Lasagna Layers

Mar 25, 2024 by

Lasagna Layers

It’s been quite the ESC trading year already. As many as 12 nations have been matched at single figure prices on Betfair at various times during the season so far. We may well be in store for further dramatic price movements come Malmo in May.

The reason for the market volatility is the open looking nature of this year’s Contest, with Croatia’s ‘Rim Tim Tagi Dim’ currently residing as favourite at 4.2. It did temporarily drop as low as 3.75 in the last week prior to a recent live outing seeing the price drift out.

It is easy to forget when Baby Lasagna was seen performing this entry live for the first time in Dora’s second semi-final, Croatia more or less doubled in price from 9 to 18. The initial consensus market view appeared to be, this is not up to winning standard.

It went on to comfortably win Dora, romping the televote there, and we have seen a gradual contraction in price ever since. The fact it is leading the way on polls such as this one has helped push the price down further.

Its televote appeal looks obvious but jury doubts persist and Croatia backers are pinning their hopes on some significant improvement in terms of live performance and presentation.

Not only that but there appears to be more televote competition for Croatia to contend with this year. than, for example, runner-up Finland had to deal with last year. Does a more fragmented televote hinder Croatia’s winning chance? Croatia backers would counter that by saying it is potentially more jury-friendly than ‘Cha Cha Cha’.

Its televote appeal looks obvious but jury doubts persist and Croatia backers are pinning their hopes on some significant improvement in terms of live performance and presentation

Having traded as low as 3.5 post-Vidbir, Ukraine has since doubled in price to 7. The concerns are mainly twofold – the conflict with Russia is less in the public’s conscience now so the ceiling of its televote may have dropped, and the entry itself, incorporating rap, could turn out to be a little too divisive with juries.

It seemed like jury members were extremely generous towards Ukraine in 2022 to rank it fourth, we saw a significant drop off to 15th last year, and this will likely fall somewhere in between, especially given Ukraine has had its all too recent day in the sun at Eurovision.

Italy looks set to continue its excellent recent ESC form figures of 4-6-1-2-5-6. ‘La Noia’ is a joyful, harmonious ditty with clear USP. No orchestra to play off for Angelina Mango is one small negative and Italy layers are firmly of the view it won’t be able to haul in a big enough televote.

This is partly due to past solo females for Italy under-performing on the televote. Italy backers might counter that view by highlighting this entry is far superior to Francesca Michielin in 2016, Emma in 2014 and Nina Zilli in 2012.

Switzerland along with Netherlands are two market springers this year. Both drifted significantly following their reveal but have since been knocked down to single figure prices.

Nemo’s ‘The Code’ feels somewhat discordant as a three-minute song trying a little too hard to stand out from the crowd. Switzerland backers are putting their faith in some staging magic courtesy of UMK supremo Fredrik Rydman who staged ‘Cha Cha Cha’ last year and ‘Heroes’ in 2015 for Sweden.

The genre changes, the spoken word, the high notes… Making it all hang together coherently will be no small task and Nemo faces a big challenge to deliver a commanding and vote-winning live performance. And if he’s going to wear a tutu that would have to be a small red flag, optics-wise.

Switzerland backers are putting their faith in some staging magic courtesy of UMK supremo Fredrik Rydman who staged ‘Cha Cha Cha’ last year and ‘Heroes’ in 2015 for Sweden

Joost Klein is an accomplished live performer who looks like getting the most out of ‘Europapa’. The song has vague echoes of Russia’s 2020 entry ‘Uno’ by Little Big, and its YouTube success (14 million views in three weeks) is encouraging backers it can really fly on the televote.

The flip side is, it screams jury poison and the retro 90s house sound, exacerbated by that baseline that kicks in in the last minute, uncannily reminiscent of 2 Unlimited’s ‘No Limit’, could be its Achilles heel.

Spectacle feels like an increasing factor at the modern ESC but it still comes down to staging and live performance that succeeds in connecting with the TV viewer, and that doesn’t necessarily equate to in-your-face wacky and ‘out there’. And we need to remember Kaarija last year still came up short due to a jury deficit.

Belgium’s Mustii has a strong performance background as a TV and stage actor which could help him convey ‘Before The Party’s Over’ in a compelling manner live. It has a slow, subtle build and he will be aiming to carry the viewer along on a journey for the pay off of that pretty epic and anthemic last minute.

The Outright market on Betfair would have you believe it is a six-horse race with the remainder of the field rated 25-1 or bigger. But are some of the current market leaders being over-rated and could there be some dark horses lurking outside the front six that are being under-rated?

Belgium’s Mustii has a strong performance background as a TV and stage actor which could help him convey ‘Before The Party’s Over’ in a compelling manner live

It was ten years ago now that ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ and ‘Calm After The Storm’ emerged from also-ran status to become front-runners, while ante-post favourite Aram MP3 for Armenia faded into fourth place. A decade later it feels like there is scope for something similar to happen.

France has the feel of a potential jury bait entry.’ Mon Amour’ is quintessentially French but unlike La Zarra’s cliched effort last year it carries some substance behind it.

We saw what Italy’s Marco Mengoni achieved last year, and as a similarly well performed, authentic native language ballad, Slimane has justifiable aspirations to pull off a similar sort of result. Whether the French entry lands well enough with televoters will be partly down to live execution and running order.

There are some other decent entries lurking including what looks the strongest among the Baltics this year, Lithuania. Silvester Belt’s ‘Luktelk’ is a contemporary and catchy pop song, despite the Lithuanian language, encouraging a live audience clap along. It can potentially go big in the hall and the Lithuanian diaspora is one of the most reliable around these days.

