Tomorrow night I get to see the B&W Hallerne, the former shipyard warehouse that has been transformed into the Eurovision theater of our dreams, and the “jury rehearsal” of the first semifinal. This is the show exactly as viewers will see it Tuesday night for the first semifinal. Sixteen countries’ representatives will give their best try, and after the jury scores Monday night’s show and the televoters do the same on Tuesday, ten of those sixteen will proceed to the Saturday night Grand Final.
I will know a LOT more about who have the best chances tomorrow night, but to test my skills against everyone else in the press and fan communities, let’s make some predictions so far. Here are the contestants in their performance order for the first semi.
I think there are the entries that have it all, artist, song and stage presentation. They are virtually certain to qualify. From this group, Armenia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Hungary are the shoo-ins.
On the other hand, there are the entries that are missing one or more key component, and that lack dooms their chances. I think Latvia is doomed–their song is slight and nothing more than pleasant, and the word around Copenhagen is all about the friction and lack of chemistry between the band members (they have already stopped speaking to each other, according to onlookers who have seen their guest appearances). Portugal came back to the contest this year riding a wave of goodwill, but basically blew it and sent a really slight “summer vacation in the sun” song that will vanish by the time the phone lines open to viewers. I personally like San Marino and Valentina’s grand easy-listening diva style. But if she failed to qualify last year with a stronger song, I think her little country still hasn’t developed the network of support to get votes across Europe. I think that this might be the year that breaks Moldova‘s string of very strong scores, and Cristina’s dark, strange song isn’t going to electrify the voters.
So five definites and four pretty definitely not. Of the remaining seven, five will go through and two will fall by the wayside. I think Albania, Iceland, Montenegro and the Netherlands are on the bubble. None of them is hopeless, and I actually really like Iceland’s goofy “No Prejudice” anthem and Montenegro’s smooth Balkan ballad “Moj Svijet”. I need to see them on stage and ascertain who might have something to reach through the screen and grab voters’ attention.
Belgium has an excellent singer and a strange song and presentation that viewers will love or hate. I give it a tentative yes. In a fairer world, Russia‘s lame song would not qualify, but I think even this year there are enough Russian ethnics throughout the former Soviet republics to get them through to snab at least a medium level result in the finals. And Estonia is not the most original dance pop number, but I think its uptempo qualities will help it this year.
In an hour or so I get to see the opening ceremony and red carpet entrances to the opening party, and then tomorrow it all revs up on the stage. It’s going to be exciting! After the show tomorrow, look for me to revise some of these totally unqualified guesses (or maybe not?),