Friday 17 May 2013

Jury Final - live blog (part 2)

We are back after miss Woodruff, and Your Fishy Fishyness is at the ready!

NETHERLANDS - Not much new to report about Anouk - still steady, professional and lovely. Comes across very different and strong, but I do think it would benefit even more by being after another song rather than a break.

Sild: 6th-10th, Sam: 6th-10th, Yair: 5th-10th

ROMANIA - And the contrast couldn't be greater... Which I think helps both Romania and Netherlands, actually. I'm glad Cezar is here, as much as I hate it, as it makes for great Saturday night tv. Absolutely no idea what the juries and televoters will make of this, though!

Sild: 15th-20th, Sam: 13th-18th ,Yair: 12th-17th

UNITED KINGDOM - Aww, bless her, showing off her nice little mansion by the sea and all in her postcard. On paper, this should benefit a lot from being after Romania, as a normal song after the mad circus act, but it somehow doesn't quite work. That said, maybe it'd be even worse after something else...? She comes across less as an old rocker today, and more, well, old woman, which is a shame. Steady vocals and a good enough performance, though - and a massive applause in the press centre - are we in the British section...?

Sild: 17th-24th, Sam: 25th, Yair: 12th-17th

SWEDEN - Some nice eye contact in the build-up to the first YOOUUAUAUAOO here - the very boy-next-door and sincere-looking Robin is looking straight into the camera and connecting very well. Nothing wrong with his vocals today, and the random dancing isn't looking as useless anymore either - am I just getting used to it? Can't see this troubling the upper part of the scoreboard, but it won't be because of the performance.

Sild: 9th-17th, Sam: 8th-12th, Yair: 9th-13th

HUNGARY - The guitarist is rocking it as always, bouncing about and smiling - I think this rubs off nicely on ByeAlex himself actually, by somehow proving that his introvert indifference isn't actual indifference, they are actually enjoying this, even if they aren't going all Solayoh about it. Hopinghopinghoping this will do well, but fear it might get a little lost...

Sild: 10th-20th, Sam: 10th-20th, Yair: 10th-20th

DENMARK - Well, what is there left to say... I still can't see why it should be head over heels above the rest, but it clearly is a strong entry. She's very charismatic and eye-sparkling in parts of this, whereas she looks a bit, hmm, calculated (calculating?) in others. Is she getting bored of it...?

Sild: top 5, Sam: top 3, Yair: 1st-8th

ICELAND - One thing this entry benefits from is that it fits with the impressions (wrong or right) people have of Iceland - a blonde viking, slightly Celtic-sounding, dark, atmospheric... Makes it seem more genuine, somehow. The fact it's performed flawlessly with great camerawork obviously helps it too...

Sild: 9th-16th, Sam: 10th-15th, Yair: 5th-11th

AZERBAIJAN - He managed to find the camera in the second shot - yay! God, the eyes... Other than that, he looks a bit sweaty today - has he been out running again? I can't see this winning all of Europe over, but it's destined to do very well. The massive tail of red woman doesn't quite work when she's getting towards the centre of the stage, as the end of it is still on the catwalk - it ends up hanging over the audience in the front. Who gets a peek under her dress?

Sild: 2nd-6th - Sam: 3rd-5th, Yair: 3rd-5th

GREECE - Nothing new here - solid as always, even if not my thing at all - well, apart from the lead singer, that is. Bound to do very well in the televote, especially from this spot, but I think the juries will vote it down somewhat.

Sild: 7th-12th, Sam: 3rd-7th, Yair: 3rd-7th

UKRAINE - Ooops, giant not quite getting his steps in sync with the trembling beat this time! It does look far less ridiculous than it did it first, though. Zlata is very eager to show off her butterfly ring, there's lots of flaring about with her hand, along with the wriggling on top of her little island. She's in great voice, and there's little reason why the juries shouldn't vote for this. Got a massive cheer in the press centre too - are we in the Ukrainian section too...?

