Eurovision 2016: The rule change

The voting system has been changed for this year’s contest. A separate 1-12 jury score will be given first by national spokespersons. After that, each countries’ accumulative televote score will be announced, in ascending order. That will make for a nail-biting final few minutes, as the highest televote points totals are added to the scoreboard. It’s much like the current Melodifestivalen system. There’s a handy video explaining it here.

Before today’s announcement, I commented in a tweet that the 2016 rules had been published last autumn, and were available on the official website – presumably the re-write is in progress. That pedantry apart, there’s much to be positive about in this morning’s announcement. And ultimately, those hoping to make money betting on the event must always adapt to new rules. Here’s my take on what it means for those gambling on the event.

Hello back, 2010-12 system. And the diaspora!
The first-to-last rankings no longer matter in either the semi or the final. Being in the top ten of the jury or televote is all that counts. This means that a jury can’t negate a strong televote by placing an act last. For example, in 2014 Poland’s ‘My Slowanie’ won the UK televote, was placed last in the jury vote, and got 0 points from the UK. Under this system it would get the televote 12 points, 0 points from the jury, an overall total of 12 from the 24 on offer.

That’s a bonus for the countries that benefit from diaspora (Poland among them). Vice versa, it’s also a bonus for any songs that the juries rate highly but gets little traction in the televote. Last year’s nul pointer, Austria, would’ve managed 40 points from juries under the new system. (Being a nul pointer is about to become very difficult.) No need to be quite so wary of any likely huge disparity in an act’s televote / jury vote when looking at the top ten market.

Betting during the results
Playing the market whilst the points are being allocated has become more of an opportunity. This is largely because an algorithm created a voting order designed to initially mask the expected winner. The 2015 voting order, published on the afternoon of the final, saw many of Russia’s natural allies give their points early, and many of Sweden’s towards the end. Thus Russia headed the field initially, until the UK’s 12 points to Sweden saw the latter take a lead that was never relinquished.

It will play out slightly differently now. I’m hoping and assuming that the algorithm remains, so that during the jury scores there’s some change at the top of the scoreboard. Most importantly, the change in sequencing means being aware that a strong televote total will boost a country languishing in the jury scores, and vice versa.

It also means a nerve-wracking final few minutes. As the largest televote scores are revealed, all hell will break loose on the scoreboard and in the betting markets. Apart from the increased risk of a heart attack, I’m sanguine enough about the new system, and the opportunities it brings.

Since our last article, a few more national finals have taken place. Perhaps the betting markets shouldn’t have been so surprised that Lighthouse X’s middle-of-the-road, midtempo ‘Soldiers of Love’ won the Danish final. The song is the kind of typically inoffensive pop tune the nation has sent of late, and won’t necessarily be a barrier to qualification. Up until Denmark’s failure in a very eastern-leaning heat last year, their record of getting to the final has been excellent.

Come May I will be watching out for the vocals, which get extra support in the Danish final both on the backing track and in a form of melodic tuning on the live mic. Still, there’s room for three backing singers to help the boys out. Vocals are the big issue for Switzerland’s representative Rykka with ‘The Last of Our Kind’. Did the voting public watch the final on mute? She’ll have to sound a whole lot better in Stockholm to get anywhere near qualification.

I’m waiting for official confirmation that the Italian act Francesca Michielin will sing her Sanremo number ‘Nessun Grado di Separazione‘. Meanwhile, we know that Georgia’s composition is ‘Midnight Gold’. Whilst I’m all in favour of diversity on the Eurovision stage, this kind of unmelodic, guitar-driven number has always tended to score badly. The likes of Manga, Eldrine and Deli all rocked into the top ten with much stronger melodies.

Friday sees Bosnia reveal its Eurovision song. This weekend has two intriguing national finals. In Ukraine on Sunday, SunSay try to upset market favourite Jamala; whilst in Iceland on Saturday, Alda Dis Arnardottir will attempt to do the same against Greta Salome. On Monday, Minus One from Cyprus will debut their song. Let us know what you think of the song selections and rule changes below.

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112 comments to Eurovision 2016: The rule change

  • I’ve applied the new 2016 scoring system (assuming raw points addition) to the 2015 results:

    Again, follow this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest_2015#Final_2
    and open the pop-out box on the right, that’s where I got my figures from.

