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The View from San Francisco: Goodbye to Yesterday

The View from San Francisco: Goodbye to Yesterday

Calm After the Storm
Eurovision seems to have its own rules when it comes to the time and space continuum. The national final season takes forever to arrive and then speeds up and slows down in illogical ways. The gap between that and rehearsals is somehow even longer even though it is shorter on the calendar. The ESC weeks themselves are super quick, and feel like a million years at the same time. And then it’s just a couple of weeks later and I can’t even trust my memories because the whole thing feels like it was so far away.

Geographically speaking, I suppose it is. I got back to San Francisco last weekend, having first had the opportunity to step away from the madness for a little bit. The unexpected advantage of going home for Eurovision is having the time to spend with family, be an aunt, smell the roses and stare into the Mediterranean sunset I always miss so much, even though I have a pretty good collection of sunsets here over the Pacific Ocean.

But once I got back, it all felt so far away that I ended up re-watching the competition and collecting notes on all the thoughts running through my head as I look back on ESC 2019 and my personal experiences. And luckily for me, I happen to have a blog at my disposal where I can share those thoughts and experiences, and an off-season with little else going on. What else would I do but spill out the contents of my brain for you unsuspecting readers?

So here it is: the first of my wrap-up posts from the other side of the pond.

Is it Right or Is it Wrong?
One of the biggest challenges when blogging Eurovision rehearsals is knowing you’re not a prophet. No matter how objective you try to be, you’re just one person with one person’s opinions. It’s easy to own the things you get right – and don’t worry, I will. But it feels more appropriate to start off owning the things I was wrong about. Mea culpa and all that.

So what do we have here? I thought Malta would do better, based both on the early rehearsals in which it seemed like they’d get it right when the time came and just the strength of the song. And even when the rehearsals took a more worrying turn and Malta drew first half and were selected to open the final, with so many strong songs much later in the running order, I didn’t think “Chameleon” would be ignored by the televoters so much.

I had Hungary not only as qualifier, but also as a country that could do well in the final – you know, an ethno ballad in a year with very little in that niche. Here I definitely suffered the press center syndrome of watching rehearsals so many times it was hard to see how things had gotten gradually worse until it was too late. And while I never had Armenia above the bottom third in the final, I did have it as a qualifier, assuming that the modern but more complex song and Srbuk’s fantastic vocals would help her a lot with the juries and that, combined with Armenia’s televote base, that should be enough for “Walking Out” to make it through. However, her performance was so alienating it wasn’t even close.

On the other hand, there were three qualifications I didn’t see coming during rehearsals: Albania, which is even more ironic considering Jonida was great vocally in every rehearsal but terrible in both the jury semi and the live broadcast, and still qualified. Belarus looked so messy throughout that I just couldn’t see it working, but one of the things about seeing the first rehearsals as separate units is it’s harder for you to realize how certain songs will come across in the running order, and doubly so in the sea of crazy that was the first semi.

And then there was Slovenia. I never disliked “Sebi”, but I always found the two performers so painfully boring, and it was actually rather torturous sitting through their rehearsals despite their song always being pleasant background music. I couldn’t see them getting anywhere with their zero lack of effort, but as Ola Melzig wrote in his blog: “Slovenia did pretty much not a thing, but the song was strong enough to carry them through anyway.” In the final they mostly got points from their neighbors, friends and a few Eastern countries, but in a year like this 59 points were enough for 11th place in the televote (last year, France got 59 points in the televote and finished 17th), so apparently they chose the right year to get away with boring.

We’re flying the flag for you

What for? Only Mr God Knows
Every year when rehearsals start, we remind each other that they’re there precisely for trying things out until it comes together. But while this is generally true, each delegation has its own story arc. And while most countries start at different points, move forward at different paces but ultimately more or less catch up in time for the live shows, it’s not always true.

When you don’t watch the rehearsals, it’s hard to get a sense of which delegations actually had a reverse process. One in which they actually were where they should have been – and then made adjustments that dragged their performance backwards instead of enhancing it. In Hungary’s case, it didn’t hit me until I watched it on the night of the semi and was struck by the difference between how pale it came across compared with how impactful the first rehearsals had been. Then I had the difficult task of looking back at what my brain did and didn’t record, and figuring out what had happened along the way.

Some things were easy to spot: Despite being an experienced professional who has been in Eurovision before, Joci’s pacing throughout rehearsals was wrong, and by the live show he looked and sounded tired and more detached than he normally is – which is one of his biggest selling points.

The other thing that occurred to me is a tricky one we discuss every year. When we feel like an entry has been made worse by some relatively small change – whether a staging choice during the rehearsals or a three-minute Eurovision edit that removes a good part of the song – how do we know whether what’s missing will really be noticed by someone who never knew it was there in the first place? And conversely, are there details that are small enough for you not to realize right away that they have been changed, and yet big enough to actually make a difference? Looking back at Hungary and what made it work for me in its first rehearsals, it turns out the answer is yes.

The camerawork in Joci’s first rehearsals had certain things that really captured my attention. It was complicated but very immersive, using some specific and unique angles that helped the stage tell a story which matched the progress of the song. When re-watching the actual performance, I realized none of those shots were there. Thinking back through the rehearsal process, I realized that, in every run-through, they downgraded their camera shots to things that were less complicated but also less impressive. Perhaps they felt some of those shots were too difficult or risky to get right, I don’t know. In any case, by doing so, they added distance between the performance and the viewer. Throw in Joci’s deflated energy levels and the difference was staggering and, as it turned out, fatal to the song’s changes.

With Austria, it was just one thing that was changed. One detail. Most of Pænda’s run-throughs were in black and white, only changing to color late in the performance. In one of the early run-throughs, though, they tried it in full color a couple of times. I’m really curious to know what made them pick the latter version, because it was obvious to me and the people I watched the rehearsals with that the color version just didn’t work as well. The largely monochrome version had some magic in it that the color version didn’t have, and it transported you into the isolated world of the song much more. And again, much like Joci, when you marry that visual downgrade with an uncomfortable performance – another singer who peaked too early and just couldn’t carry the song on the night the way she had in early run-throughs, where she was so good it really felt like it’d be impossible to ignore her – then the end result was that “Limits” simply crumbled into the depths of the incredibly competitive second semi-final. But for all the disappointment of knowing how it could have been and what it ended up not being, I’m glad I got to see the rehearsals – because even though I was never a fan of the song, it did give me a few surprising run-throughs of magical perfection to enjoy.

