Eurovision 2018: The Grand Final

The Eurovision betting market has been deranged this year. Had someone told me just a few weeks ago that Cyprus would be hot favourites with Ireland firmly in third, I’d have laughed. Yet here we are.

The potential weaknesses of the early favourites came home to roost: Israel’s Netta wasn’t allowed her looper, instead playing up the chicken noises behind what looks like a Fisher Price kids’ toy; Mikolas Josef put his back out and the Czech staging lacked dynamism; Australia’s Jessica Mauboy performed like she was singing Sea of Flags in the 2014 interval; France didn’t bring the message with their staging; while Scandinavian giants Sweden and Norway brought exactly what we expected, only for it to be met with a shrug of the shoulders.

So apart from confused, where are we now? Cyprus are short favourites for a song that traditionally contains red flags for jurors. An update of the ethnopop bangers that proliferated in the contest a decade ago, ‘Fuego’ is a straightforward composition with basic lyrics, a highly sexualised dance routine, and no need for vocal prowess. Traditionally, that’s not been enough to get you above about seventh with juries (which ‘Dum Tek Tek’ managed in 2009).

However, it is brilliantly staged and performed by the fabulous Eleni Foureira. She encapsulates ‘Fuego’ with every hair flick and slutdrop. It’s success in download charts is testament to her stardom and the package’s general appeal. It was the likely winner of the first semi-final from the pimp slot, and is also drawn late tonight (straight after Ireland again). I think it has every chance of proving that Eurovision – and music in general – can be about fireworks.

Those looking to back Cyprus will be pinning their hopes on jurors being impressed by the execution. But given the red flags mentioned, it’s probably wisest to hold off until those initial scores start coming in. Then you can assess how much the fire is being dampened if at all, and you may get a more palatable price if it’s behind but not by too far. In 2016, Sergey Lazarev’s joint-fifth with juries was enough to hold Russia back from victory despite winning the televote with ease.

Israel’s Netta has had a topsy-turvy time at rehearsals: she wasn’t allowed her looper, as was previously assumed; changes were made to staging throughout the rehearsal week; plus the sound mix didn’t enhance her backing dancers enough. We knew exactly what Cyprus is offering; ‘Toy’ looked a confusing initial sell in comparison.

Again, it’s an entry that hangs on the star quality of its performer. When at her most comfortable on stage, Netta is playful, individual and compelling; so is the song. ‘Toy’ is more contemporary and original than ‘Fuego’ while matching it as an earworm, plus Netta gets to display her vocal chops. In theory there’s more here for juries, though Eleni elevates her raw material exceptionally well.

Netta hasn’t been matching Eleni on iTunes, but on other streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, she’s at least level. And that’s also the case for metrics such as Google searches. There’s clearly all to play for between the two market leaders, especially as they’re both drawn right near the end.

Ireland have shot into third favourites on the back of its plum draw as the only true ballad in the second half, and some publicity after Chinese censorship. But it’s the same sweet song that was a 4/1 outsider to qualify on Tuesday evening. Admittedly, it’s also the best staged thing in the competition: a masterful ensemble with Ryan glancing at his female pianist before the two male dancers come in, showing us that love is universal.

It’s warmed my heart during rehearsals, and I was delighted at its qualification. But I’m not of the opinion there’s enough in ‘Together’ to contend for the trophy. The composition is standard WGWG stuff, and jurors don’t tend to reward the male falsetto in this contest. While I think a top ten placing is achievable, I don’t think this is another ‘Calm After The Storm’. Song, staging and star quality were all superior in the Dutch 2014 entry.

There’s a gap in the outright market to the next six in the betting, which sums up a general sense of cluelessness about who else might challenge. Three of them are from the Big Five: France, Italy and Germany. Interviews and clips of these appeared in Thursday’s semi-final, where the search data indicated twice the interest in the German and Italian entries than the French one.

Whether that will be repeated tonight is a whole other matter. But it did allow my fears to re-emerge that without making the message of the song explicit, ‘Mercy’ is in danger of passing people by. It is one of the best compositions in the contest, and creates a moment of the evening with the flashlight hand gesture. I don’t write it off, especially in a year full of upbeat contenders.

That can aso be said for Germany, which has done a better job of getting its message across. Michael was strong for the jury rehearsal last night, and this is the kind of radio-friendly number that scores well with that constituency. While Italy’s song feels like a tough sell at the end of 26, I expect it to do well with jurors too. In short, there’s some promise – with France and Germany especially – but maybe not enough to challenge the top two.

Lithuania, Estonia and Sweden are also in that group of six – the second-tier of the outright market. Running order slots of 4 and 6 for the first two strongly suggest that producers think neither has a chance of winning, being happy to slightly damage their chances by having them on so early. I prefer Lithuania of the two, although Estonia has a USP that isn’t killed so much by the draw.

On the other hand, Sweden’s position at #20 suggests it may have won Thursday’s second semi-final. If so, it comes into the final with the potential to hit a place. Eurovision fans and journalists have become rather inured to ‘Dance You Off’ having seen it done the same way so many times; plus it represents a typically slick if soulless Swedish offering that has the same detractors. But year in, year out, this kind of package appeals to both jurors and televoters, and I’m expecting the same tonight.

It’s a not dissimilar story with Norway’s Alexander Rybak, but reaction was much more strongly dismissive of ‘That’s How You Write A Song’ after its appearance in the same semi-final. A first-half draw and slot #7 added to the drift in the market, but I wouldn’t write him off from a top five finish, given he straddles two important voting blocs (Nordic and Soviet). The song itself may put off too many jurors for any higher.

Without Russia and other Soviet bloc members, the way is clear not just for the likes of Rybak, but Moldova and Ukraine to pick up more points. The Moldovan team have strong connections across the region, and that combined with the joyous staging of ‘My Lucky Day’ makes a top ten spot look achievable. The vocals were below par in Thursday’s semi-final, but that’s because the backing and lead vocals were at the wrong places in the sound mix; that was sorted in last night’s jury rehearsal. Nonetheless, it’s in the televote where this and Rybak should shine.

