Eurovision 2017 Introduction

Eurovision on-season has begun. Albania kicked proceedings off choosing Lindita and ‘Bote’ – as always, we can expect a significant revamp. There may not be any more chosen songs to hand, but plenty of artists have already been internally selected. 43 countries take part, one more than last year. Portugal and Romania return, whilst Bosnia withdraw.

Today’s rumour, reported all over the Greek media, is that their national final will feature just one artist, Demy, singing three Kontopoulos compositions. The latter is the songwriter behind Eurovision podium finishers ‘You Are The Only One’ (Russia 2016), ‘Hold Me’ (Azerbaijan 2013), and ‘Shady Lady’ (Ukraine 2008).

It was thus no surprise to see Greece nibbled on the Betfair outright market today. Reassuringly, there is decent early betting activity. The next national finals are just over a week away – Gerogia and Belarus on January 20 – followed by an uncharacteristically early UK national final on January 27.

That gives us plenty to talk about already. You can expect the usual weekly round-ups, then coverage of pre-Eurorivison gigs, followed by rehearsals in Kiev leading up to the Grand Final on May 13. Do let us know your early thoughts below.

87 comments to Eurovision 2017 Introduction

  • Nick D.

    My first thought is that the year will have an overarching theme – a battle royale between a Russia that’s clearly desperate to win at all costs (more so in Kyiv than ever) versus Ukrainian producers who *really* don’t want them to.

    My early guesswork is that Russia will get extreme running order pimpage in the semi final, which then gets used to justify bad treatment in the final. I can’t guess what other stunts might be in the pipeline from the two camps, but I expect some fireworks!

    • Ron

      The EBU is closely monitoring Ukraine’s hosting of Eurovision 2017. It’s extremely unlikely that they’d get away with any obvious stunts to handicap Russia’s entry – especially considering that Russia had some words with the EBU over how things turned out with the voting in Stockholm.

      Rumours suggest that Russia will play the “love love peace peace” card and enter a friendly song from an artist with a Ukraine connection.

  • So great to see this post Daniel….four months of ESC build-up…best news of the new year….

  • A false favourite,backed in to crazy odds by walls of state money like last year would do nicely.It was like Russia wanted to pass lots of free cash to UK punters to help the balance of payments.Failing that we might have to work for our winnings this year.

    • Chris Bellis

      Do you reckon Russia was a false favourite? I didn’t care for it myself, but punters across the world voted for it. Or have I misunderstood your post?

    • I think Russia won the televote partly down to a placebo effect. That’s the objective of dirty money fixing you to the top of the markets for the whole season. If it appears to be a winner, punters, commentators and the voters will perceive it as such.

      It’s taken me a while before I’ve got to the point where thinking about Eurovision again hasn’t made me cringe with dread after how last year turned out. Even though Ukraine won officially, there’s been a lingering feeling for me that it was a three-way dead heat between Ukraine, Australia and Russia. Australia won the jury and “won” under the 2015 voting system. Russia won the televote, while Ukraine got the trophy with a morbid song that was practically an anomaly in my own methodology.

      I’m sure people remember my “Everest Test” and I apologise if you’re sick of hearing me rabbit on about it, but I think every year I’m getting a bit closer to finding a “recipe” for Eurovision winners. 2016 was a case where it came down to a bit of a coin toss for me and I called it wrong, but again I sort of didn’t because the 2015 voting system says I was right, so it’s been a real thorn in my side.

      “And I woulda’ gotten away with it too if it weren’t for that Polish televote!”
      Seriously, what happened there? The people of Poland haven’t exactly had a sudden exodus across the rest of Europe between 2015 and 2016. The televote didn’t turn out for Monika Kuzsynska (sp?) and Szpak beat two big favourites in the Polish final. What WAS it about that song in particular? I don’t get it.

      Anyway, what I’ll be doing this year is revising the Everest Test to include, rather than exclude, songs that have a peak moment of emotion but are moving and melancholy as well as uplifting happy and epic. I generally expect happier uplifting anthems to be a far more common occurrence though. Eurovision’s always evolving and is always finding a new way to be elusive which is part of the challenge, but I’m hoping I generally don’t have too much left to learn by now.

      Anyway, onto 2017, not much appears to be happening this year but I’ve taken note that Greece appears to be coming to play. It’s just going to be interesting to see if they can properly finance a big Kontopoulos/Evangelinos production the way Russia and Ukraine can, and maybe they don’t want to win if they don’t want to bear the embarrassment of turning down hosting duties, so that’s definitely the caveat. I think they just want to be back in the top 10, which they haven’t been since 2013.

      Otherwise the market is correct to say Sweden, Russia and Australia are the big players at the moment, they were last year too, so it’s just about keeping an eye on them while sniffing around for anyone that could upset the apple cart. Wouldn’t it be lovely if this was finally the UK’s year?

  • Black n Blue

    One of the first things on my mind is the number of artists selected. Ok, it’s early days yet and we’ve only got one entry, (which isn’t half bad either) but to see that as many as 11 countries had already chosen their artist by new year, shows that there are more broadcasters showing a desire to get involved in preparations earlier, which can only be a good thing.

    With that in mind, I’m cautiously optimistic that we could have one of the best contests of recent years. 2016 gave us an unusual winner from a previously untested voting system, but I think both come with benefit. Jamala proved that daring, ethnically rich and foreign language songs can still triumph, whilst the new system demonstrated that entries can now do reasonably well without having to appeal to both juries and the voting public. Looking back, I like to romanticize over the 2009 and 2012, the two contests that really stood out in terms of quality and diversity of song as of late. Eurovision has since become far too safe and samey, and as enjoyable as the build-up period and shows were, I’ve felt like only a few songs from 2016 were worth listening to on repeat during the off-season; everything else sounded like mush.

    I wouldn’t say I have a methodology such as the Everest test, which I think is well thought through by the way, but when it comes to finding a winner, I’m looking for that moment or spark, the infectious charisma of Lena or the wings flaring out from behind Conchita. The reason I’m wary of sticking religiously to a formula, is because Eurovision is such a broad church where performance is relative to the competition. The problem I see, is that there are so few fixed variables when it comes to winning act, and that putting them all into some kind of equation will only broaden and hence weaken the methodology criteria with each passing year. My aim this year is to focus more on individual qualities of an entry within the context of the current competition rather than dwell off of comparisons made to entries from previous contests.

