Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016 : prediction for Saturday's grand final

Well, this is all getting rather uncanny - I correctly predicted all ten qualifiers from the second semi-final, after getting the first one mostly right as well.  I'm bound to come a cropper at the final hurdle, but here goes anyway.

The majority of hot favourites at the Eurovision end up winning, but some narrowly fall short, and a significant minority end up on the bottom half of the scoreboard (as happened to France in 2011, for example).  I don't think the latter fate will befall the Russian song this year, but I do think it's a relatively weak favourite by recent standards.  For all the similarities to the winner from twelve months ago, it's formulaic and derivative where its predecessor was fresh and creative.  I find it hard to believe that the juries will place it top, so the big question is whether it'll at least be in the game at the end of jury voting.  If it's in the top three at that point, there must be a very good chance that the pro-Russian bloc in the televoting will push it to victory.  In fact, here's a betting tip, if you're that way inclined - if by any chance the juries do have Russia in first place, pretty much any in-play odds on Russia to win would be worth taking, because it'll be about as close to free money as you'll ever get.

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Russia may take a real pounding with the juries, in which case the song favoured by the juries would probably only need to finish second in the televoting to be guaranteed of victory.  The snag is, though, that jury voting is much harder to read in advance than televoting, and so it's hard to know for sure which song is most likely to emerge from the pack.  All I can say is that my own view after watching the semi-finals (and also some of the rehearsal footage) is that Australia have the strongest song in the contest, and they definitely have the finest singer.  So logically I have to conclude that the juries would be most likely to plump for Australia, a song which I also think could do reasonably well in the televoting.  Without an enormous amount of conviction, then, I'm predicting an Australian victory.

One obvious problem with trying to work out whether the conventional wisdom overestimates or underestimates a song's chances is that personal taste can interfere with the radar.  In this case, my instinct is that France, Ukraine and Sweden have been overestimated and that Belgium, Malta and Bulgaria have been slightly underestimated.  But I watched the whole of the Melodifestivalen final and was baffled by the winner, so it could be that I'm missing something about the Swedish song that most other people can see.  Perhaps I'll be surprised again, but I'm going to stick with my gut feeling and say that it'll be outside the top five.  I'm more confident in predicting that France will fall short of expectations - I like the song a lot, but I just don't see anything at all in it that will make it stand out.  It's the sort of entry that has finished a routine fifteenth in previous contests, so I'm not quite sure what all the fuss has been about.

My initial feeling after Thursday's semi was that Belgium might be headed for the top three, but their hopes have taken a slight hit after being placed right at the start of the running-order.  But first is better than second, and it's so different from everything that'll come afterwards that people will probably still remember it by the end of the show.  Conversely, the Maltese song won't stand out as much, but it's extremely well performed and has an enviable draw.  I expect Bulgaria to be in the mix because the juries will probably recognise its quality - I'm not so sure how it will fare with the public, though.

So this is my best guess as to how it will shake out -

Winners : Australia (Sound of Silence - Dami Im)
2nd : Russia (You Are the Only One - Sergey Lazarev)
3rd : Malta (Walk on Water - Ira Losco)
4th : Belgium (What's the Pressure - Laura Tesoro)
5th : Bulgaria (If Love Was a Crime - Poli Genova)

Possible dark horses : Israel, Netherlands, Italy

If Australia do win, in one sense it'll be great for the contest, because musical quality will have unexpectedly won out over the do-it-by-numbers approach.  But in another sense it'll be a bad outcome, because it'll draw attention to the fact that the contest's status as a European event has been hopelessly undermined over the last couple of years.  I haven't bothered to check this year's rules in relation to Australia, but I presume it's still the case that if they win, they won't be allowed to host the contest next year, and will instead have to pick a European country to 'partner' with.  That may be the UK's only hope of hosting the Eurovision in the foreseeable future, although I have a feeling Australia might want to avoid any impression of mutual Anglo-Saxon back-scratching, and would go for a more left-field choice instead.

