Six acts will have a second and ultimate chance to impress television viewers in Norway this Friday. The second chance semifinal will decide who fills just two remaining slots in the line-up of the Norwegian final, to be held in Oslo this Saturday. The two songs which just failed to make first and second place in each of the three previous semifinals proceed to the contest.
Casual observers may be tempted to think that songs placed third and fourth in semifinals stand no chance in the final; after all, at least two songs have beaten each of them already. The participants need not take this to heart, though; the facts of history prove that it is not beyond their grasp to secure a very good placing second time round, even beating the first-time place winners. And Norwegians need look no further than Sweden for the proof.
Swedish rags to riches
Shirley Clamp ended up a distant fourth place in the fourth Swedish semifinal of 2004, behind Andres Estuche's Olé Olé in third. Although she went on to become of the two winners of the Swedish wildcard round that year, it was still Andres who beat her in terms of votes. However, in the grand final of the Melodifestivalen, Shirley enjoyed a new surge of support and soared to second place behind the victor, Lena Philipsson. Andres finished up ninth.
Alcazar, a year later, were the shock non-qualifiers of the first Swedish semifinal. They bounced back to win the wildcard round and gain more votes in the grand final than either of the songs that beat them in the original semi (one being Shirley Clamp!). They ended up third. The band pulled off a similar feat in 2003, ending in third place, two above Sanna Nielsen who beat them on their first meeting in the semifinal.
Barbados finished fourth as a Swedish wildcard in 2002.
Second chance success is not confined to Sweden. In the Dutch final of 2004, the two wildcards ended up in a solid fourth and fifth place out of ten songs.
Amongst all these successful experiences, there is scant evidence to suggest that the ultimate is possible: a second chance winner. But it is clear that first impressions do not always count.
A changing audience
The difference in voting could be due to a change in audience. All the semifinals, as well as the second chance semi, fall on a Friday evening. The final is held on a Saturday. Could this detail change the viewing population enough to shake up the favourites? The very fact that Saturday is the grand final of the Melodi Grand Prix rather than a mere semifinal could also influence the viewing figures. If enough new viewers tune in, statistics will be subtley altered. So, second chancers – take heart! It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings (or decides to vote for you on Saturday).
Watch the Norwegian second chance semi Live at www.nrk.no/mgp.