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Podcast: Eurovision 2015 Part 5

ESCtips’ Gavster is joined by Daniel Gould and Tobias Larsson who combine their vast experience and share their expert opinions on this year’s automatic qualifiers.

Follow us: @ESCtips_Gavster @sofabet @TobsonHelsinki

Read our individual song reviews by clicking the links below:

United Kingdom

Correction on podcast. Lighting designer is Bruce Ramus.

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About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Black 'n' Blue15

    All in all, great job on the Podcast series Gav, I’ve really enjoyed them!.

    As for my prediction before rehearsals, I usually combine songs both emotionally laden and instant for me, along with the archetypal-Eurovision juggernauts in the betting odds. Subject to change, Voila!

    1. Australia
    2. Cyprus
    3. Sweden
    4. Russia

    Russia: What can I say about this?, A Million Voices fits into the modern Eurovision format like sliced-bread into a toaster; White bread I might add, bland, generic we’ve all eaten it before kind of material.
    Lecturing Europe (and Oz) on Peace and Tolerance is hardly going to go down well either, and that to me is why if for anything, this won’t win. Critique to one side, the Russian entry ticks boxes that a plethora of other countries are seemingly unaware of; AMV is uplifting, structure is there, Polina is a seasoned, attractive performer, and the song has a strong crescendo, compared to that of it’s stablemates. Going for a monochromatic (White) appearance as seen from the clip, can push this into the Top 5 along with Diaspora support too. Remember that Dima, Ell/Nikki, and Emmelie all donned the same appearance, which is a fetish of somewhat for Juries/Televoters alike. Too calculated to go all the way, I feel.

    Sweden: Crickets, Hummingbirds, Worms and Butterflies?, more National Geographic than Eurovision might I have you, but People often like animals more than those of their own species so I’m sure most will be content to play along with Heroes!. Personally, I liked this a lot on first listen but by listen three and four it becomes tiresome and nagging. The chorus is particularly weak, especially after the catchy Spaghetti Western verse. As visually stunning as the live performance is, I don’t think it’ll be enough. We’ll be sure to see a melange of impressive visual packages to rival Sweden in Vienna, and not only that but the danger for Mans are his Mannerisms. Running around the stage fist-pumping could make him look like a total narcissist for viewers at home. I also struggle to make the personal connection with him, naturally being too fixated on his cartoons and leather trousers!. Some have compared this clinical attempt to Only teardrops but I honestly believe the rival entries for Sweden have much more going for them than that of Denmark’s two years ago. From the list of animals given above I’d say Heroes is the Worm as it won’t fly to the top of the scoreboard come May.

    Cyprus: What a welcome comeback from the Islanders!. I’ve had to think long and hard about this one, but like Ewan from the fourth podcast, my gut instinct is that the Cypriot effort might (a BIG Might) just win. For a start, there’s nothing superfluous about this , it’s all about the Song and John’s delivery of it. The acoustic arrangement coupled with a an effusive narrative just creates an incandescent warmth in my heart. I feel like the connection is made, even though I don’t love the song, and that to me spells out contender, as although a slightly drunk casual viewer at home might not Love the song either, John the local IT man with his distinct glasses (USP) singing about a breakup, is enough to register with people of all ages. Mothers and Daughters will love him, as will Juries I suspect, looking for a quieter alternative to latch onto. The moment John sings the Bridge without instrumentation, a pin will drop, and we’ll all take notice.

    Australia: A Spare prick at a wedding I think not!, This is the one. Putting the song to one side, Oz are the unexpected landmine that’s totally unavoidable. They’re the most talked of Country by far, making news-waves globally as early as February and being at least name-dropped in almost every National-Final this season before the song was even released. Austria had similar momentum before Rise like a Phoenix was released, 12 months ago. Throw into the mixing bowl the Killer tune Tonight again with the uber-professional and amicable Guy Sebastian and there you have it. The best part about this entry is that it’s kind of frivolous, not taking itself too seriously unlike a particular Swede. Juries and fans alike will vote for it on the basis of quality and staging (C’mon look at the team behind it!) and Casual viewers should tap into the vortex of novelty behind their participation too. A +300 score isn’t out of the Question. In conclusion I think many would be congruent with my postulate that Tonight again is the commercially viable, hit-in-the-making winner the contest needs after last year’s popular and victorious yet dated chanson.

    Extra Prediction: Ann Sophie to open on Saturday night.

    BTW, Iv’e got upcoming exams so it’s unlikely I’ll be back on here until June, 🙁

  2. Stephen Colville

    I’m sorry, but Cyprus winning is an insane thing to say. It really has no ingredients to deliver anything like that kind of result. I have it down as a non-qualifier at the moment.

  3. “Better production than a good song”….I think Tobias nails it in one on Australia. I think this song will still alienate enough “traditional” Eurovoters to cost it a win. Slot is crucial. Top 5 for sure, but would not put money on a win. I like it a lot (and would personally prefer it over Italy or Sweden.) Do not rule out a Norway surge to land a top 4 finish, post rehearsals and semi-final. Both Netherlands and Austria were 20 plus to one last year at this stage.

