London Eurovision Party 2018

We’re in the middle of Eurovision preview party season: Riga, London and Moscow last week will be followed by Tel Aviv tomorrow, then Amsterdam on Saturday and finally Madrid. A reminder that what transpires on a tiny stage in a small venue in front of excitable fans often has little bearing on the main event. The use of playback is reasonably prevalent in London, and this year was no exception. Judge for yourselves with the YouTube videos of the event organisers.

If there was a standout vocal performance, it came from Austria’s Cesar Sampson. Like the other acts singing without too much playback, he started off getting the sound mix right with engineers, but his rich voice was totally secure throughout. On this basis, he should be getting plenty of jury support with the radio-friendly ‘Nobody But You’ in that tricky first semi-final.

Australia’s Jessica Mauboy gets the next honourable mention – going for it without too much playback and risking the sound mix in her rendition of ‘We Got Love’. It wasn’t as note-perfect as Cesar, but no one sold their song better on the night. It was encouraging for those worried that her 2014 interval performance might be indicative of what we see in Lisbon.

Another one to put a ropey past performance behind her was Finalnd’s Saara Aalto, who was in fine voice and confident form with ‘Monsters’. She and Jessica got a big reception as both their songs are popular with fans. A worry for Saara in particular remains translating that into votes across the whole of Europe.

Bringing testosterone and charisma to the stage were Sweden’s Benjamin Ingrosso and Czechia’s Mikolas Josef. Both of them got the crowd singing portions of their songs, and looked very much at home. Mikolas seems very keen on the backpack and glasses being part of his geek-chic branding.

Another young male, Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaugnessy sounds very secure in his vocals, including the falsetto, and the semi-final draw has put him in the qualification mix. I wouldn’t completely discount Montenegro’s Vanja Radovanovic for the same reason in the second heat. I think ‘Inje’ is sluggish by Balkan ballad standards, but he had no problems with the vocals here.

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s Ieva Zasimauskaite charmed the crowd with her rendition of ‘When We’re Old’. She can’t be ruled out of qualification either, despite appearing in the nightmare first half of the bloodbath first semi. Switzerland’s Zibbz are later in the same heat, and it may have been easier to overcome sounds problems last Thursday than qualification in Lisbon.

A look through many of the songs in the second semi brings me out in a rash. Poland’s Gromee ft Lukas Meijer with ‘Light It Up’ is one of the blandest things in the contest, and Lukas doesn’t convince me live. Iceland’s Ari is a perfectly good singer but is lumbered with the dreadful ‘Our Choice’. And I can’t get into San Marino’s ‘Who We Are’ in an ironic way just because the rap part is reminiscent of The Spice Girls.

Given this poor competition, Denmark’s Rasmussen has much better chances of qualifying than I assumed when ‘Higher Ground’ won DMGP. There were moments, such as at the key change, when he strongly relied on playback, so not too much should be read into his performance last Thursday.

That’s even more true of Bulgaria’s Equinox, who were live in the verses, but relying almost wholly on playback with the crucial harmonies in the rest of ‘Bones’. It turns out the two African-Americans are singing one verse each, and the Bulgarian singers looked like window dressing in this cramped environment. It’ll be intriguing to see how this comes together in Lisbon.

Moving onto the automatic qualifiers, fan favourite France got a predictably big response for ‘Mercy’, which they performed in French and English. The light-flashing hand signal allowed for excellent interaction with the crowd. Michael Schulte was better here than in the German national final though still not totally secure in the higher register for ‘You Let Me Walk Alone’.

Spain’s Alfred and Amaia are very cute together. I’m currently assuming they will keep the piano and guitar props until the climax of ‘Tu Cancion’ when they will come together. That has to be carefully handled, as it can look awkward and reminds everyone the instruments weren’t being played live in the first place. The United Kingdom’s SuRie finished the night off, but I think ‘Storm’ has lost even more impact with its revamp.

Do continue to let us know your thoughts of the preview party performances, and any other topics for discussion.

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218 comments to London Eurovision Party 2018

  • Is there a chance France may switch between English and French come the contest would anybody know?

  • @Danyal589

    First 2 results from eurojury encouraging for czechia

  • Dan

    Rehearsal of Netta @ Israel Calling

  • Showlad

    Netta fantastic live! She’s gonna nail this in Lisbon. Really really good – and what a charismatic perfomer and this is just a soundcheck!

  • Showlad

    Both taken down – you’ll get the real thing 2mo 😉

    • eurovicious

      That’s not a good live vocal.

      • Victor

        Excuse me? It’s just a soundcheck lol. This is so winning by a landslide this year 🙂

      • Showlad

        It’s a very good vocal when just walking about getting sound levels…c’mon EV 😉
        Even Mikolas – regarded highly by many vocally – isn’t even trying during the ESC parties (never mind a soundcheck) – so for a soundcheck this shows she has all the tools in her bag required imho.
        I also like very much that she’s holding the mic to get a ‘funky’ sound for the chicken noises, which would seem to suggest that the actual chicken moves will be left to her dancers (where they are relevant and appropriate).

  • Andy

    Looks like she will win. Good live performance! Very confident in stage. Best Charisma

  • Please tell me others just watched that.

    That was not a Eurovision winner.

    • Dan

      She’ll do better than Francesco. But yes, not a winner.
      Belgium was also really disappointing. Could be a shock NQ if she doesn’t improve. Lithuania or Belarus migh sneak into the final instead.
      Australia was the highlight of the night. Great singer, full of energy. A top 10 finish is also reachable for Moldova, good performers.

      • Who wins then? Toy will look very different, and more like the video, with dancers and close ups of Netta.

        • Dan

          I think Netta is too aggressive and it might put off some of the juries and viewers.
          I don’t think there is one entry that stands out more than the others at the moment. But my gut-feeling says Norway. Far more accessible than Toy and charismatic singer.

          • Do you think Norway can win semi-final 2 from the opening slot? It’s extremely rare that anyone even makes the Top 3 in the televote from #1, though if anyone can do that, it’s probably Rybak. Sweden 2016 was 4th in the televote from #1, as was Armenia 2014.

            Surely Norway will be beaten for the semi win by Australia and/or Sweden, so if it is to win Eurovision, it would likely have to do so by ‘doing a Jamala’ and doing so without winning the semi. I have my fingers crossed for a second half draw in the final for Rybak though. He would also benefit from Belarus and/or Russia and/or Azerbaijan not making the final, with his Belarusian (sp?) heritage.

          • John

            I agree with all of this. Indeed all three may in fact not make the final.

          • Dan

            Australia will most likely win her SF but Norway won’t be far behind IMO. Keep in mind that “That's How You Write a Song” will be the 1500th song to be performed at Eurovision. I don’t know if there’ll be a lot of communication about this.

            And even if he doesn’t win the SF, I expect the prpducers to give him a good slot anyway – but a second half slot would be better of course.

            I think that there could be a huge gap between the jury and public votes this year if nothing really standouts, and that might be enough to secure a second for Ryback. The song has unniversal appeal.
            In addition, he’s one of the most memorable winners in the past two decades, so that might help him in his race to victory.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Actually watching Netta back I think she performed well didn’t like her gold dress looked a bit silly.Belgium same story as last year big hopes on the vocal then a big drift in the betting market. There are worries about a lot in the top ten, but finding a dark horse this year is difficult. Jessica takes a while to warm up but I think she quite up to the job.

  • Looks strange without the dancers but I’m thinking the power of the tune and the power of Netta’s personality are still there and would have the same effect on first time viewers even in this poor pre-party production.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Just watched Netta’s outdoor stage performance at Israel Calling.

    She was great, I thought.

    Very good vocals, handled everything with aplomb, put on a good show.

    Of course, there are 5 different costumes featured in the Toy music video, which Netta performs as and makes feels like 5 different characters. Naturally, that was missing tonight. Who knows what the solution to that will be in Portugal?

    Part of the magic of the music video is the amount of close-ups on Netta’s face. Her expressions are gold dust. That element was inevitably and understandably lost tonight. On that score, I expect normal service will be resumed in Lisbon. She’s a great mover in many ways up close; has a lack of movement range and skill from a distance. Still, be it from miles away or up close, her stage presence is magnetic and magnificent. She’s the palpable epicentre of the party.

    It’s the lyrics of the song combined with some of the performer’s mimicry sounds that can sometimes lend that feel of aggression. Netta’s charisma, expressions and likeability, evident in spades in close ups, place other aspects in the shade. The “I will teach ya”, “stupid boy”, “you’re stupid”, and “you’re a (chicken)” were more evident tonight?

    It looked to me like she was striding about and slaying in the role of homecoming Queen tonight. In that respect, she was deservedly enjoying herself.

  • About Israel Calling performances, I am focusing on the known studio versions:

    Ireland: Sleepiness personified, both song and performer. Was he whispering instead of singing?