We can make a change, that’s what we should

While I don’t necessarily understand the choices those delegations made, I can at least respect that they made a judgment call and went with it. It can get much worse than that. Just ask Malta.

They started off with a great song and a delightful concept coupled with an inexperienced young performer – and then they could not make their bloody minds up.

I was really impressed with their first day of run-throughs. They obviously had a complicated staging and a lot still to get right, but the leaps of improvement between takes were so big that not only did things look great by the end, but Michela was even managing to relax and really enjoy herself, which made such a big difference. I had no doubt in my mind that just a few more rehearsals would turn “Chameleon” into something polished and colorfully brilliant on stage.

And then came the second rehearsal day. Evidently, the delegation had spent a lot of the intervening time obsessing about the way the projections were working – or not working – so they decided to remove the props completely and just use the massive LED backdrop. Without the prop, Michela had to get used to a considerably changed choreography, only to have this decision reversed by the time of the dress rehearsals. That would still have been tolerable if they had settled on one version, but no: even then, they had to keep tweaking and adjusting so that every dress rehearsal brought new angles, new effects, changes in the sequences of camera shots and backdrops and different pacing of the backdrop changes. This, in turn, also meant changes in positioning and choreography each time to make sure the performance got captured well on camera. It was Malta that made me roll my eyes at the complaints of a few other delegations about their requests being ignored: the production did so much to accommodate the constant changes to “Chameleon” even really late in the game, so I can only imagine that the requests they turned down were things that just weren’t doable for whatever reason.

But back to the Maltese delegation. The result of their constant tinkering was that the team on stage never got the chance to really feel relaxed and comfortable in what they were doing. Everyone was put under more pressure than necessary. Michela’s overwhelmed emotional reaction when she qualified? That wasn’t just because she was the last to be called. And in perhaps the biggest injustice in this year’s competition, her own delegation kept doing the same thing between rehearsals, all the way to the grand final. This process of constant change would have been hard enough for the most experienced of performers to deal with, let alone a young girl straight out of a talent show. When you come to learn your lessons from this year, PBS, I hope you realize it was you who let her down and not the other way around.

Where do we go now? To the sky

When Spirits are Calling My Name
I had an up-and-down relationship with Norway this season. I loved “Spirit In The Sky” when it was in the national final, and yes, I knew it was unoriginal bordering on trashy, but hey, who cares? We all need guilty pleasures in our lives, and this was catchy and the trio were oh-so-likable, so why the hell not. As more songs got picked, though, it slipped down my rankings and I wasn’t thinking much of it by the time rehearsals arrived. Not even during rehearsals, to be honest, because the performance felt a bit too empty and perhaps taking itself a bit too seriously for the kind of song it was, in what I assumed was a Hail Mary attempt to improve its standing with the juries.

I was therefore taken by surprise when I met up with my sister and brother-in-law – two people I adore and who have completely different musical tastes – after they had attended the Thursday afternoon dress rehearsal. Their unequivocal favorite? Norway. Even in the hall, where they couldn’t see the smiles and joy that came through the TV screen later that night.

While I was always certain it’d do really well with the televote and really badly with the juries – yeah, not a hard one to call, I know – I think it’s fair to say most of us were shocked to realize that Norway had actually won the public vote. In retrospect, I suppose if someone as unlikable as Rasmussen managed to finish where he did with the audience, it’s not that crazy to see a Nordic folklore-inspired Eurovision cliché performed by visibly lovely people doing much, much better.

Do you hear that joiking? That’s Jon Henrik Fjällgren working on his next Melodifestivalen entry. KEiiNO asked for a hero. Ask and you shall receive. It’s either that or Charlotte P. Pick your poison.

All Out of Luck
There are plenty of ways to be unlucky in Eurovision. You can be perfectly nice, like Ireland this year, but be placed in a position in the running order where it’s clearly going to be even harder for your already unmemorable song to be remembered. Or you can be Poland and miss out on qualification by two points because one juror couldn’t follow voting instructions correctly. I would have added Lithuania to the unlucky list too, since they missed the final by just one point, but they were lucky to have enough friends to be in the running for qualification in the first place so they don’t count.

Or you can be Spain. You can pick a super fun party song with a lovely, charismatic performer, be drawn in the second half, be given the pimp slot right at the end of the show, hire one of the most famous Eurovision stage directors and pay him shitloads of money – only for said director to inflict an overly complicated and busy staging on your performance, which will come at the end of a playlist packed with up-tempo songs executed far better, meaning all the viewers will have pretty much picked their favourite by the time they even reach you. Imagine what this song could have done in a year like 2015.

Too much, too much, too much I say

So Lucky
If there are all kinds of ways to be unlucky in Eurovision, there are ways of being very lucky too. Take Duncan Laurence, for all his singing about losing games. Because here’s the thing. The Netherlands did lose. They lost the jury vote. They lost the televote. They actually lost most of the individual country votes with both the juries and the public.

Looking at the four winners since the new voting presentation was introduced, Salvador in 2017 was the most popular across the board – making it into the top three of 31 jury votes and 30 televotes, and of course winning the overall televote and jury vote with ease. The other three years saw the juries and televote disagree when it came to the overall winner. None of the songs in question won the jury vote, and only Netta in 2018 actually won the televote.

But here’s the difference: while all three had similar success with the juries – Jamala was in the top three of 15 different juries in 2016, while Netta and Duncan made it to the top three of 13 juries – the televote was a different story. Ukraine 2016 and Israel 2018 finished in the top three in the televote of 22 and 23 countries respectively. The Netherlands? Twelve. Not even one-third of the participating countries had the Netherlands in their televote top three, which means that more than two-thirds of the participating countries had at least three songs they preferred over the Netherlands.

When you play the game of math, you either win or, well, you don’t. It was an odd side-effect of this being a strong ESC year: everyone had lots to vote for, but some of the big hitters only worked in certain parts of Europe. Russia, unsurprisingly, pretty much swept the eastern side of the continent, while Norway hogged many of the western points and Italy ate into the difference. All three had more countries place them in the televote top three than the Netherlands managed – Russia in 19 countries, Italy in 14 and Norway in 21.

