Eurovision 2016: Melodifestivalen Final

It’s the final weekend of selection season, which means Melodifestivalen final on Saturday night. The Swedish contest usually has a significant bearing on the Eurovision market, and this year is no exception.

Sweden is already a short-priced favourite to double up on home soil, based on expectations it’ll be represented by 17-year-old Frans, singing ‘If I Were Sorry‘. Hugely impressive sales and streams since his semi-final performance should translate into a massive televote on the night. I’ll be surprised if that’s then negated by international juries, as happened to Yohio in 2013.

image

Rightly or wrongly, how well Frans does with those juries will be used as evidence of just how Eurovision-friendly the package is. If the international juries reward this intimate, vulnerable performance, Sweden’s odds will come in further. My guess is they will, and we’ll have a very short-priced favourite come May.

Saturday’s other final is in Lithuania, where Donny Montell attempts to overturn his semi-final defeat to Erica Jennings. Otherwise, we’re waiting on a new Maltese song, an Albanian revamp and the Azerbaijani, Serbian and Bulgarian entries as Monday’s deadline looms. That’s when the Heads of Delegation meet in Stockholm for a few days. Amongst other tasks, a random draw will be made to decide the host’s running order position in the final. This will be another big moment at the head of the outright market.

Plenty of selections have been made since the last article. For the third time in the last five years, Sweden’s closest rival in the market looks like being Russia after Sergey Lazarev’s ‘You Are The Only One‘ galloped into fanboys’ hearts last Saturday. The song sits firmly in the canon of its Greek producer Dmitris Kontopoulos, which includes Eurovision classics like ‘Shady Lady’ and ‘Hold Me’.

The question is: how far has Eurovision moved on from this kind of noughties schlager banger? Last year, the likes of Mans, Loic and Aminata seemed to show that something more current and credible was required under the jury and televote ranking system. But there’s less competition this year, and the ranking system has been dropped. Those Russian televote points will stand, and unlike in 2015, there’s nothing the likes of the Lithuanian jury can do about it.

Still, each overall winner since the return of juries in 2009 has been placed at least second by those national panels (the lowest overall placing among either the televoting or jury constituency being third). ‘You Are The Only One’ is the kind of package that in a normal year manages top ten rather than top five in the jury vote, like Eric Saade for example. Russia is thus relying on the weakness of the competition to win the prize.

Current third favourites are Croatia, who return with Voice winner Nina Kraljic. ‘Lighthouse‘ has been described as Ellie Goulding meets Emmelie De Forest, though I think it lacks the drive and melodic insistence of ‘Only Teardrops’. Like Russia’s ‘You Are The Only One’, it has a redundant middle eight followed by a clunky key change, which detracts from an otherwise enchanting song. It’s another that’s a short enough price in the circumstances, but there is potential based on Nina’s strong vocals.

Australia’s trajectory in the outright market this week has been instructive. A teaser of ‘Sound of Silence‘ from X Factor winner Dami Im saw it shorten into 6.0 the outright market, but since the full song was released yesterday, it now stands at 20.0. The power ballad just doesn’t develop sufficiently (if at all) over the three minutes. Still, it’s a well-produced song with a sterling performer, and I don’t expect Australia to be discredited in May.

The biggest “shock” in national final season came in Poland where Michal Szpak overturned contest favourite Margaret. ‘Color Of Your Life‘ is a rather dated ballad with no less than two key changes, though there’s no denying the impressive vocals. Veering much further into melodramatic musical theatre territory is Romania’s Ovidiu Anton with ‘Moment of Silence‘. Both are in the weaker second semi-final, though it still feels like Romania’s perfect qualifying record is under threat.

Elsewhere in that second semi-final, we’ve been promised a major revamp of Israel’s ‘Made of Stars‘, which is wise, though Hovi Star was the best choice in the final round of a nail-bitingly close contest. FYROM’s Kaliopi makes her return with ‘Dona‘. As in 2012, she’ll be relying on her vocal skills and voting allies, rather than the pull of the song, if she’s to make it to the final.

The first semi-final will be a tougher heat, though I’d be hopeful of the Netherlands’ qualification chances despite a muted reaction to Douwe Bob’s ‘Slow Down‘. Expectations were high for a worthy sequel to ‘Calm After The Storm’ in 2014, and ‘Slow Down’ has an excellent, Eagles-esque build with some wonderful instrumentation. However, the chorus underwhelms in its failure to develop, a criticism that can be made of many entries this year.

Estonia’s Juri Pootsmann gives us an altogether darker retro number in ‘Play‘. I felt it was the deserving winner of Eesti Laul, but the overall package is rather brooding and less voter-friendly than the Netherlands’ sunnier offering. It’s in the qualification mix alongside the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Guncikova. Her ballad ‘I Stand‘ is another song that doesn’t really develop sufficiently, but she’s an excellent vocalist, and my guess is that producers will grant her the pimp slot given the country’s failure to ever reach the final.

Three less competent entries in the first semi-final include Greece’s messy ‘Utopian Land‘, with its ethno elements and simplistic chorus. With doubts over Argo’s live capabilities, the country’s 100% qualification record will be tested this year. Montenegro’s Highway give us something equally incoherent in ‘The Real Thing‘. But neither can compete with San Marino’s Serhat for sheer hopelessness. ‘I Didn’t Know‘ would be my defence too.

Let us know your continued thoughts below.

227 comments to Eurovision 2016: Melodifestivalen Final

  • Netherlands 2016 reminded me a bit of Estonia 2003 and Malta 2013. It’s all pleasant, but I can’t help feeling a bit underwhelmed.

    ‘Calm After The Storm’ still is underrated as a song as of today I think. I loved the simple, repetitive melody. Earcatchy as hell. It was….truly unique in the field, regardless of the staging.

    ‘Slow Down’ for me is more OK-ish and lacks a certain ‘streamlined’ melody.

    One thing I have to say though, Eurovision has changed into a contest in which the more simple, intimate songs can truly work again. The trend was set with entries like Hungary 2013 and especially Netherlands 2014. With it the almost cinematographical approach of camerawork is doing wonders to smaller entries. And Frans has another of those entries.

    Secondly, Eurovision songs become more and more ‘a-typical’ and they mirror the bigger non-Eurovision hit counterparts as well. Loic Nottet (Stromae), Amir (Dotan), The Common Linnets (The Civil Wars), Conchita and Juri Pootsmann (The recent Oscar winning Bond ballads, Sam Smith, Adele), Guy Sebastian (Bruno Mars), Lena Meyer-Landrut (Lily Allen), Mans Zelmerlöw (‘Lovers On The Sun’, David Guetta) Jamie-Lee Kriewitz (Oh-Land) and Alexander Rybak (Mika) are just a few examples.

    But the fact is Eurovision has really become more relevant. It has become a music platform as well, refurbishing some careers (Ilse DeLange as Common Linnet) and creating some hits (‘Euphoria’).

    Having said all that, Russia is lagging behind compared to above examples.

  • Random fan

    Slow Down is right up there with Calm After the Storm. It’s a grower. Get into the groove and it won’t let you go.

    • Ben Cook

      I agree.. it’s going to come alive on stage and do very well

      • Ron H

        Being Dutch off course I truly hope so, but I am still recoving from Hans Pannecoukes staging form last year. He is getting a third chance in a row this year, but I’ll be waiting to bet for Douwe Bob untill the first rehearsals.

      • Ron H

        If i’m not mistaken Frans may have just won melodifestivalen 2016 (based on the applause of the audience).

  • PurpleKylie

    Now that MF is finished, it’s worth pointing out that since the proportional televote scoring was introduced in 2011, Frans got the LOWEST televote scores of any MF winner since then, even Robin Stjernberg got about 76 points.

    Considering that he was expected to win the televote by a landslide I would say that is extremely underwhelming.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but Frans’ stats for winning Melodifestivalen were relatively poor compared to the last few years.

    2011 – Eric Saade – 81 jury, 112 televote
    2012 – Loreen 114 jury, 154 televote
    2013 – Robin Stjernberg 91 jury, 75 televote
    2014 – Sanna Nielsen 90 jury, 122 televote
    2015 – Mans Zelmerlow 122 jury, 166 televote
    2016 – Frans 88 jury, 68 televote

    Not saying he definitely won’t win Eurovision, but that doesn’t bode well for Frans’ chances of winning really.

    • Ande

      The televote was underwelming but the jury score was suprisingly strong. A normal year this would indicate a top 3 placement among ESC juries and a 15+ placement with televoters. However, there’s good reason for thinking of this as a freak occurrence.

    • Ande

      This i not a normal year as the appvoting has skewed the televote percentages and made the race seem tighter than it actually was. The last placer recieved 2-6 times the share of votes in normal years while the second placer only got 40-60%.

      Also keep in mind that this year was highly competetive with 12 contestants compared to 10 in most previous MFs. I’d say that his televote is comparable to the 35-40% range of traditional televoting.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Nothing really stands out in this years Eurovision for me,I may have to rethink Germany or even Iceland’s chances of winning, all songs and artists are forgettable IMO, can’t see anything winning from a first half draw, not this year…

  • Hippo

    Frans did better than I expected with the juries but a lot worse than expected by anyone in the televote (I’d have guessed around 28-30%) and a lot more analysis on that result will be needed.

    Anyways, there’s a few reasons I’m not at all confident in his chances.
    As has been said, a huge part of the attraction to Frans is that he is the ‘anti-mans zelmerlow’. He was the breath of fresh air in Melodifestivalen from the projection technology, wind machines, 200 camera shot performances and typical elaborate staging. His gimmick is that he has no gimmick. That isn’t enough to trade on at Eurovision itself, and there will be similar gimmickless performances as there are every year. Without being an expert on his background, I do think there is a sort of underdog perception to him from the Zlatan days -the young cute kid up against established artists which again will not play out as much.

    The international response has also been mixed.
    Whilst fan sites are hardly the broadest range of opinions, the fact that he is came 5th, 6th, 10th in MF polls has to be a concern. Frans isn’t even a sort of anti-fan entry like rock for example – it’s a sweet song sung by a young, inoffensive guy. Typical Eurovision fan demographic is the sort of area I’d expect Frans to be drawing a lot more support from.

    The vast majority of people don’t sit there watching Eurovision eagle eyed, weighing up each entry, people talk to each other, eat snacks, are on mobiles texting and tweeting- you need something to grab the attention – a cartoon character, a bearded drag queen, monster rockers or in the absence of that a strong and loud vocal. Even tonight Frans apparently struggled to stand out -surrounded by polished acts

    If Frans gets drawn anywhere near the first half of the show, that’s his hopes gone. While I accept it’s an entry which will have its fans, due to the nature of the song and performance it will get forgotten if it’s drawn early in the running order. If it does get first 10 or so I think it will go the way of similar slow paced, one young guy entries like Tom Dice (14th with televoters) and more pointedly Paradise Oscar (21st with Televoters) which shows the effect of running order compared to his semi final result.

    Host voting lag could also take its toll. I would argue it does exist and that the last three host’s entries all performed below most people’s expectation on the televote. At the end of the day, the viewer is asked if they want to vote for Sweden – not Frans , and I feel this will have an impact.

    The result was too narrow also. If he had been pipped by one of the other entries the odds would have gone to 20s or so I’m guessing, so why then has him narrowly scraping through not had more of an impact on the odds? He needs to beat much better than he just did in May to have a chance.

    Finally, I can’t help feeling that this entry is only so low in the odds because it is Sweden. If this won A Dal or won the Slovenian National final and charted high in those countries, the odds would be much higher. Whatever comes through MF was always going to chart well, purely because the public is more engaged not because it’s better than anything else any other country has offered.

