WHERE: BBC 8pm (link below)
We’ll be throwing our support behind Estonia here, with France, Germany and Ukraine voting of the countries already qualified for the final. Rehearsals started 30/4 and we’ve been updating our semi 2 predictions to reflect them as they progress. 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 2 predictions
- SERBIA: Tijana In Too Deep
A member of the Swedish production team behind the Macedonian entry also figures here to less spectacular effect. It’s a workmanlike and upbeat show opener however and borderline (non?) qualifier.
2. AUSTRIA: Nathan Trent Running On Air PREDICTION: Qualifier
Giving great rehearsal in Kiev. 25-year-old Nathan co-wrote this and it sounds like middle-of-the-road Ed Sheeran to our ears. Haven’t caught a full live version but this is a strong enough song to ensure it should do well. A problem at this year’s London Eurovision Party meant he had to sing it acapella at the last moment but it was still well received.
RUSSIA: Julia Samoylova Flame Is Burning DISQUALIFIED
Wheelchair user Julia, banned from performing in Ukraine because of an appearance in Crimea, is excluded. The song’s a disappointment by recent Russian standards and saccharine rather than the eager-to-please gymnastics of 2016. The apparently woeful Ukranian contest organisers inexplicably dealt this very average entry the sympathy card.
3. MACEDONIA: Jana Burčeska Dance Alone PREDICTION: Qualifier
We absolutely love this song and its promo video. The winsome vocal sounds like Nina Persson, the lead singer of The Cardigans, although it’s quite produced. Wouldn’t be out of place on a Robyn album. One of the co-writers has remixed Lady Gaga and written for Velvet and former Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou. Double handclap in the chorus? Check. Sounding much better in rehearsals than we’d feared.
4. MALTA: Claudia Faniello Breathlessly
Claudia’s 11th tilt at representing Malta in Eurovision after her brother, Fabrizio, has done so twice (2001 and 2006). This is her songwriting team’s fourth entry after penning Ira Losco’s runner-up in 2002. Our reliance on stats perhaps exposes our lack of love for this. Needs a big performance as it’s a not too memorable ballad. Likely to lose votes to Denmark which has a similar song but a better running order position.
5. ROMANIA: Ilinca and Alex Florea Yodel It! PREDICTION: Qualifier
Cannon fodder for the juries … or will they go for the yodelling? Likely to score better with televoters. If you’re looking for the LOLs in this year’s contest, you’ve stumbled upon its most memorable novelty entry. Yodelling? Check!
6. NETHERLANDS: O’G3NE Lights And Shadows PREDICTION: Qualifier
Great rehearsal harmonies. One of the classiest songs in this year’s competition and the Netherlands too has really upped its game in recent years. The Wilson Phillips’ comparisons may come easily because it’s performed by an all-girl trio but they’re also fully deserved. Won The Voice Netherlands in 2014 and represented their country in 2007’s Junior Eurovision, where they were 11th of 17.
7. HUNGARY: Joci Pápai Origo PREDICTION: Qualifier
Singer, rapper and guitarist Joci is one of the older competitors in this year’s contest, wrote this himself and it’s one of the few entries in its native language (Hungarian). There’s often at least one more traditional song that does well each year and we reckon this will be it. Top 10 in the final.
8. DENMARK: Anja Nissen Where I Am PREDICTION: Qualifier
This Danish/Australian singer won The Voice Australia in 2014 and co-wrote this moody and anthemic song which needs a big performance to inject some much-needed excitement. Benefitting from big rehearsal staging and performance, we now see this pipping the song it precedes.
9. IRELAND: Brendan Murray Dying To Try
Enjoying the balloon imagery, particularly at the key change but it’s the whiny vocal that’s the problem. Songwriter Jörgen Elofsson has penned tunes for Westlife, Britney, Kelly Clarkson and Leona Lewis to name but a few. Louis Walsh is behind this year’s entry and he’s delivered a great song with a gi-normous, stand-up-from-a-stool key change. A shame it’s beyond the performer.
10. SAN MARINO: Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson Spirit Of The Night
This is Valentina’s fourth entry for San Marino and once again it is written by Ralph Siegel who wrote the German entry which won for Nicole in 1982. Wilson is a US musical theatre actor and should pep things up if the audience is tiring of Valentina on repeat. As if to prove how little uncle Ralph’s moved on since his 80s heyday, there’s even a shout out to St Elmo’s Fire. Rehearsals look great. Might inch something else out.
11. CROATIA: Jacques Houdek My Friend
A well-sung but unintentionally comic duet in which Jacques sings with himself in opera mode. Pretentious spoken-word intro is the icing on the cake. Thankfully no-one watches the semis for the LOLs, so this should stay there.
12. NORWAY: JOWST Grab The Moment PREDICTION: Qualifier
A really disappointing entry from Norway who can normally be relied upon for so much more. There’s something here and a build to the chorus but it’s not up to much. The success of Cyprus on Tuesday leads us to believe this attempt at something more of the moment might edge out Belarus.
13. SWITZERLAND: Timebelle Apollo
We’ve written down both ‘dreary’ and ‘moody’ in our notes to describe this. Which is to do it down because its perfectly accomplished if rather lacking in the feel good factor.
14. BELARUS: NAVI Story Of My Life
Repetitive shouty nonsense. Like a nightmarish party you desperately want to escape but all your exits are blocked. A toss-up between this and Serbia for Russia’s place in the final but we think the late draw puts this in pole position.
15. BULGARIA: Kristian Kostov Beautiful Mess PREDICTION: Qualifier
Runner-up in X Factor Bulgaria and a finalist in The Voice Kids Russia where he was mentored by Eurovision winner Dima Bilan. Too laidback. Inexplicably second in the betting as we type. We’re having to really concentrate on it to appreciate it, which is never a good sign. This is Bulgaria’s 11th Eurovision entry and they’ve only made the final twice, chalking up their best finish (4th) last year in Stockholm. Solid. Very much Russia’s proxy entry.
16. LITHUANIA: Fusedmarc Rain Of Revolution
If Bulgaria’s entry is titled Beautiful Mess, this is just a mess.
17. ESTONIA: Koit Toome & Laura Verona PREDICTION: Qualifier
Very 80s sounding. Like Modern Talking’s Brother Louie perhaps. Well performed and we know we shouldn’t love it because it’s absolute cheese but we absolutely do. Writer Sven Lõhmus was also behind entries by Vanilla Ninja and Suntribe. The one we’re rooting for in this semi.
18. ISRAEL: Imri I Feel Alive PREDICTION: Qualifier
One of our favourites. Like Nadam Guedj’s Golden Boy in 2015 this is a catchy, uptempo and optimistic number sung by a youngster.