But to win Eurovision, you need to do well enough across the board. We always say this, but it was never truer than in 2019. We’ve never had a winner as far from being anyone’s favorite than the Netherlands this year, but it was liked well enough by everyone, while Europe couldn’t make up its mind about what it liked more.

Turns out there’s a right way to play a losing game.

Bien plus rouge que le sang et plus dur que la pierre

No Dream Impossible
One of my favorite things to look for when I re-watch Eurovision every year is the small moments that you tend to miss on the night, because the winner celebration in the middle of the screen understandably takes all the focus.

I’ve watched the winner announcement and reprise about seven times now, and each time has had me pretty much as emotional as Duncan all the way through. But it was when I re-watched the entire voting segment, and not just the last minutes, that I noticed another thing happening while the Dutch were deservedly celebrating in the green room. As the final ranking list appeared on screen, you could see, blurred into the background, a celebratory hug of a group of people clad in red. It was the Swiss delegation. Rather than being disappointed at having been considered among the favorites but not making it into the top three, they were celebrating the fact they had just brought Switzerland its best placing in 26 years. Think about it this way: Luca was born a year and a half after Annie Cotton’s third-place finish in 1993, so what he achieved by finishing fourth was nothing less than his country’s best position in his entire life.

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

All images from eurovision.tv. Stay tuned for the next instalment of the View from San Francisco!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

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The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

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Here’s another fine mess EBU’ve gotten us into…

Here’s another fine mess EBU’ve gotten us into…

As the EU elections begin around the continent, the European Broadcasting Union last night provided some voting drama of its own with the announcement – as already suspected by many fans – that the substitute jury result it calculated for Belarus in the grand final was completely wrong and has been revised. The result: Changes to the final scoreboard, with Sweden replacing Norway in the top five, and North Macedonia denied its rightful moment in the spotlight as the jury winner.

We have questions.

  • How come this was allowed to happen in the first place, considering it was screamingly obvious to everyone watching on Saturday night that something weird was going on when the Belarusian votes went almost exclusively to countries at the bottom end of the scoreboard?
  • At the very least, did the fact that Belarus’s 12 points went to a country that otherwise received no points from any other jury not raise any alerts, given that the entire point of the aggregated vote is that it reflects how other countries voted?
  • What’s the point of the juries voting 24 hours before the public, on a completely different set of performances, if that time isn’t used to verify their results correctly?
  • Is the idea of devising an artificial aggregated result to replace a disqualified jury really the best one anyway? Surely it’d be possible to either find a new set of people in Belarus to vote in the final, or to simply use an alternative jury – a representative sample from various parts of the continent, people from a non-participating country, former Eurovision winners, whatever. Anything seems preferable to adding points to the scoreboard that are literally made up.
  • Since we now also know that multiple jurors messed up their individual rankings by putting their favourite song in last place and vice versa – and not for the first time – isn’t it time the EBU and Digame introduced more checks and balances, from on-site scrutineers to manual confirmations when the results are submitted by each country? How hard is it to get this right?
  • How will this affect the betting markets? At time of writing, Betfair are digging in their heels when it comes to paying out on the revised results – which is understandable since, in theory, it also requires them to demand money back from those who won it e.g. on Norway finishing in the top five. However, the argument they’re using is that, under their terms and conditions, more than 72 hours have passed since the original result so the affected markets can’t be resettled. Since we all knew there was something fishy about the Belarusian jury result the instant it was announced, how come it’s taken the EBU so long to fess up?
  • And perhaps most concerningly of all… what if this happens again, but next time the identity of the winner changes?

What a mess. It’s not quite enough to ruin the aftertaste of a fun and dramatic Eurovision grand final, but for the sake of the contest’s integrity, it really needs to be something that is never repeated.

 

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

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Visit our Eurovision Chat!

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The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

Load more tweets...

After 44 years, the Netherlands win Eurovision!

After 44 years, the Netherlands win Eurovision!

The winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest is “Arcade” by Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands – ending a 44-year wait for the country dating back to Teach-In and “Ding-A-Dong” in 1975.

In an incredibly exciting results presentation, Sweden won the jury vote narrowly ahead of surprise package North Macedonia, while Norway was the clear winner in the televote – a disparity that opened the door for the Netherlands to take a consensus overall victory.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more analysis and insight from inside and outside the Tel Aviv bubble, but until then, congratulations to the Netherlands! Here’s your ESC 2019 winner one more time:

Title image and video from eurovision.tv

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

Load more tweets...

Who will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2019? Our prediction for the final

Who will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2019? Our prediction for the final

Happy Eurovision Day! Tonight the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel.

We are slowly reaching the climax of another long season. We’ve seen favourites rise, then watched as some of them fell – and now it’s just a few short hours until we will know the host country of ESC 2020.

Over the last six months or so, we have encountered some classic national final entries that we are still remembering and voting for in our SongHunt final – don’t forget to vote for your favourite here! – but tonight it’s the successful entries from 26 countries that will finally compete for the Eurovision crown. And we all wonder: Who will hold the trophy at the end of the show?

It’s time for our team’s predictions!

The format is simple: Each of the escgo! team members (Martin, Felix and Shi) has 100 points to distribute across the entries depending on how likely they consider them to be tonight’s winner.

And here’s what they think:

Country Martin Felix Shi TEAM POINTS VICTORY CHANCE in %
1. Malta 0 0 0 0 0%
2. Albania 0 0 0 0 0%
3. Czech Republic 0 5 0 5 1.67%
4. Germany 0 0 0 0 0%
5. Russia 0 5 0 5 1.67%
6. Denmark 0 0 0 0 0%
7. San Marino 0 0 0 0 0%
8. North Macedonia 0 5 0 5 1.67%
9. Sweden 5 5 10 20 6.67%
10. Slovenia 0 5 0 5 1.67%
11. Cyprus 0 0 0 0 0%
12. Netherlands 45 15 40 100 33.3%
13. Greece 0 5 0 5 1.67%
14. Israel 0 0 0 0 0%
15. Norway 0 20 0 20 6.67%
16. United Kingdom 0 0 0 0 0%
17. Iceland 0 0 0 0 0%
18. Estonia 0 0 0 0 0%
19. Belarus 0 0 0 0 0%
20. Azerbaijan 0 0 5 5 1.67%
21. France 0 0 5 5 1.67%
22. Italy 0 25 0 25 8.33%
23. Serbia 0 0 0 0 0%
24. Switzerland 10 5 15 30 10%
25. Australia 40 5 25 70 23.3%
26. Spain 0 0 0 0 0%

So what do we expect? Here’s how the team explains their choices:

Shi:
With both juries and televote having many options this year, this could be a jury/tele disagreement or a Jamala-type win.
Netherlands is one of my personal favorites, but I’m still not convinced by the performance where the televote is concerned. However, it stands out also for its genre among the favorites which could help and a “Heroes” sort of win seems to me like the most likely result. Australia looks set to have a big televote impact, so it should be considered as an alternative if its televote score is big enough, and Switzerland can be the one that wins neither but ends up high in both votes.

Felix:
I have had an increasingly strong feeling for Italy throughout the last weeks, and our own chat agrees, as Italy won the ChatVote 2019. I don‘t expect Australia to end up as high as many people think. Instead, Norway might be the surprise of the night. A victory for the Netherlands wouldn‘t be a big surprise, but I can just as well see it around lower top ten only. All in all, I expect a close race in which many things can happen.

Martin:
I appear to broadly agree with Shi, albeit with different weightings. I can easily imagine the Netherlands winning the jury vote and Australia the televote, with Duncan taking the victory in the end because the juries turn their noses up at popera-on-sticks. In terms of the other contenders, I haven’t especially believed in Switzerland all season long, but it was pretty effective in the semi-final and the running order appears to have cemented its “Fuego”-esque late-stage momentum as far as the producers are concerned. It still doesn’t feel like it can actually win (although ESC 2020 in Switzerland would be a fairly amazing turnaround in fortunes) but it’d be foolish of me not to have Luca somewhere in my prediction. And then there’s the obligatory “might just win by default” entry from Sweden, like always.

What do you think will happen tonight? Do you agree or disagree with our views? Let us know in the comments, on social media or in our chat. However you watch the show tonight, we hope you have a great Eurovision day, and may the best song win!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

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Better love: Some of the bets to look out for at Eurovision 2019!

Better love: Some of the bets to look out for at Eurovision 2019!

Just because tonight’s Eurovision final is a foregone conclusion and the Netherlands are going to win with a gazillion points (depending on who you believe), that doesn’t mean there aren’t some decent bets to be had in the various markets that always spring up around the contest. As usual, we’ve sifted through the pages of Oddschecker and the different betting sites to find a few punts that might be of interest.

Of course, if you don’t think Duncan Laurence is the winner tonight, his short odds mean there are more generous prices to be found for the other contenders – 8.5 for Australia (Unibet), 11.0 for Switzerland (Sportingbet), and so on. Those odds for Luca already make an each-way bet an interesting proposition, but if you think he’s going to do well but doesn’t have a real chance of winning, you might want to back him in the “Top 4” market instead (e.g. 2.1 at Sportingbet).

Alternatively, if you don’t like the unpredictability of the juries but you think you’ve got a handle on what televoters like, you could back Australia to win the televote (4.4 at Betfair), regardless of whether the juries go for “Zero Gravity” or not. That seems a plausible outcome given the running order and the chance that there’ll be a discrepancy between the public vote and the “expert” vote tonight.

At the other end of the scoreboard, you’ll struggle to get odds much longer than evens for Germany to finish in last place2.5 at Unibet is about as good as it gets. The other main candidates are seen as being San Marino (7.0 at Coral) and the UK (7.0 at Paddy Power), though the likes of Israel (15.0 at Sportingbet), Slovenia (21.0 at Sportingbet) and Belarus (34.0 at Unibet) have their appeal too. But you’ll feel a bit daft if it ends up being S!sters after all. You could, of course, just bet against the German girls in a head-to-head – for example, 1.62 (Skybet) says the UK will finish higher than Germany, while 3.0 (Bet365) is available if you think Germany will actually win that particular fight.

A screamingly obvious top five finish? (photo: eurovision.tv)

The position markets are generally interesting: Early-season favourite Russia has drifted all the way to 40+ in the winner market but, with friendly votes on his side, could still be worth a sniff in the “Top 5” market (2.0 at Unibet, so you’d double your money). Indeed, even if you buy into the narrative that it’s a Netherlands/Switzerland/Australia/Sweden carve-up for the top spots, someone else has to round off the top five. Azerbaijan at 2.28 and Italy at 2.74 are seen as next in line according to Betfair, but there’s good money to be made if you think you’ve spotted this year’s Michael Schulte equivalent among the supposed also-rans.

Similarly, the “Top 10” market allows for a bit of a punt. If the top few songs suck up a lot of the votes (think 2015, or even 2017 to an extent), that can open the door to a top ten finish without needing too many points. A strong jury vote could get Malta there despite them opening the show (3.75 on Unibet), while a strong televote from Spain in the pimp slot could do the same (4.33 on Bet365). Or you could go for longer odds – like Estonia, which might come across as a blessed slice of normality among all the craziness tonight. You can currently get 14.0 (Betfair) for Victor Crone to sneak into the top ten.

Group bets are a good option for betting on a relative outcome without having to decide where you think the country in question will land on the scoreboard. For example, even at short odds of 1.57 (Paddy Power), Sweden looks like value in the “Top Nordic” market – as even a hefty televote score for Iceland or Norway should be insufficient to outweigh the expected jury love for John Lundvik. The “Top Balkan” market (which includes Greece) is a more interesting proposition: Katerine Duska has the shortest odds there, but Nevena from Serbia could be similarly jury-friendly, plus she has a peach of a draw and some friendly televotes in the bag already – making odds of 6.0 (Bet365) for Serbia to top that category seem tempting.

Top Big Five” is also interesting in light of the Bilal hype that has spread through the press centre during rehearsal week and the corresponding despair over the Italian styling choices. This is where laying on Betfair can come in handy: If, for example, you’re sceptical about Mahmood’s chances but you’re not sure whether France or Spain will be the main beneficiary, you can simply lay Italy (currently 1.76) and you’ll win your money as long as Italy isn’t the top scorer among the five automatic qualifiers, regardless of who else is.

Comment dire “hype” en français?

