Eurovision 2015: Eurovision in Concert review

First, the usual disclaimer about Eurovision preview concerts. It’s a good chance to see many of the performers sing live for the first time, but it doesn’t necessarily give us any indication of how an entry will do on the very different Eurovision stage. For example, whilst Conchita may have been welcomed as a conquering hero at last year’s Amsterdam event, the Dutch entry kept completely under the radar, even on home territory, hampered by a terrible sound mix and without the inspired staging that lifted it in Copenhagen.

So bear that in mind, as I run through last night’s show. You can make your own mind up by watching the videos of last night’s performances. The few on the official Eurovision website generally cut out the crowd noise until the end, which helps isolate the vocal performance, but for a comprehensive selection with a better sense of crowd reaction, head to the essential ESCKaz YouTube channel.

We were missing Italy, Estonia and Russia among this year’s leading contenders, which meant Sweden and Australia were the most fancied entries on show. Kept till near the end, I felt they justified their elevated position in bookmakers’ lists for Vienna. Sweden are contest favourites which always means being judged to a more exacting standard as value-seekers attempt to pick holes. I’m not a natural fan of ‘Heroes’ and have some sympathy with the “style over substance” critiques, but Mans Zelmerlow did a good job of dispelling some of these doubts thanks to a highly polished performance without the animation stage show.

People have been looking for arguments to oppose the Swedish entry, but last night only reminded me of its strengths: a highly accessible and immediate pop song, very ably performed, that stands out from the competition. Mans’ vocals have come on a huge amount since the days of ‘Cara Mia’, and there’s great movement around the stage just when it’s required, which means ‘Heroes’ doesn’t fall into the trap of being too static. The animation show is a clever way to ensure there’ll be a sense of interaction too, though the song didn’t feel as lacking without it last night as I had envisaged.

I highly respect Australia as strong competition to the deserving favourite, and last night provided confirmation bias of that. Guy Sebastian’s vocals and performance were excellent, especially given that ‘Tonight Again’ is a pretty demanding number that doesn’t give him a break. Fortunately, he’s more than up to the task; the talent that has propelled his longstanding career shines through, and should impress juries in Vienna, as it did those watching yesterday.

I’m going to move onto the other crowd favourites last night. Local representative Trijntje Oosterhuis had her home audience singing an encore of her song, though I really could have done without even more of the “why?” refrain. The same man is responsible for staging this in Vienna as supervised ‘Calm After The Storm’ last year. I wish him good luck trying to disguise the overly-repetitive and bland nature of ‘Walk Along’.

Israel’s entry was a fan favourite in 2014, and that looks like being repeated this time, if the reception to 16-year-old Nadav Guedj last night is anything to go by. I have been sceptical based on his performance in a national final that felt like the singing equivalent of ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t They?’. But some of my cynicism melted away last night: his vocals were sound enough; his dance moves grew in confidence; and best of all, he looked like he was having the time of his life on stage, which is just what’s required for ‘Golden Boy’. Early rehearsal footage suggests there will be three male backing dancers to provide movement, and two backing singers – which feels like a sound decision.

The reaction to Serbia’s Bojana Stemanov was massive. No surprise that a big, brassy lady in a big, sequinned outfit, with a message that being different is great – in a song which goes from power ballad to disco belter halfway through – goes down very well with a Eurovision audience. I still think the mood change powered by a eurodance beat in ‘Beauty Never Lies’ is as anathema to juries as it is catnip to the gays.

Ballads have more of a problem getting across to a boozed-up gig crowd, so it is to Lisa Angell’s credit that she got a huge response from ‘N’oubliez Pas’. The French entrant displayed impeccable vocals, and the audience clearly felt that this type of francophone ballad is timeless in a Eurovision context – rather than straight out of 2001. It was one of the six big moments of last night, alongside the other entries mentioned above.

The big power ballad works better to this crowd than something much quieter. Hence a decent reception to Greek entrant, Maria Elena Kyriakou, who showed excellent vocals for ‘One Last Breath’ even if the song lacks much of a melody. It was harder for Cypriot Giannis Karagiannis to connect to the audience with ‘One Thing I Should Have Done’ though there was nothing wrong with his performance at all.

The same can be said for Poland’s Monika Kuszynska. ‘In the Name of Love’ feels competent enough in its studio version, and Monika does her best to emote, but there’s something about it on stage that makes you think of going to the bar or toilet instead. That semi-final pimp slot and diaspora allies may come in necessary for qualification.

There were plenty of strong vocals on display last night. One to single out was Latvia’s Aminata. I think the fortunes of ‘Love Injected’ are one of the most difficult to predict for Vienna. I’m not sure if viewers will take to it after one listening, even though I hope they do. Meanwhile, I may not particularly like Hungary’s ‘Wars For Nothing’ and it seemed like the audience largely agreed with me, but Boggie sold it well despite the muted reaction – she created a big vocal moment towards the end of the song, that may help her with juries in Vienna.

