Saturday, April 13, 2019

Eurovision. How Low Can The Netherlands Go?

With just over a month to go it's a good time to see how the main contenders have been faring at the bookies.

What is evident is that The Netherlands have stayed clear favourites ever since Russia's entry was released. Whilst not bad, the second attempt by Sergei to bring Europe to Moscow has not really excited anyone much. However, as the only 'Eastern' nation that seems to stand a chance, Russia is very likely to win by default in that all their friendly neighbours and those who do not wish to offend Big Red will give them bags of votes near the top end of the scale and that may well be sufficient in  a year with no obvious stand-out so far.

The only other ex-Eastern bloc country to stand much of chance is Slovenia but their still out at about 60-1 and haven't changed over the months much at all.

As the artists start to perform at various places you get feedback from people there and it is apparent who has impressed audiences and who may have been rather disappointing.

Iceland seem to have suffered most in this respect. They have a pretty mad entry anyway which will annoy many but which is so out there on the left field that it is unique this year. That could well mean that Iceland attract all the odd votes in their entirety and score well as a result. That's presumably what the logic was when their video came out and there was an almost commercial version of a track about being non-commercial. You could almost imagine it winning. At one point they were second to Russia and stayed in the Top 5 for a long time. Now, though, I am guessing that some poor live performances or negative publicity has lost them some backing.

Greece have suffered too. Again, I am assuming that the singer just hasn't been performing well. The three girls from Greece, Cyprus and Malta have been jostling for position throughout the last few weeks. Malta and Cyprus seem to be doing the better job now.

Competing for 2nd place with Russia are Sweden, Italy and Switzerland. Sweden have something just like Russia. An OK song. A good singer and a song that sounds like it was written by a committee. So it should keep the Swedes in the Top 10 but it really isn't going to be something that we remember afterwards. In fact, they may even get a shock if other nations decide to say that they've had enough of the formula type of entry and give another Nordic entry a chance. Not Iceland, hopefully, but maybe Norway or Denmark will get a look-in.

Switzerland have a surprisingly good pop song but, as it is about some guy appealing to girls on the dance floor I suspect it may not win the PC votes. So it's good enough to win but it would be seen as a retrograde step, I suspect, and various bots would be charged up ready to ensure it just misses the Top spot on the night.

Italy have, in my view, the best chance of defeating the Ruskies and The Netherlands and winning this year. They have consistently come up with remarkably well-written songs over recent years and have been very much in with a chance each time. This may seem one of their weaker efforts at the start but it grows on you and has a suitably anti-establishment theme which will satisfy the Icelanders while not upsetting anyone else particularly.

If the Russians don't use their hacking powers to win then they may accept the Italian venue for 2020 and move swathes of votes in Italy's direction.

The Netherlands entry, just like many in the recent past, is very pleasant and warm and soft and unoffensive. I am happy to play it at home and I can see it will have plenty of appeal. Whether it will warrant lots of 12 pointers I don't know. The Netherlands is one of those nations other countries feel they can vote for and not cause problems with their governments. It's a pretty open and Eurovision-friendly nation with lost of posters about sex, sculptures of bits of one's anatomy in parks and how they're happy for people to do whatever they like wherever they like within reason. The Netherlands is a natural 8 point vote for almost anyone and they'll do well. Win? I still don't think so.

At the moment I favour Big Red and Italy but watch out for Iceland and North Macedonia if she gets past the Semis (which is touch-an-go as things stand at the moment).

For my home readers, I am afraid that our nice chap and pleasant song is going nowhere fast this year, despite there not being much by way of competition. The UK will gather a few votes along the way and maybe get several steps up from the bottom if the chap does a good job on the night. But it's another forgettable evening for the UK, I'm afraid. Over in Ireland, too, I fear there will be a lot of disappointment as their entry is not even expected to make it through the Semis. I am surprised as it seems quite a good entry but I can only imagine that the girl isn't performing well or there's something people just don't like about it. Odd, but there you go. The axis would have to stretch up to 350 for the UK odds and 700 for Ireland!

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Iceland The Terrible may hold off Russia Winning in Europe

The weeks are passing by and it seems that no-one has affected their chances one way or the other to any great degree so far. Entrants have begun circulating amongst radio and TV shows across Europe and people should now be beginning to recognise a few of the tracks hoping to pull off victory this year in Eurovision.

The Netherlands remain the bookies' favourite but I still see them coming somewhere else in the Top 10.

Switzerland have possibly the most commercial track this year and punters have been supportive, with several good reviews. They have pushed Russia into 3rd place for now.

Italy have been one of the best nations to advance in the polls at this stage, currently in the lead in what was once a three-way battle with Sweden and Iceland. Now Greece, Cyprus and Malta have joined the sub-20-1 group recently. Malta have dropped out over the last couple of days but these nations all seem very comfortably placed ahead of the candidate for 10th place, Norway.

Norway have slipped quite a lot and now rank pretty much with Portugal who have been at 11th place almost since betting opened.

Slovenia's pleasant little ditty lies in 12th place and that is really it. All the other contenders are at 100-1 or much more and are not expected to do much this year by those parting company with money at this time.

I still would not rule out North Macedonia and their current odds of 250-1 could make someone a fortune if they were to do as well as I suggested they might a while ago. That's the one long-shot I can provide. North Macedonia are in a Group which has a great many nations almost certain to qualify and it is still touch-and-go whether they'll make it to the Final because of who they're up against. Assuming both Armenia and Azerbaijan make it (and they usually do) then North Macedonia will have to beat both Albania and Ireland to get to the Final.

Austria might have had a chance with a particularly emotional number, well sung and constructed, but which also is in the same group and is really not thought to be likely to make it at all at 700-1.

There is never anything certain about Eurovision other than Greece and Cyprus voting for each other and they should both get the chance this year. Greece have a particularly experienced and good singer and she should do well. It will be an interesting competition between the two but that may actually affect each of their chances to win. I suspect that one or the other will get many non-neighbouring countries' votes whereas last year Cyprus damn nearly took the prize with Greece out of the way.

Iceland are really, in my view, the main contenders now. This is quite different to my view a few weeks ago but they are a stand-out act, very different from everyone else and will either be loved or hated by the masses. Those who love the anti-establishment, anti-Capitalist and anti-almost-everything-other-than-hate stuff will give it top marks and I have a feeling that there will be plenty of them. Every other act will get a few 12s here and a few 10s there but none, to my reckoning, in great abundance. So the winner will be whoever achieves either most 6s or 5s or Iceland.

That's all very much In Russia's favour, even more so by the paucity of any other Soviet family entry. In the Final I reckon there'll be Slovenia, Azerbaijan and maybe Armenia or a distant outsider like Belarus. That's all. So all those family nations will be giving the few that make it their best marks and that may be enough on its own to put Russia in an easy 2nd place. After that, it's any one's guess!

Much now, could depend on whether any of the acts can really impress and cause a bit of an Iceland -type stir with a star performance somewhere. So far nothing much has been heard of the UK entry which looks like finishing in the lower regions yet again.

1 Iceland
2 Russia | Italy | Switzerland
5 Greece
6 Malta | Norway

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