Thursday, May 07, 2015

Eurovision: last bets please

If you're looking for the best odds on Eurovision then the next few days are likely to represent the best opportunities. So far, all anyone has really heard or seen have been the tracks released on the promotional videos. These will usually be well engineered and, other than the live show performances, artists had the chance to fix things that didn't quite go right or notes that didn't get reached. The audition performances where they are playing or singing in front of a large audience can be more reliable but even then there could be a backing track that they may not be able to use in Vienna.

So, so far, we don't really know how well they'll sound on the Vienna stage, live, with just the permitted backing and band. The rehearsals will start early next week and that's when there will be some changes. Those who don't do terribly well will see their odds grow and there will also be those who are increasingly fancied after they do a good job. Good songs can turn to rubbish overnight and previously dull or uninspiring numbers can acquire a new lease of life or personality.

How the acts interact with the many journalists writing about the competition, and how local fans react will also either increase or decrease expectations and, in inverse proportion, their odds.

There are three clear favourites at the moment: Sweden, Australia and Italy. I am still not convinced about Sweden's entry winning but, yes, it is the sort of song that is highly likely to be up there in the Top Few. Australia I feel similarly about. I can see them getting plenty of votes just because absolutely no-one should worry about giving them a few points long the way but I don't see that many 12s. Rumour has it that the guy can and will perform well and the novelty value will almost certainly bring them some consolation of a Top Few place. Of the three I fancy Italy and believe that the three singers are experienced enough to create a good atmosphere and strong song on the night. Their video is pretty poor so, in a sense, they should only get better! It has been a while since an operatic number has won and this could be the year and Vienna would be a suitable venue for that.

The next three I believe would be Iceland, Estonia and Denmark. Iceland's entry is very catchy but well constructed too. It also has girls in off-white dresses and no shoes who seem to do pretty well. It is a bit of a copy of Emmilie De Forest's winning entry from a couple of years ago, though but it looks a very good bet for the Top 10 if not the Top 5 and odds are looking generous

Estonia are already well discounted and currently predicted to come 4th. Theirs is a powerful girl and boy song and I am pretty sure that will be well liked and hit the Top 10 although I would expect Iceland to beat them still.

Denmark seem ridiculously unfancied at the moment and I don't see why. They have a great, catchy and appealing number that could have been performed by One Direction and no-one would notice much difference. They have a fan base too. The guys look a bit clean and anaemic in the video and the two girls.could have been copied from the 1970s but if they all perform well and look a bit less chocolate boxy on the night this is a potential winner in my opinion. At odds of several hundred to one and around 8-1 just to make the Top ten this is well worth thinking about. If their rehearsals go well expect those odds to shorten massively. This reminds me, odds-wise, of The Netherland's Common Linnets last year. They were way out at 600-1 and came second.

The other Top 10 contenders are Lithuania, Spain, Slovenia and one of Russia, UK and Azerbaijan.

Spain's entry is classic Euro-ballad. Very strong song and if the girl who sings it looks more human and less photoshopped but still produces such a powerful and accurate performance then she ought to follow the excellent example set by Ruth lorenzo last year and get Spain back in the top flight. However, I also recall a gorgeous track either one or two years previously that only just scraped off the bottom of the whole thing. So Spain cannot be relied on for the popular vote for some reason.

Lithuania have a cheery number which includes kissing and that's always going to get some votes. It should do well across borders too, the country having quite a few friends in the Baltic as well as East European voters.

Slovenia's girl is quite sexy, an unusually scarce quality this year, sounds a bit like Lulu and several other more recent chart successes here and she is definitely one who will either do much better or much worse depending upon how she manages the stage on her own. Her cracked voice and slightly down lyrics may not please everyone but enough, possibly, for the Top 10.

Russia have what seems to be an almost manufactured song with all the right words in all the right places and most of the notes in the right register too. The singer is almost too perfect looking in another heavily air-brushed video and you just feel that old Big Red is trying too hard again. they'd so much like to win but I don't see this doing it. They always get far more votes than I predict so I guess they will be the one act that makes the Top 10 out of these last three but there were one or two notes that weren't quite right and something was missing in the one performance I've heard so far and that says that it isn't at all certain.

That means United Kingdom have a chance. I always think we ought to have a chance but recent years have not been good. Blue almost made the Top Ten a few years ago but since then we have done really quite badly. This year we're taking another big chance with a 30s style song that is quite unlike anything else that is in the mix this year. That's quite a good thing and, if the voters across the nations get it, UK could do very well indeed as I feel we would get a good flow of reasonable numbers from everywhere. However, a; less than inspiring performance, bum notes or just a mood that's not consonant with the rhythm of Electric Whoever will see them way over on the right side of the board once more.

If Russia bores us and United Kingdom annoys us then there's always Azerbaijan. No commentators particularly want to go back to Baku, though, and they do have some influence locally. The Azerbaijan entry is a bloke who sings remarkably well but he does have an odd shaped face. Great notes and all good traditional Euroballad that is bound to get marks from almost everyone. That's not just because they're a bit frightened of Azerbaijan but it is a good average number and will get good average votes. That might be enough, with Russia's twelve points to push them into the Top 10.

So now's the time to get some good odds on winning or things like Top 10 positions. Once you see odds falling next week for some acts then that may well be an indication that they've done well at rehearsal and, whilst they may still have Semi Finals to get through, if it's an act I've mentioned or you fancy then catch it before it drops further. After that, you have the Semi Finals when we'll get a very good indication of not just how people will perform live but also how they look like attracting votes generally. That's the second time odds will tumble and when you'll need to jump quickly. The third time, of course, will be on the night as they perform and the fourth and final time to get anything like decent odds will be when the first few actual votes are cast and we get a glimpse of real potential results.

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