Scandinavia Holds Strong ESC Hand

Feb 14, 2012 by

Some very interesting ESC developments last weekend, in particular, in Norway, where Tooji upset hot favourite Plumbo. This song, ‘Stay’, has echoes of Eric Saade’s ‘Popular’ last year and it is no surprise to discover it is the same writing team behind it:

It has long been a trend at the ESC for nations to try and copy what did well the previous year – after Alex Rybak’s win with ‘Fairytale’ in 2009, there were a lot of fiddles and violins popping up in ESC entries in 2010. In this instance, it is easy to see the timeless ingredients of good looking guy with slick choreo, singing a catchy pop tune going down well with SMS-voting, teenage girls. How juries react to ‘Stay’ is harder to gauge. ‘Popular’ proved less popular with jurors last year, finishing 9th on the jury vote overall, and it was this element that arguably cost Saade his chance of victory, more so than his running order position of 7th which must have slightly impacted his televote, which was still a very healthy 221pts which placed Sweden 2nd on the televote overall.
‘Stay’ is arguably stronger than ‘Popular’ as a pop song and its slightly Turkish sounding elements could see it do well in that part of the world, and it may be able to grab some points over in Eastern Europe.
An intriguing development this year is the potential strength of the Scandinavian entries (if you allow the inclusion of Iceland and Finland in the description). Denmark has the harmonious ditty ‘Should’ve Known Better’, Norway has ‘Stay’, Loreen’s dance tune ‘Euphoria’ looks booked to represent Sweden, while Iceland’s song, decided at the weekend, will be Greta & Jonsi’s ‘Mundu eftir mer’.
Each, in their own way, is a potentially strong entry – we can envisage Iceland going down especially well with juries – but 4 decent songs in that part of the world could ultimately split the Scandi vote and harm their chances of achieving overall victory should they all make the final.
As a very early value ESC punt, and our first recommendation of the 2012 ESC season, we certainly wouldn’t put you off backing Iceland at 50-1 e/w with Boylesports. It’s a male/female duet – which has a history of going well at the ESC – and they are two extremely capable live vocalists who harmonise nicely. The song itself is a very traditional sounding ESC song, and the violin sections give it extra gravitas, lending the song an evocative edge. We can envisage it being performed very well in Baku and having a certain stand-out appeal. It could be further aided if they decide on an English version in Baku.

Over in Hungary ‘Compact Disco’ was chosen as the winner. Last week, we questioned the lead singer’s live vocal. If anything, his vocal was even worse in the final. The MTV studio in which these songs were performed was not a great stage but Hungary will need a massive amount of work to challenge in Baku. The band are not the most telegenic either and require a big makeover. The song itself has enormous potential if they can do it justice, but this remains a very big if.
Sabina Babayeva will be host Azerbaijan’s singer this year after winning the final in Baku on Sunday night and she looks a highly capable live vocalist. It will be interesting to see what sort of tune Sabina is given. Looking at her back catalogue, a slower, ballad-type number looks more likely than an uptempo pop tune.
This coming weekend, we are especially interested to see who comes out on top in Ukraine on Saturday night. We’ll stick our necks out and suggest it is likely to be a 2-horse race, between Gaitana’s ‘Be my guest’ (drawn 11 of 22) and the likely wildcard winner, Max Barskih (drawn 3) singing ‘Dance’, the wildcard winner revealed tomorrow.
Gaitana’s song is going to be the theme music for Ukraine’s co-hosting of Euro 2012 in the summer, which could mean it is the chosen one. But if he does make the final Max is going to be loved by televoting teen girls.

Belarus choose their ESC song tonight. We expect the telegenic rock/pop band, Litesound, singing ‘We are the heroes’ to win. Not sure about their live vocal abilities but another nation who could potentially go down well with young female televoters.

We’ll find out who will sing Germany’s song this year on Thursday night – Roman Lob looking a near cert.
Italy announces on Saturday night during its Sanremo final which could have an impact on the market given the waves Italy made on the Betfair market last year before surprising many (including us) in finishing 2nd on its return to the ESC. The Latvian final is also on Saturday, and looks like it will throw up a novelty winner in Mad Show Boys ‘Music Thief’. This song is why we love Eurovision not merely as a terrific trading event – these guys would light up finals week in Baku no end!

It is also the first semi-final in Estonia. Estonia appears to have a terrific selection of songs this year. We’ll leave you for now with a song appearing in the second Estonian semi-final, a week on Saturday. It is a great throwback to 80s electronic new wave and bands like Human League. We would love to see this make it to Baku, but Mimicry faces some very stiff opposition.
Rob Furber

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