Eurovision 2014: April 30 rehearsals

We got the last ten songs of the second semi today. I think it’s a poor heat in general and today only confirmed that impression. The last time we saw a semi even shorter on quality – the first one in 2010 – it’s worth noting that the running order had an even bigger impact than usual.

First on today – sixth in the running order on the Thursday night – Austria’s Conchita Wurst will undoubtedly be one of the talking points. There’s a traditional look to this, with the singer on a small plinth and a fiery red backdrop swirling behind her. She’s shrouded in darkness for the first 35secs with the spotlight revealing her face after the line, “Who can this person be”. We got the facsimile performance of ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ from her today, to the unrestrained joy of the press centre.

Lithuania’s Vilija tried to get our ‘Attention’ afterwards, but she had a hard job on her hands. This is exactly as we saw it in the national final with the one dancer and a green backdrop. She performs this well, but it’s not particularly melodic as Eurovision numbers go, and Lithuania may well be relying on a little help from their friends in this semi.

The Softengine boys are a young, inexperienced-looking bunch. There was a general lack of stagecraft for ‘Something Better’ today, with lead singer Topi keeping his eyes closed for large parts of the early run-throughs. He seemed to be getting more of an idea towards the end, though the swirling spotlights for the chorus still meant that the band aren’t visible at key moments.

I’m hoping that Ireland were going through the motions today, working on camera angles rather than selling the routine, because that’s what it looked like. Kasey is in a long, slightly unwieldy gold dress, with a gold tribal backdrop. She walks slowly around the stage whilst the two kilted dancers celebrate the 20th anniversary of Riverdance.

In comparison, Teo did a better job of selling ‘Cheesecake’, although you got the impression the Belarus team were closer to the finished article already. With a Vegas neon backdrop, the lead singer and his male rat pack swayed their way through the routine. Teo diction’s has improved considerably since the national final.

FYROM’s staging was confusing and disjointed. Like Ireland’s, I’m hoping they were treating it as a rough and ready technical exercise. The young male ballet dancer threw some shapes behind Tijana, before distracting the backing singers. Visually it was very messy and needs plenty of work.

Switzerland’s Sebalter is all charm, and works the camera from the off with an effective red-and-yellow fiery backdrop. This is charming and only descends into amateurishness on rare occasions, such as his mugging for camera and nonchalance with the fiddle during the bridge. He could also do with the same diction coach Teo has benefited from, but the camera loves him anyway.

Greece’s Freaky Fortune caused a rumpus for ‘Rise Up’ with a trampoline reveal. Rapper Riskykidd was actually the stronger link today, smiling at the camera and really enjoying himself as he and Nikolas walked down different runways during an early part of the song. They joined in the bouncing after the false finish. Camera angles are key to this, and it’s a work in progress as a result.

Slovenia didn’t impress. Tinkara looked unhappy in a big, ugly blue dress against a blue backdrop that turns gold for the climax. She struggled with the transitions from singing to flute-playing and her vocals were off at points too, which is a surprise given that she sounded fine in the national final. I preferred the staging there, with the guitarist and drummer offering some distraction rather than just the three backing singers here. This can only get better.

Romania needs work too. A chroma-key image of Paula (thanks Gav, for the technical term) starts at the end of the runway, then she magically appears next to Ovi. There’s a lot of strange hand gesturing, and Ovi pops his head through a piano shaped like a doughnut a few times. I can only think that special effects will be added at some point, because otherwise it looks very silly. There’s no problem with the vocals, just the kitsch.

Once again, you can check out the brief footage of each song from eurovision.tv. Tomorrow is a rest day here before we return with second rehearsals from all of semi one on Friday. Keep the comments and questions coming below.

