Eurovision 2018: Eesti Laul, and recent selections

The are five national finals tonight, though the betting community will also have eyes for Melodifestivalen’s Second Chance round. It’ll be interesting to see how the outright market reacts to Eesti Laul and the presumed coronation of Elina Nechayeva’s ‘La Forza‘. Her success in Estonia has become something of a foregone conclusion.

On this day last year, ‘Verona’ drifted in the betting despite being reasonably ahead in the most important online poll – from the newspaper Postimees. This year’s poll has the opera singer massively ahead of her rivals, reiterating what the odds suggest. The format remains the same: a first round based on 50/50 jury/televote; followed by a superfinal of three with the winner crowned by televote alone.

Tonight’s Finnish event also has the power to heavily impact the outright market. In a break with recent tradition, UMK has the nation choose which Saara Aalto song to send to Lisbon. Fans readily prefer ‘Monsters’ among the three options, and Finland’s current Eurovision odds are based on its victory; if ‘Domino’ or ‘Queens’ cause an upset, you’ll see a big drift in those odds.

Sara de Blue is another expected winner in San Marino tonight with ‘Out of the Twilight‘. Otherwise, Iceland’s Songvakeppnin has failed to develop as a betting heat, given an uninspired collection of songs. Meanwhile, Poland’s national final can be an unpredictable affair – who can forget the market spasm when Margaret was defeated by Michal Szpak in 2016. She’ll be hoping for better luck in Sweden tonight.

Onto recent selections, Michael Schulte justified favouritism in Germany with ‘You Let Me Walk Alone‘. Musically, it’s a ruthlessly efficient Ed Sheeran knock-off, sentimental lyrics and all. On the night, I wasn’t impressed by Michael’s live performance, in which he betrayed nerves and sounded uncomfortable in the higher register. He’ll have to show improvement in Lisbon.

We’ve seen turnarounds from national finals before, of course. Some studios just sound awful, and Moldova have form on this. There’s plenty of evidence that Doredos are more vocally capable than we heard last Saturday when winning in Chisinau. ‘My Lucky Day‘ follows in a long tradition of party folk songs that have served the country well at Eurovision. I wouldn’t discount them doing better than the odds suggest again, but the staging needs to be less ‘Shady Lady’ and more ‘Lautar’.

In Ukraine, I wasn’t totally convinced by Melovin’s tone, not to mention the poor pronunciation. At least he’s consistently a bit off so that it becomes part of his shtick, and he’s got charisma. To my ears, ‘Under The Ladder‘ feels like a lot of bluster for little reward. I’m developing a pet hate this year for lazy “whoa whoa whoa” moments of which Melovin is especially guilty, as is Michael Schulte in his middle eight.

I’m not sure Laura Rizzotto has the vocal chops to carry off ‘Funny Girl‘ for Latvia. It’s a minimalist, jazzy number that relies on her occasionally deviating from a rather repetitive melody, and these are the moments where she doesn’t shine. I currently have this as a borderline qualifier: Latvia are lacking allies in the second semi-final, but they are in the weaker second half of the draw, along with Ukraine.

And Hungary’s AWS with ‘Viszlat Nyar‘. I rather admire the commitment here on the principle that, “if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly”. I thought Finland 2008 was the nearest Eurovision equivalent, but that seems tame in comparison. I find it hard to dismiss its qualifying chances given that it’s well-performed and has a niche.

Also in this half of the second heat is Lea Sirk’s ‘Hvala, ne!‘ for Slovenia. In a Eurovision context, the song is disjointed and aggressive, and I think it’s chances are pretty hopeless as a result. But I rather like it, and will be twerking to the pop drop chorus in the press centre.

Sevak’s ‘Qami‘ was the best choice in Armenia. The former winner of Ukrainian X Factor returned to the land of his heritage, and will be the first one to put its language fully on the Eurovision stage. It’s a very competent eastern ballad, though after the second chorus it ends disappointingly, with Sevak riffing around the refrain to a backdrop of those lazy “whoa whoa whoas” again.

We may be saying ‘Goodbye‘ to Romania’s perfect qualification record, though The Humans will be able to rely on Moldova’s help at least. I quite like some of the elements of this ethereal 80s pop number, but they don’t hang together over the three minutes, and it’s another highly disjointed experience.

Last night brought two new internal selections. Cyprus gave us ‘Fuego‘ from Eleni Foureira. There’s always room for an ethnopop banger in the contest, though this tries to be a credible, contemporary equivalent. Eleni is a great performer – if not singer – and staging will be key. The Cypriot team have to make this look warm and fun, in complete contrast to the official video.

Of all these recent selections, I think The Netherlands have the strongest after Waylon chose ‘Outlaw In ‘Em‘. It’s admittedly derivative in its genre, with hints of Bon Jovi and of ‘Paradise City’. But it’ll be distinctive in the contest, and have its demographic, as the Dutch have shown before with well-performed country songs.

Back to the future, host nation Portugal chooses tomorrow in the Festival da Cancao, when we’ll also get the Azerbaijan reveal. Other internal selections to come before next weekend include Croatia and Belgium on Tuesday, and Austria on Thursday. Exciting times ahead – let us know your latest thoughts below.

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132 comments to Eurovision 2018: Eesti Laul, and recent selections

  • Do you think Finland are artificially short because British punters already know Saara (and of course she has a fanbase in the UK)

  • Anyone watching UMK? It’s interesting, and got Brian Friedman writ large all over it.

  • sawyereurovision

    I was just watching UMK. Saara will bring Monsters to Lisbon. However, her live performance was not very good. Terrible costume. Stageshows not very impressive.

