Eurovision: Semi-Final Front Runners, Outsiders and Oddities

For the first time in two years there’s little certainty about who will win the Eurovision trophy on Saturday 10th May at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen. Last year Emmelie de Forest was the overwhelming favourite to win the Contest and in 2012 there was almost no doubt Loreen would triumph in Baku with her song ‘Euphoria’. This year the semi-finals are upon us and a clear front runner is yet to emerge.

As in 2013, the first semi-final has more of the favourites and is consequently the least likely to provide surprises. The Ex-Soviet nations making up this final all look set to qualify. Armenia has a thoroughly modern sounding dubstep-flecked ballad, Azerbaijan have used ethnic instrumentation to give their take on croning a distinct USP, Russia has employed some see-sawing twins and Ukraine are sending a thoroughly catchy dance song complete with MJ-inspired styling and a giant hamster wheel. Another lock-in for qualification is Sweden who’ve parcelled up a typically melodramatic ballad, complete with nonsensical lyrics and dazzling light show. The last sure-fire qualifier for Saturday is Hungary. Their song ‘Running’ can transcend voting blocs and appeal to both East and West. It combines near conceptual dance moves, gentle lyrics and a serious hunk who also happens to look like a mixture of Ashley Cole and Michael Underwood from Jungle Run. If that doesn’t ring douze points I don’t know what will. kally saunders Likely to qualify though not assured is Belgium’s Axel Hirsoux. He’s adorable and his song is an especially over-wrought number about his ‘Mother’. It’s likely to be as divisive as Albania’s screaming cat lady from 2012. Equally divisive is Estnoia’s Tanja who’s a bit like a ginger Loreen if her dancing was even more ridiculous. Montenegro for once seem to have taken thing seriously but only by playing the classic Eurovision cliché card of sending “a big star in the Balkans,” to the contest. Acts to look out for at the semi rather than final are Portugal’s hip-thrusting Suzy, San Marino’s Valentina Monetta who appears to have been inspired by Boticelli’s Venus and Latvia who have decided to enter a song about baking a cake.

Portugal’s Entrant: Suzy

Although the Second Semi-Final lacks the favourites, it is by no means without talent. Romania have sent 2010 veterans Paula & Ovi with a thumping dance track, Israel have sent a diva who has a ‘Single Ladies’-reminiscent staging in store and Norway have sent an ultra-minimalist love song that seems to be ticking all the right fan boxes. Ireland have entered a Celtic-influenced dance-ditty that looks likely to qualify and Greece should spring into the final with ease off the back of their trampoline-assisted performance. After that though, things get a bit more muddled.

Finland have sent a soft-rock band who might have a decent shout if they don’t get overwhelmed by the size of the Contest and likewise Switzerland have sent a very handsome man who whistles which should give them a strong chance of qualifying. F.Y.R Macedonia have taken the same approach as Montenegro and picked a “big star”, Tijana, to sing for them and Malta are sending a honky-tonk folk number that may or may not fall flat on its face. Belarus are sending a song about cheescake that likely won’t qualify and Slovenia have entered a flute-enhanced virtual carbon copy of Cheryl Cole’s ‘Parachute’.

Whilst the odds and ends of the second semi-final are unlikely to figure, the field is more or less wide open at the Grand Final. Competition is strong this year and that should indicate a nail-biting voting sequence on Saturday night in echo of the 2011 Contest.