Eurovision 2015: The Groupgroups

Having previously looked at the girls, the boys, and the girl-boy duos, all that’s left now is for me to take stock of the 6 groups in this year’s contest, all of whom but Armenia are all-male. These entries also haven’t proved memorable to me: as I start this article, I can’t remember how the Danish song goes after one listen (just that it was innocuously pleasant and radio-friendly), nor the numbers from Romania and Austria after two listens each.

Despite liking Armenia’s entry quite a lot and thus listening to it three times in the week or two after its premiere, while I can recall its atmosphere and vocals as well as many elements of the video, I can’t remember any of the tune apart from the ethnic breakdown towards the climax. Similarly, no trace of Italy’s popular song stayed in my head after two listens, and it’s only on account of listening a third time to see what the fuss was about when people continued talking it up as a favourite that I now have a vague idea of the chorus. Rounding off the forgettables is Aina mun pitää: unlike previous Finnish entries with a hard rock sound (Hanna Pakarinen, Teräsbetoni, Lordi), PKN’s fleeting punk ditty offers no tune to remember, just arrhythmic, guttural spoken-word.

So that’s 6 out of 6 songs I couldn’t remember after two listens. What about you?

Your average European isn’t particularly knowledgeable about the Armenian Genocide of 1915, if they’ve even heard of it at all, and this being the case, the context of Face The Shadow absolutely isn’t clear from the cryptic lyrics. What’s more, rather than straightforwardly commemorating the genocide for a general audience, the entry instead is a highly politically charged coded message to two of Armenia’s neighbours (Turkey and Azerbaijan) to stop denying that it happened. In other words, this is by Armenians for Armenians about Armenians, and thus can’t expect much more than a shrug of the shoulders from the rest of the continent, who aren’t the target audience even if they do manage to decipher what the song’s about.

I like Face The Shadow musically, though I’ve seen quite a few fans characterise it as an overwrought screaming match, something I can definitely appreciate given the overlapping and competing vocals and that may be a common reaction on the night. Armenia has a lot of friends and diaspora countries voting in its semifinal, which should see it through if juries reward the strong voices – there’s a lot of talent in this group. But if jury members oblivious to the song’s context understandably overlook it, it could conceivably fail to qualify despite considerable televoting support: in the past couple of years we’ve seen songs as high as 4th, 5th and 6th in the semi televote fail to qualify due to lack of jury enthusiasm. If it makes the final? Going nowhere fast. There just isn’t enough relevance here for viewers and jurors, and no key figure or motif to latch onto, unless you really hate Turkey or fancy Vahe Tilbian. It’s like being asked to take sides in someone else’s family argument, and should have been disallowed, as Georgeia’s entry was in 2009.

I don’t think Finland’s submission is primed for success because while story and sympathy are important, song and performance are still absolutely key. A learning-disabled group whose song and performance were anywhere from pleasantly adequate to genuinely great? I’d suggest backing them all the way to the top. But this? It’s not friendly on the ears, contains no English, is half the length of a standard eurosong, and offers viewers pretty much nothing as a package. As a result, viewers even being aware of the narrative here, let alone investing in it, depends entirely on how their national commentator introduces the entry and how closely viewers happen to be listening at the time. As commentators are all given the same notes, we can assume the group will be introduced as learning-disabled across Europe. But given that light-entertainment event television like Eurovision is very often viewed socially, with people talking to each other in the brief gaps between songs (as well as eating, drinking alcohol, and nipping to the loo or for a smoke), not everyone will pick up on this. As a student I watched Eurovision 2002 with someone who didn’t realise Corinna May was blind, despite the title and lyrics of her English-language song being thematically linked to her disability.

With Conchita and Buranovskiye Babushki, the context was even more self-evident, and the songs and performances were charismatic, incredibly engaging and told their own story – Rise Like A Phoenix and Party For Everybody are medial masterpieces of emotive communication that vibrantly convey a strong personality and set of values in 3 minutes, engendering empathy and respect for the artist and letting viewers connect with them one-to-one. No information on the artist’s “story” is needed other than that contained in the song and performance. I can’t say this of PKN’s entry, which doesn’t convey a narrative to non-Finnish speakers, isn’t entertaining or emotive, and seems to end almost as soon as it’s begun; it’s hard to imagine a less musical song and less visual performance. On merit alone, qualification seems unlikely, and I don’t expect a significant sympathy vote to materialise.

