Day 8 – Tooji-tastic

May 20, 2012 by

Day 8 – Tooji-tastic

The last sensible day here, timings-wise, as tomorrow commences the ridiculously late finishes Baku time. Tried to get body clock attuned by staying up late last night for UCL final. Now feel like the walking dead.

So we have the last 5 in semi 2 offering 2nd rehearsals, and the Big 5 + Azerbaijan returning for a 2nd go later on. Ott Lepland starts proceedings and there is no doubt this fella has a quality vocal. Will stick my neck out here and say it is better, and has more texture, than Germany’s Roman. The tune is a little ponderous, much like Germany. Superb bright lava lamp effect behind Ott. It could well be a song that will sink without a trace if suffering an early draw (while still hopefully beating Donny Martini, if he sneaks into the final, having previously advised Estonia at 4-5 to be Top Baltic), but which could even mount a top 10 challenge if drawn late. You will notice discussions there about Estonia’s chances come the final. Getting a little ahead of myself but a best price with Ladbrokes of 1-3 Estonia from trap 14 to qualify from semi 2 looks about right.

Slovakia has raised its game here. Much more of a proper rock vibe happening on stage. Guitarists really going for it rocking out. Max Jason Mai, bare-chested, just in leather jacket, holds his voice together much better. Big contrast with Ott, of course, which may help both. The band’s image today is right. It’s this masks thing that remains a concern – will they reappear come Thursday’s 2nd semi? Might the rock fans still come out and vote? His long blonde locks are very reminiscent of early Andre Agassi.

Will be interesting to now see how Tooji gets on. He did well first time around though maybe his vocal was not as strong once arriving back at the press centre and hearing it on the tv monitor… This is absolutely fine. It’s a great start with the backflips and Tooji’s strut towards the camera, as described in 1st rehearsal review, and he holds it together well enough in what is an energetic routine. Backing vocalists aid him. Tooji will be catnip for young female SMS voters. Very effective, polished choreo for this song. Looks excellent on the tv monitor. What we have here is a quality uptempo Eurovision pop package. Strongly in the mix for top 3 in semi 2 so no change there, and happy to have earlier advised Norway at 9-1 e/w.

Maya Sar for Bosnia delivers ‘Korake Ti Znam’ the way we know she can. This will surely be adored by juries. Maya is wearing a strange black dress with big pointy shoulders that sparkle. It is best described as ‘Cat Woman Goes Evening Wear’. Staging is simple but effective. It looks classy. Think that was commented on first time around. Bosnia has a late draw, and big voting strength in this semi, also highlighted in a previous post. We are happy to have already advised Bosnia at 40-1 e/w in this 2nd semi, and the 33-1 e/w that is still knocking around looks decent value… ffs, tell readers something they haven’t heard already… fear not, some new trades will be unearthed for semi 2 next Thursday… from somewhere, hopefully.

And last in semi 2, our friend from Lithuania. Slightly distracted from Donny Martini’s 1st run through being interviewed by a lovely lady, Anu, from Estonian tv… all in a day’s work here at ESC 2012. The diamond-encrusted blindfold is plain ridiculous but this lad has some great pipes on him. Keep trying to think of the song ‘Love Is Blind’ reminds me of. It is something from the 80s… anyone know? Keep thinking of the theme tune to Love Boat but it’s not that. Anyway, back to Donny… Unbuttoned white shirt, dinner jacket. It’s the end of semi 2 and Donny is saying, ‘Hey guys, we are all living in 1985. We’ve finished the banquet, let’s let our hair down and dance along like we are attending a European ambassador’s stately shindig before passing around the Ferrero Rocher.’  This chancer could elicit an ‘Ahh, bless’ among mums Europe-wide. He has boyish good looks, a prize draw, a one-handed cartwheel, not to mention that blindfold. Qualifying odds of 11-10 say it all, really.

Semi 2 thoughts right now – reckon 7 definite qualifiers can be spotted which is a lot more than can be said about semi 1. Will keep the suspense by not going further than that at this stage.

So can Humpy improve on yesterday’s showing? A slight improvement but the concern as much as anything is Humpy delivering on the big nights. On the 2nd run through he is ‘sweating up heavily’. A warning sign for any horse racing followers out there. Of course, Humpy is not a horse, but his voice sounds very hoarse, and it teeters on the brink of calamity, especially at the end of the song on the big notes. Even at full throttle it doesn’t look like he has got it in him to really make this tune shine. The staging is sweet enough but the UK stock has definitely receded these past 2 days here.

The London ESC party was a little deceptive. Anggun impressed the gallop watchers during that work-out but she hasn’t yet brought her best to the big stage in Baku. One reason: this is a hellishly difficult song to sing live. She falls off a few notes on the initial run through but gets better later. Cool backdrop of a gymnast. It’s Olympic year. Maybe people will love this staging. The hunky bare-chested gymnasts are seriously impressive and possibly trying to corner the pink vote. Could this be a sand artist scenario and lead to a surprisingly big televote boost? Will just dangle that one…

Italy next. Will Nina bother today? Her dress looks better. And she is putting more into the performance – more attitude. But the whole set looks very run-of-the-mill still. A mistake not to have a band on stage. 3 backing singers do not lift it visually and if anything dampen the enchantment of it all. As does Nina’s naturally stony-faced stare. Towards the end she looks smilier and encourages a clap-along. She also aims a gunshot at the camera. It is arguably cool, in an aloof way, but it is not a warm presentation. There’s the bi-lingual thing to perplex viewers too and possibly make them feel even more detached. Still think this is more likely to bomb out than be vying for top spot on the leaderboard.

It’s apparently a mugam player who features in the staging of Azerbaijan. Who knew? Apologies for the cultural naivety. He sits cross-legged towards the rear of the stage on a raised platform. Oh no. He is mic-ed up and joins in with the song towards the end rather wrecking Sabina’s beautiful, floaty vocal and the entire presentation. He basically wails and this is not a good addition at all. It is reminiscent of Newman & Baddiel’s famous Shakespeare’s Sister take off found here. Seriously, it is horrible. Azerbaijan – what are you thinking? Do you not want to host it all again next year? Where the ad break lands in the final, before or after Sabina singing from slot 13, may also say a lot regarding their ambitions.

Spain. We know all about Pastora’s vocal and she can deliver this song alright. She just needs a beautiful frock, a bit of slap… There was chat in some quarters the backing singers detract at the end of the song. This was not picked up here probably cos this viewer was so overcome by the emotion of Pastora’s moving rendition he was sobbing uncontrollably into his laptop in between trying to get further chunks of the 32 being generously dangled on Betfair. Not seeing an issue here whatsoever. Love the lighting throughout this. Ending works fine from where this viewer is seated.

Lastly, Germany. Roman is what Roman does. For some it’s a shoe-in for top 10; for others it isn’t. You pays your money and you takes your chance. Nothing new to see here. Day 8 verdict: Tooji takes top honours.

So starting tomorrow it’s in to the nitty-gritty. 6 days of high octane ESC betting. How’s it going to shake down here? Been trying to come up with a timetable, and struggling. Posting will be a little off the cuff at times so keep your eyes peeled. Hope to have some YouTube prediction videos heading your way too. We will report any major findings from the dress rehearsal of the big semi 1 jury performance, due to finish 4pm UK time tomorrow, if on schedule. A big ‘if’ based on delays every day so far.

As for that jury performance, it will be a 2am finish here, possibly later, and to get through next week without dropping dead, this writer will need to head to his palatial self-catering apartment – complete with a tv on the blink and an angry neighbour complaining about loss of water supply – for some much-needed kip. A considered appraisal will follow on Tuesday morning. Later on Tuesday will fall a 2nd post with all the semi 1 predictions and betting advice in full glory. Or maybe this will all form one post…? Later still on Tuesday, potentially a 3rd post, regarding post-semi 1 fall-out, and final draw implications for the 10 qualifiers. But that may have to wait until Wednesday morning UK time. And so it will continue, until being carried out of the press centre on a stretcher after Saturday night’s big final, but hopefully a little bit richer. Bring it on!
Rob Furber

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  1. steve

    Hi Rob, thanks as ever for the updates. Must admit that one week in Im not that much clearer whos going to win, other than the Humps bubble being burst theres lots of different countries I can see doing well, but no-one for me says Im going to great with the public and great with the juries. Thhough I do see Serbia doing well in each.

  2. Rob

    Hi Steve – I agree, a very perplexing year. Can see the jury vote going many different ways potentially. As ever, final draw is going to be a huge factor – who bags those 21-26 slots in particular.
    Of course, if the jury vote is split that could open the door for the grannies, if they win the televote by a landslide. Certainly if Russia qualifies and lands one of those late slots in the final running order, it will have to come into the reckoning.

  3. Henry VIII

    I can’t see Russia coming into the reckoning even with a late slot but I’ll be sweating a bit about them (along with you Rob iirc) until it’s all over on Saturday night.

  4. Rob

    Hi Henry. Yes, Russia has been pretty much red even since Dima Bilan got beaten by the Babushki in the Russian NF. Given the hype surrounding Russia there will most likely be a price drop following semi qualification (if Russia qualifies), and certainly if they get a reasonable final draw – quite possibly even if they don’t. From that perspective it is probably wisest to reduce any liability now, as you sense the Russia price will start to contract. If this comes to pass, but your confidence remains that they cannot win, you can then at least lay at the (in theory) lower price.

  5. Henry VIII

    Interesting Rob, but it wouldn’t be my technique. I usually just look at the odds as a representation of their win probability.

    The price may not contract.

  6. Henry VIII

    My other big liability – the UK – is approaching twice the price of my average lay, but I don’t feel the urge to green up. I guess, as with Russia, I just accepted a liability with this country. (Means there’s the possibility of a sweat though if things go wrong 🙂 ).

  7. Rob

    Sounds like we have similar books, henry, with regard Russia and the UK. What I tend to do is reduce a big liability if there is a major drift (like UK). It’s a cautious approach and tied in with the psychological battle a trader constantly has to deal with – the fear of losing. Threw away a fair chunk of Azerbaijan profit last year playing it safe this way, and managing the most worrying reds in my book, but still walked away with an excellent profit. Of course, you end up kicking yourself for being so cautious but that is always with hindsight.

  8. fiveleaves

    Sterling work Rob and an excellent read as always.

    Norway have impressed me, but I still feel if Eric couldn’t do it last year, I struggle to see Tooji getting close to winning this.
    There’s just not the buzz around him that there was around Eric last year.

    Italy and Spain the other 2 worth a mention.

    Italy is improved by the moving of the backing singers, but the dress looks cheap and tarty. Especially coupled with the red high heels and altho I like the song, I din’t see her or the staging as voter freindly or jury friendly.
    The shout out to Europe at one stage also strikes me as totally out of place and rather desperate.

    Pastora on the otherhand looked very classy and contemporary.
    My worry was they’d dress her up in a big old fashioned loo roll holder dress.
    White also works very well on tv. As we saw last year with Azer, Russia a few years back. plus Rybak and his dancers all wore white shirts.

    My gut feeling has always been that Spain will storm the jury vote and with a song as inferior as Jade’s, My Time managing 10th in the pv, I can see Spain pushing top 5 or higher, given the late draw and no mishaps.
    I’m becoming increasingly confident about Spains chances, rather than hopeful, as I was a week or so back and have been adding to an already sizeable green.
    It’s kicking the arse of everything else on youtube, in terms of both views and likes. Which for a ballad is extremely impressive.
    Over double the price of Italy just looks ridiculous.

  9. hemsby

    Been reading your site for just under a year,and would just like to put on record my appreciation ….an entertaining read,with sound betting advice thrown in for good measure.I’m a complete ESC novice,but thanks to heeding advice from yourself and a few others,I’ve managed to build a decent position going into the weekend.Thanks again.

  10. Rob

    Hi fiveleaves. Funnily enough I was looking at the official vids earlier and clocked the impressive hits Spain is achieving there, along with very high percentage of ‘likes’ – agree, only strengthens the resolve that Spain is a major player.
    Italy did improve but it’s not right for the ESC in my eyes. It’s a rather cold presentation, and too Italian.

    Welcome hemsby & thanks for your kind words. ESC definitely is the best tv trading vehicle of them all. It’s been great to witness it all out here in Baku. Please keep reading and commenting.

  11. Rob

    Slight change of plan – will endeavour to post immediately following semi 1 jury performance, so some time after 10pm tonight UK time – keep an eye out loyal readers 🙂

  12. Bruce

    I’ll be waiting eagerly 🙂

  13. steve

    Cheers rob will be waiting tonight.

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