Eurovision 2016: Get your hits out for the lads

Everyone’s favourite annual cultural nadir is right around the corner – and this year’s uninspiring songs are putting the homo in homogenous, even by the standards of the 2010s contest (or my old benchmark for blandness, 1994). The samier the lineup, the more important the staging and performance; this being the case, it wouldn’t be incisive for me to pen an in-depth analysis of every entry (like I did last year) so close to the event, especially now we know the semifinal running orders.

Trying to pick at least 2 qualifiers out of What’s The Pressure, Fairytale, Icebreaker and Soldiers Of Love is like trying to pick my favourite genocide: my brain rolls over and refuses to compute the moment I try. Moreover, over the course of the selection season, most of us in the comments section seems to have come to a pretty good consensus on the state of affairs this year, and this is partly why I’ve held off putting finger to keyboard: because I basically agree with everything Daniel has written on Eurovision 2016 as well as the bulk of reader comments. Plus I wasn’t drunk enough (this article is brought to you by Perła).

In a field of offensively inoffensive mid-tempo radiogedudel, only a few songs stand out – and not all for the right reasons. I’m going to look at the four leading male contenders today. Russia remains market favourite, which is understandable given their voting strength and large diaspora (which counts again this year) and the fact they’ve sent one of their biggest and most reliable stars with one of the contest’s only dance songs. The extremely slick yet artful and intricate video, employing complex projection technology, seemed to indicate the country’s staging plans (would they really go to all that trouble then not bring it to Stockholm?), but a denial that this would be the case swiftly followed, with Sergey saying the staging at Eurovision would be “totally different”. This surprised me, as I thought the video’s projection-based choreography really looked like the finished package – a lot of thought and planning had gone into it. But indeed, as Sergey and crew have promo-toured Europe, an entirely different and much weaker routine has been on display. While the lyrics to You Are The Only One invoke “thunder and lightning”, the new choreography is very very frightening – it’s like a Britney Spears effort from 15 years ago.

Could this be a classic Russian double-bluff – will we see them turn up with the projection tech at the start of rehearsals week after all? It’s not impossible. Regardless of whether they do or don’t, can I see Russia repeating last year’s second-place finish? Absolutely. Can I see You Are The Only One winning? I really don’t think so – because it sounds like a sonic leftover from 2000s Eurovision, not even as contemporary as Eric Saade’s Popular. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve seen describe it as schlager, including non-Eurovision fans familiar with the term. It’s one of my favourite entries this year, but it’s about as musically relevant as an Eiffel 65 minidisc.

The overall package is reminiscent of Sakis Rouvas’s 2009 failed attempt at victory, albeit musically stronger and with a more powerful voting base and better performer. With the contest becoming more visual and digital every year, Team Lazarev also have technological possibilities at their disposal that weren’t available back when Sakis mounted his giant stapler. I don’t think You Are The Only One would have won in 2009 and I don’t think it will win in 2016, but if – and only if – they bring that projection and routine to Stockholm (which, yes, they’ve denied, but I’m still saying this just in case), Russia’s entry is more dangerous and professional than almost anything else in the contest. And unlike most countries this year, they actually want to win.

What the number lacks though is that organic, relatable, intimate feel I think you need to triumph these days, that even Mans had (especially in the extreme close-ups towards the end, as he flirts with the viewer before launching into the final chorus repeat). Right down to its key change, You Are The Only One is every inch the super-slick europop banger, created by gay men for gay men, of a kind that’s gone out of fashion (and outside the contest was never in fashion). It’s too calculated and guns-blazing, not emotive, anodyne or radio-pop enough to win. There’s no message, inspirational theme, vulnerability, or sense of overcoming darkness – things which I’d argue Polina’s entry had considerably more of. Most of all, to win, Sergey needs to be relatable as a personality – and as fabulous as his Eurovision package is, I don’t think it’s safe, twee or Instagram enough for Western and younger audiences.

Which brings me to Frans, who is. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather listen to You Are The Only One ten times than If I Were Sorry twice, but I’m not the target audience – and Sweden’s entry succeeds in creating intimacy and conveying a personality and sense of vulnerability where Russia’s hasn’t even thought to try. Since its Melodifestivalen crowning, while not truly a hit yet, Frans’s song has successfully entered the mainstream pop infrastructure across Europe in a way we only rarely see entries do pre-contest. The vocal is so undersung that it’s almost veering into The Streets territory (or perhaps a pubescent William Shatner), which raises real questions about how juries will respond. As has been discussed in the comments, Lena triumphed in a weak year with a contemporary entry despite not having the strongest voice, though the jangly, upbeat Satellite allowed her to actively exude a lot of charisma, plus she had a much later draw than Frans’s 9th. These concerns noted, young Frans and his tender, appealing entry have an understated radiance all of their own and absolutely stand out from the field. This is pop with anti-pop stylings – credible and pseudo-raw, yet still enough of a “product” for a mass audience to go for it. If Harry Styles released it as a solo single it’d probably go to #1, but while televoters may lap the Swedish entry up, at this stage I don’t think juries will support it enough for it to win the contest. If I Were Sorry is Instagram filter as song: a deliberately low-key, pseudo-amateurish vehicle for conveying Frans’s nascent personality and non-threatening boy status, but despite everything in its favour, I struggle to see it in the jury top 3 when the vocal is as barely-there as Serhat’s.

Someone just a few years older than Frans and equally Instagram-friendly but with a far more impressive vocal is Latvia’s Justs. I’ve made no secret of the fact I think Heartbeat, especially as performed, is on a plane of its own compared to everything else this year, something I’ve thought since I first saw it in the Latvian selection. I find the song far more accessible and less staging-dependent than 2015’s Rhythm Inside and Love Injected, high-scoring entries which were original, credible and strongly performed but more leftfield and downtempo. Heartbeat has the emotional landscape and presentation of a ballad, yet infused with rhythm, energy and vigour – this is how to do uptempo without going kitsch, and I’d hope Justs’s staging is simple yet smart, as Aminata’s was last year. Like Love Injected but more so, Heartbeat is a number that through its disarming sparseness, powerful vocal and one-to-one feel creates true intimacy; I don’t know how Savadogo does it, but her songs always feel emotionally sincere and deeply felt, and Justs’s rendition of Heartbeat doesn’t come over at all as a singer performing a product penned for them by someone else. This is of course exactly what he is, but whereas much of this year’s field comprises interchangeable performers earnestly warbling an underwhelming 3-minute stab at glory mass-produced months earlier in an anonymous song factory, Justs feels like a person telling you something, something personal. This is why both he and Frans (and possibly Hovi, an excellent vocalist whose song remains strong and emotive despite the change in arrangement) stand out from the field. Even with his red leather jacket and gravelly power-vocal, 20-year-old Justs still passes as a non-threatening boy for my money: slightly craggy in a very Instagram way, while sufficiently heterosexual to get female pulses racing (unlike, say, Loic Nottet).

I totally allow for Heartbeat being one of those “you either get it or you don’t” songs – like Love Injected, I Feed You My Love, Calm After The Storm, Running or Taken By A Stranger. Yet juries and televoters responded strongly to Love Injected, and given the song’s standout quality and the remarkable vocal, I find it hard not to imagine juries reacting to Heartbeat the way they rewarded its predecessor, but more so. I also think it’s more televote-friendly than Love Injected, with a stronger musical narrative from start to finish. This is a uniquely emotive, powerful and contemporary entry with a strikingly distinct identity and flavour, performed by an attractive, stylishly dressed and very daughter-and-mum-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. Unlike Russia and Sweden, I think the package is blokey enough to appeal to straight men too. Perhaps it’s too good for Eurovision, but I’d really hope it can cut through the crap. As Ben says, “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’ palette.” Mr Wolf agrees, suggesting Heartbeat is “too cool and exquisite for [the] masses. It’s like Quentin Tarantino or Paul Thomas Anderson against George Lucas or Steven Spielberg in terms of mass audience appeal.” I’d love to be right on this but I’ll be sadly unsurprised if I’m wrong and, despite all its strengths, it fails to lift the trophy.

Over the past few weeks, many including myself have been left a little bemused by France’s contraction in the odds, to the point J’ai cherché is now almost joint-favourite with Russia. The song is pleasant enough, but Amir’s vocal remains unreliable – some performances he’s great, some he’s remarkably bad. The last time I can remember an entry remaining overlooked throughout selection season only to shorten all the way to second over the course of April was Ukraine’s Gravity in 2013, and some betting experts at the time suggested that was due to manipulation (which is unlikely to be the case with Amir). Of course, Zlata also had beauty and outstanding vocals in her favour (and possibly paid SIM cards, as certain televoting stats from 2013 would seem to indicate). I find it hard to find anything to say about France’s perfectly adequate yet entirely unremarkable entry – to me it just doesn’t stand out, not even in the way Mans did last year as a more solid performer with a more contemporary entry and a novel, ultra-memorable staging gimmick, all of which still only saw him come third in the televote. I don’t think Amir and his song are jury-friendly, certainly less so than Sweden despite its vocal minimalism, and France rarely has impressive staging; it’s one of the countries that puts the least effort into its annual Eurovision entry, and the contest has a very low domestic profile. To me, J’ai cherché is a less well-written/structured, less well-sung and less accessible version of Robin Stjernberg’s You. Whether the language handicaps it is an open question: Il Volo smashed the televote last year singing in Italian, but everything about their entry was typically Italian and very recognizable – it was a great piece of nation branding and people responded to it as such, plus the group had youth on their side. 31-year-old Amir is actually two years younger than Sergey Lazarev but doesn’t look it. But perhaps J’ai cherché’s affable blandness works in its favour for the same reason more people watch The One Show than Channel 4 News and I’m just blind to its charms.

I can’t find much bad to say about the song or much good either, but I will say it has even less to it than the most underwhelming post-millennial winners like Estonia 2001 and Latvia 2002. Is the predominantly gay male fan bubble overvaluing its chances because of his looks and charisma? Ditto Russia? Are Sweden and Latvia lower than those two in the odds because their performers are more the kind that appeal to straight women? Did I really write this article drunk? Is the Queen a lizard? Have your say in the comments below. (I’d especially love to hear from you if France is your favourite this year.)

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288 comments to Eurovision 2016: Get your hits out for the lads

  • Ben Cook

    Heartbeat – although I’ve always been lukewarm on the song, I can totally understand the appeal of it.

    I do think he has a good voice and sounds fine for the first couple of minutes – but can he really win the contest when he overdoes it so badly on the final chorus? It’s a bloody row. Not “accessible” at all. I think a lot of viewers will be asking “why is this man shouting so much?” as they turn down the volume.

    • PurpleKylie

      What you call “overdoing it”, most us will call “showing off the power of his voice”

      • Chris Bellis

        As I’ve said before, my music teacher used to say, “Avoid ‘big’ singing”. Musicians hate it, but audiences love it. Look at the cheers “big” singers get on reality shows.

    • johnkef

      I agree with the most part of Eurovicious’s analysis of the 4 male artist’s.

      I can’t see Russia winning, but can’t see them falling lower than 3rd.

      I believe Sweden is closer to the bottom of Top10 than closer to the win (you can continue reporting spotify, itunes or everykind of charts available, but this is NOISE at its purest form – just do a friend,colleagues test with people that watch the contest and you will find out that Sweden goes under the bar)

      France is one of the main contenders and there was great value when it was still @12.00-20.00 defintely not now. He’s vulnerable, inexperienced and can’t nail the last minute of the song BUT he has the charisma and a feel good song to win the crowd and audience and make it happen. BUT (2) France has to stage the song perfectly and that’s a questionmark.

      I agree that Latvia offers a very charming package and there’s great value at its current price. but Justs is oversinging the last minute of the song and he’s very close to shouting and that’s not good for his hopes and chances of winning.

      I can picture me in my Eurovision party, watching the show with my friends and i can see my friends start doing comments comments like ”Stop shouting” ”Man calm down it’s gonna be ok” . Even now that i have shown them his Supernova appearance their comments were, that he will be shouting instead of singing.

      My gutt this year says that it’s gonna be between France, Australia and Russia, even though most of you have already written off Dami Im, she’s is the one that has the vocal ability to improve the live version of her song and deliver it the night of the final!

      • PurpleKylie

        Australia is being vastly overrated in terms of it’s chances imo, it’s close to being on fanwank territory for me

        • johnkef

          Fanwank? It’s not doing great at the polls and everybody in here and other sites thinks that the song is vastly overrated and won’t have an appeal at the televoters.

          • PurpleKylie

            Like France and Russia, they are the third country hoovering up all the OGAE Poll points (everyone else is currently left fighting for scraps) and Wiwibloggs are being hilarious as always saying that they’re “so obviously going to win Semi 2 omg slay my Aussie queen”

          • johnkef

            OGAE and Wiwibloggs are noise, i never visit their sites

          • Well, Kylie’s comment assumes the OGAEs are grossly incorrect. The way I see it, Russia and France are fanwanky songs while Australia is just very commercial but sterile. Somewhere down the OGAE scoreboard, fan taste WILL bridge with mass public/jury taste, and if you find yourself having to go a very long way down that scoreboard before you think you’ve found it, it might be worth rethinking your stance.

            Fanwanks in my opinion aren’t quantified exclusively as songs that do well in polls and then flop at the contest, fanwanks are songs that you know from hearing them are the kinds of songs fans might go nuts for. Polls may rarely get the winner right, but 2011 notwithstanding, songs that finish in their top 3 often do quite well in ESC too.

            But with all that said, you know something is really off about this year when the Betfair top 3 and the OGAE top 3 are basically the same.