    Austria: Vocally very adequate and great dress sense but needs to become more engaged.

    Georgia: Very rousing but they look pretty uncool together

    Belgium: That was pretty bad. Her voice cracked in every important note. She was either having a really bad day or the song is not for her.

    Azerbaijan: She is very boring and frankly not as strong a singer as she is touted to be. This can very well be their first NQ.

    Australia: Very lively performer, professional. She has fully justified her position with the bookies.

    Czechia: He will put Lisbon on fire for sure. His self-confidence is fully justified without being cocky in the slightest.

    Israel: Very impressive in the verses but the chorus seemed to have lost its punch, as if she sacrificed the two main lines to get everything else right (they sounded as if she shouted them rather than sang them). I have no idea how they are going to stage this, but this outfit is probably a wrong choice. From the bridge onwards she is fantastic – full party mode bringing the house down.

    About the rest:

    Armenia: Sevak brings a lot of manliness and class and he is simply a great singer. I can’t see him not qualifying ATM.

    Montenegro: Wow! Another very strong and professional live.

    Belarus: I find the new version very boring. He sounds better and they seem to have added a lot of backing vocals but it doesn’t sound special to me anymore.

    France: I am sorry, but she can’t sell this. It sounds whiney and self-important at the same time. Contrast it with how well Surie is selling her own song (which like Belarus, did not improve but deteriorate after the revamp). But of course the fans went wild about it…

    Spain: They looked and sounded great together. There was spark and “acting” there – he has learned to look much more confident on stage and play the role. Not writing this one off.

    Moldova: Much better without the mirrors and their live singing is very strong. This had energy and ethnic kookiness galore. They are qualifying.

    Denmark: This song demands much more than he can give to it…

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Spotted this on Rob Furber’s twitter feed.

    !’ve watched it 3 times back to back already!

  • Showlad

    Netta and Toy: live review. OK like pretty much all of you I eagerly waited to view the favourite’s first live performance. Putting personal preferences aside (I think the girl’s a super talent) I have a very healthy book this ESC inc Isr Cze Est and Bul – so I am hoping I can give us all a measured view. Firstly for a better quality, more ‘close ups’ video the full show is on the Israel Calling Facebook page (Netta on at 2.20) https://www.facebook.com/IsraelCalling/
    OK the initial setting up of your looper and problems with the mic stand lol and a stage hand rushing on to your aid will not be a Lisbon requirement and Netta can walk on relaxed and focused.
    Vocally the key hooks and unusual sounds evident on the recorded track were emulated brilliantly. Also all high, strenuous notes easily achieved. Crucially the 30 second looper intro element is indeed part of the live song and this will play huge onstage at Lisbon and a very very smart move. So we’ll have camera zooms in to Netta in Lisbon I imagine for the intro and then the song opens out.
    As the live song progressed Netta was ‘covering all bases’ too much doing the dance moves, getting the crowd involved etc and this ‘one woman does the whole show’ did result in the odd duff or throwaway note. However, with her dancers and (I imagine) backing vocalists on stage I envision a still charismatic but more calm and contained lead vocals performance on the Lisbon stage with the dancers providing the dance show and strength in the fleshed out stage show and backing vocals giving Netta some breathing room.
    Netta needs to tail back and tick the key boxes that count more strongly but for a one woman, dancerless and no backing vocals 1st live show I felt overwhelmingly that all the ingredients to win are clearly there. Netta and the Israel team are smart cookies and with Israel reportedly wanting the win very badly I feel tonight will be a curve they will learn from and implement.
    On the clear plusses she is hugely charismatic – the public and much of the juries – I feel will love her. Comparing to the competition the (now) 2nd fav on the exchange, Mikolas, was supposedly a bit poorly, but had only a fraction of Netta’s onstage presence and undoubtedly vocally Netta was stronger. Oz was good but the song just isn’t good enough and I don’t think Eastern Europe will warm much to the lovely Jessica in the televote. Estonia will do well but not win. Bul with a great stage show will do very well with juries but relatively poorly absolutely no doubt with the public (don’t believe the Bul hype). Dark horses Nor and NL loom ever large.
    So with a good and focused show Isr is winning the public vote by quite some way and I think will get enough to get over the finish line from the juries. If she slips then get your bags packed for either Prague, Amsterdam or Oslo with Belgrade and Tallinn only on the horizon as 2019 destinations with an Az 2011 type outcome.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I have a question for Daniel, and I am very curious how professional betters like him and Rob, Tim, Gavster look at this: How are you predicting the televote properly at this stage? And which countries do you think will be the heavy televote hitters and at the same time the big jury failures?

    To answer that question a bit more easily, I have actually made a list of such recent entries:

    –> POLAND 2014:
    TELEVOTING 05th & JURY 23rd (running order #09)

    –> SWITZERLAND 2014:
    TELEVOTING 07th & JURY 22nd (running order #20)

    –> ROMANIA 2014:
    TELEVOTING 09th & JURY 17th (running order #06)

    –> ESTONIA 2015:
    TELEVOTING 05th & JURY 11th (running order #04)

    –> ALBANIA 2015:
    TELEVOTING 09th & JURY 26th (running order #25)

    –> SERBIA 2015:
    TELEVOTING 10th & JURY 24th (running order #08)

    –> POLAND 2016:
    TELEVOTING 03rd & JURY 25th (running order #12)

    –> AUSTRIA 2016:
    TELEVOTING 08th & JURY 24th (running order #24)

    –> SERBIA 2016:
    TELEVOTING 11th & JURY 23rd (running order #15)

    –> ROMANIA 2017:
    TELEVOTING 05th & JURY 15th (running order #20)

    –> HUNGARY 2017:
    TELEVOTING 07th & JURY 17th (running order #08)

    –> CROATIA 2017:
    TELEVOTING 09th & JURY 22nd (running order #08)
    Those are the entries that were tremendously helped by televoting audiences, but suffered with the juries (usually outside TOP 10 with juries).

    Some conclusions I made:

    A. 7 of these 12 entries had a running order in the 1st half of the show.

    B. 8 of these 12 entries were very feelgood (up-tempo, simple, easy, happy).

    C. 3 countries of this list were from the Balkan, other 7 were former Soviet nations (Hungary, Poland, Romania, Albania) or very central European nations.

    D. only 2 of these list were ‘classic’ Eurovision nations (Switzerland and Austria).

    E. Most of these ‘televoting’ entries had something quite….’remarkable’ about its staging or song….to say the least. The good old…gimmicks perhaps:
    –> Big titties for Poland 2014,
    –> Cute Rybak-esque violinplayer for Switzerland 2014,
    –> A toilet seat piano for Romania 2014 + some augmented reality,
    –> Sudden disappearance of the male singer for Estonia 2015,
    –> A fat woman dancing like a cow for Serbia 2015,
    –> Long-haired androgynous guy for Poland 2016,
    –> A French-language flower-y song for Austria 2016,
    –> Guy on a shooting canon for Romania 2017,
    –> Mating ritual for Hungary 2017,
    –> A fat guy with schizofrenic clothes for Croatia 2017.

    So coming back to my initial question, how are people within the betting market try to ‘find’ such entries? And which countries this year could be added to above list? Is your betting portfolio also adjusted to these kind of predictions (terrific with televoting, not so with juries)?

    If you ask me, I think these countries could do well with televoting, and suffer more with juries:
    –> BELARUS
    –> BULGARIA
    –> FINLAND
    –> SERBIA
    –> MOLDOVA
    –> THE NETHERLANDS
    –> SLOVENIA

    All other countries to me will do well enough with juries (or will score very low with both televoters and juries).

  • Boki

    Interesting that eurojury is not really rating Bulgaria which is percieved to be jury friendly…

  • Showlad

    Hi Dan. I don’t think Oz is winning Semi 2. Will be Nor or NL imho 😉

  • Ben Cook

    Sadly looks like Belgium and Macedonia are toast, if those vocal performances in Israel are anything to go by.

  • beckettfitz

    So I showed the top 5 entries in the betting odds to a relative of mine:

    This is her ranking:

    Czech Republic
    Israel
    Australia
    Estonia
    Bulgaria

    Notes:

    – Czech guy has star power and its a contemporary song.
    – Israel song is good but not fond of the chicken noises. A bit too aggressive and the “stupid boy” lyric can seem like its goading certain people. She still sees it winning.
    – Did not like Estonia or Bulgaria with Bulgaria being too dark and creepy and Estonia with a nothing song.
    – Australia would be a “safe” choice.

