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Eurovision semi final 1 Going to the final

Semifinal 1: Which countries are going to the final in Eurovision Song Contest 2018?

Odd unit: EU | UK | US

The Eurovision 2018 semi-final allocation draw took place on January 29, live from Lisbon. Once again, the allocation draw determines two key aspects of the semi-finals for this year’s contest.

The draw first assigns the Big Five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) and host country Portugal to vote in a specific semi-final. The second part of the draw then assigns the remaining 37 countries to perform in a semi-final, and in which half. The draw works by first diving the countries up in to specific pots, with a goal to curb regional “bloc” voting.

As a brief summary, Pot One contains the Balkan countries and Switzerland. Pot Two has the Nordics and Ireland while Pot Three contains all Eastern European countries. Pot Four travels down from Hungary through to Cyprus. Pot Five is a number of leftover, more Western-leaning countries, and finally Pot Six contains the three Baltics, Belgium, Netherlands and Poland.

This year’s semi-final of death has been condensed into a first-half of armageddon. There are around eight songs of qualification quality, yet since 2009 only a maximum of five songs have ever progressed from the first half. The strength of the second-half is still reasonable so we should still expect at least five to qualify; thus, a big name or two will be dumped from the first half.

Opening the show will be Azerbaijan and this is perhaps a better position in the running order than a 4th or 5th where ”X My Heart” would struggle to standout. Since their semi win in 2013, Azerbaijan’s semi-final finishing positions have been 9th, 10th, 6th and 8th. It would appear that the more trashy the song, the higher the score! “X MY Heart” isn’t as punchy as “Miracle”, but it should be vocally stronger.

A problem for Belgium is that the country is following Iceland and Albania, and then being followed by the Czech Republic right at the point when viewers will be craving another lift in the tempo. Then, after Mikolas we get Lithuania’s haunting song from Ieva. Lithuania has more allies and diaspora than Belgium, but does drone on and on. Enhanced lighting and camerawork should compensate for what was a static national final performance, so for now it stays amber.

Austria, Switzerland and Ireland are all floating around lower positions with maybe Austria and Ireland being the surprises. Cesár has great vocals and his competent, middle-of-the-road, jury-friendly song could scrape through.

The real joker in the pack is Ryan O’Shaughnessy for Ireland. Logic says Cyprus should burn his chances of qualifying, but being the last authentic song, there is a chance his Ed Sheeran schtick resonates with viewers and earns Ireland their first qualification since 2013.

If there is a shock qualifier, Macedonia’s Eye Cue might be it. “Lost & Found” is a kaleidoscope of genres, yet it strangely works. Unlike last year, vocals and stagecraft don’t seem to be an issue; however, their running-order slot is far from ideal. FYRoM will feel very uplifting coming after gloomy Bulgaria.