Eurovision 2015: Year of Bloke and Bird

[Daniel writes: it’s great to welcome back eurovicious with his thoughts on the 2015 contest. This is the first of a few thematic articles he is penning for us on this year’s entries.]

National final season: it’s like your weird foreign friend who turns up on your doorstep in December with nowhere to go and ends up sleeping on your sofa for 4 months. At first you enjoy reconnecting with them and have a few good evenings in together, but before long, you grow increasingly weary of their company and start to realise just how inconsistent and frequently disappointing they are. Just as well that by Easter, they’ve gone again – rewarding your hospitality with a few nice thank-you gifts and keepsakes, but also forgetting to take their rubbish with them and leaving a bad smell in the bathroom.

That’s right, another underwhelming year has left us with another underwhelming line-up: like the last two years but even more so, we have a flood of songs that are well-produced and -arranged and will in almost all cases be well-sung and -performed in May, but which are unmemorable, extremely safe and with fewer hooks than Abu Hamza. This year’s vintage is one heavy on overly conventional ballads that don’t seem to aim for victory or even a high placing, let alone originality or sincerity (unlike 2012’s diamond crop), and as such, it’s perhaps a modern equivalent of the notoriously ballad-heavy Eurovision 1994.

In lieu of emulating the bearded drag queen that tottered away with last year’s trophy, many countries have chosen to try and repeat the success of 2014’s second-placed act – country duo The Common Linnets, whose low-key song and disarmingly intimate performance could well have won in a year sans Conchita – by sending male-female duos, ranging from excellent Estonia to execrable San Marino. (If the queer Eurovision revolution that Conchita’s victory superficially appeared to herald had truly happened, at least one of the 8 duets would be male-male or female-female; alas, we can dream.)

A huge amount of fan buzz surrounded Elina Börn and Stig Rasta’s Goodbye To Yesterday throughout the first weeks of 2015 until its deserved victory in a weak Eesti Laul where it faced no real competition, with many pegging it as this year’s surefire Eurovision winner; since then, enthusiasm towards it has waned, I suspect due in fair part to the slew of entries selected in its wake having diverted people’s focus. When I recently asked on Twitter “What’s this year’s fanwank that will do less well than everybody expects?” after all songs had been revealed, “Estonia” was the #1 answer I received. However, this dynamic of fans who follow national finals quite naturally tiring of, moving on from, or reacting against a song they first heard two months ago can’t be allowed to cloud us as to how viewers will react seeing and hearing Goodbye To Yesterday for the first time on the night.

And while fan tastes and public tastes can be anywhere from strongly aligned (Euphoria, Rise Like A Phoenix) to strongly opposed (Same Heart, What About My Dreams), I believe the overwhelmingly positive reception Goodbye To Yesterday received when it was just one national final song among hundreds was deserved (and indicates qualification should be a given). For me, as someone who generally doesn’t do middle-of-the-road (if it’s not wails of Albanian anguish or insane Icelandic eurodance, I don’t wanna know), it’s not only the best song in this year’s competition, but also the one I think has the greatest potential to resonate with a broad viewing public on the night.

Concerns have been raised by some as to whether Elina and Stig’s performance is engaging enough: I’m less concerned, as Ilse and Waylon’s performance in Copenhagen was totally static apart from the guitarist and featured minimal interaction – arguably, it was the anti-performance nature of the entry that helped it unexpectedly capture people’s hearts, in an analogous way to past very low-key entries with a strong acoustic feel like Fly On The Wings Of Love, Fra Mols til Skagen, Rock ‘N’ Roll Kids and Kinek mondjam el vétkeimet, none of which were expected (until the weekend of the contest at the earliest) to score nearly as highly as they ultimately did. Post-Måns, I think attention should be back on Estonia as a strong, sophisticated package with a huge amount of heart and the legs to do well Europe-wide.

What about the other duets? Boring Belarus and conventional Czech Republic can’t challenge, and the less said about San Marino’s latest Ralph Siegel stinker the better – I’m not sure I’d bet on any of these three qualifying. Lithuania offers a package with some similarities to Estonia’s effort – less character, mystique and pathos, but more warmth, chemistry and raw masculine sexuality foot-tapping fun. It’s catchier but not as classy, and I don’t see it coming a cropper of its opening draw in the semi.

Last year when I dismissed Cliché Love Song as a potential winner, I wrote that it had “no hint of depth and no sense of finding love or overcoming adversity, unlike all winners since 2007 apart from perhaps Satellite.” With Conchita’s victory, this trend holds: so while This Time has the ingredients to deservedly do very well, and certainly has a very palpable and infectious sense of “finding love” – not least due to Vaidas and Monika’s I’m-sure-they’re-shagging-level chemistry – is it perhaps too upbeat and jangly to win the modern contest?

Apropos upbeat and jangly, UK fan reaction to the BBC’s red-button reveal resembled a high-pitched hurricane of jazz-handed online outrage descending on Broadcasting House, with petitions started and so-called fans tweeting abuse to both the group and the BBC Eurovision team. I generally don’t care what the UK sends and don’t support any particular country patriotically, so having gone in with zero expectations, I was delighted at the refreshingly outside-the-box choice of a hooky, upbeat Charleston song unlike anything else in the contest and centered around playful interaction between a male and female singer.

While criticism of elements like Alex’s slightly weak vocals on the studio version, the perhaps dated production of the electro bridge and the lack of a true chorus is understandable and constructive, there seemed to be an almost visceral revulsion at the song from many UK fans that I think has a lot to do with the difference between how the British see themselves and how Europe still sees us – something that’s incisive when trying to gauge the entry’s prospects. Aside from truly standing out and having great potential as a performance piece – ideally as even more of a flirtatious, gesamtkunst skit than the video – I think Still In Love With You smartly taps into notions of Britishness that are distinctly uncool in the UK but are exactly how Britain exists in the popular imagination abroad (not just in Europe).

It’s fun, old-timey, mannered, and proudly stuck in the past, while the performers are pasty, proper, and a little awkward but very game – having lived in Germany for a decade, I know this is how we’re still seen by many, and for UK fans I think it’s too close to home and too outdated despite being a knowing retro piece. Ask a Brit what they think of as British comedy and they might say anything from Dad’s Army to Gavin and Stacey; ask many a European and they’ll say Mr Bean and Dinner For One, deceptively simple slapstick comedies both hugely popular Europe-wide but not esteemed at home. This is the divide in perceptions that I think Electro Velvet are on the right side of.

Moreover, Europe is in economic and existential crisis right now, and the UK entry is an injection of old-time joie de vivre that allows viewers a moment of nostalgia for a Europe past, both real and imagined; it lets us inhabit perceived better times and take solace in an era of charm, class and Charleston, when songs had a tune, women were women, and men blew trumpets and were into scat. The narrative and built-in chemistry should very easily lend themselves to an engaging performance with strong visual storytelling, while the song has an outstandingly strong USP and is very immediate and digestible, very melodic, rhythmic and catchy, in a year when that’s exactly what’s missing from the contest. Crucially, I don’t think that continental juries or viewers will bring to the table the cultural baggage that caused its poor reception in the UK. (And if it comes 20th I will print out and eat this entire paragraph live on ITV2.)

Norway’s A Monster Like Me has a fair amount going for it on the face of things, though like Silent Storm last year, I’m not sure it’ll grab people enough, and I also think Estonia beats it on similar territory. As a sort of dour, slowed-down cousin of James Morrison’s Broken Strings with a slight country-ballad feel in the final minute, it’s perfectly effective on its own terms and should please juries. But while it deserves a respectable finish, I think it’s a hard one to predict and could even be in danger of going completely under the public’s radar on the night (though I’d expect it to qualify from the semi even with its poor draw) and doing surprisingly badly. Staging idea: pixelate Mørland’s face throughout the performance to pique viewers’ curiosity and make them think the song is about Debrah having fallen in love with a sex offender.

Unlike the other duets this year, Slovenia’s Maraaya (consisting of singer Marjetka and pianist/songwriter Raay) are a married couple and established musical partnership rather than a singing duo put together to perform heterosexuality (in case you hadn’t realised that’s what the above-mentioned acts are doing, as discussed last year). While a penultimate slot in its semi should see it sail through, as others have already commented, Slovenia’s track record on staging isn’t amazing, and judging by the national final performance and official video, the headphones and violin-mime seem to be a fixed part of the package.