    With the addition of a few other songs I chose, this is her overall top 11 song ranking:

    Netherlands – really likes the artist and song.
    Czech Republic
    Israel
    Ireland
    France
    Belgium
    Australia
    Spain
    Estonia
    Norway
    Bulgaria

    For reference, her top 2 of the betting odds lasted year were:

    Portugal
    Bulgaria

    She didn’t get Italy at all and didn’t see a winner in it.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Yet another female friend and / or relative of a sofabet community member who loves Mikolas and his song, and also rates Israel highly. (The 3 females I’ve shown clips too all loved Mikolas and got and rated Netta highly.)

      I’ve fluctuated on his appeal for a while, but the tipping point for me on Mikolas is the positive female feedback reports. I suspect he might prove to be a goofy dancer but that might serve to make him more approachable and available, in female eyes.

      A fair lad summary?

      Czech – wannabe funky, very handsome, faux geeky lad.
      Sweden – super cool, nice retro dancer lad.
      Norway – non-threatening, very boyishly handsome, easy charm funster and party starter (with a playing age of a) lad.
      Ukraine – intense energy, young Robbie, blazing eyed lad.
      Iceland – cheesy, nice Daniel O’Donnell wannabe lad. (I consistently mistake him as representing Ireland.)
      Ireland – older, savvier brother of the Icelandic lad.
      Belarus – handsome, moody lad with a slight stoner vibe. Detests the Norwegian lad.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I’m sort of pleased to hear someone mention that they can envision there could be an issue with the Toy lyrics and sounds.

        As much I genuinely like Netta (I’ve watched interview footage of her – she’s a sweetie) and the song and video performance is knock it out of the ballpark stuff, some of the lyrics and goading rub me up the wrong way.

        Going way back to songs like Gwen Guthrie’s Ain’t Nothing Going On But The Rent and TLC’s No Scrubs – they’re songs I like, can enjoy and accept as social commentary or socio-economic commentary even.

        In these safe space, hate crime heavy days it feels jarring to me that gender specific bashing can be passed off and legitimised as being part and parcel of specific gender empowerment.

        But if anyone has the comedic performance skills and likeability to pull it off, it probably is Netta. I literally couldn’t think of a better artist to triumph with Toy.

  • A new live performance from Waylon:

    • John

      Its like some bizarre karaoke booth from the future. Waylon can sing it in his sleep but like many this will live or die on the energy of the staging.

      Speaking of, some are writing off Netta now, some coronating her.

      Last year we crowned Gabbani on his music video, but then they didnt bring the music video to the stage. If Israel want a win theyll need to.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        “Its like some bizarre karaoke booth from the future.”

        That line’s killing me! 😀

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        There’s what might prove an insurmountable issue in trying to emulate the appeal of Netta’s video performance to the live performance stage.

        Part of the mad fun and mad skill of Toy is Netta inhabiting 5 distinct characters in 5 distinct costumes. It’s part of the wow factor of the fast-paced viewing experience and helps engender a near sensory overload on the part of the viewer.

        Spoiler alert! if you haven’t yet seen Paddington 2, stop here!

        I saw it last week. It’s an absolute blooming charmer of a film, in which Hugh Grant steals the show as a narcissistic “dazzling eyed” actor villain who is a master of disguise. There’s a stunner of a scene with him in his secret dressing room or HQ, where he converses playfully with the costumes of his crafted multiple identities.

        Netta will have more than enough to manage, more than most performers, on the stage, without trying to juggle any potential costume changes, which would surely be messy, distracting, futile and implausible anyhow. That’s already a diminished position or loss in translation.

      • Waylon’s got more energy there than his other performance. I like it. No idea how east Europe will like it.

        Gabbani had a weak tune, weak voice, and nobody knew what he was singing about.

        I used to think if there was a weak point with Israel it would be the staging but they’re using dancers, the same ones even, and those three dancers in the triangle formation looked really good. And that presumably means 2 backing singers to boost the chorus etc. I’ve never had a problem with the chicken etc as it’s a quirky, irreverent song (but with the “message” meme of recent ESCs covered).

        A Hebrew translation of what she said at the beginning of her Israel Calling performance included an apology that this performance would be nothing like what will happen in Lisbon. Which means nerves, and you could tell at the start, and I thought at that moment that that could be the new weak point. But a punchy song can push out nerves and she quickly started enjoying it. I suppose she had the nation’s eyes on her, the belle of the night, in pimp slot.

        I wonder if she’ll dare point the mike at the audience in Lisbon, as Tel Aviv. Probably not but the fans in the hall would know what to sing.

        • Showlad

          Hi Henry. I think Netta meant that this one woman show would be nothing like the Lisbon stage show will be with dancers and backing vox. Netta doesn’t need costume changes either. They just need (what we didn’t see and they probably already have) is Netta giving it big charisma focusing on her thang and not all the dancing and no support with a stand alone vocal. This will be fully fleshed out on Lisbon.
          She will be Top 3 and if brill will win if not Cze, Nor and NL are waiting in the wings.

          • Yes that’s what she meant but the fact that she needed to say it betrayed a bit of nerves. Maybe they liked that bit of chatting and it was her first public display of what seems a tricky song to sing.

    • Showlad

      Waylon confident as hell. Looking good (he wanted to lose some weight for Lisbon and looks like ha has). The consummate pro.

  • Here are the first 4 out of 5 “YLE’s De Eurovisa” preview shows from Finland:

    Heat 1 (8 countries):
    https://i.imgur.com/MeVjKo0.jpg

    Heat 2 (9 countries):
    https://i.imgur.com/5CF96YQ.jpg

    Heat 3 (9 countries):
    https://i.imgur.com/0iJKtjk.jpg

    Heat 4 (9 countries):
    https://i.imgur.com/OPGgfJT.jpg

    Summary so far, without Finland:

    TOP 7:
    39 POINTS: Israel
    33 POINTS: Georgia
    32 POINTS: Denmark
    32 POINTS: Austria
    29 POINTS: The Netherlands
    29 POINTS: Albania
    28 POINTS: Hungary

    BOTTOM 5
    13 POINTS: Lithuania
    11 POINTS: Estonia
    11 POINTS: Ukraine
    11 POINTS: Bulgaria
    05 POINTS: San Marino

    And quickly, Part 1 of the Icelandic preview show “Alla leið”:
    https://i.imgur.com/QTOknw8.jpg

  • I personally think she can work on her vocals. And here Sennek is mostly hitting the right notes. The problem I have with her is something else though. I think she doesn’t emote well. Her facial gestures are almost offputting, like she’s attending a funeral. Even a Bond-esque song like “A Matter Of Time” needs to be performed in a sympathic way. And I don’t see that here yet:

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Just watched a snippet recap of the acts at Israeli Calling.

    Immediate reactions in no particular ordering:

    Obvious winners from the evening:

    Austria: Microphone distortion / feedback issues? Still, seemed to be in fine voice. He’s really good. Good looking guy. Relaxed vibe. Looks at ease, alert and engaged on stage. Great fit with song.

    Armenia: Dang, that man can sang, can hold a note. Guy’s a powerhouse. Song probably more memorable in snippet form, I worry. Not as scary looking as in the music video.

    Lithuania: She looked gorgeous, felt heartfelt. Intimate. Still needs to learn to pronounce “old.”

    Moldova: This year’s…Moldova! In fine voice, all of them. Great chemistry. All of them are super cute, in different ways. A pity that Rybak is in this year’s ESC.

    Czech Republic: Immediate charisma, sounded good, raps nicely and distinctly. Despite the ridiculous, overdone “reverse” styling, he pulled it off with aplomb. No worries. He’s so handsome, he can get away it, even with his very limited repertoire of dance moves. Part of the point of the naff styling: disguise.

    Australia: Loses a bit of control in softer lower register. Can belt it out. Vocals not perfect. Oddly uneven – possibly suggestive of technical issues? She’s a cracking performer. Better live than even the music video performance suggested. Really likeable.

    France: She sounded really good, crowd seemed to be joining in, distinct, striking image. Her intensity works for her. He’s still doing and giving nowt. The weak link. Lyrical repetition an issue? Will attract virtue-seeking vote?

    Obvious losers from the evening:

    Belgium: Holy shit! That was atrocious. Is she unwell! Looked like a heroine addict and then there’s that straining, pained voice in evidence again. Can she actually sing? Desperate.

    San Marino: The song is a hot mess. Like a poor woman’s Macedonia. Variable vocals. Shouty at times, in attempts to whip up the crowd? I feel a bit sorry for the singers. What’s anyone supposed to do with that song.

    Possible winners:

    Ireland: Not bad. He’s a bit twee, perhaps overly gentle. But that gentility is not without charm.

    Spain: I like them. Drivel and sickeningly twee: but a bit of a guilty pleasure, anyway. We all need a beacon of happy bullshit in our lives, sometimes.

    Possible losers:

    Israel: Mixed feelings about this. Covered the positives and the context in another post above. In the snippet clip, it was more evident her vocals sounded off, and her styling was all wrong. Very tricky to assess. She sounded a bit breathy to these ears. Which is odd. Unless tension was restricting her vocals? Which might also explain the covering over-confident look?