Albania’s Elhaida Dani has a lovely texture to her voice, though the sound mix was not being particularly helpful for her rendition of ‘I’m Alive’ last night. I felt the other one to suffer most in this respect came straight afterwards, and that was Macedonia’s Daniel Kajmoski. When his vocals could properly be heard, there was nothing wrong with them either.

Low expectations can create positive surprises in their own limited context. That was the case for Moldova’s Eduard Romanyuta last night, whose vocals sounded better here than in the Moldovan national final. He and his team have their slightly sleazy dance routine showcased back then down pat. Once I’d got past his appearance as a slightly cheesy crooner, Montenegro’s Knez also put plenty of passion into ‘Adio’. Both these entries have an uphill struggle from poor draws in their respective semis, but having not got involved yet, I felt slightly less inclined to lay qualification after yesterday.

There was something of the opposite effect for Slovenia’s Maraaya, a fancied entry that didn’t quite get the big audience reaction I anticipated. I still think wearing a lace dress and headphones looks incongruous, and the latter subconsciously limits interaction with the audience, especially when the lead singer’s eyes are closed as frequently as they were last night. But it’s a strong tune that deserves to do well. I feel the same way about Norway’s ‘A Monster Like Me’, the final minute of which offers an excellent emotional punch. But I still have the feeling the duet is not coming across quite as well as it should, and I think it’s because Debrah Scarlett doesn’t quite nail it the way Morland does.

Azerbaijan’s Elnur Huseynov got a good response for ‘Hour of the Wolf’. When he could be heard over the loud, choir-like backing track, his vocals were excellent. He interacted well with the audience, which will be required for a number that could come across as a little inaccessible. Lithuania’s ‘This Time’ is all about accessibility: Vaidas and Monika still have great chemistry and they don’t look bored of repeating the mid-song kiss. This also got a good reaction. You know what you’re getting with them, and the same can be said for Austria’s The Makemakes, which was also competently performed.

Ann Sophie gives it her all for ‘Black Smoke’. So much so that it feels a little bit try hard at times, though I think juries might appreciate her efforts more. Georgia’s Nina Sublatti also puts up a combative performance with decent vocals for ‘Warrior’, though I can’t for the life of me make out half the words she’s singing.

Selling the UK entry was always going to be difficult without any backing dancers around. There was nothing wrong with Electro Velvet’s vocals, but exposed without help on stage, the duo looked slightly stilted despite their best efforts for ‘Still in Love With You’. Basically, the song requires Pasha Parfeny and Ani Lorak levels of performance, and a dance routine to back it up.

If there was a disappointment for me last night, it came from Belarus. The inability to rhyme anything with “thunder” in the chorus might be my pet hate this year, and it makes the song even more repetitive. Uzari and Maimuna need to interact more with each other, as there was a tendency to act separately to the audience last night. I can’t understand why ‘Time’ is relatively elevated in the markets; perhaps it’s something to do with the strong team working behind the scenes for Vienna.

As always, let us know your thoughts below.

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118 comments to Eurovision 2015: Eurovision in Concert review

  • Chris Bellis

    That’s all dead right, apart from the Belarus comment. I thought the performance was good, and can see why the market gives it a good rating. I hope it gets through.

    • Alan

      I agree with Chris. I hadn’t realised what you said about their rhyming of thunder until you pointed it out (and despite it being true perhaps it is because you’ve heard it many times and a first time listener wouldn’t). I think it could do very well

  • Shai

    Azerbaijan – He was singing with close eyes, through 90% of the song. I think he will need to work on that because h will not be connecting with audience at home.

    It was a fun event, as always and this year there were no big hitches in the vocals. Most of the actes came quite preperd.

  • Gert

    Still, Eurovision is not a concert. And Eurovision-in-Concert is a concert. The interaction there is always with the public. And although it’s fun if there’s public interaction on the contest, in the end it’s about the interaction with televoters and judges.

    It’s one of the reason why I’m so happy I saw the Eurovision performance of The Common Linnets on my 42 inch Ambilight TV, with my DTS Harman Kardon Surround Set…..and not “live” in the hall.

    Think about this for quite a lot of entries that this year will perform in Vienna. Ask yourself which countries have the biggest staging potential from the information you know so far.

    Having said that: It’ll be SWEDEN or AUSTRALIA for the victory ;-).

  • Wow, Australia odds started to drop! Looks promising! I’ll be happy if Australia wins but I’m a little bit confused about Australia’s televoting performance. How people will react them? Some countries in Europe are not very stranger-friendly. They may say Australia? WTF? Why they’re participating in Eurovision.

    • Chris Bellis

      They said the same about Azerbaijan but that made no difference. They also said that “homophobic” East European countries wouldn’t vote for Conchita, but they did. The Eurovision voters and juries are probably not that representative of the more xenophobic and conservative elements in their own countries.

      • Azerbaijan bought votes though. We saw what happened last year when they didn’t.

