Eurovision 2018: Melfest, and recent selections

Happy Melfest day! Since 2016, app voting in the final (indicated by the beating heart on TV screens) has had the effect of levelling off televoting scores (Swedish viewers can give up to five app votes for each act), allowing the international juries to wield huge power with their more differentiated points.

There’s been a small attempt to counteract this in 2018, though it’s worth mentioning it wouldn’t have changed the result in the last few years, and perhaps just as crucially, the sequencing remains the same: televoting lines will remain open as the jury results are announced, and viewers will be motivated to get behind one of the few acts still in with a chance.

International juries have tended to favour contemporary, well-staged packages, and Benjamin Ingrosso’s ‘Dance You Off’ certainly falls into that category. During the heats, he also managed the longest flaming heart graphic, indicating the strength of app voting during his routine. All this plus the betting market suggests it’s his to lose, though expect a few curveballs from those juries along the way.

Second in the “flaming heart” measurement during the heats were good-time boys Samir and Viktor, who will be hoping to perform better with the juries than usual with ‘Shuffla’. Felix Sandman has some Spotify momentum after his Andra Chansen appearance, and offers a more modern ballad than John Lundvik, while the contemporary packages from Liamoo and Mariette can’t be completely discounted either.

Punters should also bear in mind the vote sequencing for Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix tonight. In the first round, an international jury and televote will have a 50/50 say in putting forward a top four. Phone votes are reset for the second round and will be the only constituency that matters from this point. Then a top two will be announced who duel in a superfinal, with further votes added to those cast in round two. This seems to favour the most middle-of-the-road hope, Rebecca’s ‘Who We Are’ over party songs from former Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak, Ida Maria and Vidar Villa.

There have been plenty of recent selections: five last Saturday alone. Estonia’s Elina Nechayeva duly won Eesti Laul, and her ‘La Forza‘ stands near the head of the betting. A big problem is it’s an uninteresting, paper-thin song that serves merely as a backdrop to her stunning opera vocals. While that should have some constituency among televoters, you’d have thought enough jurors would notice to mark it down in their rankings.

The Estonian team are looking to replicate their national final performance as closely as possible; those behind Finland’s Saara Aalto have promised wholesale changes after last Saturday’s UMK was won by ‘Monsters‘. Everything about the production – sound mix, camerawork, staging – was poor; the work can begin on turning what’s a decent enough contemporary pop song into something voteable on stage.

There wasn’t much else that was encouraging from Saturday night’s other winners. Poland’s Gromee featuring Lukas Meijer can probably hope to qualify with ‘Light Me Up‘ based on diaspora support, but it’s currently not well performed live, and best for radio anyway. Qualification looks too much of a stretch for San Marino’s surprise winner Jessica featuring Jenifer Brening with ‘Who We Are‘, and Iceland’s Ari Olafsson with ‘Our Choice‘.

Things got better on Sunday, with Portugal choosing the lovely ‘O Jardim‘ sung by Claudia Pascoal. At least jurors have one classy effort from the Iberian peninsular to commend; my concern with this entry is that it may be too low impact for televoters. We also got Belgium’s Sennek with lounge song ‘A Matter of Time‘. She’s clearly a talented singer and songwriter, though it feels a shame to have a James Bond-style song without an instrumental bridge – indeed without any bridge at all. That’s because she takes too long getting to the first chorus.

In the pure pop category, Azerbaijan’s Aisel serves up ‘X My Heart‘, which is an enjoyable mixture of ridiculous lyrics and straightforward hooks. This will be staged by Fokas Evangelinos in Lisbon, to complete the sense of a classic Eurovision bop. Talking of which, Australia’s Jessica Mauboy gives us ‘#We Got Love‘. This will probably be the most anthem-y thing in the final, like say Denmark 2010 and Russia 2015, and I expect it to be in the mix just like those two Saturday night crowd-pleasers.

Croatia’s Franka has a good song swirling around ‘Crazy‘ including a lovely instrumental hook, but songwriters have been too clever by half putting elements together in slightly unexpected ways. Austria’s Cesar Sampson has a more cohesive package in ‘Nobody But You‘ that should at least impress jurors – the first semi-final is turning into a real bloodbath as a result.

Meanwhile Ireland were the latest of the internal selections – Ryan O’Shaugnessy with ‘Together‘. Unfortunately, this gentle male ballad feels like it follows the template of last year’s failure too closely.

Hotly anticipated internal selections to come over the next few days include Israel and Russia on Sunday, and bookies’ favourite Bulgaria on Monday, alongside an Albanian revamp. We’re still waiting on Georgia and Macedonia too, while Lithuania round off national final season tomorrow. Keep your thoughts coming below.

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322 comments to Eurovision 2018: Melfest, and recent selections

  • Chris Bellis

    As you say, Portugal’s song is lovely. However, the vocals were shaky at times. If she can overcome her nerves, this may be the one.
    I still think the Spanish entry has some traction, if only they can stage it less mawkishly. Weird odds on Betfair for the Jury win.
    You are right about the Norwegian choice. They really need to up their game.

  • Alan

    Unless something big is pulled out of the bag in the next few days, this is going to be either a 2011 or 2014 year. I.e it’ll be a completely wide open final, or staging will change everything come Eurovision week.

    • Chris Bellis

      Yes, I agree Alan. However given that I was one of the ones that pushed Italy last year, this may be a good thing as far as betting goes. Nothing stands out so you don’t get led up the garden path. It’s odd that Bulgaria is so short when we haven’t even seen it.

  • “We also got Belgium’s Sennek with lounge song ‘A Matter of Time‘. She’s clearly a talented singer and songwriter, though it feels a shame to have a James Bond-style song without an instrumental bridge – indeed without any bridge at all. That’s because she taken too long getting to the first chorus.”

    I’m repeating myself but this is exactly what I meant when I said we need 3.30 minute rule for Eurovision.

  • Becile

    Several betters are really sitting on Belgium. It’s a potential winner.

  • eurovicious

    Am I the only one that thinks Ireland is really strong?

  • eurovicious

    37 out of 43 entries chosen, absolute kettle of shit so far.

    And selection season was looking so good in January. My personal favourites are still the terminally tacky Transnistrian trio, followed by Monsters, Mall, Greece, Denmark and Italy, but I can’t even get that excited by any of those. Skeletons was “only” my 4th or 5th favourite last year but it’s vastly better than anything in 2018. And all these countries that have picked bland-as-fuck entries aren’t even gonna have LEDs to liven them up.

    Chisinau 2019 amirite ladz?

    • Chris Bellis

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Chișinău, looking at the standard of the entries this year. It does have the advantage of being an interesting place to visit, and very cheap. How can I describe the disadvantages on a site like this? Well, on the outskirts of every town, a form of tourism more normally associated with Amsterdam, Thailand or the Philippines. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Plenty of videos on youtube.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    Countries that stick to my mind so far:

    – Belgium
    – Sweden
    – Estonia
    – Moldova
    – Australia
    – The Netherlands
    – Azerbaijan
    – Austria
    – Albania
    – Norway

  • Showlad

    ISRAEL drops!
    This is SO WinningESC 2018!!

    • Dan

      I doubt that the jury will vote for this massively.

      • Showlad

        Hi there Dan.Got to disagree.
        This is cutting edge modern pop – which the juries love.
        Netta is totally unique and adorable in her barking way…
        Happy to say this can go all the way 😉

    • eurovicious

      I just heard it too. It’s a game-changer, and has gone straight to my top; it’s everything I want and expect pop to sound like in 2018 (were not the music marketplace dominated by record-label conservatism and Spotify playlist algorithms). It’s the New Rules of Eurovision 2018.

      I think it’s too avant-garde to win. I see it 3rd-5th; I think avant-garde entries only crack the top 2/3 if the performer makes themselves vulnerable. Netta is fierce, and defiant, and iconic, but not emotionally exposed or vulnerable the way Rona, Jamala, Salvador or Conchita were. We saw on X Factor that performers like Misha B could deliver note-perfect, impeccably produced performances of fierce, edgy numbers, only to do much less well with the public than when they were stripped back performing a basic ballad. It’s what we saw last year too with Fly With Me and Skeletons (and to a certain extent Heartbeat in 2016) – immense packages, fantastic avant-garde songs really well presented, but they did far worse than expected, in my book because the performer wasn’t emotionally exposed and what emotional content there was (Dihaj’s judders, Justs stomping around and pulling at his jacket, Artsvik’s imperiousness) was overly theatrical.

      Toy will and should do better than those entries. And it comes from a place of sincerity. But I think it’s too marmite and not heart-on-sleeve enough to go all the way. And that’s fine. Any kind of section where Netta softened and had an “emotional moment” tugging the heartstrings of viewers at home would ruin it. It’s fantastic the way it is.

      • eurovicious

        Just listened a second time and am this close to changing my mind. I’d love it to smash it. It’s the #metoo of Eurovision 2018. Incredibly zeitgeisty, and zeitgeist counts for a lot at Eurovision. However, bearing in mind that #metoo is an Anglosphere phenomenon (really only within a certain class and bubble too) that simply isn’t being replicated in non-Anglosphere countries on any significant scale.

        It’s the best produced song I’ve heard since Government Hooker – it’s like a mix of New Rules, Government Hooker and Rollin Wang, but totally original. It communicates its message extremely effectively and clearly in a way that’s consistently musically invigorating on a level with Running (which also didn’t win). It needs, and greatly benefits from, the quiet pre-chorus (“Wonder woman, don’t you ever forget…”) which contrasts fantastically with the subsequent chorus and preceding verse, and really allows the song to breathe and viewers’ emotions to seep into it. It’s a good moment of connection, speaks directly to viewers (OK, half of viewers) and is empowering. It’s a banger in a year direly short on them. (But when was the last time something with a BPM this high won or even went top 3? Genuine question)

        It’s a fucking anthem. It has wonderful elements of Israeli pop-folk in the production and overall vibe that enhance it without dominating it. It’s a sonic explosion. In terms of my personal faves it’s way, way above anything else.

        • Showlad

          Hi EV. I think it’s a song empowering women and people in general – it’s funny, cheeky and sassy and teaching respect. Doesn’t need #metoo.
          My this is (UK’s top selling shampoo) above the rest of the ESC 2018 field. So clever.
          Waited for 1 brilliant song this year and it has FINALLY arrived…

        • eurovicious

          …and, it’s DARK, especially the chorus, dripping in minor-key sensuality, in a field of entries trying to be as safe and mollifying as possible. It has something to say, it wants to stimulate and provoke, it’s pure personality and cares not a jot about fitting in because it’s confident in itself. It speaks truth and is empowering, but isn’t about validating or coddling people – a huge difference which so much modern pop that tries to be inspirational or relevant totally misses; you can’t boost your audience’s self-esteem by pandering to and pacifying them. The light only shines in the darkness, and this is the lovechild of Rise Like A Phoenix and Beauty Never Lies, on the dancefloor of a mixed-sex underground queer club at 3am on its second Vodka Red Bull, licking the tears of monsters past and revelling in its own survivorship.

          • Showlad

            Brilliant post 😀

          • I laughed at Israel but in a good way, with it not at it. I like EV’s posts too but surely this is the song of the competition this year that should wear the Danger Fanwank warning.

          • eurovicious

            Agreed up to a point. Which is why I’m cautioning against it winning (including cautioning myself). It’s something that gays and people who love pop music will love; audiences on the night are not people who love pop music. There’s a significant chance of it striking many people as too wacky and fierce and not allowing enough time to engender sympathy/create an emotional connection. If it had been in last year’s contest I think Amar pelos dois, Beautiful Mess and Hey Mamma would have still beaten it.

          • It’s Bojana Stamenov on acid at a Bar Mitzvah. It’s loads of fun in a similar mould as ‘Yodel It!’ and will get a good televote result, quite possible a televote top 5. Juries will reward her talent and originality but ultimately something more normal is going to win, as always, sorry to disappoint.

          • John

            Mind you, being politically ‘in vogue’ helped Austria and Ukraine win recently.

            Israel is very #metoo and the eurogays do love a Diva. Isrsel might well win with its second.

          • eurovicious

            I think that’s a fair assessment Ben.

  • Showlad

    Hi Eurovicious. Netta’s charismatic fun and totally talented persona is way bigger than the songs/singers that you list.
    Glad you love it too – but mark my words viewers (and juries) will go nuts for and love this Girl.
    What could you confidently say is gonna beat Toy this year…I know I genuinely can’t…
    It’s in the mix with Cze; NL maybe Bul too for the win then to a lesser degree Bel; Swe and Est.

  • Melisandre

    I really enjoy Israel’s entry. Can see this going down an absolute storm live. Potential televote winner but I dare say the juries will be too busy slobbering over Sweden’s clinical number. Also, how awful is the second semi final? Dire from start to finish.

    • The MF juries did a bit of slobbering because there was nothing else to chose from. The ESC juries will have a lot of decent authentic stuff to chose from and won’t reward the clinical.

  • People faun over Sweden and Australia because of past performance but their songs this year are tedious, cynical, clinical plastic and won’t get the votes.

    Israel is fun, Czech is snazzy but the win is still going to the Spanish lovebirds.

  • Chris Bellis

    I remember previous years and I shall wait for the rehearsals. I am deeply suspicious of the vocals on quite a few of these clips that we’re seeing now. I am recalling the number of times I’ve been let down by Spain for example.

    • I think people are missing its USP in the competition when analysing vocals but maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.

      • Chris Bellis

        Just a query – since the Israeli entry relies (in part) on various bits of electronic gadgetry for its fun factor, will this be allowed in the actual competition? I vaguely recall acts in the past using vodacorders etc being told to remove electronic tuning aids and sound gizmos.

