Eurovision In Concert 2016

Twenty-six of this year’s Eurovision acts performed at last night’s preview concert in Amsterdam. It’s always a highly enjoyable event, though performing in a small venue to a group of fans is always a very different experience to the arena setting of the big event.

It’s therefore best to be cautious about extrapolating impressions from the gig and applying them beyond last night’s fun. For videos of all the performances, you can see for yourself on the esckaz YouTube channel. Rather than go through all 26 here, I’ll just give my most significant thoughts in the circumstances. Feel free to ask in the comments section about any others.

During the lull between selection season and rehearsals, those bound up in the event like myself can be guilty of confirmation bias, reinforcing existing thoughts about the acts. The most positive surprise for me last night was Estonia’s Juri Pootsmann. I’ve previously been neutral about ‘Play’, quite liking the song without getting involved on it either way. Last night he exuded charisma in front of the small audience, and the package has a gravitas that juries should appreciate.

Interestingly, as in the first semi-final, his performance came straight after Austria’s Zoe. I’m not such a fan of ‘Loin D’Ici’, finding it twee, repetitive and dated. But I have to admit that she got the biggest round of applause after her performance last night. However, I do think certain songs that are “pleasant” and in French trigger a form of nostalgia in long-term fans, harking back to entries like Monaco 1977.

I wonder how much the French language has helped Amir’s concerted surge to second in the outright market with ‘J’ai Cherche’. The French entry has always been “nice” rather than strong to my ears. But there’s no doubting his commitment to performing it, as seen last night, and the response it’s elicited. Nonetheless, I haven’t seen him hit the high note towards the end of the song in any live performance, and he pulled out of it again last night (2:44 in the esckaz video clip). The last ten seconds were vocally all over the place.

I have been more positive about the chances of Latvia’s ‘Heartbeat’, though keen to see if the staging in Stockholm will offer us something more interesting than the national final. Last night, I was encouraged by Justs’ use of the stage, which seemed a concerted change of tack from the static nature of his Supernova performance. He walked from the back to the front during the opening, and was keen to work both left and right like he’d been given a tutorial by last year’s winner Mans Zelmerlow.

His vocals were strong as usual, though that goes for lots of last night’s performers. Serbia’s Sanja is a case in point, and she was a standout. I just wish that she’d come across as even slightly vulnerable, which would be more appropriate for ‘Shelter’. Israel’s Hovi Star lifts ‘Made of Stars’, as does Poland’s Michael Szpak with ‘Color of Your Life’. Alongside singing ability, The Netherlands’ Douwe Bob has charisma and confidence by the bucket-load.

‘Moment of Silence’ is definitely not to everyone’s taste. But Ovidiu not only has a great set of pipes, he understands what to do with the number, which is camp it up. I think over-the-top staging would help it in Stockholm, and the Romanians have form here.

Those that need to work on their vocals include the UK’s Joe and Jake, who had a shaky start to ‘You’re Not Alone’. At least they are interacting well with each other, and providing plenty of movement. Switzerland’s Rykka remains very pitchy. Another act vocally off last night were the Montenegrin boys, though I hadn’t realised quite how strikingly good looking they are, like a Balkan One Direction.

Talking of the Balkans, the Bosnian presentation felt a little too much like a diva battle, as if we were watching a Lip-Sync For Your Life segment on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’. The bigger stage in Stockholm will conceivably help lessen this impression. It’ll have to if they want to advance to the final. Croatia’s Nina delivered a vocally perfect rendition of ‘Lighthouse’ even if the song feels a little too much like a 90s Eurovision throwback. Kaliopi threw herself into it as she always does, and even managed to get a ‘Crno I Belo’ scream in.

Two acts that received criticism for previous concert performances were Cyprus and Bulgaria. I thought both did a good job here. Minus One gave a strong performance opening the show. Their lead singer doesn’t have great depth to his voice, but hits the right notes and strikes the appropriate rock poses. There will be an extra backing singer in Stockholm. It was almost as if Poli Genova had read the online negativity about her Riga performance, because she was keen to initially stand still and show she could deliver the vocals. Her 2011 performance showed she shouldn’t have any worries in this department.

There were plenty of other big names last night, though they largely delivered what I expected. I can put Spain, Italy and Ukraine in this category. I do wish Barei would ditch the foot shuffle which cheapens ‘Say Yay!’ for me. Italy’s Francesca is relying on the juries’ traditional love of Italian ballads. Meanwhile, Jamala remains as Marmite as ever, though knowing the context, I’m always moved by her performance.

Malta and Iceland are not really to my taste. Whilst last night didn’t change that, they will both rely on staging concepts in Stockholm. Perhaps I should be more forgiving in that context.

Do continue to let us know your thoughts below, and feel free to ask about any other impressions of last night.

154 comments to Eurovision In Concert 2016

  • Ron H.

    Thanks for your comments Daniel. I also joined EIC yesterday and was curious beforehand to see what reception Austria would get, as the song is high on my list from the beginning and I find it highly underestimated thus far. I’m not sure eastern Europeans will go for it, but after the explosion of applause I do believe at the moment this song gives great value for a top 10 ranking.

    • Chris Bellis

      As I’ve said here before, I’ve learned to my cost that my own liking for this type of French pop music is not shared by either the juries or the mass of Eurovision televoters. I like the song a lot, but I would never back it. If Eurovision included more francophone countries it would do better. I can sum it up like this: big stars in France, like Mylene Farmer, are virtually unknown outside the French speaking world, despite having sold many millions of records.

      • Ben Cook

        I don’t know if that’s true. I often see French songs making the Italian or Russian charts for instance. And the sort of retro mixed with contemporary sound of the Austrian entry is vaguely reminiscent to me of Indila’s “Dernière danse” which was a big Euro hit a couple years ago.

        • Ron H

          I don’ find Loin D’Ici just as good as Dernière danse. But Douwe Bob for example is rated 4,3 at Betfair for top ten and Zoe 13. I find Zoe underrated and worth the risk. Zoe was the clear favorite in Douwe Bobs home town.

