Eurovision 2014: Will Norway’s ‘Silent Storm’ make some noise?

Norway’s position in the Eurovision win market has been far from silent. It rocketed to the top when Carl Espen’s song was first heard in full, in expectation he would win the national final.

The market shifted back and forth last Saturday when Carl had a closer shave than anticipated. On losing the first regional tally of televotes, Norway’s odds immediately started to lengthen on Betfair, only to come back in as ‘Silent Storm’ gradually reasserted itself.

Afterwards, punters have clearly been asking themselves: if Carl can’t win over Norway convincingly, is that a negative for his Eurovision chances? He’s been slowly drifting ever since, currently vying for second favouritism with Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen at around 5/1.

‘Silent Storm’ excited punters before it was performed because it’s a highly credible, heartfelt ballad. The first verse and chorus has Carl’s vocals joining some simple piano chords. The instrumentation builds from there. It’s a lovely, atmospheric song you’d happily listen to on the radio.

As for its faults, firstly I’d say it doesn’t really go anywhere. Secondly, it’s not ideal structurally – we only manage two verses and choruses (Ukraine’s ‘Tick-Tock’, at the other end of the musical spectrum, likewise). It thus feels like a four-minute effort shoehorned into three (Ben Cook made a similar point about Armenia’s more daring composition, now the clear market leader at best odds of 2/1).

As a live performance, my feelings are even more mixed. Carl’s lugubrious, bearish looks contrast nicely with the fragility of his voice, which suits the message of the song. But diffidence can be a hindrance if there’s not enough connection with the audience, and he spends far too much time with his eyes shut, especially in the first half.

Even more worrying, those fragile vocals got a little shaky, especially in the higher register. Nerves are clearly an issue – there were telltale signs in the Norwegian competition, such as the lip-licking and the fact all the blood appeared to have drained from his face.

Norway backers have to hope that this issue doesn’t worsen in the bigger contest. It can go either way: Ott Lepland was surprisingly nervous in the Estonian national final before owning the Eurovision stage in 2012; but Norway’s Didrik Solli-Tangen let the pressure get to him in the 2010 contest having previously appeared vocally confident. Amaury Vassili likewise in 2011.

Those two examples of vocal nerves were all the more damaging because the entries hinged on the male soloist, as indeed does this one. Like them, if Carl is only 70% convincing when it matters, he won’t just fail to win, he won’t finish in the top ten, despite a song that is clearly one of the classier efforts this year. On the other hand, if it’s performed well, ‘Silent Storm’ is obvious jury bait.

Was it nerves that were the main factor behind the narrower-than-expected victory in Norway? To be fair, it was a strong four-way superfinal against three charismatic performers, one of whom – Linnea Dale – had a marvellous song. Yet Carl’s winning margin relied heavily on a big vote in his western Norwegian homeland; he still narrowly won if this is taken out of the equation, but managed only 26.7% of the vote in the Oslo region, losing out to Linnea Dale there.

Perhaps we shouldn’t worry too much about this. There are plenty of examples of songs narrowly winning a national final before going on to Eurovision success. In 1997, ‘Love Shine A Light’ was a far from clear winner of the UK selection before a landslide victory in the contest.

But it does nag at me for a few reasons. Firstly, we have recent templates from Norway. I wrote about these in last year’s analysis of ‘I Feed You My Love’. Carl’s victory in percentage terms was not only nothing compared to Alexander Rybak, at 34% it was the lowest in recent memory.

A further point of concern for Carl’s backers is that the balladeering male solo performer is something of a Norwegian standard, tapping into a tradition that includes the likes of Didrik and Jostein Hasselgard. ‘Silent Storm’ is not an effort that Norwegians are less likely to appreciate than the rest of Europe; you’d say the opposite is more likely.

It’s worth reiterating what a surprisingly strong superfinal it was. I don’t think it was bettered throughout the selection season. Overall though, I can’t help but be cautious about the chances of ‘Silent Storm’ in Copenhagen, despite the early hype that surrounded it. The uncertainty will last right up until his performance on the big night. That’s not something I’d recommend in a second favourite.

