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French Resistance

May 12, 2018 by

French Resistance

Possibly the most volatile, crazy, unpredictable Eurovision season ever will come to an end this evening. If someone had told me before departing the UK a few weeks ago that come Grand Final day, Cyprus and Ireland would be among the top 3 market leaders, I would have politely advised them to keep taking the funny pills.

Most traders have been left feeling punch-drunk from the dramatic plunges and brutal drifts the Betfair Outright market has undergone this year and even now, a few hours before the big event gets underway, there remain significant doubts about how it will all play out.

Arriving in Lisbon, Israel felt the worthy favourite but a fragile, beatable one, and that has remained the pervading view throughout the 2 weeks of rehearsals. Netta was excellent in front of the juries last night. It still feels to me like the strongest uptempo song in this year’s competition, the staging is enormous fun and it also showcases Netta’s impressive vocal prowess and performance skills. But it remains a little bit ‘out there’ and potentially alienating, especially in its first 30 seconds.

With Cyprus again given the later r.o. slot in the final, we can probably assume Cyprus beat Israel in semi 1. Eleni Foureira does an incredible job elevating ‘Fuego’. In studio form it is a primitive pop track but her and her dance troupe, along with some inspired Sasha JB visuals, elevate it out of all recognition as a live entity on the Eurovision stage.

The nagging doubt is whether jurors might have been punitive in looking beyond the impressive choreography and focusing on Eleni’s heavily concealed vocal, some borderline slutty dance moves, and an ethno-sounding pop track so basic in its construction.

Where Cyprus lands on the jury side this year is one of the great dilemmas of this Eurovision and if it falls out of the top 5 tonight we are very likely to see a drift in its price in-running.

‘Fuego’, while having a great hook, is the essence of cheap, trashy pop. It is only Eleni’s superb performance skills that elevate it into something of greater substance. If jury members are willing to ignore the fact she is largely miming, then we may as well have Eurovisions in future with full backing tracks allowed.

It is interesting to delve into historical voting data and the composition of this year’s 43-strong Eurovision field leaves Cyprus and Israel virtually neck and neck in terms of potential points in the bag. No Greece in the final and Eleni being of Greek origin does look like advantage Cyprus however, given the Greek diaspora’s traditional love of a good ethno banger to rally behind.

Cyprus and Israel look likely to be duking it out towards the top of the televote, with their late r.o. slots offering a handy boost. Also worth factoring in, however, is two such strong uptempos will also take from one another, at least to some degree, with lovers of vintage Eurovision pop divided between Netta and Eleni. Their vastly different images will also polarise viewers.

This is where something else might be able to take advantage by becoming the undisputed muso’s choice of the 2018 Contest televoters coalesce around. The one that appears to tick most boxes in this respect is France.

The EBU placing it in slot 13 is a sign of favour and in this year’s field ‘Mercy’ has clear USP as a modern, highly credible piece of electro pop iconically performed by the visually arresting Madame Monsieur.

People drew to the swift conclusion because it didn’t win the jury vote at the French NF it was impossible for it to do well enough at Eurovision. This looks a potential red herring though as it was one-person juries there, the song was shown no favour, and it was in the wholly different context of competing against other French songs.

Its Frenchness is possibly one of its biggest draws and a key differentiator on the ESC stage. Regardless of its message, it is a unique and simple pop song with an instant, earworm quality about it that stands alone in the competition. It should be aided by the reception it receives from the live audience this evening, which certainly helped elevate it last night in front of the juries, with the duo warmly interacting with the crowd at the song’s climax.

Emelie brought it as always last night and it is the sort of thing discerning jury members should be respecting and ranking highly. For it to really fly in the televote tonight, what it ideally needs is a media push around Europe today and national broadcasters to be telling their audiences about its humanitarian message, a message that neatly fits in with Eurovision 2018’s strapline of ‘All Aboard’.

Two years ago, it felt like Ukraine’s Jamala benefitted from the narrative that built up in her favour. The same sort of thing could happen this year with ‘Mercy’ and it was interesting to see it get the most significant coverage on the Portuguese main evening news bulletin a couple of nights ago.

