Eurovision in Concert 2017 Review

Amsterdam’s Eurovision in Concert event took place on Saturday with a bumper crop of this year’s hopefuls. Having covered many of the artists who participated in the previous week’s London gig, the focus here will be on those seen live for the first time. The YouTube channels of esckaz and Wiwibloggs provide ample footage.

I’ve seen acts feted at these events only to fall flat on the Eurovision stage, and others ignored here only to come alive when it matters. As one example of the latter, The Common Linnets endured problems with the sound mix in 2014, and remained under the radar even though performing on home turf.

There’s no denying that one of the biggest receptions on Saturday was given to Hungary’s Joci Papai. He did bring his national final (and presumably Eurovision) stage show with him, but it was also recognition of the passion and artistry he puts into ‘Origo’. I’m of the opinion that this is too good to stay out of the final.

Another very popular act were Belarus’s Naviband – the feelgood ‘Historyja Majho Zyccia’ is performed with infectious energy. I’m less certain it’s qualifying from the same semi-final. This kind of fun, foreign-language folk number has tended to score poorly with juries in the past (Finland 2010 being an example that springs to mind).

The Amsterdam event was notable was for being my first chance to assess Armenia and Azerbaijan live. I’ll admit to favouritism: I’ve always preferred Armenia’s chances to score well because I think the package has identity, and is interestingly out-of-the-box rather than just pretending to be – not to mention its headstart from diaspora points.

Maybe it’s just confirmation bias, but I thought Artsvik was more vocally assured and comfortable here than Dihaj. To be fair, both hold the promise of interesting stage shows come Kiev, and it may be best to wait for a more definitive answer when rehearsals properly begin.

In between the London and Amsterdam concerts had come another gig in Tel Aviv which was streamed live last Wednesday. At that event there were sound issues throughout. Particularly affected were the Irish and Israeli participants, who both had earpiece problems and were offkey.

They were much better here in Amsterdam, though with room for further improvement. I’m more positive on Brendan Murray’s high voice and Westlife-style song than most. I think it’s a coherent package with an obvious big moment that should play fine to an Eurovision audience.

The same could be said for Israel’s Imri Ziv with a very different song. He’ll presumably have to manage the more difficult job of some moves alongside the vocals (having understandably focused on the latter last Saturday), but the ‘Golden Boy’ dancers will be helping him out in Kiev.

Positive stage shows are all relative of course, but San Marino’s ‘Spirit of the Night’ came across much better than a song as bad as this has any right to. That’s because Valentina and Jimmie are vocally secure and bounce off each other effectively. They shouldn’t qualify, but I’m no longer saying couldn’t so loudly.

Albania has an uphill struggle in the first half of the first semi. There’s plenty counting against ‘World’, but Lindita’s vocals aren’t one of them, because she was very impressive here. The other big female ballad in that part of the draw is Georgia’s ‘Keep The Faith’, and Tako also has a good set of pipes.

The crowd obviously lapped up the Netherlands’ O’G3NE with ‘Lights and Shadows’. The way the song allows them to show off their harmonies puts them in with a chance of scoring well enough with juries to qualify. My estimation of Cyprus’s qualifying chances also went up after watching Hovig look more comfortable performing ‘Gravity’ live here than he had when miming at the Greek final.

Switzerland’s Timebelle have their fans, as the first OGAE votes indicate, but ‘Apollo’ as a song risks being too bland and anonymous when set against others, just as happened with the same country’s 2015 entry.

Serbia’s Tijana Bogicevic was better here than in Tel Aviv, but ‘In Too Deep’ needs an interesting stage show to lift it in Kiev. Right now if it were an entry from a nation lacking in Eurovision allies – like Switzerland, in fact – I’d be calling it a non-qualifier already. It says something that ‘Rain of Revolution’ is considered that already despite hailing from Lithuania, which also has some diaspora and regional support.

I should comment on France and FYROM, who mainly mimed in London. We heard a little more from both this time, as they sang over some playback. Alma is showing more and more personality on stage, which is promising for France, but FYROM’s Jana looks like she needs more time to grow in confidence.

Otherwise, once again the standout performer was Italy’s Francesco Gabbani, though an honourable mention goes to Romania’s ‘Yodel It’. Musically naff it may be, but the pair are so damn likeable on stage, all is forgiven. Meanwhile, Montenegro’s Slavko whipped his braid and the crowd into a frenzy. Please let us know your latest thoughts below.

149 comments to Eurovision in Concert 2017 Review

  • wef

    UK, Daniel, please?

    • As in London, there was nothing wrong with Lucie’s vocals at all. She sells it well. There’s room for a female ballad on the left-hand side of the scoreboard, and that’s possible here. I can’t see the song being good enough for anything like a Top 5 showing, though.

      • Nice to see a prof.better agreeing with me on this one :-).

      • wef

        Thanks Daniel. Seems to be a bit of consensus forming that it’ll be left hand side but not much more. I just can’t see there not being a female ballad in Top 10. Has that ever happened? I think all round this is easily the best and so might well finish 6-10.

        Put a small wager on it at 4-1 for Top 10 so fingers crossed.

        • Avitas

          I was in the audience at the filming of NRK’s Eurovision preview show. A panel of 8 awarding 1-12. UK finished dead last of all 43. Calling it a DMGP reject. Not good enough for EDF’s album. How can UK send this bland song etc. Not that it matters what a show like this thinks but among all the “mom tests” and “straight non-ESC fan tests” around here I thought it might be worth mentioning. If UK 2014 couldn’t….

          • For the UK in 2017, it´s hard to separate post-Brexit factors from the song itself when evaluating its prospects… its favour: very strong vocals, a confident performer who will learn to caress the camera and a memorable melody line with its chorus…

            against: a song that plateaus at 2 mins.10 secs and goes nowhere really. A lost opportunity in terms of development. I can’t share the optimism and would predict 17th to 20th….an improvement on recent years it must be said.

