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Comedy bet update
Beograd
oneurope
If you remember through the mists of time - Mr Hacksaw ( The real press) and Me ( Undedicated and not press) - had a comedy bet on the 1st Semi Final - Time for an update!!

Our bet was:

Semi Final One - OnEurope chose Lithuania, RDH chose Portugal.

1-0 to the undedicated and unaccredited there ;)

Second semi-final predictions
riigimetnik
This is a tricky one to call.  A bit like Tuesday night.  But on the performances I've just seen, the following 10 will probably qualify:

Bosnia AND Herzegovina
Austria
Moldova
Cyprus
Slovenia
Romania
Estonia
Latvia
Denmark
Ireland

If I don't post between now and tomorrow night, enjoy the show.

Riigimetnik

Second semi-final Part IV
riigimetnik

Estonia - Turning a piece of silk into a came is worth a place in the final in my book.  Some of the vocals are a bit off, but that seems to be the fault of the sound mixing, rather than Getter.  It gets a little busy, and one of the dancers didn't quite get his back flip right.  Still a probable qualifier.

Belarus - What Eurovision needs is more dulcimers - and cheese of course.  This has the former, but not the latter.  It also has an offkey performer.  She comes from the school of badly-sung English.  Either that or there is genuinely a cabbage in her bed.

Latvia - Is turning your bacqq on your crowd a good thing?  Musiqq seem to thinqq so.  Personally, I thinqq this is very catchy.  Maybe not good enough to win, but if they can sing in qqey (liqqe they mostly have this afternoon), this will get through to the final.

Denmark - The Danes have entered a very carefull crafted piece of music which may well win this semi-final.  Some have said he looks a little Damon Albarn, and if there's still time, maybe a little each-wayer on them winning the whole d*mn thing isn't a bad idea.

Ireland - Finally, what can we say about the 'Simpleton Bros'?  It's everything a Eurovision song shouldn't be.  It's a little bit messy, a little busy - maybe even a car crash (did you see what I did there?).  But it might, just might, work.



Second semi-final Part III
riigimetnik


Bulgaria - Our little rock chick is next on stage.  Her support band reminds me of Vanilla Ninja.  Vocally it's OK and the press centre masses seem to like it.  I'm still not sure whether we'll see it on stage after tomorrow night.

FYR Macedonia - This guy has never played a guitar in his life, and we're told he's using it to hide himself.  Who needs a security blanket when you have a fingerboard and sound box?  It moves along well but he thinks he's the sainted Tose Proeski.  No FYRoM this year methinks.

Israel - Dana appears to be emulating her heroes Morecambe & Wise.  She's singing all the right notes, but not in the right order.  We've all done it, but most of us never on a Eurovision stage.

Slovenia - Imagine Dana with talent, a decent voice and looks to match - in other words, someone that sounds nothing like Dana - and you have the fair Maja.  This works very well and she smoulders away nicely.  A cert for Saturday.

Romania - A very instant song from, so we're told, the best karaoke singer in Romania.  He also comes from Newcastle, which is next to Scotland (his words, not the resistance's).  It should qualify, and it's immediately before an ad break.

Our next treat is Eurovision fans singing their favourite songs.  Pure TV gold if you have the stomach to spot a certain Johnny Logan.

To be continued...



Second semi-final Part II
riigimetnik

Welcome back.  It seems that the 10 finalists from Tuesday will be in the audience tomorrow night, so our host will chat to some of them.  Next on...

Ukraine - Our first hiccup of the day when the Ukrainian playback stopped without warning.  Sand artist Cervelan is working like a demon making all sorts of intreresting shapes.  It almost takes your mind off the song, wondering how she can turn a nose into an eagle, but it's all pleasant enough.

Moldova - Not too sure about the camera angles on this one.  They need to be a bit edgy with it, but the director seems to back out at the last minute.  It will qualify because it's such a contrast with the songs either side of it. 

