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Eurovision 2017: PIGS Might Fly

In under a week’s time, Eurovision 2017 rehearsals will be underway in Kyiv and months of research will be tested as we see most nations’ staging for the first time. Previous assumptions will change, favourites might fall and underdogs could emerge. Eurovision is a marathon, not a sprint; and at this point, having the presence of mind to admit you’re on the wrong side of a bet is imperative; flexible betting positions are essential.

So what’s this about flying PIGS?

The PIGS are resurgent… well, at least Portugal, Italy and Greece are. The less said about Spain the better.

Let’s start with Portugal’s Salvador Sobral, who could be this year’s answer to the Common Linnets. His unconventional, understated visual performance melts hearts and resembles the idyllic, schmaltzy magic of Disney’s When You Wish Upon a Star mixed with the ever popular Bebel Gilberto.

Salvador has a natural, disarming charm and mesmerising stage presence that will connect with viewers and juries. The only question is how many will see the positives in his slightly awkward appearance and old fashioned, Portuguese jazz song? I think there’s a certain timeless quality to Amar Pelos Dois that will appeal to both sides of the vote, and as flagged up by Ewan in our first podcast, Salvador is travelling to Eurovision in ill health and will only perform at the jury rehearsals and live shows. This narrative could catch fire if highlighted by national commentators, which may see a swathe of sympathy votes go his way.

Portugal should be in the mix to win semi-final 1, but they face stiff competition from the likes of Armenia and Greece, who will no doubt boast high-concept staging and have regional voting blocs on their side. As long as Portugal finish top-3 in their semi, and draw a second half slot in the final, they should be in line for a favourable running order slot, which could see Portugal’s odds shorten further, provided the illness narrative takes hold and as long as Salvador continues to beguile the audience.

Francesco Gabbani has chosen his Daniele Allesandrini suit for Kyiv, but will Gerald the Gorilla be sporting a matching bowtie? There are lots of little intricacies in the Sanremo package that will help Italy bridge the language barrier to Eurovision viewers. The ‘olés’, ‘om’, ‘namaste’ and the arm waving dance are simple, effective Gangnam Style cues that viewers will relate to; the appearance of the gorilla is the icing on the cake, or rather the parmigiano on the spaghetti. Some opposing voices have argued that if it wasn’t for the gorilla, Italy wouldn’t be so favoured. That’s a bit like saying that if it wasn’t for Mans’ cartoon, Conchita’s beard or Rybak’s violin… and so on. There is a gorilla, it’s one hell of a visual gimmick and it completes what is an extremely strong package. People need to reconcile that fact.

On the subject of the gorilla, Gerald was spotted posing in front of a green screen some weeks ago, so the Italian team are fine-tuning their backdrop graphics. Will the gorilla appear on the backdrop for the first chorus alongside “the naked ape is dancing” lyric? If the Italian team are genuinely pushing for victory, one needs to look out for accompanying lyrics on the backdrop – they have to illustrate the olés and other cues mentioned above.

The weakness of Occidentali’s Karma is undoubtedly how the juries react to it, when typically they have tended to favour vocal-led songs in previous years. Last year they preferred Australia and Ukraine’s ballads. In 2015 Mans won the jury vote, but was followed by the powerful voices of Aminata and Gagarina. And in 2014, Conchita narrowly held off Sanna and the Common Linnets. Italy layers will be hoping Gabbani plays the role of France’s Amir, who finished 3rd with the juries in Stockholm, but even that might not be sufficient to quell what is currently expected to be a hefty televote. Even so, Occidentali’s Karma is far stronger in message, charisma and staging than Amir’s J’ai Cherchè, plus the talent pool is shallower compared to last year. And if vocals really are the be-all and end-all, how did Lena win with the juries in 2010 and Azerbaijan finish second in 2011? One has to judge the whole package. There are still several contenders left to play their hand, and it’s at this point when Italy’s favourite status will be tested.

Having suffered their first non-qualification in Stockholm, Greece internally selected local pop star, Demy, and brought together the Eurovision dream team trio of songwriter, Dimitris Kontopoulos, staging guru, Fokas Evangelinos, and vocal arranger/coach, Alex Panayi.

The Betfair outright was decisive in its rejection of This Is Love despite its resounding win on the national final televote and diaspora jury. Any song that galvanises the Greek diaspora is dangerous in the semi-finals. And any Greek song capable of challenging the top-3 in the semis is a top-10 lock. Given Kontopoulos songs have never failed to land a top-10, it’s rather strange to see Greece odds-against in that market. This Is Love might be dated, but so was You Are The Only One and Demy is far more reliable in the vocals department.

