Eurovision 2018: Netta Barzilai’s ‘Toy’ and other recent selections

When Netta Barzilai dropped her ‘Toy‘, all hell broke loose in the outright market and our comments section. There’s actually light and shade in the Israeli song, and as Eurovicious pointed out, a useful 30-second intro that welcomes us to the looper. But the danger with televoters is an initial reaction of ‘WTF’ based on the clucking. Still, if you think the viral reaction is big now, imagine what might follow after the Tuesday semi-final, which could help its cause with viewers.

Catchy and divisive, iconic and aggressive, a bigger problem may come from jurors who are able to weight each song from 1st to 26th. But this issue could be overstated given Netta brings something original, chart-worthy, recognisably her own and rooted in where she comes from (ergo, authentic). Viewing past performances on Israeli TV suggests she’ll be able to bring vocals and charisma to the party, but staging will have to ensure that credibility isn’t lost alongside the fun.

Do I think Israel can win? Yes. Do its current odds represent value? No. Still, as Tim B pointed out, we have another month of it being at the top or thereabouts of fan and OGAE polls. The only analogy I want to make with Francesco Gabbani last year (because each case is so different), is that one shouldn’t underestimate how low in the odds a pre-rehearsal favourite can go. The first day of run-throughs in Lisbon promises to be a belter.

It was quite the last weekend of national final season, because Norway’s Alexander Rybak with ‘That’s How You Write A Song‘ went from cringe-worthy in studio to stunningly sold on stage. It’s the kind of thing that can only work in the context of the contest, and even then, only with someone as knowingly shameless as Rybak. It’s getting televotes from all over, and while again it’s more divisive from a jury point-of-view, I expect plenty to admire his chutzpah too. Jurors are not averse to fun, so long as it’s well performed.

There were fewer tremors from Sweden, but that’s because the Melodifestivalen favourite duly obliged, allowing them to send another slick pop package with a good-looking young male protagonist. Benjamin Ingrosso’s ‘Dance You Off‘ is getting much the same criticism that Robin Bengtsson received last year, which boils down to a sense it’s style-over-substance. ‘I Can’t Go On’ had a bigger single hook, but I think this year’s effort makes up for it in other ways – among which, Benjamin looks completely at ease in the role. On this basis, I currently predict a similar result.

Early favourite Bulgaria got an initially negative reaction on release, but still hovers around the top six in the outright. To me, ‘Bones‘ feels like it’s all production and not much song – the elongated words in the chorus count as more lazy “whoa whoa whoas”, and it never really goes anywhere. You can also colour me sceptical about making vocal harmonies and an emotional connection work with five singers sharing the stage; Armenia 2015 failed with a friendlier-looking sextet. Still, it adds further intrigue to that first Sunday of rehearsals.

We also have Lithuania and Albania in this difficult early half of a strong first heat. I fear qualification may be beyond them, despite both songs having their merits and a fair few allies. Ieva Zasimauskaite’s ‘When We’re Old‘ is sweet, but in a way that often fails to impact even the juries who are supposed to favour stripped-back ballads. Meanwhile, Eugent Bushpepa’s ‘Mall‘ has a strong frontman but no other particular reason for neutrals to get behind it.

For the second year running, FYROM give us something unexpectedly poptastic with Eye Cue’s ‘Lost and Found‘. Each of the two to three songs contained within it are very catchy, but if you’re going to switch tempo back-and-forth so suddenly, you have to be Girls Aloud to get away with it (‘Biology’ springs to mind). I won’t get my hopes up given the nation’s Eurovision record, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

That leaves us with two more songs to discuss, and there’s no starker difference in conception than Russia and Georgia’s entries. You’d have thought in bringing back last year’s banned artist Yulia Samoylova that Russia would’ve made an effort, but we got ‘I Won’t Break‘ instead. Cynicism is the last thing that Georgia can be accused of in giving us Iriao’s ‘For You‘. Even though it’s likely doomed, it adds extra variety in a bountiful year of genres.

Do keep the discussion going below, with a gentle reminder that we’re all beautiful creatures and should treat each other as such.

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276 comments to Eurovision 2018: Netta Barzilai’s ‘Toy’ and other recent selections

  • M.

    Israel could be a televote bomb – Agree
    Israel is chart-worthy – Disagree

    It’s super fun and funny to watch, so it could/will go viral on platforms like YouTube. But topping the charts? Will people really listen to a chicken on the train or in their cars? Nope. Therefore i’m still not convinced at all about the juries, but I think every credible better won’t be super convinced on that point. Also don’t really get the Rybak craze, it’s just way too childish and cringe, surely for the juries.

    For me it’s a super open year. The only nice value I got is Holland at 45+, this is my main bet until now. I believe that you have to make trends in Eurovision, not follow them. This is a great example and for me is the Paradise City of Eurovision, and who doesn’t like Paradise City? 😉 He seems to have good views on what it takes to have a shot, and could be a great combination with Pannecoucke (like with The Common Linnets). Lots of doubts to consider ofcourse, but everything above 25 seems nice value to me… Fingers crossed they come up with a amazing staging concept, so everyone will be pulled into their tv’s, also if you don’t like the genre.

    I also got a bit on Sweden (@23), seems good value to at least not have red. You can’t count him out for a win at the juries, so he will have a shot for sure. Estonia has a lot to offer, so don’t have her red either. Picked up some value at the euro-bookies on Israel too, but not confident at all, so will wait what the rehearsals bring and lay.

    I surely won’t write off:
    – Netherlands
    – Estonia
    – Australia
    – Sweden
    – Belgium
    – Czech
    – Italy
    – Austria
    – Israel
    – Spain (far bottom of the list, but if they bring back the magic, just maybe)

    While in other years I just had a few names on this list. Think that is about it till rehearsals/news. Hope you and your crew (and other crews) will keep us up to date during the rehearsals 🙂

    • The Nefeilibata

      I totally don’t get the “Israel is a potential hit” argument, I mean have you listened to the charts in the last couple of years?! A lot of downbeat, minimalistic fare, and even the more ‘lively’ songs are just midtempo tropical house. Bruno Mars seems to be the current exception.

      Israel is more like what would’ve become a hit song in the late 90s alongside Aqua.

      • Showlad

        Mark my words following Semi 1 Israel will be massive on both itunes and spotify across much of Europe. Given these 2 mediums are key in today’s charts – then yes, this will be 1 very, very big hit. Not getting at all imho how this is not seen, but horses for courses, respect and all that;)

        • eurovicious

          I agree with The Nefeilibata’s comments about how insipid chart music is these days (I think a lot of it is driven by Spotify playlist algorithms – streaming counts towards the chart even if it’s background listening and the songs are being auto-selected). Tropical house is terrible. I don’t agree that Toy is anything like 90s bubblegum eurodance of the type popularised by Aqua, Toy-Box etc. Musically it’s very different. Toy is very eastern-sounding and more experimental, and aimed at adults; it doesn’t rely on the standard eurodance chord progressions or structure, and it’s more aggressive than it is kitsch. It’s not trying to be safe. So I echo the commenter on the previous thread who said that musically, there’s no real comparison between Toy and Beauty Never Lies (for instance).

          In the pro- or anti-Toy debate I’d much rather be pro. It’s incredibly standout and iconic in a weak year – it’s not Aqua, it’s not Bojana, it’s much greater than that and is its own thing. And I think France is a total red herring.

          I still don’t by any means have it as a surefire winner – I’m not sure it passes the “Ben’s mum test”, and I think Bulgaria’s promise of “cinematic staging” once again shouldn’t be underestimated. We know their entry has a “concept” but, while I’ve speculated, we still don’t know what it is. And we won’t until rehearsal – they’re explicitly holding back on doing a proper music video until after Eurovision. https://twitter.com/bg_eurovision/status/975105377950994439

  • Seattlesque

    The comparison between Equinox and Genealogy doesn’t really compute for me. The voices on “Bones” meld together effectively (at least in the studio), whereas even on the recording of “Face the Shadow,” the vocals sounded mismatched, particularly the operatic vocalist. The middle eight of that song gave us a very special kind of vocal car-crash that could not be mitigated even by the frantic leaf- and tree-blowing LED graphics in the background.

    Jarring vocal styles *can* work well—compare Thomas Dolby to his backing vocalist on “Hyperactive”—but it feels a risky endeavour for a live vocal. I don’t see that happening with Bulgaria 2018. Bones’s simpler vocal lines (which, yes, could feel a tad lazy if you’ve not already been sucked under the surface of the song by the bass and the deep synth jabs in the chorus) provide fewer opportunities to foul it up.

    Wishful thinking on my part?

    • The Nefeilibata

      I get what you mean, the Genealogy concept was a pretty nice one, but it kinda felt to me at least that the broadcaster was just happy to get whatever singer from whatever continent with little thought as to how they actually harmonise

      The Bulgarian team are not stupid, they’ve got a clear concept with this one and I think they would have put a lot of thought into making this work on stage and not just to put out kooky blurbs on social media

  • Dan

    Israel is another fanwank and gamblewank IMO. For three years in a row now, there are serious doubts about the jury appeal of the market leader. “Toy” is even less jury-friendly than Occidentali’s Karma. Juries will not take this seriously. I can’t see how a girl singing in chicken language can be high in their top. A top 10 seems more realistic, top 5 if they get the staging right. But victory ? No.

    No clear winner yet. But I think that SE or NL could win if nothing really stands out at the rehearsals. It’s the only two countries which can do well with the juries and the televote IMO.
    Still in the race : Australia, Belgium, Estonia, Bulgaria (with a great staging concept, could be very high)
    Could surprise : Italy, Spain, France

    • With you that France are the ones to watch. Juries and televoters both love a political heartstring tugger.

      The only thing about a French win is that TF2 would surely insist on the show being delivered almost entirely in French the following year. Not sure that’s a good step.

      • The Nefeilibata

        If France pull off the call to action in the final minute with everyone in the crowd waving their hands in unison like they have done in other live performances, that could be TV gold dust

  • Chris Bellis

    I’ve now played “Toy” to about thirty long suffering non Eurovision bubble friends and relatives. Not one of them can see it. I like the advice to wait until odds get even shorter, but I’ve already started “laying” it. the chicken theme again. I agree with your list Dan, but would add Portugal to the surprise list, if they get the staging right. You are probably right about Sweden, but I can’t bring myself to put money on it. If that’s the future of Eurovision, I despair.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I’ve already shown it to one of my non-bubble friends and her exact words were “dear god that was terrible”. I plan to expose more non-bubble friends to this year’s songs to get a better grasp of what could go down well.

      This same friend really likes Latvia, Bulgaria, Sweden and Italy. Her thoughts on Australia was “nice song, but she has a weak voice”, which was interesting because I thought she’d love it.

    • Petra Mede forever mwuhahahahahahaha

    • Showlad

      Hi Chris. Only played it to 2 non ESC fans I’m afraid. In stark contrast their collated fav was Israel followed by Czeck with Bel in 3rd.

      • Chris Bellis

        My non Eurovision sample nearly all went for Estonia and Holland. They like country rock and opera obviously, plus they loved the light up dress.

    • dicksbits

      I don’t think Sweden is the winner this year. Non esc-fan friends have said: “yeah not bad, but no cigar”

  • If “We Got Love” was the UK entry, it would be slated to high heaven.

    Discuss…

    • The Nefeilibata

      If Azerbaijan and Australia swapped songs, We Got Love would be slated to high heaven while X My Heart would be fawned over

      • eurovicious

        I’ve changed my mind and I agree. I relistened to both (only the second time hearing each) and found Azerbaijan as good as if not better than Australia. We Got Love loses energy halfway through somehow. X My Heart is effective.

    • Chris Bellis

      No need to discuss it. You are correct.

    • John

      I’m not sure this is right. We Got Love develops nicely and has an endearing vocal. Jessica is an engaging singer too. It’s anthemic and (until the last 30 seconds, avoids being repetitive).

      X My Heart has similar phonetic charms, but is slightly anemic and derivative. There’s a ceiling for how well this song can do.

      Ranked Oz, then Az, then Uk, looks about right.

  • Tim B

    I think Lithuania is qualifying. It’s in the Top 10 of the jury vote in that semi (remember Czech Republic ‘My Turn’ last year) and has some good friends to rely on. I would worry if it got the #2 slot though.

  • I have some serious problems with the current (average) TOP 5 in the betting odds (ISRAEL, ESTONIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, BELGIUM and BULGARIA). And that’s actually the construction of the song, or melody.

    Looking back at the past 10 Eurovision winners, which all but one were decided on a 50% jury and 50% televote, then the current TOP 5 in the betting odds really feels odd to me.

    SERBIA 2008: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. Chorus and verses together build to a rousing climax and inject various modulations. “Molitva” was and still is a passionate, memorable Balkan-ballad that truly brings about goosebumps. It was impactful thanks to a memorable singer with charisma and remarkable looks. So different from today’s attempts from the Balkan, Montenegro and Serbia.

    NORWAY 2009: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. Perhaps one of the happiest ‘sad’ mid-tempo melodies from the past 10 years. “Fairytale” was the first real monster victory since “Love Shine A Light”. It was loved by all regions in Europe. Alexander Rybak gave us a smashing performance thanks to his charisma and a true ‘fairytale’ stage act.

    GERMANY 2010: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. It doesn’t have a distinct climax, but choruses and verses are so cheekily happy, that it doesn’t really matter. Lena was that joyful little girl, perhaps the female equivalent of Rybak, that gave us the more up-tempo “Satellite”. Perhaps one of those songs that could have been from Lilly Allen’s playbook. It was up-tempo, fun, and Lena with her ‘zest for stage presence’ implanted this song strongly in the heads of many Europeans.

    AZERBAIJAN 2011: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. A clear mid- to slow tempo melody which builds around typical chorus and verses and a final bridge. Perhaps not the best song that turned into a victory. Yet the staging was exquisite and perhaps a future example for duets that were yet to come, like The Common Linnets. “Running Scared” emoted perfectly as well.

    SWEDEN 2012: Need I say more? THE example of a song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. I think “Euphoria” is a great ‘dance ballad’ with a rousing climax. It meanders perfectly between the chorus and verses. The act truly helped this topping the scoreboard, but the song simply was exquisite.

    DENMARK 2013: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. Perhaps a bit “Fairytale 2.0”, but it worked. A nice effective composition from Lise Cabble (Denmark 1995, 2011), with the necessary modulations from “low” to “high”. Sweet staging as well with the curtain of fireworks.

    AUSTRIA 2014: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. One of the more traditional ballads that could have been used as a backing track for a James Bond film (where did we hear that before?). It builds up strongly to –again- a rousing climax, greatly helped by belting vocals from Conchita. The camera direction combined with Conchita’s looks really made this the inevitable winner from the start.

    SWEDEN 2015: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. Happy dance/pop packed in an ingenious stage performance. But “Heroes” mostly was a great song with stunning moments for Mans’ rousing vocals during the climax parts. And obviously it was helped by Mans’ lovely charismatic looks,

    UKRAINE 2016: Perhaps in this list of winner the most difficult song that you can hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. 2016 was also quite an open year in which three countries, Ukraine, Russia and Australia, shared the favorite status several times during rehearsals. But despite scoring two runner-up places with both juries and televoters, Jamala gave us a visually engaging story on stage of one of the more difficult songs to date that won Eurovision. One of the most controversial stories in years. Despite its unique status among this list, it has this unique addictive beat, a vocal superb bridge, and a climax that is enhanced by stunning vocals, Jamala’s emotional gravita and an amazing LED-tree. “Calm After The Storm”, “1944” and “Amar Pelos Dois” showed us that the more ‘intellectual’ packages are also able to (almost) win.

    PORTUGAL 2017: A song that you can still hum after you’ve heard it for the first time. A cinematic masterpiece that slowly builds to a gentle climax. It’s a song that has a more typical alternation of chorus and verses, has this cute little bridge and then finalizes in a sea of calmness. Obviously this was helped by an utterly charismatic singer and wonderful staging.

    So there you have them. The last 10 winners of Eurovision. Each of them with some very unique USP’s, and truly standouts amidst a field of 37+ competitors. Each of them standouts in its own musical genre, and receiving almost equal acclaim among televoters and judges alike. And although I am always aware that past results are by no means warranty for another great result, countries like Israel, Estonia, Czech Republic, Belgium and Bulgaria to me that have that simple mid-tempo construction of a song (chrosus, verse, bridge, climax) that most of the previous 10 winners had.

    CZECH REPUBLIC to me still feels like a less catchy attempt of doing a Moldova 2017 (“Hey, Mama!”). And even Moldova 2017 only managed to get 3rd thanks by a smashing televote and a rather abysmal jury vote. I think its odds are way too short atm.

    ESTONIA is a personal favorite of mine. I just adore the mix of folk/celtic melodies with stunning impressive vocals. Just think of Albania 2012 and Latvia 2015. Also these entries were vocally ‘goosebumpy’ stunning, yet I can’t help feeling that the songs were not good enough to really battle for the victory. So I don’t see why Estonia could battle for the victory.

    BULGARIA to me is the most difficult attempt of the three Bulgarian entries in a row…..2016, 2017 and 2018. It has a magnificent, complex ‘sound’. Perhaps a bit similar to Azerbaijan 2017 and Armenia 2017 (“Skeletons” and “Fly With Me”). But its dark mood and probably dramatic staging slightly diminish its chances of scoring a TOP 3. A lower TOP 10 scoring (7th to 10th) seems more likely to me.

    BELGIUM then. Most people in here know that I’m quite a big James Bond fan here (Can’t wait to see what director Danny Boyle will do with Craig’s 5th and last outing as agent 007. “A Matter Of Time” is high on my playlist. It has a more chill-out build-up as opposed to, let’s say, “Rise Like A Phoenix”. But that is perhaps also its major pitfall. I can’t see Belgium winning because of the construction of the song, yet all other aspects of this package (Pannecoucke, a fantastic charismatic singer with stunning vocals) could secure a TOP 7 spot.

    Together with the fun yet completely ‘ridiculous’ melody of ISRAEL’s “Toy” I do think these two songs have the best chance to score very well among the TOP 5 of the betting odds. With Israel being my slight favorite to win. It’s fun, crazy and in all ways a better version of 2015’s “Golden Boy”. In fact, this is the kind of song that suits Israel best. It’s the kind of happiness Israel had a trademark on in the 1970’s to late 1990’s. And now this type of song has been contemporarily translated to today’s pop circus. It’s ‘upper’ than ‘up-tempo’, has a bit of a backstory, and gets alive thanks to a shockingly effective and charismatic singer. I reckon the Israeli’s know how to stage this.

    Yet, I’m not sold on this being the only potential winner. It could be a bit too divisive for both juries and televoters to fully win (Remember Norway and Latvia winning from Israel among juries in the 2015 semi-final).

    Having said that, I think we really need to have a good look at these FIVE countries that could potentially ‘damage’ the current odds by shortening massively based on first rehearsals. Those are perhaps also the entries that could more easily win bucket loads of televotes ánd jury-votes alike: AUSTRALIA, THE NETHERLANDS, LITHUANIA, NORWAY and SWEDEN.

    SWEDEN is IMO only relatively low in the betting odds, because most punters feel a bit tired of the Swedes doing so good at Eurovision, regardless of the songs being too ‘plastic’ and lacking some authenticity. That’s never a good reason to ignore the value of it all at the bookies. It’s still 3 mins of fun, slick entertainment.

    AUSTRALIA has a simple, rather cliché Eurovision anthem. Yet “We Got Love” does everything perfectly when looking at the song construction. To me Australia is again in the mix to do a TOP 3. And we know that the commonwealth-bro of the UK knows how to get the staging right.

    NETHERLANDS is for too many people too much rock within 3 min’s. Yet as a genre-song it’s way smarter composed when it’s compared to, let’s say, Cyprus 2016 (“Alter Ego”) and Georgia 2016’s “Midnight Gold”. It’s the most authentic, and simple constructed rock song in the contest ever, and will be greatly helped by simple staging prospects and the ‘Mans Zelmerlöw’ of rock: Mr Waylon.

