Betfair’s Top 12 – The EntertainmentOdds Verdict

Mar 25, 2011 by

This year’s ESC market has been notable for its volatility with several countries the subject of plunges including Greece and Russia – who duly drifted back out again once their final songs were confirmed – and the 2 still at the head of the market – Estonia and France. So what to make of it all? Well, for one it tells us this is a very open year. Live performance and final draw can still play a huge part in a song’s chances, but pre-rehersals and pre-semi-finals, here is the EntertainmentOdds verdict on the current Betfair top 12, to try and assist you with your market positions.
Estonia‘s Rockefeller Street is something of a default favourite and its current Back price of 7.6 is far too short. Firstly, it’s a pop song with major limitations that leaves us thinking, ‘Yeah, nice enough, but where’s the va, va voom?’. Also still to be answered is how well Getter Jaani can sing it live. The staging at her national final was energetic and you could hear her voice wobble due to shortness of breath at times. We still rate Estonia highly enough to keep it as a small green in our overall book.
Amaury Vassili singing ‘Sognu’ for France is 6.8 and the great enigma of this year’s ESC. Amaury is a good looking lad which is a plus, and this operatic song will certainly stand out. Still to be answered is whether he can really sell the emotion of the song live – he will need to do a great job connecting with viewers. A draw of 11 isn’t ideal, and nor is the fact it is followed by the only other song in the competition with classical overtones in Italy. There is no value in France’s current price but, like Estonia, our advice would be to keep it on side as another small green.
‘Popular’ sung by Swedish dreamboat Eric Saade is the epitome of perfectly-packaged, homogenous pop and as such has even bigger limitations than Estonia. Backers of Sweden are pointing to its YouTube success but there are other entries in this year’s ESC – namely the UK and Russia, that have stronger claims in appealing to the same televoters Eric will be looking to capture. It’s also going to struggle to replicate the slick and impressive staging seen at the Swedish national final. It’s a song with an instant hook, but so is Ireland’s ‘Lipstick’. Sweden is 11.5 to back at the moment, but we see it as an unlikely winner and are happy to keep it as a small red.
Norway was the early favourite but has since drifted to 14. ‘Haba, haba’ is a catchy, sing-a-long, feel-good pop tune. Stella Mwangi’s live vocal is certainly not the best and it has to negotiate a tricky semi from a far from favourable draw in 2. Juries will surely not be fans of this very simplistic tune and we struggle to see how it can win. It’s another small red in our book.
The UK is 10 and Blue’s ‘I Can’ certainly has many winning ingredients. It’s anthemic and the stripped down version in the final should showcase their vocal talents. Not to be under-estimated is Blue’s existing fan base across Europe – something Saade cannot call upon – and the band is putting in lots of promotion. As their comeback tune after so long out of the limelight, there will even be a degree of nostalgia attached to their appearance in the competition for their European fans. A draw of 14 is good enough and we see the UK as a serious contender and one to have as a big green.
Defending champion Germany is 14 and relies on the charming Lena again with ‘Taken By A Stranger’. She will receive enormous home support and will deliver an endearing performance for sure. The song is sophisticated but nowhere near the immediacy and pop quality of last year’s ‘Satellite’. Also, we expect to see a certain reticence to support Germany for a second successive year among jurers and televoters alike and will be surprised to see this winning. Again, we’re happy to have this as a small red in our book.
Azerbaijan has form figures of 8th, 3rd, 5th. And if its historical voting strength isn’t enough to make you sit up and take notice, ‘Running Scared’ sung by Ell & Nikki is a very appealing, ESC-friendly ballad. The male/female combo can be a big vote winner alone and one of the few doubts we have over this song is whether Nikki can sing well enough live – she didn’t sound great during the Azerbaijan contest to pick their ESC vocalists. Overall, this should be another big green and is value at 16 on Betfair.
Bosnia‘s ‘Love In Rewind’ has lots in its favour. Dino Merlin is an established act and is guaranteed to perform the song professionally and will bring enormous warmth and charisma to the stage. The song itself has an authenticity and charm that enables it to stand alone in this year’s field. We think it is instant enough to be appreciated by televoters, jury support appears to be a given, and Bosnia has plenty of friends and neighbours to call upon. The staging at the official unveiling, criticised by some, is also going to be re-worked in Dusseldorf. At 15 this is still great value and a must to keep big green in our view.
Kati Wolf sings ‘What About My Dreams’ for Hungary and as stated in a previous post, we think this is the best song in this year’s ESC. It’s anthemic, has a superb chorus and finishes on a real high. The main doubt is whether Kati can reproduce it well enough live. We think she is an accomplished and capable vocalist but for such a big song tuning with her backing singers and staging will be key. Some also cast doubts over Hungary’s Eurovision record but its ESC friends are far and wide (it rates 6th out of 19 in its semi final, for instance, in terms of voting allies) and every year there are songs that are strong enough to overcome any perceived voting weakness. This is one of them and another to have big green. At 20 on Betfair it remains value ahead of the rehearsals.
Denmark trades at a surprisingly short 24. Surprising because this song has little about it to make it stand out from the crowd and is weaker than its entry last year which managed 4th. It’s the sort of tune you could imagine Take That penning; a pleasant enough ditty but with no ‘wow’ factor whatsoever. Unless it gets an amazing final draw (like Denmark last year) we cannot see it making the top 5 so we will happily keep this a small red.
Austria is currently backable at 48. This is an interesting contender for us. We saw last year that the strongest ballad in the competition, Georgia, finished 9th. Austria is vying for this status with Slovenia. Nadine Beiler has an absolutely stunning voice and while we find the song itself a little too Disney, it could end up becoming a contender if it manages to get through a tough second semi-final. We would have this as a small green.
Finally, Russia is currently trading at a back price of 34. Alexsey Vorobyov is eye candy for the ladies, his live vocal seems adequate enough, and the song, ‘Get You’ has a catchy chorus. Really, it has as much going for it as Sweden, if not more so given Russia’s traditional voting strength – it managed to finish 11th last year with an absolute shocker of a song. It’s easy to see this doing well and if it got a magic final draw, who knows. We doubt it can win but pre-rehearsal we respect it enough to keep it as a small green, and 34 represents decent value for such a powerful ESC nation.
Next up we’ll be looking at semi-final 1. Until then, here’s Azerbaijan’s ‘Running Scared’, a very strong contender in our view.
Rob Furber

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