    Possible winners and losers both:

    UK: She sounds awesome, she’s very likeable, but God that song is pathetic. Just so inane. I couldn’t imagine wanting to join in with that song or those lyrics.

    Belarus: He sounded pretty good, pronunciation’s improved, but the new styling is weird. Simultaneously aged him and made him look like a sleazeball / lounge lizard. Give the melancholia of the song perhaps production is dressing him older to lend him old-soul credibility. A mistake. Will dampen any core vote and just looks wrong.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Listened to the full Spanish stage performance. They sang beautifully.

      First time I’ve enjoyed Rasmussen’s Higher Ground.

      France were making steps to maximise the refugee message, crowd did join in, slightly samey? Her intensity combined with his serious posing run the risk of it all being a bit preachy?

      Azer vocals were in and out, like the song less, odd staging choices. Song is better suited to a studio version than a live performance?

      • Chris Bellis

        I keep saying it, and some people may shoot me down, but no way is Spain coming last this year. They do need to make the performance even less sugary though – so far they seem to be listening – perhaps they read this site. Both of them speak pretty good English so you never know.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I for one, agree Chris.

          There is nothing like them or their vibe in the entire ESC.

          They sing beautifully together.

          Real chemistry or just stage chemistry: they create a connection. It could be just a bond that has developed between them generated by the amount of flak they no doubt receive. But that’s still a perceivable bond.

          They will receive the HRV: the Hopeless Romantics Vote.

          • Chris: I don’t like it either, but I have been shocked by watching it swap positions with UK in the “to come last” betting market these last days. I see it 10th to 15th in the final….if they deliver vocally, some modest jury support and mid to decent range televote support. There’s a DEFINITE constituency for this kind of duet if they can exploit that.

        • PS…BETFAIR currently have Germany EVENS to come last, with UK at 21/10…….what is going on??

  • Andy

    Strange odds movement on bulgaria. Song nothing special, boring. How it can drop to 8 very strange

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Insider knowledge of an epic stage show or mirroring the strange odds movement of Russia’s You Are The Only One in 2016?

    • Chris Bellis

      The Bulgarian song is the one that has stuck in my head, but that means nothing for televotes. I think the odds reflect the fact that they will have some clever staging, and sheer determination. Last year I tipped BG for top 3 and won some money. However I didn’t know how far the jury would go to downvote Portugal etc. Assuming they work the same “magic”, which includes highly strategic voting in accordance with the wishes of the BG mafia state machinery, it will do well. I think definite qualifier from SF, top 10 for final, possibly higher.

  • Showlad

    Some think Bul team placing money and making hype. I have a good return on it – but it’s NOT winning (unless some weird scenario that Isr Cze Nor Est NL don’t deliver…)

  • Milton

    So Bulgaria are announcing a new member tomorrow – hilarious, they are now just one short of Stereo Kicks! Talk about the kitchen sink.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Confirmed that Eugent will be performing at Amsterdam! I’m expecting to see ripples in the market, after he finally unleashes that vocal instrument upon the ESC community on Saturday evening.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Absolutely delighted to see the impact I expected from Eugent on the Amsterdam stage.

      https://sofabet.com/2018/03/19/eurovision-2018-netta-barzilais-toy-recent-selections/#comment-88906

      Was delighted to see on Wiwibloggs that on the poll for who gave the best Amsterdam performance, Eugent is the clear winner.

      And intrigued that the headline of a Wiwiblogg article on his performance also uses a form of the verb “unleash”.

      If I get nothing else correct, and even if Albania fail to progress from their horror draw in their Group of Death Semi, at least I spotted the potential in a 1000/1 shot.

      What’s the ceiling on any Jury love?

      Any feelings anyone on where it will place with Juries in Semi 1?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    For anyone considering a bet or bets on the Grand National, and who is an existing bet365 account holder, do check their offer on tomorrow’s big race.

    On the majority of main win and EW markets on the National, they will give you half your stake or stakes back as CASH and are aiming to credit your account within 2 hours of bet placement(s).

    Do check the T&Cs and max total refund limits. But it’s a genuine offer to existing account holders.

    I know as I’ve just placed a couple of EW bets and half my stakes were back in my account within 15 minutes.

    This didn’t mean to sound like the advert it reads as!

    • John

      On the subject, to pay back the tipster who landed me Ian Poulter at the golf in Houston…

      Ahem. Regal Encore, Cap Redbeard and The Dutchman look great value.

    • markovs

      It’s a good offer but a lot of other bookies are offering 6 places instead of 5 and better odds. Definitely pays to shop around for National bets but keep B365 in mind.

  • Hippo

    Bulgaria was brief value after the song’s release, nothing since then has justified the odds shortening again and I’ve not seen anyone talking up it’s chances here or elsewhere. I wouldn’t put it beyond the delegation to be shortening the price given the shifty draw for final running order and jury points last year. I’ve been relatively positive about their chances to be fair but they’re not a great proposition right now.

  • Bulgaria’s odds have really trimmed today…on the basis of what? A decent London appearance, albeit with some backing track assistance? Someone I spoke to today claims an “in” with the Israeli delegation and reported a major fear: that Bulgaria’s song promises a “reveal” a Jamala “tree moment”, if you will….and that of all the songs that could beat Netta, this is the only one with the raw DNA to do it. (a Jungian darkness to light archetype..)

    I can’t say for sure whether such noises are what is driving the markets….it could be pure “BOT” tendencies a la Russia 2016 and Sergey…..but there is definitely something cooking out there…don’t expect the “reveal” in Amsterdam tomorrow….if it happens at all, it will be May 4th/5th on first rehearsal….

    • 3rd May…first BULGARIA outing

    • John

      To be fair, Bulgaria’s song is so esoteric and arthouse that they could full on levitate on stage like celestial bodies (or rockets docking, oo-er) and they still may not win.

      Mind you I said Jamala was too offbeat.

      • Chris Bellis

        Good comparison John. Loads of people were impressed by Russia’s staging, but I thought that Jamala’s staging wasn’t far behind in terms of impact and cleverness. This is often not mentioned because of the message of the song, whereas the Russian entry didn’t really have a message, so all you could talk about was the performance and the staging. We will have to wait for BG. Will they come up with something special at the last moment? I expect they will.

    • eurovicious

      Right now I think Australia and Bulgaria are looking like more likely winners than Israel. Jessica’s charismatic and vocally strong live performances have quelled a lot of doubts, and I think Bulgaria is going to pull something amazing out of the bag staging-wise, along the lines of what Mark reports above.

  • Alpie

    what if Netta starts singing from the first slot at the grand final? Does she have any chance?

    • Chris Bellis

      Traditionally, no. First slot is the death slot. The song would have just had to scrape in the SF for TPTB to put it there. If it does well in the SF it will get a better position in the final.

      • meridian_child

        “The song would have just had to scrape in the SF for TPTB to put it there.”

        ‘What’s The Pressure’ finished 3rd with having only 13 points less than Jamala and was put first slot in the final.

        • Chris Bellis

          MC
          I’d forgotten that, so thanks for the reminder. There was a lot of prejudice against that song, which still got into the top ten despite everything, and also won me some money. I always rather liked it, and the performance was top notch. So prejudice plays a part. In which case “Toy” may well go on first. That would be interesting from a betting point of view.

        • Shai

          Although Belgium 2016 and Israel 2017 finished 3rd in their semi, they both ended up opening the final.
          The reason is very simple, they were never precieved as favourite to win and therefore could be sacrificed for the sake of the running order.

          A favourite song, will always get a better chances in the running order.

          • Chris Bellis

            Shai
            Israel 2017, another good example I’d forgotten. Looks as if TPTB don’t like them, it doesn’t matter where they came in the SF. Another theory to be re-written….

          • Shai

            Chris,
            Another thing regarding those 2 entries:they had already received help in the semi by placing in the pimp slot. The TPTB felt no obligations of assisting them any more.

            If Ukraine or Cyprus qualify this year and if one of them get a first half draw, I won’t be surprised if that entry ends up as opener for the final. In the case of Cyprus even more than Ukraine.

            Sometimes the running order feels like a series of rewards for favourite entries and punishments for the less favourite ones

    • Expect Israel to either win or finish 2nd in the 1st semi final….if it draws a “first half” berth in the final it will be 9-13 in the running order and if it draws 2nd half, expect 17th to 21st……that is on recent form of previous position allocations…….

  • Showlad

    Mark the rehearsal schedule is wrong and has got the semi’s mixed up…

  • PS…..Dan…Thanks….despite the HUGE LOGO “Eurovision Lisbon 2018” emblazoned at the top of the webpage eh??…..