Elsewhere, saying who else could manage a top ten result feels a bit like throwing darts, as is often the case for the random outsider that manages it – Norway last year, for example. Czechia has to be on the list given its jury-friendly contemporary nature and Mikolas’s televote appeal to certain demographics.

The last place market is always a fun one to flag up, and the two main contenders seem to be Slovenia and the U.K. I don’t tend to disagree, though SuRie may get a few points from the usual suspects, and Slovenia may also get thrown a few regional crumbs. Portugal and Spain are next in the list and they will be hoping for the same. I usually like to look at some longer odds, and have my eye on the Netherlands which is completely lost at the end of this running order.

It’s been a turbulent year of Eurovision betting. As is the tradition, I offer you the following top three prediction:

1. Israel
2. Cyprus
3. Sweden

I wish everyone the best of luck with their bets tonight. Do give your predictions and thought below. Enjoy!

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99 comments to Eurovision 2018: The Grand Final

  • niko

    Not time for too many comments, but here is my prediction:

    1. Ireland
    2. Sweden
    3. Cyprus
    4. Norway
    5. Israel
    6. Moldova
    7. Netherlands
    8. Lithuania
    9. Czech Republic
    10. Estonia
    11. Germany
    12. France
    13. Hungary
    14. Ukraine
    15. Australia
    16. Bulgaria
    17. Italy
    18. Slovenia
    19. Albania
    20. Denmark
    21. Serbia
    22. Austria
    23. Finland
    24. Spain
    25. United Kingdom
    26. Portugal

  • BT

    I’m pretty set on the top 3 but there’s good arguments for a lot of entries to be sneaking into the top 10 or falling out of it so I have little confidence in my prediction. I think every positive and negative has been pored over already so I’ll just go straight to the list.

    1. Israel
    2. Sweden
    3. Cyprus
    4. Germany
    5. Moldova
    6. Czech Republic
    7. Ireland
    8. Lithuania
    9. Norway
    10. Australia

    All I’m sure of is that there’s going to be very little between the number of points the top 15 get and any of Austria, France, Estonia and Ukraine could sneak into the top 10.

    UK has a good chance of last place but those odds offer no value so Slovenia @6, Portugal @9.6, Italy @81, Denmark @67, Hungary @67 and Finland @50 appeal much more.

  • My top 10 prediction for the grand final:

    Cyprus
    Sweden
    Israel
    Lithuania
    Ireland
    Bulgaria
    Czech Republic
    Norway
    France
    Hungary

    Cyprus. I listened to this song the most even before we knew about the spectacular staging and I have money on it so obviously I’m very biased. But for me Fuego screams winner from the first to the last second of the performance. This song brings back the memories when countries like Greece and Turkey were sending ethno-pop bangers. I miss that type of music. This year Cyprus and Israel have sent just what I wanted to hear in Eurovision. I’m almost sure Cyprus won’t be jury winner but I believe it will be top 3. This year we don’t have ballads like Ukraine 2016 or Portugal 2017. All ballads this year are more or less good but none of them are ahead of the rest so why juries wouldn’t go for Cyprus which is slick from start to the end. The song will become a hit after Eurovision, anyway. Juries should acknowledge a hit potential (they did it with Sweden 2015). Even if Cyprus is not in the jury top 3, I doubt the jury winner will be ahead of Cyprus by too many points. I also believe that it is very unlikely a ballad wins three years in a row so for me it’s Cyprus. I think Cyprus will be the televote winner.

    Sweden. Many complain about Sweden for sending plastic and soulless copies of songs that are popular nowadays, but like it very much. I guess I just like that sort of music (fast food music). I loved Eric Saade, I loved Robin Bengtsson and I love Benjamin Ingrosso. This year I’m very impressed they managed to perform the song just as it sounds in the studio version. It’s impressive. Staging is impressive. The song is very radio-friendly and is being played all around. I can imagine Sweden being a jury winner. It has a good draw so should also be high in the tele vote list.

    Israel. I wanted to put it second but I still doubt the juries will go for it in a big way. I think they will treat it a little bit like a joke act. As many already said the overall package is not very cohesive. Yes, I’m referring to the first 30 seconds. Everything else is great. I also don’t see Israel winning because I got mixed reactions from people I gave it to listen to. For me Israel is more like Verka Serduchka of 2018 and because we have juries now, I don‘t see it winning.

    Lithuania. Since my top 3 is all uptempo songs, I must choose a ballad now. It’s just a guess but that may be Lithuania. The song and the performance reminds me “Calm After The Storm”. Ieva is a sweet girl and the song is very emotional so for me it gets the best ballad award this year. I just want to add that I didn’t think this way before the semi-finals but when I saw it in the context of other songs, I changed my mind.

    Ireland. I was discounting it before the semi finals but it really came together very well. Amazing staging, good draw, the only ballad in the 2nd half. All that must ensure Ireland landing in the top 10.

    Bulgaria. I wasn’t a big fan of the song but really started to like it after I heard it live in the semi final. The staging is a little bit messy but the song is very good in my opinion. Bulgaria and Cyprus should get the Balkan votes. I don’t see Bulgaria missing out top 10. Also, I’m a big fan of The Matrix trilogy and Equinox are very like characters from those movies.

    Czech Republic. Catchy, contemporary song that should get small points from everywhere. The staging is nice. Mikolas is cool and charismatic at the same time. This is an all-around good package.

    Norway. It’s a shame Rybak doesn’t perform the song with the big enthusiasm we saw him do it in Norway. However, it’s the best uptempo song in the first half and Rybak is a charismatic guy who will be loved by all age groups.

    France. Not a big fan of the song but it seems everyone is liking it so I thought I would add it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it didn’t end in the top 10. Anyway, it’s nice electro pop song that juries should award. I started to like this song more after 2 or 3 listens. I’m afraid televoters hearing it for the first time might dismiss it. Yes, the song has a strong message but I doubt there will be enough who cares.

    Hungary. I love it. Too bad AWS doesn’t sound as good as in A dal though. Choruses are not as powerful in Eurovision. Anyway, for me it’s the best metal song I heard in Eurovision. The band is very true to what they’re doing. I think metal lovers will unite and manage to push Hungary in to the top 10.

