It’s true what they say… the more you know the less you know. In that spirit, we are trying out an experiment this year. Jen is making her predictions based on evidence and logic. Chris is making his predictions by pulling flags out of a hat. Let’s see which of us does better!
There are sixteen songs in this semifinal, and ten will qualify. Jen can identify 7 qualifiers pretty easily and is pretty sure 3 are not qualifying, which leaves a difficult choice among the remaining 6 for the other spots. Chris, on the other hand, has no problem identifying which songs would qualify. Because, as mentioned, he pulled 10 flags out of a hat.
Austria: Natália Kelly – “Shine”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. Natalia gives great face, and the song is contemporary. A personal favorite. However, Austria suffers from a lack of voting partners in this semi, and the song, while pleasant, doesn’t immediately grab the viewer. Going first, I’m not sure she’ll make a lasting impression. A lot of power is loaded in the front half of this semi, but history shows us that typically only 4-5 songs tend to qualify from the front half of the draw. At least one deserving song in the first half is probably going to get left behind — it could be Austria. I hope I’m wrong.
Chris says: NQ. I have been to the Almdudler House. You’re jealous.
Estonia: Birgit Õigemeel – “Et uus saaks alguse”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. Birgit is a skilled singer and good on camera. The song is a country ballad, likely to secure jury support. I estimated that Estonia might get decent points from as many as 9 countries in this semi. Problem is, the song is boring. Her dress, which is basically a shower curtain draped around her boobs, is like pregnancy fashion from someone who has never designed clothes for pregnant women before. When in doubt, the edge goes to the good singer with the ballad.
Chris says: Q. Winny Puhh, Winny Puhh, tubby little rock band all covered with fluff…
Slovenia: Hannah Mancini – “Straight into love”
Jen says: NQ. Hannah has a problem with her tuning. While belting the refrain, Hannah’s pitch regularly goes sharp. You can hear it in the recorded track, and she hasn’t fixed it in rehearsals. Add to it, the tutting choreography looks goofy. It all feels like they are trying too hard. Not a fan.
Chris says: Q. We really missed Klemen Slakonja this year.
Croatia: Klapa s Mora – “Mizerja”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. The vocal arrangement is pleasant, and as the only male entry in the first half of the semi, they contrast with what comes before and after. However, a traditional klapa song is unlikely to draw support from Western Europe no matter how well it is performed.
Chris says: NQ. Zagreb is quite possibly the coolest name for a city ever. Although Bloemfontein is right up there.
Denmark: Emmelie de Forest – “Only Teardrops”
Jen says: Q. The front runner will sail through. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the Danes haven’t tried to fix a thing. The staging is largely unchanged from the Danish MGP.
Chris says: Q. Don’t tell Sweden, but we’re serving our guests Danish aquavit at our Eurovision party.
Russia: Dina Garipova – “What if”
Jen says: Q. Native English speakers may be put off by the lyrics and the cheesy sentiment, but that’s not a barrier for a lot of other countries who will respond to the song’s sweeping melody and Dina’s strong vocal ability.
Chris says: Q. The thing about Russia is it’s very big.
Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich – “Gravity”
Jen says: Q. Zlata is gorgeous and a solid singer, and the song is a good vehicle for her. Ukraine has camped it up with the Big Friendly Giant carrying her in at the opening. Whether it ultimately helps or hurts remains to be seen, but it won’t be a liability at this stage.
Chris says: NQ. Good ol’ Ukraine, givin’ ’em the old razzle dazzle.
Netherlands: Anouk – “Birds”
Jen says: Q. No gimmicks here. Netherlands’ song is not easy, but it is immediate without pandering to the audience. A big contrast with Ukraine, which may work in its favor. I also believe that juries will recognize, and reward, the quality of this song.
Chris says: NQ. Can I start a rumor that this song is about Tippi Hedren’s relationship with Alfred Hitchcock?
Montenegro: Who See – “Igranka”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. With over-the-top astronaut outfits and flawless vocals, Montenegro’s prospects have greatly improved during rehearsal week. Hip hop has historically disappointed at Eurovision, but it only takes one to buck the trend. It’ll get points from its Balkan neighbors and maybe even some cheese-loving Brits, but not sure there will be enough jury support to see it through.
Chris says: Q. “Igranka” is the first Eurovision entry to contain a recipe, if The Diggilo Thrush has translated “Gradele, česan, petrusin, riba, danu svega da se pokidam” correctly.
Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis – “Something”
Jen says: NQ. Said it before, will say it again. Andrius is a charisma black hole. He’s not going qualify simply because he sounds like The Killers.
Chris says: NQ. Lithuania is the Italy of the Baltics.
Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya – “Solayoh”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. Alyona’s prospects have fallen during rehearsal week, and I haven’t identified a lot of countries that are likely to give Belarus the big points, but I don’t know… I think she’s might get it done. The huge disco ball and choreography is akin to what Emmy (Armenia 2011) did when she failed to qualify. But in 2011, Emmy suffered from massive pitch problems due to a wonky audio, and even with the technical issues she only missed the cut by 1 point. There’s no reason to think that Alyona will have Emmy’s pitch issues, and the upside down cha-cha clap is truly inspired. And again, with history telling us that 5-6 songs from the 2nd half will probably qualify, a weaker song from the second half will probably make it in.
Chris says: Q. I was disappointed to learn that Minsk, Pinsk, Dzerzhinsk, and Verkhnjadzvinsk are the only cities in Belarus that end in -insk.
Moldova: Aliona Moon – “O mie”
Jen says: Q. I had her in the Q column before the rehearsals began. Since the national finals, Moldova has elevated the performance value (literally), removed the horrific English lyrics, and Aliona’s vocals have improved.
Chris says: Q. Can Pasha Parfeny be the Stefan Raab of Moldova please?
Ireland: Ryan Dolan – “Only Love Survives”
Jen says: Q. Ireland has proved to be a divisive entry among the fans. I maintain the song is radio-friendly, and vocally Ryan is solid. Ireland will probably attract more support from fans than juries. The staging seems busy, but I don’t see that as a liability for his qualification prospects.
Chris says: Q. This is totally going to be the year we get into the Rose of Tralee Festival.
Cyprus: Despina Olympiou – “An me thimase”
Jen says: NQ. When we go back to watch previous contests, there’s always one song in the semis that we forget was there, even though we ‘ve seen the old shows dozens of times now. In years to come, when we go back and re-watch this contest, Cyprus will be that song.
Chris says: Q. Contrary to popular belief in the United States, the national anthem of Cyprus is not “Hits From the Bong.”
Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa – “Love kills”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. In many ways, this song for me is in the same boat as Austria. A likable radio-friendly song in the adult contemporary genre, competant vocals, another personal favorite, but the country has historically few voting allies and I have doubts about the “so what” factor. I think Belgium has the edge because of the late draw, and, I hate to say it, because he’s a guy in a female-heavy semi.
Chris says: Q. A former co-worker of mine once spent the night at a train station in Bruges.
Serbia: Moje 3 – “Ljubav je svuda”
Jen says: Q. Pure trash, and the Serbian organizers have managed to make it worse by putting the 3 gals in ridiculous layered dresses with heart cutouts. But the song is annoyingly catchy, they have the pimp slot, and four Balkan countries are voting in this semi. Odds are they’ll make it in.
Chris says: NQ. Not only do people in Belgrade speak English really well, they’d also prefer that you don’t try to speak Serbian. Well, they prefer that I don’t try to speak Serbian, anyway.