  • Hippo

    Quite interested to see what Azerbaijan have in store, four or five years ago, this country with that team would be trading below tens. Kontopoulos and Fokas made a mess with Greece last year, Kirkorov is busy with Moldova too whilst Azerbaijan’s ambition is questionable. Still, if all of them are on their A- game they could 40s is a big price.

    Apart from them, Belgium and Bulgaria are the only countries left to reveal anything that I’m particularly hopeful for.

  • Finland’s odds have taken a massive crash on Betfair Exchange!

  • The Nefeilibata

    Out of all the national finals this weekend the one I didn’t expect to see an upset was San Marino, they literally passed their biggest chance of a second qualification for a chosen song that is pure jury poison. It’s beggars belief.

    Estonia was the best chosen on Saturday IMO, I’m very skeptical of it winning, but it should end their rut at least

  • eurovicious

    Iceland is monumentally awful, like Father Dick Byrne’s The Moment Is Mine from Father Ted, via Millennium Of Love. (The Icelandic version in the semi worked a lot better for me.) San Marino is similarly dire – how ironic that they went through this whole rigmarole instead of running to Uncle Ralph for a cash injection and ready-made package as usual, yet ended up choosing a song that could easily have come from his stable, right down to the mortifying 90s pop-rap interlude by “Jenny B”, which tramples any residual goodwill the song may have built up to that point. Jennifer was good in the selection and I’m vicariously horrified for her that, having stepped in for the original Italian-language rapper who smartly decided to bail on proceedings, this is now what she’ll be known for.

    Estonia is a piece of kitsch and a fetishization of opera, but soaring and enjoyably competent in an increasingly weak field. I like the moments of quiet which allow for some degree of intimacy and connection with the performer, I like how she plays the camera with expert coyness, and I like the way it builds… but it doesn’t really build *to* anything other than an anticlimax of vocal showboating. What is this song about? What is the emotion it seeks to convey? What does the song mean to the performer? There is the air of fanwank to this, by which I mean I think it’ll be in the lower half of the top 10 and not higher, unless some of the big hitters yet to reveal their songs really underwhelm.

    Poland is nothingy contemporary radio pop. Azerbaijan is underwhelming. Monsters is a tune I enjoy personally, but it looks a mess and feels like both jury and televote anathema. She’s fab but it’s another fanspaff, and they need to totally change the visual presentation if it’s to have a chance.

    This year’s vintage is getting weaker and blander as the season progresses – which means the playing field is open for Belgium, Bulgaria, Russia, or at an outside push Australia, to totally walk this. (Ahem.) And I hate to say it, but in terms of intimacy and perceived authenticity, Germany’s and Spain’s top 10 and top 5 chances shouldn’t be underestimated.

    At least whatever Israel is, it’s unlikely to be bland. In a field like this, that’s a big strength. The fact the song wasn’t written for or by her is a concern, though it’s from the author of Golden Boy and Made Of Stars; I hope they work with her to make the song more unique to her. A decent package that’s really memorable and different while also being sufficiently jury- and televoter-friendly could easily do top 10, even if I think the end result is unlikely to be emotive or vulnerable enough for top 3.

    • Shai

      From what I read about the Israeli song, there were 5 songs selected and she made an arrangement for all of them and eventually “Toy” was selected, so partially she contribute for the song and feels comfortable with it.

      And if I am not mistaken, Israel is revealing it’s song quite late, as one of the last countries doing this, which is very rare for Israel.Your guess is good as mine for the reason behind this.

      • eurovicious

        It’s good to hear that they involved her in the arrangement of the potential songs and picked that one based on her input. If they do a really good job of this, a finishing spot in the 4th-7th range (where the good leftfield credible entries typically land these days) looks achievable.

      • Showlad

        Thanks for that update Shai 😀

    • Couldn’t agree more with EV on Estonia. Elina is a highly impressive vocalist and her facial expressions while performing make it look like she’s miming it. You don’t see anything moving in her neck, no sweat broken… it’s like she’s a china doll.

      Be funny if she is miming and the real singer is backstage somewhere. Actually, I genuinely want to see her sing in a video interview with one of the fansites before I’m 100% convinced otherwise.

      But seriously, the betting market has got to stop hyping operatic entries so much. They do it without fail, to Amaury, Il Volo, even Axel bloody Hirsoux! The problem with operatic songs is that there is never anything to them beyond the impressive vocal.

      Il Volo at least had the Italian romantic aesthetic on their side which is why they walked the televote, but that was a double-edged sword and they were rightly demoted to 6th in the jury ranking for lacking originality at the same time.

      What does Elina offer as a package, besides her voice and a better executed version of Aliona Moon’s staging? It’s something that everyone is objectively impressed by but few actually like and can relate to.

      Operatic vocals are beautiful but if you’re going to win Eurovision with them, you need a bit more than that. A reason to sing that way, or a relevant theme to your song and performance to go along with it.

      Otherwise it’s just this:

    • eurovicious

      Apropos San Marino… what was I just saying about Germany’s mindboggling plagiarism culture? Turns out Jennifer Brening recorded a direct plagiarism of Cool Me Down that Margaret has now been made aware of…

  • Based on nothing but pure instinct, I’m calling it now for the Dutch.

    They’ve been playing the long game for a few years now and I think this is finally going to be the year it pays off for them. Not only do we have way too many ballads, but frankly it’s about time another massive rock anthem won. I think Lisbon with the whole “focus on music” attitude would be the perfect setting.