What do you think of Carl’s ‘Silent Storm’? Please keep your views coming below.

58 comments to Eurovision 2014: Will Norway’s ‘Silent Storm’ make some noise?

  • eurovicious

    Yeah, Love Shine A Light almost lost the NF to the AMAZING Yodel In The Canyon Of Love! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwLOEIk5_uM

    I didn’t watch the MGP final but I’ve noticed I find it hard to tell nerves in people, apart from cases like Julia Savicheva or Farid where there are obvious visual or vocal signs. I didn’t notice it with Didrik or with Amaury – in the latter case I was more busy thinking “his hair looks a state, that’s gonna harm his vote…”

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks EV for posting this – where do you find them?. I love a yodelling song as good as this. Two key changes as well. She wasn’t nervous, but if I had to sing that song in front of more than one person, I would have been very nervous indeed. Perhaps they could use that song to test the singer’s nerves.

      • eurovicious

        Not-quite-encyclopaedic-but-still-very-good-for-my-age knowledge of NFs… the fun but naff stuff the UK had in its selections while I was growing up was legendary. Mind you, the German stuff is worse/funnier. This is my favourite hilariously awful NF song of all time – and, yup, it’s a Ralph Siegel. I’ve never seen music more ruthlessly weaponised: this stuff needs to be in a bunker… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts2fGtRIysk

        • Chris Bellis

          Terrible though it is, I think Scooch were actually worse. But you’ve helped explain to me why “Right Said Fred” are still so popular in Germany.

      • eurovicious

        I think Yodel In The Canyon Of Love is a metaphor for anilingus.

    • Chris Bellis

      Just to add, yodelling and whistling songs are not as dead as we might hope – Switzerland being a case in point.

  • dicksbits

    I agree on the analysis that the song doesn’t go anywhere is a problem. Coupled with the fact it could look very static on stage and amidst other more sophisticated ballads/mid tempo songs, he could look rather boring. Armenia, Hungary, Sweden & Azerbaijan all out class this in sophistication, I feel. This is not the 2014 winner, and we won’t be back in Oslo next year.

  • eurovicious

    It doesn’t really go anywhere for me either, but for me that’s even more the case for Armenia. I connect to this more than Not Alone – this is more universal, Armenia’s more marmite. At least from where I’m sitting.

  • Gert

    I think Norway will not win either. But hey, I think it is a ‘gem’ in this contest. I remember last year for my country Netherlands. That ended 9th and the entire country went completely ‘loco’! As if we won hehe ;-).

    Concerning Carl……I think a TOP 10 is a very safe prediction. I kinda compare him with Netherlands last year: Both very artistic, fresh and truly unique. That will help them in the TOP 10. But it’s not enough for winning. Is that bad? Not at all. Eurovision needs these kind of ‘gems’.

    Because trust me. Ten years ago we didn’t see these kind of entries. Here I must say that the EBU did a wunderful thing of introducing the juries (Something I have been challenging ever since 2004, but that’s besides the point).

    I think Norway should be like us last year: Getting crazy out of a 9th place. I am glad the Eurovision of the 90-s is back, albeit in a larger, Olympic-sized event :-). Perfect.

    I was saying yesterday that Norway could end 4th, but it is the max I think. I personally feel more emotions when I see Axel singing then when I look into Carl’s eyes. Therefore: 8th to 10th for Carl.

  • Chris Bellis

    Don’t want to get into politics here, but I presume the ex-Soviet bloc / Russian diaspora voting will have greater significance this year? A couple of years ago I was in Latvia and it was striking how different were the musical tastes of the ethnic Russians from that of the Latvians (Latvia is 40% ethnic Russian). A few months ago I spent a few weeks in Russia – first time in my life – and I was also struck by how patriotic they were, and whatever the West says, they stand by Putin and the mother country, even when they are critical of them. So I expect much more partisan voting from the Russian diaspora this year. I don’t know how this will be counter-balanced by voting hostile to Russia. I’m hoping Sweden will slip through the middle of all this, having now put a sizeable packet on them. I would have put even more if Ace Wilder had gone through, but there you are.

