Hello Dear Readers!
As we anxiously await the forthcoming Grand Final, some thoughts on last night’s Second Semi-Final. I think this semi-final suffered from a lot of nervous performers with shaky performances. Additionally, there seemed to be a plague of poor stagings (more on that below). But first, here are our qualifiers (in alphabetical order with their semi-final half in parentheses):
Austria (first half)
Belarus (first half)
Bulgaria (second half)
Croatia (first half)
Denmark (first half)
Hungary (first half)
Israel (first half)
The Netherlands (first half)
Norway (second half)
Romania (second half)
Some Historical Markers from last night
Romania maintains its 100% qualification record. Hungary extends its streak to seven straight qualifications, reaching back to 2011. Austria extends its streak to four. Croatia, the Netherlands, and Israel have now all qualified twice in a row.
Bulgaria also has qualified twice in a row for the first time ever (and only third time overall). Denmark and Norway both return to Grand Final after missing it last year (for Norway) and each of the past two years (Denmark). Belarus qualifies for the first time since 2014.
Serbia and Lithuania’s streaks of qualifications end after two straight and Malta fails to make a second straight qualification. Macedonia has not qualified since 2012, Ireland since 2013, Switzerland and San Marino since 2014, and Estonia since 2015.
Biggest Disappointment: Austria and Ireland, two of my favorite songs, were both terribly performed last night. I could barely make it through Austria’s performance. I hope that Nathan Trent’s singing is better tomorrow night.
Biggest Shock: I am still shocked by how well I thought Romania and Croatia (two songs I do not like) did. They performed their hearts out and deserved their qualification.
Macedonia and Switzerland, while I think there might have been some nullification effect on one another, I think both were just missed opportunities. They both had strong, popular songs this year and A) staged them poorly and B) did not sing at their best abilities. Just, disappointing.
I think the Netherlands had the best performance on the night, followed closely by Bulgaria. They could possibly make a huge splash tomorrow, especially with the help of the juries.
France, Germany, and Ukraine had very questionable stagings. Read more about it in my live notes.
Just sad that San Marino failed to qualify. I think SMRTV may blame it on their small size, but, actually, it’s because it continually chooses dated songs with lame stagings. More on this in a forthcoming summer series.
So, there you have it my reactions to the Second Semi-Final. My excitement for the Grand Final is through the roof! Hear more about mine (and my friend DIZZYDJC) below in our podcast from today!
Hello Dear Readers!
It is Thursday of Eurovision Week and we all know what that means: time for the Second Semi-Final! Tonight we will get the last ten qualifiers for Saturday’s Grand Final. As a reminder, the qualifiers for tonight will join the Big Five (Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom), our defending champs & host (Ukraine), and Tuesday’s ten qualifiers (Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden).
Make sure to keep refreshing the page throught the show!
It’s starting! I love starting with a recap of Tuesday.
…what are the hosts wearing?! No. Not good. I do love a good ESC medley! Euphoria! Fairytale! My Number One (which was the winner the last time we were in Ukraine). Rise like a Phoenix! Definitely not a bad openning act. I always enjoy a reinterpretation of songs into a new folk style.
01 Serbia In Too Deep
They seemed to have scaled back the epicness of song; why? This is wholly underwhelming. This song is nice, but forgettable. The dancer didn’t add much other than some additional eye candy.
02 Austria Running on Air
Oh no, he sounds a bit underpitch and he’s singing with zero emotion. I also don’t understand this staging – why is there a moon? Oh no, he just botched the big note. I love this song but this is just a poor presentation of it.
03 Macedonia Dance Alone
Interesting to put the backing singers so dominatingly right at the beginning lime that. That was also a poor model walk she is doing. Her outfit is cute, though. I understand the use of the mic effect, but I can barely hear her. She is certainly selling this as hard as she can as a dance number. Ummm…..I’m just not sure how to react. Definitely a HUGE missed opportunity for Macedonia, but it might be enough to qualify.
04 Malta Breathlessly
I don’t understand this backing scene choice. It should be black amd white images of her and her lover. Not random gifs of her singing. Really pretty dress! No one can say that her voice is not good, but this song is just so drab and boring.
05 Romania Yodel It!
I like the toy soldiers. The cannons look cool – but I don’t know why they’re there. Oh! That’s why — pretty cool. As much as I dislike this song, it is, so far, the strongest performance tonight — by a mile.
06 The Netherlands Lights and Shadows
Oh! Love those outfits! Oh my goodness, they sound amazing hitting those harmonies! Honestly, I was expecting their outfits to turn white during the climax towards the end. Very good – definite qualifier, I think.