          • Exactly Ben (re the Betfair top 3 and the OGAE top 3 being basically the same). I like to use rotting graves where taste went to die like the OGAE poll as a CHECK rather than THE BETTING BIBLE. Is what you think the top5 will be the same as OGAE’s top5? You are in trouble. Is the OGAE top5 and the betting odds the same? They are both in trouble, as that will not come to be. Then it’s just a matter of spotting the red herrings, if you haven’t spotted them already. No of countries in OGAE top5 making the actual top5 (from 2015 going backwards): 2 3 2 2 1 2 1 2 2 🙂

          • Also worth bearing in mind is that since 2007, the eventual Eurovision winner is in the OGAE top 5 every year except 2011, where Azerbaijan was 7th, and in 2008, although I can’t find where Russia came in the poll that year.

            Furthermore, in 2010 and 2011, contests which most people retrospectively consider remarkably weak and very open, respectively, the eventual ESC winner was no higher than 3rd in the OGAE poll.

            Now, it goes without saying that 2016 is an open year, and as I said before, I consider Russia and France to be fanwanky kinds of songs, but not Australia, and they’re currently 3rd in the OGAE.

            I don’t want people to take this as “Australia’s gonna win” but I think it’s unwise to write it off, just as I think its unwise to write off the OGAE altogether. They’re notorious for fanwanks but they’re usually not that wide of the mark in the end.

          • PurpleKylie

            I don’t consider Russia to be a fanwank because out of the Russia-France-Australia trifecta, only Russia is a certain top 5, and I don’t think a popular song that finishes top 5 can be considered a fanwank.

            The other two however, I can perfectly imagine not even being top 10 on a bad day.

          • eurovicious

            Something that’s coming up a lot is that in 2011 the market (and the OGAE poll) was very very wrong. In 2013 I suspected that might happen again, but it didn’t; in fact, since 2012 the market has been highly accurate every year (apart from AT/NL not shortening until contest week in 2014). If a country with a more commercial and contemporary song than Russia turns up at the start of rehearsals week with amazeballs digital staging that also manages to touch people emotionally, Sergey is in trouble. I suspect France will drift again during rehearsals week as more impressive-looking entries take to the stage – there’s an element of bubble to France’s April contraction, people are clutching at it because there’s nothing going on apart from these various promo parties. That will change soon.

          • The weird thing is, having written that – Australia are a tiny green on my own book, so this is coming from a relatively objective standpoint, but something’s telling me not to bet on them.

            I can make a logical argument for the song, but then I go and listen to it and I just can’t feel it except when Dami hits the big note, but once that’s gone, so is the feeling. It’s just such a cold song. Australia backers have to cling to the hope that this will change when she sings live.

            Bulgaria’s an intriguing one for sure. It’s very commercial and competitive, and I think it will be top 10. But catchy as it is, I don’t think the song is going that extra mile enough. It’s more fun than emotive.

          • Mr Wolf

            “France will drift again during rehearsals week as more impressive-looking entries take to the stage – there’s an element of bubble to France’s April contraction, people are clutching at it because there’s nothing going on apart from these various promo parties. That will change soon.”

            That may be true.
            Considering that there are many uncertaintes around France, it is really hard to see price falling much below 4.
            More expected would be drift if Amir doesn’t live up the expectations. Even if his performance and staging are rather decent (and even winning material), it’s probably gonna drift a bit.
            The expectations are already so high and the market indicates now the two horse race between Russia and France and if there are gonna be positive surprises during rehearsals and semi-finals, then there are going to be market corrections.

            Also we can’t get much feedback for Amir’s live performance perception before the Final (press voting has given pretty valuable information tho, but not that highly countable still).

            Of course if he’s gonna chart very well in coming weeks (and impresses in rehearsal) and Russia fails to deliver on stage convincingly, that would be the other case (and France may fall pretty low for some time, depending on the surprisers) + the draw announcement affects the market.

            Sergey’s first rehearsal is already on next Monday, so that is probably going to give us pretty good information already.

            If both of them left us mixed feelings after rehearsal, the market may get pretty confused.

            But Amir has much more chance to dissapoint bettors during rehearsals than positively surprise.
            The market already counts in his vocal improvements and momentum.
            There’s probably gonna remain some “buts” and “what if” nuances till Final (like was the case with Conchita), which make improbable him to follow the Rybak’s, Emmelie’s or Loreen’s path in betting markets.
            But everything is possible depending on the course of events.
            It’s just hard to see Russia dissapointing in a level where market would dismiss them as one the favourites to win the competition (and make France or any other country runaway winner before the show).

  • Hippo

    From these four it’s most likely Russia takes it. It does seem they’re going high tech from what I’ve read and that might be enough, just, to scrape enough jury points to take the crown.
    Latvia have a decent enough shot. The entry isn’t as jury friendly as love Injected but should get a decent enough haul, and has much more going for it on the televote. There’s a lot of room for the price to come in too.
    Sweden have a hell of a lot of issues that I’m not going to repeat myself on. It’s not impossible, but unless Frans starts charting heavily I don’t even see a top 5.
    France all in all might have a better chance than Sweden. Terrible value on them though.

    If we get another solo male it will be one of these four. That said, if I was forced to predict a winner right now, I wouldn’t say any of them. Russia and Latvia top 5, Sweden and France lower.

  • Chris Bellis

    Thoroughly entertaining yet erudite article as usual EV. Only one thing you say I’m not sure of – that France doesn’t put a lot of effort in. I don’t think submitting some of the best singers in the francophone world, like Patricia Kaas, counts as not really trying. The eurovision audience just doesn’t get it, just the same way that the USA doesn’t get Robbie Wlliams. If Amir could turn in a performance as good as Mans did last year, he could win. However, that won’t happen, judging by the live performances I’ve seen on video so far.

  • This year the Tumblr teen girls are fangirling hard over Jüri Pootsmann (cute, dorky, cool song), a bit less over Justs (cute. but wears embarrassing leather jacket, song is less cool).

    Remember: they fangirl and they vote. Last year the fangirls were crazy for Måns, Il Volo (especially Gianluca) and Loïc.

  • Btw, while Russia might not be able to precisely replicate the music video – they can’t exactly bring a giant white cube on stage (or can they?) – from the ESC production crew’s blog, we know that a) one of the acts will be using some very sophisticated computer-aided projection mapping equipment, and b) Russia is one of several acts with technically complicated staging. So they’re planning *something*.

    France has signed up creative directors HK Corp to do their staging. They directed the “J’ai cherché” music video, but are the go-to guys for cool, edgy acclaimed music videos in France. Even better: the tutu girls are not coming to Stockholm. Such an improvement from two years ago when Twin Twin got their mate to design the graphics.

  • Black n Blue

    Great to hear your thoughts in full EV.

    I’d reckon out of the four male contenders, that two can go all the way,with Sweden and Latvia being the pair I’m expecting to fall just short of the benchmark.

    Russia, from a betting standpoint is like the Liberace of this year’s contest. They’re exuberant, ambitious, extremely camp and still have something to give audiences the showstopper moment they’ve tuned in for. Flip the coin, and what you get is something au passé, something that’s found it’s niche audience while kids are busy loving the edge, and coolness of Michael Jackson’s Thriller on MTV. Pitting one against the other on Saturday night television, is exactly what the contest is shaping into this year, and I can’t be fully confident in Li doing the business, until we see it for ourselves. (Although, maybe some Perla can help me make up my mind on this…)

    I’ve been thinking hard about Russia, and as dated as the package looks on paper, it feels like there might be enough there to nullify the flaws. As much of a Schlager explosion that the chorus of You Are The Only Only One inflicts, the intro and the verse sequences do have these brief, modern, electro pulses almost clinically designed to take the song out of a bye gone era. I think what the entry lacks in uplift and human finesse, it’ll have to make up for in a technically impressive and demanding production. My gut instinct since Sergey’s first live appearance has been that by sending him out to strut with five adjourning dancers, his team are cunningly playing to the predominantly gay crowds that show up the to preview events, and yet are simultaneously playing poker face so as not to run out of steam before the finish line. I’m certain they’ll give us something to marvel at production-wise, but as for winning I’m undecided, if not confident at all.

    France are becoming something of a revelation towards the back end of the build up period. “J’ai Cherché” has been a personal favourite of mine, but I’ve so far been hesitant to say it’ll achieve anything close to victory off the basis of the country that’s sending it and the so-so vocal prowess of the singer. Having said all of that, fanwank or not, It seems like Europe is starting to fall in love with Amir. For me, when I’ve watched him perform live I’m reminded a little bit of the saying that goes “There’s a million reasons not to like something, but there’s always going to be one to like it, that reason is the one that’ll prove it’s worth”. The one reason is Amir. Without sounding like I’m writing a love letter, he has a magnetic draw, a human interest appeal that’s difficult to explain, and one that Il Volo displayed in 2015. I can’t help but thinking now, that saying he doesn’t hit this note, or look into that camera comes across as a bit of tired, extraneous analysis. France could turn out to be somewhat of a red-herring this year, in not ticking all the boxes, but giving the people and juries that one all important reason to vote. Amir and his aura is the winning touch. I don’t even care tbh, if I’m sounding biased anymore, so Sacré Bleu indeed.

  • PurpleKylie

    I’m sorry but I can’t hold it in any longer – I struggle to take a lot of the pro-Amir comments here seriously, because the pro-Amir brigade act like he is the Second Coming of pop music… like, NO.

    It’s almost as annoying as the pro-Frans brigade…

  • Mr Wolf

    About pro-Amir’ness.
    Lets look at the facts about France:
    *Is winning with a huge margin escstats.com Pre-Chart
    *Is probably going to win OGAE voting with pretty impressive score
    *Is leading Big Poll and probaby winning it with one of the most impressive results ever
    *Scored very high in Oikopanel ranking and got close second score in Wiwi Jury ranking (with a score which would have won in 2015, 2014 or 2013 in Wiwi Rankings)
    *Is getting more momentum day by day in Itunes and currently charting much better than any other country (http://www.esctracker.com/)
    *Is favoured by many avarage voters/televiewers with different backrounds/different age groups, who are not Eurovision fans (just ask around)
    *Has the qualities Eurovision winning song should have, doesn’t have the problems like Estonia 2015 or Armenia/Sweden/Hungary 2014 had

    Yes, we all know that fan polls aren’t always the right predictors, but they always give as some valuable information if we can put them into right context and read behind the lines.

    Many are pointing that we have “2014” kind of year, but imo it’s a rather convinient and false short-cut conclusion from the bettors point of view.
    Yes, there probably gonna be surprises after the rehearsal start, but is there really countries with a potential to stand against France or Russia?

    There are..Sweden?..Serbia?..Ukraine?

    Well, I rather don’t see there Conchita. Maybe Common Linnets, but Common Linnets may not be strong enough to beat Amir or Sergey.
    Conchita was a sensation after all. And Sweden, Armenia or Hungary all had strong issues and minuses in Eurovision context from the beginning.
    Any of them didn’t really tick the “Eurovision winning song” boxes (as well Margaret Berger in 2013 or Kati Wolf in 2011).

    I’m not saying that Serbia and Ukraine are stronger than Latvia, Australia or Bulgaria, but I’m just pointing out that they have the elements for potential to grow big (their idea and conception into something larger). But I personally see too many flaws in them to consider them to be a serious threat for the trophy.

    Serbia has a trully great performer, good song and the nice flute? arrangements which all could work very well together if rightly staged.
    But I really can’t see in my imagination that the whole Europe is gonna grab their phones to vote for it. It doesn’t have “it”, the sensation.
    I don’t think the song is 2016 enough. There’s something annoying about it..maybe song’s developement (in the context of Eurovision)..it lefts me rather “dated” feeling (at least in the packages we have seen it so far, they should change much in the whole impression if the wanna be “in”).

    Sweden is a whole different universe, but I think there have already been many discussions about Frans plusses and minuses, no need to nag about it again.

    For me, the serious question about the competition for the trophy is at the moment:
    1) If Amir can deliver it on the stage good enough. There’s a risk considering his vocals and the staging. If the dancers would be with him as they were in his first live performances, this would be a serious turn-off. Or any other weird and unnecessary detail what would scare and turn off the voters. He just needs good backdrop and performance with decent enough vocals + right camera angels imo.
    2) If Russia is gonna come out with something really innovating on the stage. That would really change the game.

    For the pro-Justs people. Are there any facts for you to rely on?
    I mean. All people have seen so far the packaged live performance. I understand they want to develop the staging, but how much there really is to grow. The song works with simplicity and Justs performance.
    The feedback has been lukewarm max. It’s probably gonna be several degrees warmer in May, but thats not enough to catch the big fishes.

    Rather more interesting question for me is atm if Bulgaria is gonna be last year’s Slovenia or Belgium. Do they really have a potential to screw the overall impression in a way that Slovenia did last year?

    • PurpleKylie

      Lukewarm according to who exactly? Maybe in your own echo chamber…

      It’s gotten just about the same reception to most of the more popular songs this year: some people love it, most people like it or at least think it’s half decent, only a couple of haters

      • Mr Wolf

        I rather noted to rankings and polls.
        Yes, it’s not the kind of song that needs huge pre-success to do well. But still, there’s no base besides gut and own bias to expect it to do better than some bigger favourites.
        We all expect to see it in TOP10, but considering that he doesn’t have much room to grow with his staging and performance and so far the feedback hasn’t been in a level of winner, the facts aren’t on his side.
        In my “own echo chamber” I have heard mixed receptions. Rather positive, but nothing spectacular. Decent, but no “wow” effect.

        But those are only some parts of the puzzle.
        There have been already discussed most of the problematic parts of the Latvia earlier.

      • One should always read between the lines of fan polls. Obviously. But although I agree that many people should take fan polls seriously, it goes a bit too far too underestimate or even ignore them so radically and ‘violently’ (verbally). I think the latter is a mistake. And most of the times it only shows that there’s a bit of an elitary disconnect between professional betters and the more fun-spirited Eurovision fans or OGAE-souls.

        For me it’s very simple really: The rehearsals will tell us more. Until then it’s no good to overanalize aspects of an entry or the available total package. Especially in the two weeks preceding May 2nd. For instance, I hear many judgements about the vocals. But then please judge the vocals during the full 3 min’s, not just one word sang badly. In the end it only takes one (two) top notch performances to throw away some bad TV performances.

