Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final 2 Analysis

The second semi-final is a difficult one for punters to eke out some value because the market looks to have things about right. As in the first heat there’s also the fact that the seemingly near-certain qualifiers are priced up at short odds whilst it feels like a bit of a coin-toss between those countries which are fighting it out for the remaining places.

A list of definite qualifiers starts with favourite for this semi and the whole contest, Sweden’s Loreen. A video of her jury rehearsal performance has leaked online today (many thanks SED for posting it in our comments section), so that everyone can assess what those in the press centre saw.

Things came together better for Loreen here than in previous rehearsals. She wisely ditched the top with the fringed arms in favour of her Melodifestivalen one; she is clearer in the verses; and the whole thing sounded more polished. I think the juries will very much like what they have seen.

There is still the question of how televoters will take to what is a very different offering than they are used to on the Eurovision stage. Untried doesn’t mean that it won’t be popular enough to win this semi or indeed the final, but it does make me hesitant about taking short odds about ‘Euphoria’.

According to bookmakers, Loreen’s main challenger to win this semi is Serbia’s Zeljko Joksimovic. He was dependable as always in the jury rehearsal. He seems likely to mop up votes among his many neighbours and the relevant diaspora, and that will see him qualify with ease at some high place on the scoreboard.

His position as curtain-raiser, followed by another Balkan effort from Macedonia’s Kaliopi, will mean he’s not doing so much among neutral televoters, who make up the majority in 16 of the 20 other countries deciding results tonight. The many other Balkan-esque slowies, particularly prevalent in the first half of the draw, won’t help here either.

For that reason, I can’t bring myself to oppose the untested routine of Loreen with Serbia in the win market for this semi-final, though give Zeljko the utmost respect.

We do have the kind of upbeat number that Eurovision viewers have come to expect later in the show from Norway. Tooji’s vocals are not the strongest, and that was true of the jury rehearsal as it has been all week.

That’s not really the point of ‘Stay’ though. Like Eric Saade’s ‘Popular’ last year, it’s all about the routine, and that remains very slick. Admittedly, I could do with the camerawork being tighter to reflect this. Some have suggested it is not a definite qualifier at this point based on last night’s jury rehearsal, but offering what it does at this point in the draw, ‘Stay’ is on my list of those that should go through.

As is Turkey. The staging of Can Bonomo’s ‘Love Me Back’ is excellent, adding fun to this well-drawn, ethnic-flavoured shanty. It’s this semi’s equivalent to Moldova in the first heat. With more voting allies. A top three place is possible, though one caveat puts me off.

When I wrote about the song’s chances a few months ago, I expressed my worries about how juries would take to it. The staging certainly feels as though it lifts the number. However, I still feel that uptempo ethno stuff is not their favourite genre, and that opinion didn’t change when trying to watch the rehearsal through their eyes last night.

Ukraine’s Gaitana offers televoters a straightforward if poorly structured, upbeat anthem, and is capable of delivering it brilliantly. As the lone singer, also doing work you would expect from backing vocalists in the “naaaa-na-na-na-na-na” parts, a lot rests on her shoulders. This leaves me with a slight sense of hoping it’s ‘alright on the night’. She was more than alright for last night’s jury rehearsal.

Estonia’s Ott Lepland is this semi’s equivalent to Albania’s Rona Nishliu in the first heat. In case you failed to spot the resemblance. Ott put in a superb vocal performance for the juries last night, which I think put him one foot in the final. He added even more flourishes to ‘Kuula’. I had warned against this, partly because if you’re going to do that you have to nail it. He did.

For non-Balkan juries, this offers a more accessible ballad. ‘Kuula’ feels suitably different from the rest in this semi-final, aided in this case by Ott being alone, with no instruments or creative staging, just a highly effective backdrop that reveals a shower of rose petals for the biggest moments. Ott has been known to suffer from nerves, so it may be worth waiting for his performance tonight, but he was in very confident form last night.