And the available bets just keep on getting more niche. For example, Bet365 have numerous markets dedicated to the number of 12-point awards the juries will read out tonight. They’ll give you odds of 1.83 if you think Australia will score douze more than 3.5 times (i.e. 4 times or more), which feels like a good deal unless you buy into that Netherlands whitewash. Meanwhile, you can bet on the UK and Ireland televote 12s at Paddy Power – there’s odds of 7.0 to be had if you think the Brits will fall for Kate Miller-Heidke’s depression on stilts act, which seems quite plausible in the absence of the usual UK televote sponges like Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Ireland.

As always, our recommended guide to understanding the odds talked about above is the one by our much-missed friend and colleague Daniel at sofabet.com – we’ll be raising a glass to him tonight, and we hope you do too.

All odds correct at time of writing (1pm-ish on ESC day). They can and will change during the day, and indeed during the show itself, so keep your eyes peeled – and happy betting!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

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Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

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Jury Final: Live Blog from the Press Center

Jury Final: Live Blog from the Press Center

Welcome to the live blog of the Jury Final! This post will be updated every few minutes, so make sure to refresh for updates!

Fake voting sequence concludes with the Israeli fake vote which they use to test what to do in a case of a connection / voting table failure. This is followed by everyone basically blabbering through their lines because at this point no one gives a damn.

They are now facing the joy of trying to get through the televote segment, and I actually feel bad for the hosts having to deal with the new system for the first time because my God, this is too confusing.

It’s been a long night so it’s no wonder it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what I did to make the page not update, and I do web development for a living. While I was being an idiot, we got no mention of Madonna and instead skipped right into the fake voting segment in which everyone awkwardly talk to one another to make sure the connections with all the spokespeople work.

Netta’s new single isn’t really my thing – and I’m not entirely sure why we need both this and Madonna when it’s not really great and we’ve seen Netta many times, and we’re almost 3 hours into the show (and before Madonna) so how they think they can fit this into the time slot, I don’t know. I do wonder what process host broadcaster and EBU have in place for the show itself, because you’d think the EBU will have to clear that (as Madonna’s performance and broadcasting rights was coordinated with EBU).

The Mentalist returns to fill in during another ad break. I wish we had an ad break too.

The next interval act is one of Israel’s most famous musicians, Idan Reichel, performing a new version of his first breakthrough hit, Bo’i (come) with a group of musicians representing the musical culture of many ethnic groups in Israel. On a personal level, it’s a song that means a lot to me and came out in an important time of my life, so this is very special for me.

Gal Gadot shows up in a 3-minute segment showing Tel Aviv, which I imagine is being used for ad breaks or BBC doing whatever it is they are doing when the rest of Europe sees that (or ads).

The first interval act is the promised Eurovision-artists-singing-other-artists’-songs and it showcases some interesting versions of well known songs, lots of epic crazy and a few minutes of me tearing up because even the cynical woman that I am can’t help it once in a while.”

Seems like the EBU decided there won’t be second run for Norway which serves a good reminder for what the juries vote for – songs and performance quality by the performers themselves. In the context of what the juries are expected to do, three seconds of a camera black out and shot from a different angle shouldn’t make a difference in how the juries perceive the song or their performance of it.
Spain: A million great runs of this, and Miki ended up dedicating this performance to Duncan by being flatter than the Netherlands. Ouch. There are some very upset fans over here right now.

Mini break Australia: Well, the audience and Kate had a very big shouting fight over who is louder. So basically: just like the semi final performance.

Switzerland: My main take away from this performance is that half the audience in the hall has a crush on Luca. It’s still a very cool and very red looking performance, and he kept his vocals in (relative) check.

Serbia: Focusing on what’s really important, they could never settle on exactly how they wanted the snow, fire and dust storm effects to look like, so they actually look different every time. Tonight’s combination was a new one which obstructed her from view slightly too much even though it was dramatic, so I imagine they’ll scrap that one. More importantly, though: her vocals were good, and she’s incredibly charismatic. I don’t think it works too well in that running order, though.

Italy: Delivering hardcore biting journalism straight from the press center, I can report that we’ve had a heated discussion about Mahmood’s questionable taste. Performance wise, though, it was the best I’ve seen from him, and it was helpful to see a bit of sadness instead of just anger, which made the emotional aspect of this resonate more than it did previously.

France: A strong performance from Bilal, with a bit of fragility getting into his voice at parts, which actually added a lot to this.

Azerbaijan: We had an unexpected opening when the heart decided to be projected at some of Chingiz’s other body parts instead. It made for an entertaining opening! Otherwise – the same as it always did and a cheeky smile at the end.

Belarus: Did we ever find out what her backdrop is supposed to represent? Other than that, a self-confident performance with only a few bits where it was a little too shouty, but nothing that would make a difference, really.

Estonia: Victor kept shouting the ending of his sentences at both me and the juries, usually offkey. He’s sympathetic enough to forgive some of that, but with so many strong songs still in the line up, I was hoping he’d make a more obvious effort to control that.

Iceland: Was pretty much the same as it always was, and actually works well coming after the break.

The next ad break is all about our returning artists!

United Kingdom: Nerves galore here with offkey start, lots of random runs flat parts that he didn’t have in rehearsals – which wasn’t really helped by the fact he’s not exactly charismatic. He wrapped up by going off and on the right key throughout the last part of the song. Not the performance the UK wanted to have tonight.

Norway: An obvious crowd favorite, luckily for everyone involved – as one of the cameras shortened its circuits during the performance, forcing the broadcast to switch to a different camera just to make sure there is a shot of it and causing an abrupt, even if short, of it.

Israel: A couple of dodgy notes for him with how loud the cheers were but overall strong performance of a, well, less strong song.

Another ad break so they can set up the Israeli prop.

Greece: Technology decided to eat up my Greece entry when I tried to update the page, but here I go again – it was one of their better performances overall in their two week rehearsal run, with Katerine making sure to hit her notes – albeit carefully – and the visuals feeling more cohesive than before.

Netherlands: Duncan’s vocals were as flawless as ever, and the performance is for the most part unchanged with the exception of the light ball creating a blinding effect during the peak of the song and making that moment a little bigger than it was before.