          • Henry VIII

            Zoe would have a great chance….in 1956…. much though I personally like it. It’s hopeless.

        • Chris Bellis

          I know what you mean. Russians and Italians like that sound. But Italy and Russia are but two countries to add to France and Belgium. The girl performing this song went to the French college in Vienna, so she will automatically get the French vote, all of the Francophile Russian vote, some of the Polish vote, some of the Italian vote, a quarter of the Swiss vote and about half of the Belgian vote. That’s if it qualifies, which I think it will do. Not enough imho. She won’t get my vote even though it’s the song I like the best in the whole contest. This is because I have bet on Kate Ryan/Mylene Farmer/ Isabelle Boulay etc style songs before on Eurovision and have been burnt every time. A parallel example would be any turbo folk entry – they always do badly, yet that’s what is most popular in all the Balkan countries and many Slavic countries – substantially more support as a proportion of total audience than whimsical French chansons. If I’m wrong I’ll be pleased to see a return to a style I am fond of, but somehow I can’t see it. PS Patricia Kaas in 2009 finished 8th, with a famous name and arguably better song, thanks to 10 points from Russia (the only top three vote).

  • Henry VIII

    Justs really selling Heartbeat. He came across too anemic before imo but they’re obviously working on it and will likely produce some decent staging too.

    • Ron H

      Just would have a great chance, in 2056 LOL. It is too inaccessible for a TV-family show. Never spent a dime on Aminata for the same reason. Justs song is less noticable. Staging won’t change that.

  • PurpleKylie

    I was there last night! Really good, no bad performance, was a lot of fun! It’s just getting me more excited to see the stagings in Stockholm.

    Also nice to bump into you again Daniel! 🙂

  • I personally think vocals are very important for the overall effectiveness of the total stage package.

    Still, it always has to be judged with all other elements from that total package. For a more dated 1990’s ballad vocals eventually could prove pivotal. With other entries, like Germany 2010 and Azerbaijan 2011 it’s not necessary to have another Rona Nishliu.

    I think the same applies to France. Yes, I do agree the song is difficult to sing. And the high notes from the last 30 sec’s are a real ‘tour-de-force’ for Amir. But as long as Amir sings a few notes lower, or tries to rehearse these high notes a bit more, I think it’s way way too soon to completely lay France.

    What works in France’s favor is Amir. I already heard comments about Frans from Sweden that he’s the next ‘Lena Meyer-Landrut’. But similar comments about charisma on stage could be said of Amir. I think he owned that Amsterdam stage completely. And he gave me the best ‘feelgood’ feeling of the evening, together with Zoë from Austria.

    Amir is a charismatic stage performer, who interacts perfectly with the public. Similar to Mans Zelmerlöw last year at the Eurovision in Concert. And that could translate to connecting well with the camera’s in Stockholm. The song is difficult to sing. But apart from some slight vocal problems near the end, I think he still is a very good singer.

    And one last thing, let’s not forget the current anti-European sentiment. With the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris fresh in our minds, the dispirited news segments about the immigrant crisis and a possible #Brexit, I think Amir brings the perfect story to Eurovision that counteracts that negativity.

    France is rightfully a bookies favourite at the moment. And until the rehearsals I’m not going to panick about yesterday’s performance by Amir.

    • Mr Wolf

      I have really started to see a winner in France.
      Luckily got heavily loaded around 13 before the price movement.
      My first impression was that it may probably win the jury vote, but falls short in televoting, but as far as i have spoke with regural people..everybody loves it + huge success in polls.
      I think it’s really trendy considering what people expect from Eurovision this year.
      I was thinking today that what if Margaret would have qualified..I mean, the staging and performance was a bit rough..but otherwise it was really decent and contemporary pop song with a good potential, what would have probably got considerable buzz.
      But besides her, there aren’t many “trendy” acts this year (like Sweden, Belgium and Latvia last year)..we have France, Sweden…Bulgaria? Well okay, there are Latvia, Australia etc, but they face other flaws from the memorability and cathyness/emotional grip point of view.
      Russia’s impression is that it’s professional, powerful and strong, but as far as I have spoke about Russia with regular people, there haven’t been that much positive reaction.
      It’s dated and emotional impression isn’t what we have usually seen in winning songs. Sergey isn’t that charming as Amir as well and doesn’t have anything special besides strong and professional performance and probable stage gimmick.
      Russia may be one of the main contenders for the win in a weak year (because the lack of strong opponents), but lets face it, “You Are The Only One” hasn’t very strong emotional appeal for average Saturday night televiewer.
      Frans has entered to main Estonian radio stations charts, but I find his chances in May rather dull.
      It has strong potential in televoting and juries both, but I would rather see common sense incline to Amir’s side (this year’s alpha act with universal appeal).
      Frans has a cute song and outlook, but people rather wouldn’t find his whole act very impressive in context and the 9th slot does some damage as well in his case.
      I would rather see France vs Russia competing for a win.
      Maybe one surprise country as well..

      Terror attacks are helping to give sentiment for Amir as well.
      Vocals and staging are a bit worrying aspects tho.

      • PurpleKylie

        The “sympathy vote” theory is a total myth, by your logic France should’ve won last year and Ukraine the year before, not to mention Bosnia in the 90s…

        Anyway, you complain about Iceland being a fanwank and yet you gush about France’s chances?

        • Mr Wolf

          The “sympothy vote” is a myth usually, I agree, but I just think it may help a bit for the sentiment. The France situation is imo completely different from the Ukraine or Bosnia situation. The psychology of the sentiment around terror attacks is completely different than the sentiment around war agression. Symphoty vote can only work with the right ground and conditions. It can’t work from compassion towards the country, compassion isn’t the right trigger. France on the other side evokes “European patriotism” and hold together/brotherhood attitude + it’s such a loveable country (+ if there’s a buzz that France is one of the favourites, it encourages people to vote for them (oh, lets vote for France this year), it’s the kind of act which evokes much symphaty because of the act itself as well, it has positive attitude and energy. Most of it may work in subconscious level.
          Like Italy may have had a little help in 2011 since it had been away from the contest long time and is such a “loveable” country. I’m not sure how much that was the case in reality tho.
          I have received very positive reaction to France from music indrusty and as well from rather lower middle class “avarage” people.
          So, I’m really starting to feel universal appeal for the song.
          It’s definately not a fanwank.
          I considered it to be a favourite to win the jury vote (although the live performances we have seen now haven’t been so convincing for the jury side) already in the beginning of March, because the quality of the song, but the highly positive reaction from public promises very strong televoting result as well.
          I think it will receive kind of similar reaction as Belgium did last year, but rather stronger.
          Imo it’s as trendy as was Belgium, but a lot more catchier and more television friendly and charming.

