Eurovision 2018: Summary of the market leaders

With the semi-final draw published next week, and the London Eurovision Party on that Thursday, now seems a good time to take stock and assess the top of the outright market. I consider there to be some red herrings among them, though an open mind has to be kept at the pre-rehearsal stage.

I think Israel is a deserving if rather short-priced favourite, though may well trade shorter with a month of OGAE and Eurojury barometers ahead that will probably favour Netta. She has the potential to be this year’s Conchita or Salvador, the iconic figure that everyone remembers. Staging will be incredibly important though: in showing her to be likeable rather than too aggressive; and in making the song seem credible rather than novelty, especially with the national juries in mind.

I really like the chances of the Czech song too, though as another upbeat number, staging decisions have many potential wrong directions. My mole at the Latvia pre-party, where Mikolas Josef performed last weekend, was impressed with his vocals. You could also argue this is something that could perform strongly across the board: with televoters and jurors; across eastern and western Europe. That can’t be guaranteed for all the market leaders.

I have real issues with Estonia’s position as second favourite, despite an obvious USP. There’s just not much of a song behind Elina Nechayeva’s excellent vocals. The instrumentation is sparse and plinky-plonky, and the composition is rather basic – I’ll offer the transition from chorus to verse as one example. Perhaps my fear of a generic opera tune winning Eurovision is part of my antipathy towards it?

I’m a little surprised by Belgium’s prominence in the market too. The song feels unremarkable next to the country’s recent fourth-placers ‘Rhythm Inside’ and ‘City Lights’. It’s competent but without any wow factor, and I have the same view of Sennek. It fails the one-minute test because the chorus kicks in afterwards, and it seems too austere to do much east of Vienna. Still, staging is in the hands of Dutchman Hans ‘Calm After The Storm’ Pannecoucke.

I’m wary of potential staging effects being touted as a game-changer: genuine examples are incredibly rare; and even innovative stuff like ‘Lovewave’ can only take an esoteric song so far. I feel that way about Bulgaria who rely on Sacha Jean-Baptiste to work her magic on Equinox. The song itself feels too dark to connect, isn’t in the same league as ‘Beautiful Mess’, and has to overcome a rather contrived group of people on stage.

Countries like Australia and Sweden offer something much more straightforward, and in the latter case we have to assume the same effective stage show as in Melodifestivalen. (2009 was the last time a Swedish effort fell significantly below MF standards.) I really like both entries, and have no problem with either performer. I’ve seen enough YouTube videos of Jessica Mauboy to overcome that very indifferent interval performance in 2014. My worry for both songs is their lack of appeal to the eastern televoter – it’s what did for Dami Im in 2016, and hit Frans in the same year, though both still managed a top five finish.

France have been gaining momentum in the market, and that will likely continue with probable good OGAE and Eurojury results to come. I think the song has the potential to create a moment if it manages to get the message across on stage, though that’s a very big if, as we’ve already discussed. French pop has some currency in eastern Europe, but the same cannot be said of Waylon’s Nashville effort for The Netherlands, which is why I think that one is too niche to be a true contender.

I’m wary of underestimating previous winner Alexander Rybak on his return for Norway. This will have televote support in all parts of the continent, and will do very well as a result. Maybe it’s just too divisive and cheesy to rank well with all jurors. I’ve been rather dismissive of Amaia and Alfred for Spain, though I recognise that love’s young dream has something universal about it. However, jurors are entitled to rank this poorly, especially the ultra-cloying final version, including a brief instrumental break at the end of the bridge.

I’m at a bit of a loss to explain Greece’s outright price too. I don’t discount it doing well as the most effectively serious ethnic thing in the field. But any ‘1944’ comparisons seem far off about something that doesn’t musically go on any journey. There’s quite the gap to the rest of the field in the Betfair market, and it’s hard to find any potential break-outs among them before rehearsals, though I expect Moldova to elevate their song once more.

Let us know how you feel about these subjective opinions, and keep your discussions going below. I’ll be at both the London and Amsterdam parties in the coming weeks.

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150 comments to Eurovision 2018: Summary of the market leaders

  • Good article here. Another thing to note about Mikolas Josef is for the first time the Czech Republic are sending an act which is more of an overall package. His vocal is good, as has been pointed out, but also consider the appearances he’s made so far. Mikolas is a performer – this was first properly seen as a guest at the Ukrainian NF where he seemed completely at ease with the crowd and had a lot of personality; as one performer on a stage with no staging plans from the Czech Republic known at this point. Furthermore, this year has witnessed a far bigger effort from Česká televize and the Czech delegation to market their artist on social media and overseas performances, which is to their credit – it’s a country still not really understanding Eurovision and with very little awareness of the contest amongst the public.

    That being said, at this point I still find the position of it right at the top to be slightly far-fetched. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good small-stakes bet in the win market if the price is right, but the Czechs have never really brought any geographical vote-pull or strong televotes just yet. Anything in the top ten represents an excellent result and hopefully kicks-on the country to keep plugging away with intelligent entries at the contest.

  • Great read once again Daniel :-). This would be my view -so far- of the current TOP 10 favourites at the bookmakers:

    01. ISRAEL: I have to concurr that this could do very well and even win Eurovision. I think it’s not a divisive song at all. It’s cheeky yes, perhaps a bit ‘weird’ with those chicken noises, but that bit of ‘weirdness’ could be the USP for victory this time. Netta is also a very self-assured stage performer. Israel has a history with up-tempo songs doing well. And they always manage to make some kind of cosy and coherent picture out of it, similar to Israel 2015, but even reminiscent (in a positive way) to much older entries like Israel 1983.
    ==> 1ST-3RD

    02. ESTONIA: Winning? I don’t think so. Current staging prospects aren’t as innovative as -let’s say- Netherlands 2014, Sweden 2015 or Ukraine’s Jamala. Vocally this is absolutely stunning though, and at times it overpowers the actual song. Which actually could help. Think Albania’s “Suus” from 2012 or Latvia 2015. Both juries and televoters alike love it. Perhaps juries more. But indeed the song is a bit too ‘arty’ and has a bit too much appeal among grown-ups. Even Jamala’s “1944” had to get 2nd two times to actually win with a ‘moderate’ score.
    ==> 4TH -7TH

    03. CZECH REPUBLIC: I completely agree here with Daniel. Although the song on first listen isn’t the best, this really comes alive on stage with the highly charismatic Mikolas (as charismatic and ‘fun’ as Netta?). I’m not sure if his performance at the Ukrainian was “LIVE”, but he feels utterly comfortable on stage. And even without truly rehearsing any choreography, his “toe-tapping” and putting his glasses straight are really great. By now we also know he is a great singer.
    ==> 1ST – 3RD

    04. BELGIUM: One of my personal favourites this year. Say, shake Portishead, Hooverphonic and one of the more loungy Bond titles composed by John Barry together, and you get this. But I think this appeals to a slightly older audience as opposed to “City Lights” and “Rhytmn Inside”. Also, Hans Pannecoucke isn’t a ‘holy grail’. He also had to deal with entries like Netherlands 2015 and Spain 2017. Although I think he would feel more at ease with a song like “A Matter Of Time”. Sennek is a great singer too.
    ==> 7TH – 12TH

    05. AUSTRALIA: Just a plain, simple, Eurovision anthem with a start, a rousing bridge and a finish. If well executed a la Russia 2015 this has the potential to fight for the Eurovision crown. I’m not sure if this would be less appreciated by Eastern-European televoters. Bulgaria 2016 (quite pro-Russia) didn’t do better in the televote than Australia 2016. And it was a close call anyway. Just 20 points more and the Ozzies would have won it, despite a slightly lower jury score. Staging-wise they know how to make the British Commonwealth bro’s jealous.
    ==> 1ST – 3RD

    06. SWEDEN: Great song. Yes, it’s ‘over-produced’, but there’s a reason Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson and Bieber have millions of fans. People ‘eat’ this stuff, both televoters and juries alike. My worry with this year’s Swedish staging are the TL-lights-visuals. Benjamin Ingrosso basically gets lost in it and it becomes harder to connect with this otherwise charming performer. It’s just too much ‘light’ and pretty much epilepsy-inducing. I think from the Czech.Republic-Norway-Sweden triangle, this one is the weakest (for now).
    ==> 5TH – 9TH

    07. BULGARIA: Another great entry from the Bulgarians. But I think they slightly ‘over-tried’ it this time as compared to their entries from 2016 and 2017. It’s modern, but perhaps a bit too moody and dark to charm televoters and judges alike. Sacha-Jean Baptiste surely will create a coherent ‘on-stage videoclip’ out of this one, but to me it lacks a ‘positive vibe’ or ’emotional vibe’ that’s always present in a true winning song. It could do a score like Netherlands 2013, “Birds”. But even recent scores from Azerbaijan (2017), Armenia (2017 and 2015) could be in the mix.
    ==> 6TH – 11TH

