A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Semi 1: these are my ten qualifiers

I don't really know why this is, but every year when you are supposed to predict the results you get hit by a surreal feeling of seriousness. But its just a game, isn't it? My guess is as good as yours, et cetera?

Well, there is still some sort of pressure. I wouldn't want to stand there with only four correct countries in the end when everyone else predicted everything right.

So here are tonight's contenders and my final prediction as to who will make it and who won't.

1. AUSTRIA Shine / Natália Kelly
I always thought this would be a very good opening number for the semi final. Perhaps it still is, but it comes at the cost of being eclipsed by everything that comes after it. The song is pleasant and Natália does nothing wrong, but the audience is highly unlikely of remembering this particularly well when the phone lines open.
Qualifier: No.

2. ESTONIA Et uus saaks alguse / Birgit Õigemeel
If this ballad and the Cypriot ballad could swap places in the running order, there would be no doubt in my mind that Birgit and Estonia would make it. This is elegant, sober and very well performed. Not to mention my favourite ballad in this semi. I want to believe in this.
Qualifier: Yes

3. SLOVENIA Straight Into Love / Hannah
Modern, slick and club friendly - but for some reason these qualities seem to matter very little when people cast their votes. Even if Hannah hits all the notes correctly, this is not the kind of song that usually breaks through and a qualification would be a great surprise.
Qualifier: No

4. CROATIA Mižerija / Klapa s mora
Many will find this dull and old-fashioned but a large section of the audience will also hear competent singing and a competent melody line. I'm pretty convinced that quite a few jury members will belong to that latter category.
Qualifier: Yes

5. DENMARK Only Teardrops / Emmelie de Forest
Will the biggest pre-contest make it through the semi? Of course it will. Denmark missing out at this early stage would be more drama than anyone could handle on a Tuesday night.
Qualifier: Yes

6. RUSSIA What If / Dina Garipova
A clean and plesant melody line, a good vocalist and tons of cheese in the lyrical department. Quite far from being one of my personal favourites, qualification is still pretty inevitable.
Qualifier: Yes

7. UKRAINE Gravity / Zlata Ognevich
All this talk of Zlata being carried by a giant and possibly overacting her performance in rehearsals made me worry a bit at first, but there is enough of brilliance and elegance in this song to make it sail safely into the final either way.
Qualifier: Yes

8. NETHERLANDS Birds / Anouk
Suddenly people started having doubts, thinking that the Dutch curse will continue and that Anouk will fail. That is not going to happen. This is the first really good and credible Dutch entry for more than ten years, it will get rewarded for that.
Qualifier: Yes

9. MONTENEGRO Igranka / Who See feat Nina Žižić
One week ago I predicted these party bunnies in the final but I think I changed my mind again. This is a big hit in several ex-yugoslav countries, but even if they shower them in points it won't be enough unless everyone else also fall for this. I would not mind if they did, but I don't see it happening.
Qualifier: No

10. LITHUANIA Something / Andrius Pojavis
I thought I would like this more when I just heard it and didn't have to see the confusing preview presentation. It didn't help, it just showed me how underproduced it is. How little bite or attitude there is. Lithuania surprised me by qualifying in 2011 and 2012. I don't think they will surprise me this time.
Qualifier: No

11. BELARUS Solayoh / Alyona Lanskaya
The more I hear this one, the more I think it sounds like a jingle from an ice cream commercial more than a pop hit. And I can't shake the feeling that it even leaves poor Alyona cold. I still can't see who would vote for this, especially not if they happen to sit in a jury room.
Qualifier: No

12. MOLDOVA O mie / Aliona Moon
I wasn't too sure about this ballad at first, but it kept growing and growing. Just like Aliona's dress is going to tonight. A good performance that also stays in the visual memory is never a bad idea in this contest, a trick that Moldova has mastered well in recent years.
Qualifier: Yes

13. IRELAND Only Love Survives / Ryan Dolan
The first uptempo song that is modern, dance-friendly as well as user-friendly and easily accessible, performed by a fresh and likeable young man accompanied by a healthy amount of drumming and dance beats. The Irish should have nothing to worry about.
Qualifier: Yes

14. CYPRUS An me thimase / Despina Olympiou
Elegance, temper and talent can take a weak song quite a long way. The televoting masses have short memory and in an unfair world Cyprus could win precious ballad votes and take Estonia's place in the final. If so, I promise to be happy for Despina, but her song doesn't quite deserve it.
Qualifier: No

15. BELGIUM Love Kills / Roberto Bellarosa
This is one of my biggest favourites in this semi final but it seems my sentiments are not mirrored by the people predicting the outcome in Malmö. I don't care - I think this chorus and Roberto's nervous intensity will break through to enough people.
Qualifier: Yes

16. SERBIA Ljubav je svuda / Moje 3
The Serbian trio rip and tear their little song to bits and the little hooks and ideas scattered around the chorus get a bit lost in this shoutfest. And yet I think this will make the final cut by looking and sounding familiar enough in combination with being the last country in the presentation. I would prefer Montenegro or Slovenia in the final, but I don't think I will have my way.
Qualifier: Yes

So these are my ten qualifiers tonight: Estonia, Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Ireland, Belgium, Serbia.

If I get eight songs right, I will be content. Nine and I will be happy - unless the one I'm wrong about is Anouk. Ten right and I will celebrate until the second semi.

What do you think, folks?

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