    • SirMills

      I agree, I think the controversial situation in Russia will actually help them. I would like to make a case for this.

      Let’s say I have a field of random 1.000 people that have decided to vote according to politics rather than their favorite song. Given Russia’s unpopularity I will split those imaginary people 90/10. 900 voting against Russia 100 voting for Russia. Given that Russia has an exact average vote count, 1 out 37 would pick Russia as their winner if it weren’t for politics. 2,7% of those 900 people that would normally have voted for Russia decide to show their hate towards Russia and give any other of the 37 songs their vote. 24 people! Let’s say this people would have voted twice for their favorite song – 48 votes gets lost.

      The 100 on the other hand are only voting to show their support not to pick a winner, so this group will be multi voting to make the most impact as possible. If the average vote count for each person is 10 that will make 1.000 votes won due to the controversial situation. 1.000 won – 48 lost. Even though we had 99% voting against Russia and 1% voting for Russia. 100 votes won – 53 lost.

      Of course this is a hypothetical example and the numbers are fictional, the difference is maybe not that much (or little). But the difference is there – in favor to Russia!

      • Chris Bellis

        Russia has never exactly been flavour of the month with Europe, yet they have always done well in this contest, even with songs that have been not so good. So that proves your point as regards to patriotic voting. You must be right that people are multiple voting, so there’ll be even more of that now. Interesting to hear your views Sir Mills.

      • eurovicious

        Even if this is exactly as you say, two factors hinder Russia doing well – 1) The “combined ranking” system introduced in 2013 2) The full juror transparency (with individual names and rankings all revealed) to be introduced in 2014. Russia is sending these twins who presumably aren’t gonna be jury magnets anyway, and jurors will be disinclined to vote for them because a) in the case of many ex-USSR countries, they know the Russians in their country will be frantically multivoting and will thus seek to counterbalance that – witness the Azerbaijan/Russia/Belarus diplomatic debacle last year b) individual jurors won’t want to be seen to have given a high ranking to Russia in many cases. Jury members are public figures, generally well-known names from their country’s entertainment industry names – singers/musicians, TV/radio presenters, songwriters, journalists etc – would you want the reputational damage of having to explain to the domestic press why you placed the creepy singing dancing Aryan twins from Russia, the country that’s just invaded one of your neighbours and annexed part of it (annex my peninsula, baby), near the top of your ranking? Imagine the shit Fearne Cotton would get from the Daily Mail if she were on the UK jury and put Russia 2nd or something. Especially if their stage performance involved them straddling a rubber tank. But I’m digressing.

        • Interesting theory that juries actively try to counterbalance diaspora voting (you are of course joined by others in backing it), but is there also evidence of that? I can’t see it being part of their official mission, anyway.

        • Chris Bellis

          Quite a lot to ponder on here. I’ve noticed in my wide travels through ex USSR countries that the “hatred” of Russia is not so strong as the Western press makes out. Even in places like Spain, and dare I say it, in the UK, it’s less than the chattering classes think. In addition Russian tourism has grown strongly over the latter years. For example, in Finland, Russia is not seen as the evil monster but a source of tourist revenue and investment. Perhaps a love hate relationship, who can say. I’ve met many people (not ethnic Russians) in Hungary and Bulgaria and even former east Germany who have nostalgic feelings about the USSR. I’ll have to make an assessment of the “Aryan twins” when I see them. They did win Junior Eurovision in 2006, so they might be ok. Anyway, I’ve let my prejudices lose me money before, so if it’s a good song I will not rule it out as a possible. Problem at the moment is that when you try to google the video you get Rick Astley or Ukrainian transvestites, so obviously nothing official out there yet.

  • sonovox

    Thanks Daniel. Been keeping up with entries and following all posts and comments keenly as ever. Would have chipped in earlier but for an exhausting series of gigs in England followed by various musicological travels (this comment brought to you from Tallinn).

