Yesterday was the day that most fans and national broadcasters dread with equal anxiety. A good draw can help you on your way to a good result but it can also set an entry up for a massive fall.
The one thing that most people involved in an entry don’t want is to be drawn second on any of the nights. This is the unfortunate position that Israel, Sweden and the UK have found themselves in for the 2008 contest. UK fans will be the most annoyed by this fact because they have occupied that spot twice since the turn of the century, both in 2002 and in 2005 the UK entrant had to battle against the handicap of being second to take the stage. Israel will also be unhappy to be second in the first semi final, they had to put up with that in last year’s semi as well. Sweden will be very upset with being not only drawn second, but also coming after Iceland.
The other major pitfall for an entry can be coming after the ad break. It certainly didn’t help the French entry last year. It is not yet known exactly where the ads will be aired but the Norwegian and Polish delegations should be most worried in Semi one and the Belarusian and Latvians have most to fear in the second semi. The other effect that the ads have is that they make the entry coming before the break more memorable and usually help their final result.
One of the other things that delegations should fear is having to perform before or after a similar entry. The Irish and Estonian delegations will be thanking their lucky stars that they have been drawn so far away from each other. Had they had to perform beside each other the "joke" may not have been as funny to the voting public. Armenia and the Netherlands may be affected by this. Both are upbeat songs performed by female vocalists. Russia and Romania will also not be happy in this regard. Both are of the power ballad genre, but coming so late in the draw may counteract this. In semi final one Russia and Greece had the major benefit of picking their own spots and quickly chose the last two spots. Azerbaijan also had the opportunity to pick their own spot and surprisingly picked 7th in the running order. The reason offered for this strange act seems to be that the number 7 is held as a lucky one in Azerbaijani culture. Denmark took a similarly bewildering decision in semi final 2 in choosing the 13th spot. The only reason that could be put forward for this is that they last won when the sang in this position. FYR Macedonia and Portugal did like their counterparts in the first semi final and chose the last two positions in the second semi final. It looks like this may be the first time that Portugal will qualify for the final. This will be no meager feat given the fact that they failed to qualify for the final since it was first introduced in 2004, it is funny to think that they never managed to qualify for the final when the one semi system was still in place.
Albania and Lithuania are two countries who traditionally don’t do well in the contest and both have similar ballad entries this year so it will do neither any favours being drawn together. Both could well get forgotten by the time the voting lines open. The Latvians and Croatian have a lot to fear after they were drawn together. Latvia’s "joke" could be slightly watered down by the fact that the oldest competitor to ever take the Eurovision stage comes on just afterward. Croatia’s entry is also seen by many as a joke entry and for two countries who have had a bad few years, this is not good news.
At the moment the the front runners look to be Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania, Ireland and Sweden. This is sure change once the rehearsals start in May and we will be there you give you the latest news and interviews.
With regard to the voting order, the Danes will have the honour of finalising the points for the 2008 contest but it is likely that the winner will be known quite a while before they cast their votes.
Whatever way it all ends up one thing is for sure no one will be able to fully predict the outcome. As we all know, the contest throws up many surprises every year.