Sweden - The sound seems a little off - the playback vs vocal mix isn't right.  Did we have him smash his way out of his portable aquarium?  No.  It's still borderline for me.

Cyprus - We're missing the dry ice that hides the boots of Mylordos and his chums.  They need to sort out some more camera angles too, as the interaction between him and the girl at the end of the catwalk is very clunky.

We now get remindedabout how to wote.  Dial the number or send the SMS.  But you can't wote for your own country.

More soon...



Second semi-final Part I
riigimetnik

In what has become true to form for this contest, the rehersal isn't starting on time.  This time we're again 15 minutes late.

Judith, Stefan and Anke are in red, black and yellow respectively.  The tell us all sorts of really exciting stuff in various languages and even indulge in a bit of French rap.  And, finally, we can start woting.

Bosnia AND Herzegovina - How quirky.  A man in a geography teacher's jacket, a woman convincingly playing a little piano and lots of foot stomping.  It's what the world needs more of.  He's just competent enough to get this through to the final.

Austria - Nadine starts off as the voice in the darkness.  The dry ice has gone (it looked better with it).  As in the rehearsals, she got it spot on.  And we like her cos she is ace.

Netherlands, The - I can't wait to see the golden gardens at the sweet end of my trail.  It's a safe song, a bit of a plodder, but in a pleasant way.  The rock angle has gone with the three nubile backing singers.  But it doesn't really go anywhere.

Belgium - Flanders/Wallonia must be desperate NOT to win the contest.  They are very good at what they do, but Rule 16(4)(vi) of Eurovision is NO A CAPELLA.  Not even if you wear red trousers.  However, they are very good at what they do, it's just the discerning woters of Europe won't get it.

Slovakia - Fragrancy comes to Eurovision with the slightly out of tune TWiiNS.  They look good and engage well with the camera, but they still need a little work on the vocals.  In their favour, as with all the other participants, they only need to get it right twice.  On this showing, we won't be seeing Slovakia on Saturday.

I think now there should be a bit of good-natured presenter stuff while parts of Europe go to adverts.  All we have is silence before part 2.

Don't go away.
 



us poor minions only get... ( Updated as and when - almost live ish)
Beograd
oneurope
an audio feed from the webs so very limited news here but.....

Bosnia - Spot on - Nuff said QUALIFYING

Austria - Concerns about bits of Vocals but still should get through QUALIFYING

Netherlands - See above but more so, They sounded like they were trying too hardNOT QUALIFYING

Belgium - Melody not standing out - the "waaahhh waaahhh bits are too loud" - And it surely breaks 3 minutes?!?!?NOT QUALIFYING

Slovakia - not sounding half bad compared to Whitout tune-bay. Still have my concerns about the mix as i did on the youtube vids, but that seems to have been ironed out now - huzzah. Back in with a shout mehtinks! !NOT SURE

Ukraine - False start for some reason - presumably sand or music related! - Pregnant pause is now about 4-5 minutes, oh dear oh dear. And when we are back to audio feed Ii still think that the song is going to be too boring to qualify. Admitedly so far only ONE song is through, but there could be a swaythe of this draw with no qualifier!NOT QUALIFYING

Moldova - After the dullness that has gone before it, this actually wakes me up . Vocally good and we all know how it looks. QUALIFYING

Sweden - If the mix that I hear is the Europe wide feed then vocally it is in trouble - I couldnt hear him on the mix and the backing singers were too loud. This has car crash written all over through it. NOT SURE

Cypurs - Is pissing all over the chips of Sweden - in complete contract the lead mix on this one is loud and bright and clear. this is a total contrast to the carcrash that came before. This is in with a chance. QUALIFYING

Bulgaria - Vocally very assured with this performance - Sounds just right and is a contrast after Cyprus - Problem being in Bulgarian? - Don't think so. Little repetitive so could miss out, probably 11th - NOT SURE