  • Emelie fcom Madame Monsiuer is unwell tonight, SuRie from the United Kingdom will deputise.

  • I misread Mark’s post at first thinking “someone from the Bulgarian delegation” lol. OK so someone from the Israeli delegation thinks Bulgaria may have a tree moment. Well firstly that kind of thing has now been done. Secondly they won’t have a massive LCD landscape behind them because Lisbon isn’t doing it. And thirdly the song doesn’t have Jamala’s personalisation or intimacy.

    The price, as suggested above, is a result of promotional support. The second favourite is talked about and hyped more than the sixth favourite, where they suddenly came from. Therefore it is well worth an ambitious country or manager or label pushing their price down, as what happened with Jedward (1st time iirc). And that support can be withdrawn at any time as what happened with Ireland. You can tell it’s a false low price when the T10 market seriously lags the o/r as happened here.

    Sadly it’s a cheap form of promotion. I think of ESC as a large market, and it is in the RTV world, but not large enough to be manipulation free.

  • Showlad

    Netta VERY VERY strong 2nite in Amsterdam both vocally and charisma wise.She said, as we thought, just now is teaser and lots of surprises coming in Lisbon. If she delivers this is very much winning.Good vid footage from esckaz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN9MbV9wmAA

    • Ben Cook

      I’m trying to imagine how it’s going to be in Lisbon. If she’s got her looper is she just going to stand at it the whole time, whilst other girls dance awkwardly around her? Or is she going to start off there, come away from it, then return back to it everytime she does the chicken noises? I can just imagine it looking messy.

      At least she’s more than capable vocally.

    • Dan

      Not gonna lie, I think the whole thing looks like a freak show. I struggle to considerer this entry as a contender for the win when she’s dressed like a cheap Statue of Liberty. What’s going to be the surprise in Lisbon ? A chicken costume ? Her styling alone is off-putting.
      Her vocals are good, I’ll giver her that. But she’s way too aggressive on stage and it comes across as cringe. I can’t see the juries backing this.

      The videoclip is great but it’s going to be very difficult to replicate this on a big stage in Lisbon without being laughable. Sorry, but I still don’t understand how can Israel be so low. That’s just insane.

      • I don’t see her winning at all. I think anyone laying Israel might be on to something. I played it to my sisters who will watch the show and tolerate it but are nowhere near as crazy as me, and their reaction was “This is shit. How the fuck is it favourite?” Even without the language barrier Italy had last year, the whole thing just appears bizarre.

        And as others have said, her aggression will not work in her favour.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          There is the reigning repeat factor in that the entry with the knockout music video of the season’s ESC featuring an uber charismatic performer wearing a variety of fascinating, memorable costumes in a super colourful MTV standard production is the one trading as the dwarf priced favourite.

          The MVOC factor: The Music Video Odds Crashing factor.

          Or: the MVOS factor: Music Video Odds Skewing factor.

          Maybe when an ESC video features multiple scenes and multiple costumes and a level of fast paced changes between distinct characters, costumes and scenes it is wise to proceed with caution as to estimating the likelihood of success in replicating the video content’s complexities and multiplicities to a single live stage performance.

          Or: to highlight and dramatise one key element: Francesco was not one of triplets; nor is Netta one of quintuplets.

          I for one should do well to remember that while audio and visual elements combine in a music video and in a ESC stage performance: still, there’s worlds of difference ‘twixt them, and Eurovision is not the EMVC, not the Eurovision Music Video Contest. Although, if you look at the odds, often the betting market seems to be shaped as though it is.

          It’s further instructive to consider Sweden’s entry this year. Puts me slightly in mind of the control exerted by BGT’s Attraction.

    • eurovicious

      The more I see this live, the more I think it’s going to do an Occidentali’s Karma. OK, maybe not 6th, but it’s looking and sounding less and less like a winner to me. The studio version just doesn’t translate to live, and I don’t think it’s either televoter- or jury-friendly enough to win.

      • Good video. But I am unconvinced live.

        On the other hand, despite the enormous amount of money we pay in this country in order for the BBC to exist, our video appears positively budget. But – she’s knocked it out the park live.

  • Showlad

    The Bulgarian female vocalist is STILL miming…why why??

    • Chris Bellis

      They should get rid of her and replace her with KK, who is clearly the most talented of performers. Plus they’d then hoover up even more former USSR and diaspora votes.

    • Songfestivalwerk

      No surprise for me there. I have been to a ‘Veronica’ Concert in which Waylon performed much of his own discography as well as lots of covers. And again it shows how much of an amazing stage performer this guy is. His charisma, his vocals, his ‘clap with me’ gestures, his telegenic marvelling. Something ‘happens’ when he’s on stage, similar to Netta and Alexander Rybak. He just excells like them, but with a completely different music genre. This is such a dark horse for TOP 10 grand final. And not just 11th, 10th or 9th like OG3NE or Douwe Bob.

      • Showlad

        Without a doubt SFW – as I have often posted up NL is a possible winner and strong Top 5 candidate.

        • Dan

          I’m with you on that one Showlad.
          NL was really good yesterday – as expected. I think this has universal appeal unlike what most people think.

          • Songfestivalwerk

            The only thing that worries me is the jury score (based on the points that has been released so far by the Eurovoix.com EuroJury 2018. Could The Netherlands be a dark horse sleeper? A bit like Hungary 2017 and Poland 2016? Very bad to average jury vote and incredible good televote? Or is it because the studio version of Netherlands is rather unsympathetic and you actually have an entry here that only works when seeing live?

  • SuRie’s amazing performance of Mercy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ejva_QWEYc

    I have to now concede that if she had a better song we’d be in genuine contention for the top of the table.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Different footage of the same performance (better angle).

      She’s like Annie Lennox blended with Mary Poppins.

      Her pure spirit has a noticeable effect on Monsieur. Even Mr Moody looks lighter.

    • Chris Bellis

      Yes, best singer in our selection but with the worst song. Silly BBC.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        She shows up the trait of preachiness in Émilie’s delivery (who performs it very well), too.

        Émilie insists you care because she is committed to the importance and reality of the tale. She wants to provoke your social conscience; Surie makes you care because the timbre of her voice and delicate body language inform you she cares. She sort of cradles little Mercy and holds her close.

      • wef

        @Chris Bellis…. absolutely spot on. I know we’re trying to be a bit dispassionate but I can’t help it; I want the UK to do well. We seem to be at the stage where we are getting good performers over the last two years but disappointing songs- How can this be? Truthfully, how tough is it for the BBC to get a few decent songs written? Personally I think we need to go back to the early 90s format; pick a singer and then write a number of songs for them. The other option is to go properly down the BBC Introducing route. Pick 6 new artist, ask them to write a song and take it form their. At least we’d get some variety and potentially some originality.

        Any thoughts?

        • Chris Bellis

          wef – that makes a lot of sense. The last time we did ok was when we took it seriously, got Andrew Lloyd Webber to write it and chose a good singer to sing it. This year it’s a waste of a good performer.

          • I agree that the show is now finding solid performers. Lucie was out the park as far as I’m concerned (her performance of Maureen in Rent delivered rave reviews) – and let’s be honest, when was the last time we saw a former UK entrant be able to be welcomed “On the Circuit” (at EYD singing with Mans and then at the London party) a year on with completely open arms? SuRie has demonstrated she’s a true ambassador for the contest, loads of promo, loads of social media, did Israel Calling (which Lucie didn’t, I’m assuming due to Rent) and then came in and depped for France in an incredibly professional manner. I know not everyone is mad about the song (I think it works better live than in-studio – I wasn’t sold whatsoever until Brighton) but we should be encouraging the BBC to find people who embrace the show to the levels Lucie and SuRie have.

            I wouldn’t be averse to her coming back for a second go.

    • Songfestivalwerk

      I wouldn’t rule out a low placing on the left hand side of the scoreboard for the UK again. The song really isn’t that bad. And I listen to it frequently. Perhaps we can agree that SuRie is as amazing as other ‘charisma bombs’, like Alexander Rybak, Netta, Mikolas, Waylon.

      • Phil

        I think the answer is no, personally, but does anyone think Syria could do anything to change the UK’s fortunes either way, however slight? I don’t expect any votes from Russia but we might pick up a bit of good will from other countries. Just a thought.

        • Well, France are in bed with us on this one, so it’ll be interesting to watch, especially as they’ve got a song about ‘fugees. I’m still convinced the behaviour and alleged behaviour of Russia may swing us – which way remains to be seen.

    • James

      Am I the only one who doesn’t actually rate SuRie as a performer? To me she just sounds a bit shrill there and she’s not getting the passion of the song across at all. I felt the same about her in EYD, a friend of mine even texted me to say she was “incredible” but she hit some horrendous bum notes in that performance. I just don’t see her in anywhere near the same league as Netta, Waylon et al.

