Eurovision 2018: Running order for the semi-finals

Eagerly anticipated by the betting community and fans in general, the official website has just published the running order for both semi-finals, found here. Azerbaijan open the first heat, which we round off with Cyprus. Meanwhile, the first dish of the second heat is Norway, where we finish with Ukraine.

A reminder that song strength is by far the most important criteria in qualification. That won’t stop us speculating about how today’s news impacts various chances, especially in the unusually good first semi. Do let us know your thoughts below. I’ll return with a review of the London Eurovision Party later this week, though it may be delayed a few days due to travel plans.

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123 comments to Eurovision 2018: Running order for the semi-finals

  • Iceland…..when will they ever qualify again??? Dead in the water.

    Norway was always odds on to start SF2….and they may repeat it on the night of the final, at the risk of a certain familiarity. (assuming it qualifies, which I expect it to do with ease!)

  • Martin F.

    Serbia really are the Esma & Lozano of 2018, aren’t they? Bless.

    • Chris Bellis

      @Martin F
      Much as I love the Queen of the Gypsies, that was not the best showcase. Serbia this year is better than that weird mixture, surely?

  • Jack

    Great running order 🙂 Here are my thoughts:

    Semi 1:
    1. Azerbaijan (great start, expected show opener)
    2. Iceland (expected ballad in second spot, dead in the water)
    3. Albania (forgettable)
    4. Belgium (classy song)
    5. Czech Republic (strange choice coming after Belgium, likeable performer)
    6. Lithuania (filler song in between two popular songs)
    7. Israel (good song to shake things up)
    8. Belarus (decent song, bad diction)
    9. Estonia (how is this popular?)
    10. Bulgaria (modern edgy song, great running order position)
    11. F.Y.R. Macedonia (why is Macedonia never given a late draw?
    12. Croatia (this will be forgotten. Austria is more radio friendly and Macedonia sounds more modern).
    13. Austria (all decent enough to qualify)
    14. Greece (beautiful song in native language, jury friendly and diaspora televote will get behind it).
    15. Finland (bad song in between two diaspora magnets and jury friendly songs. I hope it crashed and burns)
    16. Armenia (decent song, draw and televote/jury support)
    17. Switzerland (nice song and late in the show. would not surprise me if it reaches the final)
    18. Ireland (filler and forgettable. will push Cyprus over the line)
    19. Cyprus (great show closer, catchy and memorable).

    My qualifiers:
    Czech Republic

  • Jack

    Thoughts on semi 2:

    1. Norway (fun start of the semi)
    2. Romania (100% qualification record hopefully will be challenged this year)
    3. Serbia (forgettable)
    4. San Marino (bad song)
    5. Denmark (decent song but not special. don’t understand the love)
    6. Russia (not a bad draw)
    7. Moldova (fun song but Netherlands and Australia are better and Russia will be a talking point)
    8. The Netherlands (no idea if the draw is good for Netherlands, at least it’s not early in the show)
    9. Australia (no surprise here as EBU loves Australia)
    10. Georgia (will be forgotten in between Australia and Poland)
    11. Poland (don’t like it but sounds modern radio friendly. expect televote support and other songs are more likely to me marked down by juries.)
    12. Malta (like the song and sounds the most eurovision, precedes the aggressive Hungary and probably will be jury top 10)
    13. Hungary (I can understand some people like it but I don’t like the aggressive sound)
    14. Latvia (beautiful lady singing a heartfelt song)
    15. Sweden (decent radio friendly song and staging)
    16. Montenegro (good running order but I don’t see Montenegro reaching the final)
    17. Slovenia (even performing second last won’t save this)
    18. Ukraine (love the song and performer, great show closer and definitely top 3 material!)

    My qualifers:
    The Netherlands

  • Dan

    1st SF – Qualifiers

    Czech Republic

    2nd SF – Qualifiers
    The Netherlands

  • Hippo

    Well, everyone predicting Fyr Macedonia to get the pimp slot was a little off. There’s only two real surprises in my opinion, them being so early and that Norway weren’t saved for later, but of course Australia needed their traditional spot. I don’t think this draw has changed my opinion on any qualifier but it has made if even tighter in semi one between my borderlines, as I thought Austria and Finland might be later.
    My qualifiers at this stage are:

    Czech Republic

    Azerbaijan is hard to leave out, the rest not so much for me. Iceland a certain last place.


    I think there’s quite a gap between these ten and the chances of the rest to qualify.

    • Jack

      Agree with you on Denmark failing to qualify but do you really think 6 countries in the first half of semi 2 will qualify? And if it happens, Moldova is in the mix?
      Which countries are sure bottom 3 for your in semi 1 and semi 2? For me they are:
      Semi 1: Iceland, Croatia and Ireland.
      Semi 2: San Marino, Georgia and Slovenia.

      • Hippo

        The 6 in the first half of semi 2 is based on how weak the second half is and that the first half is back wieghted too. The ad-break will probably be put after the Netherlands too going of the past to build up Australia too, so the boundqry between the halfs could be blurred.
        Moldova is cheap rubbish, but they’re good at doing that and they have some good allies here. Romania is the weakest of the first half if any would miss out.

        The bottom 3 in semi 1 is tough apart from Iceland, Albania, Ireland, Fyr Macedonia and Switzerland could fall in there. I’d go for tbe first three if I had to.

        In semi 2, I agree with two of yours but would swap Slovenia with Montenegro.

      • Ron

        Ireland has never once finished in the bottom 3 in a semi final and is unlikely to do so from that late draw

        • Chris Bellis

          @James Martin
          They don’t deserve to qualify, but they have too many friends, and diaspora. Most towns in the UK have a sizeable number in the population, topped by London of course. There about as many Russian citizens living here as Latvians, plus Russian speaking Latvians don’t vote for Latvia, and the same goes for other Eastern European countries’ Russian diaspora. They will all vote for Russia however bad the song. And then the natural allies, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, etc. Even Finland.

    • I really hope Russia don’t qualify. Infact I’d love it. Fucking love it.

  • Jimske

    i’m probably the only one but for what’s worth it, i believe everyone is underrating Slovenia, and i expect it to go to the final

  • Hardly a surprise Australia get the slot they do – almost certainly before a commercial break.

  • Boki

    It’s a bit strange that Bulgaria suddenly shortened in the outright just because of good running slot in the semi which has no relation to their chances in the final.

  • Is there a bookie that’s doing football style accumulators? So you bet on a field of countries to qualify or not to qualify, similar to footy where you predict a load of scores and win if they all come in?

  • Dan

    There are gonna be translated lyrics on screen in the Italian performance. Interesting.

  • Remember this whole war zone being projected on the LED walls for France :-P? So much about….stories:

    So there’s only so much you can do with a heartbreaking, compelling story….and subsequent lyrics. The art is to emote that story.

  • Alpie

    Hi Folks,

    This year’s competition has started with a new bubble in chicken noises. It was the gorilla last year. Very entertaining indeed.

    Anyway, One question that pops out in my mind is that If “Hey Mamma” of Moldova came third last year what could we expect from Alexander Rybak? Let’s decide if he has better performance than Moldova last year given his popularity and experience.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    Prediction Outcome Semi Final #2:
    (in order of qualification chances, behind brackets possible placing)

    GREEN ) Australia (1ST – 2ND)
    GREEN ) Sweden (1ST – 2ND)
    GREEN ) The Netherlands (2ND – 3RD)
    GREEN ) Norway (2ND – 4TH)
    GREEN ) Moldova (4TH – 6TH)
    GREEN ) Hungary (5TH – 7TH)
    GREEN ) Ukraine (5TH – 8TH)
    GREEN ) Poland (6TH – 9TH)
    AMBER ) Georgia (8TH – 10TH)
    AMBER ) Latvia (9TH – 11TH)
    AMBER ) Denmark (9TH – 11TH)
    AMBER ) Russia (9TH – 12TH)
    AMBER ) Romania (10TH – 13TH)
    RED ) Serbia (12TH – 15TH)
    RED ) Slovenia (14TH – 16TH)
    RED ) Montenegro (14TH – 17TH)
    RED ) San Marino (17TH – 18TH)
    RED ) Malta (17TH – 18TH)

    Prediction Outcome Semi Final #1:
    (in order of qualification chances, behind brackets possible placing)

    GREEN ) Israel (1ST – 2ND)
    GREEN ) Czech Republic (1ST – 3RD)
    GREEN ) Austria (2ND – 4TH)
    GREEN ) Estonia (3RD – 5TH)
    GREEN ) Belgium (4TH – 6TH)
    GREEN ) Greece (6TH – 8TH)
    GREEN ) Bulgaria (6TH – 8TH)
    GREEN ) Cyprus (6TH – 9TH)
    GREEN ) Armenia (7TH – 10TH)
    AMBER ) Lithuania (9TH – 11TH)
    AMBER ) Azerbaijan (9TH – 11TH)
    AMBER ) Albania (10TH – 12TH)
    AMBER ) Belarus (10TH – 13TH)
    RED ) Ireland (11TH – 15TH)
    RED ) Croatia (13TH – 17TH)
    RED ) Switzerland (15TH – 17TH)
    RED ) Finland (16TH – 18TH)
    RED ) Iceland (17TH – 19TH)
    RED ) F.Y.R.O. Macedonia (17TH – 19TH)

    First Indication Outcome Grand Final:
    (in order of TOP 10 chances, behind brackets possible placing)

    60% ) Spain (7TH – 13TH)
    55% ) France (9TH – 13TH)
    40% ) Germany (12TH – 16TH)
    35% ) United Kingdom (13TH – 18TH)
    25% ) Portugal (16TH – 22ND)
    10% ) Italy (18TH – 24TH)

    • meridian_child

      (you are on betfair, aren’t you?)

      If you think FYROM could be last in the semi, what odds do you want in order to bet on it?

      Also.. if you give Italy 10% for Top 10, why aren’t you laying Italy Top 10 or Top 15 like crazy?
      Would you be interested in a H2H between Spain and Italy? What odds do you want to have?

      • Tim B

        You can lay Spain to be the Top Big 5 on Betfair at 4.0 and lower. Great value.

        • John

          Are we sure about Spain? I mean I hate it, but it has a USP, is a rare duet this year, and lilts along quite nicely. With a good draw…

          Germany and France are arguably stronger, though UK and Italy are less likely to have broad appeal. If people compare Germany to Ed Sheeran and find it lacking, if France is this year’s overrated francophone entry, then suddenly Spain could sit at the top.

          • Chris Bellis

            I remember when I first saw it I thought it had something. Schmaltzy, yes, but it’s a nice tune and they sing it pretty well. Spain has submitted bad entries year after year, bit like us really, and last year’s was one of the most awful acts I’ve ever seen, and easy money to lay. I’m not so sure this year. I think it’s a good idea to go on the country’s form, but in this case I wonder. I watched the reality show where they won (I know, sad isn’t it) and they are a likeable couple. Yes, they are a bit like the snogging couple on the late night train, but that can be a positive. When I get the last train back on a Saturday night I’m just glad that someone isn’t sick over me or tries to force me to share their Lambrini in a spirit of being convivial. Snogging couples are the least of my late night worries. (This is the last train from Manchester – I know you’re not allowed to drink in London, but there’d be riots up here if they banned alcohol on the last trains – the guards just keep out of the way). I have a gut feeling that too many people like this song for it to come last. Anyway, I’m keeping my powder dry.

