Eurovision 2015: Warriors for Nothing

Last time we looked at this year’s duets – this week we’re looking at the gals. Time to enter the snoozedrome…

As I commence writing this article, having only listened to most of this year’s songs once or twice, I have absolutely no idea how the entries from Greece, Netherlands, Albania, Georgia, Hungary, Russia, Ireland, Portugal, Iceland, Poland and France go, despite the fact I watched them all with my undivided attention (more than many viewers will do on the night) when they were selected or unveiled. Switzerland, Germany and Latvia also went in one ear and out the other upon first listen, and I can only remember them now due to having seen them a couple more times than the others.

The only female solo entries this year I was able to partly remember after the first listen were Malta (the chorus with its “warrior” hook), Spain (the chorus with its “ee-ay-ee-ay” hook), and Serbia (the chorus, plus the final 80 seconds that rocket-propel it out of ballad territory). That’s 3 songs out of 17. I doubt this euroamnesia is just me – the bulk of these songs simply aren’t designed to be memorable or stand out, and are thus failing the one-listen test (not to mention the one-minute test) en masse. Ladies, this does not augur well.

Here’s where I have to bestow some reluctant praise on Gravity and Undo, the third-placed female ballads from the past two contests. They’re both immediately memorable on account of their extremely facile, ditty-like nature – little more than simple musical memes. After hearing both for the first time, it was precisely because I could and did remember them that I didn’t want to listen to them again. Undo hammers its chorus home in true Fredrik Kempe style without even a proper bridge between the second and third chorus-repeat, while Gravity similarly repeats its primary motif ad nauseum with even less in the way of conventional pop-song structure. If their simultaneous strength and weakness is a narrow focus on a central musical motif – ensuring they attain memorability at the expense of being well-rounded songs – this year’s ballads are largely the opposite, lacking strong motifs while obeying conventional structure. It’s like the God of Eurovision took some shelved Hilary Duff album from 2004 and distributed the tracks equally among a dozen countries.

As such, to stand remotely a chance, what they lack musically they’re going to have to make up in presentation and message. A couple of songs already have a built-in motif or potential motif here – if I say “the wheelchair one”, “the fat one”, perhaps “the piano one” or maybe even “the anti-war one”, just as viewers at home will on the night (political correctness does not apply in living rooms), you instantly know which song I’m referring to and should be able to recall it visually if not necessarily musically. The meme is the message: you remember Miley Cyrus’s tongue as a branding tool even if you don’t remember the song escaping her piehole at the same time. In a contest like Eurovision, all the more so in an unusually homogenous year, this kind of positioning and storytelling goes a long way – so the countries whose entries fail the one-listen test need to think about this if they hope to grace the left-hand side of the scoreboard come May 23.

Right. Now I’ve sat down with a cup of tea and listened to all of this year’s female solo entries again, this is what I think:

Greece’s One Last Breath (shoulda brought yer inhaler, lass) is competent but incredibly generic, like much of the lineup; there’s little emotional affect, but the song and its presentation feel marginally more relevant than can be said of some of its stablemates. Add jury and diaspora to that and Greece should do alright, though the first-half draw in its semi between highly memorable entries from Finland and Estonia doesn’t serve it well. Assuming it does make the final as Greece is wont to do (though rules are there to be broken), this absolutely doesn’t feel like top 10 fare – not least given that I’ve already forgotten how it goes again in the hour or so between listening to it and starting to write this.

Forgettable as it may be, it’s still considerably better than the Netherlands’ slice of dated radio-pop. While Walk Along’s remarkably poor chorus does employ a repetitive motif (“ay-ay-ay-ay”), normally a boon in terms of memorability, it’s one that shoots the song in the foot by virtue of being both unemotional and actively irritating. There’s no sense of relevance here, and nothing for viewers to empathise or engage with – combined with a first-half draw, this seems like a recipe for non-qualification.

Albania’s offering is contemporary, but still feels too generic and too much like a filler track on a 2003 Kelly Rowland album – and although its late draw should help it, in the short time between watching it and penning this, I’ve forgotten it again. A late semi draw helps it, yet I’d argue 4 of the final 6 in its semi are stronger than it, though I’d still guess it’s more likely to qualify than not. I much prefer Nina Sublatti’s entry for Georgia, which closes out the first semifinal and which I haven’t forgotten: Warrior has much more edge and character than many of its anodyne competitors, and I absolutely wouldn’t rule out a top 10 finish for this in the final. While the song doesn’t quite hit it out of the park, there’s simply more to get your teeth stuck into here than in many a case this year. The striking and artful video shows there’s real creative vision on board, and teases the potential for great staging – something Georgia has a strong track record in at Eurovision and in its national finals. Sailing through from its semi.