  • Showlad

    Hi Daniel ;D Are we getting a Israel Calling/Amsterdam overiew article soon? Look forward to it 😉

    • Chris Bellis

      I’ll second that. I look forward to Daniel’s insights. Essential reading for punters. I wish there was something as good for the Grand National. Just bet EW on two horses and both pulled up when they were ahead. Always makes me think there’s been some funny business. Eurovision has its fixes but nothing like so bad as in horse racing.

    • Thanks for the kind words, guys. I was at the Amsterdam event last night and a write-up will appear in the next few days.

  • Showlad

    Thanks Daniel. Think we need our next fix sooner than later if you can – and then let us pick the bones 😀

  • Showlad

    Not buying into Bulgaria market ‘exchanges’ (whether generated by their team as some suspect or not). I will get a decent return if they come in so can speak freely – but it’s NOT winning whether there is a great stage show in Lisbon or not. This couldn’t tie 1944’s shoe laces – which was dark yet superb and had a strong single focus on the amazing Jamala.
    Last night in Amsterdam Kristian was the strongest link by far onstage for them as a guest vocalist (he may well win ESC one day) and he’s not even in the fekin’ line up! Still loads of backing vox on track too and I supect they know this ‘motley crew’ are not delivering for the win that they are so desparate for. Why on earth ship in last year’s runner up then? For more publicity in a sinking ship that’s why imho…

    • Chris Bellis

      Got to be correct Showlad. A miming girl and a brilliant KK. Something weird going on there. Mind you, the same might be said of Surie doing “Merci”. Couldn’t we swap songs with France?

    • Dan

      Vocals shouldn’t be a problem. They posted a short video of themselves rehearsing a few days ago. And it sounded great. The high note at the end is done by a female backing vocalist.
      What concerns me the most is the staging right now. It will make it or break it. I think the staging concept is interesting but it could easily look messy on the big stage in Lisbon.

      But considering the high chances of failure, Bulgaria seems way too low at the moment IMO.

  • Surie should jump ship….and we can get Lulu or Bonnie Tyler in to do “Storm”…..or Mary Hopkin even? Come to think of it, Olivia NJ might also be free….??!

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Olivia NJ!

    Heart sighs.

  • Dan

    Norway’s Eurovision preview show
    https://s31.postimg.cc/nqdij0lob/deef.png

    1. Finland– 75 points
    Total jury: 44
    Total public: 31 (1, 8, 10, 12)

    2. Israel – 72 points
    Total Jury: 40
    Total Public: 32 (7, 5, 10, 10)

    3. Denmark – 66 points
    Total Jury: 36
    Total Public: 30 (3, 7, 8, 12)

    4. Estonia 65 points
    Total Jury: 21
    Total Public: 44 (12, 12, 12, 8)

    5. Belgium – 57 points
    Total jury: 24
    Total public: 33 (7, 7, 7, 12)

    6. Hungary – 55 points
    Total jury: 33
    Total public: 22 (1, 3, 6, 12)

    7. Russia – 42 points
    Total jury: 15
    Total public: 27 (8, 6, 6, 7)

    8. United Kingdom – 39 points
    Total jury: 23
    Total public: 16 (2, 3, 4, 7)

    9. Poland – 31 points
    Total jury: 13
    Total public: 18 (1, 2, 7, 8)

    10. Armenia – 27 points
    Total jury: 17
    Total public: 10 (1, 2, 3, 4)

    Note : Estonia really strong with the public but struggle with the jury.

    • Tim B

      “Estonia really strong with the public but struggle with the jury”.

      This is what will happen with Estonia in the real thing. Top 5? No way. Top 10? Maaaayyybeeeee!

      • Songfestivalwerk

        Could be. But it could also be an OK-is jury vote for Estonia, like Belgium 2017 (10th) and a better televote, like Belgium 2017 (4th, with a big gap to the TOP 2 televote that year).

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Bloody Hell Wow!

    If she performed this where would she Finnish?

    • Chris Bellis

      Saara has improved with each performance. I think some of us were writing her off too soon.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I was one of us doing that.

        I’ve always loved the song in music video form (I’ve previously stated it, on here, as in my opinion the very best of the dance tracks) but I hadn’t found her, Saara, appealing nor had anyone I know.

        Watching the Amsterdam performance, I seriously wondered if Poli Genova has been mentoring all-new smiley and playful Saara on her delivery. That one-side shaved haircut even looks to be a nod.

        Styling is improved from that Day-Glo lollipop number she sported in the NF, not having to watch and listen to those woeful interjections from those backing singers-dancers was also a boon, as was the non-feature of that wild and blocking flagography also from the NF performance.

        She’s playing against type and I would like to see a performance featuring close-ups and what must be a new stage show before being converted.

        • But dear Guildo. That makes semi-final #1 an even more deadlier bloodbath :-/.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Yes Gert, sadly there’s going to be some deserving entries squeezed out and packing their bags to catch an early flight home!

            Just combining thoughts: if Saara truly has learnt from studying Poli, then I wonder if Émilie’s sickness and non-attendance will prove a lucky blessing for the French team, as SuRie has shown the key to performing Mercy in a compassionate manner.

            For anyone who’s seen Surie’s choices it will be interesting to watch Émilie’s next performance.

  • After seeing some key stand-out performances from yesterday, for example Albania, Netherlands, and indeed Finland, I am starting to wonder if this time around Belgium could be such a victim. I love the song and I play it a lot. But as we also saw yesterday during EiC Sennek simply isn’t a ‘charm bomb’. She indeed has trouble singing and you can hear her wobly notes. Her facial gestures make her even less appealing. So I am really starting to leave this one out, and instead have Albania in.

    • eurovicious

      There have been a number of unexpected “dour ballad” casualties in recent years – Moran Mazor, Axel Hirsoux and Norma John. I rightly went against the grain on the first two when everyone had them as nailed-on qualifiers, but I loved Blackbird so much I couldn’t countenance it meeting the same fate, yet it did. So yeah, Sennek is absolutely one to keep an eye on in that regard this year. (I also have Albania in.)

  • Showlad

    Listened into Saara guys. Softened and more relaxed but sorry there are many howler notes and it’s so screamy, shouty and almost musical theatre long note delivery at points – there is no way this is troubling the judge…

  • markovs

    Blackbird was a weird one. I loved it pre contest and played it loads but on the night of the semi final it came across as a bit long and boring. After the middle 8 break it lost all focus and just drifted to the end.Wasn’t surprised at all it was a NQ and did have a nice lay bet at the time.
    Monsters could be borderline this year. I’m a neutral as far as Saara us concerned so maybe more objective? Song is fine but generic, I quite enjoy it, vocals are improving but not perfect which could be a problem and staging will be the decider for qualification I think. Currently I have as NQ.

    I’m equally as ambivalent about Netta, never seen it heard of her before and I am trying to go along with my first judgement on First listen (before I knew the hype) which was that she is annoying, the first 30 secs of the song is annoying, and it ends up a decent song which should qualify and a good bet for top 10.
    Since then, the fanwank on both artists has gone mental and it’s hard to judge either song properly now. I’m still on a lay with Netta but as odds are slowly drifting I may cash it and guarantee a little profit before the big stuff begins.

    Ps, also on a lay with Belgium and Bulgaria (where is the song??)

  • Hippo

    Agree with Markovs on both Israel and Finland. With Saara, I don’t follow x factor much but it does appear some of her more vocal detractors might just be a little frosty due to losing money opposing her? I don’t care for her or Monsters but it has a much better chance at qualifying than a lot have given it credit for. It’s borderline.

    This does seem like a fanwanky year in general to be honest. Looking at the top 5 in Ogae currently we have a fierce female dance number leading the way, followed by a political song in French, and behind that two female singers with generic dance numbers known to the Fandom. The only one that doesn’t fit is the Czech Republic, which is interesting.
    Not to say that these polls are useless or doing well here rules them out of doing well in the actual competition but they don’t correlate that great and I don’t expect this year to either.

    • Jump to song start at 0.48. Do you really think “fierce” is the lasting impression?

      • markovs

        Does the average Saturday night non-fan viewer (over 90% of the audience) give a song 48 seconds before making a judgement?? I didn’t on First listen to Netta. I’m not saying it won’t win, for a second, but at the current odds it’s a big lay for me.

        • Read what I wrote again – “Jump to song start at 0.48”. The first 48 seconds was her chatting and being really sweet and humorous but shouldn’t bias as in Lisbon people will only hear the song.

      • Stoney

        Ive backed this to win. Surely she won’t be dressing like this on the big night. That would be an instant hindrance.

        • She’ll surely be wearing that or similar in Lisbon.
          I think it’s great for her to dress outlandishly, it is a punchy fun song. Verka had similar on his head.

