London Eurovision Party 2016

The London Eurovision Party is a more informal affair than its Amsterdam counterpart. The usual caveat about not reading too much into fan events definitely applies here: the stage is tiny, and the backing track was often too high in the sound mix. Nonetheless, the organisers did a good job in mixing spontaneity with efficiency, and a good time was had by all. Go to the esckaz playlist to watch for yourself.

The first to perform was one of those we didn’t see in Amsterdam: Ireland’s Nicky Byrne. We didn’t learn too much from his rendition of ‘Sunlight’ that we didn’t know before. He doesn’t have the strongest voice, but a bigger problem may be the number of slightly generic, radio-friendly pop songs of this ilk up against him.

The other newbie to the fan event circuit was Sweden’s Frans. He showed calm and confidence beyond his 17 years, enjoying his rendition of ‘If I Were Sorry’. This won’t have changed any of the most polarised opinions on this entry: easily the most contemporary and relevant of this year’s acts; or a petulant teenager moaning about his ex throughout his Eurovision three minutes?

As in Amsterdam, the best reception was reserved for the Austrian and French performers. The hero’s welcome accorded to Zoe for ‘Loin D’Ici’ was enough for an impromptu encore once she’d wiped a few tears away. Meanwhile, Amir has grown in confidence with the love he’s been getting for ‘J’ai Cherche’ at these events. I’ve not been on the right side of the gamble on France, but he has charm aplenty, and in an open year, it’s best to approach the most important period of all – rehearsals – with an open mind.

One that grew on me most last night was Italy’s Francesca Michielin, who was wonderfully expressive for ‘No Degree of Separation’. I’ve previously said she might make use of the piano on stage, but her armography only added to the performance, and she should stick with that. Croatia’s Nina Kraljic also tries to emote with her arms, but is not so successful. Perhaps because part of it involves showing off an unflattering dress. Vocally, ‘Lighthouse’ is a tricky beast that she can mostly handle, but overall it’s feeling like a long three minutes at the moment.

Another one who could do with changing the way they are connecting with the audience is Albania’s Eneda Tarifa, who looks like a woman scorned as she sings lines like, “And that’s why I love you.” In ‘Fairytale’ she doesn’t have much of a song to work with. It wasn’t a great performance from Cyprus’s Minus One last night either. Lead singer Francois fluffed the opening and then struggled against a backing track that drowned him out. I don’t expect so many problems in Stockholm.

Apart from Italy, my standout performer last night was Bulgaria’s Poli Genova, who combines great energy with strong vocals for ‘If Love Was A Crime’. This is one of the first rehearsals I’ll be most eagerly awaiting in Stockholm. Latvia’s Justs was vocally sound again, although he obviously prefers to be at full throttle which he gets to at the first chorus onwards of ‘Heartbeat’. There wasn’t the space to move around the stage last night as he did in Amsterdam, and I think there needs to be a reasonable amount of movement in Stockholm.

The homecoming UK pair, Joe and Jake, were having the time of their lives. ‘You’re Not Alone’ comes across as a perfectly good song in this kind of environment, but the fear remains that it will get lost on the night of the final. Poland’s Michal Szpak has excellent vocals, but I can’t help but be disappointed that they’re deployed towards something so dated as ‘Color Of Your Life’.

The other performers, including Romania, Montenegro, FYROM, Malta and Spain, put in largely facsimile performances from the Amsterdam show. Which leaves us for two more weeks of thinking out loud before rehearsals begin. Do continue to give your thoughts below.

171 comments to London Eurovision Party 2016

  • Justin

    Thanks for the review Daniel. I wasn’t at the Amsterdam event so this was the first sighting I had had of the performers.

    I have to say I was a little disappointed with Frans. My impression was that the vocal was shakey and he came across as a little aloof (or perhaps shy?). But worse for me was that ‘If I were sorry’ had very little impact. It faded from memory very quickly. That’s a concern for it’s win potential in draw 9 – but of course it may just be that it was not the right environment for this kind of song.

    In contrast I was hugely impressed with Justs for Latvia. Unlike Frans he oozes charisma, has boyish good looks to match and already looks like a pop star. His vocals were as good any other on the evening and his performance of ‘Heartbeat’ was completely captivating.

    Similarly, though to a lesser extent, Amir was also impressive. Whilst Justs has the boyish charm, Amir has a mature sophisticated, accomplished air but without any French aloofness. I have to say I was won over by this charming infectious package and don’t really see his vocals as an issue. It will be interesting to see how much the French invest in staging this one.

    Nina for Croatia was just a beige performance and did nothing to raise my expectation of borderline non/qualifier. Neither song nor performer will motivate televoters to vote for her in my opinion.

    Joe and Jake were fun, but still look like a couple of chavvy lads messing around in a karaoke. I’m not as dismissive of UK entry as some but think they need to tighten up their image.

  • Hippo

    Justs again the most impressive from the clips I saw. There’s definitely more than a 3% or so implied chance of him winning this.

    I’m starting to worry about Cyprus a bit. That’s three lives I’ve seen and three dissapointing performances. There may be more to it than just technical and sound mixing issues.

    Croatia are a bit of a mess at the moment too. I’m not sure who is going to pick up the phone to vote for Nina as she is there.

    I’m still struggling to see Amir as a winner either. The song is good and he’s likable but he isn’t a good enough singer to pull of the song. That and the poor French record of staging, lack of any diaspora and minimal bloc support seem to be being totally ignored by the market.

  • Chris Bellis

    There is a sizeable French diaspora actually, but they don’t tend to be Eurovision fans. France has put some of their best acts forward over the previous years (unlike us) and have received scant reward. This one has the best chance for many years, but I still can’t see it happening.

  • Still more positive sounds about Latvia re: performance, albeit not a big enough stage to make a true assertion. Amsterdam was also helpful in that respect. Think the 23.0 offered on the win market has a lot of potential to shorten, so I think there’s a good argument to take on these odds at the minute.

  • PurpleKylie

    Great news folks, the ESC Tracker has finally been updated with this year’s songs! 😀

    http://esctracker.com/

    • Hippo

      Dami Im nowhere to be seen. If aussies aren’t even listening to it that’s a huge warning about how Europe will take to it. Looking very, very short all things considered.

      Lol at Joe and Jake beating Lazarev domestically.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Last night was a really great night and cafe de paris was rammed pack full of Eurovision fans. I arrived a little late at around 8pm so missed Nicky Byrne he didn’t hang around long, I heard there was a fast car waiting for him outside. I did catch Barei and her song “Say Yay” however and her dance has now become so bad it’s good!! My head says that she shouldn’t really be troubling the top 10 but my gut says different. Now I can’t express the audience reaction to “Loin d’ici” but I put the reaction to Zoe on a par with that of Conchita, and I too do warm to her even if her song is not my cup of tea. Francesca Michielin is almost the polar opposite in comparison “No Degree Of Separation” is one of my favourite songs to come out of this year, but I feel she doesn’t connect with the audience and I’ve yet to see her smile in any of her performances. Justs has a fantastic song and gives a real timeless performance and could easily fit into a winner camp and the Latvia price in the winner market looks like a bit of value. Michal Szpak has a fantastic voice and his over all appearance has a unique appeal that has me intrigued, he’s very alluring and even if his song is dated I would rule him out. Frans look and song is very laid back he was dressed last night kinda like a cat burglar but he styles “I’m Not Sorry” out well and gives his performance a bit of a bad boy angle and at 16 in the winner market that is an awfully big price IMO and I can see Sweden shortening much like Sanna Nielsen did in 2014 as we near the final. If Frans was the bad boy of the night then the UKs Joe & Jake are good honest boys with a good honest entry a top 10 maybe out of the question but there is a top 15 market on betfair and a back isn’t the worst bet in the world. Amir looked like he had the whole package to be a market leader, look song and real likeable down to earth guy, the crowd really got behind “J’ai Cherche” and they went bonkers when he sung “Golden Boy” I think France have it this year and slowly the market seem to suggest that, staging and draw will be key this year, but France with Amir have a strong entry.