07 Hungary Origo
He seems to be going a bit fast amd is a bit ahead of the beat. But things seemed to habe caught up with the violin. Cool! Was not expecting the flames. I don’t what it is, but the camerawork just seems — not good – they should have goven the producers better camera choreography to work with. It doesn’t help that he looks so uncomfortable on stage.
08 Denmark Where I Am
Why does her voice sound weird? Did they leave a mic effect on? She seems out of breath as well, like she can’t quite fully support her singing. She hit that big note, though! Too much backing singer on this performance; I hope they turn them down for Saturday.
09 Ireland Dying to Try
Why the hot air balloon? Oh, missed a note there. He’s so adorable, though. Uh oh. He missed that big note. And just barely made the biggest one. Disappointing. This is one of my favorite songs this year and this performance is just flat.
10 San Marino Spirit of the Night
What are they wearing?! Why are they so sparkly?! They have really good chemistry together. Despite the fact tat this is a fairly dated sounding disco-track, given the quality of performances tonight, it has a legit chance to qualify. I think my friend called this the “song of a thousand key changes” — most definitely. They at least nailed them all.
Man, San Marino had a black American guy and now Croatia has a big guy, it’s like Eurovision producers wanted me to feel particularly represented on stage.
11 Croatia My Friend
Oh my goodness, this turning back and forth is silly. As is that glove he is wearing. He sounds good, though. Bad song, but well performed.
–sorry for the interruption, my town is under tornado warning and I had to take shleter–
**All clear! Picking up where we left off.
12 Norway Grab the Moment
I like the camera effects and how digitized he looks during the refrain and his face is featured on the screen. I know the desire to keep it simple is tempting, but I wish they had added a bit more dynamic elements to the staging, particularly to the climax at the end.
13 Switzerland Apollo
LOVE the dress, hate the hair. Her voice seems to be dancing in the edge of in tune and out of it. I feel the same as I did after Macedonia, just a huge missed opportunity. Maybe enough to qualify, maybe not.
14 Belarus Historyja Majho Žyccia
Love the wite and blue aesthetic! They started off a bit shaky, but their voices leveled out. Some much energy and fun – fireworks!! That screen is fun and that’s a huge crowd reaction!
Time for this year’s youngest competitor and my predicted winner:
14 Bulgaria Beautiful Mess
Love this overhead shot during the first verse! He gets a bit off pitch during the refrain. Love the interplay between the camera, the special effects, the background, and the lyrics – beautifully staged! As good as that was, not sure I’d rate that higher than Portugal’s performance Tuesday. I’ll be interested to see what happens Saturday night when thy can go head-to-head.
16 Lithuania Rain of Revolution
I see they are reproducing their national final performance… includingn that terrible hairstyle. They should have invested in actual spark showers. The animated ones just don’t have the same effect. And, honestly, coming after a song like Bulgaria only makes this, with its super-synthesized instrumentation, sound a bit fake and dated.
17 Estonia Verona
Mic issues! I wonder if they will deemed bad enough to call for a second performance. Vocal issues! I wonder if they will be bad enough to stop this from qualifying. I do love the camera effect making it look like they were on two completely different stages throughout the first verse and bridge. They don’t seem to have much chemistry; maybe that’s why they barely interact with each other throughout the performance. I know this is a big fan favorite, but I remain unimpressed.
18 Israel I Feel Alive
He knows how to work a camera! Which, I guess takes away from his weak vocals. The staging was a lot of fun — quite dazzling.
My Top Ten from tonight
- The Netherlands
- San Marino
Who I think will qualify (in no particular order)
- The Netherlands
Voting Sequence EntertainmentMore Verka (Ukraine 2007 and probably one of the modt popular entries to date)! And yay for talking to fans 🙂
The dancing is really cool. I never know quite what to make of it, but it’s certainly interesting and much appreciated.
A marriage proposal for Jana from Macedonia!!! Awwwww
Our Automatic Qualifiers
- France – whoa! All the spinning is dizzying, which I guess is the point.
- Germany – why is she in a dress that matches the background. She’s just going to get lost in the production. Maybe Germany is aimig to break Norway’s most last places record?
- Ukraine – that head is CREEPY!!! It looks like a possessed baby doll.