        • It’s fine. JOWST is a clear sign the EBU are, informally at least, loosening the belt on that rule.

          • Shai

            EBU allowed JOWST but they have actually tightened the rules and forbid any use of recording vocals.

            The case of Netta is slightly different. She is using a device called looper or loop station which record her voice while she sings and than transmit it while she sings. It gives a different layer to the song. EBU has approved the use of the looper.

            There is a chance, that the live version of the song will sound differently every time she perform it. It is also quite possible that live, the song will sound differently from the studio version

          • eurovicious

            You’re right Shai and it’s really wise to bear that in mind. What I’ve heard of her live performances from Rising Star have been quite improvisational.

          • Shai

            I think Bjorkman will have a headache where to place Israel in the running order.
            I think he would love to have Netta in 2nd half, where she could be placed as the last song in the semi. 1st half is a very tricky one.

          • eurovicious

            The whole problem with Melodifestivalen, and with Björkman’s increasing involvement in other national finals and in Eurovision itself, is that in MF and similarly mainstream, musically conservative national finals, Netta would have never made it onto screen and Amar pelos dois would have been binned.

            That’s why the fact that more countries are holding national finals than ever this year (almost all of which included Swedish-penned songs) isn’t necessarily good. Some fans used to advocate an MF-style national final for every country as a goal – but a melfestification of NF season would be a disaster for the diversity and originality that makes the contest, and continent, what it is. Fans recognize this, why is why Björkman is unpopular and why Beovizija was so passionately received. (And partly also why Party Voice found such unexpected resonance – a return to the joyful, uncynical schlager of yore, before MF became full of hollow “product” entries choreographed and programmed to within an inch of their life.)

    • Showlad

      Hi Chris. The song could stand alone without use of the looper (which repeats a line you have sung live). The music will be identical and on a backing track. Vocals live as usual and whatever role the looper plays in this could be easily done without it.

  • RonH

    Looking forward a lot now to a thrilling Eurovision night, in which female inspired Israel (not tour toy! ) competes for the public vote with male chauvinist Netherlands (outlaw in em!). I predict a two horse race between two music genres (new and old) that have never been shown at ESC.

  • Showlad

    Isarel now clear favourite to win.

    Indeed Ron…this very well could be the case.

    • RonH

      All my Eurovision-friends SCREAM Israel today, while those who aren’t, but will still (be obliged to) watch the show, have congratulated me over the last week with what might become the first Dutch win in 43 years. Thats why I quess we might very well be prepaing for a battle between the liberal gay/feminist me-too movement (those who don’t miss a single Meryl Streep movie and were more than happy to bring Sobral the win) and the conservative/traditional rednecks of Europe (the voters of Berlusconi, and those who brought Polands My Slowania a top ranking in 2014). I love it when ESC reflects the cultural cleavages of Europe.

      • Showlad

        You are RIGHT ON Ron (sorry rhyme unintentional). I can see ESC 2018 being between these 2 and how contrasting and fabulous would that be! Czeck Rep is the only other realistic song vying for the win. But for me it’s these 2 just now…

      • eurovicious

        I don’t think the public splits cleanly (or even messily) into those two camps. I love Salvador and My słowianie, am gay/feminist but not “liberal” in the hollowed-out modern sense and have hardly seen anything with Meryl Streep in. (Krystyna Janda, YES.)

        The whole division of society is a media- and internet-driven mirage forced by artificial binary setups. It’s actually a kind of inadvertent divide-and-rule scenario, as while we’re constantly goaded to pick a side on hot-button issue X, Y and Z (especially in relation to asinine pop-culture issues), the actual power structures (capital and class) are elided. When polled, most people a) aren’t ideological b) will agree with a variety of both right and left policies (as long as you don’t say “This is a Corbyn policy” or “This is a Tory policy” first). People have natural tendencies to align into tribes, and our culture and communication technologies greatly exacerbate this, but take the labels away and most people one-to-one are reasonable, and if put together over a coffee or beer for a couple of hours will at least be interested in understanding each others’ perspective. (I abhor Brexit but have two dearly-loved close friends who voted for it, one for right-wing and one for left-wing reasons. In both cases, I understand and respect how it was based on their experiences, though I also see how both have been greatly affected by the type of filter-bubble media they’re consuming on Facebook etc.)

        Toy and Outlaw In Em also aren’t as good as Rise Like A Phoenix and Calm Like A Storm respectively – that was the battle you describe (with a much clearer division between the “queer” entry and the “heteronormative” entry), and a lot of people I know liked and even voted for both of them – and they finished pretty close to each other. That to me illustrates that Eurovision won’t and shouldn’t devolve into tribalism, especially as the sociopolitical discourse and Overton window vary greatly across different European countries. As to Toy, what Ben said – “something more normal” is more likely to win, so I still think Bulgaria or Russia is more likely to pull it out of the bag at present.

        Many of the proponents of modern liberalism have inculcated people into thinking that meaningful activism is about campaigning to be included in power structures rather than protesting or overthrowing those power structures. Post-Blatcherite aspirational liberalism that prioritises amorphous empathy over meaningful solidarity has led working-class people to deny the label and stop identifying with their class or being able to articulate their place within economic power structures and fight against these structures, and instead (dangerously) begin identifying as “white” or “English” or “male” or “straight” in a way that was much more niche 20 years ago, as they’ve seen this identitarian approach encouraged for other groups and felt like no-one was speaking for them. (Other than Nigel fucking Farage.) And the modern left is as bad – when actual working-class people trying to get involved in politics and change things in their local area are chastised and marginalised for not being left-wing enough by Marx-reading middle-class twentysomething communists living off their parents’ property wealth. Turns out young people who grow up on a council estate don’t have an innate understanding of Engels and social justice, who knew? And thus we see the Labour-to-UKIP swing (and working-class Brexit vote) across post-industrial northern England. Thatcher, Blair and Cameron created the preconditions for this and Corbyn doesn’t have an answer for it. (May is just blindly gripping the wheel as the Tory Brexiteers sit behind her with a loaded gun.) I’m furious at how both the centre-left and even the harder left have abandoned the discursive playing field to the right.

        • Rob4

          best fucking post ever…

        • RonH

          Dear EV, Calm after the storm is a typical Ilse the Lange “relationship” song and by origin not heteronormative at all. Outlaw in Em, written by Waylon, very much is. He will attrackt votes from the audience that also voted for Lordi and Cleo. TLC and Conchita i.m.o were catering more to the same crowd than Netta and Waylon will. I don’t say the audience spits cleanly, but do believe different songs have different support groups.

          • eurovicious

            Hey 🙂 I totally agree that he’ll attract votes from the same audience that voted for Lordi and Donatan-Cleo, those are good points of comparison. I guess I’m talking more about the visual presentation. A “relationship” song with a man and woman singing to each other is “not heteronormative at all”, but the same guy on his own singing “everybody’s got a little outlaw in ’em” “very much is” by comparison? OK, they’re both “straight” songs, but we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think I do agree with your point that there’ll be somewhat more of a split between Netta/Waylon voters than there was between Conchita/TCL voters. Outlaw In Em is very blokey while Toy is explicitly female-focused. I guess gender is the dividing line here, not sexuality. (The visual contrast between queerness and straightness was much more clearly delineated in the case of RLAP vs CATS than it will be in a theoretical battle between Netta and Waylon. But in turn, their songs are much more “blokey” and “girly” respectively. So I get what you mean.)

            I know Dutch people are excited by the idea of winning, but if Anouk didn’t, CATS didn’t, and Douwe Bob didn’t (not to mention O’G3NE with their impeccable vocals and emotive story) then I don’t think Waylon is going to as an older performer with a song that’s rollicking but much less emotive than any of the above. I’m not sure Netta vs Waylon is the battle we should be envisaging. Outlaw In Em is at most this year’s Hey Mamma or, yes, Donatan-Cleo. So I see its ceiling as 3rd-4th max, not in the top 2.

          • Showlad

            So who do YOU think the race is between EV 😉

          • eurovicious

            Iceland and Norway.

            Haha nah. Israel, Bulgaria and Australia. I also think there’s some underestimation of Ireland going on, in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids kinda way. And I think Hungary will do a lot better than many expect.

            Overrated: to a certain extent Estonia and to a massive extent Czech Republic, who will be very lucky to do even as well as Basim did in 2014.

        • I love how this gradually drifted further and further off topic. Sofabet is a very cathartic place for you, isn’t it EV? Haha.

        • Chris Bellis

          “Post-Blatcherite aspirational liberalism”! I like the phrase. Conflating Thatcher with Blair though is a little unfair to Thatcher. Maggie was never as two faced as Tony.

  • The Nefeilibata

    I’m actually quite enjoying this year’s Eurovision in terms of song quality, it’s lacking in really amazing songs but there’s a good selection there and there’s something for everyone. People will never get anywhere by being incessantly negative.

    People here are gonna hate me for saying this, but Norway is really dangerous, underestimate at your peril…

  • Showlad

    EV the only song Toy could have possibly lost to last year would have been Salvador. This amazing charismatic girl and her super catchy song is especially meat and drink to Jo public.
    Dear King Henry this is cool cutting edge pop music that the juries love not a fanwank – now don’t cut my head off 🙂 🙂

  • sawyereurovision

    Oh my god, crazy line movement in Israel odds! It became favourite. But I notice chorus is not strong enough? And these chicken sounds very weird? Do you think current odds realistic?

    I very liked Sennek’s song but not sure if it can win. When she repeats Echoes Echoes, it very disturbs my ear. If she could replace that part, it would sound much better, like saying Echoes one time but saying longer like Echoooeeeeees.

  • Showlad

    Yes Sawyer I think 5/1 ahead of Bul and Rus reveal is about right. Chorus catchy as hell and the mocking chicken clucks will be great on stage and is played on in vid.

  • Showlad

    Israel vid 30 sec preview clip (unveiled 8pm CET) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g466Hl2aTfQ
    She is fabulous…

    • eurovicious

      She is. In a year of fast food music I love that she’s bringing KFC to the table. But the vid further strengthens my impression it won’t win. If she does that dance in the final, I don’t think juries and audiences will feel like chicken tonight – even if it’s peri peri.

  • sawyereurovision

    Can’t go against odds here. I’m joining Israel train. She has an interesting character. She can win like Conchita.

  • sawyereurovision

    It was 6-7 in morning. Now tradnig below 4 in Betfair. Unbelieveable!

  • Songfestivalwerk

    WTF, Israel?? I love it. No long explanations needed. This is sheer fun. Story is interesting, but what’s most important here is the insanely funny melody. Not many Eurovision songs managed to create a coherent melodical package from two or three ‘songs’ in one. But “Toy” is doing exactly that. It’s very authentic as well, as if a Lily Allen is bathing in wonderful creamy perfumes and soaps from Israel. It’s modern, addictively up-tempo, but has a tiny Arabic vibe as well, instrumentation-wise. Add to that a charismatic singer with ‘balls’, and Israel could do a 4th victory.

  • I found some great recap videos bearing some very interesting stats which you can interpret as you see fit. It’s a top 50 separated into juries and televotes, based on a raw percentage of available points awarded in a given year, (so a 2nd placed song might finish above a winner.) Although the timeframes are different, it reveals some really interesting tendencies.

    Jury top 50: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8h5c5qE6Eo

    Televote top 50: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3v-chFEAC4

    One big thing I noticed is that televotes are much more likely to be concentrated on 2-3 songs, which emphasises how important the ‘moment’ is, as shown on TV, on the night. The juries have a significantly smaller number of songs that have obtained more than 50% of the points on offer.

    Juries tend to reward ‘good songs’, good vocals in quite a purist sense, (not just classy ballads, that’s a lazy stereotype,) and in some cases they reward clever staging hence ‘Heroes’, which suggests they do listen to the studio versions or watch preview videos before, but don’t follow everything as closely as fans and bettors. They do a good job at boosting good songs that deserve points but aren’t particularly entertaining or connecting with televoters live and I think that’s important because it helps keep this a ‘song contest’ to some extent.

    Televoters don’t outright ignore good songs like idiots – they do reward catchy pop, entertainment and ethnic flavours more, but they still have to be good and relatable. They don’t all vote ironically in this sense, like Brits might (although I’d argue Zdob si Zdub made a great connection with British irreverence in 2011.)

    Any other observations from these videos that can be carried over into 2018 analysis?

    • Chris Bellis

      That’s a great analysis and explains to me why I vote for some right crap sometimes, just to be an awkward f***er. Irony. Like most Brits I believe. The story about how “My Słowianie – We Are Slavic” got so many votes in UK is that ex-pat Poles voted for it. I’m sure they did, but a whole load of my pals and relatives (not Polish) also voted for it (not me I hasten to say), possibly on the grounds of mammary display. Many people vote for the visual appeal as well as the actual song. Eurovision voters, as so many here have pointed out, are not logical and can vote for anything that appeals to them just at that moment. Remember, they will have consumed some alcohol. This leads me to the view that Israel will do pretty well. Very gay friendly, but also pissed-up piss-taker friendly. I can’t see it being quite so jury-friendly though. Not a winner, but will do well, as long as it comes over ok in the live version, and there are some uncrtainties about this. However, at the odds it’s at now, crazy odds really given the stage of the contest and the number in the field, I know how I’ll be betting. I’m not making the mistake of last year and having to lay the favourite at the last minute.

  • Not feeling Israel. Juries will drag that right down.

    Russia is shit. If that qualifies in what I think is a really strong field, it’ll make a mockery of the show.

    • eurovicious

      Russia – hm. Solid verse but a surprisingly underwhelming chorus. It’ll obviously qualify and I think it’ll be top 6, but I’m not feeling it for top 3. It feels like they’re not trying to win with this either.

