Strictly 2018: Who Do We Think Will Win?

Event: Strictly Come Dancing 2018  Category: Strictly Come Dancing  Published: Fri 21st Sep 2018 14:05

Strictly season is finally upon us again! In this article we go over each contestant and see if we can predict their finishing position. We've also put our money where our mouth is and submitted our prediction to the Prediction Game.

As time passes, we've got better at predicting Strictly winners, they all seem to share a common element - and that is that they have a journey. Contestants fit into a specific bracket in terms of their dancing ability. If they're absolutely rubbish, obviously they won't stand a chance of winning - but conversely if they're too good too soon they put themselves at a distinct disadvantage as we've also seen many times before.

Take 2016's Danny Mac, in this video we see him dancing the Cha-Cha to 'Cake By The Ocean' in Week 1, a routine packed with content. Yet Danny performs it at a level that could easily be at Grand Final standard. It's almost impossible to tell which dancer is the professional! Unfortunately for Danny, that was his key mistake and he ended as a runner-up. We've seen it many times though, Natalie Gumede, Denise Van Outen, Alexandra Burke to name a few - all arguably the best dancers of their series, all ended as runners-up. If you start off flawlessly then you can only either match or disappoint people's expectations from there - it's incredibly difficult to exceed them.

Almost all Strictly winners have been mid-table in the first few weeks, dancing ability is one thing the voting public take into account - but the journey of watching someone blossom into a natural dancer before your eyes is what the public really like. Abbey Clancy, Joe McFadden, Louis Smith all fell into this category. Obviously there are other considerations such as their image with the public but by-and-large, the journey is what matters.


15th Place: Seann Walsh
Seann appears to be at a disadvantage in many important ways. Firstly early indications suggest that he isn't a natural dancer and may struggle to have that wiggle in the Latin dances or grace in the Ballroom dances. Unfortunately he's also one of the least well-known celebrities so may not have a significant fanbase to call on. Finally he can't even get the middle-England mums in a tizzy - Lee Ryan is their eye candy this year. Katya is one of the best choreographers though, will she have something up her sleeve to save him?

14th Place: Kate Silverton
While she seems like a lovely person, again, early footage suggests that Kate is very much an amateur with a long way to catch up to the rest of the pack. At 48 years old age isn't on her side, particularly for learning a new skill, most winners tend to be between the ages of 20 and 40. Watching the group dance threw us a few hints that she may not be in the competition very long. She's been partnered with Alijaz who is a popular professional, Kate may need to hope Alijaz's shirt comes off ASAP.

13th Place: Susannah Constatine
Partnered with Anton already means Susannah is widely expected to be a duffer. Anton is said to be the gran's favourite though which should see them safe for a few weeks. As a contestants though you'd wonder what kind of person (especially women) would vote for Susannah - a celebrity who's made a living from telling women they look crap. Susannah has been quite open about her lack of dancing ability and although the idea of her being this year's joke act has been thrown about, we're not biting.

12th Place: Graeme Swan
Unknown to us at TellyStats and a likely unknown to most viewers up until now, Graeme looks every inch the dad-dancer. Oti is a fabulous dancer and choreographer though and we suspect she'll be likely to be able to squeeze some blood out of this stone. Graeme could easily be imagined to be the comedy act this year if he really is terrible. Graeme's not a bad looking chap either so that works in his favour - but at 39 years old we reckon beyond a comedic Salsa, he may be quickly shown the door.

11th Place: Katie Piper
To suffer what she's suffered and to go onto achieve great things, Katie is an inspirational figure, no doubt. It's likely she'll have a ton of goodwill directed her way too. We originally had high hopes for her dancing ability but Katie's protestations that she's not a natural dancer may prove to be true. Many of this year's female celebrities appear to be young women with a degree of dancing experience, dance experience that Katie lacks, early footage suggests that they may have an insurmountable headstart over her.

10th Place: Lee Ryan
Anyone that watched Lee in the Celebrity Big Brother house knows he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but if Kem Cetinay of Dancing on Ice taught us anything it's that you don't need brains to be a good dancer. Blue never did any real dance routines besides the odd side-to-side shuffle so no advantage there, however he did attend Sylvia Young and Italia Conti theatre schools so may be able to bust some decent moves. Women watching Strictly are likely to be the perfect age-range to be Blue fans so we may end up eating our words by placing Lee 10th.


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9th Place: Stacey Dooley MBE
Of all the celebrities, Stacey is a difficult one to place. Much of her performance in the group dance was off camera and when in-shot she tended to be dancing on the spot. There are individuals who have high hopes for Stacey in the competition however we're not wholly convinced. Stacey does have the advantage of being paired with Kevin from Grimsby who knows how to extract the potential from celebrities on the dancefloor. Stacey looks pretty but as an individual she's very switched on and it wouldn't be a surprise if she displayed a strong determination to do well in this competition.

8th Place: Joe Sugg
Poor Joe, no one under the age of 20 had a clue who he is and now that they do know, they say he isn't enough of a celebrity to compete. Joe has no dancing experience at all however his professional partner, Diane Buswell has expressed surprise at how quickly he's picking it up which suggests some potential. Joe is used to making prerecorded videos but will he be able to exude confidence live on TV? He has millions of social media followers however reality TV history tells us that that won't help him much here.

7th Place: Faye Tozer
As an ex-member of Steps, Faye may be expected to be a good dancer, and she is likely have an advantage. However Steps dance routines had little to do with disciplined dances such as those shown on Strictly so we don't buy the idea that her headstart falls into unfairness. The footage we've seen suggests a little stiffness in her movements as she practices the Cha Cha. As with Lee Ryan, the Steps fanbase fit the age bracket of the Strictly demographic so she should make it a decent way through the competition. However, we don't have nearly as much confidence for her compared to many.

6th Place: Lauren Steadman
Fresh from her gold medal win at the ITU World Championships, Lauren, who was born without her right forearm competes this year. As a paralympian, you can be certain she has a hugely competitive streak and a hunger to win. To her disadvantage though, not having a forearm will make it incredibly difficult for her to create the lines required for dances such as the Rumba, the hands are an expressive part of many dance styles. Furthermore she's been partnered with AJ who is one of the less-popular professionals, his choreography for his partners has also left much to be desired in the past.

5th Place: Dr Ranj Singh
Dr Ranj is another unknown for us as an individual so we had to research him and his dancing ability. He appears to show promise in his 'First Steps' video released by Strictly for each contestant. Janette declares that he has rhythm and can smile throughout the whole routine which suggests a degree of ease. Dr Ranj isn't likely to have to many qualms about glamming it up on the dancefloor and he seems to have a positive, can-do attitude. We're fairly confident he'll end up on the upper end of the final tally.

4th Place: Charles Venn
We're now entering joint runners-up territory and Charles Venn is our punt to make it to that level. Being partnered with Karen may be a disadvantage though as she's had negative publicity following her divorce with Kevin from Grimsby. The early footage we've seen in both the group dance and Charles' 'First Steps' video suggest someone who will not only dance well, but also pick things up quickly. Charles fits the 'journey' demographic but may simply be a bit too old to keep up with some of his more youthful competitors. A good looking guy and probably a good dancer, we're happy to place him up here.

