If I give one of you an editor account, would you be able to write this article and pick 10-qualifiers for me? Wading through this swamp of mediocrity, I’m struggling to find 10 songs I think could qualify, and I only have six I can predict with any certainty.
Let’s eliminate a few no-hopers (in my view) and work from there…
There has been some big money lined up to back Lithuania to qualify, so somewhere in the world there’s at least one person who appreciates Fusedmarc’s brand of esoteric, futuristic jazz. The general consensus here in the press centre is that Lithuania’s song is the worst of this year’s entries; and it’s rather baffling it took Lithuania over three-months to select Rain of Revolution.
FYRoM also look set to miss out – even in this lower-quality semi-final where Jana is heavily protected by her backing vocalists and the new live phaser-effects. The presentation is amateurish and given Kaliopi failed in a friendly semi last year, it’s difficult to see Jana improving enough to halt what would be five successive non-qualifications for FYRoM.
Brendan was better during last night’s jury rehearsal, but Ireland’s main problem is being followed by the upbeat San Marino and distinctive Croatia. As a visual package, the Ireland entry is one of the dullest in this semi-final with little to no visual progression over the 3-minutes. And when you factor in Brendan’s high-pitched vocal, I think Dying To Try will ultimately struggle to win over juries and televoters.
San Marino is fine, but too amateurish to appeal to anyone. I have a neutral position given their alleged penchant for trading.
The big memorable car crash from last night was Switzerland’s Miruna going off key during the final chorus of Apollo. It OK to drift off key for the odd note, but when you’re launching into a stratospheric crescendo, it becomes even more memorable when you make a complete dog’s dinner of it. Miruna has been trying and failing all week, and being followed by Belarus and the vocally superior Bulgaria, it will make qualification difficult.
So that’s five off the list, now for three more…
Tijana really hates performing her song and you can really tell. She gave her best performance last night and may have picked up a good haul of points from friendly juries. The problem is, the song doesn’t motivate people to pick up the phone and vote, and with it being a generic, Swedish pop composition, it will struggle to motivate Serbia’s vast diaspora. I feel only one song qualifies from the first four, and as much as I hate Nathan Trent’s desperate and needy performing style, Running on Air is much more voteable. If Nathan misses his big note tonight, maybe Serbia could jump ahead of him.
I can’t fault Claudia, and had she performed in place of Omar in semi-final 1, I reckon she could have qualified. The running order slot doesn’t really suit her with Netherlands and Denmark performing more contemporary pop-ballads afterwards. I have a balanced position on Malta at present and will only change that if I see the price go too low in-play.
Had JOWST got the chance to perform twice last night, I may have favoured Norway for qualification. It’s such a tough call, as one could argue that the juries should favour a contemporary entry like Grab the Moment, yet I feel the staging lacks energy and a memorable enough moment to encourage non-Scandie voters to pick up their phones. It’s extremely close with Belarus as to who qualifies from that part of the second-half, but based on charisma and passion, as well as the potential for the odd brown envelope exchange, I’ve decided to pick Belarus as my qualifier.
That gives me the following 10 qualifiers:
Romania, Netherlands and Bulgaria are all competing for a top-3 finish with Bulgaria and Romania looking particularly strong on the televote. Hungary have been advertising in high-diaspora nations, so their televote should turnout and seal the deal for Joci.
The other borderliners called for qualification are Israel, Estonia and Croatia.
Imri hit all the right notes last night and looked like he was enjoying the moment. This could come alive in front of the bigger audience tonight. It’s no Golden Boy, but it’s also no Triana Park, so Israel should be strong favourites to qualify from the pimp slot.
Koit and Laura have come a long way since their Eesti Laul national final win. Verona is still cheesy, but they’ve staged it really well. Estonia are never certain qualifiers, and I don’t think the song is particularly votable, but such is the low bar in this semi-final, I think it just drags itself into the final in 9th or 10th. The odds are way too low and Estonia are certainly worth taking on. Likewise, the distinctive Croatia probably just makes the cut too; also benefiting from the low-quality on offer in this semi. The juries can’t knock Jacques’ vocal or staging, but they could punish him for what is this year’s biggest bite of fromage. I do think the televote will support Jacques’ warmth and sincerity even though My Friend is the maddest thing you’re likely to see this year. If Croatia does fail, Serbia would be next in the line for me, which would give us six first half qualifiers(!).