    Out of the names we’ve gotten so far, O’G3NE stand out for me. They’re not your ordinary girl band that relies on auto-tune to disguise their lack of talent. The trio have great harmonies, good individual voices, and a strong chemistry, naturally from being sisters. I definitely see them ending the girl band curse, and if the song is any good they could feature at the sharp end of the scoreboard.

    As for the national finals, there’s obviously Loreen making a surprise return, although my gut instinct is that she’ll be looking more so to reboot her career and showcase her new sound than to actually compete for Sweden, but we’ll have to wait and see what the song’s like. Kerli in Estonia is significant too, but I think the song lacks accessibility and might be a step too far into the unknown for a country that’s more comfortable sending middle of the road entries. There’s also been whispers that Emmelie de Forest is involved in the UK NF in some capacity, likely as a writer, which at least at least shows some impetus from the BBC. That along with the move of the show to BBC Two and a bigger venue hopefully means that there’s some good material in there and they want to show it off to a bigger audience.

    I probably won’t be punting on as many selections this year, as
    I’ve found that the Scandi’s are the only one’s that don’t screw me over financially as much as oddball selections in Belarus or Poland. I’ve never been to Eurovision, and I would love to go to Reykjavik, so Iceland, if you could make that happen for next year that be great!

  • PurpleKylie

    I just hope for a drama-free contest after what happened last year with the whole Ukraine-Russia can of worms. That was enough eurodrama for one year.

    The pessimistic side of me worries that Russia will try to cause as big of a scene off-stage as possible, I really hope it doesn’t happen and I would actually respect them if they tried to keep their off-stage antics relatively low key this year.

    Something tells me that this year’s winner won’t be one of the “usual suspects” like Ben thinks, I probably will be hilariously proven wrong but in my gut I feel like a country like for example France or Poland might come out of nowhere with a stunner and win.

    Of course, we’ll see what actually happens in the next couple of months.

  • Hippo

    After last year which was my first following everything in such detail from the start of national final season I feel I need to slightly modify my thought process a little. Looking back, I tended to get much more right based on my initial reaction than after listening several times. For example, my first thoughts for Australia were solid top 5 whereas repeat listens really took their toll on me. Serbia, Malta and Czech Rep were likewise overrated by me with my first thoughts all much closer to the mark.
    Something I’ll definitely bare in mind this time.

    From a personal point of view, last year’s contest was one of the weaker ones. To echo Black n Blue, I also feel thesongs were very bland and non descript and whilst the Swedish production was great and saved it, it all felt a little soulless in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. That’s partly the reason I’m looking forward to this year quite a lot, it always helps to keep things fresh moving to a different corner of Europe, especially after 6 of the last 7 contests being in Scandinavia or Central Europe.

    Anyway, moving on to this year’s already selected:

    Albania should be nq unless it’s a particularly weak year or friendly semi

    Jana Burceska, Blanche, Nathan Trent, Slavko Kalezic and Brandon Murray are all uninspired selections. Hovig can be added to that list but Gson gives him a little advantage and might drag him into the final.

    Dihaj an interesting choice from Azerbaijan who my guess is are going arty ballad again. Maybe top 10 potential.

    O’G3NE might turn out to be a decent choice. Solid vocals, a good enough backlog and professional. Maybe value as an outside shot, I’m just a little wary of the girlband aspect in terms of motivating voters.

    Artsvik isn’t the best Armenia could have sent. I’m expecting a solid yet dull ballad and a lower right hand side placing for now.

    From the ongoing national selections, all but Switzerland have potential qualifiers in them.

    From everything that is out there, Circle of Light is the strongest with only the instrumental letting it down. There’s a top 10 in there if everything comes together.

    In Estonia, Kerli would be the best choice for a high finish but it’s never a winner. It’s not that its too left field, there’s also that its too overproduced and the chorus feels a bit of a let down. In fact I feel the unique aspects to it and esoteric sound cover up a pretty weak song.
    Staging can push it just outside the top 5 at be.

    Demy for Greece I feel will be a major contender. Good looks, likeability and a good enough vocal.
    I’ve Greek family and go out there a few times a year so I’m familiar her and she’s capable with a good enough song. A big statement too going with Fokas and Kontopoulos. I’ve had a few bites at Greece since the first rumours and am just a little disappointed I’ve not had more time to add to it. Still, around 20 not bad value for Greece to win in Kiev again. I get the whole can’t afford to host argument but maybe they don’t care about not hosting. I’m sure the Ebu would love to choose wherever they want. Or maybe they think if Ukraine can then they can too? Or maybe in typical Greek style it hasn’t crossed their minds at all ;). Afterall, it won’t be Demy, her record label or the ‘dreamteam’ having to pay for it so will be up to ERT to try to reign them in if they can.

    After Greece, the other country I’m pretty confident in having a go is Sweden. I’m normally reluctant to back a country to win so soon again but looks like they’re going for it. Plenty of talent throughout Melodifestivalen but Loreen the obvious choice and if anyone is going to win it twice again it would be her.

    Russia will do very well of course and will be there or there abouts. Still, they couldn’t have tried harder last year and still came third. Can see odds going out more than shortening so I’m not touching. I worry juries will always find a song to place above them. On similar grounds I don’t think Australia are great value either. Were given an open goal last year and still fell short on the televote. Both countries might be too reliant on only one half the vote to challenge all the way.

    Apart from those frontrunners, Denmark, Iceland and Norway might be worth looking at to do well if not win. Can’t choose between them at this stage though.
    Other countries I’m keeping an eye on in particular are Serbia, Bulgaria, Poland and the UK, who look the most likely of the big 5 this time around.

    • PurpleKylie

      I’m personally a bit skeptical of the idea of Greece winning. I simply think that last year’s NQ was a major wake up call and it’s scared the broadcaster into making an effort again, nothing more than that. I’d imagine the mere thought of them winning would give the higher ups at ERT a heart attack.

      • James Martin

        It’s not even ERT anymore is it? They were shut down a couple of years back with NERIT rising like a phoenix from the ashes.

        Given how slimmed back NERIT is I’d say Greece winning is not something the high ups there will want…

    • I’m with Kylie on Greece – but if I’ve learned anything from last year, it’s not to write any country off for such a simple, arbitrary reason. The fact of the matter is, Greece are sending a big current name with Sergey Lazarev’s team, so we must give them the benefit of the doubt until further notice.