FYR Macedonia - Another song thats Vocally more assured than Sweden. It's not a pile of shite that people think it is ( and if Gordana or Milinka are reading, you are in with a chance - but still not sure. NOT SURE

Israel - Dana's voice is weak, as is most of the backing singers, who you can hear perfectly - but I still believe that the song itself is weak enough that its going precicesly nowhere - NOT QUAALIFYING

Slovenia - In direct contrast to the shite that went before, someone that can sing. QUALIFYING

Romania - His trousers should get this through! - But its a good enough song to qualtify through to the final. Vocally the same as you would expect. QUALIFYING

Estonia - Is it possible to be sharp AND flat in the same stanza of music? - The backing singers seem to be that and Getter must stop shouting GET MOVING at me - this is going down the plughole very quickly and needs rescuing NOT SURE

Belarus - It really shouldn't - but it just well might! NOT SURE

Latvia - Passe me by NOT QUALIFYING

Denmark - QUALIFYING

Ireland - QUALIFYING

More momentarily!

So, what did we learn last night...
Beograd
oneurope
Well, last night we learnt that the diaspora vote is CLEARLY on the turn and that despite the so-called diaspora vote, if your song just isnt good enough, no matter how much influence you have around Europe it no longer guarentees you entry to the final.

People will argue the above point, but Greece and Russia ( moreso Russia) that it still exists, forgetting to point out that Russia do indeed have a good song and for Greece, well 10 had to get through and dont be surprised if Greece were 8th-10th in the results.

We learnt that off key singing, in the main, isnt going to help ( Emmy and Stella, Come on down!) but that simple staging still gets people voting ( Iceland and Switzerland and Lithuania0

We learnt that this contest can still make you go "eh!!" even though you think you know whats going to qualify ( As above)

People will still decry the voting etc..etc.. and still believe that the diaspora had/have an effect, and so be it - but it can clearly be argued after 3 years of trying, the effect of a "seeded" semifinal draw is beginning to have the desired effect that we hoped it would have.

Long may it continue! - Congrats to Switzerland for being just f**king ace and HAHAHAH to Stella Mwangi for being every bit as hideous as it appeared ( Fanwank beware even though I had it for qualifying!)

Second semi-final
riigimetnik
And with the carnage of last night quietly swept away, we now have to do it all over again.  Another 19 lucky lucky countries will be competing for the last ten spots in the final.  I will try and give you some, ahem, reasoned insight into what I see, as long as the feed works.

Stay tuned...

'metnik

Diasporic musings
Thunderbird 5
nick_at_esc
Something to ponder on for Saturday night, if you believe in such things as diaspora voting, is quite what's going to happen to the pool of televotes that would normally be directed towards Turkey and Armenia from countries like Belgium, France, the Netherlands and a few other reliable nations.

The most likely eventuality, of course, is that that pool of votes just won't turn up at all. If it's a simple patriotic vote for a country that they happen to not be in at the time, they're not going to say "Well, I love my country... but I'm quite fond of a nearby country that I'm not from, so I'll vote 20 times for them instead".

But it might be less simple than that.

There are clear, strong cultural ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan - so is it possible that the Turkish diaspora will switch to the Azeri camp and bolster their chances? If they do, it'll be a surprisingly big fillip to Eldur and Nigar's chances. I'd always assumed that there'd be a pretty strong correlation between countries which routinely vote big for Turkey and ones which vote big for Azerbaijan, so that the Azeris would probably just be switching from 8s to 10s or 10s to 12s in those cases.

Not so simple. The vast majority of countries that have strongly supported Turkey over the last few years have dramatically UNDERRATED the Azeri entries, relative to the scoreboard as a whole. So if that effect kicks in, it could be 0s, 2s and 3s moving into podium positions - if that translates into an extra 40 or so points, all manner of things might happen.

The Armenia patriotic vote (if it exists), on the other hand, has no obvious positive reason to switch in a particular direction. It might swing towards Russia, but there's no guarantees on that - as mentioned before, it's as likely to dissipate and not turn up.