    2015 results with 2016 system:

    01st: Sweden – 642 pts ( 279 + 363 )
    02nd: Italy – 550 pts ( 366 + 184 )
    03rd: Russia – 533 pts ( 286 + 247 )
    04th: Belgium – 382 pts ( 195 + 187 )
    05th: Australia – 356 pts ( 132 + 224 )
    06th: Latvia – 349 pts ( 100 + 249 )
    07th: Norway – 206 pts ( 43 + 163 )
    08th: Estonia – 200 pts ( 144 + 56 )
    09th: Israel – 184 pts ( 104 + 80 )
    10th: Serbia – 120 pts ( 86 + 34 )
    11th: Albania – 119 pts ( 93 + 26 )
    12th: Georgia – 113 pts ( 51 + 62 )
    13th: Azerbaijan – 96 pts ( 48 + 48 )
    14th: Armenia – 95 pts ( 77 + 18 )
    15th: Romania – 90 pts ( 69 + 21 )
    16th: Montenegro – 82 pts ( 34 + 48 )
    17th: Lithuania – 75 pts ( 44 + 31 )
    18th: Slovenia – 75 pts ( 27 + 48 )
    19th: Cyprus – 71 pts ( 8 + 63 )
    20th: Greece – 53 pts ( 24 + 29 )
    21st: Hungary – 50 pts ( 21 + 29 )
    22nd: Poland – 49 pts ( 47 + 2 )
    23rd: Austria – 40 pts ( 0 + 40 )
    24th: Spain – 34 pts ( 26 + 8 )
    25th: Germany – 29 pts ( 5 + 24 )
    26th: France – 28 pts (4 + 24 )
    27th: United Kingdom – 19 pts ( 7 + 12 )

    • Biggest beneficiaries here being Italy and Albania. Italy shoving Russia into 3rd while Albania leaps up from 17th in official results to 11th with the 2016 system.

      The new system would’ve given Electro Velvet exactly what they deserved as well.

      • Hippo

        Well said, any system that would have Electro Velvet -probably the worst entry this decade- bottom has to have some merit.

        • Chris.Bellis

          No, atrocious though it was, it wasn’t our worst entry! Loads more to choose from.

        • It was bad but doesn’t come anywhere close in badness to That Sounds Shite To Me. That one still gives me PTSD.

          • Chris Bellis

            Couldn’t argue with that. A song from Pete Waterman’s sock- drawer, rejected by Rick Astley donkeys’ years ago and sung by a holiday camp rep. What could go wrong?

        • eurovicious

          If we’re gonna have a row in the comments section about which recent UK entry is worst, we’re going to be here all day…

          Josh: great guy saddled with hopelessly dated song made even more dated by its revamp. He’s a good performer, he does swing/Buble-type stuff so the Eurovision song was perhaps not the best fit. It was a dire NF but he was the best choice – one recalls one of the other finalists forgot the words (perhaps a reflection on the song) and another was hopelessly out of tune. The 2010 selection procedure was a terrible way to follow up the success of 2009.

          Electro Velvet: loved the studio version and they’re wonderful people, performance and staging (and vocals) were catastrophic. Like Josh, they are warm, humble, talented individuals who’ve had a ridiculous amount of vitriolic shit thrown at them by so-called “fans” and have suffered personally as a result, in the case of Bianca without necessarily having the emotional resilience to cope with it. Instead of fans attacking the act, they should take the BBC to task on why it sends performers whose experience and talent are more suited to small local gig level than to a multi-million extravaganza to which other countries send their top stars.

          Gemini: ditto but without the likeability, and everything about it was atrocious.

          Daz Sampson: ah, for those pre-Yewtree days where an inherently suspicious-looking orange man with the charisma of a pumice stone could stiltedly frolic with dancing schoolgirls without anyone thinking amiss of it.

          • Haha, Daz Sampson sent me a private message years ago, having a right old go at me after I referred to him as a simpleton in the ESCtoday comments. I thought it was hilarious.

          • eurovicious

            That’s what you get for going rat-a-tat-tat with the chat Ben.

          • Does Daz Sampson really have nothing better to do these days than argue on Twitter with Ben?

            Oh wait, he probably doesn’t.

          • eurovicious

            Tim Frühling the German radio host got sent a page-long diatribe by Ralph Siegel (via Facebook, appropriately enough) after criticising The Social Network Song in the fairest and most respectful terms in an online show for eurovision.de. He told us this at a fan event.

            Oh and I’d forgotten this, but years ago when I was on Facebook, someone I was connected to posted a pic from an OGAE UK event where one of the special guests was a guy from Love City Groove, and I commented on the pic (he was wearing shades, a goatee and a glittery gold jacket) saying that he looked like David Brent, and the guy saw it and threw a complete tantrum at me…

            Also, in a sadder story, I used to be a huge Global Kryner fan and saw them live 7 times at different venues in southern Germany. (That’s not the sad part, honest.) In 2006 they did a free gig on the main square in Heilbronn and I filmed some of the songs and put them on Youtube (which was fairly new at the time), including their amazing cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic” which they performed as a soundcheck. A few weeks later, the singer Sabine send me a rude, semi-literate private message on Youtube demanding I take the video down as her voice didn’t sound good in it etc. So I took my Global Kryner concert videos down. Then took my Global Kryner poster down. And boxed up and packed away my Global Kryner pens, belt, t-shirt, baseball cap, CDs. Yup, I had all their merchandise. If she’d handled it/phrased it differently I wouldn’t have taken it so badly but it was getting such a nasty message from a great singer who I loved. Especially as not only had their music brought me a lot of joy and I’d brought German friends to their concerts on a couple of occasions, but because I stayed for the encores at their Heilbronn concert I missed the last train back and had to get a taxi costing €60.

