Time To Invest In Serbian Safe Haven

Mar 13, 2012 by

The biggest developments on the ESC front in the last week or so have been the singing grannies, Buranovskiye Babushki, winning the Russian NF, Loreen grabbing Melodifestivalen glory over in Sweden, Serbia’s Zeljko Joksimovic unveiling his entry, ‘Synonym’, and Greece selecting Eleftheria Eleftheriou singing ‘Aphrodisiac’.
The first 3 mentioned there have joined Denmark at the front of the Outright market, and the question ESC traders need to ask themselves as of today is whether their prices are justified. Taking Sweden to begin with, as soon as we heard ‘Euphoria’ for the first time in the first MF semi-final, we thought it screamed winner, at least of this year’s MF final.

It’s a very impressive trance tune, and Loreen’s bewitching, organic dance moves really add something extra to the song. We know the staging is going to be excellent. However, a backing track is allowed at the MF final, so hearing Loreen unaided for the first time during ESC rehearsals will be revealing but the signs are she is a capable vocalist who can cope quite comfortably with the demands of this song.
Sweden will need to progress from its semi, which looks fairly straight forward given its draw in the 2nd half of semi-final 2. But Loreen backers will be hoping she gets a decent final draw, i.e., preferably not a single figure draw, and the question mark that remains is how juries will rate this song, and whether it will be appreciated by Eastern European televoters. Some shrewd commentators suggest it has a slightly dated sound. We’re not sure we go along with that view. It strikes us as contemporary enough, more so given Loreen’s captivating stage performance. Trance might be associated with a big dance scene that emerged during the 90s but trance is still a hugely popular genre of dance music today.
It is fair to say, however, that house tunes do not have a good track record with juries at the ESC but we are not sure if ‘Euphoria’ can be shoe-horned into this category. It is something a little bit different and stands alone compared to the very generic house tunes offered up by the likes of Cyprus, Malta and Greece this year. That said, Sweden represents no value whatsoever at a best price of 5-2 but we are not keen to take it on, and would rather keep it as a small green heading into the rehearsal period.
To help get Sweden green in your book, you need to be laying which brings us to second favourite Russia. The Russian entry is perplexing us somewhat in that we expected it to drift back out to a double figure price but it is holding on Betfair around the 7.8 mark. We have to rate this an amazing lay at the price. If you have the balls and the bank to do so, we’d suggest laying it to your limit and here’s the simple reasoning: while Eurovision televoters may be swept along by a wave of goodwill watching a bunch of traditionally-dressed female seniors swaying from side to side and trying to tap their toes to the basic lyric, ‘Come on and dance’, and it may well figure at the top of the televote, we cannot envisage juries rewarding this very basic and frankly weak tune.

In fact, given the anti-diaspora effect we have seen in play with juries in recent years, we think they will punish ‘Party For Everybody’ severely, especially as they can barely sing a note. Even if it hauls in over 250pts on the televote, it will struggle for mid-table respectability on the jury vote, and we would expect it to get the same sort of score as Russia’s Alexey Vorobyov last year, who came last with the juries amassing a meagre 25pts. We have seen Eurovision going to great efforts to re-brand itself as a serious, modern music competition, and not a platform for silly novelty songs to shine, so overall a song such as this will not be wanted by the powers-that-be as it would be a massive backwards step for the event.
Of far greater interest to us from a backing perspective, and effectively our 3rd recommendation in the Outright market (along with the earlier advised Iceland at 50s e/w, and Spain at 40s e/w), is Serbia at 14-1 e/w first 4 with Ladbrokes (you can take 16s e/w with SportingBet but only first 3). Much like Azerbaijan last year, what we have here is a very competent, jury-friendly and potentially televote-friendly enough tune that can count on votes from its many friends and neighbours, and granted a late draw in the final these elements can prove decisive when there isn’t a stand out tune in the contest that is so strong it is able to overcome its geographical origins, say, like ‘Fairytale’ or ‘Satellite’.
Zeljko Joksimovic is a telegenic crooner who you know will sing competently live, and backed by such ear-pleasing, Celtic-sounding orchestration, his ballad, ‘Synonym’, ticks a lot of ESC boxes. Backing Serbia, to give it a stock market analogy, is like investing in a safe, blue-chip share. It is a safe haven, and given Serbia’s voting power it could easily be pushing for top spot in Baku, and is certainly over-priced trading around 20 as of now on Betfair.

A final word for now regarding Greece. As all wise ESC followers know, Greece has a stunning record in recent years at the competition – finishing in the top ten for the last 8 consecutive years, including victory in 2005, and two third places. Eleftheria Eleftheriou is an attractive young lady and ‘Aphrodisiac’ is a catchy enough pop tune. Interestingly, it is pitched up against its most reliable vote giver, and receiver, Cyprus, in semi-final 1, and Cyprus offers up an identikit performer and song in Ivi Adamou singing ‘La La Love’.
It will certainly prove a very interesting head-to-head battle. Of the two, we sense Greece may have the edge, mainly because Eleftheria (based on extremely vague YouTube footage) looks a more capable live performer than Ivi, and also because of Greece’s greater voting power. And if it progresses from semi-final 1, the Greek song may well have enough about it to be pushing for a ninth straight top ten finish.
Rob Furber

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  1. Tim B

    Hi Rob, completely agree with you on Serbia and Russia especially. I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on Azerbaijan which I see as a major contender for a top 4 placing. You can still get 50/1 on Ladbrokes. Will you be posting your next article after the unveiling of the United Kingdom’s entry on Monday?

  2. Rob

    Hi Tim. Thanks for posting. I think the Azerbaijan song is very decent and I’ve been surprised the market hasn’t reacted more positively, with its price on BF not budging much from around a back price of 50. Tomorrow morning’s draw is going to be key to its chances, along with Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the UK – he says stating the obvious!!! Azer not quite so draw dependent as others, but a late draw will surely see its odds tumble. I’ll be posting new article after the draw tomorrow morning. Please keep reading and commenting.

  3. Rob

    2 important tunes for ESC traders to assess ahead of tomorrow morning’s draws.

    Azerbaijan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA9wT2IL_tQ

    UK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01SQXjlhTuE

    Both decent ballads in our view, but both will need late draws to be of interest on the Outright market.

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