Eurovision 2018 – Semi-Final 1

So its been awhile since I have blogged here and even longer since I have written about Eurovision but look out! I am back! And its Eurovision Week!!!

Tonight in Lisbon the Jury Semi Final 1 is taking place while the live show takes place tomorrow Tuesday 8th.

Speaking of the Juries, there is a slight change in the weighting of individual jury rankings this year and should make the contest fairer.

19 countries are taking part in Semi Final 1 which looks set to be one of the best Eurovision shows ever! As well as the 19 entries, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom will be voting.  Only 10 of the entries will make it through to the Grand Final on Saturday and join Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany along with the 10 qualifiers from Semi Final 2 on Thursday night.

So let’s take a look at the entries.

All odds are from paddypower.com as taken on 07/05/2018

1 – Azerbaijan (İTV) – AISEL – “X my Heart” – 125/1
Debut: 2008
Wins: 1 (2011)
Worst Result: 22nd (2014)

X my Heart (pronounced cross my heart) is a great song to start the show. Azerbaijan have consistently sent great songs and since joining the Eurovision Family have never failed to make it to the Grand Final. This year is no different as this dance-pop song should easily qualify for the Grand Final.

2 – Iceland (RÚV) – Ari Ólafsson – “Our Choice” – 500/1
Debut: 1986
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1989 – nul points, 2001)

Iceland are still waiting for their first win at Eurovision and haven’t qualified for the Grand Final since 2014, and this year they are sending 19-year-old Ari Ólafsson to try to win. This is very much a pop ballad which is very easy to listen to. But with the strength of competition in this Semi-Final, it could struggle to qualify.  It is one to listen to and enjoy though!

3 – Albania (RTSH) – Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall” – 500/1
Debut: 2004
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 17th – SF (2007)

This is the type of entry I love Eurovision for. Eugent’s ‘Mall’ mixes traditional influences with classical rock. While you won’t be rocking out to this you certainly will enjoy listening  to it. One of the one’s I hope will get to the final, where Albania hasn’t been since 2015.

4 – Belgium (VRT) – Sennek – “A Matter of Time” – 50/1
Debut: 1956
Wins: 1  (1986)
Worst Result: Last (1961, 1962- nul points, 1965- nul points, 1973, 1979, 1985, 1993, 2000)

This year it is the turn Flemish broadcaster in Belgium VRT to pick the entry for Eurovision and they have chosen singer and songwriter Sennek who co-wrote this entry with Alex Callier and Maxime Tribèche. This is another type of Eurovision I love, it has Orchestral pop, soul and electronica influences. Belgium has qualified for the final every year since 2015 and I think this will continue and possible end up a top 10 finisher at the Grand Final.

5 – Czech Republic (ČT) – Mikolas Josef – “Lie to Me”– 11/1
Debut: 2007
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2007 – SF, 2009 – SF nul points)

This is the Czech Republic’s 7th entry to Eurovision since their Debut in 2007 and it is by far their best!! Having only appeared in the Grand Final once, back in 2016, Lie to Me is a fun foot tapper. While Mikolas has made headlines due to a back injury suffered due to a fall in rehearsals, the 22 year certainly has a bright future ahead of him no matter what happens at Eurovision.

6 – Lithuania (LRT) – Ieva Zasimauskaitė – “When We’re Old” – 80/1
Debut: 1994
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1994 – nul points, 2005 – SF)

This is a beautiful song from Lithuania’s Ieva who won her ticket to Eurovision on her fifth attempt! Ieva, who is 24, previously entered the Lithuanian National Selection in 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017. This is wonderful pop ballad and should easily qualify for the Grand Final. Its one of my favourite entries.

7 – Israel (KAN) – Netta – “Toy” –  2/1
Debut: 1973
Wins: 3 (1978, 1979, 1998)
Worst Result: 24th (2007 – SF)

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority shut down last year following reforms of the public broadcasting in Israel and Israel is now represented by KAN. This is one of this years top songs and is seen as the one the beat! And its easy to see why! It has topped the chart in Israel and it could do the same at Eurovision. A great pop song! I expect to hear this played in night clubs in Europe whether it wins or not!

8 – Belarus (BTRC) – Alekseev – “Forever” – 80/1
Debut: 2004
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 22nd (2006 – SF)

For this years entry Belarus have sent 24-year-old Alekseev with a synth-pop love song called ‘Forever’.  The song which has charted in the Ukraine and Russia could find it hard to qualify as neither of those countries are in this Semi-Final, but I think song could still qualify as it is a song that will people will like.

9 – Estonia (ERR) – Elina Nechayeva – “La Forza” – 11/2
Debut: 1994
Wins: 1 (2001)
Worst Result: Last (2016 – SF)

Estonia have decided to send a song in Italian, an usual choice but not unheard of, especially when you hear this beautiful operatic pop song. I do expect spectacular staging for this entry going by the national final. This instantly reminds me of Melana Erman’s 2009 Swedish entry ‘La Voix’ which was in English and French. That finished in 4th that year, could Estonia see a top five finish or their 2nd win at Eurovision?

10 – Bulgaria (BNT) – Equinox – “Bones” – 12/1
Debut: 2005
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 19th (2005 – SF)

Bulgaria who were runner’s up last year and back and they are hoping to do well again. Equinox are a five-piece band made up of Bulgarian singers Zhana Bergendorff, Georgi Simeonov, and Vlado Mihailov, and American singers Johnny Manuel and Trey Campbell. This is a pop love song that should do well and could possible be a dark horse, will Eurovision be heading to Bulgaria? Only time will tell! They want to win!

11 -Macedonia (MKRTV) – Eye Cue – “Lost and Found” – 250/1
Debut: 1998
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 16th (2011 – SF, 2013- SF)

This is another song that is going to be a guilty pleasure from Eurovision (it joins a long list!). With EDM and reggae influences this is a great entry from Macedonia and could be great fun on the night. Vocally strong and modern this could surprise us and qualify!

12 – Croatia (HRT) – Franka – “Crazy” – 200/1
Debut: 1993
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 16th (2007 – SF)

It’s at this point of the show we realise how tough it will be to pick 10 songs to qualify! This is fantastic pop entry from Croatia’s Franka which has reached number 2 in the charts in Croatia. This for me is 50/50 on whether it will qualify.

13 – Austria (ORF) – Cesár Sampson – “Nothing But You” – 80/1
Debut: 1957
Wins: 2 (1966, 2014)
Worst Result: Last (1957, 1961, 1962- nul points, 1979, 1984, 1988- nul points, 1991 – nul points, 2012 – SF (Nul points also in 2015 along with Germany))

This is a great entry from Austria. This is a soulful R&B inspired song with a gospel flare. It is one that has quickly grown on me. While its only been 4 years since Austria won Eurovision, this is one that could do very well, if it gets to the final.

14 – Greece (ERT) – Yianna Terzi –  “Oniro mou” (Όνειρό μου) – 66/1
Debut: 1974
Wins: 1 (2005)
Worst Result: 16th (2016 – SF)

‘Oniro Mou’ which translates as My Dream is this years Greek entry and it has already topped the chart in Greece. This pop song is certainly what you expect from Greece. It’s very easy to listen to. It could be a top 10 finisher, I don’t think it will be Greece’s second win at Eurovision

15 – Finland (YLE) – Saara Aalto – “Monsters” – 40/1
Debut: 1961
Wins: 1 (2006)
Worst Result: Last (1963 – nul points, 1965 – nul points, 1968, 1980, 1982 – nul points, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2009, 2015 – SF)

Saara Aalto previously tried to represent Finland in 2011 and 2016 and finished in 2nd both times. She may also seem familiar as she was in the 13th series of X Factor UK where she also finished as runner-up! 2018 is Saara’s year with this amazing pop entry! ‘Monsters’ is one that will get you dancing, it has reached 14 in the Finnish charts so far, can it do better at Eurovision?

16 – Armenia (AMPTV) – Sevak Khanagyan – “Qami” (Քամի) – 250/1
Debut: 2006
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 12th (2011 – SF)

‘Qami’ which translates as Wind is this years Armenia entry. Armenia has only missed the Grand Final once, in 2011, but with the strength of the entries in this semi final, Sevak may find it hard to qualify with this pop ballad.

17 – Switzerland (SRG SSR) –  ZiBBZ – “Stones” – 300/1
Debut: 1956
Wins: 2 (1956, 1988)
Worst Result:  Last (1964 – nul points, 1967 – nul points, 1974, 1998 – nul points, 2004 – SF – nul points, 2010 – SF, 2011, 2015 – SF, 2016 – SF)

ZiBBZ are brother and sister Corinne “Coco” Gfeller (vocals) and Stefan “Stee” Gfeller (drums, keyboard). Stones is pop rock entry which stands out in this Semi-Final. Switzerland has only qualified for the grand final twice since 2007 (2011 & 2014) and with this Semi Final will they qualify? It’s highly unlikely, but surprised do happen at Eurovision!

18 – Ireland (RTÉ) – Ryan O’Shaughnessy – “Together” – 200/1
Debut: 1965
Wins: 7 (1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996)
Worst Result: Last (2007, 2013)

Ireland holds the record for the most wins at Eurovision, but recently have struggled. Ireland hasn’t been since at a Grand Final since 2013. This song is one that has grown on me since I first heard it. The video, which was filmed in Temple Bar, is also beautiful. It’s unlikely to get to the final, but I will be hopeful for 25-year-old Ryan O’Shaughnessy!

19 – Cyprus (CyBC) – Eleni Foureira – “Fuego” – 8/1
Debut: 1981
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1986)

The final entry in this Semi Final is from Cyrus who have qualified to the Grand Final in 2015, 2016 & 2017. This years looks to continue that pattern with this Mediterranean inspired dance entry from Eleni Foureira. This is a great song to finish on and should be remembered easily by the voting public and juries and see it easily into the Grand Final. Cyprus have yet to win Eurovision, could this be dark horse?

So who do I think will qualify? (in no particular order)

  1. Israel
  2. Estonia
  3. Austria
  4. Belgium
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Finland
  7. Bulgaria
  8. Lithuania
  9. Greece
  10. Cyprus

Semi Final 1 takes place at 8pm on Tuesday 8th of May and will be broadcast on RTÉ 2 and BBC 4.