It’s turning out to be an open year, as evidenced by the volatility in the win market. Early favourites Germany and Norway have drifted significantly, to a point at which Greece briefly became the new favourite to win Eurovision 2011 even before its national final, which took place tonight.
Punters weren’t completely shooting in the dark as the songs competing to be the Greek entry had been released. However, backing a country into a single-figure price was still some risk to take when the result of the national final was by no means a foregone conclusion.
How should those who backed Greece down to favouritism now be feeling after the selection of Lukas Yiorkas ft Stereo Mike with ‘Watch My Dance’?
It’s a dark, powerful number that was ably performed if terribly staged in the national final. It is also very Greek, which helped it to win against a rather more Scandinavian-sounding main rival.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this. ’Watch My Dance’ will be popular among Greece’s friends and diaspora around Europe. It may also fare better with the juries than either of Greece’s last two efforts.
In 2010, Greece scored 152 points with the televote, and 110 with the jury for an eighth place finish. In 2009, Greece scored 151 points with the televote and 93 with the jury for an overall seventh place.
Both were upbeat songs with gimmicky presentations – not what the juries have tended to favour based on the evidence so far. ‘Watch My Dance’ is more reminiscent of Israel’s entry last year, by Harel Skaat – an equally serious and worthy effort, which juries viewed favourably.
The last two years fit into a broader trend of Greece’s finishing positions since its 2005 victory – 9th, 7th, 3rd, 7th, 8th. That third place came with Kalomira’s ethnopop tune ‘Secret Combination’, which, though light on substance, was catchy and sexily performed. Its girly, frothy nature had pan-European appeal.
‘Watch My Dance’ is its polar opposite: masculine and brooding. I can’t see it having the same kind of broad appeal to the casual, neutral viewer.
There’s another concern. I mentioned in my article analysing Estonia’s 2011 entry that changing tempo too many times was potentially problematic for televoters. ‘Watch My Dance’ compounds this issue by shifting between genres.
What is more, one of those genres is arguably the least successful in Eurovision history: rap.
The first notable attempt of rap on the Eurovision stage was Love City Groove, which failed miserably for the UK in 1995. Every time since, and admittedly it’s not a list with many good examples of the genre, rap has been a failure, last place for Finland in the 2009 final being a recent reminder.
Which leaves us with Loukas himself singing the refrain again, and again. Stirring ethno-emoting it may be to those with links to the area, to other televoters it’s going to come across as joyless and repetitive.
So I think it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. Compared to the last two Greek efforts, it may gain with the juries if the Harel Skaat comparison can be trusted, but struggle with the floating televoters.
Skaat was third favourite going into last year’s rehearsals, which seemed optimistic to me at the time and so it proved to be. The same sinking feeling may soon start to dawn on those who were backing Greece at around 7-1 on Betfair before ‘Watch My Dance’ was selected tonight. What do you think?