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Chat Awards 2018: The winners!

Chat Awards 2018: The winners!

The voting is over and we can now present the winners of the #esc Chat Awards for 2018!

Like usual, we closed the door on the previous year by asking our regular chatters to vote for their favourites in a selection of categories. And this is how they chose to remember the 2018 season:

Best official preview video for an ESC 2018 song
Despite tough competition from Netta’s colourful extravaganza and Cesár Sampson cavorting in the snow, the winner in this category was Ireland. “Together” by Ryan O’Shaughnessy came with a memorable preview video featuring same-sex dancers on the streets of Dublin, a performance that was subsequently recreated on the Lisbon stage. Indeed, one of the dancers, Alan McGrath, was nominated in the hottest person category – but more about that later!

Best national final of the 2018 season
National finals are important to this site, as they provide the calendar around which we gather in the #esc chat, enjoy the shows together and give the votes that ultimately feed into our annual SongHunt. When it came to the best national final of the season, our chatters were in little doubt – they gave the award to France, which reactivated its public selection for the first time in many years in the shape of Destination Eurovision. Three songs from that selection also made it into the final of SongHunt 2019, so the French victory in this category wasn’t a huge surprise.

Best song at ESC 2018
Always a tough category to judge – we all have our top ten list (or even a top 43), but how to pick just one favourite song from the most recent Eurovision Song Contest? Unsurprisingly, then, the votes were all over the place. The top two from our ChatVote, Albania and Hungary, remain popular with our chatters and both put up a strong fight, but the winner in this category ended up being Portugal. “O jardim” by Cláudia Pascoal and songwriter Isaura may have finished at the bottom of the final scoreboard back in May, but #esc decided that the host country’s entry deserved some love right at the end of the year!

Best artist (solo or group) at ESC 2018
This is where our ChatVote winner showed its worth. Eugent Bushpepa from Albania destroyed all competition in this category and was duly crowned #esc’s favourite artist at ESC 2018. Only Eleni Foureira from Cyprus put up any kind of a fight, but in the end it was more “po, po, zjarr” than “yeah, yeah, fire”.

Best visual concept at ESC 2018
Was there ever any doubt? DoReDos from Moldova made a splash in the press centre with the very first rehearsal of their six-person hide-and-seek game – and their Carry On Up The Dniester antics won them the 2018 Chat Award for best visual concept by some distance. Here’s how it was done:

Hottest person at ESC 2018 or in a national final
Reviewing the year in hotness is never an unpleasant task, and our voters were keen to get stuck in, with no fewer than eight nominations in this category. It was a tight contest in the end, with Sergiu Mita from Moldova coming close (so to speak), but the #esc hottie of the year is Aron Veress, the drummer from Hungarian band AWS. Viszlát nyár? Viszlát phwoar, more like.

#esc cult of the year
Don’t tell anyone, but this final category is probably our favourite. The “#esc cult of the year” rewards the thing that we enjoyed or laughed at the most in the chat. There were some incredibly strong nominees this year, including classic trashpop from Albania, the legendary Sammarinese robots, the beautiful(ly weird) Romanian audition by Gabriela Garlonta, Alekseev’s bizarre stage show (and oversized mouth) for Belarus, the immortal words of Eleni Foureira, and the pharmacy advert that soundtracked six wonderful weeks of the Romanian selection process. However, the win went to another standout from Romania: guest judge Ilinca, who not only spent her time in the Turda salt mine getting progressively colder, but who also found an ingenious way to transcend the language barrier live on air:

Congratulations to all of our wonderful winners, and thanks to our #esc chatters for their votes. It was a memorable ESC year – now let’s see what 2019 brings!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

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The voting has closed and we can now present the winners of the #esc Chat Awards for 2018!

Like every year, we closed the door on the previous year by asking our regular chatters to vote for their favourites in a selection of categories. And this is how they chose to remember the 2018 season:

Best official preview video for an ESC 2018 song
Despite tough competition from Netta’s colourful extravaganza and Cesár Sampson cavorting in the snow, the winner in this category was Ireland. “Together” by Ryan O’Shaughnessy came with a memorable preview video featuring same-sex dancers on the streets of Dublin, a performance that was subsequently recreated on the Lisbon stage. Indeed, one of the dancers, Alan McGrath, was nominated in the hottest person category – but more about that later!