In the first half of the Grand Final, and prior to Madame Monsieur performing from the 13 slot, the 3 that stand out for me are Lithuania (4), Portugal (8) and Germany (11). Lithuania’s Ieva can probably feel a little hard done by to have been positioned so early, but it remains a captivating performance of a tender ballad both jurors and televoters should go for.

It looks a solid top 10 proposition and may well end up the nation that continues the streak of at least one former Soviet bloc (or Russia) placing in the top 5. Portugal is friendless in the top 10 market but is another strikingly intimate and nuanced track with a modern edge to it reminiscent of English indie pop band The xx.

Jurors should have been rating this highly (a regular refrain that sometimes this year hasn’t come to pass). There is also a break after Claudia’s emotional performance and its quality certainly stands out between the juvenile Norwegian song and the generic UK track.

Germany’s Michael is a more common place heartstring-tugger of a ballad with the visuals helping to ram home the subject matter. He did well last night, the song has a Sheeran-esque modern enough sheen to it, and it could be one that goes well with the public tonight. Jurors would have likely ranked it pretty highly too. This looks a solid top 10-er as well and could easily push higher given its emotional pull, like Lithuania.

The other stripped back track this year which is a triumph of staging and looks to have excellent top 10 prospects is the latest market springer, Ireland. Being the only ballad in the 2nd half helps Ryan stand out, as does its perfectly-pitched visuals, and his falsetto was flawless again last night.

After these 6 or 7 songs (if Portugal gets the credit it deserves), the top 10 picture is less clear. Many consider Sweden a banker and while we have seen jurors reward these slick presentations in the past, there is much stronger uptempo fare on offer this year and Benjamin’s overly-pleased with himself demeanour throughout is distancing, as is the sanitised, video-style backdrop. A televote shortfall for Sweden looks more likely to me and it may need to rely on the generosity of jury members to help it make the top 10.

It becomes a more random exercise after that in finding potential top 10-ers. Italy from the pimp slot has a certain gravitas and worthiness about it, again with a message that is hammered home to viewers visually, so it may well make the top 10. Hungary’s AWS have a niche to themselves that could inspire the hard metal fans on a Saturday night to rally behind it, so it is a somewhat, plucked-out-of-thin-air choice of top 10-er.

Overall, it feels like a 3-horse race and I’m sticking with France to edge out Cyprus and Israel, with Lithuania and Germany vying for 4th/5th place honours.

Many expect both Norway and Moldova to haul big televotes. They may well sneak into the top 10. However, both have the potential to underperform with such threadbare songs that should be falling way down on the jury side this year.

It is worth noting the country order of reveal tonight – with 3 former Soviet nations giving their jury points first. This could lead to a strong early showing for Lithuania, along with Moldova and Minsk-born Rybak for Norway.

In terms of last place, the UK felt a strong candidate as soon as SuRie’s ’Storm’ was chosen at the UK national final. She tried her best with it last night but from the 9 slot it remains a completely empty, generic nothingness of a song that deserves to do poorly, and looks a worthy favourite for wooden spoon honours.

1. France
2. Cyprus
3. Israel
4. Lithuania
5. Germany

6th-10th (in no particular order and chosen with little conviction) – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Sweden.

last place – UK

Tim suggests backing Australia at odds against to finish top 10, and to lay Bulgaria at odds-on to finish top 10.

His top 5: 1st Cyprus, 2nd Sweden 3rd Israel 4th Australia 5th Norway

And 6-10 in no particular order: Czech Republic, France, Moldova, Germany, Ireland

The very best of luck with all your investments tonight. Please feel free to post your Top 5s/10s below and flag up any gilt-edged wagers spotted across the plethora of ESC 2018 markets.