Now, on the results! Our ten qualifiers are:
- Bulgaria! Woot, woot – we could legitimately be heading to Sofia next year (1 for 1 in my predictions)
- Belarus – well deserved! (2 for 2)
- Croatia – not surprised, just didn’t think this and Belarus would both make it (2 for 3)
- Hungary – one of my favorites, but he’s going to need a much stronger performance Saturday (and Friday) night (2 for 4)
- Denmark – Gå Danmark!! (3 for 5)
- Israel – no surprise here (4 for 6)
- Romania – ugh (5 for 7)
- Norway – good stuff (6 for 8)
- The Netherlands – well earned, best performance of the night (7 for 9)
- Austria – complete shocker!! (7 for 10)
Well, there you have it. Ten qualifiers. Macedonia completes its fall from grace going from big favorite to non-qualifier in six short weeks. Come back tomorrow for my full thoughts and my next podcast ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final!
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Hello Dear Readers!
Yesterday was the First Semi-Final – which, despite all the issues in the organization, went very well! UA:PBC has, thus far, put on a great show with a beautiful stage (oh my goodness, it’s beautiful!) and fun hosts. Overall, I feel like the good from yesterday’s show outweighs the bad. First, a brief review.
Our qualifiers from last night: (in alphabetical order with their Grand Final half)
Armenia (first half)
The Big Five also had their drawing: Italy was drawn into the first half, while France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom join Ukraine in the second half of the show. This means there are only three spots left in the second half for qualifiers from tomorrow night’s semi-final. That plays to the benefit of Belgium and France whose primary competitors, Italy, Portugal, and Azerbaijan all take place in the first half and remaining favorites, Denmark, Bulgaria, and Romania have slim odds of getting into the later part of the show.
Some historical markers from last night:
Azerbaijan upholds its 100% qualification streak. Sweden extends its to seven (including its two automatic qualifications). Armenia extends its to 5. Belgium and Poland extend their qualification streaks to three.
Portugal’s qualification rate is now 50% since first qualification in 2008. Moldova gets its first qualification since 2013.
This is only the second time in history that there has not been at least one female host, the first being 1956 (the first Contest) in which Lohengrin Filipello hosted on his own. Conversely, 24 Contests have had solo women or exclusively women hosts.
Pleasantly Surprised: Poland – I thought she sounded great last night and that song was well-staged (despite the volume issues); Portugal was amazing! I thought it was a good song before, but was absolutely taken aback by its awesomeness live yesterday
Disappointments: Australia – Isaiah sounded pretty off-key throughout the entire performance yesterday. Actually, many of the artists seemed off-key last night sadly. Cyprus’ staging (and subsequent qualification) were greatly disappointing.
Biggest Shock: Finland – a perfect performance of a perfect song with a failure to pass through to the Final.
Happiest Non-Surprise: Belgium – a great song and Blanche’s vulnerable performance was a good fit for the lyrics, very happy that this qualified.
So, there you have it my reactions to the First Semi-Final. Heading into tomorrow, I think that the Second Semi-Final is going to be equally as, if not more so, awesome. Hear more about mine (and my friend DIZZYDJC) below in our podcast from today!
Hello Dear Readers!!
This year, since I cannot attend the events live, I am bringing back my live notes – written, running commentary throughout the show! Tonight, the first semi-final.
Wow, an interesting opening act. Rap music. I’m just happy they seem to be returning to the tradition of the reprise being at the start of the Grand Final.
What a beautiful stage!!
Yes, a “Euro-genius” is a great term for those of us who love and are knowledgeable about the Contest.
So, the postcards are a mix of prep and home life for the artists. Cool.
01 Sweden I Can’t Go On
Again, I don’t much care for this song. The staging is identical as Melodifestivalen‘s, per usual. He sounds fine. Why are none of them wearing socks? Pretty much exactly as expected.
02 Georgia Keep the Faith
The staging is pretty dark for a song about hope and faith. Oh! There go the lights. A little off with the pitch there. Love her dress. Hmmm….where are those backing singers hiding? Yay – fire! This performance did not reach the level of epicness that this song requires.
03 Australia Don’t Come Easy
Starting a bit shaky. Is it me or is he just under pitch? Not quite sure they went with a backing screen of infinite Isaiah’s. It doesn’t do the song justice. The backing track is too low. Yeah, he just botched the only big note he had, as the others seemed to have been removed. Underwhelming. Perhaps Australia will miss the Final this year.
04 Albania World
Why so quiet? Not a great outfit; not terrible, just not good. Yay! Backing singers getting some time in the light! That’s how you do epic — she nailed her big notes and staging did not take away from the lyrics or composition.
05 Belgium City Lights
Love her dress and the staging choices thus far. The song has a since of isolation about it, which is well represented by the camera working emphasizing her being alone on such a big stage. She looks quite scared, though. But the fans seem to love her. I like the compositional change at the end here – the chord interval between her and the backing singer is really cool.