    I don’t like Norway’s entry at all, but I’m massively averse to whiny male vocals and male-led ballads generally. Trying to discard that prejudice and approach it more receptively isn’t really helping. I find it hard to hear any real class in the song that elevates it above the cliched piano ballad (other than the singer’s slightly novel vulnerable trucker persona, what’s memorable? Surely that by itself can’t be enough). I also agree that the subdued dramatic trajectory is a concern – not that it’s an especially wonderful comparison, but I hated Eg a Lif last year at first for its appallingly banal melody, and it actually turned out to be pretty cool live. I don’t really see Silent Storm coming to the party in the same way. But I also don’t really care, since I never (any more) risk much either way on the performance of entries in which the commentariat can see something that I can’t. A clutch of ballads among the final songs to be released, most of which I imagine will survive the race to the bottom that is both 2014 semis, also spells bad news for this entry, no?

    On that subject, there’s very little good-natured frivolity that isn’t a car crash on offer this year. Denmark therefore stands out a mile to me – add me to the list of those who think it’s a serious contender, for all the reasons given already by others. Italy is the other main entry I think might be underrated at the moment, and Ukraine’s staging record makes me reluctantly add them to that list, given the much improved new version (though I think it’s a poor song, all told). Azerbaijan hasn’t impressed me on any metric other than being from Azerbaijan, and I think will do its Azerbaijan thing, with a strong placement but no win.

    Sweden seems to me impossibly dated. I find it hard to imagine voters doing anything other than watching it, thinking fondly of Eurovisions past, and forgetting it. And that’s in West Europe. ‘Undo my sad’ grates massively as a central lyric if your English is good, but even without this I think it’s a fairly insipid entry that takes too long to get going. Sentimental favouritism attached to Sanna’s MF qualification backstory also equals fanwank to me, at least at this stage.

    The class of the field for me is, unsurprisingly, Hungary, UK and Armenia. I’ve only sat up for those three. Completely agree that for Armenia it all depends on the staging: if they get it right, I think favouritism is justifiable. But there’s no standout for me among these three, and they’re not even the only three possible winners.

    Daniel – any more contender profiles to come?

    After spending a while thinking this contest should be a much easier read than last year, I’m now not so sure. I think even going hard in the top 5 market is shaping up as high risk. And the amount of junk going through to the final makes NQ and Q bets at value pretty dicey as well. Good luck guys!

    Worst entry of 2014: Latvia. Georgia made me waver, but no: still Latvia.

    • Daniel

      Hi Sonovox, great to hear your thoughts, which seem pretty sound to me. There will be some more contender profiles – Denmark will be next. There’s something from eurovicious in storage too.

    • eurovicious

      Really resonating with this comment, apart from the Latvia bit 😉 it’s not even my guilty pleasure, I love it. And it’s more sophisticated than it seems, you know, there’s an augmented chord in the chorus… of course the lyrics are in Jöran’s German English which lets it down slightly. But still, it’s nowhere near as hilariously awful as his 2008 NF entry “More Than 27”, fondly remembered here at Eurovicious Towers (= bedsit): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUaGw_p9jxY

      • Chris Bellis

        The bit about Ukraine would have to be updated in the light of recent events. Absolutely brilliant link. I can still hardly believe that anyone wrote it, let alone actually performed it. Makes me want to go back on drugs.

  • Gert

    Uffff, just saw Austria. That’s a dangerous one. Usually transvestites go to Eurovision and make a joke of it (Slovenia 2002, Denmark 2007). But Conchita Wurst truly is a great performer. I hear some David McAlmont, some James Bond and some RuPaul. Wunderful power-anthem full of positivity. In a twist I think this could do even slightly better among juries, compared to televoters. Final.

    • Chris Bellis

      Interesting – I had dismissed it as a well performed but unoriginal song. You may well be right that it’s a left field entry, but I think it’s a long way from Dana International. I preferred this Austrian entry from a couple of years ago:

  • Chris Bellis

    Latvia and Georgia have crap songs, but there’s plenty of competition from blander entries like that of San Marino. I rather like Poland’s entry, but I know it has no chance. Sweden’s is dated, but the fact that Sweden’s public vote gave that as a winner over a much better song should tell you that its being dated might not mean much when it comes to the final vote. Classy original stuff usually stays around 5-9 position, and I’ve won good money on going for that. Italy has been a good bet for 5-9 with its good quality well sung material. Really original material doesn’t do that well, if I remember correctly.EG Montenegro last year. Only my opinion, no offence intended.

