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Podcast: Eurovision 2016 Part 1

ESCtips’ Gavster, freelance broadcaster Tobias Larsson and Rob Furber from Entertainmentodds.com combine their vast experience and share their expert opinions on the first half of semi final 1.

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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. Great Podcast guys.Im 100% with Rob on Armenia.Its not the usual sort of winner and it could easily fail badly.However i think it has the potential to be better than anything last year and this.I actually think its a potential masterpiece due to the outstanding melody and power.As everyone said though i do agree staging is everything for it if they are to set the song off right.On value i think anything over 20s ew is strong value as is the 10s/11s you can pick up for the semi win.There is a valid argument that the televote 12s will go to Russia from the block (and the -12 from Azer handicap),but i think Armenia might pull that back with the juries and the western countries.A lot of that could come down to if the Czechs help to highlight how dated Russia is.I have Armenia my biggest green followed by Sweden at this stage.

    • Durham what does minus 12 from Azer handicap mean?

      • Due to the conflict between the two countries, it is very likely that Armenia will get zero points from Azerbaijan.

      • I would assume it’s a reference to Azerbaijan never giving any points to Armenia however good their song is, which leaves Armenia with 12 less possible points to draw on.

      • Yes Henry,the fact Azer will give 12 in the televote to Russia and zero to Armenia.The jury might not be as bad but again a zero to Armenia probably.The EBU of course never question this.

      • OK thanks, yes it’s a given that they’ll get zero from Azer. But they still benefit from the block.

        I agree with you and the podcast guys about its great potential.

    • A highly enjoyable and thought provoking 45 minutes – thanks guys. I’d like to pick up on Armenia too. Tobias, you talk about it being a bit pretentious. There’s a fine line between pretentious and genius as we saw last year with Belgium. Are there any other songs that you think have suffered from being pretentious in the past? Gav, I think there is a fine line between aggressive and passionate. What makes you think that a close up of her during the shouty bits of her will be a negative? This is about a woman who has been in the emotional wilderness, whose life has been transformed by this incredible intense relationship. To me its actually an emotional and moving song, I want to be seeing her face when she is letting all these emotions flood out, as long as her face doesn’t scrunch up into an ugly ball, but from what I could see from Moscow she can hit these notes without this happening.

    • I’ve not been able to listen to the podcast yet, but in terms of Armenia, I’m surprised nobody yet has mentioned Iveta’s very poor diction. I find it almost impossible to decipher what she’s singing about in the chorus. I can’t be alone in this? Also, it’s very difficult to remember after one listen in terms of being able to hum or sing along. It will probably get a good result due to diaspora + jury-friendliness, but I’m convinced it has very little chance of winning.

      • The diction is a fair point, I didn’t have a clue what she was singing about until they released the official lyrics video. Does that matter? I don’t know. How many people with English as a second language would have made any sense of Rise like a Phoenix? You’d have to be fluent to stand a chance.

        As for your other point, yes, successful songs in the past generally have a memorable hook, but how many outstanding songs can you think of which have fallen down because they don’t have one? I’m not sure there is anything like this to compare with.

      • I agree with that Tim its a good point.The lyrics are actually very strong and do contain hooks, but you miss them due to the diction until you have the lyric video in front of you.Its something to keep a close eye on during rehearsals on the feed.There is a big case for the backing singers to be higher in the mix to help with that.The reason im strongly green on it though is price compared to potential.It might flop,but its one of a very small bunch who might win the jury for me.I want it well onside before rehearsals.When it was trading at 30s+ and 10s+ for the semi i thought thats strong value.I think its a big challenger to Sweden,but as Gav says the east is looking strong they might suffer a bigger vote split than Sweden who for me will probably walk the west,unless we get a standout during rehearsals.

  2. A very good listen.
    From this half of the draw, I feel the first three entries are nailed on nqs.
    Hungary is a hard one and on similar ground to Estonia in the second half which doesn’t help – I think they’ll just edge through.
    Croatia look a little vulnerable and I’d give this a 50/50 shot to qualify, may be worth opposing.
    Netherlands- I don’t rate this one. It’s a nice song, well performed and well sung, but I do think it will be forgotten relatively early on. Borderline out.

    Armenia – fantastic running order slot and certain qualifier. Very likely top 3 too. It is all on the staging but done right has great potential. If Russia don’t win this semi, Armenia will.

    San Marino – I don’t think it will get enough on the televote to push it through (though I’d love it if it did) but I similarly can’t see it coming last in the semi.

    Russia – Do not have the semi wrapped up by any means. In terms of staging they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Dance routine and giant prop isn’t going to push this up jury scorecards. But neither is any staging that ‘copys’ mans. A juror acting independently should have five or six songs at least ahead of this.That said, top 3 in the semi is beyond doubt, but I still feel this will be beaten -at least by one country in the final.