          • Chris Bellis

            Just to add, look at all the covers of Tu Cancion on youtube. The Frozen vibes mentioned by Daniel mean it’s very popular with more sentimental types. You have to judge whether it is too sickly for Eurovision. I’m thinking not at the moment

      • meridian_child

        Spain is my biggest red. Top 5, Top 10, Top 15, Big 5.
        I see so many people saying Italy will be bottom 5. So I thought a h2h could be interesting. If anyone likes, I could ask betfair for some h2h markets.

  • Jack

    Estonia is highly overrated (yet again). There is no real substance in the song and we have seen the act with projections on a dress before (hello Moldova and Azerbaijan). The public won’t vote for this song en masse and I doubt it will be on top of juries’ lists.
    How this song is second in the odds to win the whole contest is a mystery to me. I hope it does not qualify.

    • Chris Bellis

      It’s over-rated, but in the valley of the blind etc. She comes into the same class as those opera performers that enter BGT and X-Factor. Most people don’t listen to much opera, so after a diet of pop pap and talentless twerps it seems good. I posted some time ago a couple of clips, one of a proper diva and one of Elina. Elina’s not a bad singer, don’t get me wrong, but she’s not as good as an opera star. Hence Eurovision. Compare Rhydian, who openly admits he only went on X-Factor because he wasn’t quite good enough to make it to the top as a baritone – he’d always be in the chorus, never the star. Nothing wrong with that, good luck to them all, but something to bear in mind when placing bets. I estimate that it will qualify, and come around 6th in the final. Just like Urban Symphony in 2009, another classical style effort, but a better song.

      • Jack

        Thanks Chris 🙂 You make an excellent point. It’s hard for me to place myself in the position of a ‘stupid’ average viewer who has never seen an opera etc. I can understand that people can see Estonia as a quality entry this year compared to the sugarpop in the likes of pretty much a lot of the songs this year. But won’t they say ‘We have seen this act before?’ and mark it down? I can see the X-factor having more or less the same kinds of songs every year. Eurovision is more diverse. Pop, Rock, Ballad, Balkan, Ethno etc. Compared to these genres I just don’t see Popera scoring this high. But considering the fact that she is a fine singer, looks beautiful and sings in Italian there are thing in her favor. I am very curious to see what her final result will be.

        • Chris Bellis

          Yes, Jack, it’s the greatest difficulty. By now we are all steeped in it and it’s hard to remember what you first thought. When I first saw “La Forza” I was impressed. I did notice the vocals weren’t perfect, but as you say, she is still a fine singer and very beautiful. The song is not even popera though, it’s mock opera, without a rousing or memorable tune. Like you Jack I’ll be interested and ready to bet, depending on the rehearsals and the semi-final.

  • John

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had a go laying out my reaction early doors. I think Semi 1, though a bloodbath, might prove to be more ‘typical than semi 2. The favourites will prevail.

    Azerbaijan – was always going to open the semi – YES
    Iceland – nope – NO
    Albania – tough draw, shame really – MAYBE
    Belgium – is it on too early? – MAYBE
    Czech – if they’re on game then will get a first ‘banger’ boost – YES
    Lithuania – might seem dull wedged between these two – NO
    Israel – likely get a lift from following Lithuania – YES
    Belarus – filler between two hype entries, stole Albania’s spot IMO – NO
    Estonia – good draw for them, stands out – YES
    Bulgaria – also good draw, a standout end to the half – YES
    FYROM – bad draw, dumped in the mix, like Albania a shame – MAYBE
    Croatia – such filler – NO
    Austria – also kinda feels like a filler spot, but w/ good staging… – MAYBE
    Greece – if the last 3 are poor this could look classy – YES
    Finland – either looks trashy between classy, or fun between dirge – MAYBE
    Armenia – see Finland, might not know til the night – YES
    Switz – the yoyo draw continues, can’t say they don’t have a chance – NO
    Ireland – may seem like a dash of normal by this point – MAYBE
    Cyprus – like Belarus, don’t think the song deserves the plum draw – MAYBE

    Because the semis are half song, and half a brutal zero sum numbers game involving diaspora, juries and draw position, I always go with form and try and whittle away at false assumptions. First is that going on early is a big negative, since when the more fan-based viewers that populate the semi audience judge the songs, there’s a bit of Gestalt ‘well all in all who deserves to qualify?’ going on, or indeed, who needs a leg up over the wall? Conversely, does first-on mean a bonus, or is it just that strong up tempo songs get dumped on first because they will probably qualify anyway (and get a plum draw in the final, eh Christer)? I can see subtle plans for La Rybak already. Daniel’s point about song strength being key is a good reminder.

    So Azerbaijan goes through. Belgium are troubled by lack of voting strength but the judges could offset this, so add them too. Israel, benefit of the doubt, the favourite wants to win. Estonia looks good from here. Bulgaria too. The wisdom is that Greek diaspora gets patriotic when given a reason, this seems to fit the bill, and is jury friendly. Same goes for Armenia. So we have to find three more. Will we get an unlikely sixth song from the top? Swiss – I don’t feel it. Cyprus, with Hellenic help, it’s possible. Ireland, good draw, seems like welcome calm after some eccentricity, has the draw Lithuania wants. Austria and Croatia lack voting strength and are dumped in the mix.

    I dislike using the past to inform the future – who says 6 can’t make it from the front? I’m adding Albania from the first half, it’s jury friendly and his voice is A+. Finland may be fanw*nk but the UK viewers will help, and I think we forget how catchy the chorus is. I can’t really call the tenth spot, but for the sake of it I’m calling either FYROM on song strength or Ireland.

  • John

    Second semi is harder to predict for me, when there’s enough chaff you can’t tell the wheat until the staging emerges.

