Eurovision 2014: Five reasons to be cheerful

There’s an air of pessimism among many seasoned Eurovision punters in the build-up to this year’s contest. It’s a weak year, goes the refrain; liquidity is poor on Betfair; bookies have been slow to price up. In a glum assessment, Rob at entertainmentodds.com blames the emergence of sites like his and this one over the last few years for making punters more clued-up and bookies more cautious, and suggests “it would be better for everyone if we returned to a situation pre-2009 when it was all kept behind closed doors”.

I have to respectfully disagree with Rob there. Every year I’m grateful anew for the opportunity on Sofabet to test my theories and engage in debate below the line with our incredibly insightful and unfailingly good-humoured community of commenters. I similarly enjoy the opportunity to read Rob’s detailed thoughts, along with Gavster’s sterling work over at esctips.com (their latest podcast is just out). I’m looking forward to watching rehearsals in the press centre with Gav and Rob, and sharing our respective impressions.

I do understand the pessimism about the slow build-up of this year’s market – it’s hard to believe that in the past, by Easter, I have had liabilities of £20,000 on just one entry qualifying. But new markets are being priced up; liquidity is slowly improving; I actually don’t think this year is as weak as many are making out; and I think it’s possible – with a positive outlook – to find potential opportunities. In an effort to provide some inspiration, below I attempt to answer the question: what are this year’s reasons to be cheerful?

1. Trading

I generally prefer to try to predict the actual results of Eurovision rather than how the market will move. But for all that sites like Sofabet now provide more opportunity for discussion, Eurovision remains far from adhering to the efficient-market hypothesis. There have been opportunities this year, like any other, to profit from anticipating how others’ thinking will evolve – just ask those who got on Armenia before its price crash, or laid the likes of Norway, Romania or Germany at single figures.

Last week I wrote an article suggesting that the UK, Austria and Ukraine would continue to shorten in price as the big event approached. If you feel like you’ve missed out on some of these trading opportunities, there are always others to be found. Keep looking at the OGAE votes, polls and rehearsal blogs when they start. For example, I’ll suggest that Israel offers a trading opportunity now that videos of Mei Finegold’s fierce live performances of ‘Same Heart’ are going viral (it’s also currently riding high in fan polls).

2. The first semi-final

With only 37 countries taking part, there was a real danger of two uncompetitive heats. As it is, the larger semi of 16 is as competitive as we could have hoped for in the circumstances. It contains the two entries – Armenia and Sweden – that comfortably head the win market; three other contenders in bookmakers’ lists – Ukraine, Hungary and Azerbaijan; big-hitter Russia; and respected entries from Belgium and Estonia.

Many of these have other factors in their favour beyond a good standing in the win market. The heavy representation of former Soviet nations gives these entries an extra boost, whilst Hungary has the pimp slot. As a result, we should see the emergence of a dynamic win and place market for this semi-final. Take your pick, and if you feel any of them are badly overrated, there’ll be opportunities to lay.

Add to that mix well-drawn, decent-quality entries from the Netherlands and Montenegro, plus Moldova representing the strong Soviet bloc, you’d think we’d have a set of outsiders given little chance and priced accordingly. We don’t, with five entries all trading at worst, around 4.0 on Betfair – so if you take the view that there’s a genuine no-hoper, you can get a layable price. I’ll suggest that San Marino, with a weaker song than failed to qualify last year, faces the most forbidding task. What’s your view?

3. The second semi-final

If heat one is highly competitive, the beauty of heat two is that it feels wide open. Firstly, there are no big voting blocs in evidence – biggest hitters Greece and Romania are separated from plenty of allies. Secondly, only badly-drifting Norway is anywhere near the head of the win market; next up is Romania. I happen to think the chances of both are overrated anyway, as I indicated in my analyses of ‘Silent Storm’ and ‘Miracle’.

When Paddy Power opened a win market on this semi, they went 1/2 about Carl Espen, 2/1 Paula & Ovi, and 10/1 bar. Norway may well end up winning this heat from Romania, but at those prices I think it’s worth looking elsewhere. Myself, I was tempted by some big odds about Greece. I know plenty will disagree with that, but the general principle applies: I reckon there must be value to be had outside the market leaders. Who’s your selection?

4. The final

The market suggests the winner is approximately twice as likely to come from either Armenia or Sweden as it is from any of the other 35 entries combined. Do you think that’s realistic? If not, you could be grabbing some of the value about what you consider the most viable alternatives, or at least laying whichever of those two market leaders you think are overrated.

