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Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #8 Written by on May 3, 2019 | 14 Comments

Just before the start of rehearsals, it’s our final regular episode of Juke Box Jury for 2019. Six songs waiting for the hits, misses, and maybes, to be given out. To listen to the ESC Insight podcast online, add the RSS Feed to your favourite podcast application, or click here to follow us in iTunes and never miss an episode.

Just before rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 begin,  it’s time to finish up the 41 and give out a last set of hits, misses, and maybes before Tel Aviv calls.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #8
with Ellie Chalkley and Matthew Ker.

Estonia: Storm, by Victor Crone.
Portugal: Telemóveis, by Conan Osiris.
Netherlands: Arcade, by Duncan Laurence.
Latvia: That Night, by Carousel.
North Macedonia: Proud, by Tamara Todevska.
San Marino: Say Na Na Na, by Serhat.

With rehearsals starting this weekend, stay up to date with all the Eurovision discussions by listening to the ESC Insight podcasts. You’ll find the show in iTunesGoogle Podcasts, and SpotifyA direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (facebook.com/ewanspence).

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14 responses to “Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #8”

  1. Chance says:

    Estonia – Not Stig’s best work. “A storm like this can break a man like this” is pure garbage. Bad MelFest Reject. – MISS

    Portugal – Minority opinion, I don’t like it. It’s aggressively discordant. It feels like the weird art kid in your class standing jumping up in the hall and screaming “hey look at me, I’m the weird art kid, is that do interesting and arty?” – MISS

    Netherlands – My first reaction wasn’t positive. It felt like the Dutch trying to out Belgium Belgium. It’s very RTBF of late. But then I listened a few more times and I fell in love. It’s not my favorite this year but it’s there about. – HIT

    Latvia – I really enjoy this song but it’s absolutely a no hoper. – MISS

    North Macedonia – Tamara has the power and control to blow this out of the water. But it’s Macedonia so there’s no reason to have hope they’ll get the staging to help it. But I want it to qualify, it should qualify. It’s got the quality to qualify. – MAYBE

    San Marino – I genuinely, unironically, no winks, nods, or chuckles LOVE this song. Serhat has charisma. The song is catchy. And Christer gave it a boost as the semi closer. It MUST qualify. San Marino’s best result incoming. – HIT

  2. Harriet Krohn says:

    Estonia: MISS
    This is very lame in almost all areas. Usually I think (and say) that you as native English speakers tend to overestimate the importance of lyrics, because most other people out there will not even understand them (listening to a new song once usually is not enough for a non-native speaker to understand lyrics completely), but … “a storm like this can break a man like this” is so clear and sooo bad that I can’t overlook it. What were they thinking?! Funnily, nobody mentioned that Victor Crone is Swedish and has no connection to Estonia whatsoever. I seriously hope this won’t make it to the final, so that Estonia learns from it and does better next year, because I want to be rooting for them.

    Portugal: MAYBE (personal MISS)
    Oh well. I think it’s great that an unusual and creative song like this is participating, and I applaud the Portuguese audience for going for it – you couldn’t get such a song through in Germany, ever. But … I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy listening to it. It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t vote for dancing. It will qualify, but I don’t think it’ll make a big impression score-wise on the Saturday. I am all for brave choices and creativity and diversity, but please let this not be the future of Eurovision – it’d be too much.

    Netherlands: MAYBE
    Doesn’t do it for me either. Once again I’m surprised at who the clear favourit is, because to me this is nothing more than one of many nice songs. I never get goosebumps from it, but I’ll admit I’ve never seen a live version and I’m not ruling out that Duncan could get me then … but I doubt it. This is like Bulgaria 2017 for me – lots of people loved it and it did really well, but I found it relatively boring and never listened to it again after the contest. I can appreciate that it is a good song and if it won, I’d be fine with it, but it’s not a song that stands out for me.

    Latvia: MISS
    Nice song, but so uncompetitive. It’s wonderful background music, creates a lovely atmosphere, the singer’s voice is very pleasant … but then nothing happens. It goes on for three minutes, but is bascially done after one minute and a half. I cannot for the life of me imagine a path to the final for Latvia, this is just filler material.