    Just outside of the top 10 I see Austria, Moldova, Germany, and Ukraine.

    Good luck everyone. It was another great year and I already start feeling a post Eurovision depression.

  • Anglia Chu

    For last place, I think Serbia has to be in the mix, too. Mediocre running order (beside the UK), Eurovision-generic song.

    There will be a tribute to the first Eurovision winner Lys Assia in the second intermission. will that impact the power of running order in any way?

  • Tpfkar

    Haven’t listened to a single song this year but feel I know them inside out from every tweet and article. Will post that 1-2-3 prediction as my own to impress friends…it’s worked before! Good luck to all punters

  • Daniel, Gavin, Rob, each one predicts different winner. This year is madness!

  • Johan Engel

    This year is open to many interpretations and results. One thing is for sure. There is no runaway winner tonight.

    For the winner I will go wild and say Bulgaria. Everyone seems to have forgotten this. Don’t forget it got slot 18. It could get a lot of jury love, and my 8 year old son loves it(!). That being said here is a top 10 prediction:

    1. Bulgaria
    2. Israel
    3. Cyprus
    4. Lithuania
    5. France
    6. Czechia
    7. Hungary
    8. Norway
    9. Sweden
    10. Ireland

    As for last place I will stick with Spain.

  • Again, I think this is a ‘different’ year than previous years. Perhaps a bit comparable to 2011. The top favourite before rehearsals (Israel) is most likely not going to win. Just like 2014 (Austria), 2016 (Ukraine) and 2017 (Portugal). I think because of all the analizing and trading, people sometimes tend to forget to let their emotions…..their heart speak. Eurovision still is very much an “emotions” contest. Which entry will touch the strings of your heart -to quote Croatia 2001- best?

    Also, one thing that strikes me a lot this year: I haven’t seen the betting odds, and its favourites, changing thát much as during this year. Really, over the course of three weeks I have seen Israel, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Czech Republic, France, Ireland and Australia entering the TOP 3. It shows how ‘insecure’ the market is and that perhaps this year’s winner will only accumulate 475 points…….or less.

    Having said that, this is my full prediction:

    01. CYPRUS
    02. IRELAND
    03. SWEDEN
    04. GERMANY
    05. ISRAEL
    ————————-
    06. MOLDOVA
    07. CZECH REPUBLIC
    08. AUSTRIA
    09. FRANCE
    10. AUSTRALIA
    ————————-
    11. Norway
    12. Estonia
    13. Hungary
    ===================
    14. Ukraine
    15. Lithuania
    16. The Netherlands
    17. Portugal
    18. Bulgaria
    19. Denmark
    ————————-
    20. FINLAND.
    21. ALBANIA
    22. SERBIA
    23. SLOVENIA
    24. UNITED KINGDOM
    25. SPAIN
    26. ITALY

    And please dear countries from Eastern Europe. Try to send something more authentic to Eurovision next year. It’s a bloody shame that most likely this year’s TOP 10 will only feature ONE nation from Eastern Europe.

  • Chris

    1. Cyprus
    2. Sweden
    3. Lithuania
    4. Israel
    5. Norway
    6. Germany
    7. Ukraine
    8. Moldova
    9. Czech Rep.
    10. Hungary

  • annie

    This is the first year for a long long time that I really didn´t follow any of the build up of eurovision, semifinals were the first time I met up with all the acts.

    I understand Israel´s appeal based on the official video and such (which I only looked up after seeing her in her semi), but it I fell it just doesn´t translate well enough to the eurovision stage. There I felt underwhelmed and visually confused… I doubt it will win. It just feels weird. Her look, the way they try to fill the stage, her props… someting just doesn´t add up to me.

    I was very sceptical of Cyprus, having the same worries as you, but I am just surprised what a general appeal it seems to have. Everyone seems to have heard about her and does seem to even like her in some weird way. Straigt men

    Sweden is one of the songs you are most likely to hear on the radio outside of esc bubble. Thought nothing outstanding, It has a general appeal, competent performer. It will do well.

    Ireland and Germany are two songs and packages that I feel play well with the heartstrings of a sentimental audience. Competent, telegenic packages. One of them will join Cyprus and Sweden at the top. I would have added Lithuania to make this a trio, but I feel the draw is very much against her.

    Anyways, as conclusion:
    1. Cyprus
    2.Sweden
    3. Germany/Ireland.

    • annie

      Oh and last place contender is surely UK. It´s not bad, but not outstanding in any sense either, and no one who votes of them regardless (reminds me of levina from germany)… sorry UK. I love you and always hope you do well.

  • Dan

    1. Ireland
    2. Cyprus
    3. Sweden
    4. Germany
    5. Israel
    6. Czech Republic
    7. Australia
    8. Moldova
    9. Lithuania
    10. Hungary (bold)

  • Hippo

    Really weird year. I think it’s fair to say that only two countries have exceeded expectations as challengers and those are Cyprus and Ireland (those ever consistent Swedes are shaping up exactly as expected). Israel’s position as second is based as much upon the running order, as well as all the other countries mooted as contenders at one point or other (Czech Rep, Lithuania, Norway, Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, Moldova) not quite stepping up. There’s no point at this stage going over it’s merrits and challenges but it’s fair to say it is below expectation on stage which has never produced a victory. There’s a path for an Israeli win but I don’t believe theyr’e as hot on the hair extensions of Eleni as the odds suggest.
    Cyprus would probably be the best winner for the contest and I do believe it will win. It will be very high on the televote for certain and I don’t believe the jury will hold it as far back as expected. It’s a seriously well positioned song that can take advantage of it’s Scandi production, balkan links and elements both Spanish sounding and Eastern friendly.
    I see it followed most closely by Sweden. Sweden has always been a potential jury winner, effortlessly ticking all the jury boxes and through a combination of rivals falling away, a later enough running order spot and ok traction following the semi, can do well on the public vote. It’s still not near to a televote winner but I can see it achieving enough points for second, in what I’m expecting to be a flatter set of results.
    Israel, Ireland, Norway and Moldova round out the fight for a top 5 spot for me.
    Israel will be a talking point and still has some hype. It will generate both public votes (some as a novelty, some for the song) whilst jurors should again not burry it. It’s certainly original and, while to my ears Netta took a while to get into stride in the jury final, is well sung. I don’t know if it is a top 3 on either side but if it’s not, at this stage, it will be close and at least around the top 5.

