Eurovision 2016 – We are off to Ukraine!

Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest, JamalaCredit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest, Jamala Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

Congratulations to Jamala and the Ukraine on winning the 61st Eurovision Song Contest! This is the Ukraine’s second Eurovision win. They first won the contest in 2004 when Ruslana and her “Wild Dances” stormed Eurovision.

In the best contest in years, Jamala’s “1944”, a song about the deportation of Crimean Tartars by Stalin, showed how a strong song that stands out from the crowd can win the Song Contest.

Petra, Mans and everyone involved at SVT put on an amazing show! I adored the Interval act! Ukraine’s NTU have a tough act to follow!

The voting sequence was fantastic. The new voting system led to real suspense right up to that last moment!

Scoreboard following the Televote
Scoreboard following the Televote
Australia's Dami Im gets 12 points. Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)
Australia’s Dami Im gets 12 points. Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)

Going into the televote Australia had a commanding lead of 109 points over the Ukraine. Many thought it would be insurmountable, but Australia were not as popular with the televote as they were with the Juries as they came 4th in that vote.

Seeing Poland jump from 2nd last with 7 points from the juries to 8th place thanks to the televote really shows the beauty of this new voting system!

Russian Entry Sergey Lazarev. Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Russian Entry Sergey Lazarev. Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

Russia narrowly won the Televote as they received 361 points to the Ukraine’s 323 but when added to the televote the Ukraine won with 534 points! 

Ukraine now hold the record for the most points for a Eurovision winner beating Alexander Rybak’s 387 point total for “Fairytale” in 2009. In fact the top 3 this year beat that score!

  1. Ukraine 534
  2. Australia 511
  3. Russia 491

This year was the first year that the winner of the Contest did not win either the Jury or the Televote! The Ukraine finished second in both.

But the Ukraine did win the most Douze points at the contest getting 17. They received 12 points from the 11 Juries, those were Bosnia Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, San Marino, Serbia and Slovenia. While Ukraine topped the televote in six countries, those were Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland and San Marino.

Russia got 14 Douze Points (4 Jury, 10 televote) while Australia got 12 (9 Jury, 3 televote).

Bloc voting was all over the place. It was near impossible to predict where 12 points were going to go. Norway not giving a single point to Sweden in the Jury vote was a prime example!

They did come 4th in the televote though getting 7 points from Norway.

Russia did win the 1st Semi-Final beating Armenia, while Malta finished in 3rd. While in the 2nd Semi Final Australia beat the eventual winners Ukraine (2nd) with Belgium coming 3rd.

How did Ireland vote?

The Irish Jury wasn’t very good at picking a winner and failed to give the Ukraine a single point!! They in fact ranked it 15th! Belgium got the top marks from the Jury in both the Grand Final and the 2nd Semi-Final. They finished 10th overall. Lithuania, who finished 9th, won the Televote vote for both the Final and the Semi-Final The Irish televote had a bit more sense and ranked it 4th so it got 7 points.

Belgian Entry Laura Tesoro, 10th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Belgian Entry Laura Tesoro, 10th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

The Grand Final Irish Jury Vote:

  1. Belgium 12
  2. Bulgaria 10
  3. Netherlands 8
  4. United Kingdom 7
  5. Italy 6
  6. Sweden 5
  7. Israel 4
  8. France 3
  9. Czech Republic 2
  10. Latvia 1
Lithuania Entry Donny Montell, 9th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Lithuania Entry Donny Montell, 9th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

The Grand Final Irish Televote

  1. Lithuania 12
  2. Poland 10
  3. Russia 8
  4. Latvia 7
  5. Australia 6
  6. Bulgaria 5
  7. Ukraine 4
  8. United Kingdom 3
  9. Sweden 2
  10. Austria 1

Ireland’s Nicky Byrne who failed to qualify for the final from the 2nd Semi-Final finished 15th with 46 points finishing 1 point ahead of Albania!

Ireland got points from

  • Australia (Televote 4th – 7 points),
  • Belgium (Televote 7th – 4 points),
  • Denmark (Jury 7th – 4 Points, Televote 7th – 4 points)
  • Israel (Jury 9th – 2 Points, Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Italy (Jury 9th – 2 points)
  • Latvia (Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Lithuania (Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Norway (Jury 8th – 3 points, Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Poland (Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Switzerland (Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Ukraine (Jury 9th – 2 points)
  • United Kingdom (Jury 9th – 2 points, Televote 4th – 7 points)

Adrian Kavanagh has looked into the points in more detail.