45 comments to Eurovision 2014: April 30 rehearsals

  • Dash Berlin

    Is this why its so hard to predict the Qs in the second semi because most of the songs are as bad as each other and likely to rely on friendly votes?
    Austria stands out amongst this lot, should sail through with a big jury score, as I find it hard to believe many juries would put the other 9 today higher

    • I think you are right here Dash Berlin. Imagine a semi final full of high-quality acts (for instance semi final 1) and then imagine this 2nd semi final full of songs that are, generally spoken, weaker.

      The net result of both semi finals could very well be similar scorings in the TOP 15/16-ranking. Not only that. A bad semi final doesn’t make a semi-final harder to predict from a relatively strong semi-final.

      It makes it a similar hard task to predict.

      But so far, for semi final 2, I think following countries in performing order are the ones to watch out for (a good scoring):
      –> Malta (jury & televote magnet)
      –> Norway (jury magnet)
      –> Austria (jury magnet)
      And then:
      –> Belarus (jury & televote magnet)
      –> Switzerland (jury magnet)
      –> Greece (televote magnet)
      –> Romania (jury & televote magnet)

      From semi final 1, I have now like 9 -more or less- certain qualifying candidates (remember, only first set of rehearsals!). In performance order:
      –> Armenia (jury & televote magnet)
      –> Estonia (jury & televote magnet)
      –> Sweden (jury & televote magnet)
      –> Russia (televote magnet)
      –> Azerbaijan (jury magnet)
      –> Ukraine (televote magnet)
      –> Belgium (jury & televote magnet)
      –> Netherlands (jury magnet)
      –> Hungary (jury & televote magnet)

      • Dash Berlin

        Agree on SF1 with you, only I have Moldova in and Estonia out. Estonia should probably be the other Q, the draw isn’t great and I’m not sure its such a jury magnet.

        Agree with what you have in SF2 as well. One thing I have noticed from the new scoring that was introduced last year, is anything that the jury hates/dislikes did not qualify.
        Last year, in SF1 the bottom 5 in jury all failed to qualify (the other NQ was Austria, drawn 1st that had no televote support)
        In SF2, the bottom 6, 5 of them failed to qualify with the exception – Romania, who won the televote.

        With the new scoring format, we only have 1 contest to look back on, so you have to tread carefully with the stats, but it clearly shows in my opinion, that anything the jurys hate or something that will get 0 televote support is not going to qualify.

  • By the way…….as expected many weeks before, I think, like Serbia in 2007 and Israël in 1998……Austria could now very well be a contender for the TOP 3 of the final. Criticism that surrounding these kind of exquisitly performed acts, only help the televote and juryvote. I’m going to place a bet on Austria.

  • dicksbits

    Feels like Austria and Belarus were the big winners today.

  • Kelly Ann

    I would imagine Finland must be pretty safe given that Sinplus only just missed out (and qualified in televoting alone) in 2012 with a far weaker song in the same style, representing a country with no friends (whereas Finland at least has Norway here)

    • Daniel

      Hi Kelly Ann, I’ve been thinking about the Sinplus comparison too and I think you weigh up some of Softengine’s advantages well. Here are a few others:

      – Sinplus were not the only guitar-led effort in their semi-final. Hungary’s Compact Disco were better drawn and snatched the final qualifying spot instead.
      – Sinplus were attempting to qualify in a semi of 18 as against this 15-runner field.

      On the downside, Sinplus had movement and confidence on stage, throwing rock poses and looking comfortable. Visually it was effective. Softengine have to work on this side of things.

    • Interesting comparison! I’d like to add that not only does the semi that Softengine competes in have 15 instead of 18 participants, it’s also of terrible quality.

      Another comparison could be with A Friend in London. The Danes scored a very high jury score, while Sinplus failed there – what could be a plausible reason? One could be pronunciation: Sinplus were pretty horrible there, and while not perfect Softengine are clearly better. Another potential differentiator might have been Sinplus extremely repetitive lyrics. Again, I’d say Softengine falls somewhere between the Swiss and the Danes on that account.

