Eurovision 2016: The first semi-final

Eurovision has more twists than a soap opera. Yesterday I had a deadline to write an article elsewhere, and tipped The Netherlands for a top three position in this semi-final at a value price, before Douwe Bob’s silent ten seconds fell rather flat in the jury rehearsal. It’s not a positive development, though I don’t believe it will affect qualification.

Russia are hot favourites to win the semi-final, with Armenia clear second favourites. Both offer striking visual and vocal packages, and will be in the final. It’s a very friendly semi for Russia, the routine is peaking at the right time, and I envisage Sergey following up Polina’s semi-final victory last year.

As mentioned before, I felt like The Netherlands offered good prospects at juicy odds to place. Middle-of-the-road entries such as this one often score very well at this stage, when competition for jury points is less fierce. The examples that spring to mind – Sjonni’s Friends, Paradise Oscar, Simon Matthew, Hotel FM – all finished in the top four in their respective semi-finals, arguably with packages not as strong as this one. But the long pause has been awkward and incongruous in an otherwise strong set of performances for the dress rehearsals.

Following the same line of thinking, an alternative to place at a double-digit each-way price has been Iceland. I wasn’t the greatest fan of ‘Hear Them Calling’ in its national final guise. But the way it’s been tweaked for the Eurovision stage is nothing but positive. Greta takes time out from the projection wall to engage with the cameras, looks more relaxed and in better voice than she was in 2012, and the routine works very well with the song.

There’s a bit of competition in the middle of the qualifying places. Cyprus has come together nicely, and was at its strongest for the jury rehearsal last night. I think it’s a highly probable qualifier. I will say the same about Malta, although I don’t think it should be as short as it is to do so. Ira has the pimp slot amongst other things in her favour, despite being lumbered with the uninspired melody of ‘Walk on Water’.

Moving into slightly less confident territory, the Czech Republic should also be placing highly with juries after another strong vocal performance from Gabriela Guncikova last night. She just needs to find the cameras more often, and was keeping her eyes shut too much in this afternoon’s dress rehearsal.

Next up, I’m thinking that Bosnia will also be in the final. In the last two years, Montenegro have marginally qualified with an earnest Balkan number. This year’s Bosnian effort is a little more disjointed, but the country’s diaspora and regional reach is of greater significance. Most of all, it’s a very competent performance in a semi-final that offers plenty of incompetence.

Eight down, and I feel like we’re moved into borderline territory already, which is an indication that this is a tricky semi-final, more difficult to call than either of last year’s heats. With that in mind, let’s get the biggest also-rans out of the way whilst bearing in mind the ability of Eurovision to shock.

San Marino, Montenegro and Finland top the list, closely followed by Moldova, then Greece. The last-named have a 100% qualifying record, but this year represents a perfect storm of unhelpful song, poor female vocals, bad starting position, and fewer voting allies than usual. As such, ‘Utopian Land’ goes in my NQ pile.

Despite its charm, I’m going to place Austria in that pile too. At this point nearer the borderline, I find myself turning to instinct. My gut has marked this down as a non-qualifier since the national final, on the basis that its repetitive and twee nature goes down better with fans than it does with other televoters, and juries.

To complete my ten qualifiers, that leaves two from four out of Hungary, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Estonia. I am going to make one choice from Hungary and Croatia, because otherwise we have The Netherlands at sixth to perform being the first to qualify. I will go for Hungary as they have come across slightly more strongly all week, even though Nina improved for last night’s jury rehearsal.

The other choice is between Estonia and Azerbaijan, to maintain the “at least four from the last six” pattern that has been the case for every semi-final since 2009. Juri Pootsmann was in better form for last night’s jury rehearsal, but then so was Azerbaijan’s Samra from the very low bar she had set herself in other rehearsals. It was blow to Estonia’s chances and a boost to Azerbaijan’s that the Russian jury result will be allowed to stand, as presumably this will be in Samra’s favour. It may just get Azerbaijan over the line.

All in all, it’s a rather confusing picture, and stakes should bear this in mind. I’ve given an analysis behind my ten qualifiers, but don’t feel like any offer standout value to recommend as a tip. Good luck to everybody chancing the betting market tonight, and keep your comments coming below.

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214 comments to Eurovision 2016: The first semi-final

  • Hippo

    Best of luck for tonight everyone and enjoy the show. My main interests tonight are a Greek and Azerbaijani nq.

    I’ll have a go at a straight prediction from 1-18:

    1.Russia
    2.Armenia
    3.Czech Rep
    4.Iceland
    5.Malta
    6.Netherlands
    7.Cyprus
    8.Bosnia and Herzegovina
    9.Hungary
    10.Estonia
    ————————————-
    11.Greece
    12.Austria
    13.Azerbaijan
    14.Croatia
    15.Finland
    16.San Marino
    17.Moldova
    18.Montenegro

  • Sander

    My gut feeling says Greece will qualify. I am a bit worried about Azerbaijan but it’s an accessible song with a good draw. Her vocals are bad, but so were Elhaida Dani’s.

    I haven’t seen any rehearsal or live feeds…

    Here is my prediction from 1-18:

    1. Russia
    2. Armenia
    3. Iceland
    4. Netherlands
    5. Malta
    6. Cyprus
    7. Bosia and Herzegovina
    8. Czech Republic
    9. Azerbaijan
    10. Greece

    ———-

    11. Hungary
    12. Estonia
    13. Croatia
    14. Austria
    15. Finland
    16. Moldova
    17. San Marino
    18. Montenegro

  • Rob4

    what i posted over at esctips:

    I can only pick 6 definite Qs

    Russia
    Iceland
    Armenia
    Malta
    Cyprus
    Netherlands

    and I pick these as last 4 Qs but have no confidence really – shit year – shit SF

    Bosnia
    Greece
    Czech Rep
    Hungary

    • dash berlin

      Similar Rob, I picked 7 I think are certain, laid the rest and backed Greece
      Russia, Armenia, Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, Bosnia, Iceland

  • adam

    Bosnia 8/13 to Q?

  • John

    Thanks as ever Daniel. The trusty betting bloggers help me into the black every year, I’m confident this year will be the same. My picks to help a consensus –

    Russia
    Armenia
    Malta
    Czechs
    Netherlands
    Iceland
    Cyprus
    Azerbaijan
    Estonia
    Bosnia

    Hungary to just miss out.

    I’ve laid San M for last place, and laid Greece to qualify so hoping these two fail to occur as well!

  • Chewy Wesker

    Russia
    Armenia
    Malta
    Netherlands
    Cyprus
    Iceland
    Hungary
    Croatia
    Austria
    Estonia

    Good luck to all sofabet punters tonight.

  • johnkef

    Good luck to everybody for tonight’s bets!!! My prediction for Semi Final 1

    1. Russia
    2. Armenia
    3. Cyprus
    4. Malta
    5. Iceland
    6. Czechia
    7. Netherlands
    8. Bosnia

    These are my certain Qualifiers and then i go for

    9. Greece because of diaspora and allies
    10. Estonia . I had high hopes on him but probably he will let me down, but i still have faith he will qualify.
    11. Croatia . If not Estonia i think it’s gonna be Croatia
    12. Azerbaijan. Strike 3 for Azerbaijan. Even if Russian jury votes i can’t see them getting away with it. Montenegro had problems with their jury last year so they won’t give their lov$ to Azerbaijan which leaves them with a mediocre song
    13. Hungary. They still have a slight chance to qualify but too boring for me

    and the Doomed countries

    14. Austria
    15. Montenegro
    16. Finland
    17. San Marino
    18. Moldova

    With 8/10 i will be more than satisfied. It’s one of the toughest semis ever because of the mediocre level of many songs. Let the least incompetent qualify!

  • Beanie

    10 to Q in some vague order

    Russia
    Netherlands
    Armenia
    Iceland
    Czech Republic
    Malta
    Bosnia
    Cyprus
    Estonia
    Croatia

    Gl all!

  • teo4

    Daniel we agree in 9/10, I will pic Croatia over Hungary because its simply a better song. My predictions are:
    1. Russia
    2. Armenia
    3. Malta
    4. Czech Republic
    5. Azerbaijan
    6. Cyprus
    7. Netherlands
    8. Croatia
    9. Bosnia & Herzegovina
    10. Iceland
    —————————–
    11. Hungary
    12. Austria
    13. Estonia
    14. Greece
    15. Moldova
    16. Finland
    17. San Marino
    18. Montenegro

    My bets for tonight are:
    a) Bosnia & Herzegovina Q
    b) Estonia NQ

    Lets enjoy the show and good luck to you all!

