The Teardrop Explodes

Apr 22, 2013 by

The Teardrop Explodes

Soho’s Shadow Lounge rang out with the sounds of Eurovision past, and present last night, as again it played host to the London Eurovision Party, and it was great to catch up with a few faces behind the usernames and Twitter accounts.

What did we learn of significance? Last year, Macedonia’s Kaliopi was very much the star turn and her superb live vocal was incentive to get involved backing Macedonia to qualify from semi 2, which it duly did. Hungary’s Compact Disco also put in a good live performance, telling us that shoddy-sounding vocals in national finals can be deceptive and among the smaller ESC nations are often more down to the poor stage quality. Unlike 2012, last night’s performances were not quite as revealing and probably threw up more negatives than positives.

Let’s deal with them in race card order. First up was Austria’s Natalia Kelly singing ‘Shine’. It’s never easy being first up when the audience is somewhat cold but her vocal was rather underwhelming backing up a similar impression gained from seeing her perform the previous week in Amsterdam. It brought back memories of Slovenia’s Eva Boto who opened proceedings at the Shadow Lounge in 2012. Natalia will open semi 1 and given what follows her she has a tough assignment on her hands to qualify.

Romania’s Cesar was next up. Sporting dark shades he looked like Romania’s answer to The Terminator. And his high pitched crooning of ‘It’s My Life’ could well have terminated the hearing of any stray dogs on Old Compton Street. Cesar, of course, resides at the other end of the semi-final spectrum from Natalia, closing semi 2. While his song is not a patch on Rona Nishliu’s ‘Suus’ last year, his operatic range certainly has impact and could impress jurors.

Malta’s Gianluca felt like a breath of fresh air following Cesar’s assault on the ear drums and you could at least hear his live vocal without it being overpowered by any backing track. This guy has a winning smile and ‘Tomorrow’ came across as simple and effective.

Following Gianluca it was a return to a more in-your-face performance from the always shy and retiring Krista Siegfrids. ‘Marry Me’ is certainly going to have impact with Krista promising to keep the lesbian kiss when she performs at this year’s finals.

You can also envisage a PR blitz from Team DingDong in Malmo much like we witnessed from Jedward in Dusseldorf 2011. The hype they created there arguably helped propel Ireland to 8th, but there is a fine line between good publicity and complete overkill and ‘Marry Me’ is possibly not as strong a pop package as ‘Lipstick’, and must negotiate a tough semi-final first.

After the break, Greece really got the party started with ‘Alcohol Is Free’. Koza Mostra were in fine form here, and there’s something very likeable about these kilted guys rocking out behind the moustachioed Agathon Iakovidis playing the bouzouki.

Latvia’s PeR were next and what was seen here is that Edmunds and Ralph are undoubtedly talented at what they do. The live beatbox skills were genuinely impressive and their self-penned ‘Here We Go’ was energetically performed. But starting semi 2 doesn’t really do them any favours in a very tough semi-final and you fear juries may not give them enough credit.

Perhaps the most insightful 2 performances of the night were left until last. Denmark’s Emmelie came on and did an acoustic version of ‘Only Teardrops’. Her vocal was adequate but shorn of the song’s flute-playing intro and drummers it all sounded rather flat.

It perhaps pointed to 2 key things. Firstly, how generic the song is, and secondly, how impressive the staging was at the Danish final. It remains to be seen if this can be replicated in Malmo. It was also interesting to hear footage of Emmelie during her 1st soundcheck which didn’t sound the best.

San Marino’s Valentina closed the night, treating fans to an English version of Crisalide before she sang it again how it will be heard in Malmo – in Italian.

It was noticeable the song is an altogether more powerful proposition sung in Italian. Valentina’s vocal seemed fine. It was a shame Ukraine’s Zlata was a no-show as she would have provided more of a barometer but certainly compared to Natalia and Emmelie, Valentina more than held her own.

The London fans loved it. Are fan favourites boosted in ESC semis due to lower voting figures and the die-hards having more say? It’s a talking point but worth remembering Kati Wolf achieved 8th place on the semi-final televote in 2011, and Cyprus’s Ivi Adamou 6th in 2012, before both songs disappeared into the abyss come the final.

Did I come out of the London event with a stronger opinion than I had going in? Yes, and it’s this. On all known variables heading to Malmo, Denmark looks far too short in the Outright market, trading on Betfair at time of writing at 2.82.

What do others think about last night’s concert? Has it firmed up your opinions on certain countries? Please do drop us a line below.

10 Comments

  1. Chiggs

    Hi Rob,

    It was good to meet you along with the rest of the “betting crew”.

    I’m very new to Eurovision; I’ve never really watched the show before but I want to share my opinions on the performances from last night.

    Austria – I actually quite like “Shine” and Natalia’s vocals were pretty good along with the way she performed but the song itself isn’t that memorable. It sounds to me like a single that would do ok in the charts but would never be number 1. Still see this as a NQ given the female competition in semi 1.

    Romania – I found this quite confusing and came to the conclusion that this will really struggle with televoters. Cezar’s performance was awkward; his eyes were closed for large parts and his body language was everything but loose, open and engaging. The song isn’t one you can sing along to either which meant it wasn’t popular with the crowd.

    Malta – I didn’t think Gianluca had any real charisma; he smiled too much, which made him look too friendly and a little nervous. Whilst his vocals were clear, his voice isn’t really impactful but his song is quite pleasant and the crowd seemed to quite like it.

    Finland – The performance was very engaging and the crowd seemed like they really enjoyed it. I’m not sure whether it will qualify or not. I think it really depends on the televote.

    Greece – The energy of this performance was great. It’s a friendly fun song delivered by a very like-able and distinct set of characters (they remind me of Madness). It should do really well in the televote.

    Latvia – I’m a hip hop fan and this performance was painful to watch. The American accent along with the cliche phrases used in the performance seemed really disingenuous. One member doesn’t do much either so I see this as a certain NQ.

    Denmark – My overall assessment of Only Teardrops was that the performance was decent but like you Rob I don’t think it deserves to be as short in the markets as it is. It definitely didn’t sound as good as an acoustic track but it was still decent. During the song I felt the climax was too late but the lyrics are a real plus point; it’s a song easy to sing to with a nice theme.

    San Marino – I agree the song is much better in Italian but I personally think the start of the balad is dull. Valentina’s styling was pretty terrible as well which indicates the presentation of her song won’t be up to scratch. Her personality doesn’t seem particularly televoter friendly either so given all this I think this will likely be a NQ.

    Chiggs

  2. Rob

    Thanks for posting, Chiggs, & great to meet you last night. I think you offer a very good assessment here. It just occurred to me, we may well have seen 5 NQs last night, possibly even 6 🙂

    The 2nd semi, in particular, is a brute, & on what we saw last night, Austria, Finland, Romania and San Marino all look borderline cases & will probably remain so all the way through to the live semis in Malmo.

    My view is, if you’ve assessed all the variables correctly & nations remain borderline qualifiers in your eyes, you should always take a value approach. If it looks a 50/50 call, then anything above Evens has to be value either on the Q or NQ side.

  3. fiveleaves

    Cheers for the reviews Rob & Chigg

    This is better video of the Danish performance

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_yhcFx0hzI

    For me when you strip away the pipes and drums it’s not a great song and her vocals aren’t that good either. She’s very engaging when she smiles but given the theme of the song she has little choice but to stick with the intense slightly psycho look that we saw at the national final.

    Of the others, Austria is one of my favourite songs and an outside punt for top 10, so I’m slightly concerned about the mixed reviews.

  4. Rob

    Hi fiveleaves,
    Austria could well sneak through. It’s one of the many borderlines we seem to have this year. And if it does get through, who knows. With a late draw it could do ok. No doubt they will reprise the pyro effect towards the end, seen in the Austrian NF, which tries its best to elevate Natalia’s performance.

    When you consider Denmark is shorter compared to Sweden last year at this moment in time, 2 weeks before rehearsals get underway, the price does look too short.

