The draw dividing the semi-final participants into heats of 18 and 19 has just taken place. You can see the results here. From the six automatic qualifiers, Italy, UK and Spain will vote in the first heat on May 9; Ukraine, Germany and France in the second on May 11. Hopefully, Betfair qualification markets will be with us shortly.
In the meantime, we have had four further songs chosen to represent various countries, and they deserve some early analysis. I don’t feel particularly enamoured with any of them, though I may be unduly worried that four of the five chosen so far are rather downbeat (and coincidentally, female).
The exception is Belarus, with Navi’s Historyja majho žyccia. I can’t fault the unadulterated joy of its presentation, and the authenticity of the performance. But this kind of ethno folk package has left juries utterly unimpressed in recent years, Bulgaria’s ‘Samo Shampioni’ in 2013 being a good recent example. Fans also tend to like this kind of thing more than televoters. I won’t be setting expectations high at this early stage, unless it’s up against 42 female ballads.
On the same night, Georgia selected something much more predictable. Take Gachechiladze warbled strongly through ‘Keep The Faith’, a rather aptly-timed song about remaining optimistic despite what’s going on. This song reminded me of Greece’s 2015 effort, though you can take your pick from many. These standard Eurovision ballads, if well performed and not too awful, can usually rely on a bit of jury help in the semi-final.
Last weekend, the United Kingdom was out of the starting blocks early with its national final. The winner was Lucie Jones with ‘Never Give Up On You’ which is a stripped-back pop ballad. It was well performed by Lucie on the night, but my concern is that there’s not enough musical progression in the song. It’s very much the same all the way through, which tends to bore viewers.
Finland’s entry will be Norma John with ‘Blackbird’. It’s a different kind of downbeat compared to the UK entry. Whilst I like the middle eight piano instrumental, and the overall atmosphere created, the song lacks both progression and hook to me. At this stage I can’t see televoters particularly taking to it.
If someone put a gun to my head and asked which one of these four entries would most likely land on the left-hand side of Saturday’s final scoreboard, I’d actually say Georgia. I’m assuming the song will be given a slight revamp and the country has one of the most sought-after staging experts to work with.
Let us know your thoughts below. This week sees Eurovision season take off as the first heat of Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s peerless selection show, takes place on Saturday.