Saturday, May 13, 2023

Eurovision 2023 Update

Here are my last few thoughts about each of the Final competitors - in the order they will appear tonight.

Austria

Austria have possibly one of the most odd song themes of the night. Not as odd as Serbia's insistence on hygiene last year but to have Edgar Allen Poe as a ghost influencing what you write is weird enough for me. Having said that Serbia did very well last year and Austria's two women can sing well and the whole thing is well-constructed. Not enough to win, though, despite the attempt at a catchy Poe Poe Poe which just sounds wrong to me in English!

Portugal

One of those songs that grow on you. This started off at 1000-1 and no-one expected it to qualify but the singer keeps putting on good performances and it could be quite classy if she gets it all right on the night. She is known to miss notes and it can get messy in the middle so who knows what will happen? Not a lot, I suspect.

Switzerland

Another that was not expected to make the final. The song builds up but the singer hasn't much personality and I'm not so sure that its pacifist text will suit the mood at the moment. Forgettable and, whilst it may appear quite high in Jury votes at the start, don't expect a huge number of extra votes later from the public.

Poland

Now here's a good pop song - first of the night that you could imagine hearing on your radio, if anyone has a radio these days. A commercial number that is going to get plenty of public votes but probably very few from the national juries. So expect to see this leap up from the right side of the board to a fairly high finish position.

A bit of a poor copy of Cyprus from a couple of years ago and the girl is inclined to make mistakes too which may reduce her chances but I am expecting a Top 10 for her.

Serbia

This is pretty awful and I never expect much from a bloke lying on his back either. It's another track that had no right to get past the Semi Final stage but, as part of a group of totally useless entries, it somehow was less bad than enough of the others to get through. Forget this one and go make some tea or something until it's finished.

France

A class act from France. If the girl gets all the notes right and puts on one of her better performances then this should go down well. Expect to see her right up there with the leaders on the left hand side of the board at the start, with good national jury votes. Everything depends on how much support she then gets from the public at large. I don't think she'll get enough but should make Top 5.

Cyprus

Big ballad and this is a difficult song to sing so the bloke will get some decent votes from juries but I suspect very little more after that. One to forget.

Spain

Spain try a bit of ethnic stuff to pull in a few more votes and this should get plenty of support from the East and some Balkan places. It is quite a complex construction, certainly not very sing-a-long and that may damage its final result as it isn't something we'll remember when it comes to making the call. It deserves Top 10 but that's as far as it's likely to get.

Sweden

By far and away the favourite to win this year, it seems that everyone is expecting another Euphoria. It does have distinct similarities too but it remains just a shadow of that song. Despite Loreen's excellent performance and vocals - and she is head and shoulders and finger nails above almost everyone else in this competition - this is not something you'll be singing in the weeks ahead or seeing high in the charts. Having said that, a second-rate Euphoria is quite capable of winning tonight with such generally lousy competition.

Albania

This song has lurked at the bottom of all the betting lists at 1000-1 ever since betting on the track began. I don't really know why as is it not that bad and nothing like as tedious as many that you'll hear tonight. It's not something I particularly like but the family do make a decent job of hitting the notes and it is well-constructed and performed. No, it's not going to win but it won't come bottom either.

Italy

This was my original tip to win. I am still hopeful as it is an excellent, if slightly old-fashioned, ballad and the guy can sing well. Unfortunately, he doesn't always have the dramatic presence which he has had in early shows and in his YouTube version. Live on stage he often loses confidence and it hurts the song which has to be spot-on to work. If he got things right last night (when the Jury Vote took place) then I would expect to see him near the top of the table when voting starts. He is also likely to be a big hit with the public and is one of the very few rivals that Loreen has this year.


Estonia

This is quite a good performance of a reasonably good song. The National Juries will like it and it should start with a position not far out of the Top 10 on the board. However, I don't see many votes coming in from the public afterwards so it will slowly drift down and land up in the rather forgettable area in the bottom half of the competition.