Sild: 5th-8th, Sam: 8th-12th, Yair: 7th-12th

ITALY - Marco is still in turqoise dress with a matching tie, starting off with a slightly weird-looking posture and drunken eyes in the close-ups. Probably meant to be 'emotional', but comes across more like dizziness right now. He also appears to be groping his crotch as if he really needs a wee - you should've gone before you went on stage, Marco! There's little wrong with this vocally, and he should do well with the juries based on this performance - he also managed to melt Yami completely! I do have my doubts about the televoting appeal, though... Hmmm.

Sild: 4th-15th, Sam: 4th-9th, Yair: 2nd-7th

NORWAY - We all know what we're getting here, and Margaret is indeed delivering - no issues visually or vocally. I'm really struggling to avoid getting my hopes up for this one...

Sild: top 5, Sam: top 5, Yair: 6th-11th

GEORGIA - "I just rally hate her face" says Sam from my right. And I don't really disagree. Good thing there seems to be lots of long camera shots, then. Good reaction in the press centre, but still leaves me quite cold.

Sild: 9th-12th, Sam: 8th-12th, Yair: 7th-12th

IRELAND - I think this really works as the last song - no winner, but good enough, and interesting enough to watch (hi dancer boys!) to keep people in front of the tv until the end, rather than head for refills or wees. He's singing it like he's done most of the time - with some crack-ups, but perfectly adequate for what it is.

Sild: 8th-15th, Sam: 13th-20th, Yair: 9th-16th

And there you have it! A very interesting draw, actually, seeing them in sequence like this - for all I still think the new way of doing it is unnecessary and stupid, they way it's done here does make each song (at least most of them) shine as much as they possibly can, simply by being after something that's a bit different.

I'll do a prediction of the full result tomorrow morning (ish), so watch this space. Meanwhile, leave us your views, your recipes for waffles or your phone numbers if you're hot in the comment field below - we'll hit the wine!

Jury Final - live blog (Part 1)

Good evening from the press centre in Malmö. Sild, Yair and I are here to blog the jury final, where half of the votes for tomorrow's contest will be cast. That means its important for the acts to give their best - especially for those who will be hoping to appeal to the juries in particular (we're looking at you Iceland).

We'll blog our thoughts on each song, and all three of us will give a prediction on each song's chances.

As we saw earlier, while Benny and Björn and Avicii's song plays, each of the acts walks on to the stage with the flag bearer of their country, just like the Olympics, except with more difficulty walking down steps (so more like the Paralympics in that regard, one could say).

Petra Mede gets a huge round of applause at the beginning, despite a horrible hot pink dress. Her script and delivery are much tighter this evening, even if she is referring to a prompt card for much of the introduction. 44 countries watching this year? So that's the 39 competing, Australia and...? All in all, it's a long intro - it's nearly 14 minutes into the show before we make it to the first postcard.

Incidentally, it's good to see the hall so full for a jury final!

FRANCE - arty shots are the order of the day, almost like in 2008. I'm not changing my opinion much from earlier - it's a safe, solid opener, but not one to challenge the scoreboard. Amandine will probably be relying on the juries for most of her votes, and accordingly is giving a much better performance than earlier - but even so, I'm not sure she really hits the notes with all the potential she could.

Sam: 16th-20th, Sild: bottom 5, Yair: 19th-25th

LITHUANIA - an enthusiastic crowd clapping along, and Andrius really is getting sexier with each performance. Though what will the juries think to the little pokey-out tongue he's giving them? This is a song that really has improved throughout rehearsals, and certainly deserves to be in this final. A good performance with genuine charm - not just eyebrows.

Sam: 17th-22nd, Sild: 15th-20th, Yair: 15th-19th

MOLDOVA - Hi Pasha and Pasha's arms! And hi dancers' arms too! Aliona is back to the swoopy-to-the-side hair for tonight. Despite what Martin said earlier, I'm not sure this is a very good draw for this song - it really benefited from standing out near the end in the semi-final, and I think it risks being forgotten here. And possibly the weakest she's performed it all week too - sounding not quite on top of everything, voice cracking very slightly on the biggest notes. Let's hope the juries didn't mind.

Sam: 13th-16th, Sild: 9th-14th, Yair: 10th-15th

FINLAND - tonight isn't really Krista's night - the juries aren't her key audience. It's a good performance as always though, both vocally and visually: this woman really does have so much personality! And it's certainly one that will get the audiences talking, but I do wonder if it's the kind of song that people enjoy, talk about... but don't actually vote for. Which is a shame, as it would actually be a pretty decent winner for the contest - punchy, contemporary and a social media genius.

Sam: 15th-20th, Sild: 18th-23rd, Yair: 12th-17th

SPAIN - a different yellow dress with horrible gold blingy jewelry on the shoulders and what looks like a stain on one of her boobs. We always said that this risked being a televoting nul points, but should pick up enough points from the juries to keep it off the bottom. I'd changed my mind earlier this week, but the first minute of the performance was enough to make me worry that we could be seeing our first overall jury/televote nul. It got better but... I worry. Notably, the last line of the song is now in English.

Sam: last, Sild: bottom 5, Yair: bottom 5

BELGIUM - uff, a nervy and pitchy start. It got a lot better, and this is just the same as it's always been. Roberto is a combination of terrified and/or overly expressive and he's wearing very pink lipstick tonight. Oh, and the last note was completely off, very croaky. But he seemed to like it, we even got smiles at the end!

Sam: bottom 5, Sild: 19th-24th, Yair: 15th-22nd

ESTONIA - this is actually a lovely draw for Estonia, after the loudness of Belgium and Finland and the not-very-good-ness of Spain. Birgit sings beautifully as ever, and is incredibly expressive without taking it over the top. I'd like to think this could surprise, and the performance tonight won't hurt that in the slightest.

Sam: 13th-19th, Sild: 17th-25th, Yair: 19th-25th

BELARUS - "Why do they have a monkey on a disco ball in the postcard?" wonders Sild. Good question. A good performance from Alonya, probably her best all week actually, both vocally and in terms of not being so wooden on stage. Everyone's back in their costumes from the semi-final, arms out and all. A strong performance, and it's one of the few songs fishing in its pool - could do well.

Sam: 9th-13th, Sild: 18th-23rd, 18th-25th

MALTA - smiley smiley Gianluca is just loving being there, and it's really very endearing. I wonder how the juries will take this - it's either very arty and genuine, or it might be a bit amateur. But they're the questions we've been asking all season. Gianluca is increasingly falling into the habit of chopping his phrases too early, probably because of breathing issues, but it makes the song sound a little rushed. He's back at the bench very late again after lots of high-fives - perhaps a deliberate decision?

Sam: 18th-22nd, Sild: 12th-18th, 12th-17th

RUSSIA - if the juries are going for a big vocal, here it is. Dina hasn't put a foot wrong all week, and the five singers on stage really do create a huge wall of sound. As I mentioned earlier, Dina is starting to get to grips with emoting the song too - she does look like she means it. And once again the audience didn't bat around the stupid balls the throw into the audience. Crappy idea. And the lights on the wristbands looks far too calculated, with far too many shots of them, to be as effective as the Russians were probably hoping.

Sam: 6th-10th, Sild, 8th-13th, 6th-11th

GERMANY - the sparkly heels are back! There's a great shot during the middle 8 (we are glo-o-o-o-o-o) where the camera soars from behind Natalie over a celebratory audience, which is very effective, as are the shots where she's surrounded by flags on the catwalk. I'm not sure she completely nailed it tonight, but her big market is tomorrow.

Sam: 6th-10th, Sild: top 5, Yair: top 5

ARMENIA - some unfortunate shots of a crowd who really don't care here. Another professional performance from a very professional act it remains to be seen what the juries think though.

