Eurovision 2017: Grand final running order sees Israel open and France close

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Following the two semi-finals of Eurovision 2017, the qualifying artists each drew “first half” or “second half” slots from an oversized fish bowl.

And tonight producers finally revealed the grand final running order, which they developed to create the most entertaining show possible. Part of that means providing a degree of variation in genre and feel, rather than, for instance, giving us six ballads in a row.

UA:PBC, the host broadcaster, drafted the running order, which was then approved by Jon Ola Sand (the EBU Executive Supervisor) and Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling, the Chairman of the Reference Group.

Israel’s Imri Ziv closed his semi-final on Thursday. But on Saturday he’ll open the show with his song “I Feel Alive”. It makes sense — the song is upbeat and he’s easy on the eyes, both of which will help draw viewers in and hopefully keep them there. This marks the second year in a row that an act closing their semi-final will open the grand final. Belgium’s Laura Tesoro did so last year (and she also from the second semi-final).

Eurovision 2017: Grand final running order

  1. Israel
  2. Poland
  3. Belarus
  4. Austria
  5. Armenia
  6. The Netherlands
  7. Moldova
  8. Hungary
  9. Italy
  10. Denmark
  11. Portugal
  12. Azerbaijan
  13. Croatia
  14. Australia
  15. Greece
  16. Spain
  17. Norway
  18. United Kingdom
  19. Cyprus
  20. Romania
  21. Germany
  22. Ukraine
  23. Belgium
  24. Sweden
  25. Bulgaria
  26. France

Does the running order tell us anything?

It’s obviously a guessing game at this point, as we can never really know the producers’ motivations. But that won’t prevent us from making a few guesses.

Italy, the pre-contest favourite, will sing in ninth position, while Portugal, who has stolen much of the momentum in recent days, performs just two spots later in eleventh. The contrast between the two acts is stark — from upbeat Francesco Gabbani with his colourful and deliberately cutesy staging to Salvador’s pared-back and simple performance.

Dividing them is Denmark’s Anja Nissen, who could be considered something of a sacrificial lamb. Her song’s many vocal flourishes may leave viewers exasperated and in need of a cool down, making them ripe to listen to Portugal’s soothing melody.

Australia, which drew second half, has been put on as early as possible, which may mean he barely scraped through his semi-final.

The United Kingdom’s Lucie Jones appears to have been given a favourable position. She sings 18th — the exact same spot as pre-contest favourite Sergey Lazarev last year. She’s also sandwiched between Norway and Cyprus — two borderline qualifiers with songs that sound nothing like her musical theatre-esque number “Never Give Up On You”.

Many in the press room have suggested that Romania’s cartoon graphics and playful sound will appeal to children and younger voters. Putting them on so late in the running order — 20th — may work against that. However, it could also be a sign they did rather well in the televote.

Interestingly, the countries in 23, 24 and 25 — Belgium, Sweden and Bulgaria — were all pre-contest favourites, suggesting they may have lived up to the the hype in their semis.

That Bulgaria has been given the next-to-last spot, with only Big 5 nation France singing afterwards, suggests he won his semi-final.