Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016. The Top 10.

Tonight we'll find out whether Moscow has won the battle for Eurovision. Big Red has certainly thrown a huge amount of effort and one of its best stars into this thing. They really do mean business, and probably feel pretty hard done by after last year when they would have won had some juries not changed the numbers at the last moment.

Russia and Australia start the favourites bu quite a margin by I shall be brave and say that neither will win. I just have a feeling that the efforts and obvious attempts to appeal to everyone by Russia could backfire and make way for a simpler and more West-friendly nation. Australians may be super supporters of the whole Eurovision thing but, really, there should be a rule that says Australia can join in but we're not letting someone from a totally different part of the planet win. Dami Im is lovely, a super singer and demonstrates the power of make-up superbly but we already give South Korea a massive load of money with all the products we buy that they make without adding support for their recent emigrant to the pot. I am also a bit bothered by her odd sequencing of the lyrics. Paul Simon would definitely not approve, either, and I am a big fan of the guy.

So who will win?

This really is quite an odd year with no particularly good songs so I believe it will be a close-run affair. Here are my predictions, which, as always I have backed with cash at Betfair.

10 United Kingdom

Yes, I reckon the boys will make it this year. There's no-one vaguely like them and they have quite an appeal that our previous years' entries have not had. The singles selling well abroad too. But not that well.

9 Israel

If he gets things right, this guy could put on one of the better performances although I accept that Israel is not everyone's favourite nation, which is why I'm leaving him at 9. A worthy track, well-produced and the guy makes up each performance as he goes so it is very natural.

8 The Netherlands

Last year they nearly made it with their gentle strum-along song. This is pretty similar and is just a pleasant number with a nice guy singing with his band backing him. It doesn't do a great deal or make you want to go and buy it tomorrow but there is a certain charm about the track and the lead singer is a super performer who shouldn't put a step wrong. he;s been great i rehearsals all the way so far.

7 Cyprus

This is a bit of a long shot but this is a group that is unlike the rest of the crowd. Looking at how well The Disturbed have done recently then there may be some who vote for this band who rock along nicely with what is quite a catchy number. Their performances have been complicated and not that brilliant i some rehearsals but if they get it right there's a chance they'll be up there.

6 Australia

Dami Im will endear herself to lots and lots of fans I am sure and her dress and make-up and singing will be flawless. It's just a poor song in my view and, as I said before, Australia is a lovely country but it isn't in Europe. She will get enough votes to make the Top 10, though, easily.

5 France

This has been a huge hit across Europe and deservedly so as it is a good little pop song. It'll do well and many have predicted that it will win. I just have a feeling that it is almost too obvious with its ooo-ooo-ooo bits. The guy has also been missing quite a lot of notes in practice and relying on backing singers. he may do better than this but not a great deal worse.

4 Russia

After all their effort they will have to come close to the top. Sergei is a great singer, hardly ever puts a note wrong and also has a very difficult set of moves to do, with a tremendously impressive backscreen to work with as well. It's just, well, all a bit much. Russia will, though, get support and bags of votes from all their friends - and there are plenty, but not quite as many as before.

3 Italy

I think this is the best song of the evening and the singer is superb in terms of reaching the right notes and her delivery generally. She lacks a bit of personality which is a shame and she will need to smile and appeal a bit more than she has done so far to make this position but I feel there is much love for Italy and hope they do reach this position, or maybe even take the crown.

2 Ukraine

Controversial, this one. I may be completely wrong. The singer has written this herself and it breaks almost all the normal Eurovision 'How To Win' Book rules but that may even be in its favour. I don't understand all the lyrics or the history but suffice it to say she is unlikely to get any votes from Russia. If the singer manages to reach all the notes she has done in most rehearsals then this could be amazing. if she wails instead then I'll be very wrong and regret asking you to listen to it. Because it is so political, I fear that many voters will shy away from giving Ukraine the douze points and prevent her wining but I do expect to see her in the Top Ten.

1 Sweden

I am going for the double for Sweden. The song is not brilliant and the singer a bit bland but he is about the only modern thing on the menu apart from Justin Timerberlake and the Lithuanian guy. Hmm, maybe I should have backed the Lithuanian guy. No, Sweden are the only Scandinavian nation left in this thing this year which is remarkable but also likely to produce quite a few heavy points from their neighbours of whom there are plenty who have no-one else to vote for.

My personal favourites this year have been Austria and Croatia but, despite them both being well-produced numbers, the performers have been a little unreliable in rehearsals and the tracks are probably a bit old-fashioned for a 2016 contest.

Apart from Lithuanian's young fellow, the other two to look out for, each of whom could make the Top if they get things right and some others don't, are Malta's Ira and Armenia's Iveta. Both excellent singers with decent numbers who ought to be in the Top 10, if not the Top 5. One of them may, indeed, replace Italy and come fairly high but there may be some splitting of votes for dark-haired ballad singers this year and I shalls tick with Italy winning that particular battle.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Russia Crash but Armenia Impress at Rehearsal Day 1

The first day of rehearsals seems to have had an impact on some of the views as to who will do well on the Big Night. Russia, the major favourites since the start, had a difficult day. The staging seems so complex and requires all sorts of manoeuvres by the singer, few of which actually succeeded today. Having said that, Russia are renowned for not giving up and will, I am sure, put every conceivable effort into make things go perfectly on the night. For that reason, they may have broader odds now and, for the first time, France are 1st equal but they do remain at the top.

The young lady from Armenia got the only real appreciative applause from the various people watching, a sort of press gallery plus hangers-on and relatives I suppose. That does say something, though, and I get the feeling she impressed everyone. Armenia has been in the Top 10 for weeks already. This put her in the Top 5 for the first time.

The Netherlands and Hungary had a reasonable day but didn't do enough to move their odds much. They have each been consistently between 14 and 18 and seem to be around there still, Hungary climbing a few places but there are still 14 higher.

Croatia is the big disappointment for me so far. Once as high as 3rd, they are now 23rd. I can only assume that the singer simply isn't doing a good job at all. Or that expectations were way too high at the outset. Indeed, Croatia would,as the betting stands at the time of writing, not get through the Semi Final. There would be some recompense in that would mean Austria, another of my own favourites, would get through in their place. Group 1 is a tough one this year.

Although several others also rehearsed they are pretty unlikely to get very far so I won't bother with their reviews at this time. There is always some strange freak event that puts through a really bad act from the Semi Finals and I can comment at that time if and when it happens! For now, suffice it to say that San Marino, Moldova, Greece didn't exactly move from their 1000-1 odds and Finland, at 800-1 stay pretty much out there too!!

One surprise beneficiary of the misfortune of others seems to be our UK boys who have not only made the Top 20 but reached the dizzy heights of 18th equal! They are the only act who have closed odds so significantly as the chart above shows. It does also show, however, that they have not exactly wobbled much further down since mid-April. I still think they'll make it a fair bit higher. But then I always do overrate UK's chances.

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