    08. NORWAY: Ufff, difficult one. I think juries will love the ‘act’ from this one. It’s like a slightly more ‘feel-good’ version of “Heroes”. Alexander Rybak is utterly telegenic, just like Netta, Waylon, Mikolas and Benjamin (lots of boys once again). So I think jury-wise this could do much better than many expect. Televoting-wise I’m a bit more careful. Remember Denmark 2014, Israel 2015 and Belgium 2016? On the other hand Rybak’s fame could just propell this into the televoting-TOP-5…but only ‘just’.
    ==> 2ND – 5TH

    09. THE NETHERLANDS: Another difficult one. For many fans around us this sounds like another country/Nashville song. But I think to less-critical televoter-ears this sounds much closer to rock. Think Jon BonJovi, with a vocal dash of Axl Rose and a melodical dash of Ray LaMontagne. One has to think as well how this will look on stage. And I think that this rock-entry by definition needs to be seen on stage. Add to that the more concert-minded stage director Hans Pannecoucke, an artist that prefers to entertain on stage, and televoters and judges alike, PLUS the actual audience, will witness something special, something that stands out. I think it has broader appeal than many betters think at this stage. Will it win? Probably not, but it is by far one of the better ‘rock’-minded entries with Europe-wide appeal in recent years (Turkey 2010, Greece 2013, with some extra stage presence and charm).
    ==> 3RD – 7TH

    10. FRANCE: I’m not sure what to think of this. I think it helps that so far in certain polls it’s universally liked. Still, it’s a pretty quiet and low-key affair as opposed to the more catchy, balsy entries from 2016 and 2017. Doesn’t mean it can’t do well. But with such a quiet song, one has to charm televoters and judges alike. Not sure if it will connect all that well. Same with the emotional story behind it. Add to that other ‘quiet’ entries from this year’s field, like Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain and I’m starting to doubt if this stands out plentiful.
    ==> 8TH – 13TH

    SOME SPECIAL MENTIONS:

    ===> AUSTRIA: Very curious how this will turn out. It’s a song with a great R&B, gospel-like build-up
    (8TH – 12TH)

    ===> LITHUANIA: Better staged than expected, more memorable to me than Portugal. Has a slight “CATS”-vibe
    (6TH – 10TH, IF it qualifies)

    ===> GREECE: After Estonia the best entry with an ethnic/folk vibe. Fokas Evangelinos
    (7TH – 12TH)

    ===> GERMANY: Wasn’t impressed by Michael’s stage presence, but the song is excellent. Could be best German result since 2012. Stillll…..
    (9TH – 15TH)

    ===> SPAIN: Nice enough. But come on we had better duets recently. Think The Common Linnets, Estonia 2015 and Norway 2015.
    (10TH – 18TH)

    ===> ALBANIA: Vocally at least superb. And this anthemic rock ballad does emote to me.
    (6TH – 11TH, IF it qualifies)

    ===> BELARUS: Pretty surprised by the final version. Could it surprise? Charismatic performer.
    (11TH – 18TH)

    ===> AZERBAIJAN: Pretty addictive song, albeit a bit ‘Sweden 2006’. Will be staged nicely though.
    (8TH – 13TH)

  • Hippo

    I don’t really understand the appeal of the Czech song. It doesn’t feel like a stand out entry. It’s a perfectly serviceable song and will pick up points from all over, but more 5s and 6s rather than 10s or 12s.

    Israel: I don’t think Neta can be compared to Salvador or Conchita as a likeable character to vote for. This seems to divisive on the jury side even *if* the televote falls for her like the fandom and I agree unless you’re trading on this following the Ogae results the odds are too short.

    Estonia is what it is. It’s got a solid usp but we’ve yet to see Opera score exceptionally well on the jury. Maybe too short in the odds again.

    Australia is heavily overrated and I struggle to see this near the televote top 5. Even with jury favouritism this is not winning.

    France and Belgium both feel too anonymous in a large field. I see them both put of the top ten before I see them winning.

    Bulgaria have disappeared up their arse with the whole concept but if they can pull out an effective staging whilst they’re in there they could have a shot. It’s hard to say what a good staging would be exactly but this is arty, edgy and modern and will play well with juries.

    Sweden will be let down on the televote too. I keep repeating myself but expect a similar result to last year. Nice each way bet, but not an outright winner.

    Norway will be up there in the televote but could be too far behind by that point. They’re the reverse of Sweden and a head to head would be close.

    The Netherlands is good value now. It’s unique and memorable whilst accessible enough and can do well on both sides of the equation.

    I don’t think Greece compares to 1944 much either but it is following on from the return to ethnic and foreign language winners whilst also being a return to the balkan ballad entries that have been on the decline for the last few years. Diaspora and bloc voting are often overrated but this is a tight year and Greece wins on both counts compared to the other runners. It also seems that a lot more people like this than think it can win which could also be said for the last two years. I think the odds are generous compared to the field.

    • Walrus

      This contest needs a winner, though. From where you’re standing, nobody is going to win.

      • Hippo

        I was just pointing out why I feel some entries are under and overpriced.
        For the record, I have the potential winners
        atm as:
        Estonia
        Netherlands
        Greece
        Bulgaria
        Israel

        The rest feel capped to me.

  • Milton

    Hi Daniel, thanks for this article, an interesting read as always. Are you aware that Australia have dropped out of the Australian itunes top 100 after one week? Belgium on the other hand had a good run in their own chart as well as featuring in the charts of Israel, Greece, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and perhaps others. That struck me as very impressive and I don’t think anyone other than Israel have come close to that. I’m surprised you seem to rate Australia’s chances higher than Belgium’s. Is there any reason why you think its safe to disregard itunes as a possible indicator?

    • My first thought on your valid points is: how many sales does it take to stay in the Belgium iTunes chart compared to Australia. I do understand the critique of Australia as too beige – but I think there’s a possibility that it works better in the context of the contest as a Saturday night anthem. Jessica Mauboy is a bona fide star in a competitive domestic market capable of selling her song; Sennek is a competent enough singer and songwriter but every performance I’ve seen of her has her gurning in a most off-putting Lucie Jone-style way as she sings.

      • I can give some reason to the above chart result for Australia. Whilst its online and been released for Eurovision, the physical release and the promotion by Sony is actually scheduled to start the week of Eurovision here. So its not getting the airplay push. Also, Jess will be in Europe most of April and thus isn’t here in Australia to really promote it as she usually would across the morning shows, etc.

      • Milton

        Yes, I’m sure we’re talking very small numbers at this stage, but I was still impressed that Sennek managed to make a dent in such a spread of charts. It bodes very well for post semis when itune sales really kick in and become a good indicator.

        Ah yes, poor Lucie, and me for having backed her. In the rehearsals she looked brilliant, whereas in the live final she threw everything at it, and sadly overdid it. Probably when she’s on the West End Stage she isn’t used to the close up scrutiny of a camera. Since you posted this Dan, I’ve had a good look around for examples of Senneck gurning, but found nothing on that level. The closest I could find was ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ – is this what you were referring to? If so, yes she does pull a few faces in places, but the vocal demands for that performances massively exceed those of ‘Just a Matter of Time’, so I can’t imagine it being a problem at ESC.

        • I had a quick look when Dan mentioned it and did notice some unattractive gurning. Don’t know if its a game changer but added to the jarring chorus which people will just think is a direct copy of 007 I can’t see it winning.

          I do prefer it to Australia. I wonder if the juries will over mark Aus again. That’s got to stop some year. Jessica should get more than the miserable 2 public points got last year but not a contender for me.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Sennek has a very expressive face, and everything she’s feeling shows on it, like how it does with an intense violin player.

          Could be said her wide mouth looks like it’s overpronounces lyrics? That and her tendency to close her eyes further emphasises her very mobile lower half of her face. Her mouth looks like it could accommodate an entire Waitrose stonebaked baguette with fulsome toppings. I think that’s what’s distracting some people.

          Bon Appétit…

          http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2yc35q

          Don’t know whether this video below is a good or bad example as it sounds like she’s damaging her voice, but there’s a lot going on here.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Looking at the the top ten in this years outright winner market, I have a lot of worries about quite a few of the runners. Czech Rep have a decent song with “Lie To Me” performed by Mikolas Josef however I find him a little smug and maybe slightly arrogant and I think he gets cancel out somewhat by Sweden “Dance You Off” sung by Benjamin Ingrosso, who I think has an advantage over Mikolas because his staging which is rather impressive and Mikolas would have to bring along his camel to Lisbon if he wants to top anything Benjamin has to offer.
    Alexander Rybak May well of beaten Lena and won in 2010 if he had returned with “That’s How You Write A Song” but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and I can’t see him doing a Johnny Logan and winning the competition twice. Not with that dated rubbish anyway.
    Elina Nechayeva “La Forza” has somewhat a winner vibe for me but I have question marks about the way it’s been staged, I just don’t like the projection and lighting effects on her dress, I think it should be staged much more simply she’s very beautiful and vocally exquisite and I think Estonia will hold strong in the betting and exchange markets and I think she’s worth keeping green.
    Australia have their strongest entry ever this year with “We Go Love” Jessica Mauboy is delightful, and from the her video with her light cube and pink and purple lighting she gives me the same sort of vibe of that from “The1975” I hope she copies this to the stage in Lisbon, my worry is Australia’s passed televote and can she win it for Australia?
    That’s leaves me with Israel, the betting favourite this year in the market, I can’t honestly see anything leapfrogging this at any stage from now until the final. I like Netta a lot and I find her exact opposite of what some of you guys on sofabet think of her. To me she very feminine and girlie the aggression she shows in the video I perceive that to be sheer confidence of her talent, she kinda reminds me of Hattie Jacques from the carry on films when I was a boy, where you had this slightly larger lady who was very flirty caring and sexy. She has winner written all over her, I just hope those chickens’ don’t go the same way as last years gorilla.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I share a degree of your concern about Mikolas. At first I liked him, appreciating that if you are fronting a Justin Timberlake sound-alike number, while talking-singing in a JT way, then you would need also to project the too-cool-for-school JT stage super confidence. Except, Mikolas is more smiley than a young JT ever was (who used to strike me as taking himself very seriously and whom I couldn’t stand. I found him unwatchable. “4 minutes”, that duet with Madonna, showcasing 2 of the grimmest looking performers I’ve seen.).