Add the allies, draw and juries that should see Bosnia through and you have the seven I am confident will qualify. None of them are at tasty prices, unsurprisingly. Next up in the market and thus the shortest-priced act that I am less confident of is Slovenia. ‘Verjamem’ is a rehash of 2007 winner ‘Molitva’. It therefore offers a recognisably Eurovision-y three minutes, and allows young vocalist Eva Boto a chance to show what she can do, as she did for the juries last night.

It’s never going to be easy for Slovenia among all the Balkan nations though. They’re last in the queue when it comes to dishing out votes to neighbours. The Balkan ballad is a crowded genre in this semi, and she’s back-to-back with another one, from Croatia. For neutral televoters, the staging that has the look of a wedding but the feel of a funeral is rather alienating.

I think ‘Verjamem’ is rather relying on jury support, and there were one or two off moments from the ghostly backing vocalist last night. Nina Badric raised her own game afterwards too. Yet the song and Eva’s spirited rendition may still be enough to see it through.

Of its neighbours, Croatia had looked pretty dead in the water with the way ‘Nebo’ was staged. Nina Badric seemed to understand she faced an uphill task when performing the arse off it for the juries last night. I still think it’s too dull to qualify, but I’m not completely discounting it any more

Macedonia’s Kaliopi has long been a bit of a fan favourite, a position cemented by her performances in Amsterdam and London over the last few months. She’s another who I think will be partly relying on jury votes. She was in fine form last night. It is a terrible draw though – the dreaded number two – coming straight after Serbia. She is selling a rather dated song with a change in tempo too, though selling it well. It will be a close call either way regarding qualification.

As if there weren’t enough songs of this kind tonight, we get one from Portugal as well. Filipa Sousa also does a great job of delivering this rather dated song. ‘Vida Minha’ is very competently done but it does have a lot against it: the draw; native language; and all those other rivals in the same genre.

Georgia’s ‘I’m A Joker’ alarms me but I can’t bring myself to oppose or back it. It looked as it has done all week for the juries last night: a big hot mess of theatrical vocals and antics. I really can’t see jurors feeling much love for it but it has a good draw and voting allies. One more reason it can’t be ignored for qualification is that it can’t be ignored on stage.

Lithuania’s Donny Montell with his blindfold and cheesy number ‘Love Is Blind’ gives us something memorable from the pimp slot. But as with Georgia, I’m just not sure if enough jurors and televoters will think it’s memorable in a good way. It’s a shame he wasn’t in quite as good form when it mattered last night as he was earlier in the day.

The Netherlands face another uphill struggle with the poorly staged ‘You and Me’, though Joan Franka was vocally more assured in the jury rehearsal than previously. I still think it’s wishful thinking on the part of fans to think this will qualify, but I would love to be proved wrong on that.

Malta give us the upbeat Eurovision cheese of ‘This Is The Night’. In its favour, it’s got a cute dance routine, plenty of energy on stage and had a solid enough first two minutes from Kurt Calleja last night. Against it, there’s its poor draw, lack of identifiable allies and an out-of-tune backing vocalist who gets a small turn in the spotlight.

On the basis of what I saw last night, I am now discounting Bulgaria and Slovakia. Max Jason Mai was flat or sharp in too many places for the juries last night. Meanwhile, Belarus hasn’t been doing it for me all week. So, here’s the coin toss: I am going to suggest Macedonia, Slovenia and Malta to add to Sweden, Serbia, Norway, Turkey, Bosnia, Ukraine and Estonia as tonight’s ten qualifiers.

A tip? You want a tip?! Well, Eurovision only comes round once a year, so if you wanted an interest in this semi-final, I’d suggest something that’s well delivered and getting points from all over but remains a big price. That’s a little each-way flutter on Ukraine at 25-1 with Stan James.

Let us know what you think below. I will add something to the comments section if anything comes to light from the last dress rehearsal which runs from 6-8pm local time.

91 comments to Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final 2 Analysis

  • justin

    Great analysis Daniel and I totally agree regarding your Big 7. There does seem to be quite a lot of momentum behind Gaitana at the moment.