So we are off to the Kyiv next year where 7 countries have already confirmed their participation. They will have a hard act to follow after the amazing job done by SVT and the hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw!

I can’t promise this is the last Eurovision post this year as Ireland takes part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Malta later this year!

Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 2 Results

semi2qualifiersThe Second Semi Final of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest took place tonight in Stockholm and what a Semi it was. From start to finish, Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw but on an amazing show. Well done to the host broadcaster SVT, I’m really looking forward to Saturdays show! (I especially liked Mans here…)

The show started off with an amazing opening act on “What is Eurovision?” Do watch it, it reminded me of the interval act from 2013, the Swedish Smörgåsbord  also starring Petra.

We also got a bit of history of the Eurovision Song Contest in the form of Numbers which amazed the nerds like me…

So on to the qualifiers. The ten countries that made it to the Grand Final are:

  • Latvia
  • Georgia
  • Bulgaria
  • Australia
  • Ukraine
  • Serbia
  • Poland
  • Israel
  • Lithuania
  • Belgium

So hard luck to Ireland, Switzerland, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Slovenia, Denmark, Norway and Albania who don’t make it through.

For those wondering I got 9/10 again on my predictions! Damn you Georgia!

We shall find out the running order for the final tomorrow ahead of the Jury Final tomorrow night. Join me again on the @UCCExpress Twitter account for some views and opinions on the final which will air at 8pm on Saturday Night on RTÉ One with Marty Whelan and on BBC One with Graham Norton.

 

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 2014: Semi-Final 2 Qualifiers

The 2nd Semi Final has just finished in Copenhagen. Here are those who follow Montenegro, Hungary, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, San Marino, Ukraine, Sweden, Netherlands and Iceland in the final as well as Spain, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Denmark who automatically qualified for Saturday!

Well done to DR on a great show and Australia on an amazing interval!

Joining them are

  1. Switzerland
  2. Slovenia
  3. Poland
  4. Romania
  5. Norway
  6. Greece
  7. Malta
  8. Belarus
  9. Finland
  10. Austria

So I managed 8/10. Ireland and Israel didnt qualify. Surprised at that.

So the final is on Saturday at 8pm on RTÉ1 and BBC 2! See you then!

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Eurovision 2014: Semi-Final 1 Qualifiers

The First Semi-Final of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest has just finished and congratulations to all the acts and to DR  for a great show.

Here are the countries that have qualified for the Final on Saturday.

  1. Montenegro
  2. Hungary
  3. Russia
  4. Armenia
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. San Marino
  7. Ukraine
  8. Sweden
  9. Netherlands
  10. Iceland

I managed to predict 9/10 only getting San Marion wrong and picking Belgium instead!

The next Semi-Final is on Thursday at 8pm which will see Ireland take part! It can be seen on RTÉ2 and BBC3

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Eurovision Song Contest 2014 Semi-Final 1 Preview

 

Español: Composición de Dinamarca en el Festiv...

Tomorrow see’s the First Semi-Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 get under way. As I type this the Jury Final is currently taking place, but as with previous years my preview will be based on the Youtube videos of the Artists. I have also included the betting odds for outright winners for the entries from PaddyPower as at 5/5/2014.

This Semi-Final sees 16 countries battling it out for 10 places in Saturdays final. As well as the 16 participating countries Spain, France and Denmark will be voting in this Semi-Final.

Semi-Final 1 will air on Tuesday May 6th at 8pm on RTÉ2 and BBC3.

 1. Armenia: Armenia are this years favourite and it is easy to see why. This is fantastic track from Aram MP3. Its very easy listening, catchy and certainly one with an excellent chance of winning. Not Alone is not your typical pop song. It has guts it has feeing and even through it is first, I think the juries and the voters will remember it. If this wins expect to hear it on the radio a lot!

Aram MP3 – Not Alone
Odds: 13/8

2.Latvia: Latvia this time have drawn the “unlucky” 2nd spot. This is a different number. Aarzemnieki certainly has a lot of fun with this song! The chorus is very catchy so expect to be singing about asking your mother how bake a cake! It could be one to surprise us and qualify.

