Posts tagged “esc predictions

So, who would have won in 2020?

Graphic for the "Totally Definitive" winner of 2020

Graphic for the "Totally Definitive" winner of 2020

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, another Eurovision season is in the books. This one was unlike any other because of the historic cancellation of the 65th Edition of ESC. There have been an array of fan media sites and organizations across the internet holding mock competitions and polls in order to decide their own winner. Here on EO, we held the inaugural Eurovision Tournament this year, which was handily won by Iceland. While the Eurofandom will be arguing until the end of time about who would have won had 2020’s Contest occurred, EO hopes to draw its conclusion through combining some of the largest fan media polls of the 2020 Season. These are Eurostream, Eurovision Online, WiwiBloggs Fan Poll, Dziennik Eurowizyjny, ESC Plus, and the INFE fan poll, and – the biggest of them all – the OGAE fan poll (which allowed non-OGAE members to vote for the first time). These were chosen because: Eurostream and Eurovision Online are new, fan-driven pseudo-Contests that deserve attention and accolades, WiwiBloggs is (currently) the largest and most popular fan media website, Dziennik Eurowizyjny created the best video Contest, ESC Plus is one of the oldest and biggest fan media sites, and INFE & OGAE are the official confederation of fan clubs approved by the EBU. Let me be clear, Eurovision Obsession is not directly in partnership with any of these organizations/media outlets. Additionally, only three of the ten national broadcasters (not counting the RTVE poll from Spain) – those from Australia, Iceland, and San Marino – released a full list of the final ranking of all 41 songs. These rankings were compiled to provide an eighth ranking for this process.

Procedure

The results of each poll will be enumerated. For those that use semi-finals, the same thing most of us do for the real Contest will be done; the results of the two semi-finals will be combined to create the 27-41 rankings based on points earned and the specific media site’s tie-break procedures. Yes, this privileges the Netherlands and the Big Five, but that is how ESC is structured.

Once all eight 1-41 rankings are crafted, a composite 1-41 ranking will be crafted using each entry’s average placing (out to two decimal points). In the event of a tie, I will use the average percentage of points received as the tie-breaking variable. If the tie persists, then the countries’ performance in the EO Eurovision Tournament will be used. If the tie persists, then the two entries will just be considered tied. So, let’s look at the detailed results of each of our eight polls (which, again, are completely unaffiliated with ESC Obsession and have not provided any endorsement to this blog).

  • EuroStream 2020 logo

    Eurostream 2020

    • Date: 9 May

    • Total number of points: 95,058

    • Voting Structure: Televote: individuals could vote in both semi-finals and the final; individuals can vote for 1-5 entries per vote. Jury: a selection of ESC stars, music professionals, and former ESC jurors from 38 of the participating countries; jury panels ranged from 1-4 members. Countries without juries Russia, Israel, and Latvia) were given a composite score from a selection of their neighbors.

    • Final Ranking: 50/50 Jury and Televote; jury points are totaled. The jury total provided the number of points available for the public. The televotes were totaled, converted to percentages, then the percentage was used to calculate points to be awarded.

      EuroStram Winner Graphic Iceland

      Copyright EuroStream 2020

  • Winner: Iceland (9.12% of vote)

    02. Lithuania (6.31%)

    22. Australia (1.70%)

    03. Russia (6.01%)

    23. Serbia (1.49%)

    04. Sweden (5.89%)

    24. Armenia (1.47%)

    05. Belgium (5.84%)

    25. Israel (1.41%)

    06. Malta (5.72%)

    26. Albania (1.32%)

    07. Switzerland (5.59%)

    27. Estonia (4.19%)

    08. Italy (5.55%)

    28. Poland (4.11%)

    09. Bulgaria (5.38%)

    29. Finland (3.82%)

    10. Georgia (4.25%)

    30. Latvia (3.69%)

    11. Azerbaijan (4.25%)

    31. Ireland (3.58%)

    12. Germany (3.89%)

    32. Ukraine (3.49%)

    13. Netherlands (3.70%)

    33. Czech Republic (3.33%)

    14. Romania (3.51%)

    34. Cyprus (3.23%)

    15. Norway (3.28%)

    35. San Marino (2.96%)

    16. France (3.07%)

    36. Moldova (1.89%)

    17. Greece (2.99%)

    37. Portugal (1.60%)

    18. Denmark (2.48%)

    38. Croatia (1.55%)

    19. Austria (2.00%)

    39. North Macedonia (1.51%)

    20. United Kingdom (1.98%)

    40. Belarus (1.25%)

    21. Spain (1.81%)

    41. Slovenia (1.21%)

  • Eurovision Online logoEurovision Online 2020

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of points: 9,512

    • Voting Structure: Jury – 41 jurors voted via traditional ESC points to name their top ten. They were separated into their respective semi-finals, and then all 41 were used for the jury votes in the Final. Televote – Collected by country. When this failed, the results from at-large voting were employed. See their explainer (linked on “Voting Structure”) for a full explanation from Eurovision Online.

    • Final Ranking: Combination of jury scores and televote scores at a 50/50 ratio.

Eurovision Online's Bulgaria graphic

Copyright Eurovision Online

  • Winner: Bulgaria (10.87%)

    2

    Iceland

    10.51%

    22

    Slovenia

    1.47%

    3

    Sweden

    9.59%

    23

    United Kingdom

    0.80%

    4

    Italy

    5.93%

    24

    France

    0.76%

    5

    Lithuania

    5.70%

    25

    Greece

    0.40%

    6

    Russia

    5.45%

    26

    Spain

    0.38%

    7

    Switzerland

    5.34%

    27

    Serbia

    4.56%

    8

    Ireland

    4.84%

    28

    Romania

    4.31%

    9

    Malta

    4.81%

    29

    Azerbaijan

    3.97%

    10

    San Marino

    3.99%

    30

    Belgium

    3.15%

    11

    Germany

    3.83%

    31

    Belarus

    2.84%

    12

    Ukraine

    3.60%

    32

    Georgia

    2.67%

    13

    Norway

    3.15%

    33

    North Macedonia

    2.72%

    14

    Armenia

    2.71%

    34

    Finland

    2.46%

    15

    Denmark

    2.69%

    35

    Portugal

    2.09%

    16

    Austria

    2.69%

    36

    Croatia

    1.94%

    17

    Israel

    2.61%

    37

    Cyprus

    1.94%

    18

    The Netherlands

    2.44%

    38

    Estonia

    1.72%

    19

    Australia

    2.14%

    39

    Poland

    1.68%

    20

    Albania

    1.77%

    40

    Czech Republic

    1.31%

    21

    Latvia

    1.53%

    41

    Moldova

    0.70%

  • Wiwibloggs LogoWiwiBloggs Fan Poll

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of votes: 35,644

    • Voting Structure: Open public vote

    • Final Ranking: Summation of votes cast

Swiss flag map

Winner: Switzerland (14.90%)

2

Italy

11.93%

22

Latvia

1.19%

3

Serbia

8.78%

23

Albania

1.14%

4

Greece

6.02%

24

Spain

1.01%

5

Lithuania

5.96%

25

United Kingdom

0.95%

6

Iceland

4.69%

26

Ireland

0.94%

7

Bulgaria

3.52%

27

Belgium

0.85%

8

Malta

3.40%

28

Poland

0.80%

9

Russia

3.26%

29

Croatia

0.75%

10

Norway

2.58%

30

Cyprus

0.75%

11

Ukraine

2.46%

31

Portugal

0.60%

12

Romania

2.36%

32

France

0.57%

13

Germany

2.31%

33

Austria

0.56%

14

Azerbaijan

2.26%

34

Czech Republic

0.54%

15

Israel

2.11%

35

North Macedonia

0.46%

16

Georgia

1.92%

36

Slovenia

0.45%

17

Armenia

1.90%

37

San Marino

0.45%

18

Sweden

1.85%

38

Belarus

0.45%

19

The Netherlands

1.62%

39

Finland

0.42%

20

Australia

1.46%

40

Estonia

0.33%

21

Denmark

1.21%

41

Moldova

0.28%

  • ESC Plus Poll logoESC Plus

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of points: 2375

    • Voting Structure: Open public vote

    • Final Ranking: The raw votes were converted using a proprietary algorithm into the “final classification.”

Screen capture of Lithuania from ESCPlus video

  • Winner: Lithuania (8.59%)

    2

    Switzerland

    6.61%

    22

    Albania

    1.77%

    3

    Iceland

    5.60%

    23

    Armenia

    1.68%

    4

    Bulgaria

    5.56%

    24

    France

    1.52%

    5

    Malta

    4.51%

    25

    Ireland

    1.52%

    6

    Norway

    4.51%

    26

    Latvia

    1.43%

    7

    Italy

    4.25%

    27

    The Netherlands

    1.26%

    8

    Azerbaijan

    4.25%

    28

    Poland

    1.14%

    9

    Russia

    3.92%

    29

    Georgia

    0.97%

    10

    Germany

    3.83%

    30

    Portugal

    0.97%

    11

    Sweden

    3.45%

    31

    North Macedonia

    0.97%

    12

    Romania

    2.99%

    32

    Cyprus

    0.93%

    13

    Australia

    2.82%

    33

    Croatia

    0.93%

    14

    Greece

    2.78%

    34

    San Marino

    0.88%

    15

    Israel

    2.69%

    35

    Austria

    0.88%

    16

    Ukraine

    2.61%

    36

    Moldova

    0.84%

    17

    United Kingdom

    2.15%

    37

    Estonia

    0.80%

    18

    Serbia

    2.11%

    38

    Belarus

    0.67%

    19

    Spain

    2.06%

    39

    Czech Republic

    0.59%

    20

    Denmark

    2.02%

    40

    Slovenia

    0.55%

    21

    Belgium

    1.94%

    41

    Finland

    0.46%

  • Logo for Dziennik EurowizyjnyDziennik Eurowizyjny

    • Date: 9 May

    • Total number of points: 9513 points across three shows

    • Voting Structure: Televote: individuals could vote in both semi-finals and the final. Jury: a selection of ESC fans and stars from the participating countries

    • Final Ranking: 50/50 Jury and Televote; jury points are totaled. The jury total provided the number of points available for the public. The televotes were totaled, converted to percentages, then the percentage was used to calculate points to be awarded.

DZ Eu Online WInner - Switzerland

Copyright Dziennik Eurowizyjny

  • Winner: Switzerland (12.09%)

    2

    Lithuania

    11.65%

    22

    United Kingdom

    0.46%

    3

    Bulgaria

    10.89%

    23

    Albania

    0.21%

    4

    Norway

    8.52%

    24

    Spain

    0.19%

    5

    Malta

    7.95%

    25

    France

    0.17%

    6

    Azerbaijan

    6.14%

    26

    The Netherlands

    0.08%

    7

    Iceland

    5.78%

    27

    Austria

    3.45%

    8

    Germany

    5.51%

    28

    Finland

    2.54%

    9

    Russia

    5.17%

    29

    Czech Republic

    2.30%

    10

    Sweden

    4.58%

    30

    Belgium

    2.28%

    11

    Ukraine

    3.93%

    31

    Portugal

    2.05%

    12

    Romania

    3.36%

    32

    Ireland

    1.94%

    13

    Israel

    2.23%

    33

    Georgia

    1.89%

    14

    Italy

    2.14%

    34

    Cyprus

    1.72%

    15

    Greece

    1.98%

    35

    Croatia

    1.03%

    16

    Serbia

    1.53%

    36

    North Macedonia

    0.99%

    17

    Denmark

    1.49%

    37

    Estonia

    0.94%

    18

    Australia

    1.39%

    38

    San Marino

    0.78%

    19

    Latvia

    0.93%

    39

    Slovenia

    0.78%

    20

    Armenia

    0.84%

    40

    Moldova

    0.74%

    21

    Poland

    0.78%

    41

    Belarus

    0.52%

  • INFE Poll 2020 logoINFE Poll 2020

    • Date: 12 May

    • Total number of points: 1262 points from 22 INFE Member Groups

    • Voting Structure: Each of the 22 INFE member groups submitted points in classic Eurovision style (points 12, 10, 8-1) to a total of ten entries.

    • Final Ranking: Simple summation of all points distributed

lithuanian flag map

  • Winner: Lithuania (14.74%)

    2.

    Switzerland

    10.54%

    22.

    Australia

    0.87%

    3.

    Italy

    7.69%

    23.

    Slovenia

    0.79%

    4.

    Iceland

    7.37%

    24.

    Greece

    0.79%

    5.

    Russia

    7.37%

    25.

    Albania

    0.79%

    6.

    Bulgaria

    6.66%

    26.

    Belgium

    0.55%

    7.

    Norway

    6.42%

    27.

    United Kingdom

    0.55%

    8.

    Malta

    4.75%

    28.

    Poland

    0.40%

    9.

    Sweden

    4.52%

    29.

    The Netherlands

    0.24%

    10.

    Azerbaijan

    4.44%

    30.

    Georgia

    0.24%

    11.

    Ukraine

    3.80%

    31.

    Czech Republic

    0.24%

    12.

    Germany

    3.17%

    32.

    N. Macedonia

    0.16%

    13.