3rd Place: Danny John-Jules
At 58 years old, Danny is this year's oldest contestant. However we see him walking the same path as Pamela Stephenson and Debbie McGee of the older contestant who suprises everyone with the natural dancing ability. In truth, Danny is a trained dancer so already has a significant advantage - indeed in his 'First Steps' video alone we see him do a triple spin. Time may be catching up with Danny though as reports are that he's already got a swollen foot. Some have questioned whether Danny's personality will be a good fit for the show, that remains to be seen. We see Danny doing well as he exceeds audiences expectations.

2nd Place: Ashley Roberts
As a member of the Pussycat Dolls, with their focus on dancing (certainly wasn't singing) as well as having been a judge on Dancing on Ice, Ashley is probably considered to be the contestant with the biggest starter advantage this year - we expect her to have the highest marked score on the first show. Ashley came 2nd in I'm A Celebrity, losing out by just 0.5% of the vote, she lost to Eastenders legend Charlie Brooks, no mean feat at all, she has a lovely personality. That she's American shouldn't be too big an issue with the Strictly audiences, Anastacia was treated fairly by the voting public. The biggest problem for Ashley is what we detailed at the beginning of the article, she's likely to just be too good too early - with nowhere left to go she may struggle to excite the audiences and create a moment.

Winner: Vick Hope
An unknown celebrity to most people, what we've seen on Vick so far suggests she's highly competent, despite having no dance training. As well as being a gorgeous young woman, she's Cambridge-educated which implies a thirst for learning and improvement - reports are that she has been practicing 8 hours day. The footage of her in the group dance and in the 'First Steps' video is promising. She's likely to hit the right spot on the good-but-not-too-good measure in the early weeks, setting herself up for the journey ahead. Vick has been paired with new professional Graziano Di Prima who seem to have the enthusiastic approval of the ladies too. All in all, we think she stands the best chance this year and we'd be surprised if she isn't among the top 4 nervously waiting behind the Glitterball trophy at the end of the series.


That's our prediction, now it's time for yours!

Predict the finishing position of all of this year's Strictly celebrities and compare the accuracy of your prediction to all other submissions, will you top the leaderboard?
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Britain's Got Talent 2018: Grand Final Predictions

Event: Britain's Got Talent 2018  Category: Britain's Got Talent  Published: Sun 3rd Jun 2018 17:38

So after 7 audition shows and 5 semi-finals we've finally reached the Britain's Got Talent final. Our stats have been mostly accurate so far this series (with one notable exception, damn you semi-final 5), we hope the final won't throw up any unexpected surprises and anyone using TellyStats can walk away a little better off than they were.

Anyone who's watched BGT in the past knows how crucial the running order is in the final - so any predictions made before that's known are speculative at best - this is more of a guess at where the contestants stand at the present moment. It's worth noting that last year's semi final results didn't particularly reflect the voting in the final. We'll have a go at guessing who will win and do our best to provide justification. If you look at previous year's Britain's Got Talent, acts below the top 5 tend to be separated by a couple of percent or less, so take that with a pinch of salt - but please comment below and let us know your thoughts.


11th Place: Calum Courtney
Semi 2 appeared to have decent acts that would go on to head the market, Ronan Busfield, Magus Utopia and Andrew Lancaster, in the end though all three of those acts flopped and made the heat much more open. Calum sang a truly horrendous version of "Isn't She Lovely?" dedicated to his mother, certain to haunt him in school corridors in a few years time. Calum's voice was flat throughout but he surprisingly came 2nd on the public vote, given the dearth of talent, it was likely the mums that gave him those extra votes. Had B-Positive Choir not sung first, it's likely they would have gone through instead. We, like most people have Calum a solid last.

10th Place: B-Positive Choir
Wildcards for the final never do particularly well considering they've already been once rejected by the voting public and so it shall be for the B-Positive Choir. Standing for a good cause is obviously important so we welcome their inclusion. A choir is always difficult to connect to, their singing isn't anything to write home about and there isn't anything particularly special about this act altogether. Easily near the bottom.

9th Place: Donchez Dacres
Again from the second semi, Donchez topped the public vote reprising his self-penned "Wiggle n' Wine" song. Looking at the social media stats, Donchez received among the fewest Likes of all winners. Crucially though in his victory speech, Donchez stated that he would not be singing "Wiggle n' Wine" (singing acts normally reprise their audition song in the Grand Final, but the producers probably didn't think he'd make it that far). This new song will have to be something special to hit the same spot. Furthermore, Donchez got through his audition thanks to David Walliams' golden buzzer, Donchez made it through his semi because he was the only one who knew full-well how crap he was and embraced it whereas the rest of the contestants tried in earnest to convince us they weren't.

8th Place: Giang Brothers
The only foreign act in the final and that being the case, inevitably the victim of morons complaining the show is called Britain's Got Talent. Attraction managed to get over the line a few years ago despite being foreign, but their act was something special, clever and played on the emotions - the Giang Brothers unfortunately do not. They're further encumbered by being one of the few acts in the final with low repeatability value, a singer can sing a different song - there's only so much you can do with two gymnasts. Finally, they re-did their audition trick in the final which suggests they may not have much material. It's a shame because their act is actually quite excellent. We feel though that a low-placing awaits them in the final.

7th Place: Jack & Tim
Originally showing the strongest stats of the auditions, Jack and Tim lost their momentum in the semi with a song that really didn't match the quality and emotion of the first. Jack's voice in particular wasn't great. The Goodacre family have history in showbiz, Jack was part of School Of Rock in the West End and was also on The Voice Kids, his ease in front of the camera though has given him an air of precociousness which has been picked up by commenters. We've placed Jack and Tim here because we think they'll reprise their audition song "Lucky Ones" which, if sung well, should do better than their semi performance.

6th Place: The D Day Darlings
If you wanted a masterclass in how the producers can ruin an act, here you have it. The pushed "patriotism" so hard down the audience's throats that it actually became distasteful to many watching, British flags were everywhere as you'd expect, but it was done in more of a kind of "nineteen eighty-four" nationalistic dystopia way, it reminded me of the North Korean Moranbong Band. The wheeling out of the war veterans felt exploitative and really had no connection to the performance (see Richard Jones' performances for the correct use of war veterans). Finally, Rule Britannia never sounded so outdated, it's actually feels like a bit of a dig to sing it, we don't rule the waves - or indeed anything anymore. The D Day Darlings had the pimp slot in the first semi, with patriotism cranked to 11 and still didn't win the public vote. The performance for the final should be stripped back with a focus on their commendable charity work instead.

5th Place: Gruffydd Wyn Roberts
With a horrifically manufactured audition, Gruffydd received a golden buzzer and had Robert White not played an absolute blinder in the 3rd semi, Gruffydd would probably have taken the win there too. We've never been convinced by this young man's voice, to our (unprofessional) ears, he sounds like an amateur attempting to imitate opera, it sounds rather low quality. He will probably be singing Nessun Dorma in the final which is one of around 2 or 3 opera songs that exist in the world of Simon Cowell. To his credit, he did sing a relatively unknown song in the semi-finals and still got through so perhaps we're being overly harsh. Gruffydd has the backing of Wales behind him, though the Welsh support has been shown to be made of paper in the past.

4th Place: DVJ
Who'd have thought an act with close ties to Simon Cowell would be in the final..? However, we don't think Simon even wants them to win - it would scream blatant favouritism and damage the BGT brand, plus Diversity have already won the show once, having effectively the same act win twice isn't good either. A respectable top-5 finish should give them the boost they need while keeping Cowell in the clear.

3rd Place: Micky P Kerr
Of all the semi finals, Micky's win took everyone by surprise, most thought it was between Mandy Muden, Giang Brothers and Father Ray Kelly - Micky was hardly on the radar and certainly not on it to win. He was matched at 50/1 to win his semi (that's a 2% chance). None of our stats had him close, we even checked a few places not reflected on TellyStats for more of an idea - again, nothing we could find could justify Micky's win. We can normally look back and see where we went wrong, not this time though. This makes Micky the hardest person to predict as he clearly has a well-hidden voter base somewhere, a win from mid-running order behind 3 other well-received acts is no mean feat.

Cowell has said that the winner will perform at the America's Got Talent final, we wonder how Micky's brand of comedy will go down over there given our different comedy styles. He's fairly funny but is he world class? Will the Americans be amused or bemused? Isn't Micky the kind of person you find at a regular comedy night anywhere?

2nd Place: Robert White
Of the 3 comedians, we definitely prefer Robert the most, Robert's stats are second only to Lost Voice Guy's. But did Robert's excellent Wednesday performance steal a bunch of Lost Voice Guy's votes rendering the stats less useful? Robert is also certainly more creative than Lost Voice Guy, who's subject matter is rather singular. Robert's comedy is also rather quick, every line is a zinger - audiences tend to be a little more forgiving of Lost Voice Guy whereas Robert has to work much harder, this quickness though means that if he has a sequence that doesn't hit the mark and breaks the rhythm then it looks a lot worse than it does for Lost Voice Guy who doesn't need to worry about comedic timing or tone.

A big question for us is also about which comedian Simon Cowell would want to work with more - Robert appears to be quite humble and self-deprecating which are both attributes that Cowell dislikes, Cowell likes to see himself as someone who 'saves' people and elevates them, the opportunity isn't so much there with Robert. I also feel Robert's aspergers could make him a little more difficult for Simon - who demands absolute compliance - to work with. Finally, there's the question of the suitability of Robert's material for the royal family as they would likely become his subject matter.

Britain's Got Talent normally places acts they want to win towards the end of the running order in the final, but we suspect - perhaps wrongly - that Robert will not be the last comedian to perform.

1st Place: Lost Voice Guy
In Lost Voice Guy's semi final performance, one of his jokes was: "I was invited to do a radio interview, but I couldn't be bothered going, so I sent my computer and a note saying 'Press Play'." - all we can say to that is: Indeed. So it's safe to say we aren't fans of his comedy - the jokes are samey, not that great (in our opinion) and as he says, he is basically just a man pressing play, as well as a bit of shrugging and smiling. However, like Jack Carroll before him, this was never about the quality of the jokes. Lost Voice Guy is undeniably something new that people haven't seen before and that's valuable. Cowell is a big fan of the emotional message and Lost Voice Guy is inspiring considering the hand he's been dealt. Disabled people are often spoken down to or ignored in society and Lost Voice Guy shows that his despite the disability, he is as deserving of time and respect that anyone able-bodied would take for granted. I think he would be particularly popular in the US too.

Lost Voice Guy got by far the most Likes and Retweets on his "Finalist" video, his stats across all social media were impressive too. We suspect he'll take a decent chunk of what TellyStats would regard as the 'silent' vote and likely grab the attention of viewers who only watch the Grand Final (usually around 1-2 million more). It's quite likely he'll be on late in the running order too, we think either last or second-to-last.


"Finalist" Tweets Stats

For each semi, the Britain's Got Talent Twitter feed posts a "Finalist" video of each qualifier. We took the Likes and Retweets count of those 35 minutes after each one was posted for each contestant throughout the week. Let's have a quick look at those numbers.

Likes Retweets
Lost Voice Guy 1,546 263
Robert White 661 94
DVJ 502 92
Gruffydd Wyn Roberts 308 63
The D Day Darlings 293 49
Micky P Kerr 293 46
Donchez Dacres 286 49
Jack & Tim 220 31
Giang Brothers 172 26
Calum Courtney 171 30
"Finalist" Tweets after 35 mins. Example

With a few exceptions, we feel this is a decent representation of each contestant's popularity, Lost Voice Guy clearly leading by a long way, however he had much less competition in his semi, as opposed to Robert White who had a few stronger challengers. While we think there will be a significant transfer of votes from Lost Voice Guy to Robert White, we're not sure it'll overturn his lead. This is a semi in which only 3-4 people could realistically win and I regard the 3 comedians to all be in with a chance.

Ultimately, the majority of the buzz has really only focussed on Robert White and Lost Voice Guy who we suspect will be the final 2 individuals standing on stage. While we much prefer Robert's comedy, we reckon that for other reasons mentioned above, Lost Voice Guy might take the win. We really aren't sure, if you want a fairly safe bet, stick a tenner on them both now, switch off the TV and by the time you wake up in the morning, you're quite likely to have doubled your money.

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Eurovision 2018: Grand Final Review

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Sun 13th May 2018 15:34

What a final that was, and what a Eurovision overall! Israel came out on top in the end. We couldn't be more thrilled with the result and in particular, the accuracy of our stats. If you'd been following the TellyStats articles with tips on how to read the stats as well as hints as to where diaspora may be influencing the counts, you should have done well.

The TellyStats website was packed with punters and Eurovision fans checking the stats, the server was running over a stable capacity at some points but luckily it still chugged along, albeit a little slower than normal. At 10:44pm after all acts had performed but before the results were called, we posted:

How did we make that call? Admittedly they were both favourites so hardly rocket-science but our call was based on the stats too. Often after an event we get people messaging us pointing out individual stats that don't fit the result, occasionally the stats are completely off, but most of the time it's the individual not taking enough information into account. If read holistically with context in mind, the stats are highly accurate. We are working on ways that will make it easier for people to discount obviously misleading stats but we'll go through some simple methods in this article.


How Did We Do?
Average %
Cyprus 9.64%
Israel 7.68%
Italy 5.80%
Lithuania 5.56%
United Kingdom 5.34%
Ukraine 5.30%
Spain 4.99%
Czech Republic 4.90%
Albania 4.25%
Germany 4.24%
Hungary 3.50%
Norway 3.34%
Ireland 3.04%
Denmark 2.97%
France 2.94%
Estonia 2.80%
Sweden 2.80%
The Netherlands 2.63%
Bulgaria 2.50%
Austria 2.40%
Serbia 2.34%
Australia 2.30%
Portugal 2.20%
Moldova 2.10%
Finland 2.07%
Slovenia 1.96%
Averaged FB Likes, TW Likes, YT Views, IG Likes.
All stats averaged from the 30 minute scale.