    My only minor disagreement is that I think Donny Montell might sneak through.

    • Boki

      That’s my feeling too, running order could be crucial there although I have only a small bet on Donny to cover the Portugal loss 🙂

  • David

    Did you just forget to comment on Bosnia? Or did I miss it when reading?

    Either way, it’s more than a little bit telling for this incredibly dull song 🙂 with the killer-draw though, it shouldn’t have any problems Qing.

    • Daniel

      Lol, I did indeed forget it, David. I added a line just now. A rather telling omission, but as you say, should get through anyway!

  • SED

    To give the right one person credit, Ben Cook spotted the Euphoria video…

  • Teo

    I also agree with your first 7 countries and with Slovenia. But I believe that for the last 2 tickets, we ll have a fight between Lithuania, Croatia and Malta. I only wish Malta can somehow snick in, but logically I would bet on the other two to join the rest qualifiers.

  • And for anyone interested here is the Reprise sequence for the second semi, taken from the live TV feed.

  • Jim Thunders

    Hi Guys,

    Can someone please tell me when the results of the semi finals are published? To date I have only seen the countries that qualified and nothing else.

    Great reading this analysis – certainly covers all ground.

    Thanks

    Jim

  • Donald

    Thanks Daniel, Loreen video is very focused, it’s good for a while, looses it towards the end and not sure if dancer etc. leads it down the circus road for the juries. Hard to know safe tonight obviously but for win overall allot will depend on the draw I think. It’s good but at the price has to be taken on. I’ve been through a fair few green doors this AM!

    I see the racial story on Gaitana is breaking on a few news stories online. BBC etc. will gather pace I think. Always thought it might happen luckily Gaitana is above it all.

    Another free money bet possibly Paddy Power go 5/6 for Spain top 10 on Saturday!

    Good luck to all tonight, looking forward to it and the draw!

    Ukraine at 25/1 flutter for sure, it is only once a year and it is made for that arena and stage. Lets see tonight.

  • Cliff

    Daniel thanks for the excellent info from Baku!

    I’m delighted to hear that Ott had a string Jury rehearsal ( like you, I’m somewhat concerned that he over does the performance diva-style). That said, what in your opinion would his chances of making the top 10 of the finals for Saturday? I’m confident he’ll make the finals – would live some guidance on where he pay end up.

    Thanks
    Cliff

    • Daniel

      Hi Cliff, if Ott is going to get a decent televote score in the final (assuming he is there), he’s going to need to be drawn as late as possible, preferably after Roman Lob who is at 20, and best of all at 25 with just Moldova to follow. Put ‘Kuula’ at 4 after Engelbert, Compact Disco and Albania’s Rona, and that’s a bit of a disaster for him.

  • Ben Cook

    On the jury semi-final last night, I agree Ott absolutely nailed it when he needed to. He’s definitely through on the jury vote tonight.

    Donny messed up though I think. He sounded a bit flat throughout, so that might have hurt his chances of sneaking through.

    I think Sweden is almost as good as it can possibly be now – it all comes down to whether Europe gets it or not. I hope it gets one of the 6 remaining late slots, so if it doesn’t win at least we’ll know it never was going to.

    • Emma

      Well…I’m not sure people would have been televoting en masse even if Spain was building a huge new arena, a la Sweden (coincidence? doesn’t seem like it!). Only question is, will the juries take note? Doubting it.

  • Paje

    Is it worth to bet on Serbia a big amount at 1.30 odds?I think it is but I would like to hear your opinion!thanx!

  • Paje

    I mean at top 10 finish

  • Chris aka Spanky

    Hmmmmhhhh…..

    Portugal this year reminds me of Lithuania last year. I definitely see her in with a fighting chance with the juries. I consider her better value than Malta. So I’m putting my gains from Switzerland on Portugal. If she fails to make it, I will come out at 0 from the semifinals…

  • Paje

    I have bet on Romania at top 3 semi final 1 and top 10 finish at the final.
    For me eurovision is not only to play value bets like other events but sure bets.So because I want to risk a big ammount I would like to bet to something sure.That s why I am asking this question my friend tim.thanx for your answers.What do u think.For example all we know that Russia will be for sure at top 10.For me is the favour for beeing the winner of eurovision.But I can t bet on 5 grandmothers that they are singing.I think u can catch me.

