Unfinished Business

Feb 1, 2019 by

Unfinished Business

It is with a heavy heart that Eurovision 2019 coverage gets underway here.

We had the semi-final allocation draw on Monday. First impressions are, semi 2 looks a lot more competitive on paper than semi 1 with the 2 current market leaders Russia and Sweden in there along with traditionally strong ESC nations Azerbaijan (91% qualification rate), Armenia (83%), Romania (86%) and Moldova (71%).

Add in 2009 winner Norway and 2013 winner Denmark, who boast qualification records of 80% and 73% respectively in the last 15 years, and it looks a potentially strong heat.


The UK final is a week today. Once again, it is a disappointing selection. You get nowhere at Eurovision with such unremarkable, anodyne compositions. Selecting artists from the former music reality tv show participant conveyor belt also highlights a lack of vision and enterprise on the BBC’s part. What we know from previous UK national finals is they are hard to predict ahead of the show and it is pure guesswork regarding who the powers that be actively get behind on the night, and who they throw under a bus.

In studio form it looks like the battle could lie between the conventional, rousing, key-changing ballad and the back-to-basics banger; the BBC’s All Together Now winner Michael Rice singing ‘Bigger Than Us’ in one corner vs former 2015 X Factor judges’ houses reject Kerrie-Anne Phillips with ‘Sweet Lies’ in the other.

The betting market makes Michael favourite at a best-priced 11-8 at time of posting, Kerrie-Anne second favourite at 5-2. Michael’s course form, already winning a BBC show, might see him favoured. His vocal ability appears to be solid enough though in terms of charisma and stage presence he looks more limited.

Holly Tandy has a degree of good will after her stint on X Factor 2017 and is a likeable Yorkshire lass. Her countrified version of ‘Bigger Than Us’ works nicely enough and she might prove strong competition to Michael in that particular head-to-head.

‘Freaks’ sung by Jordan Clarke is trying to play the ‘it’s ok to be different’ card, which the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, probably believes is a winning formula at Eurovision. The main issue is, in the aural delectation stakes, it’s harder to imagine a more flavourless and frankly pointless 3 minutes than this. MAID merely hammer home the creative vacuum of this track.

Singing the only banger, ‘Sweet Lies’, Kerrie-Anne might benefit from enjoying the pimp slot on the night – as her head-to-head is billed as ‘sing-off 3’ and closing with an uptempo tune would seem the logical way to play it. Such uptempo tunes can be difficult to sing well live, though Kerrie-Anne looks better equipped to do it justice compared to Asanda last year attempting ‘Legends’.

Of course, these nuances may well be lost on the panel of ‘experts’ drafted in to give their opinions and decide who progresses from each head-to-head. The show format is written up as, ‘Once each act has performed, the expert judges will decide which act and version of the song will go forward to the final and public vote.’

Singing the only banger, ‘Sweet Lies’, Kerrie-Anne might benefit from enjoying the pimp slot on the night – as her head-to-head is billed as ‘sing-off 3’ and closing with an uptempo tune would seem the logical way to play it

The best that can be said about Anisa’s version of ’Sweet Lies’ is that it reveals the entire notion of two versions of the same song sung in different styles is a failed project only serving to highlight these cookie-cutter efforts for what they are.

The winners of each head-to-head will perform again and the decision regarding which of the 3 will represent the UK in Tel Aviv will be decided by public vote-only.

It is good to see the Betfair Exchange open markets on many of the upcoming national finals. We had a very lively French national final market last weekend, trading-wise, with more money traded on the outcome there than had been traded on the Outright at the time.

Albania, Spain, France and Czech Republic are the only songs selected so far for Tel Aviv and it is difficult at this admittedly early stage to get too excited about any of them.

The action ramps up over the coming weeks with Melodifestivalen 2019 getting underway tomorrow night in Sweden, and the return of Anna Bergendahl, a shock non-qualifier for Sweden back in 2010 and the country’s only NQ since the semi-final format was introduced.

Next week will of course see the UK’s ‘Eurovision You Decide’ on the Friday night (7.30pm UK time, BBC2) closely followed by the Australia Decides national final on Saturday morning for European viewers, with the climax of Italy’s long-winded Sanremo Music Festival happening later that evening and Eurovision 2015 3rd-placer Il Volo in the running there.

We have already had many artist reveals across the Eurovision nations. There have been unconfirmed reports Sergey Lazarev will return for Russia, backed by the ‘Dream Team’. This is the reason why Russia currently resides as favourite on the Betfair Exchange.

If he returns you sense the Russian team will feel like it is unfinished business after narrowly missing out in 2016, Lazarev (like Il Volo) winning the televote but ending up in 3rd place overall.

To extend coverage during the 2019 Eurovision season we will gather the thoughts of some guest writers, and fellow traders, with local knowledge previewing national finals in some of the other competing countries across Europe.

If Lazarev returns you sense the Russian team will feel like it is unfinished business after narrowly missing out in 2016

News comes thick and fast during the coming weeks. The first chance to hear competing songs, first live performances, song leaks… as they say during on-season, the wise ESC trader never sleeps.

The Eurovision 2019 subscription offer is officially open. The price is remaining the same at £60.

2018 was a disappointing year, and a first losing one for this site. This is an occupational hazard. No professional trader is able to win all the time. The key to success is making profit in the long-term.

Over the last 4 years the Eurovision subscription service is showing an overall profit of +167pts with 3 profitable years prior to last year’s reverse. The hope is, 2018 was a blip and probably a long overdue one after something of a dream run in previous years.

Since EntertainmentOdds introduced a points-based system of tv betting recommendations at the start of 2014, the site has made a profit of +485.75pts to a 1pt level stake.

For £60 you will receive exclusive betting recommendations via email during the key rehearsal period in Tel Aviv. To attend in person and be in the press centre for all those crucial first rehearsals in the first week, and jury performances in the second week offers invaluable intel.

The aim, as always, will be to provide you with informed opinion and analysis throughout the 2 weeks and pinpoint the value investments across the vast array of ESC markets.

You will initially receive the traditional ante-post analysis of where the Outright betting value lies once we know all 42 songs heading to Tel Aviv and the bookmakers offer some e/w 4 places betting on the event. In 2016 Ukraine was advised to subscribers at 25-1; in 2017 Portugal at 16-1.

A pre-rehearsals analysis of the 2 semi-finals will also follow assuming the bookmakers put their head above the parapet and price up the semis before we arrive in Tel Aviv, ideally e/w 3 places.

The subscription also offers plenty of value beyond the bare bones of the bottom line profit/loss figure reported at the end of it all. Last year, subscribers were advised to oppose both Australia and Norway – 2 nations that traded in single figures on the Outright – while France was advised at 33-1, and traded around 40 at the time on Betfair before dropping to as low as 10. You do not have to find winners to earn profit from shrewd trading and the analysis offered will help you to shape your market positions.

So it will be once more unto the breach in May in Tel Aviv. Grab a piece of the action below.

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