The table to the left shows the average stats share for all countries across all social media platforms. So if Country X got 5% on Facebook, 5% on Twitter, 5% on YouTube and 17% on Instagram, that would total 32% divided by 4 categories, giving an average of 8%.

We first want to point out that there are still other considerations that need to be made, but doing things by this method is far superior to just looking at Facebook stats, or just looking at Twitter stats. If one set of stats is extremely different to all others, averaging them out helps to minimise that difference.

Looking at the table on the left, in a field of 26, just a few percent can make a big difference - and what do we see? The top 3 by a decent margin are Cyprus and Israel followed by Italy.

Now we hit some interesting results, the average odds have Lithuania, the UK, Ukraine and Spain next, followed by the Czech Republic and Albania. Here's where we have to start thinking smart.

Context: First off, let's immediately discount the United Kingdom from this list. The only reason it got the stats it did was because of the stage invasion, so let's throw that one away.

Outliers: Lithuania and Albania topped our Facebook stats in both the final and their semi, but did MUCH worse in all other platforms. This suggest that Facebook is highly popular in those countries and it would be wise to discount the Facebook stats. Across Twitter, YouTube and Instagram Lithuania would then get an average of 2.75% and Albania would get an average of 2.67%. One of our priorities will be to make a page that makes it clear which stats should be treated with suspicion based on one set of stats vastly outweighing others. On this basis, Lithuania and Albania can now be discarded.

Diaspora and Social Media Presence: This is the hardest one to verify on stats alone and your own judgement needs to come into play. We'd mentioned Spain in our previous articles getting incredibly high social media stats. In our last article though, we speculated that Spain's diaspora was pushing things up. We then watched Spain's performance in the live final. It was abysmal and yet, up went the stats. That's when you know something's wrong and to be extremely wary of placing money on Spain.

With the UK, Lithuania, Albania and Spain discounted, you're now left with a pretty accurate representation of the televote. But wait, there's more, why is Cyprus still beating Israel? This is where we have to get really mathematical. I'm not going to go into the extreme details but the basic premise is that Israel's average percent was 7.68%. They got 5.92% on Facebook, 7.93% on Twitter, 9.83% on YouTube and 7.06% on Instagram. None of their stats on ANY platform veered too far from their average which gives them a high degree of reliability.

Now let's look at Cyprus, their average was 9.64%, but their Facebook average was 5.52%, Twitter was 7.07%, YouTube was 15.92% and Instagram was 10.05%. So their stats, despite being higher overall were much more unstable and therefore less reliable than those of Israel, still high enough to be a threat - but enough wiggle room in the uncertainty for Israel to be winning. By the way, who tops the list of unstable stats by this measure? Lithuania and Albania...

These are very simplistic methods that can help you to improve your reading of the stats. People with stats-based backgrounds are probably tearing their hair out right now but I'm trying to explain this in as much of a 'mass-market' way as possible so that it's easy for anyone to pick up. As the site develops we'll be implementing pages that make it clear which stats are more reliable so that you don't have to do the maths.


What We Got Right and Wrong

So with all this in mind, we were able to confidently say that the televote would be between Israel and Cyprus - but we didn't know which. In our previous article we wrote: "...despite all the craziness in the market, it will most likely come down to Israel or Cyprus. We think Israel will have a high jury vote and a medium televote whereas Cyprus will have a high televote and a medium jury vote...", we flipped a coin and guessed Cyprus would win out of the two but in the end, Israel beat Cyprus on both jury and televote.

My personal feeling was that it was Netta's best performance and Cyprus' worst. On that basis and on the stats, I dutched both countries heavily but also made one large bet on Israel that would break-even if Cyprus won. TellyStats ended the night with 3 grand profit, which considering how crazy this year was, we're happy with - though last year we won 15 grand. Austria topped the jury vote, I knew that it'd be decimated in the televote but still put down a little money to reduce my red. Just goes to show that you can spend 2 years developing a site all about stats and still have a moment of weakness...

As for other entrants outside of Cyprus and Israel, we really didn't have much of a clue, Ireland hitting 6/1 was utterly ridiculous and I believe had more to do with punter's panicking and covering yet another red. This kind of FOMO (fear of missing out) is something you see all the time in financial markets, people buying on market movements rather than fundamentals - and fundamentals is what we try to focus on at TellyStats. Norway, missed the mark, Bulgaria had long been dismissed, I think our article on France turned out to be accurate too. Beyond the two frontrunners it felt like a bit of a lottery, very few people would have had money on Austria to place 3rd, even if Cesar does have an excellent voice. I believe around 11 contestants hit 2nd favourite this year, in a field of 26 that's a remarkable event. We predicted in our previous article that Italy was a good bet for Top Big 5 based on it's YouTube video hits - it was a good shout but sadly missed, Italy did beat Germany in the televote, but Germany just topped it thanks to the juries.

Once again, we do have to take the good with the bad. Our stats completely missed the Ukraine, it's YouTube stats are the only reason it has a high average on the table above. I suspect it may be because it was the very first act on and people hadn't opened up Twitter/Facebook etc by that time whereas there's more of a delay with YouTube. Similarly, the stats missed Moldova entirely, it's success may reflect the Westernised social media platforms we monitor. Aside from those two though, everything is broadly in the right place and we have good reason to be pleased.


What Next?

TellyStats has been in (often hurried) development since it's inception, we still consider the stats we show to be 'basic' and the information that we can eventually display with more time is far more accurate than what's currently here. This was the first year though that we went 'mainstream' and people really hit the website, used it as a source of information, referenced it and talked about it in blogs and chatrooms. Our Twitter followers are constantly going up and we suspect things will be even crazier next year too.

For the Eurovision Final we launched Twitter Live stats. They've successfully predicted the winner of every reality TV show since Strictly 2017 and Eurovision was no exception - we do need to work on the back-end of that though to get a larger set of data. We're also going to be launching a few new stats metrics this year including Followers for Twitter/Instagram and Spotify as well a iTunes tracking for Eurovision next year. There's still so much basic work to do on the site such as the Contestants page but please stick with us for other reality TV shows and if not, we hope our website was useful to you and hope to see you again for Eurovision 2019.

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Eurovision 2018: Semi-Final 2 Review

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Fri 11th May 2018 17:49

Pop, rock, country, electronic and more brown envelopes flying about than an explosion at a Royal Mail sorting depot. The second semi final came and went with what we'd describe as mostly-expected results.

The quality of our stats matched those of the previous semi, of the 10 qualifiers across the 4 platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram), the stats correctly had 32/40 qualifiers in the Top 10 for both semis. Not a bad result but there was one big downer for us last night, compared to the first semi. Although we have no control over the numbers on social media, we want to be seen as a place people can go for quality info and to make money rather than lose it - so we'll explain why we were unsatisfied below. First, let's take a quick look at our results:


How Did We Do?
Facebook Likes Twitter Likes Youtube Views Instagram Likes
Australia
Norway
Hungary
Ukraine
Slovenia
Sweden
Moldova
Denmark
The Netherlands
Serbia
All stats from the 30 minute scale.

