The Joy Of Six (Over-Priced ESC Gems)

Apr 24, 2012 by

The Joy Of Six (Over-Priced ESC Gems)

Value is a byword at EntertainmentOdds so in this post we are going to focus on those nations we believe are over-priced currently in the ESC Outright market, and could, granted the ideal scenario of excellent staging, good live vocal and, in four cases, a late draw, end up mounting a serious challenge. If not top 4, top 5. If not top 5, top 10.
There is a tendency with the ESC for assessment of potential winners to focus far too heavily on a handful of front runners in the Outright market, and it is easy to be lulled into thinking the market knows best when experience tells us this is invariably not the case.
Red hot favourite France bombed out last year in 15th as did the much vaunted Estonia (24th) and the heavily-backed Ireland only managed 8th. In 2010, initial favourite Azerbaijan only managed 5th, and the strongly-fancied Israel limped home in 14th.
In 2010 we flagged up Turkey at 33-1 e/w and Romania at 66-1 e/w and they both managed to get on the podium in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Last year, we didn’t advise them but it was a similar story with largely unconsidered contenders Italy (2nd) and Ukraine (4th) getting in the shape up.
That’s why it’s much wiser in our view to try and find some bigger-priced nations that could have slipped under the radar so far. If nothing else, they can prove lucrative trades.

Top of our list would have to be Switzerland, currently available at 125-1 e/w first 4 with William Hill, and a whopping 290 on Betfair at time of writing. This was the first country to qualify this year and we really liked the tune ‘Unbreakable’ from the first moment we heard it. Critically, ‘Unbreakable’ is a song that possesses impact and has real stand-out appeal. It’s a rock tune, while admittedly pop rock or rock-lite, and there are few others of its ilk competing at this year’s contest.
We have seen in the last 2 years how rock tunes can get in the shake up with Turkey’s maNga finishing 2nd in 2010 with ‘We Could Be The Same‘, and Georgia’s Eldrine (‘One More Day‘) grabbing 9th last year, landing the money for top 10 backers.
We have also been greatly encouraged by the live performances Sinplus have been putting on across Europe, including at the recent pre-ESC event in Amsterdam. They perform the song with great verve, they’re a young band and by association, pretty cool for the ESC’s powerful contingent of SMS-voting youths, and the telegenic lead singer can clearly hold a note. Given all of its plus points, it is definitely over-priced.
Among its genre rivals, we also like Hungary but while the vocal sounded much improved at last weekend’s Amsterdam event, we remain concerned by the band’s visual appeal and whether the power of ‘Sound Of Our Hearts’ can be conveyed successfully with its staging. Belarus are a similarly good-looking, young rock outfit but we consider their tune, ‘We Are The Heroes’, far inferior to ‘Unbreakable’ and we’re not convinced by the lead singer’s live vocal. Slovakia has a decent hard rock tune but the big doubt there also has to be Max Jason Mai’s live vocal ability, as well as the staging given the Friday The 13th masks the band favoured during their one live performance to pop up on YouTube to date here.

Switzerland must first negotiate semi-final 1 but the more we have seen of Sinplus the more we like their qualifying chances. Obviously to make an impact in the final it will need a late draw but if that should happen we would expect Switzerland to trade at a much, much lower price. If Hungary or Slovakia start to shape up well during rehearsals they will be tempting propositions too, but for now Switzerland has to be the value pick among this year’s rockier tunes, and is an interesting contender to achieve a top 10 placing.

It may not have that good a final draw in 9 but we also keep gravitating towards France. Anggun sings ‘Echo (You and I)’ well enough and what we’ve seen of her performing the song live, we think she has a powerful stage presence, and can really sell this tune. France is currently trading on Betfair at 150 which strikes us as far too big given we at least know France is already in the final, and furthermore, that Anggun can produce the goods as a live performer. Also, it’s a song that really stands alone in the competition as an uptempo pop tune with a touch of class about it, and juries may just fall for Anggun’s charms. France is a widely-available 100-1 e/w first 4, and we reckon it should also be of interest as a potential top 5 and top 10 punt if the price is right.

Our third pick among the bigger priced contingent has to be Romania. We are a little late flagging this one up given it has been heavily supported in recent weeks from 66-1 down to 33s, but we still think 33-1 e/w first 4 is on the big side. We previously put forward a case as to why Romania was a value e/w bet in semi 1 at 12-1 (it is now a best-priced 10-1 e/w). Similar arguments apply to its potential final chances. What it will need, like Switzerland, to really gain traction as a contender, is a late draw, ideally in one of those free slots from 21-26. Romania has the added positive of featuring among the upper tier of nations by way of voting strength come the final.

Fourth on our hit list of over-priced nations is Ukraine. Ukraine has terrific form figures at the ESC in the last 6 years of 7th, 2nd, 2nd, 12th, 10th, 4th which certainly makes us sit up and take notice. Much like Romania’s Mandinga singing ‘Zaleilah’, Gaitana’s ‘Be My Guest’ is a real party tune which, if executed well, could leap out at televoters. However, Ukraine does come with certain reservations and is something of a volatile ESC stock. We were not convinced by Gaitana’s vocal in the Ukraine national final, and the staging was ragged, but she clearly has the voice and the song has the ingredients to potentially come together in a much more professional and highly sellable package on stage in Baku.
We are banking on the Ukraine delegation producing the goods here as they did last year, when they came up with the masterstroke of incorporating the sand artist, and it goes without saying a late final draw would be a big boost to its chances. On the flipside, if ‘Be My Guest’ doesn’t come up to scratch during rehearsals, we would be a little concerned about it qualifying, but given Outright odds of 100-1 e/w first 4 with William Hill, and trading at 90 at time of writing on Betfair, we think it is worth risking.