  • I definitely agree that Jamala is a bit of a marmite act (though personally I come down on the side of loving it) and that seemed to be reflected in the crowd reactions.

    One possible reason why Zoe got such a huge reaction – there did seem to be rather a lot of French people present that night. Not that I’m suggesting that’s the only reason.

    One thing that did suprise me slightly was the huge crowd reaction to Iceland. If one were to believe the social media debates she’d also be a marmite act, but instead she got one of the biggest cheers of the night.

  • Chris Bellis

    Nice to read all these comments. To sum up, read Daniel’s warnings in the article above before you bet the farm on any of this. Small venue, francophile audience etc.

  • Ron H

    I agree to your reasoning Songfestivalwerk, Amir has the charm and charisma and France at this moment in history might get more sympathy votes than Russia.
    I am also concerned about Amirs high notes though. Few minutes ago he performed his song live on Dutch national TV and also in this studio-setting he wasn’t flawless. To my opinion he better drops some of the vocal acrobatics. The catchy chorus combined with his charisma might be sufficient. Off key singing is not appreciated by juries.

  • Dicksbits

    I think Italy’s theme will appeal to the juries: “the song is inspired by the six degrees of separation theory and contains the message that, “despite all of the cultural differences, there shouldn’t be distances between people”. (source: wiki). Especially in the current climate in Europe.

  • Who’s going to the London party? I’m trying to get press accreditation for my breakfast show (MKFM Mon-Fri 6-10am). Be good to meet up with people. Dan, you’re welcome to be a guest and provide my listeners with an insight! 😉

  • peterrehberg

    After having watched the clips, I still feel this is the year in which we could have a surprise winner, even more so than in 2014 with Conchita who wasn’t on anybody’s radar really before the week of the rehearsals. Poland and Estonia are surprisingly strong. Austria is a natural fan favorite and also in my Top 3 but that Eurovision camp nostalgia isn’t for everybody, I fear. Douwe Bob is strong too, if the song wasn’t so lame this could be another Top 5 for the Netherlands. I believe the Sing-a-Long-quality shouldn’t be underestimated. Also, Italy shouldn’t be written off yet.

    • Chris Bellis

      I hope you’re right about Poland, as I had a small early bet when I thought they would choose Margaret. I agree it’s surprisingly good. Agree also that it’s a more open contest than the betting figures would indicate, so there must be some value in there somewhere.

    • I’m still not ruling out a surprise win by Iceland. One thing I took from EIC was that the stage show we saw at Songvakeppnin seems to have been a work in progress rather than a finished product. And even back then people were calling it a masterpiece (yes, I know not everyone here will agree with that assessment, but the fact remains people were saying it.) It feels like something is building from Iceland.

      • I think you always have to look at the coherency of the total package. Yes, the Icelandic entry is perfectly staged. Visually it’s stunning. But the song itself for me is the real problem. Whereas Mans and Loreen had instant songs, the Greta Salome composed entry is simply too ‘difficult’ on first listen.

        Staging needs to enhance a good song…not enhance a difficult/slightly mediocre song. Then people don’t ‘understand’ all that visual fuzz, and might even get confused.

        • PurpleKylie

          It is coherent, the visuals are telling the story of the lyrics, is that so hard to get?

          • Ande

            I believe Iceland has a shot, even though it’s not as instant as ‘Heroes’ or ‘Euphoria’ I think the song is accessible enough.

        • Dicksbits

          I think there’s every chance the Icelandic entry won’t even make the final.

          • PurpleKylie

            How is that even possible? It’s got a great draw (remember, 4 from the last 6) and it’ll be easily remembered. Unlike a certain other entry in that semi it’s not some pink fluffy French Princess Peach fanwank.

          • I’d say Iceland’s chances of not reaching the final are slim to none. Not only does it have a good draw (as Kylie says) but it also has lots of musical and emotional hooks, plus a impressive stage show, plus Iceland’s strong history of qualifying (last year notwithstanding).

            Regarding the coherency and accessibility of the package, I think it does a good job of both. Unlike with Mans last year, there’s a clear link between the lyrics and the staging. “See the shadows dancing, Oh, they dance for us tonight, And as I’m tossing and I’m turning, Oh, they come alive”. “They” being the shadows in the background (insert your own interpretation here about who the “they” are. The voices in her head? The Icelandic Hidden Folk?)

            I’m not saying it’s a surefire winner. If the lack of consensus in the comment threads tell us anything, it’s that there really isn’t a surefire winner this year. But it does have a shot at winning.

      • Mr Wolf

        Every year there are few people who think that one of the weak Scandinavian entries has a chance for winning.
        “I Hear Them Calling” is totally dated and too Nordic.
        It doesn’t have any chance of getting points from East or Balkan. It doesn’t even have appeal for Scandinavians imo.
        Who is the audience for this?
        If it’s gonna qualify, it’ only thanks to draw.
        Last year Iceland had at least as decent song and got 15th place in his Semi with second half draw.
        Don’t see much potential in Azerbaijan as well.
        Who should be the potential target audiance?
        Not in fashion.

        • From the crowd reactions at EIC there clearly is an audience for Hear Them Calling. Yes, I know the fandom aren’t always reliable indicators, but they went absolutely wild for Greta.

          I’m not sure being in fashion is really an issue for winning. It’s not as if Conchita Wurst was in fashion, unless I missed the hot trend for genderfluid Bond themes.

