Eurovision 2014: Eurovicious on the contenders

[Daniel writes: we like to get a wide range of opinions on Sofabet, which is why the comments section is an integral part of the site, and one of the reasons I enjoy being part of the podcasts produced by the Esctips guys – latest one on the first half of semi one can be found here.

Having reviewed some of the bookmakers’ leading fancies myself – Armenia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, UK and Romania – it’s time to turn to the forthright opinions of regular commenter Eurovicious for a different take on the so-called contenders.]

So, an even more underwhelming national final season than last year’s has come and gone, leaving a snail trail of terrible choices in its wake. We’re looking at one of the weakest Eurovision years on record – quality is in freefall, countries are leaving year on year, the venue is being downsized year on year, tales of corruption swirl and the whole event is running out of steam.

This time last year, I wrote a piece on why I thought the 2013 Eurovision market was wrong in the same way 2011’s market was. Ultimately it proved incorrect. However, at the risk of making the same mistake again, I want to offer my thoughts on what many of the market leaders have going against them, and why I think others in the current top 10 favourites (as listed on Oddschecker) are undervalued. Here we go…

Armenia: the day a sonically and compositionally challenging song with a linear structure, no hook and no chorus performed by a 30-year-old Caucasian comedian whose stage name includes the word “MP3” wins Eurovision is the day I, I dunno, convert to Mormonism.

It’s both too sophisticated and too boring to win, and I also don’t think Armenia has quite the built-in televote support some think it does. This will get jury, but it’s anything but a televote magnet. It’s obtuse – too low-key (there’s good low-key but I think this is bad low-key), too repetitive (harmonically, structurally and lyrically), underwritten, and doesn’t build anywhere near as much as it thinks it does.

It’s one of those less-is-more songs you either get or you don’t, like ‘Taken By A Stranger’ (which I get) or ‘I Feed You My Love’ (which I don’t). The climax is, in my opinion, totally underwhelming after the long slow build – it’s a shaggy dog story of a song. More than anything, it’s totally wrong for Eurovision.

Like ‘Silent Storm’ only more so, it’s a song of buttoned-down emotion, whereas what always does well in Eurovision is open emotion (whether Fairytale, Only Teardrops or Euphoria, Molitva, Suus or Kuula). Eurovision is not BBC Radio 6 or whatever your local worthy “indie” station for people who like “credible” music is – it’s more a cross between Radio 2 and Capital, and its audience’s tastes reflect this.

Look at the winners since 2008 and ‘Not Alone’ could hardly differ more from them – the performer isn’t a cute young non-threatening boy (Rybak, Ell, Bilan) or cute young manic pixie dream girl (Lena, Emmelie, ethereal Loreen) singing a pop song with conventional structure (which even Lordi had), but an average-looking older man with a highly unconventional, quite threatening-sounding song that lacks the structure we expect of 99% of the songs we consume via radio/TV/internet and that we’ve all internalised.

This could be taken as a positive, but I just don’t think audiences will go for something this confounding. It fails the recap test (whichever segment of the song you take, it doesn’t stand out enough in the recap compared to catchier and more emotive competitors), fails the one-minute test (there is no memorable motif or chorus in the first minute), and fails the “oh, that’s nice” test (it isn’t safe and unchallenging enough to win). Nothing with dubstep in has won Eurovision and I don’t think it’s going to this year.

Norway: I rate Silent Storm’s chances better than Armenia’s, but still: no, albeit a more cautious no. A grumpy 31-year-old bloke singing another buttoned-down ballad that doesn’t really grow or develop – this isn’t what wins the day.

Structurally it’s more conventional and accessible than Armenia, and sonically more friendly and safe. I’m with it for the first minute, but then my interest fades – it’s emotive, for sure, but not enough, and also not immediate enough.

This will get a “real music” vote due to his look and performance style – people love the lack of artifice and the whole “I’m a man but I’m SENSITIVE” thing, especially when it’s a gruff tattooed fella baring his soul (if, unfortunately for the eurobears, nothing else). But I think it’s too sophisticated/credible, too downbeat and too Antony & The Johnsons to win.

However, I think it has one big thing in its favour: in this recap, it stands out possibly more than any other song, at least to me. While I don’t respond to ‘Silent Storm’ when I listen to it in full, I found that when watching this recap of the 2014 entries, I spontaneously came out in goosebumps when Norway came on – the haunting voice and chorus sear through the bland field.

The recaps are important, and with crap pop to the left of it and bad ballads to the right, ‘Silent Storm’ stands out as raw, real and so alive. That’s not to be underestimated. And remember when Gary Jules and Michael Andrews’s emotive, stripped-back version of ‘Mad World‘ was the surprise Christmas number-one in the UK in 2003? This has something of the same quality. Fails the non-threatening boy test, passes the non-threatening bear test, but the bear vote is negligible.

Sweden: a 29-year-old styled as a 45-year-old, who barely scraped victory domestically in a weak national final, singing an incredibly facile and repetitive ballad that’s about as contemporary as shoulder pads and that doesn’t even have a middle-eight. It’s pretty much the chorus over and over again – it’s the ‘La La La‘ for our times, but without the fun. Even a lot of her fans don’t like it.

I originally thought it’d do comparatively well, due to the weak competition and the way the warbly chorus relentlessly hammers itself into your head in typical Kempe style – more ditty or meme than true composition – but that was before other countries like Norway, Azerbaijan and Austria came out with stronger ballads.

This ain’t a winner, it’s really uncool: a DFS advert of a song. And that chorus can get pretty irritating, not least due to how often it’s repeated; the way Sanna sings the word “Undo” reminds me of the grating way Grazia sang the word “hide” in the chorus of Germany’s misfiring 2005 entry. Totally fails the manic pixie dream girl test; she’s more like Claudia Jung or that divorcee friend of your mum’s who sings at people’s weddings in the greater Lichfield area.

Hungary: Given the blandness of the rest of the field, I think this song’s theme, tone and energy, far from being a potential concern, help it stand out all the more. Which it does by a country mile. It’s one of the very few entries this year that really grabs you and makes your ears prick up. The song is fresh and invigorating in every way, the theme serious without being clunky or sentimental, the staging (as we last saw it in the Hungarian final) just right.

While drum-and-bass is less well-known outside the UK, the song is accessible, contemporary and oscillates highly effectively between the stripped-back, haunting verse and the pumping chorus, so I don’t think viewers who’ve never encountered drum-and-bass before (the majority) will find it offputting. (It’s less offputting than dubstep and that’s all over the shop.)

The song’s musical narrative comes through so much more strongly than that of Armenia and Norway, neither of which offer Running’s contrasts (spartan verse and dynamic chorus, just like the UK) or its stakes. Eurovision is a Saturday evening family entertainment show that for decades has been synonymous with unchallenging muzak and camp gimmicks, and this year is no exception, so an excitingly modern song about a serious subject stands out like a creme brulee in Farmfoods. No song this year is more relevant.

