Eurovision 2012 – Baku

ESC2012: Predictions for the Winner

Predictions for the Winner:

I know what I said before, that this is the year for a fast song to win, but as I do more listening and more reading, I am having less faith in that notion.  With that said, I will first say why I think three popular entries will not win, then provide my thoughts on who the top candidates actually are.

Why won’t Greece win?

I think people are growing weary of the Greeks and tired that they continually submit the same song.  Aside from this fact, there are better fast entries this year, particularly from Norway and Cyprus, the latter of which will syphon votes away from the Hellenic Republic.

Why won’t Serbia win?

Despite the fact that it is essentially guaranteed 12 pointers from the other five former-Yugoslav countries competing this year, this song does not seem to be gaining a lot of traction around the Internet.  There aren’t any “OMG it’s Željko!” or “Joksimović does it again!” at least, not as many as one would think there would be.  Not to mention that it just seems a little short of his usual genius.  Not to mention that he looks different, I don’t know if he lost weight or did something to minimize his wrinkles or what, but he lost some of the stage presence that he had in 2004.

Why won’t Russia win?

I can’t believe this is a question that must be asked.  It’s six old ladies that sing like old ladies singing a song with simplistic lyrics, a simplistic beat, and very little choreography (despite its lyrics imploring you to dance).  I cannot not see this song winning, not in the least.

Why Cyprus will win:

It’s an unusually strong song from a country that is more known for its voting patterns than for its entries.  I think this song is lyrically and musically stronger than it’s next closest competitor, Greece, and has a greater potential for an exciting performance.  Since Greece sends the same thing every year, there’s little it can do to surprise fans.  Cyprus on the other hand, which does not have the same history of sending club tracks, has wide-open possibilities.  Additionally, Ivi Adamou is young and pretty, which is a good combination for winning.  Its biggest obstacle will be overcoming Greece’s shadow and standing on its own.

Why Iceland will win:

This is the strongest ballad in the field of entries this year, in my opinion.  You have two singers, one who is probably still burning with anger from his last attempt in the ESC and one who plays a mean violin, both of which will provide fiery inspiration for the performance.  The song, itself, is well composed with just enough repetition to keep the song memorable but not enough to bore the listener.  The lyrics and music also lend themselves to an astounding performance if done right.  I am curious to see what the Icelandic delegation have planned for the staging of Never Forget.  It has the added benefit of being drastically different from the other for Nordic entries and will probably garner a lot of the support that is usually spread throughout the region.  Its biggest obstacle will be making a big enough mark to overcome Iceland’s status as an often forgotten about country.

Why Spain will win:

If Iceland has the best ballad, Spain has the ballad with the widest appeal.  It sounds like something out of a movie and is performed with passion!  The song is painful and heartbreaking and immediately draws in the listener.  There’s also the appeal of a simplistic performance that will probably consist of Pastora Soler with a handful of background singers (who may or may not be visible) performing on an otherwise barren stage.  Not to mention, Spain has a beautiful spot in the running order, securing the 19th slot right ahead of a much less-enthusiastic German entry.  Its biggest obstacle will be overcoming whatever might come right before it in the running order.  A strong up-tempo number might wash it out, likewise, a dull slow number might bring it down as well.

Why Sweden will win:

As I said previously, this one is the favorite amongst the bookies and many fans.  Not only that, but Loreen is probably the most dramatic performer competing this year, and over the past several years.  The simplistic performance, just her dancing on stage by herself, only further highlights the beauty of Euphoria.  The song slowly builds from beginning to end, pulling the listeners deeper and deeper into it until it just washes over them.  There’s the added bonus of it being composed by Thomas G:son, who has tried many times to win – this could finally be his year, especially since he also composed the Spanish entry.  Something that annoys me but it is what it is (I don’t think composers and lyricists should be allowed to have multiple entries, just like performers are not allowed to).  The biggest challenge will be overcoming Norway who will surely leech votes away from the Swedes.

