The Show Must Go On

Jan 5, 2021 by

The Show Must Go On

‘Let’s Try Again’ might be a better strapline for Eurovision 2021 rather than ‘Open Up’, as all roads lead to Rotterdam in May once more but this time with the EBU promising the event WILL take place no matter what.

Back in September an EBU story was published outlining the 4 possible ways in which ESC 2021 will be held. Scenario A: A normal ESC is already looking a tall order. Scenario B is a socially distanced ESC with a limited capacity in terms of the live arena audience, delegations and press.

Scenario C is with travel restrictions which would see those allowed to travel performing live in Rotterdam but those forced to stay at home having to use their ‘live-on-tape’ performance. Scenario D would be if The Netherlands is in full lockdown, and all performances being ‘live-on-tape’ pre-recorded in each contestant’s home country.

The current lockdown in The Netherlands lasts until January 18, and ESC 2021 executive producer Sietse Bakker stated yesterday a decision on the scenario for this year’s Contest will be made in the next 4 to 5 weeks. Whatever form the Contest ends up taking in May, the only thing we know for sure is, it is going to be different from previous editions.

Veteran ESC traders will know only too well the Contest is constantly evolving and you have to adjust your thinking each year with every game-changer that comes your way, be it producers deciding the running order, the way the points are calculated, or Russia’s annexation of Crimea. While some trading opportunities are taken away, the hope always is, new ones will emerge.

It’s abundantly clear most countries will want to utilise this new backing vocals option to ensure the very best sound production for their entry

Martin Osterdahl has taken over from Jon Ola Sand as executive supervisor and in this new Covid reality the EBU has decided to implement a significant rule change regarding pre-recorded backing vocals being allowed.

A combination of live and recorded backing vocals will also be allowed, while all lead vocals performing the melody of the song will still be live. The pre-recorded elements are said to be ‘optional’ but it’s abundantly clear most countries will want to utilise this new option to ensure the very best sound production for their entry.

The key issue here is, as we see at Melodifestivalen each year, the lead vocals, when the artist in question doesn’t have the vocal chops to deliver the song well enough live, can be turned down in the sound mix to the point of the backing vocals taking over. In a nutshell, it looks like live vocal ability, a previously significant variable in assessing ESC entries – Jessica Mauboy, anyone? – is pretty much off the table.

What will still matter is stagecraft, an artist’s charisma and stage presence, and being able to sell a compelling live performance

This opens up more creative freedom. Previously, backing singers might have been needed, concealed off stage, to help carry a ‘live’ performance. Now, granted the use of pre-recorded backing vocals, the full compliment of 6 people can take to the stage to deliver an uptempo pop song and those dancers will no longer be tasked with live singing duties.

There is no limit to the amount of vocalists that can be heard on the backing track either which means a full pre-recorded choir will be permitted if a track incorporates a choral element, as looks to be the case with the song Daði Freyr has written as Iceland’s 2021 entry. This is being described as a ‘one-year trial’ but it may well prove to be a permanent measure. What will still matter is stagecraft, an artist’s charisma and stage presence, and being able to sell a compelling live performance.

Also new for 2021, every national broadcaster is being tasked with producing the aforementioned ‘live-on-tape’ recording prior to the Contest in case the participant is unable to travel to Rotterdam. These recordings will take place in a studio setting in real time without any edits allowed to the vocals or any part of the performance after the recording.

We need to consider the possibility of some countries enjoying the usual professional live staging elements offered by the host nation and those left at home likely having to make do with much more limited, bare bones visuals

We have to hope that come the spring the Covid picture isn’t as restrictive as currently being experienced across Europe, and the entire 41-strong field is able to attend in Rotterdam but we do need to consider the possibility of some countries enjoying the usual professional live staging elements offered by the host nation and those left at home likely having to make do with much more limited, bare bones visuals.