    With that top 3 of Cyprus, Sweden, Israel out of the way, 4th is hard to call.
    Ireland get my pick for now as the ‘something different’ amongst the challengers and the only ballad with a late draw. There’s a market for this clearly and it could have been third in that first semi final with Lithuania and the Czech Rep both being thrown under the bus. The stats on it indicate it did well at the least and it’s the calm amongst the madness. It’s not a winner for me, I don’t believe it is anywhere near close to emotional enough (for this type of song and performance), I don’t believe Ryan is an engaging enough performer and personally, the song is fairly crap. Some will be drawn into the whole jumping on the lgbt bandwagon but I do believe enough will also see exactly how manipulative it is. Regardless, I expect this to do fairly well the way things have turned out.

    Which leaves Moldova and Norway fighting over 5th. It’s so hard to separate the two. Rybak has the profile and can pick up more nordic votes and has a decent enough draw as the light hearted fun in the sea of ballads that is the first half. DoReDos should be stronger with western viewers as more of a pure novelty and the promotion behind them in the former soviets means they will do very well there. Rybak’s song is more jury firendly, but Moldova equally have the potential for a very strong bloc jury support boosted by the Kirkorov effect. I give a slight edge to Moldova.

    A hell of a lot of countries can hit the top 10:

    I’m tipping Bulgaria to pull in a really impressive jury score maybe as high as 3rd with the vocals much improved. It’s an arty showcase and the only modern ballad really (apart from Austria) such as Dami Im and Kristian Kostov, and Bulgaria may be “well-connected” in jury circles. The televote won’t be great but jury alone could see this into the top 10.

    Lithuania has a decent song but importantly due to the running order a large diaspora. It did well in the semi, though was not close to winning it and probably worse than 3rd but it’s respectable here and is the first entry that can make the top 10 imo.

    Both times the Czech Rep have sent anything with half a hope they have had pretty harsh treatment. In 2016 they received the worst running order slot possible in the semi- causing them to really struggle and as a result of this could be dumped in the coffin slot for a televote nul point. This time they had a hyped entry that could easily have been sent by Sweden and it was given the worst slot of the then contenders in semi 1 and has now been dumped as early as possible. I don’t believe this just squeezed through and it looks to me as though this has been sacrificed at the throne of Ingrosso. It’s done well everywhere pre-contest, is performed well and is doing fairly well in terms of views, downloads and streams. This still should be a top 10 but if I was in the Czech delegation I’d be a little annoyed as it could have been more.

    There’s a case to be made for a top 10 for all of Albania, Australia, Austria, Estonia and Germany for me but I give the last spot to France. Not explaining it as it really could be any of these in my book to get that last spot in the top 10.

    I agree with the consensus that it’s pretty much Slovenia vs the Uk for last place. I fancy Slovenia for it, they have a worse draw, a less accessible song for juries and don’t get much more of an advantage with diaspora or bloc votes than the Uk. Elsewhere in the bottom 5 I see Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. Spain and Portugal have similar issues in memorability whilst the Netherlands just feels like filler and I can’t see either juries or the public helping him a great deal.

    Two countries I want to justify are Hungary and Ukraine. UKraine has a really rough spot opening and I feel he’s down to not a great deal more than neighbourly voting, with which he is behind Moldova, Lithuania and Norway already before considering just better entries latter on. I don’t think the song is good enough for western juries and he looses out on any potential novelty votes for the dracula theme to Rasmussen’s viking crew among others. Ukraine have their excellent record through sending good entries mainly, when they’ve been below par they’ve dropped down the table.

    Hungary is fairly well regarded but I don’t think it’s either a jury or televote top 10. It’s somewhere in the middle on both sides.

    I think the biggest difference we’ll see will be a big jury score for Bulgaria with a weak televote, this could also happen with Austria. The reverse of this is I can see Denmark and Serbia getting crushed by the juries but a decent televote each will save them from the bottom places.

    Here’s my full prediction for the night:
    Overall rank. (Jury/Televote)
    1. Cyprus (2/1)
    2. Sweden (1/5)
    3. Israel (4/4)
    4. Ireland (5/6)
    5. Moldova (11/2)
    6. Norway (10/3)
    7. Bulgaria (3/12)
    8. Lithuania (12/7)
    9. Czech Rep (7/9)
    10. France (9/10)
    11. Estonia (14/11)
    12. Germany (8/15)
    13. Albania (15/8)
    14. Austria (6/18)
    15. Australia (13/17)
    16. Hungary (18/14)
    17. Denmark (25/13)
    18. Finland (16/20)
    19. Italy (17/19)
    20. Serbia (26/16)
    21. Ukraine (20/21)
    22. Portugal (19/24)
    23. Spain (23/22)
    24. Netherlands (21/23)
    25. UK (22/26)
    26. Slovenia (24/25)

    Good luck all

  • Tim B

    1. Cyprus
    2. Sweden
    3. Israel

  • johnkef

    My predictions for tonight

    1. Israel
    2. Cyprus
    3. Germany
    4. France
    5. Sweden
    ——————
    6. Lithuania
    7. Portugal
    8. Norway
    9. Moldova
    10. Czech Rep
    ———————
    11. Hungary
    12. Ireland
    13. Estonia
    14. Bulgaria
    15. Ukraine
    16. Albania
    17. Slovenia
    18. Serbia
    19. Australia
    20. Austria
    21. Finland
    22. Italy
    23. Netherlands
    24. Spain
    25. UK
    26. Denmark

  • M. - @EurovisionValue

    I don’t agree with you on Israel. I think you’re looking too much to the studio version perspective instead of what we have seen and heard on stage.

