Eurovision 2012 Betting: Will Denmark regret ‘Should’ve Known Better’?

The Betfair win market suggests the Danish entry is the strongest one of the six songs selected so far, being available to back at 17.0 and lay at 17.5 at the time of writing. The country has selected ‘Should’ve Known Better’, sung by Soluna Samay – here’s the winning performance in the Danish national final if you haven’t seen it.

Denmark certainly merits respect from punters given their excellent recent record in the contest – fifth in 2011 and fourth in 2010. This is highly respectable given that Denmark does not have a wide range of friendly votes to rely on.

The Danes have a reputation for selecting middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly pop. This tends to divide opinion among Eurovision fans, but juries have seemed more consistently positive. Since the return to a 50/50 televoting/national jury split in 2009, Denmark has form figures of 6-7-3 with the jury vote, which is pretty impressive in a field of 25.

‘Should’ve Known Better’ fits into the mould of typical Danish entries. It’s a pleasant, mid-tempo number with a folksy touch. You can quite easily imagine hearing it on your radio. Soluna is pretty, too. But will it continue Denmark’s fine record in the contest?

First of all, we should deal with the question of qualification. Many Eurovision watchers have drawn comparisons between Samay’s song and the Swedish entry of 2010, which was a shock non-qualifier (incidentally, those who followed our X Factor 2011 coverage here on Sofabet will watch back this video with a fresh perspective – could it possibly be that red-and-black lighting has a vote-depressing effect in Eurovision?).

The comparisons come because Sweden 2010 also featured a girl with a guitar – in this case Anna Bergendahl. Will Soluna suffer the same fate? I don’t think so, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I think Soluna has a voice that’s easier to like. It’s purer and less niche than Anna’s.

To be fair to Bergendahl, she was rather unlucky to be badly drawn in a strong semi heavy on solo female vocalists, and still only just fell short. And this is the second reason why I think Samay will fare better – Denmark has been given a draw in the second half in what at this very early stage looks likely to be the weaker of the two semi-finals.

I’d be surprised to see it score less than the three other entries so far selected for this heat – Cyprus (Ivi Adamou with ‘La La Love’), Albania (Rona Nishliu with ‘Suus’) and Switzerland (Sinplus with ‘Unbreakable’). That leaves only 14 other entries, and some of them – such as Latvia – have revealed a weak selection of possible songs. A top ten finish in this heat looks easily possible already.

This is partly because I think Denmark’s good record with juries will continue, at least in the semi-final, and here’s why. In the heats, with a weaker and smaller selection of songs to choose from, it’s easier for competently-performed, middle-of-the-road entries to pick up decent points across the board, both from televoters and national juries. Denmark’s 2008 entry, fourth in its semi, is one example of televoters doing this.

A more recent example I would cite is Iceland’s entry last year, third with the juries and fourth overall in the weaker semi. ‘Should’ve Known Better’ is a better song than these two in my opinion, and certainly more contemporary.

I have another more speculative theory about why juries will reward Samay’s song, at least in the semi-final, and I can continue to use Iceland’s 2011 entry as a case in point. It is a generalisation, but I think juries tend to reward songs where instruments are apparently being played on stage. Ironically, any instrumentation in a Eurovision song has to be included on the backing track, so their appearance is superfluous in practical terms. But it gives a superficial impression of musicianship that juries seem to like.

Take a look at two more examples from 2011: I believe Raphael Gualazzi’s piano playing was a major factor in Italy’s runaway victory in last year’s jury vote, while Denmark’s good showing may also have also been helped by the appearance of the band with their instruments.

There are a few minor things I would alter about the way that ‘Should’ve Known Better’ was staged in the Danish final – Samay’s outfit needs to change and I’d ditch the sofa – but they got one thing crucially right. The use of the drums, cello and piano on stage was extremely effective because it reinforced the excellent use of these instruments in the arrangement of the song.

And here’s another way that Denmark 2012 may do girl-with-guitar in a more effective manner than Sweden 2010. The guitars are just props, but it was painfully obvious this was the case for Anna Bergendahl – she ditched it pretty quickly. Samay should make sure she keeps on strumming, as she did in the Danish final.

As a final contrast between the two, Bergendahl’s lyrics were rather self-congratulatory whereas Samay’s story of regret is more palatable and suitable for this kind of song.

So, I would be surprised if Samay suffers Bergendahl’s fate of non-qualification. But how do I think ‘Should’ve Known Better’ will get on in the final? It’s here the song’s shortcomings in the context of the competition may come into play. This is what I think they are.

First and foremost, among 26 finalists competing for attention, it’s a song that could easily be forgotten by televoters, especially if it happens to get an early draw. Ultimately, pleasant though the song is, I think it’s too middle-of-the-road to motivate significant numbers to vote for it in a Eurovision final.

