Eurovision 2013: Semi-final allocation draw analysis

The semi-final allocation draw has been made and the outcome can be found here. A couple of things are worth pointing out before picking out some early outliers.

As before, the countries have been allocated to the first half or the second half of each semi-final, which each delegation can take into account when booking accommodation. In a new move this year, however, producers will decide the exact running order of each heat within these parameters. (There won’t even be these parameters for the final.) The intention is to provide the best televisual experience. The ramifications on this for punters will soon be considered in a separate article on Sofabet.

It’s also worth reiterating that it’s very early days, despite an unusual flurry of selections in December. I don’t think there’s a contender among them despite the encouraging noises surrounding Ukraine’s choice of ‘Gravity’. So the discussion that follows draws a broad brush over which countries or blocs have benefited or not. With most of the songs themselves unknown, there isn’t much more to be said.

1. Last year the controversial decision was taken to separate Slovenia from the Balkan bloc pot, leaving the possibility that five ex-yugos would be drawn with each other. That duly happened. It helped Macedonia get into the final though wasn’t enough for Croatia or Slovenia. This year, Slovenia were again kept apart in a different pot and they were again drawn with a majority of the other ex-yugos – Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia – in semi one. Macedonia have not been so lucky left in the other semi, though they do have Albania and Bulgaria as allies there.

2. There was plenty of re-jigging of the Nordic pot. Sweden were taken out as one of the automatic finalists, and Denmark and Norway were already allotted to separate semis. Joining Iceland, Finland and Estonia were the less Scandi-centric Baltics and Ireland. There was the possibility of a five-strong Scandiwegian bloc but it hasn’t happened. Sweden, Denmark and Estonia vote in heat one; Norway, Finland and Iceland are in heat two, and the closest unions within this bloc (Denmark / Iceland for example) have also been split.

3. With the return of Armenia, the ex-USSR bloc is back to full strength. Armenia were put in the Soviet pot for the first time instead of Israel who vote with an eastwards bias. Armenia are in the same semi as rivals Azerbaijan which can cause some tension in their respective broadcasts. There are actually more ex-USSR countries in the first semi: Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Lithuania (the most eastwards looking of the Baltics, voting-wise), but with Israel joining Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Latvia in the second heat, it’s not unbalanced.

4. There will be some small sense of satisfaction for every country drawn in the smaller semi 1. Statistically alone they have a better chance. It also contains fewer big hitters – Serbia, Russia and Ukraine – and slightly more countries with a poor record of qualifying – Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Belarus and Slovenia for example. In semi 2 we have Azerbaijan, Greece, Armenia and Romania for the big hitters, and the minnows that spring to mind are San Marino, Bulgaria, Latvia and Switzerland.

5. Ireland will be delighted to be in semi 1 for that reason alone, and because the UK will vote in this semi. You’ve also got in this semi western European nations such as Netherlands and Belgium whose televote won’t be dominated by Turkish, Armenian or Greek diasporas.

On a separate note, the Emerald Isle may not be done yet with its X Factor / Eurovision crossover, which is much appreciated on a site like ours which specialises in both. We’ve had Jedward representing the country for two years running, and it seems likely that one of the acts in the running for this year’s national final on 22 Feb is Melanie McCabe.

Anyway, the really important stuff is largely to come: the songs themselves. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on the semi-final allocation draw below. Any big winners or losers that you can see?

16 comments to Eurovision 2013: Semi-final allocation draw analysis

  • Emma

    Ciao Daniel! Good to have your fantastic ESC articles back. Can’t wait until we start debating individual songs. Of course, we’ll need some respectable songs to be chosen first…

    Right now, I see one of the biggest draw-winners as Serbia–second half of the semi, with Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. Not bad! Russia’s obviously sitting rather pretty too–and so is another Soviet big hitter, Ukraine.

    As of this posting, I see Ukraine as the only song with some semblance of a chance of doing well. It’s got big notes to attract the jury (and perhaps the televoters as well in the post-Loreen years?) and no distracting gimmicks thus far. Zlata is very beautiful and can clearly sing live. My one concern is that it’s a BIT Quedate Conmigo-y but the English lyrics and Ukraine’s strong (if fallible) voting bloc. Plus, Gravity is more uptempo, fun, and engaging. I see it doing quite well. Anyone agree?

  • Tim B

    Emma, I agree. I definitely see some potential in Ukraine’s entry. She is an incredible singer and for me it ticks enough boxes for it to do quite well. However I don’t think the song is structured as well as it could be. It’s a shame she hasn’t got a different song but I think juries will be kind on the whole and I can see this in the top 10. Daniel, do your comments above mean there won’t be an article for ‘Gravity’?

    Albania is credible (although I gather it is an alleged plagiarism, whatever) and I can also see it doing well enough. It’s very grand and should stand out as quality against the disposable pop of the likes of Belarus.

  • Dr Rich

    Agree with Tim that ‘Gravity’ could be structured a lot better. Left me a bit frustrated as it is good in the main but a mess at times. Far too much input form the backing singers and sloppy at times from them. 2 or 3 strong female backing singers with half the input would have done this song more justice.

