Eurovision 2012: Can Zeljko Joksimovic go one better for Serbia?

Last night we were presented with this year’s songs from Bosnia and Montenegro. This completed the set of entries from the Balkans. There are a few reasonably big names in regional circles but none as big as Serbia’s Zeljko Joksimovic, which is reflected in his position in bookmakers’ lists.

His entry, ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’, was broadcast for the first time on Saturday in both English and Serbian. It was confirmed a few days later that the Serbian language version would be the one we will see in Baku. I think this is a wise move – to my ears, the English version is a lot less powerful.

Joksimovic can currently be backed at 18 in the Betfair win market. He has form in the contest, penning and performing the close second in the 2004 contest, whilst he also wrote Bosnia’s third place effort in 2006 and Serbia’s sixth-placed number in 2008. How do the chances of ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ compare?

There are plenty of good reasons to think that Joksimovic will find himself in the top echelons again. One main difference between those years and now is the reintroduction of the juries, and ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ comes across as very jury-friendly. It is a powerful ballad containing some excellent instrumentation, and Joksimovic is an extremely strong and charismatic vocalist.

Serbia’s placings have dropped under the jury system, which some have used as evidence for the wider theory that juries are, consciously or not, punishing countries that have plenty of televoting allies. I don’t think this is true in Serbia’s case, at least, as their 2009 and 2010 entries were not jury-friendly in the slightest. In 2011, however, Serbia made the final only thanks to the juries (102 jury points in the semi compared to 42 points in the televote). ‘Caroban’ also did better with juries in the final, despite Nina not being at her best during the jury rehearsal, and a plum draw for televoters. So the juries treated Serbia without prejudice in 2011.

Turning to the other 50%, this is the most televote-friendly set of contestants for Serbia since they won the contest in 2007. Last year’s return of Austria and this year’s return of Montenegro are two televote 12s that Marija Serifovic secured with ‘Molitva’. I reckon that Italy’s handful of points for both Bosnia and Serbia last year also came as a result of a diaspora televote, though one cannot know for sure.

It also helps that Serbia should be, in my view, easily the biggest points scorer from the region. Last year’s unprecedented lack of any 12s from its neighbours – as the fame of Bosnian act Dino Merlin and the jury popularity of Slovenia’s Maja Keuc meant that regional 12s which Serbia often gets, as the biggest hitter in the Balkans, became 10s or even 8s – is unlikely to be repeated. Joksimovic is the big name from the area this time around.

Admittedly, this year’s Slovenian entry, ‘Verjamem’ also has some fans, including Sofabet commenter Gert. But in televote terms, Slovenia is the Balkan minnow. Personally, I think their song is a pale imitation of Serbia’s 2007 winner ‘Molitva’, right down to the staging – and Eva Boto, whilst a talented young vocalist, is just a little shouty on the big notes when she needs to nail it (which is not a problem for Joksimovic). The backing singers are a distraction too. As a result, I don’t see ‘Verjamem’ grabbing any regional or diaspora 12s over ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’.

Bosnia is the second biggest hitter in the region, but looks unlikely to threaten for top scores this year with their rather dull entry.

If you think I’m building quite a compelling case here that Serbia has plenty going for it in 2012, you would not be wrong. So it would be prudent to consider the case against: What may prevent Joksimovic going one better eight years after coming so close? I can see a couple of causes for concern.

I think the greatest fear is the possibility that this kind of Balkan ballad might simply have had its day in the contest. Perhaps people have become bored by the string interlude, a pipe or two, a lot of emoting. Is the gradual decline of Joksimovic’s previous songs in the pecking order indicative of this?

To be fair, his third and most recent effort, ‘Oro’ sung by Jelena Tomasevic, was the dullest package that he had offered. ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’, with Joksimovic himself back at the helm, packs much more of a punch. In fact, Joksimovic gets more animated here than he did for 2004 runner-up ‘Lane Moje’.