    • eurovicious

      Poland may have more of a chance than I initially thought given the rest of the field. Less so if the performance is boob-heavy though, as I heard it might be. Get yer tits out for the mężczyźni. Your classic/original = 5-9 is a pretty good theory based on the past couple of years. Agree with you on the latter point too, some of the stuff I like best in ESC is too left-field to meet broad appeal. #probka

  • eurovicious

    Underestimate Conchita at your peril: she chose that song from 95 that were submitted to her, and whoever wrote it obviously watched Tom’s Bond theme and Shirley Bassey performances from Starmania in 2006-7, which I actually watched on TV at the time. Here’s Tom (as he was before developing the Conchita character) performing Goldfinger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao7v0uOk4-Y and here he is performing This Is My Life http://www.veoh.com/watch/v400808b8wdTy7W?h1=THIS+IS+MY+LIFE-TOM+NEUWIRTH+STARMANIA It’s the sort of song he’s made for, that he has most experience in and that he loves doing. He finished 2nd behind Nadine Beiler in that contest, despite being comfortably and self-evidently gay, and giving flamboyant performances, in a very conservative country.

    • Chris Bellis

      Excellent links as always, but depressing to read the homophobic comments under the videos. I hate youtube for that. It seems to suck in the trolls. I did say in my post that the song was well performed, but I didn’t like the song as it was too derivative. I can see it doing well on the basis of a high quality performance, and when has being derivative affected the chances of a Eurovision song?

  • Do you ever get that “OMG this actually is awful isn’t it?” feeling when playing an ESC song to someone else?

    “What do you think of this?” you say to your non-Eurofan friend, and then within seconds of putting it on you realise that the song you thought was great, in the company of others, is actually dreadful and embarrassing.

    I’ve now had that moment with the live version “Silent Storm”. Surely he has no chance performing as badly as he did in the NF? Seeing a tough looking guy whining like a big girl’s blouse actually looks like something out of a sketch show or something.

    • Chris Bellis

      I must say, that was my initial reaction too. It kind of grows on you, but it’s a big come down from last year’s entry for me.

  • john kef

    Personally, I can’t find a song that could really endanger Armenia’s chances of winning.

    First of all we have a number of out-dated ballads (Sweden-Azerbaijan-Belgium) that can’t expect something more than a 4th-5th place, Belgium maximum top10.

    Norway is an interesting case but Carl Espen is shaky and he will end up somewhere between 2nd (best case scenario with a huge margin from Armenia) and 6th.

    Then we have Russia-Ukraine. Here come the politics.I believe Ukraine is very close to a 3-5 place ranking. The friendly neighbours (Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia-Poland and other ex-USSR) will definitely show their support and the West countries will also give some sympathy votes.Russia is doomed this year. First we had the anti-gay laws (which is something important for the euro-fans) then an invasion to another country…I can’t see them finishing in top10.

    Here come the dark horses: Denmark-Italy-Israel-Poland-UK-Austria-Netherlands-Hungary. I have a feeling that 2 of these songs will squeeze in the Top 5 and 5-6 of them in the Top10. Hungary and UK are my 2 pics for a Top 5 and Denmark-Israel-Netherlands-Italy for a Top10. I have a feeling that Netherlands is heavily under-valued. Last year they came 9th with another classy ballad and this year i think they have the best quality song. Ca somebody explain to me why a Netherlands Top 10 finish pays 10.00 and a Top 4 finish pays only 5.27?

    • What would your ranking be so far? I have now slightly updated my TOP 15, now Austria and Russia are known. One remark about Russia. Do not forget the demographics here. Despite Ukraine, Latvia and Georgia most likely cancelling out Russia’s chances in the jury vote a bit, the Russian minority in those countries are very big and could perhaps vote even stronger for Russia.

      Here is my updated prediction in TOP 15 ranking:

      01 – Denmark
      02 – Belgium
      03 – Ukraine
      04 – Armenia
      05 – Estonia
      06 – Norway
      07 – France
      08 – Hungary
      09 – Russia
      10 – Netherlands
      ———————–
      11 – Malta
      12 – Austria
      13 – Azerbaijan
      14 – Spain
      15 – Moldova
      ———————–
      I put UK and Germany out of my TOP 15 right now, based on the rather lacklustre performances. But that’s where rehearsals can help. And I think Germany has a very good studio version of their entry…..

    • chewy wesker

      Hi John, the Netherlands are indeed a bigger price in the top ten market and shorter in the top four market this is simply because of low liquidity in both markets, however the Netherlands are in the harder first semi-final and are unlikely to qualify.

      • I think it easier in small semi finals (15 or 16 participating countries) to cancel out qualification chances. It is especially easier to predict the 6 countries that will not qualify…in semi final 1. I think they will be:

        Bottom 6:
        –> Albania
        –> Iceland
        –> Latvia
        –> Montenegro
        –> Portugal
        –> San Marino

        Top 5:
        –> Belgium
        –> Armenia
        –> Ukraine
        –> Estonia
        –> Hungary

        Then the other qualifiers:
        –> Azerbaijan
        –> Sweden
        –> Netherlands
        –> Russia
        –> Moldova

        • chewy wesker

          Hi Gert, yeah semi-final 1 with the additional song just makes it a little more of fight for those songs wanting to reach the final and the fact that you have the Armenia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Sweden and the Ukraine, just makes me think the Netherlands won’t make the final. If Netherlands were in the second semi-final they may have had a better chance.

          • I think Netherlands will qualify because the Bottom 6 seems not that difficult to predict in this stage. Perhaps….Portugal will advance and Moldova not. And Montenegro will advance and Netherlands not. What do you think then?

            Maybe semi final 2 is the slightly weaker one. But among the field…..I still find it more difficult to predict that outcome. Sometimes the semi final that has the better quality still seems easier to predict,

  • I need to rephrase that a bit. Netherlands will not qualify “because the Bottom 6 is clear”. It’s not that black and white. Now, here some more serious arguments why I think Netherlands will qualify:

    –> It’s a unique breath of fresh air, ven among the slow-tempo entries and ballads. The uniqueness comes from the fact that it’s the only calm, close-harmony duet in the contest.
    –> Yes, the song doesn’t have a true climax or bridge, but I think within a pure, simple performance, this lack thereof could actually be the strength of this Dutch entry.
    –> Despite the lack of a climax, which will suit the total package, the ongoing percussion and rhytmn makes it very pleasant to listen at. A bit like Hungary last year.
    –> Ilse & Waylon are terrific performers. Their emotions during the performance are genuine. Do not forget that Ilse has a huge Nashville background and that Waylon is the only Dutch artists with a record label from Mojo Records (renowned for their soul music).
    –> A song like this, usually makes the actual staging stand out: Dark lighting, one or two spotlights, lots of close-ups (Belgium 2010). With these entries it’s easier to get the staging right.
    –> Overall, the Dutch entry will look very warm, gentle…..and will create some goosebumps. Perhaps because of the simple backing track, with heartfelt bluegrass guitar music.
    –> Netherlands needs to perform in the 2nd half of the field, most likely a bit away from the Armenian and Azerbaijani entries. Also, the 2nd half has got 4 acts that are more up-tempo or that have a big stage act. The other 4 entries in the 2nd half will have more smaller staging and are more slow-tempo. This makes it easier for DR to make every song in the 2nd half of semi final 1 to stand out.
    –> And lastly, despite being in the larger semi-final, 16 countries performing in this semi-final is still a rather small semi-final. Statistically it will be easier for Netherlands to qualify than last year.

    That’s why I have Netherlands as a qualifier. Perhaps not 6th place like Anouk last year. But I just can’t see it in the Bottom 6 right now….

