Jakobs’ Cracker

May 12, 2022 by

Jakobs’ Cracker

Semi-final 2 has always felt a more complicated qualification picture compared to semi 1, and heading into tonight’s live show it’s hard to entirely dismiss at least 14 of the 18 nations from possibly making it through.

Most up against it look to be North Macedonia, Georgia, Israel and Cyprus.

Some cream has risen to the top at rehearsals including Estonia and Azerbaijan. After the broken sun LED debacle, the Estonian delegation had to completely re-think the staging of ‘Hope’ and given the limited time at their disposal they’ve done a superb job. Stefan has the vocal chops, performs the routine well, and gives good camera throughout.

One of the surprises of Turin for me has been Azerbaijan. Nadir Rustamli is a brilliant live vocalist and the staging of ‘Fade To Black’ is highly effective. Despite the disadvantageous running order position of 4, Azerbaijan should have done well on the jury side last night and my expectation is, it will qualify with a degree of ease.

Sheldon Riley’s showcase vocal would have ensured some high jury rankings for him last night too, and Australia should also be progressing to the grand final.

Nadir Rustamli is a brilliant live vocalist and the staging of ‘Fade To Black’ is highly effective

Sweden and Poland are qualification locks, and while coming to Turin I had concerns Czech Rep might NQ from the pimp slot, they have done an expert job with the backing vocal support, it’s staged like a Clean Bandit set, and it looks Q material. If it goes big in the hall tonight it might even be in the argument for third place in semi 2.

Here’s a handy reprise edit of all semi 2 acts in running order:

That gives us six qualifiers, then it gets more interesting. Serbia still has question marks. We do often see the die-hard ESC fan vote having a say over which countries qualify from the semis – when televote totals are lower, you can only summise the fan vote holds more sway.

And Serbia is clearly a big fan favourite this year. It also has diaspora in places like Sweden and Australia, plus its Balkan friends Montenegro and North Macedonia to call upon for votes. But there remains a chance it is simply too alienating for the average juror and televoter alike.

It’s very leftfield, more performance art than actual song, has the early r.o. to contend with, and could easily do a Conan Osiris, which means 1.17 to qualify looks far too short and the call here is NQ.

Finland was a country I had down as a qualification lock coming to Turin and a potential top 3 finisher in semi 2. However, lead vocalist Lauri sounded ropy during rehearsals inviting doubts.

Serbia is very leftfield, more performance art than actual song, has the early r.o. to contend with, and could easily do a Conan Osiris

At last night’s jury run he performed the song much better. ‘Jezebel’ is an impactful opener, has the look of a professional rock number, and is another to add to the qualification list.

Cyprus looks like it’s struggling to make the cut. When ‘Ela’ was released this year it sounded quite forgettable and the staging and live performance in Turin has highlighted its wallpaper-y feel.

Coming after Sheldon Riley’s cabaret showmanship for Australia and before the youthful pop energy of Ireland’s Brooke, Andromache risks falling flat and is looking solid NQ material.

The six remaining in the mix are Malta, San Marino, Ireland, Romania, Montenegro and Belgium. They all have different question marks hanging over them and it is fiendishly difficult to try and work out which ones may have enough about them to make the Q list.

The fact Malta tends to over-perform in semi-final jury rankings leads me, tentatively, to give Emma Muscat a Q spot. Her song and performance are pure X Factor, offensively synthetic to my eyes and ears, but she at least carries the performance with a degree of professionalism, and it’s the sort of middle-of-the-road, ‘feel good’ song that can find an audience.

San Marino is a fan favourite which looks like forcing its Q price down to artifically short levels tonight in-running. The credibility of ‘Stripper’ takes a big hit given the OTT visuals, in particular that bucking bronco, moving it towards pastiche territory. It’s all very kitsch, style over substance, and I’m dubious Achille Lauro is any great televote magnet.

The call is NQ here but if it does scrape into the 10, be prepared for RAI to call it as the last qualifier tonight.

Romania is the stronger uptempo package compared to Israel and has the better running order, but it probably still doesn’t do quite enough to qualify.

Belgium has looked too short to qualify trading in the 1.4s and 1.5s but I think ‘Miss You’ is the sort of contemporary pop track jurors will probably rate quite highly, and Jeremie did a good job last night, so it sneaks into my 10.

The credibility of ‘Stripper’ takes a big hit given the OTT visuals, in particular that bucking bronco, moving it towards pastiche territory

Among the outsiders this evening Ireland and Montenegro make most appeal. Ireland’s Brooke has won me over at rehearsals with her exuberance on stage and the well-executed bubblegum pop of ‘That’s Rich’. Trouble is, it also feels the classic type of entry to fall between the cracks at the semi-final stage.

‘Breathe’ has enough quality about it to have achieved decent jury rankings last night, Vladana performed it well, and it looks over-priced to qualify at anything 7 or above.

And so, after much umming and ahing, my 10 qualifiers are: Sweden, Poland, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Australia, Czech Rep, Finland, Belgium, Malta and Montenegro.

It would come as no surprise to see Serbia and/or San Marino make the cut but in the ESC qualifier game it is prudent to play the odds and take the value.

Poland’s Ochman was outstanding last night and may even edge the jury vote ahead of Sweden. Cornelia was also in top form and when you are thinking about the full package of song quality, performance and staging, Sweden looks the stronger of the two, while also holding the advantage running order-wise.

Sweden should take the semi win but the price difference between Sweden and Poland looks too big. A shame we can’t back Poland at 5-1 e/w 3 places as that would look a bet to nothing.

With seven second half slots remaining in the grand final, both these nations look in a handy position to potentially benefit. And don’t forget tonight’s grand final running order draw, which will likely be posted on Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning.

Matt’s verdict:

After pointing out that jury songs would have a head start on Tuesday, I ignored my own advice and watched as the jury fuelled my 11th, 12th and 13th picks ahead of my three PV picks in 8th, 9th and 10th.

The dynamic is slightly different tonight though as without Ukraine hoovering up the PV, we have a much more level playing field. In fact, I expect the public vote to be evenly spread, with the jury songs much fewer and far between.

On that basis, I am more than happy with: Sweden, Poland, Australia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Finland and Belgium.

For my final two, I don’t see any reason for juries to be too harsh on San Marino, which is a glam-rock bonanza. On top of its PV cues, it is performed with gusto and Achille plays his role well.

My final choice comes down to a straight fight between Malta and Azerbaijan. Both well versed in the dark arts and jury darlings in the past, I’m going to side with the bigger PV pull of Malta to squeeze home in 10th.

To recap my 10 Qs are: Sweden, Poland, Australia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Finland, Belgium, San Marino and Malta.

Good luck to everyone tonight and please do let us know your 10 qualifiers and semi 2 thoughts below.

7 Comments

  1. mark dowd

    Rob…I have 8 of your 10, but Serbia and San Marino pip your Malta and Montenegro. Think juries will reward Serbian highly stylised performance art and San Marino will motor on with a decent televote.

    Totally agree that price gap Sweden/Poland to win this semi is insane. Jury points similar, but Polish televote I’d have as stronger. With second half draw, still thinking Poland top five on Saturdaylooks a decent wager.

    Would be delighted if Brooke and Circus Mircus prove me wrong!

  2. PeterNL

    This one is a bit more tricky than the first semi. There are many songs that aren’t really good, but not so bad that they can be written off either. The elephant in the room is of course that there are several countries performing that might get points based not only on song quality.

    My top 10 is as follows:
    1. Sweden
    2. Poland
    3. Australia
    4. Estonia
    5. Czechia
    6. Serbia
    7. Finland
    8. Azerbaijan
    9. Belgium
    10. San Marino

    I’m a little worried about Belgium. I always thought this should be jury top 5 in this semi, but the rehearsals haven’t been impressive. Apparently they had great plans, but because of the broken background, they had to fall back on the performance they did in an episode of The Voice.

    San Marino is really a guess, based on how it stands out in this field. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Malta takes this final spot with a high jury score.

    I’m surprised Rob is so negative about Serbia, although the reasoning makes sense. But since Serbia started participating in 2007, their worst position in a semi has been the 11th place, never missing the final by more than 6 points. This song, that received double the number of televotes of the number 2 in the national final, should be memorable enough to attract a decent PV here as well. And with a decent starting premium from Montenegro and North-Macedonia, I would be shocked if it goes wrong.

  3. Showlad

    Hey Ron and the gang 🙂 Semi Qs are more of a fun one for me, saving my focus for the big one – the Grand Final.

    I think my Austria to Q pick was based on surely no country picking a singer to front a dance song that couldn’t really sing – but I was proved wrong and even backing vox could not cover. However, Lithuania was akin to your Aunt having had too many vodkas at a family gathering and getting up to do a ‘turn’ and quite how Latvia didn’t get enough jury support with a strong televote to trump that, will forever be a mystery to me.

    I called the UK win first on here on April 1st and also calling out Sam as the new Star of Eurovision following in the footsteps of other charisma laden stars such as Conchita. I stand by that prediction.

    For tonight here’s my 10: Azerbaijan, Sweden, Poland, Australia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Finland, Belgium and Malta. I don’t see juries getting the Achille joke at all and there won’t be enough public that get it, and indeed, like Rob, a touch of Conan came to mind. Enjoy everyone!

  4. Montell

    Finland
    Serbia
    Azerbaijan
    Malta
    San Marino
    Australia
    Estonia
    Poland
    Sweden
    Czech Republic

  5. Sweden
    Poland
    Czech Rep
    Serbia
    Azerbaijan
    Australia
    Estonia
    Finland
    San Marino
    Malta
    ———-
    Israel
    Romania
    Cyprus
    Belgium
    Ireland
    Montenegro
    Georgia
    North Macedonia

    GL

  6. neomichael

    1 Sweden
    2 Poland
    3 Australia
    4 San Marino
    5 Finland
    6 Serbia
    6 Czech Republic
    8 Azerbaijan
    9 Ireland
    10 Estonia
    ————————-
    11 Malta
    12 Montenegro
    13 Belgium
    14 Romania
    15 Cyprus
    16 Georgia
    17 Israel
    18 North Macedonia

    Go Ireland!!! 😀

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