      • Dash Berlin

        “They” were correct about Azerbaijan, as eurovicious points out.
        You cannot take a country and suggest they won’t vote for something – and this is a point I was driving home to people last year.
        If I live in Eastern Europe and I’m a stereotypical person that hates gays and I’m horrified by this woman with a beard – I cannot anti-vote for Austria. All I can do is vote for Ukraine/Russia or whatever, I cannot stop all the other normal people that don’t have such hatred voting for Austria.

  • UK – girl great, guy sticks his hands in his pockets while she’s singing 🙁 He should do a little dancing like she does while he’s singing.

    Unfortunately the UK don’t normally get good directors to sort them out.

    Still, whoever is laying at 3 figures is taking a risk.

  • Serbia – the final minute looks like an intensification and a gaining of confidence which goes with the lyrics and looks quite natural to me. I see no reason for juries to punish this.

  • dicksbits

    I cannot for the life of me see how the French entry is relevant to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Dire song to say the least. Lithuania, Iceland and Germany are the most underrated. Slovenia & Estonia the most overrated. UK will do marginally better than previous entries. 16th.

  • Tom Ato

    Guy Sebastian on Dutch TV with a bit of info about the final performance and a splendid rendition of Tonight Again.

  • Chris Bellis

    dicksbits – Slovenia and Estonia both have good songs. It’s the performances which will tell us whether the bets are justified. I put small bets on both of them ages ago, when odds were better. I wouldn’t bet at current prices. I put shedloads on Sweden before the selection. Again, I wouldn’t bet at current prices.

  • Very nice peformance! This song has a great rhythm feeling like Uptown Funk. Should get a good jury vote. But he needs a good show on stage that will left on mind of spectators just like Sweden.

    • Dash Berlin

      Its a risk getting too involved in the final markets, as the draw will be crucial. If Australia get a 1st half draw, it would kind of seal its fate

      • But three of last year’s top four were in the first half.

        • Boki

          Indeed. You can also count that someone like Australia will get reasonably good position in its half.

          • Yes. Draw won’t stop a contender, and a contender won’t be placed by producers in the first quarter. That’s just bad TV. Draw will affect the lower 75% of the scoreboard for better or worse, but a winner will win from anywhere.

          • Ben Cook

            Not sure about a winner will win from anywhere. A runaway winner maybe, but if it was close, draw could be crucial.

        • Ron

          The producers know who the top placed performers are from the semis and will position the final accordingly. Last year Sweden and Austria were both drawn in the first half and performed 11th and 13th, but conveniently enough the midway break was shifted so Sanna performed after the break, giving her more space from Conchita. Good TV!

          • Gert

            Sorry, but this is just guesswork. My first reaction was, when seeing Austria and Sweden perform so closely next to each other: Why do you DO that!?!? It was a potential risky move. And we all know the risks of a commercial break.

            But then we saw the results and came to the conclusion: For countries scoring more than 130 points in the semi’s (usually TOP 2 in the semi’s), it’s safe to say that the draw/starting grid doesn’t really affect its results.

          • Dash Berlin

            I agree Gert, but the producers won’t have this knowledge about Countries that don’t have to qualify

          • Boki

            A simple look at the odds would be sufficient. They don’t have the knowledge but everyone assumes Ita and Aus are the best of automatic qualifiers so the best slots they will get.

  • I had picked Sweden at 12-13 before Melodifestivalen. Instead f hedging it at 2.40, I decided to hedge by picking other contenders. I picked Italy, Estonia, Australia so far and little bit Slovenia. I think one of these countries will win, probably Sweden, Australia or Estonia. Can’t see a 4th option but draw is critical as you said. Expecting Sweden odds to increase (may get above 2,80-2,90) thru final and Australia & Italy odds should drop more.

  • Montell

    I’m very sure Estonia won’t win. The song didn’t gave me goosebumps on the first listen and it didn’t grow on me after more listens. The song is better than the average but that’s all. The song won’t be top 4 either because I can’t see Estonia being better than Sweden, Russia, Italy or Australia. I expect Estonia to take 7th-10th place. Other countries I’d be pleased to see in top 10 are:
    Belgium (very modern and unheard style in Eurovision)
    Slovenia (Adele voice + catchy and well written song)
    Israel (I just love that ethno pop, makes me wanna dance)
    Spain (if live version be as good as studio version)
    Some country that no one expected (Armenia, Romania, UK)

  • dicksbits

    Russia: This falls into the Coca-Cola “I’d like to teach the world to sing” category of Eurovision songs we’ve known and loved down the years. I’d be extremely surprised if this won, and it has to be said: In the current climate, but definite top 6 considering what lacklustre line-up we have this year. Eurovision-by-numbers, I think it’s also a little too ‘old fashioned’ to win.

  • Maraaya covers other artists which is fun in itself:

    But look at the “staging”, interacting and facing each other across the piano, husband and wife. Now if only they had incorporated some of that into their act…

  • Looks like the WINNER started to appear. Australia odds dropping dramatically fellas! Matched 9,4 in Betfair! 10,64 at Pinnacle at the moment!

