ESC 2022: Results of the First Semi-Final

Well, there’s nothing like a few shock qualifications to keep you awake and thinking, even when you sort of want to go back to bed for a nap before the day really begins. Let’s go through all the songs, in order of qualification announcement, and then I’ll think something up for the order of the non-qualifiers.

SWITZERLAND: In a classic case of me getting cold feet at the last moment, I dropped this from my list of predicted qualifiers even though I had it on there for a while (despite my own dislike of the song). It’s heading off to an already-crowded first half of the grand final, where I think it might struggle against some of the other ballads already present.

One of the growers of the competition, and the innovative staging surely helped it over the line. Given the prop demands for this one and the fact that it has drawn first half, I imagine it’s either going to open the grand final, or perhaps more likely sit just before/after a commercial break.

ICELAND: I had more or less written this one off until the rehearsals, which really succeeded in bringing out the best of the song. Second half feels like the correct draw for them thematically, because despite a reference to sunrise in the song’s title, it’s something I can imagine being played towards the end of an evening.

LITHUANIA: I’ve said a few times already that aside from Monika’s vocal skills, her charisma is one of the strongest things going for this entry, and obviously it worked better than I thought. There’s something classy and old world about this, but I wasn’t sure there would be enough votes to go around. Clearly I was wrong, and I’m pleased to see the Lithuanian language back on the Eurovision stage again after all these years. It feels like a late night song, so thematically her second half draw is about right.

PORTUGAL: Another one where I lost faith in my own instincts and dropped this from my list of qualifiers even though I know how strong it as an entry. I think the staging may have thrown me off, as it certainly wasn’t one of the more memorable performances from a visual perspective. This has drawn first half, which probably isn’t ideal given the big acts that they’re going to have around them.

NORWAY: This was one of the more certain qualifiers, but I think drawing first half has make life a bit harder for Subwoolfer. They probably would have been in line to be one of the closing songs like it was in the semi. Having said that, no one’s going to forget yellow wolves, so they’ll probably get their share of the televote regardless.

GREECE: Arguably the biggest rising star from this semi. The song was already tipped to qualify, but the performance not only guaranteed it, but put Greece into top 5 contention. The stage feels like the aftermath of a storm hitting an otherwise sunny Greek island, which is perhaps a metaphor for the troubled relationship at the heart of the lyrics. And to make matters more favourable, it’s drawn second half in the final.

UKRAINE: Arguably the only song guaranteed qualification before a single note was played given the ongoing war and the track’s appeal as something which can be categorised as “so Eurovision”. The only downside is that they’ve drawn themselves into that crowded first half, alongside other favourites like Spain and Italy. But if the bookmakers (and most casual Eurovision fans I’ve spoken to) are correct, this contest is Ukraine’s to lose.

MOLDOVA: Veteran Eurovision performers Zdob și Zdub know how to win over a Eurovision crowd (6th in 2005, 12th in 2012), and they haven’t lost their touch. As with their last two entries, there’s a zany edge to it that always spells qualification for Moldova, with a berth in the second half of the grand final just to make things sweeter.

THE NETHERLANDS: It was an agonising wait for the Netherlands given they were read out as the last qualifier, but for the first time since the late 1990s we have a song in Dutch in the grand final. That in itself deserves celebrating, even though drawing first half is going to make a top 10 result harder to achieve.

And now for the ones that didn’t qualify. As we won’t know the exact results until next week, I’ll just use the running order.

ALBANIA: Was it the gyrating and fierce vocals by Ronela that put people off? Albania have a strong qualification record, and I sort of expected them to find a way through like they’ve done a few times when I’d written them off (last year, for example). Apparently not.

LATVIA: Genuinely gutted by this one, even though I knew they were never certain qualifiers. If there was one song I could have sent through from this semi, it’s definitely “Eat Your Salad”. The competition will be a little less fun without them around.

SLOVENIA: Always a long shot to qualify, I hope that LPS are proud of how far they’ve come, given that they had to jump through many more hoops than most if not all of the other acts just to reach the Eurovision stage.

BULGARIA: While a competent performance, it’s clear that the voting audience didn’t comprise of enough fans of more old school rock.

CROATIA: This is the second time a song with Taylor Swift vibes has been tried at Eurovision (see also Slovenia 2016) and unfortunately for Mia the outcome was the same as the first time, even though I think the staging worked out okay in the end.

DENMARK: I allowed myself to be carried away by the performance, which I think was a really good one, but perhaps this fell victim to being liked but not loved. It’s possible it just took too long to get started. There’s only so much rock that gets through at Eurovision. The fact that I can keep thinking up reasons for its non-qualification probably illustrates why it didn’t make it.

AUSTRIA: This was always a stronger studio track, and while I saw a lot of people saying that Pia Maria’s vocal was quite good on the night, I’m guessing they were comparing it to previous performances. The staging didn’t add much to the song in the end. I’m sure it will find its way on to Euroclub playlists, though.

And that was it. On to the second semi!