 

Greece’s position on the final televote in their ‘semi top-4’ years is as follows:

  • 2009 (This Is Our Night) – 5th
  • 2010 (OPA!) – 7th
  • 2011 (Watch My Dance) – 3rd
  • 2012 (Aphrodisiac) – 9th
  • 2013 (Alcohol Is Free) –  4th

Demi will be much stronger than Eleftheria Eleftheriou (2012) on the vocals, and with the lower quality on offer this year, it really is difficult to dismiss a top-10 finish when all the juries can do is dock some points for a slightly dated song; the staging and vocals will be first class. I suspect a Cascada-type price crash might occur during rehearsals when the fan press go mad for Fokas’ staging.

Outside of the PIGS, Armenia, Australia and Bulgaria are all capable of causing an upset and two of those nations benefit from Russia’s exit while also boasting the services of artistic director, Sacha Jean-Baptiste.

The first reaction of the Betfair market to a song is usually a good indicator of its chances, but in the case of Armenia, I feel there was an overreaction. Fly With Me isn’t your typical pop banger and nor does it follow many of Eurovision’s other conventions. However, the official video shows this entry boasts almost limitless potential, and with Sacha on board, Armenia are not only in contention to win semi-final 1, they could be dark horses to win the whole Contest, given the absence of Russia and the power of the scoring system introduced last year.

Armenia’s head of delegation, Gohar Gasparya, is one the shrewdest operators in Eurovision. She has delivered three bold songs over the last four years and it’s clear her aim is to win the Contest. OK, Gohar has relied on the same music producers, but it has yielded results; and with Sacha involved last year and again in Kyiv, Armenia should be more respected on the outright.

Artsvik’s song will be jury bait if it is staged as artistically as in the music video (take a look as these videos to see some hints). Sasha’s visual effects will add a modern edge to this theatrical song, but whereas Iveta and Aram MP3 lacked that voteable charm, Artsvik appears more western and relatable. There is top-4 televote and jury potential here.

Likewise, Bulgaria also boasts a song capable of scoring well on both sides of the vote, and again, it’s a song the market reacted negatively to, but then shortened as people realised how commercially relevant Beautiful Mess is.

Kristian Kostov has really clocked up the air miles having performed at every pre-concert event. What’s more, the Bulgarian PR machine has been working overtime since the song’s release. To the trained eye, it’s clear they mean business in Kyiv, and as mentioned above, they too have hired the expertise of Sacha Jean-Baptiste.

So why is the Bulgarian entry so fancied?

Well it’s a combination of factors, but the main reason is that Beautiful Mess is so chart worthy; it could have been written and performed by James Arthur. It has eastern instrumentation, yet it appeals to a much wider market. Moreover, Kristian possesses an exquisite vocal, and at just 17-years old, he knows how to work the stage and cameras better than many of his older rivals. Given some of the dramatic percussive elements and noticeable contrast between verse and chorus, Sasha has so many ingredients to work with. Having said that, Kristian’s acting ability is the strongest staging asset.

Voting wise, Russian born Kristian straddles two voting blocs. Armenia will likely dominate much of the eastern voting along with Azerbaijan, though to a lesser extent. However, Kristian’s Russian heritage is the trump card sure to be played by his PR team, and just like what happened last year with the Russian juror who filmed herself saying she would vote for Armenia because her husband was Armenian, that sort of sentiment is quite prevalent in the east and could be to Kristian’s benefit. The 17-year old should also command hefty balkan support, though Italy, Romania and Greece could chip away at some of that. It’s the combination of these factors, along with what is a jury-friendly song that makes Bulgaria an interesting prospect and potential backup to Italy.

The opposing argument would be that Kristian will not be able to resist chucking in a few vocal ad-libs and will mess up the jury rehearsal. However, the Bulgarian team has advised me that Kristian will be on his best behaviour, hence him remaining true to the studio version of the song in Amsterdam and Madrid.

Bulgaria should be winning semi-final 2 with a potential challenge from Romania and maybe Hungary taking 3rd. Provided they win the semi, Kristian will be guaranteed a favourable Grand Final slot in the producer decided running order.