    So, we’re getting a version of Toy without looper, but without the looper-sounds fully on the tape. So they have to mime these, especially in the beginning. This comes across so weird, without actually using a looper. Thesame for the chicken noises and the looper-stuff in the middle of the song.

    Not only this, but compared to the video and studio version, what’s shown on stage got way more a circus/clown vibe. A lot of stupid facepulling by Netta AND dancers. Also the chicken dance is way more in your face compared to the music video. Vocally she’s fine, but not that great sometimes, it looks/sounds messy now and then. Just the final note is a great plus.

    So:
    – Miming/recreating the looper (without using a actual looper) (not only the Ree – Ouch – Hey)
    – Weird stage and outfits
    – Lots of facepulling
    – A lot of the chickendance
    – The song didn’t really chart after the semi final, like people were telling me before
    – Shouldn’t overrate the song and message, I mean rhyming Toy with Stupid boy, it’s not that great
    and classy. Live it’s not as impactful as the music video…

    Agree with the red flags you raise about Cyprus (song and vocals not that amazing and relies a lot on the sexy-aspect for juries), but in my opinion the ones for Israel are much clearer. The performance takes EVERYTHING out of the song and charismatic/strong performer, while the performance of Israel makes it much weaker. Plus Cyprus is doing much better on likes, youtube and charts, even made the viral top-list on Spotify. How it’s shown on stage I think it’s more jury friendly compared to the Israeli ‘freakshow’.

    So I think Cyprus is the deserved favourite. Hard to say if the odd is fair, but it’s not mega short in my opinion.

    Because of the buzz it’s understable Netta is second favourite. It’s still the most talked about in the mainstream view, because it’s simply the singing chicken. Therefore it’s more googled. But based on likes and views it’s loosing against a few others. Stil, I don’t believe in it and it could be like Gabbani (outside the top 5).

    It’s really hard to call the others. I had a longshot on Ireland, but he might be a bit too short now because of the UK/Irish punters, but really happy I saw the potential in it 🙂 Think the EBU news didn’t spread enough to really be in for the win, but still a dark horse for me and hopefuly it’ll make the top 10 for me.

    France, I don’t know… The song is too weak, it’s a bit early in the running order, but the armsign looks to work great and could create a moment. I don’t think they’re super charismatic for votes though, and the song isn’t that votable and a bit dull in my eyes.

    I can see Sweden being the compromise winner. It has so much less red flags for the juries, and if they can score big there, who knows. Also Germany could be a deserved dark horse. The staging is pretty nice and intimate and many many people can relate to the song. Also it’s a more juryfriendly song than Lithuania in my opinion.

    My top 10:
    – Cyprus
    – Sweden
    – Ireland
    – Germany
    – Moldova
    – Israel
    – Hungary
    – Czech
    – France
    – Lithuania

    Anyway, good luck everyone! I got a really great book this year, Really big wins on Cyprus, Ireland (would be my highest odd ever), Sweden and Germany. Decent wins on Israel and Italy and break-even or small loss on the rest of the field. But that’s just the outright, fingers crossed 🙂

    Don’t think there’s any value left at the moment (well, not obvious ones I can spot), just think Sweden is worth a small bet at 30+.

  • Thanks a lot Daniel and everyone for keeping us informed and entertained over the past few weeks.

    The top 2’s form looks rock solid. Only the unexposed France, Germany and Italy left to lay down a late challenge but not sure it’ll be enough.

    I also think Netherlands is struggling and backed it for last place.

    1) Cyprus
    2) Israel
    3) France
    4) Lithuania
    5) Ireland
    6) Hungary
    7) Germany
    8) Sweden
    9) Italy
    10) Czech Rep
    11) Moldova
    12) Norway
    13) Australia
    14) Bulgaria
    15) Portugal
    16) Denmark
    17) Estonia
    18) Ukraine
    19) Finland
    20) Albania
    21) Austria
    22) Spain
    23) Slovenia
    24 Netherlands
    25) Serbia
    26) UK

  • Tim C

    I’ve not been betting, but I can’t find much to tell me there is a winner amongst the current three leaders in the betting right now.

    Cyprus is the best of them, in that it is slick and professional, but doesn’t stand out from many other entrants in other regards. Top five certainly, possibly top three, but I am unsure about if it can win. I don’t have conviction for it either way, but must concede the draw position does give it an extra boost.

    Israel just feels like a gimmick too far, and the semi-final performance came over quite poorly – it feels like another OGAE winner which never makes the grade in the actual contest. Even though gimmicks have won this contest before, many don’t. I see this outside the top three

    As for Ireland, its an average song performed quite well and with some manufactured controversy, but little has changed since it was a rank outsider a week ago. I might be completely wrong and missing its selling point, but I see this well outside the top five.

    I look elsewhere, at those acts with a professional sheen and a strong unique selling point. I am looking at three other acts to find my winner here: Moldova, Estonia and Hungary.

    Moldova is kitsch and a throwback to times past, to western viewers, but it is also well performed and entertaining. I suspect this will be a huge televote magnet in eastern europe however, and expect some high marks from ex-soviet nations for this one. Perhaps not enough to win, but top five.

    Estonia has been written off too much, although admittedly the draw has not helped – but I think the early draw will not detract as badly for this act, as it stands out so much. I have no personal taste for opera, but it draws goosebumps from that voice, and the millions of first time viewers tonight will have amongst them many who may react the same way. I see this as solid top five material.

    And Hungary? This has a great rock/metal feel, and there is nothing to compete with it. It is also a good track and well performed, it feels ‘genuine’. I can see it attracting its target demographic very well. Whether it targets beyind that remains to be seen. I see this as potential top five material but a possible ‘shock’ winner.

    But like most, I am struggling to see a clear winner here, it could be any of them.

    Prediction Time:

    Pushing the boat out with:

    1. Hungary
    2. Estonia
    3. Cyprus
    4. Moldova
    5. Israel

    ——
    Last: UK
    ——

  • John

    It’s all down to the jury’s relationship with Cyprus if you ask me. And whether the televote goes for oomph and fireworks.

    Some casuals I know said they wanted ‘funny’ Netta to win, which is interesting. The daft factor is a votewinner.

