Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final 1 Analysis

When I was a teacher, I found that repeating myself could occasionally be a useful exercise if I felt the point was worth ramming home. Forgive me then for reminding you of something I wrote at the end of yesterday’s article:

In a semi-final where qualification odds are very short on those seemingly certain to go through, whilst the borderline cases are dependent on the whims of the juries which are generally much harder to predict, one way to find value is in the potential for disconnect between fans’ assumptions and what will turn out to be Eurovision reality.

With that in mind, there’s one bet I will recommend for this evening’s semi-final.

That bet is Cyprus not to qualify. You can sell ‘La La Love’ at 1.4 in the qualification market on Betfair or get 9/4 with Betfred.

My views on ‘La La Love’ have long been known. I labelled it this year’s potential “fanwank” – a song that is near the top of fan polls but then fails to be anywhere as near as popular on the Eurovision scoreboard. It shares many classic features of previous fan favourites that have disappointed, such as Hungary 2011 or Sweden 2008. It’s an upbeat number, the studio version of which is great to dance to at a Eurovision disco – as I can happily testify.

The problem comes in trying to bring this kind of thing to the Eurovision stage. It’s much more difficult staging upbeat numbers, as I’ve already indicated. There needs to be a dance routine which throws up ancillary dilemmas. What’s the routine going to be? How much do you get your lead singer to dance when he or she is trying to sing? How many backing vocalists and backing dancers to have?

This seemd a particular issue for Cyprus this year because Ivi Adamou is no more than an adequate vocalist and dancer, which could be just fine for a song like ‘La La Love’, but it means greater ingenuity is required in its staging.

It’s interesting that rehearsal reports have been so positive, but whilst Ivi’s practices certainly haven’t been a disaster, they have been far from convincing too. They have come across much better in the camera footage from the arena posted on YouTube than they have on the TV feed in the press centre – which is where it really matters.

The song’s many fans were clearly relieved that ‘La La Love’ was no car crash on stage, but that ignored fundamental problems with the way it is being staged. I understand exactly the idea that Cyprus have in mind, I just think it has been the wrong idea.

They have gone for a classy, feminine, slightly baroque feel with the floaty dresses, balletic movements, the plinth made of books, and the backdrop of picture frames – all in cream, white, or a rather neutral kind of mauve so that the action on stage blends into the backdrop. This feel is rather at odds with the song, which is a bit of a stomper.

This is best demonstrated by the attempt to marry a balletic female dance routine with a dance/pop tune. We have a great example of another upbeat fan favourite that tried this with little success – Iceland in 2005.

The use of female backing dancers means that the lifts, especially the first one, are not as convincing as they might be. Incidentally, the first one is a moment where Ivi’s vocals have tended to wobble. The flapper dance for the chorus makes it cheesier than it needs to be and brings to mind Spain 2011. Again, the energy required for it affects Ivi’s vocals.

I think they’ve asked Ivi to do too much in general. She has her moments. The “woo-oh-oh..I feel the energy” part has been her strongest in rehearsals. Unfortunately, Cyprus appear to have chosen not to use this bit in the reprise, but concentrate on the chorus, with its cheesy lyric and cheesy dance that gets Ivi rather breathless.

Ivi’s performance during the jury rehearsal last night was one of her worst of the week. There was one very painful long note, “when you are neeeeaaaarrr” and other wobbly moments. I can’t see the judges being impressed by what was one of the notably weaker vocals of the night.

This is not naturally a jury-friendly song anyway. It is very hard for me to envisage Cyprus even vying for a top ten position among the juries, especially when there is so much that is competent in this semi (bar Montenegro, San Marino and the way Latvia looks). The fact that others raised their game when it mattered, such as Greece, doesn’t help.

An upbeat song with a simplistic lyrical refrain, performed unconvincingly, is in fact a perfect storm for the juries: one only has to look at their treatment of Armenia, Russia and Norway (the early favourite to win the whole contest) last year – they scored 33, 31 and 29 points respectively with juries. There is a decent chance that Ivi will score something similar with juries this time.

In which case she is relying on an excellent televote score tonight. Problem is, Cyprus only has one certain ally in Greece. It also faces a huge amount of competition from the many other upbeat entries in this semi. Romania and Greece are drawn before Cyprus, but can at least rely on far more voting friends.