    • What is the message to the audience, the feeling conveyed? Is he emotionally exposed or vulnerable during the performance? Is he an aspirational personality? Will a broader European public be able to connect to country rock? Does Waylon function as an avatar of his nation? Is the performance timeless or sacral in any way? Does it create connection?

      • Chris Bellis

        I know you’re taking the p, but I think some of us are fed up with messages. Nobody ever asks Brian Johnson of AC/DC what his message is.

        • eurovicious

          I’m not taking the widdle, I’m making a case for why it’s not a top 3… and whoever Brian Johnson is, he wouldn’t win Eurovision either 😉

          • Chris Bellis

            Late reply – I’ve been communing with nature. Brian Johnson is the lead singer of AC/DC, whose album Back in Black is the second biggest selling album in history. But you know that anyway. And if AC/DC entered Eurovision, they would win it. If a third rate pastiche of heavy metal like Hard Rock Hallelujah wins it, I think I could safely say something like Highway to Hell would walk it.

      • John

        Its true that we have to go back to Estonia in 2001 for an entry that had no real story, journey or hook beyond being the most popular up tempo song on the night.

        The Dutch would have to win by virtue of enough listeners thinking a vicarious rebellion c&w toe tapper is their choice on the night. Favourable draw could help this (they ARE due one) but I’m skeptical. I think if the show were tomorrow it would have a very good chance but theres diaspora friendly and jury friendly heavyweights still to come.

        This is an open year though.

      • Showlad

        Eurovicious and John the message in Outlaw couldn’t be clearer – it’s about breaking free and ‘when your back’s against the wall – it’s time to stand tall’. The song is a sexy come on to breaking free and letting the wild side run free. Couldn’t be clearer to me.

        I coyly only reviewed of the newbies Az…earlier today. Let me stand up and become the 2nd blogger today to (sort of) call it:
        Time for me to break free now 😀 just now we have a only 2 songs that can win ESC 2018 Lie to Me is 1 and the other is Outlaw In ‘Em.

        Now there ya go I’ve broken free and nailed my (2) colours to mast 😉

    • Chris Bellis

      Yes, James, this one’s really grown on me. And there’s hardly anything else that’s rock. People will say that rock is old hat. If so why do you hear so much rock on the radio when you’re travelling around Europe. It’s not all dance and europop.

  • Showlad

    Enjoyed your comment there Euroviscious thanks.

    Pre live performance I championed Estonia, Finland and Czeck Rep early doors and largely agree with your post performance updates on the former two.

    Estonia weakish in verses, mind blowingly good in choruses. Dress and voice will ensure standout but overall I don’t see this doing well enough to win. Somewhere 3rd (at a push) to 10th.

    Finland, great song…but much work to do judging on a firing-on-hardly-any cylinders UMK stage show – after all the pre show hype.

    Of my 3 early tips for glory Czeck Rep is nailed on Top 4 for me and possible winner.

    Of new selections I’ll look for now at Azerbaijan: as this is being wildly underrated on here.

    Catchy generic Swedish pop with some nice touches (I like the strumming acoustic guitar in the mix etc) – tick.
    Beautiful singer – tick.
    Great live singer – very much so – girl is a bit of an all round gifted major talent from playing to singing – the real deal – no Azeri beauty needing helped out by a throng of Swedish backing vox this time round – tick.
    Now this is no unique, revelation of a song, but if anything is even less dated than Sergey’s You Are The Only 1.
    With no LED’s in Lisbon Fokas will stage the hell out of this and let his imagination run creative riot. He’s staged 2 ESC winners and a few close calls. With the Azeri budget in abundant supply the staging should be totally eye catching and a major talking point. This guy brought the unremarkable Hold Me for the Azeri’s into runner up slot with his attention grabbing and entertaining red lady in the glass box classic ESC moment.

    So whilst I totally agree – yes yes yes – X My Hearts has all been heard before, but with a great singer, and a beauty at that, and Fokas’ staging this could easily be Top 5 or even Top 3 at ESC 2018.

  • Showlad

    Of the ‘undeclareds’ big hitters:

    Israel – yes Neta – like an Israeli Rebel Wilson (I say affectionately) has an infectious, unique and highly likeable and powerful stage presence. The songwriter (and the submission window still gave him a short time to write a song for a her specifically, which the Toy title could well ref her ‘vocal looper’) knows how to write frantic, catchy, pop. This could be anything from a very serious contender to NQ.

    Australia – unless it’s out of this world I don’t think Jessica will deliver in sufficient amounts to win.

    Russia – even if another Million Voices – with the cynicism and anti-Russia vibe I can’t see this doing it either.

    Belguim have a shout if the song brilliant – but at mo she is a TOTALLY unkown quantity and a stab in the dark hopeful punt.

    Bulgaria – who knows? But get a feeling of a great song that will go very close again but not yet get them the Gold.

  • John

    I too think Azerbaijan is being underrated. It’s very catchy and well constructed, which is a bit rare this year with all the ‘contemporary’ entries that chuck in a rap or dubstep halfway through. I back it for top 10 at least. Plus her voice is lovely and has an honest quality. This year’s Zlata Ognevich to charm the heck out of everyone.

    San Marino commits the crimes I mentioned, but is actually not terrible and if there’s opportunity to tentatively back qualification (or at least lay last place) I will do so.

    Netherlands have a banger and is, IMO, nailed on Top 10, and in a year like this, perhaps better. After two 11th place finishes for them it’ll be nice to actually them bet this year.

    There’s little buzz around Sweden and Benjamin Ingrosso but I get vibes of Michael Jackson’s You Rock My World off this song (it’s not as good) but I think it’s cool enough for a top 10 and some jury love when it inevitably gets picked next week (if Rolandz gets robbed).