Secondly, it’s not the kind of song that tends to travel particularly well outside western Europe, especially when there should be much else on offer that is more likely to appeal to these televoters.

In two of the last three finals Denmark’s placing with the juries has been significantly higher than with televoters. In 2009, ‘Believe Again’ was 20th with televoters and 6th with jurors, to finish 13th overall. In 2011, ‘A New Tomorrow’ was 18th with televoters, 3rd with jurors, to finish 5th overall. The exception was the classic anthemic Eurovision cheese of ‘In A Moment Like This’ in 2010, which had the added benefit of being drawn last, and came third with televoters, seventh with jurors for fourth place overall.

At this very early stage, I envisage that Samay’s result is more likely to be – as were Denmark’s 2009 and 2011 placings – rather jury-dependent. Significant jury support could see it get into the Top 10, but without it, ‘Should’ve Known Better’ will most likely fall short of that landmark. It’s not something I’ll be willing to bet on either way at this stage, despite my theory about juries responding well to instruments on stage.

What do you think of the Danish entry, and the ideas I have raised here? Agree or disagree? Do let us know in the comments section below.

14 comments to Eurovision 2012 Betting: Will Denmark regret ‘Should’ve Known Better’?

  • taichou

    the song is great! i would change the outfit too… but i dont think they can win it.. its not so catchy… and catchy songs win votes from eastern part of europe…Unless they reveal that her grandfather/mother were Russians/Serbians or whatever:)

  • Donald

    Nice song but no kick!

  • justin

    Daniel, pretty much agree with your analysis in that this represents exactly what we have come to expect from the Danish entry in recent years. Its another safe contemporary Eurovision friendly number.

    Clearly Denmark’s televote in the final last was hugely disappointing but as you say with a favourable draw the year before they did much better. Indeed when drawn last in their semi last year they finished a creditable 4th in the televote. I think we can attribute some of the poor televote performance in the final to the dreadful draw.

    According to wikipedia Soluna has a German father and Swiss mother and was born in Guatemala Not sure if this will help a great deal. Daniel do you have or utilise any helpful stats on the effect of origin of performers in voting patterns?

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, agree with you on all this, though I don’t think ‘Should’ve Known Better’ has as much immediate impact as their 2011 and 2010 entries, lovely song though it is. Last year it was indeed a very poor draw for A Friend In London which impacted their televote.

      Good question on the origin of performers and the impact it has. I do note it where known but don’t compile any stats. The most famous example is Bulgaria’s 12 points to German girl group ‘No Angels’ (who only scored 14 in total) in 2008 – one member being Bulgarian and a talent show judge in her home country. This allowed them not to finish last as many had predicted.

      It can boil down to if the national broadcaster mentions these origins during the show. I believe much was made by the Portuguese commentator of Greece 2010’s lead singer being half-Portuguese, hence the 8 points from Portugal to Greece that year.

  • Boki

    I also find this song not memorable enough, it’s nice but 2010/2011 were standing out much more. At this early stage it depends on other songs to be chosen but it’s not a certain qualifier to me.

    Also, would people notice and react (and how) on the fact that one verse is ‘borrowed’ from another popular song?

    Everything But The Girl
    ‘And I miss you – like the deserts miss the rain’

    ‘Now I miss you, like Sahara miss the rain’

  • Excellent analysis. I mostly agree, but I think it’ll do relatively well in the final, though not necessarily top 10 by any means. I agree that its success will be quite heavily jury-dependent, but importantly, it has the Disney teen-pop, country-lite Hannah Montana factor which could go far.

    As to it being too MOR for people to vote for it, not sure I agree with this point – all too often these days, MOR is what does well in Eurovision. Case in point, 2009: Fairytale and Is It True? (neither of which I’m a fan of, let’s just say) were in a field containing many more interested entries. Arguably, they did so well, garnered so many votes and took the top two positions precisely because they were MOR, “nice” and had broad appeal. Never estimate the “oh, that’s nice” vote…

  • Tim B

    It’s a great song! And the best of a bad bunch in my opinion. I see it as the only contender for the win so far. Most of the songs released so far I see as borderline qualifiers but this one stands out as catchy and immediate.

  • Thoughts on this weekend…

    Iceland: good, very good in fact, folky, ballady and a very Norse feel while also broad enough appeal for a lot of people to like it. Needs to be kept in Icelandic to work. The early draw in SF1 will endanger it so it’s in danger of doing a Kuunkuiskaajat. If it qualifies and gets a late draw, could do pretty well.

