Melodifestivalen Heat 1 Betting Review
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Article updated below with my thoughts from listening to the first heat on Wednesday.
Kadiatou - One Touch
Joy Deb, Linnea Deb, Jimmy ”Joker” Thörnfeldt and Anderz Wrethov.
Kadiatou as expected brings to Melfest a safe piece of pop to open up the show. The beat starts off gentle and picks up as we hit an obvious chorus on the ‘One Touch’ line which is masterfully executed by the experienced songwriting team. The whole thing feels very like previous participant Margret, albeit without her particular kind of sass in the mix. The post-chorus is a catchy hook and we have a great radio song here. That said, it’s not particularly groundbreaking and fulfills its purpose as a song opener.
Not out of contention to qualify to the final, but that would need Kadiatou to raise it with the performance.
Kadiatou was the early second favourite with the odds and this has now drifted to 2.75. I actually think that’s short at this stage. It will sound good in studio format tomorrow when you get the one minute clips but I doubt it will sound strong enough in this mix to attract any odds, and this may drift further.
Lillasyster - Pretender
Isak Hallén, Palle Hammarlund, Ian-Paolo Lira, Jakob Redtzer and Martin Westerstrand.
SVT describes the theme of ‘Pretender’ as intense and that is spot on the money - this is harder than I imagined it would be with the no. 2 slot and it is not messing about. The start of the song is a bit derivative, and I thought I was listening to a different artist (I wrote Nickelback on Twitter, but please don’t remind me of that if not) but it also reminded me of Nicke Borg’s Melodifestivalen entry ‘Leaving Home’. That is until the end of the first chorus when all hell breaks loose and this song explodes into a rock song turned up to eleven.
It’s a wake up pill like no other and after the relatively generic start to the competition this explodes into life. It’s hard to know about the potential for it to do well but it’s not here to make up the numbers.
The entire field narrowed after the song reveal, with the outsiders moving in and the favourites drifting out slightly. I don’t see this dramatically shortening any more than the 10s available currently, but I would like to think this is too good to get last place. Too many big names to qualify direct I think, but there’s potential for Andra Chansen.
Jessica Andersson - Horizon
Christian Holmström, Jesper Jakobson, Fredrik Kempe, David Kreuger och Markus Lidén.
I was expecting something with a more obvious schlager feel than this country guitar driven Disney ballad. This is a little bit ridiculous in its structure and is a form of music that doesn’t really exist outside of such weird bubbles as Melodifestivalen - listen out for the key change after one chorus and the very Fredrik Kempe syncopation as we build towards the finale. It is, as Jessica has said, one huge challenging vocal that will be impressive on Saturday night.
Jessica has qualified the last two occasions she took part and the big name factor can not be ruled out. I think any qualification chance relies on that because there are more obvious performers and genres coming up later in the show.
Jessica did move in from 8s at the start of the day to 6.75, which more than anything demonstrates how open this market is. I’m less confident of qualifying chances than I was on pure name alone, but I don’t know how loyal her fan base is, and if that’s enough to squeeze 4th out from the others.
Paul Rey - The Missing Piece
Laurell Barker, Paul Rey and Fredrik Sonefors
Paul Rey’s back with another ballad in a similar vein to his previous attempt. What is different though is that, rather than being all on the beat as ‘Talking In My Sleep’ was last year, this is more guitar based and gives space for Paul to emote. There’s feeling in this song and the minor chord switch at the start of the bridge really engages the ear to listen to the lyrics. Lyrically it’s a touch simple for my taste but the song progresses around the theme nicely. For a reference point there’s a similarity to ‘The Bubble’ that took place in Melodi Grand Prix in 2019 and finished 2nd to KEiiNO, but I think this is a cleverer composition all round.
I note that Paul is meant to have some nice staging elements going on (moving components that will eventually complete his jigsaw) and if he can focus on selling this to the camera, which should be easier in these times, I can see him in the mix to go through.
The odds of 3.8 on Smarkets are the best available currently, which feels about right. I don’t think the one minute clip will make this overly stand out, so hard to see money pouring in for this any shorter.
Arvingarna - Tänker inte alls gå hem
Stefan Brunzell, Nanne Grönvall, Thomas G:son och Bobby Ljunggren.
This song started off as an almost parody of old dansbands and schlagers from year’s gone by - I can’t put my finger on exactly which ones but it will sound so familiar to those who have been following Melodifestivalen for years. Eventually though it kicks into a song far superior to ‘I Do’, their 2019 entry, and just builds and builds into a completely joyous and oh-so-Swedish number that I think everybody has been craving for months through this deep dark winter. And what a clever and stunning key change to get us there too!
Arvingarna comfortably made Andra Chansen last time yet were well away from qualifying. This song is comfortably guaranteed top 4 again, with top 2 a distinct possibility. The question mark is if this can get enough points from the younger ages to sneak it into 2nd place in this heat - as ‘I Do’ finished 5th in its 2019 heat back then. Possibly will get some 12 points from the older voters to compensate (with no John Lundvik to steal those points from either).
Arvingarna collapsed in the betting market on release. They were available at 5s before the songs came out and have continued to crash from 3s after the betting markets reopened again to already trading below evens (2.15 best odds now available). It needs to have a certain type of joy and charisma to go direct to the final, but on listening to the tracks I have to say that it does seem most likely at the minute.
Nathalie Brydolf - Fingerprints
Laurell Barker, Anna-Klara Folin, Andreas ”Stone” Johansson and Etta Zelmani
I was genuinely surprised by this beautiful ballad, tenderly written with attention to detail in the piano rhythms to give a precision element to this that the title ‘Fingerprints’ craves. It is a stunning little composition and Nathalie’s voice sounded gorgeous. The whole thing is a class above what we usually see in Melodifestivalen. The one thing I’ll say is that, for a contest song, the last minute builds too slowly and not to a big enough climax, which I was really willing the song to do.
There’s not much chance of a song like this ever getting the breathing room needed to go directly to the final (at least without a jury), but there’s a small outside chance we could hear it after Saturday night. I’ll be listening to it at least.
Not much movement here and Nathalie is 8.5 on Unibet to qualify. There could be value in this squeezing into 4th place with Andra Chansen, but I think sadly we are more likely to see this 5th or 6th. Or maybe 7th. That would be heartbreaking if so.
Danny Saucedo - Dandi Dansa
Karl-Johan Råsmark och Danny Saucedo
In terms of style my original thought here was that this was Melfest going very Uptown Funk. As a song, listening through headphones by myself, there’s little say and little connection with the music. But this song is a song for a performance, and we’ve been promised a show by Danny and Fredrik ‘Benke’ Rydman, the man behind Måns’ stick man in 2015, surely has some tricks up his sleeve with this.
I don’t see this as necessarily anything to write home about. But ruling it out of contention based on that is dangerous. This is a stage and performance song that makes little sense with the audio alone, and Danny will still be the one to beat on Saturday night.
There was a small drift in the odds to have Danny best priced at 1.15 from being crazy short earlier. There is more doubt in this now, with many mentioning how Felix Sandman was so short last year. However Felix was never the crowd pleaser that Danny is, and I’ve no doubt this number will be all about the artist. That said, I might be looking at other artists in the win Melodifestivalen category now.
Melodifestivalen’s first heat is ludicrously strong on paper. With big name artists and songwriters galore, SVT are kicking off the party in style.
Danny Saucedo is the huge favourite. Lots of people love Danny and he's guaranteed support from families from Luleå to Lund. The huge question mark is about what he brings to the table - he has already said he isn’t in it to win it, but to show off a new style when other avenues are closed. Felix Sandman was favourite at this point for the entire competition last year in the same slot, ending heat 1, but he went to Andra Chansen with his alternative Boys With Emotion track.
Danny *should* be too big for that to happen, but I note that there’s no early exchange money on Danny at all, such is the uncertainty. He dropped from being favourite with Eric Saade getting drawn last, and I have the feeling he is more likely to finish a comfortable 3rd overall than be in winning contention. Very intriguing though, and seeing as though he averages under 1.1 with the bookies I’ll just ignore this and see what happens when we hear more of the song.
To be honest it is unthinkable to me that Arvingarna and Jessica Andersson can do anything worse than Andra Chansen. These previous winners have G:Son and Kempe respectively as big name songwriters, and we’re expecting them to deliver exactly what their fans want. Both are currently 4th and 5th favourites to qualify, which surprises me. It’s early days, but I suspect the 8.0 on Bet365 for Jessica Anderssson to qualify directly is a great early investment. Jessica did qualify directly on her past two attempts in 2015 and 2018 with frankly mediocre songs.
The second and third favourites are younger artists, Paul Rey and Kadiatou. Paul Rey competed last year with Talking In My Sleep - a nice if pedestrian modern ballad that I felt Paul Rey ruined by being far too jumpy on stage, rather than emoting the story. Yet despite this SVT have had plenty of Paul on their TV screens this year to give him a higher profile. I think it will depend on the song, which he has co-written, to see if that gives it the right feel. Being put between both veterans in the running order also seems like a huge squeeze.
Yet if all the above I say is true that means there is no place for Kadiatou, the former Idol contestant asked to open the show, which caused her odds to drop in many places under 20s. I’ve not been sold on Kadiatou’s Idol performances, and while I expect the song to be uptempo and app friendly chart hit, she’ll have to bang out a huge performance to move from mid-table to qualifier. Being 2nd favourite at the moment is based on her potential, rather than a proven track record.
Nothing as yet suggests that Nathalie Brydolf or Lillsyster are in with a chance, with a clear top 5 that would progress to the second round of voting, but I would love for them to get in the mix.
Assuming Danny goes through, I’d say anything from 2nd to 5th in the odds has almost equal chance of making it to the final directly or going out directly, and I’m a bit surprised the odds have skewed so much towards the younger artists, given how the app gives older voters a bigger voice currently and that heat one often sees viewers go for well established names.