Meanwhile, the western bias of fans and punters has been encapsulated in the appearance of three Scandi entries in the top five of bookmakers’ lists. History suggests we’re unlikely to see all of Denmark, Norway and Sweden finish in the top five, which means there’s an opportunity for punters to identify the Nordic entry they think most likely to fall by the wayside.

I’ve made the case for why I think Denmark offers a solid package. Norway has clearly been the choice of layers in recent days – but I also expressed doubts in my discussion of Sweden’s prospects, and at current odds (erstwhile favourite Norway is now about four times the price of Sweden) I’d suggest Sanna is currently being the most overrated. Do you agree?

5. Rule changes

Last year saw two significant innovations: the system of juries ranking each entry gave individual jurors more power to drag down entries they dislike; and producers decided the running order, after a random draw for which half each act performs in. How the latter panned out is especially interesting here.

The system of a producer-decided final draw last year did most to help those acts already in with a chance. Seven countries came within shouting distance of winning one or other of the semi-finals in 2013. Those unfortunate enough to be randomly drawn into the first half were placed 9th and 10th of the initial 13. Those drawn into the second half were placed 18th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 24th. Within the confines of whichever half, the earliest draw thus went to winning entry Denmark (18 is a great slot).

Also favoured were the two among the ‘Big Five’ considered to have the best chance of a good result: in the first half, Germany (11th); in the second half, Italy (23rd). Thus, most of the best slots were reserved for the strongest contenders. (The final two in the running order – Georgia and Ireland – had performed relatively poorly in their semi-finals, and neither were a threat to those preceding them.)

The significance of this? Producers clearly didn’t want to scupper the chances of any potential winner – or, more pertinently, risk being accused afterwards of doing so. I’m making the assumption that this will be the case again, which has a couple of implications. First, I reckon it’s unlikely that a market leader will get a terrible draw, like 2 – always a risk to be factored in previously.

And secondly, when the running order for the final is released, it may conceivably be worth parsing for clues about the relative strength of the contenders. That depends on the aforementioned assumption being correct, and opens up the risk of overthinking that is ever-present when trying to discern producers’ thinking in the X Factor from variables such as running order decisions. Still, in Eurovision terms, that’s a new opportunity altogether.

Rob wrote an excellent article about this topic a while back, but was disappointed at the added boost given to the market leaders by producers. I’m taking more of a glass half-full approach to the new system.

So, Eurovision 2014 need not be the betting famine you fear. Regular readers will know that caution is often advised on this site. It always applies in this game, and over-confidence is never encouraged. But being overly pessimistic can also be counter-productive. What I’ve tried to do here is suggest some of this year’s opportunities. Let me know what you think of them below.

61 comments to Eurovision 2014: Five reasons to be cheerful

  • eurovicious

    I also think that San Marino is the least likely to qualify out of San Marino, Portugal and Netherlands. I think Montenegro is NQ for reasons I’ve outlined previously.

    I also agree on Sanna, up to a point. Out of those 3 Scandinavian countries in the top 5, I think Norway is the least overrated – it has the standout factor and a strong USP. In terms of how he comes over, I agree with what Gavin said on the podcast – far from being a negative, any timidness works in his favour and engenders sympathy, reinforcing the impression of an endearing/vulnerable ordinary person in a field of sparkly professionals.

    Westernised audiences will like Denmark, but I don’t think it’s a style of music that viewers in the ex-USSR (minus the Baltics) or necessarily the Balkans will relate or respond to. It’s very specifically American in a way that I don’t expect to resonate in the less Americanised parts of the continent. (Kind of a mirror of how the UK, Malta and Andorra awarded no points to Molitva in 2007 or Lejla in 2006, but on a broader scale). I think Sweden and Denmark are both terrible, but while Denmark will have more appeal with young Westernised viewers, Sanna ultimately has broader appeal age-wise and east/west-wise.

  • Norway trading at 26.0 is pretty staggering given what it was when Silent Storm first came out. It’s drifted after the video of their technical rehearsal came out the other night – the stage show amounts to just some white lights, which probably isn’t good enough anymore, but then I didn’t really think it was a contender anyway.