From Nina Warrior Princess now to Boggie, our soporific pixie peace girl. If Hungary is able to reproduce the convincing pseudosincerity of the song’s official video – an acoustic performance on a Budapest square, which passers-by “spontaneously” join in with – could this be the Ein bißchen Frieden of our Putin-addled times? I don’t think so, because the tune isn’t strong enough: it’s totally unmemorable and so laid back it’s asleep, plus in a field of similar female ballads I’m not convinced people will even register the thematic content that supposedly distinguishes it from its rivals. Kedvesem and Calm After The Storm were very laid-back too, but both genuinely rousing and spirit-lifting with a strong, warm melody (ditto Ein bißchen Frieden); by contrast, Wars For Nothing is a hookless and directionless musical murmur. Qualification from its weak semi (I anticipate) then bottom half of the right-hand side in the final (I hope).

Equally cynical yet with opposite underlying motives is Russia’s slick piece of fascist art, a banal “together we are one” squirt of musical whitening-toothpaste that’s exactly what Nazi Germany would send to Eurovision if it still existed, that we can probably expect to do as well as Russia did the past two years, but that I think is too generic, dated and transparently cynical to truly excel or trouble the top 3. Of course it’s qualifying.

I love eurodance, so for me the most invigorating 80 seconds of music in Eurovision 2015 come courtesy of Serbia’s ballad-to-banger delight, though it’s a piece that certainly won’t be to all tastes – I’m aware that my connection with it is very specific and rooted in my love of the melange of tropes it knowingly employs and its wonderfully shameless musical coming-out moment halfway in, when Bojana’s veil of shame is torn off by her bevy of bare-chested boyz. While the English lyrics to Beauty Never Lies are slightly awkward and unclear, not always scanning as well as they should, I think ditching Serbian to turn the entry into a message song – Eurovision’s first-ever body image self-empowerment anthem – was the smart choice. There’s a strong USP here that I think many people will connect to and many others be repelled by; I expect the song to qualify from its position in the middle of the second semifinal, and I definitely don’t class it in the “dour ballads by fat people” category alongside recent non-qualifiers Axel and Moran Mazor as some have done. A Je ne sais quoi-level result in the final is realistic, possibly higher if the entry is well-received.

But I suspect the key to audiences identifying with the perfomers of message songs is an element of credibility and dignity – Conchita won with Rise Like A Phoenix where more frivolous drag queens with sillier songs had failed before her (and Wurst likely wouldn’t have won with That’s What I Am either). Imagine Bojana singing a serious, uplifting, Conchita- or Chiara-style power ballad about body image, then compare it to Beauty Never Lies: the former would almost certainly do better. For me, Bojana’s eurodance extravaganza extraordinaire is precisely the attraction, but I think for many viewers it may represent too much excess and be perceived as a negative in the way that the final minute of Crisalide was by many fans including myself. Staging idea: project a smaller Bojana onto the sheet of shame for added Russian-doll effect.

Over to the second semifinal now: Ireland’s entry is respectable, but saying it hardly grabs you is an understatement given my inability to remember it just an hour after watching it for the second time. In its favour, we’ve seen repeatedly in recent years that onstage piano-playing is catnip to juries, as long as said piano isn’t circular and worn around the head like a toilet seat. In terms of the song, I struggle to see any relevance or point of emotional connection here for viewers, and its draw – 2nd out of 17 entries – is dire. Also in the first half and even more likely to be perceived as irrelevant then immediately mentally deleted by viewers is Portugal’s anaemic euroballad, which is additionally hampered by a language barrier.

Aminata’s song for Latvia is audacious and has good musical ideas at its core, but comes over as shouty and disjointed rather than artful and emotive upon first listen. The country’s recent qualification record is poor, and while this entry may tick more of the right boxes than anything they’ve sent in the past few years, I wouldn’t risk backing it given its draw in the middle of the show. I admire Love Injected more than I like it; it’s a sort of difficult post-dubstep lovechild of Suus and Bleeding Love but without the power, pull and immediacy of either, and I suspect it won’t travel.

As good as its darker Georgian namesake in its own way, Malta’s Warrior is engaging and well-constructed, with a memorable and effective chorus, and genuinely grows and develops from start to finish more than most of its rivals. It’s reasonably emotive and I like it a lot, but I’m concerned it won’t quite stand out enough in this year’s crowded field despite its quality, or be staged impressively enough. It should make the final despite a not-great draw of 5th in its semi, but I don’t realistically see it troubling the left-hand side of the scoreboard if and when it gets there.

For this year’s Eurovision, Iceland – land of Sigur Ros, Haffi Haff and John Grant – has seen fit to half-heartedly shart a bright-eyed-yet-brainless piece of sub-Vanessa Hudgens gubbins in the continent’s general direction. (Can you tell I don’t like this?) Unbroken has a superficially helpful draw in the final 6 of the second semifinal, but shares this space uncomfortably with 5 superior songs, which doesn’t augur well for it. It’s incredibly lightweight and insubstantial without being fun either, and each of the 5 entries that follow it offers a much stronger package.

“Look! She’s totally in a wheelchair!” screams the reveal-moment of Poland’s music video, creating an empathy-engendering narrative out of Monika’s disability while staying just on the right side of tasteful. Whether and how this will translate to the stage is another question – could they get away with only showing Monika’s face and upper body for most of the song, then pulling back to reveal the wheelchair in the final minute? It’d be audacious, and create more of a narrative and emotional touchpoint for viewers than either showing the singer in her wheelchair from the start or disguising her disability completely. As for the song, this is a more nuanced, graceful and accomplished ballad than most of this year’s, yet after three listens in total now, I still can’t remember how it goes despite my admiration for it. I think Betfair should open a market for whether Il Volo will bribe her to run over Måns Zelmerlöw’s feet the night before the final. Qualifying.

