2017 semi-final allocation: initial thoughts.

The EBU surprised most pundits by releasing the performance draws allocation for this year’s semi-finals late last week. Given there’s been no resolution of the Russian question, it could mean:

  • There has been a resolution, yet to be announced, and Russia will be represented by someone singing something
  • There has not been a resolution, but the EBU wants to keep the pressure on the Ukrainian government to undo their own (PR) goal

We’re inclined to think the latter…which has particular implications for the rest performing in semi-final two. More on that later.

On to the orders!

Semi-final One

Here’s the running order:

  1. Sweden
  2. Georgia
  3. Australia
  4. Albania
  5. Belgium
  6. Montenegro
  7. Finland
  8. Azerbaijan
  9. Portugal
  10. Greece
  11. Poland
  12. Moldova
  13. Iceland
  14. Czech Republic
  15. Cyprus
  16. Armenia
  17. Slovenia
  18. Latvia

Who should be happy: Sweden (uptempo openers almost always qualify from a semi-final; also Scandi bloc support), Slovenia (last big ballad), Armenia (last ex-Soviet bloc performer), Portugal (given the last slot in the first half, probably before an ad break).

Who should be miffed: Georgia and Australia (dreaded 2nd and 3rd slots and both counting on a strong vocal to override what is otherwise a merely OK song), Iceland and Czech Republic (another two relying on vocal, but in one of the dead spots of a semi-final draw), and Poland (sandwiched between two strong, uptempo entries).

Unanswered questions: Azerbaijan (between two slow songs; will contrast help), Cyprus (good slot, but will it compare favourably to Armenia), and Belgium (between a belter and a campastic ex-Yugo entry).

Interesting that the two Armenian singers are back-to-back (Hovig and Artsvik). Might their televoters swap douze points?

Semi-final Two

Here’s the running order:

  1. Serbia
  2. Austria
  3. Russia
  4. FYR Macedonia
  5. Malta
  6. Romania
  7. The Netherlands
  8. Hungary
  9. Denmark
  10. Ireland
  11. San Marino
  12. Croatia
  13. Norway
  14. Switzerland
  15. Belarus
  16. Bulgaria
  17. Lithuania
  18. Estonia
  19. Israel

Who should be happy: Serbia (uptempo opener; also with bloc support), Estonia and Israel (late draws and uptempo pop builds to EDM stomper), Denmark (last slot in first half of draw), and Ireland (first after an ad break; not adjacent to another ballady pop song).

Who should be miffed: Austria and Russia (2nd and 3rd), Netherlands (between two unique, strong entries from Romania and Hungary), and Lithuania (programmed as a tea break with three strong entries around it).

Unanswered questions: San Marino, Croatia, Norway all have strengths and weaknesses (probably one of them will qualify, probably whichever is better staged and performed), Macedonia (could roar or limp into the Grand Final), and Belarus (sort of a dead spot, draw-wise.

Uninterestingly, the two Romanian entries (Romania and Switzerland) are far apart…because they drew different halves of this semi-final!

The BIG Question

What if Russia:

  1. Sends the current entry: might well not qualify, since it’s weak (song and singer) and there’s limited bloc support on offer
  2. Sends the current song with a different singer: might or might not improve chances, since the song remains weak
  3. Sends a different entry entirely: a good entry (good song, good artist) would perhaps qualify
  4. Does not participate: everyone shifts ahead a slot, beginning with Macedonia, leaving our analysis somewhat intact.

It would be patronising to assess the current Russian entry differently because the artist is a wheelchair user: Julia Samoylova is entering the Eurovision on her own merits and should be assessed on the merits of her singing: her English diction is poor. The song is also weak: it’s an inferior version of What If. Anyone representing Russia will be disadvantaged by having to sing this song–but a super-polished singer with excellent English diction would have a much better chance of qualifying.

Russia did not attend the Head of Delegations meeting last month in Kyiv: they  also have not booked hotel rooms for May, which   perhaps indicates scenario 4 is the most likely one at this point. At least this is the semi-final with one extra (19 versus 18) entries, so there wouldn’t be a need to shift an entry between semi-finals to keep the qualification odds comparable (19 versus 17 would be rather different).

Regardless, the run-up to Kyiv has been a serious of blunders by the Ukrainians…which is also not a great look for the EBU.

We will look at the potential qualifiers for each semi-final closer to the bubble.