Semi final 1, eh? I like Serhat as much as the next person but not even I saw that coming. Still, 8/10 ain’t bad.
CZECH REPUBLIC ✔️
Like Tuesday, I’m going to kick off with the entries I’m nailing as dead certs for qualification. Despite a distinct lack of praise on the ground, Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence steadfastly remains the bookies’ favourite to win. Who knows if he’ll achieve a victory, but the qualification is in no doubt. Sweden do what Sweden do. John Lundvik’s Too Late For Love is polished and effective, probable top five on Saturday. Another male soloist who’ll waltz into the final is Sergey Lazarev. In bringing the bathroom shower Russia have gone full kitchen sink. It’s basically an Ikea catalogue at this stage.
Also heading straight through to the final will be Malta. Michela’s Chameleon has been a song I’ve loved since it’s initial release. Despite technical issues causing a paired back staging, Malta still looks fabulous. Not too shabby for a Plan B! Like most of the entries Switzerland’s She Got Me has lost some of it’s impact thanks to KAN’s penchant for wide angles. It’s no longer a contender for victory but it should still qualify. I can’t envisage a grand final without Norway’s Keiino serving the joik banger we all need. Spirit in the Sky blends that perfect mix of upbeat fun and cultural heritage and is for me, what Eurovision is all about. 6/10 places nabbed so far.
It’s much harder in semi final two to rule songs out at this stage. There’s a viable path to qualification for almost all other entries featuring tonight. Sadly the only two nations I’d discount from the running are semi 2’s Baltic entries. Although I really like Latvia’s Carousel, their song doesn’t have a sniff at qualifying. Lithuania’s Jurij is undoubtedly one of the smoothest operators, even giving Serhat a run for his money. However, Run With the Lions just falls flat. It’s a shame we’ll lose him tonight but the song just cannot compete.
Six through, two out, ten countries battling for four places. Ouch. Azerbaijan is probably the easiest of this lot to upgrade to a qualifier. All the noise out of Tel Aviv has been positive and this shouldn’t have too much bother finding a way to Saturday. Sadly, I’ll have to eliminate Ireland at this stage. I love both song and singer but with a poor place in the running order and other more memorable entries I can see 22 missing out. The same can be said of Romania. Ester Peony’s On a Sunday is another entry I really enjoy but given their NQ from last year we know they’re no longer invincible. Don’t think it’ll miss out by much but I can’t see it on a Saturday night.
Like Azerbaijan, another entry buoyed by quality staging is North Macedonia. Who’d have thought given the last few years I could’ve typed that sentence in 2019! The former Former Yugoslav Republic have given Tamara incredibly classy staging for Proud bolstering the power of the message. They fully deserve a qualification after several years in the wilderness. Up until the last weeks I’d have added Moldova to Lithuania & Latvia as a dead cert not to make it. Having gone full Ukraine 2011 it now has a gimmick that’ll stand out in people’s mind. Whilst it will earn the song a higher placing, it’s probably still about 12th or 13th than 9th or 10th.
Picking two from these last five is nigh on impossible. Purely on running order I think it’s unlikely all six of the final songs will qualify so this unfortunately rules out Albania. it could come close but it’s surrounded by more memorable entries weakening it’s chances. Denmark has a niche, saccharin appeal. This may pick up juror points but I can’t see it grabbing the attention of the public. The aforementioned curse of the wide shot has somehow been dodged by Austria’s Paenda, as the delicate beauty of this song shines through. Not one I had qualifying two weeks ago but it could just sneak it. Whilst Croatia’s Roko has come with an overblown stage show, reeking of the Jacques Houdek it’s not quite as ‘balls to the wall’ as 2017. It really could go either way but it’s a slim miss for me. Leaving Armenia giving me all the Anna Rossinelli vibes, qualifying for the final and subsequently forgotten about come Saturday.
NORTH MACEDONIA 🇲🇰
There we are, that’s my ten. But really, who knows? If anyone gets 10 out 10 from this lot, I’ll eat the late Paddy Ashdown’s hat!