      • Matt

        Softengine is a far better song too. It’s really well crafted with a decent hook and good anthemic qualities which should fly in a full arena.

        Of course once through, it will need a good draw and the Finnish boys will need to engage, but top ten is not out of the question. Friend in London were top five from a horrible draw though I think that was a more ESC-friendly brad on indie rock.

        • Matt

          last line — a more ESC-friendly brand of indie rock.

          sorry

        • What, you’re saying song quality matters too? 😉

          Agreed, it’s a considerably better song. Now if they’d just play the camera and hopefully also ditch the old-fashioned glittery jackets, we might just have something promising on our hands.

  • sonovox

    Cheers Daniel. Semi 2 remains a complete mystery to me. I took Israel to Q ages ago at a better price than you can get now, and I think I might just stick with running that. Though I do remain highly sceptical of Austria. I think it will bomb in the televote, particularly in the final (if it gets there). A top 10 lay is looking tastier and tastier.

    Didn’t really learn much from today’s footage. Interesting to hear Daniel’s comment about the Slovenian vocal problems – to my ear, from those brief clips, Macedonia’s were far greater. Perhaps they were unrepresentative.

    One question – do the Big 5 plus Denmark not hit the stage until all semi-finalists have rehearsed twice? Is that a change from previous years? Or am I misremembering?

    • That’s what happened in previous years – two rehearsals for the semi-finalists, then the big 6 rehearse. One thing that’s different this year – the first semi-final rehearsals take place over three days, whereas previously it was four days.

  • Nick Can

    I actually think Switzerland or Belarus could be the shocking winner of 2014 (just like Estonia did in 2001). But that’s just me. So, I do not find semi 2 weaker.

  • Picture from Molly’s pre-recorded Graham Norton performance tomorrow night here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27227652

    I’d be over the moon if her Eurovision staging was similar to this: she’s styled as a gold Manic Pixie Dream Girl with a lovely rising sun as part of her backdrop.

    • She also looks INSANELY hot on that pic. And I’m not talking about the temperature.

      • Tim B

        Furthermore, Molly was just interviewed on Heatworld Radio and she said her staging is very impressive, and she had goosebumps in the first meeting with BBC bosses to discuss it.

    • Seriously, is it only me not wanting her to be dressed up like a hippie? It will ruin the contemporary image of the song, which so far has been its biggest UPS.

      To answer you, Dash – I think it would have been around 10.00 if it was Sweden’s entry. But then again, I’d have trusted the Swedish delegation not to dress her like this:
      https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/452030466305318912/8DSSaGpp.jpeg

      Seriously, this just stinks of “we’ll try to do a bad copy of whatever won last year”, and I’d be quite upset if the UK ruined their chances now that they actually have a good song.

    • Henry VIII

      Tim step back from the fan bubble and think seriously about the UK.

      1 The UK isn’t much liked in Europe. Largely because it’s lost its soul and direction (and obediently follows the American-Israeli diktat of which is the next country to be attacked).

      2 Why would the juries like such terribly dated lyrics?

      3 Molly’s nerves make her look aloof and inaccessible. And nervous.

      • Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, Henry.

        1 The UK isn’t disliked in Europe. If they were, Blue wouldn’t have achieved 5th place in the televote with terrible staging, an average running order and crap performance.

        2 I’m not sure that the lyrics are dated, or that the juries vote on lyrics especially. It’s certainly not specified in their criteria to. The idea that Children Of The Universe is a song which won’t do well with the juries massively goes against general consensus in the betting community, and the fact that it was the clear winner of the Eurojury of previous contestants backs this up http://eurovoix.com/2014/04/30/eurojury-serbia-calling/. Obviously these rankings aren’t going to mirror the actual results but, as we know, many past contestants are voting on this year’s juries.

        3 Molly has only been seen performing on small stages at the moment, so I don’t think we should be judging her nerves until we see her rehearsing on the Eurovision stage. And if you don’t particularly like her then that’s your opinion, and not one I’ve seen shared by many others.