    Now I’ve been very negative here, but he is a contender if he draws 20th or later on Monday. He is amongst the seven or eight I feel can win but like all of those, I can find a lot more faults than positives, and as we know he can’t really improve much in comparison to other contenders, I can see no value at all in backing him and I can make a stronger case for the others on my shortlist.

    • Ben Cook

      “The international response has also been mixed.
      Whilst fan sites are hardly the broadest range of opinions, the fact that he is came 5th, 6th, 10th in MF polls has to be a concern. Frans isn’t even a sort of anti-fan entry like rock for example – it’s a sweet song sung by a young, inoffensive guy. Typical Eurovision fan demographic is the sort of area I’d expect Frans to be drawing a lot more support from.”

      I disagree with this. This is the antithesis to the schlager pop that Melodifestivalen fans want to see win in Sweden. I’m not a huge fan of him or the song myself – but I can totally see the appeal. This is the sound of 2016. It’s going to be a huge hit around Europe, and probably win Eurovision too.

      And whilst he did have a novelty hit in Sweden 10 years ago, he had no real profile or fanbase before 2 weeks ago – people just like the song.

      I see your point about “host voting lag” though, and it’ll be interesting to see if a country can win two on the trot in the televoting era.

      • eurovicious

        I agree up to a point. The MF devotees and OGAYs don’t like it because the vocal is bad (a criticism I share), because it’s not a sparkly pop package and because they’re not the target audience (girls and their mums). It’s still a calculated package in a faux-sincere, stripped-back way, just not slick, poppy and overproduced like the Swedophiles go for. It’s Instagram filter as song, basically; the whole thing’s a deliberately bare-bones, pseudo-amateurish vehicle for Frans’s perceived personality. If Harry Styles released it as a solo single it’d go to #1, but I don’t think juries will support it enough for it to be win Eurovision. A true challenger would be getting much broader support at this stage.

      • Chris bellis

        Pretty much agree. I can see no need to dispense with my “Sweden top five, UK bottom five” formula which has stood me in such good stead.

    • eurovicious

      Thank you for this excellent run-through Hippo, I basically agree with everything you’ve written.

  • Ben Cook

    Two good reasons why the televoting points weren’t as high for Frans as usual though – when you televote at the end you’re only likely to pick your one or two favourites, whereas with a free app that you’re using throughout the show, you’re going to vote for every song you like. That purple heart was going mental for almost every song. And secondly, it was a very strong final. There were 12 million votes! So people who were voting for Frans were also voting for Wiktoria, Oscar etc. I think they’ll consider going back to the old system of dividing the televotes next year.

    From Wiwibloggs:

    “Frans has placed in the top 3 in Switzerland and Taiwan, top 10 in Iceland and the top 40 in Uruguay, the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, France, Denmark, Turkey and Germany. Frans has also reached the Top 30 on the Global Viral Chart.”

    • PurpleKylie

      They’re talking about the VIRAL charts, not the overall national Spotify charts. I did the research and it’s possible to do well on the Viral Charts without even being in the Top 200 of the overall charts. This Monday Frans was #11 on the UK Viral Chart and yet nowhere to be seen in the overall Top 200, which by the way you need about 25,000 daily streams to sneak in at #200.

      Come back to me once he starts cracking the overall Spotify charts and not some useless “trendseeking” chart.

      • Ben Cook

        I know that, but what other entries this year are even making the viral charts?

        • I’ve never heard anyone mention the Spotify viral chart with regards to any Eurovision entry before. Depending on how you look at it, that means this is either impressive for Frans, or it’s completely irrelevant.

          I think rather than take that at face value, it’s better to find out what exactly has happened to get him on that chart rather than one based on actual listens, and then decide how significant that is. I mean, in Taiwan it’s most likely just Taiwanese ESC fanboys making noise on social media, and I wonder if Spotify is even relevant in Taiwan anyway? I know CDs are still king in Japan.

          • fused

            TV viewing has become quite international nowadays thanks to the internet. Not only is it a lot easier to see programmes from other countries now, but it’s possible to gain a sizeable following. I’d say that’s generally a good thing for a franchise and for individual performers. It’s been speculated that Cher Lloyd’s US success, brief though it might have been, was partly because after One Direction got big over there some of their fans decided to watch their X Factor series on YouTube, and a few of them liked Cher Lloyd from her performances in that series.

            But it does well to remember that fans from countries who can’t vote aren’t going to make a difference to the result. Tiffany Pollard in the last Celebrity Big Brother is an example. She was always the sort of housemate that gets overhyped on the internet anyway, but her pre-existing US fans voting in online polls probably suggested she’d be more popular in the UK public phone vote than she turned out to be.

            There’s also the general problem with hardcore fans and online measures of popularity, whether it’s polls, social media, video likes/dislikes or whatever – those type of fans tend to find them like a plague of locusts.

          • eurovicious

            Spotify is Swedish and its penetration in Sweden is much higher than in other countries.

  • Montell

    I watched MF this night and I heard all songs for the first time. I can say it was a pretty weak MF comparing to last year. And so I heard Frans which I new was a hot favorite. Honestly, I was very disappointed. I expected something more spectacular in terms of a show or a song. Well, his favoritism may be justified in MF but how come he’s a favorite to win ESC, I don’t get it. Well, it’s a good thing because for me it means other countries are being underrated and I can find value. Anyway, back to Frans song. It’s a sincere song but for me it’s a kind of song you don’t start to like from the first listen and that’s bad for Eurovision. Plus I think it’s a kind of song only western countries could go for. I cannot se Balkans or ex-soviet countries rating this song high. Another drawback is that this song will be heard only in the final. As a first time listener I would not see this song as winner. I honestly think Frans won’t even reach Top 4 in May. To me this song is as good as “Kedvesem” and I think it will get a similar result, well, maybe a little better since it’s from Sweden. Sweden will drift!

  • I hate years like these. Even worse than 2010 and 2011 :-P.

    • eurovicious

      Yes, I totally agree with this – ESC 2010 and 2011 are musical anni horribilis for me, 2013 and 2014 not much better, and 2015 – despite the countless Warriors For Nothing – I thought was actually somewhat better, there were more songs I liked than in the above-mentioned years. This year we’re back to bottom of the barrel. It’s like a room of peeling beige wallpaper with a few Ferrero Rocher stuck to the wall: Latvia, Germany, Israel. Those are the only songs that truly transcend for me. Russia is, as many people are saying, schlager – I love it, but it’s not credible.

  • johnkef

    The golden rule of not watching national finals at its best! i have just seen-heard the song that everybody here is talking about and i’m struggling to see how this uninspiring boring song will make it to the Top5.

    It’s a tough year because we lack a favorite and everyone is looking for it so the market is really nervous, but Sweden is not the hot favourite. I wouldn’t backed it even if the odds were 20.00 and definitely not 2.50.

    It’s not about personal distaste for the song to be clear but i cannot see this one winning

    • eurovicious

      Juries aren’t gonna go for it, the vocals aren’t there. Should get a decent enough televote. But it’s hard to imagine this in the jury top 3, which precludes victory. We’re laughing at Serhat for shatnering his song, but Frans is basically sprechgesang too – he’s not a singer.

      • Chris Bellis

        If “speak singing” were an obstacle to success then The Streets would not be famous, Lily Allen would have done nothing, even Frank Sinatra would have failed. With the right staging and support it could do well, although not as well as Mans did last year.

    • Ande

      Yes, he might win but 3.5 is too short.

  • Ben Cook

    Azerbaijan are back in the game! Maybe a few years out of date now but it’s more hooky and memorable than some of the other pop girls this year.

    • PurpleKylie

      Considering the live videos of her singing you can find, this is gonna be an utter trainwreck live, maybe even more of a trainwreck than Switzerland.

      Also I thought that sampling wasn’t allowed, that beat sounds like it was ripped from every trap song in the last 12 months.

      • Ben Cook

        I agree it’s going to be interesting to see whether she can pull it off. But if they could make this woman an ESC winner, the Azerbaijanis can probably do anything.

        • eurovicious

          Different era – she wasn’t alone, and Azerbaijan was buying televotes and probably also bribing juries. They don’t do this anymore.

          It’s pretty competent but I find the chorus quite inaccessible. Start A Fire was better, with a much better singer, and look how badly that did. Dilara was the best singer in Boyuk Sehne right from the start, and Farid and Sabina Babayeva were also consistently strong in their Milli Secim Turu heats. By contrast, all of Samra’s Milli Secim Turu performances are dire.

          • Actually they almost certainly bribed Czech Republic last year, and perhaps one or two others. Will have to look it up but they wouldn’t have qualified last year without doing so.

          • Ben Cook

            My point was that they managed to polish a turd. I agree they probably aren’t as dodgy as they used to be, but like Tim says there’s still reason to be suspicious. Anyway, I think this song should be considered a contender on merit. It’s far more accessible than Start A Fire.

          • Ande

            Of course Azerbaijan is as dodgy as ever. If you benefited from bribing once why change a winning concept?

            Memorable song, strong hook, very dangerous if Samra is manages to sing it live.

          • “If you benefited from bribing once why change a winning concept?”

            Because the uproar when the 2013 voting scandal broke definitely seems to have scared them off. I really think the EBU were previously lenient towards them but scandal was the last straw for them and gave Azerbaijan a “clean up your act or you’re out” ultimatum. Considering the EBU are currently having massive image problems, they really wouldn’t tolerate another vote-buying scandal and really would go through with punishing Azerbaijan to save face.

            How else would you explain them going from consecutive top 5 results to suddenly barely scraping qualification?

          • Ande

            Bribes or no bribes they’d still need a decent entry for a good result. Both 2014 and 2015 was still wierd in that Azerbadjan recieved the highest marks from countries that arent any traditional voting allies. Votes highly concentrated to a few countries from the same semi were also red flags. Either way there’s greater incentives for bribes when you actually have a shot at the title as it could make the difference in a close race. IF they opt to resist temptation it has more to do with the likelihood of being punished rather than their officials suddenly acquiring a pure heart.

        • 2011 was helped by some very attractive staging and some very dodgy voting. The last two years they’ve done a terrible job in regards to the staging and judging by the super cheap music video I doubt that’s going to change this year, plus since the scandal in 2013 Azerbaijan have laid off their old “voting habits”, shall we say.

          Add to that their economy is going bust due to the oil price crash and them massively overspending on those European Games which were a complete flop.

          The only high points I can see in that semi are some dodgy scores from San Marino and Malta but that’s about it.

  • Hippo

    We have to remember that unlike other countries in this semi, Azerbaijan and Armenia are effectively competing for points from 16 countries rather than the rest going for 17 which will hurt their chances.
    If Azerbaijan so wish, there are a few small or disengaged countries here (Malta, San Marino, Cyprus, Montenegró, Czech Republic) to maybe take advantage off that would see them through. Otherwise it will be a close call either way with her.

  • Emre

    Russia will win this year fellas. All other songs are crap

  • Black n Blue

    Just a note on Italy. Although I love it, Nessun grado doesn’t sound anywhere near memorable enough for Eurovision.
    I can’t help feeling Italy missed their chance by not sending this.

    Could you imagine what a breath of fresh air it would have been to have a male-female duet performing a classy song in this year’s lineup? Come to think of it when was the last year we had no male-female duets at all?

    • KeyserSoze

      YES! I’ve been thinking the same for a while now. Could’ve been an easy win for Italy.If only they had come second at Sanremo…

  • Just heard Azerbaijan. Now that’s how you should do it. This goes to my no#1 spot instantly. Now leaving behind entries from Latvia, France, Australia and France. ‘Miracle’ is very much instant and contemporary 2016 pop music as well as a supermemorable melody with enough hooks, build-ups and modulations. This song could do it for a 2nd Azerbaijani victory.

    By the way, I’m surprised that especially last week the competition got way more interesting with real TOP 10 contenders.