Fake DJ shtick on the Eurovision stage is nearly always cringeworthy and has rarely served an entry well, whether Kurt Calleja in 2012, Tereza Kerndlova in 2008, Nicola in 2003 or Lindsay Dracass in 2001. (Who knows, maybe Marjetka just can’t bear to miss The Moral Maze.) When I asked on Twitter which fan favourite people thought would do less well than expected this year, this was the song I had in mind. The tune is great, don’t get me wrong – it could be a continent-wide radio hit for sure – but like Lithuania, the question of whether it has enough depth to win stands, plus I don’t by any means bank on it coming over effectively enough on stage to do as well as it deserves to, even in this field.

What do you think about this year’s battle of the duets? Let us know in the comments below

121 comments to Eurovision 2015: Year of Bloke and Bird

  • Lie report

    Great piece. Informative and very funny.

    I don’t like /rate Norway or Estonia. I really thought Molly would do very well last year but it was too similar to the previous winner. If I think I’ve learnt one thing it’s that trying something similar to a successful entry from the previous year often comes a cropper. Estonia is a poor man’s NL.

    The UK is the one I can’t make my mind up on. The Youtube views suggests that someone really likes it…. if not the UK fans but as we can’t vote for ourselves who cares. Can they sing live? Will the Beeb stage it successfully? I reckon it will go top 10.

    Really like Slovenia but my liking and doing well are not the same thing.

    The only thing I’m fairly confident on is Russia Top 4.

  • I made one of those ‪#‎Eurovision‬ top 40 things, just as a prelude to what’s becoming an annual tradition… 😉

    • Shai

      Like your list Ben.
      Putting Sweden on 19th, can’t agree more.If I had the power it will be even lower.
      Israel at 14 – I think the Israeli delegation will be happy with such result in the real contest 🙂

  • Chris Bellis

    Great selection. Some I agree with, but I really can’t see Switzerland! I think Finland will do better than people think, as they have a USP. I wonder if Russia will do well. For once, I think the sheer hypocrisy of the song might irritate people. I like Russia, and the Russian people, but it gets up my nose. Even the Russian diaspora and fellow travellers might not be able to counter the negative feelings.

    • Dash Berlin

      I don’t understand why you feel the song is “hypocrisy”. Not all Russian people think how Putin does. Just like I’m sure you don’t agree with a lot of what your government does – especially in foreign affairs.
      This is a song contest, if the message is of peace – then why not embrace that, rather than criticise it for hypocrisy

  • Michael Jaker

    This is a brilliant article. Totally agree with virtually everything (esp the reference to 1994!).

    I’d just disagree on one point – re: the UK entry, much is made of the style of the song, but commentators keep forgetting that it’s a song contest, and the song will mainly be judged on it’s musical merits. And it’s simply not a good song. It’s not even a decent example of this kind of electo-swing track. It feels forced, uncharming, uncool and on first listen it’s a very long 3 minutes. It would need a superstar performance to sell it, and we’re not going to get that from these two singers. I genuinely think it’s not getting higher than 17th/18th, but I’d love to be proven wrong by some fantastic staging decisions in Vienna.

    • Chris Bellis

      Michael – I agree with your assessment of the UK entry – wafferly versatile though it is. At least the foreign voters won’t get the connection with Jimmy Savile, otherwise it would be worth a punt for last.

    • “It feels forced, uncharming, uncool and on first listen it’s a very long 3 minutes.”

      That statement is just subjective. And very British. The article is right.

      • Michael Jaker

        Maybe. However I do a have degree in musicology, so I can assure you the song is not a high quality composition (and could give a detailed analysis… if I could be bothered to waste my time on the song). Not saying some people won’t enjoy it – but then somebody somewhere will enjoy anything.

        Basically it’s not a strong entry and will bomb. Absolutely no doubt. I’m amazed anyone is arguing the opposite.

        • sonovox

          Well, as a musicologist, you should know better than to be making those kinds of truth-claims about quality. I’d get my first-year undergrads to eat that kind of thing for breakfast.

          I almost never agree with eurovicious, but I think his take on Electro Velvet here is subtle and probably spot-on.

          On an unrelated note, my main thoughts on current odds now we have all the songs are: Slovenia a likely fanwank, Azerbaijan and Ireland overrated, Australia rather underrated, having pulled the incredibly canny and unforeseeable stunt of writing a song to stand out from the emerging field. Pre-rehearsal, Australia’s my only feasible challenger to Sweden, and I happily eat my earlier doomsaying words about its prospects.

          • fiveleaves

            In what sense can Slovenia can be described as fanwank? I can see the argument that the staging will let it down, though personally I don’t agree, but fanwank?
            Looking at some notable fans favourites that bombed ..what they all tend to have in common is that they’re all rather theatrical, OTT and camp. Usually sung by a glamorous/strident woman. Often with previous Eurovision form

            Maraaya doesn’t tick any of those boxes. It has far more in common with something like Satellite. An instantly catchy radio friendly pop song. Not particularly ‘Eurovision’ and certainly not fanwank

          • sonovox


            We’re essentially talking about a positive collective appraisal by contest followers that ultimately isn’t reflected in the results. Certain musical or staging attributes might be more likely to yield that outcome, but all that establishes is a prototype for the category, not a definition of it.

            There appears to be quite a bit of love for Slovenia and it is currently fourth in the Betfair outright – my reaction to which is that it’s a crazy price for this country in this field.

        • Ron

          Are you assuming that jury members will also be skilled musicologists? They’re not, and they’re just as swayed by performance gimmicks as the televoters are.

        • When someone on the internet has to claim “I have a degree in X” (rightly or wrongly) you just know their argument is inherently weak.

          • mawnck

            What nonsense is this? The musicologists are the ones who actually UNDERSTAND what it is about music that makes the televoters like or dislike a song. The average internet jockey? Notsomuch.

            “Still In Love With You” is, objectively, not terribly well constructed. The melody line is disjointed and doesn’t match the harmonization well. And the fact that it’s a poor example of contemporary Electro Swing almost goes without saying. I would sincerely urge you to get over to YouTube and listen to some of the real thing. Remember, our songwriter here does production music for a living, not Electro Swing, and he’s given you a very production-music-y take on the genre, heavy on cliches and light on substance.

            Is it any worse than the average Eurovision entry, from a songwriting standpoint? Eh, not really. I think the songwriting is one of the least of its problems.

        • Hi Michael, thanks – I’m not a musicologist and I know sonovox (who I gather is, like yourself) has disagreed with me in the past for making judgements based on perceived musical/artistic worth… what I’d say here is what I said on Twitter recently to someone who made a similar point about the UK entry being an “objectively a rubbish composition from a purely musical perspective”. It’s of its genre – a lot of pop music is pretty simple and that applies all the more so for older and more traditional popular musics, whether German schlager, Dutch levensliedern or something like this – if the UK song is a “bad composition” then so are entire genres of beloved music around the world and much of the popular music of the 1920s-1950s, which I don’t think can be the case. Apart from perhaps on the level of dance production, I don’t see the UK entry as being particularly more or less sophisticated as We No Speak Americano, Mambo No 5, Doop or Bang Bang.

          Loads of pop songs only have 4 chords, loads of pop songs employ the musical cliché of the I-V-VI-IV chord progression, and they’re often the most popular & highly esteemed ( Using the example of ABBA, The Winner Takes It All has often been voted their best song, yet compositionally and structurally it’s one of their simplest – it’s the simplicity that allows room for its raw emotion and beauty. Singles that ABBA released just a year or two after it, like Head Over Heels and Under Attack – which are more avant-garde and adventurous compositions, but less emotionally engaging – did much less well and remain less well-esteemed than the group’s simpler, warmer and more accessible songs.

          I don’t think Gravity, for instance, is a strong composition at all, yet it did very well, while entries I did think were great pieces of songwriting like the entries by Les Fatals Picards and Tooji came last. Which takes me back to Ben’s mum.

          • Michael Jaker

            Hi Eurovicious. Thanks for your thoughtful and well-argued reply. And, on reflection, I think you may be onto something.

