Tuesday 19 May 2015

Haiku #9

Italian Voice
Falling down from the rooftops
Not always Denmark

Poolside predicaciónage

Right, I've solved a few killer sudokus, read a few issues of Attitude (one had Chris Mears wearing not much at all - j'approve), trained my leg on the stairs in the sun, fought a beaver in the pool and now poured myself a little rosé, getting nearly ready for tonight's semi final. It's Eurovision today! But do I have a clue who's making it tonight? Well, yes and no.

I feel pretty confident about seven of them. And frankly, in any other random Eurovision semi, I could easily see the rest not qualifying at all. But unless the Austrians and/or Jon Ola are going to surprise us, there will be ten qualifiers, somehow...

So here we go - this is my prediction of the actual full ranking, which of course we won't know for sure how right I get until after the final, but hopefully I'll get as many of the ten right as possible. According to my track record, I tend to get eight or nine right (I don't think I've ever got all ten, actually - maybe once), so let's see who I'm getting wrong tonight!

The two that seem quite obvious, but are they too obvious...?
1 Russia
2 Estonia

Third places in semis are often where the random starts, so anything can happen from here on...
3 Belgium | It bloody better well be.
4 Greece | I've loved this all along, and felt a bit lonely in the process - it's been comforting to see others starting to approve more as rehearsals started.
5 Armenia | Controversial, loud, horrid, amazing.
6 Georgia
7 Romania | Message or not, simply a strong song that should make it comfortably, though I'm not expecting to sweep the scoreboard.

This is where it gets tricky... The rest really aren't qualifiers to me, they will just accidentally fall above the line
8 Serbia | My gut has said qualifier all along, but everyone else has had me doubting...
9 Albania | Whereas my gut always said non-qualifier here (despite growing to really like it), while it for some reason has been seen as somewhat safe, but rehearsal reports haven't been exactly promising... ÆÆÆÆ
10 Macedonia?!?

Welcome bye bye!
11 Finland | Should do average with juries, as I assume few will like it, but equally few will dare to put it properly low when they get their name attached to it. So it all comes down to what the televoters think... I'm leaning towards my instinct here - that the song is shit.
12 Denmark
13 Netherlands | Could do it for just being very competent, I guess...
14 Hungary
15 Moldova
16 Belarus

Have a great night, everyone!


Apologies, got in a bit late today. No, I'm all here after the fantastic Israeli party but just was having a bit of a lie in. At the party yesterday we had Amber, Kurt Calleja, María Ólafs, Il Volo, Michele & Anita, Elnur (who sang part of Hava Nagila) and some others. Always a party not to miss.

So, what have we seen up to now today:

Still sings competently well. Qualifier - likely.

THEY GOT THE CIRCLE! THEY GOT THE CIRCLE! And it didn't look weird! Now let's hope they can repeat tonight. Qualifier - likely

Another greatt rendition. Qualifier - likely

Trijntje is in the same dress as yesterday afternoon - so we assume she's keeping this now. Qualifier - unsure.

I have decided to refrain from commenting on this. It seems whatever anyone says about this it ends up being taken too much to heart by people so it's not worth the drama. Qualifier - you decide.

Interview Loïc and Trijntje.

Much wind, many light, breath. Qualifier - yes.

Well, it seems the crying is part of the act since she cried again now! No need to worry, it's all part of it. Qualifier - yes.

Again, this is not bad. It's just not attractive enough to make it an easy qualifier. Unlikely.

Gone are the days when clothing ripped off during a performance magically disappeared from stage. Bojana's white robes litter the ground making it look messy. Beauty may not lie but cleanliness is supreme. Qualifier - too close to call. It could go either way.

Nothing else needed - yes.

Just like with FYR Macedonia, this is a decent enough song, just not strong enough in the semi. Unlikely.

Absolute belter! Top 3 in the final is hers, or it's ROBBED!

Talking to Elina and Stig. Elina shows she doesn't only sing cute puppy-eye songs. Then off to Bojana.
Reminder again for the DVD and CD and #eurovision.

One of the other difficult ones to judge. It's Danish enough to make it work but in a year like this will being "Danish enough" mean anything? 

i assume she's saving her voice. Did not sound as good as it has been in the past rehearsals. She did the same yesterday so there is a trend. I would like to say yes but it also falls in the question mix.

All over again. The more I watch and listen the more I realise how I have no fecking clue of what is going to happen with half of these songs. The message is good, the song is mediocre. Hungary beats Romania on the combination of the two - but is Europe willing to have two of these on Saturday?

Finally, something that doesn't make me judge my capabilities of having my own thoughts and opinions. Not that my thoughts and opinions are much different to anyone else's on this song but at least I know it's a qualifier. Unlike yesterday, she sings it as it should be - last warm up before the big night. 

Slight glitch with the graphics which had the rolling 'telephone numbers' sequence going on when the voting hadn't been opened yet. No need to redo so we continue with the actual recap once the voting is open.

Noting different to yesterday so just read that one if you need. No hiccups, no champagne, no petits fours, NOTHING!

01. Greece

And again a technical issue.Mirjam is a lier. Apparently.

So now...

01. Moldova (reminds me of Igor's voting method)

02. FYR Macedonia (this time with FYR mentioed)
03. Hungary
04. Georgia
05. Estonia
06. Belarus
07. Armenia

Small talk for suspence.

08. Greece
09. Denmark

Last finalist from the first semi final of 2015.

