The Betfair Eurovision market has been a temperamental beast this week. As the Melodifestivalen Final points were being revealed, Sweden’s odds went as short as 2.4 when Frans’ ‘If I Were Sorry‘ stormed into an early lead with the international juries. Those odds drifted out slightly as he was eventually pulled back in those jury scores.
A televote landslide was expected to cement victory, but as it turned out the distribution of televotes was far flatter than ever experienced before, no doubt as a result of the first appearance of app voting in the final which allowed five votes per act. Frans’ 14.9% winning percentage saw punters decide Russia deserved favouritism instead. The Sweden drift continued when, as the host country, their individual random draw placed them #9 in the grand final.
It seems remarkable that Sweden’s odds drifted from under 3.0 to 9.0 on the basis of these two bits of information. Firstly, any statistician would confirm it’s pointless to compare Frans’ televote with the likes of Mans or Loreen, given the app voting and the clear changes it brought. Secondly, Conchita and Mans won from #11 and #10 in the running order. It Frans doesn’t win Eurovision, I don’t think it will be because of his slot in the final.
But the drift may have also partly reflected other more significant concerns. Principally, an inconsistent set of international jury scores tapped into a feeling that Frans’ intimate, barely-more-than-spoken vocals are far apart from the powerhouse stuff that Eurovision juries more consistently recognise. Nonetheless they have also shown an increasing acknowledgement of the most contemporary songs. ‘If I Were Sorry’ definitely falls into that category, and yet it now stands at well over double the price of the comparatively dated if more typically Eurovision-y Russian favourite.
Working down the outright market for the most recent selections, Malta also found itself yo-yoing before and after the Thursday night reveal of Ira Losco’s new song ‘Walk On Water‘. It came down to near enough single figures before drifting strikingly on being released. I think the drift was justified, because it has the feel of 100 ideas in search of a song. We are promised a staging sensation – let’s hope that delivers more than the song itself.
Serbia came up with something different than we’re used to from the Balkan powerhouse. ZAA Sanja Vucic sings in English for the Winehouse-esque lament ‘Goodbye (Shelter)‘. There are a few superficially ethno moments, but it’s a very western and accessible effort. Vucic’s stage movements are a little off-putting in the preview video, but the whole package will be worth monitoring closely in rehearsals.
Azerbaijan ‘s reveal felt a little more predictable in that the song was a well-produced Swedish import. ‘Miracle‘ delivers a more impactful chorus than many of those fishing in the same midtempo genre this year. But I could’ve done with a more stripped back middle eight to bring greater variety to the refrain. Much will depend on how far Samra’s vocals can be improved from what we saw in the 2012 Azeri selection process.
Donny Montell finally won the Lithuanian selection with ‘I’ve Been Waiting for This Night‘, which feels competent enough to qualify but perhaps too generic to do much damage on the Saturday night scoreboard. Still, his victory was better received than the significant revamp to the Israeli and Albanian entries. Hovi Star has gone all Sam Smith in the new ‘Made of Stars‘, whilst Eneda Tarifa’s new version of ‘Fairytale‘ feels very anonymous.
There are still a few more pieces to fit into the jigsaw. The Bulgarian entry will be revealed next week, whilst at some point in the near future we will also get the Eurovision version of Italy’s song from Francesca Michielin. The next big moment in the pre-rehearsal period is the Amsterdam preview party on April 9. In the meantime, keep your comments coming below.