Eurovision 2016 Introduction

The final is on May 14, but Eurovision season is already upon us, with participating countries at various stages of selecting their songs. Albania has already picked Eneda Tarifa, though you can expect the usual revamp of the winning song, which translates as ‘Fairytale’.

Elsewhere, the Belgian and Lithuanian shows are underway. The Belgian choice will be made on January 17; the Lithuanian selection will take considerably longer – though there is already some interest in Donny Montell’s bid to return to the contest. This coming Tuesday, we will find out the songs competing in the Finnish event, and the San Marinese artist.

You can expect the usual coverage here on Sofabet, aided by the invaluable comments section. Here’s to another fun-filled few months; do let us know your first thoughts below.

109 comments to Eurovision 2016 Introduction

  • Ande

    Bring it!
    Russia seems to be the favorite based on name recognition alone. My spontanious reaction is not to jump on board with this one. I’ve got a hard time imagening Sergey in anything remotely jury friendly while his usual tacky performance style just won’t cut it at eurovision.

  • Thanks for opening this thread!

    I understand why Russia is the favourite at the moment. Type Sergey Lazarev into YouTube and you’ll find two solid, recently released pop songs, at least one of which is Swedish produced and has separate versions in both English and Russian. Expectations are naturally high, but something about his selection to me smacks a little bit of “Mans won so let’s send our own slick male popstar.” I anticipate another top 5 for Russia but I’m not sure if he’ll come up with the right kind of song.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Bjorkman really pursues this narrative of another win this year if not fairly soon just so his country can nick Ireland’s crown. The rumours of Nicky Byrne from Westlife representing Ireland (ironically the only member yet to release any solo material) play right into Sweden’s hands. Sounds like Ireland panicking, but if they really wanted to give it a proper go they’d send someone relevant. Who’s big in Ireland nowadays anyway that isn’t Jedward, Enya or U2?

    Italy plastered #rematch over their promo materials for ESC 2016 so far, but I think they might have just got lucky with Il Volo. It’s going to be hard finding a package that reflects Italian cultural and musical stereotypes in a commercially relevant(ish) way again so quickly.

    That’s last year’s top 3 covered. Belgium’s Flemish broadcaster have shown their hand and I doubt there’s anything to worry about, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye on the Walloon choice for 2017. Australia will, I think, win before long, but I will not be relying on my theory from 2015 that their winning the contest has to justify their continued participation. I still think it’s true, but it didn’t quite materialise in Vienna. I’m anticipating their choice.

    Further down the line, I’m interested in Latvia and Israel at the moment. I hope their new selection formats continue to deliver. I hope Ukraine will come back all guns a-blazing too. Hungary have two quite decent songs in A Dal but not ones that scream Eurovision winner. Estonia don’t have a winner unless they come up with some brilliant staging for Laura, but even then I think ‘Supersonic’ is a bit crap and I’d rather they go for something bolder and more contemporary of which there is loads on offer at Eesti Laul.

    Think that’s about it for now. The superstition of Denmark winning in Sweden again can be put to bed. The DMGP songs leaked and there’s nothing outstanding there. Can’t see Iveta Mukuchyan doing any better than Hadise or Sirusho. Kaliopi’s probably not going to win, there’s a few rock bands this year from Montenegro, Cyprus and Georgia which will be interesting, and Bosnia’s choice just sounds a bit awkward. So, I’m starting to think the eventual market leader this year will be a country that we don’t currently suspect.

    • Ande

      Björkman doesn’t seem opposed to winning this years but Eurovision will invariably steal some attention and production talent that could otherwise go nuturing a potential winner from Melodifestivalen. Recent wins does give a positive effect of more quality songs being submitted to the contest but I think this is a trivial effect for an already well established brand like Melodifestivalen. Either way the low price means there’s no inherent value in Sweden, Russia nor Norway.

      Without lackluster staging Italy might’ve won last year and I’m inclined to agree that there’s little evidence that last years Italian song was anything but a lucky shot i the dark. They seem to find talented singers and songwriters, but the staging aspect is always missig. I wouldn’t be suprised if they send Il Vivo again with a Grand Amore rehash. I’d lay them if I could.

      Believe it or not but the currently most interesting backing bet I can find is the UK!!!! (never thought I’d say this haha). BBC seems to have finally found renewed interest in the contest with a revamped selection process imitating that of the Nordic MPGs. Staging is still being a big questionmark, but still, with a decent selection process a native English speaking country should have better chances than the generic 1 in 40 currently suggested by the betting marked. The price also has good back-to-lay potential as UK entries usually plunge in price once the casual British viewers weighs in.

    • “Who’s big in Ireland nowadays anyway that isn’t Jedward, Enya or U2?”

      Hozier (the Take Me To Church guy), also the band Kodaline, both are rather alternative artists so knowing RTE they’d never be picked.

  • Happy New Year Sofabet. Glad to move on from a rubbish X Factor season.

    Firstly. The Australian Question. Will they qualify? On paper they should, but are televoters going to like them “taking” a place in the final from a genuine European country, such as Israel? 😉

    Onto the UK. The UK could win again. When we’ve been on top of our game we’ve done well. 2009 and 2011. When we’re shit we do shit. 2010 and 2015. It depends what we send. The problem is though that some absolute tosh has been sent to the BBC. Some of the rejected entries are truly hideous.

    The important thing is the BBC create a buzz. There was a huge buzz about Mans very early on. The song needs to be something Radio 1 or Capital would be prepared to play as a bench mark (ie contemporary) and thus will get picked up by radio on the continent. No point promoing here – we can’t vote for it!

    • Australia will take this seriously, so on paper they should have a strong chance of qualifying. I don’t think the general public have much of a problem with them competing, the broadcasters certainly seem to enjoy having them around, it seems to be only the diehard fans who have a major problem with it.

      Onto Ben’s points about the Aussies, judging by what happened in Vienna and also when they joined Junior Eurovision a few months ago, it seems that Australia is going to be one of those countries that will hyped as a potential winner but will ultimately fall short every year. Tonight Again had a very stiff choreography for what was a very loose, fun song. And their Junior song was hyped as a potential winner that was far too generic and screamy for the kids to get into (which explains why they flopped in the televote).

      If they do win in the future, it’s not going to be an instant achievement, it’s going to take at least a few more years of trial and error to get it, and that’s the same for any country looking to win. Russia spent the whole 2000s trying their hardest to win and it took them 8 years to do it. Denmark wanted to win from 2011 onwards and it took them a couple of years to do it. And of course Sweden spent 10 years after the MF revamp in 2002 trying to win and now they’ve got 2 wins in 4 years.

