A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tobson takes a guess: Semi 1

It is that time of year again when everyone inside or outside the ESC bubble is expected to take an educated guess how the semi finals is going to end. Personally, for the first time in years, I am shocked at how fast the semi finals arrived. Is it already happening? Already tonight?

For me, this is a strong semi and a strong year - it was a long time since I felt so personally touched by as many entries as now. That does not mean they will all make it to the final and this first semi is particularly tricky in that respect. Where do my predictions end and where does my wishful thinking start?

Some countries would deserve to stay in the semi but are likely to manipulate their way into the top ten anyway (Hello, Azerbaijan). Some countries make me feel nothing but since everyone else thinks highly of them, they should be sure qualifiers (Hello, Austria). And some songs I thought dead sure two weeks ago suddenly seem wobbly (Hello Belgium and Greece).

But here goes. These are the nine countries I think will leave us tonight, in no particular order.

The obvious non-qualifier. Young Ari is sweet and easy to like but this song would have felt sleepy already in a 1995 national final. His victory tonight would be to sing the best he can in order to get a top produced business card in the shape of a well executed ESC appearance.

Where Ukraine for instance learned how to take weak material and turn them into gold, Belarus are masters at taking decent components and ruin their chances.

Not a bad song and for once the visual presentation seems not to be a shambles but this song is too complicated. Your average listener would need five listens and a Power Point presentation before this opens up.

I wish this wouldn’t be the case - Croatia would have potential to win on any given day but consistently fail to deliver. This is classy and Franka is good but the song just isn’t enough to break through.

This has grown into a bit of a favourite with many people on location but rock in Albanian is yet to go down a storm in european living rooms on a Tuesday night.

The best Swiss entry in many a good day but what is the gap this song would fill? What will people find here that they secretly yearned for all these years? Could go close but hardly all the way.

The one where I really hope I am wrong. I would throw out quite a few songs in order to get this through to the final. This over Azerbaijan on any given day but I fear it is too delicate, too whispered and too fragile to be noticed so early in the running order. Its only hope is unconditional love from the juries, enough so to make up for the probable lack of televote support.

We all though we longed for a more genuine entry from Greece. We did but will this be enough? It is beautiful and atmospheric but lacks any sort of punch. Had this been the Cypriot entry I would not have doubted its non-qualification for a second but the almost immaculate record of Greece easily blurs your vision.

There will be at least one surprise non qualifier tonight. It could be Finland. It could be Estonia. I suspect neither one has the universal support fans have assumed. But I will go with my gut feeling here and I can’t shake the feeling this song got the opening slot in an attempt to bury it a bit. Everybody’s bound to fail sometime, even Azerbaijan. This time around they would deserve it.

According to this prediction, tonight’s qualifiers will be (in order of appearance): Belgium, Czech republic, Israel, Estonia, Bulgaria, Austria, Finland, Armenia, Ireland and Cyprus. I will hang on Twitter all evening, feel free to communicate with me there!

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