Live Commentary on the Night

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016!

denmark_2016_poll-620x330Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome to my annual live notes for the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix! Ever since I studied in Denmark back in college (2007), I have considered it to be my second home country – and I always cheer for them in ESC. Those of you who have been following me for years know that my ESC coverage for the new year starts in earnest with my live notes from DMGP! As a reminder, live notes are my Denmarkrunning commentary; I write them as I watch the show for the first time. This year, I am fortunate enough to be able to watch the show live online (dr.dk) – which I always love doing; sharing the moment with all of Denmark!

What a great opening! First, we’re reminded that each of the last two times that Sweden hosted the Contest: Denmark has won. Perhaps 2016 will continue this pattern?

The hosts singing a rousing song about the glory of Danish music, their closeness with their neighbors to the north (Sweden), and the hope for a great show!

As a reminder, DMGP is determined from a mix of jury and televoting. The ten competing songs are all performed. We have a voting period. Then the top three songs according to a 50/50 combination of jury and televoting move through to the superfinal. These three songs are performed again. We then have another voting period. This year, the winner is determined soley by the votes of the public which are revealed in reverse-order. The public’s votes are distributed proportionately.

Our expert jury, who’s points account for one half of our final score – a songwriter from Satellite, president of the MGP fan club, Chanée (half of the duo from Denmark in 2010), the director from 2014’s Contest, and a music producer.

 

Song 1Rays of Sunlight performed by David Jay

This song is a lot of fun! The performance is great. Why the arrangement is a nice and the lyrics are swell – the song is just a bit too corny, for my taste. Maybe it will grow on me, but right now, I’m a bit lukewarm on it.

Song 2 Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone

While this is not the song co-written by winning performer Emmelie de Forest (that is song 10), this song brings to mind Rainmaker and Hunter and Prey, two of de Forest’s post-Contest songs. Despite this, I think the song is really great! The oversized heart is also a nice touch – particularly as it raises her up a bit. I don’t quite understand the point of the dancers, as they’re barely onscreen. Very strong song!

Song 3Breakaway performed by Bracelet

Hoping that their dual Danish-Swedish heritage works to their advantage. What are they wearing?! It’s like they want to try to be loud and edgy, but they don’t take any real risks with it; overall, their look is just kind of weak. The song is rather repetitive, but not in a good way. While it may appeal to the hoards of preteen girls watching, I just don’t see this song having mass appeal.

Song 4Blue Horizon  performed by Sophia Nohr

I like this, but think that it tries too hard to be “different and unique” — this is what we would refer to a “hipster” song here in the States. It’s alright, I don’t think it will move through to the superfinal, but it’s not bad.

Song 5  – The Wrong Kind performed by Veronicas Illusion

It’s nice to have another uptempo song, but this isn’t very good. There’s a lot of flashing lights and sounds and dances. It’s just a complete mess. The song is only okay. I am not impressed and don’t anticipate this song being very popular tonight.

So, halfway through, I think songs 1 and 2 are so far the strongest; but  neither are all that stunning. Interestingly, we don’t really see the usual attempts of capturing last year’s magic of Heroes, A Million Voices, or Grande Amore. Perhaps the second half will present a few examples?

Song 6  – Soldiers of Love  performed by Lighthouse X

I don’t care for their voices; at least, not when they sing individually. Despite this, Soldiers for Love is, thus far, the most complete song we’ve seen. The performance and staging are modest, but in a good way. The song is catchy without being overly repetitive. The music is nice. It will just be a matter of whether the Danes can get past their aversion to military metaphors and vote for them.

Song 7  – Who Needs a Heart  performed by Kristel Lisberg

Again, I do not particularly like her voice. I like her outfit, but not those of her backing singers. Umm….this song is okay. It would definitely need to some beefing up and reworking if it somehow wins tonight. But since I do not see that as a major possibility, I don’t think that it will be an issue.

Song 8  – Break It Good  performed by Jessica

Hmm, a reggae-inspired song. I cannot say that I was expecting something like this. But I cannot imagine this song doing well either tonight in DMGP or on the stage in Stockholm. Also, what the heck is she wearing?

Song 9  – To Stjerner performed by Muri & Mario

Our one and only Danish language song tonight. It really is a shame the DR does not promote more Danish language stuff — it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve last heard Danish on the ESC stage. I like the sound of the song; it’s very different and stands out from the crowd. The acrobat is also a nice touch. Once again, the singer’s voice needs some work, in my opinion. But I like the song and think that it could do well in Sweden, but not so much here.

Song 10  – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

This is the song co-written by Emmelie de Forest; it has a bit of controversy, because de Forest had performed it at a few, smaller concerts a few years ago. After consulting with the EBU, it was determined that those public performances were not big enough to warrant eliminating the song. Oh no, it sounds like she’s sick or something, her voice just sounds off. As the winner of The Voice Australia, I was imagining a stronger performance. It’s a shame, because this sounds like a song that has a real  shot of, not only winning tonight, but challenging for the crown in Stockholm. Hopefully, the Danish public and the jury look past her rough start and vote for this song!

 

So, my thoughts on our ten songs from tonight.

My Top Five

  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone
  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen
  1. Song 9 – To Stjerner performed by Muri & Mario
  1. Song 1 – Rays of Sunlight performed by David Jay

Who I think will make it to the Superfinal

  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen
  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone

I know what you’re thinking, “he just chose his top three songs to move through to the superfinal. That’s not very smart.” And you’re both wrong and right. I chose the three songs that I think have the best shot of moving through to the Superfinal; they just so happened to be my favorite three from the night. You’re right in that I do not have a very good history with picking successful entries at DMGP. But hey – no one’s perfect!

Our annual choir of kids.  Yadda yadda yadda. Small talk with hosts and guests. Yadda yadda yaddda.

Okay, and our three qualifiers are….

  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone
  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

 

Buahahaha! I was 3 for 3, 100% correct! That’s exciting! Now another sketch (which, by the way, these sketches are funny, to imagine that her as this tough-as-nails, Godfather-type character, is pretty cool).

Okay, and onwards to the Superfinal. This is for all the marbles. The songs need to be in full glory this time around in order to be crowned in victory.

Song 2  – Heart Shaped Hole  performed by Simone

Her voice is amazing, just as strong as the first time around. However, I don’t feel like this is any better than earlier tonight; it’s merely the same level of performance. She needs to give us more in the last third of the song. Here we go…building up to the final climax…and…meh. A very good job, no doubt, but will it be good enough to leave a massive impression and knock off the other two.

It’s about time we talk about Dansevise, one of my favorite ESC winners of all time! It’s such a haunting song, particularly the guitar rift, which is what we’re focusing on here in this video.

Song 6  – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X

They’re voices need to be stronger and clearer this time around. So far, so good. It’s good, but I just can’t keep thinking about the 3JS (Netherlands 2011) when I listen to this song. I really like this song, and think it could compete on the ESC stage, however, I just don’t think it has enough to beat either of the other two songs, even with this slightly better performance in the Superfinal.

Song 10  – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

So, I think this is hers to lose at this point (which is interesting, as Denmark is not known for choosing non-Danish performers, even when they have Danish heritage). You can see it in her eyes, she’s performing with this look of confidence, as if she’s already won. Listen to the crowd! That was a good performance. Again, her voice was not as strong as it could have been, but I think she gave a great performance.

After last year’s failure, Denmark is striking back with three very strong songs that all are worthy of bringing the trophy back to Denmark. I like Soldiers of Love a lot, but I just do not think that it has what it takes to outperform the other two songs in the voting. It’s not as captivating as the other two and the singers are less appealing to the general audience.  So, while I think that Heart Shaped Hole is the better song and the better-performed song, I have a feeling that Never Alone is going to easily win tonight. Which, honestly, might be the better, strategic choice for DR, as Nissen is Australian which unlocks loyalty voting from Australia, the UK, and Ireland. The song is also more uptempo and more uplifting; it’s catchy and the singer is pretty. We’ll see.

Okay, so now we’re talking about Swedish winners. Oh! A fun picture of Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015) with a pile of beer. A short interview with C​​harlotte Perelli (Sweden 1999…and 2008). And now, a performance from Loreen (Sweden 2012), who’s as pretty as ever and singing a lovely version of the ever popular Euphoria.

Danish Flag MapFinal Resutls!

So, Heart Shaped Hole gets third place…and the winner is…Soldiers of Love! Of course it is. Right when I predicted that it would come in last. Honestly, I think Denmark would be well off with any of these three songs. This is my favorite song from tonight. It will be interesting to see how the song takes shape between now and when the final version is due in mid-March. As I say above, I think that this song has a very strong chance to do well at the ESC and I look forward to supporting the song in Stockholm!

 

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Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2015

The new DMGP logo

The new DMGP logo

And thus, it begins! In what is shaping up to be one of the more unique Contest years, let’s hope the the actual shows live up to all the craziness that is happening. But, before we dive into the news , my first post of the new season, as always, focuses on Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2015!