    • Nick D

      I have. Every year the semi results ‘leak’. Every year it’s through a Greek entertainment channel. Every year it’s bollocks (excuse my French!). 🙂

    • David

      ” Is it possible that the Russian press fabricated these results to get their grannies even more attention and support?”

      Lol. Is it possible that YOU (the site) fabricated this shit, to get more attention and clicks? Yes, not only possible, but pretty damn certain. And the clicks you got.

    • Emma

      Yeah, can’t be true. No way in hell Greece did that well (pardon the rhyme). Some of it is believable (Romania third, Hungary scraping in at tenth) but I don’t buy it. And would that Greek site happen to be Oikotimes? My antivirus software won’t let me go to that site 😛 Def. wouldn’t trust them 🙂

  • justin

    My thoughts too Nick!

  • eurovicious

    I shouldn’t tease, but… Austria on Tuesday and Malta today? Has someone slipped something into your ayran?

  • ross

    11/10 lithuania to qualify betfred, pile on !

  • So this is me coming to it having only seen most songs for the very first time, and with disclaimer about me not having a knowledge of the politics and friendly alliances when it comes to voting. It’s also hurriedly written now…

    Two standout songs…

    Ulkraine – looked great staging wise, great song, if only her vocals delivered…. She just looked a bit lost with the song. Very very clever video staging to make it look like she has a massive party on stage with her – and favourable camera angles. Throw in anti racism news stories and race all the way to the Top 5. At 60/1 to win, we just need a draw of 24 or 25 and that should tumble…. The vocals are dodgy!! I’ve stuck some cash on at 60/1!

    Sweden have a superb song and I have thought they are a hot favourite for a good reason, my only problem is the staging is a bit dull for the first half of the song. If they get a draw starting with a 2 then they’ll win it – if it’s first half, maybe not! There’s just something about it that makes it look like a really professional performance. This is the one to beat. And the odds rightly reflect it.

    My lucky eight are: Ukraine, Sweden, Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Norway, Bosnia (but not on merit!) Slovenia

    Wildcards – Malta. I just have a sneaky feeling about this one, the staging was great, the silly feet thing was the gimmick.

    If I was running a popular Eurovision betting site, BetsEuroVision, my bet of the night would be Malta at 2.5 to qualify. It’s basically McFly’s Shine a Light and that was a big hit!

    Lithuania – Draw meets silly dance.

    Although I couldn’t really pick a tenth!

    • Donald

      Richard, I have followed Ukraine and Malta all the way especially Ukraine at big prices, rewarded tonight. I got 9 out of the 10 earlier so good night at my end.

      Loreen came across well and lit up twitter.

      Have you seen Spain and Italy?

      Down to four women I think.

      All on the draw now.

  • eurovicious

    Having seen the show, I’ve drastically changed my predictions. (Before, my top 10 was identical to Tim’s above.) Prepared to be completely wrong about this but here goes:

    Serbia
    Macedonia
    Belarus
    Slovenia
    Croatia
    Sweden
    Turkey
    Estonia
    Slovakia
    Bosnia

  • Daniel

    Forgive me Donny, love is blind! 🙂

  • Vytas

    Daniel, Donny forgive you. 🙂

  • Vytas

    But don’t do this again 🙂

  • Daniel

    DRAW UPDATE: Press refresh to get the draw as it happens! The qualifiers are all present and correct.
    Lithuania – 4
    Bosnia – 5
    Serbia – 24
    Ukraine – 25
    Sweden – 17
    Macedonia – 22
    Norway – 12
    Estonia – 11
    Malta – 21
    Turkey – 18

    • Emma

      LOL @ Lithuania. Again? Expecting this on the far, far right of the scoreboard…

    • Nick D

      That’s as close as we can ever hope to get to an exact reversal of their performance order from the semi: 10-9-7-8-5-6-3-2-1-4, I think. Should either add some weight to our draw theories or debunk them, which is nice.