  • Justin

    Any ideas why Malta is level on price in the outright with the likes of Armenia, Ukraine, Latvia and Serbia and yet nearly double those countries’ prices in the Top 10 market?

    For me the Top 10 price is right and it’s completely overrated in the outright. I guess it maybe that it cannot rely on safety net of the televote diaspora of those others so top 10 is less likely if the song does not go down as well as hoped. Or maybe it’s something else?

    • The rumour is that Malta are allegedly going to have something really special in terms of staging. But then it was also rumoured that they were going to have something really special in terms of song, and that didn’t quite happen.

  • Henry VIII

    So ESC Tracker shows that nothing is that commercial this year. Nothing has made any impact. (Some will chart after the semi’s of course.)

    • I don’t think songs usually chart better than this pre-contest, though? Am I missing something?

      • Ben Cook

        Not really. Lena did well in Austria and Switzerland, Loreen did well in Finland and Estonia and couple other places but no one ever has continent-wide chart success ahead of the show.

        Frans is doing well in the UK though. He’s now on MTV Hits/MTV Dance/VIVA C-list and Columbia are about to service to UK radio.

        • Yeah I saw that regarding the TV play in the UK, disappointingly though it hasn’t had any impact on Spotify/iTunes plays. I guess the C-list is the lowest tier?

          Interesting (and new for me) info on the upcoming radio play, where did you learn that? Although if play is only in UK I guess impact will always be limited to the UK (naturally), do you have any info on whether there are plans to spread plays to other countries? Or perhaps the respective country departments for MTV/VIVA/Columbia are totally autonomous.

  • Milton

    “Columbia are about to service to UK radio.”

    What does that mean please Ben?

    • Ben Cook

      His record label are going to send it to UK radio stations in an active attempt to get it some airplay

      • johnkef

        For all the noise-lovers in this site. Frans’s song is included in the Zara stores playlist for the past 3 weeks. What does this mean? That all the Zara stores globally play at least once every day ”If i were sorry”.

  • Stephen

    Listened to all songs now, agree with general positivity regarding Latvia, top 5 contender for sure, maybe even better. Quite like Armenia but don’t see it winning as too love or hate. Can’t believe Russia is favourite, although well performed nothing special. Czechs has potential, nice little song well sung. Australia going nowhere. Malta ditto. France cheesy, but can win. Ukraine no chance. Quite like Italy but doubtful appeal to masses. Sweden solid enough.

    On balance Latvia ew at the prices for me at this stage

  • Alpie

    Serbia is shining like a diamond and you are not just aware of it. I would like to remind you how Conchita got all attention in a week and came down from 40/1

  • peterrehberg

    Feel very much like Stephen about Italy, Sweden, Russia, Australia and also agree with Henry VIII on Serbia. Where does that leave us at this point? “France cheesy, but can win” sums it up very well for me.

  • It’s rather a weak, repetitive cheese though.

    And there’s a different type of cheese, also with a charismatic handsome male, power in the song, and the biggest diaspora.

  • peterrehberg

    Both types of cheese, interestingly, seem to echo Mans’ victory from last year in different ways. One takes the formulaic Euro-Pop as blueprint and turns it into to an 80s Janet-Jackson-S/M-light-performance and the other reinvents the sing-a-long o-a-o-a-o-a of Heroes und turns it into Amir’s you-u-u-u. But is Sergej charismatic? The lack of diaspora is an argument, but it didn’t prevent Austria or Germany from wining. If we are talking about voting patterns and nationalisms (or racisms) at Eurovision: How will Amir’s Jewishness, he also emigrated to Israel as a child, impact the voting? How much will he be perceived as French or as Israeli – is that going to be part of the perception of his persona? How will that manifest itself beyond the 12 points from Israel?

  • They made a big fuss of him in Israel but I doubt anybody else is going to know he’s Jewish. His Arabness is obvious in his name and complexion and could put off some but this is an audience who gave victory to Conchita so they probably don’t care.

  • peterrehberg

    You are probably right about this.

  • Ben Cook

    Rehearsal schedule is out: http://eurovoix.com/2016/04/19/rehearsal-schedule-revealed/

    Finalists doing first and second rehearsals on Fri-Sun of week 1 because they are going to show clip of their performance recorded from the rehearsal the night before – I wonder if that means their performance will be shown in full to the juries in the semi-final.

    Sweden first rehearsal on Tuesday, I suppose just because Fri and Sat are so busy and it’s not too difficult for home artist to get their earlier. Annoying though – I was going to get an extra bet on them after their odds drift in week 1 just as people get overexcited about some of the other semi-finalists.

  • Paddy Power have Iceland at 14/1 in the top Scandinavian market (with Sweden a quite ridiculous 1/14). I’ll certainly take the pocket change that they will let me bet on that one.

    • Henry VIII

      It just makes you think what a lot of rubbish Scandinavia are sending this year, unusually. Frans is good but quiet and pedestrian for slot 9.

  • Black n Blue

    I’m just going to paste what I said over at ESCtips:

    I’m not entirely sure what to make of all the France hype as of late. It just sounds like people are getting bored and are somewhat artificially looking for something to get excited about before rehearsals. The jury rehearsal could turn out to be the stuff of nightmares for Amir.

    The value I reckon lies in Serbia. It’s remarkable really that a song of such quality can be matched outright on betfair @34+. It’s a beautifully composed number, with excellent build and a touch of ethno flair to it. I played Sanja’s Amsterdam performance to a couple of friends yesterday, and the response was very positive. I think once you strip back the twitchy, jerky stuff from the preview clip, it knocks down the initial brick wall of the aesthetic, to open up a much broader appreciation of the acoustic.

    My interpretation of the current price for Serbia is that it’s relative to punter hesitation. Similar to Conchita’s circumstance two years ago, there are presentational issues to address that could swing things either way and nobody wants to jump the gun. The value is there though, and I currently have Serbia as one of my biggest greens.

    • Hippo

      I have Serbia as a large green too. I can’t see it shortening much below 30s at all, I think it will get overlooked by the average punter (partly preview video, partly because it’s not really contemporary) but this will -pending facial expressions – come very high. It’s mopping up the Balkan votes and juries should go for it too. I don’t think it’s appealing enough beyond those demographics to actually win but at current odds is worth having on side.

    • Alpie

      you’ve made a good point. She’s gonna storm the final night and the song’s quality is miles away than the rest. Dont forget balkan voting in favor of Serbia.

    • Black n Blue

      Also when I was watching the clip today, my cat came over and parked himself in front of the laptop. I’m sure now that Serbia’s got the feline vote all but sewn up 😉

  • It’s hard for me to appoint a winner two weeks before the rehearsals. But I think France and Sweden have the biggest chances. Both songs are unique and contemporary within the field of participants. Both performers are incredibly charismatic and telegenic. There’s no doubt that the MF staging from Sweden is quite strong (The LED-projections of the lyrics combined with wonderful camerawork). But France brings in a new HoD, thus some new staging potential as well.

    Both entries have disadvantages as well. Sweden’s 9th running order slot isn’t a huge advantage. Let’s not forget the ‘blood bath’ of last year’s first half of the final. Televoters usually suffer more from ‘Alzheimer’, and that was seen in the 100% televote result, which Sweden couldn’t win.

    And for France the disadvantage is based on historical stats -‘France always does bad’-. But Eurovision doesn’t look to historical results. Ask Germany in 2010. Another disadvantage is perhaps the staging potential, but certain songs IMO are simply too ‘straight in your face’, that some staging hiccups or lack of inventive visuals/props do not have a huge effect on winning. Again, ask Germany 2010.

