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Eurovision 2015: Semi-Final 1 – Vienna Preview

With the jury rehearsal out of the way, and with 50% of tonight’s points already allocated, the list of likely qualifiers and non-qualifiers has become somewhat easier to predict. In fact, the market reacted during the first dress rehearsal to the likes of the Netherlands and FYRoM.TH15-1003

Moldova proves to be an explosive start to the show and their qualification chances are further enhanced when you consider Eduard’s ability to pull in support from Ukraine’s diaspora. We should expect plenty of regional love for this song, in addition to support from upbeat loving nations like Greece and Australia. Last year, San Marino qualified from semi-final 1 with just 40 points, and Moldova is well capable of meeting that threshold in this friendly semi provided the juries get behind the song.

Genealogy were expected to be this year’s train wreck, however, they have proved to be one of the more competent packages in this semi. The staging is eye-catching and the six individual personalities have been sympathetically woven together. Armenia also have enough friends to register a decent enough televote and jury score, however, last night’s jury rehearsal did underwhelm, but I think there’s enough to see it squeeze through.

I’ve been complaining about Belgium all week, and while I remain unhappy with the avant-garde staging concept, during last night’s jury rehearsal Loïc gave his strongest performance to date with greater entertainment and less Patrick Bateman-serial-killer stares. Given the contemporary and authentic nature of Rhythm Inside, I think there should be enough support to push Belgium over the line. It’s also worth highlighting that Loïc features in one of the green-room interviews while the voting lines are still open.

Trijntje has now worn a total of four outfits and two eye masks, which illustrates the level of panic in the Dutch delegation. Wedged between Belgium and Finland, Trijntje is fighting for position, and even though she gives a passable vocal performance, the song and staging is now so dull, I seriously can’t make a case for the Netherlands qualifying. Trijntje also dropped a few notes last night. The Dutch autopsy has already begun.

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät at least did everything expected of them when performing Aina mun pitää, although Kari Aalto did roar louder than in previous rehearsals. Even with some politically correct sympathy votes, I still reckon Finland will make an early exit from the Contest, meaning I can get a return on my hefty lay bets. Anything around even money for non-qualification is value! 1.9 available at Boylesports.

_AP50793Other than Russia, Greece offers one of the best visual and vocal displays of the semi-final. Maria gives a virtuoso performance of One Last Breath and has elevated her flat farting tears national final performance well beyond what was anticipated. There is a genuine top-3 finish shout here, provided, as predicted, Estonia fail to attract a high enough televote.

The Estonian package has really come together, but Stig and Elina, acting out their post-argument narrative, struggle to impact as much as both Russia and Greece. The juries will lap it up, but I think Estonia will be third or fourth in the queue for the big points from their region. I still struggle to see them challenging Russia for top spot, or even out scoring Greece and Romania to nail second and maybe third. In 2012, Kuula came fourth in semi-final 2 and that was a more ‘Eurovisiony’ song.

The addition of Blackstreet demoted FYRoM’s entry to an amateurish, incongruous mess. The Romanesque ruins with cascading leaves looks far more impressive than Daniel Kajmakoski jamming with his brotherz from da hood. Even Daniel’s Burberry trench coat upstages him! 1.6 non-qualification is buying money from Boylesport.

Bojana hits the reset button for Serbia, which sends FYRoM spiralling down the memory hole. The performance is amateurish, but it’s a whole lot of fun. The juries could hate it, but they could just as easily overlook the kitsch and reward Bojana for her stratospheric vocals. Serbia could be this semi-final’s party song that everyone gets behind, so I wouldn’t want to oppose qualification.

Hungary brings everyone back to reality with a serious, if not somewhat banal, attempt at reuniting the world. The message and presentation should tick jury boxes, in addition to attracting support from former and current conflict-affected nations.

Uzari is finally delivering a performance worthy of qualification, but with stiff competition for regional votes, in addition to preceding Mother Russia, I have taken the safest route possible and made Belarus a small winner whether they qualify or not. _AP51250

Polina, up to now, has looked and sounded nervous and breathy, but last night her demeanour changed from competitor to outside contender. Russia’s song has found an extra gear and looks like one of the best TV packages this year. Polina also draws you in with her Disney princess looks, and as the song progresses, you can tell she’s enjoying every moment.

Denmark has been yo-yoing in and out of qualification all week. The Way You Are looked the flattest it has all week during the first dress rehearsal, but with the juries watching last night, they took the song to a much higher level that should see them make the final.

Elhaida has looked out of sorts throughout the whole Eurovision season. Despite toeing the PR line that she was happy with her replacement song, I’m Alive, it’s obvious she struggles to perform it live. Add in a lack of conviction to a 50-shades-of-beige backdrop and you have something teetering on the edge of non-qualification. Half of last night’s performance was mediocre, but it was rescued by the big climax notes, which were applauded by the audience. Albania needs to ensure the jury marked the last half of Elhaida’s performance!