  • Potential winner for Germany? This is in the German NF:

    • Not bad, but will need some more power in the arrangement, bearing in mind a whole minute has to come out of it as well. If not power, it needs a “haunting” and contemporary stage presentation. Not hearing a winner here but it should fetch an encouraging result for Germany if chosen.

      • I’m hearing a winner but I’m also thinking “is it too good to win?”, too contemporary for Eurovision – it has a lot more in common with the songs that finished 4th-7th last year than the blandly populist top 3. The place to trim that minute out is in the second verse/chorus before the middle-eight and at the end.

        Agree on the staging, and that’s something Germany doesn’t necessarily have a strong track record in. Since 1995, every German ESC entry with Stefan Raab’s involvement (1998, 2000, 2004, 2010-2012) went top 10, and every entry without Stefan Raab’s involvement (all the rest) failed to make the top 10 apart from one. The only time in the past 20 years that the German public broadcaster managed to get an entry in the top 10 without the involvement of Stefan Raab and his production company involved was 2001. So NDR actually has a dire track record and that’s worth bearing in mind. The two Lena entries and Roman Lob resulted from a formal contractual collaboration between NDR and private channel Pro7.

  • Meanwhile, to my delight, San Marino is sending a camp-as-Butlin’s 51-year-old Turkish gameshow host. Here’s one of his past hits, the Mark Oaten-friendly “Chocolate Flavour” – listen to the first 20 seconds and tell me he doesn’t have a scat fetish:

  • Black n Blue15

    First thread of the Eurovision season, hopefully one of quality songs, some new exciting faces, familiar returnees and of course entertainment value through the roof.

    As for favourites, well it’s anybody’s game at this early stage.
    However, one country I’ll be keeping an eye on is Serbia. It’s been nine years since they last won, the most recent Balkan victory in fact. In 2016 with the return of Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia, the Balkan bloc will be the strongest its been since 2012, notably when Serbia recorded an impressive 3rd place in Baku. The Serbia we know at Eurovision tends to blow hot and cold, with the nicknamed “Booty never lies” from 2015 splitting opinion down the middle. That said when they’re hot, they’re hot. I think if the broadcaster/delegation can get together a competent selection process than we may well see a revival from Serbia at the contest. Primarily what should swing in their favour apart from the regenerated voting bloc, is the stone cold fact that they WANT TO SING IN ENGLISH. And that’s a big deal, considering that this notion wouldn’t have garnered any thought ten years ago. The country has clearly adapted it’s perception knowing that English provides the best aural platform to win.
    Also keep in mind the juries too. They’ve been accused by the fans as being too Scandi-centric in their preferences in recent years (Particularly after the 2015 split-result), and to relieve some pressure away from that consensus, a strong Serbian entry could be the first port of call for big votes on the night. Watch this space…

    As for the rest, I hope the U.K and Ireland don’t embarrass themselves and it would be great just for the sake of topical discussion and banter that we don’t have a runaway favourite that’s released at the start of February or something. A wide open horse race will do please!

    • The problem across Europe when it comes to sending decent pop music is that Eurovision is a contest for public broadcasters, whereas in the vast majority of countries it’s the leading private broadcasters that have their finger on the pulse when it come to domestic pop music. Albania’s NF has become blander and blander since a rival festival on commercial TV in the same month has started attracting the best and most relevant artists and composers away from it, and the same divide applies in Serbia between staid RTS and poptastic Prva/Pink, in the UK between BBC and ITV, in Germany between NDR-ARD and RTL/Pro7, in Slovenia etc etc… Juries have been blamed a lot for Eurovision becoming much blander over the past 5-6 years, and I do think they’re the primary culprit, but it also has a lot to do with the fact that public broadcasters are generally pretty staid, have an old-skewing viewership, and have less pop expertise than their commercial rivals. The rivalry itself is also a factor, as public broadcasters can be reluctant to send relevant acts to ESC if they’re associated with a rival broadcaster. There are exceptions like the BBC sending X Factor has-beens and RTV Slo sending Maja Keuc from Slovenia’s Got Talent etc, but it’s definitely an issue. The girl who won the latest series of The Voice in Germany is now in the German NF, but will ARD’s older viewership enable her to repeat her victory?

      All this being the case, as much as I’d like to, I unfortunately don’t particularly anticipate Serbia sending something truly reflective of Serbian pop (ditto Albania, and ditto the UK as ever). RTS could send someone like Ana Stajdohar, Marko Louis, Sevdahbaby & Djixx, or Aleksa Jelic, who aren’t associated with the private channels and who’ve made regular appearances on RTS music shows, but I don’t know how well any of them would work in a Eurovision context. Though the decision not to send Jelena Karleusa was correct given her vocals are unreliable – she’s generally fine on ballads but wobbly on uptempo, and with her uptempo is the whole point.

      They could also send something truly catchy and relevant like the current Marko Radeta single (below), which is below 3 minutes and features 6 people, but that’s where Igranka serves as a negative example. RTCG very commendably thought truly outside the box and sent their country’s most exciting act with an invigorating song and performance, which was rewarded handsomely by televoters – but disqualified by juries. Back to those pesky juries again.

      Poland 2014, same argument. Given Polish conservatism, the state broadcaster sending that exciting, vocally very strong and truly fun hip-hop-folk song wasn’t a given – the entry was a huge water-cooler moment and one of the highlights of the contest, and again rewarded enthusiastically by paying televoters, only for juries to heavily mark it down, cancelling out tens of thousands of paid televotes, which is de-facto fraud. What’s happening in Poland at the moment is extremely concerning, but the EBU’s hypocrisy in threatening TVP today that it might not be allowed to enter Eurovision anymore is rank hypocrisy – rules and fair play haven’t mattered to them much in recent years, so why now?

      • That’s a really interesting way of framing the issue. Trendy commercial vs public broadcasters being a bit old-fashioned in general, and it’s something which most likely affects all television, not just Eurovision. There’s an overarching reason public broadcasters are this way though, something to do with their duty to the public they serve. That’s not my point though.

        The things to consider are, if every participating broadcaster that had a commercial rival was swapped over, is.. firstly, do we want commercial breaks? I know some countries get them right now anyway but I’d rather not watch adverts if something is actually happening in the arena. It’s once a year event television.

        The less trivial point of consideration is whether we’d lose any sense of a song coming from a particular country. It’s tempting to think they’d all become very general pop songs or ballads. It’s far from perfect at the moment anyway, and I’m not asking for every song to be ethnic or play up to stereotypes, but I think the perception of “countries” coming to life in musical form is a very big part of Eurovision’s appeal. Modern is good and we’d get that in spades from private broadcasters but I’m willing to bet the whole contest would sound a lot more musically Anglo-American regardless of the language of the lyrics.

