‘Birds’ Set To Soar?

Feb 27, 2013 by

‘Birds’ Set To Soar?

Estonia’s Eesti Laul 2013 has the makings of an intriguing head-to-head on Saturday night: Winny Puhh vs Grete Paia. Winny Puhh has a lot of heat around it because it is something so completely different and anarchic. For seasoned ESC followers, tired of being fed the same old, same old ESC template tunes, this is a breath of fresh air.

Trouble is, it’s really not very clever at all. It’s just a horrible noise. Lordi won in 2006 by being something loud, in-your-face and different but it’s worth remembering that was in the 100% televote era, and ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ was a more comprehensible, structured song.

It would be surprising if ESC juries didn’t punish Winny Puhh if it goes to Malmo, unless this year’s juries are predominantly made up of Tony Parsons-types who grew up during the punk era, so feel some sort of nostalgic fondness for Winny Puhh’s rebellious spirit.

The real work of genius in the Eesti Laul final, if there is one, is Grete Paia’s tune ‘Paastke noored hinged’ – a song that starts off as a ballad before transforming into techno pop. Grete has the pimp slot but with Winny Puhh preceding her they both have a chance to make a big impact, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see these two fight out the super-final.

So much for hoping Denmark would drift to a double figure price. It has been heavily supported into 7-2 partly due to the lack of decent competition to emerge during myriad national heats over the last few weeks.

Even so, does it merit such a short price at this stage? The ante-post ESC market always has to find a default favourite to latch on to, which invariably gets backed down to a surprising degree. The Danish song, as remarked on before, is solid if unspectacular and will be hard to shift from its position at the head of the market between now and when rehearsals get underway in Malmo.

Russia’s entry shook things up at the head of the market briefly last Sunday but has since settled at a back price of 10 on Betfair. There are no worries regarding Dina Garipova’s vocal ability. She won Russia’s The Voice last year, and assorted clips of her singing live amply demonstrate her prowess.

‘What If’ is a very solid ballad and given Russia’s voting strength it has to be respected. Pastora Soler’s song for Spain last year, which finished 10th, Quedate Conmigo, was much stronger than this Russian tune but on reflection was doomed because it was sung in Spanish making it largely impenetrable to Eastern Europe, and a fair chunk of Western Europe to boot.

Many ESC songs that touch on genuine depth and beauty do not translate to ESC televotes because ESC voters are simple creatures and we live in a commercial world. Alyosha’s ‘Sweet People’ is another example of a well-sung, stunning solo female ballad that merited a far higher finishing position than 10th in 2010 but it was too cerebral for the masses.

Ironically, this more lightweight, power-ballad-by-numbers from Russia has a much better chance for a top 5 finish. One, because we are talking about Russia and it has tremendous voting power; and two, because it is far more accessible to the wider ESC audience due to the fact it is sung in English, and the song’s melody is simple and easy to recognise.

This is why artists like Celine Dion have sold millions of records, and people love schmaltzy, feel-good nonsense like Heather Small’s ‘Proud’. But you sense juries might be tough on Russia this year for the very reason that it all sounds a little too calculated.

Georgia has also just released Sophie Gelovani & Nodi Tatishvili’s striking power ballad ‘Waterfall’ which could now be fishing in similar waters to the Russian tune, and could again be criticised for being too obvious and conventional. That said, at 5 times the price of Russia it looks a value investment at 50-1 with Stan James e/w first 4. Male/female duets have a tendency to do well on the ESC stage – one of our pieces of advice in ‘Douze Points‘.

It’s all happening today as a first few listens to Klapa S Mora’s ‘Mizerja’ for Croatia makes us wonder if this could be the sort of niche tune loved by juries this year. There are certainly far crazier 150-1
e/w shots out there if you can find a Stan James shop.

It seems that each year you have to be quicker and quicker at spotting potential dark horses because Eurovision has rapidly evolved into a far more savvy market. Last year, Spain and Iceland were 2 big-priced picks here early on which at least went on to trade much shorter on Betfair offering worthwhile back-to-lay opportunities. Our general rule is: if clocking something promising during the qualifiers, and said nation is available at 50-1 or bigger e/w first 4, it is worth a speculative poke.

For us the most interesting song to emerge in the last week or so has been the snippet of Anouk’s tune ‘Birds’ for the Netherlands. It has not won the contest since 1975 (with the memorable ‘Ding-A-Dong’) and the last time it qualified for the final was 2004.

At face value it has an appalling track record but Lena proved in 2010, singing for Germany, that if the song is good enough, a perceived minnow can overcome a lack of voting power. Anouk can certainly deliver the goods live and ‘Birds’ could jump out in this year’s field as a dreamy and haunting ballad that resonates by being different.

You could also see the good will towards this song growing in Malmo for the simple reason the Netherlands is long overdue having a decent runner in the competition. The shrewdies have already been snapping up the juicy prices dangled on the Netherlands. We would advise jumping on the bandwagon.

As for the second chance heat in MF 2013 over in Sweden on Saturday, we will pass on it as there doesn’t look to be much value around as of now. Anton Ewald would have been the pick but the price has now been cut.

MF has been difficult to predict throughout this year but looking ahead to the final, it is a quandary as to why Yohio is rated as short as 1-2 with Ladbrokes to win MF. Ralf and Ulrik’s songs are of a far greater quality to this trained ear and it would be a shock if Yohio tops the jury vote.

He may do better on the public vote, but you would expect Ulrik to receive decent public support also. It is probably wisest to hold off now until we see the final running order. If Ulrik’s in one of the late slots and Yohio on early, this would strengthen resolve that Yohio is worth taking on.

Hungary has a simple choice on its hands in Saturday’s A Dal final: a quality well-sung solo female ballad by Gigi Radics which could do well in Malmo; or a lame R&B/jazz fusion number sung by Andras Kallay-Saunders which would very likely bomb. Scarily, the latter scored more highly than the former when they were both voted through to the final by jury members. An English version of Gigi’s song is already available giving rise to the hope she is TCO. If Gigi wins we would advise snapping up the 50-1 e/w.

Keep an eye out for 2 strong ESC nations revealing their hand over the weekend: Armenia’s selection is on Saturday and Serbia’s on Sunday. Armenia, who did not take part in 2012, will likely have a decent rock tune which this year’s Contest is in dire need of. Gor Sujyan, the lead singer of rock band Dorians, will perform the song.

Things are beginning to hot up at last, and starting to look more competitive as we’ve also heard one or two potential gems competing in Israel and Moldova. Any key news surrounding the upcoming action this weekend will be posted below. Please do join the conversation.

Related Posts



  1. Tim B

    In Estonia, I think Winny Puhh (great name!) have the best chance of winning. I am sensing an enormous amount of hype and this is sure to top the televote. The juries put it within the top 5 in the semi as well, and perhaps they see it as the song which will have the most impact on the Eurovision. If this is the case, I would have to agree. It won’t top the jury vote but in these national finals the televote winner is more often than not the one which wins the ticket. Are there any markets available yet? I wouldn’t hestitate to back Winny Puhh at anything over evens.

    Georgia I think has massive potential, and after backing at 91.0+ on Betfair I am very excited to see what the staging is going to be like. I think it could be a potential jury vote winner. I’ve backed Russia at decent prices also, so I’m wondering when the right time to lay off either might be?

  2. Tim B

    Rob, something has been puzzling me since watching Winny Puhh’s performance on Eesti Laul. For me, the chaotic camerawork/direction/editing really complements the song. From your experience in Baku last year, do you know if this kind of camerawork is allowed at ESC? I’m also thinking here about David Lindgren’s ‘Skyline’, the bit where the screen splits and it shows the dancers all doing jazz hands. It really adds to his performance in my opinion (although I would see where someone was coming from if they thought this came across as cheesy). I noticed that Loreen had a blurred screen effect at the end of ‘Euphoria’ so perhaps the above effects would also be allowed?

    Unibet are offering some combos for MF Andra Chansen. I’ve taken Caroline af Ugglas/Robin Stjernberg at 6.0 and Caroline af Ugglas/Anton Ewald at 8.5. Happy to take the combos this time around as this week there is no uncertainty around the quality of songs, vocals or staging. Furthermore to what I said about Cazza on the other post, she is likely to be the only female to reach the duels and hers would also be the only song in Swedish, making her stand out even more. She’s delighting her demo with the Swedish language song, having previously done so well with ‘Snälla Snälla’. Also, hers would be the only ballad in the top 4, if I’ve got my analysis right. Looking at the stats from 2009. I see Malena Ernman won the final despite a sh*te jury score, so perhaps this is where bookies and punters are coming from in regards to YOHIO.

  3. Boki

    Guys, I saw Aftonbladet poll yesterday evening, it was on the site in a usual place and 1200 people voted at that moment. Later in the evening and today I checked again but it’s not there anymore, can’t find it anywhere. I guess it will be back at some point so keep checking on
    http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet or
    if you are interested.
    I agree with Tim with everything about Caroline and she was my first choice also but I have one problem with her: it looks too obvious to me and obvious in MF scares me.

  4. Tim B

    Boki, can you remember who was in the top 4?

    • Boki

      I didn’t post it on purpose because I don’t mean to influence anyone and than feel responsible in case of a flop since I don’t plan to place any bets. Also number of voters wasn’t so great. Anyway I guess you really want to hear it so here is what I remember:

      top2 Stjernberg and Rolinski, about 23% and 22% (or was it 26% and 25% not sure)

      3. Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli 19% (big surprise to me)

      4. Anton Ewald between 10 and 12% (don’t remember)

      5. Caroline between 8 and 9%

      6. someone with no more than 6%

  5. Rob

    NordicBet now have Eesti Laul prices up – Outright & various h2hs. Some interesting markets, and prices; a shame they generally do not allow a decent-sized bet.

    Tim, I’m pretty sure some camera effects are allowed at ESC. Exactly how far this can be extended, I am uncertain & will try & seek clarification.