Danish Flag MapPer usual, these are live notes.  I am writing this as I am watching this for the first time. I do go back and edit for typos, but that is it. Given that my favorite song rarely wins DMGP, I am predicting that my predictions will be way off once again!

Hmm, just from the opening, the production value seems quite a bit lower than in the recent past. DR is probably still recovering from all the expenses of hosting the Contest last year.

Here we go!

Song One: Love Me, Love Me performed by Sara Sukurani
I’m not quite sure what she is wearing; it’s rather awful. I do love the Bollywood sound to this song. The dance portion is not all that interesting – if she were to win, it would need to be spruced up tremendously. Not a bad song, nor a bad way to start off the evening. I do not, however, think we will be hearing this song again tonight.

Ahhhh…is this social media pandering going to be happening all night? Oh look, a post about the hosts. Yay. (That’s sarcasm, by the way)

Funny video, but I would prefer for us to move through the songs as uninterrupted as possible. All the extra stuff can happen before and after.

Song Two: Mi Amore performed by Tina & René
Oh, our requisite Thomas G:son song for DMGP. A light year for the prolific Swedish  composer, only five songs throughout Europe this year. For me, this song is the definition of generic. Not all that inspiring and rather repetitive. It will not stand up to the competition in Vienna. I hope, for Denmark’s sake, it does not win. I don’t dislike the song, in terms of its musical merit, I just think it’s a weak entry competitively.

So, now we begin introducing the regional juries. This year, DR is reverting to a selection process not unlike its pre-2010 days. DR has divided the country into regions and has given each a jury in the selection process.

The audience vote is a little different.  There are 290 points available. The points are divided amongst the ten songs in accordance with the percentage of the popular vote that it yields.

DR decided to use regional juries and scrap their balance of ONE jury and several popular votes that has been in use since 2010. Interestingly enough, 2010 is when Denmark started its recent string of success. I wonder if this move is as much about avoiding winning, after bearing the expense of hosting last year, as it is about trying to increase nationwide buy-in for the winner. Perhaps DR is just trying to capitalize on the increased interest in the Contest while it can.

Song Three: Når Veje Krydses performed by Marcel & Soulman Group
I almost always like the Danish-language songs in DMGP – and this is no exception. It has a sweet melody, a catchy melody, and a strong performance. The soulful sound is also quite nice! It’s the well ahead of the previous two in my opinion.

Song Four: Hotel A performed by Cecilie Alexandra
Interesting sound…is she singing in English?  Yes.  All of a sudden, Love Me, Love Me is sounding a lot better. The refrain is well articulated and easy to sing along to. However, much like Song Two, this one is pleasant but weak. Ultimately, I cannot see it moving forward tonight. I can’t help but feel that this song was just short of being awesome; I’m not quite sure what is missing, but it just feels incomplete.

Song Five: Love is Love performed by Andy Roda
I don’t know if his voice is strong enough to pull this song off. I am thinking that he is just nervous. This is alright.  Oh! Love the glitter! Hoping it has the same effect that Only Teardrops‘ confetti did? Hmmm…I would say that this is the second strongest song thus far.

Hmmm, halfway through and I am not overly confident that Denmark will return to the Top Ten in Vienna. Let’s hope the second half has some stronger entries!

Song Six: Tæt på Mine Drømme performed by Julie Bjerre
She looks like a child, but is dressed like a middle-aged woman – at least, they are not trying to make her look overly sexy. There is something very 80s about this entry. Personally, this is my third favorite thus far behind songs three and four, but I think, thus far, it is the strongest entry. It is catchy; the singer is cute; the song is pleasant yet memorable. The eighties-style staging captures the song’s sound well and Bjerre’s voice is right on.

Song Seven: The Way You Are performed by Anti Social Media
When one pictures male Danish teenagers, I am pretty sure they are precisely the image that comes to mind. THAT is not the sound I was expecting with a name like “Anti Social Media.” There are definitely some articulation and pronunciation issues, which harkens to the question, “What’s wrong with songs in one’s own language?” Right – if you have ever read my converage on DMGP, you know that I believe that the Danes generally believe that their language, though pretty, would inhibit a song’s success. Therefore, I think Danish language entries have a disadvantage at DMGP.  Whereas the previous song had a distinct 1980s sound, this one had a distinct 1970s sounds to it. What’s next, disco? I think the song still needs some work, but I would put its chances second to song six (despite what I just said about Danish-language entries).

