It’s a very special Eurovision this year as one of the biggest nights of TV celebrates its 60th birthday. After Conchita’s Rise Like A Phoenix won for Austria last year – a song we tipped at 3/1 – the contest will be held at the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna.
It’s been an interesting contest already with some surprise eliminations in the semi-finals. Finland’s highly fancied punk band PKN went out in the semis as did Denmark, usually a strong contender. Keep reading for our preview of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.
While it would be great if the very best song won the contest every year there are factors in play which mean it is possible to narrow down the contenders to a small list. The order the songs are drawn in remains crucial as does the language and, of course, the politics.
Good songs can often flounder if they are drawn early and last year’s winner was the first since 2004 to win having appeared in the first half of the show. Eight of the last ten winners have appeared between 17th and 22nd place on the night and the draw certainly favours certain contenders.
Sweden have long been the ante-post favourite and Mans Zelmerlow’s Heroes is likely to go off as the market-leader on Saturday night. A contemporary EDM tune with echoes of Avicii’s Wake Me Up, it certainly ticks a lot of Eurovision boxes.
My concern would be that it is early in the draw – it goes 10th of 27 – and immediately follows what I think is one of this year’s strongest songs. Sweden often feature prominently in the betting and while I think it is a strong song I think its early appearance might be enough to derail its chances.
Italy have been well fancied in the betting but their entry has echoes of a recent underperforming favourite. France’s Amaury Bassili was the clear market leader heading into the 2011 contest with his song Sognu, a similarly bombastic opera-style entry. It finished a disappointing 15th that year and while I think Il Volo’s Grande Amore will go better, it doesn’t feel like the winner of a pop contest to me. In addition, you have to go back to 1989 for the last time the final song of the night won the contest.
Norway go directly before their Scandinavian neighbours and I think 20/1chance A Monster Like Me is one of the best songs in the contest. Morland and Deborah Scarlett’s dramatic duet deserves to do well but, again, it features in the first half and could be forgotten by voting time.
What this all means is that, for me, the nation to beat this year is Russia. Last year’s Russian entry never really stood a chance with the political situation in the Ukraine and the twins representing Russia were roundly booed in the arena. There’s a much warmer reception for Polina Gagarina this year and her powerful ballad A Million Voices is catchy, anthemic and exactly the type of song you can see being reprised at the end of the night.
With a dozen countries likely to award high political votes and juries across Europe ranking the songs by quality I fancy it to go really well. It’s perhaps placed a shade late in the running order – 25th of 27 – but I’d rather it was there than much earlier. Russia are my tip this year at 3/1.
If you’re looking to back a lively outsider then there are some interesting songs to watch this year. Australia are participating in the contest to mark its 60th birthday and the Aussies are sending Guy Sebastian, an established pop star in his homeland.
Tonight Again is an upbeat, Bruno-Mars-esque pop hit and certainly one of the better songs in the contest. It goes 12th, and with few countries having a political axe to grind with the Aussies – and some possible televoting mischief to encourage an Australian win in a European contest – it could do very well at 8/1.
I was impressed by the staging of Belgium‘s entry Rhythm Inside in the semi-finals where young Loic Nottet had a warm reception. At one point the young singer lies on the stage singing to the camera above and his song is arguably the most contemporary (the introduction sounds as if he’s about to launch into a version of Lorde’s Royals).
Belgium have only won the contest once in 57 attempts but could fare well at 12/1.
8 of the last 10 Eurovision winners featured between 17th and 23rd place on the night and last year I tipped Hungary at long each-way odds to grab a top 5 finish on the basis it was the strongest song in that part of the running order. They duly finished 5th and returned a tidy profit.
Following a similar rationale this year leads me to two very different songs. Hungary could once again go well, with Boggie’s gentle War’s For Nothing impressing strongly in the semi-finals and available at 100/1. It could get drowned out by the song that follows it, however, with Georgia‘s Nina Sublatti looking for all the world like Julianne Moore in the film Seventh Son while belting out europop banger Warrior.
There was some interest in the betting after Georgia made it through the semi-finals and it looks a lively 50/1 outsider.
Oh – and finally the UK‘s entry is 50/1. Electro Velvet go 5th on the night and a win for Still In Love With You appears about as likely as Elvis scoring the winning goal for Notts County in the 2020 Champions League final.
The eyes of the world will be on the Danish city of Copenhagen this weekend as the 59th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the stunning B&W Hallerne. 26 nations – including twenty who came through this week’s semi finals – are looking to be crowned champions, and we look at the ones to watch on Saturday night.
UK and Ireland
The UK’s long wait for a Eurovision win goes on. You have to go back to 1997 for the last time the UK won the contest and since then they have tried everything from Scooch and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Blue and Bonnie Tyler in search of a sixth win.
This time around the UK has turned to the BBC Introducing roster for their entry. Molly’s Children Of The Universe is a highly contemporary song and is the first to be co-written by the UK’s performer since 1997. Considering the relative mediocrity of this year’s contenders it actually stands out amongst its rivals and could go well as the 10/1 fifth favourite.
Molly’s performs last of the 26 nations and that could be her problem as no song in final place has won the contest in the televoting era.
Not a vintage year for Eurovision
The clear favourite has won Eurovision in each of the two years and it’s been easy to see why. Both Loreen’s Euphoria and Emmilie de Forrest’s Only Teardrops were clearly outstanding contenders and it was no surprise when both romped home at short odds.
In the week leading up to Eurovision favouritism has changed three times. Earlier in the week Armenia were the favourites with the dreary piano ballad Not Alone before Sweden snatched favouritism with their mid-paced pop single Undo a couple of days ago.
Following the second semi-final we now have a new favourite. If you like your Eurovision entry to sound like it has been lifted from the opening titles of a James Bond film then you need look no further than this year’s entry from Austria.
Rise Like a Phoenix is the full James Bond schilling complete with brass section and dramatic ending and Conchita Wurst – the ‘bearded lady’ – gives it plenty of vocal heft. It’s also possibly just about late enough in the running order (11th) to remain in viewer’s minds.
With an instantly recognisable performer, Rise Like A Phoenix is one of those songs that could either really capture the imagination or sink without trace. If the European public decide that an epic cinematic ballad is what we need this year then Austria could win their first contest in 48 years.
The importance of the draw
While a great song will invariably do well at the contest wherever it is drawn, taking the running order into account is hugely important.
The eyes of the world will be on the Swedish city of Malmo, this weekend as the 58th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the stunning Malmo Arena. 26 nations – including twenty who came through this week’s semi finals – are looking to be crowned champions, and we look at the ones to watch on Saturday night.
The eyes of the world will be on the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, this weekend as the 57th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the stunning Crystal Hall. 26 nations – including twenty who came through this week’s semi finals – all harbour hopes of victory, and we look at the ones to watch on Saturday night.