    Norway – call me reckless, but I have this as a Q – YES
    Romania – chances are bleak in this slot – NO
    Serbia – can’t see it making it through from here – NO
    San Marino – will need to knock it out of the park, but still. – NO
    Denmark – may look solid after three ‘?’ entries – MAYBE
    Russia – don’t think this is a bad draw for Russia actually – YES
    Moldova – first fun of the evening after the opener, sailing on – YES
    Netherlands – less giddy than Moldova but catchy enough – YES
    Australia – good run continues, does this trio bask in each others glow? – YES
    Georgia – seems a very sudden end to the fun, uhoh – NO
    Poland – he cannot sing live, but is a perkier 2nd half entry – MAYBE
    Malta – zero sum, dude, I don’t see it – NO
    Hungary – definitely stands out here – MAYBE
    Latvia – played this list to my brother, he said ‘oh dear, that’s TERRIBLE’ – NO
    Sweden – assisted by a plum draw, did you doubt it? – YES
    Montenegro – actually a good draw, good vocals too – MAYBE
    Slovenia – i think this is too offbeat and has no chorus – NO
    Ukraine – qualifying, and why not? – YES

    After all I said about Gestalt viewing, I also think that the early spots are something of a no-man’s land for songs that aren’t up to the task of standing out. So I think Romania through to San Marino are toast. Similarly, into the early second half and Georgia is dull, Malta generic and lacks votes, (even real ones, ha), and Latvia suffers from being amongst more interesting fare. So by process of elimination we have –

    Norway good to go. Denmark MOR enough to appeal and get some jury love for having a coherent message, even if it’s a plodding blahfest of rhyming and standing about awkwardly. Will Russians be feeling patriotic to get the phones out? I think Yulia will carry the day. If Moldova, Netherlands and Australia don’t qualify it will be a flipping scandal. The EBU know it. They have the plum spots for a reason IMO. So yeah, I’ve gone for six from the front again. Could this be the lopsided year to do it? I think so, I mean look at that second half.

    Sweden and Ukraine are the most automatic yesses I have ever seen, ever. Frankly, I think the draw helps Hungary and Montenegro into the final with a bit of jury love for meeting their USPs of hard rock and Balkan ballad respectively. Slovenia have sent entries a bit like Hvala Ne before (Straight Into Love) and tend to come a cropper if they’re being eccentric. Plus their wonky light show reminds me of ‘Draw the Line’ last year, which also flunked.

    If there’s an upset, and humans just can’t bear to ignore entries in the second half, then I think it will be Denmark, Moldova or the Dutch being replaced by Poland, which I wouldn’t be crazy about but it’s not impossible.

  • Chris Bellis

    Just a bit more on Spain. In this interview on Catalan TV the interviewer tries to ask Amaia and Alfred questions in Spanish, which Alfred answers in Catalan, which language Amaia says she doesn’t understand. The presenter is a bit embarassed by all this, as like most Catalans, he speaks both languages. Who said polticis shouldn’t come into Eurovision? I’m hoping they fall out big time, which would take the syrupy edge off the song. I don’t want it to go as far as Alfred being arrested as a Catalan independista. But it would certainly be entertaining. Alfred is Catalan by birth, even though his name isn’t particularly Catalan.
    The presenter’s hassle about which language to speak starts 4 minutes or so after the performance.

    • Hang on a second, you imply a bit of antaganism but it was just a bit of friendly ribbing because Alfred hasn’t taught any Catalan to Amaia. It’s a Catalan program but they mostly speak Spanish and always speak Spanish when they address Amaia. All very good natured and fun. (I think your idea comes from translating the first post below the video but even he says there’s no drama).

      I think they may split up sooner than later but they’ll definately remain lovebirds during, and for some time after, ESC. All eyes are on them.

      I feel sorry for them tonight with a delecate song that will surely be ruined by all the drunken rowdiness in the over-crowded Café de Paris.

      • Chris Bellis

        I wasn’t trying to make too much of it, but it interested me that Alfredo insisted on speaking in Catalan, which automatically excluded Amaia. Behind the apparent “friendly ribbing” there is really bitter conflict on the issue of independence for Catalunya. Although it’s not much in the news at this moment, protests are continuing every day in Barcelona. You’re right though, they have to remain as lovebirds until the end of the contest. Then they will split up and Alfredo will say it was because of Amaia’s fascist oppression.

        • Victor

          Chris, just to clarfy. His name is Alfred and not Alfredo. It is as if I called you Cristóbal (Chris in Spanish) 🙂

          • Chris Bellis

            Sorry – if you look at all my previous posts you will see I know his name is Alfred. My problem is I do know someone called Alfredo, and my predictive text slipped it in. By the way, when I lived in Spain they always called me “Cris”, among other things which I can’t repeat here. Just look up two posts, or search all my posts on the subject. I do hope things aren’t going to get nasty after one typo. I only post here because it’s a site pretty much free from nastiness and bullying. I think I’m going to give up posting here now. Goodbye.

  • Well Chris, I live and work in Barcelona, Spain and I tell you this: Ever since the Catalan independence referendum a box of Pandora has opened here in Spain. And itespecially saddens me how Spain is cracking down on the Catalans atm. It’s like good ol’ Franco-times again, including their twisted interpretation of democracy.

    In any case, you remark makes me wonder how inevitable politics is these days in Eurovision. We had Ukraine 2016 as winner, Russia being booed at the 2014 contest, and now we probably have to face Kremlin comments if Russia doesn’t qualify for the first time. Same thing with other political events that shape even TV Shows these days.

    So my question, to what extend could political events in Israel, Spain/Catalunya and Russia shape certain Eurovision outcomes? Could it be that Polish televoters will massively ‘boycot’ Russia?

    • The Nefeilibata

      The Poles have never liked Russia for obvious historical reasons, but according to a Polish friend of mine, relations have only gotten worse in recent years

  • Chris Bellis

    Hi SFW I too lived and worked in Barcelona and it’s always been a bit of a tinderbox. At least Franco had more sense than Rajoy, and in his latter days, took a more measured view. But the Franco days are well within living memory. I don’t know any Catalan speakers who are pro Spain, although I know a fair few non Catalans living in Catalunya who would wish the whole thing would go away. Amaia is from Pamplona, so they’ve already got more independence, being as how you couldn’t really ignore ETA. I don’t know whether she’s against independence for Catalunya or not, but Alfred is pro independence. You really can’t ignore politics in Eurovision, try as you might to bury your head in the sand. The world has changed.