Aarzemnieki – Cake to Bake
Odds: 200/1

3. Estonia: Estonia bring is the first up-tempo song of the night. As watchers will know, songs like this live and die by their live performance. I certainly enjoy this song, but I expect some great choreography or show on stage to get it through to the final. Will be interesting to see what they have planned for tomorrow night.

Tanja – Amazing
Odds: 80/1

4. Sweden: Looking at the betting odds this is certainly the tougher semi-final as Sweden are 2nd favourites with Sanna. Could Undo see us heading back over the bridge to Sweden? It certainly is a possibility with this song. Like Armenia it is easy to listen to and Sanna is an amazing singer and should qualify easily. Will be a top 3 finisher, no doubt about it!

Sanna Nielson – Undo
Odds: 11/4

5. Iceland: Iceland bring a bit of soft rock music to Eurovision and while this song certainly has a message, is it one most Eurovision audiences are already aware of! I expect a fun performance from this band with lots of rainbows, and depending how receptive the voters and juries are, it may sneak in.

Pollapönk – No Prejudice
Odds: 200/1

6. Albania: This is a nice song from Albania, unfortunately I cannot make out most of what Hersi is actually singing. It can be lost in the background with the music over powering the singing at times. I don’t see it progressing very far.

Hersi – One Night’s Anger
Odds: 200/1

7. Russia: The Tolmachevy Sisters are no strangers to representing Russia at Eurovision. They won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest for Russia back in 2006 and are now attempting the double! This song could certainly end up in the top 5 on Saturday and should easily sail through this semi-final as it is a good song and the sisters are great singers.

Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine
Odds: 40/1

8. Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan are chasing their second Eurovision win with this entry, and with this Ballad they could do it. Its the first ballad (or as my Mother puts “proper Eurovision” song). Dilara has the voice that perfectly suits this song with its eastern backing music, blending perfectly into this modern song. A top 5 finisher here!

Dilara Kazimova – Start a Fire
Odds: 20/1

9. Ukraine: This could be a contentious semi considering recent events involving Ukraine and Russia. Interestingly DR and EBU have had to clarify that those voting in the Crimea will have their votes counted as Ukrainian votes. The Ukraine have again sent a great uptempo number to Eurovision. Its always an entry I look forward to as it always entertains. This should qualify easily and be in contention.

Maria Yaremchuk – Tick-Tock
Odds: 11/1

10. Belgium: Well I wasnt expecting that voice! The second ballad of the night and it is just wow! I really enjoyed it. It could be Belgium’s 3rd appearance in the Final since the introduction of the Semi-Finals and could be up there with their 2006 result of 6th!

Axel Hirsoux – Mother
Odds: 33/1

11. Moldova: This is a bit if bland entry from Moldova. While Cristina certainly has talent, the song is what lets her down. I didnt feel anything for it and its easily forgotten.

Cristina Scarlat – Wild Soul
Odds: 200/1

12. San Marino: Valentina is back hoping to be 3rd time lucky! She has represented San Marino for the last 2 years and why change now? This is her best entry yet. A modern ballad. Could see her into the final, but will it be lost there? More then likely but will be the best result for San Marino since they first entered in 2008

Valentina Monetta – Maybe (Forse)
Odds: 200/1

13. Portugal: Portugal are back following a break from the contest last year. This is a bit of a fun summer song with major Mediterranean influences.  Lots of  “oh oh ohs”, but not one that

Suzy – Quero Ser Tua (I want to be Yours)
Odds: 200/1

14. Netherlands: Now this is the type of music I have gotten into recently. A nice country song here from the Netherlands. Simple, enjoyable and one you will be tapping your feet to! I hope this gets through.

Th Common Linnets – Calm After the Storm
Odd: 66/1

15. Montenegro: This is a fantastic entry from Montenegro. A song you should just close your eyes and enjoy, but dont! The video is lovely! A beautiful song and Sergej does it justice. The song is haunting and could do better then the bookies think.

Sergej Ćetković – Moj Svijet (My World)
Odds: 100/1

16. Hungary: The last song of the night and one to watch! This is the perfect song to end the show on a high note. While the subject of the song is a tough one, the song is very different from what precedes and will will certainly stand out to the voters and juries. I expect a fast paced performance also.

Kállay-Saunders – Running
Odds: 14/1

Thats it. The 16 acts for semi-final one. But who will qualify? Here is my prediction, in no particular order:

  1. Armenia
  2. Sweden
  3. Hungary
  4. Belgium
  5. Netherlands
  6. Ukraine
  7. Russia
  8. Iceland
  9. Azarbaijan
  10. Montenegro

What do you think? Put your predictions in the comments!

