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.
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.
Other 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.
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:
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.
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