Who are the big favorites for Kiev? In the next couple of weeks we will highlight some interesting participants, based on the odds they have been given by the bookmakers. This week we are providing a shortlist of countries that lead the board in the grand final. Today’s report is about Italy.
Francesco Gabbani rose to fame in the 2016 Sanremo Music Festival where he won the newcomers’ section with his song “Amen”. The track was the lead single off of his Eternamente ora album, which was certified platinum. Since 2016’s Sanremo he has composed an album for an Italian comedy film. This year RAI revealed that the winner of the champions’ section of Sanremo would represent Italy in Eurovision. Francesco Gabbani achieved that with his song “Occidentali’s Karma”.
“Occidentali’s Karma” is a fun, upbeat pop tune that pokes fun at westerners and their idea that they can “westernize” Eastern cultures. It references not only William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but also the Indian religions Buddhism and Hinduism. It incorporates multiple languages into the song although the primary language is Italian. The song’s major selling point besides its seemingly fun lyrics and danceable melody is the “naked gorilla” that graces the stage, often played by Gabbani’s choreographer.
Explaining the odds
Italy’s decent success in recent years is definitely set to be continued with their song this year. “Occidentali’s Karma” has consistently been the bookmaker’s favorite to win ever since it’s release and YouTube success; it now has over 80 million YouTube views on Gabbani’s Vevo channel.
Who are the big favorites for Kiev? In the next couple of weeks we will highlight some interesting participants, based on the odds they have been given by the bookmakers. This week we are providing a shortlist of countries that lead the board in the second semi final. Today’s report is about France.
French singer Alma was born in French but spent much of her time in other countries. A college graduate, Alma eventually moved to Paris, France to pursue music. She has released two past singles, one of which is expected to be on her upcoming album, Ma peau aime. She is signed to Warner Music France, and will represent her county at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Requiem”.
“Requiem” is a slightly divisive pop song. Sassy percussion and light strings are main components of the song, and Alma’s pleasant voice adds a lot. The French language is beautiful, but after a leaked video of a performance of the song before September 1, the song’s chorus was changed to English.
The song tells the tale of a couple in love, and because “nothing ever dies” they won’t “need (a) requiem). The classy video astonishing visuals as well as a beautiful, French setting.
Explaining the odds
France, a Big 5 nation, will directly qualify to the final. Alma is expected to place in 10th place by the bookmakers. Hopefully she can keep the high result of France alive from last year, as Amir’s “J’ai Cherche” placed 6th overall.
Ballad entries such as Bulgaria and Australia could still disturb the battle between Italy and Sweden for victory in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The results of the second semi final will be crucial in predicting the final result. That is the conclusion from Steef van Gorkum’s fourth and last editorial on ballads in the competition.
“In the last month before the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, I take a look at ballads in the competition. As you can read HERE, I conducted a small focus group consisting of three Eurovision journalists and two people working for Dutch national radio stations and I asked them to classify every song in the last nine editions of the Eurovision Song Contest as a ballad or a non-ballad.
So far I have been able to conclude that 1) there are not significantly more ballads participating this year than usual, 2) within the 50-50 voting system, ballads have only won the Eurovision Song Contest when there were less than 40% ballads in the Grand Final, and 3) in almost every Eurovision Semi Final, 3-5 ballads qualify, regardless of how many ballads participated in that show.
But what does this mean for Kiev 2017? This is the list with participating songs for this year, classified by the panel into green (ballads), blue (low tempo) or red (non-ballads). If you download the document and take a look at semi final one, you will see that 11 of the 18 participating songs are either green or blue. In other words: the first semi final is dominated by ballads.
According to statistics, these 11 ballads fight for a maximum of 5 spots in the Grand Final. Now let us assume that the songs from Australia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Portugal (who rank high with the bookmakers) all reach the final. That leaves these countries fighting for 1 spot: Albania, Finland, Georgia, Czech Republic, Iceland, Poland, Slovenia. While at the same time these countries have 5 tickets for the final to divide amongst themselves: Belgium, Montenegro, Sweden, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Moldova.
In the second semi final, the situation is completely different. Only 6 ballads take part here: Bulgaria, Malta, Netherlands, Ireland, Croatia, Denmark. If 5 ballads will qualify from this semi, these countries have a walk in the park. However, some of them currently rank rather low with the bookmakers. And according to statistics, it could easily be that not 5, but 4 or even just 3 ballads go through.
How many ballads will reach the Eurovision Final?
Here we get to the crucial part of this year’s competition. If less ballads get to the Grand Final, the odds of a ballad winning increase. The tipping point is 40%, and in a 26-song-show that means between 10 and 11 ballads. We already know that only one of the BIG-5 has sent a ballad – the United Kingdom. We have previously learnt that between 3 and 5 ballads qualify per semi final. You can do the math: 2×3+1 = 7, 2×5+1 = 11. There will be minimum 7 and maximum 11 ballads in this year’s Grand Final.