    LITHUANIA I want to address as well. Many have Portugal and France as dark horses or sleepers. But to me “When We’re Old” clearly excels in that, more so that France and Portugal. The song is more simple, but also very easy-to-remember, and has a slight “Calm After The Storm”-vibe. Even the staging could have been executed by director Hans Pannecoucke.

    A special mention to NORWAY, because I think this little ‘prick’, the übercharismatic Mr Rybak, is doing it again. I am not going to bet on which Scandinavian country will do better this year: Norway or Sweden. Because both of them will be in the TOP 10 and I seriously don’t know which of these two countries will do better. Not sure if it can win though (I don’t think so), but visually it’s a standout.

    • John

      You mean we left out poor Dima Bilan? What a shame oh well.

      I’ve counted Sweden out of winning purely because it’s such a subdued, low key number. A cardboard cut-out grower. Not only that, Benjamin is an aloof, backlit figure who kind of disappears into the bright lights, save when he’s giving us brief, somewhat charismatic, somewhat cocky facetime. It’s not quite the Bieber-like antics of Eric Saade mind you. The whole package creates a memorable moment but unlike say Euphoria it doesn’t soar. It’s too cool to get excited, or to get excited about.

      I think Portugal and 1944 both put an end to hummability being an issue. To stand out, to create a moment, and not turn off the juries seems the three largest briefs to chase victory.

      Bulgaria – not impossible, but seems like Skeletons, too niche. Czech – has Sweden’s problem. Catchy, but too cool and not joyous enough. They have no staging form either. Belgium – forget it. A staccato delivery, singing about decay and ennui. Will be lucky to top 10. No televote magnet, this.

      Oz is tricky because it’s light and gets repetitive, but on singer, country and previous form I’d give it a top 10 spot.

      It’s between the Dutch and Israel for me at the moment. Topicality, catchiness and memorability give her an edge but if she disappoints then Waylon could take it on broad appeal. It indeed is one of the most conventionally adept rock songs ever. I think it recalls Lordi and that Norwegian glam rock one from 2005 for being quite the foot stomper. I’m stunned it isn’t shorter.

      And dammnit, they’re both due a good draw.

      • John

        Oh yeah, and the Rybak.

        Norway wouldn’t surprise me in Top 5 either. On the singer alone it’s a confident package, and that final minute is fun in a bun. Eurovision voters punish ‘too clever/arty songs’ much harder than ‘too simple pleasures’. The juries didn’t beat up the Russian grannies, they won’t beat up Rybak with a good stage show.

        • meridian_child

          What do the grannies have to do with Alexander Rybak?

          • Tim B

            Rybak is more of a Basim from Denmark, is he not? 9th place in 2014.

          • John

            Exactly. Rybak is way ahead of them. He is safe with the juries. They forgive a simple pleasure (like say an old fashioned song with naff lyrics) if the show is good fun. Like the grannies.

            It’s not miles off Basim, although I think this song has more natural ‘lifts’ for the televote.

          • Chris Bellis

            “What do the grannies have to do with Alexander Rybak?”
            All born in the USSR? All deliver the fun factor?

          • meridian_child

            This is the argumentation? Seriously?

            I think there a lot more differences between those 2 acts than similarities?!
            Grannies got 94 points from juries. I admit, it was more than I expected back then – on the other hand 94 points are rarely enough to do a lot of damage on the scoreboard.
            Do we know what made juries give points to Russia? Was it because it came for some from Mother Russia? Was it, because it was something so unexpected and they had to reward it? Was it, because most of us remember having a grandma and they let their emotions vote for it?

            We do not have detailled voting information for 2012, so we can’t go into a in-depth analysis. But I think it’s always very important to look at how strong the competition was an act had to compete against. If ‘La La Love’ got 85 jury points and ‘Be My Guest’ got 125, those points for the grannies suddenly don’t look that huge anymore.
            To me the 2018 songs look a lot more jury friendlier than the 2012 songs, making it harder to collect points. But maybe its only me thinking this.

            About Basim: I find it interesting you brought him up. If anyone wasn’t around here, Basim was considered as a contender in 2014 by a lot of people.
            Please read this article and see how many commenters agreed about Denmark:
            https://sofabet.com/2014/03/21/eurovision-2014-will-denmarks-cliche-love-song-win-enough-hearts/

            One quote from Daniel I want to state out is this one:
            “If I had to choose a song that is most likely to finish in the overall top ten, this would be it, and I’m not surprised plenty of people jumped on board each-way prices when the draw was revealed.”

            Yes.. in the end Basim got a 9th place with 74 points. But everyone who had a bet on him (I layed him for Top 10 at low odds) got extremely lucky there. 10th place also had 74 points, 11th and 12th place both had 72 points.
            Most people were sure he would get a strong televote. In the end he only got 43 points from televoters. It was the old point system, that saved him. With the current point system he would have been 15th (!!) place.

            One more thing. A screen from 03-19-2014:
            http://blog.prinz.de/grand-prix/files/Wettquoten-2014-20140319-0-Uhr.jpg
            Look at the betfair odds for both Basim and the Common Linnets 😀

          • John

            In that case the argument that Rybak will probably be fine with the juries is even stronger. Its a catchy and so far well presented entry and for me stands above gimmick entries that may struggle with juries. The grannies were an example of a classic gimmick entry but in a year with a strong winner and an open field for other top spots the juries didnt overly punish them. They likely won’t Mr Fairytale either.

        • Ande

          I’m very sceptical of Rybak’s Top 5 chanses and juries will definitely bury any hopes of winning. I see his charisma and graphics boosting him to the area around lower top 10.

      • seattlesque

        Skeletons was sunk by its staging, rather than the song, no?

        Yes, it was dark and mysterious, but when throw in a ladder, a horse’s head, and a room of blackboards, you end up in the unfortunate position of having to send explanatory statements to the press (http://wiwibloggs.com/2017/04/30/azerbaijan-edgy-dihaj-works-chalkboards-horse-head-first-rehearsal/), because mysterious just turned laughable.

        After last year’s “Beautiful Mess,” which was plenty of the former and none of the latter, I’m struggling to picture Bulgaria cocking up the staging of Bones. So the Skeletons link seems tenuous at best.

        Do we know who is choreographing this year? Another Sasha Jean-Baptiste production?

        • I disagree. I think Skeletons and Bones do have some similarities, in that in both cases a nothing song with no melody or hook is desperately trying to hide itself behind dark, mysterious and pseudo-edgy over-production to appear as the new I Feed You My Love/Rhythm Inside (obviously failing in both cases). Imo, Skeletons needed the OTT presentation, because without it it was risking to be exposed for what it really was: nothing. Just like Bones. It had to try to pretend it was artistic. It had to try to pretend being something it was not. It was its only emergency exit and opportunity to save whatever could be saved. And it worked. Some juries were indeed fooled by the ”credible” artsy presentation. However, the pv is harder to fool with such presentation shit, as they care mostly about the song and so 32 of Skeletons’ 42 pv points in the final came from 3 friendly countries. Also quite similar breakdown to LoveWave in 2016 actually, which managed to ”awaken” the Armenian diaspora, but had very little in terms of pv if you removed the high marks from the diaspora countries. Bones could be in a similar situation this year. Can’t see or hear anything that would make a neutral viewer pick up the phone here.

          • eurovicious

            I think it comes down to taste though. I really liked Skeletons as a song and played it over and over way before we saw the staging. But I always found I Feed You My Love underwhelming/nothingy.

          • Taste is you loving Skeletons and not liking IFYML, and vice-versa for me. Skeletons getting a pv of 10 when you remove the high marks from 2 friendly nations and 1 bought nation is a collective objective judgement of whether it’s a good song or not.

        • Chris Bellis

          Yes, can’t see BG cocking up the staging. Even a few years ago they were experimenting with led drumsticks etc., and they seem to have eventually got it right after a couple of years of relative failure. As always, the draw will make all the difference. I can easily see top 5. Some people here have under-estimated BG every year. I visit the country a lot, as I have friends who live there, and it’s very important for their self esteem to do well at Eurovision. It’s a gangster run hell-hole really, very like Russia, Belarus and Azerbaijan, so expect them to pull out all the stops. I hasten to say the people are nice, but their politicians leave a lot to be desired. With the fall of communism they got the worst of capitalism and lost the benefits of communism.

    • Tim B

      You have the same potential winners as me at this stage. I wouldn’t go as far as saying Lithuania or Norway could win though. For me it’s AUSTRALIA vs ISRAEL (at a push) vs SWEDEN (at a bigger push, but easily within the realms of possibility). But there’s no doubt in my mind that Australia ticks the most boxes in finding something with that crucial (Countdown conundrum) televote + jury combo. Great girl-next-door performer, a contemporary, relevant song which could do well outside of the contest and a delegation absolutely desperate to win.

      • Tim B

        NETHERLANDS I like a lot but I’ve gone cooler on it since Israel and Oz were released. The market isn’t sure it’s going to be in the TOP 10 anymore.

        • Songfestivalwerk

          Yeah true. But at this stage -no rehearsals, no pre-party performances anytime soon- some typical fan polls characteristics are sneaking into the betting odds as well. The only reason Netherlands is 9th and not higher, is because fans and betters alike are ‘fearful’ of the rock genre. And the only reason Israel is as short as it is now…….well,we do know why that is as well. It’s a fun radio track, but we hardly know if this comes across live as good as we see in the videoclip. It’s a tinyyyyy bit ‘fanwanky’ atm.

          • Martin F.

            Rock-fear can work both ways. I’m quite sure “Aina mun pitää” rode high for so long not only because of the band’s backstory, but also because there was an element of “this is completely alien to me so there must be something about it I’m missing” among the fan/betting community.

            By contrast, Willem’s 90s Bon Jovi hair rock shtick is nothing to be scared of. We know what it is, we know what it does.

      • Tim B

        Dr. Karl and Susan Kennedy to host the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf?

        …What do you mean I’m getting too carried away?!

      • eurovicious

        For me it’s Israel vs Bulgaria vs Australia. I’m with John on Sweden’s subdued nature (it’ll be very lucky to do as well as I Can’t Go On, and there’s no way it’s a winner song) and with Tim on Rybak being Basim/Yodel It 2.0.

  • oakie1979

    Molitva was in 2007…

  • Hippo

    Just my views on a few of the themes here.
    Sweden is a fair price in my book, it’s objectively great for jurors but subjectively doesn’t give anyone a great reason to vote for it. Benjamin is very close to douche category with his little head flicks and jacket hanging off him. Semi 2 is short on a standout entry however and even at this early stage I’d be surprised if this doesn’t top the jury vote in that heat.
    Norway could run them close for the semi win given Rybak’s ability to lift his song and as a bright spot of an actual fun entry.
    The Netherlands is the only other runner for the win in semi 2 in my view and even then may have to do a Jamala, coming second in both, given I’d guess he might have to take one for the show and go early in the running order.

    Australia ticks a lot of boxes but at the end of the day is completely unremarkable, baring some staging masterclass. Being Australia will help on the jury side, but hold it back on the televote. To be honest, I think we’re splitting hairs on what has more going for it out of this and Azerbaijan or even Finland or Cyprus from the uptempo “genericy” female numbers.
    Australia aren’t the only country trying to win and that’s ignoring the frequency of wins from countries where it “just happened” for lack of a better term.

    France- I don’t know if this stands out in a 26 song field upon first listen and as usual you really need to be cautious with fan polls loving a song in French. In terms of it’s message, I don’t think anyone cares enough
    for this to have an effect. It’s something the vast majority of voters have no experience of, and of course the message may not even be clear.

    Israel, I have reservations of its chances regardless, but in terms of it’s price there’s far too many uncertainties. It *could* go viral, ordinary viewers *might* like it as much as fans, staging, vote-ability, jury appeal. You do not make money betting on Eurovision taking odds of 3s on a song with so many question marks in the middle of march. It’s too open a year to ignore songs higher in the odds.

    • dicksbits

      I agree Sweden is going to stand out massively in that poor collection of songs in the second half of SF2

    • The Nefeilibata

      I honestly can’t see Oz getting triple digits in the televote, which given it’s expected jury swing will push it into top 10 but nowhere near top 3

    • Ande

      Be sure to evaluate the Swedish entry from the final run through. Benjamin smiles more and behaves less douchey in his final appearance while his semi final appearance had slightly worse camera angels, lighting and close-ups.

      Sweden will benefit from no LED Lisbon, having no relevant competitor in the “unthreatening male with current pop song”-category and the female competition (Israel excepted) having more audience overlap. Sweden’s competitors with the most similar target audiences (Czech and Norway) are more similar to each other than Sweden’s offering and have less modern, less jury friendly songs.

      Current prediction: Sweden in 3rd place
      Adequately priced in winners market but a cover bet is warranted as oddsare likely to tighten if Israel cools off.
      Still some value in top 4-10 markets.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Cyprus’s video must be a one of a kind in ESC history. It appears to feature a team of supermodels posing in an empty mansion, with multiple product placement shots of bunches of branded bananas, a nutrient pack and a pineapple.

  • fused

    I think what ‘Toy’ has in its favour is that it is very catchy, memorable and distinctive, and that has got to be a good thing in this kind of contest. But it is going to get a “WTF?!” reaction from a lot of people. As for whether it could be a chart hit, yes, I think it could be, but it would very much be a novelty hit (i.e the chicken clucking).

    The track is going to attact attention regardless, but even if it goes viral, the time from hype to backlash happens so quickly nowadays. Then again, maybe by the time it’s the final it will have all gone full circle again, to the backlash against the backlash.

    I don’t really agree with the ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ comparisons though. The problem with that song (imo) was that it was far too smug and pleased with itself, and the gorrilla didn’t really have anything to do with the song, so it just ended up being distracting. At least with ‘Toy’ all the chicken stuff is part of the song, and I don’t think it’s smug or pleased with itself. I suppose it could be read as being a bit obnoixous, but that’s not quite the same thing.

  • markovs

    I play Toy to all my friends, no video, to see the reaction. Some like it and some don’t but without exception they thought it was a novelty song and dismissed it well before the chorus kicked in. With that and Nettas aggressive look and attitude I can see some big negatives for a Saturday night audience for which the vast majority will not have seen or heard it before. It certainly could win and possibly by a landslide in a weak year, but the short price does not reflect it’s chances imho. I think it’s getting all the attention because there’s no other obvious candidate for favouritism

  • Andy

    Why greece odds do high i dont understand? İt can win very different song

  • markovs

    Greece is a lovely song but I don’t see it as competitive. Takes way too long to get going, doesn’t change much and likely to get forgotten in a 26 song final.

    • Dan

      I don’t think it’s gonna win either. But the song has a lot of potential IMO. With a good staging concept and a massive support from the greek diaspora, it could have a similar result as Armenia 2016.

    • John

      Greece is a wash of syllables. After the success of Portugal, and top 10s for Hungary and Italy I think people are less afraid of non-English entries, but its still important to communicate something in the 3 minutes afforded.

      Greece plods along for me and is about more or less as interesting as Utopian Land. Slightly more dramatic music but its no Armenia 2016. I cant see it top 10. IMO anyway.

  • If there are no LED screens this year but Sweden is the only country who brings its own then I think it will stand out from the rest. Question is aren’t people already bored of those LED screens anyway? We know people voted Russia #1 two years ago so the answer is probably no, people still like circus and fireworks. Right now, I don’t see any Jamalas or Salvadors, so I guess the circus and fireworks will win. But who is going to bring the best fireworks this year is an open question.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Not betting this year! But will still follow the comments and contest. Enjoyable.

    Over on eurovisionworld.com I’ve listened and listened again to the songs. Before checking the betting odds.

    Some thoughts:

    I wasn’t surprised to see Israel as the fap. Singer and song: indivisible. Funny, biting Katy Perry lyrics, old school Missy Elliot sounds and production. Punky pastel performer. I already know some of the lyrics, including, Wonder Woman, don’t you ever forget, you’re divine and he’s about to regret.

    Memorable line on the coat-tails of the Patty Jenkins directed Gal Gadot phenomenon and the whole Year of the Woman movement.

    But will it go the same way as Occidental Karma?

    Possible pitfall is that the crazily charismatic performer is a wee too aggressive. She might be divisive.

    I think the Albanian song is terrific. Forgive me, but I’d love to hear that with a few English lyrics woven in. Takes me back to the party scene. Plus, I really like the singer’s voice.

    Think my fave song is A Matter of Time. Songfestivalwerk! thoughts could speak for mine on the entry from Belgium. Gorgeous.

    Again, with Songfestivalwerk!, on the Czech offering. The Hey Mama influence is there. But it’s a catchy, bouncy number and I like the performer a lot.

    That sexy gritty hottie from the Netherlands knocks it out the ballpark and into outer space. Awesome! He has a laid back country voice, a Jon Bon Jovi voice and finishes you off with the Axl Rose sound. I don’t see why it can’t win. It can do very well with the juries and the public. That guy can belt it out and sing. What a blast! This from someone who generally doesn’t like that genre.

    I sort of really like the Polish entry but suspect it is cheesy rubbish. I wish the whole thing concentrated only on the be-hatted keyboard player. I suspect that the Polish production team lack confidence in the lead singer.

    Spain is lovely and believable. Love’s young dream. Their voices come together nicely. Remember the singers more than the song. Can’t remember the song much.

    Sweden: guy is trying to sound like JT. Video is trying to ape the look and feel of an early MJ video. They seriously need to do something with that off the shoulder leather jacket look. As well as making the performer look like an over-stylised prick, it can’t be helping his comfort and movement. Who knows why there’s what looks like chains or something hanging off it. The part were he lets that jacket monstrosity drop to half mast before trying to give smouldering sexy over the shoulder looks to camera genuinely had me crying with laughter. Happens from about a minute and a half in if anyone wants to check that out. Needs work.

    Would fancy Norway to beat Sweden, take a look at the respective performers. Am thinking back I suppose to last year re the Bulgarian lad versus the Aussie lad.

  • Nevena

    Hello, this is my first and probably the last post since I’m not betting at all. I’m a straight female eurovision lover from Serbia with many gay friends and one of them gave me a link to this site so I can share my thoughts about Netta. I presume most of you here are males so here is my female view.

    About the song: it’s original, creative, energetic – something like this we didn’t have on eurovision yet. Netta plays with her voice so easily, with or without that machine and makes impression of a serious artist. I liked it on a first listen and see similar reactions from many people (also from non-eurovision fans). I also expect juries to support its originality, creativity, energy and powerful voice. Chicken sounds and moves have a potential to become epic like Gangnam style which looked silly in the beginning. People love when a song goes with distinguishing moves which can get through all generations. There is a cohesion between music, lyrics, Netta’s strong personality and song presentation, it’s a unique and strong package.

    About the message: This song came just in the right moment when the world is waking up and its message could come through. Best thing is that there is no traumatic confession or something like that – on the contrary, message comes through in a irresistible funny way. To be able to express something so serious in such funny and catchy way is a work of art. It hits the target and finds the easier path to the listeners, with words like Pikachu and smartphone which make immediate connection with 21st century listeners. I heard an argument that Netta does not look good – well most of the women are not perfect and I expect it’s easier to identify yourself with Netta then with a beauty for example like Polina Gagarina. Netta and her dancers look current with cool styling and moves – I really like that dancers are asexual and independent.

    This song is a sort of female “The Internationale” (popular left-wing/socialist anthem). Song that awakens, leads and offers support, but in this case also unexpectedly entertains. Don’t underestimate the message behind it – I am a realistic person who accepts that my looks is below average but that didn’t stop my ex boss to try to misuse his position with a consequence that I needed to change my job few years ago. I expect that women will unite around Netta and that “female power” will win – because we are all wonder women 🙂

    Thank you for reading and sorry for my English, xoxo.

    • Hi Nevena and welcome to sofabet. It’s very nice of you to say sorry for your English because it is quite poor to say the least. Keep working on it 🙂

      Jokes aside, you give only pros and no cons so you must be a fan of “Toy” and there’s nothing wrong with that. I kinda enjoy it too. Anyway, many of us here are trying to weigh both positives and negatives of the song. When it comes to Netta, I can say this. We know how Eurovision public treats most fierce women but what about a fierce woman who is also trying to be funny? For me Netta is exactly that, although I’m not so sure about her funny side. Do we have examples humorous performances of women in Eurovision? I can’t remember. At least we don’t have any that won Eurovision, And, no Conchita doesn’t count as humorous for me. Well, maybe… I don’t know.

    • eurovicious

      (He’s being sarcastic – he means your English is amazing!)

      Hvala puno for the fantastic comment, Nevena. I totally agree that “to be able to express something so serious in such funny and catchy way is a work of art”. The fact there’s no “traumatic confession” and the song doesn’t present Netta as a victim is a big part of what makes it work.

      Israel is a justified favourite.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    That’s an interesting one GuildoHornForever: Who will do better of the Scandi’s? Sweden ór Norway? If a bet will be opened about that, I would seriously have no clue!! I just do. not. know. Will be a complete headscratcher. They could both fight for exactly the same placing on the scoreboard.

    To a lesser extend the fight of the ‘Beneluxies’ will be quite an exciting one. Will Netherlands or Belgium end higher on Saturday evening’s scoreboard?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I’m biased against the Swedish entries at Eurovision. It’s the slickly, groaningly familiar Brand Sweden – I know it’s the Swedish entry within 10 seconds, within a graphic flash. That wasn’t meant to sound rude!

    In a contest where the now-for-something-completely-different often triumphs it’s a probably limiting strategy to burden an entry with a strong sense of immediately feeling derivative of other songs and packages; the other songs.being your country’s previous entries.

    Sweden is the Status Quo of Eurovision!

    The ‘Now for something completely different’ contention I christen as the MPEW predictor, the Monty Python Eurovision Winner predictor.

    Looking again at Sweden I think I can spot the problem. ‘Dance You Off” is an attempt to coin a sexually suggestive phrase, and the performer has obviously been instructed to sell the whispered sexual angle. But he looks like a young kid who has raided an adult biker’s wardrobe and is wearing a jacket too big for him and practising at being MJ.

    The last minute picks up a bit as he’s let off the leash a bit, and allowed to bounce around a bit and hit the camera with a boy-band face-look of yearning. This seems to be much more his thing.

    The other problem is that he can’t seem to sing very well.

    Extra thought: they could be dog leads attached to his jacket, which the production team use to yank him into position.

    I’ve rewatched the Israeli contender and the potential problem for Netta and Toy is that its mockery and name-calling feels a bit mean. Is Toy tackling sexism in a way which itself is sexist?

    This could affect the preferential jury vote system? Unless the male jury members bury any misgivings out of a felt pressure to go with the flow of the zeitgeist and be a brother to the sisterhood.

    Are each individual jury member’s rankings knowable? To the public? To other jury members?

    The whole thing is MTV ready-to-go. At the video’s end I half expect a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift video to be on next. For sheer inventiveness and daring, nothing in the contest gets near it.

    And the construction of that Wonder Woman line is killer.

    On first second-by-second hearing I (briefly) thought she was delivering shrewd pop-culture bubble advice to the Wonder Woman character, rather than to all women listening. The set-up is a very cute way of suggesting to female listeners that they are all Gal Gadot.

    Neat as well as Gal Gadot is Israeli.

    Who knows: maybe Gal Gadot will rock up at rehearsals?

    • markovs

      Are the vast majority of first time listeners on a Saturday night going to pick up on any subtle message in Toy? Or are they going to see an aggressive female berating men and doing chicken noises?? Genius or gimmick? Will the ‘year if the woman’ overcome the annoyance factor? If it does, then this annihilates the public vote. Juries will feel obliged to vote high for this due to its current feel and the fact they have to be seen to be pro women at this current time. If the staging is good and she tones down the aggression and gets the humour over then this wins by a mile

    • Chris Bellis

      I think you are right about Sweden. Michael Jackson wannabe. But it will be very well produced, so top 10.
      Last year people were ranking Australia with Bulgaria, expecting a very near placing. Bulgaria won that battle on staging and a better song. The same will happen this year, I have no doubt, unless it gets a terrible draw.
      As I said earlier I am with others on the Israeli entry. Far too short a price. I made the mistake last year of going with Italy, on the basis that I could understand the song in the original language, so knew what it was about. To most people voting on the night it was just this Italian bloke dancing with a gorilla. On the night of Israel’s song it will not be understood by most of the audience, If Italy got a WTF from most people last year, then Israel will get a WTF times ten.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Yes, Sweden always seem to rise somewhere towards the top.

        Further thoughts on Toy:

        It’s plugged into a movement that is growing and growing. Netta is aggressive and in your face, but female aggression is “allowed” nowadays and almost expected and encouraged.

        Pre #metoo, Ronda Rousey was the face of an industry. Dana White once famously stated that women would never fight in the UFC, join the UFC. I forget who but someone memorably described the expression in the Octagon Ronda gave her opponent as being as though her opponent had just run over Rousey’s dog.

        Moving forward in time, Mildred Hayes is a celebrated character whose violence isn’t questioned, is actually sort of celebrated.

        Men and women have an equal right to be openly aggressive, both have an equal right to vent and express in that way.

        Netta isn’t approaching anywhere near those levels of aggression or offering violence: that Ronda and Mildred expressed and executed.

        But, what I think irks me about the lyrics and performance is that she appears to be goading.

        Is she goading, encouraging violence?

        If on the street, someone was calling someone else a “stupid boy” while walking up their face and making chicken noises and mimicking a chicken at that person, would the provoker be attacked, or would the provoker be arrested?

        • beckettfitz

          I thought Eurovicious brought up the point that the “stupid boy” line was directed at men who treated women like toys, basically fuckboys.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            I haven’t read any of the commentary about this ESC season prior to this thread. What can I say? I’ve started here.

            The fuckgirl phenomenon is also alive and kicking. I know a girl who shags and then ghosts, another girl who likes casual sex. If you ask her why she doesn’t often create a relationship she says that most men don’t satisfy her. She’ll explain in the modern world having sex with someone is a mutually enjoyable activity and doesn’t mean you then have to get married! The romanticisation of sexual activity can feel like a secular religion. I think there is also an avoidance in society in acknowledging that sometimes people move quickly on from one person because of the quick realisation the sex wasn’t right. Some won’t make compromises over bedroom issues.

            The late 60s free love movement is an alternative point of view.

            Still, nothing excuses the amount of callous fuckers there are in the world. Yes.

            All the same, what is with the goading ‘chicken’ business?

            If a guy doesn’t find Netta to be a beautiful creature does that make him a chicken?

            If a guy dates Netta, has sex with her, then doesn’t want to go any further, does that make him a chicken?

            If the song is a response to fuckboys does this explain the wedding bells reference and why Netta seems to be wearing what kind of looks like a wedding dress at one point? Feels like there’s a contradiction there to be teased out.

            As I concluded on the upper post:

            Is she goading, encouraging violence?

            If on the street, someone was calling someone else a “stupid boy” while walking up their face and making chicken noises and mimicking a chicken at that person, would the provoker be attacked, or would the provoker be arrested?

            I’d add to that: even if she is goading and inciting violence, it doesn’t matter, she’ll get away with it.

            A) She’s an incredible performer, the song is awesome and the whole thing is a blast.

            B) It’s plugged into the #metoo movement.

            C) She’s a gifted comedic performer.

            D) Although she’s clearly spelling it out, she carefully not spelling it out.

            E) The Wonder Woman lines are the most carefully enunciated and solemnly delivered and emphasise more positive sentiments around which most women can identify.

            F) There’s a purposefully cartoonish feel to the performance, to the show.

        • eurovicious

          I don’t think the woman from Three Billboards (which I didn’t think was that good) is supposed to be celebrated. If she is being in some quarters, that’s somewhat concerning. But people celebrate male vigilantes all the time, from those Charles Bronson Death Wish films right back to Robin Hood and Janosik. People even treat Jack the Ripper as if it’s some jolly, enjoyably gruesome story as opposed to a serial murderer of vulnerable women. (There was a good sketch about this in the first series of Tracey Ullman’s Show on BBC.) I think the film does question her violence and I don’t think it ever justifies it or shows it as right – the film is a lot more open than it’s being read as. I think people misread the ending in particular. (SPOILER ALERT: In my reading, that’s when the cycle of violence stops because her and the closeted cop guy realize it’s time to let go and move on because violence isn’t productive.)

          In northern England I’ve seen a group of drunk women in their 40s start a fight with a totally innocent group of twentysomething rugby lads(!) in the Saturday night taxi rank over nothing at all. But any concern that Netta represents or encourages this type of behavior couldn’t be further from my mind. I think the fact Lady Gaga was depicting murdering people in three successive music videos (Paparazzi, Bad Romance, Telephone), and the fact this was presented as a kind of empowerment, is much more of an issue, but that’s coming up to a decade ago now – and not only did it not hamper her success, it was her most successful period.

          I don’t know whether most straight men have ever found themselves being treated like a “thing”, an object, a toy, of physical and visual utility only, by their partners, but I’m pretty sure most straight women and gay men who’ve ever dated have. So, what beckettfitz said.

          “Never was a man treated as a mind, as a glorious thing made up of stardust.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scold%27s_bridle

          • Chris Bellis

            Well, in the interests of balance, I’ve seen girls in Huddersfield peeing in the grids waiting for the last bus home, and making lewd and offensive remarks to anyone who looked (in their eyes) a bit on the gay side. Just as “empowered” as the men. I was once on a Sunday morning flight from Budapest (Jet2.com) and a group of Huddersfield men, ranging in age from 40s to 60s, thought it was amusing to taunt the steward (they thought he was gay, which he probably was) for the whole flight. They also regaled the aircraft with their exploits the previous night with Hungarian under-age (by UK laws) prostitutes. When they got off the plane in Manchester (having topped up their alcohol levels on the plane) they peed on the carpeted corridor right in front of children and families. I think there is bad behaviour from both men and women, and even though most of it is from heterosexual men, it’s not excusable when it’s from heterosexual women either. Just my two cents’ worth. I don’t think Netta comes anywhere close to being offensive. Just spend a night in Huddersfield. You’ll see offensive! Probably true in most towns in the UK on a Friday or Saturday night, but you mentioned the north, so that’s my example.

          • eurovicious

            See, people always trot out the Iraq war as the reason Europe hates us, but actually this is why. A lot of Europeans have observed behavior like this by Brits abroad, and there isn’t a single other nationality of tourist that behaves like that. They should have been ejected from the flight, preferably over Neusiedlersee.

            Great quote from an old Independent article on British stag parties in Latvia. “‘I always dreamed of going to England and I imagined that Englishmen would all be real gentlemen, like Sherlock Holmes,’ said Marika, 21, a student from Riga. ‘Then, they started coming to my city and I saw that they are little more than animals.'”

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Yeah, ev, I wasn’t completely taken by 3 Billboards either. Brilliant, iconic, flawed and a tonal hodgepodge with some badly misfiring characters.

            But Mildred Hayes wasn’t one of them. Frances McDormand nabbed the Golden Globe, SAG, the Bafta and the Oscar. Effectively, a clean sweep. Frances McDormand was as rewarded by the industry as much as an actress could be. Mildred Hayes and her actions sure were celebrated. And I personally had no qualms with her character. Her motivation was made explicit and felt palpable.

            The final scene’s ambiguity is the mark of the playwirght-director’s skill.

            It was about 15 years ago that Charlize Theron won her Oscar for playing a real life serial killer who murdered only men. Again, a thoroughly deserved Oscar, and a stunning and engaging film.

            I remember being outside a pub-club in the Midlands, a couple of years back. One lad, worse for wear, was being knocked back from entering by the bouncer. He started to goad the bouncer, making out he was going to punch him, and at one point tried to start mimicking a chicken (it wasn’t at first clear what he was trying to mimic). The bouncer kept stoic but within 30 seconds of that, and further provocation, he what looked like gut-punched the yob and then body slammed him onto the pavement.

            I don’t know what came of the incident, if anything, but as the bouncer obviously felt under imminent danger of being attacked, he might have well have been within his rights to respond the way he did.

            Am unsure of the relevance of your scold’s bridle wiki link.

            Would the device be suitable for today’s violence-provoking, trash-talking yobs?

          • eurovicious

            I was editing the comment to talk about how women have historically been silenced, with references to scold’s bridles and the Cage of Shame in Levoća etc., but decided to drop it for brevity/time/relevance reasons.

            I don’t find Netta to be goading in the video. By contrast I do think Katy Perry (for instance) regularly comes over as spiteful and a bully in her videos/performances.

            You’re a fellow of good taste – if you like Strong Female Characters of that type, I really recommend you watch some Krystyna Janda movies… Interrogation, Man Of Marble, Tatarak, Man Of Iron etc. She’s amazing.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Well, I don’t agree with censorship and some of what I’ve had published could be described as problematic, as they say.

            Yep, Katy Perry gets away with a lot of things. She’s funny and has great pair of boobs. Which is fair enough!

            My gripe with Netta goes back to my schooldays. I used to get badly bullied, didn’t have any friends, yada yada yada.

            I recall one lad who would try to provoke a response from me with that very same chicken impersonation, in front of his gang of sheep. It’s old-school, playground provocation.

            It’s a lose-lose situation for the receiver. You react: you get jumped on and beaten down by a group, or you’re reported as the violent aggressor to the teachers.

            Or as was my situation you do nothing and are reminded that you are powerless and no-one is going to help.

            I find the Netta song a wee cynical, a wee bandwagony and a wee mean.

            Plus, I still don’t understand the relevance of the chicken impression. I don’t follow the logic.

            More to the point, I suppose, I think people should be assured that most everyone understands what it means when someone targets with an aggressive chicken impression.

            And with her beatboxing skills, comedic ability and oval shape Netta is the ideal performer for that impression.

            Am shocked to say that I’ve never heard of Krystyna Janda. Oh! I see she was in Mephisto. I’ve had so many recommends to watch that. The poster and plot for Interrogation is reeling me in, too! Might start there.

            Back to the Toy video, I counted 5 different costumes for Netta. That stage show is going to be the one to watch.

          • beckettfitz

            Hmm, I wonder what both of you would make of Cardi B or Nicki Minaj.

            Then again sometimes I hear about how which Eurovision act is too “aggressive”. Like if Mikolas is too aggressive, obnoxious, too cool for school etc but if he happened to be American, well its par for the course. Its expected and its not unusual.

            I wonder with entries of Slovenia and Czech Republic, if the trend is slowly becoming more urban and less poppy.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            @eurovicious

            Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask.

            Re your scold’s bridle wiki link,

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scold%27s_bridle

            …and your mention of your pre-edited comment to me of how “women have been historically silenced”…

            What was the point you were going to make to me?

          • eurovicious

            I don’t know because I abandoned the train of thought while it was still gestating for relevance/brevity/time reasons, as mentioned above. I was probably going to say something (not in any way directed at you or indeed at anyone, just a general observation) about how male and female speech are interpreted differently, how gendered expectations play into whether we perceive strong personalities, even forcefulness or aggression, as a good or bad thing. The Eurovision fandom is overwhelmingly male (albeit gay male), and the Sofabet comment space is also overwhelmingly male, though it skews somewhat straighter than the overall fandom. Some people (mostly men) are perceiving Netta as belligerent and goading (I don’t) for the same reasons that others are perceiving her as sassy, fierce, dynamic etc. Gender plays a role in our expectations of how people should behave. Boorish men take pride of place in our culture, they’re normalised and venerated – would Family Guy ever have been a hit with a female Peter Griffin, would Top Gear have been a massive global success with 3 brattish, vulgar women instead of men? Why do UK talent-show audiences prefer female contestants to be demure, self-effacing and constantly surprised by their own success, rather than confident, composed and aware of their own talent? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43401524 I totally agree with Alexandra Burke and I do think the UK has a problem with confident women, which Netta obviously is. You only have to look at the fact that Misha B in X Factor 2011 got her highest televote the week she was softened and presented as a vulnerable victim, and her lowest televote the week she gave her fiercest, most badass performance.

            Apropos Netta and #metoo, sometimes women speaking out forcefully about a problem is seen not as evidence of a problem but as the problem itself. So the discussion is derailed from “Why do some men treat their sexual objects (female or male) as playthings, what is it about our culture that exacerbates this, and can we help change it?” to “Is this women articulating the problem in the form of a fun 3-minute pop song being too aggressive and outspoken?”

            It reminds me a lot of the chorus of comments (not so much on here, but in huge numbers elsewhere) in 2014 that Conchita should lose the beard. I found it interesting at the time because it absolutely wasn’t coming from a place of homophobia etc. (The homophobic backlash in Austria and elsewhere was comprised of people who simply didn’t want Conchita to take part.) But there was no homophobic intent to all the guys saying she should drop the beard – rather, it was coming from straight men who’ve grown up in a media ecosystem where they’re used to absolutely everything pandering to them and their sexuality, and are so inculcated to this that they feel confused and resentful on the rare occasions when something doesn’t play to their gaze – they feel personally affronted if a woman isn’t attractive, or has a beard, or is too aggressive, or whatever. I remember talking to an older straight male friend years ago who simply couldn’t understand why Lady Gaga was so successful when, as he put it, “she’s ugly, take away all the gimmicks and the make-up and she isn’t attractive”. He was so used to everything in society being primarily for the male gaze rather than the female (or gay male) one that he couldn’t get his head round the fact she was a megastar despite not presenting herself as a “babe”.

            Now responding to your comment in particular – I’m sorry to hear you experienced bullying at school and can sympathise with the fact that the chicken sounds obviously have an unpleasant childhood association for you. I don’t think, however, that the intent in the song is goading or in fact any insinuation about cowardice, a theme that doesn’t come up at all in the lyrics (which are more about male overeagerness, objectifying women and treating them as disposable). The songwriter has talked about how “Asian” pop music, and Netta’s interest in it, was an influence, and the obvious point of reference for me was the Rollin Wang song “Chick Chick”, a viral hit which Ben first sent to me in Dec 2014 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxzgwJ8tSE0). The clucking in Chick Chick also doesn’t have any goading aspect or intonations of cowardice as far as I’m aware.

            The inclusion of nonsense words and hooks that transcend the language barrier is also a technique used by songwriters to help songs become hits internationally. RedOne has talked about this in relation to Poker Face (“ma ma ma ma”) and Bad Romance (“ra ra, gaga, ooh la-la” etc.) – it’s a deliberate technique so that people can still sing along to a song and connect to a hook even if they don’t speak English. (It’s also something Eurovision has been notorious for.) The clucking is just an evolution of this. The accompanying dance acts as a simple visual hook anyone can join in with.

            Perhaps you should use Toy and Chick Chick as a kind of exposure and response prevention to see if you can teach your brain to deassociate the clucking from its traumatic associations…

  • markovs

    Given that the studio version is a borefest but that she lights up the stage and comes across well, does the 4.8 on offer for top 15 for Surie and UK look tempting for anyone? I saw her live in Brighton and she really sold the song so have had a little nibble at that.

    • Dan

      Not a chance IMO. Last year, Lucie Jones did well thanks to a great staging concept. I can’t see it happening again this year without LED screens to distract the viewers. It’s just going to be Surie and her filler song on stage. Bottom 5 is more likely.

    • The same creative director who did Lucie Jones is also doing SuRie, so I don’t think it’s completely out of the question.

    • Ande

      I’m sorry to say this markovs but even odds of 4.8 is not good enough for the UK. Eurovision betting has a cult following in the UK where brits often overestimate their own acts driving prices down in the process. You will get better value by looking for betting opportunities in UK bottom 5 or even last place.

      The UK has finished top 15 three times in 15 years and ‘Storm’ isn’t a standout song even by UK’s meager standards. I can’t even point out a single unique selling point and juries certainly wont go for it. Remembering UK’s crappy stagings of recent past gives me even more worry (last year was good but not amazing).

