Saturday, 14 May 2016

Some last minute thoughts and predictions

It's been two long weeks already, and yet they've passed by very quickly. Lots of time has been spent in the press centre watching rehearsals, especially the first week, and lots of time has been spent running around between different events. Via this blog, via Twitter and via Instagram reports, photos and a little bit of everything has been shared with you guys. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have! Even though I have to admit I have felt rather drained of energy now towards the end of the Eurovision period.

Now as the final approaches, we shall soon find out who won. We'll also know the full result both of the final as well as the semifinals. As I said long ago, I wouldn't be attempting to do a lot of predictions this year. Because I'm always terrible at making predictions. But right now I'm gonna attempt to make a few anyway. Even if only for the sake of your entertainment, and then you can all laugh at me when it all turns out to be completely wrong.

So, here we go...

* The contest will be won by either Australia or Russia.

* Armenia and Ukraine will be top 5. Possibly joined by Sweden.

* Germany will be the worst-placed song of the Big 5.

* France will not win, but still do better than a lot of people think. I would guess mid top 10.

* Malta will do a lot better with jury votes than with tele votes. So will the Netherlands. But both for completely different reasons.

* The interval act will take even more time than scheduled.

* Belgium was top 3 in it's semifinal, but will only make top 10 in the final.

* Bosnia was 11th in it's semifinal. Iceland was 13th.

* Sweden will give it's jury 12 to Australia.

* At least half of the juries giving their 12 to Russia will mention Sergey by name while doing so. Very likely accompanied by words like "Talented", "You deserve it" and "You are our only one".

That's all :-) Enjoy the show, wherever you are watching it!

Final prediction

Okay, it's time. Time to put my money where my mouth is (well, not really, I'll be hopping over to Betfair to do that in a bit). But here goes, here's my final prediction for the results of this year's contest.

And the winner is...

1. Australia - I have to admit that I wasn't fully convinced by this on Thursday, but everyone else seems to be, it seems to selling well across Europe and it's both jury and televote-bait. So I'm putting this on top.
2. Sweden - I've had them on top for much of the season, and maybe it's the bloggers talking me out of it, but I'm knocking it down to second now.
3. Russia - I never really saw this as a winner, and Tuesday's performance only confirmed my feelings.
4. Latvia - I would love love love this to win. Pretty please?
5. Ukraine
6. Armenia
7. Serbia
8. Italy
9. Azerbaijan - Samra seems to be singing just well enough when combined with her backing vocalists, and it looked fabulous on Tuesday.
10. Bulgaria - I'd originally had them in the Top 10 before rehearsals, then took them out after reports... And now when I made my ranking now, they just slipped in.

11. Netherlands - not doing as well as I'd expected, and the early draw hits this one hard
12. France
13. Israel
14. Austria - it's been lovely seeing some commenters who were quite vitriolic about how Zoe had no chance, what with singing in French and all, totally eating their words now - surprisingly enough, only after her good result in the semi, rather than after they'd seen the same performance in rehearsals.
15. Poland - not deserved, but diaspora...
16. Malta
17. Georgia - still loved by the press, I strongly believe it'll get its share of votes from its fans, but that that won't be enough for it to climb any higher.
18. Cyprus
19. Hungary
20. Belgium - I think first is a horrible draw for this, and it's going to get forgotten.
21. Lithuania
22. Spain - I'm still convinced this is doing badly, despite reports that the crowd in the jury rehearsal loved it.
23. UK - much like Spain, they seem to be charming the cameras and the crowd in the hall alike. This is, the UK always seems to come across 'surprisingly well' in rehearsals, and then it almost never actually translates into a decent finish.
24. Croatia
25. Czech Republic - finally everyone seems to have noticed how staggeringly dull this is.
26. Germany

Sunny prediction, part tres (or uno, etc)

The Syden-weather finally picked up, and my predicting skills improved to nine on Thursday, totalling at 17 out of 20. But I'm pretty sure it's going downhill from here... Last year there was a bunch of countries where it felt obvious they would do well, whereas there's far less of it this year. Which makes it harder to predict, but might also mean it'll be a more even, and hence entertaining, voting tonight. Will we have our first ever Eurovision that wins neither the televote nor the jury vote, for instance? If so, I fear it could be Australia, just gathering up solid support all over, without properly exciting anyone. It certainly doesn't excite me...