Possible downside: it doesn’t pass the “oh, that was nice” test and doesn’t necessarily pass the non-threatening boy test. But the personality that comes through is “strong, sensitive boy who’d help you out in a crisis”, which is itself a positive.

Azerbaijan: yeah, this totally deserves its place high up in the market. Dilara’s a superb vocalist with a soulful, powerful voice not dissimilar to Adele, Duffy or Amy Winehouse. The song is a classy, intricate affair – while I may not agree with Stefan Örn selling his services to Azerbaijan, there’s no doubting he’s an excellent songwriter. Compare this to ‘Undo’ and there’s no contest – ‘Start A Fire’ really shows up the weakness of Kempe’s writing. The best English ballad and the best (biological) female ballad.

One big downside: not quite accessible enough. It doesn’t have the immediacy of ‘When The Music Dies’ and the structure is considerably more ornate. Azerbaijan has selected a singer and song that really justify a high jury vote across the board, even sans brown envelopes; I expect to see this high up, but it’s not a winner. Probably doesn’t pass the manic pixie dream girl test, will depend on staging.

Denmark: getting a lot of ljubav in Daniel’s article and the comments on it (if not on Twitter, where someone called it “less Bruno Mars, more Bruno Uranus”), which means it’s time for me to gleefully chuck a bucket of skepticism over the love-in, y’all.

This is nails down a blackboard for me. It has me until about 50 seconds in, then the chorus comes… and we discover we already heard it right at the start, which is a disappointment. The chorus just isn’t good enough, and that’s the song’s biggest problem – I don’t know about you, but I hear it and think “That’s the chorus? Surely it should be the pre-chorus or a bridge, not the actual chorus?”

From then on, the song offers nothing new for the remaining 2 minutes apart from a competent yet pretty standard middle-eight. There’s no emotion here, no built-in drama, no narrative taking you from the beginning of the song to the end – just a happy guy and a bunch of happy dancers singing a happy song that doesn’t grow, change or develop and that has no hint of depth and no sense of finding love or overcoming adversity, unlike all winners since 2007 apart from perhaps Satellite.

There’s no meat to it whatsoever – it’s too weak, too Glee, too X Factor, too “lobotomised Jackson 5” to challenge for victory. And I completely agree with commenter Ben Gray who points out this is a specific type of American pop that viewers in the UK and quite a lot of other Western European countries won’t bat an eyelid at but certainly won’t be popular everywhere.

The chorus is also quite irritating in an inane sort of way. With a late draw of 23, it should do pretty well – it’s catchy (like shingles), well-performed, mainstream, fun, telegenic… but I think it’s just too lightweight and generic, too much of a Bruno Mars album track, to come close to winning. It washed over me in DMGP and it washes over me now. I also can’t see it getting enough jury to remotely challenge, though juries are unlikely to punish it either. Passes the non-threatening boy test.

Belgium: another ballad by an older guy, this time a melodramatic popera affair about – believe it or not – how much he loves his mother. At least that’s the intended message: it actually sounds more like he’s in love with his mother. I can’t listen to it without thinking of Buster from Arrested Development and the Motherboy contest.

Axel’s voice is superb and this should get jury, but Belgium doesn’t do well at the best of times, and while Mother might pull in the old-lady vote, it’s also gonna turn a lot of people off. It could have been an entry 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and it’s the opposite of what wins Eurovision. Sognu had more chance.

Eurovision isn’t Europe’s Got Talent, Axel Hirsoux isn’t Paul Potts and ‘Mother’ isn’t ‘Nessun Dorma’ – it’s total kitsch for the grey market, like a climactic solo number from a spoof Sigmund Freud musical written by Trey Parker, imbued with the cloying sentimentality of European schlager.

He has the Mrs Brown demographic in the bag, but how many people under 40 (at the very least) are going to vote for this mortifying, syrupy gubbins with so many other more credible, catchy, contemporary songs on offer? ‘Silent Storm’ slays it in the same category and demographic.

If Axel qualifies but gets an early draw and ‘Silent Storm’ a late draw, I’d expect Mother to do a “jury drop” too, just as Eveline Sasenko (great voice, cheesy and dated song) saw her jury vote collapse when Maja Keuc (great voice, credible song) had a much later draw than her in the 2011 final. Fails the “non-threatening boy” test, duh.

UK: it’s ‘Love Shine A Light’ via Florence And The Machine – anthemic, modern, perfectly judged for the contest and for the type of British music that’s popular in continental Europe. This is exactly the sort of thing the UK should be sending to Eurovision and, as such, I expect it to score well across the board with both juries and televoters.

Molly’s voice is excellent, and she’s cool and credible without being either too twee or too rock-chick – she’s type of performer who appeals equally to men and women. While the verse may seem underwritten, this maximises the contrast between it and the juggernaut chorus (a structural technique also used in Bad Romance).

The middle-eight is excellent and lifts the whole thing to another level; it’s where singer and song shine most. The lyrics are empowering and mean whatever you want them to, and both the chorus and “power to the people” are strong hooks.

Having only listened to the song twice – once during the live reveal, once later the same evening – three days later, I could still remember both of those hooks exactly. I also found the powerful middle-eight knocking around in my head several days later, and ended up absent-mindedly thinking “Is that from some Florence And The Machine song or is it really from the British Eurovision song?” Surprise surprise, it was the latter.

In short, this is radio- and viewer-friendly, very mainstream but with substance, ticks almost every box, and I think it’s a magnet for the “oh, this is nice” vote. Passes the manic pixie dream girl test – she’s a rockier, more credible, more adult Emmelie, one you’d probably enjoy hanging out with more and who’d be less averse to footwear.

Romania: two over-35s singing EDM. Need I continue? Given the duo’s popularity in the fandom, it’s worth emphasising that to the overwhelming majority of viewers on the night, Paula and Ovi will just be some bloke and bird; outside of Romania, Norway and the fan community, they most certainly won’t be known or remembered from 2010.

So from the viewer’s perspective, while the two work well together, they’re just as put-together a duo as Greta and Jonsi, Sophie and Nodi, Nico and Vlad. The big problem with ‘Miracle’ is that, as a sub-David Guetta/Avicii song with a tokenistic stab at a piano, it eschews Paula and Ovi’s entire USP – it has no identity, doesn’t play to their strengths and could be by absolutely anyone.

As factory-produced Scandinavian dial-a-songs go, it has some merits – it’s fun, the chorus is good, Paula rocks the middle-eight – but ‘Miracle’ totally lacks the flirtatiousness and humour of its predecessor, which is a really important point when you consider Eurovision as a personality contest and as a competition between a series of three-minute audiovisual memes, which is really what we mean when we talk about the “overall package”.