      • I don’t get all the hate for the UK, apart from some very butthurt fankwankers that still think Asanda should have won the ticket to Lisbon. It sounded awful in the hall, and when I got back to my hotel room and watched it back it sounded even worse – and I’d been drinking for 12 hours straight by this point (broadcast notwithstanding) remember…

        I called my dad from Euston station the day after EYD (That was an interesting trip back from Brighton) and he made an interesting point – “If this was Sweden’s song, or somewhere like that, it would probably win. Unfortunately, because it’s the UK’s song it won’t do that well.” Think the old man had a point – and he’s no ESC fan. He only watched it hoping to spot me.

        After many years of poo-pooing it I genuinely think I’ve had it wrong a long time – this isn’t a song contest, it’s a popularity contest. As I said upthread, if We Got Love was our song, nobody would give it a prayer.

        In terms of Brexit, I’m not saying I personally did this (I voted Leave and knew exactly what I was doing thanks very much) but how many times do we hear about how Europe hates us every May, for how long now? Is it any wonder Leave won when far more casual fans and the less-educated are genuinely buying that line?

        • The Nefeilibata

          Coming from an outsiders POV (not from the UK and didn’t watch the selection but I did see the live clip on YouTube), to me she’s much better than the song. The song even with the revamp is fifty shades of beige much like the German song was last year.

        • Victor

          HI, I never write here. I am from Barcelona and I have always loved UK music and I think you have the best music industry, singers, songs in the entire world. But unfortunately, I must say that all the latest UK entries are rubbish (you can say the same about Spain – the only entries I have loved in the last 20 years are Pastora Soler (the best ever) and Ruth Lorenzo). I always discuss with my friends how it is possible that a country that has soooooo many incredible singers, songs and songwriters always send rubbish entries for ESC. I don’t get it. Is it that the BBC does not want to win or what is it? Don’t get me wrong,as I say, most of the music in my iphone comes from the UK. I grew up with Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Eurythmics, The Smiths, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys and so many, What’s happened now? Apart from Dua Lipa, The XX and a few others, the UK music industry does not stand out as in the past IMO. In any case I wish you luck but the winner for me this year by a landslide is Netta.

          • eurovicious

            Hi Victor! Thanks for your comment. I think it’s because UK artists already have a global platform so don’t need Eurovision the way artists from smaller countries do. And big names and upcoming artists don’t want to be associated with the contest (viewed as tacky fun), as their credibility would be at stake with little to be gained – there’s no way someone like Adele or Ed Sheeran, or even a critically acclaimed indie act like The XX, would risk coming 9th behind an Abkhazian drag queen playing the mouthorgan. It’s like what Simon Cowell said about World Idol (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Idol), which saw Idol winners like Kelly Clarkson, Will Young and Guy Sebastian compete against each other – it made stars into losers.

  • Hippo

    Uk is a little odd in that there are signs it could do better than suggested but I can’t name one country that could make the final I wouldn’t back to beat the Uk. Everything else is more distinctive or has a stronger base televote.

    • Chris Bellis

      I was surprised it won Hippo. Every one here says it won on the performance on the night, so I’ll take people’s word for that. She does have credibility there on the basis of musical background and experience (why didn’t they give her a better song?) Maybe it will do better than we think, but I’m putting it bottom 10.

    • James

      What I generally do is single out the weakest automatic qualifier and have a flutter on that for last place. It’s only failed me once since 2014 (in Vienna when Austria got nul points but was saved by the tiebreak rule at the expense of another auto qualifier) and this year it’s the UK. Like you there’s not a single likely qualifier I can see being beaten by it.

  • I think the UK always need to be dealt with with caution on blogs like these. Because the British better has a rather big representation here. Hence it slightly affects the objectivity too ;-).

    Let’s not forget that the UK scored quite a decent 15th place last year, with an excellent 10th place with the juries.

    I think SuRie and her “Storm” could slightly improve on that. It’s not just a ‘pleasant’ song actually. It is a very sincere, positive anthem. “Storms don’t last forever….remember!” actually makes sense in the wake of all that negativity surrounding Brexit and Donald Trump.

    The UK’s Commonwealth-bro Australia in comparison sounds a bit too polished. Perhaps it also helps that SuRie is both vocally and visually a rather unique singer in the contest. Indeed, I heard the comparisons being drawn with Annie Lennox. But I also see that as a positive.

    Lastly, I let the song hear to a few of my female colleagues. One Catalan and one Swede. They loved it. So if the Brits can do a staging like last year than a placing between 8th and 11th is actually in reach (9th with juries, perhaps 15th with televoters).

    So “don’t give up!” overseas neighbours ;-).

  • Chris Bellis

    SFW Lucie was also a brilliant singer and the song was well staged. Last year there were more stand out songs, but I don’t see that having less competition helps when you are aiming for 10th at best. I just don’t see it. Bottom 10 is my bet. The problem is the song itself. Dated and formulaic.

  • markovs

    Just out of interest. Does anyone actually get Estonia? I have really tried but it seems like The Kings New Clothes to me. It’s just a woman screaming in tune?. Don’t get the Grande Amore comparisons as that was a powerful, uplifting song and this isn’t. Maybe Suus is a better comparison as that was awful too. Just because they can hit those notes doesn’t mean that they should, it’s a good song or that it’s nice to listen to? Certainly wouldn’t make a good winner imo. I’m sure the juries will lap it up because of the vocals but will the public like it? I just dont see it, especially at the prices??

    • I didn’t like Suus in studio version but when I saw it live I changed my mind completely. It was really really good. For me Suus is better than La Forza. Suus is good vocals + lots of emotion. La Forza is just good vocals.

      • Chris Bellis

        Markovs & Montell I agree with you both – it’s all show. In addition, operatic style songs don’t have a good history at Eurovision, apart from Grande Amore. However, my non Eurovision fan sample liked it, and said they would vote for it. I believe it was the light-up dress effect, the high quality singing, the looks of the singer (could she look any more like an operatic diva?) rather than the song itself. For my money it needs a stronger melody and a Nightwish (Tarja Turunen era) style treatment for it to be worth the current price.

        • Mr Wolf

          Well you guys are pretty funny or just plain deaf.
          Yes, since Elina’s vocals are highlighted, it’s harder to catch the depth of the melody, but that aside, “La Forza” as a song per se, has surely one of the most beautiful and stunning melodies in Eurovision this decade.
          Just listen the piano versions if your attention span is so weak, that it can’t catch vocals and melody at the same time.

          • James

            I must have heard it nearly a dozen times now spread out over a few months and I still can’t hum the chorus from memory.

  • markovs

    Both songs are hit the mute button for me. Credit to them that they can hit those notes but I’d rather they didnt. Skill in controlling a scream doesn’t make it a decent song imo.

  • Israel is drifting a little bit, Belgium shortening. In my opinion until rehearsals no country is a clear favorite. But come rehearsals and all hell will break loose.

  • Andy

    Belgium best song and it should win

  • markovs

    Belgium is another catchy bond theme. I’m actually like it but it’s Conchita without the message. Can see a safe top 10 but not a winner for me.

    Mr Wolf, I always have a laugh that when people don’t agree with someone’s own opinion they bring out the deaf comment. I’m sure I’ve done it myself.

    • Mr Wolf

      Well, not liking or liking Elina or “La Forza” is surely subjective opinion. But saying that the song itself doesn’t have emotion or melody is ignoring social reality (at least the one we Europeans live and perceive) and our cultural consciousness. If something represents what people have considered beautiful universally for a rather long time in our cultural history, then its not just a “matter of opinion”.
      Like we consider humans having at least some crucial universally acknowledged emotions (altho new studies rather recommend that there are no innate universal emotions, but we rather construct and design them by selves considering the physical and cultural reality).
      So if a person doesn’t ever feel compassion or joy and even doesn’t acknowledge these things exist and have positive meaning, we don’t consider it (at least at this point of history) to be a “matter of taste”, but we rather see those as mental defections and a deviation of “normality”.

      So yes, you can say that you don’t like the song and this type of emotions it represents personally, but you can’t deny that the song has emotions which we in our culture consciousness consider beautiful.

      • Chris Bellis

        Mr Wolf — I took you at your word and despite my deafness listened to several acoustic covers of the Estonian song. You are quite right to suggest that the way to tell a song has class is to listen to an acoustic cover played by an expert. The definitive one, imho, being “Despacito” covered by several famous concert pianists, all available on youtube. It has a captivating melody which translates. Thank you however for suggesting we listen to piano covers, because you set me off on a path of finding other acoustic covers of Eurovision 2018 songs. My favourites are various covers of the Bulgarian entry, and confirms I was right to put this in my top three. The acoustic version of “La Forza”, without the operatic voice and stage effects, is, as I said earlier, a bit Paul McCartney on a lazy day. OK, but not outstanding. Just my musical opinion. Whereas the covers of the Bulgarian song show that it has real class.

    • Chris Bellis

      I don’t remember you doing the deaf insult markovs. Anyway, Beethoven did his best work when he was deaf. Whatever Mr Wolf says, Estonia’s song isn’t even Andrew Lloyd-Webber, let alone Beethoven. Brilliant singer, well-staged, fairly routine melody. The sort of thing Paul McCartney ended up doing once he got too self-important to listen to his friends’ critiques. This doesn’t mean that on the day it won’t do very well. “Eurovision rewards originality” is a rare headline.

      • Mr Wolf

        Well, finally all that matters is the emotion what a melody evokes (if we are not judging from music critics perspective, but from people’s). So if a melody is original or routinal in “music sense”, doesn’t really matter. It’s still about how it makes us feel.
        So in this sense is “La Forza” still a masterpiece (however non-original the melody would be).

        • markovs

          Only in your world. It certainly does not evoke that emotion in me and melodically is by no means any sort of masterpiece. Many songs do spur emotional reactions in me but it ain’t La Forza. But good luck to you if it does

        • Chris Bellis

          Doesn’t quite do it for me, and I love opera. She’s a top class singer, and it will do very well I’m sure. She’s a major level above the usual “X-Factor” opera singers who are only there because they are not that good but can impress the audience that hardly ever listens to opera. Even a mediocre opera singer can sound great if it follows a performance by Josh Dubovie or the like. Elina is impressive by any standards. The song lets her down, imho.

          • markovs

            I agree. Totally unmemorable after multiple listens

          • zelenovi

            So I’m similarly conflicted: an obviously incredibly talented singer, with a nothing-burger of a song.

            That said, she has a few big things in her favour. One, I don’t think much of the popera comparisons are too useful as they’ve been so different – La Voix was very Scandinavian, Cezar looked like a novelty act, Suus was…unconventional. In terms of looking like “proper” opera, the way it’s “supposed to”, this is much more in the Il Volo tradition (though they were more votable I’d say). I think it’s mostly angling for the older, conservative vote, but plenty of them watch and vote.
            (BTW, for those predicting a culture-wars kind of two-horse race, Israel v Estonia is as plausible in my view as Israel v Netherlands).

            I do have an (untested) theory that this corresponds exactly to an idea of “high culture” that’s greatly respected in especially Eastern Europe, I’d say she’ll hoover up votes there and there should be enough coming from the West too. Add to that that it stands out a country mile among the pack, not the strongest year for the post-USSR, the obvious vocal quality… and of course Elina is super-telegenic.

            So not to be underestimated for top-5 I think. If she comes dead last, you have my full permission to laugh mercilessly at all the above.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        “Anyway, Beethoven did his best work when he was deaf.”

        Very good! 🙂

  • markovs

    Irrespective of what I think of it personally, I think it’s guaranteed a top 10 at the very least and probably higher. It has a strong USP and is jury fodder. It’s a consistent but average year so the ones which offer something different will stand out. Netherlands, Israel, Czech Rep and maybe Portugal also have this. There’s cheesy pop with Norway and the ‘usual’ ESC type songs in Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Sweden. There’s plenty on offer and picking the actual winner is very difficult. I still feel there’s big money to be made from some at bigger prices but getting the right ones is the conundrum. If Netta doesn’t grab it live, then I just have the sneaky feeling it could be Netherlands year.

  • Chris Bellis

    @zelenovi

    I expect a top 5 finish too, for the reasons you cite. What a pity they didn’t give her a better song. Mind you, that goes for SuRie as well, only she’ll be found at the other end of the board.

  • Hippo

    I’m going to need another longshot to back following Armenia’s revamp. I know no one has said much about this anyway but I was going to make a post on how Sevak could be a dark horse with Armenia being fairly reliable with staging, modern yet ethnic diaspora friendly song that could deliver emotion and a moment but it seems they’re going about it all the wrong way.
    They should have took a page out of the old Balkan staging, have the guy in white, bring the backing singers forward towards the end etc.
    Instead now they’ve cut the backing vocals and added in some cheap guitar whirring that could have been lifted from any festival i kenges song. He’ll probably wear that same body armour from the nf too.
    They should be going for emotion, empathy, optimism not power or pushing this closer to a rock ballad.
    Armenia have sent some great songs in the last few years but there’s an underlying aggression or intensity that has been undermining a lot of their efforts. It’s another example of countries making the same mistakes every year, like Fyr Macedonia’s stagings, Albania’s devamps and pretty much everything Ireland do.

    I usually always have something on a
    100-1+ shot in the outrights but saying it’s a fairly unpredictable year, I don’t think there’s anything being seriously overlooked as a winner. There are entries under and overpriced, but I’d be surprised if the top 5 isn’t full of the entries that for the most part we’ve identified.

    • markovs

      Germany and Portugal look the best at around the 100-1 shots and I just have a fondness that Moldova could spring a top 15 surprise at around 4s

      • Melisandre

        Agree with Germany and Portugal. I also think Lithuania have the potential to surprise.

      • Hippo

        Germany probably has the most potential but probably won’t be realised in my opinion. I also like Portugal for a left hand side too.
        Ukraine may be overlooked slightly. Voting power, excellent at staging and an easy semi to get through.

        • The Nefeilibata

          I feel like Ukraine is underrated here too in terms of top 10 prospects. Yes his diction is bad, but that can be fixed (and since when has bad diction stopped a song from doing well anyway?). He is also a strong performer for his age and has a visual USP. The stripped back middle eight could win some jury votes too.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      If looking for longshots I would consider using the NVV system!

      Last year, Hey Mamma! flew under the radar all season long, mainly I would suggest based on that seedy video where the front man came across as a kooky perv with a food preparation fetish.

      Thus be on the lookout for Naff Video Value opportunities!

      A naff video that comes to mind this season, as I write this, is the Cypriot one.

      I said elsewhere on this post:

      ‘Cyprus’s video must be a one of a kind in ESC history. It appears to feature a team of supermodels posing in an empty mansion, with multiple product placement shots of bunches of branded bananas, a nutrient pack and a pineapple.’

      I’d speculate that the process works on a reverse advertising principle: the palpable naffness makes you the viewer reject the presented product, you disassociate yourself from it, and thus your critical appreciation faculties shut down, meaning the resonance of a fabulous melody and other qualities never register with you. The embarrassing person actually transpired to house a lot of attractions under what was a transparent bonnet, all along, if you like.

      And on another listen, it indeed does boast a catchy tune. Nowt magnificent but a bit of a toe tapper and a head swayer. Aye.

      Mind, that singer will never shine with girl next door appeal. Step forward and to your side, Australia’s Jessica Mauboys to receive that title, I say. Cyprus’s Eleni is more your supermodel in a next county mansion kind of a girl, and with legs longer than the queue you face in Netto on a Saturday morning when doing your big shop.

      Just checked Eleni’s reputed height to see with raised eyebrows that’s she’s actually only about 5 foot 6 inches!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Ha! It’s finally clicked with me of which song Fuego is reminiscent.

      To remind yourself, play the first half minute or so of If Love was a Crime! Now listen to Fuego!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        While I’m freeflowing here, I’d also suggest an offshoot of the NVV system: the NLV system!

        Many examples easily come to mind to highlight the opportunities unearthed by applying the Naff Lyrics Value system!

        I remember back to Farid’s Hold Me from 2013 (finished 2nd) and Sanna’s Undo from 2014 (finished 3rd) or Polina’s A Million Voices from 2015 (finished 2nd).

        Over dramatic?; lacking grammatical or semantic sense?; mawkish?

        Two underpinning biases in operation here.

        People who communicate on blog sites such as this are communicating via the written or composed word.

        On a gambling community website such as here hardnosed objectivity as a tool of critical analysis is prized while fanwank romanticism is frowned upon as indulgent and potentially painfully costly.

        One song that comes to mind this season is Australia’s We Got Love.

        Yep, love, love, love as the answer or saviour to the problems of life as posed by the song sounds trite and unintellectual?

        For me, that Aussie lass’s smile sells it to me. She believes it, her body language believes it, her voice believes it (so why shouldn’t I?). Sometimes, that’s more than enough. Given the right performer.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Nipped back to discuss one more set of influencers that have come to mind.

          Over on Rob’s site, he draws notice to the potential value on offer for the Portuguese entry, optimized by reason that Portugal were last year’s Eurovision winners.

          I’ve read on this site, over the seasons, mentions of the belief that being a reigning ESC champion is at a disadvantage.

          If I may guess, the guiding tenet here is that as there are a vast amount of countries competing for the one annual prize then to reward the same country back to back honours would be akin to promoting greed and establishing privilege. Diversity extending to and exemplified by the winner’s list as a bubbling over subconscious impulse. A kind of ESC Socialism or wide distribution of wealth (prizes).

          Cited evidence of this factor is provided by reference to the length of time it’s been since there was a consecutive winner. 1994, when Ireland won again with Rock ‘N’ Roll Kids.

          The use of that evidence as an argument reminds me of the statistics used to advise against selecting consecutive lottery numbers. (N.B. I don’t “play” the lottery!)

          And ignores that Ireland won in 1994, 1993 and in 1992. Not only can a country win back to back title, they can win crown to crown to crown to complete a regal hat-trick.

          Maybe there is validity in believing that if a country has just won Eurovision then it cannot be considered overdue, that it should need to prove itself especially or extra worthy to secure a repeat. I can see that.

          But look at other international events. The Olympics. Or the World Cup. In what World Cup has the host nation’s odds taken a walk because that nation…has home advantage?

          The difficulty for Portugal this year is that the song choice and presentation is reminiscent of last year’s song and performance. One element in last year’s success story was that Portugal’s singer and song was derivative of nothing ever seen in the contest.

          Elsewhere on this post I’ve written:

          “I’m biased against the Swedish entries at Eurovision. It’s the slickly, groaningly familiar Brand Sweden – I know it’s the Swedish entry within 10 seconds, within a graphic flash. That wasn’t meant to sound rude!

          “In a contest where the now-for-something-completely-different often triumphs it’s a probably limiting strategy to burden an entry with a strong sense of immediately feeling derivative of other songs and packages; the other songs.being your country’s previous entries.

          “Sweden is the Status Quo of Eurovision!”

          Sweden as Brand Sweden, or BS. The Swedish Musical Industrial Complex.

          Yes, exposure to a Swedish ESC entry nearly immediately puts me in mind of previous Swedish entries.

          The same phenomenon happens with witnessing an Aussie ESC entry, TA time. Team Australia time.

          Put together the last ten Swedish ESC entries and you’ve more than a playlist, you’ve an album! Different guest artists but the same producer!

          The problem with this gratuitous repetition struck me most forcibly when contemplating the prospects Latvia’s 2016 contender.

          I was a huge fan, devotee, worshiper (!) of Animata in 2015 and her Love Injected masterpiece.

          She wrote the 2016 Latvian song and I did initially, tentatively, hopefully (!) think that fans of Animata would be inclined to foist excess unfinished love unto that 2016 Latvian entry.

          The song, a cracking one at that, reminded a little bit of Love Injected, the staging choices were also slightly reminiscent of Latvia’s 2015 presentation.

          The song wasn’t as good, the staging wasn’t as good, and the singer wasn’t as good. That leggy, coltish, itchy, constipated looking fellow often screeching from the discomfort of his low level medical conditions.

          Unsurprisingly, the thing tanked, finishing 15th. It suffered by comparison to its predecessor. It wasn’t it’s own thing.

          Although, Sweden and Australia both keep to entering contemporary chart-worthy songs sang in English, as they keep recording high finishing positions, to my mind Sweden is suffering from deleterious repetition.

          I suppose another reason for the underestimation of Moldova’s Hey Mamma’s chances last year, aside from the DV (Dodgy Video) factor, was that 2107 heralded the return of the SunStroke Project and Epic Sax Guy to the Eurovision stage. The fuss for which would be perceived as evidence of fan wank, returning artist bias, or RAB!

          But the 7 year gap helped. As did the fact that they came armed with a song that was leaps and bounds better. They only scored a very minor hit in 2010 and so were able to exceed expectations, rather than be negatively measured and defined by previous achievements.

          Looking at this season’s contest, I’m put in mind of Waylon and of Alexander Rybak.

          Especially as I happened to look at the Semi 2 draw yesterday, noticing that they had been drawn (or is that amusingly allocated) consecutively in the running order.

          If you believe that Alexander having already had his day on the throne is a negative for drawing votes, and that Waylon having finished close but no caviar is a Mo Farah style SPOTY positive for drawing votes: then advantage Waylon.

          But Alexander had his day in the sun back in 2009, whereas Waylon’s duel in the sun was only back in 2104: so maybe advantage Alexander there.

          But the memory gap is instantly bridged in Alexander’s performance as he immediately starts to pretend to play the violin! Waylon is again wearing a cowboy hat…and is again singing a country song!

          But I predict, for what it’s worth, there’s only one winner.

          Alexander is performing an inferior song to his celebrated one. How could he not be? it’s a knowing parody played for fun and laughs. And is great fun.

          Waylon changes it up by singing solo. Then proceeds to extraordinarily race through a whole host of unexpected gears to deliver a moody barnstorming performance that would give Axl Rose a run for his money!

          He not only surpasses expectations, he demolishes them.

          It’s like seeing a actor celebrated for one type of role, suddenly bang it out the ballpark in another type of role.

          For a cowboy role, maybe think Henry Fonda as Frank in Once Upon a Time in the West; or in a different way Sly Stallone in Creed; or in a different way again Tom Hanks winning back to back Oscars for his characters in Philadelphia and then Forrest Gump.

          There won’t be a flicker of suspicion crossing the Eurovision juries’s minds that perhaps Waylon belts out his song as he is unable to sing convincingly in a low, intimate register. They know he ain’t no one trick pony. He can be both the open romantic lead and the moody bad boy lead.

          Anyways, as I say, I’ve been freewheeling and freestyling my way through my thoughts, segways and leaps and am aware of, but haven’t analysed how different to each other Ireland’s glut of early to mid nineties winning entries were, or if Johnny Logan’s 2nd winning entry was substantially different to his 1st or whether it actually was a simply superior winner.

          Please feel free to pick holes and unravel the splurge of above as it’s as I’ve said: after last year’s Eurovision disaster I’m not putting my money where my mouth is this year!

          • Chris Bellis

            GHF- re last year’s “disaster”. It was nearly a disaster for me as I went with the Italy hype, despite my partner hating it and telling me Portugal was going to win. At the eleventh hour I saw sense and started laying Italy and betting on Portugal, so ended up with a small profit. There’s a lesson in that for those betting this year. I like Israel’s entry, but at nearly odds-on at this stage? When we haven’t even seen a proper live version? As I’ve said before, my bookie brother-in-law says that in a field of 40 odd, whether it’s horses or Eurovision, even a dead cert is never worth odds like that, so you know what you have to do. In a horse race you would at least know something of the form. Maybe horse racing is a bit more bent, but after the Azerbaijan debacle I’m not entirely sure. Anyway Israel=crazy odds.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            It was seeing the Netherland’s finishing position that made my body feel like a dead zone. 11th and but a handful of points from a Top 10. So close but so far.

            That I’d cashed out a ton of long range bets to bet on Portugal, which I had finally realised was a last minute EW steal…but then that I’d held fire…made things worse still.

            But there was more to come. If I told you about what would have happened with some of the bets I cashed out, you would understand the eventual compounded guttedness I felt.

            A disastrous chain of events.

            Now, back on another topic 🙂

            Another contender to consider as representing NVV (Naff Video Value) is Sweden!

            I’ve discussed my negative impressions of it in detail elsewhere on this post / thread.

            Yep, he drowns in his clothes, the darkness, the production and yet hey the kid is a good mover, is young, and when he is allowed to more do his own thing toward the stage show end, he comes across as likeable.

            I guess the production is designed to distract from the cool but plodding song and Benjamin’s at times ropey singing, but the poor production elements are easily improvable.

            Being able to properly see him would be a start!

            Austria’s Cesar is burdened with a video director’s strange concept for aiding the song storytelling. Some tacky shit about fragmentation vs wholeness, city vs nature, comfort vs primal nature.

            Which all detracts from a well sang song which feels Rag’n’Bone man gospel. Yet another NVV possibility.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            A couple of extra thoughts on Alexander Rybak.

            It will be amusing, watching Semi 2, as the returning Alexander takes to the stage, after the returning Waylon has just delivered his set.

            The running order decision amusement will be Alexander breaking down how to write a song, including lyrical advice, none of which features in the preceding song.

            All irrelevant, probably, as he’s charm itself and those boyish good looks shine as handsome as ever. He’s the Peter Pan of Eurovision who’s returned to play with his shadow.

  • Chris Bellis

    Just to add to my earlier comment, Elina is head and shoulders above the usual X-Factor style opera divas, but in the world of opera she has a lot of competition, possibly why she’s trying her hand at Eurovision.

    Compare Elina:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgd9qgZ8OE8

    with Anna Netrebko:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWP54oTImzw

    I love the way the song is about a girl’s milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard.

  • seattlesque

    Played the first 90 seconds of today’s top 10 with the bookies in alpha order (AUS, BEL, BUL, CZE, EST, FRA, ISR, NED, NOR, SWE) to 15 undergraduates in the USA (aged 18/19). They’ve been studying Eurovision and national identity in a course for the last 10 weeks. Their favourites were Israel (5), France (4), Estonia (2), then one vote each for Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, and Sweden.

    (When asked who they thought would win, rather than just who they would vote for, it switched to 10 for Israel, 5 for France.)

    Last year’s class voted Portugal as their own favourite (also in mid-March), so the class’s 100% track record has nowhere to go now but downhill…

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      That’s truly fascinating! Please: more info! Who needs the Big Poll 🙂

      If you don’t mind…

      Were they generally aware of the bookmaker odds beforehand?

      Does this class consist of the same undergraduates as last year’s class?

      What’s the gender breakdown?

      Any discussion on the love for Israel and for France?

      Do you think the lack of love among a group of Americans for the Netherlands entry is a very bad sign for its prospects; or did they view it as an unwelcome pastiche of American Old West culture / mythology?

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        By the way, I ask the question I have re the Netherlands because I like and am interested in its real chances.

        And also because I notice that the two entries (from ten) recorded in their respective native languages (that is the entries from France and Estonia) received six of the initial fifteen votes (results following on from last year’s class favourite being Amar Pelos Dois), which has me wondering if the class are more (determinedly) European than most actual Europeans, if you take my meaning.

        If so, I suppose the class’s love for Netta and Israel is even more significant.

        • seattlesque

          More info on the class for GHF and clarification for SFW.

          By “played,” I mean the promo videos, so the students did get to *see* the performers, albeit not as they’ll be on stage, which the students already know can be very different from the promos. (They’ve been studying these since January.)

          Different students from last year. They’re there because all first years have to complete a humanities course; they’re from all disciplines across the university, but only one is expecting to major in a humanities field.

          Gender: 8 F, 7 M.

          Earlier in the session – while they were doing a couple of other things – we had the recap of the 43 songs from the Eurovision YouTube channel playing, so they’d all heard a little of everything. (And some have been following this year’s contest more closely and are more familiar; their assignments, though, are on previous performances, so that’s been the main focus.)

          For the voting, I simply told them these were the current top 10 and played the songs in alphabetical order, so they wouldn’t be swayed by the odds.

          This was at the very end of the last class during Finals Week, so we didn’t get into a discussion so much on why they chose what they did. What did come up, though, is that (a) they don’t see Toy as a gimmick/novelty song; (b) they like the message of Mercy. I wouldn’t read anything into the lack of votes for Outlaw in ’em – they just preferred other songs.

          While I was playing the tracks to the group, I did notice a few things, though: engagement and smiles for Israel and Sweden; smiles and groans for Norway (and they know Rybak already); attentiveness and calm for Belgium and Bulgaria (though sadly no votes for the latter…); foot-tapping for the Netherlands; surprise at Estonia – but possibly more for the projection than the vocal. CZE got a mixed response in the recap video earlier, with comments like “I like the song, but not the performer.” I don’t recall anything else. (Sorry – it’s been a long term!)

          Last year’s group totally missed the appeal of Beautiful Mess; we just had the lyric video with the still shot of Kris Kostov, and they weren’t impressed at the time. A very different reaction from them once they saw it live.

          And importantly, as there are no bookies over here, all this speculation is … (long pause) … academic (ba dum chhh)…

          • no votes last year for Kristian and same this year for Equinox, yet you say it all came alive when they saw the song on the stage…..I wouldn’t mind guessing that there’ll be a repeat in 2018 of Bulgaria 2017…..

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Thank you, seattlesque for the detail behind the data 🙂 Sounds like the best humanities course ever!

            Interesting to hear that the class don’t see Toy as a gimmick/novelty song; it seems that title is destined for Rybak’s number. It is very funny to think of a chorus of knowing groans and smiles breaking out from among a group of teenage American undergraduates at the appearance on screen of Alexander Rybak pretending to play a violin! The return of Rybak. He will absolutely not stop. I’ll be Ryback!

            Hmmm. I’m not too surprised to hear of a mixed response about the CZE performer. I recently watched a couple of previous video of the former male model’s. He was clearly channeling his inner Eminem for his vocal delivery style on those songs (check out “Free” or “Believe” for an example). Fine line to tread between winning confidence and cockiness, I suppose.

            As most of the group liked the message of Mercy, I’m gathering the majority speak fairly fluent French?

            Personally, I don’t speak fairly fluent French, so while that that song’s hypnotic beat and melody did have me drifting away, I did start to wonder with bemusement at how many times the singer would repeat that title word!

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            “no votes last year for Kristian and same this year for Equinox”

            Last year there was a still shot to look at and a lyric video to read; this year there was an expensive-looking full video to watch.

            Less concerning is just one vote for the Netherlands, as I can imagine a bunch of reasons why an American undergraduate in a humanities class would be disinclined from voting as their favourite Eurovision song this year the perhaps most American sounding song in the contest’s history.

      • zelenovi

        @GHF:
        I would always expect the Dutch song to underperform in the US. What will sound as a relatively unusual sound for Eurovision (and different from the current European mainstream) is a genre that’s played daily on the radio over there and on top of that, is saddled with a whole bunch of polarising cultural associations (evangelicals, guns, conservatism) that a European public won’t have. I think over here it will just be seen as an infectious, charismatic, well-performed, kind of cheeky uptempo song.

        • seattlesque

          You could well be right on the country-music front, zelenovi. Here in the (progressive) Pacific Northwest, you don’t hear quite as much country as elsewhere in the US, and maybe those cultural associations come into play. I do wonder, too, whether some of them might think country music by Europeans is an oxymoron.

          GHF: Barely any of them speak French, but we watched and briefly discussed Mercy during a break in the class directly after the French final was held, and some of the students were drawn to the political message; for those that didn’t see it at the time, the video gets the message across reasonably well with the space blankets and life jackets.

        • Chris Bellis

          @zelenovi
          I think you are right. We also heard on this site a few years ago that Eastern Europeans would never vote for a country flavoured number, the same way people said that they wouldn’t vote for Conchita. I said at the time, just because Patriarch Kyrill doesn’t like it doesn’t mean the ordinary televoters won’t go for it. The irony being when I typed that comment I was sitting in a bar frequented by Bolshoi ballet stars (not the straightest of people), having been to a celebration of American country music during the day. Sometimes it pays not to believe the tabloids and work it out for yourself. The Dutch entry will do well, I’m sure.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          @zelenovi

          Excellent points.

          I was imagining a parallel inverse scenario. If I were a (mature!) student in a humanities class in England studying South American culture with a focus on a South American music contest, and I was asked to choose my favourite song from the contest, and one of the entries was a one-off modern take by a Peruvian-based ukulele-playing Hawaiian of an old George Formby number, no matter how much I liked it I would be reluctant to choose it as my favourite as I’d doubt this would be reflecting my attempted immersion into the rhythms and sounds of South America, and also a follow-up written piece would include little discussion about South America and more about Madeira, Hawaii, and the hardness of little sticks of Blackpool rock.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            @seattlesque

            Ah! They were already aware of the political context and message buoying the French song.

            Maybe, I’m a little slow but I didn’t twig it was relating the story of a baby refugee perilously drifting in a boat across the sea..

            While watching (the stage performance), i understood the song involved sea travel, from the clues of the video screens showing waves from a large stretch of water, the over-bobbing guitar player and the mirroring hypnotic to and fro of the amazing melody.

            The matching polo necked tight fit black outfits with matching red trainers struck me as a nod to some French 70s chic fashion statement, or that they were acting as narrators for something; or they were brother and sister.

            Mercy seemed to be acting as a pun near the end; or the performers both suddenly got very jolly.

            I’m waiting for the techno dance version!

        • eurovicious

          What zelenovi and Guildo said is also why the UK only gave Lena 4 points in 2010 (shit knock-off of Kate Nash) and likely also why seattlesque’s undergraduates didn’t go for Norway and Czech Republic (shit knock-offs of Bruno Mars/Justin Timberlake). Why would you like or vote for a second-rate foreign copy of a type of music native to your home country when you can access the real thing effortlessly?

    • zat

      My only concern with Israel is one I haven’t read here yet: We have seen surprisingly new, different, fresh and controversial performances before which won the contest. They were pulling the train (the ESC) into new territory, and the voters decided that it feels good to go there.
      Netta’s song, however, could be seen as trying to jump on a train which is already moving and making a lot of noise. But this train isn’t the ESC, it is another train, and the ESC would only be just another wagon attached to it.

      I’m not surprised students from an US humanities course would vote for it. The gender/equalty train is dominating the campus humanities departments. They might be a little bit biased.
      The lyrics of Toy could be written by a student/teacher of such a campus.

      But to be fair, Netta embodies its message and performs it in a likeable and authentic way. However, I still think she is reduced to a simplified version of herself, hammering home a very simplistic striking message. This could also be seen as trying too hard to be contemporary — again, jumping on a moving train instead of pulling the train.

      I have only read that it is an advantage to bring such a song in the year of #metoo.
      My argument is: this could also backfire.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I’m enjoying and appreciating your thought-stimulating conception of and descriptions of different experiences of travelling on a train to represent the pioneering ESC vehicle that may have the potential to successfully attract a swell of passengers enjoying the journey into a new frontier; versus the safer ESC locomotive chugging along a tried and tested narrow gauge track, attracting a similar stock of passengers on its semi successful, established route.

        I hope you don’t mind me picking up running with your superb metaphor!

        I recall commentators on this site have often lamented that just when they feel the enigma to ESC prediction is near to being cracked, an unprecedented winner parachutes onto that season’s winner’s podium, seemingly out of nowhere.

        As you nod to, part of the Eurovision grand unifying theory should be to expect the unexpected; furthermore to look for the unprecedented. Look for the apple among the uniformity of oranges, even if the apple is indigo coloured and doesn’t conform to expectations.

        To put it another way: actively seek the banana that is not “free from malformation or abnormal curvature.”

        Over on eurovisionworld.com, where I’ve watched and listened to this year’s videos and songs, there is a poll which asks for your vote on which is the best ESC winner of the last 10 years.

        Rolling with and broadening your vehicle analogy, Jamala and 1944 was a pioneering icebreaker, a ship gruellingly breaking new territory. Just prior to the reach of the winner’s list is Morija with Molitva, a vehicle which bravely charted difficult waters, while “life melts like ice.”

        Conchita with Rise Like a Pheonix is linkable to Israel’s Dana International, both glowing with diva glamour and attraction despite neither falling within conventional socio-cultural parameters of feminine beauty. They would be pioneering spacecraft, journeying to new definitions of what constitutes heavenly bodies. Not interested in the straight and narrow.

        Last year, Salvador with Amar Pelos Dois could maybe be likened to an Ivor the Engine experience. A nostalgic trip back in time to a nicer, warmer place along a loco, where a tender, beautiful journey was all, and the destination didn’t feature on any timetable. Lordi were the monster truck gods, crying Hallelujah as they crushed the daily commute traffic in their wake.

        It additionally strikes me that Amar Pelos Dois and Euphoria could be described as the best songs you’d never heard. Amar Pelos Dois was the most exquisite old fashioned love song you had never heard. Euphoria the most infectious dance track you’d never heard. You didn’t have to be a fan of the jazz waltz or electro pop to be swept away by them.

        Catch someone else saying, or yourself thinking, “That can’t win because of reason X” then you could be right there looking at, thinking of your surprise winner.

        This year, the Netherland’s Outlaw in ‘Em jumps out as a possible best song you’d never heard winner, but that can’t win for reason that a country rock song can’t win Eurovision. Norway and the Peter Pan of Eurovision, Alexander Rybak, perhaps bounces into the catchment area here, as one of the best novelty party songs you’d never heard but that can’t win for reason that a novelty party song can’t… At a far, far, extreme, out-there push, there is a related position of advocacy to be formed for the multi-genre complexity of the Macedonian entry.

        But this season’s epicentre of the multiple historical incidences of non-conformist winners vibrates in the Netta phenomenon.

        Thinking back over a winner’s list sparkling with unconventional winners such as Dana International, Marija, Conchita, Jamala (to an extent) and Salvador it seems there can be advantage in a person (a “person” as I am cautious here as to the connotations of “performer”) being an outsider. A real life outsider type.

        Marija and Jamala (and maybe Salvador, slightly) were outsiders who let you into their pain, certainly wore their vulnerability, invested it into their outpourings.

        Dana and Conchita were confident women, but women who society would not necessarily expect to be radiating beauty and power.

        Salvador was evidently beautiful within his private cocoon, with that angel’s voice, that delicately radiating aura, but was optically awkward-looking in his own skin, awkward-looking in his own suit. There was nothing macho to the eye or the ear about Salvador. A guy who taking the wrong turn at the wrong time could lead him into quick trouble. A first-to-be-mugged look.

        A conclusion from this batch of data and readings would be that the ESC can act as a popularity contest where the winner is often the kind of person who does not readily win anywhere else in mainstream societies. If you are the kind of person who is excluded, blackballed from a private club, (and who owns killer pipes!), chances are you have the potential to become a gold member of Eurovision’s transnational inner circle. Out of the margins forever, an outsider-to-hero / heroine epic journey narrative.

        Clearly Eurovision can act as an annual reunion for sexual and gender and image otherness validation / celebration.

        Apart from her performing genius, her excellent singing and beatboxing, and delivering the freshest most-immediate song in the contest, Netta has the advantage at Eurovision of not fitting the conventional beauty mould: an oval body shape, large head and it’s no conincidence, I think, that the still-shot of Netta that features on the ESC official video for Israel has her at her most manly-looking, facially.

        Clearly this doesn’t preclude her from being a “beautiful creature” (nor from being a charismatic, very funny and sexy creature, at that) but that opening self-confident lyric assertion of hers, and the song themes of female empowerment, helps make Netta the most likely contender there is in this year’s Eurovision to be perceived as the one who most challenges societal norms and expectations of feminine beauty.

        25 year old beat-boxing Netta doesn’t have to try to be contemporary: she is, and has the fresh cutting edge song and performance skills to reinforce that.

        True, Toy could be written by a teacher from a humanities course.

        But where and from whom is any #MeToo backlash coming?

        That backlash has been popularly defined as belonging to, and intellectually confined to, liberal second-wave feminists.

        As I say, after my betting disaster (Finalnd (which was a NQ) and the Netherlands (which finished 11th) were my largest bets by far) from last year’s Eurovision, this year I’m just playing round with impressions, analysis and formulating predictive theories (usually, though not this time, with snazzy acronyms).

        • zat

          That’s what you call a perfect life long answer, thank you very much!

          Guildo Horn Forever: “But where and from whom is any #MeToo backlash coming?”

          To clarify: I did not say people would dislike Netta (I read somewhere else that the message would be too aggressive. That’s not what I feel.) It’s something else.

          Imagine you have a walk with your children and you see an old lady carrying heavy bags. The children might see her too and have the idea of helping her, and they might be proud of that idea. But before they can react you say towards them: “C’mon, you lazy ones, help that old lady with her bags!” And suddenly your children become aggressive and don’t feel like helping at all. You took something away from them, the original impulse of helping, the joy of discovering that feeling. The pure emotion got spoiled because now they are only following an order.

          With “Toy” it is similar. In the year of #MeToo this song feels like you should vote for it because it is the right thing to do. But that could backfire. You could still feel sympathy for Netta, she feels genuine.
          But would people vote for her when they feel they should vote for her?
          You have described very eloquently how people can identify with the unconventional person. But in the past this was always connected with a pure emotion people could discover for themselves, defend, part with and vote for. They could feel proud voting for it.
          With “Toy” people would not really be proud to vote for it if they feel they should vote for it. The pure emotion feels spoiled.

          I still believe Netta can win. But if she doesn’t this would be my explanation what went wrong. Apart from that I expect Netta to become an international star after the ESC. She’s the real thing.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          The subtlety of style to your explanation has helped me understand better. You make great points. Much to consider.

          I reserve the highest possible praise for Netta, in that she seems to have the talent of a clown. Time will tell.

          Two of my very favourite comedy performers have clown-level talent. Melissa McCarthy and Catherine Tate.

          That throat clearance sound (among the spree of sounds) that Netta performs reminds me so of Catherine Tate’s Nan. Has me giggling early.

          Unlike the Occidental Karma from this time last year, Toy already fits snug within the Eurovision 3 minute length stipulation.

          Like OK, as best I recall, there are a number of different costumes worn by the lead in the Toy video. It depends…but the losses there in transitioning to a stage show might be tricky to minimise. Favourite costume is the decks DJ look and favourite character is the festival of memes creating yellow kimono wearing character.

          Must return to the Outsider ESC winner theory. I’m thinking of previous winners, insiders and outsiders, who put me in mind of Tarot cards, of their meanings.

          There could be distinctions to be drawn re outsider performers, outsider songs and outsider nations.

          2017’s Salvador, Amar Pelos Dois and one-neighbour Portugal form a synchronising triptych of outsider status, of relative smallness.

          2015’s Sweden, Mans and Heroes impose as an establishment power tricolour.

          Russia is a tricky one to place in one box or another; the UK less so.

          I’d tentatively suggest 1994’s trio of Ireland, Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids, and Paul & Charlie has a more polyphonic feel. And 1994 needs to be seen in the context pattern of the ’93 and ’92 winners.

          Empires rise and fall, as can the characterisations of what constitutes outsiders and insiders, and there can be a time lag re realisation.

          I tend to most often associate an outsider as being someone invisible, so perhaps the true outsiders in this year’s Eurovision are the ones you are unable to recall if you tried to name every act.

          Memorable, cool, counter-culture outsiders seem to be the upper tier of outsiders, to have onside.

    • Ande

      Have you tried this with live performances?

  • So those young American students didn’t give a single point to Czech Republic, Norway and Bulgaria. But uffffff guys, let’s not forget that Eurovision isn’t a listening contest. I let some of the entries hear to my South-Korean friend (they are getting their own Eurovision Asia Contest in October this year), and he said this about Israel: https://i.imgur.com/FtFFqhp.jpg.

    But in the end it’s all about the total stage package. Some songs only come alive on stage, so you could basically totally ignore their videoclips. While other videoclips already give away some details about the stage package. So you have to close your eyes, and predict how the song works on stage. Or watch some available live performances.

    Eurovision is not a radio contest. It’s a VISION Contest. We can’t see Conchita’s beard when we only hear the song. We weren’t immediately indulged in an ocean of atmospheric cuteness when we first heard “Amar Pelos Dois” on the radio.

    Knowing the finest bit of details regarding staging for each of the 43 songs gives you a better clue. I for instance think that Waylon is the ‘Mans Zelmerlow’ of rock ‘n roll. His songs come alive when he performs. This also goes for other charismatic performers like Alexander Rybak. And the Swedish package works because people ‘see’ the smart videoclip-esque staging, not because we only hear it. So listening gives you some clues, but only a few.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I’m not confident that Israel can pull off an effective staging for this. It’s a song that needs movement, if it’s just her with the looper it’ll be too static, if it’s her on the looper with some dancers it risks looking like Dustin The Turkey

      One entry which I have a really good gut feeling about coming alive on stage is Belgium

      • The problem I have with Belgium is as well how impactful this will be on stage.

        Let’s compare Belgium this year with Austria 2014 (Conchita) and Latvia 2015 (Aminata). Both examples of exquisite staging. Camera direction was brooding and evolving from a surprising “what is that??” into a fully risen phoenix. With Aminata it was just wonderful how the stage didn’t look empty thanks to a reddish wormhole-esque LED-projection, that made it look as if Aminata was wearing Magdalena’s halo. Add to that wonderful camera angles (especially the ones from above directed at her when she made the hand movements).

        It all worked, BUT thanks to some some songs that showcased impressive goosebump vocals and that had rousing bridges built into the composition.

        With Belgium I truly ask myself…if that can work. Vocally Sennek is impressive, but she also makes slightly weird ‘mouth movements’ that are a tiny bit offputting. I am not sure if she can become part of an impressive stage package. Personally, Belgium is very high on my playlist. I don’t mind the slightly ‘loungy’ concept of the melody/construction, nor do I mind the absence of a true rousing bridgee that showcases her vocals. But is it enough to propell her to the TOP 3 of this year’s contest? I’m not sure, and my gut feeling says “no”.

        Still, once in the final this could do a very very decent 7th or 8th or 9th place in the final.

        • Chris Bellis

          Everybody said the same about Belgium last year. How can she transfer that mysterious “Prisoner” vibe to the stage. Well she did, and I fully expect that this tear’s vibe will be transferred again this year. Belgium has been successful in this for a few years now.

        • zelenovi

          Hmmm. I just don’t see it for Belgium. I would like them to do well, and Rhythm Inside and City Lights were among my favourite songs in all of recent eurovision, but for me Sennek is an attempt to replicate those acts but with less charisma and less… edge. It doesn’t excite me the way those ones did. I’ve only watched it once or twice but I haven’t seen anything much to justify the top 10 expectations, personally.

          • seattlesque

            The worry for me with Belgium is that it takes so long to get to the first chorus, and that’s the moment where Sennek really grabs your attention. I’m hoping they’ll come up with some camera work to draw the audience in, à la Conchita, though obviously without the big reveal of a beard.
            A similar issue with Bulgaria, plus the dilemma of five singers to coordinate.

      • markovs

        Netherlands, Norway, Portugal all come alive on stage

  • dicksbits

    I think this is Israel’s to lose.. as Daniel says above in the article, it’ll be fascinating to see first rehearsals and see how these songs look on stage. ‘Toy’ is very catchy and well constructed. Worries about the clucking noise and over aggressive female are red herrings. Not a direct comparison but fans fretted about how no Eastern European countries would vote for Conchita, and she still won. I think the discussion should focus on might come 2-4th in the final. I think Mr Rybak is well placed for 4th or 5th.

    • Chris Bellis

      This fan didn’t fret about Conchita’s reception in Eastern Europe, having just had a drink in a bar right by the Bolshoi in Moscow, just after reading the various posts about it on sofabet. You don’t always have to believe the Daily Mail. Plenty of gay-friendly bars in Moscow and St Petersburg.
      Russia, and in fact most of the Orthodox world, has a complex attitude towards gays. However, unlike so many countries we seem happy to have dealings with, homosexuality is not illegal in any Eastern European country I know of, including Russia. I always thought that the Conchita v Eastern Europe thing was well over-hyped. As for Israel, if we were to believe Boris Johnson, what with Putin being supposedly as bad as Hitler, we would expect Russia to be against Israel’s entry. But that’s pure bollocks, just as the stuff about Conchita was.

    • The Nefeilibata

      “But people will love the gorilla”

      • Chris Bellis

        True, but I did admit to making a mistake on that one. Something that other people on this site should do from time to time. It never pays to put all your eggs in one basket when betting on something like Eurovision. Too many imponderables.You are right to raise it though. Israel has the same traction as Italy last year. We need to be wary.

    • Mark Dowd

      I’m not sure the cluckings and aggression are red herrings. The anti Conchita perception out East was a wrong call based on a misreading of attitudes among millions of people. The clucking and perceived aggression seem fairly integral to the DNA of the song. We won’t know until we see it staged, but I think there’s enough evidence out there on blogs, message boards and social media to suggest a good number of people find it alienating. Israel would do well to tone it down a few notches. But how you “de-cluck” successfully is another matter!

  • So.. remind me please. Why not Australia? All I’ve heard is “beige”.

    • The Nefeilibata

      Because compared to some of the other entries, it’s very “ordinary”, and the studio version has a lot of autotune which doesn’t inspire much confidence in the live vocal personally. The only people who seem to be declaring this the winner are people with confirmation bias towards Aussie entries.

  • markovs

    I think Australia this year could go either way. If it’s performed brilliantly live, like Dami Im, or ‘A million voices’ then the song has potential for a very high finish, but the song in itself is nothing special so could go unnoticed if the vocals aren’t outstanding. As a studio version I’m not a fan, but I thought A million voices was pretty average in studio version.

    • Ande

      It’s very similar to ‘A million voices’, unremarkable song that has the potential to be lifted with a great live performance. The safe and agreeable message is more a blessing than a curse although it’s inherent derivativeness will count against it. It’s also got a good hook and it’s easy to singalong to. The blandness mostly affects these songs if their is a better competitor in the same category, then that entry can siphon of a great deal of Australia’s appeal.

  • Showlad

    Australia is totally generic modern uptempo. Jessica does not have the star quality (or reliable strong vocals) for me of Mikolas, Elina, Netta, Waylon or Alexander. Plus, whilst I personally am very liberal and all embracing, let’s just say the sad minority demographic that didn’t for for Dami because she didn’t look ‘typical European’ (even if Oz is one fabulous melting pot of cultures) will not exactly fall over themselves to vote for Jessica. Australia may well win with a GREAT song (maybe a cool return from Dami?) but this song is not special enough for that. Will land some where between 6th to 12th imho.

    • Chris Bellis

      In addition, the novelty of having Australia in the competition has worn off. Instructive to look at last year, where some people were comparing Australia with Bulgaria as though they had roughly the same chance.

  • EmreCicek

    Guys, I just found the Winner! Hmm, or Winnners. I put my money on 2 songs.

    Eurovision Song Contest is not a song contest actually. It’s mostly about the artist and the performance. It’s named EuroVISION for a reason. The visuals are also important. You may have the best song but if you’re not a good performer, if you can’t create the magic ambiance “or” if you don’t have an interesting character or story you’re more likely to end up the contest in right side of the scoreboard.

    There’s a concept in Eurovision. Put all winners in same frame and you will understand what I mean. They’re classy. Conchita, Jamaala, Salvador. You need a class act. You can’t win the contest with a strange monkey show or chicken noises.

    I respect Neta’s work and I’m expecting her to slay in televoting. In juries, she can score good too. Many juries will reward this modern, brave attempt. However, this song is not a masterpiece. Her voice is impressive but it’s not a “class act”. There’s no art in the song. There’s no touching story in the song.

    Mikolas Josef’s “Lie To Me” is a nice, cool song but that’s all. It’s a song that you say “Yes, I liked it” but that’s all. However, I’m expecting Czech performer to finish the contest in Top 10 or even Top 5.

    Sweden will end up like Robin last year. Classic swed pop. Good but not good and distinctive enought to win the whole thing.

    Many people call Norway’s song trash and childish, However, I like to remind you, it’s not a song contest. It’s an artist contest. Rybak is a very charismatic performer and he will slay in televoting. Norway Top 6.

    Belgium. This song is amazing. It’s my 2nd favourite song in contest. How it could be priced above 20 just few these days ago? Now, market started to wake up and price shifted to 14-15s. Many people call it lounge music but I strongly disagree. This song is a masterpiece. Instruments, music, vocals. Everything great. Juries will love it. Public too. It can even win outright. I have green on it, I won’t be surprised if she win. She’s my 2nd pick for contest. We didn’t see the live performance yet though..

    And Estonia! This song is a classact. Voice is amazing. Now, you will say popopera doesn’t score in Eurovision. Let me correct you. It’s not Il Volo! It’s not Sognu! We never see something like this before. Amazing voice. More than amazing. Unbelieveable, it makes you shock. How she can sing in so high notes? Simply, super distinctive. She really deserves to be winner and I’m expecting public to think same way. They will say hey this girl has the best voice and she’s best, we need to vote for her. That’s how it worked with Salvador. His illness played a role to create sympathy but it was not the major part. Major part was his classy performance.

    I’m expecting Estonia to win but I like to keep Belgium green too. Good luck all!

  • markovs

    Australia finished way too high last year. Average song and poor vocals and stage presentation. The juries still seem to fawn over Australia too much

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Of the top 10 in the betting the one I’ve found it difficult to get into at all is the Bulgarian effort.

    I tried listening 4 or 5 times without managing to remember any of the sounds I’d just heard.

    I’ve retried listening to it the last couple of days, to finally hear the melody. I thought that maybe it was growing on me but then I was still unable to hear it out to the end of the song. I get bored and switch listening to something else.

    It reminds me loosely of old Icelandic sounding ESC songs. It has an atmospheric soundscape and promises to build into something awesome but then fails to deliver on that possibly brooding beginning, It’s too detached and I lose interest in it as I realise it has nothing to say. It feels empty, or as if it has just been emptied, if that makes sense.

    I tend to switch from trying to listen to Bulgaria to listening to Belgium. I just love the Portidhead feel to the opening and am thrilled at the building Bondesque feel. Though it does run out of steam towards the end.

    Or switch to listening to Mercy. Where Bulgaria is repetitious but detached and to my mind misses its target, the French song combines a chilled, hypnotic melody with an urgent, personal, intense vocal.

    Bulgaria, for me, is a potentially great song, but is unfinished, missing something. It needs a remix.

    What should I be listening for when I listen to Bones?

    Questions for those who like it: how does it make you feel? What’s your favourite aspect of it; or is it the whole ambience of it?

    • Mark Dowd

      If you listen again, around 2 mins 16 there’s a chance for a transition, a bridge, a knockout blow which isn’t taken. The preceding music I find alluring but it’s like being invited into some mysterious dark cave with the promise of a “reveal”.. But no reveal. Can this lack be compensated for on stage? Can visuals fill a hole in the song? I’m a doubter.. But happy to be proved wrong. BTW.. This song appears to have many people saying that it grows on them more and more… But they’re not typical on the night voters which isn’t good news for the Bulgars.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Bravo! Your cave analogy is kinda perfect, fits with the dark mood, the echoing of the vocals and even the opening lyrics: Love is like a black hole / Everything is dark.

        Definitely a cave; not a grotto!

        I have succeeded in being able to remember a few of the lyrics and parts of the melody. It is growing on me, slowly. But am still not attracted to listening to what sounds like the undead trying vocal exercises focused on the word Bones.

        A musical version of GOT but with the only characters being white walkers.

        I’d be happy to be proved wrong, too. It desperately needs a bit of life injecting into it, a bit of stardust sprinkling through it. Hopefully, the singers are sexy, attractive and seductive, laying down some interesting harmonies and textures. Dead seductive.

        Bones needs fleshing out.

        • Chris Bellis

          GHF Let’s wait for the rehearsals. People said the same about BG last year. Like you I am hoping for more than bones. BTW if you want to see why intelligent people prefer Eurovision, just tune into The Voice, which is on here right now.

        • eurovicious

          Not everyone is going to like every entry. But “What should I be listening for when I listen to Bones?” is also the wrong question – because with Bulgaria’s entry more than with any other this year, we only have one limited part of the package to judge. Remember, they specifically sought not songs but “projects” (https://twitter.com/bg_eurovision/status/943924990436696065) – the 13 potential entries they shortlisted were all full concepts (including staging etc). So listening to Bones when we don’t even have a music video or live performance, let alone any inkling of what the staging will be like (which is why there’ll be no music video until after Eurovision) or the message it will seek to communicate, is like that old parable of the blind man and the elephant… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

          I like the song, I think it’s about my 8th favourite, it’s powerful and atmospheric, and I think it can and will be very impactful once they bring the staging out of the bag, which I absolutely trust they will, even more so than in 2016 and 2017 (songs that were also underestimated in the run-up to the contest). With Bulgaria these days, the song is the vessel or canvas for those 3 minutes on stage. It’s like the base in a sauce. It’s gotta be good but it’s what you do with it that makes it what it is.

          I personally enjoy Bones more than ILWAC and Beautiful Mess – it has a quiet power, is more outside-the-box and sounds considerably more Bulgarian. It’s not Western pop. I think it’s gonna be amazing.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            No.

            “What should I be listening for when I’m listening to Bones?” was the correct question for me to ask.

            In that post I was talking about the song. When I talked about it in comparison to Belgium and to France, I also kept my conversation to the songs of those countries. I made no reference on that post to any of the videos.

            I am aware this is EuroVISION.

            Songfestivalwerk! regularly makes that point. He’s made it recently on this very thread.

            There are people commentating on this site who are avowed fans of the Bulgarian song. This is, of course, despite there being no-one here in the sofabet community who will have “any inkling of what the staging will be like” … “or the message it will seek to communicate”.

            Despite that obvious and unavoidable knowledge gap, they still have an opinion, a very favourable opinion, of the merits of the song. I was asking those people who like the song for an insight as to what I should be listening for.

            “It’s like the base in a sauce. It’s gotta be good but it’s what you do with it that makes it what it is.”

            “…It’s gotta be good…”

            So it has.

            That’s what I was asking about.

          • eurovicious

            I’m sorry if you misinterpreted my comment or if you misinterpreted mine. I wasn’t having a go.

            I still think “what should I be listening for?” isn’t the right question because I don’t think we can change our perceptions of a certain song, the way we hear it, by trying to listen out for a certain thing or from a certain perspective. I will never get I Feel You My Love or Euphoria, which others adore; my friend will never find Taken By A Stranger anything but boring, while I find it beguiling. You can’t really “correct” for things like that, our response to music is always deeply individual. That’s not to say it can’t change as you change – I’ve recently started liking Cool Me Down (the horror!) – but that’s something that happens in the background and with time; sitting down and trying to make myself find good aspects in a song or trying to like it is a dead end, especially if that involves listening to it repeatedly to try and find what you’re “missing”, which is (for me at least) absolutely the wrong mindset. “what should I be listening for?” also implies a song’s merits are quantifiable and can be communicated in a way that will help other people access them, which I’m not sure is the case – I guess I can kind of hear what other people find in Euphoria, I just don’t respond to it personally at all. What I like about Bones is that it’s dark, sensual and sounds more Bulgarian than its two predecessors; I’m not underwhelmed by it, in fact I like its understatedness. I also meant that with Bulgaria, it’s much more the case than with other countries that the song is just one ingredient, due to their holistic approach to staging and narrative. I feel about Belgium the way you feel about Bulgaria; it just doesn’t speak to me.

          • eurovicious

            That should read “I’m sorry if I misinterpreted your comment or if you misinterpreted mine”…

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Eventually, I’ve gotten into listening to Bulgaria’s Bones.

            You’re most often an excellent judge, so I put my reservations to to one side, as best as one can, to find that I was enjoying it’s drama and spectacle. It’s saturated with atmosphere. The instrumentation is gorgeous, rich, expertly layered. The build promises so much.

            Personally, I still prefer Beautiful Mess, I Feed You My Love and Dihaj’s Skeletons, come to that. They’re more climactic, for me. But now I recognise that Bones can slot into that class

            Ultimately, I feel like I’m listening to an extended theme tune for a new Syfy show (possibly starring Karl Urban). The video is suggestive of that, too! the 1st verse, pre-chorus and chorus would make a for a stunning opening theme tune. So as long as the show was called Bones!

