Qualifying from this semi-final was always going to be hard, as it has been touted to be of a higher level than the previous one which took place on Tuesday. Where there any surprises? Of course, but in a semi-final where at least 12 entries deserved qualification, it always meant that sine entries were going to be left out.
The biggest shock of the night certainly was the qualification of Cyprus, who last qualified for the Eurovision Final in 2004 where they got a top ten finish and thus won a place in the final for the following year. Cyprus presented a song, similar to the Belgian song, which won over the public on Tuesday and it seems that it also worked tonight. One must note that few predicted this entry to qualify, although through the rehearsals, the media noted that the song is a potential qualifier – the doubt surrounding it was neighbourly voting and the fact that it was a harsh semi. They managed to defy the odds and make it; probably having such a contemporary feel went down well with the Scandinavian countries voting in this semi-final along with the Irish and British.
The two biggest shocks of the night were the non-qualification of Sweden and Croatia. Sweden was touted as a potential winner of ESC and also as the singer who is most likely to have an international career after Eurovision. The visual performance for Sweden was simple and very effective, but probably the song was too ordinary to be remembered, and being sung early didn’t help matters either. This will be the first Eurovision final without the Swedes since 1976 – some remarked that neighbourly voting had an effect on Sweden not qualifying, but the same cannot be said to Croatia. Femminem who represented Bosnia Herzegovina in 2005, didn’t have much luck in tonight’s semi-final even though they have popular appeal around the Baltic area. They were touted as one of the front-runners in this semi and with a strong song and performance – their qualification was almost certain – but in a game like this it seems nothing is certain unless you’re Russia, Turkey or Ukraine.
The Lithuanian blokes presented this year’s joke act – but it didn’t go down well with the public to put them through – although I wouldn’t have ruled them out if they were in the first semi. The song is fun and darn catchy. The Swiss song was nicely presented and the vocals were very strong but the song sounded dated, and probably that is why the song didn’t manage to make it through. Same thing can be said about the song from The Netherlands – an entry which wouldn’t have been out-of-place in the 70’s. The Slovenian song incorporated two styles of music together – and although there were few who thought this was genius, the majority thought this was one big mistake – the presentation didn’t help matters either. Bulgaria also didn’t manage to make it out of this semi; they presented a decent number which should have gone down well with the public but as an entry it was never a favourite to qualify and being in a semi-final full of strong entries it was always going to be a challenge.
Other entries were seen as borderline qualifiers, these included Ukraine and Georgia, but after the strong vocal performances by their singers and quality songs presented, it would have been a real mystery if they did not make the cut – especially keeping in mind the number of friends they had in this semi-final. Having Niamh Kavanagh, a former winner representing the nation known for winning the trophy a total of seven times with a typical Irish ballad, was always going to go down well with both the televote and the jury. In fact the Irish and Israeli ballads were always two of the front runners to qualify for the final and with their heartfelt numbers they managed to touch the hearts of the voters and make the final. Singing last always help; adding that to a strong rock song, which is totally different to what other countries presented, and being sung by a band that won an MTV award is an extra added bonus – especially if you’re Turkey. This was a sure qualifier, and wouldn’t be surprised to see it towards the top of the scoreboard on the final night – if the rockers unite like they did for Lordi, Manga clearly stand a chance to win it.
The Romanian song has always been a good up-tempo number, and its presentation has always been interesting. The live vocals are exceptional, especially those from the female singer – and they certainly had all the ingredients to make it through. In what is being touted as the most open Eurovision in recent years, this might also stand a chance to win this year’s contest. The singer from Armenia, had a story to tell in her song, and it seems that the audience connected to her story and voted her through. The good up-tempo number with an ethnic feel and traditional music incorporated certainly works and I would it stand a great chance to fight off for victory on Saturday.
Denmark has dominated most of the website polls and fan club votes whilst Azerbaijan has led the betting polls before the contest started – so it was no real surprise that both of them made it to the finals even though they had struggled throughout the rehearsals. Denmark went from a sure qualifier to a borderline non qualifier in the betting odds, but Azerbaijan held on to their lead – and we might actually see these two fighting it out for the win next Saturday. It would be an interesting battle between Safura, who will open the show and Chanee and N’Evergreen who will close it.
Let’s see who will win this year’s edition now that the finalists are known. May all the finalists give a spectacular show on Saturday and may the best song triumph in this year’s edition.