  3. Hungary and Croatia are both powerful enough to qualify with ease. Hungary may be a slightly difficult listen and struggles to get its melodic hook across effectively, I certainly agree with that much. One key thing I think the podcast failed to mention is Freddie’s good looks which will surely get some votes. His lack of diction doesn’t bother me too much. There’s enough impact and sense of earnest effort in the entry to put this through fairly comfortably. Once in the final though I agree that it will finish on the right hand side of the scoreboard.

    Croatia is going to have to be seriously undercooked and messy on stage to miss out on qualification. If we were ever considering Croatia as a potential winner this year, (I’m going mad if it was just me,) then to be discussing non-qualification now, just because of Serbian TV, then it’s not just the market that’s overreacting. I’m not expecting HRT to create anything particularly special in rehearsals and it’s that factor alone which has made me go off the idea of Croatia contending for the win, but it remains one of my favourites this year to listen to.

    I am quite sure we will see blonde Nina in her usual choice of black bohemian sort of gothic clothing on stage. She doesn’t have an aggressiveness issue, it’s just as Rob said, that her image doesn’t quite go with the song, but I don’t feel that it’s a nasty clash either. It may be a case of splitting the difference and I can see Croatia ending up perhaps just outside the top 10. It’s too good to be 15th or lower for me.

    • I did hint at looks, but instead mentioned male artists: Netherlands, Russia and Cyprus as competition. After those three acts, I don’t think Freddie’s looks are important.

      Never had Croatia as a winner here. Backed 100+ and laid to max red ave 20.0 odds.

      If both qualify with ease, what are you losing from the second half? Estonia/Azer?

      • You all have beautiful, cute voices :-D! You too Gavster.

        Anyway, back to the 1st semi-final. I think/fear it’s one of the most competitive semi finals since the introduction of the 2-semi-final-system in 2008.

        And I have to say that the SVT-running order lacks a certain variation in the 1st half of the show. Whereas in semi final 2 the SVT didn’t have any problem in giving Latvia a 1st slot, I’m a bit agitated that SVT wasn’t ‘ballsy’ to do something similar with Russia or Armenia.

        Whatever you might think of these two entries: They are incredibly strong and should not have any problem to qualify from whatever starting slot. Still, both entries got a late draw in the 1st half of the show.

        The result now is this: The first 6 entries feel a bit….low-key and lackluster. It’s like the show really kicks in with Armenia. And I fear this is a problem for all first 6 entries, including Netherlands and Greece.

        Having said all this, I mostly agree with the remarks from the podcast. It makes things much clearer for me. Combined with my comments, I’d say this would be my matrix of qualification chances:

        000%, FINLAND: Sorry, no charisma. Old-fashioned. And in a way comparable to Finland 2002, which even at that time couldn’t manage to do well.
        000%, GREECE: First time the country won’t qualify from a semi final. It’s a lackluster entry that IMO can’t be helped by exquisite staging.
        000%, MOLDOVA: So all Eastern-European countries are supported by voting blocs? Such nonsense. Moldova is the ‘UK’ from the East…success-wise. And this year is no different.
        010%, HUNGARY: Over-hyped entry. I never understood the appeal of this song. It’s slow and Freddie sounds like he’s moaning all the time.
        035%, CROATIA: Finally the first nice entry, but mainly because of the song and good vocals. I don’t ‘get’ Nina though. And staging-wise this won’t be a ‘Denmark 2013’.
        050%, THE NETHERLANDS: And the start of the show now gets even better! Douwe is charismatic. The song is the first feel-good song of the evening. Still not as strikingly ‘nuanced and small’ as TCL.
        100%, ARMENIA: Original, unique song, with an intro that already gives away one hell of a staging concept.
        000%, SAN MARINO: Also small countries should be allowed to participate, but only if the EBU consistently lowers the entrance fees. Being dependent on artists who buy themselves into the contest is bad for the competition.
        100%, RUSSIA: The Russian ‘Sakis’ enters the stage. Will be a televote magnet, though I can’t see it winning. Not if the staging doesn’t include some of the augmented reality from the videoclip.
        100%, CZECH REPUBLIC: Great change of atmosphere after Russia. The most pure, stylish ballad of the contest together with Serbia. New HoD and he’ll be helpful as well.
        100%, CYPRUS:
        Staging director from Loreen will be assisting with this entry. Another unavoidable entry in its genre. Therefore unique enough to qualify.
        100%, AUSTRIA:
        Also Austria is mastering the art of staging. Very ‘pink sugarpop’, BUT it’s the best ‘pink sugarpop’ on offer in this contest. Zoe is a great singer and oozes charisma.
        100%, ESTONIA:
        And again, also Estonia knows how to master the art of staging. Hugely underestimated, as the lighting, LED-visuals and camera-work was top notch. Visually as brooding as Bond main titles.
        100%, AZERBAIJAN:
        Completely underestimated entry. Song-wise this is the best entry from the Azeri since 2013. Vocals are being discussed out of proportion. This will be staged perfectly.
        000%, MONTENEGRO: After 6 entries in a row that will qualify, we have arrived at another non-qualifier. Won’t be understood by both televoters and juries.
        050%, ICELAND: Actually, this is lovely staged. But there in lies the problem. There’s a disconnect between the staging concept and the less accessible, average song.
        035%, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: If Montenegro can’t qualify, then every Balkan nation shares a similar fate if their song isn’t good enough. The Balkan bloc voting is overestimated. Deen isn’t nice to look at either.
        100%, MALTA: And the show ends with Malta. Pimp slot here, Ira Losco is a great charismatic stage performer (proven record 2002). It won’t win the contest, as the song is ‘too difficult’. But TOP 10 could be possible.