            I also was very critical of Gravity when it emerged in 2013. I found the song extremely weak, all style over substance, and really thought it that would harm it’s chances. I saw it as an also-ran. But Zlata totally sold it, and the staging was really well done. And you can’t argue with a bronze medal! I was too focused on the song and not the whole package.

            I suppose my criticism of this year’s UK entry came from the pretty amateur feel of the production and vocals. But it’s true that in such a stylised genre, maybe that will not be judged too harshly by jurors or televoters. If it manages to be charming on stage, then it could overcome some of the weaknesses in production and composition. It will certainly not be forgotten.

            I have to say, I’d still be amazed to see this scrape into the Top 10. But with some exceptionally strong staging and vocals, well… who knows. Stranger things have happened. 🙂

  • dicksbits

    Very thought provoking. More! more! we cry…., Keep it coming pls..

  • mawnck

    It took FOUR WHOLE PARAGRAPHS to convince yourself, uh, I mean us, that UK’s entry isn’t garbage.

    Are you seriously trying to make a case that people will vote for a song because it fits in with their perceptions of the country entering it? Seriously?

    Methinks you protesteth too much. 26th place (ahead of Germany).

    • I’ll let the fact you think Germany will come last speak for your whole comment… no, but seriously, it’s called setting out an argument. That’s like saying it took JK Rowling 7 books to convince people Voldemort is bad – it’s a totally fallacious argument. (And it’s what I do with the length that counts…) I didn’t need to convince myself, I really liked the UK entry when I saw it and was shocked at the reactions when I went online 15 minutes later.

      I’m trying to get to the core of why a class of British (predominantly gay male) Eurovision fans have reacted to it not with the level-headed dislike and disappointment that met Josh Dubovie and Engelbert, but the wave of visceral revulsion that we’ve witnessed, to the extent that the backlash itself became a mainstream media story – which it didn’t even with Scooch or Jemini or any of the other much worse stuff we’ve sent over the years. I’m sure people feeling they didn’t have a stake in the decision is a factor, as well as the way internal selections can become a channel for existing dissatisfaction with national broadcasters – there’s been an anti-BBC tone to a lot of the negative comments about the UK entry, and it reminded me of how the large domestic backlash against Conchita last year intersected with resentment towards ORF (which had a very longstanding media monopoly, with no commercial radio stations allowed in Austria until 1998 and no commercial terrestrial TV stations until 2003 – only Albania prohibited commercial television for longer). Conchita is a good example of how domestic and international perceptions can differ on another front too, as the one voting country where she was already known and highly visible in the media was Germany – yet the German jury gave her the worst score of any Western European country, with one juror (Madeleine Juno) even saying she deliberately ranked Conchita exactly in the middle due to the controversy and to try and be “fair”, or misguided words to that effect. In Germany, Conchita was primarily associated with reality shows she’d appeared in on a channel perceived as trashy, and not known as a performer – which didn’t stop the public supporting her but did affect the jury’s perception of her despite the song and performance. But I’m totally digressing. The reason I go into detail is because while all of our views are subjective, it’s really important when assessing an entry’s chances to try and understand why people’s reactions to it differ from one’s own.

      • mawnck

        “I’m trying to get to the core of why a class of British (predominantly gay male) Eurovision fans have reacted to it not with the level-headed dislike and disappointment that met Josh Dubovie and Engelbert, but the wave of visceral revulsion that we’ve witnessed, to the extent that the backlash itself became a mainstream media story”

        I think you’ve misdiagnosed the situation then. Based on my own (EXTREMELY negative) reaction, even though I am neither British nor gay, I believe the core is pure old fashioned disappointment, coupled with anger at being misled by the entire BBC promotional campaign last year. After an entire year of trumpeting how Molly’s appearance represented a turning point in the BBC’s attitude toward the contest, that contemporary, *working* young talent was going to be the strategy going forward, they did an abrupt, dramatic about face and delivered what can only be described as the Monkees to Scooch’s Beatles. There was no lead up to it, no particular warning that we were going to get a commercial jingle writer’s novelty Charleston number performed by rank amateurs, just “remember that Molly thing last year? Yeah, screw that. Here you go, we’re sending a bad Doop imitation.”

        That being perhaps a bit too expressive for debate purposes, let’s boil it down to the pure facts, setting out the argument as it were:

        The song is in a style that has, at best, a niche following, and that most viewers will have never heard of. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there has not been a single European (or anywhere else) hit record in the Electro Swing style since 1999 (Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5).

        The female vocalist has only two brushes with a national stage – an unsuccessful appearance on The Voice (thus, Andy Abraham is already one up on her), and a charity single that scraped into the lower regions of the charts. She’s good (we found out later), but she is not a full time professional singer.

        The male vocalist is a Mick Jagger impersonator in a band called the Rolling Clones. He is not a full time professional singer either, and as you noted, sounds wobbly on the studio track, which is a terrible portent for his live performance.

        The songwriter is a commercial jingle and production music writer. As far as we can tell, has never worked in the Electro Swing genre before.

        The melody is based on the closing line of “Sweet Georgia Brown”. The lyrics are based on “Button Up Your Overcoat”. These are not recent hits.

        The backing track relies on sampled vocals. Those aren’t permitted at Eurovision.

        The video relies on a stage full of dancing performers – and it’s hard to imagine any non-cheesy staging of the song that wouldn’t. Eurovision will only allow 4 additional performers, and they have to sing the aforementioned sampled vocals while they’re dancing. (They’ll use people on the screens, no doubt.)

        All of this was revealed on the red button presentation. How could it NOT produce an enraged reaction from loyal, long-suffering fans who were fully expecting their country to send a song that they could be proud of, rather than revert to the typical BBC “out-of-the-box” train wreck? I was one of the many Red Button viewers who QUITE LITERALLY thought I was watching a sort of off-season April Fools joke at first, and that they would soon kick Electro Velvet off the set and present the real entry.

        I don’t think it has anything to do with being British or gay. If you DO care about the UK entry at Eurovision, you can’t help but feel pretty furious about this ill-conceived entry. For the record, I suspect it isn’t the BBC’s fault. Just as with “A Song for Europe” in years past, you can’t pick a good entry if none is presented to you. This looks to me like a hail-Mary desperation move due to a total lack of serious contenders. If it isn’t, then yes, I think someone really does deserve to be fired over it.

        By the way … Charleston, scat singing, Louis Armstrong, Tin Pan Alley … care to tell me what, exactly, is so British about this entry?

        As for Germany? Yes, 27th place. She deliberately squawks the verses through her nose. She makes faces, sounds awful and goes off-pitch doing it, and you can’t ruin the first 45 seconds of your song and expect to get any points. I know the back story and I wish her all the luck in the world, but she’s still the worst of the big 6 (barring an Electro Velvet onstage catastrophe a la Dubovie/Jemini), and that puts her 27th.

        • EV has written a very good article here with some very astute and level headed analysis which I look forward to more of, but yes mawnck I’m going to side with you on this occasion. As somebody who is British, straight, and was part of the initial backlash, but has since noticed the strengths of the entry, I think you’ve got the reasons for the reaction absolutely spot on.

          It comes as a result of caring what your country’s entry is, and EV, you made clear that you don’t, (and you love this sort of music anyway.) I think the division of opinion and backlash was totally justified because of just how unexpected it was. One look at the graph of the history in the UK’s matched odds on Betfair reveals a giant but very brief spike at the point the entry was revealed. It was a shock, and I think people are perfectly entitled to vent their emotions in such a situation. It was an irrational outburst, and those defending the entry should have realised it would soon blow over rather than fight fire with gasoline.

          I personally went in deliberately trying to keep myself in a state of mind where I could expect a very good, spirited entry like we had last year. After so many years of disappointment, Molly was a beacon of pride and that kind of excitement I felt for our entry drove my honest and best attempts at objective and logical analysis towards a belief that she was going to win. Mainly because I was looking that year for a song which fit a certain anthemic style that had been doing well for Scandinavia, but despite niggles, I didn’t really take Molly herself as the performer, the one who had to get up and sell it, into account too much, and soon after the UK reveal, with only Conchita and Russia left to reveal their entries (or to paraphrase EV’s words, “a drag queen and a country everyone hates”\), I had made up my mind firmly at that point that we had our new HoD that found us Gina G and Katrina, understood the contest, and had found us a modern, relevant winner right off the bat.