As with Australia’s previous two songs, the market reacted negatively to Don’t Come Easy, which was performed live during the official unveiling. The initial view was that Isaiah’s song was a tad too safe and plods along, rather than grabbing one by the balls, which is what Dami Im’s Sound of Silence achieved last year after the Eurovision vocal mix was pimped-up. It’s likely Isaiah will receive a similar makeover, as the delegation will be more than aware of the song’s weaknesses. In terms of production and writing, it deserves to be at the sharp end of the scoreboard, yet despite the apparent Eurojury love, I can’t see Australia earning that level of support without a little more lift in vocal mix or some kick-ass staging. One other weakness for me is that the last 20-seconds drifts and undoes the impact of the middle-eight and climax.

Australia’s price drifted further on the back of their 3rd slot in the semi-1 running order, which will make them very reliant on jury support given other male competition in that semi. Isaiah is usually reliable, but a below par performance for the juries would make things very interesting. As highlighted in the first podcast, Australia doesn’t benefit from regional allies. If they can inject a bit more personality and passion into this somewhat leaden song, Australia’s price could shorten rapidly.

Should Italy somehow fail and our classy substitutes of Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria and Portugal all miss an open goal, can Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson sneak in from backstage and grab the trophy from under everyones’ noses? I Can’t Go On didn’t go favourite for the Melodifestivalen win until the jury points were presented. Robin was never considered a major threat. In fact, after the full song was released prior to Melfest heat 3, his price drifted for the win. Even after the staging was revealed, Robin’s price stayed high and only shortened in the build up to the final. When Robin won Melfest, Sweden’s Eurovision outright price shot out to 20/1 before shortening to 8/1 and settling between 10/1-12/1.

The song on its own is nothing special, but when combined with the typically slick Swedish staging, the performance does come alive. Robin sells the song incredibly well, even though it was rather sleazy looking at Melodifestivalen. He has new dancers and vocalists for Kyiv, so the objective will be to appear warmer and more relatable. I’m not one to endorse Eurovision polls, but it was interesting to see Sweden finish well behind other rivals on the Eurojury fanvote (televote simulation), which one would normally expect to favour Robin given the traditional pink influence and that Sweden’s staging as already been revealed. Might this be another warning? Don’t forget that Robin finished 3rd on the Melfest televote; and even though the vote was incredibly close, had it not been for the app, Robin would not have won.

Sweden gives us the polished and contemporary opening to semi-final 1, but as the running order progresses, Greece will present their Fokas-designed staging, Moldova’s #EpicSaxGuy will send Twitter into a frenzy, Armenia will deliver something quite artistic and Latvia will likely end with a dynamic light show. Once you add in the ballads, where does Robin come once the jury and televote scores are combined? My estimate is 3rd-4th, and if it’s the latter, Robin will be used as a bookend in the Grand Final running order.

A challenge could also come from Romania’s Yodel It; however, the jury vote should be well outside of the top-5, so the price will still be long even in-play – probably well beyond the current 50/1 as jury marks are revealed. Dihaj might surprise us for Azerbaijan and lose her ‘attack-bob’ haircut in favour of something more appealing to western televoters. Skeletons is a technically brilliant song, but is perhaps better suited to the car stereo than Eurovision. If Eurovision wants to go back to the 90s, maybe Finland’s dark, etherial Scandie-ballad will win hearts?

I could list more outsiders, but that would push the boundaries of reality – and the word count – way too far. But remember… the PIGS might fly.

Just a quick note on the photos of the various staging concepts leaking from Kyiv… Thank you to those posting the photos, but remember to exercise caution; these are just still-photos, and in some cases short snippets. The quality is poor and the full perspective and staging narrative isn’t conveyed. It’s best not take firm betting positions based on this information. All will be revealed next week!

ESCtips will be reporting live at Kyiv rehearsals from April 30th as well as publishing daily reviews. The betting chat room will be open throughout the Eurovision period, so make sure you join the lively debate. Also ensure you follow our twitter feed, as most live updates will be reported there.

If you don’t have accounts with all of the major bookmakers, get them before rehearsals start. You can sign up for accounts and get free bets here.

In the meantime, feel free to share your pre-rehearsal predictions in the comments section below.

About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

40 comments

  1. Portugal,Italy are the only 2 on the list that I can see winning with Sweden there to pick up the pieces I feel the others screw up.