  • Just dropping in to agree with what a lot of people have already said above. I don’t mind Frans’ song, but don’t love it either, and don’t really see anything about it that screams “this is the winner”.

    As an adjunct to Ben’s Everest Test, perhaps we should also introduce a Macedonia Test for countries like Sweden. As in, “If this song was the Macedonia entry, would people be saying it was going to win?” I think Frans would clearly fail the Macedonia Test.

    At this stage I think there’s no clear favourite, and any one of a half dozen or so countries might win this year. That’s probably a gambler’s nightmare, but from a TV-watcher perspective it’s great. It’s flippin’ boring going into a year when the winner is a foregone conclusion.

    • I like the Macedonia test. Would Mans have won if he wasn’t singing for Sweden. Would Electro Velvet have got a Top 5 finish if they had been singing for Sweden?

      Conversely, if Joe and Jake were singing for Sweden I think we’d have a foregone conclusion right now. It’s only the country lengthening their price.

    • I’m flattered Phil, but maybe San Marino is a better country to assign this test to since they seem to have become the “etc.” country, like the Independent Olympic Athletes team. It’s just really hard to imagine Macedonia entering anything remotely close to Frans. He’s just not their style.

      Having said that, if Frans was the Sanmarinese entry, I’d be saying certain qualifier, well done San Marino blah blah, and probably comparing it to Kedvesem still and estimating anything from 7th-16th place.

      In contrast, if Joe and Jake were singing for Sweden, I think people would be batshit mad to consider them winners. There is significant country bias in the Betfair Exchange, but it isn’t beyond writing off Sweden, although they certainly were reluctant to do so this year. Their price tailed off once we heard Youniverse (in full) and then everyone just sort of started rubbernecking towards Frans on their way out the door, a bit like going to a concert that turned out to be a bit crap but rather enjoying the busker across the street from the entrance.

      • Ande

        Well yes and no. Frans isn’t the favorite ‘because Sweden’, he’s the favorite because of who he had to beat to get to Eurovision.

        Suppose Joe & Jake handedly beat seven credible “Top 15 at ESC”-acts at their NF (David Lindgren, Ace Wilder, Molly, Wiktoria, Robin, Oscar, Lisa Ajax), some of them potential winner candidates. Then yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone called Joe & Jake favorites.

        If Frans on he other hand had been drafted in a middling BBC 4 selection with no public record of supposed voting dominance then he for sure wouldn’t be near the top of betting markets.

        Suggesting a ‘Macedonia test’ is the same as saying you can’t make sense of the data, you don’t get why his USP has such force.

        • eurovicious

          Everyone had shit songs in Melodifestivalen this year – it’s not exactly the pop olympics, it’s a small country’s bombastically overblown national final, where (since 2010) the size and blinginess of the production are used to compensate for the lack of decent songwriting and musical diversity. Lindgren finished last in the televote last time he was in the MF final too, as he’s too old, uncool and cheesy for the type of songs he performs, so Frans beating him – let alone Ace Wilder (can’t sing + crap song + 34-year-old woman trying to act “yoof”), Molly (great singer but crap song) and the rest of the boring also-rans with their overproduced, underwritten entries is unsurprising – when we watched SF4 2 weeks ago I said to Tim “this is going to win MF” while Frans was still performing. It’s a personality contest.

          Don’t get me wrong, Melodifestivalen 2009 and 2012 are great, and in the noughties it was a lot better and a different type of show to what it is now, but it’s been increasingly re-geared for children. The logical outcome of that is a child winning with a simple yet charming entry over various adults twice his age like Wilder and Lindgren trying to be down with the kids and act like they just left high school. MF isn’t alone in that – the whole contest and NF season seem to be younger-pitched than ever.

          • Ande

            Can’t we use credible acts that should do well with international juries as a benchmark?
            In my oppinion David Lindgren had a slighlty better package than his last try ‘Skyline’, at least was ranked higher in the spotify charts this year. He only managed 11 points compared to 57 in 2013. Lisa Ajax also delivered competetent package which only netted 23 points with the juries. Molly got 39 points compared to 55 points when she last entered.

        • Hippo

          The odds have nothing to do with who beat whom to get to Eurovision.

          By that logic, Michal Szpak should be odds on to win the whole thing after beating Margaret and Edyta convincingly.
          Sergey Lazarev, Nina Kraljic, Dami Im, Amir, Sanja Vukic, Minus One, Samra Rahimli and Iveta Mukuchyan beat no-one yet they’re all next in line in the odds

    • eurovicious

      I endorse the Macedonia test – it’s what I call the Moldovan semi test, in reference to Anna Book-gate rather than the Pasha’s pantaloons. ie. “Would anyone care if this was in the Moldovan auditions?”

  • New version of Israel is out, it now sounds like a Sam Smith dirge:

    • Uh oh oh…eurovicious isn’t going to be happy.

      • eurovicious

        The dull thud of my implosion, like a condom full of several pounds of raw beef hitting wet soil from 3 ft up, could be heard from Staffordshire, I’m told.

    • I prefer this version. Its more emotive melody draws more attention to the lyrics, and the drums providing a climax are refreshing instead of a flippin’ key change. The old version felt tacky, anonymous and Eurovisionny in a dreadfully boring way. I still think there’s a problem with his image not fitting the song, though.

  • In the latest installment of how NOT to do a revamp, I present to you Albania!

    • Henry VIII

      I prefer it to the original but I think I’m the only one. I notice it has more thumbs down than thumbs up, the first ESC song this year with such a ratio.

      • Sweden has as well in the video on the official Eurovision channel. A lot of it has to be because it’s the antithesis of what Sweden would normally send, rather than the song itself being poor.

      • Hippo

        Poor old Serhat has the worst ratio of likes to dislikes. 1:3.
        Ouch.

        • This has caused me to nose around and see who has the best ratio of likes to dislikes on YouTube – of the brief sample I’ve scanned, Cyprus and Croatia come out surprisingly well – markedly better than Iceland and Latvia, and way better than Russia.

          I’ve no idea how representative of anything that is, though.

          Poland also comes out surprisingly well on the YouTube like:dislike ratio. I guess that means the Change.org petition from the Margaret fanboys is going nowhere – but we knew that already.

          • Just to show my working, here’s some of the YouTube like:dislike ratios, which are approximated.

            Cyprus 12:1
            Bosnia Herzegovina 12:1
            Latvia 11:1
            Croatia 10:1
            Australia 8:1
            Hungary 7.5:1
            Sweden 6:1
            Russia 4.5:1
            Iceland 4:1
            Greece 5:3
            Austria 5:2
            Belgium 3:1
            Ukraine 2:1

            Looks like I got who was beating who slightly wrong in my earlier comment.

          • The more I look at those numbers, the more I suspect it isn’t meaningful data, unless we’re about to see a sudden storming of the top five by Bosnia Herzegovina, which strikes me as unlikely.

            One obvious criticism is that the like:dislike ratios may reflect the internal arguments of the hardcore fanbase rather than the wider audience. To give an example, Iceland has a comments thread full of people arguing over whether the song is or is not a copy of Loreen and Mans, and I wonder how much the average Saturday night viewer will care about that.

            On reflection I don’t think I’m going to read a great deal into the YouTube likes/dislikes. Too much possibility of it being just noise.

          • Yes it is just fans. Who else would go straight to a YT video of an ESC entrant as soon as it gets released? Also I think the hard core fans get to see them first, before the rest of fandom, who are themselves not representative. Because the Like/Dislike ratio is often lowest early on and then the Likes improve over time.

          • eurovicious

            Conchita had a ton of dislikes.

          • Looking at the Ukraine comments thread, I suspect the reason for their relatively high ratio of dislikes is due to Putinistas turning up to rant about “Nazi Ukrainians”.

            So, yep, I’m inclined to agree we can’t read anything from the YouTube likes/dislikes.

    • “So yeah let’s take a passionate orchestral rock ballad and turn it into a flat R&B song with insipid lyrics.” — “Great idea, Enver!”

      Not that Albania was going to win with the old version anyway, mind you.

      • So yeah let’s take a traditional boring ESC ballad in a language nobody understands that only fanboys like and give it a modern beat, make it more edgy and sing it in English to give it a fighting chance.

        • PurpleKylie

          Suus says hi.

          More like destroy any chances the song had by removing any power the song had and making it sound like a limp 90s album filler with clunky English lyrics.

          • Do you know what the lyrics were in Albanian? I’ll bet they were the same. You don’t find them “clunky” because you don’t even understand them. So that’s a worse situation.

            Fandom complained about the lyrics when Iceland changed their song to English. But I heard an Icelandic man say that they were the same lyrics. (They were originally English).

            Last year fandom erupted in horror when Bojana’s song changed to English and stopped commenting on the song almost entirely. But it went from a probable Semi NQ to a Final T10.

          • eurovicious

            The song wasn’t great anyway, but the arrangement and the language were some of the only power and identity it had… now that’s gone, it blends much more into the mass of generic female ballads than it formerly did. Aliona Moon shows how a mediocre foreign-language can still succeed. It’s not whether the content of the lyrics is the same that matters, it’s an identity question and totally depends on the entry – I love Ceo svet je moj but the switch to English served it well as it was a message song. But Suus or Kuula in English would have been a massive mistake.

            For the record, I think the underproduced chorus is a bigger problem in the new Albanian version than the language change.

          • I agree there is somethng to keeping it in the original language, particularly if the lyrics aren’t that amazing. Il Volo’s Grande Amore is probably a good example of that – never mind understanding the lyrics, just let yourself be carried away by the emotion of the vocals.

            Though, needless to say, Albania’s entry this year was no Grande Amore even in the original.

  • Montell

    9th in the running order. Now I’m sure Sweden is not winning this year.

    • Hippo

      Yeah, Sweden have gone now. The song is too low key and forgettable to overcome this and with the additional concerns I have over them, I felt that they needed at least 20th or later to stand a realistic chance.

    • I wouldn’t rule out Sweden completely, but the poor jury score from Melodifestivalen and now this draw aren’t encouraging. I think their odds will continue to drift out more once the OGAE clubs start voting, as I really can’t see them going for it.

    • Mr Wolf

      Reaction to Frans song hasn’t been very impressive and leaves many doubts about his winning ability (I haven’t been an advocate from beginning, although in a weak year like this one is, I think he is one of the favs to win the competition), but I don’t think 9th spot in running order in fact doesn’t justify his odds doubling.
      Running order has about 10-15% impact to televoting (it’s lot more complicated, I know) and a really strong and memorable act wins rather she’s in the first or second half.
      Loreen would have won from 9th position, Emmelie as well. Conchita and Mans won from first half.
      But the feedback has been a lot more mixed to Frans ofc and it’s still in question how culturally universal his song is. And what instructions are given to Jury in May.
      In a weak year with strong Balkan/Slavic presence Russia definately has good odds in their hands, although the ingenious and grandiose staging, which would be crucial, is already included to price. There’s a small risk that it really doesn’t work on stage as well as in official video (or works even better, considering how much Russia wants to win and how impressive is production team). Although even with superb staging it may be a bit cliche and overproduced. To make it work, they should come up with something original and fresh like Mans last year.

      We have many jury-friendly songs this year (France, Australia, Latvia etc) and rather weak favourites, so it’s definately gonna be an interesting year.

    • Boki

      In the light of freshly published MF semifinal vote percentages, what’s also not encouraging for Sweden’s backers is the fact that Frans didn’t dominate 4th heat the way that Mans did.

      • Ande

        Seems like Frans had better voting margins than Mans did last year.

        • Mr Wolf

          What do u mean by that?