All in all, tomorrow night will be a good show!

 

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Eurovision 2013: Semi Final One Preview

Its that time of year again, and it nearly slipped by without me posting about it which would have been a first! The 58th Eurovision Song Contest gets underway in Malmö, Sweden. Of course the reason Sweden are hosting is thanks to the wonderful win by Loreen with that amazing song “Euphoria”, which has been the most successful commercial Eurovision entry ever! This year 39 countries are competing to win the greatest show on earth. Armenia returns to the contest after skipping Azerbaijan (for political reasons) and Bosnia & Herzegovina, Portugal, Slovakia and Turkey all take a break from the contest.

As usual the Contest is split over 3 nights. Semi-Final One takes place on Tuesday May 14th, Semi-Final Two takes place on Thursday May 16th and the Final takes place on Saturday May 18th. All the shows will be broadcast by RTÉ and the BBC, as well as the various broadcasters in Europe and further afield who broadcast the show.

There are 26 places in the final. 10 contestants from each semi-final will join the “big five” (Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom) and the host (Sweden) in the final. Ireland has been drawn to perform in the first Semi-Final.

Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom have been drawn to vote in Semi-Final 1. Lets see what we are up against. (All odds as of 06/05/2013 from PaddyPower.com)

1. AustriaNatália Kelly with “Shine” Odds: 100/1

Austria open up the show with this entry. It is the first ballad of the night, but very much on the pop side of things. It is a massive improvement on last year’s entry from Trackshittaz… With her surname Kelly, Natália may pick up a few votes from Ireland (Her Grandfather is Irish), but with there being plenty of ballads in this semi-final it may be difficult for this entry to shine out and get into the final.

Prediction: Will do as most Austrian entry’s do and fail to get out of the Semi-Final, but they wont come last like they did last year.

2. Estonia: Birgit with”Et Uus Saaks Alguse” Odds: 125/1

The curse of number 2. Statically at Eurovision this is the worst position to perform at. Which is a pity. Estonia have decided to follow what worked for them and enter a ballad in Estonian. Their entry last year “Kuula” by Ott Lepland came in 6th. This song is good, but as it following a ballad and followed by an up-tempo entry it may find it hard to be remembered.

Prediction: While it won’t win the contest, it will probably qualify and as long as it avoids the “curse of number 2” at the final it should finish in the top 10.

3. Slovenia: Hannah with “Straight into Love” Odds: 100/1

Slovenia bring us the first uptempo entry of the night with this song. Definitely a song that you would not be surprised to hear on the radio and in the charts these days. I must admit I do like it, buts it isnt very memorable in comparison to what we normally hear, so it may not pick up votes.

Prediction: I think this one has a 50/50 chance of qualifying. If this gets through and Estonia does not, it will be a clear case of “curse of number 2” on Estonia!

4. Croatia: Klapa s mora with “Mižerja” Odds: 100/1

Croatia brings us back to the ballads. This is a lovely entry and the vocals are magnificent. One you can definitely close your eyes and listen to. Reminds me a little of Il Divo!

Prediction: This entry may find it hard to get out of the Semi. But I would not be surprised if it did!

5. DenmarkEmmelie de Forest with “Only Teardrops” Odds: 7/5

I know I always love the Danish entry, but this year they deserve my love, and the fans and bookies also love them as they are the pre-contest favourite. This is fantastic entry. An excellent singer, powerful song and an excellent presentation. The tin whistle and drums just really make it for me.

Prediction: This could go all the way. Definitely a contender for the top spot.

6. Russia: Dina Garipova with “What If” Odds:14/1

Russia after sending the grannies last year (who did come 2nd!) have decided this year to send a more conventional act. Dina has fantastic voice and this song (another ballad) really shows it off. While it is a ballad in a semi chock a block with them, it is one of the more memorable ones.

Prediction: Its Russia, of course they will qualify. It will probably finish in the top 10.

7. Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich with “Gravity” Odds: 4/1

Following on from last years disappointing 15th place finish, the Ukraine have decided to tone it down this year. This is a nice pop ballad. Certainly not the uptempo style we are used to from the Ukraine in recent years, but this definitely works and should see it through to the final.