Switzerland’s Time To Shine has character and mood, an atmospheric arrangement, and an alluring darkness that’s successfully established in the verse before being overcome in the effective chorus and further over the course of the song. As proven by her cover of Chandelier in the Swiss national final, Melanie Rene is an extraordinary vocalist, and to elevate this good-but-not-quite-great song in Vienna, she needs to improvise more and bring out the big go-for-broke vocals in the final minute, as can be heard in the revamped studio version of the song but even more so. The favourable draw and a strong performance appealing to juries and viewers alike should hopefully see it through to the final, where I wouldn’t rule out a left-hand-side appearance.

Moving on to the autoqualifiers, I like Lisa Angell’s number for France, but I’m an old-schooler who generally likes Francophone ballads in Eurovision, and they just don’t translate to votes in the 21st-century contest. Aside from occasional upbeat exceptions like Profil, Les Fatals Picards, Jessy Matador and Twin Twin, France has been sending iterations of the same ballad to the contest for decades now, because it’s what the country does well – but if Europe didn’t bite for Louisa Baïleche, Virginie Pouchain, Amandine Bourgeois or Patricia Kaas (who came 17th with televoters and thus wouldn’t have made the top 10 under today’s combined ranking system), it won’t bite for this. I think N’oubliez pas is great, but it faces a language barrier, is wrong for the modern contest, and offers nothing new and no point of connection for viewers.

Spain is the strongest of this year’s female ballads for my money, but like France, there’s the considerable factor of the language barrier. Amanecer is better than Dancing In The Rain, more contemporary and nuanced than Quedate Conmigo, and gloriously arranged and orchestrated – not to mention emotive and memorable, exactly the qualities missing in most of the songs discussed above. The music communicates relevance and dynamism to me, but not speaking Spanish, I’ve no idea what the song’s about, so whether it can travel in May is questionable. It’s fair to expect reasonable jury support, but I absolutely wouldn’t bank on a top 10 finish given Spain’s poor televote showing in 2012 and 2014.

There’s a likeability, maturity and competence to Germany’s singer Ann Sophie, and this song is fine, but is it anything more than fine? I’d hope that Black Smoke finishes anywhere between Roman Lob’s result in 2012 and Elaiza’s last year; I can’t see it doing much better than that, and unless it flies totally under the radar it shouldn’t do much worse either. It’s accessible and respectable, easy on the ear, but I think it’s too much of a musical latte macchiato to truly stand out. And of course, it didn’t win its own national final, despite Ann Sophie benefiting from the newcomer narrative that swept Elaiza to domestic victory last year.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.

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92 comments to Eurovision 2015: Warriors for Nothing

  • Michael Jaker

    You hit the nail on the head again here. Another great article.

    This, for me, is the key:

    “incredibly lightweight and insubstantial without being fun either”
    “unemotional and actively irritating” etc.

    Basically, most of these are Songs For Nothing. They don’t seem to want to communicate any emotion, any hook, anything a viewer can grab hold of. Unmemorable + unemotional = pretty much the worse kind of ESC entry there can be.

    P.S. Portugal is definitely not a ballad by any definition. Guitar driven mid-tempo more like.

  • Chris Bellis

    Very good and entertaining article. I like the correct use of “affect” too, meaning “relating to emotion”. We don’t see that often on internet boards. I agree with all the assessments. Spain has the best song, but although I do speak Spanish, members of my family don’t. I like it, they don’t. I agree about France. If Patricia Kaas can’t win, then this won’t. Shame, because like EV, I love French music like this. Mylene Farmer is one of my all time favourites. Iceland might surprise though, although I too find it bland. Like EV, I think the Russian entry is just too much. I am a Russophile in many things, but I hope this cynical entry doesn’t do as well as people are saying it will. As I am typing this I am trying to recall the songs, but only the Spanish and Georgian ones are in my head. (And unfortunately the sodding Russian one) The others (not female solos) that have stuck are Finland, Estonia, Norway, Slovenia, and of course, Sweden.I can’t remember any of the others despite listening to them umpteen times. I’m totally blanked on Australia for example. So my money’s still on Sweden, Slovenia and Norway. UK well laid. If Estonia can manage to do a good live performance, some money will be going on them too, but I have been bitten before so I’m wary. Russia will probably do well but I can’t bring myself to put money on them. I might change my mind after the rehearsals.

  • Okay, I know as a (sort of) duet, this probably belongs on last week’s thread, but can people please tell me what they are seeing in Slovenia is a contender? I agree it’s a good song with lots of radio potential, but the staging from EMA is so terrible and they have insinutated that it won’t be changing much.

    Headphones are a branding tool for Maraaya, and the air violinist is closer to cerebral palsy than a memorable stage gimmick. The camerawork is oversimplified and jarring, the styling is a mismatch. There’s no movement or connection between the three performers, (and more anecdotally, my Mum gave the EMA performance a big thumbs down,) so what exactly is justifying these unbelievable odds of 20s considering more than half of this year’s field are in three figures?