        • Boki

          Exactly, what’s your point?
          The fact that he didn’t smash the semifinal (Molly was close 2nd) could indicate that the voters needed some time to realize his potential which is not good sign for esc since he will get to perform only in the final.

          • Ande

            The voting app was changed in 2016 so that it became easier to vote the maximum 5 times for multiple entires. In the semi finals there’s additional incentives to vote for multiple entries as a way to secure more favorites in the final. However, most people doing this uses up their appvotes in the first round of voting which means the second round of voting will have a higher share of phone votes and selective appvoters.

            The second voting round of therefore more similair to traditional phone voting (for one favourite only) and therefore more important to analyze.

            When having different voting systems between years you also cannot compare persentages straight up as the appvoting skews the data too much. Calculating the number of standard deviations away from the mean is then one way to make the numbers somewhat comparable. Try it and you will se that Frans is more standard deviations away from the mean than Loreens and Mans were. This applies to both the second round of semi voting as well as in the final.

            Frans’ numbers holds up well even using more refined ways to produce comparable data but I present this method as it is simple and easily reproduced.

          • Boki

            Very nice analysis but is based around your “second round of voting assumption”. Also, the app was present in the semifinal last year too and you could also vote 5 times during each performance. Maybe it was easier this year but certainly not impossible in 2015.

          • Mr Wolf

            That’s a good point, Ande.
            I noticed it earlier, but didn’t analyze it that thoroughly.

  • Montell

    I changed my opinion about Sweden 😀 After listening to all the shitty songs countries are sending this year I find Sweden’s song one of the best along with Australia’s. What a bad year indeed. However, I wouldn’t back Sweden at current price. I expect crazy odds movements during rehearsals because staging is what will decide who goes to the final and who wins the whole thing. By the way this year really lacks catchy upbeat songs which you could hum or dance to. All these ballads this year sound the same to me. Jesus! At this moment it seems that ESC 2016 is going to be a nightmare for viewers and a headache for bettors.

  • One has to agree that this is lovely live performance of ‘Slow Down’ :-). Mind you, this was recorded live in a radio studio. So not much focus on camera’s yet. But it’s lovely. Lovely :-):

  • Hippo

    Here we go again. Tweet from Eurovision :

    “Stand by for an exciting announcement tomorrow 10:00 CET”

    Any guesses? Hopefully it’s something trivial and won’t affect much.

  • I think people are underestimating the UK.

    • As a British person myself, I really don’t think we’re being underestimated. They’re decent singers but personally I think the song is badly written, and they don’t have much charisma either as a group or individually. They look like the kind of dumb pub louts who like “banter” and “cheeky Nandos”.

    • Hippo

      It’s pleasent enough but bland and forgettable. Last year’s act stood out for all the wrong reasons, this year’s doesn’t stand out at all. I really can’t see where the points are coming from. Malta, Australia and Ireland could give a few, maybe the odd point from a few western countries like Denmark, but I’d be surprised if it gets over 30 points combined. It also smacks me as a show opener if it draws first half which would really hurt it.

    • Ande

      I agree with previous punters. If staged properly the 7/1 for top 10 might’ve been tempting. But I’m leaning towards it being adequately priced considering the UKs history of faling to deliver proper staging, presentation and song revisions.

      Most likely they will throw together some kind of pretender band and make the guys just stand there and sing in front, that’s just not gonna cut it at Eurovision.

  • Try the Sweden test. If the song was representing Sweden, would it be getting more backing?

  • I think we’re getting a bit carried away with the inferred country bias here. XD

  • KeyserSoze

    Am I crazy for thinking Australia is closer to NQ right now?
    1. The song is shouty and repetitive and it ends abruptly. Not even the fans are going crazy about it and it’s very fan-friendly.
    2. No diaspora or block support
    3. The novelty of Australia in Eurovision is gone now, if it existed at all
    4. It’s in the same semi as Norway and Serbia, both block countries with plenty of friends here (and better songs imo)
    5. The first half of semi 2 is indeed a bloodbath, it’s hard to imagine seven qualifiers from the 1st half, someone has to be the weakest link here

    • I don’t think you’re crazy, personally I think punters are massively overrating it purely because it’s Australia, if it was Switzerland sending this song it would be ignored.

      And that first half really is a bloodbath, it scares me. The only 100% safe ones from that half are Latvia (semi winner) and Lithuania (tons of friends).

    • Hippo

      The song has enough quality and is contemporary enough to get a good jury score and will probably be staged in an arty way so I don’t think qualification is an issue. My guess is that svt will also be very friendly with the running order just to make sure.

      You are right however in that it is hugely overrated. Fourth favourite to win is having a laugh though, there’s nothing special at all about it, I can see it coming mid table around 11-15.

  • Ande

    Malta has chosen a new song called ‘Walk on water’ which is most likely a previous Melodifestivalen reject. What’s more encouraging is Malta using a panel of juries from 13 different countries to vote between 10 different songs, Chameleon included, before selecting the new entry. ‘Walk on water’ is said to have won with considerable margin.

    Thoughts?

    • What makes you think it’s a Melfest reject? Just because Molly Petersson Hammar is on the writing team? Ira co-wrote the lyrics.

      • Ande

        It’s also the same singer-songwriter team that was behind Mollys effort in 2015. Molly has never before written anything she hasn’t performed with herself.

      • Ande

        As it’s widely known that Mollys final entry was decided on rather late the timing also fits perfectly if Molly had tentative plans to sing this herself. Otherwise this would’ve probably been sent in within the original deadline to the Maltese selection.

    • eurovicious

      Can’t comment on Malta, but my understanding is that many of the Swedish-written songs that turn up in NFs from Vilnius to Valetta each year are ones that were submitted to MF but rejected. As they often turn out to be better than the ones in MF, this begs the question of what’s going on with MF’s quality control. Someone wrote about this recently in relation to Christer Björkman’s “schlager is dead” statement too, i.e. of course schlager is going to do badly in MF if you only select a couple of bad schlager songs and give them a bad running order slot.

      • Ande

        Sure, but it’s quite easy to loose track of a few golden eggs when you can only pick 14 out of 2 450 songs. In Mollys case SVT really wanted her in and she could probably choose heir own song, can’t blame the jury for that one.

        ‘Cool Me Down’ was written specifically for Margaret and the Polish selection.

  • Ben Cook

    Frans has entered the daily top 200 on Spotify UK – 23,063 streams yesterday
    http://kworb.net/itunes/s_suk.html

  • Something I’m not sure Sweden backers have quite realised yet is the true significance of its 9th position in the Grand Final running order. Ever since the producer-determined running order was introduced in 2013, all of the perceived contenders have been placed in 10th position and later. I’m defining a “contender” here as something which finished Top 3 in its semi final, or a bookies’ favourite from the Big 5-6.

    As a counter argument, you may argue that this isn’t strictly true because Estonia’s ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’ came 3rd in semi final 1, yet was ditched in 4th position. However this is because it was a distant third and so had zero chance of winning the final, plus the first half last year was also crammed with other perceived contenders; Sweden, Belgium and Australia.

    Ukraine’s ‘Tick Tock’ opened the Grand Final in 2014, despite being a bookies’ favourite, partially because it only finished in 5th in its semi final, and therefore wasn’t going to challenge Austria and The Netherlands.

    Anyway, the main point I’m getting at is that Sweden is extremely likely to be *the very first* outright contender to be performed in the Grand Final. So in order to win, it would have to somehow manage to beat several of its rivals which are all going to be on later. This is going to be a severe uphill struggle.

    Let’s say for argument’s sake that the outright favourites remain the same from now up until the start of Grand Final. Their positions in the running order could look something like this;

    9. Sweden
    10. Cyprus

    12. Croatia
    13. France

    17. Russia

    19. Malta

    21. Australia

    24. Latvia

    So it really could be very tough indeed for Sweden to challenge to win the televote, especially *when* the running order ends up looks something like the one above. Don’t forget that Mans Zelmerlow only managed a narrow televote third from 10th position, despite arguably being a much stronger overall package *and* one that had exposure in and momentum from winning a Eurovision semi final.

    …And the above isn’t even taking into account the fact that Sweden is likely to be snubbed this year in fan polls such as OGAE, and how it failed to win the Melodifestivalen jury vote with a somewhat unconvincing jury points total. I can’t see Sweden even winning the jury vote at Eurovision, let alone by a big enough margin in order to challenge outright. This is why I’m quite happy to have Sweden as a max red on Betfair for the time being, as it really should be drifting to double figures at some point over the next seven or eight weeks.

    • These are very good points.

    • Ande

      Especially as Sweden doesn’t have splendid jury appeal as I’d think the draw should be more important to televote friendly acts. It would’ve been less of an issue for Justs or Nina, yes?

      By the way, are there any significant differences between the 9th and 10th positions in the running order?

      Also, will adoption of the voting app help or damage Sweden?

      • Assuming that producers had access to the semi-final results, they knew it was ok to put Mans Zelmerlow in 10th last year because his semi-final stats were so strong that he was almost certainly going to win the contest. Same with Conchita Wurst in 11th. Being drawn in 9th place without the advantage of winning a semi-final is just not as promising on paper.

  • Ben Cook

    I agree Sweden will likely be the first of the contenders up, and that it’s not ideal, but I subscribe to the idea that the draw doesn’t affect the result more than 10-15%. For instance Heroes, switched round with Russia in the running order, it would have snuck ahead of them in televoting, but I think Italy would’ve still won the televote from 10th place anyway.

    So I believe that if Frans can win, then he probably still win from 9th, unless it’s very close at the top (which it hasn’t been for a long time, and even less likely to be under the new system). If he doesn’t win, it probably won’t be because of the draw.

    • I think a path to victory is possible for Sweden, but that it would likely be an exact mirror of their result from 2015 – smashing the televote Il Volo-style and being about 3rd or so with the juries. But it’s a longer shot than the market suggests imo.

    • Mr Wolf

      I actually believe after Melodifestivalen that Frans will score very well with juries.
      Frans reminds me a bit Il Volo as well, he has also strong opposition and some jury members would place him last in the field, so the new voting system fits better for Frans definately.
      As we know, Sweden is one of the leading music producing/writing nations and high percentage of Eurovision songs are written by Swedish. I think thanks for that, Sweden has always a small advantage with juries.
      They were 3rd with juries even in 2013, with rather weak (but contempory and current) act in a rather strong year, and they have been in Jury TOP3 since 2012 (1; 3; 2; 1 respectively).
      But yes, Frans has kind of act, which would fare better with late draw, but for reminder, Russia performed 6th in 2012.
      But still, for me, televoting performance is at this stage rather more concering than jury one (I see the televoting appeal high, but not as high as grannies or Il Volo had).

      I don’t think Frans is really THAT strong, but I can’t see really strong competitors neither.
      If Russia fails with staging and it looks like 2009, then their chances fall much shorter as well.
      From others..there are songs with potential, but I can’t see their potential as high as Conchita or Common Linnets.
      Only maybe Germany, but they should change literally everything about their performance. At this stage, they may even not have TOP10 material.
      Croatia, Ukraine, Australia, France..TOP3 potential, but do they really have so much space for improvement to score over 230 points (considering earlier voting system)..?

      Btw, what about the app voting system? Are there any hints that they may include app voting in May?

      • Ben Cook

        I think people are reading way too much in the Melfest results. He didn’t romp home on the jury vote but he still did well, only 1 point behind first. Even Euphoria only got 12 points from 16 of the juries.

        And as for the televote, it was the app that evened out the scores (because people were voting for all the songs they like throughout the show). And in any case, he was still 600,000 votes ahead of 2nd, and the gap between 1st and 2nd was bigger than the gap between 2nd and 12th, so it’s not like he just limped over the line. It was still a pretty convincing win. And if it wasn’t, it was due to do with the strength of the other songs in the contest. When almost the entire top 10 on Spotify is made up of Melfest songs, you can’t really expect one to obliterate the competition.

