The 2nd Semi, AKA the Battle of the Ballads, AKA the Balkan Showdown. Five of the 6 former Yugoslav Republics are in this 2nd semi. Of these, 5 of 5 sent ballads. There is some good material in this Semi, but like with Serbia’s draw of the first spot, it appears in unexpected places. The gender mix is also strange in this draw. Songs 6-11 are all female soloists, whereas songs 12-16 are male soloists. Camp moments are infrequent, but they are there and, importantly, are spread out across the evening. When those moments come they’ll get a big reaction because we need the release.
- Serbia: Željko Joksimovic – “Nije ljubav stvar”
High quality ballad, could qualify from anywhere. In the Semi, all he needs is Top 10.
- FYR Macedonia: Kaliopi – “Crno i blo”
Rough draw for Macedonia. Kaliopi’s repetitive song is likely to be forgotten by the time we have made it through the parade of female balladeers later in the evening.
- The Netherlands: Joan Franka – “You and Me”
- Malta: Kurt Calleja – “This Is the Night”
Amateur hour. Joan may as well keep the headdress. She needs to do what she can to make an impression. Both these songs will come and go without impact.
- Belarus: Litesound – “We Are the Heroes”
The new pop arrangement does it no favors going right after Malta.
- Portugal: Filipa Sousa – “Vida Minha”
Portugal might have had a shot with the juries, but with Bosnia going 17th those hopes are probably shot.
- Ukraine: Gaitana – “Be My Guest”
By this point we will be ready for a big gay anthem.
- Bulgaria: Sofi Marinova – “Love Unlimited”
Potty break. Bad luck for this confusing dance song, coming right after Ukraine.
- Slovenia: Eva Boto – “Verjamem”
- Croatia: Nina Badric – “Nebo”
- Sweden: Loreen – “Euphoria”
Trio of intense songs with talented female vocalists. Loreen’s arrangement gives her more energy than the rest. Eva’s youth should work in her favor. Croatia is the most borderline of the 3. But all 3 are good, all 3 could qualify.
- Georgia: Anri Jokhadze – “I’m a Joker”
We will be so desperately in need of a laugh by this point. Georgia comes at a great time for the viewing audience, and gives us decisive break in tone from the set of sincere ballads. Won’t help it any though.
- Turkey: Can Bonomo – “Love me back”
A follow-on to the breath of fresh air. Anyone who got the pick after Georgia was going to be golden.
- Estonia: Ott Lepland – “Kuula”
Big ballad sandwiched between Georgia/Turkey and Slovakia, all harder, more upbeat male songs, and well away from Serbia. Good draw, great positioning relative to others. If Estonia can’t do it from here it wasn’t going to happen.
- Slovakia: Max Jason Mai – “Don’t Close Your Eyes”
Slovakia’s hard rock number feels out of sync with the rest of the show. Not sure if that’s a bad thing or a good thing.
- Norway: Tooji – “Stay”
Great draw for Tooji. Not a lot of schlager in the competition this year. But between Estonia/Slovakia and Bosnia/Lithuania, he’s surrounded by better singers. If Tooji doesn’t pull off the vocal it’ll seem worse by comparison.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina: Maya Sar – “Korake ti znam”
Will get the “Isn’t this Pleasant a la Lithuania 2011” jury vote. A sure qualifier.
- Lithuania: Donny Montell – “Love is Blind”
If he does the blindfold and cartwheel, it’ll be the first laugh we’ll have had since Georgia. But Donny can sing, and he may be able to hold his own in this ballad-packed Semi. Going late will help.
Bosnia & Herzegovina