            There’s a column in all this, “My Life As A Global Kryner Groupie”. There are worse things for a 23-year-old to be into… years later I did go and see them twice more, including their farewell tour in 2013, so all’s well that ends well…

            In summary: some minor Eurovision acts have fragile egos.

          • The smaller the star the bigger the ego I find. I used to be friends with a Michael Buble tribute who was, to put it mildly, a bit of a cunt.

            Apart from that my claim to fame is getting trolled by Steve Brookstein for calling him “a delicate little flower.”

      • fused

        ‘That Sounds Good To Me’ is definitely the worst one of the last ten years. It was vapid, boring, dated and cheesy. Electro Velvet last year was terrible too.

        I bet I’m the only one who quite liked Bonnie Tyler’s one a couple of years ago!

        Before he did Eurovision, I think Daz Sampson was in Uniting Nations, one of those faceless club-dance acts that pop up in the charts from time to time. They did a cover version of Hall & Oates – ‘Out Of Touch’ in about 2004/2005, and I have to admit I kind of enjoyed it at the time. Putting it politely though, I think Daz Sampson is the sort that’s better behind the scenes than in the spotlight.

  • George

    Of course, while diaspora regains some power it will be much less obvious in the actual show. Belgium giving 12 to Armenia for example looks bad but when it’s merged with the rest it will look like nothing. (I guess that’s some of the motivation behind the change for the EBU, quashing the “political” lobby once and for all).

    This new system definitely benefits countries that do well in one metric and not in the other, however. The UK would have come 8th in 2011 for example. Much less change towards the top of the leaderboard, perhaps the most significant I’ve found being that Italy would have come 2nd last year and Russia 3rd.

  • Hippo

    Good overview of the changes Daniel. I’m going to have to entirely rework the way I do my predictions for this now which is a bit of a pain but I do think some results should be a bit more straightforward now. I’d say it’s easier to predict the televote and jury seperately without having to worry too much about how it will match up for each country. Like you say, the ‘in play ‘ opportunities should be great. I think this will have the biggest effect in the semi finals rather than the final itself and countries that look to be sending novelty or region specific songs such as Greece and Bosnia may get through after all.

  • You know, thinking back to last year. During the final, once I finally realised Australia’s act wasn’t bombastic enough to win and of course having gathered from the voting order that Sweden won the jury vote… I cashed out on the Betfair outright during the final and then piled the whole lot on Sweden who had previously been a maximum red for me, (odds were so short that I had to have some conviction to make it worth it.)

    If they were using this new system last year, I cannot even begin to imagine how horrified and panicked I would have been in those moments between Sweden finishing 3rd in the televote but before we knew it would win anyway.

    The pressure’s on to really be safe this year.

  • Montell

    Does this mean that from now on the scores will be about two times bigger? The winner will collect at least 500 points or more. Did I understand this correct?

    • Montell

      Yes, that’s exactly what is means. I had to read everything twice to understand it 🙂 I think everyone’s gonna love this new system.

      • eurovicious

        I hope so. I hope that now they’ve finally, unexpectedly made a really positive change like this, which smartly solves myriad problems in one fell swoop while actually being even fairer than the 2010-2012 system, that people and the media really get on board with it.

        • It’s a bit of a double edged sword really. On the plus side it’s a raw and organic combination of the preferences that doesn’t compromise or average out anyone. It gives the diaspora back SOME (let’s not overstate it) of that televoting power though. So, when the televotes are being read out at the end, people may well notice a bit of generosity for eastern countries that didn’t do very well with the jury. If people complain about that, then the EBU won’t be able to do anything without going back to one of the previous two systems and taking out that last minute suspense. They’re digging themselves into a bit of a commitment here.

  • Henry VIII

    I’m going to have to rethink and try harder now. The vote reveal order was the main profit for me (and occasionally a life-saving mistake canceller).

    I have to agree though that it seems to be better TV the new way. And degenerate juries can’t annul the public vote.

  • http://escbubble.com/2016/02/is-chameleon-maltas-song-chances-big-that-it-isnt/

    Malta news – apparently they’re getting a special international jury to pick one of 10 songs Ira has recorded, Chameleon is one of them.

    So it looks like we might get a new song from them!

  • Bosnia’s entry has just been released, I really like the melody in this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBxMnUXUZiI

  • Something I just thought of concerning the new system which I don’t think has been made clear.

    With the televote, only getting into the top 10 of an individual country’s vote will net you any points… but I read that the juries will still be ranking the songs top to bottom.

    Does this mean the points of the jury alone are still being worked out using the 2013-2015 system, or are they going back to the 2010-2012 for the juries and making them rank the songs top to bottom for the sake of transparency?