      • PurpleKylie

        I believe they’ve had app voting for a couple of years now, just one vote per song, not like in MF.

        It’s worth pointing out that in 2013, Robin won the jury vote with a good chunk of points, as the MF jury is supposed to be an indicator of how the ESC juries vote, his 3rd placing is no surprise. The fact that neither Belarus or Australia thought Frans was even the 6th best song in Sweden is not promising.

        After all in 2010 the int. juries didn’t like Anna very much, and it turned out to be the juries that kicked her out in the semi, despite being what many fans consider to be a weak year.

        Also considering that the juries really loved Aminata last year, there’s no reason not to suggest that maybe Justs can get a similar jury result with a much more accessible song.

        • Mr Wolf

          Although some people claim that this year’s Melfest was weak and there are as many opinions as there are people, I think we can face that objectively it was a hell of a strong year, if not the strongest of all, and Eurovision has a hell of a weak year, if not the weakest in 2010’s.
          So..if we take this and the fact that Frans has rather televoting friendly act (it’s not a piece of art, juries aren’t bound to fall on their knees with such act) into consideration, I think Frans had really impressive jury score.
          He received more points than other favourites Molly and Robin combined. And Oscar’s act was from art and critical point of view strong.

          About Latvia..it has good jury potential, but I think people are overestimating it’s televoting appeal.
          But I don’t mind you thinking otherwise. I would really appriciate if any of Latvia believers would buy my Latvia TOP10 lay from Betfair.
          Not that I’m thinking he’s gonna be out of TOP10, but I would prefer to take my profit now and have more cash for coming weeks to seek bets with more value lol.

          • Ben Cook

            Completely agree. Even if you don’t like the songs yourself, you have to concede that in terms of creating radio hits and songs that the Swedish public wanted to vote for, this year’s Melfest was a huge success. The song that came last in the televote still got over 700,000 votes!

          • eurovicious

            I’d describe this year’s MF as the weakest since I started following national finals in 2008. I’d class them as follows – Strong: 2009, 2012. Mediocre: 2008, 2011. Bad: 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016. 2010 is notoriously bad and a lot of people thought 2014 was really bad at the time, for me they’ve now both been beaten – 2016 is the worst of the bunch.

          • John G

            I agree with EV. Melfest this year was rather bland.

            What did you think of Melfest 2015 by the way? I thought it was the best for a while. About 5 or 6 really good songs, and diverse.

          • eurovicious

            Hey John 🙂 I think I missed 2015 out of the “mediocre” section… not as good as 2009/2012, but certainly better than most recent MFs and absolutely with more diversity, as you point out. There were 5 really good ones in it for me – Emelie Irewald, Midnight Boy, Nonetheless, Caroline Wennergren and Dinah Nah. Of course the only one of those to make it to the final was Dinah Nah who finished last. Emelie Irewald’s song was exquisite, but like similar entries by Anna Järvinen and Rikard Wolff in 2013 and 2014 respective, it was too adult, artistic and serious for the show’s audience.

          • John G

            Ah I see, I lack the enthusiasm for the semis, I just go by the final. I do remember Midnight Boy though (hard to forget, in some respects). Both he and Dinah Nah had cool songs.

            I liked Mariette but like Ukraine it’s not something the televote would know what to make of.

            2009 was a rollicker though. The results especially. Pity they botched Ernmans staging in the end.

            Hardly matters with MF, in the end the presumptive favourite tends to win (helped by a populist televote). It’s the other national finals that have surprises, as they have a smaller televote.

          • Ande

            Come finals the presumptive nominee tends to win, but that’s not the case with pre-contest favorites.

            2011 had three pre-contest favorites. Love Generation flopped while Danny and Saade did well. In 2012 Danny was the presumptive nominee and favored act (as well as Perelli to some extent). In 2013 it was Ulrik, Ewald and Janet Leon, all three disappointed. 2014 might come as a shock as Alvaro Estrella with ‘Bedroom’ was the universal favorite in internal SVT polling, of course Ewald and Paparizou were also favored. In 2015 Mans had it all sewn up from the start. This year, 2016, were Molly’s or Ace’s to lose.

            Maybe it’s time to start watching the semis?

      • Hippo

        I don’t see how Frans can get top five with the juries. In comparison to previous years Melodifestivalen jury scores, Frans is the least convincing since popular.
        88 points is the lowest since 2011 and more worryingly, like Kylie says above, the first time with the current format that the winning song was snubbed by two juries. Any juror who views vocals as the most important is going to have this in their bottom five or ten, dragging it down and as a composition it’s surely far too simple. It’s a reverse Ukraine in my book. Frans will get his love from Scandinavia and the West but very little in the East. It ticks some boxes very well – but others not at all- which won’t be enough.

        I don’t think this year is too weak now and is definitely stronger than 2010 and 2011. Also, The chance of Latvia not getting top 10 is zero .

        • Mr Wolf

          There are definately gonna be juries who reject Frans like they did with Il Volo last year.
          I’m concerned about East as well, but if we look Melfest jury scores, then Frans received 12 points from Bosnia, France, Estonia and Cyprus..so from jury point of view the appeal seems pretty universal.
          And I think Ukraine is gonna receive points from West as well.

          • I think people are massively overrating the potential appeal of Ukraine this year. First of all I get the impression that people are banking on a potential “sympathy vote”, which I think is a complete myth in Eurovision World. It’ll get high points from those in the East who are not allied with Russia, but the West will totally ignore it. It’s not a powerhouse ballad like Suus and those wanting silly camp fun will think of 1944 as warbling depressing rubbish.

          • It won’t win or anything, but in order to get Top 10 it won’t really need to score outside of its allies and diaspora nations. And of course it should do very well with the juries.

        • Ben Cook

          How do you know that the other recent Melfest winners also wouldn’t have had a less impressive jury total against stronger competition?

          • Hippo

            Stronger competition is subjective and the statistics for Spotify and so on do not necessarily mean the songs are better. MF is bigger than ever and exposure is very high. Trying to look at the songs from a juror’s point of view, I see only ‘Human’ and ‘Save Me’ that were really serious. Youniverse was well sung but a mess, Constellation Prize had a terrible gimmick and did not flow whilst Panetoz, David Lindgren, Saraha and Samir and Viktor had next to no jury appeal. Which song this year would have stopped Heroes getting 12 points from 9 juries or stopped Loreen from getting over the hundred point mark? That is the standard Sweden need to be at under these new rules, as hosts and from an early draw to have a chance.

          • Ande

            Spotify and iTunes have been strong predictors in the past and this years Melodifestivalen actually had slightly weak viewer ratings.

      • Mr Wolf

        About the earlier discussion how Swedish songs have performed impressively well with juries (TOP3 since 2012)..
        Robin received in 2013 almost the same amount of points from int juries as Frans did this year and beat Anouk, Margaret, Marco, Gianluca, … in May which were all quality acts for juries as Amir, Dami, Justs, … this year.
        About 2011..I think “Popular” was really cheap and cliche act and not comparable with any later one or Frans.
        Frans has current and trendy song, which juries should like, considering previous years.

    • Mr Wolf

      The running order may have more impact in some cases, but overall it’s one of those fallacies people have.
      I’m professionaly concert promoter and I have observed almost last ten years my ticket sales screens live (it’s the third window besides Facebook and Gmail that I holding almost always open) to get better perception about people’s behaviours and reactions.
      As we have fallacy in Eurovision about huge impact of the running order, in concert business, there are fallacies about the importance of the weather and weekday. People (musicians, audience, whoever) always try to find excuses from rather dissapointing attendance from those two factors.
      If the attaendance is low, it’s always allegedly because of the bad weather or the workday.
      The truth is that, like with running order in Eurovision, the real impact of those two is about 10-15% (there are different situations and contexts, in some cases it can vary more) and what really counts is the product and the buzz around that.
      If the product makes enough sensation to people, then people are gonna vote for it / buy it, whatever. It’s really that easy.

      I totally agree with the opinion that Il Volo would have won televoting from first half as well and Sweden would have probably outperformed Russia in televoting if their draw would have been switched.

      • Mr Wolf

        It should be examined more closely, but running order importance is probably decreasing because of the social media year-by-year.
        Pimp slots have payed off more in semi-finals (and more than 15%). It’s probably because the real buzz around Eurovision songs, directed to regular people, starts from semi-finals.
        Increasing importance of social media is changing people’s habits and now people are much more aware of the songs and their friends/family/relatives opinions/reviews about the songs.
        More people have found their favourite already before the final show (if BIG5 or organizing country has a good song, the word would also spread and people are listening it from Youtube).
        It all just reflects overall changes in society and people’s cultural behaviour.

  • Ben Cook

    Why is your personal opinion on the songs a better indicator of the standard of this year’s Melfest versus hundreds of thousands of Spotify plays and televotes?

    • Hippo

      The growth in the popularity of MF and the increasing overall usage of Spotify make it hard to make a direct comparison to previous years and what is popular with the Swedish public is not necessarily popular with juries and from anyone’s view- this year lacked an entry that was dominant on both fronts.
      The increased televotes tell us nothing due to this being the first proper year of the app system. Only in the next few years will we be able to say either way whether or not this was a strong MF.
      And strong in what sense?
      Just because a year provides a lot of hits, votes and viewing figures in Sweden doesn’t mean it is a strong year in terms of providing a serious Eurovision challenger. The Swedish public is not always an accurate reflection of the rest of Europe or the juries.

      It’s also not my personal opinion of the songs (I loved Panetoz ), I’m trying to weigh up each entry as a juror would and with that in mind I can’t see much of great merit and I’d have thrown Frans a six or so myself.

      • Ben Cook

        It doesn’t matter whether it’s streams or downloads or airplay – the fact is this year’s MF has created more chart hits than it has done for years, and as the song that came in last still got 700,000 votes, it suggests that this year’s MF final was more competitive than usual, so expecting him to have had a landslide victory is unreasonable.

  • Mr Wolf

    “Heroes” was much stronger package than Frans, but lets face it. Melfest 2015 was very weak and Mans didn’t have any serious competitors.
    “Jag är fri” worked in Swedish local scene and cultural context, but it would had zero chance in May and it would even had big question mark for qualifing (Iceland 2013 didn’t work very well)
    This year there were 5-6 songs with TOP10 potential.
    Sweden 2010 was awful and Anna not qualifyng wasn’t surprise.

    About Ukraine..
    As I was more concerned about Il Volo’s jury appeal vs televoting appeal last year, I would be more concerned about Jamala’s jury appeal than televoting.
    I think she has hugh televoting appeal and it’s hard to see her outside televoting TOP5. I wouldn’t be that sure about juries, but I think it would do rather well in juries as well.
    It’s not only about message (I agree, that the “symphaty factor” is mostly myth), it also has pretty catchy verses and artsy chorus and the overall impact is pretty impressive imo.
    Yes, it’s not as straightforward piece of art as “Suus” was and leaves some doubts, but the initial reaction from public is good.
    It does well in polls, it has done well in my own surveys with regular people, I have read positive comments in Estonian news sites.
    There are certainly some West countries who are gonna give her 0 points, but it’s not gonna be overall West boycott for her.

    Btw, three main radio stations in Estonia are already playing Frans.

    • Ben Cook

      I’m not sure the message is going to come across very well, with the chorus being in Crimean, and even if the commentators explain what the song is about, a lot of people aren’t going to get it. I reckon probable top 10 but it’s not accessible enough to challenge.

      • Mr Wolf

        We’ll see.
        For me, “1944” falls into the category where foreign lyrics aren’t disturbing and it sounds authentic and emotionally catching.
        Overall emotional impact is most crucial and I think Jamala has it.
        There weren’t many people who understood “Molitva” Serbian lyrics, were there?
        “1944” is a bit mess, but didn’t “Gravity” also fall into the “mess category”? They’re different, but both have emotional impact which counts the most.

        • PurpleKylie

          Gravity at least sounded euphoric and enchanting, 1944 is, quite literally, a funeral dirge

          • Mr Wolf

            So was “Suus”.
            (the ones who don’t believe Ukraine’s chances, I recommend laying TOP5 market, I will be ready to buy)

        • Ben Cook

          I think juries will like it, and it has a shot of top 5, but the song isn’t anywhere near as good as Molitva.

          • Mr Wolf

            Not as good as Molitva definately.
            It was just a remark that understandable lyrics aren’t always crucial for emotional impact and success.

  • Malta’s new song is finally out, I smell a fanwank:

    • Hippo

      Fanwank with a capital F for this one. The way some sites were bigging it up was always going to dissapoint. Better than Chameleon but no winner or top five here.

    • Ben Cook

      The fans don’t even seem to like it. I like the sound of it, but there’s no song here. Style over substance, again.

    • Yes the expectations were too high. This isn’t quite what I expected it to be, and it sounds better because it’s coming from Malta and not from Melodifestivalen. The chorus sounds a lot like Molly Petersson Hammar with the backing vocals literally drowning Ira out, (typical Sweden.) I haven’t completely made my mind up on this yet because it doesn’t bash you over the head as a clear Eurovision winner because it’s so chart-geared. It doesn’t feel like a Eurovision song at all.

      I think the lofty expectations not being met is the reason the odds have gone back out to low 30’s and a lot of people here are saying it’s not a winner. In terms of a song with continent-wide hit potential and an exciting uplift, this is making a more convincing case than Russia, Croatia, Sweden, Australia and Latvia for me. It’s just figuring out whether this can actually win or whether it’s just a good MPH song. I think it’s price SHOULD be around 8-10.

      I will just add this – when I can’t find a convincing contender that passes my ‘Everest Test’, I fall back onto the most commercial offering. Not only is that what applied in 2010 for the winner, but it’s what most runners up represent in most other recent years too. Walk on Water is definitely uplifting and thoroughly current, so it is firmly in the mix for me. I don’t think it’s a fanwank. It’s too relevant. My Mum thinks it could win, she said it’s “something a bit different” to what she calls the typical boring Eurovision stuff, a label she slapped on Russia’s entry.

      • Chewy Wesker

        I think “Walk On Water” is very different from all the other entries this year, the drum n bass kicking in, kinda separates Ira’s song from everything we heard so far. In many ways it’s similar to Andras Kally Saunders song “running” packs a punch and has a great lift to it, and Ira Losco does have a winner look about her, Lorren sprang to mind when I first saw her. So add in some fantastic staging and a nice plum draw who knows where she’ll end up on night, but my reckoning she be on the left hand side.

        • Chewy Wesker

          “Everest Test” what is this please?

          • In short, you should picture a cinematic scene of someone climbing the final few hundred metres of Mt. Everest, then when they reach the peak, they throw up their arms and yell in triumph as the sun rises. Now see if the song fits with that image. It’s my way of describing the seemingly intangible mood that a song needs to scream “I am the winner!”

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            The other “Everest Test” involves imagining a climber forcing every sinew of muscle and lung, up through high-altitude Hell to reach the peak of an epic beast of a jagged mountain, only to find someone else has just beaten them there, who’d scaled the opposite side.

            In a foggy, freezing despairing scene, the beaten climber lets himself fall to his death.

            This alternative Everest Test is also known as the “Ted Moult” test.

            I’m re-listening to Semi 1, so for me I’m falling to my death with Estonia’s song labouring through my mind while my brain transports me to an unhappy place where I awake to find I’m in bed with the male singers from Bosnia Herzegovina and San Marino.

          • Chewy Wesker

            Ok so nothing to do with double glazing then…!

          • Ande

            Does 1944 pass the “Ted Moult” test?

          • eurovicious

            Ljubav nije!!! No-one needs to hear about your Deen-Serhat dreams Guildo…

    • eurovicious

      Malta’s pretty good. It seems to take significant inspiration from Emeli Sande’s Heaven. I see that it’s 5th-favourite now, which seems about right. Things against it: the chorus could be a little stronger, Malta’s recent record (and staging record) are poor, and the singer’s relative age (34). But I think it’s strong, memorable and the song works as a whole.

  • Malta Contender? I think Wiwibloggs single-handedly influenced the betting odds with their over-enthusiastic subjective ‘attitude’.

    Yes, it’s one of the more modern entries in this year’s contest. Unique perhaps too. But I can’t hum it….or recall it after first listen. The melody has enough variations, but all within a rather monotonic base melody. Competently produced (in Swedish studio’s?). But memorable it is not. Are there actually people.

    On Oddschecker Malta is already drifting heavily.

  • Jim

    I agree completely to Songfestivalwerk. This song is bland, soulless and overproduced. And i highly doubt she can pull it off live. I can’t even recall her song after listening. for me a def. non-qualifier at this moment

  • Ande

    Let’s talk target prices and dark horse predictions.
    Here’s mine…

    7/1 Russia – I honestly cannot judge this package properly before rehearsals. It feels very old fashioned and I struggle to see a voting base outside Russian speakers and ESC fans unless the staging is as good as ‘Heroes’.

    6/1 Sweden – It has obvious USP but is all but certain to get a few zeroes here and there. Should get many 12s in the televoting and some from the juries. Will win if the competition is weak and divided.

    10/1 Australia an interesting one. It has big staging potential and a good singer. In fact, ‘Sound of Silence’ with ‘Heroes’-levels of staging this would probably round up the juries and win easily. The average scenario is more likely to be out of the top 5 though as this will lack a USP if they fail to connect the hook to a visual stimuli.

    8/1 Croatia i feel is in a similair similar vein to Australia but with a slightly better song and performer. ‘Lighthouse’ is weak in the final third as it just plods along without anything really happening.

    6/1 Latvia just needs a coherent strategy for presentation. Justs lacks both charisma an direction, something Aminata already had in her NF. But the song is accessible enough and I believe this packaging to already be top 3 with juries. As such it demands only small improvements to make a serious contender.

    1/10 Ukraine – Should be strong with juries but at first glance it’s difficult to see were the televote would come from. However, Jamalas televote in the national selection is nothing to be scoffed at. If pressed I’d think ‘1944’ will have USP with the Turkish diaspora, pacifism lovers and the musically gifted.

    Other than Ukraine the only dark horses that stands out for me is Spain and Germany, but their weaknesses in song structure and staging will likely not be fixed. Norway, Lithuania and Iceland might constitute value at these long odds but shouldn’t have any realistic chances of winning.

    Now I wonder, who are your dark horse?

    • KeyserSoze

      The Netherlands. An excellent performer with an accessible radio-friendly song and likely interesting visuals by the Pancake man.

      The western juries will bury Russia’s chances, the eastern ones will bury Sweden’s. Croatia’s Nina Kraljić is a brilliant vocalist, but has no stage presence. Norway and Lithuania (and perhaps Estonia) have the same problems: huge difference between the verses and the chorus and an overconfident singer. Germany is actually good, but there’s no way a song like this will stand out in a field of 26. Greta Salome only came 3rd with the juries in Iceland, which is a good indicator of how the international juries will rate her (remember Il Volo). Spain is just awful imo.

      Latvia, the Netherlands, the Ukraine, France and, yes, Malta (in that exact order) are the only ones I can see winning at this point.

      Then again, I backed Finland top 5 and Iceland to win last year, so what do I know, right?

      • Ande

        Interesting thoughts! I like Netherlands but discounted it for being too low key to get attention, kind of like your reasoning for Germany.

      • PurpleKylie

        If we’re going to get a “dark horse low key song” scoring top 5, I’d sooner put my money on The Netherlands than Sweden to be brutally honest.

        If Mr Pancake does wonders with this, it could eat up a lot of jury points for authenticity.

    • Mr Wolf

      Notion about the “Ukraine good with juries, bad in televoting” fallacy.
      I remind you guys that like it was the case with Il Volo last year, Jamala won National Final thanks to televoters. Jury didn’t place her first.

      • KeyserSoze

        True, but that jury was heavily biased.

        • PurpleKylie

          That jury was an unholy mess. They only had The Hardkiss as their third favourite in the semi final, then suddenly had them as their top favourite in the final, they spent a good 30 mins berating that SunSay guy for a) breaking the Sep 1 rules, and b) having Russian members in his band, and wasted so much screen time rambling and bickering with each other.

      • Henry VIII

        Maybe 1944 only did so well in the televote because it was anti Russian. The rest of Europe will judge it differently, ie just as a song.

        • PurpleKylie

          Well I think most of the juries will consider it “just a song”, except for Russia’s jury who will give it 0 judging by their reaction when she won the NF, and there’s also a risk that pro-Russian countries like Belarus and Azerbaijan will have their juries give it 0 to appease Mother Russia.

          • Keyser Soze

            Was there really a negative reaction in Russia? Or was it just because people expected a negative reaction from Russia?
            And the song itself isn’t that much anti-Russian as much as it’s anti-Soviet. And even the Putin regime is anti-Soviet.
            Therefore, I actually do expect a point or two from the Russian jury and definitely a few from the televote.

          • PurpleKylie

            A friend of mine told me that a few Russian politicians spoke out against the song shortly after it was picked, and was worried that they might pressure the EBU to get the song disqualified (which it seems hasn’t happened)

        • Mr Wolf

          Partly “yes” to both.
          But it is one of the catchiest songs with one the biggest emotional impact this year with a great performance.
          It has good pop elements + artsy overlay.
          The message only gives bonus and more character/identity to this song.

          It’s doing good in polls, regular people like it.

          Top 3/4/5 lay guys, help me out, I really need some action.

    • If we’re talking dark horse entries, my eye is actually on Georgia. It’ll appeal to people who like e.g. the Arctic Monkeys or Hot Chip, but those tend not to be the music tastes of the hardcore fanbase, which is quite possibly why it’s slipped under the radar.

      I’m not saying it’ll win, but it may well do better than expected.

  • Am I only one who thinks The Netherlands is rubbish? Give me Estonia any day…

    • eurovicious

      Most people’s reaction (including mine) seems to be that it’s fine for the first minute then goes nowhere. But I don’t think most people responded that positively to Estonia either.

    • Keyser Soze

      I prefer Estonia to Netherlands. I actually like all of the songs in Eesti Laul final this year.
      The problem is Juri Poostman has a strange kind of charisma that I don’t think will sit well with the voters. The staging will also probably be too dark.

  • Hippo

    I think the Netherlands and Estonia will struggle to qualify. Pre- rehearsals and running order, my qualifiers from semi 1 in decreasing order of certainty are:
    Russia
    Croatia
    Armenia
    Malta
    Iceland
    Hungary
    Cyprus
    Czech Republic
    Azerbaijan
    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    A side note on Malta. I listened to it about five times yesterday trying to understand why some were tipping this and can honestly not remember the chorus at all, I can’t hum the tune, I don’t know the lyrics. I think that is the only song in the competition this year that I remember nothing about, it is good while you’re listening but completely forgettable.

    Unless Bulgaria blow the competition out of the water, the winner I feel will be Russia, Latvia and to a lesser extent, Croatia.

    Russia – A good overall package that deserves to be the market leader, though is too short to consider backing any further for me (I’ll make sure that it doesn’t go red though). Of course the diaspora and bloc votes available are second to none and the new points system will prevent juries from killing it too much. The problem I have is when I ask myself some questions. Can it win the televote in the West? Probably not. Will it win the jury vote in the West? No. Will it win the jury vote in the East? Not guaranteed by any means. It’s a good song but the whole thing may be a little too clichéd, dated and a little desperate.