  • Oh, and for the record, this (below; starts at 0:36) is totally what should have been Albania’s entry this year – it slays. Xhesika Polo is an amazing singer with a powerful, characteristic voice, who puts so much emotion into her songs; she’s entered Kenga Magjike the last 4 years on the trot, twice with truly outstanding songs, but has never yet entered Festivali i Kenges, because of its decreased relevance and less young viewership, because the FiK songs don’t go on iTunes for purchase unlike the Kenga Magjike ones so artists can’t make any real money from it, and because anything too “modern” in Festivali i Kenges these days gets marked down by jurors – some of whom in 2014 were actually on record as saying Lindita Halimi’s entry (the best song and performance by miles) was “too Eurovisiony” and too American, choosing Elhaida’s bland ballad instead (which then had to be discarded for something better, rendering the Albanian NF a farcical Belarus-style exercise in pointlessness for the first time). This year the same pattern was repeated with the choice of Eneda Tarifa over Aslaidon and others.

  • Ireland. Their best and most serious effort this millennium. Left-hand side of the scoreboard, surely… insert here the usual caveats about good staging & camerawork, good draw in the semi etc. I like it; it feels just on the right side of familiar – it’s not revolutionary or mega-original but it also doesn’t feel too generic or like a copy-paste, it does feel sufficiently real, sincere and original. Engaging, vibrant and credible while being sufficiently accessible and mainstream to get votes.

    • Oh, and upon second listen I just noticed the increasingly obligatory (and tokenistic) let’s-pander-to-The-Gays-so-they’ll-vote-for-us lyrics in the middle-eight: “touch who you wanna, kiss who you gotta […] come turn me inside out, upside down, I’ll be your lover boy.” Retch…

      Hope someone does a remix video with stock footage of Jimmy Savile/Ariel Castro over the “touch who you wanna, kiss who you gotta” lyric…

    • Ande

      I agree, left side of the scoreboard. I won’t even discount it for the win if they pulled of a Euphoria-level performance. One thing to remember though is that Nicky is only a competent performer, not an outstanding one.

      You can compare Nicky’s performance skills to Melodifestivalens third favourite to win for reference. Last year a 16 y/o Isa brought a generic bubblegum song all the way to 7th place in the contest. This year she’ll apparently enter a love balad with deep undertones.

  • annie

    So possibly my fav national eversince I discovered ByeAlex is almost here.

    *Their last year effort was so much better, shame it wasnt chosen.
    Still, among my favorites from Adal.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8kLB_Lw1V8

    *tied (maybe even surpassed? hah) by this one
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBgflwdMHnk

    *I loved Iv last year and a bit dissapointed in this years effort.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q34rcwlxQ4

    *Freddie isnt bad either, catchy song and eye candy boy :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMNcDQENT6o

    *I feel this can be a haunting, surprising performance that will work well live:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOp9shi0c7w

    *Not my taste, but its very catchy and I see it doing well.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APaGzSX1KUU&feature=youtu.be

    *This is quite good too, though again, I liked her previous effort much better :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKiT9775Ebw

    I guess this would be my final line up then 🙂

  • Hippo

    Good to have found this thread, great stuff here. These are my thoughts at this stage.

    The Usual suspects:
    Sweden – consistently try hard and this year will be no different and will likely get a good finish. However, won’t win this year as I would say it’s nearly impossible to retain the title- maybe only Fairytale or Euphoria could have done it. A good finish isn’t a foregone conclusion either, e.g The Arc coming 18th and Anna Bergdahl not qualifying whilst Robin Stjernberg came 14th on home soil Three years ago.

    Russia – current favourites and it’s not hard to see why with a popular singer, experienced composing and stage production team and of course Russia’s block voting advantage. I have a sneaky suspicion that this will however go the way of their 2011 entry and be a dissapointment and other favourites with pop songs such as Sakis from Greece in 2009. It will take quite an incredible performance to get Western Europe to vote for Russia in enough numbers and I don’t think we’ll see that.

    Azerbaijan- Consistently good record at Eurovision and can throw a huge amount of resources at the song if they choose to. Guaranteed friendly votes from many countries and have to be fancied before even hearing the song.

    Ukraine – Have had a lot of good placing songs over the last decade or so and have gone close to adding to their one victory with some slick stage production. Quite how much finance is available may limit their chances.

    The big 5:

    Uk- sure to do better than last year but reluctance of quality artists to get involved will hurt. Distinct possibility a novelty song like Scooch or Daz Sampson is chosen by public vote. Really can’t see it.

    Germany – had nul points last year with a decent song so I don’t rate their chances with whats been revealed so far.

    Spain – Have a pretty poor record and failed to do well despite a bit of hype last year. It’s a shame but the tendency to sing in Spanish will also hurt them.

    France – miserable recent record and can’t find the right balance between boring ballads and nonsense entries. Very, very unlikely.

    Italy – have done well since returning and have a shot. Again though, failure to win last year suggests they won’t win this year, as I can’t see them being that good in consecutive years.

    Scandinavia:

    Denmark – don’t have anything special in their songs and certainly no winner. 8-12th at best with Anja Nissen

    Iceland – Have tried quite a few genres recently but not much luck. Can’t really see it.

    Finland – Nothing special in their songs (and surprisingly not much rock) 14-17th my guess with Barbe-Q-Barbies

    Norway – have sent some very professional songs in the last three years and arguably deserved better placings in the last two. If an act can build on that with a song to do well with the televote, they have the elements in place to do very well. Dark horses for me.

    Wildcards:
    Australia – You don’t know what they’ll bring, could be good, could be terrible. If the former, not enough vote history to go off to judge on. Not ruling them out.

    San Marino – Have a Turkish singer in place so could do very well from diaspora voting and a song that I’m betting will be very jury friendly. I’m expecting their best ever finish.

    Balkans:
    Albania- decent song (as it stands) but not a winner and will need a lot of diaspora and block voting. 14th- 20th

    Bosnia- really don’t rate the entrants and can’t see it doing well.

    Croatia- can’t second guess but unlikely to trouble the top of the board.

    Former Yugoslavia- Kalliopi returns which will please eurofans but few others. Without hearing the song I’ll guess it will stay in the semis.

    Montenegró- a rock song sung in English moves away from some good results resently and I can’t see it being good enough to make it past the semis.

    Serbia- have had some good results and with a lot of friends in the voting this year could do very well. Contenders with a good enough song.

    Eastern Europe:
    Bulgaria – been gone for a few years but never did that well and I’d be surprised to see them top 10 .

    Czech Republic- Never qualified so history would suggest it’s unlikely

    Hungary- Strongest National Selection yet in my view and could come as high as the top five with Freddie or Andray Kallas Saunders Band

    Moldova- Very unlikely to qualify

    Poland- should have done a lot better given domestic talent available and diaspora but have never really turned up. Not seen much intent this year either yet.