I don’t need to tell you whether this passes the non-threatening boy/manic pixie dream girl test; it’s more like something two of your high school teachers who think they’re still quite cool (by virtue of being younger than most of the rest of the staff) would perform at a gala event to raise money for a new playing field. “Mr Jacobs and Miss Selling are going to sing a song together!”

Ukraine: first impressions matter most and this song got an overwhelmingly negative reaction when it won the Ukrainian final in December. But so did ‘Gravity’ the year before.

In composition and sound, the original version of ‘Tick Tock’ was exactly the sort of disposable europop, thrown together as an entry but never intended as a real contender, that was a staple of a lot of national finals in the mid- to late-2000s. Now, the song has been reinvented as a slice of modern pop – gone are the naff lyrics and europop production in favour of a contemporary package.

Mariya Yaremchuk is an able singer, and I think Ukraine will get a perhaps not inconsiderable sympathy vote from a lot of Europe, including juries. Add to which the package we see on the night is likely to be very professional, as ever with Ukraine. But still: the song is weak. I don’t rule out top 10 at all, I almost expect it. Depending on staging/styling, probably fails the manic pixie dream girl test (which Zlata, with her perfect yet innocent beauty, mystical forest and ethereal song, kinda passed).

So there you have it. Let us know your reaction to these opinions below.

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71 comments to Eurovision 2014: Eurovicious on the contenders

  • Dash Berlin

    Is Austria not a contender?

    • eurovicious

      Well, I gave it 12 in my OGAE vote, and having been a fan of Tom/Conchita since 2006, I’d happily have it win, then we could have Vienna 2015 and I could fill myself with Topfenstrudel and take people on fun day-trips to Bratislava. But I based this article on the top 10 on Oddschecker at the time of writing (which – as I speak – is the same 10, just in a slightly different order), and this doesn’t include Austria, which is at much higher odds with most bookies. In Austria’s case, I’m more concerned about jury attitudes than those of viewers. Televoters have repeatedly shown themselves to be LGBT-friendly (look at the top 2 in 2007, Dana International, or Cezar winning the SF2 televote), but I suspect juries conflate credibility with heteronormativity to a certain extent.

      • Dash Berlin

        Oh sorry, didn’t realise it was the top 10 oddswise. Behind your points on Austria, I have it being in the top outright down the road. Good work as always on the writeup 🙂

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    ‘…stands out like a creme brulee in Farmfoods.’

    Hahahahahaha!

    I’ll stop giggling and continue reading now…

  • Great read, eurovicious 🙂

    And I understand that it’s hard to pick contenders in such a weak field as this year’s, but surely there must be more of them than only UK (and to a lesser degree Hungary)? Otherwise there seem to be a lot of money to be earned on the outright here…

    • eurovicious

      As I speak, Sweden is second-favourite – you’ve heard what I think of it, you’ve heard what the lads on the podcast think of it (if not, follow Daniel’s link at the start)… when that’s second and when Sweden, Norway and Denmark are 2nd, 3rd and 4th based in part on the usual Scandinavian bias among the fan community), you can decide for yourself what you think of the market…

      One thing Hungary does have over the UK is it’s more impactful and striking. Children Of The Universe is no Soluna Samay, for sure, but Running stands out more for all the right reasons.

  • Rob4

    great stuff EV. Does this mean the Russian grannies passed the manic pixie dreamgirl test?

    Do you have any views on any of the the rank outsiders?

    • eurovicious

      Hi Rob, thanks. They kinda do – they’re reduced to harmless cute baking grannies, when actually they’re elderly women who’ve lived difficult lives, experienced poverty and loss (of husbands and in one case a limb), lived through Stalinism and the Soviet Union etc. Here’s what I tweeted at the time: https://twitter.com/eurovicious/status/206114003234201601

      Re: outsiders, I think the winner is in that top 10 and I think it’s Hungary, UK or Norway. Historians, correct me if I’m wrong but this is also the first Eurovision to feature a country invaded and partly annexed by another competing country in the period immediately preceding the contest, so it’s not unfeasible that Ukraine might get a huge sympathy vote. Austria is an unknown; the song is very good, like Skyfall with empowerment-oriented lyrics (there’s that “overcoming darkness” theme), and she can certainly deliver it live. Viewing entries as memes or in terms of their meme potential, I might have expected Cake To Bake to get an Alf Poier-level result if we were still in the 100% televote era, but I don’t think juries will warm to it.

      Upbeat songs have the potential to stand out in a contest full of middle-of-the-road entries, which brings us to Estonia. But on the other hand, look at how bland and middle-of-the-road last year’s top 10 was.

  • Shai

    Is there any entry that is not in top 10 on any betting site, that you consider as a dangerous outsider?A one that can upset the betting?

  • Boki

    Nice write and while I agree or disagree with many things there is one thing I still don’t get at all – UK love. I understand that this is a quality entry comparing to recent UK ESC stuff but I still can’t see her winning this year or even close to winning. If you were the only one saying that she’s a contender I would remind you of 2 G’s 🙂 but you are not. Still, I think all of you guys are just too patriotic and intend to keep her fully red in my book, so if I’m wrong I’ll pay for it.

    • eurovicious

      I’m surprised at the comparative lack of love for it. We’ll see how it does in the OGAE polls. It’s popular, but people certainly aren’t taking to it to the degree they took to Only Teardrops. A mainstream audience on the night, however… we’ll see. I don’t know.

      • Boki

        Lack of love? She’s second on the BigPoll so it will do great or end up as a fanwank (Bonnie was 5th last year btw).

        • eurovicious

          Thanks Boki, hadn’t seen that. What I mean is, it’s hard to find people whose favourite it is or who are really enthusiastic about it. I’m actually pleasantly surprised to see it so high in that poll. And as always in fansite/OGAE polls, I think we can assume Sweden’s placing has an awful lot to do with fanwank – so I’m really heartened to see the UK and Hungary in 2nd and 3rd. (http://www.eurovisioon.ee/bigpoll2014.php)

          Re: Armenia, I’ve never known a bookies’ favourite (never mind at these odds) that so many fans don’t like or don’t get. I know fan reception of Teardrops wasn’t overwhelming, but there were a lot of people who liked it and who still do. With Not Alone, I’m not even seeing that level of resonance. Of the two, a lot more people seem to like Norway.

          • I think it’s also about knowing the artist in great detail. Molly has a wunderful song. Though I think it’s not as memorable, timeless or anthemic as that juwel from 1997, “Love Shine A Light”. Still, it has some potential.

            But then Molly. I tried to search for a proper live performance of the UK entry “Children Of The Universe”. The last known one is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wFUPCkmlOo .

