Georgia A Top 3 Lock

Apr 2, 2013 by

Georgia A Top 3 Lock

Having cogitated further on this year’s semi-finals, the market looks to have it about right in semi 1 at this stage, but ahead of rehearsals it is very hard to predict who is most likely to come out on top in terms of the 4 big guns of Denmark, Russia, Ukraine and the Netherlands.

Ukraine is not a strong entry in our view but Zlata’s vocal strength may be able to lift it higher and it remains to be seen what clever staging they have up their sleeve. Ukraine usually does a very good job.

Anouk has the most beneficial running order position among the big 4, coming at the end of the first half, and we could easily envisage Birds topping the jury vote in this semi. The big question with the Netherlands is how big a televote it can harness. Staging for this song could also prove pivotal and unlike Ukraine, the Netherlands does not have such a strong track record in this vital element.

Serbia, earlier advised here at 25-1 e/w, has been well supported into 16-1 and we will be keeping our powder dry with regard to the semi 1 win market until rehearsals get underway and we have more information at our disposal.

Semi 2 is a lot more interesting at this stage because the market, outside the front 2 in the betting, looks wrong. Here’s the reasoning why: it is going to be very difficult for San Marino to get into the top 3 from its draw in 2 with little proven voting power. Azerbaijan also has a pretty ordinary draw in 4, and while people like to think of it as some kind of voting colossus, it certainly isn’t in this semi-final. Its barely 7th on our historical voting stats and doesn’t scream potential top 3-er right now.

While the concern with Serbia’s top 3 chances in semi 1 is how much the juries will pull it down, this is even more the case with Greece’s song this year. Greece is comfortably clear in this semi on voting strength but will very likely be dragged out of top 3 contention after juries have had their say.

Armenia’s song is strikingly weak as a rock ballad and the band is far from telegenic so it is very hard to see this in the shake up for top 3 despite Armenia’s solid voting strength in this semi. Its draw in 11 is far from a positive and it could even shape up as a potential shock non-qualifier but that decision will need to wait until after seeing the song performed during rehearsals.

Romania is even weaker and regardless of its pimp slot this does not look a runner for top 3 on first impressions. Yes, Lithuania made top 3 last year from the pimp slot in its semi, and it had less voting strength than Romania commands in this semi, but on reflection semi 2 last year was an extremely weak affair.

As for the front 2 in the semi 2 market, Norway and Georgia look to both have very solid claims. There is still a question mark hanging over Norway, however, as to whether the sound of the song heard in the Norway final can be replicated in Malmo with backing singers rather than a backing track.

This is enough to put us off getting involved in Norway until we hear Margaret in rehearsals. Which leaves us with our strongest semi-final selection pre-rehearsals, and that is Georgia.

Nodi and Sophie are accomplished vocalists and there is less concern regarding how this song will sound in Malmo, with backing singers joining in on that powerful key change in the last minute.

There was also a video of the likely staging of this song, sadly removed from YouTube now so we cannot post it here. Suffice to say, it looked impressive, with echoes of Azerbaijan in 2011, which adds to confidence that Georgia should comfortably land in the top 3 in semi 2, and could easily win semi 2 given its excellent draw in 15. We would advise snapping up the 9-2 e/w with Boylesports.

With Norway and Georgia looking the likeliest at this stage to be fighting it out for the semi-final win, this still leaves room for a surprise podium-ist โ€“ forgive us if there is no such word. If there isn’t, there really should be. And if there isn’t, there is now. Add it to the ESC lexicon. It has just been invented here ๐Ÿ™‚

First and foremost, betting should be an exercise in value. Last year, we pinpointed Albania as a value e/w bet at 66-1 and it came 2nd in semi 1 beaten by only 6pts by Russia. In 2011 Greece was advised e/w at 50-1 in semi 1, and it won that semi. So it really can pay to fish in the waters of the bigger priced semi contenders.

Having pinpointed some of the potential deficiencies in Azerbaijan, Greece, San Marino, Armenia and Romania we are more than happy to look further down the betting list in semi 2.

One worth considering is Israel. Moran Mazor’s ballad should be lapped up by juries and Israel has a solid enough base of voting friends in this semi. Moran appears to have a decent set of pipes on her so 20-1 looks fair value e/w. That said, before getting seriously involved, it would be best to see and hear how this song shapes up live.

Albania, as the standalone authentic rock tune, has a certain USP in this semi. It also has plenty of voting strength, and a decent running order position in 14. It beats its main rock opposition, Armenia, on all counts โ€“ greater voting strength, better draw and stronger song. So we would not put you off from an e/w interest at 80-1.