Still, we already have Sofabet commenter Boki noting that it’s ‘more or less his usual stuff’. I don’t think that’s going to bother his many supporters at all, which in itself ought to be enough for at least a top 10 finish. But to climb as high as possible on the scoreboard, Joksimovic will need to find a way to appear more fresh and modern.

One way of doing so would be to keep the outfit he wore at the song presentation rather than go ethnic as he did in 2004. There was something else he needs to change from 2004 as far as fashion goes. He was all in white back then, a look that has been done to death at Eurovision – especially with this kind of number (see also the members of Hari Mata Hari performing Joksimovic’s song for Bosnia in 2006). If Zeljko comes out for the first dress rehearsal in Baku in a white T-shirt and trousers to match the white jacket, I’ll be disappointed – it’s cheesy and dated, which is the last thing the song needs.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in Zeljko’s way, however, is the likelihood that ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ will not be a big hit with western televoters. Apart from the language issue, the structure is not what these voters expect and most respond to. It takes Joksimovic 40 seconds to start singing. Soon after we get another instrumental segment. What he sings following this is not a repeat of what he sang before it. Indeed, ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ doesn’t really have a chorus as such.

‘Lane Moje’ in 2004 and ‘Lejla’ in 2006 also had long instrumental openings, but at least both had a hook based around their titles. Interestingly, Serbia’s 2007 winner ‘Molitva’ was structured more traditionally by Eurovision standards, apart from an instrumental first part to the second verse.

I always feel that while it’s hard enough for a standard pop song to fit the three-minute Eurovision rule, it’s even harder for these slow-burning Balkan ballads, which really sound like they need five minutes to do themselves justice.

Having said all that, the overall effect here is pretty powerful. I think ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ has an excellent build, which is what you need if you’re not going down the traditional verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus route. Joksimovic becomes far more animated with his second burst of singing but somehow the instrumental has prepared you for it. And it’s possible that the Celtic tinge of the instrumentation may help sway some televoters in the west.

It should also be pointed out that a lack of great enthusiasm from the Western televoter didn’t stop Joksimovic’s previous entries all managing a top six finish.

So, with a strong showing from regional juries and regional and diaspora televoters appearing highly likely, but the song unlikely to get a huge amount of love from western televoters, I think the biggest imponderable we’re left with is the western juries.  If they show it respect, I think ‘Nije Ljubav Stvar’ would look set for somewhere in the top 5, and then it would depend on how the other contenders pan out for its position within that bracket.

Panos, a long-standing Eurovision commenter here on Sofabet, makes a compelling case that a top four placing is highly likely this time around (and incidentally, top 4, top 5 and top 10 markets are all now open on Betfair, though currently still highly illiquid). Do you agree? Do let us know in the comments box below.

60 comments to Eurovision 2012: Can Zeljko Joksimovic go one better for Serbia?

  • Panos

    Also, Zeljiko is v popular in greece & (more or less) in cyprus, where we really go for that sound.

  • Michal

    ..but he is not as popular as this singer called P.Zanettos. Wish he was going to Eurovision this year!

  • Tim B

    Azerbaijan’s song is here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBKsAQYo7V0

    It’s a very strong, modern ballad that will appeal to both juries and televoters. But for a host country to be a contender the song has to be spectacular, which I’m not sure this is. Still, I can only see this in the top 10. With a great draw it will do very well. As usual with Azerbaijan, I’m expecting some impressive and standout choreography.

    • David

      Why does the song have to be stronger for the host country? Is there really stats backing up a tendency of them faring poorer?

      • Tim B

        Sorry, I wasn’t quite clear my comment. I meant for a host country to win 2 years running. It hasn’t happened since the 90s I don’t think?