          It didn’t work out, and between Conchita’s victory and now, I’d realised how important the performers themselves are when people are deciding who to vote for. It goes beyond what comes out of their mouth and the movements they make. I recently showed the respected Norwegian entry of 2015 to my Mum who dismissed it before Debrah had even made an appearance. I had to skip through it because she totally didn’t want to watch any more. (Bear in mind we were actually sitting down together to look through some of the entries, I wasn’t keeping her from something else,) In her words, she said “this is absolute miserable drivel. I don’t like him, I don’t like the way he looks, and look at her! Face like a smacked arse! Terrible dress, Who’s gonna vote for that?” In this case, the song is merely a soundtrack to what she sees and feels, rather than the main thing she is assessing. In other cases, what she sees and feels is driven by the song. That’s why it’s so important to get it right on stage, because there is no one way of reacting.

          I digress. With Electro Velvet, we had an acknowledgement from Guy Freeman who I still have a lot of respect for, back in September just letting us know what the plan of action was, and that was more or less enough for me. Silence for a while, and then finally, we got the words “instant impact, memory staying power, a contrast to last year.” Which is intruiging and promising, but when he says a contrast, I thought Molly was symphonic indie pop, so maybe we’ll get something more rocky or urban this year. Something to continue the effort to improve the image of the contest at home as well as get us some good results and properly represent the wealth of quality musical talent in our country that deserves more ears. That, to me, is what credible music is. 1D, Sheeran, Murs and that lot can do one, I don’t want them. Their music is insipid.

          And with regards to my own mindset, I was expecting something good, not because I felt like I should, because UK, but because it would prevent me from feeling the same irrational excitement that ultimately resulted in me sitting at a laptop fervently (and successfully) trying to scramble out of the red on Austria on Betfair so that I could break even, rather than actually watching the damn show as I’d looked forward to for months. I didn’t enjoy that.

          So bearing all this in mind, when the reveal finally came on and within 10 seconds of Scott Mills saying hello, I’m greeted by the sounds of a malfunctioning Dalek, a fiddle, two people who have clearly only just met and are not working musical artists in their own right, as opposed to singers who just do covers, (and more than likely won’t have any future as Electro Velvet after this), I think a reaction that would be mostly laughter, shock, disappointment and bleeped out words is entirely justified.

          Having said that, as time has gone on, I recognise that the UK has achieved its goal of standing out, that Guy was absolutely right when he said it has memory staying power, it is a real earworm, and we have an entry that I cannot bring myself to get behind on a personal level, but that I realise is very very shrewd, and I expect the UK will achieve a result somewhere in between Blue and Molly this year.

          • Will it do better than Molly? I’m not sure. Part of me is starting to accept that the mainland hates us politically, especially with a growing desire to get out of Europe brewing up in the UK. I still think it’s pure Marmite – it’ll either do a Jade & Jessica, or it’ll do an Andy & Josh.

          • I think Ben and mawnck sum up well that the backlash had a lot to do with people’s expectations and prior investment in what the UK would send – investment that voters and juries won’t have. Ben, I think your mum’s reaction to Norway (which you describe well) is hugely relevant and characteristic in terms of the way many people react to entries and quickly make their minds up (*whips off trousers*) based on visual, emotional, wardrobe and other seemingly irrational factors rather than just the song – it’s exactly the kind of thing I’m often trying to communicate in my comments and articles on here.

            Re: mawnck’s comments on Germany – these days, last place seems reserved for the fun upbeat song that’s jury-anathema (Tooji, Ryan Dolan and Twin Twin, I think all of whom were in my personal top 10 in their respective years). Not just in light of this, it’s simply impossible to predict last place with any degree of accuracy, let alone a statement like “[Ann Sophie] squawks” and “makes faces” and “that puts her 27th”. To quote Chewy, none of us has a crystal ball.

            1D, Olly and Ed Sheeran are probably the 3 British acts that do best throughout continental Europe (plus Adele) – I’d be fine with any of them going but of course they’d never do it. I wouldn’t put the domestically unfairly maligned Sheeran in the same category as 1D and Olly – the latter are manufactured pop acts and the former is a skilled live musician who writes his own heartfelt songs and built up his fanbase through very heavy touring and releasing his own EPs.

            I basically agree with what you (Ben) write about COTU, the song was fine – it was anthemic, Florencey, ticked all the boxes for me, but something didn’t click performance-wise and visually and it wasn’t her year. Plus I think people had made their minds up by the time she performed.

            James: Europe doesn’t hate Britain and even if it did I doubt that would impact on it Eurovision prospects.

        • Hi mawnck – your points about the track being reliant on sampled backing vocals that won’t be permitted, and that the video goes overboard on dancers in a way that will also be impossible in Vienna, are worthwhile. “The song is in a style that has, at best, a niche following, and that most viewers will have never heard of.” – I’d agree with this as a drawback in the case of an act like Global Kryner, but the top two songs last year were both very atypical of Eurovision and of European pop music in general – a Bond-theme ballad of a type never heard in the contest, and a very stripped-back country-and-western song, so something that gets people on board enough can absolutely transcend genre. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there has not been a single European (or anywhere else) hit record in the Electro Swing style since 1999 (Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5).” – We No Speak Americano topped the charts Europe-wide in 2010 (, then there was’s Bang Bang in 2013 ( Apropos Lou Bega, he’s German and the song was a huge hit throughout central Europe before it reached the UK a couple of months later. This genre has a track record of success on the continent, where mental categorisations of “novelty”/”cheese”/”guilty pleasure” don’t exist in anywhere near the same form they do in the ever-class-conscious UK – people just like what they like and don’t like what they don’t like.

          My comments about much of the negative reaction coming from British gay male Eurovision fans is based on my own observations on Twitter after the reveal – a large proportion of the fans I interact with most are either female and/or non-UK/non-European, and most people in my timeline liked the song (with the exception of Ben and a couple of others), so quite intriguingly, my own personal Twitter feed was near-devoid of the backlash. The moment I ventured into stereotypical Eurovision country (= fanboys), everyone seemed to be throwing a tantrum. When you start using block capitals and write that someone deserves to lose their livelihood over the choice of British entrant, that’s when I’m also forced to class your argument in the “irrational fanboy tantrum” category too.

          “Charleston, scat singing, Louis Armstrong, Tin Pan Alley … care to tell me what, exactly, is so British about this entry?” It’s Anglo-American – we begat America (“the colonies”) and its culture feeds back into ours, in a more reciprocal and symbiotic way than the “Anglo-American cultural imperialism” I sometimes bang on about in relation to continental Europe.

          With regards to it not being contemporary, it’s like trying to argue that The Artist isn’t contemporary. It isn’t and that’s the whole point. Everyone is so obsessed with contemporary, which I think is relevant if you’re sending a dated entry that recalls the 2000s or 1990s (Moldova, the second half of Serbia) – eras still too recent to be widely appreciable as retro – but less so if an act is deliberately referencing and paying homage to styles from the 1920s, the 1980s or anywhere in between (like Norway 2005, Serbia 2011).

  • PurpleKylie

    I would agree that Estonia is on my radar as being a candidate for being the year’s Fanwank Flop (alongside Italy and Spain), I am convinced in a pre-Common Linnets era this wouldn’t have been given the time of day by the fans. I disagree that TCL’s staging was static, it had great camerawork and their chemistry and musicianship is what stood out. That’s what Estonia doesn’t have, you can argue that they’re just trying to capture the mood of the song but I don’t believe that those two are a arguing soon-to-be-ex-couple, just two singers who happen to be singing the same song. I just find it mediocre and incredibly overrated. They also failed my “dad test”, I thought this would be something he would love but he said that he wasn’t impressed with it at all.

    Lithuania and Slovenia are more enjoyable and have potential to do well but there’s something a bit lightweight with the songs, even though I really like Slovenia’s song. I would say 6th is the ceiling with either of them. I also don’t have a problem with Slovenia’s staging unlike most people but then again I have a more quirky taste in things so take my judgement with a pinch of salt.

