Romania to Rock ESC Semi 1

Apr 12, 2012 by

Romania to Rock ESC Semi 1

Time to run the rule over semi-final 1 of ESC 2012. Last year, we were able to pluck out the semi-final 1 gem of Greece, tipped up here at 50-1 e/w. The year before we picked out Turkey to win semi 2 at 12-1. We’ll try our very best to find you another long-priced winner, but 3 in 3 years might be asking a bit too much.
Two key factors in Greece’s favour last year were, it had the best of the draw (19 of 19), and huge voting strength in that semi (among the top 2). The Greek delegation went on to set up awesome staging for the song ‘Watch My Dance’ and Loukas Giorkas then delivered a powerhouse vocal, helping to make up for Stereo Mike’s, and the song’s, shortcomings.
This year, the only song with a great late draw, and voting strength in semi 1 is Moldova. This may well make Pasha Parfeny’s fun and spirited tune ‘Lautar’ a decent qualifying punt – if Pasha can produce the goods on stage in Baku – but it’s hard to see juries being impressed with this relatively weak song. We also recall Pasha struggling to sing ‘Dorule’ live in last year’s Moldovan national final so top 3 looks a tough assignment, even if the vocal demands of ‘Lautar’ are far less taxing than the brilliant ‘Dorule’.
The other 3 nations possessing a strong voting hand in this semi all reside in the 1st half, namely, Greece, Albania and Romania. Much like Moldova, we expect juries to assess Greece’s lightweight pop tune, ‘Aphrodisiac’, harshly, and we do not see it as a potential semi-final winner this year.
Albania, however, as discussed last week, we expect to be rated very highly by juries and its televoting power could see it squeeze into the top 3. From the far from ideal 5 slot, it will need a substantial boost from the juries but we do not think this is inconceivable. We can only hope the staging proves a triumph but we do know Rona Nishliu is an accomplished live vocalist well capable of producing a spellbinding live performance in similar fashion to Loukas for Greece last year. At 66-1 with bet365, sportingbet and William Hill, Albania is definitely worth a speculative e/w investment.
Romania follows Albania in 6 and we can see the enjoyable party tune ‘Zaleilah’ performed by Mandinga lighting up the stage in Baku and going down a storm with televoters. Mandinga would appear to be a decent live outfit and the song should lend itself to some entertaining staging as this clip indicates:

Where it may come up short is with juries, but if well-executed it shouldn’t drop too far down the pecking order, and given it could easily top the televote in semi 1, 12-1 with William Hill strikes us as reasonable value, and again worth an e/w punt.
As for the 2 favourites in this semi, we struggle to see Russia winning and would rate it a lay on Betfair at anything around the 2-1 mark. The singing grannies from Russia may well prove a big televoting hit but it’s hard to see ‘Party For Everybody’ finishing any higher than about 17th on the jury vote. We would suggest only Montenegro has less musical merit, and would even give San Marino a decent chance of doing better than Russia with the juries. The juries usually give the thumbs down to rap songs so Austria is likely to be loitering towards the bottom of the jury vote as well, but again, we think it’s got more to offer than Buranovskiye Babushki’s lamentable vocal harmonising of a wafer-thin pop tune.
Russia is going to have to absolutely smash the televote, and will probably have to surpass 200 points on the televote to stand any chance of winning this semi in our view, giving its guaranteed jury shortfall. And with Greece and Romania to contend with on the televote, we reckon this is a huge ask.
While we are big fans of the Iceland song, we think its winning chance in semi 1 has been scuppered by the poor draw of 2, and it simply isn’t e/w value at a best price of 8-1. The one we will be keeping a close eye on when it comes to live rehearsals will be Hungary. Compact Disco were pretty dreadful live during the Hungarian national final, but if the lead singer can improve vocally, and this is matched by terrific staging, ‘Sound Of Our Hearts’ is a strong enough tune to develop into a contender. Watch this space…
But for now, our third back in semi-final 1, while hardly being the most imaginative pick, has to be a win bet of Denmark at a best price of 5-2 with Betfred, sportingbet and bwin. Soluna Samay sings from the decent draw position of 13, and is followed by the wailing grannies. While they may steal some of Soluna’s televoting limelight, Denmark have enough voting allies in semi 1 to collect a decent public vote, and this harmonious ditty should have wider appeal beyond Denmark’s friends. Soluna sings really well live, is a charismatic performer and ‘Should’ve Known Better’ stands out as a quality tune in this section of the 2nd half. It will be a further boost to Denmark’s chances if Cyprus’s song, preceding it in 12, doesn’t come up to scratch in Baku, and we think this could well prove the case.
Denmark will surely be pushing for top spot with the juries in this semi, along with Albania and Iceland in our view. If it achieves top 3 with the juries, and manages 5th or 6th on the televote, this would put Denmark in pole position for overall semi-final victory.
5-2 isn’t the greatest price in the world so it is probably more advisable to back Denmark heavily at anything around 1-2 to finish in the top 3 on Betfair, as we are struggling to see it missing out on a top 3 finish.
Rob Furber

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