Greek Goddess

May 14, 2019 by

Greek Goddess

It’s difficult to recall an ESC semi-final of this nature before, where you can make a case for a number of countries achieving a top 3 finish, and on the flipside also make a case for them being only borderline Qs or even shock NQs.

In terms of the semi 1 win, Greece looks a worthy favourite. Katerine nailed those demanding high notes in front of the juries last night and it feels like the most likely jury winner. It’s a contemporary pop song exhibiting some clever artistry, it is well performed, memorably staged and has a great running order. It will be interesting to see what UK punters make of it when it is seen for the first time this evening.

Greece has pretty much the ideal penultimate slot in the sense it is preceded by 3 highly unique entries in Australia, Iceland and Portugal which are all different shades of wtf? And the quality of Greece is hammered home when Serhat comes out and performs his uptempo slice of cheesy, dated pop from the pimp slot.

The darling of the press centre in Tel Aviv has been Australia and it has been shortening relentlessly across all markets. We might even see Australia flip-flopping with Greece as favourite for the semi win tonight in-running if this sea of money continues. But Australia has to have a good few question marks hanging over it.

The fans here have lapped it up largely because it is such an OTT, cabaret performance by Kate and it naturally plays well to the predominantly LGBT community. Over the many years of trading Eurovision it has mostly proved wise to treat press centre hype with extreme caution.

We might even see Australia flip-flopping with Greece as favourite for the semi win tonight in-running if this sea of money continues

If you look back on Cesar for Romania in 2013 he was 13th on the jury side in his semi. And Estonia’s ‘La Forza’ was only 7th last year on the jury side, with an opera offering that was sold as something a lot more credible and a lot less novelty than this Australian entry. So unless we are going to see yet more Australian bias on the jury side there are justifiable grounds for doubt regarding how well it will do with the juries in this semi.

The Australian televote looks more secure because of the song’s visual USP, though it does have no natural allies and is immediately followed by Iceland which to my eyes and ears comfortably eclipses it. Australia remains in the mix for a top 3 finish in semi 1 but that’s certainly not a given, and its price has gone far too short across all markets in my view, matched as low as 8.8 on the Outright this afternoon. The Outright market has seemingly been seduced by visuals this year and has forgotten about song quality.

You might want to consider Iceland as an e/w alternative to Greece in semi 1 given its drifting price. It’s so professionally presented I don’t think its divisive nature will hold it back that much on the jury side. Certainly not in a semi like this which is generally lacking in quality. And don’t forget the EBU has tweaked the jury scoring system so those very low jury scores have less impact on the overall jury points awarded which has to be good news for Iceland.

For its ‘industrial’ genre it is strong. The one nagging concern is, on a Tuesday evening, whether it might not have as much impact and as many televoters supporting it as might be the case on a Saturday night across Europe.

Over the many years of trading Eurovision it has mostly proved wise to treat press centre hype with extreme caution

Both Portugal and Poland have looked vulnerable in this semi even before we arrived in Tel Aviv, and the doubts have escalated throughout rehearsals. Portugal is going to need some sort of ’Save Conan’ memo to have been sent to juries by the EBU because in the past, this is the exact sort of ethno weirdness that has been frowned upon by jury members, while televote-wise it is hard to see the appeal.

For a long time the market has seemed to think Poland is going to Q courtesy of a big televote but it’s bereft of allies in this semi, and both as a song and in terms of Tulia’s visual USP, the Polish entry doesn’t feel strong enough to gain enough of a televote to overcome what is likely to be a significant jury shortfall.

It is simply nowhere near the charm or quality of the 2014 Polish pop entry ‘My Slowianie’, staging has done very little to elevate it and the case for the Polish defence probably hinges on this being a weaker semi compared to semi 2 with a low qualification bar. When you have something as bland as Victor Crone singing ’Storm’ as your barrier to, in theory, keeping Poland and Portugal out of the top 10 in this semi, there does remain a smidgeon of doubt, but the value has been to lay Poland to Q at odds-on.

Competent, middle-of-the-road, mid tempo fare like ’Storm’, is usually able to do just about well enough on both the jury and televote side to get through. To his credit, Victor probably performed it as well as he has ever done last night in front of the juries, and he may squeeze through courtesy of being a beacon of safe, generic pop amidst the madness of Australia, Iceland and Portugal.

The Belgium song is more modern and credible, and should do slightly better on the jury side. Eliot might be a little more voteable than Victor too. Eliot has really sharpened up his game vocally and performance-wise over the rehearsal period and was fine in front of the juries last night. The staging gives Belgium an accessible yet avant-garde feel which should see it make the Q list.