  • Boki

    I had a great pleasure watching the rehearsals in the press center for the 1st time and sharing the table with the Four Horsemen of Betting Apocalypse. It was a roller-coaster experience with some time needed to climb and then just a non-stop crazy ride till yesterday evening. I’m now back home as initially planned and already looking forward to the next year (somewhere in the East I believe). Good luck to everyone tonight!

  • Santiago K

    My ten in semi 1:

    Russia
    Armenia
    Malta
    Iceland
    Netherlands
    Czech Republic
    Cyprus
    Austria
    Greece
    Estonia

    Goodbye Samra…

    • Ande

      My guess for top ten as posted in the ESCtips Chat late last night:

      1. Russia
      2. Armenia
      3. Malta
      4. Iceland
      5. Cyprus
      6. Netherlands
      7. Hungary
      8. Czech Republic
      9. Austria
      10. Bosnia and Herzegovina
      11. Croatia
      12. Estonia
      13. Azerbadjan
      14. Greece
      15. Finland

      Montenegro, San Marino and Moldova were no-hopers for me.

  • 360

    Well Finland seemed very shaky there, I might call that as a non-Q

  • johnkef

    Croatia is definitely qualifying. Hungary too…
    Russia is not winning!!!!
    Czechia is a NQ

    • Alpie

      Johnkef, russia is not winning semi 1 or the contest?

      • johnkef

        the contest!!! so calculated that the final result is really cold

        • johnkef

          6/10 for my pre-semi prediction. So upset i haven’t followed my pre-rehearsals instict having Iceland as a Non Qualifier and Austria as a Qualifier.

          So happy i’ve made my bets on Semi 2 based on that. Hungary and Croatia i’m sure that did finish higher than 7th and they were never borderline qualifiers. Bosnia was sooooo bad.

          Watching Russia, Armenia and France’s 50 second clip my thoughts are that Russia is not gonna win, Armenia is a definite Top5 and France is back on the game. The full stadium lifts the songs and he has the charisma to do it.

  • eurovicious

    The rule is broken! 😀

  • TommyBarnes

    I backed Iceland at 4/9 to qualify last week, I am shocked. Zoe looked a bag of nerves can’t believe she got through.

  • RonH

    I’m not unhappy with 8 out of 10 correct. Especialy with Austria.

  • Montell

    When you see everything on TV it becomes much clearer who will do good and who will do bad. Russia doesn’t look like a winner to me. Croatia was better than I expected and deserved to qualify. Armenia was very good. A little bit shocked that Iceland didn’t qualify but that is all. I think Austria and Azerbaijan were last in the top 10.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Iceland is an absolute shock, maybe there are too many screens and graphics this year. Should of made the final.

  • One thing that struck me about the TV show was how bad the sound mix and camerawork were. The sound seemed muted. There were parts of several acts that clearly seemed intended to work from a particular camera angle, and instead the camera panned back to a wide crowd shot. Quite possibly those countries that have invested most in the staging were the ones that suffered the most. Greta’s performance turned into a mess, and even Sergey looked underwhelming. I’m starting to wonder if this year we’ve reached Peak Staging – get above a certain level of complexity in the staging, and it’s most likely to get screwed up. Especially if SVT have got some 16 year old BTEC student to do the sound and left the camera editing to the work experience kid.

  • John

    Blimey, some shocks there.

    Russia have made two astonishing errors. The first is too few close ups of a very handsome bloke. I mean, it worked for Hungary. Second is they’re about six feet too far back in their static shot, revealing the edges of the screen and thus revealing the strings if the puppet show. The music video was immersive, this is not. They’re not winning in a million years.

    Armenia was great. Very impressed.

    The Dutch have to get their sh’t together with that pause. Just ask ppl to sing damn it.

    Malta were bricking it. Much lols

    • eurovicious

      Yes. Russia is a mess. Shockingly so. Sergey is so focused on literally going through the motions that there’s no emotion, no vocal, no connection… it’s much worse than the video. And he looks afraid. It’s all a bit Takeshi’s Castle; I feel the performance would genuinely be improved by an angry Japanese man catapulting large balls at him as he leaps from platform to platform… it’s not like his vocal would suffer much more than it already is doing. Ganbarimasu!

      Netherlands is gonna be right up there on Saturday. It and Croatia really stood out tonight. I was surprised just how good Croatia was after the consistent negativity from the rehearsal reports. It was head and shoulders about the first 4 (and Hungary better than the preceding 3, obviously). The vocal was precise and her performance individual and charismatic. Which brings me to… Zoe! What did I say this afternoon on why I thought Austria would qualify? “Every year punters write off a kitschy semifinal entry (Romania 2013, Iceland 2014, Serbia 2015) that goes on to qualify quite easily by virtue of being fun and standing out”.

      France looked great. Spain looked and sounded awful. Sweden looked and felt like it’s not working. I’ve discounted Russia and Sweden from winning. I struggle to see how juries will even have Russia in their top 3 with that vocal, that lack of connection and that dated a song. Gerry said “something just felt off” and he’s right – there was a real air of “I’m doing this because I have to” to it, like someone put a gun to Super Sergey’s head and made him complete a 3-minute Special Stage or else his last life runs out. (I’d give him a mushroom, so to speak.) Russia’s 2013-2015 period of polished pop princesses with Putinist peace ballads was always much more professional. (PICK UP A PENGUIN)

      So. The rule. I “only” got 7/10 tonight because I’d decided that Iceland, Bosnia and Estonia would go through (for many of you I think it was Iceland, Bosnia and Azerbaijan). No wonder I kept vacillating over which of Hungary, Croatia, Czech Rep and Austria would qualify – I’m really happy that they all did. Habsburgvision! Commander Rykka is still fucking doomed though.

      Ljubav je was a mess but at least Deen can head straight to the Stockholm Leather Skins fetish night without having to change outfit. I can mentally hear him trying to talk Jala into coming along right now.

      I know I was highly skeptical of Iceland ever since the national selection, and said back then that it might not even qualify, but I was genuinely surprised tonight when it didn’t – especially compared to Azerbaijan’s kitschy mess. The package had come together so much and so well, it was honestly better than Russia.

      • Montell

        I love reading your comments, eurovicious 🙂

      • “I feel the performance would genuinely be improved by an angry Japanese man catapulting large balls at him as he jumps from platform to platform… it’s not like his vocal would suffer much more than it already is. Ganbarimasu!”

        Just had to highlight that because it made me laugh so much.

      • johnkef

        When seeing the contest from the first second didn’t crossed my mind that Hungary or Croatia wouldn’t qualify. I’m actually puzzled why everybody in the reports had them as borderline qualifiers or non qualifiers. I didn’t like Croatia from day one but the performance was great tonight. The same with Hungary

        I’m not shocked that Greece hasn’t qualified. We deserved it for sending a trash song.

        Bosnia was the other shocker for me. Not because it didn’t qualified but because most of the reports had it as a certain or near certain qualifier.

        Estonia which i thought that would sail through pre-rehearsals, had the most ungifted and scary performer of the decade. I hope parents moved the children away from tv

        Russia is not looking like a winner. The visual effects look cheap and Sergey like Greta is running to take position for the next gimmick on stage. He’s more of a decathlete than a singer.

        Armenia is stunning. She’s very provocative and sexy but had more soul and passion than Sergey.

        I may be repeating myself but Amir is more closer to win than Sergey right now, even from the first half. Russia is now sandwiched between two very strong and emotional songs. One full of joy and one full of sadness and pain. What does Russia have to offer? Visual effects? Armenia had a better one!

        And what about Australia? We have to wait two days more to see what this song is capable of doing in live.

        Today it was a hard lesson for me after two contests with good results. I have to close my ears and trust my instincts again without having in mind the rehearsals at all. The first impression is the one that counts at the end

      • Rob4

        i agree with everything in eurovicious’s post except the assertion regarding the automatic qualifiers. for me the french clip looked like a car crash and the swedish entry more cohesive and engaging. think i’ll watch again and try to see it differently.

        • eurovicious

          Hi Rob, while I thought France looked relatively good (or better than I was expecting) and Amir seemed warm, I definitely agree he didn’t sound good at all (as others have noted)…

          • Ron

            Part of the problem with France is that you need to see the full three minutes to appreciate it. I’m baffled as to why they showed only the last part of the song where Amir is doing the falsettos and you can’t even hear what the chorus of the song sounds like…..it was a strange way or premiering the entry

          • You can see the full three minutes of Amir’s performance here: http://youtu.be/76atabAESKI

          • Rob4

            it looks not too bad except that he seems to be straining in his delivery throughout unlike Frans who is effortless in delivery (less demanding song accepted). he doesn’t engage with the camera enough and appears an inexperienced tele-visual performer. i’m not sure this is challenging Russia or Sweden even if it is a slightly better song than either? France’s voting power is fairly limited and i think it needed something more imaginative to propel this to the higher echelons – also now hampered by running order – i’m not feeling the win!