    Romania

    2.06%

    33.

    Croatia

    0.16%

    14.

    Armenia

    1.98%

    34.

    Austria

    0.08%

    15.

    Serbia

    1.74%

    35.

    Portugal

    0.00%

    16.

    Cyprus

    1.35%

    35.

    Belarus

    0.00%

    17.

    Latvia

    1.58%

    35.

    Estonia

    0.00%

    18.

    Israel

    1.03%

    35.

    San Marino

    0.00%

    19.

    Ireland

    1.03%

    35.

    Finland

    0.00%

    20.

    Spain

    0.95%

    35.

    Moldova

    0.00%

    21.

    France

    0.95%

    35.

    Denmark

    0.00%

  • OGAE Fan Poll 2020 logoOGAE 2020 Fan Contest

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of points: 4989

    • Voting Structure: Each of the 45 member clubs submitted points in classic Eurovision style (points 12, 10, 8-1) to a total of ten entries. These votes constitute a pseudo-jury vote. The televote is comprised from non-OGAE members, who could vote for the first time this year. These votes were collated and countries were ranked from 1 – 41. Points were distributed via taking the same amount of points distributed by the OGAE fan clubs and divvying them up based on percentage of votes received.

    • Final Ranking: OGAE club votes combined with at-large voting at a 50/50 ratio.

lithuanian flag map

  • Winner: Lithuania (15.43%)

    2

    Iceland

    12.71%

    22

    Albania**

    0.42%

    3

    Switzerland

    12.43%

    23

    Belgium**

    0.42%

    4

    Bulgaria

    8.04%

    24

    Ireland^

    0.42%

    5

    Italy

    7.62%

    25

    The Netherlands^

    0.42%

    6

    Norway

    5.93%

    26

    Croatia

    0.40%

    7

    Germany

    5.79%

    27

    Spain

    0.38%

    8

    Russia

    5.23%

    28

    Estonia

    0.30%

    9

    Malta

    4.91%

    29

    Cyprus

    0.28%

    10

    Sweden

    3.79%

    30

    Poland

    0.22%

    11

    Azerbaijan

    3.59%

    31

    Georgia

    0.16%

    12

    Ukraine

    1.96%

    32

    Austria+

    0.14%

    13

    Serbia

    1.78%

    33

    Moldova+

    0.14%

    14

    Romania

    1.14%

    34

    San Marino+

    0.14%

    15

    Israel

    0.98%

    35

    United Kingdom

    0.10%

    16

    Latvia

    0.90%

    36

    North Macedonia#

    0.08%

    17

    Australia

    0.78%

    37

    Portugal#

    0.08%

    18

    Greece

    0.72%

    38

    Finland#

    0.08%

    19

    Denmark

    0.68%

    39

    Slovenia#

    0.08%

    20

    Armenia*

    0.64%

    40

    Belarus

    0.02%

    21

    France*

    0.64%

    41

    Czech Republic

    0.00%

    *Armenia had a higher OGAE televote than France

    **Albania had more wins in the EO Tournament

    ^Ireland had a higher OGAE televote than the Netherlands

    +San Marino had the fewest OGAE televotes, Austria had more wins than Moldova in the EO Tournament

    #First tie-break, Finland & Slovenia had fewer wins in the EO Tournament, Finland had the higher vote percentage in the EO Tournament. North Macedonia had higher vote percentage than Portugal in the EO Tournament

  • TV Broadcasters

    • Date: 17 May

    • Total number of votes: 3 broadcasters: SBS (Australia), RÚV (Iceland), SMRTV (San Marino)

    • Voting Structure: While the linked Eurovision World article uses all ten broadcasters’ top ten lists to determine who would have won, EO required a ranking of all 41 countries in order to include it in this calculation. All three rankings were averaged for each country (or two rankings for Australia, Iceland, and San Marino).

    • Final Ranking: The final averaged rankings were used to compile the songs from 1 to 41. Average ranking is given in the table below.

  • lithuanian flag map

    Winner: Lithuania (2.67)

    2

    Russia

    3.00

    22

    Serbia

    22.00

    3

    Iceland

    3.50

    23

    Belgium

    22.33

    4

    Italy

    4.00

    24

    San Marino

    22.50

    5

    Bulgaria

    5.00

    25

    France

    23.67

    6

    Switzerland

    5.33

    26

    Austria

    25.33

    7

    Norway

    9.67

    27

    Cyprus

    26.00

    8

    Sweden

    9.67

    28

    Latvia

    26.33

    9

    Malta

    10.00

    29

    Armenia

    26.67

    10

    Germany

    10.33

    29

    Ireland

    26.67

    11

    Azerbaijan

    10.67

    31

    North Macedonia

    29.00

    12

    Denmark

    13.67

    32

    Finland

    29.67

    13

    Romania

    14.00

    33

    Georgia

    30.00

    14

    The Netherlands

    15.00

    34

    Croatia

    31.67

    15

    Ukraine

    17.00

    35

    Moldova

    32.33

    16

    United Kingdom

    17.33

    36

    Australia

    33.00

    17

    Israel

    18.00

    37

    Estonia

    33.33

    18

    Greece

    18.33

    38

    Slovenia

    34.00

    19

    Spain

    19.33

    39

    Czech Republic

    34.33

    20

    Albania

    21.33

    40

    Belarus

    34.67

    21

    Poland

    21.67

    41

    Portugal

    35.00

Final Ranking

41. Belarus
40. Moldova
39. Czech Republic
38. Estonia
37. Finland
36. Slovenia
35. Portugal
34. North Macedonia
33. Croatia
32. San Marino
31. Cyprus
30. Poland
29. Austria
28. Georgia
27. Ireland
26. France
25. United Kingdom
24. Belgium
23. Albania
22. Spain
21. Latvia
20. The Netherlands
19. Australia
18. Denmark
17. Armenia
16. Serbia
15. Greece
14. Israel
13. Ukraine
12. Romania
11. Azerbaijan

And our TOP TEN is:

10. Germany
9. Sweden
8. Norway
7. Malta
6. Russia
5. Italy
4. Bulgaria
3. Switzerland
2. Iceland

And our winner is:

1. LITHUANIA

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, seven major polls plus three broadcasters reveal that it is quite likely that LITHUANIA would have won (for the first time) had Eurovision 2020 been held. This would have toppled betting odds favorite, Bulgaria and relegated Iceland to the runner-up position yet again. Do I think this is accurate? Well, I think it is the best I can do to find a legitimate prediction. Of course, the majority of voters are not the same mega-fans that would have been voting in these polls and viewing these alternative programming. The broadcasters’ ranking may be the closest we get to representing the general public’s view and there’s evidence that, had all ten been incorporated, Iceland would be the broadcast favorite. So, what do I think all this means? Lithuania and Iceland were legitimate contenders. Bulgaria and Switzerland, while strong entries, would likely needed to have relied upon world-stopping performances in order to seriously contend for victory. Additionally, fan favorites Latvia and San Marino under-performed whereas fan scourges Norway and (to an extent) France over-performed.

Meanwhile, my personal Top Ten is:

10. Israel

9. Austria

8. Latvia

7. Albania

6. Australia

5. Russia

4. Iceland

3. Poland

2. Malta

1. Switzerland

I think 2020 would not have been an earth-shattering Contest, resulting in only a few classics (Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Russia) while being considered mostly forgettable by most, much like 2006 or 2017. It breaks my heart that Bulgaria, Iceland, Lithuania, and Malta all had top ten betting odds to win – which would have been a first for each country. Throw in Switzerland which would have gotten its first back-to-back Top Ten finishes since 1981-1982. But, hopefully, this means that these (and other) countries will more seriously take into consideration the fact that they have a legitimate chance of winning against the likes of juggernauts like Russia and Sweden. I look forward to a lifetime of debate over who would have won, but hope that this article can provide guidance to folks in debate.


Eurovision 2019 – Grand Final Predictions

Hello Dear Readers!

Finally, it is here: The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv! One of the greatest days of the year. So, what are we looking at? Well, an array of uptempo crowd-stoppers, a once-in-an-era ballad that has been a runaway odds-favorite since it was selected, and a piece of crossover-operatic-musical-whimsy.

For your ESC Parties:

  • Help your uninitiated friends with my Eurovision for Beginners

  • Check-out my ESC 2019 – Write-ups that provide a brief history of ESC, explains the rules, and gives an explanation of the songs.

  • Also check-out my 2019 Country Profiles – Grand Final Only which covers the 26 entries of the Grand Final – giving a brief history of each country, details of each entry, and a brief bio for each performing artist.

 

After two semi-finals (live notes for the first and second semis) short on surprises (hmm, Portugal failing and Belarus qualifying might be the two biggest ones), We turn to a Grand Final with a running order that may turn things over completely. Let’s look at the top ten in the betting odds (post-jury final):

  1. The Netherlands (performing 12th)

  2. Australia (performing 25th)

  3. Switzerland (performing 24th)

  4. Sweden (performing 9th)

  5. Italy (performing 22nd)

  6. Iceland (performing 17th)

  7. Russia (performing 5th)

  8. Azerbaijan (performing 20th)

  9. France (performing 21st)

  10. Norway (performing 15th)

First reactions: Cyprus, Greece, and Malta are completely out of the top ten (guess they truly were pretenders). Australia and France have moved into the top ten, while France peaked around third place and started dropping again, Australia has firmly placed itself into the second position behind the Netherlands after qualifying on Tuesday night.

If the Netherlands was in the second half, I would say it was an easy win for the Dutch. While 12th is a good spot, it is surely not the sure thing that, say, 22nd is. So, now the door is open for the likes of Switzerland (which has the strongest staging and performance across the 41 entries), Italy (whose edge and novelty helps it standout), and Australia (a powerful and captivating song that has shot up the odds á la Cyprus 2018).

 

In my opinion, the winner will be one of these four

The Netherlands     Australia      Italy     Switzerland

Dutch Flag Map

 

 

The Netherlands, my personal favorite, is perhaps one of the highest quality entries to date. It is earnest, honest, and heart-breaking. It also suffers from a singer without much stage presence leading to a boring, trite staging.

 

 

Australian flag map

 

Australia is perhaps the most fun “believe in yourself” song we’ve seen since, perhaps, Austria 2014. It has the magic of a Disney song and a whimsical staging that is absolutely stunning. It also is a song from a country that historically fares quite terribly with the televoters surrounded by two equally as mesmerizing stagings and songs (Switzerland and Spain).

 

 

 

Italian flag map

Italy is a powerful, dark song that stirs deep emotions in the listener performed passionately from a country that is quite popular with juries and televoters. However, it is staged in such a way to diminish this impact – much brighter than it should be; not to mention, juxtaposed to France (which is preceding it), it may come off as over dark.

 

 

 

 

Swiss flag map

Switzerland, much forlorn and forgotten on the Eurovision stage, has come with the tightest, most interesting, most dynamic performance this year and beyond. Unfortunately, this is a rather generic song that is like so much else we hear on the radio; plus, the juries historically drag down the Swiss.

 

 

Taking all of this into consideration, right now, if I had to predict the winner (and I do, since I am a decade-long ESC blogger), I believe that The Netherlands will win!

EO logo witch Dutch flag

I have believed this from the first time I heard the song and am choosing to stick to my instincts on this. Its quality as a composition, as a lyrical work, and in Duncan Laurence’s sheer vocal talent will all shine through. I think the Netherlands will handedly win the jury vote and, furthermore, will finish top five among the televote, though, not number one, but still high enough to win the Contest.

I think the top ten will comprise of:

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Switzerland

  3. Australia

  4. Italy

    Icelandic flag map

  5. Sweden

  6. Iceland

    Maltese flag map

  7. Malta

  8. Russia

  9. Norway

  10. Serbia

And who will be in the Bottom Ten? I hate thinking of the negative, but again, I must make a prediction:

Cypriot flag map

  1. North Macedonia

  2. Cyprus

  3. Denmark

  4. Belarus

  5. Israel

  6. Albania

  7. Estonia

  8. San Marino

  9. United Kingdom

  10. Germany

As y’all know, I love North Macedonia, Albania, and Denmark – but I cannot see them succeeding (this is doubly so as Albania was put in the 2nd slot, which is generally reserved for the weakest ballad).

Quite frankly, while my prediction average needs to go back up (it’s back down below 80%, currently) as long as the Netherlands wins, I will be happy. I cannot wait to see how this turns out!

Happy Eurovision Everyone!
Be sure to come back tonight so you can follow my live notes as the Contest unfolds.


ESC 2019 – Song Reviews: Recap!

Hello Dear Readers!

I think this might be the quickest I’ve gone through the reviews, haha, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So, a quick recap of the reviews for those who want the simple TL:DR summary.

My Personal Top Ten

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Latvia

  3. North Macedonia

  4. Czech Republic

  5. Greece

  6. Azerbaijan

  7. Albania

  8. Germany

  9. Portugal

  10. Norway

Who I think will qualify:

First Semi-Final

Second Semi-Final

  • Greece

  • Portugal

  • Estonia

  • Iceland

  • Australia

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Slovenia

  • San Marino

  • Cyprus

  • The Netherlands

  • North Macedonia

  • Azerbaijan

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Albania

  • Denmark

  • Armenia

  • Switzerland

And who do I think will finish in the Top Ten?

