Nordics knocked out of Eurovision semi-finals
The Local · 13 May 2016, 08:23
Published: 13 May 2016 08:23 GMT+02:00
Eighteen countries took part in the second semi-final in Stockholm late on Thursday evening to fight for the remaining slots available for Saturday's final, with the result decided by a combination of national expert juries and televoting.
Sweden, as the title holder and host nation, was already guaranteed a place in the final ahead of the semis, alongside the so-called 'Big Five', Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The finalists who made it through after singing their hearts out at the Globe Arena (Globen) were: Justs (Latvia), Nika Kocharov and Young Georgia Lolitaz (Georgia), Poli Genova (Bulgaria), Dami Im (Australia), Jamala (Ukraine), Sanja Vučić (Serbia), Michał Szpak (Poland), Hovi Star (Israel), Donny Montell (Lithuania) and Laura Tesoro (Belgium).
But Sweden's Nordic neighbours Denmark and Norway were knocked out of the race just before the finishing line.
“I think it's a shame, I like a lot of the songs, Norway, Iceland, many of them were good. No, it's a shame,” said Swedish contestant Frans Jeppsson Wall, who will compete on Saturday with 'If I Were Sorry', which has been drawn as number nine in the running order in the final.
But it is possible he is not that sorry. Voting for your neighbours is common in Eurovision and Jeppsson Wall is likely to pick up extra votes from the Scandinavian countries as a result of being the only one left.
He may also be in with a shot thanks to his track 'If I were Sorry' scoring airplay across Europe in recent weeks, and a growing fan base in the UK, where his father is from.
With Denmark's Lighthouse X failing to make the final, it marks the second year in a row that the Danes will be absent from the grand finale. Denmark won the contest the last time it was in Sweden, with Emmelie de Forest taking home the title from Malmö with her song 'Only Teardrops'.
Hosted by last year's Swedish winner, Måns Zelmerlöw (who did in fact get naked with a stuffed toy wolf on stage on Thursday night) and his co-presenter Petra Mede, the grand finale will feature a total of 26 nations. It will be broadcast live from the Globe Arena in Stockholm on Saturday night.
Ahead of the main event, betting shops are already anticipating an arm-wrestling match between Russia and Ukraine, currently torn apart by the conflict that began with Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The duel could turn fierce as Ukraine's contestant Susana Jamaladinova is set to perform her contentious song '1944', which recounts Stalin's deportation of Crimean Tatars.
Another gamblers' favourite is French-Israeli Amir Haddad, who will represent France with upbeat tune 'J'ai cherché'.
The handsome 31-year-old dental surgeon is trying to charm other nations with an unusual trick in a French performance – singing partly in English.
Should he succeed, he would be the first French performer to win the contest in nearly 40 years.