      I expect Greece’s odds to lengthen once the choices for Demy’s selection show are revealed anyway, because they’ll probably not be jury friendly enough.

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks Hippo. Some good insights there. Some say Albania is not half bad – in the words of the puppets, “it’s ALL bad”. I just can’t see it doing anything without a major re-working, and some training about hitting the big notes on key. This year, as always, Sweden will be up there. I’m also hoping Italy will send one of their stars who can sing in tune on the night. However, it’s already getting exciting, and nobody really knows yet….

    • I know that Albania will be doing their traditional revamp and that normally leads to Final NQ but there are big differences this year. The song is just under 3 minutes already and Lindita is an excellent English speaker/singer, having lived in the US for many years, is married to a US rapper and has already written English lyrics for “World”, as it would be known. To any American viewers out there, she would also be the most recognisable, as she got to the ‘last 51’ stage of American Idol 2016. I get the feeling that Lindita has already got plans for transferring her song from the orchestral overload of FiK to the pop world of Eurovision – I think she’s a good bet for Final qualification at least, even at this stage…

    • eurovicious

      “To echo Black n Blue, I also feel the songs were very bland and nondescript, and whilst the Swedish production was great and saved it, it all felt a little soulless in a way I can’t quite put my finger on.”

      Perfectly summed up. One way of putting it, for me, is that as Eurovision has become more gay it’s become less queer. The event has kind of come out of the closet since 2013 (insofar as it was ever in it which I think is debatable) in terms of the gay jokes and supposed nods to gay inclusion that characterised SVT and DR’s hosting. I think the ORF year was great and got the balance just right, and I think SVT have done a great job and they definitely handle the show’s campness and light-entertainment nature better and more naturally than DR did. But… well, perhaps a better way for me to put it than saying ESC has “come out” is simply to observe that what was subtext has now been made text, and the show’s erstwhile intrinsic eurokitsch has hardened into a slightly too knowing and forced campness that isn’t organic or just there for its own sake but which exists to meet a perceived expectation of campness. Compare the raw, organic, artisanal home-brewed camp that Eurovision has offered for decades (indeed as late as 2008-9, arguably also 2015) with the calculated, committee-written, self-congratulatory pseudo-camp (performance of camp?) we now seem to get when a Scandinavian country hosts and wants to trumpet how progressive they are (in Denmark’s case managing to insult/patronise gay people while doing so). In short, the mentality of “it’s Eurovision, so make it camp and gay” in terms of how certain broadcasters approach the contest (including the BBC to a fair degree) has been to the detriment of the show’s actual queerness, subversive potential and cultural interest. ESC’s natural tacky charm, diversity of acts good and bad (but at least all different, and genuinely sounding like they come from other countries) and ability to act as a portal into another world – the things I/we grew up loving it for – seem to have gone the way of the orchestra as the show has hardened into something that resembles a corporate product in look, feel and sound, almost entirely dominated by incredibly safe and unchallenging HR-compliant songs.

      • Hippo

        Definitely agree with that, and the rest of you. I’ve always been fond of more backseat productions, were the artists and songs are the avenue for any campness. Everything else comes across as manipulative pr branding and definitely feels too forced.

    • Black n Blue

      “As Eurovision has become more gay it’s become less queer”

      Exactly. My take on this is that Eurovision always felt like counter culture; for years it was the only remotely camp thing on TV, breaking from the straight-laced format of other talent/competition shows in the 80’s/90’s. Dramas and even comedies were quite formal, particularly in Britain, and as you’ve described EV, the contest was unashamed to be different in its almost punk-like subversion, at a time when everything else was dull. What’s happened since is the X Factor, Strictly, Glee, RuPaul’s Drag Race (none of which I’ve any interest for) and a myriad of other shows that have contributed to making TV more camp, and normalizing gay culture within the mainstream. I wouldn’t say that the contest has become less camp, it’s just there was a time when that was one of the contest’s biggest selling points, whereas now it’s just one of many shows that has a bit of colour to it. Perhaps, Eurovision’s problem is that it’s trying too hard to come across as pro-LGBT, especially under SVT, and in doing so is sacrificing its old character of not deliberately trying to impress anyone or any particular political agenda.

      My theory regarding the soulless songs of late, is that Eurovision is becoming more dead set on trying to reflect the Pop industry, which is itself becoming more insipid by the day. If you were to select any song from the charts, only play its backing track, and then ask me which of Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, One Direction, the Chainsmokers, or Clean Bandit sings it, I’d have a tough time giving you the answer because they all sound the same. I think Eurovision has always reflected the industry, it’s just at least I could dance to a b-rate take on Wham! or Michael Jackson as opposed to being left in the cold listening to One Direction left-overs.

      • It was the BBC who outed Eurovision, ironically, putting all the single men right at the front of the NIA at Birmingham ’98.

        The thing is, though, that the PC/Tolerance brigade has really started to gather steam in the last 5/6 years, and in Eurovision’s case that meant Conchita’s victory.

        I don’t think it’s that Eurovision has become less camp, it’s just after a lot of Ethnopop after the Eastern run of victories in the 00s, we’ve had a Western run of victories this decade and as a result the winners, whom other countries try to emulate, have sounded different.

      • It’s an interesting view on the hosting too. I’ve loved all of the 2010’s productions apart from Baku and Vienna – I thought the ORF show was particularly poor. Conversely, I thought SVT’s two productions and DR’s production were brilliant.

        • I thought DR’s production was fine in terms of the venue and how everything looked (the stage and camera tech were especially impressive), just the hosting and the scripts were terrible. The Swedes did humour and warmth much better in 2013 & 2016. The 2015 venue was a bit small but so was Malmö, and the fake cheering was definitely an issue and detracts upon rewatching. I liked the three hosts and Conchita. I was fine with the 2012 hosts too – it was just like a 2000s Eurovision in that they did the job and played it straight.