    Estonia is an empty vase for me. I’ve no idea what she is saying or what I am meant to be feeling. It’s just a lovely voice. This won’t place high once some of the others get polished this year. We’ve still got some promising countries left.

  • sawyereurovision

    I enjoyed Waylon’s Outlaw in ‘Em very much. It’s one of my favourite songs now. However, I don’t think Europe has a like for country music. Rock yes, but country is stranger to many people. Juries will find it too American also. It can finish with a good record but winning, no in my opinion.

    We can rule out Finland too after terrible live performance last night.

    Spain is a very good potential winner at the moment if you ask my opinion. This song can touch to the heart of people. If they can create a romantic, magical ambiance, they can win. Why not? Odds good now.

    I’m ruling out Estonia too. Superb voice but nothing special about song. Opera doesn’t win in Eurovision. Remember Sognu.

    2 countries I’m keeping an eye on: Israel and Bulgaria. Very curious what Bulgaria will deliver this year. If song is hit, if artist is charismatic, they can become instant favourite! About Israel, the singer looks INTERESTING. What she will do with that strange machine, i’m very curious. We need to see the act first but Israel can be a potential winner too.

    Unlike other years, This year I’m not interested in MF Result since I can’t see any potential winners. Expecting Benjamin to win the contest btw.

    I’m curious about 10 and 12 March. See you soon!

    • Showlad

      Hi Sawyer. I think Europe has a liking for whatever is great on the night.
      Waylon would have won (as part of The Common Linnets in 2014) with full on country muisc apart from the phenomenon that was Conchita Wurst.
      Ukraine in Jamala won with a haunting drama of soul and ethno. Italy won the public vote by a landlside with opera in Il Volo and last year Jazz with a retro silent movie era feel won.

      Europe more than ever votes for the best singer and song and performance on the night ;);)

  • To be very honest, I think the ‘message’-theory is sometimes a bit overrated. Perhaps even slightly exaggerated. Sometimes the message, the story, really has something to tell. I can Conchita’s “Rise Like A Phoenix” is perhaps the best example. Or not to mention “1944” and that whole backstory.

    But story and message alone is not enough. We all know that part is hidden in the lyrics. But if you put it like that, then every Eurovision entry has a message.

    What counts more is the emotions that an entry can stir up, with televoters and judges alike. That’s the most important thing. It needs to ’emote’.

    A televoter could identify with a certain story yes, but that usually counts for the more slow-tempo songs or ballads. “1944” is a good example, perhaps “Calm After The Storm” too.

    But sometimes the story is also a lot of bonkers. Simply put: A great fun party. I didn’t see exactly what the message of Manga from Turkey was in 2010, except that it was a lot of fun, and it was uttermost ‘instant’. Like you were expriencing a real concert.

    I think Waylon’s “Outlaw In ‘Em” has that quality. It doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, or give you short memory flashes of your own break-up. No, what it does to people’s emotions is perhaps something very pure: Entertain. Grab televoters and jury’s by the balls. And don’t let them go.

    Make no mistake, rock is not my favourite genre. And if it was for me, I would have preferred Netherlands to send something really new and different, like dance-duo Yellow Claw or reaggaeton from Chef’Special. But my personal taste doesn’t matter a dime.

    • Thomas

      I agree with you here. The ‘song-with-a-story-wins’ theory doesn’t hold up every year. Heroes, Euphoria and Only Teardrops didn’t have significant stories. They just had excellent presentation and were just ‘sold’ perfectly to the tv audience.

      And I find that Outlaw in ‘Em has that same character. This song (and probably performance too) just screams: ‘Cool’. That is its selling point and Waylon as a performer has that same charisma. The song matches the performer and that will convey its selling point to the tv audience.

      I also am a bit on the fence on how to place song this in terms of genre. Everyone is saying this is country, but I would classify this more in the bluesy and ‘classic’ rock and roll categorie where bands like Guns ‘n Roses and Aerosmith are in.

      • The Nefeilibata

        It’s “country rock”, which being mildly familiar with the American country scene, is a real subgenre.

        I do agree that a “message” is not necessary for a song to win, it simply has to spark some sort of positive emotional reaction in viewers, the “wow” factor.

        • eurovicious

          Let me put it another way – I don’t think it’s going to attract a sizeable votership under 30.

          • Thomas

            I am with you there. This type of music is just not ‘in the charts’ and therefore that demographic is not exposed to that kind of music on a daily basis. Truth is, the same argument can be made against Conchita or Salvador or Estonia this year for that matter.

            The performance will be key here, just as with the ones mentioned above.

      • Mark dowd

        With respect, Only Teardops had a massive message… Learn that military conflict (in Europe and by inference, elsewhere) is an admission of failure… War is destructive and sows seeds of future resentment… In essence it was the vision that led to basis of the European Steel and Coal Community, forerunner of the current EU.

        It was, IMO, a decent and worthy winner in 2013.

  • Hippo

    Belgium has leaked, quite James Bond- esque, very much like The World is Not Enough. Sounds like a top 10 to me.

    • Great entry indeed. TOP 10 yes. Not so sure if it can go all the way to TOP 3. But personally, since I am a huge James Bond fan myself, I loveee it 😛

    • John

      Hmm. Not feeling it. Like Latvia its shackled to an uneven pace and a bit too clever/doesnt entertain. For me anyhow. I think its yet another dud.

    • Showlad

      Bel: one class act. Dated but cool. Rhythm section of Kylie’s Confide In Me and a vibe of Adele’s Skyfall.