    • Boki

      I read the same, meaning they will still use 2013-2015 system for juries, meaning one grumpy jury member could still drag the overall mark a bit down with a very low rank.

    • eurovicious

      Oh god, I hadn’t thought of this… yes, this is an issue. And it allows juries to punish songs. It means the votes of the individual jury members essentially cancel each other out rather than being added together. Televoters can’t vote against a song or vote for their least favourite, so juries shouldn’t be able to either – look at how they treated Igranka and My slowianie, both highly credible and contemporary East European hip-hop entries that did very well in the televote. The televote can’t be cancelled out anymore, but the way the jury vote is combined means that an entry loved by 3 members but hated by 2 is liable to get fewer jury points that one that all 5 jury members only thought was OK. So this still favours blanding-out and safe songs, which is bad for the contest.

      Since 2013 we’ve seen a very lopsided scoreboard where the songs in the top 10 suck up all the points and the rest of the entries fight for the scraps. Serbia actually made it into the top 10 with just 53 points last year. I suspect this pattern is likely to be repeated but in a less extreme form this year.

      I suspect the reason for the combined jury ranking is to minimize the effect individual corrupt jurors can have on the jury result. Using my 3 loved/2 hated example above, imagine that the 3 jury members scoring the song highly had been bribed to do so, and the 2 who ranked it lowly were non-corrupt and simply responding to the entry on its own terms. That’s the motivation for averaging out rather than adding up the jury scores.

      Now that the televote matters, will dodgy countries start buying SIM cards again?

      • I don’t think it’s an issue. I think consensus among a country’s jury is a good thing. We all know that individual jurors can be biased, rogue or bribed. They’re not cancelling out the televote, so I think as well as being a raw, organic 50/50 combination, it’s still representing a healthy balance between the two previous systems.

        As for SIM card buying, the EBU appear to have taken steps to crack down on this. I mean it can’t be a coincidence that Azerbaijan’s sudden fall from grace happened straight after that Lithuanian paper leaked the video of those Russian guys in the restaurant.

      • Any credibility that My Slowianie or Igranka had as standalone songs was eroded by the staging, in both cases.

      • Henry VIII

        “Igranka and My slowianie, both highly credible” ROFL :))

        Anyway credibility is overrated now with the public having their unrestrained say again. Look at Verka and Lordi. And even the juries couldn’t stop the grannies getting to 2nd.

  • Chris Bellis

    “Now that the televote matters, will dodgy countries start buying SIM cards again?” You mean Azerbaijan, EV? Which other countries have gained real benefit from this practice?
    On another matter, the re-entry of Bulgaria is welcome, but I can’t see them getting past the new system of voting any more than they did with the old ones. Good luck to her anyway.
    http://www.standartnews.com/english/read/poli_genova_is_bulgarias_eurovision_candidate-10750.html

  • God, Songvakeppnin was nailbiting stuff last night. For a moment I thought Iceland was going to throw away their one and only chance of winning this thing.

    I still think Hear Them Calling is a strong contender. Certainly in a (so far) lacklustre year it’s the only act that people are getting particularly excited about. The staging needs a bit of work between now and Stockholm to get everything just right, but that doesn’t strike me as anything that isn’t fixable.

    As for those who say it’s too much like Loreen or Mans, I believe it was Jean-Paul Sartre who said, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

    • Ben Cook

      Personally I find “Hear Them Calling” irritating, but I agree it’s a potential winner. The staging is wonderful and it’s a catchy chorus. I can definitely see the credits rolling over it.

  • Hippo

    Poland seem to have moved into second place in the winner market on betfair and are getting matched under 10. If this is based on Margaret’s entry I think I’m loosing the plot.

  • Still surprisingly long odds on Iceland. Worth putting a punt down.

  • So Jamala has won in Ukraine. I honestly don’t get the fuss over that song, it’s just mumbling noise to a trip-hop beat to me. I know certain people who are saying “Kiev 2017”, they honestly need to get their heads checked.

    • Ben Cook

      It’s probably a bit too leftfield to win, but it’s going to do very well.

    • Hippo

      Could be this year’s Suus. I can see it mopping up jury points, particularly in the East and getting enough of a televote to supplement it. Can it win? Of course not. It doesn’t have anywhere near enough wide appeal. Looking pretty good for top 5 though.

    • eurovicious

      I agree with both of you. I like the vibe, I obviously like her vocal, but it doesn’t work for me, and the English lyrics and diction are a mess. In terms of being a vocally impressive soundscape with incoherent lyrics and weak structure, it’s Gravity’s tonal mirror twin. In terms of how clear the sentiment and message is, what the song’s actually about, 1944 (will she be allowed to keep the title?) is closer to the opaque Don’t Deny than to either Razom nas bahato (message conveyed very clearly in lyrics, outfits and choreo) or Mika Newton’s Angel (message absent from song but conveyed artfully by Kseniya Simonova the sand lady). Your average viewer doesn’t know what a Crimean Tatar is (your average viewer in the north of England probably thinks it’s a type of potato.) As the song doesn’t convey a clear narrative, it’s again down to commentators to tell viewers at home – half of whom won’t be paying close attention – what it’s about. That said, I think it stands to get more sympathy points than something like Don’t Deny because everyone knows about Ukraine and Crimea, and Jamala is effective at vocally conveying pain/suffering/loss.

