Eurovision 2013: What kind of year is it?

Eurovision years vary wildly in character. Just compare this year’s contest with last year’s: while 2012 was widely perceived as a remarkably strong year by fans and casual viewers alike (especially once the larger-than-usual crop of terrible novelty songs had been filtered out in the semis), the consensus on 2013 – based on polls and online comments – is that it’s the weakest year in a while.

While last year’s contest stood out for its strong, artistic ballads and credible, commercial upbeat numbers, 2013 has turned out to be the year of bland Disney ballads and bad dubstep breakdowns. What does this mean for those of us having a flutter? To get a handle on what kind of year 2013 is and what this augurs, we need to look at the 2009 to 2012 contests, how accurate the market was in each case and how the contests themselves played out.

First, let’s look at the points breakdown in the final for these four years.

I’ve arranged the four pie charts in this order so that you can compare the difference horizontally and the similarity vertically. Basically, 2009 and 2012 look a lot like each other, as do 2010 and 2011, but these two groups look very different to each other, despite the same voting system of 50% jury, 50% televote being employed in all four years. (If you don’t see what I mean, look at the top-right quarter of each pie and the right-hand half in general. The top-placed entries won a far greater percentage of the points in 2009 and 2012.)

From the moment Fairytale and Euphoria resoundingly won their respective national finals, Rybak with over 700,000 televotes and Loreen with over 600,000, they became strong market favourites at short odds, held off all other competition in the market right up to the final, and ultimately ran away with victory, notching up the two highest-ever winning scores and each taking over 15% of the overall points total. In 2012, the market as a whole was highly accurate with some exceptions, while in 2009 it was also largely accurate.

In 2010 and 2011, where the points were more evenly distributed and the victories more narrow, neither winning song was the favourite. In both of these years, the song that had been the longstanding favourite right up to contest week – Drip Drop and Sognu respectively – failed to even crack the top 4, Sognu in particular failing spectacularly. The songs that did win were more “default” winners, taking much lower points totals of only around 10% of all points. And in both 2010 and (especially) in 2011, the market was majorly off on a variety of fronts.

The following graph highlights further how the victories of Satellite and Running Scared differ fundamentally from those of Fairytale and Euphoria.

What’s most of interest here is that the two impressive wins were the favourites and the two unimpressive wins weren’t, and that the market as a whole was much less accurate in the years the points were more evenly spread. Looking at why each year’s favourite was the favourite, we find further differences. Fairytale and Euphoria both rode a wave of huge buzz and massive popularity; Drip Drop and Sognu simply didn’t. They were, to put it bluntly, favourites in lieu of anything else.

It’s important to remember that most people betting on Eurovision are fans to a greater or lesser degree, with casual punters only jumping on board on the night of the final; the market is thus heavily driven by these fans’ bets and inevitably their personal tastes. Fairytale and Euphoria were hugely popular among fans from the moment they were first performed, Drip Drop and Sognu weren’t – but neither were actual winners Satellite and Running Scared (especially the latter). How did we end up with these false favourites in 2010 and 2011?

Drill deeper and we find further differences between these two years. In 2010, given Azerbaijan’s success in the two previous contests, its determination to win, and the quality and commercial nature of the song, Drip Drop being the favourite over Germany’s leftfield Lena is entirely understandable. And indeed, as soon as Azerbaijan was drawn as the opening song of the final, with Germany performing close to the end, Lena duly snook past at the final hour to become the new favourite.

But in 2011, how did the market get it so wrong with Sognu and Running Scared? How in the name of Svante Stockselius did a Corsican-language popera song performed by a greasy-haired Frenchman remain as favourite over a song which was clearly far more contemporary and radio-friendly, and with more chemistry, warmth, visual impact and much broader appeal? It’s easy to forget this was just two years ago, and that’s one of the reasons why I want to examine the major inaccuracies of the 2011 market further, as it is an important precedent.

Behind Sognu, which finished 15th, other leading favourites of the 2011 market included Estonia’s Rockefeller Street – at one point even the overall favourite – Norway’s Haba Haba and Hungary’s What About My Dreams, plus Jedward, Blue, Sweden, Azerbaijan, and Russia’s Alexei Vorobyov. Of these, only Sweden and Azerbaijan ended up on the podium, and only they and Jedward made the top 10.

Haba Haba, at one point second-favourite, failed to qualify; What About My Dreams, which had risen to fourth-favourite, finished 22nd, two places above the highly thought-of Rockefeller Street in 24th. In short, the 2011 final market was a dog’s breakfast – bookmakers and punters were all over the place. This was the same in the first semifinal, where the qualification of Iceland, Lithuania and Switzerland over Turkey, Norway and Armenia was widely seen as a major shock.

In both the final and the semifinals, the importance of the jury, and of being contemporary and credible, seemed to have been forgotten; fan tastes had propelled songs that were never going to do well, songs that could only exist in the Eurovision bubble, to unrealistic market heights.

This contrasts hugely with 2012, where things played out largely as the market had predicted, the most notable exception being the surprise failure of Denmark, Iceland and Norway and the (to some) surprise success of Albania and Estonia. Again, fluttering fans had overvalued entries (from Scandinavia, surprise surprise) that could only exist in the Eurovision bubble and never stood a real chance outside of it, while undervaluing tremendously performed ballads that were too un-Eurovisiony and Eastern European for their taste.

