Eurovision 2015: Feb 7 Update

Tonight is the first Super Saturday for hardcore Eurovision fans with one final and four semis from the contest’s Northern Lights. The Danes hold their decider at 7pm GMT which is usually well produced with a reliable webstream. It’s one I usually get a little involved in based on a simple premise: the Danes love to choose something they can clap along to. Think of their 2001 or 2008 entries as classic midtempo, radio-friendly, clapalong examples.

When the songs came out, I tuned my clapometer and it settled on Anne Gadegaard’s ‘Suitcase’, specifically its A-chorus (the bit between the initial verse and the refrain), with second place going to Anti Social Media’s ‘The Way You Are’. World of Girls’ ‘Summer Without You’ was also pretty immediate but reports from last year’s Copenhagen Pride suggested the girlband’s vocals were aural shame. They’ve since ditched a member.

Both Anne and Anti Social Media attracted the early money after being given plum draws of #8 and #7 in the event – the most recent six winners have come from 8, 8, 9, 10, 6, 10. That continued after positive rehearsal reports last night and an audience poll which had them first and second of ten at 20% and 17% respectively. That’s hardly conclusive though, and it’s a relatively open field without a true standout plus any value gone. But as tonight’s only final, it will be the priority on my sofa.

Elsewhere, the first Melodifestivalen heat of four in Sweden is always keenly anticipated, although the reaction to the snippet of favourite Eric Saade was one of disappointment. It will be interesting to see if the whole song and performance holds together better than the short clip currently suggests. He can at least be relied on to put on a good show when it matters.

The first of two Finnish semis promises at least as much interest to Eurovision ante-post punters, given that it includes boyband Satin Circus, whose One Direction-esque ‘Crossroads’ is the main reason behind Finland’s high ranking in the Betfair market. They are up against punk rockers with learning disabilities, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, who have so far taken the domestic limelight. You won’t find a bigger contrast all night, and these are two live performances I’ll be watching out for.

Estonia’s first Eesti Laul heat offers a wide variety as always, although we have to wait till next week for the hyped ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’, whilst Iceland’s second semi completes tonight’s round-up. These are two charming competitions filmed on a smaller scale to their larger Northern brethren, and it’s a shame they’ll be slightly overshadowed tonight.

Since my last article, we’ve had two further songs selected for the main event itself in May, from Cyprus and Switzerland. I think it’s hard to predict at this stage how they’ll get on as I can see a wide range of outcomes. Let me explain.

The simple, quiet, Cypriot male ballad, ‘One Thing I Should Have Done‘ comes from the same pen as their 2004 fifth-placer ‘Stronger Every Minute’, and like Eurovicious, also reminded me of the 2003 fourth-placer from Norway. The likes of Tom Dice have continued to show that such a song put across with charm can go far. But they also risk dying a death on the scoreboard like Belgium’s 2012 effort from Iris.

I prefer to see a quiet song like this lift itself in the middle eight, as ‘I’m Not Afraid To Move On’ does, but at the moment, ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’ judders almost to a halt.

I’m hoping the arrangement is given a serious kick and Alex Panayi, who was on the Cypriot panel, continues his involvement in bringing it to the Eurovision stage. The former contestant-cum-backing singer-cum-vocal coach is a go-to guy who can work wonders, as he did in 2014 with Belarus’s Teo and in 2013 with Azerbaijan’s Farid.

Switzerland’s ‘Time To Shine‘ intrigues with a wide range of possibilities too. I find it hard to assess because it’s currently a melange of elements, from its contemporary beat to the less than contemporary guitar solo. I don’t think it’s particularly melodic either – especially in the verses – but the refrain does stick in the head.

French-Swiss singer Melanie Rene, has a certain je ne sais quoi that usually goes down well with juries. ‘Time To Shine’ will need to be brought out in the staging to differentiate itself from the Georgian and Maltese ‘Warrior’ entries, and to avoid the televote death of Austria’s 2013 ‘Shine’ which was also contemporary but had no life whatsoever from the coffin slot in Malmo.

A second half draw in the second semi for both these newly-selected songs gives them every opportunity to improve on their respective countries’ poor qualifying records – should the opportunity be properly taken.

Please feel free to add your thoughts about these entries and tonight’s shenanigans below.