Best national final of the 2018 season
National finals are important to this site, as they provide the calendar around which we gather in the #esc chat, enjoy the shows together and give the votes that ultimately feed into our annual SongHunt to find the best song of the season. When it came to the best national final of the season, our chatters were in little doubt – they gave the award to France, which reactivated its public selection for the first time in many years in the shape of Destination Eurovision. Three songs from that selection also made it into the final of SongHunt 2019, so the French victory in this category wasn’t a huge surprise.

Best song at ESC 2018
Always a tough category to judge – we all have our top ten list (or even a top 43), but how to pick just one favourite song from the most recent Eurovision Song Contest? Unsurprisingly, the votes were all over the place. The top two from our ChatVote, Albania and Hungary, remain popular with our chatters. Both put up a strong fight, but the winner in this category ended up being Portugal. “O jardim” by Cláudia Pascoal feat. Isaura may have finished at the bottom of the final scoreboard back in May, but #esc decided that the host country’s entry deserved some love right at the end of the year!

Best artist (solo or group) at ESC 2018
This is where our ChatVote winner showed its worth. Eugent Bushpepa from Albania destroyed all competition in this category and is duly crowned #esc’s favourite artist at ESC 2018. Only Eleni Foureira from Cyprus put up any kind of a fight, but in the end, it was more “po, po, zjarr” than “yeah, yeah, fire”.

Best visual concept at ESC 2018
Was there ever any doubt? DoReDos from Moldova made a splash in the press centre with the very first rehearsal of their six-person hide-and-seek game – and their Carry On Up The Dniester antics won them the 2018 Chat Award for best visual concept by some distance. Here’s how it was done:

Hottest person at ESC 2018 or in a national final
Reviewing the year in hotness is never an unpleasant task, and our voters were keen to get stuck in, with no fewer than eight nominations in this category. It was a tight contest in the end, with Sergiu Mita from Moldova coming close (so to speak), but the #esc hottie of the year is Aron Veress, the drummer from Hungarian band AWS. Viszlát nyár? Viszlát phwoar, more like.

#esc cult of the year
Don’t tell anyone, but this final category is probably our favourite. The “#esc cult of the year” rewards the thing that we enjoyed or laughed at the most in the chat. There were some incredibly strong nominees this year, including classic trashpop from Albania, the legendary Sammarinese robots, the beautiful(ly weird) Romanian audition by Gabriela Garlonta, Alekseev’s bizarre stage show (and oversized mouth) for Belarus, the immortal words of Eleni Foureira, and the pharmacy advert that soundtracked six wonderful weeks of the Romanian selection process. However, the win went to another standout from Romania: guest judge Ilinca, who not only spent her time in the Turda salt mine getting progressively colder, but who also found an ingenious way to transcend the language barrier live on air:

Congratulations to all of our wonderful winners, and thanks to our #esc chatters for their votes. It was a memorable ESC year – now let’s see what 2019 brings!

Albania kicks off the 2019 season with “Ktheju tokës”

Albania kicks off the 2019 season with “Ktheju tokës”

The 2019 on-season began in earnest tonight with the final of Festivali i Këngës, the Albanian preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest and the traditional pre-Christmas (or sometimes during-Christmas!) treat for ESC fans everywhere.

As true enthuasists of the days we fondly refer to as “FiKmas”, we had gathered in our #esc chat to watch the two semi-final shows on Thursday and Friday – but tonight’s grand final was when it really counted, as the first entry for ESC 2019 was selected.

Following a jury vote that resulted in a head-to-head fight for first place, that entry will be “Ktheju tokës” by Jonida Maliqi.

Our chat had a different favourite – “Me jetë” by Klinti Çollaku, which averaged 7.76 points out of ten – but we were reasonably fond of the winner too, giving it an average score of 7.33 and ranking it third on the night. Congratulations to Jonida!

We’ve talked about it on our social media already, but we can’t end this piece without a word about our press centre colleague and dear friend Daniel Gould, who passed away suddenly last week. Andrew has written a lovely tribute to him over at Sofabet, and we can only echo his sentiments and his sense of shock at the news. As the new season begins, it seems inconceivable that Daniel won’t be around to analyse it in the witty and informed style he had made his own. He will be hugely missed by the ESC fan community and things simply won’t be the same without him.