  • The Netherlands

  • Italy

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Cyprus

  • Spain

  • Portugal

  • Greece

  • Switzerland

Who among these do I think can win? Well, you’ll have to come back for my Contender or Pretender Series!


ESC 2018: Song Reviews – Recap!

Hello Dear Readers!

Here we are, at the end of another initial reviews week. I’m sure many of you feel vindicated, many of you feel confused, and some of you may even be angry – no matter how you feel, thanks for reading 🙂

In case you missed it, here are my song reviews:
Semi-Final One
Semi-Final Two
Automatic Qualifiers

Preferences

First things first, which songs did I like the most? Check out this year’s ESC Obsession 2018 Preference Bracket to find out.

Looking for your own bracket? Here is this year’s blank bracket for you and your ESC friends to fill out! ESC Obsession 2018 Eurovision Tournament

But, which songs currently comprise my personal Top Ten heading into the Contest?

  • Armenia

  • Belarus

  • Belgium

  • Bulgaria

  • Czech Republic

  • Estonia

  • Israel

  • Greece

  • Latvia

  • Sweden

Predictions

As a quick refresher, I predicted that these songs would finish in the Top Ten: (in no particular order)

  • Israel

  • Estonia

  • Austria

  • Australia

  • Czech Republic

  • Italy

  • Germany

  • Montenegro

  • The Netherlands

  • Sweden

Of, these, I thought five had a legitimate chance at victory: (again, in no particular order)

  • Austria

  • The Netherlands

  • Czech Republic

  • Montenegro

  • Australia

Currently, Australia and Czech Republic are both in the top ten of the betting odds, meaning, that I will discuss them more in next week’s Contender or Pretender series. Let’s dive into the three other entries receiving little attention from the bookies.

Austria – From the very first time I heard this song, it sounded like a winner to me. From the composition and style to the lyrics to the how smooth César Sampson is. This song may not be on too many radars right now, but it will shoot towards the top of the scoreboard, I can feel it. Now, since I first heard this song in March, I have seen videos of him performing it live, and it does not quite translate, at least, not during the preview concerts. Ultimately, this impacts his betting odds, but it won’t affect his final position with the juries and televoters on the night. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s truly difficult for a person of color, particularly a Black person, to be particularly successful at ESC. I honestly think this can be a counterexample to that opinion.

Montenegro – This song is on no one’s radar and actually falls towards the bottom of the betting odds currently. So, why on earth do I think it can win? Several reasons: 1) it’s one of only a few true and well ballads, 2) it’s a very classic Balkan sound, 3) the other four former Yugoslav nations will struggle to reach the Final, let alone seriously compete, leaving Montenegro there to soak up all their big points as well as from other Balkan allies not voting for Bulgaria, and 4) it’s a high quality song! The composition alone is worthy of victory. The singing is right on and the lyrics are captivating. This song should narrow those odds greatly once it qualifies and then we’ll see just how big it will go. Again, without any other former-Yugoslav country (and really, any Balkan country not named Greece or Bulgaria) having a legitimate shot at even qualifying, I think Montenegro will do quite well.

The Netherlands – A song that started on everyone’s radar as it is performed by a one-half of a runner-up duo, it’s country rock – a genre not often heard (if ever) on the ESC stage, and it was one the first to be selected. Don’t underestimate the power of a well done song that is unlike any other in the competition. The real question is whether enough country and rock fans will be voting to bring the Netherlands up the scoreboard, as I think it will only finish in the high single digits/low teens among the jury. It is most definitely not a traditional Eurovision entry like Austria and Montenegro, but that just may be its saving grace.

Who do I think will actually win? Well, you need to check out my prediction bracket! ESC Obsession 2018 Prediction Bracket

The bigger story here is that, for as long as I have been keeping this blog (December 2009), no victor has come from outside the top ten folks according to the betting odds. This is going to be an interesting year – a well-deserved anomaly for Portugal, hosting for the first time ever after so many failed attempts.

Come back next week for the annual Contender or Pretender series where I break down each of the top ten songs according to the betting odds and determine which ones have a legitimate shot at victory and which are merely distractions.

Until next time, find me on Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, or YouTube, all @escobsession


ESC 2018: Song Reviews – Automatic Qualifiers

Hello Dear Readers!

So, we already know for sure six qualifiers: the Big Five (France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and Germany) and Portugal (our defending champion). But, even with a bye out of the first round, do any of these songs have a chance of winning?

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection

Portugal

Cláudia Pascoal feat. Isaura

O Jardim [Garden]

National Final

Thoughts:

A pretty song that is certainly stirring. It won a weak and dated national selection; which means that this is vulnerable to another home turf letdown. I don’t think we’ll have a disaster we saw in Austria or Norway these past ten Contests, but don’t expect it to do all that well.

 France

Madame Monsieur

Mercy

National Final

Thoughts:

I like this song, but I’m not sure how it will perform. On one hand, the French are on a role and this song is certainly contemporary. But on the otherhand, the lyrics are confusing and I think this is reflected in composition. I don’t know, I think it will depend on its final running order slot to see how it fares on the night.

 Germany

Michael Schulte

You Let Me Walk Alone

National Final

Thoughts:

Ehh, this is definitely enough to pull Germany out of its recent slump. But I, personally, do not really enjoy this song. I think it’s boring and listless. But I think a ballad devoted to a dead mother will do well.

 Italy

Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro

Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente [You’ve Done Nothing to Me]

Mixed

Thoughts:

I do not like this at all. I just don’t get it. Condescending lyrics, uninspired composition, and two singers without much chemistry. It will probably do well, because Italy generally does well, but Top Ten may be a stretch.

 Spain

Amaia & Alfred

Tu Canción [Your Song]

National Final

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since we’ve heard an old-fashioned, Eurovision ballad duet. It sounds like something from the past, but not in a bad way. It sounds like what one would compose when thinking of a “stereotypical Western ESC ballad.” Depending on its running order slot, it could do quite well for itself.

 United Kingdom

SurRie

Storm

National Final

Thoughts:

This song subtly grew on me over time. I like its message and think it goes at the standard inspiration delivery in a novel way. I worry about its immediate impact effect. It will most likely continue Britain’s current trend of not doing well, but not failing.

*Selection of the competing song can be internal (selected by producers or a secret jury), come through a national selection (singers with songs competed against each other), or mixed (either the song or the artist was picked internally and the other was picked in a national final)

So, which songs do I think have a legitimate shot at finishing in the top ten? (in no particular order)

  • Italy

  • Germany

How would I rank them for myself? (in order)

  1. Portugal

  2. United Kingdom

  3. France

  4. Spain

  5. Germany

  6. Italy

And, most importantly, do I think any of these six songs have what it takes to win?

NOPE. While Italy will most likely do well, it is not strong enough nor memorable enough to take the crown. Likewise, Germany is going to do well, but sad songs rarely have the steam needed for victory (just ask Serbia & Montenegro 2004).

Check back tomorrow for our recap, our first prediction for who will win, and the reveal of the ESC Obsession bracket!


ESC 2018: Song Reviews – Semi-Final Two

Hello Dear Readers!

Thursday brings us a weak, but still competitive semi-final. Perennial qualifiers, like Romania, Russia, and Australia, should have no trouble moving through. Sweden and Norway will be there to support one another along with Denmark.

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection

Norway

Alexander Rybak

How You Write a Song

National Final

Thoughts:

So, breaking the promise he made with Marija Šerofović a few ago, Rybak is back with his attempt to pull a “Johnny Logan” (the only performing artist to win twice). Rybak knows how to write a catchy song. This will get stuck in your head, whether you want it to or not. Clearly, this song is much weaker than Fairytale, but it should do well with a “previous winner bump.” It will most likely finish Top Ten, but it won’t get anywhere close to winning.

Romania

The Humans

Goodbye

National Final

Thoughts:

A bland, forgettable song and potentially the first Romanian entry to fall short of qualifying. I strongly doubt it, but the important thing is that it could be. It’s not a bad song and the lyrics aren’t bad, it just melts into the background, particularly this year.

Serbia

Sanja Ilić & Balkanika

Nova Deca [New Children]

National Final

Thoughts:

This song is a hot mess. Oh golly! I do not understand it. The performance is weird and off-kilter. The composition makes little sense. The lyrics are simple and lack depth. I just don’t understand how this song was made.

San Marino

Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening

Who We Are

National Final

Thoughts:

This song has such great potential. For starters, rap does quite poorly at Eurovision; Brening adds nothing to the entry with her lame verse (conversely, the songs they had her compete with in the selection were great). The lyrics for the rest of the song are not as impactful as the songwriters probably think they are. The song is well performed by Jessika, but it’s severely average. SM is at a disadvantage and must try harder if it hopes to qualify again.

Denmark

Rasmussen

Higher Ground

National Final

Thoughts:

Sigh. This is an average song and I don’t have any strong feelings about it. It also will benefit from having both Norway and Sweden in this Semi-Final. However, Sweden is an unreliable alliance member and there is a lack of other friendly nations to buoy it above its averageness.

Russia

Julia Samoylova

I Won’t Break

Internal

Thoughts:

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I liked Flame is Burning way more than this trite inspirational piece. It will qualify, of course, but I doubt it will continue Russia’s Top Ten streak.

Moldova

DoReDos

My Lucky Day

National Final

Thoughts:

I like this song so much! It has big shoes to fill after Moldova achieved a new best placing last year. In my opinion, this song has a better composition and overall sound than Hey, Mamma! and is just more enjoyable, at least to me, and that hat from the music video better make an appearance in Lisbon!

The Netherlands

Waylon

Outlaw in ‘Em

Mixed

Thoughts:

This song will do well because Waylon was one half of the Common Linnets (the performers of the runner-up entry in 2014). This also has the distinction of being the only country song this year, which also helps it. Again, I have no strong feelings about this song either way.

Australia

Jessica Mauboy

We Got Love

Internal

Thoughts:

I think this has a chance of outperforming Australia’s second place from 2016. The song is truly inspirational, has an amazing singer who knows how to perform and is not a stranger to the Eurovision stage. Plus, it’s is quite catchy! It doesn’t hurt that Mauboy is stunning, as well. I think we may be packing our bags for Germany after an Aussie win.

Georgia

Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao

For You

Internal

Thoughts:

Georgia joins Armenia for its first ever entry in its national language. Unlike Armenia, this song lacks depth, interest, or anything that makes it stand out. I cannot imagine this song qualifying, even out this weaker semi-final.

Poland

Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer

Light Me Up

National Final

Thoughts:

I like this song and think it is quite contemporary. I think it will continue Poland’s qualification streak, but finish midtable in the Grand Final. This is a beneficiary of being in the weaker semi-final and following a weak entry.

Malta

Christabelle

Taboo

National Final

Thoughts:

While this song is uptempo and intriguing, it is forgettable. It’s one of those things that, I remember when I hear it, but otherwise, cannot really recall it. This will be right on the border of qualification and will benefit from a poor performance from another midlevel entry.

Hungary

AWS

Viszlát Nyár [Summer Gone]

National Final

Thoughts:

Our requisite hard rock entry. Not quite sure how this made it through the Hungarian selection, but here we are. Not my cup of tea, at all. From my understanding of rock music, this is not even that strong of a screamo song. It likely will not qualify for the Final.

Latvia

Laura Rizzotto

Funny Girl

National Final

Thoughts:

I really like this one. It is dark and draws you into it; the composition is particularly captivating. I don’t think it’s mainstream enough to qualify, but of course, I said something similar in 2015. I think following the screaming of Hungary and coming ahead of the slick Swedish song, it will be lost.

Sweden

Benjamin Ingrosso

Dance You Off

National Final

Thoughts:

The first Swedish entry I like since Heroes. This song is just so infectious, I can’t see it NOT finishing in the Top Ten on Saturday night. Of course, the last time Sweden failed to reach the Top Ten was 2013, and this song is miles ahead of You (though, I did like that song, too).

Montenegro

Vanja Radovanović

Inje [Frost]

National Final

Thoughts:

The only true Balkan ballad this year, this strikes me as Joksimovic-lite. I think this will easily qualify. Honestly, this is my dark horse candidate for this year; I think Montenegro is going to surprise a lot of folks.

Slovenia

Lea Sirk

Hvala Ne [No Thanks]

National Final

Thoughts:

Yet another mess of a song. I don’t know what it is about the former-Yugoslav countries this year, but they are submitting some poorly composed songs. This song is at least interesting…well…not really. It’s average and will once again leave Slovenia towards the bottom of the Semi-Final scoreboard.

Ukraine

MÉLOVIN

Under the Ladder

National Final

Thoughts:

So catchy! So modern! And MÉLOVIN is quite the performer. This seems like a song designed specifically to capture the ears and hearts of the massive teenage girl fan population. Ukraine will easily finish in the Top Ten, the first time with a male singer not in drag.

*Selection of the competing song can be internal (selected by producers or a secret jury), come through a national selection (singers with songs competed against each other), or mixed (either the song or the artist was picked internally and the other was picked in a national final)

So, who do I think will qualify? (in no particular order)

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Ukraine

  • Romania

  • Australia

  • Montenegro

  • Poland

  • The Netherlands

  • Moldova

  • Norway

And which songs are my favorite? (in order)

  1. Sweden

  2. Latvia

  3. Ukraine

  4. Montenegro

  5. Norway

  6. Australia

  7. Moldova

  8. Denmark

  9. Poland

  10. Malta

And, more importantly, who do I think has a legitimate shot at winning?

More on this next week, but, right now Australia, Montenegro, and The Netherlands all have legitimate opportunities to win. I know that the Dutch entry is not towards the top of the betting odds and that Montenegro is in no one else’s conversation, but I think both are unique enough and of a high enough quality to pull off a surprise win. Fun note, if Montenegro does pull off the victory, it would be the lowest odds victor (a title currently held by Latvia 2002). I think Australia is an easy choice to pick as a winner for all the reasons I mentioned above.


2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode Two – Bulgaria and Italy

Hello Dear Readers!

Today we look at the top two songs in the betting odds, Bulgaria and Italy! One is a perennial favorite returning to form after a brief stumble last year, the other is finally coming into its own after many years of languishing in the semi-finals. But, does either have what it takes to actually win?

Bulgaria

Beautiful Mess performed by Kristian Kostov

Why it is a contender: A beautiful, haunting ballad powerfully performed well by a young, cute singer. The lyrics are intriguing and the composition is gripping. What’s more, the song generates a feeling of longing within the listener.

Why it is a pretender: It’s not the most exciting ballad this year, as the climax of the song does not particularly stand out. Not to mention that Bulgaria rarely, if ever, stages its songs properly. If the music video is any indication, we will witness a trite, uninspired stage show.

Final Verdict: Contender If you read my initial reactions to this year’s songs, you’ll know that I picked this song to win. Thus far, I have yet to see a reason strong enough to change that thought. With that said, BNT still needs to come through with an amazing staging to hold off other contenders.

Italy

Occidentali’s Karma performed by Francesco Gabbani

Why it is a contender: This is a fun, catchy song that challenges us intellectually. Italian seems to be a favorable language in garnering votes. Not to mention that Gabbani seems to be a serious contender, having won San Remo and looking to win Eurovision.

Why it is a pretender: For the average Eurovision viewer (aka, the televoting masses), this song might seem a bit odd – particularly with its dancing gorilla. Even if the staging is kept close to its original, it might be a bit too much for most casual viewers.

Final Verdict: Contender This song is catchy, interesting, and very unique. Italy is poised for victory soon and this just might be their year. It would be great for a fully non-English song to win (the last time that happened was 2007) as it would hopefully spur other countries to utilize their national languages next year.

Come back tomorrow to check out Portugal and Belgium!
Also, don’t miss our recently published news updates.
Missed yesterday’s reviews of Australia and Romania? Never fear! They’re right here!

 

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2017 Contender or Pretender: Episode One – Australia and Romania

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s rehearsals week for Eurovision! It’s so early this year but we’re happy that we have enough time for Contender or Pretender. Today, we began our journey with Australia and Romania – two very different songs that currently find themselves in the midst of popularity.

Australia

Don’t Come Easy performed by Isaiah

Why it is a contender: A powerfully-sung ballad by the young Isaiah Firebrace – whose live performances have helped push Australia into the top ten of the betting odds. He’s a proven competitor, having already won X-Factor Australia. The song also stands out as one of the few higher quality slow songs in a year dominated by uptempo entries.

Why it is a pretender: Well, the song is fairly generic and repetitive. Listen to the song, the phrase “don’t come easy” is repeatedly endlessly.

The first verse is rather boring; the song doesn’t really pick up until the end of the first refrain.

Final Verdict: Pretender Isaiah will be lucky if it keeps its Top Ten streak intact this year. While this song is pleasant, it is rather forgettable. I think it will struggle to get out of the semi-final and, despite being jury fodder, will not do too well on Saturday night.

Romania

Yodel It! performed by Ilinca ft. Alex Florea

Why it is a contender: For the non-fan, this song represents the quintessential Eurovision entry. It’s poppy, fun, and campy. It certainly stands out and is unlike any other song from this year (or any of the recent years).

Why it is a pretender: For the non-fan, this song represents the quintessential Eurovision entry. It’s obnoxious, repetitive, and vapid. Let’s not forget that, in the past twenty years, no song in which either rap or yodeling was a primary feature (except for Greece 2011) has finished in the Top Ten.

Final Verdict: Pretender This song stands out for all the wrong reasons and I have yet to hear a satisfying live version of the song. Not to mention that the juries do not tend to go for this kind of song. I would not be surprised if this song fails to qualify for the Final.

Hmm, starting off with two songs with less than favorable odds. Maybe tomorrow’s potential victors, Bulgaria and Italy, will fare better.

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) — Recap!

Eurovision Obsession logo

Hello Dear Readers!

So, there you have it, my initial thoughts on the 2017 Eurovision field of entries. It was hard this year to choose top contenders, so many songs sound similar and parceling out those that were stronger from the weak wasn’t easy. Amongst those that sound different, I’ve tried to identify which ones were memorable for the right reasons. Below is my first prediction for 2017’s Top Ten and winner!

As of right now, I predict that the following songs will be in the Top Ten (in alphabetical order):

  • Armenia – it’s dazzling and intriguing; captivating and unique.

  • Azerbaijan – a return to form and powerful pop song

  • Belgium – unique, current, and incredibly popular

  • Bulgaria – the strongest ballad this year

  • Denmark – stands out with its R&B sound

  • France –  even better than last year, very French, yet still accessible

  • Italy – certainly one of the smarter entries in ESC history, very entertaining, too

  • Macedonia – this year’s strongest entry from the former Yugoslav

  • Poland – dark and stirring, will outperform expectations for sure

  • Sweden – well-done schlager with a flashy stage routine

With that said, who do I think will contend for the title of ESC victor? Well, so far, my thoughts have not yet changed.

Denmark, Bulgaria, France

Denmark
Anja has an amazing voice and the song is well composed. However, R&B does have a dicey history at the Contest. Will the audience be able to get behind this song, even though it strays from the traditional pop style?

Bulgaria
Perfectly capturing the styling of the modern ballad, Bulgaria brings its most competitive entry to date. However, Kristian Kostov, while supremely vocally-talented, is one of the youngest performers this year, I wonder if he has the stage presence to convey this kind of song. Will Bulgaria be able to build on its success from last year by putting together a useful staging and promotional work?

France
An intriguing entry that does a strong job of displaying the French aesthetic without scaring those who are non-French. However, this song requires a well done staging, and we all know that is most definitely NOT France’s department. Can Alma guide the production process enough to ensure that the song presentation is both meaningful and enjoyable without it becoming a distraction?

Ultimately, if I had to choose one song right now as the winner. I would choose…

Bulgaria! Ultimately, I think Kostov has the look, sound, and stage presence to aptly perform this haunting – yet relatable – ballad. The music is stirring, yet not overly complex and the lyrics are captivating without being inaccessible. And, without Russia around, there will be more points up for grabs, particularly for those from Slavic backgrounds. Though, this song will definitely appeal to Westerners as well.

I definitely look forward to diving deeper into these entries, commentary, and internet buzz. Even more than that, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below or catch up with me on Twitter!

 

Once again, ESC Obsession has created a Eurovision Tournament Bracket for you! Forty-two songs enter, only one can survive. Seeded by their current betting odds, this bracket sets up a series of duels until one song comes out on top. Whether you want to think about the competition in a new way, compare your picks with friends, or simply are having trouble determining your favorite entry this year – the bracket is for you! Feel free to download it, feel it out, share it around. Post about it here and/or Reddit! I’ll post mine next week.

ESC 2017 Tournament

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Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – First Semi-Final, Second Half

Hello Dear Readers!

Ready for part two of semi-final one? Below the table are my predictions for qualifiers out of this semi-final! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Armenia

Artsvik

Fly with Me

Internal

Thoughts:

Armenia was the final one to reveal its song – and it was worth the wait! Dark, complex, and takes us on an auditory journey. Heavily influenced by Armenian folk tunes and style, the song ultimately ends on a hopeful note. Love it!

Cyprus

Hovig

Gravity

Internal

Thoughts:

In recent years past, I would have thought this was a sure candidate for victory. However, in a year that is full of this style of music, it gets lost in the shuffle. I like it a lot and think it has a great beat; not much faith it will do much, still on the fence about its chances to make the Final.

Czechia

Martina Bárta

My Turn

Internal

Thoughts:

Another example of a great song that just doesn’t stand out from the crowd of entries this year. I think Czechia’s (note, the legislature voted last year to make the official English name “Czechia”) best hope is to dominate the jury show with a large enough lead to make the Final.

Greece

Demy

This is Love

Mixed

Thoughts:

This song, to me, is quite generic! It’s fun and uplifting, however, so there’s that. Aside from the positivity, there’s not much to this song, unfortunately. Will it reverse Greece’s fortune and return it to the Final? Yes! Will it do much once it gets there? Nope.

Iceland

Svala

Paper

Televised

Thoughts:

I’m not sure what to make of this song. I like it, but it’s a bit odd. I’m not sure if it has mass appeal, especially since it’s in the same vein as Norway from last year. A song that seemed popular but fell flat. I think it depends on whether the staging is engaging without being overwhelming.

Latvia

Triana Park

Line

Televised

Thoughts:

I really like this song, but am not sure why. It’s not too different from Iceland, but there’s a bit more of an edge here that Paper lacks. Like Iceland, however, I worry that Line doesn’t have the mass appeal to attract enough votes from either the juries or the televote to progress to the Final.

Moldova

SunStroke Project

Hey, Mamma!

Televised

Thoughts:

SunStroke Project returns (this time without Olia Tira) to produce another viral Saxophone-Guy meme with this catchy, but trashy, song. Actually, the song isn’t so much trashy as the video is. Other than that, this song is so danceable!!

Poland

Kasia Moś

Flashlight

Televised

Thoughts:

This song is unassuming, mysterious, and intriguing. I think it could be a true dark horse this year; given that the vocal performance is strong, of course. I think this might be one of my favorite compositions from this year.

Slovenia

Omar Naber

On My Way

Televised

Thoughts:

I loved Naber’s 2005 song, Stop. This year’s song…not so much. I don’t dislike it as much as I think it’s a bit boring. As much as I want Slovenia to do well, it won’t be with this song. In fact, I’m afraid it might finish last in the semi-final.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The examples of that this year are Armenia, Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel and Armenia had televised shows to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

 

So, who do I think will qualify from this semi-final? What are my favorite songs?

Predicted Qualifiers
(In alphabetical order)

My Top 10
(Starting with my most favorite)

Armenia

Armenia

Australia

Albania

Azerbaijan

Latvia

Belgium

Portugal

Cyprus

Finland

Finland

Poland

Greece

Azerbaijan

Moldova

Iceland

Poland

Moldova

Sweden

Czechia

More importantly, who do I think, from the First Semi-Final, will be competing for the crown?

Well, overall, I think that this is the weaker of the two semi-finals. With that said, I think that two songs have the ability to seriously contend for the victors’ trophy.

Belgium – Probably the most popular song on Youtube rankings; it will be interesting to see how this song fares in the OGAE fan poll. This song is super-contemporary and stands out from the crowd. It has a very captivating melody and Blanche has a mesmerizing voice.

Poland – This has real potential to be a dark horse in this year’s Contest. It’s dark, mysterious, and will get a fantastic boost if staged properly. As long as the performance is competent, it will have a legitimate chance to contend for the win.

In addition to these three songs, I think that Sweden and Armenia will find themselves back in the Top Ten come Saturday night.

Check back tomorrow for Semi-Final Two
Find the other reviews from this year here!

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ESC2016 – Final Pre-Contest Thoughts and Predictions

Hello Dear Readers!

And just like that, another Eurovision week is upon us! I write this from the plane on my way to Stockholm and I can barely contain my excitement. This year, we see an increase in uptempo songs, a decrease in national languages, and ample amounts of awesome. Let’s take a dive into some of our final thoughts, opinions, and predictions heading into Contest.

New Hope for Poor Performers

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For the first time since 2011 (and I would argue since 2003), France has a legitimate shot at winning the Contest. Even you remember, I’ve previously picked France as the winner of this year’s Contest. It has been steadily rising in the betting odds since March and has been topping fan polls across the Internet, including the famed OGAE fan club poll which has historically picked the winner more often then not (though, everything after the first position tends to range wildly). France brings a song with an enthusiastic performer who respects and enjoys the Contest, lyrics that are fun and catchy, and a composition that’s highly contagious. Even if France doesn’t win, it’s bound to get its best placing since 2009 (its last time in the Top Ten) and possibly even since 1991 (its last time in the top three).

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Other countries with poor track records are also poised to achieve new heights. The Czech Republic looks like it will easily qualify for the Final, which, if achieved, would be a first for the country. The Czech Republic is the only competing nation this year to never reach the Final.  My love for the song has been quite evident on this blog, and I still contend that it is a real dark horse this year that, cannot only give the CR its best finish to date, but truly challenge for the victory.

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Bulgaria also is poised for new heights. Bulgaria has reached the Final only once before, 2007, but when it did, it finished in the Top Ten. This looks like it will be the case once more. If Love was a Crime is immensely popular, as is its performer Poli Genova (who’s fresh off hosting duties for JESC), and is the first instance of Bulgaria being in the betting odds’ top ten heading into the Contest. Expect another Bulgarian success story.

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Finally, Croatia has been steadily collecting fans and support over the past few months. While it has not received the same attention it once did, Lighthouse is poised to bring Croatia back to the Final for the first time since 2009.

Missing Expectations

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I don’t want to spend too much time here, as I don’t wish pour on anyone. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least think about some songs currently slated to do well that will fall flat. First, Italy has been a hot topic ever since the selection was announced. Even though Italy has not been a heavy favorite to win, it has been hovering between 8th and 12th in the bookies’ odds and featured heavily in fan discussions across the web. However, I just don’t think that the song has the immediacy needed to succeed in a Contest mostly determined by folks seeing the song for the first time. One needs to listen and relisten to No Degree of Separation to truly appreciate it, a requirement that most of the viewing audience will not have fulfilled. CyprusCyprus has become a popular pick for those looking outside the heavy favorites for a candidate. It is considered the strongest rock entry this year and features a lead singer who has recently started making a name for himself in Western Europe via France’s version of The Voice. However, the song is still poppy enough to not truly distinguish itself from the competition. It will need a strong, memorable performance in order to qualify and I am currently not confident in predicting this.

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Malta seems to be losing favor rapidly. When Walk on Water was initially announced, it was immediately considered a serious contender to win. There was serious conversation back in March about the Contest being in Malta so soon after the country hosted the JESC (which it will do again this fall). However, since then, it has steadily fell in the bookies’ odds and now, not only sits outside the top ten but is predicted to struggle to qualify, a stark contrast to conversations just weeks ago.

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Finally, Sweden has been on the exact opposite ride as France. When If I were Sorry won Melodifesrevalen, it was immediately a serious contender to win. This was the conversations held around the fan community, the news media, and the bookies injected Sweden right behind heavy favorite Russia. However, since then, Sweden has consistently been falling in the odds and losing steam among the fan community. What looked to be an easy Top Ten placing just a few weeks ago now looks like it will be a struggle to receive a respectable placing.

Unpopular Opinion

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So, let’s face it. Moldova has one of the weakest entries this year. The song is trite and predictable. Lidia Isac, while she is beautiful and appears to be super sweet, is not the right singer for this tune. With that said, Moldova is best poised to capitalize on Romania’s unexpected absence. Since Moldovans and Romanians have a shared cultural history, it is fair to think that Moldova would do better than expected on this alone. Now, with Romania being removed at the last second, it stands to gain the near entirety of support from a diaspora that has made Romania one of the few countries to never miss the Final. So, do not be surprised when you see Falling Stars on Saturday night – though, expect it to fall flat in the Final.

So, finally, who do I predict to qualify from each semi-final?

First Semi-Final
(In alphabetical order)

Second Semi-Final
(Also in alphabetical order)

Armenia

Australia

Azerbaijan

Belgium

Croatia

Bulgaria

Czech Republic

Latvia

Iceland

Lithuania

Hungary

Macedonia

Malta

Norway

Moldova

Poland

The Netherlands

Serbia

Russia

Ukraine

And more importantly, who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? (Also alphabetical)
Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Spain, Serbia, Russia, Ukraine

Most importantly, who’s going to win?!
Well, my heart says Czech Republic, as it is the best full package we are being presented with this year. However, if I were to place a bet, my money would be on France for all the reasons mentioned above. Moreover, it is one of the most memorable songs this year,which is quite a feat. All it needs is a decent place in the running order (which isn’t a guarantee with SVT) to all but seal its victory. Next year in Paris?

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Stay tuned. I’ll be posting my annual ESC notes tomorrow (with a return of the country profiles!) As well as updated predictions after each dress rehearsal and a reaction after each show. It’s bound to be an another great year for the Eurovision Song Contest!

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Contender or Pretender 2016 is Here!

Hello Dear Readers!

Sweden was deemed "a contender" in last year's series.

Sweden was deemed “a contender” in last year’s series.

So, the annual Contender or Pretender series is here! Once again, I will be taking the ten entries with the highest betting odds, as of today (24 April), and go through each one – discussing its merits, its weaknesses, and rendering an ultimate conclusion on whether an entry is a contender, has a legitimate chance of winning, or a pretender, an overrated act that will not win.

The ten entries with the best betting (in random order) are:

I will review two songs per post each day this week! So, stay tuned!

RomaniaAlso, interestingly enough, thirteen countries still have lower odds of winning than Romania, who was disqualified from competing late last week. While, this is mostly due to the fact that two last sites have yet to remove the country from their betting pools, I think it’s funny that there are songs that are currently listed as having a worse chance at victory than a non-competing entry. Those countries are, in order from best odds to worst: Ireland, Finland, Belarus, Albania, Georgia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, San Marino, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

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Recap of Initial Thoughts and Predictions

Hello Dear Readers!

So, there you have it, my initial thoughts on the 2016 Eurovision field of entries. After listening to the 43 songs, nearly non-stop, all week, I am still able to stand by my predictions. While there are a few songs I like better now than a week ago, such as Poland, Belgium, and Cyprus, but most stayed about the same.

So, Italy has finally released its ESC-version of No Degree of Separation. My opinion is unchanged. I still think that this song is boring.

As of right now, I predict that the following songs will be in the Top Ten (in alphabetical order):

  • Armenia – much like 2014, Armenia has sent us an outstanding, unique entryBulgaria

  • Azerbaijan – a pop entry that recreates the formula that has brought AZR so much success these years

  • Bulgaria – is replacing the United Kingdom in my Top Ten prediction because it is catchy, it is unique without being inaccessible, and just fun

  • Czech Republic – powerful ballad that I think has a real solid chance to sneak up the leaderboardFrance

  • France – fun, catchy, definitively French without being too French

  • Iceland – mysterious, gripping, and impactful – musically and visually

  • Malta – powerful pop tune sung by someone with ESC experience, a lot of potential for success

  • Norway – lovely dance tune and an eccentric love songNorway

  • Serbia – powerful song about overcoming a bad relationship that will have the backing of most of the Balkans

  • Spain – most popular dance tune this year, uplifting, and will definitely get every viewer up and dancing

  • Sweden – host country bump plus a young, contemporary sound (though, I don’t care for this song)Spain

  • Russia – electric dance track, surely bound to outperform Russia’s last attempt with this style (2011) by a country mile!

So, with that said, who do I think will contend for the title of ESC victor? Well, so far, my thoughts have not yet changed.

Iceland, Czech Republic, Russia, Serbia, and Spain.

IcelandIceland is mysterious and has the benefit on being on Nordic soil. However, there is balance when it comes to dark songs; is it dark enough to captivate viewers without scaring them away?

Czech Republic is my vote for dark horse of the year; it’s an utterly riveting song that is sung magnificently. Though, will it leave a big enough mark to win, especially if it is in the first half of the night at the Grand Final?

Russia is the bookies’ favorite thus far and has quite the fan following. It’s fun and invites the audience in. Will Russia’s real life politics derail their chances at ESC? Will the song be able to woo the juries better than in 2011?

SerbiaSerbia is another option for a dark horse. I know Croatia is supposed to be tops among the former Yugoslav countries, but I think Serbia has broader appeal when it comes to televotes. But, will the song come across authentic, as it is the least “Balkan” sounding entry from Serbia thus far?

Spain is probably the best dance entry this year and is the brightest (that is, uplifting) song, as well. But, will the staging be able to live up to the energy of the song without detracting from the music?

Ultimately, if I had to choose one song right now as the winner. I would choose…

Czech RepublicCzech Republic!

I Stand is, in my opinion, the most complete song this year when taking into account the lyrics, the composition, and the performance. It catches your attention and has the benefit of being a powerful ballad amongst a sea of uptempo numbers. It will stand out, regardless of where it is in the running order, and will take the crown – being the first true ballad to win the Contest since 2011.

Make sure to come back tomorrow for a special blog post introducing a new ESC Obsession tradition!

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ESC 2015 – Final Predictions

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, it’s finally here: Eurovision Week 2015!!! It’s a little late, but what’s a 60th edition without a bit of pomp and fanfare? Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, my annual Notes and Country Profiles will be coming at you ahead of your Eurovision Parties on Saturday!

Per usual, I want to make my final predictions ahead of the semi-finals! Once again, I will be attending the Contest live! (If you have not seen my previous posts, I have a FundRazr campaign!) What this means is that I will not have live notes this year, but will instead do a quick recap and reaction after each semi-final and the Grand Final. You can still expect my wrap-up post and awards after the Contest.

Without further ado, here are my final predictions for this year! These predictions are based upon internet chatter, betting odds, and Contest history. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below!

Qualifiers from First Semi-Final: I do not foresee too many surprises, except for maybe a bloated Armenian entry being left behind.Greek Flag Map

  • Greece
  • Estonia
  • Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • BelarusBelorussian Flag Map
  • Russia
  • Denmark
  • Albania
  • Romania
  • Georgia

Qualifiers from the Second Semi-Final: A lot of the heavy hitters are on tonight. While San Marino has improved its placing each year, even finally qualifying for the Final last year, that trend will end in Vienna.Lithuanian Flag Map

  • Lithuania
  • Ireland
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Israel
  • AzerbaijanIcelandic Flag Map
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • Slovenia
  • Poland

Prediction for the final Top Ten: There’s a lot of parity this year. Unlike the bookies, I do not think it will be a runaway victory for Sweden. It’s going to be an intense battle for the crystal microphone – and I very much look forward to it!Albania

    • Sweden – the big favorite and catchiest song this year
    • Lithuania – cute and the duo has fantastic chemistry
    • Albania – the song is captivating and has been sliding beneath the radar
    • Azerbaijan – a rare gem in artistic creation at the Contest
    • Australia – fun, catchy and makes you want to dance with the one you love!
  • Italy – everything you think of when contemplating Italian musicItaly
  • Slovenia – quirky, endearing and easy to sing along to
  • Russia – a powerfully sung entry about peace
  • Norway – dark, mysterious and masterfully sung
  • Ireland – it’s time for Ireland to return to the Top Ten and this serious, contemplative number can do just that

AzerbaijanAnd the winner is….Azerbaijan! I am predicting that we’ll be heading back to Baku (or possibly Ganja) in 2016. After last year’s *relative* failure (by Azerbaijani standards), İctimai Television has gone to new lengths to bring a soul-searching, moody, meaningful entry to Eurovision this year.


2015 Entries Recap

Hello Dear Readers!

We have reached the submission deadline – all songs are *final* — i.e., the artists and songs are set, though minor lyrical or compositional changes might be made (for a fee, of course). At this point, all 40 participating countries have submitted their performing artists, the official lists of lyricists and composers, the official studio version, the official karaoke version (may have backing vocals), the official backing track (no vocals at all), and a music video/video clip (if no music video has been made yet).

Speaking of participants, some unexpectedness has ensued this year!

  • CzechFlagMapCzech Republic has returned! Probably on the back of Austria and Hungary’s (and, to a lesser extent, Poland’s) success last year. Returning alongside the Czech Republic are Cyprus and Serbia. Who would’ve thought that Czech Republic would be back before perennial Top Ten-er Turkey?
  • Ukraine has withdrawn (for obvious reasons), but Greece continues to compete (despite having bigger problems to deal with). Let’s hope they don’t win to avoid the political and economic firestorm that would surely ensue.
  • Armenia deciding that it wants people from all over the world. Genealogy has a representative from the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia, with an Armenian at the center. That Armenian – Inga Arshakyan; one half of the twin sister group Inga & Anush who you may remember from 2009’s Contest.
  • Sammarinese Flag MapSan Marino gives us not one, but TWO Junior Eurovision artists.
  • Germany had some crazy stuff happen. In short, the winner of Unser Song für Österreich, Andreas Kümert and his song Heart of Stone, after winning by a landslide decided to turn down the honor of representing Germany in Vienna. Second-place finisher, Ann Sophie and her song Black Smoke, will be going to Vienna instead. For her part, the host did a good job of handling the unprecedented situation.

AustraliaAnd, the biggest WTF of the ESC2015 thus far: AUSTRALIA!!!!

  • What. The. Mess!! The Aussies will be participating in ESC for the first and (most likely) only time. Yes, the EBU has decided to allow longtime observer Australia to participate in the ESC after decades of loyal viewership. This is meant as a one-time only affair. Unless, of course, Australia wins! In that case, SBS (the Australian broadcaster) will co-host the Contest next year with a European broadcaster in Europe. I guess, theoretically, Australia could compete forever if it always wins.  Wouldn’t that be something!  I wonder how many consecutive victories would be required before SBS would be allowed to host the Contest Down Under? And with international star Guy Richie performing the entry, SBS is not going small, but more on that below!

So, without looking at other blogs, commentary, or any other source of opinions, here is my quick assessment of this year’s 40 contenders! This is the first time I am hearing each song. My comments are in blue.

