PREVIEW: Eurovision Song Contest 2017 semi final 1

WHEN?: 9/5/17

WHERE: BBC 8pm (link below)

The UK, along with Italy and Spain, vote in this first semi final. Rehearsals started 30/4 and we’ve been 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 Kiev? Read on for our semi 1 predictions

  1. SWEDEN: Robin Bengtsson I Can’t Go On PREDICTION: Qualifier

The obvious semi opener. The Swedes picked runner-up Nano, which would have been a far more credible entry than this winner with the international juries in greatest show on earth Melodifestivalen. It’s definitely qualifying and, while we think its Melodifestivalen production actually detracted from it, we can’t see Sweden equalling Ireland’s record number of wins with this predictable Euro stomper.

2. GEORGIA: Tamara Keep the Faith

Tamara was all set to perform in 2009’s Eurovision but her group’s effort We Don’t Wanna Put In was disqualified for its clumsy politics. She’s a strong voice, this is a far more Eurovision-friendly lyric and is probably a borderline qualifier sunk by its running order position.

3. AUSTRALIA: Isaiah Don’t Come Easy PREDICTION: Qualifier

Australia came ever so close to winning the whole thing at only their second attempt last year. This isn’t in that league but it does sound a lot like Sam Smith and, as 17-year-old Isaiah’s the winner of last year’s X Factor Australia, he should revel in the live vocal. Can’t beat a turntable at Eurovision (see The Ark in 2007).

4. ALBANIA: Lindita World 

Beautiful ballad, sung wonderfully on record and boasting the lyric: ‘Let the love unite us all.’ What Eurovision should be all about. The staging is a bit more of what we’ve come to expect from Eurovision. Not a favourite with the bookies. A little nervous in rehearsal, pipped by the more confident Poland.

5. BELGIUM: Blanche City Lights PREDICTION: Qualifier

17-year-old Blanche has an unusually low voice and co-wrote this catchy slice of Euro electronic dance music. A fan favourite that’s struggled in rehearsals.

6. MONTENEGRO: Slavko Kalezić Space 

What happened when Conchita discovered the gym and grew her hair. Actor, singer and songwriter Slavko (pictured above) ramps up the Euro cheese and camp-o-rama to overload and, while this is one of our own personal favourites, we think it might struggle to make the final. Sample lyric: ‘I have my suitors, don’t need to worry, Give me your body, let’s write a story.’ Not much singing at rehearsals but plenty of hair whipping.

7. FINLAND: Norma John Blackbird PREDICTION: Qualifier

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 22.07.28

We’ve nailed our colours to the mast and will be voting for this. There’s a lot of songs we really like in the first half of this semi and this desolate piece of melancholy could struggle to make the final. Which would be a shame because it’s one of the contest’s superior misery ballads. Could be the theme tune to the new Twin Peaks series.

8. AZERBAIJAN: Dihaj Skeletons PREDICTION: Qualifier

Azerbaijan ramp up the unsettling imagery in rehearsals. The composers of their only Eurovision win with Running Scared in 2011 return here with less success. It’s grown on us in recent weeks, we’re particularly enjoying the eastern melodies, and we think the draw has just saved it.

9. PORTUGAL: Salvador Sobral Amar Pelos Dois PREDICTION: Qualifier

Salvador has been too ill for rehearsals and his sister has stepped in for him. Although he’s expected to be able to perform Tuesday and Saturday. Classy and a big favourite with the bookies but we think it will fare far less well than predicted because, whisper it, it’s a little dull. Salvador has a heart-rending back story and the contest’s biggest fans would love a first Portuguese win. We just can’t see it with this hark back to the 30s.

10. GREECE: Demy This Is Love PREDICTION: Qualifier

Where do all the topless Eurovision dancers go when it’s over? Last year was the first that Greece failed to progress from semi to final and we wouldn’t expect a 2017 repeat. Uptempo, old school, Eurovision-friendly, dancefloor fodder from Demy.

11. POLAND: Kasia Moś Flashlight PREDICTION: Qualifier

A song we find ourselves wanting to like far more than we actually do. Unmemorable. Nice violin and dramatic drums in the chorus. Kasha’s confidence just edging out the more jittery Albania.

12. MOLDOVA: Sunstroke Project Hey, Mamma PREDICTION: Qualifier

Horribly dated cheese with a saxophone hook straight out of all the worst songs of the 80s. Qualifying (along with the dire Yodel It! from semi 2) because once heard, never forgotten. Aren’t there a lot of women wearing white in this semi?

13. ICELAND: Svala Paper

An interesting and moody slice of electronic dance music saddled with an unforgivably lazy lyric. ‘You make me feel like Paper, You cut right through, I’m stuck like glue to you…’ …zzz

14. CZECH REPUBLIC: Martina Bárta My Turn

Jazz singer and French horn player Martina brings a touch of the West End musical to proceedings. A polite song which, if well performed, might eek it into the final. We’re starting to think it will be nudged out by Armenia.

15. CYPRUS: Hovig Gravity

Penned by Swede Thomas G:son, who co-wrote Loreen’s 2012 winner, and was behind many entries for other countries over the years. This isn’t one of his best.

16. ARMENIA: Artsvik Fly With Me PREDICTION: Qualifier

Eastern sounding with some traditional elements but a bit of a plodder. This has grown on us since we started to listen to the version on the official show album. A flurry of interest at the bookies has seen its odds slashed.

17. SLOVENIA: Omar Naber On My Way 

Omar made Eurovision the last time it was in Kiev but finished 12th in his semi with the superior Stop, which he co-wrote. He’s the sole composer of this which is meandering and laboured.

18. LATVIA: Triana Park Line

Forgettable rock with synths.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Norma John. Link to watch here. Semi 2 predictions and final predictions. Are our predictions right? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Enjoyed this preview? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Facebook

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