  • Boki

    Can anyone who was in the venue last night confirm that everything was live? For example, Bulgaria sounded too perfect like there was a heavy backing track behind (almost to the point of miming)?

  • Showlad

    Bulagria had some backing vocals on their track.

  • Dan

    The girl wasn’t live. The high note at the end sounds exactly the same as the studio version.
    But the others are live – even though there were clearly some backing vocals.

  • Showlad

    Bulgaria soundcheck vocals stopped and some vocals still continued. Mainly live and some fab vocals but this is still 5 on stage that doesn’t work that well and the song is dull with no gears. Be lucky to be Top 10 in public. Will not win ESC. Though could do Top 3 pos with juries.

  • Dan

    I don’t agree at all. It’s definitely the country to watch out at the rehearsals. They could create something unique staging-wise.

    • ThomasR

      Look at Australias stating the past few years. They are not that great at it.

    • Showlad

      Bul staging could make it 3rd to 5th but the song is still not a winner.

      • eurovicious

        I suspect you’re both right. I don’t rule out a Bulgarian win but 2nd-5th is more likely if they pull amazing staging out of the bag, which I expect them to.

        • Showlad

          Female vocal is going to trouble Bul live and no backing track vox at Lisbon.

          • Dan

            There will be one female backing vocalist so I doubt it’ll be a problem.
            And they sound good without backing vocals. They’ll be fine. The staging concept is what matters now. It could make it or break it.
            Bulgaria has way more potential than Israel and Estonia in my eyes.

          • Showlad

            Are you on Bul big Dan 😀 If one of the line up – the female screetches like a cat – how is this not a problem? This could do very well with juries but won’t get enough public votes to win imho.

          • Melisandre

            She only has about 5 seconds of singing- her microphone will probably be switched off like it was in London. I’m not quite sure why she is in the group. She is like that random woman that was in the Scissor Sisters that didn’t actually contribute in any way.

          • Dan

            I’m not on anything at the moment. I just think that the vocals shouldn’t be the main concern in Bulgaria’s case. I doubt that the Bulgarian delegation would be dumb enough to accept someone who can’t sing live.

            She’s a big name in Bulgaria.

  • Mark

    Bulgaria is the great unknown… If it all clicks and they stage it as a cosmic death to life, darkness to light number, it has goosebumps potential. They may fall short and it ends 5th to 8th. But I see this as only serious threat to Netta.

  • Songfestivalwerk

    I think people are overreacting during all these fan concerts. Staging triumphs do happen, but in the end all this fan-stuff and übercrazy fan concert attendees is clouding our judgment of something very simple and basic: A good authentic unique song, that will be voted by judges and televoters alike.

    There are always exceptions off course. But if a song is too ‘niche’, too alternative or too dark, or too elaborate as a concept, then it could struggle. Even a well staged act needs to connect with audiences. And we saw that both Hans Pannecoucke (Netherlands 2015, Spain 2017) and Sacha-Jean Baptiste (Georgia 2017, Armenia 2017, Australia 2017) are only ‘elements’ of a total package. In the end Portugal won last year because it was a cr531#acking, original song that emoted perfectly. Same with Ukraine in 2016. And almost with Australia 2016 and Netherlands 2014. They all “goosebumped” Europe.

    Sorry to say it, but I don’t see it happening with Bulgaria. The reason that even betters act at times like the fanwanker-next-door, is because they overanalize, because they get drawn in by a Bulgarian promo-campaign that will get unnoticed by most (remember the individual Eurovision Promo Tours before fan concerts became the next best thing?) and because Bulgaria did a TOP 4 in the past two years (results from the past eventually are not a guarantee for present-day results).

    If you do want to compare, then you also need to be aware that every year is a different year. An Armenia 2017 and Azerbaijan 2017 could have performed differently with a different field of competitors. But my initial impression stays the same about Bulgaria: It’s too dark, way too convoluted, and lacks a more natural emotional resonance.

    Bulgaria will do well. Make no mistake. But keep your eyes closed sometimes and imagine how it will actually look like on the big Eurovision stage and how it could “touch” Europe’s emotions. Instead of overestimating a few aspects to hide an otherwise less sympathic, less authentic song.

    The songs this year that really do it for me are:
    – Australia (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Czech Republic (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Israel (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Netherlands (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)
    – Sweden (sympathic to all non-Eurovision minded human beings)

    Bulgaria is not one of them. Nice lower end of the left hand side of the scoreboard. But that’s about it.

    PS: Sorry for being a bit grumpy in my post hehe.

  • markovs

    Don’t see Bulgaria as a winner at all but in a year where all the top songs in the betting all have major doubts about them, it could still do a 2011.
    For me there is only style over substance and the song does not have enough about it or have any personal connection a la Portugal or Ukraine.
    I’m struggling this year as they all merge into one. Israel is way way overrated imo, the song itself is nothing special, she is annoying and the chicken sounds are annoying. But the package is memorable so could catch fire if the staging is spot on.

    Cannot see Czech Rep coming over well live, especially with CRs poor record and usually dodgy staging.

    Estonia is jury fodder but maybe too niche and I personally think it’s awful.

    Belgium is awesome but very Bond, slow starter, and feels like Conchita without a message.

    Sweden is cool and polished and a certain top 5 for me but has no heart and I think may struggle to get enough top marks to actually win.

    Norway is fun and the public may love it but doesn’t feel like a jury song so again will struggle to win.

    Australia feel like the best dark horse for me and could be the Azerbaijan of this year. Not one of my favourites but ticks all the boxes and likely to get consistent points from both public and juries. The possible winner by default?