    Romania- have overacheived with a lot of their entries and have good diaspora help. With a really good song could be in the running.

    Slovenia- did well last year but don’t have the best record. Very unlikely

    Baltics:

    Belarus- Nothing to worry anyone in the national final (if the winner does go). Had a better song last year and couldn’t qualify so I can’t see them making it past the semis again.

    Estonia- competetive national final but nothing that stands out too much. Underachieved in last two years given song so may not qualify.

    Latvia- did surprisingly well last year but haven’t the best record recently.

    Lithuania – terrible record and not much to trouble the finals again this year. Left in semis.

    Others:
    Armenia- Have had some ridiculous entries over the years like Apricot Stone and last year’s freak out but could pull a good song out of the bag, and I wouldn’t back against them if they do.

    Austria- one of the worst records at Eurovision in recent years and 2014 was a fluke. Expecting non qualification again.

    Belgium- Nothing special, may just qualify with Tom Frantzis

    Cyprus – generic rock song expected here. May just qualify.

    Georgia- Usually send something different and may have the best chance out of those with rock songs so far.

    Greece – In with a chance always and have never failed to qualify. With a televote friendly song with a Greek influence could do very well despite financial problems.

    Ireland – I’m not impressed with Nicky Byrne. Too generic and same old same old to do well especially with little neighbourly help which I don’t think Nicky will overcome. 20th to 26th in grand final.

    Israel – Have had very unpredictable results recently but I don’t think this year’s format will lead to a strong entry. Left in semis.

    Malta: Have done well in the past but never won and I can’t see that changing this year. Firmly on the right hand side of the scoreboard.

    Netherlands: I might be being harsh on Douwe Bob but I’ll give him a 1 in 20 chance of getting through the semifinals.

    Switzerland: Not the best record or songs but an improvement on last year. 16th 21st with Rykka.

    I’ll stick my neck out and guess Norway at this point with Azerbaijan, Serbia and Ukraine also possible.

    • I hope you’re right about Norway potentially winning, people who’ve heard the songs say it’s a strong MGP this year.

      However, there are several very questionable predictions you’ve made:
      1) If the other ex-Yu countries send duds, then Kaliopi will mop up the Balkan votes, depending on who’s in what semi.
      2) If Estonia send Juri then they’ll get another top 10 imo.
      3) I think Azerbaijan have completely lost it judging by the last two years. They’ve sent songs only juries would vote for with uncharacteristically awful stagings. They are also not the televoting powerhouse they used to be after the whole bought votes scandal broke. If they carry on this track for 2016 they might not qualify for the first time. Calling it now.
      4) Czech Republic have just as much chance of qualifying as any country with the right song.
      5) You are being extremely hard on the Netherlands, I’ve heard this guy’s previous work and could do very well with the right song.
      6) I think people are going to massively overestimate San Marino’s chances with this singer. I doubt the Turkish diaspora will care if one of their own is singing for another country.
      7) Lithuania have a much better version of Ireland’s song in their NF, that looks set to be selected at this rate.

      Sorry to be so picky, but I have a tendency for that.

      • Hippo

        No worries, we’re all here to give our opinions and you do have a good point on a few. My prediction of Azerbaijan is based mainly on my guess they’ll be sending a pop song and not a ballad but I’m sure they’ll qualify whatever. Also for Estonia I’d argue that goodbye to yesterday had much more to it than anything this year and was being hyped up as a winner while amazing was quite popular too. I don’t see that much support for any of the songs, of course things always change in the build up and songs gain momentum, but I struggle to see top 10. I do think that Serhat for San Marino will get votes too, he’s very well known and I’m sure that will be enough to get a few televotes which with a jury friendly song could do well.

        • Is Serhat really that well known? I’ve never heard of him and I’ve never heard anybody mention him in any circles.

          • Hippo

            I hadn’t either but apparently he’s had a few hits in Europe and is active in a few countries. He’s also presented a few very popular shows in Turkey. Silly as it is, I’m pretty sure that will get him a lot of televotes from the many Turkish living abroad who will know him very well. I think odds of 200-1 plus on the exchange are really underestimating his chances in this and are looking at San Marino. I’m looking at Serhat, if he brings a slightly catchy song that stands out, he could do surprisingly well, like Italy in 2011.

          • eurovicious

            Serhat is blates a joke (as is the “country” sending him), diaspora Turks will ignore – some naff 51-year-old daddy mostly known for presenting a tacky gameshow, who can’t sing that well and who’s bound to have a naff song and performance. He’ll get less of a diaspora Turk vote than Moje 3 got a diaspora Serb vote – and they were singing for their own country! I think San Marino can be de-facto ruled out when it comes to the left-hand side of the scoreboard unless it sends something truly remarkable, which is never gonna happen because it’s San Marino.

  • Turning my thoughts to technical possibilities… we’ve only seen an LED floor in use at Eurovision since 2014 (made best use of by Aram that year), and last year Mans won with a performance centered around his interaction with a (plagiarised) animated projection, something never seen at the contest before. If anyone wants to combine the two ideas and outdo both of them, this is how to do it (this is from Ukraine, at the inaugural M1 Music Awards show in November):

  • Hippo

    Iceland’s entrants have been announced :http://oikotimes.com/2016/01/15/iceland-2016-listen-and-vote-for-the-songvakeppnin-entries/

    Three or four good ones, the rest pretty poor and the eurovision crime of rap even appears.
    Unstoppable, the voices and again (english titles – I’m not going to bother trying icelandic) could all do well I think.

    Personally I really rate unstoppable which could do very, very well for Iceland (definitely in the top two of all songs in any national final yet and better than Albania and Ireland) but I think singing in Icelandic will hurt it. In English it could get top five I feel with good live vocals and performance, currently I’d guess 10-13th

  • Montell

    Top 3 tracks from Lithuania’s national selection so far. What do you think?

  • Black n Blue15

    One possible candidate for the victory, whom I’ve kept an eye on since September is Douwe Bob. First off I can understand, why many will think otherwise, but judging off of his character, personality and professionalism alone I believe there’s a case to be made for him doing rather well in Stockholm.
    For a start, here’s him performing his winning song from The Best Singer-Songwriter of The Netherlands show (Circa 2012):

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-zhW8zIuXk&w=560&h=315%5D

    Once I had watched that I instantly thought of this:

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Ts4M3irWM&w=420&h=315%5D

    Eurovicious, you wrote a fascinating article awhile back on the Semiotics of this contest, and one of the main points I took from it is that viewers connect with an entry via association. i.e something about an artist, reminding you of somebody you really like in realm of the music industry( or from everyday life). For example, I was watching the 2014 show with, family, as you do, and my Mum, a fan of Country music saw Calm after the Storm and said “Ah there’s Dolly and Kenny”. Similarly, in the following days I had a few friends telling me how Rise like a Phoenix was “Very Shirley-Bassey-esque” too. Even branching out into last year’s contest we got Bruno Mars with Guy Sebastian and the Three Tenors (and Il Divo) with Il Volo. Even Lena struck me as being Lily Allen meets Kate Nash. Hence, I’ve become more and more convinced with each year that viewers are looking for a very obvious trait in an entry they can identify with over the nuances of a song, style, and voting patterns that the Eurovision fan will analyse in detail, and often take as Gospel.