35 comments to Eurovision 2015: Feb 7 Update

  • For now, I am most keenly awaiting:

    Belgium’s reveal
    Spain’s reveal
    Armenia’s reveal
    The UK’s reveal
    Malta’s expected new version
    The performance of “Goodbye to Yesterday”

    If nothing of serious interest comes from any of these, I believe we will have quite the tricky year on our hands.

  • dicksbits

    Cyprus: Agree it needs a little treatment, but I don’t see it going the same way as Iris in 2012. Maybe the same way as Jon Lilygreen & The Islanders…making the final at least.

    Music like ‘One Thing I Should…’ is very popular atm

  • Daniel

    Anti Social Media will represent Denmark. What amazed me was that the audience rehearsal poll, which can be way off, was spot on. Anne won the televote with 20%, ASM were second with 17%, but given more jury love to take the prize. Here’s the winning performance from last night.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RA-A_uvE1ss

    • It has potential – for me, more than Basim last year. It’s catchy, mainstream, radio-friendly youth-oriented guitar pop with a telegenic lead and the ability to stand out from the field.

    • Tim B

      I think the change in format probably cost Suitcase its win. I was surprised how many televotes were wasted on songs that had no chance. A superfinal would’ve given Suitcase the chance to pull away in the televoting and win it.

  • While all eyes are on Goodbye To Yesterday, I’d like to draw attention (and a little love) to this not dissimilar but warmer and more rousing gem from the Lithuanian selection:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziXkmxouw8Y

    Both Vaidas and Monika are down to the final three (alongside Mia), and last night was the first time the show tried out This Time as a duet between them, it having been premiered in a solo performance by Vaidas (for whom it was written) 3 weeks ago:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRTph3T1cWk

    As of last night, Vaidas and Monika are #1 and #2 in the jury vote by a considerable margin with Mia 3rd; Mia is #1 in the televote but not by much (150 votes ahead of Vaidas).

    They have the voices and charisma, the song is great and I think and hope it has the momentum to win Eurovizijos. The smart thing to do would be to make it a duet if either Vaidas or Monika wins with it. While there are 9 songs left in the contest, This Time is is in the unique position of being both:
    – one of only 3 that are Lithuanian-written (last year the Lithuanian-written Attention beat a field of almost entirely Western-written entries), the other two being Monika’s “Flying” (unremarkable as performed by her), and “Not Perfect” by Edgaras Lubys, which is unlikely to win as he was eliminated last night
    – and one of only 3 not to have appeared in the bottom in any combination (ie. the person who sung it that week got kicked off), alongside generic dance tune Feel My Love (associated with Mia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBUbpCOhz_A) and the pretty decent Take My Love, which has so far been associated with male performers but which Vaidas seems uncomfortable in its new upbeat, rap-burdened arrangement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLmqSBU02U0).

    Fingers and other appendages crossed that we get the “right” result in Lithuania please… #vilnius2016

  • Do we have any info on the UK reveal yet? Black Lace’s Dene Michael appears to be one of the names in the rumour pot… and he can actually sing very well.

  • Henry VIII

    Clip of the Estonian SF2 performances including Goodbye To Yesterday. (Winner ESC 2015.)

    • I have my doubts, and they’re certainly going to face accusations of ripping off The Common Linnets with that performance.

      • SirMills

        Yeah so we thought about the barefoot Emily De Forest ripping of Laureen but look what happened to her :).

        • Only Teardrops and Euphoria were musically and visually very different though. Goodbye To Yesterday and Calm After The Storm are much more similar, though to me, Goodbye To Yesterday is more defined by its 60s retro sound and look (something Calm After The Storm doesn’t have) than its country vibe.

  • Daniel

    The full versions of the five Irish Eurosong finalists can be found here. Enjoy! http://esctoday.com/95272/ireland-five-songs-broadcast/

  • That was an ironic “Enjoy!”.

  • BREAKING: Australia is competing in this year’s Eurovision with an entry (on a one-off basis) and is voting in both semis and the final. Not a joke or early April Fool’s. “Building bridges”, innit…

    • Okay so let’s do what we do best here and look at this from a betting perspective!

      They might win just for the lolz. It’s a very real possibility.

      We have to consider if juries will treat their participation with the same level of novelty. Will the EBU be explicitly telling them to not give Australia any special treatment?