  • So the running order of the final is draw or decided by the producers? Please advise

  • chewy wesker

    I think in both semi-finals it’s better to back a country to qualify than to lay one not to, my reason behind this logic is that with so few countries in each semi there’s more chance making the final than not. (i.e. I rather back say russia at 1.25 to qualify than lay latvia at 4.5.) Prices will move again once qualifying is all over, and the draw is made. I strongly believe that producers will clump a load of the big boys together, so I think we should be ready for that happing again. I worry about a very late draw also, say 25th 26th you only have to look at georgia and ireland last year. I really think 16th-23rd is ideal for the win. Although top ten betting I think draw doesn’t matter much.

    • eurovicious

      I wouldn’t lay Latvia at that price (apart from the one with the flat cap), but I’d lay Russia.

      You’re right to warn about the diminished importance of the latter slots – I thought Georgia and Ireland would be helped massively by performing in the last 2 slots last year, and I thought they brought the show to a warm, emotional, uplifting close. We can perhaps consider that they were given those late slots because it was clear from the SF results that neither would challenge for the win.

  • John G

    Sweden’s easily the most overrated entry this year. Though the song has a nice hook and two key changes (I think, I’m no expert), and Sanna sings very well, it is rather old fashioned and is not among the first 10 songs I’d pick as a televote grabber, though the juries will be nice to it. It’s a typically Swedish slice of competent pop with rhyming lyrics and a good structural flow – but then so were The Worrying Kind and Hero.

    I think top 10 is the most realistic for them (but I’m not going near it with present value), as the song does have some strong sections that will create a moment with the viewer and Sanna’s going to make the most of her overdue Eurovision adventure. She’ll be more engaging than The Ark and less scary face than Charlotte Perelli.

    It is an especially curious second-favourite though, as I have yet to see ANYONE online pick it as their winner.

  • I don’t have a lot of betting experience under my belt, but I do have a niggling feeling that Malta, the Netherlands and especially Latvia offer some very good trade value at the moment. Malta come across as one of the most polished, uplifting and commercially relevant songs this year, and I’m sure the family feel on stage will come across and win over lots of people. The only thing that concerns me is whether some of the Soviet countries will go for that country sound.

    I also think the Netherlands should qualify with relative ease. We’ve been judging their “voting power” based on a lot of poor entries, and I think Anouk last year proved that Holland is just as capable of getting a result as deserved as any other country. With a quality track that knowingly stays within its intimate little cosiness and stands out in doing so, I think they shouldn’t be underestimated for a top 3 in their semi final.

    Latvia’s song is infectious and I have never considered it to be a weak entry in any context. So what if it doesn’t take things seriously? Everyone I play this song to loves it and can remember the chorus with one listen. The on-stage hug and the joyous amateurish look of the band on stage as well as the well written lyrics of Cake to Bake should see it qualify with ease in my opinion, especially cheering people up coming after the brooding Armenia in the first semi-final, which is not the first thing most casual viewers want to see when they gather round the TV screen all excited for this wonderful festival – and when #2 is statistically one of the best draws for qualifying anyway, based on data gathered by ESC Insight.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Disagree on the Netherland’s entry.

      Just re-listened to it and still find it a little dull. Plus, one of my pet hates is non-American singers singing with a deliberate American twang. It’s natural for singers to “lose” their speaking accent when singing, but if I detect a deliberate American twang it tends to disengage me.

      I like that you conduct private research through playing ESC entries. Last night, I played the Armenian track to my gf. We have similar tastes in music and I expected her to lap it up.

      But no! She hated it. Then I showed her the video clip (I was playing the song on my laptop) – to which I think she actually scowled.

      • Chris Bellis

        Agree about the Netherlands entry. Competent but bland. Agree also with your gf about Armenia. But you do have to be careful with views of Eurovision unaware family and friends. My lot have led me to waste money on a fair few occasions. This year they favour the Italian entry, which I think has the worst chance of any Italian entry so far. They also like Greece, which I think has more chance.

    • eurovicious

      I totally echo what Ben says about Latvia. It’s an anti-fanwank – one that the core of the old-school fan community dislikes as it’s unpolished, off-kilter, amateurish etc, but that casual fans and especially straight fans (judging by my straw poll on Twitter) like a lot. Basically, to generalise, it seems people that take Eurovision hyper-seriously don’t like it (they perceive silly entries as merely confirming other people’s negative assumptions about the contest and confirming its naff reputation), while people that approach Eurovision in a more laid-back way, as a bit of fun, like it.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Daniel,

    I remember being engaged in a lengthy discussion on this site a while ago about the very perspective that Rob has highlighted. In all honesty, I tend to agree with Rob.