        Another example is Germany right now. The odds are now much lower on the betting websites. But let’s face it, that’s because of her dollhouse-hat. It reminds me a bit of the fear punters had with Conchita’s beard. Both juries and televoters at times are perfectly able to swallow some ‘weird aspect’ of the total package, because the eventual total package actually works.

        I do understand professional traders reject fan polls. But for those betters who only invest a small amount of money on, let’s say, 20 little bets with a total of €100, it’s perhaps more important to bet as correctly as possible in an early stage, as there’s not much more money to lay (correct) certain bets you made. The more money you have to invest, the easier to trade and ‘correct’.

        I just took a closer look at the ESCnation fan poll (http://tummiweb.com/scorewiz/poll/results). It’s a FAN poll, but since 2007 they have correctly predicted the winner 6 times. Not bad no?:
        2007 Serbia (‘Molitva’)
        2008 Sweden (‘Hero’, 18th at ESC)
        2009 Norway (‘Fairytale’)
        2010 Germany (‘Sattelite’)
        2011 Hungary (‘What About My Dreams’, 22nd at ESC)
        2012 Sweden (‘Euphoria’)
        2013 Denmark (‘Only Teardrops’)
        2014 United Kingdom (‘Children Of The Universe’, 17th at ESC)
        2015 Sweden (‘Heroes’)
        2016 France (‘J’ai Cherché’. currently leading)

        Then there’s this ‘shadow jury’ from Eurovoix.com, which I like to look at, but that also should be read with a ‘different’ eye:
        And let’s face it………even a baby could have seen the failure of the UK coming in 2014. In retrospect I think the more British biased betters made a huge mistake with ‘ice queen’ Molly:
        2014:
        1. United Kingdom
        2. Sweden
        3. Armenia
        4. Malta
        5. Denmark
        ——————
        9. Austria (eventual winner with official juries and overall)

        2015:
        1. Australia
        2. Sweden (eventual winner overall)
        3. Italy (eventual winner with official juries)
        4. Russia
        5. Albania
        6. Iceland

        2016 (http://www.eurovoix.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Eurojury-2016-Points-29.xlsx):
        1. Spain
        2. Sweden
        3. Cyprus
        4. Belgium
        5. Australia
        6. France

        2016 (Europanel: http://www.esc-plus.com/europanel/2016/rank-so-far/# )
        1. Australia
        2. France
        3. Russia
        4. Malta
        5. Spain
        6. Azerbaijan

        My point really: Observe all online polls with a helicopter view. There’s always some useful information that can be used in your prediction. What always strikes me with fan polls is the complete absence of reviewing the available videos with the full staging potential on display. So you can still use them if your goal is judging one aspect of the audiovisual total package: The song. In the end they are polls solely based on studio versions. And in a way that goes for these fance ‘Eurojury’s’ and ‘Europanels’ too.

        And even the bookmakers only become really accurate during the rehearsals and get increasingly accurate a day before the semi final or final. At this stage (April 25th) there’s a lot of ‘mumbojumbo’ available at the bookies that reflects the OGAE poll as well….

    • Amir is trending in Belarus (ok), in Israel (normal considering his heritage) and France (who will not vote for him). The OGAE poll is one of the most unreliable sources who could come up with a winner: since 2007, they have indicated only 4 winners from 9 editions, below 50% hit rate.

      Their winner from 2010, Denmark, placed 4th, 100pts behind Lena. In 2011, they had Hungary 1st, France 2nd, UK 3rd. Blue finished 11th, Amaury was 15th, while Kati Wolf was 22nd. Let’s go to 2014, when Undo won (3rd in the competition), Hungary was 2nd (5th in the competition) and Israel 3rd (NQ). They seem to be in love with France placing them 2nd two times in the last nine years, when they came 8th and 15th.

      But it was 2011 when OGAE showed that this ranking should never be used from a betting perspective, when they ranked San Marino 2nd. Disregarding the very mechanisms that rule ESC is what shows you they have no place from a betting standpoint.

      The Big Poll has only indicated Loreen and Rybak, with wildcards like Slovenia 2nd last year (14th place), Cascada 3rd in 2013 (21st) or San Marino 4th in 2013 (NQ). These are purely fan polls. That does not mean that France will not win in Stockholm, but using these charts as backing for your beliefs is not a valid argumentation.

      • Mr Wolf

        Yes, but that was exactly what I said.
        You can get information from those polls only if you put things into context and can read behind the lines.
        There are always false fan favourites and there are always countries who are performing poorly in fan polls and shining later.
        Saying that they have absolutely no place from betting standpoint is like saying that a draw shouldn’t have any value/place from bettors point of view.
        As we have discussed, it mostly has only 10-15% value to affect the results, and last two years the winner came from first half.
        Does that mean that draw is utterly important factor which has no place in predicting final results? No.
        So, I don’t see any reason why are you giving me those examples.
        Thats clear that 2011 was really messy year without a clear leader.
        The acts who did well didn’t have much potential to do well in fan polls and the acts who did well in fan polls were flawed, but had the “fanwank” quality. Did any of the OGAE TOP3 had emotional quality which winners usually have?
        Did really anyone think that Slovenia will win last year? It was too niche from the beginning like Latvia this year or Hungary 2014 or Norway 2013.
        You can say that its a pure coincident that Rybak, Loreen and Emmelie de Forest did very well in fan polls, but I rather see patterns.
        Only thing what distinguishes Amir from those three is that he doesn’t have liable and complete stage package yet.
        There are more uncertaintes as other did have the complete stage presence already pre-contest (as did Mans).
        But when considering song emotional quality, performer charm and momentum, then I see Amir falling into the same category.
        Thats what people are expecting from the winner in 2016.

        But yes, if Russia impresses us on stage, it’s probably gonna be a race between the two like it was between Sweden and Italy last year (they were also close in fan polls like Amir and Sergey).

        To Henry..
        As I have said earlier, I was on of those who thought Amir is potential TOP10, but not a winning material. After hearing the first version of “J’ai Cherche” I thought it may win the jury, but it’s too artsy and intellectual for the masses.
        I see that most people now think of it as a “cheesy pop song”, but the longer version with the lyrics video really gave me the other impression.
        The numbers in Esctracker/ITunes doesn’t indicate any real considerable sales numbers, but the fact that he has chart presence in 5-6 countries (and the number has been rising lately) vs others have it in max 2 countries (besides Frans) does imply to me that there’s a rising buzz around it.
        And as mentioned earlier, I have received from my “own echo chamber” most positive feedback this year for France.
        Vocals have been shaky, but Amir overall stage presence has been going more and more promising and people seem to like him.
        I think that it was my own mistake not to detect the winning potential at first glance.
        But whatever your own bias is, from bettors point of view is always important to follow the trends (yes, fan polls alone aren’t the trends to follow).
        Last year I couldn’t imagine how would be possible for Sweden to win Italy (at least) in televoting and I didn’t expect juries to kill Italy so hard, but I still put much of my money on Sweden on the final day, since indicators pointed to Sweden.

        And we all know that we can’t analyze Youtube statistics only from views and likes, but we have to put them into context. Considering this I find France statistics pretty impressive.

        • Hippo

          Can I ask what lines you’re reading between?
          Like Walrus says, France very frequently do much better than their final result in these polls (13th 2015, 13th 2014, 2nd 2011, 2nd 2009 in Ogae) . J’ai Cherche being an uptempo pop song (see Russia and Spain) and in a language other than English (see Austria, Italy and Ukraine) has all the hallmarks of an Ogae and fan poll winner. Add to that how ‘charming’ he has been in interviews (that most normal viewers won’t know about) and how he’s made friends with other fan favourites like Barei (which normal viewers won’t care about) and it’s no surprise at all that he’s coming top.
          When I read between the lines, I don’t see anything but reasons to discard this year’s poll results as useless as a prediction method.

        • Boki

          Whatever happens to Amir (false favorite or not), this post by Mr Wolf (together with his previous long one) is an extremely well written piece of this year’s puzzle.

          • Ande

            Yes, very well thought through and I’m reevaluating France now. Initially I wrote ‘J’ai cherché’ off as a nice song that isn’t immediate enough from a country that has done a hatchet job with all recent Eurovision productions, but now there’s indicators that France are actually trying.

        • You are completely missing the point. I did not say that these fan polls are not a tool from a betting standpoint, but overstating their importance and accuracy are going to get you in trouble on the long haul. Also, the draw is a crystal-clear part of judging a song, while a fan-directed poll is more of a personal experience.

          However, there is no reading between the lines in top 3-ing a NQ song or a song that finished 20th or 22nd. This is plainly useless, it’s like drawing the winners from a bowl. I was giving you these examples because Loreen or Rybak were clear favourites, trading at 1.5 – 1.7 long before the start of the contest, not predicting them would render these polls useless. of course they were chosen, there is no pattern, because these polls had only managed to pick 4/9 winners, a 44% hitrate, that is hardly worth scratch your head for more than a few minutes.

          Also, what’s the point of talking about the fan polls if they ranked Slovenia 3rd and nobody thought about them winning? Of course, having to sing first was a downer, but that’s another reason the draw truly affects the competition, not the fan polls.

          You really can’t say that “people are looking for charm, emotional quality and momentum”. Look what happened in the MF this year, the jury vote will be quite important too and based on what we saw in the previous years, songs like this could be down in the pecking order, only to see France having a mountain to climb with the televotes. And that’s another problem: the changes mean that the diaspora factor will be more important. The French diaspora? Quite difficult to put your finger on and I reckon Frans will get help from the West. With Sergei relying on his Eastern block quite heavily, where will Amir win? I really think that Belarus will not give France 12 pts, just take a peek at their voting history, with no Western or Central European country finding its way into the first five places.

          Also, how did last year end in a race between Sweden and Italy, when Russia placed 2nd?

          • johnkef

            Regarding the polls…it’s a very useful tool if you know how to interpret them. I always use one and one poll only to draw my conclusions….the Escstats poll. They don’t get the winner or the ranking of the final right most of the times, but there’s a pattern and they tell you the nationality of the voters so you can get the picture.

            eg. Cyprus is always high because many Greeks vote and they cannot vote for their country. And because many Cypriots are also voting, Greece is always high too.

            Conclusion No1. If Greece is not high even in the poll this year, it doesn’t stand a chance of qualifying in the Final

            eg2. Spaniards are less honest and probably state the country they live in as the country of origin and Spain is always Top5 in the poll.

            Conclusion No2. Spain is not a Top10 material

            Knowing where the voters come from is a valuable piece of data. You can see if a country is in fact leading the poll because of its sog or because of the devoted fans that enter the site just to vote for it. (call me Poland or Hungary this year)

            Another important thing to watch for is the analogy between the total amount of points and 12s the country has. If a country has for example 1200 points and has 50 12s, then you should watch out cause the points come from the fans of the song and the song does not have the mass appeal a winner is ought ot have.

            Regarding the ”French diaspora” . There is not such a thing, but there’s another fish tank where France can throw some hooks and it’s called muslim minority. I know he’s Jew but he has a muslim name and he’s part Tunisian part Moroccan . He has a target group only for himself and Jamala. Maybe just a theory but i believe we can see him scoring more than Sweden in countries like Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria because of that.

            The tension just a week away from the rehearsals is rising. We don’t have a winner yet and everybody in here is trying to sell his arguments for the possible winner. There are dozens of arguments for many countries and every participant has flaws and pro’s. Let’s see who’s gonna rise up to the occasion and who’s gonna underperform!

          • John, that’s a whole other story. Of course the patterns are there and they can prove useful, but being able to attract a high number of points from 42 countries and being able to pinpoint a song’s top 10 chances are two different things.

            However, I reckon that if Greece is able to qualify to the final, they will do it regardless of what a poll says. The run-in to the final, the info from Stockholm or how the cards are dealt are much more important than what a bloke from Cyprus might say.

            The “diaspora” I was talking before was a general term, maybe I should have used Francophone countries? 🙂 The Muslim connection is a thing that might come into play, but I think the jury vote will be decisive. If Amir manages to be in the top 3 or in a competitive top 5, then he will have chances. But even then he will have to top the voting. Somehow, with the previous LIVE acts, I doubt he will be so high in the juries’ ranking.

          • johnkef

            I use the polls to extract some useful data. They don’t count more than 5% even less to my opinion. Greece is not gonna qualify because of its shitty song. Not even the strongest allies will save it.
            As i said before, we all have our theories for the final night, that might end up wishful thinking or far away from the real thing.
            Don;t forget the 2014 pre-contest, everyone here, myself included, believed that Conchita can’t make it with the jury system and we all proved wrong.

          • Mr Wolf

            I’m sorry if I may have given too many statements with too less analyze/explanations.
            Johnkef already started here with the poll interpretation and as we all know every one of us has their own betting strategy and philosophy, their own gut, intuition and perception of the world/songs/etc.
            So it would probably be too hard (and too long, 3-5 A4 pages) for me to explain my own system here completely (how I interpret the polls, rankings, charts, Youtube views etc). It includes considerable amount of my own gut, intuition, experience which is very hard to explain, because there are hundreds of pieces in the puzzle.

            However, as long as I remember, Loreen didn’t trade between 1.5 – 1.7 before the contest. At least in Betfair. Emmelie de Forest was the one. I’m not sure, but didn’t Loreen trade around 2.5-3.5 before the rehearsals? And I don’t remember Loreen falling lower than 2 in the final day as well (I may be wrong).
            But yes, I remember Emmelie traded lower than 2 in the final day.

            Secondly, I wasn’t talking about few fan polls, but I presented more diverse evidence or statements of the Amir record-breaking and universal appeal/consensus so far.
            His appeal has been so far highly stronger than was with the other “fanwank” examples from the history.