    North Macedonia: MAYBE
    I quite like it. Maybe it’s bit overwrought, but I could imagine it resonating better with an Eastern audience than a Western one. Still, given Macedonia’s track record of botched stagings, it is not a certain qualifier.

    San Marino: HIT
    Yay! So much fun! It’s a party and everyone’s invited. There’s no super important message, not even a story other than “let’s dance and have a good time, forget about the dark world outside for three minutes”. While I don’t particularly want to be susceptible to such escapism, I can’t really help it – I’m having fun with Serhat and I’m not ashamed of it. He said he wrote the song while walking through the streets of Cologne in 5 minutes and you can hear it, but who cares. Okay, the juries might, fair enough, but I don’t think San Marino has never deserved a place in the final more than this year, and their last place in the running order might just do the trick for them.

  3. Hans says:

    Let me premise this with the fact that I adore escinsight, I adore Juke Box Jury more than life itself, and I find Ewan to be the most entertaining host around. That said, though, this particular Juke Box Jury forces me to ask the question: do you guys even like pop music? I mean, sing along, feel, good, feel sad, pop music? Because I cannot fathom, in a billion years, how someone can say meh to Netherlands and YES!!! to the weirdo from Portugal? That to me is wishful thinking that the contest will become the Guggenheim and not Madame Tussaud’s. I honestly can’t understand why anybody in their right mind would travel all the way to Tel Aviv with such an unrealistic view of popular music. Sobral’s song two years ago was not Eurovision pop either, but it was understandable to anyone. As one of your jurors admitted, this year’s Portuguese entry is “art.” Well, so is Mapplethorpes crucifixion in a glass of piss, apparently, or goldfish in a blender, but I ain’t salivating at the thought of either. I know Graham Norton will make fun of this – and I will get mad when he does – but just like the Russian grannies baking bread, this will make the non-Eurovision fan go “there they go again.” Or “What did eff did I just witness?”

    Well, suffice it to say, we’re not watching the same contest. But I’ll continue my support regardless.

  4. ESTONIA:
    Quality —► MISS
    Result —► QUALIFY (then Bottom 13 in the Grand Final)

    In a weak semi final Estonia will qualify. But to me this is Stig Rasta’s worst and most unoriginal composition since 2015’s ‘Goodbye To Yesterday’. Had the latter gotten a better running order, it might even got a TOP 5 placing. Emotionally it working. Estonia drew some inspiration from the Common Linnets staging, but the emotion -and tears- are there. ‘Storm’ however doesn’t got that magical quality. It has a cute singer, wonderful eyes, but not pure sincere warmth. Victor Crone isn’t also the best singer either, and for a song from 2009 (sorry, that’s how it sounds) such aspects become pivotal. It’ll qualify -barely- and will then do nothing.
    .
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    PORTUGAL:
    Quality —► MAYBE / MISS
    Result —► NOT QUALIFY

    Look, I love listening classical music. I live in Gracia in Barcelona which is considered to be the most artsy neighbourhood of Barcelona. Check https://3voor12.vpro.nl/ . Stream some music from there (Rina Mushonga is great). But please guys. This is not the Eurosonic Music Festival (the biggest in Europe). This still is Eurovision. The best and biggest light entertainment tv-show on Earth. But that’s what it is. Conan Osiris is music I need to learn to appreciate, like the more complex works of Rachmaninoff. And that is ultimately also the reason this will fail tremendously. ‘Amar Pelos Dois’, and let’s not forget that, was also a very well-structured song (good easy-to-remember melody with clear chorus-vs-verse structure). That’s not the case with ‘Telemoveis’. And frankly, I go a step further…if RTP keeps sending this music, Eurovision eventually will loose its appeal in Portugal. Just like it did with Finland. One giant radical winner………and then….nothing.
    .
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    THE NETHERLANDS:
    Quality —► HIT
    Result —► QUALIFY (then TOP 3 in the Grand Final)