    I noticed a while back that the pro-camp seemed to emphasise the importance of increasing market liquidity; whereas as the anti-camp (me!) seemed to be stressing the importance of protectionism towards value. Where there’s no value there’s no point.

    I did wonder if this divergence as to priorities was sourced in the level of the respective betting banks. That pro-punter Rob had penned and published his article makes me question this, though.

    But my final view (as I concluded previously) is that ultimately it’s a futile gesture to disengage from public, internet-based chat (from a betting angle) on the ESC, or SCD, or The Voice, or XF etc.

    There are reality betting sites, tipsters, bloggers etc popping up everywhere on the net. This trend will only increase. It’s inevitable. I notice further that on a few ESC sites at which I’ve been looking, they feature updated betting odds on the entries.
    I noticed while checking out DS during The Voice that a thread popped up entitled ‘The Bookies Thread’. Typical comments began, ‘I’ve never had a bet before but…’

    At one extreme, the sport of horse racing is almost indistinguishable from betting. Think of a Grand National winner and you almost automatically also think of it’s price. Think Foinavon – you think 100/1. Think Ben Nevis – you think 40/1 (and maybe: high Scottish mountain!). At the other extreme, you have reality TV winners. Non-punters could not tell you what price Abbey Clancy was going into the final of Strictly. But this situation is changing. And inevitably so.

    On the internet, it’s difficult to make a stand against the publicising of anything, particularly an area which is a rising tide. Trying to fight against a rising tide is a King Canute activity.

    So, strive to make your reality betting advice site and your brand as successful as possible. The increasing competition will certainly be striving to do so.

    I agree with Rob in principle; but I agree with your attitude, Daniel. As I see it, you’re both right.

  • I think Belgium will easily win the 1st semi final. It’s very powerful….and funnily, I think Eastern European countries like this kind of “goosebump drama”. It’s an inevitable entry. I’m thinking of laying a bet on a Belgian win in semi final 1.

    Sweden is, allthough I agree with the people that it’s a huge fan favourite, neither underrated nor overrated. Yes, she’s not the best singer. But it’s the kind of ABBA-esque ballad that televoters love. And the staging plan looks impressive for Sweden.

    Russia is hugely underrated if you ask me. This will stand out with that Greek choreography. The Russian Twins will play with some majorette sticks. But expect exquisit camera work here, with perhaps the usage of “rock ‘n roll microphone standards”. Whereas I find the UK underwhelming regarding it’s “anthemic” character, I actually find Russia having such an anthem. The instrumentation is very traditional (Let’s say, Norway 2008 vs. Spice Girls). Gavin’s whole explanation that it won’t qualify because of De Krim/East-Ukraine crisis I find hugely exaggerated.

    Netherlands will qualify as well, as I’ve seen some tidbits of their staging plan. Expect a lot of close-ups. But the backdrop/lights that will be used for Netherlands (“technical rehearsals”, as directed by DR-producer Per Zachariassen) are impressive. Ilse (female singer Common Linnets) was already in close contact with DR (Pity many countries still don’t master this early process of staging).

    So, I’ve slightly changed my prediction:

    01 – Belgium
    02 – Sweden
    03 – Ukraine
    04 – Hungary
    05 – Estonia
    06 – Azerbaijan
    07 – The Netherlands
    08 – Russia
    09 – Armenia
    10 – Latvia/Portugal/Montenegro

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I hope you’re wrong, Gert!

      My largest bet of Eurovision so far has been on the UK finishing top 10 (at evens).

      I predict Estonia finishing 14th to 20th.

      Russia is an interesting one, yes.

      Why do you have Armenia ranked so lowly? Do you think it’s too aggressive for Eurovision?

      • I think it’s a case of a hype “overhyping” itself out of proportions. A similar case I saw this year in my own country with The Netherlands. The initial presentation in a talkshow didn’t do it any good within the Eurovision community (I myself know very well how that talkshow works, so I ignored it to death). The result was, that this first initial feeling started to live it’s own life inside The Netherlands and outside.