        Short summary of my qualifiers from best chance to worst chance:

        100%, ARMENIA
        100%, RUSSIA
        100%, CZECH REPUBLIC
        100%, AZERBAIJAN
        100%, ESTONIA
        100%, MALTA
        100%, CYPRUS
        100%, AUSTRIA

        borderline qualifiers:
        050%, THE NETHERLANDS
        050%, ICELAND
        035%, CROATIA

        almost no chance:
        010%, HUNGARY
        000%, FINLAND
        000%, GREECE
        000%, MOLDOVA
        000%, SAN MARINO
        000%, MONTENEGRO

        • Austria couldn’t be more of a fanwank if they tried, no chance it’s qualifying

          • A ‘fanwank’ can only be labeled as a ‘fanwank’ if the status of this ‘fanwank’ has become reality. The very meaning of the word means that it’s a pre-contest fan-favourite, that in the end doesn’t score well.

            For Austria we yet have to see that. Hungary 2011, Belgium 2006 and Sweden 2008 are monumental ‘fan wanks’. And in the end they didn’t do well. And I can understand why they didn’t do well.

            But compared to these examples Austria has a big advantage: A much better singer (vocally and charisma-wise) and a staging concept that is actually very fitting to the nature of the song (treadmill, full-frontal camera-work, dry ice, Alice-in-Wonderland-esque visuals).

            For me Austria is a qualifier and the entry differentiates in a positive way from the country preceding it and following it.

          • I copied this from the Oxford English Dictionary. It might be of some help:

            1 A song entered in French for the Eurovision Song contest eg France 2016, and especially a chanson eg Austria 2016. These songs subconsciously remind fans of the origins of the contest. Fans who, even if they were not then alive, will have heard many of the songs.
            2 …

            One who engages in fanwanking eg Songfestivalwerk. Fanwankers are usually unaware of their condition thus making treatment difficult.

          • Comment of the year so far.

          • First of all, I want to express that I am a big fan of this site and that I find most of its content very well thought out and interesting for punters and Eurovision fans in general.

            On the other hand, just how many condescending and rude comments regarding Austria’s song and its supporters (called “fanwank” and “fanwankers”, respectively) are there on this section? It’s perfectly ok to disagree, but I’m pretty sure there are better ways to do so!

            Fortunately, at least for me, Austria qualified et on chante et on danse et on rit because we will be seeing Zoë again at the Ericsson Globe on Saturday night!

            Cheers to all!

        • Estonia and especially Austria certain qualifiers? Woudn’t bet on that

      • @Gav Possibly Azerbaijan, yes. Nothing kills your score like murdering the vocal, but the delegation might make good use of backing singers. Only because Azerbaijan only just scraped through last year with a song that should easily have gone through do I have my doubts. It’s tricky though. I think Hungary is definitely strong and respectable enough as a song to qualify, but if it’s messy in rehearsals then I’ll happily change my stance.

        @Gert Please stop saying Austria are going to qualify. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  4. I totally agree with Tobias’ comments about Freddie’s diction. From what I’ve noticed, it’s only native English speakers who are bothered by his poor enunciation. People who speak English as a second or other language are used to not always understanding English song lyrics, so the emotion of Freddie’s performance is what’s selling it for them. And it also helps that a lot of people find him very attractive.

  5. From the first 6 entries in this semi-final I’m wondering which one is the most genuinely uplifting, ‘feel-gold’s one.

  6. I’m with Rob re the fact about Sergei’s excellent live vocal. The guy can sing and perform at the same time, while Sakis/Saade couldn’t so that jury comparison that many do is a bit misleading.

  7. OK here are my thoughts:

    Finland – Sorry Tobias but you guys are chanceless. Songs that win the NF thanks to the jury tend to bomb in Eurovision, just look at Anti Social Media last year amongst others in recent years.

    Greece – I’m too scared to say that this is a definite NQ, because Greece have a habit of qualifying comfortably with songs that the fans dismissed like 2011 and 2015. But this is definitely testing the waters.

    Moldova – Uptempo schlager put on super early = hopeless.