More interestingly, given the geopolitics in the area, it could transform into a "Stop Azerbaijan" voting bloc. So if it did that, where would it swing to? France? UK? Ireland? Germany? Or indeed, everyone and anyone where the Armenia International commentator can say with exquisite subtlety "And the next song is from a country near the top of the bettings, above Azerbaijan... #justsaying..."?

My gut feeling is that if the diaspora vote does indeed exist for Turkey and Armenia, it will probably just pack up its tent and slip quietly away until next year. But I'm no expert, and it'll be interesting to watch out for on the night!

Activating smug mode...
Thunderbird 5
nick_at_esc
I'm pretty chuffed with myself right now, I thought that semi was so uncallable that even 9 out of 10 was an impossible ask. I shouldn't have thought it was impossible, as clearly it was possible. I'm not too embarrassed by the schoolboy error of including Turkey in Lithuania's slot! A shout-out to Martin F. at ESCNation, who's been doing some sterling work and is one of the few I've seen getting the Lithuania call correct, which you've got to say is impressive.

What can we learn from this in terms of Semifinal 2? The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing. We've got an entirely different set of pizza toppings on offer, and we've got a different clientele in the restaurant. It'd be foolish to translate Mrs. Papapavlou of Crete's disdain for Portuguese language comedy protest song into clear evidence that Mr. O'Reilly of Cork won't be impressed by Moldovan pop-rockers in pointy hats.

The big story last night was the technical problems that plagued the show, including some significant sound balance issues with the first few songs. Who'd have thought it? The loss of commentary feeds to several countries is an annoying embarrassment to our host broadcaster, but it seems that everyone got by.

We might be able to tease out some ideas about the final, however, especially when we look at the draw as it currently looks:

 1 Finland        13 Switzerland
 2                14 United Kingdom
 3                15
 4 Lithuania      16 Germany
 5 Hungary        17
 6                18
 7                19 Azerbaijan
 8                20 
 9 Greece         21 Iceland
10 Russia         22 Spain        
11 France         23
12 Italy          24 Serbia
                  25 Georgia

In terms of the big 5 favourites, there's nothing here that's done France or the UK any harm at all - each is preceded by a decent song that provides some contrast, the light and shade that helps you to stand out. As it's also rather clear that there's a prevailing wind for slow songs and/or cute boys who look straight down the pipe at your gran, France ought now to be an even stronger favourite than it was.

The back end of the draw is now absolutely fascinating - if a slowish song, Austria, Bosnia, even Ukraine were to tuck into slot 23, you'd have to say that it'd be game on for them. It's the Jade Ewen draw, and will be the plum position to pick tomorrow night. I'll stick my neck out and say that for all the money that's landing on Ireland and Estonia, there's not too many available draws here that they could go and win the contest from.

Anyway, attention switches to Semifinal 2 now - predictions and dress rehearsal runthrough coverage will be appearing on the blog over the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

And finally, Iceland...
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
The third time running Iceland were announced tenth of ten, it transpires...

And where's it pitched? Why...

21 - new danger, new danger!

Now that little bundle of draws makes things very interesting come Thursday. Thanks you, and good night!

Russian draw explosion...
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
Now where is the birdman going to performing on Saturday night?...

10.

Hmm...

It's Finland
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
The boy is in paradise. Nailed it on the night, and looked right down the pipe at your gran!

He sounds very English, by the way...

And he's playing in the position of...

1 - interesting!

Feeling Hungary?
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
Still don't see it, but it was the only song of the night where the whole crowd stood up, so they obviously saw something I never did!

Come on, pull out number 2...

Nearly, number 5!

The Swiss draw...
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
The whole place went mental for her when she was announced just then. There's possibly not a more popular qualifier in the house.

And where is she going to sing???

13...

Georgia draw (how happy I am to say that!)
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
Georgia bag the performance place of...

