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Eurovision 2016: Semi-Final 2 Preview

I woke up this morning dreading having to write this preview. Semi-final 2 is a confusing melange of diaspora-heavy nations with mediocre songs, countries with decent qualification records who have sent beige nonentities and then those with less than perfect strike rates that deserve to make the final but probably won’t.

Starting with the sure qualifiers from Australia, Belgium, Israel, Latvia, Serbia and Ukraine.

Australia took a major step forward in last night’s jury rehearsal. Dami Im added a few more freestyles to her vocal which really lifted the impact of the song. The stylist also eased off on the normally heavy eye-liner, making eye contact much easier for the TV audience. The staging is still too static my liking, but on vocal alone, this is top-3.

Jamala will be competing for the semi-final win alongside Australia. However, Ukraine has a narrative and Jamala delivers 1944 with the sort of authentic emotional connection Dami Im lacks. Both artists have a winning vocal, so it’s a straight fight as to who connects with the televote most.

Justs and Sanja also tick the vocal box, but both are let down with overly dark staging concepts. Serbia has the regional support, whereas Latvia should enjoy a good level of jury support. What will be apparent to all tonight is that Latvia failed to sufficiently craft the staging to maximise Heartbeat’s potential.

Israel on the other hand have deliberately elected for dark staging, but this is accented with stunning constellation graphics and the disc-dancers. It’s gentle, yet dramatic and Hovi should be getting a slice of Saturday night’s action.

As I said in our second podcast and the daily rehearsal reviews, Belgium are a bright spark at the end this semi-final and should have more lasting impact than Austria’s Loin d’ici. Laura would have won Junior Eurovision with What’s The Pressure and could do surprisingly well in the final.

Somewhere in the middle we have our big diaspora nations in the form of Poland and Lithuania. I have been very vocal about my loathing of Michał Szpak’s Colour Of Your Life. For me, it’s the musical equivalent of having teeth pulled without anesthetic. I don’t think the juries will rank it highly at all, which means the diaspora has to push it over the line. The loyal fanbase didn’t turn out in 2010, but the margin between 10th and 13th was just eight points and Michał isn’t joined on stage by five women dancing with apples in their gobs.

From downright detestable to potentially punchable. Donny Montell has come a long way since 2012 and he returns with a sort of David Lindgren Melfest reject. The staging is over complicated and lacks direction, but to his credit, the vocals are good and the somersault is memorable. Unlike Poland, Lithuania is much more demo-delighting and should make Saturday’s final.




Now we’re looking for scraps from Belarus, Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Norway, Georgia and Albania.

Despite throwing loads of visual gimmicks at Help You Fly, Belarus just lacks credibility and won’t attract enough votes from neutral nations. Albania is too dull in comparison to other ballads in this lineup and is the rather bland filling in a Georgia/Belgium sandwich. Georgia look the more likely qualifier at this end of the running order: they’ve turned an alternative song into a kaleidoscope of colour and should qualify 7th-9th. They performed four times during last night’s jury rehearsal, effectively taking over the pimp slot and are still 2.38 at BETFRED.

Kaliopi wasn’t at her best during the jury rehearsal and I’m not expecting non-Balkan nations to throw her a televote lifeline, so FYRoM are out. With two more Balkans in the mix, and with Serbia dominating the vote in that region, it’s an either or between Bulgaria and Slovenia. My head tells me Bulgaria, but my heart sides with Slovenia. The latter is contemporary with heavy Taylor Swift influences, in addition to a Danish gymnast (expect points). Bulgaria hasn’t lived up to expectations, and despite being an infectious dance floor banger, it is somewhat trumped by Belgium. Therefore, I’m going against the grain and all logic in adding Slovenia to my list of qualifiers. I think the foot-tapping country-esque vibe will appeal to the western audience.

The Scandies have really underperformed this year with Sweden being the only nation with an international hit on their hands. Denmark is bland and Norway’s two songs for the price of one ballad is trumped by Ukraine and Australia. There is slightly more regional support for Norway, but I just can’t see them making it wedged between Ukraine and Georgia.

Lastly we have Ireland and the worst of Westlife’s former members. On a positive note, Nicky has improved and delivered a solid jury rehearsal last night. That performance may have been enough, in addition to the planned advert-break interview in the green room during tonight’s show. BUT will it be enough to prevent that polish dirge making the cut? On the basis that I loath Michał’s song, I’m including Ireland in my 10.

  • Latvia
  • Israel
  • Serbia
  • Lithuania
  • Australia
  • Slovenia
  • Ukraine
  • Georgia
  • Belgium
  • Ireland

Slovenia were at 6.0 on Betfair before last night and could be a great play in-running. Ireland will be backed in by Irish and British punters, so a current 4.5 offers trading potential.

Our chatroom unearthed some value today which is still available at UNIBET: Bulgaria NOT to finish top-3 in semi-final 2 @ 1.45.