  • Jose Mendez

    Not a big fan of Spain, but on that short clip(check Iplayer) , it even looked better than many of the qualifiers tonight. There is good energy coming from Barei. Having said that, you can just about hear how awful her backing singers were.

    Overall this semi just felt pants, Russia inclusive.

  • Armenia was the only country to really enhance its reputation tonight……Russia is there for the taking. All eyes now turn to Jamala.

    Zoe and Freddie are proof positive that looks do count on an otherwise level playing field. Glad that some “givens” of ESC history have been buried….namely that Greece always qualifies and Czech Republic doesn’t. And also that gradual vocal improvements in rehearsals do count for something….Azerbaijan did pull off a small “miracle” tonight.

  • Tom

    Plenty of people saying Russia are there for the taking, Russia have made errors, or Russia doesn’t look like a winner. They might well be right. But who, realistically, is going to beat them given that Sergey provides the most memorable moment in the show and he’s a superstar in Eastern Europe?

    • eurovicious

      Is that the moment when he falls off then?

      He’s a star in the Russosphere which at most spans 10 participating countries (RU/UA/BY/MO, the Caucasus and to a lesser extent the Baltics)… he’s absolutely not a star in the rest of Eastern Europe i.e. all of the Balkans and the Visegrad countries. I don’t see Baltic juries rating Russia highly.

    • Tim B

      One word: Ukraine

  • Would anyone be inclined to agree with me that the differently dark-themed Iceland and Estonia not qualifying and the colourful whimsy of Austria making it through is a red flag for backers of Ukraine to win?

    • eurovicious

      I like your logic.

    • It is certainly a plus for France…..if your logic holds….and the Netherlands.

    • France is still a bit iffy for me but I see your point. Don’t think the Netherlands is quite strong enough to pose any threat though.

      You’d think rehearsals would clear things up, but I’m more confused now than I’ve ever been.

      God, imagine if it ends up being Belgium or the UK after all this. XD

    • David

      You babble on and analyse like there’s no tomorrow yet you miss the most obvious point here, Ukraine is dark but with meaning and emotion. Both of which were severely lacking in both Iceland and Estonia.

      • eurovicious

        I don’t know if this is directed at Ben or me but “babble on and analyse” is exactly what this site’s for and why it has a vibrant comments section… that notwithstanding, if you’re trying to say that the difference is Ukraine is actually about something and has a personal meaning to the performer, the point stands. But it’s still worth thinking about how “darker” entries failed tonight and what that augurs – people have long been saying 1944 is too dark/esoteric/inaccessible to win, even before tonight and before Ukraine’s recent contraction in the odds.

    • RonH

      It also crossed my mind these could be signals Europeans have had enough of economic or political crises, war or terrorism and just want to relax be happy and have fun.

  • I think the moment of silence during the Dutch entry works better with a stuffed Ericsson Globe. And that was the case with Netherlands tonight. Add to that Douwe Bob’s spontaneous “And I love you too baby”….and this moment of silence actually comes across very effective for me.

    Most importantly……and I’m by no means bragging….but I think Netherlands really stood out. In a similar way like The Olsen Brothers back in 2000, or Ira Losco in 2002. Douwe Bob is oozing charisma and I got goosebumps from him. Again, I am very critical…and I had Netherlands as a potential non-qualifier when I heard the song. I think, even from 1st half, Netherlands is now probably in the TOP 10 again.

  • There’s been some debate over the validity or existence of a so-called bot driving Russia’s odds down.

    I just screencapped this a second ago. I doubt this is a coincidence. https://www.dropbox.com/s/q1p9wch7jy011c8/russia.jpg?dl=0

    • eurovicious

      Bingo. I’ll bite. I don’t think it should have contracted after tonight’s bad performance.

    • Milton

      That converts pretty much exactly to 1500 euros. fwiw

    • Chris Bellis

      Well spotted Ben. When I am cleaning computers of malware (my part-time work) I note that most malware emanates from Russia and similar Eastern countries. Combination of highly educated people and lack of opportunity for developers and computer specialists to earn real money in more legitimate ways.

  • Dani Intercity

    Thanks for info Ben. Ben how do you make a new post on here? (I can only see where to click reply to a post, can’t see a ‘new post/thread’ icon/link)? Ta much in advance.

    • New threads are started by Sofabet staff, Dani. You have just posted a new comment by going to the bottom of the page and writing in that box, but if you want to reply to someone else’s comment, there’s a reply button in each comment.

      • Dani Intercity

        I meant new post rather than thread. Got it now, click on date and timeline of a post and takes you to section to reply at bottom of page. Thanks

  • Dobs

    What do people think of Amir’s performance? I had him as a favourite/potential winner but the singing was shocking in his clip. A lot of contestants were off key tonight and the camera work did Russia no favours at all.

    • eurovicious

      The quality of the vocals for the first 3-4 songs tonight was a new all-time low, absoutely desperate, Sandhja first and foremost then Greece then Lidia (who has power and can be an excellent vocalist under the right circumstances but needs more experience) then to a certain extent Freddy. Nina Kraljic was the first decent vocal – by which time we were half an hour into the show. How many casual viewers would have turned off by then? This makes me wonder whether live vocals at Eurovision will be a thing of the past within 5 years.

      Amir sounded shocking, Russia looked and sounded shocking.

      • Dobs

        I agree. Russia have basically done a poor mans Mans.

        • Chris Bellis

          A poor man’s Måns at a very expensive price. What a let down. So glad I didn’t waste my money. Very glad I followed my instinct on Armenia, the standout of the night. What an improvement for Azerbaijan too. Good job they don’t have drugs testing in Eurovision, because her nerves had mysteriously nearly all gone. Still a terrible song though.

  • Donald

    Been too busy to really concentate so far but saw show tonight and will also see Thursday.

    Austria won two years ago, so general public expect to vote for it. Russia looks terrible visually at the start, it recovers but the start is hurting it. Overall it not a great song anyway. He is absolutely no Polina in my books. I might eat these words but could be luckly to make top 5. Has to be backed against, no value for starters!

    A good song and girls in white dress got through tonight and came across very well.

    Now Spain is turning into a real head scratcher for me, that piece shown tonight jumped out and that “feet” thing is captivating. I talked myself out of it after initally loving the video when saw an actual performance from selection final, but tonight has woken me up to it again. It is the only song this year that is instantly there when it kicks and it got the “feet”.

    Allot will depend on running order for Spain and of course less coverage to the big five compared to the others but Italy were not far off last year. It has got to be worth a punt, it potentially ticks allot of boxes except actual performance so far.

    Expecting France and Belgium will get some fair amount of deserved sympathy votes also, should be factored in to the betting mix.

    Hope you didn’t catch too much of a cold on Iceland Daniel, thanks for great coverage all week. Long week there yet!

    It is still wide open in my book and new voting.

  • Hippo

    With Russia drawing second half, I think it will take quite something to beat them now. Yeah it’s a bit of a mess but it only has to beat what’s in front of it and right now I’m struggling to see who’s left who can take them? Ukraine, maybe Armenia (which strangely constantly wows and then drifts right back). Then we’re getting into really dark horse territory but I’m keeping my mind open- maybe Latvia worth a revisit?

    I had 7/10 qualifiers – Bosnia, Iceland surprised me, Estonia was always 10th at best. The common theme of all three- Darkness. Does make you a little nervous for Ukraine like Ben mentions above.
    Eurovicious was right after all about Austria- or maybe it was the French love for anything Gallic that edged them through?. Croatia was surely only there because of the juries. Azerbaijan the disappointment for me, a likely bottom five in the final, much better on the night but it shouldn’t have been enough. Wasn’t on the nq too heavily and thankfully the Greek nq came through for me which was far larger.
    So pleased for the Czech Rep, svt better give them as best draw as possible after doing the nasty on them.

  • eurovicious

    Current Thursday predic:

    Latvia
    Israel
    Serbia
    Ireland
    Lithuania
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Ukraine
    Georgia
    Belgium

    And given tonight’s results I’m prepared to drop Belgium out of that and replace it with Slovenia, a song I like. Breng het aan.

