London Eurovision Party 2012 review

The London Eurovision Party returned to the bunker of the Shadow Lounge last night. Seven of this year’s acts performed live. As with the Amsterdam event, all of them showed an ability to sing and work the stage decently enough, though some shone more than others.

A look back at last year’s article is a reminder that one shouldn’t get too carried away on the basis of a couple of hundred fans getting over-excited at these events. For example, Poli Genova put up a barnstorming performance last year, but this didn’t change the difficulty in qualifying with a rock song in Bulgarian. Meanwhile the Romanian entry that received a muted response sailed through its semi in the very different context of the Eurovision stage.

Bearing that in mind, here’s how last night’s acts shaped up.

We started with Slovenia’s Eva Boto. Vocally she was better than I had expected, after some mixed reports from Amsterdam and my own minor doubts based on her national final performance, which I expressed in my article on the Serbian entry. ‘Verjamem’ felt like it took a long time to get going, however, although I have to admit it’s not my cup of tea anyway.

It was also a hindrance having this placed next to the following act, Portugal’s Filipa Sousa with the rather similar ‘Vida Minha’. Filipa did a great job of selling this number, and is an excellent vocalist. There’s no getting away from her rather dated, insipid song, however, which is a cod-Balkan ballad (written by Croatian Andrej Babic) in a semi-final stuffed with Balkan ballads already.

Neither Portugal nor Slovenia have great draws in the second heat, and whilst both have some televoting allies to rely on, these points will not be nearly enough in themselves. Therefore, both require neutral televoters and juries to show some interest, which will be difficult when both songs fail to stand out from the crowd. Slovenia has more of a chance of doing so, but it won’t be easy.

This was our first chance to catch Valentina Monetta sing ‘The Social Network Song’ without miming. Actually, she’s a very assured vocalist, and I’d love to say that her live interpretation lifted the song from laughable nursery rhyme to a higher plane, but like I say, she’s an assured vocalist, not a miracle worker.

The UK crowd loved it anyway, lapping up its repeat performance with many admitting it was their guilty pleasure. There’s no saving the Brits when it comes to Eurovision cheese. Were it in the final, I’m convinced that the UK would give it some televote points; alas, it won’t be there.

Hungary’s Compact Disco present quite a quandary for punters. ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ is a strong song in its studio incarnation, and the kind of thing that juries could latch on to. Everything about its presentation in the national final was flat, however, hence its outsider status.

Yet the lead singer’s vocals are better than he showed back then, though they take a verse or so to warm up. I didn’t have too many problems with his supposed lack of charisma either, although the problem for any band on the Eurovision stage is always going to be a tendency to look rather static – I can’t see Mr Compact Disco combining his song with the 100m dash like his Danish counterpart last year. He doesn’t look as athletic, though it might literally allow us to hear the sound of his heart.

So here we have a strong song that on this evidence is not sung badly and offers the only straight-down-the-line entry among the final five drawn in the first semi – it’s surrounded by the Russian grannies, the Austrian Trackshittaz, the Moldovan trumpet boy and Jedward. Its qualification chances cannot be discounted, even though many have previously written Compact Disco off on the basis of their national final performance.

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy laying France’s Anggun in the top 10 market. Cute and lovely though she seemed, there was nothing I saw in her performance of ‘Echo (You and I)’ to worry me that my money is at risk.

It’s not an easy song to get right live with plenty of notes requiring modulation. She was adequate at best but has problems sustaining notes and modulating, which is not going to lift this song anywhere near the top half of the scoreboard from a poor draw of nine in the final.

Next came Sabina Babayeva for hosts Azerbaijan. There has been some disagreement about her vocal acrobatics in our comments section. I can tell you that she was very strong here, and made me think I had been a little too pessimistic in my recent analysis of her chances. Her rendition of ‘When The Music Dies’ was easily the best package of the evening so far – by a country mile.

Until Macedonia’s Kaliopi came on stage. I was rather blown away by her actually, and I wasn’t the only one. If there’s any justice, ‘Crno i Belo’ will qualify though Eurovision has nothing to do with justice, it’s all about cold, hard points. Kaliopi has to do it from the nightmare draw of two in the second semi, from where it will struggle to win over neutral televoters. Macedonia does have six allies to rely on, however: Turkey and Bulgaria as well as the four other former Yugoslav republics. That’s not a bad televote start, and I’m imagining some jury love for her too.

Macedonia hasn’t qualified since the two-semi system was introduced in 2008, though it’s worth remembering that tenth-place results in the 2008 and 2009 semis would have been enough to get through under this year’s system. At the time, a rule was in place that allowed the televote top nine in followed by the best jury scorer among the rest. It would be nice to see that story flipped on its head, with the juries helping Kaliopi to squeeze into the final, and I think that’s a possibility.

She was a fitting final act before the DJ got the fanboys on the small, crowded dancefloor – the other compact disco of the night. Agree or disagree with anything in this article? Do let us know in the comments section below.

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12 comments to London Eurovision Party 2012 review

  • Justin

    Dan, I have to say I was – to varying degrees – impressed with all the acts last night.

    You are quite right – Eva Boto is very charming but the song takes an age to get going and the audience were getting impatient by the time action started. Shame but its only boderline qualifier for me.

    Anngun was the surprise of the night – she went down really well. She looked and sounded amazing. But the positive reaction was more I suspect to do with a party crowd enjoying one of the few upbeat numbers of the evening.

    Sabina Babeyeva was rock solid – although all my friends said that it was a rip off of ‘Stop’ (by Sam Brown – I think). She does have an annoying habit of adding additional words here and there – and there was a little bit of vocal acrobatics here too if I remember correctly. She really needs to cut this out on the big night.