        • Chris Bellis

          Glad you raised this Stoney. We’re all fairly right-on here, but on the night of voting, people are in their own homes and don’t have to submit to the same codes. I am against all forms of “body fascism”, including “dress code fascism”, but I wonder whether Netta has made the right choice (if indeed it was she who made it). However Henry is right – like Verka, this one will feature in all the “bizarre things that happened on Eurovision” videos. Might not help the voting though. Just a feeling based on what some of my female non-Eurovision-fan friends have said. They didn’t like the Eye Cue singer’s mini-skirt either. “Didn’t do anything for her”. There’s not much “uniting in sisterhood” round my way.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            I agree with Stoney. Just because she has incredible comedic performance skills doesn’t mean she should be dressed as a joke. She looked like someone you might see as part of a hen party on a Saturday night out in Brighton.

            Netta is naturally funny and charismatically memorable. She doesn’t need to go the route of the unfunny performer looking desperately for laughs, eg Timmy Mallett. That would be diminishing to her and the song’s message.

            It’s to her great credit that she delivered the Wonder Woman couplet with power and feeling, overcoming the undermining costume. That couplet’s power and sentiment needs to be protected and maximised. So long as that couplet is optimised any worry that the song will be perceived as a novelty song is minimised.

            A suggestion. As she spends the first minute behind the looper equipment, it’s a natural fit for her to wear the hooded DJ outfit from the music video.

            Plus: A) She’s very, very funny dressed as such. B) It emphasises she is the controller (or producer) of the music and performance and emphasises her skills while raising her stage status. C) It’s a fit with her producing the music while her on-stage dancers dance to it, creating a harmonious scene.

            After the DJ outfit has served its purpose, and the looper equipment settings are fixed, she could discard the DJ hooded top and reveal the classy looking red (with white flowers) outfit she also wears in the music video. She looks good in it, which means she probably feels good in it, and can make her way about the stage with confidence.

            Further, the Toy music video might be the best ESC music video ever? And after Semi Final 1 is broadcast, it is likely to become the most viewed ESC video ever? The look of the video is a winning formula and what viewers will be hoping for and expecting.

            Cleave as close as poss to that music video look, vibe and formula as possible, I say.

            Substantially deviate from it at your peril.

  • markovs

    Would Verka have come 2nd if there were juries back then?

    • I think she’ll do better with the juries than the public (but 1st on both) as it’s modern and original. Juries are in the industry and like to think of themselves either as contemporary or with current knowledge of it even if it’s not their type of music.

    • Dan

      She was 4-5th with the juries IIRC.

      • This is irrelevant as she didn’t sing Toy. However from Wiki in the final round the four jury groups gave her 4 x 12 and the five judges gave her 3 x 12 and 2 x 10 totalling 104 in 1st place.

        There must be downsides and risks, the staging maybe, but I think they’re likely to do a good job. Nerves maybe, but it’s the type of song that quickly disapates nerves and she seemed to soon be enjoying performing it. And also smiled a lot, hopefully will at Lisbon too. Her personality above in fact came out better than in the video.

  • markovs

    Again, I like Netta, but sorry, the song is hardly ‘current. It’s an old Jessie J song with chicken noises. Catchy and decent but dated. Nothing in the charts is like this now.

  • markovs

    I agree ‘in ESC terms’ but it ain’t current. I know you love it Henry and I think it’s fine but we have to be real here. The song is nothing special, Netta is. I would bet any money it has nowhere near the impact Loreen did after the contest. Toy us instantly recognisable as ESC whereas Euphoria was not. It possibly won’t even have the same impact as Heroes.

    • I suppose I do love it but because of that I like to hear arguments against it. I like the song but I agree it’s Netta that makes it into something special. But I think most of the recent ESC winners aren’t much on song alone, and they’re much less memorable on tune alone. And, like most of them, I don’t think Toy a timeless song, more a one off curio.

      People are often surprised Toy is an ESC entry. They say it’s because it has a very modern feel, so no point splitting hairs as to how current it is. Maybe because it incorporates some rap like delivery and lyrics. And there’s been nothing like it at ESC.

      But I think I know what you mean in that it’s not cool and is unlikely to start anything. It’s humorous fun (but with “message” pretensions for those who need such) like Gangnam Style. It gives good shock value – initial confusion and then enjoyment.

  • I did not really get a fulfilling answer to one of my earlier posts to be honest. I really would like to know how people in here think about this. So I repost (only this time) this question:

    How are you guys & gals predicting the televote properly at this stage? And which countries do you think will be the heavy televote hitters and at the same time the big jury failures?

    To answer that question a bit more easily, I have actually made a list of such recent entries:
    –> POLAND 2014:
    TELEVOTING 05th & JURY 23rd (running order #09)
    –> SWITZERLAND 2014:
    TELEVOTING 07th & JURY 22nd (running order #20)
    –> ROMANIA 2014:
    TELEVOTING 09th & JURY 17th (running order #06)
    –> ESTONIA 2015:
    TELEVOTING 05th & JURY 11th (running order #04)
    –> ALBANIA 2015:
    TELEVOTING 09th & JURY 26th (running order #25)
    –> SERBIA 2015:
    TELEVOTING 10th & JURY 24th (running order #08)
    –> POLAND 2016:
    TELEVOTING 03rd & JURY 25th (running order #12)
    –> AUSTRIA 2016:
    TELEVOTING 08th & JURY 24th (running order #24)
    –> SERBIA 2016:
    TELEVOTING 11th & JURY 23rd (running order #15)
    –> ROMANIA 2017:
    TELEVOTING 05th & JURY 15th (running order #20)
    –> HUNGARY 2017:
    TELEVOTING 07th & JURY 17th (running order #08)
    –> CROATIA 2017:
    TELEVOTING 09th & JURY 22nd (running order #08)

    Those are the entries that were tremendously helped by televoting audiences, but suffered with the juries (usually outside TOP 10 with juries).
    Some conclusions I made:
    A. 7 of these 12 entries had a running order in the 1st half of the show.
    B. 8 of these 12 entries were very feelgood (up-tempo, simple, easy, happy).
    C. 3 countries of this list were from the Balkan, other 7 were former Soviet nations (Hungary, Poland, Romania, Albania) or very central European nations.
    D. only 2 of these list were ‘classic’ Eurovision nations (Switzerland and Austria).
    E. Most of these ‘televoting’ entries had something quite….’remarkable’ about its staging or song….to say the least. The good old…gimmicks perhaps:
    –> Big titties for Poland 2014,
    –> Cute Rybak-esque violinplayer for Switzerland 2014,
    –> A toilet seat piano for Romania 2014 + some augmented reality,
    –> Sudden disappearance of the male singer for Estonia 2015,
    –> A fat woman dancing like a cow for Serbia 2015,
    –> Long-haired androgynous guy for Poland 2016,
    –> A French-language flower-y song for Austria 2016,
    –> Guy on a shooting canon for Romania 2017,
    –> Mating ritual for Hungary 2017,
    –> A fat guy with schizofrenic clothes for Croatia 2017.

    So coming back to my initial question, how are people within the betting market try to ‘find’ such entries? And which countries this year could be added to above list? Is your betting portfolio also adjusted to these kind of predictions (terrific with televoting, not so with juries)?
    If you ask me, I think these countries could do well with televoting, and suffer more with juries:
    –> BELARUS
    –> BULGARIA
    –> FINLAND
    –> SERBIA
    –> MOLDOVA
    –> THE NETHERLANDS
    –> SLOVENIA
    All other countries to me will do well enough with juries (or will score very low with both televoters and juries).

    • Burlington Bertie

      Songfestivalwerk! I did enjoy reading the above post first time you did it and feel bad for all too often being a reader on Sofabet and not a contributor. As a result, I’m replying to your plea.

      Every year I analyse this that and the other for hours on end until I think I’ve just about sussed everything out based on all that I have gleaned from previous contests. There’s a reason they call it ANALysis. Basking in my excellent knowledge, I watch the final with all bets placed and seemingly in the bag, and then the voting unfolds before my eyes. The only thing that I can predict about the voting in the modern Eurovision era is that it is bloody unpredictable. Why does Eric Saade come 3rd one year and then Tooji, with a song and look not so different, come last the next? Why does something classy and beautifully composed like Blackbird fail to qualify? Insert your own examples here – there are literally hundreds of them. Every year throws up something new and us gamblers add it to the ever growing list of something to bear in mind for future contests. Last year’s Moldovan televoting result and subsequent 3rd place has sent many of us into a frenzy this year, trying to spot the chink in the bookies’ armour: who have they missed that we can see swinging into the top 3/4 with juicy odds of 100/1 or better? It’s pretty impossible if you ask me. I’ve had some good years and some not so good years. My best year was 2014 where 6 out of 8 bets came good, one of them being a 50/1 on Conchita. I know I wasn’t the only one who had a great 2014 so I don’t want to be cocky about it. Prior to that, my best wins were piling in on something that seemed fairly likely at short odds. Yes – it’s great when you get the winner weeks before the contest on long odds, but how often realistically can anyone do this? The last 3 years have been fairly pitiful. In spite of my excessive analysis of stats, the songs, the artists, the rehearsal clips etc. etc., in the end it’s really hard to pick out potential top 4s with odds that make it worth the bother. This year I’m going to be opting for top 10s, a few bottom enders and anything else that takes my fancy on the day when more bets appear.