  • Australia gets matched at 7,00 in Betfair.
    Australia Outright is priced 9,99 İn Pinnacle. Nice arbitrage opportunity fellas..I’m bombing Australia now.

  • john kef

    yesterday was still at 15.00 in bwin…10 minutes after betting on it the price fell at 9.00 and now at 8.00…lucky me!!!

  • Dash Berlin

    When did Armenia start to drift last year? Can anyone remember

  • Donal Ryan

    Yes Dash,
    2nd May 7/4
    5th May 2/1
    6th May 9/4
    8th May 11/4
    9th May (after semi final 2) 7/2
    10th (Day of final) 10/1

  • The stage:

    Anybody know if the acts will be in the area in the middle or in front of that swirling circle of light sticks?

    • Gert

      From what I can see, this will be an even smaller stage than 2013……..if there won’t be a catwalk. All I know so far is that the actual floor will be filled with chairs.

  • John

    I wonder if Australia and Italy’s odds will drift during the semi final rehearsals when some of the other contenders pick up buzz? It’s difficult to see it with the top 3 being so close together.

  • stoney

    The Australian plunge continues. Down to 4/1 at stan james. Are they heading to favouritism come final night? I swear they were 16/1 this time last week. Looking good at this point

  • Oh baby yes babyyy Australia down to 6,4 at Betfair. So far so good, Go Australia!!

  • Donal Ryan

    Happy to have taken Guy at 20’s but do the wise people of Sofabet now consider the price to have come in too much??

    • I think 6.5 – 7.0 is about right.

      • stoney

        It will have to get shorter to win. Recent winners have been around evens on final night. I won’t be getting excited until sweden start drifting and Australia are favourites

        • What surprises me is something as…. pretty minor as a decent performance in Amsterdam caused this massive drop. I was just like “…so, what, you just assumed he’d suck?”

          • stoney

            I have listened to the song a few times and it’s really catchy. I could see it being a hit in the uk. Its million miles better than our entry.

          • Ben Cook

            I think it was just surprising how much a confident performance and a strong vocal lifted the song. I was surprised, even though I’m a long-time Guy Sebastian fan. It’s not very often an entry is better live.

          • Boki

            His involvement in the promotion also has a big influence, none of this would happen if Guy stayed at home. Now we have a seriously committed someone who goes to every part of the Europe, featuring on each party and tv show.

    • Daniel

      The market can make a fool of any prediction about its future movements, but I’m guessing there won’t be a significant drift back out for a few reasons: Guy’s promo continues this weekend in Moscow and London; rehearsals will likewise mean more chances to see his prowess live; the novelty factor of the country’s participation will continue to garner headlines; and guess which country is second only to the UK in its love of Betfair? Yup, Australia.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        The sequel to ‘Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision’ is meant to be in the pipeline.

      • sonovox

        On that, it might be worth knowing that in-play betting on Betfair is disabled from Australia, as it’s illegal (or at least it was when I was still living there). So there might not be much coming in from there to back Guy during the show itself.

  • Donal Ryan

    There seems to be a bit of a herd mentality going on regarding the price drop. Its not like we are living in the pre YouTube era, an 8year old is capable of finding his live performances. We all knew the song for over a month, nothing has changed.

    • Montell

      Agree. This is nothing else but bookies strategy to distribute money equally on all top contenders. Australia’s chances are the same as a few weeks ago.

    • Dash Berlin

      Agree with you both, its still the same song, performed very well live. He won a talent show, so I had always presumed he could sing live. The reasons I don’t think it will win, still remain and haven’t changed because he performed well at a eurovision concert in front of fans who react well to upbeat numbers

  • Donal Ryan

    Article incorrectly claims the closest that Australia came to participating in the contest was with Gina G when in fact Mr. Eurovision himself, Johnny Logan is Australian born. 🙂

  • Have to share this, for anyone like me wondering where the fun has gone out of Eurovision this decade – the 25 songs for Pink Music Festival (Serbia’s domestic knock-off of Eurovision) came out last weekend, and while most of them were duds, this one is EVERYTHING missing in this year’s ESC:

  • Fellas,

    Money NEVER lies. The line movement always wins. Not only in sports betting, also in Eurovision. Actually, it’s even more accurate in Eurovision. I don’t remember a single year where line movement failed to predict the winner. Last year, Conchita dropped from 50 to 9 after Semi Final. She was priced 3.50 thru the start of Televoting. Previous year, Denmark odds dropped and it was the favourite, won with ease. 2012, Euphoria was a heavy favourite, won by a huge margin. 2011, Azerbaijan odds dropped dramatically (15 to 6-7) and Ell&Nikki won. If Australia odds are dropping, then there’s a REASON. However, Sweden odds were also dropped. There’s a key rule about this, it applies to sports betting too. The later line movement is always efficient. There may be a final, one more line movement and maybe for another country. It will show us the winner. If Australia keeps dropping, then they will win. Simple as that. It’s Sweden or Australia for now. Estonia is losing the race, odds are increasing. Let’s see if Italy will be able to put up a good show and join the race in top. They’re 2nd favourite right now but line movement favors Australia.