Semi-Final One (Australia, Austria, France, and Spain are voting)

  • Armenia – Face the Shadow performed by Genealogy: The refrain is nice, but the verses are kinda wonky. Overall, I generally like the sound; though, musically, it’s a really weird mash-up of styles. I predict it making the Grand Final and then falling flat.
  • Belgium – Rhythm Inside performed by Loïc Nottet: He surely is a good Belgian Flag Countrylooking guy! His voice kinda sounds like a male Sinéad O’Connor. I think I like the song. This seems a bit too experimental for ESC; I cannot see it doing well unless it gets surrounded by two WEAK entries AND the performance/staging is flawless.
  • Estonia – Goodbye to Yesterday performed by Elina Born & Stig Rästa: I don’t particularly care for this. I also do not think that this will do all that well; it’s not all that captivating at all. Perhaps they will spruce up the performance a bit for Vienna.
  • Finland – Aina Mun Pitää (I Always Have To) performed by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät: Definitely not my style of music at all. Finland has seen some success with hard rock, but this is not exciting or enthralling or even interesting. It’s the least rock rock song I think I have heard. And it feels like it is too short. I predict last place; perhaps even a null points.
  • Greece – One Last Breath performed by Maria Elena Kyriakou: If the last few years proved anything, it’s that Greece is not invulnerable. This ballad is not of high quality – it needs significant work before I think it has a serious chance at anything other than bottom ten at the Grand Final.
  • Macedonia – Autumn Leaves performed by Daniel Kajmakoski: I enjoy this, especially when compared to the previous three. It feels like it lasts a bit longer than it should, but at least it does not feel stagnant like so many other mid-tempo songs can. I think it can qualify for the Final, not sure after that.
  • Moldova – I Want Your Love performed by Eduard Romanyuta: Finally, an uptempo dance number! (Not words I thought I would ever say) It’s quite generic, but is completely different than any of the other songs in the first half. I anticipate Belgium will open the show and this will be performed around fourth or fifth to energize the audience. I think it will definitely qualify and finish mid-table.
  • The Netherlands – Walk Along performed by Trijntje Oosterhuis: The Dutch Flag CountryNetherlands reached the Top Ten two years in a row on the back of darker, soul-bearing songs.  So, it makes complete sense that they would turn their back on that equation and go back to generic, understated pop (that’s sarcasm, by the way). This is a pleasant song that leaves little impact. I anticipate The Netherlands being left behind once again in semi-finals.

We’re at the halfway point of the first semi-final and I am not impressed. So far, Belgium and Moldova are the top two entries in my mind.

  • Albania – I’m Alive performed by Elhaida Dani: More generic pop, yay (more sarcasm). I do not see Albania qualifying with this song, though, if the live performance as emotionally raw as 2012’s Albanian entry, then this song will have the ability to shock a lot of people.
  • Belarus – Time performed by Uzari & Maimuna: Belarus is great at pop numbers and this is no different. I think this is a real contender to finish in the Top Ten – especially if they can pull off a magic trick reminiscent to the end of the music video. I don’t think it is strong enough to win, though.
  • Denmark – The Way You Are performed by Anti Social Media — see my thoughts here
  • Georgia – Warrior performed by Nina Sublatti: The first of two songs withGeorgian Flag Map this title this year (which, I believe is a first). I definitely like it. This is what Georgia is best at: off-centre, groundshaking pop. I think it will move through on the back of its woman empowerment theme, though, I think it will fall outside of the Top Ten.
  • Hungary – Wars for Nothing performed by Boggie: So, a clear cry for peace in this tumultuous time that we are living in. Too bad this song is disparately boring. It will get some points for its message, but not many.
  • Romania – All Over Again performed by Voltaj: Romania, more than any other country, has the uncanny ability to perform well with mediocre songs. I foresee this year continuing that trend. A weak song will end up in the low teens because Romania has a strong backing across Europe.
  • Russia – A Million Voices performed by Polina Gagarina: With Armenia, Russian Flag MapBelarus, and Serbia voting, there is no way Russia is not making the Final. This song, much like Albania’s, is not that great, but an amazing live performance can help it outperform. Like Albania, there is a stunning singer delivering the song, unlike Albania, Russia has a huge diaspora throughout Europe that will support it and lift this song into the Top Ten.
  • Serbia – Beauty Never Lies performed by Bojana Stamenov: So, not bad, though, songs with huge tempo changes have a checkered past at the Contest. I’m not sure how well it will do. Though, against this competition, I think it will definitely move through to the Final despite the size-bias that we often see play out at ESC.

BelarusSo, that is the first semi-final. I cannot say that I am, at this point, overly enthusiastic about any of the songs. Though, there are a few gems: Serbia, Belarus, and Georgia all have decently strong entries, in my opinion. Russia, Belgium, and Albania are all at potential for greatness with a convincing live performance. I think Moldova will sneak through, and Greece, Romania, and Armenia will qualify based on the strength of their legacies.

Semi-Final Two (Australia, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom)

  • Czech Republic – Hope Never Dies performed by Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta: Hmmm…interesting number. I am not convinced that it will do well, but I think it is right around a 9-12 finish in the semi-final. Definitely, the Czech Republic’s strongest entry to date.
  • Ireland – Playing with Numbers performed by Molly Sterling: Not really my thing. I also think that the sound is neither contemporary enough nor “retro” enough to make a big impact at ESC. I see another year left in the semi-final for Ireland.
  • Lithuania – This Time performed by Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila: This song definitely has potential. I think that the two of them need to Lithuanian Flag Mapwork on singing together; their chemistry on stage is fantastic already. The kiss is a fun gimmick. This is definitely Lithuania’s strongest entry in recent years and, given the relative balance in strength, is the first real contender for victory I have heard.
  • Malta – Warrior performed by Amber: Our second warrior this year. Not as strong as Georgia; this is more formulaic and makes a much smaller impact. If this makes it to the Final, I think it will be due to weak competition, not its own merits.
  • Montenegro – Adio (Goodbye) performed by Knez: This is a good song, but overall, unremarkable in my opinion. It is rather stagnant; it does not build or captivate. Definitely not ŽjeIjko Joksimović’s (famed Contest composer, performer, and host) best work. I do think Montenegro will be returning to the Final.
  • Norway – A Monster Like Me performed by Mørland & Debrah Scarlett: Is it me or is there an increase in duets this year? This is the exact opposite Norwegian Flag Mapof Lithuania; they sing well together, but avoid having to display chemistry by standing back-to-back. The song is not fun and perky, but is instead stirring with a dramatic edge. I think it should also be considered a contender for the win.
  • Portugal – Há um Mar Que Nos Separa (There’s a Sea that Separates Us) performed by Leonor Andrade: I think this does not quite know what it wants to be. It starts like a rock number, but then pulls off the throttle and then purrs the rest of the way. They need to work on that arrangement if they really want this to succeed.
  • San Marino – Chain of Light performed by Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini: One of the first to announce its artists, but one of the last to reveal a song; San Marino was definitely trying to stay in the media at each step of the way. It’s interesting how different Perniola sounds now then just a few years ago at JESC, definitely more mature. This song goes from dark to light; i.e., the composition captures the lyrics well. SM’s qualification hinges on the staging – can SMRTV devise a stage show that reflects the composition?

Halfway through the Second Semi-Final and things are a bit more hopeful at this point. The semi-final two is typically the stronger one and this year falls within that expectation. Two songs have already impressed me to the point of thinking of them as true Contenders. Let’s see what the second half has in store!

  • Azerbaijan – Hour of the Wolf performed by Elnur Huseynov: That is one awesome song title! The song makes me feel like I am out West, exploring the desert on horseback, which I guess is the point. Definitely the strongest entry thus far. We might be heading back to Baku in 2016.
  • Cyprus – One Thing I Should Have Done performed by John Karayiannis: It’s like we’ve stepped back into the early 90s! I really like the song but I think it has zero chance of moving through to the Final.
  • Iceland – Unbroken performed by Maria Ólafs: The song is a bit generic for me, but I think it has a real chance of achieving a Top Ten finish. However, I do not think that is will win (maybe with a strong performance + good position in the running order), but it will definitely be successful.
  • Israel – Golden Boy performed by Nadav Guedj: A very Bollywood-style Israeli Flag Countryentry. I hope it has the staging to match! It’s definitely a fun song and should stand out among the more serious entries of this semi-final. Again, being one of the few true, uptempo dance numbers will definitely help its case.
  • Latvia – Love Injected performed by Aminata: That was highly unexpected. Definitely WAY different than your typical ESC entry. I am thinking that it is a little too different. There is no real melody and her voice is a little jarring. I do not see this qualifying; though, I do like it!
  • Poland – In the Name of Love performed by Monika Kuszyńska: This song definitely gets better as it goes along. I like it and think a lot higher of its chances at the end of it than I did at the beginning, which is exactly what one wants in their entry: improving opinions throughout its duration.
  • Slovenia – Here for You performed by Maraaya: I like this! The song is a bit quirky, but not too much so. I fear, though, that the stage performance is going to be weird and derail its chances for success because it will alienate the viewers and confuse the juries.
  • Sweden – Heroes performed by Måns Zelmerlöw: Finally, Zelmerloöw makes it to the ESC! Wow! This Melodifestevalen performance! I cannot wait to see this on stage in Vienna. The song is also catchy, but captivating; multifaceted, but understandable. Definitely another serious contender to win!Swiss Flag County
  • Switzerland – Time to Shine performed by Mélanie René: There’s definitely a Native American vibe going on in the video, but it is not really reflected in the composition. This strikes me of a revamped My Time (UK 2009) – a repetitive song about empowerment, but this one is more uptempo. I think, again, its success depends on its placement in the running order.

AzerbaijanSo, the second semi-final is definitely the stronger of the two, but that is fairly standard at this point. I see four, legitimate contenders to carry the crown: Azerbaijan, Sweden, Norway, and Lithuania. I also see a Top Ten entry in Iceland. The last five is a crapshoot dependent on performance, staging, and the running order. For right now, let’s say the other five qualifiers will be Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, and Malta.

Automatic Finalists

  • Australia – Tonight Again performed by Guy Sebastian: Make no mistake about it, Australia looks to return next year. And the only way to do that is to win. This song, and the selection of international R&B star Guy Sebatian, gives Australia a legitimate shot of taking the crown. Personally, I think the song is fun and a good balance of catchy and intriguing. All it needs is a good running order slot.
  • Austria – I Am Yours performed by The Makemakes: I really like this. Austria has done a good job of setting itself up to do well on home turf without the risk of winning in consecutive years.New French Flag Map
  • France – N’oubliez Pas (Don’t Forget) performed by Lisa Angell: France returns to its roots with a traditional ballad. This will definitely help the French avoid another last place, but I do not see it making a major impact on the scoreboard.
  • Germany – Black Smoke performed by Ann Sophie: I like this song; it’s stands out as being unique, despite its 90s sound. I foresee this quickly becoming one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I do not foresee Black Smoke making a significant impact in Vienna, especially seeing how badly it was beaten in Unser Song.
  • Italy – Grande Amore (Great Love) performed by Il Volo: Like France, Italy is returning to its roots – a dramatic, tenor-driven, epic ballad of Italian Flag Maplove. Expect this song to collect jury votes and those of ESC’s older viewers. I will be interested to see how they stage this song; whether they will tell a story or simply put the guys on stage to sing their hearts out. I predict a Top Ten finish.
  • Spain – Amanecer (Dawn) performed by Edurne: Spain, seeing how successful it can be with emotional, power ballads, is trying its hand once again at the genre with its most epic attempt yet. Anyone else notice the date of the Grand Final inscribed inside the ring in the music video? I like it, but I have a feeling that it will not translate to the stage like it does to music videos – we’ll see, I guess.
  • United Kingdom – Still in Love with You performed by Electro Velvet: Oh, the faux-20s sound that was so popular in the 90s (hmmm, definitely a seeing a trend here). Usually, inside jokes come from the French, but the Brits attempt an entry that sounds and looks like something that will go over the heads of most watching the Contest (including yours truly). Hmm..not sure how it well it will do.

AustriaOf the automatic qualifiers, I think Italy, Austria, and Australia have the strongest entries, though, I think all of them are good. Germany, Spain, and the UK are probably my favorite.

As a recap, the 20 qualifiers that I think will join the automatic qualifiers: Serbia, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Belgium, Albania, Moldova, Greece, Romania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, Slovenia, and Malta. Of the 27 projected finalists, I think the Top Ten will be (in no particular order):

  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Lithuania
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Azerbaijan
  • Iceland
  • Spain
  • Austria
  • Belarus

IfSweden the Contest were to happen today, I would predict that these countries had the best chance of winning: Azerbaijan, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Australia, and Italy. Come back in a few days’ time for my more in-depth review of each of these six entries!

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ESC2014 – Final Predictions and Notes

Hello Dear Readers!

Finally, after much struggle and anguish and many hours, I have finally resolved enough of my technical woes to finally be able to post my notes for y’all!