All things considered, however, I think it comes down Iceland vs. Sweden this year.  Iceland will have to fight an uphill battle to win the popular vote against the Swedes and several others, but I think a strong performance Friday night during the second dress rehearsal will help them take the juries’ vote, which it should take easily.


ESC2012: Semi-Final Predictions

Hello Dear Readers!

We are one week from first semi-final!  Rehearsals have kicked off in Baku and things look like they’re going to be awesome!  As I said in my previous post, due to timing issues, I broke my rule of avoiding ESC songs so that I can see them fresh on the night.  Oh well, now I am doing the opposite, as they seem to be the only music that makes my ears happy as of late.

It’s time for my final, pre-Contest predictions – these are based on listening to the songs, considering history, reading internet chatter, and consulting the bookmakers (betting odds).

Predictions for Semi-Final One:

Greece – it makes sense that the Greeks will move through, they always.  They have a decent song with a hot beat.  Despite its resemblance to My Number One, I don’t see this song achieving any higher than Top Ten.

Cyprus – aside from having the second most views on the official YouTube channel (which indicates either a lot of folks are choosing to listen to it or there’s an incredibly devout few who listen to it on repeat), this song is trending well, is significantly better than its two neighbors in the running order (San Marino & Denmark) in terms of composition, lyrics, and performance.

Iceland – quite possibly the strongest ballad this year, it’s a well-done, epic composition that is performed passionately.  I think Iceland will surprise many people this year.

Romania – fun, catchy song with a pretty lady in skimpy clothing leading the way.  This has Top Ten written all over it.

Denmark – it’s a pleasant entry that will collect votes from those bored by the ballads and turned-off by the dance tunes.  It also seems to have a lot of pleasant web chatter around it.

Russia – the most watched video, by a lot.  Clearly, though, this gimmick will not win.  It’s popular because the six ladies are so adorable not because it’s contribution to the music world.

Ireland – while we’re on the topic of gimmicks, this is one that has outlived its usefulness.  Last year they had an electrifying and entertaining entry.  This year, they try to bring an entry that requires them to actually sing, I expect this one to limp into the Final and flounder.

Hungary – a pop rock song that people can easily sing along to.  I don’t expect it to make much impact in the Final, but at least it will be there.

Switzerland – see Hungary

Moldova – the last one to get in, I think, will be Moldova.  It’s just quirky enough to charm juries and fans.  It does not seem to have a lot of buzz, but I think it will be hard to ignore once it’s performed on stage.

Predictions for Semi-Final Two:

Sweden – The bookmakers’ favorite and one that often lands near the top of a lot of fans’ lists.  She passionately performs this song and gives the Swedes a strong chance of claiming victory number four.

Serbia – Joksimović is a Contest hero and will move through to the Final based on his name alone.  I do not think he will claim that much coveted winner’s trophy, but I think that he will get Serbia back to the Top Ten.

Norway – For a song that combines a hot guy with a cool choreography and a fast-paced club tune, it has very little traction across the internet.  The prevailing theories seem to think that it will serve the purpose of syphoning votes from Sweden and opening doors for another country to win.

Turkey – I said it before and I will say it again, Turks around Europe will not let this one fail like last year’s song.  This holds especially true since The Netherlands, Germany, France, and Georgia are all voting in this semi-final.

Slovenia – a bit of a sleeper, this song seems to be fairly popular across the Internet.  I expect it to qualify then flounder in the Final.

Belarus – bloggers seem to have a lot of faith in this song.  Since its primary competition is Hungary and Switzerland, it will probably win that race and finish ahead of those two.

Bosnia & Herzegovina – again, like Slovenia, this song seems to be getting a lot of love from bloggers and bookies, alike.  I just don’t see it (I like the song, though, I think it is a bit boring).

Croatia – This song, which I think is better than BiH and Slovenia, seems to have little popularity on the Internet.  I disagree and expect Croatia to sneak into the Final.

Ukraine – It’s hard to bet against Ukraine to finish outside the Top Ten, let alone not qualify for the Final.  While I think that this song will easily make the cut on Thursday night, I don’t have the same faith that it will succeed in reaching the Top Ten.