Those of you who backed Ukraine to win the semi final may want  to cover with Australia on the back of last night’s performance.

Good luck with tonight’s semi-final and the subsequent first half/second half draw!

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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.

13 comments

  1. Stephen Colville

    Risky not going for Bulgaria…I think the market is underestimating just how catchy and energetic this is. It blows Belgium out of water in the appeal department. I think it gets top 4 in this semi…but after Iceland, just about everything worries me.

    • Bold choices from Gav. Bulgarias fanw**k but not bad as such.

      I agree with his 10 save for Slovenia which is a troubled qualifier. I can see Denmarks MOR fare benefiting from broad appeal and chums Ireland, UK and Norway

  2. Gav could Latvia potentially be another Iceland ?

  3. Slovenia AND Ireland? Wow, those are some big long shots if you ask me.
    I think Bulgaria will sneak in purely based on song quality, similar to Croatia in semi 1.

  4. Latvia
    Israel
    Serbia
    Ireland
    Lithuania
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Ukraine
    Georgia
    Belgium

    Poland is the most likely candidate to replace Ireland or Georgia.

  5. I find it really hard to write off Macedonia. Kaliopi isn’t just an awesome singer and an infectious nutter, she’s a genuinely big deal. Anyone that can go up against Zeljko Joksimovic with a similarly under-produced and dated song and still collect a few 8s and 10s and end up mid-table in the final cannot be underrated. Serbia, Bulgaria, Italy and Albania are going to vote for her. Possibly Israel, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia and Poland too. I think it’s just one of those things that we have to accept we can’t understand, but they over there can.

    Poland’s song is naff and he looks weird. Diaspora schmiaspora. NQ, and an injustice if I’m wrong.

    This afternoon I saw a photo of Donny’s poodle head and white jacket for the first time. The Barbara Dex award is still up in the air, let’s put it that way. I was an advocate of the song to be a possible winner back in January based on the studio version, but I can see that it hasn’t become the package it should have, so if we’re going to get a shock non-qualifier tonight to make room for Ireland, I’d say it’s them.

    Slovenia are to semi 2 as Austria are to semi 1. A bit shit but nice. Zoe’s package is more easily understandable and I don’t think reminding you of Taylor Swift is necessarily a good thing if you’re doing it badly. I’m gonna stick to my guns on this one and not let rehearsals overturn things so easily. NQ. Bulgaria need this qualification more and they still have the better song by far.

    We’re probably going to see the winner of Eurovision 2016 tonight. I’m keeping my fingers, toes and other things crossed that my trades go my way. Good luck to all!

    My ten are:
    Latvia
    Israel
    Serbia
    Macedonia
    Lithuania
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Ukraine
    Georgia
    Belgium

  6. I think you’re thinking way too much with your heart rather than your brain. Slovenia has absolutely no chance of making it to the final and Bulgaria not making it through is absolutely preposterous.

    My Ten Qualifiers:
    Latvia
    Ukraine
    Australia
    Belgium
    Lithuania
    Bulgaria
    Serbia
    Norway
    Poland and shock qualifier
    Ireland

  7. I havent got involved much on the semis just the final this year,but my rough 10 in random order,

    Ukraine (incredible)
    Israel (great staging,horrid singer)
    Serbia (Balkan powerhouse)
    Lithuania (i want to say no but lots of friends)
    Australia (i hate it,but polished and radio friendly)
    Bulgaria (wasted chance on rubbish staging,but might scrape in)
    Latvia (dont like it at all but strong enough to go through)
    Georgia (stands out and the final needs them)
    Belgium ( its lightweight as a feather,but just works)
    FYR Macedonia (Just enough friends maybe,but really poor song)

    I dont know if Ukraine is winning,but seeing the staging today moved me like nothing in 40 years of watching every ESC.If it was years ago when i was putting down a tenner for fun thats where it would be going with the other on Frans.
    Good luck everyone who is playing tonight,

  8. Ukraine
    Latvia
    Australia
    Bulgaria
    Israel
    Serbia
    Poland
    Georgia
    Norway
    Belgium

  9. I am sure Nicky Byrne is deeply grateful for the fact that he squeezed in on the back of your loathing of Michal! I dislike Poland too, but would never oppose the mighty Polish diaspora and it’s not as awful for me as it clearly is for you. I’d take away Slovenia, Lithuania and Ireland, and insert Bulgaria, Norway and Poland. Ukraine and Oz to leave all others in their wake tonight. Also back Ben in thinking tonight we will see the ESC winner.

  10. After the disaster of the 1st semi not really involved tonight. This semi has wrecked my head since day one and still not confident of more than 4 certain qualifiers. Ukraine, Latvia, Australia and Belgium are those 4. Serbia, Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Israel and Denmark the remaining qualifiers.
    Would like Poland not to qualify to put the diaspora effect out of the reckoning for next year but can’t see it happen.

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