Sam: 12th-16th, Sild: 14th-20th, Yair: 10th-17th,

Hm, interesting, we went into the postcard for Netherlands, leading us to assume they'd moved the break back to between Songs 13 and 14. But no, the postcard suddenly cut out and we're back to Petra introducing Lynda Woodruff. Lots of laughs in the press centre for the EBU spokesperson's tour around Stockholm.

And NOW it's time for Netherlands, and I will hand over to Sild for the second half of this rehearsal!

Final Dress Rehearsal 1 - live blog

Welcome to the first dress rehearsal of the final of Eurovision 2013! In a few moments, we'll hear the final songs in their running order for the very first time. I'm blogging from a seat in the hall, wifi permitting, so keep refreshing this page for my thoughts on the songs as we go. And Sild and I will be blogging the jury final from the screens in the press centre later tonight.

We have a slight delay in the hall, but we're soon about to start!

The opening film appears to be a caterpillar making its way around Europe. Obviously. Unfortunately, they had to cut the bit where the caterpillar hibernates and wakes up as Valentina Monetta after San Marino didn't qualify last night.

Oh, this is new! During the opening song (which I assume is the Benny/Björn/Avicii thing), all the acts come down the ramp to the stage, proceeded by a flag-holder - it's all a bit like the Olympics (or Junior Eurovision, if you prefer), except Greece aren't first. It'll be interesting to see tomorrow how many come down in full stage-costume and make-up - it could be a taste of things to come for the audience, or a spoiler.

Petra then proceeds to introduce the show, and the camera 'placed in the home of an Australian family watching right now'. This is very much the first run-through of the script, so don't be surprised if a lot of this has changed by tomorrow night. Some gags that don't really work, and asking if everyone's ready in French is a nice touch, but only about three people clapped. We're also now in a gap while Petra and the director discuss things.

FRANCE - an interesting and slightly muted choice of opener by SVT. Maybe Amandine has a late flight to catch? Amandine's singing well, as might be expected, but not fully attacking the big notes in the last chorus, but one assumes that'll change by tonight - indeed, Amandine just said at the end of her performance "I'm not singing too loud for my voice". Either way, I do wonder what kind of impact this will have on first.

LITHUANIA - the rather quiet start to the contest continues - it's almost as if SVT are easing the audience into the show with some competent if unremarkable acts before getting to the big guns. Lithuania was never challenging for the win, and still isn't, and probably loses out from not being after weird things. It works well enough, but easily forgettable by the end.

MOLDOVA - I'm very surprised SVT put this on so early. Aliona isn't wearing the top half of her dress (don't worry, she's got a t-shirt on), which makes this look a little odd, but the effect with the dress and the rising and that big note is still spine-tingling - and I suspect she'll benefit from being the first to use the lift. It might look a little tired by the time the UK comes around.

(Martin of next to me pointed out that Moldova have got the Suus-draw. Interesting.)


FINLAND - By contrast, Krista is in full costume again (how many of these wedding dresses does she own?), and as always looks and sounds great. This'll wake the parties up over Europe and provide a big talking point.

SPAIN - The intro to Spain looks and sounds great, and provides a big contrast to the hi-jinx of Finland right before it. I suspect those same parties will all still be chatting about Krista's kiss over most of this though. I'm blinded by my love for it, but there's still a tiny part of me that thinks that Spain could surprise. Unsurprisingly, the Spaniards to our right loved it.

BELGIUM - bless Roberto, it was a huge deal for him and Belgium to reach this final, and I'm so glad for them that they have. He totally missed his cue into the first chorus, ending up a whole beat ahead of the backing track. Let's hope he doesn't do that in front of the juries tonight. He's also wearing a big scarf, presumably to protect his voice, but you can hear some of the amateurism coming out, as he's sitting off the notes in the quiet sections, only to belt the big loud ones.

ESTONIA - Estonia panicked a bit when they made this final, as they hadn't budgeted for enough dry ice and fog for any more performances! But it looks like they've decided to splash out!. As for the song, still lovely, but probably needed to be drawn into the second half to stand of a chance of not being doomed to a bottom five finish here.

