13 May 2022
It was a bit of everything that qualified for the grand final from the second semi final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin. From rock, to pop, to dance, to ballads, to western, and to some weird woman washing her hands. Such was the strength of this semi is that it will be noted for some good performances that missed out, notably San Marino and Malta. Let’s congratulate the sad boys too. In a year of so many solo males with ballads and slower songs, Azerbaijan, Australia, Poland and Belgium all reached the grand final, as did Switzerland from the first semi final. Curiously, those that predominantly suffered in the second semi final were the solo women. Out of the seven entries, five missed out.
Much like the first semi final, it’s difficult to make a case for most of those that missed out. While several definitely deserved a spot in the grand final, who do you cut? Even with San Marino, its strength was mostly in its wild performance. The song was always on the weaker side heading in, and sometimes too much craziness on stage can be too much. Personally, I would definitely have cut one of the sad boys, with Australia the one of the four, except that would be total bias to get Malta in.
01 Finland – The Rasmus – Jezebel
I thought they might have popped their balloon as the performance was a little disjointed. What did all those balloons mean anyway? It could have been an attempt to fill the stage. Ultimately, the infectious nature of the song and generally powerful performance saw this one through. 7/10
02 Israel – Michael Ben David – I.M
Pleasant voice, especially at the start, and well choreographed. Probably a little too extravagant, and the song was always average. 5/10
03 Serbia – Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano
Adding a few translations on screen certainly helped to understand the song, and it was something I suggested they do in my Fab Five & Top 40 post. Otherwise, it’s just a crazy woman constantly washing her hands and talking babble. So now we have two songs in the grand final that will give us the clap, and I’ll prefer to get it from Portugal. 6/10
04 Azerbaijan – Nadir Rustamli – Fade To Black
Super vocals and staging. The vocals, especially, were always the strength here to drive the song that might have proved average for someone else, and so it proved. A worthy finalist. Interesting use of a black dancer in a song called Fade To Black. 7/10
05 Georgia – Circus Mircus – Lock Me In
This was crazy. I liked it! Georgia certainly made better use of the stage than Finland. I thought they were a chance for the grand final until I saw the remaining acts. A good effort for a song that was invisible to most people. 6/10
06 Malta – Emma Muscat – I Am What I Am
Oh, Emma, you’re such a cutie! This put a big smile on my face. I always loved this song, and Emma vocally was really strong. Not sure why she left the piano so soon; it was only after a few lines. I’d have stayed their until the second chorus to really build momentum. Oh well. You are what you are and you did really well. The crowd definitely got into it too. 8/10
07 San Marino – Achille Lauro – Stripper
So Italy still get to show rock at their home Eurovision! That was some wild shit. Good use of the stage, and further made Finland look like they failed to reach their potential. On second viewing, most of the craziness was at the end, and much of it was too self-indulgent. Vocally not that strong either, so if you’re comparing to Måneskin from last year, there’s no comparison. Still surprised it missed the final as surely it had great appeal with the public, and it’s the one song most cited by fans online as deserving to qualify. 7/10
08 Australia – Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
A little too theatrical, and it’s a song that’s long exhausted its interest for me. Vocally was solid and staging was excellent. There was a mishap with the microphone stand that I missed first time. After walking up the stairs and prior to removing the mask, the microphone couldn’t be placed into the mic stand as it had collapsed and wouldn’t rise in place when Sheldon tried it. With only one free hand to remove the mask, he struggled, so had to also use the one holding the mic as well. That last bit most people would have noticed first time. It shows that professionals don’t get fazed and can improvise. He has a handsome face, so should leave the mask off more often. 6/10
09 Cyprus – Andromache – Ela
Very pretty set and lighting. The song was a little flat and simply got buried by many superior ones. 5/10
10 Ireland – Brooke – That’s Rich
This was a quality performance from Brooke. Very well choreographed, appropriate outfits, and vocally was sound. Easy qualifier for me. That’s rich that it missed out. 7/10
11 North Macedonia – Andrea – Circles
Lovely voice and song. Andrea probably went too theatrical with her gestures to try elevate the song as much as possible. I never like twitching fingers on the microphone either. It’s a sign of nerves or, again, trying to push a song too much. Disappointing as this was in my top 10 before Eurovision began. The score is mostly for the song itself, and Andrea’s voice. 7/10
12 Estonia – Stefan – Hope
Proud of boring Stefan. A super performance! He probably enjoyed himself too much instead of providing a more direct delivery. He gave great hope for Estonia to qualify, and that they did. Perhaps I need to drop the “boring” prefix or think of something new. 7/10
13 Romania – WRS – Llamame
Blink and you miss Romania’s costume change, which I did. Fun, charismatic performance, and a different style of song with its Latin and ethnic mix, so an understandable qualifier. 7/10
14 Poland – Ochman – River
Well staged and equal best vocals with Azerbaijan on the night. The niggle with this song is it’s quite generic until that bridge section, which is like 10 times better than the rest of it. That the best parts do come so late do make it memorable and therefore an obvious choice for the grand final. 7/10
15 Montenegro – Vladana – Breathe
Little did I know that Vladana had lost her mother to COVID-19 and she wrote this song 2 days later. She provided us with a dramatic performance and excellent vocals – and that outfit was gorgeous – so it’s sad she couldn’t qualify. 7/10
16 Belgium – Jeremie Makiese – Miss You
Belgium was equally as dramatic and with quality vocals like Montenegro, except offered a bit more, thanks to the dancers. 7/10
17 Sweden – Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
My favourite song going in and Cornelia didn’t disappoint, and that’s despite bringing the same stage presentation to Turin. On a much bigger stage there were some adjustments, notably with the camera angles, to make it more intimate like it was at Melodifestivalen. One particular shot was from within the crowd that made it look like the crowd was right up against the stage. This is why Sweden get good results so often. They are total masters at presenting a song, even with an old presentation. 9/10
18 Czechia – We Are Domi – Lights Off
Yes! That’s how you pump out a dance song. Excellent use of stage and lighting, not to forget the quality vocals. They were my biggest cheer of all the countries announced for the grand final. 8/10
My Top 10
San Marino 7
I won’t even rank the rest, only saying that North Macedonia, Romania and Montenegro (all scored 7) just missed out, with Australia, Serbia and Georgia (6) next, and finally Cyprus and Israel (5). No song scored less than 5, which is probably the first time ever. Coming into Eurovision there were no bad songs for me anyway, with only Bulgaria and Ukraine falling below 5 in the first semi. Average score is 6.8, which puts it into the top echelon of Eurovision shows. The first semi scored only 6, and only six songs scored at least 7 compared to 13 songs here.
