Eurovision 2015: London Eurovision Party review

I love the London Eurovision Party: it’s settled nicely into a better venue, the after-party disco is in the same place, and I can catch the bus home. But it does have less of an impact on my opinions than the Amsterdam concert (and as my disclaimer to that mentioned, I’m wary of reading too much into any of these events).

There are a few reasons for this: we usually get about half the number of entrants in London that performed in Amsterdam – and most of them appeared a week earlier in the Netherlands; those acts are trying to work a postage-stamp stage much smaller than the Dutch one; and the whole shindig is more informal, without Amsterdam’s tightly-efficient focus on this year’s entries.

You can watch videos of last night’s performances at wiwibloggs or esckaz. Here’s my rundown.

The smaller stage didn’t really suit Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow as much – his usual routine for ‘Heroes’ sees him work a bigger space like a trooper. But he endeared himself to the crowd by singing his previous Melodifestivalen entries. As in Amsterdam, I was reminded how well the chorus goes down, with its patient build-up and sing-along “whoa-whoa-whoooooa” finish. It doesn’t seem weak to me at all, contrary to opinions I sometimes see expressed in various forums.

The small stage did less to hamper Australia’s Guy Sebastian, who showcased his virtuoso vocals with ‘Battle Scars’ and ‘Like A Drum’ before the crowd got behind another excellent rendition of ‘Tonight Again’. His abilities lift what is already a highly professional number in its live performance – for example, the “do whatcha want” part no longer feels like the song’s weakest link.

This time the pimp slot was given to Norway’s Morland and Debrah Scarlett, who took full advantage of the alcohol-fuelled goodwill of the crowd with their excellent cover of ‘Fairytale’. They followed it up with a strong performance of ‘A Monster Like Me’, which may have been partly responsible for a drop in their odds on Betfair over the last 24 hours. I hope the song is given full justice on stage in Vienna.

The UK’s Electro Velvet gave us the same routine we had witnessed in Amsterdam. They were bolstered by news that ‘Still in Love With You’ had hit number one in the UK physical sales chart last night, but I still think any chance of a respectable placing in Vienna is dependent on some inspired staging.

Also of particular interest were the three acts not seen in Amsterdam: the Czech Republic, Malta and Switzerland. All three showed strong vocals, the Czech pair especially. Marta and Vaclav looked like they had been making the most of the bar, but they didn’t let that affect their powerful performance of ‘Hope Never Dies’. I do wish the song was more dynamic for the sake of both them and their country, with its hopeless Eurovision record.

Malta’s Amber sounded better here than she did in the national final. The revamp of ‘Warrior’ seems to suit her, and the Maltese usually find a way of performing more strongly in the semi-final than their song would suggest. Switzerland’s Melanie Rene impressed me far more when winning the selection, and she was solid again last night. I wish ‘Time To Shine’ was more melodic – especially given that it comes straight after Sweden in the second heat.

After she had impressed in Amsterdam, we got carbon-copy decent vocals from Greece’s Maria Elena for ‘One Last Breath’. She went on to please the crowd with a rendition of ‘My Number One’. Hey Cypriot countryman John Karayannis also charmed the audience with his interpretation of ‘Cliche Love Song’ before later giving another touching performance of ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’.

I’ve not been a huge fan of Ann Sophie’s ‘Black Smoke’ up till now, but her expressive presence and the song’s competence is starting to grow on me. She held her own last night, as did Latvia’s Aminata, who is such an engaging performer. There are some really powerful moments in ‘Love Injected’, although it’s also a little inconsistent – with parts such as the climax feeling like a slight disappointment after what’s come before.

I don’t really have anything to add to my Amsterdam comments for Moldova’s Eduard Romanyuta, Austria’s The Makemakes, Montenegro’s Knez and Hungary’s Boggie, whose vocals were as good as before. But someone who didn’t look as happy this time was Albania’s Elhaida Dani. She ruefully decided not to go for the big note towards the end of ‘I’m Alive’, and it wasn’t the only time she didn’t look comfortable. Perhaps the touring has taken it out of her.