Prediction: Will qualify easily and may even end up in the top 5.

8. The NetherlandsAnouk with “Birds” Odds: 20/1

The Netherlands always try to get into the final, and nearly always fails (along with Belgium), but it nevers gives up. Bless. This year may see a change in  fortunes for The Netherlands. This is one of the ballads that actually stand out (and the mother likes it). Being at the half point won’t hurt it chances either.

Prediction: It will qualify but prob end up mid-table in the final.

9. Montenegro: Who See with “Igranka” Odds: 200/1

Montenegro continue to educate on the type of music that is in the Balkans. But I think like last year this won’t get very far. It is not a novelty act but it is certainly the point where I will be going to put the kettle on….

Prediction: If this qualifies there is something strange going on!

10. Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis with “Something” Odds: 100/1

Be careful with this one. Andrius can hypnotise you with his eyebrows! Seriously watch the video… But back to the song, its a fairly lacklustre effort that really does not go anywhere.

Prediction: Won’t qualify unless most of Europe is hypnotised by those eyebrows!

11. Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya with “Solayoh” Odds: 50/1

Now this sounds like a number of Eurovision Winners mashed together! This seems to have a Mediterranean feel to it, despite Belarus being no where near it! It certainly is different from its recent entries. Belarus failed to qualify last year, and it normally does, so I think that may be a blip in its record and this will bring it back to form.

Prediction: With Russia in this Semi Belarus is assured of qualification and if in the final will has a respectable finish.

12. Moldova: Aliona Moon with “O Mie” Odds: 80/1

And we are back to the Ballads. Moldova has this entry in English and Romanian. And while there is no denying Aliona is a good singer, I dont see this one going far.

Prediction: It will Qualify. Just. Finish near the end of the table

13. Ireland: Ryan Dolan with “Only Love Survives” Odds: 25/1

After inflicting Jedward on Europe for the past two years, we decided to give them a pass and this and decided to send Ryan Dolan (Son of Joe). This is one of the catchier entries we have sent and is stronger then the two songs we sent Jedward off with. I like it and as it is one of the more uptempo tunes, sandwiched between two ballads it will do well.

Prediction: Ryan will qualify and will possible finish in the top 10.

14. Cyprus: Despina Olympiou with “An Me Thimasai” Odds: 150/1

Yet another Ballad! There is a point when you can’t listen to them anymore (no matter how much you love Eurovision!). This is a nice entry from the Cypriots but they have done better in the past (like last year!)

Prediction: No Greece, so no Qualification.

15. Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa with “Love Kills” Odds: 200/1

Belgium really does try, it does. But like its neighbour The Netherlands it never really gets there. This is another good entry from the Belgians, but its middle of the road Pop, which could have been sung by Take That back in the day.

Prediction: With the Netherlands having a stronger entry, this won’t qualify.

16. Serbia: Moje 3 with “Ljubav Je Svuda” Odds: 66/1

Serbia ends Semi-Final One with this uptempo entry. Serbia always manage to find a song that will qualify and this year is no different. It will definitely retain its title as one of the most successful new entries to Eurovision.

Prediction: Serbia will Qualify, come on, do you even watch Eurovision? But this will finish mid-table.

So that is Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia to qualify.

Semi-Final one gets under way Tuesday 14th May at 8pm on RTÉ 2 and BBC 3.

 

The 2013 Eurovision Handbook

Adrian Kavanagh and Johnny Fallon have published the “The 2013 Eurovision Handbook” for Kindle available on Amazon.

We all have opinions as to what we like and don’t like from a Eurovision song, but it becomes absolutely fascinating to watch and predict voting patterns and the cultural shifts and preferences across different regions. It always adds to any Eurovision party if you can throw some history and light on an entry, it shows it to be much more than just a song looking for votes. Doing well at the contest is no mean feat.
This book aims to arm you with all you need to know about the 2013 contestants, what’s hot, what’s not, what’s mad and just why statistics play such a vital supporting role for any nations prospects. Adrian Kavanagh is one of the greatest minds there is for calculating statistics and assessing vote patterns, this material is drawn from his vast array of research. So please, with our help, feel free to amaze your friends with your Eurovision knowledge. I will always love the Eurovision Song Contest, it places politics, geography, society and voting against a background of all types of music. It is fun, but as you will see in the following pages it has lessons to offer if you know where to look.