BELARUS - for those interested, Alyona walks out next to the disco ball and then climbs inside, rather than being carried inside it (or rolled! That could've been fun!). You know what this is - PYRO, ARMS, CHA CHA, YAZ BITTI MOMENT. Some slightly different outfits for the backing dancers though, white accessorised with black.

If you're reading, please comment and say hi! It's always good to know what you guys think!

MALTA - Gianluca spent too long high-fiving audience members last night, and only just made it back to the bench in time for the end of the song. No danger of that today, with no audience on the floor. I really have no idea how this is doing. It doesn't really engage me, but it's done pretty well - could honestly come anywhere from 6th to 26th.

RUSSIA - Dina's in what looks like her school uniform. This honestly sounds absolutely stunning in here, and Dina's actually showing some emotion. They're still trying the ridiculous ball-throwing thing, but I honestly think is a Top 5 contender once again.

GERMANY - Well, Natalie really got the crowd going in here! I can't really tell how well she's singing, with the sound-balance in here, but it's probably safe to assume she's doing pretty well. She's in jeans and her boots tonight, so we'll have to wait to see if they've decided to keep the heels she struggles to walk fast in! I don't think they've made as much of the background as they could have done, but still - a potential winner? Certainly should be top 10 anyway.

ARMENIA - well, Martin clapped. This is the same as it always was, and I still have no real idea how it's going to do. Could suffer by coming after the crowd-pleaser that is Germany though.

Oh, and now we have the break, rather than after Song 13 as we were expecting. Lynda Woodruff is in Stockholm, and I won't spoil anymore than that.

NETHERLANDS - after the break, rather than before, as we expected. On one hand, we felt it would benefit from being the last song before the break, on the other hand, this way we don't have the downbeat run of Armenia and Netherlands together, which might have hurt it. As always, a very good performance from Anouk.

ROMANIA - one person clapped for this too (not Martin this time). Cezar has a t-shirt on under his jacket, meaning his chest isn't on display as much as usual, and the dancers have got (some of) their clothes on. Interestingly, while the fans don't care, the choir who sang the opening song and are sat watching the show in the arena are clapping along. I predict big televoting scores from a few countries, and very little from juries and viewers elsewhere.

UNITED KINGDOM - Bonnie's wearing an off-the-shoulder black number that I assume might well be the final outfit - I can't see why she'd be wearing it otherwise. From loving this at its first rehearsal, I'm back to finding it unremarkable, particularly in this company - could the bottom 5 beckon again for the UK?

SWEDEN - Robin has his hair down right now, which actually suits him better than the high style he normally favours. Other than that, it's all much the same as we reported earlier in the week, just tidier, as it to be expected. Another one that I'm not really convinced works on stage... it feels like we're warming back up for the big contenders closer to the end.

HUNGARY - my fingers are very firmly crossed for Hungary. I didn't think it was qualifying after the dress rehearsal I watched, so was ecstatic to see it come out of the envelope last night. They're keeping the words on the backdrop in English, which I'm not convinced really works, but I doubt it affects the song one way or the other really. and after not contributing to the backing vocals last night, the guitarist has had his mic stand removed today. Other than that, you know how this one is already! A possible outsider?

DENMARK - now we're gearing up, and Emmelie has been placed perhaps surprisingly early for such a favourite. It makes sense they've kept Denmark and Norway apart though. The Danes have long ironed out and kinks in this performance, but there's no sign they're just going through the motions. They also have by far the most effective curtain of sparks, and is definitely still on my list of potential winners.

ICELAND - the surprise of the second semi-final for me, Iceland worked beautifully in its draw, with its simplicity and pure vocal. It'll benefit by being on later here, but is perhaps hurt by having to follow Denmark. Will certainly have its votes though, and could well be a dark-horse for a top 5 spot.