I can't really claim I think the ranking below is what will actually happen tonight, but it's the best I could do...

Enjoy the show, everyone!

1 Russia | Not sure it would've come top 3 last year, but it has a certain level of points, and I can't see any of the others getting more. The only thing making it an unlikely winner is that it's my favourite...
2 Austria | I need a crazy prediction, don't I? The only one that seemed to gain some kind of buzz or momentum from the semis that wasn't already there - though obviously nowhere near like Conchita or Common Linnets.
3 Australia | This has bored me all season, and the performance on Thursday didn't change my mind one way or the other. But everyone else seems to love it, so...
4 Latvia | Whereas this really convinced me in the semi - I wouldn't be surprised if it actually won it.
5 Sweden | Great song, very fitting and understated performance, and stands out a mile.
6 Ukraine
7 Armenia | They really nailed this with the camerawork and staging, but it still is what it is, so doubt it'll do much better than this.
8 Bulgaria | Prettyplease!
9 Italy | <3
10 France | Have never managed to get into the loving for this, and it seems to have dwindled a bit during rehearsals. But still, as a song it seems to be appreciated by many, so it should do decently.
11 Croatia | Can see this getting lost too, but it really clicked on Tuesday.
12 Israel | Can see this getting lost too, but it really clicked on Thursday.
13 Azerbaijan
14 Serbia
15 Lithuania | Have been thinking this might get completely lost, but the stage looks absolutely amazeballs for it.
16 Georgia
17 United Kingdom
18 Cyprus
19 Netherlands | I somehow assume this would've gotten a better draw if SVT thought it had any kind of realistic chance.
20 Hungary | Usual Hungary result, I guess?
21 Poland | Love this, but he wasn't exactly nailing it on Thursday, was he... Nor in the jury final last night, it seems. #ooops
22 Malta | Pleasepleaseplease, can this fall flat on its quacky arse?!
23 Spain | Ysy.
24 Belgium
25 Czech Republic | I imagine this will get a certain jury support, but when on as #2, I can't see it doing much at all in the televote. So its result will kinda depend on how many points you need to avoid the lower places - my guess is quite a few.
26 Germany | Who's gonna vote for this? I'm not.

Download and print your scorecards for the final !

Here they are: The -by now- traditional ESC Nation scorecards. And who are we to break with tradition?

This year we also included an inkjet-friendly version, just to make sure you don't run out of ink after printing that 7th scorecard. The scorecard is pretty self-explanatory: Fill in your notes, points, minuses or plusses next to the name of each country. At the end of the show, you can fill in your own top 10. Don't forget to indicate whether this top 10 is your personal preference or a prediction of the final result. Please share with as many people as you like!


Friday, 13 May 2016

Dress Rehearsal - Final

This rehearsal has overrun by nearly 45 minutes so there is no time to rehearse the end. The showing in the press centre ends abruptly.

The 16 lowest-ranking televoting countries are awarded their points.

Then after a confirmation of the top 3 we get the top 10 results.

Måns and Petra are drinking out of the same cup. Both of them look quite tired now.

The system of suspence until the end might not work. Armenia has 188 points and is yet to receive televote points. We know that we are over the 100 mark so with Belgium currently leading with 281 we know Armenia won.

Croatia came second in 'televote' with the United Kingdom winning it.

Armenia, Belgium, Sweden, United Kingdom, Malta, Czech Republic, Israel, Azerbaijan, Austria and Latvia are top 10 with Serbia finishing last with 126 points.

JURY VOTING ORDER (at least in this rehearsal):
Austria, Iceland, Azerbaijan, San Marino, Czech Republic...

Petra is looking knackered! She sits down for a bit and then it seems that there is a break.

We now go back to the votes for the Czech Republic. But there is no communication between the two.

We just noticed that we now have country 38 appearing on thescfreen and this apparently should be Poland however we were informed that the capital city will be Vilnius. Unless Warsaw has changed place we believe this could be a mistake.

39th will be Slovenia.