By the way, I'll be voting for Austria.  The decision has been made for me.  I have a personal rule that I only vote for songs performed entirely in a language other in English, and Austria is literally the only one left!

18 comments:

  1. Bulgaria the winner from your picks, I reckon.
    Seems the most club friendly, with a catchy bridge section.
    Russia lyrics are too cheesy, "thunder and lightning it's getting exiting". Australia is a strong ballad, but don't know about re-using the title from an already classic song.

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  2. Dude. Please. Everybody knows that music peaked at the Spice Girls. You're just making yourself look silly now.

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    1. Don't comment if you are not interested.

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  3. France seems to have the fan clubs vote so we will see if it falls short.

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  4. I thought Australia's inclusion last year was a one time thing because of a big anniversary. Have they opened a door that's now impossible to close?

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  5. Good evening from Sydney (Champagne is on ice, just in case!) My understanding is that Germany is likely to co-host in the event of an Aussie victory. Maybe, though, it would be fairer if the country which is placed second gets first refusal ?

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  6. Glasgow Working Class 2May 14, 2016 at 9:52 PM

    James, I can see why your voting for Austria. Some bit of Eartha kitt.

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  7. Have to say that my musical preference would dictate that Georgia should be the winners, but this is Eurovision, so it's basically got no chance at all.

    So, as a result of that, and knowing little of how Eurovision works (apart from certain regions voting for each other), I'll go for Azerbaijan and Israel to be near the top.

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  8. I thought "Love love peace peace" was the best song by some distance.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2May 14, 2016 at 11:53 PM

      Big safty.

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    2. "What's so funny 'bout peace love and understanding?"

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  9. Glasgow Working ClassMay 14, 2016 at 11:51 PM

    That winning song must have been the worst ear bashing shit song ever. Putin will be sending his tanks West tonight.

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  10. Well done on the predictions James. You weren't too far out in the end. I managed to avoid all of this until the grand final, and approached it with an open mind.

    Went through it with the family, marking each act out of 10 on three points: performance, costume and song. Our best acts on aggregate were Lithuania - who would have done even better but for the stupid haircut - Cyprus, Malta, Armenia and France. I have to say, I was truly baffled by the jury vote. Australia was mediocre in terms of song, but a very weak 'performance', there were no dancers, minimal effects, and nothing for the dads! The Swedish guy had some nice clothes, but mumbled and shuffled his way through a forgettable song. Also, Israel - which seemed to please the critics - was by far our least preferred effort all round. We quite liked the winner, but would never have expected it to actually win. What the heck was going on?

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  11. Well done on the predictions James. You weren't too far out in the end. I managed to avoid all of this until the grand final, and approached it with an open mind.

    Went through it with the family, marking each act out of 10 on three points: performance, costume and song. Our best acts on aggregate were Lithuania - who would have done even better but for the stupid haircut - Cyprus, Malta, Armenia and France. I have to say, I was truly baffled by the jury vote. Australia was mediocre in terms of song, but a very weak 'performance', there were no dancers, minimal effects, and nothing for the dads! The Swedish guy had some nice clothes, but mumbled and shuffled his way through a forgettable song. Also, Israel - which seemed to please the critics - was by far our least preferred effort all round. We quite liked the winner, but would never have expected it to actually win. What the heck was going on?

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  12. Hah, you suck... (joking)

    That Swedish female should be offered Nortons job. We always stopped a breath away, from being Terry

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  13. I think we need to hear James's explanation of the voting system. Made d'hondt look simple & straightforward.

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  14. For most of the contest this year I thought they'd changed the rules so that everyone sings the same song. It wasn't until the 23rd act came on, Georgia, that I realised they hadn't. Thoroughly bland was my opinion of the whole thing, where were the singing grannies, the Lordi's, the songs sung in languages other than English (with the honorable exception of Austria), the individuality, the national variation? I didn't know the winner until Sunday morning as after that I wasn't going to site through another hour plus of 'guest acts' and voting.

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