    • Ours match, except I swap Ireland for Macedonia, purely based on how well she did in 2012 with a similarly underproduced and dated song, and Nicky’s poor vocals in comparison.

    • Chewy Wesker

      If you’re serious about knocking Sergey off his climbing frame, my friends little girls have a gun that fires out foam balls. I can lend it to you if you like, but I do own a Super Soaker of my own that can hold up to six litres of water. Do you fancy it? (Star jumps – let’s go.)

      • Chris Bellis

        That would be a laugh, but after you produce your gun you will rapidly realise that the audience is full of eurofan lookalike special forces armed to the teeth. People still have Sweden down as a multi-cultural paradise with police that reflect an open-minded and tolerant society. This is very much not the case.

  • johnkef

    My pics for Semi 2

    Ukraine
    Australia
    Serbia
    Latvia
    Belgium
    Israel
    Georgia
    Bulgaria
    Lithuania
    Albania

  • I have to admit, I don’t think Armenia needs the holograms. It didn’t look even slightly convincing, just like a weird video overlay. I was much more impressed by her vocals. She really commanded that song, but I don’t think it’s going to win.

    Didn’t like Cyprus at all tonight. Francois looked scary, the flashes of inverted colours were unpleasantly jarring, as were the wolves fangs. Just way, waaaay too much going on there. Took all the feeling out of the song for me.

  • Ande

    My immediate reaction to Iceland not qualifying was chock and then I promptly started to question why.

    The first thing that springs to mind is that the song isn’t very immediate. On the other hand it does have an instrumental hook.

    The second is that the performance lacks USP compared to the qualifiers in the first semi. Sergei’s got a more advanced and innovative staging while Iveta brought the better “mysterious tension”-buildup. Greta’s persona wasn’t captivating either, having an manically ecstatic midget roaming the stage didn’t mend well with the haunting theme of the lyrics and staging.

    But even if Iceland’s televote faltered the total package should still be competent enough. Greta could’ve been saved by the juries as they likes entries which makes an effort. Here’s the thing though, juries do not like copycats. Greta’s number lifted more than a few things directly from Loreen’s ‘Euphoria’. In the end this might’ve been the last nail in her coffin.

    • There was something going very badly wrong with her projection effects. On TV it wound up looking like a cheap green screen, and came across as messy. I thought her performance at Songvakeppnin was much more impressive than last night.

      Russia’s staging effects also looked messy. I’m starting to lose faith in the idea that it’s all about the staging.

    • eurovicious

      She’s also older. Older women tend to struggle to get votes in these things.

      Agreed. The projection songs are falling flat on their arse. Makes you realise how good Sweden’s was last year even though I found it twee and corny. Something intimate or with anti-staging will win.

  • Ande

    Som quick notes about a few countries other than Iceland…

    Estonia – Jüri looked more scary than intriguing.

    Austria – Many have underestimated Zoë’s princess USP. She was also the closest thing to a MPDG this semi had to offer.

    Malta – Competent but no winner.

    Armenia – Suprisingly good and I feel Armenia is in contention now. There’s even indications ‘LoveWave’ won this semi.

    Russia – Looked good but not great. Too few closeups and only the “jump-in-between-tiles” part was stunning. Russia is still in the running but this gives me the courage to lay Russia in the outright markets.

    France – I was positively surprised, however I still feel France is a longshot for the win.

    Sweden – Looked awful compared to the MF version. Not a winners candidate.

  • On a side note, did anyone else find themselves enjoying Serhat far more than they expected? Okay, as expected San Marino didn’t qualify, but it definitely deserves some sort of “most improved” award.

  • Jess

    Wow wow wow Armenia. Didn’t think much of the song when I heard it on the CD, it was fine but didn’t grab me.

    I thought Armenia last night was a masterclass in camera work. Add on top of that some decent vocals and a passionate performance, and I think we’re looking at a top 3 finish (and dare I say it, possible winner).

    Russia I was a bit disappointed with, some of the camera angles seemed to be wrong – him not being lined up properly with the screen etc. Still this is all stuff they can sort out before Saturday so let’s not write off Russia just yet.

  • Milton

    Russia the clear televote winners last night, but they certainly gave jurors plenty of reasons to mark them down if they were looking to. To show Sergey holding onto the side of the screen is ok for a behind the scenes accompanying video, ‘the making of You Are The Only One’ but its really not on when you are trying to create a suspension of reality. It typifies the kitchen sink approach at the expense of quality and attention to detail.

  • Lake

    http://esctracker.com/

    Russia dominating iTunes after SF1. Austria doing rather well, too.

    Malta and Armenia doing surprisingly poor on iTunes (charting nowhere but their home countries) despite being #6 and #7 in the odds.

  • All signs point to Russia but I feel the song is style over substance. Cute guy, check (oh the irony)… high-concept staging, check. Song… not that good. Time will tell if juries in particular see through it. Those of us that play the markets on X Factor know this sort of thing will get televoters. SVT would be wise to try and deramp them a bit.

    Netherlands was the standout for me. Another country song, yes, but like in 2014 it was refreshing as opposed to seeing copycats of the previous years winner. It’s definitely worth a Top 5 bet. With the right position in the running order on Saturday it could really make an impact.

  • Re: the screens

    Last year with Sweden, watching it on TV, you didn’t think “this stuff is just being projected onto a screen”, it felt like the character was on stage with Mans, the illusion worked.
    This year, Iceland and Russia, we see that he’s just standing in front of a screen, in Russias case, on top of it, to the side of it. It takes something away from it.

    As for the iTunes downloads, Russia was always going to do well after last night, and was always going to win the SF last night, It will be interesting to see how high he climbs the charts by Friday, as last year, the top 3 countries were dominating the top 10s, whereas at the moment, Russia is just “charting”.

    Austria is the big surprise for me, doing very well in sales, which would indicate a strong televote last night. It’s the same price as Israel to win, but a much bigger price for top 10, if it continues to do well in sales, anything over 2/1 top 10 is good value

  • Dani Intercity

    Itunes analysis:
    Although Russia charting over a lot of countries (18) on itunes the numbers are thin on the ground with about 10 of the countries he’s charting in around the 100 mark – which is very few sales.
    In Sweden he’s even behind the Austrian entry! Which is sweet but no winner.
    I expect Australia to have much more impact after Semi 2 on the itunes chart. Russia nowhere near most previous winners reaction on itunes after their 1st showing. Sweden charts in 11 countries after only 50 sec clip.
    http://esctracker.com/

  • Black n Blue

    I’m going to do what I can to gather my thoughts from last night. I got 7/10, so prediction and betting wise it was a good night. That said, when I’d hoped a pecking order would emerge out of last night’s show, the waters have just gotten even more muddied.

    The Netherlands have a lot to offer on Saturday. Everything Douwe and his team are doing is so counter-intuitive in a Eurovision sense, and my take on the 10 second break is that it works superbly. Whether the crowd sing along, cheer or whatever isn’t the point of the break. In a show full of projections, holograms and other stage gimmicks, people need an indicator as to what is and isn’t ‘real’ and Douwe’s bit of improv gives the audience the comfort that what they’re watching is authentic, sincere, and a true mark of musicianship. The Dutch are making a strong case for a top 5, although I want to wait until Friday before going any further with that call.

    I thought Iveta was in scintillating form last night. This felt like the stand-out performance, possibly the best of any Armenian entry to date. In a show, with several poor vocal displays, and productions that were all over the shop, Armenia was a lesson in how to create drama effectively on TV. They didn’t just throw the singer through an obstacle course of gimmickery in hope they’d come out of the other end alive. Rather they used lighting and camera cuts brilliantly, with pyros and holograms only when needed to elicit dramatic effect. A real triumph of stage production at the contest. A 2nd half draw benefits them greatly, but I can’t help but feeling Armenia could very easily be overshadowed by Ukraine, so lets wait and see.

    I don’t really want to elaborate much on Russia. It is what it is. Seeing the performance on TV felt like a bigger let down than expected. The emotional connection isn’t there; I struggle to see how several of the gimmicks link together, never mind tell a story. The camera shots were poor. When they should make it look like he’s climbing Everest on that wall, the panning out shots make Sergey look like he’s on a climbing frame in a kiddies playground. For me the distinction between Mans last year and Sergey now is clear. With Heroes the innovative staging was designed to elevate a strong song and the coherent narrative within said song. You are the only one however, is making use of elaborate staging to distract the audience from the lack of a strong song or a coherent narrative. I thought after the 2015 contest that the juries shouldn’t have fallen for the Heroes stage concept, but in retrospect, there was so much more to reward in terms of originality in comparison to that of Sergey, Greta, and others this year. I’ll quit betting on this contest if Russia wins the Jury vote on Saturday.

