The biggest mover in the Eurovision 2011 betting markets after last night’s “Super Saturday”, when six countries selected their entries, was Estonia. ‘Rockefeller Street’, by Getter Jaani, was challenging Germany as second favourite to Norway with Betfair at the time of going to press.
I’m pleased ‘Rockefeller Street’ got through as it is my personal favourite of all the songs I’ve heard in the national finals so far. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it a winner. Betting based on personal predilection is an easy and dangerous path – I have argued that as a Eurovision punter you need to listen to your head not your heart.
So what does my head tell me about Estonia’s chances of taking Eurovision 2011?
There are plenty of positives. Firstly, we have a pretty young girl with plenty of charisma and good moves singing about an easily understandable theme (nighttime in New York).
Therefore, it has all the elements to be visually very appealing. Don’t let the low-budget, in-the-round staging of the Estonian final put you off. The higher production values of the Eurovision extravaganza will make a huge difference (as they do for most countries, apart from those – like Sweden – whose national finals feel even more glitzy than the event itself). The staging of ‘Rockefeller Street’ in the Estonian final was itself a huge improvement on the messy semi-final performance.
The song is immediate and sounds contemporary. It feels like a Katy Perry number, especially given that Jaani bears a passing resemblance to the American.
It has a strong team with pedigree behind it. Writer Sven Lohmus also penned Urban Symphony’s excellent ‘Randajad’ which managed sixth place for Estonia behind Norway’s Alexander Rybak in 2009.
That effort managed to get plenty of points from the former Soviet Union counties as well as the Baltic/Nordic bloc, which Estonia straddles.
So what stands in Rockefeller Street’s way? There are two aspects about the song that could prove problematic.
Firstly, the melodic line of the refrain is a rather simple chant. Now, there is nothing wrong with this simplicity, but it’s not the strength of the song.
The strength of the song in my personal opinion is also, ironically, the second potential problem I see in its appeal to the Eurovision audience. That’s the changes of tempo from verse to chorus and also within the bridge.
As composition goes, it’s cute, modern and clever, but in Eurovision terms a more regularly-paced song or one that builds is usually more effective in pleasing an audience who only have three minutes to assimilate it.
A good example of a contemporary Eurovision entry that changed tempo too many times was Iceland’s 2005 effort, ‘If I Had Your Love’, a personal favourite of mine that year. It sounded great on the radio and in its promotional video, with a touch of Britney Spears’s ‘Toxic’. Hindered by poor staging, however, its modern and disjointed sound failed to convince televoters and it didn’t even qualify from the semi.
I don’t think ‘Rockefeller Street’ is such an extreme case of this potential problem, but I do think it is something the song’s supporters should worry about. The responsibility will be on Jaani to make these transitions effectively. Vocally, she’s not much more than adequate – but she did show in the Estonian final that she has the potential to keep it all flowing, helped by toned-down staging which meant she kept her breath a bit more.
What will the juries make of ‘Rockefeller Street’? Here we are venturing into the unknown as there’s no obvious parallel in the two years since the juries’ reintroduction. It is worth noting that the juries were happy enough with Romania’s upbeat effort last year with its rather simple refrain, although that was more traditional in maintaining a constant tempo.
With over a third of the songs still to be chosen, predictions must still be speculative. But I do expect ‘Rockefeller Street’ to end up as one of the four or five songs each year that typically stand out as being of higher quality, and that should help with the juries.
I’m not on Estonia in the outright winner market. Before the national finals I cheekily tried to get a 60-1 offer matched, and failed. Jaani is now at single figures and that seems short enough for something that, whilst it has Eurovision fans (including myself) keen, still has to win over a whole new audience.
I’ll be digesting the other Super Saturday results in the coming days and writing more – my other main initial reation is that the Danish effort is decent. What are your thoughts on the newly chosen songs?