    • sonovox

      I’m quite fond of the Dutch entry this year myself, although I don’t think a Lady Antebellum album track is too likely to storm the televote.

      Would love to hear the reasoning behind your putting Estonia in the top 5 at this stage. That ain’t one I had my eye on. Is it because they’re quite good at winning when Denmark hosts?

  • eurovicious

    Has anyone heard anything from Nugg?

  • I have Estonia in the TOP 10 of the final as well. Why? Because I have been watching Eesti Laul 2014 in great detail and I have been watching Tanja’s performance a few times again. She is not playbacking, she is actually singing very good. If you have this Loreen-like anthemic dance track (bit of a copycat yes, but…) and a slick Loreen-like act that does not affect her stunning vocals, then I cannot think of a bad result. From all dance tracks/dubstep-influenced entries so far (Romania, Israël, Hungary, Moldova, Ireland, Greece & Estonia), I think Estonia so far has the best all-round total-package…..at this stage.

    Buttt….things can change during the rehearsals off course. I think Israël’s Mei Finegold has a wunderful, smokey low voice that has an impact on me. Let’s see how she will perform

    • eurovicious

      Estonia’s song is anathema to juries. It’s naff – not entirely with merit as a piece of music, but still predominantly naff and far too close to Euphoria/Glorious.

  • I think in semi final 1 it is mainly a fight between the countries that I have in the TOP 10 so far. With that I mean, that it is mainly a fight for the exact ranking of the TOP 10. I can’t see a real fight for 9th or 10th place at this stage. Perhaps some danger for Moldova, that this could be replaced by Portugal. But on the whole…..the TOP 10 of qualifiers look very crisp and clear to me…..at this stage.

  • all of my “emotion buttons”…..but it doesn’t happen. Belgium is perhaps cheesy, but that doesn’t matter at all, because thát entry does indeed hit all of my “emotion buttons”. That’s what I wanted to say with emotions in general. Yes, there are some standards (good song please, not cheesy song) to get a good result. But do not copy-paste them on other entries that easily please. There’s nothing 100% black and white in Eurovision. I have Belgium as a sure TOP 10-er in the final. And there I think TOP 5 is also quite certain. Please come back to me after the 10th of May if I am not right ;-).

    • Boki

      I don’t want to say if you are wrong or right with Belgium but my advice is to go against your past principles and bet ‘een tientje’ for a change, it would certainly enhance your viewing experience 😉

  • Okay, with you, I bet for €10,- that Belgium will be in the TOP 7 ;-). Okay?

  • eurovicious

    Juries won’t reward someone who has the best voice in the contest but whose overall package is massively kitsch – we saw this with Cezar last year. As to the televote, Eurovision isn’t Got Talent and Axel Hirsoux isn’t Paul Potts. A song has to be hit-worthy to win or do well. While “Mother” ably taps into the Mrs Brown demographic, practically no-one under 40 at the very least is going to televote for it, not when there are many other more relevant, credible and contemporary songs on offer by strong younger performers. I suspect a fair amount of people in the target demographic will find it cheesy too. I know this is a weak year but “Mother” (can’t believe I’m even typing this) simply has too much to compete against.

    • There are also several English language ballads with which it will be directly competing – Austria, Spain, Sweden and Azerbaijan – which I imagine will come out on top here.

      Also see how juries didn’t reward the likes of Iceland and Israel last year.

  • I just don’t understand where the “kitsch” from Belgium comes from. Had another, more slim figured singer, like Ott Lepland, performed this entry, then it would be less kitch?

    As you mentioned, it is about the “TOTAL PACKAGE”. I completely agree, But….within this total package, the elements can be of various qualities.

    The Belgian total package then:
    –> voice: A+
    –> visuals (lights, LED’s): A+
    –> performer/charm: A
    –> choreography/dancer: A-
    –> camera-work: A
    –> instrumentation: A
    –> melody/song: B-
    ____________________________________
    –> OVERALL PACKAGE: Still an A
    Why? I think the negatives of the actual plain song/melody are compensated hugely by the goosebump-factor. Axel sells his song perfectly. What also helps is the combination of his looks, his high voice and the lyrics that has “Mother” in it.