    Irish enthusiasm may be hype driven by odds, Norway do have the first banger slot, and Moldova has regional support. With all that in mind…

    Israel
    Cyprus
    Norway
    Ireland
    Sweden
    Germany
    Moldova
    Bulgaria
    France
    Albania or maybe Lithuania.

    I would find Cyprus a vexing winner, the song and vocal is so thin. In a way nobody stands out as the full package, so any winner we do get will feel a little defactor to me. Unless it’s Ireland, in which case I will hit the frickin roof. And the jackpot.

  • I don’t like any of the first three in the betting this year, so I’m going out on a limb with some big price ew bets.

    SWEDEN at 25/1 is massive, great draw in 20, and they will get the Viking vote.
    2 points ew at 25/1.

    LITHUANIA have to overcome a bad draw, but this is the best song in the contest by a mile.
    1 point ew at 25/1.

    NORWAY would have been favourite with a high draw, but still worth a punt at the price.
    1 point ew at 25/1.

    MOLDOVA have a plum draw, and colourful and fun staging.
    1 point ew at 66/1.

    Total – 10 points.

    • BT

      Sweden’s price is an odd one for me. It seems to be in most of the top 3 predictions on here and the majority opinion also says it’ll be much more of a jury favourite than televote so on that basis, it should be worth taking now to lay after the jury scores. Taking that into account, I’m surprised it’s still as high as 30 on Betfair.

  • Carys

    Thanks for blogging Daniel 🙂 one of my favourite things to read in the run up to EV!

    My prediction for tonight:
    1. Cyprus
    2. Sweden
    3. Ireland
    4. Lithuania
    5. Moldova
    6. Israel (agree with above that it’s a Gabbani)
    7. Bulgaria
    8. Estonia
    9. Hungary
    10. Germany

    I don’t rate Norway’s chances in this final. The song just isn’t that catchy and isn;t working for him. The first time I listened to it I had to turn it off because I found it quite irritating.

    Last place I’m taking a punt on Italy or Portugal.

  • Eoin

    Thanks Daniel for everything this season. Great coverage as always.

    This has been a really odd year, the market really hasn’t had a clue and it’s been fascinating to watch.

    Good luck all! My picks for what they’re worth:

    Winner: Cyprus
    Places: Israel, Sweden & France
    Top 10: Germany, Norway, Moldova, Ireland, Lithuania & Australia
    Last: Spain

  • Chrisr

    I know I’m in the minority, but I see Norway as top three tonight… my whole family have been shown the top10, and all said Norway would get their vote

  • RD

    1. Cyprus
    2. Israel
    3. Sweden
    4. Germany
    5. Moldova
    6. Norway
    7. Ireland
    8. Lithuania
    9. Ukraine
    10. Australia
    11. Bulgaria
    12. France
    13. Hungary
    14. Czech Republic
    15. Albania
    16. Italy
    17. Austria
    18. Denmark
    19. Portugal
    20. Estonia
    21. Serbia
    22. Finland
    23. Spain
    24. United Kingdom
    25. The Netherlands
    26. Slovenia

  • Really not too sure this year, expecting Hungary to do well but other than that it’s a struggle to form a confident opinion. Cyprus just looks and feels like so many Armenian/Turkish/Albanian songs that have failed in the past. I couldn’t be backing it at the prices.

    The market’s been the most in-efficient I’ve ever seen it this year, so why not have that continue into the final.

    1. Hungary
    2. Cyprus
    3. Sweden
    4. Israel
    5. Czech
    6. Lithuania
    7.Moldova
    8. Estonia
    9. Italy
    10. Ireland

    Last: Spain

    http://www.cherryanalysts.co.uk/2018/05/eurovision-2018-grand-final/

  • Chewy Wesker

    I’ve jumped ship many a time during this Eurovision season, Israel, Australia, Czech the Netherlands, Estonia, and Norway, now I can happily say I’m with team Cyprus.
    Most of this years songs of mine got hampered by an early draw or a disaster of bad vocal, dodgy dancing or just bad staging. Well all that is, but one, Eleni Foureira seems to have it all fall into place just as the competition goes down the last straight, I kinda feel that this is strongest favourite I’ve encountered In a while,well since maybe “Heroes” and I’m totally convinced it is going to win the competition as there are weakness with a lot of the songs around it in the betting odds and that to me Cyprus is a sure fire winner.
    I like Eleni on the stage she looks and sounds like the real deal, and can see her fit into the Eurovision winner camp with the all the competition winners like Måns Conchita Jamala and Salvador.
    Looking at her she reminds me of the 80s Tv show Charlie’s Angels the catsuit and heels, with the flames sparkling all over it, I remember when I was young I had an evil knievel stunt motor bike and my evil had burners on the side for extra effect, and his suit had the same flames on it, wow the 80s was fun. Now fast forward to 2018 the Eurovision stage minus the LED floor lighting has a kinda retro feel about it and Eleni fits in right at home.
    As much as I love Netta I feel she’s going to lose out to Eleni. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy in a strange way because if anything Eurovision come up trumps for the underdog and maybe Netta can win for plus size girls all over the globe, but tonight my vote goes to the sexy chick with slut drop and all the right moves.
    Rev up the Harley, Evil I’m all aboard with Eleni Foureira!!

    Top ten

    1. Cyprus
    2. France
    3. Lithuania
    4. Germany
    5. Israel
    6. Sweden
    7. Australia
    8. Estonia
    9. Albania
    10. Ireland

    Good luck to all sofabet punters tonight.

  • James

    I can’t remember ever being this befuddled by an ESC at this point, there are genuinely about half a dozen songs I can see winning if it all goes right for them.

    1. Israel
    2. France
    3. Cyprus
    4. Ireland
    5. Sweden
    6. Germany
    7. Ukraine
    8. Australia
    9. Moldova
    10. Netherlands

    As it stands I have Eleni down to do a Sergey and win the televote but lose out with juries due to the generic song and poor vocals. As for who wins the jury vote…well that’s completely beyond me I’m afraid. Oh, and the UK to finish last.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I’ve put tiny investments (£1 each) on Netherlands to come last and Sweden to win.