          • PurpleKylie

            Really? :O

            Do you know what they said about any of the favourites?

          • Avitas

            Israel actually won… Italy high, but surprisingly higher with the “professional panel” than the fans/audience. Bulgaria high and very good reviews. Sweden good reviews. I was there only for shows 3 and 4 as they were shot the same evening.

          • PurpleKylie

            Awesome, did you see the scores for Portugal and/or Belgium?

          • Chris Bellis

            “If UK 2014 couldn’t….”
            Both performance and song were inferior to Lucie’s effort this year, in my opinion. I think we’ve all come to the consensus that Lucie could, with a fair wind, get on the left side of the scoreboard. Which position will depend on staging, sound, etc. At least Lucie can deliver the song, anodyne though it is. Molly came 17th with a corny song and uninspired staging, with the last slot in the final. I’m optimistic for Lucie to do a bit better, but running order is crucial, as we all know.

          • Avitas

            They adored Portugal – the panel more so than the audience. Not sure about Belgium, that was in another show.

            What strikes me though, regarding the UK, is this:
            They all want the UK so badly to do well. They say things like “they created the very music we’re judging tonight. They’re world leaders when it comes to music. They’ve got heaps of song writers and song writing teams turning out one hit after the other. Why can’t they just send a GOOD song for once?!?”

            I believe the bar is set higher for the UK and mediocre just doesn’t do it – UK is judged harder than others because expectations are higher. Wait until the day the UK hits the formula and juries and audience alike feel the UK made an effort and find it worthy (Jade Ewan) – you will be rewarded!! It’s the same sentiment over at SVT on their preview shows (they’re not having one this year). I believe there’s something to it. Just cannot see a left hand side score, let alone top 10.

          • I’m gonna go with Avitas here. The UK should get a reasonable amount of jury but I don’t think it’ll get the televote. If Bonnie Tyler was 19th and Children Of The Universe 17th, there’s certainly room for the UK to rise up a little, but I’d cap it at 12th or so. The song is bland but Lucie wrings the absolute most out of it, and it’s post-Brexit. I don’t think audiences have a reason to care about it, and I think top 10 is optimistic, left-hand side a little more realistic but perhaps also optimistic. The UK’s televote score has stayed between 21st-25th for the past 5 years; a more intimate performance could certainly lift this a little, but IMO not enough to drag it into the top 10 or necessarily the left-hand side.

        • “I just can’t see there not being a female ballad in Top 10.”


          • wef

            Could be. Could be two in the top 10. Could be UK.

            I have to say that if Chris bellis thinks it has a chance, it has a chance.

  • PurpleKylie

    Nice to see that you didn’t get the fuss over Azerbaijan either, I thought she came across as very cold on stage. Lots of punters love it but I really don’t get it, and I can’t see how the overall package it going to be accessible enough for the public.

    I’m thinking that if there’s going to be a shock NQ in Semi 1, atm it’s looking like Azerbaijan imo.

  • Cathal

    You say Serbia have friends but the last 4 years the highest they have been in the semi is 9th and this imo is the least televote friendly song they have sent in that time. I think they should be okay just about but for the first time this season I’m starting to doubt there chances.

    • johnkef

      Totally agree with you Cathal. The ex-Yugoslav countries for some reason stopped supporting each other juries-wise since 2013 giving small points to each other. In 2015 they made the Top10 with only 53 points and last year they just made it when everybody, myself included, were sure about the Top10 and maybe higher. And Tijana doesn’t have the ‘voice’…

  • Milton

    In the past day or two Occidentali’s Karma has become the most viewed official Eurovision video of all time, taking just two months to cruise past the 86m that Il Volo have amassed in two years. OK has 710k likes, compared with 468k for Grande Amore. Impressive stuff.

    • Chris Bellis

      OK is seemingly on a loop on a lot of Italian music channels. It’s also getting frequent plays on other non Italian European channels. However, at the current price, and given that I know enough people who just don’t get it, I’m not betting too much on it. I feel I missed the boat with that one.

      • Milton

        The beauty with Eurovision is if you miss one boat there are so many markets and opportunities you can just look for another boat.

      • Italy will get played everywhere if/when it wins but Chris do you have any evidence that it’s being played frequently on non Italian channels?

        • Chris Bellis

          Henry – the only evidence is me flicking through the hundreds of music channels on my multi-satellite receiver, so not remotely scientific. It’s mega popular on all Italian channels – radio italia, radionorba, RTL Italia etc., but also seems popular on Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian channels. It’s being played on Austrian and German channels too. Given it’s the most played in Eurovision history,(at the time of release) I’m not surprised. I think it has real traction now.

      • Am I alone in thinking that Italy simply won’t win?

        • i am sure you are not LITERALLY the only one, but I think you are in a small minority…my vibes put Francesco up with Rybak 2009 and Loreen 2012…….he’s got a lot more going for him than MP3 Armenia 2014 and Sergey 2016 who were hot favourites and failed to deliver….

          • meridian_child

            How do you mean, Sergey failed to deliver? I mean he got 361 points in Televote (the 3rd highest score ever). There were always big doubts if he is going to win the juries and the main question was: “how much are juries going to punish this song?”
            As a favourite, he was kind of justified. The odds were just extremely low because people kept backing Russia despite the huge concern.

            Do you think Italy has got as much going for them as Rybak/Loreen or even more? The odds at least are much lower than Rybak’s or Loreen’s odds were even during rehearsals.

          • I don’t think Italy would be one of the great winners but it has something over all the great winners – relative lack of competition. This is the worst year I’ve ever seen.

            Odds-on cometh soon.

          • markovs

            I just find that a strange comment. I agree that apart from Italy there are no obvious winners but it is actually a pretty decent year. There are very few absolute stinkers (Spain, Lithuania, Poland) and a few absolute original stand out songs that just may be too niche to win (Belgium, Portugal, Latvia). But in the middle there are heap of really good songs that I will listen to for years.