    If we glance over the 2010 and 2015 contests, I’d argue both gave us very bland line-ups. The Bookies favourites leading up to the finals were two overproduced, and what I’d reckon to be two disposable, yet box ticking pop songs in Azerbaijan and Sweden respectively. 2010’s final didn’t exactly get the blood pumping but as soon as a young girl with a very identifiable singing style and with oodles of personality took to the stage it was curtains. People instantly got what Lena was all about and picked up their phones in their millions. 2015 was lined with butt-average entries (and a few excellent ones) yet it was only once Il Volo performed that people got their first wow moment of the night, it was a hugely distinct song style sung by three lads that looked like they were having the time of their life up on that stage. For both Lena and Il Volo I haven’t once mentioned the words “Quality”, “Commercial Value”, “English-sung song”, “Song structure”, “Voting diaspora”. Essentially all the things many think are required to win, yet the same things that I believe the general public will tend to overlook once forming their initial impression of an entry.

    Scanning through the list of names we have so far this year, and those from several national finals, I’m not exactly getting a light bulb moment. I’m Cognisant of Sergey Lazarev, and the popularity of his image in the East, but I’m inclined to feel this, as Ben you’ve mentioned above, is Russia sending their equivalent of Mans Zelmerlow. We know ourselves from history that trying to replicate the previous year’s winner is often a losing game.

    Getting back to Douwe, I see something special in him. He’s got a very textured, distinct vocal, the Johnny Cash persona (Some John Mayer in him too) and enough of his own personality coming through to convince me he’s not some knock-off cover act. Singing Multi-Coloured Angel you can tell he’s enjoying every second up there, endowing a showmanship that the crowd in the clip are loving. For Douwe to have a chance to win in May he needs to channel this lively Rockabilly Country persona and sound Cash made the world adore. Right now, if this contest turns out to be dull, one drenched in gasoline, than Douwe’s the only one with a matchstick ready to light up.

    • Fair argument, but I’ve pretty much discounted Douwe for the time being because I looked through his songs and just didn’t think they were particularly good or catchy, and his track record on the Dutch charts afterwards would agree with me. It’s fine to say he reminds you of Johnny Cash and why that might work for him, but don’t go running off with that theory all the way to May. Wait for the song.

      • Black n Blue15

        I’m just plucking out possibilities, since little else has grabbed me so far. Your right about Douwe’s recent material. The sleepy indie pop sound off of his latest album won’t appeal. For now, I’m hoping what we get is a song akin to Multi-Coloured Angel from a few years earlier. Rockabilly-Country is his best shot, so I’ll be anticipating whatever kind of song we get before making further judgement;)

  • Ben Cook

    Jamie-Lee Kriewitz in Germany and Donny Montell in Lithuania are the two stand-outs for me so far this season, but a long way to go…

  • The BBC have confirmed that the national final will be on Friday February 26 on BBC Four with Mel hosting. Not quite MelFest, then.

    BBC Four has also been confirmed as the new channel for the semis.

    • Hippo

      Just read the news, I’m a bit less optimistic now. Putting it on BBC one would have been a real signal of intent and shout out “this is worth watching, this is good “. Still, nothing can be worse than last year.

      • Breng het aan!! Au contraire, BBC Four hopefully means it’ll be more highbrow, and the viewing demographic practically excludes the public picking another Scooch – no-one watching BBC Four is going to vote for tacky day-glo shit for the lols. (Apart from the fans, naturellement.) And Friday night on BBC Four is music night anyway (typically a selection of music documentaries, concerts and old episodes of TOTP) so this isn’t as big a leap for them in terms of content and tone as many people might think – although I do secretly hope our entry is Suzannah Lipscomb on a hurdy-gurdy.

        That said, I shouldn’t necessarily frame it as an active choice on the BBC’s part to put the NF on BBC Four when the obvious main reason is that BBC Three, previously the home of all the BBC’s TV Eurovision coverage apart from the final, will have been shut down by the time the NF comes around, so short of shunting Nigella out of the way to squeeze it onto BBC Two or integrating it into the lottery draw on BBC One (Dale’s Eurovision balls, anyone?) – or banishing it to the red-button (hi Alex and Bianca!) – Four was pretty much the automatic choice. And as to “Putting it on BBC One would have been a real signal of intent and shout out ‘this is worth watching, this is good'” – two words: Holby City.

        I for one welcome our new highbrow overlords and will be in the front row of the NF covered in glitter and waving my Transnistrian flag. See yous there!

  • Belgium’s lift music for Stockholm. Sounds like it could have come 5th in the Dutch selection in 1989. Tokenistically inclusive pseudo-inspiring lyric du jour: “You gotta do what you wanna do, you gotta be who you wanna be”. Next please…

    • Come on mate, can’t you feel the love power coming your way?

    • Ah, I guess if I’d actually watched the NF I’d have seen the sexed-up version with glitz, a dance routine and added black people to confer credibility and urbanness. Definitely looks like that’s the intended Eurovision staging. Comes over better, the song’s still phone-in though.

      • I wondered how long it would take before we got an Uptown Funk-a-like at Eurovision.

        The “disco sound” revival is in at the moment. The gays will love it.

        Nile Rodgers writing an entry though. That I’d love to see.

        • Yeah, Get Lucky is fine, but Uptown Funk and especially Sax (its lesser knockoff) represent a very mainstream, straight sort of disco that’s almost cynical in its populism… something like a modern Kröller eller ej (one of my fave entries of all time) or La Casa Azul would be more up the gays’ street (Downtown Spunk?) than the Daft Punk/Bruno Mars end of the stick…

  • Hippo

    Revising down prediction for Belgium: will not qualify (12-14th) in Semi Final.

    • Agree. She’s Emmelie de Copse.

      • Ande

        I don’t agree with your pessimistic outlooks eurovicious/Hippo. I personally feel Laura is more of a Lena Drier-Blandstrut, very much a compliment if I may add ;-P

        I believe she will garner televotes as the whole performance reeks of fun and Laura comes across as very likeable. Sure, the song is dated and sure, she’s not the greatest of singers. But the key to success is still unspoiled in this specimen; she provides completely comfortable and non-akward MPDG-wibe. I feel Belgium is a very likely qualifier unless she gets outshined by a female competitor in the same genre.