      I’ve watched some of his earlier videos: Free and Believe (Hey Hey). In these he’s practising his Eminem vocals while projecting a different persona.

      I find the video of his stage performance annoys the bejesus out of me. There’s Mikolas dressed as seen in the photo Daniel uses in his post above. Old fashioned glasses, bow tie, stripey jumper, and wearing a backpack. An attempt to make an ex-model look nerdy and non-threatening. Perhaps production was worried that Mikolas has a tendency to come across as a bit too pleased with himself.

      As male models tend to be very good dancers, I was expecting more dance-wise from him towards the song’s end, where there’s a good 20 seconds of free time to hit some moves. He’s a decent mover, but not in Benjamin’s class, although there’s time for Mikolas to practise. He needs to put on a show at near song end, as a) he’s aping JT’s singing style on a JT soundalike song, b) talking-singing that song isn’t exactly taxing and c) yes, if he doesn’t get close to Benjamin’s level of ability he will have somewhat been shown up.

    • Chris Bellis

      Hattie Jacques. Perhaps not the most encouraging of comparators. The alcoholic overweight woman that treated that nice Mr Le Mesurier so badly.

      • Chewy Wesker

        I was referring more to Hattie’s on screen romances with the likes of Sid James and Kenneth Williams than her real life marriage. Hattie was always seen as being dainty & glamorous and in parts of Netta’s video you can see areas where she’s not out and out aggressive, but there’s a sweetness and tenderness to her.

    • Showlad

      With you completely on Netta’s character. She’s like an Israeli Rebel Wilson. Really funny, bolshy but nice, heart of gold, ‘ beautiful on the inside’ vibe and proud in the way that makes you like and admire her. I don’t get the agressive Netta either that many alude to on here.

  • Scott Reid

    For me, Israel is 100% the Francesco Gabbani of this contest. Quirky, but with a fantastic song behind the eye-catching act. Like Francesco, it’ll depend on how it translates to the bigger stage, because it basically killed him. There are also legitimate concerns in terms of likeable v aggression, but it feels very now – if a girl power narrative strikes up, if people latch on to the crazy lyrics, it could do well.

    For me, Estonia is this year’s Salvador or 1944. That doesn’t mean it’s going to win. It means, in my eyes, that it’s either going to bomb and do dismally or win the whole thing/come second. It’s the one act – and I use the word act specifically here – that’s stopped me in my tracks when I was going through them all last night. The vocal is incredible, the presentation made it quite clear to anyone who doesn’t understand the language what’s going on or build their own story around it, and it’s even got the odd little pop hook in there at dramatic points. It has a law of diminishing returns and there isn’t much of a song in there, but it stuns the first two or three times you hear it. Most people will only hear it once. Pop-opera has done well at the contest before, albeit Grand Amore was much more populist. The one disconnect for me is that it comes from Estonia – this is the sort of thing Italy should be putting forward.

    Recent Eurovision winners have suggested that a narrative or a coming together message is required. Conchita, 1944, Salvador all had backstories. These two acts have got that as well. You can almost write the story of their success right now (girl power v opera winning at Eurovision, I don’t believe it). I wouldn’t, however, bet against Rybak given his ability to make that dog of a song something you actually welcome listening to. France could get somewhere on narrative as well, a cause song. It’s where I struggle with the likes of the Czech Republic, because I don’t see a story there. Early days though.

  • Showlad

    Not with majority of you on Oz. Nice but really generic song. Singer (sorry Daniel) with very hit and miss live vocals and a charisma that I can only describe as beige. Elements (and we all know who they are) will not vote for an ‘untypical’ (in their eyes) European – think ‘Dami’. She has none of Dami’s star quality either.
    Daniel I think Sennek is a real class act and I’m thinking staging will be arty and superb and song is more accessible than Rhythm and she’s a much stronger singer than Blanche and is a vocal coach too. Juries will love it and me thinks you may be underestimating it.
    Also imho I think you are underestimating Waylon at your peril, this guy will rock and own that stage and could poll well across Europe in both juries and public and song is indeed more country accessible rock for me than niche.

    • Chris Bellis

      Agree about Australia. Nice, but way short of Dami Im. However, I found quite a few clips of Dami Im where she was a bit ropey, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Jessica got her act together the same way Dami Im did. Plus Dami’s song was pretty generic too, at least to my ears. It was the performance that lifted it.

      • Yeah, but the case can be made that Russia 2015 also was a “typical Eurovision anthem by numbers”. Televoters and juries eat that stuff easily IF staged wonderfully. Think also about the fairly dated ballads Azerbaijan 2013, Russia 2013, Sweden 2014, again Russia 2015.

        • Chris Bellis

          SFW Yes, it’s Eurovision, so “anthems by numbers” are often very successful. If Jessica follows the path trodden by Dami, it should do well. I had doubts about Dami’s abilities judging from videos, but on the night she was perfect, and I expect the same from Jessica.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I enjoy the Australian song and I like the singer. It’s the most satisfying of the danceable songs. It makes me feel good. The singer invests it with a touch of drama, serious if cheesy feeling, before soaring into uplifting sentiments. There’s built-in moments in the song for her to show off her vocal prowess too, if she can.

      There must come a day when the juries mark the Australian effort realistically, but who knows when that will be.

  • Mikolas Josef’s live dance moves seemed a bit pathetic to me. He doesn’t seem a natural dancer and I also detected some nerves, maybe because he’s not really a vocalist. But maybe I’m seeing too much and the nerves may be hidden enough on the big night.

    Jessica’s eyes often betray a nervous performer and she admitted as much, but she may overcome it.

    I don’t think either can win but Mikolas should make T10.

    As for Netta she makes fun of herself so I don’t think she appears aggressive – it’s all fun at heart isn’t it. Also for the video she smiles at beginning and end, probably be similar on stage. Live it’s likely to be what we’ve seen so far of Netta live ie standing behind her mixer. So what do we think of that? Maybe not great. The song is fantastic though and with plenty of close ups of her expressions they may pull of a decent production.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Yeah, Mikolas does seem to have a limited set of dance moves. There is a point though in the stage performance video were he cuts loose a bit with more advanced moves. It’s near the song end, at the exact same time that the camera pulls away!

      Could be production were saving him from embarrassment, could be that production had styled him as a nerd and didn’t want to be seen as a dancing nerd.

      I think Netta will be the most confident performer to take to the stage come the big night. You couldn’t do as below without supreme self-confidence in your abilities. I do admire that she’s worked her way up from doing clubs and weddings.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      After watching the video below, I think I’m siding with you Henry, regards Mikolas.

      For a start, seeing his name peeking out across the bottom of his shirt is irritating. His performance has a going-through-the-motions feel (how many songs had he performed in that set?). His first dance efforts during the trumpeter solos were samey, slightly sloppy and definitely lacking detail. At near song end he spurns the opportunity to impress, instead jumping down from the stage to, chugger-like, pick out a middle-aged woman from the front of the audience to dance with, before showing off to her a rather average body ripple.

      He comes across as too nervy to be up himself to the extent to which he aspires? Or is he a nice kid, with superb pronunciation, finding himself as a performer?

      There’s plenty of time for him to get down a few impressive dance moves and for his confidence to improve.

      The danger would be that improving confidence quickly morphs into arrogance. He might be on the verge of being a prick?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv3TZI2EMe8

  • The Nefeilibata

    What are people’s thoughts on Lithuania? I think there’s potential it could surprise here…

    • I absolutely agree with you here. It’s a highly underestimated entry. Perhaps because the Lithuanian Final was dragging on for so long. The song has this wonderful “Calm After The Storm”-like rhytmn. On top of that I think it has been staged pretty neatly in the national final. The ‘bare feet singing while sitting’ approach really adds something warm and tender to this song. It’s my stand-out dark horse when compared with other singer-songwriter, slower, more quiet entries like Spain, Ireland, France, Portugal (rather mute 8th starting grid), Germany. Hence I have Lithuania currently as an easy TOP 10 nation. Perhaps even higher once we see it during the rehearsals. Lithuania is typically an entry that goes under the radar, even with betters, because you really have to envision the live performance here. And because the singer will probably not sit during upcoming fan parties, like Eurovision in Concert, it will be default receive muted reactions. Like Netherlands 2014 it’s a television-pleaser, not an audience-pleaser.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I think its a rare instance of a song title keeping a Eurovision contender’s odds high.