    Makes it more fun if you have a bit of skin in the game.

    Mostly I’m just looking forward to the show.

    OFF TOPIC
    What snacks / drinks do you have?

    I haven’t prepared anything. I’m about to go and get a big bar of Rum ‘n’ Raisin chocolate, some ginger snap biscuits, a carrot cake and some tortilla chips (cheesey). For drinking I have squeezed a small crate of fresh oranges that I bought cheap at the market and also plenty of tea (I no longer drink alcohol).

    Happy munching everyone. Share your comestibles below.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I’m surprised by the number of people who rate France. I can’t see it doing anything at all.

  • Donald

    Thanks Daniel for great superb coverage this week as always.

    When not 100% sure stick with Daniel my motto.

    I think Hungary could surprise tonight like Lordi some year ago but not quiet win.

    Lithuania is a great song and performer while Cyprus has had mostly all of the momentum all week it doesn’t seem to have displaced Israel enough to actually get over the line and performs after Israel tonight. Israel will either shine or fail from that slot in my opinion, that the chance taken.

    My top 10 for tonight.

    Israel,
    Hungary,
    Cyprus,
    Lithuania,
    Moldova,
    Ireland,
    Sweden,
    Estonia,
    Czech,
    Germany.

    Good luck to all and enjoy the show.

  • Stoney

    Plenty of money coming for the Irish. Can see this going pretty short by the time hes sung

  • Anglia Chu

    1 Cyprus
    2 France
    3 Israel
    4 Ireland
    5 Hungary
    6 Germany
    7 Lithuania
    8 Czech Republic
    9 Sweden
    10 Norway

  • I’ve been very quiet on the Eurovision betting commentary front this season but have been quietly been putting money down here and there.

    In short, I never have and still don’t believe in Israel’s winning chances. Netta’s live performance has completely failed to re-create the magic of the excellent music video, just as Gabbani failed to re-create the magic of his – or even his San Remo performance. I think Israel’s pre-show hype and favourite status has fizzled out with little fanfare as rehearsals have come and gone while the moths flock to a new flame, namely a Fuego.

    Nobody could have seen Cyprus coming like this because we’ve had several songs like it entering the contest, and even when I saw the second rehearsal clip on Youtube I thought it was good enough to get top 5 in the same sense as LoveWave in 2016. The dancing however is incredible, the screen effects add little to the overall performance. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but one of the few things I did write this season on Sofabet is that ultimately, something more normal than Israel will win. I just thought it might have been Australia instead.

    What we’re seeing here is a winner without any significant semantics or societal lessons to draw from. It’s utterly, refreshingly meaningless beyond the simple facts that Fuego is an internationally chart-worthy banger with a sensational, sexy as hell performance, and that’s enough.

    The way Australia has been so brutally undersold from rehearsal reports though has been a major gripe for me this year. I initially wrote off Jess because of Sea of Flags, and was since led on to think she’s gotten better as a live performer. While that isn’t necessarily the case, to describe her performance to be so bad that the odds should peak at over 450 on Betfair Exchange is nothing short of appalling analysis from all the present press and bloggers. With my expectations of her crushed, she enormously exceeded them on Thursday and her song has done well in downloads. Her vocal is nervy, uncontrolled and highly inconsistent, yes, but isn’t badly off key or lacking power. She held it together well enough for it to make no difference to people without such high and specific expectations. Namely, the juries and mass viewing public. Her dress isn’t particularly flattering but some comments about her figure and whether or not she should be dancing because of it have been quite vile. The strobe lights at the back add great impact to her performance, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to her land a top 5 finish tonight and would still put her ahead of “Bojana-on-speed” Israel.

    Norway and the Netherlands have ended up being the let-downs for me, although this hoo-hah about Waylon’s staging is the worst kind of SJW shittiness. People who’ve never experienced racial oppression expressing outrage at semiotics that are suggestive of it on said oppressed people’s behalf is demeaning and counter-productive, and that’s all I’ll say on that matter.

    Anyway with 8 minutes to go before showtime, I won’t offer a top 3 or 5, but Cyprus have got this sewn up, purely because it’s the best live performance with a very good chartworthy song. Juries will recognise the same gut feeling about it that televoters will have. Simple as that. I’ll quite happily win a mere 30 pounds if/when Cyprus win, but I haven’t been able to lay off the money I sunk into Australia and I think she’s going to show some punters that a studio-perfect vocal isn’t necessary to do well. If miracles happen, there’s a lovely pot’o’gold at the end of that rainbow for me. I’m also set to break even in the event of a by-default Swedish win, but I don’t think this year is going to be a dead heat like 2016. Good luck to everyone else.

  • Ben Cook

    1 Cyprus
    2 Israel
    3 Sweden
    4 Norway
    5 France
    6 Lithuania
    7 Australia
    8 Estonia
    9 Moldova
    10 Bulgaria
    11 Germany
    12 Ireland
    13 Ukraine
    14 Albania
    15 Czech Republic
    16 Hungary
    17 Austria
    18 Italy
    19 Finland
    20 Netherlands
    21 Spain
    22 Denmark
    23 United Kingdom
    24 Serbia
    25 Portugal
    26 Slovenia

  • Jessica Hamby

    Israel’s odds continuing to drift during the first song.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Commiserations to everyone who has the UK to come last.

  • annie

    Just (even…) before the stage invasion I was writing here that I changed my mind, Surie is coming across truly well, and Spain on the other hand bombed like nothing can save them from last place. now I say this is cemented.

  • Johan Engel

    What did the guy who took the microphone said? Uk will probably sing again…

  • Charlie

    We heard him say uk and freedom. He sounded Scottish so perhaps someone wanting independence for Scotland? Or Brexit nonsense.

  • Stoney

    Oh dear uk getting a chance to repeat a dire song for a second time. Guarantees us not finishing last.

  • Chrisr

    Imagine the backstage chat right now, go again or don’t…. cases for both.

    • Jessica Hamby

      If she wants to win she has to go again. She can remind everyone of what happened first time, nail the performance a second time, validation, vindication, bravery, sympathy vote. She’d be mad to throw it away.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Cyprus and Ireland still shortening.