The phenomenon of “fanwank” isn’t just about a single beloved entry being erroneously high in the market, like Kate Ryan in 2006 or DJ Bobo in 2007 (or Valentina Monetta in 2013); fan tastes skew the entire market to a greater (2011) or lesser (2012) degree.

Looking at these major differences in market accuracy in recent years, coupled with very different patterns in the overall spread of votes, what can we extrapolate to 2013? Let’s look at the current market top 5: Denmark, Ukraine, Norway, Russia and the Netherlands.

Only Teardrops has remained a strong favourite since being chosen and has now been at incredibly short odds for some weeks. However, it’s not comparable with Fairytale or Euphoria on a number of fronts. It wasn’t the favourite to win its national final, and when it won DMGP in January, relatively early on in the national final season, it wasn’t widely expected to remain the favourite right until May. The assumption was that something better would come along.

The perception that nothing has helps explain its accelerated shortening in price once all the songs were chosen. It’s certainly not because of pan-European buzz; it made an unimpressive dent in the Swedish iTunes chart after being shown in that country’s preview show.

Ukraine’s rise to second favourite is extremely curious. Gravity won the Ukrainian national final before Christmas and has only recently rocketed up bookmakers’ lists on the back of a reworked version of the song (compositionally identical but with extra polish) and revelations regarding the staging, an area that Ukraine has a very strong track record in.

While Zlata is vocally superb, none of this changes the fact that the song is structurally and lyrically just as all over the place as it was in December, when it was dismissed by many. When a highly problematic song like Ukraine is second-favourite at this stage based largely on vocal prowess and staging, it tells you something is not right about the market. Punters and bookmakers are clutching at straws.

Norway was accompanied by a lot of buzz, was the favourite to win its national final and did so with almost twice as many televotes as its nearest rival. But we’re still only talking around 90,000 votes. Last year, Tooji won with 137,000 televotes – just like Berger, almost twice as many as the song in second place. In other words: no correlation can be drawn between Berger’s domestic victory and potential contest success. The Norwegian song is credible but I question its televote appeal, and these domestic figures would seem to back me up.

Russia is fairly high in the market most years due to its huge diaspora and voting power combined with a strong track record. Dina Garipova is vocally accomplished, but not to the same degree as Zlata or any of the female balladeers from last year’s top ten. Her song is generic and formulaic to the point of self-parody; I can’t remember another leading contender with a similarly insipid number.

Rather than any recent contest entry, it reminds me most of the uninspired, throwaway euroballads and world peace songs that annually clog up national finals from Valetta to Vilnius and only rarely make it to the contest, where – as in the case of Cyprus 2006 – they don’t do well. This being Russia and the singer being competent, I’d argue top 10 is pretty much guaranteed. But it’s not a winner. Ballads need something special to make the podium, full stop. This doesn’t have it.

The Netherlands hasn’t been in the final since 2004 and has extremely low voting power. This is best evidenced by the 2008 contest, in which Armenia and the Netherlands sent extremely similar middle-Eastern-themed dance-pop songs. Qele Qele finished 4th in the final while Your Heart Belongs To Me failed to qualify. Now, the country has sent a female ballad in a year packed with female ballads from countries with far greater voting power.

On top of this, the song is much more esoteric and less accessible than rivals like Russia and Georgia, and without the direct emotional pull of past idiosyncratic ballads like Suus or Magdi Ruzsa’s Unsubstantial Blues. Undoubtedly it will be a jury magnet, but it faces heavy competition on this front, while in the televote, it could easily go under, especially with an early draw. There’s a fair chance of top 10, but it’s certainly not a winner.

Now that I’ve argued the case against each of the present top 5 based on the hypothesis that the market is inaccurate, which songs do I think are currently undervalued? Today’s letter is G – Georgia and Germany.

While Waterfall isn’t as contemporary as Running Scared, has less in the way of hooks, and the performers are older and have less chemistry, I feel that Georgia is being overlooked the way Azerbaijan was in 2011. Georgia made the top 10 in 2010 and 2011, and was only just outside it in 2007 and 2008.

Male-female duos – at least those who look and sound like they’re enjoying themselves, unlike Iceland’s twosome last year – have a strong recent track record, as evidenced by Romania and Denmark both making the top 4 in 2010 and Ell and Nikki winning in 2011. Nodi and Sophie are highly vocally competent, much more so than Ell and Nikki, and the song’s staging is likely to be highly effective and impactful. It’s a jury magnet and a televote magnet, and the most sincere, emotive, uplifting and memorable of this year’s ballads.

Germany is a tricky one. Natalie is a competent performer and sounded great in the arena at the German final, but watching the televised performance, I realise her vocal isn’t quite as strong as I thought it was. But there is a precedent, in years heavy on ballads, for credibly performed and staged upbeat songs to stand out all the more and do very well indeed – witness Eric Saade almost winning the televote and coming 3rd overall in 2011, despite an early draw next to a clutch of other (less credible) upbeat numbers.

There’s the question of whether Glorious is too similar to Euphoria to do well, and whether juries will punish it for this – witness Tooji’s catastrophic failure the year after Eric Saade. But, have you turned on the radio recently? Since 2011, commercial dance music (of the form popularised in the US as electronic dance music and exported to the rest of the world) has denegerated into a homogenous mass of identikit songs.