  2. I also think Armenia has a far better chance than the market and polls would say.I lowered Italy right down because i simply had to take advantage of what look like big big prices.Artsvik is hugely talented and the team is second to none.The diaspora will give the televote a good base.She will also get big support from the Russian voters.She is almost certain to speak Russian in the intro video.If the juries are looking for something edgy and with perfect production values this is it.I fully understand the song might not work and thats fair enough,but i have them at 14s on a tissue not 40s.Layers are taking a huge risk laying quality like this at those prices.
    Portugal could have half of Europe crying into their lager cans.The delivery is world class.Simple as that.It has to be green.Ironic that the only other song at ESC who could make the podium in a Sanremo is Portugal.
    If Romania get a late slot in the final they might push to just outside the podium.The song is utter rubbish on paper,yet the way they sell it makes it ESC gold.
    Im also thinking Hungary might do very well.It depends how it comes across,but it has plenty of quality.Could fail in the semi or fly.
    The best couple of weeks of the year are ahead.A safe journey to Gav (and thanks for the usual hard work) and everyone else going to Ukraine,and looking forward to the shared knowledge in the chat room.

  3. Really incisive analysis, Gav, and I agree with most of it.

    Portugal and Armenia’s entries are quite difficult songs to get into on initial listens and I think this may hold them back big time with the non-diaspora televote, meaning in both cases top 5 may just be out of reach. If Portugal do get top 5 I believe, like you say, it will require an agenda to build up around Salvador’s health and him getting a big sympathy vote as a result.

    Sweden and Australia, on the other hand, have songs that although not as good, might have a broader appeal. In another year, I could see Robin coming outside the top 10 with this, but this year’s contest is crying out for a modern, slickly produced pop-number like Can’t Go On.

    Azerbaijan – technically good though it is, I don’t see it doing well at all as a contest song. If Dihaj doesn’t change her image this could be closer to bottom 5 than top 5.

    Useful pointers on Greece and Australia’s odds shortening at rehearsals by the way.

  4. Great pre-rehearsal analysis. Will be waiting for you feed from Kiev. Which rehearsal are you most exciting about Gav?

    I think the most exciting rehearsing-wise right now are Greece, Fyr Macedonia and maybe Serbia. They are the only ones who can pull out something good, giving that many countries remain in their national final form ( Italy, Sweden, Portugal etc ), for others we know more or less what to expect ( Romania, Armenia, Estonia etc ) and some surprises from other countries have leaked ( Azerbaijan will be using a mini room, while Switzerland will have Apollo’s head on the stage – lol ).

    • I should ban myself for even suggesting Croatia or San Marino, but they’re my guilty pleasures.

      I would love to see Finland raise the bar and really start playing themselves into contention for a solid result, but as the article suggests, I’m also eager to see what Fokas has up his sleeve for Greece.

      Everyone is looking for an alternative to Italy, so I guess any of those leading ballads are high on my list too.

      • For the (big) surprises I’d rather look to the more mordern acts that will likely get more jury support (so not Estonia or Greece imo)

        – Norway (if they can use the pre-recorded voices), might have a surprise in ’em for example. I mean, 10+ for top 10…?
        – Iceland has some (staging) potentional too, if they get rid of this style.
        – Croatia, super weird, but so unknown yet what to expect.
        – Austria, hard draw, but if they get the staging right, there’s a lot potentional for me.
        I mean. even UK, if they can creat this ‘moment’ they talk about. And a few more I just simply can’t rule out with high odds.

        I just think there’s a lot to be excited about for the rehearsals, there are a lot of songs with a lot of potentional for top 10 bets with 4+ odds.

  5. My doubts:

    Italy:
    The jury indeed. I really don’t know how to picture this doing on that side. Does it really have 50% chance of winning? I’m really not sure.

    Bulgaria:
    I know people will disagree, but I turned a bit on this one. After seeing all these videos of him, for me, he is a bit between Junior Eurovision and the ‘big’ Eurovision. In my eyes he doesnt have that much voting-appeal as people are claiming. He doesn’t have the (Junior Eurovision) cuteness or likability, nor the real charisma or looks for the big stage. Ofcourse this could change if they stage it well, or he absolutely nails the song live (which I think will be hard), but i’m not so certain this will challenge in the absolute top anymore.

    Sweden:
    Televoting. It has a good package will likely appeal to the jury, because of the slick staging. But if Mans only managed to get a televote 3rd place with a muuuuuuuch better total package… Just don’t see the song itself as a worthy winner, eventhough it’s staged super smart. Not ruling it out though (unfortunatly), because it will probably get votes all over the board and might be a jury winner.

    Portugal:
    Lots of doubt on this one. Will it be too niche? Will the jury actually go for it? Will people pick up the phone for this? I think it has loads of potential to prove my doubts wrong, but I think for that to happen they need to play the ‘health-card’ and really get this extra layer to his performance/song/story. Seems like he’s not gonna do that though, which is something I really like on a personal level, but not for betting-perspectives.