      It’s currently over 300s on bf and I suggest that the words “When We’re Old” are automatically off-putting to people. Some part of my brain rejects the song just because of that. The video backdrop on the stage performance showing lots of elderly people doesn’t draw me in either. Neither does the singer struggling to pronounce the word “old”.

      Azerbaijan is currently trading at over 160s. An influencing factor in those odds will be the theme of the video, which concentrates on a mother’s relationship with her daughter – all the while bettors on Eurovision tend to be male and will not necessarily relate to that visual story content.

      I call this potential NRVSV: Non-Relateable Video Story Value.
      This acronym might need a bit of work!

      As much as Lithuania switches me off, I still prefer it to Germany.

      I feel I should like the German package a lot more than I do. Michael’s a self-taught musician singing a song about the loss of his father.

      But he’s a guy who reminds of Ed Sheeran…who performed a duet with Ed Sheeran in the final of The Voice of Germany… singing a song that sounds like an Ed Sheeran song!

      Leading to the bizarre situation of an ordinary guy pouring his heart out on stage, while unsettlingly coming across as glib old style X Factor material.

      • Chris Bellis

        GHF – “…coming across as glib old style X Factor material.”
        Great comment, but I quarrel with this last comparison. You should leave out the “glib old style”. I watch X Factor and he would win the “modern” X Factor, because X Factor lost touch with anything modern some time ago.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Thanks, Chris.

        In the interests of balance I should add that at least I want to like Germany’s Michael. It’s not his fault he shares the same colouring, pale / pasty skinned and red haired, as a global superstar. He’s slim and dresses busker casual, likewise.

        Plus, although there are some videos were he struggles vocally (as though he’s not taking in enough air; check his Voice audition), the fact he’s singing about the death of his dad almost makes any vocal weakness a plus. Indeed, I can feel he deeply means it during quiet moments in the song, during times he can barely say the words.

        He achieves poignancy in a way that my favourites from last year, OG3NE, maybe didn’t. I loved OG3NE’s super professionalism, impeccable harmonies, and military-tight choreography, but in retrospect I see that part of their failure to connect with the televoters was their lack of obvious vulnerability. Myself, I was lost in admiration for their incredible strength against the backdrop of raw grief for the loss of their mother.

        On the positive side for Lithuania, it’s a massive price in a slew of markets. Leva has nice stage presence both physically and vocally. At stage video performance I was slightly reminded of Emmelie De Forest – sitting on the stage, floaty white / pale dress and delivering, at times, Irish accented pronunciation.

        English singers can sound American for reason that it makes the song easier to sing; perhaps for certain singers from certain European countries “going Irish” at times helps with vocal delivery.

        I feel Lithuania could do a lot more with the staging. There’s a time transportation theme in the story which should (has to) be visually illustrated. The song story is a complicated, imaginative concept and very beautiful. Maybe more than any other song in the contest, It deserves being demonstrated, being dramatised.

        I think of the Lithuanian entry as superior Dawson’s Creek. (Leva sounding American (as well as occasionally Irish) is influencing that thought).

        Some gorgeous (and gorgeously sad) lyrics and ideas.

        From your very first smile /
        I knew that I’d walk a mile

        It took my watching a lyric video to understand the ideas.

        One is embedded on the page below.

        http://www.europe.easybranches.com/lithuania/ieva-zasimauskait-when-we-re-old-lithuania-eurovision-2018-with-lyrics-296069

  • Melisandre

    OGAE Belarus

    12 Israel
    10 France
    8 Belgium
    7 Sweden
    6 Czech Republic
    5 Bulgaria
    4 Italy
    3 Estonia
    2 Norway
    1 Cyprus

  • Songfestivalwerk

    Are we really going to post all these OGAE results in here. Been looking at the OGAE results from last year, and translated them into last year’s televoting results. My first thought was: Why did I bother.

    • Mark Dowd

      Ogae results 2017 :

      France gave Portugal 1pt and nothing to Bulgaria.

      Belarus 3pts to Bulgaria and 0pts to Portugal.

    • Mark Dowd

      Ogae results 2017 :

      France gave Portugal 1pt and nothing to Bulgaria.

      Belarus 3pts to Bulgaria and 0pts to Portugal.

    • Dan

      Did you spot anything of interest in your analysis, Songfestivalwerk? Although OGAE can be wide off the mark I feel we’re way beyond the days of fan favourites failing really badly like in the 2000s. And I would’ve thought that televoting numbers had fallen since then (as they have generally in TV, because the novelty has worn off), so I suspect a higher proportion of televotes would be by ESC fans now rather than casual viewers.

  • johnkef

    Let’s play a game. You decided to go to Mexico for a week to clear your head from the Eurovision betting period and load your batteries for the final weeks. A local drug gang kidnaps you and takes you to the druglord. He checks your phone and realises that you are a Eurovision bettor and wants to give you a chance:

    You have to tell me who the winner will be and i will let you walk away. If i lose my money, i have 6 bullets for you in my gun…

    What song would you choose to save your life?

    I will go with Israel.

    • Chris Bellis

      Johnkef
      There’s a BBC series in that idea. You should pitch it to them. You could have another McMafia out of it, only with a Eurovision and Mexican drug cartel theme. Sure fire winner in the ratings.

    • meridian_child

      Does your game really work out how you want it to be?

      Last year I was very sceptical about Italy’s odds, yet in such a situation I would have picked Italy. We all get influenced so easily from outside that it is nearly impossible to stand against all these opinions. What would you have picked? What about the years 2014-2016? 2015 would have probably been the only year I would not have died 🙂

      What about another game? You get a 1000 £ free bet. You are only allowed to place it on the outright and on only one(!) country. You are not allowed to keep the 1000 £ stake if you win.
      This is rather a search for value game and its more or less the one thing we all are trying to do. Who would you pick this year?
      I can tell you I would have picked (before rehearsals) Sweden in 2012, Denmark in 2013, Sweden in 2014, Sweden in 2015, Ukraine in 2016 (odds were around 30!). Last year I would have slightly preferred Bulgarias odds around 10-11 over Portugals odds around 15-16.
      This year feels much more tricky and I have not made up my mind yet. Looking at the top 11 on the outright I would not take Australia, Norway, The Netherlands and Greece at current odds. If Israels odds were around 4, I would take Israel, but 3 feels a bit too short without having seen it live.
      Hard to decide for now.

      • johnkef

        I can tell you my picks since 2005 that i have started the ESC bets.

        2005 – Greece
        2006 – Finland
        2007 – Serbia
        2008 – Russia
        2009 – Norway
        2010 – Azerbaijan (Till that year i was betting for the winner wihout a single cover)
        2011 – France
        2012 – Sweden
        2013 – Denmark
        2014 – Armenia
        2015 – Sweden
        2016 – Australia
        2017 – Portugal

        I would get away with it 9/13 times not a bad score if you think the odds of the winner. I am not implying that the hot favorite always wins but Israel is a true phenomenon. I agree that prices are short but i do believe that they are fair. Israel has less competition than Sweden back in 2015 that had Russia and Italy at its back and still the prices were below 3.00 since week 1.

        I believe that we will have a scoreboard similar to 2013 where Denmark did not have an actual competitor and won by a landslide. I am confident that the prices will fall dramatically after the first rehearsal

        I can play your game as well but there is a different logic. You are not taking money out of your pocket so you can be as risky as you want but i would still place my money on Israel. I prefer to take 1940 pounds in return than hope to win 16500 pounds betting on Belgium. Either way it’s not my money to lose.

        The only two years that i had a loss on the winner market were back in 2010 and 2011 which made me change my way of thinking when betting on Eurovision. Even in 2014 when my main bet on the market was Armenia, i had the wisdom to bet on Austria @51.00 and Netherlands @ 101.00 each that actually brought some great returns.

        I can only see 3 countries having an actual chance to win the contest and only an x-factor and 2 looooooong shots.

        I know that this will backfire at me but i do believe that Israel could lose only if they stage it awfully, but Israel is not Czech Republic or Ireland. Belgium stands a chance with a minimalistic intimate presentation and Australia has a chance a la 2011 Azerbaijan if votesgo everywhere and the winner is decided in the 400-450 points area.

        The x-factor is Bulgaria that we do not know anything about the presentation and staging but they really want this so i don’t write them off yet.

        My long shots are Austria and Portugal. I do think that they will be in Top10 and have a chance to go higher.

        • That’s an impressive record indeed! I’d take slight issue with the description of 2013 Denmark as “a landslide”….281 votes to 234 (Azerbaijan’s “Hold Me”) was a comfortabl-ish win, but “landslides” to me are Sandra Kim 1986, Rybak 2009 and Loreen 2012 (to name the ones that come immediately to mind.) And, of course, Salvador 2017.

        • Boki

          It’s great that you picked Portugal last year johnkef, when was that, before, during or after the rehearsals?