    Certainly at ESC 2012, Loreen was allowed a very evocative slow-mo effect towards the end of her performance, not to mention the falling snow, of course.

    You are right that the chaotic camera work really suits the Winny Puhh song… interestingly, one of the jury members is interviewed in a story on esc today & he says he thinks WP will win – so much for jury objectivity ahead of a final in which you are judging!

    MF has been very tricky to call but having taken Anton & Caroline at huge prices on Outright, very much hope your top 2 combo comes in, Tim, in the MF second chance heat. And thanks for posting those percentages, Boki – always useful.

  6. Boki

    Tim, if I understood correctly you joined Nordicbet recently (so a ‘clean account’) and they allow you only peanuts? I played with them for few years without problems but after that they limited me to sub euro range per bet (that was 2 years ago) so I was forced to quit. I find it very strange that they do it on a new account also, that would mean all those odds are for nothing, just showing off since nobody can bet on them.

  7. Tim B

    Yes Boki, that is correct. I haven’t even won any money with them yet – lost €20 with them last week yet I was only allowed €2 on Ralf in MF.

    • Boki

      The conspiracy theorist in me would even think that some bookies exchange the data on the “strong players” so when you are heavy limited by one you also get the same treatment by other. I will ask guys at escbet if they also get so limited @Nordic since I just saw an article about Eesti Laul.

  8. Boki

    Poll is back:

    Vem vill du ska vinna ”Andra chansen” i Karlstad?
    Robin Stjernberg 23.15%
    Eric Segerstedt & Tone Damli 18.86%
    Anton Ewald 14.98%
    Martin Rollinski 14.3%
    Caroline af Ugglas 10.44%
    Behrang Miri 8.62%
    Cookies N Beans 4.84%
    Eric Gadd 5%

    Totalt antal röster: 3,966

  9. Rob

    MF final running order. Guess it has to be advantage Yohio but still don’t think his song is strong enough to win. It follows the SVT template – big hitters in 1 & 10, & with Ulrik getting pimp slot in his heat would have looked suss to give him the 10 slot in the final too. Loreen performed from 6 last year so maybe the omens are good for Ralf:

    1 Ulrik Munther – Tell the world I’m here
    2 David Lindgren – Skyline
    3 State of Drama – Falling
    4 Anton Ewald – Begging
    5 Louise Hoffsten – Only the dead fish follow the stream
    6 Ralf Gyllenhammar – Bed on fire
    7 Ravaillacz – En riktig jävla schlager
    8 Sean Banan – Copacabanana
    9 Robin Stjernberg – You
    10 YOHIO – Heartbreak hotel

  10. Rob

    Juries taking part in MF final deliberations:

    United Kingdom

  11. Tim B

    There were more than a few surprises in the results this weekend. I was particularly disappointed in the voters in Sweden for not going for Caroline af Ugglas after a very solid performance – but with only one woman in the MF final perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised. Would be very surprised if anyone but YOHIO wins now, although I decided to put a little on Ralf after seeing the running order. YOHIO should top the televote, perhaps by a margin that will make the juries pointless. Think Robin or Ulrik will possibly top the jury vote. But the person I think will do well with both is Ralf – probably not enough to win but I still see him in 2nd-4th. Took some big prices on Robin so don’t think I can lose in the outright. Will consider some head-to-heads etc if they become available.

    I didn’t understand the result in Estonia at all until the full results were released and it was noted that the juries in the final were different from those who judged the semi final. Was pleased for Birgit. It’s a nice song and it has to put her in the mix for qualification.

    The new song from Belarus ‘Solayoh’ has loads of potential and I backed it at 240.0 downwards on Betfair – sorry guys! I think it’s a real win contender and after some disappointing selections from Armenia and Serbia, I would only put a handful of countries in contention for victory: Belarus, Norway, Russia, Georgia and Denmark in that order. Although let’s see what Italy, Azerbaijan and United Kingdom have up their sleeves…

  12. Tim B

    Not forgetting Ukraine of course – apparently we should be expecting their new version of ‘Gravity’ in a few days. Zlata is the best singer in the competition so far imo.

  13. Boki

    Great odds Tim on Belarus! Sadly I missed the whole thing and it looks like a good e/w at 60+. It’s fun and catchy and IF they get the staging right and IF she can manage to dance and sing simultaneously can go pretty high (in Belarus terms).

    However I don’t see it as a serious contender cause I believe juries will perceive it as a “cheap tune” (as they did for several “similar” entries before) and rate it accordingly which makes winning very difficult.

  14. Tim B

    Agree, Boki, that its fate will depend on the juries. But you could say that about many entries this year. But I think it will appeal to the whole of Europe. It’s the big ethnic stomper that’s missing from Turkey this year and there is a strong case to suggest it may top the televote. Still early days though and everything will depend on the live performances, staging and running order.

    • Boki

      Just don’t forget that this song comes from a land of sun, sea and cha cha cha – Belarus 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *