Eurovision 2018: First semi-final preview

We’ve just watched the final dress rehearsal for the first semi-final, and it hasn’t made things any clearer. I’m keeping this preview short as I’m more uncertain than I’ve been for any previous semi-final.

In draw order, I think that Czech Republic, Israel and Cyprus are sailing through. Mikolas Josef has managed to recreate an atmosphere not dissimilar to his video, and looks increasingly at ease. Without her looper, Israel’s first 30 seconds is the biggest hurdle for viewers coming to Netta for the first time, but ‘Toy’ takes off from there. Eleni for Cyprus finishes off the semi with a bang, and was excellent in last night’s jury rehearsal.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’d only be shocked to see Iceland and FYROM come out of an envelope. There are some good performers that also go in the NQ pile based on lack of song strength: principally Albania’s Eugent and Croatia’s Franka. They did their best for the juries last night, and have a few Balkan allies so can’t be discounted. But it’s an uphill struggle without any particular USP among this competition.

Estonia does have a very obvious USP, therefore goes into my qualifying list. ‘La Forza’ has always left me rather cold, with Elina marooned in the centre of the stage like a flailing doll in a music box. But there’s no doubting her vocals, and there should be a demographic for what she’s offering. I find it very hard to predict its fortunes in general, however.

Four in, four out so far; I find myself pitting entries against each other at this point. Both early in the running order, Belgium’s Sennek has a better song in studio than Lithuania’s Ieva, but the latter feels more relatable and intimate. Due to this staging advantage, I’ve chosen Lithuania over Belgium.

As it gets harder to choose between entries, making the value play becomes more important, especially given the ability to trade in-running. Armenia and Greece are the two ethnic entries in the second half: Armenia is twice the price to qualify, and twice as competent, so that gets the nod. Greece does have a number of friends to rely on, but has been one of the most underwhelming acts in rehearsals.

Austria and Bulgaria share the same songwriters. Cesar offers a very secure vocal and coherent performance, and is twice the price to qualify as Equinox. ‘Bones’ has good enough production to get itself into the final, but 1.25 to qualify is too short given it’s a difficult watch that lacks connection.

I have decided to include only one of ex-USSR entries Azerbaijan and Belarus, even though both could sneak through. Alekseev offers something less generic that ploughs its own furrow, so Belarus is the pick. I realise that Azerbaijan has a 100% record, and don’t leave it off lightly.

That leaves two from three out of Finland, Switzerland and Ireland in the last five spots of the running order. Saara was a standout performer in last night’s jury rehearsal, and she gets a nod despite some kitsch staging. Switzerland and Ireland have done all they can with their own concepts, but Ireland gets my tenth qualification spot based partly on being a much bigger price to go through.

That means my ten are in draw order: Czechia, Lithuania, Israel, Belarus, Estonia, Austria, Finland, Armenia, Ireland and Cyprus. To reiterate, there isn’t much confidence behind these selections, but do add your own ten below, plus your thoughts. Good luck to everybody trading tonight.

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141 comments to Eurovision 2018: First semi-final preview

  • Here’s my guess:

    Azerbaijan
    Czech Republic
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Greece
    Switzerland
    Cyprus

  • Tim B

    Czech Republic
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Belarus
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Greece
    Switzerland
    Cyprus

  • Dan

    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Cyprus
    Israel
    Czech Republic
    Switzerland
    Ireland
    Croatia
    Austria
    Armenia

  • Hippo

    Its such a tough semi to call who will get those last qualification spots- I realistically have it as 6 countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland) fighting for two spots, but there’s definitely room for an upset or two here. I also think this semi final may be more influenced by the juries as I have a lot of countries with similar televote scores. Here’s my prediction for the evening:

    1. Cyprus
    2. Czech Rep
    3. Estonia
    4. Israel
    5. Bulgaria
    6. Austria
    7. Greece
    8. Lithuania
    9. Armenia
    10. Azerbaijan
    —————————————–
    11. Switzerland
    12. Belarus
    13. Finland
    14. Albania
    15. Croatia
    16. Belgium
    17. Ireland
    18. FYR Macedonia
    19. Iceland

  • BT

    I agree with your sentiments on Greece and Bulgaria but I’m surprised to see you leave them both out. Greece should just about pick enough points up from allies to get it over the line and the cynic in me says Bulgaria will have found a way to get enough points from the juries.

    Czech Republic
    Israel
    Cyprus
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Lithuania
    Greece
    Switzerland
    Ireland

    It’s refreshing to see you think Finland has a chance given how it’s seemingly been written off by everyone else. I give it a better chance than its price suggests but not enough to put some money behind it. As I see it, the first 4 in my list are safe as houses and the next 3 really should be making it through too but everything after that is anyone’s guess. Belgium, Albania, Iceland, Croatia and FYROM are the no-hopers for me and I went with Ireland for the 10th place solely on it being the biggest priced compared to Belarus, Finland, Armenia and Azerbaijan. I’d imagine an ex-USSR country will sneak in over it and Belarus is the pick if that happens.

    Current bets on this semi are Belgium NQ, Austria Q and Lithuania Q at prices no longer available and Bulgaria NQ at current prices. I managed to catch Cyprus top 3 during rehearsals but nothing else appeals at current prices.

  • Ben Cook

    my picks

    Czech Republic
    Lithaunia
    Israel
    Belarus
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Finland
    Armenia
    Cyprus

  • My 10 are
    Cyprus
    Armenia
    Finland
    Greece
    Bulgaria
    Estonia
    Belarus
    Israel
    Czech
    Lithuania
    It’s so hard to call this SF though, I wouldn’t be shocked if I only got 5 right

  • markovs

    An absolute bloodbath. Haven’t done too much here. Have Switzerland at big odds to qualify, Estonia top 3, Belgium NQ, Azerbaijan NQ and a small bet on Israel at 1.04 not to qualify. They have no natural allies, I’m not convinced the juries will be fans and the first 45 secs is pretty off-putting. My guess of qualifiers is:

    Cyprus
    Czech Rep
    Estonia
    Bulgaria (bought and paid for)
    Israel
    Austria
    Greece (Diaspora should see through)
    Armenia
    Lithuania
    Belarus

    Only FYR Macedonia and the dire Iceland are total no hopers but don’t expect to see Belgium, Albania or Croatia either. Surely the best semi ever??

  • I’ve got exactly the same ten as Hippo…..I wavered a bit after the vocal excellence of Croatia and Albania (which might still get either a tenth spot), but it would take a brave man to bet against Armenia and Azerbaijan. One of these years they may fail to qualify, but they would have to submit really below par songs and both of this years’ entries have enough, in their different ways I think.

    I’d love reports of Ireland’s improvements to nudge them through, but I feel they will just fall short. Hope I am wrong.

    Final word on Bulgaria. I still think this song is paying the price for all the pre March 13th launch hype. It isn’t going to win on Saturday, for sure. But in a year high on up-tempo, fairly fluffy entries, it definitely has some brooding soul about it and stands out in that regard. It will have scored well, I think after last night with the juries and I think it will have solid eastern televote support. I’ll be REALLY shocked if it fails to qualify.

  • Rob4

    my 10 in the order they run

    Azebaijan
    Albania
    Czech Rep
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Estonia
    Austria
    Greece
    Armenia
    Cyprus

    my value bet is Lithuania for a Top 5 finish which i took this morning at 5.5 – doubt those odds will be available now.

    • markovs

      Cant bear Lithuania. Squeaky vocals and dull and insipid. No high point, no wow moment. Will have a market and probably qualify but does nothing for me. Prefer Ireland if only one sneaks through.

      Nobody has Belgium to qualify. 3rd favourite for quite a while and a personal favourite in studio version, but lost it live. Be a surprise if it did get through now

  • Jack

    My ten qualifiers are:
    Azerbaijan
    Belgium
    Czech Republic
    Bulgaria
    Lithuania
    Cyprus
    Greece
    Armenia
    Austria
    Israel

  • johnkef

    My Rankings for today

    1. Israel
    2. Cyprus
    3. Czech Rep.
    4. Estonia
    5. Bulgaria
    6. Finland
    7. Austria
    8. Greece
    9. Azerbaijan
    10. Armenia
    ———————
    11. Lithuania
    12. Belgium
    13. Albania
    14. Switzerland
    15. Belarus
    16. Croatia
    17. Ireland
    18. Macedonia
    19. Iceland

  • Showlad

    My 10:
    CYPRUS
    ISRAEL
    CZECK REPUBLIC
    ESTONIA
    BULGARIA
    AUSTRIA
    GREECE
    ALBANIA
    IRELAND
    ARMENIA

    Enjoy all 🙂

  • RD

    Many reports saying that most artists gave their all in the rehearsal. Good for them and it makes all harder to predict.

    Azerbaijan didn’t have really bad reviews but it did read as one of the weakest performances of the night plus it gets lost in the sea of uptempo entries and USPs that come after it. Last year they depended too much on juries so, while I don’t write them off, I recognize this is a huge chance to test if they can qualify with anything (Hour of the Wolf wouldn’t have qualified with the current system, for example).

    Iceland and Belgium gave strong performances and while Sennek is still in the qualification mix, I don’t think any of them has strong supporters to carry them through.

    Eugent will need to show his capacity with televoters. I’m pretty confident he made the top 10 with the juries. At the moment I’m saying he won’t make it but it will be marginal.

    Czech Republic and Israel gave strong performances. I don’t see winners in them but they are through. Ieva is through too IMO.

    Alekseev will score big with televoters but I just keep thinking the juries won’t like the staging and that will keep him as a NQ (though marginally). Plus I can’t see six straight numbers qualifying (from the first half!) so I’ll drop the one that seems to have weaker chances.

    Elina seems like a safe qualifier but she can finish 1st or 10th and you’d believe it. Her placing is a wildcard because for every strong point in the performance you can point out a paper thin basis.

    Bulgaria seems wild. Some people loved it, some hated it. It doesn’t look like a televoting magnet in the least and it certainly is a weird number. I have it as a marginal qualifier.

    FYRoM is lost and won’t be found. Croatia has more chances than Austria in my opinion (I don’t think it will do much worse with juries but I do think it will score much better with the televoters – remember that Nathan Trent’s warm puppy act didn’t pique the viewers interest). Austria would need to be a surprising performer like Nadine in 2011.

    Yianna’s performance was perhaps the most panned last evening and the Greeks didn’t have a chance to repeat the performance after the technical failure. It has fallen down to the NQ zone.

    I’m still not confident about Saara: the staging is too much and she’ll need to seduce televoters. Armenia won’t found lots of love outside of their own diaspora but it looks nice enough.

    I find Cyprus to be a false favorite for the title (I think it’s likely to drop a lot with the juries come Saturday night, not unlike Watch My Dance) but it could very well win this SF. And that brings me to a Switzerland v. Ireland scenario to pick my last qualifier where I think Ireland will make it through due to finding a niche audience better.

    So, in running order, my picks are:

    Azerbaijan
    Czech Republic
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Croatia
    Armenia
    Ireland
    Cyprus

  • dicksbits

    Cyprus
    Estonia
    Israel
    Czech Republic
    Azerbaijan
    Armenia
    Lithuania
    Bulgaria
    Finland
    Switzerland

  • Chewy Wesker

    Semi-final 1
    Czech
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Bulgaria
    Estonia
    Austria
    Greece
    Switzerland
    Albania
    Cyprus

    Good luck to all tonight.

  • Shai

    It’s a difficult semi to predict. Anything can happens.

    In performance order:
    Albania
    Czech Republic
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Greece
    Armenia
    Ireland
    Cyprus

    Azerbaijan is out. Not only they start with a deficit of 24 points and have less diaspora than Armenia(which will compensate the same problem they have), but Cyprus is taking votes from them on the same genre.

    Belgium – . I love the song and I will be sorry to see them go but the competition is just too strong.

    One between Bulgaria and Estonia is not going through. I just don’t like either of the songs, although Bulgaria as a song is better. And Estonia’s dress is just not enough to convince me that this is a better song.

    I’ll probably get it completely wrong

  • Augustas

    My prediction in random order:
    1. Estonia
    2. Lithuania
    3. Israel
    4. Czech republic
    5. Cyprus
    6. Croatia
    7. Finland
    8. Greece
    9. Belgium
    10. Bulgaria

  • John

    Gosh, pinsticker time for the big ten. I think whoever nails it has earned the title Seer of Sofabet.

    Israel
    Estonia
    Czech Rep
    The New Favourites Cyprus
    Finland
    Ireland
    Bulgaria
    Lithuania
    Belarus

    Out of Greece, Switzerland, Albania, Azerbaijan and Armenia we have good examples of their own genres. Greece is the poorest, a wash of syllables and Cyprus has stolen its diaspora. Switzerland lacks a compelling chorus for me. Albania needs more jury love than usual. Azerbaijan more fortune that believable.

    Im inclined to say Armenia.

  • Eoin

    First comment this season! Good luck all and enjoy!

    My Semi 1 Qualifiers are:
    Czech Republic
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Belarus
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Greece
    Ireland
    Cyprus

  • Estonia
    Israel
    Czech Republic
    Belarus
    Cyprus
    Switzerland
    Ireland
    Austria
    Macedonia
    Finland

    Belarus looks a HUGE price to me to quailify

    Whilst Bulgaria and Greece look silly short

  • eurovicious

    Azerbaijan
    Czech Rep
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Belarus
    Austria
    Finland
    Switzerland
    Ireland
    Cyprus

    I have a few audacity/value calls in here for the fun of it, namely Greece NQ, Bulgaria NQ and Estonia NQ. Estonia feel cold and remote, and there are precedents in that Axel Hirsoux and Moran Mazor were both treated as absolute certs to qualify. Mother was even one of the big faves that year. Opera doesn’t do well at ESC, especially when no-one knows what it’s about – what is La Forza about? Il Volo clearly communicated a central relatable emotion (“Amore”). I think Estonia may well qualify but that first half of SF1 is exceptionally tight and we can only expect 5 to qualify. Last year it was Blackbird that missed out, which very few predicted.

    Bulgaria isn’t connecting or communicating its message, there’s no coherence or focus. Re: Greece/Cyprus, there’s a precedent in 2013 – Serbia failed to qualify for the first time because the whole regional and diaspora vote went to Montenegro instead. Eleni Foureira is a huge Greek star representing Cyprus with a much more accessible entry and better staging. Greece could still sneak through as it does have a lot of allies in this semi, but Fuego is going to cost it a lot of support.

    Austria is jury-friendly, catchy, likeable and has a really good bit in the recap. On balance I think it’s through. Despite how good Saara was, on balance I still think it may be tricky for her because of the nature of the song and performance, and Finland’s lack of voting allies. And bangers at ESC, especially outright eurodance-flavoured ones, don’t do as well as they used to. So I have her through but it feels borderline. I did have Armenia through, but they lack both their usual western (France, Belgium, NL) and eastern allies (Russia, Ukraine, Latvia) tonight. Azerbaijan also lacks allies but I like it personally and can see it going through on merit, I like the organic elements with the light and the globe – I think the song and staging work fantastically together.

    Happily prepared to get 6/10 right, hahahahahaha… this is not a good semi for punditry!

    • johnkef

      Totally agree about Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece NQ and Finland Q. These are my main bets with Belgum NQ as well.

      Good luck to everybody!

      • eurovicious

        Belgium NQ has always felt nailed on to me. I can see it right near the bottom of the televote. Jury may be kinder but it won’t be enough.

  • Sagand

    Czech Republic,
    Lithuania
    Israel
    Belarus
    Estonia
    Bulgaria
    Austria
    Greece
    Armenia
    Cyprus

  • Stoney

    Feeling grateful i got out on israel while the odds were still low. That’s not winning this.

    • Stoney

      Same with this from Cyprus. How the hell is this favourite???

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Same here. Cyprus was underwhelming. Very good but serious negatives come with it. Like you I’m delightedly watching Norway’s steady, inexorable-feeling march towards favouritism.

      Am also on Lithuania at some fancy prices, including an EW bet at 100s.

      Later this week I’m interested to see if Germany’s odds plummet.

      France contracting to @10.5

  • Ande

    Lithuania is winning.

  • 360

    Final Q prediction:

    Czech Republic
    Israel
    Lithuania
    Cyprus
    Greece
    Finland
    Croatia
    Switzerland
    Armenia
    Ireland

  • Stoney

    Tonight has been an absoutely brilliant night for Norway!

  • Stephen Muckle

    My heart was in my mouth at the last reveal. I seriously thought the last place was going to Azerbaijan

  • Chewy Wesker

    I’m very very happy Albania got to the final Eugent Bushpepa is such a joy to listen to. Those high notes, WOW

  • Rob4

    think Lithuania probs won that.

    Albania the dark horse qualifying from third in a tough semi. why is it so underrated? – sounds great to me

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees! Eugent, you beauty! Go Albania!

    The Belgium NQ months in the coming.

  • Anglia Chu

    I got 8/10. Picked Armenia and Azerbaijan instead of Bulgaria and Albania.

    My 8 faves of the night are in too. Israel and Bulgaria fill the other two spots.

