After the VERY competitive first half of 2013’s first semifinal, the second half may seem a bit motley and random. Balkan hiphop followed by Baltic poprock, a dance stomper followed by a soft ballad in Greek. It is all very Eurovision. As opposed to the ladies club of the first half, this second half is more equitable, four male and four female-fronted acts. And I think there are a few more songs that we can rule out.
First up, Montenegro’s popular hiphop act, WhoSee. “Igranka” has made a big splash in the Balkan region, and after a long string of women singing ballads, it is sure to stand out. This is not the type of song that usually does well with voters, but having a modern upbeat chart-topping entry after a slow period will definitely give “Igranka” the best position possible.
Lithuania will be very hard to tip this year. Andrius has sometimes been fine on stage, and sometimes pretty bad. “Something” sounds like something The Killers might have put on an album a few years ago, only with a thick Baltic accent. Even though he has lost the top hat and tails look from the national finals and switched to something more mainstream, I think he could have a tough time reaching voters.
Alyona from Belarus made a smart move in switching songs to her faux-ethnic party stomper “Solayoh”. As the only song of this style in the first semi, with a good performance she should have no trouble reaching the finals.
The OTHER Aliona, Aliona with an “I”, comes next, with Moldova’s “O Mie”. She also switched her entry up a bit, and swapped out her indecipherable English for the Moldovan version that she seems more comfortable with. Despite Moldova’s excellent qualification record, I think “O Mie” is not a standout in this lineup, and might vanish when the televoters decide who to call in for.
Ireland chose someone other than Jedward this year. Ryan Dolan is bringing some upbeat dance pop to semi one, and that’s another welcome change. He’s pretty strong, and could be considered a contender for qualification. But coming up two entries later is Belgium’s “Love Kills”, which has a better position near the end, and if Roberto’s vocals hold up on stage he could siphon votes away from Ireland.
Despina Olympiou from Cyprus is an experienced singer, and should perform well on the Eurovision stage. But her soft ballad, “An Me Thimase”, may fail to make any strong impression. I think she will have a tough time reaching the finals in this field.
As previously mentioned, Belgium’s French broadcaster RTBF chose “The Voice” winner Roberto Bellarosa in an internal selection, and the public voted for him to perform “Love Kills”. At first this seemed really weak, but after a makeover it is a really fine radio pop song. The question is whether he can sing it well enough on stage to sell the song to the Eurovision voting public. He could not have had a better draw in the running order, so he is now in the “maybe” category.
Ending the show is Serbia with Moje 3 singing “Ljubav Je Svuda”. These three talent show winning girls have the pimp slot with an upbeat song. Even though they are singing in Serbian, the fact that Croatia, Slovenia, and Montenegro are all voting in this semi should mark them as easy qualifiers.
So there we have the first semi. Reports from the rehearsals could change everyone’s appraisals, but as of right now I would predict the following qualifiers. In the certain category, I would put Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, and probably the Netherlands (although Anouk may suffer for being last up in that string of contenders). In the fairly certain category I would put Belarus and Serbia. In the strong possibilities category I would put Slovenia (after Hannah put on a great performance last night in Amsterdam). Now we have 7 ladies and no men qualifying, so I think that we should put Ireland and Belgium in as borderline possibilities, with Austria, Montenegro and Estonia. With those 12 as possibilities, I think that makes it tough for Croatia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Moldova. We will see how the stage presentation shakes things up in just four weeks!