I took an afternoon nap last Tuesday and awoke to the news that Australia would be competing in this year’s Eurovision final. I had to check I hadn’t slept till April 1st, and still do a double take when I see the country towards the top of the Betfair outright market. In our comments section, James Martin asked the question: backer or layer? I’m waiting for the song – we’re promised it by early March.
This weekend is a big one for Eurovision watchers: Saturday features programmes from the other four countries making up the top five in that outright market. Topping it are Estonia, and the 1.10 shots to win Eesti Laul, Stig Rasta and Eliona Born, perform in its second heat with ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’. Thanks to Henry VIII, who posted a short clip of their performance in amongst the other prerecorded ones here.
The big market mover this week was Italy, mainly in the expectation that Il Volo would win Saturday night’s climax to the Sanremo Festival, and accept the Eurovision challenge (the winners get first refusal, so it’s not a done deal even if they take the prize). They’re the Italian equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro: three young men in leather jackets singing popera about their ‘Grande Amore’ (which if they do accept the ticket, can be cut down or ditched altogether for another song).
That Estonian performance and the news from Sanremo will have most impact on the outright market, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on both whilst settling down to an intriguing and open Icelandic national final – which usually has a reliable webstream. Five of the seven songs switch to English tonight from Icelandic in the heats due to the ruling that the Eurovision version be performed. A 50/50 jury and televote split will determine a superfinal of two decided wholly by televote.
Among the favourites are Friorik Dor with ‘The Last Time‘ – think Ott Lepland singing Leo Sayer’s ‘When I Need You’, Elin’s ‘Tonight‘ and Maria’s ‘Unbroken‘. A personal favourite is Sunday with ‘Feathers‘ – think Margaret Berger doing Bjork. There are no odds available and I’m all at sea about who’ll win, but it should be a highly enjoyable watch.
Elsewhere, the Finnish and Swedish semi-finals throw up two particular songs of interest, both with the pimp slot – Siru in Finland and Mariette in Sweden. The former is the winner of Finland’s 2014 version of The Voice and has a lovely ballad, ‘Mustelmat‘; the latter an alumni of Swedish Idol has ‘Don’t Stop Believing‘, which reminds me of Loreen’s ‘My Heart is Refusing Me’ in the released clip.
Meanwhile Lithuania selects its song, but not yet the singer, as part of its torturous selection process. As Eurovicious brought to our attention, ‘This Time‘ holds most promise, especially if it ends up being performed in a duet with Vaidas Baumila and Monika Linkyte. Hungary also holds its first semi, though I can’t find a standout in A Dal.
On Sunday, Serbia holds its national final following a year’s absence from the competition. The three songs to feature come from Vladmir Graic, who wrote the country’s 2007 winner ‘Molitva’. Three artists are in the running: more established names Bojana Stamenov and Aleksa Jelic, up against a new talent found by RTS, Danica Krstic.
So this weekend will represent a useful acceleration of the selection process. All that was decided in the past week was the Danish entry, Anti Social Media’s ‘The Way You Are‘. Unlike many of the current entries, it’s a well-structured pop song with a coherent presentation to match its retro sound. It’s perfectly Danish in its inoffensive competence.
But it doesn’t go beyond that for me, and most likely won’t improve on what we’ve already seen, which hopefully will be the case with some of those other entries already selected. I think its final position depends much on the strength of the opposition: in a good year it would be easily overshadowed.
Let us know your thoughts on the latest developments below.