With some big scalps taken in semi-final 1, the approach for semi 2 is one of caution, given there are two more potential big guns touted to lose their 100% qualification records.
My 10 qualifiers are:
The obvious qualifiers on my list are Norway, Sweden, Ukraine and Moldova, with Norway, Sweden and Moldova the mostly likely top-3. They are the slickest and most eye-catching performances in this semi-final. Ukraine, while gothy and somewhat dark, at least has a sense of purpose and is well performed from the pimp slot.
Next I have Romania and Poland as my diaspora-heavy nations making the cut. Romania seems to inspire a lot of negativity due to it beating fan-favourites in its national final. Yet given the less than ideal staging concept, The Human’s vocal performance is exceptional. The song also has a lovely uplifting ‘movie soundtrack’ feel and should be worthy of a place in the final.
Light Me Up has always been a goto track for the car, and even though it joined many on this year’s songs on the generic pile, Gromee & Lukas Meijer sell the song well to TV viewers and provide a much needed lift after Georgia and a ropey Australia. Poland should be getting through.
On to one of this year’s former favourites now in Australia. Right from the first day of rehearsals, Jessica, along with the staging concept, has failed to meet expectations. The staging is too dull and lacks sufficient variation during the soft or more powerful moments. Moreover, Jessica has the wrong outfit which makes the choreography appear rather unflattering. Worst of all, Jessica isn’t as vocally secure as we had hoped, based on live footage over the last year or so. There is a danger Australia fail to qualify tonight based on their lack of ‘hard support’ on the televote. Last year, Isaiah got through because of the juries; Jessica will be lucky to have such support based on last night’s performance. Even so, I have them just creeping in, but that’s only because of a weakened Russia and due to a slight improvement during today’s matinee.
It’s worth acknowledging that Russia don’t want to qualify this year. They really don’t. Yulia is merely a prop for them to propagate the myth that ‘the west hates Russia’, while also allowing them to appear more inclusive by playing the disability discrimination card. Then they return next year and try to win the Contest with the Dream Team. If by some miracle Russia qualifies, it will likely be at the cost of Netherlands or Denmark.
Malta may not be among their traditional jury buddies, and even though they don’t quite make the cut, it is dangerous to bet against them on the markets. They’ve spent a small fortune on staging, so some alleged jury trades could get them close.
I have it on good authority that Europe’s metal heads are coordinating to help Hungary qualify. Even though they were a little rough in last night’s jury rehearsal, it’s part of their schtick and not really a problem. Their USP is much stronger than Netherlands, so I have them making the final and continuing their impressive qualification record.
In my opinion, Latvia doesn’t do enough to standout on the televote. It’s too lightweight, even though Laura has a great vocal; the song just drones on and on and on. What’s more, Latvia are rather short on friends in this semi and boast one of the worst qualification records in the Contest.
Good luck tonight, and like semi-1, let’s hope the voting stays largely clean!