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Belgium: Blanche – City Lights

The Belgium song has just dropped and it's better than I expected from broadcaster, RTBF. They played to Blanche's strengths with City Lights and have given us a London Grammar/Lorde influenced track for Eurovision. The market has reacted quickly and installed Belgium as the second favourite, which is quite remarkable for an understated, alternative song that remains fairly constant throughout. I love it from a personal perspective, but it lacks the sort of build and explosive climax of a typical Eurovision contender, hence why I'm perplexed by the Betfair price. I have had to oppose Belgium at sub-8/1 for the simple…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal
Cohesiveness of Package

Brussels Grammar

It lacks the sort of build or explosive climax of a typical Eurovision contender.

User Rating: 4.21 ( 47 votes)

The Belgium song has just dropped and it’s better than I expected from broadcaster, RTBF. They played to Blanche’s strengths with City Lights and have given us a London Grammar/Lorde influenced track for Eurovision.

The market has reacted quickly and installed Belgium as the second favourite, which is quite remarkable for an understated, alternative song that remains fairly constant throughout. I love it from a personal perspective, but it lacks the sort of build and explosive climax of a typical Eurovision contender, hence why I’m perplexed by the Betfair price. I have had to oppose Belgium at sub-8/1 for the simple reason that Loic Nottet was 40/1 in 2015 with a much more dynamic song.

The videos that exist of Blanche, or Ellie Delvaux, which is her real name, show an inexperienced performer. OK, one doesn’t need to dance around to City Lights, but as with many Voice and X Factor alumni, there’s a lack of natural stage craft. And again, given a natural performer like Loic Nottet was 40/1 in 2015, why has Blanche gone second favourite in a Eurovision lineup packed with female ballads?

Blanche is in the right, western-leaning semi-final to stand out, but can she win the semi, thus ensuring she gets a favourable draw in the grand final? I can think of at least several songs with greater voting power that could end up ahead of her. I think Belgium’s hope is if they have a great stage show and confound everyone like the Common Linnets did in 2014. Only then will Belgium be worthy of today’s odds.

Shining bright, or on a road to nowhere?

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  1. 100% agree. Love it myself too, but I always try to picture this within in the contest and on a stage like Eurovision, and this type of song is just way too hard to perform live and stage as a winner I’d say.

  2. It’s very Goldfrapp, or Birdy meets Depeche Mode. Beneath it’s chilled style, it has the traditional structure of a 3 minute ESC entry, and while it does lack the explosive climax of a winner, that’s forgetting what The Common Linnets achieved. Given the right presentation, a gentle lift works too. If an explosive climax was the sole necessity, we’d have been to Yerevan instead of Vienna 2 years ago.

    As for comparisons with Loic, it’s just because the years are relative. His song came out when we already had Il Volo, Mans more or less on the way and Polina soon to follow, plus the surprise distraction of Australia. Belgium at that point had no reputation for doing so well either, so it was no surprise the market didn’t regard him.

    This year is different because it was almost starting to look like a Rybak runaway for Francesco and the market is simply keen to find a challenger. I haven’t seen any market favourite go below 3s on the exchange during NF season, but I’m willing to believe Emmelie de Forest might have in 2013?

    I sat in front of the odds as the chaos unfolded last night. A snippet showed up on a Belgian site, odds came in to 20, the full version then appeared on VK and within 15 minutes it was on YouTube and all the fansites had posted it and the odds came down to about 5.2, causing Italy to drift from 2.9ish to 3.85 again. The latter part was a relief, but I can see that the initial hype has worn off. It’s so interesting to see that visceral reaction to an unexpected style of song in real time numbers.

    • “If an explosive climax was the sole necessity, we’d have been to Yerevan instead of Vienna 2 years ago.” – Conchita’s song did have that build and explosive climax, albeit Aram’s was more literal.

      • Gav, I agree. Aram might well have won in 2014 if his song which began and built so impressively, had finally moved into another gear. Sadly, Aram never found top gear and I don’t think City Lights does either.