            I don’t understand your point on Slovenia? What the draw has to do with their failure last year? They may have got 10th place with the pimp slot, but no more. The draw didn’t change the basics. It didn’t do very well in their semi with the good draw as well.
            The song’s emotional impact didn’t have the needed components from the beginning to score very well in televoting (ofc with better staging it would had a chance to do better, but not in the level of TOP3)

            If the song and the performance is good enough, then diaspora isn’t necessary to score very high.
            Austria didn’t have it.
            Diaspora is rather helpful for reaching TOP10 (or even TOP5), but in the higher levels it isn’t usually decisive.
            Belarus gave Conchita 0 points and it didn’t stop her winning. I’m pretty sure that they are going to hand points to Amir this year.

            As stated before, Amir vocals are concerning from the jury’s point of view, but otherwise I think “J’ai Cherché” is VERY jury friendly song.

          • meridian_child

            When was Loreen trading at 1.5-1.7 long before the start of the contest?

            I got a betfair screenshot from 22-05-2012 19:58. Here are the odds that were avaiable at that moment:

            Sweden 2.88
            Italy 9.8
            Russia 10
            Romania 18
            Serbia 18.5
            Iceland 26
            Denmark 27
            Spain 30
            UK 30
            Germany 34
            Norway 38
            Cyprus 38
            Ireland 40
            Ukraine 65
            Azerbaijan 65
            Turkey 100
            ….
            Estonia 200
            Albania 280

            If you consider this was the day of the first semifinal and the stagings were known, even the betting odds (at this point) had many fails and were not really sooo much better than the polls in 2012.

          • Mr Wolf

            “Also, how did last year end in a race between Sweden and Italy, when Russia placed 2nd?”

            As we know, Italy would have been 2nd with this year’s voting system and the pre-contest duel was rather between the two like Russa vs France this year.

        • Ande

          I agree that OGAE shouldn’t be analyzed it in a vacuum. Here I feel Russia, Australia, Italy, Spain and Sweden scoring in the region of what you might reasonably expect while I’m suprised to see Croatia, Malta and Iceland doing so poorly.

          Like you I do get the feeling that Amir is overperforming both on Youtube and in the OGAE-poll. Is France really such an obvious choice for dedicated Eurovision fans?

    • Mr Wolf

      “J’ai cherché” has currently ITunes presence in 7 countries:
      http://www.esctracker.com/

      • France that, erm, can not vote for it, Israel that is simply logical because of his heritage, Sweden that has Italy, Australia and Azerbaijan charting and will, probably, take an ESC high. That leaves us with Belarus (which had it already), Russia and Switzerland (Francophone country).

        • Mr Wolf

          Just informing, since I haven’t seen it raising over 6 before (has been in a range of 4-6 lately).
          His new album “Au cœur de moi” was realesed today btw, about the chart presence:
          http://kworb.net/itunes/artist/amir.html
          “J’ai cherché” has also charted in Belgium (also currently), Greece, Armenia, Spain..the range of countries is rising..probably is going to chart in Estonia soon as well since its rising popularity.

        • Ande

          Charting in several countries tells me the song has strong base appeal. The potential 12 from Sweden would also be unprecedented.

  • Mr Wolf

    I’m sorry, the Russian part fall a bit short.
    I meant, if Russia is gonna deliver something very innovative and extraordinary on stage, they may challange Amir even if he has good staging and vocals. On the other hand, if Russia is gonna continue with “Sakis Rouvas routine”, it may confirm the “dated” overall impression and fall lower than 2th place.
    But as we know, Russian production team is usually pretty reliable and they really wanna win, so there would be logical to expect rather something good. But who knows, if the song itself was a little disappointment at the beginning, the staging expectations may be too high as well.

    And looking forward to see Australia in rehearsals.
    Can’t see the song doing very well in televoting, but the staging and performance potential is great.
    So it’s still an act to keep eye on.
    If the staging is a disappointment, then it could easily flop.

  • Henry VIII

    I agree about Russia, they could impress.

    But about France, you need to ask why wasn’t it considered a winner on release but just a possible top 10? This suggests that its popularity is a whirlwind of fan feedback.

    And it hasn’t achieved any real charting, as confirmed by ESC Tracker. None of them have.

    • Henry VIII

      YouTube atm better than iTunes because views are in the millions. There France is 7th (and, on current trends, may to fall to 9th this week). So a top 10 does look possible.

  • Martin F.

    Anyone know if this is how France are planning to stage it in Stockholm? Those backing girls and their antics certainly don’t scream ESC winner to me.

    • Henry VIII

      Amir has said they’re not using the tutu girls.

      • Martin F.

        Ah, good. A bit like Russia then, keeping their cards close to their chest by using the same old staging even when they should/could be in rehearsal mode already.

        • Henry VIII

          I’m not sure about that. Russia are using “high tech” stuff which maybe can’t be used in these little gigs. But for France to still have the tutus and still be singing the long version of the song smacks of the usual French sloppiness towards ESC.

          Everyone benefits from practising the actual ESC production, not to mention having people see the actual production. And that’s what France should be doing. At least have him sing the 3 minute version even if the staging hasn’t been finalised.

          Also it makes me wonder if France will be one of those countries who use the official ESC (Stockholm) rehearsal time to try things out, when it should have all actually been finalised by now already.

      • Henry VIII

        I’ve only just realised that clip was posted on YT today. You just can’t keep those tutu girls down.

  • Henry VIII

    Johnkef makes an interesting point that Amir will score points because he will be assumed to be a Muslim. I think that might be the case in countries with large Muslim populations, of which there are many, but maybe not in the actual Muslim countries mentioned ie Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Albania, where the presenters will probably point out that he’s lived most of his life in Israel even if they don’t actually say that he’s a Jew.

    • Montenegro could also be counted here.

      • eurovicious

        I really doubt that any significant no. of people would either vote or not vote for Amir on the basis his name sounds potentially Muslim.

        • Chris Bellis

          Having spent time in all the countries mentioned, and lived for a while in two of them, I can’t see how his being a Muslim or not will make much of a difference. The Muslim diaspora might vote for him (eg Dagestanis and Chechens living in Russia), but there will be an equal if not greater number of people hostile to him because of that. Ditto if he’s presented as Jewish. The prejudices will cancel each other out, so best disregarded.

  • Alpie

    Even if France gets 1st place with televoting it remains doubtful where it will be placed by the juries. Italy in 2015 is a good example of what I am saying. Therefore, we need to find out which song will be in top 3 in a math of the both, Jury voting and televoting.

    • eurovicious

      Yes, and Italy 2015 was impeccably sung.

    • Black n Blue

      Alpie, I do agree with you in some respects. There’s little evidence as of now that France is going to be a jury’s cup of tea.
      In hindsight, I’m in the camp of thought that the pegging down of Il Volo by several juries irrespective of their stunning vocals, came down to the Popera element, and the whole idea behind the entry being a stereotype of Italy. A song by them with huge emphasis on ‘Amore’ and with Romanesque statues for a backdrop is just asking to be marked down by jurors. The French entry this year may not reach the heights of Italy’s televote success, but I’m not expecting it to be condemned by juries either.

  • Henry VIII

    2 fanwanks but 1, and only 1, can win.
    YOU decide.
    http://41.media.tumblr.com/3e438514658162fe18ce0023a9eb0e8d/tumblr_o5ipnlZYNg1qlt4tao1_1280.jpg

    There is an omen in that the symbol on the sacred monument behind one of them is warning him to be quiet, his voice is not appreciated.

  • John

    Good analysis EV, although I’d just like to mention a few things.

    Russia – I agree much, if not all of Russia’s fortunes, hang on the staging. If they go the ‘Sakis’ route I think we can forget about this winning, and it will be another Russian near miss. (Imagine being a Russian Eurovision superfan and having to put up with perennial near misses AND being booed. Still, I’d take it over the UK’s recent record).

    If they stage it similar to the music video, it will have a lot more potential. What I find more crucial though, is that Sergey is the star, the focus, he has the moves, looks and pipes, and should not be lost in a messy 00s type choreography or in an over-produced effects-fest that forgets people vote for the singer. The strength of the video is its focus on the singer while being dynamic in a way that compliments the constantly developing song.(Which as an almost mathematic Eurovision construction, I still think is very impressive).

    France – just does not say winner to me. Amir’s all very French Ruffalo and has Lena’s automatic appeal, but perfect vocals on the night, with staging that compliments his famous charm and the song’s message still won’t change the song. There’s too much French almost spoken, rather than being sung, there’s a point about 2/3s through where it loses its momentum, and the chorus is certainly not the equal of Satellite’s. It’s nice, but it’s riding a wave of fan enthusiasm at the moment. French sounds great when its sung well, and the fans of yesteryear are carrying this based on that, and nostalgia. (See Austria too).

    Put harshly, the French have been in this position before, because their entries often are good, and real, if that makes sense. But they’d stuffed it before, and they’ll stuff it again.

    Sweden – SO hard to be objective as his voice is nails on chalkboard for me. This won’t matter outside of the UK, and since we have this sort of ahem, music, on the radio all the time we’ll probably give it points anyway. I would caution how much the juries will take to it. I don’t expect it will be staged with much aplomb (indeed, why should it be)? His vocals are practically spoken, and it’s all a bit too understated. Add an underwhelming draw position and it’s not looking good for a top 4 for me.

    Eurovision is not a ‘live music performance’ in the most typical sense, it’s a staging competition, and the votes are directed through the medium of television. I see other songs making a much bigger impact than this. Emphatically radio friendly does not a winner make, no matter how many numbers are bounced around. If it’s a bloke with a guitar singspeaking precociously for 3 minutes it aint gonna cut it.

    Which leaves Latvia, the one I find to be most compelling after a ‘well-staged Russia’. Aminata has written something more accessible than Love Injected, which has an appealing singer with a rich gravelly voice and the right stage energy and demeanour. It has a more typical structure too. It has weird musical notes that draw the ear, make the song sound current and relevant, and makes the listener pay attention. What the Russian song does with bells and whistles and demanding, Latvia does like a coy tart, enticing the listener to want more.

    For me, it’s Russia and Latvia we are looking at, with Sweden and especially France the red herrings. I do want to see Armenia, Malta and Ukraine stage theirs first before I can brag a top 4 though!

    • Henry VIII

      John I agree with much of what you say but don’t you feel that Justs is just too effeminate to appeal to the mams? Mams = middle Austrian mums, or in other words the typical ESC voter.

      Compare him to Sergey who dances about all power and guns blazing and is just what mams like. (Both are gay incidentally, it’s just that Justs is too gay).

      • eurovicious

        Justs has never struck me as at all effeminate or gay…

        • PurpleKylie

          I’ve met the guy twice now and I have no idea where this “effeminate” thing comes from, he comes across as a very laid back, chill guy to me, not the slightest bit feminine.

          But then again my gaydar is faulty.

          • Sorry Kylie, I know you’re in love with him. I’m just provoking debate because I like the song a lot. But there’s just something not quite there.

            Next time you meet him tell him to lose the ghastly jackets.

          • PurpleKylie

            I appreciate your debate-provoking skills 😛 I’ll keep that in mind if I bump into him next week.

            And WOAH, I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m IN love with him xD

        • johnkef

          Justs is more gay than Amir and Sergey together. It’s obvious! Not that it matters but he is!

          • Tim B

            As someone who has met and interviewed Justs, I can categorically say I really don’t think he is gay. And even if he were, it didn’t stop Loic from finishing 4th in the final last year. That kind of thing is trendy these days anyway.

          • eurovicious

            Yeah I have like laser gaydar (honed over the years), I can tell a woofter from 50 paces by the cut of their jib. Justs never tripped my sensors.

          • Mr Wolf

            Justs with his song is more threatning than Loic.
            Justs may not be gay, but he has the type and style which masculine people don’t like much and which evokes negative reflexes.
            But I guess it’s not that strong matter overall.
            Rather his “human charisma” may fell short for universal appeal.

          • Ande

            This is interesting. So what qualities are Justs displaying that renders him more likely to be homo- or heterosexual?

          • eurovicious

            Participating in Eurovision.

      • John

        Just to add my 2 cents to this new line of debate. I have a working gaydar and Justs has failed to trip it entirely, either singing or in interview. He has an ever so slight hint of androgyny/prettyness but it was more noticeable in Loic and that didn’t affect his results either.

        Indeed, I don’t find there to be anything offputting about Justs, and I think he has more or less the same ‘optical appeal’ as Amir, Sergey and Frans. In way they all cancel each other out in that regard.

        Besides Loic was, for some, noticeably camp and threatening (in a looks like a serial killer kind of way, what with the psychotic face grabbing and staring) and posted great results. Why? Because a) if someone has a face for television this stuff doesn’t often matter and b) the song was perhaps the coolest in the competition and it all worked when thrown together.

        I really don’t buy the argument that it is Justs people will take against. Frans’ cockyness perhaps, but the same never hurt Eric Saade or Dima Bilan.

        I will say Sergey doesn’t set off my gaydar either, perhaps I’m naive. 🙂

          • Chris Bellis

            If Sergey doesn’t set off John’s gaydar, he needs to have a few drinks in the Canal Street area in Manchester to hone the senses – or visit the bars in Moscow frequented by Sergey and his pals, as I have. He’s spent most of his life in musical theatre.

  • Amir/France, won’t win. I can’t think of any other way to say it than that

    • Henry VIII

      Your reasons?

      • Henry VIII

        I don’t think France will win either btw. I was just trying to turn Dash’s useless comment into a useful one.

        • Chris Bellis

          Henry – look at previous years on this site, and check the accuracy of regular contributors’ predictions. “The Netherlands will struggle etc”. Take it all with a bucketful of salt. Many of the “expert” predictors on this site can be proved wrong by the simple use of google. Myself, I’m no expert and I don’t pretend to be, but I’ve done better by watching what people on this site say, weighing it up, and if I think it’s b***ocks, going the opposite way. It’s usually that they don’t like Sweden. I don’t mind because it drives the odds my way. This year they don’t like Belgium, among others. We’ll see.

  • LWFA

    At this point it feels like watching a car-crash in slow-mo. I’d rather be awaiting a root-canal treatment than this year’s Saturday Night.

