Eurovision 2018: Five points to consider

A few weeks ago, I offered my thoughts on the contenders according to bookmakers’ odds. But there are plenty of other markets out there, and it’s worth looking beyond “who’s going to win?” to find new angles in those other markets. Here are four such questions to help consider different perspectives, before some final thoughts on searching for emotional resonance.

You can also hear me discussing this year’s entries on the following Eurobliss podcast on Mixcloud.

1. The bloodbath first semi-final
The first heat is the most competitive since two semis were introduced in 2008. Apart from Iceland and Croatia, the market isn’t ruling out anything else qualifying. Switzerland were the latest to come in for support on the back of a strong performance in the Eurojury poll. It won’t be enough to have traditional televoting allies or a few reciprocal jury points; song and performance will both need to be strong to achieve qualification.

For example, in 2013 Serbia failed to qualify with the pimp slot in an apparently friendly heat of 16; the same happened to Lithuania in 2014, in a semi-final of just 15, with around five supposed allies. Those happened under the old system of combining jury and televote scores in one, rather than letting each count separately. But anyone relying on diaspora or friendly votes ignores Armenia’s abject failure in last year’s televote.

2011 famously saw Turkey and Armenia fail to qualify for the first time, and a similar thing happened in 2016 with Greece and Bosnia. Azerbaijan are thus the only country with a 100% record left in this heat, but they’ve cut it fine a few times in less competitive heats than this. They open the semi in a front-loaded heat which includes four contenders in the outright market.

So, don’t rely on country A passing this semi-final because country X, Y and Z will vote for it, even though quite a few of them have plenty of apparent friends. You can say that about Albania, FYROM, Greece, Cyprus, Armenia and Lithuania, and it seems unlikely that each of them will qualify. Those that do will achieve it largely on merit.

2. The quagmire second semi-final
If the dilemma of the first heat is that it’s too competitive, the problem with the second is that it’s too easy. (I sound like the Goldilocks of Eurovision betting.) Is this the worst semi-final since 2010’s first one, or does it go even lower than that?

Belarus sneaked through that particular heat thanks to a 12 from Russia, and only just avoided last place in the final thanks to a 12 from Georgia (condemning the UK to the wooden spoon). For once, the worst of the automatic qualifiers might have some competition in the last place market. The last time a semi-final qualifier finished last in the final was 2013.

It also gives us the quandary of traditional televote big hitters such as Russia, Poland and Serbia sending stuff which, offered by anybody else in a heat of average quality, you would assume NQs. And perhaps someone emulating Valentina Monetta in 2014 by sneaking through a poor semi-final with a below-average number of points, thanks to being competently performed. Step forward Montenegro?

3. The Balkan Question
Talking of Montenegro, an ex-Yugoslav wipe-out in the semi-finals is on the cards if qualification odds are to be believed. That happened in 2013, when Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia all failed to get out of one heat, partly because their juries failed to display any kind of regional loyalty.

You could argue that if one of them squeezes through, there may be a place in the lower top ten based on sucking up those ex-Yugoslav points, but Croatia’s Jacques Houdek couldn’t quite manage it last year, and he ended up blaming regional juries failing to get behind him too. One hope is that there’s a low points bar for tenth place, as in 2015 when Serbia’s Bojana benefited.

4. Born in Belorussia, USSR time
Third, first, second, fourth, second, second, first. Working back from 2017, you have to get to 2010 for the top ex-USSR state to finish as low as fifth. Yet according to today’s Oddschecker, the only one in the top 15 of the betting is the least ex-USSRy of the lot – Estonia. It’s hard to envisage no one else from the bloc making the top ten.

We’re left clutching at straws like the Armenian diaspora returning to their phones at the sound of their language, Ukraine’s capacity to bring some fine staging, Russia pulling out the stops despite that song, or Alekseev’s supposed popularity across the region. To maintain the amazing top five record, the best straw of all may be to remind ourselves that Norway’s Alexander Rybak is an honorary Belorussian.

5. Because Jamala and Salvador, therefore…
After his victory with the retro jazzy ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ last year, Salvador famously said that the contest should be about feeling, not fireworks. That came on top of an ethno trip-hop genocide ballad winning the year before. I think punters’ search for a similar sense of feeling, and openness in terms of genre based on these last two winners, helps explain Estonia’s prolonged period as second favourite.

France has been latched onto over the last few days as the worthy, pure thing that may be able to provide this year’s emotional connection for viewers. Part of Israel’s appeal is that it too, is trying to say plenty alongside the chicken nuggets. Will either be able to provide the genuine visceral resonance that seems to be a feature of the most recent winners? And if not, do we resort instead to a three-minute Czech booty call?

Rehearsals start this Sunday. I’ll be in Lisbon offering the usual coverage from the press centre. Make sure you’re following Sofabet on Twitter if you’re not already, and keep the entertaining discussion going below.

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130 comments to Eurovision 2018: Five points to consider

  • eurovicious

    Apropos resonance, here are some comments I solicited from female Eurovision fans on why the Israeli entry speaks to them:

    “Love that it’s an empowering song, and love the good vibe I get from it, and how she’s not afraid to make chicken noises – gives me life!”

    “I love that she is a plus-size woman singing awesomely about being beautiful and demanding respect. She is SO cool.”

    “I love that she’s a big girl not taking shit from anybody. I want her to win.”

    “I love the empowering message, the straightforwardness, and how she does not pander to any fragile feelings. What I found interesting were the reactions to the song, the cries of ‘Misandry!’ ‘If the roles were reserved…’ and ‘Not all men are stupid!’ – all reactions I’ve seen since the song came out. The men who don’t throw these fits when Netta refers to ‘stupid boys’ know it’s not about them… they don’t ask, ‘But not me, right? Not all men, right?’, because they know it’s not about them – they’re right there with us. The argument has never been about whether it’s all men.”

    “People describing Netta as ‘aggressive’ – ever notice how men who want things are ‘confident and assertive’ but women who want things are ‘too assertive’ ‘bitchy’ ‘selfish’?”

    • My problem with Israel, is the song is awful and casual music fans who don’t subscribe to the message will think it’s nonsense. Now, as we saw last year with Portugal, that might not matter….as if you love it or hate it, you only need the love it’s to vote for it to win by a landslide (at the party I was at last year, most people just didn’t like Portugal, but could appreciate it was a well sung lovely song, they just didn’t like it)

      I think we’ll probably learn quite a lot from rehearsals about the “rest of the field”, as you say Daniel, you don’t just need to bet the winner, to be a winner 😉

    • markovs

      These are the comments of my wife, my daughter and my son’s girlfriend in response to the first view of Toy. They all watch ESC with me but are not ‘fans’ and rarely listen to songs until the semis or final.

      ‘God, she’s annoying. Why the chicken noises?’

      ‘Oh dear, this isn’t very good is it. I didn’t think they had joke entries any more

      ‘Hmmm, starts off rubbish but does get better. Don’t like her gurning much though’

      None of them got any ’empowering’ message at all and no-one thought it had a prayer of winning. They all liked Czech Rep, Norway and France and hated Estonia with a passion.

      Different people, different ways of looking at it. Israel needs to nail the staging imo to have any chance.

  • John

    Daniel’s almost read my mind regarding the former soviet mystery – who will ascend from the poor offerings we have?

    It’s also good to have him debunk the myth that some support is automatic. Sometimes friends desert songs in their hour of need.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I agree, I do think from what I’ve seen that there is diaspora interest for both Greece and Armenia.

      Diaspora is only useful if you have them engaged. Poland before and after their comeback is really fascinating, before the diaspora wasn’t really active, but 2014 with their huge viral hit really woke up a sleeping giant and the diaspora has been active ever since.

      • johnkef

        I tend to disagree about Poland. Polish diaspora back their songs only when they like them. If their song is mediocre or not according to their taste. like 2015 and 2017 diaspora didn’t help at all. Especially 2015 they received only 10 points (they would be 45 with the current system). In those years they finished 22nd and 23rd. The patern here is that polish diaspora vote for their song every 2nd year…

        The same with Armenia. Back in 2015 with a song that was about the Genocide, and in theory would give every reason to diaspora to vote for their country, they received just 77 in televoting with the current voting system applied. Last year they did even worse receiving just 21 points.