Slovakia – Like Croatia, I don’t quite understand the lack of buzz around this song.  Surely it is the strongest Slovakian entry to date and stands alone in its style.  I couldn’t imagine it not qualifying for the Final.

Predictions for the Automatic Qualifiers:

All six songs seem to have a lot of support, particularly from the bookies.  Interestingly enough, the UK seems to have the most fan support while Spain and Italy both are receiving a lot of attention from the bookies.  I think Spain has a real chance to win, but the other are just not quite the right style for this year.  France was a popular choice when the entry was first released.  While I love the song, and think that Anggun will be amazing, I don’t think it has enough to win this year.  Same goes with the Azerbaijani song.


Because it’s getting close…

Hello lovely readers!  I know that I have been absent for a while – and for that I apologize.  School life is rather demanding!  So, this year I’ve decided to do things differently.  I will be using recap clips of the semis and final in order to make my first round of predictions.  This is rather different from my normal rout of abstaining to listening to the songs, but I really think it is my only option left given the circumstances.  So, let’s begin, shall we!

General Notes: What a year full of awesome songs.  There appears to be some true gems in the field, as well as a handful of “better luck next year” entries.  There’s a few I am undecided on from just the clips alone.  Breaking it down by semi-final will make things a little easier.  More than any other year, there’s seems to be a staunch dichotomy between ballads and up-tempo songs; there are hardly any mid-tempo pieces this year.  Interestingly enough, I think that will only help the mid-tempos all that much more.

 

Semi-Final One:

Montenegro: Really Crna Gora?  This is not the way to make a come back.  At least you’re back in the Contest.

Iceland: Lovely, lovely!  This seems rather strong

Greece: Yet another foot-stomper.  I expect big things.

Latvia: I’ve already forgotten this song, and it’s still playing

Albania: Yay, glad they’re sticking with they’re own language this year.

Romania: Forgettable, but will be successful due to its place in the running order

Switzerland: half-hearted rock tune, back to the semi-finals with you!

Belgium: This is okay, but falls a little flat for me

Finland: Swedish for the Finns! Not a strong ballad in a field of good slow songs

Israel: blast from the past!  I like it, but I don’t think Europe will

San Marino: I love this country, but feel bad about this song.  It’s definitely better than I thought it was going to be, though.

Cyprus: going to its Greek roots, surely will get through with help from up north

Denmark: y’all know what I think of this song already (DMGP2012).  Decent chance of moving through

Russia: Grandmas make good gimmicks.  This song is not as good as their one from 2010, however

Hungary: More half-hearted rock

Austria: positive – it’s in German, negative – everything else about this entry

Moldova: not as strong as his entry from last year, but it’s still rather fun.

Ireland: they should have stuck with fun and high energy, they’re voices are not strong enough to pull off this song, even in the last spot in the running order

 

Who’s Gonna Make it Through:

Iceland – strong song and is sure to get the juries’ votes – takes ballad advantage

Greece – essentially the same exact song that Greece sends every year

Romania – between two weaker entries

Cyprus – strong song that is bound to have a lovely performance

Denmark – catchy and quirky – takes mid-tempo advantage

Russia – gimmick from a popular country, who doesn’t like partying old people

Moldova – fun song that’s bound to have a high-energy performance

Ireland – gimmick that people still remember, don’t expect another top ten finish, though.

Hungary– risky choice, but may be able to woo enough people over

Switzerland – I couldn’t imagine this entry making it, but they seem to have a better chance than anyone else that’s left.

 

Semi-Final Two:

Serbia: By now, I think the whole Internet knows my fondness for Gospodin Joksimović

Macedonia: Not bad, not as good as Samo Ti, but not bad.

The Netherlands: She’s channeling her inner Lenny Kuhr.  Unfortunately, Lenny Kuhr had no business winning in 1969.

Malta: This is alright, but will need a good performance

Belarus: This is okay, a little meh, though

Portugal: Oh, André Babic, you predictable genius.  The composition is typical, but it’s still so good!