Nevertheless, the wheels of the ESC machine keep on turning, and so we welcome Albania to the 2019 line-up – and quietly wonder what Daniel would have made of Jonida Maliqi’s qualification chances in Tel Aviv.

You can listen to the freshly selected Albanian entry here:

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...

Junior Eurovision 2018: Poland wins in real life, Georgia wins in #esc

Junior Eurovision 2018: Poland wins in real life, Georgia wins in #esc

escgo.com and the #esc chat woke up from the off-season hibernation by gathering to watch the 2018 edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest this afternoon!

And of course, it wouldn’t be an #esc viewing of a Eurovision-related event without some voting, would it?

Georgia won the #esc chat’s vote on JESC 2018, with Tamar Edilashvili’s “Your Voice” picking up an average score of 7.67 out of 10 from our chatters, followed by Russia (7.33) and Wales (7.09).

The actual winner of JESC 2018, “Anyone I Want To Be” by Roksana Węgiel from Poland, was met with relative indifference in our chat, finishing 15th in our ranking with an average score of 5.25.

Malta was our least favourite by some distance, scoring just 3.28 out of 10 on average – almost a whole point below the next-worst entry from Portugal.

As the on-season for ESC 2019 begins, with the first internal artist selections imminent and Festivali i Këngës just around the corner, stay tuned to escgo.com as we prepare to unleash our unique editorial view on proceedings.

There are plenty of other places you can watch the Polish winner, so let’s instead end with a reprise of the #esc chat favourite from JESC 2018!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...

“Fără tine” by Dora Gaitanovici wins SongHunt 2018

“Fără tine” by Dora Gaitanovici wins SongHunt 2018

SongHunt 2018, our poll series to find the best non-winning national final song of the year, has come to an end: “Fără tine” by Dora Gaitanovici, from the Romanian preselection, has won the grand final!

Based on the votes of our chatters in the #esc chat and supplemented by our editors’ choices, a total of 96 songs took part in the eight SongHunt heats between January and March, followed by four quarter-finals and two semi-finals. The 12-song final was open for the two weeks during and after ESC 2018 itself, and over the past week we have been eliminating one song every day until we got to tonight’s six superfinalists.

In a special event in the chat, our chatters voted in three rounds. Firstly, they chose their favourite of the three lowest-scoring songs from the public vote, which resulted in “Piedestal” by Inis Neziri (Albania) going forward to the next round (with Emmy Liyana from France and Tamás Horváth from Hungary dropping out). Next, the four remaining songs were whittled down to two, which meant we said goodbye to Inis Neziri as well as Rebecca from Norway with her song “Who We Are”.

This resulted in a final head-to-head between Spanish summer hit “Lo malo” by Aitana & Ana Guerra (a.k.a. the mighty Aitana War) and Dora from Romania. In a clear and unequivocal verdict, “Fără tine” stormed to victory and was duly crowned the winner of SongHunt 2018!

Looking back at the full results for this year’s SongHunt, “Fără tine” actually achieved the highest chat score of any non-winning finalist during the respective national final show, so its victory didn’t come completely out of the blue. This also means that Romania has defended its SongHunt title, after “Petale” by Instinct won the 2017 edition.

Here’s the reprise of the winning song and performance. Many congratulations to Dora Gaitanovici – and we look forward to seeing which songs become our chat and poll favourites when SongHunt rolls around again in 2019!

 

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...

Eye Cue from Macedonia win the 2018 Barbara Dex Award

Eye Cue from Macedonia win the 2018 Barbara Dex Award

The winner of the Barbara Dex Award for the worst outfit at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest has been announced, and the (un)lucky recipient is Eye Cue from Macedonia.

Not content with their entry “Lost & Found” giving us at least three songs in one, the Macedonian stage performance featured a series of unfortunate fashion choices for lead singer Marija and her backing group, most notably a clingy pink/grey sweater and hotpants combination that seemed specifically designed to highlight certain aspects of Marija’s shape with minimal subtlety.

The runner-up in this year’s Barbara Dex Award was Jessica Mauboy from Australia, while Belgium’s Sennek took third place.

Named after the self-designed outfit worn by Belgium’s 1993 representative and based on a public internet vote, the Barbara Dex Award has been presented since 1997 to the singer or artist deemed to have made the biggest fashion mistake at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. While the voters occasionally seem to have missed the point of the award (giving it to t.A.T.u. in 2003 and Verka Serduchka in 2007, for example), it’s hard to argue with their choice of the Macedonian dual fashion crime this year.

