A lack of entries that scream ‘winner!’ creates interesting betting activity in the early-doors Eurovision market on Betfair. In 2011, a small bit of 200 was available about eventual 3.5 favourite ‘Sognu’ as it premiered on French television, one of the last songs to be shown.
The revelation of Armenia’s song last night saw a smaller but still significant price crash from 17 to around 5, where it challenges for favouritism. Actually, a few poor-quality videos of Aram MP3 performing ‘You’re Not Alone’ in a late January concert existed on YouTube. As a result, some shrewdies were taking prices in the high teens and above in expectation of what happened.
This price crash may not be the only one in a feverish last weekend of Eurovision selections. The Norwegian final is tonight and we’re waiting to hear the Russian and Azeri entries too. Those who like to trade will be keeping their fingers close to the trigger. But what are the chances for those sitting on double-figure prices of an Armenian win?
The song is not typical Eurovision fare. It starts off as a ballad whose instrumentation builds with piano, strings, percussion and wind. Nearly two-thirds of the way through, the dubstep kicks in, providing an epic contrast with the other instrumentation, until the final few seconds brings us back down again.
It’s a big tune: structurally daring, contemporary and cinematic in feel. There’s tension during the build and power in the way it breaks. The question is whether that will satisfy a Saturday night audience who like their Eurovision songs more mainstream, with a traditional structure of two choruses, a bridge and a climax.
This is a potential stumbling block. But in its favour, ‘You’re Not Alone’ is arguably more exciting than any other song on offer so far. If performed well, I think it will stand out. For these reasons, I reckon it’s a possible winner if they get the staging right.
What are my thoughts on presentation? The instrumentation plays a key part in the song throughout, so that needs to be represented effectively on stage. It is from here that we’ll have to see some movement, perhaps with each musician stepping forward as their instrument is introduced and interacting with each other as they continue over the dubstep beat.
There’s nearly a minute of repetition of the main refrain at this point. There is some variation in this line but not much – and there’ll have to be greater visual variation instead to maintain the sense of build and change. But the potential is there for a concert feel to be recreated in the arena.
Aram is a popular television personality as well as singer in Armenia, so there is hope that he understands the importance of getting the song across visually. But the annals of Eurovision show that when staging is important, it’s just as likely to disappoint. There’s no doubt which first rehearsal I’m most looking forward to seeing.
Looking at other factors in its chances, Armenia is a big hitter given that it represents the large ex-USSR bloc and has diaspora in places like Spain, France, Belgium and Netherlands. It’s lost traditional voting allies Cyprus and Bulgaria this year, though Poland’s return is a smaller positive. It’s thus very well placed to pick up points from many countries if the staging is successful.
There is a debate about how much certain big hitters have been unduly punished in the jury vote in those countries where a large televote is guaranteed. I used the example of Romania’s treatment by the Spanish jury for an article on this subject.
But arguably, those songs that were punished – you could use examples such as Russia 2011 and Turkey 2012 alongside Romania 2013 – were not jury-friendly anyway. Some of those countries have occasionally performed better than expected in the jury vote – the Russian grannies in 2012 and Hadise for Turkey in 2009 spring to mind.
I’m not unduly worried therefore by Armenia’s rather disappointing record over the last few years under the increasing power of the juries. I think this has largely reflected the songs they have sent. In ‘You’re Not Alone’, we potentially have something very jury-friendly: original, ultra-contemporary and dynamic. Given Armenia’s televote strength, it’s in a very good relative position overall.
What do you think of ‘You’re not Alone’: potential winner or possible fanwank? The market is not all-knowing – let’s remember, France 2011 ended up flopping as much as Amaury Vassili’s hair. Let us know how you think Armenia will get on below.