Semifinal One: Predictions, Hopes, and Fears

It’s hard to believe that the First Semifinal is upon us.  After a week and a half of rehearsals, press conferences, interviews, partying, PR plugging, and promotional performances, the moment has arrived.  After tonight, eight delegations will be researching their early flights back home from Heydar Aliev International Airport.  I’ve had the chance to observe a trio of Dress Rehearsals (once from the Press Centre, and twice in the Crystal Hall itself), and here are my personal expectations and favorites for tonight’s festivities:

Following tonight’s running order, my prediction of tonight’s results are:

  • Iceland
  • Greece
  • Romania
  • Israel
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Russia
  • Hungary
  • Moldova
  • Ireland

…Leaving Montenegro, Latvia, Albania, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, San Marino, and Austria in the dust, left to languish in the annals of Eurovision history.

As for my personal hopes, I’d love to see the following entries pass into the Final…

  • Iceland
  • Albania
  • Romania
  • Finland
  • Israel
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Hungary
  • Moldova
  • Ireland

…With the Swiss as an Honorable Mention.

And, for the record, if either San Marino or Latvia make it through to the Final, I might have to eat my own head, and if Montenegro passes to the Final, I might die of laughter as the fan-boys surrounding me fall into paroxysms of insanity.  Needless to say, stay tuned!

(For those of you who have been missing my Eurovision coverage, I haven’t fallen off of the face of the Earth!  Be sure to check out my associate site, ESCInsight.com, for our podcasts, interviews, and other special features from Baku!)

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Posted on May 22, '12, in 2012, Special Comment. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I reckon it will be:
    Iceland
    Greece
    Albania
    Romania
    Israel
    Cyprus
    Denmark
    Russia
    Austria
    Ireland

    – but seen as though you’ve actually been watching the rehearsals, you’ll probably be closer to the truth! 😛

    My personal top 10 are:
    Albania
    Romania
    Russia
    Finland
    Cyprus
    Greece
    Latvia
    Hungary
    Iceland
    Belgium

    ^ even more unlikely 😦

  2. Knowing that ESC will be over for 8 artists in only a few hours makes me feel a bit sad. In fact, it is always the worst moment during ESC holiday …

    Good luck to everyone … in particular to Albania, Iceland and Israel.

  3. That was some straight-up bullshit we were served tonight. Where to start?

    The sound for Cyprus was utterly horrible. She sounded like a man! Better fix that.

    I sent in one vote for Greece just because I thought it might be my last chance to show support for Greece. Should I regret it?

    I never quite realized how terrible Russia’s song was until now, to be quite honest. They really should not have been in the Final. I do not care about the act if they have no song to back it up. This is just the kind of thing that gives Eurovision a bad name. Shameful.

    Am I biased when I say Finland should have been in? Maybe slightly, but really, our song was so much better this year than last year. With a great performance and Niskanen piece to back it up! Too bad I could not vote for it. And a shame this is not in the final. A shame for the song, and a shame Niskanen’s dress does not get another international test-drive. It’s what happens when people have no taste. How else to say it?

    (Found this myself, after all: http://areena.yle.fi/tv/1550817)

    And a “last Golden ticket” for who? Exactly! Subtle marketing strategy, I see. Whoever devised it should be embarrassed. Who can have any respect for Jedward after seeing that?

    Well, I am happy for Albania, at least. Philosophical question related to Albania:

    Rona wore a truly ugly dress, but does that mean she was badly dressed? It was the kind of ugliness that moved, well, me, anyway, which was perhaps important for the performance. To move you. If a dress change is in the order, that would please me greatly, since once was enough for me, to be honest.

    So much for it being my birthday, today. Now I am already frightened for the future after one semi-final.

    • Lol Stefanos. I do definitely think that Finland should have gone through instead of Russia. I cannot believe Russia made it and it truly is a travesty. I was just happy that my top three made it to the final: Hungary, Denmark, and Iceland. So so happy Iceland made it. I also think that Israel should have made it. But, oh well… What can you do?

  4. Stefanos and Jack Buck — you do realise Russia is one of the favourites to win the whole contest, right? Of course, their song is nothing spectacular, but this is not a music contest. It is a TV show, a TV event. You can have the best song in the world, but if your performance is not on par with the song, you can kiss it goodbye. It’s as simple as that. And I think that’s what it’s supposed to be. If it were JUST a song contest, not televised and what not – then fine. Just have no background effects, and have the people sing. But there is so much more involved, and I think people just assume that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, but it actually is. Who’d just watch a plain background with 18 songs and nothing interesting happening….