    Netherlands us awesome and I think will get public support as has a big USP but will the juries score it high enough. I hope so as would be a decent winner for me in a middling year. And could chart across Europe.

    Don’t see France, Greece or Spain as realistic contenders and only Portugal of the long shots could surprise us imo. That is a beautiful song and if the change the staging and ditch the writer on stage, it could really connect.

    In short, I have no clue, lol, and if Netta fails, which is well possible, the door is open for a lot of songs.

  • No competition for Netta yet.

    We still have to see it live – in four days. People wondering about the jury – I don’t know why, it’s modern, original, she’s vocally sound, and Toy takes the competition to a new area. It may do better with the juries than the public, if it’s not 1st in both votes.

    Netta and her team themselves have the biggest potential to mess it up. Netta says there’s going to be surprises (although we probably won’t see them at Tel Aviv). I hope not too surprising.

    • M.

      Totally stretching it here. Don’t you hear the ‘stupid’/average lyrics, see the facepulling and most of all – a damn chicken?! I give you the original, but modern or chart-worthy, no way.

      Not saying it surely won’t be in top 3 jury, it can be ‘saved’ with a credible staging, but there’s so many red flags here you simply can’t ignore on the jury side of things

      • We’ll see. I’m sure it will chart all over the place after SF1 when it gets proper exposure. It trended all over the place when it came out, a lot more than Francesco last year who was mainly confined to Italian speaking regions (until it was aired in the final oc).

        All the oddities you mention as negatives I think are fantastic. On first hearing I do remember thinking WTF is this. Anyway if you want to appreciate the power of the tune without the oddities:
        But it needs Netta for the wham-bam in your face competition winner.

        • Victor

          I totally agree with you as I said a few days ago. She has no competition. Last Sunday I was in a club in Barcelona where the israeli DJ Sagi Kariv started his set with his remix of Toy and the crowd went mad. It will be a hit before the semifinal. After 24 songs is the only one everybody will remember and vote massively 😉 IMHO

        • Chris Bellis

          Nice video Henry. Also an excellent way to identify good melodies. Thanks to youtube you can find all these pseudo classical (and rock) covers of all the Eurovision contest songs. For me, that is one of the best. There are good covers also of the Bulgarian and Spanish songs. Some songs don’t need a cover, such as Portugal. If Portugal make some radical changes to the staging it would have a chance. They need to go back to the simple staging and presentation that won it for them last year.

        • M.

          I agree on going viral/trending on YouTube and social media. But I mean like actually listening to it, putting it in your playlist as a favourite song for actually listening, don’t see it happening in big numbers…

          Again, just talking on the jury aspect here. Really can’t see that you can’t have any doubts on this as better considering what’s on the table (weird faces, weird sounds, funny/mediocre rime-lyrics, chickens)

      • Showlad

        Toy is every bit this year’s chart worthy entry. Charismatic, clubby, unique. This will be huge – starting strong after Semi 1 and massive on the night of the final.

  • markovs

    Still don’t see it. Toy is generic and a bit annoying and a difficult first listen. It doesn’t feel clubby in its current mix. The big USP is Netta herself and not the song. That’s why staging makes or breaks this song. She will have to quickly draw in first time viewers / listeners or the chicken noises and oddness could have it dismissed quickly as typical Eurovision novelty song. The first 30 seconds is the worst and most annoying part of the song. The whole song itself is really nothing special and if performed by someone less magnetic would stand no chance. I’m still on a ‘lay’ eagerly awaiting the live performance.

  • Showlad

    Some feeling online Bul ‘team’ inflating odds and views of their song. Here’s one source re views

    • It’s great that Tellystats monitors such. That Bulgarian poster doesn’t say anything though (from that limited translation anyway). He’s just bringing it up in discussion but nobody on the forum responded to him.

  • Double Carpet

    There’s an indication by some commentators on this thread that the jury give a considered, wise and knowledgeable balance to the voting process, having spent time judging the technical merits of each song, its creativity, originality and performance. I am beginning to doubt this. I know anecdotally of some UK jury members who heard all the songs for the first time during the semi-final and final.

    Looking at the jury rankings from last year, there are some stark differences between the votes awarded in the semi and the final for the same song. For example, one juror had Portugal ranked 15th in the semi, so it wouldn’t even have qualified, yet in the final ranked the performance top. The juror had Sweden ranked 13th in its semi, which changed to 3rd by the final.

    This is not meant as an accusatory post of any of the jury, but more to flag up the necessity of the juries listening more than once to a large number of songs, otherwise we see wildly different outcomes for essentially the same performances separated by a few days. This does not reinforce an image of professional and considered decision making, more of impulse. Being one of only five on a jury with a 50% influence on a country’s awarded points is actually a big responsibility which surely warrants spending some time in advance listening to what you’ll be judging. Even if the juries were given a copy of the CD or the songs loaded onto their phones in the couple of weeks leading up to the contest and requested to listen whilst going about their daily business like the rest of us do, that would be an improvement, and would surely lead to more consistent voting and appreciation of song quality.

    • Burlington Bertie

      DC – in full agreement with you here. I’ve been ranting about this for some time and so your post is music to my ears, unlike the performance I’ve just heard of Russia at the preview party in Moscow. Ouch. Shall we contact Christer Bjorkman about the jury? He must be having a breather after the trauma of sorting out the running order. Failing that, those of us going to Lisbon could organise a Sofabet stampede. Any other suggestions?

    • Tips

      Double Carpet – these are wise words. Surely the whole point of having a jury is to help counterbalance the impulse driven on the night public vote – which, whilst perfectly acceptable (it’s a TV show after all) is too one sided and surely one of the reasons the juries were brought back! It needs to be taken seriously – and whilst I’m sure there are jurors who do just that – with such a small number as 5 per country, it needs careful selection and vetting!

