It’s a big weekend for Eurovision fans. Tonight Sweden, Denmark and Slovenia select their entries. Tomorrow Montenegro presents its song and contest favourite Carl Espen performs in the Norwegian semi-final.
The Nordic sing-offs always get the most attention from fans and punters because they offer highly professional, competitive events with reliable webstreams. Plenty will be juggling multiple computer devices tonight.
The problem for eagle-eyed punters is that the Swedish event, Melodifestivalen, has already been pored over expertly for the last month, leaving little value left in the markets; meanwhile, the Danish event is too much of an unknown quantity, with the full songs only released yesterday and not enough sense of how each act is coming across on stage.
In Sweden, the market reckons it’s an effective duel between Sanna Nielsen and Ace Wilder. Sanna is the Melodifestivalen veteran, attempting her first win in seven attempts having just lost out in 2008 and placed fourth in 2011. Ace Wilder is the joker in the pack, whose ‘Busy Doin’ Nothing’ has taken the Swedish charts by storm.
The general feeling is that Ace’s crowd-pleasing, upbeat number will hold the advantage in the televote, Sanna’s ballad with the international juries; it’s a question of who loses out least in either category. One issue I have with this narrative is that since the international juries have participated in 2011, they’ve shown a liking for the kind of upbeat, hook-laden, song-and-dance packages that Ace offers.
In 2011, Sanna’s ‘I’m In Love’, admittedly much more dated than her song this year ‘Undo’, managed third with international juries behind ‘Popular’ and ‘In The Club’. ‘Busy Doin’ Nothing’ with its infectious chorus is a kind of hybrid of the latter two. The top two in 2012 and 2013? ‘Euphoria’, ‘Amazing’, ‘You’ and ‘Tell The World I’m Here’. This is not a constituency that have traditionally punished contemporary uplifting pop over heartfelt ballads, as Eurovision juries have a reputation for doing.
Given this, I don’t see ‘Busy Doin’ Nothing’ necessarily being so significantly disadvantaged by the juries. Arguably the song, with overtones of Icona Pop, is more relevant and palatable to an international audience than Sanna’s. It would far more likely chart around Europe than ‘Undo’. Negative blog reports of Ace from last night’s jury rehearsal should be considered, but bloggers can easily overdo their nitpicking.
For this reason, if forced to choose between the two, I’d still play the Ace, but wouldn’t be at all surprised to see long-time favourite Sanna finally lift the prize, which the domestic audience may feel she deserves. The rest seem to be fighting for bronze, with Helena Paparizou most likely to manage it. Unfortunately, the mature market has this right at 10/11 each of two, 12/1 bar. I probably won’t be getting involved.
The Danish final is much more of a mystery. I had backed Bryan Rice at 14/1 when song snippets were released, but even I have to admit that ‘I Choose U’ is inferior to his 2010 runner-up ‘Breathing’. The ten finalists all offer rather similar, middle-of-the-road stuff; only in performance will a pecking order be easier to discern. You can listen to them all here.
I followed one blog from last night’s dress rehearsal, which was most impressed by Rebekka Thornbech, Glamboy, Nadia Malm and especially Michael Rune. The author also liked Anna David, who despite a weak song, is the most famous domestic name. Basim offers the most immediate number, and Bryan Rice is proven to deliver on the big night. You see – it’s about as clear as mud!
What is clearer than mud is an exit poll of last night’s rehearsal from the same source. As this article was posted it has just published its results and the clear winner was Basim with almost a third of the total votes. Still, it’s from a tiny sample of just 100 and a much bigger sample was proved wrong last year when the act with more than twice the votes of anyone else could only manage second.
There may be opportunities in-running with this event. Some shrewdies latched onto ‘Only Teardrops’ last year which only started out as third favourite but came alive in its presentation. The rest is history. So my best advice for punters tonight is to watch the Danish event closest of all, despite the obvious attraction of the Melodifestivalen final, which I’d recommend more to curious newbies.
Good luck to all of you dipping your toes in Scandinavian waters. For all those interested, go to the usually excellent webstreams for Sweden (starts 7pm) and Denmark (also starts 7pm). Let us know your thoughts on this weekend’s big events below.