    Croatia – A strong entry, with a good singer from a large bloc with no other challenger. A few issues though. There is again no really strong hook, there are a few different parts to remember – maybe too many.Like Malta, there’s no key moment or line to remember it by. Maybe it should have more closely followed a more typical verse- chorus – verse- chorus – bridge – chorus structure and the key change feels more even more forced than Russia’s. The Balkans aren’t the most tactical bloc either. Rather than rallying around one strong entry the distribution of their points among themselves is more even but even then Kalliopi seems stronger positioned to take the 12’s. If Bosnia, FYRoM and Serbia make the final Croatia are out of the running.

    Latvia – Where are the bulk of Western votes going? Not to Scandinavia this time or to central Europe. Latvia is in the best position to take the West- Juries and televoters- and do respectably in the Balkans and Former Soviet states. The song is modern, radio friendly, has a strong hook and stands out. For the western vote, Justs comes across much less cheesy than Sergey Lazarev much like Alexander Rybak compared to Sakis Rouvas. Latvia should be able to score very high in the West and strong enough in the Balkans and East to challenge and is still great value in the outrights.

    In terms of Dark Horses, like every year, there will be one – maybe two that are completely transformed live with staging. I think that country will be Armenia.

    Going against this is how blatantly leftfield and weird Lovewave is. The lesson from the last two years for me however has been that ‘leftfield’ or devisive can do very well. A bearded Austrian drag act, a Dutch Country and Western duo, a piano/dubstep Armenian number in 2014 alone. Last year’s Love Injected and Rythm Inside are further entries that did well but weren’t typical or conventional. If Iveta can get the vocals right and the staging comes together perfectly and this entry has the highest staging potential, I wouldn’t put anything beyond them. Under those circumstances, there is clear jury appeal- in both the West and the East-, a large and spread diaspora, a strong (though this year competitive bloc) and a telegenic performer. It is a devisive song but under the right circumstances, it’s the type of song that will motivate viewers to vote for it.

    Just to clarify my comment that Western votes won’t go to Scandinavia:

    Sweden can win in one circumstance only- if the song becomes a huge hit *all over* Europe (drifting in and out of a viral 50 doesn’t count) pre contest and juries are scared to override the televote again. Otherwise they’re out of it, it’s not instant enough or memorable from 9th in a field of 26.

    • PurpleKylie

      I understand people’s fears regarding The Netherlands’ chances, and personally I think this is a song that can either do VERY well or completely bomb. But I’m more leaning on the “do very well side” because I think in a year where almost everyone is doing very flashy or elaborate stage performances, NL could be a breath of fresh air and juries would lap up its authenticity if Mr Pancake does a good job with this.

      Everything else other than Armenia I agree with.

    • Keyser Soze

      Unless Greta completely changes the staging concept, Iceland is gone. Literally every person to whom I’ve shown the performance, dismissed it as being an act designed to copy Mans and Loreen without even listening to the song.

      B&H are also in trouble. A song like this would have worked well a few years ago, but not anymore. It’s like they’ve ignored the fact that Eurovision has changed during their absence.

      • Hippo

        Iceland will crash in the final, I think and Greta will get a similar result to last time around 19th. I agree Bosnia are real borderliners but being in the second half and having a few friends in Austria, Croatia and Montenegró as well as being a lot better than the other Ethno-Rap entry from Greece may just see them through.

  • When I heard ‘Slow Down’ for the first time I was equally disappointed. Netherlands 2014 wasn’t middle-of-the-road to begin with. It had an affectionate, unique, catchy and simple melody. It’s simplicity was it’s strength.

    ‘Slow Down’ doesn’t ‘grab me by the ball’s. It’s slightly more mid-tempo and not as low-key as ‘CATS’. Add to that a very crowded first half of the 1st semi final, and you understand why countries like Austria and Cyprus failed to impress in last year’s first half of the final.

    Now Netherlands has to compete with Russia, Armenia, Croatia, Hungary and Estonia. That’s a bit too much. On top of that I think ‘CATS’ needs to be compared with Sweden this year, and not with ‘Slow Down. Both have very low-key melodies yes, but they still are very addictive and earcatching. You can hum both ‘CATS’ and ‘IIWS’ easily.

    Iffff a low-key Netherlands 2014-esque victory has to be sought, then it is Sweden. Without a doubt.

    By the way, ‘Slow Down’ is not rubbish. Rubbish is too harsh. But it’s simply not instant enough. And regarding Hans Pannecoucke……..he can create a good stage act, but applying circular one shots again for Netherlands doesn’t do the song favors. It needs to be way more dynamic.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Last night, listened to all the songs so far and I agree with many, if not all, of the feelings, comments and reactions here on sofabet.

    To specify…

    In Semi 1 , 3 songs interested me.

    Armenia’s.
    I was reminded (just a bit) of Nina Sublatti from last year. Song, singer and video. A grower. Potential for feeling and looking epic.

    Croatia’s
    Delicate, fey, beautiful and mystical. Also watched a video of one of the artist’s other songs. She’s fairly (not overly) attractive and a bit dull? A pixie, but not manic and not quite a dream girl?

    The Netherlands’s
    Could be a Take That song, with Mark Owen as lead singer.
    Very catchy. Is the singer cross eyed? Is he fully awake?! I lean towards PurpleKylie’s sentiments.

    Then again, I loved Firelight’s Coming Home from a couple of years ago!

    In Semi 2, 3 songs intrigued me.

    Australia’s
    Singer is kooky looking, neither v beautiful nor relatable. Exciting song. I liked it. I feel the song is being underrated in much the same way I and others on this site did so Sanna’s a couple of years ago. But, it’s not as good an entry as last year’s Australian package, and there’s diminishing return novelty vote factor running against it, too. And Jesus – plenty short enough in the betting as well!

    Belgium’s
    I love this! What a gloriously funky, dippy, joyous, danceable song. How come no-one’s mentioning it? Is it because it’s so dated?! The singer appears a bit too young to carry off the cool leader of the team look?

    Latvia
    I was a massive, early fan of all things Love Injected last year. It’s up there with Quédate Conmigo as one of my all time Eurovision faves…

    …so I was a bit resistant to the singer and song combo this time round. Was thinking the song structure and stylings were a wee bit reminiscent of last year’s epic – initially.

    I like the vibe of the singer, though. He needs serious work on his tuning, mind. On second thoughts, I’m thinking the all round (unintentional) vulnerabilities might help it. And that it sounds as though it might come from the same album as Love Injected, but is not too similar. In fact, there’s an 80’s vibe that takes over this song in the latters.

    Also, I do love it that he is referred to as “Justs”!

    Seriously, is that alone worth a few points?

    Lithuania’s
    It’s Donny, isn’t it?! Still looking good, too! Generic tosh and song lyrics…but it’s uplifting and I rolled with it. Just has enough about it. I imagine this will prove v popular with the girls?

    From the Big 5 & defending champions, 2 songs interested me.

    France’s
    I can’t remember the last French entry I liked…but my God I love this! Cracking tune, melody and super-duper likeable lead singer. Gorgeous, warm, warm vibe all round. I could have this on repeat play for hours! Joie de vivre!

    Germany’s
    Promises so much but doesn’t quite deliver. At certain parts the tune drifts into a melody v similar to the theme tune to “The Bridge” (which I love). The singer promises to be Cyndi Lauper kooky loveable, but instead is a bit emo self-obsessed. I think this would work better as a duet. The whole package doesn’t hang together. More right than wrong…just.

    I may have missed out one or two songs here – not a comprehensive list.

    • And heartfelt comments like yours are perhaps the better indicators for success in here ;-). Really sweet.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Thank you :-D.

        I’m actually a cold hearted bitch of a person…and am surprised how upbeat and heartfelt I was there!

        I really like your ‘whistle Test’ idea. That’s sounds an excellent filter.

        http://sofabet.com/2016/03/11/eurovision-2016-melodifestivalen/#comment-70681

        I’ve had another listen to Estonia, as you seem to be a fan, and I don’t like to miss out!

        Honestly, I don’t get it.

        All of the other dramatic, dark lit songs you mentioned I liked (my fave album is still OK Computer – so I get “moody-pessimistic”), but I just don’t buy the performance here, his talking-singing or the song. The first two minutes remind me of someone covering an obscure Divine Comedy song!

        Also the message of the lyrics seems to be similar to what the French singer is trying to convey – but the French singer really “gives” it to you, makes you feel it, imo.

        Certainly, Estonia must, must do something with the staging and could do with fixing the lighting.

        I wish the Estonian song was 3 minute’s worth of material based on it’s last 30 seconds. It seems to come alive there.

        It has a disjointedness that’s also (much more apparent) in Norway’s Icebreaker. But Icebreaker is of course a series of rip offs. The beat starts a la Euphoria, the trapped person dancer-writher immediately reminded me of Azer’s Hold Me and the lead singer is obviously styled (with similar camera techniques used to emphasise) after Margaret Berger’s epic presence in the electrifying I Feed You My Love. And the chorus seems to come in as if by parachute from another dimension, or certainly from an entirely different song! WTF! A pity, as the singer looks dynamite in bed. A beautiful super shag of a woman.

        On the subject of dark songs, what do you make of Ukraine?

        I thought it was fabulous, rubbish, moving and laughable, all in one. Like a drum and bass funeral march.

        Towards the end, I loved the Gladiator wailing and falsetto pitching – one of the few performances which which can move me and make me giggle at the same time!

        But if anything reminds me of Albania 2012, then it’s this one.

  • Regarding Estonia. I don’t get the criticism. Why was ‘skyfall’ (and it’s insanely dark and disturbing videoclip / James Bond main titles) such a hit? Because people love Adele’s darker, dramatically, yet soulful songs. This is 2016, not 2006. People swallow dramatic, dark-lit entries with slightly pessimistic messages perfectly. Albania 2012, Netherlands 2013, Norway 2014, Latvia 2015 and Estonia 2015 are some very good examples of entries that were eventually loved by Europeans. Despite the criticism these entries received, especially in here.

    A song, a package needs to appeal to real, pure emotions. And it doesn’t matter what kind of emotion. On top of that, I always do the ‘whistle Test’. Always. So if Malta wins its really the first winning entry in my lifetime that I can’t whistle.

    The best ‘hummable’ songs for me this year -that are unique too- are Sweden, Russia, Azerbaijan, Austria, France, Germany and Australia. One of these will be the eventual winner. They have instant melodies, that are easy to whistle.

    What

  • Revamp of Iceland is now out, it sounds bigger and more dramatic, love it!

    • Ande

      Wow! Easily be top ten, carbon copy or not =D

    • Yeah that’s pretty good for Iceland, but it’s failed the Mum Test in these quarters unfortunately. It’s strong, good bit of “Iceland” in the sound of it, and the performance is great, but obviously there’s something she’s not getting right. Whether it’s bias against staging copycats or maybe the song isn’t accessible enough I don’t know. I would normally consider this a potential winner as it does tick a lot of boxes, but for some reason it’s not quite hitting the mark.

    • Ben Cook

      I think this is the most underrated entry this year. It’s got good melodic, lyrical and instrumental hook, and impressive and memorable staging. Why wouldn’t it do well?

      • I agree with everything you said, but to directly answer “why wouldn’t it do well?” – My own initial doubts which still linger is that it’s just a bit pretentious and trying to be too clever. It feels a bit too high-brow and/or not mainstream enough.

    • Ehhh, perhaps I am deaf. But it’s just a slightly sleeker, richer production now. To say “this is a huge improvement” is a bit overrated. Still the same song.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    A darker version of Only Teardrops?

