BGT2015: Semi-finals discussion thread

With perfect timing, Eurovision ends and the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent begin. Every day this coming working week, the varied acts will go before a public vote for a place in the final. It’s one of the most enjoyable and manipulative TV talent shows for the betting community. Having just returned from Vienna, I’m a little behind what’s going on. Our hardy band of regular commenters are no doubt on the ball, though – do keep the conversation going throughout the week.

Eurovision 2015: Sweden wins

Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow was victorious in this year’s contest with ‘Heroes’. In another year’s validation of the betting market, the pre-show top five came to pass: Sweden, Russia, Italy, Belgium and Australia. Other top ten fancies Latvia, Estonia and Norway filled the next places, followed by Israel and Serbia. Austria and Germany were joint-last with nul points.

Predictably enough, Russia and Sweden won their respective semi-finals. In the first semi-final, Belgium and Estonia placed, Albania were tenth and Moldova 11th. In the second semi-final, Latvia and Israel placed, Azerbaijan were tenth and Malta 11th. Finland and Switzerland were last in their heats. Full results can be found on the official site.

Many thanks to all the Sofabet commenters for their kind words and friendly dialogue. It’s been a pleasure as always – I’m looking forward to Stockholm already.

Eurovision 2015: Grand final preview

The beauty of Eurovision is that no-one has all the answers. I analyse it to death, yet gut feeling is also part of the final call. That’s particularly the case this year, with five or so worthy contenders and a few dark horses. You’ll hear some differing opinions about who wins tonight. That’s because nobody is sure, and gut instinct is playing a part.

Analysis and gut instinct continues to make me think that Sweden is tonight’s likeliest winner. Let’s start with the analysis: a Melodifestivalen televote that topped Loreen’s; an utterly compelling visual and audio package, especially for the first-time viewer; the sense that this was the most obvious Europe-wide chart hit, confirmed by iTunes chart positions after the second semi-final; and now a voting order that whilst not definitive, is more encouraging for Sweden than for one of its biggest rivals (Russia).

My gut instinct also tells me I’d be more shocked to see Sweden score poorly in any country’s points total. I will more likely attribute it to a rogue jury-only score or indeed tactical jury voting – which happened on a small scale last year against some of the market leaders. I can’t say the same for any other contenders. I can envisage Russia, Belgium, Italy and Australia having their blips on the scoreboard. Put bluntly: if there’s a runaway winner, I’d be slightly surprised if it’s anyone but Sweden.

Continue reading Eurovision 2015: Grand final preview

Eurovision 2015: May 22 rehearsals

The first final dress rehearsal is always a little ragged. The second semi-final qualifiers are getting over a late night, and there are usually technical problems for the new running order.

We started off with Slovenia, which feels like a decent opener: a solid song that’s chilled but has a beat. There wasn’t any change in today’s performance. It’s followed by France, whose war anthem is in the death slot. It’s largely relying on jury support to help it on the scoreboard. Israel’s ‘Golden Boy’ feels like the real opener of the show, and I still think it’s getting a fair few televotes even from this early slot.

Continue reading Eurovision 2015: May 22 rehearsals

Eurovision 2015: Second semi-final preview

One of the easier things to predict about the second semi-final is the winner. I had been chipping away on Sweden at 1.5 on Betfair over the last month, and it’s a shorter price now. The strength of the package would be enough even without considering its decent slot in the running order and the more western nature of the countries voting in this heat.

One reason I had been backing Sweden was the sense that its main rivals in this heat were overrated. I like Norway’s ‘A Monster Like Me’ at a personal level but was concerned that it had just scraped through from its national final. After last night’s impressive jury rehearsal, it does look like a definite qualifier, however.

Continue reading Eurovision 2015: Second semi-final preview

Eurovision 2015: Semi-final 2, first dress rehearsal

The first dress rehearsal of the second semi-final felt like it asked more questions than it answered. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the lead vocals felt a little loud in the sound mix, and there were occasionally off-putting moments of fake applause.

Lithuania remains as bouncy as before. If anything, there was even more skipping on stage for ‘This Time’. They have now established the new final shot at the back, showing the audience behind them, which is very effective. My one hope is Vaidas drops his cringey ad lib during the instrumental break. It went from “Come On Eurovision” previously to “Make some noise, Vienna” this afternoon.

Continue reading Eurovision 2015: Semi-final 2, first dress rehearsal

Eurovision 2015: May 20 rehearsals

No rest for the wicked. Hard on the heels of yesterday’s first semi-final comes a day that includes the second rehearsals of the automatic qualifiers, followed by two dress rehearsals for the second semi-final, including the one that national juries vote on this evening at 9pmCET. Expect a quick write-up of the first dress rehearsal and Twitter action for both.

In the meantime, here’s how I saw the automatic qualifiers progressing.

Continue reading Eurovision 2015: May 20 rehearsals

Eurovision 2015: First semi-final preview

Eurovision is upon us. Tonight’s first semi-final contains the usual caveats: there are only 16 countries chasing ten qualifying spots; a points total in the 40s may well be enough; we are likely to get 4-5 jury-only votes; thus a rogue jury score or two could make all the difference between getting through or not. (At least in the final top ten market, there’s a more competitive field of 27, and a points total of at least 70 required.)

With that in mind, here are my thoughts based on watching run-throughs in the press centre this week, including last night’s crucial dress rehearsal which national juries have voted on.

Continue reading Eurovision 2015: First semi-final preview