          I really don’t think all the eastern Europeans who televoted for Conchita were part of the “PC/Tolerance brigade”, insofar as there is such a thing (which there kind of is, I guess, and I get what you mean about it having become more vocal in the past 5-6 years due to social media etc.) and that it’s monolithic (which it absolutely isn’t)… quite simply it was a bloody good song and performance (and very striking) in a very bland field. All of that applies to Common Linnets too, but it was perhaps less suited to the Eurovision audience. Dana International didn’t win in 1998 because of PC. I agree and have said before that a biological woman wouldn’t have won with Rise Like A Phoenix, but it’s always about the complete package, and Conchita similarly wouldn’t have won with That’s What I Am or any of her post-victory songs like You Are Unstoppable, Heroes or Firestorm either. There’s a reason I’ve been a fan of Tom Neuwirth since first seeing him on ORF’s Starmania in 2006, yet not a fan of any of the other countless gay talent show auditionees who’ve come and gone in that time, and it’s that he’s a great and brave performer with a powerful voice and a magnetic stage presence – empowered and empowering. I found him just as inspirational in 2007 performing Goldfinger in the final of Starmania as I did in 2012 and 2014 (though at the time I slightly, though only slightly, wished he hadn’t had to resort to drag because I really enjoy him performing as himself). Even as a teen on Starmania, he had a complete ease with his identity that I think many gay men envy and struggle to achieve; the fact he’s from the culturally conservative Austrian Alps makes it even more remarkable. He’s radiant and powerful and not self-focused, there’s an ethos and edge to his performances, about representing, reaching out and being unafraid. Basically I just mean he’s not Zoli Adok and that’s why gay men as well as people in general love him (sorry Zoli).

          You’re right about the ethnopop vs. western pop thing. I love ethnopop, so for me, 2004-2008/9 was the modern contest’s great period. 2012 too, while not a year of pop per se, had a lot of great, serious songs that really reflected the countries they came from. Even 2013 was incredibly bland but had a massive number of non-English entries – now we’re at the same level of blandness but we’ve lost the languages too.

          • Hippo

            Agree again. I grew up with the ethnopop era and it’s a shame nothing is really coming through the contest in that genre anymore. It’s just nice to see and hear stuff that you don’t normally get the chance too, no matter how superficial the application may be.

            I’ve never really minded Denmark much as hosts and I rate them better than both Sweden’s go’s and Austria. I think Germany made the best attempt at it recently all things considered followed by Azerbaijan and Russia. On all objective levels, Ukraine will probably be one of the worst of the last decade with low production values and haphazard organisation but I can’t help feeling I will enjoy it more than the last few years.

            I do feel we are back to the east holding the advantage again with the new voting system and some of the voting trends. The main question for me will be how big an advantage juries will give to the strongest western act. I suspect the Ebu worry about that too with that new weighting of jury/public can be changed by the (predominantly western) reference group clause.

          • I agree with Eurovicious on the point that Eurovision would benefit from more songs that reflect the countries they come from and, to quote an earlier point of his, open a door to another world. That, after all, is what attracted me to Eurovision and actually changed my outlook on the world on a very personal level. Particularly with Norway’s 2006 entry.

            I just don’t think that this necessarily has to be done with queerness, (although I’m not saying EV meant that.) I also don’t think it means we must have more native language ethnopop either because that risks making the contest dated. Let 2004-2006 be 2004-2006.

            What I AM against is the total Swedification of some countries like Azerbaijan, Cyprus and, last year, Malta. G:Son in particular needs to stop sticking his fingers in everyone’s pies, although I’m fine with him helping on production, (to polish up Georgia’s last two entries for example.) This explains why Sweden on a map looks like a giant floppy wang hanging over the rest of Europe.

            For all the “soullessness” the contest may have shown recently, (trust Scandinavia,) you have to admit it’s gradually shedding some of it’s popular image of bad taste – and as a result, the big 5 countries plus other long-time western participants are all making reasonably earnest efforts now. The British tabloids don’t moan about political voting as much these days either, although presenting the televote separately has the potential to upset that in the future.

            But I digress, I made the point on my 2015 Eurovision Wipe that Albania’s “I’m Alive” might sound like it could be on a Kelly Clarkson/Leona Lewis album, but the fact is that it was written by Kosovo-Albanians and performed by an Albanian, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s Albanian music – and that song did a lot to improve my perception of Albania as a country. By comparison, imagine my perception of it based on their 2007 entry!! *shudder*

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP2OECgTA5k

            And elsewhere in Europe, I think entries reflecting the country which sent it can be done in more subtle and contemporary ways than by arguing for non-English lyrics and traditional instruments. For example, I think Margaret Berger did an excellent job at representing a highly exportable “glacial” brand of Norwegian electropop, (see Royksopp) and Karin Park, had she sung Human Beings properly, would have done the same. Finland has it easy – just send some accessible rock or metal or be gothic. Ireland and the UK did quite good on that front too with Joe and Jake and Molly Sterling, despite the results. Italy, Armenia and France are also quite consistently good at being themselves… even J’ai Cherche still felt French despite the English chorus.

            So all in all, let’s not make this problem out to be worse than it is. I think it’s just very important to balance the need to build on Eurovision’s ability to create hits and keep the show relevant, with the need for variety and representation of alternative and world music. Eesti Laul does this well. There’s space for queer culture of course but that, ethnopop and reinstating the language rule are not the only ways to achieve nationalistic variety.

            And now to undermine my entire point by saying I really quite like this, from this year’s A Dal in Hungary:

      • Thank you for voicing what I was edging towards but didn’t quite venture – the idea of Eurovision as counterculture (especially in the pre-internet era).

        “Eurovision’s problem is that it’s trying too hard to come across as pro-LGBT, especially under SVT, and in doing so is sacrificing its old character of not deliberately trying to impress anyone or any particular political agenda.” – yeah, and I’m not gonna either begrudge it for that or say that it should always be like that, because it’s just a phase, and getting content like the mock gay wedding in 2013’s Swedish Smorgasbord onto eastern European television indeed qualifies as “punk-like subversion”. I liked the hosting and scripts in 2013 and 2016, how it displayed a genuine love of the contest while also harking back to 70s-style variety with the skits and musical numbers etc., but I also liked how Austria quite matter-of-factly handled queer inclusion without making a song and dance of it by simply having Conchita be there, be herself and be a major part of things throughout all the shows. What’s great about that is viewers don’t think “this is for gay people” during a Conchita segment or performance the way they might during some end-of-the-pier Swedish musical skit with a load of shirtless muscle men.

        Your comments about the current state of Anglo-American pop music and how Eurovision simply increasingly reflects that are bang on. I don’t know quite what’s happened over the past few years, but everything’s become so interchangeable, edgeless and anodyne. Even in 2011-2012, a period dominated by downbeat balladeers like Adele, Gotye, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande and Lana del Ray, at least the songs were well-written and emotive with something to say, even if they weren’t that much fun. (Interestingly, ESC 2012 was also the year of good ballads.) Now everything is just vaguely upbeat filler. The Chainsmokers are a case in point – “#Selfie” was a great piece of social satire but their stuff since has been totally bland. It’s all advert music, I mean Clean Bandit are talented but it’s just all listless sofa-ad material.