Finland

According to the bookies, if Sweden don't win then Finland will as they are the only act anywhere close in betting odds terms. I don't like this at all and it doesn't even strike me as good Eurotrash, as Eurotrash it certainly is with the bizarre green outfit, very ugly supporting act with what could be some of the most awful dental replacements in history. Naturally, it will get bags of votes from those who do like this sort of stuff and there can be enough of them some years to make the difference between coming 5th and 1st. This year, I feel that the public will still prefer Loreen or even Ukraine to this appalling act but I have to recognise that the bookies do do their research and have a good reason for the odds being so low.

My guess is that Finland will be way out of the running when the results are first shown but, like Moldova last year, will fly into third or fourth place, maybe even take the lead briefly when the public votes are announced.

Czechia

Here is a group singing in close harmony and that can either work very well or not at all. With some modern break-like stuff in the mix and even a bit of Netta's song from a few years ago thrown in for good measure, this track has a chance of doing well. Not that well, though. It has a great atmosphere when presented well and that may attract a good Jury vote. For the public, though, I see this as finishing just outside the Top 10.

Australia

A bunch of old blokes doing old bloke music, the heavy stuff, like old blokes do. They look pretty awful but don't sound that bad. Australia have tried every genre so far as they attempt to score in Europe but so far they seem to be going from bad to worse. Not memorable, not particularly likely to score and not something that's going to win so go make tea or something.

Belgium

For some reason this has become popular overnight. Belgium were in the 1000-1 club a few days ago and expected not to be in the Final at all. However, somehow, possibly because everyone else is so bad, this bloke gets through and starts getting a lot of support. Imagine Boy George crossed with a few other gay icons from the 80s and this is your guy tonight. Very average singing a very average song but maybe there is nothing else for the gay community to root for tonight. Eminently forgettable but expect to see him get a good public vote but very little from the juries first.

Armenia

One of the other good pop songs from an attractive and talented girl. Armenia tend to do well with this sort of track and I would expect to see them at the bottom of the Top 10 or thereabouts when all is said and done tonight.

Moldova

We rely on Moldova to give us something by way of a surprise or just good fun at Eurovision. Not so much by way of good fun as this is actually a ballad and not some people messing around as usual. It could be a good ballad too if the bloke is sober and on the ball this evening. He's done some good performances but also some pretty useless ones so who knows what he'll manage tonight. Jury-wise, I suspect that he won't have had much credit so much will depend on the public. In the past Moldova have had a massive amount of support but this year I don't see them giving enough to put Moldova higher than around 5th or 6th at best.

The bookies still have them at 1000-1,

Ukraine

Last year's winners do not have a great entry this year. It's a pity as they could have won again with something impressive. Whilst the National Jury will not reward them at all highly for the performance or vocals the public will probably give them another massive amount of support and we should see them hoisted right up in the first three. There is just a chance that this could be enough to beat Sweden and Finland. Finland, maybe, but Sweden I think unlikely. It could all come down to just how many votes separate them at the start. Whatever the case, though, Loreen has by far the better song, as do Spain, Poland, France, Italy, Israel and even UK.

Norway

This has always been high in the bookies' lists - consistently around 6th. It is a quite anthemic type of track from a quite aggressive-looking girl and has a catchy type of chorus as it goes. It just doesn't strike me as a winning song. It will get good votes from the National Juries but not a lot after that. Top 10 maybe but I feel the bookies are optimistic there.

Germany

Awful loud rubbish I don't want to watch or listen to.

Lithuania

Despite this being in the 1000-1 club, I have a feeling that Lithuania could be one of those 'dark horse' entries which surprise us by getting lot more support than we expect. I think it deserves a top 10 position. Not a winner, I guess, but there is something quite strong about this which I believe could come across on the night and have some influence on people as they decide to vote. Coming, as she does, near the end is a bonus too and likely to mean she stays in voters' minds.

Israel

The other genuine pop song tonight. And it's quite good although the lyrics are a bit weird. The girl is a talented and experienced performer and should be relied upon to put on a good show and stay pretty much in tune. She'll get good votes from the National Jury people and I expect to see Israel right up there at the start of voting. Israel may not attract that much support after that, though. so may drift down the table a bit. I would still say they ought to be Top 5 but it may be that the idiot Finland group or sympathy for Ukraine edges out Israel.

Slovenia

This is really the only 'normal' group in the competition that, coupled with their position near the end, could be helpful in getting plenty of public votes. I don't expect they'll start off with many from the National Juries and will not be able to amass enough extra from their group supporters out there to take them into the Top 10 but maybe they'll have a decent finish at around 11th.

Croatia

This is the other Eurotrash entry this year and will be well supported for its stance on weapons and all that jazz. Pretty much rubbish but it this stuff always gets votes. I suspect they have zero from the National Jury vote at the start and then we'll see a good hefty number added which might catapult them to the left hand side of the board for a while. that's about it, though.

United Kingdom

Mae Muller has a reasonable enough single which made about 27 in the charts here. If that's all it can do here, though, then don't expect it to do much more abroad. We should get some credit for the help we're giving Ukraine and also as hosts - that's just the way it goes as the public tend to think about the host country and decide to give them a few points almost regardless of the quality of their entry.

This is not great and Mae is not a great singer and lacks the sort of personality needed to attract people back to voting for us. I don't hold out much hope, I'm afraid, but we won't come last, at least.

Winner

Sweden or Ukraine

Top 5

Italy Finland Israel

Top 10

France Poland Spain Armenia Moldova

Dark horses

Lithuania Czechia

Other possible top half

Austria Norway Estonia Portugal Slovenia Albania Belgium 

No hope

UK Australia Cyprus Croatia Switzerland Serbia Germany



Thursday, March 16, 2023

Eurovision 2023

 It's Eurovision time again and, at last, we have all the entries released for the competition.

As usual there are some terrible attempts at a song and most of these have already received the dreaded 1000-1 odds and I shall not even bother to mention them. At the other end of the talent spectrum, however, there are some decent entries which deserve a few plays.

The big news, I suppose, is that Loreen, Sweden's winner in 2014 with the wonderful Euphoria, is back this year and is, by some margin, the favourite at the moment. She is a good performer and you just know that she will not miss a step or a note on stage either so I cannot imagine that she'll not be in the Top 5 at the end, scoring heavily with both judges for the performance and the public amongst which she has many fans who'll vote for anything she does. The winner? Maybe. I'd like to say definitely not but she has the whole package and all I can fault is that the song is not Euphoria. It doesn't stick in your mind like that did. It doesn't last. But that may not matter on the night.

Last year's winners, Ukraine, have a reasonable enough entry but it's no winner on its own merits. They'll do well, I think, again this year with many people just wanting to help the country after what will have been a year and a quarter of devastation and upset. With many millions now resident in countries other than their own there will be many votes being dialled in so they'll be up there - but Top 10 rather than a win.

The United Kingdom came second last year with the excellent Sam Ryder's Spaceman and we do seem to have found ourselves again after years of mediocrity. Mae Muller is another new person to us all but she is modern and has a great song that suits Eurovision. Many people expect this year to have a female winner and I'd like to say she stands a chance. The bookmakers don't, putting her a predicted 8th at 65-1, well out of the usual range for a possible winner. However, it is quite early days still and I shall not write her off on the grounds of her odds yet. If she can perform the song well live then, as predicted, she'll be Top 10 and I'm inclined to make her one of my possible winners. It's nice to say that again about a UK entry! I also believe the world takes a better view of the UK now and is more prepared to vote for us than might have been the case a few years ago.

Finland have one of the dreadful songs that isn't rated 1000-1 but, in fact, nearer 6-1 as the second favourite. It's not something that I can see a lot of people liking and it will almost certainly get forgotten afterwards but I'll accept that it has some catchy Cha Cha Cha lines which will get some votes. It's quite heavy too and a change from all the pop singer girls. Bookmakers are seldom massively wrong, though, and this is being talked about a lot so I guess it'll be another Top 10.

Norway are at 23-1 with a quite dramatic woman singing about Queen of Kings and belting it out big time. It's Eurovision and, in the absence of many other big songs it will garner votes from those who like this style. I'm not at all sure about her hitting all the right notes, though, so much will depend on the rehearsals as to whether Norway stay in the Waiting Room - what I call that area between possible winners and mere hopefuls. I don't see a win for Norway at all. Even Top 10 could be a struggle.

Spain are also dramatic with the strangely titled EAEA which is not exactly a sing-a-long number this year. It's a strong performance, though, with plenty of Balkan-sounding noises to help pull in some more votes. Spain either do very well or very badly. This year I see them doing very well but not quite winning.

Israel have a good pop song to rival Mae Mullers. It's something about a Unicorn and runs along nicely. I reckon if something like this is going to win then it'll be Mae Muller who gets the more votes of these two. But Israel deserve a Top 10 this year.

Austria have a bit of fun with Who The Hell Is Edgar? and a song all about Edgar Allan Poe which is quite extraordinary and also very catchy. Whether the world at large will get the meaning of the clever lyrics I don't know but it's a nearly-pop song with a twist that often does well at Eurovision so another Top 10 contender in my book.

Moldova always seem to have a mass of support out there in the public voting land but don't get much from the juries as a rule. this year I reckon they should do better with the juries and they do have a decent and catchy number which ought to help them maintain a good record of positions in this competition. They might even win the thing. With the bookies giving them odds of 250-1 at the moment that's quite a statement to make but there you go. If they do, remember I told you first. It's a bloke singing on his own this year and there aren't the usual sexy girls or references to excite us or offend others but it's all about some guy wanting to 'marry' some girl in the open air under the moon and stars and maybe even the sun too. All good stuff and no doubt some crazy costumes at least

Italy is one of my own favourites this year and I would give the guy a chance of winning. At nearly 200-1 as I write, having increased every day, it would seem that the bookies know something that I don't. The song and his performance are excellent and it is a powerful number, almost unique this year which has to mean it has something extra going for it. If you want a ballad, this is a good one, sung well and it is very, very Italian which I think voters like a lot. So why it is failing in the betting market I do not know. I'm going to stick with it as a possible victor.

I am not going to bother writing about any of the others as they all much of a muchness and not at all memorable or likely to win, with one exception and that is Ireland. They are verging on the 1000-1 area at 910-1 as I write and no-one has come back from those sort of odds. Why? I think people have looked at the two groups for Semi Finals 1 and 2 and concluded that, with Ireland in a tough Group headed by Sweden, there is a distinct chance that they will not actually qualify for the Final. It would be very sad if that were to be the case as the song is very much the sort of song that should be in the competition. A real pop song with lyrics which work well for Eurovision. Yes, it's commercial and I do have a problem with it reminding me very much of One Direction at times, specially the We Are Young, er, I mean One, bit!! I wonder whether Louie Walsh was involved this year? Anyway, never mind the similarity, Ireland should be in the competition Final and they should be back in the Top 5 again. No-one seems to think they stand a chance but I'm staying with them too and hoping everyone else is proved wrong.

So that's 11 tracks that compete for the Top 10. If I had to choose one that doesn't make it I'd say Spain today.




Thursday, June 16, 2022

A different world

It's becoming a very strange world and quite the opposite of what I had expected in one particular way. 

One would have thought that the internet would have provided free transmission and sharing of information and, whilst there would always be a load of rubbish on websites, it would be much more difficult for governments to succeed with propaganda and downright lies about other parts of the world.

Now we learn that students in Hong Kong will no longer be taught that the city was a British colony from 1899 to 1997. All reference to this will be deleted from textbooks and China already has in place quite impressive filters on what data can be searched and found in this respect.

We have also become familiar with what would be amusingly farcical if it were not so serious; the increasingly regular news items on Russian TV which show empty supermarket shelves across the whole of Britain, Jeremy Clarkson's comments about soon needing to consider eating children or neighbours and there being no bread anywhere here either. They, of course, also continue to accuse Ukraine of inventing stories of destruction and civilian casualties every day.

We can verify almost any news we read. Sometimes very easily, sometimes it can be a little more difficult but the conspiracy theories and most copied drama we see on Facebook or in our email inboxes seldom stand up to much investigation. It seems that people in Hong Kong, China and Russia cannot. Moreover, many prefer not to question what their governments, teachers or TV presenters tell them and the thought of making an enquiry arises less and less frequently. 

They really are now living in a different world. 

We've known North Korean people are cut off from much knowledge about what happens outside their borders but that has been the case for so long we kinda ignore it, and them, for that matter. We may eventually be able to ignore Russia but I am not at all sure about China.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Eurovision 2022. The year when Moldova came 2nd in the public vote and the UK 1st with the juries.

 A very well-run show in Turin saw Ukraine take the prize (then sell it in order to pay for some tanks!)

The overall Top 10 looked like this.

1UkraineStefania
Kalush Orchestr
a
631
2United KingdomSpace Man
Sam Ryde
r
466
3SpainSloMo
Chane
l
459
4SwedenHold Me Closer
Cornelia Jakob
s
438
5SerbiaIn Corpore Sano
Konstrakt
a
312
6ItalyBrividi
Mahmood & Blanc
o
268
7MoldovaTrenuleţul
Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brother
s
253
8GreeceDie Together
Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjor
d
215
9PortugalSaudade, saudade
Mar
o
207
10NorwayGive That Wolf a Banana
Subwoolfe
r
182

This comprised two sets of scores. The national 'professional' juries' points came first. It was great to see United Kingdom at the top. Portugal were very highly placed at 5th at this stage with the Netherlands, Australia and even Azerbaijan looking as if they might have a chance.

1United KingdomSpace Man
Sam Ryde
r
283
2SwedenHold Me Closer
Cornelia Jakob
s
258
3SpainSloMo
Chane
l
231
4UkraineStefania
Kalush Orchestr
a
192
5PortugalSaudade, saudade
Mar
o
171
6ItalyBrividi
Mahmood & Blanc
o
158
7GreeceDie Together
Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjor
d
158
8NetherlandsDe Diepte
S1
0
129
9AustraliaNot the Same
Sheldon Rile
y
123
10AzerbaijanFade To Black
Nadir Rustaml
i
103

Look at what the voting public said, though! Clearly way out in front with a massive number of votes was the Ukraine entry and it was now more a matter of who might come second. Moldova, who nearly always get precious few points from the national juries were the public's second choice! An extraordinary result for a catchy but very unlikely winning song. The other entry where the public violently disagreed with the boring old jury people was Serbia's where some woman talking about good health and appearing to wash her hands incessantly and not always in time to the music was their 4th choice. It was very catchy, though.

Spain were consistent - scoring enough to hold 3rd place in each but they were just beaten by Sam Ryder's Space Man who took 2nd place overall. I had been expecting the two ballads to do well and the public agreed with me, placing both Poland's and Estonia's entries in the top 10. They also liked the yellow and black phenomena that was Norway's crazy-looking entry, which the national juries had left lounging near the foot of the table a little earlier.


This format lends a lot of excitement and is fascinating to see the difference between what satisfies the national juries and what the public actually pay money and vote for. I do wonder now whether we should do away with the juries and just leave the public to decide. If it means Moldova come 2nd with a pretty poor number but it's one that people like then so be it. We are talking about Eurovision, not some professional concert.


Thursday, May 05, 2022

Eurovision 2022: Update

 


Here are the current rankings of entries for Eurovision 2022 from the bookies. Now we know that they never get things absolutely right but it's always an interesting guide as to how things are going for various nations.

The first thing that is so clear this year is the number of nations that have been effectively completely written off so far! There are no less than 15 now at 1000-1 (or more). They might as well not bother turning up. Remarkably this includes Ireland, Croatia and Georgia who I thought had, at least, reasonable entries.


The front runners have not changed since all the tracks were available. Ukraine well out at the front and one does have to wonder whether they will take it just through the sheer sympathy and support they'll get. Their entry isn't too bad either so they'd have always got some votes but I can see people putting them first just to make a point. The jury votes, however, will not be so generous, I suspect, and that may just offer a small opening to someone else to steal it.

The most likely candidates - indeed, the only candidates - appear to be Italy, Sweden, the UK, Spain and Greece. Each stands a good chance in my view and I would rank them pretty evenly with Sweden winning a jury vote but Italy maybe stealing the public vote. Spain is a competent entry but I just see it as a bit dated now and, attractive as the legs may be, it seems to be from another era. The Greek entry is
excellent and may be the one that combines both votes best. The UK really should finish amongst the leaders this year although it doesn't sound like a winner. It will be nice not to be near or at the foot of the table, though!

If voters are in a silly mood then we do need to watch out for Serbia and Norway, each of whom will get significant backing although surely not enough to win as that sort of vote would also enhance Ukraine's chances.

On the more serious side, I am sad to see Armenia and Estonia way down the list, albeit not totally lost causes. Poland have the big ballad top spot it seems, but have not held any decent backing so far, dropping steadily as the weeks pass.

We should be getting some feedback from rehearsals soon as well as the occasional performances live at various parties and they often show just how well someone is going to handle the big occasion. The Semis, of course, are when we really see what people think and I am expecting quite an upheaval in the odds as they progress. There seems little concern about who will make it through this year. It doesn't really matter as there is no likely winner in the danger zone for either of the Semi Finals.




Friday, April 15, 2022

Eurovision 2022: How things look with a month to go.

The bookies have already effectively written off the chances of 12 of the 40 acts with odds of 1000-1 or more being offered. 

Czech Republic
Israel
Lithuania
Iceland
North Macedonia
Latvia
Denmark
Ireland
Bulgaria
Montenegro
Romania
Slovenia

The two semi-finals this year seem a little better balanced than last year and ought to lead to entries that deserve a chance actually getting through.

Here's how the two groups appear likely to finish as things stand at the moment:

Group 1
Ukraine
Greece
Norway
Netherlands
Switzerland
Portugal
Armenia
Croatia
Moldova
Albania

Group 2
Sweden
Poland
Australia
Serbia
Finland
Cyprus
Estonia
Belgium
San Marino
Malta

You'll see that San Marino and Malta's dire entries are expected to make it to the Final in Group 2 at the expense of poor Ireland and Georgia. Ireland must be windering what on Earth they need to do in this competition. Having been one of the most successful nations in this competition it has only been ruddy Jedward who have given them any hope since. They've had good entries but no-one seems to  like them. Odd. And we got through automatically every year with stuff that stood no chance.

But getting back to the Groups I do expect Azerbaijan or Georgia or maybe the Czech Republic to get through and ease out one or more of the lower three as we begin to see and hear more the entries and, especially, when rehearsals start. Every year there is a sea change in the middle regions at rehearsal time and even potential winners find themselves descending fast in the tables after a poor live performance.

I believe that Israel are now not taking part but they were not expected to do well so that makes little difference to the predictions.

All can change completely once we hear and see the acts rather than in well-produced or rehearsed videos but this is how things look today:

Winning ballad

Poland / Estonia

Winning gentle number

Netherlands / Croatia / Armenia

Winning pop song

Sweden / Greece / Italy

Winning something typically Eurovision

Ukraine / UK / Norway / Spain / Serbia

Winning Scandinavian entry
Sweden / Estonia / Norway

Winning Western Europe entry
UK / Spain / Netherlands

Winning Balkans / South Europe entry
Croatia / Serbia / Greece / Italy

Winning East European entry
Ukraine / Poland / Armenia

So there are 13. If I had to cut out three for a Top 10 then it would be Armenia, who may have few friends to vote for them on the night, Norway as Serbia and Ukraine may get more of the wacky votes and perhaps Spain may lose out if the voters don't want a dancing girl with long legs coupled with a general lack of love for Spain's entries now over almost as long as for the UK.

So here's a Top 10:

Ukraine
UK
Sweden
Serbia
Poland
Croatia
Italy
Estonia
Greece
Netherlands

Find us on Google+