Thursday, May 30, 2013

Split Votes: A Step In The Right Direction

I have been rather interested in the online debate which has emerged about the split results.

In contrast to many other years I have been surprised by the amount of acceptance that there has been of the results. Many other years have seen many fans call for an end to juries in the contest and a return to televoting.

Many websites have been shocked at the EBU only releasing the split averages of scores rather than using the old system. However I ask - did the old way of giving results really give you that much insight into how Europe voted?

I think that we as fans are inclined to over-obsess on the results. It is only a natural thing that would of course come from PED. Some people may try to reverse engineer the results to understand some of the results. But really when you think about it, what good is it to go back through individual results?

The EBU and PWC work together to ensure that there is no cheating at jury or televote level. While some of the voting patterns in the contest in the past five years do concern me I do think that these people are as concerned about the contest as we are and will spot irregularities in the voting patterns as they arise.

So really what good does it do us to know split results. Over on ESCInsight they have had some interesting debate and have suggested that we do not need to know the split results if all the EBU will give us is averages. However I don't use the split result to try to go back over the contest and where Denmark or any other country won and lost their votes. I use split results to better understand what songs worked with the public and what worked for the juries. This helps me to better understand the contest in the future, but does not let me focus on the past.

Of course it goes without saying that full details of the results should be released to clearly show how the voting worked and the EBU should do this.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ESC 2013 Debrief

It is really hard to believe that it has only been a week since at this time I was probably watching the UK, Sweden, Hungary and Denmark all performing on the Eurovision stage. This was a strange Eurovision year for me. In the run up to it I had not the time to review all of the songs in the depth way I did last year. I hadn't the time either to think about reading all of the blog posts, analysis and articles that speculated about who exactly might win this year's Eurovision. 

I had been afraid that I might not enjoy the contest enough or maybe I just didn't care anymore. Many of the blogs that I read pointed out that this year the quality of songs was very poor and perhaps, I thought, this was why I didn't pay as much attention to ESC this year. Fortunately though the contest creep-ed up on top of me this year, it was as magic as it ever was.

But now with Eurovision 2013 out of the way it is time to begin preparing for - The Eurovision Song Contest 2014. 

I'm really looking forward to next year's contest. This year, I'll be honest and say that I was somewhat disappointed by SVT's show. While it was a contest that was as entertaining as ever - and arguably the first final I ever laughed during - I had expected something just a little more innovative from SVT. Looking back on the contest I sort of feel they took the Melodifestivalen format and sort of tried to fit Eurovision into that. 

While on the surface ESC and MF are virtually the same show when you actually examine them they are deeply different. In the case of Eurovision 2013 it felt a bit like SVT tried to hammer the wrong jigsaw piece into where they thought it would go in the puzzle. Next year I think that DR may have a different show. I do expect it will be more close to DMGP, but I do think that this will be a really great thing. 

As regards the political side of the contest I think that Dr. Paul Jordan has written an excellent blog posting looking back on this year's contest: 

As regards me? I won't lie a time will come when I will run out of time and the blog will disappear. It is my plan to keep it going with whatever time I have through until at least this time next year. So I look forward to another great ESC, with all of my readers.

Finally those of you with a statistics fetish should keep an eye on the blog over the coming days. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ESC Voting: Should We Worry?

If you are completely unaware that there has been some concerns raised about the voting in many countries this year, you either do not suffer from post-Eurovision depression or, you don't plan on looking at anything Eurovision-related until November.

Anyhow there appears to be a lot of surprises going on about the voting. This, as usual, suggests that there is some level of vote rigging going on.

Personally I think there is a straight forward problem here. Countries were not ready for the change in the voting system this year and many of them have not realised the impact it would have on the voting.

Before I continue my rant I would like to clearly state that I think the results of the contest were indeed very fair and the top 10 was correct in my opinion.

Of course questions must be raised about Azerbaijan targeting smaller countries for votes by trying to affect the results of the televote and these results should be checked for anything unusual.

However I would stress to everyone not to jump to conclusions about how certain countries voted in the final and then in the semi-final. Firstly it is my opinion that some of these anomalies occur because the new voting system had little affect on the semi-final results as there were only 16/17 countries taking part. However when this was expanded to 25 or 26 songs to vote on questions do have to be asked about whether it is right that either the jury or the televote should have as much power as they clearly do to wipe out the others votes.

I call on the EBU to release a full set of results for the 2013 contest including a breakdown between each individual country, stating the percentage of televotes that each song achieved and a breakdown of how each jury member voted.

If the EBU truly want to prove that there is no vote rigging in the contest they will have to release full results with the maximum amount of detail possible.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Congratulations Denmark!

My heartiest congratulations go to the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013, Denmark with a fantastic song by the amazing Emmelie de Forest, Only Teardrops. Amassing a total of 281 points from all across Europe, she won by a landslide after an exciting round of voting.

I loved this song from the moment I heard that 30 second clip released, and was delighted when it won DMGP. It was my favourite in the contest and I was really delighted by it. 

I look forward to joining you on the road Copenhagan, where we'll do this all over again next year. It's been a pleasure.


And The Winner of Eurovision 2013 Is?

The day of the Eurovision Final has finally dawned. 26 countries prepare to do battle in an exciting show from Malmo tonight. But who will emerge the winner? Let's take a look at the finalist tonight.

France this year have a nice song but has some have mentioned no one has this down in their top 10. It is a fairly dull song that could go down well with the juries and manage to get to the top of the right hand side of the scoreboard or it could slide well down it.
My Grade: 3/10
Prediction: 21st-26th

Lithuania were certainly the most surprising country to make the final this year. The song is one which I thought would get knocked out in the semi-finals and don't see it going to far tonight.
My Grade: 4.5/10
Prediction: 21st-26th

Moldova are always very strong at Eurovision and this year is no different. Aliona is a competent singer and she should do fairly well with the juries tonight. However as she has the third dull song in the opening part of the show I don't think the public are going to support this song enough.
My Grade: 4/10
Prediction: 13th-16th

I was sickened by the fact I did not put a bet on this to win the semi-final. It was 25/1 on PaddyPower and even an each way bet would have helped the kitty in my mind. I think that this is one of the best songs in this years contest and I think that it may bode well in western Europe. Hard to say how it will go down in the east. I would have said this was certainly going to go top 10 but so many of Finland's neighbours are strong this year that it is hard to say.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Prediction: 9th-12th

A dull song which is only helped by a nice instrumental at the start this is a strong contender for last place in the contest this year. Sandwiched between Finland and Belgium and with so few neighbours this year I can't see this going far.
My Grade: 4/10
Prediction: 21st-26th

Another song that I was surprised to see go through to the final this year. Roberto is certainly way above my expectations of him though they were low enough to begin with. This should do alright for Belgium but it will not be a repeat of 2010. Personally I like the studio version of the song, but not the live one that much.
My Grade: 5/10
Prediction: 17th-20th

Deserving of a place in the final, Estonia have a really lovely song this year that I completely fell for during the semi-finals. They're not going to repeat last year, particularly if the northern countries are strong, but they do deserve credit where it is due. Hopefully this will not be at the end of the scoreboard tonight.
My Grade: 5.5/10
Prediction: 17th-20th

I didn't really take to the new song that Belarus choose after the Rhythm of Love but I really didn't like the performance of the song on Tuesday night. There's far to much going on during the song and it just is not working for me. However I expect that the neighbour of Belarus will ensure this will not do to badly.
My Grade: 3.5/10
Prediction: 13th-16th