Eurovision 2014 Write-ups

2014 Country Profiles

 

Reactions from the Jury Final

Last night was the jury final and I can safely say that only one country had a bad enough performance to hurt themselves.  Though, Italy had, by far, the worse performance.  It was pretty flat.  This will definitely be Italy’s worse finish since returning.  Even if Emma has a mind-blowing performance tonight, I see little reason to believe that she will score any higher than 15 based on the jury performance alone.

The UK also had some minor issues when a backing singer tried to end the song a few seconds early.  I am sure that will not happen again tonight. Poland also seemed to suffer from some timing issues that affected the performance.

A few countries also helped their case.  Azerbaijan, a song that was already jury fodder, will likely score very highly for the performance she gave last night.  Likewise, Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland also gave exhilerating performances that are sure to go over well with the juries.  I won’t go into more detail because they were minor improvements to their semi-final performances.  Spain gave a good performance as well.  Valentina Monetta from San Marino was the most improved from her semi-final performance and has secured that she will at least be spared the embarassment of a null points.

Final Predictions

Well, I think (and really, really hope) that this will be the closest Contest in quite some time.  The odds favorite is now Austria, with Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK right behind.  After that, the odds begin to drop.  After much back and forth and consultation with my new friends waiting in line for the shows, I truly think that Sweden will take the crown.  Denmark’s song and staging is weak.  The Netherlands will benefit from being so close to the end and so different from everything else, but at the end of the day, country has never placed higher than second at ESC and I do not think that will change this year.  I do not think the juries will be as enamored with the UK entry as the fans are.  Even though the Austrian entry is my favorite this year, I do not think it will be a winner.  Aside from Conchita Wurst’s look, songs in this style – big, dramatic, ballads that sound like they should be on a James Bond soundtrack – do not have as much mass appeal as one would think.  Especially, not compared to more traditional pop ballads such as the one Sweden has.  Sweden has a simple staging that emphasizing the song; its subtly and power seperate it from the other entries, the juries traditionally like these kinds of songs, and the drama is just enough to captivate audiences without scaring them off.  Undo has the perfect combination of factors to carry the trophy, and the Contest, back across the Øresund for the sixtieth edition in 2015

After Sweden, I think the remaining Top Ten will be:

  • Austria
  • UK
  • The Netherlands
  • Azerbaijan
  • Spain
  • Montenegro
  • Greece
  • Ukraine
  • Hungary

As far as the Bottom Five, I would predict Italy, Belarus, Iceland, Slovenia, and Finland.  These five lack a combination of adequate public appeal, public interest, and stagning.

Final Thoughts Ahead of the Grand Final

Let’s try to keep the politics out of ESC!  This goes both ways.  As far as Russia is concerned, booing Russia does not help anything and only encourages the true villains more.  What happens when you boo the Tomaschevy Twins is that you are booing 17 girls who are Junior Eurovision champions – that’s all.  The best way to handle the situation is to sit quietly; lack of reaction is much more impactful.  Additionally, with Austria.  What the character of Conchita Wurst represents is great, but that is no reason to vote.  Give Austria points because Rise Like a Pheonix is an amazing song, not because you want the drag queen to win.

And with that, enjoy the show!!  It promises to be fantastic!  I will be keeping live notes the best I can from the ESC party that I am attending.  See you this evening!


ESC2014: Second Semi-Final Final Predictions

Tuesday’s spectacular show with its stunning performances and its historic qualifiers is now behind us as we face forward to tonight’s Semi-Final. This one is a bit more straightforward with fewer entries in limbo. Again, these predictions are based on the bookies and internet fan chatter.

Should make it through:
Greece
Romania
Norway
Israel
Ireland
Poland

Probably will make it through:
Austria
Macedonia
Malta
Finland

Fighting for the Final Spot:
Slovenia
Switzerland

No chance of moving through:
Georgia
Lithuania
Belarus

Slovenia – a strong composition that underwent a positive reworking to add a bit more Slovene and big notes. It’s such a captivating song!

Switzerland – a fun song with a charismatic performer. It stands out from the crowd and gets you whistling along with it

Both songs are folk-inspired, uptempo pieces performing towards the end of the show; both contrast the entries on either side of it. Both historically struggle to qualify and both have singers that will be “playing” instruments on stage. The difference lies in their support. The only predictable points are from culturally close countries (aka neighbors). Slovenia has fellow former Yugoslav republic Macedonia. Switzerland has Italy, Austria, and Germany all voting tonight. Advantage to the Swiss. I expect Sebalter to bring his homeland back to the Final.


ESC2014: Semi-Final One – final predictions

As we count down the minutes until we start the First Semi-Final, I thought that I’d give you my predictions now since I will not have live notes this year.

These final predictions are based upon further listens, bookie predictions, and fan chatter.

Making it through easily:
Ukraine
Sweden
Armenia
Hungary
Azerbaijan

More than likely going through:
Russia
The Netherlands
Belgium
Estonia

Battling for the final spot:
San Marino
Montengro
Portugal
Moldova

Not going through:
Albania
Latvia
Iceland

San Marino – Valentina’s third attempt. She’s at the top of her game, but the song doesn’t leave a lasting impression

Montenegro – Is a theoretical jury magnet, but is there enough fan support to push it through?

Portugal – being one of the few uptempo songs in a sea of ballads will make it stick out, but will Suzy’s vocals be enough to carry it through?

Moldova – historically has a strong track record of qualifying but the song might be too modern for viewers.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to San Marino and Montenegro. I give the edge to ESC veteran Valentina Monetta and San Marino. I think the two are even jury-wise but I think SM will get a bit more of the televote.

 


First Video Posted – ESC 2014 Dark Horses!

As promised, my first YouTube video has been published looking at who I think will surprise us at the Contest this year.  You can view it here: http://youtu.be/36YzhL83Ofo.

Coming later, final semi-final one predictions as well as ESC2014 Contest Notes!


ESC2014 Song Reviews: Recap

Hello Dear Readers! As promised, here is a recap of my song reviews!

First, the composite scores, ranked from highest to lowest. Potential for Success score was used as the first tie-breaker, Personal Interest Score as the second.Swedish Flag MapAustrian Flag Map

First Semi-Final Second Semi-Final
Sweden (9) Austria (8.5)
Armenia (9) Poland (8)
Azerbaijan (8.5) Romania (7)
Hungary (8.5) Israel (7)
Ukraine (8) Ireland (7)
Russia (8) Macedonia (7)
Moldova (8) Malta (7)
San Marino (7.5) Belarus (7)
Iceland (6) Greece (6.5)
Belgium (6) Switzerland (6.5)
Estonia (6) Slovenia (6)
The Netherlands (5.5) Finland (5.5)
Portugal (5) Lithuania (5)
Albania (4.5) Norway (5)
Latvia (4.5) Georgia (4.5)
Montenegro (4)

Italian Flag Map

Automatic Qualifiers
Italy (8)
Germany (8)
Denmark (7.5)
France (7)
United Kingdom (6.5)
Spain (6.5)

 

Overall Impressions

Typically, there are many entries that try to duplicate the most recent winner’s sound, which this year, would be pop with Denmarksome folk elements, much like what happened in 2010 after Norway’s most recent victory. And we see that in Germany, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, and Slovenia seem to have gone that route (I’m leaving Greece off because they always send the same, vaguely ethnic entry each year). Azerbaijan and Montenegro both incorporate folk elements into their ballads as well. Interestingly, there is also an abundance of American-style folk entries: the Netherlands, Georgia, Malta, Switzerland, and Latvia, taking inspiration from Rollo & King (Denmark 2001), perhaps, as the duo got second place the last time the Contest was in Copenhagen. Though, Never Let You Go is definitely more country than folk. There seems to be a dearth of rock entries, with (unsurprisingly) Finland and (surprisingly) Italy representing the genre on stage. France and Greece provide rap, a historically unsuccessful genre, this year – let’s see how they do.

ArmeniaAs you can see, I think it’s a pretty even field this year. As much as I like Austria’s entry, I just don’t see it competing for the championship, leaving Sweden and Armenia to duke it out for victory. As I continue to gather information and get more comfortable with the songs, I’ll have more analysis! Look for my “Contender or Pretender” series next week! As well as my first YouTube post that will focus on some entries that I think can be real dark horses this year!

One last note, though, since reviewing these songs, some of my opinions have evolved. I don’t Georgiathink Georgia is as bad as I thought it was initially, though, it still will struggle to avoid a null points in its semi-final. Israel and Lithuania have both slightly grown on me, though, I’m still not a big fan of either. Spain and Montenegro, to entries I did not pay much attention to before Eurovision in Concert, are now both on my watch list. They’re both just one stunning performance away from pulling an upset on May 10. Norway, Denmark, and Latvia have all lost ground with me and I no longer feel as favorable towards them as I once did.

 

I’m excited to dive deeper into the entries in the coming weeks. Even more excited that I will get to see the semi-finals and the jury dress rehearsal for the Grand Final in person for the first time!! Until next time, dear readers!


Eurovision 2013 – Final Predictions!!!

2013 Desktop

Here we are, less than one week out from the First Semi-Final!  With rehearsals in full swing, we are seeing some of the last throws of changes and adjustments ahead of next week’s shows. Below, I will be giving my final review and predictions for each entry – pulling in everything I know and have learned in terms of history, betting odds, and fan chatter.

I’ll give a brief review of every entry, then dive deeper into who I think will win.

Starting with the First Semi-Final:

Austrian Flag MapAustria – It’s a very pleasant song, but I do not think it will have a very lasting impact.  It may sneak into the Final, but it will not do anything once it gets there.

Estonia – This song has definitely grown on me since the first time I heard it.  It’s still quite dull, though, and will make zero impact on the night.  I fear that it will be struggling to avoid last place.

Slovenia – I love this song! And the fact that Hannah Mancini is American only makes me like it all that much more.  Unfortunately, there’s usually only room for one club track in ESC and Norway owns it this year. Even within its own semi-final, Slovenia is less memorable (and appears earlier than) Montenegro and will likely suffer because of it.

Croatia – Classy, simple, clean – it’s lovely.  It will garner points for being so culturally true, but it will suffer from beCroatian Flag Maping so early and so slow. Like Austria, I think it might sneak into the Final and then just sit there.

Denmark – This is the big favorite to win, I loved it since the first time I heard it at DMGP.  If this song is not in the Top Five, I would be shocked.

Russia – Dina Garipova has a beautiful voice, but this song is sooo bland.  It will do well given that its Russia and I wholeheartedly expect this to finish in the Top Ten.

Ukraine – I’ve said it before, the retooled version is miles better than the original, but it’s still a bit too theatrical, I think, to challenge for a win. I think being from the Ukraine will get the entry some points as will the sheer power of Zlata Ognevich’s voice. Unfortunately, the feedback from rehearsals is not good and her chances are sinking.

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands – Anouk is a rather amazing performer and the chatter is that she is keeping her presentation simple, which is perfect for this song.  I think there’s a lot of positive buzz around this song but the Dutch’s stock seems to be dropping. I think she will qualify, but struggle to reach the Top Ten.

Montenegro – I’m still on the fence about this song, personally.  Depending on the mood of the voters, I think this could take the last qualifying spot away from Austria or Croatia.

Lithuania – The song doesn’t entirely make sense and it’s not very dynamic.  I think this will be challenging Estonia for last place on Tuesday.

Belarus – I think of this year’s 39 entries, Belarus’ stock dropping faster than anyone else. When Solayoh was revealed, it was immediately counted as a contender to win. Now, people think it will be lucky to qualify – which I think it will do as long as the presentation is decent.

Moldova – I think this is the most underrated entry – I think it’s captivating, well-sung, and not getting any bad press – look out! Moldova is up to big things!Irish Flag Map

Ireland – I think this is in a similar situation as Slovenia, except Ireland is a much more popular and successful country than Slovenia or Montenegro in ESC. I think that it will qualify for the Final, but not do too much after that.

Cyprus – Another one of my absolute favorites this year. But, like Estonia, I think it is a bit too dull to do anything.  I think it benefits from being expertly sung (particularly, following Ireland) but I do not think Serbian Flag MapDespina Olympiou’s fantastic vocals will be enough to bring success to Cyprus this year.

Belgium – This song gets better each time I hear it.  Unfortunately, viewers only have one time to listen and Roberto Bellarosa is not necessarily a great live singer.

Serbia – This song is a hot mess, and I think it’s stock is also headed in the wrong direction. It has all the makings of a dud.

Bottom Line: Who do I think will qualify?

-Denmark

-Russia

-Ukraine

-The Netherlands

-Ireland

-Austria

-Montenegro

-Croatia

-Belarus

Danish Flag Map-Moldova

I think Denmark is the only one from this bunch that can actually win.

Take a quick breath.  Ready?  Onward to Semi-Final Two.

Latvia – I never particularly cared for this song.  I recently looked up their other song from the Latvian, Sad Trumpet, it’s amazing, which makes me dislike this song even more.

San Marino – Already proving itself to be SM’s most popular entry, it scored a second placing in ESCToday/OGAE’s Annual Poll of Clubs.  I think this could surprise a lot of folks and finish Top Ten.

Macedonian Flag MapMacedonia – I love this song and do not understand why it’s being panned across the web. Anyway, I have very low expectations for this entry.

Azerbaijan – I think Azerbaijan’s weakest entry yet, but it will benefit from the fact that Turkey is not voting. They even released a Turkish language version (which is awful, by the way) in order to capitalize on the Turkish diaspora.

Finland – Like Belgium and Estonia, this song has definitely grown on me and she has a cult following across Europe. But, most Finnish entries seem to garner a cult following of some degree (I’m thinking of 2010, especially) and still not go anywhere. I’m thinking that this will qualify and finish mid-table.

Malta – I really like this, it’s adorable, genuine, and very sweet.  I do not think, though, that it will make a lasting impression on the night, but it could sneak through.

Bulgaria – Not as good as Voda, I think it will fall flat.Bulgarian Flag Country

Iceland – This song is a bit captivating and is generally well-received throughout the fan-sites.  I think it will qualify and has a chance to sneak up the scoreboard.

Greece – Great song! It will definitely qualify, but how will it do? I think it depends on the running order – if it’s surrounded by two ballads (like it is in the semi-final) I think it has a real shot of being Top Ten, otherwise, it will finish mid-table.

Israel – The question is, will the amazingness of this song be outweighed by the horrendous fashion and hairstyle?  Probably.

Armenian Flag MapArmenia – Meh. This song is decent, but still not great.  I do not think it will do that well, but may qualify on virtue of the fact that over half will move through.

Hungary – I really, really like this.  But it’s so soft I think that it will be loss among the shuffle.

Norway – This song is very different from the grand majority of ESC entries, which means that it will either be wildly successful or fail greatly. It has a lot of fan support and haunts you long after listening – it’s bound to do well.

Albania – This song seems to be fairly popular, but I do not know why.  It will benefit from being the only rock song in the Contest this year.

Georgia – “Eurovision by Numbers” is the phrase that everyone seems to be throwing around for this entry.  I agree, but I don’t mind – it’s a fantastic entry in my opinion and can challenge for the win.Swiss Flag County

Switzerland – I love this song but it seems to be getting mixed reviews. I think it’s just good enough to qualify (when was the last time the Dutch and the Swiss were in a Final together? 2003 I think).

Romania – Romania will be the next country with a 100% Final qualification rate to fall (as Turkey did in 2011 and Georgia did in 2012).

The Bottom Line: Who do I think will qualify?

-San Marino

-Azerbaijan

-Finland

-Iceland

-Greece

-Israel

-Norway

-Albania

-GeorgiaGeorgian Flag Map

-Switzerland

I think Georgia and Azerbaijan are the most serious contenders.

Whew!  Blink a few times – maybe take a sip of water – onward to the Final!!

France – I love! this song.  It’s great!  For some unknown reason, no one else seems to.  New French Flag MapI think with a really good presentation (Amandine Bourgeois alone on stage (the backing singers can be off-camera on the catwalk – like Sweden last year) with flames that grow higher throughout and begin to dance by the end), this song could be a dark horse.

Germany – I like this a lot, I wonder if Europe will get up and dance or be tired of all the club tracks between last year and this year. I think Cascada, on name alone, will be able to break the Top Ten.

Italy – In my opinion, this is the most overrated song this year. Everyone is talking about how much they love it and how great it is, but I do not see what separates this entry from Iceland or Israel (or even Cyprus and Estonia for that matter) – they’re all well sung ballads in my opinion. Expect it to fight with Georgia for jury points.

Spanish Flag MapSpain – I really like this entry, it’s really sweet and I love the Celtic sound (the band is from northern Spain, where Celtic Galician region is).  However, it will merely be a palate cleanser between whatever two song its performed between. I don’t think it will be last.

Sweden – I think this song has great potential, but I have yet to see Robin Stjernberg perform this song live well.  While the viewing public may not care as much, the juries will (remember Russia 2011?).

United Kingdom – I like it; it’s grown on me. Most of the comments I see and the betting odds all seem to have this song doing well (except for Britons, but after following the Contest since 2007, Briton Flag MapI do not think there is a single thing the BBC can do that won’t make British fans whine).

Bottom Line: Which of these six do I think can finish in the Top Ten?

-Italy

-Germany

So, who’s going to win?

I think there are only four legitimate contenders: Denmark, Italy, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

Danish Flag MapDenmark – the big favorite among the fans and the bookies – by a country mile!  This song’s biggest challenge is whether it can withstand being in a field of 26 others. If this song is stuck in the first half of the Grand Final, then it can sink.  It’s a great song, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression; if it’s mixed with other pleasant entries (like Switzerland, the UK, Spain) or more memorable entries (like Ukraine or Norway) then it will be forgotten by the average viewer.Italian Flag Map

Italy – perceived, by just about everyone, as the strongest ballad in the field this year.  If Marco Mengoni has to worry about Eythor Ingi (Iceland) being within close range, then I he’ll also have to worry about losing votes to him.  The two songs are similar in appearance, tone, and mood and can split votes, resulting in lower placings for both of them.

Georgian Flag MapGeorgia – a powerful, stirring ballad that represents one of the best efforts of ESC legend Thomas G:son.  Conversely, the drawback from of having a renowned ESC composer writing for you – all his songs have a similar sound and put this song at risk of sounding generic.

Azerbaijan – Turkey is not competing, leaving Europe’s biggest diaspora up for grabs and ripe for the picking for mini-Turkey:Azerbaijani Flag Map Azerbaijan.  Everything about this entry is average – thehttps://eurovisionobsession.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=608&action=edit singing, the lyrics, the music; I also doubt Azerbaijan wants to host again so quickly after last year’s Contest.

I stick by my prediction from a few weeks ago, Denmark and Georgia will be battling it out for victory.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday when I will be posting my annual live notes! Every year, I take notes as I am watching the Semi-Finals and Grand Final and post them here for your reading pleasure!  The shows occur at 3PM here, so I have to watch the semi-finals later in the day (hence why the notes are posted the following day). I will try to keep my Grand Final notes on here live this year after Twitter failed me last year – so be sure to check back in on Saturday!

ESC2013 Logo Facebook Cover

ESC2013 Facebook Cover


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.


Pre-Contest Predictions: 2010

It is my understanding that there are seven “favorites” this year, i.e., songs that have a high chance of winning the Contest: Denmark, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Germany, Croatia, and Slovakia.  Each of these countries have a more than fair shot at winning , and compelling reasons that they will fail.

Denmark: Probably the top favorite this year, the Danes are sending a middle of the road contemporary pop song in A Moment Like This performed by Chanée & N’Evergreen.  This has a wide appeal, but for every fan who likes this song or hates this song, there are two that are tepid.  That’s a whole lot of lukewarm people!  The Danes will probably get votes because people feel that they have to vote for them, not necessarily because they have the best song, not to mention N’Evergreen is a big star in Russia, meaning that bordering countries probably also love him.

Armenia: One of the more anticipated entries due to the uncommonly high interest the Armenian national selection.  Eva Rivas carried her nation’s national selection with the song Apricot Stone, with the support of Lys Assia.  The song seems to be an unoffensive ballad (in the traditional sense, in that it is a song that tells a story); however, it seems to be a call to arms for diaspora voting.  The singer, herself, said that the song is about not forgetting one’s roots and returning to one’s homeland, if just in your heart.  But maybe I am reading too much into this interpretation.

Azerbaijan: Often referred to as the most overrated act this year, the “Land of Fire” will be represented by Drip Drop performed by Safura.  All of a sudden, any female who wants to sing R&B is a Beyoncé rip-off?  What a joke!  R&B has been around long before Beyoncé was born and will survive long after she’s dead and forgotten.  People are trying to find ways of putting down the Azerbaijani entry without any real evidence of the song being poor; this should stop!  However, there is a lot of money and publicity being thrown at this entry, meaning that it is probably weaker than the bookies are letting on.  What’s the old saying, “the more something’s advertised, the less you need it.”

Israel: The Middle East nation is being represented by Milim performed by Harel Skaat.  He’s a cute boy singing one of this year’s many ballads.  Has anyone else noticed that all of Skaat’s songs sound the same, or is it just me?  I listened to the four songs that lost at K’dam, and had a hard time telling them a part from one another.  With that said, no one’s stock has dropped hotter than Israel’s.  When Milim was first selected, just about every news outlet predicted that it would be a winner; now you would be hard pressed to find this prediction outside of the Harel Skaat fan club.  However, the song remains popular on fan sites and among the bookies, and hey! I like Mr. Skaat.

Germany: Satellite performed by Lena is the German entrant this year.  From what I gathered, this is a very contemporary song without being weird, which accounts for its high popularity; is it finally time for the Teutonic colors to fly during the ESC winner reprise once again?  How can the only country with the most particpations (54 this year) have only a single victory?  Germany has a tendency to send things that are very American in sound.  From big band (2009, 2007) to girl group bubble gum pop (2008) to country (2006) to blue-eyed soul (2004), Germany seems to be searching for the right answer on this side of the Atlantic.  Just last year, they shook two half-naked Americans at their troubles, and still failed to get past 20th place.  That’s not to say that USA spells trouble at the ESC.  This year, the Germans are looking to taking advantage of the “indie” sound that has become so popular in the US over the past five years.  However, this year, the German entry has been very well received despite its American sound.  There is concern regarding whether Lena can handle the pressure of performing on the ESC stage, only time will tell.

Croatia: Feminnem returns to the Eurovision Song Contest, with a new style and a new flag.  Representing Croatia this go ’round, the three ladies have slowed things down a bit with the song Lako je Sve.  Due to a heart tht is made at the end of the performance, there are cries that the group is copying the end of the 2007 winner Marija Šerifović (SER – Molitva).  Again, this is an example of fools blowing smoke.  Whether or not Feminnem was influenced by the 2007 performance is irrelevant, what about the song?  There seems to be nothing but positive things being said about this song, however, there are far fewer comments being made than for most of the other favorites.  All positive is good, but a lack of attention is not.

Slovakia: For me, this is the most unexpected favorite this year.  Slovakia has few neighbors participating this year (Poland and Ukraine (which is a completely different diaspora for the most part)) and has not had much success with any previous entry.  Despite this, Herhronie performed by Krisitna is among the most well-received songs this year.  It is an up-tempo number that differs dramatically from the other entrants and is in the weaker (much weaker) semi-final of the two.  Not only that, voting for Slovakia would be a novelty for most people.  Though, to be a novelty, it would mean that people are not used to voting for Slovakia in the first place.  Therefore, there’s no guarantee that people will magically start voting for the country this year, despite the popularity the song is experiencing.

My predictions:

Can the “Queen of Backing Singers” Hera Bjork take her country “back” to the Top Ten?

First Semi-Final Qualifiers (in no particular order): Iceland (quickly becoming a fan favorite), Greece (it’s Greece!), Albania (up-tempo; benefactor of a weak semi-final), Moldova (up-tempo; benefactor of weak semi-final), Slovakia (a favorite to win), Belgium (nothing but positive reviews), Serbia (benefactor of a weak semi-final), Portugal (benefactor of a weak semi-final), Latvia (different enough to make it unique), Russia (it’s Russia, benefactor of weak semi-final)
Left Behind: Estonia (too eccentric for most people), Finland (maybe too folksy for most people), Bosnia & Herzegovina (poor reviews), Poland (small, yet strong fan base – key word is small), Malta (it’s Malta), Macedonia (poor reviews), Belarus (reviewed as boring, yet pleasant – key word is boring)

Does Jon Lilygreen & The Islanders have what it takes to keep the other border entries at bay?

Second Semi-Final Qualifiers (in no particular order): Armenia (it’s Armenia and a favorite to win), Israel (Harel Skaat = cute boy!; it’s a favorite to win), Denmark (wide audience appeal; Russian pop star; it’s a favorite to win), Sweden (big and strong fan base; it’s Sweden), Azerbaijan (it’s a favorite to win; too much money thrown into it to fail), Ireland (it’s a past winner; one of the more popular ballads), Croatia (it’s a favorite to win; one of the more popular ballads), Turkey (it’s Turkey), Romania (big and strong fan base), Cyprus (strong fan base; benefactor of the fact that more than half of the songs get into Final)

Will Sweden return to the Top Ten after a three year absence?

Left Behind: Lithuania (too eccentric for most people), Switzerland (small and strong fan base – key word is small), Ukraine (too much controversy; poorly received song), Netherlands (poorly received song), Slovenia (poorly received song), Bulgaria (might slip in, but most likely won’t; it’s Bulgaria), Georgia (not strong enough to displace one of the ten qualifiers)

Final Top Ten (in no particular order): Denmark (see above), Germany (see above), Armenia (see above), Azerbaijan (see above), Iceland (popularity is going uphill at just the right time), Sweden (there’s usually at least one surprise in the Top Ten each year, this is my prediction for it), Croatia (see above), Israel (see above), Greece (it’s Greece), Norway (big fan favorite; home turf bump)
Winner (Question that must be answered to secure victory): Denmark (Can the Russia-based pop star N’Evergreen secure some votes from the East?), Germany (Can Lena turn her nervous energy into star power?), or Armenia (Can Eva Rivas be as convincing to all of Europe as she was to her own country?)