All 17 of the second semi-finalists have now graced us with their planned performances for next Thursday night, and it's time to judge which of today's countries can be classified as... (dramatic drum roll) ...winners and losers!
The day started with two winners back-to-back, as Israel delivered a charmingly goofy, sufficiently-but-not-overly-choreographed bit of fun that we so desperately needed after yesterday's darkness and misery, before Latvia returned us to a dark path but with a genuinely edgy and real-world performance (and that dress looks much better on stage than off it, trust me!). I'm going to put Cyprus in this category too, though I do worry that their performance appeals to me because I'm English and it's a very Anglo-friendly kind of vibe they're creating. Will they vote for it in Podgorica or Baku? And finally, and to my great surprise, I'm giving Poland a "winner" thumbs-up. It's not that Monika and her team are suddenly definite qualifiers or anything, but they have a different and distinctive staging and a visual narrative that viewers will quickly grasp - time will tell whether it's enough to counteract the averageness of the song.
Sweden are somewhere in the middle, simply because a pair of lederhosen and a new hat aren't enough to constitute "improvement". And Azerbaijan belong there too, because Elnur looks pained every time he sings, and they have some fantastic conceptual ideas but some quite bizarre ones too (I'm aware that those descriptions aren't necessarily mutually exclusive in a Eurovision context, but in this case they are).
Now I keep saying it, but I do feel bad according "loser" status to anyone - but let's bear in mind we're talking about reality vs. expectations here, rather than an absolute judgement. As such, the piercing vocals and lost little girl actions of Iceland weren't enough to offset the gorgeous "Northern Lights" backdrop; the seriously dodgy backing vocals and yet-another-blue-and-black staging of Switzerland weren't enough to offset a solid vocal and visual performance from Mélanie; and fan favourite Slovenia came across as surprisingly insubstantial and unable to offset the undertow of what preceded it.
So there we go! Off to get some food with Roger now, then it's back bright and early for... *consults schedule* ...hm, it says here we have to sit through the entire first semi-final over an eight-hour period. That can't possibly be right.
We'll also be starting to publish some of the fun interviews that Tom has recorded with this year's artists, so look out for that!