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.

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