        Same with Armenia, but the other way around. I think it’s a combination of the Turkish/Armenian fan community voting in every possible poll (check wiwibloggs)…and then some fans start to say “Aaah yes, this is being seen as a winner”. The word “winner” then becomes associated with Armenia on many occassions, without actually wondering WHY this song could do well. Hence the “overhyped hype”.

        I am always careful with that. Always try to “think” and “move” like that camera on the Eurovision stage. And ask yourself…..if the plain song is truly rated so highly because of the song…or the hype.

        Therefore…..for now I have downgraded the chances of Armenia. Then again….it can rise a bit as well.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Despite what my site user name implies, I am a relative rookie at ESC processes and betting, so I find your insights illuminating.

          Another reason for the hyperbole surrounding the Armenian entry will be the heat and traffic generated by the ‘Not Alone’ video. For production quality and impact it’s the stand-out in the jungle.

          The ESC YouTube channel feature of Aram’s video is 2 million plus and counting.

          Looking at the next videos down in the betting from Armenia’s, I see that Sweden and Denmark offer typical performance videos, presumably taken from footage of the performances from their respective national qualifying competitions.

          Whether the impact of the ‘Not Alone’ video is due more to the inherent appeal of the song, performer and inherent potential of the song-story for visual interpretation; or more due to the skill of the story-boarders and other creatives behind the video – that’s a big and open debate.

          Certainly. the quality of the ‘Not Alone’ video has helped generate buzz for Aram; in contrast to the swatted impact the following effort generated…

          http://sofabet.com/2014/03/24/eurovision-2014-running-order-for-semi-finals/comment-page-1/#comment-36640

          In one sense, the ‘Not Alone’ video is irrelevant as I doubt the cars and rain featured in it will be making appearances on stage on the 10th of May.

          The pressure is on the Armenian staging team to top the video show.

          If I may enquire: how do you know so much about the contents of the staging for certain countries?

          I haven’t read / heard Gav’s opinion on Russia’s prospects in this year’s ESC, but I can imagine how political climate considerations could be being over-stated.

          Generally, the Russian entry seems to have drawn little analysis. Surprising because a) the song is pleasant enough (if undistinguished), b) Russia has formidable voting strength (I should guess), c) Fokas is choreographing (Yes?) and d) it is fronted by 2 super-fuckable blonde teenage twins.

          Any more insights or news on the Russian staging?

          • Chris Bellis

            Re: Russian twins.
            Hope your gf doesn’t read this, but I do agree with you about their sex appeal. But they don’t frighten the horses either, so will get female votes as well. There was quite a bit of analysis on the entry in EV’s article, although to be honest, I think everyone (including me) was taking the mickey. Boki’s jokey analysis actually works, and I think we could be laughing on the other side of our faces. Boki wrote:
            “So it seems our winner this year will/should be: hetero, white, young and beautiful, not offensive, desirable for men but not too sexy to repel women, mum and dad friendly singing about love and stuff – and all of that times two – it’s Russia! :)”

          • Boki

            Just a quote from a movie (guess which one, main female character is asking an old priest for advice):

            Father, Boris is trying to commit suicide.
            Last week he contemplated killing himself by inhaling next to an Armenian.

            Tell Boris this. I have lived many years
            and, after many trials and tribulations,
            I have come to the conclusion that the best thing is…

            Yes?

            ..blonde, 12-year-old girls.

            Father!

            Two of them, whenever possible.
            🙂

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi Chris and Boki,

            You might be interested to know that after setting out to write (another) argument on why the UK was an excellent bet for a Top 10 finish; I then moved onto the challenge of determinedly (and contrarily) writing up a favourable analysis of the Russian entry.

            What has made me laugh is that It’s worryingly convincing (!) but I’ve held back from submitting it as a comment here of Sofabet because a) I’m wondering if it’s more well written than true (if you know what I mean) and b) the Russian-Ukraine political situation makes can make us bettors a hostage to fortune.

            Should I just publish it anyway? (Beware: It’s long!)

          • Boki

            If you think you can move the market just post it 🙂
            But seriously, in the current political situation their chance of winning is virtually zero.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            I think one of my posted selections may move the market by causing that selection to slightly drift…!

            I think you’re right: compile a list of pros as long as a bear’s arm; but ultimately, the current political situation is a killer for the Ruskies.

            I can now add a completed analysis of Semi Final 2, to my other comprehensive, unposted ones as to the UK and Russian chances at the ESC this year.

            I’m in a ‘sometimes it’s better for a letter to remain unsent’ mode, it seems. Less pressure, less potential egg on face – runs the current logic & mood status.

