Friday, May 12, 2017

Eurovision: counting on friends and neighbours

For a moment, the United Kingdom passed Sweden in the betting odds and became predicted to come 5th. As I write they're back in 6th place but there's little to choose between the two. The point is that UK are seriously becoming a contender while Sweden are gradually finding that the trend is for their odds to widen more and more.

At the Top, Italy hold on but a major advance is being made by both Portugal and Bulgaria. Surprisingly, after a pretty poor live Semi Final performance, Belgium have closed down too and are a strongly fancied 4th place. I understand too that they top the iTunes charts amongst Eurovision releases which is probably why the odds are falling - clear proof of popularity of the track if not the performance! Unfortunately, juries will come into play and I suspect they'll cane Blanche for not hitting notes well or really doing anything other than standing there looking very scared and occasionally remembering the instructions to wave her arms.

Romania's great fun yodelling thing dangles around in 7th, way distant from UK and Sweden above them and also from Croatia and France below them. In fact, I expect they'll make Top 4 as people will vote for them for the sheer fun of it.

If Russia has its way they'll get Bulgaria's Kristian, who was born in Moscow and won various Russian competitions, into the top slot on the night with major disappointment for fans of Italy's Francesco and his gorilla. That'll be their quite effective and smart revenge for being banned. Francesco's marvellous track, though, will be what we all remember and hum to ourselves for days afterwards.

Looking at the competitors in a different light, though, we have to remember that countries vote for whom they like. This is not solely political but quite reasonably understandable as people in one country will often tend to prefer the rhythm, style and language of a neighbour or act from a similar background. So Armenia and Azerbaijan are the only two likely to get that sort of support from the Eastern bloc. Bulgaria might get some benefit too. The point is that there will be many votes to be shared between just a few entries in the final. All countries get to vote, remember.

Italy, Portugal, Belgium and UK, in contrast have rather fewer 'friends', and will have to share their 12s and 10s rather more widely with, overall, a possibly significant lower total.

Sweden and Croatia will benefit from this, like Poland did remarkably last year with an extremely average entry making 3rd place amongst the public votes but starting with almost last with a mere 7 jury votes.

I think it will be a tight race this year. Don't rule out Armenia or Russian revenge!

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