  • Showlad

    Respectively disagree with you re RLAP and Calm EV.
    RLAP was a nice, dated in a way, Bondesque song – it TOTALLY transformed with the staging and Conchita’s magic. Same with Calm – the sexy understated live sexual tension and the amazing camera work.
    Pre-‘staging’ and ‘live magic’ Toy and Outlaw are stronger BUT they will have to still be MAGIC onstage at Lisbon to compare to these esteemed peers.

  • The Nefeilibata

    I’m not understanding the Israel hype, I think you guys are massively overreacting, it’s too “out there I think. It’s also in the first half of a very top heavy semi final, you guys might be in for a nasty shock on the Tuesday…

  • Showlad

    Isreal video released
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFZ2F8V9qVk
    My God has this Girl got attitude. Juries and public will love her methinks…

    • eurovicious

      Glitchtastic queer feminist post-Ottoman speed-turbofolk performance art.

      My favourite Eurovision entry since Rise Like A Phoenix. My favourite song full stop since Andjela Vestica’s Crna Dusa last September. And my most repeat-played song since Milica Pavlovic’s not totally dissimilar Baja Papaja in Dec 2016.

      May it win.

      • I’m curious as to what “post-Ottoman” means in this context? (I agree with the rest of your adjectives).

        • eurovicious

          The background instrumentation and harmonies used – they’re common (in various motifs and configurations) to Israeli, Arabic, Turkish, Bulgarian and (often) Serbian pop music, sometimes also Albanian and Greek. What Songfestivalwerk described as “a tiny Arabic vibe instrumentation-wise”. Israeli pop and Arabic pop have a lot of similarities for obvious reasons, and what today constitutes Israel was part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. It’s that shared musical heritage across the region, and is the reason why Croatian and Slovenian entries rarely sound “Balkan” and don’t get a significant vote from the rest of the region – Croatia and Slovenia have a totally different history and musical heritage (both were part of the Habsburg Empire, not the Ottoman one; Croatia’s musical heritage is more Italian-influenced while Slovenia’s is more Austrian/German).

          It’s why Greek pop songs are so often covered and rereleased in Serbia and Bulgaria with minimal changes, or Serbian ones in Bulgaria, Turkey and Israel. Pop throughout this whole region has its own characteristic sound and set of motifs, and is much less “western”, and Israel’s last two upbeat entries Golden Boy and I Feel Alive took care to include these musical elements just as Toy does. What a western listener to Eurovision might describe as something sounding “oriental”.

          • Interesting bit of history there, thanks. Yes I thought you meant that by “post-…”. Maybe “ex-Ottoman” is better.

          • Chris Bellis

            Good summary there EV. However, I’ve been in bars in Eastern Croatia where the music has been very Balkan. Never in Slovenia where they identify entirely with Austria. The one exception is Gypsy style music which goes down well everywhere. EG Goran Bregović. Pity he has never quite managed to conquer Eurovision.

          • eurovicious

            Yeah, Slavonia is different.

  • sawyereurovision

    I must admit I’m disappointed with Israel’s song. Okay, Netta is a charismatic performer but what about music? Maybe she can win public votes but can have trouble with juries. There isn’t much music in this. Chorus not very catchy.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    People think its easy to predict what juries will do as opposed to televoters. Let me help you out of your dream: It is not. It. Is. Not. We haven’t seen an entry like Israel before in the past years. I’m now thinking of Serbia 2015, Moldova 2017 (3rd overall), Ukraine 2007, Israel 2015 and Turkey 2004. But even those comparisons have distinct flaws. If Netta performs the way she does in the videoclip, then Israel can risk a 3rd place with the jury if it massively wins the televoters. Then it still wins overall.

    I think Israel is the one to beat now, BUT we have to wait how this will looks on stage. We don’t know the finalized stage concept yet. And with countries like Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Estonia, Belgium and Austria you have a bit more certainty that their stage concepts will be good to perfect. Even at this stage.

  • I’m not getting the Israeli hype either. Another Occidentalis Karma methinks.

    • Phil

      I agree. She sounds like Jessie J but even more annoying. I didn’t think that was possible. But, I can’t deny that it will probably do very well – don’t think it will win though.

  • Ben Cook

    Equinox and Bones for Bulgaria – out early tomorrow morning.
    Apparently former ESC artists were considered but not involved with this entry. Rumoured to be Zhana Bergendorff, Johnny Manuel and Georgi Simeonov.

    Song is written by Borislav Milanov (who wrote last 2 BG entries), Trey Campbell, Joacim Persson & Dag Lundberg (who’ve all written for established artists).

    Described as dark, modern “silent”/soulful ballad. Deep emotions, very spiritual, powerful chorus

  • Ben Cook

    Macedonian entry is unexpectedly strong! Does sound like 3 songs sellotaped together but somehow it works. Shame it’s in semi 1…

  • Lithuania is absolutely stunning to my ears. And by jolly, what a lovely girl. In a similar genre Germany is a true competitor. But I think Ieva is beating Michael Schulte on the charm department. Not to mention a more remarkable and effective staging. Well done Lithuania. Could be the small stand-out ballad, and is storming in my TOP 10.

    • Showlad

      It’s a really beautiful and gentle song.

    • It is a very sweet song. Feels more sincere than Spain and connects a million times better than boring Germany. Should get some decent UK, Irish and maybe Norwegian/Icelandic jury points at least. Has a John Lewisy Gabrielle Aplin flavour to it. I don’t think anyone pays attention to Lithuania any more, nobody can be bothered with their impossibly long selection.

  • The Nefeilibata

    Lithuania is a really cute song, however it’s in the first half of a really front loaded semi final

    There’s gonna be a lot of tears on the Tuesday night

  • Hippo

    I’ve been on the sidelines for the last 24 hours, just watching and reading the reaction to Israel without getting involved so far because I just feel so far removed from the consensus on anything this year that I don’t know whether to trust my own judgement, yet alone share it with others.

    How far from the consensus am I?
    Russia >Israel.
    Yep. I think the song that is being slated and has sent Mother Russia briefly above 500-1 (Thanks for the value, layers) will finish higher than fan and gambler darlings Israel. And no, I’m not trolling, when I say my initial reaction to Israel was NQ whilst everyone else seemed to be jumping on the hype train. Do I stand by that now? I’m not naive or arrogant to assume that I am right and most others are so wildly wrong, but I just don’t get this at all. I see an unvoteable, aggressive woman with a semi cohesive song, clucking and dancing like a chicken. I see a fanwank. All that everyone seems to like about this, I see as negatives.
    I see a Bojana Stamenov, a Mei Fiengold, an Igranka, a Hera Bjork, hell even a second Saara Aalto before I see a Conchita or some sort of landslide televote favourite. On the other hand, maybe I simply can’t tell the difference between a shit song and a good one.

    In the past two years, I’ve been vocal on here twice opposing early favourites, first Frans and then Italy last year but the difference this time around is that, whilst I disagreed with both those as winners, I at least understood the argument for them. This time I do not, which- perhaps somewhat illogically- makes me more cautious over what to predict with this.

    I wish I shared the optimism a lot of people whose opinions I value have in this, but I’d be lying if I said I did.

    Anyway, as for Sunday’s reveals :

    Russia – Top 10, overreaction, they know what they are doing with this in terms of staging. How obvious will it be she’s not singing the chorus will be a concern. Can they hide it well or just come clean, and show the backing singers.

    Fyrom- Good effort, but not good enough for this semi and if there’s one bad country at staging anyway it’s this lot.

    Lithuania- only third entry of theirs this decade I’ve not hated personally so that’s a start. Same applies as above however, not good enough for this semi.

    Anyway, good night folks, I’ll be setting my alarm for Bulgaria tomorrow, sounds interesting and whatever happens this will really change the market.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I agree with you, my first impression was “wtf are those chicken noises?”.

      How many times have we had a fan favourite fail to meet expectations? And on the flip side re Russia, how many times has a song that has been bashed to high heaven on these pages done well? (And Russia has been a major culprit of the latter)

  • For me the contenders at this very moment are:
    –> NORWAY / LA NORVEGE
    –> SWEDEN / LA SUEDE
    –> ISRAEL / L’ISRAEL
    –> AUSTRALIA / L’AUSTRALIE
    –> THE NETHERLANDS / LES PAYS BAS
    –> ESTONIA / L’ESTONIE

    Slightly beneath that:
    –> LITHUANIA / LA LITHUANIE
    –> BELGIUM / LA BELGIQUE
    –> MOLDOVA / LA MOLDAVIE
    –> AUSTRIA / L’AUTRICHE
    –> CZECH REPUBLIC / LA REPUBLIQUE TCHEQUE
    –> AZERBAIJAN / LE AZERBAIDJAN
    –> CROATIA / LA CROATIE

  • Addressing the elephant in the room: How much will this whole poisoning thing hurt Russia?

    • eurovicious

      No-one cares, it’s probably barely in the news outside the UK. They’ve invaded 2 other participating countries in the past decade and that hasn’t harmed their Eurovision chances.

      • Chris Bellis

        We don’t even know it was Russia that was responsible. The nerve agent was developed in Ukraine, which in the 1970s was part of the Soviet Union. After the fall of communism, many weapons fell into the wrong hands. I’m no apologist for Putin, the people’s gangster, but those nerve agents might be available to all sorts of miscreants, not just Putin’s mob. Interesting the way the series McMafia, which critics dismissed as “far-fetched” is proving to be right on the money.

  • Hippo

    Bulgaria: https://youtu.be/Uvy_R3fTHQ4

    Quality song definitely in the mix, main concern over them staging this effectively as a group of five, all needeing camera time.

  • Showlad

    Morning all 😉 Well we AIN’T going to Sofia any time soon…
    Very average like a Loreen backing track.

  • Mark dowd

    Definite quality and will justify top three place in betting. Great image staging potential. Only snag is lack of a classic bridge with chance for a big emotional surge. But Bulgaria are the form nation. This will go far I think.

  • Showlad

    Sorry Mark not in the Top 3 only with as you say staging and no LEDs in Lisbon… It ain’t beating Isr, NL, Cze, or Bel either.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    Just listened to Bulgaria. A case of ‘so much excitement about nothing’. Way too difficult for my ears.

  • Showlad

    Bulgaria goes nowhere as a song, has no gears, no impact, just a professional tv sci fi theme song really…

  • Songfestivalwerk

    “Blade Runner 2049” ;-P. Great Sci-fi flick from Denis Villeneuve. But it flopped completely at the box office.

  • Hippo

    With all respect to Iriao, and despite all the fan jokes, I don’t have them as anything near contenders and don’t really think I need to wait for the song to write Georgia off.

    That leaves me with this list of countries that can win, some longshots, some I don’t fully believe in myself but can’t ignore.
    In order of current odds:

    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Netherlands
    Spain
    Greece
    Armenia
    Russia

    Competing for a top 10 (as well as those above) are:

    Israel
    Czech Republic
    Australia
    Sweden
    Belgium
    Portugal
    Germany
    Norway
    Ukraine
    Latvia

    It’s a fascinating year. Feels like 2011 or 2014 in terms of openess. The last few years have seen the top songs really pull away from the lower ones in final scores, particularly on the televote. Everything looks much closer this time.

    • John

      Puts torch in front of face… Equinox!

      I broadly agree Hippo, although I have Belgium and Latvia down as a potential NQ. (Though most likely not).

      The Azeri cant be counted out to tease the top 10, their song is catchy. Moldova could bring the fun, Albania has pipes and Finland may just need a little time to brew.

      As for boney Bulgaria. I love it but I dont see it rocking a televote. Without LEDs they will have trouble telling an epic tale even if we think this can compete with its spiritual predecessor (Margaret Berger) which was the real sci fi deal. I wish they had really rocked the synth in the last 30 seconds to give it a moment. It certainly colours the competition, amd who doesnt love the hysteria of March madness?

      • Hippo

        I don’t see Bulgaria rocking with the public either, but it looks a likely jury winner at the moment and I can’t really see what will storm the televote- Everything feels either a little too niche or too bland and unspectacular.

        • Mark Dowd

          Spot on Hippo. They’ve left themselves with an awful lot to do I think to pull it off. It’s all on the staging to bring out the class. There just isn’t a song this year that you feel is both a jury and televote banker. Fun. And a trifle scary.

        • Showlad

          NL, Bel, Isr and Cze will all fare better with juries I think Hippo.

  • The Nefeilibata

    Bulgaria hasn’t got much of a hook but I like how atmospheric it is, and the production is top notch. I do agree that is is a song that definitely needed an LED screen.

    Bulgaria and Ukraine have done a good job in serving my own little quasi-goth niche this year, and that makes me happy.

  • James

    I wouldn’t write off Bulgaria too quickly with this song. It does sound like a sci-fi TV theme but I don’t see that as a negative at all, this sound is very mainstream at the moment. It’s melodic and atmospheric and with the right staging could be a real “moment” live on stage.

  • Showlad

    My gosh Team – Israel is SO SO far the best song in ESC 2018. It’s REALLY noticeable. Streets and streets ahead…

  • Dan

    Replace the monkey by a chicken, and you have the gamblewank of the year.
    I’ll pass.

    Bulgaria is good but could be really messy on stage.

    It’s an open year. Exciting!

  • Dan

    Contenders for the win : Estonia, Czechia, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
    I think Bulgaria is gonna be a mess on stage The jury won’t support Israel and Netta is not votable.

    Dark horses : Italy and France. It depends how they’ll stage it and if the message comes accros.

  • Melisandre

    Bulgaria sounds like a weaker version of Azerbaijan 2017. I don’t see it in the top 5 of televote or jury.

    At this point I think Israel will win the televote and possibly Sweden or Estonia will win the jury. Could result in a default Jamala type winner who doesn’t actually win either.