        • meridian_child

          Kudos to you if you would have picked Salvador early April 2017 if someone had pointed a gun to your head.
          (I really loved Amar Pelos Dois from the first moment I heard it (backing it at odds of 80-90) and I thought he could win the jury vote. But him coming only 3rd in the portuguese televote in the semi of FdC made me doubt the songs televoting appeal.)
          And I think here is where your game is not working properly. Most people would have picked Italy in such a situation. Every other follower in the odds had things going against them. So most people did agree on Italy being a worthy favourite, just the price was waaay to low. If you wanted to save your life, you would pick the one with the highest chances, no matter the price.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      @ john kef

      Love your idea!

      If my life depended on picking the winner, I too would go for Israel. It seems to be in their hands. Just keep that camera trained on Netta. It’s a wonderful sign that she reminds so many people of so many different beloved performers, while standing out as her own unique person.

      Here’s a different game, based on yours.

      A different gang have kidnapped you and delivered you to a different druglord! Hopefully not the one in Sicario! (Anyone who’s not seen that epic film: do check it out.)

      This druglord has also took delivery of another couple of dozen Eurovision bettors holidaying in Mexico. Thomas Cook were offering a cut price package tour deal aimed at Eurovision bettors.

      Only one of the 25 of you can survive. The one to walk away, if there is to be someone, will be the person / bettor who has the highest winnings from theoretical bets on the upcoming ESC.

      1) Each hostage / person has a stake of 3 units.
      2) Each person can stake a max bet of 3 units; a bet of 2 units and a bet of 1 unit; or three bets of 1 unit.
      3) Each person must wager all 3 units, no matter the breakdown. Anyone who doesn’t will be given a finishing position of 0 units.
      4) If there is a tie for the highest winnings, then those people in the tie (as well as everyone else) will also lose.
      5) Everyone is held separate and there is no communication possible between the hostages.

      Place your bets, if you please!

      (Or mention your theoretical game bets here anytime after you have your real world bets down and the concern that mentioning your bets here will depress the odds on betfair is history.)

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Ha!

        Just realised that this is a game that can’t really be played on a public thread, in that condition / rule “5)” will automatically be breached.

        However, I suppose that doesn’t destroy the game, just changes it.

        A new condition is that you can’t replicate someone else’s selection set, even if the odds have subsequently changed.

        Also, note that wagers aren’t restricted to the outright win market. All markets are available.

  • markovs

    I would bargain with them against gambling on the winner, which is staging dependent for me, but would go with a safe bet of Estonia for top 4 which I think is pretty nailed on.

    I have so many concerns about all of the top 10 in the betting, but we know Estonia will hoover up votes because of the vocal performance (not necessarily the song itself) and I am confident if a top 4.

    I am still on a big lay for Israel as feels a bit Emperors New Clothes at the moment. I really need to see the rehearsals. The first 30 secs of Toy is a real off-put for me and if a Saturday night audience dismiss it quickly it could struggle. On the other hand, if done right it could win by a mile.

    Australia and Netherlands for top 10 are other great bets, Sweden top 5, Lithuania as a non qualifier, UK for last place, lay Czech Rep for top 4 (Love the song but just don’t see it coming across well live), lay Bulgaria for top 4 (ponderous, smug and a bit up itself).

    That should win you enough to not use that gun!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Any thoughts on the chances of Lithuania qualifying, and proving competition for the UK in the race for bottom?

      • Initial thoughts is that is borderline for the final….but if it did make it, I trust a combination of Lithuanian diaspora and certain sentimental pulling power of the song would keep it above the UK….the Betfair odds on UK last place are being trimmed daily!

  • I love how articles and comments at sofabet have significant influence on betfair odds.

    In previous article I remember reading this nicely written comment about why Estonia should win.
    http://sofabet.com/2018/03/19/eurovision-2018-netta-barzilais-toy-recent-selections/#comment-88459
    I read it and went to betfair to check Estonia’s odds. Odss were about @6.8 (quote shorter than the last time I checked). It stayed like that until this article which has different opinion about Estonia’s chances. Went to betfair again and, no surprize, Estonia’s odds were back to @9.

    Last year’s semi final 2 preview is another good example.

    Quote:
    “That leaves me looking for two qualifiers from Croatia, Belarus and Norway. It may be wishful thinking because I enjoy it so much, but Croatia is one of the most memorable three minutes of this semi-final, and I’m including it among my qualifiers for that reason. Norway is a better song than both, but feels like wallpaper in the context of this semi-final, and I’m suggesting it just misses out as a result.”

    After the article was published Norway’s odds to qualify drifted from @1.60 to almost @2.00.

    Conclusion is this. Gablers are relying on other opinions too much. They want to be told what to bet on. I don’t think that makes you profitable in the long run. Don’t be stupid and think with your own head.

    • Chris Bellis

      Good comment Montell. I think I said a few years ago that my bookie brother-in-law never shares his ideas, except with me at family holiday times when he’s had a drink or two. But he has half a dozen computers all streaming different kinds of events, so he’s a professional. He’s not a fan, so he doesn’t care about any of the Eurovision entries, it’s just a money making opportunity for him. (His taste in music is Oasis, so Eurovision songs aren’t his thing.) He’s betting and laying stuff all the time, minute by minute. I’m not quick enough or intelligent enough to be able to do that. That’s why, Montell, I’m grateful for your opinions because you are often right, looking back on your predictions. I think you need the debate to crystallize your own opinions. You then get a light-bulb moment when you realise, eg, that Italy’s entry last year isn’t going to do it, just as some people on here were saying. The contradictory opinions should make you re-consider, and hopefully make the right choice.

      Your observation about betting odds and comments reminds me of the Piers Morgan (then editor of the Mirror) share scandal.
      He got the City Slickers column to tip shares he had already bought, then sold them at a huge profit when the price went up.

      https://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/nov/23/business.pressandpublishing

      So sofabet is more influential than we thought!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Just on oddschecker, and there on the landing page in the Most Popular Bets section is France, with on the Eurovision outright market page a horizontal row of intermittent blue squares across from France.

      Hot on the heels of a discussion on this page about France’s entry being underestimated.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    @ Chris Bellis

    Following on from your observation that we need the debate, I’ve finally learnt to deliberately post multi-perspective comments.

    I’ts not that I’m hedging nor fudging: it allows me to be as strident as I like, as is my tendency, knowing that I will simultaneously or soon thereafter be playing devil’s advocate to my previously stated opinions and observations.

    Hopefully, any readers will successfully sort the wheat from the chaff, the sound from the noise, realise which word-costumes just do not fit as distinct from comments that hit with a ring of truth or ring of resonance.

    • Chris Bellis

      @guildohornforever
      We are obviously the types who like debate and a bit of banter, and are flexible enough to change our minds when the scene shifts. I hope nobody takes us so seriously that they risk too much money! However, I still say top 5 for Sweden and bottom 5 for UK is a good formula. Kept me in beer money for quite a while now. And I did warn about UK last year – I said Lucie was too good for that formula that to work. Despite initial worries, Sweden came good though, as it will again this year. Unless Benjamin is a secret pal of Julian Assange and ends up in the Ecuadorian Embassy due to “poor sexual etiquette”.

  • Tim B

    Here’s a video podcast I guested on for ESCKAZ.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2V1jZc8W5ds

    • John

      I agree about Australia and Norway. Theyre being underestimated imo. The aussies know what theyre doing and Rybak is as close to infallible a performer as you can get.

  • Victor

    I have no doubts that Israel will win this year. It’s the Conchita’s or the Loreen’s or the Salvador’s of this year. She is unique and different. I could go on forever to justify my opinion but the minute I heard the leak a few hours before the official release I betted heavily on it to win at 26 and 17.
    My other bets for top 4 are Norway and Australia. I am not so sure about the 4th one: maybe Sweden.

    • Burlington Bertie

      Nice work Victor on getting in there before the odds shortened at the unbelievable pace they did. I had Conchita at 50s which was my best winning bet to date, but haven’t managed anything quite so impressive since. I’m still chewing over top 10 and the bottom end for this year but haven’t bitten yet. I’m hoping for something a bit more tempting to come up, like those match bets which often come good. Once rehearsals begin the fun will really start!

  • markovs

    Estonia currently over 5 on Betfair to be the top jury song. Best bet out there, surely? (and I’m not even a big fan of it)

    Netta too staging dependent for me as is a fine line between genius and tacky. Still happy with my lay at 2.7 (At the moment)

    Also Lithuania as NQ. A very tough semi and very front loaded. Someone big is going to miss out unless 6 or more qualify from the 1st half. Lithuania or Azerbaijan?