06 Montenegro Space
I expect there to be controversy around his song. Whoo! Look at those pants! His pitch seems a bit off. Unlike Australia, the use of his image on the backing scenes fits the song well. I wonder if the EBU limited what he could do. I expected there to be a lot more sexiness to his staging.
Two corrections for the green room host: 1) So, this is NOT Ukraine’s first ESC or even Kyiv’s. It’s the second time we are here in the capital – after they hosted the 50th edition in 2005. 2) Georgia debuted in 2007. Tamara was part of the group that was disqualified in 2009.
07 Finland Blackbird
Oh! Lights throughout the audience. So, they are recreating the UMK staging. Flawless performance. Perfect staging. Beautiful song.
08 Azerbaijan Skeletons
Love the use of the blackboard with the wordcloud of the lyrics. Horsehead guy….? And the pitch issues continue — or maybe it’s the mic effect they have her using? What is she wearing, by the way? What was the point of drawing xs on the singers’ backs? That was an…interesting staging, but not quite in the way I was hoping it to be.
09 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois
His voice sounds great! Good choice to use the satellite stage, too. I would have had a piano up there with him; but this was utterly flawless.
10 Greece This is Love
Some interesting chord choices for the refrain. Fun staging and backing screen. Demy: “This is love: two hot shirtless men dancing in water!” That was fun and accomplished what it set out to do. It is definitely moving forward.
11 Poland Flashlight
Look at those heels! I like this song, but having her up so loud takes away some the mystery and intrigue of the song. She killed it though!
12 Moldova Hey, Mamma!
Surprisingly, one of the best dressed acts tonight. That was good. Fairly unremarkable – no “Epic Sax Guy” memes this year. That was fine. The song was the center of the show, which, I guess, is how it should be.
13 Iceland Paper
She’s got a huge boob window in the dress. No Illuminati earrings like in the video. I’m surprised they went with a white outfit, but I guess it’s the most drastic contrast they could go with between her and the background. And, I guess, most paper is white. She looks more like a superhero that just saved the day (perhaps Powergirl with a weave) than she does a woman broken by her love leaving her.
Epic Sac Guy playing his well-known riff.
14 Czechia My Turn
What is she wearing?! I like the walking path of light effect. This is not how I would have staged this entry — the song needed to do something to standout and they chose to try to do so through a hideous outfit. I do not think this will go well for Czechia.
15 Cyprus Gravity
More pitch problems. Hey! The backing dancers disappeared. Let me guess, they’re gonna come back while flying. Nope. Just reappeared. Wow – this staging is just one huge missed opportunity. There’s so much more they could have done.
16 Armenia Fly with Me
Awww, no giant ring of hair. Cool camera effect of having it bounce around. Nice use of strobes and fire without letting them be overwhelming. Love the flying bird at the end; what a cool effect!
17 Slovenia On My Way
They really need to do everything they can to help this song standout. Let’s see… Why is his suit so sparkly? Pitch problems in the second refrain. So, that was probably the best they could do to stage it without things getting too overwhelming, but, still a bit boring and forgettable.
18 Latvia Line
Her hair – why?!?! The backing screen is really cool. And I love the neon color scheme. I was hoping for some glow-in-the-dark effects… Nope. Those boots, though. That was much more tame of a staging than anticipated.
Why do they keep showing delegations from other countries after a performance?
My Favorite Ten from tonight
Who I think will be moving through (in no particular order)
Jamala! If they weren’t going to open with 1944, they needed to have just saved it for Saturday. I do like this version. But again, it should have been during the opening sequence on Saturday. Congrats to her on her marriage, though!
And – technical difficulties 😡😡😡
Oh! Jamala is back for the interval act! I thought they said she wouldn’t be here again until Saturday. I guess I misheard the hosts. Interesting outfits and backing screen choices. Cool song, though!
Automatic Qualifiers Previews
Spain – well, that performance sounds wholly uninspired
United Kingdom – love the infinite stars! Well staged, UK, well staged.
Italy – that was about as expected. It’s the big favorite for a reason.
Oooohhhh!!!!! Here we go!!!
Moldova – no surprise there; I’m 1 for 1
Azerbaijan – cool beans! 2 for 2
Greece – fun, positive dance track; 3 for 3
Sweden – probably undeserved; 4 for 4
Portugal – first time in the Grand Final since 2010! 5 for 5
Poland – yay! Loved this song, happy it moved through; 5 for 6
Armenia – a favorite of mine, woot! 6 for 7
Australia – no, this is the most undeserved qualifier; 6 for 8
Cyprus – that was unexpected. Good for them; 6 for 9
Belgium – it would have been a huge upset if Belgium failed. 7 for 10.