        Will a song in their mothertongue force them to vote for it? Maybe. But is it because it is in their mothertongue or people just like the song?

        That might be the case with Greece as well. I am Greek so i can understand a little bit better the psychology of greek diaspora, being an actual member of it. It is the first song since 2013 that greek diaspora can relate with. And one more thing. Yianna Terzi is the daughter of Pashalis Terzis, one of the most famous Greek folk singers of the last 30 years so they have an extra reason to support her.

        • Interesting thoughts/points there john.
          Would you think, outside of Greek diaspora though, do you think there would be much interest in the song?

          I’ve not looked into the Armenia numbers before, but by the sounds of things, from what you’re saying, they don’t seem to have a large voting diaspora

          • johnkef

            To be honest i have no idea how the greek song is perceived by others. And i am not exactly the typical fan of greek music either. Perosnally i like the song, (just the 3rd greek song that i actually like since te semis era, Kalomira and Koza Nostra the other two).

            It is a nice Balkan folk ballad and i believe that will get some love from the region and off course the diaspora but i don’t know if western Eurove will like it.

            I can see it finishing somewhere between 7th-12th, scoring high in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Albania, some decent points from Russia, Armenia, Serbia, Romania, definitely some points from the greek diaspora in Germany, UK, Belgium and then i guess a few 1-6 points here and there. I think the ceiling is the 200 points margin.

  • eurovicious

    See also this comment of mine from last month, countering the perception that the ex-USSR entries are weak this year: https://sofabet.com/2018/03/28/eurovision-2018-summary-market-leaders/#comment-88632 Russia, Armenia, Moldova and to a lesser extent Azerbaijan are all being underestimated. And while everything about Alekseev’s entry has been consistently mishandled by his team, he’s still a major regional star who’s had amazing staging concepts in the past and who has a lot of financial backing.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I think the problem with Israel to me is that it sounds a bit too ‘Nicki Minaj’. It’s a bit too current, too much today’s pop music. Perhaps wrapped in remarkable oversized clothes and stiletto crowns. But it’s still a bit too Nicki Minaj, even with some hits of Gaga.

    Again, I think people are sometimes overrating the ‘every song should have a story to do well’-mantra. In the end the pool of televoters is so much larger than even the biggest size of #MeToo voters. Remember Eastern-Europe? And how their ideas about women are being perceived? Or that they simply don’t care so much as long as they are entertained by the song and can have fun with it.

    Not to mention all those Trump supporters. Will they really vote for an empowerment song about women? Will they even care about all the backstory chutzpah if all they see what’s being presented on stage?

    In the end lyrics don’t matter. Nor does a relevant story. At least not in the amount that’s being perceived on here. What matters are 3 mins during which people stand up and feel grabbed instantly by their genitals. In a way that’s conveying real emotions (from sincere happiness, WTF-joy, and craziness, to sheer melancholy, drama and goosebumps).

    Having said that, every genre can win. As long as it excessively good in that genre. And then even lyrics don’t matter.

    So….Israel is the clear front-runner now. Perhaps Netta fits this description perfectly. But please have an open mind and take the word ‘dark horse’ a bit more serious too.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I don’t think “T***p supporters” would be the best term considering most of Europe think he’s a joke, but there’s certainly a few countries like in Southern Europe that have a very macho, patriarchal society. If you dig at for example the Italian media’s response to #metoo, it borders on disgusting.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      @Songfestivalwerk

      Hi Gert,

      Maybe there is an overemphasis on and overrating of political elements, backstory elements and the zeitgeist, but it can be, as you know, a factor in people’s decision-making re the ESC and re other events.

      I sometimes think back to a documentary I watched post 9/11. It was investigating what it was like for people who looked even vaguely Arabian living in America in the early noughties and also followed the daily lives of caucasian Americans who were actively questioning the American military invasions and bombings of other countries, both the why and the whom.

      I remember the camera following a caucasian American woman who I think had a son who was serving in the military and serving overseas. One scene was in Washington where she was the dissenting voice at a small political event pro military action.

      She was rounded upon, with another woman accusing her of being “a traitor” (to her son and to her country) and of being a “terrorist sympathiser” and “probably a terrorist.”

      Of course, the very confident accuser was echoing the sentiments and words of George W Bush, who set the tone with his strident speeches to the nation. Strident, calculated speeches loaded with calculated, hysterical logic.

      “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” (A statement which received a standing ovation.)

      “Either you’re with us, either you love freedom, and nations that embrace freedom, or you’re with the enemy, there’s no inbetween.”

      “Either you’re with us or you’re with the enemy…I will continue to make that clear.”

      It was the first strike and polarizing fallacious logic of the bully who wanted his own way, seeking to taint and paint as a target anyone who questioned or challenged his decisions.

      And he enjoyed a lot of success with that strategy.

      I’ve been posting in praise of the French song on this site for weeks, as once the rhythm gnawed into my brain I couldn’t get it out. (Though I feel free to still give the occasional negative criticism of the song and the delivery.)

      But the reason I had a few (small) bets on it at some nice prices was in consideration of the political elements and back story.

      I think there may be small pressures and influences at work that influence people, jurors and televoters both, to feel an extra boost of favour towards it.

      “In the end lyrics don’t matter. Nor does a relevant story. At least not in the amount that’s being perceived on here. What matters are 3 mins during which people stand up and feel grabbed instantly by their genitals. In a way that’s conveying real emotions (from sincere happiness, WTF-joy, and craziness, to sheer melancholy, drama and goosebumps).”

      I do mostly agree with you here. It can help to know why, outside of the performance, something means so much to somebody, and it can help when something is representative of something more, is a manifestation, statement and part of something bigger, – but it can be enough on its own for someone to skillfully deliver 3 minutes of palpable real emotion.
      In some ways it would be sad if that wasn’t enough.

  • Hippo

    The former soviets and yugoslavs are serving up their weakest attempts in a long time. They’re not as bad as some think but still a massive drop of in quality going back 2-3 years even. In particular I don’t have any of the former yugoslavs qualifying.
    I tend ignore Estonia as a former soviet, so The race for best out of that area is between Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine. Belarus would have a shot were they in the second semi but they have an awful draw and I’ve been opposing qualification. Azerbaijan are likewise without their strongest friends
    and are relying on having made some new ones and Greek/Cypriot support for their guys. They’re 50/50.
    Russia look midtable.
    It definitely all helps Norway though and maybe Bulgaria and Greece.

    Israel is polarising but you could say that about Conchita, Jamala and Salvador too. In my opinion her projection of fiestiness, agression and zany outfits is playing to a home crowd within the bubble which has a harder job being transferred to a Europe wide audience, live on stage.

    On the topic of an non automatic qualifier coming last, who would you all say?
    Latvia can pick up jury points in the semi and get forgetten.
    Poland’s diaspora is about 40-50 points but where else are they scoring anything from?
    Finland have crashed before in similar style with Krista.
    Austria could also be forgotten and relying purely on jury points.

    I don’t see many weaker countries qualifying than these four to threaten.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Eurovision fans are baffled by list of banned items that includes ladders

    And don’t you go thinking about taking a trolley

    http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/news/a855616/eurovision-2018-final-banned-items-list-reactions/

    Amusing GIF to be found, as you scroll down.

  • Scott Reid

    My issue with Netta is not that she’s aggressive, it’s that people apply double standards to women – including other women.

    It’s something I’ve always called the Boris Johnson effect. He’s allowed to bumble along looking like he’s just fallen out of a bin. Can you imagine a female politician doing the same and not getting the Sarah Vine treatment?

    However, as always, if there’s one place you can be different it’s Eurovision. That was my selling point as I backed Salvador last year, so I wouldn’t rule it out again.