        • Henry VIII

          Fair answer except that I didn’t say I didn’t like her, she’s sweet. I have no personal opinion in that sense, I’m just interested in the betting angle.

        • Rob4

          Hi Tim, that’s the first time I’ve seen that list from eurojury. i’m struck that it almost mirrors my Top 10 (besides the inclusion of Sweden which I think IS dated) exactly. When I say Top 10 here I mean from a personal favourites point of view rather than a betting angle. I would replace Sweden with Azerbaijan on that list which I see is 13th so not too far off the pace.

        • eurovicious

          What Tim said. Blue were 5th in the televote, Jade was 5th overall, Jessica Garlick was 3rd. Continental Europeans, for the most part, actually love Britain, it’s just that we keep sending shite. Britain is the world’s second-largest exporter of pop music, and British pop is a staple in continental Europe – we just never send songs to Eurovision that are representative of it. This year we have.

        • Dash Berlin

          Just a note on that poll, I got a little worried when I saw Montenegro’s points total, but when I checked the breakdown, pretty much all their points came from Balkan countries that aren’t competing (Bosnia/Serbia/Slovakia etc)

      • eurovicious

        The fact the lyrics to COTU aren’t about ljubav, unlike 90% of other songs, helps it stand out artistically. Same goes for Hungary.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hi Henry VIII, Tim and ev,

        I posted the following on Rob’s site the other week.

        I’ll admit now that my Eurovision betting profit-or-loss result virtually rests or falls on Molly’s level of success, so perhaps I’m too heavily financially involved in the UK finishing position to be objective.

        Even so, here it was / is:-

        I’m learning as I go along here, surfing on a Eurovision learning curve, so anyone should please feel welcome to pick apart my points!

        Elsewhere, and consistent with other SB commentators, I’ve made the case for the UK finishing v high up the leader-board this year.

        Now, here’s extra supporting information: a mini sequence of (basic!) stats as to why the UK is an excellent bet for TOP 10.
        UK finishing positions at Eurovision:

        2007 – 22nd with 19 points.
        2008 – 25th with 14 points.
        2009 – 5th with 173 points.

        Compare that trio of results with this incomplete set of results for the same subject criterion:

        2012 – 25 with 12 points.
        2013 – 19 with 23 points.
        2014 – ?(?) with ?(?)(?) point(s).

        The 2007 to 2008 mini sequence almost mirrors the 2012 to 2013 mini sequence.

        In 2012 and 2013 the BEEB -in its infinite ineptitude and in a bizarre positive discrimination selection choice system based on countering the societal discrimination against regenerated singing corpses- decided upon sending zombies as the UK representatives at Eurovision. Ridiculous choices merited the woeful final rankings and points totals. Those results are indicative of the weakness of the performer.

        In 2009, the UK sent Jade Ewan with the song, ‘It’s My Time’.
        I didn’t watch that ESC that year, so I’ve had a listen-view of it and a scan of that year’s contest.

        My take on that 2009 entry:

        Pros:
        The UK was drawn 23rd of 25 in the running order for the final. The 2 songs with higher running order slots comprised the bottom 2 finishers in the final. The countries that finished immediately below the UK, i.e. Estonia (6th), Greece (7th), France (8th) and Bosnia-and-Herzegovina (9th) were drawn 15th, 8th, 3rd and 12th in the running order. In conclusion, the UK was lucky, was massively advantaged by its draw.

        Jade Ewan produced a stellar vocal. She was fabulous.

        The composer of the song, Andrew Lloyd Webber, was on stage playing the piano. The UK must have SLAYED the jury vote! And indeed it did. I think I’m correct in stating that the UK came 3rd with the juries (and 10th with the televoters).

        Norway and Alexander Ryback dominated the voting with a record points tally. This meant that it was (potentially) easier for the UK to achieve a higher position.

