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Eurovision 2019: Semi-Final 2 Preview

The general feeling from last night’s jury rehearsal was that everyone upped their game which makes semi-final 2 even trickier to sort when it comes to the 7th-13th range, especially considering the imbalanced nature of this semi, combined with the overall increase in quality, there will surely be some more shocks!

There are two standout performances tonight from Sweden and The Netherlands, both have developed their staging concepts over the last two weeks and both look like worthy winners. Sweden really sells its uplifting gospel song with every camera angle being planned to deliver maximum connection – it truly is a textbook 3-minute staging triumph. The market may have become rather complacent about Sweden following the poor televoting scores from Bengtsson and Ingrosso – John Lundvik’s performance feels very different.

Duncan Laurence has done extremely well to keep his head over the last 10-days or so while his team have desperately tried to sort out the staging concept. It is these tiny margins that can cost a nation so dearly, especially when the final running order is influenced by a nation’s finishing position in the semi-final. Some slack would have been cut with semi-2 being the much stronger semi; however, if The Netherlands are to justify their short price, they have to come out of semi-2 with a win or 2nd.

If the juries are judging visual impact, vocals and the quality of songs, Sweden and The Netherlands should be top tonight.

Russia ticks the vocal and visual impact jury boxes too and there are also lots of hard points for Sergey and the team behind him, namely Kirkorov who is huge in Europe. Scream has always been the weak link and the pre-rehearsal feeling was that they could overcome it with a dramatic light conquering darkness stage show. Unfortunately for Sergey, the stage prop doesn’t elevate the performance enough. It would take an almighty shock to see Russia lifting the trophy on Saturday night. In this semi Russia are aiming for 3rd.

Further down the order it gets a bit tricker as either the vocal quality or voteability drops off. For now these are the more certain of my qualifiers:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Malta
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands

Getting the pimp slot will help Chingiz immensely. The performance is rather dark in places, but the rapture moment during the middle-eight is a vote clincher and will result in Azerbaijan qualifying on merit rather than… well, y’know.

Malta have invested heavily in Chameleon from the targeted YouTube advertising through to the projection concept and expensive graphics. Their staging concept has been overhauled three times now, despite it being perfectly fine to my eyes. Even so, when Malta are trying this hard it usually means they’re working hard in other areas too. Despite Michela’s tuning issues, I expect this to do quite well. It’s a catchy Spotify-friendly song which should get plenty of downloads after the show.

The same could be said for Switzerland in terms of downloads. Luca also suffers tuning issues, which in my opinion counts against his song challenging for the higher positions. As does the slightly sterile Swedish stage production. Unlike several other nations, the Swiss delegation will be playing Eurovision with a straight bat, so Luca will need to hope that Michela’s catchier and more visually striking production doesn’t divert too many votes away from later in the running order. The same applies with Azerbaijan.

At this point I’ll take out some countries I believe are not qualifying: Armenia, Ireland, Moldova, Latvia and Croatia…

Since the first rehearsal I’ve found Armenia too aggressive for televoters and I believe there’s enough competition for jury votes to make the televote deficit more decisive. Sevak was 14th with the televote and juries last year from a better slot in the running order, albeit with an own language song. Even so, he delivered a similarly angry performance and was punished for it. Moreover, most female songs after Armenia seem to be nicer and more accessible. Even Moldova creates a talking point and I bet most of the audience wont remember Ukraine’s sand artist from 2011. Moldova have been fairly reliable qualifiers over the years apart from a dip in years 2014-2016 which is when the scoring changed. I have them just missing out on my 10, but I would not be surprised if they were a shock envelope.

Ireland is too amateurish in presentation and 22 is too lightweight in comparison to the songs competing against it. Latvia is way too forgettable and any jury love is likely to be undone by a snoozing televote. Croatia is way too kitschy to appeal to jurors. Back in 2017, Jacques Houdek finished 13th in the semi with the juries, yet qualified thanks to the 5th-place ranking from the folks at home. The Dream doesn’t have the same lovability as My Friend, so it will be difficult for the televote to undo what is expected to be a poor jury score. Plus he screams for 3-minutes. Maybe Roko and Srbuk should perform a duet?

This leaves Romania, Denmark, Austria, Lithuania, Albania, Norway and North Macedonia fighting over four qualification spots…

Romania, while better and more interesting than Armenia, may be an equally tough sell for the televote. Once again there are great jury-friendly songs occupying the upper range of the vote and On a Sunday isn’t the sort of Yodel-It song to win over neutrals. I like the song a lot and it’s one of several songs fighting for 10th in my head.

