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Blog: Eurovision 2024 - Diverse and Original but Noisy and Unpredictable

We now have 37 entries that are looking to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2024. I will accept that it is a good year for the show, with tons of ethnic, diverse and personal songs making up this year's cohort. I will accept that if you all also accept that this year lacks a truly wow song and so many of these diverse entries are more alienating than they are uniting. 


I am calling this the Käärijä effect. He has paved the way for the modern contest to be successful doing what you do no matter your genre smashes or language or goofy persona. But last year he stood practically alone. Now the entire field feels full of them and the betting market is finding it hard to differentiate between them all. 


This results is the most open pre-contest betting period we have had for a few years, especially after the runaway televote victory of Kalush Orchestra and runaway jury victory of Loreen most recently. Let's take a look at the top of the market.


Croatia


Our current favourite, Croatia, is sitting pretty with odds hovering around 5.0 to win the Song Contest on the Betfair Exchange (best bookies 4.5 with Unibet), which implies a win probability of around 20%. Meaning to spell out the obvious there’s an 80% chance we aren’t going to Croatia this year.



And when it comes to our market favourite I do lean on the against side more than the for side. While the Croatian selection was taking place it was hard to miss the hype surrounding ‘Rim Tim Tagi Dim’ that was building up both inside and outside of Croatia that led to the runaway televote score we saw in February.


The comparisons to last year’s Käärijä are perhaps too easy to make for this one. However both depend on a onomatopoeic hook with clear Rammstein influence which masks lyrics taking up a cultural phenomenon that the host country experiences. Both also won their National Final by a landslide, and remember here that while both dominated the televote they were both domestic jury winners too. ‘Cha Cha Cha’ did come in 4th with the jury vote in Liverpool and those backing this as favourite must harbour an expectation that Croatia will be able to score similarly and score 300+ from televoting. 


I imagine that, in a Loreen-less year, Finland would have been trading at similar prices to where Croatia is today last year (Finland was roughly around 7s at this point, before shortening to around 4s during rehearsals). But the Finnish package from last year was supremely better than what we have seen so far from Croatia, both musically and visually, and this year’s field is packed full of fun entries that have more melody and memorability than this in a 26 song field. 


Now of course the Eurovision performance of ‘Rim Tim Tagi Dim’ will improve from what we saw in February, but I have far more faith in the Finnish team to put on three minutes of excellent entertainment than a Croatian broadcaster who didn’t even include Baby Lasagna in their original shortlist for Dora. Furthermore the Balkans are very depleted as a voting bloc this year and the Spotify numbers for this (while heavily clouded by domestic streaming at this point in the season) are dominated by other bigger hits from across Europe by concerning margins. 


Yes, I see and understand why this is favourite and did act during the Dora final to make sure I was up on this outcome. However there is a danger come May that the Käärijä comparison isn’t favourable, and the Eurovision voters may look for something arguably more iconic. It could very easily end up as another ‘Occidentali's Karma’ come May when we are all a bit tired of it.



Ukraine


Croatia took favourite status off Ukraine which held it most of the season. Now best priced around 6.5 this is an outcome that is far easier to recommend that the Croatian favourite at this time. ‘Teresa & Maria’ clearly appeals to juries, televote and diaspora very safely in a way few others do.


Musically this has the right elements in the right place to make it atmospheric and powerful whilst also showing a strong side of Ukraine that will go down very well with voters. Tvorchi, last year’s Ukrainian act came with far worse material to Liverpool and eased to sixth position, which would suggest that each way terms here on Ukraine (best available with Unibet at 5.75) should be a safe tip to get a return on your stake.

I think it would be an alienating winner of the Song Contest however, the English is clunky and without much charm and the religious undertones in text and chord progression may put off some. This, as well as the fact that a Ukraine-winning headache is not one EBU may want on their hands may see this drop away from the limelight.



I do note that Eurovoix’s The Model has this winning the televote with 300 points which based on past record is realistic. The unknown of course is any loyalty that the televote has to Ukraine two years on from Russia’s invasion in a world where Europeans are less supportive of Ukraine's war effort today and news coverage shifts of conflict focuses more on Gaza. Israel taking part in this year’s competition weakens Ukraine more than anybody else as they will lose the opportunity to grab the media attention. 


Italy


Podcast tip Italy is 3rd favourite, we gave this at 8.0 each-way a few days ago and this has dropped to best price of 7s with the bookmakers (exchange has drifted to 8.4 in the last day though). 


It was very much a head-over-heart pick in choosing Italy, and while I have brought myself up on Italy in recent weeks, during Sanremo I was pushing Italy’s price out as it became increasingly unlikely Mahmood was going to Eurovision. ‘Tuta Gold’ in this Eurovision field would be game, set and match. 


Instead we have ‘La Noia’ which, once it finds its summer cocktail party groove is an excellent vibe for the Song Contest. When it gets there. The verses aren’t clear and slide the first twenty seconds of the song away from accessible pop, and that’s the song’s biggest weakness is that it doesn’t command attention early.


