Home / News / Armenia / Eurovision 2019: Sausage Fest *Kosher Edition*

Eurovision 2019: Sausage Fest *Kosher Edition*

It may not have escaped your notice that the Eurovision 2019 betting market is rather male dominated with Duncan Laurence, Sergey Lazarev, Luca Hänni, John Lundvik, Mahmood and Hatari all trading lower than the nearest female challengers, Tamta, Michela and Katerine Duska.

I struggle to remember a year when the outright market was such a sausage fest and it leads me to think that a female act will somehow confound the markets and break into the top-4. For context, the top-4 has never been dominated by a single sex since the reintroduction of the juries. One has to go back to 2006 when the top-4 featured Lordi, Dima Bilan, Hari Mata Hari (male lead) and Mihai; even then Carola was just two-points away from 4th.

Before we assess the female sizzlers, let’s get stuck into the settled pre-rehearsal favourites:

It can take a while for the Betfair market to come to terms with a favourite. On its release, Duncan Laurence’s Arcade held its ground at around 20/1 before settling in the teens and then shortening to single-figures. Following the release of some live piano versions of Arcade, the market wasted no time in driving the Netherlands‘ price to sub 3/1 and further still to around 9/5.

The art of Eurovision betting is identifying which songs are capable of creating a uniquely memorable moment while connecting with TV viewers on an emotional level. Arcade is seemingly one such example and it possesses a sublime mix of light and shade neatly packaged in a delicate etherial arrangement. It’s the song that should appeal to juries across the board. Nevertheless, the question critical gamblers are asking is if Duncan can sell the song to viewers at home and whether staging director, Hans Pannecoucke, can tame his wilder excesses.

When the piano versions of Arcade first appeared, it was apparent Duncan favoured singing with his eyes closed while grimacing during the trickier vocal moments. This isn’t a good look for TV viewers and it sowed the first seeds of doubt in the Dutch package. At the London Eurovision Party, Duncan calmed gamblers’ nerves with the first glimpse of a ‘camera-worthy’ performance, albeit slightly wobbly on some of the notes. London Eurovision tends to be a low-tech event, or at least more difficult to engineer due to the proximity and noise of the crowd. I think we can forgive Duncan the odd wobble in this situation and cling to the knowledge that he is able to perform with greater clarity in a more controlled environment.

If the visual aspect of Arcade meets expectations in Tel Aviv then the Netherlands will remain deserved short-priced favourites. All Pannecoucke has to do is to recreate the intimacy of Amor Pelos Dios while exploiting the staging and lighting to narrate the lighter and heavier elements of Arcade. Fail to do this and the market will go into panic.

The EuroJury ‘juries’ opted to make Sweden their winner, which is a warmer and more soulful version of Austria’s 2018 entry. When John Lundvik won Melodifestivalen in March, Sweden’s price crashed to around 5/1 before gradually drifting out 20/1. It’s only when the EuroJury scores started to land that gamblers realised they had been too hasty in writing-off Sweden. It’s just worth noting that Cesár Sampson attracted jury support from many eastern nations, which wouldn’t normally be expected. The eastern televote didn’t follow up with the same enthusiasm though.

Anyway, as if one set of juries wasn’t enough, John Lundvik can boast a clean sweep of top marks from Melodifestivalen’s international jurors. Okay, the number of jurors was reduced from 11 to eight this year, but Loreen only landed top marks with six of the 11 jurors in 2012. Måns earned full marks from nine of the 11 jurors in 2015. It is extremely rare for a song to attract such uniform support. On the televote John earned top marks from every age group from 16-29 through to 75+. The only blots were from age groups 3-9 and 10-15.  On the face of it these stats are impressive and indicate Too Late for Love might be far more accessible than fans and gamblers have been willing to accept. EuroJury tells a different story and either demonstrates a universal weariness among fans for Swedish entries, or it implies Lundvik might suffer the same fate as Ingrosso and Bengtsson. Conversely, let’s not overlook the fact that the EuroJury public vote is still a fan vote.

Sweden has to be respected because we know John Lundvik and his gospel singers can routinely deliver a flawless, virtuoso vocal performance, but crucially they exude a heart-warming sincerity that just lights up the room. It was clear when watching back the London Eurovision performances that John Lundvik’s charisma shone through. He was one of only a few performers with real gravitas, whereas many others – to varying degrees – had the look of support acts.

The Swedish delegation are reworking parts of the staging in readiness for Tel Aviv. Their aim is to make it feel lighter, which is an astute move, as the early parts of Too Late for Love did appear a little dull at Melodifestivalen. And if EuroJury is barometer of jury support in Tel Aviv, then Sweden’s price could go very short when the Eurovision juries start presenting their points on May 18th.

Returning for his second shot at victory having missed out in 2016, Sergey Lazarev will be hoping his unconventional song will score better with the juries. Depending who you speak to Russia has either blown its chances or are still in with a serious shot at winning the Contest. I would tend to side with the latter statement, but it may also require other nations to underwhelm or underperform.

Returning to the subject of creating a memorable moment, Scream has a USP all to itself with its theatrical Game of Thrones drama and its ability to tell a story on stage. Russia has daringly sidestepped the crowded pop and ballad battles instead opting to deliver a memorable moment of musical theatre complete with a Bohemian Rhapsody-inspired middle-eight and explosive finale. Moreover, we know Sergey is capable of singing right down the barrel of the camera and that he understands how to connect with TV viewers. What’s more, the vocals will be flawless thanks to the exceptional work of Alex Panayi.

Then we have the influence of Fokas Evangelinos who has an extraordinary record of creating unique staging concepts from Sergey’s projection wall in 2016, Ani Lorak’s box in 2008, Farid’s box in 2013 and DoRedoS’ box last year. Even Dima Bilan’s ice skater was a Fokas concept. In this small sample there are two winners, a second place, a third place and a song pushed well beyond its limits into the top-10. The ability of Fokas to elevate a song into an attention-grabbing performance cannot be underestimated, especially with a song so perfectly suited to such embellishment.

Predictably the pre-Contest polls haven’t ranked Russia that high. That’s understandable as Scream isn’t Spotify friendly and the fan-based polls do tend to favour pop songs and those with nostalgic charm – or those from more politically palatable nations. Going back to 2015, Gagarina’s pop-ballad didn’t feature in the OGAE top-10, yet ended up second overall. A year earlier Russia were roundly booed in Copenhagen, so the political situation has evidently influenced the fan community. With fan input removed, A Million Voices finished 5th with EuroJury, which was 100% jury back then.

It is pretty clear to everyone that there are positive and negative aspects to Scream, yet the nations at the front end of the market all have flaws to varying degrees whether relating to the song or performance – or both. In Russia’s case a dynamic staging concept with strong storytelling could massively elevate its appeal with juries and the televote. Likewise, anything below expectations will see Russia’s price drift rapidly. Quite where Sergey ends up in the top-5 will be decided minutes after his first rehearsal in May.

Another unconventional song in the mix comes from Italy. The initial market reaction to Mahmood winning Sanremo was negative with Italy’s price drifting out to over 20/1. The price then shortened when Mahmood’s Eurovision participation was in doubt with the market assuming the baton would pass to Il Volo or Ultimo. When Mahmood subsequently confirmed his participation the Italy price drifted out again. It’s only in the last six-weeks or so that Italy’s price started to shorten to as low as 9/1. The shortening pre-dates EuroJury and OGAE, so why are gamblers investing their hard earned Soldi in Italy?