Denmark is bland, though Leonora did give a stronger jury rehearsal and Love is Forever is a song the juries enjoy to a certain extent, but as the semi progresses it becomes so insignificant. If Denmark falls, it makes it easier for one of Moldova or Romania from the first half. That, or Austria who need to get into the jury top-5, which would be deserved based on Pænda’s emotion-packed rehearsals to date. It wasn’t quite as on point with the juries last night, but to stand a chance she really needs a Gunčíková-type result: 4th-5th with the juries and 10th-13th on the televote.

Lithuania can’t be totally written off either given they’ve only failed to qualify with batshit crazy songs. Run with the Lions is a well performed radio friendly song with excellent camera connection and 3/1+ is huge given there are lesser songs at shorter odds. Jurij is the Victor Crone of this semi-final and boasts many more allies, though I concede he faces stiffer competition.

Jonida does give a strong vocal performance for Albania, yet the staging is bland and the song forgettable for most voters. Having said that, they do have a lot of friends and trading partners to support them, but they are not traditionally strong qualifiers. Eugent Bushpepa only qualified because of the juries last year and previously Elhaida Dani needed english lyrics to win over the televote.

Last year Saara Aalto scraped into the final with a similar sounding song to Norway, albeit without the joik. It was trashy as hell and the juries ranked her 15th. It needed the televote to rescue her, yet they only placed her 7th. Keiino don’t have the deranged ‘vote for me, vote for me’ desperation of Saara, so the juries could be more favourable, especially considering their superior vocal delivery.

Lastly we have North Macedonia chasing their first qualification since Kaliopi in 2012. On vocal quality alone, this should be top-3 with the juries just like Eugent Bushpepa in semi 1 last year. Tamara also draws some attention away from Albania… oh and did I mention Armenia earlier on? The televote won’t be huge, but it should be sufficient to qualify in 9th-10th like Kaliopi.

So my 10 qualification picks are:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Denmark
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • North Macedonia
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands

I could have easily have gone with three from the first half and seven from the second, but the chances of that happening are slim. I’ve reluctantly chucked in Romania because the staging at least has a concept, impact and some sex appeal. My book is fairly balanced to account for any shocks.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

21 comments

  1. I think it’s kinda over odds for Netherlands are close to 2 and I think maybe when the semi final is going to finish maybe the odds for Netherlands will be under 2 like 1.80 . It’s the clear favourite to win it reminds me Portugal 2017 the best song is going to win . Also France 8 in odds and Cyprus 12? I think these two countries will place way higher . Russia is a big disappointment maybe will not be even in top 3 .

  2. Gav, how Denmark will qualify? You think she will get points from juries, but she is not as strong as Austria, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Albania, Latvia, North Macedonia, Armenia, Moldova and Romania vocally. For televoting will be very low for sure cause there are Sweden and Norway that will take the votes from Scandinavia. I really can’t understand your thoughs about Denmark. I backed last weak NQ at 2,40 and 2,25.
    It’s more likely to finish bottom 5 than qualify imo…

    • As I said I have several songs all floating around 10th. I have a balanced position on it having laid it odds on. If you’re just picking on one I can’t be doing too bad.

  3. Boring but I have my qualifiers the same way as the market. Bolded countries are top 3.

    Netherlands
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Russia
    Azerbaijan
    Malta
    Armenia
    Denmark
    Macedonia
    Norway

    • Ok, I’m not gonna change my prediction but I just watched those leaked videos from jury show and I got some comments to make.

      Armenia. To me performance is passionate rather than aggressive. I love her voice much more than Tamara’s from Macedonia.

      Denmark. Performance doesn’t look as good as in Denmark. My first impression of Denmark was really good but now I have to agree that Leonora is not a natural performer. She doesn’t have the charisma that for example Zoë from Austria has.

      Macedonia. I was never a fan of the song and that performance didn’t make me change my mind. The song is too sad. It would almost be appropriate in a funereal. I don’t think it will get enough televotes. Could fail to qualify.

      Romania. This went up in my estimations. It looks and sounds really good. The girl is very into performance. I like that. Will that be enough to qualify. I’m starting to think – yes because Denmark and Macedonia kind off disappoints.

      Malta. I expected better performance and better singing. Everything is still OK but I just expected better. Also Michela doesn’t look very comfortable with an uptempo song like this. Switzerland beats Malta in this category.

      Switzerland. I like what I see and hear. Everything is slick enough to finish in top 10 on Saturday. That is something I cannot say about Malta.

      Azerbaijan. Over-hyped performance. Still very good but over-hyped.

