London Eurovision Party Review

Last night, the London Eurovision Party took place. Seven of the 2011 acts took to the stage to perform their songs, including returning winner Dana International.

One shouldn’t read too much into performances in cramped nightclubs that often have poor sound. In 2009 quite the gamble was generated on Ukraine’s Svetlana Loboda on the basis of these shows, only for her to miss out on the Top 10 come the big night.

Last night, my opinions didn’t really change much on the chances of any of the performers. Here’s what I think of each in turn.

We started with Poli Genova, who is singing ‘Na Inat’ for Bulgaria. Her vocals are excellent, and she’s a charismatic performer. I just wish she had a more interesting song to work with and it wasn’t in Bulgarian.

Still, competing in the second semi-final which is weaker based on strength in depth, Bulgaria can’t be discounted behind the more obvious qualifiers, especially if jurors reward her talents.

Anna Rossinelli, the representative for Switzerland was next. She was charming, elegant and vocally impressive on stage. After the first 1m20seconds of ‘In Love for a While’ you are completely won over. However, the song title seems apt as it loses all structure from that point onwards, going downhill until a weak ending.

Qualification will be tough for friendless Switzerland in that first semi full of big hitters. (I’m tempted to say they have a Swiss Alp to climb.) It depends on televoters and jurors making their minds up in that first part, and forgiving or ignoring the rest of the song. I won’t be betting on it at the moment.

Following this was Romania and the group Hotel FM. Another effortless vocal here, although their song, ‘Change’, didn’t really catch the audience’s imagination, for what is supposed to be a happy-clappy singalong number.

Nonetheless, the Romanian entry follows a Eurovision formula that I have found very profitable over the years: adequate song + decent singer + plenty of voting allies + weak semi = definite qualifier. I don’t see their 100% qualification record in any danger.

Dana International got a heroine’s return back in the country where she took the Eurovision crown for Israel in 1998. It was a shame, therefore, that she sung only a little bit over playback of her 2011 entry ‘Ding Dong’.

I’d previously slated this number as one of those ‘Songs You Would Only Hear Today In A Bad Provincial Gay Bar’, and nothing I saw or heard yesterday changes that opinion. Nonetheless, like Bulgaria, with so much dross in the second semi, she can’t be discounted from qualification.

Malta’s Glen Vella came next. He showed all the requisite enthusiasm to deliver a decent live performance of ‘One Life’. No doubt he will enjoy being on the Eurovision stage in the first semi-final, but it’s extremely difficult to envisage this cheesy number proceeding to the final.

San Marino and their representative Senit followed. She used playback for the main rendition of her entry, ‘Stand By’, but sang a piece of it acapella afterwards. This is one of those nice, inoffensive songs that often passes the audience by completely.

As with Switzerland, qualification will be extremely tough for San Marino from that first semi, and would require a very good set of jury points. It’s not totally beyond the realms of possibility, which the odds currently suggest, but I’m not counting on it happening either.

Finally we had Raphael Gualazzi performing his number, the not very Eurovision-y ‘Madness of Love’ for Italy. This jazzy piece will not be what the audience expects from the contest, but I always think that how good something is within its genre is more important than the genre itself, and there’s no doubting Gualazzi’s musicianship.

It’s speculation but I think juries are going to reward his obvious talents for a higher placing than many consider likely, even if a challenge to the main contenders seems less probable.

He may still have an impact near the top of the leaderboard, however. Being drawn in the final right after France’s popopera favourite ‘Sognu’ by Amaury Vassili remains an intriguing back-to-back combination. It’s even more speculative to suggest this may not be in France’s favour.

After all these performances, the crowd partied the night away, and I happily danced to other numbers I had previously slated as ‘Songs You Would Only Hear Today In A Bad Provincial Gay Bar’.

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12 comments to London Eurovision Party Review

  • Rob

    Thanks for the review of the London ESC Party, Daniel. Much appreciated. Some clips have appeared on YouTube. I did notice Dana Int’l sing some of her winning 1989 song live at the end and her vocal sounded more than adequate. Also, regarding Romania, I don’t think it qualifies in the ‘adequate song’ element of your formula. For me, it is actually more of a ‘Songs You Would Only Hear Today In A Bad Provincial Hotel Lobby/On A Terrible Supermarket Musak Compilation. I am not surprised by the luke warm reception among the London crowd. I would expect the same in Dusseldorf. Conversely, ‘Na Inat’ is far more crowd-pleasing imho and Poli is a great performer so I think Bulgaria has a terrific chance of qualification.