    If we are going to have a fast food winner then for me it’s going to be a gear change that dates back past Salvador and Jamala. Every song in recent years has been a cause song to some degree:

    Salvador: You’re willing him on and you know the back story as to him struggling, and he’s singing something completely different for Eurovision so it stands out.
    Jamala: A political cause to get behind and it’s completely different so it stands out.
    Heroes: “You can be a hero” – you can be part of this guy’s tribe, join the gang.
    Rise Like A Phoenix: Overcoming adversity with a song that feels like it’s telling Conchita’s story.

    It doesn’t mean the Czech Republic can’t just storm in with a song that sounds like Talk Dirty To Me, but it would go against the grain of recent years.

    • M.

      People tend to forget Mans didn’t even do well on the televote, only came third there, he just won because he was the runaway jury winner.

      In this field I can see Benjamin pulling it off with a jury win and decent enough televote. With this staging and style it is the clear ‘safe choice’ for juries (like Mans was), considering the big rival apperently (Israel) isn’t that jury friendly.

      Just like Sweden last year came third at the juries as well, with a very uninspired song and gimmicky staging. This year it’s more arty and wow-staging which makes it a cool/mordern song.

      I more and more think this is a very reasonable possible outcome when others won’t blow us away with staging.

      • Milton

        I thought Sweden’s staging was imaginative and entertaining last year. 2015 on the other hand was an absolute masterpiece, probably the best staging ever on a Eurovision Stage. This year the staging is pretty cool and arty as you say, but its in no way entertaining or engaging, its just some clever lighting that looks good. I’d be amazed if the juries are so blown away by it that they are prepared to overlook what is otherwise a mediocre package and rate it above everything else.

  • dicksbits

    I think there might be a typo in the Balkan analysis: Serbia withdrew in 2014.. or am I missing something! Just politely pointing it out!

  • dicksbits

    I assume Bulgaria is not considered ex-Soviet!

    • johnkef

      Bulgaria was not part of Soviet Union.

      • Chris Bellis

        Bulgaria though is fairly pro Russian. My friend lives in Bulgaria and when I visit I’m always intrigued how it still feels like Russia. Not just the Cyrillic script, Slavic language, and Orthodox church, but the gangsterism too. Despite the EU membership, corruption is rife. The same shakedowns from the police, the same need to bribe public servants to get anything done. Not only that, the older generation who remember communist times will tell you that they were better off then. Full employment, subsidised utilities and housing, better pensions than now etc.

        • That sounds exactly like Romania too

          • Yes gangsterism is the same but Romania has never been really close to Moscow and isn’t now and has a Romance language. Interestingly in communist times Nicolae Ceaușescu had the vast majority of his troops on the Russian border rather than the western border. Bulgaria was the most loyal block state to Moscow while Ceaușescu was second least trusted after Tito.

          • It was more the 2nd part of Chris’s part that I was referring to. Having spent time in Bucharest, he just echoed exactly what I noticed

          • Chris Bellis

            I know people in Romania too. You’re both dead right dash and Henry, Romanians have less of a connection with Moscow. They see themselves as a Latin race stuck between Slavs and the rest. Nevertheless, those in the tourist industry miss the Russians, who have largely deserted Romania after sanctions. I quote one Bucharest travel agent of my acquaintance: “Russian tourists were a pain, even worse than the British stag parties, but they always paid for the breakages, so we want them back.” I swear this is true!

          • Chris Bellis

            @dash berlin
            So you spent time in Bucharest. Another gangsters’ paradise, from my experience. I wonder how bad it got for Eurovision to kick them out? Normally they would have “arranged” things beforehand. Somebody didn’t get their little envelope, possibly?

          • I went to Bucharest at the end of last May, on my brother in law’s stag weekend. Interesting, as the only two people I knew were the two partners of my two sisters.

            I wouldn’t say they’re pro-Russian at all, particularly. There’s huge echoes of Communism around, don’t get me wrong, but it’s mashed-up with Westernisation, Democracy and Capitalism. Lots of Soviet buildings, then suddenly you’ll come to an IKEA, a Zara or a McDonald’s.

            Nightlife-wise it really isn’t that removed at all from the party scene of any other Western city or large town. The only difference is it’s very cheap, and prostitution is remarkably open.

            The only problem we encountered was a member of the party who was Jamaican (and gay) got held at immigration for a good 10-15 minutes. (That said, I am assured by him that Grindr does a brisk trade that way!)

            The only other thing I’ll say is that they’re also VERY proud Europeans, having joined the EU in 2007. As soon as we said we were British, almost without exception the first question from the waitress, bartender, taxi driver, hostel worker or other local person was “Why are you people doing this Brexit thing? You are crazy!”

            I think it would be very interesting if Romania were to win in the next couple of years. I have the feeling they’d pull out all the stops for the following year’s show in the same way Estonia did 16 years ago.

            By the same token I wonder what the EBU will do in the event of a third Ukranian victory in the next few years after both their previous hostings were marred by mass disorganisation?

  • So which songs are the biggest fan/gamblerwanks atm?

    Norway imo, and a little bit France but that at least has potential, and a little bit Sweden which has no potential.

    • johnkef

      Norway, definitely Top10 and maybe higher but if that song wins Eurovision, i will never watch/bet in Eurovision again.

      Estonia. I still consider this one a shock non qualifier and Top 10 its ceiling.

      Czech Republic. Probably Top5 but prices under 10 for a country that has only qualified once and 25th is the highest finishing, with a bad record of staging, sorry but no thank you.

      Sweden is like Real Madrid in Champions League. They are underperforming in Spain but they still have the heart and mentality of the champion and the connections with the referees so you can never understimate them but the quality of the song is cheap even for the Swedish standards.

      • John

        Agree about Estonia. Its too glacial and artificial imo.

        I would love it if Rybak walzted in and did the double on the back of a good draw, with his wacky song and just charisma-ed his way to victory. It would be like Ace Rimmer in Red Dwarf. ‘What a guy!’

        • Chris Bellis

          As I’ve posted before, by operatic standards, she’s an average singer. Plus the song is rubbish. It’ll have to be a great dress.

      • On Sweden, more I listen to it, more I like it. I’m getting more than echoes of Bieber’s post-Sorry material.

    • I had a dream the other night that Rybak won it and for some reason I’d got him at really long odds and put a fair amount of it, so ended up a million quid richer.

      I had a dream Poland won in Stockholm two years ago, but in Kyiv for some reason I dreamt that Petra Mede and I were doing the UK commentary.

      • Chris Bellis

        @James Martin
        Having heard some of your stuff I think you would do a pretty good job. Better than Mel Giedroyc anyway.
        By the way, stop eating cheese late at night. It always brings on those weird dreams.

        • I actually can’t stand cheese apart from on Pizza or the skins at TGI Fridays.

          Thanks BTW. Definitely a dream job. I don’t want the UK commentary to play it straight and be serious, that’d do awful damage to the viewing figures. But the self-depricating humour the Swedes do would work here. I actually don’t mind Norton, he’s kind of got the right attitude.

  • Portugal should tell the writer to put her ego to the side and get the hell off the stage. It would be such a simple way to massively improve the staging.

  • Burlington Bertie

    A while back somebody suggested a Sofabet get together in Lisbon for those going to the contest. Has any more been said? If not, can I start the ball rolling by suggesting mid-morning on Wednesday 9th? We can start by debriefing the bloodbath over coffee. I don’t know Lisbon but I’m sure we can find a suitable venue for an informal gamblers’ gathering. Anyone fancy it?

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Anyone with an interest in the World Snooker Championship? I had a small bet on McGill @150. With a lot of help from his faltering opponent he somehow scrambled through his 1st round match – now to face Ding!

    Have just read that McGill has identified a current weakness in his (own) game: potting!

    Ha!

    • John

      I feel bad for Ding. He tends to be ascendant in years where Sullivan or Selby is too and he doesnt have their bottle. Im still not over the Fu/Ding final that never was.

      Ive put a tiny bet on McGill since that sweet Poulter tip came through a few weeks ago! (And he will obvs lose against Ding).

  • M.

    Interesting Juke Box Jury: http://escinsight.com/2018/04/26/eurovision-insight-podcast-juke-box-jury-2018-8/

    Rate Ewan quite highly, and with a gun on his head he would predict Norway or Netherlands to win. (from 21:30 and 50:50). Others seem keen on Australia. Interesting views overall and agree with a lot of it.