    Australia:
    Televoting. In all other years they scored (way) worse on televoting than with the jury. I believe a lot of people will still not be used to Australia in the contest, and will probably not vote for it. It has a decent package for a good jury vote, but I think it’s gonna be hard for them to win it.

    Belgium:
    Well, we all know. (only a really small change of proving me/us wrong).

    Armenia:
    Really hard to explain my doubts on this one. It’s just a storytelling and performance based, concept song, and i think this will put a lot of people off after the very first line ‘I wanna tell you a story’. I don’t think people will like this going into a song, and it will really take absolutely amazing staging to win people over. Hard to describe, but not fancying this one to be honest…

    Romania:
    Can this really end up high (enough) at the juries? I really doubt it. They have to at least look professional, and lots will not give this points, how fun it may be.

    Azerbaijan:
    There’s such a ‘heavy’ production sound to this song, which might be super hard to reproduce live on a stage, especially with the backing vocals. With these 70+ odds it might surprise though, I think it is quality.

    Greece:
    Too dated to compete for the top spots. There was potentional for more, but don’t think the jury will go for a song like this.

    Of course, thinking like this, nobody can win, but just left the pros out here and focused on the cons. And still, most of these can still smash my doubts. If Italy doesn’t live up to the odds, there might be a big underdog running away with the win. Excited for the rehearsals, please keep us up to date 🙂

    • MMM – a really good analysis of the pitfalls with all the contender songs – particularly the comments about Portugal and Armenia.

      The problem for me this year is there are not really many nailed on top 5 or top 10 contenders – most of them come with question marks which, in another year, could see them well down the leader board.

      • Agree, some great potential for high odds for top 10 for example, some odds are so high while theyre not worse than many others above em. Got Norway and Austria for top 10 above 10s small already, waiting till the actual rehearsals for the rest

  6. This article just shows you how tough the first half of semi final one is, 5 song’s in that half mentioned. You’d feel sorry for the others in that half.

  7. I agree with the panel that it really is Italy´s to lose…and for those that dislike the song and are grasping at any straw to propel it towards defeat, I don´t think there is much encouragement. Some are saying Francesco may just screw up on the night, but his professionalism exudes a confidence that doesn´t translate into arrogance. Those who have seen him in London, Amsterdam don´t speak of smugness. If anything, it´s his ability to convey that he´s having a fab time. He looks right down the camera and connects.
    He sells it superbly.

    So for the chasing pack, quite some way behind, the question is will there be a 2017 repeat of the gasp at first rehearsal last year when a million goose bumps erupted when Jamala´s tree burst into life behind her and she became a protoype earth goddess saying YES to life? That´s why we can´t wait for the rehearsals to start. But it is going to take a staging-packaging and vocal delivery from the gods to unseat the gorilla from pole position I think.

  8. Some footage from stand-in rehearsals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-WEZqa4g2s

    Greece is worrying

  9. Overall good stuff, but I’d say you are overestimating Greece. Yes, the stage show will be great. Same could be said for Armenia as well. But where is the song? Greece has a good build-up but quickly becomes eurotrash, and Armenia never got the top level of impact due to the weak chorus.

    I think you are missing out Sweden and Estonia as potential semi winners. Sweden will likely do well with televote and jury, as it is the complete package with one of the catchiest songs of the entire contest. Estonia will probably win the semi televote. It’ll do worse with the juries, but top 3 is still possible with better vocals.

    My last talking point is your mentions of women being more appealling visually to western voters. Could you give some detail of what you mean by that? I’m not sure that issue exists anymore.

  10. Hi Gav,

    Been following your site for well over a year now… And after backing Ukr last year to much surpise and delight, my friends and I have all become huge fans of your Euro event and your site!

    Thank you so much for the enormous amount of time and energy and thought spent on all your observations and posts. We all certainly very much appreciate it!! If there’s any way I or anyone else could donate to your site as a token of gratitude, please let us know…. as Im sure the website fees, travel costs, time etc must add up…

    This year I think Sweden has a very very good chance of upsetting Italy. The song is very catchy and repetitive, and the staging already presented at Melodi was slick and unique. To the average public Joe and Jane, this song has appeal…

    The big weakness with Italy is that it’s not spoken in English… and if you’re not privy to the meaning and nuances of the song, it goes over your head… From the perspective of a casual fan I’m not so sure Italy is that big of a favourite …

    Looking forward to your rehearsals, semis and final preview posts!