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4 Comments

  1. Matt

    Cheers Rob for your wonderful analysis as ever. For the record my top ten is:

    ISR
    CYP
    LITHUANIA
    SWEDEN
    FRANCE
    IRELAND
    ESTONIA
    MOLDOVA
    CZECH REP
    NORWAY

    Good luck all with your investments.

    x

  2. Credit once again Rob and Tim for the coverage – much appreciated.

    1) Cyprus
    2) Israel
    3) France
    4) Lithuania
    5) Ireland
    6) Hungary
    7) Germany
    8) Sweden
    9) Italy
    10) Czech Rep
    11) Moldova
    12) Norway
    13) Australia
    14) Bulgaria
    15) Portugal
    16) Denmark
    17) Estonia
    18) Ukraine
    19) Finland
    20) Albania
    21) Austria
    22) Spain
    23) Slovenia
    24 Netherlands
    25) Serbia
    26) UK

    I like the look of Netherlands last place at 20/1 (in from 50/1) as bit of a punt.

  3. EurovisionValue

    Thanks for your work again Rob! You bring a nice (and often more realistic) view compared to the other famous tipsters around, like the way you analyse things.

    I’ll post my view here again:

    So, we’re getting a version of Toy without looper, but without the looper-sounds fully on the tape. So they have to mime these, especially in the beginning. This comes across so weird, without actually using a looper. Thesame for the chicken noises and the looper-stuff in the middle of the song.

    Not only this, but compared to the video and studio version, what’s shown on stage got way more a circus/clown vibe. A lot of stupid facepulling by Netta AND dancers. Also the chicken dance is way more in your face compared to the music video. Vocally she’s fine, but not that great sometimes, it looks/sounds messy now and then. Just the final note is a great plus.

    So:
    – Miming/recreating the looper (without using a actual looper) (not only the Ree – Ouch – Hey)
    – Weird stage and outfits
    – Lots of facepulling
    – A lot of the chickendance
    – The song didn’t really chart after the semi final, like people were telling me before
    – Shouldn’t overrate the song and message, I mean rhyming Toy with Stupid boy, it’s not that great
    and classy. Live it’s not as impactful as the music video…

    Agree with the red flags about Cyprus (song and vocals not that amazing and relies a lot on the sexy and performance-aspect for juries), but in my opinion the ones for Israel are much clearer. The performance takes EVERYTHING out of the song and charismatic/strong performer, while the performance of Israel makes it much weaker. Plus Cyprus is doing much better on likes, youtube and charts, even made the viral top-list on Spotify. How it’s shown on stage I think it’s more jury friendly compared to the Israeli ‘freakshow’.

    So I think Cyprus is the deserved favourite. Hard to say if the odd is fair, but it’s not mega short in my opinion.

    Because of the buzz it’s understable Netta is second favourite. It’s still the most talked about in the mainstream view, because it’s simply the singing chicken. Therefore it’s more googled. But based on likes and views it’s loosing against a few others. Stil, I don’t believe in it and it could be like Gabbani (outside the top 5).

    It’s really hard to call the others. I had a longshot on Ireland, but he might be a bit too short now because of the UK/Irish punters, but really happy I saw the potential in it Think the EBU news didn’t spread enough to really be in for the win, but still a dark horse for me and hopefuly it’ll make the top 10 for me (posted the top 10 on ESCtips earlier at 40+).

    France, I don’t know… The song is too weak, it’s a bit early in the running order, but the armsign looks to work great and could create a moment. I don’t think they’re super charismatic for votes though, and the song isn’t that votable and a bit dull in my eyes.

    I can see Sweden being the compromise winner. It has so much less red flags for the juries, and if they can score big there, who knows. Also Germany could be a deserved dark horse. The staging is pretty nice and intimate and many many people can relate to the song. Also it’s a more juryfriendly song than Lithuania in my opinion.

    My top 10:
    – Cyprus
    – Sweden
    – Ireland
    – Germany
    – Moldova
    – Israel
    – Hungary
    – Czech
    – France
    – Lithuania

    Anyway, good luck everyone! I got a really great book this year, Really big wins on Cyprus, Ireland (would be my highest odd ever), Sweden and Germany. Decent wins on Israel and Italy and break-even or small loss on the rest of the field. But that’s just the outright, fingers crossed

    Don’t think there’s any value left at the moment (well, not obvious ones I can spot), just think Sweden is worth a small bet at 30+.

  4. neomichael

    For me the most valuable bets for tonight would be Moldova & Hungary.
    For the winner I would pick also Cyprus.
    Thank you Rob & Tim for all the valuable information.
    Good luck to you everybody!!