Glorious sounds like Euphoria, but it also sounds like Swedish House Mafia, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Ryan Dolan, David Lindgren… everything sounds like everything else and people still lap it up in droves. Euphoria faced its own plagiarism claims last year and could accurately be described as a watered-down, schlagered-up version of Delerium’s Silence (Airscape remix); originality has never been Eurovision’s strong point.

As such, Cascada could do better than many anticipate. We can take it as read that Glorious will feature a competent vocal and strong staging, and that Natalie will connect with viewers and communicate the same sense of enjoyment she did in the German final. This could give a ballad-heavy final the kick up the arse it needs, give viewers the fun commercial dance hit they’ve been waiting all night for, and thus attract a major televote plus (as Saade did in 2011 and Gaitana last year) significant jury support.

I could continue to work my way through the market and list the other songs I think are under- and overvalued, but I think I’ve given you enough information for you to be able to do this yourself.

In summary:

  • In previous low-quality years like 2011 with a “default” favourite rather than a runaway favourite, this favourite has been incorrect and much of the rest of market significantly off.
  • In these years, winning margins have been much smaller and points far more spread out. Given the new voting system, I expect this to be the case this year too.
  • Dubious, non-commercial and oddly structured songs at or near the top of the market, like Sognu in 2011 and Gravity in 2013, are a warning sign that the market as a whole may be significantly off.
  • Fan tastes distort the market, creating a bias not just towards outright fanwank but towards Scandinavian entries and songs that appeal to western European ears in general.

What are your thoughts on all these points? Let us know below.

79 comments to Eurovision 2013: What kind of year is it?

  • Daniel

    It seems the images of the graphs are not appearing for some of you. I will try my best to get this fixed asap.

  • Stevo

    Very interesting article and has once again changed my mind on who will win the contest this year! I personally think the winner will be from either Russia,Azerbaijan or Georgia, but I would love to see San Marino or Switzerland win but I highly doubt that will happen.

  • Alexander S.

    Good read, Daniel!
    I would add another G country – Greece, which I think is a very obvious televoting winner in semi 2, and under special but unlikely circumstances, in the final too.

    • eurovicious

      Morning Alex, thanks – I almost added Greece but didn’t want to dilute my argument as I don’t think it has quite as much potential as Georgia and Germany. I do think it will attract a tremendous televote though, combined with enough jury to do pretty well. It’s so fun and different from anything else, and the language barrier isn’t really a barrier given a) the singalong English chorus and b) that sounding so Greek is what makes it good. A precedent is Turkey 2004, another really fun ska song that did extremely well..

  • Peter

    Daniel, always love your posts, so smart, just a joy to read, thanks much for it! I agree with your characterization of the past 4 years, and indeed 2013 seems to be closer to 2010 & 2011. I also agree that Denmark is by far not as strong as the polls and bets make us believe. And Ukraine is a very strange 2nd place for the reasons you mentioned, great performer but just too weird of a song – and not necessarily weird in a good way. The problem that I see is just there is not, at least for now, prior to the rehearsals, that one song that could take over. I love Norway but its not what most people can agree upon. I was very impressed by the Italian performance in Amsterdam. Italy came in second with a much more unusual song in 2011, could this be an Italian win? He will get lots of jury votes but is the song strong enough for the tele voters? I see him doing slightly better than the odds and polls say, that is possibly top 3, but also not a winner. You are right Germany could benefit from the fact that this year is filled with ballads, and my problem is not that Glorious is a copy of Euphoria, but that everything about it, the arrangements, the costumes, the make up, the show, at least so far, is so super generic. Of course one could say the same about Running Scared, but I am still not convinced that this would be enough for a German victory (and you are not suggesting this either), unless perhaps they come up with really fresh ideas for the performance in Malmö. So, at this point, my guess is we will have a new model: less of a clear favorite as in 2009 & 2013, some songs will do much worse than with the polls or odds (San Marino, Ukraine) as you said, and still the relatively weak favorite, Denmark, will eventually make it. What do you think?

    • Daniel

      Thanks for the kind words, Peter and Alexander, the credit goes to eurovicious who wrote the article.

    • eurovicious

      Morning Peter, thanks :). Regarding Italy, his Amsterdam performance screamed “top 10” at me, but we have to bear in mind that Italy and Spain wouldn’t have made the top 10 last year under the new voting system. It’s entirely feasible that Marco could get a similar televote and jury score to Nina and Pastora last year and thus be just outside the top 10.

      Regarding the “new model” – it’s certainly possible, we’ll have to wait and see. Four years isn’t a huge evidence base to go on, so a surprise wouldn’t be a surprise.

      • Peter

        Hey Eurovicious, sorry for the mix-up about who wrote what, typed this late at night 🙂 I love you both! You convinced me with your point about the new voting system, So I will agree with Gert: Denmark, Georgia, and high up there too, hopefully, Norway.

  • Peter

    … just realized I forgot to take Georgia into the picture. Not my cup of tea, but yes, they will do well, well, well, now considering all things just said here, they are the ones most likely to challenge Denmark.

  • Gert

    I do agree that Georgia is a huge favourite to win it. But to say that……Germany can win?? I found the performance in the national final rather lacklustre, frontsinger Natalie looks rather……big and her voice is nasal at times. The performance itself is nothing special. I’d rather like to compare it with Belgium 2004 and Hungary 2011. And if there’s one song with fanwank status, then it could be ‘Glorious’.