The perception is that Soldi is a credible and modern track and should thus attract plenty of support from Eurovision juries. If this were true it would also rely on the televote playing along in order to secure victory. Let’s look at the Sanremo stats:

On the first night of Sanremo Mahmood performed Soldi from the pimp slot in a field of 24 acts, two short of a Eurovision final lineup. The press jury ranked Mahmood first; however, the televote ranked him 21st with 1.74% share of the vote. Moreover, the Demoscopic jury (representative jury of 300 music fans assembled by Ipsos) ranked him 19th. I would accept the argument that the public vote was skewed in favour of more popular artists on the Italian music scene, but if Soldi is such a great song why did it barely register with the Italian public first time around and why will the result be so different May?

Mahmood only had half of the field to beat on the third evening of Sanremo. He topped the press jury ranking again, yet finished 7th out of 12 with the televote and 8th with the Demoscopic jury. These stats are not consistent with a Eurovision contender. In my opinion, the reason behind these low stats is partly down to the unvarying style of the song and Mahmood’s anti-performance which is so atypical for popular music contests. Mahmood was even last on the televote in a three-act super-final!

Nevertheless, the level of EuroJury support isn’t that surprising if one compares the radio friendly and contemporary nature of Soldi against the rest of the plastic pop songs in this year’s lineup. It does standout from a jury perspective. Even so, many of the juries had only a single juror and most of the big points were awarded from regional or Mediterranean nations. And when it comes to the OGAE poll I think there’s more than music influencing the points. Despite that, both major polls showing positive results for Italy has to be respected. The view here is that Italy will be around 4th-8th on the televote in May, barring Mahmood surprising us with a massive staging prop and dazzling us with Gabbani-like charisma. Italy will be similar if not slightly better with the juries and will finish comfortably around the top-5 which is a significant uplift since my first appraisal back in February.

Luca Hänni’s selection was rumoured for many months before his official unveiling which presented a great trading opportunity for the early birds on Betfair. Having traded at over 100/1 and as low as 14/1 prior to the release of She Got Me, the market drifted on the presentation of Luca’s song. Switzerland didn’t sound like a winner on first listen and my first instinct was to lay-off my liability for a free-run. As the season has progressed, and having seen Luca in Amsterdam, I feel the song is in danger of failing to meet expectations. There were some major red flags at AFAS Live and the crowd didn’t appear that engaged. The song seemed to lose something when performed live, though that could change once stage director, Sacha Jean-Baptiste, gets her hands on it in Tel Aviv.

Switzerland was well adrift of Sweden, Netherlands and Italy with the EuroJury juries. Considering Luca Hänni’s main challenge is to get the Eurovision juries on side, it is concerning to see him that far off the pace knowing there might be vocal frailties to work on in Tel Aviv. Therefore, it’s worth speculating that Switzerland might be one of the Eurojury top-5 to ultimately finish lower than expected, given EuroJury tends to get three of the subsequent top-5 correct. My own view is that while She Got Me is a great radio track, it feels more like a 7th-11th than a top-5 song at this point.

As if this year’s betting couldn’t get any crazier, Iceland have been hovering between 14/1 and 30/1 since Hatari were selected nearly two-months ago. The market has had great difficulty in accepting that the BDSM-punk group are capable of mounting a serious challenge.

In the Iceland review I cited that no song has even done well with growled vocals since the reintroduction of the juries. Max Jason Mai and Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät both finished last in their respective semi-finals, while AWS and O.Torvald finished bottom-5 despite concerted speculation that AWS would somehow surprise everyone. Lordi remains the only winner, yet Hard Rock Hallelujah was a totally different genre and it won because it was absurdly fun and that Lordi didn’t take themselves too seriously. Hatrið mun sigra, on the other hand, is a totally different assault on the senses with its homoerotic BDSM symbolism and intense delivery. Poland 2014 demonstrated that sex sells when presented with a cheeky ‘Carry On’ charm, but Hatari’s dark staging will shock too many judges and televoters to challenge for victory.

EuroJury’s juries ranked Iceland 18th, whereas the public [fan] vote placed Iceland 4th, boosting Hatari’s overall position to 8th. I would argue that Eurovision fans participating in EuroJury voting will be far more desensitised to Hatrið mun sigra than 50-year old Olga from Russia and 42-year old Bogdan from Serbia. Those nations with an orthodox view of the world will struggle with the aggressive sexualised and shouty nature of Hatrið mun sigra. For that reason, I don’t have Iceland in my top-5 and suspect they could even finish outside of the top-10 if other nations turn up with positive and engaging performances. Televoters vote for fun, not doom and anger.

So what do the female artists have to offer? 

Rewind a few weeks and people were talking about Greece as a certain top-4 and potential winner. Those opinions have dried up since Katerina’s vocal performance at AFAS Live. Illness was blamed, yet days later she appeared in a vocal rehearsal before cancelling her London Eurovision Party appearance, again citing illness. Panic much? Katerina eventually rocked up in Madrid and showed some improvement; however, that guttural opening in the lower register lacks clarity and the whole vocal performance needs greater precision. The best description I’ve read to date is that she “sings like somebody is firmly squeezing a mule.” Just returning to that vocal rehearsal video, the new layering really doesn’t suit the punchiness of the song. Maybe they will rework it again before rehearsals in May? Even though I like the song, I believe Greece are now aiming for top-10 rather than top-4. One other word of advice for the Greek delegation would be to not go down a weird path with the staging, such as dressing Katerina in a pink net curtain.

Over in Cyprus Tamta will be attempting to fill Eleni’s rather large heels and land another top-4 finish. Replay is heavily based on last year’s hit, Fuego, though without the eastern musical riffs in the arrangement. It’s worth challenging the assumption that the Cypriot delegation will try to lazily recreate last year’s stage show. They won’t. And having viewed past videos of Tamta it’s fair to say she lacks the sass of Eleni and perhaps isn’t as natural a mover. Therefore, stage director, Sacha Jean-Baptiste, faces a challenge to deliver a fresh and appealing concept for Tel Aviv. If she succeeds, Tamta could be our top-4 girl. If Sacha creates another dud there should be enough in the Cypriot song to achieve a respectable finish, but the female baton would then be passed to Malta, who have an uncanny ability to acquire jury support from the strangest of places. Moreover, the delegation have been wisely investing money in YouTube promotion instead of embarking on the stale fan concert circuit.

The concerns in Malta aren’t over the song, which is perhaps one of the most chart-friendly hits in this year’s lineup. Their singer, 18-year old Michela is typical of modern talent show winners: great at singing but lacks the ability to sell a song of this style and calibre. In the main song review I suggested Malta cut their losses and accept Michela’s limitations, instead building a stage concept around her vocal strengths and leaving the choreography to the dancers. There’s definitely a chance of top-10 with Malta given what they managed in 2016 with Walk on Water, which was terrible in comparison. However, much of the delegation has been replaced since 2016 so previous alleged exchanges with other countries may not be guaranteed. If Chameleon exceeds expectations there is potential to go viral like Fuego, though at this stage I believe 8th-13th is more realistic based on Michela’s limitations. Malta are one to watch, though.

That’s the main female challengers covered, now for a brief rundown of the potential market movers… or not:

Azerbaijan bring an alternative pop song that has the potential to become a jury favourite if staged correctly. They have the same production team involved for Dihaj’s performance. Truth should be visually striking and could go well from the second semi pimp slot.

Armenia was well liked by the EuroJury juries, but Srbuk doesn’t appear that voteable. This Spanish party performance was ringing all sorts of alarm bells. Apparently there were sound issues in Madrid which may have irked Srbuk a tad. Walking Out is a rousing  brassy Bond-themed ballad that has the potential to tick jury boxes, yet seems to lack something for the televote. Semi-2 is a big test for Armenia given how close the margins for qualification might be. Once in the final, Armenia will likely follow a similar path to Serbia 2016, so not a contender or a dark horse in my opinion.

