Första, sista och allting in-between: Attempting to predict the running order of Stockholm’s semi finals
FINALLY – because when it’s taken this long, capital letters are mandatory – we have our 43 entries for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. SAY YAY!!!
For host broadcaster SVT, there’s only one logical thing to do next: announce the running order of the semi finals, which they’re planning on doing…sometime. We don’t have a set date as far as I know, but it’s safe to assume they’ll be unveiling the line-up any day now given that the Head of Delegation meeting has been and gone.
Also gone are the days of the exciting, random, pulling-countries-out-of-glass-bowls draws that we all used to tune in to if our eurovision.tv streams were fully functioning which mine NEVER WAS (yes, I’m still bitter about it). As much as that loss is worth mourning, it does mean we now get to play ‘What kind of weird-ass order will this year’s production team arrange the semis in?’. The aim of a producer-led program is to ensure a dynamic and entertaining viewing experience, so it can be fun to put yourself in a producer’s shoes and imagine which songs you’d put where if you had the responsibility. As I’m all about the fun (as long as it’s legal and concludes at a respectable hour) that’s what I’m going to do right here, right now.
Think of these hypothetical orders as both predictions and wish-lists – but don’t take them too seriously, as I am hopeless at foreseeing the future. It’s Wednesday today, and I’m having trouble figuring out what weekday tomorrow will be.
SEMI FINAL 1
For the first half, I predict…
- The Netherlands
- San Marino
- There are very few songs that scream ‘START WITH ME!’ in this first half – Croatia, Finland and Moldova are about it. But ultimately, I’ve gone for Finland’s Sing It Away. It doesn’t do much for me personally, but it would serve as a perfect party-starter for SF1, and set a festive mood for the rest of the evening.
- Who else to stick in the dreaded slot 2 besides San Marino’s/Turkey’s Serhat? I’d want I Didn’t Know over and done with early on in the show so it didn’t drive the audience away in droves long before the pointy end.
- UPDATE: As I Didn’t Know has now gone disco, it no longer works coming directly after Sing It Away (it doesn’t work in ANY way, shape or form, but I’ll save my venom for when I review it). As a result, I’ve swapped San Marino with The Netherlands.
- I’d go for variation in atmosphere and tempo for the rest of the half, starting with the edgy, non-formulaic LoveWave, continuing with Falling Stars to reenergise the (very large, arena-like) room, then opting for Pioneer which is far more substantial and gritty than Lidia’s song.
- Russia will likely be placed late in the half. I wouldn’t put it past them to pull a Sweden, doing something on stage that requires clean-up or deconstruction (meaning Sergey “needs” to perform just before the break) but in terms of that tempo/style variation, I haven’t placed them dead last. Croatia’s Lighthouse would make for a strong finish that would still leave fans wanting more.
And in the second half…
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
- Austria’s Loin D’ici would ease us back into the program with a bit of pizzazz (albeit pizzazz from a Eurodance club circa 1992), providing a nice contrast with the purposefully retro and much heavier Play in slot 11.
- Bosnia’s Balkan ballad – the only song of its kind competing in 2016 – would add variety pretty much anywhere in the line-up, but I’d put it between two more mainstream pop/ballad tracks, making each one distinguishable in its own way.
- The rock-tinged tracks from Montenegro and Cyprus probably shouldn’t take to the stage consecutively. Dividing them with Azerbaijan’s Miracle makes for a dynamic home stretch, and avoids any same-same vibes.
- Last but not least, I’d call on Greta Salóme. Hear Them Calling could just as easily start off the second half, but I think it’s better used as a striking, fast-paced (but not overly so) finisher.
SEMI FINAL 2
For the first half, I predict…
- If I was on the payroll at SVT and in charge of positioning SF2, I’d be a) super smug, and b) torn between making Ireland’s Sunlight or Lithuania’s I’ve Been Waiting For This Night the opening song. As a layman, I’ve opted for the latter, because it would set the tone of the evening so darn perfectly. Consider it the far superior version of Moldova kicking off last year’s first semi (as trash-tastic as that was).
- There are many mid-tempo songs in this first half, so some of them will have to run in a row. I think there are enough differences between my selected run of slot 2-6 songs to give us some (though not a truckload) of variety.
- Ireland could pep us up nicely towards the end of the half. I think Australia will get a later position, away from the similarly dramatic Serbia.
- Latvia’s Heartbeat – which will be the most contemporary song of the night no matter when Justs takes to the stage – could be used to break up the slower string of songs, but again, I predict a later draw.
- Purely for the ‘OMG, it’s Kaliopi’ factor, I’d finish with Macedonia.
And in the second half…
- After a short break (hopefully filled with Lynda Woodruff sketches) why not move from one returnee to another? Poli Genova’s If Love Was A Crime would kick off the second half with a bang not so big that it overshadowed song no. 2, but big enough to leave an impression.
- Speaking of song no. 2…well, Norway is offering two songs rolled into one, making Eurovision 2016 a variety show all on their own. ILWAC followed by Icebreaker would pit one powerful blonde bombshell against another, but there’s enough contrast between the inspirational feel of the former and the intensity of the latter to break them up…like an icebreaker.
- The Slovenia/Ukraine order is pretty strategic on my part. Transitioning from a vacuous, Taylor Swift B-side circa 2008 to a weighty, striking and very contemporary track could only work in Jamala’s favour.
- I’d put Albania next, in order to a) separate it from Georgia/Romania and their rock-inclined nature, and b) make it the shade before the light of Belgium.
- Denmark would bring up the rear if I was in charge, not because Soldiers of Love is worth waiting the entire night for, but because I can just see it being the final song of the evening. If not Lighthouse X, it’s likely to be Poli or Jamala in slot 19.
All of this is 110% out of the brain of Jaz (a very confusing place at times), of course. So what’s lurking in YOUR brain as far as Stockholm’s semi orders are concerned? Would your program of events (a.k.a. entries) look anything like mine, or would you head in a totally different direction? Let me know below!
I’ll be back in the very near future with my first Top 43 for 2016, just before I welcome the EBJ Jury back for another year of song reviews. They’re going to be bigger, better and bitchier than ever (the reviews, that is; not the jurors). Therefore, it’s time to get excited!*
*That’s not a request. If you don’t, Il Volo will break into your house and beat you about the head with their colour-coded microphones.
Until next time,