    • Tim B

      I just backed Azerbaijan E/W at 50/1 with Ladbrokes. They have exceptional form at Eurovision, so I figured 50/1 represents tremendous value. It doesn’t have the hurdle of a semi final to get through. Also, with Armenia’s withdrawal does this mean Azerbaijan is likely to scoop up more Eastern neighbour/regional points? Turkey is probably not a contender and Russia is a shambles.

      • Tim B

        I forgot to mention Georgia which is also horrendous.

      • Boki

        I find it very strange such high odds still available, also no serious reaction on oddschecker… I backed Azer last couple of days @average 57 but 51 is still amazing as we heard the song – just maxed on Betfred…

      • Johnny Roastbeef

        50/1 e/w at Lads is sweet, especially the Top 4 part of the bet!! We’ll never come close to that on the Betfair Top 4 market. But with bookies come the problems with low limits :(. I was only allowed to bet £20 e/w. I have a question to you Brits, how is it in Ladbrokes and William Hill shops, do they offer the Outright ESC market there too? And do you have your personal online limit in the shops or is it a general “shop limit” for everyone? And if so, can you go around to several shops and bet more? Cheers.

        • Steve

          Ive just checked on an unrestricted Ladbrokes account and it would allow me £200 each way on Azerbaijan at 33/1, so it looks as if you have a restricted account. You can place bets in shop with Hills Ladbrokes where they will accept bets up to the online maximum in this case £200 so in order to protect accounts most of us in the U.K. go in shop whenever possible.

          • Johnny Roastbeef

            Thanks so much Steve, I have always wondered! You guys are lucky, hey it even sounds like it would be worth for me to take a Ryan Air flight for £10 from Stockholm to London over the day to go place the bet in a shop if everybody can bet without restrictions in there. If you could clarify just a few more things: Do shops offer the same array of bets as the online site? And what if you would like to place £400 on this particular bet, could I just take a walk to another of their shops and place a new £200 bet? Do they check ID and thus making the shop betting tickets personal? Cheers mate!

          • Daniel

            Hi Johnny, to answer some of your questions the best I can:
            1. Shops do offer the same range of bets as the website.
            2. I personally would keep the amounts I bet on at each shop quite small if adopting such a strategy. If it’s a three-figure bet at that kind of price, the manager will most likely call head office for approval, which could alert them to what you are doing. It may even be refused. There are lots of betting shops all over every UK high street. Nothing to stop you going into as many shops as you want.
            3. They don’t check ID. Having the betting ticket is the only proof of making the bet.

            I have to admit to have rather given up with High Street bookmakers, at least online, so some of our other readers may be able to tell you more or differently,

        • Tim B

          Personally I wouldn’t be seen dead in a betting shop. The last time was the morning of Eurovision last year where I witnessed a fight between two trampish guys with cans of lager in their hands. They also got the impression they thought I was weird for betting (and winning) on the Eurovision semis.

          • Johnny Roastbeef

            Thanks for your input Dan! Aha so they don’t automatically accept the online maximum in shops? So it’s all about going under the radar then since you bet anonymously without showing ID. Go to 10 different shops and bet £20 at 50/1 would probably pass without a call to headquarters then when £200 at 50 most likely would get refused even though it is the online mamixum on fresh accounts?

            I have also almost given up betting on Specials online Dan, I’m starting to run out of friends and family with fresh accounts! 😀 😉 But a Ryan Air day trip to London with many small bets spread out in many Willhill and Ladbrokes shops if you find a monster value could be an option then…

            By the way, how come there is no reply button under your latest message, I had to reply to Tim B’s message under yours instead. Is it a bug or something I have misunderstood? Cheers.

          • Daniel

            You’ve got the idea, Johnny. I can’t really get anything on online and just rely on Betfair. Looks like there’s a bug in our comments section today, by the way.