        Cons:

        Jade Ewan is dark-skinned and there’s a tendency to guesstimate that that it not a vote-winning plus factor. This may help explain the relatively low 10th place in the televote for the UK.

        Compare and contrast of 2009 and 2014:

        Jade is a better singer than Molly.

        The 2013 draw for the UK can only be disadvantageous compared to the 2009 draw.

        The ALW factor was a jury magnet in 2009. He won’t be appearing this time!

        Molly, imo, has a much better song than Jade had. It’s more popular, catchier and light-years more anthemic.

        Creamy white Molly will not have any conscious or sub-conscious voter resistance to overcome.

        The UK is a little more popular (or a little less unpopular?) in the world nowadays. Germany and Russia seem to be the holders of bad guy status, or the bullying nation status (of nations who compete in the ESC) nowadays. The successful 2012 London Olympics MUST have made a positive impression on the world and helped cast the UK in a more positive light. That Olympics attracted massive numbers of people from all over the world and recorded v high service user and/ or visitor satisfaction marks. The UK brand has received a v recent massive upgrade and makeover.

        Weighing up all the above info, or rather my impressions of that info, I should say that Molly should definitely be aiming for a minimum Top 10 finish. The BBC and Molly seem to be ushering in a new dawn of making a serious challenge for ESC glory? The selection of Molly, combined with the successful reinvigoration of The Voice this year, suggests to me that the BBC have finally got their act together.

        The 2011 ESC performance of Blue for the UK is another indicator of how well Molly could do. Blue finished 5th in the televote. Apparently, and amongst other factors, the screeching of Blue’s Antony Costa helped kill the jury vote. Listening back, the group performance in the final was woeful. They sucked. If they’d been able to hold a note, who knows how high up they could have finished in the televote?

        Then again, perhaps, like TATU finishing 3rd at the 2003 ESC, this was a fame-based result.

        • Henry VIII

          Hi Guildo, I’d try to reduce your reliance on the UK. Those mini sequences don’t mean anything and I think there’s a lot of fan-wank in her price.

          But let’s hope she rehearses well and gets a good slot.

  • Henry VIII

    Why did Estonia win that year? It sounds poor to me?

    • Henry VIII

      * that above is a reply to Nick’s post

    • I can’t remember why it won, but I do remember that year as it was the first year I put a bet on and backed Estonia. I can’t remember the source, but I was reading some betting publication that gave tips and picked out Estonia as a dark outsider worth an each way bet. I think it was 20s or 40s, I forget.

      So I have Estonia to thank for my love affair with betting on Eurovision

    • Henry VIII

      Estonia was a nice party piece but I think 2001 was a weak year. Weaker than this year imo. The 3 podium places came from the last 4 to perform.

      An outsider winning this year? An interesting thought. I like the 2 Nick mentioned btw. Switzerland is much more friendless than Estonia but Belarus is similar, a bit better in fact. I think the top 4 in the betting table are pretty strong though.

  • Okay so I know I haven’t seen the TV feeds unlike our eyes and ears in the press centre and I have of course read all of the reports with interest, (thank you!) but I am erring on side the avoiding any hyperbole whatsoever and this is where I stand:

    I’ve seen hardly anything of Armenia so it’s too difficult to update my judgement. If this is truly powerful and all-overcoming enough, it’ll win. But, it seems unlikely at this stage. Latvia seem to have entertained the press centre and this is the kind of guilty pleasure that people can’t admit to liking. I’m still a believer in this being thoroughly infectious on the night and sailing through – remember it’s not always about strength and power, it’s about effectiveness, and a stunning visual package cannot… CANNOT take a borderline qualifier to top 5. If anyone finds themselves on that train of thought with certain countries they weren’t sure about this time last week, get off at the next stop and take a step back.