Song Eight: Suitcase performed by Anne Gadegaard
Despite the fact that the backing vocals are a bit too loud, I really like the staging and performance. The song is crazy catchy and tells a story. The camera work is also quite nice. By far, the strongest entry to be performed tonight. This sounds like it would fit right in on the Eurovision stage. More confetti! Though, they lose their effect if the camera is inside the confetti shower. I really like it, though! At this point, this is my choice to win.

Song Nine: Manjana performed by Babou
What language is he singing in? I can barely hear him over the music. Okay – he’s singing in Danish. It only took a verse and a half to figure that out. I do like the sound of the entry, though. It makes me want to get up and dance – which I believe is the point. This volume imbalance has been going on all night. Hmm…I think it is a strong entry. It’s making me think about how I am balancing all the entries against one another.

Song Ten: Summer Without You performed by World of Girls
They described the song as “girl power” and that is the sound – kinda of bubblegummy and very girly. It definitely harkens back to the nineties girl groups, in sound and look. The pause was interesting – as was the slow-motion at the end. Just a lot of interesting staging choices. Not my favorite, but I can understand its appeal.

Okay, so, all the songs have been performed. My predictions for the Top Three:
1. Song Eight – Suitcase
2. Song Nine – Manjana
3. Song Ten – Summer Without You

I think that Suitcase is the best song and the other two are the most infectious. Manjana is the token Danish-language song that will move through, as one (just one and never more) usually finishes in the top three.

Once again, DR seems to have saved the strongest songs for the second half of the show. Which is not fair, but whatever. I am tired of talking about my dislike for producer-decided running orders. ANYWAY, while songs 6-10 are all in the same realm of strength, I think that the three above have the best chances of success tonight and in Vienna.

In terms of my favorite three:
1. Song Three – Når Veje Krydses
2. Song Eight – Suitcase
3. Song Six – Tæt på Mine Drømme

And now, the results of the five juries:
First region (Zealand) in: Hotel A takes the initial lead
Second region (Middle Jutland) puts The Way You Are in a tie with Hotel A
Third region (Southern Jutland & Fyn) has technical difficulties!
Fourth region (Copenhagen) breaks the tie and puts The Way You Are in first.
Back Region Three (Southern Jutland & Fyn) – and more top points for boys with the 70s sound.
Fifth Region (Northern Jutland) extends the lead for The Way You Are.

It is strange to me that they would show the juries’ points BEFORE closing the voting lines. Wouldn’t that influence the audience’s votes?

Now, last year’s winner Basim sings an unexpectedly serious song (when compared to Cliché Love Song) that actually sounds pretty cool. Oh, I should have known that annoying song was going to be performed.

And now, our annual commercial for MGP (the junior song contest that inspired JESC). Every year, the entrants from MGP come and perform their group song to raise awareness and interest for their competition in just a few weeks time.

And now, the results of the audience’s vote read in the order of their eventual final placing
Song 1, only 13 points
Song 5, only 8 points
Song 9 – 35 points (guess I was way off in my prediction!)
Song 10 – 34 points (see above)
Song 2 – 20 points
Song 3 – 18 points
Song 4 is out of the running with only 18 points from the audience
Song 6 gets 38 big points, but it is not enough to stay alive

And now, the winner! I am either really right (for only the second time for DMGP – 2013 being the first) or really wrong

Song 7 gets a whopping 48 points. Not being quick with math, I am not sure if the remaining points are enough for my favorite, Song 8, to catch up.  It needs 65 to win. Let’s see!

D’oh! it gets only 58 points, falling a mere seven points short of victory.
The quintessential Danes and their 70s song win Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2015!

While I do not think that the boys are ready, the juries, and a good portion of the audience, think that they are.

Okay, so, as I listen to their Winner’s Reprise, I think the following things are necessary for them to be successful in Vienna (be mindful, I am much better at predicting ESC success than success at DMGP)
Denmark1. They need to work on their enunciation of English – this is a common ailment amongst non-native speakers, but winners of the modern era have had pretty good diction. There’s no advantage to singing in English if people cannot understand you.
2. There outfits need to coordinate. They need to dive into their seventies sound – where matching suits and put the backing vocalists in coordinated dresses. Think Armenia’s entry from the 2012. The boys of Compass Band were dressed for the era.
3. They need to play up to the fact that they are young, likeable guys. Everyone likes cute young people with catchy songs. They need to avoid negative press and just present themselves as ordinary, European guys.

With a little work, this song could reach the Top Ten. If you think that tween girls are one of the primary ESC demographics, Anti Social Media should have them on lock. I don’t mention gay men, as that demographic is more associated with dance tunes, divas, and hot men (as opposed to younger guys). Ultimately, I think this song is a shoo-in for the Grand Final but will find itself outside the Top Ten. While I think they will achieve a respectful finish, I just don’t see them improving their performance and staging enough to compete seriously on a pan-European level.