    • chewy wesker

      Look Ben don’t muck about and just tell us what your mum (i.e. The Oracle) thinks will win this year.

    • Chris Bellis

      My mum is long gone but my mum-in-law likes San Marino. Enough said about mums I think.

      • My best friend’s mum (an old-school German schlager fan) loved Gisela’s Casanova and Charlotte Perrelli’s Hero when we watched the semis at her house in 2008. Whereas in 2014 my mum (who doesn’t have sophisticated musical tastes either) spontaneously voted for Austria and the Netherlands despite not having heard the songs or discussed them with me in advance. Weirdly, both our mums liked Poland in 2007 (the one with the cage dancer!) on account of it being lively/colourful. I guess it shows the mum test can go pretty much any way.

    • Chris Bellis

      Ben – all the women and their friends that I know like the Slovenia entry. They say it sounds nothing like a Eurovision song, it sounds like a proper pop song. I offer no criticism, but I’ve put my money on that premise. But not too much money!

      • That’s a good enough reason for me, although I didn’t need telling that. Depends whether your friends listened to it or watched it. My Mum watched it. I can see however that the slightest mention is beginning to annoy some people though so I’ll keep shtum.

        The reason its annoying is because the spontaneous, almost thoughtless reaction that EV described with his Mum instantly and inexplicably trounces all the analysis we can possibly do every time. All these articles and comments, they’re for us to try and claw our way back to the non-fan position because we’ve gotten too close to it either as fans or value seekers. There’d be no need to follow NF season if we weren’t either of these things. I trust my Mum because as soon as she saw Emmelie, she texted me and said “that’s the winner.” Ditto Conchita. I replied with basic “here’s why it won’t win” thoughts only to end the night with egg on my face. My Mum didn’t need to see the rest. When the anchor’s down, it’s down. Mummy knows best. 🙂

        • chewy wesker

          I have bigger green on Slovenia than Sweden, only because everyone hates the staging. If there were more fans of the headphones I’d have much more confidence in Maraaya for the win. The wider appeal seems to be for Sweden but I’ll check out what’s been said on mumsnet before I stake any more money on them. 😉

          • I’m nothing if not a man of my word. In the interest of discretion I would not like to name the country, but I will tell you that my Mum said, in her words, “it will win because it’s a class act, it doesn’t have that Eurovisionny boring-ness to it.” That’s really the best I can do short of uploading a YouTube video of my Mum addressing the good people of this site like date-stamped evidence of a prediction just so you know I’m not BSing.

            You can make fun of me now, but all I, or anyone else can do, is use what we have at our disposal based on our own previous experiences of trying to win at this. If you want to go on believing you can analyse your way to a winner more consistently and accurately than casual intuition, that’s entirely up to you. What I’ve been doing hasn’t quite worked in the last two years, so I’m trying something else. 🙂

  • Tim B

    Hi eurovicious, I have to respectfully disagree on Iceland. I think it’s a perfectly competent, inoffensive contemporary song with a definite Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibe. To me it sounds very Demi Lovato ‘Let It Go’, to the extent that it could’ve been the follow up single. Someone on Betfair seems very confident on its chances of doing well, trying to back it at 3.0 for Top 10 for a few hundred quid. While I personally prefer the Swiss entry, I’d be amazed if it did better than Iceland in that part of the semi.

    • I’m with Tim here on most points. In my annual big write-up of notes that I’ve been doing for the last 3 years, I’ve isolated two different ways of looking at the Icelandic entry, and it simply depends on which of them ends up being correct.

      On the upside, the cute princess box gets a big tick here, which is a package with a strong track record at recent contests. Its repetitiveness serves it well to have a Kuula/Always sing-along factor which helps it to be memorable.

      On the downside, such a repetitive song with a voice that Maria struggles to control at times, sandwiched in between Sweden and Azerbaijan, plus Iceland’s great qualification record does make this entry very disposable.

      Iceland seem to be in danger of breaking their streak every year, but somehow they always pull through. This will either be the last stroke before a big rethink of Songvakeppnin is needed, or it will break the 15th place ceiling. Gun to my head, I’ll go with the latter.

  • “as long as said piano isn’t circular and worn around the head like a toilet seat.” – thanks a lot, just spat out coffee all over my desk! lol

  • Daniel, just a suggestion I’ve head for some pre-rehearsal article material if you have the time.

    Rather than a lengthy straightforward analysis of contenders, why not choose two or three songs with any perceived remote chance of winning, regardless of their position in the market (owing to how last year turned out) and simply make a case for why they will win or do well, and why they won’t, no matter how implausible the argument may seem. Then, leave it up to the reader to add their thoughts in the same format and decide which sounds more likely to happen. This is sort of what I’ve done with my comments on Iceland above, and I find it really helps to clear the fog.