    So Sweden and France for me. Closely followed by Latvia and Russia. I’m starting to rule out Australia a bit.

    Regarding Latvia, I think it’s one of the best songs of 2016. But there’s a ‘but’. It’s modern, it’s contemporary, it has hit potential. It should win. But…the overall melody has slightly less ‘fell good vibe’ to it. It’s in essence a dramatic ballad with very contemporary electronic music attached to it. And the lyrical content isn’t that uplifting either. France and Sweden win on that aspect.

    Russia for me has a more contemporary problem: The song is slightly dated. I even have to admit that Russia 2008 feels even more contemporary than Russia 2016. Therefore it could struggle with juries. But IF Russia does the exponential of the augmented reality visuals from Sweden 2015, then it could be in the mix.

    • Alpie

      France’s song is a way too cheesy like Bulgaria’s. I would prefer Bulgaria over France in that category.

      • Bulgaria is a bit overhyped I think. To me it sounds like a Junior Eurovision entry. A good Junior Eurovision entry, but still…..I can’t put my finger on it, but it feels a bit ‘cheap’ compared to the more memorable melodies of France, Sweden and Latvia. And that’s mainly because of the rather childish electronic studio mix. It’s a bit annoying. Moreover, Poli is a great singer, but her appearance is a bit akward.

  • Hippo

    About all these Lena comparisons with Amir, there’s a few differences worth mentioning too:

    1- Running order – the way things landed for Lena back in 2010 was incredibly lucky with her getting 22nd and the strongest challenger -Azerbaijan – getting 1st. That will not happen this year. Even if France gets second half and all other challengers get first half, Svt are going to have the challengers in that 10-13 bracket. A not insurmountable gap. Likewise if France draw first half this year they don’t win- probably same for any other country in a narrow year.

    2- Lena could sing the song. No she didn’t have the best voice and can’t hold a long or high note but she didn’t need to. Satellite wasn’t a demanding song. J’ai Cherche is. The vast majority of viewers won’t see or hear the studio version -unless he starts charting a lot more. The first impression may well be that it’s really badly sung and Amir’s charisma might not be enough to save it.

    3) Different stage and feel to the event – Oslo didn’t really give many staging options to acts and the whole thing had a very simple feel to it that Stockholm won’t. Lena’s staging fitted perfectly to this.There’s a hell of a lot of screens and pyros to play around with in Stockholm. Sadly I fear the French aren’t going to use it well at all compared to other countries or will get overshadowed.

    4) Completely different voting system. We’ll never know, but my guess would be if the juries ranked every song like they do now, Lena would have received a significantly lower jury score. The diaspora is back too, it probably won’t decide the result but it has to be a disadvantage to France.

    France can win but so can many countries and 4/1 is an absurd price with so many unknowns and is based primarily on ‘the fans love it’ and as the fans also love Spain and Austria I don’t think they’re going to be an accurate predictor this year.

    • You imply a lot, but I already mentioned before that it’s simply not true that Amir is a bad vocalist. It’s a consistent exaggeration I think. And most of the people in here are enlarging one tiny aspect of the high notes near the end to such incredible heights that objectivity is gone. What counts for me is this performance:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uz0iDlEMXM

      This is not just an OK-singer. This is a great singer. And I even think that juries will award this entry points because of the fact that it’s a difficult song to sing.

      I also think you slightly exaggerate the influence of the running order. Yes, that influence is more dominant with televoters, as we saw with Sweden last year. But let’s say Germany would have had a 9th slot back in 2010, then I think the overall results would perhaps shrink from 248 points to minimum 220 points. Turkey then still had to overcome quite a huge gap, even if they would gained 20 more points to a supposed end total of 190 points from a presumed 20th slot.

      Many fans only underestimated Germany as a winner back in 2010 BECAUSE it was Germany. It couldn’t happen. Hence why the fan polls and bookies underestimated Germany that year. I have a feeling a lot has changed since 2010…in that we now realize every country can win. With that fact, I still think France is a huge favourite this year.

      Saying that ‘the diaspora is back too’ for me is a bit exaggerated too. It is back for those more ‘troubled’ countries, like borderline qualifiers and countries who barely manage to enter the TOP 10 or TOP 13. Countries Netherlands 2013 (eventually 9th) and Hungary 2013 (10th) would have been the victim of this new voting system. Poland 2014 however(eventually 14th) would have had better chances to enter the TOP 10 under the new voting system.

      France 2016 doesn’t fall in this category at all. Moreover, let’s not forget that the jury members are still being asked to rank ALL countries, in TOP 18/19 order (semi’s) and TOP 26 order (final). So there’s a difference with the 50%jury/50%televoting system used between 2009 and 2012. In that period, each judge was asked to make a TOP 10 ranking.

      • Hippo

        Any country can win from anywhere in the running order of course- if the song is strong enough. At this stage I don’t feel Jai Cherche is strong enough compared to the opposition to overcome France’s voting lag or memorable enough from a possible first half draw. I have no doubt Amir is a good singer, but this is a hard song to master and wouldn’t like to be taking 3 or 4 to 1 on it.

    • Henry VIII

      I think those are good points Hippo. I’m not sure about 4 though, why do you think the juries might have marked Lena differently today?

      • Hippo

        Mainly ‘vocal capacity ‘. It can’t be proven and is more speculation but I’d say Lena would have got a lot of 20th and down placings by any juror taking that category seriously, dragging down her score. A bit like Frans getting his two nul points in MF, some will buy into the charm and appeal but those who don’t can easily justify giving a low score.
        The inoffensive well-sung ballad from Georgia would have probably won the jury under today’s rules.

        • Sorry, but please give me better proof then. I think you need to judge the vocal capacity within the actual total package. If Rona would have belted out ‘Satellite’ in her typical way, Germany would perhaps not have won. The total package worked because of all elements fitting in so nicely and perfectly.

          These ‘nil’ points from Frans from Sweden were also greatly exaggerated. In a similar way Wiktoria, Ace Wilder and Oskar got a bucket of very low points as well. My point for that is this: Perhaps the line-up of the Swedish Melodifestivalen was so damn competitive, that jurors on the whole couldn’t make up their minds.

          You presume too much I think Hippo.

    • eurovicious

      I’m with Hippo – the Lena comparison can be applied much more successfully to Frans (contemporary, different to the rest of the field, not vocally driven but relies on conveying a certain vibe/personality) and Justs (ditto minus the not-vocally-driven part) than Amir (very generic foreign-language song barely better than Say Yay, doesn’t stand out from the rest of the field or convey any particularly striking vibe or personality, mismatch between vocal required/studio vocal and singer’s actual likely vocal performance on the night). Satellite can be used as an example of why Sweden or Latvia could succeed this year, but France? I’m not seeing a basis for the comparison…

      Regarding the MF line-up this year, it was incredibly bland even by the standards of 2010s MF, I said to Tim that Frans would win MF as soon as it came on in the semi, as it stood out and had a semblance of personality plus was pitched at younger and female voters while remaining credible and pseudo-raw – pop with anti-pop stylings, yet still enough of a “product” for Swedes to go for it. Weirdly some of the online fans who loudly objected to it winning MF (because… it’s not Swedish-pop enough?) are now championing it to win Eurovision (because… oh, apparently it is Swedish-pop enough now after all, by virtue of it being the Swedish entry?) Honestly, while right now I don’t think either will take the trophy, I’d rather If I Were Sorry (which has already proven it has legs as a hit) do it than J’ai cherche – which has absolutely nothing to it other than, I dunno, apparently he’s a dentist in real life and I guess the fanboys want to #openwide for him? Also Robin Stjernberg called, he wants his hook back…

      • Panos

        Your comment actually gave me an internal orgasm Eurovicious. Couldn’t agree more if I wanted to. Can’t wait for the moment the market wakes up. Frans is Lena. Amir is Maraaya.