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Eurovision 2013 — Grand Final Live Notes…Live!

Thanks for reading my live-live notes! It was fun, but difficult, but overall, worth it! I hope to make this a tradition (at least for the Grand Final).  If you did not come to this post until after the Contest, you’ll notice that it is in reverse chronological order, so scroll to the bottom and read your way back to the top of the page.  I have hyperlinked each individual performance (click the country’s name).  If you want to follow along in real time, here’s the link to the Grand Final on the official website.  Good night!

Final Thoughts

Looks like I am still batting .800.  Not too shabby!  I had predicted that Germany (finished 21st) and Georgia (finished 15th) would be in the Top Ten and sorely missed the call there.  I also predicted that the UK would finish in the Top 15, nope.  I did call Sweden finishing 14th, though, so that’s pretty sweet!  Overall, I’m quite happy with the results.  While I do not think Denmark was the strongest in any one field (lyrics, composition, performance), I thought it had the best package.  This is a situation similar to Norway’s win 2009.  Now, all three Scandinavian countries have won since 2009 (that’s 3 out of 4 years!) – expand that to include all the Nordic countries (add in Finland and Iceland) and they have 4 victories since 2006 and a slew of Top Ten placings.  I know people in the West like to whine about the East, but it’s the Nordic bloc that has taken control of the Contest. Not a bad thing, since all five of those countries take the Contest very seriously and tend to produce very strong entries.  It will be interesting to see next year.  DR is not as aggressive about change as SVT is (and, really, who is), so I am hoping that some things will revert – like, we’ll go back to random draw for the running order and we won’t have the host try to end the show early.  Denmark won a long time before Petra announced it, so everything just seemed a bit awkward.

Anyway, I have complained a lot about SVT’s production, but I want to note some highlights: the opening and interval acts were all top notch.  While I think they got a little too cheeky with the humor during tonight’s interval act, overall, it was funny and well done.  Sarah Dawn Finer did an amazing job (though, I do wonder if anyone bothered calling the Herrey’s or Charlotte Perelli who also won for Sweden in 1984 and 1999, respectively) both as Lynda Woodruff and when she sung.  I want to go find her now!  I loved the postcards – they really helped endear you to each performing artist. And I thought the stage was really nifty (though, it was a little too easy to hide backing singers) – so well done there!

More to come in my usual “One Week Later” post.  I will also go through and clean up this post for typos, correct factual mistakes, and add images and links to the performances.

Actual Top Ten

1. Denmark (1 for 1)
2. Azerbaijan (2 for 2)
3. Ukraine (3 for 3)
4. Norway (4 for 4)
5. Russia (4 for 5)
6. Greece (5 for 6)
7. Italy (6 for 7)
8. Malta (7 for 8)
9. The Netherlands (8 for 9)
10. Hungary (8 for 10)

I like that Denmark brought their own confetti to add to that which was already falling.  Many said that the Danish staging was made to look like a winner – and it was! It looked good, it sounded good, it had strong lyrics, and a strong composition.  It had huge support from fans, analysts,  and bookies alike.  It was song that was destined to win, albeit, I don’t think anyone (other than maybe the bookies who had this at much lower odds than everyone else) expected it to win by so much.

Boo SVT Boo!!!!!!  You cut off the winner’s reprise – that is wholly unacceptable!

Yay – time for the Winner’s Reprise!!  Not a close race like I was hoping for, but the outcome that I had wanted, most definitely!  I promised myself that I would go to the Contest if Denmark were to win – looks like I’m heading back to Land of the Danes!  As soon as the host city is officially announced – I will be booking plane tickets and hotel rooms (or couches of friends) and heading to the place where I first discovered the Contest back in 2007.

I love that she is walking through the flags of all the other countries – awesome!!  Even better, I predicted this win way back when she took DMGP!

And Azerbaijan is officially second!

It’s a race for second! Azr is back in after Switzerland!

I think they just wanted to get Denmark moving.  We’re already 25 minutes over the 3 hour allotment.

What’s the point of announcing a winner if we’ll keep going to the spokespersons?  Is it simply because no Contest is complete without Cyprus officially giving 12 points to Greece?

We won’t get to the last few (Cyprus, Croatia, Switzerland, and Lithuania) — I like the light effect on her dress.

Macedonia – interesting, she forgot to say “Former Yugoslav Republic of ” before Macedonia, I think she’s getting tired. The FYR folks seem to be lining up behind Denmark. Fun!

