Go Dutch

May 18, 2019 by

Go Dutch

The Netherlands was a strong favourite heading to Tel Aviv and over the 2 weeks of rehearsals I’ve not seen anything to change my view it’s the one to beat.

‘Arcade’ has always had the feel of comfortably the highest quality song in this year’s competition. Last night in front of the juries Duncan Laurence put in a typically assured vocal performance, and he should earn the plaudits for his impressive falsetto skills, including at song start. It would come as a surprise if he didn’t top the jury scoring, with John Lundvik in 2nd place.

Despite a high jury placement looking likely for Sweden, a top 4 placement overall does not look guaranteed. I’ve long felt the main issue will be the televote. Social media indicators during and after semi 2 suggest this could well be the case & Sweden might find itself falling down on the televote side to a damaging degree.

‘Arcade’ has always had the feel of comfortably the highest quality song in this year’s competition

I think 2nd place is more likely a fight between Switzerland and Russia. Russia we know will get a dependable televote regardless of the early running order. It won’t go as high as Lazarev’s previous televote total in 2016 (361pts) because this feels less Western European-friendly and ‘You Are The Only One’ had its impressive stage show selling an uptempo pop song. But Lazarev puts in such a commanding vocal performance I think juries will rate this one much higher than his 2016 effort.

Switzerland has a great running order in 24, Luca Hanni was excellent last night, and this should be attracting a strong televote this evening. Luca does a good job selling it with his engaging smile, it’s professionally staged, with excellent choreo, and as a credible, modern pop song jurors should have rated it highly in this field.

Australia is a conundrum because on past evidence jurors shouldn’t be scoring this pop-opera effort all that highly but partly because it’s Australia and partly because it offers up an arresting visual spectacle, with Kate delivering her impressive soprano throughout, jurors might score Australia higher than the song probably deserves.

The late running order is also a boost for it in terms of televote but Australia doesn’t have any natural voting allies so is relying on a Saturday night audience being wowed & rallying behind it.

‘She Got Me’ is professionally staged, with excellent choreo, and as a credible, modern pop song jurors should have rated it highly in this field

Placing The Netherlands in the 12 slot suggests it won the stronger looking semi 2. The EBU giving Australia 25th in the running order, while hinting it may well have won semi 1, is probably a show of confidence in its belief The Netherlands will comfortably be able to fend off the semi 1 winner overall.

Iceland is the joker in the pack in the sense there is the possibility it can achieve a really big televote from its nice r.o. position in 17. We might see an almost anti-ESC/anarchic vote kick in for it across Europe on a Saturday night. The concern is, all those jurors who are so middle-of-the-road they would have turned their noses up at it, and scored it poorly last night. The new jury voting method will help offset these low jury scores to a degree but Iceland will probably be hurt by this. It could be a lively one to trade in-running.

Azerbaijan looks more likely to be in the 5th-7th mix. It’s a modern-sounding pop song, the staging, while gimmicky, will impress enough people (televoters and jury members), and the running order in 20 helps it. Stats suggest 2 from Russia + former Soviet bloc always go top 10 and this looks the most likely candidate to join Russia.

Iceland is the joker in the pack in the sense there is the possibility it can achieve a really big televote from its nice r.o. position in 17

8th-10th is far more problematic and difficult to work out. My gut instinct is, Italy is fragile. Throughout ESC 2019 season, fans have been repeating the mantra ‘jury bait’ for this entry. This appears to have been fuelled by a fair degree of Italian fanwank-ery, and it would probably also be unwise to trust Sanremo jurors being remotely representative of the whole of Europe.

A surly looking guy rapping in Italian delivering a monosyllabic song may well be considered modern and credible by some, but it is also somewhat impenetrable on 1st listen and historically rap has never done well at ESC. So I think there is a ceiling, and much like John Lundvik, I don’t see Mahmood doing well with televoters.

So the Top Big 5 battle looks a lot closer than the odds would indicate. France was a huge gamble when 1st seen. My main issue is, Bilal isn’t a particularly charismatic performer, his vocal is reedy, the song is lacklustre and the staging of it is overkill. It may elicit a sympathetic ‘Arghh’ from tv viewers but I don’t think this will extend to people rushing to vote for it. On the jury side, I’d also be surprised if it’s anywhere near the top 10.

Spain is far from out of the Top 10 picture because while it’s the type of song a lot of jurors will score down, it has the chance of a strong televote from the pimp slot, ending the show on a fun, feel-good note, and Miki is a charismatic frontman. Switzerland-Australia-Spain is a strong televote finish, all will have their fans, but they could also eat into each other slightly.

Bilal isn’t a particularly charismatic performer, his vocal is reedy, the song is lacklustre and the staging of ‘Roi’ is overkill

After Norway’s Q from semi 2 it was no surprise to see its top 10 price plummet. But it has always had the look of an entry that might sneak through qualification from its semi-final courtesy of a big fan vote, and then go on to fare much worse in the final.

It’s doubtful the strange yoiking will travel that well round Europe, there are a lot of televote big hitters that follow it in the r.o., and it will more likely be forgotten about from its position in 14. Three Scandi nations achieving a top 10 finish also looks one too many.

The battle for Top Balkan is another tough one to call, and whichever nation comes out on top out of the Greece-Serbia-Slovenia-North Macedonia scrap will have a shot at achieving a Top 10 finish.

Serbia has the best r.o. but a strong North Macedonia could take points away from it. Slovenia has a clear USP and an under-stated charm that might allow it to earn more televote points Europe-wide compared to the other 3, while you sense the Greek staging has damaged the song’s televote appeal.