    • Mark, for me the lesson from last year is that it’s almost impossible to assume the way the voting public will view something/someone different. Many speculated, myself included, that Conchita would be too divisive a performer particularly in the East to win and we were proven wrong.
      You know I have my doubts too about Australia but that hasn’t prevented me from backing them and I certainly wouldn’t lay them even at present low odds.

    • the only USP the song has is the fact it is from Australia. it sounds very retro at the beginning and then switches to fairly generic pop, albeit of a very high standard, and impeccably delivered by a confident and talented performer. however, i’m not sure the song is strong enough in itself to take it over the line… there are certainly better songs in the competition. it’s price is certainly overrated for what we have seen so far. it should be closer to Estonia. for me it is going to take a presentation every bit as good as those from Austria and the Netherlands last year for it to win – for that we will have to wait and see.

  4. these are the songs i think that can win it given the right circumstances:

    having said that i think Sweden, Norway and Estonia will be the ones locked at the top of the leader board

  5. Rob.

    That’s the top 7, I agree…..possibly Azerbaijan may break in there as well in place of Slovenia/Russia. As for the order…..all now turns to the real thing……it’s all to play for amongst this group.

  6. Italy are winning for me.Genuine world class performers.The delivery and pace is roof lifting.Won the televote and the poll vote by a landslide at Sanremo easily beating the strongest contemporary line up for 20 years.If RAI are ever to win singing in Italian,now is the time.It is a leap of faith though based on quality more than anything.
    Australia are dangerous.The song is average but they have the talking point,a great performer and it looks like big record company money for staging.
    Sweden will do well,Mans is a good performer and the package good.Song would be the weakest winner of an ESC for as long as i can remember though.Australia might go favourite over the next couple of weeks.
    There are several others including Norway who are still in contention for me with fantastic staging.
    I have nothing on any bets outside of the outright yet.It might stay like that.

  7. Here’s my case for Belgium. I strongly believe in top 10. I actually believe they even have a chance of winning it. Many things can go horribly wrong, but I’m seeing the potential and I’m betting on it.

    First about the song. The main criticism have been that it might be too alternative or too left field. I personally would not buy this reasoning. First of all, quality is the most important aspect by far, just look at the top 5 of last year and compare them to the field. Juries are also especially generous towards modern pop songs, which this is. And it’s not that alternative to be honest: remember that for example Lorde’s Royals has staggering 500 million hits on youtube and the style here is very, very similar. I don’t really understand the whole concept of left field, but whatever it means, Conchita was probably more of… this thing. Even if this is a tad alternative, it is only about the instrumental background. The construction of the song is very much popular music and chorus is powerful, memorable and straightforward. It’s a tightly knit song with no weak spots. It is the kind of song that will benefit from being in the semi-final (unlike two of the three favorites, who are automatic qualifiers). If it goes well, it will gather some momentum. After watching Loïc Nottet sing it live in the studio, I’m certain it will sound a lot better than it does in the music video version. He can add some punch and soul to the second verse and last two choruses. It’s also worth mentioning that just like with Conchita, the music video doesn’t sell the song at all. It’s more of a distraction and almost provocative.

    About the singer. I’ve listened to his Voice of Belgium performances from last fall and he is obviously a huge talent, and importantly, he’s getting better all the time. I’m not a huge fan of his Sia covers Chandelier and Elastic Heart because he sings them just too high, same applies to many Voice performances. He certainly can do that, his range is amazing, but it sounds like he has to push and thus it doesn’t sound that good. In the middle register he is much better and his voice is more beautiful and detailed. He also has more room to maneuver like he does in the live studio version, especially the second verse sounds great. This song suits him very well and he is bound to wow the audience and the jury alike. I think he is great looking guy with natural charisma. He is someone you just want to watch. I’m thirty something straight family man and I really like him. He will most likely appeal to younger female audience. If there is a group of people who will give multiple votes, it’s teenage girls. He should also be well liked among sexual minorities (don’t ask why, I won’t tell).

    The show:

    This is still absolute mystery and it will make it or break it. Let’s hope Belgium and Loïc Nottet’s record company, which happens to be Sony, puts a real effort this year to the visual package. Song and singer is there, now we just need a show to suit the song, look great on television and also emphasize the song. This last point is very important. When you look at the music video and the chorus hits, there is no real connection between the two and for this reason the emotional effect is really quite weak. When the lights and pyros or whatever works with the song and not against it, I believe there will be goosebumps around the Europe. I’m just hoping that when this great looking guy starts to sing “Listen to the sound of thunder…” with that beautiful, colorful and clear voice, people will take notice. When we see it on TV, we’ll know. Before that we can only estimate where the potential lies. For me, it’s Belgium.

  8. http://www.eurovision.tv/page/news?id=132333

    Juries for each country.

    Massive leaning to people in their 30s and 40s.

