Sunday, May 06, 2012

Eurovision 2012 The Top 10 contenders

With just over a couple of weeks before the two Semi Finals it could be a good time to take a good hard look at the Eurovision 2012 entries and try to whittle them down to some kind of Top 10.

The bookmakers have Sweden as clear favourites at the time of writing - the full list of odds available can be seen here. They have been so wrong in previous years, though - remember the wonderful and much favoured operatic entry from France? Superb video and impeccable recorded performance but, on the night, it just didn't work live and the poor fellow finished up nearly last.


Country Digital odds
Sweden 3.3
Italy 9.4
Russia 12.5
UK 14
Serbia 15.5
Denmark 18.5
Iceland 23
Romania 24
Spain 24
Germany 29
Ireland 29
Norway 34
Greece 36
Cyprus 50
odds as at 4pm 5 May 2012 from Betfair

Let's start with the Sweden entry and its main competition in that genre.

Sweden

It really will be down to how well the girl can recreate that atmosphere and performance on the live stage. Lighting, dance moves, the guy that's dancing around her, the force of the backing track - if they all come together then this is the one.

Cyprus

This is a crazily commercial and fun track. I've backed this from the start and if the singer can put the same amount of energy in as she puts into the live performances I've seen so far, and can be slightly less frightening with her expressions, with styling, clothes to make her look as pretty as in some of the photos too then she ought to be popular and, importantly, highly memorable too.

Malta

Another commercial track. It has a boring start - it begins to get going but then gets boring again but eventually settles into the good, commercial stuff with a satisfying, albeit predictable end. The guy's main competition is Norway but my guess is that Malta's man will be more reliable on the night and, for those who like this modern dance genre, I reckon Malta, despite heavy odds against at the moment, have a chance. I just don't see voters putting Malta above Sweden or Cyprus. He could get a good average across the board. Enough to make the Top 10 but not to win.

Norway

The group's lead singer is the best looking in the competition which won't do him any harm. It's a pretty catchy number and certainly will attract a good selection of votes. With an exceptional performance then he might just nudge Norway into the Top 10 but my feeling is that they'll be beaten by each of the three above and are a longer shot. With the split of votes amongst potential fans too, and several Skandanavian bloc entries already in strong positions, Norway could lose out with the geographical split in votes too.

Next the single singer ballads

Serbia

This is a good, solid and ready to go performer and you get the impression that he won't let his nation down on the night. He has a sparkle in his eye too which is bound to appeal to many. It's a professional, quite operatic affair, with a strong voice, better in some ranges than Englebert's. This is one of very few of the Balkan bloc entries that look like winners this year. For that reason, almost alone, it cannot be discounted as a potential winner as I can see Serbia getting high average placings from a good number of countries nearby.

UK

This is a great song for Eurovision and must represent UK's best bet for a while. There is nothing quite like it which means less split of votes amongst those who like this type of music. Englebert carries his own fan club across Europe too and there's bound to be a good number in enough countries' voting panels to ensure that he gets a broad range of support and, possibly, some high rankings too. Unless he turns on some extraordinary charm on the night (which is a possibility, especially at 76!) then UK will lose out to Serbia because of the Balkan bloc preferences. But UK should make the Top 10 safely.

Albania

The only other vague contender in the ballad line is Albania's extraordinary entry. The odds are way long on this and they may not even make it past the Semi Final. If they do, though, and how well they do will be a guide to their chances on the night, then, with a very impressive performance of this weaving and wailing, very passionate number, Albania might gather some votes from all quarters. Not enough to challenge potential winners but possibly enough to make the Top 10. Unlikely, in my view, if only because this could be so difficult to get right on both nights, but I wouldn't write them off yet.

Now, the popular vote countries. These are all very different but could do well just because of either who they are or sheer Eurovision appeal.

Iceland

With a wind machine and re-written to cut down a ridiculously long break near the end, and a spotlight on a well-styled violinist this very well produced track could get Iceland up there in the Top 5. Like Sweden's entry, it is atmospheric and very much its success and appeal will depend on how well the couple, and particularly the girl, perform on the night. The Semi Finals will provide a good guide to how it is likely to go down with voters more widely but Iceland do tend to do well and get consistently average scores each year. They are up against Sweden, though, both in style if not genre and, of course, in Skandinavian preference votes so I can't see this beating the favourites but it could make the Top 10 and knock some others out as a result.

Denmark

This is really the only US/BritPop style entry of note. That has to be good news for Denmark and the girl lead singer is pretty, bouncy and enthusiastic. She will appeal to lots of younger voters and, with a good, solid and fun performance this might even win. The very strong Skandinavian bloc entries this year will reduce Denmark's chances in some respects, though, but, being one of its kind, that may not matter so much and is a sure-fire Top 10 entry. Watch how they do in the Semis against Iceland, Cyprus and Russia for a guide as to what may happen on the night.

Ireland

Just the best song by a long way. But the worst singers. JEdward are popular, in a bizarre way, and got Lipstick in the Top 10 last year. This is a far, far better song, actually quite brilliant and, with anyone else singing it, I'd predict it as a winner. But JEdward? I really don't know. Watch how they do in the 2nd Semi Final against Sweden, Serbia, Malta and Norway. That will be very interesting and their odds will either shorten massively or stay where they are.

Russia

Oh dear. I am trying not to talk about this entry much. It is dreadful. But it is Russia and they do seem to get good votes from almost everyone on their borders - and that's a lot of support. You simply cannot discount the possibility of their getting enough good rankings across the board to do well. This must not win, please. But it will probably, much as I hate to say this, make the Top 10. There is also little decent competition from countries like Ukraine who usually diminish their chances a bit. That will make a big difference. Unfortunately.

Two others to watch:

France

Their video performance is very over-produced but beneath all the heavy bass and rhythm is a simple and very clever track. And a whistle. If they strip it down effectively on the night then France, who don't need to qualify first, could surprise us.

Italy

Another country that will be first challenged on the Final night. It's a good, slightly jazz, slightly commercial, slightly off-beat number that might get a lot of support amongst the undecided voters. I can see it being popular and not as affected by regional bloc preferences or political friend voting as many others. Italy could be the one that people vote for because it is a bit different and we haven't heard from this nation for a while either. It's a harmless vote and they may get enough mid-range rankings, not only to make it into the Top 10 but possibly Top 5. Winner? I don't think so.

So, this year is complicated. I cannot make a prediction yet. Sweden still has my vote but don't exclude UK, Serbia, Denmark or even Ireland at this stage. I don't think there are other potential winners, at least. But it is very complicated!


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