I don't think there is anyone who really does not like this song. It is wonderful and bouncy and Gianluca is just so happy when he performs it that it deserves to do well. While their running order position will not help them the introduction of drag back voting this year should help them a lot. I really like the song too and wish them the best of luck.
My Grade: 7/10
Prediction: 9th-12th

Clinical as ever I was really impressed by Russia's semi-final performance and even my good mother thought that this was the best song in semi-final 1. Certainly it is a dark horse on paper, but the poor running order position (followed by Cascada) means that this will at best make 5th place. Which Russia would probably still be happy with.
My Grade: 6.5/10
Prediction: 5th-8th

What can we say? One word - Cascada. This has all the right ingredients for another German win but I'm not entirely sure how it will fair on the night. It's not the best song that Cascada could have brought to the contest but it is a definite contender for a win.
My Grade: 8/10
Prediction: 1st-4th

Armenia did a great performance on the semi-final of this song, certainly it was enough to send Albania home on Thursday and being the only rock song in the final will also play well. Still it is not a great song overall and I could see this quietly move into the top 10. But it could flop too.
My Grade: 3.5/10
Prediction: 9th-12th

The Netherlands
Doing amazingly well to be in the final Netherlands do need to do well tonight to convince the Dutch public they still can do well in the contest. Singing before Romania and just after an ad break will do them no favours but I still think they can manage. I like this song and hope Anouk can do well tonight.
My Grade: 7/10
Prediction: 17th-20th

This one is really causing me a headache at the moment. There is no reason why this should be allowed to do well yet, if the juries strictly follow their criteria then this is a strong contender. But I still think the shock factor of this song will put some off from voting for it.
My Grade: 2/10
Prediction: 13th-16th

United Kingdom
The internal selection, the fact that they are one of the Big 5 and Engelbert's performance last year really makes it very hard to say how this song will go down. However it is Bonny Tyler and I don't think she will go down without a fight. I think she has a great song and is sure to pick up a few points here and there to lift them out of the bottom of the table.
My Grade: 7.5/10
Prediction: 17th-20th

In my humble opinion Sweden  have by far and away the most underrated song in this years contest. Though people in Sweden seem to think that this is a weak effort and will not go down well I think it is a strong song that may do well.
My Grade: 7/10
Prediction: 5th-8th

Another surprise to make the final and another song which is a strong contender for last place. I think it is ok but ok just doesn't cut it for the final.
My Grade: 4/10
Prediction: 21st-26th

It's favourite, it's my favourite and at this point it looks like in 12 hours time the Eurovision Song Contest will cross the bridge to Copenhagan. The longer this drags out the less sure I am that Denmark are going to win this by a country mile. However someone stopped the Balkans from trading neighbourly points and if it was Denmark they are going to go big.
My Grade: 10/10
Prediction: 1st-4th

This is another really strong entry from Iceland this year and one which I expect will not do well on the night. If Greta and Jonsi could not do better than 19th then this is one which sadly will be at the end of the scoreboard tonight.
My Grade: 7/10
Prediction: 21st-26th

Another contender for the win, their song is weak but the performance of Hold Me is very interesting and does wonderfully distract from the song. This might convincably win but I really hope that it doesn't. I don't think that the Eurovision brand was helped by bringing the contest to Baku last year.
My Grade: 4.5/10
Prediction: 1st-4th

Greece is certainly in a much stronger position for the win this year given that there are no Balkans in the final. However Greece has entered with stronger songs that this one  and though I would like to see it outside of the top 10, there will be no stopping this song's success now.
My Grade: 5/10
Prediction: 5th-8th

If anyone can beat Denmark tonight it is Zlata from Ukraine. The performance of this song just blew me away in the first semi-final and the giant, which I though was a terrible idea, actually worked well in the song. Ukraine is another country which may benefit from the absence of the Balkan countries  and if this is true, looking at the order of voting I think Ukraine is a possible winner.
My Grade: 9.5/10
Prediction: 1st-4th

One of the talked about entries this year, Italy has a very strong San Remo entry this year that may soak up some votes from the juries. However I disagree with the people who argue this is a winner. Unlike 2011 there are many songs that the juries could vote for. This song is not as strong as Italy's 2011 and 2012 entries and is perhaps a bit too San Remo for Eurovision. Therefore I don't see this as a huge challenger.
My Grade: 5.5/10
Prediction: 9th-12th

I'm going to be really controversial right now and say that I do not believe Norway is going to come within an asses roar of the top 10. This is a song that struggled to beat Bombo in the national final and I think that it is the over hyped song of the year.
My Grade: 4.5/10
Prediction: 21st-26th

Georgia has a great entry this year that I really love. Eurovision by numbers but still I just want to be drawn into it and sing. I don't think that this is a strong enough number to win out right, particularly when Azerbaijan is strong this year too, but it could still take points from very promising songs.
My Grade: 9/10
Prediction: 5th-8th

Once again despite being mentioned as a winner Ireland should, on cue fall flat on it's face as what tends to happen at Eurovision finals. I can't really comment on this one without being biased one way or the other. So I'll just make a prediction.
Prediction: 13th-16th

So after all that my top 10 songs in this years Eurovision final are:

12 points - Denmark
10 points - Ukraine
8 points - Georgia
7 points - Finland
6 points - Germany
5 points - United Kingdom
4 points - Sweden
3 points - Malta
2 points - Iceland
1 point - The Netherlands

But enough about me, my prediction for the top 10 is as follows.
1. Denmark
2. Ukraine
3. Azerbaijan
4. Germany
5. Greece
6. Russia
7. Georgia
8. Sweden
9. Armenia
10. Finland

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Final Running Order

In no other year has the running order been so controversial in the contest. Many years before this I can remember running upstairs after any semi-final to see the press conference to see what slots are drawn. However according to the EBU there was no need for me to do this as "the running order has no statistical impact on the outcome of the contest". TM EBU.

This years running order will of course be controversial but here it is:

1. France
2. Lithuania
3. Moldova
4. Finland
5. Spain
6. Belgium
7. Estonia
8. Belarus
9. Malta
10. Russia
11. Germany
12. Armenia
13. Netherlands
14. Romania
15. UK
16. Sweden
17. Hungary
18. Denmark
19. Iceland
20. Azerbaijan
21. Greece
22. Ukraine
23. Italy
24. Norway
25. Georgia
26. Ireland

It is of coursesurprising that SVT, who drew up this running order to be approved by the EBU, didn't place Denmark last. Though it is clear that Sweden do not really want to host the contest again, I think they would be very happy to deliver a win for Denmark. At this point I think it is fairly clear that Denmark is the favourite and I do expect the Danes to win the contest for the third time. The only question left in my opinion is will they be able to break 360 points and become the best Eurovision winner of all time.

Ireland should also be really pleased with being able to close the contest.

More analysis of the draw to follow in the morning.

Thoughts On Tonight's Results

So tonight saw the final ten countries be added to the final line up, and while I wait for the running order to arrive my main thoughts on the talking points of semi-final 2 are:

  • Balkan's decide Eurovision: For the first time since 1985 there's no Balkan in the final meaning a lot of votes are going to be swishing around there that would otherwise be used on good old fashioned neighbourly voting. However despite how many people have suggested that the Balkan's will decide the contest this year I would actually suggest that their votes will no longer be bloc but instead go all around Europe. 
  • San Marino didn't qualify despite the expectations that it could. Personally I thought the performance came across very poorly on television so I was not overly surprised by that.
  • Israel didn't get through either, I was surprised by this as I thought that the juries would pull her over the line. However it was a dull song that didn't even win the public televote in Kdam so it understandable why it failed to qualify.
  • Hungary qualified: I don't really know how to react to this.
All in all this was a great semi-final and I am really looking forward to the final regardless of who the winners or losers may be, Sweden will put on a great show.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Semi-Final 2: Preview

So we may have already seen the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest *cough*Denmark*cough* but it doesn't mean we have seen all of the top songs of this contest. In reality I think that semi-final 2 actually offers a much broader range of music than semi-final 1, which mostly consisted of pop songs.
So what's on offer?

