Eurovision 2016 – Semi-Final 2 *UPDATED*

Welcome to my Preview of Semi-Final 2 of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest which takes place on Thursday May 12th in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. Eurovision is getting that bit closer and its time to look at the contestants!

*UPDATE* Today April 22nd the European Broadcasting Union has withdrawn membership services to Romanian Broadcaster TVR following non-payment of debts totalling over €14.5m (CHF 16m). This means that only 42 contestants will compete at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with 18 in each Semi-Final. There is no change to running order.

Semi Final 1 takes place on Tuesday May 10th, check out my preview here.

The new voting system will also apply to the Semi-Finals, but we won’t know the full details of the results until after the Grand Final which takes place on Saturday May 14th. Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are automatically qualified for the Final.

19 Countries are competing for the 10 places in the Grand Final available and Irish hopes rest on Nicky Byrne. Hopes will be raised as the United Kingdom will be voting and performing tonight along with Germany and Italy.

Semi-Final 2 seems to be the tougher of the two Semi’s with some excellent songs (and some not so great) from countries who normally do well. Getting out of this Semi will be quite the task for many of the entries and will be dependent on good performances for the Juries and Televoting Public!

So on with the show!

All betting odds are from PaddyPower for outright winner and taken on 20/04/16
Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 – Semi-Final 2 *UPDATED*”

Eurovision 2013: Semi Final Two Preview

Welcome to the preview of Semi Final Two of the 58th Eurovision Song Contest. Earlier I previewed the entries in Semi Final One which takes place on Tuesday 14th of May. Semi-Final Two takes place on Thursday 16th of May in the Malmö Arena in Sweden. 17 countries are vying for ten places up for grabs for the Final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday 18th of May. Statistically this is the harder Semi-Final as there are more entries, but a lot of the favourites are in Semi-Final One meaning that it might be easier for some of the weaker acts to get through to the final.

As well as the 17 countries participating, Germany, Spain and France will be voting in this Semi Final. All odds taken on 08/05/2013 from PaddyPower.com

1. Latvia: PeR with “Here We Go” Odds: 150/1

One of the more rockier entries opens up this semi-final. I am not sure what to make of this. To be honest I cringed a lot. While I do like a bit of rock music, this isn’t a very strong entry.

Prediction: I am not sure if you would consider this singing. So I do not see this getting through to the final.

2. San Marino: Valentina Monetta with “Crisalide” Odds: 80/1

Malta bring us back to Ballads which made up much of the first Semi-Final. This is a much better entry then last year. San Marino have threatened to pull out of the 2014 edition if doesn’t qualify. It is worth noting that it is a fan favourite coming second in the OGAE International Poll.

Prediction: This isn’t a bad song. But with Italy not voting in this Semi-Final it could find it hard to pick up votes. It may struggle, but I think it will Qualify. Also the curse of number may strike.

3. F.Y.R Macedonia: Esma & Lozano with “Pred Da Se Razdeni” Odds: 150/1

Macedonia have decided to use the formula that worked for Azerbaijan back in 2011 and have sent a duet. Granted this is very much a unconventional pairing! But musically it works. The only issue here is that it does not really catch you. Macedonia will also suffer as many of its Balkan neighbours are in the other Semi-Final.

Prediction: While a good song, I can’t see it getting the votes. Pity.

4. Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov with “Hold Me” Odds:25/1

Another curse associated with Eurovision is the curse of last years hosts. Many people will be watching closely to see if it strikes Azerbaijan this year after their hosting last year in Baku. This year they have entered a ballad by a male singer so that does mark it out from most of what we heard in Semi Final One.

Prediction: Azerbaijan I think will continue its run of successful entries and will qualify for the final easily, but will it be in top 10?

5. Finland: Krista Siegfrids with “Marry Me” Odds: 66/1

Finland who have one of the more dodgier records in Eurovision, has this year sent a song that is assured of qualifying. This is a fun uptempo song that you find yourself nodding along to. Its  “uh-oh, ding dong”‘s tick plenty of Eurovision  boxes! But it doesn’t harm its chances.

Prediction: A fun song, Finland will qualify easily and finish mid table.

6. Malta: Gianlucca Bezzina with “Tomorrow” Odds: 80/1

To be honest I was waiting for this type of folk type pop that is becoming popular again. This song about love certainly is one to make you smile!

