Melodifestivalen 2012: Will it be ‘Euphoria’ or ‘Amazing’?

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.

43 comments to Melodifestivalen 2012: Will it be ‘Euphoria’ or ‘Amazing’?

  • Martin F.

    If you’ll forgive me a bit of self-promotion, Daniel, I’ve been live-blogging tonight’s dress rehearsal from Globen here (still am, at time of writing!):

    http://esc-chat.com/2012/03/09/melodifestivalen-2012-dress-rehearsal-live-blog/

    It might not necessarily provide any new insights from a betting perspective, but who knows? 🙂

  • Daniel

    Martin, not a problem at all, and I’ll add that your insights into the rehearsals should be read by anybody with half an eye on the betting markets for tomorrow’s contest.

  • David

    I do believe the audience poll results might come as a shock for some, with Danny possibly in the lead. Bookies (and punters) have imo been placing far too much faith in the Aftonbladet poll (with Loreen crushing opposition at 39% of the votes), a poll that was clearly run over by non-Swedish fans (it normally doesn’t even reach half that number of votes).

  • Boki

    I commented already on another topic (why am I always so early !?) but just want to add this: last year juries have chosen Eric & Danny as top2 but Sanna was close. Year before Salem and Eric close behind hiim (int.jury only). So it’s a close call for artistic Lisa but surely her odds 13/1 to win the jury vote represent some value ?

    • David

      I’ve backed her for Jury win @15.00 with SvS – but after reading at svt.se that the British jury aims for a “Eurovision winner”, I’m getting unsure as to what they’re really judging…

      • Boki

        David, so you are from Sweden? Interesting thoughts about AB poll…they should forbid the voting for foreigners than to make our punter life easier 🙂

        Btw lot of stuff on SvS and always better odds, it would be nice if everyone could bet on it.

        • David

          Yup, from Sweden 🙂 yeah, and regarding that: the web-votes for “Tredje chansen” (a web poll of old goldies) were distorted by automatic script-voting. When SVT discovered it and removed the fake votes were Loreen suddenly not in the lead there… if it could happen there, it certainly could have happened in the AB-poll.

          SvS actually have worse odds on average, as their juice is super high. But they do have a good set of markets.

  • David

    Loreen won the audience poll, but not by much. Looks like it will be the duel we’ve expected:

    1. Loreen 415 röster (36,7%)

    2. Danny 380 röster (33,3%)

    3. David Lindgren 58 röster 5,1%)

    4. Ulrik Münther 56 röster (5%)

    5. Molly Sanden 46 röster (4,1%)

    6. Thorstein Flinck 42 röster (3,7%)

    7. Dead by April 40 röster (3,5 %)

    8. Lisa Miskovsky 39 röster (3,5 %)

    9. Top Cats 32 röster (2,8%)

    10. Björn Ranelid 19 röster (1,7%)

  • Emma

    I agree–this one to enjoy for the music and unpredicdictibility, not the profit. What strikes me as odd, however, is how the MF juries seem to have extremely different opinions that the ESC juries would have. Last year, Popular and In the Club did quite well, whereas in the actual contest, Eric Saade got mediocre jury support and surely Danny’s weak, shouty song would have been crucified.

    Loreen’s draw, now that you mention it, isn’t that terrible, and artists have certainly overcome worse. She’ll look really sophisticated and avant-garde next to TopCats, but, despite his low chances of winning, Ulrik Munther could look really calm and charming after her. I was absentmindedly listening to ESC/MF songs on YouTube earlier today and heard the low key German entry, not unlike Ulrik’s song, right after Euphoria. By contrast, Euphoria seemed harsh and overdone, even a little dated. Not sure if this is just me, however.

    Alas, it’s 11:30 in Berlin and I’m not really thinking coherently. Off to read Martin’s live blogging and I wish everyone bettin the best of luck!

  • Tim B

    Loreen I think is being overhyped by many “fans of Eurovision” (!) in a way that reminds me of Kati Wolf last year.

    I didn’t know Danny used to be in a boyband – makes me feel slightly better about backing him now. I got him at 5.5 this morning. With the pimp slot, a second place finish last year and apparent tampering with poll results by Loreen fans, I figured Danny was worth a go.

    • Emma

      Definitely. I can provide a little background info on Danny’s boyband, EMD–they’re all Idol alumni, having placed between 6th and 2nd, competed at MF 2009 and got 3rd place with a rather dorky if ear-wormy pop number, just ahead of Mans Zelmerlow who had a vaguely similar number. They also seem to have a number of screaming female fans. All this works in Danny’s favor, except for one thing: Danny’s bandmate Mattias competed in Semi 3 this year–and didn’t make it out of the heat. No split vote for the EMD fans but Mattias’ loss might show they aren’t as rabid as I might have suspected. Then again, that was his first go at a solo career and also, Danny always stood out in the band as the most attractive and beloved (or at least the most distinctive–I literally can’t tell the other two apart) member.

      So in short, yes, Danny is underrated and his past career should help him

      • Daniel

        Hi Emma, what a great description of EMD and their 2009 MF offering, which was titled ‘Baby Goodbye’: “A rather dorky if ear-wormy pop number.” It’s very much a guilty pleasure of mine and one of any number of examples you could give the uninitiated of a classic MF-style song-and-dance entry with key change and all.

        • Emma

          Oh goodness, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine too. I feel a little embarrassed for EMD when I watch the performance but it’s a great song. Danny’s certainly veered off in another direction with his uber cool modern dance music.

  • Tim B

    The performances have just finished. I think Danny has a good chance of winning! Vocals (mimed?) were better than in the semi and I think there may *just* have been enough of a difference in the running order for him to pip Loreen. Here’s hoping 🙂

  • Tim B

    It’s probably over for Danny. Loreen won the jury vote, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought Danny would win that. And what happened to Lisa?

    • Daniel

      Hi Tim, looks to me like the juries voted based on what they thought was most suitable for Eurovision. Danny needs to beat Loreen by 5% in the televote, which is a tough call, but in his favour the voting lines have re-opened and Danny’s fans know he needs an extra boost now.

      • David

        If the jury members are at all MF-interested, they might also have heard some of the Loreen fan hype, leading them to the conclusion that she’s the candidate with the most potential.

  • Tim B

    So guess the important question now is…What about Sweden’s dreams? Is Loreen this year’s ‘Kati Wolf’?

    • lying eyes

      it could be! reat song potential winner….it will either come top 3, or crash and burn! dont think it will win esc…its a very dark song!

  • Boki

    I think also she’s too dark but at this point I don’t see another contender (just heard Zeljko’s effort and not really satisfied with it, more or less his usual stuff, not bad but not a winner). Daniel, what’s your 1st impression of Synonim?

    • lying eyes

      Tbe only other contender would be jedward….cant see them beating loreen though!

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, I actually quite like the Serbian song, though I think I could have written what I am about to say before hearing it: Zeljko seems guaranteed enough televote and jury scores to put him in a decent enough position on the scoreboard, but I don’t see western televoters showing much interest at all.

      • Boki

        You nicely summed it up (although you like it and you are a western televoter). I was hoping for something extra to make him a serious contender but it didn’t happen. So it’s still one (female) horse race.

        • Tim B

          I actually think Denmark is more likely to win than Sweden. But for me the winner thus far is Spain.

          • Boki

            Tim, your comment made me realize I was not exactly clear, I still think anything can happen (only too early to see what) and by ‘1 horce race’ I was referring to the current odds. I have many personal dark horses (Germany, Italy, Iceland, Turkey etc. inpo). Btw you have to be more realistic about Spain 😉

      • justin

        Daniel agree regrading Serbia’s entry. This is likely to mop up big points in the final from the Balkans and probably up to Germany, Switzerland and Austria too. I suspect juries all over will reward it well. I am adding this one to my potential Top 10 lists (which is not that long as yet!).

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Now we just need the Top 4 and Top 10 markets up on Betfair and we’ll start making some money!! Hate to see countrie’s outright odds plummeting without having been abled to bet Top 10 and Top 4 based on an high outright. I tried to e-mail Betfair and they said they would forward my request but nothing has happened. They would probably listen to you more Daniel since you are such a big player (six-figure sums on ESC every year, wow!) who pays alot of commission and therefore being an important customer.