From my preview before Eurovision, unlike the first semi final of no changes, there’s two here. In come San Marino and Azerbaijan for Cyprus and North Macedonia. Of my top 10, seven did qualify for the final (marked in bold) compared to 5 from the first semi, while I did predict in my preview Serbia and Azerbaijan would qualify ahead of Ireland and North Macedonia. So I picked 9 correctly there, whereas the first semi I predicted only 5.
Something that is clearly not abundant at this year’s Eurovision is epic voice and vocal combinations. Il Volo, reprising Grande Amore (their 2015 Eurovision entry) during the interval, proved that. Bravo!
Grand Final Preview
The running order is set and, as usual, it offers a delicious guide to some of the main hopes. Quite simply, the producers will place favoured songs later in their randomly drawn halves of the show. Ukraine, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom and Spain were the five countries leading the betting markets coming in, and that has essentially remained after the semi finals and rehearsals. The main change is UK has switched places with Italy. Armed with data from the semi finals, producers can confirm popularity for those songs while relying on personal impressions from the rehearsals for the pre-qualified grand final countries of Italy, UK and Spain.
01 Czechia – We Are Domi – Lights Off
02 Romania – WRS – Llamame
03 Portugal – Maro – Saudade Saudade
04 Finland – The Rasmus – Jezebel
05 Switzerland – Marius Bear – Boys Do Cry
06 France – Alvan & Ahez – Fulenn
07 Norway – Subwoolfer – Give That Wolf A Banana
08 Armenia – Rosa Linn – Snap
09 Italy – Mahmood & Blanco – Brividi
10 Spain – Chanel – SloMo
11 Netherlands – S10 – De Diepte
12 Ukraine – Kalush Orchestra – Stefania
13 Germany – Malik Harris – Rockstars
14 Lithuania – Monika Liu – Sentimentai
15 Azerbaijan – Nadir Rustamli – Fade To Black
16 Belgium – Jeremie Makiese – Miss You
17 Greece – Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord – Die Together
18 Iceland – Systur – Med Haekkandi Sol
19 Moldova – Zdob si Zdub & Advahov Brothers – Trenuletul
20 Sweden – Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer
21 Australia – Sheldon Riley – Not The Same
22 United Kingdom – Sam Ryder – Space Man
23 Poland – Ochman – River
24 Serbia – Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano
25 Estonia – Stefan – Hope
The host, Italy, actually drew ninth, while the rest drew halves and were placed. The first half cuts off at song 13 – Germany. Immediately you see Spain and Ukraine have juicy spots, while Netherlands at 11 suggests they did well from the first semi. Norway, a fan favourite, can deduce they won’t win so can already pack their bags for Uranus, never to be seen again. Spain can feel more encouraged. Czechia opening is good for them. Obviously not a chance of winning, so perform first, and enjoy the rest of the show.
In the second half Sweden has been placed nicely, UK can feel very encouraged, while Serbia is the wildcard. Australia, as a raw number of 21, looks good until you realise they are sandwiched between Sweden and UK, so are probably filler. Estonia see us out with the smiling Stefan. Hey, that’s his new prefix!
Grand Final Prediction
For the first time ever, I’ve watched the full live presentation clips of the direct finalists to confirm my thoughts, rather than keep something fresh for the grand final. I can confirm all three high in the betting are very good, with special emphasis on UK, while also reminding you that the Brits do like a bet, and it’s a big country for people to get behind one of their own, and Ukraine are still the massive favourites at $1.30. It’s really just them, with UK and Sweden hovering around $7 and $8, respectively. Italy is at $12 and Spain at $17. Then we get to $50+ for Poland, Greece and Serbia, with Norway and Netherlands at $80. That’s as far as you need to look.
I’l remain stubborn and say Ukraine won’t win. There’s not enough sympathy vote out there to compensate for an average song. This year doesn’t quite align with Jamala’s 1944 in 2016. Inferior song and no Russia in 2022 to punish are just two facts.
Before the semi finals started, I said Sweden, UK, Netherlands, Poland and Spain as the top 5. That Netherlands is placed nicely suggest they are a chance, as is Poland. Spain typically struggle for votes even with good songs, so I’ll reluctantly say no for them. Instead, I will bump Ukraine to third as Eurovision can be that stupid and keep UK to finish second. As for the winner, my head and my heart still says it will be Sweden. Hold tight, hold tight.