        • Henry VIII

          How do you have an external orgasm? (You may be confusing with ejaculation).

        • Henry VIII

          Frans isn’t oddball and charming enough to be Lena. But he also can’t be Lena from slot 9. He would have to be about slot 22 like her.

          That’s to Panos. I agree more with eurovicious’ post.

        • eurovicious

          Cleanup in aisle Panos ;)… thanks, though the Lena/Frans comparison came from you originally: http://sofabet.com/2016/04/01/eurovision-2016-odds-ends/#comment-71008 I do believe it has some validity, especially now that If I Were Sorry has successfully entered the mainstream pop infrastructure in a way we only rarely see entries do pre-contest. I do also agree with what Kylie says though… Satellite is much more dynamic and historically the contest has had many more female solo winners than male solo winners, though it’s worth noting that (in my book) 2010 was also a very bland/weak contest, so for my money Satellite, If I Were Sorry and Heartbeat all stand out from their respective fields in a way that J’ai cherche doesn’t and You Are The Only One doesn’t in the right way. To me, J’ai cherche, pleasant and competent though it is, is a less well-written/structured, less well-sung and less accessible version of Robin Stjernberg’s You (though will probably be better staged and shot), while You Are The Only One is a darker and more driving improvement on Sakis Rouvas’s This Is Our Night but also camper and significantly more dated given the time that’s passed. Don’t get me wrong, I love it as much as I love this picture https://www.instagram.com/p/BDbQ_wZw6cQ and expect it to place highly, but it’s the definition of fanwank – the work of a pretty-much all-gay creative team of people who love the contest, or more precisely, love what it used to be: the characteristic ESC sound of the 2000s as exemplified by Euroband and Shady Lady. It’s the type of song that dyed-in-the-wool Eurovision fans of my generation and older (much less so those younger) go crazy for, but that you’d never hear the like of on commercial pop radio in Western Europe. As an old-school europop paean to the contest by a forty-something gay songwriter, You Are The Only One has much in common with Beauty Never Lies (via Popular).

          (In terms of my personal tastes, there are only about 5 songs I like this year. In order: Latvia, San Marino, Germany, Russia, Ireland. But Ireland is badly sung, so it’s kinda only 4 really.)

          • Well, looking at your…..’erect’ Sergey picture, I’m surely going to follow your arguments as a basis for betting ;-).

            ‘You Are The Only One’ is the kind of song that belongs more in the contest the late Terry Wogan loved to criticise to death and failed to understand :-). San Marino is sheer fun, perhaps only because this micro nation reminds some Brits about some of their own ridiculous entries hehe :-P.

            By the way….come back to Twitter you fool!

      • The MF-line up could have been bland. But that’s also a matter of taste. Fact is, it was a very competitive MF-final, regardless of the blandness.

        The 2002 contest was an incredible bland affair too, but Malta and Latvia were very competitive with each other.

        Regarding the Lena-comparison…..I think “If I Were Sorry” feels a bit less up-tempo when compared to “Satellite”. On the other hand, “J’ai Cherché” is slightly more up-tempo than “Satellite”. Perhaps it’s the beat of all these three songs that makes a comparison logical.

        But comparing Maraaya with Amir is again quite an exaggeration. Maraaya looked as ‘ice queeny’ as Molly for the UK back in 2014. Total absence of charisma. When judging the aspects like ‘telegenic’, connecting with both camera’s and audiences and charisma…..I think Amir is up there with singers like Frans, Jüri (very good EiC performance), Douwe Bob, Justs, Zoë (regardless of the song, she has charisma), Sergey……..and indeed Lena.

        • Sorry. My Maraaya comparison was for the song not Amir: contemporary-sounding songs fooling people, for whatever reason, that they are more of a contender than they eventually prove to be or that they are better than what they really are, just because they sound contemporary or sound like something that could have been but which they are not. France 2016 has the added bonus of being by a #hot #french #guy .

          • eurovicious

            While I’m here, while I share Daniel’s criticisms of Loin d’ici (and I say that as a Zoe fan – her other tracks including those from last year’s NF are much stronger IMO, though Loin d’ici’s repetitiveness can be viewed as a strength in the context of ESC), I do think it has the potential to stand out from the bland field more than J’ai cherche does. The combination of the visuals, the charismatic MPDG archetype and the nature of the song do make a memorable impression, and she’s a highly competent musician. As a package it stands up for me far better than J’ai cherche does. With the wrong staging it’d do a Maraaya or worse, but with the right staging it can do a Kedvesem or better – of the two French-language songs, I’d more have expected this one to start contracting in the odds than the routine J’ai cherche, given what we know about Zoe as a performer and how the entry will look. It’s beautiful and memorable, an audiovisual ticket to paradise for viewers, and she out-pixies Emmelie de Forest – that’s important. I don’t expect it to be top 5, but I do think it has considerable legs in the field. I struggle to see France or Spain knocking it out of the park in the way I (like most) expect Latvia, Sweden and Russia to for different and overlapping reasons.

          • I understand now hehe. If that’s the case, then I still think the song would have been better suited to a singer like Lena. Staging-wise a lot went wrong with Slovenia. Not to mention the lack of charisma from Maariya. It’s a prime example of a good song…sold bad. But at least Amir is selling his stuff better.

          • PurpleKylie

            In terms of Eurovision totty, the swarthy #HotFrenchGuy is so overrated, give me the cute Latvian with sparkling blue eyes any day of the week instead

          • eurovicious

            I am also not feeling Amir on the libidinal level, which is unusual as hairy thirtysomething Southern European men are quite my thang… there’s something too cheesy about him, in a shiny-toothed primetime ITV sort of way. I’m #TeamLazarev all the way this year as far as my balls go. Dima Bilan never did anything for me, and I wouldn’t have fancied Lazarev even 5 years ago, but now that he’s matured a bit, he’s perf – I love that half-spiv, half sexy-office-coworker thing he has going on, and the mix of confidence, passion, cheekiness and vulnerability. He and his song make me feel thunder and lightning, but I’m afraid the choreography is very very frightening…

          • Such sparkling conversation here…

          • eurovicious

            I can never tell whether you’re being sarcastic or not…

          • If we’re going to get shallow and start rating acts on attractiveness then I’ll state that I’d be more than happy to hear Greta Salome calling any day of the week…a comment that I suspect may leave Eurovicious even more mystified about my taste in women than when I mentioned Valentina Monetta.

          • eurovicious

            Nah, I can understand that more than Valentina Monetta… careful she doesn’t twang your string though

          • Henry VIII

            Phil if you’re a tall man Greta would be impractical. She’s extremely short.

          • Twang my string? That would indeed cause her to hear me howling.

          • PurpleKylie

            @Phil: Oh. Dear. God.

  • eurovicious

    Jala Brat’s new single shows why Bosnia should have just sent him without the other three in tow. It’s even the right length!

  • Mr Wolf

    Every year there’s so much overanalyzing why some act can’t win or succeed..
    Last year it was about Il Volo..who should vote for the “dated” pop-opera ballad sung in Italian and where three men are just standing (most of people also said that besides it has jury appeal, it just doesn’t have enought televoting potential). 2014 it was about Conchita..how the hell could bearded woman with a “dated” James Bond tune win?
    Isn’t that actually pretty simple..If u can make a strong enough sensation thanks to song, emotion, presence, performance or whatever, then there’s gonna be strong enough social buzz and excitement around it and people are going to vote for it and so on.
    Frans has a nice little cute and catchy song and I think he’s gonna do pretty well, but in a context of Eurovision Amir has the most strong package imo. It’s a kind of song people just don’t like, but also love and respect.
    While Frans ofc is gonna receive strong televoting points, but if you let people choose which one is better (best song in Eurovision), they would rather pick Amir.
    “If I Were Sorry” is a good song to listen in Spotify and its emotion has qualities to go viral, but is it really a song which lefts you a feeling that wow, this is really strong (or good), the best one (alpha) of the night like it was with most of the other winners (even 2010 and 2011)?
    “J’ai Cherche” has a good and engaging emotion, sounds really trendy like “Heroes” last year and I think it’s gonna chart really well and make decent buzz before the Final Night. It just needs charming and convincing performance from Amir which should be packaged contemporary enough (dancers would ruin the whole perception of it imo). It just need solid performance with good backdrops like Il Volo last year.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s gonna pass Frans in ITunes very soon.
    I really think this may be what people are expecting from Eurovision song in 2016.