    San Marino’s song is pants, Czech Republic is underwhelming, Belarus is really good and should qualify fairly comfortably. I can enjoy the UK’s song but in terms of its chances I’m extremely pessimistic, I want to be proved wrong but I can’t see us doing well in the end.

    Norway will get the best result out of the duets this year, it’s the only duet with potential for top 5 imo.

    Wasn’t expecting to write an essay, but oh well.

    • Ron

      Estonia’s experiments with staging at Eesti Laul haven”t been encouraging. First they put the couple back to back, killing all potential for chemistry between them. At the final, they were side by side and had the opportunity to look at each other, but there was a lot of fiddling with microphones and nervous glances. Indeed, there is no chemistry like there was with the Common Linnets.

      • Dash Berlin

        I haven’t seen the Estonia song performed live, but I do know with the correct staging it is a contender.
        And that’s a big but, it does need good staging. I think all duets do (remember Georgia from ’13). The Common Linnets last year, I don’t think had particular chemistry, but the way it was staged, the camera angles, really made it. It appeared as if there was chemistry and it just matched the song so well.

        I agree with Kylie, how they will capture anything like the Common Linnets with that type of song on stage – I have no idea

  • Guys, money doesnt lie. The winner will be decided by line movement, just like every year. Sweden looks champion so far but you can never know ’til the Grand Final. It’s probably Italy, Sweden, Estonia or Slovenia this year, Australia being the dark horse. Remember, We can’t know who will win, only numbers know.

    • Tom Ato

      Always worth backing the dark horse, especially in Australia’s case.

      • I’ve gone in incredibly heavy on Australia, and intend to continue topping up through April. I just think Europe likes its novelties and unusual sights a little too much, and whacking the Aussies into the contest is compatible with that.

        • Won’t be surprised if EBU gives it to Australia with a sexy running order. EBU likes upsets, surprises. Just for surprise and shocking factor, they may want Australia to win, why not? Odds are still great. Odds will drop if they will win so better keep an eye on Australia odds thru May.

          • Dash Berlin

            Although the EBU love that Australia are participating – I seriously doubt they want them to win. I would think if they get a 1st half draw, very good chance of them performing 1st

    • dicksbits

      Funny that, because there are countless examples of when countries who were hot favourites flopped (France, 2011), and countries who were nowhere unit rehearsal week triumphed (Netherlands, 2014). Wait until rehearsal week to judge more closely.

      • I’d agree with that. As we learnt last year – and I suppose on the X Factor last year, too, for those who play in he Autumn – the Zeitgeist can change very quickly.

        Quick question – is Sweden being overestimated again? I can’t decide whether it’s a definite runner or a fanwank.

  • chewy wesker

    Great article EV “Bloke & Bird” and much like your article last year “The Semiotics Of Eurovision” it is yet another great analysis of what to think about in Eurovision. I must say I do like a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” and a “Non Threatening boy” and together these two can make most punters nice profits time and time again. One thing I would like to add is what I’m calling “Timeless Dream State” If you look at the list winners of over the many years “TDS” appears in most performances. Take last years winner Conchita Wurst for example, what we were looking at is a performance that blurs over the “Heteronormativity” lines that is so typical in eurovision and however you look at it last year was like taking the red pill, and for us viewers we were taken to a wonderland and shown how deep the rabbit hole really goes. “TDS” now ask yourself this, will Conchita’s performance ever look outdated? the answer is No. Why? because It’s from a different time somewhere in the future, it’s timeless and it’s in a dream world where it doesn’t matter if “It’s a man in a dress” or a “woman with a beard” it just is what it is. No one on sofabet last year gave Conchita a chance, most including myself were laying Austria in all markets. I did say that she could well surprise, but I thought a dated bond theme would be marked down by the juries and the balance between risk versus reward….. Well I was wrong but and gambling on outcomes it is not about being right or wrong – really it is how much you make when your right and how much is lost when wrong, and even when the late money came in for Austria bringing the price in on the winners market to 4.7 just behind Sweden on 3.9 I took a step back as most professional gamblers would do thinking It would be beaten the Netherlands Sweden or in my case Hungary.(Ultimately no one has a crystal ball). Emmelie De Forest was another “TDS” almost out of a Mills & Boon novel set in the american civil war it has timeless dream feel to it. Loreen’s Euphoria is another will it ever age? Hell No, because it’s from another time from the future. Past Present or Future “TDS” is what we should all be looking for. So what song in this years Eurovision line up has “TDS”? Well there’s two in my opinion firstly Slovenia’s Maraaya have it. Now lot’s of you have been saying lose the headphones get rid of that violinist, but the headphones and violinist send the performance into the timeless state and the white wedding dress hints at a “Virginity” angle, it’s a pure Timeless Dream State performance. Estonia even with the only song that has any real hook this year and my personal favourite may I add, it has no “TDS” and in Estonia’s staging (Unlike Maraaya’s hint at Wedding night coming together), Elina and Stig have already done the dirty deed and have now split up and are singing about it all to the world and his wife and judging on what there staging looks like, well this could of been easily been staged in the lighting section of the nearest Habitat. Estonia have messed up the win here I’m afraid. My second choice song that has “TDS” and what I think has great chance of winning this year is Sweden, “Heroes” doesn’t have the hook of “Goodbye To Yesterday” but does pack a punch in the chorus, and after watching Mans Zelmerlow performance on the Melodifestivalen he has all the boxes ticked for me. Again the staging has futuristic feel to it, the lights and lasers give of the graphics of an early 80’s Atari computer game and lacking the complexity of a modern X box or Playstation say and at first I felt this could of been done much better, but this gives “Heroes” a timeless feel and mix in Mans Zelmerlow Non threatening good looks, We could well have this years winner. (Now I wonder does Mans own a pair of headphones?)

    • Montell

      Great thoughts, chewy. I agree with everything you said.

    • Dash Berlin

      I agree with some of what you say chewy. One thing you hit the nail on the head with – is last years winner.
      Most of the posts on here had it down as a “dated Bond theme” that would make the final but no challenge to the win. I loved the song from the outset, backed it and obviously regret laying back a lot of it on the night as I got caught up in the Sweden wave.
      The Netherlands (the main challenger) again was written off by most people on here (before staging seen) as a dull song that wasn’t as good as the Netherlands previous years attempt.

      If last year taught us anything, it’s not to jump too quickly on a song that can/can’t win.

    • Michael Jaker

      Love this TDS concept. Genius.

      In terms of winners, I think we should be looking for ‘Confidence + Magic’.

      The performers need to be supremely confident. Confident in themselves, their song, the staging etc.

      And then the stage needs to be inhabited in a magical fashion. It never works to be too intense or heavy because it kills the magic. The confident performers bring a lightness of touch which brings viewers with them, without seeming desperate.

      (BTW, for me this this rules out Estonia & Slovenia from wining this year. Neither feel confident enough to me, and I’m not feeling any magic on stage, partly because of that. Måns however…).

      • chewy wesker

        Thanks Michael, “TDS” was years in the making. Although made to look obsolete now, what with Ben’s Mum judging a song on the “Face like a smacked Arse” theory. (Using her system is far better than mine)

        • She says sorry! 😉

          It’s a good theory though. But then how do you explain winners such as Ell/Nikki, Lena and Dima?

          • Tim B

            Ell and Nikki cheated in an extremely weak year, and I would argue that Lena was definitely a TDS – it was timeless and totally irrelevant of what year it was performed in (as much as I dislike it).

          • How was Lena irrelevant of her year? I’d say she was a decent representation of pop music for the time. People overcomplicate the reasons for Lena’s victory in retrospect as if she was an exception to a rule, 2010 was what I consider to be a horribly weak year (with very sterile production from NRK too) and Lena won because she had something people actually want to listen to rather than all the other cheesy big chorus crap.

          • chewy wesker

            Lena comes under “manic pixie dream girl” stick in a funny singing style and sexy young goth look. You get “TDS” it’s simple.

          • Ben Gray

            I’m confused then, because I don’t understand what TDS means or what relevance it has if it’s drawing similarities between Conchita, Loreen, Maraaya and Lena. They’re so dissimilar.