    I think Finland had a lovely ballad, but her whole image was kind of weak. Especially that bad green dress. And the song is rather forgettable, no matter how pleasant when you listen to it.
    I thought the results were fantastic, actually. Last year’s semi final results were a travesty, so this year is much better! I predicted 9/10 (switched Switzerland with Hungary). I’d say it’s a great semi! 🙂

    Slavi

    • No way! Really? How can they win? Will juries support this kind of business? I know, they supported Jedward last year, so I guess anything can happen this year.

      Now there is an idea! Rename the contest from Eurovision SONG Contest to Eurovision ACT Contest, or Eurovision POLITICS Contest (with tagline “set to music”)! But if they could tolerate the show you are describing 40, 50, or even 20 years ago, why could not we?

      But honestly, I thought the performance was perfectly on par with the song: simple, tasteful, and honest. In fact, I would single out Finland for having the most honest song in the whole contest. And it helps that it was not in English, or even Finnish.

      Again, I do not know if this is my bias kicking in, but I thought the dress was great. Putting a redhead in a green dress is maybe not the most original idea in the world, but there is a reason it is such a classic: it works like crazy every time. That was a piece by Katri Niskanen, who won Finland’s version of Project Runway season 1. She became very popular because of it, and has been responsible for get-ups like:

      Jenni Vartiainen celebrating Finnish Independence Day 2011 at the castle:

      and Chisu accepting her Elle Style Award 2011:
      http://www.iltalehti.fi/muoti/2011101314566546_mu.shtml

      In the interest of art, I really really really think we did everything right, more so than last year. If only we could be trusted with voting for our own countries if so warranted! Sorry if I appear stubborn about this!

      Ignoring the songs and just looking at the flags, do the results not read much like they did in Belgrade? After just one semi-final (with the notable exception of Hungary, and of course substituting Finland for Ireland)? It’s like a best-friend contest all over again, with the East having its customary leg up!

      Now, has Sam always been so good at predicting results, or does she have a leg up now that gets to see the rehearsals in person?

  5. I’ve always been not-so-good at predicting the results, but while everyone else was voting, I made my prediction and hit 9 out of 10. So either this was a VERY easy one to predict or I’m starting to get the hang of this.

    I believe the 10 best songs/performances/acts qualified, and that includes Jedward and the Babushki. If it’s the same countries as in Belgrade, then that only proves that some countries are better at this than others.

    The one I got wrong was swapping Finland for Hungary. But that was my 10th place slot. I wasn’t surprised that I got it wrong.

    I thought Pernilla’s performance failed to reach out of the TV and grab the viewer’s attention. She’s a beautiful woman, she sings well and it’s a nice song, but there was nothing memorable or particularly interesting about any of it. We often say that sometimes less is more, but **this** performance of **this** song wasn’t one of those times.

    If you bring an understated song, dress the stage in dark drab colors, and stand still for the whole performance, you’re not going to get noticed. It’s the Eurovision Song Contest! If you want to do that sort of thing, the ESC is not for you. You need to enter something else!

    Concerning the dress: Since I’m in America, I won’t see a high-quality copy of the broadcast for a few more hours yet. 😉 But from what I could see, the dress just didn’t work for television. You could tell they were going for the “flowing train” look, and not getting it. It was distracting to watch the train listlessly flapping the way it was. And with nothing else really going on, that’s all there was to watch. They needed to have either more wind, or less dress.

    Despite all the negative things I have just said, I still thought it would get through, and I share your disappointment that it didn’t. I agree that it failed to qualify for mostly non-musical reasons. But this should not surprise anyone. The presentation is always important at the ESC. It is inappropriate to complain, now, after the semi is over, that presentation shouldn’t have counted!

    At least we can comfort ourselves that the Trackshittaz got sent back to Austria.

    PS – Now I’m REALLY upset that the contest isn’t airing in America. The quality of the performances is much improved, there is a wonderful diversity in the music selection, and there’s just the right amount of wackiness for the fans of that sort of thing without making the whole contest look like a joke. This would have been a great year to introduce the ESC to the rest of my country!

  6. OMG SAMANTHA! YOUR ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE MAIN EUROVISION.TV WEBSITE!!!!
    I saw your face and I couldn’t believe it! I immediately came to post this on here. lol xD

    • Samantha Ross

      Hehehe…thanks, Jack! Supposedly, pics of me are being projected in the Press Centre, too. Not sure whether to be flattered or freaked out… 😉

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