  • eurovicious

    I’d like to counter the idea I’ve seen expressed a couple of times that the ex-USSR entries are weak this year. Sevak and Alekseev are major regional stars who are well-known in Russia, Ukraine and other Russosphere countries as well as those they’re representing. Sevak is charismatic and highly reliable; Alekseev is unreliable and his entry has been consistently mishandled ever since they decided to send it to Eurovision, but there’s still a lot of staging talent and funds behind him (though as I see it at present, qualification will be a big ask). X My Heart is a big hitter for Azerbaijan – it feels like they want to do well again (honestly) for the first time in a few years; their qualification record is unblemished and they usually do a great job of staging, especially in years when their entry is a Swedish co-production. Doredos is the type of Moldovan pop-folk that audiences usually lap up at Eurovision, as Daniel has already articulated, and that juries are less unkind to than is often anticipated. Russia is always a vote-grabber and this year they have a contestant with a strong sympathy factor and a narrative that was already established in the media throughout Europe (and especially in the Russosphere) a year ago. And while Under The Ladder is far from the best thing Ukraine has sent, they also have an unblemished qualification record (though I’m not seeing it top 10 in the final).

    I am skeptical of Lithuania and Latvia, as others are, and I likewise think Georgia will go under. Those are the only 3 post-Soviet countries I expect to be relatively weak in both the televote and jury. Lithuania is sweet but ultimately too bland to make much of an impact, I feel; it’s less compelling than Molly Sterling’s Playing With Numbers. I’m also skeptical of Estonia though – it’s televote catnip, but I think juries will disdain it as high kitsch. Even Il Volo did much less well with juries than in the televote, and they had a more sophisticated song.

    In summary: I think people are currently underestimating Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, and overestimating Estonia and to a certain extent Lithuania. I really don’t think Sevak will be another Artsvik or Aisel another Samra. And La forza is at the very most this year’s Gravity or Undo (the shit song that comes 3rd in a weak year on vocal prowess and the telegenic female singer’s charisma), not a winner or a jury winner. I just looked on Betfair and out of the top 19 countries in the odds, 15 are western European (the exceptions being Czech Rep, Estonia, Bulgaria and Belarus). That can’t be right. The market is being skewed by the (overwhelmingly western) punters’ music tastes.

    • When We’re Old is a much stronger composition than Playing With Numbers, which was still 7th on the jury vote and 12th overall. It might well have qualified if it could’ve benefited from Lithuania’s voting power.

      • Sagand

        I have it down as performing like ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’, which was 8th in both jury and televote in the semi. (It had a better running order but less allies.) The jury vote held in the final (9th) but televote cratered getting 8 points total (vast majority from Greece).

        I think Lithuania will end up 5th – 8th in juries and with allies votes and other televotes from the lower end, pre-running order I have them through 8th-10th.

    • John

      I too have been trying to suss out what will be the Beast from The East this year. It seems very long odds for the former Soviet entries and there will almost certainly be one breakout entry.

      Russia’s song isnt as bad as people make out, Yulia is a sympathetic figure and I expect when she turns up to Lisbon people will remember that she actually has agency beyond ‘just some political tool’. Cynicism could dry up completely when she is on stage and I expect eastern juries at least to aid her into the final.

      Ukraine has drama, energy and event. If the lad was a marginally better singer I would be backing it considerably.

      Azerbaijan and Armenia are the big ?s for me. One works as a phonetically pleasing and catchy slice of pop and the other is a genuine enough ethnic ballad very ably performed. Im loathe to go in big on either because X My Heart is a little thin and repeats heavily, while Qami lacks a big moment.

      We definitely need more live performances/rehearsals to tell, but I think there’s a sleeping giant.

      Not Belarus mind you. If that qualifies Ill put my foot through the telly.

  • Guys, can you answer this? When Eurovision winner market on Betfair is opened, who are the people that lay big odds? I mean backing is easy because you risk small and win big. But laying is the opposite and you need 990£ to win 10£ if you‘re laying @100. That‘s crazy! Who are laying these bets? I don‘t think average Joe is doing something like this. Am I missing something?

  • ISRAEL WILL NOT WIN EUROVISION

    Politics has, unfortunately, intervened again ; we all forgot that on May 15th is the 70th anniversary of the formation of Israel ; naturally , the Arabs didn’t and call it ”the Catastrophe” and are planning on marking the anniversary in blood , starting today when 12 were killed and over 400 wounded in Gaza …they plan on a series of escalating protest over the next six weeks that will reach a crescendo on May 15th …this is very bad publicity for Israel and for their chances in the USC as it will be headline news many times in the coming weeks …..Israel is simply not going to win Eurovision on May 12th with all of this going on ; it will simply be too controversial for many folks in Europe to swallow

    • Depends what happens and how its reported. May help Israel. Israel themselves aren’t going to do anything until the anniversary which is after the final.

      It was a catastrophe for most Palestinians who were booted out of their houses and land but Europeans don’t know that and most of the minority who do know don’t care. And the media is hardly interested in educating or reality.

      Netta is hardly responsible anyway (and virtually all Israelis are born too late to be responsible).

    • Showlad

      What a skewed interpretiaion of events imho. Given that some Arab factions want death to the state of Israel I agree with The King that may instil sympathy for Israel.
      Unless there is a MASSIVE event this will not affect ESC 2018 and there is a lot of sympathy for the creation of Israel following the terrible events of WW2.
      Let’s not drag sensationalist politics on here (oh and btw Israel is still winning ESC 2018 methinks).

  • Double Carpet

    I do wish the running order for the semis would come out, am itching to spend ages analysing them! Also wish some more bets would come out; one of my favourites from recent years was for the combined votes of the countries that made up the top 8 on the scoreboard to be cumulatively be more than the rest of the field. What was fab about that was that it didn’t matter which countries they were, which kind of took the pressure off trying to predict the top scorers. That bet has unfortunately not been seen since!

    • Burlington Bertie

      Double Carpet – I also had a top 8 bet on back in 2012 and something similar the following year. Both bets came good but like you, I’ve not seen the like since. There was a downside to the bets, which was that I was watching the voting with a calculator, adding the scores up as they came in. It didn’t make me the best of company but it was the only way to be sure of the outcome as it happened. Keep me posted if you see one of these again and I’ll do the same for you.

  • Double Carpet

    Montell, I agree with you, who on earth are these people laying the bets?

  • Are we still continuing with UK last place?

    Sadly I don’t have the higher funds required to invest in a lay at the moment (plumbing crisis) but if SuRie comes last I will run through the Eurovision Village with my winky out.

  • There’s a great word in Spanish for the qualities of “Tu Canción” which is “acaramelada”….over sweet, sickly, yukky…but bad as it is, I struggle to see it below the UK…..Betfair odds on UK have fallen from over 4s to current 6-4…admittedly with a bit of a run on Spain in the last 12 hours or so…..guess that’s all your doing Tim??!!!

    • Tim B

      I can neither confirm nor deny any backing of Spain to finish last at odds of 13.0 on Betfair.

      • Un

        Spain’s song is marmite. Has too many fans to be last. Last place is usually either incredibly bad or lukewarm, à la “kill it with faint praise” so well identified in this site. (Marmite songs would be the novelty/antiSimon contestants coming after the real good ones). For me Spain’s range is something between 8-9 and 16-17.

  • Proxweiser

    I think Finland’s odds of qualifying over evens is crazy high. UK is voting in semi 1 and Saara could easily have 24 points there to start with. Performing in 2nd half were usually 5 entries qualify at least with the better songs in 1st half. Yes the performance in Finland was bad but this is only due to improve. Let’s not forget this as a song was battling for favorite status not long ago and Saara has a good record in surprising.

    • Tim B

      If you think about the UK televote in SF1 she is already likely to be below Lithuania, Israel, Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus and maybe Estonia. Or they are at least strong contenders to beat her. No one on the UK jury is going to rank her highly just because she was on X Factor UK, and half of the jury members won’t have heard of her.

      Ruth Lorenzo was 10th on the UK televote with a great performance, so I don’t see any reason why Saara would do much better.

      • Ande

        Oh yeas, UK will give Saara plenty of points. Northon will make sure to mention her being from X Factor UK during the broadcast. Not sure if the juries will be as shameless as the public though.

      • Proxweiser

        In historical context there will be 5 qualifiers from 2nd half of 1 semi. Assuming that records holds, Finland is battling against Austria, Armenia, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Makedonia, Ireland and Switzerland for at least 5 spots. 3 of them market has no believe in so there should be 6 entries competing for those places. Finland 2.2 to qualify is a very wrong assumption of real potential IMO. When the obvious improvement from the low production Finnish NF is revealed those odds will crash.

    • You’ve got to remember X Factor choreographer Brian Friedman is on YLE’s team. Now I’m not saying he can do all that much, but remember Friedman has had a very nice career staging songs in such a way that they help steer the televoters to cast their vote in a certain direction.

      This of all places should be the last place to disregard that fact.

      There’s plenty to read about the dark arts of X Factor on here if you don’t really take part round here during the Autumn, and in the X Factor 2016 section an analysis of Saara’s journey that might be worth a read.

  • markovs

    Ugh. Memories of the last 45 secs or so of The Rain brings me out in a rash. An awful screamfest which ruined a really nice song up to then. Cannot bear to listen to it.

  • I thought it might be a good idea to see how the other four X Factor UK alumni have done at Eurovision vs X Factor. Not sure if there’s enough data to see anything in it though.

