Eurovision 2018: Melfest, and recent selections

Happy Melfest day! Since 2016, app voting in the final (indicated by the beating heart on TV screens) has had the effect of levelling off televoting scores (Swedish viewers can give up to five app votes for each act), allowing the international juries to wield huge power with their more differentiated points.

There’s been a small attempt to counteract this in 2018, though it’s worth mentioning it wouldn’t have changed the result in the last few years, and perhaps just as crucially, the sequencing remains the same: televoting lines will remain open as the jury results are announced, and viewers will be motivated to get behind one of the few acts still in with a chance.

International juries have tended to favour contemporary, well-staged packages, and Benjamin Ingrosso’s ‘Dance You Off’ certainly falls into that category. During the heats, he also managed the longest flaming heart graphic, indicating the strength of app voting during his routine. All this plus the betting market suggests it’s his to lose, though expect a few curveballs from those juries along the way.

Continue reading Eurovision 2018: Melfest, and recent selections

Eurovision 2018: Eesti Laul, and recent selections

The are five national finals tonight, though the betting community will also have eyes for Melodifestivalen’s Second Chance round. It’ll be interesting to see how the outright market reacts to Eesti Laul and the presumed coronation of Elina Nechayeva’s ‘La Forza‘. Her success in Estonia has become something of a foregone conclusion.

On this day last year, ‘Verona’ drifted in the betting despite being reasonably ahead in the most important online poll – from the newspaper Postimees. This year’s poll has the opera singer massively ahead of her rivals, reiterating what the odds suggest. The format remains the same: a first round based on 50/50 jury/televote; followed by a superfinal of three with the winner crowned by televote alone.

Continue reading Eurovision 2018: Eesti Laul, and recent selections

Eurovision 2018: The German national final, and recent selections

Eurovision selection season now steps up a gear, though who knows when we’ll get clarity on the leading contenders. At the time of going to press, five countries vie for favouritism in the Betfair outright market – no clear-cut frontrunner has emerged.

Finland is one of those five, and tomorrow we’ll hear the last of Saara Aalto’s three options, ‘Queens’. Sweden is another one, and earlier in the day we’ll get snippets of the remaining songs entered in Melodifestivalen. Thursday’s programme also includes the second Armenian semi-final, and the German final – which can be an entertaining affair.

After two last places in a row, followed by second-last, the German broadcaster has gone through an exhaustive process to give us six adequate songs. The front-runner appears to be Michael Schulte who is getting some Roman Lob comparisons for a song about his dead father, ‘You Let Me Walk Alone‘.

Continue reading Eurovision 2018: The German national final, and recent selections

Eurovision 2018: The UK national final, and recent selections

Tonight’s UK final takes place at the Brighton Dome, venue of Abba’s Eurovision triumph in 1974. The BBC have put together six adequate songs, arguably a better collection than last year’s. My one general criticism is they feel too safe, as if written for and approved by committee.

The most distinctive in studio form is Asanda’s ‘Legends’. The 16-year-old was last seen on TV screens as a precocious finalist in 2013’s Britain’s Got Talent. She’ll need that experience, as one problem with the martial, high-energy ‘Legends’ is it doesn’t give her a chance to draw breath. Rumours are this is the preferred BBC choice, but live performance will make or break it, and short prices don’t appeal as a result.

Continue reading Eurovision 2018: The UK national final, and recent selections

Eurovision 2018: The French national final, and early state of play

The road to Lisbon really kicks into gear with the French national final tonight. A decent field of eight is, according to the Betfair market, a two-horse race between the semi-final winners, Lisandro Cuxi with ‘Eva‘ and Madame Monsieur with ‘Mercy‘. The former is marginal favourite at the time of going to press.

The Voice champion Lisandro is a decent performer, but ‘Eva’ is rather bland in a Eurovision context, and I think France would be wiser to pick Madame Monsieur with their minimalist electro number about a refugee child. It has top ten potential come May. The decision is half in the hands of French televoters, and half decided by a panel of international jurors. If you don’t get France 2 on your cable package, their Facebook feed will live stream the event from 7.55pm tonight.

Continue reading Eurovision 2018: The French national final, and early state of play

X Factor 2017: Coming Up Roses

What a difference a year makes. After last year’s final, we were scratching our heads about what exactly producers had been trying to achieve. There was no such uncertainty this year, and we have to doff our caps again to producers for what they’ve managed to pull off. It’s pretty amazing that we had a final Sunday involving two acts each performing two original numbers, rather than belting out ‘Proud Mary’ or ‘Feelin’ Good’ for the zillionth time. Will it be enough to revitalise the franchise? Let’s hope so – we’ll see next year.

Rak-Su won comfortably in the end, though the voting statistics showed why producers weren’t taking any chances: they’d beaten Grace by only 1.3 percentage points in the semi-final Sunday, admittedly from second slot in the running order with Grace performing last. They were ahead in the final by 41.7% to Grace’s 35.4% at the vote freeze for Kevin’s elimination, and widened their gap when the vote re-opened. By our calculations, the split was 54/46 while Kevin was still in it, and 57/43 when it was head-to-head.

Continue reading X Factor 2017: Coming Up Roses

Rak-Su win X Factor 2017

Manband Rak-Su became the second group to win X Factor. The Watford quartet beat Grace Davies on the final night after a weekend of programmes in which their victory was clearly preferred. When Nicole said, “For me, it’s Rak-Su to win”, the writing was on the wall.

For those wanting to get a sense of the work that went into their journey, this article is an excellent primer. Reading it will help pass the time before we get the hotly-anticipated voting stats for the whole series. Do let us know your continued thoughts below.

X Factor 2017 Final Update: Rak on Track?

Producers couldn’t have set out their stall any more clearly last night for a Rak-Su victory, even if it didn’t look like every last moment had been meticulously planned – the duet staging for ‘Dimelo’ was a hot mess, with the never-introduced-on-stage Naughty Boy looking like a random bloke tapping out an email.

Still, while it may have been confusing, at least the addition of Naughty Boy and Wyclef Jean wasn’t to the detriment of the song. The same can’t be said for Grace’s duet: the introduction of Paloma Faith had the effect of thoroughly undercutting the intimate appeal of ‘Roots’. Perhaps that was the intention.

Continue reading X Factor 2017 Final Update: Rak on Track?