Denmark’s The Way You Are has that One Direction/McFly thing going on and is telegenic, melodic and incredibly easy to consume – it looks great and is the sort of buoyant pop that’s a staple on commercial radio stations from Birmingham to Bucharest. The song feels enjoyably familiar rather than generic or a copy, its repetitiveness is an asset, and Anti Social Media explode the non-threatening boy test: your mum would love you to bring them home for dinner, and so would your dad if he’s Armin Meiwes. What more can I say? There’s not that much to the song, but it slips down like a crème brulee – for me, its sheer upbeat good-naturedness overcomes any concerns it might be too facile, and I see it sailing through and easily bagging a place in the top 10, though I’m not sure it’s strong enough for top 3. Any quibbles aside, this is perfect for Eurovision and shouldn’t be underestimated. And now that I’ve listened to it for only the second time since February, I’ve a feeling that chorus is there in my head for good…

Voltaj’s De la capat is soaring, emotive and atmospherically arranged – there’s true heart here, and if the video backdrop in Vienna is similar to that in the national final, the theme (children) will come through effectively despite the language barrier. Romania has never failed to qualify, and I think that record will be maintained this year. But it doesn’t feel like top 10 material; bottom of the left-hand side of the scoreboard on Saturday would be my best guess. I could level at it the same charge as I did above for Genealogy – this is by Romanians for Romanians about Romanians in Romanian – but its theme is more accessible and better communicated, and the song friendlier. Passes the non-threatening baldy test.

I can take or leave shaggy-haired pop muskehounds The Makemakes and their 3 minutes of blandly heart-on-sleeve jury catnip. But I also think Austria’s entry shouldn’t be underestimated: it looks and sounds appealing and is in a credible, accessible niche of its own, while given the blandness of this year’s field, juries could potentially reward it very strongly indeed, if not quite to the extent they did Italy’s ivory-tinkling underdog in 2011. I like the first minute or so of I Am Yours well enough, but from there it fails to develop or progress, though this is another case where repetitiveness could be an asset. I can see this in the bottom end of the top 10, but it’s one I find hard to assess given how viewer- and jury-friendly it is (and appealingly unique in the field) but how little meat there is to the song.

Is popera in Italian by three non-threatening boys relevant to a European audience in 2015? I don’t think so, because popera in Corsican by a non-threatening boy wasn’t in 2011. I see the fan community’s love of Grande Amore in the same vein as its love of Spanish power ballads and French chansons – it doesn’t translate to televotes on the night. It may seem funny for me to lump Patricia Kaas, Pastora Soler and this in the same basket, but they’re good examples of the countries of old Europe sending songs with an old sound in their own language, to the restrained delight of juries but much less so televoters. Not speaking Italian, like the overwhelming majority of viewers on the night, I don’t know what Il Volo are singing about (other than “love”, which everyone sings about) and can’t latch on to a thematic motif or sing along at home. While there isn’t much emotional affect here, the song is appealingly dynamic and well-constructed – rousing if not touching – offers a lot to juries, and is sure to please plenty despite the language barrier. If I had to guess, I’d say bottom half of the top 10 – I can’t see this in the top 3.

As always, let us know what you think below, as well as continuing to discuss your latest thoughts. Rehearsals begin next Monday.

100 comments to Eurovision 2015: The Groupgroups

  • Ben Cook

    Why do you make such a big thing about being able to remember a song weeks after you listened to it? Viewers only need to remember a song for an hour or two before they vote for it.

    And do songs even need to be so memorable that you can hum them after listening to them once? Maybe sometimes it’s enough just to enjoy it whilst it’s on. Is there not a “I want to listen to that again” factor? It’s not like the songs that do the best are always the ones that whack you round the head with an instantly catchy melody.

    • Hi Ben – I see what you mean and these are good points, but I think some sort of memorability check is important, especially as much of the fan community listens to the songs round and round during NF season, so by March or April, they know them all and have no feel for what’s memorable and what isn’t. That’s what I was aiming to counteract.

      • Chris Bellis

        Unfortunately, I remember them all after two hearings. Most I would rather forget. The one that’s stayed the longest is the Irish one, which nobody seems to mention much. Probably because I have a weakness for country style singers. They could never do well in Eurovision though, could they?

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks for that. I made the mistake of going for opera style songs in the past. When you’ve lost money, it stays in your mind….

  • I stand to be proved wrong, but Denmark is going to struggle to even qualify and am simply staggered that you are talking of Top 10 or, God forbid, Top 3! It’s their worst song in years. I think you underestimate the ESC audience and certainly the discerning juries who will punish this empty piece of vacuous blancmange.

    • Chris Bellis

      I really do know what you mean, and agree about the Denmark entry being vacuous pap. The problem when betting is that most of the others are “vacuous blancmange” too. When did that stop a Eurovision song from doing well? I’ve won money on Denmark in the past and the songs were vacuous without exception.

      • I think tastes do change and we are less into blancmange than before….e.g I am not sure Diggle-OO would win if it were entered in 2015. These things are all relative, but Denmark 2015 really is especially insipid, even by ESC standards. It makes “Rise Like a Phoenix” look like a Shakespeare sonnet!