    • stoney

      Agreed. Sweden are not coming out enough at the moment though. Still plenty of time. I would expect to see them available at 7/4 with most bookies this time next week

    • Boki

      Last year Aram dropped first so he was winning, no wait it was Sanna she became the fav after, no wait Common Linnets dropped from 3 figures to single after the semi so… no Conchita was it. So it’s actually easy this esc betting, just wait and see who is the last one who drops, that’s the winner 🙂

      • Squall

        Thanks for a voice of reason. With the line movement theory, we already have four winners this year, and no doubt more are still to come. It’s simply impossible to determine WHEN a sharp line moment signals an actual winner. So “as simple as that” it isn’t, by any means.

        Although in the end I guess it’s right, the winner always trades at 1.01 before being announced. The question is whether that helps us at all.

    • Montell

      Line movement before rehearsals is not as important as during rehearsals. In fact line movement on Saturday gives us most information of who’s gonna win. Never bet on short priced favorites weeks before rehearsals. Do it on the grand final day. This is one of my Eurovision gambling rules. So far the lowest odds I took were Sweden at 9. I also took Russia at 35 and Australia at 15. But most of my money is on Sweden.

    • Dash Berlin

      The floor in your theory, you actually even touch on. Last years winner was 50/1 before the semi final – so this years winner, could still be 50/1
      The money came after the semi final, when we’d all seen the performances.

      Does anyone think that the reason Netherlands and Austria price crashed so much last year, is because some people in the know knew how well they did in the semis, or was it because when seen on the big screen it was obvious they were contenders to Sweden?

      • Alan

        A great question Dash. I know that I’m no longer betting on anything other than the “best automatic qualifier market” after Tuesday’s semi final. I would strongly believe that someone has access to the voting numbers. Main reasons for that belief is because the market is so big and moved so far after the semi finals it simply couldn’t be just because they looked so good – only because they both won comfortably

        • Gert

          I agree with Daniel also. Fact is, that within the Eurovision fan community the entries from Austria, and especially Netherlands got a bit overlooked. Whereas the iTunes charts were indeed good indicators that it wasn’t just the visual aspect, but also the quality and “uniqueness” of the songs within the field. I mean, we knew Adele scored a big hit with “Skyfall”, so there’s a market for bombastic Bond-esque ballads. And then there’s this small “repetitive” country song from Netherlands last year.

          What I refuse to believe, is that some people “leaked” the scores to betting/bookmakers, in a similar way to the “Chinese fueled soccer matchfixing scandals” at the bookmakers.

          Austria for me was already the favourite to win. And Netherlands? It was forgotten by the typical Eurovision fans, similar to Denmark 2000.

      • Daniel

        Don’t forget a vital signal that The Netherlands and Austria were the most popular entries in their respective semis was provided by the iTunes Charts around Europe – information freely available to all.

      • It was the latter. You know a winner when you see it.

        • stoney

          Surely the Australian entry will do well in this area?

          • Tim B

            Conversely, something that hinders the automatic qualifiers is that they tend not to have any momentum from the semi-finals. There are clips of those songs played during them, but none of the songs are heard in full. This can significantly hinder their progress on iTunes/ESCTracker, but not always, in the case of Lena for Germany in 2010.

          • stoney

            Ive never paid too much attention to the whole semi final process with eurovision. I do however keep an eye on the odds leading up to the final and that’s the momentum that can hopefully come good for Australia. Who are not too far from over taking italy now. Im already being offered a 30% extra cash out to my original stake from monday of this week.

          • stoney

            Wow just checked and its 45% increase. The plunge is getting faster today

  • Donal Ryan

    Thats a very interesting question Dash and I wondered the same thing last year. For my part Austria were very much in contention after I saw Conchita’s performance in the semi but I never imagined the level of support for The Netherlands.
    What stands out in my mind is that immediately after Molly finished the entire Betfair screen turned pink with the exception of Austria and The Netherlands. I thought ‘f**k me, how is the market so sure all of a sudden’?

    • It’s just one of those inexplicable senses that you can tell, from the flow of the evening, who was the best. That always trumps as much pre-show analysis as anyone else could ever do.

  • Johnny Ludlow

    I agree with Ben. Already after the semi-final Conchita’s win seemed inevitable. It was a jaw dropping moment and you just sensed that it can’t be beat. Luckily it was my biggest winning bet already month before the final last year.

    Markets are crazy this time of year and they do not reflect much at all. A good live performance from Australia (an expected one) and odds get from 18 to 6. Sweden have a great looking show and a bland yet competent song and performer and odds are 2.8. Here’s a newsflash: other good live performances will come and many countries will succeed in creating impressive visual package.

