Four Big-Priced ESC Gems

Mar 18, 2011 by

Given the unknown factors that can still send shock waves through the ESC markets, it is worth considering those countries currently considered outsiders but which, granted qualification, a good final draw and an excellent live performance, can easily belie their current generous prices.
When you look at the head of the market, the likes of Sweden, Estonia and Norway are being perceived as guaranteed televoting hits, but jury support is more questionable, and it could just be that they are performed poorly live, not to mention the possibility of a bad final draw among the first 10, assuming they all qualify – by no means a sure thing either.
So, top of our list of potential dark horses currently trading at a ridiculously huge price is Bulgaria. ‘Na Inat’ is sung by Pink-lookalike Poli Geneva, and when she won the national final it was noticeable what a superb live vocal and stage showmanship she produced. This was again witnessed by all those who tuned into the Greek national final at which Poli put on another great performance during the half-time interval.
Also helping make this song stand out is that it has a genuine rock edge – something largely absent in this year’s competition. Poli has decided to stick to singing the song in Bulgarian which may end up giving it a certain USP as so many of her rivals have switched to singing in English. In fact, it looks like only 8 entries will be sung entirely in their native language, and already one or two of the translated versions lack the gravitas of the original. It also boasts a beautiful piano riff that combines well with Poli’s vocal.
Bulgaria‘s ESC history isn’t great but it hasn’t entered a song as good as ‘Na Inat’ since 2007’s ‘Water’ which finished 5th in the final. A widely-available 100-1 e/w first 4 is too big to resist – and you can currently back this entry at over 200 on Betfair.
Bulgaria is in a very open-looking 2nd semi-final but has landed a good draw coming after the Cyprus ballad and before a very poor Macedonia entry, and at the start of the second half of the show. Bulgaria could also end up a generous price for semi-final qualification and value in Betfair‘s top 10 market.
Our next pick of the longer-priced contenders has to be Slovenia. ‘Vanilija’ sung by Maja Keuc is without question the best solo female ballad at this year’s ESC. Austria’s Nadine Beiler arguably has a better vocal but ‘Vanilija’ is a far superior song to ‘The Secret Is Love’ in our view. Maja not only has a great voice but is extremely pleasing on the eye which is never a bad thing when it comes to the staging and will certainly enable her to sell this song.
Slovenia has a pretty desperate qualification record – only qualifying for the final once in the last 7 years but it has never entered a song as good as ‘Vanilija’ before. Maja will perform 13th in semi-final 2 sandwiched between Israel’s formulaic pop tune and the mid tempo Romania song. If Maja can produce the power-packed vocal seen in the national qualifier she has the opportunity to really stand out. At 50-1 e/w first 4 with William Hill, Slovenia is definitely worth a bet, and 66-1 with Betfred to win is also worth a poke. We will resist the temptation to add a quip in here about the gorgeous Maja.
But on the subject of crowd-pleasing good looks, not to mention fantastic dance moves, Poland‘s Magdalena Tul singing ‘Jestem’ certainly ‘brings it’ to the stage. Magdalena has decided to sing ‘Jestem’ in Polish in the final, and like Poli singing in Bulgarian this could prove a wise choice. She also requested the 1 slot in semi-final 1 which raised a few eyebrows at the time but will enable her to grab the limelight if, as expected, she produces a show-stopping routine to open proceedings.
‘Jestem’ is a really decent uptempo pop tune, and if Poland qualify for the final and receive a good draw it’s easy to see it getting in the shake up at the top of the leaderboard. Poland has only qualified for the final once in the last 6 years but ‘Jestem’ is its best entry since 2003 when it finished 7th. 66-1 e/w first 3 with Boylesports is terrific value and should be snapped up post-haste. We would recommend topping up if one of the other high street bookies offers at least 40-1 e/w first 4.
Our final pick among this year’s perceived outsiders has to be Georgia. It finished 9th last year with the decent but far from outstanding ballad ‘Shine’. This year it has gone for something altogether different in the guise of rock tune ‘One More Day’ performed by Eldrine. Massively in this song’s favour is that it’s the only defiantly loud and uptempo rock tune in the whole contest – and we are hoping lightning strikes twice as it was the same situation with Turkey’s ‘We Could Be The Same’ performed by MaNga last year, which ended up finishing 2nd.
Georgia has replaced the lead vocalist so a good live performance would appear to be a given. The band will need to bring the right look and attitude to the stage to really sell the song, but if they can pull it off 66-1 e/w first 4 with William Hill will look huge, and Georgia can also currently be backed at a 3-figure price on Betfair. Georgia has landed a reasonable enough draw of 9 in semi-final 1 – between Switzerland’s rather dull ballad, and Finland’s attempt at replicating Belgium’s Tom Dice from last year – and if it manages to qualify it could develop into a value top 10 contender.
But for now we’ll leave you with the lovely Magdalena going through the gears at the Polish national final. Enjoy!
Rob Furber

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