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Melfest Heat 1 Tips

Our Ben Robertson got to listen to all of the songs competing in the first heat of Melodifestivalen. Here are his thoughts, reviews, and betting tips.

Song 1: Malou Prytz - Bananas (BPM: 128)

Malou describes this song as having a punk feel. There is that, but only insofar to the level of an artist like P!NK in terms of edginess - very much a pop song on show here. I was highly unoriginal in my soundalike description while live-tweeting to suggest this song was similar to the song ‘Bananas’ in UMK a couple of years back - but that is the level of aggression on show here with this.

The expectation of Malou’s song, especially with the songwriting team from last year’s winner ‘Voices’ and Ace Wilder, meant that expectations of something challenging for the top half of the final were reasonable. Those have shrunk today, as it’s difficult in the studio version to imagine this fitting Malou and having an obvious appeal across the age ranges. One still anticipates the Semi Final round but surely not going to Turin.

I would not expect taking any more on Malou. Likely to drift in the qualify market and unlikely to be value for the Semi Final either.

Song 2: Theoz - Som Du Vill (BPM: 113)

From the first seconds of this song's beginning you are thrown. Malou having the uptempo starter wasn’t the beginning of Melodifestivalen - this is the beginning of Melodifestivalen. This is a cookie-cutter Swedish pop song and yes, we may bemoan some of its repetitiveness on ESC Insight but this has huge appeal here. There was a small dance break in the bridge, I actually expected more as Theoz is famous for dancing (he is a 16-year-old with 2 million TikTok followers) but assuming Theoz can pull off a live performance this will impress many unsure by Malou’s style switch.

How dangerous is this? To win Melodifestivalen would require enormous jury support in the final which is hard for a Swedish language track that may appear basic to those esteemed enough to be a jury. This landslides the younger voting blocs in the voting on Saturday and just needs to get enough from parents and grandparents to squeeze through. Or does he? The slight tweaks to the voting system (we will have a full Insight piece on Saturday about them once I have seen the dress rehearsal to fully understand) mean it is the number of votes in the first round that count. That 10-15 year old voting bloc is A LOT of voters.

There is 2.78 to qualify with Svenska Spel which is highly recommended. Also of interest I need to give a shout out to Smarkets for an interesting market - Theoz is 5.5 to qualify direct in first place which can not be underestimated in this voting system.

Song 3: Shirley Clamp - Let There Be Angels (BPM: 69)

We were promised the big Eurovision ballad from Shirley and we got it. There is a lovely production to this - the sound is full and crisp and Shirley’s voice precision comes across really well. This is a great song to demonstrate Swedish pop production compared to what appears in other National Finals that have needed polishing and a revamp before heading to the Eurovision Song Contest. Thematically I’m taken back to big Eurovision ballads like ‘It’s For You’ by Niamh Kavanagh here as a comparison point.

Competitively getting through to the final, as Niamh did in Eurovision 2010, would be a long long shot. Shirley Clamp had a lovely ballad in 2014 with ‘Burning Alive’ and it didn’t get through the first round of voting. I think while the production is more big ballad than that song there’s arguably less here for the voter to grasp onto. And if I, who voted for Shirley in 2014, is still thinking about Theoz at this point in the show, that’s a bad sign.

Will be interesting to see if there is value in the last place market once it appears. Sadly.

Song 4: Omar Rudberg - Moving Like That (BPM: 106)

Little surprise to many that Omar has brought a light, summery, Latin/Swedish pop hybrid to Melodifestivalen. Omar is a cool little dynamo of a pop star and he is going to move around the stage like a butterfly to this number, which lives on Spotify no matter what happens on Saturday. I would hold back from saying it feels fresh and new however. Omar has his fans after appearing on Netflix’s Young Royals and this is very much his latest single for them.

But as a competitive entry to try and get people who are not his fans to support am I less sure. The song stays in a lovely rhythm without having a ‘vote-for-me’ moment and chance for Omar to obviously sell the song. Now the way Melodifestivalen voting works with the app voting middle-of-the-road happy pop does very well. The Semi Final I am very confident of, but beyond that is hard to justify on the studio version.

I’d be looking here for a price of Evens or more for a Semi Final slot. Some places are over 3s for qualifying directly. If the performance in rehearsals is very good then that could be an excellent option.

Song 5: Danne Stråhed - Hullabaloo (BPM: 139)

Danne’s song description of this as an ‘ållsang’ song is very fitting. Ållsang is a Swedish summer tradition, most famously shown at the TV event Ållsang at Skansen - filmed over the long holiday period with the latest big name artists, and those of yesterday. This could well be the classic song that gets wheeled out at these events, lyric sheets are handed out to all the children, and everybody obediently sings along. I note the nods to schlager of the 80’s with plenty of mentioning of golden shoes and the ba-ba-ba-bam ending that takes on back to Carola and The Herreys.

In terms of competitive success much will depend on Danne’s charm. While a nice throwback, the success of these clearly retro songs depends on how effective the performance is. We are promised a ‘live’ feel and a band should be on stage according to plans revealed on the new Mellopedia. Make of that what you will. I tend to think songs like this tend to do better if drawn later in the Melfest calendar, once the audience are craving a throwback and something anti the pop establishment.

There is a chance, with a charismatic stage show, that this squeaks a 4th place thanks to older voters. However it would need a fair wind and some stunning charisma to shine through to get not bottom places with the kids. If the win market drift continues could be value for a shock 4th place, but looking at getting 6s or 7s for that I would say.

Song 6: Cornelia Jakobs - Hold Me Closer (BPM: 98)

There’s a captivating rawness to the beginning of this track, where the strings are the prominent instrument. However as the song builds the feel makes it go towards electronic music and the merging of genres is a touch unnerving. I would much rather the song stayed intimate as I’m losing the storytelling and the emotion. It is clear from the vocal timbre that Cornelia's father was a member of The Poodles, and that rock growl comes in through the final minute.

There was a ballad last year called ‘Fingerprints’ - an elegant number that I wrote here was surely too good to be last. But it was last. I don’t want to suggest the same here for this but I don’t hear the vote-for-me element of this number. Could be a grower but not one cutting through on first listen.

I will give this song extra care to listen and enjoy when I see it live. Impossible to recommend any actions at this time as I think it is something that needs to translate to the stage, or not. This doesn’t fit squarely into boxes like many others in the lineup.

Song 7: Robin Bengtsson - Innocent Love

BPM: 170 (!)

Robin has been in the press describing this as arena pop rock and that is an absolutely valid description. Backing vocals are used in the intro before Robin comes in with this number that is a tempo that reaches the limits of how fast you can toe-tap - but you definitely can to this. I can imagine the light show in Globen will make this feel huge, in a similar way to ‘Tell The World I’m Here’ from Ulrik Munter did in 2013. I could imagine this opening the show in the final.

And it gets to the final. Once there this will be one of those songs that is in-it-to-win-it but it’s not setting the bar crazily high. Sweden can send this to Eurovision and do well, but there’s space to beat this in the other three heats. From a songwriting approach I may appreciate the inclusion of the key change but I have to question the need for it in a song like this - I feel it dates the song and makes it more ‘Eurovision’ than it needs to be, which may put off some juries in the final.

Robin Bengtsson qualifies. Not sure on 1st place as explained above, but he qualifies. 1.3 might still be available for those wanting to cash in on a favourite. We had the season’s first podcast tip on Robin to win the entire thing. We really want Robin to win the semi because if he does then his price should shorten to around 4s - this song as a Melfest heat winner would be par for the course. If he goes through in second place, then the odds are probably more around 10s or 12s, so much is it the momentum kicker.

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