    Regarding Estonia, Spain and Albania last year: This is where betters should have done better. I predicted these vocal sessions as certain TOP 10 entries, simply because I predicted it right that these entries would be credible jury favourites.

    The win of Germany in 2011 then. One forgets that it was a favourite too in 2011. Not to that extend of Norway 2009 and Sweden 2012, but it was a clear sub favourite. I even think that if Azetbaijan and Germany in 2010 had a back to back draw in the 2nd half, then Germany would still have won it. Also, Germany got around 280 points, which was a huge difference from the Turkish 2nd place.

    No, I would stick to these three countries for the victory: Norway, Georgia and Denmark. With Ukraine, Russia, Italy and Greece fighting for a TOP 5 spot.

    And other surprises for TOP 10: Finland (Latvia 2002), Malta (Belgium 2010) and Israel (Chiara).

    One last tip from my side: jury scores have become more predictable too. They are like X-factor judges/panels.

    • eurovicious

      Morning Gert – I don’t think Natalie’s size is a factor, and I don’t think the song or group can be compared with Xandee or Kati Wolf. I also don’t think it’s a fanwank because a lot of fans seem not to like it. Both within Germany and outside, the fan reaction to Cascada’s victory was pretty negative – Twitter was full of classist comments like “music for chavs” and misogynistic abuse directed at Natalie.

      I can definitely follow the logic for your other top 10 “surprises”, though I don’t agree with your act comparisons – Moran is not Chiara, Gianluca is definitely not Tom Dice (who brushed past me in a corridor at the OGAE Germany concert in January – oo-er) and Krista isn’t Marie N. I think Malta in particular has a lot of charisma (putting the dodgy lyrics to one side) and does stand out from the competition. It’s the only song to have that Sheeran-lite sound. Israel will have a hard time getting enough televote to go top 10 and faces a lot of competition on the jury front, so I see it in a high midtable position at present. I think juries will hate Finland and that it’s too lightweight and not credible enough to pick up a broad televote. I don’t think Krista has likeability (she’s nails down a blackboard), but then again neither does Katy Perry (the grating gimmick act that Krista’s shtick is undoubtedly inspired by), so I can understand why some people think Finland could do well.

      New Sofabet slogan: Risk assessment is our investment [sic]…

  • Eurov, Georgia is actually a double-G on it’s own, since it’s a G:son song hehehe.

  • trollgirl

    Besides many things going for it I see two problems for Cascada.
    Firstly… That it is Cascada. The fact that she is a well known artist will take away some jury points, so far they werent really pushing established acts to win… Then again most of the established acts were usually in a bit of career low when they entered eurovision, were trying to use it as a survival kit… and usually the songs were… well, not as winner potential material as Glorious is. So this problem might but might not exist.
    My second worry is that the song screams show opener. In this year of ballads and mid tempo I cant imagine -in case it gets drawn to the first half- they would consider anything else to get the party started and thus will deramp the televotes a bit. And I dont think Germany will mind it either that much. They are hoping for good results but just 3 years after the Dusseldorf overload…

    • Martin F.

      One thing that speaks against Cascada as a show opener is the potential for Loreen’s involvement. For all the plagiarism accusations were rightly rejected, I can’t imagine the producers wanting to follow an opening performance of “Euphooooooooria” with “Glooooooorious”!

      • eurovicious

        Agree. Apparently Euphoria will be opening the first semi rather than the final, but it wouldn’t be a surprise for Loreen to open the final too with My Heart Is Refusing Me or another track.

        • Daniel

          Having Euphoria open the first semi is a good way of giving viewers something to be excited by before the rather earnest first half of it. But I fear that the three following female soloists from Austria, Estonia and Slovenia are going to pale in comparison.

  • Alexander S.

    trollgirl: I actually disagree. I expect juries to have the Netherlands in their top 3, if not their winner, so they are not punishing known names.
    As for Germany, I’m pretty convinced that Germany and UK will ask for a late draw, part of what brought this manipulated draw thing is UK’s disappointment of the 1st spot for Engelbert last year. Germany is another huge market, it’s a mistake from a producer’s point of view to have them early.

    • trollgirl

      I agree that they will put UK in the best possible running order, as its a big spender that did lousy lately and they will try by all means to help them, but I dont think Germany are in it to win it this year. They dont want to embarrass themselves, but a decent placement will be quite sufficient. And I think they can achieve that even if they open the show, which I think they will as its a very suited song to start the party.

  • Ive been promoting cascadas chances before it even qualified,
    And i still think its in with a good shot,
    To me its still the most commercial friendly song in this years competition. with the right draw its got every chance in my opinion

  • Boki

    Nice article eurovicious, should I feel responsible for dragging you down to write again and again ? 🙂

    I agree on Georgia having the best winning potential among ballads, strangely still undervalued in the OR.

    Strongly disagree on Germany, it’s not a winner because of the visual impact of the singer, simply as that without trying to elaborate other smaller reasons.

    I still believe Norway is offering the best package and I’m not worried about amount of votes in the NF. I noticed a steady decrease in Norway after the winning, accelerated after one non-Q and one last place – people there lost interest imo (pure guess of course).

    • eurovicious

      Hej Boki 🙂 yes, replying to your comment was the fire that rekindled my desire, I couldn’t stay away so I came back to stay, ik kon niet wegblijven, dus ik moest hier iets schrijven… kompjuter me ubija al ja cu da pisem… OK, enough wordplay. I still haven’t put any bets on this year (though I now intend to) and I still have mixed feelings about gambling in general, but I have to write.

      • Boki

        Tebra, stipu djenjekla, just keep writing 🙂

        Going back to the subject of the article, one minor thing is that Lena was closely following Safura before taking it over so we could speak about a joint favorite, while Amauru was alone at evens. In his case, it might be that certain bloggers played a role there – I remember during the rehearsals Keith M. screamed “WE HAVE THE WINNER” and said he booked a hotel in France in advance 🙂 (where is he this year btw?)

        • trollgirl

          And didnt in the end Amaury have some singing issues as well? If I remember well, especially in the first part his vocals were far from perfect, and it was just weird because of that.

          • ChristheWelshman

            to trollgirl yes he was way out of tune. He was a favourite when bookies only saw the videos. Live performance not good. Plus there seems to be a bias against France – I don’t know why. They’ve submitted some quality and some commercial songs which have done nothing in ESC.but should have done much better.

  • gus68

    If Italy should hopefully set a new fresh precedent at last. Eurovision cant afford more victories for low quality biased tunes sung in English…If the big five arent in the top ten this year for the quality sake: The 5 big should withdraw at last. Spain deserves much more than whats been said here.

  • Alexander S.

    I agree about Spain, I think they will be higher in the televoting than people expect, and certainly not last place overall as predicted.

    I kind of feel this article and the commentators here are belittling Ukraine’s efforts. Whoever is behind their entry is pouring lots of money into success at all costs, and the Ukrainian broadcaster is eager to host too. We cannot completely ignore the “paratext” when we evaluate the abilities of the entries to score well. Simply put, it does not all boil down to the song and the singer. Don’t be shocked if Ukraine wins, it would only be the happy ending of a very successful build-up and PR campaign.

  • Ben Gray

    Excellent and thought provoking piece Eurovicious. I only have one question mark hovering over my head concerning the Netherlands. Before the end of the 2010 final. Wouldn’t many have discounted Lena for the win because, at least up until then, they had displayed a poor track record and not much voting power, plus had a slightly left field and dare I even say compositionally unremarkable song? They won, with an acceptable live vocal, (certainly not one that convinces you she won a talent show anyway.) If we can rule out excellent vocal, remarkable staging and country of origin, what are we left with other than “the song was great”?

    Now it’s not quite right to compare Satellite to Birds musically, but both songs were in contests relatively heavy on uptempo songs and ballads respectively, and both stand out somewhat within each genre simply for being a breath of fresh air. There is no doubt in my mind that Anouk’s performance will be note perfect and emotive and will stand out coming -after- Ukraine and Russia. It’s certainly commercial enough to win (as Adele and Lana Del Ray) would prove and as you said yourself, will be a jury magnet.

    In short, I do think Netherlands is overrated in the market… but not by much. If Satellite (and Me and My Guitar!) can teach us anything, it’s to be cautious with countries with low voting power and a poor track record, but do not by any means write them off on that basis if their song is a remarkable step forward in said country’s efforts.

    • eurovicious

      Hi Ben, this is such a superb comment I’ve had trouble coming up with a response to it. Totally agree with your first paragraph – many including myself did discount Lena for all the reasons you list, and its victory did come down to the song. I can’t disagree with anything in your second paragraph either – Birds may lack the direct emotional appeal of Adele’s oeuvre but it’s sonically very similar to Lana del Rey who has been very successful. And I agree with your conclusion too. It’ll all come down to the draw and how much Anouk is able to stand out musically and visually and in terms of the atmosphere the performance creates. It was this atmosphere that was key to the success of Satellite, Me And My Guitar, Unsubstantial Blues and others.

      • trollgirl

        I think with Lena her charisma, her personality shining through the song and capturing also had a great deal to add. I cant see that song being covered by anyone else and having power.
        Anouk has a strong presence as well. I cant wait for rehearsal footage to see how she ll cary the song.

        • ChristheWelshman

          Thanks for posting this – very helpful.

          • Boki

            This was a part of funny commercial for a Dutch insurance company so it was all a joke – just for the record.

          • ChristheWelshman

            Reply to Boki
            Thanks for pointing that out about Anouk and the joke. I have seen so many good performers singing like that after a few drinks that I thought it was real, and I was worried about betting on her. Having looked at some genuine live footage I think she’s not too bad – very capable in fact. Of the real singers in this competition (you all know what I mean) I think the France entry is the dark horse, but I might put something on Anouk as well.

          • ChristheWelshman

            Been thinking about Croatia as that’s a song I like. Opinion seems to be that Sognu failed a couple of years ago because it was musical theatre and the bookies got it wrong about the tastes of the EC audience. I think it was because when it came to the performance it was substandard – major tuning issues, which is death for pop opera. G4, Susan Boyle etc have massive audiences, so if the Croatian entry is in tune, it could do vastly better than the odds suggest. All the live shows I’ve looked at show the group performing well. Any advice to counter my view?

          • ChristheWelshman

            eurovicious, daniel and all the others more knowledgeable than I – great stuff you all have been doing here. Pity I chose to follow some other tipsters this time and only broke even in the end (Ireland and Croatia – don’t ask). The corruption issues have thrown this all in the air as far as I am concerned. I thought the contest was biased, but not totally bent! Signed the petition and sent loads to friends. Hope it results in some sort of inquiry anyway.

