Eurovision Semi final one: Who’s the competition?
I ADMIT it. I’ve a problem. All my family and friends know it and have learned to accept it. I love the Eurovision.
This is when those of us who aren’t into sports get to express our national pride, albeit through the medium of cheesy pop music.
The semi finals have become somewhat of a badge of honour among fans – who can predict the most qualifiers?
Last year, I predicted nine correctly in semi final one and the full ten in the second semi final.
However other years I have dropped as low as six and seven correct – there’s no exact science.
It used to be easier, when countries with large voting diasporas abroad would help them make it, however with the juries making a return it’s become less easy to predict.
There’s a perception that the juries like old style ballads, and while they are more predisposed to them, they still certainly vote heavily for contemporary pop music.
Last year’s winner Loreen was a game changer, the song was the most contemporary one to win the contest in decades, and has sold over two million copies – it was by any standards a massive pan-continental hit.
Ireland have rolled with this trend and have sent a modern pop song – it would seem in recent years we are slowly getting our Eurovision mojo back.
However the big cloud always looming is the unpredictable semi finals, which we take part in tonight.
I’ve been in the arena, I’ve seen it on screen as a full show, and here’s my prediction for how tonight will go.
Natalia Kelly - Shine
There's a bit of Irish interest here, as Austrian singer Natalia has Irish roots. Her song is a mid tempo ballad which builds nicely throughout, and is simply staged. She looks great on camera and her vocal performances have been fantastic all week. If the public don't pick it the jury vote should help it over the line.
Birgit - Et Uus Saaks Alguse
Birgit is a very competent performer and comes across well on camera, however she doesn't have a song to deliver. Her ballad is banal and forgettable, and unfortunately coming so early in the running order nearly certainly rules her out. The juries may like it, but I can't see anyone picking up the phone to vote for it.
Hannah - Straight Into Love
This song has clearly been influenced by last year's winner, however it is no where close to the same league as 'Euphoria'. It attempts to blend light and shade similar to 'Euphoria' however it fails, and the song comes across disjointed as a result. Could just make it over the line thanks to its neighbours, but I think it's out.
Klapa s mora - Mizerja
There are four former Yugoslavian states in this semi final, along with three or four other countries very friendly to them in voting, so statistically one or two will get through, regardless of song. This is one of them. This is an attempt to be Il Divo - you know, men singing opera all dramatically. It looks nice on camera but it's an incredibly dull song. However I think jury votes and enough friendly televoters in neighbouring countries will see it through.
Emmelie de Forest - Only Teardrops
This is the huge favourite to not only win this semi final, but the entire competition - and it's easy to see why. There's military drum beating played off against soaring tin whistle playing throughout, a majestic conclusion and Emmelie is a natural on camera. It's one of those Eurovision songs you'll find yourself humming randomly days later. Sailing through this semi final and clearly the hot favourite for the final.
Dina Garipova - What If
Russia is one of those countries in Eurovision which could send a singing carrot and still get through. They will always have enough friendly neighbours in a semi to see them through. That being said however Dina will more than earn her place in the final. It's probably the strongest balled this year and is staged perfectly. Could be a contender for overall victory.
Zlata Ognevich - Gravity
Those who are early risers and end up watching Euronews will already be familiar with this song, as an ad featuring it has gone into heavy rotation on the channel. Zlata is carried on stage by a real giant to open her performance. The melody is catchy, it's staged very well and Ukraine have a 100% success rate in semi finals. Will be seeing this again Saturday.
Anouk - Birds
Anouk is huge in her native country and stunned many when she announced she'd enter the competition. Her song is completely different to anything we're used to seeing in Eurovision, and is one of the most contemporary, in the vein of what Lana del Ray is doing. This will be the 10th time Netherlands competes in a semi final, and they've only qualified once, back in 2004. However if nothing else the juries will guarantee this sees the final.
Who See - Igranka
Montenegro have completely blown their chances of qualifying with a completely off the wall performance, and not even the sort that works well at Eurovision. The two male rappers are dressed as astronauts. Why? Well it's not really clear at the start of the song. Or the end. 'Just cause' it seems. It's actually very contemporary, and I'd imagine after last night's jury vote it's already out.
Andrius Pojavis – Something
Lithuania’s entry isn’t missing something, it’s missing everything. Andrius has no charisma on camera, and comes across incredibly amateurish. There’s barely a discernible melody to the song, and it comes across incredibly dull on screen. Would be major shock if it gets through.
Alyona Lanskaya – Solayoh
Belarus have only qualified twice for the final, however with a lot of ballads in this semi this will go down a welcome break. It’s everything we expect from eurovision – scantily clad dancers, ethnic beats and enough pyro to destroy a small town. The juries may not like it, but the public vote should help it scrape over the line.
Aliona Moon - O Mie
Regular viewers of the competition may remember an act staged almost identically last year, when Azerbaijan’s entry had a dress made of LED. However Moldova has taken it one step further, with the dress extending up towards the sky. IT’s dramatic, border-line camp but it looks fantastic on screen. But the gimmick also serves another function, it hides quite an ordinary song. However it’s sure to qualify.
Ryan Dolan – Only Love Survives
Ryan has come on in leaps and bounds since we first saw him perform this on the Late Late. It looks fantastic on camera, it’s well choreographed and comes across as really slick. It went down an absolute storm with the audience for the jury performance last night, in fact getting the second loudest cheer of the night, after Denmark (Malmo being a 20 minute train journey from Copenhagen). Ireland always has a tough time in Semi finals, the time we have qualified we have just scraped over the line. However with a solid jury performance, and with Ireland friendly countries such as the UK, Denmark and Sweden all voting in this semi, hopefully we’ll be seeing Ryan again on Saturday.
Despina Olympiou - An Me Thimasai
If Cyprus is drawn out as a qualifier tonight, Irish viewers should be worried. The juries will absolutely love this song, however it will not do well on the televote. Depending on the way the points fall it could pick off a song that would otherwise qualify, which could put Ireland in the danger zone. I don’t think the public will get behind this at all, and unless the juries think of it as the winner it will probably be eliminated.
Roberto Bellarosa – Love Kills
This is a song many people around here are saying could qualify instead of Ireland. They are both uptempo and by young male singers. However for me that’s where the similarities end. Roberto looks no where near as comfortable on camera,, and the song isn’t as good either. The Netherlands are voting in this semi, but that won’t be enough to see their neighbours over the line.
Verdict: Non- Qualifier
Moje 3 - Ljubav Je Svuda
If a song could be eliminated based on the outfits, this is gone. However Serbia have a solid qualification record, coupled with a lot of friendly neighbours. However that’s no to say the song won’t qualify on its own merits – it’s fun, happy and unashamedly cheesy. The juries probably won’t be mad about it, but the public vote will see it back on Saturday.
So the my prediction of ten qualifiers tonight: