The second semi-final is far easier to predict than the first for a whole host of reasons. This heat contains several of the outright favourites to win, in addition to some almost certain qualifiers and a few dead-in-the-water no-hopers. By my calculations, there are seven songs with one foot in the final already and seven which are pretty chanceless. That leaves four borderliners fighting it out for three spots. What will miss out?
1. Armenia – I’m not going to overthink this one. Armenia should be qualifying easily almost on its jury vote alone. It’s also a very friendly semi for them, so unless the staging and/or performance are catastrophic, this is going to qualify in around seventh, give or take.
2. Ireland – This is pretty dead, as stated several times already. Its best chance to surprise would be to have some crazy novelty and meme-worthy staging.
3. Moldova – It’s a pretty friendly semi for Moldova, on paper. But the overfamiliar song is not up to scratch in the context of this extremely tough heat.
4. Switzerland – This has performed very well in stats and is of course flying through to the final. As long as the staging and performance are entertaining enough, I think this can finish as high as second, even from this early part of the running order. There might be some goodwill from televoters for it being Switzerland and they will be whipped up into a frenzy regardless.
5. Latvia – This is a toilet break song, apart from a few juries who will award it some low points due to its authenticity. The televote, however, will be almost non-existent.
6. Romania – Can they really fail to qualify two years running? It looks like that’s to be the case from where I’m sitting. The televote from the national final was very poor and this has underperformed in Eurojury in terms of where it needed to be. Not totally hopeless but will almost certainly struggle.
7. Denmark – We already know the staging will be as in the national final. This is very much in the borderline category for me, but I think it could receive enough jury points to take it through. Just.
8. Sweden – Obviously this is qualifying on jury vote alone. However, I believe the televote could be around fifth in this semi as it is not particularly modern or exciting enough for viewers at home as things stand. Definitely a contender for the Top 3 here.
9. Austria – About as hopeless as it gets. Neither the televote nor jury vote will be anywhere near the Top 10, and I think this is probably finishing last. Paenda is also not telegenic or aspirational enough as a performer.
10. Croatia – Roko has an outstandingly good vocal, but unfortunately the song is a bit of a dated dud. Can Balkan support get behind this enough to qualify? It’s going to have to score strongly there, as it’s getting very little from elsewhere. Needs a highly effective and memorable presentation if it’s to be in with a chance. Though it’s currently not in my borderline category.
11. Malta – This is a strong, modern composition that will be naturally scoring well from juries and televoters. Word has it they are making a big effort this year in terms of the staging, and it feels like a safe qualifier overall, perhaps around sixth.
12. Lithuania – Until recently, this was on my list of likely qualifiers. It’s a friendly semi, but this scored a big fat zero in Eurojury. Perhaps it’s because it just passes too many people by, without evoking much emotion in anyone.
13. Russia – Everyone is wondering what kind of staging they will bring to Tel Aviv. Philip Kirkorov says we will be ‘surprised’, so perhaps things will be simplistic this time rather than kitchen sink? It’s a friendly semi for Russia and obviously a Top 3 contender. Around third feels right to me, as it is unlikely to score too well outside of its allies.
14. Albania – Jonida is perhaps the best vocalist in this semi-final and it’s a very friendly one for Albania. It has a USP as the only properly ethnic ballad in this heat, which might go down quite well in the ex-USSRs. About as borderline as it gets, but without seeing the staging I’m saying it will very marginally miss out.
15. Norway – This is the other song with which I’m most struggling. It’s very fanwank-y in nature in that it almost certainly won’t perform as well as the fan polls are suggesting. However, it also stands alone as the sole schlager and is the closest thing to novelty in a heat full of very serious, credible entries. It is truly the Saara Aalto of this year in that it will qualify in tenth or ninth or crash out altogether. Interchangeable with Albania, but for now I’m putting it as through.
16. The Netherlands – The outright favourite will of course have no problems qualifying and is a dead cert for the Top 3 in this semi. As I think it’s winning the whole shebang, I also think it’s taking the semi-final win with this pretty perfect slot in the running order.
17. North Macedonia – The producers have given them a helping hand with this late slot, which was probably necessary. On paper this is the best chance to qualify for many years, and despite it being on my list of borderline entries, I have to predict it going through from here, though it could be close. Ninth place seems about right as the juries will like it and it will probably be lifted with the live performance.
18. Azerbaijan – This modern song performed by an extremely sexy guy is a no-brainer to qualify from the pimp slot. It’s also scored very well in both fan polls and Eurojury, and so has the potential to be Azerbaijan’s best result in years. The power of the pimp slot should never be underestimated, so this is probably with an outside shot at landing a Top 3 podium position in this semi. The song has great staging potential and anything similar to what is seen in the official video would be effective.
Qualifying: Armenia, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Russia, Norway, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan
Not qualifying: Ireland, Moldova, Latvia, Romania, Austria, Croatia, Lithuania, Albania
1. The Netherlands
Last Place: Austria
Feel free to disagree or agree with me in the comments section, where I’ll be happier to go into more detail regarding my reasoning.