Following ‘La La Love’ we have the Russian grannies, the Austrian Trackshittaz, Moldova’s trumpet man Pasha and Ireland’s Jedward, who I believe are all going to have a bigger market among viewers – they are more memorable, better drawn and more convincingly performed. I can therefore envisage Ivi coming seventh in the televote among the upbeat numbers alone.

This is before we have factored in Albania’s reasonable amount of allies, the straightforward quality of the better drawn Danish and Hungarian songs, and the potential niche for the well performed Israeli, Swiss and Belgian numbers.

In the circumstances, I think Cyprus has a bit of a mountain to climb. And yet you can get 5-2 that it won’t qualify. Why? Because it’s a fan favourite that is popular and fun to dance to in Eurovision discos. To repeat myself again from yesterday:

The opening of the envelopes to reveal tomorrow night’s qualifiers will be the first time that fans’ expectations meet with Eurovision reality this week. This goes some way to explain why more often than not there are ‘shock’ results. The shock to fans is that viewers around Europe and national juries have different tastes to them. Which shouldn’t be a shock at all.

I’m not usually one to tip a country to lay in the qualification market, because with 10 songs going through from just 18, it is possible for most songs to sneak in. And that indeed could be the case this time with Cyprus. The news that Albania will not be showing the semi tonight and will therefore give just a jury vote adds an extra element of uncertainty to the scoreboard.

But even if Cyprus does emerge from an envelope tonight, I’ll try not to be too downhearted. Looking on the bright side, it will give me opportunities to win back my losses by laying ‘La La Love’ in the Top 10 market for Saturday’s final. Overall, I hope I have outlined why at current prices, it represents the best value bet in the qualification market for this semi.

I had built up a case for backing Denmark in the win market before last night’s jury rehearsal, but Soluna Samay surprised us all by starting off rather shakily in ‘Should’ve Known Better’. It was easily her worst rehearsal, though these things are relative – I don’t see it affecting her qualification chances. Last year, Azerbaijan had easily their worst rehearsal for the jury semi. It meant they just lost out in the jury vote (to Lithuania) and in the overall scores (to Greece), but it didn’t dump them out of the competition.

Each candidate for the semi win has something to overcome. Romania’s Mandinga merit the utmost respect, especially with so many allies to rely on. My reasons for not quite bringing myself to tip ‘Zaleilah’ are its poor draw and the fact that there is so much upbeat, zany stuff that follows to rather steal its thunder on this occasion. Give it a later draw on Saturday night, and a semi defeat can be easily reversed – it’s not an unusual occurrence from semi to final.

Russia’s Babushki are favourites to win this semi. Their televoting appeal is obvious, and they are well drawn in 15. However, there are reasons to think that ‘Party For Everybody’ may do relatively better in the final too. Firstly, they have far more voting allies stuck in the other heat. Secondly, their appearance feels like one of many gimmicks tonight, especially with the Austria-Moldova-Ireland triple whammy to conclude. Finally, I am still of the belief that juries will not be adding too much to potentially high televote scores, whereas the likes of Denmark will score more consistently well with both.

Iceland offer something jury friendly, but being drawn at number two in this semi doesn’t bode well for its televote potential tonight. Greece has neither a good draw nor a jury-friendly package, though its allies will be of great importance to Eleftheria. All these are highly probable qualifiers, but I think that it’s between Romania and Denmark for the win.

Here’s an interesting stat. Since the two-semi system started in 2008, at least one of the last two acts to sing in each heat has finished in its top 3. In eight semi-finals, 11 of the 16 to perform in the pimp slot or penultimate place have managed a podium finish. That’s quite a record. So the question is: can I build a case for Moldova or Ireland to join them in the top three tonight?

Jedward themselves failed to reach the semi podium from the pimp slot last year, managing only eighth in their heat. It’s difficult for me to then recommend a sneaky each-way punt on ‘Waterline’, which lacks some of the punch of ‘Lipstick’. However, they were at least looking more polished for the jury rehearsal than they had been for the previous practice yesterday, and that combined with the draw could be enough for qualification.

Moldova has plenty of friends in this semi, including what is usually a guaranteed 12 from Romania. There are worst bets than 33/1 each-way for Pasha Parfeny, but whether it’s because I don’t want to push Nick D over the ledge, or because I think it’s slightly too niche and not of enough interest to north and western Europe, I can’t quite bring myself to recommend it. I told Nick that ‘Lautar’ was not as good as ‘Hora Din Moldova‘, although watching Nelly in 2009 back again, she’s not singing in English, is therefore more niche and managed fifth in her semi.