    • Mr Wolf

      I would rather think that Latvia is a bit overrated here in Sofabet.
      It’s really too dark and it’s emotional effect isn’t enough to succeed in televoting on a level to win the competition.
      Even Hungary 2014 got only 10th place in televoting (Final Night).
      And ofc Croatia (or was overrated). I really didn’t get what the fuss was about back then.
      Bulgaria could be the dark horse for TOP6, but not that sure yet before the rehearsals.

      • Completely agree here dear Mr Wolf. Like I said in one of my comments above:

        “Regarding Latvia, I think it’s one of the best songs of 2016. But there’s a ‘but’. It’s modern, it’s contemporary, it has hit potential. It should win. But…the overall melody has slightly less ‘fell good vibe’ to it. It’s in essence a dramatic ballad with very contemporary electronic music attached to it. And the lyrical content isn’t that uplifting either. France and Sweden win on that aspect.”

        I’m curious what Tim B. thinks of that, as he was heavily backing Latvia for victory. Are you already laying a lot Timmy ;-)?

        • eurovicious

          Every recent year has its arthouse credible entries that typically finish 4th-7th – Rhythm Inside, Love Injected, Goodbye To Yesterday, Not Alone, Running, I Feed You My Love, Suus, Kuula… I would hope that to many people Heartbeat and Ghost seem natural and obvious stablemates to those. Yet their odds suggest this isn’t the case, and I’m unsure why – Jamie-Lee has youth/shyness and the likelihood of unremarkable staging against her (while the song and vocal are great, visually the entry can come over as emotionally flat), but Justs is a tremendous performer. Moreover, much as I love most of them, almost all of the songs above never seemed like winners to me (with the exception of Goodbye To Yesterday, which for me stood at the head of last year’s field but ultimately wasn’t contemporary enough – European audiences don’t get retro), whereas Heartbeat looked and sounded like a winner to me the first time I saw it performed in Supernova. It’s truly outstanding, and I find it far more accessible and less staging-dependent than Rhythm Inside or Love Injected, neither of which I clicked with until May last year. How have we reached a point where Russia’s 2009-style gay schlager cheese is fave to win followed by unremarkable French-language wallpaper radio pop sung barely adequately by a 31-year-old dentist, while this uniquely emotive, powerful and contemporary entry with a strikingly distinct identity and flavour, performed by an attractive, stylishly dressed and very Instagram-friendly young man with a killer vocal far beyond his years, penned by the author of a song that finished 2nd in the jury vote last year, languishes at 20/1?

          • PurpleKylie

            “How have we reached a point where Russia’s 2009-style gay schlager cheese is fave to win followed by unremarkable French-language wallpaper radio pop sung barely adequately by a 31-year-old dentist, while this uniquely emotive, powerful and contemporary entry with a strikingly distinct identity and flavour, performed by an attractive, stylishly dressed and very Instagram-friendly young man with a killer vocal far beyond his years, penned by the author of a song that finished 2nd in the jury vote last year, languishes at 20/1?”

            Maybe because most punters are men and both Sergey and Amir’s looks appeal to the typical OGAE’s taste in men, while Justs’ looks appeal more to women like me?

          • eurovicious

            Agree. Shrewd.

          • Mr Wolf

            I personally really like Latvia.
            I think it’s a piece of art and Justs gives trully great performance. I also really like his smokey voice and charisma.
            But.
            Every idea and conception has it’s greatness/size/dimension for how far it can sail and how many people it can unite.
            I think “Heartbeat” is rather too niche. It’s idea isn’t big enough to enchant majority of Saturday night televiewers.

            I can see him competing for the trophy if he really blows the brains out with his performance. But this has to be some really fucking astonishing performance which I rather can’t see happening.
            But it might do pretty well. We’ll see, it depends on. several factors.

            It lacks something crucial emotionally to score with majority of mainstream audience. It’s too cool and exquisite for masses.

            It’s like Quentin Tarantino or Paul Thomas Anderson against George Lucas or Steven Spielberg in terms of mass audience appeal.

            We don’t have a Spielberg this year, but “The Intouchables” is pretty strong teaser to break.

          • As cool as the combination of downbeat throaty electronica combined with an awesome rock vocal is, it isn’t simple and unchallenging enough in style for the masses’ pallette, while at the same time, it isn’t lyrically imaginative or substantial enough to break through into a musical greatness.

            It’s a bit like Twister. What it’s gained in accessibility its lost in quality. I don’t think it will impress juries quite as much as Love Injected did, relatively.

            You know the answer EV, you’ve written extensively about “nice”. It will still do about as well as Love Injected last year if not slightly better, but I don’t think it’s a winner.

          • (The Twister metaphor meant to say you can’t have your left leg on yellow and blue at the same time, it’s moved from one to the other. That’s my argument against those who say Heartbeat is Love Injected + extra accessibility. What it’s gained in accessibility, it’s lost in quality and originality. I ran out of time to edit the post. xD)

  • Donald

    Hi everybody, some serious catching up to do, haven’t heard a single song yet except UK. Look forward to a listen. Wonder is there a “Polina” in there this year that will bounce out on first listen to all songs. Will report back by Monday.

  • Black n Blue

    What’s really surprised me during the build up so far is the sheer lack of coverage Australia have gotten. You wouldn’t think they were even participating this year!

    I just find it odd how seismic of a promo shift SBS have made. Last year they had Guy jet halfway across the world to do some of the preview events including a couple of TV appearances, hence promoting the song excellently in the process. It felt like there was a real vigour to grab the contest by the balls, and try to prove to Europe that they could beat them at their own game, with a great live performer, the U2 set designer and such a great song ensemble. I don’t see anywhere near that level of commitment being put in, and I think Dami stating she’d only gotten the gig a few days before the announcement, is telling that the Oz participation for SBS has turned into somewhat of a reactionary “heck, lets do it again” decision, rather than as a piece of preparatory planning.

    I’m terribly curious to find out what’ll become of them without the “once-off participation for the big anniversary” narrative? And also whether the “oh look it’s Australia!” gimmick can still hold up with tele voters for a song that fades far too easily into the pool of ballads showing up at the contest.

    Financially Australia shouldn’t screw me over, but on a side note I do worry that they might end up embarrassing themselves. For a ballad, you expect their to be some sort of emotional pull, something that serves up a tingly sensation. Ukraine, the Czech Republic, (Or Czechia if you’re reading this post several months from now) Serbia and Italy all offer you what ballad deliver on to a varied degree. Sound of Silence doesn’t carry that weight to it. It’s hollow, soulless and awfully bland in the way that it’s constructed and sounds in the studio. The only USP I can conjure up is the whole ‘Asian Persuasion’ thing they have going they have going with a performer who will inevitably stand out from the pack for ethnic reasons. But even that mightn’t be enough, to do anything on the Saturday.

    • Black n Blue

      Correction: “What a ballad can deliver on to a varied degree”. And scrap the second “They have going”. Can’t concentrate fully without my coffee 😉

    • Henry VIII

      The shouty soulless ballad is 3rd favourite. Do we think this is because of the predominately gay fans love of female power ballads?

