So, the first semi final is upon us in literally an hour or so’s time. Who is going to make it, and who’s on the next flight out of Copenhagen home? Here’s my two cents on it all…
Undoubtedly Hungary will make it through from the last spot in the semi final. Even if the subject matter of the song still seems like such a bizarre choice for Eurovision, the package is neat enough that I can’t see them not making it. Similarly, despite my earlier protestations, Armenia are also a lock on for the final. Aram hasn’t been flawless, but the song will appeal to some voters and enough of the juries to make it.
Estonia is definitely my dark horse for the semi final and possibly even the whole competition; Tanja sells it perfectly and it differentiates itself from being a “Euphoria-clone” unlike Glorious did last year. And of course, there’s no way that Sweden will miss out on the final. Sanna is just too good for that, and even with an early draw slot in the semi final, there’s no way she’s going to get lost in the pack ala Anna Bergendahl.
Masters of the re-work, Ukraine, have done it again. Whilst the refreshed version of “Tick-Tock” wasn’t to everyone’s liking at first, they’ve managed to put together a strong stage show and Mariya is singing with confidence. With the political situation at the moment too, there’s bound to be a bit more voter apathy towards them too.
Oh, and Azerbaijan. Unfortunately.
Speaking of turning it around for the contest, The Netherlands have worked hard and it looks likely that the Common Linnets will make it two straight years of qualification for the Dutch. Ilse and Waylon own the stage and are seemingly flawless, bringing what is otherwise a fairly tame song to life on camera. All the better to have them in the final again too.
Political climate aside, Russia have just about managed to make “Shine” a palatable enough performance that it’s hard to see the Tolmachevy Sisters not making it through to Saturday night. Expect them to be greeted with boo’s, too.
Oh dear, San Marino. Valentina peaked a year too early with “Vola” and the sympathy towards the returning diva has run dry. “Maybe” is far too much of a “maybe” for anyone to really get behind it; after coming so close last year, it’s common acceptance that San Marino might finish last in this semi final.
They’ll have company with their often voting partner Albania though. Hersi has a great voice, but the song is far too confusing and inaccessible. It’s trying too much in three minutes to be successful and that is it’s huge falling point.
I was very, very tempted to put Latvia in the following group, but whilst “Cake to Bake” is kind of charming in its amateurish presentation, you can’t see where the votes will come to send Aarzemnieki to the final. Latvia have shown in the past few years that they don’t have the voting support and this kitsch type of song has failed for them before. Soggy bottom? Probably.
The Maybe Group:
And this is where it gets difficult. Common belief is that Belgium will have no trouble making it through; Axel wasn’t great in his jury rehearsal though and the entire presentation is so stilted that voters might not see the appeal. He’s probably the safest one of the bunch though.
From the safest to the least likely to make it; Moldova are only here because they’re usually always in the final. If the votes swing their way from the region then they very well might be able to squeak in to the final, though Cristina’s wig-splitting performance of “Wild Soul” is leaving a lot to be desired for a finalist.
Of all the songs, the one I *want* to get through the most is Portugal. It’s a huge injection of fun and it would be lovely to see Portugal get in to the final on their return, sticking to their roots by singing in their native language. Suzy is a wonderfully engaging performer, which she proved at the London Eurovision Party. “Quero Ser Tua” is a huge grower too, but I worry that the juries may have already sunk this one.
Montenegro are another who may benefit from regional support; Sergej is a very good singer, but “Moi Svijet” isn’t the greatest Balkan ballad we’ve had; it’s not even one of the best in the past few years. Still, the juries may have liked his voice and he could be carried through on their strength alone, in an ironic role reversal of Montenegro failing to make it last year. Also, you get the feeling the EBU would like them to succeed at least once.
Finally, Iceland might just strike the right chord with the fans at home with their message of equality. It’s unashamed fun and the group sell it well (much better than Aarzemnieki do with their song, another issue for Latvia). I wouldn’t complain one bit if this made it through.
So – who are my ten? In performance order…
Armenia – Estonia – Sweden – Russia – Azerbaijan – Ukraine – Belgium – Portugal – Netherlands – Hungary
Check back later to see the actual outcome and thoughts on the show!