            And I haven’t wasted my time, since setting out writing for a (potential, probable) audience tends to sharpen the analysis.

            Anyway, suffice to say that the upshot of my Semi 2 analysis was taking the 50s EW (1/4 odds, 1st 3) on Switzerland for Semi Final 2.

      • John G

        I’ve also placed a hefty (for me) bet on UK to be top 10 at even-stevens. I had good fortune similarly with Greece last year, the UK are definitely not perennial top 10’ers but with this song and a comparatively weak field I think it’s a good value bet.

  • Montell

    Where do you place most of your bets? So far I’ve been a customer of bwin and unibet but I’m willing to expand my horizons. Although bwin and unibet offer relatively high odds they are killing me with their stake limits. Any bookmakers recommendations from you, guys?

    • Daniel

      Hi Montell, you should try 888sport. Same odds as Unibet, same web interface (in a different colour scheme), so they’re clearly part of the same organisation, but better limits. Otherwise, Paddy Power have also been very accommodating.

  • Boki

    It really seems dependent on the country you are from. Bet365 and Betfred could be quite good with limits, Betvictor also (until you suddenly get kicked out if you win too much).

    • eurovicious

      I’ve always used Bet365, I’ve also used Betfred. I did use Bwin until they limited me, but they’re worth using until that happens.

  • By the way, I’ve found an interesting new website: http://eurovoix.com/2014/04/17/eurojury-iceland-calling/ . The website is asking ex-participants of national finals and Eurovision contests to take seat in a national jury. Based on that they make a poll. Allthough those national juries are only have 1 to 3 persons, it perhaps gives you a small idea on how juries will vote during the readl thing. But please, take it with a grain of salt ;-). I just think it’s nice to exclude the Euro-fans for once in a poll.

    • That jury vote is interesting. It seems Malta is frequently on the lists, currently putting them in 4th place. “Coming Home” isn’t a song that’s otherwise had much buzz around it. Could this be a sign of it having more favour with juries?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    General gambling article. Interesting in that it demonstrates again how the dailies have really started going after the whole FOBT industry.

    The New Labour link is hammered home at every oppo.

    Do have to suppress a giggle on entering local bookies, when the counter staff push you to sign the ‘Save Your Local Bookmaker’ petition.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608016/Exposed-jailbird-pornographer-Britains-crack-cocaine-gambling-machines.html

    • eurovicious

      I have a huge problem with the way it’s been deregulated in the UK, with the effect that bookies’ shops are everywhere in the poorest parts of the country. It’s preying on the poor and it causes untold misery and social damage. And Labour is to blame. I cringe as much as anyone when some Tory gobshite on telly trots out the old “mess we inherited from Labour” line, but it’s true in this case.

  • Here are three better pictures of the stage. Most of the pictures so far were wide shots.
    https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3828/13924326166_eae8a1b35f_b.jpg
    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7197/13924313466_5d40a40d36_b.jpg
    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7375/13924321232_0ba31e36db_b.jpg

    As you can see, the two “walls” create a nice intimate living room-effect. But these walls are by no means LED-walls. Like last year in Malmö, they are projection walls, on which the visuals are being projected from the back.

    Most camera-shots will focus on the centre of the stage, which creates this huge “corner”. But as you can see on the other pictures, the other stage features are completely parallel in design from that “center corner”.

    There are also two catwalks on each side of the stage, but they seem not as long and big as last year’s catwalk-stage in Malmö. So I expect less running and walking on the stage.

    Also be aware of the fact that the visuals of those two “walls” can be shut off, so that the real horizontally shaped LED-wall further at the back becomes visible. I think you can compare that light-wall a bit with the same light-wall in Oslo, 2010.

    I heard that DR had some plans to create a “canal” surrounding the stage that will be filled with water? According to the DR producer the idea comes from the fact that Denmark is a maritime nation. It will separate the stage from the audience.

    • I’m not a fan of the stage this year to be honest, it’s far too angular and that tiled effect (especially on Poland) combined with the height makes it looks very busy and intimidating.

      • I think this mostly counts for the more “busy” entries like Poland. Perhaps they will have a slight disadvantage then (Denmark, Romania, France, Estonia for instance too). I expect that Sweden, Belgium, Armenia, Austria, Netherlands, Azerbaijan and Norway to be much darker when it comes to lighting and projected visuals at those two “living room”-walls

        In all honesty, I think this year it’s not just a more slow-tempo-/ballad-heavy year, I also think the slow-tempo entries and ballads are of slightly better quality than the up-tempo ones.

