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Pre-Final Blog: Running Scared

The situation is this. There are two big 5 countries considered in the mix to win the entire thing. The favourites are drawn earlier than expected - and some complain about it. A much beloved returning artist from last year was getting much of the focus and attention. There were few shocks in qualifying, except for the fall of 100% records, and it is deemed to be a wide open year.

This is 2011.

The 2011 Eurovision Song Contest had some weird voting quirks. Twenty of the songs in the Grand Final received at least one douze point. Our jury winner and, removing San Marino, our televote winner, weren’t in touching distance to winning. The eventual winning song Running Scared went on to finish 2nd in both jury and televote and take a low scoring but reasonably comfortable victory.

Do we have another 2011 on our hands this year?

There are reasons why it could be - firstly those big 5 countries at the top of the leaderboard, while being good, are scarily untested. Måneskin’s rock’n’roll is favourite worthy, but I question its aggressiveness for the votes of mums and grannies across the continent. Barbara Pravi’s number and presence oozes Frenchness in abundance and falls into a fine line where Frenchness is as much it’s liability as it is the asset.

The other favourites are misfiring too. Gjon’s Tears attempted a new super jury note last night and didn’t get a 10/10 for execution. Malta are throwing toys out of the pram about being drawn 6th. Iceland’s rehearsal footage is just that little bit too much….like a rehearsal. That’s what’s allowed Ukraine to burst through the pack and while I appreciate ‘Shum’ considerably, there’s a stretch of the imagination needed that this is close enough with juries.

There’s also the issue that the jury vote and televote this year look like being incredibly divided. The jury vote is, according to the odds, between Malta, France and Switzerland. The televote is between Italy, Ukraine and Iceland. It is looking increasingly likely that this is the year when juries and televotes actively disagree with each other on who should win the Song Contest. Yes, to win this year, a landslide jury vote or televote could do that. But considering Italy are 2.38 to win the televote (William Hill) and France are 2.45 to win the jury (Betsson) there’s little expectation that these are sure-fire runaways.

However, the idea of a compromise winner should be high on the agenda. 2nd and 2nd was enough for Azerbaijan in 2011. 3rd and 3rd could be enough this year, easily. That was the logic towards the Sweden tipping in March, and, while that’s embarrassingly poor tipping in reflection (although the biggest issue with Sweden is sadly Tusse’s voice after his operation), that same principle applies. The issue is working out who it would apply to?

Italy finishing 3rd in a jury vote doesn’t seem absurd. France 3rd in a televote feels a stretch and needs a continent to want that package tonight. Switzerland is the same. Ukraine 3rd in a jury is, errr, a choice. Malta 3rd in a televote, despite having all the right things in the package, just seems to be missing the mark and proxies are not showing the love is out there. Iceland 3rd in a jury would be possible, in normal circumstances, with love from the North and West of the continent.

I suspect this is the reasoning as to why Italy is favourite, and I would agree with that, but it’s likely to need that fair wind in the first half of voting - I don’t see Måneskin as a 350+ point collective.

So I’m looking for value. Can, like 2011’s Raffael Gualazzi, something cut through with real music to win the jury vote? Portugal (21 with Unibet) and The Netherlands (251 with Unibet) come to mind immediately. Can, like 2011’s Eric Saade, something cut through and get the fans at home picking up their phone, Finland (15 with Bet365), Lithuania (51 with Bet365) and even San Marino (34 with Unibet) all have that possible appeal.

In terms of my personal position, I came into Eurovision 2021 with what I considered the most cautious book I’ve ever had. I’m leaving the last two weeks even more cautious and risk averse. I’m happy to get out of this year’s Song Contest with a win and move on and take my profits to the next host city.

Does mean though that I may not make the profits needed to fund two weeks in Zurich next May, so I would appreciate it Europe if that didn’t happen, thanks.

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