The Italian Job: Ingenious Heist Or Set To Fall Off A Cliff?

Apr 27, 2012 by

The Italian Job: Ingenious Heist Or Set To Fall Off A Cliff?

We have received a few queries requesting an opinion on this year’s Italian entry. Given the weight of money that has been piling on Nina Zilli singing ‘L’amore e femmina’ – at time of writing trading at 9 on Betfair – this seems an appropriate time to speak up, as it has probably reached a critical situation for those who didn’t jump aboard the Zilli train at bigger prices.
Where Italy’s price goes from here will revolve heavily around how the final draw pans out, particularly for Sweden, but also the likes of Denmark, Iceland, Russia, Serbia, Norway and Romania. If Sweden is unlucky and falls anywhere between 2 and 8, it is possible Italy’s price could contract further during finals week in Baku. But if one or two of those nations mentioned land any of those lucrative slots between 21 and 26, then Italy could well drift back out.
For those who latched onto Italy at 20-1 or bigger, it has already offered them a fabulous trade. But before it becomes a case of panic stations for those staring at reds on Italy, it is worth applying some cool, calm analysis to proceedings.
Cool and calm are two appropriate adjectives when it comes to Italy given that our biggest issue on first hearing this song was that it fundamentally left us cold. We remain of the firm view your visceral response to an ESC song is important. Not the be all and end all, but important. Certainly if you consider yourself any sort of aficionado when it comes to assessing music, adding in the proviso of this being Eurovision.
Looking to the most recent solo female winner of the contest for a comparison, ‘Satellite‘ was an instantly catchy pop tune and Lena was a cute performer. We also knew ‘Satellite’ was storming charts around Europe prior to the contest. We are not aware of Nina’s tune doing anywhere near as well. ‘L’amore e femmina’ is not as instant or accessible as ‘Satellite’ in our view. It is almost too sophisticated and Zilli too aloof. The whole package is overtly stylish, very Italian, and lacks the intimate charm; the beguiling powers of engagement Lena was able to conjure performing ‘Satellite’.
So we don’t think the basic winning ingredients are there with this Italian song that were there with Germany 2010. Certainly not to warrant the price. It may well be pleasant enough wafting through the evening air while sitting in a late night coffee house in Milan supping on a cappuccino, but on the ESC stage in Baku we’re not convinced it is going to endear itself to the televoting masses.
Germany, don’t forget, also had a great draw in 22. Italy is drawn 10. Going back to 1999, 11 of the last 13 ESC winners have come from the 14 slot or later, only diaspora heavyweight Turkey (drawn 4 in 2003) and Ukraine (10, 2004) defying this trend, and that was in the televoting era.
The bi-lingual version of the song also over-complicates things and leaves us feeling confused and even more detached. Also, it has been noticeable that Nina hasn’t bothered with the pre-ESC promotional circus around Europe, sticking to her engagements in Italy. This has to be a slight negative, and is Nina really that impressive and charismatic a live performer as some suggest based on the below clip?

Ultimately, all you can do is rely on your ESC instincts and ours tell us Italy is an unlikely winner this year. But given that Italy has surprised us before when it managed to finish 2nd last year, we are remaining financially neutral. We don’t plan to make Italy one of our potential big winners, but we won’t be opposing it either. It’s a zero in our book and will remain so unless something dramatic happens during the rehearsal period to persuade us to start turning Italy green, or red.
Among the solo females this year, granted a decent draw we much prefer the chances of Soluna Samay of Denmark singing a song, ‘Should’ve Known Better‘, we consider catchier, and more easily accessible, and a performance that is altogether warmer and more engaging, with the added incentive that Denmark is currently trading at twice the price of Italy on Betfair at 18.
Rob Furber

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  1. fiveleaves

    She defintely needs to learn how to smile.

    I feel the ‘aloof’ point is one of the most pertinent.

    I really don’t get where people (mostly male punters) are coming from when they say she’s a great perfomer. (well I do but probably best if I don’t say)

    I’m not sure female voters will find her an enagaging perfomer. Infact quite the opposite.

  2. Chris

    My ESC instinct tells me that Italy is a winner! There is no other song of this sort competing in the contest… There are too many ballads and dance tracks that will all cancel each other on the night of the final.

  3. fiveleaves

    My instincts tell me it’s a song by a singer that will be more popular with male punters than the female voters

  4. Rob

    Good luck Chris and thanks for posting your thoughts. It’s all about opinion 🙂 fiveleaves – watching her perform I was trying to think of the adjective and then it finally came to me – ‘aloof’. Certainly a very different vibe from Nina compared to Lena, even if their names are similar.

  5. Henry VIII

    Subjectively I love Italy and she does have better youtube clips than that, but objectively I agree with you about slot 10 putting the dampeners on.

    Slot 10 did win in 2004 so your slot stats are a little bit out, but your point about late slots is just as valid.

  6. Rob

    Great spot there Henry – not sure how that one slipped me by. Ruslana’s Wild Dances did indeed win from 10 in 2004. Again, it was the televote era so something of a distortion compared to the modern contest, and Ukraine like Turkey had significant voting power. Many reckon Italy has strong voting power today but that’s a bit of a moot point. Its figures are not very robust given last year was its first ESC since 1997.

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