        • I find Cliche Love Song worse. But I agree that what won as recently as a decade ago (let alone 30 years ago) wouldn’t win today. And Rise Like A Phoenix is masterful. Last year’s top 2 was anything but blancmange, but the top 2 in 2013? How things differ year to year…

  • Montell

    Strongly agree with you about Denmark’s entry. Maybe because I placed a bet on them. but my first impression of their song and performance was very good. I think their qualification odds are value. I see many boxes ticked here. Good draw, non-threatening band, clap along song, good vocals, pop rock genre – one of a kind in the semi. Remember Finland last year. Jury will not hurt Denmark. I expect 5th-8th place in the semi.

  • Alex

    I’d be very suprised if Denmark qualify let alone get top 10 in the Final. Awful song

  • Alpie

    What would your choice be for the Top Nordic Country selection? And reasoning for that?

    • Sweden because, as Sieneke said in a BBC Three interview in 2010, “it’s a simple song that goes not out your head”. More than enough people will be dazzled by the light show.

  • Some thoughts from me on the GroupGroups.

    Finland – I’m actually something of a fan of this one. Yes, it’s a very basic musical arrangement, and I don’t speak a word of Finnish, but I find it very earwormy all the same. To me the basicness of it isn’t a problem, because it fits the genre. From the Sex Pistols to Pussy Riot, punk has an established tradition of valuing the message over technical ability. People seem to either love or hate it, but that’s what punk is supposed to do. As to where it’ll place, I think that’s a big unknown. Could go either way.

    Romania – to me this is the best of the rock acts this year. A poignant, sincere message that will probably resonate with a lot of East Europeans, and the diaspora vote might do well for them. I suspect though, that Eurovicious has them placed about right with lower half of the left-hand table.

    Armenia – “concept better than actual product” springs to mind. I can see what they’re trying to do, but there is an issue with the different vocal styles clashing with each other. (Side note: isn’t it rather depressing that “don’t deny a genocide” is considered a controversial statement in some countries?)

    Italy – a great piece of popera, but Italy does seem to struggle to pick up votes on the night. I thought their entry last year was an absolute belter of a rock anthem, but that simply didn’t translate into points.

    Denmark and Austria – a couple of snoozefests. Outside of Eurovision, rock is what I listen to, and neither of these did anything for me. As a personal opinion, I don’t like non-threatening boys in rock – rock is supposed to be at least a bit threatening. Both are far too forgettable to win.

    • “Italy does seem to struggle to pick up votes on the night”.

      I had to check this, but you are right. In 2013, Marco Mengoni only scraped into the televote Top 10 with L’essenziale, despite a good draw, an ex-Yugo wipeout and supposedly being a really massive star with a zillion YouTube views. Like with Spain, it seems like the language barrier IS a recurring problem for Italy. I can’t see them finishing nine places higher than Mengoni did in the televote in order to win the contest, with the competition in the outright this year being quite strong. Juries will like Grand Amore more than televoters, it seems.

  • Chris Bellis

    You have to get your audience right. The average eurovision televoter (nor jury voter) I would guess, is not a big fan of my favourite band, Rammstein. But if Rammstein came on to the song contest with the right number, they’d get the votes. All about staging and presentation, which is what Sweden does well. Also Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. BTW the 2014 Italian entry has done very well since the contest, but on the night she was nervous and well off-key. A no-no for Eurovision.
    I too like the Romanian entry, but I’m not putting money on it. I just can’t see it going very far.

  • Johnny Ludlow

    I really would not worry about language barrier when it comes to Italy this year. Everybody understands what grande amore means and boys being emotional and all will take care of the rest. The lyrics aren’t exactly vintage stuff so maybe a little shroud of mystery does it good. Italian sounds gorgeous and people can just use their imagimation about the details in the lyrics.

  • Whenever I see people hyping Italy up as “the obvious smash hit and runaway winner” by CERTAIN people in the fandom, I play that “Poor Unfortunate Souls” song from The Little Mermaid in my head, because that’s the reaction I get to their comments. Popera has a baaaad track record in Eurovision and these three dorks don’t offer anything special from previous failed attempts, Loreen offered something specially different from failed dancepop songs that came before (and after) her. I can easily see Italy being 5th in the jury vote then being shockingly low in the televote and finishing 18th overall. I feel like popera songs tend to get overrated in the predictions of fans and press, I was the only naysayer when people were hyping France in 2011 and Malta in Junior ESC 2014 as “runaway winners” and I was proven right when neither of them came close to winning, and the more I think about Italy this year, the more confident I am that third time will be the charm for me. And if Italy DO flop, can everyone FINALLY accept that popera just NEVER works in Eurovision?!?!?!

    Sorry, just had to get that rant out of my system.