    Lately, nations like Italy and Sweden are polling a bit better in all those various fan polls (OGAE) and shadow jury’s (EuroJury, ESC-plus). But it was The Netherlands who managed to rise straight to the top of the betting odds after people listened to it for the first time. And therefore Netherlands is thé contender for their 5th Eurovision victory. I agree with Ewan that Netherlands hasn’t got as strong as a backstory as previous Eurovision winners. But to me, to win, those 3 min emotions are what really count. Whether it’s Verka’s and Netta’s anarchistic fun and craziness that bright joy and smiles on people’s face, or Jamala’s and Marija’s appeal for tears -and they seriously caused goosebumps- these emotions worked. From the three real contenders for the crown -Italy, Sweden and The Netherlands-, the latter two fall in that category for me. There’s no backstory needed for that. Or is it in the case of Duncan those YouTube reaction video’s where most of them got teary eyes or showed off their goosebumps?
    .
    .
    LATVIA:
    Quality —► MISS
    Result —► NOT QUALIFY

    A nice gentle song. And some people compare it even with ‘Calm After The Storm’. But that one to me is still superior to ‘That Night’. The Latvian song basically has no bridge at all and continues for the latter 2 minutes with the same chorus on repeat. It becomes……boring. And that’s the pitfall of this entry with otherwise cute staging (at least in the national final). If there is a dark horse for qualification in this semi final, then I would even not think of Latvia. Listen and watch Austria ;-).
    .
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    NORTH MACEDONIA:
    Quality —► HIT
    Result —► QUALIFY (then TOP 13 in the Grand Final)

    Can I say it? Please? I think our dear Macedonians have their best ever Macedonian entry since their first participation in 1998. Tamara and this song ‘Proud’ are made for each other. 100%. She should have sung something like this way earlier. Here her charisma, her emotions come across perfectly. Like Netherlands, this is another entry that works on people’s emotions. There’s a nice bit of #MeToo enlightenment in it as well. It builds up gracefully to a wonderful finish. And actually, to me it works better than Russia’s ‘Scream’. The song is maybe a tad bit old-fashioned, but on the other hand it’s also the most international entry the Macedonians brought to the stage.
    .
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    SAN MARINO:
    Quality —► MAYBE
    Result —► QUALIFY (then Bottom 13 in the Grand Final)

    Ooowh gosh, the years of Baccara and Jane Birkin are back again. Although that was the case in 2016 as well. Though I find this effort from Serhat better, and I think we can expect some magical choreography for this one as well. Will it qualify? I hope so. And I think it can actually. Yes, it’s cheesy and hilarious, but isn’t that something televoters can chew on? It would also be nice to see San Marino back in the Grand Final again after 2014.
    .
    .
    PS: Thanks Ewan and everyone at ESCinsight to really provide us with a different insight on things ;-). Regards, Gert.

  5. Mio says:

    “Telemóveis” is my favorite song this year: I feel it working on many levels and stirring feelings of grief, loss, frustration, and longing.
    I’m thankful for it and really hope it makes the final.

    “Arcade” is a deserving contender to win. It does evoke heartbreak in a universal way. I believe Duncan will bring the feeling of something personal to the performance, but on its own, the song does not feel personal to me.

    Thinking about the connection between artist and song, I think Italy has the most powerful alchemy. “Soldi” feels more deeply personal. Mahmood is telling an evocative and meaningful story in a way the feels connected to his real experiences. If his live performance is as personal and powerful as the song, he could win, and I hope he does.

  6. Eurojock says:

    Estonia – What a bunch of pedants you all are! English is my first language and the lyric makes perfect sense to me. Sure, it’s ‘paint by numbers’ and the juries will hate it. But look at the other side of the coin. The song progresses through the 3 minutes, it has a very interesting structure – pre storm, storm, calm after the storm. It has memorable staging and a rousing chorus. Many elements that may well appeal to a Saturday night audience. It would not surprise me if after a low televote Storm storms (oh sorry I’ve used the same word twice, Matthew, is that allowed?) up the leaderboard into the top 13 and maybe top 10. Rasmussen’s camp Vikings managed it, so why not Victor? MAYBE