            It’s a much better year than 2011, probably about equal with last year and streets ahead of 2001, 2002, 2004 and others.

            The problem is the lack of potential winners to challenge Italy but there is a consistent quality for me this year.

          • johnkef

            Since 2005 that i bet on Eurovision the times that we had a favourite at prices lower than 3.00 any time before or during the contest were these

            1. 2009 – Rybak- Norway – Won
            2. 2011- Amaury- France – Lost (15)
            3. 2012- Loreen- Sweden – Won
            4. 2013- EDF- Denmark- Won
            5. 2014- Aram- Armenia- Lost (4)
            6. 2015- Mans Zemmerlow- Sweden- Won
            7. 2016- Sergey Lazarev- Russia- Lost (3)
            8. 2016- Amir- France- Lost (6)

            Can you see the pattern? The hot favourite won only 4/8 times. 4/7 if you want to exclude Amir that was under 3.00 just for maybe two weeks before rehearsals.

            And the most important pattern, all the losers are males…I am not implying that Italy cannot win but not as easily as most you say. Italy can definitely score more points with the juries than Il Volo but i don’t think it can score so high in televoting. Probably it won’t need to but it’s not gonna be a win in flying colours.

        • meridian_child

          I do think Italy CAN win – but I have doubts it is going to do a Rybak.

          What makes you think it won’t win?

          • Sergey failed to deliver….the win, that’s where he fell short. Oddly, what happened to him (great televote, poor jury scores) is a mirror image of what Francesco’s detractors are saying about him. I think he will get a better jury score than Sergey, and very possibly outdo Il Volo’s 366 televotes….the competition is weak in 2017.

          • Chris Bellis

            Italy is walking away with all the prediction polls I’ve found online. I know we have to take some of them with a pinch of salt, eg OGAE, oikotimes etc., but all of them?

          • johnkef

            About the prediction polls…we are talking about a small non representative sample, that is tiny compared to the people that are going to vote the nights of the contest and are much more informed and passionate than the average viewer.

            The 33 people that voted in one poll representing the Czech Republic or the 47 that voted for Belarus and many more similar small samples from many countries in different polls cannot be representative. By definition they are excluded all the teenagers and many more demografic categories.

            The human brain has the tendency sometimes to overestimate some facts and underestimate others just because it is always trying to rationalise and explain everything. And don’t forget the fact that some participants are judged for their videoclip and not the live version.

            Add also the fact that we do not know anything or pretty much anything about the staging of the songs, and you are trapped in a bubble where a tiny fraction of people is voting for something different than the final product that the large majority will see.

            And then you have a Conchita that was an obvious winner all along but most of the people in here and elsewhere for months were arguing that it could not get points from the juries and the conservative eastern countries, or Netherlands that it was too bland to stand out.

            And you also have Jamaala that had the most sentimental performance that was seen as more authentic than the highly calculated of Lazarev but there was no way a sad song would win the contest. Not to mention the Korean girl representing Australia that does not have a chance with the eastern european televoters etc etc.

          • I really don’t get the appeal of it.
            I had the exact same reaction to Russia last year, before I heard it, EV had told me about it – first few listens I didn’t get it, and then I finally did “get it”. So far, I still don’t get Italys appeal

            This year I listened to all the songs at the weekend with an American female that had no prior knowledge of eurovision – or did I know the betting. Neither of us liked Italy much, I was surprised it’s so short

            As John points out, the polls are as usuful as you want them to be – same with online music charts. We’ve said this before, the majority of voters will be hearing the songs for the first time, the polls are all “fans” and don’t represent who actually votes on the night

        • You’re not alone, we’re in this together (again). Did you watch the music video or the live version of Italy, just out of interest?

          I’ve become so accustomed to the studio version from Spotify etc., but I went back and watched the live version from San Remo and vocally it was very, very poor. It looks an astonishingly short favourite based on that performance.

          • I have watched it, really flat sounding voice. The thing that makes the song is the synth tune in the background and the shouting bits….not the basis for decent jury points.
            I think I’m right in saying that Italy have enormous youtube views every year?

          • Milton

            He looked better than that at the parties and at the Coca Cola event Tim. His confidence is growing all the time, he’s riding this wave and loving it. Besides, who cares if he’s not Pavarotti, its an anthem, an explosion of joy, delivered by a fantastic charismatic performer.

            I’m not saying he’s a certainty, but the market thinks he’s more likely to lose than win at current prices, which I’d disagree with. If it wasn’t for the two stage voting process and the trading opportunity many are hoping that will bring I think he’d be odds on by now.

        • You are right in saying that. And, other than Il Volo, they have *massively* disappointed on the televote each year since they returned in 2011.

          2011 – 11th place with 99 points
          2012 – 17th place with 56 points
          2013 – 10th place with an average rank of 11.7
          2014 – 19th place with 32 points
          2015 – 1st place with 366 points
          2016 – 18th place with 34 points

          That’s not to say that the same thing will happen this year. However, some of those scores are shocking relative to how fancied they were by the markets in their respective years. Could it be that songs in the Italian language are a hard sell to the public unless it’s cheesy popera performed in the pimp slot by a world famous act?

          For instance, 17th place for L’amore E Femmina? It was 8/1 or thereabouts for months in the outright.

          • Lia

            L’amore è femmina was performed almost entirely in English though, so it being in Italian couldn’t have been the problem there.

          • Yeah you’re right, but it was bilingual.

          • George

            Saying that Italy have “enormous” views every year is stretching the truth by a hell of a lot. More than most countries, sure, but before this year the top view-getter from them was Il Volo, and they only had around 20 million in total from their official account and Eurovision video around this time. Francesco has 100 million. His momentum is unparalleled.

  • Ben Cook

    Is it just me who thinks Croatia is way too long at 250/1? Is it being underrated because until recently all we had was a lyric video?