        • PurpleKylie

          ” ‘I Hear Them Calling’ is totally dated”

          You’ve clearly never heard of Of Monsters And Men…

          • Yep, that’s what I first thought of when I heard the song – Of Monsters and Men.

            Admittedly Of Monsters and Men haven’t had any big hits since their heyday in the 1960s, but I recommend their sound could make a comeback. 😉

  • Dicksbits

    I think you’re all living in a bubble: It’s a load of overly-dramatic claptrap and the song is DULL.

    • Chris Bellis

      Dicksbts – Which song are you referring to? I may be being thick here but I can’t follow the thread. Your post is not linked to any OP. The posts above reference several songs. This isn’t your fault I know but please specify.

    • johnkef

      Iceland is the biggest value bet along with Croatia for NQ. Croatia probably will qualifu but Iceland @3.00 is pure value!!!

      A repetitive, copycat, chaotic, full of gimmicks 3 minutes. She’s like running in a track field full of gimmicks just to be on time to perform them! Even if it qualifies, which for me is very unlikely, its a sure bet for bottom 5 in the final!

  • Black n Blue

    I don’t have much hope for Iceland. Unless of course a pair of gigantic wings shoot out of Greta’s dress as she takes flight from a snow-top castle, wreaking havoc inside the Globen in a battle to the death which will then be released on Netflix in several delayed installments until her defeat at the hands of a mighty Russian warrior who subsequently is squashed to a pulp by Hera Bjork in an unexpected turn of events. Now that would be something.

  • I’ve shared Iceland with lots and lots of people who would not be seen dead on a website like this (poor them), but watch ESC every year and vote. Consensual view?: “isn’t she trying to be like that Swedish woman from fours years ago…the one with the Kate Bush act? In which case, it’s a poor show…” followed by, “quite upbeat and jolly, but it goes nowhere. Repetitive. Very.”

    It’s a small focus group, I admit, but they called Conchita very early on in 2014, and I trust them. So: Iceland to qualify YES. Serious winning potential? NO.

  • Henry VIII

    Mr Wolf what has changed tangibly with France since it was trading much higher? The only thing is the fan confirmation and bonding over it. Pleasant song for the radio, rather weak and repetitive for a stage show.

    • Mr Wolf

      For me it’s not only fan confirmation, but also confirmation from other sources where I get some feedback every year.
      I’m a bit concerned about the live show as well, but France has so many qualities and so far it’s trading higher than Russia, I see value.
      Russia isn’t that strong and I really can’t see that any other entry has that strong potential. There are some countries with TOP3/4/5 surprise potential, but I can’t see any other country than France and Russia with the potential for very universal appeal and really high score.

      • What sources are you referring to here, that support France? I guess the fan polls is one, at least…

        • Mr Wolf

          I refer to people I know, who have different backrounds, are not Eurovision fans and who’s opinions and tastes i’m familiar with and who’s standpoints I can analyze according to past. With who I have talked about Eurovision every year.
          And polls give us good information as well if you are capable reading behind the lines.

    • Mr Wolf

      I actually have thought so far that Amir doesn’t need a show or a gimmick as far the whole act seems current and contemporary to people.
      Like Il Volo last year, he just needs to perform his song charmingly and thats it.

  • Montell

    Speaking about Iceland. They should send a song in Icelandic. It’s such a beautiful language, full of unpronounceable sounds. Just listen to this. God it’s beautiful.

  • Milton

    Question for Daniel, or any informed readers who know the answer. The juries are asked to judge on the following criteria:

    Vocal capacity
    Stage performance
    Composition and originality
    Overall impression by the act

    Do you know if they are obliged to give equal weighting to each of these criteria. For example might they be asked to give each country a score out of 10 for each of the above, giving a total potential score of 40, which is then used to determine their rankings? Or are jurors free to interpret the criteria as they see fit?

  • The first preview shows are hitting the internet. The Finnish broadcaster YLE just finished the previews (with juries) of semi #1. Netherlands finished on top of the board there:

    Also the Icelandic preview show from state broadcaster RUV is on its way. They award the songs with points on a scale from 0 to max. 10 points. After 9 songs from semi #1 have been judged, Netherlands is in 1st place with 35 points. Croatia and Armenia are joint 2nd with 31 points. Russia seems not jury material there: 4th with 28 points:×563/public/fr_20160411_036487.jpg?itok=awjB6nbA&timestamp=1460383591

    I would be careful with placing too much judgment on these shows. But it does give you an idea on how juries could vote next month.

    • PurpleKylie

      Thanks very much, I’m planning to do English transcripts of both the Swedish and Norwegian preview shows on my own site, which btw, the latter starts this Saturday. I’ll share the articles in these comment sections in case the Sofabetters want to read.

      I agree that we should be cautious, but it still a decent indicator of how their juries might vote. Last year the Swedish panel were literally on their feet dancing to Australia’s song and we know how many point Sweden ended up giving them…

  • PurpleKylie

    For those interested in how non-fans think about the songs, ESC Bubble are doing a series of videos where they get non-fans to review the songs. They’ve recently done Sweden and they didn’t seem overly impressed with it:

    As for France, they all said “it’s nice”, but nothing more:

    • Ande

      Nice, but it’s problematic that ESCBubble uses music videos and not their live performances.

      • johnkef

        I can count the douzen of times i liked a studio version of a song with a nice videoclip and i was disappointed by the live version…call me Azerbaijan 2010, Israel 2010,Hungary 2011, France 2011, Armenia 2014 etc etc etc…

        France had value @11-13 range, hunting the each way edge of the bet.

        His live performance is more than shaky. Even if he’s gonna improve and the song is staged perfectly, we don’t know his running order. Would you throw your money away if he opens the contest or appear before or after a strong contender?

        Food for thought…

        • Chris Bellis

          Food for thought indeed. I’ve wasted a lot of money betting on songs I liked from the video, only to see them placed very early on in the running order, or the live performance was way out of tune etc. France 2013 being one – nice song, fairly well sung, on at the beginning. At least I didn’t waste money on France 2011 as the price was too short. Bookie’s favourite wasn’t it?