  • RD

    Cesár went for the cameras while Franka sounded a bit aggressive and that’s when I knew I picked the wrong one.

    I didn’t think Albania could attract the televote so much but when the televote stopped I went to look the YT views and Albania really stood out among the first four entries so at that time I became confident about them making it through.

    I feel sorry about Belarus (didn’t like the song, loved the performance) and Switzerland (great energy and they have such a bad record in SFs) and I’m still surprised about Finland qualifying – it was completely OTT and seemed like it was going to get pushed. Not so surprised by Azerbaijan failing for once (it got totally lost in the recap).

    I don’t think we have seen the winner as of yet. Lithuania and Norway are the hot bets tonight and France is improving due to Israel and Estonia not convincing enough people. Estonia seems like an absolute marginal qualifier.

  • Donald

    Hi all, hope you all are going good. Been on a a hiatus. Lithuania caught my attention tonight though. Time to start a book. More later in the week.

  • Rob4

    any live feed link for the draw?

  • What a semi! That was like an X Factor reveal in many ways. Finland very late to be announced safe and then an absolute cliffhanger only to discover Azerbaijan are out! Kudos to TPTB for that one.

    • John

      A joy watching plucky Saara, Albania’s little song that could and finally The Lads all qualifying in the last 3 slots. Knew Ireland had it when they gave it a big pause, knowing it would POP in the arena.

      For a bloodbath, the casualties were to be expected in hindsight (obvs), Greece was dull, Belgium was gloomy, Azerbaijan quite bland and forgettable. I only really feel like Switzerland and Armenia were hard done by. Both sung very well. Estonia probaby limped through. It starts well but then trails off.

      Czech Rep, Israel and Cyprus are not winning this.

      Lithuania and Norway the new faves for me, although I think France are in the mix.

  • eurovicious

    Really interesting going over everyone’s predictions. The majority of us got 7/10, a few 6/10, and five commenters (BT, Showlad, Chewy, Shai and Eoin) plus Daniel got 8/10. Well done!

    Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus all out means a lot of votes from the ex-USSR region are gonna go to Moldova on Saturday. I am surprised about Belarus, less so about Armenia (it lacked allies), and I’d rather have seen Switzerland than Ireland through. Happy for Albania and Finland.

    An ESC-fan friend watching at home got 9/10 and reckons Ireland is one to watch. I don’t disagree. Thought Spain looked fantastic tonight too.

    • Stephen Muckle

      I would say much of the ex USSR votes will go to Russia and Ukraine more than Moldova

      • eurovicious

        I think some will, especially Russia, but Moldova has the Filipp Kirkorov factor. Melovin isn’t that big and I think his song is less appealing for CIS voters than Moldova’s and Russia’s. Moldova’s entry is just like something from Russia’s big state TV entertainment shows (the ones Kirkorov is a staple on), it totally meets post-Soviet light entertainment tastes. And it has a lot of western appeal too. I’ve always considered it solid top 10 but top 5 looks feasible.

  • great night for ESC that Albania and Ireland qualified over Armenia and Azerbaijan…..

    Personally also glad that Bulgaria’s high risk strategy has been rewarded…..

    Lithuania may yet surprise us!!!

    • eurovicious

      Lithuania is getting a surprising amount of buzz. I like it, but I don’t like that thing she does with her voice.

      • Mark

        The song is too low in register for her to really shine… Alas.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        @eurovicious

        The same here. Unpleasant at times. It sounds as though Lena is her vocal coach.

      • Donald

        It really came across well on a first watch and listen, (which I was tonight) Could have even won that semi. Something very authentic and natural about it. Was in first half of show, followed by Israel and still seems to have stole the show, it did in my books right the minute I saw it. Definitely a contender and with a good draw who knows.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Annoying voice, yet she’s very authentic and natural.

          All true. And all true of Lena, as well?

          • niko

            I knew Lena. Lena was a friend of mine. Ieva, you’re no Lena.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hahaha! Fabulous, Senator 😀

          • Chris Bellis

            That style of talking is more or less the norm among young women these days. It’s called “vocal fry”, and is usually accompanied by the Australian upward inflection that you hear on Neighbours. It is irritating, but they are not going to change now.

          • eurovicious

            Yeah, I did, like, think of vocal fry when I heard it, you know?

  • niko

    6/10 only, would have changed from Belgium to Lithuania during the show while seeing the odds, but did never see Albania and Finland qualify.

    Lithuania much talked about online, I am in shock. To me, it is fake, cloying, not a particularly good song. I was bored to tears during it.

    Ireland au contraire… That was tonight’s revelation for me. Cute guy with a guitar works in Eurovision, we’ve seen that before. The song is nice, mellow but with a pretty good chorus and the staging is really, really outstanding. I kind of like that they start off without the dancers, so it plausibly also could be a love song about Ryan and the pianist. Everyone becomes included. Watched with a friend who hadn’t seen the songs before and actually began to tear up a little bit during it. I am not sure this was borderline.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Although there’s market weakness at the head, I’m still confused why France is now third favourite @6.8

    I’ve only seen small segments of footage of their rehearsals. Overall, I was a disappointed at what I saw, and felt an opportunity had been missed.

    Has anyone any links to more extended footage?

  • Shai

    Allocation draw:

    Albania – 1st half

    Czech Republic – 2nd half

    Lithuanaia-1st half

    Israel- 2nd half

    Estonia – 1st half

    Bulgaria – 2nd half

    Austria – 1st half

    Finland – 2nd half

    Ireland – 2nd half

    Cyprus – 2nd half

    1st half of the final is shaping up as a very slow half , while the 2nd half very uptempo.

    There still 4 x 1st half places and 6 x 2nd half places

  • Hippo

    OK, just a few random thoughts and observations:

    1. Cyprus very likely won the semi final, they are in with a shout.

    2. Estonia and Czech are not doing well with the public. Estonia could miss top 10 potentially. Czech more top 10 than top 5.

