Friday, March 16, 2018

Eurovision 2018: the Top 10

So now that everyone has released their entries it is time to make a start at figuring out which ones we need to pay attention to and which can simply be ignored.

The bookies favourite, and by a big margin, is Israel. I really don't like it. The video is just horrible. It is quite different to anything else, though, and has certainly got people's attention and I can see it holding their attention for some time. We kinda got tired of Italy's entry too early last year and that, together with a poor performance and a correspondingly brilliant performance by the Portugal winner, sealed its fate. I am really hoping the same thing happens this year. There will be a definite limit to the number of times I can watch this woman without feeling ill and it is not a song I will be humming along to. I am hoping so much that a few others perform so ruddy marvellously and she simply puts off enough voters to allow some others to compete for the prize.

Let's look at the others.

The classic pop song this year comes from Australia. The girl Jessica is excellent, confident and this is another great entry from Down Under. Usually I have been a little biased against Australia as it just doesn't seem right somehow having Australia in Eurovision but I am getting used to the idea and, quite frankly, someone needs to beat the annoying woman from Israel on the night. Jessica could do that. My personal second favourite.

My own favourite is Lithuania's entry. Ieva really does seem to care about her song and I like the slight Dolores O'Riordan tone that appears sometimes. Unfortunately, this is way out at over 300-1 at the moment and, with a lot of competition in Group 1, there is a distinct possibility that Ieva won't make it to the final. That will be a pity so I am hoping she captures some other hearts in the Semi Final. To do so she'll need to out perform and out vote Armenia, Azerbaijan and Cyprus and maybe even Finland's Saara Alto. I can't see anyone kicking Azerbaijan out and Saara Alto is doing a great publicity job for Finland so Lithuania have a tough task.

Next we have a remarkable group of very different contenders. First, and most likely to do well, is Estonia's Elina who sings La Forza, a wonderful operatic number but one that keeps your attention and sounds sort of modern still. The notes she reaches are simply phenomenal and I like the straightforward style of presentation, although I suspect there's be a big dress and lights on the night. It is a stunning song and Elina must be the best singer by far. It would be a very worthy winner and set the standards for future years on a more serious level, reflecting Portugal's move last year and building upon it.

The Czech Republic have only recently joined the Eurovision club but this year they should reap some of the benefits with their jazzy number from Mikolas and friends. I swear the sax riff is the same as did so well for Moldova last year! That is probably its best bit and why it is looking quite popular. I don't see it winning, though.

The Netherlands have had some consistently good entries for some time now and this year they have a chap called Waylon who doesn't wail on at all but gives us real guitar strumming Country Rock or Rock Country. It's a driving number that is different and I am sure it will get plenty of support. again, not a winner but a contender for the Top 5.

Spain have two young lovers staring into each others' eyes as they croon and sway. It's very sweet and not a bad song at all. They will certainly get a huge number of televotes as there is something in the chemistry that just makes people go 'aah' and that will often turn into a vote or two. A complete and utter contrast to the Israeli woman. In fact I hope this comes just after the Israeli entry and makes voters forget what they saw. It is one of those entries that may surprise us and win. There are not very many this year.

Another is France with Madame Monsieur and the very simple Mercy. It reminds me of some of the simple Belgian and Dutch entries of the past. Those did well and I feel this will too.

Greece are often popular just for being Greek and reminding people of sunshine and lovely shades of blue. They have also had some great entries in the past but also a few rather dodgy ones. This year it is a goodie. Yianna is a big pop star there and familiar with the big stage. She sings very well and this has a nice traditional feel which we haven't got a great deal of this year amongst the top entries. She is out at 40-1 at the moment but I think those odds will fall considerably once a few more people hear the track.

Denmark always make a good impression on the competition in my view and I have really liked several of their past entries. This year it is a heavy number with what look like five Norse Gods looming in the mist. They sing well, very strongly and it will definitely have some appeal. Not enough to make much difference, though, but you'll probably remember them afterwards.

Norway have brought back Alexander Rybak. And he's singing a song that tells us how to write a song which kinda implies that he knows how to win.Well, he does insofar as he won a few years ago with a splendid track and lots of violin playing. All that gets referenced in the clever show but I don't see it being good enough to beat a few others and voters will think, 'Yes that was nice' but not do a great deal more. He'll get lots of 4s and 5s.

Azerbaijan have the only other commercial pop song. It's quite a good one but no-one wants to go to Baku in 2019. They will get the usual compulsory votes from several neighbours and others who feel obliged for various business reasons so could be up there with the Top 10 team.

Bulgaria, after two excellent years when they were close to winning at times, are well fancied by the bookies at the moment, with a fourth or fifth place envisaged. I don't get it. The song, the singing, the lyrics, none of it works for me at all. I may be missing some magic that will be woven in a live performance but so far it leaves me cold and slightly annoyed at the odd English. It isn't going to win, or, at least I hope not as I haven't got that one covered.