          • Montell

            I did the same mistake when I started betting on Eurovision. I think we all did. In order not to repeat the same mistakes, every year after Eurovision I write notes for myself of what I learned that year. It helped me a lot. I’m betting on Eurovision since 2011 and since then I made a comprehensive list of rules of how to win betting on Eurovision. However, I often end up trusting my gut feeling 🙂

          • Ande

            Autumn leaves last year </3

        • Hippo

          That’s a very good point. What the top 3 every year for the last five years have had in common is that the live performance is better than the studio version. Going of Amir’s live performance and France’s dismal track record of staging mid to up tempo entries I don’t see France as a leading contender.

          I’d be less worried about the draw. If he is still high in the odds by the end of semi 2, France should get a decent draw- heaven knows they’re due one.

    • Ande

      I thought the reaction to the French song was very positive, Their eyes light up and I think they connected with Amir.

  • Henry VIII

    What are these preview shows? Anybody got details, ie how many judges, are they judging all songs, are these preview shows the same format in all countries that have them are they independent? Thanks.

    • Avitas

      Each broadcaster has their own format. I attended the recording of one of NRK’s shows last week. It’s a panel of 4 “experts” (among them the current and previous Norwegian HoDs). They’re sitting watching all the preview videos (split into 4 shows), discussing each entry after it’s shown and awarding points according to the ESC scale. They’re assessing the perceived strengts and weaknesses of the entry as they see it. It’s vert funny! Spain slayed the show I watched, and Germany was at the very bottom (some of them called it the worst song of the year… 🙁

      • Henry VIII

        OK thanks. I wonder how useful it is, you could say that a HoD is a superfan and therefore not like the average viewer. And of course they all have their own motivations and biases.

  • I get the feeling that we’re in for a Conchita Year, in which we won’t really know who’s likely to win until we see the semifinals.

    Do I get a shiny gold foil star for inventing the term “Conchita Year”?

    • I would love too…but…… ;-). In all honesty, Austria’s victory for me was more or less clear after this late March 2014 performance. I’m still happy I won quite a lot of money on it by backing La Conchita with odds of 11 :-):

      That ‘total package’ for me started to scream ‘winner’. It worked. It gave me goosebumps. People underestimate how much you can read from a well executed live performance before the rehearsals.

      Obviously, the eventual performance was better, but the core concept of this live performance was copy-pasted to the stage in Copenhagen. You felt that Conchita was in full control of the staging (just like The Common Linnets by the way).

      Armenia for me was never a real contender back in 2014. A contender TOP 5 yes, but not a contender for victory. The Armenian entry from 2014 has the same kind of ’emotional feel-good appeal’ as Latvia this year. Which simply wasn’t that ‘feel-good’ at all.

      At this stage, for me, the winner will be among these three countries: Latvia, France and Sweden. And I tend to slightly rule out Latvia. But I’m not there yet. Russia for me isn’t jury bait. So, 2016 is already more nightmare-ish for punters as compared to 2014 ;-).

      My gut feeling at this moment tells me that juries and televoters will take less-than-impressive vocals and staging from Sweden and France for granted. And in return all attention will go to the charisma of the singer, and the charm and ‘feel-good-feeling’ of the song. Sweden and France have such songs.

      One last thing: I hope that everyone agrees Eurovision has become much better. It has become much more important music podium as opposed to the early 00’s. A huge chunk of the participants are backed by expensive record companies. For many singers the contest has become a stepping stone for bigger music careers (Loreen). But also well-established singers see the contest as a perfect bit of music marketing and a launching platform for a new album (The Common Linnets). And on top of that, let’s face it, the songs have really really become much much better.

  • Black n Blue

    I’m curious to know what everyone here thinks about Michal from Poland. Objectivity to one side, I have grown to like this one. To me anyway it’s a sweet throwback to the classic 80’s ballad. Many so called ‘fans’ online have labelled the song as dated, but in truth it’s not as if it’s pretending to be contemporary, it clearly knows it’s place in time. I’m tempted to use the term ‘vintage’ but perhaps that’s a touch too flattering.

    The reason I’ve brought this one up is because I haven’t a clue where it’ll finish. If Color Of Your Life comes across as static and deathly boring, Poland mightn’t even qualify, but I reckon that if audiences can get their heads around this being a bit old hat and somewhat nostalgic, and provided Michal sings his heart out like at the NF, than I wouldn’t rule out Poland nabbing a top ten finish.

    • Ande

      Like you I’ve got great difficulties placing Michal and for me this is a wait for rehearsals and see.

      Top 10 feels a little bit optimistic since the track lacks a clear target audience and Poland has such a bad track record with staging. That said he’s a strong performer who will benefit from better presentation and audio mixing in Stockholm.

      • Chris Bellis

        The Polish milkmaids won the televote here in UK, so the staging worked with some people….Joking apart, they’ll have to up their game for Michal to do well, despite his singing ability.

  • Milton

    Russia being given the latest possible slot has been seen as a positive for their chances, but I wonder if this is SVT trying to expose it as the piece of fluff that it is by following it immediately by Czech Republic, possibly the most credible, gravitas laden song in that semi? Any thoughts?

    • Black n Blue

      That was my initial reaction too. However it works both ways considering Sergey is taking to the stage right after possibly the biggest piece of fluff since Euro Neuro.

      • Milton

        Fair point BnB, but Armenia proceeds San Marino, so if you overlook San Marino which is essentially a jokey interlude from the real contest, Russia could be in the middle of a seriously credible sandwich, depending on how Armenia’s stage show works out.

    • PurpleKylie

      Me and a friend went through the official recap vids when they running order was released, we both reckoned that Czech Rep felt quite refreshing after Russia’s kitchen sink.

  • Amir in Tel Aviv. His vocal is a lot stronger at the end. I saw a recent interview where he acknowledged that his vocal in Amsterdam hadn’t been the best, and said he was working with his vocal coach – so he knows what has to be done.

