Eurovision Song Contest Preview
Well, the big day has arrived, the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest takes place tonight at 8pm (UK time) at Kiev’s International Exhibition Centre. Around 200 million people will watch this 3 ½ hour festival of kitsch. The show will be presented by Oleksandr Skichko and Volodymyr Ostapchuk with the wonderful Timur Miroshnychenko reporting from the green area.
The running order has been determined and is set out below along with the price available from the leading betting exchange. Poland has the dreaded number 2 slot, from which no-one has won for a very long time if ever. Kasia Mos will be belting out the song Flashlight and appears to be pinning her hopes on a revealing dress. The song is awful.
1 Israel – 360.0
2 Poland – 720.0
3 Belarus – 470.0
4 Austria – 660.0
5 Armenia – 220.0
6 Netherlands – 310.0
7 Moldova – 220.0
8 Hungary – 330.0
9 Italy – 3.25
10 Denmark – 320.0
11 Portugal – 2.84
12 Azerbaijan – 350.0
13 Croatia – 100.0
14 Australia – 330.0
15 Greece – 630.0
16 Spain – 630.0
17 Norway – 520.0
18 United Kingdom – 38.0
19 Cyprus – 830.0
20 Romania – 80.0
21 Germany – 350.0
22 Ukraine – 1000.0
23 Belgium – 27.0
24 Sweden- 46.0
25 Bulgaria – 4.7
26 France – 190.0
You will be pleased to know that the scoring has not changed this year as the EBU has decided that it can go no further in its ongoing but futile attempt to remove any bias from the voting system. The present system is based on that used in another competition called the Melodifestivalen.
Each country awards two sets of points from 1-8, 10 and 12. One set is determined by the country’s professional jury and the other from televoting. After viewers have cast their votes, the results of each professional jury will be presented, with the countries receiving 1-8 and 10 points being displayed on-screen (previously only those receiving 1-7) and the national spokesperson only announcing the country receiving 12 points.
After the results of the professional juries are presented, the televoting points from all participating countries will be combined, providing one score from each song. The results of countries finishing between 11th and 26th in the public vote will be automatically added to the scoreboard, with only the results of the top ten countries being announced by the hosts. Whether this does ameliorate the inherent bias in the system will remain an area for regular and ongoing debate. Let’s just say, don’t be too surprised if Greece and Cyprus award each other “douze points”.
No Russia this year
Russia was due to compete but pulled out on 13th April as their representative was banned for performing in the Crimea. This whole saga has been engineered by Russia and, not surprisingly the contest will not be shown on Russian TV this year. Viewers over there will instead get the chance to watch Ridley Scott’s Alien. I will leave it to you to determine who has the best deal.
Since winning three times in a row (four times in five years) in the 1990s and nearly bankrupting RTE in the process, Ireland’s entries have been, shall we say, rather low key and this year was no different. They were knocked out in the semi-final stage. Don’t be too surprised if we get My Lovely Horse entered up for 2018!
Things to look out for
I’m sure there will be more on the day but the two key contenders in the “odd” category are the Italian entry with a dancing gorilla and Dihaj from Azerbaijan performing the song skeleton with a man with a horse’s head standing astride a stepladder.
Who are the key contenders?
It is a very unusual betting market this year with three very short priced songs and it’s pretty much name your price on the rest. On the exchanges, you can get triple digit odds on 19 of the 26 finalists!
Let’s look at a few of the shorter priced contenders.
Salvador Sobral sings Amar Pebos Dois. This is a classic old-fashioned ballad that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1950’s movie apart from the singer’s rather jerky hand movements. He seems a nice chap who puts in a very restrained low-key performance, which is extremely un-Eurovision. In fairness, you can’t see how they could add any major bells and whistles to it. It is unusual and, if it wins, expect to see it spawn many copies next year.
Francesco Gabbani sings Occidentali’s Karma. This is a very jolly tune and we are treated to see him dance next to a man dressed as a gorilla, an homage (so I am told) to Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape. It includes elements of 90’s dance music and is quirky which helps it to stick in the memory despite being the ninth act on.
Kristian Kostov sings Beautiful Mess. He’s a good looking chap, who looks a bit like a cross between A-Ha and Justin Bieber. This is more of a classic Euro-ballad and is very well drawn in the prime 25 slot.
Blanche, Belgium’s Adele, brings us City Lights. It’s quite understated and a bit different as it doesn’t quite build up to the massive crescendo finale one is expecting but that may be a good thing. It’s well drawn and might be an interesting outsider.
Sweden are forensic in their preparation for this event and this year Robin Bengtsson brings us I Can’t Go On. There are very evident elements of Justin Bieber in the song along with an 80’s disco backing track. I thought it was a little old-fashioned but you can’t argue against Sweden’s record in the event and it will surely be in the mix with its good draw.
Lucie Jones sings Never Give Up On You. She is a good singer and can act and she belts out this big power ballad well and with gusto and there is plenty of powerful stage lighting to back it up. Ignoring the fact that the UK is hardly flavour of the month, I’m a little concerned that this type of song might be a couple of years past its Euro sell by date. It might do ok with the professional juries allowing a top ten finish.
In conclusion, the market is very rarely wrong in Eurovision and it is difficult to see beyond the top three in the market. Sweden each way (1/4 odds first 3) may be the value bet and they are also available at 9/5 to finish in the first four. For those of us with a jingoistic bent, the UK are available at 11/8 for a top ten finish.
I hope you find the above helpful and will enjoy the spectacle. As I said last year, it will never be the same without the deprecating wit of Terry Wogan but Graham Norton will provide plenty of witticisms to keep us going when our energy and attention levels are starting to flag!