      The market has lost its shit over the news, (and I happened to have popcorn to hand at the time!) there is currently a good opportunity to lay Australia very cheaply without knowing anything about their entry, unfortunately this news has just not come at a good time for me, financially, so I’m not able to partake.

      My stance is to basically treat Australia like the bearded lady of 2015, and wait to see if the song backs it all up!

      Continue as normal. 🙂

      • This is typically good analysis and I agree with it.

        They can’t let them compete once and tell them to fuck off out of it again the next year, with the caveat that “if they win” they can enter again. That’s loading the dice. The EBU has decided that Estonia is gonna be in Russia by May 2016 so they need Australia to win so a third country of their choosing can host it.

        • Chris Bellis

          A bit of politics – Latvia and Moldova have substantial Russian populations too. Bulgaria is highly sympathetic to Russia, as is Greece. I feel Eurovision will be more political than ever this year. Even Sweden has had riots and protests, although that is to do with Islamization, so shouldn’t have much impact. Australia’s presene should divert some of the inter-necine strife, so it’s welome from that point of view. Korea (South) has expressed an interest for the following year, so it’s really a time of change.

  • Henry VIII

    I imagine Australia will be invited to participate full time after this year’s comp is over. They can’t announce it immediately because it’s not EBU so some rules will have an amendment or exception inserted.

  • sonovox

    Culturally the Australian attitude to Eurovision is very similar to the UK’s, partly conditioned by years of Wogan (local commentary only began fairly recently, don’t remember exactly when). It’s widely watched but never seriously, except within certain diasporas, mainly Greek and Italian.

    Unless SBS have someone experienced in Eurovision selection on board, I expect things to go one of three ways: (a) embarrassing ‘true-blue’ cultural showcase with all the earnest clichés, (b) BBC-style exhumation of superannuated Anglosphere pop star (Dannii Minogue?) (c) attempted piss-take of ESC in general. None of these are going to look like they belong. Let’s see if they manage to skirt those traps – if they do I’ll be relieved but also pretty surprised.

    Just who in Australia will be awake to televote is another interesting question. The Romania 2013 factor (see 2013 Aus voting results) might well diminish; only the anoraks bother actually getting up for it live.

    Why would Australia get to vote in both semis? Can’t get my head around that at all.

    Initial suspicion is that any novelty votes Australia might attract could be cancelled out by those asking the (reasonably rightful) question of what we’re doing in this contest, where we obviously don’t belong.

    I do wonder about Holly Vukadinović (… aka Valance), pretty much the only plausible selectee I’ve thought of so far who’s not unknown in Europe.

    Sigh, following Eurovision as an Australian used to be shame-free.

    • Henry VIII

      “where we obviously don’t belong”

      Why not? No cultural problems and you have an audience for it and you broadcast it.

    • Oh dear sonovox, you don’t seem very excited or happy that your country is entering Eurovision for the first time, do you? I would say “send Kylie” but as much as I love her, I doubt her vocals would be strong enough to win juries over. They should send Lisa Gerrard with something Suus-like. Or Sia with a bag over her head.

      Have to wonder how other countries feel about this – especially small, committed countries still to choose or unveil their song (Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic etc) who probably thought they had a decent chance of bagging the trophy this year. It’s a stunt that totally shakes up the rules of the game. The EBU isn’t like the EU where every member needs to sign off on something before it can go ahead – the Reference Group can decide this over everybody’s heads.

      • sonovox

        Kylie – an artist based in the UK, who got her break on a show made for UK viewers, and whose songs routinely chart higher in the UK than in Australia. She’s pretty much a UK act. If she were interested in the Eurovision gig, I imagine the BBC would have had her there by now. But who knows. She does love her Aussie fanboys.

        No idea what point you’re making about me, but I’ll give you a proper reply anyway, although whether Australia *should* be in Eurovision matters far less for this blog’s purposes than the fact that they now *are*. That said, exploring the cultural politics of Australia’s invitation brings out the same old questions about Eurovision’s status as a forum for articulating national, social, sexual (etc) identities that everyone here needs to grapple with when theorising the contest from a betting perspective.

