ESC2014: Song Reviews – Semi-Final 1, First Half

Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome to my annual song review. As a recap, I will do a brief review of each song, in performance order. Monday (today) I will talk about songs 1-8 of the first semi-final, tomorrow, songs 9-16. Wednesday, will be songs 1-8 of the second semi-final, Thursday, the 9-15 of the second semi-final, and Friday brings the automatic qualifiers (the Big Five + Denmark). On Tuesday and Thursday, I will also give my predictions of who will be moving through to the Final.

This year, I’m going to try something new. Instead of merely reviewing the songs and offering a blank prediction, I’m going to try to better quantify my thoughts. Each song will have three scores. A personal interest score, so this is purely based my opinion of song. A likelihood of success score, which is how well I think it will do at the Contest. Both scores will be on a scale of 1-10 (one being low, 10 being high). The third number will be a composite score, merely an average of the other two.

I will also give tips for a song to achieve its potential (“Keys to Success”) as well as things to avoid (“potential stumbling blocks”).

Without further ado, let’s begin!

1. ArmeniaNot Alone performed by Aram MP3Armenian Flag Map

I love this song. I think it is a perfect marriage between the classical-style ballad and rock dubstep. Its two halves achieve a harmony that perfectly captures the lyrics. The vocal performance is also very strong. I’m excited to see this live on stage! I do not quite understand why this song was selected to go first, it’s too out there, I think.

Keys to Success: reproducing the music video onstage with two dancers, using flashing lights to enhance the drama of the vocals

Potential Stumbling Blocks: not making the transition vocally between the two styles on stage

Personal Interest Score: 9

Likelihood of Success: 9

Composite: 9

Latvian Flag Map2. LatviaCake to Bake performed by Aarzenmnieki

Umm…not quite sure what to say about this song. It sounds like something you would sing with a bunch of four year olds. With that said, this song is fairly inoffensive (unless, of course, it’s an innuendo for marijuana). Just not really my cup of tea.

Keys to Success: creating a fun environment in the performance – they need to get folks up and dancing and singing along

Potential Stumbling Blocks: it’s following a douzy of a song and could easily get lost in the mix

Personal Interest Score: 6

Likelihood of Success: 3

Composite: 4.5

3. EstoniaAmazing performed by TanjaEstonian Flag Map

It’s an upbeat, but hokey number. It’s not all that memorable and will likely fall flat. It is an okay song, just nothing special.

Keys to Success: if Tanja can pull off the choreography from the music video while singing live, she just have a chance of overachieving

Potential Stumbling Blocks: a flat performance with muted dancing

Personal Interest Score: 7

Likelihood of Success: 5

Composite: 6


Swedish Flag Map4. SwedenUndo performed by Sanna Nielsen

I think that we may be returning to Sweden sooner than we all thought. This song is amazing! The lyrics, the composition, the staging – it’s great! There’s no reason to believe that this entry to will finish anywhere below third.

Keys to Success: reproducing the Melodifestivalen performance, but with a better outfit

Potential Stumbling Blocks: a flat performance lacking emotion or with much pitchiness

Personal Interest Score: 8

Likelihood of Success: 10

Composite: 9


5. IcelandNo Prejudice performed by PollapönkIcelandic Flag Map

Another song that sounds like it was made for children. A very straightforward message. While the video is nice, I hope they focus their staging on all forms of discrimination that happen across the continent (particularly religious and ethnic) as gays are only one group that are discriminated against. The song itself is okay – little too silly for my tastes.

Keys to Success: fun performance – get Europe dancing and clapping; use the video screens to show people coming together

Potential Stumbling Blocks: I can foresee this performance being over the top and scaring the audience

Personal Interest Score: 5

Likelihood of Success: 7

Composite: 6


Albanian flag country6. AlbaniaOne Night’s Anger performed by Hersi

In a complete other end of the spectrum, we go from kid pop to 90’s folk rock. The title does not really fit the composition or the performance. It has an air of someone thinking that they’re rocking much harder than they actually are.

Keys to Success: following Iceland, people will be craving something normal; fully invest in the nostalgia that the song creates in its 90’s sound

Potential Stumbling Blocks: being a fairly flat song, anything short of a stunning performance will result in a lack of an impression on the voting audience and jurors

Personal Interest Score: 6

Likelihood of Success: 3

Composite: 4.5


7. RussiaShine performed by The Tolmachevy SistersRussian Flag Map

Russia’s sweethearts return to the ESC stage, becoming the first jESC lead performers to be lead performers at the real ESC. They won Europe’s hearts once before can they do it again? Probably not, but they will go a long way to help people forget about all the craziness that has characterized the country of Russia in 2014. The song is fairly flat, but they’re voices are so angelic.

Keys to Success: focus solely on the Twins and they’re connection to the Contest; woo the voters with their pretty voices

Potential Stumbling Blocks: it’s not an exciting song, so they need to avoid letting it be flat or otherwise flaccid in its performance

Personal Interest Score: 8

Likelihood of Success: 8 at the end of the day, it’s hard for Russia not to do well at the ESC

Composite: 8

Azerbaijani Flag Map8. AzerbaijanStart a Fire performed by Dilara Kazimova

Another understated song, this is will be a tough climb for Kazimova. While the composition and lyrics are very artistic, the onus is completely on her to maintain the tone of the song without putting the voters and jurors to sleep. This could really go either way. Honestly, I just think it’s too plain and too slow to capture Europe’s hearts; this could potentially be Azerbaijan’s first entry outside the Top Ten.

Keys to Success: keep the staging understated and let the entire focus be on Kazimova’s voice

Potential Stumbling Blocks: it’s the third consecutive ballad and is the slowest, by far, definite danger of boring the viewers

Personal Interest Score: 9

Likelihood of Success: 8

Composite: 8.5

One response

  1. Pingback: ESC2014 – Contender or Pretender: Episode Two | Eurovision Obsession

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