On the face of it, pretty good, 6 contestants qualified across all platforms with another 2 contestants qualifying on 3 out of 4. Right now, Twitter is leading in terms of accuracy having correctly predicted 9/10 qualifiers in both semis now. This is followed by Facebook which correctly predicted 9/10 in the first semi and 8/10 in the second.


What We Got Right and Wrong

Considering this is a semi-final with a bunch of ex-Soviet countries it's probably an achievement we managed to predict so many correctly, though to be fair, Georgia, Russia and Romania were so terrible that no amount of bribery could get them over the line this year. A big deal was made about Russia's qualification record but we weren't concerned, the stats had Julia way down the bottom, the only exception was YouTube which - as we mentioned in a previous article - we suspect was more 'car crash' viewers than people watching for pleasure.

Many Eurovision pundits were also dismissive of Australia's chances, while Jessica's vocals weren't fantastic, she had a strong showing across the stats and was our biggest winner. For reasons outside of the performance, there was always a decent chance Australia would make it to the final. Norway, despite giving an solid performance and also progressing, was still a disappointment for it's backers according to the stats, nowhere near the top of any of the tables - and certainly not justifying it's then-second favourite position in the market. Norway went from 7.4 to a high of 32.

We'd written on another forum that we suspected Slovenia's technical 'fail' might fool enough people into giving them a sympathy vote - coupled with an excellent running order slot they just about managed it. The big mystery for us was Serbia's qualification, maybe our ignorant Western ears don't hear what the Balkanites hear as for us it was as dreadful as ever. Indeed we have to eat our words when in our review of the song we said that "if this song was the only performance at Eurovision the judges would sooner toss the trophy into the crowd than award it to this mess". Clearly we got that wrong...our unsubstantiated suspicion is a few brown envelopes were strategically gifted from the Serbia delegation.

As in the last semi-final, there was one result that got us down and this time it was Poland, qualifying in all of our stats platforms and top of the table on Facebook (that one hurt the most and the main reason we weren't as satisfied as we could have been last night). We thought the performance was pretty good and had placed a decent bet on them progressing but started to get cold feet and lay it off a little. We ended up breaking-even on the night as a result of Poland not qualifying. We suspect they were top 10 in the televote but were brought down by the jury votes. There may have been a few people who were caught out by Poland's non-qualification so apologies to anyone who came undone like we did on the stats. As an aside, Malta got an excellent Facebook result but bombed everywhere else - as to an explanation for that one we have no idea, maybe just an anomaly.


Big 5 + Portugal
YouTube Views YouTube Likes
Spain 46,278 4,975
Italy 21,194 1,939
France 16,900 1,548
Portugal 9,060 852
Germany 6,594 862
United Kingdom 3,288 318
All stats from the 1 hour scale.

Before we talk about the final, these are the YouTube stats for the Big 5 + Portugal. As mentioned in our previous article, Spain has a strong showing on these stats but we're starting to suspect that diaspora is playing a big part in them. Couple that with the fact they're singing 2nd in the final means we have to (reluctantly) write-off their chances.

The result that surprised us was Italy, beating France and Germany despite them being 3rd and 4th favourites in the market right now (not that that means much, most entrants have been 3rd or 4th favourites by this point...). Furthermore, Italy have taken the very last slot in the running order whereas France and Germany perform right in the middle of the final. This in my mind makes Italy a decent bet for Top Big 5.


What Next?

First off, this needs to be made absolutely clear - there are plenty of cocky and dismissive people in this space and many of them will confidently say that country X will win - they're lying and should be treated with suspicion. This market has to be the most erratic ever seen in Eurovision - anyone placing big money on short-priced favourites has been burned badly this year. Punters getting burnt only serves to make the market more erratic as they then pile onto the next hyped country in an attempt to recover their losses - only for the cycle to repeat. This is why we suspect many of the acts at the top of the market aren't there out of merit, but out of punter's panic.

We've not had any serious money in the Outright yet and we don't have any particular affinity to any song or country so we reckon our predictions are about as objective as you'll find anywhere. Our suspicion is that despite all the craziness in the market, it will most likely come down to Israel or Cyprus. We think Israel will have a high jury vote and a medium televote whereas Cyprus will have a high televote and a medium jury vote - it wouldn't surprise us if the result is a close one. You're out of luck if you want to wait for either of their stats to come in on the night, both Israel and Cyprus perform late in the show so you'll have the 10 - 20 minute stats available at best (that is, if you're a registered user). At a stretch we think Cyprus will get a greater share of the jury vote than Israel will get of the televote, Cyprus' semi-final numbers have also been stronger than Israel's on all metrics which suggests this is likely to be true. Our best guess for now is that Cyprus wins.

Our advice to you would be to not get too invested in the Outright market and instead target the Top 10 and Top 5 markets. The stats are likely to be too close to call for Israel and Cyprus in the final either way. You should be able to get a reasonable indication of whereabouts countries have placed by analysing the stats and focus your efforts in making money on the Top X markets instead.

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Eurovision 2018: Semi-Final 1 Review

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Wed 9th May 2018 17:21

What a night for Eurovision, one of the toughest semi-finals ever and some interesting results. In this article we'll try to dissect what happened and where we go from here, who do we think won the semi and did we see the grand final winner perform last night?

We were a little preoccupied at the start of the semi frantically fixing the Instagram stats which had died sometime over the past week so I couldn't get a few of the less-than-30-minute stats on the site immediately - we still have the raw data though so will populate the Instagram table soon with all the results. Overall though, we were pleased with how things went. On the 30 minute scale TellyStats got 9/10 qualifiers on the Facebook and Twitter stats, 8/10 on the Instagram stats and 6/10 on the YouTube stats.


How Did We Do?
Facebook Likes Twitter Likes Youtube Views Instagram Likes
Cyprus
Israel
Czech Republic
Estonia
Bulgaria
Lithuania
Finland
Austria
Albania
Ireland
All stats from the 30 minute scale.

These aren't necessarily the best stats to use, for example I personally prefer YouTube Likes over Views as it takes a tiny bit more interaction and commitment from someone to hit the 'Like' button on a YouTube video than it does to simply watch it. Anyway, TellyStats always has to emphasise, stats are a guideline, they're an accessory, not gospel - you get a general idea of our successes and failures from the table above.


What We Got Right and Wrong

No surprises for the top 5, Cyprus, Israel, Czech Republic, Estonia and Bulgaria - most people were confident they'd progress, top 10 on all 4 platforms it wasn't difficult to bag yourself an easy 5% - 15% return on your cash. The bigger issue lay in identifying value in the rest of the entrants, too many potential qualifiers vying for too few qualification spots.

Lithuania were top 10 in all platforms which gives a high (but not absolute) degree of certainty - either way it had us piling onto it's "To Qualify" odds. We'd found the music video boring and like most Eurovision pundits didn't even have it classed as borderline, but last night's semi was proof of how important context is when reading stats. The staging, what a masterclass - no frills, lots of close-ups and very intimate. Couple that with excellent stats results and it was our biggest win of the night, who'd have thought?

