Eurovision Betting Analysis: Can Blue Win Eurovision 2011 for the UK?

Blue became the latest act to challenge for Eurovision 2011 favouritism ahead of the official unveiling of their song ‘I Can’ on the BBC’s Graham Norton Show. At the time of writing they can be backed at odds of 8.2 on Betfair to win it for the UK.

The song leaked briefly on youtube today via Eurovision messageboards, so without having seen the live performance we can at least assess the studio version. Blue promised us a modern, “anthemic” ballad. Have they delivered something worthy of the hype?

‘I Can’ is a slick, shrewd song which I can see scoring well. It ticks plenty of Eurovision boxes: it’s a well-structured, immediate, contemporary, mid-tempo pop number.

The verses build nicely. There’s an excellent pre-chorus refrain that creates a good transition into the main part of the song. The chorus contains a strong, simple lyrical message about overcoming adversity that the whole of Europe can understand and that is appropriate for the band’s comeback effort.

The production is very modern – it sounds like something you’d find in the charts by any one of numerous R’n’B artists (Jason Derulo is just the first one that springs to mind). It has also been written to complement their different vocal styles and abilities. For example, Duncan starts us off with the least demanding opening section, and Lee will provide the higher-pitched oomph towards the end.

You can easily imagine listening to this on the radio. You can easily imagine it being in the UK Top Ten. Today. That’s something that cannot be said about virtually any other Eurovision 2011 entry unveiled so far.

When it was announced that Blue would be representing the UK, the arguments raged about whether they were best characterised as has-beens or pop royalty. A case can be made either way, but on this evidence they know their onions. The song does exactly what it needs to over three minutes without trying to do to much and running the risk of over-reaching.

National juries should, on what we know about their voting habits so far, be scoring this very highly. Televoters will be faced with the prospect of four good-looking lads who can sing well enough emoting into the camera.

Now for the “but”. I have four main qualifications.

First off, more than two people providing lead vocals and harmonising does not have a good record in recent Eurovisions. It’s been 30 years since ‘Making Your Mind Up’. Amazingly, no Blue-style boyband or their female equivalent has won the contest since the mid-80s.

My second qualification is that “ticking all the boxes” can be criticism as well as praise. This is a safe song, not necessarily a standout one with a touch of magic. I see it scoring well, but do I see televoters picking up their phones in droves as they did for say Alexander Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’? Maybe not.

Thirdly, as David pointed out in his comment earlier this week, Germany’s win last year has arguably led some punters to forget that countries like the UK don’t have many natural televoting allies across Europe. For that reason Blue needs all the other help it can get.

Which brings me to my final caveat. This is another song, like the French one, that would greatly benefit from a good draw. Just like I wrote about Amaury Vassili’s ‘Sognu’, if you put it near the end with a few forgettable upbeat numbers before it, then it will stand out for televoters. Near the beginning, and it will have less impact.

Just like France, of course, the UK is one of the Big 5, so their position in the final running order will be determined next Tuesday. If the same system is used as in previous years, one of the Big 5 will have a “wildcard” enabling them to choose a plum spot (as the Germans did for Lena last year, who performed 22nd of the 25 acts). I’ll have more to say about the chances of both Vassili and Blue here on Sofabet after the draw.

For now, though, I think that UK Eurovision fans – and the punters who have backed Blue down towards the head of the market – actually do have some cause for hope of a decent showing. It’s easy to dismiss Blue as a washed-up quartet who’ve been out of sight and out of mind since 2004, but let’s also not forget this is a band that has sold 13 million records across Europe and it’s up against a pretty poor selection of competing songs so far.

[Update: Here is that first live performance of ‘I can’.] What do you think – will Europe be feeling Blue, or will the UK be feeling blue?

9 comments to Eurovision Betting Analysis: Can Blue Win Eurovision 2011 for the UK?

  • Rob

    I agree with your analysis, Daniel. I can see this Blue song doing very well (with juries and on the televote). I notice the forums have generally been very positive about the song. But, as you say, the draw is going to be critical. Like France, if it gets a very early slot it’s chance will be massively compromised. I don’t know how this ‘wildcard’ is decided but if either of France or the UK get it, it will put them in the box-seat – assuming they know their ESC history and they choose a similar slot to the one the German delegation picked for Lena last year. Given Germany had the wildcard last year, is it fair to assume they won’t get it this year, or is it completely random between the big 5?

  • Daniel

    Hi Rob, the “wildcard” is drawn randomly from the 5 automatic finalists. In 2008 it went to the host nation and previous year’s winner Serbia (who chose the 23rd slot out of 25), in 2009 to Spain (25th in the running order), and in 2010 to Germany. For those who believe that everyone gets their turn, France, UK or Italy are due. Either way, the draw at noon GMT on Tuesday is going to have serious repercussions on the win market.

  • Eloise

    Agree that draw position is absolutely critical here, and having been unlucky enough to have been drawn to perform in the cursed “number 2” slot in 2002, 2005 and 2008, it’s high time the UK got a decent slot again. Last year’s top 4 had performed 22nd, 14th, 19th and last, and this theme is well evidenced over past Eurovisions, so fingers crossed for a later slot xx

  • John

    Did someone say this was live? OMG! Rule one never hold a microphone directly in front of your mouth if singing “live”! Rule two don’t keep it there when you don’t know when to come in! Rule three learn the backing track and know when you can “sing”! This was mimed! Great song, but let’s admit this was NOT live! The Eurovision performance will have to be better than this if the UK are to win!!

  • David

    I’m not a musician, but I still don’t understand why it wouldn’t be live? It sounds completely different from the recorded version, at least.

  • jiannis

    well for what is worth the one think i remember from this song is like obama s”” yes we can””…must be a course on good songs around but only crap goes to eurovision…pity…

  • Popeye

    since Eurovision votes are “Friendship” votes
    we can’t expect the best song to be placed in the right position… again we will see Sweden voting Norway, Cyprus voting Greece etc..

  • James

    Popeye: I totally agree, friendless countries like Germany will never win again, that’s for sure. 😉

  • Nick

    So why did Germany win last song contest??? sook sook sook UK

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