Many of the artists selected for ESC 2020 have, understandably, been chosen again for ESC 2021. This includes Vincent Bueno (Austria), Efendi (Azerbaijan), Hooverphonic with Geike Arnaert replacing Luka Cruysberghs as lead singer (Belgium), Victoria (Bulgaria), Benny Cristo (Czech Republic), Tornike Kipiani (Georgia), Stefania (Greece), Samanta Tina (Latvia), Destiny (Malta), Roxen (Romania), Senhit (San Marino), Hurricane (Serbia), Ana Soklič (Slovenia), Blas Cantó (Spain), Jeangu Macrooy (The Netherlands), Go_A (Ukraine), Natalia Gordienko (Moldova), Daði og Gagnamagnið (Iceland), Eden Alene (Israel), Lesley Roy (Ireland), Gjon’s Tears (Switzerland) and Montaigne (Australia).

The Mamas will try and represent Sweden again. Among their Melodifestivalen 2021 competition is Eric Saade, who represented Sweden a decade ago with ‘Popular’, finishing 3rd behind Azerbaijan’s ‘Running Scared’. This is actually a good example of the sort of entry which would benefit under the new backing vocal rule:

Twice a Melodifestivalen runner-up, beaten by Saade in 2011 and Loreen in 2012, Danny Saucedo will also compete with ‘Dandi Dansa’. This will be Christer Bjorkman’s last edition in charge, he is set to host, and you sense he may be keenest for a Saade vs Saucedo narrative to play out. The first semi-final will take place on February 6.

Uku Suviste is also trying again in Estonia with the song ‘The Lucky One’. Among his Eesti Laul 2021 competition are 4 previous Estonian ESC representatives – Ivo Linna (1996), Koit Toome (1998 and 2017), Tanja (2014) and Juri Pootsmann (2016).

The Roop – considered one of the front runners last year with the track ‘On Fire’ – have a bye through to the Lithuanian national final. We also know Elena Tsagrinou will represent Cyprus with the track ‘El Diablo’, and Anxhela Peristeri will represent Albania with ‘Karma’, reports suggesting her song will remain in Albanian.

France has revealed the 12 acts taking part in ‘C’est vous qui decidez!’. Early fan favourite is Barbara Pravi’s ‘Voila’.

The 2021 semi-finals will remain the same as drawn for ESC 2020, and The Netherlands Jeangu Macrooy will also retain the 23 slot in the grand final running order.

In terms of early Outright trading on Betfair, there is a strong element of, countries considered the main contenders in 2020, moving towards the front of the market once more. No prizes for guessing the tiny snag with this logic – we may know about some of the returning artists but we are making educated guesses about the strength of their 2021 songs.

The ESC 2021 subscription is now open. The last time we did this, all the way back in 2019, The Netherlands was advised at 16-1, and overall the investment portfolio made a +58pt profit translating into a return on investment of +62%.

In its last 6 outings the ESC subscription has earned a profit of over +300pts to a 1pt level stake. Portugal was also advised in 2017 at 16-1 and The Ukraine as big as 25-1 back in 2016.

In its last 6 outings the ESC subscription has earned a profit of over +300pts to a 1pt level stake

As a subscriber, as soon as the first betting opportunity arises on the Outright this year, through until the ESC 2021 grand final on May 22, you will receive exclusive investment advice via email.

As part of this subscription offer you will also receive analysis and recommendations for all the major tv betting and ‘Specials’ events between now and Eurovision in May including Dancing On Ice (starting January 17), the Grammys (January 31), the Golden Globes (February 28), the NTAs (April 20) and the Oscars (April 25).

Grab a piece of the action by clicking on the link below and here’s hoping come the end of May we are all a lot better off, financially as much as spiritually.




1 Comment

  1. Montell

    At least we know in advance Eurovision will happen. Really missed it. This Eurovision will indeed be very different from others. What I’m afraid of most is that anyone can catch the virus at any time. Image an artist catching the virus a day before the semi final. What then? Maybe they will be put in a closed Eurovision bubble for two weeks where they cannot meet anyone outside of the bubble thus not able to catch the virus. Or maybe the world will have enough vaccines so that every artist could be vaccinated. I guess we will have some answers once EBU announces which plan A,B,C or D is chosen.

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