            And I sincerely hope she uses the upcoming 5 weeks to rehearse her vocals properly. I am…not that fond of her voice. It’s a bit “screechy” in the high notes. And in my opinion she lacks a bit of “warmth” and “charm”. A song like this needs to have a bit of warmth though.

            So I am very very curious what kind of staging the BBC has in mind in Copenhagen. But at this stage, I don’t have it in my TOP 10 yet. I hope that I get a bit of a “Denmark 2011-feel” with the UK, but it’s not there yet.

            You know, last year with Anouk I was pretty damn certain that, with her stage experience and her creative control over everything, she would do well in Malmö. I correctly predicted a Bottom 5 position in the TOP 10 :-). Perfect for me. Perhaps I kinda hoped that Goldfrapp would do something for the UK in a similar way ;-).

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi Gert,

            I backed Molly EW at 22s today as I figure that’s the top price I’ll see offered for the UK entry ‘tween now and May 10th.

            Yet I too am not that fond of her Young Bonnie Tyler, mumble-then-croak voice (though since Lena’s win I don’t let that bother me), and more seriously, as you say, she lacks charm, and charismatic engagement with the camera. She’s a bit snooty-looking – and not even that attractive for a 26 year old woman. Though I checked one video of hers where it became apparent she has -forgive me- a nice set of jugs, so perhaps she can lose the sweater before Copenhagen.

            I’m hoping she learns to smile between now and then – because with a fun, passionate performance that the song is crying for, I can see it doing very well. Nina Zilli gradually joined humanity through the rehearsal process a couple of ESCs ago.

            Molly double-barrelled surname -please take note.

  • KylieW

    Nice informative article there. I had to laugh at “non-threatening bear” bit xD

    I agree that looking for “universal appeal” with potential winners is important. You have to appeal to the average Siberian housewife with little grasp of English, as well as stuffy music professionals.

    One thing to add about Armenia: I don’t think it passes the “will old farts like this?” test. My middle-aged mum would certainly dislike it for the dubstep alone. Young people will likely vote for it, I don’t know what the age demographic is with televoters though…

    • eurovicious

      Thanks Kylie! You know, I almost had something in there about the “mum test” or the “Georgian housewife” test but I figured it’s the same as the “oh, that’s nice” test… which Armenia fails. I can’t see my folks liking it. For a lot of people, it’s a racket. Mind you, so was Lordi, but that a) got a huge novelty vote and b) there was no jury that year – I doubt very much it would have won if there had been.

      Someone told me on Twitter earlier that they saw an infographic in a Facebook group showing that 40% of people betting on the Armenian song are Armenians. I’m calling false favourite. If people want lay it on Betfair at their own risk, now is the time to do it.

  • Durhamborn

    Its great to read this eurovicious as iv always taken your views and thoughts very seriously in the past .You seem to have a knack of spotting things “outside the box” that people miss.
    I have to admit this year is hugely difficult to figure out.There is no big block standout song and with the juries being all over the place the last 2 years that makes things a big challenge.

    I always use a pretty simple system for picking the most likely winner.Who is the standout western song and who is the standout Eastern block/Balkan song and the block vote splits.Iv about come down now to thinking the UK and Ukraine have this between them.
    The one worry i have with Ukraine is would the EBU want Kiev next year?.
    If Maria draws first half and the producers put her early shed be stuffed.However with a late draw shes a serious contender.Im expecting a wonderful stage show and with so many songs lacking much staging potential this year that could really matter.She will suffer people turning their noses up and calling it cheap,those same people who miss the winner every year.This year i accept though they might be right.

    The UK entry i wobbled a bit at first, but now have come to see that its a quite superb ESC song.Its got it all and more.Im sure the EBU would love London for the 60th year.You can imagine the BBC know they have a fresh start here and will invest to get the staging right.I expect the UK to top 3 the jury vote and that might be enough to win.

    Most years id be upset if i called things badly wrong.This year however its so difficult we can only do our best to secure value and accept we could be way out on entries.

    My two outsider bets for top 10 are Estonia and Slovenia.
    Estonia because it has the potential to look and sound fantastic with the superb lighting and sound facilities of an ESC stage.
    Slovenia because i think Tinkara is a very genuine artist with a song that might gain some traction.The juries should help her out as well.Long shots though.
    Roll on 2015,it might be easier.

    • eurovicious

      <3 thanks. To quote Kara Thrace, "out of the box is where I live", which has its good and bad sides but I wouldn't have it any other way. I get plenty of stuff wrong though, especially under the "complete ranking" system which makes Eurovision prediction more of a lottery than ever.

      A value top 10 bet always makes sense. Estonia is a curious one – Ben Gray told me today he's been showing the recap to non-fans and they kept pointing to Estonia as the one that stands out. Slovenia is more of a long shot – Tinkara is 35, and older women don't tend to do that well unless they're the babushki or have something really amazing like Anouk did. With its flute, the Slovenian song is the Huilumies for our times: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nhuiq2sgE0

      There is effectively no Balkan bloc this year, there's certainly no South Slavic bloc, and the Balkan countries that have stayed are very diverse.

      I agree with you re: the EBU and the benefits of rehabilitating the contest in the UK and the 60th contest being in the UK, though that's not my reason for thinking the UK will do well.

      Re: your bloc-based approach, that reminds me – it's really worth considering how well non-aligned Central European countries that fall between the three blocs (Western-Scandi-Benelux, ex-USSR and Balkan/ex-Yu) are truly able to do. Austria, Hungary and Poland aren't in a bloc (ditto Czech Rep/Slovakia), and Slovenia is a one-way member of the ex-Yu bloc (it gives points but receives very few in return). Can Hungary win on merit despite being short on friends apart from Romania, Serbia and Slovakia (the latter two not present this year)? Finland and Germany won on merit, so in theory it's possible. But it's certainly harder for a non-aligned country to win than it is for a bloc country.

      • I should point out that my non-fan friends weren’t pointing to Estonia and saying that it stands out or would win, merely that they liked it. Spain has come up three times as well, Ukraine twice and Montenegro once.

        • eurovicious

          I think Ukraine works better in recap form than in song form, and Amazing has a better chance to stand out than Glorious did. Amazing isn’t EDM by numbers, it has a tune and heart, and I like how the second verse isn’t just a repeat of the first one but genuinely builds the momentum and is an octave higher. It’s no eurotastic, hook-filled La La Love mind, and that only finished midtable, albeit in a very strong year.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I think I probably completely agree with you, even down to:

    ‘While I don’t respond to ‘Silent Storm’ when I listen to it in full, I found that when watching this recap of the 2014 entries, I spontaneously came out in goosebumps when Norway came on – the haunting voice and chorus sear through the bland field.’

    I recall we both laid into the song and singer on this site, and yet I too finally felt its quality and power on a YouTube recap vid.

    But: as for the stunning Romanian couple, they immediately brought to my mind these amazing guys from 6 years ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=JHVq2dWRWwE

    1:06 to 1:12 kills me every time.A series of delights
    1:18 to 1:24 is similarly lovely
    2:10 to 2:11 – am endlessly fascinated at the ambiguity (is she checking to see if she’s shaved there, or is she eager to sniff for pheromone release?)
    2:14 to 2:19 is just wrong!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Well, If I can revise to saying ‘nearly completely agree with you’. The entertainment and insight value of your article swept me along, in such a very agreeable manner.

      Now, not surfing the wave, I should say I really like (though don’t love) the Armenian song, ‘Not Alone’. You don’t. But I’m unclear as to why you don’t, as I reread your section on it.

      When you describe it as ‘boring’ and ‘too low key’, I genuinely don’t understand.

      And I’m left mystified when you say

      ‘Like ‘Silent Storm’ only more so, it’s [Not Alone] a song of buttoned-down emotion,whereas what always does well in Eurovision is open emotion’.

      From 1:54 to 2:48 on the official video, the buttons, the leather jacket, the stage all come flying off in an explosive sustained release.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChkJpnOgIwQ

      That near minute of furious release in Not Alone is it’s storm. There’s the buttoned-down build before that minute, and the resolution-achieved, emotional comedown after that.

      The video symbolism supports this.

      The heightened claustrophobia of the confrontation scene being in the confined interior of a mini; contrasted with the rolling-panning shots of Aram singing on a stage.

      The static raindrops and condensation on the mini’s windows; to the literal steam flying up around during the furious, stormy minute; to the falling rain of the “happy” resolution of the double car scene, with the two lovers reunited, leaning form their respective cars, building a bridging kiss (with the rain releasing from the clouds above, and thereby blessing the reunion).

      The bank of circular lights behind Aram on the stage; the circularity of the cars’ headlights at the reunion ending.

      The red sleeves of the pianist at the beginning; the red costumed drummers; the red heart outlines / mobiles centrally hanging inside the windscreen of the mini; the red star flashes behind (symbolically from) Aram during the minute of emotional break-out; his (high-powered) red sports car at the end. Red for different types of passion.

      ‘…an average-looking older man with a highly unconventional, quite threatening-sounding song’.

      Somehow, I had completely missed these facts.

      He is a bit of a frightening-looking bloke when he kicks off, both in the mini and on stage. I was also suspicious of the line ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry, little bird’. Patronising? Misogynistic? Brought lines from Chekov’s Hedda Gabber to mind.

      I like excitement to generate from thrills not fear, so I don’t suppose I’ll be feeling the love for this guy on the big night. But as the song is a controlled explosion, I wonder how much wiggle room for interpretation he has, as the performer? He definitely can’t allow any females to be part of the stage show! He can’t even (pseudo heroically) aim his rage at another (bully of a) male, as the lyrics ‘What if it’s all in one kiss’ don’t support this! Lol.

      Anyway, I’ve forgotten what point I was trying to make!
      (Though I’ve just noticed that at 1:55 Aram reminds me of Ben Stiller’s Mr. Furious “superhero” in Mystery Men. Haha!)

      https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTGv4GNb75PnTsBNxS-SOkPVQALtMJwQwwXhtjpklEq6jGZMDkr

      But, hey!, I must ask you what you didn’t like about ‘I Feed You My Love’? And how is it a ‘less-is-more’ song? God I love that song (still listen to it) and Margeret Berger’s performance.

      Like my favourite song!!
      Lol.

      • eurovicious

        Yo Guildo. As I wrote, I’m happy to admit I just don’t “get” Armenia, in much the same way as I didn’t get I Feed You My Ljubav last year – the difference being I was largely alone in the latter position last year, whereas this year I’m struggling to find more than a handful of people in the fan community who are very enthusiastic about Armenia. They’re both songs that come from a rock direction, and while I like stuff like Interpol, The Killers and this http://grupati.bandcamp.com/track/to-su-samo-re-i at one end of the spectrum and fun melodic stuff like Status Quo at the other, it’s fair to say I’m not a rock fan and just don’t relate to or buy a lot of rock.

        I just find both songs pedestrian and underwhelming – I find no drama in either of them, nothing I can relate to, I find them so bland and “white” (culturally). This is an entirely subjective opinion: when you listen to music, you’re not really listening to music, you’re listening to the relationship between yourself and the music, and they’re just not for me – I don’t connect. My favourite musician is Lisa Gerrard/Dead Can Dance, if that helps you see where I’m coming from – I spent my student years listening to stuff like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH8Asmm9a40 which just slays any lightweight Western rock or pop song with pretences of “darkness” or “drama”. My tastes on the whole are pretty non-western and though I do try and keep my toe in the water a little bit with regards to AACM (Anglo-American commercial music), I listen almost entirely to eastern European (primarily Serbian and ex-Yugoslav but also Czech, Polish, Goral etc) and non-Western music. Compared to pre-2000 Lisa Gerrard, Iva Bittova, Aneta Langerova’s live album (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_Txr5XpEXo) or a good Balkan ballad, listening to “Not Alone” or “IFYML” is like listening to someone having a stylised, ineffectual tantrum in a 4×4 – at least to me. The emotion is on entirely too intellectual a level and nowhere near raw enough. My favourite ever national final song is this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O99XpLeHfUE – the anguish and emotion of which is so raw, the musicality so flooring, that it completely knocks Not Alone and IFYMO into a cocked hat. (Also, Not Alone’s lyrics are outright stupid, especially the dream/scream line.)

        Does that help you see where I’m coming from on this?

        • Chris Bellis

          Thanks for reminding me of Aneta Langerova. I saw her do a free concert in Prague a few years ago, but I already loved her most famous one from whatever non MTV channel I was watching then. I bought all her cds while I was in Prague.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBbTjRIIuwQ&list=PLD3C903731319B0A0&index=26

          I particularly like her version of “You’re a creep”. It resonated with me at the time.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEzsbh18PM8

          BTW I don’t get Armenia this year but I did get Norway last year, and won nicely on it too. Whatever you think of it, I believe Sweden will do ok, for the simple reason that the highly musically literate Swedes put it through over several other songs that I personally thought were better. So that’s my brain telling me that others will do the same. I still like the Polish entry but I am frightened to put money on it. I’ll wait to see if it qualifies.The mammary exposure may help or hinder it – hard to tell with a Eurovision audience.

          Thanks for the run-down. Excellent stuff.