    Your Euro friend from Australia,
    MG

    • PS : In the case FOR Sweden, I forgot to include their history over the last 3 years at ESC, and the quality of the Melodi Contest… Just saying lol

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mikey. It’s always good to see new commenters.

      I remember not being Ukraine’s greatest fan last year, but was won over after their first rehearsal. They drifted to a crazy price as the jury scores were being announced.

      I agree on Sweden, they’ve had a great decade. They will still be top-5 or thereabouts. I’ve taken on top-3 for now when they were odds-on. All will be revealed next week!

  11. DaStar⭐ (@dastarsays)

    Great analyze of the Eurovision favourites.

    I also have been saying that Bulgaria can be the potential dark horse together with Bulgaria.

    To me, the problem with Italy is, that their song somehow starts to crack due to their cut made for Eurovision. He also needs to avoid looking as if he already has won the whole game, it might turn off voters I think.

    Also Belgium has issues with the vocals, her voice is quite weak compared to what the studio version promised us.

    Armenia brings, to me, the true Queen of Eurovision this year, her vocals are very strong, her voice works together with the song and the choreography. This song, to me, is hypnotic because it takes your breathe away.

    Finland is also in for a surprise, because it may just be the right little song to break alot of hearts, the voicals are very heartfelt.

    Sweden ofcourse is one of the favourites, how else could we expect Robin to defeat Mariette, Loreen and Wiktoria?!

    Also I do expect better results for Estonia, especially these days, with the world full of tensions. Infact I think that if the news might even influence the chances for this song.

    And with Bulgaria also the “News” might be a factor to watch, if tensions around the globe rise even more (Than they already have), we may have to book a flight to Bulgaria next year.

  12. DaStar⭐ (@dastarsays)

    …. Also….

    Portugal will score high, not only because it is an authentic song which gives you shivers through your bones, I asume both young and old viewers will be unable not to pay any attention to their screens when this special guy sings his sensitive song. Also his health indeed plays a role, I mean even i find it deeply sad that he cannot even do his own rehearsals.. As a singer that sounds like torture to me.

    Romania is being abit ignored by alot of known commentators, but frankly speaking: Ïsn’t this the type of song that makes you wanna jump up and dance while laughing?” Positivity is to me one of the most important things we need ESPECIALLY this year at our beautiful Eurovision, maybe that desire (After this most turbulent season in our history) could make Romania the destiny for next years Eurovision.

    The Netherlands to me are also misunderstood and too easily shoved aside, I somehow expect a surprise by the great singers! just wait & see!

    So once again, beautiful analysis about the favourites.

    Let us hope we can unite Europe with music once again! ✊💙♫ ⚤⚢⚣

  13. Portugal will not fly at all. There are too many things people seem to be ignoring. First, this song takes more than one listen to truly get you, and since 90+% of people voting will have heard it for the first time, this does not boast well for him. Then there is the fact that, well, it’s Portugal. RTP has made sure to give the country a bad rep with the countless mediocre at best songs of recent times. And Portugal has minimal diaspora, no political relevance and only one neighbouring country, and it’s not a song like this that will overcome those facts. Lastly, people are making the assumption that the jury will love him. Who says so? Plenty of times we have seen that the jury dislikes quiet songs with minimal staging, why will this be any different?
    I love my country’s entry this year, but it’s time to be realistic. It’s borderline qualifier at best. In this contest, there are the “right” countries and the “wrong” ones. Portugal is part of the later.

    • Portugal has minimal diaspora? You need to check your facts. Over a million living in France just for an example.

      And it’s not like the regular viewer is aware that a certain country has sent week songs in the past…

    • “I love my country’s entry this year”
      No, you do not even love the song. This is one of the songs of extremes: you love from the first minutes (like me and many people, I remember that it was the second most voted by the reduced public in the national Final, basically constituted by Europhans) Or you dislike.

      And if you get captivated at the first listen, you will be captivated so deeply that people will pick up your cell phone to vote. It was my case that I was absolutely taken by surprise.

      And do not forget that in Kiev the typical Europhans are a minority.

    • Portugal have a wonderful song performed by a fantastic artist.Everything about it from the song construction to the performance is top drawer.It might not be to everyone’s taste of course,and it is more a purists song,but its dangerous for those top places.Nobody would blink an eye if a jury had Portugal marked top and it just might gain a lot of televotes.Around 20s i wouldnt even consider having this red.The ESC door was opened last year to artistic songs and Salvador might give it another nudge by getting top 5.Portugal have suffered at ESC over the years,the producers will be helping this as much as they can i expect.