          • chewy wesker

            All so dissimilar, but all living the dream “Timeless Dream State” you gotta live the dream Ben, you gotta live the dream……..

  • John

    So many points by so many people! Where to start.

    Chiefly, looks elsewhere than Estonia folks. We won’t have another cosy couple repeat last years success. Lightning won’t strike twice (there’s certainly no sparks between Stig and his ladyfriend). Plus it was always the intimate staging which elevated Netherlands. A Timeless Dream State, you could say – I like this idea btw. Netherlands was pure art. Estonia is not, it’s just perfectly fine.

    The UKs song is fine and stands out. The issue is the vocals and staging which will need to be tight. I’m pessimistic. I also think the scatty bit kills the song stone dead where the middle 8 should build it up.

    Finally Germany – will NOT be last. It’s a classy, somewhat jazzy entry, with vocals more or less as marmite as Slovenias, and importantly the singer is confident and camera friendly. About 18-24 for Germany I’d say. Again they’ve picked a song that’s fine on it’s own terms, just not much of a Eurovision belter. It will also soak up some jury love.

    I’m still favouring Australia, Italy and Sweden and awaiting Russia/Azerbaijan’s staging. I can’t see anyone else challenging the win.

  • One country that I’m sure is still a bit underrated is Albania. If the UK were sending I’m Alive this year, it would probably be at about 15.0 on Betfair and 10/1 on the high street, after a positive fanboy reaction. Speaking of fanboys, is anyone else going to Eurovision In Concert in Amsterdam this year? Looking at the line up (which probably isn’t yet complete), Albania is the one country that sticks out as guaranteed to go down a storm with that audience, which could push its price down on Betfair, as could the OGAE results, which are likely to score them highly. I think it would be unwise to rule out an Albanian victory; it’s an epic-sounding song performed by the best singer in the contest and is one which will impress the juries. I’m keeping it a large green until the first semi-final at least.

  • Seductive Barry

    Great article EV, knowledgeable and highly readable. I’m looking forward to the rest of your contributions. Would it be rude to ask you what your background is?

    Its interesting how people are taking such entrenched views over the UK entry. To me the key fact is that as much as the detractors look down their nose at it there are many people who love this song, and amongst those who appreciate it, myself included, it is generating more enthusiasm than any UK entry in recent history.

    I can’t totally put my finger on why I like it, and I’ve no idea whether it will also appeal to non British voters. Layers however seem not to be burdened with such a lack of confidence, they appear to be certain that its appeal is uniquely British and that the song can therefore be safely discounted.

  • Donal Ryan

    Regarding Estonia this year I feel they are a poormans Common Linnets. TCL were an absolute one off with possibly one of the best staged performances ever seen at Eurovision. They got a wonderful draw and sang from 24th place against Conchitas less than favourable 11th slot in a poorer contest than this year and still lost by over 50 points. Its hard to see Elina and Stig win in light of that.

    Without passing any personal comment on the UK’s entry I will ask a question, does anybody remember when you could get odds of 100/1 on them?

    • chewy wesker

      Hello Donal, maybe I can answer your question. Bonnie Tyler was a 100/1 with the high street bookies and 200 on betfair exchange on the day of the final, Odds on the UK tend to Yo-Yo from year to year with Engelbert Humperdinck being 18.5 on the exchange very short despite being first on. Molly had lots of backers she was 11/1 on the high street 15.5 on the exchange. This year the odds on the UK are big again as punters including me have given up hope. Although price may well come in a little on final day, (what’s known as a dead cat bounce)

      • Donal Ryan

        Thanks Chewy, in truth I didn’t think an entry from the UK was ever 100/1 but in Bonnies case I suppose that price was a fair reflection of her chances.
        May I ask you another question? I noticed your reaction to Russias entry this year and felt the same thing and have continued to back Polina on Betfair every time the song goes to high 20’s. The price on the highstreet is slowly coming in but there seems to be many determined layers on BF. Have you softened your opinion on Polina’s chances?

        • chewy wesker

          Donal, I haven’t taken any price on Russia in the win market. However “A Million Voices” is the kinda ballad I just love, and I’ll be looking in the top ten market for this one, the Tolmachevy sisters got a safe 7th place finish last year and with the Ukraine conflict going on they were a massive 4.3 for a top ten you won’t get anywhere near that on Polina Gagarina however but if you got say 1.38 for a top ten this IMO would be buying money (that’s if your a big odds on type backer) but however I don’t think Russia can win in the outright market, in fact I think the price on Russia may well drift. I think Russia will go of at 42 on the exchange. This is depending if Finland qualify from semi-final 1, who I would put just ahead of Russia. Sweden Slovenia are two I think will shorten as we get near to the final. Sweden at 2.3 and Slovenia at 13.5 there are one or two that I could see shorten up in triple digits just outside the outright top ten. I won’t alert you to which ones I’m backing as I want the value for myself. Sorry, but it’s easy profit from Eurovision you’ve just got to use your ears & eyes point you to the prize.

          • Tim B

            But if Russia wins semi-final 1 – as plenty are predicting at this stage – how could they be as high as 42.0 before the Grand Final? I think they’ll be closer to 10.0 myself, but obviously let’s wait and see how everything is staged and what catches on after the semis etc.

          • chewy wesker

            It’s hard to read but my final prices on the day of the final are (that’s if all top ten reach the final) are:
            Sweden 2.3
            Italy 8
            Estonia 12.5
            Slovenia 13.5
            Australia 18.5
            Finland 38
            Russia 42
            Azerbaijan 42
            Iceland 46
            Albania 50

            This is a roughly what I think on song appeal only so far, and how the betting market is at the moment and how I think it will play out come the final.

  • Tom Ato

    Pardon the irrelevance but has anyone else noticed the tiny smiley face right at the bottom of the page. Nice touch.

  • James Martin,

    Australia odds are amazing. The song is very american, not a typical Eurovision song, don’t know if it’s good or bad though. Eurovision is show business nowadays. Let’s take Conchita’s win for example. The performance order is very important, EBU decides the winner almost! Odds will change dramatically after Grand Final running order of the songs declared.

    Australia’s song is very nice and it’s different. Can they win? They have zero neighbors, on the other hand, they’re guests; so they’re neighbor to every country in Europe. However, if people think “Australia? WTF? They shouldn’t be in Europe” then they may get a big penalty in televoting.

    Can’t see any outsider pulling off an upset here except Australia. Finland? No. Russia? Nobody will participate in Eurovision 2016 if Russia wins. Azerbaijan? Boring song and Azerbaijan cannot afford it financially. Norway? Another boring ballad. Iceland? Well, cute pixie girl concept is good but song is not good. If it was a good song, they could win the whole thing. UK? I think UK will get the best result this year. Don’t think they will win though.

    It lefts Sweden, Italy, Estoia, Slovenia, Australia for win.

  • Boki

    In an interview for a local TV Stig was talking about Estonia’s staging. They are going to recreate the atmosphere from the video clip as much as possible. There will be a “bathroom” on stage with mirror and bloody knife included! At first he didn’t want to talk about Elina but when pushed he admitted she will be laying naked just as in the clip!!!
    They are still negotiating with the EBU to avoid breaking the rules since it’s a family show but he is confident they will manage it since a big and very influential mattress/bad manufacturer is going to sponsor the whole thing and there is no better commercial opportunity for them than ESC. When asked if he is going to be distracted by her naked presence he just blushed…

    • chewy wesker

      Hmmmmm so instead of the stage looking like a Habitat store, it will look more like Victoria plumbing. Not sure how this will go down for them. But thanks Boki for finding this out.

  • Tim B

    Hey Boki, is it April 1st where you are? You had me until you mentioned it’s to be sponsored by an influential bed manufacturer!!!!

    • Boki

      It was supposed to be fresh news for Wednesday morning, thanks for ruining it, at least I got chewy 🙂

      • chewy wesker

        You don’t really think I fall for that old nonsense do you Boki……Please Come on….Don’t be so silly…. Now I’m of to Tescos to see those new trampolines they have, to help customers reach the top shelves. :-0

  • Tim B

    So Daniel, how was the Electro Velvet performance at Eurovision’s 60th anniversary concert?