    I need more Coffee now, Eurovision week always puts my stress levels through the roof 😀

    • eurovicious

      I wanna completely echo Black n Blue’s comment here, most especially the paragraph on the Netherlands – the song, its title and the performance are an intervention, and I too feel that the point of the break was never for the audience to sing along. It’s a breather, a moment to connect and feel what’s real, an anti-Eurovision moment that allows him to emerge as a human being and gives you the sense “this is happening now”. The screen time given to his band members really works too.

  • Daniel

    I play a small part in this excellent radio documentary about the politics of Eurovision on the BBC World Service: https://t.co/FnSVeMFdoY

    • johnkef

      Very nice and interesting documentary Daniel. One of the reasons i like Eurovision apart from the bets.

      Though i have to say that 2016 has become a very difficult puzzle to solve right now. Instead of having less questions to answer, semi 1 added some more.

  • Rob4

    it was striking how telegenic most of the qualifiers are. did iceland fail because she wasn’t hot enough? a lot of female competition in that SF so I guess something had to give.

    perhaps we should just rank SF2 in order of hotness?

  • Black n Blue

    As someone who saw potential in Greta and her song (In the form of Raddirnar) to go places at the contest, I was surprised to see them go, but there is a valuable lesson to be learnt: Don’t trust in a song that can only finish 3rd out of 6 in the semi final of its pre-selection.

  • niko

    First time poster, long time lurker, but I had to make a couple of comments.

    I think people here are really overreacting with regards to Russia. Yes, for people who have been in the Eurovision bubble for a couple of months and have seen the video, the performance might be a bit underwhelming. But for the first time viewers last night Russia was in a class by itself. The show is impressive. The first minute, where it’s just Sergey alone in the dark catches attention and makes the subsequent effects stronger. I think the song is also pretty strong, especially the second half of the chorus, which is very hooky. It might become a bit repetitive towards the end, but I don’t think that matters very much for a Eurovision song. Let’s see what Ukraine brings to the table, but right now I am quite confident that Russia is going to win.

    France did not look like a winner from that preview clip (Amir looked nervous and did not really sing well) and neither did Sweden (I think it is too introvert to connect with enough people).

    Austria was last night’s revelation. I’ve always liked the song, but had become resigned to it not qualifying after reading blogs and seeing the odds. After seeing the live performance, I thought: “If this is not among the 10 best, something has gone very wrong”. Thankfully, that made me some money 😉 It was a breath of fresh air among so many dreary songs. Like Russia, I don’t think it matters that it is repetitive, when most people are only gonna hear the song once, maybe twice. The song grabs you from the very first note, the chorus is strong (especially compared to so many songs this year, where you think “this sounds promising”, but the chorus then sucks), Zoe is enchanting, sings perfectly and the staging fits the song to a T. Looking at esctracker and the reaction online, I really don’t think this was a borderline qualifier in any way. Dare I say this might go top 10 on Saturday?

    I don’t get the hype for Armenia. I really can’t remember much of it here the day after. The bass drop at the start of the song leads one to think that something amazing comes afterwards, but to me it just fades out and becomes nothing, kind of like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0RX5Nvd62k

    The same can be said for Malta. I am really having trouble imagining those two challenging for the win.

    • Dani Intercity

      Niko the really luke warm reaction that I have heard was from people seeing it for the first time on tv at home last night. Also people not thinking song was that great. In a Metro poll Russia were miles behind Netherlands in a ‘who was your fav from Semi 1’. Just a tabloid poll indeed but still a reaction from Joe public.
      Russia is fine enough but there are much stronger songs to come.
      Re Sweden on the contrary imho this will hugely connect with the general audience esp the young.

    • Rob4

      i’m not sure people are overreacting. for me russia is definitely in the mix for top 3 – perhaps winner – it seems to have all the advantages. however, it really is in that position by default. the competition this year is very poor and what there is has so far been placed in the first half of the draw. but the russian song IS drivel and the staging IS underwhelming – not saying it won’t win though!

      • Dani Intercity

        Indeed Rob in the mix. I see them finishing 3rd to 5th. But odds at nearly evens money does not reflect ‘in the mix’.

  • Daniel: your contributions were concisely and adroitly made. I’d recommend the BBC programme to folk on here. There are a lot of good political stories: some familiar such as Portugal 1974 and the military coup and other newer ones such as Bosnia 1994 and Ukraine 2005.

  • Dani Intercity

    A lot of negative feedback last night being thrown around the net re Russia. BBC mentioned live on tv ‘desparate’ and also read out a tweet basically saying a rip-off of Mans last year.
    The Russian jury nonsense adds to that air of Russia not playing by the rules and this will have not have gone un-noticed by other country’s jury members. A small seed but can help to skew your view in a negative way.
    Vast maj of feedback is that the ‘show’ was a real let down for expectations and song made no connection. Sergey too nervous and too much ‘on’ to make connection with viewers.
    All in all not a good night at all for Russia.
    My gut strongly, strongly says this will not win ESC 2016.

    • niko

      The Danish commentator did exactly the same thing, which I found pretty strange, Why don’t they mention Iceland doing the same thing? Because “we” like Iceland but not Russia?

      • annie

        well, iceland didnt even qualify, did it, which I think is strongly linked to having a weaker version of a seamingly similar concept.

  • Dani Intercity

    I think because Russia looks so desparate to win it is p***ing people off.

  • Dani Intercity

    Hi to all, thanks for your great analysis 🙂 My ESC 2016 winner prediction (pre-Semi 2):
    AUSTRALIA WILL WIN. Before I post my conclusions on that let’s look at the only ones in my mind that can win:
    Russia: 80s style dated boy band type song. Great singer and good visuals but they’re not approaching anything enough needed to see this past the winning post – not with the public nor with the juries.
    Ukraine: The ‘strongest’ and most consistently brilliantly delivered song. But ESC is an uplifting pop song contest not the Ivor Novello awards. The non-English chorus and the ethnic wailing in the middle 8 will absoluletly not be to the West’s cup of tea at all. Top 3 juries and around 4th to 7th with public. However, if all goes tits up with the rest of the favs on the night, then this IS your Azerbaijan 2011 winner and would win, as they did, by default.
    Sweden: Juries look for a ‘potential hit’. This, along with Australia, is the most current song. Should do well enough with juries (in MF with international juries only 2nd by 1 point). Will be Top 3, possibly win, public vote. Frans very likely to deliver same again and should be Top 3 and depending how the rest deliver could well win.
    France: Most of song non-English doesn’t help, but catchy as hell chorus. Amir has huge charisma. Shocked at him cringing as he tried to hit the notes in last night’s clip. Could win but would have to sing and hit it out the park way, way better than he has so far, which looks unlikely.
    Netherlands: Why O why the drop out?? Anyway. This section may be received better during the jury and public grand final. Great song, best perfomer in the show and truly authentic. It’s still in with a shout and I really wouldn’t be surprised if he won the Semi last night.
    Belgium: If you’re looking for your long shot this is it. Infectious and super catchy and a great, young, fresh perfomer bursting with life and confidence. This should be Top 10 and you never know…
    Australia: Here is my winner and I get that ‘under the radar before-the-Semi show Conchita feeling’ all over again (sitting at 24s on betfair to me curently really is ‘under the radar’ esp after Russia’s showing). Stand out performer-tick: spectacle of this stunning oriental lady with huge voice singing for Australia. Joe Public will really sit up and take notice. Jury love-tick: 100% current pop song with great singer. Public love-tick: in a good way quite a ‘spectacle’ of a performer who is singing a catchy current pop song with a big voice. Staging great-tick: OK problems with that fekin box lol, but sorted now and sits like an oriental Marily Monroe atop this glittery box on a skyscraper skyline in a stunning dress. Social media images make connection with young audience. Down off box moves to stage front to blow tv audience away with power vocal close. Strong singer-tick: check out this amazing acoustic verison of her song from 2 nights ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbyF96_BwkE Simply amazing. As Daniel pointed out the ad-libs need focused and some pitched better but she has for sure got the tools. IF Dami brings her A-game 2mo night and on Sat I truly believe it’s game over.

  • Chris Bellis

    Agree with most of that, especially Belgium. Offers good value. Australia could win it, but as you imply, Dami has to up her game. She can do it, but there are plenty of videos of her singing live when she has pitch problems out of the “big singing”. The mark of a really good singer is that they have good pitch in the quiet parts as well as the loud bits. See Ukraine for an example, which for me is the best performance of all. Still can’t see it winning though.
    Sad that nerves have got to so many performers. Amir can sing in tune, but his performances have been far too variable.
    Final thought – for the first time in many years, quite a few of the backing singers were more out of tune than the performers, eg Hungary. They are usually there to beef up the the vocals for the front man/woman, not ruin them.