    I still don’t have the confidence to back Hungary to qualify. Its a fantastic song with a great draw in its semi. But these guys are desperately lacking in charisma and even if the vocal has improved since the national final it was still the weakest of the night.

    Kaliopi was wonderful even if she left the crowd a little puzzled with her comment about being her being gay. She gave the impression as having been there and done it, very professionally, many times before. I dont like the change in tempo/style from ballad to rock in the song for Eurovision purposes – though it went down well last night.

    Did look for a bearded chap with glasses as was going to buy you a drink from my winnings from last year – but didn’t see you!

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, am very sorry we didn’t get to meet. I can usually be found on the dancefloor at these occasions! Agree with the gist of what you say here.

      I’m not getting stuck into Macedonia or Hungary in any way at the moment regarding qualification. These borderline cases are so dependent on the whims of the juries these days, and second-guessing them is not the easiest of pastimes.

      It was no surprise that the fanboys loved Anggun, she’s cute-as-a-button, and was keen to show off her lovely outfit. No wonder the crowd lapped her up. Vocally she has her moments, but when she wasn’t getting the audience to sing parts, she has a tendency to pull out of longer notes or at least not finish them strongly.

  • Tim B

    Hi Daniel, it was great to finally meet you last night after reading your posts for so long! It was a fun evening. I enjoyed most of the performances – Sabina especially I thought hit it out of the park vocally.

    Hungary I thought were a little flat. I wasn’t impressed with his vocals and he is certainly lacking in charisma. “Having said that” I think their prospects for qualifying are promising. As I said to you last night, I believe the song is middle of the road enough to attract sufficient jury and televote support to sneak through.

    Anngun was very sweet and went down well, but her vocals did nothing for me. It is just not a very good song. Definitely see it as being a strong contender for last in the final.

    Kaliopi was brilliant and very charming. I’m a fan of the song (especially the rockier part) so would like to see her get through – but she is in the stronger of the two semis and her draw is terrible, so I’m just not sure.

    Nothing I saw last night really changed my opinion of anything. Did you notice the crowd went mad for Cyprus when that was played? Hardly surprising, but I think a lot of fans will be shocked if and when it doesn’t qualify. I’m very much looking forward to rehearsals now – not long to go at all.

  • Henry VIII

    Do you ever get caught out laying top 10 Daniel? For example what if Anggun was just saving her voice?

    It seems safer knowing which countries will very likely be top 10 and backing them, because it’s less likely that one of them will drop out of the top 10 than it is for the unpredictable juries to propel a competently performed underdog into the top 10?

    I ask from a position of relative inexperience, and I guess ultimately it’s all down to what the odds are.

    • Daniel

      Good question Henry, and whilst I have made a good overall profit each year on the Top 10 market, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been losing trades. The one that stands out from last year was Russia, a big hitter that managed to drop out of the Top 10, so both dangers you mention are capable of happening.

      I have to say about France that, like Hungary last year (though at a far less generous price), I don’t think it will have much going for it in the final. A poor draw, few friends, a song that isn’t jury-friendly, a performer that isn’t likely to overcome these obstacles. Of course, there’s always the chance that the staging could be inspired, but that’s a risk you take with any lay bet at this stage.

    • Boki

      Things can go wrong in both cases Henry, last year I got burned by Russia & UK due to the bad jury performance on the night. So you never know, for each propelled underdog someone else has to dropout. There is one thing not mentioned though: if you lay someone you target 16 positions out of 26 which has better chance than backing 10/26.

  • Henry VIII

    Btw on the youtube there was someone who looks like you standing right in front of Anggun. Best seat in the house if it was you 🙂

  • Mrs Shrewd

    I know it’s slightly off-topic, but can Daniel or anyone else here tell me when the advert breaks will appear in the semis and final?

    Thanks

    Mrs S

    • Nick D

      I’m not sure where the breaks will go in the semi (very variable, tends to be one after about song 7 and one after about song 14), but the final will almost certainly have a single break at the mid-point. This year that would be after song 13, Azerbaijan.

  • Substanshell

    T think, in the semis it will be like last year, after 5th and 14th

  • eurovicious

    Regarding Compact Disco, I agree, a lot of people are commenting on the lead singer supposedly being uncharismatic but that’s something that’s never struck me. It’s a Depeche Mode-type song so demands serious and even moody delivery – he’s not exactly going to be flirting with the camera (other than by fixing it with a smouldering glare), doing a ribbon dance or leaping around like your man from Sinplus (who incidentally sound like an over-the-counter decongestant). So I don’t see a problem in this regard. The live vocal would be a bigger worry, but of recent this has also been fine, so as long as he can deliver on the night, the song should come over credibly and professionally.

    Kaliopi’s a ledge, I recommend checking out her stuff on Spotify (Crne Ruze in particular is great). And yeah, Polly Genova’s stellar, she brought the house down with her performance and filled the arena with her voice last year, a real shame she didn’t get through…

    I think Sabina could do very well indeed for the reasons I outlined in my comment on the Azerbaijan article – credibly, passionately performed ballads of heartbreak are tres a la mode at the moment and there’s likely to be no other song quite like it in English in the final. The draw could be better but it’s both v televote friendly and v jury friendly, which is that crucial rare combination needed to excel in the contest. I don’t think we’re going back to Baku next year though, simply because I have to believe that for what remains of my own sanity… though nor do I think Sweden will come anywhere near winning either, it’s the biggest fanwank/false favourite going…

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