Despite energetic performances, a good song and the mere fact that they are opening semi-final 2, Latvia should have a great entry on their hands. However despite this their entry lacks the luster that I was hoping for and this will have great difficulty qualifying. I guess PeR can take some heart from the fact that Zlata Ognevich was dancing to this today in the press centre during rehearsals.
My Grade: 3/10
Qualifier: No

San Marino
Though San Marino have sent Valentina last year this song could not have been more different. This is a mature, high brow song that should deliver for them. I really like this song, though I wish that it was one minute of ballad and two minutes of disco, but still this should just about qualify. The absence of Italy from voting in this semi-final is a problem for San Marino though.
My Grade: 8/10
Qualifier: Yes

FYR Macedonia
What can I say about this? I really like Lorenzo and his song. I don't like Esma popping in during it. Overall this is a non-qualifier and a complete mess. It also lacks a lot of neighbours in semi-final 2 and by extension it may find it hard to get points from non-Balkan countries.
My Grade: 3.5/10
Qualifier: No

I never really have liked Azerbaijan in the Eurovision Song Contest, except for their entry last year. However this year I think they have a great textbook entry though I am concerned that nerves may get to Farid on the night, it will have a great vocal and will sail into the final.
My Grade: 4.5/10
Qualifier: Yes

This is truly a fun song. I've loved this from when I heard it before the Finnish national final in February. Krista is able to deliver a competent and entertaining performance and I think this should make the final comfortably.
My Grade: 9/10
Qualifier: Yes

Tonight Gianluca will bring a lot of fun to the stage. However despite what some have said I don't see this as a potential winner. I do see it getting out of this semi-final though, to an average final position.
I really enjoy this song but by no means do I love it.
My Grade: 7/10
Qualifier: Yes

Montenegro didn't do it. There's very few Bulgarian friends in this semi-final to pull this into the final. No matter what people say it is really hard to believe that this will come anywhere above last.
My Grade: 2.5/10
Qualifier: No

I sadly have to say that I don't think Iceland will be able to make the final this year with this song. It is still a great song and could be a great qualifier. However it is highly unlikely that the majority of the qualifiers will come from the first half of the draw so I don't think it will qualify.
My Grade: 8/10
Qualifier: No

I really don't over like this song. Its fun but for me it is a bit shallow for what I would want to win the Eurovision. This style of song will always do well at the contest particularly when there is a distinct lack of jokish entries. Certainly a qualifier but hard to say where they will come after this.
My Grade: 4.5/10
Qualifier: Yes

This is arguably one of the best ballads in this year's contest and with a strong performance from Moran this should comfortably qualify.
My Grade: 7.5/10
Qualifier: Yes

I really do not like this song. It's dull it's boring and I always skip it when I see it on my player. Having said that I could image that the juries may push this through based on the quality of the voices of the song.
My Grade: 1/10
Qualifier: No

I always have had a soft spot for this song but I don't think that it will qualify based on the reports I have read from the rehearsals. ByeAlex simply is not making a strong enough effort to do well. I can't imagine this making it above 15th place.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier: No

Is there any reason why this song will not make it to the final? Margaret has delivered some very strong performances in the national final and in the rehearsals. This is a strong song and singer. I'm not a huge fan of this song and do not understand why it's so hyped up but it still will do well.
My Grade: 6/10
Qualifier: Yes

From Suus Albania completely changed the style of song they send to Eurovision this year. I was very surprised by this winning FiK and I think that this could do either fairly well or bomb at this year's contest. If it does qualify expect it to receive quite a lot of ex-Yugoslav countries. This is the only real rock song at this year's contest so that cannot be discounted.
My Grade: 4/10
Qualifier: Yes

Clearly this is the most cheesy song I could image at Eurovision - and I love this. Song uses every little trick in the book and I just want to be drawn into it and sing it out loud. This is clearly in the final and a possible winner.
My Grade: 9.5/10
Qualifier: Yes

Switzerland lacks a lot of luster which I though that it would have when it came to Eurovision. It probably won't qualify unless the Salvation Army really gets involved.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier: No

No, just no. I don't like this song. This will do well but I can imagine it not qualifying. It should qualify but I think it could not too.
My Grade: 1.5/10
Qualifier: Yes

So my top 10 are:
12 points - Georgia
10 points - Finland
8 points - Iceland
7 points - San Marino
6 points - Israel
5 points - Malta
4 points - Norway
3 points - Switzerland
2 points - Hungary
1 point - Azerbaijan

So I think the following will qualify to the final:
1. San Marino
2. Azerbaijan
3. Finland
4. Malta
5. Greece
6. Israel
7. Norway
8. Albania
9. Georgia
10. Romania

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Semi-Final of Surprises

Last nights semi-final certainly outperformed my expectations. In a night where people didn't seem to radically differ on opinions of a few songs, I thought this would make for some pleasant but not exciting television. However as usual I was proven wrong. 

Certainly this semi-final delivered a variety of results, some expect and some surprising ones. However it was by no means a repeat of last years Semi-Final 1 shock results.

The usual suspects qualified. Denmark, Ukraine and Russia all flew through more than likely I suspect they scored the top three places in this semi-final.

Moldova and Ireland were also widely expected to qualify and they did. I would also say that Ryan Dolan's performance for Ireland last night was excellent and he did us all proud.

The first real surprise was when Lithuania qualified, written off by everyone I was actually very impressed by the performance in the semi-final though I didn't think that the song was strong enough to allow them to qualify. Belarus, who prompt the quote of the night from my brother ("Why is Amanda Holden coming out of the Kinder egg?") were likely qualifiers in a night that had many northern European and Soviet countries voting in that semi-final. 

Estonia also really impressed me on the night. I though Birgit really raised her game on the night and was way head of her national final performance. Finally, who could forget Belgium and the Netherlands? Both of them must be very proud. I thought both countries gave excellent performances, though I do wonder waas Belgium's score impacted on by the fact he was allowed to perform twice?

Finally who could not notice that none of the Balkan's qualified? Next year I suspect it will be wall to wall Balkan ballad coming out of the south east of Europe but until then they can all hope that Macedonia qualifies so they can throw votes at them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tonight: Semi-Final 1 (Preview)

The day has finally dawned and Eurovision 2013 is upon us. Today the speculation and hypothetical what ifs end. It's time for business to begin, the results are now indeed very real. So whats to look forward to? Who are my favourites and who's going to qualify? Let's take it from the top.

Austria opens this years contest with what is a reasonable song that could do with a somewhat better performance. The song has a good studio version that just cannot be picked up live. This probably is not a qualifier given Natalia's performances but still it should be a respectable opener to the show
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? No

There are many fans out there for whom this Estonian entry is the one that bet Winne-Pooh. For me this is a dull not outstanding song that has its merits but it is completely lost in the overall scale of the contest, despite a fair draw this probably will end up a near qualifier. This though is very well performed.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? No

Though this song is the first truly up-tempo number that the audience will hear there have been many concerns raised about the vocal abilities behind this song and given that these came through in the jury performance this song now seems dead in the water. However I would still maintain that Hanna has a really great song and I enjoy listening to the studio version of this.
My Grade: 6/10
Qualifier? No

Underrated by fans and bookies alike going into this semi-final Croatia looks not just sure of itself but probably the best Balkan song in this years contest. Personally I think this is a great entry and even some of the critics of this song will sure agree that the harmonies are just wonderful. However before rehearsals started I had concerns that this song may struggle in the final as it just does not appear to go anywhere in the song. Though this Klapa entry will surely impress juries, in fact I think it may win the jury vote tonight.
My Grade: 7/10
Qualifier? Yes

In my humble opinion this is the best song in this years contest. Everything about it just appeals to me. As a Eurovision fan this song leaves me in the unusual place where I think that though this is my favourite it may not be the best choice for the contest in the long run. Having said that this will sail into the final tonight.
My Grade: 10/10
Qualifier? Yes

Another song that has it's place booked in the final, but for all the wrong reasons. I see this entry as one which is manufactured and unoriginal. It will do well this year and could possibly win this semi-final, it still is a nice song but I just wish it was stronger.
My Grade: 6/10
Qualifier? Yes

This is another song that I really hope qualifies just to prove to the Dutch that they can do well at the contest. This song as its faults but overall it makes a nice package that should impress on the night.
My Grade: 8/10
Qualifier? Yes

No, just no. I really don't like this song and could think of many others that would have been better choices than a Dubstep entry. I don't get this but given what some influencial people think I'm inclined to see it as a qualifier.
My Grade: 4/10
Qualifier? No

I like this song to an extent but this is just not one that will appeal to the mass audience and will probably not qualify.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? No

It really is a shame that Belarus changed their song and I do not agree with the opinions that if this song was from Turkey we would all be saying that it was a sure qualifier. Given the reports I have heard from Malmo over the last few days I think this would be an unlikely qualifier, but given that we will only be losing six songs this is possible.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? Yes

This is an Eastern European song sung in Romania that will appeal to many people. I see this as a likely qualifier though I think it is a dull song.
My Grade: 6/10
Qualifier? Yes

At this point those of you who have followed the blog with me should know that I am not over keen on this Irish entry, in particular I do not think much of the performance. Having said that I am always very pleased to hear the rather positive feedback and given the late draw and the lack of anything really challenging after it, Ireland should have a positive outlook.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? Yes

No it's not going to qualify, there is much more entertaining songs in this semi-final and more importantly there are better songs that will soak up the jury votes. Not a qualifier in my book though I have enjoyed the song on occasion. 
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? Yes

Some people argue this is looking more and more sure of a qualification, I’m starting to agree with them, though this is only due to the running order position of the song. If this was any earlier in the draw I would have written this off. It’s by no means my favourite song this year but I don’t hate it in spite of only hearing it for the first time on the national final.
My Grade: 5/10
Qualifier? No

I love the Serbian entry this year either as a studio version or as a live performance. This is a sure qualifier given the number of neighbours they have in this semi-final and the song is quite a nice one. How they do on the final night will largely depend on the running position it gets.
My Grade: 8/10
Qualifier? Yes

So my 12 points are as follows:

12 - Denmark
10 - Ukraine
8 - Netherlands
7- Serbia
6 - Croatia
5 - Slovenia
4 - Moldova
3 - Russia
2 - Austria
1 - Cyprus

But my prediction as to who will qualify is:
But of course I will be wrong but I do hope you enjoy the show.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rehearsals Day 2: The Good, The Bad and Ireland

Today saw eight more countries taking to the Eurovision stage to begin rehearsing for the semi-final that takes place in just one weeks time.

The Good
Unlike yesterday where three of the top four on PaddyPower were rehearsing, so today did not bring quite so many shocks. In reality there is no real outstanding song within these eight though I have a soft spot for Serbia.

Serbia, Cyprus, Moldova and Montenegro all had very competent rehearsals today, the strength of Montenegro was probably the only real surprise, it looks like it will seriously challenge for qualification. Seriously though - do they really need the space helmets.

Serbia did try out a couple of different dresses but coming in the last slot in the first semi-final it is a certain qualifier. Personally I love their song and think they could do better than expected overall in the contest.

Moldova and Cyprus both have similar style ballads though Moldova's performance on stage is certainly more elaborate than Cyprus's. Either way they may still struggle to qualify as they are both fairly dull ballads.

The Bad
Bad is a rather strong word in the context of today's rehearsals. However Belarus, Lithuania and Belgium were all songs that may not be sure of a place in the final and today did them no favours. Belarus just does not have the stage presence, Belgium still had trouble with the vocals and Lithuania probably would be fine if it were not for the attempt to use sunglasses for the performance - like, seriously?

However none of the performances today screamed that there was a serious underlying issue to do with the song or singer. There's nothing that could not be improved on for the second round of rehearsals and I will be keeping a close eye on these and watching with anticipation.

Finally we come to Ireland. Reaction to the Irish rehearsal today has been very mixed and has ranged from "fine but nothing special" to "dire" and having seen some of the videos online for the performance in my opinion it is a walking, singing disaster. Nothing is right about the performance, absolutely nothing. The background is uninspired throwing a pile of Celtic symbols in the background of what is meant to be a club song. Vocally there are many problems and the choice of dress for the occasion is brutal. Whoever advised them on dress for Eurovision clearly was having a laugh.

Suffice to say I don't think we've a hope of qualifying on this performance and Ireland really need to up their game if they want to stand a chance on Tuesday next.

More tomorrow as the Semi-final 2 rehearsals kick off.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 1: Rehearsals As Observed In Dublin

Eurovision 2013 really took it up a gear as rehearsals kicked off in Malmo today. So what did we learn today?

The Stage Looks Amazing
I'm really pleased with the overall stage. I was afraid it would be a bit too much like the 2010 stage when SVT were making some many budget cutbacks.

Semi-Final 1 has a dull start
Despite the EBU's shouting about the importance of not using a random order for the draw SF1 still will have a fairly dull opening of Austria, Estonia, Slovenia and Croatia will only have Slovenia to liven the mood.

There was no major surprises today
This nearly was the biggest surprise of all. It is early days yet, though some surprises may come nothing about any of the songs. Austria and Croatia remain borderline qualifiers though I think that Croatia are still an amazing song. Slovenia was the only country with any real vocal problems though given that this is only the first rehearsal there's a lot of time to iron out problems.

Denmark, Ukraine and Russia all remain some of the strongest songs in the competition and all could conceivably win the contest overall, though I remain unconvinced that Russia will be able to do this, given the votes in that block that will go to Ukraine which has a far more original song.

Of course tomorrow I will be very much looking forward to the Irish rehearsal and will be giving some reaction to it tomorrow.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

On Your Marks, Get Set

Rehearsals for Eurovision 2013 begin at 10:00 am tomorrow and of course for any fan this should give us a more interesting insight into what the Eurovision Song Contest this year looks like and how the competition will pan out.

Sadly for me this year I will not have the time I had last year to sit in front of my computer and enjoy all the updates that come from Malmo as unfortunately UCD decided to schedule their summer exams during the two weeks of the contest.

For me this is quite a dull year. I think last year was the absolute climax for me and this year the combination of lack of time and the fact that none of the entries are really motivating me this year. Yes I want to see Denmark on stage when the credits role on Saturday the 18th May, however unlike many other years the songs that are also potential winners are very good in their own right and probably would do a lot for the image of the contest.

In fact, I am in unusual place where I believe the song I want to win is not the one that I think would be best for this contest in the long run. This has never arisen for me before and probably is what leaves me rather unmotivated for 2013.

Nevertheless over the next two weeks I will be following with interest reading all that I can trying to understand what is happening on the ground in Malmo and trying to answer the question we all want to know. Who will be the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Odds Are...(Semi-finals)

With less than two weeks until Eurovision itself really kicks off in Malmo, its time to have a look at what the odds are like are there any really good bets out there? Has a bookie failed to keep their site prefectly up to date with the latest Eurovision news? Anything is possible.

Semi Final 1
Semi-Final 1 interestingly contains some songs that are very well positioned for a win or certainly a top 10 finish however it is also characterised by some of the poorest songs in this years contest.

Most interestingly in this market, though Paddy Power have Denmark as the favourite to win the contest outright they think it has a lower probability of winning semi 1. This is certainly an anomaly, though in recent years it is by no means sure that the winner of a semi-final will win the contest outright. For people who are looking for a fairly sure bet this is probably one of the better offers you will find this year.

For people who are super-prudent each way gamblers, it is interesting to note that the top four countries on Paddy Power all are drawn in the first half of semi-final one. Probability would suggest that surely one of the second half will make the top 3. Belarus is 10/1 which would make a fine each way bet as indeed is Serbia (14/1).

For those who like to qualify betting whether to drown their sorrows even if a song does qualify or whether the song is just worth that punt. Croatia seems like the most likely of the lesser songs to qualify for the final so at 8/11 it's a good bet. As a fan I do notice that the odds of any song qualifying are very, very short this year which shows how close a semi-final will be.

Semi Final 2
As keen fans of the contest will know the winner of this years' contest will more than likely come from semi-final 1, however there are still some interesting bets available for fans.

If your a Margaret Berger fan Norway are just 7/4 on Paddy Power, which, given that they are in the last slot in the second semi-final, makes them well worth a bet. Azerbaijan, at 5/1 may also suit the risk taker, particularly given that they are in the graveyard that is the fourth slot in the semi-final.

Semi-final 2 is much harder to call than semi-final 1, so it could go any way. If your not a risk taker, I would not recommend betting on semi 2.

As regards qualification I would say Finland at 1/3 is well worth a short and is fairly undervalued at this price. Switzerland also could just squeeze over the line so at 10/11 it may well be worth a shot.

My thoughts on the final tomorrow.

Monday, April 1, 2013

From Rona To This: Albania - The Review

Festival I Kenges is by far and away one of the strangest national final formats currently in existence for Eurovision. Not because it has a confusing format (if you don’t mind annual format changes) but it throws out some of the most random winners compared with an national final format, with no set pattern nor any sign of a theory emerging about what constitutes a good song in FiK. Last year certainly was a year which gave me great confidence in the Albanian selection process and as followers of this blog will know I was a huge fan of her and her song.
Despite that confidence building moment Albania have taken that and smashed it into many pieces, leaving me curled up in a corner rocking back and forth screaming about the advantages of public selection. Why you might ask? Well, I’m not convinced that sending Adrian Lulgjurai and Bledar Sejko and their song idenditet was the right choice. Firstly I think that it is too much of a pop/rock song to do very well at the contest. Secondly I think the FiK performance didn’t suggest anything special about the pair that will bring them through the glass curtain and into peoples living rooms.
The song itself is probably one which is a bit too rockish for me to like it. However I like parts of the song however there are other parts of it that just turn me off. The song is very Balkan sounding even for a rock song.
Overall the success of this song depends on the jury support it receives. It may come in the public’s top 10 in the semi-final but if the juries don’t support it its dead in the water.
Verdict: It just feels that Albania has learned nothing from last year. This still feels like this song could come from any FiK final.
Grade: D- (42%)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Switzerland: The Review

Switzerland surprised everyone this year by failing to be the first country to pick their song for Eurovision 2013, piped at the post by Belarus who rushed through their final, once again though we were reminded that Belarus need to rush through their selection as there may be more to come…Switzerland are always a country who put on a good show for a national final, and though we might not always agree with the result it is still something to watch in December.

I quite like the Swiss entry this year I think it offers quite a lot. You and Me is a very please song, though I was not completely impressed by it when I first heard it. My fear for this entry is it may be lost on the night but it does have the advantage of not being surrounded by rock entries which would may have been the case it earlier years.

My issue with this is that the songs appeal, and probably what made it stand out so much at the national final was the songs association with the Salvation Army. Due to the nature of the rules of the contest, this advantage, which would have distinguished it from other entries, will be gone on stage. So it is difficult to say that it will be as distinctive as it was in the national final.

Verdict: A difficult call at this point, a strong song which could be lost in Eurovision but I am going to support it and say that it has the potential to do well. However I don’t think this will trouble the top 10.

Grade: C 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eurovision 2013

Yesterday the heads of delegations met in Sweden to finalise the list of this year’s entries and to discuss some smaller and more mirco aspects of the contest. This meeting rarely tells us anything important but it does mark the end of national final season 2013 – and what a year it has been.

However now it is time for the real Eurovision debate to begin. 39 entries only one will leave as the winner? That’s the big question.
2013 will never stand out as a unique year of original entries. Empirical generalisations would appear to suggest that most countries have played it safe when picking entries, meaning that very few countries have selected something original. There has been a noticeable absence of really strong entries this year. It is unlikely that we will see the cutting edge performances like Euphoria or the tear-jerkingly amazing vocal performance of Pastora Soler. Norway is probably the only country really bucking this trend. Margaret Berger’s song is one of the strongest and most original entry this year.

What are the bookies saying?

The early frontrunners are the Scandinavian entries. Denmark, Norway and Sweden lead the odds on Paddy Power, followed closely by Netherlands. The problem here is that when a region of Europe all produces very strong entries it becomes very difficult for one of them to gather all of the votes. Instead they take over the top 10. However in other years we’ve seen two Nordic countries come in the top 5. If we broadly define the UK as a part of Northern Europe then we may also note that 2009 had three northern European countries in the top 5.

The Big 5
The Big 5 have produced a very mixed range of songs. The UK’s entry will probably advance their place on last year but it is difficult to image Bonny Tyler on the left hand side of the scoreboard. Similarly France have missed the boat again this year, though Spain’s entry is a bit below average it still is well received. Italy’s strong entry is similarly well receive. Germany’s entry is the strongest of the big 5.

What do I think?

Straight forward as predictions are it is a very, very hard year to call. The strength of northern Europe and the Caucus states such as Georgia, mean that some countries may lose out of qualifying for the final. I have been leaning towards Denmark of late though some other entries have caught my eye.
My full reviews of ESC will begin soon then I might be better able to put names on who will do well.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Who Can Win Melodifestivalen 2013?

Whatever you may say about the schlager festival that is Melodifestivalen at the end of the day it will always be the most revered national selection there is and will always have a certain element of magic to it. This year though it has taken some strange turns and some very big surprises have occurred. The question that now remains is who to select as the winner of Melodifestivalen. Who should represent Sweden on homeground? I shall offer few thoughts....

Ulrik Munther will open tonight's show with his fairly formulaic Melodifestivalen song Tell The World I'm Here, not a bad effort but he does appear to have fallen out of favour with Christer Bjorkman. It's not the best song of the night and given the presence of so many male soloists and so many acts targeting the teen girl age group I find it difficult to see him getting a massive televote. However he may score well with the international juries.

David Lindgren follows Ukrik with a similar genre of song. The two of them drew for third place last year with David picking up more televotes than Ulrik. Though his song is good it is far from outstanding tonight and will certainly struggle given the running order position. David is followed by the lukewarm State of Drama and their good *yawn* song Falling. Another group who will be cannibalised in the televote, probably because of Yohio, they could pick up votes from the international juries.

