And just like that, we have a final line-up!
Despite insisting that I know nothing, I managed to guess 8 out of 10 before the show and 9 out of 10 after the songs were performed, and perhaps it being so hard to predict before the show makes looking back at it a lot easier. When you know ahead of time that almost nothing will surprise you, the chance of nothing surprising you is pretty high.
But while there were no real surprises for me, there were definitely things that are worth a note or two (except my home country Israel, where we can just let this year and its events fade into one of the black chapters in Israel’s Eurovision history and move on).
Goodbye to Yesterday
We lost 8 songs – none of them shocking, although I apparently jinxed Achille – after channeling him yesterday, it was his turn to channel some of my luck. On the other end of the non-qualifier range, I was happy to be wrong about the crime syndicate known as the juries from Malta, San Marino and Cyprus, with all three countries staying in the semi. I can only hope that Cyprus manage to figure out their selection process in the future and start doing it in the correct order – or at least in an order where they get to have a singer who can sing and a song that suits their artist. Progressive, I know. That’s a system that Ireland should probably consider adopting as well, because whatever they’re doing right now – especially in the Late Late Show studio with the acoustics from hell – is obviously not working.
Malta has been on my black list of annoying delegations over the last few years, and this year – even without getting the same amount of behind-the-scenes information – is no different, because once again they were not happy with what they picked and tweaked it too much. By “too much”, I mean completely changing from the ballad they originally picked which Emma could actually sing, and which would have had much better chances of making it through in a line-up that was light on female ballads (and even lighter on decent ones). The oddest thing about this is that we’ve actually seen Emma perform enough times to know she can sing, but you wouldn’t have known that if you watched her in this semi-final. I can only guess that, like the singers that came before her, her delegation stressed her out to the point where nerves got the best of her.
The only one out of the group of the dancing girls who made it through to the final was Dominika from the Czech Republic, and I probably owe her an apology for initially predicting in our Line-up
Czech Check that We Are Domi wouldn’t make it out of the semi. This should go without saying, but apparently some countries still need to hear it: competency can go a long way.
One dancing boy made it through as well, but let’s just say I’m not Romania’s target audience and apparently the universe needed to make sure I have something in the final line-up to strongly dislike in the name of cosmic balance.
The one slightly surprising thing about this semi-final, which I did wonder about yesterday after the events of the first semi, is whether all the male ballads and mid-tempos of this semi could make it through. Apparently, they could – and this is where I have to deliver an apology to Belgium, whom I had down as a non-qualifier until I saw the performance in full and realized I might have slightly underestimated the juries’ response to this one.
When I was trying to figure out my prediction for this semi (and considering some extreme methods like throwing darts at the wall to determine some of the qualifiers), I actually started with the few songs I was certain about.
Sweden, of course, was a given. And while I never managed to see this one as an overall winner (and still can’t, for reasons which will be discussed in my considerably lengthier post ahead of the final), I can’t think what else could have won this semi.
Finland was an obvious one because apparently Finland needs to send something really terrible in this style to not qualify.
And then, there is Serbia. There’s a good chance that many people are still tilting their head to the right and then to the left, trying to figure it out. But it turns out there are definitely a lot more people who found a reason to appreciate these three minutes of experimental theater. Although what got me the most – and it happened in several performances in both semis – were the moments in which Konstrakta broke character and reacted to the audience in the hall getting behind her. It’s almost like seeing the wizard behind the curtain, but instead of ruining the illusion it adds that extra thing which can be hard to define, and which makes it a lot easier for the viewers at home to care.
What will they care about in the final? What will I care about in the final? I have 24 hours to think about an answer that is better than Achille Lauro’s default response.