    • Daniel

      I will email then them now Johnny, although I think the Top 10 and Top 4 markets will be just around the corner anyway. Don’t be too disheartened by the thought of missing value. At this early stage there isn’t much liquidity outside the win market anyway (just look at the semi markets right now for evidence of that). Also, with 42 acts competing, there’s always plenty of value to be had. I’m far more interested in these markets than the outright one.

    • Boki

      Strange, I actually emailed them with a question to open Melodifestivalen market (after semi1 was finished there was still none on betfair) and they opened it within a day.

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Yeah so am I Daniel. I can often forecast price drops on the early ESC outright market, but without believing the country will go all they way to win I want to invest in it placing Top 4 or 10, preferably while the outright odds is still high since the place odds tend to be tied to the outright odds. I guess I could back outright odds and then lay them off when shortened but I prefer to use Betfair as a traditional bookie to back bets that I keep all the way. Each way bets at traditional bookmakers like Willhill and Ladbrokes is not an option due to their extremly low limits on Special bets.

    And thanks for e-mailing them btw D!

  • justin

    Thanks Daniel and other contributors to introducing me to Melodifestivalen! Really enjoyed it and a very deserving winner.

    But from a betting point of view Loreen is currently trading at about 3.55 to win Eurovision. This appears to be remarkably short in a 42 runner field. Despite its slick execution, at the end of the day this is a dated dance tune the lyrics to which do not amount to much. Not really sure that juries or Eastern bloc televoters are going to take to it.

  • Daniel

    Hurrah! the Top 10 and Top 4 Market has just been opened on Betfair.

  • Tim B

    Portugal is a non-qualifier, if ever I heard one.

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Jiiihaaaa for the Top 4/10 markets!! They listened to Mr VIP! 😉 So let’s see now how long it will take before the prices are competitive! Prolly not until the draw in a week…

  • Semi Final 2 is shaping up nicely. Only Bosnia-Herzegovina needs to present its song. Nice opportunity to come up with my first prediction thus far (after seeing most of the live performances). BUT, I split it out in 100% televoting prediction and 100% jury prediction:

    100% televoting:
    01) Sweden
    02) Norway
    03) Slovenia
    04) Estonia
    05) Turkey
    06) Serbia
    07) Ukraine
    08) Slovakia
    09) FYRo Macedonia
    10) Belarus
    —————–
    11) The Netherlands
    12) Lithuania
    13) Croatia
    14) Portugal

    100% jury:
    01) Estonia
    02) Slovenia
    03) Norway
    04) Serbia
    05) Sweden
    06) FYRo Macedonia
    07) Croatia
    08) The Netherlands
    09) Turkey
    10) Portugal
    ——————-
    11) Ukraine
    12) Lithuania
    13) Belarus
    14) Slovakia

    And my BIG 5 Favourites so far:
    01) Italy
    02) Germany
    03) Spain
    04) France

    What do you think Daniel?

    • Daniel

      Hi Gert, I broadly agree with your televote Top 9, although not quite in that order (for example I’d have Serbia above Slovenia). Add Bosnia to the mix and that’s an early, speculative top ten prediction for you in that semi.

      • I personally rank Slovenia’s performance/song a bit higher. Very strong song from veteran Serbian composer Vladimir Graić, who also composed ‘Molitva’ (winner 2007). It has a better build-up towards a great climax, while the Serbian entry drags a bit.

        You are right that Zeljko is a great performer, but so is Eva Boto from Slovenia. I also think the audiovisual total package of Slovenia is better than Serbia. Zeljko and his band members look a bit…too much like an ordinary band and not like his 2004 Ad Hoc Orchestra. But that can change off course.

  • David

    Wow, really looking forward to your views on Euphoria, Daniel, considering the shortening of the odds!

    My sponantous thought is this: Fairytale it is not. On the other hand the competition is weak this year, from what we’ve seen. But @3.00? Nah.

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Will you write a separate piece on Euphoria’s chances Dan?

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