All the proceeds from the sales go to the Irish Cancer Society. So do go buy it!

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Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final Two Preview

Welcome to the Preview for the Second Semi-Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, if you missed Semi 1 it’s here! I will of course be making a prediction, which will most likely be wrong!

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. France, Germany and United Kingdom will also be voting in this Semi-Final.

All the betting odds are from PaddyPower.com and are correct as of April 30th.

So on with the show!

01 Serbia: Željko Joksimović with “Nije ljubav stvar” (Love is not an object)

This is Željko 2nd attempt at Eurovision, having represented Serbia and Montenegro (as it was then known) where he came 2nd in 2004 with “Lane Moje“. This is a powerful song and definitely has the chance of doing well. It will be a top ten finisher, but will it win? I dont think so. Odds: 12/1

02 F.Y.R. Macedonia: Kaliopi with “Crno i belo” (Black and white)

We stay in the Balkans for the next entry, this starts off slow, but then really gets going. Lots of musical influences at play here with Kaliopi who is well known around the Balkans and could bode well for the voting, but can’t see her picking up too many votes outside of the Balkans. Odds:125/1

03 Netherlands: Joan Franka with “You and Me”

This is a happy, feel good song of Eurovision of old. The Netherlands hasn’t havent had the best results of late at Eurovision and I don’t think this year will be different with Joan. It is a nice song, but will the televoters like it? This could be rescued by the Jurors. Odds 50/1

04 Malta: Kurt Calleja with “This Is the Night”

Malta keeps up its tradition of sending modern songs. This is a better entry then some of the previous entries, but it isn’t as good as some of the entries,but it is catchy (ye eh eh eh eh). Kurt has a chance of qualifying I think. Odds: 150/1

05 Belarus: Litesound with “We Are the Heroes”

Litesound, whos members hail from Belarus, Russia and Italy, finally managed to win the right to represent Belarus this year. They have entered a bit of a pop/rock tune. Its not that great (needs autotune!) or memorable, could struggle to get out of the Semi. Odds: 100/1

06 Portugal: Filipa Sousa with “Vida minha” (Life of mine)

Portugal again attempts to do something different and this year has entered a ballad in the Portuguese “Fado” style. While there is no doubt that Filipa is an amazing singer, but it will have to depend a lot on stage presentation to get through. Odds 150/1

07 Ukraine: Gaitana with “Be My Guest”

The Ukraine likes to send strong women to Eurovision and this year is no different with Gaitana. This is a upbeat catchy song which will definately be heard in clubs! This will go down well in the hall, if the stage presentation is as upbeat and powerful as the song. One to watch. Odds: 66/1

08 Bulgaria: Sofi Marinova with “Love Unlimited”

A number of countries tried out dance songs last year and this year Bulgaria is trying out one. Love Unlimited is certainly a song you can dance too, but is it what Eurovision audiences want? Odds: 100/1

09 Slovenia: Eva Boto with “Verjamem” (I believe)

At the half way point is Slovenia, who have entered a Ballad. Eva has a beautiful voice and it perfectly suits this haunting song. This could be one to surprise us if it gets to the final. Odds: 50/1

10 Croatia: Nina Badrić with “Nebo” (Heaven)

Croatia this year sent one of the top performers in Croatia to Baku, and it has paid off. Nina has a wonderful song which will win people over. This is a song you should listen to ahead of the show! Odds: 80/1

11 Sweden: Loreen with “Euphoria”

Sweden, who were pipped at the post last year, are back with a vengeance! It is this year’s pre-contest favourite, which can be the kiss of death! But I think Loreen could pull it off. It is a song that ticks all the boxes and is definitely a possible winner! (Yes im typing while bopping around to it!) Odds: 9/4

12 Georgia: Anri Jokhadze with “I’m a Joker”

This is, erm, different. But it is a bit of fun at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be Eurovision without it! Interestingly Anri is the first male performer to represent Georgia! Im looking forward to see what he will do on stage with this! Odds: 125/1

13 Turkey: Can Bonomo with “Love Me Back”

There is no doubt of the Mediterranean influence on this song! Turkey have remember why they have done well in the past and sent Can Bonomo, a DJ, Producer and musician. This is a song that will be remembered and will certainly qualify! Odds 20/1