25 - get in!

Azerbaijan draw, live as it happens...
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
The Azeris have bought, erm drawn, position number...

19

Greek draw
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
They drag out the number... 9! (No 6, no 9!)

Lithuania draw
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
She can't believe her luck, she tells us...

She pulls out... 4

She looks crestfallen!

The Paxo effect
riigimetnik
Blimey!!!!  I can't really believe what I've just seen.  It just goes to show that you can watch this contest and every year it continues to surprise.  The resistance was sat among their comrades, safe in the knowledge it wasn't in action tonight.  So my views on tonight:

Russia - no surprise there.
Greece - the same.
Serbia - woo-hoo!
Switzerland - about time.
Lithuania - [pulls stunned face].
Iceland - very pleased.  That little wager is still good.
Azerbaijan - was expected.
Finland - bound to, given how well he sang tonight.
Hungary - she can obviously rise to the occasion when necessary.
Georgia - good to see rock has a place in the contest.

No doubt I'll have more thoughts when I've slept on it and we've seen the draw.

Sleep well, and let's be careful out there.

Now THAT'S entertainment!
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
Now who said that Eurovision was predictable!

There were loads of surprises there, and most of them nice ones.

Georgia beating Turkey? RESULT! Just bumped into them coming into the press conference and they are refreshingly chuffed and amazed.

Switzerland? Brilliant! Just goes to show that a genuinely nice song can always win through.

Lithuania was a surprise even to the Liths, but you can't begrudge it their place.

I never saw Hungary - even at the start, so it'll probably go and win the whole thing now.

Never thought both Finland and Iceland would make it, but once again it's a victory for niceness! And well done Serbia.

We also learned that the supposed diaspora guarantee doesn't count for anything is the song isn't any cop or completely unsympathetic - Turkey and Armenia, come on down!

Sad about Portugal, and surprised about Norway, but on the whole I reckon that's not a bad pick.

Serbia draw in 24! Nice one!

More in other posts as they happen!

Which ten do the betting markets predict?
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
It just dawned on me to see if a system as random as the betting odds could predict more of tonight's qualifiers as well (or indeed better) than any of us supposed experts. So I popped over to Oddschecker to see who the top ten in the betting (aggregated from a large number of bookies) for semi-final one would be, and I have to admit, it's a pretty compelling list.

In order, their top ten are...

Azerbaijan
Hungary
Russia
Finland
Turkey
Greece
Norway
Armenia
Serbia
Georgia

I know it's merely a list created by the money punters risk on each particular song, but I fancy that lot's going to beat my own sorry list by a street!

As for Dusseldorf itself - I don't think I've ever seen a press centre as tense as this one is now. There's a lot of pacing about and anxious faces, and before the night is out we'll know a bit more than we knew just then. this could possibly be one of the most interesting envelope openings we've ever had. Bring the noise!

A final quick observation/question...
Thunderbird 5
nick_at_esc
...an observestion, if you will, before we potter off Dorfwards.

We haven't got a CLUE how the arena's going to behave tonight in terms of sound balance with something approximating to a crowd in place, because they've not tried it.

We also haven't got a CLUE how the camera shots are going to behave in terms of having fan-type people sitting around the stage, because they've not tried that.

And we suspect that we haven't got a CLUE how Eldur and Nigar are going to behave in terms of singing a song with more than about 30 people watching, because we don't think they've tried THAT, either!

This may just turn out to be comedy gold!

Enjoy the show, and may your favourite song be in the 10th envelope!!!

Final semi final musings Part II
riigimetnik
Welcome back...

The fragrant Anna Rossinelli was in costume.  Her song is really pleasant and I would love it to get through.  It's a classic easy-listening summer hit, but maybe not quite right for Eurovision.  Sopho from Eldrine belted out her song again.  The complete opposite of Switzerland.  Contest in the Georgian seaside resort of Batumi anyone?