        • Steve

          each bookmaker has different liability limits Hills will take a bet up to a stake of £50 on any specials bet, they have to ring for permission to lay anything above that. Ladbrokes go via their in shop system which is the same as an unrestricted online account so in theory I could have gone into Ladbrokes and placed £200 ew Azer @ 33/1. Ladbrokes suspend selections when their liability hits £10k I think the traders then make a decision to reinstate or shorten. Betfred/Totesport dont have the same range in shop as they do online Corals tend not to do all the specials in shop though I dont know them as well.

          • Johnny Roastbeef

            Top info, appreciate it mate! Having shops to bet in seem like paradise to me. I even tried to call Ladbrokes and the girl at the phone took my bet request to a trader but after 10 min on hold all I got was a “Sorry, you’ll have to settle with your personal online limit.” They didn’t even adjust the odds, that’s so frustrating, that they let other’s bet at that price but won’t take MY action! So to be able to go into a Ladbrokes shop and anonymously abuse them would be sweet! Next time they come out with some extraordinary value I’ll take the next cheap ass flight over!

      • David

        Azerbaijan also benefits from the Armenian withdrawal because of the fact that they never give any points to each other.

      • Quick question: Dan, when you say you “can’t really get anything on online [and] rely on Betfair”, do you mean you avoid traditional online bookmakers near-entirely because of the limits?

        • Daniel

          Yes. Most of my limits seem to have been cut down to ridiculous figures like one pound, so it’s become a no-go area for me. Of course I could always use friends’ accounts and have done, but even normal limits are far less than what I want to get on.

          • Johnny Roastbeef

            Btw guys, Re. Ladbrokes. When placing an Outright e/w selection on the betting slip, before confirming, under info, it says Max £20. Is that £20 TOTAL? Meaning I can only put £10 e/w (10 to win and 10 to place) or do they mean £20 e/w (20 to win and 20 to place) for a total of £40? Haven’t used my awfully restricted account at Lads in years so have forgotten how to interpret that info on the slip. I ask because I would like to avoid depositing more than they will let me wager. So if anyone knows… Cheers!

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Don’t host countries tend to place quite high? In a “thanks for organising such a great show” kind of way? ;P

    • Tim B

      @Johnny Roastbeef: You don’t have shops to bet in?! Where are you from?

      • Johnny Roastbeef

        Stockholm, Sweden mate! You? State owned betting company Svenska Spel has monopoly on shops over here and they do not offer ESC-odds until the week of rehearsals in May. So I’m stuck to online bookies with lousy limits and Betfair, and from today, thanks to Dan’s and Steve’s good info, I’ll also consider the option of hopping on a Ryanair flight to London and visit the shops now that I know how they operate!

  • Tim B

    I don’t think the audience likes to see the same country winning 2 years in a row, hence why it rarely happens.

    • David

      Well… I’d say the reason it rarely happens is that there are around 45 countries participating, rendering around a 1 in 45 chance of a repeat victory (given a complete absence of bias or other influences).

      I honestly don’t think there’s a big advantage either, even if one could make the argument that the audience has the country’s name more “in mind” when they’re arranging. Would be nice with some stats, but it’s going to be very hard to compensate for song quality.

  • Boki

    I also had an impression that the host usually gets a little more than deserved but also the new song tends to be always less good than the previous year.

    I like Azeri song very much after a 1st listen so it’s usually the sign it’s not a winner (in this case due to somewhat depressive title/mood). Still it’s a great tune from last year’s composers and it will eat Spain for breakfast imho (not only because she’s more ****able fiveleaves 🙂 ).

    • fiveleaves

      It’s not a patch on Spain, that is still a class apart for me, but I do like it and can’t see Azer losing their record of never being out of the top 10 and looks a decent ew bet @ 50’s

      • Tim B

        I agree Spain is better. It really is the stand out song for me but I fear it needs a good draw to do well. For this reason I haven’t backed it yet. Azerbaijan on other hand I think will be comfortably top 10 regardless of its draw.

  • lying eyes

    I gonna be the first to say it….Happy st.Patricks day from ireland!