Prediction: Should Qualify.

7. Bulgaria: Elitsa Todorova, Stoyan Yankulov with “Samo Shampioni (Only Champions)” Odds: 200/1

Now Bulgaria normally sends something a bit different and this year is no exception. This is certainly different! There is so much happening style wise here that I don’t know where to start. Not my cup of tea.

Prediction: Is going to languish in the Semi’s… I hope.

8. Iceland: Eythor Ingi with “Ég Á Líf” Odds: 100/1

Back to the slow ballads with Iceland and apart from the name of the country I can’t pronounce anything else to do with this entry. It isn’t popular in this house with the sister saying “that its sounds like its from an old Irish film like Songs for a raggy boy, or a chessy song from an ad”. Also Iceland decided not to translate their entry this year, I’m not sure if that has worked for them.

Prediction: Won’t qualify.

9. Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis with “Alcohol Is Free” Odds: 66/1

Now this is more like it. Greece bring us back to some rock, and they do it better then Latvia. While I agree with the sentiment of the title of the song, I am assured that Alcohol is not free in Greece! This one will have you bopping along and saying “Alcohol is Free” very fast for the chorus!

Prediction: This will qualify.

10. Israel: Moran Mazor with “Rak Bishvilo” Odds: 150/1

Israel have decided to also send a ballad this year. While Moran is an excellent singer, yet again this song doesnt hook. It will struggle to qualify if at all.

Prediction: Israel somehow always qualify, so no change there.

11. Armenia: Dorians with “Lonely Planet” Odds: 100/1

Armenia are back following their withdrawal from the 2012 edition as it was hosted by Azerbaijan (arch-enemies, not just in Eurovision). They have entered a soft rock song this year and while it does stand out, it may have a hard time getting votes as it shares this Semi-Final with Azerbaijan.

Prediction: Sorry Armenia, try again next year.

12. Hungry: ByeAlex with “Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)” Odds: 100/1

This is one of those songs that have a 50/50 chance of qualifying. It is very different and simple. Its one to just listen to and close your eyes. Go on.

Prediction: Im not sure what Eurovision voters will make of this. I think it will squeek into the final.

13. Norway: Margaret Berger with “I Feed You My Love” Odds: 13/2

One of this years favourites. It came 3rd in the OGAE International Poll, so Eurovision could be staying in the Nordic countries. After Hungry, Norway’s Margaret gets us going again. This does remind me of the entries the Ukraine used to send. Uptempo, rocky and sexy. Will go down well with the audience and should do well with the voters…. the juries are another matter!

Prediction: Norway on course for a rare top 5 finish! Will easily qualify.

14. Albania: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko with “Identitet” Odds: 150/1

Albania brings us some more rock. It is a bit nondescript though. Nothing stays with you after listening to it. Could struggle with votes.

Prediction: With very few balkan countries in this semi, I dont see this qualifying.

15. Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani with “Waterfall” Odds: 22/1

Georgia is also trying out the duet strategy that worked for Azerbaijan in 2011.  It is a stronger pairing then Macedonia, and so should do well. This song also seems to have that power and step up that is missing from many of the ballad entries this year.

Prediction: Will Qualify and will challenge for a top 10 finish.

16. Switzerland: Takasa with “You and Me” Odds: 150/1

If in doubt send in the Army! Well the Salvation Army. Yup, that is what Switzerland is sending this year! Takasa features the oldest person to grace the Eurovision Stage, 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer on double bass! This is a lovely twee song, but at least they are trying and a warning it grows on you!

Prediction: This song grows on you, so I wouldnt be surprised if it qualifies!

17. Romania: Cezar with “It’s My Life” Odds: 80/1

Wow, can he hit the high notes! That was a little unexpected! While it isn’t as good as last years entry from Romania. It certainly is a good entry.

Prediction: Something unexpected and with it finishing the show it should Qualify.

That is San Marino, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania to qualify. We see if that actually happens! Semi-Final Two will be broadcast at 8pm on Thursday 16th of May on RTÉ2 and BBC3.

Handbook and App

Don’t forget the excellent 2013 Eurovision Handbook is available for download for your Kindle or Kindle enabled Device. Do get it as it is aid of the Irish Cancer Society, plus it is full of all the information you need for this years contest!