    Hungary – Should qualify unless we get a freak result. 8-10 sounds fair enough.

    Croatia – I agree with your points that the song is “too polite”, and her image doesn’t match the song, but I still think it’s got staging potential and they’ve got a few friends to count on.

    Netherlands – I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this wins the jury vote in the semi if they stage it right. The guy is very charming and the song has a lot of authenticity which is what the juries tend to appreciate.

    Armenia – I agree it sounds like it was made for staging, however I think it’s far too difficult of a first listen to inflict too much damage in the final.

    San Marino – TROLOLOLO. As much as I find this hilarious as a guilty pleasure this is going nowhere. It won’t come last though, thanks to some convenient friends in this semi…

    Russia – I agree it’s not a winner, easy final top 5 thanks to his star power in the East, but still… In a Eurovision context it’s rather dated, and I can’t wait to see what giant stupid prop Fokas has come up with this time.

  8. Cheers guys!

    The point Tobias made about the quality of this year’s batch is something i’d been mulling over too. There are songs this year that I’m more than happy to listen to on repeat, many of which like he alluded to have a commercial, trendy, radio friendly vibe. Although the pack does lack diversity which inevitably is bringing everything closer together, stylistically there’s not a lot to separate the contenders from each other if ‘radio-friendly’ is the name of the game.

    I agree with most of the other assessments. Russia need to pull something out of the Fokas bag of tricks to win over audiences, but even then juries could easily be left less than impressed with the package. The Netherlands look to be a surprise package in waiting. Eurovision like we know already is very much a personality contest, and that is why Douwe can connect with people. He’s a perfect blend of professionalism, character and substance, and what I can admire in him is that he’s clearly not altered his style so as pander for votes either. It’s that kind of authenticity that people want in a performer at the end of it all.

  9. I don’t get why you guys even think that Hungary will miss out. Televote will easily take Freddie to the final.

    Also, it’s hard to imagine a final without Greece. A strong staging impression can save that song and leave fans in shock.

  10. Let’s see if that Oxford Dictionary proves itself worthy upcoming May 😉

  11. Gav’s comments about fierce female visuals with Armenia is an anxiety I also have about Sanja and Serbia……Serbia 2007 was fairly “intense” and “facial” at times, but this kind of look with lots of muscular contortions does not traditionally score lots of points…..

    • Me too Mark,Serbia is another that could go both ways.Sanja is a fantastic singer and a possible top 4 for me and backed for that,but she seems to be very in your face in every preview show so far.The delegation should make the package much more polished,but it is a concern.The movements are supposed to represent a woman being hit by an abusive partner,but i dont think thats a good idea.She needs to be more vulnerable to pull in the televotes.Rehearsals days chatroom will be the place to be this year.

      • I did a “blind” audition with a few folk the others night…did not tell them what it was, nor show them the clip: audio only. They loved it….two of the five spoke about echoes of Amy Winehouse. Then I showed them the Youtube clip…a real downer. Do you think anyone in the Serbian camp is listening, doing any market research? Because they have a really good song….that may yet go to waste.

        • The Serbian act will be choreographed by the same person who did Joksimović (in 2012) and the last two Montenegrin entries. I think that makes it pretty clear what to expect.

          • It will be interesting to see the staging as this time they lose two slots to backing singers.I think we will be looking at one or two violins,a flute,and if only one violin a piano for the intro.Looking at the stage we are getting Serbia are lucky that they are less reliant on the stage itself.

          • Nope, it’s just four backing singers. So it’ll be more in the lines of Knez than Željko.

        • I was the same, I watched it on the YouTube preview video and I was unimpressed to the extent where I thought I didn’t like it, then I listened to the album and realised its amazing. I’m not worried tbh, when it comes to ballads Serbia know what there doing. If it was Moje 3 again I’d be concerned though.

  12. I have a feeling Douwe will do an “Il Volo” and do surprisingly well with the televote and poorly with the juries. Still an easy 4-7 qualifier though.

  13. Oh, and another great podcast, but I miss Andy here.

  14. Hey Gav, when will you be posting the betting preview articles for the semi-finals? I wouldn’t blame you for taking your time either if that is the case. It’s brain-cruncher of a year to predict.

    • I’ve struggled for time this week, but I’m also holding back until more bookies come onboard. I might publish semi 1 preview after the next podcast.

  15. Gav, what’s your view on Amir’s continuous shortening, are you still able to sleep well 🙂 ?

    For the record, I didn’t back or lay it, just normal red like many others.

  16. £700 available to lay for Top 5, fill yer boots 😉

    • Thanks, but I’ll wait. By virtue of France being just over 5/1 (6.0) on the outright, the top-4 price should be around 3/5 (1.6). Therefore, top-5 value should be even lower. I don’t think we’ll get to that point, but I might be a layer in the 1.7-1.8 range.