          • eurovicious

            Thanks Chris.

            Having come 10th in the televote, Croatia would have qualified if the jury had done its job. So that wasn’t a bad tip. As one of the most vocally outstanding entries in the semi it should without doubt have been in the jury top 10. Knowledge and analysis only go so far when jury results like this year’s – combined with the new voting system – effectively turn the thing into a lottery. Similarly, Ireland was 14th in the televote and should have been a lot higher in the jury vote. I don’t know about the Friday but Ryan sang the hell out of it on the Saturday – it was a lot more vocally impressive than the not-dissimilar Popular which managed 9th with juries.

        • Boki

          Lot of people were mislead by the series of Anouk clips, it wasn’t my intention to do it here so apologies for that, the whole story can be found here:

  • gus68

    Even Chyprus should end up top ten to my liking along win classy France quality Italy passinate San Marino leden ms Tyler and refreshing Spain amongst a few more to bear in mind.One does trust juries but drunken televoters has always their own distorted perception of reality….

  • hansenus

    Hello guys, i am new here. I have been following you for a while and it is funny to read but i was always lazy to write some opinions. It is cool to know that there is always people more obsessed about something and knowing something more than you when you already believe you are a freak.

    Let me introduce myself, I am spanish betting punter (now living in kiev because of a ukranian girl :p ) for many years making some good money specially through arbitrage. I am also huge eurovision fan (was also in oslo and dusseldorf). So i am very actively following all the markets and ready to attack last days.

    Being done that, let me share my first tip/comment:

    Be very very careful discarding russia and ukraine.

    1 Ukraine: it is a superpotencial favourite to win. As for me it is guaranteed that it will rank very high in jury vote. And about televote: why not to rank very high also? it has diaspora vote and if the year is so weak as Daniel comments, then an outstanding stage performance could take the edge to a very high rank.
    * That being said i am starting to build a paranoia in my head: something is telling me there is at least a 10% of probabilities that vitaly klitschko will be the giant who goes with Zlata on the stage. For more info regarding this paranoia you can check latest news eurovision tv. Is unreal strange that Zlata will go to Germany to see vladimir fight this weekend and from there directly to malmo. If all this guess would finally be truth, well, you can just expect one thing to happen: odds for ukraine fall dramatically and indeed take the show home.
    What do you guys think about this possibility?
    * i have discussed with some friends also punters, when the odds of ukraine were around 17 that no way they would be higher than 7 on the day of the final specially after watching the promotional video production, and well, as you see, they are almost already there. I have made a very good trading move from there in betfair 🙂

    2 Russia: it is a cheesy song/performance but be careful. Most of the audience are not music experts like you and for all those non-experts it is the song that plays better on first views. I am making a ranking among some friends and Russia is ranked on first position by far. Also for me, it is the one i liked the most when i first heard it and i feel very average viewer with few musical critical ideas. This together with the diaspora vote, will make it a granted top 3 in people vote for me. However, i think it will be harmed in the jury vote part. Anyhow it strongly reminds me of iceland 2009 who was second and that in the hands of russia could easily become a victory.

    Finally congrats to Daniel for website and this article, i fully agree with you about overrating scandinavian countries. They have won 2009 and 2012 but that was with outstanding songs and they have ranked extremely poor with some decent and well rated entries. So all in all, they seem unfriendly vote cases all of them. I would expect a huge bad position shock easily this year for example from Norway.
    I also expect Cascada ranking poorly. From the rest, well, lets wait some days, it is coming very soon the full action :)))

  • Boki

    The giant who is supposed to be one of the tallest persons on the planet will be a part of Zlata’s show in Malmö. Two of the strongest men on earth, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are also keeping their fingers crossed for the Ukrainian butterfly.

    There are also reports that “singer Zlata Ognevich will be accompanied on stage by a man almost 2 metres 50 in height”, famous brothers are “only” 2m tall.

    • eurovicious

      The problem with this staging concept is I can’t imagine anyone thinking “Ooh, this has a giant in, I’m voting for that!”. Singing to a woman on stilts didn’t do much for Jonatan Cerrada in 2004.

      I like the Klitschkos, I bought a damaged copy of their ridiculously homoerotic German fitness book (“Unser Fitness-Buch” – in a sale for 50 cents several years ago. It’s basically 200 pages of shirtless fraternal frolics. I haven’t done a single exercise in it.

      • Boki

        There are two separate things rg. Ukraine: market/punters and televoters/juries reaction.

        When I read about the giant for the first time I had Ukraine fully red in my book and the odds were about 13. I saw the market moving and took some of that thinking it will come to 10 probably – today it is 8 and shortening. The next wave will be when we actually see the staging, it can go further below or drift back depending how it’s done but it’s again a market overreaction which doesn’t mean “Ooh, this has a giant in, I’m voting for that!”. At the end public appeal doesn’t matter if you can make a “giant” trade.

  • hansenus

    Ok, thanks for the clarification with the 2 50 info. Then it should be Leonid Stadnyk who goes with her but i am a little bit suspicious. By the way, here you have a link to some spanish voting poll. I dont think it is very relevant but there is the part of “jurado” which means jury in spanish 🙂 Netherlands and Italy are on the top. That can give some little clues for the show.since this jury contains a goos variety of personalities similar to the ones will vote in Malmo from each country. But again, we have to wait for the staging.