Voltaj have been this year’s most consistent performers. Their song, All Over Again, benefits from a strong, moving narrative, which will motivate one of Europe’s largest diaspora populations. It’s a sincere package delivered by a authentic group and likeable frontman. The last shot focusses on a little boy in the green room, which will further cement the song’s narrative. If Russia don’t win this semi-final, I expect Romania to be first in the queue for victory.

Nina Sublati has been ill, and in yesterday’s first dress rehearsal, she lowered the song’s key to avoid aggravating her fading voice. Nevertheless, at last night’s jury rehearsal Nina was much improved. There were still signs that all was not well, but there should be enough support. Georgia are well represented in this semi-final, and in tweeting about her illness, I think the EBU, via the Eurovision.tv account, have made it clear they want Nina in the final. Maybe the juries have been asked to recognise, or at least ignore slight vocal slips.

So just for fun, here’s my list of qualifiers:

  1. Armenia
  2. Belgium
  3. Greece
  4. Estonia
  5. Hungary
  6. Belarus
  7. Russia
  8. Denmark
  9. Romania
  10. Georgia

It’s a very tight semi-final, but there still one or two positions that could turnover a nice profit. The worst thing to would be to chase high prices when it’s clear the jury or televote support won’t materialise. I think the main value in this semi-final exists in laying Finland and backing Belgium and Georgia to qualify. I also recommend backing Romania to win the semi-final 25/1 each way to 3-places with BET365. Greece is also worth a punt to win in the hope of claiming a decent placed return. You can back them at 20/1 from Ladbrokes. If you just want to back the top-3 placed finish, both BETFRED & UNIBET have reasonable prices available.

Please feel free to share your 10 qualifiers in the comments section below.

Enjoy the show… oh and bet responsibly!

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About Gavster

Owner & Chief Editor   I’m a qualified designer and the official geek in the crew, dedicating most of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

22 comments

  1. I do think Serbia will make it if I’m honest. I don’t know if it deserves to or not but I simply can’t see it NOT qualifying.

  2. Armenia
    Belgium
    Greece
    Estonia
    Hungary
    Russia
    Denmark
    Albania
    Romania
    Georgia

    Good luck 🙂

  3. Russia, Estonia, Romania, Greece, Georgia and Belgium I think everyone agrees on. Armenia also is almost there. But the fight for the last three spots is really strong.
    For me it’s Finland, Serbia and Denmark/Albania. (Can’t decide, but it either won’t affect me)

    I just don’t think Hungary is strong enough. And Belarus’s performance is just too bland. But it ain’t over til Bojana sings.

    I just want Trijntje to wear THE dress.

  4. MOLDOVA – too sleazy for Eurovision – NQ
    ARMENIA – song and allies should overcome the stage school presentation – Q
    BELGIUM – compact, contemporary, and different – Q
    NETHERLANDS – staging disaster and repetitive song – NQ
    FINLAND – only a sympathy vote can save it – NQ
    GREECE – rubbish song expertly sold and solid allies – Q
    ESTONIA – not buying the presentation but song strong enough on its own – Q
    MACEDONIA – chorus is good but sunk by cheesy presentation – NQ
    SERBIA – an embarrassment, especially the last minute – NQ
    HUNGARY – stands out as a moment of calm in the carnage – Q
    BELARUS – just enough in the song and chemistry to squeeze this over the line – Q
    RUSSIA – hate the false sentiment, love the delivery (and her) – Q
    DENMARK – catchy, colourful and a late draw should save the Danes bacon – Q
    ALBANIA –dull song, dull presentation, and vocal not great – NQ
    ROMANIA – good song passionately delivered – Q
    GEORGIA – sexy in a good way and will be fine as long as her poorly larynx holds up – Q

    To recap:

    Qualifiers:
    Armenia
    Belgium
    Greece
    Estonia
    Hungary
    Belarus
    Russia
    Denmark
    Romania
    Georgia

    Non-qualifiers
    Moldova
    Netherlands
    Finland
    Macedonia
    Serbia
    Albania

    No doubt I’ll have to come back and eat humble pie tomorrow…

  5. My NQ list in order of confidence:
    1. Finland
    2. Moldova
    3. Serbia
    4. Hungary
    5. Macedonia
    6. Albania

    I still think Netherlands could qualify because I had good impression when I first heard the song. I think the song is sincere and memorable.

    I think Belarus or Netherlands will take 10th place.

    Have a good time watching Eurovision, fellows.

  6. Hi everyone!

    Finally it’s here, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest Vienna 2015!