  • Emrico

    Israel wins televote. Estonia or Belgium wins jury. Don’t rule out Spain as well.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I’m not writing off Bulgaria just yet, but you have to admit that they look like a bunch of cold, angry vampires.

    • Lol a real motley crew. And I am writing them their mess off.

      Armenia tried this more is better approach in 2015. Their song I liked but it did very badly.

      An experienced group of singers may have great harmonies or choruses but chucking people together who don’t even know each other rarely works (even if the contest is trying to manipulate everything to make them to win – XF).

  • Do you think Felix would’ve been better for Sweden? IMO Every Single Day would’ve been the best ballad of the year. Shame it came second.

    • Songfestivalwerk

      I’m not sure Melisandre. There are already quite a few “arty” ballads in this year’s Eurovision that draw a bit too much comparisons with Salvador Sobral: Spain, Lithuania, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Ireland, perhaps Belgium too (all very high-quality songs if you ask me, but there are a bit too many of them in this year’s competition) . So in that field I think Félix would have struggled a bit. I think Sweden made the right choice its certainly distinct enough. Which is very important if I may so. And distinct enough are also: Norway, Israel, Estonia, Netherlands, Australia and perhaps Czech Republic/Moldova. Very important.

  • Melisandre

    I know we should be sceptical about Youtube statistics, but in less than 24 hours Netta already has more Youtube likes than anything else this year. Didn’t do Italy 2017 that much good, but I don’t this will be another Mei Finegold type fan flop.

  • I wonder if the “mother fu…”s will be left in Toy.

  • Saara Aalto with improved staging.

    • Showlad

      …and unfortunately Saara still painfully off key…

    • eurovicious

      First half really rough, second half really strong, with some good shots and moments of connection. If they keep working at it (especially vocals, diction and that all-important personal connection with the performer) I think it’ll be good enough to qualify from the second half of SF1, though it’s a prime candidate for the “jury drop” once it gets to the final. If it were in the first half of SF1 it’d have a much harder uphill struggle.

      She went to Lithuania and not only performed the song partly in Lithuanian, but played a gig in Vilnius’s gay bar the same weekend. It’s obviously all to lock in votes, but still something that locals will really appreciate – who else makes that kind of effort for them?

  • James

    I find Belgium totally forgettable I have to say. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, it’s just there. Personally I have it as a borderline qualifier from the first semi so I’m a bit confused to see it being talked of as a potential winner. I think some people are forgetting that despite their recent run of good results they still have almost no allies to rely on.

    • eurovicious

      I’m afraid I agree, and I think there’s a risk of other songs in the same semi taking its USP. I still think it’ll qualify, as it’ll be well staged and performed, but it’s not a cert. The song is almost too austere.

    • Melisandre

      That’s how I feel about the Czech song- minus the recent good track record.

      • eurovicious

        Same. I think it’s the single most overrated of this year’s entries.

        • I agree with you guys on Czech Republic and Belgium. Especially Czech Republic……….I think it has stiffer competition from the likes of Sweden, Moldova and Norway.

          • Showlad

            Hi. Cze is a great modern pop song with a brilliant charismatic singer. Don’t at all undersand how that’s not seen on here by a lot…
            Bel classy, moody song that juries will love and will do well with public enough.
            Horses for courses but these 2 countries esp Cze stand out easily for me. Cze in mix to win (1st to 4th). Bel 3rd to 7th vein.

          • The Nefeilibata

            I agree with Showlad, as much as I detest the Czech song, I do recognise the appeal, and if I’m going to be brutally honest: if this was the Swedish entry, this would be the runaway market leader by now.

            In regards to Belgium, I’ve got a good feeling that this will be one of those entries elevated by the live performance.

    • eurovicious

      I’d also add in relation to Belgium that we’re on a Flemish year (VRT), not a Walloon year (RTBF).

      Past 3 RTBF entries: 4th, 4th, 12th
      Past 3 VRT entries: 10th, NQ, NQ

      It’s RTBF that has the proven track record, not VRT.
      And this is less relevant because it’s very historical, but an entry organised by the Flemish broadcaster has never cracked the top 5, whereas Walloon entries have cracked the top 5 seven times to date (including Loic and Blanche) – both Belgium’s win with Sandra Kim and its second place with Urban Trad were RTBF entries, as were all of its other top 5 results.

  • Tim B

    Portugal performing 8th in the Grand Final. I don’t see it making the Top 10, and now it’ll be followed by all of the songs which finished 1-3 in their semi and drew the first half.

  • Ande

    Israel wins if staged properly, best song by far.

  • zelenovi

    One country I’m barely seeing on Top whatever lists here is France, and I want to make a serious case that it shouldn’t be overlooked for top 10/5 finish, *provided* it’s performed late in the show (otherwise I expect it to get lost in the noise).

    – I’ve seen comments that it’s ‘too French’ which I can’t take seriously. Note: betters are disproportionately British, and the UK is one of very few places on the continent that instinctively dislikes the French. In the overwhelming majority of Europe (especially in the east), France the brand still equals chic, and things that look and sound French are considered classy and aspirational. Case in point: Requiem’s result last year (feat. the*actual* Eiffel tower), despite a song well weaker than Mercy.
    – Mercy is an excellent and very contemporary song, it has gravitas yet is unexpectedly upbeat and hopeful.
    – The intimate performance style plus the theme, has massive potential to create a ‘moment’. (but again – depends on running order). It has no need for LED support, and it’s an instant earworm, especially the end.
    – Yes it’s in French, but media coverage will do a lot for them, and their staging has been decent lately. There are plenty of subtle things they can do here to support the message.

    This is totally biased – it’s been a favourite of mine since its selection and I think the lyrics are spectacular – but I still think there’s a solid case for it.

    • Melisandre

      I see France as a definite top 10 in the televote. I’m not sure how the juries will react to it though- they really weren’t keen in the French National final and I wonder if it could follow the fate of Requiem and the Austrian entry the year before.

    • Dan

      I don’t agree about the staging. The major problem with the French IS the staging precisely. They never get it right, even when their entry has enough potential to do really well. 2016 was a missed opportunity and 2017 was just bad, really bad. That’s a red flag for me. So, I’d way it’s risky to predict a top 10 finish for France right now.
      But I agree about the song. It’s really contemporary – even if it lacks a moment IMO. But its major strength is the political message. A story about an issue that is dividing Europe right now. For that specific reason, people are gonna hate it or love it. I can see it making the news all around Europe.
      But it needs a great staging. Otherwise, it’s gonna get lost.
      A top 10 finish is unlikely at the moment, but not impossible. I’m not writing them off yet. Just gonna wait for the rehearsals.

  • Finally………betters are jumping the Norwegian bandwagon :-). Massively shortening today. Now 10th on average with the bookies. And to me that makes sense…totally.

    • Ben Cook

      Yeah. As much as I preferred Rebecca’s song, they definitely picked right. If he gets everything right it could be this year’s cheesy enjoyable trash that comes 3rd in the televote.

  • Okay, let me start the talking about the more “arty”, slow-tempo pop songs in this year’s contest. I personally think Lithuania is the best in this genre. Yes, people have been made ‘brain-numb’ because of that long pre-selection. But the Lithuanian song is stunning. It is staged perfectly, with the singer sitting while singing, on bare feet. Here it actually makes totally sense. And I think it easily wins from

    – Germany (a singer with a bit underwhelming stage presence),
    – Portugal (has now a rather mediocre 8th running order spot),
    – Spain (too much of the duet version of last year’s Portugal, but even slightly more cheesy),
    – Belgium (sweet Bond-esque popsong, but it’s like “All Time High”, and certainly not “Skyfall”).

  • Ande

    Israel easily has the most chartable song this year and should win the televote with just average staging (think Lena 2010). If Toy is treated with care it ticks more than enough boxes with juries. Remember that Netta won with juries but not with the public(!) in Israel. The artsy and cool element combined with being a ESC novelty shows potential and the singer has huge charisma, gravitas and credible oval capabilities. There’s one big hurdle in the staging however. Israel isn’t great at staging and might be tempted to create a house party atmosphere to enfulge the casual viewer in living room euphoria. If this effort comes off as messy or tacky it will lose a lot of its cool/artsy appeal and judges will shy away. This is a winner, let’s see if Netta can realise her potential.

  • Ande

    Sweden is a threat again this year. MF statistics indicates ESC jury winner and 6th-10th with the public. Staging is spectacular and will ensure a top 3 with juries. It will be weak in televotes however. ‘Dance you of’ is a pretty weak effort in itself although it’s uniqueness (in the ESC 2018 context) and staging symbiosis elevates it markedly. Compared to Sweden’s previous efforts it is somewhere in between Robin (2017) and Mans (2015) and therefore warrants some cover bets in case the competition fails to deliver. That said Sweden’s Top 4 (3.0)/ Top 5 (2.74) markets offers much better value at this point and I believe this is a super safe Top 10 (1.56).

    If put in a final pimp slot with weak competiton in the unthreatening male category of preformers it might pull a Mans and win on staging novelty and overall competence, but don’t bet on it 😉

    • I look at MF stats too. But I think there’s something more subjective you’re missing from your stats – strength of the opposition. Dance You Off had extremely weak opposition.

      That’s the problem with comparing this year to other years where the juries had high quality stuff to chose from. (Shame the pv is a useless stat since the app). So you can’t really say it’s somewhere between Robin and Mans.

      • Ande

        With thousands of applicants and between 28 and 32 acts competing every year MF stats has been very consistent from year to year. Even though I agree that the Swedish selection was slightly weaker in 2018 compared to the last three years it’s by no means a huge drop in quality and Benjamin being as convincing with juries as Loreen was with Euphoria is nothing to scoff at.

        Tell me Henry, what is the weak points of the Swedish entry (specifically compared to Mans/Robin) and what position do you think Sweden will have with the pulbic/juries at this years ESC?

        • T10 maybe as it’s Sweden. You maybe right in your predictions. I was just warning that MF jury stats may not be as useful as in past strong years and imo the 4 preceding MFs were much stronger than this year, but I know that’s subjective.

        • eurovicious

          “Benjamin being as convincing with juries as Loreen was with Euphoria is nothing to scoff at”

          Sorry, I think it is, haha 🙂 Euphoria is very strongly vocally driven and full of emotion. Dance You Off isn’t, and as you say, feels like a weak effort.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I could see Sweden being an “accidental winner”, it visually stands out even if the song isn’t all that, but then again people laid those same accusations at Heroes

      • But Mans had all his little friends and the story tale (and power). And the shock of the new (like Netta?).

      • eurovicious

        I’ll be somewhat surprised if it does as well as Frans and Robin Bengtsson. The typically Sweden-loving juries will almost certainly like it, maybe not as much as they liked I Can’t Go On(!), but I don’t think it’s a good televote number. It’s not an immediate entry, much more like an album track than Sweden’s past two efforts.

  • Richie

    Sweden can’t win this year. They just won. It will end up like Robin last year. Top5 but no winner. Song is like a typical Justin Bieber song.

    • I don’t think anything stops a country winning consecutively or closely if they capture the zeitgeist again eg Ireland.

      Can’t see this guy with his douchy head flicks doing it.

      • eurovicious

        He looks like Bobby from Twin Peaks. It’s both less objectionable and less catchy than Robin last year; I don’t especially mind it, but it was a weak effort in an even-weaker-than-usual MF, and it barely made an impression on me when I saw it in the first semi. The fact it then went on to win says a lot about the competition and the contest.

        We already know that Scandinavian entries but most especially Sweden are overrated by punters. The pre-rehearsal betting market stats from 2007-2017 show that Sweden is consistently too short in the odds in the pre-rehearsal period, even in years in which it does well (in the case of the last 4 years).

        https://www.escxtra.com/2017/03/16/analysing-ten-years-eurovision-odds-good-imperfect-indicator/

        2007: Sweden 2nd in pre-rehearsal market, finished 18th
        2008: Sweden 6th in pre-rehearsal market, finished 18th
        2009: Sweden 6th in pre-rehearsal market, finished 21st
        2010: Sweden 8th in pre-rehearsal market, didn’t qualify
        2011: Sweden 5th in pre-rehearsal market, finished 3rd
        2012: Sweden 1st in pre-rehearsal market, won
        2013: Sweden 5th in pre-rehearsal market, finished 14th
        2014: Sweden 2nd in pre-rehearsal market, finished 3rd
        2015: Sweden 1st in pre-rehearsal market, won
        2016: Sweden 3rd in pre-rehearsal market, finished 5th
        2017: Sweden 3rd in pre-rehearsal market, finished 5th

        So we see that in 8 out of the past 11 years, Sweden’s odds were shorter than they should have been. This should definitely be borne in mind when considering Benjamin’s chances this year.

        • Ande

          I think you are right that Sweden often is slightly overrated in the winners market but not nearly to the likes of the UK. On the other hand it has been generally underrated in other markets (top 10, top 5 etc).

          There is no country that has produces NF performances as similar as their Eurovision counterpart. Sweden will never pull a Conchita or Salvador and come out of nowhere to top the odds in the last few days.

          Sweden is a low variance competitor which in turn makes their ranking in outright odds lower than their average placing. In this context 1st/3rd is meaningless as what we really want is average odds in the pre-rehearsal period. It is however interesting to compare Sweden’s track reckord compared to other pre-rehearsal favourites.

          Sweden’s final placements compared to other pre-rehearsal favourites:

          2011: 5th, came 3rd
          Fav: FRA(15th), 2nd Fav: UK(11th)

          2012: 1st, came 1st
          2nd Fav: RUS (2nd), 3rd Fav: ITA(9th)

          2013: 5th, came 14th
          Fav: DEN(1st), 2nd Fav: NOR(4th)

          2014: 2nd, came 3rd
          Fav: ARM(4th), 3rd Fav: DEN(9th)

          2015: 1st, came 1st
          2nd Fav: ITA(3rd), 3rd Fav: AUS(5th)

          2016: 3rd, came 5th
          Fav: RUS(3rd), 2nd Fav: FRA(6th)

          2017: 3rd, came 5th
          Fav: ITA(6th), 2nd Fav: BGR(2nd)

          Worth noting here is that Sweden often beats the pre-rehearsal market leader, but is in turn usually overtaken by a few of the many dark horses. This means Sweden is a stable preformer poised to be an “accidental winner” when the competition has off years.

          • Really interesting analysis, and it’s also worth noting that Sweden often leads the market before a single note is sung at Melodifestivalen. Is this the first case of a country being a “Fanwank Nation”?

          • eurovicious

            Yes. It’s the Swedophiles.

          • Dan

            Not really James, since they actually bring the points in too.

            And I’m seeing more and more Sweden hate in the fan community. Whilst I would agree Melfest hasn’t been as good the last few years, it has become fashionable to trash Sweden and the influence they have over the contest. It’s like it’s a way of distancing yourself from the “fanboys” (another term I hate).

          • eurovicious

            Oh I’m totally guilty of bashing Sweden, though it comes from a place of love and disappointment out of wanting their music to have some passion and fun again and be less calculated. I have Melodifestivalen 2009 on DVD and I speak Swedish to an intermediate level. Ich bin ein Fanboy.

            I think the issue for a lot of people is Björkman rather than Sweden or Melodifestivalen generally. So a lot of people who complain about Sweden actually mean him really. There’s also the issue of Swedish songs from a small number of song factories turning up in almost every single country’s national final, which leads more and more to all NFs sounding the same. But it’s not Sweden’s fault that it’s so successful in this industry – and the reason a lot of those songs are there is that countries come knocking for them, especially small countries with underdeveloped music industries. For instance, I’m disappointed that Lithuania buys in so many Swedish songs for its NF every year, but that’s not Sweden’s fault, it’s LRT’s – they should do what neighboring Estonia and to some extent Latvia do and make greater use of homegrown musicians and songwriters.

            I’m concerned about Björkman’s increasing tendrils, the fact that other countries’ NFs and the contest itself are becoming more and more like Melodifestivalen (the bad Melodifestivalen of the 2013-present era, not good MF of yore), and especially about his role as Contest Producer this year. I half-expect there to be a flashing graphic of Salvador’s heart that lights up to show how many people are voting via the app.

          • Interesting insight lads. I agree there is a bit of a backlash against Sweden in the fan community, which is sad because their two productions were spectacular. But I think a lot of it is directed at Bjorkman. I’m not sure why he’s so hated though, apart from the (frankly, very fair) comments he made about Terry Wogan.

            The only thing that does bother me with Sweden is the sheer amount of pies Thomas G:Son puts his fingers into. Sadly, they do export a LOT of good pop music – certainly where the writers and producers are concerned.

            I am unconcerned by Bjorkman’s role in Lisbon. The arsing up of MF has been the New producer they bought in who wanted to rebrand the whole thing to Mello – hence the awkward sub brand sitting amongst the established one. Bjorkman just picks the music although it’s blatant he went off looking for knockoffs of Despacito.

          • Ande

            Björkman is not the one to blame and even if he was he will reach pension age in just a few years. Björkman has stepped down from everything but contest producing in MF . Ukraine called him in after screwing up royally, first he had to to contest production in 8 weeks (normally takes 28) then he had to take over show production with just 4 weeks to go. This year Portugal brought him in in time because they have no experience themselves. Bjorkman can be a little dictatorial at Times’ but he also has great attention to detail, one exempel is that it’s very likely Salvador wouldn’t have won last year without him, he blocked a decision to cut the central stage in the middle of the audience when other pushed for it to be removed since it wasn’t used very much. Bjorkman has little to do with the app debacle in recent MFs. One other thing he does great is cut costs which means a cheaper contest that more countries will be able to take part in.

    • Dan

      Richie, they’d “just won” when Heroes won. In fact, they’re now due a win if they’re going to carry on the pattern!

      I’m surprised people are calling Dance You Off weak. It’s a decent, relevant, chart-worthy song. It wouldn’t win on song alone – but then Heroes wouldn’t have done either. The visual performance is as impressive IMO, though definitely without the emotional connection.

      I think it’s another easy top 5 result, so on that basis I can’t rule it out going all the way. “Accidental winner”, maybe.

      And eurovicious, Sweden surely aren’t that overrated by punters. 2007-2010 they were, but you had to go back that far to prove your point. The fact is they have actually now come top 5 for 6 of the last 7 contests, and they were only 1st in betting in the 2 years they did win.

  • eurovicious

    So I’ve had a first go at predicting the two semis. before we have any running order or staging. Until now I hadn’t looked at the split between the two semis but yeah, as others have commented, the first half of SF1 is very strong (and the second half of SF2 very weak).

    SF1
    Q: Israel, Bulgaria, Belgium, Albania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Finland
    NQ: Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania
    Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Switzerland

    SF2
    Q: Australia, Moldova, Netherlands, Russia, Hungary, Sweden, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia
    NQ: Denmark, Norway, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Latvia, Malta, Slovenia

    I think Montenegro takes Serbia’s USP among the diaspora and regional vote, just as in 2013. It’s later in the running order and more cohesive, with a stronger focal point in the footsteps of Knez, Sergej et al.

    • Showlad

      Surpised EV you with Norway NQ – this is walking into the Final and could be annoyingly Top 5 in the final. Gonna get a shed of public votes mark my words 😉

      • eurovicious

        Oh well. I know the fandom isn’t representative of the voting public on the night, but it seems to be universally reviled – I personally can’t stand it, his Upfjord Funk shtick is the worst thing to come out of Norway since Anders Breivik. (I never liked Fairytale either though or understood Rybak’s appeal.) I don’t like Bruno Mars-type music anyway, but bad European Bruno Mars knockoffs are a pet hate of mine – I couldn’t stand Cliche Love Song or What’s The Pressure? either. It’s the musical equivalent of someone being sick down your throat.

        • Showlad

          Norway is dated, cheesy pop by numbers. Annoying yes but catchy as hell and put together SO well. This is going to be Top 5 in the Final.

          • meridian_child

            How is this going to be Top 5 if only 4/10 international jury groups put him on first place?
            If this gets Top 5, where will Sweden be then?

  • Hippo

    I like the bold Estonia, Czech Nqs Ev, I’m tempted to leave Israel out myself but for now I have:

    S1: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Belgium, Estonia, Israel, Finland, Austria, Armenia, Cyprus, Greece

    S2: Russia, Romania, Australia, Norway, Moldova, Netherlands, Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine

    • eurovicious

      Outside the fan bubble no-one knows who he is. And it’s in the first half of SF2 with a lot of stronger, more distinctive entries and reliable qualifiers (not just the four I’ve picked – Australia, Moldova, Netherlands and Russia – but also Romania and Serbia, who have extremely strong qualification records and reliable voting bases). We’re looking at a ceiling of 5 songs qualifying from the first half, and I have Norway down as only the 7th most likely qualifier behind those others.

      • MarcelFIN

        Actually I think Rybak is still surprisingly well known outside the bubble He performed at the Eurovision cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn last autumn and there was a big group of girls that did not care about the other eurovision acts, but had come especially for him. Fairytale is one of the better know winners of recent time. Also he is relatively well known in Belarus (and possibly also other ex-Soviet countries) because he was born there and he speaks the language. I think Norway will qualify.

        • The Nefeilibata

          He’s most popular in the Russosphere, and he has both Russia and Ukraine in his semi, so that’s around 40 points sewn up already

          It’s defo more of an entry that appeals to the general public more than the fans, the Norwegians don’t vote for names if they don’t think they have the song/performance to back it up, and he landslided the NF again, so there’s that.

  • RonH

    Am I the only one who thinks Austria is the most underrated song at this moment?

  • One concern I have about Israel is how much of it will be sung live and how much will be her pressing buttons.

    Of course on the studio version it sounds like she’s singing and rapping the whole thing fluently. If it wasn’t for the sample noises she begins with, it wouldn’t be apparent at all that she uses a looper. The (amazing) silly faces she pulls in the music video when miming the various quick cut noises helps to form that illusion. The second verse in particular sounds like a nightmare to pull off live. Netta isn’t rapping – remember that.

    If in Lisbon, we see Netta pressing a lot of buttons to deliver all the catchiest bits of the song, with sparse organic live vocal, I think it could lose its wow factor.

    I’m reminded of Tanja performing Amazing in Copenhagen. No, there was no looper involved, but near the start of the song, you can hear the line “we were weightless” being sung by a backing singer with a jarringly different setting on her mic, impersonating and covering for Tanja, while we simultaneously see her sit up, smiling and not singing. It was a massive televisual blunder and reeked of viewer deception.

    Now I’m not saying Netta can’t or won’t deliver Toy’s vocal performance live, switching and overlapping organic live vocal and looper as seamlessly as the studio version, I’m just saying I’ll be very impressed if she does. Toy may (have to) sound very different live, for better or worse, and the studio version offers no clues. This is unprecedented IMO, and a word of caution to her odds shortening too much. Bring on preview party performances.

    • Shai

      Well Ben, you should look for video’s of Netta’s performances in the Israeli pre selection, because she was doing exactly that.Switching from looper to organic vocals without efforts.

      And as I said before, we may be heading for case where each of her live performance is different from her previous one and therefore unique

    • Ande

      I’m seconding Shai. Netta’s live preformances are solid…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SNT1Oz_lbc

    • I never took much notice of her because I found her work shite…until Toy. Toy is great. But the video is very dynamic and she’s in lots of different poses and costumes. The stage show will be more static so could disappoint.

    • eurovicious

      I think Ben raises a lot of highly worthwhile discussion points regarding Toy that should be borne in mind whatever your position on it. The song is very different from any of her live performances we’ve seen – it makes minimal use of the looper and is much more structured, which is the right choice. While she’ll undoubtedly have her tech on stage with her, I think at ESC she’ll have to focus on the vocal and on giving good camera, and the looper use will be reduced and in part mimed/tokenistic. I think this is eminently achievable. The focus absolutely has to be on a quality live vocal (same goes for Monsters of course) paired with great camera interaction (like in the video), because those distort effects used in her Israeli performances, while a neat gimmick, don’t actually sound that good, in fact they take away from the quality of her voice. She also isn’t looking at the camera most of the time in her Israeli performances due to the nature of the setup.

      This is why I think it’s smart how they’ve quarantined the looper section in the arrangement as a great 20-second build up to the main song, which isn’t really reliant on it. The opening introduces Netta as a personality and shows her using the tech and building up the initial loop, which grabs viewer interest and establishes her as a total novelty. Then with the transition to the opening lyric we go into the song proper, which (IMO) needs to be delivered largely without actual use of the looper but still with some supplementary (possibly mimed) use of it as a visual prop.

  • eurovicious

    My two cents on Zhana Bergendorff: she’s fantastic, but I wish they’d sent her with a Moisey/Dexter/Krisko production, then we could have had a contemporary banger/anthem to truly rival Israel.

  • My God, both semi finals have become true ‘ultimate death matches’. Not so much because one of the semi’s is better than the other. But because the first half’s of both semi’s are very strong, and then the 2nd half’s are pretty……tiresome?

    Well here are my qualifiers and -playing devil’s advocate- the exact rankings :-). Also as a response to our dear Eurovicious:

    Semi-Final #1:
    001. “Q” LITHUANIA
    002. “Q” ISRAEL
    003. “Q” CZECH REPUBLIC
    004. “Q” BELGIUM (Nope, not 007 :-P)
    005. “Q” GREECE
    006. “Q” AUSTRIA
    007. “Q” ALBANIA
    008. “Q” ESTONIA
    009. “Q” BULGARIA
    010. “Q” CROATIA
    ————————————
    11. “NQ” Azerbaijan
    12. “NQ” Belarus
    13. “NQ” Finland
    14. “NQ” Ireland
    15. “NQ” Armenia
    16. “NQ” F.Y.R. Macedonia
    17. “NQ” Cyprus
    18. “NQ” Iceland
    19. “NQ” Switzerland

    Semi-Final #2:
    001. “Q” AUSTRALIA
    002. “Q” NORWAY
    003. “Q” THE NETHERLANDS
    004. “Q” SWEDEN
    005. “Q” MOLDOVA
    006. “Q” UKRAINE
    007. “Q” POLAND
    008. “Q” ROMANIA
    009. “Q” LATVIA
    010. “Q” RUSSIA
    ————————————
    11. “NQ” Denmark
    12. “NQ” Malta
    13. “NQ” Serbia
    14. “NQ” San Marino
    15. “NQ” Hungary
    16. “NQ” Georgia
    17. “NQ” Montenegro
    18. “NQ” Slovenia
    19. “NQ” Switzerland

    Probably it’s all way too early. Well, I don’t give a f*** ;-). It’s only fun. But I do think we are greatly underestimating Lithuania.

    • Montell

      Haven’t you commented how not to underestimate Azerbaijan and everything? I thought you like it. And now you see it as NQ. Hmmmm…

    • Montell

      Switzerland is NQ in both of the semis. Oh man 😀 Is it so bad? Just kidding.

      • Hahaha, slight mistake off course. There’s no Switzerland in semi final 2 :-P. Regarding semi final #1………..it’s really too difficult. I just don’t know what to predict. Estonia and Croatia could fail to make the cut. And instead Azerbaijan and Belarus qualify. I have also some 2nd thoughts about Albania. But to me it’s the best Albanian entry since 2012.

        • eurovicious

          It’s a strong Albanian entry (much better than 2013, for instance), and important not to underestimate Azerbaijan. They like to qualify and usually do enough to make sure they do in terms of the staging, backing vocalists etc.

  • Melisandre

    Does anyone else think Greece have a chance? Could be something the jury could really appreciate and the song itself seems surprisingly popular- the Greek diaspora is a bit of a sleeping giant and they seem to love it as well.

    • I personally think Greece has the best etno-song since 2011. I really like it. Regardless of that I think it qualifies with much more ease as opposed to last year’s qualification.

    • eurovicious

      It is really decent and is high in my personal ranking. I haven’t done any research on how reliable the performer is.

    • Hippo

      A lot of people seem to like Greece and it is flying under the radar a bit. It is diaspora friendly after 4 years of relative crap and the Balkans are short of quality this year so this could get some regional support too. Vocally she’s solid enough. A lot will hinge on the staging, instrumentals being particularly hard to get right.
      I have it as a bit a dark horse and there’s no reason this couldn’t nab a top 5.

  • Melisandre

    Toy is currently trending at number 9 on Youtube in the UK. A first surely for a Eurovision song months before the contest?

    • eurovicious

      It already has 3 million views. (The video was uploaded both to the Eurovision channel and the Israeli label’s channel, and it has over 1.5 million views on each.) There’s significant potential for it to go viral between now and May. It’s not an Occidentali’s Karma situation either – that garnered a lot of views but they were largely domestic. Israel’s population is 7.5 times smaller than than of Italy’s. If she’s had 3 million views already I’d expect her viewer stats to exceed Israel’s population by some time next week. There’s potential for this to be a Susan Boyle or (to a lesser extent) Gangnam Style situation – we’re perhaps not witnessing the emergence of a contest favourite but of a global star. It also has huge replayability factor, of course, which will be driving those views. I haven’t repeat-listened to a Eurovision entry so many times since Tooji’s Stay (which, hashtag sadface, came last).

  • Emrico

    We didn’t watched Netta’s live performance for Toy yet but her previous performances look impressive so far! I think it’s very mistake to think juries won’t reward her high points. Hey, the jurries are not mozart-looking old people who work in linbrary. They’re djs, song writers and artists. They’re normal people and they can like this song too. Netta will win.

  • oakie1979

    I haven’t made my mind yet if Israel is the obvious winner and there isn’t a decent song that could challenge Netta or if we have the weakest Eurovision of the 2 semifinals era and is probable to have a dark horse winning the show.

    It reminds me of 2011 when pre rehearsals and during rehearsals the 3 favourites were Hungary, Estonia and France. Am i denying to see the truth or am i right to wait a little bit longer to make up my mind?

    My thoughts for the 2 semis and the Top-10 of the final are:

    Semi 1

    1. Israel
    2. Belgium
    3. Bulgaria
    4. Greece
    5. Czech Rep
    6. Austria
    7. Estonia
    8. Azerbaijan
    9. Armenia
    10. Finland
    11. Croatia
    12. Lithuania
    13. Macedonia
    14. Cyprus
    15. Albania
    16. Belarus
    17. Switzerland
    18. Ireland
    19. Iceland

    Switzerland, Ireland and Iceland are the 3 hopeless songs for Semi 1.

    Semi 2

    1. Australia
    2. Sweden
    3. Denmark
    4. Netherlands
    5. Norway
    6. Ukraine
    7. Poland
    8. Moldova
    9. Romania
    10. Serbia
    11. Georgia
    12. Latvia
    13. Hungary
    14. Russia
    15. Malta
    16. Slovenia
    17. Montenegro
    18. San Marino

    What a weak Semi! Probably the weakest of all time.

    Top-10 Final based on my instinct alone

    1. Belgium
    2. Israel
    3. Australia
    4. Portugal
    5. Greece
    6. Bulgaria
    7. Austria
    8. Czech Rep
    9. France
    10. Sweden

    This is the first time since i started watching Eurovision back in 1987 that i only like 2 songs. Portugal and Belgium and that’s it. Not my cup of tea this year…

    • eurovicious

      It’s not a great year, you’re right. For me though, it’s at least still better than 2010-2011 and 2013-2014. The biggest issue, and one I’ve heard others articulate, is that while there are a fair few songs I like, there are hardly any I love (just Israel).

  • You see, I don’t agree that it’s a “bland” year – from where I’m sitting there’s quite a nice tossed salad on offer. There’s country, rock, commercial pop, electro, quirky pop, serious art records with a moral message, Opera… it’s a very varied year, musically.

  • I think France could be the surprise dark horse of the pack, if they can get the message from the video into their staging. Of course, French hasn’t won for a long time, I think Celine Dion was the last artist to pull it off. The problem is they never quite stage the songs quite right. Requiem should have done a lot better than it did, but Alma was alone on that cavernous LED wall with not a great camera script and it just looked awkward.

    • RonH

      Last French victory was 1977 Marie Myriam “L’oiseau et l’enfant” (still my all time favorite). Celine Dion won over a decade later for Switzerland.

    • Chris Bellis

      Yes, James. That staging was awful. Object lesson how not to do it, but then France has a record of bad staging going back years. Some of their non-winning songs have gone on to be standards that are played on adverts and as theme tunes to films, and are instantly recognisable eg Jessy Matador’s song. Nevertheless that didn’t come close to winning, at least partly due to crap staging. Plenty of others too numerous to list.

    • I agree that France is much underrated ; it has a huge political advantage like conchita wurst and jamala ..it could strike a chord and strike with the zeit geist

  • Just a question. How would you girls and guys rank these 6 songs? Which one stands out most?

    — Portugal
    — Germany
    — France
    — Lithuania
    — Spain
    — Ireland

    • oakie1979

      1. Portugal
      2. France
      3. Lithuania
      4. Germany
      5. Spain
      6. Ireland

    • John

      They may end up being draw-dependent, but I’d order them as –

      Germany – strong chorus/vibe, good vocals, guitar music which has wide appeal

      Spain – I dont like it but stands out as a sentimental duet

      France – fairly gentle number but classy and somewhat emotional by stealth

      Ireland – classy and gentle like France but also probably too gentle

      Portugal – is badly drawn at 8th, stands out but also forgettable

      Lithuania – way too light and John Lewisy. I find her vocals too knowingly earnest.

    • 1. France
      2. Germany
      3. Portugal
      4. Spain
      5. Lithuania
      6. Ireland

  • Songfestivalwerk

    So, currently we have Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia, Bulgaria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Spain in the TOP 10 of the betting odds.

    Which of these will fall out of the Grand Final TOP 10 eventually?

    In my honest opinion I am still sceptical about Czech Republic, Spain and to a lesser extend Estonia too. What do you think?

    • Hippo

      I’ve gone through all the entries again over the last few days, trying to see where they will get their points from and I’m most worried about Belgium out of those you say. I love it, but it might be too anonymous and an early draw would crush it on the televote side. Spain can easily fudge their entry up and end in the bottom 5 again too and Australia will need a big jury push to get there.
      In no particular order, I currently have the following in the top 10:

      Estonia
      Czech Republic
      Russia
      Israel
      Bulgaria
      Greece
      Netherlands
      Armenia
      Sweden
      Norway

      • Armenia and Russia don’t figure for me, though broadly agree on the rest Hippo. I think Germany may squeeze in there if he can up his vocals and it’s decently staged. And I do think Belgium’s class will count…though 7 to 10 and not troubling top five.

        Still staggered at how Norway’s cheap song is being sold so effervescently!! Good luck to him. That might be this year’s Moldova 2017.

    • I think the whole “Get A Room” staging of Spain will hurt it.

      Has any country ever gone from last to first in two consecutive years? I know Austria have gone the other way.

      • The Nefeilibata

        I don’t think it’s happened but Germany 2009-2010 came close

      • RonH

        It did happen: to The Netherlands in 1968 and 1969. But the the last place in 1968 was shared (with Finland) as well as the first place in 1969 (with UK, Spain and France). It was under the old voting system in which the juries distributed ten points among their favourite songs.

    • John

      For me the top 10 is a little hard to pin down at the moment. There seems to be a lot of false favourites and countries which are bouyed by the received wisdom of the betting odds. Remember 2011….

      As for Songfestivalwerk’s list – Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia, Bulgaria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Spain.

      I would only have faith in Israel, Bulgaria, Australia, Netherlands and Norway for the top 10.

      Israel has the catchy-ness, the hype, the charisma, the topicality and stands out. Bulgaria may be offbeat but will likely stand out, and is a quality song anyway. I have faith that Bulgaria want to put everything they’ve got into this and likely won’t stage a mess. Norway is cheese but has a proven entertainer, charisma, vocals, a bit of winner’s hype, and most importantly creates a very infectious giddy ‘moment’ in the final minute. They are unlikely to dump Rybak in a bad slot either. The Dutch probably walk the best line between televote and jury vote and seem like the easiest song to stage adequately. Waylon also seems a cool cucumber on stage too. His live rendition beats the studio edit too. Australia seem the most precarious of the ‘likelys’ as the song gets repetitive towards the end, but Jessica does stir a lot of nice flavours into the studio version with her vocals. If she can on stage like Dami Im did then the juries and televote will probably see it home to a good place result. The lyrics are trite but she brings sincerity.

      No-one else seems safe. The Czech’s have never staged a hit. and the uptempo vocals are a big ask. It’s a catchy song (if a bit cavalier). There are more fun entries like Rybak’s and Israel’s too. Estonia is an impressive voice, a light up dress and a backing track. The juries will either gather around or desert this one entirely. Belgium is the strangest favourite for me. I wonder where’s the wide appeal in a Bond song that is sub-Conchita, has kinda annoying vocals, might get a bad draw, and worst of all, is about morbidity and decay? Sweden is lifted by slick production and creates an engaging experience, but may be a bit too subdued in a more competitive field. Juries will like but I see a Stjernberg 12th place for this. Spain, ugh, ‘get a room’ is right. Plus, usual staging concerns aside, it isn’t in English and I think Salvador has made people forget that is still, in a flat race, a detriment to winning.

      My alternative 5 to make up the top 10 would be

      Russia – behemoth televote and it would require a jury gang-up to get in their way. I think Julia is a likable figure too.
      Germany – a strong chorus, great vocals are likely wide appeal. This year’s Standing Still? Michael Schulte does look a bit too much like Rocky from ‘Mask’ for my liking though.
      Armenia – in my opinion, the best ballad in the competition, comes across as heartfelt and has a ethnic authenticity that the juries will likely reward.
      Azerbaijan, Finland …and maybe even Moldova have a chance too, though more than likely not, because of the juries.

  • Shai

    Israel has just reached the 5 million views on YouTube.
    3m on the Eurovision channel and 2m on the Israeli channel.

  • Tim B

    Wow, look at Israel go! Matched on Betfair at 2.88.

    • meridian_child

      I wonder if we ever get a song which gets matched lower before rehearsals than Italy 2017

      https://image.ibb.co/cuJ5ec/esc_2017_italy.jpg

      1.64 guys.. maybe together we can do it 😀

      • By all means go right ahead. It’ll be affordable for me to lay it then at least.

        There’s no arguing with it being a brilliant song and an especially entertaining music video, and a standout entry.

        That doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best 3 minutes of television though. I don’t see Israel losing its position at the top of the market, but I can see it drifting to 5 or 6 and others shortening if Netta doesn’t deliver it to the same standard at the preview parties.

        • Chris Bellis

          As I already said, I’m not going to make my last year’s mistake, scrabbling around at the last minute to lay the favourite. These prices for Israel are not sensible in this field at this stage. I have already followed my bookie brother-in-law’s advice on what to do when odds drop this low on a big field. You can always cover your bets at a later stage. I’ve played that song to a few people and they are amazed that the odds are so short, so that makes me think it’s got an element of fanwank about it. I rather like it, but I am not so arrogant as to think I am always right. My test of average punters says it won’t get as many votes as some people here think.

          • Mark Dowd

            Endorse that line of thinking.

            France 2011
            Armenia 2014
            Russia 2016
            Italy 2017…

            Too many precedents for that price to be seen as valuable. I did back Norway 2009 and Denmark 2013 when favourites five weeks before the final, but they weren’t alienating people in the way Netta perhaps does. Of course, one’s circle could be totally unrepresentative!!

        • I think there is a serious opportunity to make it rain by laying Israel.

          • Tim B

            You may well be right, but I think the timing could be wrong. It’ll be Top 2 with OGAE voting, probably the winner. If so, all we will see in the next month is “12 points to Israel” stories appearing online which could push its price down further.

  • Ande

    Let’s discuss target price for Israel. I believe odds around 5ish are reasonable for Netta at this stage, there are too many uncertainties for me to warrant lower odds. My main concerns are:
    – Netta losing the televote in Israel (is she lacking likability?).
    – Israel is not the best at staging.
    – No obvious precedent for how to create good staging for this type of song.
    – Easy to stage the song too camp/messy/tacky.
    – Difficulty to create a dynamic presentation with the static soundboard.
    – Lacks attractive visual appeal.

    • Tim B

      Made of Stars and Golden Boy were staged flawlessly, were they not?

      • Ande

        No, they were ok but quite basic stagings. Made of Stars was fine but not a Winner worthy staging by any stretch, Golden Boy was messy but fun on stage. Before that Israel has staged their songs safe and quite boringly iirc.

    • Melisandre

      I think there was “app voting only” in Israel. Female singers always do very poorly whenever there is an app vote (see Melfest the past 4 years for example). Also Salvador didn’t win the televote in Portugal last year.

      There is potential for the staging to be disastrous though.

  • Chris Bellis

    Mark Dowd Your circle isn’t unrepresentative. The Eurovision fan bubble is the unrepresentative group as far as winners go. I won’t embarrass them (or me) by listing the entries that have been supported here over the years that have then gone on to dismal failure. No blame, we’ve all done it.

