Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tanks a lot!

As Putin pulls back the troops that had gathered on the borders of all the Eastern bloc countries and quietly sips a vodka to mark the success of his strategy to take over Europe, I raise my glass to the Betfair system for getting the whole thing moreorless spot on. Yes, Russia won and everyone else lost.

Russia 1
Ukraine 2
Greece 3
Armenia 4
Norway 5
Serbia 6
Turkey 7
Azerbaijan 8
Israel 9
Bosnia & Herzegovina 10
Georgia 11
Latvia 12
Portugal 13
Iceland 14
Denmark 15
Spain 16
Albania 17
Sweden 18
France 19
Romania 20
Croatia 21
Finland 22
Germany 23
Poland 24
United Kingdom 25

I'd forgotten that all the countries could vote which is fair enough but messed up some calculations. The UK entry was never a contender though but coming last was a bit bizarre. Why on earth don't we put someone with real talent and international appeal in? We do need to play the game now. Just think how much better we'd have done with someone like Katie Melua - and we'd have got douze points from Georgia. Or if it has to be a Pop Idol or X Factor participant, at least enter the winner not an also-ran. We did that with Alexander who didn't beat Alex Parkes a few years back. Imagine Girls Aloud, even Shayne Ward, and, of course, Leona Lewis . . . no way would they have come last. Fight the politics with a bit of class, I say.

Terry Wogan sounded genuinely morose and not just because he'd lost as much as I did on the night. Normally his exasperation and predictions of who'll get the 12s each time are uttered with a smirk but this year it seemed more like a scowl and a sigh. It's not even a gay event any more. So who will fly the flag of quirky commentary in Moscow? Step up Jonathan Ross, your country needs you, with Simon Cowell deciding the entry.

That's it for another year. I hope you made a few roubles on some top 4 or top ten bets, at least.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

One of these will win Eurovision 2008

As this may be my last post before the event, here are the latest odds and some one-liners for all the countries that survived through to the final. A previous post gave what the betting fraternity regard as the seven contenders. Below, the bold entries are what I think could win this year.

4.2 Russia
Professionally written, stage-managed. Reasonable number with excellent pedegree and Russia are desperate to win but I still don't see it. The performance at the semis wasn't that great either.
4.6 Ukraine
Great performance and she'll appeal to the boys and men but this Shady Lady's in the shadow of the 2004 winner. She'll get lots and lots of friends' votes so will be near the top but, again, I don't see it winning, despite the fast-dropping odds of late.
11.5 Greece
Much depends on how nice Greece has been to its neighbours of late, and they haven't got Cyprus to give them 12pts this time. Poppy tune, American pretty girl but she'll probably try too hard, scoring reasonably but not enough
12.5 Serbia
The first of my tips to win if voters are in anthemic, well-sung ballad mood and don't mind returning to Beograd next year
15 Sweden
Experienced blonde performs with confidence but that make-up puts me off. It'll do well but not as well as people think
16 Finland
Remarkable shortening of the odds for this competent but pretty un-Eurovision band of bare-chested rockers. I don't think it stands a chance but there you go.
18.5 Armenia
I have been tipping this but a disappointing performance in the semis seems to responsible for the drop from once challenging Russia for favourite. She looks better and the song's better than her Ukraine, Greek and Swedish rivals in this niche and she'll get plenty of friends and neighbours' votes. If she performs on the night then you'll be glad you got these odds!
32 Bosnia and Herzegovina
People don't seem to be able to make up their mind on this one. I'm going to make it one of my tips to win. It's a bit mad but (a) it is well-performed and (b) there are plenty of friends and neighbours so it has to do well anyway.
38 Turkey
Another rock group, this one's less hairy than Finland and not at all bad. But is a Turkish fairly serious rock group going to get that many votes? No, I don't think so.
46 Spain
I can't remember why I didn't like this and haven't heard it since. Probably best that way.
60 Portugal
Hmm. Don't know what this more serious stuff is doing to have the odds shorten so much this week. Competent and solid but instantly forgettable so unless they're on last or there are oldies in the juries, no chance.
65 France
Forgettable and average.
65 Georgia
Songs about peace and heroes do well and so will this. But not a winner as there are better ones for the money.
70 Norway
This is my fourth tip. The best of the Skandinavian entries and so may benefit from their generous friends and neighbours. Good song, simple but excellent presentation, good-looking girls. Great shade of blue at the semis. These odds are great.
85 Denmark
I get this one confused with Greece. One's chiki chiki and the other is a combination lock. Greece do it better so that's that really.
90 Azerbaijan
More peace and heroes, I think. Not a lot else.
100 Latvia
Why is this out at 100-1 still? This pirates rubbish is possibly the most instantly catchy and memorable of all the entries. With a hi, hi, hi . . . See, you're doing it now! (No, not the Pearl & Teddy Car entry). I mean, I'd never buy this and would try extremely hard not to let anyone catch me singing along but it could be the surprise of the night. But it is in Serbia and they are very serious so maybe it won't be. Chance of turning a tenner into a grand, though.
150 Iceland
Big production. Lots of good work went into this and, if excuted really well on the night this one will appeal to a good number. Just not quite enough douze points, though, for the top spot.
160 Israel
Now here's a potential winner. Genuinely good song, well-produced and well-performed too. I just don't know how many friends Israel has these days. I'll tip it anyway.
180 Romania
This was much more strongly favoured before but has almost sunk without trace. Must have been a poor semis performance. I'd say we can forget it now.
190 Poland
This was my very first tip but, whilst the Celine Dionnesque performance, which has quality, and the gorgeous aquamarine dress are strong points and the song strong itself, Ukraine or Spain'll get the diva points, and Serbia, Georgia or Albania the ballad points.
190 Croatia
Oh dear, some old guy and some more strange people singing at odd times + a woman doddering about in a less than attractive way doesn't do it for me. It may actually be well sung but not really sure what it is.
220 UK
Well, we're not bottom of the betting list, at any rate. 220's an improvement on 300, too. The guy is just not going to win, though, so it doesn't make much difference.
280 Albania
I like this one. Not sure why it's such high odds - maybe Albania's not that popular amongst the main blocs. The girl's just 16 but performs well and it's a gentle but effective tune. There is just that slim chance that, if she does it well on the night and others are a bit average and if the sort of simplicity and peace and all that jazz appeal to the old juries, then this would be a contender.
290 Germany
Er, no idea about this one. Must have forgotten it as soon as he or she stopped.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