We should have known, really – the clues were already there in the preview video…

all images from eurovision.tv

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...

Mea culpa: The art of being wrong about Eurovision

Mea culpa: The art of being wrong about Eurovision

People are wrong about the Eurovision Song Contest all the time. And that’s okay. After all, if we knew everything that was going to happen, there’d be no point in having a contest in the first place.

But when you write your thoughts on any kind of public forum – even a relatively small website like ours – it’s important to be able to put your hands up and acknowledge not only when you get things wrong, but why you get things wrong.

As the dust settles, then, this is my mea culpa (and not in a Catarina Pereira way) – a look at some of the things I totally failed to see coming at ESC 2018.

Cyprus
Where to start but with this year’s runner-up, Cyprus? I never truly believed in “Fuego”, even once the press centre hype had firmly kicked in. By the time of our final team predictions, I’d given into the inevitable and rated it the most likely winner (although not to the extent that it derailed our overall team prediction of an Israeli victory, thankfully). I still think it’s an absolute nothing of a song, albeit one that fits nicely into the current real-world pop music trend of using instrumental hooks instead of actual choruses. What I failed to grasp was exactly what you can achieve by performing the arse off a nothing of a song. The Cypriot staging was far more than just a tacky rehash of “Düm tek tek” or “Qele qele“; it was inspired by dark and interesting elements of entries like “LoveWave” too, making the whole thing a lot more modern and less inherently cheap.

And obviously the real ace in the pack was Eleni Foureira. What a performer, if you like that kind of thing. Beyond her dance moves, though, what I didn’t realise was just how warm, fun and personable she would be – not to mention meme-friendly, of course. The moment we saw fans in the arena holding up “YEAH YEAH FIRE” signs, I knew it was game over, and the only question was whether Cyprus could still be denied victory.

Of course, despite fan rumours to the contrary, Eleni didn’t actually win the semi-final and hence didn’t really merit her position at the very top of the betting odds. With that being the case, I still think there’s an element of groupthink involved in her result in the grand final. Would the juries have been quite as generous if they hadn’t known Cyprus was the favourite in the betting and if “Fuego” hadn’t been given a prime spot in the running order? I have my doubts – jurors are people too, after all, and just as susceptible to external influences as the rest of us. But the fact remains that Cyprus was the second favourite of the viewers at home, and I’m happy to hold my hands up and celebrate the island nation’s best finish on the scoreboard by some distance.

Russia
I’m not going to apologise for a prediction made from a position of cynicism as long as we have the likes of Azerbaijan and Armenia ranking each other in last place under all circumstances, but still: I assumed Russia could qualify for the final with anything, even a singer who can’t actually sing particularly well and a fairly limp and tired staging concept. After 2018, I’ll have to revise that to “almost anything”.

Denmark
When you’re inside the fan bubble, it can be easy to forget that the Eurovision Song Contest is, first and foremost, a family light entertainment show. That explains why viewers warmed to Michał Szpak‘s cheesy balladry and Jack Sparrow styling in 2016 whereas the juries firmly rejected “Color Of Your Life”, and it also goes some way to explaining the jury/televoting disparity for this year’s Danish entry. Rasmussen and his band of pacifist marauders actually have a lot in common with Szpak – a familiar, almost parodic visual style (your standard Game of Thrones/Vikings motif), a non-threatening and easily accessible song, and an inherent naffness that they were happy to own rather than appearing embarrassed by. Add in some live backing vocals that brought far more life to the entry than it had shown in the Danish final, and it’s no wonder “Higher Ground” outperformed my expectations. Winning the semi-final televote is still a bit baffling though!

Austria
Jurywank. Should have known.

Germany
This is the biggie. So many of my assumptions went astray here: The voters did not respond badly to the obvious similarities between “You Let Me Walk Alone” and a certain Adele number. Literally nobody but me gives a damn whether the lyrics of a Eurovision song are a bit clunky and don’t seem to appreciate that there isn’t a 1:1 equivalence between the German “lassen” and the English “let”.

