Eurovision 2013: Semi-Final Running Order
As promised, here is my take on the winners and losers of the Semi-Final running order. In case you do not know, for the first time in the history of the Contest, the producers are determining the running order. The previous 57 editions of the Contest used random draw to determine the running order. SVT’s defense for moving in this direction? “It makes for a better show.” The Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the EBU Jon Ola Sand has said that the idea behind this move is to give each song a “chance to shine.”
I think they are misguided in their intentions. I do not think that they can preserve the competitive integrity of the Contest without going back to the random draw. Unfortunately, while fans (people who follow the Contest beyond the one week of May during which it takes place) are vehemently against this move, we only make up a small percentage of the total number of viewers and consumers of ESC, so, ultimately, our voice does not mean much. So, essentially, we should saddle up and prepare ourselves for producer-determined running orders to stay.
With all that said, here’s my take on the running orders for the Semi-Finals!
Austria fits very nicely at the beginning of the show as it is a mid-tempo song with a big ending. While it is a bit generic, going first will help make it a bit more memorable, as long as Natália Kelly’s vocals are stronger than they were in the national selection.
Ukraine is a song in a similar style to Russia, but is much more memorable. It benefits from following What If in the running order.
Cyprus is a stirring ballad that has the potential to be sung flawlessly by Despina Olympiou. While I still do not think that Cyprus has a chance of moving through, this the best option they could hope for, being sandwiched between two up-tempo songs performed by guys who don’t have nearly the same vocal abilities.
Slovenia is a club track sandwiched by the two slowest entries in the Contest. A juxtaposition between it and slower tracks – that’s okay; being the crazed, over-the-top dance-focused performance between two understated, simple songs – that’s an order for disaster.
Montenegro will find it difficult following the Netherlands. It has been argued that the Netherlands got the raw end of the deal coming between Ukraine and Montenegro, but I think Montenegro loses out coming between the Netherlands and Lithuania. While both of those entries are rather subdued, Montenegro will be come off as a bit mad with its dubstep and men in hazard suits.
Finland benefits from being a crazy ball of energy between two very forgettable acts. Unlike Montenegro and Slovenia in the first semi-final, the two acts surrounding Finland, Azerbaijan and Malta, are not very musically interesting (when compared to, say, Croatia, the Netherlands, Lithuania, or Estonia). Not only that, but people who like up tempo numbers will appreciate the fury of Krista Siegfrids after a serious of mid-tempo numbers in San Marino, Macedonia, and Azerbaijan.
Albania benefits in the same way as Finland. The one of the few rock numbers this year, Albania follows a combination of four mid-tempo songs and ballads: Israel, Armenia, Hungary, and Norway. People who like Albania also will most likely shy away from Georgia’s ballad, the pop-y goodness of Switzerland, and the sheer “uniqueness” of Romania, meaning that Albania will stick in folks’ minds at the end of the night.
San Marino, for all its merits, is not an overly remarkable or memorable entry. Latvia is. Macedonia is. Valentina Monetta will have to give a performance of a lifetime to make a lasting impression between those two songs. Her producers also need to make sure they design a stage show that not only compliments the song, but helps it stand out.
Greece is in the same predicament as Slovenia, it’s a crazed, high-energy song sandwiched between two subdued, beautifully sung pieces (Iceland and Israel). Fortunately for Greece, this is a rather good song that is already quite popular, the lousy position shouldn’t affect its chances of moving through too much.
Hungary is a sweet lullaby sandwiched between the rock ballad from Armenia and the techno track from Norway (there is a more specific genre in which Feed You My Love falls, but I can’t remember the name for it). As soon as it was selected, MTV knew that it was going to be a struggle to ensure that the performance is memorable, the pressure to do this is intensified by performing between two very memorable entries.
With all this said, I think the running order will matter much more in the Grand Final then in the semi-finals. Taking into account the running orders, Internet chatter, betting odds, and Contest history, here are my updated predictions for the ten qualifiers from each semi-final.
Stay tuned, as I will be starting a new series in a week or two. It will be a Contender or Pretender series looking at the the top ten contenders in the betting odds: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Russia, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Azerbaijan (with the United Kingdom, San Marino, and Belarus hovering just outside the top ten).