    • Also one thing I mentioned over on Sofabet, this song gives Blanche a lot of room for vocal freestyling. If you remember how much Dami Im elevated Sound of Silence as a song when she got to Stockholm, something similar could happen here. Not talking about powerhouse vocals, but not necessarily this dazed murmuring.

      • But the crux of my argument was that Belgium were very short 8/1 and are still short above 10s. She’s in a very difficult semi-final, and I were Christer, I would be prioritising Portugal and Australia in the running order. So Belgium will probably need to qualify from first, or somewhere in the middle. It’s a very short price given she needs to fight her way into the final.

  3. Like I’ve said on Twitter I do really like the song but 2nd in the odds after only a few hours of release is a bit much… I think Belgium have potential to do extremely well this year but until I see this live im not going to jump on the Brussels 2018 bandwagon just yet as let’s be honest, Ghost was also high in the odds last year and then Jamie perfmored it live and to say her chances crashed would be an understatement. That though is a very pessimistic example as I feel BEL 2017 is a superior song but it goes to show you that some songs are suited to the eurovision stage and some are just suited to the radio and this like GER 2016 could be that as despite really liking it I try to imagine this on an ESC stage while I can definitely see a top 10 I still think it’s lacking something to really WOW the audience and beat Italy. For the moment I’d say 8th-7th in the final but it could easily go up or down depending on her live performance.

  4. The best key for points at ESC is D- ,yes the saddest of all key’s has out scored every other key.Even last year Ukraine were in D-,and this is D- i think in the early build. That makes me take this entry very seriously.The song is likely going to be the most contemporary this year.That melody wont be bettered i doubt.The build is there as well,but its not in your face,its subtle.Thats the good news.
    The problem is going to be singing this live.Its very very difficult to sing this style in key.Blanche will have a massive job on her hands and i doubt she can sell it for the full 3 minutes as it is.The only singer iv ever really seen able to deliver that tone in key for a full song is Tanita Tikaram (Twist in my Sobriety is a good example).
    I think id be very tempted live for Blanche to lift things after the first chorus to a higher pitch to give her a better chance of selling it.The “lets put light into our eyes” section would be far better in higher key to give more impact.She could then drop back down after the short bridge into the repeating chorus refrain.The drop will give the impact.
    Iv got this green but wont be pushing it more than that at this stage as even if done to perfection it wouldnt get near Italy,but i do respect it very much,and its a superb entry again from Belgium.

  5. Songfestivalwerk!

    I love this entry. Another “Certainly TOP 10, but certainly NO TOP 3”-song :-). Like Belgium 2015, this has a similar artistic relevance, albeit a slightly less ‘in your face’ melody. Like many of Blanche’s predecessors in this category -France 2009, Germany 2011, Albania 2012, Netherlands 2013, Latvia 2015- I truly think Belgium could score a wonderful 7th place on the scoreboard :-). If it doesn’t win, this is a shoe-in for the Marcel Bezençon Awards. And with some luck (read: magnificent staging), this could go towards TOP 3 like Netherlands 2014 and Ukraine 2016. But my gut feeling tells me this can’t win. It’s a bit too ‘soft’ on first listen. Personally I love that, but Eurovision teelevoters are less sophisticated while they vote. They prefer a Yodel song.

  6. Official video is out: https://youtu.be/xbomdE81_mA. They seem to have a fairly clear visual concept going by that.

    She’s just been announced for the LDN Preview Party which is a sign that RTBF want to help her be a bit more stage ready given her age, so I’d expect a couple more preview party appearances next month. Thinking about it, given the questioning nature of the song, a less refined, more vulnerable performance would actually help compliment it a lot like with Portugal.

  7. I respect it’s chances of a win, but out of everything I have it 3rd or 4th so far, still with a few to go, which might push it out of the top 5. I don’t think it getting a poor draw in the semi should affect its chances, its a certain qualifier and there’s always a lot of good spots to give out in the final, even if it came third or so in its semi. Who from semi 2 deserves a good draw atm anyway? The one thing Italy has in its favour is that it can win from anywhere in the running order,
    Italy is not however an untouchable entry, it’s a Lena, and if it wins it wins because nothing else challenges it on the night.
    Realistically, I doubt Belgium will win, probably finish 4th-7th, but I have my doubts about every entry yet. This is the entry that can gather the momentum though on streams and downloads, and if it does it can make a push for a podium finish, and there’s no reason if things fall right for it that it can’t come first based on the songs at the moment.