    Now it’s obviously the time to bet on potential. Belgium have been my choice this year when it comes to betting the potential, money have gone in at average odds of 120. Loic Nottet will almost certainly be great live and odds are bound to shorten. It has some similarities with Austria of last year. People seem to watch the music videos quite a bit and in both cases the video is a distraction from the song. I remember last year I first saw the music video and did not get winner vibes. Then I watched the live performance and I was sold. Kind of same thing happened this year with Belgium. Both singers have that certain effortless charisma and they can really sell a song live. I could write pages about why I think Belgium is the only real dark horse this year, but I save you from that. Words are often useless in describing a partly intuitive judgment like this. Also, if you disagree, I probably can’t convince you no matter what I say. And why would I want to convince you in the first place.

    • Gert

      Interesting news here

      “Stage performance Netherlands will be like a videoclip”. In the Dutch newspaper AD Trijntje Oosterhuis commented about her own performance and the close collaboration with stage director Hans Pannecoucke: “I will surrender myself completely to his vision. And his vision is that the cameras need to focus on my strengths. So don’t expect hysteria and a lot of choreography in Vienna. Instead expect a performance with close-ups and dynamic images.”

      This news seems to be in line with last year’s stage performance from The Common Linnets, which also felt like the stage interpretation of the actual official videoclip. But giving the nature of this year’s Dutch entry, also expect slightly more dynamic cinematography.

      There are also some rumours that Netherlands will use augmented reality background projections, to enhance the “videoclip-feel”.

  • Daniel

    Performances from last night’s Moscow Preview Party, including Australia, Azerbaijan and Iceland, can be found on the EscKaz YouTube channel:

  • Just seeing all the “why is Australia plunging” comments above leads me to paste what I put on the Betfair forum:

    It won that little competition they had in Sweden. Only a few of the entries were considered but it got a max of 10 points from each of the 5 jury members giving it 50. Estonia was 2nd with 34.

    With that bit of publicity it reached 7 in Swedish iTunes. No other entrant has dented a foreign chart yet.

    EBU is going through an expansionist phase again. Floating the idea that Canada, China, South Africa, also all associate members, could join ESC in future. They say Australia will be back if they win, obviously a vote motivator. (I think they’ll be back anyway). Obviously for their plans Aus have to do well and this will be reflected in draw and a reminder to juries about the desire to expand for the future finances of the ESC.

    And then of course there’s the coming reminder [the London concert] that actually Aus is a diaspora nation, loads of them in UK and Eire, and that, with sympathetic natives should boost them with 2 x 12 points. Gives them a similar head start as the average Scandi.

    • Boki

      I must correct you on “no other entrant has dented a foreign chart yet”. Both Mans and Il Volo charted in several countries after they were elected.

      • Ah but was it a dent? 🙂

        No country has got anywhere near 7th in a foreign chart has it? And iirc those 2 you mentioned were in expected sympathetic countries.

        • Boki

          Yes it has and yes you can call them sympathetic but those countries were interested in San Remo or MF. Other ones simply didn’t notice the entries so this conversation is actually pointless since Conchita or Linnets last year also didn’t chart anywhere before the semi. But I agree it’s a good sign for Guy. The other thing I wonder is why isn’t he charting at home?

          • sonovox

            Because he hasn’t been a big deal at home for years and years, and because the idea that Australia has loads of Eurovision fans has been massively overplayed. It could pick up during contest week, and maybe in the aftermath, but not before then, I shouldn’t think.

          • Boki you can’t just say “yes it has” without stats. I know that Mans reached 60 in the Finish iTunes.

          • Sonovox it’s interesting that the EBU likes to say that the fans are pushing for entry. Now they’re suggesting that Chinese, Canadian, and South African fans also want to join. In all cases it’s the broadcasters that are providing the push. And the EBU is just the amalgamation of the broadcasters.

            Not that it matters. It would be fun to have a bigger contest. And the Chinese are big gamblers.

          • Boki

            You don’t trust me then Henry ? 🙂
            Mans was 3 in Finland after he won MF.
            Il Volo was 4 in Swiss and 1 in Malta after San Remo.

          • Squall

            Sonovox: possibly “year and year” at the most – Battle Scars sold 9x platinum two years ago, that should count as a big deal. So I agree it’s very strange he’s not charting at home.

        • Tim B

          Mans made it to something like number 20 or 24 on Finnish iTunes last Saturday. Also, Polina made it onto the lower reaches of Swedish iTunes, among other countries. At this early stage, Sweden and Russia have been flip-flopping each other for number 1 on ESCTracker.

    • Gert

      Isn’t there a slight bias in the current betting odds? I mean, the current shortening of Australia’s odds are mostly caused by Eurovision fans, who slightly overemphasize Australia’s chances no?

      I still think Australia will finish TOP 3, but I think at this stage it’s also a bit “too early to call”.

