Five takeaways from the Semi-Final running orders

Eurovision bosses have unveiled the running orders for both Semi-Finals that will take place ahead of the Grand Final. Some delegations will be happy with the draw their countries have received, others will feel aggrieved. Callum Rowe looks at the winners and losers. 

Norway’s Alessandra will open the first Semi-Final | Image Ulrik Kramer / NRK

Norway was the obvious choice 

Norway will open the first Semi-Final on the Tuesday of Eurovision week. Having a song that had already been doing the rounds on TikTok, and that had topped Spotify’s Global Viral 50 before it won Norway’s national selection, being the curtain-raiser is no-brainer. 

Alessandra’s Queen Of Kings will be well-known to many, even before the opening operatic Italian lyrics bellow out to the crowd in the Liverpool Arena and the worldwide television audience. For those tuning in to Eurovision for the first time in years – or, perhaps, ever – having a familiar and recognisable song greet them at the start of the show might just be enough to win their support for the rest of the show, and hopefully the week. 

If I were a more distant Eurovision fan, or just a passing observer, I would emit a positive reaction if I heard a familiar song while watching Eurovision. I might even be inclined to text my friends and tell them about it, which might inspire them to tune in if they weren’t already watching. This word of mouth and wider social media chatter is something that can be banked on by the producers who have deliberately chosen Queen Of Kings to open the first show. 

Pasha Parfeni might feel hard done by

Pasha Parfeni represented Moldova at Eurovision in 2012, two years after being beaten to the honour by the band he previously fronted, Sunstroke Project. He went to Baku with a genuine feeling that he could bring his country some glory and success, only for Loreen to come along and not only crush his chances of victory, but everyone else’s competing in the competition. 

Parfeni returns this year with a song that is more contemporary and that has a wider appeal than Lăutar, the track he represented Moldova with 11 years ago. Once again, Loreen is on her way to the contest too with the same ambition and same chance of crushing Parfeni and everyone else competing this year. To make matters worse for Parfeni, he has to perform as a warm-up act to Loreen who will sing Tattoo 11th in the running order, one place after Parfeni himself. 

This is not to say Moldova won’t qualify for the Grand Final, but the delegation will have a harder job maintaining public attention on their country when Loreen – widely considered the greatest winner of Eurovision in the modern era – performs her contender for the victory mere moments after Parfeni. 

Finland bring a fight to close the show 

It was already known that Finland wouldn’t be opening the first Semi-Final, as it was drawn in the second half of the show at the Allocation Draw two months ago. Was it an obvious choice to close the show? Maybe. 

Every Eurovision live show has to end with a bang or with a memorable moment. Boxing champ Käärijä is a contender to win Eurovision, and his song Cha Cha Cha is likely to be a televote favourite. It’s already charting in the Nordic countries and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s charting further afield before May. 

Käärijä will close the first Semi-Final | Image – Nelli Kenttä

With this impending chart traction and playlist attraction, there will be palpable excitement and anticipation ahead of Käärijä’s performance; people might tune in to the first Semi-Final under the exclusive proviso of seeing it. Therefore it makes sense to keep these viewers tuned in to the show for as long as possible so they have more time to form a connection with the competition. What’s more, they might return two days later to watch the second Semi-Final. Audience retention is a dream come true for producers. 

Producers have faith in Reiley

Denmark has never opened a Eurovision Semi-Final, owing partly to the country’s near inability to send a song to the contest that is captivating enough to make a worldwide audience pay attention for three minutes, nevermind two hours. 

Reiley will perform first in the second Semi-Final, something that must have come as a surprise to many who thought Belgium’s Gustaph or Iceland’s Diljá were shoo-ins for this honour. Diljá’s song simply isn’t powerful enough to lure in viewers at home, while Gustaph’s isn’t representative enough of modern Eurovision. 

Reiley will open the second Semi-Final | Image – Reiley

Reiley’s song, Breaking My Heart, relies heavily on vocal distortion through a vocoder during key moments. Producers must have faith that this will work seamlessly during the live broadcast. They too must have confidence in Reiley to welcome 160million viewers to the show. What a massive vote of confidence in a young man who has had his voice unfairly berated by some careless observers. 

Australia will be delighted and shocked

The novelty of Australia competing in Eurovision has almost worn off entirely now (thankfully), eight years after the country made its debut at the contest. 

This year’s representatives, Voyager, aren’t fancied by many to succeed at the contest as much as some of their predecessors did. So, Australia closing the second Semi-Final might give us an indication that the stage show for Promise might be something worth waiting for. After all, Slovenia’s Joker Out with their 100mph song, Carpe Diem, and Austria’s Teya & Salena with their enigmatic and unique song, Who The Hell Is Edgar?, would have been more obvious choices to close.

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