        There are some serious questions about what a one-off Eurovision invite says about Europe’s perception of Australia in relation to it, and also about the consequences for Australia’s perception of itself in relation to Europe. On the first question, I worry about the gimmickry of the invitation. If Australia is the novelty participant, then the version of Australia the EBU wants is the romanticised, telegenic, warm, distant, happy land routinely imagined in European escapist fantasies, that can be presented inclusively (let’s invite our counterparts from all over the globe) without actually posing any significant challenge to dominant, largely West-European, cultural narratives. And that Australia is an Australia that can conveniently be forgotten about once the big adventure finishes.

        Meanwhile, one of the identity crises faced by contemporary Australia is that it largely clings to a Eurocentric cultural history (in its institutions and educational curriculum, among other things, and in terms of whose voices are loudest when it comes to foreign policymaking), at the expense of forging newer, stronger connections that recognise its geopolitical reality as an Asia-Pacific nation. I come from Sydney, a city where I hear a dozen Asian languages spoken on the streets every day, but far fewer from Europe. So I see active Australian participation in ESC as a post-colonial hangover that will contribute to marginalising a fairly urgent project of reinventing Australianness for the 21st century.

        The kind of ‘inclusion’ going on here at ESC 2015 actually reinforces several other types of exclusion. If SBS had full, active EBU membership, I’d have no problem with Australia’s participation at ESC. Those are the rules, after all. But there are good, pretty much unassailable, reasons why SBS’s membership of the EBU is associate, and hence why Australia has always been ineligible for regular ESC participation. So the thinking behind the exceptionalism is the problem here. What is Kazakhstan to make of it? They diligently broadcast ESC and have been seeking EBU membership since 2008. They also aren’t half a dozen time zones away from CET. Through Borat, they’ve already been made the target of some fairly vicious Anglocentric cultural othering and mockery. And what about the other 20 or so associate members? Yet the EBU doesn’t build bridges to them this year. Instead, it opts for a one-night stand with the glamorous English-speaking faraway tourist hotspot – a retrogressive concept of European inclusion if ever one was dreamt up. Australia doesn’t need and won’t benefit from an ESC platform. (If anything, SBS should be getting behind an Asiavision contest – it literally televises hours of Asian pop every Sunday morning, and biggish K-pop festivals have started to hit the big cities). You can bet that Australia’s continued failure to legalise gay marriage won’t be showcased. Etcetera.

        I’d love my reading to be wrong. But no (and thanks so much for your concern), as a proud Australian, I’m not made particularly excited or happy by this development.

        • Chris Bellis

          Sonovox – thanks for that thoughtful analysis. I enjoyed reading it. I think I agree with 99% of it. The little niggle omes from the thought that K-pop and other Asian music will soon follow Australia’s lead. They’ll then have to change the name from “Eurovision” to something else.

  • sonovox

    It would be fun if we sent Say Lou Lou

  • Henry VIII

    ESC have stated that putting Oz in a SF would not be fair to the others in that SF because they would then have less chance of qualifying. It’s actually illogical because now the others have more chance of qualifying but less chance of winning.

  • sonovox

    Other auto-qualified countries still only vote in one semi, though, right? Or am I missing something?

    • Henry VIII

      Only thing I can think of is that they want a lot of Ausie viewers to make it a success. Do you broadcast the semi’s?

      • Yeah, they broadcast both, with commentary. They’ve been sending a team of two SBS producers plus Julia and Sam to the contest every year for a few years now.

        • sonovox

          They broadcast both, but *not* live. The three shows go out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, Australian time. Australians who want to watch live need to watch the eurovision.tv stream, without any commentary. Admittedly, the last ESC I followed from Australia was 2012, but I’ve asked some friends and they’ve said that model still hasn’t changed.

          Until this year, I suppose. So Julia and Sam will for the first time be doing a live broadcast to an audience that can actually vote. I suspect that means they will have to modify aspects of their style – a not insignificant fact, given that the difference between Q and NQ in both semis may well prove to be in Australia’s gift, but completely unpredictable.

  • I’ve just put money on Australia, and I have no doubt I’ll be topping up over the next 3 months. I can see now what’s going to happen.

  • The other interesting bit is that if Australia DO win, it goes to another European city with SBS and the national broadcaster co-hosting. So it might be our best chance of getting to host it again for some time!

  • Bump. Who’s going in on the Aussies and who’s laying? Whos

  • Is no one betting on Melodifestivalen this year? Liquidity in the markets on Betfair is embarrassingly sparse.

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