Semi-Final Two 2016: Debriefed

For those disinclined to click back, here’s what our highly pseudo-scientific model predicted for semi-final one:

Excellent: Ukraine (15.63 points), Serbia (13.46), Macedonia (12.92), Bulgaria (11.99), Lithuania (11.93), Israel (11.17), Norway (10.28), Ireland (9.88), Poland (9.71) and Georgia (9.38).

And our qualifiers were all the excellent (as in prospects to qualify—we’re not claiming these are excellent entries, necessarily) group. Ostensibly we missed two: Australia rather than Ireland and Latvia rather than Macedonia.

Latvia’s easy to correct: in our model we gave the performance 1 out of 3 and a totally score of 7.99. Make that performance a 2 and he’s just below the excellent band. One could argue for giving him 3 points, and he would move into the top 10, but at Georgia’s expense.

And, in fact, we did not rate Australia, since to our mind they would be taking a slot from a European Broadcasting Area country. Which they did, probably Macedonia or Ireland.

So…what happened?

Broken blocs

Most prominently, two of our blocs under-performed, one of them historically. The Scandinavian bloc collapsed in this semi-final: again, none qualified. That means Sweden will be the only Scandinavian entry in this year’s Grand Final, which should give them a starting value in the pan-Eurovision televote of 40-60 points. Frans is no doubt delighted.

Similarly, we had three former Yugoslavian republics participation: Serbia, Macedonia and Slovenia. Kaliopi is a yugosphere superstar, but it wasn’t enough to get her to the Saturday show. Combined with Switzerland, which has a lot of former Yugoslavians resident, there is significant potential for mutual support in the televote. Similar to the Scandinavian bloc, if only two ex-Yugo entries qualified for this year’s Grand Final, that puts a richesse of potential televotes: with the Swiss, that could mean 48-72 points each.

The ex-Soviet bloc was large: five if you include Latvia and Lithuania – though Lithuania’s much smaller Russophone vote really doesn’t belong here while Israel’s certainly does.

Winners and…Less Successful Entries

Bulgaria finally qualifies for a Grand Final for only the second time! Michał’s winning the Polish national final over Margaret and Edyta Gorníak was controversial, but not even a poor draw could keep him out of the Grand Final. In fact, both big ballad this year—Poland’s and Israel’s were rewarded with golden tickets. Belgium’s Laura took an OK retro track, went full on 70s disco and convinced everyone to join in the fun.

Georgia’s decision to go full on rock and to let the cameras do the movement worked exceedingly well: this was total jury bait. Unlike Estonia in semi-final one, Latvia’s sending a new artist with a song written by the previous year’s highly successful entry paid off. Ukraine need to create some magic for 1944 to register with viewers and jury members. And Jamala certainly did, maintaining Ukraine’s 100% success rate in qualifying from semi-finals.

Doubtless Macedonia are gutted, after sending their highest profile artist. Switzerland might want to revisit their complex selection process, which seems to have lost its way. Norwegian fans perhaps are disappointed, but the staging remained rather static and Agnete doesn’t have the profile across Europe that she does at home.

If we had to predict a winner from the semi-final, it would be Ukraine or Israel. If we had to guess who qualified 9th and 10th, that would be Georgia and Poland.

We have our finalists

So we have our finalists. Shortly each will draw either the first or second half of the Grand Final. Expect the draw performance order to be announced a couple of hours after that.

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