    Its like last year ~10 days before semifinals, when someone said: “People who are saying Mans won’t win are in denial.”

    Having the same feeling about Russia now. They won’t win because they have the best song or because they will be the people’s choice (a la Mans last year). But they will win because of their added bonuses (diaspora, voting allies and high-impact staging).

    Hoping the rehearsals will make a clear leader emerge.

    • Corbyguy

      I recall in 2014 reading on groups and forums this time before the rehearsals and live semi’s etc. people saying that Sweden will win and haters gonna hate etc. and then look what happened. Austria came from nowhere. I wonder how many of those people regret saying what they did.

      • Ande

        I think that was the correct call at the time. Both Austria and the Netherlands pulled awesome stagings from nowhere.

        • eurovicious

          Yes, but both had strong songs and standout appeal unlike Sweden’s vocally impressive but otherwise very generic offering.

          • Chris Bellis

            It still won me a sizeable amount of money each way. People on this site said it would be lucky to come top 10.

  • David

    If you think Justs is gay your gaydar has malfunctioned and as a result your judgement on ESC cannot be taken seriously either as other judgements may also be defected.

  • johnkef

    I have just busted the 4/6 qualifications urban legend of the double semifinals era!!! How come i didn’t notice before!!! In the second semi of 2008 we only have 2/6 and if you add Macedonia that was 10th but lost the juries ticket from Sweden we have 3/6!!!

    MYTH BUSTED!!!!

    • eurovicious

      A couple of isolated instances of 3/6 doesn’t invalidate the rule (which isn’t a fixed rule anyway, just a strong guideline)…

  • Henry VIII

    OK I’m going to cut through the nonsense like a hot knife through butter and make a statement that nobody can deny, although I’m eager to see people try:

    Russia have delivered the perfect package for ESC and will win easily.

    Of course we haven’t seen the staging but while it might boost them further, it’s less likely to harm it, from what we know of the “high tech” statement and experience of the “dream team”.

    I’ll deal with one predicted argument straight away and that is that juries will find the song out of date: This may have effect but I believe minimally if so. It’s mainly ESC fans (including myself) that have a contingent that care about the ESC genre advancing. The public votes on what hits / motivates them and the juries too but juries are also concerned with quality. Former judging guidelines, I don’t know if these have been changed:
    vocal capacity;
    the performance on stage;
    the composition and originality of the song;
    the overall impression by the act.

    • Mr Wolf

      Farid scored better with juries than public with his “not that fancy” song and stage gimmick. We don’t have many real examples from latest years, but it seems that juries reward ingenious stagings and innovative solutions if the performance and song works well with it as a package and the overall impression is convincing.
      So yes, if Russia doesn’t fail with his staging completely, it’s very hard not to see them in jury TOP5.
      If their solution is really innovative and impresses with complete package, they may easily win the jury vote as well.
      It’s not completely impossible they do better with juries than with televoting (as Farid), but I think their televoting and jury appeal is rather about the same if the staging is great (or televoting a little better).

    • Alright. I’ll leave the word ‘dated’ aside because you do have a valid point Henry that casuals don’t care about the Contest’s music getting better or worse. I’ve also posted on this site previously this year asking if “dated” was a bit of a weak argument.

      My problem with Russia is that it’s style is comparable to a number of Eurovision entries in the late 2000s that all did well but none of them actually won. What’s more, once juries were re-introduced, the overall style seemed to be drowned in the river quite quickly. That is an issue because it means we don’t have a lot to measure this kind of song by with juries other than Sakis in 2009. I distinctly remember thinking at the time, that that song was overrated and I knew he was a rubbish singer. He was vocally supported on stage in Moscow to the point where he was all but drowned out while occupied with a performance that smacked of desperation to win.

      Sergey is a solid vocalist, and his song is better than Sakis’ was. Even if they both had been entered in 2009, I’d be saying Sergey would do better, so I don’t think Sergey’s jury score will be outside of the top 10 as Sakis jury score was.

      Now, with the same composers and choreographer, it’s all too easy to think that Sergey’s presentation will end up like Sakis, Ani Lorak, Dmitry Koldun, Farid or the Tolmachevys. We know what to expect from this choreographer, Fokas. It’s always something really memorable even if it looks kind of naff at first. I will be very surprised if they have recruited this man only to end up with a performance that relies solely on motion graphics, because that’s not something Fokas has ever done before. It’s not his style.

      What I could see for Russia is something like plexiglass tiles and props around the stage with holographic projections inside them, combined with a more physical choreography. Something with a lot of action but use of technology to give it an edge, rather than technology as the main feature.

      So, the question is, how thoroughly impressive can Sergey’s performance be? What is the avenue of staging that they can go down to make this song go one step further than over the top dance stomper with a gimmicky prop or theatrical dancing – to something that genuinely wows the continent? Can this sort of package win Eurovision now, when it could only come close in the previous decade? For all the talk of “dream team”, they haven’t actually got a single win under their belt.

      I personally suspect that Russia’s partly forced odds have influenced the thinking too much, and is making it appear a stronger entry than it is. I can see it finishing as low as 8th overall. If it does win, I think it will be safe to say it wins by default, by virtue of nobody else delivering the goods.

      So all we can do is wait for rehearsals. I think it’s impossible to predict a winner at the moment. It’s too close.

  • Alpie

    Speaking frankly, the russian song is a like a drum beat repeating whole song session and I cant tolerate it to listen three times in a row. However, it will be placed in Top 4 due to diaspora voting.

    Sometimes you do not need a staging stuff if you have a good song and vocal as in the case of Lena and Conchita. You just stand there and sing with a ultimate skill.

    Serbia has such a song and vocal to win this year imo. The dark dog after Conchita. Sounds good to you too?

  • Henry VIII

    Wolf good point about Farid. He was also quite nervous. Of course Juries also had Mans and his innovative staging first. So if the Russians can come up with something innovative it may even be a jury first. I didn’t even consider that. Although I think it could win even without jury 12s.

    I haven’t been following the western propaganda (BBC etc). I believe that Russia is constantly slated, but it was last year too and that didn’t stop a great result. I don’t know if it’s any worse now?

    • eurovicious

      BBC isn’t anti-Russian propaganda. Their pro-Royal, pro-EU and anti-Scots independence biases are other (domestic) matters, but there’s no spin when it comes to their reporting of Russia. The Kremlin loves to make out that Russia is a victim and the rest of the world has it in for them.

      • Henry VIII

        I caught something on BBC news a few months ago, I forget what exactly but it was uncontroversial news, or should have been. Something like this:
        “The womens’ basketball championship gets underway in Moscow today, that is if Putin doesn’t rape and murder the competitors.”

        Now obviously it wasn’t that ridiculous but I use that as an example because it did have that emotional punch. To me anyway. I thought that the people watching can’t have been shocked by that report, the BBC obviously weren’t shocked, and this must be because of long term conditioning, ie a constant stream of such-like.

  • Henry VIII

    Alpie Serbia sounds great to me. It didn’t look good at first, in fact I thought it looked awful. But she’s recently calmed down her presentation while retaining the power. There could be a bit of value LPM 40 from recent plunges in others.

    • Black n Blue

      Agreed Henry. Serbia are among the best this year. Here’s a recent performance she gave:

        • John

          Serbia are a tricky one. They have regional support which could guarantee them some votes, along with some understandable jury love, but I’m not sold on the song’s televote appeal.

          It’s most comparable to Maja Keuc’s entry for Slovenia in 2011, which with jurys was SF (1st) and F (4th) but finished a paltry 23rd in the final televote. The songs have similar singers, vocals, slightly dark themes and tempo, but except for some neighbourly love I fail to see how it will do particularly well. Top 15 looks like a ceiling for me unless something truly special happens

          • Maja Keuc is a good comparison for style. However, I think Sanja’s song is more internationally accessible, better written and structured, and is more emotive with a better climax. Maja’s televote may also have suffered because it came right after Ell and Nikki in the running order.

            I’m convinced Serbia will be in the jury top 5 this year but I don’t think there’s anything there that’s going to heavily alienate televoters. Sanja has a lot of personality and the song is more about… *ding ding* – overcoming adversity. Whereas ‘No One’ was a bit more of a sassy “you blew your chance with this piece of ass” sort of song. I know that sounds silly but this is music we’re talking about, not sport. It’s a subjective, emotional topic and can’t always be measured exclusively by facts and statistics.

            I’m not sure it will win because I didn’t sense that it would at first. But with all the uncertainty, I’m keeping an eye on it because it’s very accessible, emotional with a rousing climax and its bluesy style is timeless. It ticks some boxes I look for in winners, on paper.

          • Henry VIII

            There are critical differences with Maja Keuc. That was more of a sexy teenager thing but also she was nervous, not overtly but enough imo to be picked up subconsciously by viewers. Whereas Sanja’s body language says that she’s enjoying her performance.

  • Alpie

    She doesn’t need a heavy make up. Being natural is enough for the song.

  • Henry VIII

    Are you in love with her Alpie? You shouldn’t bet based on your infatuations.

  • Henry VIII

    So nobody disputes my comment that Russia have sent the perfect package and are going to win easily.

    I guess that’s why they are still constantly shortening.

    • Ande

      How can you dispute something you haven’t seen?

      • Henry VIII

        To dispute a comment means you are arguing against it.

        • Ande

          Well unless you have seen Russias Eurovision staging it’s easy to dismiss your arguments. Most of Sergeys live concerts are untasteful by Eurovision standards and Fokas Evagelinos has been hit or miss with proneness to oversexualizing his stage shows (turning off juries). Of all the Fokas Eurovision stagings so far only Russias and Ukraines from 2008 would come close to enough for victory in 2016.

    • Christian

      Russia have drifted from 2.64 to their current position, so it’s not correct to say they’re constantly shortening. Also as far as I can see there’s very little info regarding exactly what they are sending. All his previews have been based round that ridiculous 1990’s choreography, which I don’t see them ditching

      • Henry VIII

        They were traded for large amounts at 3.65 on the 19th. Since then, for the last 8 days, they have been constantly shortening. LPM 3.15.

        Sergey said they wouldn’t be using that staging, but I wouldn’t see it as that much of a negative even if they did. They are using “high tech” staging.

        • Christian

          There has only been a total of £600 bet on them in total at that price and some of it was weeks ago

          • Henry VIII

            A big chunk was that day. Anyway this one price is irrelevant, thousands were bet on Russia that day and every day since.

    • johnkef

      Russia has less flaws than all the other participants, but it’s not the final product. We haven’t seen the package yet. Let’s say that is a 3000m race and Russia is ahead 10-15m when the bell for the final lap rings. But still has 4 hurdles to overcome without falling and the other runners have a strategy for the win too.

  • In truth, Russia’s odds haven’t really moved at all in a week…..all around 6-4 to 2-1….there’s only one market mover at the moment and that is Bulgaria…..down from 22,, 25s overnight to 14s, possibly soon to leap over Sweden in the rankings.

  • LWFA

    OK. Let’s remember Mans didn’t win the televote last year. Knowing that…
    – Sergey’s song is less radio-friendly / modern / mainstream than Mans’
    – Sergey is not half as likable (on screen) as Mans (that close-up shot of Mans made some ovaries explode last year) – in Eurovision being likable is half the battle (see all the manic pixies, Mans, Rybak, Conchita, etc. from last years)
    – The rumours of the visual concept of Sergey’s staging (big props & high-impact back-up dancer choreography) is garish and cringe in 2016.

    In additition
    – Some juries (hello, Baltics) will probably once again down-vote Russia
    – Presence of a song called 1944 MIGHT put off some people from voting for Russia.

    HENCE, I don’t see how Sergey could win tele and / or jury vote.

    With all that… I don’t have a candidate (yet) pre-rehearsals that could take the trophy in Sergey’s stead.

    • LWFA

      Of course, I detest the very idea of Russia lifting that trophy so excuse the bias.

    • Henry VIII

      Interesting points LWFA, and I don’t mind bias if you’re honest about it.

      Mans is a good comparison. I would say that Sergey doesn’t have 2 very strong opponents like Mans had. Also, Sweden has a lot of vote strength but Russia has more.

      I think they’re both likable but Sergey even more so.

      The scoring is much more straightfoward this year and a bad jury score can’t negate a good public one. There will be two set of points, jury and televote, added together at the end. This will benefit Russia over the other countries compared to last year.

      Last year there was one combined set of points. It was an unnecessarily complex system last year with rankings created.

      Baltic rankings of Russia 2015 out of 27 countries:

      Estonia
      Jury ranking 3rd
      Televote ranking 1st
      Combined ranking 1st
      Points given 12

      Latvia
      Jury ranking 5th
      Televote ranking 1st
      Combined ranking 2nd
      Points given 10

      Lithuania
      Jury ranking 20th
      Televote ranking 3rd
      Combined ranking 11th
      Points given 0

      So this year instead of 3 sets of points from the Baltics Russia will get 6 sets and, based on last year’s rankings, do vastly better than just doubling might indicate.

  • Hippo

    I wouldn’t mind Russia to win. It would make an interesting change to Scandinavia or Central Europe for an Eastern country to win again but I understand why many -jurors included- wouldn’t be as keen.

    The market’s been in a real mess this year – hello third favourites Bulgaria – but I think Russia may be just about accurate: They’re the most likely winners but it’s more likely another country pips them to it.
    It does worry me that the song is dated- not because voters are bothered about that and will actively seek something more cutting edge, just because general music taste has moved on. And yeah, there’s close to zero emotional appeal (in the song itself, video or preview performances).
    Until we see what ‘high technology ‘ actually means and how it’s used I’m unconvinced Russia have this in the bag, though a high finish is guaranteed.

  • Ande

    I’ve been reevauating Russia but still come to the conclusion that there are more similarities with Sweden 2011 than there are differences.

