The beauty of Eurovision is that no-one has all the answers. I analyse it to death, yet gut feeling is also part of the final call. That’s particularly the case this year, with five or so worthy contenders and a few dark horses. You’ll hear some differing opinions about who wins tonight. That’s because nobody is sure, and gut instinct is playing a part.
Analysis and gut instinct continues to make me think that Sweden is tonight’s likeliest winner. Let’s start with the analysis: a Melodifestivalen televote that topped Loreen’s; an utterly compelling visual and audio package, especially for the first-time viewer; the sense that this was the most obvious Europe-wide chart hit, confirmed by iTunes chart positions after the second semi-final; and now a voting order that whilst not definitive, is more encouraging for Sweden than for one of its biggest rivals (Russia).
My gut instinct also tells me I’d be more shocked to see Sweden score poorly in any country’s points total. I will more likely attribute it to a rogue jury-only score or indeed tactical jury voting – which happened on a small scale last year against some of the market leaders. I can’t say the same for any other contenders. I can envisage Russia, Belgium, Italy and Australia having their blips on the scoreboard. Put bluntly: if there’s a runaway winner, I’d be slightly surprised if it’s anyone but Sweden.
Having said which, I think Russia is scoring brilliantly well in the east, and getting points in the west. That’s why I have it as the runner-up despite finding the overall package vanilla (if effective). That was my thought before the voting order – which is worked out by an algorithm to ensure the process is exciting and thus tries to disguise the winner early on – suggested a strong start for Russia, a negative in the circumstances.
I’m open-minded about which country to predict as third. It feels like a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo between Belgium, Australia and Italy. I wouldn’t put people off any of them. I’ve long had a soft spot for the Belgian and Australian entries, both of which are really well performed. In picking between them, I’ve decided to go with the more mainstream Australian entry.
Beyond these five, Estonia offers a really solid package that deserves a place higher than the lower echelons of the top ten, even with a very early draw. Norway and Latvia are the other odds-on chances for a top ten finish, and given their quality offerings, that feels deserving.
These days, finding some value in the top ten market is more difficult given the extra information available, such as iTunes chart positions. I’ve long had in mind an unglamorous but solid package that will pick up core diaspora support rather than make any impact on downloads. That’s Romania, now 11/4 to be in the top ten. For the last three contests, the country has finished 12th, 13th and 12th despite poor jury scores that should comfortably be surpassed by Voltaj. If, like me, you think that Serbia and Slovenia are overrated in the markets, you can also back Romania to be top Balkan at 6/1.
I usually throw something from a distance at the standing coconut that is the last place market. Heading the market are automatic qualifiers the UK, France and Germany. The weakest qualifiers in the final feel like Poland, Albania and Hungary. Diaspora support was enough to see Poland just climb above the UK at the bottom in 2008, and we may get a re-run of that this year, but there’s no recommended bet here.
Whatever your gut tells you tonight, I hope you have a fun and profitable evening. The best of luck to all of you, and let us know your final thoughts below. A reminder of my top three prediction tonight: