Drawing To Conclusions

Mar 30, 2022 by

Drawing To Conclusions

We now know the running orders for the two ESC 2022 semi-finals, and as always there appear to be clear winners and losers.

Finland’s The Rasmus, with ‘Jezebel’, always looked a likely, high impact opener in semi-final 2, but I doubt many expected to see Albania open semi 1 or Armenia close it.

It seemed more of an either/or choice between Romania and Czech Republic to close semi-final 2, with We Are Domi getting the nod and rewarded the pimp slot performing ‘Lights Off’.

When you compare the quality of the two semi-finals this year, it feels like semi 2 has a lower qualification bar, which makes it harder to dismiss the chances of a number of borderline Q nations ahead of Turin, and before seeing how everything shapes up on the big ESC stage.

When you compare the quality of the two semi-finals this year, it feels like semi 2 has a lower qualification bar

A peculiarity of semi 1 is the number of groups and non-solo acts taking part, as they make up over half the field. The other oddity is the female-heavy composition of the second half of semi 1, a male DJ in Austria’s Lumix and two guys in yellow wolf-head masks for Norway, the only break from a fairer sex monopoly.

Considering Ukraine is trading at 2.7 to win this year’s ESC, it will be installed odds-on favourite to win semi 1 despite the unfavourable running order position of 6. Netherlands has to be happy with the 8 slot, following Bulgaria and preceding Moldova.

Moldova makes good sense as a first half closer, and a big contrast to the two solo females of S10 and Portugal’s Maro performing either side of it, but Croatia has every right to feel a little aggrieved to be placed in the 11 slot.

Considering Ukraine is trading at 2.7 to win this year’s ESC, it will be installed odds-on favourite to win semi 1 despite the unfavourable running order position of 6

Having failed to qualify in seven of its last nine ESC appearances, Mia Dimsic positioned so early in the second half and asked to follow Maro doesn’t look favourable, or make much sense. It seems unnecessary when TPTB had Denmark and Austria to play with in this section to potentially offer a bigger point of difference.

Greece has to be delighted with the 15 slot and while Norway had the look of a likely semi 1 closer, you can see producers’ thinking in having it in the penultimate slot instead, sandwiched by two solo females. Rosa Linn’s qualification chance for Armenia has undoubtedly been boosted by the pimp.

Serbia has been generating a lot of heat within the fan community, and attracting money among this year’s outsiders, but the 3 slot in semi 2 looks a setback to its qualification chance.

The contrast between artists and songs competing in the first half of semi 2 is particularly stark and that theme continues throughout the entire semi-final, making things a little easier for TPTB in building the running order. Ireland, as the second half opener in this semi, couldn’t have asked for a much worse draw.

The pimp for the Czechs looks beneficial on paper; being preceded by Sweden less so. As third favourite on the Outright, Sweden will be installed as a short-priced favourite to win semi 2, and has already attracted money on Betfair as low as 1.41.

Only nine countries are trading below 50 on the Outright as of today in what looks a strangely top-heavy betting market, especially with the UK trading as clear fourth favourite at 18. Sam Ryder had a recent live outing in Bulgaria and one of my main concerns is his falsetto which seems far from secure. He sounds stretched at times and it makes for slightly uneasy listening.

Much uncertainty still hangs over Ukraine’s participation this year, while the recreational sports bettor’s money has continued to pile on it for the win. There is now an option on the table for Kalush Orchestra’s Vidbir performance to be used, a waiver applied on the requirement for a ‘live-on-tape’ performance being recorded, while hope remains the band will be able to attend in Turin.

The grand final is still over six weeks away and in recent days there has been a de-escalation of Russia’s military action, and a suggestion it is retreating from the outskirts of Kyiv and will focus its efforts in the Donbas region to the east which has been fought over since 2014. It is difficult to trust anything Russia says regarding the Ukraine invasion but we could be edging slowly towards some sort of compromise agreement.

There is now an option on the table for Kalush Orchestra’s Vidbir performance to be used, a waiver applied on the requirement for a ‘live on-tape’ performance being recorded

Having been drawn in 9 in the grand final, Italy has consolidated its position as second favourite, trading around 4.4. We are still to hear the 3-minute edit of ‘Brividi’. There is a strong belief Italy is a televote magnet but it has also benefitted from late running order positions in recent ESCs, courtesy of two pimp slots in 2015 and 2018, being drawn 22/26 in 2019, and 24/26 last year.

Maneskin blew the roof off rehearsals last year in Rotterdam with the staging of ‘Zitti e buoni’. You also have to ask the question if Mahmood & Blanco will be able to impress as much. There definitely looks room for market springers to emerge among those nations priced 30+ on Betfair if they manage to execute live performances and staging to a high level in Turin.

We are now entering the phase of pre-ESC concerts including London’s Eurovision Party on Sunday, and Amsterdam’s EiC, taking place a week on Saturday. A number of acts have already had a run out at Barcelona’s Eurovision Party, and largely underwhelmed.

Maneskin blew the roof off rehearsals last year in Rotterdam with the staging of ‘Zitti e buoni’. You have to ask the question if Mahmood & Blanco will be able to impress as much

The assorted ‘live’ appearances by artists will inevitably be pored over and feed into the Outright, but it needs to be remembered, the new pre-recorded backing vocal rule will be able to conceal a multitude of sins come Turin.

Potentially of greater betting impact will be the gradual reveal of OGAE fan poll results, along with the drip, drip, drip of Eurojury’s country-by-country ‘jury’ results and its attempt to simulate the jury/televote split. Ukraine may well under-perform on both of the OGAE and Eurojury measures which is something else to consider as it could start to have an impact on its Outright price.

As per recent years, the excellent Matt Rickard (@mat_rickard) will be offering his views on rehearsals, and providing expert analysis and commentary on the official Twitter handle (@EntertainOdds).

We remain slightly uncertain how things will proceed from this point as there looks like being a change from last year, with first rehearsals going behind closed doors, but if the good Lord spares us and the creeks don’t rise, the plan is to bring you comprehensive rehearsal coverage from Turin.

19 Comments

  1. neomichael

    Hi Rob, Matt and everyone in this site, it is always nice to be here.

    Rob, about this you mentioned, “…You get the distinct impression people who don’t usually bet on Eurovision are piling their cash down on Ukraine..” I couldn’t agree more! Just imagine that in the most popular booker of Greece (STOIXIMAN) the odd of Ukraine has dropped recently to 1.75 while Italy’s raised to 5.75. For whoever is interested outside of Greece, I guess the same odds can be found under the BETANO brand in the following countries: Germany, Romania, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Bulgaria.

    For me the battle will be between Italy and Sweden, for both of which we already have a solid idea of their live performance. Italy has the novelty factor of having a duet of two men singing a captivating ballad which I believe can find a lot of support (and not limited to) in the LGBTQ ESC community. Not to mention that Mahmood by himself had managed to finish 2nd in 2018 with an inferior song. Sweden is the runner-up bet if Italy doesn’t succeed due to the relatively early position. Looking forward to see if any other country has thought of any impressive staging during the rehearsals that could potentially make them a contender.

    • Rob

      Hi Michael. Interesting to read about the Greek bookmaker pricing – if they are laying Ukraine for the win at 1.75, they are in a win-win situation.

      I remain hopeful things will get a bit more interesting when rehearsals get underway & some other challengers emerge outside the current front 4 in the market. There looks to be plenty of room for some price crashes given the huge odds being offered as of now, and all those nations trading 30+ on Betfair.

  2. Showlad

    Well the class of 2022. It’s great – Eurovision’s back everyone! But what an underwhelming reveal of songs as one nation after another failed to live up to expectations.

    We are in Turin instead of Paris after a Belgian jury’s zero and a running order favouring Italy left Madam Pravi 2 deuce points adrift. However, Maneskin have been very very good for ESC and have really lifted the standing of our beloved show in some key musical genre areas and public demographics.

    OK…so 2022 feels crystal clear for me.
    Ukraine and the at times hippy vibe of Kalush does not have the best ‘vehicle’ to harness that public sympathy and support – unlike how a strong solo artist or emotionally charged song could have. None of us can read the future but a combination of ESC absolutely not wanting a Ukraine win (despite the support shown it would be SO complicated if Ukraine won and not at all clear cut to just ‘stage’ it in another country if Ukraine were unoccupied at the time of ESC 2023) and juries marking it down should be strong enough for them to not quite get over the finish line.

    Italy and Sweden absolutely smack of podium finishes but not winning. Italy will not gel well enough with the public vote and whilst Sweden’s offering is more accessible than Sanna Nielsen’s Undo it is way less professional and again I don’t think, like her, that Cornelia will connect enough with the public to win.

    The striking power of Greece’s entry needed the undying passion to be dramatically displayed front and centre in staging and to mainstream the quirky Amanda in order to connect with viewers. News of 6 females in white tunics channeling old Greece and no male/undying passion in sight has surely ruined their chances to steal as the dark horse.

    Oz is good but the self obsessed ‘reveal’ is ultimately a damp squib. Spain is brilliantly sexy, slick and professional but won’t get enough scores across the board and Mr.Wolf won’t be getting enough bananas from juries to vie for the win.

    Poland has so many ticks across the array of boxes and is a definite, genuine threat but Ochman’s uptightness and freezing emotionally needs to be upped to a degree that it can be hidden with a clever staging. He has far more firepower potentially than Italy or Sweden though.

    Now and again a star is born at Eurovision – Conchita, Vera, Celine, Abba, Salvador, Netta, Ruslana and this year is no exception.

    Sam Ryder has this incredible loving, joyous, life affirming effect and connection to and on audiences. His voice is out of this world and Space Man connects with all sorts of British roots – Elton, Bowie, ELO even Oasis. The second half of the chorus has a Love Shine A Light incredibly infectious vibe.
    Head of ESC 2022 Contest Twan, has singled out UK’s staging as ‘one to look out for’. Finally with the world class musical and show guidance of TAP, who manages some of the biggest acts on the planet, the UK – in almost out of the blue Germany and Lena Satellite fashion – is bringing it to the table.

    I’m predicting strongly the first UK win in 25 years – amazing singer, strong and infectious song and it would seem cracking staging. Only Poland I feel could threaten, but all things being even the UK’s overall package will be too strong and prove irresistable and the uniquely brilliant Sam Ryder can win comfortably with some to spare, in Turin on May 14th.

    • Showlad

      Dan Shipton has just thanked Twan on Instagram for “we couldn’t bring this staging idea to life without your support and we are so excited to get Sam Ryder onstage in Turin”

      • Showlad

        Apparently Greek staging was an April Fools Day red herring. I think Greece has top 5 potential with a great staging but does not have the potential of UK or Poland.

        Good luck everyone!

        • Rob

          Thanks for posting your thoughts, Showlad. Yes, it would appear those cheeky Greek japesters over at Eurovision Fun decided to come up with that elborate April Fool. I always recall Boki posting one on sofabet every year, & a lot of people falling for it.
          Talk of amazing UK staging… we’ve been here many times before in the past. I would treat with caution & wait to see what comes to fruition in Turin.

          • Showlad

            Hey Rob. I think the big-up of the UK staging has come from the UK side previously, not the head of the contest to be fair and apart from reasoning why The Rasmus is opening, the UK is the only country singled out for the ‘keep an eye out for/one to look out for’, so for me I’m getting the growing feeling that it’s all going to come together for the UK.

            I think his vocals are amazing – OK we could look at some strain/pitching/power in part on the falsetto but not to any degree that I would be worried about at all given the whole package vocally is outstanding. Also as I’ve posted up there are versions where the notes are pitch perfect at that point live too.

            I think with the attention to detail at the Turin sound mix Sam will find even the falsettos much easier than the tv studio sound mixes which can be very basic and one dimensional.

  3. Guildo Horn Forever

    Having not previously heard of him, I too became a big fan of Sam Ryder, his voice, his personality, and of his Eurovision song. (His Take Me To Church cover is insane.)

    But…as Rob has mentioned in his article, when you listen to his live versions of Space Man (the Bulgarian one; or the Chris Evans Breakfast show one), the key falsetto / high notes (of the chorus no less) sound stretched and strained, so much so that he’s been significantly lowering the volume at those points to try to maintain control.

    Otherwise, live, he really does sound like Freddie Mercury!