      If Turkey were participating, this would score highly from them, as Crimean Tatar is mutually intelligible with Turkish (and Azeri,) and Turkish viewers know and care about their brethren on the other side of the Black Sea. I’m intrigued to see whether it gets much love from Azerbaijan.

      Look at how well the weak Tick Tock did though – and from the opening position. And Gravity the year before. Top 10 and most likely top 5 nailed on, top 3 v plausible.

  • I’m loving Jamala’s 1944. Obviously it will be in both the jury and televote Top 10 in Stockholm. Looking forward to the revamp now.

  • Hoping we are getting special coverage of You Decide this week… would be a shame to not given the site’s excellent track record at covering X Factor.

    I’m gonna ask it. Referendum. Could it have a bearing on our fortunes?

  • Ukraine won’t win. In an evening of 26 songs back to back, why would a morbid tribute to past tragedies make people sit up, point at the screen and go “that’s the winner!”? Sad songs don’t win Eurovision. Golden rule.

    • One possible elephant in the room is the EBU rule on political lyrics and gestures. During the final they weren’t even pretending 1944 wasn’t a political statement, even down to Ruslana interrogating a Russian-speaking entrant on his “political position” and demanding that he declare his loyalty to Ukraine.

      I guess it depends how strictly the EBU decide to enforce the politics rule. Somehow I can’t see Russia not kicking up a fuss about it.

  • Henry VIII

    Could all the Poland naysayers above please pick holes in the following:

    In Poland the market finally has a justifiable new favourite as we haven’t even heard Russia. Objectively, whether you like the song or not, it is the stuff of chart number ones and has the highest YouTube growth of any of the ESC 2016 crop.

    It has many similarities with Lena and Satellite. (Except green innocence replaced by a polished performer – both have pluses). It’s exactly the type of song that the competition organisers want to do well. On top of that Poland were complaining and withdrew in recent years so a win for them would be another plus.

    Eurovision Poland are also getting this message so I imagine a pimp slot for Margaret on 5/3. SMS voting too (iirc its only SMS voting).

    • eurovicious

      It’s not vocally driven, it’s not emotive, and it’s the type of song that’s ten-a-penny a lot of places. I don’t see a similarity to Lena or Satellite(?) at all, more to Rita Ora or something like that. Satellite was indie-pop in sound and approach, insofar as Lena’s entire shtick is copied from Kate Nash. To me Cool Me Down just sounds like a weaker version of a typical Ronela Hajati song. I know nothing about Margaret, but Poland’s record is weak, and upbeat pop songs that don’t have some sort of emotional narrative at their heart and are instead just about partying or whatever don’t tend to do well at ESC these days.

      • Henry VIII

        Similarities:
        1 Young pretty girl;
        2 Quirky song;
        3 Personal song about their sexuality;
        4 From an ESC backwater country that ESC promote in their policy of negating block votes.

      • Henry VIII

        “It’s not vocally driven, it’s not emotive, and it’s the type of song that’s ten-a-penny a lot of places.”

        I think this statement is nonsense but, as it’s subjective, try to tackle the objective metrics eg the song is popular.

        • eurovicious

          I’ll wait till I see Cool Me Down performed, but it’s not subjective to say that (for instance) Popular or Tooji’s Stay, or indeed Satellite, aren’t vocally driven. And that’s not because they’re upbeat – Euphoria is very vocally driven. I make the statement about songs like Cool Me Down being ten-a-penny based on my knowledge of Albanian and Romanian pop music, two countries which churn out songs like this a lot. Poland doesn’t, so I accept that this sort of pop song is quite unusual for them. I do agree with your Satellite comparison in that Satellite is one of the shallowest winners – in my articles discussing how recent winners have typically had an “overcoming darkness” theme or represent a moment of birth/rebirth/transition (or personal triumph), I included Satellite as an exception. Of course, while Satellite was about the carefree joy of finding new love, which is an important and highly relatable life landmark, Cool Me Down is about… being horny?

    • Hippo

      I wouldn’t be so sure that juries will give it a push just because it has chart potential and to keep Poland happy. I think Greece 2014 and rise up -one of the most contemporary entries with chart potential that year -coming a lowly 19th with juries is a bit of a warning. Also, I’m not sure the Ebu would mind dreadfully to lose Poland again (unlike Italy 2011) and there were doubts they’d be allowed even to participate due to media laws.

      I also worry about staging too. I can imagine with lyrics like ‘cool me down’ there could be a raunchy performance which I don’t think would go well, an example of which the same country gave us just two years ago.