    3. Lithuania probably 3rd in the semi behind Israel- doesn’t look like it’s won the semi and the ballad heavy first half has put the kaibosh on any rally for the win.

    4. France is still a long shot, it has weak company overall in the first half so far but was already struggling to stand out.

    5. Bulgaria’s bot has called it a day.

    6. Watch out for the first uptempo/fun song in that first half (after the opener), we’ve seen it two years in a row with Bulgaria and Moldova- a country exceed expectations from there. Might be the best position for Moldova again for example and it wouldn’t hurt Rybak either.

    7. Israel does not look like a winner. 4th favourite is getting somewhere now.

    8. We’re in a situation where the jury support for pretty much every contender is expected to be lower.

    • Ande

      All favorites (except Cyprus and Czech) disappointed me a bit.

      Estonia didn’t connect as well as in NF, not winning.
      Czech is a pretty safe top 10 I think, no winner though.
      Israel is much worse live and the staging messy and tacky, not a winner.
      Cyprus was good but it just shouldn’t have the gas to win outright come finals.

      Lithuania is winning but I don’t know what to think about this years top 5/10.

  • dicksbits

    So how did Albania qualify: What friendly countries helped it?

    • Rob4

      greece, austria, croatia, switzerland, and macedonia historically award albania higher than average points.

    • Ande

      I don’t think they needed much help. Eugent went straight for vocal USP and struck gold when contrasted against all the MOR performers. Sailed through comfortably.

      • zelenovi

        Agreed. It felt like the first ‘wow’ of the night after two quite meh performances. Also won’t have hurt that Marty Whelan (Irish commentator) announced him as having one of the best voices in this year’s contest, and gave a ‘wow’ after the song finished.

        That said, still quite relieved when it went through. Eugent seems a lovely guy and a huge talent, and Albania have had a rough few years. Fair play to them.

  • RD

    Based on the buzz among press, bets and social media I’d say:

    Borderline qualifiers – Estonia, Finland
    Good, not great placement – Austria, Albania, Bulgaria
    Strong reception – Czech Republic, Israel, Ireland (!)
    Likely winners – Cyprus, Lithuania (I lean towards Lithuania)

    So far there’s no real uptempo number to open the final. Albania would be my candidate so far with a small chance for UK. With so many ballads I think UK will escape the #2 slot because it will be needed as a break later on. Estonia and Austria would be my current candidates for the dreaded slot.

  • Almost every year I say to myself this year is weak, no good songs, etc. And everytime after the show start I change my mind. There are some really good songs I will be listening and listening after everything ends.

    Czech Republic. Loved it already but now I love it even more.
    Bulgaria. I understood it is a good song but not cared to listen to it more than twice. Now it’s on my playlist. Love it.
    Austria. I actually didn’t like it on the first listen. I liked it on next listens. Now it’s on my playlist. Also LIVE it sounds much better than in the studio version.
    Cyprus. Always loved it and with that dance choreography it’s my favorite of the evening.
    Israel. I love it but not the LIVE version. The start of the song doesn’t work for me. Studio version is perfect and is on my playlist.
    Ireland. I thought that was nothing special. I know think it is something special. Added to my playlist.

    I love music, I love Eurovision and I love betting. This week is so exciting!

  • dicksbits

    I think watching the show demonstrated to me how important the running order is – in terms of who follows who.

  • dicksbits

    Worth a read: iTunes charts..

    http://esctracker.com/

    • beckettfitz

      Austria is doing quite well behind Cyprus!

      Apparently they said his song was in the running for the UK!

    • James

      How useful actually are iTunes charts nowadays when download sales are at an all-time low? For example as I write this Fuego is at number 12 in Sweden but that’s probably no more than about 50 or so downloads.

      • The Nefeilibata

        It’s weird, download sales are all but dead, Spotify skews heavily toward a certain type of song over others, and if you look at the YouTube views, some of the NQs have much higher views than most of the qualifiers! I don’t know what to believe anymore.

      • Chris Bellis

        I’m always surprised to find that people actually buy music like this, when it’s so easy to get the music for free. You can even rip it straight from the Eurovision site, totally legally for personal use, and at fairly good quality. There are other less legal methods, of course….but if you do, take precautions.

        • The thing is Chris, most people don’t know how or have any idea how to do that.
          They have their iPhone, and they just listen to music the way Apple tells them to

          • Chris Bellis

            That’s true. The ipod iphone generation. To be fair, judging by some of the pcs I’ve been asked to fix lately, Apple might be right to lock everything down. My sister-in-law’s computer was totally taken over by trojans, which she’d downloaded via a phishing email which a child could have seen was a forgery. Some people are not to be trusted on the internet. For them, it’s best to stick with Apple.

  • markovs

    The BBC reaction to last night’s semi final was interesting this morning. Started off with Ireland, qualifying for the first time in years, mentioning the gay couple reasonably positively, then into the usual deprecation. The example used was the first 30 seconds of Toy and was clearly used to show how Eurovision is still about novelty songs and a bit weird and to be looked down on and laughed at.

    I realise publicity is publicity but I think that is the problem with Netta all along. The first 30-45 secs is so novelty and off putting that by the time the great part kicks in the damage has been done. It reinforces the old Eurovision stereotypes. If it actually did win I think it would put ESC back years in this country and used as ‘Look at this, isn’t it funny. We will end up with even more Scooch!!

    As to the contest, who the help us winning this? Are Cyprus or Norway good enough? Can Lithuania do it from 1st half in amongst all the other ballads? Will Spain or Germany grab the heartstrings at the last minute. At least it won’t be Azerbaijan again.

    • The Nefeilibata

      I’m looking forward to the final running order on Friday morning, if Lithuania gets 13th and Spain gets 2nd, then that will speak volumes

      I’d honestly rate Germany’s chances of racking up the jury votes than Spain even though personally both are like putting a bag of sugar over a bowl of Frosties

      • Chris Bellis

        @The Nefeilibata
        Spain is the winner for complete schmaltz, but then most of Southern Europe likes that sort of thing. Spain’s effort is like dry red wine in comparison with their efforts on Junior Eurovision.

    • eurovicious

      “The first 30-45 secs is so novelty and off putting that by the time the great part kicks in the damage has been done.”

      This.

      The part where she spells the letters out is the most cringeworthy thing I’ve seen since Romania 2003’s “DJs” with their massive fake records.

      Most people won’t understand what Netta is supposed to be doing. Hardly anyone knows what a looper is, and the “looper” she has on stage doesn’t look anything like her usual one, from which you could figure out what she’s doing even if you hadn’t seen one before. It just turns the opening into a load of noises.

      The message also struggles to come through amidst all the madness. The “Wonder Women” and “Not your toy” lines are clear, but there’s almost too much chaos for the content to really resonate with people emotionally.

      Netta’s vocals are fantastic and her personality/interplay with the camera likewise. She’s delivering; the staging let her down. What is that table anyway? A glorified light box?

      • Chris Bellis

        EV Great analysis. How to bugger up a good song, well performed. Mind you there are some real competitors for staging errors this year.

      • Mark

        I’ve never been a fan of TOY. But if I had been, I’d be seriously hopping mad at how they’ve messed this up. Apart from the inaccessibility of the opening 30 seconds , the whole staging as EV points out lacks any coherence. If you hadn’t read up on the back story, you’d have absolutely no idea what the song is about. Is it a farmyard commercial? An eccentric postmodern “Old MacDonald. “? Truly, a wasted opportunity. And in a very competitive upbeat 2nd half , it may yet finish lower than many expect.

    • Scott Reid

      It’s Italy all over again. Fantastic song but, unless you know the backstory, you’re going to think it’s a novelty song. And there are acts who are better at being a novelty song, so it wins neither the watching for a laugh or hipster vote.

      • Chris Bellis

        I watched the SF1 at my sister-in-law’s house, with a few friends, not any of them Eurofans. I forced them to watch, and I expect I will suffer for that. They really didn’t like Israel and loved Lithuania and Switzerland. (BTW Switzerland didn’t deserve to go out, but they don’t really have any friends.) I was surprised how much they disliked Israel. I don’t think it’s going to get the televote love that has been predicted.

  • Eoin

    Couple of thoughts so far:

    I think Cyprus won the semi, the ESC tracker stats would support this.
    Czech Rep seems to be more a Jury song, I think it may have not gathered the support on the televote side, hence it’s drift. May struggle to stand out in 2nd half with all the uptempo songs.
    Consequently I think Ireland have a great chance to stand out in the 2nd half, Lithuania also drawing 1st half will help this.

  • Sawyer

    It’s Cyprus-Norway-France at the moment. Let’s see if there will be any changes after Semi-Final 2 Jury Reherseal.

    • markovs

      Still not convinced with France. A grower rather than an immediate wow and 1st half draw. Don’t like it’s current odds, especially as stage show looks nothing special.

      All the ’emotional’ songs could cancel each other out. France, Lithuania, Spain, Germany, Ireland. Could be the year for an upbeat fun song and Norway and Cyprus seem to fit the bill?

      • Chris Bellis

        You’ve got a good point there. Wouldn’t rule out Moldova either. France never stages its stuff well anyway, so I’m staying away from that. Burned a few times in the past.

      • Hippo

        Agree with that, there’s too many songs being tipped to win or be dark horses because of emotional impact. Are we expecting viewers and jurors to be crying their eyes out throughout the entire first half with dead dads, dead grandmothers, refuge plights, young love, a story about old love and goosebump vocals (though everyone agrees Estonia is gone)
        I don’t think any of them has sufficient emotional connection to stand out and generate a huge amount of votes.

        There’s nothing at all to suggest that Lithuania won that semi either, it looks like it was anywhere from 2nd to 4th. It’s not now going to overturn that from this first half. I’ve never fancied Lithuania, covered it pre semi as a lot do but it’s not happening.

      • Scott Reid

        It says something that a lot of the acts doing well in the betting are ones that haven’t performed yet … a lot are crashing and burning when they hit the stage.

        I have money on France because the odds were so ridiculously high and there is a path to victory if they bludgeon people over the head with the story in the next week. But I don’t have great confidence in their ability to do that, or to stage it.

  • Chris Bellis

    markovs
    Look on the bright side. Scooch et al have earned me a lot of money over the years. As long as the BBC and audience have this sneering attitude to Eurovision we’ll keep sending crap. Even when we send a decent singer they always give them a rotten song. Scooch, Andy Abrams, Josh Dubovie, bring them on. Free money.

  • markovs

    Weirdly, Scooch didn’t come last. Malta decided to give them 12 points and Ireland took the wooden spoon. Also Electri Velvet ket me down as had nailed on for last. But I know what you mean. Won plenty on our dire efforts.