And then there’s Michael Schulte himself. “Singer who became famous singing cover versions on the internet” is such a tired old trope that I took against him immediately, especially as that background seemed at odds with the claim of “authenticity” being foisted on him by Peter Urban and the Unser Lied für Lissabon process in general. Not only did that sense of irritation cloud my initial judgement, but Michael has come across as a thoroughly decent guy in every interview since, far removed from the self-pitying wet blanket suggested by his lyrics, and that humility undoubtedly helped to make “…Alone” work as a package.

Most importantly of all, though, I totally misread how the song itself would connect with its audience. As Eurovision fans of a certain demographic, we can get so fixated on looking for “high-end” relatable content – with examples in 2018 including Netta’s body-positivity and #MeToo message, Italy’s carefully subtitled peace anthem, France’s hymn to refugee tolerance – that we overlook how a common human experience, a heteronormative family tale delivered simply and honestly, can be ultra-relatable for the people at home.

I still feel like the live staging was too dark and inorganic for an emotional song like Schulte’s, but nobody casting their votes on Saturday night seemed to mind. And how brilliant for Germany to get the much-needed confidence boost of a good result after several years of mediocrity (and worse). Would they mind sharing a few tips with the UK?

The Netherlands
Just kidding. Waylon’s still a douche.

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...

Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

Israel wins the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

Israel has won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest!

“Toy” by Netta, the long-time bookmakers’ and fans’ favourite, won the grand final on Saturday night ahead of its recent usurper in the betting markets, “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira representing Cyprus. It was a dominant victory in the end, with Israel scoring 529 points to Cyprus’s 436. The rest of the top five was made up by Austria, Germany and Italy, all of whom exceeded 300 points.

Cesár Sampson from Austria had been the surprise leader after the jury voting, but he swiftly fell down the scoreboard as Netta took a clear win in the televote ahead of Eleni.

Last place in the final was taken by the home country Portugal and the song “O jardim”, albeit with a fairly substantial 39 points – nothing to be ashamed of there.

You can see the full scoreboard below. More reaction and response over the next few days, including what will surely be a long and intriguing View from San Francisco from our US-based Israeli writer Shi!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...

That’s how you place a bet: Your guide to the grand final!

That’s how you place a bet: Your guide to the grand final!

The final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is nearly upon us, and as always, one way of adding a bit of spice to proceedings is to have a bet or two on what’s going to happen. Unlike the semi-finals, today is where the mainstream bookmakers also turn up with some interesting markets. This post will help to navigate some of the bets available to you for tonight’s show – though as always, you should take anything I say as information and not an active recommendation!

Our good friends at Sofabet have a handy guide for you if you need some help understanding betting odds – I’ll be using the European-style decimal odds throughout this piece. All odds are correct at time of writing but liable to change as the day progresses. You have been warned!

So let’s start with the obvious question: who’ll be the winner tonight? Eleni Foureira from Cyprus picked up momentum after her first rehearsal and is now seen as the clear favourite – the best odds you’ll get for her to win are a remarkably short 2.38 (Betfred). Her nearest rival in that respect, Netta from Israel, is currently trading at around 4.0 (Boylesports) at best, which is a little shorter than she was a few days ago – that may reflect a strong performance at last night’s jury final.

You might want to hedge your bets by going each-way, which means betting on a song to win and also to finish in the top 4 (or 3 or 5, depending on the site – make sure to check!). For example, reliable ESC performer Sweden probably won’t win tonight, but odds of 21.0 (various) make them an interesting each-way punt. Further out, Michael Schulte from Germany (26.0 at Black Type) has gained a lot of momentum in the last few days, or you might fancy an each-way nibble at the cheesiest entry of the night, DoReDos from Moldova, at 67.0 (Paddy Power and others).

Bet your hat on a DoReDo?

If you’d rather eliminate the potentially confusing each-way option, you can just bet directly on a country to finish in the top 4. Ryan O’Shaughnessy from Ireland has been perhaps the biggest mover in the market since the final running order was announced, and while an eighth Irish victory seems highly unlikely, odds of 3.1 (BetStars) are available for “Together” to suck up the ballad vote tonight and sneak into the top 4. The aforementioned fun-loving Moldovans are available at 9.0 (William Hill) if you believe Europe will fall for the charms of their Carry On Up The Chișinău performance, or you could take a punt on Waylon from the Netherlands to repeat his high-scoring antics from 2014 as part of the Common Linnets – odds of 29.0 (BetStars) say he’ll reach the top 4 tonight.

