Tuesday 14 May 2019

Predicting semi 1 - the dilemma of Georgia

All season, I've had a pretty solid selection of about five or six songs that definitely don't qualify from Semi 1. They were a group of songs for which I just couldn't see any road to qualification, and top (or bottom, depending on your point of view) of that pile was Georgia.

On the surface, it surely should have no chance. It's basically a combination of last year's Georgian entry, which came dead last, and last year's Armenian entry, which didn't exactly set the scoreboard on fire either. But... it's just so much better than either of those. And it's staged fantastically. So...

Am I the victim of having heard these songs too many times, and analysing them to death*? Should I stick to my original instincts? Or is it just possible that Georgia can defy the odds and make it to the final?

You know, what? I'm going to say yes. There's enough unpredictability in this semi-final, with its combination of weird, out-there shit and underperformed ordinariness, that actually I think anything could happen. Well, almost anything. Other than Montenegro qualifying, obvs.

So, prediction time:

1. Australia - I'm still very curious to see if Australia can maintain the jury love they're so notorious for, even when entering popera, which hasn't always gone down so well with juries in the past. If they can, I think they could be top of the pile tonight.
2. Iceland
3. Hungary
4. Cyprus - incidentally, these are the only four I'm willing to call as finalists with 100% certaintly. From here, there's an element of doubt, including even for...
5. Greece - I've been unconvinced by every clip of this I've seen in rehearsals. It should easily be strong enough to make it through in this field and with this running position, but I don't have high hopes for Katerine in the final.
6. Slovenia - pleeeeeease be good.
7. Czech Republic
8. Poland - I've been betting against it all season, and I'm slightly going against my better instincts here, but from reports in rehearsals, I think they have a chance of making it through. And it's my favourite, so I'll be delighted if they do.
9. Georgia
10. Serbia - basically Serbia are coming between 9th and 11th like they have in every semi-final for the last few years.

11. Belgium
12. Estonia - I'm hoping this is the case, at least. It's so bland and ordinary that it really doesn't deserve to qualify. If it does, it's obvious bottom 5 fodder on Saturday night.
13. San Marino - it's just too shit. Let's not forget that Triana Park managed to come last, from last.
14. Finland
15. Belarus
16. Portugal - Conan commits the ultimate sin in Eurovision - he really gives you no reason why you should vote for this.
17. Montenegro

*yes, obviously.

Predicting the first semifinal

As opposed to the fish, I'm still up in the cold Norden. But in spite of neither being by a pool side nor in Tel Aviv, I've also tried to get an impression of the rehearsals and the performances through the videos, blogs, the messageboard, etc. Especially from Shi over at Escgo, whose blog has been both entertaining and interesting to read.

So I've decided to make some sort of prediction. Please take into consideration that it will probably be all sorts of wrong, but after some thinking I've decided to go for a mix of expected qualifiers and some surprises. Because we always do get some unexpected results. I feel like this year the surprise might be that Belarus makes the semifinal top 10. Why? Even though reports from rehearsals say that the performance is a bit of a mess, I can imagine it picking up both semi-high jury and televoting points from a couple of countries, and some mid scores from others, based just on the fact that it really is quite a catchy song and stands out pretty well among all the slower entries surrounding it.

Poland has really grown on me recently, and their performance seems like it's very likeable. This coul indeed mean they'll quality, and I probably will be hoping they will after seeing the show tonight. But at the same time... it's a tricky song. It might as well be the kind of entry that fans love, but neither juries nor average televoters do. So in the end I decided to opt for a non-qualification. Just like with Georgia, which many people seem to think will make it. But effective performance or not... it's still the same song. I'd also live it if San Marino qualified, but it doesn't seem like the performance really measures up. So I'm leaning towards it ending up about 11th.

However, I do think Serbia might just make it, ending up somewhere in the lower top 10 in the semifinal. Nevena has delivered in the rehearsals, and there might still be a lot of appreciation for these kinds of ballads in Europe even 15 years after their heydays. And Estonia might scrape through simply by default for being pretty "normal" in this bunch. Though I wouldn't at all object if they didn't.