After all countries vote, we get the Jury scoreboard presented by Måns.

Petra, dressed in a beaded rose dress informs us once more that there is no real change in the way the voting took place just how the voting is presented. We go to Jan Ola Sand who confirms the Jury votes are all confirmed and we will go through them while the televotes are being verified.

The spokesperson only gives the 12 points. 1-10 are on screen immediately.

Måns and his four dancers are on a personal motorised scooters (aka. hoverbards). He sings Fire in the Rain and then we should be going into Heroes but it seems there is an issue. Måns is off the board and we now stop the rehearsal.

The second run through and this time it seems to be going to the end of the segment. We are asking ourselves however - how long will this broadcast be? What, if anything, will be cut?

"Europe! Stop voting NOW!" 
We now *do* have the third and final segment of mockumentary.

Lynda Woodruff does a question and answer section. Unfortunately not the best we've had from Lynda. We would have expected more.

Apparently, all Eurovision winners have been taken to Switzerland and have been scientifically experimented on. We then get the steps to win Eurovision. Rybak makes an appearance. During the step for 'costume', Petra's dress gets ripped off to reveal Charlotte Nielsson's (as she was then known) outfit from 1999. Måns is wearing Dima Bilan's white ensemble. The show has a number of former acts - Russian grannies, Polish butter churner, Carola's flag bearers, Molitva's heart... the whole press room erupts in laughter. We also see this getting the biggest applause for the whole show!

Petra says that another 26 acts have taken to the Eurovision stage and goes to show how the right singer and the right song can create a carreer. She therefore starts to 'sings' The Power of One by Céline Dion. Drowning cats have been more in tune. We know she can sing, so this is for comic effect.

Destiny is introduced by Måns who also informs that Malta will be hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

Time for another recap

Or rather, it will be him, we did not have him. 7 minutes long.

Swedish Music Success
OK, so I was a bit quick in saying it was the mockumentary and go bathroom when in fact it was a mix of Swedish music success with lots of quick cuts of Swedish music hits.

Måns is in the green room. He tals to 'Justin Timberlake' who is at Eurovision because SVT paid for his 1st class ticket. He has been a fan since Mekado sang 'Wir geben 'ne Party'. Sure he has.

We get informed of how to vote, how many times you can vote and the recap starts.

Petra is wearing a green monstrosity.

Sir Ian McKellan and husband Sir Derek Jacobi are then seen sitting on the couch at home watching the contet. Sir Ian is tired and asks how long they have been watching since it feels like it has been all night. "5 minutes" replies Sir Derek.

What an ending to a show! Whatever issues Armenia have brought on themselves due to the flag-gate issue, they still managed to get the closing spot! And a great closer it is. Iveta also chose to not wear make-up for this rehearsal but is still looking stunning. The rehearsal goes without a hitch and there is a final applause from the gathered europress. Now time to see the parts of the show we have not seen before.

As I mentioned numerous times, I unfortuantely do not get the hype of this song - which again, is mainly hype by British fanpress. The staging could be better, the 'choreography' is forced and the bouncing is off-putting. It will gather enough points to not need to worry about being bottom 5 but I do ot expect it to be much higher than that. No applause after they finished.

Zoë is back! Hurrah! She has captivated the eurofans this year. Everyone wants to her song to be played - so that we can all join in the singing (which murders it)! After the first semi final, Zoë was at the Euroclub until the early hours. We also know she liked her partying in London - she looks all innocent but she is not. Odds are saying that Austria will be in the top 10, and we tend to agree. Even though it would not be something that I would personally want to have on a repeat loop, once in a while is enjoyable, and it could be a good rest track for while you're on the treadmill - enough to get your breath before having to do another run.

It was clear yesterday that this would have qualified so we are unsure why there is the surprise that they are on the stage tomorrow. The camera works, the vocals work and the show works! The odds are now in favour of Georgia doing a good showingl, however unlikely to win.

Coming after Ukraine might not have been the best draw for Malta. It was revealed today by a local Maltese newspaper that the team had an unlimited budget for Eurovision this year. The reaction of the Maltese is generally one of not being impressed. It would therefore have been a disaster if this did not qualify and heads would have definitely rolled! Performance wise, it is good but non-spectacular. There has been an addition of some on-screen effects but unlike the case of Italy, they do not really seem to be working. Oh well, thank goodness for that budget!

