PREVIEW/PREDICTIONS: Eurovision Song Contest semi 1 starring Subwoolfer, Kalush Orchestra & Zdob si Zdub

By Aline Mahrud and Neil Durham

WHEN? Tuesday 10 May 2022

WHERE? PalaOlimpico, Turin, Italy

HOW DO I WATCH? BBC3 8pm (UK time)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sees the former thrown out of this 66th Contest while the latter are now favourites to win the whole thing.

  • Read on for reasons including who we think the 10 qualifiers for the final will be from this semi

In 2021 we correctly predicted 9 of the 10 finalists from semi final 1 but how will we do this year?

  1. ALBANIA: Ronela Hajati Sekret (Ronela Hajeti) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Written by Hajeti, this is a surprisingly upbeat and pleasingly uptempo opening number from a country that has often performed most successfully with ballads. There are ethnic instruments in the mix and this is an impressive revamp from its selection last year in Festivali i Këngës.

2. LATVIA: Citi Zeni Eat Your Salad (Roberts Memmēns, Jānis Pētersons, Dagnis Roziņš, Jānis Jačmenkins) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Expect the earcatching 8th word of the opening line (‘Instead of meat, I eat veggies and pussy’) not to appear in this semi. Citi Zeni caused a bit of a stir to win this ticket beating fan favourite Aminata and I’m Letting You Go back in February and this is just a bit more uptempo and fun than that was in a Jamiroquai goes Greta Thunberg way.

3. LITHUANIA: Monika Liu Sentimentai (Sentiments) (Monika Liubinaite) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

The influence of the juries means quiet, understated, classy earworms like this will always find an audience. It’s not a crowdpleaser but is exactly the sort of song that grows on repeated listens like Goldfrapp with glockenspiels that will reward the less casual viewer. Could easily come top 10 if it makes the final but equally could struggle to do so.

4. SWITZERLAND: Marius Bear Boys Do Cry (Marius Hugli, Martin Gallop) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Switzerland won the 1st Eurovision in 1956 and repeated the trick in 1988 thanks to Celine Dion. Their recent results give the impression that, like the Netherlands, they are shaping up for a win in the near future. Bear sounds oddly like Nat King Cole and this is downbeat jury bait that one suspects will do better with them than in the televote.

5. SLOVENIA: LPS Disko (Filip Vidušin, Žiga Žvižej, Gašper Hlupič, Mark Semeja, Zala Velenšek, Jakob Korošec) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

As we write in March, this is 1 of the few entries unavailable on iTunes which is a shame because it’s missing out on many of the repeat listens it will need if it can achieve its aim of making the final. It was a surprise winner in Slovenia and has the slightly awkward cruise ship cabaret vibe of youngsters not looking at all comfortable in the suits they are wearing while rocking out to 70s disco, or Disko. Odd.

6. UKRAINE: Kalush Orchestra Stefania (Ivan Klimenko, Oleh Psiuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitaii DuzhykIhor Didenchuk) PREDICTION: Qualifier

The favourite to win Eurovision as we type which we think has more to do with Europe’s response to the country’s invasion by Russia in February than the merits of the song. Controversy surrounded the selection of the song itself which finished 2nd in the country’s Vidbir selection but earned the ticket after the winner was disqualified. Its uptempo with ethnic sounding instruments but not our winner.

7. BULGARIA: Intelligent Music Project Intention (Milen Vrabevski) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

Given that Italian rockers Måneskin won Eurovision in 2021 and went on to considerable international success you might be surprised at how few songs of that genre have been selected for this year’s Contest. This was 1 of the 1st entries to be revealed and boasts an 80s progressive dad rock sound of which we’re not especially fond. Workmanlike.

8. NETHERLANDS: S10 De diepte (The depth) (Arno Krabman, Stien den Hollander) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Sung in Dutch, we expect the juries rather than the televote to come big for this Dutch singer, rapper and songwriter who has a co-writing credit here. The Netherlands’ Eurovision build to its win in 2019 was a masterclass in using internal selections to highlight classy artists and now after that win it continues to provide interesting entries although this is 1 we’re appreciating rather than loving. We’ve seen the rehearsal clips and this is the 1 change we’re making because this live performance brings the song to life.