            I overlooked that it could be a contender for topping the jury vote. I imagine killer harmonies could act as catnip for juries. Indeed, my beloved OG3NE confirmed that hypothesis last year. If the parts interlock the sum of its parts could wow.

            In this year’s ESC, Bones reminds me of Mercy. Mercy’s electro-pop undertones lending it a futuristic feel also. Two lyrically repetitive songs which never quite lift off, launch into space.

            They both feel po-faced, too. Though the French duo, I feel, will easily dodge that bullet, given the subject matter. They’re allowed to be as serious as they like.

            I feel it will prove important that the common framework, which sounds like an intergalactic organisation, appear human and smile, for example. It could prove a mistake if they appear humourless. They would be straddling the risk of appearing as a bunch of self-important singers who fancy themselves as futuristic poet-philosophers.

            Bulgaria’s futuristic styling for If Love Was A Crime could have been a car crash but for it being rescued and transformed by Poli’s effervescent star appeal.

            My beloved Norma John found their Back Bird never took flight last year, an epic song and performance, doomed to non-qualification – which must have been due to a widely perceived gloom.

            I do hear what you’re saying. I also stick by what I’m saying. And Mark Dowd’s post makes excellent observations which stand.

            People do need to exercise their imagination to see if they can hear, see, feel what others see in something. Many times I have given a TV show a second, third or fourth chance, with something eventually clicking for me. Other times I have given multiple chances to a friend’s recommendation, to find I remain oblivious to something’s charms. I still find the X Files dreary (Yes, I watched The Big Sick recently!) The newest series was worse than ever, exposed the programme’s deep lying flaws, as far as I was concerned. On a deeper level, the same can go with relations with people. Sometimes there can be a bias or block or blindspot there, preventing you from properly appreciating that soul. Exposure and keeping an open mind can lead to a breakthrough moment – you suddenly get that person, you see what others see in that person. The lyrics of Bones, as it happens, also advocate searching for more. Part of the attraction of Sofabet for me is finding my opinions fluctuating or transforming as another commentator provides me with an insight or perspective I probably wouldn’t arrived at on my own.

            “It’s like the base in a sauce. It’s gotta be good but it’s what you do with it that makes it what it is.”

            “…It’s gotta be good…”

            Yes.

            I’m trying to be open to the experience others report when listening to the song. I’m also open to speculation as to the staging of the entry. Indeed, I’m already joining in the discussion on that future event.

            Finally, the staging will be known, seen and be analysed, judged and rated.

  • Double Carpet

    I had wrongly believed that the professional juries would behave like many Eurovision fans, listening to the songs multiple times before the contest, giving chance for a “grower” to make its mark, rather than what made an instant impact. Imagine my surprise on meeting a UK jury panel member at a Eurovision event last year, who explained that she heard all the songs for the first time on the night of the semis and final. This feels like criminal negligence!

    In the stuff of lost Eurovisions back when the old king was on the throne, jury members were required to listen to the songs half a dozen times on tape before seeing a few rehearsals and then the final live performance. The televoter only rings in and votes for their favourite(s), but the juror has to rank all songs. How can you rank 19 songs you’ve only heard once?

    This has changed my view on the juries, who will clearly be as susceptible as the average viewer to “Euromerge” (defined in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as describing the condition that presents itself when listening to all the Eurovision songs one after the other for the first time, after a while they all start to sound the same and none of them particularly good).

    There will be some jurors who do their research for this most important of tasks, but it’s worth bearing in mind that many will not.

    • Chris Bellis

      Thanks for that post. It explains many things.

    • eurovicious

      I think for juries to hear the songs in advance, even multiple times, let alone watch rehearsals, would be a terrible idea. We all know how, every year, mediocre and outright bad Eurovision songs grow on us in the 2 months between the end of selection season and the contest to the point that we like them, familiarity having bred affection – then a few months later, once our head’s out of the bubble, we realise they were crap all along and our first impression was correct. Juries should be seeing the show for the first time on the night, just as viewers at home are – otherwise there’s a huge danger of them a) rewarding songs that have improved since first selected or since rehearsal over those that have been good right from the start b) rewarding songs that are growers/have worn them down over songs that are great on first listen. Juries shouldn’t need to do any research. I do agree that the fact they have to rank all songs is an issue though. It’s easy enough to watch the contest for the first time and pick your 1-8, 10 and 12 – it’s another matter altogether to rank two-dozen entries from best to worst when many will have been forgettable.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I am watching Eurovision 1995 now . Kinda miss this theatre-esque staging in the old days. All camera shots are focused on the artist. No sign of the audience.

  • I have a fun bit of data from last night’s Eurofest UK/Boom Bang A Bang fan vote. A Friday night audience of several hundred drunken gay men (and a few women) watched all 43 videos and then voted for their favourites.

    Armenia was last. Iceland, Croatia and Lithuania were also in the Bottom 5.

    Australia won. The Top 10 were as follows;

    1. Australia
    2. Finland
    3. Cyprus
    4. Israel
    5. Sweden
    6. France
    7. Czech Republic
    8. Denmark
    9. Moldova
    10. Poland

    Germany, UK, Malta, Austria, Greece, Azerbaijan were somewhere 11-20. Israel was on first and so quite a few people probably missed it.

    There was no Estonia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Norway, Spain or The Netherlands in the Top 20.

    They didn’t announce the full results, but I’ll try and get them in case anyone is interested.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Are there any surprises there? I notice eight out of ten of those top tracks are eminently danceable, aside from those supplied by Tormund Giantsbane and his chums in eighth and the language of love duo in sixth.

      Am personally surprised Norway was outside the top twenty.

      • Tim B

        1. Australia
        2. Finland
        3. Cyprus
        4. Israel
        5. Sweden
        6. France
        7. Czech Republic
        8. Denmark
        9. Moldova
        10. Poland
        11. Azerbaijan
        12. United Kingdom
        13. Austria
        14. Italy
        15. Ukraine
        16. Malta
        17. Ireland
        18. Greece
        19. FYR Macedonia
        20. Germany
        21. Estonia
        22. Bulgaria
        23. Belgium
        24. Norway
        25. Slovenia
        26. Serbia
        27. San Marino
        28. Romania
        29. Switzerland
        30. Hungary
        31. Latvia
        32. Montenegro
        33. The Netherlands
        34. Spain
        35. Belarus
        36. Portugal
        37. Albania
        38. Russia
        39. Lithuania
        40. Georgia
        41. Iceland
        42. Croatia
        43. Armenia

  • Burlington Bertie

    Double Carpet – interesting post regarding the jury. I thought that one of the reasons why they have a jury of professionals from the music industry is to level out the instantaneous nature of the televote. If the jury members listen to the songs for the first time on the night like the televoting punters, they’re just as likely to make similar choices to the public, albeit in a slightly more formal and informed setting. Some songs are growers, some songs benefit from listening to without the visuals and some songs are high quality but get put on early in the running order. If everyone voting on such songs only hears them once then they will never stand a chance, and surely they have just as much potential to be hits as those that are more immediate. Given that there is such a small number of jury members per country and a lot rests with them, would it not be better for them to listen to the songs several times and watch at least one rehearsal before ranking so many songs from first to last?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Was with a couple of mates much earlier this evening. They’re Brummie girls in their early 30s. They were in the process of getting ready to go out to a bar and then on clubbing.

    They both love dance music. They both find men with beards unattractive.

    I took the opportunity to play them the primer of Eurovision video snippets.

    Notable reactions:

    Australia: “Nice girl, pretty good quality song, likeable.”
    Azerbaijan: “Meh! Ok.”
    Cyprus: They loved this! Both were up dancing to it immediately.
    Czech Republic: Loved song, singer, video. They were clicking their fingers from the start. One was reminded of Bruno Mars!
    Estonia: Both loved the dress effect. One loved the singer’s voice. The other doesn’t like opera.
    F.Y.R.M: “Great, interesting.”
    Finland: They both really enjoyed this one…but they said the singer looked like a bitch. One said she would be a great party friend, but not someone you would have a chat with or have near your boyfriend.
    France: One commented she didn’t like the singer’s nose!
    Georgia: They pleaded with me to fast forward!
    Germany: “Looks like a mix of Mick Hucknell and Ed Sheeran.”
    “Sounds like other songs.”
    Israel: More about this later.
    Italy: One of them speaks Italian, but she said that didn’t help make it any more enjoyable.
    Lithuania: “Boring!”
    Moldova: They both really enjoyed this. Which surprised me.
    Norway: They loved this, and were just completely taken by Rybak. They saw this as a fun party song and accepted it on its own terms.
    Russia: Dross.
    Serbia: Didn’t find anything about this appealing.
    Slovenia: I thought they would like this…but they weren’t interested in it.
    Spain: “Nice but mush. Cute.”
    Sweden: They thought this was really cool.
    The Netherlands: Thought the singer looked hot but they don’t like rock.
    Ukraine: “Nutcase, passionate”
    United Kingdom: They both sighed. “A nothing song.”

    So…Israel…they lost their shit for it! They made me stop the roster of snippets. Played them the song in full. They’re nuts for it. Find Netta hysterical. They beamed with smiles all the way through. Could barely believe this was a Eurovision entrant. I asked them if they could name the animal impersonation performed. They hadn’t noticed there had been one, at first. As I had them reflect, one tentatively said “Chicken?”

    Next they wanted to see Rybak again! I showed them “Fairytale”. They both correctly guessed he previously won with that.

    Next we watched Cyprus again. This time they noticed the product placement!

    Re-watched Finland and I think we all reached a consensus that this is the best dance tune in the competition. I should add that we were watching the music video not the stage show final’s video.

    Then they asked for more of Sweden and returned to getting ready, while Benjamin did his thing in the background.

  • Chris Bellis

    GHF- I think you might have something about Finland. Can’t get it out of my head, whereas Toy has just disappeared. Either way, staging will be all important, to state the obvious. Don’t go betting the farm.

    BTW I have Brummie and Black Country friends and relatives, some actually in the music business. I’d be careful of transposing their tastes to Eurovision, otherwise top of their list would be Hungary. Remember where heavy metal was born.

    Hungary is near the top of mine too when I’m in the right mood, although the repetitive melody lets it down, after a brilliant intro (knocked off from every metal track you’ve ever heard). Your pals must be the exception in not liking rock/metal. Perhaps they are from Sutton Coldfield or Solihull.

    To finish, please tell your Brummie friend that she needn’t worry about Saara Aalto stealing her boyfriend.

  • Jack

    I honestly don’t get the Finland hype. It sounds like previous Eurovision songs (Euphoria, Glorious etc.) and she does not look likeable or voteable to me. I hope it bombs. Finland does not deserve to go to the final. Fanwank!

    Denmark appears to be in a lot of top ten predictions. I don’t see it. It sounds generic. What I personally like about it is the scandinavian vibe. But Denmark has not been very popular in the televote lately although the songs looked and sounded decent and radio friendly. This song feels middle of the road and I am not sure juries will save it. I don’t think it will qualify. If it does, and Norway and Sweden end up in the top ten I am sure Denmark will be outside the top ten.

    Why is Ukraine not higher in the odds? Ukraine only have really let us down in the years they hosted the contest. In the other contests they had a decent result (except maybe in 2012 and 2009). I see this year’s entry easily in the top ten. It’s Ukraine, it’s catchy, sounds radio friendly, the piano part will make the juries appreciate it and Ukraine is good at staging songs with a gimmic.

  • markovs

    Ukraine isn’t higher because it has zero chance of winning. It’s OK, vaguely catchy but not really memorable. Could be anywhere 8-18th but in no way can be considered as a possible winner so difficult to back at any price.

    • Chris Bellis

      I was thinking the odds were too optimistic. If you want that kind of thing, I’d go for Switzerland at vastly better odds and about as much chance of winning.

  • Showlad

    Hi GHF. Unfortuantely Finland relate superbly on video – I loved it then too – live there are unfortunately ‘unfixables’: Saara is often off key live and shouty and almost ‘musical theatre’ focusing singing style to manage it when she does stay on key. She’s awkward and however they change the staging I think it still gives her too much to do. I don’t think Saara is that great live (very hit and miss) and ESC will always find you out.
    High regard is on the money for this when relating to video only but live this will not deliver.

    • Chris Bellis

      On X-Factor she was ok live and mostly on key, but of course the competition was nowhere near as fierce, and the staging was manipulated to get the result the Obergruppenführer wanted. I suppose the equivalent of Obergruppenführer in Eurovision is Jon Ola Sand, but he doesn’t have much control of the actual staging as far as I know. Anyway I’m not going near it until I’ve seen the rehearsals.

      • But YLE’s team have bought in a key member of the team that helped get TPTB the results they wanted. We mustn’t forget that, although I felt that on UMK, Friedman had taken a very stereotypical British attitude to Eurovision in his staging.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      @Showlad

      Yes, I made sure to highlight it had been the music video performance we watched. I agree that the stage performance is a right let down. 2 different experiences. Saara’s facial expressions remind me of those of Finola Hughes’s Broadway bad girl, Laura, from the painfully underrated Staying Alive.

      https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT8xIBcxuZYka3_pe6KLfYsbHknQ7T01mG0uyBjCv43mD4csBwJ2w

      https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSytnEe2R2pIXVaIopfN6C5_9exFeHecbmu0GDgnV6ENb8sjbo9

      https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRiwv9Q448K6YEn8unSbOWVZ4xXRQ9wSMKCoIOBf_WtODG2MwyrpQ

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Last week, played a mini clip of the songs to an early to mid twenty-something lass who lives, with her parents, in Walsall and who is chart-centric in her listening habits.

        She half humoured me by paying partial attention. My takeaways were the following:

        She loved the “cheeky” Czech lad. All females I know who have seen that “Lie To Me” vid really dig him and the song.

        It was the lad from Belarus who attracted the comment “he loves himself.”

        She thought Bulgaria’s song was “very cool” and it was one of her favourites.

        Again, absolutely loved Netta, loved Toy. Didn’t believe that this was the Israeli entry, that it was a Eurovision entry. Wanted to know all about Netta. 3 women and 2 guys I know, who’ve I’ve shown that music vid to, have all raved about Netta, the song, the look, the hook, all of it.

        Didn’t give France a chance. Asked me if the French singer said anything else but “mercy.” Asked me if the song “went anywhere.”

        Thought Norway’s song was “cringe.”

        Loved the confidence of the Ukranian lad. I realised that he reminded me of a young Robbie Williams.

        Didn’t get the “old” guy from the Netherlands performing his “80s number.” Called it “dad rock.”

        Enjoyed Germany. Found it emotional and the singer a sweetie. Did feel she had heard the song before, but couldn’t place it.

        Was undecided about FYROM.

        Easily her Top 3 were Israel, Bulgaria, Czech.

        I’ve been considering having bets on Eurovision for a while.

        Thought long and hard about 2 EW bets on Bulgaria and France when they were both 20s and when they were both 16s.

        France is still available in that odds range, not so Bulgaria.

        Occurred to me before the price crash that maybe the best bet to have on Bulgaria was for it to win the jury vote. It was @8.2 for days but I didn’t bite. It was eurovicious who provoked my consideration of Bulgaria. Plus I thought back to my comments re the Netherland’s jury potential, last year. And a comment by Rob on the other site about the draw Bulgaria landed last year.

        Remember looking at Israel @5 for Jury Vote Winner as well, in mind of K.T Tunstell’s debut on Later… with Jools Holland. Do search for and check out that vid. Well worth a quick search and listen.

        Have also came close to backing Ukraine and Austria for Top 10. Macedonia is floating around in many markets at enormous prices, too.

        Although it seems to be accepted fact that Albania doesn’t have a prayer of even qualifying, never mind landing any other achievements, I still have to say that it is a personal favourite and it just isn’t receiving the credit it deserves.

        Flipping great song headed by one of the very, very best singers in the competition. God, that guy can deliver a song. Wonderful voice.

        I find it kind of sad that it’s 1000/1 to win the thing.

        Still haven’t had a bet on Eurovision, which I’m finding helps invest a freedom in composing comments. I’m not monetarily invested in any entry so have no bias towards defending an entry or my position on it.

        • Chris Bellis

          GHF Please remember that your personal likes can lead you to financial disaster. I know you know that from previous posts you’ve made. We’ve all done it. Why didn’t that charming ethno folk number from Macedonia, featuring the goat pipes and zither, do better? As soon as you get into Eurovision you end up getting the taste for different types of music, which can cloud your judgement, so you should float all your ideas with an impartial person. I would wait until the last moment before betting – look what happened last year. That was a nightmare for me, only rescued because this site (Daniel and others) gave great advice and the penny dropped. The one I was sure about was Bulgaria, and now it turns out that there was some jiggery-pokery over the jury voting. Thanks Milton for exposing that. Having to factor in the shenanigans of corrupt juries in Russia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria etc just adds to the complication. Be careful mate when you finally put some money down.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Wilco, Chris. Great points.

            As to Bulgaria, I remember last year reading thoughts on Rob’s site about the scope of Bulgarian influence:

            http://www.entertainmentodds.com/eurovision-song-contest/vintage-port/

            “Having predicted beforehand that Bulgaria would be called as the first qualifier from semi 2, enabling Kristian to pick his lot first, and for it to be ‘pre-arranged’ for him to pull out a 2nd half draw… I would refer anyone who doubts this to watch the video.”

            In the ESC, Bulgaria is the new Azer?

            I’d say despite the accrued benefits from possible jiggery pokery you were still right about Bulgaria last year. Terrific telegenic singer and gorgeous intense song combo. It deserved to be Top 2.

            Re personal likes and dislikes: when I first watched Czech’s Mikolas, I really liked him and the vibe of the song. Over time I found him arrogant. 3 female friends, on seeing him and his Lie To Me performance, have expressed their strong (hot) regard for him and his song. Might be that women will prove the best judges of his appeal? Listen to the ladies?

            Sweden (modern-retro) @1.57 looks possible value to land top Nordic. There are doubts about both Norway’s (@3.57) jury- and tele-vote. But backing a value @1.57 holds no interest to me. There is a tendency to want to bet proportionately higher on shorter prices, incurring potential higher liabilities. Value betting illogical; but cash flow relevant.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I still do think Eugent and Mall are being underestimated.

          Negatives:

          Singer is noticeably inked.
          Singer has that “needs a feed” look of Novak Djokovic, who he also looks like.
          Song type and singer type not associated with success at Eurovision.
          Bands don’t often prosper at Eurovision.
          Song is a bit Kings of Leon: slightly dated.
          Semi Final running order position is horrific.
          Semi Final 1 is much the tougher draw, the Semi of Death.
          Albania has a rotten qualification record, having failed to qualify 4 of the last 5 years and 5 of the last 7 years.

          Positives:

          Singer is perhaps the best vocalist in the competition.
          On that basis, if the staging is good, if it provides a positive rather than a negative, Eugent has the potential with that voice to be scored very highly by the juries.
          He is passionately intense, he and his voice deliver emotionally.
          Mall is a full, powerful, soaring, satisfying song – exciting build ups, powerful chorus.
          Song allows Eugent to shine.
          Albania has some allies in its Semi.
          Everything about it feels authentic, personal and passionate. Like with the Portuguese song and the French song, I don’t have to speak a word of the native language to know and feel this song is coming from the heart.
          This year Albania have not converted the song into a English language number.
          The 3 minute version is still very good.

          Betstars 6/1 qualification price looks a fair price to me and if so, Top 15 (currently @13) in the Grand Final would then certainly be in reach.

  • markovs

    Has anyone got much money on yet? At the moment I’ve only had Norway, Netherlands and Portugal at big odds, Estonia, and laid Netta at high 2s. Cannot see it happening for Bulgaria, Sweden, Czech Rep or Russia. Belgium is interesting but not sure it’s backable. At the moment I can see Estonia as the only definite top 4 and pretty much everything else up for grabs until we see some live stuff and rehearsals. Am I missing anything?