    He still sounds rushed singing the very fast bit at the beginning, but I’m thinking that could be sorted out with the vocal arrangement, sharing the load amongst the backing singers.

    • While the studio version could work for him, the “you” chorus is almost impossible to nail live. That’s too big an if for me to back him.

      • I think many of us are completely overestimating the vocals of Amir. We’re putting too much weight on that aspect. As if it’s some kind of ultimate do or die moment for France. I don’t buy it. With such feel-good entries like “Satellite”, “Running Scared”…..and “J’ai Cherché”, televoters and juries are way more occupied with the singer’s charisma and the heartfelt feel-good atmosphere surrounding the song. These are smart entries, that easily distract from singing capabilities. So televoters and juries are more forgivable with a few ‘bad’ notes. Amir is a perfect singer. He won’t be another Rona Nishliu. Perhaps a good thing. But his charm is backing him up.

        By the way, I’m still looking heavily to Azerbaijan for that aspect as well. I still find it a dangerous entry. One that has been forgotten entirely because of the singer’s bad vocals from one performance. The Azeri in the end know how to maximize success.

        • PurpleKylie

          1) Satellite is not a song that requires perfect vocals, J’ai cherché is. If he messes up that intro and/or high note, then that’s his chances gone.

          2) Dude, he is not a perfect singer, a true note-perfect singer from this year would be Gabriela and Sanja. I saw that performance of him on French TV where he did do the high note and it was painful.

          3) Azerbaijan’s song is the type that easily exposes bad vocals with it’s minimalist production. Not to mention the fact that such an empty, repetitive song has zero chance of winning.

  • France: I think the key test of a good song is that you really don’t want it to end. “J’ai cherché” is very repetitive and does not go anywhere…..he has a very agreeable, sunny disposition and I can’t help feeling that the positives for this are stemming from that, rather than the music. The “ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” bit, sounds like the kind of noise a slightly batty person might make on the other side of the street as they try to get your attention. 5-1 second favourite…..not convinced. But, as we all keep saying, it’s NOT a vintage year.

  • Let’s agree to disagree then :-).

    I think we are exaggerating Amir’s vocals. If Amir adjusts some of the high notes into lower notes, and if he’s doing that in a smart way, then there’s no problem.

    Regarding repetitiveness…….it has become a matter of personal taste I think. Solely based on structure, “Calm After The Storm” was a very repetitive song. Even “Satellite” didn’t have the obligatory bridge with key note changes.

  • Henry VIII

    If a country plunges in price ask is the motive: they have displayed stunning staging; the singer has displayed greater vocal prowess; it has achieved success in download charts; it has got a great draw in the final?

    Or is it just because it has become a Eurovision fan favourite which is causing people to forget its reception on first announcement? There always has to be one.

    • johnkef

      My first reception of Amir’s song was really positive. It’s definitely a feel good, radio friendly song and i’m glad i bet some money when there was still some value (@13.00)

      It has come to my attention the last two years a pattern in this and other eurovision betting sites concerning the psychology of the bettors. They fell in love with a song for 2-3-4 days and the market responds, then their attention goes to another song and then another song and then another song…and they tend to forget the dynamics of other songs.

      This year started with Poland and boom…then it was Latvia…Sweden…Croatia…Malta…Ukraine…now we are in the ”France period”…and i can guess the next three periods…Australia, Armenia and Italy…at some time their odds will shorten too…

      Last year the same thing has happened with Sweden, then Australia, then Italy and finally with Russia and Belgium in the rehearsals.

      My point is that we should have in mind the bigger picture and not be carried away by the current and end up betting in 15 different countries hoping to just get our money back.

      Trust your gutt, search for value and don’t confuse infos with the noise which is always bountiful this time of year. This is what gave me a very good profit last year. I got 9/10 of my original Top10 from mid March and correct ranking from1 to 9 with the exception of Australia (4th instead of 5th) and Belgium (5th instead of 4th).

      If you like or think that a song will win or will do well, go for it if there’s value. Don’t bet on a song because of what other people think or because you see a trend or because a poll of 1000-2000 fans voted for a song. They are a small minority in the nights of the contest

      • I actually agree with you Johnkef. Did you also see that the market is completely overreacting with The Netherlands now? In less than two days the odds have shortened tremendously. It was around 19th-22nd for weeks. And now within 48 hours it has risen to 15th place.On Betfair Exchange it’s even 13rth now for the remainder of the day.

        I wouldn’t be surprised that because of this post the odds start drifting again LOL :-P. My point -and your point- is: Please man, take it easy :-P.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Excellent analysis of betting site psychology, johnkef. I hadn’t really noticed that…until you highlighted it above. Only in hindsight does that seem an obvious point!

        Excellent post all round, crammed with good points.

        V annoyed with myself regarding France. The French entry and the one from Belgium are the ones I’ve loved from my first listen-watch through the contestants…

        I can’t remember the last French entry I liked…but my God I love this! Cracking tune, melody and super-duper likeable lead singer. Gorgeous, warm, warm vibe all round. I could have this on repeat play for hours! Joie de vivre!”

        It was widely available at that time (double-checked on oddschecker) at 20/1.

        Too annoyed with myself to touch it now, as the value has gone. Or it feels like it has.

        Regarding repetitiveness I’d observe there are many, many repetitive songs that do very well in most music genres. The right kind of repetitiveness can equal catchy. Classical music buffs often look down their nose at all pop songs. J’ai cherché is not markedly repetitive or fatally repetitive.

        Maria Olaf’s Unbroken, from last year’s Eurovision was fatally repetitive.

        As for singing ability, a great voice can lift, or even make, a song, but a great package isn’t necessarily stopped by potential vocal deficiencies.

        I remember on this site from 2013 someone posted a link (maybe Daniel?) to that year’s finals performances, with just the vocals left to appreciate, or not. Farid delivered a horror of a vocal performance (not obvious at the time, during the spectacle of Fokas’s symbolic art drama). And Azer finished in the silver medal position.

        Aram MP3 combined boring staging, an ugly man wearing a coat-suit that combined the worst of original Star Trek and Matt Smith’s Dr Who fashion sense and all finished off with horrible, weak off-key singing. And he still managed 4th in 2014.