14 Estonia: Ott Lepland with “Kuula” (Listen)

Ott who won Estonian Idol in 2009; the lead role in High School Musical in 2010; the show Laulupealinn (Singing Capital) in 2011 and of course Eesti Laul, the Estonian national selection. He is hoping to add the Eurovision Song Contest to this list with this very powerful ballad. It stands out as being the only male ballad so far. He also wrote this song himself. He will do well! Odds: 50/1

15 Slovakia: Max Jason Mai with “Don’t Close Your Eyes”

Max is a bit of hotty, in the rocky kinda way! Max who is also a guitarist brings proper rock music to Eurovision this year. He reminds me a bit of Jon Bon Jovi! Its a good song and better then some of the other rock offerings we have had this year. Odds 100/1

16 Norway: Tooji with “Stay”

Tooji is Norway’s answer to Eric Saade, but with Iranian roots! (Read total ride) This is a good song, which Norway has managed to do over the past few years. But this is one of their best entries in a number of years. Odds: 25/1

17 Bosnia & Herzegovina: Maya Sar with “Korake ti znam” (I know your steps)

And Bosnia sends another ballad. It is a lovely song and it is better then some of the other ballads this year. Maya is a fantastic singer, and will most likely own the stage in Baku. Odds 80/1

18 Lithuania: Donny Montell with “Love Is Blind”

I wonder will he wear the blind fold in Baku, it does work and he is very cute! But the song is only so-so. But it may still get through!  Odds 100/1

So that is all the entries for the Second Semi-Final.

Prediction

So who will get through to the final? Some of it easy to guess, some of it not! So in no particular order,

  1. Sweden
  2. Norway
  3. Ukraine
  4. Turkey
  5. Serbia
  6. Slovenia
  7. Estonia
  8. Croatia
  9. Lithuania
  10. The Netherlands.

What do you think?

Where does Europe End? – The future challenges of EU Enlargement.

Where does Europe End, is one of the often asked questions when talking about the enlargement of the European Union.  With the current negotiations with Turkey progressing (albeit slowly) the next challenge will be where next? Will the accession of Turkey see Syria (Middle East) or Armenia (Western Asia) applying for membership?

That is of course dependent on Turkey being integrated into the EU’s structures as that itself will involve reform of the institutions. Turkey if its joins will be the second largest EU member state in terms of population, second only to that of Germany. This will mean that voting weights and seats in the European Parliament will have to be moved around to satisfy the older member states. The accession, or possible accession of, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Iceland, Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, do not present the same challenges to the EU institutions and can easily be absorbed into the institutions, though maybe not all at once.

But after Turkey will the EU expand beyond the Balkans? Will the Ukraine or Belarus (both with large populations) apply to join? Belarus may be a long way off, but Ukraine may apply before negotiations with Turkey finish. Will the Europe Union start looking beyond Europe for members? Will Morocco reapply? Could Cape Verde, due to its close ties to the EU and proximity to the Canary Islands, apply?

These are the challenges that face the EU after it deals with the issue of Turkish accession. That is dependent of course on there being an appetite for the further expansion of the European Union. Older Member States seem reluctant to expand the EU further. Opposition to Turkish accession seems to be strongest in the likes of Germany and France. There is a quasi racism to this opposition, but also there is a weariness of expansion. This is evidenced by the fears of the “Plombier polonaise”, Polish Plumber, in France after the accession of Poland and the other Central and Eastern European States in 2004.

Beyond France the limits on the immigration of workers from Bulgaria and Romania after accession in most EU member states shows the unwillingness of member states to completely open up to new members of the union.  This shows the reluctance of member states to fully open up to new members. This in the future translate could translate to the end of enlargement of the European Union after the accession of the current candidate states.

The accession of more states from Eastern Europe and the Balkans will mean a further move of power away from Western Europe. Upon the accession of the Balkans, they will be a formidable Eastern European bloc within the EU. This will again see more changes being made to the institutions of the EU. Again the interplay here with Turkey on its accession with other member states and would it be more Eastern or Western in its outlook is what has most political leaders worried.

Another issue at stake is the feelings of ordinary European Citizens. While citizens of applicant states get a say in whether or not a country joins the EU, normally through referenda,  the citizens of countries already members have no say. There is growing resentment to this situation and this in turn fuels far rights groups as they promise referenda on future EU enlargement, often though this has been offered by not so far right groups in ordinary to entice voters back!

EU enlargement is turning into a minefield and the EU, member states and applicant states must be cautious on how they approach it.

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