          • eurovicious

            Thanks Chris. The channel was probably Ocko. I have her CDs too, her orchestral live album “Par mist” is amazing. The highly musically literate Swedes (they’re not) put through Copacabanana over Anna Järvinen’s exquisite “Porslin” last year, so I wouldn’t place too much faith in their judgement… as the lads said on the podcast, it won because it was Sanna – a newcomer with the same song would not have succeeded. Poland is fab but is not going to be top 10.

          • Rob4

            i wouldn’t discount the polish entry from top 10. it now has a bigger fanbase than the other songs and i don’t think the juries are in a bubble. they will have heard it already and noted it’s success. it’s probably too non-Eurovision to win but i’m not ruling out a high position at this stage.

    • Chris Bellis

      EV – You’ve made me have second thoughts about Sweden now! By “musically literate” I meant in Eurovision terms, but you have demolished my argument with your clever reasoning. I’m always second guessing in this competition because the music I like never wins, so I’m having to work out what has general appeal. Perhaps my Italy 5 – 9 place bet will work out – it’s covered me each year so far.
      The channel was Ocko – you do have a good memory.

      • eurovicious

        Since 2009, the music I like never wins either. 2012 was a good year, probably the best ever, but it seems to have been a blip of quality in the otherwise bland 2009-2014 era. 2004-2008 will forever be my favourite Eurovision era. I get Ocko on cable and it’s also how I discovered Aneta Langerova in 2005, that’s how I know 🙂

  • Peter

    Very much agree with most of your points (especially on Armenia and Sweden), and the expectation that Armenia will score high confuses me the most, I read it a as s symptom of desperation regarding this year’s competition. I would object in two points, though: UK is not as strong as you say, its memorable but also highly predictable. It tries the pop-anthem thing but less effective than Denmark last year. I d say it will do ok, like Blue three years ago, maybe a bit better, but I don’t think top 5. Given that we don’t have a stand out composition (or the stand out composition which I think Norway is, is not mainstream enough), it will come down to the stage performance. Even though a bit blend, Denmark has proven to be very strong live this year. For me this is still the safest bet for winner next to Hungary, but that really depends on their stage show. I also suspect Germany to do better than the odds say at the moment. The song is a bit repetitive and gets boring after a while, however, it does have emotional immediacy and Ela is quite a captivating life performer, surely top 10, for me. I wasn’t immediately convinced by them, but I do think they get stronger. Also they seem to have remastered the song, sound more interesting and complex now (yesterday’s Echo show an German TV).

    • eurovicious

      Thanks Peter – I’m hearing this a lot about the UK and taking it on board. I’m steering more towards Hungary or Norway winning. I’ve yet to find anyone in the fandom whose favourite is the UK or Armenia, whereas quite a lot of people have Hungary or Norway as their favourite. I saw the Elaiza performance last night; Germany is definitely a dark horse for top 10, it’s something memorable and different with an endearingly quirky performer that has the potential to stand out in a similar way to Kedvesem and Rändajad.

  • john kef

    That’s an excellent analysis eurovicious! I would like to add another dimension to your analysis that has to do with the politics. There are two main factors apart from the song quality that might influence the outcome of the contest.

    I am talking about

    a. Politics (not that important factor over the last years with the 50-50 voting and the first to last ranking but still important)

    and

    b. The countries who are eager to host the contest.

    – Let’s talk about politics first. ESC is still a big thing in ex-USSR and voting has a different meaning there than award the best song. The ”semi-democratic” regimes see the Contest as a first-class opportunity for propaganda (see Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine etc.). Add the common history and past and you have a block of countries that no matter what they vote for each other with the exception of local rivalries (see Armenia-Azerbaijan, Russia-Georgia).

    That’s not something new for the contest but we also have the invasion of Russia in Ukraine and things get a little more complicated. The alpha dog of the ex-Ussr voting (call me Russia) is doomed. Some might say that in all of the ex Soviet countries there’s a russian minority that will vote strongly for mother Russia and this might be true. But we’re in the 50-50 voting era and i have the feeling that juries will severely punish Russia with the exception of Belarus, Azerbaijan and maybe Armenia.

    And the problem is where the votes are heading to. Mostly to two countries. The grand favourite of the block Armenia and the country that suffers the invasion- Ukraine. We have to keep that in mind. Armenia might get 6-7 12 points instead of 3or 4 that will give an extra push to their effort. Ukraine is also a strong contender for an easy Top-10 finishing.

    – Now concerning the countries that are eager to host the contest. Every year there’s a small number of countries that really wants to win the contest and is trying to do so (see Greece ’04-’05, Russia ’06-’08, ’12, Ukraine ’04, ’07-’08,’13, Denmark ’11, ’13, Azerbaijan ’09-’13, Sweden ’11-’12 etc.) Usually that country wins at it’s second or third attempt showing at the others that really wants to host the contest and has the means to do so.

    In my personal opinion this years’ contenders are:

    1. Armenia (lots of Top-10 Rankings, quite close in ’08), invested money for their entry and they want a win.
    2. Norway ( 4th last year) sends a strong entry for a second year in the row and every year we have a contender from the Nordic block and this year it’s their turn.
    3. Azerbaijan (inside the Top-5 since 2009) they invest money and are going after it every year.
    4. Denmark ( Top-4 ’11, Winner ’13) they are trying the first back to back victory since 1996-1998 Ireland’s 3 in a row victory.

    And we have some ”pseudo-contenders”:

    a. UK- My personal opinion is that if they send another strong song next year they ‘ll win.
    b. Sweden- Always among the favoutites but i personally doubt they want the contest back that soon and the song is not that strong.
    c. Hungary- The only one from this category that might nail it. Strong entry but we don’t know if they want to host the contest.

    I hope that i didn’t bore you to death.

    • eurovicious

      Hi John, thanks. A concern is that Armenia is known as a close Russian ally, so that will limit deflection of what would have been Russia’s votes to Armenia, I think. You seem to know the ex-USSR well so you might have a more informed opinion on this than I do, I might be wrong. I agree on Norway, Sweden and Hungary. I don’t think Denmark is trying to win. And yeah, if Ukraine had a good song, it’d be a very serious contender under the circumstances.