    I’m remaining open minded about Estonia, I don’t think they’re in much trouble and I don’t think the backdrop lets them down as it suits Tanja’s background as a stage musical actress, easily bringing Footloose, Flashdance and whatever else to mind. For me, all it’s done is write them off as possible outside winners. The same goes for Ukraine, although I do hope their stage show has more to it than what we’ve seen.

    Sweden – see Armenia, minus winning potential. Should do respectably well though and looking forward to seeing more. I can tell Iceland are pushing for qualification, but what I’m worried about at the moment is whether this easily communicates uplifting fun or is it all a bit overwhelming? Albania were pretty much a non-qualifier for me this time last week and while I’m forcing myself to stay open minded a bit longer, throwing dead trees onto the stage just about cements it for me. Glum and ‘orrible.

    Fokas has obviously been at Putin’s vodka cabinet when he put this hot mess together but I think it’s just too big an ask for Russia to not qualify and this is mostly helped by the girls themselves not letting us down vocally. I’m pleasantly surprised with them. Azerbaijan is one I can easily picture just from seeing that little in-arena clip and it’s very beautiful. I think backing singers is overegging it a bit for Dilara, the song doesn’t need them, but whatever. Definitely making its case for top 5.

    Belgium’s presentation needs cheering up a bit. If I was in charge I would hire a dancer more like the one used in San Marino’s 2008 show for Miodio to actually interact with Axel, and make sure the audience would notice that the dancer looks old enough to be his mother. I’d change the backdrop to a timelapse of a large purple flower with a yellow core opening up and have purple and gold lighting reflect this so that it is more sure to bring a tear to the eye rather than come off creepy.

    Moldova are still making a spectacle of Wild Soul but they’re using the far better produced version heard in Amsterdam which frustratingly is not even on the Eurovision album. I’d like to hear it in its entirety during second rehearsals, but on the basis of simplifying the staging (well it couldn’t get more complex really could it?) and improving the song, I’m willing to concede qualification for this crap.

    San Marino’s staging looks less imaginative than last year and on a conventional basis I would call it a non-qualifier, but I just have this niggling feeling that the third-time lucky sympathy will play some inexplicable part so this is still a bit of a coin toss for me. Portugal bringing the “fun” is a term I’ve learned to be wary of. Krista brought the “fun”, Kurt Calleja brought the “fun”… I’m open to qualification for this now but it won’t get any higher than 20th after that. Suzy’s age (and thus her commercial relevance as a performer) might contribute to even less appeal than Krista and Kurt too.

    The Netherlands didn’t quite come up with the sort of staging I expected, a little more gimmicky looking, but I trust the reports that talk of a sense of quality and feeling like qualifiers. At the risk of falling victim to confirmation bias, this makes Holland a qualifier for me when it always pretty much was before, despite what people were saying about dullness. Montenegro in comparison looks uninspired, the skater is superfluous, and this will quietly fall by the wayside with no neighbours to support it.

    Hungary have adjusted and tightened up their choreography in order to better tell the narrative of the song. With dynamic stage graphics as I’ve seen in just the 30 second clip and someone as telegenic as Andras being portrayed as a knight in shining armour to use a generic term, I think this is set for top 5 or just outside.

    Malta, I don’t get the worries for. They might still need a bit more practice with the camera but this is sailing through. There’s no point overthinking it and nitpicking the staging. The song alone is good enough to qualify easily as Gav from ESCtips himself alluded to in his first review of it. I’m also fairly confident of a top 10 as well. I’m glad Israel have been staged well and I was personally open to qualification as soon as I heard Same Heart. I felt suggestions of it not qualifying was a little bit of an overzealous attempt to dismiss a fanwank and I reckon things are looking up for Mei.