      • No idea how you’ve worked that out? If he’s a 5/1 chance in the OR then his top 4 price would be 1/4 of that =2.25

        • A quarter of six can’t be 2.25.

          So France are roughly 6.0s on outright. Each way would be 1/4 odds, which equals 1.5.

          A straight top-4 bet would obviously be higher, but shouldn’t be the 2.2 it is now. If France are 6.0 on outright, top-4 should be odds on by now. Top-5 last price matched was 1.8, so that price is moving to where it should be.

          • There is probably a confusion here between fractional and decimal odds.

            With fractional odds:
            5/1 e/w at 1/4 odds = 1.25/1 for e/w part (which equals 2.25 in decimal)

            With decimal odds a unit stake is included in the shown odds, so this must first be subtracted and then added back after dividing by the place terms.
            (6.0 – 1) / 4 + 1 = 2.25

          • So with this logic what would Russia return as ew bet? 😮

          • Thanks for clearing that up Boki, though even that differs to what I’ve seen on two bookie websites.

            Even so, returning to my original point, I would want under evens to lay France for top 4. If someone wants to offer around 1.7-1.8 closer to the time, I would be happy to take it.

        • Meant to ask Gav. So please tell me russia ew odds . Surely It cant be below 1, can it? There seems to be a flaw in your logic :-/

  17. Seeing as he was 3rd in The Voice,listening to this vocal there must of only been 3 entries.No range at all and its exposed here.That last 40 seconds of the song is going to be out of reach i think.


  18. That doesn’t answer it tbh. That’s the extended version from weeks ago and the girls are obviously just there to look pretty, i doubt they’ve ever sang a note in their lives. With a few professional backing singers I see no problem what so ever. The finished package will be tailored to what they know he can achieve vocally without too much trouble. It’s a remarkably upbeat song, sung by a remarkably charismatic singer, I’m surprised it’s not shorter in the market tbh

  19. I’m struggling to find an act to beat him.
    Sergey is a decent singer but it’s such a dated song i’m embarrassed for him.

    Frans is like a petulant child who gives off too many negative vibes. He acts as though he doesn’t want to be there and he’s certainly not enjoying it.

    Justs can’t decide if he’s Danny Zuko or the Fonz, and sounds like some sort of tribute act from the ‘New Romantics’ era.

    Most of the female acts cancel each other out in many respects. There’s just too many of them and no one stands out, possibly at a push i’d say Poli, decent vocals and a decent song.Maybe with decent staging 1 of them can emerge from the pack but it would need something special.

    I’m afraid the early layers of France have a month of sleepless nights ahead of them. They can try to convince themselves otherwise but his price is only going in 1 direction and if the ‘Amazing’ Russian staging doesn’t materialise I can see him being odds on or at the very least a short priced favourite come finals night.

    Vive la France 😉

    • Alright, so what if it turns out that actually the 100% live vocal performance is messy and doesn’t sound as good as the studio version, and the presentation is all over the place?

      • Well you can say that about any of the acts. There’s no reason to believe his live vocals won’t be good, he’s done 3 Esc concerts and his 1 tonight in London sounded the best yet. It really is a remarkably simple song to get right with a few decent backing singers and I’m sure the French, knowing they have a decent shot at it, will have it all in hand.

        What makes you think the presentation will be all over the place?

        It’s a simple song, which requires simple staging,

        Amir is the big selling point and he’s a natural.

        • There’s plenty of reason to believe his vocals won’t be solid. He’s fine in the bridges and second verse where his vocal is loud, clear and in the middle range… but in the first verse and in any of the falsetto he always seems to falter somehow. I’m actually not sure we’ve heard him without any playback assistance thus far.

          In the performance on Youtube linked above, which you appear to have dismissed because it’s an old mix of the song, (so?) the staging is ill-conceived and messy, and lots of reports from the preview parties have said Amir’s vocal is not solid, pulling out of the high notes and going all over the shop towards the end.

          There’s also a track record to bear in mind. Last time France were “contenders” in 2011, they finished mid-table… and people were near-convinced Amaury would win all the way through rehearsals too.

          Honestly if you can’t find fault with the French act, you probably have fallen victim to confirmation bias. You didn’t answer my question, you just dismissed it by saying it could happen to anyone, (reminds me of Prime Minister’s Questions,) so I’ll ask again. What if France screw up?

          • Lol that you accuse me of confirmation bias 😉

            I’ve no idea where you’re reading these reports that Amir’s vocals are all over the place at the preview parties ?? The writers at Sofabet and Ent.odds and any other major site have all reported that the crowds love him and he’s storming it..

            You also seem fixated on this idea that he’s going to be performing with with a few dancers in tutu’s, he’s not. He said in an interview today that the stylist and choreographer that they used on the French tv preview are not the ones he’s using for Eurovision.

            To answer your question ‘What happens if France screw up?’ They won’t win.

            Placing bets in the hope that France screws up seems an odd way of going forward imo, but it’s your money i guess.

            I’ll spend it wisely 🙂

          • The other two sites have mentioned Amir’s vocal as I speak with them daily. There are weaknesses, but it’s not the main factor that concerns me.

            Good luck with your position and we’ll done if it works out for you. I have opposed so far, as I can’t see France topping either the jury or public vote and think it’s a Katie Wolf style OGAE fanwank. Time will tell.

            I do know France’s staging and can reveal that there won’t be dancers.

          • The vocal isnt my main concern.The fact the song is pretty poor fluff is my worry.I cant see it getting into the top 4 of the jury,or the televote.There are some very strong entries from big diaspora nations who’s songs are made for explosive staging to come.
            Im red France and have an open mind come rehearsals,but i dont even think its winning the big 5.Francesca might be able to take that yet.She was superb in London and if Sony have got her staging right the jury should be very strong.
            Wide open year and pre-rehearsals nobody has the answers,but iv been backing the likes of Armenia,Serbia,Azer,Cyprus,Sweden and Bulgaria on the outright.I see more value there pre-rehearsals.

    • All Amir needs to do is sing one song quite well. It doesn’t need to sound exactly like the studio version (most people won’t have heard it). It just needs to be a decent live performance.

      He’s struggled in recent performances with the fast part at the beginning of “J’ai cherché”, but surely this is something that can be smoothed over using layers of backing vocalists.

      The song has an absolutely killer chorus, so as long as the staging is good* (he’s said the tutu dancers aren’t coming to Stockholm) and gets his vocals sorted to a decent standard*, I can’t see why the song would do badly.

      * Neither of which should be taken for granted as happening, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t be hard to get this right.

  20. All I want this is year is Russia not to win Eurovision. The song is not worthy enough. For me the worthy songs to win are from Cyprus, Belgium, France, Australia and Sweden.

  21. Sorry to ask an annoying question. Regarding ‘laying’ with the Eurovision. Is the strategy to ‘lay’ early and hope the odds will shorten, or hope the odds stretch?

    For me I can only lay shorter odds (like on false favourites, say San Marino finishing last) as I think they won’t happen. So I lay at short odds as the liability is more appropriate for my low funds.

    What do people with more room to manoeuvre like to do?

  22. Great news folks, the ESC Tracker has finally been updated with this year’s songs! 😀


  23. Quick question – any concerns over Justs’ voice for rehearsals week? His song and performance sounds like it strains his vocal chords to me so my main worry is that he reaches semi/finals night less than 100% unless he really holds back in rehearsals.

    • I have no concerns Beanie, I think his gravelly lilt is natural, rather than forced. I’d more concerned about Armenia.

      • Yes for sure. That is my personal fav this year (although no backs as im never too enthusiastic about a song that doesnt follow the standard structure.)

        • It should be jury top-5 if last year’s staging crew manage to deliver. It’s a fully contracted crew, so they’ll have full autonomy of the stage systems. Sounds promising. Plus Justs is emoting the song much better.

          • Sorry, i was talking about Iveta. Have Justs a large green (and far fewer concerns about the reception of Heartbeat as long as he maintains the vocal through rehearsals.

          • Problem with Armenia is it’s a nothing song and Eastern bloc is highly contested. I was listening in the car the other day and it was much more clear to me that there’s nothing beyond that dramatic opening.

        • By the way, good to have you around, Beanie. Almost nostalgic.

          • I have to disagree Gav on Armenia being a nothing song.I think it has very strong lyrics and alongside Serbia the best produced this year.However that could be because i admire the risk they have taken with it.There is a problem with them projecting the song given her poor diction though and question marks over people getting it first listen because of the structure.The staging needs to blow people away probably.
            The east is very strong (i add Azer in as well),but i do think around the 30s area Armenia is worth having a decent green given for me its far superior to Aram who took 4th.As Beanie says though she might have to save her vocal through rehearsals for the main events.

          • Thanks Gav – been reading for the last 6 weeks so thought it was finally time to get round to contributing 🙂

  24. A french company (HK Corp) is in charge of the staging for France.
    I have a good feeling about this. Just look at their videos.

  25. Wow, you are so biased, the way your suck the swedish guy and kill the others favorites (France and Russia) is pathetic.
    I don”t know much abour Sergey but for Amir, his live are really good,far better than the past winners…..and to the guy , who, of course already see France staging, Amir say he will have male backsingers and dancers with him, so….

    • Not at all biased, Elissa, but welcome to the site. I noticed you are based in France?

    • And so ?? i’m biased ??? no, because my winner is Bulgaria, but the, your are your friends say too much wrong stuff, about Amir, and i correct them, since i cann see his interview in france.

      • That’s fair enough then, I always welcome people who are open enough to support and discuss other countries.

        However, I think we may have to agree to disagree on France. I will just post this video though, as it’s the only 100% live version with backing singers I’ve seen.


