Having covered the semi finals earlier this week, it’s now time to wave the magic wand and cherry pick my ideal automatic qualifiers. Given that these nations are under no pressure of an early exit, they are in a uniquely advantageous position of qualifying no matter what they send. Sometimes that comes across…


Out – Roi InEn cherhe encore

Like last year France had a high standard right across the board for Destination Eurovision. Whether it was Silvàn Areg’s delightful dioramas or Simone’s gut-wrenching ballad there was something for everyone. The ‘something for me’ and many other ESC fans was Gabriella’s En cherche encore. I was already a big fan of Gabriella after her time on The Voice, it was a thrill to see her attempt to make it to Eurovision. Take a great artist, a catchy song and a fan following and what do you get…knocked out in the semi finals. To be fair even if she had made the final, nobody was beating Bilal.


Out – Sister In – Surprise

As with some of the semi finals this is tricky for me, as I’m sacrificing an entry I actually really like. I think with a complete overhaul of staging Sister should go down reasonably well in Tel Aviv. And you won’t find any more adorable winning reactions Continent wide. However, on the night Lily Among Clouds was the stand out of the performers. Her enchanting Kate Bush-esque performance style was truly unique across the whole season. The song’s slow, dramatic build up may be at odds with the Contest, but for me it would’ve nicely cut through all the emoti-men and Fue-clones.


Out – Soldi In – Mi sento bene

What is there not to love about Arisa’s entry in this year’s Sanremo. I get there’s a lot of fuss around Soldi but no Italian hopeful could match Mi sento benefun, playful nature. As if her initial solo outings weren’t enough, her duet with Tony Hadley clinched the deal. Ever since that two hour window when we believed the former Spandau Ballet front man would represent San Marino in 2017, I’ve been hoping he’d somehow pop at Eurovision. Only one degree of separation away now! Arisa was superb through the whole week only faltering on the Saturday show. She willfully struggled through as her voice was giving way. A gutwrenching, determined final performance from an absolute star.


Out – Bigger Than Us InBigger Than Us

And finally, it’s time to turn my attention to my home nation. The only case I’ll argue replacing a song with the same song. The Michael Rice arrangement being sent to Tel Aviv is likely similar to what John Lundvik had in mind before it was swapped for the Melfest-winning Too Late For Love. It was, however, the country-pop arrangement performed by Holly Tandy, that would’ve been my choice from You Decide. Given that male ballad has ended up being a somewhat over-subscribed market this year something a ‘little bit country’ may have had more of an impact

As for Spain? La Venda is the only one of the big five I’d keep in place. Admittedly I was all about Maria’s Muérdeme based on the studio versions. But given Maria wasn’t that into it herself, Miki was the obvious choice. Whilst the revamped version does feel a little more subdued if they can recreate the party vibe from Operación Triunfo Spain will be on course for their best result in years.

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