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Melodifestivalen Heat 4 Betting Review

Update on Wednesday after listening to the songs:

It always feels somewhat like the end of an era when we reach this point and I have finally heard all of the 28 songs in contention for Sweden to make the Eurovision Song Contest. At this point in the season Sweden’s high quality production of Melodifestivalen still keeps the nation up there as one of the favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest, and this show as some of the biggest names remaining.

Heat 4 is a big deal in this show, with nine of the twenty winners since the four heat show began coming in this round. Will any of these be in the mix to win it all?

Tess Merkel - Good Life

There’s no surprise that Tess goes disco to open the show, and there are similarities between this and her previous work with Alcazar, especially the spoken bridge section that had me going straight back to Alcastar which I adored back in 2005. There’s a very different kind of disco in this, somewhat more in keeping with BWO’s entries, particularly in the verse, and in the chorus is a step away from catchy schlager. That’s not to say it’s not catchy, but not Charlotte Perrelli’s song from last week.

In terms of name, despite her most experience being as part of Alcazar, Tess is probably the third biggest name in this list this week. There are some expectations from the photos released by SVT for millimetre perfect precision in this number, and a stage show that is true girl power. One would expect Andra Chansen.

There's a chance that this is more than evens when the betting markets open up for the Andra Chansen market, which would be sensible for this type of number. The best bookie odds at 5.5 (Betway) but there’s some 8s on the Betfair exchange at the time of writing. I think that may drop tomorrow when the studio versions come out at 13:30 on Thursday as it will sound more polished, and more fan favourite, than the others.

Lovad - Allting är precis likadant

This is a majestic little piece of music. Starting off acapella with a choir making ‘hmmm’ sounds in the background, this has a haunting quality that demands the audience to listen hard. This would fit perfectly on the more modern albums by Molly Sandén and SVT would love to have this in the competition. It was engaging enough for me to check out the lyrics in detail, and the song tells the story of a relationship where the mistakes are made over and over again. Very interested to see this live.

I know this is such a typical number for SVT to draw second in the running order, but I wish it wasn’t. This is such a special little song, and I feel the placing in the show (as well as, yes I admit, a lack of build and crescendo that means it feels a little bit ‘done’ after two minutes) just cements the fact that its uncompetitive. I’m hoping that appearing on live TV to the nation, even if it means just doing so for one time only, is worthwhile.

I find it interesting to note that this has only matched once on Betfair at a very short 6.2, and nothing has chased this in either direction after today’s listenings. 14s are available at Unibet but I can’t see it chasing up that far unless staging is brilliant. Might be better for the market to ignore and take up when Andra Chansen odds appear if Thursday reviews are positive. But this has a mountain to climb, and I don’t think LOVAD will have the character to get neutral votes. Last has to be considered.

Efraim Leo - Best of Me

In the introduction to the songs Karin Gunnarsson, the Competition Co-ordinator at Melodifestivalen, proudly revealed that this song was written at their designated songwriting camp Mello Kollo. It shows. If I had to place this into any national final on the planet it would be our dear neighbours Denmark, and if you know me that’s no complement. The production is spot on and I particularly like the beat that the Scandinavians will love to clap along to. But it’s all been done before and reminds me of a more anonymous version of stuff from David Lindgren about 8 years ago.

At the same time if this young artist can dance (which is promised) and stare into the camera longingly, the app will love this disproportinately and there could be high scores from the kids. It sounds like something that could be 4th or 5th and, should it reach Andra Chansen, would be one of those you would be scared of possibly knocking out a bigger name (you all remember Loreen don’t you).

This started off shorter in the odds but then became the outsider today after listening and is now 16s. Definitely some Andra Chansen possibilities when those markets open, just because we all know how this style of pop has a safe audience

The Mamas - In The Middle

Last year’s winners are back to take the path to Rotterdam that many think is their right. This is not as punchy as ‘Move’ and while there’s plenty of hooks, and even a key change, the feeling is that the track is stuck in second gear and isn’t the clear winner many were expecting. However we must remember that last year The Mamas didn’t impress much in the studio version as well at this point, but they delivered the goods when it came to the live performance.

The Mamas, as last year’s winner, are expected by many to comfortably qualify because this semi final is devoid of big names and the sympathy vote may be huge. This needs to be a performance that is memorable, and having the same staging team behind their winner last year, and the three Melodifestivalen winners before that, means this could elevate. It has to, surely? At the moment the expectation is to finish 2nd in this heat, but it’s not quite the sure fire thing it was thought of last week.

Betting wise this is tough to predict. The Mamas are best priced 1.25 with Betsson, which I’d say is just a bit too short for the way this is currently, and I suspect it will drift on Thursday afternoon, and maybe come back in when the clips are released. If it stays short a little Andra Chansen bet may be worth it, but that needs somebody else to take that place at the top, and there isn’t an obvious candidate for that.