Ukraine: The Ukrainians were pissy about their entry again this year.  It’s definitely not a winner, but will probably be top ten

Bulgaria: back to their wheelhouse, techno-pop.  But will most likely be overshadowed by the Ukrainian entry

Slovenia: lucky to have fallen after two dance numbers, hopefully it will take advantage of its spot and not be swallowed up by it.

Croatia: another good Croatian entry

Sweden: Great song! I like it a lot

Georgia: I smell another entry pushing its strong base to the limit.  This may make it through, but it will be a close one.  Poor choice in my opinion

Turkey: Turkish people across Europe will vote two-fold after last year’s debacle

Estonia: Another ballad lucky enough to come after a slew of fast songs, take advantage of this Estonia!

Slovakia: Most definitely the strongest Slovakian entry to date

Norway: they say this is Eric Saade from Norway, and they’re right!

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Nice song, I think she needs a strong performance though, because it borders on forgettable

Lithuania: This is probably the weakest Donny Montell song I’ve heard (except for maybe Best Friends).  This would be lucky to get into the Final.

 

Who’s Gonna Make it Through:

Serbia – duh!

Belarus – I think it will be strong enough to make it through

Portugal – strong song from an amazing composer, it should be interesting seeing Babić go up against Joksimović’s composition

Slovenia – It follows two high-energy dance numbers, I imagine that will help it go from average to astounding

Croatia – I think this is the year Yugoslavia rises again in the Contest, so Croatia goes through

Sweden – of course, it’s Sweden!

Turkey – As I said, Turks around Europe would never let Turkey suffer the embarrassment of two straight years of being left behind in the semis

Estonia – one of the better ballads in this year’s Contest

Slovakia – this is the year, I can feel it.

Norway – cute boy with an average voice and strong a dance routine, methinks this will succeed

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Because I see no one else who could take the last spot (maybe Bulgaria)

 

Automatic Qualifiers:

United Kingdom: The weakest of the six, and it doesn’t help that it’s going first.  Sorry Mr. Humperdinck, nice try, though

France: French and English – I have high hopes for France, don’t let me down this time, again.  It has the added benefit of being one of the few mid-tempo songs

Italy: This is lovely and slightly addicting, a good combination in an ESC entry

Azerbaijan: AMAZING – definitely the best Azerbaijani entry to date

Spain: Strong singer with a strong performance.  Well done Spain!

Germany: Probably the second weakest of the bunch, but will do well because of its position and styling.

 

If my predictions hold true, then there will be ~12 up-tempos v. ~10 ballads, in which case the advantage would go to the two mid-tempos, France, Denmark, and Hungary.  I would put money on France’s chances of winning as it’s more mainstream than Denmark’s song and a better performer than Hungary.

 

Something I did not mention earlier, there’s a lot of darker and off-centre entries this year.  So, some the happier tunes have an advantage, I think.  Romania, Moldova, Greece, Belarus, and Russia fall into this category.  Even some of the weaker entries, like Latvia, The Netherlands, and Israel might over perform their anticipated positions due to their up-beatness.

 

Who will be the Winner:  As of right now, the smart money is on Azerbaijan to be the first to successfully defend the title in 33 years.  It’s a strong song, a country that has a very strong diaspora, and it will have the home field advantage.

 

The rest of the Top Ten:

France – catchy song with a hot performer who has a great voice

Denmark – catchy and kitschy

Germany – The Germans have found the key to success, at least for now

Italy – I think this will empower all the girls watching, particularly if she gives a strong performance

Iceland – Probably one of the strongest ballads competing this year, it will most likely split the jury vote with Estonia, but this seems like it will have more fan support.