        • Yeah, that’s pretty far away to the studio version. Especially the “you” chorus, which is the hook of the song. It’s miles away from the studio version.

        • He stated thousand times that these girls won’t be at Stockholm. And the video is one month-old.
          Just wait for the rehearsals.

        • Hi Gav. I full respect you and i think your tips have made many people gain money! But your opinion about amir is total wrong. The guy is incredible charismatic. Is very good with public, with journalist, with fans, with other singers, etc..I have not seen such good pr from an artist since years. The video above has nothing to do with the video in the final. Do you believe the France delegation will not “fix” his vocals. Emily has worst voice and she won easily in 2013. I don’t say that Amir will be the winner but if it would not be , that will not cause of his voice. Please be more open minded. The winner “package” is a lot of things and vocals are not the main factor

          • I don’t deny he’s charismatic, but I don’t think he’s quite the full package. As I have previously written, I will be going to rehearsals with an open mind, but currently, France isn’t in my top-5 for the reasons widely published on here.

        • Gotta love Mrs. Side Eye at 1:31 in that video. Says it all really.

      • Yeah, take the first live he do two month, (it’s during the Dicaire Show, where the song was planned to be announced,), and now juge him on this version only. You are not so critics about the swedish guy and his horrible live in London.
        And come on, is not even sing the 3 min version!!! and it’s not 100% live, at some parts, he sing over the song.
        The staging of France will be made by HK corp and he will have male backing singers, (he say it on snapchat), but your already know all that, since you know the staging 😉
        We all understand your favorite is Sweden, is not a reason to spit so much over Russia and France, who, by the biggest coincidence, are the two favorite, and not only on betting.
        I don’t if my country will win, but i really sure he will do much better that what your believe.

  26. And here, Amir only real 100% live: (it’s on dailymotion)


  27. Elissa – great to see a new voice here. This is a betting site and we are only concerned with finding value to make the most money. Knowing the contributors here for many years, we have all learnt to put aside our personal music tastes in search of the elusive winner or the one with the best trading opportunities.

    I personally enjoy France but think its odds are way too skinny for the reasons Gav and many others have highlighted. Similarly Sweden’s current price is high and has room to contract as the song takes off commercially.

    Now if only my favourite Georgia would gain some traction 😉

    • Elissa, just to echo Matt’s carefully chosen words, this is a betting site and we do look at the contest in a much more brutal way. If you’re a fan of the song then maybe a fan blog is the best location to voice your support. However, if you want to engage in a betting debate, then feel free to continue the debate.

      This is my site, so naturally I publish my opinions for people to either accept or propose a counter argument. I don’t get everything right, but I do get most things right.

      • Of course. You can like the song or not. You can think it could win or not.
        But I just don’t know why you form your own opinion about the performance based on one-month-old-video. I just don’t get it.

        • Because they are biased over Sweden…so they use the “worst” performance of his closet opponent, but of course no word about the horrible live Frans do in London…no, because, you know, it’s the next world wide number 1….lol see, he is top 200 in country streaming are irrelevant.

          • I think you might want to reconsider your definition of “bias”: having an opinion on which entries are priced too high or low is not in itself a bias. That’s simply what gamblers do, in an attempt to earn money (and I should perhaps point out that in this respect, Gavster has a very decent track record).

            Now, getting super emotional when someone expresses a negative opinon on the entry sent by the country you happen to be from… yeah, that is a bias.

          • I suspect Elissa is a joker troll.

  28. This seems to have become a France bashing thread, mainly by the 20/1 plus layers. Congratulations if he loses you’ve landed a 1.05 winner 😉

    Any chance some of you can post some alternatives so we can debate the various merits of those. I’m seriously interested in who you think can beat the mighty Amir

  29. Sorry guys, I’m going to have to step in here to stop this and future threads descending into fan zones and places for overzealous bragging.

    So to be clear, if you wish to discuss the positive and negative elements of songs please join in. If you want to share a bet you’ve placed, please keep commenting. However, if you’re here to fervently proclaim your support for just one country, or wish to brag or belittle those with opposing opinions then please find somewhere else to post.

  30. ??????????????? ;-(

  31. The France thing is pretty simple. Amir has a nice smile and has shown himself to be a very nice guy. It’s a lovely song with a hook that really gets into your head. So much so that repeated listens make this song annoying, luckily one listen is all most people will get. I will be surprised if my aunt doesn’t text me during the final with a message that reads “youuououu!!!” But, I haven’t seen any live performances yet, regardless of the video’s age, that convince me Amir has what it takes to sell this in a 10,000+ capacity arena on live international prime time TV.