    • 119 Jurors Aged 40+
      81 Jurors Aged 30-40
      37 Jurors Aged 30-

      If this was a Sweden v Italy contest, I’d say advantage Italy.

      • This isn’t new…the juries have always tended to be older rather than younger. What is new, however, is the inclusion of “hit potential” in the voting criteria, and the removal of “vocal capacity”. Doesn’t sound particularly favourable to Italy, if you ask me.

        • But equally, it’s not unfavourable. Grande Amore is already multi platinum and continues to build on its 22 million YouTube hits.

          So to be clear, I see nothing positive or negative for any song.

          • Agree with Gav.

          • Last year’s song from Poland had been very successful before the contest as well. And this was not really reflected in the jury score. It’s true that the Italian song is more jury friendly and last year’s criteria might have been different, but I don’t think the average jury member is aware of the number of records sold or the views on YouTube.

        • The article has been been edited. Vocal capacity is back in.

          Each jury member is asked to evaluate the vocal capacity, the performance on stage, the composition and originality of the song and the overall impression by the act, and rank all entries, except their own country’s contribution, in order. Each jury member should vote independently from the others.

  9. Sorry guys but I have to disagree. The older you get the more discerning you become. At the end of the day ‘Heroes’ is just a bubblegum pop song with an amazing stageshow and I think the jury should see through it.

    • 40 ish is the average age in the majority of juries. I really don’t see anything out of the ordinary here. When you analyse some of the individual jurors and look at their work history and musical interests, even some of the 50 year olds like a good rock track or a bit of Christine Aguilera.

      Have you researched the average ages of previous juries? I think you’ll find they were 40+ too.

      • I’m aware that the average age of a jury member was 40 years in 2014, I didn’t however examine the number of which were 40+.

        2012 is actually a good example of how a jury destroyed an entry:

        Combined Televote Jury
        Place Points Place Points Place Points
        Sweden 1 372 1 343 1 296
        Russia 2 259 2 332 11 94

        We can see from this Loreen was only marginally ahead of The Grannies in the televote but the juries punished what was essentially a novelty act.

        In short I think that the jurors this year will be more predisposed to II Volo than what many think. Time will tell.

        • Then as you hint above, it has less to do with age and more to do with music and song quality.

          I think in terms of ‘composition’ and ‘hit potential’ Italy should be regarded as a front runner alongside Australia and Sweden. However, I think Italy has the more jury friendly and impactful song that should see them match and even beat their 2011 points haul.

    • plenty of 40 year olds bought stock aitkin and waterman records. and look at Simon Cowell’s taste.

      • Simon Cowell’s “taste” is what he believes will sell him records internationally. Model looks (male and female) and youth usually come before vocal ability and experience. His actual taste is the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. He isn’t much of a music fan, despite what he does and because doesn’t enjoy live concerts etc., he doesn’t go to any.

  10. Though I agree Donal, they didnt see through a dated Bond ballad and instead got swept up in the narrative. Putting too much faith in the juries can be a dangerous game.

    • They also ranked the Russian grannies 11th in the finals, well above average – enough said about juries and their supposed ability to withstand gimmicks. At the end of the day, they’re human like the rest of us. Also: they have explicit instructions to judge the whole act and not just the song, so trying to “see through” a slick show would be failing their task.

  11. Well, Conchita won because she created a very touching moment, especially the last minute blew me and many others away. We could go on and on about what is the role of the narrative in being so moving to many Europeans and would get nowhere. We simply cannot put a performance like that to pieces: the fact that she is a bearded lady was part of the whole. Other parts were strong song, great vocals and superb visual package. Personally I think it handsomely deserved to win and as a juror I would’ve handed it the maximum points without any hesitation.

    • Agreed only the Netherlands came close in delivery and presentation, which was reflected in the result. If the Italians just stand there and sing they will be dead meat no matter how well they sing it.

      • I disagree that the Italians will be dead meat if they just stand there and sing. Their Sanremo performance was just that. Italy’s USP is the song and the boys. The cherry on the top will be interesting camera angles and how they are each brought to the fore during their solo elements.

  12. Actually, standing and singing is exactly what Austria and Netherlands were doing last year. 😀

    Yeah, I know what you mean. If the performance is static in TV, they will be in trouble. Camerawork is everything nowadays. I have no idea how Netherlands looked last year to the audience, probably not great. But it was very captivating on TV and that’s what counts.

  13. Johnny, I agree with both yours and Gav’s points, but we just don’t know yet in regards to how presentation will go with this. the Italians haven’t been massively impressive on that score except for their first year back (the piano guy). There needs to be some drama generated for this to succeed. Pretty boys and good singing will not win eurovision on its own.

    I’ve played all the frontrunners to people with no knowledge of the betting situation and they have all put Sweden ahead. All of them admitted it was the package as a whole that had swayed their decision. I dislike this result because I think the Swedish entry is horribly calculated – i’d like to see the Italian entry nail it but I’m not convinced yet!

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