    Similarities with Sweden 2011:
    = Cool
    = Catchy
    = Uplifting
    = Boyband vibe
    = Slightly dated
    = Trivial uptempo song
    = Not emotionally driven
    = Reliant on choreography
    = Reliant on stage gimmics

    Advantages/disadvantages compared to Sweden 2011:
    – More dated song
    – 5 years has passed
    – Less charismatic singer
    – Less female/children appeal
    – Tatoos (shouldn’t matter too much)

    + Diaspora
    + Better draw
    + Better voice
    + More gay/male appeal
    + Benefits from change in voting system
    + Jury friendly message (love vs popularity)

    So what is the main difference enabling Russia to win in 2016 when Sweden couldn’t in 2011?

    • Henry VIII

      But Eric did very well from slot 7. And I think your advantages of Sergey are big ones, great voice and vibrato. Eric wasn’t a good singer. Eric’s main line “I will be popular” is rather pathetic, a boy scorned.

      • Milton

        I will be popular is rather pathetic for sure, but is ‘thunder and lightning etc’ any better?

        What makes you think the new voting system will favour Russia? According to the spreadsheets that Songfestivalwerk! kindly shared Russia would have come 6th instead of 7th in 2014, but they would have come 3rd instead of 2nd last year if the new voting system had been in place.

        • Mr Wolf

          Imo “You’re the only one” beats both “Popular” and “This is our night” by a mile.
          The latter two were extremly lame and unoriginal while Sergey (besides its dated feel) offers at least something more general and comprehensive to wider audience.

          “Popular” vs “You’re the only one” is like a cheesy Hollywood teen movie (while ok, it was mixed with great “Spartan” warrior action which Slavic and Balkans like, but the overall impression was too generic imo)
          with a good-looking guy vs action blockbuster (Transformers lol) with special effects, which may unite whole family and get some praise from critics because of its great effects and decent acting works and bearable script (not the case of Transformers lol).
          And in terms of entertainment the latter should work pretty well for Saturday night televiewer.
          But of course, it’s a song contest and while the overall package may be strong, something simpler may give you a stronger and more positive emotional impact..

          While we can analyze or compere some disturbing or concerning details in Russia, the overall impression is what really counts in the end and I find it much stronger in the case of Sergey than with the examples from the past.

          Russia is strong and is going to win IF something stronger isn’t going to emerge.
          France has stronger studio version and would win if the competition would be between Youtube versions, but in the end the winner is going to be picked on the basis of live impression.

          And yes, we actually don’t know exactly what the hell are we talking about in case of Russia, because we really haven’t see the finished package yet.

          “Thunder and lightning” is ok for entertainment, especially if its supported by effects.

          • I think all these three entries, Greece 2009, Sweden 2011 and Russia 2016, are dated eurotrash. Musically they aren’t innovative at all. It’s like typical Eurovision formula being applied so perfectly, that as a result the final total package is a huge pastiche.

            Eurovision has proven in recent years that it can embrace authentic, innovative, a-typical songs. Think about France 2009, Belgium 2010, Germany 2010, Germany 2011, Italy 2011, Albania 2012, Sweden 2012, Netherlands 2013, Hungary 2013, Norway 2013, Netherlands 2014, Norway 2014, Norway 2015, Latvia 2015.

            Also, in a way I think Russia big sister, Ukraine, tends to send more artistically relevant entries that are in many ways much ‘purer’ and authentic. But then again, that’s my personal opinion.

          • Mr Wolf

            I agree.
            I would like to see more current and innovative winner as well and it would probably do good for the contest also.
            Thats why I think France would be a good winner for 2016.
            We’ll see what the common sense will be, overall music indrusty and Eurovision trends in last couple of years would support the chance for something more radio-friendly, different or current to win.

    • Alpie

      @Ande you seem to have a good pair of ears. Could you outline similarities and differences between “A Million Voices” and “Goodbye(Shelter)” if any ?

      • Ande

        Beyond the obvious I see more differences than similarities between the two. Most importantly “A Million Voices” uses more elaborate extortion techniques while “Goodbye(Shelter)” is more resolute and righteous in nature. Unfortunately the formers USP of emotional blackmail and unscrupulous abuse of high notes has a much easier time of converting support into televotes.

        I’ll try to think of an entry more comparable to Serbias. Johns suggestion of “No One” from 2011 is not a bad one although I do feel “Goodbye(Shelter)” has more potential.

      • Brittany

        Was not a fan of “A Million Voices”, but I love “Goodbye (Shelter)”. Although not similar to Alyosha’s “Sweet People” for Ukraine in 2010, this year’s Serbian entry does put me in mind of “Sweet People” in that she will sing the pants off it and be very impressive. Feels like a definite top 10 at the very least.

  • Alpie

    When asked Lazarev about the staging by a wiwiblogger:

    “The 33-year-old singer didn’t reveal any secrets, but he did say that there will be some very physical requirements that will stretch him to the limit and require a great deal of endurance”.

  • Henry VIII

    I’ve just seen Ben’s post way up above. Of course we have to wait and see ultimately but whereas they may not produce a particularly enhancing staging I can’t see them producing anything that could take away the power of the song.

    Why do you say Russia’s odds are “forced”?

    • I’m referring to the bot that has been mentioned numerous times on esctips.

      Interestingly enough, wiwibloggs have posted today that Sergey has described his performance as very physical.
      http://wiwibloggs.com/2016/04/28/sergey-lazarev-promises-physical-eurovision-2016-performance-live-chat-odnoklassniki/139444/

      If I’m right about holograms inside plexiglass combined with more physical Fokas’ style choreography, I want cookies.

      I think there is every possibility that the Russian package will be very strong, but not something that will motivate votes and connect with people. It lacks depth. Until it proves itself in that area, it can’t be said that it is perfect and will win easily.

      • Henry VIII

        I’m doubtful about this bot. But anyway a bot is directed by a punter. (If it’s a rogue bot the market quickly corrects).

        Sergey is a bit of a gymnast. He’s also a strong personality so I would presume would only agree to decent staging.

        A mark of 97/100 so far and an easy win so far. The staging will probably make it 100/100.

  • Slowdownbrother

    Latvia vs Serbia now open on betfair for those who are interested.

  • Ben Cook

    Bulgaria’s coming in very quickly today..?

  • Douwe Bob’s last performance before he leaves to Stockcity tomorrow :-):
    http://dewerelddraaitdoor.vara.nl/media/356561

  • And don’t underestimate the Dutch neighbours…Belgium. Is Laura a dark horse?

    • Hippo

      To win? No.
      For a top ten? I doubt it but maybe.

    • KeyserSoze

      Laugh all you want, I got Belgium to win semi 2 @20. I am dead serious.
      Every single person outside the ESC bubble loved it. It’s doing fantastically in those preview panels. And for some reason I have a feeling the East will love it..

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hi Songfestivalwerk! and KeyserSoze, I’m with both of you re Belgium. The 2 song-performances I loved from first perusal a month or so ago (as I mentioned on the site) were France and Belgium, in that order. (With the Ukranian song-performance being the one that strangely enraptures me)

        I didn’t and haven’t put a penny on France at the then 20s (or any other price since) for reasons I still can’t put my finger on.

        More daft still, I have £255 from a bet a few weeks ago running onto…Sweden to win Eurovision! Hahaha! I f***ing hate the Swedish entry! A £5 win double! Have to laugh and cringe as I watch Sweden ever drift on oddschecker.

        Last year I immediately loved Aminata; this year it was Amir, but Laura ran him a closish second.

        A comparison with Basim’s Cliché Love Song from a couple of years ago might be instructive?

        As I recall, Basim’s song was trading at single figure odds when it first appeared and had people tipping it for win.

        Is there anyone who liked Cliché Love Song, who doesn’t like What’s The Pressure?

        Personally, I hated Cliché Love Song but love What’s The Pressure.

        I enjoy Laura’s What’s The Pressure similar to how I dug Guy’s Tonight Again from last year.

        Belgium’s entry is dated, perhaps; cheesy, joyously yes.

        But the fresh, cute and radiant Laura is not a performer I would dismiss lightly and nor would I easily mock what is probably the best dance song in the contest.

        Imagine you were a DJ and had to select a EV song to get people up on the dancefloor; or a choreographer who had to set a dance routine to one EV song. Which one would you choose?

        I’s add that if Donny is the best male dancer in the contest, I’d guess that Laura is the best female mover there.

        Just saying that I’m confused why the oddsmakers and many EV expert backers seem, imo, to be under-rating it?

        What is soooo bad about it?

        • eurovicious

          I disliked Cliche Love Song but I dislike the cloying, half-assed WTP even more strongly. Everything about it reeks of “will this do?” – it’s not Tonight Again (which I liked), it’s not Uptown Funk, it’s not Sax, it’s not Bruno Mars, it’s not even Basim, it’s a bucket of shite that someone’s chucked a Glade air-freshener in to sweeten the smell slightly. I can’t hear it without seeing an array of sofas being double-discounted to £399 flash before my mind’s eye. It’s gratingly twee, woefully underwritten (especially the chorus) and offensive to all 5 senses.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Funny stuff, ev, and if I’m laughing, which I am, it must be because there’s at minimum grains of truth in what you say.

            It’s a big point that the Belgium package lacks credibility, given how well Loic and Aminata did last year.

            That it attracts obvious comparisons so readily is also a negative for it.

            I do wonder, however, if the Junior Eurovision label it has attracted is incorrectly being seen as a negative.

            The Hannah Montana young girl as grown up popstar trope can prove a v popular one.

            A catch uplifting song, with an engaging performer (who’s a good singer) who will get your foot tapping on a Saturday night ticks a lot of boxes for me.

            The more mature, slinky and womanly Barei, in her own way, does something similar, with only Spain’s inane chorus letting the package down.

            At the prices, Belgium for Top 10 interests me.

            As does Croatia, which for a Top 10 may have drifted into the value range. I recognised last month from watching one of Nina’s videos that she frankly just wasn’t telegenic nor someone who looks comfortable in their skin. An emo grade B pixie girl.

            Still, with careful lighting work and clever staging that can somewhat be overcome, and after all the quality of her voice is magnificent and the song is beautiful, if a touch too ethereal.

            Jury love a certainty?

            Croatia was underpriced but now may be overpriced?

          • Ande

            Woah! Did you just call Barei slinky?

            You’re ravaging today Guildo, ‘Emo Grade B Pixie Girl’ is on point!

        • Ande

          Belgium does have the best backing dancers and most cheerful MPDG in the competition!

          Has fondness captivated your once cold and calculating minds?

          • eurovicious

            The D stands for despair. The fact someone made this proves my point. It’s inane ad music. Home suicide kit €179.99.

      • Boki

        @Keyser: joke or not it’s a bad one since Belgium is 51 to win the semi at several bookies.

      • Chris Bellis

        I’ve said this before, but every year this site has a most disliked country. Usually it’s Sweden, and that’s partly true this year too, but most hatred is reserved for Belgium this year. Judging by my non-eurovision-fan friends and relatives, it will do quite well and is value from a betting point of view. Personally I can’t see why Belgium’s song is any more naff than several others, including Russia’s.

    • Alpie

      I can buy a eurovision cd to just listen this song in my car. Absolutely good one. Can it make into Top10?

  • Hippo

    Bulgaria lpm:17
    Italy lpm: 20
    Malta: lpm 16

    I get the Bulgaria and Italy ones as they’ve been tipped recently but it seems like an overreaction. Malta though? I can’t find any reason on that moving so suddenly.
    Either someone knows a lot we don’t on these or someone knows nothing at all to be backing so short.

    • It’s a huge overreaction. Although I understand Italy a bit. The staging concept with planting seeds sounds interesting.

      Overall, I stand with my comments so far:

      Bulgaria: Modern pop entry, but it lacks a certain feelgood charm or sparkle that I find with Latvia, Sweden or France. The music from the studio version to me also sounds a bit…childish. The computerized vocals on the backing tape sound annoying to me. Some chances towards the lower ends of TOP 13.

      Italy: Won-der-ful song. I love it. But, I think the slightly weaker link is Fransesca’s rather icy looks. Although I personally like to see her perform, she’s not engaging enough with audiences and camera’s. That will hinder its chances for TOP 3. Also some chances to the lower ends of TOP 13.

      • eurovicious

        Poli is great, but the song is totally generic without having anything special about it – and I don’t think it allows her to come through as an artist and personality the way her past songs have.

        • Personally I’d be more than happy with a surprise Bulgaria win, but my gut says it’s not gonna happen. The song has strengths (and a few weaknesses, mainly the daft chorus lyric) but I’m not really seeing anything that would carry it to the winning position.

      • Ande

        In my book Bulgarias entry has winning potential but is more likely to end up 13-ish than top 5. With this type of song it’s beyond challenging to achieve a technically impressive production while still keeping her emotionally exposed and accessible.

  • PurpleKylie

    The juries are now out. I also noticed this from the official site: http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=here_are_the_judges_for_eurovision_2016

    “Each jury member is asked to evaluate the vocal capacity, the performance on stage, the composition and originality of the song and the overall impression by the act”

    Notice how there’s no mention of “hit potential” there…

  • Got buried a bit, above. Anyone else think that “Slow Down” sounds like a cheesy theme song to a bad 1980’s buddy movie/tv series.

    As I quickly demonstrate here:

  • eurovicious

    Am I alone in thinking Israel could do extremely well?

  • Christian

    WOW guys, what happening with the price on France?
    Huge gambling in the last hours since 6pm. I think there is knowledge that we yet to find out. Hope everyone is safe in the market and not be taking huge hit

  • Avitas

    Sweden’s preview jury praised the French song as I’ve never heard before 39/40 points (they also “predicted” Conchita). I think it’s interesting as it’s some kind of “out of the bubble” validation from typical jury members (Helena P was there).

    • Henry VIII

      I think the panel – all MF entrants, and the viewers – ESC fans, are in the bubble. That’s not to ignore them.

      • Henry VIII

        When I said viewers I was thinking of the people who go to the SVT website and click on ESC polls. I’d say they were in the bubble. I don’t know what viewership these programs get.