And it is time for the one and only song that is giving me goosebumps this year. Still getting them even after hearing it countless times, watching it countless times, clapping for it countless times. Jamala gives another impeccable performance. A strong contender for the crown. And Kiev is extremely cheap! We wouldn't mind going there in May 2017.

Another good performance by Justs. If he partied last night it doesn't show. The vocals and choreography (if that is what you could call it) is as good as it was last night. Possibly top 10 finish.

Why does Barei's dress say 03? Did she not realise that having a number on an outfit during Eurovision might make people think you're the entry of that number. The backing vocals are a bit off and Barei is doing ok. The camera angles are a lot better than it was before and now the split screen is making sense when you imagine the crowd cheering GUAPA!

And time for Russia's Sergey! Slight slip of the foot this time but no falling. Apart from that a performance that cannot be criticised - vocally sound, visually good and that face of an angel which will make mothers accross Europe want to have him as a son-in-law. Top 3 if not winner.

Vocally leaving to be desired, we're not sure if Nina is suffering from the Eurovision flu or if there is something else to it. Unfortunately it appers vocally this is the worst performance we've had up to now. The rest of the performance is reasonable enough but if she sings like this tonight and tomorrow then we doubt many points will be coming Nina's way.

As usual, my prediction after the semi in which Lithuania take part is a 9/10 due to this country. I am starting to get annoyed but I guess it is not their fault. I should just completely reverse my gut instinct on them. The hair, the jacket, the choreography, the jump, the singing - what made Europe vote for this is still a bit of a question mark but apparently they did. Wearing his black singlet for the somersault we're seeing Donny's arms which is a decent sight - shame about the hair which ruins it. Not expecting this on the left - and the bookies agree.

Sanja went for the non-make up look for this rehearsal. Looking stunningly fresh and performing amazingly well apart from a slight missed high note. Good top 10 finisher - not much else to say.

How many points will Cyprus get this year now that Greece is not there. Answer: A decent few more than they would have! Francois is not trying to get the howl right this time - probably to save himself for tonight. The guys have been seen often at the Euroclub so they might be feeling a bit worse for wear - still a decent enough performance. Difficult to place but I would say bottom left or top right. Now see it win the whole thing!

Back to the contest for the Australian entry. Back to good use of camera angles to help the artist in dodgy moments. It needs an audience however, when the arena is empty the atmosphere is not the same. There are still issues with Dami not knowing exactly where and when to interact with the stage but this clearly did not influence the voting public too much last night and there is no reason to think that it will tomorrow either. Another top 10 finish for the land down under.

Petra likes the colour of Michał's jacket. Don't worry "just 14 songs to go" says Petra. We then go to find Måns at the Tele2 arena where there is a huge Eurovision party going on. His microphone however doesn't work so we can't hear the script. Loreen and Carola will be with him. They select their favourite songs from Eurovision, Måns chooses 'Nor Par (Jan Jan)' which might have not been the best choice considering the issues with Armenia currently - and would Azerbaijan approve?

Well, to all those who doubted Poland - Michał showed what he is capable of! Vocally he is still very good, and the simple song in strong in this year with a lot of technology-requiring numbers. Whether this will mean he will be on the left hand side of the board is another matter but the Poles have learned that they are all around Europe and their collective voting is capable of giving a good rank to their entry. 

And another Big5 entry is on stage. There is something missing still. Although we were told the reasonings behind Amir being alone on stage and the choice of staging, there is a collective thought that this could have been staged so much better. Although still 4th in the betting, the odds for France have been getting larger - meaning he is losing strength with them. We agree - and would not be surprised if this ends up quite low on the final score board.

After the German postcard Måns and Petra are back on stage and chit chat to fill time. We then have the German postcard again.

And the mystique which comes on stage with the staging and the dry ice works very well - in my humble opinion. "Thank you so much" says Jamie-Lee with a little shy smile. We like her, even though her outfit selections are sometimes questionable! Lots of people are commenting that this will end in the bottom 5 again, I really hope they are wrong. I don't expect it to set people alight but it would be nice to have Germany in the top 15.