Also Eurovision has launched free companion apps for the show available for iPhone/iPad and Android devices. They look great and you can vote via the App (Paypal account needed for billing). See Eurovision.tv for more details.

 

 

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Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final One Preview

Its that time of year again! Eurovision Time! Like every year I do a preview of the Semi’s and attempt to predict who will get into the final.

This year the 57th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan. 42 countries will be taking part. Montenegro returns this year to the competition while Poland and Armenia wont be taking part.

10 countries from each of the Semi-finals will proceed to the Final and join the five automatic qualifiers, the Big Four (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and last years winners and this year’s host Azerbaijan.

The voting will be again be by a combination of Televoting and Professional Jury.

The First Semi Final will take place on the 22nd of May, followed by the Second Semi Final on the 24th of May and the final taking place on May 26th. All shows start at 8:00pm GMT (9:00pm CET)

Ireland has been drawn in the First Semi-Final and along with the 18 countries in this final Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain will be voting in this Semi.

All odds are from Paddy Power and correct on April 15th. Odds are for winning the overall contest.

01 Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus with “Euro Neuro

If you tune in late during the first semi and you can’t figure out whats going on, its probably cause Rambo Amadeus is on stage doing what is described as “crazy jazz-funk music”. Im not sure if you would class it as music. Cant see this getting out of the Semi. Odds: 125/1

02 Iceland: Gréta Salóme & Jónsi with “Never Forget

Iceland is one those countries I normally like and this year they have a duet. This is a bit of rock duet and is a good one. Jónsi previously represented Iceland in Istanbul in 2004 with “Heaven” and came 19th. While Gréta Salóme is a multi talented singer/songwriter who also plays the violin. They combine well on this song and should do well in Baku. Odds: 22/1

03 Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou with “Aphrodisiac

I won’t even attempt to pronounce this ladies name, who is a good singer. She came to fame through X-Factor 2 in 2010, even though she didn’t win. This song is like many past Greek entries. Upbeat pop and catchy! I can definately see myself singing along to this! This should definitely qualify. Odds 22/1

04 Latvia: Anmary with “Beautiful Song”

“She was born in a distant 1980, in the year that Johnny Logan won” that is the first line if this entry from Anmary. She got her start when she came 2nd in The Talent Factory. This song is about fame and name drops a number of famous people. Its an interesting song, and one I do enjoy. Will it stand out at Eurovision is the question. Odds 100/1

05 Albania Rona Nishliu with “Suus” (Personal)

And the first Ballad is from Albania. Some years Ballads are few and far between and that can help make them stand out. Rona certainly has a voice that suits this song. She does a wonderful job with and hopefully can do it on the night. Odds: 100/1

06 Romania: Mandinga with “Zaleilah

Bagpipes, an accordian, a catchy summer tune, whats not to love? Mandinga bring a bit of the the summer party to Eurovision with this song and I for one enjoy it. Mandinga play latino music, latin jazz, balkan salsa or even club music and this song certainly sounds like the perfect mix of them! Odds: 33/1

07 Switzerland: Sinplus with “Unbreakable

And now a rock song! Sinplus are brothers Ivan and Gabriel Broggini who grew up listening to Queen, Bob Marley and U2. This is a good song, but not one you would listen to a lot. Odds: 100/1

08 Belgium: Iris with “Would You?

Belgium send a young 17 year old to the contest, hoping to do what Sandra Kim did in 1986. Here Iris is singing a ballad, which to me is a bet meh and the odds are reflecting this. It will be hard for this to get out of the semi. Odds: 125/1

09 Finland: Pernilla Karlsson with “När jag blundar” (When I close my eyes)

And at the halway point, Finland sends a Swedish Ballad to Baku this year. It is another ballad, but its a nicer one then Belgium, but coming straight after them could harm it. It could sneak out of the Semi. Odds: 80/1

10 Israel: Izabo with “Time

Israel are taking a different direction this year and are sending Izabo, a band that combines Psychadelic Rock, Disco and Punk flavoured with Arabic spices. This is certainly different and should be some fun on stage in Baku. This may well qualify. Odds 100/1

11 San Marino: Valentina Monetta with “The Social Network Song

This is a bit of a strange song about love online and using social networks for love. Its one those songs that is trying to be current. Im not sure if it works. Odds: 150/1

12 Cyprus: Ivi Adamou with “La La Love

This is another summer song that will be in my head for awhile. A more upbeat song then normal from Cyprus but a good move, but coming after the pop song from San Marino might make it harder for them.