  • eurovicious

    Does anyone have any thoughts on Russia’s contraction to evens or below evens (1.8-2) after last night, given most people seem to be less than impressed with it (going by indicators such as the Metro poll) and hardly any of us in the bubble seem to think it will win? Are they manipulating the odds or is it genuine, and if so, why?

    • Chewy Wesker

      I think Russia did go as low as 1.8 to back I think this was a result of getting a second half draw, odds did shorten as build up to the performance, but drifted out again when Sergey sung it live.

    • Rob4

      yes i think it has been established they are running a bot to drive down the odds – someone even posted a graph earlier in this thread.

      it might not be a false favourite but the price seems to be artificial nontheless.

    • Ande

      Russia proved their staging was memorable (for positive reasons). First time viewers (my friends for example) remembered Russia even if they didn’t like the song or chose to vote for it. That goes a long way in a field of 26.

      Russia “topping” iTunes sales is also encouraging.

  • Personally, I can’t see Russia winning this. Whilst I don’t think the EBU are that bothered about another trip to Moscow, most of the fanboys (and girl) will be. I agree with Scott last night that the whole thing looked so desperate. It’s like Putin personally gave the delegation an uncapped budget to get it back to Moscow and hang the cost.

    If this is a competition to find the best song, the Netherlands have this. I think their end result will be a lot better than the market currently gives it credit for.

    • eurovicious

      For me it’s all about the Netherlands, Austria, Latvia and Ukraine now.

      • Austria overtakes France in iTunes charts on the tracker, I think it scores higher with juries. Lets go back to Vienna for some more Mirjam Weichselbraun!

        • eurovicious

          The question of darkness is highly analytically relevant. While Greta was throwing crows at the audience, Zoe was magicking flowers into life. While Juri was glaring and giving off attitude, affable Douwe shared love with his audience. And the key to both Slow Down and Loin d’ici is, as well as this accessible, appealing positivity and friendliness – as Sieneke said about her entry in a 2010 interview with the BBC – “it’s a simple song that goes not out your head”.

          1944 has no hook. And unless Jamala brings the manic pixie Krim girl and manages to make forced deportation a fun fairytale land for viewers to escape to, I don’t think we’re going to Kyiv next year…

          • The whole darkness thing is important. Look how het up we get over Red and Black on X Factor and how much evidence there is to support it. Translating that principle to Eurovision and dark staging might be unhelpful.

          • Black n Blue

            I agree on the Greta, Juri thing, but I think the ‘darkness doesn’t win’ argument is slightly misplaced with these examples. Neither Greta or Juri were particularly voteable, they couldn’t channel any sort of emotion, and hence couldn’t connect with the audience. My position of late on Ukraine, is that if the audience can connect with Jamala on an emotional level, than it may render the subject matter irrelevant.Lest we forget that Calm after the Storm was a breakup song…

          • A very sweet, chart-worthy, quality break-up song.

        • Worth noting that the French language hasn’t won since Celine Dion in 1988. Do have to agree she really impressed. Few tears as well which certainly helps during X Factor. Eurovish…ion I’m not sure.

    • Jonas

      Well put! Russia is completely over-hyped. Empty song performed by a vain and vacant artist. Moreover, to vote for a song based on multi-media design etc. is just undermining the musical credibility of Eurovision even more. For me it’s all about France, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Serbia now. If they add some nice visuals, fine – but it won’t make much difference to my vote.

  • johnkef

    I have started checking the rankings for every slot at the final since 1998, the first year of televoting, trying to draw some conclusions regarding the intentions of SVT.

    1. Swedes don’t want to win and host the contest again next year. The 9th has produced just 1/18 Top 5 rankings!!! The worst possible slot after No2 and No6. Russia finished second back in 2000!!! That’s not great news for the Sweden’s backers. Though the same slot has produced 7 6th-10th rankings so obviously Swedes want a decent finishing but not winning the contest.

    2. Obviously slots 10-13 are the most important of the 1st half, but 12 and 13 haven’t produced a winner like 10 (2) and 11 (1) had.

    3. If France is placed in 12. its chances are getting thinner, the only slot after the fisrt 6 along with Sweden’s slot that has produced just a Top3 ranking.

    4. Slots 17-24 are the crucial ones for the 2nd half, but in particular i would be interested who will be placed in slots 17-20 and 22.

    • RonH

      Unless you calculate if the measured differences are statistically significant or have convincing arguments why they are indeed meaningful, I would have to warn that ‘Results achieved in the past are no guarantee of future’

      Statistical calculations can be useful but also misleading.
      In the article above for instance Daniel based his choice for qualification partly on the “”four from the last six” pattern that has been the case for every semi-final since 2009”
      It was also my expectation that the ranking is that important. Last night however only two of the last four were selected. Tne effect apparantly is not strong enough to work as rule.

      • Ande

        I believe Bjorkman’s concept is the right one here. Being placed in between weaker and contrasting songs is just as important as getting a late draw. That’s why Ireland failed so spectacularly in 2013.

      • johnkef

        I have split every slot in the Final since 1998 and i have all the placings from 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-27 plus the medal rankings. All the slots are not the same. You can definitely win the contest if you have Fairytale, Euphoria, Heroes, Rise like a Phoenix or Teardrops from every slot, but you need a good slot if you have a strong but not unbeatable song.

        I’m not saying there’s a rule but it’s no coincidence that

        a. 1st song has only 2 Top5 finishings in 18 attempts
        b. 2nd has only one and 3 top10 in total
        c. 6th also just one Top5 and 2 Top10
        d. from 1st to 7th slot only the 4th has 2 medal rankings 1-0-1 and all the other have only 1.

        on the other hand

        All the slots from 17th to 24th have at least 3 with the exception of 23rd that has 1-1-0, (not bad).

        a. 24th has 5 Top5 and another 3 Top10 finishes
        b. 23rd has 5 Top5 and another 6 Top10
        c. 22nd has 7 !!! Top5 and another 4 Top10
        d. 21st 6 Top5 and 5 Top10
        e. 18th 6 Top5 and 4 Top10
        f. 13th 5 Top5 and 5 Top10

        Even the Bottom 5 finishings are more rare in the 2nd half

        – 2nd and 5th have 7 Bottom 5 finishes, 4th has 6, 3rd has 5 but

        -20th has 0, 23rd 1, 22nd and 25th 2.

        Is it a coincidence?

        • Black n Blue

          It’s good of you to compile these stats John. Although I reckon it’s worthless to over-analyse running order stats pre 2013, due to the random draw. There’s a lot more to be concluded from the producer decided running order, and patterns are starting to emerge.

          • johnkef

            i have another list for this one. i use the semifinal rankings with the slot placed in the final and try to understand what is behind producers thinking. The 10-13 slots have become more powerful those last 4 years and that’s gonna continue.

            and that’s why the slots 14th-16th are getting weaker year by year.

  • 17th, I believe I am correct in saying, has produced more winners than any in the modern era of the 25/26 song contest. The advantage may be that if it’s a cracking song and performance, you measure it against a good number of songs that have come before, but possibly singing at 26, the old fatigue and inebriation begin to blur the retention levels. I think slots 17 to 20 will be interesting, as will the pimp slot. It sure didn’t help Molly and Il Volo in the last two years sweep to victory, that’s for sure.

  • How did slot 26 not help Italy last year? They won the telvote!
    As for Molly, let’s all agree we got a little carried away and it just disappointed hugely on stage

    • Apologies Dash, I didn’t mean to replicate what you said, your comment simply didn’t show on my pc

    • Molly was Top 5 material on paper but it spectacularly failed on stage.

      • johnkef

        Molly had a decent song that deserved to finish just outside Top10 and nothing more. I don’t mean to be rude with anyone and i’m saying that with all respect: British people get overexcited when UK sends a decent song just because the last 15-16 years the UK entries are dreadfull. The same this year. Just a rehearsal and everybody gets overexcited. UK is still a bottom 5 song

    • Chris Bellis

      “…let’s all agree we got a little carried away…” [about Molly]. From memeory, only a few people on this site got carried away. Most comments were negative. Ditto the UK entry last year.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        On this site it was predominantly me who was the one who got carried away.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Am amused by PP’s prices on the UK: 40/1 to outright win (co-tenth in the betting); while 8/13 to finish 21st or lower!

