Here’s part 2 of our experiment to see which of us is better at making predictions: Jen, who is making her choices based on evidence and logic, and Chris, who is picking flags out of a hat.
To make our choices, Jen viewed national final performances and rehearsal footage, followed the reactions from those on site, consulted the odds, and compiled a list of likely countries who might give each country votes based on several years worth of previous voting histories given not only to the country, but to songs of similar genre and style.
Chris and Kieran picked flags out of a hat.
Jen found the 2nd Semi much harder than the 1st. There are 17 songs, 10 will qualify. Of the 17, 5 seemed likely in, 3 seemed likely out, leaving 9 songs for the remaining 5 spots. In other words, Jen struggled to place more than half the songs and leaned on gut instinct way more than she wanted to.
Given the probability associated with a random selection, Chris should expect 6 correct picks.
Latvia: PeR – “Here We Go”
Jen says: NQ. Going first is a great thing for Latvia. However, a favorable spot in the running order is unlikely to change their fate. Enjoy now.
Chris says: Q. “I’m the man on the moon/Call me Andy Kaufman” is pretty much the best line from any song ever.
San Marino: Valentina Monetta – “Crisalide”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. I’ve gone back and forth about San Marino. The song is a fan favorite, but I’m not sure that they’ve fully made the case with their staging. It may come down to how she performs on the night. I’m saying NQ because, again, history tells us there are unlikely to be more than 5 qualifiers out of the first half.
Chris says: NQ. Plucky little San Marino. They should have performed a song about Instagram.
FYR Macedonia: Esma & Lozano – “Pred da se razdeni”
Jen says: NQ. Macedonia has struggled to strike the right balance between Esma and Lozano. They ran out of time.
Chris says: NQ. I kinda want to see Esma beatbox.
Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov – “Hold Me”
Jen says: Q. Azerbaijan’s qualification prospects have never been in question, but their stock has shot way up during rehearsals thanks to their professionalism and attention to detail. There’s also the small matter of a showstopping production design.
Chris says: NQ. Man in the box? That is so Alice In Chains circa 1991.
Finland: Krista Siegfrids – “Marry Me”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. A girl-on-girl kiss here, some new bridesmaid dresses there, but not much has changed about the staging since the Finnish national final. Our initial visceral hate toward this song has softened upon multiple listenings, but since so little has changed I’ve got to ask how the Semi-final audience (and juries) will respond to it on first listen. Katy Perry has charted in plenty of countries that vote in this semi, so will they draw a favorable comparison given her energy level and cheekiness, or will they be turned off by the theme? If Finland’s neighbors weigh in favorably, and every country in which Katy Perry has charted gives her just a few points, I can get Krista to about 60 points and past the likely threshold for qualification.
Chris says: NQ. I hope I’m right about this for the sake of everyone in the green room during the Final.
Malta: Gianluca Bezzina – “Tomorrow”
Jen says: Q. I don’t like the amount of movement he’s doing onstage, but, like the Babushki, part of his Gianluca’s charm is the complete joy he radiates just being on stage and singing for an audience. You can’t help but like this guy. The song is adorable and winning. The final image on the bench is great.
Chris says: Q. Also, like the Babushki, I see him and think, “oh my god he is so fucking CUTE HE VISITED A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL ON HIS DAY OFF!!!”
Bulgaria: Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov – “Samo Shampioni”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. “Samo Shampioni,” when compared to 2007’s “Water,” lacks something, but their sound is unique and they come across well on camera. What makes it difficult for me is that most of Bulgaria’s biggest supporters from 2007 are voting in this Semifinal. In the 2007 final, 5 countries gave Elitsa and Stoyan 8+ points; 4 of them are voting in this Semi. They could cross the 50 point threshold if these countries vote the same way again, but I don’t know if voters will engage with Bulgaria in the same way again.
Chris says: NQ. If Cezar makes it though, do you think Krassimir Avramov will kick out his TV screen?
Iceland: Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson – “Ég á Líf”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. If this contest is still about plain ol’ honest songwriting and good singing, then Iceland deserves to make it through. The presentation is straightforward but complements the song.
Chris says: Q. We are totally going to Iceland next year. This is going to happen.
Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathonas Iakovides – “Alcohol is free”
Jen says: Q. The song is infectious, high energy, and a lot of fun. And I think many of us can get behind its message.
Chris says: Q. To be transparent, Kieran clearly looked into the hat to make sure he picked Greece.
Israel: Moran Mazor – “Rak Bishvilo”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. Stylistically, this song is not unlike previous entries from Boaz (2008) and Harel Skaat (2010). If both those qualified, then one might posit that this should too.
Chris says: Q. Have you seen the official video for “Rak Bishvilo?” It is brilliant. Brilliant.
Armenia: Dorians – “Lonely Planet”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. Gor is a strong front man and I like their use of lighting in this song. It’s being presented as well as can possibly be. However, rock entries often struggle, and this one takes a long time to get going.
Chris says: Q. What most people don’t realize is that the planet in question is Neptune.
Hungary: ByeAlex – “Kedvesem”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. Even though it’s in Hungarian, the cadence and the lilt helps you understand what the song is about. The mood is chill, but I’ve been impressed by the intensity of support ByeAlex has managed to generate. Finally, if there are rewards for authenticity, then we should see that reflected there, because Alex is unquestionably doing this thing.
Chris says: NQ. Kieran told us, “Everyone sings loud but ByeAlex. ByeAlex doesn’t have to sing loud.”
Norway: Margaret Berger – “I Feed You My Love”
Jen says: Q. Lots of attention has been paid to Denmark, Ukraine, Russia, and increasingly Azerbaijan, but Norway has been steady throughout rehearsals. Little has changed from the Norwegian MGP, and it remains solid as it ever was.
Chris says: Q. I for one love the Norway ride at EPCOT Center and am also not ashamed to admit that the first time I ever ate gjetost cheese was at the Norwegian restaurant there. It’s like Norway fed me its love.
Albania: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko – “Identiet”
Jen says: Q. On the bubble. I like the song and really like that they went back to the symphonic backing track. And Bledar is known in Albania. I count at least 5 neighbor and diaspora countries in this Semi that could give them good points. However, I am underwhelmed by the staging.
Chris says: Q. I’m thinking of doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to go to Tirana for Festivali i Këngës.
Georgia: Nodi & Sophie – “Waterfall”
Jen says: Q. A high quality, archetypical Eurovision entry this year from the Georgians, from the song to the staging. Qualifications schmalifications, bring on the formalwear.
Chris says: Q. I worked with someone from Georgia at a previous job. One day she told me I needed to marry a good Georgian woman. I told her I was already married. She asked what nationality my wife was. I told her part English and part Austrian. She replied, “That’s half good.”
Switzerland: Takasa (nee Heilsarmee) – “You and me”
Jen says: NQ. Switzerland always faced an uphill climb. By doing little more than standing in a line and singing, they’ve done themselves no favors.
Chris says: NQ. There was a brief time where Switzerland had our second favorite entry this year. This was before Christmas of last year.
Romania: Cezar – “It’s My Life”
Jen says: NQ. On the bubble. There’s no getting around the fact that Cezar is a highly trained, outstanding singer, and despite all that’s going on in the staging, he has control and complete confidence. For the longest time I was stubbornly keeping him in the Q column knowing that this was always going to be camp, and there are plenty of countries in this semi that have historically supported Romania. But… I just can’t. From what I’ve been able to tell it’s not funny, it’s uncomfortable.
Chris says: Q. If this prediction turns out to be right, I will be happy because Cezar is going to be the life of our Eurovision party. Hell, he may be anyway.