After the heights of semi final 1 – and right now I’m calling it the greatest semi final ever – semi final 2 was a shocker. It wasn’t so much that the overall quality of songs was bad, it was the choice of finalists. Romania? Greece? Finland? Come on! These are so ultra cheap. Then there was Armenia. A very average song, so pretentious, and if the boos are any indication, only qualified thanks to the Turkish diaspora. Azerbaijan was also in this semi final. While the diaspora would have helped it, it was a good song and well performed, so well received as a finalist. With Norway and Iceland in the same semi final, no doubt that helped Finland’s cheap entry. Norway and Iceland – similar to Azerbaijan in being quality songs – were acceptable finalists.
If that wasn’t disgusting enough of the dubious songs that qualified for the final, it was the snub of San Marino. Quite possibly it was the best song in the semi final and it failed. How? I can’t imagine how either the jury or televote could snub it. Are people hard of hearing? It just had everything, and was so unique and so well performed and the lighting and staging was just brilliant. The red hue at the start over the crowd was breathtaking. The song was a fan favourite and rated highly by betting agencies as a top 10 chance to the entire contest itself and obviously in the top echelon to reach the final. A total indictment that it missed out.
One rationale that must be considered for San Marino’s failure is the new idea for the produces to allocate the positions of songs rather than the traditional random draw. While San Marino might just as easily drawn early in a random allocation, facts are that most of the finalists came towards the end of the competition and also potentially benefited from the allocation of strong songs around them. If you ignore Azerbaijan, Finland and Iceland that benefited at least from minor bloc voting, Malta was the earliest qualifier at six with Greece at 9. Songs 11, 12, 13, 15 and 17 (of 17) qualified. The only randomness of the allocation is whether the country draws first half or second half of the show. For the sake of fairness, and as mentioned in my “Leave Eurovision Running Order Alone” blog, it would be wiser to divide this into thirds, or even quarters – noting the final has 26 positions. First half in the final could be position 1 or 13. Unacceptable.
How’d my favourites go?
This wasn’t as strong a semi as the first. There was a definite pattern in the allocation with a strong start, subdued middle, and strong finish. While there were more songs that I really liked in this semi, there were more average songs too, knocking the quality average down. Ranking songs 1 to 10 as I always do, the average rank was 6.2 compared to 6.9 for semi final one. Last year the average rank across all shows was 5.6.
Before the show, this was my rank…
My top 10 from the show with scores and displacement…
San Marino 9
FYR Macedonia 6
There was no displacement, meaning my top 10 remained. While there were a few on 6 points, it was easy to split them. The biggest change in overall rank is Switzerland falling and Azerbaijan rising. You can’t just stand on stage in a line like Switzerland did. The band should have been separate (as a band) and the two singers out front. The band could then walk forward in the end to join the chorus. Maybe the problem was the old guy and his inability to really walk with a cello. Still, you must doing something. Azerbaijan is really growing on me and the performance was so slick and innovative.
Actual top 10 compared to my top 10 (*)…
Five dropped out. It was actually looking good as the finalists were announced, with most of the early ones my picks. Then it all went horribly wrong, starting with Romania and ending up with Greece. Of some of the countries that missed, it’s the first time no Balkan nation is in the final. It as tough for FYRM without any close friends. Bulgaria and Albania might have been able to help each other. FYRM have had a rough trot as a Eurovision nation recently as well. You can make cases for all that missed out, except San Marino. Albania might have been swamped by other other bands like Greece and Armenia, Israel doesn’t have that hook to grab you. Latvia – often these energetic style songs can seem corny. That’s despite a great performance. Bulgaria’s song was just too weak and strangely not particularly well sung or stage. Switzerland – already mentioned the poor staging.
Iceland was a worry. Being the sole male ballad helped. So too Georgia being the sole duo ballad. In the first semi, interesting if either had of succeeded. I was so pleased about Hungary. Even though right at the start the crowd were into it and clapping away, Alex was a total stiff. Absolutely no emotion being transmitted. He could have been baking a pie. He seemed so insecure and amateurish. Malta can be happy for qualifying. Gianluca’s charisma helped overcome a potentially drab presentation and inferior similarity to Hungary.
Potential in the final
Norway, Norway, Norway. That’s it. It’s always a favourite of mine, with only San Marino beginning to run it down. With them eliminated, it’s Norway all the way for the final. It’s such a strong song, Margaret is so charismatic, great staging and distinctive. Even them, it must lack that extra quality to win. I didn’t love on first hearing. Other than Norway, or maybe Azerbaijan, I can’t see anything from this semi challenging in the final. Not with San Marino gone.
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