Eurovision 2015: Feb 28 Update

It’s another busy night for Eurovision watchers with finals in Moldova, Finland, Slovenia and Hungary. Sweden also holds the fourth and last heat of Melodifestivalen. Odds are available for the Finnish and Swedish events. It’s the former that throws up most interest, although how it plays out is anybody’s guess.

Easily leading online polls and heading bookmakers’ lists are punk rockers with intellectual disabilities, Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat. According to the odds, their only significant rivals are boyband Satin Circus. But those polls have proved unreliable before in indicating who will actually pay to pick up their phone and vote, whilst Satin Circus, who have the best song, didn’t impress with their performance in the semi.

This leaves the result potentially wider open in a varied field that includes the vocal acrobatics of Opera Skaala and infectious joy of Shava’s bhangra effort. The running order for tonight’s show is unknown, and televotes count for 90% of the points total. You won’t find a national final with a more different set of possible outcomes, and it’s worth watching for this fact alone.

I can’t find a standout in the Hungarian or Moldovan finals, and these hold less interest for me as a result. In Slovenia the early hype has been for Maraaya who channels Paloma Faith in the pleasant ‘Here For You‘. Meanwhile in Sweden all eyes are on the pimp slot again for the return of local heart-throb Mans Zelmerlow.

We’ve had four songs selected since our last update. Stig and Elina duly hosed up in Estonia with ‘Goodbye To Yesterday‘ and remain second favourites for this year’s title. I think it’s comfortably the best three-minute pop song chosen so far: a beautifully orchestrated number, retro in a contemporary way, that wouldn’t be out of place on MTV. The Estonians agreed, giving it a landslide televote win beyond that achieved in 2012 and 2009 by entries that both went on to finish sixth at Eurovision.

The pair received a lot of criticism for their static, backs-to-each-other staging in the semis, but they showed willingness to address it in the final, where there was development, plus eye contact – with each other and to camera. It wasn’t perfect, and vocally they seemed less assured than in the semis, but it was encouraging and they’ve promised to continue to work on it.

If there’s a criticism I would make of its chances in Vienna, it’s that ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ may lack a USP that often gives the edge to an eventual winner. But this is a contest that, thanks to the growing powers of juries and producers, increasingly favours well-written, contemporary, accessible pop like this. A year ago I wrote about the Hungarian song ‘Running’ in similar terms before its respectable fifth in Copenhagen. That’s a case in point; and I thus put Estonia in the “contender” pile.

Some in our comments section, including eurovicious, have expressed their preference for the more obvious chemistry shown by Monika and Vaidas in Lithuania’s entry, ‘This Time‘. I have to admit that the pairing do light up the stage – it’s Lithuania’s best entry for years, and this feelgood, middle-of-the-road entry should comfortably get them to the final.

I’m not quite sure what happens to ‘This Time’ once it gets there. As a song, I think it’s easily inferior to ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’. With its jangly guitar backing and nice build to an underwhelming chorus, it reminds me a little of Malta’s ‘Coming Home’ from last year, the bonhomie of which didn’t set the final scoreboard alight. But Monika and Vaidas do take the package to a higher level in the way they sell this song, and I wouldn’t rule out a respectable finish as a result.

Latvia’s winning act Aminata offers us something different and intriguing. ‘Love Injected‘ is a vocally-driven piece of minimalist electropop. It’s grown on me a great deal, but I find it hard to assess its chances for May. The cynic in me suggests it’s too offbeat and disjointed to gain enough traction for a ‘Suus’-style result after one listen, but those very points also give it a USP, which is sorely lacking from the other entries selected so far. I have to stay open-minded on this one and wait till rehearsals.

Ireland’s Eurosong never fails to entertain in its inimitable way and last night’s event was no exception. I think Molly Sterling’s ‘Playing With Numbers‘ was the only sensible choice, by process of elimination. It’s a rather meandering though contemporary ballad, lacking enough melody in its chorus. But whilst the 16-year-old needs to work on her performing skills, Molly’s voice does give it a sense of colour and authenticity. She’s not got an easy job in the first half of the second semi-final, but I wouldn’t rule out jury-aided qualification.

Let us know your thoughts on all these entries – and subsequent developments this week – below.