Slovenia has made many dark horse lists since Zala & Gašper’s dominance in the EMA national final. I don’t see it myself. It reminds me of the soporific Portugal 2018, which finished last in the final. It also has a similar softness to Lithuania 2018 which had to rely on its voting power to qualify and subsequently finished 12th. Slovenia won’t be able to rely on Lithuania’s voting power either. What’s more, I find the stiff and somewhat weird chemistry between Zala & Gašper rather uncomfortable to watch and amateurish when compared to the other songs they are competing against. Slovenia’s challenge is the get out of the semi!

I was rather negative about Czech Republic in the song review, but it was early in the selection period when I’m mostly looking for winners. Now that the Eurovision lineup is complete and the semi-finals have been allocated, it’s fair to say that Lake Malawi offer a reasonably credible song in what is an open semi. It’s the sort of song the juries could get behind in the same way they supported Softengine in 2014. The juries ranked Softengine top-3 in the semi and 7th in the final. The Czechs are currently overall 9th-15th in the final by my reckoning.

I wouldn’t normally fall for Spain hype but this year is different. The term ‘meme-able’ is used quite frequently nowadays to flag up songs capable of doing well on the televote. Having said that, the song is largely irrelevant because Miki is such a star performer and is so naturally likeable. With Fokas designing his stage show, Spain could be a major mover on the market. If Spain are drawn in the second half of the final, watch Miki’s infectious energy close the show.

North Macedonia have an incredible vocalist in Tamara Todevska. If the performance and mood is right, the juries could have this in their semi-final top-4, which should see North Macedonia into their first final since 2012. Christer Björkman has also done them a favour with the running order slot.

Rehearsals will start on Saturday 4th May. The ESCtips betting chat room will be open as normal and a daily review article will be published for the first and second rehearsals along with previews for each live semi-final. I return to the UK on the Friday before the final to avoid what will be a chaotic exit on Sunday morning.

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. Honestly I couldn’t agree more with you’re list.

    On the top of the Leader board I have Netherlands and Italy fighting it out for victory with Sweden potentially coming into the reckoning if they get a good running order slot as I don’t think it has enough televote potential to do it from the first half.

    Female acts I don’t really care for Greece or Cyprus if I’m honest but both have potential to do well but for me the serious song out of all the songs compared to Fuego is Malta, since getting the CD airs gone so far up my estimations that j surprise even myself. For me a certain top 10 and I think we will be mentioning them in the same breath as Sweden,Italy,Netherlands on the night.

    Of the DH I think one of Macedonia or Slovenia will hit top 10, want to wait till rehearsals to make a call on who though.

  2. I think a lot depends on how much jury Italy take from Netherlands to open the door for Russia.I think Netherlands are too short Italy too big probably in price.Italy have a poor staging record,but the record company fancy Mahmood as a big star and might help deliver.Some holo gauze imagery of him as a child and his father would win them it i think,but RAI might not fancy that at all.Delegations have missed a trick on the holo gauge tech and Mahmood has the perfect entry to change that if they have the vision to get close to the video.
    For me a real dark horse to do well is Serbia.These sort of songs have failed for a long time now as juries reward radio friendly over old school quality.However this is a real quality Balkan ballad with a fantastic vocalist who has really developed over the last few years.If they can come up with a great staging this might do very well.The juries in the polls have ignored it,but i think that will change at ESC.

  3. Thanks for your insight Gav and as always your A+ effort every year. Much appreciated 👍

  4. Sweden: I still think too much emphasis is being placed on John Lundvik’s ‘clean sweep of the board of juries’ in Mello. I feel they’re totally unreliable and not necessarily a forecast to how things will go at Eurovision. I just think it’s dangerous to read so much into it. This is Christer’s mates after all. Whilst the Swedish entry is a decent (if a bit old fashioned) song I think the jurors got caught up in the wave of popularity the song gained in Sweden pre-Mello. Just a thought!

    • I’m another who thinks Serbia is severely underrated. Not for the win, but currently 4.2 for top 15 and 12 for top 10. Best Balkan ballad in a while imo. Given the prevalence of male performers this could garner some serious points from friendly nations if the staging is decent.

      And what about a cheeky bet on Belarus? Very chart friendly?

      I’ll get me coat 😁😁

  5. Just to say… Thanks to esctips.com for some great analysis here – very thought provoking article – much needed in today’s Eurovision!

  6. Is Eurojury the OGAE fan club results?

  7. Agree with much here. It is hard to see a top 5 without a female lead in it but then hard to see who exactly can break in. Cyprus feels the strongest to me to sneak a 5th but has very little chance of a win and should be 40s+ now. Malta and Greece I’m not a huge fan of. Greece can win the semi but look to be between 8th and 13th in the final. I don’t fully trust either Malta or Greece not to have a staging disaster either.
    Sweden is a logical favourite and would be much, much shorter if doubts didn’t persist about the appeal to televoters. I share those doubts. Whilst it will probably exceed fan polls, it’s hard to see it not needing a significant jury lead other a few too many to really take the win. Italy might be something similar.

    I have doubts over many of the front runners but it’s quite hard to pick a real dark horse in their place. Spain is on for a great televote for once but is too lightweight by far for the juries and Fokas isn’t really necessary here.
    Slovenia is underwhelming in many measures and can hope for a top 10 on a good night but no more.
    Azerbaijan is the only one at long odds I can make a solid case for entering the top 5 or shortening dramatically. Ticking over nicely on EJ, fan polls etc, can pick up momentum from semi 2 and score on both sides. But then we have another guy threatening so it’s back to where we started.
    The Netherlands reminds me a bit of “Only Teardrops”. Its the obvious and most likely winner but with a host of other good entries behind it that all trail just a bit.

    I went through my current prediction now and got to 7 before I got a woman which seems crazy.
    I’m going to need to go back over everything before I can give a top 10 with any confidence.

  8. My doubts about Netherlands on the televote in the grand final is whether or not enough people will vote for what is quite a depressing song. Could we be in a year where a song that scores reasonably well with juries and the public comes through the middle? Like 2016?

  9. I can relate perfectly to Gavin’s reasoning. In his eyes Russia and Sweden are thé forces to be reckoned with, followed closely by The Netherlands. These could battle it out for the trophy. I’d like to add that, while song quality (structure, current, melody) are the pitfalls for Sweden and Russia, it is something that can become a marginal thing during the actual visual importance of those 3 mins. Whereas Netherlands’ pitfall is some lesser known, thus riskier, staging habits.

    Well done Gavin.

    • Can’t wait for rehearsal reports… I agree Sweden or Russia could come through the middle. I do not see Italy as a winner, nor Iceland. Netherlands could be the runner up, having not quite garnered enough televotes.

  10. Nice article Gavin thanks. Will comment fully soon. Quartet of initial thoughts: Iceland – I think this cool club cut and brilliant, dramatic staging (with some fire and surprises coming seemingly too) will see them do considerably better with juries than Eurojury (which for us to be reminded is ESC related performers voting, often just 1 per country and not the broad ‘music biz pro’ diverse range found in the real juries). With the Televote I see them doing very well – from the sexy nature of the singers to the zombie/walking dead style female dancers – I don’t see the public seeing this as dark as you think, a lot will find it a fun/jaw dropping spectacle and the great dance track is there too for the club fans.
    Sweden I agree must be respected but I don’t see them garnering in any way enough Televote to win and NL and Italy will stop them having a big jury lead.
    I see Luca and his song (staging key) being a much bugger threat than you feel and potential jury Top 5 and Televote 1st to 3rd.
    Tamat and Cyprus I don’t feel in anyway is the bets of the Fuego songs and can see Malta and Swi doing much better. Tamta not doing it for me this year – she’s no Eleni – and after a good punch impact the song goes nowhere just replays and replays…

  11. Russia is a strong second place in televoting for me in any scenario … simply because I do not see anyone else who could have done better.

    I am afraid that Sweden may overtake the Netherlands in jury voting … I hope this will not happen.