In terms of who else qualifies it’s worth bearing in mind the analysis I wrote before last year’s contest on what juries go for. In short and general terms, there seems to be a bias towards earnestness. The fact that few songs in this semi display this kind of earnestness has implications for its scoreboard. The implication is that those songs which are jury-friendly have less competition in fighting for high marks from this constituency.

A second feature of this semi is that it contains far less of the big hitters in terms of diaspora and neighbourly voting: only Russia and Greece from the top tier and Romania from the second tier. In fact, the latter has more voting allies than anyone in this semi, having been drawn with all its friends bar Portugal, whilst Russia have been left with relatively few of its allies. Overall, this makes life slightly easier for the countries historically less favoured with voting allies.

That’s all going to help Iceland, Albania, Belgium, Finland, Denmark and Hungary who offer something more downbeat in tone at places 2, 5, 8, 9, 13 and 15 in the running order. It’s worth bearing in mind that a semi ‘shock’ has usually involved something slow and steady coming through the middle, such as Lithuania in 2011 or Portugal 2010. One exception is Sweden in 2010, which surprisingly fell out of the top 10 in its semi but the problem there was a surfeit of female ballads that we don’t have here.

This all leads up to me putting Belgium in my speculative list of ten qualifiers. This is a jury-friendly package: a straightforward ballad, simply presented and sung well. Iris put up a good performance in yesterday’s jury rehearsal. Her ability to work the camera and the emotional connection she makes as a result of this may see a better televote score than most fans imagine too.

That leaves me with two other spaces to fill from a list of potentials that comprises Albania, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria and Israel. Told you this semi was tricky. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of them made it, and as I’m writing this, I’m choosing Albania and Austria at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. At a different moment, I may have chosen two different ones.

So, my personal list of qualifiers are in draw order: Iceland, Greece, Albania, Romania, Belgium, Denmark, Russia, Austria, Moldova and Ireland. Getting them all right is notoriously tricky, so bragging rights are up for grabs. Let me know your prediction for the ten envelopes tonight and your other thoughts below. Good luck to everyone.

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92 comments to Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final 1 Analysis

  • Bexley

    An excellent analysis as always Dan

    I also have considered Cyprus as this years standout ‘fanwank’ song. Having had some fairly heated debate elsewhere on its merits the only reason I’m not laying is whether there an element of ‘wishful thinking’ has entered my reasoning.

    My list of 10 fwiw and in order of how I see it panning out:
    Romania, Denmark, Russia, Iceland, Moldova, Greece, Ireland, Hungary, Cyprus!!,Belgium

    • Daniel

      Thanks Bexley. I like ‘La La Love’ as a song and it’s perfectly possible to see it in the final. I just think that it shouldn’t be a 2/5 shot to go through.

  • Dayjur

    What a fantastic card this is. Excellent. Have backed Romania @ 4/1 with Boyles EW and took Hungary TQ after your positive tweet last night. Bet of the contest so far for me is Romania to bt Turkey @ 8/11 with Sid James. Looking forward to your SF2 analysis 🙂

  • DashBerlin

    I like Modlova top 3 and Austria to qualify as well. Only problem with Austria is the jury might give them nothing, but its a catchy tune which I think the voters will enjoy.
    I’ll go for a Romania win too, as mentioned the allies will help what is a strong entry.

  • Popking

    I have laid Iceland, Cyrpus, and Albania although I reckon the first 2 will make it, the odds are just too short on each for me.

    I have backed Belgium, and had done even before the excellent advice on here but pleased to see you feel likewise. I may back Hungary – they’re fighting out with the Swiss for a place IMO, but if Cyprus do fail…

    Romania
    Greece
    Ireland
    Moldova
    Denmark
    Russia
    Belgium
    Iceland
    Cyprus
    Hungary

    I do think Ireland, Greece, Moldova could all challenge for top 3 in this semi with Romania, Denmark & Russia. I’d only be really confident of Romania being there somewhere.

  • tpfkar

    Great summary Daniel.

    I was planning to stay out of this one as I still find Romania’s entry painful on both ears and eyes, and I’ve realised that’s impairing my judgement.