    I remember watching the reaction to Conchita on Gogglewatch and wondering how the hell so many of us had dismissed her before rehearsals started, when in retrospect it was so obvious that a song and a performance like that just couldn’t fail.

    I wonder if there’s just a chance that we’re making the same mistake here with Jacques. We don’t know anything about how it’s going to be staged yet but surely this has the potential to stand out on the night and be a real talking point.

    Yes, the song is cheesy AF – but it’s damn effective. If he nails it vocally as he does on the record, it’s going to be amazing. It’s Grande Amore meets Let It Go. I really think the public are going to love it and it’s going to do a hell of a lot better than the current odds suggest.

  • Ben Cook

    Actually, having another look it’s only as long as that with one bookie, and it varies quite a bit with the others. But still think it’s way too long!

  • Patrick Mulligan

    Is this the first pre-Eurovision show of the season? Anyway, this is how the Icelandic panel has reacted to the first half of the first semi final.

    Portugal is triumphant in the first round.

  • markovs

    Purely from a betting angle, does anyone know if any betting sites are allowing multiple accumulators for semi final qualifiers?

    • johnkef

      if that ever happens i will spend the rest of my life betting for Eurovision from my villa somewhere in the Caribbean. OPAP (greek national betting company) allowed multiple accumulators for the winner, who’s gonna finish last and semi’s winners back in 2007, 2008 and in 2008 i ended up winning 1800 euros just betiing 18 for Russia as a winner @5.00 and UK to finish last @ 20.00. Happy days….

      I don’t think that any company does that

    • Nordicbet might be foolish enough to oblige.

  • I feel like the biggest difference of opinion between myself and the general consensus this year is that I like Slovenia. Anyone else? Given its running order draw, I’m a little reluctant to write it off in that final 6, which is very weak apart from Armenia. (While I like Paper and Line, the former is likely to be offputtingly staged and performed, the latter offputtingly staged and with jury-unfriendly vocals. The top-heaviness of the semi decreases the qualification chances of the poorer-quality later songs. ) Omar is vocally great and I don’t find the song anywhere near as bad as others seem to – it’s rousing, soaring, and yes, it sounds like it’s from 2004, but it’s good 2004. Is the backlash to its “datedness” a bubble thing that won’t be replicated among televoters?

    Given the likelihood of weak performances in the first half of SF2 (Macedonia and Serbia – both of which I’d previously assumed to be qualifiers, Macedonia now not so certain), I rate the Netherlands’ qualification chances more if they can stand out vocally in the first half.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I’d forgotten what the Slovenian entry even sounded like. I neither like nor dislike it. From a betting of view I wouldn’t touch it, given the singer’s recent backstory.

      On YouTube, there, the Croatian video was next up and started to play. Also dated and cheesy but much more anthem-like and vocally interesting

  • Oh and apropos of nowt here’s some vintage Svala from 2012 (shot at LA Fashion Week):

  • Yesterday I had a truly marvelous phone conversation with this year’s stage director for The Netherlands. Close friend of Hans Pannecoucke: Rolf Meter:

    The conversation was actually about my annual article series called ‘Staging Tips’. As you know, I’m betting for fun, not because it’s my job. We went through my tips in details, and he positively surprised with it. Not because he did not came up with it himself 🙂 :

    And apparently, a lot of my ‘tips’ will be brought to life in Kiev, as they are already part of Mr Meter’s ‘screenplay’. Like Pannecoucke, Meter is already for weeks in close contact with the technical and creative directors of Kiev 2017 (Swedish guys). 1st of May he will depart to Kiev and will oversee the editing room tasks very closely.

    I am not going to tell you guys anything about how the staging will look like. But all I will and can say, that if there’s one Eurovision entry this year with a heartfelt story (think Austria 2014), then it most definately is Netherlands.

    But to be very very honest, the things during our conversation that touched me most, was Mr Meter’s close relationship with the Vol family and especially with the very ill mother of O’G3NE. It puts betting odds and scoring chances in an entirely new perspective. I was deeply touched with what Meter told me.

    Will Netherlands qualify? Most definately.

    • Boki

      Gert, did you tell him they should NOT wear mini skirts?

      • You think their legs are too fat. I have to agree.

        A mini skirt would have created decency for Lindita (Albania) in Amsterdam though. From behind her outfit was rather shocking.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I felt crestfallen watching that Lindita performance. I got flashbacks to Serbia’s Moje 3 and their non-qualification from a Semi Final pimp slot.

          Though at least Moje 3’s image had been toned down to only look like street strumpets trying their hands at performing via an audition as children’s tv presenters in an adjoining studio.

          Whereas Lindita looked like she was readying herself for a large group session…

          I say this not as a prude but as a dismayed bettor. Dear Lord, pull back from that styling and attitude.

          Have gotten v close to actually betting on FYR Macedona but after watching Jana’s “live” performances in the run-up parties / concerts I feel like I know nothing more about her. I’m none the wiser as to whether this will soar or stink the place out. Too many question marks stacking up over this one.

          Blanche’s performances have been exactly as I expected. Not great, not terrible.

          Do smile to myself when I read or hear how Alma is becoming more charismatic. This girl’s a natural beauty, whom the camera loves from every angle, and who’s always been absolutely divine. She’s not learning to perform; she’s learnt to relax and release.

      • Mr Meter is not responsible for fashion eh? He’s a staging director. But I heard somewhere that they want to do something similar as in the videoclip…

    • John

      Hmph, I would hope no comment was made on their skirts or legs at all.

  • Ben Cook

    Linda Martin says Ireland have got Nicoline Refsing to do their staging (Common Linnets, Aminata, Dami Im). Interesting..

    • markovs

      …it’s a shame the song is so dire and his vocals so squeaky. In my bottom to this year. Nothing good about it at all imo and just cannot see it qualifying.