AZERBAIJAN - we're really into a very strong part of the show now, and this really is a very good final! Farid is looking hot - in both ways. That velour tracksuit can't be comfortable to wear! It looks like the female dancer has an even longer dress than before, as the end of the train never even leaves its starting point. Something tells me that Azerbaijan isn't a winner, but I'd be shocked if its not up there in the reckoning.

GREECE - I won money on this last night, betting on Greece to finish higher than San Marino. Thank you for the free money! The boys aren't in their stage outfits, but are still bouncing about and full of energy, despite already being pretty drunk by the time they were interviewed on Telia's after-show last night. Another contender for the top 5 here, particularly with a Saturday night audience and being on this late.

UKRAINE - I walked past the giant for the first time in the press centre today - my word, he really is huge! Zlata is lifted into his arms by a stage hand at the beginning, and the backing singers are crouching at the back, rather than coming up through the floor like they did on Tuesday. It's still to be seen what the audiences at home will really make of this, and if they manage to stop laughing at the giant long enough to listen to the song at all.

ITALY - well, he'll need to sing better than this tonight. It's in tune for the most part, but rather faltering and breathy. He also seems to have opted for a mint-green coloured suit, which wouldn't have particularly been my choice. He still wanders out to the end of the catwalk for the last chorus, which I've already stated by disapproval for. I do still think that if he nails this, it's a good enough song and he has the tons of charisma necessary to do very well.

NORWAY - Margaret's in a white t-shirt with bananas on it, and a big fluffy cardy. She still sounds phenomenal though, and this is a great draw for this song. I can't help wondering if by splitting up Denmark and Norway like they have, and giving Norway the seemingly more favourable slot, they're trying to even up what might have been quite a lop-sided voting.

GEORGIA - I am so exceptionally over this. I normally love a good belter of a ballad, but over the last week Sophie in particular has become more and more shouty, and there's just no passion whatsoever. That may be prejudicing my views, but I think this might be a relative miss for Georgia, particularly compared to the hype in the press centre a week ago. Also, Christer Bjorkman's husband is standing worryingly close to the shower of sparks! Look out!

IRELAND - has some element of being a bit of a wind-down after the climax of the last few songs. A solid closer to a very good show, Ireland can be proud of their boy, but he's not a challenger tomorrow night. For my part though, I would be very happy to see Ryan score higher than Jedward!

Petra follows Ryan on stage to answer some questions, and present Jean-Paul Gaultier, the designer of her dress who will apparently be in the audience tomorrow night. After the usual voting explanation gumph, we're into the reprise.

Some quick stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the recaps: I'd forgotten Spain had even happened, which isn't a good sign. They've not exactly chosen the best part of their song either, the beginning of one of the slow-into-fast choruses. France have the last chorus. Estonia's recap works well in this company. Germany's recap is the chorus where Natalie walks along the catwalk, a wise choice. The UK's recap is the end of the second chorus, so doesn't get a 'Believe in MEEEEEEE-yeah' bit, which is a mistake, while Sweden get a strong section of the second chorus. I think these clips are slightly shorter than the ones used in the semi - which makes sense as there's 26 to get in! Iceland again is very effective here, as is Azerbaijan. Italy have a chorus (and not a very well-sung one tonight!), and Norway again really stands out.

For the voting interval we have Loreen's new single with a suitably dramatic performance, segueing into Euphoria partway through. It's really poorly filmed at the moment, and I wonder how many times they're going to have Loreen back in here once we've left to run through this again. A second recap, and Petra almost misses the end of the voting and has to start the countdown from 1!

A baffling film about the Swedes and their attitudes leading into a musical skit by Petra, both best filed under 'Swedish humour'. Seriously excriatingly bad, and never-ending on top of that. WHERE IS CAROLA???

Oh, there she was, for about a second. Though it might have just been a stand-in, we're too far away to really tell. Now we're on to the third in the sequence of films on Eurovision history, and again I'm not going to spoil this one for you, except to tell you that there's some delightfully uncomplimentary comments about Linda Martin.