    My biggest bet so far has been the winner coming from SF2 (with covering on Germany and Azerbaijan) so I’m reassured to hear that Denmark had a wobble under pressure yesterday as I see them as the risk here.

    I might just be tempted on either Cyprus NQ, or the Moldova top 3 which for me is great value.

    Just to give you some competition in the bragging rights league, I’ll agree with your top 7 and Albania, but lose Belgium and Austria for Switzerland and Israel. Good luck everyone.

  • Dayjur

    My ‘Ten to follow’ for SF1

    Romania
    Denmark
    Belgium
    Greece
    Russia
    Cyprus
    Moldova
    Hungary
    Ireland
    Iceland

  • Boki

    I agree completely on Ivi and her chances, my Q lay is covered with Top3 lay, so my big liability in top10 lay awaits the result from tonight. Also have some Turkey-Cyprus H2H on BF (which will be void if any of the two NQ).

    Winner market is not my cup of tea, no objections to Rom/Den but didn’t think any further.

    Rg others, there are 2 spots that anyone could take so I think there will be no big shock in tearms of hot favorites NQ.
    I switched from Finland to Belgium in last couple of days but can’t really check if there are no unplesent close-ups of Iris which could hamper her chances, no bet until live for me.
    Albania should come through based on jury support only. Austria I still don’t see in top10 since it’s not really family friendly so juries should punish it heavily.
    Swiss, Hungary and Israel are fighting for a spot, I’m not confident to back any but lay of Israel is my choice since their “package” is far from telegenic.

  • Tim B

    Ten to qualify:

    Iceland
    Greece
    Romania
    Albania
    Belgium
    Moldova
    Ireland
    Denmark
    Hungary
    Russia

    I topped up on my lay on Cyprus to qualify. The odds are ridiculously good!

  • Panos

    I’ve had a pretty similar train of thought re my homeland Cyprus’ possible jury and televote split in the semi and have been already laying it for qualification, so we are in agreement there.

    To Qualify:
    Iceland
    Greece
    Albania
    Romania
    Israel
    Denmark
    Russia
    Hungary
    Moldova
    Ireland

    • sonovox

      I was just about to post exactly the same ten as Panos – snap. Had an existing lay on Cyprus so heartened by Daniel’s game-day post – now for a quick nap before the torture of following it in real time from Australia …

  • Boki

    It seems nothing exciting happened in the 3rd dress rehearsal …

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, nothing of real interest. Most of them were dressed down and some were putting in less effort than others, so it would be slightly dangerous to start drawing conclusions from any of it. This is always the case with the third ‘dress’ rehearsal.

  • Nick D

    I can’t come up with a list of 10 qualifiers that looks right! My first cut had Iceland and Ireland missing out, then I slapped myself and told myself not to be silly, then I started worrying about Denmark and Russia and Greece being vulnerable and had to slap myself again…

    It’s a real struggle to hit ten songs to go through BANG GUILLOTINE GOES DOWN and eight not to. I’ll take Iceland, Greece, Albania, Romania, Israel, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Moldova, Ireland as my 10 qualifiers, but now I’m not happy about leaving out Switzerland and Belgium. Oh this is hard!!!

  • DashBerlin

    Ok, here’s my 10

    Russia, Denmark, Romania, Iceland, Moldova, Austria, Latvia, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece

  • justin

    Daniel have you actually backed anything from this semi to qualify?

    The odds on Romania to qualify have dropped dramatically in the last couple of weeks, so to a lesser extent, have Moldova. I was wondering if you might be responsible?

  • Chris aka Spanky

    Hi Daniel:

    I largely agree with you. I’ve got Hungary instead of Austria. So my list is:

    Iceland
    Greece
    Albania
    Romania
    Belgium
    Denmark
    Russia
    Hungary
    Moldova
    Ireland

    I’ve put my money on Belgium to qualify and Switzerland not to qualify. I originally had some money on Ireland not to qualify but I now believe that their fanbase will see them through based on what I’ve seen on Twitter.

    I see Romania as the winner of this SF and am starting to come round to the idea that they could top the televote in the final with a good draw. I still think Italy could win the jury vote…

    We shall see…

    Good luck!!!

  • justin

    Thats quite reassuring! Been backing Moldova to qualify since the draw was made way back.