      Will depend on staging and singer’s stage presence.Could do VERY well with juries tho 😉

    • Melisandre

      Quality entry from Belgium. Not as good as City Lights but she is a much better performer than Blanche. Possible top 10.

    • Ben Cook

      It’s far more similar to Sheryl Crow’s Bond theme Tomorrow Never Dies. Actually very similar. She’s even performed it before.

      • My first thought was Tomorrow Never Dies and this song owes much to it.

        Now we know there’s precedent for a Bond Theme soundalike winning, although Rise Like A Skyfall is obviously a slightly different kettle of fish. A Matter Of Time has very 90s vibes to it but her vocal may well sell it live on stage.

      • Just watched your video. Jesus – girl can cut it live! Have we found the game changer we have been searching for?

  • Mr.Sawyer


    In previous winners, The winner was able to create a connection with spectators. Concta won with phenomenon appearance and personality. Jamala won because her song touched the heart of people. People felt the drama in song. In Salvador’s success, his sympathic character played a major role. If somebody else performed his song, that song couldnt win. Neither of these wins were country songs. Okay, rock can win in Esc but country is a different genre. I love country music but most people look me like alien when I listen country. It’s american folk music after all. How it will be faced by ex-soviet countries? Its a great song and likely to have a place im Top10 (and Top3 in my personal playlist! His vocal reminds me Axl Rose im some parts) but winning very unlikely. Tu Cancion best candidate so far..

    • eurovicious

      This is exactly what I mean.

    • The Nefeilibata

      You make an excellent point.

      However, I need to stop you on the “Spain is the best winning candidate” train because I’m 98% sure it won’t happen because 1) songs similar to last year’s winner NEVER win, and 2) Spain can never be trusted with staging.

  • Showlad

    Hi Saw 😀

    imho Jamala won by default – Dami’s surprisingly lack of public support (we can al draw our won conclusions on that one sadly…) and Sergey’s slaughtering by the juries. Jamala great song but really should have been a noble 3rd.
    Waylon’s song is more of a rock/country hybrid – more of a ‘Paradise City’ Guns n Roses vibe/Bon Jovie vibe with a touch of the songs shown on the likes of TV programme Nashville thrown in too.
    Talking specifically Country music: it is very popular and easy on the ear and could easily get votes – think of Dolly Parton etc.
    As I say respectfully it’s not the genre it’s the song, singer and staging. For me he will do hugely well with juries and also will win over the public. Top 3/5 is nailed on.
    Tu will do much better than many on here think but is too sickly sweet and not a strong enough song for the win – my prediction 4th – 7th.

  • Showlad

    BELGUIM: Well you wait on one bus and then…
    Really strong song. Singer sounds savvy and classy. Initially you would think somehere 4th – 10th but however with a brilliant staging to the level of their previous Rhythm and a win cannot be ruled out absolutely. I think having a decent ‘back up’ on this would amongst your ESB bets portfolio would be folly as at some point price could crash. Much more dangerous than Spain or some of the other frontunners.

  • Australia’s dipping a bit. Anything to go on there other than 10 seconds of bass?

    • The Nefeilibata

      Maybe it’s the first Eurovision entry to be three minutes of the brown note, gives half of the countries in semi two one less song to worry about.

  • oakie1979

    So far this is the weakest year in Eurovision for a long time. Personally looking forward to hear Bulgaria, Australia, Austria and i am very curious about Sweden (never hear the songs in Melodifestivalen and just wait for the winner) and Russia.

    My biggest concern is that i haven’t heard a song that i like and would love to watch or hear it. Maybe Belgium and Portugal and that’s it.

    Estonia, Czech Republic, Spain are highly overestimated. I don’t think any of the 3 has a chance for the Top5 and maybe Estonia can sneak in the Top10.

    Very poor year…

  • Sometimes we can over-think this. Could a song win because it’s just a fucking good song?

    • Hippo

      I agree with that to an extent. Story, Narrative or anything else is just an advantage, a nice thing to add to an already competetive entry, in tight years it can make a difference, but it won’t elevate any old rubbish to a high placing.

      However what I take the debates higher up on this page as is recognition that there is a difference between being “good” and what people will vote for, and this becomes more of an issue in niche genre’s for example, like Opera and Country Rock.
      The question is, can either of La Forza or Outlaw in Em- or any other song- stimulate a strong enough feeling to vote for enough people?
      It is really hard to say, especially before rehearsals. Normally I’d say no, but this year is shockingly short of contenders which makes everything more unpredictable.

    • Tim B

      …Enter Australia!

  • James Dogg

    Australia definitely got the love this year! Great song!

  • Melisandre

    Australian entry is decent imo.

  • After hearing Australia in full now, I think some countries in Europe should prepare themselves to organize the contest. Because Australia is not allowed to do that. I think this is the first song I’ve heard with some real winner vibes.

  • Hippo

    Not seeing anything special in Australia. Seems like I’m far from the consensus on this but I’m barely hearing a top10, and that’s even taking into consideration this year’s quality level.

  • The thing is, I think both Australia and Azerbaijan have similar kind of pop songs, with very strong, loud backing music and wonderful climaxes in it. I like listening to both.

  • Showlad

    Australia nice but boring and dull as dishwater. I think this may miss the Top 10. What a disappointment.

    It AIN’T winning that’s for sure 😉

    Azerbaijan is a much better song with a much better singer too 😉

  • Showlad

    Israel and Netta – could this be the firecracker we’ve been waiting on? 😀 Plus we await the Bear with a no doubt well constructed song about ‘love and peace’ and the super hyped Bulgarian entry (imagine if it’s a damp squib!).