    This is my top 16 of the first semi-final tonight:

    01. Greece
    02. Russia
    03. Serbia
    04. Estonia
    05. Albania
    06. Romania
    07. Belarus
    08. FYR Macedonia
    09. Georgia
    10. Denmark
    11. Armenia
    12. Netherlands
    13. Hungary
    14. Moldova
    15. Belgium
    16. Finland

    In this semi-final I’ll most likely vote for: Greece, Russia, Serbia, Estonia and Albania.

    Of course I hope that my top 10 qualifies, but I think the following 10 countries will qualify for the final (if that has something to do with the quality of the song or anything else is obviously debatable, but I leave that in the middle ;-)):

    01. Albania
    02. Armenia
    03. Belgium
    04. Denmark
    05. Estonia
    06. Georgia
    07. Greece
    08. Romania
    09. Russia
    10. Serbia

    Let’s see how many countries I correctly predict this time. Last year I predicted 7 out of 10 countries correct.

    Lots of luck to all participants! Do your best and enjoy your moment on stage! Winning is always (a little bit) important, but especially to prove yourself. Don’t forget that all of you are actually already a winner because you have won the right to represent your country at the biggest, most acclaimed, most popular music festival in the world! May the best win! And eventually quality always comes floating to the surface, isn’ it?!

    I’d like to wish everyone who will be watching and will be listening all over the world, lots of listening and viewing pleasure tonight! Enjoy the show, the spectacle, the atmosphere, the magic …!

  7. Armenia
    Belgium
    Greece
    Estonia
    Hungary
    Russia
    Denmark
    Albania
    Romania
    Georgia
    aaaaand….. meh, Finland.

    Good luck to all and enjoy!

  8. Cheers Gav – brilliant coverage. My ten are similar to most though Still debating Finland or Albania. As we stand now I’m going:

    Russia
    Estonia
    Romania
    Greece
    Georgia
    Belgium
    Belarus
    Armenia
    Albania
    Hungary.

    Good luck everyone for tonight.

  9. Reiterating thumbs up for the Five Star Coverage:

    CERTAIN Qs: Russia, Estonia, Romania, Greece, Belgium, Georgia,
    LIKELY: Armenia

    and ANY OF THESE COULD MISS OUT, but final three….HUNGARY, BELARUS and SERBIA.

    I suspect Denmark may win out over Serbia or Belarus, but for a country with such a high pedigree of ESC history, I do think they need a slap across the knuckles for their utterly bland effort in 2015!!

  10. For what its worth, my 10 are:

    Armenia
    Belgium
    Greece
    Estonia
    Russia
    Romania
    Georgia

    Then it gets trickier, but by virtue of being very different to everything else and not a car crash:

    Denmark
    Hungary

    And by default since its less poor than the rest:

    Albania

    Good luck all!

  11. With regards to Albania, I have suspected it might not qualify, and I haven’t seen what you’ve seen, but I do think it’s contemporary enough to get through instead of Eurovisionny, tacky Belarus. The struggles may just be the difference between previously suspected top ten and a bottom ten for Albania this year. I appreciate Belarus’ strengths, but I’ve always found it a bit limp and lame.

  12. Black 'n' Blue15

    After half a year we’ve gone from Lisja esenski to Adio, and now it’s here 🙂
    Cheers Gav for the comprehensive and enjoyable coverage!

    Qualifiers:

    1. Armenia
    2. The Netherlands
    3. Greece
    4. Estonia
    5. Russia
    6. Belarus
    7. Albania
    8. Romania
    9. Denmark
    and Georgia

    Enjoy the shows!

  13. Greece
    Russia
    Serbia
    Estonia
    Albania
    Romania
    Georgia
    Armenia
    Hungary
    Belgium

  14. My top 16 prediction

    01 Russia
    02 Estonia
    03 Greece
    04 Romania
    05 Hungary
    06 Georgia
    07 Belgium
    08 Moldova
    09 Belarus
    10 Armenia

    11 Denmark
    12 Albania
    13 Serbia
    14 FYR Macedonia
    15 Netherlands
    16 Finland

  15. Hey there back in Vienna! Here’s my take on tonight’s value (or not, as the case may be)

    http://www.escgo.com/2015/05/19/semi-1-five-bets-to-consider/

    Hope you have a profitable night!

  16. Nearly time so here are my qualifiers.
    1 Russia
    2 Estonia
    3 Greece
    4 Georgia
    5 Romania
    6 Albania
    7 Armenia
    8 Belgium
    9 Hungary still hate it just have a feeling it gets to the final.
    10 Macedonia
    Not at all confident on last two.

  17. You were mostly right Gav! Well done!

  18. Honestly there where no surprises. Least predicted to be in the final were Serbia and Hungary, though even they weren’t considered that far from qualification.

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