        Heed my warning: “Do not underestimate Lena Drier-Blandstrut!”

    • PurpleKylie

      This. I see people trying to argue towards qualification is that it’s a fun uptempo song the public will like. Big problem is, I know it’s early days but I suspect that this year’s lineup will end up being very uptempo in general, and I would imagine that there will be better produced and better performed uptempos to come, therefore stealing it’s thunder.

      Second, another argument I’ve heard from them is “but Golden Boy did well with a cheap dated song”, except a) Golden Boy had a very exciting and well done performance and b) stood out in the sea of ballads that was 2015.

      If 2016 turns out to be another ballad fest then I’ll eat my hat, but I’m pretty sure this won’t make the final either way.

  • Hippo

    15 second clips of Norway’s entries are out and although it’s not much to go off, I don’t think there’s a winner in there, mid table finish my revised guess for now.

    Spain have released 30 second clips too, a few up tempo ones in English which makes a change but probably right side of the scoreboard.

    • Black n Blue15

      Agreed, I’ve layed them already. Never thought I’d be doing that with Norway this year.

      Beforehand I saw Maverick as being Spain’s best bet at breaking their top 10 ceiling. Disappointedly, his snippet doesn’t suggest so.
      He’ll be lucky to nab top 3 in Spain.

      • Hippo

        I know, I’ve had Norway as my pre contest favourite since it was confirmed Turkey weren’t returning. What I find interesting is how this will affect the political voting as unless Sweden bring something world class, the Scandinavian block is fairly weak in terms of quality for once. My reckoning is that this gives a great chance to Germany in particular, who have already shortened a lot, to pick up a lot of Scandi votes if they go with Jamie Lee Kriewitz and Ghost. I wasn’t too thrilled with Germany when the songs were revealed but I’d be shocked if they don’t get top 5 at this rate.

        • Black n Blue15

          The more countries we have seen releasing NF songs and artist names, the more of a contender Sweden have become. As far as I can see, a decent if unspectacular number from them should be enough to galvanise the Scandi-vote.

          Ghost is a very good pop song, but I don’t see it winning Eurovision. It could very well be a jury top five in Stockholm for possessing a lot of commercial value, and I assume it would ensure Germany get some decent points on the board. However on a personal note, Jamie-Lee doesn’t ‘sell’ the song for me. In the clip she looks far too blank-faced and sullen to get millions of people on her side in May. It is early days though, so lets wait and see what we get in Unser Lied.

          Trying to predict who’s in the running is like getting a hole drilled through the side of your head! My views are that Sweden are the only Scandi in the reckoning. Russia have a big name but his discography leads me to believe it may be out of reach. Azerbaijan stopped caring about winning long ago. Serbia could contend if the national broadcaster have their head screwed on and Poland, Latvia and Romania could spring a surprise if what we hear in the coming months is promising. I have high hopes for the Netherlands, but I believe their chances are ultra-dependant on song choice, as Douwe’s a very capable performer when he’s in the groove. Hungary look like they want to compete at the sharp end too. Italy have a few Sanremo artists that could achieve 5th at best, the UK will look to get into double digit points, and well France are France.
          Who’s left?

          • Hippo

            Agree With a lot of that, and I still struggle to see Ghost winning too but they’re at least in the discussion at this point. I did fancy Serbia too but if the rumours over their girl group entry are true I struggle to see it. That only leaves Croatia from the main Balkan block who haven’t announced anything yet. I can’t see Russia either and I think it may be beyond Italy to have a run again so soon. If Romania or Latvia get a good song they’ll be right up there, same for Ukraine and Greece could give the government a scare like 2013. If Azerbaijan do put their mind to winning I wouldn’t back against it and Australia have a chance too. I think even if Sweden bring a potential winner, being the holders will put a lot of people off voting for them. Overall I think it will either be a very competitive year like 2011 with no stand out favourite or one of the countries that haven’t announced anything yet will be a runaway winner. All things considered, I’m thinking more the former.

          • Malta, Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Moldova, the Czech Rep, Ukraine and Australia are ones I’m keeping an eye out for at the moment.

            Georgia might sound odd given their choice of act but I’ve got a feeling they’re going to be the most musically solid over Highway or Minus One.

    • They are only 15sec snippets, how do you know there’s no winning song in there? I think there’s two very promising snippets in there.

      • Black n Blue15

        Purple Kylie, I think my above post about Norway was written in haste. I’ve just heard very promising things about Agnete’s song too from a Norwegian friend. I look forward to hearing the full three minutes.

  • Ande

    Wait a minute… suddenly everyone is discounting Denmark and I’m left dumbfounded. Could anyone explain to me what makes Simone’s “Heart Shaped Hole” a noncontender?

    + Good, relevant song
    + Capable live singer/performer
    + Obvious staging potential

    – ???

    • Black n Blue15

      First time hearing it in full. I quite like Simone. It’s a good song with echoes of Chandelier. On first listen, I’m not feeling a winner coming on, but it certainly sounds like Denmark’s best effort since Emmelie. I’d tip my hat to you Ande, if Denmark get a third win in Sweden.

      • Ande

        Interesting that we have such contrasting opinions. Care to elaborate on your views?

        • To me, the arrangement sounds empty and cheap. It’s not very catchy and it just sort of plods along. I really don’t get why people seem so taken aback by the chorus which doesn’t develop any extra power or interest later on in the song. Furthermore, Simone’s voice is very autotuned throughout the song. Her previous attempts in DMGP haven’t showcased an outstanding vocal from her, and this song will expose the slightest falter. Not to mention the basic subject matter is sad.
          There’s just absolutely nothing about it that suggests anything even close to a winner for me. Denmark want to qualify and this would do that for them, and for some reason I keep picturing “elevated dress” staging ala Romania/Moldova 2013 which might see them achieve similar mid-table results at best.

    • It’s decent and very commercial, sort of a LeAnn-Rimesified Love Injected, I certainly don’t think people should be too down on it or disregard/overlook it… despite all its obvious strengths, for me the chorus is a little too bland/sanitised and upbeat, it’s not Love Injected or Wrecking Ball, there isn’t that same emotional pull or even the wistfulness of Only Teardrops or Undo. And yeah, it just repeats, it doesn’t grow and develop enough. Not sure about the diction either, sounds like she’s singing “a haunted hole” (oo-er) not “heart-shaped hole”, and “I caught you out” not “I cut you out of me”. Top 10 potential, maybe top 5 even, but as to any higher I don’t know – I can certainly imagine it coming over very well on stage (if she has the pipes).

  • justin

    ‘Heart Shaped Hole’ is a song that immediately jumped out at me as a song which has potential. It’s very Eurovisiony and the chorus packs a punch and with decent staging you could see it scoring well with juries and televoters. My concerns would be that its a tricky one to pull off live and it would take some performance to smash it. We need to see if Simone is up to the job – think Maria Olafs’ performance last year for Iceland….