    • Rob4

      Italy looking like the obvious 10 ten lay then…

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I notice ‘Grande Amore’ has clocked up 23 million+ views (on one vid alone) and counting on YouTube – which is unprecedented and has to be worth something, right? (Though what proportion of these clicks come from their worldwide Latin base of fandom is another point, I suppose.)

      Still, which was the last non-English language winner of Eurovision (and what year was the last non-English language top 4 placer, come to that? If anyone knows? I remember Rona achieving a remarkable 5th from a horrid draw back in 2012).

      At 20/1+ I may have been interested in a speculative EW punt but as it is I’ll harbour no regrets having swerved a 7/2 winner of a 40 entrant field!

      • Serbia (twice) is the answer to your Qs about non-English success….Molitva, winner in 2007 and Nije Ljubuv Stvar which came third in 2012.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Thanks – I completely forgot about Serbia in both of those years. The English-language bias must be strong in me!

      • Alen

        Youtube views before the contest don’t mean much. Didn’t Igranka have by far the most views pre-contest and it didn’t even qualify? Sure the juries killed it but I’d still take views with caution.

      • Re: 23 million Youtube views in 3 months for Grande Amore, I could point you to plenty of Serbian songs with milions of hits that are completely unknown outside the region and diaspora. Like this one – 5 million hits in less than a month ( Says nothing about how popular or known it is outside its home region and target demographic (it isn’t). Similarly there are doubtless countless recent J-pop and K-pop songs with tens of millions of Youtube views that barely a soul is aware of here.

        • Dash Berlin

          I’m not even aware of J-pop or K-pop 🙂
          I think last years youtube views are a good indication, Austria got barely any pre-event whilst Poland probably had more than the rest of the countries put together

  • Tom Ato

    If Italy flop with this group and song then I will accept that popera will never work in Eurovision. To date this is by far the best act of it’s kind.

    • Depends what you mean by flop. Not win? Out of the top 10?
      I think it will earn a respectable result in between that of L’Essenziale and Madness of Love. Otherwise I agree 100%.

  • Boki

    Rules are there to be broken, that’s the only thing we need to remember. If not by Il Volo then by someone else, never say never.

  • john kef

    Having read all the articles about this year’s Eurovision i came up with the conclusion, that we have 2-3 maybe Top3 songs but no winner…

    There’s still no answer to the question ‘Who can win this contest?’

    I like the articles and your thoughts but someone has to win. It’s ok for someone to say that i don’t like any of the songs this year or that i cannot see a song winning before the rehearsals that play a very big part n the whole thing, but after hearing 40 songs you can’t say at least that this or that song are going for the win.

    My personal opinion is that Sweden, Australia and Russia will fight for the win, giving Sweden a small advantage.

    • Donal Ryan

      I largely agree with your opinion John except I would include Italy along with Sweden, Australia and Russia.
      While I understand the argument against Russia and accept she needs a set of circumstances to go her way I’m truly astonished at the 50/1 on offer at present

      • john kef

        Back in 2011 i was one of the ”France can make it with an opera song” believers. I ‘ve read all the rehearsal reports that were super optimistic about the French win and then during the Final from the very first word that came out of his mouth it was obvious that he was going nowhere. I don’t believe in Italy, one small off key and they are out!

        In my personal opinion they are a faux-contender like UK, Norway and Hungary last year, Norway in 2013, Estonia, Hungary and France in 2011.

        • Donal Ryan

          Maybe its a case of once bitten twice shy?
          I rolled my eyes to heaven back in 2011 on seeing France as a fav, but I had a very different reaction to Italy this year.
          I guess the bottom line is if you don’t get it yourself you shouldn’t back it. Nothing is as sweet as having your personal opinion validated!

          • john kef

            Apart from that i’m an italian language professor and almost every year i enjoy the italian song. In 2011 i had placed a big amount of money backing Italy for a Top10 @4.50 !!! probably one of the bigest value bets ever.

            In 2012 i thought Nina Zilli was going to be Top4 but missed it though i liked the song, In 2013 i was confident that Marco Mengoni would be a dark horse and maybe squeeze in the Top4 and last year i really liked the studio version of the song but the girl couldn’t sing in live.

            The problem is that i liked all of the previous italian entries but this year i don’t and i think that italians are sending a song that they like and they think that because it’s operatic and Italy is famous about its opera, they gonna sell it like it’s ”italian-ethno” song. My personal opinion about Italy is a Top4 at tops.

    • I decided Amaury Vassili wasn’t gonna win when I saw during the Friday and Saturday afternoon rehearsals that they hadn’t done anything about his hair.

  • Am I the only one who just doesn’t rate Australia’s chances? I’ve got nothing against Australia participating. I just don’t think the song is all that good.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s alright, but not really better than alright. It sounds like something Guy Sebastian knocked out on his day off, which is basically what it is. There’s really nothing to make it stand out other than the novelty factor of it being from Australia.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I like it. It’s an infectious, upbeat, funk number. The type of tune that has provided a worldwide smash for different artists recently (tracks such as Get Lucky, Uptown Funk etc).

