Now we have the running order for the two semi-finals, the Eurovision world is going to take some time to pour over the schedule for a good six weeks, trying to work out who has been helped, and who has been hindered – and then we’ll do it all again in just forty hours when the Grand Final running order is announced at 3am on Friday 17th May, but that’s for later.
Keeping that in mind, we here at ESC Insight can already spot some broadcasters that will be very happy with where they are, and others will be wondering if their Ryanair flight can be switched to get an early flight home and save some money on the hotel bill. Let’s have a look at some winners and losers in the semi final running order.
Everyone knows that nobody wins from second place. But this isn’t the Grand Final on the Saturday night, it’s the second Semi Final on Thursday night. All you need to do is get into the Top Ten. Short of opening up the show, if you are in the top half of the draw statistically you want to be singing second. The drop off in success after the first two spots on the order is rather dramatic. Frankly, this is San Marino’s best shot of qualifying for the Saturday night since their return to Eurovision.
Or perhaps that should be the viewing public? Yes, Romania have the traditional ‘pimp’ slot of closing the Contest. It’s not always a guarantee of qualification (as The Toppers found out in 2009), but with a challenging falsetto this gives Romania a chance to maintain their 100% qualification record. At the same time, nobody is going to tune out half way through the second semi final because of Cezar’s surprising performance. If the producer led construction of the running order was partly to help viewing figures, then here’s where it will have a positive impact.
SVT have been kind to G:Son’s schlager powered Georgian entry. Three songs from the end of the second semi-final, with a song that can be described as ‘what Europe thinks Eurovision should be about’, and half of the GDP of Georgia being spent on pyro should see the Caucas country through to Saturday night.
To be honest there were not many choices SVT could suggest to open up Eurovision, and it was going to be either Austria or Denmark (perhaps an outside bet of Slovenia). Natalia Kelly’s voice is great on the studio version of ‘Shine’ but was a touch weak in the National Final. Opening the Contest should allow the audiences to forgive any minor issues, and by the time the voting lines open only the power of the song will remain. ORF probably are the biggest winners of the whole running order.
Denmark is a mid to fast tempo ethnic pop song. Russia is a mid tempo power ballad. Ukraine is a mid to fast temp West End musical number. And then you have ‘Birds’. History suggests that the majority of qualifiers in a semi-final will come from the bottom half of the running order. After a good ten minutes of uplifting music, The Netherlands is going to stick out like a poster of The Cure in the Smash Hits Rick Astley special. They only need to finish tenth to qualify… it’s going to be close.
On paper this should be a year for Ireland to qualify easily, but they’re following a rather challenging song from Moldova, with the silky smooth vocals of Cyprus following them. Conventional wisdom is that Ireland will stand out here, but up on how people choose songs to vote for, I’m not so sure. The changes between the three are quite jarring, and I wouldn’t rate Ireland at more than a 50/50 shot right now.
In a similar situation to Ireland in semi final 2 is Malta. Frankly anything coming after Finland’s manic ball of energy this year is going to look rather plain, and that might be Gianluca’s only hope, because his simple song about Jeremy in IT is not going to be powerful enough to stand out after Krista Siegfrids.
Actually I’m not sure how Armenia would have managed to get into the Winners sections this year. Israel before it is lyrically wonderful, and Hungary afterwards has an incredible male singing voice. All Armenia have is a very tenuous connection to Black Sabbath, and even then composer Tony Iommi is pretty sure everyone is going to slag the song off (even though he’s rather proud of it).