    • Boki

      Yeah, I googled Leonid also some time ago but he doesn’t exactly look like esc warrior 🙂 Anyway, that 2.50m could just be the rumor so I didn’t really clarify it…maybe an ordinary 2.20 will do.

  • Ben

    Great article Daniel, and I agree with you on both Georgia and Germany being serious contenders for the victory – Georgia in particular, because of the success of duos with similar sounding songs in recent years.

    However, I still feel Denmark is a worthy frontrunner – don’t think it will do a Rybak or Loreen, but I still think it’s the most likely winner, and I certainly don’t see it possibly finishing outside the top 5 wherever it is in the draw, unless Emmelie somehow manages to seriously fuck it up.

  • Ben

    Also agree that Ukraine is a mess and won’t do nearly as well as 2nd, and Russia won’t come anywhere near winning with such a dreadful song.

    I’m tipping Azerbaijan for 2nd right now – strong song, good-looking boy, looks set to be well-staged, and so long as they mask his inadequacies as a singer should do well.

  • Ben

    Final point – my big tip for an outside bet and probably what I will be putting an each-way bet on shortly – Finland. For same reasons you say Germany will do well. It’s a good fun pop song with a great gimmick.

  • DEar me!Han”senus”…You got be still on the hornymooon with you Ukrat girl supporting the Eurodisney Ukra balllad! Sí la chica tiene buena voix pero es tan cheesy como la Rusa.Spain is “different” but happy…”Hasta el final”! öle Raquel te adoro desde tu tierra canaria. Top 10.

  • hansenus

    Jajaja the funny thing is that we have a daughter called Emmilie and i moved to Kiev working for a danish company so i am not being subjective at all among them 🙂

    Now seriously, i think that ukraine and russia are underrated at current odds. This thought is fully contradictory to some of you. So lets see how the markets moves next weeks.

    It is going to be fun 🙂

  • Trollgirl, by your logic, Bonnie will be punished by the juries just for being Bonnie Tyler?
    Also, Germany put Cascada last in their own final and it seemed quite alright as a show closer, so I think it works both ways. Depends which half they get drawn into I suppose.

  • chewy wesker

    I think that the 2013 pie-chart will look much like 2011. It’s hard to select a winner, so in away I kinda feel this year is actually a strong eurovision year and a great one for punters. It’s 50/50 in my book that you’ll have maybe a contemporary song like the last few years of eurovision winners, Denmark & Sweden spring to mind, or maybe a complete copy of last years winner Germany or Norway could well be crowned the queen. If we go for cheesy ballads Russia & Georgia can help you there, or maybe cool trendy track Netherlands & Italy too cool for school. It may just well come down to draw, who ever is in second half will have a great chance, but Sweden Norway Georgia and Italy would be my picks.

  • Martha

    Hi, I read with interest what you wrote here. For us living in Italy this entustiasm for ESC is quite strange. We have been away for such a long time. This year however our interest is growing because of Marco. The idea which I had is that you (I mean the Eurovision average audience) are impressed by the show more than the songs and the voices. I have listened to all the songs of this year competition and I can’t say I like them. They lack in originality and the singers tend to be a copy of someone else. It’s all already listened or really bad (sorry). As for my country, we’ll not win because we are maybe not in the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest. We are represented by a ballad, in Italian and with no coreography in the show, so Marco’s voice, presence and song won’t be probably even noticed. He couldn’t do anything different because the message of the song is to get back to essential in our lives, building new spaces while all the world around us falls to pieces. But I’m happy we are in the contest and represented by the best singer in Italy, the best voice, the best performer. Good luck from Italy to all your favourite countries.

    • eurovicious

      Hi Martha 🙂 thanks for your comment. When I met Jalisse a few years ago they told us that no-one in Italy even knew what Eurovision was anymore. 15 years of absence is an eternity in pop culture. I completely agree with you on the songs this year, they’re across-the-board derivative and terrible – last year was far stronger. I think, or at least hope, that Marco will get a strong vote from juries, but a place in the televote top 10 may be too much to hope for given the language barrier and given that Nina Zilli and Pastora didn’t manage this last year.

      • Martha

        Thank you for considering my post. I think our best representative since our come back was Raphael Gualazzi. I don’t really like Nina Zilli and she is not so strong here. Marco Mengoni is our best representative this year. He is the winner of Sanremo 2013 and the video on youtube has now reached 13.522.000 views. His album #prontoaccorrere (#readytorun in my translation) has topped the charts here and his tour is all soldout. So he is maybe the most popular artist in Italy at the moment. But I understand that in the context of this kind of Eurovision show he is out of target. I wish he can touch someone among the huge audience of the contest to put again attention on our music. Thanks again.

        • ChristheWelshman

          Worth remembering that Raphael Gualazzi was odds on to come in the last five. I loved the song and won a very decent amount of money on him. He may even have won if the song had been later in the contest. The current entry has a similar feel, although I don’t think the song is as good.

    • ChristheWelshman

      Well, Martha – seems as though you were right. The best song and best singer in the contest (Italy) was out manoeuvred by europop. France and especially Italy deserved to be heading the board, but the Nordic countries and the former Soviet bloc have got this contest sown up. Rest assured anybody with any taste loved your country’s entry.

