opposed on the basis of these poor vocals, some of our shrewd commenters such as Tim B, Eurovicious and Emma, sprung to his defence and still showed belief in his chances. Given that you can get nearly 5/1, I wonder if those commenters are tempted now? Tim B is putting out feelers in this direction.
It is true that he is vocally capable of much better, as he showed when coming second last year. And there are other arguments that our commenters have deployed: that the former boyband member has a huge teenage fanbase; that ‘Amazing’ is a more modern song than ‘Euphoria’; that the staging of the song is fantastic; and that he has been drawn last in the final.
The market indicates that Danny has lost momentum after his semi-final performance, but the market is not gospel, something which those dabbling in it forget too often. Personally, I wouldn’t back Danny beforehand for fear of another show of ropey vocals, but he is on last, and if everything came together, there have been bigger shocks in national finals. Just ask Russia’s Dima Bilan and Julia Volkova, who lost out to the Russian Babushki on Wednesday.
Having said which, I don’t think Loreen’s singing position of sixth hinders her at all, or shows any kind of attempt to hinder her by broadcasters SVT, as has been suggested in our comments section. The running order simply follows a predictable formula for putting on a good show.
They’ve put the biggest name with an upbeat song on last, preceding it with a ballad from the biggest female name, Molly Sanden. The headline-grabbing Swedish writer Bjorn Ranelid also gets a late slot in 8, but his antics won’t overshadow Loreen, who is instead surrounded by outsiders Top Cats and Ulrik Munther. We start the show off with the entertaining David Lindgren’s ‘Shout It Out’, which is fishing in Danny’s waters.
What may make the contest more compelling than a straightforward one-horse race is the scoring system which offers a 50% weighting to eleven international juries who give a full set of points from 12 down to 1. With few people on these juries, and thus a greater element of unpredictability, the voting can chop and change.
They perhaps offer the best hope for third favourite Lisa Miskovsky to break the Danny v Loreen match-up that this has been portrayed as. Her stirring number ‘Why Start A Fire’ offers the antithesis of the stereotypical Melodifestivalen sound of easy hooks and key changes. If juries are basing their points on artistic merit rather than suitability for Eurovision, then this should score highly with them.
Molly Sanden’s ‘Why Am I Crying’ may also fare well here, though I don’t think it stands out enough as a song despite the interest created by relating it to her backstory (a split from last year’s winner and Eurovision third Eric Saade). Meanwhile, I imagine the juries will probably punish two of the more left-field numbers of the night, Bjorn Ranelid and Sara Li’s ‘Mirakel’ and Thorsten Flinck’s ‘Jag Reser Mig Igen’.
To counter the potential unpredictability of the international juries, the 50% of the points that come from the televote are allocated proportionately. So if an act gets 10% of the public vote, then they receive 10% of the televote points on offer. This means that if Loreen wins the televote easily, it gives her a huge advantage.
The only act we haven’t mentioned are token rockers Dead by April, though they should add to a varied evening – and you don’t have to be in Sweden to watch the webcast. For me this is one to watch and enjoy, rather than commit any money to. What do you think? Has Loreen got this wrapped up, is Danny still in with a chance, and can anyone cause a shock? Let us know in the comments section below.