    Thanks for an excellent piece on your views on Cyprus, it feels a little like Kati Wolf all over again. Like you I feel it could sneak in but on balance probably not. I dont feel strongly enough either way.

    I cant say I have anything else to add as there are negatives about all the entries tonight much as I like many of them.

    Another stat though – with one exception, the sixth-last to perform has qualified for the final in every one of those 8 semis you mention above (the one failure was by a single place). Fortunately Cyprus sing seventh-last … lets hope there is not a late non-runner!

  • Theo

    There is so much vs-Cyprus opinion at the moment – someone must be taking the other side in matching all the bets, and it could be me! Cyprus has a decent draw and performs strongly in the polls. Personally I am cheering on Ivi, and getting against all the top cats, Greece/Russia/Romania & Iceland. Come on the underdogs… Theo 🙂

  • Daniel

    Just a reminder to all our readers that I will be using the comments section of this article to update you on the post-semi draw as it happens.

  • Roach

    I’ll go for these as the 10 qualifiers… in rough order!
    Denmark
    Romania
    Russia
    Iceland
    Greece
    Moldova
    Albania
    Hungary
    Ireland
    Belgium

  • Nick D

    I’m back on the ledge. I think Moldova’s got this semi won by a mile and San Marino might be a shock qualifier.

  • Very quickly before the results, just for a bit of fun, I’ll go:

    Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Romania, Cyprus, Russia, Switzerland

    Israel, Latvia and Belguim as wildcard

    Also, I have to disagree with you Daniel, I think Cyprus will walk through with that song. Although I agree the white dresses don’t work at all.

    I have done no research, am not an expert and have only watched tonight – but for a bit of fun, I think Israel, Latvia and Belguim are stronger than the market thinks!

  • Boki

    Just as I thought, no real surprise tonight, it will happen on Thursday 🙂

  • Daniel

    I will enter the draw for the final as it happens. Press refresh to update:
    Romania – 14
    Moldova – 26!
    Iceland – 7
    Hungary – 2
    Denmark – 15
    Albania – 3
    Cyprus – 8
    Greece – 16
    Russia – 6
    Ireland – 23

    • tpfkar

      Russia to Iceland. What a contrast! Glad I’ve been out all evening so didn’t manage to get that Cyprus NQ bet on!

    • Chatterbox5200

      I take it that means Moldova have got the coverted “Pimp Slot”? Do you think the draw will really help them? I don’t see it as a winner.

      Not a bad draw for Ireland at 23, I guess. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Tooji (Norway) qualifies and gets a good draw. Ever since seeing the initial videos the song has been stuck in my head and it tempted me to back it at pretty decent odds.

  • ross

    how do we know who won the semi-final? I think they said “No particular order”?

    • Daniel

      Hi Ross, we won’t know till just after the final finishes. The results are not released so that we have no idea who the likely winner is on Saturday.

  • ross

    oh right, thanks

  • Mrs Shrewd

    Are we expecting final draw very shortly Dan?

  • fiveleavess

    Hi Dan,
    How long is it likely to be?

  • ross

    Russia with a good draw must be the bet

  • ross

    And do we know why the U.K have gone from about 12/1 to 40/1 ?

    • DashBerlin

      Don’t think they’re been as low as 12’s for a few days now.
      They are drawn 1, therfore, 40/1 reflects their price, especially considering all the market favourites are through

  • ross

    yeah I meant 12/1 a few days back, oh right I hadnt seen the draw, really is all over before it’s started for countries with a bad draw it seems

  • Chatterbox5200

    The 10 qualifiers from Semi Final 1 have just been announced on http://www.eurovision.tv

    The order of envelope opening was random and in no particular order. The results were as follows:-
    •Romania
    •Moldova
    •Iceland
    •Hungary
    •Denmark
    •Albania
    •Cyprus
    •Greece
    •Russia
    •Ireland

    Looks like Cyprus managed to qualify then.

  • fiveleavess

    Best of the night Chatterbox 😀

    • Donald

      I thought Cyprus were best of the night also. Was interesting to see how automatic qualifiers were presented and give screen time during the break.

      • fiveleavess

        Greece a solid vocal too.

        I was slightly disappointed with the Danish vocal, altho I like the song and Romania were having problems too,

  • fiveleavess

    Cyprus a better all round package than Greece for me tho.