  • markovs

    Lol. Because they’d lose a fortune on the UK, Germany and Spain

  • Showlad

    CYPUS: Showlad’s view. Hi all just giving my take on Cyprus. I will make a profit on my book if they win, so hopefully my view will be balanced and helpful to all.
    Eleni has taken a very average ethno pop tune and brought an amazing energy and star presence to Lisbon tramsforming the song. However, I fear we are at risk of getting lost in the ESC fan bubble demographic who go wild for her particualr fire.
    I had a house full of non-ESC fans who thought it good and catchy but weak vocally and certainly no winnner and much preferred Israel and Lithuania.
    Juries I fear will big time penalise – let’s not pretend otherwise – a paper thin vocal and not much of a great song and a trashy element that many will find a turn off. Removing ourselves from the bubble I think in the ‘uptempo pop song’ category juries will find Netta much vocally stronger and gravitate to her authentic skills rather than much of the ‘dispensable’ aspects of Cyprus. Cyprus will be Top 5 but it ain’t winning unless it goes tits up for the other contenders. I think Lithuania may well have edged the semi.
    The other red herring is Itunes and other mediums (all can be viewed on http://esctracker.com ) and Cyprus’ catchy pop number is more akin to doing well here rather than with a broad section of family viewers and the juries. But take away Greece and Cyprus in her itunes catchment and Eleni given her pimp closing slot isn’t for me showing the profile at all even there of a winner.
    I hope I can help us and since 2003 have only been blindsided by the (many believe rigged) Az win. I have been very fortunate to have had some huge 3 figure odds wins.
    I will post up my winners take when the crucial GF running order is released. For now though I think Nor, Fra and Lit are very strong (Isr in the mix but the crazy comedy factor has been played too strong I feel to win) but I have a funny feeling we may be going to Berlin for Eurovision 2019. Michael is the HUGE dark horse under the radar. The staging is the most impactful for me of all the songs this year. He is totally current, can appeal to all viewers and is 100% jury bait and he has the vital ‘X’ factor that I felt I was missing from my book as I mused over a cuppa the other morning – as this guy and his song and the graphics are going to have Joe Public reaching for the Kleenex 😉

    • Alpie

      Showlad, are you in lisbon following the contest live?

    • eurovicious

      Good stuff Showlad, I very much agree on Cyprus. I hope you’re wrong about Germany, though I’m behind Spain for very similar reasons… my stance on Germany is that while there are things in its favour, he’s not a very good singer, the song is underwhelming and insipid, and it’s too obviously a bad Ed Sheeran rip-off (with the piano and chord progression very reminiscent of Adele’s Someone Like You). It has me reaching for the sick bucket, not the Kleenex; France’s entry has me reaching for the Kleenex but more because of Monsieur than the music…

      • Showlad

        Hi EV. Ha ha so funny the Adele/Ed Sheeran similarities to me are for Joe Public meat and drink positives imho. Also Michael’s vocal has been greatly improved and much more in an emotionally confident zone that connects, conveys and touches.
        I think around 10th may be the best realistic aim for Spain. France will leave it standing in both jury relevance and in emotional touching factor without reaching for said sick bucket 😉
        Indeed the staging but crucially the dancers fannying about wildly and aggressively has REALLY scuppered Netta’s chances.

      • Chris Bellis

        I warmed to Monsieur when he brought on SuRie to dep for Madame when she was ill. He dropped the French intellectual act and seemed like a really nice guy. I do wonder though whether the average viewer will get that the all-in-black couple are dressed like that as an hommage to the image of France outside France. Little tongue-in-cheek performances like this don’t always work . Think Spain in 2008 or Ireland in the same year. Nobody got the joke. France is a much gentler self-parody, but it seems a dangerous bit of staging already, given how France has got it wrong on so many occasions. (I originally used the word “countless” but my spell checker kept changing it to a rude word. Might be a sign. It also changed the French “hommage” to hominy grits so maybe that’s a sign for Waylon).

  • Showlad

    Hi Alpie. No just watching all the live streams and live blogs across the baord and reviews and getting that take on what’s going down in the press bubble there, comparing it with the reactions of many viewing non-ESC fans last night at this end and then all importantly gauging my own take and rather refined ESC ‘gut’ feeling 😉

    • Alpie

      Showlad, thanks for your valuable insight. I have to reconsider what u say about Cyprus. With a pimp slot Can Israel run for a victory against all the odds as there are so many divisive views of Netta?

  • Showlad

    @Alpie. I think Isr can be stronger than Cyp with juries and Cyp stronger than Isr with the public because Isr is so messy unfortunately and Cyp much easier to latch on to. I think Isr 3rd to 5th (as Cyp). The momentum I feel is with Nor Fra Lit and Ger. The winner is among those 4.
    @Mark. I know they couldn’t have made Toy more of a joke entry if they had tried. Genuinely surpised and so disappointed 🙁

  • Showlad

    Norway’s Win Win Grand Final draw: Norway are on to a VERY good thing for backers now, as if they draw 1st half tonight they are amongst a sea of ballads and it’s a win situation. If they draw 2nd half later draw again another win sitaution for them 🙂 Looking increasingly good for Alexander’s chances of a 2nd victory. Majorly in the mix now as the frame gets finalised for the GF.

  • Stephen Muckle

    I’m now in the belief that Estonia or Lithuania will win, possibly by “doing a Ukraine”, especially Lithuania. Does anyone rate Ukraine’s chances of winning again?

    • Ande

      A very slim stake in Ukraine yes, however unless everything comes together perfectly it shouldn’t work out. Melovin is a good performer so the prospects for Ukraine Top 10 represents real value.

  • markovs

    After last night I see no path for an Israel win. It was a mess, vocals were OK but not awesome and no way will be top 3 in televote. Also, the novelty song factor must affect the juries and I don’t see it top 3 with them either. I have had red all along and will be keeping it that way.

    Unless Norway absolutely smash it out of the park in semi 2, I think we are heading for a default winner. Cyprus 2nd half draw and likely 1st or 2nd in televote does make them a massive player despite reservations on jury vote.

    The plethora of ballads in the first half will make it very difficult for any of them to stand out, you can only wring so much emotion out of people and Portugal, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, France are all aiming at a similar market.

    Could Sweden or Moldova sneak under the radar? The value is still there with them and we know the performances are excellent.

    • Hippo

      The problem Sweden and Moldova have is that they both look overly dependent on just the one side of the equation- Sweden with the Jury, Moldova with the televote. In fact, without looking back through all the numbers, I can only think of one occasion for each country where they scored significantly better with the other side (Sweden 2011, Moldova 2013 ?).