10. The Netherlands. Les Pays Bas.

Again, in order of appearance not announcement.

End of show. Only a few hours until the show begins!!!


Semi-final 1 betting guide: Bets are like thunder*

Sure, you've made your predictions, but are you ready to put your money where you mouth is? Ahead of tonight's semi-final, I'm going to take a look at some of the betting odds available for various outcomes, and see if I can identify where the value is.

The odds I quote below are likely to change in the run up to tonight, so, as always, oddschecker is your friend.

Firstly, who will win the semi-final? There seems to be strong consensus from the press corps that it's between Estonia and Russia, with Russia nosing ahead quite considerably in recent days. If you're in agreement, the best odds you can get for Russia to win the semi is 1.83, at William Hill - this means that if you bet £10, you will get £18.30 back (i.e. £8.30 profit). On the other hand, if you feel Stig and Elina's duet will top Polina's big ballad, you can pick up odds of 4 at either William Hill or Boylesports.

With two such clear frontrunners, perhaps the more interesting money is available for a top 3 finish - i.e. who will come 3rd? 3rd place in the semi-final can often be something slightly surprising that then fails to score highly in the final, and therefore the front runners here (after Russia and Estonia) of Georgia (2.25, 888Sport), Greece (2.25, unibet) and Romania (3.5, bwin) would all seem worth a punt. Albania have fallen from grace during the rehearsals, and their odds of 3.75 (bwin) for a top three finish seem rather stingy. On the other hand, if you want to win some relatively safe money, you could opt to bet on Russia or Estonia to come top three. At odds of 1.18 and 1.4 respectively, you won't be making much, but if you're confident, it's effectively a very short-term-high-interest rate account!

Bear in mind of course that you won't see any of your winnings for winner/top three markets until the full results are published following the final. If you want a more immediate return, the place to look is the qualification market.

Most of the bookies are offering qualification odds, though there's considerably less value to be had than in previous years. Finland are one who have really fallen in recent weeks, and you can get odds of 2 (i.e. doubling your money) at Skybet or Ladbrokes if you think they'll make it through. I'd also argue that Denmark (1.91, Coral) could be worth a punt - they've often done rather better than fans expect, particularly in semi-finals. The biggest outsiders in the qualifier market are Netherlands (3.6, Boylesports) and Moldova (3, various sites). They're a risk, but as I wrote in my prediction piece, I do think there's a chance either of them could make it - and anyone who was brave enough to bet on San Marino or Iceland last year made a tidy profit.

On the other hand, if you're a negative person like me, there's fun to be had in the not to qualify market. I'm still quite sceptical about Armenia, and there are odds of 3.75 (at Skybet) if you feel that six people all shouting different songs at the top of their lungs won't engage with Europe's voters. And if you're not convinced Belgium is really connecting, Skybet will similarly give you 3.5 odds. And if you're crazy enough to think Russia might somehow fail to reach the final for the first time ever, Skybet will give you odds of 26 to throw your money away.

If you're serious about your betting, it's worth already thinking about the final. If there's a song you have your eye on tonight and you think you might want to take a punt on it making the final Top 10, Top 4 or even winning the whole thing, it's worth placing that bet now. After tonight you'll have a much better idea of its chances - but so will the rest of Europe. The people who won big on the Common Linnets and Conchita last year were those who were brave enough to place their bets before the semi-finals. I'll be taking a closer look at these markets closer to the final, but if you think that, for example, Georgia or Greece might be an outsider for the top ten, it could be worth getting on the betting sites now.

That's just a brief overview of what's available tonight - do have a browse on oddschecker, and do feel free to post any betting-related questions in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.

(* no, I know they're not, but then neither's time. Go complain to Belarus.)

And the qualifiers are

But really, how should I know? I am usually the worst predictor among the ESC Nation bloggers, and obviously feel the burden of responsibility to maintain this position!

So in declining degree of certainty:

Belgium really should, but I'm still worried it could be a bit too leftfield and will look strange on screen. Serbia and Denmark could certainly sneak in, Albania and Macedonia are most certainly out.

In comparison this is what I handed in to the press centre poll the other day (as you can see I decided that taste should prevail with Belgium in instead of Moldova).

Predicting Semi 1

Time for me to predict my qualifiers for this semi-final. I actually do find this one much easier to predict than the second semi-final, which I'll be struggling to write about in a couple of days time.

That said, there are a few songs where I'm really not confident about my prediction, partly because of the type of year it is. My instinct, for example, is that Moldova will be both unlikeably trashy and forgettable on first, but it might just stand out for being a bit fun in a year of overwhelming seriousness. There's also a few that I have no idea what to do with - Finland is one, and so are Serbia and Hungary. They really could go either way. And like last year's first semi-final, there could easily be one or two entries that effectively 'luck' into qualification.

1. Russia
2. Estonia
3. Georgia
4. Romania
5. Belgium
6. Greece
7. Finland
8. Netherlands
9. Denmark
10. Hungary

11. Armenia
12. Serbia
13. Belarus
14. Albania
15. Macedonia
16. Moldova

Interview: FYR Macedonia

Our final interview from Semi 1 contestants. This time the lovely Daniel Kajmakovski. This guy is amazing, don't know where he gets his energy from. If I only had half of his I would be quite pleased with myself. Unfortunately we didn't get to do the quick round questions but let's see what he had to say for our other ones.