    Remember Ewan was the first to predict the big Conchita win (when she wasn’t a favourite) and usually has great analysis of Eurovision…

    I really think it makes sense to at least have a small bet on Waylon pre-rehearsals, there’s a possible suprise here with this open field and with Hans Pannecoucke + their earlier experience. No momentum (also because of the shitty live ‘official’ video is probably used for Eurojury-polls and TV-shows), but I’d surely give it a few procent chance on winning it, 100+ odds really generous

    • Hippo

      I’m a big fan of Insight and the podcasts but their predictions are often quite a way off. Every so often someone suggests a dark horse but there’s no great track record of it.
      That said I do have Norway winning atm and Netherlands is underrated looking at the odds of some other songs.

      • M.

        Just like everyone’s prediction is way off most of the times (like Latvia was seen as main contender in 2016 for example).

        It’s about thinking about the chances of it winning (the bet) and getting the attractive odds for it. But that someone with a lot of experience (inside) eurovision/journalism has a view like that is just a extra trigger that you might be on the right track. Shouldn’t over or underrate things like this, but I don’t doubt his knowlegde, made some great articles/podcasts over the years. But in the end nobody can ‘predict’ results, it’s all about the odds…

        In my opinion these attractive odds are NL now, and a bit of Sweden. Israel way too short and therefore there are some interesting positions to take.

        • Chris Bellis

          “Israel way too short…”

          Very much agree. It’s a field of 43. In a horse race, even if the favourite was 4/1, you would have to lay, just because there are so many imponderables. I did that on the Grand national when the favourite was 7/1. Israel’s odds are crazy. I like it, but it will need a fair wind to win in this field. Plenty of positives, and a fair few negatives. Definitely a long way from a banker. Only one course of action for a serious punter.

          • Hippo

            Yep, that’s been my approach the last two years too in opposing Frans and Gabbanni, can win-bad odds. Taking short odds on favourites pre rehearsal is not how to play this game, for a whole host of reasons.

    • I love the Jukebox Jury’s “M” (adopted from James Bond ;-)?). The great thing about these ‘talkshows’ is the fact that it’s basically always pretty much on point. And all of the hosts and sidekicks basically agree to disagree.

      On Jukebox Jury #8 I kind of disagreed with Ellie and Matthew. They basically triggered me in writing a more extensive comment. Here it is:

      <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< “MISS !”
      AZERBAIJAN:
      –> “MAYBE !”
      V.J.R.MACEDONIA:
      –> “MAYBE !”
      THE NETHERLANDS:
      –> “HIT HIT !!”
      GEORGIA:
      –> “HIT !”
      NORWAY:
      –> “HIT HIT !!”
      AUSTRALIA:
      –> “HIT !”
      And before I close this, rather extensive, post, here are two great video’s from Waylon’s impressive career ;-):

      Performance with Dolly Parton & Emmylou Harris:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y615APt9E3k

      Performance as a kid (with his famous hat):

      Performance during Eurovision in Concert 2018:

      Have a nice weekend all of you great music lovers at ESC-Insight. And let’s keep agreeing on disagreeing every now and then. Good luck in Lisbon!
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • “Hey Ellie. Don’t worry so much. Music is not football. It’s not a sports where you score a goal and then you win. Eurovision is a jury sports by default, with more entertainment attached to it than figure skating on the Winter Olympics. And that’s why personal taste is Always clashing heavily with a certain outcome of the contest. Even for every winner in Eurovision there are millions of Europeans who disliked the eventual winner and actually didn’t vote for it.

      So no worries about the bit of ‘venom’ you and Monsieur Matthew injected in this podcast ;-). It was actually quite fun to listen at. And that’s the ‘X-Factor’ of Eurovision. It makes Eurovision so much fun. Still, I have to politely disagree with you. An adage that more people every now and then should use: “Let’s agree to disagree”.

      Where I do disagree with you is the actual biography about Willem ‘Waylon’ Bijkerk. To me it makes perfect sense that Willem in the end used Waylon Jennings’ name and adopted it as his artist name. And the reason behind that is actually more emotional and sad than many people think.

      Back in 2000 Waylon’s cassette tapes (he also sang country when he was a kid by the way) were discovered by record label EMI. That’s what kickstarted the interest in this young man named Willem Bijkerk. His first single at this EMI record label wasn’t an immediate success but it opened some very important, very heavy doors. That first single, which wasn’t a success, eventually ended up in Nashville and was heard by Waylon Jennings himself. The ‘real deal’ then phoned Willem Bijkerk, if he wanted to record some songs with him. Obviously Mr Bijkerk was stunned and said “Yes!”, forgetting to thank him.

      What followed was an intense 6 months in Willem’s life in 2002. Willem was welcomed by Waylon Jennings in his house in Nashville. In the studio’s they recorded songs together, and they toured for a couple of months in Miami and Nashville. And in between Willem slept, stayed, lived in Mr Jennings and Mrs Jennings-Colter’s home. Mr Bijkerk soon became some kind of ‘adoptive son’ of Mr Jennings. Then fate struck: Diabetes Type 2. Waylon Jennings had to cancel his tours. His health condition worsened. And on February 13th 2002 Waylon Jennings died of diabetes. Shortly before his death Jennings gave his guitar to Willem.

      Then, for Willem Bijkerk a different, more difficult time started in the USA, as one of the biggest facilitators of his careers was now dead. Important contacts between him and major Nashville studio’s and labels dried up. And soon thereafter Willem Bijkerk returned to The Netherlands, with no career, no money, no record label and a harsh end to his Nashville adventure. Soon, Mr Bijkerk’s then wife tried to continue his music career. But it had to be without his desire: Being able to make the kind of music he liked most….rock, bluegrass and rough-country. He managed to earn a bit of cash by performing on free concerts and weddings, but it made him depressed. After his divorce, Mr Bijkerk moved to Amsterdam. The small amounts of money he earned from the cheaper kinds of music entertainment he used for buying drugs. Mr Bijkerk became a drug addict. And on many occasions he wanted to end his life.

      With this important bit of biography, that has mostly gone unnoticed, I think it makes perfect sense Bijkerk honoured the man Waylon Jennings by adopting his name, both during work hours and in his private life. I think Mrs Jessi Jennings-Colter was tremendously honored by this. So to me, personally, as a passionate follower of Waylon, I think he’s not pretending here. He’s who he is. A man whose friendship with Waylon Jennings became his prime inspiration for his future music career. Culminating in a song that basically honors Waylon Jennings’ later music career (as part of the ‘Outlaw Trio’ Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser and Willie Nelson). And we get the honor to witness that on the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest. That’s quite a story eh ;-)? And it’s all true.

      Another aspect that made me disagree with you is the fact that many people still think Waylon’s influence on The Common Linnets was only minor. Within the Eurovision community that’s especially the case: 45% Ilse, 45% Hans Pannecoucke and only 10% Waylon. Really? Can I highlight something that makes duets work, and actually become succesful in the history of Eurovision (Netherlands 1972, UK 1977, Ireland 1994, Denmark 2000, Netherlands 2014, Estonia 2015)?That’s the basic rule of succesful duets: Chemistry.

      With the absence of one half, that Chemistry is gone. Without Waylon, or even rewriting “Calm After The Storm” as a solo performance for Ilse, there wouldn’t be the kind of success we witnessed during those 3 mins in May 2014. So when Ilse seduced ‘us’ with the camera’s, Waylon did exactly the same thing. I do agree that behind the scenes The Common Linnets are mostly an Ilse-project, but during those 3 mins televoters and jurors knew nothing about that. They saw a supposedly married couple singing about the ups and downs in their lifes.

      And that brings me back to this year. It should (!!) bring us back to this year. Eurovision is a ‘Now-Show’, not a ‘Past-Show’. Most rookies won’t compare Waylon with that magical performance from 2014. Simply because “Outlaw In ‘Em” is a completely different song. It’s rough, Steven Tyler-rough, a touch of AC/DC here, and a dash of outlaw-country and progressive-rock there. It conveys completely different emotions. No goosebumps, but outlaw-ish fun and craziness. No intense voteable sadness or melancholy, but pure, blistering, vocal, liberal madness and quality. So although I understand the comparisons, they fall a bit flat on me.

