Tuesday 26 September 2017

Will Nicky Byrne make the final? Our Eurovision expert does the maths

Nicky Byrne performs last night for the juries
Nicky Byrne performs last night for the juries
Bulgaria's Poli Genova
Australia's entrant Dami Im during the dress rehearsal
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

IRELAND'S Nicky Byrne is one of 18 acts competing in the second semi final of this year's Eurovision - but will he make the cut tonight?

The definite qualifiers

They say there's no such thing as the sure thing in Eurovision, however it would be a massive shock if Ukraine didn't qualify. To me they're the only absolutely safe country, so that's one slot gone.

The pretty-much done deals

Next are the countries that while not guaranteed a place, all signs would point to them getting over the line. Australia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Norway and Belgium. That's another five slots gone, meaning there's four slots left.

In the zone

Australia's entrant Dami Im during the dress rehearsal
Australia's entrant Dami Im during the dress rehearsal

Lithuania and Israel are probably next over the line; meaning we've two slots left, meaning we've just two slots left and ten countries vying for them, including Ireland.

No hopers?

Nicky Byrne on stage in Stockholm
Nicky Byrne on stage in Stockholm

This comes with a major health warning, as Eurovision tends to throw up 'WTF' qualifiers annually. But Switzerland, Slovenia, Georgia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Belarus are probably going to miss out. So that's five countries after two slots.

Down to the wire

Bulgaria's Poli Genova
Bulgaria's Poli Genova

Of those five, I'd imagine Latvia will be first over the line; there's a few friendly voting countries in this semi and countries where there is a large Latvian diaspora population, which should see them safe.

One in four chance?

Nicky Byrne on stage
Nicky Byrne on stage

So by my very unscientific reckoning, we're in with a one-in-four shot of making the final. The biggest threat here is Denmark - they have a similar genre of song fishing from the same pool of votes as Ireland. If the Danes are revealed early in the results as qualifiers, things won't be looking goof for Nicky.

Poland is also here - however they have a worse qualification record than Ireland, a poorer running order draw and, dare I say it, a weaker song. But there are plenty of former Soviet countries voting in this semi.

Albania, the other country left in the running, also has a mixed qualification record - however has provided the aforementioned 'WTF' qualifiers in the past.

The big unknowns

There are two big unknowns when trying to judge Nicky's performance. The reason the rehearsals come across as static is because the camera work will give the impression of movement in the arena setting. Swedish hosts SVT are excellent at staging live music events, so how it appears on screen will hugely affect its chances. If the camera work flows and is tight, that's half the battle.

His jury performance last night was also reported as strong - meaning Nicky has been able to up his game when it matters.

The other unknown is the Westlife fanbase - will they vote? And will they vote in large enough numbers to sway the result?

In our ten semi final appearances I've only predicted Ireland's result incorrectly once - in 2012.

This was Jedward's second attempt with a dramatically weaker song and performance than their first; however it is widely believed their European fanbase got them over the line to qualify. Can Westlife's do the same for Nicky Byrne?

When British boyband Blue represented the UK in 2011, they finished fifth in the televote (the juries marked them down due to very dodgy live vocals and staging) - so boyband nostalgia has a value with the voting public in Europe.

Westlife were even bigger than Blue - so will that see Nicky finish in the top five in the televote?

It's an incredibly difficult one to call; Based on attitude and har work alone Nicky Byrne deserves to qualify. The song, not without its detractors, is one of the best ten songs in the semi final. But this competition isn't held on radio - the visual is crucial.

Is the performance, which is largely without any central theme to pull it together, going to prove forgettable for the voting public at large?

I'll put a health warning on this; normally I only predict eight or nine out of ten correctly. So at least two predictions on this list won't come to be.

It's a real head over heart situation, but I think Nicky will miss the cut. There's something there that tells me he might still make it; yet judging purely on what we know I think he's out. We'll know by 10pm tonight.


Join Brian O'Reilly for our live blog of the second Eurovision Semi Final tonight from 7.45pm.

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