This time last year, we were mourning the failure of Finland to make the final, but no such worries this year I am pleased to say. And what’s more, I was there in person this time! My first ever time actually at one of the contests, so it was a very special experience – and I have got the second semi-final and jury final still to go!
This was labelled as the semi-final of death, and as a “bloodbath”, given how many popular and quality songs were in this semi and there was a real sense that we might be losing some of our favourites. In the end, I think the majority of my favourites got through, bar Macedonia but I knew that was doomed from the start.
So in summary, here are the qualifiers and non-qualifiers:
Qualifiers: Albania, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Israel, Estonia, Bulgaria, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Cyprus
Non-qualifiers: Azerbaijan, Iceland, Belgium, Belarus, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Armenia, Switzerland
I think my predictions/guesses (and hopes) weren’t too far off the mark in the end.
Ireland I clearly didn’t expect to get through but it’s great to see them back and with staging that will clearly give Russia a few headaches in showing on live TV!
Belgium not qualifying was biggest surprise in terms of who we expected to qualify but I did think that this wasn’t a certain qualifier based on the rehearsals. In the actual arena we couldn’t seem to hear her as well as other artists but watching it on the official YouTube channel it seems it was OK on TV so that isn’t the reason for Sennek’s demise.
Lithuania got through and actually that doesn’t seem a surprise given what a sweet performance is given – it’s now in the Top 5 in the betting to win!
Very pleased to see Albania go through and that is the first male solo ever to reach final from Albania.
Azerbaijan lost their 100% qualification record. In addition, with Armenia’s failure to qualify, this will be the first Eurovision grand final since 2005 with neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan in the final.
So pleased to see Saara Aalto in the final – she did so well, and looked so emotional to have got through – she’s a big Eurovision fan and this really is a dream come true for her.
Great relief for me that Austria went through given I was wearing a Minipops t-shirt of Austria!
Cyprus really is going for the win – the pyro must have cost a fortune. It would be a good winner as she really was awesome!
And finally, being at the contest itself really did live up to all my expectations and then some. We also managed to bag a good spot, actually near the front (to the side) but which gave us a great view. I can’t wait for the next two shows I have tickets for, even if my legs and knees might not quite be ready yet!