Thursday 21 May 2015

Haiku #11

Chain of lights switched off
Inject your golden love. And:
Some Nordic revenge

Predicting Semi 2

I'm finding Semi 2 very difficult to call. I genuinely think there's about 13 or 14 songs that 'should' qualify, based on a combination of song, performance and voting patterns. Obviously three or four of those have to miss out, so let's see what I can call.

Definitely qualifying:
1. Sweden. Because lol, obv.

Almost definitely qualifying:

2. Azerbaijan
3. Norway
4. Cyprus - I have Cyprus as my Top 3 bet, and I do think it could happen, particularly in the semi-final with this draw.

Probably qualifying:
5. Malta - my fifth most likely to qualify, but not likely to come 5th. An almost definite 9th, I'd say (see my betting article for reasons why)
6. Slovenia - I have a little bet on this to possibly miss out. I don't think it'll happen, but it was worth it with odds of 7 for the potential return.
7. Israel

On the borders:
8. Latvia - fingers very crossed, but I'm worried
9. Poland - only making it through because of the very kind draw.
10. Lithuania

Just missing out, but would/could/should make it in any other semi-final:
11. Iceland
12. Ireland
13. Montenegro

And the ones missing out:
14. Czech Republic - I had a bet on this to come last; based on rehearsal reports it probably isn't happening, but it still really could - two people from a country nobody knows or likes just shouting at each other for three minutes.
15. Switzerland
16. San Marino - avoiding last place for the Malta reasons above.
17. Portugal

Interviews: Czech Republic, Cyprus and Slovenia

To complete the second semi finalists, here are our last three interviews! Hope you enjoy and share and tweet and post and do whatever it is you do in order to tell everyone how amazed you are at these performers and help them get to the final on Saturday!


Poolside predicaciónage, part dos

Today has mostly been spent chasing the rays of sun between the ever-moving clouds, and as a big one (cloud, not ray) just came along, this seem as good a time as any to try to do some predicting.

Very pleased with my nine correct guesses on Tuesday, and even somewhat considered putting Hungary, the only one I got wrong (instead of Macedonia), in after seeing the performance, so no big shocks really. Particularly since the other two I was very unsure of beforehand (Serbia and Albania) convinced me during the show. So let's see if I can do as well today!

The obvious
1 Sweden | Surely it's winning tonight - and presumably also on Saturday.

The battle for second place
2 Azerbaijan | My favourite song (for the third year running, and I still haven't received my bribe-money! I call scam!), and even though rehearsal reports haven't been hugely promising, it should definitely qualify with ease, and presumably also get a relatively good result.
3 Slovenia | Speaking of not-too-promising rehearsal reports... It's still a song contest though, and this is a damn good one, so I'm confident. Never saw it as an actual winning candidate though.
4 Norway | I've always found its main strength (alongside the beautiful melody, obvs) the way it has some very distinctive parts that all go well together and building a "story" that keeps you interested and focused all through, and the camerawork in MGP, which I understand has been largely kept, underlined that.

Should be fine
5 Latvia | I've had my doubts about this all season, particularly in the televote, but even if it more or less fails there, I assume (enough of) the juries will adore it sufficiently.
6 Israel | Similar doubts here, although opposite regarding jury vs. televote, but it seems they got it right in underlining the harmless and fun nature of the song. I'm not keen myself, but I like that it's there.
7 Lithuania

8 Cyprus | My initial instinct was "should be a qualifier", but has drifted away more and more for me, and I'd more or less decided it'd fail. Seems most disagree though, so I've re-changed my mind yet again... Peer pressure, you say?
9 Montenegro | Obviously won't do anything in the final if it gets there - not exactly Željko's best work... It's 'nice', isn't it.
10 Switzerland | Should be a no, but somehow might just do it...

11 Ireland | Have had this as a qualifier all along, just waiting for everyone else but me and Ron to realise how nice it is, but seems people just won't...
12 Czech Republic
13 Poland
14 San Marino | lolz
15 Malta | Should be dead last, but I'm guessing they'll have some jury favours sorted out.
16 Iceland | Why would anyone that isn't a Nordic televoter vote for this? Dull, screechy and utterly unnecessary.
17 Portugal | Well, *I* love it, at least... :-(

Enjoy the semifinal, everyone!


Well, just like we did for the first, we will blog a bit about the rehearsal but only minimally. Will Portugal have to sing again? Will Iceland sound as bad as it has been? Will the 10 finalists be announced any slower?

Well, we already have a mistake - San Marino was called out but Montenegro stood up and was seen by the camera. The Slovenes are too slow so Polish Monika decides to overtake them in a move any F1 driver would be proud of!