      Therefore I have to agree with Ewan a bit. Alexander Rybak and Waylon could actually be the ones televoters flock to by the millions. Both artists excell in their music with their charisma and telegenic capabilities, but with completely different music genres. And the Eurovision stage is never judgemental to music genres. From sheer utter camp/madness (Ukraine 2007) to glam rock (Turkey 2010), from scaled down Irish//American duets (Ireland 1994, Netherlands 2014) to Eurodance in its best form (Sweden 2012/2015), from melancholigal cinematic title tunes (Italy 2011, Portugal 2017) to vocally sublime political messages (Italy 1990, Ukraine 2016)……..as long as it audiovisually excells within its genre, as long as it conveys autentic emotions, how diverse they may be.”

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Wow! That was royally entertaining and informative!

        Stunning 😀

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I’m thinking back now to my opening impressions and post (this ESC), reminded that the three that made the biggest impact on me were Albania, Israel and the Netherlands – as best as I recall.

          The power of your post is making me reconsider The Netherlands, an entrant that had steadily slipped off my radar.

          Am thinking that the more I liked the Albanian package the less interest I had for The Netherlands entrant.

      • Chris Bellis

        SFW I echo Guildo’s sentiments. Brilliant post. You should put it on Waylon’s Wikipedia page or at least add a link to your post here.

        • Haha, mind you. Here’s also some slight favouritism towards Waylon slipping in ;-). But sometimes I think it’s necessary to look at the facts(of the biography), and don’t start disliking an artist for the wrong reasons :-).

          I just….hope…that every now and then the ‘journa-gays’ present in Lisbon will also ask similar questions that dig into some facts, instead of asking “What is your favourite competitor this year??”

    • Hippo

      The gist seems to be there is a slight advantage to standing out more rather than competency but it’s difficult to see how much of a difference it will make yet.
      From the frontrunners, this probably helps Israel a lot as a lot of jurors were bound to put it low. A small setback for the more “generic” attempts.

    • Ande

      This is a great change! It will make it more difficult to use bribes or tactical voting and will give divisive entries a better chance encouraging more diverse types of entries.

      • makaj

        True, it looks like it benefits Israel to negate those “odd jurors” who don’t like chicken noises.

        • Sagand

          I did an approximation of what last years results would have been under this system. The biggest winner was Italy and the biggest loser Australia. The net effect of the system change would have been:

           Australia -26
           Austria -22
           Azerbaijan -12
          The Netherlands -8
           Armenia -7
           Belarus -6
           Croatia -5
           Israel -4
           Bulgaria -2
           Poland -2
           Ukraine -2
           Moldova -1
           Romania 0
           Spain 0
           Cyprus 2
           Germany 2
           Denmark 4
           Sweden 4
           Hungary 5
           United Kingdom 5
           Greece 7
           Portugal 7
           Belgium 8
           Norway 16
           France 17
           Italy 20

  • markovs

    I’m still seeing Israel as the major fanwank, especially at the prices. Laying at the moment

    Got NL at 120.00 which seems ridiculous odds. Norway at over 30s, Australia at over 20s. Various others for top 5, bottom 5, etc. Avoiding Czech Rep unless drops further, avoiding Bulgaria like the plague unless shortens then.might lay. Surely the worst 2nd fav in years??

    It’s a real keep a close eye on the odds ESC this year as some songs fluctuating wildly. My guess is NL will shorten massively after semi 2, especially if gets 2nd half draw in final. Maybe not a winner but a good bet for buying high and selling low.

  • niko

    Wow, is all I can say after doing my annual 2½ weeks to go ritual where I listen to most of the songs for the first time. (See here for my first impressions last year, where I missed terribly on Finland, but also called Portugal as the winner: https://sofabet.com/2017/04/25/eurovision-2017-rehearsals-latest/#comment-82625) This is the worst Eurovision year I can ever remember and we’ve had some bad ones during the years!

    So my observations mostly are about the favourites:

    I was (rightfully) very doubtful about Italy last year. While I personally am not very much fond of Israel, I don’t have as many doubts with the favourite as last year. There is no language barrier, so the meaning will be much clearer which tones down the weirdness and her live vocal doesn’t seem to be as flat as I found Francesco’s. That said… I’m having trouble seeing how this will be well enough received with the juries to win. And the chicken noises are really off-putting to me. There is a good dance song here, but the chicken noises take it from fun and irreverant to novelty. You begin to laugh at it, and not with it. Compare to Moldova last year, which also was fun, but didn’t have any elements where people would begin to laugh at the ridiculousness. Saw an earlier April Fools comment here that said they might remove the chicken noises from the song and got really disappointed when I found out I had been fooled. I would really like to hear that version!

    When Estonia hits the high notes, I get the chills. That said, it is kitschy with a popera song and the melody is nothing special, especially in the verses where it totally dies. It will be interesting to see how far vocal prowess can take her.

    Czech Republic… I don’t really find there is much here. It is a Bruno Mars album track, not a single. It badly needs a stronger chorus with a better hook. I don’t see this higher than 7th-8th at most.

    I really like guitar-driven pop, so France should be something for me. But I’m completely unmoved by it. I find it really boring, it just plods along for three minutes without going anywhere. How I’d wish France had sent Requiem this year, it would be my favourite in this field.

    The two I think can challenge for the win if Israel fails are Australia and Sweden. Australia might be the best pop song in the contest, but it might also be a little bit too cliché to get people voting in droves and to get the juries to give it top marks.

    I really think Sweden is a dangerous dark horse in a year such as this. They are known now as the Eurovision country per se, so people take notice when they come up in the running order. And I find it to be the most contemporary song this year, it sounds like a Justin Timberlake hit. I can picture a situation where this comes on late in the show, sounds super competent and makes people want to dance. It is also scoring high with juries, you would think. I see it as a very possible winner by default in a weak year especially if Israel ends up as being too silly, and for me it is well worth a punt at 25/1.

    Let me finish off with a couple of personal… I wouldn’t call them favourites but songs, I find interesting.

    Italy would be right down my wheelhouse with a grander chorus. I find it interesting that it is not being talked about here much, even though it sits at around 12th-13th with the bookmakers. The message from the video will of course not be replicated in the same way on stage, but it is quite different from the rest of the competition and it feels more like “real music” than so many other entries. One I’m keeping a watch on.

    And then I’m oddly fascinated by the Slovenian entry. It is totally amateurish, but she is kind of charismatic and I wanna sing (or shout?) “Hvala, ne!” with her. It has no chance of qualifying, but it is much more fun than the majority of the songs, and I’m going to enjoy those three minutes of Eurotrash in a foreign language.

    I’m also looking at Switzerland and Ukraine as underrated songs, but that will be another comment for another day, to keep this from being way too long.

    • Dan

      I agree about Sweden.
      But Australia ? Who votes for them ?

      • niko

        Don’t know if you mean in a general way or with this song. If it’s in general, I’m pretty sure Sound of Silence would have won this year looking at the scores from 2016, so I don’t buy the theory of any anti-Australia bias. If it’s this specific song you’re doubting, I think it has pretty broad appeal to both West and East, is performed professionally by a charming and good-looking artist, has a strong hook (it was one of the few songs I could remember after listening to them all) and just feels right for Eurovision.

    • makaj

      Some time ago I made a case for Switzerland qualification, still think they have a fair shot but depends on staging.

      I see you skipped Norway and Bulgaria from your analysis. Does it mean you don’t count them as favourites?

      • niko

        Nah, just didn’t have much to say about them. I didn’t understand Bulgaria last year and it’s the same this year. But it seems like it’s all in the staging this time, so I reserve comment until later.

        I get why some people see Norway as dangerous, but let’s be honest, if anyone other than Rybak was performing this, we would not be talking about this as threatening the top. It is a kid’s song, juries are not going to like it very much and I also think it is too simple to move enough people to vote for it.