  • Showlad

    Toy 6.4 million YouTube views in 6 days.

  • Mr Wolf

    Question to the very pro-Netta people here.

    Even if Netta gets great tele and leads the stats after the Semis, based on what are you counting on her jury?

    I mean Gabbani totally crushed most of the pre-juries last year, but failed to get more than 126p jury points in Kiev.

    Based on what is your assumption that Netta is gonna get as much jury as the current price in markets would suggest?

    Are you gonna count just on your personal feeling on that till the Final jury voting or what?

    • I’m not one of the very pro-Netta people, but while keeping in mind the quality of the competition and running order, I would be looking at upward of how well Bojana Stamenov did, (10th televoting, 24th juries) as a direct comparison for both televote and jury based on the below reasons.

      – The package and the social message both entries convey are borne from the same values.

      – Both lead vocalists haven’t shown a tendency to move from one spot when performing live, and because both songs are uptempo this means there is likely to be some movement around Netta to compensate visually, as Bojana’s performance did.

      – Bojana is arguably a better singer but her song was infinitely shittier.

      – Televoters rewarded Bojana for entertainment value, for that “yaaas you go girl” sentiment, and a ‘moment’ where the arena came alive. (I prefer to call it the moment they threw a keyboard down the stairs.)
      They’ll do the same with Netta but moreso because in addition to the above, the song is current, topically relevant and the ethnic flourishes match it well to Israel. The chicken noise and dance might also come to define it when Joe Public decides who to vote for.

      – Bojana came 24th with the juries in 2015, so you’re looking at upward of that. Juries will be rewarding Netta for a current song, for artistry with use of a looper and wearing clothes that compliment her empowerment, for good vocals, but may hinder it for somewhat offputting ethnic flourishes as juries have tended to do, and for too much silliness on stage if that’s what they put up.

      So the question is, how much higher will the jury rank her based on ranking Bojana 24th? It doesn’t matter which of the three 50/50 voting systems you use. If she’s not in their top 5, she’s not winning.

      • For what it’s worth, juries responded well to Golden Boy which has the same songwriter and very similar ethnic touches to ‘Toy’ as a result.

        This was also in a year with an extraordinarily strong top 3 (which 2018 can’t boast) hoovering up the lion’s share of the points. Although that’s partly down to the voting system used which promoted points being concentrated on a few songs and thus a very low top 10 threshold. Israel would have only fallen two places to 9th under the split system (Source: https://youtu.be/rNNv9bOcSlI?t=18m30s )

        Bearing everything in mind until we know staging details and running order, I can see Netta finishing top 5 with televoters and 5th-10th with juries.

        • meridian_child

          Golden Boy only received 80 points from juries. Thats rather low if you consider ‘A Monster Like Me’ got 163 jury points or ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’ got 63 jury points.

          • Yes, I’ve addressed that because 2015 had a very strong top 3 and Heroes alone received roughly 75% of the jury points on offer. Russia would’ve otherwise won. So, even though the 2013-2015 voting system promoted agreement between televoters and juries, the nature of the top 3 being head and shoulders above everyone else that year exacerbated it.

      • Hippo

        I don’t think Neta is ever a jury top 5, in fact I’d cap her jury points around 100 at best, it’s too divisive with the way the ranking system works. An awful lot of individual jurors will rank this 20th or lower, making it very hard for this to pick up big points.

      • oakie1979

        In my opinion you are heavily underestimating Israel guys. It’s a very weak year and there are only a few decent songs that actually can make the viewers feel something. Toy is catchy, interesting and has a meaning and if staged properly, Israel has a good history of staging, i don’t see another song threatening Israel.

        There isn’t a single song that could stand up and get the 10’s-12’s from everywhere. Israel will be way ahead in televoting and i don’t think that there will be a song or a group of songs that could be way ahead in jury votes. I see a 2011 like scoreboard with points going everywhere.

        Moreover i don’t see the connection between Bojana and Netta apart from their physical appearance. They are two completely deifferent songs and i don’t get how they are connected and Serbia 2015 is the equivalent of Israel this year.

        As for the divisive or other arguments, just a reminder. Conchita wouldn’t get any points from eastern juries and televoting, Ukraine wouldn’t win with a sad depresing song and Portugal wouldn’t win with a creepy guy that was making strange grimaces on camera…

        • The Nefeilibata

          This isn’t a weak year in the slightest. And no way am I touching Israel with a bargepole until I see a stage show. YouTube views and betting odds aren’t enough for a song to win, and another song could come out of nowhere in rehearsals to wow everyone, just like the last two years.

          • oakie1979

            Of course they are not the reason for a song to win. The problem is that in the previous years you had the songs that could beat the favorite. Do you have any suggestions for this year?

            It is a weak year. Compare it to 2015,2014 or 2016 and you will see how many low level cheap songs there are in 2018. Eurovicious is right that you can compare it only to 2010 and 2011, poor years as well.

        • eurovicious

          I agree with this comment. And I definitely thought Jamala wouldn’t do it in 2016 with 1944.

          Beauty Never Lies is a retro piece – it’s Vladimir Graic’s love-letter to Eurovision, an ode to songs like Hera Björk’s Someday, Gisela’s Tu voz se apagara and Anzej Dezan’s Mr Nobody. Bojana is a jazz singer and wasn’t particularly involved in its creation. Toy is forward-looking and much more outside the box – progressive, uncompromising, non-western, and explicitly inspired by pop from East Asia (http://esctoday.com/161305/israel-the-man-behind-nettas-toy-doron-medalie/), and Netta was much more involved with its development, arrangement and selection.

  • Showlad

    I am pro-the-song Toy not pro Netta. Gabbani was like an 70/80s holiday sing-along. Toy is cutting edge and she is amazing. My main banker on this song is Netta is an incredible charismatic, clever, unique and hugely likeable singer. Juries will go for this easily enough to enable the public vote support to make them overall winners of ESC 2018. Plus it’s the ‘best standout pop song’ by a mile and there is no truly beautiful Salvador etc song to derail it.. Czeck is the only realistic song and performer that could trouble it; so could a strong live and great staged NL. Whilst cheesy Nor (juries let down?) and Bul (public let down?) both could do really well but will not get enough overall support I feel. Bel I get the feeling will do really well but maybe not quite enough (public?) overall again.

    • Mark Dowd

      “Amazing”… “Charismatic, clever and unique” and “hugely likeable”…. But not “pro-Netta”….??

      I’d like to see the language reserved for singers you genuinely enthuse about!

      Until we see how this video translates to the arena, my own view is that this very catchy song represents poor value at its current
      7-4.

      • Showlad

        You’re totally missing the point. Your post seemed to imply ‘Netta fans’ as in those pre-disposed to liking Toy regardless. My point is yes I think she is all of the adjectives I described but this is from a genuine artist appraisal of mine – not one of a ‘fan’. I hadn’t heard of her pre – Toy. Maybe being a bit less dogmatic and dismissive of other’s posts might stand you in good stead Mark.
        Toy is a no brainer – Netta and Israel deliver something as charismatic and effective as the video it will probably win. If neither delivers then it may not.
        No need to stress Mark…just don’t place a bet on Toy. Simples 😉

        • Mark Dowd

          No dogmatism here.
          No dismissiveness either.
          And you’re right..

          No bet.

          • Mark Dowd

            Actually that’s not true…

            .a look at my betting book reveals I took a fairly modest each way bet on Israel at 10-1 the day before “Toy” was revealed… So I’m compromised!!

          • Showlad

            ‘Compromised’ can sometimes be interesting Mark 🙂 🙂 🙂 Indeed though how Netta and the show is staged live will be crucial to juries. If they let her shine she should be Top 3 if not easily Top 5. If it’s staged in a gimmick way then it could be 5th-10th. I think she and they are too savvy for that though, but, pre-live performances that’s all we have…speculation ;).

    • meridian_child

      I swear to you: go back to 2017 and browse through the postings on this site and you will find something like “Francesco Gabbani is an incredible charismatic, clever, unique and hugely likeable singer. Juries will go for this easily enough to enable the public vote support to make him overall winner of ESC 2017. Plus it’s the ‘best standout pop song’ by a mile and there is no other song that could come near him.”

      One question in general to everyone: Has anyone of you ever re-read old postings and reactions from this site? I can only recommend doing this. A lot of first judgements here (and on esctips) are way off to the actual result in May. Its fun.

      • Showlad

        For sure Meridian. I think summer sing-along Gabbani song with a dancing ape compared to cutting edge pop Netta should fare much better with juries – esp the given subject matter.

      • Meridian_child raises an excellent point. Our appraisal and support of Francesco Gabbani was rooted in 2 main things.
        1: The ‘magic’ of the music video and San Remo performance where it all just worked.
        2: A degree of sub-conscious confirmation bias for those already financially invested in it.

        At the end of the day, in Kyiv, they couldn’t re-create that magic. It’s not that it was incapable of winning to begin with, they just didn’t get it right, and none of us could have predicted that, so we have to learn from it and bear it in mind this year.

        We were also probably a bit too ready to dismiss Portugal because it was “never-qualifies, out of touch” Portugal, even though Amar Pelos Dois was definitely talked about and on the radar.

        As far as Netta and Toy goes, I’m not disputing it’s an incredibly entertaining music video and probably the most distinctive song in this line up – but given the broadly emotional nature winners tend to have, I just can’t hear that song under the winner’s confetti playing over the credits of the show – unless the strongest more emotional tracks all fail to deliver.

        I’m also thinking it’s going to be tricky to recapture that same magic from the music video live in Lisbon, an even bigger ask than recapturing the magic of a San Remo performance in comparison.

        • Ben Cook

          Whilst I agree the ESC performance wasn’t as good as Sanremo or the video, Gabbani was never going to win anyway because the message of the song was always going to be lost on casual viewers, and there wasn’t a lyrical hook for them to latch on to. Some of us said that all along, but were shouted down.

      • eurovicious

        http://sofabet.com/2017/02/13/eurovision-2017-big-5-decide/#comment-81373

        It’s worth doing from time to time.

        Personally my tendency has generally been to oppose the favourite, either because it’s something I didn’t personally like (2012, 2013, 2015) or because I just didn’t see it winning and thought it was a clear false favourite (Armenia 2014, Italy 2017, and before I was on Sofabet, France 2011). I guess the rule of thumb from that is if the pre-rehearsal favourite is something mainstream and Scandinavian that I don’t like, it’ll win. Hah!

        The only wobble I had on Italy last year was when the performance in the semifinal was really good and I thought for the first time that it could possibly do it. By the time of the final I knew Italy’s game was up. It ticked too many fan-bubble boxes, you could tell he’d gotten bored of the song, and the rainbow stripes were an ill-advised act of desperate pandering. Several others folks in the ESC pundit/punter community opposed Italy right from the start last year too, especially after the terrible 3-minute edit.

        Another tendency of mine has been to fall hard for something that ends up finishing about 15th or worse (Justs, Children Of The Universe, Georgia 2013, Iceland/Denmark/Norway 2012). In those cases the songs themselves have generally been fine, it’s more an issue of staging/emotional connection/authenticity/memorability/zeitgeist. As I’m so fond of saying in relation to Jamie-Lee, you can have one of the best songs in the contest and still come last if those factors aren’t handled correctly. People are, in many ways, not judging the music.

        • John

          Ouch – youve listed all my same screw ups too. (Except Soluna Somay, that was a glaring red herring). Mollie and Ruth stopped me spotting Conchita a few years ago. Still not over that one.

          Who are you particularly fond of this year? If its Netherlands, Norway or Oz I might have to panic.

          • eurovicious

            My top 10 (personal preference, not how well I think they’ll do) are Israel, Moldova, Finland, Albania, Greece, Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary and Malta.

          • John

            Moldova’s great, isnt it? Cant wait for the live shenanigans.

            The others I only love Bulgaria and havent touched that one.

            Denmark’s a strange one for me. I find it plodding and one-level, but others think its a Thronesy type epic. Denmark have been burned for phoning it in during past shows and it feels like that this year. But then who better for bearded hero-pop than a Nordic country? Its one to see on the night probably. With a good draw it could lift a semi final or look ropey next to a cracker.

  • I have both France and Greece as the dark horses in this race as they are both political songs and as such have an advantage over their rivals in a somewhat similar way to Conchita Wurst and Jamala …immigration is a hot button issue in Europe today and a song like ”merci” is sure to strike a chord and chime with the zeitgeist IMO…it’s already passed the acid test of public opinion in France when it convincingly won the Tele vote , but furthermore as a mid tempo electro pop song , it’s good musically and the singers just so very French ..it just seems to me that it could win the contest outright

    Greece is another political song that’s a patriotic ode to the Classical Greeks from their contemporaries ; it’s epic, atmospheric, dark, eerie and transcendent , and it’s sung by an experienced Greek beauty …there’s a lot of Sympathy for Greece during these dire economic times ; I can see it winning outright

    • Walrus

      You do know that France is not the only song that has an immigration theme this year, while the other song is also directly in the final?

      • Dan

        Italy is about terrorism, not immigration. Guess which one will be more divisive than the other.

