08 May 2022
Turin 2022 will be one of the most interesting Eurovision Song Contests due to the even nature of the field. Personal and other sentiment aside, no entries really stand out as obvious winners, while there’s a huge group of solid songs that could really transform themselves on the Eurovision stage. It’s reminiscent of 2011, where Azerbaijan’s Ell & Nikki with Running Scared emerged to take the title without upsetting, or even exciting, too many people.
On the surface, the second semi final looks like the stronger one. There’s an extra song (18 to 17), so mathematically it’s automatically harder. The field also looks much more even. While there’s notable fan favourites in both semi finals, it’s that middle range of songs where semi final 2 seems to excel, and where the big fight will be for those final few places in the final. There could be several sad boys going home early this year, and that’s not just because of the sad style of songs they brought. Yes, it’s a year of many solo males singing ballads or sad songs, so a sad exit in more ways than one.
In deciding my top 10 songs the semi finals to advance to the grand final, I simply mark them hot, warm or cool until I reach 10 songs. The hot ones are usually all those that got at least 4 stars in my Top 40 Ranking & Fab Five Review of all songs and would incite rage and fury if any missed out. The warm ones are those I’d like to see in the final. The cool ones are those to make up the numbers if I haven’t marked 10 yet. Of course, some of this could change on the night depending on the presentation. If a favourite performs poorly, I won’t be fussed if they miss out.
Semi Final 1
Only three hot ones – Netherlands, Croatia and Austria – all of whom are in my top 5. Denmark is the only one with 4 stars (ranked 11th overall) that I marked warm. I then marked 3 songs as cool before ending the process. That actually made 11 marked overall, with Latvia a definite selection. So that leaves Iceland or Greece to cut, and it’s goodbye… Iceland! I just feel I’m seen and heard enough of Iceland. It’s a straight forward song, whereas Greece has scope to excel. Based on my top 40 rankings, it was Iceland at 27, Greece at 26 and Latvia at 21, so that decision to cut Iceland just ahead of Greece aligns there too.
Are there any at risk missing the final? The first semi has Ukraine and Norway as fan favourites, so logically they will take two spots. It’s the third time for Zdob si Zdub for Moldova, and they’ve always qualified, so that could be another gone. Latvia is a fun song so likely will survive. Both Croatia and Portugal are understated songs, so could be vulnerable. Who knows with Austria. These dance songs can be hit or miss. Greece, which takes so much time to build, it’s an unknown too. I’ll actually predict Moldova won’t qualify, which leaves two vulnerable, and I fear for Austria and Croatia the most, while predict Portugal and Greece to miss at the expense of Ukraine and Norway.
Semi Final 2
Five hot songs, five warm ones, and that’s 10. Simple! Sweden and the amazing Cornelia Jakobs is my favourite this year – and by a lot – so they really deserved a giant, blazing sun next to them. Czechia is in my top 5 (5th), while Malta is 6th, Finland 7th and North Macedonia 10th. So that makes them automatic and logical selections.
Serbia and Azerbaijan are strong candidates to knock two of mine preferences out, with Estonia another threat. Those I mostly fear not qualifying are Ireland, Czechia and North Macedonia. Ireland qualifying for the final would actually be a huge upset so I’m already thinking they are gone. Czechia, much like Austria, dance-style songs can be problematic. Performing last should help them. Without a strong vocal performance, North Macedonia could be too generic. I’ll have faith and say Czechia will survive, while predicting Serbia and Azerbaijan will progress instead of Ireland and North Macedonia.
Big 5 & Host
Simply marked them based on personal favouritism. It’s a good year. Even Italy, which I’ve marked cool, is one of the fan favourites.
The betting odds prior (which are a reaction to people betting, not the opinion of bookmakers) are a good guide to the overall popularity of a song, while not necessarily an accurate predictor of the winner. While Duncan Laurence for Netherlands was always a favourite in 2019 and won, last year’s winner, Måneskin, was only ranked fourth. Malta was actually the favourite (finished 7th in Rotterdam), with France second (2nd), Switzerland third (3rd) and Iceland fifth (4th). The betting in 2021 also had Ukraine and Finland much lower than their final result. Israel (Netta with Toy) was always a favourite in 2018, while Portugal was fourth favourite in 2017. Italy was the wildly hot favourite in 2017 (finished 6th), while Bulgaria, second in the betting, finished second. That is the general pattern with the betting markets – that they isolate a core group of songs that will finish near the top. Then things can change once rehearsals start and the semi finals are complete. For this exercise, we want to know the accuracy of the betting markets before Eurovision starts.
Turin 2022 is a little strange in that there’s a lot of sympathy driving the betting on Ukraine. There’s apparent parallels to Ukraine winning in 2016 when Russia occupied Crimea, albeit, that war began in 2014. Secondly, as polarising as Jamala’s 1944 was, the song itself had many, many fans. It was popular in its own right whereas Stefania by Kalush Orchestra pales in comparison. It’s fun for the first half and then just repeats itself on and on. With Russia actually sanctioned and banned from this year’s Eurovision, the motivation to vote for Ukraine to harm Russia’s chances (a significant part of Jamala’s success) is also gone. Yes, Ukraine will get sympathy votes; there just won’t be enough to compensate for the weakness of the song.
Italy is a similar situation to Ukraine. Mahmood finished second in 2019 with Soldi and so there’s an expectation of a similarly good result in 2022. Except, and like with Ukraine, the song seems to fail in comparison. It’s a bit of a soppy sad boy ballad, albeit it’s a duo, and there’s plenty of sad competition around for that. Sweden always attracts betting because they are Sweden and nearly always achieve good results. Of course, one huge distinction in 2022 is that they have an outstanding entry, and that has kept them high in the market. United Kingdom and Spain have probably attracted many bets from home fans, and given the size of those countries, that adds up. At Eurovision, both are notoriously bad at winning votes, so take their high place with trepidation.
2 United Kingdom
It’s another Swedish victory, and therefore matching Ireland’s record of seven Eurovision wins. A great song, a superb artist, distinctive, and has instant and broad appeal. Most of all, Cornelia Jakobs will leave a moment for everyone to remember. That’s a critical part of attracting votes. United Kingdom also have a great song and artist, and after so many years of poor results, 2022 could be the year where people’s reluctance to vote for Britain is released in a big way. I’ve picked for third Netherlands because it’s quite a haunting song, so could really capture viewers if presented well. Being in Dutch adds an extra dynamic, and I’m probably a bit biased, too, because it’s my second favourite this year. Poland is probably best of the sad boy ballads (especially vocally), while Spain has a quality uptempo song that could finally give them a top result. The last time they’ve been near the top 5 was sixth in 2001.
On a personal note, I always like to see a new country win, or even a long-suffering country to win. In that sense, why not Poland, Spain or the UK? Of course, there’s a matter of the heart, and since Hold Me Closer has really intertwined itself into the fibre of my being, I can see myself heavily emotionally invested in Sweden winning. So what if Sweden’s won Eurovision so many times before. Sometimes it’s about a deserved victory, and there’s no more entry more deserving to win this year than Hold Me Closer by Cornelia Jakobs. Hold tight, hold tight.