  • Milton

    Once upon a time some countries decided to have a singing competition. Each country would scour the land and find their finest song writer and singer to write and perform a song. After everyone had sung the winner would be announced. The countries chose a man called Jon to organise it, but there was a problem.

    “Jon, how will we know who has the best song?”
    “Simple” he replied, “every country will provide a jury of worthy men and women and they will vote for the best song”
    “But why would they vote for the best song? Surely that would make it harder for their own country to win. Wouldn’t it be better for them to vote for the worst song?”
    “Perhaps” replied Jon, “but we have to trust every country to be honest and vote for the songs they believe to be the best, even if it could cost their country the chance of winning. Otherwise this contest will never work.”

    As the day approached the people were excited and some started to place bets on who they thought would win. Five countries emerged as the favourites, but one of them, Bulgaria, seemed to want to win more than any other. When the votes were revealed it seemed that Bulgaria’s jury may not have entered into the spirit of the contest as Jon had intended because they had awarded zero points to everyone else who appeared a threat to them winning.

    Despite this, Bulgaria didn’t win, so next year they resolved to try even harder. Most of the juries agreed that the new Bulgarian entry was one of the best, but nobody was surprised as Bulgaria had searched the whole world for their singers, whereas the other countries had selected one of their own fellow countrymen to represent them. The other juries realised this was allowed in the rules, but weren’t sure if they liked it.

    The day of the contest came and Jon reminded the juries that they should vote for the country who had the best song and singers.

    “But wait” thought some “Bulgaria didn’t vote for the best songs last year so why should we vote for them this year?” So even though the jurors secretly agreed that the Bulgarian song was excellent they awarded their top points to the other countries they liked and once again Bulgaria failed to win.

    The moral of this tale? Eurovision relies on mutual trust and goodwill. If you put selfish ambitions ahead of playing the game fairly, you can’t expect other countries to be fair with you.

    • What a great story. I felt like I was back in my childhood days. Nice work, Milton.

      • Milton

        Cheers Montell most kind! 🙂 It does feel to me like Bulgaria are trying to bulldoze their way to ESC success, and when you are relying on your fellow competitors to award you victory I don’t see how that works. Russia 2016 is the last obvious example of such an overtly ambitious country and the juries crucified them, when compared with the televote. I’ll be very surprised if the juries meekly go along with Bulgaria’s master plan this year, especially after last years blatant exercise in screwing the opposition.

        • Level Devil

          Ascribing rationality to a lot of juries is ignoring all the excellent points above though. Most seem to hear the songs for the first time on the night of the semi final. If Bulgaria capture the hype with a good “ground game” in Lisbon, I’m sure they’ll reward them sufficiently.

          • Double Carpet

            Milton, your post made me check Bulgaria’s jury vote from last year. Wow! How different was the jury opinion to the country’s televote? The jury awarded nothing to Portugal, Moldova, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Australia or Hungary, all top ten placed overall, and gave its douze point to Austria, to a song which, rather harshly some might say, didn’t attract any televotes from any of the 42 countries. Hmmm, I know people like different things but that certainly does appear tactical.

        • Milton

          Hi Double Carpet. Yes it’s quite shocking and above all it’s pretty stupid of them. If they had awarded Italy and Portugal eg 4 and 7 points, everyone would have been happy. The chances of those 7 points costing them victory were slim and in hindsight it would have made no difference at all. Now Bulgaria are left with a damaged reputation that only time can repair. It’s very hard for the EBU to do anything about this, but the juries may well send out a clear message that such cynical game playing doesn’t go unnoticed.

          • Chris Bellis

            I believe you’ve got a great story there. Worth writing up as an article in itself, but if you do, watch out for suspicious passers-by with poison tipped umbrellas.
            I go to Bulgaria quite often as I have a friend who lives there. The Prime Minister, macho though his image is, is fond of Eurovision and would very much like to win. Boyko Borisov makes Vladimir Putin or Artur Rasizade seem like amateurs in the gangster game. As well as being prime minister he runs a private security firm. Corruption is endemic in Bulgaria, just as it is in Russia and Azerbaijan. Take a look at him and make your mind up whether the voting was rigged. If you visit Bulgaria, don’t mess with him or his henchmen.

          • Milton

            Blimey Chris, perhaps that explains the juries’ voting. Imagine if Bulgaria had lost by a couple of points and you had been the juror whose votes had resulted in them losing. You might be a little nervous to say the least!

          • Sagand

            They would have looked less suspicious if they’d only not given points to their two closest competitors (like the Portuguese jury did).

  • Dan

    First live of Julia. Man, this is bad. Really bad. My ears are bleeding. This has to be the worst live performance I’ve ever seen in my life.
    That’s going to be tough for Russia. They’ll have to turn off her mic.

    Same thing for AZE

    • Jack

      Lord have mercy. I am shocked! I wonder how they save Julia 😛
      Azerbaijan was ok. She sings better than their entrant in 2016 and they managed back then.
      I wonder what will happen to Malta. I saw the Moscow performance and it has more impact than Azerbaijan. I hope Malta qualifies. I wish she looked more girl next door though.

    • John

      Aisel wasnt bad. Just a flubbed start.

      Yulia is stranger, Ive seen lives of her and she isnt bad like that. So either the song doesn’t suit her voice or it was an off day.

      Or Russian manoeuvres. Bit of doom hype ala Blanche and then knock out of the park when it counts perhaps.


  • Victor

    @Dan I agree with you on both. How horrible both of them, especially Russia, sorry but it is painful to look at her….

  • Chris Bellis

    “Chris, just to clarfy [sic]. His name is Alfred and not Alfredo. It is as if I called you Cristóbal (Chris in Spanish) ”
    That rates as the most patronising post I’ve ever read on this site, given that all my previous posts (one only two above) have the name right, that I have followed Operación Triunfo on Spanish TV, that I lived in Spain for years, that I speak fluent Spanish, that I taught Spanish in England for years, studied Spanish in Sevilla, and taught English as a foreign language in Barcelona. Nice one, Victor. That’s me done on this site. Good luck to all of you. I’ll miss the banter with most of the regulars.