    • The Nefeilibata

      I’m super excited about Netta herself, but I dread the political brewhaha that would inevitably surround an Israel-hosted Eurovision, it feels that in recent years there’s been a lot more pressure to boycott anything Israel-related (which most likely won’t have much effect on her potential scores compared to any Russian entry), but we’ll cross that bridge if we get there…

  • Showlad

    If Israel wins they will host the ESC 2019 proudly.

    Anyone that wants to play politics well they wouldn’t have gone to Rus or Az in recent years either with their human rights / living conditions disparity records…

    Let’s just hope Netta gets a brainnumbing earworm of a dance track – heaven knows ESC 2018 needs it!

    • Do Israel have a suitable venue? Last time they hosted, the year after Birmingham (one of the first “arena” shows) they went back to the venue they used in 1979 and it was tiny. If it took 1,000 I’d be surprised. There’s absolutely no way that venue would be big enough to host today’s standard of show.

      • Shai

        Yes they do.
        They have several options now.
        1 in Tel Aviv,1 in Jeruzalem and maybe 1 in Haifa. In all cases they are sports arena which also host music concerts.

        No point to discuss about it now.
        There is a long way to go before we start discussing about this.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    So, left are:
    – Bulgaria
    – Russia
    – Sweden
    – Norway
    – Israel
    – Lithuania
    – Ireland
    – Georgia
    – FYR Macedonia
    – Croatia, &
    – Austria

    So that’s still quite a lot…

  • Ugh, I missed the Australia leak while at work. 🙁

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I think it’s always worth to look outside the box a bit. For me personally there is a market for every kind of music genre on Eurovision. As long as it excels in that genre. Then everything is possible. From all 32 countries released so far (11 more to go: Bulgaria, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Lithuania, Ireland, Georgia, Macedonia, Croatia & Austria, which is still quite a lot of countries to go), I think only a few nations excell in a music genre:

    — OPERA/CELTIC: Last year it didn’t work for Finland. But ESTONIA shows here how it’s done. I fully agree with Gavin that this is not a Sweden 2009 or Romania 2013. Not at all. It is as if Estonia looked to their own entry from 2009, “Rändajad”, and upped it with a stunning vocalist. If this genre wins, then ESTONIA wins.

    — SIA/POP/FEMALE: I think in this genre AUSTRALIA and AZERBAIJAN are now the ones to beat. Composers of both entries certainly know what Rihanna, Pink and Sia are doing at the moment. Both countries come with very anthemic pop songs that are easy enough for one’s ears and contemporary as well. If this genre wins, then I still need to choose between the perfect stagers of the AUSSIES and AZERI.

    — FUNK/POP/MALE: Perhaps CZECH REPUBLIC belongs to this genre. It’s an instant and very happy song, reminiscent of some songs from Bruno Mars’ and Justin Timberlake’s discography. But the entry still stands on its own in the field of 32 so far. Not sure if it wins, but if this genre wins, then I’m willing to bet for CZECH REPUBLIC.

    — ROCK/BAND: Several entries to choose from this year. Hungary, Romania, Albania and The Netherlands. From those three THE NETHERLANDS has the most distinctive melody. As opposed to the ‘noise’ from Hungary and the band from Romania who brings us a song that goes on steam way too late during the 3 mins. Add to that the best male charismatic stage performer in the contest, and THE NETHERLANDS are in for another medal win. Don’t underestimate Albania either.

    — ALTERNATIVE/MOODY: Yeah, what is actually ‘alternative’ in the contest. If we talk about smaller, more delicate, nuanced entries, then perhaps we can mention Latvia, Belgium and Portugal? From those three I think BELGIUM is the clear standout. Not sure if it’s ‘instant’ enough as opposed to “Rhythm Inside” and “City Lights”, but that could be counteracted with some terrific staging. If we go towards TOP 5 for such a song, then BELGIUM is your choice.

    — ETHNIC/FOLK: Greece, Cyprus, Moldova and Armenia, Montenegro and Serbia belong to this list of songs. But obviously ARMENIA is the standout here. I don’t believe either of these songs has it to go straight to number 1. But if this genre wins, then perhaps ARMENIA can do it. I wouldn’t rule out Moldova just yet. It feels/sounds a bit like Moldova 2009.

    — DUETS: Italy and Spain here. Personally I adore Italy and utterly dislike Spain. But then again, my personal taste is perhaps too 1990’s. Having said that, SPAIN has the chance to connect much better with audiences. It’s cute, sweet, perhaps too ‘candy cane sweet’. But as there aren’t too many duets in this contest so far, SPAIN could do pretty well.

    — SINGER/SONGWRITER: I would concurr that GERMANY is the biggest standout here. They go back to the Jamie Cullum/2012 playbook here. The fact is however, that “You Let Me Walk Alone” is perhaps more anthemic and rousing than “Standing Still”. It has a near-perfect backing track infused with the best orchestration I’ve heard in years. Add to that the remarkable looks of Michael Schulte, and then GERMANY can opt for another medal finish.

    So, a short resume. But from all these music genres I guess these countries are the ones to watch at the moment (in no particular order). These countries stand out, haven’t got too much stiff competition at the moment, and vice versa. 32 down, 11 more songs to go though!:
    — SPAIN

    PS: Am I bland or is Eastern-Europe giving up on Eurovision a bit? This part of Europe used to be so big in the previous decade.

  • Showlad

    Nice post Songfestivalwerk – great read and I agree in the main with your conclusions, though for me Az will outsing, outbeauty and outsage Aus 😉

    Ger great but I feel Michael’s stage presence will lose him quite a lot of votes – he won’t beat Waylon.