    Italy for me is not a player at all. After France 2018, when no one understands what the song is about … I no longer buy it.

  12. I can’t help but think that the silence around Australia is deafening this year and can’t be ignored until after rehearsals

  13. Really incisive analysis as usual, Gav, and most of it I would agree with. Particular points worth echoing are:

    – the divisiveness of Iceland and the impact of this on its jury score in particular, although it is the sort of entry that could gather momentum during the contest
    – Azerbaijan using the semi pimp slot as a springboard (I think Greece are also favoured in their semi draw)
    – the lack of anything happening in the first minute of John Lundvik’s song and the nagging concerns about Sweden’s televote
    – valid concerns about Italy’s televote (mind you who would have predicted the televote appeal of Italy last year?)
    – the conclusion that for Russia that it all hinges on the staging (and I suspect that even with the most spectacular staging Sergey may just fall short again)
    – concerns about Luca’s live vocal (I still think that if these concerns don’t materialise, Switzerland could be the entry based place to pick up the pieces if The Netherlands flops)
    – your view that Slovenia is being overrated by fans
    – the conclusion that a crowd pleaser like Spain (we could also include here Iceland, Estonia, Norway and Australia) will be coming from too far back after the jury vote to win or even dent the top 5
    – your reassessment of the Czech Republic. The Eurojury scores compared to its Semi One rivals suggest it will have enough jury support to qualify

    I’m not so sure about Malta. From the Eurojury poll it looks to be in a group that will be between 6 and 13 following the jury scores. Yes, it could do well in the televote also, but that Chameleon ‘drop’ is not particularly contest friendly – so currently I have it 6th – 13th.

  14. Gav, You say ”Televoters vote for fun, not doom and anger” but Hatrid Mun Sigra is the funniest song in contest. In addition, you’re missing the message of the song. This song is about peace and love actually. Hatari’s message is, Before Hate Prevails; Remember to love. It is the song with STRONGEST message in the contest right now. They will finish in Top 5, maybe Top 3 and they have huge chance to win televoting, you will see. They’re the most interesting thing about Eurovision at the moment just like Netta last year. Everybody is talking about Hatari. When the show is over, people will forget about many songs but not this funny BDSM anti-capitalist techno-punk band! They’re the ANTI-HERO. People like to root for the ANTI-HERO!

    I think we all agree that Hatari will score great in televoting. What about juries? Guys, if Netta could win with that chicken song, (she got 212 points from juries!) Hatari can win too. One final question, is there anybody who didn’t like Rammstein? Music is universal. If they liked Rammstein, they will like Hatari too. My Top 3 is Netherlands, Russia/Iceland.

  15. A few comments on Sweden. Every year, it seems to me, there’s a kind of Sweden “magnifying effect”…some zeitgeist that comes together to make Swedish chances of winning and even doing well bigger than they actually are. Obviously when you have the real product (2012, 2015), the positive analytical forces are congruent with objective reality. But many’s the person who predicted glory in 2014 and possible wins since Mans, only to be let down.
    I do see the professionalism in John Lundvik and its Radio 2-easy slickness and I am sure this is Jury Top 5. But I really think it is stale musically and old hat and that is what the televoting audience will think too. Maybe we can read too much into Benjamin’s dire televote last year (was it anti singer, rather than anti-song? He was rather smug and annoying.) But if I were a Sweden top 3 backer, I’d be nervous of the ghost of 2018. I think the audience want something more than “safe and pleasant.” I’d say overall 4th is likely ceiling.

    It will probably now go and win.

  16. I think Israel could be a market mover too. This song has gigantic vocals. People slept on Germany until they saw how the staging brought out the genuine emotion of the song last year.

    Kobi will create a moment.

    • I agree that Israel is being a bit underrated at the moment and it got me thinking as to whether there is a bias for or against the host entry as I’ve seen it mentioned a few times in the past that voters don’t want to vote for a country that already won it the year before. Anyway, I’ve went back to 2007 and found that the betting market ever so slightly overrated the host entry.

      Portugal 2018 – 22nd odds, 26th actual – -4
      Ukraine 2017 – 24th odds, 24th actual – 0
      Sweden 2016 – 4th odds, 5th actual – -1
      Austria 2015 – 24th odds, 26th actual – -2
      Denmark 2014 – 8th odds, 9th actual – -1
      Sweden 2013 – 13th odds, 14th actual – -1
      Azerbaijan 2012 – 14th odds, 4th actual – +10
      Germany 2011 – 6th odds, 10th actual – -4
      Norway 2010 – 13th odds, 20th actual – -7
      Russia 2009 – 16th odds, 11th actual – +5
      Serbia 2008 – 4th odds, 6th actual – -2
      Finland 2007 – 16th odds, 17th actual – -1
      Greece 2006- 3rd odds, 9th actual – -6

      There were only 2 instances where the host entry outperformed its odds and that was in 2012 and 2009. Taking 2012 out of the equation (not sure I trust Azerbaijan results to be fair), host entries fared on average 2 places worse than expectations. I don’t really see that difference as being that significant but I thought it was worth trying to test a commonly held belief.

  17. Eurovision Value

    For betting this year I’m moistly waiting till rehearsals. The 2 countries I got my eye on as surpise packages:

    – Spain
    Decent, fun song without any weird shit, one of the few this year. If Fokas can work his magic this can score well on televote ánd jury… Far-fetched: Spanish (language) songs seem to be trending too the last 2 years 😉 Small on the top 10 @4 and outright @200.

    – Azerbaijan
    Nothing too special, but a good hook and good production. A type of sound that should be able to create great visuals on stage. Vocal seems good enough, all depends on how much the staging will lift it. Small on the outright at 100+ seems decent as longshot.

    I think NL is a bit too short. Yes, it can def. win, it has enough quality. But picture this song with average staging, then it’s gonna be really hard to deliver a win. It needs intimate, dark, magical staginf. Also, the singer barely has any experience, so have to wait and see, but considering these 2 points i think a 3-odd is a bit low…

    Main contender I see atm is Italy, his odd might be a bit too high in my eeyes. I understand the televoting argument in San Remo, but somehow I think it’s gonna be totally different in a Eurovision final. With his background, personality, Arabic bit in the song, it will surely get some more edge and attention if he’s among the favourites on the final night. His performance will be great, staging not so sure with Italy, but if staging is good I think he could win it.

    If NL doesn’t deliver it’s gonna be super interesting… I think even a song like Azerbaijan is in contention then if they deliver a good staging concept.

  18. Eurovision Value

    Mostly* 😅

  19. There’s so much talk of Hatari raping the pv cos Lordi/Rasmussen/Babushkas and nowhere near enough about Bilal raping the pv cos Conchita/Dana. Sad days. Tbilisi 2020.

    • I still believe that France will finish top 10 (might be close to top-5 with some luck). But every time I make this statement, I am treated as a village idiot. But then, nobody treated me seriously with my interest to Italy 2018 either.

      Bilal scored decently with Eurojury and will be popular with televote. However I feel like the fandom is still stuck with Seemone and fails to see him as a televote magnet.

      On another note, does anybody have a clue why Russia is shortening? I have not seen / heard anything about stand in rehearsals (apart from the fact that Fokas has been to Tel Aviv twice over the last 10 days).

      • I think France might end up finishing similarly with both constituencies, at around 15th. I suspect it will be Spain and Italy from the DFs hitting the pv top10.

      • Wasn’t it Showlad or someone tipping Germany last year? He was right on the impressive performance… Great community here and always interesting to hear others’ views!

        • Hi Mike it was indeed. I was the first, early doors to call it for Israel on Sofabet too 👍
          As I’m sure Gav agrees last year the rehearsal reports were OTT in their savage negativity over the Israeli rehearsals – this caused me to think Germany could actually win (only to lump back on Israel after the Semi). Still 66s ew on Germany was a nice return. Cheers.