      • Henry VIII

        ?? Greece is a block vote country. Why should they give it a push up?

        If Cool Me Down makes it to the ESC final I’m sure it will get a great slot in the running order (as did Satellite).

        • eurovicious

          Or they could put it on first like they did with Tick Tock to get the show started off with something upbeat. “I’m sure it will get a great slot in the running order” – now that’s a subjective (and concerningly overconfident) statement…

      • The gamble on Poland is silly and reminds me of the one on Slovenia this time last year. Backing something based almost solely on YouTube views is a risky strategy. If these representative of actual contest results, then Poland would’ve won by a landslide in 2014 over Austria and Armenia, instead of failing to make the Top 10. Electro Velvet for the UK would’ve finished 11th last year instead of almost last etc.

        • Donal

          Am inclined to agree with Tim, this time last year Estonia were 4/1 and Slovenia were mostly under 10/1 with the bookies. Both countries continued to rank highly in the polls as will Poland this year, however this does not mean we have a winner. The odds available on Margaret at present do not really represent value for money in my opinion.

  • UK songs are out, for me this is easily the best song, it has great staging potential, but knowing my fellow countrymen they will never pick it in a million years, bah. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/2v4bgkXH9wTgQ0j8P4ZxHn3/darline

    • Ben Cook

      Darline seems to be slightly ahead with the fans so far, but I think it might come down to who performs best on the night. Certainly my favourite. One I’m most worried about winning is Karl as it reminds me of the Irish entry only even blander.

      I think it’s safe to say we won’t be winning ESC but it could be worse. I’d have picked Molly over any of the 6.

    • Hippo

      I Listened to the full show on radio 2 and despite paying close attention, couldn’t for the life of me remember any of the eurovision songs, which isn’t a great start. After listening a few times I think shine a little light is the best, followed closely by Darline. The rest are serious last place contenders, I can’t believe Miracle has been being worked on for four years, I could do better in an hour. Anyway, there’s no winner, no top 10 no left hand side of scoreboard. If Molly got 17th from the pimp slot, I think we have to be looking 20th and down. I don’t know who’ll get the ticket, but I’ll be a pessimist and say Joe and Jake, no juries after all.

    • It’s got to be Bianca for me. I’m very much in my more emotional state of mind than analytical at the moment so bear with me, but I’m genuinely a bit pissed off that the BBC would push some faux, unmoving attempt at an inspirational anthem with a soulless Swedish sheen in the pimp slot (at least going by radio running order) when there is a very significant alternative staring us in the face.

      Can we take a moment to think about how much so many of us would have wanted Leona Lewis to represent us a couple of years ago? Well now she can because Bianca’s song was co-written by her! Why should we go nuts for something that would get put in the pimp slot of a Melodifestivalen semi final and then flop when we’ve actually got something with the sound of a genuine British superstar bleeding through the chorus? None of the six are going to win for us so can we please do ourselves justice and send Bianca? We’re a country of far too much talent to fall victim to the Swedification of Eurovision and for the first time we’ve got an entry in Bianca that would just do us proud regardless of the result.

      • Ben Cook

        I’m a big Leona fan (and Biff Stannard as well) but I’m a bit disappointed with the song. It’s only 2nd to Darline for me. It was clearly rejected from her recent ropey album.

        • fused

          “It was clearly rejected from [Leona’s] recent ropey album”

          Well, to be fair, so was ‘Burn’ by Ellie Goulding, and that became a huge hit. But then again, ‘Burn’ was probably always more suitable for Ellie Goulding than Leona Lewis anyway. I can’t see ‘Shine A Little Light’ doing well either in the contest or the charts, but of the 6 it’s the one I like best so far.

      • eurovicious

        a “faux, unmoving attempt at an inspirational anthem with a soulless Swedish sheen” is exactly what I hear in the chorus of Bianca’s song. The verse is fine but it and the chorus don’t sit well together at all.

        • *INHALE*
          ….Kooooooz Frahbah.

        • I had to take some time to find a way to word this properly. I disagree that Bianca’s song is generic. To me, that word means literally any country could come up with it, but I cannot imagine Bianca’s song coming out of anywhere in Europe other than here or maybe Ireland. There’s a heartfelt elegance and emotional lift in the chorus. Yes it is of a style that you would typically hear in UK pop, but where you see that as a negative I see it as a positive. In terms of music, we’ve been fairly erratic at Eurovision for quite a while now but we’ve never really sent a genuine example of contemporary British music because of the stigma associated with the contest. Blue were ‘close but no cigar’, and 5 years on, many regard them as our best entry in recent memory. Certainly the best performing with televoters by a mile. We need to find a good foundation ground for the UK in the modern contest. To me I see Bianca as a golden opportunity, and I think her song is also the most broadly appealing for televoters and juries without trying too hard to impress. It’s competitive while letting us be ourselves.