Next up has to be defending champion Azerbaijan. A final draw of 13, slap bang in the middle of proceedings is not too bad, especially as the national broadcaster is highly likely to have the ad break immediately after Sabina Babayeva sings ‘When The Music Dies’ – which would be a little boost to its televoting appeal. We think this is a very decent ballad and Sabina has a good live vocal to call upon if she can hold her nerve with the weight of a nation on her shoulders.
50-1 e/w first 4 with Ladbrokes (66-1 e/w first 3 with SportingBet) are remarkably generous quotes for a nation of Azerbaijan’s Eurovision pedigree. And at time of writing Azerbaijan is available at a back price of 75 on Betfair. This is a country with outstanding form figures of 8th, 3rd, 5th, 1st. Perhaps it’s the psychological impact that a defending ESC champion is automatically perceived to be less likely to win for a second successive year because outside of that we are struggling to figure out why it has been so shunned by backers. As a quality solo female ballad Sabina is well capable of delivering competently, Azerbaijan has to be on any shortlist this year for not only achieving top 10 but quite conceivably challenging for top 5 or even top 4 honours, and is definitely over-priced in the Outright market.

Last but not least we reckon Norway has been overlooked in the Outright market, currently trading at 28 on Betfair, and is on the big side at a best price of 25-1 e/w first 4 with William Hill. Tooji really looked the business at this year’s Melodi Grand Prix, and was so stand out he was able to pull off what appeared an unlikely victory from the 1 slot. We’re happy to loosely base Tooji’s chances on what we saw Eric Saade achieve last year performing for Sweden (finishing 3rd from the unfavourable 7 slot). ‘Stay’ has many of the same televote-winning elements as ‘Popular’ – a good looking lead singer with an acceptable vocal, slick choreography and a very catchy pop tune. In fact, we reckon there’s an argument that ‘Stay’ could prove even more popular than ‘Popular’, pardon the pun, because while its Western European appeal looks assured, it’s also a song full of Eastern promise which could see it land a decent points haul in the Balkans. Tooji’s Iranian roots could also help in this respect. While jury support is less assured, it could drop to 10th on the jury vote but still be right in the mix courtesy of a televote total comparable to Eric Saade’s 221 points last year. Again, a late draw would make it an even bigger player in this year’s contest. Regardless of this it’s well worth adding to your portfolio at current odds.
Agree or disagree, we’d be interested to hear your views on this year’s over-priced contenders.
Rob Furber

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4 Comments

  1. fiveleaves

    Having agreed with you over Bosnia and Italy.
    I’m less sure about these picks.

    Azer I’ve struggled to listen to more a couple of times.
    I think it will have very little appeal beyond it’s normal allies.

    Romania I put in the novelty catergory. Which is never a good place to be. It’s also not very novel novelty.

    Norway I struggle to judge as it’s not aimed at middle aged men, but the singer or the song don’t appear to be exciting the teenage female population of Europe in the same way as Eric did last year.

    The German guy, whose name escapes me seems to be exciting them more and he’s also singing a more jury friendly song and one which will appeal to the mums too.
    It would be my best ew punt of those at a bigger price.
    Especially given it’s late draw.

    Ukraine I do like. The black singer worries me a little and as you say the vocals and staging need some work.
    If they can sort those out it’s the one I’d be most interested in.

    I’ll be honest and say France & Switzerland have passed me by a little, so I’ll have to take another look.

    Looking at my initial comment on France – ‘Her voice is better than the song. Will struggle to make top 10’ and I gave it a score of 6.5

    Switzerland I somehow missed altogether, but from the betfair thread iirc, I thought it was ok but nothing special.
    I’ll have to take a look at the concert footage.

  2. Rob

    Hi fiveleaves. Thanks for posting. Yes, it has been surprising how little impact Tooji has made so far, though maybe that will change once he rehearses in Baku. Azerbaijan… possibly a potential trade more than anything at 75, and over-priced given its record in the contest. A solid top 10 punt, for sure. Interesting you are not keen on Romania… think it’s got enough about it to really fly if it gets a good late draw. Germany’s entry… still have some doubts over that as it seems rather one-paced as a song. Keep an eye on Sinplus – could definitely surprise, again with proviso of good final draw (and qualifying in the first place, of course). Reckon if it was the Danish entry, it would be trading sub-20. As good as ‘A Friend In London’ from last year, if not better.

  3. Henry VIII

    Azerbaijan’s the one that caught my eye of your bunch above Rob, I’ve thought it’s been overpriced for a while. It was 100 on Betfair not so long ago.

  4. Rob

    Definitely, Henry. Seems a crazy price given Azerbaijan’s ESC pedigree and in what looks an open year. The lady who sings the song, Sabina, has a good voice too, if she can hold her nerve.

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