    I want to hear him really reproduce the soaring high notes of the epic studio version in a live vocal before I’d back the UK, given that the 12/1 to 14/1 odds don’t look especially generous.

    Along with about 20 other ESC entrants, I see he’s performing at the big London Eurovision Party event tomorrow, so I’m sure that will be a revealing event and shake up the markets a bit.

    I’m absolutely in love with the Italian song, but, again, find the odds (a general 3/1) unappealing.

  4. Showlad

    And as Barbara would say Voila…
    Singing TOTALLY live to Koreans and note perfect
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuhDPQvgr9I&t=5s

  5. Showlad

    ‘Official’ London Eurovision Party Videos are now emerging on partner site’s Wiwibloggs. Taking time to upload them but key uploads are UK and Poland.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuBPg3ImZOjYyMfm8TjRcW2FV9oV9_vtI

    UK – Sam oozes tons of charisma and confidence – vocal is very good – inc falsetto – though all of the acts, as is the norm in all of these ‘Eurovision Party’ performances, are having to put up with the standard poor sound mixes etc.

    Poland – Ochman is going in the right direction with more emotion in his performance but is still visibly uptight on stage and the 2 stage directors and 1 choreographer will hopefully have him more relaxed again with the rehearsed ‘set pieces’of their Turin staging. Vocally totally spot on, perhaps a bit more casual ad-lib and a little less trained would be good, but then he is a trained tenor.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Yeah, Sam (can I say “our” Sam?!) is super-dooper likeable and friendly. Probably the most likeable contestant in the contest. In a different way, Maro seems lovely, too.

      I’m not surprised Ochman looks tense at times. He closes his eyes when emoting, so obviously he’s temperamentally predisposed to internally experience emotion rather than project; plus that song is so demanding that I think he’s further inclined to close his eyes to block out external stimuli an aid his much-needed concentration. I guess they’ll probably have to have lots of camera shot close-ups of his face.

      And via the song’s lyrics he appears to be psyching himself up to go down the river to top himself – probably another influence on him to experience the song within. I hope Amanda Tenfjord doesn’t hear him as she’ll meet him at that river for a double suicide.

  6. Showlad

    Few shone last night at Eurovision In Concert.
    Poland emoting somewhat more but they want to get a move on big time with lifting that charisma and stage presence (still hangs head at instrumental section and monotone emotionally. Amazing vocally.

    The UK were the best by a very very long way – Sam owning the stage and oozing charisma
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0xaMl2YjFk&t=227s

  7. PeterNL

    Hi all,

    Yesterday I attended Eurovision In Concert. For what it’s worth, a few opinions from my side. First of all, there were some technical issues, that caused problems, especially for Czech Republic, Albania and Finland. In general the mix of the music and voice was not always great.

    The big favourite of the Eurovision fans was Spain. Chanel and her background dancers took little clothes, but many dance moves. This already looks like a finished product. Although it was obvious that ‘sex sells’ in this setting, I’m not convinced this will also be the case in a family show on TV.

    Poland also did a vocally great performance. Unfortunately Ochman has the charisma of a can of green peas, so it’s going to be interesting to see if they can work around this issue in May. On the contrary, as mentioned before here, the likeability of Sam from UK is amazing. It took him like 3 seconds to have everyone in the hall loving him. Even though the song might not be the greatest of the year, I can imagine televoters loving him like they did with Michal Szpak.

    In the same category Jeremie from Belgium also made a great impression. If he can perform like this in Turin, this will certainly attract a very high jury score.

    A little disappointment to me was Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine. They received many rounds of applause for just being there, and for making statements about the war. But the song itself made little impact, and only received lukewarm reactions from the hall.

    S10 from The Netherlands received a lot of enthusiasm of course. And the way she sang her song with a lot of confidence made this well deserved. This was really one of the highlights.

    From the others, Albania did very well. I can imagine this could give some competition to Spain in the region. Romania doesn’t have a great song, but if performed like this, it’s definitely a possible qualifier. Armenia is also one to pay attention to, this landed very well in the hall. Denmark, quite surprisingly, was one of the best of the night too. A shame the song is really poor. And Moldova, my personal favourite, created a big party, although I think this song received more love from the more ‘casual’ fans in the back of the hall (where we were), than from the ‘real’ fans in the front.

    On the more disappointing side, I’d say Iceland, Slovenia and Germany didn’t get anyone excited. As much as I love Croatia’s song, Mia singing it all alone on stage is unlikely to be enough for qualification to the final. Norway was funny, but the excitement was far less than for Keiino three years ago. France was again too messy to make the song as impressive as in the video. And Ireland did a decent job, but Brooke’s song feels to childish to attract a large number of votes.

    • Rob

      Thanks for Amsterdam thoughts, Peter. It’s always insightful to attend the pre-concerts. I’ve been to Amsterdam a good few times in the past but missed this year. I did attend the London concert the week before. I try and see how well the artist commands the stage as much as listening closely to the vocal delivery and studying the optics of the performance. The difficulty is sometimes trying to discern how much ‘live’ vocal you are actually listening to. The biggest caveat of course is, it’s a very different experience watching inside the venue at these pre-concerts compared to what we will see and hear at ESC which is all about what comes across on the tv monitor. And any video recordings of these pre-concert performances are vastly different sound-wise and visually to the real business in Turin.

      • Showlad

        Details on your thoughts on the London preview performances Rob? Would be great to hear your take on your criteria that you mentioned above.

        • Rob

          Sorry Showlad. I’ve covered that for subscribers only. Rehearsals is still going to be the big game-changer & all these pre-concert appearances only provide small intel.

      • In recent years I’ve become a bit….ambivalent about these pre-contest concerts. Yes, they give you an idea about how the artists sound live, and if they are able to ‘connect’ with the audience.

        But that has always been its biggest caveat. I remember the reactions when The Common Linnets and Duncan performed ‘live’. Most reactions: “Ooowh, well, it’s okay, but not sure”. Or what to think of sleepy Blanche in 2017.

        In the end, what works best….is having the most current up-to-date staging information. Because what counts is not a concert performance, but the finished videoclip performance for us people lounging on the sofa. Even jurors judge those finalized total packages from the eventual TV feed.

        Having knowledge about the actual staging directors, their accolades and how ‘music-marketing-savvy’ the actual artists are works a bit as well. Or….you can have an estimated guess of how it will eventually look like. That’s way more interesting for me than those pre-Eurovision concerts.

        Lastly….music is also about emotions. It’s the most subjective thing out there when betting. But it does help to go back to the very first live performance from a national final or late night show……and how you responded to that. So that this first ‘feeling’ doesn’t get polluted with all these pre-Eurovision concert cheers.

        Having said all that, my contenders for the victory based on what we know:
        ● SPAIN
        ● UNITED KINGDOM

        Shortly below that, and in essence the favourites right now:
        ● ITALY
        ● SWEDEN

        The ultimate ‘Common Linnets’-esque dark horse this year:
        ● PORTUGAL

        Other contenders, but more for any placing in the TOP 10 (IN descending order of probability):
        ● UKRAINE
        ● SERBIA
        ● POLAND
        ● FRANCE
        ● NORWAY

        TOP 13 contenders, as I am a bit less certain of these:
        ● THE NETHERLANDS
        ● GREECE
        ● ESTONIA

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I’ve watched more of these pre ESC events this year than any year previous…and I feel more confused than any time previous!

          I remember watching and laughing at the bizarre product-placement-heavy music vid for Fuego. Still, I thought the tune itself hooky and danceable. So I had a search around for live performances of Eleni, to find and judge that her live concert / event vocal was ropey and that her skimpily-dressed style was similarly jury unfriendly.

          As we know, she darn well nearly won the whole thing – despite her singing (while dancing) remaining sketchy and her remaining as classy as a Kim Kardashian video.

          I recall Farid’s singing for Hold Me was also a bit sketchy, but such were his looks and his charisma and the epic staging – it didn’t seem to matter and it was difficult to even notice it except from after multiple listen backs.

          This time around, my two favourites have been: Number 1: Italy; and Number 2: The UK.

          The three I’ve been monitoring closely through this ESC pre-event season have been: Czech Republic (magnificent dance tune); Belgium; and Estonia. I’ve gone completely off CR; am conflicted about Belgium; and find Estonia a very solid package (though I have a reservation or two.)

  8. Guildo Horn Forever

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