Eurovision 2018 semi-final 1: hopes and predictions (well, guesses…)

So it is almost time for the first of the two live semi-finals. The jury show took place yesterday so half the votes are already cast, though of course we don’t know the results of that. I’m both super excited and also anxious – I am actually attending the semi this evening – my first actual time at a contest show!

Picking my 10 that I’d like to go through has been super tough from this and given that this is the semi-final of death, I don’t think I can make any more than guesses on who will go through rather than predict with any confidence…


My 10 hoped for qualifiers

These have changed a little from my top 43 rankings – rehearsals in particular have shifted my view on some songs:

  • Albania
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Israel
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • F.Y.R. Macedonia
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Cyprus

(NB these are placed in their semi-final running order, not my order of preference)


Qualification chances

For what it’s worth, in this toughest of semi-finals, here is my quick assessment of qualification chances – irrespective of whether I like the song or not!

Azerbaijan

Normally a sure fire qualifier, this is borderline. Uptempo song but it is getting a bit lost in the line up and going first isn’t an advantage in the running order of this semi’s set of songs.

Qualification likelihood: Could go either way

Iceland

Widely acknowledged as the weakest song in the whole contest, nothing we’ve seem in rehearsals has changed that view, in spite of how sweet and sincere Ari is.

Qualification likelihood: Definite non-qualifier

Albania

Easily my favourite Albanian entry in a long time, Eugent’s soaring vocals should help him pick up jury points and Albania will get a fair few neighbour/diaspora televotes. But too close to call on qualification to be certain.

Qualification likelihood: Could go either way

Belgium

Sennek has recovered from some poor live vocals and imperfect initial staging to improve greatly. Qualification definitely a possibility but she’s got a poor running order slot.

Qualification likelihood: Likely qualifier

Czech Republic

Mikolas had some well publicised problems in early rehearsals (having to go to hospital with a back injury!) but he has bounced back, amended the choreography and this still looks to be heading for the Czech Republic’s best ever result.

Qualification likelihood: Definite qualifier

Lithuania

Ieva gives an incredibly lovely performance but I think this could still be overshadowed by the songs either side of it. Juries and the UK/Ireland televote may help her but will that be enough?

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely qualifier

Israel

The huge pre-contest favourite, initial rehearsals have dented those chances somewhat but Netta pulled it all together in the jury show by all accounts – the addition of the live audience really helping to elevate this. It may or may not win the whole contest, but I am sure it will qualify.

Qualification likelihood: Definite qualifier

Belarus

Alekseev has quite remarkable teeth and the staging for this is nothing short of bonkers but neither of those will be enough to push this into the final I feel. His vocals have improved but not to the point that his could beat 10 other songs in this hyper-competitive semi.

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely qualifier

Estonia

With the dress issue sorted and looking pretty amazing, and flawless rehearsals, I am sure this will qualify.

Qualification likelihood: Definite qualifier

Bulgaria

Another of the pre-contest favourites, they’ve tightened up issues identified in early rehearsals. Combined with a good running order place, they should qualify comfortably.

Qualification likelihood: Definite qualifier

F. Y. R. Macedonia

Once again, Macedonia have had a song I love only for that to just not click when it reaches the stage. Much as I still like this, it’s not going to make it.

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely qualifier

Croatia

I like this song and it’s proved to be much stronger in rehearsals than anyone had expected but I still think this will struggle to qualify – lack of core televote support and while it is quality, I do wonder if it is memorable enough.

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely qualifier

Austria

Well, I can’t deny how much I like both the song and performer – and his rehearsals have been very strong. I think this is a likely qualifier if not a dead cert to qualify.

Qualification likelihood: Likely qualifier

Greece

Greece has such a strong qualification record that even its weaker songs are in contention to qualify. Rehearsals have shown this to be one of its weaker songs after all and in semi this competitive, Greece are in trouble I think.

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely qualifier

Finland

I love Saara Aalto and and this song and would love to see her in the final – she is such a fan. But I do fear that this could the shock non-qualifier…

Qualification likelihood: Could go either way

Armenia

Armenia have a strong qualification record but this rather dull dirge makes me think that we may not see them in the final. They’ve got televoting allies in this semi but it may not be enough.

Qualification likelihood: Could go either way

Switzerland

A worthy song and is well performed but I just can’t see this picking up enough votes from juries or televotes to get it into 10th spot or higher.

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely qualifier

Ireland

At one point it seemed this would be battling for last place with Iceland but a good live performance plus bringing elements of the well-received music video to the stage does improve this. That won’t be enough though, and after Iceland, this is next least likely to qualify.

Qualification likelihood: Unlikely to qualify

Cyprus

I will confess, I placed this far too low in my top 43 rankings – the live performance and staging really is impressive. Still think it should get to the chorus quicker but this is a sure fire qualifier and is a real contender to win the whole contest now.

Qualification likelihood: Definite qualifier


Summary

Definite qualifiers

  • Czech Republic
  • Israel
  • Estonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus

Likely qualifiers

  • Belgium
  • Austria

Could go either way

  • Azerbaijan
  • Albania
  • Finland
  • Armenia

Unlikely qualifiers:

  • Lithuania
  • Belarus
  • F.Y.R. Macedonia
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Switzerland
  • Ireland

Definitely not qualifying

  • Iceland

You can watch the first semi-final on BBC Four at 8pm BST. You may spot me – but that is unlikely as I’ll be somewhere (probably deep back) in the standing section.