Cyprus: Much like in the jury semi, not the strongest of vocal performances, but enough for what it needed, as she came across as the pop star that she is. The hall appreciated the change of pace, too.

Slovenia: I slept 3 hours since yesterday morning and this is not helping. They were lucky to be in the semi they were in but this will have a much harder time here.

Sweden: You know that thing the human brain does where it sees what it expects to see? At this point John might have an alien invasion through the hair straightener that is actually the gateway from Mars and I’ll keep seeing the exact usual strong and charismatic performance from him. But my mind did catch some changed melody towards the end, so apparently it’s not entirely numb yet.

Ad Break in which we talk to Malta and hear subtle Grindr jokes.

North Macedonia: Speaking of contrasts – Tamara after Serhat. It’s almost like the production is telling her, well, we had you after the Netherlands in the semi, so let’s be really nice to you and put you after *this*.

San Marino: The things I do for love (of Eurovision). I really wanted to go the bathroom and normally I’d use this time to do so, but I sat here instead to report on his Serhat Vocals. Apparently his solution for attempting to not go offkey by going above it was going offkey below it about 3 seconds in and never finding the key – or any key – again.

Denmark: Leonora’s voice has definitely reached the overuse boundary, but she kept it together well and actually managed to come across as a bit more mellow than she often does.

Russia: Being 5th might sound like a bad position for Russia, but they do come in after Germany, so the contrast is very stark. The staging is as same as always, but Sergey has a different vocal melody towards the end, a special gift for the juries!

Germany: They are so nice I feel bad writing anything bad about them, but there’s really not much to write about there. They sing it really well, though, but there’s very little there to sustain attention.

Czech Republic: I’m not sure how effective this can be so early in the line up, but it does work well after Albania. I’m also a bit envious of Albert of being able to sustain the same level of energy in every single take they had done.

Albania: Having been great vocally through rehearsals, Jonida ended up being off in both the jury semi and the broadcast – moreso in the latter. She was sounded way better this time around, but ended up with an odd I-could-not-be-bothered-to-be-here-anymore stare. Oops.

Malta: They’ve had a busy few days adjusting and readjusting their performance, but Michela finally got a familiar enough routine which allowed her to be a bit more relaxed on stage, and that was reflected in her vocals as well. It’s a great opener.

Opening: Well, well. Oh My God. This is all sorts of bonkers and epic and fun, and I’m sure a lot of people will spoil you, but not me. Too good to ruin.

We continue with another quick montage of different hots opening the show over the years before our hosts do the usual “this is how things work” speech.

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

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ESC 2019: The semi 2 qualifiers and the final running order!

ESC 2019: The semi 2 qualifiers and the final running order!

The qualifiers from the second semi-final of ESC 2019 are Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Russia, Albania, the Netherlands and North Macedonia (all of whom drew slots in the first half of the final) and Switzerland, Norway and Azerbaijan (who landed in the second half).

In terms of the escgo! team’s predictions, this means Martin and Shi both got 8/10 correct, while Felix scored 6/10.

A few hours after the semi-final ended, the EBU revealed the producer-determined running order for the grand final, which looks like this:

1. Malta
2. Albania
3. Czech Republic
4. Germany
5. Russia
6. Denmark
7. San Marino
8. North Macedonia
9. Sweden
10. Slovenia
11. Cyprus
12. Netherlands
13. Greece
14. Israel
15. Norway
16. United Kingdom
17. Iceland
18. Estonia
19. Belarus
20. Azerbaijan
21. France
22. Italy
23. Serbia
24. Switzerland
25. Australia
26. Spain

We’ll have our first chance to see the songs in this running order at Friday afternoon’s first rehearsal of the grand final – stay tuned to escgo! here and on Twitter for Shi’s live insights from the press centre!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

Load more tweets...

ESC 2019: The escgo! predictions for tonight’s second semi-final

ESC 2019: The escgo! predictions for tonight’s second semi-final

The second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is just a few hours away, and so it’s time for us in the escgo! team to predict the ten qualifiers for the grand final on Saturday!

Two days ago, Martin got 8/10 right while Shi and Felix each managed 7/10. And let’s be honest, we were all caught off guard by Serhat. But where will we be right and wrong tonight?

You can see the choices of Shi, Martin and Felix in the table below – followed by a brief summary of their views!

Country Martin Felix Shi TEAM
1. Armenia
Q Q 66.7 %
2. Ireland
0 %
3. Moldova
Q 33.3 %
4. Switzerland
Q Q 66.7 %
5. Latvia
Q 33.3 %
6. Romania
0 %
7. Denmark
Q Q 66.7 %
8. Sweden
Q Q Q 100 %
9. Austria
Q Q 66.7 %
10. Croatia
Q Q 66.7 %
11. Malta
Q Q 66.7 %
12. Lithuania
0 %
13. Russia
Q Q Q 100 %
14. Albania
0 %
15. Norway
Q Q 66.7 %
16. Netherlands
Q Q Q 100 %
17. North Macedonia
Q Q 66.7 %
18. Azerbaijan
Q Q Q 100 %


Shi:
Much like semi 1 last year, I have more songs I would have wanted to see in the final than spots. While I feel fairly confident about most of my choices, I was still down to three choices for the last qualifier. Norway feels like it won’t do well with juries and the televise has enough to rank above it, Romania is, well, Romania. They can miss out as we know, but they need to try very hard to not be in contention, and Armenia, which is like Romania plus a possible strong jury appeal. I went with the jury getting this one in. Also: my main prediction for tonight is 10 points separating 6 and 14.

Martin:
The way Kate Miller-Heidke changed up her vocals in the last part of the song to make it more interesting; the creepy floating dead dad heads behind Joci Pápai that made the whole thing a bit “eww”; ZENA having an amazing personality on stage; Tulia not having any personality at all. What do these things have in common? I didn’t anticipate any of them because (I guess) I wasn’t paying enough attention in the run-up to semi 1. Still, rather than learn from this insight, I’m going to stick with my prejudices when it comes to semi 2. So I expect North Macedonia to fuck things up like they always do, and Croatia to milk the cheese vote like nobody’s business. Go on – prove me wrong.