  • Nije ljubav Stvar is by no means bad – it’s successful on its own terms – but it’s no Lane Moje, Lejla, Molitva or Oro, all of which were superb. It’s a lesser creature. Maybe I’m culturally biased because I listen to a lot of yugomusic and have some understanding of the language, but Ovo was stellar in 2008 and it only came 6th despite the 12s, 10s and 8s it received. If the jury had been around in 2008 it would have undoubtedly been top 5, but I feel Zeljko’s song doesn’t have as much emotional depth than any of the above both in terms of the melody, and importantly given who’ll be voting for it, the lyrics. It doesn’t have the poetic lyrics or cultural motifs of the above songs and is a pretty standard, almost flatly-written relationship breakup song which isn’t in flowery language and despite its subject matter, doesn’t have any themes of sorrow or anguish – unlike the songs I listed above. It lacks any darkness or real sense of pain and I think that’s an important factor. It’s more in Irish/Croatian ballad territory. Admittedly Lane Moje wasn’t that deep either but it was very strong musically. I think it’ll more than likely go top 10, but I’m reluctant to back it to go top 4. Zeljko has some level of star power which counts for something but at the same time, he’s been around for a while and is not new, and neither is this type of song, which feels more like a step back than a step forward.

    While Croatia’s song may not necessarily be a top 10 candidate, it will be well-received by yugovoters as arguably the best yugoballad of the bunch (Slovenia’s is too Mo-lite-va and the country is too peripheral). Nebo does have the poetic lyrics and cultural themes that speak to yugo voters, and Nina is a known, respected and popular name. The melody and chorus are strong too.

  • Regarding Azerbaijan, while 50/1 is great odds and doesn’t reflect the high standard and good chances of the song now that it’s been revealed, it’s also highly unlikely to win. It’s easy to think “oh, I’ll put £500 on it because I could win £25,000!”, but it’s highly unlikely to win (although a cert for the top ten) so in all likelihood your money will be lost. There’s something to be said for each-waying it at those odds (as it has the potential to go top 4, depending on the running order in the final), just not to a huge amount.

  • David

    Daniel,

    What mail address do you use when contacting EBU with questions (if it’s public, that it)? I’ve been searching eurovision.tv for contact details, but to no avail.

    Cheers,
    David

    • Daniel

      Hi David, I use press@eurovision.tv

      They are usually very prompt in replying.

      • David

        As are you, Daniel 🙂 thanks a lot!

        • What are you planning to ask Squall? And Daniel, do they charge you for the press pass to Eurovision? If Sweden win, Escbet might have to send a representative… we may have to cut some of the language though.

          • David

            I’m trying to get info on the jury composition… don’t know how much is official, though!

          • David, the juries are normally made up of figures from each country’s domestic music industry (a pretty random, motley crew of artists, producers, writers, music and/or pop culture journalists etc…)

          • Nick D

            Gavster – no charge for press passes to Eurovision, but demand usually massively exceeds supply unless the contest’s in a real hellhole, and obviously no expenses are paid.

            David – I think the jury composition is being tightened this year, restricted to writers/composers/artists/DJs, none of whom can be employees of the broadcaster nor connected to any competing song. I can see some countries having to fudge a bit to get 5 people together who fit the bill…

          • David

            Nick D & eurovicious, thanks to you both for the info!

    • Tim B

      Oh my gosh, it’s brilliant! Immediate, classy and contemporary. It brings a huge smile to my face. If this doesn’t top the jury vote it will come close. To quote from one of your top tips they seem to reward ‘big stars in the music industry. I think this song has huge potential and I just backed it E/W at 16/1. Anyone else heard it yet?

    • Boki

      Another one to steal the jury votes from Loreen and such…

  • simon "le chat"

    The UK song will do very well.
    “Hump” is an international star and his voice is well known already to the world through “Please release me” and “The last waltz”. He is a great singer and I can imagine his voice and the beautiful structure and lyrics of this song bringing the house down. I havent heard any of the others yet apart from “Euphoria” which is techno techno crap and not gonig to win. The voting panels are not 15 years old and anyone over 30 will prefer the Hump.