46 comments to Eurovision 2015: Feb 28 Update

  • chewy wesker

    If Pertti kurikan nimipaivat win tonight I think there could well be a run on Finlands price, and we could well see this challenge for favorite position.This imo is finlands best act to fight it out for eurovision glory on may 23rd, and If Satin Circus win I think you’ll have punters wondering and perplexed on how it will be performed live on the night. Even though crossroads is a good song with a kinda Owl City vibe, I wasn’t too impress with their live performance on UMK and I don’t think finland should send them to Eurovision tonight.
    Estonia have, by far the best song “Goodbye to yesterday”is great modern pop song, but again vocals have been a bit of a let down, and watching Elina singing “skyfall” and other such songs on youtube, well you can see there is a weakness with her vocals. Elina & Stig do have a kinda adult sexy bed sheet chemistry between them, but I must say I much prefer Monika & Vaidas with their playful innocent charm, giving “This Time” a real feel good factor. This is something Lithuania are good at and you see it from time to time with their acts, Andrius Pojavis “Something” springs to mind. I’ll be watching this one closely for qualification in their semi and backing it accordingly. Aminata “Love Injected” is another one that made my ears prick up, and we could well see momentum getting behind her over the next few weeks, and there may well be value to be had on her. Good Luck to all Sofabet punters with bets outstanding tonight.

    • Finland: I don’t this this is a winner because I think song and performance still count for a huge amount. A group with learning difficulties whose song and performance were genuinely great? I’d suggest backing them all the way to the top. But that song and performance? People “getting” it and investing in the narrative depends entirely on how their national commentator introduces it and whether they happen to be listening/concentrating at the time. Because the number itself is absolutely awful. I have concerns about their agency – and how convenient it is that their song is punk (unusually slow punk, and only 2 minutes), the one genre that requires no skill to perform. And while their narrative and domestic media coverage may have propelled them to victory in Finland, I severely doubt that happening continent-wide. Unless people are paying attention when the commentator is explaining the context, they’re gonna be like “what’s this shit”? With Conchita and the Babushki the context was self-evident, and the songs and performances were charismatic, incredibly engaging and told their own story. I actually find the praise surrounding PKN really patronising and condescending to people with learning difficulties, who when submitting themselves (or being submitted) in arenas like this, should be judged on skill like the rest of us – as in the case of the wonderful Susan Boyle, who has great skill and interprets songs masterfully and with such feeling (even if Syco overproduces her albums), and whose learning difficulties are more severe than I think people sometimes realise. For neurotypical viewers to fawn over PKN solely because of their disability is an insult to all the learning-disabled people with genuine skills and talents trying to get a break. PKN not only could literally have sent anything and won the NF, they did – it’s hard to imagine a less musical song and performance.

      It’s still better than what Hungary picked though. Insultingly facile world peace songs have been a staple of NFs from Vilnius to Valetta since time immemorial – I’ve certainly suffered through far more than my fair share of them since I started watching NFs in 2007 – but they never normally win. I reckon this won in Hungary because of Putin smashing up nextdoor’s house. If “Boggie” feels so strongly about “wars for nothing” she should helmet up and go help defend Mariupol, rather than capitalise on other people’s misery by singing a facile and terribly written anti-war song that has no heart and will change nothing. It’s cheap cynical narcissism and Eurovision is not Miss World.

      Moldova: everyone, including people I trust who would know about these things, is convinced his people bought televotes and bought the jury. He’s a Ukrainian singer not known in Moldova and the song is straight outta 1998, clothes and dancing likewise. I’m gonna nip down Woolworths and get the CD single, I heard there’s a scratch-and-sniff edition with a free badge.

      Slovenia picked something good. Hooray! I think they should lose the violin-mime and the headphones (fake DJ shtick is always cringy, whether No Dream Impossible or Romania 2003 or this) but it’s strong. Though not a winner I feel.

      Looking at the lineup for semi 1 so far and thinking “why do I have a ticket for this?”. Looking at the lineup for semi 2 so far and thinking it’s a fair bit stronger, even at this early stage. It’s so weird that this always happens. God is in everything y’all. Thank Christ for the Baltics.

      • Eduard Romanyuta from Ukr..err..err…Moldova will be fighting it out with Lisa Angell from France to win the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest.

      • SirMills

        I so agree with this. The Finnish result is not only an insult to the competition but more an insult to disabled people in general. They are being treated like circus monkeys: “See that monkeys can ride a bicycle that’s funny, I wan’t to feed that monkey to show the world how good I am”. Those fine gentlemen are real people and their talent should be judged on that ground alone.

  • Boki

    If someone would ask me to describe Finland’s chances this year in 3 words my answer would be: lay lay lay.

  • PurpleKylie

    People need to calm down about PKN in Finland, I appreciate their punk DIY attitude but as a fan of old-school punk myself I find it a bad example of the genre. They’re clearly not going to win so people suggesting so need to calm down, they’re simply the Babushki of this year, they’ll eat up all the pre-contest publicity and end up 12th in the final or something.