    • Ande

      I agree completely. This entry is quite likely to flail in preselections with half-decent vocals and boring balet staging ala “Hour Of The Wolf”.

      All I can say is that before we see the live performance Denmark is still in the running for a “Euphoria”-esque victory.

  • I’d like to highlight this ch000n in Moldova. It’s not going to win obviously, but for all the flack we give ‘fanwanks’, it’s when a song either gives me a new artist to follow or just one song that makes me feel good and will sit nicely in my eclectic iPod playlists for years to come that makes following Eurovision so worth it.

    • Lidia Isac is a great upcoming singer and was my favourite in Moldova’s NF last year with I Can’t Breathe. I heard Falling Stars at the start of December and for me it’s too generic EDM – the story behind it (according to what I was told) is that her performance in last year’s NF attracted the attention of the writing team behind A Million Voices who sent it her way.

      • Well it’s more international sounding, and it shows off her voice a lot more too. That first high note (“sky is”) in the chorus is very tough but she just about hits it! That would do her a lot of favours in Stockholm if she can actually deliver the same highs as the studio version. Always makes my heart sink when a song I like is a total letdown with live vocals.

        The song you linked is ok but it’s a bit.. I dunno. Sounds like something in between a kazoo and an armpit fart driving the melody after the chorus. Not quite what I’d call local flavour either, but if that’s what they go for then more power and baked beans to them.

  • Black n Blue15

    Just for the fun of it, I’m pretty curious to see how Serhat gets on for San Marino in May. What we do know is that a fifty-something year old, Turkish TV game-show host has picked up the European flag of convenience, with a bank balance too big for the Micro-Republic nation to turn down. My question is can Serhat actually qualify from the Semi?

    Type this guy’s name into Google and you’ll find that he’s collaborated with a plethora of artists, from Greece and France, to Russia, along with several Caucasian countries. He’s performed at festivals for a number of years on the continent and his Youtube views for the well, rather ‘self-effacing’ Je M’adore show there’s at least some online interest in him.

    Theresurely has to be something at the end of the stick for the San Marinese delegation apart from a wine and dine at Serhat’s expense? I mean for them to throw Siegel under the bus, they must have been swayed by what him and his team have intended to bring performance-wise to Stockholm.

    I can kind of imagine him up there; the rich, elderly, womanising and aristocratic figure doing his thing with five twenty somethings on a stage and a low, gravelly voice to get The-octogenarian-grandmothers-in-a-care-home into their groove. (Actually contemplating that makes me appreciate how great those years were for San Marino from 2012-2014).

    Glancing back over San Marino’s 2014 results suggest how qualification could be possible. In the Semi-final, a majority of their points came from Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, along with a dubious eight pointer from neighbours Albania. Serhat has performed in all those countries before and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there’s a little financial schmoozing to keep the Juries in check too. The Turkish Diaspora vote as talked about above is inevitably going to take effect the week of the contest. For now it’s interesting to ponder whether Serhat will be a beneficiary of that and qualify or will he in fact sink like a stone amongst a highly contested 19 song scramble.

    • With regards to the Turkish diaspora voting for Serhat, there’s a few things to consider. First of all Turkey aren’t taking part, which does free up their votes. Second, just how famous is Serhat in Turkey, like, really? Is he a proper star or is it like the UK public being expected to vote for Roy Walker? and third, we have to see if San Marino will be in the same semi final as Azerbaijan, because I figure Azerbaiijan will be higher up the pecking order for Turkish diaspora votes.

  • Belarus’ entry (for now). Stunning lack of charisma or stage presence.

    • Hippo

      I think Belarus went with the best they could. I don’t dislike this song but I don’t like it either and I can’t see it doing well. Definitely not as good as last year so I’m not optimisti.
      Prediction: 13th- 17th in semis.

      • Like everything else so far apart from Ireland (and like >85% of Eurovision entries in the 2010s), it’s throwaway. Slytherin Valentina Monetta sings a 1988 rock D-side. Next please. (Oh and apparently his people fiddled the voting, someone who watched the show told me he suddenly shot forward by about 8000 votes in 5 minutes.)

    • Ande

      Replace Ivan with Litesound and it would’ve been an improvement.

  • Disappointed ‘That’s Why I Love You’ was eliminated in Malta, I think that would’ve been a Top 10 in Stockholm. It reminded me of a little ‘Is It True’, ‘Drip Drop’ and ‘A Million Voices’, although perhaps not quite as strong. Looks like they’re going to go with the fanwank-y ‘Chameleon’ instead.

    • Panos

      Every single word of what Tim said.

      • And indeed they have gone with the very fanwanky Chameleon – or as I call it, Poophoria. Next please.

        • Hippo

          Very typical song that ticks the typical eurovision boxes. does nothing for me either, I’m guessing 15th – 19th in grand final.

          Can’t believe with five songs down Albania is still my personal favourite. Not the best year yet.

          • Chameleon staging gimmick for Stockholm: Ira shoots out her sticky tongue during the middle-eight and devours an unfortunate gay standing in the fan zone.

          • Black n Blue15

            I agree. It seems like the people abetting Chameleon are the same bunch who claimed Amber was going slay the pack in Vienna. And to her defence, the song at least had a hook and didn’t deflate like a balloon midway through the chorus. Amber although lacking a touch vocally showed determination in her performances. Contrastingly, Ira Losco doesn’t even look like she wants to be singing that song, and has nothing apart from name recognition to make up for it otherwise. If Chameleon stays, her qualification chances will almost certainly be relative to her competitors efforts.

          • Yeah, I’m not normally a fan of Maltese NFs – the most dated and cruise-ship of any NF, normally wall-to-wall cheese penned by the same tiny handful of aging songwriters, and with about as much darkness, edge and progressiveness as Ralph Siegel: The Musical. But Warrior, if somewhat derivative both conceptually and in its Conchita-esque staging, was better than a lot gave it credit for and Amber performed the hell out of it – I love her, it’s quietly yet confidently empowering and her vocals in the arena were amazing. One of my favourite Maltese entries, and a less guilty pleasure that the other, ahem, “classics” like Vodka and On Again Off Again.

            If Ira’s entry is going to be changed can we call her Provisional Ira Losco? I found 7th Wonder sickly and bland at the time and was surprised it came second, and as Daniel says, it hasn’t aged well (unlike, say, the two Darja Svajger ballads Slovenia sent in the second half of the 1990s, or indeed Jon Ola Sand himself, who keeps the wrinkles at bay with bimonthly injections of fresh unicorn blood).