        • Chris Bellis

          Guildo – we’ve all been guilty of being carried away by thoughts that a UK entry might do better than logic indicates. My carried away moment was Blue, although they would have done better if they hadn’t pissed off the sound engineers. I didn’t know that they regularly fell out with technicians, otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted money on them, but that’s another story.

    • Running order matters more with televoters. And one also has to analyze the entire field and placing it into context.

      The entire first half last year was a true blood bath It was stuffed with contenders: Slovenia, Israel, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Australia. Obviously that was reflected in the eevote…as all these countries seemed to share each other’s televoting results a bit; the elevates seemed to be distributed over these contenders.

      Then there was the 2nd half, which basically was a rather dull affair except for Latvia, Italy and Russia. So there basically was a huge gap of dullness…..until Russia and Italy showed up. This must have woken up the televoters, who usually suffer a bit from ‘Eurovision Alzheimer’.

      Obviously, juries are judging all entries more detailedly, rightfully giving Sweden a much clearer victory. Had Sweden performed from the slot Italy was performing from, then I am willing to say the victory for Sweden would have been even bigger…possibly passing the 390 points.

  • yes I know, but that’s only half the story as juries get the songs in the same order the night before. I can recall talking some time ago to a jury member from France and also one from Spain and (separately) they both told me that concentration and fatigue can be a factor and worried they weren’t quite on the ball by the end. Maybe there’s a major differential between running order on jurists and televoters? I am not saying that Il Volo did badly with the juries because they sang last…..what I am saying is that given a choice between 17th and 26th, I would go for the former any time. And the stats back that up.

      • Alpie

        I had a chance to see the performace. Whereever slot she sings from, nobody beats her on the final night. She is superb along with the background. Now we can discuss a winner without Ukraine for betting purpose. 🙂

    • I saw it, just once. It was someone pointing a camera at the screen. They were very close to it, so it wasn’t HD TV feed but I could see everything very clearly, even the number and country name in the bottom left corner was easily readable, and it was from this afternoon’s dress rehearsal.

      What could I say about it? The “Afterglow-esque” (for those who watched Norway’s MGP this year) laser tunnel and the graphics on the floor were quite nice to look at. They were smooth, swirly, neon coloured at times which helps it stand out. In this particular performance during the first verse, I noted that Jamala’s eyes seem to shift out to the audience left and right slightly, rather than down the camera, which makes her convey the emotion of the song in such a way that she looks slightly traumatised and in need of help. There’s plenty to look at during this performance but if I’m honest, I wasn’t often looking at Jamala herself.

      The “moment” with the tree coming out behind her was good. The camera pans right back to reveal the whole thing, but from slightly above rather than below which can diminish the sense of grandeur. It’s not quite the Conchita phoenix wings moment or the Polina dress birds eye shot I thought it would be based on what those in the press center were saying.

      It was a performance that kept the eye interested with lights, colours and graphics changing regularly over the 3 minutes, and the videos from the fans in the arena don’t give you the full picture at all as a lot of stuff is happening on the stage floor, but I’d be lying if I said I was transfixed or moved. It still feels like the same song from the Ukrainian NF to me and I feel like the hype from the press center might be a little bit of an exaggeration. Her vocals were powerful and perfect, nothing wrong there. It’ll do very well, but I’m not a convert.

      • Boki

        Ben, she is the one that keeps you mesmerized during the 3 minutes, at least she did it to me with those eyes, cutting through the screen – I have never experienced such hard impact from an esc song, way beyond usual goosebumps when you feel a potential winner.

    • eurovicious

      I’ve seen the leaked TV feed of Ukraine and I still think it’s too much of a buzzkill to win.

      • I agree Eurovicious. People need to get a grip and really need to compare this more with Albania 2012 and Latvia 2015. Perhaps it will do slightly better than those two entries. 3rd or 4th place for Ukraine?

        Also, songs like Ukraine and Armenia are barely charting.

        Big question then will be: Who WILL be the winner of the 61st edition?

        • Ande

          Compare all you want but Ukraine has stronger staging and much stronger televote USP than these entries. Albania and Latvia both lacked strong connections with viewers. Albania lacked a clear message while especially Latvia were quite cold and inaccessible (similar to Armenia this year).

          • Hence why I’m saying it could hit 3rd place. But not much more. For me……Australia and Sweden are the ones to look at. And my gut feeling tells me Australia will upset Europe.

        • Alpie

          Even Aussies dont believe Dami can make top 4. They rate her between 5th and 10th.

        • Lake

          I agree that Australia will surprise, in a good way. Got the best stadium reaction of the night – and during the recap clips too.

  • Just back from Jury SF2 – will share my views

    Latvia – Looks and sounds good/great. If you want someone to look like they are putting their heart and soul into a performance – this is the one
    Poland – not my cup of tea this song, but performed better than expected, good solid show – should Q with voting allies and no negatives to think of
    Switzerland – She has a weird knee bob movement throughout, mic covers her mouth. Can’t see this causing an upset – has plenty of pyros, which really add nothing
    Israel – Good song, that builds nicely, well staged, classy (uses a pyro curtain which annoyingly, we just saw with Switzerland)
    Belarus – If there is a shock in this SF I think this is the one, Visually its stunning, looks great (imo not gimmicky), song isn’t great but is delivered well.
    Serbia – Long been a fan of this, but I can kiss my outright bet goodbye, is shouty at times, very dark. I’ve laid it, was really underwhelmed and unimpressed
    Ireland – Not as bad as I thought it would be, good performance, has a chance
    FYR Macedonia – I once had a gf called Donna, for this reason I like this song. I thought it was solid vocally, but then at the end there was a high pitched squeal which sounded way out of key. Have no idea what she’s singing about, will struggle to Q
    Lithuania – they threw lots of tricks at this one, but he comes across creepy and white leather jacket? Didn’t work for me
    Australia – Stand out performance of the night, was brilliant, got a huge ovation from the crowd, 10x better than studio version. This is the main western contender
    Slovenia – Should have stuck with the simple “nice” national final staging, its all blue lasers, the yodelling doesn’t sound great – song is all about blue and red – why not use those colours on stage?
    Bulgaria – Had doubts on this, but I think its safely through, another the audience enjoyed.
    Denmark – Its the kind of thing that often qualifies so I wouldn’t rule it out. I hate it, but I can see the appeal, they try their best to sell it
    Ukraine – its moving and powerful, jurys will love it. Will televoters, that’s the concern, fishing in the same market as Russia too
    Norway – vocally sounded flat, she is in my top 3 attractive girls, but this is the last we see of her. Really don’t see how it Qs
    Georgia – First time around it sounded messy, then I had to hear it a 2nd time, which compounded my misery
    Albania – Not great, but has a good slot and is an outsider to throw up a surprise. It’s about as good as you could hope for
    Belgium – Really fun bubblegum pop song, great routine, if it Qs (and it def should) and gets a 1st half slot, ideal show opener

    The Big 3
    Germany – better than I expected, still think it will struggle, but I won’t back it to finish last now
    Italy – It sounds identical to the studio version, great voice, love the song, just don’t think its a EV song. Staging is fine, doesn’t really add to it
    UK – as a Brit, was looking forward to this, left me flat (I saw them at the village yesterday and thought these guys are actually good), can’t see it troubling the left hand side

    • Dani Intercity

      Hi Dash. Thanks for the review. Took a much needed day off from ESC yest. So it seems Dami delivered when it mattered most? Any more info on that performance? Thanks in advance 😉

      • Sure Dani, so going into the show, I thought Australia was radio friendly, but didn’t think it really had a chance, the song didn’t do much for me.
        However, last night, blown away Her vocals were amazing, staging was quite simple by very effective (a lesson on doing something modern without throwing the kitchen sink at it). The person I was sat with said after the song “that’s won it”

        On the TV feed, you don’t notice the projection bit or her coming down from the stool/box – I was watching the TV bit at the time, looked back at the stage and she was at the front of the stage stood up, so not noticeable at all

        It sounds different from the studio version, she does much more freestyling showing off her voice, which is great. Finishes on a high note, easily got the best audience reaction

        • Dani Intercity

          Thanks Dash. Following variations and workouts both stage wise and vocally, looks like she could be peaking at the very right time. As Daniel says…thats IS what rehearsals are for 😉 Enjoy your ESC 🙂 🙂

        • Ande

          Yes, thank you Dash. I thought Dami would struggle to connect with the audience, with that not being the case she’s a definite contender.

    • Lake

      Thanks for typing this out!