    I like Slovenia and Hungary (sorry EV), I get what he means about the cynicism of the whole thing, but all peace songs have a sense of cynicism to it and as a usual hater of Eurovision peace ballads I find it more palatable as a song than for example What If from 2013 which I feel was tons more cynical and insincere in its approach, not that I’m trying to argue that Hungary’s song is incredibly sincere of course, that’s up to debate.

    And Moldova… well, I think we’ve found our first certain non qualifier this year. Juries will kill it and I would say it’s pretty low down the pecking order of the ex Soviet vote, you assume that the likes of Russia and Armenia will swallow up the majority of those neighbourly votes.

  • PurpleKylie

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that I thought Måns’ song was uber meh. Clear case of style over substance. If it wins MF it won’t be because of that song. Also his terrible attempt at a Southern drawl at the beginning was the worst attempt at that accent I’ve heard since Iggy Azealia.

    And France’s live performance has done nothing to convince me this ain’t finishing bottom 5, she sounded fine but looked rough and had zero charisma.

  • Henry VIII

    They’re professional musicians who do concerts. Have you considered the possibility that people like their music? I do. I preferred it to all the others in UMK and would have voted for it.

    • Henry VIII

      * that was a reply to SirMills

    • SirMills

      No, to be honest I have never considered the possibility that people in general like their music. Would you have voted for them if they would not have been disabled?

      • Henry VIII

        That’s a good point, it wouldn’t have been so interesting/inspiring for me, but isn’t that the same situation as a lot of people felt about Conchita?

        Although I do like the song on its own and UMK was poor so I’d have still wanted it to win.

  • I don’t want to get too idealistic about PKN winning in Finland. As a man with a learning disability myself, I’d be lying if I said I felt patronised or offended by their victory, (only my ears are!) At the moment, I’m thinking it’s sort of an Axel Hirsoux in that the backstory won’t carry over to the Eurovision stage after there was so much hype about it in the NF, but then again PKN’s “backstory” is there for everyone to see. This is where it becomes somewhere in between an Axel and a Conchita. Axel’s backstory wasn’t entirely clear to a European audience, despite the power of the song. Conchita’s was not only clear, but it was entertaining, and the song was (eventually) made of winner ingredients. PKN are somewhere in between. They have a clear backstory with a crap song. It sort of fails to live up to the stereotypical narrative in that way.

    Let’s see if the song is lengthened at all (god help us) to be more in line with the others and if they change anything between now and mid-March. It’s YLE’s job now to play the best game with the hand they’ve been dealt, and I expect they’ll make every effort to put the band across as likeable. This most certainly isn’t winning Eurovision, and it is a pretty golden opportunity to lay for those who don’t mind living without the liabilities for a while. Logic says this should crash out in the semi final, but it might sneak through as a joker in the pack.

    • Henry VIII

      Ben if you say “This most certainly isn’t winning Eurovision” you have to explain why the Finnish public and judges are so different from the European ones? As it got 36% out of 9 and came 3rd with the judges.

      • SirMills

        Joint 3-4 in a jury that was not made up of music professionals just normal people that had no professional credibility to protect.

        • Henry VIII

          I know but I don’t know if they were told to think about song quality as objectively as they could or not. Also it was a new situation for them and they may have felt even less independent than music industry juries.

          It’s an interesting one. All we know is that they did behave differently from the normal public.

      • Henry, that’s simple. PKN’s backstory and song stood out among a crowd with no other clear winner. Eurovision itself will not be the same crowd, and their song will appear far weaker there.

    • Ron

      PKN would have won the Finish final with a margin of only 2% over Satin Circus had the jury vote counted for 50 percent instead of 10. Combining jury and voter rankings, Satin Circus would have been the winner. I expect the Eurovision voting sytem will heavily reduce PKN’s chances for victory and expect a result similar to what happened to Poland last year (14th place): strong voter appeal but not enough jury support.

  • Ron

    I quess the mystery of the Spanish entry has ended. Not a bad song, but also not an obvious winner.

  • Boki

    Disabled or not, it’s a low quality entry in every aspect and should be treated as such. Can’t believe you guys are wasting time discussing the possibility of winning.

  • Ron

    Laying Spain is possible at this very moment at a liabity of 990. Thats what hypes are for.

  • I think the sharp increase in Spain’s price after this morning’s reveal is a bit of an overreaction and I strongly believe it would not have happened if they released the full music video at the same time. Eurofans typically react when a song is aurally strong, or if the videoclip emphasises on the drama. Amanecer might not be this giant pop fury some of us expected but it’s by no means bad, and I think it’s over priced at the moment. I mean the staging potential is enormous.

