First Listen Review attempts to capture my first impressions of the year’s Eurovision entries as and when they’re released. My opinion is liable to change as certain songs grow on me or get revamped, but based on the principle that most listeners will only hear each entry once (or twice) before voting, hopefully it’ll provide some insight.

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Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes

Måns Zelmerlöw - Heroes | Eurovision 2015 Sweden

Måns Zelmerlöw is a three-time Melodifestivalen veteran who has worked extensively as a singer, songwriter and TV personality in his native Sweden.

More than any other country, Sweden appear to have cracked the formula for success at Eurovision. Their high level of engagement is a product of a long, rich association with the contest and their position as a world leader in pop music production. In Melodifestivalen, they have the perfect dry run with which to test every aspect of their potential entries – from staging to live vocals to jury appeal. There’s still a margin for error – Anna Bergendahl – but on the whole, there’s a reason why they’ve (re)emerged as such a powerhouse over the past five years.

They’re the favourites again this year – at least at time of writing. A number one hit at home already, ‘Heroes‘ marries an anthemic dance-pop chorus with a genuinely impressive vocal from Måns Zelmerlöw that should unite jurors and televoters alike in appreciation. Throw in a striking and good-natured visual hook, and you’ve got a pop package that’ll be difficult to top.

Is it as good as ‘Euphoria? No, but the competition isn’t as strong this year as it was in 2012, and it’s distinctive enough to largely avoid the shadow of its globe-conquering predecessor. Where Loreen’s entry had a brooding nineties trance vibe, Heroes owes more to current EDM overlords David Guetta and Avicii. The former’s ‘Lovers On The Sun‘ is the most obvious point of comparison, although the countryfied verses are also very reminiscent of ‘Hey Brother and ‘Wake Me Up.

The only possible achilles heel for this entry is the challenge of recreating the Melodifestivalen performance in Vienna. Assuming they’re allowed to use the LED screen it shouldn’t be a problem, although the effect is highly dependent on good camera work, so in that sense the Swedish team are slightly at the mercy of the Austrians (I’m still haunted by the absolute dogs dinner the Belgrade team made of Charlotte Perrelli’s Hero performance in 2008).

Minor concerns aside, I’d be very surprised if this didn’t at the very least finish in the top 5. Part of me thinks the contest as a whole might benefit from staying out of Scandinavia for another year, but as a full package it’s hard to deny that this has winner written all over it – and if it inspires an increase in the overall energy levels of the class of 2016 entries, I certainly won’t be complaining.