    ANDY ABRAHAM (“Even If”)

    X Factor 2005: 2nd from 12 (Eliminated on televote)

    Eurovision 2008: Singing for UK
    Big 5: 25th from 25, 14pts

    RUTH LORENZO (“Dancing In The Rain”)

    X Factor 2008: 5th from 12 (Eliminated on televote)

    Eurovision 2014: Singing for Spain (GF: 5pts from UK)
    Big 5: 10th from 26, 74pts

    JEDWARD (“Lipstick” and “Waterline”)

    X Factor 2009: 6th from 12 (lost singoff to Olly Murs by judges)

    Eurovision 2011: Singing for Ireland (GF: 12pts from UK)
    SF2: 8th from 19, 68pts
    GF: 8th from 25, 119pts

    Eurovision 2012: Singing for Ireland (GF: 12pts from UK)
    SF1: 6th from 18, 92pts
    GF: 19th from 26, 46pts

    LUCIE JONES (“Never Give Up On You”)

    X Factor 2009: 8th from 12 (lost singoff to Jedward on televote)

    Eurovision 2017: Singing for UK
    Big 5: 15th from 26, 111pts

  • Just off topic any tips for Fight Night?

  • Shai

    I decided to put my neck out and place my idea on how the semi finals running order will look like.

    I looked at the 3 contests Björkman was in charge and wanted to check if there are some guide-lines to his work.
    I think he is not just considering the songs and their status as favourite but also takes into account if this is a male or a female singer. In some cases he sacrifice songs he thinks they are no hoppers.And of-course he has his own taste in music.

    So for the sake of fun:

    Semi 1

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

    Semi 2

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

    Agree or disagree?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    What to do.

    For the first time in months, I put a bet on the other day.

    A bet of £8 on Ian Poulter to win outright the Houston Open golf, followed by a bet of £2 on Ian Poulter to win outright the Houston Open golf.

    I followed his progress on day one, gave up following his progress that day, after he bumbled along, making no headway, on a day when he finished +1, with the the leaders miles ahead.

    The next day he hit a day’s best -8. I nearly went in again at still big prices, but reminded myself I’m severely rationing my betting activities, and held tight, held firm.

    I’ve just returned in from a night out, checked the PGA Tour Houston Open leaderboard, to find he’s only currently leading the tournament, on -14.

    My betfair exchange account, for my combined £10 win on Poulter is currently offering me a Cash Out of £277.50.

    I see I’ve £8 matched at 140 and £2 at 130.

    Last year’s Eurovision, prior to the final I committed an almighty cash out mistake, which went all kinds of painful wrong, and cost me thousands. Truly.

    I could do with this £277.50, but I decided to back Poulter win only (not EW) for a reason.

    On betfair he is currently the 4.7 favourite.

    Maybe what I’m asking is: is there a way of presetting Cash Out settings so that if the cash out offers goes perhaps below £200 it would automatically accept the offer.

    I could do with not mucking this up.

    But I am a person who ideally likes to let a bet ride.

    The 4th and final round happens tomorrow.

    Any advice and suggestions very welcome.

    • John

      My attitude is always, what does it hurt to lose more? Would losing about £200 suck (yes) or would losing, what is it £1400? If I read you right? Well i can guess which is worse.

      Or cash out and re-invest, which is unexciting but guaranteed money.

      • Chris Bellis

        Good advice. Unless you are a professional gambler and bookie, like my brother-in-law, these bets are dangerous. I’ve said it before, but my brother-in-law has a row of screens in front of him and he has programs monitoring odds changes, up and down, and he is constantly switching money. He is content if he makes 5% profit. Totally different from most of us. It’s work to him, as he’s spent a lifetime as a bookie and knows what he’s doing. I would advise everybody to have fun gambling, and only gamble what you can afford to lose, unless you are prepared to turn it into a proper job. You’ll need at least four computers and feeds from betting sites, and programs which alert you to odds discrepancies. You’ll need many accounts, which you will have to be prepared to ditch and renew when the various sites realise what you are up to. My brother-in-law favours US dog races as you can get the money on quickly and they are not monitored so fiercely. He likes Eurovision because the odds change often and sometimes illogically, and by betting and laying and cashing out you can make money. Too clever for me.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Thanks for replying.

      Too needy for the money at the moment and also realised that there’s a feature button to the side of the Cash Out button that introduces a slider allowing for a partial cash out.

      Decided to confirm a £100 profit (which has introduced a series of lay bets at 5.1 (odds have drifted since last night) with payout liabilities of which come to just under £466.)

      I’m unsure how to calculate bf commission charges but my original bets have profits stated at £258 and £1,112 equalling £1,360 – so I’m figuring a Poulter win will still net me an extra £800 or so, so come on Ian Poulter! I dearly wish he was paired with a big name in this final round to come – rather than Beau Hossler. A big name would have been helpful in two ways.

      Am annoyed at myself for wussing out a bit with a partial cash out, as betting is hard enough, without paying for the luxury of betting against your bets, paying for insurance. Such is the bind applied by cash flow issues.

      • There’s a check box on betfair that lets you see your potential profit with commission charges applied.

        https://image.ibb.co/jWY227/eeeee.png

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I should be deliriously happy having picked and backed a 140/1 winner.

        Yep, Poulter won.

        As it is I cashed out at all the very worst times and altogether I now have £259.75 in my betfair account. My exact winnings.

        Am currently processing that cloud of gambling grief.

        i could give a blow by blow account of what drove my bad decision making, but suffice to say, and in the spirit of trying to be philosophical, I’ll venture that people in bad cash flow situations will typically make bad decisions re cash out.

        Let it ride when things are going well, panic when it looks like you may be winning nothing, hit the cash out button at the behest of your desperation.

        In that odd situation of being £250 better off and feeling sick to my stomach.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Just occurred to me that sometimes on this site people reporting having backed large priced winners can fall under a cloud of scepticism.

          I’m certain all the relevant bets and decisions logged in my betfair account would be able to be made viewable.

          As would the bets and decisions I made last year about more substantial bets I had last year on a golfer at 250/1, who was at one point in that tourney leading and into 9/4. Bets for which I received nothing as I cashed them all out prior to the Eurovision final, with the stated intention of using that cashed out money to back Portugal EW, which I then didn’t do!

          Inept. Absolutely fucking inept.

          I might be in the anger stage of my gambling grief!

          Golf betting must be one of the most gruelling area of betting.

        • eurovicious

          It doesn’t sound like you’re gambling from a healthy place. As you intimate, betting from an “I need money” mindset is a terrible idea. Mate, you won. Be thankful. It’s a mug’s game and you were sensible not to take the risk.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Sort of am thankful. Can afford to drop a tenner. Gutted that I managed to minimise winnings from the biggest priced winner I’ve ever had!

          • Ande

            Guildo your comments make me worried but at the same time I’m glad you’re acknowledging your situation. If I were you I’d start wager smaller sums to be able to cover some of the bets. Not having the cash to be flexible in your betting is a very dangerous situation!

        • Stoney

          Hello Guildo mate. It was still a winner so can’t grumble. However I absoulely detest cash out. Has done everyone more harm than good over the years, otherwise the bookies wouldn’t offer it. Its that simple.

          • Chris Bellis

            That’s the most sensible comment on here. As I said, I know professional gamblers, and they really work at it! If you aren’t prepared to go the whole hog, just treat it as a bit of entertainment, and gamble with small stakes. As I said earlier, you need at least four computers, multiple accounts, and various betting programs that can analyze betting trends. Plus a quick mind and a calculator.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Feedback noted. Thanks.

            Gambled £10 on that tournament, but the pressure of the decisions I faced kept on escalating. In retrospect: a big stressor for me but not the worst problem.

            A shout out of respect to Sofabet’s Daniel who must gamble and make nimble decisions on wagers of a magnitude that I wouldn’t cope with.

            Keeping to small stakes, making use of free bet offers and qualifying promotions, I’ve gambled £11 on this week’s big, big tourney, to place £31 of bets on it.

            If they all go down the drain -bets not players!- then that’s alright.

            Involved with Moore, Garcia and Henley in a variety of markets. Just mentioning in advance. That’s all.

  • Boki

    A friend sent me tomorrow’s Jerusalem Post article – an interview with Doron Medalie (writer of Toy). Besides usual stuff he talks about staging preparations which are massive and serious – they want to win!
    He said he is aware of all potential negatives and will address them. For example he doesn’t want to portray Netta as too aggressive but also recognizes the need to also get juries on her side so thinking to omit the chicken noises. “We don’t want the world to think of it as a joke entry” he says “because it carries a deep message”. He also talks about many people in the team who are active in social media and even “reading and analyzing various betting sites”. So be careful what you are writing here 🙂

    • Chris Bellis

      A very wise observation, Boki. We don’t want Mossad on our case.

    • John

      Clever! The way some delegations prepare you would think they read these sites and then do the exact oppostie.

    • Showlad

      Great news for Israel’s song – Doron seems on the case re staging and limiting any joke element of the song and it looks like they really want to win.