      The betting odds become increasingly believable and realistic during the rehearsals, and the day before a semi final or the grand final. These were the TOP 15 betting odds (Oddschecker) a day before the grand final of 2014:
      01) SWEDEN (final: 3rd)
      02) AUSTRIA (final: 1st)
      03) NETHERLANDS (final: 2nd)
      04) ARMENIA (final: 4th)
      05) UNITED KINGDOM (overreaction UK fans. final: 17th)
      06) HUNGARY (final: 5th)
      07) UKRAINE (final: 6th)
      08) DENMARK (final: 9th)
      09) GREECE (overreaction. final: 20th))
      10) NORWAY (final: 8th)
      11) SPAIN (final: 10th)
      12) AZERBAIJAN (overreaction. final: 22nd)
      13) FINLAND (final: 11th)
      14) SWITZERLAND (final: 13th)
      15) MALTA (overreaction. final: 23rd)
      RUSSIA? Fully underestimated, with the argument that “Europe has become anti-Russia”.

      Interesting to see how increasingly accurate the odds become as a sole factor of prediction.

  • mb79493

    For what it’s worth, I love the UK entry this year, last year I thought the execution was too cold but done well this could be good. My only problems are the guy’s seeming lack of talent, the ‘electro’ parts sound rather dated and the part where he does some bizarre form of beatboxing (I think that’s what he’s aiming for) may not translate well. Also, the performance may require lots of performers to sell it, which they won’t have. It’ll either sink like the Titanic or rise like a phoenix.

    Sweden is a good song, but a reductive Avicii wannabe and comes across as extremely calculated. I would count it out, but it seems to be the default winner.

    I’m not a huge fan so don’t know what to look for (I watch the final every year but that’s it, I’m generally the average UK viewer but I’m trying to get more involved this year), but my favourite acts are Belgium and Norway (it’s not very catchy but musically I find it to be the best, with no competition), with Iceland being pretty nice.

    To make any taste-bias clear, my favourite winners in recent years are Satellite and Only Teardrops, I wasn’t a fan of Euphoria/Fairytale and hated Conchita/whoever the hell won in 2011, but Conchita mainly won because of the bearded lady gimmick and apparently Azerbaijan cheated so that may not just be me.

  • No, there can be only one winner. You can’t every country which odds drop as a winner. The odds drop % is also important. The final line movement will show us the winner so still there’s time. But people who backed Sweden at 13-14 and Australia at 17-18 are in a very good position right now 😀

    Expecting Australia odds to reach below 5 thru Final. People like surprises. Wouldn’t be fun if monsters (Lordi) won? Wouldn’t be fun if bearded lady won? So they voted. Wouldn’t be fun if Australia won? 😀

    • Squall

      So a song that starts out with low odds is mathematically prevented from being a winner, as it can’t drop a lot of %?

      • Chewy Wesker

        I kinda think small drifts in price, don’t matter much. Sweden is holding up well at the top and so too is Italy, Guy Sebastian hasn’t pipped them yet. Austraila is being backed for the simple fact that it’s the first time for them at Eurovision and like Daniel has pointed out austrailans are big punters and have access to betfair which will keep their price short. So with that in mind Sweden is holding up well, I’m sure when we see Mans Zelmerlow’s newly designed stick man we’ll see him shorten to new lows again. I will say this about price moves and crashes, I think that the result last year may well of got leaked, and if one individual knows more than the rest of us, then there’s money to be made (for them) so buyer beware and keep em’ peeled

  • Montell

    Just noticed how badly written is Iceland’s song. The song doesn’t have verses. “One step at a time out of the darkness” is repeated 9 times. This is crazy. I think it will be hard for Iceland this year.

    • Gert

      You did forget all the criticism about the lyrics from “Undo”, last year’s Swedish entry. Did it prevent a TOP 10 score? On the contrary, it won the bronze medal :-). Lyrics are a complete non-issue nowadays.

      • Montell

        Well the only problem with “Undo” for me was that it didn’t have bridge. The problem with “Unbroken” is more serious. It’s 3 minutes of one chorus.

        • Gert

          Have you listened to Azerbaijan 2011 and Ukraine 2013? Those songs are in essence 3 minutes of repetitive chorus as well. Although I do agree that Iceland 2015 is the weakest of the bunch, it is advisable to not take the technical aspects of how the song has been composed as a firm argument for success or no success at all.

          In the end it does have an influence on the outcome off course. But the biggest influence is the final total visual stage package on D-Day. And trust me, between today and next month at least three songs will surprise us, positively and negatively, given the current betting odds.

          • Chris Bellis

            If anything, the words can do harm if they are too comprehensible. I think Russia will suffer from this year’s “peace in our time” song being far too easy to understand.

    • Ben Cook

      The Icelandic entry is the most tedious ESC entry I have heard in a long time. Even more annoying than the Dutch one.

      • Montell

        Yes, I have the exact opinion. Plus I don’t really trust that girl. She looks so inexperienced and unprofessional. She wasn’t known as a singer even Iceland. She is actress or something and she’s too shy. It’s very likely that something is going to be wrong with the performance and people will notice it. I just feel it.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I like the Icelandic song and performer but then I have a soft spot for happy blandness. The song does eventually tend to wear dull but then I found The Common Linnett’s song from last year on the boring side.