Please continue to debate and discuss below the build-up to this year’s contest. It’s now just a fortnight till rehearsals begin.

74 comments to Eurovision 2015: London Eurovision Party review

  • Did Mans do those same dance moves/gestures for his song? Without the animation, when I saw it in Amsterdam it appeared very robotic…..I know it won’t matter come Vienna, but it bugged me

    • He even did all the same gestures and moves when performing his song *yet again* at the afterparty in Amsterdam, and someone made a similar comment to me about it being robotic/overrehearsed.

  • Daniel

    Hi Dash, he did the same gestures for the chorus. Even taught the audience them.

  • Alpie

    Daniel,

    I am glad you’ve shown some sympathy for Ann Sophie. The way she sings is different than the rest. Black smoke is the one of my Top 4 candidates which are Australia, Germany, Slovenia, Estonia

  • stoney

    Sweden hitting 7/4 has as i said. Australia hitting 7/2 with some firms now

  • This came out on Saturday, über-fanwank gay dance anthem extraordinare of the type I wish we still got in Eurovision…

  • Damn, Norway odds dropped dramatically. But do you think Norway can win? C’Mon it’s toooo boring, too slow. People will get bored imo

  • Donal Ryan

    You are correct Emre, the first big moment in “Monster like me” is over 2 minutes into the song and I doubt the duo’s “likeability” as well. Just cant possibly see this win, top four at very best.

    • chewy wesker

      I think Norway’s “A Monster Like Me” actually came over as having the best performance of the night, maybe it was just me and I had low expectations for Morland & Debrah Scarlett but they were actually quite a good looking couple, he was less Jimmy Hill and she didn’t have a face like a smacked ass at all, I was really surprised, I guess they are just not photogenic enough for the camera. But “A Monster Like Me” really did sound good. Mans Zelmerlow came over well too, he went through all the motions of “Heroes” and I can see why this is seen as contrived, but I did warm to him and I genuinely feel Mans Zelmerlow is a really nice guy, and “Heroes” will take some beating this year. Guy Sebastian was also very good if Mans is seen as contrived then Guy is the total opposite and is very laid back and natural where I think this is strong is:
      1. Being Australia
      2. Being an accomplished RnB vocalist
      Any way a great night was had by all, and it was lovely to see Daniel, who was the only one to have an inter-net signal and kept us informed of price moves during the night (your such a professional) and the rest of the sofabet gang who are always friendly and give their opinions on the acts you are without doubt invaluable.

      • Norway is very well performed and has grown on me a lot, but it’s too much of a grower for me to win. Solid top 10.

        • Dash Berlin

          Agree, I think its only moved in price as it was too large beforehand. It took me a few listens to think of it of anything other than boring as I’d switched off by the time the movement happened first time.

        • Gert

          Indeed, as much as I like it, it’s too much of a grower. Compare it with entries like France 2009, “Birds” (Netherlands 2013) and last year’s Norwegian entry. Although artistically very relevant, and unique in a grand final field of 26/27 entries, it’s too slow to instantly “grab” you. Hence why I think it’ll do a 9th place at best.

          Comparisons are made with the Common Linnets and their 2nd place. But here is a real distinctive difference between the songs “Calm After The Storm” and “A Monster Like Me”. The first one is very instant from the start. And although rather “soft”, it grabs you sooner than the latter song. Also, I think the Dutch entry from last year profits from a rather catchy and repetitive chorus.

          Then there’s the staging. In many ways both Netherlands 2014 and Norway 2015 use a similar kind of staging and camerawork. But I think Ilse and Waylon were more sympathic and more attractive than Mørland & Debrah. And that makes it a bit easier to relate to as well. Because in all honesty Debrah looks a bit like Melisandre from “Game Of Thrones”, whereas Ilse is the “beautiful blond”.

  • Australia down to 5,5 now, wow! They’re about to pass Italy and become the 2nd favourite. Go Aussie!!

  • stoney

    Australia on the brink of favouritism at ladbrokes. 11/4. Sweden 2/1. Here we go people!