  • eurovicious

    You totally just gobbled up Albania Top 10 on Betfair, didn’t you? 😉

    • eurovicious

      Ignore this comment – someone tweeting from the draw incorrectly tweeted that Albania had been drawn 25, upon which their top 10 seemed to contract before I could act. Fortunately for me, as the “correction” tweet saying they were actually 3rd came 2 minutes later…

      • Martin F.

        A work of true Millsian genius. Quite where that brain-fart came from I have no idea, but when we’re talking about the team that brought you “Christos Mylordos is totally overshadowing Eric Saade”, anything is possible…

  • I don’t feel I have any edge on Eurovision, so ignore my thoughts.

    I don’t feel I’ve seen the winner tonight. Nothing really stood out. Having seen the draw, Russia in a forgettable 6, Cyprus in 8 then weaker songs such as Ireland in 23 and Moldova in 26, I think all ten songs can be discounted to win.

    One thing the producers didn’t think about was flags being waved… Especially during the Cyprus entry, the camera shots were obscured by giant flags!

    Just from watching the thirty second video, the german entry looks very strong….

    Enjoying the analysis.

    • Donald

      Hi Richard, I though Germany came across strong also on the 30 Sec video clip and I not a huge fan but as we saw tonight that stage and arena eats the acts up.

      Hard to come across really strong look at the Swiss tonight for example.

      I don’t think we saw the winner tonight either.

  • Tim B

    I still can’t believe that Cyprus qualified! It defies all rational logic. I’m sure it must have snuck through in 9th or 10th and that Belgium must have just missed out.

    I’m quite liking the draw though. I reckon Romania could win from 14 – it’s positioned nicely between the Azerbaijani spine tingler and the relatively forgettable Danish ballad.

    Greece in 16 is great for me as I backed it at top 10 at well over evens – surely it’s going to make it from there.

    Moldova in 26 is also fantastic as I took a chance on it at top 10 at 7.4. It’s not guaranteed to make it but it’s in with a shot for sure.

    Iceland could have been better for me. It’s really not going to win from 7.

    The Russian grannies I’ve decided to lay for top 4…absolutely no way are they getting there from slot number 6.

    All in all, – a good night, but not a fantastic one. Roll on Thursday!

    • Dayjur

      Agree re: Russia – they picked the wrong song there and now have an awful draw.

    • Daniel

      Hey Tim, actually I thought Ivi totally deserved to qualify on the basis of tonight, though I still wondered if her jury performance would be a hindrance. Pasha saw me right on the night so was delighted for him.

      It’s early to say but I tend to agree with Richard that with those draws the winner won’t be coming from this semi, but we will have to see how the rest pan out.

      • Tim B

        Hey Daniel, I kind of see what you mean. It was a great performance but based on what I had heard about the jury performance, I was quietly confident. I still don’t see where the televotes came from…I suppose I placed too much emphasis on its lack of voting allies, and not enough on her potential of doing a good performance.

        I was glad to see Albania qualify. Many people had it down as a NQ but it had always been a certainty for me.

  • Dayjur

    Germany to bt the UK @ 5/6 is massive. Stan James used to be good at pricing this stuff up – they seem well behind with the market this year. (Rom now 1/2 to bt the Turks.)

    I see Romania had bad sound problems tonight. From what i can gather her earpiece wasn’t working. With that in mind she done quite well just to get the song out – my bet at 4/1 to win SF1 could be shot though. Thanks for Hungary anyway Daniel.

  • eurovicious

    I missed the first 14 songs because I’m working on site at an agency over an hour away from where I live all this week, and due to work reasons (other people’s inefficiency), I didn’t get back until 10pm CET…

    However, not having seen the show, only the last 4 songs and the recap, I called 9/10 qualifiers. I had Belgium instead of Ireland, which might have been different if I’d seen her performance. (However, I might not have had Cyprus to qualify if I’d seen Ivi’s performance either, so it’d still have been 9….). My preshow prediction (which I was too busy to post here) would have been 8/10 but I revised it upon seeing the recap. Despite taking Daniel’s tip (and then Boki’s by laying Cyprus top 3), I had Cyprus down to qualify.