    Norway have also exceeded my expectations in terms of visuals, but for some reason the stage looks a bit busy for Carl in that 30 second clip so I hope it at least starts out more intimate. The business and his smarter clothes also take away some of that everyman vulnerability, but it’s a narrow kind of appeal he’s trying to communicate. Should go through nevertheless. This is where that chestnut of “the first 3 never all qualify” comes in. Gav bluntly said in the ESCtips chatroom the other day that one will go. I understand and it makes sense – and if I had to pick one to miss out, I’d go for Israel, but for now I’m going to be defiant and say Malta, Israel and Norway can all go through.

    Georgia aren’t worth writing about even though I don’t mind the song. I’ll laugh if they qualify. Poland are still a cause for concern, but I’m glad for the change to white and red which looks so much better on screen. The blue just looked intimidating and sickly. Vocal strength, and the superfluous, alienating placement of busty girls on the sides of the stage (something you’d never do for any other TV performance, let’s be honest!) are my main concerns, but I really want them to make it.

    I’m glad Austria is coming across well on screen, and very happy that I called the “hear her before we see her” in my pre-rehearsal questions but I’m sternly refusing to agree that Conchita is a contender. That’s pure hyperbole, all this does for me is push Conchita over the qualification line, after that, maybe 16th or something and even that’s if the Eastern countries feel generous. It’s not just because of Conchita, it’s because the song really isn’t that good in my opinion. Way too derivative and self-indulgent.

    Slightly concerned for Lithuania at the moment, I’d hoped for a bit more visual development and it looks like they’re relying on Tron costumes in order to stand out. They’ve got friends to help them in SF2 and I have always liked the song so even though they’re showing symptoms of weakness, I’m erring on the side of qualification on the basis of Vilija’s cuteness, the girl power narrative, and song strength.

    Finland obviously need work, but I’m not concerned for their qualification chances at the moment. Like Malta, they’re good enough to qualify even if they turned up in their PJs. If they continue to fall drastically short then I’ll pay more attention to the concerns. Ireland pretty much gave the game away with the recent performance on the Late Late, and for me, it just looks like a carbon copy of last year in terms of concept. Ireland don’t deserve qualification this year because, like the UK in recent years, they just seem to blindly believe everything they send deserves to win and so they don’t put the real effort in. Let’s hope the British revolution rubs off on them for next year. #CarCrashKasey indeed.

    Belarus looks and sounds slick, and I know I said rehearsals should never overturn a non-qualifier but around the time of the Russian pre party recently, I thought we might have just wrote it off too soon. Yes it’s silly but does that automatically make it bad? Again, if he doesn’t come off too sleazy and vain, then it will qualify on effectiveness. I think, sensibly, I’m just calling this a borderline for now.

    Macedonia, while Tijana is very likeable and the song is a decent effort, it has emerged as one of the weaker songs. When Tijana explained the staging concept in an Amsterdam interview, it sounded interesting, but based on the clip, it’s not coming across as energetic or bold as I’d hoped – and all too easily it’s sounding like it looks disjointed. I’ll give it a chance to improve, but I think especially with the lack of support, this has tipped the scale towards non-qualifier – and the same goes for Slovenia.

    I’m glad Switzerland is coming across well, I’ve always found the song likeable and I’m glad he’s got good vocal support. Hopefully this will be able to show us how willing certain countries are to vote for Switzerland when they send something worth voting for. I don’t think this will get top 10, but anything out of the bottom 5 and I’ll be happy. I’ve got them down as a qualifier right now on song strength/appeal alone, but good staging and charisma as reported this week have helped to cement it.

    Greece made me giggle when I saw the trampoline and this now just looks juvenile and silly, but in a good way. It’s like Verka Serduchka feat. Dizzee Rascal. Whether or not this has enough of a novelty effect on the juries as well is too hard to call, but I think Greece can scrape through the semi final now. Top 10 though? Highly unlikely.

    and finally Romania. I knew from the start this year that Paula and Ovi aren’t very good pop performers, putting vocals aside of course. Yes the gimmicks look cheap, but this is nothing to cause any concern. Romania are sailing through and are knocking on the door of the top 10. They might come 11th or 12th.