And Saade's in the green room! Yay! Does this mean we can include him in the hotties list now?

Oh! It's Sarah Dawn Finer singing The Winner Takes it All. This might just be the longest interval ever... And WHERE IS CAROLA??

Aha, Saade again, and Jon Ola Sand... we must be approaching the voting now...

...nope! More incomprehensible dancing! If I understand correctly, this dance might well be a man 'making' the scoreboard, or perhaps designing the voting order.

So, anyway, who's it to be? Sild and I are back tonight to blog the jury final, where half the votes for tomorrow's results will be decided. See you later!

"The same countries qualify every year!"

It's that time of year again, the time when fans from around the continent complain that the fact that their favourite song didn't qualify means that Eurovision is all a fix, that SVT planned it for their own favourites to succeed, and that neighbourly and diaspora voting means that some countries always get through, and others never had a chance.

What a load of rubbish.

Firstly, the Nordic countries. Though they have a strong record, it's certainly not a given for any of them that they will make it to the final. In recent years we've seen high-profile casualties like Stella Mwangi and Anna Bergendahl missing out, and Finland tend to only qualify one year in every two.

Much of the fire for this criticism has come from the result of the Israeli entry, which was a surprising non-qualifier last night - and it was Israel's third non-qualification in a row, a fact that has prompted fans to assume that Israel will never get through, whatever they send. This ignores the fact that they had had three straight qualifications prior to that, and that the songs they sent in the last two years were either poorly performed or just plain inaccessible for the contest.

Going through some of the others, it's particularly unbelievable that some fans are crying foul and claiming that the same countries always qualify in a year when both Belgium and the Netherlands have made it to the final. For once, both sent strong songs with good performances, and were justly rewarded.

That's the underlying thing - it's about sending a good song and a good performance and being rewarded for it. Yes, there are countries that 'always' qualify, like Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine, but they are also countries who take the contest most seriously and put a huge amount of effort into their song selection and staging. They've never seemed unlikely to qualify for the past few years, simply because they've always entered sure-fire qualifiers.

On the other hand, one could argue that they 'always' get through because of geographical and neighbourly voting. Of course, this does play some role, but it's simply impossible to argue that all the ex-Soviets will always qualify thanks to friendly votes. Take Belarus - seen as one of the bad guys in this scenario, they're hardly a consistent qualifier, with only two successful entries before now. Armenia has missed out before, even with heavy diaspora support, and Latvia has never qualified in recent years, despite having the same theoretical neighbourly support that sees Estonia and Lithuania through. It all comes down to the song.

Particularly interesting is the fact that, this year, none of the ex-Yugoslav songs qualified to the final, and two of these countries haven't seen a final in a number of years now. The thing is, if we were having this discussion five years ago, the argument would be "but the ex-Yu countries always qualify, whatever they send". That assertion has now been proved very firmly wrong... and so it goes on.

Quite simply, if you want to be a sure-fire qualifier every year, send something good every year. And yes, there are countries who it seems have absolutely no chance of qualifying, whatever they send. But what else do you expect when what you're sending is Valentina Monetta?

ESC2013 Final: Download printable scorecard here!

This morning, SVT revealed the running order for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest final.

France opens and Ireland is last to perform.
Other remarkable starting positions are those by Italy and Azerbaijan, both fairly late. This is at the expense of Denmark, which, sandwiched between the calmer songs Hungary and Iceland, will still probably make sufficient impact to go big on saturday.


So this is it.

1. France
2. Lithuania
3. Moldova
4. Finland
5. Spain
6. Belgium
7. Estonia
8. Belarus
9. Malta
10. Russia
11. Germany
12. Armenia
13. The Netherlands
14. Romania
15. United Kingdom
16. Sweden
17. Hungary
18. Denmark
19. Iceland
20. Azerbaijan
21. Greece
22. Ukraine
23. Italy
24. Norway
25. Georgia
26. Ireland