Finland will be through.  Everyone likes this; it's annoyingly catchy, and not in a measles sort of way.  I know Malta is really enthusiastic about Eurovision, and we'd all love to see a contest there, but it ain't gonna be in 2012.

Sadly, dear reader, it is at this point that I must leave you.  The resistance needs to get back to its foxhole in the Dorf, in readiness for tonight's festivities.  as ever, may the best songs qualify, and you might get a word from me sometime later.

Stay lucky/Aros yn lwcus/Viibimise õnnelik/დარჩენა გაუმართლა/Vera heppinn

'metnik


Final semi-final musings Part I
riigimetnik


Am sat here in the cosiness of the press centre again, just watching them rehearse for the final time.  the acts aren't all in their best frocks this time round.  I think if I were one of the artists, I'd be getting a little bored of it all right now.  But, on the other hand, you're going to be famous for a few more hours, so darn well make the most of it.

Here's just a flavour of what's going on.  Magdalena from poland wasn't in costume, and seemed fairly competent.  Stella Mwangi was a bit off key at times, but sold it really well.

Aurela Gaçe from Albania is in a pink jacket, which contrasts, erm, interestingly, with her bright red hair. Armenia's song is a bit of a dog's breakfast this time round, as opposed to the dog's dinner it's been all other times.  I think if this qualifies, it may call into question the voting system.

Turkey will definitely be in the final.  Like another song I bigged-up yesterday, Turkey will make the final because they've entered a good song.  They won't qualify just because it's Turkey.  But they will qualify because they have a woman in a cage.

The break after Turkey is worth watching.  'The Happy Wanderer' is performed like never before.  It was recorded at the exclusive Welcome Party, and apparently got in everyone's way.

Serbia continues to entertain and makes the resistance smile.  The artist formerly known as Alex Sparrow was in some MC Hammer style parachute pants made of what looked like towelling.  All very odd, but another cert for the final.
 

To be continued...



43 becomes 34
riigimetnik

W odpowiedzi na wniosek, miałem kurs w języku polskim.

Tak więc jutro o tej porze dziewięć krajów pecha oglądania reszty postępowania z boku. I już nie naprawdę wiele idei, które z nich będzie. Istnieje około pięciu definites, które można zebrać z dobrych ludzi w Oneurope poniżej. Pozostałe pięć, szczerze mówiąc, można prawdopodobnie pochodzą z około 10 krajów. To wszystko sprawia, że ​​naprawdę ekscytujące. Więc mimo mnie jest tutaj od 1894 roku, jestem faktycznie coraz My Mojo ponownie.

Jeśli nie jesteś w Dorf, upewnić się, że w poniedziałek. Ponieważ w poniedziałek mamy restaurację, która ma Enchilada Montag. Dwa piękne płyty enchiladas w cenie jednego. Wiesz, że to ma sens.

opór będzie w nocy arena, może co chaosu. Chce być tam, aby zobaczyć Portugalia zakwalifikować wyprzedzając Węgry i Armenia brakuje, bo Szwajcaria do finałowego.

Or...


In response to a request, I've had a crash course in Polish.

So this time tomorrow nine unlucky countries will watching the rest of the proceedings from the sidelines.  I've not really much of an idea which ones will be there.  There are about five definites, which you can glean from the good people at Oneurope below.  The other five, quite frankly, can probably come from about 10 countries.  This all makes it really exciting.  So despite me being here since 1894, I'm actually getting my mojo again.

If you are ever in the Dorf, make sure it's on a Monday.  Because on a Monday we have a restaurant that does Enchilada Montag.  Two lovely plates of enchiladas for the price of one.  You know it makes sense.

The resistance will be in the arena tonight, maybe making mayhem.  It wants to be there to see Portugal qualify ahead of Hungary, and Armenia missing out because Switzerland has made the final.



Gut instincts for semi-one - the virtual serviette
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
Now I've yet to see a run through of the whole show yet, so I'm still unsure as to how they all marry in together, but here's what I think about all of this year's runners and riders.

