World of Chig   

4 days to Oslo

Slipping in under the wire at quarter to midnight, as I am determined to write something every day in the lead-up to Eurovision in Oslo. I have been totally distracted today, first by reading loads and loads of blogging about the first batch of rehearsals today, then by BBC2's fantastic '80s night, which is distracting me now with Heaven 17 playing one of my very favourite albums, Penthouse & Pavement, in concert, in Sheffield, no less. I was able to sit in the garden, reading the blogs on my laptop, as it has been gloriously hot and sunny here in Birmingham, like an August day, in marked contrast to Oslo, where it has been bucketing it down for hours. The Eurovision media centre is in a tent, albeit a pretty substantial one, with toilets outside, so it hasn't been a comfortable experience today for the assorted hacks. In contrast, I have been very comfortable indeed, except for the squinting brought about by screen glare and when watching the weather forecasts, seeing the ash cloud drifting over the British Isles, grounding flights today, as the DoT predicted yesterday.

I've read every word of OnEurope, Eurovision Express and All Kinds Of Everything today from the Eurovision rehearsals. They're doing a blinding job in posting very quickly with all manner of words, photos and videos. It's astonishing how close and how 'real time' we can feel to the rehearsals these days. Only twelve years ago in Birmingham, the Eurovision rehearsals were a closely guarded secret, with the BBC and EBU petrified that a photo of the set would get out before the Saturday night. Now we have a webcam from the arena a month before the shows and a blog from the technical crew as well. The world has well and truly changed.

Anyway, my main wish today is to indulge in some pointless predictions. I drew up these lists yesterday, before a single minute of rehearsals had happened. Non-believers can check the comments for the semi-final predictions at Eurovision Express, where I posted them yesterday (Saturday 15th). So, as they were then, and not changed by any bloggers' opinions on rehearsals which I have read today, here are my predictions for the ten songs which will qualify from each semi-final. It will be interesting to see how my opinion changes after further reading and viewing and when I get there. In the meantime, I currently think the lucky twenty finalists will be:

From semi-final 1:

Slovakia - Horehronie - Kristina Pelakova

Finland - Työlki Ellää - Kuunkuiskaajat

Serbia - Ovo Je Balkan - Milan Stanković

Belgium - Me And My Guitar - Tom Dice

Albania - It's All About You - Juliana Pasha

Greece - OPA - Giorgos Alkaios & Friends

Belarus - Butterflies - 3+2

Iceland - Je Ne Sais Qoui - Hera Björk

Russia - Lost And Forgotten - Peter Nalitch & Friends

Poland - Legenda - Marcin Mroziński

From semi-final 2:

Armenia - Apricot Stone - Eva Rivas

Denmark - In A Moment Like This - Chanée & N'evergreen

Azerbaijan - Drip Drop - Safura

Ireland - It's For You - Niamh Kavanagh

Cyprus - Life Looks Better In Spring - Jon Lilygreen & The Islanders

Croatia - Lako Je Sve - Feminnem

Georgia - Shine - Sofia Nizharadze

Turkey - We Could Be The Same - maNga

Israel - Milim - Harel Skaat

The Netherlands - Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie) - Sieneke

Controversially, this would mean a final without Sweden for the first time since 1976. If it happens, they only have themselves to blame. They should have picked a better song - they had enough of them in their final!

Oh, and since you ask, I think that Norway are going to win again*, with their version of My Heart Will Go On to a World In Union where You Lift Me Up. But more of that another day.

* Your home may be at risk if you place any bets based on ill-informed gut feelings on here.

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