Home 2017 (Over-)Analyzing the Semifinal Draw

(Over-)Analyzing the Semifinal Draw

The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author; it speaks for neither escYOUnited as a site, the EBU, nor any delegation nor writers therein.  

Now that the semifinal draw has been released, the Eurovision world is abuzz asking who’s gotten a boost and who’s gotten the short end of things. Let’s take a look at each semi to answer these questions ourselves.

Semifinal 1

Many members of our forum saw Portugal as one of the top beneficiaries of the draw. I agree: the end of the first half of the semifinal signals that the producers think Portugal is a draw for the audience. More importantly, when put next to the perennially *ahem* showy Azerbaijan and floor-filler Greece, Portugal’s audio and visual simplicity will likely stand out. Another song given a boost by this draw is Armenia. They’re near the end of the show without the pressure that comes from closing it, and the song’s big finish, while a tough act to follow for anyone, will leave an especially lasting impression next to the rather pat Slovenia.

Fly with me…to the top of the leaderboard?

I thought the final might not be big enough for both Finland and Portugal, different songs with roughly similar sets of selling points. But after seeing this draw, they’re each given an opportunity to showcase themselves with two comparison points before and after that give them each a chance to stand out. It’s possible that they both make it, and that’s thanks in part to the support Finland has received from the running order.

For some songs, closing the show is a benefit; for others, less so. Latvia certainly falls into the first category. Putting it last primes people to pay attention to elements that might not be as impressive in a different running order position, especially its dark staging and moody, minimalist opening. I view it and Iceland as fighting for the same synthpop qualifying spot, and going last gives it the edge in that head-to-head.

Poland are another country which has benefitted from this draw. Their production is a lot heavier than Greece and Moldova surrounding them, which will make it sound even louder and attention-commanding than it may otherwise.

Georgia haven’t been left as down and out as they seem to on first glance. The #2 slot is a difficult one, sure, but in a semifinal with a lot of bombastic ballads, being the first one before fatigue may set in could be a blessing in disguise. Following a light, upbeat performance from Sweden will serve the impact Georgia tries to create well. And if people think Georgia pulls off the “big voice, bigger song” schtick better than the immediately following Australia, then they could wreak some havoc there.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about what this draw does to Australia. Being second of three among Georgia, it, and Albania forces Australia to sell itself as the best of the three, which could be difficult if Georgia pulls out all the vocal stops and Australia falters even slightly. It’s a high pressure situation for sure. The results of our ranking game and polls suggest that the fans do see Australia as the best of the group, but that doesn’t mean juries or voters at home will.

Semifinal 2

Go listen to Lithuania. I’ll wait.

I ask you to do this not because I love it (though, spoiler alert for the Expert Panel, I do) but rather because whether or not you share my adoration for the song, it’s something which takes some recovery time. The song forced into that recovery time is Estonia, which may mean people won’t quite be lucid from Lithuania’s fever dream when Estonia comes on. Estonia’s best hope at benefitting from following Lithuania is for people to be turned off Lithuania almost instantly and waiting for a return to normalcy. Even if Estonia manages that, it’s the lead-in for show-closer Israel. Closing the show may signal that Israel has something up its sleeve that makes it a tough act to follow. If it does, it could also wash away what precedes it immediately.

Though we all recall how a bad running order spot worked out for them last time.

Austria’s destiny, much like Estonia’s, is in the hands of how people respond to another song: Serbia in this case. If people are captivated by Serbia, then it risks coming off as filler in its wake. If people are less impressed by Serbia, then the draw won’t do any damage to it.

Belarus are among the bigger winners of the draw in either semi. In between ballads with heavy percussive backings from singers very different from NAVI, it will certainly stand out.

Denmark’s been put in a bit of a difficult position with this running order. Hungary, like Lithuania, is another song that is going to take some time for viewers to wrap their heads around. And there’s no guarantee that Denmark’s higher-octave moments will be more impressive to juries and voters than the immediately following Ireland’s.

Overall, the semi running orders feel a lot more neutral than in past years. There’s nothing obviously buried or stuck between favorites; that is, the songs put in seemingly difficult positions can all overcome them, and none of the boosts give songs a guaranteed lock on a spot in the final. Especially in Semi 2, much of what the draw does will be dependent on how people react to the songs themselves, which is perhaps as good as it gets.

Who do #YOU think benefits from or is hurt by the running order? Sound off on our social media platforms and our forum.

Estonian image courtesy of esctoday.com

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2 Comments

  1. Cathal

    April 1, 2017 at 00:52

    Ireland has a great draw imo, most ESC fan’s dont see this as they are too interested in soulless trash like Switzerland,Denmark etc so wont admit it.

  2. ndxkdkpp

    April 8, 2017 at 16:17

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