  • AlexanderS

    Really good review, eurovicious, always pleasant to read your thoughtful opinions! The main thing I disagree about is the formula for the winner’s appeal and the underlying notion “it has never happened before so it can’t really happen” (people would say that too before Lordi’s rock or Sweden’s dance track success). I can guarantee you that next year again there will be some manic pixie girl like Molly now, and half a dozen of non-threatening boys too, but I’m not sure that’s the clear-cut formula for identifying the winner. In short, I’m not sure how many manic piexie girls in a row can Europe take. Similar thing happened in mid-00s and female pop, starting with Latvia 2002 and spanning for 4 full years before people got too tired of that and chose Lordi instead (then Marija).
    A few other things:
    It’s the first time I read here that Armenia isn’t liked by the fans. Surely, they might not be winning the fanpolls everywhere, but they are always very high and I’ve seen quite a lot young fans adoring the song. Same goes for UK, by the way, which is leading both the ESCNation poll and the ESCForum poll with a landslide.
    With Hungary’s case, which I honestly and genuinely cannot see as such a major favourite, I sense a contradiction. In my opinion, it’s only a slightly upbeat representation of the underlying themes in Norway and Armenia. If their problem is gloomy narrative, low-key, lack of camp muzak and clappy sing-along tune, why would speeding up the tempo make it a winner? Even more, Hungary’s stage show suggests heavy emphasis on the drama, which Armenia and Norway will both avoid.
    I agree with Peter that the current odds (Armenia at 1) are rather a desperation than an objectively outstanding and undisputable entry. It all depends on how this “hype” will develop and be accepted by EBU, because at this point I’m more inclined to believe that Denmark would win the televoting, while Armenia or Norway – the juries (now talk about who buys hypes every time!), and the overall winner might be something completely different. This is why I also totally agree with John Kef, and I’ve continuously talked about factoring in the “paratext” in these types of analysis.

  • Dave H

    Great article. Completely agree Armenia is overrated. Greece is by far the most underrated entrant this year, catchy, modern and a welcome relief from some very dull entries.

  • chewy wesker

    great review EV, I think I’ll take Armenia on but “not alone” is a very strong entry. price on Armenia is now odds on, and I really do see it shorting up even more. There really is nothing around it to take it on, Denmark I think will get marked down by juries, Norway have lost the market momentum and will drift even more,Sweden Phiff!! only Hungary holds up. so I’m going to have my green on Hungary this year. The UK I really can’t see Molly winning, when the UK won way back in 1997 there was a buzz about country labour had got back in power brit-pop was leading the way and you could get behind the UK but this year with cotu I think well be lucky to get a top ten (no one loves us) Azerbaijan have a cracker of a song “start a fire” but no win for me there I’m afraid. Ukraine is danger because of the political situation, but unlikely to win under it musical merit. So the stand out is Hungary. Get on and let it pay for Christmas.

    • eurovicious

      The standout is Hungary, you’re right. Let it be Budapest 2015; Dobos torta beckons.

    • I’m convinced “Running” will get Hungary their best result in many years, but as a winner, there are some boxes that it doesn’t tick for me. EV has already summarised them, but one point I just made on Twitter which I think is food for thought – is that all of last year’s top 5 had a climax on their typical pop structure, (even if Ukraine’s was a little harder to pick out) and many recent winners do too, subtle or not.

      Hungary’s song doesn’t have a discernible middle 8 to lead into a big final chorus. It doesn’t have a typical pop structure. You could argue it’s either a 2-verse-2-chorus-flat end song, or a song with 2 verses, one chorus, a middle-eight and a climax that hasn’t actually grown in its arrangement at all from the first chorus. Then there’s the subject matter, it’s genuinely dark, not sad but nice (like Farid Mammadov’s song.) For me it’s probably coming 3rd-7th.

  • Justin

    Excellent review EV.

    The market is putting a remarkable faith in Armenian staging to pull this off. I think it does have potential to be a runaway winner if they get the staging right AND if they pull a second half draw for the final. Thats two quite big IFs which are plenty big enough to make odds-on for the win way too short. Thats not even taking into account all of your boxes that it does not tick.

  • Henry VIII

    I anyone’s thinking of laying Armenia think of this.

    The ESC producers are sure to place it at or near the end of whatever half it’s drawn in. Their main aim is to produce a good show and with an eye on viewer numbers. So they’ll want keep the audience keen by putting the most expected song, the favourite, at the end.

    The Armenian delegation and record company are going to push this song hard up until the competition and will be keenly awaiting for it’s draw/slot, and the ESC prods are aware of this. Aram mp3 begins a tour of Europe to promote this song on 5 April.

    • Henry VIII

      * If anyone’s

      • Chris Bellis

        Can I ask a simple question about Armenia’s entry? Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere and I’ve missed it. It’s about the singer’s homophobic rants about Conchita Wurst – do you think this is true, and if so, will it have any impact?
        http://www.ianyanmag.com/2014/03/23/not-alone-armenia-enters-eurovision-2014-with-aram-mp3s-romantic-ballad/

        • JoR

          I don’t think they were rants, but they were homophobic and transphobic. He said them in some interviews and press conferences shortly after he was announced as the Armenian representative. He certainly said the first few comments jokingly (though that doesn’t excuse it, of course), but I think his comments in a later interview were more serious. I hope the large lgbt community (and their allies) in the Eurovision community wake up to this and don’t vote for someone who thinks it’s ok to joke and mock another competitor like that.

    • And then, in the end, Denmark still wins :-). They have the 23rd slot in the running order.

      In order to win, a song needs to be loved all over the place: From Armenia to Iceland. From Portugal to Latvia. And from Moldova to Netherlands.

      I just don’t see Armenia winning. And even people in here keep talking about Armenia. No surprise it’s a big hitter in the polls and on oddschecker. And I might even start applying the “fanwank”-status to Armenia if this keeps going on 😛

      But in the end I think people on the sofa, with a bowl of Lays and a Diet Coke, are not responding in here. They think that the show from Armenia is wunderful, but that “Cliché Love Song” is actually the entry that will truly “touch their happiness”.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Molly should be rewatching Basim’s performance and taking notes until she learns from his standard of performance skill.

        If ‘Cliché Love Song’s’ lyrics weren’t so preposterously inane and Basim didn’t look and sound like a Bruno Mars clone, then I think, with its draw, it could have won.

        As it is, it’s all a bit Eurovision Stars In Their Eyes. Tonight, Basim is Bruno.

        • eurovicious

          She’s a completely different type of artist though. And yeah, it is Stars In Their Eyes.

          Apropos Stars In Their Eyes, I know I keep posting daft links on here, but you have to see this (camp, gay) Serbian popstar dragging up as Beyonce on their version of “Your Face Sounds Familiar” – it’s showstopping, like he’s been waiting his whole life to do it… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGZNBneARug

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            I was warming up to laugh my tits off at that; instead, I loved it! What a workout and props to the commitment on show. The singing reminded me of Cheryl Cole’s.

            I was a bit creeped out by the judge on the left of the panel. I mean: Christ! Phil Oakey hasn’t aged well, has he?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    For the oddschecker ESC mock top 10, the list so far includes:

    1, Armenia. Aram = Mr. Furious (from Mystery Men).