Greece will possibly be hurt following The Netherlands too but conversely it might be the one that has done best out of the 4 with jury members because of Katerine’s impressive high notes (the last of which she really stretched out last night) and the song’s modern feel. Quite the conundrum…

In terms of last place, Germany looks a valid favourite. Kobi for Israel and the UK’s Michael should earn enough jury points to escape total ignominy. And San Marino will probably get some friendly points from enough countries to also avoid the wooden spoon.

So, the official prediction for 1st to 10th, with little confidence in the 8th-10th range which could go many different ways:

1st – The Netherlands
2nd – Switzerland
3rd – Russia
4th to 7th range – Australia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan
8th to 10th game of roulette with an eye on value – Slovenia, Serbia, Spain

It would be no surprise to see Italy make the top 10, and the Top Balkan situation, as always, looks a bit of a crapshoot.

Last place – Germany

UK prediction – bottom 3

The very best of luck with all your investments this evening. Please feel free to share your thoughts below and flag up the value plays, as you see them, amongst the plethora of side markets now being offered by the bookmakers.

Matt’s thoughts:

Netherlands
From the moment I heard ‘Arcade’, it screamed winner and there has been nothing to change my mind in the last few months.
Switzerland
This has been racking up the downloads and with its vastly-improved running order, can be propelled to runner-up.
Australia
I have my doubts, but it is clear this has struck a chord with those looking for spectacle. The juries might drag this down but I’ll play safe and award Kate the bronze.
Russia
Another where the televote cannot be argued with. Sergey should have enough to be comfortably top 5.
Sweden
Sweden may beat Russia, but this has underperformed on a number of metrics, so 5th it is.
Italy
This should go well on both sides so I would not be surprised to see it edge out any of the three above.
Azerbaijan
The East always has two representatives in the Top 10 and Azerbaijan ticks the Spotify box.
Iceland
This did good social media on Tuesday and has potential to register even higher tonight.
France
Not my favourite, but the televote has to be respected.
North Macedonia
The final slot was between Malta, Norway and Serbia, but I have plumped for North Macedonia who will have the goodwill of many of the juries.
Thanks for reading and good luck with all your bets.

12 Comments

  1. James

    Thanks Rob & Matt for your excellent daily reports. I am hoping for a Netherlands or Switzerland win tonight.

    In terms of obscure side bets, I have placed bets on the following…

    Italy to give the UK zero points (jury & televote) @ 6/4 (SkyBet)
    Germany, France & Italy all to give the UK zero points @ 8/1 (SkyBet)
    UK to give Australia 12 points on the televote @ 6/1 (Paddy Power)

  2. george

    my problem with Australia is watching the performance gives me vertigo/sea sickness once they start the swaying

  3. Matt

    And that’s before you hear how bad the song is George!

  4. Here we go then:

    1) Netherlands
    2) Switzerland
    3) Australia
    4) Iceland
    5) Italy
    6) Sweden
    7) Russia
    8) Azerbaijan
    9) Norway
    10) North Macedonia

  5. PeterNL

    Rob and Matt, thanks for all your reporting and good luck tonight. I’m glad that you also don’t see anything in the French song, since I’ve felt all the time it was overrated (confirmation bias alert, hehe).
    Otherwise I think I agree with everything you say here. I only feel worried about Spain’s chances to reach the Top 10/15. After 2 great songs, this might feel a bit too ‘easy’ and in the 26th slot, this might mean people lose their interest after the first minute. That’s why I don’t touch it.

    For what it’s worth, my Top 10:

    1. Netherlands
    2. Switzerland
    3. Russia
    4. Azerbaijan
    5. Sweden
    6. Australia
    7. Italy
    8. Iceland
    9. Serbia
    10. Norway

  6. Stuart

    Thanks for all your reports over the fortnight Rob and Matt and like you I had bet on the Netherlands for the win from the word go, so a nice result. Looking forward to your coverage in Amsterdam.

  7. george

    Netherlands 3rd in Jury vote and 2nd in public vote but still won.
    I think the competition is broken

  8. neomichael

    Thank you both Rob and Matt for all your insights into the maze of ESC. It was a prosperous year and I am pretty sure it has been for you and all your readers too.
    For me it is pretty impressive that top4 pre-reheasals favourites managed to finish also top4 (almost in the same order as the bookies had them) irregardless of all the market’s rollercoaster during the rehearsals’ period. All market surprises- France/Azerbaijan/Australia- and lastly North Macedonia did’t managed to surpass those 4. I tend to believe that especially during the live broadcasting there is a lot of unjustified volatility in the odds that can be exploited (for instance Portugal NQ (1,4 ->2,5), San Marino Q: 3,2->6,5) , Russia Top4(3,25->5,50), Netherlands to win (1,7->2,35).

    Have a good time & enjoy your profits!
    Ready for the esc withdrawal syndrome now.. 🙂

  9. Montell

    Just imagine what Italy could have achieved if they had gotten their staging right? Only 26 points behind The Netherlands. That’s almost nothing. Soldi was my favorite song from day one. It’s just so good.

    North Macedonia. I’m amazed that this won the jury vote. The song is not very interesting and it’s too old-fashioned. Austria in 2018 was much worthier winner.

    Check Republic. I like the song a lot and I think it was worth finishing 8th with the juries but then I really don’t understand why in 2018 the juries had Czech Republic 15th. For me “Lie To Me” is at least two times better than “Friend of a Friend”.

    Sweden. I hope they will find the way to televoters hearts. I think they made the right decision by selecting John Lundvik but In 2018 they definitely should have chosen Felix Sandman. Would’ve been higher than 7th for sure.

    Norway. Now that’s how you write a song! This is a banger! I love that they won the televote. This is my 2nd most listened song after Soldi.

    Overall ESC 2019 was much easier to predict than ESC 2018. I got 9/10 in my TOP 10 prediction compared to 6/10 last year (my worst prediction ever). Really really looking forward to 2020 🙂

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