So the Irish have decided to send Jedward to Dusseldorf. Can they win? Either way, Jedward’s participation is a good thing for those of us who like a punt on Eurovision: it raises the profile of the contest in both the UK and Ireland. It will attract a new demographic and new punters to the competition in both countries.
You can love or hate the twins, but there’s no denying their ability to generate headlines. In that respect they did have the X Factor when they appeared on the UK talent contest in 2009. The producers recognised it and helped keep them in until Week 7. Their rendition of ‘Oops I Did It Again’ was one of the TV highlights of the year.
So, what opportunities may they generate for punters? It’s early days, but possibly plenty.
The last time the Irish sent an eccentric homespun hero, there were opportunities. That was Dustin the Turkey in 2008. You may or may not remember he was a singing puppet who took the piss out of Terry Wogan’s wig amongst other aspects of the contest.
The lyrics were achingly funny. It sounded awful. And the joke was entirely lost on the rest of Europe. It finished 15th of 19 in the semi-final. Yet, soon after being chosen, Dustin was an early favourite to win the whole contest at around 6-1. You could bet against Dustin winning the whole thing for a return of over 15% – and I did. That was free money.
Jedward are not as short in the early win market, so you are not going to make a great return laying them for the contest. Because Jedward’s chances of winning are indeed, in my opinion, very small. Not necessarily because of the song, which is cheap but contemporary and immediate. And not necessarily because of the pair themselves, who bring a huge amount of energy to the stage.
However, firstly it is not a jury song, which is where 50% of the decision ultimately lies. Juries tend to favour ballads and/or simple presentations, neither of which the boys offer. Quite the opposite, in fact – and my main criticism is that the overall effect of ‘Lipstick’ is most probably going to be very frantic in Dusseldorf as it was in the National Final.
Their vocals, though stronger than they were in 2009, are still weak. Backing singers can cover this effectively enough for most of the televoting public, but it’s not going to win round juries sceptical of the show the twins will undoubtedly put on.
The televoters could go either way. There’s no doubt that the twins are visually memorable, and that’s important in Eurovision. Ireland though, have a similar handicap to the UK in Eurovision – they can only rely on each other for friendly voting. Jedward and their hype within Britain means nothing to the vast majority of Europe.
Add these two things together, and a Jedward win seems highly unlikely. Nor is it likely to be what their management are banking on: if they have any sense, they will instead be viewing this as a golden opportunity to extend their marketable shelflife by a few months in the UK, meanwhile cementing their status among their loyal fanbase in Ireland.
A more interesting question will come when the betting market on qualification from the second semi-final – which Jedward have been allotted to – takes shape. The semi is due to take place on Thursday 12th May and a top ten finish is required to take part in the final.
Jedward have to overcome the fact that the UK are voting in the other semi-final. However, that other semi-final looks like a much stronger affair at this early stage in that it contains all the big guns that traditionally do well out of neighbourly voting.
Jedward could therefore be short odds to qualify, and there conceivably may be value in betting on them to fail to manage even this, just like Dustin.
But this is very early speculation when only two other songs have been chosen out of the 18 other rivals in this heat. There could be plenty of dreadful songs in opposition and this could be a very weak semi.
Even when all the other countries have chosen, by March 14th, when the running order for each semi is drawn, it may be hard to tell their qualification chances. The blogs on how the staging and vocals are working for Jedward in rehearsals during the two weeks leading up to the contest will tell us much more about how well it is coming together.
So for me, it’s a case of wait and see – on qualification, not winning. What do you think?