  5. Henry VIII

    Emelie may not stick with the psycho look if her team give her good advice. I used to think Denmark had less chance than several others but I’ve come around to the view that it should be favourite although I agree with Rob about the price.

  6. Rob

    Hi Henry,
    The new scoring system may help Denmark as it’s a very middle-of-the-road tune that should get consistent mid-range scores at worse. In terms of the top of the jury scoring this year, I struggle to make a case for it making the top 5. She gives the song a certain gravitas through her authentic delivery but aside from that her vocal isn’t a-maz-ing, and nor is the song. It’s completely generic in fact.

    Denmark remains one to keep green overall. The laying opportunity on the Outright resides more in Ukraine at anything close to 8.0 imho. A price that is very hard to justify as the song is weak & structurally deficit. Juries will not be giving this big pts purely for staging. There is more chance the staging could overkill what is already a saccharine song.

  7. Henry VIII

    Hi Rob, I hadn’t really thought about jury reaction but I can see that they have no reason to favour Denmark over many others.

    However I’m not sure that the same can be said for Ukraine. She is one of the best vocalists this year and her song seems to me anyway one of the hardest to sing and one of the most impressive to get right. If their stage show is good I think the juries will like that too. The false ending and generally weird structure maybe more likely to put off the viewing public (first time viewers).

    “Saccharine” as in lyrics? I must confess to never bothering with the lyrics because I don’t think they’re noticed by ESC viewers unless they actually pop up and hit us eg with “Satellite”.

  8. Rob

    Saccharine in its overall feel, henry. It is like something from a Disney movie. Bottom line is, it’s simply not strong enough imho to get close to winning. Juries won’t be crediting it purely on the back of Zlata’s vocal or the stage show. It’s supposed to be a song contest and if they are judging the song, it is not good enough.

    I am very dubious how highly juries will rate Ukraine, & equally dubious regarding its televote appeal. Ukraine is not a voting superpower & among this year’s Eastern European contingent, ‘Gravity’ should struggle to outscore Russia & Georgia. And that’s not factoring in all the other strong entries from the likes of Denmark, Norway & Netherlands.

  9. geoff,aka pimp

    Hey rob it was great to meet you in london, it was very enjoyable night.

    Heres my thoughts for what they are worth
    I think emilie pretty much showed us a lot of what we already knew her vocal performance was probably decent enough on a stripped back performance for it not to be an issue when all the bells and whistles are brought back for her malmo performances, one major weapon for emilie in my opinion is just how likeable she comes accross shes got a lovely genuine smile that can melt hearts and little things like that could be worth the extra votes to push her over the line, but like everyone she needs the draw.

    Krista siegrieds performance was pretty decent it is tacky but it is also memorable,current, and well performed, it was probably the closest thing to a proper performance we saw in london which maybe flattered it a bit . But this is going up in my estimations a lot .

    Greece were great fun and performed pretty well here this could potentially be a very strong televote song ive always had my concerns the juries could deal this song a blow under the new rules, whilst they did ease my fears a little because its performed well it still worries me with this entry
    But i must say they are a bunch of great guys especially the singer who chatted to me outside for about 20 minutes.

    My surprise was valentina who i thought delivered a really good vocal maybe the best of the night even vocally, im not sure what this means from a betting point or whether she will qualify with it being a very tight semi , but her vocal is capable of some jury love and there could be a following who will get behind her.

    Not much to say on per from latvia apart from they are like a poor mans pj and duncan.

    Romanias cezar is strong vocally in a crazy way i dont like the song at all but i can see him pushing for qualification as long as the juries take him the right way vocally.

    Austria was first up and was wasnt too bad but she was quickly forgetten and the same will probably happen come semi finals night.

    • Rob

      Thanks for posting, Geoff, & good to meet you too at the London concert.

      I wouldn’t disagree with any of your assessments here. It would appear San Marino, Finland & Romania all have solid claims based on what we saw at the Shadow Lounge. Which of those get through & which of those do not is very tricky to call. They could all effectively be fighting over a single qualifying place at best which serves to illustrate how tough semi 2 is.

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