  • Alan Sedgwick

    Ira will probably end up singing a different song in Stockholm – the Maltese national finals rules changed to allow this last year and she’s already said she’s thinking about it. She’d be well advised to, as I can’t see “Chameleon” qualifying.

  • Montell

    Do you know if Eurovision song lyrics can contain word “bitch”?

  • Hippo

    So in between all the b.s. and silly slogans, something very important went on today – the semi final draw. This won’t change the winner, but it will affect a lot of countries chances to qualify so is worth paying some attention to. Here’s the draw.

    Semi final 1:
    (Sweden, Spain, France voting)
    1st half
    Croatia
    Finland
    Moldova
    Armenia
    Greece
    Hungary
    Russia
    The Netherlands
    San Marino

    2nd half-
    Azerbaijan
    Cyprus
    Malta
    Bosnia
    Estonia
    Czech Republic
    Montenegró
    Iceland
    Austria

    Semi final 2:
    (Germany, UK,Italy voting)
    1st half –
    Latvia
    Belarus
    Ireland
    Switzerland
    Former Yugoslavia Republic
    Australia
    Lithuania
    Poland
    Israel
    Serbia
    2nd half –
    Albania
    Bulgaria
    Georgia
    Denmark
    Romania
    Slovenia
    Norway
    Ukraine
    Belgium

    Initial thoughts: Balkan block has been split in half pretty much, as has the Scandinavian block.
    Greece and Cyprus’ chances of qualifying have just got a big boost.
    Armenia and Azerbaijan being together could hurt a borderline entry.
    Belgium look very lonely.
    San Marino have missed out on Germany which would have been ideal, but have done well apart from that.
    Moldova may struggle without Romania.

  • Ben Cook

    The first half of the second semi looks very competitive, as the 10 countries there have mostly mixed fortunes, and with the likes of Denmark, Norway, Romania and Ukraine pretty likely to go through from the second half (and based on the statistics, at least one or two more!), it’s going to be interesting to see who goes through from that section.

    Ex-Yugoslavia countries are split down the middle – but Albania and Bulgaria are both also in semi 2 so probably helps Kaliopi’s chances of qualification.

    • Provisionally that’s great for Kaliopi. The last time almost all of the Yugosphere and its main diaspora countries were in one semi (SF1 2013) was the year they all bombed out (facilitated by juries marking down Igranka and Klapa s Mora, which were in the televote top 10 so would have qualified under the pre-2010 system), so will be interesting to see what will happen with Serbia, Macedonia and Slovenia (and Switzerland) in one semi and Cro/Bos/CG (and Austria) in the other. How many of these countries, the only remaining lands in the contest that sing in their own language more often than not and send songs reflecting their own musical culture more often than not, will switch to English to better their qualification chances?

      • Montenegro already confirmed it will be.

        Musical culture is a bit of a subjective term though. The 2003-2006 contests were nothing more than a Sertab-Ruslana driven phase. In every contest since the introduction of televoting, the song most easily accessible to the mass public has won, Sometimes that’s combined with other factors like performance, memorable gimmick, song quality, and televoting advantages.

        Generally speaking, if you serve up a Eurovision full of 43 klapas, oompahs, turbofolk singers, Caucasian throat warblers, schlagers, OTT Mediterranean passion, Nordic folk, and the UK hopelessly trying to pander to the lot, (hi Javine,) I guarantee you the closest thing available to radio and chart conformity with a good performance will win. Always has. Could even argue it was still that way in the 100% jury days.

        It’s silly to say that the re-introduction of juries and recent contests offering plainer pop and more English has actually changed anything or taken the contest further away from an ideological point of what it should be. The Contest’s overarching musical bar has simply moved closer to mass public preferences than it had been before.

        Some countries pander more than they should (Russia) but on the other end of the scale, France are right up their own bumholes with their entries, and look how that’s working out for them. Getting rid of the juries will only put us back where we started, with diaspora and zany spectacles dictating the points, but you’ll still always get the most commercial populist songs available as winners. It would just turn Eurovision into a shitty compromise of taste again.

        *Insert Israel’s 2009 entry here.*

        • France just cares even less than the UK does. And yeah, a contest of wall-to-wall anodyne ballads isn’t a new phenomenon, look at Eurovision 1994 or one or two of the others from the late 80s/early 90s. I don’t think we should get rid of the juries, I think the “combined ranking” system should be removed to put us back to where we were in 2010-2012, where the televote and jury vote complement each other (so that if you excel in either, you get high points) rather than cancel each other out (so that you only succeed if there’s a strong correlation between the two). I’d also make it 66% televote 33% jury vote or something like that.

          • I agree with returning to the 2010-2012 system, but I’d keep the the 50/50 balance. It’s needed to cap that diaspora effect at 6 or 7 points or thereabouts. The voting outcome wasn’t always desirable and often still strongly influenced by neighbour-cultural voting, but it was at least more diverse.

            The problem with the current system is the way it skews the scoreboard into a highly concentrated top 5. One of whom usually gets EVERY country’s 10 and 12. You could argue it better reflects the overall sense of who was actually the best, that way, though, I guess. Other problems are that it also creates a much lower top 10 points threshold and the lower places become very close.

            I mean I knew Austria’s entry was shit last year, but nul points? Really? Black Smoke wasn’t that bad either, people just didn’t want to stare at Ann-Sophie’s boot-ay.

            I mean I didn’t mind but you know. 😛

          • I wonder if a system like the 2010-2012 one but with a top 20 instead of a top 10 would work? Theoretically you could just convert point values of 1-24 into Eurovision 1-12 points having added televote and jury rankings together, and that would still give those 11th-15th countries a chance to pick up some points.

            I haven’t thought it through but I think that’d be ideal if workable.

          • Hippo

            The problem I have with the jury is the fact that I think their only purpose should be to block political voting, not try to impose some level of high standard based on staging, song, lyrics etc. If people want to vote for a commercially irrelevant popera act from Italy fine. If they want to vote for a silly novelty song about Moustaches fine again. The only problem is when people only vote because of the country.Juries have sapped a lot of the fun out of eurovision by judging all songs on the same criteria.Juries should definitely only rank the top 10 songs too rather than all 26 because that can weigh down a country’s average badly.

            Personally I think some sort of weighting formula could be introduced based on previous voting data where a country’s votes for allies are worth less. E.g. A Romanian televote for Moldova is worth 0.6 (just making up a number) instead of 1 or a Belarusian vote to Russia worth 0.5 and so on for all countries. Very small adjustments could be made for every country to reflect diaspora too. If a song is good enough it can overcome this, if it isn’t good enough it will get the placing it deserves. Controversial?, yes but would allow all countries to start on an equal footing with 100% televote.

  • Charlie Clark

    Place your bets on Malta this year.. 2017 will be sun dancing on the beach.Gear up for a surprise…LOL

 Leave a reply...