PREVIEW: Eurovision Song Contest semi-final 1

WHEN?: 10/5

WHERE: BBC4 8pm (link below)

Rehearsals for the 1st Eurovision semi-final started 2/5 and we’ll be updating our semi 1 predictions to reflect them as they progress, so here’s our thoughts on the 18 entries vying for 10 final slots.

  • Who’s through and who’s on the 1st plane out of Stockholm? Read on for our semi 1 predictions

  1. FINLAND: Sandhja Sing It Away

A pleasant opener and we wouldn’t be surprised if this nudged out one of our more vulnerable predicted qualifiers (Moldova, we’re looking at you).

2. GREECE: Argo Utopian Land

Greece is one of three countries never to have missed a Eurovision final since the semis were introduced but we think the combination of the dreaded #2 draw and a not terribly inspiring song will see it miss out in 2016.

3. MOLDOVA: Lidia Isac Falling Stars PREDICTION: Qualifier

We’re getting Iceland 2010 vibes from this and would love to see it make the final. There’s a spaceman in the staging.

4. HUNGARY: Freddie Pioneer

Gravelly throated Freddie has an impressive rock voice but this is a little too early and dour to make the final.

5. CROATIA: Nina Kraljić Lighthouse PREDICTION: Qualifier

Our dark horse to win the whole thing has drifted in the betting. The staging and live performance will be key to its eventual success but we’re quietly confident of a big finish. Look out for a frock horror in the stage show.

6NETHERLANDS: Douwe Bob Slow Down PREDICTION: Qualifier

Like The Common Linnets who were runners up to Conchita in 2014, this isn’t very Eurovision sounding and instead has its roots in American soul/folk. Expecting it to stand out and do well as a result.


Armenia can usually be relied upon to enter something commercial and different yet this is a real disappointment. Ethno-pop lacking a real hook that we have down as borderline qualifier at best. Getting better rehearsal write ups than we were expecting, so we now have this sneaking into the final ahead of, ooh controversy!, Azerbaijan.

8. SAN MARINO: Serhat I Didn’t Know


9. RUSSIA: Sergey Lazarov You Are The Only One PREDICTION: Qualifier

Russia are the second of the three countries with 100% qualifying records. Polina’s near-miss last year seems to have heightened their resolve and, if performed well, this is definite top 3 material. Bookies’ favourite as we type. Douze points for the choreo which builds on last year’s winner’s and ramps it right up.

10. CZECH REPUBLIC: Gabriela Gunčíková I Stand PREDICTION: Qualifier

The country with perhaps Eurovision’s worst record – no qualifications for the final in four attempts. This is an anthemic and rousing ballad that should stir die-hard Eurovision fans. Would be lovely to see it make the final. Great reviews for this from the 1st rehearsal.

11. CYPRUS: Minus One Alter Ego

Unusual for Cyprus to go quite so 80s rock. It’s a fast forward from us.

12. AUSTRIA: Zoë Loin d’ici 

Sounding like a French entry from Eurovision’s halcyon days many years ago, its appearance in the final would make the fanboys happy but we think it’s a struggle on its hands in the stronger of the two semis.

13. ESTONIA: Jüri Pootsmann Play PREDICTION: Qualifier

Last year’s Estonian entry was our favourite song of the year and one of its writers is credited here. This is completely different, Jüri’s voice is deep and unusual and the song’s a bit of an old-school jam. Extremely catchy.

14. AZERBAIJAN: Samra Miracle

Swedish writers again figure in a number of entries this year and Azerbaijan maintains its tradition of looking north-westwards for its writers. This wouldn’t be out of place in greatest show on earth and Swedish Eurovision selection Melodifestivalen. Dire reviews from the 1st rehearsal. This isn’t looking such a shoo-in after all.

15. MONTENEGRO: Highway The Real Thing

If the rock entries in this semi (we’re thinking Hungary and Cyprus) were to be represented by anyone, we’d say this would be the most likely beneficiary.

16. ICELAND: Greta Salóme Hear Them Calling PREDICTION: Qualifier

One of our personal favourites, Greta is one of seven artists making a Eurovision return in 2016. She finished 20th in 2012 and we think she’d do well to better that this year but have everything crossed for her for a final appearance. Russia’s big use of an interactive screen may have stolen some of Iceland’s, erm, thunder – and lightning.

17. BOSNIA & HERZOGOVINA: Dalal & Deen feat. Ana Rucner and Jala Ljubav je PREDICTION: Qualifier

Deen featured here was 9th in 2004 and we’ve this down as qualifying because we’re really enjoying its mix of traditional and modern. Rumours that the various acts involved have fallen out and are on the verge of withdrawing don’t bode well however.

18. MALTA: Ira Losco Walk On Water PREDICTION: Qualifier

Ira Losco (2nd in 2002) sensibly ditched the song that won the Maltese selection for her and instead plumped for something co-written by Melodifestivalen regular Molly Pettersson Hammar (who’s also appearing on stage). We’re expecting this to do very well.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Nina Kraljić. Link to watch here. Join us for our semi 2 preview on this site immediately after semi 1.
  • Enjoyed this preview? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham


  1. Karl Fradgley · April 18, 2016

    Gonna be a tough one for up 8 entries vying for 5 slots – Russia, Azerbaijan, Croatia are the only dead certs. I reckon Iceland and Austria will make it without too much bother. Malta probably but after that anything can happen. Would eb great to see Czech Rep in the final with this song. Armenia will have a big diaspora vote, Netherlands is touch and go imo despite being very good. The same goes for Estonia. Tough call.

    Liked by 1 person

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