    Hump down in the betting to 10/1 with Ladbrokes.

  • Boki

    I can’t wait for the draw tomorrow knowing that big5+1 will get their final spots…

  • Hmmm, we disagree slichtly Daniel ;-). Again, results from the past are by no means handing over certain guarantees for future results.

    Moreover, after listening the entries from The United Kingdom, Belgium and Azerbaijan, I think Serbia’s job to enter the TOP 10 in the final could be a lot more competitive than in past years.

    I rate the UK a possible contender for the victory together with Sweden. The song is great, suits Humperdinck’s crooner-voice perfectly and will certainly receive a lot of (Olsen Brothers-like) sympathy votes. Watch this guy!

    Then Azerbaijan. I think that country completely found its mojo and knows what to send to Eurovision in order to do well. They opt for the same composers as in 2010 and 2011. And this time it’s a big ballad.

    Finally I think Belgium is again strong with a very well performed Avril LaVigne-like popballad. Very sweet on stage and will certainly qualify based on jury votes AND on the rather weak competitors in that semi.

    Concerning Serbia: You are perhaps right, but the song doesn’t bring you easily in a mood that wants you to vote for it. It lacks the atmosphere of Serbia (& Montenegro’s)’s entry of 2004 and it takes too long to ‘get into the song’. I think Slovenia is slightly better, because it creates an atmosphere that makes you want to vote for it. The backing vocals? They are ‘flirting around’ similarly like in 2007 with ‘Molitva’. The song builds up better to a ‘recognizable climax’ if you want to have my honest opinion ;-).

  • Lee

    Good to be back reading the articles (after all the great X Factor stuff)

    Bit off subject but what about these grannies from Russia?

    Was wondering what history tells us about YouTube and how views correlate to votes on the night?

    Buranovskiye Babushki – Party For Everybody has half a million more views than the next closest on the official Eurovision channel.

    It’s obviously pap, but the casual Eurovision viewer and twitter generation will lap it up.

    • Daniel

      Hi Lee and welcome back. There will be an article assessing the chances of the Russian grannies in due course. For now, however, there is a precedent of a ‘novelty’ entry being a massive YouTube sensation but flopping on the big night. That is Spain’s entry in 2008 by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre.

      It has to be said that this was a local joke that didn’t really travel – the entrant was a Spanish TV show presenter and comedian who was satirising the contest. The grannies have much more charm. But the example does show that you can’t take YouTube hits too literally every time.

      • Completely agree on that one. Moreover, novelty entries don’t travel well within jury’s either. Look to Portugal last year. Very novel to put the political situation of Portugal in a song, but European jury’s did not get it.

        I am actually curious which of the following novelty entries from semi final 1 gets eliminated: Austria, Russia or Montenegro. I wouldn’t be surprised that 2 of those can go home on Wednesday May 23rd.

        • Montenegro will almost certainly not get through and Austria is unlikely to, but Russia definitely will.

          • Emma

            Agree–at this point, I feel like Montenegro and Austria will battle it out for last. The juries will hate them and and they have each other, MAYBE Switz to rely on for friendly votes. And actually, I’m wondering if Russia will pull a Turkey or Armenia. Last year they got ninth in their semi and that was with an extremely televoter friendly song. Da, Alexej blew it with the jury but this is Russia, who flirts with the top 10 in the final even with the most rubbish song and that semi was extremely kind to male vocalists (only the poorly drawn and executed Turkey was left out).

