Fortunes can be made and lost depending on placement. Last year’s final was a perfect example. Azerbaijan suffered by going first, and Albania and Iceland undermined each other by going back-to-back. You’ve read our opinions about this year’s songs, now see if we think the calculus of Eurovision success will change depending on their placement in the competition. In the next few days, we’ll be doing some analysis of the draw. We start with the first Semi-Final.
Russia. The first Semi-Final starts strong and ends okay. In the middle, there is a glut of mediocre and/or downtempo songs, starting with Switzerland and ending with San Marino, that will feel endless. Russia will stick with you because it’s the last decent song you hear for a long time.
Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has a good track record of qualifying, and this years Azeri entry is receiving positive word of mouth. Our read is that it’s okay but not great, and we still aren’t confident about Ell & Nikki live. “Running Scared” was probably going to make it out anyway, but odds of success increased considerably when it drew the pimp slot, #18 of #19.
Greece. People often overestimate the benefits of going last at Eurovision. Often times the late slots benefit, while last place suffers. But Greece will probably have Cyprus’ neighborly 12 points, and it will follow two ballads with what will probably be a highly choreographed number. They’re on the qualifying bubble this year, but the winds seem to be blowing in their favor.
Poland. Poland was lucky enough to draw the wildcard (which meant they could pick anywhere they wanted in the top half of the draw), and they chose to go first. Let me repeat that. They chose to go first. In so doing, they have 1) selected a position that is difficult to qualify from, and 2) wound up in a draw where 5 of the next 6–and possibly all 6 of the next 6–countries that follow them will probably qualify. There is a reason we named them a hopeless country.
Norway. Stella Mwangi is a front runner, but going 2nd is never easy. Stella has a girly vocal, and she’s got the bad luck to be followed by Aurela Gace from Albania, who is one this year’s biggest divas and will vocally blow her out of the water. Stella will qualify, but I doubt she wins the night.
Croatia. Croatia’s stock has been falling with each subsequent rewrite, and their draw isn’t going to help. Daria Kinzer wakes us up after the bad middle stretch, but the good will is quickly lost because Kati Wolf from Hungary will upstage her 2 songs later with another up tempo, slightly ’80s-inspired, disco entry. Unfortunately for Croatia, the Hungarian entry is a better song with a better vocalist, and the Croatian entry will pale by direct comparison.