Similarly with Finland, there had been positive reports flying around about the jury performance, when Finland hit top 10 on three of the stats platforms, it was time to stick some cash on it. Finland didn't fall below 1.75 on Betfair to qualify, closing at around 1.9. Same with Albania, it was at 4.5 to qualify when the market closed - in the top 10 on two platforms on the higher end of the tables. We threw some speculative cash at it at around 4.6 and were pleasantly surprised.

The big shock of the night though was Ireland, our review was generally positive, noting that on a personal level we hoped it would progress (but it was doubtful). Again staging came through for them, we thought they'd play it safe and have a male-female couple dancing on stage, but kudos to them for going with male-male, forcing non-progressive Europe to suck it up. Along with Cyprus, the gays came out in force for Ireland.

We can't just extol our good results, Greece was top 10 on all platforms and crashed out. We'd backed them to qualify but bailed for a small loss pre-show after reading too many negative reports of the jury performance on our News page. There was no choice but to be skeptical about Greece after that. Greece gave a not-great performance but went on to get high stats figures anyway - this is a classic sign that stats are being misrepresented, now we know for sure that Greece has an active diaspora online that will go crazy on social media for even a poor performance. On the flipside, Lithuania and Albania exceeded it's low pre-show expectations and got high stats figures to back it up, this is when you should be backing them as it's the epitome of value.


What Next?

Let's start with the top of the market, only 1 of the 5 'big' acts met expectations and that was Cyprus, all others fell short and their odds drifted as a result. We see this all the time in reality TV such as Strictly Come Dancing with your Danny Mac's and your Natalie Gumede's - if you're incredible, you have to be incredible every time, the only other direction is down - and that's what happened to Israel, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Estonia. We did say you had to have your head examined backing Israel at 3.00, the market now has them at 7.6. This isn't to say they're out of the running but the performance needs work, the fake-looper we highlighted was also an issue.

Cyprus was the big story of the night though, topping 3 of our stats platform tables it almost certainly won the semi (unless that Greek diaspora gave them a boost too - which is possible). We got a bit of triumphant abuse from Cypriots on Twitter as Cyprus approached favourite in the market for our review of 'Fuego' but we stand by it - of the staging, dancing and the song itself, the song is the worst of the three. The pyro effects and the Beyonce-dancing are the real selling point of this track, reading through Facebook comments suggests this is the general consensus too. Do we think it'll win? The honest answer is we don't know, it likely won the semi so it stands a decent shot but the best move would be to wait to see the stats during the grand final before placing a significant position - that's what we'll be doing anyway. In our opinion, it'd be a sad sight to see Salvador Sobral, who famously used his victory speech last year to implore Europe to ditch plastic pop - handing over the trophy to Cyprus.

The grand final results for the rest of the entrants are fairly clear cut, Ireland, Albania and Austria well into the right-hand side of the results table with Finland still on the right-hand side but probably somewhere between 14th - 17th. The first-half of the grand final is going to be a slow-song snoozefest but Lithuania is one of the few slow songs that does actually succeed in hitting you in the feels, so possible a top 15 result for them. From this semi, only Israel and Cyprus have a chance at winning, the rest will be spread around the top 10.

Before we talk about the next semi, let's touch on the Big 5, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom performed last night. Portugal and the UK's chances can be ignored. We can reveal though that Spain's YouTube video of the performance got 46,278 views and 4,975 Likes in 1 hour. This is more than Israel but less than Cyprus on both measures. However Spain's performance wasn't aired on TV which makes the comparison more difficult. It fits with Spain's good YouTube stats for it's second rehearsal and it's official video though. Either they're a contender, or the Spanish diaspora is coming out to boost their numbers too. Time will tell.

In terms of the next semi, Rybak for Norway is an excellent performer and, unlike some other frontrunners, will live up to that expectation on the night (and likely take the win). We're also pretty confident Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden and Australia will progress. Sweden at 1.04 is a lay for us to back again at a higher price on the night (maybe around 1.15). We had a speculative bet on Slovenia to qualify at decent odds but don't hold out much hope. Beyond that we're hoping that the sheer number of supposed no-hopers in this semi means the stats reveal some juicy value. Make sure you're here at TellyStats.com on Thursday night.

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Eurovision 2018: Second Rehearsal Stats Analysis

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Mon 7th May 2018 14:08

People often try to analyse social media stats to gain an advantage in betting markets, or just to see how their favourite contestants are doing. However, the stats can often be misleading if this is done manually. Take YouTube for example, a video uploaded 25 hours ago and a video uploaded 47 hours ago will both have Uploaded: 1 day ago under the listing, despite one video having been up for almost double the time.

TellyStats takes a different approach by collecting social media stats at exact times using automated scripts. This ensures that if we want the metrics of a video 24 hours after it was uploaded, we get those metrics right down to the second, this eliminating confusion and bias.

We analysed each country's Second Rehearsal YouTube video and took stats exactly 24 hours after the upload time and found some interesting results that are worth sharing - particularly if you're betting on these markets. These are untested stats, the first time we've taken them so it's up to you to decide if you want to take action based on the results.

We took the Views, Likes and a Combined total (which is Views * Likes, the result is then divided by 100,000 for legibility). We also included Dislikes just for fun, they're not so relevant as Eurovision is a positive vote event, effectively you're voting to save a contestant, not eliminate but worth adding just to see. Click on the column headers to snap the data into descending order.


Semi Final 1
Views Likes Combined* Dislikes
Cyprus 272,736 7,767 21,183 770
Israel 270,385 6,396 17,293 3,784
Greece 208,242 6,337 13,196 861
Czech Republic 142,625 3,934 5,610 953
Estonia 116,962 4,561 5,334 716
Azerbaijan 100,038 4,807 4,808 543
Croatia 130,245 3,584 4,667 526
Bulgaria 111,061 3,994 4,435 819
Belarus 102,081 3,681 3,757 938
Finland 118,941 3,073 3,655 777
Lithuania 90,220 3,229 2,913 494
Albania 78,461 2,818 2,211 440
Belgium 89,450 2,414 2,159 4,208
FYR Macedonia 98,706 1,936 1,910 1,745
Ireland 61,542 2,875 1,769 386
Austria 65,034 2,038 1,325 536
Switzerland 54,735 2,379 1,302 224
Armenia 60,367 2,064 1,245 644
Iceland 55,088 1,281 705 663
* Combined Totals are: Views * Likes the result is then divided by 100,000 for legibility.
Semi Final 1 Analysis:
  • The most obvious result is that Cyprus has beaten Israel on all metrics. The Views are actually very close but it only serves to highlight that Israel only got 82% the Likes of Cyprus. Take a look at Israel's Dislikes too.
  • Belgium's surprisingly poor results, both Views and Likes are outside the Top 10 and to top it off, it got the highest number of Dislikes. In fact, it has the second highest ratio of Likes:Dislikes of all stats in this article (behind Russia). This strongly suggests that Belgium are in serious trouble for qualification and the value may lie in Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia and Lithuania - particularly as FYR Macedonia is currently 8/1 to qualify.
  • Viewers aren't impressed with what they've seen from Bulgaria's rehearsal footage and it suggests that the critique of the staging being too dark and disconnecting may have some merit.
  • We tipped Greece as a contender in our review and the strong showing seems to suggest there may be something behind it, it's even smashed the Czech Republic's stats despite how much of a favourite it is.
  • Switzerland's "To Qualify" odds plummeted recently from 4/1 now at evens, these stats suggest that it's as unpopular as ever. Similarly Armenia and Austria backers have cause for concern.

