Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I've been planning to write a post with that title (a quote from Walt Whitman) for a good few weeks, by way of an admission that I jumped the gun in saying that Engelbert Humperdinck's UK Eurovision entry was bound to have only a niche appeal, before I'd even heard it. But I winced when Alex Massie gave the quote a spin in the Scotsman recently, because now it's bound to look like that's where I stole the idea from. Cheers, Alex.

Anyway, having totally immersed myself in the Eurovision national final season for a few weeks, I drifted away again, and I thought it was high time I caught up with the latest standings in the betting and fan polls. I wasn't really expecting any surprises - but I was wrong. Italy second in the betting, Russia third. What is going on? I was so uninspired by Italy's entry that my first listen to it a few weeks ago was also my last until today. It's grown on me a bit, and I suppose it has a quirky side to it, but unless they do something absolutely astonishing with the staging, it's not a winner. I presume Russia are only so high because British bookies/punters think that 'barking mad' always wins votes at the Eurovision. Well, they're half right - we could easily see it finishing in the top half of the table come the night of the final (particularly with the assistance of the pro-Russian bloc vote), but it has virtually no chance of winning.

One thing that isn't a surprise is to see Sweden leading the betting - it's been the fan favourite from the word go. But again, I'm not at all convinced. Dance tracks have a uniformly atrocious record at the contest, including one or two that were tipped to win - the superb Je t'adore by Kate Ryan famously failed to even qualify for the final in 2006. So at this stage, I'll go out on a limb and more or less exclude Sweden's chances of outright victory.

So who does that leave? Next highest in the betting are Serbia, the UK and Denmark, in that order. I think the UK have every right to go in with as much confidence as they did under Andrew Lloyd-Webber's direction three years ago - when they (or "we" as I must force myself to say) finished fifth. So I think that's the sort of placing we're probably looking at again. We're not going to win, because a new law of physics was discovered circa 1999 stating that the UK can't win Eurovision anymore. As for Denmark, they have a lovely song, but also one that's not desperately original or likely to reach out of the screen and grab people on a first listen.

Having eliminated virtually everyone else's chances, could this then be one of those rare years where a song wins purely on quality? Serbia, Spain and Iceland are the class songs of the field in my opinion, and in comparison with the competition they all look ideally placed. And with Serbia having the Balkan bloc vote behind them, and with the name/face recognition factor of their performer (Željko Joksimović), they would be my hot tip for the time being.

And then of course there's Jedward. Ahem...


  1. Hard one, but Iceland gets my vote on beauty. Actually England's entry is OK, once it gets going, and I can't help but admire Mr Humperdink's lung power towards the end. It would be good for someone half his age.

    I'm looking forward to Scotland's first entry. Manran might be a good choice.

  2. "I can't help but admire Mr Humperdink's lung power towards the end"

    I agree, Tris, if he can replicate that on the night he deserves a good result.