      • Endorse that totally…There’s a real “outsider/underdog” theme to this one. Portugal’s poor pedigree in ESC history, the Salvador health narrative and the fact that, although a “marmite” song, will create enough passion for people to pick up the phone, means I think this will be top five…..it may be top three even if they don’t ruin it with the staging…….

        • His delivery is outstanding as well Mark.Pure quality.If i was on a jury id be very tempted to mark him top,and pretty certain id have him top 3.They can easily mess the staging up though.He needs to keep the favourite cousin with autism look.If they polish him or make the staging too bright and distant it would sink him.Key rehearsal this one.

    • Most of your arguments I agree with. First of all, I always ask myself what type, what kind of songs has been in the TOP 5 the past 6 years. Especially when you look at slow-tempo/ballad entries. Let me put them here:

      –> Serbia 2012 (3rd)
      –> Azerbaijan 2012 (4th)
      –> Albania 2012 (5th)
      –> Azerbaijan 2013 (2nd)
      –> Ukraine 2013 (3rd)
      –> Norway 2013 (4th)
      –> Russia 2013 (5th)
      –> Austria (1st)
      –> Netherlands 2014 (2nd)
      –> Sweden 2014 (3rd)
      –> Russia 2015 (2nd, which the Russians always see as a failure, being 2nd or 3rd)
      –> Italy 2015 (3rd)
      –> Latvia 2015 (I know, 6th, but still want to include this one)
      –> Ukraine 2016 (1st)
      –> Australia 2016 (2nd)
      –> Sweden 2016 (5th)

      Now take these slow-tempo / ballad entries in mind a bit. Study a bit how these songs reached the TOP 5. And then compare it with Portugal. What differences do we see here? Let me elaborate:

      –> To me Portugal isn’t that ‘loud’ or ‘straight-in-your-face’ as the above ‘ballads’. It’s a rather complex song that builds up slowly but that doesn’t have a memorable key-change, which most of the above entries have (a feature that Belgium and Bulgaria actually have as well this year).

      –> Instead, Portugal this year is a very delicate, fragile, cinematic song. Perhaps more comparable to ‘Birds’ from Anouk. It has a gentle melody, with some key-changes, but no real goosebump-climax.

      –> Rousing, belting vocals aren’t a USP of the Portuguese entry this year, whereas they were with most of the above entries. Salvador sings with a delicacy that most of the above singers don’t have.

      –> Staging-wise, I can not see why people think Portugal will become the next ‘Common Linnets’ or ‘Polina Gagarina’. I expect that it will do very decent with a more simple, classical, yet not very inventive or vibrant staging (so again reminiscent of Anouk’s ‘Birds’).

      –> The only country I would like Portugal to compare with, and which is similar, is Italy 2011. But 2011 was a unique year, where no televoter or juror wanted to massively throww points at. The winner, Azerbaijan, got only 221 points, by doing good with both juries and televoters, but ‘just’. In the end Azerbaijan barely got 12’s. Brings me by Italy. It won the jury with more pronounced figures, but failed in the televote with only 99 points. So with the absence of a clear ‘Fairytale’-esque, or ‘Euphoria’-esque song, Italy got a bit lucky with their 2nd place, whereas for most 2nd places in those years you had to gain at least 220 points or more.

      Here you have it: I think Portugal is massively overrated in the betting odds right now. And in all honesty, I’m starting to believe that some of those betting odds are being held up high: Either slightly artificially, so that many betters are sneekily able to trade off a lot of value when it becomes apparent that Portugal won’t do a TOP 3. Or because the Eurovision betting world has become some kind of ‘anti-fan-bubble’. In both cases I would become extra wary.

      Let me make this clear, I love the Portuguese entry. For the sake of the quality of the contest Eurovision desperately needs songs like these. The more ‘Birds’, ‘Citylights’ and ‘Amar Pelos Dois’-es, the more people get a serious feeling about Eurovision, and the more people rightfully start distrusting comedy-commentaries from the late Terry Wogan or from Graham Norton.

      Yet, my personal taste is different from what I am predicting. Songs like ‘Amar Pelois Dois’ are always firm in my ‘Will never do a TOP 3, but will do a nice lower TOP 10 scoring’-list. If it will sneek into the TOP 5, then at least Italy and Sweden need to gain much less points this year, and I’m not sure if that’s going to be the case. And isn’t a 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th place a lovely result for a song like that? I was in the clouds when my country Netherlands came 9th in 2013 :-).