        • Avitas

          Yes all of us following, watching and voting are in a eurovision bubble, but there are different types of bubbles. The NF season, OGAE, youtube bubble has taken to France. The fact that the next level of enthusiasts confirm the Amir appeal is somewhat reassuring (dare I dream of the unthinkable?!?). Especially if the other bubble is more luke warm to Russia (we know Russia ticks the hard core ESC fan boxes) and discrepancies between the bubbles with regards to Russia could, maybe, indicate France’s more general appeal.

          • Christian

            Huge numbers are to be voting in these online polls,we maybe seeing that this will be same also as televoting %. Amir is very high in both juries vote and that of the viewing vote. If everything is equal in staging I think he may win easy after seeing this. The video preview of the russian show is very good so will probably disappoint in Live version. I think I need to work some of the overtime to gather money to be backing France more

          • Ande

            Yes this is assuring but once again they specifically mentioned wanting to see a live performance while giving the music video a grade of 39/40.

    • Santiago Kippax

      Not only is it a validation from ‘typical jury members’ such as Helena. One of the panelists actually IS a member of the swedish jury (very strange IMO to emerge in a show like this when you´re also a member of the national jury), and like the rest of the panel she (Wiktoria) seemed to be totally in love with Amir, giving him 10/10. I never liked the song myself, and I have hitherto not been rating it very high in terms of winning the whole thing, mainly because his vocal capacity apparently is quite limited, which will possibly turn the last minute of the song into some kind of a karaoke moment. Furthermore, I have not the slightest belief in the french team´s ability to make this look like a winner on stage, and the song structure and repetiveness are also quite obvious appeal points (in the meaning that it´s making it less appealing for both juries and televoters).

      However, when an actual member of the swedish jury is praising Amir and his song to the skies in a preshow like this, I am starting to get a bit worried that I have been in denial since the moment France started shortening. Besides, a panel/show that called Conchita BEFORE the rehearsals started (not the same panelists though), really deserves to be respected.

      For the record, Russia received 27/40 from the swedish panel consisting of Helena P, Oscar Zia, Wictoria and the Panetoz guy, placing 8th with the panel in semi 1. Wictoria gave it 6/10.

      So far Wiktoria´s scores have been as follow:

      France 10/10
      Malta 8/10
      Hungary 8/10
      Azerbaijan 8/10
      Estonia 7/10
      Czech Rep 7/10
      Finland 7/10
      Italy 6/10
      Russia 6/10
      Croatia 5/10
      Armenia 5/10
      Iceland 5/10
      Cyprus 5/10
      UK 4/10
      Moldova 4/10
      Bosnia-Hercegovina 4/10
      Austria 2/10
      Netherlands 2/10
      San Marino 1/10
      Greece 1/10
      Montenegro 0/10

      • Christian

        Thank you very much for posting of Wiktorias scoring Santiago. I hadn’t realised how lowly she had rated the Russian. It’s a very good indication of things to be comiing. I have no idea why the Russian is so highly rated in the betting odds, it’s not for me this song

        • Bear in mind that the juries will have to also take into account the performance of the singer and the overall impression of the song. Therefore, staging could turn these rankings on their head.

          Not to say these are not a useful indicator, it is interesting to see how one juror thinks, but a lot can change on the stage.

        • Ben Cook

          Isn’t it just an indication of how one of the 210 jurors will vote?

          • If Amir’s staging is underwhelming and Malta’s is top notch, the rules state that she must change her opinion. 🙂

          • Ande

            Sure, France may stumble with staging and be knocked down a few places on her list. On the other hand it’s much or less certain that Sergey can’t outperform his music video.

          • Walrus

            That is why the relevance of these rankings is to be taken with a pinch of salt. If things can change, so can the rankings. Changing your book based solely on this is borderline crazy.

  • Alpie

    @Daniel, are you living a deja vu by pointing out Sweden, Russia and Australia again this year?

  • Mr Wolf

    Germany has been trading around 10-11 in Betfair TOP10 market.
    I rather can’t see it happening since they really don’t seem to be trying and probably there isn’t going to be a positive turnaround in stage presence/staging/performance and it actually hasn’t received any positive pre-contest attention so far (but then again, so hasn’t Frans), but still.
    If we wouldn’t know anything about the failed staging, it could be perceived as a potential dark horse.
    Yes, the overall impression is pretty awful (much potential, but almost impossible to connect with) but the song itself is pretty original and current (with emotional impact).
    May there be a value to find?
    Last year 10th place needed only 53 points (year before 74 points). Germany doesn’t have diaspora votes to count on, but decent jury score would do the job.
    Just something to think about.

  • I think it’s dangerous to pick one item of looks in a particular entry and then completely cancel it out for any kind of success. For me personally I am by no means irritated or I don’t get any offputting feeling from Jamie-Lee. Her looks in a way suit her performances very well. And I have that feeling when I watch this wonderful performance of “Ghost”. Jamie-Lee is a great singer, who apparently goes so easily from crisp and clear low vocals to high-pitched vocals. She has plentiful charisma:

    In a way she reminds me a bit of Bye-Alex for Hungary back in 2013. Or what about Conchita’s beard back in 2014. During the pre-contest period punters were already cancelling these entries out. I didn’t. And so it happened that during rehearsals people jumped onboard again.

    Sometimes people have the ability to forget certain aspects of looks. If it’s a beard, or big glasses, or a weird manga-dollhouse-hairpiece….sometimes the song is simply good enough, or people tend to buy the total package anyway. Germany will do well….and won’t be in the Bottom 10 this year….that’s what my feeling says. So I prefer betting the TOP 15 market heavily. There will be quite a lot of profits for people there :-).

    • eurovicious

      Yes, it’s one of the best, most emotive and most relevant songs in a very lackluster year, and the vague vibe that it doesn’t look quite right or isn’t likely to be staged that well isn’t reason enough to write off something this strong. This and Israel (Sam Smith via Conchita) are absolutely my dark horses.

    • Henry VIII

      I wonder why she likes looking a total mess when she’s naturally pretty.

      • eurovicious

        Because she’s not trying to please men.

        • Well she ought to be. If you’re going to ESC you should try to please everybody.

          • Christian

            I’m thinking men who care of her appearance would be very unlikely to be voters in this. I’m surprised you are so unaware of these facts Henry 8th

          • eurovicious

            She looks the way she wants to look. Conchita wasn’t trying to please men or women either. One recalls the legions of internet commentators saying she should shave her beard off. And Marija Serifovic won dressed as a grumpy middle-manager with a bad bowl-cut. Loreen won in a massive coat with her hair over her face.

          • Henry VIII

            LOL grumpy middle-manager. Look how different she looks here
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9VPfTildCQ

            But more to the point, Serbia this year are trying to repeat some of that magic with 4 backing girl singers coming in around Samja in the same way for a climactic ending.

          • Speaking as a straight man, I’ll say that of my personal favourites among the female acts (Iceland, Ukraine, Italy) none of them seem to be dressing in a style that goes out of its way to appeal to my demographic. It’s almost as if this is a song contest rather than a beauty contest.

          • Ande

            Soë has a suitable song and succesfully pulls off the “please men route”. Still the presentation might be too girly to have a large impact. Generally speaking I think most acts would loose more juryvotes than they’d gain televotes using a sensual presentation.

    • Mr Wolf

      But her Japanese style and “The Hour of the Wolf backround” probably won’t be the thing for the song (for the masses).
      The official video atmosphere is almost perfect, it’s enigmatic, intimate, carries the song and evokes “popular feelings” and feels current. Tension is retained till the end of the song.
      The national final performance is a mess. It’s static and bland. The backround, her style and the song just doesn’t match and the mix of all of it doesn’t evoke “popular emotions”. There’s no tension and the song falls into “friend zone” for most of people.
      After all, how people perceive the song and what they are feeling and if they can connect with it, is going to be crucial factor.
      I see that some of you think that her style isn’t going to be disruptive factor, but I think it’s rather more than Maraaya’s headphones last year (at least for the masses and potential target group) (ByeAlex weirdness was “trendy kind of weirdness”, I rather don’t see her Japanese style having appeal along Europeans, as has been the case with Hannah Montana kind of entries in Eurovision (and “Ghost” song itself hasn’t any connection with Japanese style, thats why the whole package isn’t perceived stylish)).
      But still, since the base (emotional hook and feel) is good and the composition original, I think it has a potential to reach to the left side of the scoreboard.

  • Chris Bellis

    Just been looking at some you tube videos of Amir doing acoustic versions of various songs, includings his Euro entry, and he’s not half bad, and he’s very appealing. I can see the attraction.

  • Alpie

    The 3rd Edition of Eurojury results: 1. France 2.Australia 3.Spain 4.Sweden 5.Ukraine

  • LWFA

    Having the feeling alea iacta est and there’s nothing stopping Russia now. France will have a shit live show & passable live vocals and we know it. Russia has diaspora, money, allies and now… a dated schlagerbanger charting (low, but still) in the nordics http://esctracker.com/ .

    Fuck me. This is so sad.

    • Henry VIII

      Et tu, Norway? Transivimus Rubiconem.

    • Christian

      Amir is above him in every Nordic chart so i’m unsure of the relevant nature of your post?

      • Walrus

        I am struggling to see the relevance of your posts in which you defend France to the point of gently modifying the facts.

        • Christian

          I know nothing of what you say. i’m not here to defend France but I posted facts

          • Ande

            Walrus is saying Russia is above France in Norway.

          • Mr Wolf

            Actually no.
            At the time of Christian’s writing, France was ahead of Russia in Norway. As it is now. It outperformed France only for a short period of time.
            France has been more succesful than Italy in Sweden as well since Saturday morning.
            So, I rather see strong bias in Walrus postes.
            I think for now every reasonable person has realised/concluded that when the competition would be between studio/Youtube versions, then France would win the competition.
            That’s not even questionable, so the discussions around France song qualities, “fanwankyness” etc aren’t very current anymore. Now we have to just wait and see what France and others offers us on stage. Cards can change.

          • Ande

            So true Mr Wolf, Walrus seems to be very anti France.

          • Henry VIII

            The following is false. And arrogant, which is a danger for betting.

            “I think for now every reasonable person has realised/concluded that when the competition would be between studio/Youtube versions, then France would win the competition.
            That’s not even questionable, …”

          • Mr Wolf

            Arrogant, but true.
            France stats are recond-breaking and there’s solid confirmation from jury-side (music indrusty professionals; too add to the publicly available SVT and National Jury panels etc, as I have mentioned earlier, I’m in music indrusty as well and been the main tour promoter for several past Eurovision artists also) and public side (polls, charts, feedback from non-Eurovision fans).

            But as repeatedly discussed, live performance is different from studio version, and the odds may change after rehearsals and semi-finals.
            I didn’t state that the fact that France would be the winner with his studio version, should be the indicator how to behave in betting markets. My statement was that the France studio version has received positive consensus literally from all over the continent (both jury and public side). And the discussion about “J’ai Cherché” being good or bad/wide appeal or not/fanwank or not from objective point of view is obsolete.
            We already know that it’s very well perceived and people love the studio version more than any of the others. There’s nothing to argue about that.
            Reasonable argument against France is that they may fail with the stage performance, considering the uncertaintes with vocals and French/big nations arrogance with staging (and France past record with amateurish stage productions).
            Bettor must consider all of this as well. The fact that France won the pre-contest doesn’t give any certaintes that they’re going to win on 14th, since the determining factor is going to be the overall impression on stage.
            They have a very good base to win, but thats all for the moment from bettors point of view.

            Although, since they’re pre-contest favourites, I would really expect from France that they have much more professional attitude this year and really trying to get this thing work on the stage.

          • Henry VIII

            I don’t think his voice is necessarily a critical problem. So he messes up the end a bit, worse vocalists have won or come top 3 if the song is motivating enough.

            But there have been many fan favourites with a big lead and support from former artists. They don’t all win, maybe roughly half do. So nothing new here, and no records broken.

            Also have you any evidence of support from the eastern countries?

          • Christian

            Thank you Mr Wolfe and Ande

          • Mr Wolf

            Which fan favourites do you mean? (with similar lead and music indrusty support)
            What do you mean that there are no records broken?
            I think the OGAE isn’t the only one where the record is broken..(I pointed out several impressive stats and indicators in one earlier post)..anyway are you seeing more similar pre-contest patterns with Rybak and Loreen or with Molly and Kati Wolf (which didn’t have the winning song box ticks from the beginning)?
            Were the false favourites charting impressively pre-contest?
            Which eastern countries do you mean?
            As I mentioned, it’s the only Eurovision song Russian radio stations are playing here in Estonia.
            ITunes presence in Russia and Belarus..
            I don’t understand why there should be concern about the East? It’s the kind of song they should like.
            I think the appeal should be about the same in East as Il Volo or Mans had there last year.
            Talking about vocals concerns..the problems Amir has had in most of his live performances are affecting his overall impression more than has been the case with weaker winning vocalists.
            As discussed before, Frans vocals aren’t affecting his chances in the same level because of the difference of the songs.

    • “France stats are recond-breaking and there’s solid confirmation from jury-side (music indrusty professionals; too add to the publicly available SVT and National Jury panels etc, as I have mentioned earlier, I’m in music indrusty as well and been the main tour promoter for several past Eurovision artists also) and public side (polls, charts, feedback from non-Eurovision fans).”

      What is record-breaking? Winning some polls? Any chance you are affiliated with the French entry and making noise in order for it to gain traction?

      “We already know that it’s very well perceived and people love the studio version more than any of the others. There’s nothing to argue about that”.