      Can Moldova really get more than 100 jury points? They’d need at least 150 to be in with a shot assuming they smash the televote and hope Cyprus and Norway score low. Can break into the top 5, but surely they just can’t accumulate enough points to win overall?

      Sweden is a little harder but the reverse essentially. It’s a fair assumption to make that ‘Dance You Off’ is not going to score particularly great with televoters- but If Sweden are not in the jury top 3 I will be shocked. Again however, I don’t see them getting enough points overall for the win. What will be the split? 250-100? 300-150? It only looks to come into contention if it starts getting around 300-200, a televote score I don’t think it’s capable off.

      450 points looks like the reasonable maximum both countries could achieve and it’s highly likely that will be topped.

      • johnkef

        Do you think that in year like that the Winner will have more than 450 points? I am expecting the winner to be in the 400-450 points area

        • Hippo

          I’d expect someone to get above 500, maybe two. No matter how tight the year looks someone always pulls away. If it is below 450 though that does open it up.

    • Chris Bellis

      We would be ignoring the lessons of Eurovision history if we didn’t have some money on Sweden and Moldova. One super slick performance and one enjoyable fun one. Nobody can say it hasn’t happened before. Both countries punch well above their weight in this sort of music. Who can forget O-Zone, with Dragostea din tei, for example. (Now that will go round your heads and you will curse me for reminding you.)

      • Ande

        Moldova doing a Moldova/Romania of last year sure, but can you really imagine them being Top 5 with juries and running away with the televote? The song feels too niché to even win the televote by a large enough margin.

  • Showlad

    Alex 20 hours ago sounding great and looking good and enjoying himself https://www.instagram.com/p/BihhrcDhd_N/?utm_source=ig_twitter_share

  • Chris Bellis

    Loads of people on here said Israel should have learned from the gorilla. Too many to list – nearly all the regular posters. One thing we did all agree on.
    Furthermore, it’s a pity FYR Macedonia’s team didn’t pay any attention to my styling tips. I was watching this in a room full of women (no eurofans) and it’s the first thing they said. “What was she thinking?” She looked so nice in her cream trouser suit (the acoustic video). Macedonian women, like many Balkan women, are tall, so you don’t dress them in the trashy way they did for this performance. Also you don’t mess with them as some of them have access to weapons left over from the war. Good job Darko Dimitrov has good connections.

    • BT

      One thing I realised during the FYROM performance was just how much of a lost cause it was. They obviously made some terrible staging decisions but I couldn’t think of any way to stage it that would get it through a competitive semi like that. Without taking the styling into account, the live song is just too inferior to the studio version and the BOGOF offer on genres they were peddling was too jarring. I’ll be surprised if it turns out this wasn’t 19th.

      • Chris Bellis

        @BT
        Have to agree. The trouble with producers and designers in that region is that the default is a sort of turbo-folk look (ie slutty). You could tell the poor lady wasn’t at all happy with this and she seemed awkward and uncomfortable. The dress was awful, the dance moves were atrocious etc. I don’t think the song was that bad (better than ours anyway) and she sang it ok. But as you say, doomed.

  • Mr Mysterious

    I don’t see Cyprus winning. In my opinion, I still think Israel has a good shot at taking home the trophy.

    Everything in the semi final went well for Cyprus – got given the pimp slot and was placed after three boring NQ songs.

    Israel, on the other hand got lumped right in between contenders like Czech, Lithuania, Estonia and Bulgaria, and is still far ahead on Youtube Likes/Views than everyone bar Cyprus.

    I tink that the grand final running order could well and truly be the determining factor here. If Cyprus gets given a late slot and Israel 14th//15th, then Cyprus probably wins. But, if Israel gets number 21-26 and Cyprus number 16-17, Israel probably stands the better chance.

    I just don’t see an average song and average vocals from Cyprus winning. It wouldn’t surprise me if the juries hurt it quite a bit because of its vocals.

    I also don’t think Norway has much of a chance – for me, the song feels very weak – I think his elevation in the odds is to do with his name only and the pimpage he’s been receiving from the press – I don’t think many people will remember him from 10 years ago.

    • RD

      Both Cyprus and Israel seem to have been absolute top 5 (if not the actual top 2) of that SF’s televote. No way one of them is drawn in the dead 14-16 zone. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are close to each other in the running order and separated by either Italy or Ireland. If Latvia qualifies and gets a 2nd Half draw it would be like the perfect song to put in the middle of these two.

  • markovs

    ‘re the comments above ‘re juries / televote. I think this is a year where no-one will be top 3 with both and it may be possible to win if you are top of one by a mile and 5th ish with the other.

    Norway possibly fit this the best as the performance and vocals should have him reasonably high even with the juries whereas Cyprus could suffer jury wise.

    Conversely Bulgaria, Sweden and France could suffer televote wise.

    Going to be very difficult until we see the draw, but I don’t think we saw the winner last night.

    • Chris Bellis

      Back you on that markovs. My tame televoters didn’t like Bulgaria, Sweden or France. In fact I was threatened with exile to the shed if I played any of them again in the house. They don’t like Norway either They are all fans of Finland I’m afraid.

  • James

    I really strongly feel that Cyprus is a false favourite due to the demographics of the fan bubble/press centre crowd. It’s what I can only term the “yas queen slay” effect, and that didn’t do Mei Finegold any good. Fuego was absolutely nowhere in the odds when it was just the studio version and I don’t see why a couple of slut drops and some backing singers should change that. What it really boils down to is, the song is just a bit weak. Lower top 10 is its ceiling imo.

    • Phil

      I get what you mean on the “yas queen slay” thing. However, I absolutely hate all that, but Cyprus really grabbed my attention. Top 3 I reckon.

  • Ande

    Anyone. How will Lithuania fare with juries?

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