Felix:
I made one daring decision, and that is leaving Switzerland out of my qualifiers, and having Latvia instead. Why would I have a strong song as NQ and a weak one as Q, you might wonder? Easy, I think that presentation and effective use of the stage is playing a big role, and Switzerland sadly does a whole lot of counterproductive things with the staging. Latvia sells their song much better. Well, for the Swiss and many German Luca Hänni fans, I certainly hope I’m wrong, as I’d love to see the guy in the final. The rest is obvious I think.

Will we be right or completely wrong? There’s only a few hours left until we find out – so whatever you’re doing and whomever you’re watching the show with, enjoy the evening and may the best songs qualify!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

Load more tweets...

The first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is just a few hours away, and so it’s time for us in the escgo! team to predict the ten qualifiers for the grand final on Saturday.

You can see the choices of Shi, Martin and Felix in the table below – followed by a brief summary of their views!

Country Martin Felix Shi TEAM
1. Cyprus
Q Q Q 100 %
2. Montenegro
0 %
3. Finland
0 %
4. Poland
Q Q Q 100 %
5. Slovenia
Q 33.3 %
6. Czech Republic
Q Q Q 100 %
7. Hungary
Q Q Q 100 %
8. Belarus
0 %
9. Serbia
Q Q Q 100 %
10. Belgium
0 %
11. Georgia
Q Q 66.7 %
12. Australia
Q Q Q 100 %
13. Iceland
Q Q Q 100 %
14. Estonia
Q Q Q 100 %
15. Portugal
0 %
16. Greece
Q Q Q 100 %
17. San Marino
 33.3 %


Shi:

I am the least certain about Estonia and Georgia: Victor isn’t a great singer and the song is painfully generic, but his charisma and the song’s sanity come in the right place and time in the draw. Georgia is my wishful thinking entry and my test case of how far can a great staging of a difficult song can take you. And all in all, it might be considered the weaker semi, but it is shaping us to at least bring a diverse selection of songs into the final. I can live with that.

Martin:

Wackiest semi-final ever? Well, the first one in 2012 gives it a run for its money – Valentina Monetta, Trackshittaz, Rambo Amadeus and the Babushki, anyone? – but the back-to-back combo of “Zero Gravity” and “Hatrið mun sigra”, even separated by a break, should be one of the more memorable sections we’ve had in an ESC show. As for qualification, I’m in that annoying position of having more qualifiers in the first half. We know that’s not impossible now, but it still seems highly improbable. And within that, I’m not especially confident about Poland or Slovenia (I’ve even bet against the latter to qualify, albeit it’s money I’d be delighted to lose). Still, I feel like it’s a strong year for Central Europe, so I’m sticking with my gut instinct.

Felix:

I thought this prediction was quite easy. It doesn’t really match my personal preferences, but I think this is what the wider audience and the juries will go for. I was a bit hesitating about Poland, and nearly would have picked Belgium instead, but the staging of the latter looks so wrong that it’s ruining the slightest chance for qualification. Australia is a sure qualifier for anything other than the song, Serbia knows how to sell dullness, and the Czech Republic is the first captivating song in the running order. These three feel like the safest predictions, the last place will probably go to Belarus.

Will we be right or completely wrong? There’s only a few hours left until we find out – so whatever you’re doing and whomever you’re watching the show with, enjoy the evening and may the best songs qualify!

Semi-Final 2, Jury Rehearsal: Live Blog from the Press Center

Semi-Final 2, Jury Rehearsal: Live Blog from the Press Center

Welcome to the live blog of semi 2’s jury rehearsal! This post will be updated every few minutes, so make sure to refresh for updates!

And we close with… well, actually, we close with Martin writing on Shi’s behalf as she had to make a mad run for a shuttle bus and has no internet access while doing so. Thanks for following her live blog of tonight’s 18 songs in the jury voting show!

Azerbaijan: As it often is with the more WTF stagings, watching audience seeing it for the first time is kinda fun! Vocally, this has been steadily good all the way through rehearsals, and it did the same today too.

North Macedonia: Another professional who went on stage and got the work done. Nothing left to say about this one, really.

Netherlands: Let me be clear about this. I love the song to bits. Duncan sings it amazingly every single time. And I have no way of knowing that this wouldn’t work beyond my own feeling that establishing a connection with the audience is important, even with a wonderful song, and that this doesn’t do it enough. In terms of camera work, it’s pretty much the same it has always been – 50 seconds to the first close up, and majority of long shots of dark blue. The lamp has made it, and it now comes down from the ceiling, participants in one shot and then goes back up into the ceiling. I know the song too well to have any sense of how this will work on people who don’t know the song at all. I hope it does work, because it’s a wonderful song, but I just personally feel they have made life harder for themselves than they should have, and that if it does manage to win it will be in spite of the staging, and not supported by it.

Norway: I tried to write that Fred sounded alright for a change, but my blog wouldn’t have any of it and just decided to delete it and paste Albania instead. Anyhow, I felt it didn’t work as well as I thought it would with the audience.

Albania: Oh, Albania. Not that you were every very close to qualifying from this semi, but this might not have been the best place to have your only off vocal performance, Jonida.

Russia: I like this song but I think I have hit my capacity watching this performance – it’s really not meant for anything beyond that first and second impression at Eurovision. It also sounds like Sergey has screamed a lot in the past week, and while he stayed in key the entire time he sounded like he was about to go off more than once. The crowd loved it, obviously.

Another break!

Lithuania: He came, he sang, he had a bunch of lights behind him, he left and is probably on his way to the hotel to prepare his suitcases for tomorrow.

I feel bad for him, because he’s lovely, but there’s just nothing for anyone to notice this tomorrow.

Malta: Hmm, so somehow the Maltese changed pretty much half of the camera angles and effects. This meant a few missed camera shots and Michela less comfortable than she should be for this because everyone had to remember all the different things they have changed in the last 2 hours, apparently, and it also meant Michela delivered one of her worst vocal performances, having to once again concentrate on so many technical details. Trust the Maltese overcomplicated something that was working in a really nice way to begin with.

Croatia: A great vocal performance to THAT song. There are also angels and golden wings and lots of lava and a lot of subtle representations of heaven and hell, and seriously I can’t really deal with this.

Austria: The greatest asset of this is the direct connection Paenda has with the viewers and how well she transmits the fragility of this. They have changed the staging from the black-and-white-to-color versions they used in earlier runthroughs to color all the way through, and I preferred the former, but it might be one of those “you won’t miss it if you never saw it” things. Her vocals were beautiful and raw in the right amount.