      A lot of great songs have been dashed off and written down on beermats, etc. Or so the artists like us to believe, anyway…

    • Hi Phil. If I may, I’ll copy and paste my response to pretty much the same thing over on ESCtips, long post ahead:
      I see exactly where you’re coming from when you say it’s very standard.

      That is, partly, exactly why it is very likely to win.

      I will keep bringing this line out a bit like David Cameron’s “there is no money” letter. When Lena won in 2010, I read a comment on ESCtoday, (obviously deleted now because of the Azeri hack, otherwise I’d go and find it,) that read simply “How did that win!? It’s so normal!” and I think this is something that people right across the entire Eurovision community have failed to learn anything from.

      People keep citing Lena as some sort of exception to the rule with this “clumsy charm” bollocks, but my argument is that Lena brought to Oslo a tastefully staged, catchy, familiar, normal radio song along with, yes, a likeable personality. She had no opposition of the type that Sweden, Italy and Russia bring to Australia this year, which is why Azerbaijan was thought to be the winner for a while that year. Let’s also remember what Lena beat into 2nd place. An MTV Europe award winning band, from a country with high televoting power, with a radio-friendly rock song, sung well, distinctively lit, and a memorable stage gimmick. A very powerful combination on paper, and yet Manga were convincingly beaten by “bog standard” Lena.

      Meanwhile, the main favourite, Safura from Azerbaijan’s chances were killed off by opening the final and having a wobbly live vocal, and yet she still managed 5th! (Although we know there’s probably other reasons for that.) I don’t know what it was that made people catch on to the idea of Germany winning in 2010 before rehearsals other than pre-contest chart success I suppose.

      I digress slightly. I think what we need to really come back to here is that first listen mindset. Sweden’s odds went down very very gradually as Gav pointed out in his review, Italy’s went down over the span of 2-3 days by my memory, while San Remo was going on, and there was hype over the boys. With Australia, we were to expect an unreleased ballad to show off Guy’s voice, which is what he himself said in his press conference, then Tonight Again comes out and bang! Straight down from 40s to the mid-teens almost immediately. I honestly wish I’d got on earlier if I had the cash. As Eurovicious said in the Sofabet comments on his latest piece today, fans listen to all the songs too many times and know them all too well, and quickly lose a sense of what’s good and what’s not.

      I wasn’t sure myself when I first heard the Australian entry, but I did get an immediate sense that it was fresh, instant, very commercial-Bruno Mars ish, but it lacked that sort of trite Motown Disco theme that plagued Basim last year. It was more plain, more modern, more credible and with much more genuine musicianship on display. I might even liken Guy Sebastian’s effort to Jamiroquai. I know the Australian song doesn’t scream winner in a traditional Eurovision sense, because Eurovision winners are usually more powerful in a cheesy, (which is not always bad,) emotional sort of way. But given the choice, as the public most certainly are this year, what do you think they would really rather go for? Something they perceive to be high quality, cool, and fun to sing and dance to? Or something that instead soars on this emotional crescendo (and this applies to Sweden and Russia, not just Italy,) and fits better into the Eurovision mould? It’s a rhetorical question really, and you’ve got to also keep in mind that tonnes of people think Eurovision is terrible because of all the cheesy songs, but people also love it for that same reason. The Australian entry is very normal in a relative sea of cheese, and to use my mother’s words when I showed her the contenders, Tonight Again, is “something different, a breath of fresh air.”

      It’s not different to us, because we regard it as something so average and every day and not special. Special, to us, are these genre-themed packages and gimmicks and soaring emotional songs. But in my opinion, the correct way to assess the contest is the exact, polar opposite of that.

      If Australia wasn’t entering this year, it would be a straight fight between Sweden, Italy and Russia, with Sweden a deserving favourite as the most commercial and most visually impressive. A lot of (not all) recent winners have quite simply been the best possible alternatives to what Europe really wants, but nobody is giving them. With regards to 2014, the soaring emotional song beat the most commercial, high quality offering last year because Conchita’s appearance and narrative was more compelling – and because Rise Like a Phoenix was clearly more aurally powerful. You still do need that strength to a winning song, but power and quality have to combine. If you’ve got one without the other, then you have to compare the surrounding elements like staging and gimmicks to see which is likely to give a song the edge.

      Australia have both a narrative (they can’t come back unless they win) and, many agree, the most commercial offering, (could be heard the world over, unlike the more domestic, slightly sterile sound of Heroes)… AND Guy is a superb vocalist. So to re-iterate my closing point, this year will tell us, perhaps once and for all, which comes first in the pecking order. Great songs (by mainstream standards!) or powerful kitsch and gimmicks.