    • eurovicious

      I totally agree with Niko on Israel, Estonia, Czech Rep, Australia, Switzerland and Norway (if not on Sweden).

  • Chris Bellis

    Switzerland has to be a good bet for qualifying, as it’s the best one they’ve sent for years. Although they don’t have many friends, they don’t have many enemies either. So it will stand on the performance on the night. Last year Timebelle looked promising, but it didn’t come together on the night. Maybe people realised that the band wasn’t that Swiss, but perhaps I am imputing too much.

    • niko

      Totally agree! (perhaps not about Apollo, but let’s keep that aside) It has a good spot in the running order and feels fresh, modern and different from much of the semifinal. I don’t dare right now to say it will qualify, but I really hope so.

    • Burlington Bertie

      I think the Swiss song is appealing for all sorts of reasons but the first semi is just way too hard to predict so I’m personally not going near the TQ/NTQ field. That said, once rehearsals start I may end up getting sucked in as usual.

      • Chris Bellis

        BB – don’t we all, despite our better judgement. That’s how Betfair makes its money. We know we should wait, but the chance of better odds sucks us in.

        • Burlington Bertie

          Absolutely. I’m hovering on an e/w on NL at present, currently @ 66/1. The odds keep lengthening on this but once the field is shortened after the semis it’s unlikely to be so good. Too many decisions/possibilities and rehearsal footage is just around the corner to add to the general confusion. I’m starting to get into that state where you know you’ve over analysed it but you can’t help continuing to do so. Maybe I need to step away from this screen!

          • Chris Bellis

            BB Yes, I’m in the same state. On NL I can see its charm, and I have loads of country rock just like this on my system, but I wonder how it will go down on the night? Waylon is brilliant, but the last time he did well in Eurovision was with an incredibly well staged Alison Krauss style number. This year it’s a more mainstream sub Jon Bon Jovi sort of thing, and I’m not sure it will have the same impact, unless it gets a similar level of staging to the Common Linnets. That does make it a good punt, as people said the Common Linnets wouldn’t do so well until the staging on the night swung it. Difficult to know what to do! Good luck BB.

          • Thanks for the shout – got on NL E/W at 50/1, paying out 4 places. Gone E/W on France as well at 10/1 whilst I’m on Sportsbook.

            Not laid Israel yet, but I’ve got quite a lay for the UK on the Last Place market.

  • Burlington Bertie

    Does anyone know if gambling online when in Portugal is restricted? A friend of mine was in Majorca a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t get a bet on something because they were blocked. I managed it in Stockholm, Vienna and Dusseldorf but I’ve heard that countries differ in their gambling rules. Any advice welcome.

    • Chris Bellis

      Hi BB You need to install a proxy app that makes it look as though you are in UK. Or set up a Gibraltar account before you go, which has the advantage of less tax on your winnings. I use Kproxy but there are loads. I have a Gib Betfair account for when I’m in Spain, but I imagine it would work in Portugal too. Just don’t use it on any public wifi spots. Not to bore you, but I had to spend a day of one holiday cleaning my partner’s computer of malware she’d managed to get using ebay on hotel open wifi in Lisbon. And it was the persistent kind where I had to boot up in safe mode to remove the registry items.

    • I’ll do what I did when I went to Spain last summer – leave a PC on at home then TeamViewer in.

      • Chris Bellis

        That’s a good solution, but anybody doing this should use a VPN when connecting on an open wifi. I use KProxy, but Hotspot Shield, Windscribe etc are ok and free unless you are downloading masses of data. Windscribe gives you 10 GB per month. Great for connecting to “forbidden” sites. In my case usually torrent sites, but works in countries like China where they block anything they don’t like.

  • gcd

    First time posting but always read – built a quick model to test out how the jury voting change would have affected last year’s results. There’s an assumption as to how they assign the scores based on the curve they provided.

    Updated scores below, and in brackets is the old jury score.

    1 Portugal 391 (382)
    2 Bulgaria 278 (278)
    3 Sweden 219 (218)
    4 Australia 153 (171)
    5 Italy 143 (126)
    6 Norway 142 (129)
    7 Netherlands 125 (135)
    8 Belgium 114 (108)
    9 Moldova 109 (110)
    10 United Kingdom 99 (99)
    11 Austria 74 (93)
    12 Denmark 71 (69)
    13 Azerbaijan 67 (78)
    14 France 58 (45)
    15 Romania 58 (58)
    16 Greece 56 (48)
    17 Armenia 54 (58)
    18 Hungary 52 (48)
    19 Belarus 47 (50)
    20 Cyprus 36 (36)
    21 Israel 28 (34)
    22 Poland 23 (23)
    23 Croatia 23 (25)
    24 Ukraine 12 (12)
    25 Germany 5 (3)
    26 Spain 0 (0)

    Overall result would have been as follows:

    1 Portugal
    2 Bulgaria
    3 Moldova
    4 Belgium
    5 Italy (+ 1)
    6 Sweden (- 1)
    7 Romania
    8 Hungary
    9 Norway (+ 1)
    10 Australia (-1)
    11 France (+ 1)
    12 Netherlands (-1)
    13 Croatia
    14 United Kingdom (+ 1)
    15 Azerbaijan (-1)
    16 Greece (+ 3)
    17 Belarus
    18 Denmark (+ 2)
    19 Armenia (-1)
    20 Austria (- 4)
    21 Cyprus
    22 Poland
    23 Ukraine (+ 1)
    24 Israel (-1)
    25 Germany
    26 Spain

    Main points are that as expected, “nice” songs that don’t attract many low rankings suffer under the new system (e.g. Australia, Austria). The sort of songs you might have expected to see do better – Romania & Croatia, for example – seem relatively unaffected. Italy would have snuck into the top 5 as well which would have paid out for many I’m sure…

    Will give previous years a go over the weekend.

    • squall

      Thanks for sharing. What model did you use here? From what I could find EBU didn’t publish the exact new formula, but I may have missed it of course.

    • Shai

      Thank you for doing this and for sharing.

      I wonder how the the new system would have affected the qualifications or/and non qualifications from the semis. Are there changes there?

      They are not very clear about how they allocate the points.

      My thinking is that they will do it like this:
      1. Semi final- a different of 0.5 between ranking – 1st place get 12 points, 2nd place 11.5 points ect.- until around ranking 11 or 12, where the difference will be 1 point between the ranking. In a 19 songs semi, the last 2 songs get 1 each point. In a 18 songs semi, this will fit nicely. They can always adjust this if they have even less songs per semi.

      2. Final- The same idea as above and between ranking 22-26 the difference will be 0.25 between the ranking. Again last 2 songs get 1 points each.

  • gcd

    Have been playing around with different exact values for points but looking closely at the diagram they provided I’ve used the following (have played around with a couple of different attempts but it doesn’t change the output very much)

    1 12
    2 10.5
    3 9.33
    4 8
    5 7
    6 6.2
    7 5.4
    8 4.6
    9 4
    10 3.6
    11 3.12
    12 2.72
    13 2.45
    14 2.2
    15 2
    16 1.8
    17 1.6
    18 1.4
    19 1.3
    20 1.2
    21 1.12
    22 1.016
    23 0.93
    24 0.9
    25 0.87
    26 0.84

    2016 Jury Results under new system:

    1 Australia 316 (320)
    2 Ukraine 219 (211)
    3 France 151 (148)
    4 Russia 136 (130)
    5 Belgium 134 (130)
    6 Sweden 129 (122)
    7 Malta 128 (137)
    8 Armenia 118 (114)
    9 Netherlands 118 (115)
    10 Bulgaria 115 (127)
    11 Israel 106 (124)
    12 Lithuania 100 (104)
    13 Georgia 87 (80)
    14 Italy 85 (90)
    15 Latvia 69 (67)
    16 Spain 67 (69)
    17 Hungary 56 (52)
    18 United Kingdom 48 (54)
    19 Croatia 46 (40)
    20 Cyprus 44 (44)
    21 Austria 42 (41)
    22 Azerbaijan 42 (31)
    23 Czech Republic 40 (43)
    24 Serbia 35 (35)
    25 Poland 5 (7)
    26 Germany 0 (1)

    Overall result would have been:

    1 Ukraine
    2 Australia
    3 Russia
    4 Bulgaria
    5 Sweden
    6 France
    7 Armenia
    8 Poland
    9 Lithuania
    10 Belgium
    11 Austria (+ 2)
    12 Netherlands (- 1)
    13 Malta (- 1)
    14 Latvia (+ 1)
    15 Italy (+ 1)
    16 Israel (- 2)
    17 Serbia (-1)
    18 Azerbaijan (-1)
    19 Hungary
    20 Georgia
    21 Cyprus
    22 Croatia (+ 1)
    23 Spain (-1)
    24 United Kingdom
    25 Czech Republic
    26 Germany

    So far:

    1) No huge jumps; Austria 2017 drop of 4 places is the biggest seen yet
    2) Top results haven’t changed much other than Italy / Sweden 2017 switching places
    3) Songs that have scored unusually high with the juries then bombed in the televote (Australia 2017, Malta 2016) seem to lose the most jury votes in the current system, which to me is great to see.