Well, it's still something which I do not understand. Due to this there is not much I can comment on since I do not believe I could give it the justice it probably deserves. What we are sure of however is that Sweden will be receiving the 24 points from the five Nordic nations which are not in the Final this year - the rest of Scandinavia plus Estonia.

The question now is - will her lower right leg chevron light up! It is the one that has been playing up a bit over the rehearsals but worked when needed. And nope - it doesn't They should try and fix this before tonight/tomorrow. It must be a wiring issue, something went loose due to Poli's continuous gyrating! Vocally impeccable and the staging working well - but would it be enough for us to meet in Sofia next year?

This was going great, until a slow stage hand didn't run fast enough and was caught in camera shot running off with the microphone stand! They need to ensure this does not happen on the night - Hovi will not be happy! Got a decent clap from the gathered europress.

Francesca doesn't even start. Saying "No! Sorry! No" and then we see there is some problem with her in-ear. Maybe no sound at all or something irritating. She is not happy.

Back on track and there is nothing to worry about. The singing is pitch-perfect. The scene is exactly as we've been seeing online. It seems however that there is someone who is possibly handing her the apple at the end since she doesn't have a look of struggle to take it off as she normally has. The camera angles also go very close to her and she is on the left hand side of the screen when it happens - all angles to hide the person on stage at that time. You will see this in the top 5.

Oh Freddie! As I'm sure many others feel, if only there was a quiet room we could have a chat! A simple choreography, good staging and a husky lovely vocal wrapped in a beautiful package. We think he will do well. "See you in the evening" says Freddie as the lights go out. Yes you will Freddie! Yes you will!

This is really not worthy of the final. This should have been Iceland and Greta but the result is what it is. Samra still can't sing apart the parts where it's actually Sahlene that is doing all the work. Will still get points from their 'friends'. The staging however is still amazingly good - it shows that sometimes you can distract enough with wow factors that the singing does in fact become secondary.

Well, this was one of the ones I did not predict right. It seems obvious in hindsight but that pause seemed so awkward. Douwe has been relaxing since last Tuesday and performs well as he always does. We still prefer the camera eyefucking game that the guitarist is giving us. Alsjeblieft! Dank je wel!

First time the Czech Republic will be on the final stage and it is a lovely little number. Gabriela might not have been lucky with the position she was given but it is likely just the fact that they are in the final is enough to light the flame of Eurovision in the nation. She sang beautifully and would be a deserved top 15 placing but you never know what can happen with this contest.

From closing act in the SF2 to opening in Final, Laura is still a little star. You would have expected she might have 'celebrated' a bit last night but her vocals are good and choreography still on point. We need to start learning the choreography since this will be a classic in the euroclub for years to come. It has been played countless times this year - sometimes up to 5 times in one night! Delightful!

Petra welcomes us to the grand final - she makes a mistake. We then have Måns also speak and back to Petra - who makes another mistake. She doesn't have her glasses on so maybe she can't see the prompter.

The joke about the Eurovision party and Petra not being hit on is back. We then get told how to vote.

We then get told that although the way the televoting happens has not changed, the way the votes will be announced has in order to make it more exciting. Petra appears to have partied a bit too much last night, she keeps on not managing to get the words out.   

The opening sequence is a mix of artists getting ready in the tunnels, the audience, the show control room. It ends with the countdown to the show cue to start. Models then start walking on stage which is a catwalk with an artist behind each one - in running order. We have a bit of a musical pause after Italy to then get back into the beat for Israel. The models are all dressed in different white ensembles. When the name of the country is mentioned, the colours of that country's flag are projected on the costume and in some cases on stage. Another short interlude after Lithuania to get back in the groove for Croatia. You will enjoy the costume of the Croatian model! Zoë has changed from a young innocent looking girl to a street urchin boy! (maybe she just wasn't ready on time).

Before we Start
And here we are - the moment we have been waiting for! 20 semi finalists have been chosen to take part in the grand final and we are mere moments away from seeing their first dress rehearsal. The running order was announced last night and it could be a bit unfair that the opening act is from yesterday's show while the next SF2 finalist is on at number 7.