A relatively straightforward Eurovision season comes to a close tonight. The Grand Final running order has given us a good idea of what finished where in the semi-finals.
It looks like The Netherlands won the high-quality semi-final 2, and so they were duly placed in slot number 12 after drawing the first half. It’s performing extremely well in YouTube views and iTunes downloads and is favourite to win the jury vote. An odds-on price to win the contest is therefore justified. This is the standout song and vocal performance of the year, guaranteed to be right up there with both televoters and juries and could be winning fairly comfortably tonight.
Russia probably massively underperformed in the second semi, perhaps finishing as low as fifth. Sweden quite possibly beat Russia there as they were given slot number 9 compared to Russia in 5. Both look to be out of the running from where I’m sitting. Sergey’s downloads are massively down on what they were three years ago, and John’s YouTube views are abysmal. I’ve been sceptical of Sweden’s televote appeal ever since Melodifestivalen and Russia doesn’t have the song quality.
Switzerland was almost certainly Top 3 in the second semi, which is highly impressive from such a poor running order. Similarly, I also think Azerbaijan will have landed a podium position from the pimp slot. Looking at the running order, these two songs are my idea of second and third place in tonight’s final. Switzerland has the best uptempo package of the year and benefits from magnificent and stylish staging concept by Sacha Jean-Baptiste (of ‘Fuego’ and ‘Beautiful Mess’ fame). It looks like she will be adding another runner up placing to her cv. ‘She Got Me’ is perfectly positioned for partying televoters, it’s performing the best on iTunes downloads and it’s a solid, jury-friendly package with stylish staging. If there is to be a surprise winner tonight, this should be it. Azerbaijan will likely beat Russia as it’s a song and performance that will appeal to televoters and juries all over, not to mention the much later starting position.
I’m not buying the Australia hype, I’m afraid. The staging offers a spectacle and is the kind of thing lots of people tune in to Eurovision to watch. In the context of the final, however, it isn’t as strong and the song itself doesn’t feel like it’s respectable enough to win the whole thing. It’s not performing well on iTunes downloads at all, but I do think it will do better than the stats suggest. Juries have shown their aversion to opera and popera songs many times and there are stronger songs and packages for them to go for in the final. It’s far too short in the winner market, though I can see why casual punters would back this one after seeing the performance.
The other big ‘novelty’ act of the year is, of course, Iceland. I’ve been really impressed with the staging and performance with this one. I’m standing by the opinion of this entry I’ve had from the start in that it is going to ‘Yodel It!’ into the Top 10 with a robust Saturday night televote. Like Australia, if it was going to win overall it would have been performing much better in downloads/streams and would have finished higher with Eurojury. In a nutshell; viewers will love the performance, but not enough people will like the actual song.
Elsewhere, Italy feels strong enough to easily land in the Top 10. Despite people being underwhelmed with the staging, this has a very cool overall impression and Mahmood delivers the song with plenty of passion from the second half. France doesn’t have the best song or performer, but it still ticks plenty of boxes and enough people should fall for the incredibly cynical staging concept that celebrates diversity. Outsiders have a great record at Eurovision and I think Bilal should just about reach the Top 10.
The last place in my Top 10 prediction feels like a crapshoot, but I have settled on Greece. This probably did very well in semi-final 1, is a solid jury song and Greece has been reunited with the rest of its allies who performed in the other semi. If televoters can lift the likes of Iceland and France into the Top 10, juries can also do the same with Greece.
Other possibilities for the Top 10 include Cyprus, Malta, Spain and Czech Republic. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of those land there, though I won’t be betting on it. Norway looked like the best value Top 10 lay this week at odds-on, despite doing well in downloads. They had a technical problem during last night’s jury performance and crucially were not allowed to perform again. It’s a poor song for juries anyway and will always go down much better with the televoters who are more inclined to vote for tacky Eurotrash. We usually only get two Nordics in the Top 10 and I would favour both Sweden and Iceland there.
Germany is my idea of last place, as it has been ever since I first heard the song. Any casual viewers betting on the UK to finish last will lose their money as Michael Rice sounded excellent in front of the juries last night and it’s always been a jury-friendly song.
Here’s my Top 10 prediction in order;
1. The Netherlands
It has been a pleasure writing for you all throughout this Eurovision season. Best of luck to everyone for tonight’s final.