Romania – fun song and a rather different ethnic flair for Eastern Europe, it’s bound to pull in the likes of Spain, Portugal, and France with its sound

Serbia – it Željko Joksimović, enough said, though, this is probably his weakest composition

Norway – because cute dancing boys will never get old

Cyprus – because cute energetic girls will never get old

Greece – it’s the same song Greece submits very year, so of course it will do well


The Early Selectors: Entries Chosen in December & January

So, many countries chose their entry rather early this year, from perennial early choosers like Albania and Cyprus to rather unexpected ones, like France and Macedonia.  Here is my breakdown of these early choosers.  This is a good time to remind everyone that I do not listen to any entry (except Denmark’s) prior to the first time it is performed at the Contest.  I form my opinions based on the competition that failed to qualify for the Contest, the performing artist’s other work, and a country’s history within the Contest.  When I make my second round of predictions, I will incorporate web chatter, professional opinion, and semi-final placement.  Additionally, these thoughts are merely opinion and are not meant to insult, demean, or be taken as a personal attack.  I wish every country the best of luck and pray for an awesome Contest!

Albania: Rona Nishliu – Suus

Typically, Albania is fairly good about choosing the best entry among their options.  Unfortunately, the best Albanian entry tends to be a middle-of-the-pack finisher.  A placing that is typically earned by the song + performance.  This year should not be any different, especially given that the showing among Festivali i Këngës‘ losers was relatively weak compared to the past few years.  Which is a double shame since this was the 50th one.

Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus – Euro Neuro

Welcome back Montenegro!  We’ve missed you!

I always love it when countries return to the Contest after missing out, especially when they had to sit out due to financial issues.  Now that pleasantries are out the way, getting down to business, Montenegro does not stand a chance.  They’re sending an eighties-style rocker, and not a very good one at that.  Sorry Crna Gora, you will once again be relegated to a semi-final placings.  Perhaps next year!

Switzerland: Sinplus – Unbreakable

Switzerland has once again united its four broadcasters in a royale of musical dominance.  Despite unexpectedly strong competition, not the least of which included hero of the Contest and first-ever ESC winning artist Lys Assia, the group Sinplus emerged victorious.  The Swiss are still celebrating their first Final qualification in six years, even if that qualification did result in a last place.  I think the Swiss Confederation is getting to the place where Iceland and Portugal were in 2008.  After many tries, it has finally reached the Final, now, the new goal is to get beyond the bottom ten.  I am unsure of whether the Swiss have it in them to accomplish this goal.  So, no prediction just yet.

Cyprus: Ivi Amadou – La La Love

So, Cyprus, a country who’s lack of a national identity has led to political distress so severe that a part of it wants to break free, continues to let this identity crisis express itself as, once again, its entry takes a complete 180 from the previous years’ songs.  They’re sending a beautiful young pop singer to do what experience (’07), ethnic music (’08), innocence (’09), indie (’10), and dramatic-rock (’11) could not do: give the island nation some success once more in the Contest.  Ivi Adamou actually has a decent chance of doing this.  She has a good voice, she’s pretty, and is nimble enough to pull off one of a variety of personae on stage.  The key would be a strong performance, not just her singing, but also in the staging of the entry.

Macedonia: Kaliopi – Crno i Belo

Tired of being the one of the worst performing countries on the Balkan Peninsula, Macedonia went for an internal selection this year, bringing Kaliopi back to the Contest that snubbed her in the pre-selection round sixteen years ago (despite the fact that she had an amazing song).  She has been busy making albums and building quite the career over the time between her ESC entries.  I foresee a strong performance with a placing dependent more on the weakness of others than on its own strength.  Unfortunately, Macedonia is almost always in this spot, and constantly falls just short of qualifying (in both years of the former dual semi-final system, Macedonia finished tenth in their semi-final only to be leaped frogged by a jury selected wild card – ’08 & ’09).  Anticipate another hairline qualification/elimination for the former Yugoslav republic.

France: Anggun – Echo (You and I)

France, which has really re-invested itself over the past few years into the Contest, has continued it’s recent tradition of internal selections.  This year, they have chosen the beautiful, Indonesian-French artist Anggun.  Choosing so early this year allows France to do something that it rarely does, engage in the pre-Contest touring that so many other countries do.  Anggun is a veteran and will likely draw the admiration of many of the south-east Asians (particularly her fellow Indonesians) throughout Europe.  She is a seasoned professional with great abilities.  If Amaury Vassili got France back on the bookie’s radar last year, then Anggun must be setting them on fire.  I anticipate this song doing very well.