01. Cyprus - Tamta - "Replay" 
02 Montenegro - D mol - "Heaven" 
03 .Finland - Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman - "Look Away" 
04. Poland - Tulia - "Fire of Love (Pali się)" 
05. Slovenia - Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl - "Sebi" 
06. Czech Republic - Lake Malawi - "Friend of a Friend" 
07. Hungary - Joci Pápai - "Az én apám" 
08. Belarus - ZENA - "Like It" 
09. Serbia - Nevena Božović - "Kruna" 
10. Belgium - Eliot - "Wake Up" 
11 .Georgia - Oto Nemsadze - "Keep on Going" 
12 .Australia - Kate Miller-Heidke - "Zero Gravity" 
13 .Iceland - Hatari - "Hatrið mun sigra" 
14 .Estonia - Victor Crone - "Storm" 
15 .Portugal - Conan Osiris - "Telemóveis" 
16 .Greece - Katerine Duska - "Better Love" 
17 .San Marino - Serhat - "Say Na Na Na"

Semi 1 Through Fish Eyes

While basking in the Canarian, as opposed to the Israeli, sun, I've been trying to get an impression of rehearsals from videos, blogs, messageboard chitchat and Rizo's insta. It's obviously quite far from actually being on site, so don't bet your house or Canarian holiday apartment based on my musings below, but I guess there's also advantages in seeing things from afar. Almost every single time I've radically changed my mind on a song's chances thanks to watching rehearsals live in previous years, my initital, "clueless" predictions have been closer to the truth, so it's definitely easy to get caught up in the bubble at times. This year, I'm at least very happily avoiding getting caught up in any France-hype! (Now watch me be wrong and Bilal wins with two thousand and eleventyfive points).

Aaanyway, it's "only" a semifinal tonight, so there's actually no need to figure out anything more than just ten envelopes, but I'll attempt a full ranking anyway. Been thinking this semi is very tricky most of the season, but the order below actually came together quite nicely in the end - particularly towards the bottom, oddly! One thing I'm missing, however, is an actual semi winner, it just seems like a handful of countries that'll come 3rd or 4th.

1 Greece | Well, something has to win this semi, and it's not going to be Rybak, so why not? Stands out visually, and a strong song.
2 Australia | Could we finally have found an Australian entry the televoters will like more than the juries? I think it's utter rubbish myself (particularly that last minute of pure NOTHING), but it's colour TV of the highest order.
3 Iceland | I can't help but feel that this could've looked so much better if it was sent by Sweden or someone else with a clear plan about camerawork and directing - as it is, it just seems like they rely completely on all of the "shocking" stuff going on, and just asked someone to 'film it' without much more thought behind it. I wish there was a striking visual contrast for when the chorus kicks in, for instance.
4 Hungary | Very solid stuff, despite being a slightly lamer version of Origo blended with a slightly lamer version of Jamala's golden tree.
5 Cyprus | This just has 5th in the semi written all over it, doesn't it? Reports suggesting she sounds horrible, but I actually think the bits I've heard sounded fine.
6 Poland | I assumed this was dead when it came out, but I'm warming to it, and it stands out a mile. Screechy and horrible, but not necessarily in a bad way.
7 Slovenia | Amidst discussions about performances, running orders and whatnot affecting a song's chance, one argument I keep coming back to is that a song that's good enough will always qualify almost no matter what. And seeing as Sebi is loooovely, it really should. But could it possibly not...? Iiiih.
8 Serbia | Some friendly televotes, a decent jury result for being sensible and normal and decently done, and ta-dah!
9 Czechia | I'm really really really not the core audience of this (they feel like they would talk about being in a ban)d a lot... 🙄), but everyone genereally seems to agree it's going through so why not. The one positive thing I can say about it is that in their video of an "unplugged" performance, you can literally see the plug. I love it when things just work out.
10 Georgia | I'm possibly swayed by the segment used for the official rehearsal clip here, unlike several others it clearly is the vital bit. But the bit in question really kicks ass!

11 Belgium | All season I've assumed they'd tidy this up by the time it hits the stage, but not so sure anymore. And even if they did, I still can't quite see what they're aiming for with the song itself, it's all a bit halfway between everything. What I do like about it is Eliot himself though - he has a certain boy-next-door-mixed-with-Blanche quality to him. But I get the impression almost everyone else finds him a bit average/boring/shy/bad/whatevs [delete as appliccable].
12 Belarus | Might manage to get a decentish televote result for being a bit young and cheerful, but when there's no song and no singing, why would any jury care?
13 San Marino | Serhat himself obviously sounds ridic, but what struck me in rehearsal clips was actually how bad the backings sounded. Which, yay, tbh - makes it less likely to attract the attention of anyone but the Monenegrin jurors.
14 Portugal | I had a phase a few months ago thinking this was working, but it was quite brief. Think it was around lunchtime. The red/green look is quite striking, but yet ill-advised, somehow.
15 Estonia | This type of straightforward EDM-ish song really should be right up my alley (hvis det er lov å si...?), but the sheer averageness of it is just making me violent. Add hair that not even Eamonn Toal would approve of, singing that not even Sophie Carle would approve of, and RHYMING THIS WITH THIS, and you've got a disaster in the making.
16 Montenegro | It's just so obviously coming last that it probably won't.
17 Finland | Not deserved at all, but I just can't see why anyone would remember this when voting time comes. Now if only they'd sent this, it'd be a different matter...