    • Burlington Bertie

      CB – I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that I enjoy reading your posts which are varied, thoughtful and often highly amusing. Do you have to leave the site? Things are just starting to hot up in the approach to the contest. I couldn’t leave it now if I tried!

      • Chris Bellis

        BB Thanks for the support. I don’t like being patronised over a minor typo caused by my predictive text. It was obvious from umpteen other posts, one of them only one post above the post by Victor, that I knew the names of the Spanish contestants. I’ve been following them for months, as I like their song, hoping that they’ll make their act less sugary. However, that’s what does well in Spain – look at this:
        Unfortunately, the Spanish public likes this sort of stuff.
        I’ll go and simmer down over a glass of Ricard. Thanks again BB.

        • Burlington Bertie

          No problem. Hope you enjoy your glass of Ricard as much as I enjoyed wincing at that incredibly cheesy video from Spain. It makes Orville’s “I wish I could fly” look quite tasteful.

        • Showlad

          Enjoy your Ricard, Chris (glad I didn’t typo it by adding an ‘h’ now that really would have put the cat among the pigeons 😀 😀 Don’t let any comments get on your case. Best diginified reply is to utter none at all 😉

    • Victor

      @Chris my comment did not want to cause any harm (yours made fun of my typo just because I was typing too fast – my mother tongue is not English). I just don’t like when Spanish people translate Catalan names into Spanish ones just for the sake of it and to make fun of it. So if you have lived there you may be aware of this fact. If for such a harmless comment you make such a fuss, dude you have a problem. It’s me who will stop writing here. I have been reading this blog for years but I have just written a couple of comments and that’s about it. I prefer reading comments than writing. In any case, good luck to all of you on your bets 🙂 and let’s enjoy Lisbon the ones who will be there in a few weeks.

      • Showlad

        Victor and Chris can we turn this negative exchange into a positive learning experience please? It’s apparent and transparent that some of us (as the King rightly reflects on) don’t react well to poking fun at each other on posts because posts are one dimensional by their nature and any well intended ‘cheek’ or ‘irony’ can be lost on the other’s perception/translation on the receiving end. It does help a little cushioning too eg hypothetically ‘thanks for your take on Australia Bob, but imho, there’s more chase of a unicorn putting on the bacon rolls for me this morning than of it winning ESC 2018’.
        Peace 😉 We are blessed to be on a site hopefully making a tidy penny together debating on the songs in the run up to the Greatest Song competition on Earth. What’s not to love?
        Now why don’t you each post up one word ‘Truce’ and then let’s leave this behind – possibly better for it with a deeper understanding. Ye?

      • Chris Bellis

        I see we are on the same page on this one. I took offence because I have spent so much time in Spain and Catalunya, so have taken on some of the qualities of the regions ie quick to take offence. I was also somewhat invested in the Spanish duo doing well, and I had posted a lot about how they needed to tone it down, and they appear to have listened (only joking!) I hope, like the people of Spain and Catalunya, I can also offer an olive branch. Let’s not fall out over this. Me disculpo. Thanks to everyone else who has engaged on this spat – you’ve confirmed that sofabet is a friendly site where you can mouth off without being trolled. BTW Showlad, you need to become a Middle East peace envoy. This goes for Henry, markdowd and Milton too. They need diplomatic skills like yours.

        • Victor

          Thanks to everybody for your comments (a cool handshake to you Chris). I love this blog and I will continue reading it and from time to time I will post my thoughts (I am shy though and quite inexperienced in betting). Good vibes to all and can’t wait for Eurovision week. Enjoy the rest of this Sunday 🙂

          • Chris Bellis

            Hi Victor
            Glad we are cool about this. I should have spell checked my response as I of all people know the sensitivities of Catalan people about names. I made a post about the couple earlier, relating to the interview on Catalan TV, where he speaks in Catalan, and she doesn’t understand what he’s saying. I know the feeling. All the time I lived in Barcelona I never quite got Catalan, but I never met a Catalan speaker who didn’t speak Spanish, French and probably English as well. I imagine Alfred would have been irritated to hear himself called “Alfredo”. I do know someone called Alfredo, he is in my contact list, and my contacts program likes to second guess my words. So, sorry, lo siento, abrazos etc. Don’t leave the site!

  • I like reading posts from Chris and Victor and I’m sure you’ll both realise this is a nothing dispute and both continue posting.

    It’s just a problem of this unnatural non face to face communication. I sometimes think I appear cold, even offensive online. Arguments flare up all the time online which wouldn’t naturally, even by phone where you can at least hear the person, and snail mail needs much more time investment and therefore invites more care.

  • Endorsing Henry’s appeal for calm and common sense. We need witty and well-informed people on here, so please just have second thoughts before abandoning SOFABET (no sé si se puede decir “segundos pensamientos” pero cogéis la onda!)!!!

  • Showlad

    When’s your London post up Daniel? 😀 😀 Hope you spotted/reflect on much backing track help on the vocal side of some songs 😉

  • Milton

    Well said Henry and Mark, this is an excellent forum, lets not let daft misunderstandings stop people posting. If you have something to share Victor please do, we need contributors not lurkers.

  • markovs

    Just out of interest and certainly not from a betting perspective, what’s the opinion of Slovenia on here. First listen I hated it, never good for a competition song, but having watched it a few times now it’s one of my personal favourites. It just seems to work……………….I’ll get me coat……

  • That performance by Yulia. My ears are bleeding. From being used as a pawn in RusGov’s sick games to this… If this qualifies fuck me you’ll be able to hear the booing from the Altice Arena in Moscow without needing a telly.

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