The top 10 market is an interesting one, not least because the number of points needed to reach that particular mark on the scoreboard can vary wildly – just remember 2015, when Bojana from Serbia grabbed a top 10 spot despite scoring very little outside her obvious target audience. So where’s the value here? If you think returning hero Alexander Rybak from Norway has enough residual love among Europe’s televoters to at least hit the upper reaches of the scoreboard, you can currently get 1.8 (BetVictor) for him to achieve a top 10 finish. Ukraine have been given the opening spot in the contest, and they have a bit of recent form in that respect, finishing 6th from the same position in 2014. If you think Melovin can repeat history to a sufficient extent to make the top 10 tonight, odds of as long as 4.0 (Boylesports) are available. And speaking of repeating history, Australia have never failed to reach the top 10 on their three contest appearances to date. Following some shaky rehearsals, Jessica Mauboy is surprisingly far out to make it four out of four for the Aussies – you can back her at 2.1 (Bet365 and others).

Rybak: Still pulling in the crowds

There are several group bets available for the grand final, too. Bulgaria are the clear favourites in the Top Balkan market (1.4 at Betway is the best you’ll get for them); if I say the nearest challenger is Albania (8.0, Bet365), that gives you some indication of how uncompetitive the market is. Top Scandinavian country is a far more interesting proposition: if you think frontrunner Sweden is overrated, you could punt on Norway at 3.5 (Betway), or you could plump for Saara Aalto from Finland to leave all the boys behind and take the Nordic crown – odds of 9.0 are available at various sites for that outcome. There’s also a non-regional group market for the Top Big 5 country, too. No one is inside 2.0 here, with France leading the way at 2.2 (Betfred). Given their excellent starting position and the potential for the other “big” countries to flop, you could do worse than bet a few currency units on Italy, which you can grab for odds as long as 7.0 (Betfair Sportsbook).

A few sites are also offering head-to-heads or match-ups. The advantage here is it doesn’t matter where your pick finishes on the final scoreboard in absolute terms, just as long as it finishes higher the other country in the bet. For example, if you feel Eleni has been overrated by the fan hype, you can get 2.62 for Israel to beat Cyprus tonight. You may think the Bulgarian team have put in enough groundwork to finish ahead of Mikolas from the Czech Republic – 2.00 is available for that outcome. Alternatively, if you believe AWS’s screamo schlager will prove more popular than the fun but dated DoReDos offering, odds of 3.0 are available for Hungary to beat Moldova. All of these (and more) can be found on Bet365, but several other sites are offering similar markets, so do check them out.

There’s also an interesting little market at Betfair Exchange for the lowest score, i.e. how many points will be scored by tonight’s last-placer. The options are under 10 points (currently 1.62), 10-15 points (2.44) or over 15 points (1.76). The latter could be worth a punt if you believe this year really is as all over the place as it looks.

Stormy times ahead?

And last of all (appropriately enough), there’s the small matter of who will occupy that last place on the scoreboard. The “big 5 + host” automatic qualifiers are always at risk of taking home the wooden spoon, as they haven’t been subjected to quality control in the same way as the qualifying semi-finalists. As such, it’s no surprise to see the United Kingdom leading the way in this market at 3.0 (Betfred and others). If you think SuRie’s vocal strength and natural charm will persuade enough people (especially jurors) to at least lift the UK to Joe & Jake levels of mediocrity, you might want to consider the host country Portugal (13.0, Paddy Power) or even the Spanish lovebirds Amaia and Alfred with their early slot in the running order (15.0, Boylesports). If a semi-final qualifier does fall through the cracks and end up at the bottom of the pile, meanwhile, it could be Slovenia – they almost did exactly that in 2014, after all, and Lea Sirk shares the Spanish fate of an unfortunately early place in the running order. Odds of 5.50 (Ladbrokes) say that Ljubljana will be the destination of the 2018 wooden spoon.

As always, you can see an overview of the odds in most of the available markets at Oddschecker. Wherever you place your money and however you watch the show tonight, I hope you have a wonderful and profitable evening. May the best song win – and your best bets, too!