    • eurovicious

      New version seems more of a fanwank, they popped up the music and made it more sprightly and EDM and a bit less Of Monsters And Men, but the performance doesn’t convince. This isn’t good enough to win musically or visually, and I’ll be very surprised if it even reaches the top 5.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Or an Only Teardrops remix with a Hannibal style imagery backdrop version of Mans’s Heroes?

    Whichever, it is v powerful, memorable and whip-crack-away pacey.

    • I think there are tweaks that need doing to the visual staging. Greta wasn’t quite right on her stage moves at Songvakeppnin, and the bit where she stands up into the clouds and unveiling circles looks a bit messy. Possibly the bits with the hands could be improved as well.

      That said, I’d be surprised if they’re not working on these as we speak.

      I still think Iceland is the one to watch. I agree they haven’t got the package perfect yet, but if they do by the time Stockholm comes round….oh boy.

  • johnkef

    Having read all the previous comments about certain entries and the probable winner of this year here are my thoughts for the moment.

    A country that is willing to host the constest shows with its song and presence that is serious about it. And if you are not Sweden, Russia, Norway or Denmark who all have the money and the ”know how to do it” then you have to prove that you really want to win. How’s that possible? By sending strong entries for 2-3 years in a row and wait for your turn. In the semi finals era the countries that won the contest (with the exception of 2004, 2006) were near the top the previous 1-2 years. You have to build a momentum to winthe contest or send a really mazing song that stands over the crowd.

    From that perspective let’s see who could be a potential winner with the pro’s and con’s according to odds amd momentum

    1. Russia.
    Strong entry? Check, Momentum? Check.

    They definitely want to host it. My only concern is that the song looks very calculated and fussy.

    2. Sweden

    Strong entry? Yes and no, Momentum? Hmmm…

    The entry is a Top10 quality for me and can’t see it higher than Top5. The thing that concerns me the most though is that the last back to back win was the 1992-1994 Irish era before televoting. I believe that Sweden has no problem hosting the show every 3 or 4 years but every year is a heavy economic burden even for them.

    3. Croatia

    Strong entry? Personally i disagrre but people like it, so for conversation’s shake let’s say Yes,
    Momentum? With a 4/10 qualification record, 4 straight disqualifications and 2 years of absence, are you kidding me? If i were the Croatian delegation i would sign right now a contract that would say my country is gonna finish in the Top10

    4. Australia

    Strong entry? Check, Momentum? Check

    This is the the stronger usurper of the throne and UK’s only chance of hosting the Contest…The country that can get some 12’s from the Anglo-Saxon countries and many 4-8 from all over Europe, even the East. This is the entry that can bring Russia down.

    5. Malta

    Strong entry? I don’t think so but let’s say yes
    Momentum? With just one Top10 finishing in the last 10 years and that’s 4 years ago, i don’t think so. The song is a Top10 – Top 8 material

    6. Latvia

    Strong entry? Check, Momentum? Check

    Latvia has built its momentum from last year and that gives them the chance to go for the title. They belong in 2 different voing blocks ( Scandinavian + East European) and have a proper anglo-saxon song. They might do well and score points everywhere. The key point is the staging. Top5 is the bottom and looking higher. The 3rd contender in my opinion.

    7. France

    Strong entry? Check, Momentum? With just an 8th place in the semi finals era NO !!!

    France is going for their best result for over a decade. Probable Top 5-6 can do better only if has a very good draw and appear between sad – boring ballads. I wouldn’t write that off yet…

    8. Ukraine

    Strong entry? Check, Momentum? Yes and no

    They were absent last year but were 3rd and 6th the previous years. Leftfield entry? Yes, but…since 2012 and Suus, leftfield entries are doing rather well and european audience is getting familiar with unconventional sounds so why not? Everything is depending on Jamala’s performance and the way commentators will present the song. Ukraine’s presence might harm Russia’s chances losing votes in the west

    9. Armenia

    Strong entry? Check, Momentum? Yes, because…

    Armenia was a Top 10 country in the televoting era and survived the jury era finishing 4th in 2014 with a leftfield entry. They always aim high and the song is my Dark horse for this year. Will fly under the radar until its first rehearsal and then prepare for the price crushing 2015 Polina Gagarina and 2014 Common Linnets style…You have been warned!

    My Top 5 for this year is

    1. Australia
    2. Russia
    3. Latvia
    4. Armenia
    5. Ukraine or France

    with Cyprus, Israel, Italy and Malta or Sweden closing the Top 10

    • Ande

      When it comes to finding the best song or singer I believe almost any country has the chance to find the odd golden egg. That’s why Conchita was able to win even though she represented Austria.

      I think your statement rings more true to the staging part of the contest. Acts that are reliant on intricate staging won’t win if they come from countries with a bad track record.

  • Henry VIII

    Without checking, I don’t think Germany or Austria were near the top in the preceding 2 years. And then you mention Ukraine and Finland as zero momentum countries. So a winner can come out of nowhere if the song is good.

    • johnkef

      You are right about Austria. I forgot to mention that. Concerning Germany, the previous year had Dita von Teese on the scene, trying to make some noise and they definitely wanted to host the show. Even Finland in 2006 was helped by Norway’s 2005 ”In my dreams” that made hard-glam rock acceptable.

      My point is that if you are not Sweden, Russia, Norway or Denmark it’s more difficult for your country to win the contest without making a statemet before. Take Netherlands for example. . They’ve sent Anouk in 2013 finishing 9th and the next year Common Linnets almost nailed it. Had they been Swedish and they would have been favorites since March. And i use the same band to make another point. This year they are sending a song that has many commons with the 2014 entry, much more inferior in my opinion, but still people here believe that Douwe Bob is a dark horse. How many people would consider him a potential contender if Common Linnets haven’t had participated for Netherlands?

      • Murun Buchstansangur

        Interesting theory John, just not sure how that could play out in reality. I don’t think that someone watching the ESC in Estonia will be having the previous years’ entries in mind at all when considering who to vote for. I also struggle to see jurors taking previous years’ results into account when deciding on their ranking for the year in question. Is this what you are suggesting?

        • johnkef

          My point is that every country in the contest is a brand name. The big majority of the viewers certainly doesn’t remember what happened last year, but they also have a perception of what’s going on in the contest or which countries are the big names. And of course they remember the countries and songs that they liked the previous years.

          The thing that matters the most is the song and i’m not implying that a song from a random country cannot win the contest, but there are some steps to follow first:

          a. Choose a really good song that it will stand among the crowd
          b. Invest money to promote the song and stage it the best way possible
          c. Have the know how to do it and show that you are willing to do whatever it takes to host the contest.

          There is a small circle of countries that does it every year: Sweden, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Azerbaijan and Turkey the 2003-2012 decade. These countries do their best and depends on the quality of their song to win or pursue the win.

          If you do not belong in that group you have to find an amazing song to win the constest, do your best to make a good production but you have the victory window open just for that year so you have to make everything else perfect ( stage the song, promotion, no PR disasters, broadcaster who can afford to host the show).

          Let’s see what happened in the past

          2004: Ukraine (very expensive production in just the 2nd presence)

          2005: Greece (3rd in 2004)

          2006: Finland – The biggest exception so far

          2007: Serbia (didn’t participate in 2006 but 7th in 2005 and 2nd in 2004)

          2008: Russia ( 3rd-2007, 2nd-2006)

          2009: Norway ( 5th-2008)

          2010: Germany – The other exception but with a broadcaster more than eager to host the show

          2011: Azerbaijan ( 5th-2010, 3rd-2009)

          2012: Sweden (3rd-2011)

          2013: Denmark (23rd-2012 but 5th-2011, 4th-2010)

          2014: Austria – Didn’t qualify the previous 2 years but, Conchita was a phenomenon plus she has chosen her song among the 600 something songs that were submitted to her. The only country that had the material to win the contest without the know how

          2015: Sweden (3rd-2014)

          The pattern is there. You chase the win and you’ll get it in a 2-3 year span. Having that in mind it’s my personal opinion that Croatia, Malta and Ukraine for different reasons should not be considered as favorites. Their songs are not 10-15% better than all the others to have the chance for the win.

          Sweden on the other hand has a mediocre song that is among the favorites because it’s Sweden. So i believe it’s gonna be between Russia, Australia, Latvia and Armenia

  • Jim

    Russia has it in the pocket… i’ve seen his live performance of the song. no need to overthink it any further.. also Armenia will score very high too, a top 10 is a certainty.

  • Murun Buchstansangur

    Thanks for the detailed reply John.

    Are you saying that previous success is indicative of them taking the contest seriously, of them understanding what it takes to win, or do well, and therefore increasing the chances of them producing a winning song this year?

    Or are you suggesting that the public and the juries sit up and take notice when Sweden perform, perhaps giving their performance more attention and credibility because its Sweden and everyone knows how good Sweden are at ESC, and possibly giving them a higher jury or televote score than the package deserves?

    I can agree with the 1st premise, but I’m not sure about the 2nd. I don’t know, I suppose there could be an argument that the audience might actually expect more from those countries with a higher ESC pedigree making it harder for them to win.

    “They’ve sent Anouk in 2013 finishing 9th and the next year Common Linnets almost nailed it. Had they been Swedish and they would have been favorites since March.”

    Does this point reflect their actual chances or just the market’s (possibly inaccurate) measure of their chances?

    • johnkef

      ”Are you saying that previous success is indicative of them taking the contest seriously, of them understanding what it takes to win, or do well, and therefore increasing the chances of them producing a winning song this year?”

      This is exactly what i’m talking about. The contest is not only about the song. You have to make a big production, promote the song properly and try to avoid any PR disasters (ex. Aram’s anti-gay statements in 2014, keep low profile even if you are the favorite etc)

      I don’t believe that the public or juries are influenced by the country’s pedigree but even my friends who just watch the show and haven’t heard the songs before that night, remember the songs that liked the previous years and have one or more countries that they support because of their previous entries.

      Concerning the juries, i don’t have an answer but personal taste and sympathies or dislikes are a factor apart from the song quality. In sports where jurors are the ones who deside the result ( gymnastics, syncronized swimming, ice skating, diving) it’s a fact that countries with a tradition are benefited and get higher scores even if their performance is average. (Russia is a good example in all these sports)

      ”Does this point reflect their actual chances or just the market’s (possibly inaccurate) measure of their chances?

      If you read the posts from 2 years ago before the rehearsals, you won’t find anything about Netherlands, even Austria. Conchita just a week before the final, was paying 2.20 to be at Top10. Buying Austria and Netherlands each way @51 and @101 in late March that year were my best decisions ever concerning the contest.

  • Murun Buchstansangur

    “In sports where jurors are the ones who deside the result ( gymnastics, syncronized swimming, ice skating, diving) it’s a fact that countries with a tradition are benefited and get higher scores even if their performance is average. (Russia is a good example in all these sports)”

    Very interesting, no reason why that effect shouldn’t carry through to ESC. Also interesting that your friends have their favourites that they are predisposed to support.

    Are there any results in recent years where you feel this effect has skewed the result resulting in a country doing better than they otherwise would have?

    I’m tempted to say perhaps Russia, where maybe people voted for him feeling that he should have won before when he came 2nd. But if that’s the case, you could argue that returners would generally expect to do better on their return, but the few that spring to mind, Dima aside did worse.

    • johnkef

      Russia back then 2006-2008 was doing everything it could to win the contest. Russia is definitely the country that the eastern countries juries will vote no matter how average the song might be.

      The same happens with Sweden sometimes (2011 and 2014 come in mind), but i cannot know the way jurors think or the incentives they have to vote for or against a certain song or country.

      I’m 100% certain though that juries in eastern, balkan and scandinavian countries will definitely exchange points with the neighbors, not in the same degree as the televoting era but they still do it. So politics definitely play a role in voting

 Leave a reply...