          Maria is cute as a button, like a pretty upgrade of Sonia, and with Cheryl Cole eyes. Is crying out to be performed as a duet?

      • Gert

        You know what I find tedious, obnoxious and irritating entries this year?
        –> Finland (gimmicks still need to have a memorable tune)
        –> Portugal (certified non-qualifier)
        –> Serbia (certified non-qualifier)
        –> Hungary (I prefer the Russian peace song)
        –> San Marino (really, Iceland and Netherlands worse??)
        –> Moldova (Justin Bieber died long ago for me)
        –> Armenia (potential non-qualifier)
        –> Belarus (WHEN will this country send quality)
        –> Spain (the most boring BIG 5-country this year?)

        Yes, the Icelandic and Dutch entry aren’t by far “juwels” from an artistical point of view. But one can also overreact. And I think people do. Both Netherlands and Iceland at least have catchy melodies that stick to your head.

        I remember also the criticism about songs like Ukraine 2013 and Netherlands 2014 before the contest: Repetitive entries, no “clear song structures”. If we know one rule by now, then it’s this: The final total stage experience (audio, as well as visual) is what counts.

        The fact that the examples I mentioned above aren’t being discussed at all in here, is perhaps an even more worrysome sign.for them and their potential to do well in the contest. If Netherlands and Iceland are obnoxious, then what are Finland, Portugal, Serbia, Hungary, San Marino, Moldova, Armenia, Belarus and Spain?

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Last year’s Netherlands and Swedish entries bored me; that is, I found the Netherland’s song a yawn and the Swedish song both overblown and underdeveloped.


          Iceland’s tune is wonderfully instant and one of my faves. It’s inanity only kicked in on about the 6th or 7th listen. Plus, the girl vocalist is kinda cute. (Though the package currently feels lite compared to the Disney-esque power of the Russian entry).

          Norway is a grower on me, and I’ve realised that its the unattractiveness of the female singer that was fueling my initial resistance.

          And looks do matter. 2 of my stand-out faves in recent ESCs have been Pastora’s song from 2012 and Molly from last year.

          Imo, both underperformed and, on reflection, I’d say the lack of the f(***) factor limited them.

          • Gert

            Very well, but we also realistically know what kind of songs, stage performances, work well and which not :-).

            UK was IMO greatlu overestimated, mainly by UK Eurovision fans. I think Molly lacked any charisma. Some of my friends called her the “Ice Queen”. In all honesty? I think the UK will do better than Molly last year.

            A question for you though. You were mainly talking about your personal favourites no? But…what about your prediction, which doesn’t necessarliy include your favourites.

  • On the theme of the semi finals and plummeting odds….do we think the bookies have access to the SF votes? I mean, Conchita walked her SF by a wide margin and the Common Linnets also had a surprisingly strong showing in theirs. Within minutes of the SFs finishing, the odds had fallen from 25-1 down to 4-1 or less…are we really saying that secrecy is completely observed and these changes were based purely on subjective judgements of the bookmakers??

  • PurpleKylie

    I know it’s a bit late but I was at Eurovision in Concert last week (right at the front of the stage) and I personally enjoyed Sweden’s performance a lot more than Australia’s. I mean Guy was really good, but me and a friend agreed that Måns was the only act that formed a connection with the crowd, as if he was singing especially for us, and my friend also felt that Guy was a bit arrogant and show-offy. I was previously indifferent to Sweden’s entry but that performance made me into a convert, I mean I’ve thought for ages now that Sweden is the most likely winner but now I struggle to see past them, get ready for Stockholm 2016 folks.

    Ps I also agree with a previous comment that Belgium is a potential dark horse, apparently he’s performing it on The Voice Belgique on 5th May so we could get our first staging hints.

    • Tom Ato

      Sounds like your judgement has been clouded by Man’s handsome good looks. He hides it well but I can spot a weasle when I see one. His blatant “I finance three schools in South Africa and one in Kenya” after the Amsterdam performance was shameless self endorsement. You’ve been decieved by Man’s charm just like many others. During his routine I’m sure he runs from one side of the stage to the other to distribute his strong pheromones, gets the crowd going wild and falling in love.

    • Kyle I’ve seen lots of interviews with these guys and you’ve got it the wrong way around. Guy is modest and self-depreciating and Mans is full of himself but will, as is self evident, probably get away with it.

      Tom’s right, you fancy Mans innit? 😉

    • To the extent anyone’s judgement is “clouded” by charm and good looks (funny how such comments never come up when male commenters like female artists btw), this applies to televoters (and juries, although theoretically somewhat less) as well. Trying to exclude charisma when assessing an entry’s chances would be to purposely leaving out a vital part of the analysis.

      That being said though, it’s a huge difference between working a small live crowd, and working cameras. But I think we all know Måns can do the latter, too.

  • What to expect from next week’s stage in Vienna‬? For instance, for every participating country a unique “sculptured ceiling” of mechanically lifted balls will be created. A bit like Malmö 2013, but then with a lot more of these balls, and they will be seamlessly connected with the actual “eye” of the stage.

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