    • Daniel

      Hey Tim, I thought it was fine, no more no less. They hit the notes, the crowd enjoyed it. Some wondered about the chemistry; I was too far away to judge that. I remain a pessimist about it, but let’s be fair on this occasion: it was their first live performance – to a huge crowd – and they didn’t disgrace themselves in the slightest. I’ve seen much much worse from a first live duet effort. Anyone else see Aysel and Arash at that year’s Russian final? Car crash doesn’t begin to describe that. 🙂

    • Daniel

      Here’s a video of their performance:

      • live report

        Thanks for this.

        Did anything stand out or surprise (for good or bad)?

        The UK seemed pretty good to me. As you say they hit all the right notes and in the right order…. always a bonus.

        I’ve heard a fair bit that he can’t sing but he clearly can. The truth is he is a very experienced live performer it may not be at a chart level but that doesn’t mean he is without talent. You only have to look at programmes like The Voice to see that there are lots of very good singers who don’t make it (and look at the charts to see plenty who aren’t good singers who do- Cheryl Cole, anyone?)

        At this stage of the game it’s a bit as good as could be expected. We don’t know about the staging or the performance which is clearly the key for this entry but it seems that they can sing it live.

        The juries still out…. and I’m not ruling out Top 10 just yet.

        • dicksbits

          The problem remains that it’s not a serious entry. It’s one long chorus. Sure it’s catchy, but after 2 minutes you’ve heard enough. I see this bottom 7 I’m afraid. Like Belgium and the Netherlands qualification chances (every year), this is the usual bottom of the scoreboard stuff.

          • live report

            I agree that it feels 30 seconds too long. I guess this is where the staging and performance aspect kick in. As with most UK entries this is the worry. The UK delegation seem incapable of making all other parts of their entry greater than the song. Can they do it this time?

            Interesting in the video that it’s the scatting bit that gets the crowd excited.

            I like to draw the odd parallel and whilst it’s a completely different type of song the outside the box thinking form the Beeb reminds of Love City Grove.

            I concede that bottom 7 is a possibility and yet….. something tells me it’ll do better. However, in all honesty I’m not confident enough to put my money where my mouth is so perhaps that says it all.

      • That was actually alright! He can cut it live, and she definitely can sing.

  • Polina Gagarina’s first live performance for Russia here.

    My god, she can sing! Enjoy 🙂

  • Ron

    Sweden has pulled the “Heroes” live video due to a potential copyright issue with the pointy hat character. It looks like because of this, the animation will be changed for Vienna. They’ll probably just give the character a bobble hat and we’ll see virtually the same show as Melfest.

    • Ben Gray

      I think that’s a risky assumption. Mans had previously alluded to the addition of pyros being in discussion during MF, and that they will revisit that discussion now for Vienna. Change was always on the cards, and now they have an opportunity to attempt to improve the performance from the ground up. I’m sure it will still be “an animation” projected onto the screen, but I would have trouble sleeping at night if my backing of Sweden relied on assuming everything but the character’s appearance will be exactly the same.

      Let’s get real for a moment here. Sweden is the favourite on the back of having a highly polished product, the most sure of itself, the most ready to go, and on the face of it, it rings winner bells more than Italy does at this stage. The market history shows a gradual decline of the Swedish odds between Mans semi final and victory, compared to the much more immediate drop upon sight of Italy’s rousing popera ballad. The sentiment was that Mans had an amazing performance to boost an otherwise decent, but far from amazing song. That is the entire reason Sweden has been the favourite. The staging.

      But that rug of security has just been pulled out from under our feet, and we now have no greater idea of how exactly Sweden will look in Vienna than we do of Norway. ie “Something like that”, but no longer “that”. With that uncertainty, Sweden’s odds should be at least 4.5, depending on whether you think it’s a better song (and song alone) than Grande Amore.

      • chewy wesker

        Agree Ben, Sweden have messed up the staging before back in 2013 with Robin Stjernberg’s-You,when they changed the lighting from a nice cool light blue to RED N BLACK!!! and stuck him up on some sort of ramp??? The only thing I’ll say about “Heroes” is that when I watched it for the first time, I actually thought Mans didn’t need all the projections going on around him, I think the song has a much wider appeal than people give it credit for way more so than Italy or Estonia. The cartoon animation will just have a small adjustment imo and may even improve somewhat. However if I do see a drift on Sweden to 4.5 I’ll know things have gone badly wrong!

      • They already confirmed they’ll just update the outfit of the little animated dude (as Måns put it: “it’s not winter anymore, of course he can’t wear the same clothes”). If you think that motivates an almost halving of Sweden’s chances, sure – but given the lack of movement in the market most don’t seem to agree. I for one would be delighted, as I’ve sold off some of my green at the currently levels (before this “shock”), and wouldn’t mind refilling at juicier odds again.

        • Not true, Squall. They have confirmed the character’s clothes will change. They have not confirmed that everything else will stay the same.

        • Infact, Bjorkman himself virtually confirms that more than just the character will be changed in this translated excerpt from the link that Ron provided above.

          “But now that it has happened, I see still opportunities in this – now we can sharpen the number to the race in May.”

          So until rehearsals, the staging (the whole reason for Sweden’s favouritism) has more or less fallen into a state of limbo. It has ceased to exist as we know it. Sweden’s odds should be going up as a result. Simple logic.

  • I started hedging some of my Sweden. I’m putting some on Italy. It’s Swed, Italy or Estonio imo, Australia being the dark horse.

  • Guys, let’s be realistic. Russia can’t win. Nobody will participate Eurovision next year if Russia win. Still should take a respectable place in Top 10, maybe 4th-5th.

    • Dash Berlin

      You are wrong, it’s such a simplistic way of looking at things. If the song is stages well enough, it can certainly win. How can it be prevented from winning if its the best song?

      • Ron

        Russia would have to enter a truly outstanding song for it to overcome its political reputation and inspire enough voting to win.

        • I’m with Emre (and Ron) on this one.

        • Well, if the true dictatorship Azerbaijan could win, I’m not so sure it would be impossible for semi-dictatorship Russia. Also remember the extreme voting power Russia has with the former USSR states, outweighing much of the potential (and unconfirmed) negative with the western voters.

          • Donal Ryan

            Squall is spot on. Russia achieved 7th last year with a truly horrendous effort and the incursion into Ukraine fresh in peoples minds. The twins were 100/1 on the high street and 150/1 on BF, a poor 15th slot and still achieved a credible result by way of friendly ex USSR states combined with a huge diaspora.

            In fact in 2006 when the won with a poor song only 29% of their final vote came from the west. In short Russia starts every Eurovision with a head start on most countries.

            While its possible to theorize that Russia might be punished for their foreign policy I wonder if the larger Eurovision audience will take it upon themselves to hinder the barefoot girl in the simple white dress who sings the most powerful ballad this year?

          • Boki

            The twins were booed last year, not sure if that was to hear during the show on TV but it certainly could provoke some sympathy votes, especially from the allies. It seems this year it might happen again:

          • Donal Ryan

            Yes indeed Boki, I remember the booing last year but didn’t notice the boos at the Eurovision celebration however I’m sure they were heard in eastern europe. Brings to mind one of my first ever science lessons ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’

  • Donald

    Hi all , HAPPY EASTER, missed you all 🙂 been too busy to concentrate and contribute but that will change this weekend, watching BBC 1 tonight.. One comment I got laugh out of was the one about SIA when Australia were let in. bit of trivia Australia have already had a winner, Johnny Logan born there..

    Oh is the fireman going to win Voice? I had few quid on early doors, another Ben…

  • Ben Cook

    Am I the only one who thinks Polina is as flat as pancake in that live video?

    • mawnck

      Nope. You are absolutely correct. She is definitely singing flat on that video.

      But after that inept, but universally praised, performance by Alex on that live video of Electro Velvet, I’ve officially given up on commenting re: singing ability, which in most Eurovision fans’ minds appears to be based SOLELY on “do I like the record or not”.

      I just won’t allow any Eurovision fan to tune my piano, is all.

  • Well having listened to em all, it’s the UK, Sweden and Australia who stand out in an ocean of ballads.

    I’m sticking with Oz and covering myself on Sweden.