  • Donald

    Thanks Daniel, now the game really starts.

  • tpfkar

    I played it safe and just backed Estonia to go through, so happily up on the night.

    Shows how far this novice punter has come though. My favourite song was Slovenia, I was convinced it was perfectly performed and sailing through, but I didn’t put a penny on as I liked it too much. Wise move.

  • Cliff

    Great night and delighted that Estonia has made it through. I love the original version (and english also) but was quite impressed with tonights free styling approach.

    Daniel, when will we learn which position the qualifying countries will sing in the finals on Saturday?

  • Donald

    Yes Ukraine 25!

  • Hello Ukraine at #25!

    Two dance acts in the end, thats gonna be very interesting for both songs.

  • Emma

    Can Sweden win from 17? Million dollar question. Serbia did back in the day but I suspect friendly votes had a lot to do with it.

    Loreen won by quite a bit during MF from 6/10 but everyone knew it was a two man race and looking back, I don’t think the draw had much impact. No doubt she and Danny could have performed anywhere in the lineup and we’d have gotten the same result and similar vote totals.

    Looking forward to everyone else’s thoughts on this!

    • eurovicious

      I call yes. Sweden can win from there. Lordi and Molitva did in the pre-jury years, but in the latter case it was a lot to do with block voting. (Which isn’t to diminish the song or performance, I love Molitva.)

      • Emma

        Oh, of course–Molitva is fantastic. Just got a bit of a boost from all Serbia’s friends. Sweden isn’t hurting for friends and what with Norway going 12th…Stockholm 2013 is looking more and more likely.

    • Donald

      I am really interested in Spain rehearsal tomorrow. I think Pastora is a real real contender.

      Ukraine have just got magic draw for EW backers.

      Serbia also good draw.

      • Emma

        You have a point. Sweden can win from 17 but it’s not like they’re followed by a bunch of entries with no chance like Az was last year at 19. Moltiva won preceding the close 2nd place (Uk) of the evening and in this jury/televote era, Germany, Serbia, FYRM and Spain will happily be sponging up jury votes (more than Loreen?) *and* benefitting from later draws. Oh God–I’m overthinking it. Two days seems like such a long time to wait…

        • Donald

          Cool head now Emma, it’s actually not as bad as it may seem, initial close scrutiny from Loreen to the finish with possible exception of Italy early on. So that cuts down the field nicely.

          And guided by Daniel…

  • John

    Did Sweden get the most votes tonight?

  • Donald

    Thanks Daniel, enjoy party if you going to one, you deserve it.

    Ukraine hey some draw!

    Clear the heads time.

  • eurovicious

    So, to put the Kurt among the pigeons, how dangerous do we think Malta is from 21?

    • Donald

      Eurovicious, that is the Kurt among the pigeons!

      I still think one of the women going to win but it may be much closer that the betting indicates.

      Rehearsals tomorrow important first.

      Ukraine more dangerous maybe?

  • Boki

    Well, the biggest surprise was again the absence of big surprise! All of 7 “certainties” came through while Malta sneaks through on expense of Slovenia. It have to be a big jury boost for them from slot 4 to qualify, it wasn’t that good.
    Lost that one but much satisfied with other lays, especially Belarus which I topped even more when Lithuania was called 1st.

  • Rob44

    its weird that romania seems to be discounted (or ignored) since the draw. i still think it’s a contender for a top 4 spot.

  • Montell

    Hey, guys

    What is your opinion about Norway getting into TOP 10. I think, it will since they have very good show, dance moves, catchy song, not a bad draw. The song is full of energy. Song is very likely to be liked among North countries as well as in South countries. Maybe, Norway doesn’t have too many friends but I think it’s going to be enough having such a good song and show. Let me know what you think.

    • Nick D

      So long as my credibility is completely blown already, I may as well blow it even further. I can make a case for Norway in the bottom 6 alongside Lithuania, Hungary, France and a couple of others (Iceland, Cyprus or UK perhaps?).

      Norway’s support at ESC is famously brittle, and Tooji looked like he may not have a strong performance in reserve for the jury final tonight.

      • eurovicious

        Norway’s semi performance was a pale shadow of their MGP performance. It’s my favourite choon in the contest but I was disappointed how slack it was last night.

  • Bexley

    I honestly believe Norway would have won with a late draw. Even with this one top 10 is good value at the present price.
    Eric Saade managed 3rd from draw 7 remember last year.
    Norway with draw 12 I presume is close to the break (but before) and between two ballads for contrast, albeit 2 very good ones.

  • Nurdin Mohamed

    As a swede, don’t know if anyone else saw it but Loreen seemed nervous at the beginning and at the chorus didn’t finish the notes as well as she used to do, so I’m pretty sure that she will do even better on Saturday with her good draw 17

  • eurovicious

    Ukraine is too trashy for e/w. Agree on Norway but it doesn’t have Popular’s staging or visual impact.

  • Roach

    Agree Bexley. I backed Norway at 40/1 yesterday with fingers crossed for one of those late 2 slots. Thems the breaks!

    Re: it’s Top 10 chances now, whilst musically placed for max impact, I think there are 7 countries fighting over 4 slots.

  • Rob44

    i’m going to bang the drum for macedonia. going at 22 and at 150.0 various bookmakers i think the value is there. had the most youtube hits for sf2 too!

    • Tim B

      I think FYR Macedonia is a brilliant top 10 bet at 5.0 on betfair. She did well to overcome the terrible draw and competitive Balkan vote. I think we can assume that she pulled in a decent amount of jury votes. It’s got a perfect draw and stands out as the only rock-ish song in the final – Hungary doesn’t count.

  • seanvice

    Iv’e backed macedonia at every price on every market, delighted with trap 22.

    I get the feeling theres a real wave of momentum for it in the whole of eastern europe. When asked for 2 ‘definate qualifers’ a few days ago many of the jurnos were saying Macedonia.

  • Joe Black

    I think Macedonia is a great shout…. I admire some of the great analysis on the site however I have a pretty simple approach to the competition. Find the artist with the longest wikipedia page combine with a decent draw… ignore no-hopers e.g. BRITAIN!! and you probably have a decent chance of a run for your money.. I like SERBIA based on previous form of the artist but I wonder how long it will take for them to be sued by Coldplay!! But at 150/1 Macedonia worth a few quid..

  • Bexley

    Sorry I think Macedonia is a dreadful song and made it through because of its relativley strong regional support in the semi final. The song appeals to me in no aspect whatsoever. I gave it 3/10 and no amount of blogging opinion is going to make me change my mind with this one.
    The people I watched the semi final with were simply astonished when I said it was favoured to qualify after it had finished.

    Just to balance some of the drum banging 🙂 Not saying I’m right ofc

    • eurovicious

      Whatever you think of the song, her vocal is outstanding… and she’s a widely known and respected regional artist who’s been active for 20 years. Hence jury and televote love.

  • Panos

    Betfair just opened top3 market.

  • Johnny Roastbeef

    Daniel-san! When will we get the voting order in the Final? If last countries on that list are from Scandinavia, all in on Loreen, if last countries are from Balkan, all in on Serbia! Right? 😉

    • Boki

      Good question Johnny, was wondering the same, if we see some great movement on BF it might be the sign of the leaked order.

    • Boki

      I mean, if it’s so obvious as you mention certain odds will shorten very fast.

    • Daniel

      They were leaked just before the show started last year. Do beware of making assumptions based on the voting order, as I’ve mentioned before. To illustrate, if Russia didn’t do that well with the juries but stormed the the televote enough to win the contest, the voting order would probably be misleading. Having said all which, it would be fascinating to find out as soon as possible.

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