    Portugal – At least the panel in its enthusiasm had the presence of mind to notice the many Non Qualification warning flags. Don’t get me wrong, Telemoveis is a wonderful, innovative piece of music which repays many repeated listens. However, if we are honest, the audio version is way better than the national final live performance. If Conan comes to Tel Aviv with that staging, lots of people will be too busy laughing to take the music seriously. And he can’t bank on Eurovision Jurors to save him either. Your typical Eurovision juror will prefer John Lundvik’s polished middle of the road blandness to Conan’s challenging art. The staging needs a serious rethink. Conan needs to stand still and concentrate on hitting the right notes, which as Matthew pointed out he didn’t manage in the national final performance. The dancer should be left behind in Lisbon, leaving the lighting and the LED to emphasise the music. I hope Telemoveis does well, but I fear for it. MAYBE

    Netherlands – Matthew, I had a pop at you over Estonia, but I couldn’t agree more with you over Netherlands. This year’s much vaunted ‘wide open’ contest is only wide open if The Netherlands screw up. If they get the staging reasonably right and Duncan connects with viewers at home, Sergey could bring anti-gravity suction boots and clamber upside down on the ceiling of the Arena this time and Arcade will still win by a margin. HIT

    Latvia – ‘How did this win Supernova?’ The impressive staging perhaps. I love the National Final staging, but not even that is likely to be enough to save Latvia from another NQ. MISS

    North Macedonia – A stock Eurovision anthem that is a bit dated. Nevertheless, the song has something – is it that minor key or the cello interlude – A decent semi draw gives North Macedonia a chance particularly if Tamara just stands there and sings . But then I hear a rumour that North Macedonia has a staging surprise up its sleeve. God help us! MAYBE

    San Marino – Dated Eurotrash number performed by a singer who looks and sings like Telly Savalas. Fans like Ellie and Ewan might love it but juries will ‘skewer it like a Turkish kebab’. The pimp slot gives it a slim chance of qualification. A very weak MAYBE.

    I look forward to your daily podcasts from Tel Aviv.

  7. Lady Alpine Blue says:

    Once again Ewan is so tunnel focused on the tiny details that he can’t see the bigger picture and says something silly like only giving NL a maybe. It’s NL’s to lose at this point. Matthew is spot on.

  8. Kevin says:

    Estonia – I like it and I can see it qualifying but I won’t miss it if it doesn’t. Vocally it’s not all that.
    MAYBE

    Portugal – It’s in my top 15 of the year, but it has been falling back a bit lately. For me it’s a hit, but I fear this might not even qualify.
    MAYBE

    The Netherlands – That’s quite a harsh maybe for a song he said is in his top 6 of the year. After Birds and Calm After the Storm I’ll just add this to the list of competitive Dutch entries that Ewan fails to get 😉 For me it’s the best Dutch entry ever and I will be shocked it this does not finish in the top 3. I can only see this not win if they mess up the staging.
    HIT

    Latvia – It’s not bad if a bit boring. The chorus is a bit too repetitive. It’s not qualifying from this final.
    MISS

    NORTH-MACEDONIA – I loved their last two entries and it will be so upsetting if they do get the staging right for this song. I absolutely hate it. Let Me Love You was much better.
    MISS

    San Marino – It’s fun and I won’t mind it this qualifies. But if he sings like he did at Eurovision in Concert that will surely be a non starter with the juries.
    MAYBE

  9. Ben Pitchers says:

    Estonia: MAYBE. Listening again I like this slightly more than I remembered. The verses are the most interesting part. The chorus is serviceable but bland. I think Stig Rästa probably peaked with Goodbye to Yesterday, which I loved. Victor makes a decent frontman, but isn’t a particularly memorable vocalist or stage presence. I like the visual effect they used at Eesti Laul. Coming after 3 unusual songs and before a further one will help it. This has a good chance of qualifying but I wouldn’t say it’s definite and will probably get lost in the final and come towards the bottom or even risk coming last.