  • Chris Bellis

    Great work gcd

    “Songs that have scored unusually high with the juries then bombed in the televote (Australia 2017, Malta 2016) seem to lose the most jury votes in the current system, which to me is great to see.”

    Me too.

  • Considering how poor the song and (so far) live versions have been, Russia To Qualify is very short! I know they’ve lots of pals in SF2 and have avoided the Semi Of Death on the Tuesday, but it’s still seriously weak. Just pretending it’s a music competition for a second, surely there’s a risk it won’t qualify? Cue ol’ Vlad being a bit pissy on state television?

    • Hippo

      I’m one of the few who don’t hate this song, I personally have it in the better half of the offerings this year. Getting the vocal right is the huge challenge here, Yulia can’t perform it well and there’s the question of how obvious it is that she’s not even attempting the chorus. There’s a lot of pals on the televote but also a lot of jurors who are either just going to ignore Russia or take great pleasure in giving them a kicking.
      I think they qualify, but the odds aren’t worth getting involved with either way.

      • Ande

        It’s a good test on how how strong the “cute handicapped performing against all odds” USP is. I don’t believe she will qualify but it’s difficult to tell, it’s certainly no Aina Mun Pitää.

  • Andy

    France song Mercy has a political message and odds dropping. France may become 2nd favourite soon

    • Too bad it’s not a jury song, otherwise it could have been a contender.

      • Chris Bellis

        @Tim B
        What makes you think it’s not a jury song? Just curious about your reasoning to enable me to come to a decision about it.

        • Because it was only third with juries in its own national final and it only finished 16th on the jury side in Eurojury. It’s too repetitive, it doesn’t build, there isn’t enough there as a composition for the juries to rank highly.

          • Chris Bellis

            Thanks Tim B
            You have to weigh all these things up, even if you are only betting (in my case) amounts you can afford.
            For me, the performance was lifted when SuRie depped for Madame. Interesting how the impact of a song can be altered by an almost intangible thing like that.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            @Tim B

            I’m a bettor on France. In the outright win market it’s my only bet, only series of bets. I thought your answer would say what it has. They’re my concerns, too.

            There’s no easy counters to those concerns.

            I too think it’s very repetitive and just a wee bit of a plodder, melodically.

            Although I’ve listened to Mercy dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times, I still have a tendency to prefer the dance remix versions of it. To me, Mercy is an underdeveloped electro-pop dance classic. I’m always waiting for it to speed up and break out, a la La Roux’s pumping, punkily-delivered classic: Bulletproof.

            I know you’re a big fan of the Lithuanian package. I have mixed feelings about the Lithuanian entry. Gorgeous, warmly vulnerable performer; heartfelt, touch of magic; beautiful theme and lyrics – versus – it’s sparse to the point of boredom, nothing happens, and her pronunciation of the key lyric word “old” is painful to these ears.

            I think the French and the Lithuanian packages have similar issues, but I think you’re right with your (very, very early) call that the juries will rate Ieva’s dreamy ballad highly. Plus, seniors watching from their homes around Europe will probably be very touched by the young fairy girl singing the romantic, everlasting love, swans-for-life sentiments, and will duly vote for it in their droves. Lithuania has cornered and has to itself an enormous demographic – the strength of which will not be very detectable, pre contest, from pre-jury votes, Youtube hits, spotify figures, etc.

            I note France smashed the televote in the Eurojury result. That strength won’t have been overemphasised by French-bots and proxy account votes. They’ll be real votes. Mercy did reach number 3 in the French Singles charts.

            To my way of thinking, the waves of momentum will be with Mercy and the slightly pretentious, posing performers who deliver it. It’s important. Important and catchy. And has the educational side-effect of teaching elementary French to the monolingual, such as myself!

            I have faith that the French delegation will handle the staging with a level of aplomb. Like with Jamala’s 1944, I think that the seriousness of the message to be delivered focuses minds, motivates minds and stops minds from straying indulgently. I’m thinking that films that are based on good books tends to be better than those based on popular video games. The strength of the message acts as an unseen yet palpable guiding directorial hand?

            With France, I’ve betted on France’s themes being plugged into something bigger, internationally bigger. Politicians are notorious for the photo opportunity afforded from kissing babies. I’m imagining there will be a felt inclination to want to be on-side with little Mercy.

            In it’s own undercover way, it could be said that the French package celebrates girl power.

            But yes, Mercy allows for no vocal showcase. Émilie talks her way through most of it! At times, it feels more like an act of storytelling (which has its own merits, of course). She’s more narrator than singer. The juries could just remain steadfastly unmoved and unimpressed by a pair of French posers – one sort of preachily talk-singing, the other moodily looking like he thinks he’s co-starring in a Ralph Lauren or Paco Rabanne advert.

            I’m conflicted about the probable jury score / ranking for France.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            @Chris Bellis

            Yes, I agree. I felt the same thing. SuRie showed how to deliver the song.

            SuRie was holding, cradling Mercy in her arms; Émilie preaches to you about Mercy.

            I remember you posting a while ago, on a discussion about the French performers. You were spot on, all along.

            SuRie noticeably lighted Monsieur’s demeanour, too. I suppose he has to take his performance cue from the frontwoman.

            I would love to hear SuRie (with sufficient preparation time!) sing Mercy in French. That would be a kind of perfect for me.

            Must say that for a package that has its apparent weaknesses, France is getting plenty low in the betting. Plenty of cash going down on Norway, too, by the current looks of it.

  • Showlad

    Hi Tim. I feel exactly the opposite – it’s going to do much better with the juries than the televote (think French final juries a red herring and we read far too much in to ‘one offs eg Salvador and his national final etc and then walked it with juries at ESC). .

  • Showlad

    As for Eurjury – it’s been documented some huge clangers there and 65% accuracy is OK but far too much blind faith in it on here imho

    • The Nefeilibata

      Personally I think it’s foolish to take polls like that as true gospel. Especially not in a year like this, I don’t feel comfortable completely dismissing anyone at this stage.

      • Chris Bellis

        Good point, but I think you can dismiss Iceland and San Marino.

        • gcd

          Whilst they can get many things totally wrong, the following poll have never failed to put the eventual winner in the top 10:

          1) OGAE
          2) EuroJury
          3) ESCStats

          Countries which have been top 10 in all three are:

          2014: Austria, Sweden, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, UK
          2015: Sweden, Italy, Norway
          2016: Ukraine, Australia, Russia, Bulgaria, France, Spain
          2017: Portugal, Bulgaria, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, France, FYR Macedonia

          So in 2014 this was 4 of the top 5, 2015 was 2, 2016 was 4, and in 2017 was 4. I think that’s a decent hit rate.

          In fact, there’s only 4 examples of such an entry not making the top 10 (UK 2014, Spain 2016, Macedonia 2017, France 2017).

          Given that, I make that there’s only 4 countries this year in all 3 top 10s:

          Israel
          Czech Republic
          Bulgaria
          Cyprus

          On Betfair you can get Cyprus 4.3 to make top 10, and 9.2 to make top 5.

          • gcd

            Should add that I just took the jury section of the EuroJury results as the ‘televote’ bit was new unless I’m mistaken?