          • I think it’s wise not to comment on reports if you didn’t see the said footage. There is a reason why the Israeli price drifted after the first rehearsal and it’s because it was visually messy. It improved with every rehearsal. We report what we see, or at least I do. I don’t wrap things up in sugarcoated language or talk in code. If it’s a bad rehearsal, I’ll say it, just like I did with many others such as Australia.

          • Agree Gav. But I think some of the ‘feedback’ continued in a ‘there’s no way this is winning’ vein even when things came together.

          • And I’m sure that’s the case, but can I request that the comments section isn’t used to trade on past glories or pick on bad calls. I’ve tried my best to prevent this place turning into an off shoot of the Betfair Forum. Daniel also tried to ensure the same over at Sofabet. Let’s stick to facts and opinion.

  20. As someone from Australia, the silence is even deafening here for Australia.
    I’m not seeing the investment as previously in the entry. There’s no filmclip, there’s no momentum. The press that Kate does here mentions Eurovision, but is really focused on her ‘Muriels Wedding’ musical currently staging around Australia. They released the radio edit of her entry here – which IMO is awful, dropping a better build, the opera and the impressive end note. And I know they have new costuming, new staging…
    I honestly feel like they were ramped up for her selection, and then when it won, the reality hit. Either that or they blew the whole budget on the national final.

    • Weakest Aussie entry since you started competing….and that includes Jessica!! Many are saying possible NQs……I think it’ll edge through, but well down right side of the board on the Saturday night.

  21. Watch out semifinal 2!! North Macedonia may be going thru…


  22. Michela is a great singer and very likeable ,but as Gav mentions in the article she moves like a 90 year old walking down the steps of a bingo hall.They are going to have to keep her very still in the staging or it will show.One of the ones im really interested to see if they can cover up the failings and push the good points.


  23. Top work Gav. Thought I’d chime in on the debate before rehearsals kick off.

    I have Italy down to win. Fantastic piece of contemporary hip-hop with a backstory to boot. First came across Mahmood at the Giovani contest back in December. RAI decided to shake things up and give the new artists their own show. It’s interesting to note that in this environment, without the mega artists of the Italian industry and in a show tailored to a younger audience, Mahmood qualified for Sanremo by coming top 2 out of 24 entries. Mighty impressive. Also seen the Amici performance Durham linked where the ‘kids’ are going bananas for it. I don’t care to explain away his televote in Sanremo. My instinct on this is that it will go big with Joe public and juries will respect it. I don’t even think Italy need to do a great deal with the staging. As argued above, it’s an anti-performance. It’s taking a left turn when everybody else is going right. In that sense, it would be a very fitting follow up to Netta.

    The Netherlands remain a worthy challenger. I noted it as a quality entry after first listen but since, it’s bored the hole off me. Watching it live at the concerts, it’s so deliberately trying to get under your skin and make you sad that you would probably be more likely to pick up the phone to arrange a counselling session than to vote for it. I can sort of appreciate it on an objective level, in terms of the arrangement, the vocal, the hook etc but I feel nothing positive for it personally. Juries will inevitably have it right up there, but I don’t see it having enough public support to win.

    As for the rest, Greece have a strong studio track that I’ve yet to see a decent live performance of (although it may still come together.) Russia, Sweden and Switzerland are all a bit naff. Iceland is a non-runner for me, will do well to make left hand side. Serbia for me have an exquisite Balkan ballad and Nevena has developed from her last ESC appearance into a class act. Can this style of song still do well at ESC? North Macedonia have something of worth too, although the lyrics do make me cringe.

    Good thing is that the Netherlands’ price has preserved a lot of market value. Italy at 15’s is marvelous. Get it while it’s hot.

    • Like I said before:

      ” However, Eurovision has changed tremendously in the past few years. Traditional tropes do not always apply. Each year offers us a new competition and an entirely different lineup. Emotions combined with a short attention span might be the key to success with the televoting audience. And although at first this doesn’t seem to apply to Mahmood, it could become the prime reason for a much better televote in this year’s competition. Mahmood’s cool, ‘street/rapper’ vibe combined with the way he more or less ‘explains’ the song with his head mostly faced down, could be exactly that kind of ‘meme’ people love. Very much like Blanche’s somber, gloomy appearance (Belgium 2017, 4th place); traditionalists despised it, but the more anti-elite televoters loved it. Can it win? Currently I’d say no. But Eurovision has its unpredictable moments too. “

      Still, I like to mention that one’s very first impression is the thing that counts. Many people will see/hear both Netherlands and Italy for the very first time. Let’s not forget how Italy was treated in here and on fan sites only some days after the entry ‘Soldi’ was released. After more and more entries were chosen it actually sank for a moment, whereas now when we heard it more times we seem to respect Mahmood a great deal…and where we think Mahmood can win (is there not a certain annual pro-Italy vibe in Eurovision?).

      Netherlands is a bit the other way around. It’s not a (Euro)jury and top-of-the-top fan favourite at this very moment. That’s Italy, and Italy alone. ‘Arcade’ may ‘bore’ a lot of us, but this was exactly the reason why ‘1944’ and ‘Amar Pelos Dois’, and by the way many many other slow-tempo songs and ballads, never really break through into the 1st place of fan polls. Simply because the nerdy fan-wankers (look especially at British fans) prefer fun, dance-able stuff.

      But in the end the emotional connection on the big Tel Aviv stage is what counts. Do people really instantly understand Mahmood’s message? Is Duncan’s one not more universal? Are these two artists, both Mahmood and Duncan, not typically ‘now’ and ‘current’ by not giving a rat’s ass for big camera’s pointed at them? Those a more classical melody not ‘grab’ the people more than a hip-hop thing?

      We will see everything coming together this Saturday :-).

    • Great post Black n Blue. Good to see some critical analysis

  24. WOW @ Russia stand in rehearsal :O

    I had laid them big before song announcement and more on release, but now regretting!
    Its like his 2016 effort but so much more stylish and dramatic.

    Should of seen it coming 🙁

    • Do you have a source, or else we have to flag this as unconfirmed rumour?

      • Is Jack Durham a regular Gav? Even if genuine post is a bizarre comment/claim to make with no back up/background info: ‘I knew someone who was at stand in rehearsal’ etc or ‘here’s a leaked video link’ etc (which Fokas stated he would strictly guard against).

        • Something is pushing the Russian odds down, albeit gently, in the last 48 hours. Our old friend “interfering in the market?” Anyhow, as for the so-called “stand in rehearsal” I’m a doubting Thomas….”unless I can put my fingers in the holes” and see and hear for myself etc…..

  25. My post for Semi final 2 is out. All the useful numbers that you will need for Semi final 2. Enjoy guys


  26. Mike G'day Mate

    This is as good a performance as any from Tamara Todeska…


    I really hope she gets thru!

  27. Thanks for the article and all comments. In my very unprofessional opinion I would agree with the Netherlands being the deserved market leader to win.

    So in what circumstances could another country take the trophy? It definitely would depend on a mistake made by the Netherlands. I don’t think that a lot can go wrong with the staging. However the pressure of being the favourite can be a lot to handle for Duncan Laurence and in the end it could impact his voice or performance.

    For me the most likely scenario would then be a victory by Italy – if for instance Mahmood gets a second half draw while Duncan only has the honour to close the first half. Mahmood is an outstanding personality and there is a great story to be told about him – and I am sure commentators across Europe will refer to it.

    Second most likely non Netherlands win scenario would be another Swedish triumph for me. We know John Lundvik won‘t be let down by Christer Björkman in the running order. There is no doubt about the jury appeal and that chorus with the gospel background singers seems very appealing for the average televoter.