  • Durhamborn

    I think the fact very little sticks in the memory shows that staging and delivery are going to be key this year.The likes of Albania cant be judged on the song alone.Elhaida is a big stage vocalist.She was incredible at times on The Voice Italy.Key for her is showing her huge vocal power during the refrain.If she does she will connect with the televoters,if not she wont.Latvia hangs on staging to cover the disjointed bridges and lead people to the glorious uplands of the chorus.Aminata is a top drawer artist,but im worried that the delegation simply give her a front on delivery.If they do she will probably fail.Big potential though for me if staged right.Im very likely this year to avoid the semi’s for betting,or maybe make just a couple of calls and also simply trade the final green to differing amounts and let it run and hope a bigger green takes it.Im struggling at this stage to break things down enough to be more confident at all in doing much else.My biggest green is Belarus.

  • UnCalquera

    My test for memorability is whether I end up humming a song under the shower the next day after sleeping. This year the only songs that achieved it were Latvia, Spain and Sweden, with Latvia being stuck for three days.
    Memorability is important, but ESC is not a song about earworms and voting is (excluding drunkenness) a conscious choice, so I’m not really convinced… in fact, the song I like most (despite failing the shower test) is Lithuania.

  • I think Eurovicious is spot when saying that so few songs this year seem to be memorable. I’ve listened to a run through of songs this year a few times (spaced apart timewise) and on a couple of occasions I thought I’d never heard a song before, only to immediately forget it.
    I don’t see a female solo act making it another winning year, following the previous 3 years. They are all so weak, a lot of them are technically and vocally good (I believe), so its hard to write too many off from qualifying because they should get good jury scores and its really difficult to try and figure out how the jury’s sort them out.

    Only 2 songs really stuck out and it appear I’m in the minority with Russia and Hungary.

  • John

    For female solos, Russia and Slovenia have the edge for me (and seem to be the only top 10 hitters amongst them).

    Georgia, Latvia and Greece have an outside chance of the left hand side, and I would probably give it to Greece going on form alone. At 4/1 they look tempting.

  • I think one has to be careful not to assert any necessary relationship between “memorability” and quality. DENMARK was the song I could not get out of my head on first hearing and I loathed it……like a buzzing fly in the room. Some songs do grow on you….but 9 voters on 10 will be going on one hearing. I still think it’s one of Sweden, Norway, or Estonia.

    • Hi Mark, I agree, hence my point about the Dutch entry’s hook being unemotional and (to me) grating… it can go either way though, I found Grazia’s yodel of the word “hide” irritating in Germany’s 2005 entry, and similarly wasn’t at all keen on Sanna’s warble of the word “undo” in her entry last year, yet one came last and the other third…

  • Is it just me or, going from the video, is Iceland more than a bit of an Emile DeForrest rip off; or am I looking at fit young bird, floaty white dress and bare feet and drawing a simplistic conclusion?

    • On the subject of Emile, this completely slipped my radar – really good follow up single with a video slightly ripped off from Nothing Compares 2 U and the destruction of a perfectly good iPhone. And EDF topless. What’s not to like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EarZE6V28tA

      • Dash Berlin

        There seems no reason why she is half naked the entire video, or lying next to a pool in a bikini

        • There is not. But who cares? She’s moved from the foot fetish market to the tits and wet look fetish market. Talking about my desire to give EDF one doesn’t seem right on a Eurovision chat board though. Acoustic version of Drunk Tonight is much better though, much more raw.

          • I don’t like EDF Energy either.

          • Emmelie’s metamorphosis from a natural and virginal look and persona in Only Teardrops to a more sexualised and adult image in Drunk Tonight and Rainmaker is a standard journey for young female pop stars in Westernised countries. In this article (http://balkanist.net/in-serbia-song-covers-you-restyling-western-hits-for-a-domestic-audience/) I described Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle as “a rite-of-passage song of the type Western audiences have come to expect from young female singers exiting puberty, proclaiming their transition from butter-wouldn’t-melt child star to dead-eyed sex automaton”, and that applies to Drunk Tonight and Miley Cyrus etc too, as well as to a certain degree Taken By A Stranger (which remains classy but represents a great maturing from its predecessor).

  • Another tale of maternal intuition. 2006….was sure Bosnia was gonna walk it and my mother saw a video of all the contenders. Lordi finished their number and she said…”It’s very catchy you know. That one will win.” She was 76 years old. I gave all the reasons why a gimmicky song like this could not possible win……and endured endless “told you so’s” on the night of the final. Pity she is no longer around to offer her advice. I did show my Dad a preview clip of Dana International in 1998 without saying anything about gender assignation and he said that on looks alone “she deserves to win.” When I explained the full tale, he looked a bit sheepish….and shrugged his shoulders

    • I’m not a religious man but – God bless your Mum, Mark.

      • Bless you for that Ben. If only there was a Eurovision hotline from up there…

        • No word of a lie, that kind of intuition is exactly what I’m putting my faith in. We can write as many paragraphs as we like but without knowing it, walk deeper into traps we unknowingly set for ourselves.

          Last year I was quietly watching the Melfest final on a laptop. During Sanna’s performance, my Mum casually strolled past and said “that’ll do well” and there I was staring at my notes that said “bland, very Swedish, underwritten, should come about 12th” or something more convoluted to that effect, and look who turned out to be right. Of course the intuition isn’t Mums only (duh) and I don’t wish to promote some kind of self-defeating gimmick for all the great commentary and insight on this site and others like it, but my Mum has never been wrong about any song I’ve shown her in the 3 years I’ve been trying to make some money on this, so it’s about time I learned my lesson.

          • Please get her to blog here a.s.a.p. ….we need her urgently!! (BTW…I was not a Sanna hater, but I was convinced Hungary’s anti-child abuse number would romp to victory last year. Must check out mumsnet…)

          • SirMills

            Guess the mums test is not accurate everywhere but some mum’s or dad’s or any other individuals for that matter do have a valuable intuition to be trusted. In my case it’s my dad who is always spot on with his favorite entries.

            I started following his intuition in 2011 where Italy was his favorite entry and got some really generous odds on top 4, 2012 it was Albania and again I got great odds on top 10 and closely missed out on top 4, 2013 it was Netherland and my biggest top 10 bet did confidentially hit, though top 4 missed. 2014 it was Netherlands again and I placed bet’s on various markets at unbelievable odds before that amazing staging was relieved. Wow when I am reading this I just realize what a great asset my old man has been.

            Majority of my eurovision profits’s didn’t come from analyzing various subjects regarding Eurovision though that’s something I truly love to do. It simply came from listening to my dad.

          • Donal Ryan

            “No word of a lie, that kind of intuition is exactly what I’m putting my faith in. We can write as many paragraphs as we like but without knowing it, walk deeper into traps we unknowingly set for ourselves.”

            Ben, without doubt this is the most singularly brilliant comment I’ve ever read on one of there forums. Furthermore your mum should be made a national treasure if she’s correct again.

          • Chris Bellis

            Ben – I gave up posting my thoughts about Sweden’s song last year as I saw I was on my own. I quietly made a good profit. As you say, people over- think these things. In every performance I watched Sanna was a true professional, so even though the song wasn’t so brilliant, I knew she’d do well. I did get sucked in by the positive thoughts about Molly so wasted some money on that. I won’t be making that mistake again. So much depends on running order etc that no-one can score 100%. My equivalents of your mum (I discount my mum-in-law, unless you want the nul points bet – she likes the Israeli entry) say Sweden, Slovenia and Estonia.

        • You’re weak, she’s bright…

  • Calling Russia a piece of fascist art is a very fair comment, it’s the song equivalent of the 1936 Olympics, speaking of which reminds me of when another totalitarian regime had a cute girl lipsync their national anthem because they deemed the real singer to “not be cute enough” (that was China in the 2008 Olympics in case anyone forgot), it’s all about trying to present a pristine pearly white image of themselves. But the song is soulless and devoid of real emotion regardless of which country is sending it.

  • My mother successfully called Lordi and Conchita. She also believes Australia will take it.

  • Also I forgot to mention that after showing my dad all the songs, he said Switzerland was his favourite. He said of it: “Very good lyrics,engaging vocals, changed it up with some cool instrumentals.”

    Tbh, I wasn’t expecting this to be the kind of song a middle-aged salsa music-loving Kiwi male who’s only ever watched half a Eurovision to like that kind of song.

    • I’m so glad Switzerland has its fans. It’s my #1 too, but I can see very clearly why it won’t win. I hope it qualifies.

      • It’s your fave, it’s Tim’s fave, it’s Kylie’s dad’s fave, and it’s in my personal top 10 – that has to count for something, because none of the four of us in this tiny sample (balanced for sexuality if not for gender) has typical eurofan tastes. The song does the work and she’s got the voice and is a strong, empathetic performer.

        • I’m cautious, because at the time of the Swiss NF, when it was just a demo, I thought it was dire. It surprised me when it was performed live, but I still didn’t hold out much hope. It wasn’t until someone else’s comments influenced my opinion that it had potential to become the rousing anthemic entry that led me to back Molly so heavily last year, so I grudgingly accepted it onto my radar.

          Since then it’s undergone two transformations. The first a bit more subtle and available on iTunes. The second to be heard in the official Eurovision video. It’s come such a remarkably long way, and I have no idea how much my first impressions still apply. The market has sent it over the ocean’s horizon, so I’ll just assume it might end up like Molly last year, but taste-driven or otherwise, I do still have a niggle in the back of my head.

        • That’s slanderous! ;). Russia is my favourite this year.

  • Oh, and she also loves the UK entry and thinks it’s our best chance yet.

  • chewy wesker

    I’m putting myself up for adoption, what do you say Ben? Or should I say Bro?

  • sonovox

    Interesting stuff today, both article and comments. I’ve not seen through some profitable bets over the last two years because of doubting my intuitions. (And in 2013 I then had to watch as my mate correctly called the whole top 5 after one look at all the entries). Intuition’s also telling me that 2015 ought to be a bit more straightforward than 2013 or 2014, (except for predicting semi Q and NQ, which is pretty much impossible to do confidently because of the Australia vote).