      • Lia

        Main problem for me is his vocals on the high notes. It’s possible to at least milk a cheesy dated song into some kind of guilty pleasure, but when his voice goes so squeaky and off-putting on the high notes, what can you do to hide that? Unless they bring in some miracle working backing singers…

    • I thought Nicoline Refsing was the Creative Director/Content Producer of the 2014 contest. Meaning that she was responsible for creating the ‘look and feel’ of all competing countries, by mainly focusing on LED-plans and Visuals. She did that together with Per Zachariassen. The later was focusing more on the basic camerawork of all the nations during the 2014 contest.

      Nice if she’s only focusing on Ireland this year. She did the staging for Italy last year. Hopefully she brings something nice to the table for Ireland.

      Do we actually have a list of names for every country’s dedicated stage director / frame editor?

      –> GREECE: Fokas Evagelinos
      –> GEORGIA: Sacha Jean-Baptiste
      –> NETHERLANDS: Rolf Meter
      –> SPAIN: Hans Pannecoucke
      –> IRELAND: Nicoline Refsing

  • Emrico

    This statement is wrong.

    1. 2009 – Rybak- Norway – Won
    2. 2011- Amaury- France (He was priced 4,0)
    3. 2012- Loreen- Sweden – Won
    4. 2013- EDF- Denmark- Won
    5. 2014- Aram- Armenia (He was priced slightly below 3,00 yes but in very beginning. Thru start of show, his odds raised. He had never been a heavy favourite like 1/1 also)
    6. 2015- Mans Zemmerlow- Sweden- Won
    7. 2016- Sergey Lazarev- Russia- Lost (3)
    8. 2016- Amir- France- ??? It was never below 3,00 either.

    So Sergey was the only loss between favourites priced under 3,00

    • meridian_child

      Aram Mp3 had the lowest price ever pre-contest. Thousands of € were even matched below 2.00 on betfair exchange.
      When rehearsals started, his price went slowly up again. Some hours before Semifinal 1 2014 he was still avaiable @3.10 on betfair.

    • johnkef

      I remember Aram being @1.80-1.90 for sure. And i remember Amaury in prices around 2.50. I wasn’t betting at Betfair that time but it was definitely there in other companies. Last year Amir also pre-rehearsal at some point was @2.80-3.00

  • Emrico

    My suggestion is,

    If you were able to take Italy above 3,00. Thats good. You got a good bet, keep it.

    If you didnt, wait for declaration of jury odds. You can take Italy at much better price at that moment. I dont think Italy will win jury votes so odds will raise after jury odds, However it will SLAY in televoting. Even if Il Volo scored 1st in televoting, I cant image how much Francesco will score. Theres no opponent for Italy in this contest. Rome 2018. First 5 will be Italy, Bulgaria, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal.

    • Finally. They were the only delegation not to book a hotel in Kyiv or to attend the mandatory head of delegation meeting in mid-March (where, over the course of a day, all heads of delegation are called one by one in alphabetical order to formally submit a folder containing the studio version of their song, their staging plans, a list of delegation members etc) so the EBU knew from then on that they had no interest in participating, they just wanted to leave the door open for them. Quite why the EBU then behaved towards Ukraine the way it did is another matter.

      In that Russian withdrawal statement, as much as I hate to admit it, they have a point regarding “Ukraine’s attempt to politicize the contest” – by no means in relation to Yuliya but certainly in relation to 1944 (and Razom nas bahato). But they don’t get off the hook for “closer to the Krim a step at a time […] our love will last a thousand miles” either…

    • Hippo

      I’ve seen a lot of people thinking this will push Bulgaria much higher. Very optimistic in my opinion. Relies on enough commentators in enough countries mentioning his background, enough of the diaspora caring and actually viewing him as a Russian. Marginal effect if any.

      • What else would there be to say about him though?

      • Chris Bellis

        I have just been to buy vodka in my local Polski Sklep and they are playing the Bulgarian entry. The punters seem pretty enthusiastic about it. The Polski Sklep caters for all Central and Eastern European people living round here (Lincolnshire) and despite the history, they are remarkably pro-Russian. This one will get the diaspora vote for obvious reasons: non- threatening decent lad with a good song who was born in Moscow of parents from former USSR countries. After all, it didn’t do Alexander Rybak any harm. Ignore this one at your peril.

        • Boki

          This is a bit confusing. You are buying vodka in a Polish store where you hear KK’s song and meet enthusiastic punters. All Eastern European’s who buy things there are pro-Russian and therefore will vote for KK instead for their own. Russian diaspora will also vote for KK since he was born there instead of being pissed off because their motherland is banned.

          • Chris Bellis

            Hi Boki
            It’s kind of meant to be a joke. I get my vodka from Waitrose.
            Seriously, please don’t think the East European diaspora are anti Russian. It’s strange how things change when people move to this country. As an example I used to work in North London with Turkish and Greek Cypriots. In North London they were big pals – spoke the same language, similar culture etc. So people from countries that were at war with each other, once they were in UK, find they have quite a lot in common. I know this sounds a bit wet, but all the Eastern European diaspora stick together. Just go in any Polski Sklep – mostly Polish, yes, but also Russian, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Romanian, and all the rest. I know I’m rambling on, but KK has an appeal across the EE diaspora, and it’s because he’s the kid brother/son/boyfriend they’ve all got in former USSR countries. At home they are all falling out, but here they stick together.

          • So the Bulgarian song wasn’t on the in-store radio w sklepie?

          • Boki

            No it was Waitrose where he met the punters.
            Seriously, I didn’t say that EE diaspora are anti Russian (neither I think that), just think that they only vote for their own as George says below.

          • I don’t think he met anyone.

        • George

          I predict Bulgaria will benefit from Russian diaspora in the same way Azerbaijan has benefited from Turkish diaspora, i.e. not at all – because people vote for their home country to do well on the scoreboard, not because they like the ethnicity of the performer.

          Bulgaria likely will do well in Eastern Europe (and beyond) because it’s a good song, but it would have done just as well even if Russia was in.

          Any extra points it could pick up from Russia not participating will probably be cancelled out by them also not voting, anyhow.

          • Chris Bellis

            George – I have to stop taking the p*** so I’m being serious here – I think you are right that Russia’s exit won’t make that much difference, but I don’t think Azerbaijan/Turkey is comparable with Russia/former USSR countries. It’s a paradox, but former USSR countries don’t have the hostility to Russia that people in the West think they have. I travel a lot in former USSR countries and it’s easy to find pro-Russian sentiment. In fact I would say it’s harder to find anti-Russian sentiment. Obviously in Baltic states it depends whether you talk to ethnic Russians or not. Quite easy to find anti EU sentiment because for most ordinary people in Bulgaria, Hungary etc, the EU hasn’t really delivered. They don’t want to go back to the oppressive years of the USSR, but there exists a lingering respect, even affection, for the Russians. I firmly believe this will translate into extra votes for BG. Whether it will be enough is another matter.
            By the way, only Waitrose, out of all the supermarkets in Lincoln, does NOT have a special area for Eastern European products. That’s because it caters for people with more money than sense.

    • No matter whose side you take, Russia wins. There is NO love love peace peace solution. That’s what’s so evilly ingenious about this whole thing.

      Before you even get to the travel ban, you’ve got the provocative irony of sending the most unbooable singer imaginable, with another cynical, bland and not even very good peace ballad, to a contest hosted in a country they illegally invaded. This, following a Eurovision where Russia threw everything they had at both the contest and the betting markets and Ukraine came out on top with a song about something horrible Russia did once.

      Russia’s made the EBU its stooge here. The EBU has put genuine pressure on Ukraine at the highest governmental level, blackmailing them with their international reputation and threatening to cancel their entire EBU membership, all on Russia’s behalf.

      So either Ukraine bows to this and lets Samoilova in, compromising their own laws and looking weak in the process – or Russia are forced out, while confirming Samoilova as their 2018 entrant, who now has a massive narrative handed to her on a 24 carat gold platter and is only a good enough song away from next year’s glass microphone.

      Now Ukraine are the ones who will spend all this money on putting the show on, despite the astounding lack of cohesion and efficiency in doing so, only to be probably kicked out by the EBU for the forseeable future.

      The EBU has carried out Russia’s revenge for them. Both Ukraine, the EBU and the contest brand have been had. All to satisfy the Kremlin’s ego.

      You can try and brush it all aside and just try to say Julia Samoilova independently is an inspiration, but I don’t think she is at all. Not if she’s allowing her own disability to be used as a tool in a brutal propaganda war and creating the fake impression that Putin’s Russia is a progressive nation that wins things. What sort of example is that setting?

      Let’s just hope someone’s got the guts to send this in next year:

      • APLAUZI

        Meanwhile, in all the international news coverage that Russia knew they’d get, only the Kremlin-owned/funded media organisations made a big thing out of her disability (this screencap is just one example but says it all: Then at the same time, you have a tiny minority of well-intentioned too-woke-to-function Westerners getting performatively offended and trying to shut down legitimate discussion of Russia’s motives and endgame by accusing anyone stating the obvious fact that Yuliya was being used of denying her agency (less out of genuine concern for Yuliya than to try and center themselves as the fandom’s moral authority and make another issue all about them) – despite the fact a) someone’s agency and their instrumentalization are unrelated: people being used by regimes in this way in sporting and other events can span the full spectrum from actively resistant/being used against their will to actively complicit/in on the whole thing, with the largest group probably falling in the middle somewhere between apolitical ignorance and reluctant/passive acceptance because they just want to do their sport or sing b) there were several comments by disabled eurofans on sites like Wiwibloggs who if anything were even more outspoken about Yuliya being used than the general fanbase, and who also took to task the site’s silly PR pieces and vlogs insisting that Russia’s entrant was a fabulous unicorn gurl no h8rz pls

        That John Oliver song is of course an English-language subversion of the original, sincere A Man Like Putin – which purely as a choon and example of hybrid-regime kitsch is my problematic fave:

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        There’s also the irony of Russia setting up a wheelchair-bound entrant (a Russian citizen) so as to capture victim-status and thus by extension for Russia itself, given that Russia athletes were banned from competing in last year’s Paralympics in Rio.

        Again, Russia can claim that Russian citizens with impairments are being banned from competing in international events.

        It’s depressing to read that Social Justice Warriors, so blinded by their own narcissism, solipsism and exhibitionism, are focused solely on the issue of Yuliya’s agency being denied. It may be time for Social Justice Warrior-ism, in certain individual cases, to be classified as an untreatable personality disorder.

        No disrespect intended to Yuliya, here. She’s a performer with impairments in a country where I would imagine there are more obstacles to success for her than there would be in other countries.

        She was handed what would have seemed like a golden ticket to success, to international exposure, to a once-in-lifetime platform. She will have worked and strove v hard to make it, and suddenly here came her big break.

        Only a fool would turn that down.

        And only a very, very courageous person indeed would make a stand against Vladimir Putin, inside (or outside) Putin’s Russia.

      • James Martin

        You’ve nailed it. The ugly truth is that we are almost certainly Moscow bound in two year’s time.

  • James Martin

    The EBU have confirmed Russia’s withdrawal.

  • I am entirely disappointed about the withdrawal of Russia in this year’s contest. It makes me angry too.

    However, given the current state of geopolitical affairs, I’m not surprised this happens. Actually, if you look back in Eurovision history, it reminds me a bit of 1969/1970, when Franco-Spain was going to organize the contest. It had a short-time effect on the contest, as there were quite a few boycots in Madrid. Especially from a large string of conductors. The year after in Amsterdam the contest got even more severely boycotted, thus only 12 countries participated.