Sweden will open the grand final and Marcus & Martinus could be at risk of missing out on a top 10 finish this year. The slick staging of ‘Unforgettable’ feels plastic in the extreme and while we’ve seen jury members reward similarly well-packaged live Swedish pop presentations previously, this entry feels like it goes too far, almost entering parody territory, and could also encounter a damaging televote shortfall.

The UK was, remarkably on reflection, trading as second favourite and matched as low as 6 on Betfair based purely on Olly Alexander being revealed as artist. Since ‘Dizzy’ was released the UK price has gone into freefall, now trading at 55, and no matter how radio-friendly it is as a commercial sounding pop song, it risks anonymity in a 26-runner field.

The uniquely Greek sounding entry. ‘Zari’, like ‘Europapa’, has proven to be a big domestic hit, which has seen its price drop to as low as 19

Israel hit single figures on the Outright early on in the season too due to the potential of a politically-motivated vote. Eden Golan’s ‘Hurricane’ is a decent pop ballad and she looks a capable live performer. Putting politics aside, it’s the sort of entry you would expect to fare better on the jury side of the equation but a pro-Israel vote, due to its negative connotations, could partly hinder jury support.

The uniquely Greek sounding entry. ‘Zari’, like ‘Europapa’, has proven to be a big domestic hit, which has seen its price drop to as low as 19. The staging is being done by Fokas Evangelinos and looks like following the telegenic Marina Satti in a continuous single camera shot around the stage.

Armenia is also bringing the ethno flavour, and a feel-good Bollywood sound, with Ladaniva’s ‘Jako’.

Jaklin Baghdasaryan has plenty of charisma and it’s an entry that could also surprise. You then have Cyprus and Georgia trying to be the stand out solo female banger, and we have seen excellent live stage shows elevate these sort of choreo-reliant uptempo pop entries in the past.

Some of the potential televote magnets this year include Austria, Finland and Estonia, while there are a host of entries, including Serbia and Latvia, that can make things more competitive on the jury side of the equation if able to navigate their way through the 100% televote semi-finals.

We are going to see the six automatic qualifiers performed live in full for the first time during the two semi-finals – Sweden, UK and Germany in semi-final 1; Spain, Italy and France in semi-final 2. It feels like a long overdue change. The EBU is promising one more big change this year.

We’ve never had more than four nations score over 400pts. The close and competitive nature of this year’s ESC suggests that record may be matched, or broken

The pre-party concert circuit, which gets underway in Madrid on Saturday, assorted live appearances, OGAE and Eurojury, will now impact the market and there is always scope to profit from the short-term market fluctuations that inevitably ensue, before the real action gets underway in Malmo at the end of April.

With rehearsals now behind closed doors, and only small crumbs of social media intel available, it won’t be until the eve of the semi-finals, and entries viewed as seen on TV in their entirety, that the picture will start to become clearer. As of now it’s impossible to call.

We’ve never had more than four nations score over 400pts (2022 – Ukraine, UK, Spain, Sweden). The close and competitive nature of this year’s ESC suggests that record may be matched, or broken.

As much as an open looking Contest is a boon for Betfair traders, the wide variety of genres represented also makes it an intrinsically more fascinating Eurovision than usual heading to Malmo.

6 Comments

  1. Ian Follin

    Hi Rob, yes totally agree, you can pick holes in every entry this year, or make your case for the ones you like. So far I’ve only backed Switzerland, in the hope the staging elevated it and Lithuania as I really like the song. But I’m not totally convinced by anything yet in truth.

    • Rob

      Hi Ian. An intriguing year, for sure, and scope for an entry or two to possibly come from leftfield if they can produce the wow factor when staged live in Malmo.

  2. Montell

    Great read as always, Rob. This looks like one of the most exciting Eurovisions I can remember. Firstly, there are a lot of good songs. Secondly, it’s so unclear who’s going to win. I think the most likely countries to win are Croatia, Ukraine, Belgium, Italy, or Lithuania, but then again, I could find quite a lot of reasons why each of these countries can’t win. However, someone has to win after all.

    • Rob

      This is it exactly, Montell. I find myself thinking back to some previous years when it was only sat there during rehearsals that suddenly entries leapt out as a cut above. But at this stage it’s a guessing game which nations will be the cream that rises to the top. It’s the sort of open ESC I much prefer to see develop, as you allude to – excitingly unpredictable atm.

  3. Durhamborn

    The most interesting year i can remember.Almost every song at the top of the betting has problems.
    I also dont think there is a winning song in that none of the songs deserve to win an ESC,so more than ever it will come down to package.Right now France looks strong to me,and although it could very very easily fail i find Greece having big potential.It has a chance to go huge on Tiktok and could really stand out.Marina looks superb on camera and if the staging works might top two the jury.
    Belgium looks good even though i find it horrific from a personal point,but could easily win.
    One that is going under the radar is Cyprus.Its throw away pop of course,but Silia is a superb dancer with boundless energy.Could see a big odds contraction during the semi.
    I should mention on Italy,i dont think Angelina would of won SR if it was not for the fact of who she is,and massive vote consolidation to stop a Geolier win.

    • Rob

      Hi Durham. Would agree with pretty much all that you mention there. We have heard Greek staging hyped in the past but this one intrigues me in particular. I like the idea of the single shot & it could stand out. Silia is a fantastic dancer & I think her track is perfectly sellable with great choreo. Amazed how the market has completely thrown Cyprus out, but that has been the case with a good few this year I can see potential with, and as we know the market isn’t always right.

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