    So I have been more surprised than usual by the divergent opinions on song quality. Personally, Georgia and Iceland are in my overall top 3 in 2015, along with Sweden. I don’t hold out too many hopes for Iceland (and I liked it better in Icelandic), but I think Georgia has the potential to do a Ukraine – decent pre-Christmas selection that gets forgotten in NF season, nicely reworked and then suddenly rediscovered around the end of April with boss staging. I’m liking Russia, Germany, Latvia and Spain, and I think Russia is a probable top 5. (Polina’s supposed live vocal problem amounts to one particular note that’s slightly under in the verses, and getting slightly overexcited towards the end – easily fixed in a couple of ways and really not too serious anyway).

    *Can’t stand* Switzerland – by far my least favourite of these. Since Slovenia’s come up again today too, I remain mystified by love for what I see as an ugly voice coupled with totally desperate staging. I quite like the song now, but for me it was absolutely a grower not a show-er.

    The rest of the female-led songs to me are a sea of beige (and I usually have a bias towards that species of entry).

    Sweden for the win, I say.

  • Tom Ato

    Spain’s first live performance. She sings well but it’s lacking something. Left me feeling less optimistic about it.

    • Tom Ato

      The best part is at 2:10 when she purposely shows some leg. Not because it’s sexy, but because it’s funny the way she does it.

    • Oh dear, she repeatedly failed to hit the same note of the chorus every time, at the ‘mi corazon’ part. That’s a concern going forward. I feel like she’s putting too much into the verses as well, no contrast or gusto to distinguish the chorus. This isn’t going to challenge for the win in this state.

      • sonovox

        I suspect she’s still deciding whether to sing that note in chest voice or head voice. If you listen, you can hear that she uses chest voice for the first occurrence in each chorus, and that’s the one that’s flat. The immediate follow-ups are always in head voice and are much more on the note.

        So the note being off is not that surprising, as it’s a C#, which is really pushing it to control in chest voice for most female singers, especially in a leaping phrase, but comfortable in head voice. What would be a surprise to me is if she *kept* doing it in chest voice from now on, risking the audible flatness.

        She obviously wants chest voice ideally because it preserves the vocal colour of the entire phrase/chorus and is more exciting and dramatic in that range for the listener (as you can hear, the head voice followups have less punch to them). But she should still go for the safe option, and hopefully her team will tell her so. Or take it all down a semitone.

        Completely agree otherwise that this is dreadful staging. Way to suck all the drama out of a dramatic song and make it almost as turgid as most of its competition.

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks Tom I was waiting for the live performance as I’ve wasted money on Spain before, not having heard the live performance.

  • Felt a bit too fast to me somehow… was she being a bit early with the singing compared to the beats, or am I just imagining?

    Other than that: still a good song, but as you say Tom it’s lacking something. She didn’t feel completely “in” it, really. Hopefully it will come. And as for the leg… Spain *rolls eyes*.

  • Montell

    When will the bookies start offering odds for semi-final winners, qualifiers, Top 10, etc. Did it took this long last year? I don’t remember 😀

  • chewy wesker

    I think the thing with Eurovision is that most of us set our sights too high, I always have my sights set low that way I’m never disappointed. However this year is below par and with the ladies there’s not much to look at, apart from the one manic pixie dream girl from Iceland Maria Olafs for me to drool over (which some one on here described as the poor man’s Emmelie De Forest which is very true) that’s it. Looking again at the ladies there are some strong Alpha Female among the line up and a new theory of mine which I’m calling the “Yummy Mummy Syndrome” or “YMS” in short. Now on this site some have reacted a little negative to my analysis before (the Doom and Gloom brigade I call them) I won’t mention any names as Ben Gray will get upset but they know who they are. Now “YMS” although can’t win Eurovision, if a female singer does indeed have the “YMS” they are almost certain to get a top 5 placing. The characteristics of “YMS” is easy to see and there are 5 main ones to look out for:
    1. She will be much taller than a manic pixie dream girl.
    2. She will have a much shorter hairstyle than than a traditional alpha female.
    3. She will look a lot older than her years (but still HOT)
    4. She will not have any Botox lip fillers or cosmetic surgery.
    5. She will sing a slightly dated ballad.
    If a female singer has these 5 characteristics then a top 5 place is guaranteed.
    This year you have to give “YMS” to Russia’s Polina Gagarina she has all the traits and without a doubt will be top 5.

    • Dash Berlin

      If that rubbish from last year finished top 5 for Russia, then Polina seems a shoe in to be honest. She is one of my favourites musically too

    • Regardless of the merits of this theory or otherwise, I really don’t think we can make statements like “If a female singer has these 5 characteristics then a top 5 place is guaranteed.”

    • Chewy I had no problems with your “TDS” theory, I just didn’t get what it meant exactly. It seems very subjective. This one is much clearer, but which Yummy Mummies have reached the top 5 before by your criteria?

      • chewy wesker

        Sanna Niesel is the most recent

        • An amusingly apt misspelling given that “Niesel” is German for “drizzle”…

        • Ron

          C’mon Chewy. Just name one more tall, short-haired, mature-looking, natural-faced, ballad-warbling, top-five-placing MILF who isn’t Sanna Nielsen.

          Just one.