        You think this has become a trend since juries were introduced Ben?

        I did a quick round-up of the type of songs that ended in the TOP 10:

        TOP 10, 2012:
        –> Winner: Unique….incomparable
        –> Rest:
        ballads/slow-tempo:
        —–> SERBIA
        —–> AZERBAIJAN
        —–> ALBANIA
        —–> ESTONIA
        —–> GERMANY
        —–> SPAIN
        big acts/up-tempo:
        —–> RUSSIA
        —–> TURKEY
        —–> ITALY (but not busy staging, quite dark also)

        TOP 10, 2013:
        –> Winner: Unique….incomparable
        –> Rest:
        ballads/slow-tempo:
        —–> AZERBAIJAN
        —–> UKRAINE
        —–> RUSSIA
        —–> ITALY
        —–> NETHERLANDS
        —–> HUNGARY
        big acts/up-tempo:
        —–> NORWAY (but not busy staging, quite dark also)
        —–> GREECE
        —–> MALTA

        The above is off course, for reasons of simplicity, kind of black-and-white. But one thing that strikes me, is that Eurovision is truly more about the more simple songs that are carried by big vocals and lots of charisma.

        Yes, staging is still important. But as of 2014 I see staging more as an element that enhances the total package. Staging is less more about turning an entry in nothing more than a big stage spectacle.

        • I can’t comment on the importance of stage projections and colours, although it certainly seems that blue is very popular these days. No idea why.

          I expect that the winner this year should be careful not to overdo it, and give the stage a clean and simple look, but I might change my mind about that.

      • eurovicious

        I prefer a square stage (2012, 2014) to a halogen hob stage (2011, 2006), so I’m very happy with this year. I think the water is a great touch.

    • This site has a video of the Norway staging rehearsal. As well as giving an idea of how “Silent Storm” will be presented, it also gives a good overview of the stage, particularly that semi-transparent screen thing.

      http://rutube.ru/video/314cfaa6d64949abd00bc7f0abdd492f/

      • As expected. Darker staging for Norway compared to….for instance Poland. More work with spotlights from the floor (like with Sweden) to create more intimacy. Thanks Robyn :-).

  • By the way…..I really underestimated Romania. Now, today, I’ve seen this performance for the first time:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYfyMkwTLPg

    Again, very thoughtful staging concept, with the start of that holographic image of Paula. This will most likely be copy-pasted 100% to the stage in Copenhagen. After Denmark, I think this is another up-tempo contender for a high position.

    What do you think?

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I enjoy the tech-work involved in the staging. The note sequence Paula hits and holds is astonishing. Plus, I love dance music.

      Yeah, I love dance music (my fave track from ESC 2013 was Margaret Berger’s), yet I hate this song. I love the old Stock, Aitken and Waterman back catalogue, but hate this – for me, there bad signs.for its chances. The first few seconds in I’m thinking I’m listening to an old Journey song. But then it’s generic (and ancient!) dance beats all the way! I have the same reaction to this song that I had to Germany’s entry last year. A ropey looking performer (Ovi) singing a load of indistinguishable tosh.

      I think the only ‘Miracle’ is that the hottie (Paula) is dueting with a guy who looks like a slightly past-it salsa teacher. There’s something about Ovi that leaves me surprised he isn’t wearing multi-coloured braces.

      I am amazed that one bookmaker has this as 5/4 favourite to win Semi Final 2. Bf currently quotes it as 7/5 favourite. These prices discombobulate me.

      I see Romania has the pimp slot; while Malta kicks off the 2nd Semi way back in trap 1 (of 15).

      Calling all Eurovision stat fans:

      Has a country ever won a Semi from the opening slot?
      Has a country ever placed from the opening slot?

      • john kef

        Guildo, the best result from the opening slot was in the second semi-final of 2012 with Serbia-Jelico Joksimovic finishing 2nd.

        The second best result for the opening slot is Bosnia in 2011-2nd semi finishing 5th.

        In the double semis era we have only 5 out of 12 qualifications for the opening slot and 7 out of 16 for all the semifinals from 2004 till last year.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Thanks for the info, john,

          I was v interested in the Maltese song, as it’s my clear favourite out of that Semi line-up.