      I don’t think the song itself, with its boring and jarring refrain, warrants that position. The Australian’s are making less effort than last year. They wanted Delta Goodrem but she rejected the gig probably because she rejected the song.

      • Black n Blue

        I’m thinking the Dami Army might have something to do with the price being as low as it is. (Google them, they seem to have little else to do other than unconditionally adore this woman.)

        • Henry VIII

          That’s an interesting point. Also Australians generally are huge gamblers.

          I recognise Dami’s vocal strength and the song has nice verses but I don’t think it stands out as much as Guy’s last year and, as you say, they are no longer novel.

      • eurovicious

        Undo and Gravity were shite (fight me) and came third thanks to beauty, classiness and impeccable vocals, so 3rd fave for Australia isn’t mega-unrealistic at first glance. Yet indeed, in the absence of last year’s narrative, Australia’s presence has gone from a fun novelty to a potential irrelevance, and they could easily go under. So I agree its odds are too low. I’ll be very surprised indeed if it does better than Tonight Again.

      • @Henry VIII “They wanted Delta Goodrem but she rejected the gig probably because she rejected the song.”

        Are you sure? This just came out. It’s 3 minutes long. I think SBS must have approached Sony Music Australia, got a song from Delta, and quite rightly gone back to the label and said “yeah, er… got anything else?”

        • Aw, the Youtube copyright nazis took it down. Well, search around for Delta’s new song “Dear Life”. It’ll be out there somewhere.

        • Henry VIII

          Not sure.

          But that song “Dear Life” was written by DNA Songs. They also wrote Delta’s last single “Wings” and they also wrote “Sound of Silence” and I think they wrote “Sound of Silence” for Delta originally.

    • Hippo

      You’re spot on with this one. As far as effort goes it seems they don’t care too much this year. Maybe they don’t think it’s a winner either?
      It is a little strange that the odds have remained so static barring that 12 hours or so when the snippet came out and it sounded great until the refrain reared it’s head.
      The usp thing is a huge issue and I struggle to see why people would vote for this over any of the other female ballads, and that’s before considering diaspora. It’s not as emotional as Ukraine, as interesting/unique as Armenia, as subtle as Italy or as timeless and classy as Serbia. The Czech Republic is doing this much better with an even stronger and more telegenic singer too. Plus the Czech’s might have a ‘aww they’ve never made the final ‘ advantage that could swing the balance.
      When push comes to shove, Is it really much more than a better produced and better sung ‘last of our kind’?

      When it first was released I did think top 5 could be on the cards but since then all of the previously mentioned countries have impressed me much more. At this stage I think it’s coming around 11-15th at best and that will be down to the juries. It’s not winning the semi, probably not top 3 in it in my book either.

      • Tim B

        When it was premiered on Australian TV it was introduced as “The song that’s going to WIN us Eurovision”, so yes, it seems like they think they can win with it.

        • PurpleKylie

          That’s just typical arrogant Australians for you, always want to appear to be the best even if deep down they know they aren’t

    • @ Black n Blue’s long post above:
      To get a clear idea of Australia’s promo and amount of effort in 2015 vs 2016 you have to forget about both Dami Im herself and SBS. This is all Sony Music Australia’s venture. Guy Sebastian was doing consistently well for them for years, and as such, he receives the financial backing to go swanning around Europe months before Eurovision. I think SBS absolutely are still trying their best to win, if indeed the first offering was the new Delta Goodrem track “Dear Life”.

      Dami meanwhile has struggled a little bit since winning X Factor, and I suspect it’s precisely because her songs have been so bland. She had a Carpenters cover album (and presumably Sound of Silence) in the pipeline before she was told about the Eurovision gig. Sony can fit Eurovision into Dami’s schedule, but the Carpenters album and tour was a prior commitment. I don’t think Guy had any such other commitments at the time.

      Dami is a brilliant singer and a very sweet girl but I do get the impression that she’s a bit of a slave to the label’s bidding, and because Dami’s music has been so overly safe and sales have been a bit mediocre as a result, I fear that her days as a major label artist domestically in Australia may now be numbered. I don’t mean this in a nasty way, I’m not saying Dami is washed up or anything, it’s just that Sony seems to have been unwilling to be a bit bolder with her as a brand. They’ve dug their own grave, but poor Dami’s the one who’ll be trying not to lay in it. That’s the music industry for you.

      But despite Sony putting less money into her domestically nowadays, they seem to have a fondness for trying to export her. She has already represented Australia in the ABU TV Song Festival and has recently performed to a tens of millions strong TV audience in China. I think Sony are giving her those gigs out of good will, but also out of a typically conservative commercial approach. It seems that for Sony, Dami’s ethnicity precedes her artistry, sadly. Nevertheless, on this trajectory, Eurovision makes perfect sense for Dami Im, and if she is successful in Stockholm, that may be a reprieve for her major label career. I genuinely wish her the very best in that respect because I think she thoroughly deserves the admiration her Army give her…

      Now, on the subject of Dami doing well in Stockholm, I think that should all the cheesier, more uplifting, winner-feeling-y songs fail to deliver, this might be first in line for the trophy as the most commercially relevant offering with her powerhouse vocal providing a rousing climax. A compromise of sorts. I think Sound of Silence will be much better live than in studio form. My biggest concern is that I get no feeling or sense of emotion from the song. It’s cold, hollow and almost painfully bland. But then again, I got nothing from Heroes either. Most of us here probably have an acquired taste in music, which naturally means we will be underwhelmed by safe commercial fodder, but the masses may warm to Sound of Silence more.

      But then I re-iterate, Dami’s music has been exceptionally safe and, well, not brilliant, since she won X Factor. Is Sound of Silence that much better? Maybe just a tiny bit. Is it good enough to win Eurovision against other commercial offerings from Sweden with their early slot and jury vote ceiling, Malta with their debatable existence of a memorable hook, Russia with their air of desperation or France with… well, whatever people see in that? Possibly, but I’m not sure at all.

      So, I’m left with this question for Sofabetters. Is it inconceivable that Australia’s song will be sufficiently emotional and impactful once we see (and crucially, hear) it in Stockholm?

      Furthermore, I agree that Australia’s wildcard country novelty has partially disappeared, but I still believe it was in the script for Guy Sebastian to win last year. Why else are the EBU letting them have another go? They’ve kinda blagged the justification there by calling the 2015 participation a PR success. They need them to win to justify keeping them around. Remember, there’s the partnership with SBS to finally create the real Asia-Pacific Eurovision and launch it in 2017 as well.

      I don’t know if SBS hosting the first Asia-Pacific contest as well as Eurovision 2017 is financially feasible… but it makes more sense to me to presume they’ve got that worked out already rather than say it’s one contest or the other for Australia.

      Think about it, if Guy had won and SBS were hosting this year, then launching the Asia-Pacific contest in 2017 would have been the next step, wouldn’t it? So, if Dami wins, might they push the new contest back to 2018? Or perhaps SBS co-hosting ESC with a European broadcaster while hosting the new contest in the same year is something the EBU already managed to work out financially and logistically. That makes more sense than announcing the Asia-Pacific contest now and interpreting that as SBS winning Eurovision not being a priority any more. Why would they even be participating this year if that were the case?

      Long post, I know, but the whole story, from Sony’s mismanagement of Dami’s career, through SBS being the hardworking earnest middle man, to the EBU’s global ambitions for the Eurovision format are all pieces of this jigsaw, and I think I’ve framed it so that all the pieces fit together, to create the big picture of the EBU’s grand master scheme.

      All that’s left is for them to pull it off.

  • Alpie

    Keep calm, Sanja is going to deliver to win the title. You guys are into every aspect too much. This is a simple competition based on performing skills and song quality plus diaspora voting.

  • Milton

    Amir on the verge of overtaking Sergey in Russia’s itune charts. Considering he is supposed to be a huge star in Russia that’s astonishing.