  4. This is a fascinating semi, certainly more complex than the Australia TV, Greece Jury debate from semi 1.

    1. Netherlands
    Netherlands could win the semi and final comfortably but if I’m not 100% convinced yet. The ins and outs of the performance have been discussed at length and there’s little point arguing about the piano or the lamp or whatever at this stage. We’ll find out tonight if the Netherlands can win easily making the connection we expect with the public or if its going to be a free for all with huge disagreement between televoters and juries.

    2. Azerbaijan
    This is going to do well here with a favourable draw- never underestimate the pimp slot and this is much stronger than Belgium ’16, Israel’ 17 and Ukraine ’18 who all managed a top 3, albeit in weaker fields. Juries should be respectfull but it’s difficult to see it not lagging Sweden and the Netherlands on that measure. This probably needs one of the three second half draws left if it wants to replicate this result there. I’ve seen ‘the moment’ this has and its not as impressive as you expect if you know it’s coming and going off the reaction. It’s still cool for the average televoters here whilst the projection draws you in to start with.
    3. Sweden
    Again, all that can be said has been with Sweden. Jury bait, public? That’s all. I think the potential for this to do well on the public vote has been overlooked and there’s nothing to say this can’t get a top 3/4 in the final or with the ideal draw. I was one of those who said that around Melodifestivalen but my approach softened. It could still be ignored by the public and finish 8th in the televote in the final but that’s not a given.
    Also, this is not my prediction for the final. I think the juries will be able to throw their weight behind it much more there and it is likely to have a comparatively improved running order, and this plays better to the Saturday night audience.

    4. Russia-
    This just doesn’t work. The song on first listen is poor and for an entry that is “all about the staging” this falls flat. The clip released of the camera feed of this is really below par. The multiple Sergey’s just look silly, not powerful and him and all the screen ones of him stepping back into the light makes me laugh, it’s so overblown but somehow ineffective. Juries shouldn’t go for it, western viewers won’t go for it so what’s left is not enough to win. This is much more likely to miss the top 5 than win in the final. Here, I think his voting power and a few friendly juries will get him to 4th.

    5. Switzerland. I’m not a fan of the visuals for this one. SJB is being far too self indulgent here and it’s all the worst of her staging quirks. I don’t think juries will love this but the televote should be good, if not as high as some expect.

    There’s a safe bunch of songs following who should be through without problem, but are unlikely to get a top 3; they are Malta and North Macedonia. I agree with the odds in that Norway are likely but not certain to join them.
    I’m sure most of us will have the same 8 up to now, and it’s these last two that are hard.

    Ireland and Latvia can book their tickets for Friday morning with Croatia very unlikely, but not impossible to cause an upset. Lithuania is so anaemic it is likely out too despite their diaspora.
    I don’t buy the Austria hype with everyone calling this a “shock” qualifier which is irritating in itself– its no shock when everyone decides its possible.
    The staging is not that impressive to win this any sort of significant televoting support whilst juries have too many others to reward for whatever reason. Paenda can be in their top 10, but not far enough in to compensate for a weak televote incoming.
    Armenia is somewhat similar. I like the country at Eurovision, I like the song, I like Srbuk but this has been in big trouble ever since the running order came. Armenia is on some measures the angriest country in the World which explains a lot of their stagings and I agree with Gav this is not a good look here and with so many competing ballads to come. It’s not the best semi either. This was 1.2 on to qualify and should be around evens in play which is a remarkable turn around. Albania is on later and does an equal job to this and with more of a diaspora in the semi, as well as some jury support so I have them in instead.
    Romania
    Denmark I’ve had in most of the season and am really tempted to swap them out. In the end I think there’s enough of a feel good factor here compared to the other borderlines to give this the edge

    1. Netherlands (Jury 2, TV 1)
    2. Azerbaijan. (Jury 3, TV 2)
    3. Sweden (Jury 1, TV 4)
    4. Russia (Jury 5, TV 3)
    5. Malta. (Jury 4, TV 7)
    6. Switzerland. ( Jury 7, TV 5)
    7. North Mac. (Jury 6, TV 9)
    8. Albania. (Jury 11, TV 8)
    9. Norway. (Jury 12, TV 6)
    10. Denmark. (Jury 8, TV 12)
    11. Armenia. (Jury 9, TV 14)
    12. Romania. (Jury 14, TV 10)
    13. Austria. (Jury 10, TV 16)
    14. Croatia (Jury 15, TV 11)
    15. Lithuania (Jury, 16, TV 13)
    16. Moldova (Jury 13, TV 15)
    17. Ireland (Jury 18, TV 17)
    18. Latvia. (Jury 17, TV 18)

    I have Armenia to nq at great odds and Azerbaijan pre rehearsals across q, and semi win and e/w which are my main focus here. Considering laying some Austria and backing Albania but they would be smaller plays. Best of luck everyone.