Sweden: John did his John thing where he just will not ever have a bad rehearsal, and the hair straightener stopped being a diva after its first rehearsal dramatics. Strong as expected.

Denmark: Much like the earlier rehearsal she still sounds like she’s battling her voice, but saving it in the first rehearsal allowed her to get the vocals right, and there was a very relieved smile there at the end.

Green room break!

Romania: Apparently Romania’s approach for last minute staging changes is that no amount of pyros is too little. Earlier in the hall it actually gave me a heart attack every single time. Otherwise: good vocal, and overall as it always was.

Latvia: I already came into terms with this not being noticed by anyone, juries included, but it sounded as lovely as it could, really, and I do maintain a slight hope it made a difference for some jurors.

By the way, for whatever reason there’s no opening act so we go straight into the songs. It’s kind of weird, mostly because I feel like the rest of Europe deserves to have an impressive opener as well. But I suppose at least this semi’s songs are stronger.

Switzerland: I don’t know if I just got used to his vocals or that they improved at this point, to be honest, but it sounded good and looked as good as it can be considering they spend much of this wearing red against a red backdrop.

Moldova: If you heard the press center clapping and shouting in any of the live streams, let me tell you that I have no idea what it was for. Clean performance for a song with little substance.

Ireland: There’s not much to write about this, really. Sarah is lovely and it was vocally fine but this song is hard to impress with, especially in the context of this semi.

Armenia: The presentation issues aside, Srbuk did what she needed to do for this rehearsal and nailed her vocals.

A look back at semi 1: As we still have a little bit of time to go before the beginning of the jury rehearsal, I found myself reflecting on last night’s first semi.

Oddly enough, more than anything, it reminded me of my years as a full time sportswriter: you’d follow a team or an athlete throughout a season or preparation period ahead of a big event, and still there were always so many unknowns. They would have a terrible run-up to their big game and somehow wake up on the day of the game and have the best day of their career. They would have an excellent string of friendly matches only to have a day in which nothing came together. They would peak too early. They would crumble under the pressure or they find reserves they didn’t know they had and thrive on it. They would have the luck of their rivals just being worse on that day.

Slovenia looked pretty much dead every time they performed. Not just in terms of chances, moreso that they never were entirely in it, and that made the staging that was supposed to bring their chemistry and connection across not work. There was no better day for them to get their best performance where everything clicked last night, and in addition they were helped by that semi going in flames around them.

Hungary had amazing first rehearsals – they actually had considerably different camerawork and some effects that have since been removed. With each rehearsal they took something away, to the point that I assumed that the fact I wasn’t entirely in awe when watching the staging was because I got used to it. Only last night I realized that they have been slowly changing what they had – perhaps they started doubting themselves – and by doing so they have not only taken a particular element that was a goosebump moment, they ruined the entire visual flow this performance had.

Belarus, well. Their stage is still a result of a person sitting in stage control and trying random buttons, but apparently sometimes being a talented pretty girl singing an easy-to-listen to song can take you far, especially in this semi.

Or being Victor Crone, for that matter.

Sometimes your best is not enough – although it should be said that last night wasn’t Oto’s strongest performances, but the combination of his jury rehearsal and this one were a big effort, but at the end of the day some things can only go so far, no matter how impressive their performance is.

The others, for the most part, kept doing exactly what they were doing until that point, and did everything they could do on the night. Which is all you can ask for, really.

Then there was Eliot, who was actually getting to the right place by the end of the runthroughs, but the inexperience and nerves caused a weak jury performance, and my guess is that knowing that put an extra pressure on him last night which he just couldn’t handle, causing everything to fall apart.

And turns out the only way to really fall apart and still qualify is being Serhat, but let’s not talk about that.

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

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Visit our Eurovision Chat!

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The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

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Semi 1: Here’s the ten qualifiers!

Semi 1: Here’s the ten qualifiers!

There were a few surprises along the way, but tonight Europe (and Australia) selected its ten qualifiers from the first semi-final of ESC 2019!

Here are the lucky ten and the halves of the final they drew at the press conference afterwards:

FIRST HALF
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Greece
San Marino
Slovenia

SECOND HALF
Australia
Belarus
Estonia
Iceland
Serbia

And for the record, in terms of the escgo! team’s predictions, Martin got 8/10, Felix got 7/10 and Shi got 7/10.

Now let’s see what the second semi-final brings!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

Visit our Eurovision Chat!

Join the Chat!

The View from Tel Aviv: I’m coming home

Home. It’s not just the name of the Israeli entry – it’s a state of mind. Having been in Israel for eleven days now, Shi takes stock on what the Eurovision-at-home experience has meant to her so far.

read more

Meet the twelve finalists in SongHunt 2019!

We’re proud to introduce the twelve national finalists that have battled through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals for their big chance at SongHunt glory. Read, watch, listen, and vote for your favourite!

read more

Five things to look out for as rehearsals begin

Rehearsals for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest begin on Saturday. But what in particular should the assembled fan media be watching out for as the 41 participating countries take to the stage for the first time? We take a closer look!

read more

The View from San Francisco: Another Summer Night

In the second part of her ESC 2019 review, Shi looks at the differing arcs of the returning artists, what made Duncan’s winning reprise so special – and the delegations that made things unnecessarily hard for themselves…

read more
 escgo! on Twitter

Our chatroom's favourites tonight were... Ana Soklič in Slovenia and Go-A in Ukraine. Are we getting mainstream in our old age?! 😯 #ema2020 #vidbir2020

Jakob Karlberg. Where Lake Malawi meets Lake Mälaren. #melfest
https://t.co/KA2UK1RQlt

Tone Damli 🇳🇴
KaYra 🇱🇹
Faith Kakembo 🇸🇪
Akuvi 🇳🇴
TOKIONINE 🇦🇲
Monika Marija 🇱🇹
Didrik & Emil 🇳🇴
Renate 🇪🇪
Kristin Husøy 🇳🇴
MEANDI 🇱🇹
Matti Matt 🇮🇸
Raylee 🇳🇴

What do these people have in common? They need YOUR votes in Heat 3 of SongHunt 2020! Vote now:

https://t.co/4lwhvBadG3

Load more tweets...