The last one to consider has to be Switzerland. This song has the potential to pull a Sjonni’s Friends, Iceland’s entry in 2011, which surprised many by finishing 4th in semi 1, only 3pts off 3rd. This is written up in our ‘Douze Points‘ section โ€“ no.8: unexpected vote-influencing elements.

‘Coming Home’ was undoubtedly boosted by its back story. It was sung by the friends of the guy intended to originally sing it but who passed away prior to the contest. Switzerland’s happy band, Takasa, includes 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer, Eurovision’s oldest ever performer, on double bass. Not only that but they are a Salvation Army band. Seasoned X Factor followers will sniff 2 potential voting boosts here.

‘You And Me’ is a pleasant, toe-tapping ditty and Switzerland has a terrific draw in 16 but potentially its strongest asset is the band’s back story. Switzerland lacks voting friends in this semi but it’s the type of song that could do surprisingly well with juries, aided by its minnow status. There are certainly more than enough positives for it to outperform its current price and it is well worth an e/w investment at 66-1.

Have you reached more concrete opinions yet regarding the two semis? Do you have a strong view on who will come out on top in semi 1 between Denmark, Russia, Ukraine and the Netherlands? Where do you see the value in semi 2? Please do drop us a line below.

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20 Comments

  1. Tim B

    Great post, Rob. I have exactly the same thinking as you when it comes to Albania. Had a bit of a Eureka moment and decided to back it at 81.0 E/W down my local Coral shop just this afternoon. The song is very credible, the new version is more refined and you’d hope it has the potential to have an exciting and memorable performance.

    Georgia I backed E/W a couple of weeks ago at a bigger price, so it’s great that you believe so strongly in it at its current price. I was fortunate enough to catch the video of the staging before it was taken down (by the EBU, according to YouTube) and this entry really has the potential to be quite stunning come May. On the back of this, I also backed Georgia for top 4 on Betfair, having taken all sorts of monster prices up to 91.0 in the outright.

    I think I disagree slightly on Greece. It is very clearly first in terms of voting strength in this semi, but I don’t think the juries are going to punish it as much as some might think. It has a novelty element but is far from a novelty entry. Koza Mostra are a credible band with an authentic sound, and the song has a strong national identity. It is loads of fun, and these upbeat party songs can perform better in the semis than in the final – thinking of Cyprus, Greece, Russia and Romania from last year. A semi win is probably out of the question, and does not appeal at the current best price of 11.0. Instead I will consider a top 3 bet at a later stage, if they can get the staging right – there is plenty of time.

    Switzerland’s entry this year is not for me. It has a mountain to climb in order to even qualify, in my opinion. Switzerland is dead last in voting power here, and I think we could be looking at a bottom 5 placing with the juries here. ‘Coming Home’ by Sjonni’s Friends is far superior, and their story was a lot more powerful as the man actually died. I have a Eurovision 2013 playlist on Spotify, and this is one I almost always skip when I’m out and about.

    Israel has some potential and is pretty impressive, but it isn’t the easiest of ballads on the ear. To me it is strikingly similar to ‘Milim’ from 2010, which scored highly with juries but poorly with televoters. I think this will do about as well.

    Norway is deservedly the strong favourite to win this semi. I have no doubts that the Norwegian delegation will get the vocals right. Georgia will join them in the top 3 and could even win it. 3rd place seems to be up for grabs and at this early stage I fancy Albania or Greece to take it.

    If anyone wishes to subscribe to my Eurovision playlist, please find the link below. I’m updating it as I find more entries on Spotify.

    http://open.spotify.com/user/the_mars_volta/playlist/6LsSn4gi7SSx8yl2Li11ey

  2. Boki

    Fully agree on Georgia, it was always my preferred one of this year’s eastern ballad bunch. I see it as only contender to Norway for the semi win.
    I don’t get you love for Albania guys, sorry, it’s dreadful to me or to be more precise – they are dreadful to watch. You have it at evens @Paddy’s to Q, that’s pretty generous if you like it so much.

  3. Rob

    Good stuff, Tim! If Greece had the pimp slot in semi 2 it would certainly be of interest for an e/w & top 3 investment. As it is, it doesn’t help its cause to be buried away in the 9 slot.

    We have seen the anti-diaspora effect kick in with juries in recent years & there look to be plenty of songs of jury likeability in this semi to send Greece spiralling downwards.

    It isn’t that far-fetched to imagine the Swiss song doing surprisingly well. Seeing an old guy having the time of his life on stage, playing the double bass, on the back of broadcasters Europe-wide explaining the story behind the band, has the potential to leave televoters thinking, ‘Ah, bless him. Let’s send the sweet Salvo band our votes’.

    The song itself engenders a warm feeling & if they can put across its feel-good spirit via the staging, who knows. I personally wouldn’t rate ‘Coming Home’ any stronger than this Swiss tune, & the price looks big based on the negatives put forward against many other songs in this semi that trade much shorter.