Value-wise, Serbia makes plenty of e/w 3 places and Top 3 appeal. It would come as no surprise if it is as high as 2nd or 3rd on the jury side, Nevena performed well last night, and given it’s a friendly semi for Serbia it should go well in tonight’s televote. For those who have the bank, and cojones, to plough thousands of pounds onto an entry perceived as a banker Q, it would probably be Serbia in this semi.

The one to consider taking on for top 3 is probably Cyprus though the value odds-on top 3 lay prices have long since been snaffled. Tamta, again, was vocally unimpressive last night, and ‘Replay’ comes across as a plastic pop song performed in a very stock manner. Juries may have been kind to it because of the vague veneer of professionalism but it still looks up against it to make the top 3, especially from the opening slot.

For those who have the bank, and cojones, to plough thousands of pounds onto an entry perceived as a banker Q, it would probably be Serbia in this semi

Slovenia, Hungary and Czech Republic are the other 3 to consider for a top 3 finish. Watching the jury run last night Slovenia strikes the first real note of quality in the first half. Gasper is interacting much better with Zala now, they have improved the lighting and close-up camera work, and following Poland it jumps out as a song of merit. The clear risk with Slovenia is, jurors can be blind to this sort of thing, sung in a foreign language, even though ’Sebi’ is a modern composition, and it may be more up to televoters to rally behind it.

Joci delivered his ethno ballad with heart-felt authenticity last night, as always, and the visuals are nicely done although there may be some puzzlement among viewers regarding what exactly the images of fathers represent.

Regarding the younger female vote there is a slight question mark regarding Czech Republic’s televote appeal because Albert perhaps comes across as a bit too dorky. Some younger jury members may have been generous towards Lake Malawi even though to my eyes the way he bounces around stage grinning cheesily looks amateur and drags the song down to the level of a CBeebies presentation. Once the dust has settled on semi 1 we might well find the jury scoring to be all over the place.

It is always worth asking the question, is there room for a surprise envelope? While Montenegro looks totally chanceless a small case can probably be made for all of Finland, Georgia, Belarus and, at a push, San Marino given the potential televoting power of the pimp slot. Of those 4, Belarus could have the best chance of a shock Q in this semi.

It is a modern enough sounding song and Zena performs it really well. Jury members should give her some dues. This semi is more Eastern Europe-leaning compared to semi 2 too. She ideally needs the teen girl vote to come out in force, but there are grounds for hope it can get high enough on the televote to sneak into the 10.

If Zena had the quality of staging they have given Michela Pace for Malta, who is an inferior performer, her Q claim would be even stronger. Sadly for her and typical of Belarus, the staging is a little bit incoherent. But given the fragile looking nature of this semi, Belarus could get in ahead of one or two others.

In terms of last place, Montenegro might not be as nailed on as it looks, courtesy of a few brown envelopes doing the rounds. The 3 at prices possibly worth a small stab are Georgia (who usually play it fair), Poland and Portugal. Finland is presented well enough and Darude’s profile should ensure it doesn’t end up with the wooden spoon.

If Zena had the quality of staging they have given Michela Pace for Malta, who is an inferior performer, her Q claim would be even stronger

It is extremely boring to agree with the BF market but my gut feeling is, it probably has it right and the prediction here is, the 10 Qs will be, in no particular order, Iceland, Greece, Australia, Slovenia, Serbia, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Hungary, Belgium, Estonia.

Best of luck with all your investments this evening and please feel free to add your semi 1 opinions below.

Matt’s view of semi 1:

Semi-final 1 is a little trappier than it first appears, with a lack of jury standouts, bar Greece and Serbia. As such, I feel the televote may have a greater say in the final 10. The first eight qualifiers feel easy enough and echo most of the other advice out there in ESC land.

My top 8 in order are:

1st – Greece
2nd – Australia
3rd – Serbia
4th – Iceland
5th – Hungary
6th – Czech Republic
7th – Slovenia
8th – Cyprus

This then leaves Belgium, Estonia, Portugal and Georgia fighting over the last two places. Of those I am most comfortable with Belgium as Elliot is the archetypal, unthreatening boy next door and, as such, is pretty relatable.

Despite myself, my final call is going to be Portugal. Estonia is too bland, which though potentially a good thing in its slot, feels unvotable. At least Conan offers a talking point.

So to add to the 8 above:

9th – Belgium
10th – Portugal

Good luck with your bets.

1 Comment

  1. Will have a go at the order:
    Q: Aus, Gre, Ser, Ice, Cyp, Slo, Hun, Cze, Belg, Geo
    NQ: Bela, Pol, Por, Est, SM, Fin, Mon

    Comfortable with top 4 but all look shakey below that. Also think Estonia will struggle.

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