9. MOLDOVA: Zdob si Zdub and Fratii Advahov Trenuletel (The little train) (Zdob si Zdub, Fratii Advahov) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Zdob si Zdub are Moldova at Eurovision personified. In 2005 they finished 6th when they were joined by a drum-banging grandmother. They were 12th in 2011 and this time their turbo folk is once again working its charming magic on the story of a local train that travels across the border to Romania. Casual viewers will vote for this in their droves if it can make the final.

10. PORTUGAL: Maro Saudade, saudade (Miss, miss) (Mariana Secca, John Blanda) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

Another entry likely to find more favour with the juries than the televoters. This is classy downbeat fare that we could see in the final but finishing on the right hand side of the scoreboard, most likely towards the bottom.

11. CROATIA: Mia Dimšić Guilty Pleasure (Mia Dimšić, Vjekoslav Dimter, Damir Bačić) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Not our favourite at Dora (we very much enjoyed Mia Negovetic’s Forgive Me) but this has the benefit of sounding familiar while being original. We think this is probably the less strong of the 2 semis and therefore this could well make it through here while it might have struggled had it been in semi 2.

12. DENMARK: Reddi The Show (Chief 1, Ihan Haydar, Julia Fabrin, Remee Jackman, Siggy Savery) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

Again not the song we wanted to win Dansk Melodi Grand Prix instead preferring the old school dancefloor vibes of Fuld Effekt’s Rave med de hårde drenge (Rave with the tough boys). Co-author Chief 1 has Eurovision history yet this female McFly leaves us a little cold.

13. AUSTRIA: Lumix feat Pia Maria Halo (Anders Nilsen, Gabriele Ponte, Luca Michlmayr, Rasmus Flyckt, Sophie Alexandra Tweed-Simmons) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

A speeded-up, 90s-influenced banger represented by a DJ and singer which has lots of dancefloor appeal but might be difficult to reproduce faithfully in its live incarnation. This has much promise but will need a reasonable live showing to make good on its popularity thus far. Could be this semi’s biggest live car crash. We’d love for this to make the final but the rehearsal footage was messy and so we swap this for the Netherlands.

14. ICELAND: Systur Með hækkandi sól (With the rising sun) (Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir) PREDICTION: non-qualifier

After the joys of Daði Freyr in the last 2 years, 2021’s Best Gig monsta winner, this year’s Icelandic selection Söngvakeppnin 2022 eliminated our favourites early and chose this earnest winner against the expectations of fans. One for the juries that wouldn’t be out of place on the Jools Holland Show and equally could sneak into the final.

15. GREECE: Amanda Tenfjord Die Together (Amanda Georgiadis Tenfjord, Bjørn Helge Gammelsæter) PREDICTION: Qualifier

A curiously downbeat entry that boasts an off-putting vocal effect, is accapella for its first minute and is well fancied by the bookmakers but boasts a sentiment that leaves us a little cold post-pandemic. It’s not especially representative of its country either and Tenfjord has a Norwegian mother and a Greek father. She lived as a child in Greece before moving to Norway.

16. NORWAY: Subwoolfer Give That Wolf A Banana (Subwoolfer) PREDICTION: Qualifier

Not the entry we wanted to win this year’s Melodi Grand Prix, we said then: ‘In a straight televote we could see this win Eurovision in Turin let alone Saturday’s Melodi Grand Prix. It’s catchy, has a relatable fairytale narrative and presses many Masked Singer buttons. And yet we think it’s just too novelty and there are far more deserving songs here to win the Eurovision ticket.’ There are suspicions that A1’s Ben Adams, who co-wrote 1 of the better MGP songs, may be 1 of the singers behind those wolves’ masks.

17. ARMENIA: Rosa Linn Snap (Rosa Linn, Larzz Principato, Jeremy Dusoulet, Allie Crystal, Tamar Kaprelian, Courtney Harrell) PREDICTION: Qualifier

1 of the last songs to be revealed from this year’s crop, this internal selection has a KT Tunstall, Rolling In The Deep vibe. American co-writer Principato has written for Dua Lipa yet the true test for this act will be at the live performance which we’ve yet to see.

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