    Another Russian triumph is the least likely scenario for me due to lack of big jury points from Western juries. However, if those jury votes are fairly even split between The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and (a surprisingly vocally strong) Switzerland, Eastern jury support and a jaw dropping performance / staging might be just enough for Sergey Lazarev to win.

    May I ask you professional betters about short advice where the most value is to be found – if there is – as in my country – no access to the betfair exchange market and therefore there is no possibility to lay? In the outright winner‘s market to wait for reports about rehearsals while odds for the Netherlands further shorten might not be the best idea? Top 3 or 4 seem rather cemented this year. So maybe to spot a surprise top 10 or shock qualifyer? Anyway, that will depend on the reports from you guys who are live in Tel Aviv. Thanks!

  28. I can’t see Mahmood winning here. Eurovision winner(s) should be sympathetic in some ways. Mahmood is not sympathetic. Specially in ex-soviet countries, people won’t find him interesting. However, I’m expecting Mahmood to score well with juries, Top 3 is very possible.

    I’m expecting both audience and juries to like Duncan Laurence’s arcade. This song reminds me Salvador Sobral’s masterpiece. In my opinion, Portugese song was much better but these two songs have something in common. You can feel the magic in the air when the song is playing.

    I think Netherlands have the highest chance to win here..my dark horse is Iceland. This is a rammstein-driven modern techno-pop. Europe will like it! Don’t be surprised if you see Iceland in Final Three.

  29. Excellent post Black n Blue. I can see why you rate Soldi, I’d say it’s the most relevant and uncompromising package this year. It does have some challenges to overcome though. This will be a big test for the seemingly racist Eastern televote. He would also be the first automatic qualifier to win since the delightful Lena and her victory was less than convincing, and I think she’s the only one in the televote era. Hes charismatic but in a smouldering moody way which isn’t exactly Saturday night friendly. We’ve seen before that this isn’t the Mercury Music Prize and you can’t even rely on the juries to recognise and reward quality. They put Loic lower than the public in 2016, but rated the unimagingative offerings from Sweden and Austria well above the public last year.

    You’re the first person to come close to articulating my thoughts on Arcade. To me it’s just hugely morose, self pitying and horribly self important. It annoys me from the first second with the angelic choir. What’s that all about? Is his suffering on some kind of spiritual plane? He’s been in a destructive relationship, we get it, but he seems to be putting himself forward for martyrdom. I’m nervous to dismiss it as many people seem to be falling for this celebration of misery. It’s gonna take quite a performance to engage the audience though. When you are wallowing in despair like this you can’t do so with confidence and charisma, which people were reporting from Amsterdam. You’ve surely got to appear a broken shell of a man for the public to buy into you. That’s a hard act for anyone to pull off let alone someone still learning their craft.

    • Thanks Milton for that post. Agree 95% on the challenges facing Mahmood. He would be an unusual winner, but I think it’s a 25% possibility.

      I take what you say about “Arcade” but I have a different take. Not many of us have faced extermination at the hands of totalitarian forces, yet Jamala sold her “1944” as a song of defiance which hit a chord. Not all of us have experienced sexist, mindless oppression by men, yet “Toy” delivered for Netta. MOST people HAVE suffered loss in love: not just romantic love, but all sorts of loves, including bereavement. I played “Arcade” the other day to a woman in her sixties who had never watched Eurovision. Her son took his own life three years ago and she was in tears watching the video. She took out a notepad and pledged to tune in and vote for Duncan Lawrence on May 18th.

      The moral I take from this is this. If Duncan relates this as self-pity in an introverted manner, he will simply not make that emotional connection with the public that a top three televote finish probably demands if he is going to win. BUT, if he can articulate loss and sing for the people tuning in, they will see him in a different light. I think this is the key to his prospects. He needs to be a lightning conductor for loss and grief AND (cue that Jamala tree in 2016), offer in the staging a way forward, an “I Will Survive” moment. I think there’s a 60/40 chance this will happen. But it’s far from certain.

      • I think that neatly describes what everyone is expecting from Duncan if he is to remain a favourite after first rehearsal.

        Jamala had a small advantage in that she also portrayed the agony of Ukrainians against the Russian aggression and annexation of Crimea – the press build-up was massive. Duncan doesn’t have that. And of course, Salvador’s PR was about his heart/illness.

      • Couldn’t agree more with your comments, Mark.

    • Emotions are difficult to define Milton. I remember during my Eurovision party here in Barcelona in 2016 that most friends said exactly the same about Jamala as what you are saying now about Duncan. You can over-explain it, but some people ‘get’ it, you obviously don’t. Actually, I feel inspired now to write something about emotions on Eurovision. Stay tuned 😉.

  30. I think people see sincere background stories as a must to get the emotional aspect of an entry right. Personally, I think emoting….conveying emotions on the Eurovision stage is never a clear-cut, black-and-white thing really. It simply has to ‘work’ during those 3 minutes, regardless of a wonderful background story.

    OG3NE had her dying mother cheering for them in Kiev. Their song was for her and other people suffering from cancer. It didn’t work during those 3 mins. France last year was all about little baby Mercy and the immigrant crisis. It didn’t work during those 3 mins. Instead, Italy with a similar message, díd work. And that song didn’t have half of the promotion that France had.

    For me, Israel won because it was just absolutely fun bonkers on stage…slightly reminiscent of Ukraine 2007 really. That #MeToo stuff to me was only a fraction of why Netta won. People voted for her stunning charismatic appearance, a bunch of totally fun backing dancers, wonderful camera work catching Netta’s eye-crossing. That was 95% of the win. A few percent was that backstory.

    Portugal won in 2017 because people were relating to Salvador’s appearance on stage. Small pony tail, motorical ticks, his arm movements, making himself small. People were probably emotionally touched by a singer appearing to have a mental handicap. His fragile health? I think most televoters did not even know he had a serious heart disease, unless they listened carefully to the commentator.

    So regardless of Duncan’s intentions with his song, regardless of the background story, I think most people simply get goosebumps from the way he performs, the way he gestures with his face and hands. With that in mind I think comparisons to Salvador Sobral and Jamala are valid, but merely because of these 3 mins, not because we bring in all these ‘stories’ to the table. And if we have to bring a story to the table, then it is not the message of the song etc, but more how so many nerds from YouTube reaction video’s got goosebumps and wet eyes.

    If you ask me what really worries me about the Dutch entry this year, then it’s not about emoting. That one will be fine. No, it’s more about the staging, about Hans Pannecoucke. I just hope to use the stage and its instruments to maximize the magic of this song. My fear is that they really keep it….too simple (lost-on-stage-syndrome).

    By the way Gavin. Why are you not doing any podcasts and some articles about the qualifiers (your famous green-yellow-red system)? You feel to…tone down the reporting a bit due to Sofabet not being active anymore (out of respect, which I can totally understand)? Are you very busy with your work? Or…lost the interest a bit in Eurovision? Whatever reason there is, please continue. We might not always agree on certain things, but thanks to you we have these wonderful discussions here. I love them! Keep it going bud.

    • I’m very busy with work and have much less time this year; however, there was a conscious effort to do less. Plus I struggled to set up a podcast when everyone was available.

      • Echoing Gert’s comments: your site is really important Gavin, so don’t lose the faith, especially with the loss of dear Daniel. The camaraderie and friendship on here is possibly even more important the the ‘tips’ 👍😁

  31. Mike G'day Mate

    Gavster please don’t give up on this site… Like I’ve been saying every year, maybe set up a voluntary donations box or something? Or subscription model?

    You should be compensated for your time writing articles, hosting fees etc

  32. Interesting debate. Mark, you sat this lady down in isolation and played her this song. It had her full attention and the fact that you had chosen to play it to her created some kind of expectation that a reaction was likely. Can Duncan reach out and grab the audience in the same way when he’s one act out of 26 and people are watching with the usual distractions that any tv viewing involves these days?