      • At the same time, entries that are too similar to current chart music without being standout often don’t do that well in Eurovision. Australia is credible, catchy etc, but there’s no emotional component in it for me.

        And can someone of Asiatic appearance representing a country on the other side of the planet win Eurovision?

        • Dash Berlin

          I keep seeing comparisons to “Uptown Funk” – a song by Bruno Mars, one of the most popular pop male acts in the world, produced by a person a lot of people think is one of the best pop producers in the world.
          Wait, Uptown Funk managed to be a hit? What a complete shocker

          Completely with EV here, just because the song is a similar genre to a song that did well in the charts, means absolutely F A in the contest (see Austria last year/Bruno Mars)

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            I made a comparison above to Uptown Funk and when I did so, I suppose I was implying that I find Guy’s number to be not that far off being in the same class. (Though obviously I’m not suggesting it should be mentioned in the same breath as…)

            Sure, Uptown Funk had the cream of talent behind it, but then a lot of tunes do, and not all tunes with A-list talent behind them spend 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard singles chart, 7 weeks as the UK No.1 single and top the charts everywhere from Croatia to Lebanon to Belgium and so on. There’s hit records and then there’s hit records.

            You can still state with confidence nowadays that for instance that the Northern Soul genre isn’t a genre that can produce a worldwide chart smash. You can’t say the same about a Funk single, though.

            If I got one thing right last year (and possibly nothing else pre last year’s ESC) it was immediately recognising that Cliché Love Song was a derivative Bruno Mars copy and that (despite all of its big advantages) it was going to struggle. I hated everything about it from the get-go and ripped it.

            I’ve felt completely different about Guy’s song (and vibe) this year, and upon hearing it had my first and only ESC bet (so far) on it EW at 8s.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Edit: actually, in addition to Oz I’ve also (last night) backed Latvia in a couple of markets.

        • Hi EV, in response to you:
          Valid point on entries emulating chart music without being standout. I think this really applies more to Sweden than Australia. I’m not the only person that got the sense that Tonight Again felt both instant and fresh. This is where we basically have to decide what’s a boring copy and what’s good enough to stand on its own two feet. I’m not sure I can refer to any examples within Eurovision that can help us out there.

          All I can suggest you do is to stream or listen to iTunes store previews of this year’s karaoke album, where I feel the melody and production quality of the Australian composition is revealed, compared to Heroes slightly twee, sterile feel – and how incredibly amateurish Slovenia’s Here For You sounds, (almost as bad as San Marino!)

          Emotional component, well yes you’ve got a point there, but wouldn’t this come under my description of emotional kitsch when pit against a high quality mainstream alternative? I suppose my best argument is, if it’s not in the Australian song, where is it? Cyprus? They’re not going to win. Russia? Can they overcome their reputation? Estonia? Too dour to win but should be top 10.

          And finally, race. Well… Hungary last year exceeded expectations to a degree, and Loreen won by a landslide, and then you had Dave Benton from Estonia. Being from Australia? I think most of us agree this is a boost to their vote rather than a hindrance.

          To be quite honest I didn’t even notice Guy was half-Sri Lankan when I first saw him, he looked like a white bloke with a good tan to me. He also doesn’t have the dress sense of the stereotypical Indian subcontinental man. The ripped jeans and urban headwear make him attractive and relatable I think.

          • Ron

            My perception is that the UK and Ireland have strong cultural ties with Australia (Neighbours, Kylie, migration both ways, etc), and there are certain European countries with strong migration ties to Australia. But how is Australia considered by the rest of Europe?

          • Not sure. But I did find this video both entertaining and informative, (it is based on proper research and consultation too.) The “Friendzone” part might go some way to answering your question.


            Also check out his videos about Armenia and Azerbaijan, really makes sense of all the fighting we have to put up with. He’s working his way through every country alphabetically.

        • Further thought that has come to mind:

          Have people simply misled themselves by primarily comparing the live performance of Heroes and the studio version of Tonight Again?

          It was after all, the first live performance of Tonight Again in Amsterdam that caused Australia’s odds to go into single figures. I wonder what Sweden’s odds would be if the lyric video as shown as was instead revealed as an internal Swedish selection, and the Australian selection the same “in studio” video we already have? Or put more simply, what would Sweden’s odds be right now if we never saw it in Melodifestivalen and only had the lyric video to go on?

          I reckon Italy would still be leading the market.

  • Tom Ato

    The odds movements suggest that the Australian entry does possess the ‘initial impact quality’ which is key to getting votes on the night. As Ben Gray stated upon release of Tonight Again the odds went from 40’s to mid-teens. After the live Amsterdam performance the odds began shortening into single figures.

    I think Grande Amore also possesses the initial impact quality. Whereas the Sweden song not so much, it relies on the overall visual package.