      In summary, I’ve not really added anything new to your post, and I’ve not even really answered your question, but it’s getting late (“and be that as it may, I turn to you….”) and I’ve to be up at the crack of dawn. One thing I will say is this – I never EVER underestimate the importance of the running order.

    • John

      Its tricky, I think a lot of the favourites either have about the same jury and televote appeal, or greater jury appeal.

      However Moldova seems a candidate, amd I wouldnt be surprised if Russia, Greece and Azerbaijan gets diaspora televote love much beyond meagre jury love.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Hi Gert,

    I read and enjoyed this post of yours first time round. Your depth of historical knowledge must be beyond my level of appreciation. it feels like you kind of cover everything!

    Please bear in mind that sometimes the longer the post the less likely it is someone will respond. That sounds perverse but that’s my experience here. It can feel disappointing.

    A fun game might be to suggest the country which achieves / ends up with the largest ranking disparity between their jury vote and their televote in this contest? Either way round. (Assuming the country will be contending in the Grand Final.)

    I tentatively offer Greece as a contender this year. A song, incidentally, that garners little by way of comment on these boards. A song and a sound I enjoy by the way.

    I more confidently suggest Latvia. It reeks of quality. Yet the singer, song and performance, so far, have stirred nothing in me. Which is a bad sign for its prospects as I’m biased to like songs that advertise their sense of melancholia. I predict very respectable jury appreciation, but a nothing televote. Is anyone passionate about any element of the Latvian product? It should be brilliant, it really should be. Is it a flaw in the chord progression worsened by sad lyrics and a singer playing the sad clown. That’s it: it wallows in itself.

    Poland. The singer sounds as weak as shandy bass, the package has an ill-fitting overall image, and the song is no great shakes. But I absolutely love the drop. Love it! Will forgive all its many, many faults (those faults can convert to lovable quirks! haha!) for the unbridled release when that beat kicks in. The juries will be harsh, I guess, but it might surprise on the night in the arena and extend to the televote. With a singer who could actually sing this one might have climbed high.

    Sweden. This song annoys me because I’m sure I can hear shades of Charlie Puth’s Attention (which I love) underscoring this song. His vocals are sometimes desperately weak, too. Although Sweden seems to be habitually overmarked by the juries, I speculate that this might prove a tougher year for them than is expected. I never rate Sweden and am virtually always mistaken on this, I should add! The staging is unique and awesome so I’m sure it will be fine on the televote.

    • Russia. The juries will surely have no choice but to mark this down, but the diaspora will be ringing in regardless.

      • johnkef

        The countries that will have a big gap between televoting and jury score, in my opinion, are:

        Televoting magnets:

        Russia (hope not enough to qualify to the final)
        Poland
        Norway
        Hungary
        France
        Denmark

        Jury magnets:

        Estonia ( Kate Ryan 2018?)
        Sweden
        Romania (enough ally juries to secure qualification? i say yes)
        Portugal ( if televoters come aboard this can be a dark horse)

        • Chris Bellis

          @johnkef
          I wouldn’t be brave enough to lay Russia – just too many fellow travellers and diaspora. It deserves a NQ, as it’s rubbish. However there are plenty of ordinary Russians and East Europeans sympathetic to Russia in this country and the rest of the Eurovision televoting world Not just oligarchs. They will vote for it.
          I agree about Portugal as I’ve been saying from the beginning. Maybe not to win, but if they get the staging right, and bring the singer to the front rather than the song writer in the chair, I can easily see top ten.

  • Songfest there’s an upside down parabolic relationship between repeating the post and response, and 2x is on the extreme rise of the curve.

    I agree about Belarus as he’s known to many Russians, Moldova agree, Finland probably agree but she’s a great singer and dancer, Netherlands don’t know, Bulgaria disagree. Why do you think it will do worse with juries? Assuming they can sing well it has a modern feel and effort is made in the production, but for the public it’s morose and fails the one minute rule (it should have enough to do well with the public, this is just about vote split).

  • Alpie

    Let’s do a Head to Head competition: Wondering your tastes !!!

    France vs Australia
    Israel vs Norway

  • Ande

    Interesting point of view Songfestivalwerk! Don’t forget countries that did relatively well despite a huge discrepancy though,,,,

    –> ITALY 2015:
    TELEVOTING 366pt & JURY 171pt (running order #27)
    –> RUSSIA 2016:
    TELEVOTING 361pt & JURY 130pt (running order #18)
    –> MOLDOVA 2017:
    TELEVOTING 264pt & JURY 110pt (running order #07)
    –> BELGIUM 2017:
    TELEVOTING 255pt & JURY 108pt (running order #23)

    Each of these countries was in the running to win with a good jury score.

    Here’s my list of jury flops:
    –> Estonia (non-jury song)
    –> Norway (no substance)
    –> Finland (too tacky for juries)
    –> Denmark (clear tele-USP but so-so voice and tacky song)

    In contest for last jury placing:
    Moldova (tacky)
    Poland
    UK (weak, dated song, though could get some UK jury love)

    In regards to your predictions I do believe Bulgaria to be jury bait and the Netherlands to be stable with juries, otherwise I agree your list will likely do better with viewers.

  • Call me patriotic but UK Last Place and Israel on-the-nose are both big lays for me.

    On another subject. Very broad but FRANCE. Is it actually possible that they could take victory in Lisbon?

    • Ande

      Yes, UK last place and Israel winning are both too short before stagings are revealed.

      Regarding France I don’t believe so, they have a song with potential but have more or less confirmed that the staging will be too dire to have any chance of winning. I do believe it would be an uphill battle even if France somehow scraped together a good staging effort.

  • Speaking of LAST PLACE…can anyone explain why Germany is 9-1 to come last one day and then evens the next? and so the market swings continue…..(Betfair exchange.)…it’s currently 6-4 favourite…..I really cannot see this finishing last….indeed it’s mildly low left side for me at the moment…

    as for your patriotism James, only Surie’s sheer likeability and live presence stands between UK and wooden spoon IMO….

    • Ande

      Hmm Germany… let me see…

      Almost scored a last place hat-trick in previous years, dire song, weak voice, uncharismatic singer, nothing special to give viewers a reason to lift their phones nor anything to bait juries…

      … yeah I can definitely imagine Michael ending up last.

    • Is Storm REALLY the 42nd worst song in this field?

      • It’s not a question of being the 42nd worst in the field (actually it is 43..)…it’s a question of which song comes 26th on the big night, as 17 will have already been eliminated. It’s no coincidence that frequently the BIG 5 provide the wooden spoon entry as none of them have had to pass a previous approval test in the form of the semi. Spain to come last in 2017 was like taking candy from a baby! (I wasn’t the only one on Sofabet to benefit I can recall.)

        Ande, I grant you that Michael is hardly Robbie Williams but the song is much superior in my view to the exceptionally dated “Storm.” But it’s true Germany has been on a bad roll for some years. We’ll see. It may be that we get a real surprise qualifier from one of the semis (Ireland ?) that opens up new and unexpected last place possibilities.

        • Ande

          I believe UK will get by because of SuRie, she has a good voice and charisma. The song is somewhat contemporary and also has some kind of hook even though it’s utter shite.

        • Chris Bellis

          @markdowd1959
          Yes Spain last year was the best lay bet for years. It helped that some people were tipping it to win. Presumably someone from the Spanish faction.

  • Tim B

    Look at Australia go!!! Yes Jessica!!!

    • Stoney

      Ive had a listen to a few of the songs. And Australia’s os one that strikes me as pretty ordinary. In the sense that nothing really stands out about it. At current odds id rather be on Norway. My eurovision knowledge is not great though.

  • Ande

    Let’s do the memory test, Germany vs UK!

    In order to get votes at the final you need to stand out in some way! Join in and comment below with what you remember from each of Germany and the UK!

    • Ande

      I’ll start!

      UK:
      Storms don’t last foraaaaaavaaa, foraaaaavaaa, remember. Her: She has short blonde hair and red lipstick. Her name has a wierd spelling. It was some kind of white light/lightning backgound. Sounded like an opera singer.

      Germany:
      I don’t remember nothing about the song nor melody. I remember his hair, I believe he had forgotten to shave and I think his name was Michael. There were some hearts in the background.

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