So, assuming Lithuania don't make it, here is my very early prediction for the Top 10 (ignoring Israel):

Australia | Estonia

Spain | France | Greece

Azerbaijan | The Netherlands

Denmark | Czech Republic | Norway

Unless someone puts in the most amazingly better live performance at a Semi Final or re-issues another version of their track, that is it this year. Saara Alto may squeeze in for Finland and someone somewhere will give Israel and Bulgaria bucket loads of votes. Russia too will get close but I don't think even the frail Yulia will be enough to pull in the numbers they usually expect to get. Hers is a decent song but not great. Politics may not help Russia this year either. Nothing wil, i am sory to say, help the United Kingdom's chances either. SuRie may be a nice young lady and was able to influence the crowd well at the show where she was selected. I just can't see he doing the same sufficiently well to get very far at all at the main event. the song simply isn't good enough and just doesn't stand any comparison with the others I've mentioned above. United Kingdom are currently over 400-1 and I fear that's generous. They'll be higher yet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Hello to Goodbye from Romania. A class performance.

A splendid song from Romania again this year. Excellent singing from the attractive girl lead and if the band can replicate the full sound on the night then this may well get a good number of votes. Here they are doing a live performance so it is clear they'll be capable - something one can never be sure of with autotune and so many tricks in the recorded videos we see for others.

In some ways this may be a bit dated now and it does lack any catchy line you'll remember but for sheer presence and class I'd like to see them make the Top 10.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Netherlands keep up the good standards, going for country rock this time.

Netherlands seldom disappoint with their entries and here's something else that is good. A rock - country song that is a great relief from everything else we'll be listening to. It is a bit repetitive but I guess that's no problem in Euroland. This chap Waylon looks good and seems pretty competent. On his own on stage he should get a decent number of votes. I can't see this winning but worth watching out for.

Top Ten I say.

Elina sings opera for Estonia. Marvellous entry in an interesting year.

If points were awarded purely for notes and purity of voice then Elina would win hands down in 2018. This may be the first real operatic performance in the competition for some years. a marvellous song, brilliantly sung and this will certainly get many points along the way. I suspect they may be mostly middle numbers, though, and may no add up to enough to win.

Look out for this one, though. I would love to see Elina steal the show from the Israeli woman.

Definitely a year of extremes.

Israel go bonkers. Unfortunately this could win. Bulgaria won't.

Oh dear. This is the wild entry for 2018. I hate to say this but it could be the winner. We can only hope that, like Italy last year, it gets overtaken by some other entry that we'll be happier listening to over and over again afterwards. This is weird but I can see it will have appeal.

I understand that it struggled to get through various stages of the Israeli shows but it did make it. So it will divide jurors and voters alike and that may just allow Lithuania or someone like that through. I do hope so.

Currently the bookies' favourite. they haven't been great at getting the No.1, however. It will make the Top few, however. get your money on now while you can get vaguely reasonable odds.

Another entry rcently released is from last year's Runner-up, Bulgaria. This year they won't do so well at all. It is an over-produced number and sounds like a lot more than six people in the group so may suffer in a live show unless they use a backing track for more depth. It's dark grey and a bit tedious. Not a disaster and may well keep Bulgaria in the respectable left hand side of the board but only just. I do wonder how whoever writes these things comes up with such weird translations. So I love beyond the bones. Hmm.

The usual contenders for the top spot: Russia return with a classy song; Sweden just fail miserably.

A nice track from Yulia but not one that will win her the competition. as ever, though, expect Russia to score well and she deserves a Top Ten position based on current released entries.

Sweden's entry this year is completely useless and of very little appeal. Indeed, I cannot now recall much of it at all. They spend almost all year at some huge Melodiefest and thousands of votes get cast but at the end it is like a committee has chosen the entry and allowed more interesting tracks and artists to fall by. So no more worries about Sweden stealing the show as we have had to contend with in previous years for some time now.

As in The UK, something has to change there. So much talent but when it comes to Eurovision they overthink the whole thing. Here we toss the enry card to a few new people we've never heard of and hope one might work.

Greece should shine well in May

Greece have re-established their Top Ten Euro mojo with this. An atmospheric number, well-sung by someone who is at the top of most of their charts these days and so accomplished and likely to be confident on stage.

I guess it may be a little dated in places but it will certainly get plenty of votes from the Baltic regions and more. They may not make the No. 1 spot but they'll be in the running. Just a dead stop ending lets the song down a bit and there's isn't really much chance for the crowd to sing along.

Norway bring Ryback back. Initially seems a smart move but he doesn't improve with keeping.

An initially quite brilliant-looking move by Norway! Bring back the very talented and screen-friendly Alexander Rybak, a virtual violin and then a real one and a catchy number about how to write a song.

This is another winner except for one thing - it does not improve with listening. So if you have heard it once or twice already the novelty and interest will fade rapidly and I wonder whether the televoters and jurors will react, some of whom will have heard it a hundred times. Top Ten chance, for sure, but it also reminds me of the UK entry a few years back which had a similar vibe and that didn't go down so well. I don't think Euro does jazz unless it's way out..

Lithuania have a great chance this year. With no special effects at all. Not even shoes.

Another country that has a poor record so far in Eurovision is Lithuania but this year they have a definite star in Ieva Zasimauskaite. This is another potential winner or, now that Norway have finally decided on their entry, a runner-up, I suppose.

The crowd will appreciate the simplicity and emotion I am sure. It will be interesting to see how this does in comparison to the all singing and all dancing entries with goodness knows how many special effects when this girl has none at all. Not even shoes.

The video is very long - for the song watch from 3:28 to 7:19. I guess there will be an official song video soon.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Australia have a strong entry for Eurovision 2018

After coming close in each previous attempts to join the Eurovision crowd, Australia really does have a chance to take the prize this year. Confident and appealing singer will please the voters and the words are all jolly positive and good Euro stuff.

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