      Hard to quantify. Eurovoix has France winning by 2 points ahead of Australia. There are only 35 points in the OGAE poll between France and Russia

      “The fact that France won the pre-contest doesn’t give any certaintes that they’re going to win on 14th”

      What did France win pre-contest? It’s like saying, well, Manchester United had the best transfers, so they won the preseason, only to finish fifth in the real competition. Come on, they did not win a thing…

      “Although, since they’re pre-contest favourites, I would really expect from France”

      This is a betting site, not a fan site. Glancing at Betfair’s odds, Russia is currently the favourite, with France a close second. If this year’s market is to be trusted, it should have France the leader after Sergei’s first rehearsal, if it does not work to perfection. But be careful, mate, you have stated three times France has won or is first, when the rehearsals have not even started. That’s overrating the song and, yes, arrogance. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but you also need to have the facts supporting it. Failing to do so or saying that someone is biased for correcting your mistakes, well…

      • Mr Wolf

        Well, I don’t think this is useful discussion anymore.
        I have stated my detailed opinions many times already and it’s pointless to repeat them all over again every time.
        You’re repeatedly misinterpreting me and other people with your bias.
        1) I haven’t stated even once that France has won the competition. I just explained in my last post that rehearsals and semi-finals can change much and there’s nothing sure at this stage. The pre-contest winning statement was figurative to point out the astonishingly high praise France has received.
        I think considering the whole puzzle and information what is in our use, reasonable bettor would put his money on France, IF the competition would be between studio versions.
        2) Where did I state that France is nr 1 favourite at the moment? I’m not sure how is the most correct to express, but as naming them a favourite I meant they’re one of the favourites to win (which they are).
        I have stated many facts in my posts and I have also presented pro-Russian arguments and stated my own personal symphaty towards Latvia. Although I would like to see France as a winner, I’m here writing as a bettor (from objective point of view) and my subjective taste isn’t a matter for me.
        I’m just sharing my theories and observations. Since France wasn’t very well received here, I wanted to point out the pro-France arguments, to make people think.

        You’re mostly here correcting others, but what would be your own personal view and analyze of this year’s contest and odds?

        • Henry VIII

          Fair enough.

          But now please answer my post above. I’m interested in your opinion.

        • Ande

          Take a step back and relax a bit Mr Wolf.

          When you make bold statements it’s customary to bring supporting evidence and fact-check yourself. Not doing so will irritate people. For example, the only solid references to the claimed “record breaking appeal” is mentioning a few online polls, specifically OGAE. Loreen averaged 11.0 points in the OGAE poll 2012, Amir averages 10.1 at the moment. I have a hard time believing Amir is braking many of Loreen’s or Rybak’s records without you providing a direct comparison.

          Most importantly, when claiming others aren’t “reasonable” unless they come to the same conclusion as you you’re going much further than stating your observations. By indirectly insulting their intelligence you’re provoking adversaries into standing up for themeselves and “correct” you.

          I look forward to a more constructive future dialog.

          • Mr Wolf

            Ok, the OGAE poll example is my mistake, I didn’t take that close look in comparison.

            Here I have added the results from pre-contest polls etc:
            Eurovoix 12p
            Escextra 12p
            Oikopanel 12p
            Wiwibloggs Jury 10p
            Big Poll 12p
            OGAE 12p
            Escstats Pre-Chart 12p
            Itunes presence 12p
            … (+SVT panel for example)
            Most of them it has won with pretty impressive score (Eurovoix was close, yes).
            (People who have more knowledge on pre-polls side, can add here polls/indicators they have used. I think Youtube is much better indicator during the contest, pre-contest it hasn’t given very valuabe information for me at least)
            I actually haven’t mean by “record-breaking” it has to be one and only, just that the feedback has been in that level (Rybak and Loreen level), the appeal has been more universal than with false fan favourites.
            I usually haven’t used fan polls as an important indicator.
            I use my own gut, logic and knowledge about human emotions and perception and have done so far pretty well (correct winners 2011/2012/2013, 2014 I thought it’s gonna be The Netherlands after rehearsals (Armenia and Sweden seemed most impressive pre-contest), last year pre-contest Italy and Sweden, after rehearsal added Russia to be the third contender).
            Since my own gut and logic says that France is having really strong entry this year and they have a really good chance to win, I have highlighted comparable patterns with strong winners from the past, since it hasn’t gained much positive feedback here.

            But still, how many past pre-contest favourites have had that universal results with that high scores? If we combine all different sources..
            I didn’t get answer from Henry to question, which (false) fan favourites have reached to strong favorism from music indrusty before?
            I don’t find past records from all sources, but I guess Loreen gained slightly better pre-contest feedback, but still Amir result is one of the most outstanding ones.

          • Ande

            That’s better =)

            It’s quite difficult to quantify “universal appeal” but I believe Rybak and Loreen had more. Most recent pre-contest fan favorite already had a solid live version and won comfortably. More interesting is to analyze how recent fan favourites that lacked a solid live version faired. France were the pre-contest favorites in 2011 and flopped, while the UK and Azerbadjan were generally liked (UK flopped big time, Azerbadjan won). In 2014 Armenia was the pre-contest favorite and universal appeal didn’t stop him from flopping, Austria was liked in 2014 but was pre-contest generally considered dated, bland and gimmicky.

            The way I interpret this is that with the exception of a few proven countries (particularly Russia and Azerbadjan) it’s very dangerous to back an entry based on the studio versions potential. France is notably dodgy as they have proven able to screw up most of their recent Eurovision entries.

        • Said the man who one hour before stated that French is a language loved by everybody and Paris 2017 should be a thing and will be helped by the unconcious factors. Ok, I respect your point of view, but, man, you look like you are clinging for every aspect. If I did not know better, I would say it’s kind of an electoral campaign: vote for France for mayor! 🙂

          • Mr Wolf

            That wasn’t my personal statement, but just a flow of ideas I currently found myself having thinking about the subject.
            I’m just sharing my ideas man. I have my opinion, but I always try to maintain open-mindness about the subject.
            I just don’t find anti-France opinions very convincing besides the live performance side.
            I’m looking forward to hear your opinions and analyze on this year contest 🙂

          • I can respect an opinion, that’s the purpose of this comment section, but I can not understand when arguments like “I can’t find anti-France opinion convincing besides the performance live”. That’s the most important thing in the competition, for God’s sake. You can have a beautiful song, if you don’t perform it good, it will all go to shit pretty fast.

            Food for thought: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3frYx3FDQU

  • Santiago K

    The results of Norway´s preview show (3rd episode):

    (Maximum score 48 points)

    Azerbaijan 48 (!)
    France 42
    Malta 38
    Finlands 34
    Austria 31
    Russia 31
    FYROM 25
    Lithuania 22
    Hungary 10
    San Marino 9

    Russia is scoring quite low with 31 points out of 48, a similiar result to the 27/40 score Russia got in the swedish preview show last night. It´s also worth noting that Hungary is scoring surprisingly low, while France is once again doing quite well. It might be a wild guess, but I suspect that the sound of Samra´s live vocal has not yet reached those norwegian ears…

  • Chris Bellis

    This is an acoustic version from a couple of months ago, and he’s not bad vocally – as good as Mans at the same time last year before the final. Even more charming. He’s now had time to improve on the slightly shaky vocals, which in any case are as good as many contestants’.

  • Chris Bellis

    Henry – Thanks for the clip of Marija Serifovic. I was always rather amazed she was married at the time of her Eurovision success (hence the middle manager look), but she came out shortly after. Serbia (and Serbian enclaves like Bosnia, Montenegro etc) are far less homophobic these days, outside the Orthodox Church of course.

  • Has anybody seen the highly enjoyable Eurojury 2016 (http://www.eurovoix.com) results last night? Despite the delays due to technical issues, I was astonished about the professionality of it.

    Here is the full scoresheet of last night’s results. The countries that I gave green or orange colors are the ones I think will perform better or worse. Latvia’s results for example are quite a disproportional exception on what has to be realistically expected:

    http://i.imgur.com/Ivq9oJH.jpg

    Also, let’s not forget these so called ‘juries’ have mainly judged studio versions (I think). Countries like Armenia will probably surprise us with exceptional staging.

    What I do find interesting is some of the results of the preview shows (Serbia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Iceland) are being reflected in the jury score from Eurojury 2016. For instance, in the Serbian preview show of semi final 1 Netherlands was 4th. And some Balkan countries from Eurojury gave Netherlands 8 points.

    But more interestingly is Belgium. I think…..we have been hugely underestimating this entry.

  • Chris Bellis

    Songfestivalwerk!

    I wouldn’t say “hugely” underestimating, but as I’ve said before, this site has to have one scapegoat each year, usually Sweden. This year it’s Belgium, as picking San Marino would be like kicking a disabled busker and stealing the collection from his hat. I don’t like the Belgium entry much, but I think it will do a lot better than most people posting here give it credit for. We need to wait for rehearsals now when I may have to eat my words.

    • eurovicious

      Whereas San Marino’s entry embraces the inherent campness, drama and excess of disco (not to mention queerness and sensuality), Belgium’s entry is the most sexless slice of funkless funk in existence – right down to the end of the music video where she supposedly sprays a perfect graffitus of the song’s title on a wall in the studio, then pseudo-rebelliously throws the empty spray can away over her shoulder. Laura is so street, y’all. Zij is totaal straat. It’s emetic.

      • You don’t fancy buying a new three piece suite then? All stock MUST go this Bank Holiday weekend!!!!!

        • Chris Bellis

          Laura is borderline more irritating than that squeaky voiced girl on the SCS sofa adverts. That doesn’t mean she won’t do well, even with an irritating but catchy song. Good value now, if you gamble she can deliver a good performance.

          • Henry VIII

            This is the problem. Same song but female with a more mature and soulful voice and you’d have a contender.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            If it comes down to Laura’s ability to deliver a good performance, I’m happy to back Belgium for Top 10, and indeed have just done so. The odds seem large.

            I do acknowledge/get the she’s-too-young/a bit stage school/a bit Sonia-esque/little orphan Annie criticisms of her, but I wonder if that line of vibe is being over-exaggerated because last year’s Belgium entry was too cool for school?

            The vibe of the song is indeed “joy and hope” and for me a mega-watt smiling, bubbly, pretty teenage girl (that the camera likes) with a good voice and who’s a nice mover embodies that very well. She fits, and sells it.

      • Chris Bellis

        EV – You might be surprised but I agree. I would sooner listen to Serhat any day. But this is a betting site and I take account of the public taste. Remember, “no-one ever lost money under-estimating the intelligence of the…public”. (H L Mencken I think.)

  • Mr Wolf

    One other thing about France..I think that their success may be helped in some level by “social confirmation”.
    I mean..everybody loves French language and Paris..so if they have a really good and uplifting song (most of it in French)..why not to vote for them?
    Its cool, its hip. It sounds exciting. It triggers kind of social campaign (not in literal meaning), especially if they’re favourites against Russia.
    People don’t want Russia to win (besides because of the country, the song is also dated and represents old-school Eurovision schlager)/France win would be much cooler.
    Lets vote for France..#paris2017..Not only the song feels fresh..but the whole idea..France thing in Eurovision context. Who wouldn’t want to go to Paris (yes, there are terror threats) or see the contest happening in Paris..the Paris itself is a product.
    In unconcious level this may work in some degree if the overall impression stays likeable and they are known as pre-contest favourites (against Russia; confrontation effect).
    The song maybe wouldn’t work THAT well if it was presented by some other country.
    I don’t mean that directly because of the language, but because the above-mentioned gives unconciously the effect that makes the song more likeable from beginning, extends the imagination and romanticizes the act (also boosted by French culture linkage like it was the case with Il Volo last year, they’re both good mass products which are using likeable pieces from very likeable cultures).
    This theory may be too abstract and exaggerated, but something to think about.

  • Christian

    I think a lot that the reasons that France will do well for this year is that it is guaranteed a good running order. Bjorkman appreciates that France has tried hard this year and is not constrained by it’s semi final showing. He can place the French where he likes and it will be a good position I am most confident .
    Good luck to all in Stockholm for the show.Especially Tim with his new teeth to show show Amir, i’m thinking you might get lucky 😉

  • TikTok

    Let’s not forget that France has a new HoD. And from what i’ve read, France Televisions is taking the contest more seriously this year. They know they have a potential winner in their hands, so they’ll look into every detail regarding the staging. They just can’t let this slide away.
    I’m confident about France.

  • Brittany

    Christian, are the “big 5” not subjected to a draw to see which half of the final they get to perform in? I hadn’t realised that, if that is the case. Spain seems a natural opener to get everyone warmed up, or maybe Iceland (subject to qualification and then being drawn to perform in first half).

  • Christian

    He is only subject to 1st half or 2nd half. If he draws first half he will get a good position as he will in 2nd half. If he had been in semi and performed badly he would have got poor draw in final. Glad to be of help for you Brittany

  • Henry VIII

    This is important, hopefully someone knows more than me. AFAIK there is no first, second half draw for the final this year. Christer Björkman decides the whole thing (apart from Sweden slot 9).

  • PurpleKylie

    Jeez, reading the comments from the last day, makes me suggest I grab a guitar so we can all sing Kumbaya in a circle

  • Mr Wolf

    http://wiwibloggs.com/2016/05/02/latvia-justs-heartbeat-music-video/139984/

    Latvia has realesed their music video.
    Imo very cool and stylish. Very “Tarantino”.
    If they could pull out as good staging, they could hope pretty decent jury result.

  • johnkef

    Now that the rehearsals are on their way, here’s my pre-rehearsal Top10 based on my gut and my previous experience on the contest. Just expressing my personal point of view so i’m not going to analyse. But just to let you know i put the money where my mouth is…

    1. France
    2. Russia
    3. Australia
    4. Armenia
    5. Latvia
    6. Ukraine
    7. Serbia
    8. Estonia
    9. Germany
    10. Sweden

    • Ande

      Nice, mine was something like:

      1. ???
      2. ???
      3. Ukraine
      4. Sweden
      5. Russia
      6. Latvia
      7. France
      8. Croatia (Flopp!)
      9. Australia
      10. Serbia
      11. Poland
      12. Malta

      I’m also keeping a close eye on the Netherlands, Armenia and the Czech Republic in case they impress on stage.

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