The Top 10 market has been kind to me over the years, though this year it presents punters with quite a challenge. That’s partly because the draw has placed quite a few no-hopers in the early single-digit slots, leaving a lot of contenders in the middle and a few potential springers near the end.
There’s also the conundrum of a disconnect between jury and televote scores, something that Eurovision organisers admitted had taken place in the first semi-final. That might refer to the six adorable Russian grannies winning the hearts of European televoters but potentially not the votes of national juries.
On the flip side of the coin, like last year there may be a few acts that score very highly with the juries but struggle a little more in the televote, such as Spain’s Pastora Soler and Estonia’s Ott Lepland. Where does that leave us? Being a little more cautious than usual on this market.
My suggestion as a relatively safe harbour is the nautical-themed entry from Turkey at 2.12 on Betfair.
Turkey’s failure to qualify from the semi-finals last year means that its ridiculously good record in the final has been rather forgotten. 2011 apart, they’ve had five top five finishes since 2003, all sung in English. The three Turkish entries that didn’t make that landmark were in the native language.
Turkey’s huge swathe of friendly votes has helped here of course. It’s worth bearing in mind that 2012 is a particularly friendly edition for Turkey. Voting ally Austria returned last year. The withdrawal of their least friendly neighbour Armenia is also a boost – in any normal year that would ensure them a televote 12 in the likes of France, Netherlands and Belgium rather than a possible 10 instead.
I mentioned all this in my article assessing Can Bonomo’s chances a few months ago. Then I expressed my thoughts about the song: ‘Love Me Back’ is an ethnic-flavoured sea shanty with a good opening riff and a very promising opening minute, but I was disappointed that it didn’t go anywhere from there.
Fortunately the staging that the Turkish team revealed during rehearsals has masked the problem visually, by taking us on a fun journey with Can and his bevy of pirates. They form a ship at two points with their capes, in the bridge and at the end. It’s tremendous fun and really helps the entry stand out.
My second problem with the song was my fear of how the juries will react to it. This worried me when trying to find an each-way suggestion for the second semi-final. The fact that Can didn’t impress me vocally for the relevant jury rehearsal back on Wednesday tipped the balance against him.
Since then, Turkey has received an excellent draw in the final – 18 – and I felt that Can was in much finer form for last night’s crucial jury run-through. The routine looked as slick as before and everything had come together really well. As a result, I don’t think the juries are sabotaging Turkey’s final scoreboard position as much as I may have thought even a few days ago. Added to this, some of Turkey’s rivals weren’t at their best for what the juries saw last night.
The reaction to Can’s performance from those watching at home on Thursday was mixed. As an ethnic number of a certain style, it can be rather jarring to western European ears. That won’t stop high televote points from many western European countries thanks to the large Turkish populations within them.
I think the sound of ‘Love Me Back’ goes down much better on the other side of the continent. But in the staging, they have something that is universal in its appeal. One only has to remember the success of Latvia’s dire ditty ‘Pirates of the Sea’ which managed twelfth back in 2008.
With Baku being virtually home turf for the Turks, you can expect a huge reaction to this one in the arena, which should help sell the performance even more. With Turkey’s friends and a strong jury performance from Can last night, I think that’s enough for a Top 10 finish.