No gay and lesbian kiss in this rehearsal again. Seems like they did it for the jury final so what are we to expect tonight?

Not sure what's going on with her hair with this one. Never really noticed it in any previous rehearsal so I'm assuming it's a new thing. Looks like he had a bee from the honey get stuck in it and she was scratching one part of her head to get it out. No dear. (San Marino intro ...) NO!

OH WHAT A SURPRISE! It seems we've been asked to switch the flashlight of the mobile phone on in this song. No one ever saw that one coming. Totally innovative idea.

Knez has had a rough night it seems. He's never been looking like a spring chicken but it seems him and Lys could have been at school together here. Still, he still gets the song out.

Apparently she was quite good in the jury final which should help. This is stronger than it was yesterday for sure. It will all depend on tonight I think.

Green is the colour of hope "as you all know". I thought it was the colour of envy. But if Conchita says hope, it's hope. Obvi.

Conchita asks the same question to Michele as she did yesterday. This time he seems to have understood. Doesn't sound like a rehearsed answer at all. Molly from Ireland is cracking up at everything. What's you name? "HA!" Where do you come from "HA!" Where are you? "HA!" - OK, those were not the questions but answers were quite that.

LOVESH! Easily going through. He also stays moody for long enough at the end. Want to just give him a good long snog!

Ok, obrigado. Até  já!

Great again, would love these to go through.

Show me Tel Aviv baby! Come on, this has to go through!

And another sure qualifier if there is any justice in this world. Latvia is a class ahead of many this year. Unfortunately not sure about any problem-giving to the leaderboard, but a true song sung by a true artist.

Another decent rendition. Should be able to get through - although I just realised I said this for th past three songs. One of them will end up losing out probably - which unfortunately I would say is CZ *unhappy face :-(

Maria is a fairy in a stage play. She's light enough I guess, can't see Bojana having had this role. Although I would pay to watch that!

When not flying accross wooden planks supported by rigging, María is one step out of time. Well, she was yesterday, today it's not as terrible as it was. Seems like she managed to get it right at the end.

Conchita small taks to Mørland (aka Kjetil) and then quickly move to talking fashion with Debrah. She then moves to Leonor who plays golf - of course she does. Why would she play anything else?

Charge your phones Europe!

When something is good you don't change it. Congrats!

The more I listen the more I like, but that's what happens with all the songs like is mentioned all the time. You cannot come here for two weeks and then not like every single one of them - or at least part of a song. Well, except Finland. That still hasn't had any likeable moment for me. Shame they've been kicked out *giggle with look of satisfaction*

Simple, likeable - still needs to shave though. But if that is as bad as I can get on this then it's a good sign.

Camera angles are still a bit weird. Raay playing the airdrums, that random woman playing the air violin ... all a bit ... random. But in a good way? I love the song to bits, one of my favs, but watching it makes me feel stupid and confused - not nice. Then again, I'm in no way representative of European good taste so what the fook do I know.

Still want some of that cake. There has been a sever lack of it here considering we're in Austria. Bad Vienna! WORST EUROVISION EVER! 
Monika seems to have slept in coz there doesn't seem to be much make-up going on. It's before the watershed dearie, there are children watching! Still find myself singing along to this - harmless enough.


RECAP an History moment etc.

Bit of an awkward pause after recap 2 since Conchita didn't get her moment right (only a few seconds late but it was noticeable). She tells us to go get a drink - we approve.

Voting closed.

Mix of the voting clips still makes me laugh. Love this clip.

Bianca and Alex from Electro Velvet are being interviewed by Arabella. Italy's Il Volo are next to be questioned, this time it's Alice with the microphone. Yodelling is left in the hands of Edurne and the Makemakes are last to be talked to.

Videos of the finalists.

Jan Ola confirms once more that the results are ready.

"Thank you very much Jan Ola."


01. Portugal
02. Poland
03. Iceland
04. Cyprus
05. Sweden
06. Lithuania

(this is going slower thankfully)

07. Malta

Arabella is informing us this is fake since there seems to be enthousiastic cheering in the hall. "But thank you for the cheering" says Alice.

08. Israel
09. Azerbaijan

"And the very last country to qualify for the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 is... "


Thank you and good night!

Predicting part two

On Tuesday I said:

Albania and Macedonia are most certainly out.

So yeah.

Anyway I did get 8/10. Not sure if that will happen tonight as I really think it's Sweden + just about any of the others.

However, I'm going to daringly use my phrasing from Tuesday and say: Portugal and San Marino are most certainly out.

