In my preliminary look at the first semi, I explained that I currently find this second heat easier to decipher. I have a better idea of where I think each entry stands that’s reflected in this article. There are handy recaps such as this one on YouTube to help get the shape of the semi clear in your mind.
For readers who are new to Sofabet, or Eurovision betting in general, I should perhaps issue a general note of caution: much can change during the two weeks of rehearsals, and the thoughts below are subject to change as we see how the songs are being staged and how comfortable the acts look performing live. During this period, entries will go up or down in qualifying estimations accordingly.
One other general problem with my sliding scale: the top nine includes only two of the last six to perform. Historically at least four of the last six to perform have managed to reach the final from every semi since 2009. My current list allows room for another qualifier among the last six, but either way it assumes that this semi’s particular set of songs will not match that stat from the previous eight heats.
I’m going to start with what I perceive to be the bottom of the pile, and work my way up. Latvia and Macedonia have very little going for them and I’m currently dismissing them as no-hopers.
Hungary and Romania are drawn among the final six but right now I don’t think they have much else going for them. ‘Kedvesem’ has fans yet is the kind of song that televoters largely ignore at Eurovision whilst I don’t think juries will be impressed by the delivery. Cezar may have the pimp slot, but ‘It’s My Life’ is the kind of number that juries would crucify even if it were sung normally, let alone the falsetto we get (countertenor is too kind a description).
Iceland’s ‘Eg a Lif’ is a little too bland to pack a punch from its midway draw and I see it as another struggler. It’s not a completely hopeless case, but above it I’ve currently got San Marino, Albania and Switzerland fighting it out for tenth spot on my sliding scale. I have issues with all three which means I think they’re borderline qualifiers at best.
San Marino faces the hurdle of a poor draw and potentially OTT staging that may hamper its televote and jury score respectively despite its status as a fan favourite. Meanwhile, I don’t think that ‘Identitet’ offers viewers a pleasing melody, structure or visual appeal though Albania has some voting strength and a decent draw. Finally, I’m not convinced by the live performances I’ve seen of the cheesy ‘You and Me’ but at least the Swiss song offers viewers a hummable melody from the plum draw of 16.
Of my current top nine, Finland is my most borderline case among these possible qualifiers. ‘Marry Me’ is Marmite bubblegum that plenty dislike, but I consider it potentially memorable enough to get a top ten place in the televote and well preformed enough to get a reasonable place in the jury vote, which is why I have placed it here.
‘Lonely Planet’ is another that tends to polarise opinion. Armenia’s voting strength in this semi shouldn’t be underestimated, however. Compare it to 2011 when the same country’s ‘Boom Boom’ fell a point short in a bigger field of 19. There may be two fewer countries participating this time but Armenia has two more allies (subtracting Turkey and Russia but adding France, Israel, Germany and Bulgaria). The vocals will also be much less ropey this time around.
Otherwise, there’s plenty going for the other seven. Israel has lots of jury appeal, whilst Bulgaria has a full-ethno niche of its own in a semi packed with countries where this kind of thing goes down very well. Sofabet commenter Justin pointed out Paddy Power’s mistake in initially making this the outsider of the lot to qualify at 6/4. Neither Malta nor Azerbaijan are particularly well drawn, but they should be safe because they offer something straightforward and competent.
This brings me to the top three of my current sliding scale. In terms of allies, it’s a very friendly semi for Greece, and I think ‘Alcohol Is Free’ is going to do extremely well in the televote. A bigger question mark hangs over its jury support, but that’s not so important for the lower quality of a 17-field heat than a 26-runner final that includes the jury bait from each semi and the automatic qualifiers.
It’s no surprise to see a market headed by the well drawn pairing of Norway and Georgia. There has been growing momentum behind the latter’s ‘Waterfall’ in the Betfair win market over the last week. I want to see it performed live before I make any huge judgments though. Meanwhile, Margaret Berger impressed during the Norwegian final, but with playback assistance. As with the first semi, this is another duel for which I’ll sit on the fence at this early stage.
Rehearsals may well shift opinions, and entries invariably slide up or down the scale as a result. My most nagging doubt concerns the lack of qualifiers from the last part of the draw. Would that bother you, and does your own ranking include more of these entries in your top ten? Let us know below. Sofabet commenters Tim B, Boki and Chewy Wesker have already given us their lists.