    In my opinion, it will need to be a meticulously well crafted piece of television with sharply planned and executed camera angles, lights and pyros creating impact at all the right times. They can’t be complacent and just go with the bog standard “circle around the singer with a manned steadicam” method. In other words, France need their own Pannecoucke. I feel quite comfortable expecting them to not present the song in a way that maximises its appeal, and that’s before we talk about Amir seeming to have trouble keeping up with the verses, not hitting the falsetto notes properly and not delivering a more powerful vocal towards the end like in the studio version. It’s a good effort from France but it’s not looking or sounding anything close to a winner.

  32. I’m not entirely sure what to make of all the France hype as of late. It just sounds like people are getting bored during the off season and are looking for something to get excited about before rehearsals. The jury rehearsal could turn out to be the stuff of nightmares for Amir.

    The value I reckon lies in Serbia. It’s remarkable really that a song of such quality can be matched outright on betfair @34+. It’s a beautifully composed number, with excellent build and a touch of ethno flair to it. I played Sanja’s Amsterdam performance to a couple of friends yesterday, and the response was very positive. I think once you strip back the twitchy, jerky stuff from the preview clip, it knocks down the initial brick wall of the aesthetic, to open up a much broader appreciation of the acoustic.

    My interpretation of the current price for Serbia is that it’s relative to punter hesitation. Similar to Conchita’s circumstance, there are presentational issues to address that could swing things either way, and nobody wants to jump the gun. The value is there though, and I currently have Serbia as one of my biggest greens.

  33. Long time lurker,1st time poster.

    Such a shame to see the group think on here this year regarding the chance of Amir & France,and especially disapointing to see anyone giving an opposite point of view hounded out.

    I respect everyone’s views and particularly appreciate someone who gives a forthright opinion,however in this instance the general consensus of France’s appeal looks to be unusually wide of the mark.

    It’s been stated earlier in this section about it being a betting site,and therefore opinions stated are purely value related.If that is indeed the case,then it appears that virtually everyone missed an opportunity to buy at 20+ after Gav’s initial review,and I believe the price drifted out to as far as 40.Currently trading at approx 5.2 that’s a huge missed opportunity.

    I can understand everyone still not rating Amir’s chances at ESC.However the fact remains that those who opposed at 20+ have made a huge trading mistake.

    My personal opinion is that France have produced an instantaneously appealing pop song with an engaging performer.The doubts regarding the vocals are valid to a degree,however it does seem that layers are looking for any angle to justify missing the boat.

    Holes can be picked in all of the leading contenders.Russia is a dated cheese fest with mind numbing lyrics,Sweden have a surly teenager with a spoken song and to be quite frank,the love for Latvia is truly baffling,it’s a poor song with a gruff voiced singer lacking in any charisma.I wouldn’t back it at any price.

    I wish everyone GL with their bets and urge contributors not to gang up on anyone offering a different opinion.Sites like this are fantastic for us enthusiasts and run for our entertainment by dedicated experts such as Gav,however that doesn’t mean that all contributors have to agree with everything he says.

    PS.Thankyou for the podcasts,a really enjoyable listen X .

    • Great first post, Ann. Welcome to the site. I am one of those who opposed France around 20s having backed 60+. I didn’t think France would shorten so much and wished I’d stayed on the train longer. Even so, I’m still quite happy with my reasoning and can sleep quite soundly.

      It’s fair to say Latvia was lacking at the national final, but I’m confident they’ll give Justs a fighting chance. It’s a contemporary song that will attract juries. The televote will depend on the staging, but I’m confident the staging team will create a great concept.

      Sweden is modern, simple and chartable. The spoken lyrics are a challenge, but like Justs, the authentic writing and honest delivery should earn plenty of love.

      I think I’ve said this a 100 times this week already, but it’s an open year. I’ve ruled out a few songs already, but I think the winner could come from deeper in the field.

    • Seriously though, argument on song strength aside – you do realize that there’s a pretty major difference in tone to what you call offering a “differing opinon”, and talking about how everyone is “sucking the Swedish guy”? The former is great; I think it’s the latter we can do without.

      (As for France I do think they can win, but I also think they’re far too short in the market.)

    • I have to agree with you on Latvia Ann,i dont like the song,and i also agree he has little charisma,however i have him green because other very good judges on here do rate him and its not a genre im a strong judge on.I actually backed France at 50/1 when the markets opened,i was talking to Pimp about early bets back then and they were France 51s,Italy 51s,Germany 19s ,Poland 51s.I actually sold Poland at 12s and 10s.
      I can also say,im sure he wont mind the night of the Polish final i was talking to Gav and we were laying Margaret heavily while everyone was hyping her.
      I have France red now not from laying it,but because i have started putting bigger money down and taking position on what i consider value.I dont consider France value,but i do respect the building hype and polls could be real in an open year.
      However its pretty obvious some very strong diaspora nations have songs designed for staging and we could/should see some move into contention during rehearsals.
      Its a tricky year,thats something everyone agrees on,but it will make the rehearsals day and chat room here the place to be,and everyones opinions valuable.

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