Tuesday 8 May 2018

Haiku #10

Filomena rocks
Yeah yeah, a quali-fire
Luna moon me down

More semi 1 predictions

I add myself to the line of people you're allowed to laugh at tomorrow, but Roger told me it was naughty not to predict, so here we go!

Czech Republic
Yeah yeah, fire

No, I don't know either

But I'm going to write a list of ten countries who might be in the final on Saturday.

Czech Republic

You may laugh at me tomorrow, thank-you.

Fiskeprediction Semi 1

I've been following rehearsals from Bergen and (very hot and sunny!) Lewisham so far this year, so be aware that I have no further magical insight than most of you. All of the below is merely based on whatever others have been saying, some short, official rehearsal clips (i've completely avoided full videos filmed with Nokia 3210 cameras from the back of the hall and such), and a little peek at betting odds fluctuations - but mainly simply my own head and heart and belly and weak bones. To be fair, my predictions in the past have often been better more correct before rehearsals start than after following rehearsals on-site and getting caught in various bubbles and group-thinking, so maybe I'm more to be trusted than some other years...?

Probably not, but hey ho.

We'll obvs not know the full results of tonight's semi until after the final, but I'll attempt a prediction of the complete ranking anyway, maybe msot of all to try to sort out my own thoughts a bit.

1 Estonia | I've liked this a lot since the first time I heard it (and still do), but have never had any faith in it being a winner. Yet here we are... It just feels like while most other favourites have had various hiccups or little things not quite coming together on stage, this seems to be very slick and exactly how it should be, and obviously standing out a mile, much thanks to the dress. I tend to insist you need a really strong song to swwep up the votes, but sometimes the visuals can be enough too, provided the song is decent enough and fits as a soundtrack.
2 Israel | Maybe not quite as excellent as the preview video, but hey, a few steps down from that is still pretty kickass.
3 Cyprus | I was very hopeful when Eleni was announced, as I had hopes for another "Τι Κοιτάς", but I was quite disappointed when the song came out. Promising build-up, but just no chorus at all. The disappointment has faded a bit thanks to this.
4 Czechia | Never quite saw this as a contender for the top spot, but should do decently well.
5 Austria | I fear the televoters will forget this one a bit, so not really hopeful of it doing much come Saturday (even though it deserves it!), but I'm expecting more than enough jury support tonight to make it qualify.
6 Ireland | Sweet, gentle and genuine near the end tends to go well, and the performance of this actually seems to work too. How un-Irish :-o
7 Bulgaria | I really don't understand why they needed to drag up all these people nobody know to fight over the attention in this. Nor do I understand who is going to vote massively for it. But it can't just all be hype, can it...?
8 Greece | No, it can't do a "1944", it doesn't have anything in common with it.
9 Belarus | Anyone else thinking this can make it, or is it just me? It's obviously ridiculous, but I think there might be an audience for this in certain parts of the continent. I also actually think it's a great song, so I might be a bit biased here...
10 Finland | I've been swapping this and Azerbaijan about eleventy-five times now, so I just have to settle for one of them. This is slightly stronger, slightly more "edgy", and a bit later in the draw...
11 Azerbaijan | ...while this is slightly more Azerbaijan, which kinda should trump the above, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
12 Lithuania | It has gained some momentum during rehearsals, and I do think it's quite lovely, but something has to go...
13 Armenia | I tend to forget this exists, and with an Armenian diaspora that's starting to seem slightly less interested, maybe they will too?
14 Albania | I really hope I'm wrong here - maaaayyybe the jury will appreciate his professionalism? Pwettypwease...? 🤞
15 Croatia | At least they're not pouring sand in their faces on stage, that's worth a few points.
16 Belgium | I always found this one 'nice', but rather chanceless. Glad to see most others have come to their senses too.
17 Switzerland | Raise your hand if you hate that hat 🙋‍
18 Macedonia | I looooove this, and I am a firm believer in the fact that great things generally will do great, but no rule without exceptions, I suppose... 😔
19 Iceland | It's just too obvious to predict it last, but then sometimes very obvious things happen.

Decently confident of the first 5-6 or so here, but after that, anything can happen! We're in for a fun and dramatic night!

Predicting Semi 1

Wow, this is tough. Now, I actually don't feel Semi 1 is as loaded as many others seem to think, and that's reflected in my struggles to predict.

I think there are four absolutely nailed on qualifiers, and those are almost certainly the Top 4 too, head and shoulders above the competition, and that's Czech Republic, Israel, Estonia and Cyprus.

At the other end, I only have three absolute not-qualifiers (and that's where much of the feeling about this being a strong semi comes from) - Iceland, Albania and Macedonia are all completely chanceless in this field.

Other than those four at the top though, I really struggle to find other entries that feel like clear qualifiers - in ranking them all in likely finishing order, I certainly struggled to find anything that feels worthy of fifth place. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Top 4 take the vast majority of the big points, leaving the other qualification places a bit of a crapshoot.

I've ended up choosing three entries that feel very likely to qualify, though probably at the lower end of the Top 10, and that's Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Armenia. Azerbaijan feel very on the edge, and X My Heart would probably struggle if it came from anywhere else. Bulgaria feels safer, because we know how much Bulgaria care this year, and they're surely determined to make sure their entry qualifies. And Armenia is strong and competent, with a late draw that should garner sufficient votes.

Going back to the bottom end, I'm also eliminating Croatia - despite strong rehearsals, I just don't feel the song is there. The same goes for Switzerland, whose odds have shortened dramatically in the last 48 hours, but are still coming with a mediocre song and a huge slice of blandness. I also don't really see who votes for Belgium (either juries or televoters) unless they suddenly manage to inject a whole slice of atmosphere into the performance tonight.

That leaves six songs in the middle, fighting for three qualifying places - that's Lithuania, Belarus, Austria, Greece, Finland and Ireland. I'm going out on a limb and calling Ireland as the most likely qualifier of these, and I also think there's potential for Top 5 or so in the semi if they get everything right. At the other end, I think Belarus is the least likely, with a performance likely to alienate juries. I've been betting against Lithuania all season, and I'm still not really convinced, but for now I'm going to allow the opinions of my colleagues in the press centre to sway me into calling it a qualifier. Which leaves one place.

Greece fails to excite me, and I don't really see who votes for it outside its immediate target audience of neighbours, diaspora, jury authenticity-afficionados and fans who pine for the 90s. But then the Norwegian Adresse Lisboa panel called it as their favourite. Or rather, joint favourite with Austria, which I've always found very bland and ordinary, with a performer sorely lacking in any of the personality needed to lift the song. And then there's Finland, which I've always found incredibly hard to call - more than anything else it's really appealing to the relatively new spectrum of the Eurovision audience, the X Factor/Twitter side of fandom, and what I don't know is how much of this there really is, especially outside of a few Western countries. Saara could come as high as sixth tonight, but the fan in me that's watched loud female up-tempo fan-favourites crash out time and again in the noughties isn't convinced.

So, my ranking:

1. Israel
2. Cyprus
3. Estonia
4. Czech Republic

5. Armenia
6. Ireland
7. Bulgaria
8. Azerbaijan
9. Lithuania
10. Greece

11. Finland
12. Austria
13. Belarus
14. Switzerland
15. Croatia

16. Belgium
17. Albania
18. Macedonia
19. Iceland