  • Daniel

    Welcome back Emma, and thanks for your input Tim and Dr Rich. I’m going to wait and see on an article for ‘Gravity’. I’d like to hear a final version first. Suffice to say between the three of you, you have summed up well its strengths and weaknesses already.

    I would add that I don’t find the song relevant nor contemporary. What’s its demographic going to be among televoters? It’s going to need more than those who love The Lion King no matter how good Zlata looks and sounds.

    I can’t imagine any of my non-fan friends switching to the big event on May 18, hearing 26 songs and thinking, ‘yes, my vote goes to that 90s Disney world music thing.’ Many of the lyrics are hard to understand and those you can are ridiculous.

    In its favour is Zlata herself, whose vocal prowess should impress the jurors. I like the instrumentation and the song has ‘moments’, but the whole thing doesn’t gel into a coherent whole. Maybe the final version will improve on this.

  • I agree with every1 incl daniel re ukraine, I anticipate most value from it from top10 bets and, a lesser extend, qualification. Do notice how the batterfly theme suits the song!

    • Also, the last time Michail Nekrasov wrote the ukranian entry, the noise known as I AM YOUR QUEEN turned into the fantastic SHOW ME YOUR LOVE, sung by another vocally and performance-wise talented young lady, tina karol.

      • Daniel

        Hi Panos, it’s worth showing Sofabet readers what they managed to turn into a Top 10 entry in 2006. Here goes:

        • Sander

          Now I am convinced that a top 10 result for Ukraine in the final is very possible. Usually the national final version sounds ‘soft’ while the melody in the eurovision version usually is catchier. I think they can do a great job for Gravity 🙂

          By the way, I read that some people think the low televote results last year were because of racism. Does any of you think that, if they keep the black backing vocalists this year, this influences the voting? I highly doubt it because the singer is very typical for a ukraine entry and Sweden this year had a black dancer.

          • Emma

            I don’t think black backing vocalists will hurt Zlata’s chances. Most likely, racism was one of several factors that hurt Gaitana’s chances–the song was pretty substance-free, Russia was sponging up the ex-Soviet votes in the final, the stage show wasn’t great. You’re right, Sweden had a black dancer last year and I’m fairly sure they did the year before, as did Russia, plus Simon from Blue is black and all of these acts hit the top 10 in televoting. Race really shouldn’t affect Zlata’s score, IMO.

  • Sander

    This is my first post on this site 🙂 Hi everybody!

    For 2 years I have been following your comments and I just loved them. Many people I know think I over-analyze these eurovision things but like to speculate and debate!

    I never placed a bet on any betting site so I am very new to this. I am seriously thinking of betting this year. Last year I could have earned a lot of money I think. I thought Azerbaijan would end up top 5, Estonia top 10, Greece not top 10, Cyprus beating Greec etc.
    However, there were some results I never expected. I thought Denmark would have done much better and Italy too. I would have lost money there haha
    In 2011 I really thought Estonia would be top 10 😉 This year I thought Belgium would go to the final 😉

    Re Ukraine. I think it’s a decent song and the backings are ok. They just did not need to focus on the man behind her. Also the song is all over the place, but the change from ballad to up-tempo sounds good to me. If you compare the earlier version of ‘Angel’ to the improved version, I really think that they can make good and mabye a bit catchier version of Gravity this year.

    • Daniel

      Hi Sander, and welcome to Sofabet. You make a good point about previous Ukraine entry ‘Angel’. Likewise ‘Gravity’ is crying out for a revamp and that’s why it’s best to hold off being too quick to make firm conclusions yet.

  • Boki

    Off-topic for Dug: are you following CBB? Any comments on crazy outright market happenings?
    I’m not a BB fan and never will be but find Tricia odds crash very interesting and I understand it never happened before in this way.

  • Chewy Wesker

    Hi guys, I do like gravity, yes a revamp is needed it is a little “lion king” your spot on Daniel hard to really judge it with so few songs selected. But even at this early stage i’d bite your hand off if I could get 9/4 on a top ten place in the final, it jumps out from first hearing it great for the 100million televoters watching for the first time. Only problem I have with it is, right at the end of the song she says gravity- and for some reason I sing over it (cup of tea) try it you’ll know what I mean!

  • Dr Rich

    Any views on the upcoming Danish selection? Quite a strong dance theme to say the least. Hard to be sure with just recordings to go on but the 4 main contenders in my book are..

    Stay Awake by Simone Egeriss
    I’m Not Alone by Kate Hall
    Only Teardrops by Emmelie de Forest
    Unbreakable by Mohamed

    I really like “I’m Not Alone” but “Only Teardrops” may be the one to gain them most votes on a European stage.

    • Daniel

      Hey Dr Rich, I agree. I find the songs a rather similar blur of dance numbers. In the circumstances, performance on the night may well be the difference. It’s always an enjoyable final to watch – well produced and with a good web stream. I think it’s one I’ll sit back and enjoy.

    • Daniel

      I should add that Simone Egeriis, who is 6/4 favourite, was the beaten favourite in 2010, losing out in a semi-final duel to the lesser-fancied ‘In A Moment Like This’, which went on to place fourth at Eurovision.

      That 2010 Dansk Melodi Grand Prix also included the excellent ‘Breathing’ by Bryan Rice. At least beforehand, it doesn’t appear so strong a contest this year.

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