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Eurovision 2012 Baku: First Semifinal Preview and Open Thread

Jedward, the blond stepchildren of redheaded Ireland, close out the first semifinal today.
Jedward, the blond stepchildren of redheaded Ireland, close out the first semifinal today.

The wait is finally over, boys and girls. The fire is being lit. Eurovision 2012 begins today.

At 9 pm Central European Time, which is 3 pm on the East coast of the US, 18 countries will perform their entries, competing for 10 spots in the grand final on Saturday.

You can watch the show live at the official Eurovision website here, but you'll need to make sure that you have the Octoshape plug-in. Other streams are presumably available from various national broadcasters if you want something with audio commentary besides what you'll be getting in this here live thread.

After the jump, a look at the running order, some light prognostication, and your comments. And some awesome, entrancing waving flag .gifs.

These 18 countries (plus automatic finalists Spain, Italy, and host Azerbaijan) will vote for each other to determine the top 10 acts that will advance to the final. Here is the order in which they will perform today. Historically, later spots in the running order correlate extremely strongly with success.


Country Artist - Song
1. Montenegro

Rambo Amadeus - Euro Neuro

For the third time in three appearances (2008, 2009, 2012), Montenegro opens the contest. There are people who really like this sloppy hyperrhyming rap, but I'm not one of them. A weird first pitch, to say the least.

2. Iceland

Greta Salóme & Jónsi - Never Forget

This epic, melodramatic duet that would normally be a lock to make the final, but it's is a rough draw for them to have to go second (historically the least successful spot in the running order). Iceland has made four straight finals.

3. Greece

Eleftheria Eleftheriou - Aphrodisiac

Greece is the perennial powerhouse in Eurovision in the last decade. EIGHT straight top ten finishes. This year should be no different.

4. Latvia

Anmary - Beautiful Song

Good ol' Latvia sends a meta song that has a very catchy melody but probably not enough else. Latvia hasn't made the final (or come close) since they sent Wolves of the Sea in 2008, and this probably won't end the drought.

5. Albania

Rona Nishliu - Suus

Find earplugs. Screaming beyond any pretense of music. Absolutely unbearable stuff.

6. Romania

Mandinga - Zaleilah

Romania is slowly becoming something of a sporadic hit maker in European music (remember Dragostea Din Tei?) . This is in that formula and should skate through. Romania hasn't missed a final in the semifinal era (since 2003).

7. Switzerland

Sinplus - Unbreakable

Rock that's heavy on repetition and light on annunciation. Not historically a strong. combination for Eurovision.

8. Belgium

Iris - Would You

Yawnfest ballad. But this is the sort of song that bores me to tears and can get through. There are people who vote for this (but not usually from as poorly a geopolitcally situated country as Belgium).

9. Finland

Pernilla - När Jag Blundar

Finland sends an entry in Swedish, which is a minority language there and known by many. An odd move I don't see paying off.

10. Israel

Izabo - Time

Happy circusy music in English and Hebrew. Going to be right near the cusp of the cutoff, one way or another.

11. San Marino

Valentina Monetta - The Social Network Song (Oh Oh - Uh - Oh Oh)

Autotuned drivel in the key of Zuckerberg. But with the right performance it could do okay, actually. San Marino has never made the final in two previous tries.

12. Cyprus

Ivi Adamou - La La Love

A rare hyped Cypriot entry. Complete fluff, will need to have some sort of hook in the performance to thrive.

13. Denmark

Soluna Samay - Should've Known Better

Sort of like the Captain and Tennille's daughter grew up and wanted to be like Liz Phair. Denmark has two straight top five finishes to its name.

14. Russia

Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody

Adorable old ladies in ethnic village garb singing off-tune about how everybody should dance. A winning formula, almost certainly.

15. Hungary

Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts

Generic rock, safe, but in a nice part of the lineup. Will sound very competent after the Babushki.

16. Austria

Trackshittaz - Woki Mit Deim Popo

Two Austrians rapping in German about watching pole dancers and butts. "Don't put it on chairs--your bum has an opinion." Total wildcard in this semi.

17. Moldova

Pasha Parfeny - Lăutar

Another zany entry from this bizarrely avant garde backwater. But it would be better served by following something more serious.

18. Ireland

Jedward - Waterline

Twins exploding with energy jump around while singing an entirely forgettable song. Some of the best name recognition in the contest.

All the awesome flag graphics are thanks to

My picks to make the final? Iceland, Greece, Romania, Israel, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Hungary, Moldova, and Ireland. Austria could sneak in as well, but I have a hard time seeing anyone else break through. All of this is, of course, completely dependent on everyone performing as expected live, which never happens.