This is a strange year in my opinion, there’s no stand out song, it’s more a collection of generic up-tempo pop songs, yet we somehow have an odds-on favourite. In the outright market I backed Iceland at 101.0 (100/1), Belgium at 126.0 (125/1) and Malta at 28.0 (27/1). I’ve lost Iceland, still amazed that it didn’t qualify. Belgium are up first , which effectively means that bet’s a loser too. I am however still hopeful around Malta’s chances, they’re singing in slot 22, which is a positive. The negative around that is they’re performing after the intense tornado of sound that is the Ukrainian entry.
1944 by Jamala is about The forced deportation of the Crimean Tatars under the orders of Stalin, as collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. Over 200,000 people were deported, including the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population, as well as small numbers of ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians. Over 100,000 deportees died from starvation or disease as a direct result of deportation, this is seen as a case of ethnic cleansing. In November 2015, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution recognising the event as a genocide and declared 18th May as a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Crimean Tatar genocide.
Now if Eurovision is all about the politics then Russia would pick up no votes outside of the countries with a large Russian diaspora. However as we saw with Tolmachevy Sisters in 2014 in the aftermath of the Russian/Ukranian ‘war’ over Crimea, the Russian vote is strong enough to offset large political hatred from the west. This was in evidence again in 2015, when many in Western Europe were doubting how well Polina could do after Putin’s comments about the gay community. Where this song differs is that it goes straight to the heart of the politics, the opening lines are “When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say we’re not guilty […] You think you are Gods, but everyone dies”. If this message has been portrayed in the Europe and people understand the song, then it surely takes some votes away from Russia and gives them to Ukraine and it what looks to be close year, that could be crucial.
At the prices I have to oppose Russia. I like the song, but for me it’s nothing special. It uses some clever staging tricks much like what we saw with last years winner, Sweden. However that song was available to back at 2.60 not the 1.7x we’re being asked to take on Russia. This years show is a lot more competitive, than last year so the price on Russia to win just makes no sense to me.
So what do we have against it? I said the other day that I couldn’t see Australia winning Eurovision any time soon, due to them having a limited presence in Eastern Europe. However after seeing their performance in the second semi-final I’ve had to change my mind. With Eurovision being the most watch non-sporting event in the world and being shown in America for the first time this year it may make sense to the producers to have a winner that promotes a global brand. Would the show have an objection to being hosted in London for example, if Australia won? I don’t think so, I actually think they’d welcome it. This helping hand for Australia can already be seen in effect, after they were drawn to sing in the first half of the final, but were then given the slot right at the end of the first half (13). An Australian victory, priced at 4.00 (3/1), may signal the end of ‘Eurovision’, but open the doors to a very interesting ‘Worldvision’. Can you imagine the political conversations we’d be having then?
BACK AUSTRALIA TO WIN EUROVISION at 4.00 (3/1)
I’ve already back Malta, for the reasons I outlined here and I wouldn’t put anyone off having a small bet on them at 34.0 (general) or 55 (Betfair Exchange).
The other song that I’m adding to my outright book is Armenia. Now it won’t be getting any votes from Azerbaijan, European history lesson number two is to look up the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Iveta Mukuchyan has already won the Eurovision Bird Off, more by default as there was limited choice of attractive women this year as Poland decided not to send Margaret.
LoveWave closes the show and last year Italy put to bed the argument that singing last is a negative, they won the public vote. Armenia also have some good voting allies, Russia, being one of them but also Greece and Georgia. They have a history of producing songs that will be like by western ears and have finished fourth twice from the nine shows they’ve entered. I think it’s the best each-way bet of the night at 34.0 (33/1) with Coral (3 places, 1/4 the odds) or 29.0 (28/1) with Bet365 (4 places, 1/5 the odds).
BACK ARMENIA EACH-WAY TO WIN EUROVISION (as above)