    Hungary: will get nowhere due to the song’s unremarkableness and (mainly) Hungary’s lack of voting partners. I like it, but it’ll need a good, appropriate stage show. Will still get nowhere though :/

    Malta: ditto. I like it a lot but it’s too unremarkable and mainstream. Will go under. Proto-dubstep breakdown in the middle-eight is jarring and frankly unnecessary.

    Norway: looking very good indeed. More Popular than Haba Haba. Some seem to think that it’ll be this year’s “fan favourite that doesn’t qualify”, but it’s not Haba Haba, Vampires Are Alive, If I Had Your Love or any of those. It’s pumping, pulsing, contemporary, trans-European and Saade-y. Expect high points from the rest of Scandinavia and the televote as a whole; will not do terribly with juries either as it’s serious, driven club pop, not cheesy. I see this potentially top 5.

  • Clever analysis, particularly the bits about playing instruments on-stage and the nuances of draw order.
    One possible advantage she may have is that she has been busking across Europe since she was five. This appeared to influence her win in Denmark, where the judges had placed her second (behind “our hearts”), but the popular vote was wildly different (an unusual event in Denmark, apparently), pushing her into the lead. It may be that this wide fan base (she’s gotten almost 2 million views on youtube: far more than any of the other contenders) will work in her favor during the voting in Baku.
    That said, I do wish that the song had just a little more of an additional twist to it. The musicians are great, the song is nice, but it risks not being quite edgy enough.
    On a related note, where are the strongest songs predicted to emerge from? I haven’t been very impressed with most of the competition so far.

    • Daniel

      Hi Jake, and many thanks for your kind comments. After some of the selections this weekend, I’m revising slightly downwards my expectations of how strong the field will be. Nonetheless, perhaps the most eagerly awaited song for punters is the return of 2004 runner-up Zeljko Joksimovic for Serbia.

      Some of the other big hitters may also produce strong entries. Turkish singer Can Bonomo could reveal something interesting this coming Wednesday, whilst in Greece, Universal records are in effect sponsoring the Greek entry and I doubt they will want a dud on their hands. These are the three I am looking forward to most. Fans are also very excited by the prospect of Loreen representing Sweden after she won the first heat there.

  • “After some of the selections this weekend, I’m revising slightly downwards my expectations of how strong the field will be.” <- LOL, how diplomatically/euphemistically put! I feel exactly the same. In Germany, Ukraine and Latvia, the same thing happened: the best song came second and a poor or poorer song came first. Ditto Georgia, where although there wasn't a standout entry, 2-3 good rock songs were beaten by a dire novelty act.

    I guess the upside is that a mix of really good and really bad songs makes our job easier… but it also affects odds, ie. a split of blatantly bad songs on the one hand and brilliant ones on the other makes the results easier for novices as well as us experts, so therefore we have less of an advantage over the bookies and other punters.

    I have to say, I quite like Croatia and it could score well among the ex-Yu countries. However, with all the ex-Yu countries being in the same semi apart from Montenegro (which, as such and given the nature of the song, I think is a dead cert to go out), the Yugo vote could be very split.

    People seem to be getting very excited about Loreen – but don't forget, we haven't had Danny Saucedo yet…

  • Emma

    Late to the party, but I’ve been listening to this song more and more and I’ve come to a conclusion: it’s not going to do as well as predicted. A bad draw could damn it into oblivion–I agree that it could be easily forgotten. And yes, it’s aptly performed and there are instruments onstage but did anyone watch DMGP? Because three of the four international juries favored another song–Soluna won based on televotes. The one jury who DID favor her over Jesper Nohrstedt and his clean mainstream pop (not totally unlike New Tomorrow) was the Azerbaijani jury and with Turkey sending a half-decent song and no doubt making the final, it doesn’t look like Denmark can count on the Azerbaijani douze. I’m always a little skeptical of songs that win the local televote and not the international jury vote–This is My Life was such a song, as was another Swedish flop: La Voix. Perhaps Soluna is more talented than Anna and Malena and Danes have better and more mainstream taste than the Swedes, but to me, this still sends up red flags.

    And you’re right, Soluna is pretty. But that’s all. I can’t speak for drunken horny male of Europe but I don’t think her performance (as it was in DMGP) will inspire too many appearance-based televotes. Unlike many other pretty female singers, she’s not wearing anything more revealing than a v-neck and her kooky clothes–fringed shoulder pads, the cute little cap, non-tight pants and flat shoes–won’t have anyone excited like they were by Maja Keuc and her metal dress and boots last year.

    This is just a random theory, I wouldn’t put much stock in it. But I think placing Denmark ahead of Serbia in the final is a big mistake–the latter has big friends and a big name. The televoters could forget about it and the juries could be indifferent

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