Saturday, 18 May 2019

I'm giving in too...

Well, I say that. I actually ended up putting Netherlands top in my ESC Nation Message Board pre-rehearsals prediction, because I just couldn't see what else won. And I still feel like that now. At no point have I really felt that Arcade is a likely, or even really a deserving winner - but I don't see anything else winning either. And they can't all come 4th.

It felt quite easy to put the entries into blocks, and I actually have Netherlands and Australia above everything else, as I struggled to find entries to fill the Top 5. To be fair, I'm always like this - in the last few years I've always struggled to visualise these songs doing *well*. Which usually means there's some kind of surprise, like Sunstroke Project or Michael Schulte. If I were to call a surprise Top 5, it would perhaps be Slovenia or Norway. It might even be Spain, though I really don't think so.

So, without further ado...

1. Netherlands
2. Australia
3. Iceland
- I feel like this is the kind of thing that the build-up and the hype will really help; juries in particular really tend to follow hype, so I'm expecting that to make up for the underwhelming live performance.
4. Sweden
5. Azerbaijan
- to be honest, I was underwhelmed by this in the semi, after all the raves from the press centre, but I guess I'm probably missing something there, as I was pretty alone in that opinion. It also doesn't help that I really dislike the song!
6. Switzerland
7. Russia
- it never felt like a winner or even a Top 3 entry from the moment it came out, and I wish I'd had the courage in my convictions to bet on it earlier.
8. Slovenia - genuinely could come anywhere.
9. Malta - a little surprised they put it on first.
10. Norway
11. Czech Republic
- I'm more surprised they put this on so closely after Malta. They're visually similar, and I'm now considering getting out of my original Top 10 bet that I put on weeks ago.
12. France - which I guess makes them Top Big Five by default.
13. Italy
14. Serbia
15. Greece
16. North Macedonia
17. Estonia
18. Spain
19. Cyprus
- hugely underwhelmed by Tamta and everything about this in the semi-final, it wouldn't have shocked me if it had failed to qualify.
20. Albania
21. Denmark
22. San Marino
23. Israel
24. Germany
- 'too obvious to be last' is usually rubbish, but I'm hoping the S?sters might get a little bit of jury love to push them above a couple of other entries.
25. United Kingdom
26. Belarus

I'm finally giving in...


A bit of poolside and restaurantside Norwegian national day celebrations yesterday (mainly involving coriander, muy autentico), followed by a much more important day - IT'S EUROVISION TODAY!

My predicting skills improved greatly from semi 1 to semi 2 (7/10 and 9/10 respectively), so maybe I'm at my peak now? Here's what I think anyway! Have a great evening everyone!