        • James Martin

          Vienna had two blokes kissing as well and it’s always had an air of “this is going out in Russia and Azerbaijan” added to it.

          • Yeah. Which I endorse, especially when it’s an eastern country (Lithuania) doing it as a way of stating values partly in relation to Russia. Israel had a gay kiss in 2000 too when it wasn’t as en vogue. In 2015 I also seem to recall the camera cutting to two blokes in lederhosen in the audience having a quick kiss, don’t know if that was planned (they didn’t necessarily strike me as gay, though I haven’t rewatched it since).

            Eurovision definitely has a greater global reach than ever, to gay men in particular – in past years I’ve encountered guys from India, Indonesia, the Philippines etc. who’d made the pilgrimage to Eurovision, in most cases disguising from their family why they were there by saying they were on a study/work trip, as Eurovision is now so strongly associated with gayness. The “this is going out in Russia” effect is important, but doesn’t have to be done in a self-satisfied or paternalistic way (or by turning the show into a pride parade), that’s my issue with the DR/SVT hosting – it was all about trumpeting progressive credentials and portraying Scandinavia/Western Europe as morally superior for being so tolerant and inclusive etc. Again, I don’t wanna be too negative because I thought 2013 got it pretty much right on its own terms, and I’d take 2016 over 2014 anyday, it’s just the cumulative effect of the last three Scandinavian-hosted events has made the contest start to feel like a “gays are cool!” after-school special written by straight people in their late thirties who think they’re right-on. Queerness can be implicit and organic without having to be awkwardly telegraphed.

        • Black n Blue

          One of the difficulties with Eurovision is striking the balance between sending something cultural and also trying to capture an essence of the modern industry. Very few manage to do that without turning off either the juries or the televoters, and I think the result is, as you say, andoyne and edgeless material that’s not really designed to leave any sort of lasting, meaningful, impression on the listener out of fear of challenging an audience’s preconceived expectations of a “good song”. 2012 was the last year where we got the best of both. Greece, Cyprus and Romania perfected uptempo ethnopop, Estonia, Azerbaijan and Germany brought the once tired ballad format into the 21st century, France, Italy, and others took the bilingual approach without sounding clunky, while Serbia, Spain, and the UK sent quality classical ballads rooted in each of those countries cultures. It was a year when there was something for everybody, a lineup that had a lot more stylistic dimensions than all the years proceeding it.

          I wish countries rather than taking inspiration from the anglosphere, (mainly American pop) would look more towards showcasing their domestic industry in best light. EV, every year you highlight some great contemporary Serbian and Albanian music that we never experience at Eurovision, even though it sounds like the kind of music people would take to if they were given a chance to hear it. Similarly, that Hungarian song Ben’s highlighted above is contemporary, and I wouldn’t say it’s hindered by it being sung in the native tongue, if anything it emboldens it as a distinctive piece of music. The question is whether or not people would vote for it over the usual chart fodder that it would come up against if selected?

          For example, here in Ireland, there’s such a wide chasm between what we send what we actually listen to. Nicky Byrne barely grazed the top 50 on Spotify, and then you get our hopelessly naive commentator Marty Whelen, calling the the result a disgrace once we had inevitably failed to qualify. It’s not a disgrace. If the Irish didn’t care for the song then why should the rest of Europe care for it? There’s no introspection within the enclaves of RTE as to why we fail, and it’s a shame because we have a thriving Indie/Alternative scene with acts like Walking on Cars, Hozier, Kodaline, Lisa Hannigan, Damien Rice, and more who write quality songs, that are performed with a distinctiveness and an authenticity that is appreciated both domestically and abroad. It’s the sort of sound that people would associate as being Irish, without it appearing in any way twee, Celtic or featuring the colour green. Molly Sterling was probably the closest entrant to this template, although I think her selection was more of an accident (due to Nikki Kavanagh’s live vocal) then any sort of push by RTE to send a genuinely good song and a credible upcoming artist. There’s a bit of room to select something alternative for Brendan Murray to sing this year, although putting my two cents down, It’ll be a mundane Ed Sheeran song, written for the contest, something just to get us to the final that’ll have no life after it. Ad-music as you’ve put it.

          • Couldn’t agree more, and you’re so right about 2012. Showcasing the domestic music industry and giving not just domestic acts (in most cases a given) but also domestic songwriters and producers (far from a given these days) a European platform for their music is what Eurovision should be all about. Ben’s comment on Elhaida’s “I’m Alive” testifies to this – it was written and produced by a team responsible for a lot of other Kosovan/Albanian hits, and was thus genuinely reflective of contemporary Albanian pop. Much of the problem is that state and commercial broadcasters have totally different approaches to popular music and entertainment, with commercial broadcasters unsurprisingly being much stronger on the commercial music front and state broadcasters less “down with the kids” and trying to be more highbrow in contrast – whether in the UK, Germany, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria etc. (Plus in some smaller eastern European countries, the big stars are often tied into contracts with the commercial broadcaster or its record label, meaning they can’t work for the state broadcaster. Or the state broadcaster rejects potential entries by acts associated with the commercial broadcaster, as happened in Serbia in 2013 when the RTS Eurovision committee rejected almost all the NF songs submitted by its commercial rival.) Poland is doing better in terms of its ESC approach than many – Cleo, Margaret and Michal Szpak are all genuinely massively popular there.

            I worked with Marty Whelan in 2011, he’s a true gent, but yeah, it’s daft hyperbole to call Nicky Byrne’s failure to qualify a “disgrace”. He’s a poor singer, and it’s a mistake to expect domestic stars to travel, especially long after they’ve peaked, even if they were in an internationally successful group.

            Apropos Albania, I haven’t posted anything from Kenga Magjike this year (mostly cos it was really weak unfortunately) so here we go. (And I wish Xhesika Polo’s FIK entry had lived up to her past KM entries!)

          • I should add, Ukraine probably does a better job of sending entries that reflect its domestic pop scene, probably more so than any other country (though Norway is really good at this too). Eurovision really means something to Ukraine, and the broadcaster totally understands it as a platform for showcasing modern Ukrainian music and culture. I’d hoped for more big names in this year’s NF, like Dzidzio, Onuka, Ivan Dorn or Quest Pistols, but nevertheless it’s great that Vitaly Kozlovsky (the Ukrainian equivalent of Slavko Kalezic), Green Gray and Payushchie Trusy (like Girls Aloud but with a more comic bent) are competing. We’re not doing too badly in the Balkans so far this year either – if you’d asked me at the end of 2014 my dream entrants for Albania and Montenegro, I’d have said Lindita Halimi and Slavko Kalezic. His album is great if you haven’t heard it – 40 mins of queer progressive electropop/eurodance in Serbo-Croat https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=3MixVRYuVXc The downside being that if he turns up at the semi and performs some gay eurodance extravaganza in high heels the juries aren’t likely to take to it.

            Fans and fansites are getting (over-)excited about the possibility of Gery-Nikol representing Bulgaria at the moment. Don’t know how realistic that is – every year there’s a similar “Will Serbia send Jelena Karleusa?” fuss and it obviously never happens. In a blue moon, I’d love a proper chalga song or something like this:

          • Black n Blue

            I agree. Ukraine, Norway and few others including Estonia have the right kind of idea. They don’t get hung up on pandering to the rest of the continent. I’m intrigued to see what Azerbaijan do with Dihaj. She and her band have their own left-field, new age image and sound, and aren’t fussed about trying to come across as relevant. The last thing Azerbaijan need to be doing is saddling this group with Thomas G: Son, or whatever Swedish writer they usually draft in to write their entries. I wonder how that’ll all work out…

          • beckettfitz

            So what about European countries with popular EDM artists? So if France sends DJ Snake, Belgium sends Lost Frequencies, The Netherlands send DJ Tiesto or Cheat Codes, Sweden (!!) sends Avicii or Swedish House Mafia, is that showcasing their “domestic music industry” and trend hopping at the same time?

            Speaking of Sweden, I wonder if the likes of Max Martin, Shellback, etc would ever produce or write a song for Eurovision.

          • James Martin

            The fall from grace of RTE has been spectacular hasn’t it. The BBC have had a rough ride in this century but from four wins in a decade to not qualifying really eclipses it.

            Like the UK, Ireland exports great pop music. They should be doing better on paper.

            I like Marty as a commentator, often watch the semis via RTE due to the way the BBC botch them.

  • Isn’t the Allocation Draw normally done around now? Get a move on Kyiv…

  • James Martin

    Here we go again!

    Firstly, we’ve got some of the most chaotic organisation (or lack of) since 1991 from NTU so God knows what could happen.

    I like the theory that NTU may attempt to deramp Russia. I don’t think anybody is particularly keen on another trip to Moscow, not least of all the gay community.

    Could Australia win? Top 5 and a second place with a massive effort put in by SBS on both occasions suggests to me that an Aussie victory is inevitable at some point.

    The UK NF is an interesting one. It’s not only very early but the BBC have gone for a bigger venue, a higher profile channel, and a professional jury alongside the public vote. Joe and Jake were relatively popular with the juries in Stockholm, but bombed in the public vote. What the UK public votes for is very different to what the continent votes for. I think the BBC pimped J&J to say “Look, The Voice produces stars, honest!” and deramped Bianca.

    On top of that, the Emmelie DeForrest rumours are certainly very exciting.

    How many commentators on here are predicting a Jemini-style post-Brexit backlash? I don’t think it’ll be an issue – I’ve always stood by my belief that political voting is a myth.

    • Black n Blue

      I’m on the same train of thought regarding the UK. As critical as many of us on here have been of ‘You Decide’, at least the Beeb are taking it on themselves to improve the process, just for the sake of not being embarrassed again. We’ve had big rumored names before, but if last year’s edition can have Leona Lewis as one of the songwriters then surely Emmelie, considering the talk of late, should be quids in too.

      About Australia, I’d need to find the source (probably Wiwibloggs!), but I heard a few months back that they would send the most recent X Factor winner to the contest, who has turned out to be Isaiah Firebrace.
      https://youtu.be/3wgmqQJLWe8

    • Isaiah Firebrace, what District is he from?

      The UK will probably come 24th again now that we’ve told Europe to eff off. Theresa May may have a 12-point plan for Brexit but I doubt the BBC has a plan for getting us 12 points.

  • Chris Bellis

    “I like the theory that NTU may attempt to deramp Russia. I don’t think anybody is particularly keen on another trip to Moscow, not least of all the gay community.”

    I’ve been following this site for many years, and been reading stuff about what the gay community thinks for just as long. The gay community has an influence, true, but trust the current gay favourites at your peril when you come to bet.

    By the way, Russia sent Sergey as their representative last year, that’s how gay unfriendly they are. There are many gay bars in St Petersburg and Moscow, and I’ve visited some of them. It’s only the gopniks in the outer suburbs who don’t like gays. If you want to find a really gay unfriendly place, just wait till you get to Kyiv.

    • Fair point Chris… but I like the theory that the Russian delegation will be desperate to win on Ukranian soil… and NTU won’t want them to!

      • Cris Bellis

        James – you are correct there. Russia will pull out all the stops, and particularly on Ukrainian soil (and metaphorical soil) there will be people who try to sabotage that. It’s a pity they allowed such an obviously political song last year, although I must admit it was tremendously well done. I expect Russia to send Serebro or similar, with something on the lines of the Mi Mi sexy Mi song. They do have the acts with international appeal, and they really want to win – money no object. It will make for a lively contest. We do know that none of the following will be allowed to enter Ukraine, even if they are selected.

        Mikhail Boyarskiy
        Yulia Chicherina
        Oleg Gazmanov
        Iosif Kobzon
        Lev Leschenko
        Grigoriy Leps
        Stas Piekha
        Sergey Penkin
        Nikolay Rastorguev (LUBE)
        Aleksandr Rozenbaum
        Valeria Rerfilova

  • James Martin

    I agree it was questionable as to how 1944 and Dancing Lasha Tumbai got through, yet We Don’t Wanna Put In didn’t. The EBU needs to be more aggressive in this regard as I expect quite a few political songs this year a) because you always get a lot of people emulating the reigning champion and b) it’s a very politically charged time. If I had a quid for every article that will blame another poor UK showing on Brexit I would earn far more than I would betting!

    • Chris Bellis

      Good comment James – the UK always blames someone or something else. At least Ireland deliberately sends crap these days, so they don’t have to host the show the following year (according to Father Ted). When we sent a non-entity to sing a song written by Pete Waterman (and rejected by Rick Astley many years previously) I couldn’t believe that everybody was saying Europe had it in for us. We have got better than we deserved and I doubt this year will be any different, although at least we are getting a bit of a say. Didn’t we get Scooch the last time we had a say though? Public vote isn’t necessarily the be all and end all. Didn’t Matt Terry win X-Factor, against a much better singer? Safe to bet on UK in the last five again I suspect, even though we are getting a public vote this year.

  • Of much interest today is the news that Christer Bjorkman has set out his retirement plans. Surely in his final four years he will want to deliver another Swedish win to equal Ireland’s record seven, so I can’t rule out a third win for Sweden this decade in Kyiv, especially if Loreen wins Melfest. There’s also the fact that it doesn’t really cost SVT that much to host the thing; their two productions are generally considered the strongest of the decade but were also the two cheapest, with Stockholm actually costing LESS than Malmo despite being a bigger affair. I doubt there’s anyone in SVT who’s going to shit a brick if Sweden win again, they can do this stuff with their eyes shut. Which could also see Petra Mede match Katie Boyle’s record.

    Similarly, Australia remains one to watch like I’ve already said. The arrangement with the EBU means an Aussie win isn’t going to hurt the coffers of SBS much either as they will be co-hosting with another broadcaster, with most rumour mills suggesting that either NDR or the BBC will pick up that role.

  • Chris Bellis

    James – Tend to agree with you about Sweden. I’ve won so much on them over the years, despite the naysayers on this site. Over the years I wished I’d stuck to my formula of Sweden top five, UK bottom five and not bothered with any other bets actually. Last year I won quite a bit on Belgium top ten, which was universally despised here. I missed Bulgaria though, which was stupid since I’ve spent a fair amount of time there with friends who live there. Good lesson: take all sites, including this one, with the pinch of salt. EG Loins d’ici, last year, which I loved, did ok, but got a lot more positive support here than was probably realistic. All the people I knew who weren’t Eurovision fans detested it.

    • The non-Eurovision fans I knew went the opposite way with Poli and “If Love Was A Crime” – they loved it and said they’d put it on their iPod/Spotify playlist etc. Probably explains why it ended up 4th!

    • Yep. I couldn’t understand the hate towards What’s The Pressure and did very well out of it qualifying. A very good commercial pop record.

      You have to be careful with Sweden – they’re kind of a Fanwank Country almost, often trading very short before even a note has been sung at Melfest.

      If you can get an acca on Russia, Azerbaijan and Sweden all to qualify, then it’s probably worth getting on but even then you’ll need to outlay a few bob I imagine.

  • Black n Blue

    Is there a date for the release of the Icelandic songs? Pretty certain I was listening my way through the 2016 bunch this day last year.

  • eurovicious

    Time for my annual “this is what Serbia should send” post:

    https://youtu.be/6KvSLs4rHhU

  • Phil

    I say it most years but it still feels like we’re only a year or two away from the contest heading to Reykjavik. Same for Italy as well probably.

    • My policy with Italy when it comes to betting is that they have absolutely no momentum when it comes to Eurovision.

      San Remo as their selection method lords over ESC, and unless RAI say in advance they will do an internal selection or launch a different show to pick a song, their fortunes at ESC will depend entirely on the songs that enter San Remo. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing as they have been runaway winners with one side of the vote twice in five years, but an entry like Grande Amore was not RAI entering Eurovision with fire in their bellies and hungry for the win – it was merely pot luck that Il Volo decided to enter San Remo in the first place!

      It’s also interesting to note that the only times Italy have entered something lively and uptempo since their return, the song was not a San Remo entry. (2012, 2014)

      Iceland on the other hand showed a lot of ambition last year both in their entry and in the scale and presentation of their NF. I’m fascinated as to why they’ve taken the decision to push their NF back to March. This strongly implies they won’t have their usual revamp of the winner.

  • I must admit as a Eurofan outside of betting my heart sank when Ukraine won last year – my first reaction wasn’t “Shit, why didn’t I bet on them?” it was “Fuck, next year’s production is going to be dogshit.” Certainly their hostings of Junior Eurovision haven’t been exactly, shall we say, spectacular.

    Kyiv is going to be even smaller than Vienna. Yes, Malmo was small too but it didn’t LOOK small on television. By contrast, Vienna looked tiny on screen. Even Wembley Arena looked bigger on screen for the X Factor final.

    Interesting suggestion downthread that Italy may pull of a win soon. One hopes RAI are a little more slick these days if that’s the case. Or at least speak English…

  • 360

    Have we any idea what UK will be sending this year? Is there a TV show for us to choose an entry?

    I have to say the way they have been doing it makes me feel like I have no control of my country’s entry. Joe and Jake, Molly, Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck were really all such left-field choices.

    EDIT: I forgot about that male-and-female couple with the Gatsby-style song. God they were atrociously forgettable.

  • Hippo

    My thoughts on Georgia and Belarus is that both have a chance at qualifying but not much more.
    Belarus has brought a simple, happy and upbeat song which is sure to stand out. I can see televoters liking this but not so much the juries which will cap them. At this point, I think they’ll be mid table in the final.

    Georgia have it a bit harder. The song is ok but who knows how many female ballads we’ll have again so it will face competition. Georgia have an impressive qualification record however, a capable singer and are very good at staging. Gun to my head, they’re through narrowly.

    • PurpleKylie

      I said before Belarus picked their song and after Georgia picked theirs: “oh crap, we’re going to get 42 peace ballads about how crappy the world is, aren’t we?”. It’s the “curse of everyone wanting to copy the formula of last year’s winner”.

      I think Eastern juries will appreciate Belarus. Especially Poland and Ukraine (and possibly Russia) because their languages are most similar to Belarusian.

  • Black n Blue

    It’s funny the way Iceland do things with the native and English language songs. You’re given 12 entries when it’s really 24, and I think the Icelandic versions leave a few songs at an offset (namely the ‘Tropical House’ ones which sound stronger in English).

    On a personal note, I like Bammbaramm a lot. It’s a slightly zany slice of downtempo electro-pop and the electro pulse beat in the backing track really attract me to this, although I’ll admit it likely won’t contend, with there being more accessible songs in the lineup.

    Putting my betting cap back on, the one that left the strongest impression after listening through them all, was the Júlí Heiðar Halldórsson & Þórdís Birna Borgarsdóttir duet. It has the folksy Icelandic touch and overall, is very cheerful and memorable in both languages. Their harmonies work excellently, and I think even just a competent performance of this song should push it over the line to win without much trouble. Given, RUV maximise the staging of this, the two of them could do extremely well at Eurovision.

  • Hi all, dropping back in for the first time this year. Here’s a few initial thoughts from me.

    Albania – I really like the Festival i Kenges sound (2016’s squawkfest excluded) and I do like this one. What remains to be seen is whether this year Albania can get over their Curse of the Revamp. I’m reserving judgement until I’ve heard the final version.

    Georgia – Not really doing it for me personally, and it’s the sort of female solo ballad that runs a risk of being lost in the crowd.

    Both Albania and Georgia run a risk of being labelled Jamala rip-offs.

    Belarus – it’s fun and bouncy. The two songs it reminds me of are Shamo Shampioni (spelling?) and Takasa’s You and Me, both of which I liked. But both of those failed to qualify.

    Regarding Ben Gray’s “recipe”, maybe one factor that was missing from it last year was “media narrative”? Relatively early on I noticed that while the bookies were all about Sergey, the newspapers were all talking about Jamala. A small bet on her carried me to profit last year despite wiping out on pretty much everything else.

    Though of course when talking about a “recipe” the brutal truth is that this *isn’t* an exact science. If it was we’d all be rich.

    So far there isn’t really anything I feel confident enough to put down some green on, but that’s probably normal for this stage of the contest.

    • How early on did you catch the spreading narrative of 1944 though, Phil? I didn’t see it getting anywhere until part-way through Stockholm rehearsals, which is way too late to be useful. And I’m well aware this isn’t an exact science, but I’ve noticed patterns in the past and I figure I’m just doing my best to make sense of them like everybody else here.

      After every Eurovision I always see people discussing how the contest has changed and nobody talks about patterns and what it had in common with previous years, that’s why I keep adapting and sharing it, and if it’s of benefit to myself or anyone else here then all the better!

      • Pretty early. I placed my bet fairly soon after the Ukraine selections, because I’d noticed it had generated some newspaper headlines. The odds were still long for them at that point so a small bet went a long way. Which was handy since I lost my shirt on Iceland.

        A similar thing happened to me with Lordi. People thought I was mad to bet on them at 14/1 but it was the act all the non-Eurovision media were talking about.

        There’s probably an important betting tip in there – pay attention to what the Guardian/Daily Mail/Metro say, not what Wiwibloggs say. If something’s long odds but getting attention outside the bubble, it’s probably a value bet.

        • I was surprised the Guardian, Mail and Metro say anything at all before the rehearsals kick off at least.

          Well I know the Metro like to profile the entries but that’s not exactly “headlines”.

          • Yeah, I was surprised too, but that’s why I took a punt on Jamala.

          • PurpleKylie

            Similar thing happened with Conchita, any non-Eurofansite news coverage that year pre-contest was about her, which in hindsight having better knowledge it should’ve made her eventual victory more obvious to me.

            I know it’s still early days but I wonder who is likely to grab the attention of the mainstream press this year, I worry that Russia’s potential crybaby antics will be this year’s media narrative (especially if they do pick that Ukrainian guy, which will no doubt open a can of worms).

          • Tim B

            I will always remember The S*n’s front page headline on the day of the 2014 final.

            MOLLY: I’M SCARED OF BEING BEATEN BY BEARDED LADY!

          • James Martin

            Liverpool supporter Tim?

            My biggest win came with Conchita when I backed her at 25/1 at 5pm on the day of SF2, which was her semi that year. Ultimately she was the one the mainstream media was talking about whilst certainly I found the bubble was concentrating on the Dutch song came out of nowhere, whether it was the UK’s year this year and fanwanking over Sanna Nielsen.

          • Some of us get off on that.

          • PurpleKylie

            @ James: You don’t need to be a Liverpool fan to hate The S*n (this is coming from a Manchester United fan)

  • UK National Final songs then. Holly Brewer the best in a very mediocre field.

  • Well, all six played. I don’t think the BBC needs to book the O2 Arena just yet.

  • Hippo

    BBC clearly haven’t heard about that old “save the best til last” idea. That went downhill pretty fast.
    Definitely not sending one of the guys, “What are we made off?” is laughably terrible.

    I make it a two way contest between Lucie Jones with “I Will Never Give Up On You” and Olivia Garcia with “Freedom Hearts”. Both good if not dull but the Uk can do so much better.

    I think Lucie is the more likely winner, has the most potential and could get left hand side or a low top 10 with the right staging (which is improbable) and a lucky draw. Should avoid bottom 5 at the least.
    Might also get pimp slot if Beeb want to show off having a Eurovision winner as writer and try to encourage more entries.

    A step up from last year at least.

  • My #EurovisionYouDecide essay, by Ben Gray. Age 28 and three quarters.

    Lucie would be my choice. I’ve been wanting us to send a simple piano ballad, preferably with folk overtones just to see how the BBC might handle the staging for it, and because that kind of simplicity has been a relatively easy sell here over the last few years. (Read All About It etc.) I agree it could do with a few more layers though. Dunno if the BBC will allow anything to be done with the song if and when it’s picked, but there’s definitely time to do a sneaky revamp this year.

    Nate would be my second choice. I know it sounds suspiciously OGAE-picked but I like his voice, it’s not what I’d expect to hear on a slightly theatrical bit of schmaltz like that, and it’s got a bit of progression at least, unlike the dire ‘Miracle’ last year.

    Don’t really like Freedom Hearts much, but I can tell it’s “Bri’ish,” to quote Simon Cowell. It’s kind of sassy and distinct in that way and it grows on you after 2 or 3 listens, but we’ve only got one performance in May. The chorus is a bit awkward but it could sound better live if they do something with the vocal arrangement.

    I’ll pass on the others. Salena had promise but then delivered a shitty chorus.

    • Given how last year’s UK NF went with the televote opting for the most Bri’ish song of the lot in the rejection of Scandie schmaltz, I’ve stuck a tenner on Freedom Hearts even though it’s not my preferred entry from a “camm on ingurrlund!” standpoint. Lucie’s in with a shot if the Emmelie de Forest narrative carries, but I think that’s a bit weak. Joe Public here won’t be as easily enthused.

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