Semi Final 2
Views Likes Combined* Dislikes
Ukraine 119,300 5,963 7,114 438
Moldova 85,713 4,195 3,596 1,021
Poland 96,274 3,608 3,474 669
Russia 119,354 2,131 2,543 4,685
Sweden 90,951 2,636 2,397 1,777
Norway 88,142 2,304 2,031 2,479
Slovenia 70,598 2,435 1,719 374
Australia 76,450 2,014 1,540 1,370
Malta 68,721 2,189 1,504 539
Denmark 59,709 2,211 1,320 378
Latvia 63,331 1,928 1,221 418
Hungary 54,086 2,247 1,215 766
The Netherlands 62,953 1,818 1,144 827
Romania 53,754 1,969 1,058 532
San Marino 56,803 1,736 986 757
Serbia 55,978 1,670 935 584
Montenegro 34,602 1,216 421 400
Georgia 34,681 1,113 386 642
* Combined Totals are: Views * Likes the result is then divided by 100,000 for legibility.
Semi Final 2 Analysis
  • The most obvious thing here is how utterly terrible the stats are compared to the first semi. It almost looks like a mistake, but no, all the stats were taken in the same way after an exact 24 hours had passed. So what happened?
  • The frontrunners are supposed to be Norway, Sweden, Australia and The Netherlands. All 4 countries' rehearsals disappointed viewers, as evidenced by the high Dislike count on all of them and the video comments. Norway actually got more Dislikes than Likes. Reading the comments on Norway's video suggests that outside the Eurovision bubble, this shouldn't be anywhere near 2nd favourite to win.
  • More evidence that the stats aren't wrong is that the second and third tier competitors weren't affected, they all got the stats counts you'd expect - this has allowed Moldova and Ukraine to present themselves as potential contenders to win this semi. Ukraine has the last slot in the running order with an energetic routine and the highest stats and Moldova has a great staging concept.
  • Russia received the highest proportion of Dislikes than any act this year, it's high View count could either be because of the high Russian diaspora - or it could be people looking for 'car-crash' viewing. This is an example where context matters, I think this is car crash viewing.
  • Could Slovenia actually qualify? Their "To Qualify" odds are currently 11/2, the YouTube video comments are universally positive - and Slovenia sing second-to-last. Surely worth a gamble.

Big 5 + Portugal
Views Likes Combined* Dislikes
Spain 196,976 21,927 43,191 1,299
France 100,799 3,387 3,414 670
Italy 90,758 3,807 3,455 721
Germany 66,855 2,686 1,796 387
Portugal 74,041 2,349 1,739 512
United Kingdom 69,862 2,073 1,448 487
* Combined Totals are: Views * Likes the result is then divided by 100,000 for legibility.
Big 5 + Portugal Analysis:
  • I questioned in our review if punters had taken their eye off the ball with Spain in favour of other acts that released their songs later on and these stats suggest this may be the case. They've smashed the Likes count (which are arguably the more important metric) of all other countries in the competition, the nearest competitor, Cyprus only got 35% the number of Likes despite having 72% more Views. Spain also require the fewest number of Views for each 1 Like out of all competitors, just 9 Views per Like, it's nearest competitor required 20. Don't forget, the official video for Spain's song also got the second-highest number of Views and Likes after 7 days of all competitors too. Spain currently trades at 94/1 and whether or not you feel that social media stats are worth much, this has to give food for thought, perhaps as a potential back-to-lay at least. Some negatives to this are that the staging is pretty horrendous and they've just drawn a first-half running order for the final.

If you think these numbers are flawed, let's look at another set of data. We took the current market leaders and stuck them into Google Trends - we also included Spain because of the interesting numbers it generated in the YouTube tables. As you can see, searches for Spain have been consistently popular throughout the contest so far, second only to Israel. Cyprus' burst of popularity is a recent phenomenon. There has been a lot of hype for various countries this year, seemingly at random - all of this data may be stripping away hype and showing us where the popularity really lies. Feel free to visit our Google Trends page to play with this a bit more.

Before you go rushing off to gamble your mortgage, a word of caution. Stats here, and anywhere on this site should be read as a general guideline, context is always the most important, unquantifiable metric. This is the first year we've taken Rehearsal metrics so we've no idea yet how/if they correlate to reality. There is generally an incredibly strong and undeniable correlation between social media stats and reality TV results, but you should add a margin-of-error you feel comfortable with. TellyStats monitors various metrics to give as holistic a view as possible - with new metrics coming soon that provide ever more accurate results. As with last year, we'll be monitoring the Semis and the Grand Final of Eurovision live on the night, in such a difficult year to call, you can't afford not to be here.

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Review: Mikolas Josef - Lie To Me - Czech Republic

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Sun 6th May 2018 20:02
TellyStats Rating:

7 Day YouTube Views: 521,028
7 Day YouTube Likes: 13,249

The Czech Republic bring us Lie To Me performed by Mikolas Josef, a tongue-in-cheek and modern pop song with a great trumpet hook - comparable to 2017's Moldova's saxophone hook which worked well for them.

The song is split in 3 parts which repeat throughout the song, Mikolas rapping the verses, the 'Lie To Me' refrain and the trumpet hook. All of them work well in their own way and the trumpet makes the song instantly accessible and recognisable - even for viewers that don't speak English, it's a satisfying part of the song to bop along and listen to. The rapped segments are a little hard to follow because it flows rather quickly and is full of yoof lingo but the subject matter of the song is that Mikolas is telling his girl he knows she sleeps with other guys but it turns him on to have her lie to him about it. A cuckold's anthem really.

Lie To Me was originally was much more explicit but has been toned down for Eurovision, in fact not just the lyrics but even the staging has been toned down after a few somersaults too many sent Mikolas to hospital. This does lower the energy ever so slightly because Mikolas is forced to be a little more stationary than her was during his previous performances - he now delegates somersaults to his dance crew. Saying this, it's still high-energy and should be a good watch. Mikolas is a handsome young man and has the standard teenage girl fanbase which he mostly shares with Alekseev of Belarus.

In terms of negatives, the style of song doesn't fit the mould of a usual winner and hype for the song has died down in the last week or so. The rap sections work great for us English-speakers but to the rest of Europe it might be fairly meaningless, especially as there's no backing tune during those segments. The official music video is slickly produced and has a high number of hits - the transition from rapped music video with editing and music balancing may not translate quite so well live.

Saying that though, we expect the Czech Republic to do well - but not win. It was 2nd favourite in the betting markets for a long time but has yielded ground to Norway and Cyprus since. It's YouTube stats are in the higher ranges but beaten by enough other songs to suggest it doesn't pose a threat to take the contest this year. Mikolas performs in the first half of the competitive first semi final but shouldn't have any problems, despite being on early and just before Israel in the running order. We predict a 3rd - 6th place for the Czech Republic in the final.

