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Eurovision: Semi Final 1 – The winners and losers

Photo by Thomas Hanses (EBU)

What a Eurovision this is shaping up to be!

Barely a moment goes by in the press centre without a new favourite emerging or a choppy performance condemning another artist to the dumpster.

It’s a year without a runaway favourite and Semi Final 1 has so much quality in it that by the end of Tuesday evening we’ll be looking at a total bloodbath!

Eighteen acts take to the stage, but only ten will make it through to the grand final – so here’s our top three surefire bets to qualify, and a few that’ll fall flat.

Top three to qualify:

Russia

Sergey’s not officially “one of us”, but let’s just say we’ve been playing close attention to those blank Grindr profiles within 100 metres of Stockholm’s Globen Arena…

You Are The Only One is a poppers o’clock spectacular and should sail through to the finals no problem – but perhaps the glossy production, projection mapping and over-the-top lyrics will work against the Russians in the actual final. It’s a great track, but can such a overblown performance connect with the audience at home?

Not sure we fancy Sochi 2017… but more on that later.

Look out for: Those perspex steps! Sergey came a cropper during his first rehearsals, and a slip up on Tuesday could see his hopes of Eurovision glory come crashing down too! 

Iceland

This isn’t Greta’s first time at the rodeo – she competed as part of a duet back in 2012. Another big production number but unlike Russia’s entry, I Hear Them Calling sews together the different components of performance, lyrics, vocals and production to a much more effective degree.

This slow-burning banger without a chorus has been delivered impeccably throughout rehearsals. It’s our tip to be the dark horse of the competition.

Look out for: Spooky giant hands inspired by the Labyrinth’s oubliette scene.

Malta

Plucky little Malta might have found the recipe for success this year – take 2002 runner-up Ira Losco, try out three or four different songs in front of the public… then scrap them all and go for a Swedish-penned Euro-stomper. Walk On Water is a track that could’ve won the contest in two or three of the last ten Eurovisions but runs the risk of sounding a tiny bit dated amongst such a strong field this year.

The tiny island nation can depend on Ira’s utterly flawless vocal performance, and as for the production? Well colour me shocked – more digital projections! But this time on a dress. A dress! What larks!

The top five beckons.

Look out for: a baby bump! Ira’s just announced she’s pregnant. 

Also safely through: Armenia, Hungary, Cyprus and Austria.

But for every winner there has to be a loser. These three are going straight to the dumpster:

San Marino

When San Marino released the official video for this years’ entry it caused a bit of a twitter storm. Who knew that a cheesey, tuneless, non-sensical ballad completely with a little paper Serhat, LED love letter and computer-generated monocle would be instantly dismissed as utter rubbish?

WELL. It got weirder. One British fan started a petition to have San Marino enter the disco mix of I Didn’t Know on the grounds that “you’re never going to qualify with this, so we may as well have a laugh with it” and yes, reader – San Marino listened!

If this doesn’t come anything other than last there’s something incredibly wrong.

Greece

Oh Greece. What happened? You usually do so much better.

This plodding Balkan folk ballad with a lacklustre production could be the undoing of Greece’s 100% qualification record, which would be a great shame.

Not so much ‘let’s have a kiki’, more ‘let’s have tzatziki and pop the kettle on’ when this takes to the stage.

Montenegro

In theory we should be all over this Balkan boyband. Guitars, attitude, a little bit of facial hair… but have your ear plugs at the ready – these angry, angry boys are performing what feels like two songs that have been spliced together by a particularly vindictive – and also deaf – Linkin Park fan.

Refrains of “I see you, inside me… feel it I’m the real thing, yeah” leave us clenching.

 Tune in for Eurovision: Semi Final 1 on BBC FOUR, Tuesday 10 May at 8pm.

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