Sannex - All Inclusive

I’ve quietly had high expectations for this, in a comedy Melfest kind of way since the announcement of artists. ‘All Inclusive’ is exactly what it says on the tin, a track reminding everybody about the joys of heading abroad on holiday and doing nothing more than enjoying drink after drink in the sunshine. It’s definitely an 8/10 for humour with the Swedish lyrics but it’s not going to work on all levels like a Sean Banan character could. Production wise doesn’t quite live up to that expectation, and it feels more charter holiday than luxury resort - this is just another Swedish silly song and there’s little finesse in the production.

Thematically this is on point for the world we are in today, and I can see love for it but it’s going to have to pull off the kitsch factor in a big way. I would say this is on that 4th/5th bubble alongside Efraim Leo at the moment, but I think whereas that has a narrow range of voters this number is harder to predict.

Sannex have shortened during the day, I’m not particularly sure why, into 6.5 with most (still 12s with Betway if you are fast). I know there’s plenty of evidence of shock ‘joke’ qualifiers in this last heat and it has to be in the mix, and the 12’s would be worth an outside chance. The bet I think I like most is for Sannex to beat LOVAD which is 1.66 with Svenska Spel.

Clara Klingenström - Behöver inte dig idag

Clara Klingenström describes this as a revenge song, and despite the pictures of her with an electric guitar this isn’t going to scream in your face for three minutes. This very Swedish reserved anger is very Scandinavian, and the inner conflict of relationship struggles makes it easy to see parallels here with Melissa Horn, a popular Swedish artist here who would be my personal dream booking for Melfest. However Melissa’s acoustic guitar tracks offer just a bit more room to breathe and to emote, which I missed listening to this one.

I can’t help but feel that, while this song is well intentioned in the line up, that Clara just is in a whole different sphere to what Melfest is, and that there’s not a voting public who are going to think this is what they want from Melodifestivalen Heat 4. With that in mind I see this in contention for last with LOVAD, and despite their styles being very contemporary they haven’t been tested competitively and I don’t think this experiment will change that.

It’s currently Svenska Spel who have the best odds available with at 14s. Unlikely. As the other bookies have this shorter than LOVAD there might be value in the last place market - I can’t split it at the moment and of the two I probably prefer LOVAD’s track. And I should like this style

Eric Saade - Every Minute

Does Eric need an introduction? I don’t think so. Saade promised that this would be a sexy number and it certainly is the most grown up song we’ve had from him, Manboy is world’s away from this. For a Eurovision comparison I hear a similar beat to that from Sandro’s ‘Running’, the 2020 Cypriot entry, but this is much superior to that anonymous track. There’s plenty of vocal effects on play here including an arrestingly fascinating Middle Eastern sounding one in the post-chorus.

As a song alone it is very good and will go through, but my instinct is that this feels top 3 but no more. Yet Saade is more than the song, it is the whole show that he will bring to it. He is back together with Fredrik ‘Benke’ Rydman who was behind the staging of ‘Popular’ and ‘Heroes’ by Måns Zelmerlöw, and I’ve spotted photos from the first run through where Eric is attached to a big bungee cord that could lead to, once again, him being behind the most iconic visual moment in the show. The visual appeal is what needs to be spot on and so staggeringly hot to take Eric to Eurovision once again.

Odds wise there’s little value in Eric in this heat, as you would expect. I don’t recommend anything on Eric at this point in the final market until we see staging. What happens tomorrow, when the free world gets to hear the one minute clips, is that the market move to win Melodifestivalen just piles onto Tusse even more and pushes him down under evens.

There were five pre contest favourites in Melodifestivalen 2021, meaning two of them had to be in the same heat. The two selected were Eric Saade, singing last, and last year’s winners The Mamas. SVT may not want another Mamas victory, but allowing song 4 out of 7 to be their song ‘In The Middle’ (insert obvious pun here) is enough to mean that a running order that isn’t last place shouldn’t harm their chances of winning.

One surely assumes these two acts sail through, and while Saade is too short The Mamas at 1.76 (Svenska Spel) seems very fair for an act that last year destroyed everyone’s low expectations.

I’m surprised at Clara Klingenström being 3rd favourite here. I had pigeonholed Clara as an artist in for promotion, rather than for being competitive, and being placed just before Eric Saade in the running order suggested to me that there wasn’t much faith in this going further. Tess Merkel, ex-Alcazar, isn’t one I’m holding out huge hopes for either, and I would be surprised to see her in the final.

Instead my eye is watching Sannex vividly. Drawn 5th in heat 4, this is a great part of the Melodifestivalen storyline where what I’m assuming to be a slapstick piece of dansband comedy can find a home and get lots of votes. The title All Inclusive suggests something indulgently escapist from the cold Swedish winter. While qualification might be a stretch, 9.0 with CoolBet may cover a shock.

Finally I have Efraim Leo to mention here. We’re expecting a driving pop song and there’s not much fanfare about the newcomer, 3rd in the show dampened any early outsider speculation. I note though that he has been matched as low as 23s to win Melodifestivalen and at 12.50 to qualify from this heat, when 19s are available elsewhere (Svenska Spel). As of the end of January roughly 20% of the money on the Betfair Exchange on Melodifestivalen 2021 was on Efraim. No idea who, but somebody somewhere fancies him to do something good.

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