Reading blogs about Eurovision rehearsals feels like legal insider trading. Get told what’s going to happen on the big night. It sounds like a punter’s dream, and it can be.
My biggest and most profitable individual bets in 2009 (Moldova qualifying) and 2008 (Portugal qualifying) relied on rehearsal blogs backed up by video footage. Neither were particularly on my radar before rehearsals began.
But be careful. Firstly, don’t take every comment on trust, and there are some blogs to be avoided altogether. Official sites are full of platitudes and of no use whatsoever. Other sites like Oikotimes can have their own agenda and are no better.
So what blogs should you look to? The most influential blogger is arguably Keith Mills from All Kinds of Everything. A more light-hearted but still discerning take can be found at OnEurope. Plenty of shrewd people present at rehearsals will also be commenting on the ESCNation messageboard.
These are the ones to follow. But even the best of bloggers come at rehearsals with a different viewpoint to the casual voter. They are hardcore Eurovision fans who know the songs beforehand and have preconceived views of them.
Look through bloggers’ archives and previews to see how rehearsal comments chime in with what they have said before. They might be praising or dismissing songs because this is how they already feel about them. Paradoxically, a performance different from their expectations can also be dangerous.
Let me explain. Every year there are a number of rehearsal comments which amount to ‘this is better than I expected’. That doesn’t mean the song is going anywhere. Similarly, the hyped entries can be judged more exactingly. Doesn’t mean they are going to bomb.
Don’t get carried away with an occasional positive blog comment, especially if it’s early on during the two-week rehearsal schedule. But if there is general agreement over a series of rehearsals, that is worth noting, though even performances that have gained widespread momentum can be anything from a winner to a flop.
Most importantly, thanks to video footage, you can judge for yourself. Clips from the rehearsals are put on YouTube and various Eurovision sites. That makes it easier for you not to take the blogs completely at face value. However vital they are and profitable they can be to follow.
Rehearsal hype can go either way. In 2004, Ukraine was heralded by the blogs, and took the prize. In 2008, Portugal came from nowhere to finish second in its semi after some rave reviews, but Andorra in 2007 failed to qualify despite bloggers’ enthusiasm.
All recent winners have faced criticism in rehearsal blogs. Even the widely-predicted 2009 victor Alexander Rybak had his vocals come under fire. Dima Bilan in 2008 and Marija Serifovic in 2007 both won after bloggers had questioned the way their songs were staged.
General Eurovision Advice
DO analyse the rehearsal blogs – they are invaluable as an idea of how the songs come across on stage
DON’T be completely reliant on them. They can be based on the author’s long-held preconceptions