Here is the vote I did in the press centre the other day:

I was in a bit of a strange mood, I think.  While I don't completely disagree with myself, I do think I was being a tad harsh on Norway, whose first rehearsals were very underwhelming and I still wonder if viewers might bore of it before the final chorus kicks in, especially during the awkward walking bit.

Montenegro has its fans, and I am starting to suspect that it will have enough of them to sneak in even though there aren't a great deal of obvious friends there.

Iceland is another odd one. She sings it pretty awfully and for me it's a huge non-song. But other people are clearly seeing and hearing something I'm not. Despite this I'll stick to my instinct that it will go the way of Denmark, meaning both Nordics will lose their 100% qualification record since the inception of the two-semi system.

I was having similar doubts about Latvia as with Belgium in semi one, but as Europe was discerning enough to vote Loic through, I'll hope the same happens tonight with Aminata.

Potential shock? Slovenia remains my favourite song this year, but it has been quite lacking in rehearsals and I don't know. I'm a little worried for it.

So I'll go for the following ten, in decreasing order of certainty:

This means I've dropped Ireland and Switzerland since the press centre prediction. From the point of personal preference, I hope that I was right then and wrong now.

Semi-final 2 betting guide: A chain of bets for you

Good afternoon everyone. I hope you had a successful and profitable semi-final on Tuesday; I just hope you didn't do what I did and pile more money on Denmark as their odds went out throughout the evening. Oops.

As always, oddschecker is your friend - I'm not listing which bookmakers are carrying the best odds today, as several of them are very even, and they'll continue to change throughout the day.

Unlike the first semi-final, the betting market has very much coalesced around ten qualifiers. It's unusual that all the fancied acts do qualify, so it's definitely worth taking a look at the qualification market to see if there's any money to be made. The one country that immediately stands out to me is Malta. They haven't failed to qualify since 2011, and in a semi-final that has Azerbaijan, Montenegro, San Marino and the Czech Republic voting, I'd be very reticent to write off their chances. Odds of 2.2 seems a decent bet for Amber to qualify, and this is one I've personally backed quite heavily. It's also one time I really won't be sad if I lose my money!

On the other hand, if you think the bookies have mainly got it right on the qualifiers, you could go in on some more safe bets, and try and make your returns with some larger bets at lower odds. 1.29 is available for Cyprus, which seems safe based on rehearsal reports, as does 1.36 on Israel, though both of these have come in considerably during rehearsals. Alternatively, you could just place all your money on Måns to qualify, and take the 1% interest rate that a 1.01 bet offers you.

With ten such solid qualifiers, the not to qualify market is an interesting one today. Of the ten considered most safe, Poland and Iceland are (perhaps rightly) seen to be closest to the cusp, and if you think they'll miss out on a ticket to the final the bookies will offer you 2.62 and 2.75 respectively. I personally still have my wonderings about Slovenia. For a song considered by many to be very contemporary, it's been met with bemusement and indifference from several of the non-fans I've encountered. If you're brave enough to think that Marjetka and Raay could be on the first flight back to Slovenia on Friday morning, odds of 7 will see you making a very tidy profit indeed.

As clear favourite for the contest itself, it's no surprise that Sweden's odds to win the semi-final tonight are very low, with 1.4 the best you'll be offered. Disappointingly, none of the regular bookmakers seem to be offering 'anyone other than Sweden' odds tonight, but if you're willing to get into laying on betfair (see sofabet's excellent guide for more details), lay odds of 1.38 on Sweden effectively translate to odds of 3.63 for Sweden not to win the semi-final.

Perhaps more interesting again is the top three market. With Sweden potentially sucking up a lot of votes, and the potential for fan favourites like Norway or Latvia to do less well than expected, this market is wide open. With an excellent draw and a compelling performance, Cyprus at 3.25 could be a very good bet here, or you can more than double your money with odds of 2.25 on Slovenia.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, if you have faith in a song and its winning chances, now is the time to place a bet for the final. Russia's odds came in dramatically following Polina's performance in the semi-final, and the same is likely to happen tonight. You can still get odds of 3 for Sweden to win the whole thing - if the performance is very strong tonight, and particularly if Heroes gets a good reaction on social media and iTunes following the show, those odds will tumble. On the other hand, if you really have faith in something that's still seen as a bit of an outsider, like Slovenia, consider taking the odds of 51 available now - if Europe really does love it tonight, they won't be there long.

Additionally, if you're keen on betting on the final and want to get in there first, you'll need to stay up late tonight. Once the halves have been drawn in the press conference, the producers will be getting to work on the running order. Last year they were pretty quick - and that moment in the early hours will be the first impression we'll get of how the final will really shape up. Expect the money to go flying thick and fast.