            Looking at the scorecard, Alexej got the expected douze from Armenia, but no higher than 6 from anyone else (and that was Serbia, whom I think we can consider a friend given the countries’ history!), some fives from ex-Yugoslav and Soviets and a bunch of threes and ones from a variety of countries. This shows that Russia is extremely reliant on friends, even with a catchy modern song, a decent draw in a semi filled with contrasting entries (no Saade, no Blue, no Jedward), and a hearthrob performer. Last year, similar deal. Fourth with the televoters, near the bottom with the juries. Peter got 3 12 pts, all from ex-Soviets, 10 from another ex-Soviet, and 8 from their Slavic friends to the west, Poland.

            This year, those charming, if less telegenic than Alexej, grannies will no doubt be crucified, to use Daniel’s term, by the juries, like Portugal was last year. And Russia can overcome that, since they’ve always qualified for the final. Being Russia they have some friends: Latvia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, maybe the expats in Israel. But with no Armenia at all, no Est/Lit/Bela/Uk/Geor/Serb in that semi, their situation isn’t looking quite as good. The grannies will really have to win people’s hearts if they want to overcome the inevitable crippling treatment from the juries. They are in the 2nd half of the first semi so the chances of a good draw are high, but that might not be enough. Europe could be charmed or they could wonder why these grandmothers are chanting about parties in indistinguishable languages. I love a language switch as much as everyone, but as Daniel said in re Kati Wolf, you half to be able to TElL when the language is switching.

            Of course, they could easily qualify; I wouldn’t against them. The semi feels weak to me. No doubt Greece, Denmark, Romania, and Ireland are through, maybe Iceland and Israel and Belgium. Meh, I don’t know, too many songs have been released lately and I might have missed some. So the grannies could easily sneak in–but only if they get extreme love from the viewers.

    • Boki

      The question is if we should consider not only official channels but add up different counts of the same clip. Grannies most viewed clip is above 4 million which is huge and if we add up others we come roughly to almost 8 million views. Second is Can Bonomo with 3.2 mil most / almost 6 mil in total. This is way much more than 3rd Loreen.

      Having said that, Russia and Turkey are big countries with lot of people so obviously more chance to get viewed (which is clear from the video statistics of the 4 mil babushki clip).

  • tpfkar

    I did best last year laying France for the win (and worst trying to find a way out when I panicked as the odds tumbled) and feel the same on both the bookies favourites. I finally heard Euphoria yesterday and underwhelmed doesn’t begin to describe it – I just don’t get it. Bad 90s dance music & forgettable. The Russian grannies not much better. My instinct is that both could miss the top 5. Spain is desperately disappointing as well; the final minute is great but I’d almost fallen asleep by then.

    For what it’s worth, tpfkar’s watchlist as things stand:

    1) Turkey: best all round package I’ve heard
    2) Norway: class act and instant.
    3) Slovenia: possibly the best last year, possibly the best this year.
    4) Switzerland: Don’t know why but I just can’t get it out of my head.
    5) Latvia. Unlike last year my personal favourite is rated by no one at all, this may save me money.
    6) Greece: slickest bit of Europop in the contest. And talk about a sympathy vote.
    7) Serbia: See article.
    8) Ukraine: if you want an out and out dance song, this beats Euphoria hands down.
    9) Belarus: reminds me of Denmark last year.
    10) Azerbaijan: see above

  • For this moment I’d say the following qualifiers for Semi Final 2 in alfabetical order:

    – Albania
    – Belgium (very likely)
    – Cyprus
    – Denmark (very likely)
    – Iceland
    – Ireland (very likely)
    – Israël (very likely)
    – Romania (very likely)
    – Russia
    – Switzerland

  • Panos

    Serbia to beat russia @1.5 (profit odds) w stanjames.

  • Tim B

    Sorry, I just realised my comment about Azerbaijan (and subsequent comments) distracted from the original topic of the Serbian entry this year. For me, this is much stronger than his 2004 effort, but I’m not sure if Western televoters will take to it at all. If this draws anywhere between 21-26 in the final I think it will be highly dangerous and a strong contender for the win. No chance of failing to qualify, either. Does anyone else have any thoughts?

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