Poland - Doomed. Accidental last place, anyone?

Norway - Probably through, but touch and go.

Albania - Possible jury saver.

Armenia - Borderline - in which case the diaspora will see it through.

Turkey - Doesn't deserve it, but probably will.

Serbia - I fancy this is safe.

Russia - In like Flynn.

Switzerland - The draw could save this one. Still borderline, mind.

Georgia - Also borderline. Hopefully it'll nick the point Turkey thinks it deserves.

Finland - The nans of Euro say yes!

Malta - The nans of Europe say no!

San Marino - One fears this will get lost in the crowd. Jury save part two.

Croatia - Ha!

Iceland - Ooh now, I think this will just about make it.

Hungary - I'll stick my neck out here - no.

Portugal - I've got a sneaky fancy for a low-placed qualifier on this one.

Lithuania - Not if they were voting all night.

Azerbaijan - You would second guess this one to get through, but I fancy it's just got the legs.

Greece - In a game of two halves, I fear the first half will hamper the second. Borderline.

So, my qualifiers, in no particular order are...

Norway
Armenia
Serbia
Russia
Switzerland
Finland
Iceland
Portugal
Azerbaijan

And one from Albania and San Marino from the jury. Oh what the heck, let's plump for the old SM, just to be different!

I'll add my aftermatch comments in now - "How wrong could a man be!"

Now please add yours...

Semifinal 1 predictions.
Thunderbird 5
nick_at_esc
I guess if I'm going to finalise my predictions before we know the results, it'd better be now. Last time I spoke, I'd ruled out Poland, Norway, Albania, Malta, San Marino, Croatia and Iceland leaving 12 chasing 10 slots.

After reading about the Monday runthroughs at other sites (and this one, of course, with timeless thanks to the tireless riigimetnik, I feel that I have to bring Iceland back into play. I may have been hasty about Norway and Albania's chances, but I'm going to stick to my guns. The other 4 are gone.

That leaves me playing musical chairs with 13 countries - Armenia, Turkey, Serbia, Russia, Switzerland, Georgia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Portugal, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Greece. So what's obvious in that lot?

RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN, GREECE look fairly clearly safe.

Armenia, Turkey, Serbia, Switzerland, Georgia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Portugal, Lithuania chase 7 seats.

TURKEY, FINLAND, ICELAND, GEORGIA appear to be confident picks, flawless performances of songs which I have doubts about. So I'll take those four through as well.

Armenia, Serbia, Switzerland, Hungary, Portugal, Lithuania chase 3 seats.

This is where it gets difficult.

I'll let PORTUGAL drop away. I think they've lit up the contest, I'm glad that they're here, but it's not a night for them to fly.

I'll let LITHUANIA go too... I think it may have done very well in the jury final last night, potentially as high as 5th or 6th, but I also think that the televote will kill it stone dead.

Armenia, Serbia, Switzerland, Hungary chase 3 seats.

I can make a case for any of those four being the near-miss in this selection, and I'm going to plump for...

...ummm...

...errr...

ARMENIA's not going to make it. Even supporters of the song mostly concede that Emmy made something of a Horlicks of it last night, and if they're right, the juries will have given the redial brigade too much of a mountain to climb tonight.

So that's my 10, then - in draw order once again:

TURKEY, SERBIA, RUSSIA, SWITZERLAND, GEORGIA, FINLAND, HUNGARY, ICELAND, AZERBAIJAN, GREECE to qualify.

If you've not declared your predictions yet, here would be as good a place as any! :-)

Blue interviewed, badly...
Hacksaw
roy_d_hacksaw
Some bloke who looks a bit like me (but not me, obviously...) just interviewed UK Euro-hopes Blue via a shakey mobile phone. Enjoy the hapless disaster here...

http://www.popbitch.com/home/2011/05/09/blue-on-monkeys-marley-and-susanna-hoffs/

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