With the draw for both the semi-final and final announced today, some countries should be more pleased than others with respect to who performs before or after them. In the final, semi-finalist qualifiers could be well be at an advantage over 2005�s Big 4 and Top 10.
Now we know the order of play. At today�s Heads of Delegation meetings, co-hosts Maria Menounos and Sakis Rouvas supervised three draws: the running orders for both the semi-final and final, as well as the voting order for the final. With Serbia and Montenegro withdrawn, and Croatia moving directly into the final, 23 songs will now compete on 18 March for 10 spots in the final. Here�s a brief analysis of the two running orders.
Overall, the mix between slower (6) songs and more up-tempo (16) ones – with Finland�s hard rock Lordi as a sort of a wild card – is pretty even. Armenia�s Eurovision Song Contest début will also be the opening act for the semi-final. Subsequently we�ll get a mix of styles; it�s only until Ireland and Cyprus come up that we have two ballads in a row. Then there�s seven up tempo songs in row, followed by Finland.
A run of five more up tempo songs, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Iceland�s unique Silvia Nott will close out the semi-final. For Ireland and Cyprus, two ballads in a row could dilute support, or make a superior performance of one song stand out against the other. For the plethora of toe-tapping tunes, being memorable could be a challenge. An unique and compelling performance, as always, will be key for any act hoping to garner a slot for their song on Saturday night.
For the final, the pre-qualified songs (the big 4 and top 10 non-Big 4 songs from 2005) are allocated slots, as are �place holding� spots for songs qualifying from the semi-final. This year is the first time we have a really skewed distribution between these two groups. The first 9 songs will be from last year�s best, while the last 6 songs will come from this year�s semi-finalist qualifiers. Switzerland opens the final, but then there are two clusters of slow and fast songs: slower Israel, Latvia and Norway run 3rd, 4th and 5th, followed by four up-tempo tracks (Spain, Malta, Germany, Denmark) in a row. These are followed by two more qualifiers, up-tempo Romania, another qualifier, up-tempo UK and Greece�s ballad, another qualifier, and then France�s and Croatia�s up-tempo songs.
The importance of running order
Few would argue that running order determines a song's result – but it certainly can make a difference. In last year's semi-final, Latvia's The war is not over qualifed 10th after performing 5th in the semi-final. However, it drew 23rd (second to last) in the final, moving Walters & Kazha to 5th. Denmark performed 24th in the semi-final, and Jakob Sveistrup ended up qualifying 3rd with Talking to you; in the final he performed 13th and wound up 10th.
Most would agree that songs performed later, as well as songs that are unique with respect to those performed before and after them, are often remembered by televoters. We�ll have a much better sense of things after the semi-final on 18 May. Stay tuned!