    It stinks, it sucks, but sadly geopolitical conflicts are reflected in many other -what appear to be- non-political events, like football, the Olympics and Eurovision. Remember the absence of Russian athletes in Rio? Or what to think of the attack on Borussia Dortmund players. And now Eurovision. It’s the sad sad truth of today’s world. So it’s time for a Eurovision song that reflected a more positive spirit in Europe :-(.

    Almost three decades ago, this won for Italy:

    • James Martin

      Also the worst host ever. Made Mel Gediroyc look like Petra Mede.

      • Chris Bellis

        James – you are being far too nice to Mel Gedroyc. I think the word for her is “egregious”. Or just crap.

        • To be fair, she’s significantly better on the semis coverage than Sara Cox was, who didn’t have a FUCKING CLUE what she was doing.

          Ana Matronic was the best of Scott’s sidekicks…. but I wish, just wish, they would let Scott commentate on his own out-of-vision and just run with the world feed. You don’t need two commentators for Eurovision on an English-language service. If the gorilla comes in and RAI insist on delivering the entire 2018 show in Italian again, then yes. Then, it might warrant it as nobody will have a fucking clue what’s going on.

          • Chris Bellis

            James – good point. Of all the European broadcasters, the ones who won’t use English are either French or Italian. I’m ok in both languages, but many people aren’t. The laugh is, when you are in Italy, most of the people in the hospitality industry are anything but Italian, and most prefer to communicate in English. BTW, if italy win it, let’s hope they choose a Northern city to host next year’s contest.

    • eurovicious

      Russia never had any intention of competing, that’s why the song was just a placeholder, they just wanted to sow as much chaos as possible and make Ukraine look bad while making it look like they were forced out.

      Now if Russia would withdraw from Ukraine as well as Eurovision that’d be dandy thanks.

      • Chris Bellis

        In the interests of balance, and because I have Serbian friends who take the side of Russia, Crimea was a part of Russia until 1954 when it was transferred to Ukraine, more as an administrative move than anything else, as it was then all part of USSR. Crimea is mostly ethnic Russian. Don’t get me wrong – I have spent a fair bit of time in Russia and it is a gangster run hell-hole, imo. The same also can be said of Ukraine, whichever Mafia group happens to be running it currently. Ditto Bulgaria and a few other ex-USSR countries too. While we are having a go at Russia, take a look at Belarus and Azerbaijan, which make Russia look like a democratic paradise.

  • Okay, back to the discussion about the scoring chances of all 42 entries, now Russia is out :-).

    As you know, is releasing the annual EuroJury results. The EuroJury mostly consists of ex-Eurovision and ex-JuniorEurovision participants’.

    So far, 11 countries have casted their votes. And the results look like this:

    • Chris Bellis

      Am I reading this right? Austria is doing that well?

      • Well, apparently yes. These are the TOP 10 results after 14 countries voted. Armenia had quite a big jury, consisting of 5 people (mostly ex-Eurovision participants):
        – 39 points: AUSTRALIA
        – 38 points: BELGIUM
        – 33 points: THE NETHERLANDS
        – 32 points: AUSTRIA
        – 27 points: ITALY
        – 25 points: FRANCE
        – 25 points: BULGARIA
        – 21 points: SWITZERLAND
        – 16 points: MALTA
        – 15 points: DENMARK

        In comparison, these were last year’s TOP 11 EuroJury results (when all 43 countries had voted):
        – 284 points: AUSTRALIA
        – 179 points: SWEDEN
        – 179 points: FRANCE
        – 146 points: RUSSIA
        – 144 points: BELGIUM
        – 135 points: SPAIN
        – 120 points: UKRAINE
        – 107 points: THE NETHERLANDS
        – 095 points: MALTA
        – 086 points: UNITED KINGDOM
        – 085 points: ITALY

        And compared with the 100% official jury results from the 2016 Eurovision final. Also TOP 11:
        – 320 points: AUSTRALIA
        – 211 points: UKRAINE
        – 148 points: FRANCE
        – 137 points: MALTA
        – 130 points: RUSSIA
        – 130 points: BELGIUM
        – 127 points: BULGARIA
        – 124 points: ISRAEL
        – 122 points: SWEDEN
        – 115 points: ARMENIA
        – 114 points: THE NETHERLANDS

    • PurpleKylie

      That’s not the full picture, so far they’re only revealing scores 1-8 as a preview, we’ll know the top scores at the end of the month

      • I know that :-). Hence I have a version from last year with the 10’s and 12’s excluded:

        • Milton

          A bit misleading posting the above without the caveat that it excludes 10s and 12s SFW. Lucky that Kylie was on hand to point this out! To me the partial results seem about as useful as a football league table featuring only draws and losses.

          I have had a look at the individual results from the various countries, and for the record there are 16 countries that have awarded Italy zero, 10 or 12 points and 10 countries that have done likewise for Oz. I’m prepared to believe that the great majority of these 16 countries have awarded Italy 10 or 12, and as such I imagine they will be there or thereabouts when the full results are released on Saturday.

          For those who haven’t looked into this the ‘jury’ for most countries comprises just one or two people. Out of the 25 juries 10 comprise one individual, 10 comprises 2 individuals and the other 5 comprise 3 or more. The majority of these jurors seem to be failed contestants of national finals or even national heats.

          Its all ok for a bit of fun, but as a means of getting any meaningful predictive data I wouldn’t want to rely on it – especially when the info we have access to at the moment has the most important figures stripped out. Judging by the fact that Australia has shortened considerably in all markets since the above post, it looks like others might be betting on the basis of it.

          • Mind you, I am careful with this as well. Hence why I clearly post in my Excel-sheets the nr of people in each national jury of EuroVoix-EuroJury.

            I fully agree with you though, and I pointed this out to some of the posters in here whom I chat with occasionally on Facebook: Australia may be in nr. 1, but since so many 8’s have been filled out now, there isn’t much space left for 10’s and 12’s.

            And indeed, I think there’s a fairly good chance that Australia will sink more on Saturday and Italy comes on top.