            If you want to take the final result you can add France, Finland & Belgium to the list; I wouldn’t personally as think the three polls are potentially asking the same people otherwise.

  • If France gets momentum in the bubble it could win. 2nd on OGAE and 1st with Eurojury public suggest it will get some buzz in these weeks.

    I like Eurojury and good on them for running it but the “juries” in Eurojury are almost all made of one person with a couple that are two people. They tend to be former ESC artists and I presume (hope) have similar instructions to the actual juries. Good record for jury vote but their results are early, so any country’s hype from now can change things.

    If a song is decent to begin with then politics and buzz can make all the difference.

    • Milton

      I seem to remember in previous years that Eurojury had fans as jurors in some countries. This year they have managed to get someone from every participating country who has some kind of Eurovision background as a writer or a performer in the contest itself or as part of the national selection process, so that’s progress. I don’t think that necessarily makes them fans of the contest, it just means they are musicians, like most of the real jurors, so en masse they are probably fairly representative and past results do give it some credibility. With respect you’re mistaken that most juries comprise of just one juror, the average jury this year had 2.2 jurors.

  • Showlad

    @ Danile and Cliff Hilda Re France: Tart au Humble is my accompaniment with my coffee today 😉
    I think the great thing on Sofabet and the key to successes is trying to stay open minded and challenging your views and not becoming entrenched. Joking aside, I have revisited the French song from studio to live and putting different heads on over the last 24 hours.My fundamental view remains the same except with a couple of crucial caviats. Yes I still like it and it is a classy pop song but it’s not a winner unless… :
    IF the message catches fire then indeed Madam is a classy performer somewhat in the same vein as Salvador – arty, credible, sincere, authentic. Unlike Salvador where it was HIMSELF and the emotion of the song that was key and needed no translating, here it is the MM actual song theme that needs to be understood by non-French speaking viewers.
    The problems remain however in the shape of a huge mountain to climb…. :
    Guildo and Henry are spot on that the ‘message’ and cool song style could create a very strong internal jury vibe and it could potentially do VERY well with juries. But next lies MM’s major problem – Joe Public. At various non-ESC fan listenings I have done, absolutely nobody likes it particularly or picks up on it (even when I latterly explained the message). Another main issue on a primary front is that the song is weaker than Salvador’s by some way and that this year’s front runner, Israel, is much stronger than Italy last year too on many fronts.
    An AMAZING staging will be needed to avoid getting pummeled in the public vote – even if it it did have a considerable jury lead heading into the public vote.
    France is in the mix but many big asks…

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      “Unlike Salvador where it was HIMSELF and the emotion of the song that was key and needed no translating, here it is the MM actual song theme that needs to be understood by non-French speaking viewers.”

      Excellent distinction.

      I could be repeating the same mistake I made last year, in overestimating Italy and the potential of its theme to translate.

      As this year’s prime candidate to make an impact of a depth comparable to Salvador has been Netta, and as Israel have long been prohibitively miniscule odds in all win markets, I cast around beyond the performer for something with an inbuilt extra.

      At least if France do fail it won’t be because their stage show is perceived as a novelty joke. More likely it will fail as it is perceived as too preachy, too up itself, and maybe slightly cynical.

  • markovs

    Wouldn’t touch France until we know the exact staging. If they don’t get the message of the song across in spades then I cannot see how this song can win. There are so many magnets for the public vote they have to make a big impact. The song itself is great, especially after a few listens, but is not one that grabs you on First listen . I just don’t see why this is dropping so low in the betting.

    Saying that, in the most open year since 2011, cases can be made for so many countries as default winners and France must be one of them. All of the top countries in the betting have major doubts over them and are risky bets.

    Rehearsals have started and it’s time to see who steps up to the plate. Rybak anyone?

  • Ande

    Not terribly impressed by Mikolas Josef’s first rehearsal. It’s competent but not the quality you’d expect from a Eurovision winner.

  • Ande

    Belgium isn’t winning either. ‘When We’re Old’ would’ve needed some ambient quality (maybe through augmented reality) to fluff it up up and keep viewers emotionally engaged.

    • Ande

      Should be Lithuania. This one is still good though, not a winner but could do top 10. Question if if viewers at home will be bored or sentimental enough to vote. It lacks some energy.

  • Ande

    Israel underwhelms. It’s a bit messy and the looper is not prominent enough. Perhaps they can get it together in time for the final though.

  • Ande

    Belarus is great 😀 It’s definitely qualifying!

    • Chris Bellis

      Ande Belarus is the dark horse imo.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      My idea of a dark horse for surprising with a Top 5 finish is the Ukraine.

      I haven’t noticed it warranting much attention on here; the online betting markets indicate a lack of attention there (currently trading for the outright win on bf @180); and the Eurojury results are abject – it finished ranked 34th, with 7 points on the jury vote; it finished 27th on the combined ranking of jury vote and online vote, with 39 points.

      Despite this it has a lot going for it.

  • I can’t see Israel winning based on that. I’m not underwhelmed, nor overwhelmed. I’m merely whelmed.

    Belgium surprises. Many had written her off after a dodgy vocal at Israel Calling but she’s pulled it back.

    Czech is a good song, but the choreo is awful! It’s one of those that works better on the radio and not in vision.

    Like many I’m waiting to see the mighty Rybak and from the Big 5 France and ourselves. Spain might be alright but it needs to be slightly less “get-a-room” staging-wise.

    The only one we really know about is Sweden, with a carbon copy of the Melfest staging.

    On a separate note, anyone here on the 0705 EasyJet out of Luton next Sunday (6th)? Is it too early for a beer in departures?

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      As with most others, I thought that Israel has long been underpriced. A market corrective has been overdue.

      I haven’t seen any footage of the rehearsals but imagine Israel will still remain favourite?

      It’s moving towards a more realistic price…but it will still remain the worthy favourite?

      Why do you think it can’t win? What is it currently missing?

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Sight unseen, I would speculate that it is still the worthy favourite. It’s probably a good thing, and natural, for the hype and pressure to dissipate somewhat. Netta is a charismatic super talent so even if the show isn’t quite right yet it will soon be back on track.

    • What a coincidence, James! I’m on that flight. See you in the bar.

      • Chris Bellis

        On a similar flight from EMA. Might bump into you lot in the airport. Hope you are wearing something obvious! I’m staying with a couple of pals who live near Lisbon. They moved from Plaistow to Portugal many years ago because it was more gay friendly! I told them at the time that if you live in E15 you are going to find gay friendly and gay hostile people. Gay pubs and English Defence League pubs. They preferred the more laid back vibe of Cascais and Estoril. Don’t blame them.

  • markovs

    This morning Israel were a lay of 1.04 to qualify. A £2 bet wins 50.00. It’s a tough semi……

  • Stoney

    Whats going on with the Norway price crash? Ive backed them at 20s for the win and pulled my israel stakes onto a top 4 finish at 9/4

  • Stoney

    Norway now second favourites. Wow

    • Ande

      Norway’s Top 10 odds have up until very recently been quite favorable. Even if there might’ve been even better risk/reward alternatives spread some risk there was generally well advised.

      Now it’s obvious the market is feeling nervous about Netta and are trying to decide who the ‘backup winner’ is, so when some see winning qualities (like Rybak’s charisma, ‘La Forza’s vocal display) they latch on to that while ignoring other glaring weaknesses. Rybak’s name-charisma-production combo is surely a difficult to resist hook-line-and-sinker for the casual (UK?) betting enthusiast.

      This means the market consensus right now is moving in the direction of Norway being the ‘default winner’. I don’t agree to that sentiment and place ‘That’s how you write a song’ in a similar category to ‘You Are The Only One’ in 2016. That year the market misjudged Russia to be the ‘default winner’ while they should’ve leaned more towards Australia and France to find a more jury agreeable ‘default winner’ type of entry. This is because even if performed to perfection (like Sergey in 2016) juries will not allow an über-cheese to win unless the competition is really dire.

      Laying Norway at below 10 (betting Norway not to win at 1.1 or above) is a well calculated position.

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