    • I agree, Grande Amore does, and has made an impact. The first time I saw Heroes was also the first time I heard it, and I was with another Sofabet contributor at the time. I honestly thought nothing of it. I just figured it was Melodifestivalen doing what it always does. With regards to Grande Amore, I could tell immediately that it was powerful, but I was not affected by any sense of excitement for it.

      I believe the most succinct thing I can say about Grande Amore which would be difficult to deny, is that it is very stereotypical of both the popera genre and of Italy. It’s a trite kind of popera, rather than a sophisticated, modern pop power ballad sung with operatic voices which would get a great deal more respect from me with regards to its chances. Some people describe Grande Amore as a masterclass, I say it’s Popera 101, and it’s cheesier predecessors? Let’s call them Popera Kindergarten.

      • I agree with this and the long post. On first seeing Sweden I was jarred by the unoriginality of the chorus. It later grew on me but I think – just a safe solid good result, like Sana.

        Australia however…very modern, will be a chart hit after 23 May, but additionally it’s Australia! – Europe will never neglect its child’s first day at school.

        • I’m showing my out-of-touchness here but I only just heard Avicii’s “The Nights” from January – Heroes is so similar to it. The Avicii song is much better. I’m surprised there haven’t been plagiarism comments, the whole chord progression sounds lifted (a la Born This Way/Express Yourself).

          • Tom Ato

            I’ve noticed there are a lot of youtube comments regarding this and upside down thumbs.

          • Donal Ryan

            EV, there is also a similarity to ‘Lovers on The Sun’ by David Guetta and probably many others. The point is ‘Heroes’ isn’t really an original song, it’s USP is the image mapping which has also already been done. While many here predict Mans will win I think few want him to.

          • Thanks for this Donal. I totally agree, Heroes really is a Wiener Melange of the two, with plagiarised visuals. I can totally see why it won in Sweden given how popular Avicii is there, plus Mans being a well-liked MF regular who’d never won (like Sanna). The question for me, given that Lovers On The Sun and The Nights were big recent hits very similar to Heroes but superior, is whether Europe will take to an entry that’s chasing trends rather than doing its own thing?

          • Rob4

            Aviici’s lawyers should be chasing it down right now. however, i doubt many voters on the night will have even heard of Aviici much less recognise the connectionn

          • ….You doubt many voters will have even heard of Avicii?

            Have you been living in a cave?

    • Dash Berlin

      So, because of the odds movement, coming down – this means it has ‘initial impact quality’?

      The market movement means very little until we start seeing rehearsals. I’m actually bored of stating this, so I won’t mention it again

      • Tom Ato

        I said that odds movement ‘suggest’ that Tonight Again had an impact when it was first released and when it was performed live for the first time. When the timing of the odds movement coincide with these events what else do you think it is? People don’t start putting money on something for no reason. Obviously rehearsals will reveal a hell of a lot more, but they are not here yet so we can only try and assess what has happened so far, even if it means very little.

  • Alen

    video of Belgium last night, I think that looks fantastic!

    he has already confirmed though that he won’t have the dancers in Vienna but it will be similiar in style, guess the backing singers will help a bit with the dancing.

    • Well done Belgium.

      Based on this live-performance, Loic and his team have prepared very very well for Vienna and managed to give a trendy, unique, slightly alternative vibe to this performance:
      –> Choreography/Dancing is very interesting and in a way slightly alternative and unique.
      –> Loic is very talented, as he sings and dances with considerable ease.
      –> The black-white colors come back in the clothes, the make-up, the LED-visuals.
      –> And there are already some interesting camera-shots to be found, that could make its way to the Vienna stage.

      It already feels -and this should worry Netherlands slightly- like a videoclip…like the stage-interpretation of the official videoclip.

  • Donald

    Hi everyone, hope you all well. Playing catch up,trying to get my head around these songs., not to mind remembering them, on initial serious catch up , ballad ballad ballad, comes to mind, where is the fun… Few well performed songs on initial listens. Is there value outside the top three in PP betting? MUST BE!

  • Donald

    First Eurovision bet 2015 placed CYPRUS, just had to be done. 🙂 Downhill from there! Top three have to be taken on. Estonia an obvious one to have a go with, Russia stood out to me and Iceland will have all the “Swifties”, the rest is much of a muchness really.

    Remember last year Poland would have won except for juries !

  • Ron

    What do we think about the OGAE poll results that are coming through? I’m less interested in the battle between Sweden and Italy for first place (boring). But what does interest me is that about half the votes have been announced but 17 countries haven’t received any points yet. In previous years the votes have been much more scattered.

    Some of them are pretty predictable (like Finland), but a lot of the rest seem to be the quieter, more ballady entries. These are the unloved ones:

    Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Switzerland.

    • Alen

      To me that’s saying that ESC is becoming too safe and songs too similiar. Many of them are chasing the jury vote but forget the public and the fans.