    • Tom Ato

      Hmmm this is good news for Aussie backers but I would rather they did not go into the final as favourite. With the favourite tag comes a lot of bad publicity and maybe even time to drum up anti-Australia campaigns, especially given their ‘controversial’ inclusion. Let Mans have the favourite tag!

      • stoney

        Are you serious? The favourite pre show has won the last 3 years. Could be more i can’t say as i haven’t been following eurovision for that long.

      • Gert

        Sweden is a favourite for a reason. Their staging concept is rock-solid. And it works 200%. It’s a full-blown, highly effective and overall sympathic 3 min. videoclip that is helped by all its assets:
        –> A strong enough, rather unique David Guetta-esque song that starts off country-esque and evolves in another great dance song with relevant enough lyrics.
        –> A superduper cute singer, named Mans, who will grab every teenager by the head. And this is mostly done by…
        –> Highly effective cinematography, mostly done by lots of close-ups of Mans, together with his augmented reality/CGI-friend. Which brings me to the next asset…
        –> Romania used augmented reality last year in a flawed way, but Sweden knows how to translate it in a near-perfect way. Mans’ choreography is that of an actor in front of a green screen and he does it perfectly in sync with his little CGI-friend.
        –> Perhaps there will be some changes, but the overall staging plan from Melodifestivalen will be copy-pasted for at least 95% on the Vienna stage.

        By the way, the Dutch entry will most likely use augmented reality in a similar way as well. Although the Dutch entry is way way weaker than the Swedish one, they will also make a “real-life videoclip”. Both Sweden and Netherlands know how to drag the full potential out of their songs.

        Here’s a nice storyboard that stage director Hans Pannecoucke usuallu uses for the acts he’s working on: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5302/5758593887_5e5b56df64_b.jpg .
        And the same thing the Swedes do, by completely drawing out their stage concept:
        http://wiwibloggs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/skiss1.jpg

        Anyway, the above summary shows why Sweden is a deserved favourite. So far we don’t know near nothing about how Australia will stage their entry. And although I think it’s a real competitor to Sweden, I truly wonder how they can improve their 3 min. videoclip on that from Sweden.

    • I’m with you Stoney… let’s hope this time they don’t fall at the final hurdle!

      • stoney

        Probably come second mate. It’s my speciality

        • LOL! Last Christmas must have hurt, felt for ya that night. Well, I have had some E/W bets over on Sportsbook to cover my arse a little bit but I think Australia are going to do it. The novelty of Oz being in it, a pretty decent song and one that passes the old “end credits” test… this is where the money is at IMO.

      • Gert

        What I also meant to say is this: Sweden will prove it’s a favourite by actually doing a TOP 3 score again…..and from all the 40 entries at this stage it has the biggest chance of winning.

  • Tom Ato

    I’m just wary of the probable backlash if they became favourite too early. There are a lot of angry and confused people out there regarding Australia’s inclusion.

    • I’m not sure if it’s bad or good to be fav, but I’d have thought good.

      Some fans take “ownership” of “their” competition and may not like it. Who else is angry and confused?

      Being fav brings a lot of publicity, especially if it’s Oz.

  • Natasha

    Even though I have backed Australia, I am still confused as to why they are in Eurovision this year?

    • Donal Ryan

      Its a stepping stone for the expansion of the competition beyond Europe.

      • Gert

        Something I fully welcome. Do not forget the Turkovision Festival and the Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU) Festival, They are the reason why Asiavision didn’t work. Those continents or regions want their own contest. To counteract that, one can not be prepared early enough. Hence the expansion. Moreover, for me as a fan of competition formats, I fully welcome it, as it makes the competition more exciting. Unless you’re deliberately bringing your own national sentiment in the equation. But then again, I’m foremost a European, a globalist, with a Dutch passport ;-).

  • Donal Ryan

    A difficult question, but I’m sure there are a few that post here will know. What were Azerbaijan trading at in 2011 three weeks before the final?

  • Donal Ryan

    Thank you Daniel.

    • chewy wesker

      9/2 with corals day of the final, if I can remember. I know it was 1.30 for top ten because I’d backed it. 😉

      • Daniel

        Was 7.0 on Betfair the afternoon of the final – at the point when the voting order was leaked – which correlates with that typically shorter High Street price.

  • Johnny Ludlow

    I backed it very reluctantly just two hours before the final after basically ruling out all the other outcomes. I believe it was 5.8 at that point in betfair.

  • Austria was still available at 25/1 at 5pm BST on the day of its’ semi-final (the second one) – still my single biggest betting return.

  • Tim B

    The jury voting criteria for 2015, is it the same as previous years?

    • Apparently “hit potential” wasn’t part of it last year, unless they’ve just been lax in their reporting.

      • Tim B

        “Each jury member is asked to evaluate the composition, the performance, the overall act and the song’s hit potential, and rank all entries, except their own country’s contribution, in order. Each jury member should vote independently from the others.”

        I don’t know about you, but the inclusion of “Hit potential” doesn’t bode well for Italy, whereas you’d expect it to favour the likes of Sweden, Australia, Estonia and Russia. Although ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ hardly had any hit potential at all. It’s also interesting that ‘vocal capacity’ isn’t part of the criteria anymore.

        • Boki

          Is the absence of vocal capacity in the guidelines causing sudden drop of Finland in the odds?

        • SirMills

          Very interesting indeed, why those changes in criteria, any theories?

        • The criteria isn’t gospel though. They’re guidelines. A large minority of jurors, I would guess, won’t strictly abide by them.

        • So “vocal capacity” has been taken out of the jury voting guidelines as a criteria and replaced with “hit potential”? WTF??? What does that even mean – vote for it if you think it sounds like a hit? What does a hit sound like? Neither of last year’s top 2 sounded like stereotypical “hits” and yet both were, especially Calm After The Storm. Given the overwhelming dominance of Anglo-American pop music, “hit potential” can also be read as “what do you think sound most like a proper Anglo-American pop song, not some weird (eastern) European shit?”

          I give up.

          • That jury members are now asked to evaluate “the song’s hit potential” ties directly back into my discussion of hyperreality and simulacra last year. It’s not “vote for what you like” but “vote for what you think people would like”. Which surely is the point of the televote, not the jury vote.

            Taking “vocal capacity” out of the jury criteria is an even worse error. It’s a fucking singing contest. What’s the point otherwise? And especially in this era of dull songs, it’s the great voices generally performing them that are our saving grace. If juries aren’t being told to assess vocals anymore, what’s the whole point of the fucking thing?

          • Rob4

            i share your frustration EV but slightly disagree with your assertion. its a song contest not a singing contest. the best song should win not the best vocal performance. having said that, of course, a good vocal performance enhances the potential of any song and should be used as a criteria.

          • Hi Rob, you are of course right. It’s about the song first and foremost, and the vocal is absolutely key in whether a song works or doesn’t. Shocking they’re no longer telling juries to include this in their appraisal – can we get EBU confirmation on this? The quality of writing on eurovision.tv is not exactly high and I guess there’s a minor offchance it could just have been forgotten in the article.

  • Ande

    The 2015 OGAE poll results is starting to come in.

    C̲u̲r̲r̲e̲n̲t̲ T̲O̲P̲-̲5̲:
    Italy – 44 points
    Sweden – 37 points
    Estonia – 33 points
    Australia – 21 points
    Russia – 15 points

    Link to poll:
    http://tiny.cc/8zcnxx

    Only Albania, Armenia, Luxembourg and Switzerland has voted so far. Do we know which type of entries/countries is favoured in this compared to Eurovision!?

    • Sweden, gay dance anthems, and kitsch emotional ballads, most of the time. 😛

      • Yeah exactly. Kitsch and gay dance anthems from eastern Europe do badly in OGAE though – like Cezar in 2013 and Serbia this year. There’s an inherent Western bias in OGAE polls.

        • Have we had any eastern gay dance anthems that could verify this theory? Just can’t think of any, but surely there must have been some…

          • Tim B

            Estonia’s #Amazing last year flopped with OGAE.

          • Hm, but it flopped with the televoters as well, no? So no bias there, it seems.

          • Was Kati Wolf eastern or western (Hungary is hardly west but the sound was western)?

          • squall: I cited Cezar and Bojana, I’ve probably cited Run Away (Moldova 2010) in a similar context in historical comments… and (for instance) I seem to recall Malena Ernman was well above Kejsi Tola in the 2009 OGAE poll only for this to be reversed on the scoreboard.

            Edited version of one of my comments on Sofabet in 2013: “The OGAE poll […] second reflects the organisation’s older membership – it’s people who have been fans for decades for social reasons and have more old-fashioned tastes. The poll is given undue importance; OGAE (Older Gay Advocates of Eurovision – credit to Tim for that one) is essentially a pre-Internet relic from an era when joining your national Eurovision fan club was literally the only way of following contest news, keeping in touch with fellow fans and (moreover) meeting other gay men who shared your interest. OGAE basically existed as a gay men’s social organisation at a time when homosexuality was less publicly accepted – Eurovision fandom was a cover for gay life/fraternisation, especially in socially conservative countries. The barrier to fandom being higher in the past, the membership is mostly gay male “schlager” fans predominantly aged late-40s and upwards. Both [of the two] German fan clubs have around 1000 members […], around 200-300 of whom turn up to the annual events – this in Europe’s largest country [with a population of 80 million]. It’s no surprise then that OGAE clubs in many smaller eastern countries newer to the contest only have a tiny number of members (who are younger […]) and are in a couple of cases almost one-man bands. […]”

            Let’s remember Crisalide was something like 2nd in the OGAE poll and apparently won the “Big Poll” in 2013. Do we think that would have been the case had Armenia sent Crisalide by an unknown singer? I doubt it. There’s also a blind spot in the OGAE poll to dance songs of most kinds, which is less problematic from a betting perspective given that juries similarly punish dance songs these days – Ryan Dolan and Hannah Mancini did very badly in the 2013 OGAE poll then later on the scoreboard due mainly to juries.

            On the rare occasions that something from central Europe is really diva-schlagery in a sort of completely unchallenging, dated and daytime way, like What About My Dreams or Sasa Lendero’s Mandoline (one of the few non-Swedish songs to have won the OGAE Second Chance Contest in recent years) – or most things by Andrej Babic – OGAEs will lap it up.

          • Fully agree that the importance of the OGAE poll is overrated, but I’m not sure I see the evidence of the western kitsch/gay vs the eastern… re your examples: “irony”/unserious entries (like Cezar) always seem to be hated on by hardcore fans, as for Serbia this year we still don’t know whether this is a bias or whether it’s just a crap song and she’ll bomb the televote, too.

            Not saying it’s not true that such a bias exists, just that imo the evidence isn’t really there. The theory is weakened by the need of seemingly pretty arbitrary explanations for the exceptions that completely oppose it (e.g. Kati Wolf).

  • Tim B

    Yes, which is why I think following the likes of OGAE *can* be useful. I’d have thought Estonia last year would’ve done well with them, for example, and it was a sign of things to come…

  • Boki

    Daniel, do you have any idea what’s causing Finland’s price crash in OR and top10?

    • PeterNL

      I read something on a Dutch website about a Norwegian preview show on Semi Final 1, in which Finland came out as winner. To be confirmed though.

      • Avitas

        Confirmed from a Norwegian who just watched the show. It was just the first 10 songs of SF1. Panel of 6 “industry experts” (among them Norwegian HoD, former ESC participant Tor Endresen). Rest of SF1 next week.

      • Boki

        Thanks guys. It’s Norway and you would expect them to give decent score to Finland anyway. Same kind of show in Sweden didn’t went to well for Finland, still I find the odds movement strange.

  • Martin F.

    For anyone still trying to work out whether Il Volo deserve their spot among the bookies’ favourites this year, I’ve put together a brief look back at the history of (p)opera at the Eurovison Song Contest. It’s more light-hearted fun than serious analysis, but you might get some nostalgic enjoyment out of the videos in there, too! 🙂

    http://www.escgo.com/2015/05/04/where-high-and-low-culture-collide-popera-and-the-eurovision-song-contest/

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