    • ChristheWelshman

      Well, I made money betting on Marco to come in the Top 10 (actually position 5-9 with Bwin) so I got it about right. Should have been top 3, but then Eurovision and quality don’t necessarily match up, although they did leave Ireland as last, which it deserved to be.

  • dicksbits

    Georgia is NAFF. Eurovision by numbers. I expect if will come 5th/6th/7th in the final. Germany won’t win. Too similar to last year’s winner. They never do well. It’s Denmark’s to lose.

  • ChristheWelshman

    Like the article and the comments. People who don’t bet on Eurovision don’t know what they are missing. Pretty much all of the songs this year are derivative in the extreme. The Greek one, which could do well with the televote, reminds me of Goran Bregović – even to the title – Alkohol.
    My personal favourites stand no chance, as Balkan sounding songs don’t get the big votes. I think the betting on the Bulgarian entry is a bit out, depending on how they perform on the night. They were well below the video standard last time they were in Eurovision, but they still came fifth (Water – yes, yet more water) in 2007. I’ve listened to the 2013 song a few times and it’s irritatingly catchy. It all depends whether a sort of football song sung in Bulgarian by an ethnic electro drum and folk ensemble is the voters’ cup of tea. I read loads of comments saying that Elitsa’s voice is “grating” and out of tune. It’s not, it’s just that authentic Bulgarian folk singing sounds like that, as the notes are bentaway from the sol-fa scale.

    • eurovicious

      Hi Chris, thanks for these comments, I can only agree on how certain vocal traditions are misinterpreted by western viewers unfamiliar with them. The grannies and Sofi Marinova got this kind of reaction last year too. I will say that Water was darker and more minimalist than the happier, more upbeat and more conventional Samo Shampioni, which I think worked in the former’s favour. Samo Shampioni stands out less than Water (which was much more of a techno track) did.

      • ChristheWelshman

        yes, i agree with you about Water. Nice track – dark but uplifting. Live performances of the Shampioni track not brilliant, so probably an unsafe bet. But the odds are very tempting.

  • Rafael Vivas

    Everyone talks about similarities between Glorious and Euphoria, but it seems almost no one has realized that 2013 Georgia’s Waterfall is almost an exact copy of Spain’s 2012 Quédate conmigo.

  • john kef

    Winner probably not, but a Top4 @ 3.50 is not a bad bet

  • eurovicious

    I should add for the benefit of any readers stumbling on this piece post-contest that the 2013 results completely invalidated my theory. The results did closely reflect the market. Oh well! We live and learn.

  • Chris Bellis

    eurovicious – you’re a little bit hard on yourself there. Theories are there to be tested and it was a new way of voting this year, plus an as yet unknown amount of jiggery pokery (aka corruption or just plain bizarre decisions). I followed your assessments with interest and I thought they were valuable. At least they helped me come away more or less intact. My bet on Italy to come 5-9 (bwin) saved the day, as did my bets on Azerbaijan and Norway for a place (Betfair). Spain let me down, but that was my stupidity in following a tipster who hadn’t seen the live performance. Memo for future: never bet when you haven’t heard the live performance, or at least read the review from someone who has.

    • eurovicious

      Hi Chris – yes, jiggery pokery from arsehole to breakfast time! I’m glad I helped you come away intact, unfortunately that doesn’t apply to me – it’s going down as another fuckup at my end. I did well on both semis, against the odds, which I was proud of, but then basically swung a wrecking ball through my bank balance on the final, on which my main bet was Georgia top 10 – perhaps I was being overly cavalier after the two successful semis, but I wasn’t the only one who thought that was pretty safe. I still don’t quite get why it did so badly in the televote. Would have lost even more than I did had I not had value picks like Malta and Hungary top 10 (plus NL), but it was still considerable. I’m not balancing my books properly and taking too much risk, if I ever do this again (which I currently doubt) I owe it to myself to read up on how to bet more carefully. Added to which, while I still had a good time in Malmö, met up with a lot of people, saw the city, went to the beach, saw Copenhagen etc, I could have had a much better time and (let’s face it) gotten off my face more – which is what it’s all about – if I hadn’t been focused on the gambling. It wasn’t even the money that motivated me (unlike last year) – it’s the writing and analysis that attracts me, the fact that this is a specialised field that I’m good in (at least in theory and at least in 2012), and that I can apply my knowledge and use my music taste (which in many aspects runs contra to the fan consensus) to see past the bubble. But at 30 and trying to run my own new business, the last thing I need to be doing is pulverising my turnover betting on singing contests, not least because I’m too emotionally labile for it. It was certainly “only teardrops” for me the next morning.

      • Chris Bellis

        eurovicious – sorry to hear your bets went wrong on the final. I too thought Georgia had the right recipe – duo, could sing, diaspora vote, bit like the Azerbaijan winner I won such a lot of money on a couple of years ago… I think there were murky goings on there, as the performance was quite good, unlike eg Spain’s which was out of tune throughout.
        Re betting. My brother-in-law is a retired bookie who still bets to make extra money to supplement his pension. He is a member of Mensa and can calculate all the odds in his head. He is a typical Oasis fan and has no interest in Eurovision except for betting purposes. He has at least four computers in his “betting room” all tuned to different channels so he can quickly adapt to changes in betting. He never tries to make the big win unless he lays the bet on a big spread, depending on value. Even he lost this time, so it shows you how peculiar things were this year. Commiserations again.

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