In fourth we have Anton Ewald, the pick of some of the Swedish newspapers and leading the plays on Spotify. Personally I think this song is good but this would be a bad choice for Eurovision as it would be very difficult to organise the backing vocals without pre-recorded ones. Fifth in the running order is the only female act, Louise Hoffsten and her song Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream, I like this but I cannot imagine myself picking up the phone and voting for it nor can I see it getting massive points from International Juries.

Sixth we have one of the favourites, Ralf Gyllenhammar, with his song Bed On Fire. In my opinion this is the most likely winner tonight. This is such a strong song and is so well performed from a technical perspective that this is certainly going to go top three tonight. If this is leading when the international juries have voted then this could well take the televote too.

After Ralf is my second favourite act, Ravaillacz, I think that this would be an ideal song to represent Sweden but for some reason I cannot help but wonder will this get any points from juries? Then it is followed by a more serious joke act, Sean Banan. Once again I can't see this getting to many jury votes, but I expect to see this in the top 5.

Robin Stjernberg follows with his song You, personally I think this would be a very strong choice but given that it came from Andra Chansen it probably will not win. Finally we have Yohio. OR The Ark less a number of years. This is an unusual favourite. Though SVT are pushing it for the win I find it difficult to believe this has mass appeal across Europe, however I do think they have a good song.

Whatever happens tonight it is going to be very, very close and there will be no landslide winner. I expect jury votes to left right and center and the public winner will not get 20% of the vote.

My votes are:
12 - Ralf Gyllenhammar
10 - Ravaillacz
8 - Robin Stjernberg
6 - Yohio
4 - Louise Hoffsten
2 - David Lindgren
1 - Sean Banan

My Predictions:
1st - Ralf Gyllenhammar
2nd - Yohio (by less than 10 points)
3rd Robin Stjernberg

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Believe In Me - This Is Not The Same As Last Year

This morning we woke up to the news that Bonnie Tyler is to represent the UK at Eurovision. I don't think that there was anyone who was not surprised by that news. 

Personally I am reasonably happy with the news. I think that Bonnie is actually a reasonable choice for Eurovision. 

Though some have argued today that this is an extension of the strategy employed by the BBC last year I argue that though The Hump didn't score well last year does not mean that this is an aimless strategy. Also I argue that Bonnie Tyler is a better and more appealing singer. This does not mean that I think the UK is going to win the contest by any stretch. However I do think that a mid-table finish is perfectly achievable and with all things going the UK's way this could sneak into the top 10.

Yes there are problems with this strategy, but I do think that there is a certain level of pessimism amongst many British fans of the contest that feel the BBC has abandoned Eurovision. I am skeptical that this is a complete flop by the BBC and think that this entry may outperform expectations.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Hangover Weekend

Picture the scene: You wake up after a night out. It's the afternoon, you don't remember what happened last night. You look on Facebook.......there's pictures. Lots of pictures. You stare at your computer screen and think "Oh God!"

Well that's how I feel about this Eurovision weekend. Left, Right and Centre - what did Europe do this weekend? There have been some very suspect song selections by any accounts.

Serbia just about got it right but they had five very strong songs in their final; so they don't really deserve a clap for that. They sent Moje 3 to Eurovision with the song Ljubav Je Svuda - I really like the performance. You can watch the video here.

Estonia made the very strange choice of sending Birgit Oigemeel to Eurovision with the song Et Uus Saaks Alguse. I though there were some much better entries in this year's Eesti Laul, so there certainly has been some missed opportunities there. You can watch the winning song here.

Bulgaria have really lost the plot. After having the brains to send Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulou back to Eurovision they made a very unsmart song selection of Kismet. It is like Water only not nearly as good. It really is not a strong song selection by any one's judgement and should continue to keep Bulgaria in the semi-finals. Listen to the song here.

Armenia had already chosen their singer so Gor Sujyan was already going to Eurovision. Now we know he will go with the song Lonely Planet, which in my opinion is a fairly poor song from Armenia, they are capable of much better. Listen to the song here.

Hungary choose ByeAlex and the song Kedvesem to represent them at Eurovision a surprising (but awful) choice and, well ByeAlex just says it all. Watch the performance here.

Other Song Choices

I haven't had the chance to really dig into some of the other songs that have been presented lately and am trying to catch up on them, however I really am impressed by Georgia's song Waterfall - well done Thomas G:sson.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Who Will Estonia Send To Malmo?

Estonia a country of just 1.2 million people is certainly a country that punches way above it's weight in terms of quality of national final. So though I will be glued to Andra Chansen tonight others will be watching Essti.This morning I look at Estonia briefly, so let's see what's happening there:

Rolf Roosalu – With U
A remarkably unusual Eesti Laul song given that there is nothing remarkable to make this Estonian which is normally a theme of the songs in the Estonian national final. This song probably is pitched at the fans of Kuula last year, it bears many similar characteristics of last year’s entry though it just is not as outstanding and doesn’t jump out at me as much as Kuula did, nevertheless it is an impressive song which is well sung. Grade: A-

Liisi Koilson Ja Sooromoo – Ule Vee
Sorry I could not get all the dots above her name. This is a gentle bouncy song which patters along. It’s nice to have in the background but I fear that it just will not stand out enough to make an impression in the national final. It’s a bit forgettable. Grade: C

Facelift Deer – Dance
Tries to be old school boom town rats or similar – fails miserably. Grade: F

Elina Born – Enough
Elina has a good song but when I watched a preview video she was singing it live and this was not good as I imagine the studio version is. All the other songs have been judged based on their studio version so it seems not right to judge this based on the live version. Grade: B-

Pohja Tallinn – Meil On Aega Veel
Here it is – The Estonian choir song, sadly with added rap in Estonian which makes the overall song feel like a scratched CD. Can’t understand how Estonia would convince the EBU to take a large enough crowd onstage to let them produce the sound of the chorus of this song. Grade: D

Korsikud – Suuda Oelda Ei
I should like this but I don’t like it as much as I should. However it does build into a more substantial song as it goes on but I fear it is taking too long to do this. It reminds me a lot of Christmas, but do I want to think about this in May? Grade: B

Birgit Oigemeel – Et Uus Saaks Alguse
Another gentle song still I don't think that it will go to far tonight but it is difficult to say, this is a little forgettable though. Far from outstanding but makes a soft impact. Grade: C

Teele & Tuuli & Ula – Ring The Alarm
There’s a certain amount of Amy Winehouse in this song. The verses are somewhat weak but at the same time I quite like the chorus – It grows on you. Grade: B

Winny Puhh – Meiecundimees Uks Korsakov Laks Eile Latte
No – seriously Estonia? I’ve heard pigs dying who have made better sounds.Grade: NG

Grete Paia – Paastke Noored Hinged
This is why I listen to Eesti Laul, for all the overly strong pop songs sometimes it all just works and for this I solute you Estonia. This is the first song I have actually wanted to listen to a bit more, this is simply excellent. Grade: A

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ireland - Oh Ireland

Smart followers of this blog may have noticed have noticed that things have been quiet lately. Unfortunately I've been extremely busy lately. Anyhow tomorrow night Ireland decides on their Eurovision entry. Being Irish I've always been very strongly interested to see who my fellow Irishmen and women choose.

Unlike general practice on this blog I've decided not to put up reviews. In all honesty each song has it's merits and these should be acknowledged, together with their faults.