      • Gert, I think the comparison to Anouk is the most valid one. She came 7th with the juries, 11th with the televote, and 9th overall.

      • Songfestivalwerk! You compare Portugal to Italy 2011 which I agree with but that may be why it has a chance to win. There is no clear ‘Fairytale’-esque, or ‘Euphoria’-esque song this year either (just some over-rated rubbish with a gorilla gimmick).

        Also, I loved Birds but she sang it, a very melancholic song, with a huge cheesy grin on her face. It just didn’t look right.

        Portugal is an interesting one because I think it could bomb but I also think it could win, and I don’t think many could win this year. You didn’t mention an ace card of Portugal, which is his medical condition. I know that sounds cruel but it will be a talking point that he can’t attend most rehearsals, and his sister stands in, and his sister wrote the song. He also comes across as a bit of a spaz when he sings which is endearing to many and memorable to all. So he has the memorability plus a charming and beautiful song plus likely producer help. The last because of Portugal’s tiny success to effort ratio, another talking point and vote motivator.

        • First of all, I think there are such potential winners this year. Sweden and especially Italy. I think Italy will massively rack up televoting-points, whereas I could see Sweden catching the points from jawdropping reactions from jurors (on this insanely complex, yet perfectly executed choreography). So I think there is, there are some clear ‘Fairytale’-esque, ‘Euphoria’-esque entries this year. The reason I compared Portugal with Italy 2011 is the fact that at most I can see Portugal gaining the sum of the points that Italy got in 2011: 99 points (televoters) + 251 points (juries) = 350 points total. And while that might look a hefty lot of points, it simply isn’t in the new system. To be in the TOP 3 one needs to gain at least around 400 points, UNLESS if there isn’t a clear favourite.

          Secondly, if you think Anouk had a huge cheesy grin on her face, then suddenly it doesn’t matter that Salvador has these ‘ticks’ while performing? I mean, I truly don’t mind it. I actually find it charming too, but we all know how insanely grotesque and simplistic average sofa-glued televoters are. So while Salvador’s spasms are endearing to you and me, it’s way too early to say that they will be endearing to all televoters. I actually think the opposite.

          Lastly, I think these ‘talking points’ about Salvador not attending rehearsals IMO are slightly exaggerated. Actually, I do think O’G3NE’s backstory is way more endearing to me, but that’s besides the point. Yes, Salvador will have some producer’s help, but again that’s very similar to how Netherlands got producer’s help. I just think Anouk’s 9th place was the maximum for such a song (and therefore I was entirely satisfied).

          I don’t think Portugal will bomb. I don’t think Portugal will be TOP 3 or will win either. But I do think it’ll do fairly well on the left hand side of the scoreboard, between 6th and 12th place perhaps.

          • What is O’G3NE’s endearing backstory?

            (I haven’t paid them any attention because sexy girl bands never get anywhere, especially with a bland song).

            “but we all know how insanely grotesque and simplistic average sofa-glued televoters are” LOL I think you are downgrading them, especially the ESC audience that has to be a bit more intellectual on average than most audiences.

  14. Portugal has the most heartfelt song in the contest, and the most heartfelt song I’ve heard in a long, long time…

    I hope it’s recognised for its outstanding quality…

    • The same for me. I hope it gets recognized too.

      • Gert you failed to say what O’G3NE’s endearing backstory was. I suspect you were referring to your sexual dreams about them which I know you found endearing but that won’t translate to the wider contest 😉

        • Well, to me it’s quite a big thing if three girls sit on the bed with their terminal ill mother (who’s suffering from bone cancer), and singing the song ‘Lights And Shadows’ for the first time to her. As a dedication to her, but also to other people who are suffering from terminal ilnesses. And for all those families and friends who, right now, have to go through these difficult times. Isn’t that a heartfelt, emotional backstory? Surely, this will be talked about by some commentators.

  15. Have just seen Lucie Jones on Graham Norton last night. My impressions are they are moving in the right direction towards a staging concept. Last night reminded me a bit of Sanna in 2014. However, the song came across as a bit monotonous. Lucie surely needs to go for it more vocally in Kiev, to make an impression with juries. Also, she needs to look at the camera! Lucie could take some lessons from Denmark’s Anja Nissen on this.

    I previously thought UK would avoid the bottom 5 but after seeing this performance I’m not so sure.

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