  • Rob

    *correction – Israel’s 1998 song

  • Daniel

    Hi Rob, I’m not a particular fan of Romania’s song, but it has lots of friends voting in this semi, and it’s not terrible enough for those friends to give up on it. Nor are juries giving it zero. Serbia last year also fell into this category, and sure enough it qualified easily with my money riding on it.

    Romania will come across adequately enough on screen given the telegenic and strong lead vocalist. My advice is to be careful not to fall into the trap of laying a song just because you don’t like it, given all these circumstances and the standard of the opposition.

    Much though Poli was a crowd pleaser, I fear that to most neutral people she will be singing a slightly random collection of notes in an unintelligible language. And Bulgaria has fewer friends (Cyrpus and FYROM mainly). I’m certainly not ruling out its qualification in this weak heat though.

    PS It turned out that Serbia 2010 was one of the dance highlights of the night yesterday, so my opinion of it went up enormously!

  • Justin

    Daniel, I am not sure that visions of you bopping around in the Shadow Lounge with your red bull and vodka in the early hours is what I need on a Monday lunchtime but great report anyway!
    I agree with you on Romania – its a perfectly agreeable middle of the road track which I thought had been rather underestimated in the betting markets considering its allies and ability to translate to a solid live performance (its not a difficult song to sing live). Back to a point I made on an earlier thread – how would you assess a value price for Romania qualifying. I see 1.25 is the current price on Romania qualifying. I have no idea if this is value or not. Any words of wisdom? I hope to be having a few bets in this market (though probably not on Romania at that price).

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, for the record, my preferred drink is a gin & tonic. You ask a very pertinent question about value regarding Romania qualifying from the semi. The majority but not all the bets matched on Betfair so far have me backing it, and I was delighted to get 1.6 to begin with. I’ve just backed it at 1.25 as well. The bias of friendly voting is more than a 1-4 certainty in Eurovision. However, it’s not a price that appeals to many, and there are some, like Rob, who see this as a great opportunity on the lay side. That means I will hold off for now because I think I will be offered more at that kind of price and above. So much on Betfair is about what you can get hold of: you take the value on a country until no one is offering any more, and then move on to another country. With 38 songs up for qualification, there’s always something out there, though I’m far more inclined to back rather than lay in these semi-finals full of awful songs.

  • Rob

    Hi Dan. Maybe I am under-estimating Romania’s voting muscle in this semi but it will definitely need to call upon its loyalist friends to get ‘Change’ through. Sure, you have to adjust your own musical barometer to the general ESC barometer but I’d be surprised if this turgid tune has a positive impact on the majority, though it would be preferable to be able to lay it at the high st price of 1-6. I think that 1.25 was mine and will probably end up helping to pay for some of your beers in Dusseldorf 🙂

  • James

    Thanks for the review Daniel. As for the Romania debate, Change is actually one of my favourite entries this year, so it’s not totally without support. For all the reasons Daniel listed, I think it’s an almost certain qualifier, plus I do think it has more mainstream appeal than people are giving it credit for.

  • David

    Daniel, I found your comment on France/Italy performing in sequence to be very interesting. Do you think you could elaborate – are you guessing Amaury Vassili might sound less competent due to the unconcious comparison to (the no doubt excellent) Raphael Gualazzi?

  • Daniel

    Hi David, I don’t particularly doubt Amaury’s live vocal abilities (although let’s wait until rehearsals and there is a question mark over his stage presence). What I meant is that he would benefit from being surrounded by something that is the opposite to what he provides – a female, poppy, uptempo number for example – of which there are plenty. This would emphasise his niche appeal.

    Instead, what we have is a classically-trained musician offering something that superficially has more depth than a traditional pop number – followed by, er, a classically-trained musician offering something that superficially has more depth than a traditional pop number.

    It is possible to speculate that some of those people thinking of France, “this is classier than the usual Eurovision tat”, will then watch Italy and think, “this is also classier than the usual Eurovision tat”, with the effect of denting the French vote.

    Of course, all sorts of this kind of speculation goes on, and it may not make a jot of difference. But ideally, if I were the head of the French delegation, I’d have preferred the likes of ‘Haba Haba’ or ‘Boom Boom’ after my song.

    • David

      I agree that it probably will harm both France’s and Italy’s televote result, being in sequence like this. However, I interpreted it like you considered this more of a drawback for France than for Italy – or was this a misunderstanding on my part?

  • Daniel

    Hi David, I think it’s not ideal for either entry – it’s just that expectations are that much greater for France as the pre-rehearsal favourite.

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