    Portugal: MAYBE. From no risk to all risk! I find this song enjoyable but baffling. It’s one you have to think about a lot in order to get through the opaque lyrics and staging. Maybe the dancer represents his phone and is dead at the end? I’m glad Portugal chose something so daring. Whether or not it can qualify: there’s a possibility but there’s so many what-ifs that it’s hard to predict. Even more so how it would do in the final.

    The Netherlands: HIT. I loved this from the first time I heard it. I particularly enjoy the vulnerability in his voice and this really helps convey the emotion of the song to the listener. I love that he sings the oh oh oh part in different parts of his vocal range. It builds really well and I love the arcade metaphor in the lyrics. If this is staged in an intimate and simple way, so that Duncan can create an emotional connection to the viewer, I think this really does have an excellent chance to win the whole thing.

    Latvia: MISS. I can see what they’re going for, but it’s just too simplistic. It relies heavily on the chorus, which is the least interesting part of the song. The lyrics are just too basic. Also, there’s no development for the last minute. This, for me, is the song most obviously in danger of coming last in SF2. It wouldn’t be the first time for Latvia. I’m surprised it wasn’t given the death slot.

    North Macedonia: MAYBE. The empowerment of women was a very apt choice for a song in 2019. I agree with you about the instructional nature of the imperatives used in the lyrics, but the supportive nature of the other lyrics work well. It all comes down to Tamara, who is a seasoned and respected singer. I remember being impressed by her in the 2015 Macedonian NF. It is quite repetitive, but it does build and the composition is interesting. I find it hard to get wildly excited about. It contrasts with the Netherlands in that it’s more bombastic, but I don’t think it was a good choice for Christer to position it afterwards to make it stand out. I’d love to see North Macedonia qualify; it is possible but the odds are probably stacked against it. With good staging and a stellar performance, this could get enough jury points to sneak into the final.

    San Marino: MAYBE. I didn’t like I Didn’t Know at all, but this is a vast improvement. I like its positive nature and party song feel, even though it borders on being childish (could they not have improved on Say Na Na Na as the refrain?). It does make you smile. I’m still not a fan of Serhat’s talk-singing. He comes across a little creepy to me still, even though by all accounts he seems like a lovely man. It has nothing Sammarinese about it, but San Marino isn’t in the position to demand that when they need someone to foot the bill in order to take part. This definitely has a chance of qualification, and the pimp slot helps. It could do a Belgium 2016 and really benefit from it, even though that was a better song. If it does get through, the chances of it bettering Valentina’s 24th place are good too.

    Enjoy the contest in Tel Aviv! I’m looking forward to your excellent coverage and podcasts.

  10. Mark says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Juke Box Jury. Now it feels like the first stage of the contest is already over.

    Matthew Ker is so completely spot on with his comments about Portugal and the likely reception it will get on BBC TV.

    So I’ve decided that for the first time since the 60s, I won’t listen to the BBC coverage. I’m absolutely certain that Mills or Clark or Norton will sneer at the likes of Osiris, Nemsadze or even poor Roko. So although I may have the pictures on, the sound will be turned down and I’ll be listening through Eurovision.tv or another source.

    And if only someone at the BBC would do something along the lines of RTP.

  11. Shai says:

    Estonia-
    It’s ok. It doesn’t make me bored or angry. It’s pleasant and recognisable but not ground breaking.
    What work for its favour is the fact that it comes between 2 WTF entries and might slip further just because of this factor alone – MAYBE

    Portugal-
    By far, the weirdest song in this year’s line up.
    As a track, this could serve as a fine example for an atypical Eurovision contest. No one will ever believe that this comes from Eurovision and I applaud the effort very much. Hey I might even listen to it beyond Eurovision. However in the context of the contest this is an acquired taste and when you need to to be instantly memorable, this song is just not memorable and if a song should evoke some emotions, this just doesn’t evoke any.
    A song need to be interesting, so I go and search for the meaning of the words I don’t understand. I didn’t bother to check this and I ask myself if any of the casual viewer will even bother to do just that. Not many, I suspect.
    In addition, the performance is just a huge distraction, The male dance takes the attention from the singer,. When he is on stage he becomes the center of attention. 
    In short – nice effort Portugal but with no chance what so ever-MISS(In context of Eurovision)

