Semi 2 To Go PeR Shaped?

Mar 23, 2013 by

Semi 2 To Go PeR Shaped?

Time to put semi-final 2 under the microscope for the first time. It is, on paper, more competitive, with 17 nations fighting it out for the 10 qualifying spots. While semi 1 has a plethora of solo females in the 1st half, causing something of a headache for SVT, the 1st half of semi 2 gives it a few more options to play with.

As the opening song it looks a straight choice between either Finland’s uptempo bubblegum pop effort, ‘Marry Me’, and Latvia’s entertaining rap number by PeR, ‘Here We Go’, to get the party started on the evening of Thursday May 16 at the Malmo Arena.

Firstly, a question to the good people of Finland: how could you possibly have thought the Katy Perry-lite ‘Marry Me’ was a better choice for Malmo than the exquisite ‘We Should Be Through’ by Mikael Saari? This has to go down as one of the most puzzling national final results this season.

Back to the semi 2 show opener question. We would go with ‘Here We Go’ with its Primal Scream ‘Loaded’ trumpets, and are happy to declare it a bit of a guilty pleasure this year. It is a shame rap gets such a bad… rap at the ESC, especially among juries, as there’s more spark and creativity going on in this song than you’ll find in countless formulaic ESC songs heading to Malmo this year, and yet Latvia faces an uphill struggle to qualify.

The 2 male/female ethno duets of Macedonia and Bulgaria will need to be kept apart in this semi, as will the solo males from Azerbaijan, Iceland and Malta. San Marino has potential USP in this section as the only solo female ballad. Funnily enough, it’s the same story for Israel in the 2nd half of this semi.

Azerbaijan’s recent ESC victory in 2011 and perceived voting strength may well see it get an early slot here. We wonder if the returning Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov (5th in 2007 with ‘Water’) will get some preferential treatment in terms of a later position in the 1st half, and San Marino too, given its minnow status, and Valentina’s failure to qualify last year. So we would expect to see something like this:

Latvia
Azerbaijan
Macedonia
Malta
Finland
Iceland
Bulgaria
San Marino

It is the 2nd half of semi 2 that creates issues for SVT with 4 songs offering a rock sound to a greater or lesser degree in Norway, Switzerland, Armenia and Albania. Certainly the latter 2 need to be kept apart. As a show closer, the 3 candidates we would be considering are Norway, Albania and Greece.

Greece’s voting power may see it overlooked for this role. Given we are predicting Denmark opening semi 1, it would be kind of fitting if Sweden’s other neighbour, and strongly fancied nation to win ESC 2013 in Norway, closes semi 2. We are doing SVT’s job for them here, again, but we reckon this would make for a good mix:

Greece
Hungary
Albania
Israel
Switzerland
Romania
Armenia
Georgia
Norway

By the way, the running orders will be revealed latest March 29 but possibly earlier so keep your eyes peeled monitoring the eurovision.tv website next week.

Whereas semi 1 has greater strength in the 1st half, semi 2 looks to be stronger in the 2nd half. There are some interesting duels among the 17 songs in semi 2. The 2 quirky solo males from Malta and Hungary will be competing for the same sort of jury/viewer vote, as will San Marino and Israel as the only 2 solo female ballads in this semi, as will Macedonia and Bulgaria as 2 ethno male/female duets.

The Swiss entry, ‘You And Me’, sung by Takasa, including 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer who will set a record as the oldest musician to perform on the Eurovision stage, will be an interesting one to watch during rehearsals. There were concerns the song would be a guaranteed fail in Malmo because Salvation Army uniforms are barred. They have changed their name and styling since, and the joy of the song has certainly been transferred to the official video.

For those itching to get involved in semi-final betting, which is clearly risky ahead of knowing the precise running order, we are struggling to work out why Finland is rated 1.35 to progress to the final. While happy to acknowledge ‘Marry Me’, Team DingDong, and all of the other kooky Krista Siegfrids paraphernalia is aimed squarely at teens, there is no escaping the fact ‘Marry Me’, however energetically performed by Krista, or vocally on-the-money she is, is a mediocre pop tune at best.

It has echoes of Getter Jaani’s 2011 entry for Estonia, ‘Rockefeller Street’, which scraped through in 9th place in a 19-strong semi before bombing out in 24th in the final. Whereas Estonia could rely on plenty of points from its allies in that semi, Finland doesn’t have the same luxury this year and on our rough figures only Switzerland has less voting strength in this semi.

Not only that but while Getter sang from the handy late slot of 15, Krista is going to be lumbered with a slot in the first 8. It is hard to imagine jurors being impressed with ‘Marry Me’ and even if Krista gets the opening berth – and she is probably favourite to do so – she may well still struggle to get into the upper echelons of the televote. Finland, ahead of rehearsals, looks a borderline qualifier at best so 2.95 for it not to qualify for the final with Bwin looks a bit of value.

Much like semi 1, this semi is competitive enough for some value to appear once qualification markets gain liquidity and we get some high street odds. What are your thoughts on semi 2? Do you share similar reservations regarding the Finnish entry? Drop us a line below.

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13 Comments

  1. Jamie

    If anyone at the EBU had any imagination, they would introduce a People’s Choice pick for ESC. Viewers would choose an extra song for inclusion in each semi-final from a selection of songs which failed narrowly in their national finals. Mikael Saari (Finland) and Grete Paia (Estonia) would be the obvious picks this year. This would also reward countries which go to the trouble of having a national final.

    I agree that Marry Me is not very good, and that it is just Katy Perry-lite, but that is good enough for fourth place in my personal rankings (ignoring voting strength etc) in this very poor semi-final. I don’t bet on semi-final markets before live rehearsals though, so the 1.35 is nothing to do with me.

    I’d start this semi-final with Bulgaria. The vertical drumming bit near the end is great and the performers give the impression that they are really enjoying themselves.

  2. Rob

    People’s Choice would be brilliant. There have been, once again, some poor decisions regarding nations’ final songs this year.

    Trouble is, national final formats are flawed. One, they often have juries consisting of people associated with the music industry in that country but who have no comprehension of what is required for a song to succeed at Eurovision. Two, a nation’s demographic of televoters cannot be trusted either to make an informed choice.

    There has been much talk of it being a great shame Winny Puhh did not make it from Estonia but it was much more of a mistake not sending Grete Paia. Moldova would have been better served by Tatiana Heghea’s ‘A Brighter Day’ too. Her song, like Grete’s, was not only excellent but also distinctive.

    Gigi Radics for Hungary, Aimee for Ireland… always a shame when better songs disappear into the ESC ether. Interesting you rate ‘Marry Me’ that highly as a song. It’s one of those when it’s hard not to factor in that initial visceral response, & ‘Marry Me’, like ‘Gravity’, is like fingernails down a blackboard for this particular listener 🙂

    • Jamie

      I wouldn’t say that I rate Marry Me highly. Its fourth place in my rankings reflects the fact that most of the other songs are either even worse or that they are so bland that they made no impact on me at all.

      Norway and maybe San Marino are the only songs I rate at the moment in this semi final. Norway is a good song, though maybe not televote friendly, and San Marino is a half-way decent song with a good comeback story.

  3. Chiggs

    Norway are the clear favourites to win this semi imo due to the quality of the song. The fact they’re trading only slighter lower than denmark who are in a much tougher heat has lead me to lump on.

    Georgia is my backup but I’d be surprised if Norway doesn’t win.

    Ill look to buy countries for qualification once the running order is released; there’s quite afew maybes from this semi compared to the other.

  4. Rob

    Hi Chiggs. Thanks for posting. Holding off from a 1st proper betting analysis of the semis until we see the r.o.s & we get more prices across the high st bookies.

    Guess the big question with Norway is whether Marge, with help from the Norwegian sound boffins, can recreate that special sound quality we heard in the Norway NF. 1st rehearsal of this will be eagerly awaited. Being in the Norway camp AP at double figure odds, very much hope she is able to deliver.

    Would agree about the maybes in this semi which is good news from a qualification pricing perspective. It will hopefully provide plenty of value both as a backer & a layer.

  5. National finals are flawed? Interesting point of view.

    The big question is perhaps what the purpose of stageing a national final is. It seems that many fans believe that they are the nuclear audience, that everything is arranged for their entertainment.

    It is not. Most broadcasters that stage national finals do so in order to offer a big show for the domestic audience, aimed to please the home crowd and preferrably achieve good ratings.

    The Finnish national final has struggled to reach its audience in later years, resulting in the 2012 face lift with the new UMK format. 2013 saw the most extensive and positive media coverage for years and in the end the televoting public got to chose the winner.

    Krista – being a skilled PR person – had the advantage of being well-known from another format (The Voice of Finland) and seemingly broke through to that younger segment of viewers that Yle has been trying to attract for years. After her victory, she has been all over the place, secured a good record deal and been interviewed by quite a few important publications. All of this is very important for Yle in order to secure that more talent wants to take part in UMK next year.

    If the national final winner is a winner on home ground, it sometimes matters less if it is successful also internationally.

    Media-wise and future-wise (and according to the Finnish televote) the right song won. Then so what if the eurovision fans believe in it or not?

    They hardly ever believe in Finland anyway, do they?

    • Rob

      Thanks for posting Tobson. NFs are flawed for the precise reasons you outline – the dichotomy that exists between creating a show that attracts the biggest domestic audience possible, with no consideration for which song would be best to achieve a good result at the wider ESC.

      The music tastes of the domestic audience, & those motivated to vote in a NF, are far removed from what takes place at the wider ESC. If you have an act like Krista, & give the final say to the televoters, you clearly risk giving teenagers too big a say in the decision.

      Here in the UK we have been just as culpable in NFs – we voted for the likes of Daz Sampson in 2006 & Scooch in 2007 (hangs his head in shame) to represent us. ‘Flying The Flag’ quite staggeringly reached no5 in the UK chart.

      It will sound arrogant but the people who are best placed to judge ESC songs objectively, & assess whether they will succeed at the ESC, are the professionals who make a living from trading the ESC markets, such as yours truly, he writes modestly 🙂

      My finely honed instincts as an ESC trader tell me Mikael Saari would have been a much stronger contender for a high finishing position compared to Krista, & Krista will most likely finish outside the top 10 in the final (if she qualifies). But there are unknown variables still to factor in, such as Krista’s live vocal, the staging of the song, & its running order position, both in the semi &, if it progresses, the final.

      Finland has had some very decent ESC songs down the years. Pernilla was unlucky last year not to qualify. It was a decent ballad in a very competitive semi. ‘Da, Da, Dam’ was also very good & deservedly got on the podium in its semi. Its failure in the final was down to its terrible draw in 1.

  6. I agree with you completely that experts would most likely be better at selecting an entry that would score well at the Eurovision.

    Like Denmark 1995 – that entry was handpicked by five experts, it was well recieved by fans and press alike, it ended in fifth place in Dublin.

    And yet the Danish public greeted it with indifference, it didn’t become a hit, it didn’t do anything to help Eurovision in Denmark at a time when ESC interest was very low in that market.

    In the long run, I think you must let the audience in if you want to keep the contest popular. For Finland it is more vital to have an entry that Finland likes, so the audience can keep their fingers crossed for the entry they enjoy.

    • Rob

      I agree – it is imperative the public have a say & why ESC fans here in the UK feel aggrieved when the BBC goes for a very unwise internal selection in the last few years.

      The best solution is too unsubtly guide the public vote towards the song which would be the strongest song to represent a particular nation at the ESC. But this pre-supposes producers understand what constitutes the strongest song for Eurovision – & the fact is they regularly get this hopelessly wrong.

      We have this manipulation of the public vote on shows here in the UK such as X Factor which is incredibly blatant, & highly sophisticated in the methods it adopts to control the public vote. What traders call the ‘pimp slot’ – last to perform – for instance, is invariably the most advantageous position in the running order in terms of the televote.

      Add in some editing time for said contestant weeping over a recently deceased relative – the sort of tawdry tactics they will use on X Factor – or other sympathy content, and an even bigger televote total is assured.

      Of course, you can also have jury members raving about a song or unsubtly derailing a song with negative comments, which will sway the public. But again, these music professionals need to be bigging up the right song for ESC, & criticising the ones that would be destined to fail at the ESC.

      Following all the NFs during the qualification period, it is clear these so-called experts that sit on national juries are often negligent in failing to recognise which songs would do best on the Eurovision stage.

      Finland should have got Mikael Saari to break down in tears recounting his harrowing upbringing or some such – hey presto, he wins the televote & goes on to represent Finland at the ESC, & Finland achieves its highest placing in the final since Lordi in 2006 😉

    • Henry VIII

      Marry Me is awful unoriginal bubble gum pop imo. Krista Siegfrids is performing it at the London Eurovision Party.

      However among the other contestants so far performing are Ukraine’s Zlata Ognevich “Gravity” and Belarus Alyona Lanskaya ”Solayoh”. I can’t make it there but it would be worth going for those two alone.

      Rob are you going to it? See if Zlata can win you over?

      It’s at The Shadow Lounge, Soho in London’s West End on April 21. http://escxtra.com/london/

      • Rob

        Yes, I will be attending in London, Henry, & will write a report afterwards. Will also be in Amsterdam the week before for the much bigger ESC concert taking place there, & will report on that too.

  7. Rob

    semi-final running orders revealed:

    First Semi-Final

    Austria
    Estonia
    Slovenia
    Croatia
    Denmark
    Russia
    Ukraine
    The Netherlands
    Montenegro
    Lithuania
    Belarus
    Moldova
    Ireland
    Cyprus
    Belgium
    Serbia

    Second Semi-Final

    Latvia
    San Marino
    F.Y.R. Macedonia
    Azerbaijan
    Finland
    Malta
    Bulgaria
    Iceland
    Greece
    Israel
    Armenia
    Hungary
    Norway
    Albania
    Georgia
    Switzerland
    Romania

    More thoughts to follow…

  8. It seems ESC this year will be great!

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