    I saw for the first time tonight why a lot of people hate Albania. I love Rona and I love the song, but visually, they got absolutely everything wrong they could tonight: the staging, the colours, the dry ice, the dress, the hair, the makeup and the histrionics. It came over as ugly, unpleasant and overblown instead of emotional, sincere and introspective. It’s a song that I think is beautiful and that I cherish, but I found it actively unpleasant this evening – which is saying something, especially as I had a four-figure sum on it to qualify.

    Pasha made my evening.

    What also made my evening: German TV repeated the semi in full 3 hours later (it’s on now, Jedward have just finished), so I managed to watch and record it after all. Going to bed now 🙂

    • Boki

      I took the day off today 🙂
      Didn’t you watch Albania’s rehearsals? Jury and few friends put it through but the signals for the bad visuals were there – luckily you bet came in and that’s what counts. I regret a little for not having 4 fig sum against creepy Israel…

      Btw that laying Ivi top3 was not actually a tip but just something I did long ago, it’s not kind of smart since I got the same odds for top10 lay but nevermind, hopefully we get both.

  • Donald

    Hi Daniel, great coverage on the draw, thanks. Hope Cyprus didn’t sting too much.
    I said oh oh to myself as I watched performance, they pulled it out of the bag.

    Italy heavily pushed on BBC 3 tonight.
    Germany came across well on 30 sec clip, Loreen interviewed briefly.

    They called Jedward during voting!

    That stage and arena ate up most acts tonight, so different to a YouTube video or a 30 sec clip.

    Liverpool on my radar tomorrow also, the’ve only gone and changed their name and it ain’t a good one I think. Mind boggles.

    Eurovision down to 4 or 5 women me thinks

    Back To BAKU.

    • Dayjur

      Italy had all kinds of problems early but seems to be improving (hard song to get right live.) 15/8 in the Big 5 market was a big price with BlueSq as too was Germany at four with Ladbrokes. I can’t have Spain at all, the song is nice but her presentation of it is almost violent.

  • Tim B

    Interesting, Donald. What 4 or 5 women do you have it down to?

    I absolutely agree that we could be going back to Baku next year. Latvia not qualifying tonight and Russia in an early slot are both very good news for Sabina.

    • Nick D

      Belgium’s NQ tonight leaves Azerbaijan as the only standard English-language solo female ballad in the final – Netherlands could be in there too, but it’s not really standard and I’m not convinced I’d call it a ballad either.

      • Martin F.

        Gosh, that’s quite something when you put it that way, isn’t it?

        • Nick D

          The effect will be dampened by a huge job lot of standard native-language female solo ballads for sure, but it still leaves it fishing alone in a generally well-stocked pond. Having said that, Belgium was fishing alone in the same pond last night and much good did it do them.

    • Donald

      Hard call Tim but one has to look seriously at a group of Loreen, Pastora, Sabina,Gaitana (even though Gaitana bad draw in semi on Thursday) and Nina.
      I’ve really liked Pastora all the way, have backed ew at fancy prices. There are plus and minus for each one but one may stumble across the line.

      Waiting until draw on Thursday night to decide exactly. I am worried about Nina draw, early and Moldova now last no help either. Germany straight after Pastora but seeing bands on that stage tonight may not be as big a problem for Pastora as Germany straight after or anyone for that matter. Show may peak with Pastora $ note?
      Allot depends on Loreens draw.
      Sabina now has Romania after her.

      Judging by Pastora rehearsal and online reaction she may just pull it off. If Italy got to second last year on jury maybe Pastora can go one better. At current odds very tempted! But waiting until Thursday night and also very important Daniels opinion.
      That got me across the line last year.
      My run of luck has to end sometime so exercising bit of caution but at the same time not afraid to have a decent go.

      Long week there yet. Come on Sofabet…

  • Tim B

    Yep. Also, with Georgia highly unlikely to qualify and Ukraine/Turkey only really a threat for a top 10 finish, it’s looking increasingly likely that Azerbaijan could top the televote again this year.

  • Boki

    Any semi 1 post-mortem thoughts Daniel?