  5. i’ve just copied and pasted Montell’s list and swapped Sweden with Azerbaijan. betting wise i’m stopping out of it although i might have put something on Azer EW a while back.

    Netherlands
    Azerbaijan
    Switzerland
    Russia
    Sweden
    Malta
    Armenia
    Denmark
    Macedonia
    Norway

  6. For me in order it’s:

    Netherlands
    Sweden
    Azerbaijan
    Russia
    Switzerland
    Malta
    North Macedonia
    Norway
    Denmark
    Romania

    Find positions 9 and 10 really tricky and it could still be Armenia, possibly Austria.

    I really hope Norway is not a fanflop….Saturday night needs one or two of these numbers in my humble opinion.

  7. Not much to add to all the points put forward so far. My picks are, in no particular order

    Switzerland
    Sweden
    Malta
    Russia
    Norway
    Netherlands
    Azerbaijan
    North Macedonia
    Denmark
    Armenia

    I don’t buy into the whole Austria dark horse thing. Latvia and Ireland are also absolute no-hopers for me. Moldova is a bit distracting with the sand artist and plenty more songs to get jury love ahead of it. Croatia odds a bit too high for me but that means nothing when it isn’t going through. Lithuania has the diaspora but nothing else so shouldn’t be counted out. Albania also has favourable allies so can’t be discounted too but it really shouldn’t be going through. Romania is the one with the best qualifying chance outside of my top 10 and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it go through but I’ve went with Denmark which stand out as pleasant, nice and positive amongst the dark acts of Albania, Romania and Armenia at the bottom of the qualifying odds.

    I would not be shocked in the least to see any of my top 10 outside the core 6 nailed on qualifiers fail to make it. I also won’t be that surprised if any of my NQs bar Latvia and Ireland make it through.

  8. My qualifier prediction:
    Armenia
    Switzerland
    Romania
    Denmark
    The Netherlands
    Azerbaijan
    Malta
    Russia
    Sweden
    Lithuania

  9. My 10 with a few marginal calls. With 4 or 5 strong, jury bait songs in this semi the rest are playing for a reduced pool of points which makes the margins much smaller. As a result I think friendly votes will budge a few over the line.

    My ten to Q…
    Armenia
    Switzerland
    Romania
    Sweden
    Malta
    Russia
    Albania
    Netherlands
    North Macedonia
    Azerbaijan

  10. Looks like a Netherlands victory tonight for me going on the clips doing the rounds. Still think Switzerland has a chance. With the visuals apparently not to be counted Azerbaijan can be discounted for top 3 in this semi I believe. Certain of my first six qualifiers. My 10 are
    Netherlands
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Malta
    Azerbaijan
    Russia
    Macedonia
    Denmark
    Norway
    Armenia

  11. My ten Qs in running order
    Armenia
    Switzerland
    Denmark
    Sweden
    Malta
    Russia
    Albania
    Netherlands
    North Macedonia
    Azerbaijan

  12. MY 10

    -Netherlands
    -Sweden
    -Russia
    -Azerbaijan
    -Swiss
    -Malta
    -Norway
    -FYR Macedonia

    Confident with Top 8, rest is %50-%50.

    -Denmark
    -Albania

    Good luck all!

  13. My ten are:

    Netherlands
    Sweden
    Russia
    Switzerland
    Azerbaijan
    Malta
    Norway
    Armenia
    North Macedonia
    Denmark

    I think Romania may well edge out one of the last three. Austria may be close but i suspect a poor televote may mean it missing out. Lithuania will have a decent televote but will bomb with the juries.

    I have Netherlands as my semi winner. While Norway will do badly with the juries, subject to seeing the full three minute performance, I suspect this could go very big with the televote and will qualify safely.

  14. Evening all Enjoy 😎👍😎

    Looks like I’m the only one who thinks Croatia can do it (@7/1 on exchange too).

    Here goes:
    Netherlands
    Azerbaijan
    Switzerland
    Russia
    Sweden
    Malta
    Croatia
    Denmark
    North Macedonia
    Norway

  15. anticrisisgirl

    Switzerland
    Romania
    Sweden
    Austria
    Malta
    Lithuania
    Russia
    Netherlands
    North Macedonia
    Azerbaijan

  16. Well, here are my qualifiers from this semi final:

    Switzerland
    Romania
    Denmark
    Sweden
    Malta
    Russia
    Norway
    Netherlands
    North Macedonia
    Azerbaijan

    I didn’t want to qualify Denmark, but there aren’t enough good enough songs, so I had to pick the most amiable one amongst the remaining songs.

    • Ooh, 9 out of 10! Albania was a real surprise for me, especially after seeing the part chosen as a snippet.

  17. 10/10 guys!! 😀

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