        And then there’s Lena’s vocal performance from 2010 of that catchy (and repetitive) Satellite, with her poly-accented delivery. Her orbiting accent tour is both sort-of interesting and very unpleasant. Yet that won!

        Vocal performance deficiencies won’t stop a catchy, fun song sung by a charasmatic, sexy, attractive singer from winning.

        Think I’ll have another watch-listen to the Jamalagasm.

        That is another entry with the quality to transport.

  • I very much doubt there will be an “Italy period” in 2016….

  • Do we need a trip to Italy though? People still have nightmares over the dogs dinner of a production that was 1991.

    • KeyserSoze

      That’s exactly why it would be awesome! I’m getting tired of perfectly produced Scandinavian shows, I want an Italian mess. 1991 was so bad, it was good.
      Either way, it’s not happening next year. And if Italy does move after the rehearsals, they will drift. Unless Francesca miraculously learns how to smile.

      • johnkef

        Guys i’m not implying that Italy will win, but the song has more than 2.5% chances of winning. Her voice and song are really nice. That’s why i believe that during rehearsals we will see a price drop @20’s. It’s not a favorite and it won’t be one

  • David

    People need the calm down about France, yes the song is catchy, but calling Amir sexy is going too far!

    • PurpleKylie

      Lol! Ben CG made fun of me for getting too carried away when I said Justs was cute xD

      Which btw, pictures do NOT do him justice… <3

      Sorry for the silly "hot guy" talk guys, but yeah, me and the rest of us need to be careful not to get too carried away with artists' looks. We're supposed to be overanalysing punters after all!

    • John G

      I dunno, he is fairly sexy. A French Ruffalo if you ask me

    • In all honesty? I can’t choose between Man’s Zelmerlöw and Amir. I want to have both between my sheets :-o.

  • Anyone have any thoughts on where the UK will eventually place? I’m not going to provoke gales of laughter by suggesting a surprise win, but I’m wondering if it’ll do better than Electro Velvet (not that such a result would be difficult to achieve.)

    After EIC, I did find myself warming slightly to the UK entry. It’s no classic, but it has a certain charm and likeability as an Ode to the Bro Code.

  • PurpleKylie

    Germany’s now started their preview show, no prizes for guessing why a certain song came top in the first show…

    • More interesting to look at the reviews of the 1st half of the semi from this show. There’s a pattern…when compared to the Icelandic and Finnish preview shows.

    • Tim B

      Bless them! I see Finland did a similar thing with their entry in order to pretend to the audience that they aren’t sending something embarrassing.

      • Just to be clear, those were the ‘jury’ results and the ‘poll’ results, excluding Germany, from the 1st half of semi final 1:

        ‘Jury’ results:
        –> 9.0 points: THE NETHERLANDS
        –> 9.0 points: SAN MARINO
        –> 8.0 points: HUNGARY
        –> 7.0 points: RUSSIA
        –> 6.5 points: CROATIA
        –> 6.0 points: ARMENIA
        –> 2.5 points: FINLAND
        –> 2.5 points: MOLDOVA
        –> 1.5 points: GREECE

        ‘Poll’ results:
        –> 8.1 points: CROATIA
        –> 7.6 points: RUSSIA
        –> 7.3 points: ARMENIA
        –> 7.3 points: HUNGARY
        –> 5.8 points: THE NETHERLANDS
        –> 5.3 points: FINLAND
        –> 4.5 points: MOLDOVA
        –> 4.0 points: GREECE
        –> 2.7 points: SAN MARINO

  • Hippo

    Here comes the misplaced national optimism-
    Uk last price matched of 50 after that pretty terrible Graham Norton performance.

    • PurpleKylie

      I reserve my national optimism for rugby, football and the Olympics, and even then it’s spilt between two countries #DualNationalityProblems

      In Eurovision I don’t give a monkeys how the UK does as long as my favourite does well.

    • Black n Blue

      To be fair to the lads, I thought they sounded better than at You Decide. Jake (the guy with the guitar) can sing well enough, it’s just his partner in crime has to carry people through the opening 30 seconds with an incredibly flat vocal. I do find the amateurishness of the act somewhat endearing, but I sense SVT will probably sandwich them between two contenders, and in doing so will weaken what is an already wobbly package.

      • On second thoughts, I suspect I may have been a little harsh in predicting a Jemini-style car crash. After all, they’re in the Oasis/Arctic Monkeys Britpop genre where pitch-perfect vocals aren’t really considered to be as important.

        There is indeed something endearing about the act, though I’m not predicting them to trouble the left hand side of the leaderboard.

      • Chris Bellis

        Not so much Jemini, more Samantha Janus. I agree though they are endearing, especially if like me you got in early with a bottom five bet.

  • PurpleKylie

    I had a dream last night the The Netherlands came second this year, again

    If it happens in May, you heard it here first 😉

  • Alpie

    @johnkef I really appreciated your comments last year. I would like to have your opinion about Serbia, Bulgaria and Latvia

    • johnkef

      Thanks Alpie! I hope my comments will prove useful this year too…

      Regarding Serbia, i think that they have a song that could be Top5 material, but that Amy Whinehouse persona and all those melodramatic grimaces are trully hurting the song and turn the viewers away. Personally i enjoy listening that song but i cannot see more than 30 seconds of the videoclip. I don’t think that she’s gonna change anything and become less dramatic so in my opinion this song will finish somewhere between 8-14

      Bulgaria: They will definitely qualify. And they have a song that could be between 6-10 BUT…Bulgaria has an awful history of staging its songs. They tend to be kitch and i’m personally convinced that they will do it again. Even their videoclip is kitchy. So i believe that they will also land in the 8-14 area, maybe a little bit better if they stage it right.

      Latvia: This is one of my Top5 favorite songs of the year. This one will do better than the other two, somewhere between 4-8, but i’m a little bit concerned about his vocals. He’s closer to pull off a Vassili Amaury than a winning performance. And he needs a good draw. If in fiirst half, i can’t see him doing better than 5th-6th

      • Alpie

        who do you think that may win with the current live performances so far?