      • That’s absolutely what’s happening.

        • Aaah well, I cal such comments part of the “conjuctural flows in Eurovision”. I remember very well how “we” fans from the “Old West” reacted 10 years ago, when Eurovision was solely about pleasing large audiences and not about real good, quality songs (as you put it….’safe’ songs). The days of….100% televoting so to say.

          I’d also like to say that there’s a difference between watching Eurovision at home or witnessing it ‘live’ in the hall. Netherlands 2014 might have been a bit boring in the hall, but from where I was seated last year it looked and sounded marvellous.

          By the way, take the OGAE-results with a grain of salt ;-).

          • Alen

            Yeah usually one of the Top3 in Ogae flops and I predict it will be Italy this year 😉

            Anyway, I don’t think a televoting only result would be better as it indeed did lead to more crowd pleasers than “quality” music.

            A middle ground has to be found but I just think that especially this year too many countries are playing it too “safe”. Maybe it’s more of a “we want to be in the final but not win by any means” type of situation as hosting ESC is expensive.

            The irony of this is that I think that countries like Israel could really stand out therefore.

          • Ande

            Do we have any indication suggesting Italy will improve on their Sanremo staging!?

  • Peter

    Still think the best tow pop songs we have this year are slovenia and estonia. do people already write them off because of their rather lukewarm live performances so far? both sweden and australia seem too generic to me to win. while i find the italian song a bit messy, i still thing its the strongest live package at this point

    • I think it has nothing to do with writing off Slovenia and Estonia? In fact, I think what I saw from their live performances so far really made me excited. It’s TOP 10 material.

      Thing is, I think there are a few (3) countries who simply do it better, albeit slightly. Especially Sweden, which perhaps hasn’t got a song that Estonia and Slovenia has, but which completely top’s its stage concept from these two countries. The total package is better.

  • Donald

    Estonia and Slovenia are good songs for sure. Will a duet win? that is first question, then which is best duet?

    I think Sweden is weak and overrated in the context of the competition this year which is overall strong. Allot will depend on what route juries take but there are some well decent songs and artists.

    I know Russia comes with political baggage but if they get staging right that has the potential to fly on ITunes after first semi. It ticks allot of boxes as a song with potential. It is a lively ballad and has a decent enough draw to do that. At current price worth an interest.

    There are others also, on early listen to me, few early stand outs are Estonia, Norway (Norway is exquisitely written and composed) and if the juries go for Slovenia well wrap it up now.

    That some early thoughts from me.

  • Montell

    Daniel, what is your Top 10 at this moment? Share your guess, will you?

    • Daniel

      Hi Montell, I think the following five near the head of the betting – Sweden, Italy, Australia, Estonia and Russia – are solid top ten candidates. But after that I think it’s rather open and rehearsals will tell us more: I have been laying a few entries at 2.x (eg Belarus) whilst backing some longer shots at around 6.x (eg Lithuania).

      • Alan

        I wondered who was laying Belarus top 10 in size to me. Same thing last year when I mysteriously could get on specific countries for more than any others. Last year I specifically recall Lithuania to qualify. Think I’ll cool it on Belarus now then…

  • chewy wesker

    Anyone know why there was a fall in Armenia’s odds earlier?

    • Boki

      I used to joke like “someone’s bot went crazy”, but why any sane person would match Armenia @12 when available at so much higher prices. Similar thing happen to Finland’s Q odds a day ago or so, was matched @1.2. Btw I also noticed that bots exist this year on Q market so there is a possibility that it really went wrong, otherwise I have no rational explanation.

      • chewy wesker

        Yeah I seen some funny drops this year, it’s worth putting up some short prices maybe on the UK. Just In case someone goes crazy……………..(But who on earth would be that mad?)

    • Boki

      Btw I was referring to the outright market, now I see that Q odds also crashed a bit, so it seems someone strongly believes they are overpriced. Still don’t get the extent of the movement.

    • Hmm, but the price went back up again very quickly, too. How did that happen?

  • Seductive Barry

    Someone probably got their odds and stake mixed up. Maybe they wanted £10 at 300 and mistakenly asked for £300 at 10.

  • Electro Velvet are performing on The Graham Norton Show tonight, in case anyone didn’t know.

    • Chris Bellis

      Yes I saw them. The staging was poor. The dancing was poor. The singing was average. The song needs fizz, and although the singers were competent, for me, it didn’t work. Just saying…I know people here love it. I really can’t see it doing anything.

  • Peter

    Ron, I had the same question about the ogae voting this year, almost the same 10-15 countries receiving points each time, so many unloved without any points at all. Subjectively, it reflects my own feelings this year, many non-memorable songs. But is that all there is to it, or should we say websites and polls already work as filters that reinforce whats enjoyable and whats not and the focus on only 10 songs or so has very little to do with their actual performance in Vienna?

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