    Slovenia had very low voting strength in 2011 but managed 3rd in its semi. Ditto Lithuania last year. And the ESC minnows often get a jury boost. I doubt Romania is going to steal Takasa’a thunder other than people thinking, ‘Please put this guy (Cezar) out of his misery’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    You also only need to look at those compelling semi-final penultimate slot & last slot stats to further the case for Switzerland.

  4. Rob

    Good spot, Boki – that does look on the big side. If Albania are dreadful to watch, how are you able to cope with Armenia? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Identitet is a proper rock tune with requisite guitar solo.

  5. Boki

    I didn’t mention Armenia on purpose ๐Ÿ™‚
    Seriously, I’m not 100% sure if Gor is coming with his band (bad idea) or not. At least he tries to be serious with his weak song. Still I can imagine Armenians voting in numbers after last year absence.

    Proper rock with guitar solo doesn’t have the great esc history imo, Albanian guys are not telegenic and despite the late slot they are sandwiched between 2 best songs. They will probably come through because of some allies but I’m not going to bet on that.

    Looking at the semi 2 recap, Swiss comes surprisingly (feel)good through I have to admit.

    • Tim B

      Ha, I see what you mean about Dorians’ band members – they are far from telegenic. But surely the song will work better in having a full band on stage, to impress the juries if nothing else. The singer has an excellent vocal – really crisp and pure. The diaspora will be voting like mad, especially after not entering last year and not qualifying the year before. Unless they really mess up the staging, I see no problems with Armenia qualifying.

  6. Tim B

    Rob, was there anything putting you off Bulgaria E/W at 101.0? I’ve just backed it. They’re in the first half but towards the end of it, have plenty of voting power, an original and authentic ethnic song likely to score well with the juries. We have seen from 2007 and their preview video that this duo can produce a very captivating performance. The price should be more like 21.0 imo. It’s lumped in at the same price with no-hopers FYR Macedonia and Latvia, probably because it sounds somewhat bizarre to Western ears. I think it has a lot going for it and happy to buy a little at the current price.

    • Rob

      That’s a very fair shout, Tim, & the sort of ‘outside the box’ thinking I firmly believe is imperative when investing in the ESC markets.

      I do think it is a far, far inferior song to their 2007 effort, ‘Water’, but they bring so much joy of instrument-playing to the stage that it could exceed expectations.

      Will be interesting to see how it shapes up live in Malmo.

  7. Ben

    Where are you guys getting your qualification odds? From what I can see on oddschecker, only Paddy Power and Betfair are offering any

    • Rob

      If you look closely, Ben, under the ‘More’ tab, you will also find Bwin qualification odds. But it’s only them, Paddy Power & a more obscure bookmaker called NordicBet offering qualification prices atm.

      Keep an eye out as many more firms should be pricing up in the next few days.

  8. Chiggs

    Off topic but are you going to cover The Voice, Rob?

    • Rob

      Hi Chiggs. Not this year I’m afraid. It is going to clash far too much with the ESC, which will be the sole focus here all the way through to the final on May 18.

      So much of it has been pre-recorded in this series, I gather the live shows will only run for 3 weeks starting June 8. But come that time, I would not have followed the episodes closely enough to provide an informed opinion.

  9. Boki

    Hi Ben, oddschecker doesn’t cover all bookies (e.g. Nordicbet, Betsafe, Betsson, Unibet) while Bwin is shown in a weird manner. If the first one who finds something post it somewhere that spreads so keep eye on few betting sites.

  10. Rob

    Skybet now have ‘to qualify’ odds up.

  11. Boki

    Thanks Rob. Shameful prices though. Btw Unibet has few up for semi1.

  12. Boki

    Bet365 has Q prices up.

  13. Rob

    Thanks Boki – keep flagging these up when they appear. Often, they do not register for a while with oddschecker. It is useful for readers to get ahead of the stampede ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. funky

    Georgia whilst well sung is a boring and instantly forgettable entry…if you listen to it, then try to recall it a minute later…there’s nothing there at all.

  15. Tim B

    Rob, can I ask you what you think of Moldova, now that we know Aliona Moon is singing in Romanian? There’s a couple of live versions floating around, like this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jg2yROaaLA

    I think she sounds a bit more convincing in Romanian – she was singing ‘A-mee-lee-un’ before. I’d say she was a likely qualifier with the draw and ex-USSR votes she’s guaranteed to scoop up. The stage show was quite good in the national final as well.

    • Rob

      That is a good find, Tim. She does sound a little better there than she did in the Moldovan final so maybe this explains the switch in language. That said, I still don’t think she is a vocal powerhouse, & given the plethora of solo female ballads in this semi, I would still make this a borderline case.

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