  • Surprised by the Australia love from several above. I find it bland, generic ESC-painting-by-numbers. Their honeymoon period is probably over. Therefore their worst result so far is incoming.

    • It’s on sale everywhere now. I like it. Feels like it’s got more heart to it and the instrumental mix is a lot more contemporary. It’s just that big note she grasps for that lets the song down. It doesn’t suit her to do that.

      • fused

        I like ‘Storms’ more and more every time I hear it. The new mix is an improvement, and the song is a grower, though that might not be much help for a Eurovision entry that’s straight through to the final because of being in the Big 5.

        I think the song’s biggest obstacle has always been that it’s on the forgettable/generic side. I’d say its biggest asset is probably SuRie herself, she is a good performer and I like her as a person too from what I’ve seen of her.

  • Evolution not Revolution. I refuse to immediately write the song off – lots of “UK Nil Points” and “Last Place” going around. Not sure it’s justified. Can the way SuRie worked the hall in Brighton upscale by a factor of 20? If we get a left hand finish, I’m happy. If it ends up top ten I’ll be over the moon.

  • You know what would be a good change in Eurovision rules? They should change song length limit to 3:30 minutes. In my opinion 3 minutes is just not enough for some songs. Most songs in the charts exceed 3 minutes length. It proves you need more length to write a really good song. I wish EBU have considered that. Songwriters would have more space with their songwriting. Just a thought.

    • Ben Cook

      It’s something worth considering, especially as that would only add maximum 13.5 minutes to the show (though the show is arguably too long already).

      Would people needlessly extend their songs to make the most of their time on stage?

      And is it the fact the songs are short a benefit? My mother for instance sometimes needs a bit of persuasion to watch, but one time she did she said “oh at least they get through the songs quickly”. Does extending the songs make the show drag on longer? Talent shows usually only allow contestants to sing for 2 minutes. Does a TV audience’s interest start to fade after that?

      • “Talent shows usually only allow contestants to sing for 2 minutes.”

        Ben, those talent shows are more about the singers than the songs. They sing songs that everybody knows in the first place.

    • Mark dowd

      The idea of most of the 2018 ESC songs being allowed to go on to 3.30 is, frankly, anathema.

      • What I mean with 3.30 rule is that it would give more space for good songs to shine. Just to name a few, Occidentali’s Karma and La mia città are better in their full length versions which are more or less 3.30. Shortening them to 3 minutes didn’t do any good to them. On the other hand ESC version of Grande amore is as good as the original.

    • I agree 3 minutes just isn’t enough to make an impact. “A Matter Of Time” in particular feels like it hits the end too quickly. Going up to 3:30 would be much better. The semis would have to be slightly longer – maybe 2h 30m – but if you reduced the amount of places in the grand final to around 20 and then cut down on the interval acts ( just have one during the commercial break) you could still run the final to 3h 30m or thereabouts.

  • Ben Cook

    Disappointed by the revamp of “Storm”. I was expecting a much more noticeable beefing up of the production. But the worst thing is that they have lowered the key (to make it easier to sing?), which for me makes it less impactful.

    It probably won’t make much difference to the result compared to sending the first version, but I was optimistic that they could improve it and lift it out of the bottom 5.

    She could still sell the socks off it in Lisbon but I fear results-wise we’re going to go backwards again. And probably too early to say this, but I’m losing faith in Hugh Goldsmith’s grand plan. No longer seems like the songwriting camps are the way to go. All the songs in the EYD shows so far are too safe and feel written by committee. Eurovision by numbers isn’t going to get us the result we want.

  • Mr.Sawyer

    Just listened the revamp version of Tu Cancion. It is strongest candidate so far in my opinion. Curious about Israel and Bulgaria entries though. If they cant deliver something better, this song can win. It is a very emotional song with a magic feeling. Its the only song that gives me winner feeling. And it can create a connection between artists and audience.

    • meridian_child

      If Spain is so strong, why is it doing so poorly in polls??

      Not that I would overestimate polls, but it seems since 2003 the winner has always been at least in the Top 10 of those pre-contest polls.

      The Common Linnets is maybe the only act that almost did break this ‘tradition’. But I, personally, do see more differences than similarites between Calm after the Storm and Tu Cancion.

  • Showlad

    Hi Mr S. Some saying it is less personal this new version and has spoilt it somewhat…

  • Is it worth speculating on what Bulgaria has in store at all?

  • markovs

    Really tough picking out a likely winner at the moment. Could be something at a nice juicy price. I’m in the Waylon camp at the moment. Just cannot see Estonia or Spain getting enough, Finland too dated, nothing in Melfest of any note either. Bulgaria won’t need much to nip ahead of this bunch

  • Melisandre

    Will be interesting to see what Russia come up with. Think it’s the same writers who did the 2015 entry. I’ve seen videos of Yuliya performing pretty well live though she is inconsistent. She will likely have lots of help from backing vocals anyway.

    Rumour is that the Bulgarian entry was written by Loreen.

    • The Nefeilibata

      In fairness, it’s harder to sing sitting down, or in her case, wheelchair-bound

    • If the Bulgarian entry has been written by Loreen, I’d probably expect something like what’s on her latest album, or something Statements-esque. That certainly would tick the ‘risky’ box, not in a good way though.

  • Hippo

    There are people much more in the know than me on Bulgaria but I hear it’s a duet or group. It’s hard to know whether the odds are an absolute steal or whether the reports on them are falsely optimistic- for one reason or another.