    All in all, forcing myself to stay open minded on absolutely every single country, not paying attention to any sudden surges in popularity, *coughAustriacough*, and everyone gets a chance to improve. Clean slate mindset tomorrow please folks!

  • markdowd1959

    If Belarus or Switzerland win ESC 2014 I will eat my Eurovision Encyclopaedia….if they both make the final is will be a minor miracle…….!!

  • Jess

    Hi all. It’s my first time commenting, but I came across sofabet last year and immensely enjoyed reading Daniel’s analysis and all of your views. I dipped a toe into the betting waters last year – just two bets placed on my favourites, Germany and Georgia. So that didn’t turn out too well.

    By this point in the Eurovision cycle I’ve already listened to the album too many times to be anything but subjective (I suspect this was my issue last year as well). However, in the lead up to this year’s competition I purposely avoided the songs before every country’s entry was available, and when the album arrived I made myself sit down and listen to it in one go.

    These are the top 10 songs I picked after one listen through (no particular order):

    – Austria
    – Azerbaijan
    – Belarus
    – Spain
    – UK
    – Greece
    – Hungary
    – Norway
    – Ukraine
    – Sweden

    I certainly don’t like every one of the songs I listed above, but I did remember all of them – make of that what you will! If I had to pick an outright winner I’d go for UK – after one listen I had the song stuck in my head for two days (I’m British though, so always going to favour my own entry). My actual favourite is Estonia – reminds me a bit of ‘Stay’ by Shakespear’s Sister…!

    I’m not sure what to make yet of the rehearsals, but am looking forward to seeing what the UK have got lined up for Molly.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Just watched the video of Belgium’s 2nd rehearsal, via Daniel’a tweeted link.

    The guy can sing, but the spectral mummy is still truly disturbing.

    I know it’s about a mummy who’s dead. After-life fantasies (apologies to all the religious-minded amongst the betting fraternity, if that’s not an oxymoron) are abidingly popular themes. But, for crying out loud, loved one’s who have survived the inconvenience of death are usually portrayed with a more aesthetically appealing touch than Axel’s mummy. She looks like she’s feeling her way upwards out of an invisible grave – and might pull him back down there with her.

    Dress her more angelically, perhaps; burn those drab death veils that are clinging on to her.

    At the moment there’s the overweight guy and the scary old woman team representing Belgium.

    Don’t see who would aspire to be part of that scene!

    Despite the song and the singer being a real grower on me.

  • Nick C

    Henry and Dash: I was in Copenhagen in 2001 for the final. There were two favorites that year: France and Greece. France had arguably the best song that year, and Natasha St.Pier was simply divine. However, she had a strange and un-necessary change from French to English in her performance. And Greece had an excellent ethnic dance track, but they were totally static on stage. And then came Estonia… It was a very weak song, but just ‘stood out” as it was fun, upbeat, and eye-pleasing. So.. they won fair and square. About Belarus and Switzerland… would I put money on them? NO. I am aware majority does not like them. Would I be shocked if they win? No. This is Eurovision, and noone, AND I MEAN NOONE could have predicted Denmark in 2000 (Estonia was a huge favorite), Latvia in 2002 (Sweden and Germany were co-favorites), or even Azerbaijan 2011 (France and Hungary were leading the bets). So… relax, and enjoy the ride guys.

    • Dash Berlin

      I know the eurojury is a mere indication and cannot be used as too much of a tool – but Switzerland and Belarus are right at the bottom in jury points, it would indicate, neither will enjoy above average jury scores.
      I would think neither will get much televote support either, I could easily see them both Q for the final, but I would lay either for a top 10 finish

  • NICK C

    Both switzerlannd and belarus made it!!! I will not be as low as saying “i told you so”.. Actually, i guess i am that low. So a big I TOLD YOU SO

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