    Latvia-
    It’s nice bit forgettable. I have nothing to say about this-MISS

    The Netherlands-
    My favourite song in this year.
    I got goose bumps on first listen  and on other listening it brings tears to my eyes.
    It’s very emotional and the emotions are restrained and yet powerful.
    You know the time that you feel so much pain and you go inward and than comes the scream and everything goes out. The verse is when you feel the pain. the chorus is when the scream comes out. However it is a restrained scream that only release part of the pain.
    If they get everything right, this should do very well. And If Beautiful Mess got 2nd in 2017, this – which is more accessible than Beautiful Mess,- should do very well indeed.
    I will be happy if this win-HIT(if it wasn’t obvious by now)

    North Macedonia-
    It’s old fashioned but sometime and old fashioned ballad, sung by a women can work very well in Eurovision context. It’s not ground breaking but the piano lead music is very catchy , emotional and uplifting. They shouldn’t mess the staging and this will go to the final, which is exactly what North Macedonia wants – (a strong)MAYBE

    San Marino-
    Serhat keep venturing in the 70’s Disco sound and this time it’s a better effort than his one from 2016.
    Is it good?-kind of. Is it naff?-absolutely. Can he sing well?not always But it is infectious to the level that he just might sneak in on a better performance on the televotes.
    I suspect that the pimp slot is given because Björkman wants this in the final as a variation in the line up. If the song qualify, it will give San Marino a reason to come back next year – (more) MAYBE/ (than a ) HIT

  12. I love your podcasts but I don’t think that you got what North Maacedonia is trying to do. This one does not want to be an empowering song Rise Like a Phoenix style. Quite the contrary imo, by being in a minor key, ‘Proud’ keeps adding question marks to all the naive empowerment and diversity stuff we are flooded with while the power structures more or less keep in place. In this sense it is a very honest song imo. Tamara tells her message to her daughter but at the same time the whole 3 minutes are overshadowed by second thoughts (the breaks and delays in the composition) and doubts (Tamara going down on proud, proud, proud). It seems as if Tamara doesn’t really believe what she is telling. I find this very touching and relevant, in particular with the conservative backlash we are witnessing in so many countries atm. And the song ends with ‘girl’, just as it started: We are back to square one. Well, perhaps I am overanalyzing and getting carried away being a trained feminist in the history of literature and culture. 🙂

  13. mark dowd says:

    Ewan…I think some clarification needs making to your HIT/MAYBE/MISS classification as to whether it’s a personal taste thing or contest success predictor. I’m sorry, but something as avant garde, high risk and not contest friendly as Telemovéis getting three HITS over and against two HITs for “Arcade” is not at all convincing. I´m leaving this comment after the Portuguese rehearsal where they dressed poor Conan up in that shiny green outfit that had him looking like the triangular choccy in a Quality Street tin. It´s drifted out so much that the bookies have it currently about 12th-13th to qualify. HIT? Three HITS? This is a commercial, popular contest. I´m not saying there is no place for songs like Portugal, but I do think a re-think of the Juke Box Jury criteria are perhaps needed!!

  14. Stephanie Saczawa says:

    Netherlands is a solid HIT for me. I loved it right from the start, in fact no other entry this year really stood out or impressed me until Duncan’s song came along. I can feel the emotion he conveys from start to finish, but it really hits you when that chorus comes in. It’s no wonder why he’s been the favorite for over two months now – he has touched so many people not just in Europe, but around the world.

    To those wondering about why there’s a piano in his staging, he said in his press conference that it takes him back to when he first wrote the song (sitting behind a piano) and he wants to convey those experiences to all of us. He doesn’t need fireworks, dancers, smoke and mirrors, robots and the like – he said himself that he wants the song to be the focus, and a simple, emotional song deserves simple, uncluttered staging. I think it’s going to look amazing on TV, and if the juries and the televoters watching it for the first time feel that same emotion that so many have already experienced, then he’s going to do extremely well. I still believe that he can win the whole thing, and if he’s successful that victory will be so well deserved

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