The results from the first semi final turned out to be predictably unpredictable, and I’m happy enough to have correctly tipped 7/10 of the eventual finalists – I had Finland, Macedonia and Denmark in over Armenia, Hungary and Romania. If anything, tonight’s second semi is even tougher to call – let’s see if I manage to do any better.
Lithuania | Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila – This Time
I’m still not in love with the stage show for this entry – which feels too big for what is essentially a sweet and intimate little duet. That said, it’s a high-energy opener that shouldn’t repulse the juries in the way I suspect Moldova did, and even during their off-years Lithuania are usually at least close to the line. This should have no trouble hitting the top ten tonight.
Ireland | Molly Sterling – Playing With Numbers
A lovely staging briefly raised hopes for this simple but emotional ballad, but Molly seemed nervous and possibly unwell during her jury rehearsal. I suspect she’d have needed those votes to have any chance at qualifying, as the public are likely to have long forgotten it by the end of the show. Sadly, we’re looking at another year of disappointment for Ireland.
San Marino | Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini – Chain of Lights
It’s impossible not to root for San Marino at least a little bit, especially after their against-the-odds qualification last year. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is easily the weakest song in this semi final, and nothing about the performance elevates it enough to compensate for the ropey source material. A big shame, but San Marino really need to seek alternative songwriters at this point.
Montenegro | Knez – Adio
Following a pair of low-impact performances, this moody Balkan ballad is excellently positioned to bring a touch of class to proceedings. Knez is nailing the vocal every single time, the staging is moody and atmospheric, and the backing vocalists are working in perfect synch. Everything about this translates well, and Montenegro should be confident of a second consecutive year in the big show.
Malta | Amber – Warrior
I’ve been back and forth on Malta’s chances all week. On the plus side I love the song and the staging is striking and powerful. However, I just don’t think it’s distinctive enough to stand out from such an early draw, especially with a real vote-split possibility with Switzerland’s similar effort. Throw in a slightly shrill performance in the jury finals, and it’s looking like a heartbreaker for Amber tonight.
Norway | Mørland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me
The Norwegian entry is rapidly becoming the big unknown quantity of this year. The song is a huge favourite with many of the fans and journalists here, and the performance looks good on camera. The question now is not whether viewers at home will ‘get’ this distinctive entry, but whether enough of them will respond to it for it to become a serious contender for victory. One thing seems assured, they’re sailing through tonight.
Portugal | Leonor Andrade – Há um mar que nos separa
If there’s a completely out-of-the-blue qualifier tonight, I wouldn’t totally discount the possibility that it’ll be Portugal. She’s a very strong performer, it looks great on stage and the song translates much better live than on record. Ultimately though, I feel the song is just going to be too forgettable to rack up a significant televote.
Czech Republic | Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta – Hope Never Dies
As personalities, there’s no act this year I’d be more thrilled to see in the finals than the Czech duo. They’re really giving their all to this performance, with seriously impressive vocals and fantastic chemistry. Musically they’re right on the bubble, but I fear a lack of friends and an abundance of duets in this semi could put paid to their chances.
Israel | Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy
Israel have had a rough few years, but they’ve been handed an absolute gift with this slot in the running order. After a long string of ballads the audience at home will be hungry for an uptempo, and this silly, energetic party anthem should be rapturously received. The performance is high-powered, lively and packed with charm. Unless the juries hate it, this could go far.
Latvia | Aminata – Love Injected
The Latvian’s should also benefit strongly from the running order, bringing the energy right down after Israel with an intimate and powerful performance. There’s a slight risk that it’ll come across as too cold for the public, but her vocals should be absolute catnip for the juries and I can’t imagine this finishing lower than tenth overall.
Azerbaijan | Elnur Hüseynov – Hour of the Wolf
A pre-contest favourite that’s lost a lot of momentum, Azerbaijan haven’t made any major mistakes here, but the American Werewolf in Baku styled performance doesn’t really elevate the song, and the vocals are a bit much to take. A safe qualifier here, but possibly a second year outside the top ten on Saturday.
Iceland | María Ólafs – Unbroken
I’ve made no secret of my love for this sweet slice of Disney pop, and I really thought Iceland could be gunning for the top ten again. She’s really been struggling with the vocals though, and the stage performance isn’t making as much impact as it should be. Sweden are going to blow this out of the water, and I’m not sure the Frozen-age demographic are going to be voting tonight. I’m afraid to say I can easily see Maria being edged out of the finals.
Sweden | Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes
An absolute no-brainer.
Switzerland | Mélanie René – Time to Shine
Mélanie has a major mountain to climb in order to make any impact whatsoever after Sweden. She’s been selling the song to the best of her ability, but ultimately the material just isn’t strong enough. Another possible jury save on the strength of her vocals, but this feel very much like filler.
Cyprus | John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done
Two words – Tom Dice.
Slovenia | Maraaya – Here For You
The Slovenes have fielded one of the most modern, radio-friendly entries of this year and their performance is among the slickest in the semi. I still have some issues with the headphones, but this is the last big pop moment of the semi and it should be very well received.
Poland | Monika Kuszyńska – In The Name of Love
If we were just talking about the song, this soporific ballad would likely be looking at an early exit. However, Monica’s stage show is immensely moving, with a beautiful, elegant backdrop and images of her life before her accident that really communicate the story behind the song without coming across as overly heavy-handed. An early draw and it could have been forgotten, but everything is in place here for a second Polish qualification.