Inchequin probably are the weakest contenders and I'd say have the least chance of going to Eurovision. Even if the public were to vote for this song I'd think the juries will not rank it very highly. I do note though that it did win the poll over on Wiwiblogs. Though not quite the favourite I'd say Amiee Fitzpatrick has the best chance of going to ESC, largely because she only has the only ballad in the contest. Then we come to the three club songs. I sincerely hope that one of these will be sent. They offer Ireland the best chance at Eurovision, largely because they are very different. I hope that the best vocalist will come through and we will judge them based on that.

May the best song win. I'll talk to you on Twitter.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Great ESC Night - Oh and Sweden Have Lost Their Minds

So tonight was another great night of Eurovision. Latvia picked their song, Italy picked their artist and Sweden and Estonia held semi-finals so the highlights:

  • Latvia will send PeR (I hope my capitalisation is correct) with their song Here We Go - Its not bad at all (By Latvian standards). You can watch it here.
  • Italy have decided to send Marco Mengoni to Eurovision. There's no point trying to predict the song he will take to ESC. Not a bad choice though. There is an awful lot to say for the quality of San Remo as a selection process, even if it goes on all night.
  • In Estonia five qualifiers made it to the final including one of my favourite songs in this national final season, Paastke Noored Hinged by Grete Paia. You can watch her performance here.
  • In Sweden, another surprise result was delivered when State of Drama and Ravaillacz qualified to the final and Caroline Af Ugglas and Martin Rolenski went to Andra Chansen. This was by all accounts a surprise especially when Amanda Fonndell and Janet Leon were both knocked out. If you combine this with last weeks result its another big surprise. Really you'd wonder what is going on in Sweden....
  • Something happened in Hungary - Read about it here.
Enjoy your weekend - talk soon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's A Bit Tricky

Unfortunately my computer's broke so the pace of things on the blog may get a little quieter on blog for a while.

I will be very interested in what happens in Germany tomorrow...can Die Priester win?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It's Not A Winner And Never Will Be

Pipe down Eurovision fans! I know Margaret Berger won in Norway and this was a good choice on the part of the Norwegian public however let's remember that this song did not exact win by a landslide.

The song as a lot of risks to it. Margaret may not be able to move this to Eurovision. The song will need very strong backing vocalists to sing with Margaret. There is no sure way of saying this will work.

Furthermore, let's remember that Margaret only won MGP with 90000 public televotes. Tooji managed to score 130000 and look where he finished. Stella scored in excess of 240000. She also was the first contender not to win all of the regions of Norway. Scoring only 900 televotes in the North.

This is a lot of good about this entry, but still it has none of the signs of a potential winner. So pipe down - you'd think Green was coming back to Eurovision.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not As Bad As I Thought, Norway

In advance of the Norwegian national final today, I've been looking at what is on offer, and despite some of the my protests ahead of some of the semi finals I think at this point that Norway are left with a fairly strong national final. OK, it's not Melodifestivalen, but it's not as poor as UMK in Finland. Most importantly songs that were of little unique value were eliminated. But now, let's look at what is left:

Annasofi - I'm With You
It's a pleasant song from Annasofi, but a far cry from Fairytale. Annasofi is able to perform this song with the grace it needs. A really nice song, with great instruments, but an unlikely superfinalist. Grade:B

Gromth feat. Emil Solli Tangen - Alone
I'm not a fan of this by any strech. It's a poor mix of rock and opera. Though it won the semi final it would an unlikely winner as it will struggle in the Superfinal against Margaret Berger, who's song is similar and appeals to the same audience. Grade: D-

Vidar Busk - Paid My Way
Does anyone actually care? This is a fairly average song that came third in the semi-final and arguably the weakest semi-final at that. Hasn't a hope of winning, really average song that we've all seen before. Not a superfinalist either. Grade: D

Lucky Lips
Like Vidar Busk, this has little hope of winning. Honestly I don't understand why there is a jury wildcard in Norway. If the public already put nine songs into a final why another in with it? Grade: C-

Fjellfolk - Ultetuva
Fjellfolk have certainly got the most Scandinavian sounding song in this year's contest. A strange combination of folk, ballad and rhythm, it's got a lot to it and surprised me when it came second in semi-final 2. This is an unlikely winner but I would not be surprised to see it in the Superfinal. Personally I really like this song and hope it does well. Grade: B+

Datarock - The Underground
Out-of-date, cheesy and meaningless lyrics, surely this has Eurovision written all over it. This bounce pop song is certainly one of my favourites but its failure to win the semi-final mean I Am doubtful it can win tonight a possible superfinalist, that is all. Grade: A-

Gaute Ormasen - Awake
Most unremarkable song in this year's contest. Grade: D+

Sirkus Eliaseen - I Love You Te Quiero
Joke entry alert! This stupid but catchy rap song could conceivably do well. However if it went to Eurovision it would go the same direction as the Trackshittaz. Grade: B-

Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love
Arguably the most controversial entry in this year's MGP. It is the bookies favourite and very, very divisive. It is a strange combination of ballad and rock. If it wins expect to see similar divisions to Suus. I like this but its not my favourite. Certainly the most likely winner. Grade: A-

Aledén - Bombo
The biggest surprise of MGP this year was when this won the third semi-final. Second favourite with the bookies, the Mediterranean pop song is a delight and helped by the fanatic looking Aledén. Its my favourite in Norway and I'd love to see it at Eurovision. Grade: A

I'm away for the weekend so I don't have the time to be on Twitter. May the best song win.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

RTÉ Plays It Safe

Today RTÉ premiered the five songs in the 2013 national final. Generally speaking there is four club songs and one ballad involved. I'm somewhat impressed by what RTÉ have come up with. I think that by RTÉ standards this is one of the strongest national finalists we have seen in a number of years. Having said that this is not a miracle - it's an improvement.

As regards individual entries I will post more formal reviews but in the meantime, I think that this is a straight fight between Ryan Dolan and Aimee Fitzpatrick. Ryan probably will benefit from Kasey and Zoe are probably too similar and will cancel each other's vote. As the male Ryan stands a strong chance. Aimee also has a great chance having the only ballad in the competition and that cannot be discounted.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bookies Pay Day In Ireland

Today, as some of you may have seen RTÉ released the names of the five acts that will be trying to represent  Ireland in this year's Eurovision song contest. Suffice to say that I am somewhat disappointed by the list of names that they have released. It's a good day for the bookies as none of the names released were on Paddy Powers lists before the announcement.

The five acts are: Zoe Alexis Bohorquez; Ryan Dolan; Aimee Fitzpatrick; Incheqin and Kasey.

Nope! I haven't heard of any of the either. All I can say is that Zoe and Aimee are the favourites in early betting. While it is nice to see that it will not be Jedward this year I think I shall hold back my most grating comments until after the Mooney Show, where the songs will be presented tomorrow. Though I have classes during these times, I will be updating the blog and Twitter page later in the evening.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Isn't That What National Finals Are All About?

After a surprising night of national finals and semi-finals we've two more Eurovision entries, and many songs have been eliminated in the quest to find a Eurovision entry. Many people have been shocked to see some of the choices made in some of the shows yesterday. But really is this not The story continues....

Malta have selected Gianluca Bezzina, to represent them in Malmo, with his song "Tomorrow". It's a delightfully bouncy song and might do well at Eurovision. On reflection though it was not my favourite entry in Malta, it probably was the best selection. Hear Gianluca's song here.

What could have been one of the most embrassing stories to come from they put a story up on saying that Amber had won the Maltese selection about one hour before results were due to be announced

In one of the Iceland's most surprising moves they selected Bill Bailey Thomas G:sson Eybor Ingi Gunnlaugsson to represent them in Malmo. By all accounts it is a poor choice from a fairly selection which is a same given the strong run that Iceland have had since 2008. You can listen to the song here.