            Also, I merely use these sheets to discover some trend lines, not to suddenly massively trade over it. Yet, if you already do very well now, without the 10’s and 12’s, there’s a smaller chance you’re going to be outside of the TOP 10 in this jury.

            So, no black-and-Whites with me…..lots of nuance and ‘greys’ ;-). Here’s the score sheet so far after 26 (of 43?) countries have voted:

          • By the way, failed contestants or not…..they are being asked to Judge the songs in detail. It’s a more extensive job than push a ‘vote’ button in one of those numerous fan polls. So yes, it’s not good to rely entirely on it. But to discover a bit how the minds of jurors work, you can at least rely a tiny bit on how jurors work.

  • Chris Bellis

    Thanks for that, SFW. Interesting that Australia is above Bulgaria. Betting odds would give us the opposite view.

    • I Always thought that Australia is more accessible than Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s song has a way too slow start I think. I know there’s a little promotion hype going on around Bulgaria. And Gavin from ESCtips shows that a bit too. But again, such hypes need to be taken with a grain of salt. Also, Australia’s first real live performance connced me too.

      • Chris Bellis

        Some of the comments this year remind me of things I said last year. I had seen early versions of Dani Im when she was out of tune. She certainly nailed that on the night. I have no worries re Australia this year. BG – more difficult. On form he is captivating. We’ll have to wait for rehearsals and all will become clear….

    • Australian seems assured and professional. Bulgarian seems inconsistent, eyes closed a lot of the time, and much too young looking. (I also prefer the Australian song).

      Continuing from the diaspora discussion – I do think Bulgaria will benefit from the Russian diaspora. He is after all the Russian contestant this year. And I don’t agree with George about Azerbaijan, I think they benefit massively from the Turkish diaspora, especially in the absence of Turkey.

      • Chris Bellis

        I guess too, Henry, that the departure of one or more of the other Central and Eastern European countries after the semi-finals might make a difference, with the diaspora looking for a replacement. I can’t see KK not qualifying, but some of the others are more borderline.

  • My fears regarding Belgium seem to become reality :-(. This live performance of ‘City Lights’, sang by Blanche, just doesn’t do it for me:

    It’s a simple choreography, slightly reminiscent of Belgium 2013, with only two extra backings/dancers. But this makes a dynamic song look lacklustre, because the choreography literally destroys all that dynamic.

    And then there’s Blanche. If she keeps standing still like that, if she continues performing like this, like if she doesn’t care, then this song needs the mercy of jurors to go through the final. It can probably squeeze into the final. But based on this any chance of winning…or for that sake a spot in the TOP 10….are gone.

    • Hahaha I was literally just going to post this. It’s, if not a total train wreck, pretty close. It’s not performed with any conviction.

      • wef

        Wow, and not in a good way. I’m shocked.

        How can this be?

        You get a really good song and then you do this to it. Makes you think that they selected the performer and then the song, which is fine if you’ve picked a good live performer but they haven’t.

        Time to top up on UK Top 10 me thinks.

    • Hippo

      Yeah saw this last night. As always I’ve been reluctant to overreact to the preview events but that is pretty dire. If it is performed the same it won’t go through. The problem is 100% Blanche. The choreography is crap but they don’t have much to work with on these shows. Like you say she’s not even getting the first things right in the performance.
      I’ve kept giving her a chance to improve but I can no longer justify that.

      • Afraid I agree. Her face performing the song is my face watching Mrs Brown’s Boys.

        If I had to call the top 5 right now, assuming it stays this bad, I’d say Australia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal. No Belgium.

      • Loic had a lot to work with during his live performance in The Voice. And he made sure, as if he was his own Hans Pannecoucke, that the act was already more or less finished:

        Or this live performance late March 2014 during Dancing With The Stars Austria:

        One simply has to look very well what the acts have done so far. And a bit of insider’s knowledge is important too. The above performances, especially the Austrian one, made me react instantly on Betfair. At that moment I thought “Ufff, Austria will……win!”

        And then you have this performance of ‘City Lights’…….and then you know that’s pretty dire.

        It will now be interesting to see which of the two Benelux countries will do better: Belgium or Netherlands. And I have made my bet…

        • This acoustic performance from last night is significantly better:

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I wish she would try playing with it. There’s still a thudding heaviness to it all that’s keeping it dragged down. There’s room for playfulness with the expression. Perhaps she is beginning to explore.

          Isiah’s video performance of his song also shares this detached introverted gloominess. One-note imagination; and / or one-note expression.

          There seems an over-representation of moody, gloomy song performances this year?

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Just rewatching now, and I see I’ve been unfair with my commentary. She’s brought a questioning tone to her performance. A troubled recognition. a very intriguing flash of passionate resolve; a fragile hopefulness and a touch of yearning. Vastly improved, nuanced performance.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Been reflecting on why I was so quick to dismiss (maybe incorrectly – everything’s still to play for) the above entry to be a contender.

            I’ve mentioned previously that I find Blanche lacks both facial and tonal variety while delivering in the lower register:


            In this new, live stripped-back performance I think the story her face impressively relates is the key to the performance improvement, but that her tone remains fairly heavy. I suspect that the heaviness to which I refer is in part due to her accent when singing English language lyrics.

            Similar issues are more obviously apparent in Agnese’s introductory vocals on Line:


            (An added issue for Agnese is highlighted by the losing struggle to find a live version of Agnese performing this unfinished-sounding song where she is in tune!)

            My idea of a technically gifted performer and performance is this lady, here:


  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I notice the comment frequency on this v popular forum site seems to have slowed to a trickle the last couple of days. This feels odd, given that the final stretch to the big event is coming into view. Is the explanation for this to be that there’s a (reluctant) acceptance beginning to settle that the short priced favourite is indeed probably going to validate that status? Or is it a lull in activity that just happens from time to time, without necessarily needing a specific cause to be (erroneously) attributed?

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