Every year, as soon as the rehearsal cycle of each semi is complete, my brain finally reaches the “will it or won’t it” phase – in which it drives itself crazy while trying to make decisions about all the songs that I previously filed under my borderline entries, aka “will not be surprised if they do, will not be surprised if they don’t.”
There are years where the job of sorting the semi songs into categories is pretty easy. I go through the list of songs, mark a little asterisk next to each one that I think will qualify and accidentally end up with exactly 10. Sometimes I even take the opposite approach and mark the “no way this is qualifying” and still end up pretty close to the target.
This year isn’t one of those years. My very efficient system, as I just established, is just going through down the list and making notes, so let’s see what happens when I try.
Lithuania: Ok, that one is easy. It’s in. Next.
Slovenia: We’ve got our first tricky one! But I’m a giant nerd who loves statistics and analyzing statistics, so my brain knows things like the fact that out of 24 semi final shows, 19 had at least one woman in a dress singing a pretty ballad prettily qualify to the final. The other five shows either had a woman in a dress singing a pretty midtempo prettily qualifying or a woman in a dress singing a pretty ballad prettily being not too far off the mark. The one who was the furthest away from making it was Moran Mazor, who was 23 points away from the 10th place.
Other things my brain knows? Even though the knee-jerk reaction to seeing the second position in the running order is to pronounce the entry dead, actually almost any note-belting woman who sang in this position qualified, with the only exception being Tamara Gachechiladze – and even she finished 11th.
I should feel convinced enough by this point that I can put it in my Q column, but because two-thirds of this semi is borderline for me, I know nothing. Let’s see how the rest shapes out.
Russia: Wven if the song and performance weren’t awesome, Russia need to send Julia Samoylova to manage a NQ. I think Manizha is safe.
Sweden: Oh, Sweden, what am I going to do with you. On one hand, it’s Sweden. On the other hand, Sweden does miss occasionally, and even though I adore Tusse, this is quite basic. Also, did I mention I’m a stats nerd? The only semi that had the first four songs in it qualify was that 2008 semi, where Charlotte Perrelli finished 12th and qualified anyway. Of course, it’s hard to tell whether it’s just bad luck of having crappier songs in the first half of semis, but I suspect that after 24 semi shows it might also suggest that people just really struggle with remembering songs that are earlier on unless they really stand out. No clue, then. Good going, Shi. Let’s get back to that one.
Australia: As much as I love this one, a Q isn’t going to happen. First of all, it really does feel like more of a jury song. Then, there’s that live on-tape performance. I should say that I understand the idea behind that and am grateful to the EBU for coming up with it as an extra way to assure we get Eurovision this year. However, it would have been one thing if everyone had a live on-tape performance, but having seen the clip – which definitely looks like it was shot in a studio – I don’t see how the difference won’t be very noticeable compared to the live performances, especially when it comes to the energy levels of both the performers and the audience. I’d guess that even if the audience knows it’s part of the competition, it will come across as a guest performance of sorts – a favor to the country who couldn’t send their singer more than anything else.
Who do we have next?
Oh. Right. North Macedonia. Yeah, not happening.
Ireland? Probably not.
Cyprus: Before rehearsals, this was one of the female uptempo block that I could not make my mind about. After rehearsals, this is the one that actually managed the job of convincing me it’s going through.
Norway: Ugh. Do I really need to make a decision based on things that are not my personal feelings?
Yes, I absolutely did just avoid making any sort of a call on this one. I’m the queen of avoidance, y’all.
Croatia: I am not sold on the performance, but it feels like something that could qualify given it’s an uptempo with a fun dance routine earworm-worthy phrase and a really likable singer.
Belgium: I just can’t see the jury not fawning all over this, and between everything else on this side of the semi I suspect there will be enough viewers who will desperately need a musical breather.
Israel: I am not sold on the performance, but it feels like something that could qualify given it’s an uptempo with a fun dance routine earworm-worthy phrase and a really likable singer.
You see my problem here, right?
Romania: I never thought I’d be so grateful for someone who tortured my hearing for three whole runs, but hey, I finally get to rule something out!
Azerbaijan: I am trying to decide whether I’d be more or less tempted to say this is a NQ if it wasn’t Azerbaijan and if I wasn’t comparing it to everything else they’ve done. Either way, I can see its weaknesses, but I can also see it has an annoyingly good place in the running order, some neighbors, a pretty memorable ethnic bridge, some countries who like that kind of ethnic bridge, and a pretty damn effective last minute. And pyros! Let’s not forget the pyros!
Ukraine: Through, easily. I wrote once before that if “Samo Shampioni” – which used the same musical style of singing that many consider audience-unfriendly – managed to finish 12th in the semi (and 5th in the televote) with the car crash fest performance it has, this odd but modern presentation and a much more current composition really shouldn’t have a problem making it through.
Malta: I know it’s going through. You know it’s going through. We all know it’s going through.
Sincere apologies to anyone who made it all the way down here only to realize I don’t actually have a list of 10 qualifiers here. But a girl needs to keep something for the day of the semi!