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It’s All About Albania, Iceland & Moldova

Apr 22, 2010 by

Semi-final one at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is an intriguing affair in so much as there doesn’t appear to be a clear favourite that looks set to dominate. There is no doubt the first semi-final is a far less competitive affair compared to the second but this makes it no less easy to call in terms of the most likely Outright winner.
A difference this year is that televoting will get underway at the start of the show and the 50/50 televote/jury vote is being applied to the semi-finals for the first time.
The 6th, 11th and 16th slots in the semis could be perceived as advantageous as they come immediately after a reprise of the previous 5 songs are heard. Equally, 5th, 10th and 15th could be decent positions as those songs will have just been heard, and then be heard again during the reprise.
There will also be an ad break after song 12 – which might boost song 12 in the running order, or song 13. In our view first and last position in the running order also have the chance to make a big impact. In conclusion, the most vulnerable positions in the draw look to be 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 14.
But how the songs stack up in terms of ballad following ballad and where the more upbeat tunes reside in the line-up needs to be factored into calculations also. And it is worth remembering France, Germany and Spain will be voting on semi-final one – which could be a boost to Portugal and Belgium – along with the 17 participating nations.
Having listened to the songs in the context of running order, the two market favourites in semi-final one, Greece and Slovakia, are probably worth taking on in the Outright market because neither of them are particularly stand-out and there is better value elsewhere.
Greece traditionally does well but its song this year ‘Opa’ is like a bad novelty tune – incorporating a ring tone – that only a teenager boy could love, and following Albania we think it’ll sound quite grating and almost karaoke.
The three we recommend backing each-way are Albania at 12-1 with Boylesports, Moldova at 16-1 with Skybet, and Iceland at 14-1 with Boylesports (also available at 16-1 with bwin.com to win).
The re-mixed version of Juliana Pasha’s ‘It’s All About You’ is a real triumph. She’s a glamorous-looking lady with plenty of stage presence and at position 12, just prior to the break, televoters should be reaching for their phones to vote for her.

Moldova has the chance to start semi-final one with a memorable, impactful opening as ‘Runaway’ is a belting, toe-tapper and followed by four much slower tunes it should leap out in the first section.
For similar reasons, Iceland, last up in semi-final one, could really shine. ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ is a house tune, quite retro sounding, but it has an infectious, stand out chorus that ticks a lot of Eurovision boxes.
Among the qualifying odds, the value has to be Moldova at 4-6, Estonia at 4-6, Bosnia at 4-5, and Malta at 11-10, all with Betfred. Estonia’s ‘Siren’ sung by Malcolm Lincoln is an absolute beauty, reminiscent of British art rock/new wave pop bands of the 80s like China Crisis, Lotus Eaters, The The and ABC. Its success is reliant on ESC voters discovering some music taste, which is always risky, but it really should go through and if it doesn’t it’ll be a travesty.

The English version of Bosnia’s ‘Thunder And Lightning’ has been largely overlooked so far but is a decent tune, and as long as Vukasin Brajic’s live vocal holds up ok, it must have an excellent chance of getting through.
While we’re not fans of Malta’s ‘My Dream’ it is so safe and Eurovision as a ballad that it really should go through and is probably the most stand out bet among the qualifying odds. Portugal is the other good value ballad to consider among the qualifying odds but may just miss out.
Russia must be worth a lay at anything around 1-2 on Betfair as it is poleaxingly dreadful, and even with the boost of supportive neighbour nations it is by no means a banker to get through. Nor is Serbia for that matter. and we’re struggling to understand why it’s a 4-11 shot to get through when to our trained ears it’s an atrocious din. Like Russia, it is a tempting lay on Betfair, or you can back Serbia not to qualify at 2-1 with Betfred, though this is worse value than going the lay route on Betfair if you can lay at around 4-11.
Rob Furber

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