7 contenders now

Of which five are from the Eastern bloc! That could actually be good news for the other two, Greece and Sweden, although I really don't see either winning somehow.

The first semi final has just despatched Ireland to the bin, thank goodness, as a terrible performance of what might have been an amusing entry left most people completely bemused instead. That particular group of voters preferences has also clearly had its effect on some other odd entries with Latvia, for example, dropping to 100-1 and making me wonder why I didn't wait before parting with my money. If they get through their semi then they're worth a top ten bet if the final voters have a sense of humour.

The biggest change of heart amongst those putting money on entries, which is admittedly rather different to assessing the merits of the tune, has been for Bosnia and Herzegovina who have come from very long odds down to an extraordinary 18-1. This has been at the expenses of Armenia, dropping to 14. I didn't see all the semi final and it may be that the Armenian girl didn't perform so well live or the BH entry did. I'll check the recording later and report back.

I'm now going to forget about Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria and Romania whose odds have all lenghthened and there's simple no chance of any winning. So that just leaves the seven contenders, with Norway ay 50-1 my latest long shot for fun. There's also the UK at 300 still!! The more I hear that song the more I wonder what on earth came over the voters at our selection stage. Never mind them, what came over the selectors themselves even remotely considering it had a chance? Still tempting for a top ten bet, though, as there is some sympathy for the UK nowadays and the guy looks like he needs it.

Here are the lastest for the seven:

Russia 4.2-
Serbia 7.4+
Ukraine 8.4-
Greece 9.4-
Armenia 14+
Sweden 14-
Bosnia and Herzegovina 18-

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Pre- semi wobbles

Russia still lead the betting stakes but have lengthened to over 5-1 and there's really not much to choose between any of the top three now. Serbia and Armenia keep switching places and the trio are poles apart from anyone else. Sense finally seems to be dawning on people with Ireland now predicted 6th at 21-1 and Ukraine in 5th at 11.5

It seems that more people are now actually hearing the songs or seeing the videos and realising that it would be an apalling travesty if Ireland's dreadful rant won when class acts like Serbia and possibly the best modern, youthful track for 2008, Armenia. (She really is lovely, too.)

Russia have clearly sunk a few million football, gas and oil roubles into getting their guy set up but do smart young men with 90s boy band acts win Eurovision? No. Cliff was quite old, remember and General F sorted him out anyway. And I have to wonder why on earth, after all the effort their people made to get out from under the Soviet Thumb, now independent nations are going to support the country when Putin II is playing with his tanks as I write. Maybe they're Chelsea supporters or worried about their gas supplies . . .

So, yes, I'll lose a fortune if Russia wins but hope to be delighted by someone, almost anyone else except Spain.

Maybe I should also mention that Armenia have almost as much UK £ backing them at the moment as Russia which should tell us something.

OK, so who else is in the frame now? I've just nabbed Latvia at 34-1. Poland and UK have shortened a bit to 240 and 280. I'd love to see UK back in the running. I mean we have the best commentator by a mile in Terry Wogan and I sometimes think that he has single-handedly made this the crazy event that it is! But, come on, listen to Andy A and even all the smart Brit production people haven't been able to fix some pretty lousy notes and a tune that I'm amazed got selected and which the man himself has admitted to being amazed to be selected. I do expect him to put on a good show on the day and he can connect with an audience but I worry whether a 30-1 top 10 bet is even worth risking.

So, go Armenia, just so that the Serbs don't get famous for two in a row and go go Latvia to make me a nice packet! Poland? Well, let's see if Miss Gee gets through the semis.

Here are the latest numbers: + means odds lengthening, - shortening.

Russia 5.2 +
Serbia 6.2 -
Armenia 7 -
Ukraine 11.5 +
Sweden 15.5 =
Ireland 21 ++
Turkey 28 =
Spain 29 +
Bulgaria 34 -
Latvia 34 --

Latvia odds dropping fast

Very catchy so if catchy's going to win back Latvia at mid 30s if you can get in. If they get through the semis then I'm sure the odds will drop like a stone. Seems as likely to appeal as much as Ireland, Spain etc but with more friends.
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