    It is also a misunderstanding that an entry has to be a potential hit. Eurovision is nót a radio contest. It’s still a podium/stage for not only the ‘audio’, but also about the ‘visuals’. Yes, being a potential ‘hit’ is an element of the total package. But if the overall total package still is “cheesy” as you mention, then it won’t score. We saw that with Cyprus in 2012. It was, after “Euphoria” perhaps, the biggest hit in Europe.

    I also don’t understand why you compare Cezar with Axel. I think that most people were having a “WTF”-moment with Cezar. They will not have that with a sincere, rather big looking bachelor (I think it’s kind of disturbing that we call someone’s size a potential element of “campness”), whose name is Axel and who’s singing simply about his…..mum.

    • eurovicious

      What isn’t kitschy about it? He’s singing an overblown love ballad to his mother. If Ott Lepland were performing it – hell, if Bruce Springsteen were performing it – it’d still be total kitsch. The kitsch is built into the chord progression and the lyrics, it has nothing to do with his look, from my perspective at least. It is kitsch as a composition – it’s sentimental schlager for the grey market. It’s like a climactic solo number from a spoof Sigmund Freud musical written by Trey Parker, imbued with the cloying sentimentality of European schlager. It’s the opera version of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx0KMhxc5V8.

      “I think it’s kind of disturbing that we call someone’s size a potential element of ‘campness'” <- point to me where I referenced his size. As far as I'm aware, I didn't – you're the one who keeps returning to it.

      TBH, the "overall package" can be read as sizeist by presenting a larger guy as sexless. No slim adult male singer would have been given this – they'd be given a song about a relationships or love interest instead. But because he's overweight, he gets to sing about how much he loves his mother. Implicit message: fat people don't have relationships or sex lives and his primary relationship is with his mother because no-one is attracted to him. And if you support it, you're kinda buying into that message.

      • eurovicious

        Actually, I’ve just found out that (as I suspected) Axel is gay (and married), so this is also another instance of gay men being presented as sexless. Just as X Factor presented Chris Maloney’s primary relationship as being with his grandmother, sweeping his sexuality under the carpet, Mother does the same with Axel.

  • I think “we” are making the links with previous entries too easily sometimes. The fact that it’s slightly a copy-cat of “Euphoria” doesn’t mean that Estonia will now go down like a sinking ship.

    I think “we” sometimes take an aspect too much for granted. There are so many variations to that. Mostly, countries who jump the bandwagon and who inspire their entry on a winner like “Euphoria”, come up indeed with a rather bland, soul-less entry.

    But still, it is possible that a country gets his/her copy-cat-entry right. It doesn’t happen often. But I think in the case of Estonia it looks pretty good!

    Also, televoters and juries alike will not compare too much with previous years. That’s a bit of a misunderstanding. They judge the entry among the field of all other competitors/entries that year.

    Therefore, for me, Estonia stands out in the 1st semi-final so far, based on the other entries that are competing in it. Not because “we had ‘Euphoria’ so now this entry cannot score again”. That’s too black-and-white.

    • eurovicious

      I agree that people don’t necessarily compare that much, but Amazing looks and sounds cheap and disposable on its own terms. Her vocals are also gonna suffer while she’s being flung around.

  • Well,Remember Georgia 2010….and winner Sweden 2012? It doesn’t necessarily hurt the vocals. If it’s being rehearsed properly, it can actually work..

  • Well, let’s agree to disagree then ;-). Let’s see who will be right in May.

  • Justin

    Hi Daniel. Is there any news on when the running orders for the semis will be revealed?

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, I’ve heard the semi draws are being revealed this Monday March 24, though don’t have a time nor official confirmation. Be ready! 😉

  • mark dowd

    I think this year is pretty open…..Armenia’s odds are similar to Denmark this time last year, but Emile was universally popular and Aram MP3 has too many detractors to be such a hot fave….I think Hungary and UK for top 5 are the best looking bets so far going off blogs, Youtube and ESCUNITED ratings…

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