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Review: Netta - TOY - Israel

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Sat 5th May 2018 23:39
TellyStats Rating:

7 Day YouTube Views: 4,997,180
7 Day YouTube Likes: 137,151

Ree! Ouch! Heh! Hmm! Lah! Within the first 3 seconds, Israel's song Toy has already grabbed your attention - it stands an excellent chance of winning too.

The lyrics, pace and dance routine are unique, inventive and multi-layered - each segment fits and eventually builds to an energetic finale, there's clearly been a considerable sum thrown at this song to bring it together. Netta herself is a force to be reckoned with, an experienced performer and hugely popular in Israel. Much of the song has Netta clucking and dancing like a chicken which has been a point of debate within the Eurovision community - does it add to the song or just look a bit naff? Will viewers get it? I personally think it simply adds another level of uniqueness to an already strong entry.

Toy plays to a few key demographics, beyond the 'noises' Netta makes, the very first lyrics are "Look at me, I'm a beautiful creature", followed later by "Wonder woman don't you ever forget, you're divine and he's about to regret". Repeating to oneself that you're beautiful and perfect - even if the medical and physical evidence suggests otherwise is very much in vogue right now. The song is on board with the female empowerment angle and is also pretty camp with an air of 'I am who I am' which may play well with Eurovision's sizeable gay viewership too (though that rug seems to have been swept out from under Netta's feet by Cyprus).

In terms of negatives, Netta could come across a little aggressive, however this remark has generally come from Eurovision pundits largely made up of men, other demographics may disagree. Netta originally started her song using a looper which Eurovision have now said she can't use, it's been replaced by backing vocalists instead which for me ruin the effect - especially as she now pretends to play a looper even when it's clearly not being used.

Toy has been at the head of the betting markets since it's reveal, currently under 3/1. In a field of 43 with plenty of unknowns, anybody backing Israel at that price needs their head examined - even if they genuinely think it's the best song, it's simply too low and we've seen many short-priced favourites turned over in the final when it didn't come together as well as it should (see Italy 2017). Saying that though, Toy's YouTube stats are ridiculously high, 5 million views and over 100,000 likes in 7 days blows everyone else out of the water. If you'd wanted to back Israel though, the time to do it has passed and you might as well just wait for the grand final and hope that you can get in bigger, if it all. Israel sings in the first half of the second semi-final, it's guaranteed to qualify but the hype right now is on Cyprus - could there be an upset if it wins instead of Israel?

For me, this is a Top 3 finisher but like many of the songs at the top of the market, there are niggling doubts as to whether or not it can win. Much of this year's Eurovision will come down to how the song comes across on-screen particularly in contrast to the slick music videos. Where the markets are now, I'd sooner back other contestants at bigger prices than Israel and hope they come in during the finals.

4 Comments

Review: Elina Nechayeva - La Forza - Estonia

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Fri 4th May 2018 20:13
TellyStats Rating:

7 Day YouTube Views: 579,303
7 Day YouTube Likes: 10,002

Estonia's 2018 Eurovision entry is Elina Nechayeva with La Forza, our only operatic song in this year's competition.

Well, it's more like mass-market opera, most recognise the quality of opera and the immense skill it takes to sing it, but it's a rather inaccessible genre to the layman, Estonia have taken the best bits of opera and added a pop element, particularly when the beat kicks in. Some people think this 'popera' element will damage Estonia's chances, I see it as an improvement.

The melody of La Forza progresses in a predictable way, the chorus is easy to latch onto and some of the high notes are incredible, 10 out of 10 for Elina's singing ability. The question is: Can it win Eurovision? I believe it stands a very good chance indeed

Opera has had mixed results in recent years but there have been some results which mean this can't be ruled out. Il Volo tend to be referred to the most as an operatic song that prove Estonia's entry can't win. I disagree, Il Volo was 3 men singing what I regard as a rather mediocre song and still won the televote, this is a solo woman singing an entirely different song in a different style, yes they're both opera but aside from that they're hardly comparable. I regard 2018 as a rather weak year with plenty of very beatable songs, Estonia's entry is one to watch for the win.

The main criticism some will level at the song is that it leaves them cold, but I think that will be offset by the number of people who recognise the skill of the singer, the USP and memorability of the song and those that are moved by the tone of the melody.

Furthermore, after some doubts whether or not they could afford it, Estonia have managed to scrape the money together for an eye-catching staging setup. Opera like this generally demands a stationary singer so they're using a projected light effect on Elina's oversized dress spread around her. I think it really adds to the performance and makes it more impactful.

Estonia probably spent the most time as 2nd favourite in the betting markets, occasionally switching with Bulgaria and the Czech Republic but currently superceded by France and incredibly, Norway. La Forza for me is a Top 5 finisher. Despite singing in the strong first semi-final, Eleni's progression from the semi-finals is all but guaranteed and the market knows it. At 11/1 in the market, I'd sooner put my money on this than Israel at 2/1.

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Review: Madame Monsieur - Mercy - France

Event: Eurovision 2018  Category: Eurovision  Published: Fri 4th May 2018 20:13
TellyStats Rating:

7 Day YouTube Views: 267,317
7 Day YouTube Likes: 8,139

Based on the plight of a newborn refugee, France present Mercy, named after the child. The song highlights the tragedy and suffering of those escaping the poverty and strife of their home countries by attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The music video features (predominantly white) people representing refugees walking around major European cities in life-vests and foil hypothermia blankets. The obvious implication is that these people could be any of us and we should extend our sympathies - as of course we should.

Unable to stomach singing in English, the song is in French. The first and obvious problem arises in the fact that the baby the song is written about is named "Mercy", now, if you're unaware of the inspiration behind this song (which is 99% of the Eurovision audience), you'll simply think this song is saying "thank you" over and over. Unlike Italy with it's aggressive anti-war tone, France could be really be singing about anything. It's likely France will attempt to get the message across by showing images of refugees, but will that help? I really think a French person singing a song with an emphasis on the word "Mercy" is a problem...

As for the song itself, the first three quarters are good, the verses build into a pleasing and catchy chorus. However it's always most important to finish on a high - France fail to do this in the final quarter of the song. I found the change in tone and quality quite jarring with the lyrics basically just the word "Mercy" repeated for 30 seconds. Overall though it's a decent song but there are doubts as to whether it will really stand out at Eurovision - stick this song just before Hungary or Norway in the running order and then ask the Eurovision audience which song they still remember by the end of the night.

Mercy had an initial run of hype which died down only to resurface later, they're now 3rd in the betting markets. I for one am a little perplexed at this, 90% of this song is the message and 90% of the audience either won't understand that message or perhaps won't even agree with it. Again, let's not get lost in our Western bubble, there are plenty of places in Europe not nearly as progressive as we are who may not be on board with the pro-African refugee message.

This song for me is the big false favourite, lacking the punch of Israel and the Czech Republic, the quality of Estonia, the Disney-esque mindless-happiness appeal of Norway - it just doesn't fit. Mercy is currently considered 3rd most likely to win the entire contest, I don't see it happening, France's YouTube hits have also been dismal compared to other songs in the top 10. On purely a musical level, what a poor year it'd be if this song went on to win.

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