1 Netherlands | I'm finally giving in... Still don't quite 'get' it, but it managed to win others over in the semi, so there clearly is something there that maybe just isn't for me. A bit like Denmark in 2013, basically. And a Dutch win after all these hundreds of years would be fantastictje!
2 Australia | The kind of thing that I'd imagine juries could ignore a bit, but then it's Australia, so here we are...
3 Switzerland | Great draw, great face, great arms, great energy.
4 Sweden | I've supported it all season (and it's still up there with North Macedonia as my absolute favourite!), but I'm caving in for the pressure.
5 Russia
6 Italy | Seems a bit disappointing in clips, but he was meant to be sick and stuff, wasn't he?
7 France | Erk, I promised I wouldn't get sucked in on the hype, didn't I?! It was probably this "exactly"-moment that clinched it. Still not at all convinced by the song, but I'm expecting both juries and televoters to get on board with the message, or maybe most of all with Bilal himself.
8 Greece | *does fingery handmove to reach high notes*
9 Iceland | This seems surprisingly forgotten considering what they're clearly aiming for.
10 Azerbaijan | I'm not at all impressed, but people seem to be, so...
11 Norway | My original thought about this was 'decently safe qualifier, lost in the final', but I'm starting to think it could get a decent amount of televotes from viewers looking for something cheerful and typically Eurovision-y with a hint of "local flavour" (even if that's as fake as can be). Hope it beats Rybak's result last year, at least!
12 Slovenia | I was a bit nervous this would be boring in the semi, but thought it was absolutely magical - monotonous, but sucks you in with the very initimate staging, which they're really nailing with the minimal interactions between them. A shy smile here, a gentle brush on the arm there... #swoon
13 Spain | Have disliked this ever since it was chosen, but his arms and the cheerful performance on last should secure a decent televote result, even if  I'm expecting the juries not to care.
14 Malta | Thought this looked really promising in rehearsal clips, only to look messy and average in the semi. With that early draw too, I can see it going down the Ira Losco route re: jury/televote split, i.e. opposite of Spain.
15 North Macedonia | YAY
16 Serbia
17 Cyprus | Unlike many, I think this works reasonably well (that wet-look-hairgel à la 1992 aside! WHY), but I always thought the song had a limited appeal anyway, so 17th seems about right.
18 Czechia
19 Belarus
20 Albania | Positively surprised at this qualification, but I assume it's without a chance apart from the Swiss televote and such.
21 United Kingdom | Can't see the televoters caring, but could get some random jury votes here and there.
22 Israel | I'm starting to appreciate it more after we did Kobi versions of various other entries at breakfast today. Malta works particularly well.
23 San Marino | This might have gotten some random cheerful televoters going on Tuesday, but I can't see anyone caring now it's buried at #7.
24 Denmark
25 Estonia | A handful of Swedish and Finnish televotes, and that's it? It bloody better be.
26 Germany | Oh dear.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Predicting Semi 2 - trusting my instincts

7/10 for my Semi 1 prediction, which is quite poor, frankly. And my mistake? I allowed myself to be swayed by the words of those in the press centre, and the enthusiasm of those watching the clips we got, and went against my original instincts and included Poland and Georgia among my qualifiers, and took out San Marino. It says a lot that my original, pre-rehearsal prediction, was better, with 9/10.

So tonight, I think I'm going to stick to my guns, and go with my original impressions as far as possible.

There's a lot here that I'd be delighted to be wrong about - my personal Top 10 in this semi contains at least four of the songs I'm predicting to be out after tonight. Unlike Serhat on Tuesday though, I don't think there's any chance my personal last place (and 41/41 overall), Latvia, comes close to qualifying.

1. Netherlands
2. Sweden
3. Russia
4. Azerbaijan
5. Switzerland
- these obvious top 5 have only solidified their positions in rehearsals)
6. Malta - the YouTube ads and the staging variations, different in every rehearsal, only demonstrate how much Malta are trying. And when Malta are trying in ways we can see, you can be sure they're also trying in ways that we're not seeing.
7. Denmark - total semi-final song, especially coming after a bunch of dark, moody songs
8. North Macedonia - surely even Macedonia can't stuff this up now? If they did, it would be...

9. Romania - I think it's only me who believes in this, and I might be blinded by my love of it, but I think it's strong enough to get through, especially with the professional performance it looks like they're delivering
10. Armenia - despite everything, I think they just scrape through, but I debated this one a lot, and considered swapping it with the two below multiple times.

11. Croatia
12. Austria
13. Norway - this is where I'm really sticking to my guns. I love the song, but when it won the Norwegian final, I said to myself 'this is Verona'. I just don't see who votes for this, outside Eurovision fandom.
14. Lithuania - whereas here I'm going against my original instincts, but Lithuania have done none of their normal staging wizardry that lifted their mediocre mid-tempo males into finals past.
15. Albania - again, I just don't see where the audience is for this
16. Moldova
17. Ireland
18. Latvia

Semi 2 As Seen From Above

No, I haven't passed to the other side yet, but I've been hiking! Thanks to the (bad?) influence from some others ESC Nationers, I agreed to get up very early to spend hours walking uphill in the sun around San Bartolomé de Tirajana:

Thanks to this, the following prediction is a bit more brief and less thought through than Tuesday's, but maybe that's all the better, seeing as I only managed 7/10 right then... Think it must be my worst semi prediction in years, it's usually 8/10ish. But here we go, anyway!

1 North Sweden | It just kicks ass, frankly.
2 North Netherlands | Never fully 'got' this, but several seems to, so it's clearly not a case of France 2011 or so where everyone just assumes someone else likes it until it turns out nobody actually do.
3 North Russia | It's all about that cross-chorus at the end!
4 North Switzerland | Could be the one of the safe and obvious one that fails a bit, but even if it does, I can't see it not qualifying, it'd just be 8th or so instead. He's just too charming not too.
5 North Malta | I wore camouflage speedos yesterday to support the blending into the surroundings. Everyone ignored me all day!
6 North Azerbaijan | ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
7 North Very Macedonia | All my goosebumps are polished and ready for action - go get them, Tamara!
8 North Norway | Doubt the juries will get behind it, but televoters probably will, at least reasonably so.
9 North Croatia | Yikes. I've even kinda started enjoying it.
10 North Denmark | Yikes. I've not at all started enjoying it.

11 North Armenia | Just too nondescript, I feel.
12 North Moldova | Maybe the sand might get it up here? But still rather doomed, I suspect. It's not as fitting a song to the concept as Angels was.
13 North Ireland | Please please do better!
14 North Austria
15 North Albania
16 North Romania 
17 North Lithuania | Surely not even the Lithuanian diaspora can save this...?
18 North Latvia | Surprisingly forgettable for something that's 40 minutes long.

A glass of rosé for whoever can guess what my favourite is tonight! Answers on a postcard by tomorrow morning, please.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

And some semifinal 2 predictions

So my semi 1 prediction somehow turned out to be pretty accurate. Only getting Hungary wrong instead of San Marino was a surprise, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see San Marino making it. Serhat wasn't very good, but it's the kind of stuff every Eurovision final needs. So all is well.

Now, the 2nd semifinal is definitely a lot harder. I feel like there's about 15 songs that will qualify. So there's gonna be a lot of room for surprise non-qualifications. And there's a few songs that seem to have gained a lot of momentum with the rehearsals. Austria seems to be in with a good shot of qualifying in spite of previously being considered quite chanceless. KUNG FU PÆNDA seems to be doing a good job of lifting the song on stage, and I can see it getting a decen tresult in the televote and possibly being top 5 with the juries. Another song that seems to have increased its chances a lot with the performance is North Macedonia. Even if it's far from my favourite, I can see it doing better than I originally expected. Will it be enough to qualiy? Maybe... But I am leaning towards a yes.

Otherwise I think most of the more obvious qualifiers (Sweden, Russia, Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Malta, etc) will make it in the end. But if we'll have a surprise non-qualification it could possible be... Norway? I do hope they make it, but it might just be a bit too eurovisiony and gimmicky for the juries, and not strong enough to place high enough with televoters in this strong semifinal. I would be sad to see a Stella Mwangi type of result for it, but maybe that's what will happen. (Now watch them win the semi).

So, it's a really tough semi to predict, but these are my 10 picks.

01 - Armenia - Srbuk - "Walking Out"
02 - Ireland - Sarah McTernan - "22"
03 - Moldova - Anna Odobescu - "Stay"
04 - Switzerland - Luca Hänni - "She Got Me"
05 - Latvia - Carousel - "That Night"
06 - Romania - Ester Peony - "On a Sunday"
07 - Denmark - Leonora - "Love Is Forever"
08 - Sweden - John Lundvik - "Too Late for Love"
09 - Austria - PÆNDA - "Limits"
10 - Croatia - Roko - "The Dream"
11 - Malta - Michela - "Chameleon"
12 - Lithuania - Jurij Veklenko - "Run with the Lions"
13 - Russia - Sergey Lazarev - "Scream"
14 - Albania - Jonida Maliqi - "Ktheju tokës"
15 - Norway - KEiiNO - "Spirit in the Sky"
16 - Netherlands - Duncan Laurence - "Arcade"
17 - North Macedonia - Tamara Todevska - "Proud"
18 - Azerbaijan - Chingiz - "Truth"

I would however not be unhappy if I was wrong when it comes to a lot of these. Ireland qualifying would be very nice, and Lithuania has been one of my favourite songs all season. But this semifinal just has too many songs that deserve the final.