          Darline’s song is fine but I find it feather-light and insubstantial, I’d rather send Dulcima than them. They give me a slightly Scottish maritime vibe, they’re rough around the edges, but they won’t win the NF. Karl’s song is just dreadfully boring and sterile while trying to sound rousing and inspirational. It’s fine to play in the background on some emotionally manipulative VT for Children in Need, but not for Eurovision. It has no UK flavour in it at all. It literally sounds like something you’d find in the pimp slot in a Melodifestivalen heat only for it to flop into Andra Chansen.

  • Betfair Exchange now have a UK NF market up. Darline currently favourite at 2.36. Joe & Jake and Karl are next, trading at 3.7.

    Darline, Joe & Jake or Bianca for me. Not feeling the other three at all.

  • I’ve bet on Bianca. Price has just come in following me doing that. Like Ben says, I think the Leona connection will sell it.

  • eurovicious

    Don’t like any of them but I think Darline may be the best choice for the contest, though I like A Better Man best. Certainly I think Darline is a better choice than Karl or Bianca.

    • Henry VIII

      We agree 😀

      Two young girls both playing guitars (and singing sweetly) must have the best chance out of the atrocities, ie the least bad.

  • fused

    Just on first impression, but I think all the 6 potential UK entrants are all nice enough to listen to, but all a bit bland. The Bianca one is the only one I could say I actively ‘like’, and even then it’s more of a “think that one will grow on me the most”. There isn’t a great deal or variety with those songs, so I’m not sure which one will be the public’s choice.

    • Black n Blue

      I backed Joe & Jake earlier this afternoon. It’s radio friendly, got a decent hook, two guys that’ll be nice to look at and I think very much something for the younger viewer.

      Darline is my own favourite, but I think what we’ve seen from NF’s and previous contests before is that anything remotely country cannot succeed without an excellent production and live performance that communicates the message in the most accessible way possible. It’s a bit of an ask for the girls. Bianca has the strongest chorus here, but it’s the reggae inspired verse that kills it. If the verses were used to build the melody toward some sort of climax I’d have it down as a likely victor.

      So it’s Joe & Jake for me. My initial impression of Darline and Bianca is that they’d have needed some kind of professional jury vote to win, I can’t be confident the public will get either of them unless of course a live performance/Excellent production can win them over.

  • As a personal preference I’d say Darline, but overall I’d say the UK is making Denmark’s mistake of playing it so safe they utterly fail to stand out.

    • Henry VIII

      UK didn’t play safe last year and all the fanboys crucified them for it 🙁

      • eurovicious

        Yup, exactly. Last year they chose something outside the box without involving fans and were met with opprobrium; this year, in response, they’ve played it incredibly safe and involved “fans” (in the form of OGAE) heavily. I wish they’d have stuck with the BBC Introducing approach they began with Molly. Her unexpectedly poor placing wasn’t a reason to give up on it.

        • Henry VIII

          Consulting fans is a disaster. Choosing their own finalist(s) is a disaster too. They should have an open competition like Sweden.

        • Ben Cook

          They haven’t involved the fans that heavily. Only one of the songs came from the open submission. They clearly only got the OGAE members to listen to the submissions A) to appease them and B) so they didn’t have to sift through hundreds of useless songs. 4 of the 6 were scouted by Hugh Goldsmith.

        • Molly did better than Engelbert, Bonnie and Electro Velvet. In fact she scored higher than pretty much any of our acts in recent years apart from Blue and Jade Ewen (one an already internationally successful act, the other backed by a world-famous composer). I still think using BBC Introducing was a sound idea.

          • Henry VIII

            If there had been a competition like MF their nerves and poor staging would have shown up first then and not first at the ESC final.

  • Hippo

    Minus one for Cyprus have released their entry:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kQMSPkGoQrY

    It’s a tough semi and Montenegró will be doing something similar so they could struggle but it’s a good enough attempt and they seem to have a lot of backing to do a good show. I think this can see them qualify.

  • Love this from Eurovision Apocalypse:

    “Cyprus have turned to the rock for this year’s Eurovision entry. Or at least according to the rank and file fansters. But one close listen will tell you a whole different story. There may be guitars and serious gurns to the camera from a pug ugly drummer, that much is true. But that’s just about where it ends. […] So what they’ve ended up delivering is a song that wouldn’t be out of place in the lower reaches of a MelFest semi-final, but smoothed some slightly fuzzy guitars over it, and set the drum machine to ‘Phil Collins’, and have tried to palm it off as meaningful rock. Not on my watch, sunbeam.”

  • Back to the UK NF.

    I’ve switched horses. Cashed out on Bianca – at a profit – and gone in on Darline. Karl’s got a lot of traction on social media and coverage in gay magazine Attitude, but fear it might be a fanwank.

    • Completely agree that Karl’s song is a fanwank. It’s got OGAE endorsement written all over it and that’s probably why it was given the pimp slot on the radio (which I likely believe is the actual show’s running order. Seems like that’s how the BBC would do it.)