    Israel and France still drifting.

    UK gone massively shorter – now shorter than Estonia and trading about equivalent with Lithuania and France. If SuRie gets to sing again this could go crazy.

    If you went on her when she was 250/1 or whatever then now is the time to make some money.

    • Stoney

      The crazy thing is she has absolutely no chance of finishing above Ryback

      • Jessica Hamby

        You would have thought not but crowd sentiment is a funny thing. If she sings again, nails it and makes herself cry at the end then anything can happen.

      • annie

        ryback was an inch better then in the semi, but is still as boring as…..whatever this year. his fan base carried him out from that semi…

  • Johan Engel

    She was already pretty good. The invasion made her even better! I don’t think she needs a re-run. (Although she should get one like Spain 2010 if i remember correct)

  • Chrisr

    im not too concerned, the song is still pony, and there will be about 14 reminder vt segments in the vote time of every song…. plus…. there was no invader for the jury perf.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I love that Brian choreographed this. He said that he loved working with Saara didn’t he.

  • Chrisr

    We would need to win the televote to top 10 in my opinion

  • Jessica Hamby

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Moldova. It’s totally “Oooh where’s me trousers” but the weirdest thing is that the song is actually really catchy and would probably come across better if they didn’t have the choreography.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Could Hungary be the turd in the punchbowl? I’m really enjoying this.

    (which doesn’t quite sound right – but I think you’ll know what I mean)

  • Jessica Hamby

    Just seen more of the stage invasion during SuRie’s performance on the Daily Mail website. I didn’t realise the guy actually touched her and grabbed the mic out of her hand. That must have been terrifying. God knows what went through her mind. No wonder she doesn’t want to perform again. Fair play to her. No criticism from me and apologies if it came across that way.

  • Tom

    Don’t watch DV, but I watched Israel’s by accident. It looked like a weirdly dressed doll singing in a plastic playhouse, but on LSD.

  • Charlie

    Is it just me or does Netta say mother fucking beat?

    • Tpfkar

      Yeah that’s what I heard – subtitles said different though. We loved Israel and Moldova, but thought 3 most credible were France, Germany, Cyprus.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Every time I see Eleni I think “one for the dads”.

  • Tim C

    Having watched them all, I won’t change my predictions, but I’d suggest:
    – Lithuania had better connection (and was more memorable) than I thought it would be
    – Netherlands was well presented
    – I still cannot understand the fuss about Ireland. It’s mediocre.
    – Israel was.. worse even than I expected (but it will still get the crazy/gimmick vote)
    – Austrailia was very well put across
    – The UK may well get a few votes now, because of her professionalism during that…

    • Jessica Hamby

      Agree about Ireland.

      Mind you, I think he was trying too hard with his vocals instead of letting the song and the dancers do the work.

      What makes it special is two men expressing affection through dance. Despite all the progress that’s been made over the last 10 years, doing that is still shocking. It would have been less noteworthy if the dance had represented them cottaging but to show men unashamedly in love… *clutches pearls*

  • Will L

    Cyprus were distinctly average. Not sure what the fuss is all about tbh. Will be laying them till the cows come home now.

    • I don’t get Cyprus one bit either, it’s like the female version of Sweden for me, very competent but not in a 100 years would I correctly guess it as the favourite

  • annie

    this was a weird eurovision for me.
    So many songs came across very differently than I anticipated or they did in the semis.
    some examples:
    ++stronger : uk, albania, netherlands, israel, italy, moldova, ireland, slovenia, checz,bulgaria
    — weaker:cyprus, germany, france, lithuania, spain, australia, finland

    I have no idea what will happen.

  • eurovicious

    Sofabet readers: Surie manifested organic elements, showed vulnerability, went on a journey and triumphantly overcame darkness, amirite???

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha 😀

  • Charlie

    We really liked the Italy song apart from the very last bit when he got a bit screechy. We don’t vote though so its no indicator of who will win.
    Have to say after everything being said
    I was disappointed by hungary and Moldova (first time we’ve heard the songs.) Netherlands was better than expected.
    Can’t see past israel winning it really.

  • Jessica Hamby

    If the betting trends are anything to go by then it looks like Israel, Estonia and Germany are the ones to watch.

    UK are getting a lot of support for top 10 and even top 5 finish. Well done to anyone who backed them when they were rank outsiders. Hope you cashed in on the exchanges.

  • Tpfkar

    I’d lay the UK for top 10/5. All jury votes locked, and although there will be sympathy, stronger emotions and loyalties are in play, and far better songs later in order.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Here. We. Go. 🙂

  • Jessica Hamby

    Slovenia are not going to come last.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Did anyone see Austria making a big hit with the juries?

  • Charlie

    Austria?!Really? The world has officially gone mental.

  • Jessica Hamby

    The Netherlands are not coming last either.

  • Jessica Hamby

    It’s surely over for Cyprus. I can’t see them or Austria competing with Netta when the public votes are announced.

  • Charlie

    It should be weighted 60/40 to the public vote. The judges should give a score out of 10 after each song and work out a scoring system from that.

  • Anglia Chu

    The public vote shook everything. Austria and Sweden flopped in the televote

  • Jessica Hamby

    It’s funny. After all the different favourites it ended right back where it started.

  • annie

    but please, someone explain austria to me…i just can´t …

    • Jessica Hamby

      Industry experts. People who will never vote for a Moldova and will always go for slick, professional, highly polished product.

      You can send a “dude where’s my trousers?” comedy act if you like but the EBU want to make sure it ain’t winning. Can’t make the show a laughing stock.

  • Johan Engel

    Norway won sf2!

  • 360

    Really did not call Austria being a big hit OR Sweden flopping with audience to that extent! Shame Ireland didn’t take off and also that Surie didn’t get much sympathy vote at all!

  • Charlie

    Thank fuck for that. Israel winning saw me right. It looked like it was going horribly wrong. If Italy had made top four i’d have been running naked down the high street. Probably best they didn’t.

  • New thread for the aftermath. Hope it went well for everybody.

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