    9. Romania. Paula and Ovi = The Deans of Magic (from BGT 2008).

    And how about,

    10, UK. Molly Smitten-Downes = Clarice Starling (from The Silence of the Lambs)?

    http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/features/2012/12/11/tanya-byrne-is-clarice-starling/

  • eurovicious

    Videos from the Latvian preview party which streamed earlier tonight:

    Cleo – My Slowianie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JADD0ZHcyTA
    Conchy – Rise Like A Phoenix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUkGKVX-uGI
    Conchy – That’s What I Am https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teHvR_5jDWw
    Conchy – Believe (Cher, in ballad form) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AI8lSUyLVg
    Conchy – Simply The Best https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlN_POR17Os
    PeR – Earwig Oh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdkz3HzagEM

    Aarzemnieki were there but didn’t perform, Vilija didn’t turn up, and Ralfs Eilands didn’t do “Revelation”, so it was basically a Conchita solo concert with two opening acts. Suits me!

  • Crabby

    Enter your comment here…You summed up my thoughts about Belgium. xD It’s a bit creepy, this kind of cherishing your mother.
    I expect both Belgium and Austria to bomb (do badly) in the semi-finals.

  • Phil

    Maybe I’m biased due to the fact I freaking LOVE Ruth Lorenzo, but it does surprise me that there has been barely a mention of Spain’s entry anywhere in this and previous articles.

    The first version of the song they put out was a bit shouty, but they’ve reworked it a bit and it’s much better now. It’s a catchy tune with a simple repetitive chorus, sung by (I think) an absolute stunner. She can fair belt out a tune when she wants to (I’ve seen her live in many a sweaty gay bar) and the song plays to this well.

    I’m just a casual observer and you guys obviously know your stuff, but I can’t help but feel this could be a dark horse.

  • JoR

    I have to agree with you about how overhyped Armenia is, and I agree with your assessment of all of these songs mentioned here. However, I don’t think Hungary or Norway will do it this year. You mentioned how you couldn’t find many people whose favourite was the UK, but I’m finding loads online, especially as the UK seems to be at the very top, or very close to the top in a great number of polls. The UK will do very well with both the juries and the voters, whereas I can’t find another entry this year that will do the same. Armenia will get a fair percentage of the voters at home, but not many, and I don’t think it will do too well with then judges either (certainly if he’s planning on having just himself on stage – *yawn*). I can see Sweden, Norway, and Hungary doing well with either the voters at home or the juries, but not both. Also, the UK is the only one I can see passing the “playing over the credits” test.

  • markdowd

    I put my money on Hungary each way three weeks ago and have seen nothing to change my mind. Norway’s Carl Espen sings out of tune, especially when he tries to give it a bit of welly! Sweden feels like a song that would have walked it in the 1990s…..I expect top three though. Armenia?? Why the 8-11 odds…I don’t get it, especially all the shouting in the last minute. Which leaves Hungary….catchy, serious, dynamic…his mixed race credentials have had some wondering about racist negatives and domestic abuse is not Boom Bang a Bang, but I think it’s a cert for a top three finish…if not, indeed, a winner. I also fancy UK to score very well judging by youtube ratings!!

  • I can’t understand why Armenia is favourite down the bookies at all at the moment. It’s not a bad song per se, but it just isn’t in any way memorable. It’s not one of those songs that makes you put down your drink, shut up talking and go “Wow… what the hell is THAT?!” Yes, the video is good and well produced… but that means nothing in a live arena performance. I’m going to hold my nerve until a bit later into the contest but I still think the UK will shock everyone this year.

    • JoR

      Agree. Anthemic songs that people can easily pick up and sing along to are Eurovision winners. The only song that definately is anthemic like that this year is the UK, and certainly not Armenia.

      • Gert

        The problem with the UK is another aspect if I might add. Yes, here the song is OK. Quite good actually. Nice anthemic entry.

        But it is the singer, Molly that doesn’t “grab” my balls (sorry for the word use). When I see her singing, she misses charisma. Her looks aren’t flathering either, rather “cold”. Also her vocals don’t impress me. To “screechy” at times.

        I was asking Gavin from ESC.tips earlier if he thinks Molly can be as charismatic and “warm” as Katrina (from the Waves, UK 1997). Because I really think this must be the case for the UK.

        So for the UK it’s also not a done deal. Yes, it’s a better song. But also this entry fails on the “total package-meter”.

    • Gert

      My advice: Your own knowledge djjamesmartin is in any case better than the pollsters and people setting up the betting odds :-). Because I agree with you.

      During the past years every time an original song won. Norway 2009, Germany 2010, Azerbaijan 2011, Sweden 2012, Denmark 2013, hell, even Finland 2006….they are were Songs with a capital “S”.

      With that I mean that during those 3 minutes the song has plentiful variation. It doesn’t need to be a typical Eurovision song. But some key changes, modulations, vocal “lows” and “highs”, a bridge of some kind and a climax (not the ballad-esque climax) are always present.

      Armenia for me sounds like a 3 min lasting climax that, while listening, becomes forgettable itself. For the title theme of a movie it’s perfect, but I think to grab the attention of the televoter and judges it must excell in all other aspects, like staging, vocals, lighting (fireworks, etc.).

      But to win, EVERY aspect needs to excell, song included. And I think that’s not the case with Armenia. I think it’s this year’s fanwank.

      • I think you’re right about fanwank. Likewise, Sweden pick up a massive amount of fanwank every year – I think a lot of it currently is on the back of Melfest. The thing is – Armenia’s song is good, but you need repeated listens to “get” it. You don’t have that luxury in Eurovision. It’s got to hit on the first listen and Mr. MP3 just doesn’t.

        UK aren’t home and hosed at all, but I’m surprised to see them down around the 20:1 mark. Still, that’s a very nice return if Molly pulls it off. The staging will be a huge hit and miss… I guess the first clue to that may be the official video, released at the end of April.

        Be interesting to see what response the songs get in Amsterdam tonight.

  • George

    Apparently Aram got booed at Eurovision in Concert. Molly got the best reaction of the night.

  • Massive Twitter buzz about Molly’s performance in Amsterdam tonight, spne saying it got the biggest reaction of the show.

    • Daniel

      Hi James, I was present tonight and will post a full report some time on Sunday afternoon. Molly actually had some sound issues early on (too much echo on her microphone), and the big reaction she undoubtedly received, like the ones for Ruth, Axel and Conchita, reflected the watching audience (fanboys, plenty of Brits as well as locals).

      • Gert

        And those are the fanboys that click the “vote” button on the internet polls many many times :-). Please don’t overrate the “impact” that Eurovision in Concert might have. It still is a concert, organized by fans, attended by fans, and most importantly, not to be shown on the tele.

      • Interesting. Heard about the sound issues. Look forward to the report, especially as this is (possibly) Molly’s first live performance since the Red Button show? I’m surprised it doesn’t at least get a webcast. Interested to read that Aram.mp3 got booed.

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