So one semi-final down, and we have ten countries that will join the “Big Five” and host nation Azerbaijan in Saturday’s final:
QUALIFYING – Iceland, Greece, Albania, Romania, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Hungary, Moldova & Ireland
OUT – Montenegro, Latvia, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Israel, San Marino, Austria.
It was a pretty solid semi-final, but perhaps there were few standout hits. There were certainly some standout misses, and fortunately these were eliminated. Montenegro was worse than I could have imagined. San Marino had the catchy tune and the backdrop but the delivery was lacking in sparkle. Israel was an oddball entry that I was warming to but Europe didn’t.
Switzerland and Belgium both gave better performances than I was planning, but sadly it wasn’t enough. Belgium certainly I thought had a great shot. I LOVE Latvia and Finland, but there was a sad inevitability when they didn’t get through, but they certainly gave it their best.
As for the winners, despite a nail-biter for Jedward, the last four announced qualifiers were as expected. I was braced for a shock defeat for Greece but it seems their 100% record lives on, but will they make the top 10 for a ninth year running? Cyprus outshone them in a rare moment, and I really think they have a shot at a great result.
The Russian grannies were the best I’ve seen them, but that still left me bemused and concerned at the prospect of a victory. I’m struggling to see any of the other qualifiers as winners, though I feel Iceland, Cyprus and Ireland may have done very well.
As for the others, not quite shocking but I had to raise an eyebrow at Hungary and Albania making the cut. Hungary outperformed my expectations with the song, but it was a good show. Albania could have gone either way, but fortunately it’s paid off. As a finalist it’s a total wildcard, but I think coming from a vocal-lite semifinal is one thing, but in the final they have to face off against Spain and probably one of the big Balkan ballads.
Denmark were just as expected, I don’t really rate the song, it’s a bit dreary and I hope it doesn’t do too well on Saturday (love the country though, Danish readers!). Romania and Moldova predictably rounded off the 10 qualifiers with entertaining efforts with widespread Euro-appeal, but I don’t think they have the killer instinct to take on the big songs in the final.
All in all, no major upsets, though I would have liked Latvia to have made it over Hungary, and Belgium over Denmark, but you can’t have it all.
The show was a bit clunky on the presenting, but happily upstaged the TERRIBLE commentary and interviewing provided by BBC3. Conscious of not being able to compete with Germany or Russia’s massive budgets, they packed plenty of amazing visuals into Crystal Hall, and it was a pretty slick show. Love the hall being lit outside with the countries’ flags!
The presenters looked a little uncomfortable, and that whole nonsense with the “golden ticket” (which didn’t have any significance to the results other than being the last random selection) was a bit odd. Did Elgar miss one of the Big Five too, the first time?
I managed 7/10 qualifiers at least, God knows why I thought San Marino were going to get through though! Well, you live and learn…
Semi-final two is on Thursday night, which promises to be a bit higher-stakes as Sweden take to the stage as well as a slew of potent Balkan efforts. Read up on the semi-finalists and other entries by clicking “Eurovision 2012” at the top of the page.