    • I don’t think a song can win from 1-3 in a 26 song final these days.

      Considering that Björkman is now the producer, we should pay attention to SVT’s reaction to Italy on Inför as the panel essentially act as his mouthpiece, if the reaction is anything less than positive, then expect a bad draw for Italy if they draw first half.

      • I think 1st is a better slot than 2-6. Realistically though even if Bjorkman hates Italy, I don’t think they’d dare give a big 5 country high in the odds a terrible slot (unless Rai have a quiet word and say they don’t want to host). Probably looking at around 10-13 at worst. I doubt Italy’s chances more than most, but I accept its the least vulnerable to a first half draw.

      • What is “Inför”?

  8. As song after song disappoints and Italy remains the only serious candidate for a win, this song is a breath of fresh air. I understand all the reasons given as to why it’s unlikely to win, but I think it’s the first other song that actually could win. It would need all the things in its favour and the vocals to be decent live, but at first listen this stands out as an alternative winner to Italy.

    I was lucky enough to get on at 100-1 on Betfred, minutes before it plummeted to 10-1 (and lower) so am well happy, as can now lay at 5ish for a guaranteed profit. But am going to keep some on it as I would love it to win.

    I’ve read a lot about it being a terrible year but personally I think there’s loads of gems in there. Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Latvia, Estonia, France and others. Not a classic year but not a 2001 or 2002 as said elsewhere. I hope Serbia and Russia will also produce contenders so we can have a brilliant final.

  9. Ps. My teen kids absolutely love it after 1 hearing. I really hope she can sing live

  10. After only a few seconds of this I thought wow at last a challenger to Italy. As the song progressed I thought this is great. It’s modern, it’s credible, it’s so well produced and now for the explosive climax. Then (Nano-like) that explosive climax never came. Damn! Damn! Damn!

    For that reason I’ve got to agree with Gav that City Lights’ odds are way too short. There have been some comparisons to Love Injected but Aminata had a stellar vocal and stage presence (which we don’t know about Blanche yet) and above all what got Latvia 6th was the incredible staging (again we don’t know what Belgium will bring yet).

    Predictions of top 5 and top 10 may be based more on wishful thinking that everything will turn out right on the night vocal and staging wise than on any hard evidence to that effect.

    • More or less my thoughts, after the first few minutes I was super hyped and thought we might have another contender but then the instaments kick in and from then on the song never reaches those same heights.

  11. I love it. Could get Belgium a top 10, but I agree that it doesn’t have that rousing feeling of a winner.

  12. Blimey…. St Etienne eat you’re heart out…..

    Best song so far (almost certainly imho)? Is it bit too cool? I fear so.

  13. A live video is available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E_x3BVfzLE

    It’s not fair to judge on a very crap quality phone recording, but she seems to perform it fairly well. We’ll get a better picture in London in a couple of weeks, so let’s see…

    • Thanks for that Kylie,good find,it shows she has no chance of selling it live as things stand to the standard needed.My worry was that iv only really ever seen Tanita Tikaram be able to keep on key with that sort of pitch.That video confirms it.People laying below 10s can buy back when she is 20s+ if they want.They can do amazing things at ESC with good sound engineers,but Belgium might be asking too much here.

      • As I said, it’s not fair to judge on a crappy phone video

      • And there is the 20s+ i talked about.People must of seen in London that it takes a world class singer to sell this and Blanche cant.The staging will need to cover up the fact she has as much stage craft as a lizard,and the sound engineer will be earning his fee.Great song,but massive covering up needed.

  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Cznt6hMUYY Blanche’s perfomance from The Voice Belgium

    Gosh this looks awful. The dancers don’t really fit the performance and she looks awkward as ever. Vocal seem shaky aswell altho poor quality. I really hope for Belgium’s chances this is not the final concept.

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