What’s new, grumpy cat? Semi 2 done and dusted, final running order announced – lots to get in to. Pucker up, buttercup! #eurovision #esc2022
As you might have guessed by the subtle opening meme, that second semi yesterday left me anything but gooped and gagged. I’ve been sitting in front of and staring at my computer screen for at least two hours now, wondering what the hell I’m going to say. It’s not like we didn’t know beforehand that this semi was going to be ‘the difficult one’ (on more than one level), but as always theory and reality resided in vastly different universes. Maybe it was the lack of engaging songs, maybe it was the uneven flow in energy or maybe it was simply Maybelline. I had a hard time sitting through the proceedings either way, despite being served with more creative staging ideas than in semi 1. However, I much preferred the show on Tuesday because of the songs. Can’t win them all I guess.
This state of mind made for a wildly unpredictable prediction strategy, which was seasoned with a dash of despair and drowned in a coulis of wishful thinking – not that there were a lot of wishes that could even be cast. I eventually managed to get a solid 7 right in my predictions, while only 6 of my personal top 10 made it through to Saturday. Not very impressive, I know, but surely better than the 4 I was expecting.
Before we go to running order of Saturday’s final however, let’s say goodbye to the 8 NQ’s:
- ISRAEL: Hadn’t given this an ounce of belief beforehand, so imagine my surprise when they actually turned up for the party. MB David exuded confidence, which sometimes went into overdrive thus causing the occasional vocal slip-up, and sold this for whatever it was worth. Which still wasn’t a lot, but at least it got a nice glossy shine. Which blinded me. Loved the fierceness, had this in second place myself and thought it was in with a shot for qualifying. What’s Hebrew for ‘oops’?
- GEORGIA: Somehow I believed beforehand that this stubborn little smoothie of eclectic soundbites might be odd enough to be appreciated. The chaos was too much however. You might not give a flying fuck anymore, but do you really need to be so overtly clear about it?
- MALTA: The smell of desperation was tangible. Why they wanted to make Emma the next Ariana Grande while she obviously ain’t anything but, is a mystery to me. Every single staging idea was the wrong choice, and I am so happy I won’t have to endure this again.
- SAN MARINO: After a very rocky start to the show, this brought me back to the room with all of its over-the-topness. This had all the attitude that the Finnish song desperately lacked, and I thought it would wipe the floor with them. Sad to see this go, tbh. If sex sells, bitch better take my motherfucking money.
- CYPRUS: For some mysterious reason – I blame the overenthusiastic audience in Turin – I thought the catchy chorus and colorful display would compensate for the, for lack of a better words, vocal performance. While this will certainly be a benchmark performance for the years to come, it won’t be because of any of the choices the team made. Besides picking the singer, obviously. I still thought the Mediterranean vibe would get this further than it did. What’s Greek for ‘oops’?
- IRELAND: My bronze medal for this semi was never gonna shake things up. I still love the song, but the atmosphere was still too slumber party meets GLEE to do anything. The abundance of fireworks didn’t help cement it as a contender, cause people can smell despair from a mile away. Haven’t you learned that by now, RTE?
- NORTH MACEDONIA: Despite many contenders vying for the bottom spot in my ranking, this came out on…erm…top. Nothing worked here. So somber, serious and sad. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- MONTENEGRO: If this hadn’t been sung in artificial English (applicable to both the lyrics and her accent) it could have done a lot more, cause the staging concept worked well with the otherwise boring song. But again, the anger doesn’t really help in selling it. One could call it almost ‘unforgivabal’.
I didn’t think Azerbaijan (too slow), Serbia (too weird) and our own little Belgium (too blah) would make it out of this semi. Very surprised when we got called out first. But obviously happy to be proven wrong. Fearing for its chances on Saturday however. But before we go there….
How did your predictions go? (More on the final running order below the poll)
FINAL RUNNING ORDER
After yesterday’s proceedings and qualifiers, the initial thought was: how are they gonna come up with a running order that feels balanced and ‘makes sense’? Answer: they didn’t. While some choice do, others are bewildering. Granted, they had to deal with a major imbalance between the two halves of this final but some of the blocks they created will be a challenge to sit through…and of course could influence the eventual outcome. You know, in the unlikely case Ukraine doesn’t win either way. Let’s run through it anyway – for added convenience: use the recap running order.
- Czechia – Ideal opening to the competition. Party hardy.
- Romania – Poor bébébé. Could be doomed, but somehow feels like a decent second opener for those who didn’t gravitate towards Czechia.
- Portugal – One of the bigger surprises, I would have probably switched this with Armenia.
- Finland – Best to get this out of the way asap, yes.
- Switzerland – This after Finland will come as a relief to many. underestimate it at your own peril.
- France – I’ve seen this as a sleeper until now, but at this place in the RO I fear it’s doomed with a capital D.
- Norway – Would’ve expected them later on.
- Armenia – Could benefit from Norway again. Could be overshadowed by what comes next.
- Italy – This doesn’t depend on the draw too much.
- Spain – In this Block Of Contenders, it couldn’t be better surrounded could it.
- Netherlands – One of the few ones who benefit from this RO. Ideal sneak attack position.
- Ukraine – Would have expected them waaaay earlier in the line-up. A win suddenly became even more of a possible reality.
- Germany – Will exist solely in Ukraine’s shadow and looks like definite bottom five material.
- Lithuania – Despite my love for it, this would have a hard time getting noticed from anywhere in this RO.
- Azerbaijan – Didn’t have a clue what to do with it in its semi, hasn’t changed a bit.
- Belgium – Feels like it won’t get to stand-out in this line-up, but yesterday has proven I don’t have a clue cfr our own entry this year.
- Greece – Third ‘dramatic’ entry in a row and I’m already preparing for a higher level of alcohol intake during this sequence.
- Iceland – Could feel like an oasis of calm in the sea of drama and circus surrounding it.
- Moldova – Probably one of the winners of this RO, and now definitely top 10 material.
- Sweden – As soon as they drew second half it just cemented its position as one of the front runners and this place in the RO just confirms it.
- Australia – expecting multiple interruptions by the presenters in this section of the show with all those heavy props involved. Think it’ll be squashed by Sweden’s more intimate setting and the UK’s more accessible song.
- UK – Everything is geared up to spare them the embarrassment of 2021.
- Poland – At the tail-end of the sequence of heavy hitters, quite the challenge.
- Serbia – Didn’t expect this to be up this late in the RO. Guess it’s less heavy on the digestion than I thought it was?
- Estonia – A nice, airy close to the show. This wasn’t necessarily the best starting position in recent years, but in this string of entries it could actually benefit off of it.
So. Time for THE QUESTION. Who’ll win??
Despite the many footnotes above, it’s only between a handful of countries from where I’m sitting. Ukraine being the most obvious one, and while half of their song is actually really nice it’s hard to imagine that the entire package could pull it off in a situation with fewer sympathy inducing circumstances. Disregarding the almost inevitable, it’s probably going to be a fight between Sweden and UK. Dangerous outsider could be Netherlands. Italy and Spain have been on my mind forever when it comes to the trophy, but right now they feel like lower top ten material.
Very curious what the outcome will be and how my mood will be come the end of the show slash Sunday morning. Can’t be much worse than today, but never say never. 2022 is quite the weird year after all.