  • annie

    WOW, Zoe is second on iTUnes downloads on esctracker.
    whaaaat in the world is happening???

    • Remember: this is a Eurovision Song Contest. Not the Eurovision ‘Radio’ Contest. I remember that back in 2014 Conchita wasn’t charting that well. But on the other hand Ireland did chart much better in 2011.

      iTunes download charts give you an idea of the chartability. And in judging and analyzing these chart this should be taken into account.

      Having said that I think Austria is good on the ears. And perhaps Austria ended 4th or 5th in last Tuesday’s semi final. But that’s about it I think. I think it’s a borderline TOP 3 candidate

      • annie

        even that sounds a bit crazy….

      • After Austria’s SF, it was charting on iTunes – part of the reason the price collapsed from 20-30s to single figures

      • Ande

        Let’s not go overboard here, she shouldn’t have the jury support to go top 3. Top 10 is entirely possible though.

        • Oh no, I didn’t think top 3 – after all most of the stronger songs are in SF2
          I think top 10 is great value though, comparing its iTunes performance to the likes of Netherlands and Cyrpus, you “would think” it finished 3rd or 4th in SF1

          • Ande

            Agreed, I’m just worried Laura will out-Pixie her. Though I think there’s still value for Austria Top 10 as that would still leave Zoë with the princess and dreamgirl USPs.

            There’s also a slight possibility that Dami would out-princess her which would be more problematic.

            Do you guys think children would like ‘Sound of Silence’ better than ‘Loin D’ici’?

          • annie

            Loin DIci is more instant than Sound of Silence, has a better flow IMO. The latter is more heavy, has a bit of struggle to it. Loin DIci is catchy and light. A bit like McDonalds, not fine dining and valuable but with appeal to all layers of the masses.

  • Hippo

    Ukraine – I’m sorry but this will need a huge media narrative to win. Whilst it has had media attention it’s nowhere near Conchita levels (yet). It’s getting the votes it was always going to get and the staging elevates it but not to a level that enough people are going to connect with it. But even then, mournful, darkly staged songs with messages that are more accessible don’t do well – Mother from 2014. Well staged foreign language (crimean chorus, bad diction) message songs have never been vote grabbers either (France 2015). 1944 is stronger than those obviously but it’s still worth pointing out emotional songs that have completely flopped.
    The majority of us agree the sympathy vote is a myth anyway – this whole package relies on people to have sympathy for Jamala/Ukraine, an emotional connection at least. Otherwise it’s just a woman screaming about people coming to kill you.

    I also think juries are being given far too much credit. For all the experimentation and vocals, Suus was only joint third in the jury vote. Love Injected a distant second to a very standard pop song with a cartoon character.
    I can find a hundred examples for were something relatively standard or lightweight has done better than a ‘serious’ or ‘meaningfull’ song in jury rankings.

    • eurovicious

      Concur on all counts.

      • annie

        Me too.

        Though I have to add, that my almost virgin ears (i only listened to a few songs from this year up to now) had a hear through the semi final playlist from YT and without knowing which song it was Ucraine stood out. I like the beat, the song, her voice, I didn´t even perceive what itś about. So it works, not because itś meaningfull or serious or such, but because itś good. (by the way Belgium is another one that worked instantly. ) Her problem will be her styling, that´s what I realised looking up her rehearsel video. She looks very 1999. Not good. Looks mater, just ask Greta Salome and Zoe.

        And yes, jury seriousnes has to be taken with many pinches of salt, I already suspected this on many occasions, but last week week proved how truly mear mortals some of them truly are #periscope

        • Chris Bellis

          It’s the classiest performance of the contest, but it’s not Eurovision enough to win I feel. The other classy jazz type singer, Zoe, has done a lot better than I expected, so I hope I don’t have to eat my words, and Eurovision has stepped up its game while I’ve not been paying attention. I had Zoe to qualify, so I’m happy with that, but I will be gutted if she does well in the final when the odds have shortened so much.

    • Tom

      Who’s your idea of the most likely winner Hippo?

      • Hippo

        I think it will be Russia at this point but I’m not at all confident. Second half draw,diaspora, bloc support, the most iTunes momentum so far and enough of a wow factor in terms of staging may just be enough. It’s not a jury winner but it will be close enough to overcome that and may storm public vote.
        Apart from Russia maybe Armenia. Armenia could be far enough ahead on the jury and close enough on the televote. The only real dark horse at this point could be Israel but I doubt it has the legs.

        From the rest- Sweden has too many hurdles to list, I can’t see Australia doing much with the public, Netherlands on way too early for that type of song, Latvia has lost all momentum, Serbia also too dark and niche and Amir from France can’t sing.

        • Chris Bellis

          Well summed up. Just one tiny point – Amir can sing, and I’ve seen him sing well in small venues. He is way out of his depth in this venue with this sort of pressure, poor sod. France never seems to get the full package right. They submit a big star and give her a shit song, or they are too off the wall, or, as this year, they nearly get it right but don’t deal with the singer’s nerves. There’s no drug testing in Eurovision so I could recommend various items of helpful medication. Mind you, he’s a dentist so probably has access to all sorts anyway.

          • Walrus

            I don’t think I have seen a nail-on performance of “You”.

          • Chris Bellis

            Walrus – he’s never perfect, agreed, but sometimes his natural charm makes up for that and makes the performance very appealing. He comes across in small venues much better, so he doesn’t have much chance here I fear.

    • Ande

      “The majority of us agree the sympathy vote is a myth anyway”
      so how do you explain Poland qualifying last year?

      • Hippo

        1.Pimp slot,
        2.UK, Ireland, Germany and Baltic allies voting

        Finland also didn’t qualify and couldn’t get televote top 10 with much more media coverage. In the final Poland absolutely failed too, getting close to their base support level.

        I’m not denying it wasn’t there at all but other factors were and always are bigger.

  • Montell

    Do you think after tonight’s semifinal Ukraine’s and Australia’s odds will shorten a little bit? My gut feeling tells it won’t and Russia’s odds will shorten even more although I wish the opposite. Even if I’m right I wonder how short Russia can go. What are the shortest odds of Eurovision winner in history? I remember Denmark 2013 being @1.9 or something but that’s all. I don’t remember what were the odds when Loreen won.

  • Dani Intercity

    More so Australia who I think will go off 2nd fav on Saturday 😉

  • Chris Bellis

    About media interest – the Ukraine song has just (13.50 BST) had a serious analysis on Radio 4, normally a radio channel which would have no interest in Eurovision. This won’t translate into votes, but helps achieve what I imagine TPTB in Ukraine really wanted.

  • Chris Bellis

    For anyone interested, the World at One Radio 4 broadcast is here. Go to 39.28

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07b2qf5

    • Jose Mendez

      Thanks for sharing Chris.

      I was planning to lay Ukraine, till I heard the first response in this clip from the audience (min 41:48). Head says should probably lay, Heart says have faith most people will see it as the truly powerful performance it is. Head still ticking, though !

      • Chris Bellis

        Jose – you’d be brave to lay Ukraine, but who knows what dirty tricks TPTB could get up to de-ramp the performance. They can’t really want to court such controversy with such an obviously political song, with the subject acting as a proxy for the Crimean annexation/repatriation (depending whose side you take).

  • Jess

    I’m sure Ukraine will qualify fine but I don’t think it’s immediately catchy, and that is likely to prevent it from being top 3 in the final (even with the added media interest). I don’t think it’s too dark – I’d say Estonia and Iceland were NQs because the performer was scary (Estonia) and the stage show was a mess (Iceland).

    My qualifiers for tonight are:
    -Latvia
    -Israel
    -Serbia
    -Macedonia
    -Australia
    -Bulgaria
    -Ukraine
    -Norway
    -Albania
    -Belgium

  • Black n Blue

    Here’s my 10 for tonight:

    Latvia
    Poland
    Israel
    Serbia
    Ireland
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Ukraine
    Georgia
    Belgium

    Ukraine ought to come out of the night on top. For me, Jamala’s victory shot will be determined by the public reaction, and hence a shortening in the outright, combined with the press pushing the backstory. If those two things come into fruition within the next 48 hours than Ukraine aren’t to be ruled out.

  • My qualifier predictions for tonight.

    Latvia
    Ireland
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Ukraine
    Norway
    Serbia
    Poland
    Belgium
    Belarus

    I’d like to say Georgia but I suspect that’s probably more of a personal bias (it’s the sort of music I grew up listening to) than something that’s actually likely.

  • Rob4

    Latvia
    Israel
    Serbia
    Macedonia
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Ukraine
    Norway
    Georgia
    Belgium

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