        • johnkef

          I really can’t say. It’s gonna be between Russia, France and Australia in my opinion. But i haven’t seen Australia live yet and the staging will make the difference.

          • Chris Bellis

            I sat through the live performances again yesterday and I agree on Russia. Everybody here is saying it’s cheesy (which it is) but when did that stop a song winning Eurovision? Agree on France if he can nail it on the night. As for Dami Im, she sang flat on X Factor Australia throughout, but still won it (2013),
            so she must have something. EG

            skip the awful beginning with Ms Minogue and jump to 1.55.

            To me she seems to have been cloned in a K-Pop factory, but this is a betting site and we have to evaluate winning or losing chances. Gut feeling is definite Q but position in final around 5.

  • Hello to everyone and congratulations for an excellent conversation about eurovision. I would like to offer my opinion about two songs that I believe will be in the final top 10: Cyprus and Belgium.

    Cyprus has a very strong, memorable song with absolutely no other rock contender this year. Furhtermore, if Greece fails to qualify to the final, which I think is very possible this year, all the diaspora votes will go to Cyprus. If Turkey 2010 came second, I can’t think of a worse place for Cyprus. But even with Greece present in the final, Cyprus can’t miss the top 10.

    Belgium can appeal to jury members and voters aged above 35-40, and is quite “uptown-funkish” to appeal to even younger voters. The pimp slot in the semi-final can work well for her, since countries voting to the same semi-final alongside Belgium can give it a boost to the final as well. (Usually semi-final voters keep their opinion unchanged to the final)

    I don’t see rehearsals changing my mind, because I believe Cyprus will do a great stage job (Thank you Sweden!) and the vocals don’t need to be over the top for this song to work. As for Belgium a dance routine and a slight improvement of the vocals from Laura, can bring a top-10 result effortlessly.

    I wonder if I can combine this bet (Cyprus and Belgium both top-10) somewhere and what value I could get.

    Daniel I would like to know what your thoughts are on this and if this betting combination is possible.

    Thanks everyone!

    • Ande

      I’m sorry to say this but I don’t know if you are joking or delusional. Your statements has no basis in reality =D

      Laura should be satisfied if she recieves a ticket to the final, which by the way her slick dance routine and eager charisma just might net her. Beyond the semis she will be hard pressed to impress the judges with her tacky tune and shaky vocals.

      Under favorable circumstances I’ll agree that Minus One have top 10 potential. But rock hasn’t done well at Eurovision recently and it’s simply deranged to think an act like this will have a good placing independent of performance or draw.

      Best wishes!
      Mrs. Drag

  • Think you’d get really good odds on a Cyprus-Belgium top ten double. While I agree that Cyprus has a distinctive and original entry that will stand out from the pack, I can’t enthuse as much about Belgium I’m afraid.

  • PurpleKylie

    Sorry for the crappy picture quality, but here’s this week’s scores from Norway’s preview show…

  • Boki

    Off-topic but still can be related to esc – what if someone comes with a staging like this?

  • peterrehberg

    I don’t get the criticism about Amir’s voice. I think he is selling the song extremely well. This is pop, and voice is just one of many aspects. His relaxed sex appeal is so much more 2016 than Sergej’s late 1980s Janet-Jackson-imitation. People will just want to see Amir on stage again, and that’s what winning Eurovision is all about. Do you like him enough to have him return to the stage? Amir has the charm that perhaps is missing in Frans. I believe in France. I also agree that both Poland and Italy will do much better than the odds are telling us. In my book, both top 5. And while initially Croatia was overrated now this attention has shifted to Bulgaria and Australia. I am not so impressed by either of them, they are overproduced and wont stand out.

  • RonH

    I knew France was going to be a serious contestant on first listen. No need for deep analyses to conclude that. I therefore bought @ 40 on march 4.

    • Chris Bellis

      Good bet. I wish it were available now. I did the same with Sweden as usual and UK for bottom five. Works nearly every year, and UK last five must be easy money this year.

  • All (jury) results from the Icelandic preview show you’ll find here:

    01. 35 points: MALTA
    01. 35 points: THE NETHERLANDS
    03. 33 points: ICELAND
    04. 31 points: CROATIA (1 higher vote than Hungary)
    05. 31 points: ARMENIA
    06. 29 points: ESTONIA
    07. 28 points: RUSSIA
    08. 27 points: CYPRUS
    09. 26 points: AZERBAIJAN
    10. 25 points: HUNGARY
    11. 21 points: CZECH REPUBLIC
    12. 19 points: MOLDOVA
    13. 17 points: FINLAND (1 higher vote than Austria)
    14. 17 points: AUSTRIA
    15. 11 points: BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA (1 higher vote than Greece)
    16. 11 points: GREECE
    17. 06 points: SAN MARINO
    18. 05 points: MONTENEGRO

    • Chris Bellis

      Entirely confirms what I think of the Icelanders. Lovely people, but do remember their favourite food is rotted shark meat, and you have to get a prescription in order to buy cigarettes. Vodka £70 a bottle and only available from government shops, open for an hour or so a day and closed on Sundays. God forbid they win it. Puritanism gone mad.

      • KeyserSoze

        Prescription for cigarettes?! Vodka £70?! They managed to ruin two of my favourite things in the world.

      • PurpleKylie

        Having government-run alcohol shops with ridiculously short opening hours selling hard drinks at stupidly high prices is a Nordic thing in general, well except for Denmark, which explains why the Danes are alcoholics xD

        • Chris Bellis

          Kylie – agreed, but Iceland is the worst by a mile. Even in Finland and Norway you can get reasonable strength beer in a supermarket, although not wine or spirits. In Iceland you can only get 2% canned lager. BTW it hasn’t stopped them from having a huge alcohol problem. Ditto Finland. When they drink, they drink to get drunk and there is a massive black market in home made hooch in both countries. If I lived there I’d do the same – make a still and produce some potato based alcohol spirit, and add it to the pissy lager from the supermarket.

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