    • Chris Bellis

      Done similar, but did my usual top 5 for Sweden. Laid Israel, like you. Put an outside bet on for my partner on Switzerland for top ten. Not much money though. On previous experience it will be lucky to qualify. I backed BG for top five when the odds were better. It’s always the same at this stage – you are gambling on unknowns. You look back on it with hindsight, eg Bulgaria with Polina and think why didn’t I see it? But we forget that they only got the staging and the sound right at the last minute, so even judging on first rehearsals is fraught with danger. Look at the first rehearsals and they were all over the place.

    • There are over 1 million euros matched in the Eurovision winner market at the moment. That’s a lot more than last year at the same time. As far as I remember last year 1 million was exceeded only in May. Just making a note that there’s a bigger interest in betting on Eurovision since last year.

  • Burlington Bertie

    Does anyone know where last place prices can be found? It might be that they’re not up yet as I know in previous years these sorts of bets tend to appear later on in the bookies’ running order, as it were. I’m thinking of putting a big G on Israel to come last. No, I’m kidding, but I might have an unpatriotic flutter on the UK.

    • You can ask for a last place market here and they’ll probably oblige
      https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/

    • Chris Bellis

      BB That’s not unpatriotic, it’s common sense. The best unpatriotic bets are against England in football, but you do have to keep quiet about it with certain people, eg Millwall & Stockport County supporter types. That’s been a steady earner for me. On Eurovision normally I do top 5 for Sweden and bottom 5 for UK and i have a feeling that might work again this year. Last year Lucie was a bit too good. SuRie is good too, but the song is rubbish. Worst of the automatic qualifiers.

      • Burlington Bertie

        Cheers Chris B and yes – I will keep quiet about it because I’m going to Lisbon for the contest and don’t feel it would be the wisest of moves to mention backing my own country to come last! Was it you in an earlier thread that mentioned backing the weakest of the automatic qualifiers for last place over the last few years? It’s a very good gambling format and has come good more often than not recently. I agree that SuRie is good but her song simply isn’t. Sweden top 5 is also sensible in any year, and definitely in this one.

        • Chris Bellis

          BB
          I’ve certainly said it, but so have others, including Daniel I think. I’m claiming no originality, but it’s obvious when you think about it. I’ve been doing the Sweden top 5 UK bottom 5 for years with 90% success. Latterly, possibly after the recent lecture from Eurovision bosses (they never paid any attention to us lot that paid the licence), the BBC has upped the game a bit. Not enough though.

          • Are you saying the BBC were given a talking-to? That said, anyone who put Electro Velvet together needs to go and do 100 lines in the naughty corner!

            They have upped their game since 2015 but I agree there’s still a long, long way to go. But I think it’s a slow road. I remember talking to one blogger just before the presser at EYD and her local BBC station had her come on the morning Bjorkman made UK front page news as the local Eurovision expert. She said “well, actually, this guy is right – Wogan has caused massive damage to Eurovision’s reputation.”

            That was kind of the end of the interview at that point.

        • eurovicious

          I think it was James who suggested this before, but a Sofabet meetup in Lisbon should definitely happen – cortados and pastel de nata for everyone…

  • Showlad

    Hi Markovs. I think we’re at the stage quite understandably where we re-listen and re-visit songs. Not in a paranoid way but in a good way – because the dust settles and you can see all songs in context together instead of being drip fed them and reacting in that ‘moment’.
    I have had various incantations on my thoughts with Estonia. Initially as a potential winner then following live viewing – loved the dress (a definite standout for Mr&Mrs Jo Bloggs watching on the night at home) but found her choruses amazing but verses a little weak and at a couple of points struggling to stay in time with the delivery of the studio version.Then the plethora of all the rest of the entries arrived…
    Now with all songs revealed I think Estonia is still very strong. Vocally it has some amazing Wow! moments even if a few lower points. The dress will make it stand out and she is for sure in the winner mix. I don’t agree with Daniel re the absence of song strong song – it is atmospheric rather than grabbing you by the b**** but it still works. She seems rock solid to deliver the big moments but will have to be strong on the verses and they are a worry – remember Sognu live under the pressure and there’s nothing like the ESC Grand Final to make you crack. So for me Estonia is up there but can’t help feeling a brilliant showing from Israel or even Belguim and don’t rule out Alexander bossing and lighting up that stage too, may well sail past her.
    Belguim are potentailly up for a Jamala style victory – could do great with juries and get enough from the public to make it happen. Public only vote I would say no, but with a possible huge haul from the juries, she then becomes a very genuine contender.
    Czeck will do very well but the staging is going to have to be amazing to get enough overall support to win. I agree I can’t see Bul (even if juries love it) winning – non ESC friends find it dull as dishwater. NL if amazing on the night is a big threat, Portugal absolutely not.
    Israel if staging good and Netta superb (which I have a sneaking feeling she may well turn out to be) could well still win this, when all our agonising disections are done and dusted and I hope you haven’t laid all of your bets on them 😉

    • Chris Bellis

      I’m with you most of the way. The following is where I differ slightly.
      Bulgaria is still too much of an unknown. It has the potential to surpass the lot and for me is the one I’ll keep listening to. Estonia: I posted a couple of clips several hundred posts ago showing Elina and then Anna Netrebko singing the same aria. Elina is off key in certain parts, and gets a bit shrieky. As you might expect, Anna is perfect. I doubt this will bother any but ardent opera fans, any more than the BGT audience was bothered by the fact that the opera stars they saw were at best average. She will come across as brilliant, unless she totally misses the high notes. Nevertheless, it’s not a done deal, as the song is all style and no substance. It’s near enough for me to have put money on it, but I’m keeping a watchful eye on it.
      Last thing – I think Portugal has some mileage for a top ten. Lovely song and a charming singer. Pity the co-singer is not as good in the performance, even though she wrote the song. Staging will be important here again. They need to ditch the existing staging. As it’s part of the message, they may not want to do this. One to watch.

      • Showlad

        Thank heavens you noticed Elina’s imperfections in those verses (I assume) too Chris.
        YES I get Bul could be great staging and jury bait but it won’t get enough of the public behind it to win – no gears, goes nowhere, no hook – miles behind Isr; Cze; Est; Nor; NL; Bel etc etc with public.

        • Chris Bellis

          Showlad – I like opera and I did notice the imperfections, which is why I posted videos of her against a top professional. As I said before, the reason for opera professionals doing Eurovision, X-Factor etc is not usually because they are the best in their game. Estonia is a very musical country, fond of all sorts of music including classical, and a good opera singer has plenty of work. Not to be too critical of Elina, she’s very capable, but she is a fair way off from the top divas. Except that she’s extremely telegenic and has excellent presentational skills, which will probably swing it. Nobody will notice that her arpeggios aren’t quite right (!) when they see her perform on the night.

          • Ron

            Eurovision is not a singing competition of course and the average televoter or juror is not going to notice a thing wrong with Elina’s performance. Besides, you could put a genuine world class female opera singer into the Contest and they might come across as boring as hell to the average viewer.and finish nowhere.

  • I hope Betfair loads the Last Place market soon, as I’ll be laying the fudge out of UK.

  • Hippo

    Last place is going to be a very hard market given the automatics are all decent. The last few places probably won’t be as cut adrift as recently too. Uk is definitely in the running until we see the standard of the worst qualifiers.

  • Shai

    Re Israel 2018

    One of the main argument for a song’s success or failure is the argument of televoters against juries vote.
    I can’r deny that there are type of songs which usually do better in one than by the other. But sometime there are surprises.
    Let’s takes Portugal 2017 for example-I believe that last year, around this time, the consensus was that this is a juries’ song and that televoters will vote for a different song. Eventually he won both the televote and the juries vote.
    In my mind there is also a possibility that juries will reward a certain song even if it’s not their usual bait and history proves that both televoters and juries can be sometime very unpredictable in their vote.It’s not statistically backed up, just a hunch, as non betting person, there is no harm in such attitude. If I was betting, I would lose a lot of money holding such view.

    Than there is the argument of Russia 2016 & Italy 2017 which says-if those 2 songs only got 130/126 from the juries, there is no way Israel 2018 will get more.
    The way I see it, what both countries received from the juries, show their potential and they could have done even better if:
    1) the song was the same song chosen in San Remo and the performance was top noch and not the tired performance we saw on the final(Italy 2017) and
    2) if the song wasn’t so dated and wasn’t relying heavily on the visuals and the singer looking like a superman(Russia 2016)

    We are not going to see Netta climbing on the wall and as we never saw/heard a live performance of the song, there is chance it will be fresh when performed. If Israel want to win( and I think they are aiming for a win), they need to make sure that everything will be perfect.From staging to camera work, to Netta’s costume and the live singing. They miss anything and it’s going to fail.

    And some fun facts, for those interested in them:
    Did u know that in Eurovsion decades(ie;1956-1965, 1966-1975 ect.)the following happens:
    1. at least once per decade there is a 1st time winner
    2.From the 1980’s – at least, once per decade a country win after 10 years or longer from their previous win.
    3.Between 1997 and 2017(including) we had 21 winners,of which 19 winners fall to one of the categories mentioned above The exceptions are 2 Swedish winners from 1999(only 8 years after their previous win) and 2015(3 years after their previous win).

    it will be fun to see to what will happen in Lisbon in this regard.

  • I’m surprised by the number of fanwanks this year. Finland, Israel, Denmark. All three very loved by the fans and possibly all three will not live up to the hype.

  • In case you missed it, the first points from OGAE are in, from France.

    Israel – 12
    Finland – 10
    Australia – 8
    Denmark – 7
    Czech Republic – 6
    Sweden – 5
    Greece – 4
    Bulgaria – 3
    Italy – 2
    Austria – 1

    http://eurovision-fr.net/news/lire.php?id=5498

    Doesn’t look good for Belgium or Estonia’s chances of winning the televote this year, no?

  • It’s only one set of votes…and it’s OGAE, so let’s get the bargepoles out…BUT I do expect Denmark to score rather better than many people on here have suggested….

    • Tim B

      I used to dismiss OGAE results as pure fanw*nk fodder, but over the years they’ve proven to be broadly representative of the televote. Like any data, you need to know how to read it. You have to spot the likely fanw*nks – which to me look like Finland and Denmark – but the eventual televote winner has always been in the Top 10 of OGAE results every year since they started in 2007.

  • Just watched Mikolas’ performance from the Ukrainian National Final. I think esctips is spot-on after I watched that performance. Thus I have to admit my mistake here. Personally the Czech song doesn’t do it for me. But then again, it’s never about my personal taste.

    Taking into account this, and both Netta’s exceptional stage presence, I would change my TOP 13 prediction into this:

    01. ISRAEL
    02. AUSTRALIA
    03. CZECH REPUBLIC
    04. THE NETHERLANDS
    05. NORWAY
    ————————–
    06. Estonia
    07. Lithuania
    08. Bulgaria
    09. Belgium
    10. Sweden
    ————————–
    11. Greece
    12. Albania
    13. Austria
    ————————–

    Some more comments. After watching Sweden I can’t help but feeling that these stroboscopic TL-lights doesn’t do Benjamin a lot of favours. He is as charismatic as perhaps Mikolas. But his talents get a bit lost in an over-staged act. Last year I got serious happy vibes from watching this dance choreography on the tredmills. This time around Sweden….doesn’t do it for me. In the charm-department Norway and Czech Republic definately have the better USP’s. Not to mention Israel.

    Mikolas on the other hand……..I can keep more focussed on his wonderful toe-tapping attitude on stage. It’s just such a fun boy to watch performing!

    I had to sink Netherlands a bit from 2nd to 4th spot. My worries about Netherlands still is the divisiveness of the song. Although I think Hungary is more divisive. Perhaps a slight anti-#MeToo movement, pro-men audience can propell Netherlands to a nice placing?

    Bulgaria has Sacha-Jean Baptiste again, but even she couldn’t help an otherwise old-fashioned ballad from Georgia last year.

    I would like to mention Greece though. I think this can do better than many people expect it to do. In the genre of more folk/ethnic/world-oriented songs I think Estonia and Greece are the best this year. For me entries from Armenia, Serbia, Montenegro are rated lower.

    Regarding the more ‘simple small singer-songwriter’ entries you have Lithuania, Ireland, Portugal, Germany and Spain I think Lithuania has the best potential. But ONLY if she improves her singing capabilities. Otherwise I would swap that with Spain.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I think I have the same Top 2 in mind as you do.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Disagree about Lthuania. Initially, it was close to tickling my sweet spot. Over time, it is proving the exception to the rule: over time I’m liking it less and less; I find it more and more lightweight and irritating every time I hear it. I’m unaware of Lithuania’s voting strength but I woudn’t be surprised to see it NQ.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      In agreement about the high placing for Norway.

      I think I’ve read doubts expressed about it’s ability to score highly with juries.

      Something to bear in mind…that’s just crossed mine…

      There will be songwriters who are jury members. There must be.

      Films about film-making are very popular with awards-giver bodies who are comprised of people connected to film-making; books about the writing process (there are far, far too many) are very popular with awards-giver bodies who are comprised of people who are connected to authorship; would it be too much of a stretch to think that a song about song-writing will prove very popular with the many Eurovision jury members who are connected to song-writing?

      I suppose a / the counter argument would centre around it being a song that doesn’t seem to take song-writing seriously.

      But that probably misses the point, I feel.

      I feel certain that songwriters experience similar levels of block to that of authors. “That’s How You Write a Song” makes light, plays with and has knowing fun with the songwriting process, and crucially is deceptively simple. It hides it’s skill. I think people in the music business will enjoy and rate it highly; that songwriters will smile wryly as it will seem like a song it was within their scope to make; but is one of those things that only seems obvious, to everyone but the creator(s),…afterwards!

      • Chris Bellis

        GHF Don’t you think Norway is a bit derivative of this? Not that many voters will notice, but the juries might. How to write the perfect Eurovision song? Or perhaps it will be seen as one of those references for those in the know.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Maybe you’re right, Chris. The jury’s out on its chances!

          I’ve read elsewhere the same belief that Norway is derivative of this. If there is validity in that, or if that sticks, then that would dampen enthusiasm and its ranking. An absolutely shameless copycat theft.

          Personally, I find the two songs have different melodies and different vibes. I find Fuego puts me in mind of If Love was a Crime.

          I waver over my feelings on Norway’s chances.

          Sometimes I think: what a load of rubbish! Like watching a kid’s TV show presenter entertaining the Saturday morning viewers.

          The music video somewhat reinforces that perception. It has Alexander coming up with the song, figuring the song out as he goes, as he seeks to answer a letter from a young girl who is asking his advice on writing a song.

          But Rybak’s personality, the fun, catchy vibe, and the audience participation levels make Norway’s entry a bigger fish than it has any right to be.

  • Phil

    I still love Macedonia. I mean, I know it’s not going to win in a million years, but I think it might sneak into the final.

    Currently thinking this’ll be the year the Aussies win to be honest. It’s got that singing over the credits vibe.

  • markovs

    UK currently 4.3 on betfair to finish last

  • Those look like decent odds to me…..it’s hard to fashion such an equally obvious case for a last place finish for any other song, barring a truly surprising qualification such as an Ireland or Iceland….just to make clear, I’m not one of those UK self-haters that always attacks the national entry, no matter what. I did have an (unsuccessful) nibble on Lucie Jones last year to make the top ten once I saw the staging. Surie has a great upbeat personality and she will give it lots of wellie, but the song, IMO, is beyond redemption.

  • What’s wrong with the song? It’s no worse than We Got Love. I love Jess but that’s as equally written by committee as Storm is, yet people on here were calling it out as the winner at one point.

    I actually think as more diplomats are sent packing around Europe there’s a strong case for Russia NQ. Now that really is a shit song, and I think people will see through “the poor disabled girl who wasn’t allowed to play by those nasty Ukrainians last year” smokescreen.

    However, there’s a lot of countries in Eurovision that still have their head firmly up the arse of Russia and they may well punish the UK for May’s tough stance.

    • seattlesque

      When a song is already heading for 0 points because (no matter how entertaining the singer) it’s just an incredibly drab composition, then it’s difficult to imagine what punishment for political reasons would look like.

    • eurovicious

      Russia will do as well as it usually does in years when it isn’t really trying (let’s say lower top 10), but not because countries (which do not have monolithic populaces) “have their head firmly up the arse of Russia”. This is as bad as the Woganese you decry, and people blaming our poor results since 2003 on things like Iraq etc. No-one cares. Go round the centre of Stoke on Trent or Pordenone or Györ or Durrës and ask 100 people out doing their shopping what they think about the expulsion of Russian diplomats. No-one is going to be not voting for Surie at Eurovision to punish Theresa May – they’re going to be not voting for her because they won’t remember it 3 minutes later. What seattlesque said. Viewing Eurovision through wonk-esque glasses is pointless when Russia still almost won in 2015 and ran away with the televote in 2016 despite having invaded two other participating countries in the preceding decade. There is no ill feeling towards or conspiracy towards Britain, we just keep getting Eurovision wrong. I don’t wanna say we keep sending rubbish, because actually Engelbert’s song was excellent in 2012, but we haven’t really tried to succeed since Jade (and she did!).

      We Got Love and X My Heart are both way better than Storm, which is adequate but too derivate and lacking in energy. It’s nice, but doesn’t aim for anything more than nice, whereas We Got Love and X My Heart are more empowering and uplifting and inspire a broader set of emotions. The whole genre of feel-good mainstream pop to which they all belong isn’t really my cup of tea, but Azerbaijan and Australia do a highly competent job of it.

    • James, re We Got Love V Storm: I think it’s down to the fact that, even within the non-groundbreaking-familiar-sounding-pop genre, there’s still great songs and meh songs.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      It’s a funny song is Storm.

      I think it’s meant to be a dance track, but it’s not a song I feel like dancing to.

      (In alphabetical order) Australia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Finland and Poland provide more danceable numbers.

      The Czech Republic and Sweden are also have more danceable tracks

      Malta and Slovenia are I believe the worst offenders for offering entries which offer the illusion of being danceable but actualy aren’t.

      I think that the hypnotic French song could easily be converted into an ace dance track. If there’s a hidden dance number this year I’d suggest it’s Mercy.

  • If we come last I will run naked through the EuroClub after the show.

  • Who wants to play a game? In the utterly tedious wait for the semi-final running orders, why don’t we all try and guess who’s going to get the opening and closing slots for each half? I’ll go first.

    Semi-final 1.

    #1 – Azerbaijan – X My Heart
    #10 – Czech Republic – Lie To Me

    #11 – Croatia – Crazy
    #19 – FYR Macedonia – Lost And Found

    Semi-final 2.

    #1 – Moldova – My Lucky Day
    #9 – Australia – #We Got Love

    #10 – Georgia – For You
    #18 – Hungary – Viszlát nyár

    • Shai

      There is a possibility that they will let Israel to open semi 1.
      That way they can minimize the damage it can cause to songs around it however this is quite unusual for a favourite, though they did it with Sweden last year.

      I am very bad in guessing those things so won’t try

    • @Danyal589

      Semi-final 1.

      #1 – Israel – Toy
      #10 – Czech Republic – Lie To Me

      #11 – Greece – Oneiro mou
      #19 – Finland– Monsters

      Semi-final 2.

      #1 – Moldova – My Lucky Day
      #9 – Norway – That’s How You Write A Song

      #10 – Georgia – For You
      #18 – Hungary – Viszlát nyár

    • I don’t know about other slots but I think these countries are likely to get the pimp slots.

      Semi-final 1.
      #19 – Cyprus – Fuego

      Semi-final 2.
      #18 – Hungary – Viszlát nyár

    • Hippo

      Semi 1
      1. Azerbaijan
      10. Estonia
      11. Ireland
      19. Finland

      Semi 2
      1. Moldova
      9. Norway
      10. Slovenia
      18. Ukraine

  • markovs

    Just throwing this out there. Israel are 1.08 to not qualify from the semi. A tenner wins 125.00 if she fails to qualify.

    Bear on mind we haven’t seen the stage show, it’s an incredibly tough semi, Israel have few natural allies, it’s been drawn 1st half and there are a lot of good songs in the 1st half so some must fail, the song could be classed as tacky or novelty and lose jury votes, the chicken noise, aggressive attitude and ‘stupid boy’ line could put the public off.

    Could this miss out??? Kate Ryan?)

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