13 Denmark: Soluna Samay with “Should’ve Known Better

Denmark is another country I always like and this year is no exception. An excellent song which is a pop song along the lines of Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift which are popular at the moment. This should qualify no problem. Odds:14/1

14 Russia Buranovskiye Babushki with “Party for Everybody

Buranovskiye Babushki or the Russian Grannies as they seem to be known as hail from Udmurtia, a republic between the Kama and Vyatka rivers in Russia. They are certainly very different to anything that has come to Eurovision in the past! They beat a past Eurovision winner to get to Baku so I think they are very much in contention for the top spot! Odds: 5/1

15 Hungary: Compact Disco with “Sound of Our Hearts

After the Russian Grannies we have Compact Disco a dance act from Hungary. It certainly stands out after the last song, but if thats the only reason it won’t go further in the final. It certainly a song that will chart around Europe so will be in the final. Odds: 80/1

16 Austria: Trackshittaz with “Woki mit deim Popo” (Shake your ass)

This duo have their own unique genre “tractor gangster party rap” which may go down well in Ireland! For me it is a bit shouty, but one that will be played in clubs around Europe! I will be in the mix to qualify, but will the name but people off? Odds: 80/1

17 Moldova: Pasha Parfeny with “Lăutar

This is a fun song from Pasha who is well used to winning international music festivals and is hoping to add a Eurovision win to his collection. This is a song that I certainly enjoy, but the bookies don’t think Pasha can take the top prize. Odds 100/1

18 Ireland: Jedward with “Waterline

And to finish out the show, its Jedward!! Jedward, (John and Edward for anyone who has been living under a rock) Irish twins from Lucan, Dublin, try a second time to win Eurovision. Last year they came 8th in Dusseldorf with “Lipstick“. This is fast, uptempo pop song and should see them into the final. At the moment they are 3rd favourite at the bookies with odds of 10/1. Come on Jedward!

Prediction

This is always the hard part, who I want to get in, and actually will. These are the ten acts I think will qualify in no particular order.

  1. Ireland
  2. Russia
  3. Greece
  4. Iceland
  5. Denmark
  6. Romania
  7. Austria
  8. Israel
  9. Finland
  10. Moldova

Who do you think will qualify?

6 days to E-Day for Slovenia and Bulgaria’s and Romania’s Big Day

The 1st of January is going to a big day for the EU. Slovenia will adopt the Euro and Bulgaria and Romania will join the EU

Slovenia will adopt the euro on the 1st of January 2007 at the rate of 239.640 tolars per euro. As a result, the euro area will have a population of 316.6 million, including 2.0 million Slovenians

From the 1st of January, Slovenians will be able to pay in euros or in tolars and receive the change in euros. This period during which the euro and the tolar will both be legal tender (so-called dual circulation period) will end on January 14. As from 15 January 2007 only euro cash will have the status of legal tender in Slovenia. However, it will still be possible to exchange tolars free of charge afterwards

Dual display of prices in euros and in tolars is compulsory since March 2006, which should help consumers getting used to the new scale of values, especially since July when the conversion rate was irrevocably fixed by the ECOFIN ministers.

EU finance ministers and prime ministers have been invited to official celebrations in Ljubljana on 15 January, the deadline for the Slovenian tolar to be removed from circulation.

A guide to the Euro Currency is available from the DG Ecfin website

Preparations in Bulgaria and Romania are under way in Bucharest and Sofia to celebrate their entries to the EU, which could be the last for some time.

Battenberg Square in Sofia will be the scene of Bulgaria’s largest event – organised by a planning committee led by Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev. Bulgaria has declared 2 January a public holiday.

In Romania there will be double celebrations in the town of Sibiu, the Transylvanian capital, which also becomes, along with Luxembourg, the European capital of culture on 1 January.

There will also be joint celebrations at the Giurgiu-Rousse Friendship Bridge on the Bulgarian-Romanian border, where guards will exchange gifts.