Currently, Italy and Sweden are the main candidates for victory. Both have up-tempo songs. However, there are outsiders that fall in the blue or green category, such as Bulgaria, Armenia and Australia. They still have a chance to disturb the battle between Italy and Sweden. It will all depend on the results of semi final 2. The number of ballads that qualify from this semi, could determine the outcome of the Grand Final.”
Emmelie de Forest co-wrote the song for the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. When Lucie Jones first heard her song ‘Never give up on you’, she did not know that it was written by a former Eurovision winner.
“Her song was brought to me and I immediately felt that I had to perform this song,” Lucie explains to ESC Daily. “Later I found out it was written by her, which was fabulous. The creative side is in the hands of other people now, because Emmelie co-wrote the song and she came to the UK national final for me. But since then, there has been no contact. It is about us now and doing what we want to do.”
Lucie Jones explains what kind of things has been done on this ‘creative side’ of the process: “We have been working on everything. The vocals, the staging, the outfit, my facial expressions. We need to make sure people at home connect to the song as much as the people in the room do.”
Manel Navarro has revealed some secrets about the staging for the Spanish 2017 act ‘Do it for your lover’. “It is going to be the same like the summer vibe, but it will look totally different,” he told ESC Daily.
Hans Pannecoucke, who did the staging the last three years for The Netherlands, is now helping Spain get a goiod result in Kiev. “We have already seen the last visuals,” says Manel about the contact with the stage director. “And it is awesome! It is going to be great. We have not talked about the camera work and stuff like that yeah. But a one camera act like the Common Linnets, sure that is possible.”
Manel had to face some criticism
In recent years the Spanish Eurofans went crazy fort heir act and were let down by the end result. This time, there is a lot of criticism for the song and singer. Manel is not being influenced by it, he states: “It is not not what it seems. It is just a few people that don’t like the song. Most people are with me and support me. It did not affect me, at all.”
The last three winners of Eurovision only got to the contest, after losing in a previous national final first. This year, many artists with a similar track record will try to follow in their footsteps. In this episode we highlight Claudia Faniello from Malta.
Claudia’s career started in 2005, when she won a show aimed at launching new talent. Since then she never looked back. Her brother Fabrizio represented Malta twice at the Eurovision Song Contest and it has been a big dream of Claudia to follow in his footsteps. It took perseverance to actually achieve that dream.
A Song for Europe 2006
The year 2006 was the year when Claudia started her experience in the Malta Song For Europe Festival with the song “High Alert!” – a song composed by Ray Agius. At the same contest she won the award for best newcomer, even though she finished in 12th place in the year her brother won the final!
Malta Song for Europe 2007
The next year, Claudia Faniello took a chance with a Maltese song, called ‘L-Imħabba Għamja’. In the end, she got a bit unlucky. Out of the semi final, six songs advanced to the final, but Claudia finished in seventh place, narrowly missing out on a spot in the final.
Malta Song for Europe 2008
Another year, another attempt. Or actaully, two attempts! It was the best one thus far for Claudia. The song ‘Sunrise’ won the jury vote by far. However, the televote was not in favour of her song and in the end Claudia Faniello finished in third place.
Perhaps she was her own biggest oponent, because the song that ended up in second place was ‘Caravaggio’, which was also being sung by… Claudia Faniello. This song did well in the televote, but not as well as the song ‘Vodka’ by Morena Camilleri. 2008 will remain a year that Claudia Faniello will have a hard time thinking about.
GO Malta EuroSong 2009 Euro Showbox
Malta used a new format after not qualifying in 2008 and went for a casting show format. Claudia Faniello took part with a song by Ray Agius again. ‘Blue Sonata’ reached the fourth place and just missed out on a place in the superfinal. Close, but no sigar again.
The GO Malta Eurosong 2010
‘Samsara’ was the next song for Claudia, written by Philip Vella and Gerard James Borg. It was not a big hit, coming only in 8th place in the Maltese final, that was won by Thea Garrett.
Malta Eurosong 2011
Ouch…. zero points from the televote. That is why in 2011 Claudia Faniello got nowhere near the Eurovision stage with her song ‘Movie in my mind’.
Malta Eurosong Song Contest 2012
In 2012, Claudia got really close to Eurovision again. The song ‘Pure’ won the jury vote, but once again the Maltese televote was not in her favour. The fourth place in the televote gave Kurt Calleja the chance to win after all, leaving Claudia behind in tears again…
Malta Eurosong Song Contest 2013
‘When it’s time’ it’s time, but with this song in 2013, it was not yet the time for Claudia Faniello. She finished in 7th place in the Maltese final and stopped trying since then.
Claudia Faniello at Eurovision
Until this year! The comeback of Claudia Faniello in MESC was a big one. After the televote failed to help her so many times before, in a year with ONLY a televote to pick the entry, it seemed unlikely that Claudia Faniello would become the winner of the contest. However, she finally did it and will now go to Eurovision in Kiev with the song ‘Breathlessly’.
Knowing her long, long story, it is hard not to root for Claudia in Kiev. But if she will reach the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, remains to be seen.