    Comparisons with Jamala and Salvador are unhelpful imo. They were both songs that were held in low regard until the contest but then were elevated by extraordinary performances. You can’t bottle what Salvador had. No-one had a clue what he was singing about, but through the most engaging performance I’ve ever seen at ESC he left the audience absolutely stunned. Jamala had a lot of publicity and her story resonated with people whose relatives had experienced similar pain throughout many nations. The primal scream towards the end of the song was surely the most intense heart wrenching moment ever, and it was accompanied by one of the most effective stagings we have ever seen. Yet still she was soundly beaten in the public vote by ‘thunder and lightning it’s getting exciting’.

    Duncan is a talented song writer and I would suggest a good singer. Being an exceptional performer like Jamala or Salvador is a totally different proposition. Look at Lucie Jones. She is an extremely talented and experienced West End performer, yet on the Eurovision stage in her attempt to sell the song and the message she completely overdid and blew a really promising package. It really isn’t easy.

    Gert, you say that most people get goosebumps from the way he performs. Really? I thought it was the song that gave people goosebumps. It is the video that has won him support and we don’t see him perform in that. People watching him perform in Amsterdam were doing so as fans already and watching through sympathetic eyes.

    He might pull it out of the bag and against all odds deliver a performance with the gravitas of Jamala/Salvador but there is nothing to suggest he has that in him. But unike those two he has the advantage of a song that has captured the imagination of eurovision fans from the start. He certainly has a route to victory, but I don’t accept the widespread feeling that anything less than victory means he has messed it up.

  33. I think comparing Duncan with Jamala and/or Salvador makes more sense to me than comparing him with Lucie Jones.

    Like you said, Lucie is a fantastic performer. She knows how to sell a song. But more is needed to let the total package work…to let it emote in such a way that people vote for it.

    Salvador Sobral. Let’s be honest here. The national final performance was exactly the same as the final performance. The reason people were holding back was the fact that pundits were not convinced such a song could win. And to be honest….to me Portugal 2017 still isn’t a true staging triumph. Everything was kept very simple. Salvador was barely facing the camera’s; the camera’s were circling around him mostly. There wasn’t a Jamala-tree backing him up and it wasn’t needed. Basically, the staging was a facsimile of Netherlands 2013 (‘Birds’). Yet people eventually voted for Salvador massively. Why? I think it was the entire total package that worked:

    – A song that could have been a title theme to a romantic Italian movie (in a way it reminded me of Italy 2011). It was melancholic, positive, gentle with still an easy-to-remember melody.
    – A performer that lacks any of the traditional skills, like being telegenic. Salvador is like the anti-singer of Mans Zelmerlöw, he barely sought the camera’s; the camera’s sought him. Instead his physical gestures let us believe he could have been mentally ill, thus drawing people to the phones.
    – A singer with soft, gentle, high-pitched vocals, perfectly fitted for the song. Pretty much different from more traditionally educated singers like Lucie Jones.
    – A staging concept that wasn’t thought about as much as, let’s say, Sweden 2015 or Netherlands 2014, but that fitted the song: performing on a satellite stage amidst a calm sea of spectators, backed up by a darkgreen forest-y backdrop.

    This total package emoted everyone in Europe. Not just one aspect of it.

    Jamala then. Same thing here. The national final performance was basically the same as the grand final performance; hey they used this as a template on which the staging designers expanded. Yes, this one was much more of a staging triumph. But it was also a very modern, unique, artsy song performed with breathtaking Kate Bush-ian flair by Jamala.

    – A song that, to me, is the best of Eurovision entry since Norway 1995, Ireland 1996 and UK 1997. Emotional, extremely well produced, smart instrumentals and lyrics featuring daring words like “Kill”. A song of our time.
    – A performer that was only a few times looking into the camera, but for most of the time she was completely immersing herself in that experience. We were the observers, and hell did it work, even with her eyes closed and her wobbling/dancing on stage.
    – A singer with breathtaking, loud, very loud, high-pitched vocals. A bridge with a true vocal tour-de-force (a little bit of Albania 2012 here and there).
    – A staging concept that was perfectly executed. Not as complex/magnificent as Russia that year, but the backdrop with the tree made the whole total package work and appeared more pure to jury’s than the Russian abracadabra.

    This was the prime reason it emoted so well. Not just because one aspect of it.

    From Duncan Laurence we know he isn’t the most traditional singer either. We judge his wobbly lower vocal registers, we comment on his inability to connect with camera’s. But to me it’s less of a necessity as long as the staging people and AVROTROS keep the focus on the end result, on the total package. In fact, I think the way Duncan performs, brings the fragile nature of the song much better to the surface.

    The worst thing Duncan could be doing is singing this entry as perfect (read: as plastic) as possible. Let him immerge in the song. Let him fold his hands in a praying position. Let us hear some vocal inaccuracies that bring about his emotions (Germany 2018). I want to see his eyes closed like I saw with previous Eurovision contenders. That’s Duncan to me. An emotional singer. And that’s causing the goosebumps with me.

    Now if Duncan performs on one of the satellite stages (being the outer ring of the stage) with some dry ice below him, if AVROTROS managed to upload aquatic blue/green LED-visuals, making them ‘splash’ during the bridges, if Hans Pannecoucke is daring enough to capture Duncan’s emotions, and if Ignace d’Haege has designed a light plan that develops in a way the song develops….then I’m fairly confident ‘Arcade’ will emote perfectly and will win a Eurovision medal (bronze, silver or gold).

    Having said all this…I think Netherlands is not the only nation that brings about such true, sincere emotions. I think Sweden is there too. John Lundvik brings about very different emotions though. Emotions of joy, feelgood and happiness. Sweden to me is that other sincere, pure entry this year. Ooowh, and why are we writing off Austria already?

    I also saw yesterday’s live performance from Sergey Lazarev. Now that’s another thing. Perfectly performed. With so much soul and conviction, it’s great to see Sergey doing his best. But all this perfection to me comes across as…. How shall I put it, it doesn’t emote I think. Polina was able to do that in 2015. I think it’s because of the song. ‘Scream’ to me isn’t the best entry this year, and it feels a bit like Sergey wants to vocally overcompensate for this fact.

  34. Note to all: thanks for the kind words. We’re not going anywhere, so don’t worry. Even so, I will be trimming down in some areas to free up more time. My day job has become more intensive and I have cut things back this year to compensate. I’ll review it again next year. Catch you all Saturday.

    • Many thanks for all the input, Gav, it’s invaluable. Just wanted to ask you how you planning to attack the final weekend, as you said that you won’t attend the final jury repetition. From your experience, will it be done and dusted by then?

  35. Good afternoon Gert. As you point out so many elements came together to make Salvador and Jamala work. At the moment all Duncan has is a song.

    I wasn’t comparing Lucie with anyone. Just saying that she is a seasoned professional who got it wrong which shows how hard it is to communicate raw emotions on the stage in a way that the public will believe.

    The problem Duncan may have for me is that Arcade is such an extreme vocalisation of someone who has been utterly destroyed by a disastrous relationship that it will be hard to match that level of pain in his performance. If there is a disconnect between the song and the performance it will be harder for the audience to buy into him.

    • Hi Milton. I think it’s also a very difficult discussion, the emotions-part of Eurovision music. It-s either there or not. But I do think you should always see it in the light of the comlete package. While Lucie is a commendable performer, people obviously didn’t engage with her. Mostly because of the song.

      With regard to Duncan you keep mentioning the back story, the message of the song (lyrics), and that it’s about an old female friend who, until her death, was always sad she couldn’t get the love of her life. All true, but to me, again, back story doesn’t matter so much. What matters most is conveying the emotions thanks to that total package to be revealed next week.