    • Donal Ryan

      Unconcerned by Italy, James?

      • Not unconcerned, but not as convinced it’ll come in.

        • Tom Ato

          Italy are more than opera, they are a young poperatic trio with a knock out song and a pair of red glasses, they are actually very unique this year and I think they’ll stand out on the night for these reasons. For me it is Italy or Australia. I’m less concerned about Sweden, I didn’t like the song at all when I first heard it and like it even less after more listens. I hope on the night the projector malfunctions lol ;p

  • I started to like Italy’s chances. It was Conchita’s beard last year, this year it’s the Big-Red-Glass guy in Il Volo. Mans Zelmerlow will left in mind of spectators with projection animation show but Sweden just won 3 years ago. I doubt EBU will give it to Sweden again. Il Volo’s song “Grande Amore” has a “winner” smell.

    • Ron

      I’m cautious about Italy, following the hype and bust with France in 2011. Il Volo and “Grande Amore” will no doubt appeal to many viewers, but popera isn’t a universally liked genre and it doesn’t seem likely to have broad enough appeal to be a winner.

      “I doubt EBU will give it to Sweden again.” What do you mean by this? The televoting and jury voting are always audited, and as we saw last year with Georgia, if the EBU smell a rat, they won’t hesitate to declare a jury invalid.

      The only thing the EBU have a little control over is the running order, though that is primarily chosen by the host broadcaster and is about making a good television show. Considering the very favourable slot that “Undo” was given in the final last year, I don’t think the EBU is actively doing anything to handicap Sweden in the running order.

      • Donal Ryan

        Hi Ron, with respect I have to disagree with a couple of points. II Volo are a crossover act that are a lot closer to pop that opera. Amaury’s effort back in 2011 was pure opera, not easily digestible and he was not particularly likable. In fact his performance on the night was disappointing and that was commented upon by Daniel on this site at that time. The Italian trio are unlikely to have these problems as they are a well polished act and desirable to the ladies.

        The EBU will not of course cheat but can hinder a countries chances. Consider last year, The Ukraine and Armenia were considered by many to be less than desirable venues for the 60th Eurovision and look what happened. The Ukraine ‘drew’ the first slot and Armenia ‘drew’ seventh slot. It was suggested at the time that Sweden were not ready to host again and received a thirteenth slot, I’m sorry to disagree with you but this is far from an ideal draw. Recent history suggests that a later draw is where the winner will come from, 2013-18th; 2012-17th; 2011-19th, 2010-22nd; 2009-20th; 2008-24th.

        Its still questionable if Sweden wants to win again so soon and nobody here can be sure about that one way or another. The problem that the EBU has is that since Russia won in 2008 the contest winners have a very western look with Norway, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Austria only being interrupted by Azerbaijan. More specifically three out of the last six winners are Nordic and its a hard sell to encourage Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia and Slovenia back let alone face further dropouts if that statistic becomes four from seven.

        • Ron

          Sweden couldn’t have been given any of those sweet later positions as they were randomly drawn to perform in the first half of the final. DR put them 13th, the latest possible slot in the first half.

          And it gets even better. Normally 13 would have come at the end of the first half, but DR moved the midway break to between 12 and 13, so Sweden got to make an impact by opening the second half – and it put some space between Sanna the other first-half favourite, Conchita.

          Considering Sweden came third in the competition (which reflected their placing in the semi-finals) I’d say they weren’t handicapped in any way.

  • Expecting Sweden odds to raise above 3,00 and Italy to drop below 5,00.

  • Tom Ato

    A bit of live acoustic singing of Tonight Again from Guy Sebastian.

  • Quick curveball for those who participate in betting on both shows: the running order of The X Factor is just one of many tools used by producers to engineer the result they want. Does anyone feel the producer-decided running order is helping to throw countries under the bus or pimp them in Eurovision?

  • Well, The Running Order is not decided random, it’s decided by EBU. It gives EBU a big control over winner..

    About Songu thing..Well, there’s too much difference between Songu and Grande Amore in my opinion.Conchita won last year, her song was not opera but it was not a typical pop song either. I prefer to call it “bond-like” but we can call it “a little bit” opera-like too.

    As long as you success to left in mind of the spectators, you have a shot in this show. It was Alexander Rybak’s violin, The Ice Skater and Flop-Haired Violinistin in Believe, Lordi’s monster music (and show!), Conchita’s beard last year. What we got this year? Slovenia (Headphones and Air Violinist), Sweden (Projection Mapping Animation show) and The Big-Red-Glass Boy! Yes, I’m talking about the tenor guy in Il Volo.

    Anyway, I’m expecting Sweden odds to raise above 3 and Italy odds to drop below 5 very soon! If odds drop for Italy, it’s a good sign you know, they will probably win. The Line Movement will show us the winner fellas, remember 😀

    Do you remember what happened last year? My whole risk was on Sweden and Armenia. After I saw the big line movement on Austria, I backed bearded lady, going ALL-IN. She was a hopeless outsider before semi finals at 50/1. After her semi-final performance, odds dropped to 9/1. Just before Grand Final, she became the favourite, dropped below 3/1! And she won.

    Money does not lie, fellas. Money never lies 😀

    • Ron

      The running order is not decided by the EBU. It’s decided by the host broadcaster, but the EBU has final approval it to make sure it’s fair. There’s no conspiracy.

  • Boki

    The running order is indeed decided but what still remains random is the upper or lower half. Or do you guys want to insinuate that the draw is fixed?

  • Sagand

    No, I think the EBU has gone out of their way to not interfere with the winner. If you do well in your semi or are one of the favourites you’ll be towards the end of your half. It does seem like they have tried to give regular non-qualifying or under performing countries a hand. Which makes sense with their incentives, they don’t care too much who wins but want as many countries as possible taking part.

    I disagree with those denying the similarity between Sognu and Grande Amore. There’s the same language barrier, the same genre barrier, I expect the same lack of stage show and same problem of the song taking itself too seriously. Sognu went in as favourite and finished 15th in a weak year, it performed badly with jury and public. The missing element wasn’t a pair of red glasses and two more people.

    • Donal Ryan

      Leaving personal opinion aside I would cite YouTube hits: II Volo 19,300,000 after seven weeks, Amaury Vassili 743,000 after four years, that’s the difference.

      • mawnck

        YouTube hits are the single most meaningless thing you can possibly cite.

        Vassili got nervous and sang very poorly. The end.

        Unless you think Il Volo is going to get nervous and sing poorly, Vassili isn’t even relevant to the discussion.

        • sonovox

          … weren’t you on here like one day ago telling us all how fans can’t tell good from bad singing?

          • mawnck

            I was. But the “fans” don’t cast the majority of the call-in votes. The general public does.

            Besides, Vassili was REALLY bad.

      • Ron

        Something to keep in mind – Il Volo have a huge fan base in the United States and Latin America, which is one of the reasons why the Grande Amore video is so popular.

        • Donal Ryan

          Agreed Ron, its impossible to quantify what percentage of these hits are attributable to existing fans who will have no vote in the final. If I were to hazard a guess maybe over 50%. 10,000,000 is still a phenomenal level of general interest which suggests a broad support which in my view is superior to any single individual standpoint.

          While YouTube is a blunt tool but it cannot be dismissed out of hand as irrelevant. In Daniel’s own words: ‘Eurovision Top Tip No.10: YouTube is your friend: Youtube is like the formbook of Eurovision. But you need to know how to assess what you’re seeing.’

  • Montell

    I would love if Sweden won again. I hope they would choose Petra Mede to be a presenter again. To me she was the best presenter of all Eurovisions that I’ve seen. I also remembered this short video from 2013 which always make me smile 🙂

  • Sagand

    Vassili’s final performance certainly wasn’t good, but that doesn’t explain his 12th place in the jury vote (behind Eric Saade and Jedward). After his jury performance he was still market leader; the market didn’t catch on until the public was involved.

    It is my belief that opera/ popera is too niche and won’t win without a killer gimmick. Italy doesn’t yet have a killer gimmick.

    • Donal Ryan

      I have to agree with you that Italy doesn’t have a gimmick nor do I anticipate one however they have a USP which is their sound. It will be put to the test in May whether its too niche or simply a standout performance. Time will tell.

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