          • chewy wesker

            Hi Ron, In all fairness there isn’t that many with all 5 traits but I’ve been watching The Eurovision Song Contest for many years, and have been selecting many winners over that time. Also I’ve been betting on fixed odds on many sports long before the advent of betfair and the exchanges so it’s fair to say I served my apprenticeship In this area of gambling. I come up with the term “TDS” and “YMS” in jest and to have a bit of fun, but the underline of it all is that we have some sort of system of finding out what will do well so we can stake our hard earned money and reap the rewards. “Yummy Mummy Syndrome” is basically a female performer in my eyes with a high Alpha status so as to pick up more votes and do well on the scoreboard at the end of the night, a lady that most people at home would view as a bit more credible and taken a bit more serious as an artist, I would actually put Conchita Wurst in both these camps. (So there’s an other) My knowledge on Eurovision of goes back to 1980 but really only on the UK entries, but when I think back there was a singer called Vicki who sung a song call “Love is” it is one of my all time favourites from Eurovision it was the UK entry in 1986 Vicki had real style and confidence this was long before we terms like Yummy Mummy or the what you refer to as MILF but thinking back yes she was kind of a MILF and I think the UK came 5th that year.(So there’s another) 😉

          • Ron

            What about the youngest member of the Buranovskiye Babushki? That’s a legit top five finisher in the modern jury/televote era. And she was the tallest one. Total MILF vote.

    • Lol, I can’t help but getting the feeling you have chemical assistane in the formulating of your theories 😀

    • That was me on my WordPress account but I stand by it. The question is, will juries and televoters pick up on it? Her styling just seems too blatantly ripped off from EDF. At least stick a pair of heels on her.

  • Chris

    Interesting reviews. I’m with Sonovox and Ben Gray but I am going long on Iceland to win. As Chewy Wesker pointed out, she is the manic Pixie girl the guys may well drool over. I would also expect the staging to change so that I would not call her the poor man’s Emmelie de Forest (yet). The Disney-esque aspect of the song will definitely appeal to females and a younger audience. Last but not least, the English lyrics to the song are about “stepping out of the darkness and into the light and letting go of the past” – that is to say it can be construed as being about “coming out.” The song could almost be a gay anthem. So there’s some “candy” for every voting bloc out there. The impact will obviously depend on the draw and the right staging but with a bit of luck this could really be the one song that gets the televote.

    • Tom Ato

      I agree with Iceland’s potential, it has the overall package for success. I’m not sure if it can win but I am expecting the odds to shorten drastically at some point.

      • Phil

        It’s felt for a few years now that Iceland will win sooner rather than later. I think they’ll win within the next 2 or 3 years.

        • I hope they do cos I wanna go. Not this year though cos it’s balls.

          • Phil

            Go anyway. It’s amazing.

          • Chris Bellis

            If you do go to Iceland and you like a drink, remember that you have to go to a Government Shop to buy booze. These are only open a few hours a week in some places, and definitely not on Sunday. Vodka is £40 a bottle (not imported vodka, which is £60 a bottle). Supermarkets don’t sell alcohol, only 2.2% beer. Cigarettes by the way, at least for the locals, have to be got on prescription from the chemist. My Icelandic friend was fined for smoking in her own apartment because the smoke wafted from her balcony to the one below. If you like a Puritannical nanny state, Iceland’s your place. Great scenery, lovely people, nightmarishly awful after a few days (when your duty free runs out). Give me Russia any day.

          • Well, I don’t smoke, I’m off alcohol and I won’t be going to Iceland this year anyway (despite a colleague also impelling me to) but all of that sounds great to me – the best way to improve public health outcomes is through legislation. Like how Denmark banned trans fats and Sweden similarly restricts alcohol – as opposed to Russia, where according to a Lancet study, 25% of men die before 55, mostly due to alcohol. Give me Systembolaget over cirrhosis anyday. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25961063

          • SirMills

            Chris, the booze store is open here 6 days a week and is open untill 20.00. “Cigarettes by the way, at least for the locals, have to be got on prescription from the chemis” haha where do you hear such a nonsense, I like the idea though 😉

          • I’m nuts about Iceland. I feel a very strong affinity for the place, although I haven’t actually been there yet, but just from all the articles, videos and pictures it seems like paradise to me. I figure people might get a little bored of it eventually, but I could see myself living there very happily.

            Shame the cigarettes thing is false though, SirMills. I love the sound of a city where I don’t have to breathe in everyone’s second hand smoke.

  • Tom Ato

    Maria Olafs sings acapella Euphoria at 3:00. She’s got some lungs for a little pixie chipmunk.

  • Martin F.

    Another take on this year’s Eurovision songs, as Ghostsmut issues his now-traditional mixture of opinions, predictions and generous swearing:

    https://ghostsmut.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/eurovision-song-contest-vienna-2015/

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks for that Martin. An enjoyable read and it made me laugh. He’s wrong about Slovenia and Estonia though, but of course, anything can happen when it’s live.

  • So congratulations, I have arrived
    I’m Silvia Night and I’m shining so A L I V E

    http://www.visir.is/section/MEDIA98?fileid=CLP35263

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