      The worry for me is that the NF will have an audience small enough for the fanboys to get their way. I will be voting as much as I reasonably can for Bianca, personally.

    • Hippo

      Agree with Ben here that the small audience could lead to the fanwank entry getting picked, and that definitely is Karl. I know it’s been argued on here before that having the final on BBC 4 prevents an uninterested audience taking the piss, but that’s a moot point where there’s no novelty song. Having the show tucked away will mean it will be those interested – the vast majority fanboys-who’ll be voting and that might not go well.
      At the moment, I think it’s a pretty even four horse race between Bianca, Joe and Jake, Darline and Karl and a lot will come down to the show itself (running order, vt of Leona Lewis promoting Bianca?, sob story) so I’m avoiding this final heavily from a betting perspective. On the upside, if it is Karl, that could give a lot of great bets latter such as opposing in any head to head, bottom five, even last place.

    • eurovicious

      I think the songs are sufficiently samey and the voting demographic sufficiently small and unpredictable that going in big on any one entry right now is unwise. That said, I think Darline stands out the most and I’d anticipate it to be the most popular among fans and non-fans. But it’s a lottery – and, of course, we need to see the performances.

    • I’m not sure Karl should be considered a fanwank, I’ve barely seen anyone say that they like it. Are there any online polls out there for this yet?

  • Mr Wolf

    Does anyone have an opinion on Unser Lied für Stockholm?
    Jamie-Lee is a favourite but may there be any serious opposition from Avantasia or Gregorian considering German local scene? “Ghost” would have a lot of potential in a final competition in Stockholm but I’m a bit scared of German local cultural singularity..although the song seem have gone pretty viral over there and has already pretty impressive following it doesn’t seem very possible to see a runaway victory on Thursday (considering competitors)..?

    • eurovicious

      Not listened to the songs other than Ghost, I’m saving myself. Germans like middle-of-the-road melancholy but, as we saw the past two years with the wildcard act, are very prepared to support charismatic newcomers/underdogs. Gregorian and Avantasia are probably too genre – in the past few years Santiano, Die Priester, Unheilig and Faun all failed to take the trophy.

  • annie

    did anyone follow ADal (hungarian NF) ? final is this week. It seems that Freddie has it in the bag, doesn´t it? and I guess he has a decent shot to do well in Stockholm.

  • Ben Cook

    Going by the polls it seems like a two horse race between Darline and Bianca. Karl would have to seriously pull something out of the bag to win with such a poor song.

    Darline FTW – by no means an ESC winner but I’d rather we sent two cute girls with guitars and a lovely country song than a solo girl singing a generic Euro ballad.

    • Ron

      This final could be a lot more open than people imagine though. None of the acts have any sort of profile and it’s anybody’s guess who the televoters might go for on the night, especially as we don’t know yet how they will sound live.

  • I’ve also backed Darline. It’s the least objectionable of a mediocre bunch of songs and I also think it’d pick up a few 3s and 4s on the big night to possibly haul us towards something called “respectability”….(13th/14th??)

  • Hippo

    Bbc tweet:

    ‘You Decide panel! Katrina, Carrie Grant & staging director Jay Revell who’s worked with Ellie Goulding & Ella Eyre'”

    Not the most impressive panel ever. Let’s see which way they try to sway people.

  • Mr Wolf

    What are your thoughts on Cartoon – Immortality (Eesti Laul)?
    Social media following is pretty impressive (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a–V2nZBtXM) + original hologram show in their live performance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESpmNbYgD8g). There were some vocal problems in semi-final tho.
    But pretty innovative stuff.
    Its probably gonna be them (more probable if vocals are gonna be better in final) or Pootsmann to win the Eesti Laul.

    • Can’t see Cartoon making it really. The semi final performances in Eesti Laul have all been unusually over-produced and as in previous years have been pre-recorded rather than performed in front of an audience. In the final on March 5th we’ll get to see the acts for real in the big venue in Tallinn where the 2002 contest took place. There’s no way Cartoon would be able to take a performance consisting almost entirely of a video to Eurovision. I doubt they’ll get away with the same performance even in the Eesti Laul final. It’s clear that in the “real” part of the last few moments of their performance, they haven’t got any ideas. Add that to the poor vocals and I’ve written Cartoon off.

      Juri Pootsmann is still very much in play but I still cross my fingers that Estonia will be a bit bolder than usual and go for one of the more alternative songs which are actually better than the safe options this year. Usually that’s not the case. My favourite in that regard is I Wear* Experiment or Mick Pedaja, but I wouldn’t mind Laura otherwise. She isn’t a good singer but I do like her style. Juri’s song is dead boring.

    • Black n Blue

      Won’t be expecting Cartoon either. I’m glad Go away Bird and I Wear made it to the final ten, each would make for a deserving winner in my book. Laura and Juri, looked and sounded crap in their semis, both of whom seem like very unconvincing market leaders considering there’s better material out there.

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