        • Yes France is indeed more divisive, but it’s the better song, musically, …furthermore, the folks who hate the song don’t vote ;it’s the ones who are seduced and inspired by it that will …there were more than enough of them in France to win the contest and I suspect there’ll we millions more in EU countries ; the East, not so much , but who ever claimed that Eurovision voters were a fair cross section of society …they aren’t ..Conchita Wurst and her ”Gayrights” agenda still won , even though it was against the zeitgeist in the East ….France can win this contest IMO

          • eurovicious

            If I didn’t have any inkling what either song was about before explicitly being told, neither will Europe – unless the staging is effective in communicating the message. If that isn’t the case I expect both songs to do badly. If it is the case, I still expect them to do badly, just slightly less badly. Italy is too esoteric and France doesn’t succeed in communicating any emotion to those who don’t understand the words. I can see you’re coming at this from a specific angle (https://twitter.com/alaska789/status/971648280798121984) but I think people in Europe, including in western Europe, aren’t as pro-immigration/pro-refugee as you might perceive, and moreover the song just isn’t memorable enough and doesn’t communicate its message well enough to inspire anything approaching virtue-signalling fervour among liberal European audiences…

            There isn’t as clear a division between western and eastern Europe on issues like gay rights as you might think – the eastern European juries marked Conchita down, for sure, but she still did really well in the televote right across eastern Europe. (http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/readingpolitics/2014/05/11/eurovision-a-continent-divided-in-its-sexual-attitudes/)

          • Ben Cook

            @eurovicious

            If the televoting numbers are as low in some Eastern countries as they are in some of the NFs that publish the figures, it’s quite possible that most of the televotes for Conchita in those countries were by gay ESC fans anyway. It’s difficult to tell how representative the televotes are of the opinions of people watching when so few people vote. After all, even the UK televote is regularly hijacked by Greeks and Lithuanians. And why would a “music professional” be more prejudiced than your average TV viewer? Unless they were above a certain age I suppose.

          • eurovicious

            I think juries feel they have to uphold standards and national tastes in a certain way. Hence Conchita being marked down across eastern Europe and Donatan-Cleo being marked down in western Europe, despite both songs being popular with audiences continent-wide.

            Germany was also the only western European country whose jury heavily penalised Conchita. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Germany was the only voting country where Conchita was already known as a public figure, mostly from trashy reality shows. ie. going into the contest, Conchita had certain associations in Germany that she didn’t have in other European countries. The public didn’t care, but for the jury (moving in the same media circle and viewing Conchita as a tabloid figure) it was a factor.

          • Dan

            The Russians gave 8 points to Conchita in 2014, the Lithuanians 6 points, etc. And I don’t think these countries are known from being very pro-LGBT.
            And France isn’t a pro-immigration country as some might think. And yet, a song about refugees won the televote by a landslide.

            My point is that people could vote for Mercy just because of its highly sensitive topic, the same way they voted for Conchita because she was a drag queen.
            Not saying that this could win but could do better than expected.

  • Yes I know , but the songs poor musically and it’s more a defiant anti terrorist theme than ”immigration”….Merci appeals to a mawkish sentimentality that’s already passed the test in France …France, a country that has millions of moslems and suffered more terrorist attacks than any other EU country !
    Merci is really open borders propaganda masquerading as humanitarianism , but that’s why I think it will win ; because the EU has subconsciously decided to commit suicide by migrant invasion ….its the spirit of the times, unfortunately

  • I have no idea why ”TOY” has so many views on Youtube ; I just don’t get it ….I don’t see why any sensible person would want that to win Eurovision …I guess that’s the reason why they have 50% jury to try and limit and restrain the bad taste in music ”Idiot Vote”…I just wish we had something similar in the Parliamentary system

    • eurovicious

      If you don’t get it, that’s OK – I don’t get “I Feed You My Love”, for instance. I don’t really get Euphoria. Not all of us are going to get everything. At the end of the day it all just comes down to different personal taste, it’s nothing to do with an “idiot vote” or “sensible” people wanting a certain entry to win… All the people who love Toy are getting something out of it that you’re not, which is fine and is going to happen some of the time – all the people who love Euphoria or Fairytale are getting something out of it that I’m not. As punters/analysts it’s up to us to try and understand what that is, rather than writing an entry’s supporters off as idiots; if you’re betting, it’ll only harm your bottom line in the long run.

  • Pillowed

    I don’t normally comment here, but I feel compelled to weigh in with a female perspective on “Toy”. I come from a #metoo country, I think Netta is cute and in theory a song like “Toy” would be just my thing.

    But no. It’s the line “you stupid boy”. It sounds too aggressive. It’s fighting fire with fire and doesn’t represent the sort of gender equality that we should be striving for.

    But so many of my friends in the Eurovision community love it. And most of them are gay males. Could it be that the song speaks to to gay men in a different way that it speaks to women? Does the line “you stupid boy” take on a playful, flirty tone?

    What it comes down to – I would dance to “Toy” but I wouldn’t vote for it because there are other songs that I like better and make me feel better.

    • eurovicious

      This is a really interesting comment.

      I do think it’s an entry that touches a particular gay nerve, not primarily because of the message (though I’ll come to that in a sec) but because of the song and performer – it’s kitsch, experimental, fierce, echoes drag culture, etc. Gays love a fat bird with a banger (Hera Björk, Bojana Stamenov), or even just with a ballad (one recalls the gay male fan worship of Vania Fernandes, Chiara, Michelle McManus etc.) – they project their own experiences of outsiderness, survivorship and being invisible to the straight male gaze onto iconic fat women with big voices and personalities, and experience catharsis when they slay on stage.

      Secondly, yes, the message. I think gay men implicitly understand that the “you stupid boy” line very obviously isn’t directed at men as a whole but is presented as a narration of personal experience. It’s relatable. Every gay man can tell tales of being treated shittily by other gay men – as an object, not a person; as a body, not a mind. Slavoj Žižek has talked about how as society has become more permissive, we have more casual sex than ever before, but the sex we have is increasingly masturbatory in nature; we don’t care about the other person, we’re just using them to get ourselves off; they may as well be a doll (“Ani lo buba”). I mean, look at straight male friendships, bonding rituals, brotherhoods etc., and tell me straight men don’t love each other more than gay men – because they see each other as people first, not flesh.

      There’s also the fact that the song was obviously written by a gay guy and was created to be as hooky as possible. There’s no real mystery about why so many gay men love Eurovision and in many cases have done since early childhood, before they even had the slightest inkling they were gay – it’s because the type of music in Eurovision is one that particularly appeals to gay men (melodic, sincere, female-centered, non-rock/rap) and that isn’t/wasn’t present on other mainstream music platforms.

      http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness

      • Rob4

        as a straight male, and someone who supports the #metoo movement, i did still find the ‘stupid boy’ lyric to be grating. maybe there is a natural aversion to aggressive gender criticism embedded in my psyche, even if my rationality is in favour of the overall sentiment. and would this play out similarly across most of the straight male population?

        and then again I’m probably just overthinking it…

        • zelenovi

          Just my two cents on whether all this will influence the vote or not —

          I usually consider lyrics and ‘messages’ mostly irrelevant. I have almost never seen the 15+ casual viewers I watch with every year, react to lyrics in any way (possibly Jamala was an exception – that killing line was right at the start and the music wasn’t too loud yet).

          Bear in mind – the casual viewer (the vast majority of the audience) is watching a parade of 26 unknown songs over four hours, is probably drinking and/or chatting to others in the room during the show… I really don’t think most of them ever pick up more than “woman in love”, “peace song”, “catchy dance track”.

          In Toy’s case, it’s probably going to be “Big personality who gives no f***s. Catchy, too”. Even if some of them catch the “you stupid boy” line – unless you had #metoo at the front of your mind (and not all the continent will), an equally likely assumption is that she’s just pissed off at some guy, an message that never hindered, say, Taylor Swift or Adele.

  • RonH

    I watched Netta’s video almost 6 milion times now, but still haven’t found the stupid boy who wants her as his toy.

  • Phil

    Israel is the biggest example of fanwank I’ve ever seen.

  • Commenting on Cliff’s comments about France and Greece being sleepers – I agree, although it seems France is no longer a sleeper as its odds have tumbled. I’m not sure Mercy’s “cause” will be a great help this year as Toy has one too and will get all the hype. (TPTB like to dispense causes for us over the media to take up our time and amuse us).

    Greece has two levels – love song and rousing patriotic song. It’s a while since their diaspora was awakened.

    Many at relatively low odds such as Australia, Bulgaria and Sweden have had undeserved hype so far and there are stronger songs lower down the table.

  • Does anyone know where I can get voting figures for the % of folks who vote in the Tele vote in relation to the number of viewers ; I imagine its around 10% or so ? What is the average age of the voters ? which countries have the strongest diastporas ? I’m new to the Eurovision scene as I’m usually a political bettor and recognise how important voting statistics can be …I’ll concede that I know very little about music except having an ear for a catchy beat , but I do have a good political mind , but only stumbled onto ESC by listening to the political songs of both France and Greece that clearly strike a chord with the zeitgeist and chimed loud in my mind; indeed, I was hearing more deranged bell ringing than Quasimodo in the belfry of Notre-dame….as such I’ve bet on both of them simply on a political intuitive hunch …we’ll see !

  • I’ve noticed that many folks can be tone deaf to the chime of politics , like a high pitched dog whistle that they just don’t hear , whereas other folk instantly get it !
    Who’d have predicted that a mawkish, sentimental pro migrant song like ”Mercy” could have won the tele-vote in a country like France that has huge problems with muslim migrants ; a conservative country that could have the Front National led by Marine Le Pen as the next government ; a country that’s suffered more recent Jihadist attacks then any other and has a major city(Marseilles ) with 40% muslims …and yet it did !
    The song offers a self congratulatory pat on the back for being ”good” and is a fine example of virtue signalling that’s so typical in European politics ..if you watch the video and allow your emotions to overrule your rational mind then it’s easy to see its maudlin ,syrupy appeal ; but that’s part of the spirit of the times here in western Europe …it’s the ”dearth of the grownup ”and the lack of the self discipline that previous generations practised …and so, finally, I see this song as merely something indicative of a wider historical trend; namely the decadence and decline of the West !
    For those of you familiar with the most prophet and prescient novel written in the last 100 years or so ;namely, H. G Wells ”The Time Machine” , then it’s clearly the Eloi and the Morlocks ! The Eloi who plead for mercy for the Morlocks , but who eventually have to plead for mercy FROM the Morlocks !

    • “The Camp of the Saints” is another for you. Today’s spirit has been described by philosophers as the feminisation and deracination that occurs at all historical declines.

      Anyway we don’t want to waste time talking politics. That the ESC audience is “progressive” is the relevant point but we can agree on that fact whether we like it, don’t like it, or don’t care.

      • eurovicious

        I don’t think the Eurovision audience is “progressive”, I think it’s just ordinary people all over Europe. It’s also perceived very differently in different countries. (There’s also no single definition of “progressive”. I always get wary when people start talking about “the Right” or “the Left” as if it’s some unknowable monolithic other.)

        Remember also that TV entertainment in in a lot of central and eastern European countries is way more camp and kitsch than in western Europe, it just isn’t perceived as such. If anything the audiences it pulls in are older and right-leaning. If you’ve sat through an entertainment gala on German, Russian or Serbian TV, Eurovision is conservative and boring by comparison.

        I know Brexity types in the UK don’t like and don’t want the contest for obvious europhobic reasons, but many ordinary right-leaning people in other European countries enjoy Eurovision as an opportunity to see their country perform on an international stage and showcase its culture and talent. Participation in Eurovision is a source of national pride.

        • Chris Bellis

          Yes EV. Very true. In addition, we had Terry Wogan laughing at all the foreigners for years. EG taking the mickey out of Serbia when we were submitting the most awful rubbish, and saying all these continentals were voting politically. No points for Jemini was apparently a political statement. Everywhere else in Europe and the Eurovision world sees the contest as a music competition.

  • James

    When it was first selected I dismissed France’s chances (I personally love it but I speak French and I assumed it was too lyrically driven to resonate with a wider European audience). Then they performed at the Ukrainian NF and got a standing ovation and rapturous applause, far moreso than Mikolas had got the previous week. It’s consistently top 3 in every fan poll I’ve seen too. It seems to have a much wider appeal than I’d assumed and you can be sure every national commentator will pick up on the backstory. I wouldn’t completely rule them out for top 5 if they strike the right chord on the night.

  • markovs

    If Portugal get their staging right and a 2nd Half draw, it has the feel of a real contender in the way Salvador did last year. It is a truly beautiful song and she sings it perfectly. However, the Cancao staging sucked and the songwriter needs to go or be less involved.A steal at 90-1on Betfair. I think this could plummet before the contest.

    • FYI, Portugal has drawn 8th slot in the final.

    • Chris Bellis

      Markovs. I like it too, but the staging is awful isn’t it? And the co-singer is rubbish compared with Cláudia. Portugal had the right idea for that type of song last year – dispense with the staging gimmicks altogether. France ruined their entry with staging last year. A moral here somewhere.

    • Melisandre

      Portugal could stand out as the only female ballad. I think only 1 woman at most gets out of SF2 (Australia). As much as I like Belgium, I doubt it gets out of the semi. Greece might be be Claudia’s only competition for that vote.

  • markovs

    Well that’s not ideal!! Oh Well, back to the drawing board. Netherlands anyone??

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I think it’s time we mention our nationalities a bit more often during posts. Just for the sake of objectivity……and to make the distinction a bit better between objective advice and slightly more nationalist sentimental driven responses. PS: I am Dutch by the way . Although I think most of us here are Brits……dear fellow neighbours from across the channel hehe.

    • Chris Bellis

      SFW – I like to put in the odd reference to my Englishness from time to time, but as I have Scottish Welsh and Irish heritage, it’s not really a big thing for me. Plus I’ve lived in Spain, Netherlands and France, and make regular visits to Portugal, Italy, Austria, Germany and Central and Eastern Europe. I can honestly say I’ve never let being a Brit stop me from slagging off the crap we have submitted over the years. I do have a slight weakness for ethnic Balkan and French pop, which I have to be careful about when betting. EG I’ve paid money to see Goran Bregovic, but I would be extremely wary of betting on any of his songs to win Eurovision.

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