          Tossed up between the merits of Malta and Switzerland, looked at their respective draws, looked at their respective prices, and finally plumped for Seabalter.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Eventually spotted the Top Big 5 market earlier today and took a piece of the 15/8 bout Molly. Am feeling a bit ‘all in’ on the UK.

    • You’re ‘not alone’, Guildo. I had some of that myself and I’m now literally on Molly in every market possible apart from Top 3. Feels mad to be backing the UK for a change but everything’s coming together nicely. I’m very confident of a strong result at the top left of the scoreboard.

    • SirMills

      The value on UK is just to good to be true. TOP 10 @ evens feels the same way as if someone offered me a-a against his a-9 offsuited preflop and I could chose the amount we would put in the pot. I would consider all-in to be a good choice.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hi Ben,

        I lumped on the UK at 22s EW and 16s EW on the Outright, but then felt nervous that come the final “we” might do brilliantly by finishing 5th or 6th – which would equate to a thumping near-miss loss, a non-return for me.

        Which led me to extrapolate and rhetorically self-question that if I was so confident we were a real contender, wouldn’t it be great value, and just plain sensible, for me to bet an equal sum to the combined stakes of my EW Outrights; an equal sum on the UK to finish top 10, at the then available price of levels you devils?

        And so I did.

        The thing is that, for instance, a 16/1 place return (falling short of the win) at EW 1/4 the odds equates to a 6/4 winning return on staked investment.

        Deciding as to whether to place EW bets on the outright come down to how realistic you feel your EW hope has of sneaking the outright win, as distinct from solely bringing home the partial slice of bacon.

        If the staging is competitive for jury love, then I think Molly has an outside chance of landing the big one, so I’m happy to hold a mini-portfolio of EW outright bets,Top 10 bets and Big 5 bets concentrated on a bold showing from the UK at this ESC.

        I’m shocked that my ESC fortunes are majorly tied up with the showing of a girl with a double-barrelled surname and whose first name is Molly!

        ‘Team Molly’ doesn’t really have a satisfying ring.

  • eurovicious

    Currently in the top 5 of the OGAE poll, is Israel this year’s What About My Dreams? (I think Same Heart is better, but it’s analogous in terms of the type of song, the fan reception, being bilingual etc.)

    • Yes, absolutely. But Same Heart faces a more difficult task to qualify, in my opinion.

      The dreaded #2 slot in the running order is terrible for a country with no friends and a poor televote/qualification record of late. [Someone’s going to come back at me here and say: “But number 2 is a brilliant slot! x% of countries have qualified from it!” To which I would reply: the song in the number 8/10 slot didn’t win in the Melodifestivalen final for years and years until Sanna did recently, from the same logic that would make it a terrible slot. When anyone with common sense would tell you it’s very advantageous, and common sense also tells you that number 2 is a terrible slot in any contest. It’s used to screw over unwanted and unfavoured acts on all sorts of shows. And if you don’t believe me, you can ask Kingsland Road their feelings on performing second.

      It’s also the first of several dance songs in the line up. Will dance televoting fans bother to pick up the phone for Israel after they’ve heard Greece, Romania and even FYR Macedonia? Same Heart isn’t a terrible song, so it’s possible.

      The first three songs have never qualified together from a Semi-Final on the televote. Israel of course is stuck between the vastly superior songs from Malta and Norway. Heck, there have been semis before where none of the first four or five songs have qualified.

      Same Heart is an extremely camp song very much pandering to the gays. It reminds me of a song you’d see on RuPaul’s Drag Race (which I love, for the record) for the dreaded “Lip-Sync For Your Life” challenge in the bottom two. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tatoplO2A70

      So yes, Same Heart is going to be a fanwank. If it qualifies, it will do so because of a very high jury score. It would pretty much bomb in the final, though.

      I’ve been following the OGAE poll results very closely, as unlike a lot of punters I believe they do have their uses. From the current Top 10 I’d say the following songs are all likely to be fanwanks to some extent:

      Sweden
      Austria
      Israel
      Spain

  • George

    Armenia’s full light show on stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot0NgrH2TIQ

    Very impressive, but will it be too much for some viewers?

  • George

    Armenia’s full light show on stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot0NgrH2TIQ

    Very impressive, but will it be too much for some viewers? Will the juries go for it? A lot of unknown possibilities.

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