  • Milton

    I’m sure the numbers required to get Amir to 155 are low but I was still surprised to see him there. Regardless of the numbers involved there are 151 songs that are more currently more popular than Sergey’s amongst itune users in Russia at the moment and he’s not troubling any of the other ex Soviet charts except Kazakhstan.

  • Chris Bellis

    PurpleKylie
    True – Spotify is a Nordic, UK, France, Spain, Australia, US, Canada phenomenon mainly. But its use is increasing at a huge rate and penetration into other Eurovision countries is proceeding at a pace, so I wouldn’t dismiss the importance of Frans doing well on it, at least as far as betting goes.

  • eurovicious

    Edit: I just saw this https://40.media.tumblr.com/6d75d48f4af0c0299e2a3a324c76203b/tumblr_ny72zywH6h1urvepco2_1280.jpg and hereby renounce all previous criticism of France cos he’s the bestest.

  • Chris Bellis

    No doubt people will have seen this so apologies if posted before and I haven’t noticed. Seems about right apart from Sweden and Estonia. Australia the dark horse or dead in the ice of the singer’s personality, depending on your point of view.

    • Boki

      When you say ‘seems about right’ you are joking, right?

    • Henry VIII

      He combines:
      1. Betting odds
      2. Youtube tops
      3. Youtube views
      4. Website polls

      But 1. is partly based on all the others so it’s circular. (In fact 1. is more accurate than any poll in the long run.) So they may all be useful individually but can’t be combined in this way.

      • Chris Bellis

        Henry
        As usual you put it better than I could. I’ve noticed though that betting odds have been closer to final results, however much we may not like it.

    • This video is fun. But it has been overanalized to death that it becomes laughable really. No stuff betters would look at :-). Well, not me anyway.

  • this does not seem “about right”….at all!! Hungary 8th? Spain 6th? Croatia 4th? Oddly, I think Sweden 10th may be the only one that may be on the button.

    • Chris Bellis

      Irony is very hard to do on these boards, as you have noticed. However the superficially scientific methodology of this assessment is what is wrong, in that it relies on reports from unreliable fansites, betting odds, and youtube views. BTW Sweden will be 4, not 10. However far out you think it is, and I would agree it’s not what will happen, I’ll be interested to see how close it is in comparison with the stated views of the many contributors to this site however. It’s got “Loin D’ici” about right for example. Early days still. We’ll see.

  • Black n Blue

    Topless pics and whatever else to one side, I’ve been pondering over this year’s NF season, what songs exceeded expectations, what ones didn’t meet expectations and
    overall what it means going forward into the contest itself.

    Annalisa, Molly Sanden, Margaret, Kallay Saunders, Saara Aalto, Anja Nissen, Darline, Alda Dís, and Tom from Belgium were all names I expected to hear more and more of in the build up period around about now. But what happened? They all were favourites to win their respective selection shows, and yet it just didn’t materialise. I mean even Justs, with a song that’s been talked up a lot on numerous sites wasn’t the one the home crowd wanted to send to Stockholm. With all this in mind, I can’t help but wonder whether or not the public’s perception of “a good song” has drifted further away from that of the typical ESC novice/punter more than ever before?

    It’s almost as if the advent of Youtube has cast a blanket of fog over how we perceive a song. Harking back to the build-up for the 2002 contest, if the opportunity had been there to watch studio versions online (In the same way preview music videos are viewed nowadays) I’m certain nobody would’ve championed Marie N, and she’d probably have gotten the same amount of abuse thrown at her on comment threads as say Electro Velvet undeservedly received last year. I think the same could probably be applied to Finland 2006, and another few oddball winners from the 80’s and 90’s. In exactly the reverse situation with Conchita Wurst, what really tripped up punters and many fans alike was that the song was presented in its finest form on the Copenhagen stage several months after she had been announced as the Austrian representative. And why did that trip people up? It simply gave us too much time to form a negative/biased impression of her chances based off of a striking look, that supposedly wouldn’t appeal to the east and a back catalogue of camp songs that weren’t indicative of the sort of stuff that does well at the contest. For the average Joe watching the grand final however it was “Bloke in a dress, big song, big production and winner”. And I’m sure within this context of a first time viewing we would have felt exactly the same way, and the betting odds would have looked much less distorted as a result.

    To get back to my first point, Europe chose entrants this year in a way that went against many expert and fan predictions with more upsets than per usual. Can the same thing occur with the actual contest considering it’s the same sort of audience with differing views to our own voting? It’s not entirely improbable from that angle, and if you look at the table of odds for the outright market, there’s a lot to be questioned in those ranks. The predominant example being that the current top three of Russia, France and Australia haven’t been subjected to a competitive environment and hence have little ground for assured audience support en masse. How do these three efforts differ in expectation to the Annalisa’s, Kallay Saunders’ and Margaret’s? They don’t, and that’s why I can’t take an awful lot for granted until the shows are aired.

    I’m not trying to take away from the three market leaders; they all have their unique reasons for the price they’ve currently got, but it’s the uncertainty as described above that makes things difficult as a punter. I may be swiping at thin air just by putting this argument forward, but I do think this perception drift between public and the fan/punter is widening, and like most things I invest in, it’s likely that my pocket will end up taking the biggest hit if I’m right.

    • PurpleKylie

      What happened in the final of Latvia’s NF was the result of troll voting. Old habits die hard etc…

      • squall

        Is there any more info on the Latvian troll voting, like how it was organized etc? Heard about the theory, but didn’t find any details.

        Thanks!

    • Chris Bellis

      Annalisa – I love her. Ditto Margaret. Both were off key. Say no more. Remember Emma – I love her too, and she sang off key in 2014. Perhaps the voters and juries have cottoned on to the fact that off key performances are a no-no in Eurovision.

      • Chris Bellis

        Black n Blue I should have complimented you on a good analysis. Australia btw is the one we have seen least of. On the basis of the Australian hype I checked out some of her live videos from her X Factor days. Some off key performances, except when she’s belting it out, “big singing”, which professional musicians hate and clueless audiences love.

        • Black n Blue

          Thanks Chris. It only occurred to me now that none of the top three have had their songs put to a tele vote or a jury vote. It would be naive to totally rule them out, but it’s just something to keep in mind until rehearsals.

          • eurovicious

            I think this is a really salient point that none of the current top 3 favourites have faced any public test. Though I don’t think 2016 was especially unusual in “the wrong song” winning many NFs – to me it’s always seemed like a feature not a bug. It’s sad when you think we could have had Heart-Shaped Hole, Afterglow, Seis, Mikael Saari etc etc but it happens like this most years.

          • Hippo

            More than that when you think about it. None of the countries under 50/1 on betfair have really passed a competetive test with flying colours.
            Sweden and Ukraine didn’t win the jury, Justs didn’t win on domestic voting, Francesca didn’t win san remo and all the rest were internal (if we include Malta’s song change).

            I don’t know if it means much and I don’t think there’s a winner or top five anywhere higher in the odds, but it guarantees a shuffling of the pack come rehearsals.

    • Ande

      Hippo. Sweden passes the competitiveness test rather easily.

      + ‘If I Were Sorry’ is charting stronger than any Eurovision song in the last 5 years with the sole exception of Euphoria.
      + Frans jury score was stronger than either Sannas or Robins while being up against more jury friendly acts than them (watch and judge for yourselves).
      + Frans recieved a stronger televote than Loreen and Måns.

      All the hard facts points to Sweden. But then Sweden has a number of obvious drawbacks that are quite difficult to quantify…

      – Untested performance concept. Only one recent low key act has been competetive in the televote departement, only three has been competetive with juries (Belgium 2010, Netherlands 2014, Italy 2011).
      – Early draw with a low key and televote reliant song.
      – Very vocal haters may take advantage of the Eurovision jury full ranking system. Sweden will be in trouble if a significant portion of jury members consciously marks the song down.