Melodifestivalen is my favourite national final and despite its critics last year it is able to produce some really great songs. In last nights semi-final Daivd Lindgren and YOHIO progressed to the final directly with Eric Gadd and Cookies 'N' Beans going to Andra Chansen.

Unusually and surprisingly SVT do not appear to have censored the songs progressing in the contest from the internet, perhaps they understand that at this stage they would have some job to do that. They also have left the semi-final up on their site and you can watch it here. 

I was also very impressed with Danny and Gina as presenters the interval act was very impressive. Well done!

Three more songs have made it to the final in Norway. Gaute Ormasen, Sirkus Eliassen and Aledén all qualified. The most surprising of these was Aledén who came in first place. As far as I can see this had nothing to do with her legs.

I don't pay much attention to Hungary so I shall let escXtra fill you in.

So we can all look forward to next weekend when Norway and Finland will select their entries.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Who Can Malta Choose?

The lengthily Maltese national final takes place tonight and after a long semi-final last night will anyone be awake? Last night was fairly unsurprising and succeed in eliminating some of the real junk though surprisingly knocked out one of my favourites, Klinssman. Anyway what can the choose from tonight?

Scar – Superstar
I’m half expecting either the wimax ad (You’d have to be Irish to understand) or else a tribute act to Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan. This is certainly a potential winner but I still am not convinced this is an ideal Eurovision choice. Grade: B

Dorothy Bezzina – Starting From The End
I never got Dorothy, her songs are always very good vocally but are never particularly warm. This one is no different. Probably will do well with juries. Grade: E-

Corazon Mizzi – My Stranger Love
Corazon’s song is probably similar in ways to other songs in this national final. However something about her voice makes me think that she might just standout a little more in the national final however perhaps I just prefer her voices to others in MESC this year. Grade: D-

Jessica Muscat – Ultraviolet
Can fiery red heads go to Eurovision? Yes of course, remember Niamh Kavanagh? Certainly Jessica has a pretty distinctive look. Her song is also fairly good and reminds me a bit of Lena Meyer Landrut. Maybe has an outside chance? Grade: B-

Gianni – Us Against The World
Gianni may have his fans from last year but I doubt that they will be overly impressed with this teen pop song that really is unimpressive. Last year I had him down as someone who could represent Malta at Eurovision in the future, however I don’t think 2013 is the future. Grade: D

Davinia Pace – Betrayed
I don’t like this, for no reason at all. I just don’t. Sorry. Grade: G

Kevin Borg - Needing You
For some reason I overlooked this last night and when I was writing up my first reviews. This is a strong ballad but that's only by Maltese standards. It doesn't really go that far. Grade: D

Richard Edwards – Fall Like Rome
Seasoned MESC competitor returns with another dramatic song. This is certainly one of the more stand out song in MESC however I still wonder if he could actually win given that he has missed out so many times before this. Never the less I think this is a possible winner and could be in Malmo. Grade: B+

Janice Debattista – Perfect Day
This is a vanilla song, plain and simple. Not that it is never a bad idea to err on the side of caution in a national final this is just lacking in many areas and there are so many similar songs in this national final. Grade: E

Deborah C – Love-O-Holic
This is my favourite song in the competition. I loved Deborah last year and once again I find myself in the same position this year. Sadly vocally she was way off last year, hopefully the year has done her some good. If this worked it could have a chance of winning but if it goes wrong it surely won’t be as bad as last year. Grade: A

Claudia Faniello – When It’s Time
Claudia is back for yet another national final with yet another dull song. Personally speaking I think if they weren’t go to send her with the song Pure I cannot imagine her doing well enough with this one. It is dull and predictable. Grade: E+

Gianluca Bezzina – Tomorrow
Anyone else thinking Train’s Hey Soul Sister? Certainly I am. I think this is somewhat like it but none the less this is a very sweet song and Gianluca’s charisma helps to boost the song. A strong entry that may well win. Grade: B+

Chris Grech – Never Walk Away
Another plain song with some U2 overtones. Chris is quite an introverted performer so this song may not come across as well as it should. Slow rock songs also don’t tend to do extremely well in national finals. Grade: E+

Petra/Richard Edwards – Wonderful Today
I personally would prefer their individual song than this duet. It really does not show off Richard’s vocal abilities and the age difference (apologies if there is no difference). Taxi for this one then. Grade: E

Amber – In Control
Also a dull song. It tries to be right but gets it so wrong. Grade: E+

Dominique Azzopardi – Too Little Too Late
Another dull ballad. Dominique has a delicate and gentle voice but it still will not take away from the fact that the song really is just not that outstanding. Grade: E+

Melodifestivalen Semi Final 1: Review

Unfortunately thanks to SVT's bizarre ideas I have to construct a review from clips of less than one minute but lets give it a bash anyway

David Lindgren - Skyline
A strong song to open the competition. David returns from a very successful debut in Melodifestivalen last year. This is broadly what we expected from David this year. This is the favourite to go to the final from this semi-final, and is second favourite to win overall. It also is notable that he won the vote in the dress rehearsal. Personally I was never the greatest fan of this type of song, it feels very hollow. Nevertheless it's still good. Certainly a qualifier and possibly more. Grade: A-

Cookies 'N' Beans - Burning Flags
Seasoned Melodifestivalen competitors Cookies 'N' Beans return to Melodifestivalen with a song by Frederick Kempe. The song itself is fairly old-fashioned Melodifestivalen, however it is endearing in a strange sort of way. Personally I like this but don't think it has a hope. Grade: B

Jay-Jay Johnson - Paris
Debut Melodifestivalen performer Jay-Jay comes with an unusual song with some French influences (at least that's what I think they are). It is a very odd song to listen to the first time round but still, it has its charms. I find it difficult to believe that enough people will be able to listen to this the first time round and get it. So it will be in the running for last place in the semi-final in my view, still a very creative and different song. Grade: C+

Mary N'diaye - Gosa
Once again we have another new Melodifestivalen performer. Mary brings an upbeat pop song with African influences. It's pleasant to listen to but I think we've seen this before with Stella Mawagi - it may sound a little different but it still is not up to the required standard. Grade: C

Eric Gadd - Vi Kommer Aldrig Att Forlora
A rather dull song from Eric with far to much drumming for the overall song. This is just not what I like. That said the song has a nice tune that would be nice without the drumming but if it was entered without the drums then it would be a fairly dull song and would not advance in the competition. Do drums really make a difference? No. Grade: C-

YOHIO - Heartbreak Hotel
Another one of the highly tipped to do well in this semi final. This is a strong rock song but still it is lacking in something and though it could do well I'm not sure this is the right song for the popular band. This might be more of an Andra Chansen then a Finalist. Personally, as many of you may guess rock is not a genre I was ever a fan of. Grade: D

Anna Jarvinen - Porslin
A very surprising song is in seventh position. Anna's song reminds me of some of the Eurovision entries that might be found in the 1970's particularly the early part of that decade. This song is sweet but is it a finalist?, probably not. The one minute clip of the song is last part of the song which not really that dramatic. Still I like this. Grade: B

Michael Feiner & Caisa - We're Still Kids
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you return of Epic Sax man Mark II. This is a fun pop song from the duet. I just love this song, though then again I was a Bjorn Ranelid fan. Though some might not put this direct to the final I think that the Swedish public probably will go for this, particularly as it is in the last running spot in the final. Grade: A

So I hope you enjoy the evening and let's all hope for a fair result.