    No standouts in this semi for me, Russia was heavily promoted as a fun factor, probably it is for someone who sees it for the 1st time and who cares about singing ability, right.
    Romania left me cold but that’s my problem only so no change there (I doubt if people even noticed earpiece problem and her lagging behind in one verse).
    Greece just ok and of course lucky with the final draw unlike Cyprus – Ivi was solid but doesn’t look good on 8th. She was always in my book to qualify based on televote but the rationale was that the juries will put her down enough – that didn’t happen apparently.
    The rest as expected more or less, as I said no big surprises, Hungary was good as some others too and the running order was the key again imo. Nice and honest performance from Belgium but not enough it seems. Pasha clear winner with his final draw (btw he was 4.5 for top 10 @Unibet immediately after the show while dropped to 2+ @BF so some nice arbitrage was possible).

    Oh yes Ireland. Anyone agrees they sucked big time? Nothing new except that fountain gimmick, what a bore. Lucky bastards with the draw though, the article about back2lay of Jedward makes much more sense now, can we expect some hype there again?

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, no major surprises as you say. I think Russia probably won the televote, but I’d still be surprised if they weren’t beaten in the overall standings by something that did better with the juries. The most likely probability is Denmark, I still think. No particular standouts for me either.

      • Boki

        And what are your thoughts/feelings about Jedward if I may ask?

        • Daniel

          Good question! Last year I was unsure how they would get on. This year, we at least can make a comparison. I still think the overall show they put on in 2012 is inferior to that of 2011, and this year’s final is shaping up to be much stronger. They do have the draw this time, but I still think they’ll be doing well to match last year’s eighth place.

          • Boki

            Last but not least for today: now that we have the perfomance from yesterday and the draw, is there anything changed in your view of Cyprus top10 prospects? I think it’s cemented now but would like to hear your opinion. Many thanks.

          • Daniel

            Hi Boki, much as I was surprised by how well ‘La La Love’ came across on screen when it mattered last night, I think any Top 10 chances are scuppered by the draw.

          • fiveleaves

            I shall still be backing 😀
            An early ish draw a setback, but less so for an uptempo number like Cyprus.
            I’ve always thought it was the best uptempo number and the best presented one from what I saw at the rehearsals.
            I’m glad those thoughts were justified when I saw it on the tv last night.

  • justin

    Good point Boki. The final draw has certainly assisted this forum with Greece v Cyprus debate. Greece should be finishing well ahead in the final with strong possibility of top 10 from a fairly favourable draw. I cannot see Cyprus anywhere near that from stall 8 even with the improved performance.

  • David

    The UK odds keep being totally mental. Up @60 yesterday, now swinging down to @15 repeatedly…

  • Henry VIII

    Excellent evening for me, I think eurovison will become my main event of the year (unless the grannies win).

  • Paje

    Hello Daniel.You said that probably Russia won the televote but you think that Denmark took a better place in overall.Do you think that Romania succeeded in being at the top 3 of the semi final 1.I think the worst scenario is to be 4th after Greece.I don’t know.Whats your opinion?

    • Daniel

      Hard to say Paje, given the problems she seemed to have with her earpiece and sound last night. It made the performance look much more ragged to me who has seen it looking much smoother. It all depends on whether televoters noticed or even cared. I’m still guessing it got a top three finish, but a drop to 4th is possible.

  • Roger

    I have bet on Hungary top ten in the final. First step accomplished. But…

    Why had they to get that second spot in the final?
    (But they will at least contrast from UK at spot one)

  • Paje

    But why at this time Greece has better odds than Denmark for Top 10 finish if Denmark went so well as you have mentioned.Romania have at this time the best odds than the other two.The only thing that I didn’t like in Greece Odds was that fell down immediately and hardly showing us that something good happened for Greece.

    • Daniel

      Because Greece have more guaranteed televotes from voting allies. That is particularly useful in the final when there are more countries and stronger songs competing than in the semi. Greece was also drawn way before Denmark in the semi, now it’s just after in the final.

  • Paje

    A last question.How possible do you think is Romania to be at top 10 in the final?It’s my backup bet on Semi Final Romania Top 3.

  • Daniel

    Some interesting news following an EBU press conference just held. From last night’s qualifiers, juries and televoters “agreed on 8”. One other got through thanks to juries, one got through thanks to televoters.

    Other more general news too, you can read a summary here:

    http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=dates_announced_for_2013_contest&source=twitter&medium=social&campaign=Twitter

  • I guess Hungary is saved by the jury. And by televoters surely not Russia. Don’t build hopes about that.

  • fiveleaves

    Iceland would be my guess.

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Imagine if Russia was one of the acts juries and televoters AGREED on! 😀

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