      • Henry VIII

        I’m not sure how you get your “hard facts”. Frans average jury score was worse than the last 4 MF winners. His public vote was comparatively much worse than that even but there was the app.

        • Tim B

          Another hard fact is that Frans was almost beaten in the jury vote by Ace Wilder. I don’t know about you, but I find that very concerning.

      • Ande

        Ace Wilder beat Sanna in the 2014 jury vote but that didn’t prevent Sanna from finnishing top 3 with Eurovision juries. 3rd with juries are fine when the acts strong points are with the televoters.

        88 points while competing against 11 other acts is on par with 91 points competing against 9 other acts. A less polarized result like Sannas or Robins should also be less indicative of ESC success since middling scores are more likely to be diluted when competing against a higher number of acts.

        • Tim B

          3rd with the Eurovision juries, yes…which wasn’t good enough for her to win. No matter which way someone tries to spin it, Frans’ jury score was not good. The competition in the Eurovision Grand final is going to be somewhat stronger than Ace Wilder, Oscar Zia and Wiktoria. And it’s not impossible, but Frans will have a job on his hands winning the televote from slot 9 as the host nation.

          • Ande

            Third with juries is good enough for someone who is relying on televotes to win. He’s not a Lorren or Mans because they were much stronger with juries but relative to Sanna he is much stronger with televoters.

      • One thing I’d like to say about Frans “charting” so well before the contest is that the vast majority of his success is down to Spotify. Now, it’s already been pointed out that Spotify is only a relevant force in a handful of Eurovision countries, but even beyond that – the vast majority of its users are people who have grown up with smart tech and post-dial-up Internet.

        I think calling Frans a pre-contest chart phenomenon is a massive overstatement. In Sweden he is, absolutely, but where is he to be found in other countries’ actual official singles charts? I’d agree with the statement that he’s gaining traction, (C-list on MTV, whoopee,) but that’s no guarantee that he’s going to become an immediate sensation in May quickly enough for him to win off the back of one performance. He had 2 weeks of momentum and constant media attention in Sweden to achieve the success he did there. In May he’ll have about 2 hours.

        I understand we’ll see half of the song performed in the semi final, and if esctracker shows him doing very well there among the actual semi final contestants, as if he weren’t automatically qualified, then that’s something to take seriously.

        Realistically I think he’ll do very well in Scandinavia, the Baltics, the British Isles, maybe moderately well in Benelux and Germany but that’s about it. He could win or be top 3 in the televote from these countries, maybe come about 4th-12th in these countries jury votes, but everywhere else I can’t imagine more than a few 2s, 3s and 4 points if anything at all.

        Frans is an act which has a niche appeal to millenials in northwestern Europe. Spotify disproportionately overblows this appeal, because that particular demographic consumes in much higher numbers than older generations using iTunes or Amazon or even just buying CDs and listening to the radio. Just because that demographic has the biggest influence on the charts, doesn’t mean it’s representative of the majority of the population. It’s skewed.

        • Ande

          That we know that he is succesful in Spotify charts is because that is easy to measure. But it’s likely that he is also penetrating other media without us being able to mesure it. I know that he is being played regularly in the Nordic and Balkan radios station as well as regurarly/sporadically in the British, Irish and a handful of other countries.

          • PurpleKylie

            Are you sure? Because I’ve not once heard Frans’ song on UK soil outside of the London Party, if I heard it while my mum had the radio on in the car or if it was played in Superdrug then I’d be concerned. For all I know “sporadically played on UK radio” could mean some random community stations no one has ever heard of.

          • Also, my friend told me it has been playing in Oz malls.

          • Ande

            An English friend of mine told me “If I were sorry” was being played on British radio but it is likely misinformation. Frans record company is relatively small even by Swedish standards and they’ve only recently gotten distribution to British Radio stations in place.

        • Ben Cook

          “Frans is an act which has a niche appeal to millenials in northwestern Europe.”

          What are you basing this assertion on exactly?

          • Mr Wolf

            “If I Were Sorry” is played in Estonian radio stations in a big way now. In all three main stations and the chart position is raising.
            That explains also its success in Estonian ITunes chart.

            (btw)

          • Mr Wolf

            “J’ai Cherché” is being played in Estonian Russian radio stations now more and more.
            So, Estonian local stations are playing “If I Were Sorry” and stations targeted to Russians are playing “J’ai Cherché”.
            Seems that Russians have embraced it pretty well.
            In terms of geographical appeal and reach I see Amir having similarities with Il Volo and Frans with Lena.

      • Hippo

        I’m going to contest the fact that Frans is doing well in the Nordics. Apart from Sweden who can’t vote for him, he’s only really doing well in Estonia. He’s nowhere to be seen on iTunes or Spotify in Norway or Denmark and 51st on Spotify in Finland.

        In actual sales, he’s charting in just two other countries (Estonia, Lithuania)
        Surely he’ll have received exposure that should mean he is doing better than that in the region?
        Why have the Danes not bought into this, out of all the countries this should be right up their street?

        Undeniably he is doing better than any other country’s entrant but he’s hardly setting the world alight and the impact of his current chart statistics will be minimal on the outcome on May 14th.

        • Ande

          A general chart success is a sign that a significant amount of listeners will be receptive to the song, more so than that chart success in a particular country will automatically guarantee televote points. After that it’s up to the team in question to provide an adequate performance and staging.

  • I’d recommend, in future, an **(IR) for safety’s sake….

    • Chris Bellis

      The jury’s out on those. My computer has a special symbol on a hotkey to indicate sarcasm/irony but I figure when I make an ironical comment, there’s usually a bit of truth in it too. But thanks… I’ll live with the consequences and then when the ironical statement turns out to be correct I’ll be able to say I was right all along. Win-win.

  • PurpleKylie

    Gabriela sings a bit of the song acapella on Maltese TV (it’s at the end of this video):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKCN–rOLqA

    Also it’s taught me that I’ve been pronouncing her surname wrong.

  • Henry VIII

    Hovi Star tells Maltese audience how Russian border control harassed him.
    https://www.facebook.com/xarabank/videos/962919480421974/

  • KeyserSoze

    Serbian panel jury whatever you wanna call it results for semi 1 http://imgur.com/ckOU4B3

  • Ben Cook

    What do people think of this live performance from Sergey?

    Suggests that he might be planning on singing the song in a lower key to the studio version in Stockholm to make it easier to sing. This is one of my pet hates in ESC. Sometimes you get away with it (Måns Zelmerlöw) and sometimes you completely ruin the impact of the song (Amaury Vassili).

    It’s by no means bad but it doesn’t sound quite right to me. I hope he’s not going to chicken out.

  • Ben Cook

    Live performances from Amir and Joe & Jake on Dutch TV:
    http://wiwibloggs.com/2016/04/23/joe-jake-amir-live-carlos-tv-cafe/138223/

    Amir sounds pretty ropey! Joe & Jake actually sound the best they ever have done here.

  • PurpleKylie

    I just noticed the German preview show just recently covered the first half of Semi 2. Latvia was joint first with that fembot: http://www.eurovision.de/news/Justs-und-Dami-Im-machen-das-Rennen-im-dritten-Songcheck,songcheck420.html

    Excuse my bias, but GET IN!!!

  • PurpleKylie

    The results of the second episode of Norway’s preview show:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cgv8IAuWIAAOHXc.jpg

  • The two weeks before the rehearsals traditionally are the most overanalized ones leading to the grand final. One stupid tv performance makes the odds change, and suddenly ‘traders’ go backing and laying it. And even one faith can move the odds. But I really wonder what the real profit in it is. The real profit comes from very good odds. If a country wins that you backed 1,5 months ago with odds of 20, then you have a good profit. So I just wait a bit until the first rehearsals.

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