  • Tom Ato

    This post is pure speculation but if The Veronicas are selected to represent Australia I think they’ll do this song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoLWp4mXMeE

    Their odds to represent Australia has shortened, they are now joint 3rd favourites. I like the song and the message, suits Eurovision. Just to reaffirm this is a speculative post, I have been digging on Facebook and just relaying to you guys what I gathered from Australian fans.

  • Some recommended reading:
    http://escxtra.com/2015/03/02/i-stand-behind-pkn-shame-about-their-song/

    “If we, Eurovision fans, claim that Eurovision is the contest for all European music, who are we to say that a genre doesn’t have a place in Eurovision? Clearly, the open minded Eurovision community is only open minded to things that can benefit their own cause? […] I just don’t get how the exact same people who attacked people for disliking Conchita Wurst’s appearance are now the same people who say Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät shouldn’t be allowed in Eurovision.”

    Best Eurovision-related paragraph I’ve read in years. The same applies to Australia’s participation.

  • Tom Ato

    Today’s odds for the Australian representive suggest either Guy Sebastian, Dami Im or Jessica Mauboy.

    I really like Slovenia, one of my favourites so far:

  • sonovox

    Those three are all Australian Idol and X Factor alumni.

    I’d really like to see Dami Im chosen. Tina Arena could be another possibility, though in my view would be a misjudgment.

  • sonovox

    Guy is choosing between two ballads, according to his press conference.

    This is because he thinks the contest will be packed with uptempo numbers, so a ballad will stand out.

    Good job Guy – clearly on top of what’s happened so far in 2015.

    • Panic over, Australia isn’t winning Eurovision this year. But a couple of the ballads on Guy’s album are quite good, so a potential Top 10 should be possible. He’s also a very strong vocalist.

  • sonovox

    He power-balladed his way to Idol victory in its very first series, turning around his fortunes with a ‘Climb Every Mountain’ cover, of all things. That was long ago, of course, but he can certainly sing the hell out of the right song. In a ballad-light year, I’d fancy him to stand out a bit. In this field, not so sure. It’ll want to be a strong song above and beyond the vocal pyro.

  • Guy is an interesting choice – but a bit daft to just take an artist without a song, especially if it’s your one and only participation.

  • Tom Ato

    Early indication is that Guy will be singing a ballad possibly from his latest album. Well I’ve listened to it and there’s nothing great on there, no oomph! whatsoever. For early Australia backers the fact they haven’t got a song yet is maybe a positive thing, perhaps they realise the above and hopefully work hard on finding a killer song.

    If they do go down his album route then this is probbaly the best of the lot. Will need cutting down.

  • Henry VIII

    Amazing scenes, to quote Daniel’s tweet: “Hold the front page, Kummert has offered the Vienna ticket to runner-up Ann Sophie.” And she’s accepted.

    Disgraceful of the crowd to boo. She was second after all (with a better over all package than him imo). Shame about Frozen Silence.

  • Emre

    Hello. Hey, Anyone listened Mans Zelmerlow’ Heroes? After he wins Melodifestivalen, Sweden odds will drop dramatically. His song is best in contest, his animation show also very good. He is handsome, cute boy like A. Rybak, not to mention Sweden’s televoting power (neighbors).

    Estonia’s song is nice but Estonia’s televoting power is very poor. And Il Volo, why this song is so favourite? It will end up like Songu.

  • Estonia’s odds crashing – down to 4 on Betfair from 9 a day ago. Any news?

  • Emre

    Probably, because of its Itunes Chart performance. But this song is doomed to end up like Commen Linets. Many likes, many views but 2nd place.

    Italy is so overrated btw. Wtf, why it’s favourite so much? It will end up like Songu.

    • But has it even charted anywhere outside of Estonia?

    • PurpleKylie

      I don’t think Estonia will be as high as TCL managed, their performance doesn’t have the same “wow” factor that the Dutch did.

      Me and a friend of mine showed the selected songs so far to our parents, and my dad and his mother weren’t keen on either Estonia or Italy, not that I think that our parents are representative of the general European audience (my dad doesn’t even LIVE in Europe), but if “casual” viewers have similar reactions, then I really think those two songs aren’t gonna do as well as punters and fans say they will.

  • jimske

    Wow i really like Slovenia’s entry this year!!! this has huge potential.. if they get the staging right…

  • Emre

    Oh my god! Guys, did you listened Slovenia? Sounds very good. Won’t be surprised if Sovenia odds drop below 10 thru the final. My picks are Finland, Swed and Slovenia for now.

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