    Saying it’s such an open year due to the lack of any standout entries, its really hard to find much to back. At the moment, from those below 40s I’m most keen on Estonia and the Netherlands. Although I have huge reservations on both, they’re the ones I could best see doing well enough with both the jury and televote. Everything else seems significantly overrated (Czech Republic, Finland, Australia) or polarised to one side of the equation (Sweden – Assuming Ingrosso- to the jury and Spain to the televote).
    After that you’re deep sea diving into the long and speculative odds, of which I can only make a case for Germany or one of the ethno ballads from Greece or Armenia.

    • John

      Well ‘snap’, youre pretty much on the same wavelength as me here. Although I see Czech, Aussie and Finnish entries as being unfinished articles.

      Its frustrating in a sense as it means this year will depend on staging and perhaps draws more than usual. So the markets might get a bit dull.

      When this happens I back songs that are more the finished article and not staging dependent. The Netherlands in this case.

    • eurovicious

      All I know is it’s almost certainly not Gery-Nikol as she’s appearing on Bulgarian Your Face Sounds Familiar for the next several weeks.

  • Can someone please tell me why the Czech Republic is so short? I mean yeah it’s catchy but it’s neck and neck with a hyped Bulgarian entry? Is this a joke?

    • Melisandre

      I’m a bit confused myself. When I first heard it, I thought “probably good enough to qualify” rather than “winner”- then again everything is kinda mediocre so far.

    • Hippo

      Something something Spotify, something something Justin Timberlake etc.

      In all fairness it’s alright, for what it is, in fact the build up to the instrumental is great. It’s also doing better than I’d have anticipated with fans too and given the crap field, I’ve pushed it up from midtable in my predictions to a low top 10 or left hand side.

      Still, I give it no chance at winning and the odds are laughable.

    • John

      The Czech entry has a strong hook. The chorus bounces along quite well and its one of the trendier more contemporary songs. Being joint favourite is surprising but its that kind of year. A good lay bet maybes.

      My own misgivings for it is that it comes across a little conceited (and not even in a vaguely tolerable Sakis Rouvas kind of way) its a very up tempo ask for a vocalist and its a country with no proven record.

  • markovs

    The two at the moment with the biggest USP for me are Estonia and Netherlands bit both are niche music and difficult to see either universally liked. I’m only.looking at big odds for top 10 at the moment. UK anyone??

    • If the UK could not make Top ten last year with Lucie’s vocals and extremely polished staging, I can’t see it happening. I’d see UK 20th to 24th….and this is a bad year!!

    • Melisandre

      The UK entry reminds me of the German entry last year- will probably get a similar result.

      • UK diaspora in Ireland, Spain, Malta and Australia will push SuRie ahead of where Germany was last year, even if no one else votes for it. Not even Electro Velvet were last, and Storm is nowhere near as bad as that (or Perfect Life), so I don’t see why SuRie would be last. It’s a huge sing-a-long as well which the arena crowd will get involved with and that part could come across well on TV.

  • markovs

    It’s really weird. A few people have said that about Surie and Perfect life from last year. I absolutely dont see it at all. Surie has an uplifting chorus and a great middle 8, perfect life was bland with no moment at all and no performance.

  • Showlad

    Austria’s out
    Professional, bit messy but good vocal. No winner though 😉

    • Ben Cook

      It’s not my cup of tea but I could still hum it half an hour after listening to it, can’t be a bad sign

    • eurovicious

      It’s decent. And while it’s mainstream, it feels real and not like a product. With a well-shot authentic/intimate performance, this could do well.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    What a mega-horny entry from Austria. This is what happens if you experienced a victory recently and several grand final spots. Wonderful pop/soul song from Cesar. Also slightly out-of-the-box music, that can appeal to both Eurovision nerds……and, most importantly, those televoters and judges that usually don’t give a dime about Eurovision, but pick up the phone for this one.

    Netherlands and Estonia have now a more serious competitior: Austria. These three countries I do favor now over Azerbaijan and Australia. Although they are still worthy TOP 10-ers too.

  • Rob4

    Surprised there’s no love for Croatia. with good staging i think it could do well

  • Ande

    I still haven’t found a standout this year. I have some Top 10s (Estonia, Sweden etc) but none of them are clear top 3s to me.

  • This week’s Swedish Chart top list “SverigeTopplistan” is out, with these Melfest entries in the top10:

    1. Felix Sandman
    3. Samir & Viktor
    4. Mendez
    7. Benjamin Ingrosso
    10. Liamoo

  • Hippo

    Austria- more interesting than I was expecting. Can certainly qualify but might be one of those that just gets lost in the final.

    Ireland- Just as dull as I was expecting and almost certainly won’t qualify. 5 consecutive nqs very much on the cards

  • dicksbits

    I think it’s gonna be another Common Linnets style year – who’d have thought The Netherlands could do so well with that song until we saw the staging and outfits… I agree with Gavstar on another site that the Ozzies are clearly going in for the win – their song is anthemic and the way it is structured it’s more serious than Azerbaijan. Elsewhere I will be interested to see how Belgium is presented. It’s a seriously interesting song.

    • Melisandre

      I think Belgium’s entry is being staged by the same person who staged the Common Linnets. Sennek is very strong live too. Possibly one to watch.

  • Here’s an amusing statistic. In the years 2015 to 2018, Serhat’s result was the highest-placed for San Marino in that four year period.

    Admittedly I’m pre-empting the 2018 San Marino result, but not without justification.

  • sawyereurovision

    Eurovision will be amazing this year. Every year, I was complaining mostly crap songs, very few good songs to listen. This year, majority of songs good. No clear favourite yet, market very competitive this year.

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