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

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 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

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The running order for the grand final (and what it tells us)

The running order for the grand final (and what it tells us)

In the early hours of the morning, the producers announced the running order for the grand final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, which is as follows:

1. Ukraine
2. Spain
3. Slovenia
4. Lithuania
5. Austria
6. Estonia
7. Norway
8. Portugal
9. United Kingdom
10. Serbia
11. Germany
12. Albania
13. France
14. Czech Republic
15. Denmark
16. Australia
17. Finland
18. Bulgaria
19. Moldova
20. Sweden
21. Hungary
22. Israel
23. Netherlands
24. Ireland
25. Cyprus
26. Italy

So what can we glean from the running order? Despite claims to the contrary, it’s popularly assumed that the producers have some idea of how the semi-final qualifiers did in their respective shows. That would certainly seem to be reflected in the relatively late positions of the likes of Cyprus, Israel and Sweden – not to mention Moldova, which probably outperformed in the weaker semi-final and reaps the rewards by being nicely framed here.

Of course, any such assumptions are complicated by the presence of the automatic qualifiers. It’s surprising to see Spain thrown away quite so early in the draw, not least because you’d think they’d want to keep those passionate OT fans hanging on a bit longer, although this way I suppose there’s a better chance they’ll stick around and watch the whole show! Italy is quite a logical closer in terms of its “feel”, while we have to assume the producers think Germany and France are likely to do fairly well, as it’s hard to believe Serbia and Albania did much in the semi-final and that would otherwise be a fairly weak stretch of the show.

What this draw doesn’t do especially is reflect the betting odds – Lithuania were trading as fourth or fifth favourite for a while yesterday, but they find themselves marooned in a fairly thankless fourth spot in the Saturday night running order, while Norway had already drifted from second in the overall betting by the time the order was determined, but it’s notable that the producers haven’t seen fit to put Alexander Rybak right at the end of the first half.

If the producers’ task is also to ensure a good balance of styles, that was made more difficult by the fact that a lot of the slower songs ended up in the first half and a lot of the faster or more unusual entries are in the second half. The run from Lithuania to Estonia could be quite heavy going, while it’s perhaps surprising to see Australia and Finland back to back (albeit separated by a commercial break), though you’re inevitably going to get two up-tempos bumping into each other at some point in that bit of the draw.

Speaking of up-tempo, Latvia’s uphill task in the second semi-final was made even harder by having to follow the pyro overload of Hungary‘s AWS. The final big surprise from the producers, then, is that “Viszlát nyár” will precede Israel‘s “Toy” in the grand final. That promises to be six minutes of very loud, very in-your-face, very un-Eurovision television. It remains to be seen whether the Hungarian pyro damages the next song just like it damaged poor Laura Rizzotto. But they wouldn’t do that to Netta. Or would they…?

 

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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

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Semi 2: The ten qualifiers and their final halves!

Semi 2: The ten qualifiers and their final halves!

The second semi-final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is over, and we have our next ten qualifiers for the grand final on Saturday night! At the post-show press conference, the lucky artists also found out whether they will perform in the first or second half of the final.

The ten qualifiers and their final halves are as follows:

  • Serbia: 1st half
  • Moldova: 2nd half
  • Hungary: 2nd half
  • Ukraine: 1st half
  • Sweden: 2nd half
  • Australia: 2nd half
  • Norway: 1st half
  • Denmark: 2nd half
  • Slovenia: 1st half
  • Netherlands: 2nd half

Tonight we also had six qualifiers from the first half of a semi-final – another supposed jinx is broken! Good luck to everyone in the grand final!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!
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Visit our Eurovision Chat!
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Gallery: The host city Lisbon

We’ve been out and about in Lisbon, surely one of the most picturesque and personality-filled Eurovision host cities. Enjoy some of our photo highlights in this gallery!

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

#OnThisDay 1967: Britain enlisted the help of Sandie Shaw and a phalanx of song-smiths, in an attempt to successfully export pop to Europe.

Right then. Let's see if we need to roll this one out again by the end of the night... #OT18GalaEurovision

Dear #Eurovision internet, you will be SHOCKED to learn that our #DestinationEurovision favorite tonight was Seemone, with an average score of 7.63 out of 10.

She pretty much destroyed all opposition. But can she destroy Bilal in the final? 🤔

Our chat's main takeaway from #ADal2019 so far is that Freddie is wearing too many clothes. Also there have been songs.

Load more tweets...