I do have reason to be confident it will be better in May. We know Angelina can perform well day-in, day-out from Sanremo but while the song edit for Eurovision is minor (just two lines cut) it will be the visual presentation that could be world’s different in May. Most of Italy’s previous participants have wanted to perform to the camera similarly to Sanremo, but Angelina has an entire fruit salad of performance opportunities for this uptempo number. Angelina is managed by the same team as among others Måneskin, and therefore impactful staging should be on the cards.



Yes, on The Model and other models Italy is coming out as the likely winner at the moment, but note that this is expected to be as a compromise winner, safely scoring with both juries and televoters to win a low scoring year. While at this point a low scoring year feels valid, I do believe that this isn’t true of the modern Song Contest where trends come through and dominante pre-show proceedings in ways we haven’t seen before. A low scoring year also does make it possible for songs very weighted to the televote to find it possible to come through the pack as the scoring presentation unfolds, which is a danger this year.


Switzerland


Most of the favourites are all at the moment 8/10 songs but the top three are followed by a bunch of songs that we haven’t had the privilege to see live yet. This applies more than anything to Switzerland (Exchange 9.6) where Nemo has yet to perform ‘The Code’ live. 



This has huge epic production and an artist in Nemo who threatens to deliver the most wow vocal of the night with this song’s gigantic range and change in styles. I do not question the vocals on this one, I question the styling. Benke Rydman is the right man for the job but I do wonder how on Earth they stage it to make all that Nemo does not just impressive, but voteable. The song more than touches on Nemo’s non-binary gender and there are ways that this is impactful and powerful and also ways where it becomes aloof and too much for your Sophie’s from Southampton. 


Belgium


A complete wildcard I daren’t predict at this point in time. The same applies to Mustii from Belgium (Exchange best price 15s), the last minute of 'Before The Party's Over' threatens to be one huge wow spectacular but most of how this is sold is going to be on his character, which threatens to be a bit more Jonsi than the next Sam Ryder, and there is no live performance as of yet.



The Netherlands


The entry from The Netherlands 'Europapa' is an even bigger wildcard of all the above. I was hot on Joost before the songs came out at three figures but can't fathom so many of the musical decisions that make up this number that spend too much time being Weird Al Jankovic rather than the full on rave hardcore where the song finally ends up. The latest market move to halve the odds on the Netherlands from 23s to 10s on the back of the first live performance are an overreaction. Of course it was going to pop the room, and note carefully how it is more than one performance sown together visually (UK 2014 did the same trick). It won't be that easy in Malmö, though I can see this brand of stoopid working well with the Swedish audience, as will Finland. 



In fact it wouldn't surprise me for both Netherlands and Finland to beat Croatia in the televote. 'Europapa' and 'Rim Tim Tagi Dim' were played back-to-back on the Friday night party at Melfest WKND and it was the Dutch one that got the crowd fully going. Though this might be harder to telegraph to the juries than the Croatian number and suffers from being a half step too regional in sound. I would love to see how this does internationally.


Greece


A full step too regional in sound is what is on offer from Greece this year (19.5 on the Exchange). I respect that 'Zari' has proven itself to be a big hit there but this sound is way too localised to do well across the continent, and I fear the staging ideas being thrown around (one camera shot throughout) are making this more complicated than it needs to be. If this ends up being a Eurovision Song Contest winner then you will never see me again gambling at this competition because I clearly do not know what I am talking about. So much certainty I have and if any more Greeks want to take this under 20s again to win Eurovision I will meet you there. 



Israel


The final song deemed in winning contention by today's market is from Israel. Politics aside for just a paragraph, in a Song Contest that is overflowing with ethnic and regional entries and many personal entries that stray into off-kilter musical genres, this is a welcome rest bite of modern balladry. This has a well-written melody and I'm quite sure this will prick the ears of listeners outwith the politics of the day. 


That said the politics of the day are going to be those that dictate Israel's chances in the Song Contest. As said on last week's podcast I'm quite sure many of those who have decided to vote for Israel will have already decided to do so, and would be doing so for reasons beyond the perfectly functional although compromised piece of music they have submitted. It may be difficult for some juries to be seen to give points to Israel, and would be difficult for some to be seen not giving points to Israel. I think for viewers at home Israeli support will be loyal in places but is unlikely to get widespread support across the continent, and a significant number of casuals will actively not want to vote for the nation at this time. I would say yes to top 10 at this point but no further. 



The rest of the entries are in the chasing pack. Some will inevitably come through I am sure. Coming through to challenge should be possible this year, this feels more a 2014 or 2018 in style at the moment where few of the top tier have shown their true colours yet and as such the market feels particularly unstable this year and prone to wild swings later on.


This is also a Song Contest where the majority of the favourites at the moment fall into musical extremes, diverse and different entries that may work on the Eurovision fan community but are as of yet untested on the general public. It wouldn’t be absurd for the general public and the juries to be put off by all the noise that our favourites possess between them come the grand finale in May. 


Anybody telling you they know how the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 will play out is talking out their arse. This is the toughest Song Contest to call in my time covering the competition


Here at BetEurovision expect our podcast to continue through to May for the bulk of our coverage this season. We aim for a Thursday morning publication time for all European listeners.


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