    • Boki

      Well, this year I chose less over the top “news” but don’t get carried away 🙂

      • Chris Bellis

        Boki – your news this year has the ring of truth about it. I have a friend who visits Israel regularly, as she’s an active supporter of the Palestinian cause. A couple of years ago she flew into Tel Aviv en route to Gaza, but was taken into a side room at the airport, questioned about her anti-Israel facebook entries, and put on the next plane back to Manchester. Increasingly border forces in all sorts of countries actually read these things. We take it very lightly, but others don’t. Last time I visited Russia they wanted to know all the social media sites I was on before giving me a visa. They didn’t mention sofabet though. So they didn’t know I’d called Putin “all sorts of gangster rolled into one” when commenting on the grannies.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Although, for my own reasons, I don’t like the chicken noises, I do hope they keep them.

      Part of the power of the chicken noises is that Netta is a gifted mimic and comic performer. It’s part of the USP, part of the entertainment.

      They build an initial sense of confusion, which means when the viewer does (quickly) get swept up by the performer and song, they just fall all the harder for the performer and the song.

      Plus the video has been such a sensation that they’ll be expected.

      • Ande

        Yes, chicken noices are rememberable and part of the USP so should be kept, just make sure the presentation is playful but not tacky and you’re on the right track! Don’t dress up the dancers in chicken costumes!

    • eurovicious

      “He also talks about many people in the team who are active in social media and even ‘reading and analyzing various betting sites’.”

      After my article last year talked about the need for Eurovision entries to provide something akin to a communal religious experience to succeed, and how in the post-religious West we’ve turned to venerating a pantheon of celebrities and superheroes as our folk gods in place of organised religion, I’m totally taking credit for that “Wonder Woman […] you’re divine” lyric…

      I’ve also seen enough editions of Turkvision to know about the importance of the imitation of bird calls in shamanism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imitation_of_sounds_in_shamanism

      Netta’s calls bring to mind not wild birds in nature, but an industrialised product mistreated by man. I’m not your toy; I’m not meat. I’m more than just anonymous flesh for you to enjoy – I’m a beautiful creature.

  • I wouldn’t have the level of knowledge of Eurovision of a lot of people on here but I have a lot of punting experience on it. My thoughts are linked below. Any feedback welcome.

    @Daniel – I hope you don’t mind me posting a blog link in your site.

    https://stephencassblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/eurovision-ante-post/

    • Chris Bellis

      Enjoyable read Stephen. My partner, who got Portugal and Italy right last year, agrees with you on Portugal and Switzerland. Switzerland has such high odds because of its poor record, but I can’t see why it’s so much worse than the other similar numbers in this contest except for that.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Same as Chris, I enjoyed that, too.

      As you can see from my comments on this post / thread, I’m rapidly losing interest in the Czech entry and mainly agree with your thoughts.

      He’s more likeable with the glasses and the braces, I notice, but his hand movements are kind of odd and all in all the 7/1 to 8/1 odds range is not on the generous side.

      I notice that as I go off the Czech entrant I seem to inversely warm to the Swedish entrant. Your “competent male pop-robot” comment made me giggle, but I would advise caution, in not falling into the same bias I do every year on this site.

      Sweden are the easiest nation to write funny lines about! There overproduced entries are enjoyably piss-takeable. It’s very easy to write yourself into a corner, with Sweden.

      Chris B never makes that mistake with Sweden.

      And their show will certainly be memorable, Benjamin (I’ve watched other videos) is a sensational dancer, and also is likeable – when you can see him! When he isn’t enveloped by the mammoth lightboard backdrop.

      Still, his lower register voice is bloody awful and I agree the song does lack a hook.

      I nearly totally agree with you on France.

      Friends of mine were put off by her nose. To begin with I was put off by her hair! Don’t ask!

      The beat hypnotises me. I listen to that song as much as I watch the Israeli video. I’m obsessed with it.

      I don’t share your concerns about the “drab” look of the clothing.

      If you were responsible for costumes for them, for the performers, what could you pick that would be better?

      Serious question.

      If you pick anything that looks jazzy or elaborate, immediately you undermine the credibility and ultra-earnestness of the performers.

      If you pick something expensive-looking you’ve fallen into a big no-no of a trap: the presentation could be read as suggesting that the performers see themselves as gilded white saviours and that any of the travellers are seeking Western riches.

      I like the costumes. They set the appropriate tone. The focus isn’t meant to be on the performers’ clothes. The clothes need to be got out of the way of the song’s message. They are distinct, memorable, very chic, retro and minimalist French.

      Blank canvas. Nothing to see here. We are the narrators. Spreading the message. Listen to what we are telling you.

      In a way, the black polo necks are the successors to Salvador’s ill-fitting suit. (I might be reaching too far with that.)

      The moody stern-faced French guitarist, I agree, is troubling and distracting. He should smile a bit, be welcoming. After a long, dangerous journey it would be nice to see a welcoming face. That should be his job in the presentation. His intimate, earnest singing partner is more than doing her role.

      The repetition of mercy by the earnestly-sexy, intimate, personal French babe does hook into the brain. It’s in a foreign language, yep, but is made simple (again in agreement with an earnest, intimate tone) to understand.

      Funnily enough the problem with Portugal is the problem with France: again the other person on stage. But much more so with Portugal.

      “Landing the Grand National / Eurovision double is my holy grail.”

      I’ve no idea why that is you holy grail but I love the quirkiness of it!

      Best of luck, Stephen.

      • Chris Bellis

        I think the French couple are playing into the stereotype of French intellectuals. We’ve seen this joke time after time on the Simpsons and Saturday Night Live among many others. They even have a French couple introducing the late night film on Film 4. They wouldn’t do that if people didn’t have a real affection for this type of thing – “pretentious? moi?”, in the punchline of the old joke. I went to see Marcel Lucont last year at the comedy festival, and he plays into this stereotype very well — it’s the whole act.
        If they don’t f**k up the staging, which the manic French stage designer probably will, it could easily make top five. It’s a good song, well sung, even apart from the message.
        Yes GHF, I’m on board with Sweden again this year for Top 5, much as I dislike the song. As a performer though I think people are under-estimating him. Not my thing, but give him credit for a slick performance.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Yep, Chris, you’re right about them playing into the French intellectual stereotype. I had completely missed that.

          But more so the monsieur, than the madame. He’s dragging them down. She’s at least giving and going through a range of emotions, while he’s posing.

          Yep, the Swedish lad is a cracking dancer and likeable.

      • Stephen Cass

        ReThanks for such a detailed reply, especially re the staging.

        I don’t want jazzy costumes or anything, just something a little more uplifting, to go with the message of the song. Jewellery, bangles, a bit of silver fabric in the top, something like that. Maybe that will take from it though.

        I like your idea of drad guitar man smiling. I hope they do that.

      • zelenovi

        Totally on board re France. The thing that also keeps getting me is it’s just such a credible contemporary pop song. I first heard it while listening to Spotify’s France Viral Top 50 playlist and saved it, days before I found out it was the French Eurovision entry.

    • Stephen I agree with pretty much everything you say. As to Israel’s price if revealed in Feb we don’t know. It is the stand-out. Now we have the Tel Aviv party in nine days. Bated breath.

    • Ande

      Thanks, good read. I’ll follow your blog in the future!

  • dicksbits

    I agree staging is never a ‘game changer’ for an entry, however a poor staging can ruin a song’s chances of victory…

  • george

    Can people people please realise that Boki’s post regarding Israel was an April fools joke.. Although i use the term ‘joke’ rather loosely

    • Oh come on, guys. He does one every year!

      • Chris Bellis

        I thought the one this year was pretty good. Just a tiny edge away from reality. Sadly, the real posts about Israel are far more depressing, not taking sides or anything.

        • Showlad

          Let’s not bring politics on here. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a barb of contradictions and many viewpoints – all valid and passionate to the holder. This is a TV betting site not Question Time.

          • Oh is that what he meant. I agree with you. I don’t want my question answered if that’s the case.

            I was curious if he was depressed by Netta’s supporters or detractors. Stupid to get depressed over political views. Political battles are just a pantomime to keep us amused and distracted lol.

          • Chris Bellis

            I take your point and I agree that it’s best to keep politics out of it. Unfortunately, “1944” changed all of that. When TPTB in Eurovision let a blatantly political and very divisive song enter the contest, politics have to be considered when betting. I don’t like it, but that song changed the scene. Please don’t blame the messenger.

  • Phil

    https://youtu.be/YvKiy0XmoyM

    Still think this is being underestimated.

    • Chris Bellis

      She seems happier doing the acoustic version. She looks so awkward in the official video. Maybe because they made her wear a deeply unflattering outfit.

  • Looks like the running order for the semi-finals is coming at 12noon GMT. A new Sofabet post will be published a few minutes after it’s made public, so that we have a new discussion thread for its ramifications. Please wait to post your thoughts under the new thread so that everything is in one place. Thank you!

  • M.

    France didn’t even win the international juries in their own national selection, only came third…

    Definitely something to consider. Crazy low odds imo.

    Still sticking that NL has a lot to offer and is overlooked because of the genre and the shitty ‘official music video’ they uploaded on the channel instead of the ‘song release’

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Been half a dozen new, different versions of Mercy uploaded yesterday, but still prefer this ambient trippy one from last month better.

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