      I don’t believe the song is such an ‘extreme vocalisation’ as you put it; so that it becomes too hard to perform it in a believable way. It’s an emotional song to me, not a composition that is so complex that it becomes too difficult to repeat it ‘live’. What I saw from him so far seems a logical extension, performance-wise, of the plain audio version of the song.

      • Hi Gert, I’m not saying Lucie was deprived of a win, although I felt she might scrape into the top 10. The recording that was shown at the semi final was great, she pitched it just right, however in the final she totally overdid it. She was trying too hard and ended up pulling awful faces. It wasn’t a great song, nothing close to the generally acknowledged quality of ‘Arcade’ but it was a song that had the potential for her to give a really emotional performance and win the audience over. Sadly she completely failed to do so. I’m not for a minute saying that Arcade is going to emulate ‘I’ll never give up on you’, I’m just pointing out that its hard, even for a seasoned professional like Lucie to get it right.

        One more point before we hopefully move on, I’m surprised you say that I keep talking about the backstory. I have never mentioned it once, I had no idea what it was until you just said 🙂

        I’m not saying I’m right, just trying to introduce some balance into the debate and articulate how it could go wrong for Duncan. Just for clarification, we’re pretty much on the same page with Arcade. You expect it to podium and I would be surprised if it didn’t, regardless of my personal tastes.

  36. My Pre-Rehearsal Power Rankings for Semi Final 1


    Gavin, after Daniel’s loss, this is our last resort for those who seek some logic and some arguments behind every contestant. You are needed in this community!

  37. He captured me for the whole 3 minutes without any camera work or staging, that voice is amazing.


  38. What does everyone think of North Macedonia’s chances for a top 3 finish or even the win? After watching her live performance with the piano I think this is hugely underrated in the betting markets.

    Definitely the best vocal in the competition

    • Ooowh no it isn’t. Well, not by me :-). I have it as a certified qualifier ATM. The best of the Balkan, most likely TOP 7 in the semi final.

      • Think Northern Macedonia is a borderline qualifier. Song is too “preachy ” for mine and many people’s liking. Good artist in search of a more subtle product I think. I’d like to see it in the final though.

  39. Mike G'day Mate

    Do not underestimate Australia this year! As mentioned earlier the silence speaks volumes… But I believe they have something big in store!

    Kate is the most talented artist we’ve sent! Europe watch out! Don’t say MGM didn’t warn ya 😎


    • I have it as a certified TOP 5 on my list of qualifiers from semi final #1. If there has to be an ultimate dark horse -NL 2014, AT 2014, CY 2018, AT 2018-style- then it is most certainly Australia this year.

    • This acoustic version of Zero Gravity is impressive. Dare I say that Australia would do well to borrow some elements of it for the Eurovision performance?

  40. Gosh, already tomorrow we will get know details of staging and first impressions from semi one acts. I intend to follow Matt from ESC United who will be sharing his comments live from the press center (he will do his usual live broadcast). Whom are you, guys, following to hear 1st impressions?

  41. Last day before rehearsals start so I’ll give a final say before then.
    Firstly, It’s a hard year in that I can give a top 10 that I’m comfortable with but it’s much harder to nail down a top 5.

    For the Netherlands I’m not 100% sure on how Duncan sells this. Usually you’d say there’s less that can go wrong with a ballad but this isn’t about him trying to qualify or sneak a top 10, so it needs to be quite special. As one of the earliest and keenist on Salvador in 2017, I have to say the performances I’ve seen of this don’t compare. There is something of a coldness for me still, yet not an emotional one. My view is that *if* this does turn up and gets the camera angles, lightning, sound mix etc just right that it will win. If it doesn’t however and Duncan fails to connect then it could fall out the top 4. I don’t know which scenario is most likely right now.
    Behind the Netherlands I think it’s quite even. Russia, Italy Sweden, Iceland probably have an equal chance for the win. Switzerland and Cyprus can go for a top 5 and if any outsider threatens Azerbaijan or less likely Slovenia could place. Maybe Spain could also place with what could be a big televote, especially if they have a second half draw. Spain are averaging less than 25pts with the televote from 2013 to last year. It’s not inconceivable they could get around 10 times that if they have the pimp slot they’re suited for.

    Looking at the qualification odds, Portugal and Armenia (who were 5.5 to nq a few weeks ago) are probably the value lays. Two qualifiers at odds against who could take their place are San Marino and Lithuania.

    Pre rehearsals top 10. (Alphabetical order)

    • If the total package is top notch next week, especially from an emotional perspective, then The Netherlands can win. If it doesn’t, if Duncan fails to emote (I think Duncan is helped by a more powerful song than Salvador was with ‘Amar Pelos Dois’…hence he had to be a more charming performer), then the victory will go to either Italy or Sweden. Those three will fight out the trophy, but I can see all of them winning a Eurovision medal.

      Then these countries all have a chance in the (lower regions of) the TOP 7: Iceland, Switzerland, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Azerbaijan, Malta, Norway, perhaps even Russia. Russia however to me is hugely overrated. I saw Sergey’s performance from yesterday. And no matter how he sells this, with astonishing vocals no less, it leaves me more cold than Duncan’s worst performances.

      Dark horses? Watch out for North Macedonia, Australia, Czech Republic and even Austria.

      • Gert, you have cautioned me to beware of putting too much confidence in my musical tastes ref Netherlands. Is there a danger that you might be doing the same with Russia? I’m almost nervous to say this as it feels like having this opinion makes me musically illiterate in the eyes of people who casually dismiss the song as substandard, but I think ‘Scream’ is fantastic.

        You recognise Sergey’s vocal prowess and passion, but dismiss it as if he is trying too hard because he knows the song is poor and he is trying to make up for it. That seems a bold assumption to me and one that is based on your personal opinion. If the song is so categorically poor why did it come 7th in eurojury, beating 34 other countries? What makes you think that your tastes will be more reflective of the actual juries and televote than these 100 invited jurors?

    • Hippo

      No real disagreements with your pre-rehearsal Top Ten, except I would put Norway in for Spain (yes, a tad controversial but I can see them 9th or 10th. Think Rasmussen last year.) Greece may yet edge out one of Azerbaijan/Malta/Cyprus. But she will have to sing well.

      At the moment, I cannot see the winner outside of The Netherlands or Italy. But all that may change in the next ten days.

  42. Thunder and lightning, it’s getting exciting

    Montell’s pre-rehearsals prediction

    SF1 Qualifiers
    Czech Republic

    SF2 Qualifiers
    North Macedonia

    Grand Final Top 10
    The Netherlands

  43. Mike G'day Mate

    Does anyone have any concerns that Netherlands, Azerbaijan and Switzerland singers look the same?

  44. Will Serbia qualify, Gav?

  45. Iceland are going to figure ever stronger from this point. As people worry about Luca’s vocals; Duncan’s trouble translating his performance in a way that connects; Sergey’s lack of song and the big Q over the staging and Mahmood’s moody stage presence, I think of the MASSIVE effect Hatari’s stage show and song will have.
    This sledgehammer into the public’s attention and the vocals should be on point as in their NF and not as judged by the fan parties. This is going to get a huge public vote and the more hip and cool jurors will love the song and show. I think Ice could be single figures come around Semi 1.

  46. My pre-rehearsal Top-10

    1. Netherlands
    2. Italy
    3. Greece
    4. Russia
    5. Iceland
    6. Malta
    7. Cyprus
    8. Sweden
    9. Switzerland
    10. Azerbaijan

    Slovenia and Denmark as dark horses.

    For the moment i have winning feelings just for Netherlands.

    Italy is a step back and could possibly threaten them.

    Russia, Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland have way more vulnerabilities and finishing 2d is their ceiling, or even worse.

    Greece is a questionmark and waiting to see who else will step up to the challenge.

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