Georgia – no surprises here

Slovenia – now the entire top 8 is over 100pts. 12pts to Denmark.

Montenegro – what’s up with that echo?

Denmark – No real surprises here.

Ireland – poor Ireland, they’re on track for their second last place finish.

Greece – Denmark breaks 200 and Azerbaijan regains second place.

France – And the Danes are just outside of 200 points.  I don’t think she’ll crack 300, though.

Iceland – no surprises here.  If I haven’t already, I am officially calling this for Denmark (I think I did earlier, but just in case I did not)

Germany – 12 to Hungary?  Interesting, not too surprising.  First slip up like that from a spokesperson in quite a few years.

Estonia – when will people learn, leading a vote announcement with “Our neighbors…” is not a good idea and will not buy you any love from the fans.

Malta – Oh – Azr! not expected!  Looks like I’ll be eating crow for my words about the UK entry, it’s not doing too well.

Russia – no real shock except for 8pts to Belgium.  But the sentiment seems rampant in Russian art that “love kills,” so I guess that’s why it got so many points.

Belgium – interesting to see where the points go without Turkey in the competition – The Netherlands, they’re fun neighbors to the north!  Yay, at least Anouk got one 12 for the Netherlands.  Good stuff.

Bulgaria – Armenia?  how strange. Oh, Ukraine narrows the gap to a mere 14 points.

And Eric Saade knows a thing or two about leading at the halfway point, only to see that lead slip away.  Though, Denmark’s lead is stronger than his was in 2011.

135 for Denmark, 113 for Ukraine, 100 for Azerbaijan

Latvia – It’s funny, you can hear the annoyance in Petra’s voice as she tries to get people to talk faster.

Belarus – first big points for Russia, who is also holding tight, like Norway. And Ukraine breaks 100.

Spain – Italy is back in the Top Ten.

Finland – Hungary is definitely doing better than expected.  Denmark has a 36 point lead over second place Ukraine.

Italy – Still no points for poor Estonia 😦 And Denmark stretches it’s lead.

Armenia – Interesting, Norway, I think, has only gotten one big point, but it is racking up a lot of small ones and staying in the mix of the Top Ten.  And the Ukraine is making a play for the top.

Norway – the party has been going for nearly 3 hours, Tooji. More big points for Malta!  Do I see an underdog trying to make a run?  No big points for Denmark?  Interesting.  Interesting that Sweden got their 12.

Azerbaijan – 8pts for Malta! The tiny nation climbs to 6th.

Moldova – only ten for Romania? 12 goes to? Ukraine – not surprising.

Romania – Azerbaijan is now only 7 points behind Denmark.

Hungary – Malta is holding tough!  Azerbaijan is trying to keep things close, I wonder if it can close the gap (13 points).

Ukraine – the voting is going so fast! Thanks for slowing things down a bit.  Belarus?  Interesting.

Serbia – first FYR country gives their 12 to…Denmark.  Okay – I think I need to start looking for flights to Copenhagen.

Israel – another unpredictable country. I feel like the same guy gives their points every year.

United Kingdom – only 1 point for Ireland?  Interesting. Hmmm…Denmark has taken the lead.  I wonder if they will relinquish it?  Still too early to call it.

Austria – Azerbaijan is the only surprise, but it was a good performance.  It really annoys me that Azerbaijan tends to hold a Turkish flag – boo!  Support your own country!

The Netherlands – Way to screw things up producers! You revealed the 12 pointer way too early! and on the wrong country! yay neighbor voting in the West! And Roberto isn’t even Flemish!

Albania – Italy! Is this the beginning of a run to the top?

Sweden – way to go Petra, better she caught her issue now, as opposed to later. Finally, Sweden plays the part of a nice neighbor.

San Marino – only 4 points for Italy.  and our first 12 goes to: Greece! Not expected, but who can guess the minds of the Sammarinese

Another awful outfit for our lovely host.  Voting time!!

Oh, it’s Melodifestivalen regular and Lynda Woodruff player: Sarah Dawn Finer.  What a beautiful voice!

I love The Winner Takes it All!  And she’s doing an amazing job with it!  Who is this?

Ooh! I wonder why this is like the second or third time that they’ve gone to Jon Ola without him being ready – but given there is a singer ready, I’m assuming that was planned.  OOh!  Judging by what he said, he makes it sound like it will be a tie – and they’re going through to see who the winner is after the countback — how awesome would that be!!

Aww…he’s reminding us why pop stars do not equal good host.  I’m guessing he’s just nervous.

Everyone’s favorite dancing, overrated singing Swede – Eric Saade!

Love the sequence of over-the-top endings!

Poor Linda Martin, no need to attack her.

Yay, more history!!

Two and a half hours, Petra, two and a half hours.

What?!  That’s all the Carola that we get?  The woman that brought the wind machine to ESC gets only five seconds after all the promotion they did around her appearance, I thought she would at least get to do a medley of her three ESC songs, especially her winner (that we only got three seconds of).

In case you were wondering, Sweden has the highest rate of lactose intolerance in the world.

The video they have preceding the Interval Act is hilarious! (though, they started it a little early, but it was quickly corrected)  How is it that Sweden seems to be allowed to cross all sorts of lines that the EBU typically shuts down (there was a guy with several penises drawn on his face and a bare bottom)?  Azerbaijan would not have been allowed to get away with a lot of this.  I was wondering why Petra was wearing yet another awful outfit – it’s to make fun of her country – yay!  Interestingly enough, this outfit is her least awful.  And she just said “titties” on pan-European television. An entry would not have been allowed to get away with this.  What is going on?  Why is SVT allowed to do whatever it pleases? Oh, more pandering to the gays.  yay.  I expect a lot of backlash in tomorrow’s papers across the Continent.

My Top Ten on the Night Who I think will be Top Ten
Iceland Denmark
Italy Germany
France Azerbaijan
Norway Italy
Azerbaijan Norway
Denmark Georgia
Estonia Ukraine
The Netherlands The Netherlands
Belgium Greece
United Kingdom Malta

What is Loreen wearing?!  I like that she’s back, but I hate the idea of a song being performed during the voting sequence. It distracts from the competitors, especially when they are not running the voting numbers throughout the sequence – which is utterly silly for them to not do.  Boo SVT.  Oh!  My Heart is Refusing Me the song she lost Melodifestivalen in 2011(?) with, but it went on to be a big hit. And, of course, Euphoria complete with stage lift!

After the recap, I think the entries that stand out the most to me are: Greece and France.  That’s it for now.  Top Ten for the night soon to follow.

Poor cameraman, he must have drawn the short straw.

Ireland Only Love Survives performed by Ryan Dolan — those drummers are just a bit much in my opinion.  Why does the standard ESC answer to falling odds always seem to be throwing half-naked people at their problem? Ryan is a bit off tonight – too much pressure closing the show?  I think with the strength of singers we have this year, the vocal performance is going to play a bigger part than ever – I don’t think he has the chops to compete.  This is a nice diddy and he’s singing well enough but that won’t be enough, in my opinion. It’s a nice close to the show, but I don’t expect Ireland to finish higher than, maybe, 14th or so.

Georgia Waterfall performed by Nodi Tatishvili & Sopho Gelovani — the final ballad on the night, which will give it a big boost in the voting, both jury and televotes. The fact that this is also a standard ESC ballad (composed by ESC legend Thomas G:son) will also help it out a lot. What will not help – Sopho singing like she did on Thursday night. She was off-key for a large part of the second half of the song starting at the big note. Tonight – she’s doing better (Nodi is a little off) but will it be enough?  Ex that, she’s flat for that last note.  I don’t know – with Italy, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Ukraine all turning in flawless performances, I think Georgia just sung their way out of contention.

Norway Feed Your My Love performed by Margaret Berger — in case you didn’t know, she’s a DJ – that’s why she’s dj-ing in the postcard.  She needs a stronger performance here than she gave in the semi-final if she hopes to stay in contention. And she gave it!! Listen to the audience – that could win! I just wonder if Europe will appreciate her sound.

Italy L’Essenziale performed by Marco Mengoni — Mengoni brings the song that he won Sanremo with – given how big and competitive that contest is, we know that this song is battletested and proven in competition.  I think the press, who seem to be rating this song lower than the bookies, are down on this song because he was very nonchalant throughout his time in Malmo.  I think he was flawless during that performance and thrown down the gauntlet.  Italy has reached the Top Ten each of the last years since returning to the Contest, there’s no reason it won’t do the same now (especially with all the former Yugoslav nations out of the running and looking to someone to throw votes at).

Ukraine Gravity performed by Zlata Ognevich — still don’t quite get the giant (apparently it’s a reference to Easter European folklore).  His footsteps still don’t align with the camera shakes. I think this year we are seeing some of the best vocalists we have seen at the Contest in a long time – that was vocally amazing. The song is going to be hit or miss for a lot of folks, so I don’t think it will win, but it will be Top Ten for sure.

Greece Alcohol is Free performed by Koza Nostra fest. Agathon Iakovidis — this song has actually sneaked its way into the oddsmakers’ top ten. It’s so different than everything else – not to mention that it’s staged and performed so well.  And, the fact that it’s Greece doesn’t hurt either.  This song will probably finish in the 5-10 range.

Azerbaijan Hold Me performed by Farid Mammadov — I think his nerves may be getting him, his voice is a little flat and his hand shaky, but he still sounds fairly good (or, at least as good as he can sound). Great performance!  This will definitely be contending for a top spot.

Iceland Ég á Líf performed by Eythor Ingi — flawless performance – utterly flawless.  I think this could also shock a lot of folks, too!  What a strong year this is shaping up to be.

Denmark Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest —  Huge crowd reaction for Denmark!  Amazing performance!  Well done well done — Gå Danmark!  This song has winner dripping all over it – I think we just saw a winning performance.

And now we begin our run of heavy hitters – songs 18 (Denmark), 20 (Azerbaijan), 22 (Ukraine), 23 (Norway), 24 (Italy), and 25 (Georgia) are all in the top ten of the oddsmakers.

Hungary Kedvesem performed by Bye.Alex — still a bit dull but he sounds just like he does every time he performs this song.  Apparently, there’s enough hipsters and indie fans to get this song to the Final, but are there enough to get Bye.Alex and Kedvesem on the better side of the scoreboard – probably not.

Sweden You performed by Robin Stjernberg — not as big a crowd reaction as the home performance usually gets, interesting.  Now it’s time for Stjernberg to prove that he actually can sing this song live.  Those two dancers are rather distracting.  That big note is a lot better than when we typically hear it.  Still not great, but better.  With the host country bump, this should finish around 12th or so.

United Kingdom Believe in Me performed by Bonnie Tyler — big crowd reaction for Ms. Tyler. She’s rather off-key 😦  But she just seems to be warming up – there she goes! Love the camera effect for this last run through of the chorus!! The stage lift is nice, unneccessary, but nice.  Huge crowd reaction – though!  Good stuff.  I hope that she is able to prove her countrymen wrong, as Britons seem to be the only folks who don’t think this song can finish in the top half of the entries (it’s 11th or 12th in the odds right now).

Romania It’s My Life performed by Cezar — Not the first operatic act in the Final (not at all) as Cezar thinks he is, but he is the first countertenor who uses his supreme range throughout the entire song to qualify for the Final.  Still not quite sure how he did, though. Still cannot find his backing singer, she’s hidden well! Yeah, still not convinced that this song can do much, Europe has never gone for countertenors before, I don’t think it will now.  Past operatic acts never finished higher than mid-table and I do not expect this one to.

Brace yourselves everyone – here comes Romania!

The Netherlands Birds performed by Anouk — if you don’t understand the lyrics – want to understand why the album this comes from is called Sad Singalong Songs, or just want to feel blue, watch the official video (after the Final, of course). I wonder how big an impact following the advert break will be – I wonder if she was placed here to help bring people back faster.  Oh my, the fans are really into this one! As I’ve said before, this song could shock a lot of folks and win (or at least finish Top Three).

I’m getting tired of all the pandering to the gays.  Really? Really? Do we really need so much pandering?  I think not.

The crowd preemptively cheered for Anouk, only to realize that Petra Mede was on stage.  Then cheered again for Lynda Woodruff – who’s skits are awesome!  Love the viking helmet!  I love how she’s acting as if ABBA is the Swedish royal family – hilarious!!

Armenia Lonely Planet performed by The Dorians — Another song that leaves me curious on how it slipped through to the final. The timing sounds off, like the singer is slightly behind the music.  He got pipes, though! The pyro is unnecessary.  Still do not think it will make the Top Ten, but then again, I didn’t think it could qualify.

Germany Glorious performed by Cascada — I have yet to hear this song performed, in a big concert style like this, in which Natalie Horner (Cascada’s singer) was on key throughout the song.  It’s such a foot stomper, and Cascada is so big, that it probably won’t effect the fan vote at all (I wholeheartedly expect Germany to be top five in the televote) but I wonder if the juries will bring down the score.

Something has just come to mind.  The advert break is usually after song 12.  I wonder if they will push it back for Anouk or if the are subjecting her to following it (a spot that is notorious for hurting the entry).  Not only would following the advert break be a disadvantage, but coming before the craziness that is Romania would not help things.

Russia What If? performed by Dina Garipova — uh oh, first notes were a little off.  Is someone nervous?  She looks it.  She’s recovered, but not as strong as on Tuesday, I think.  Still, though, a solid performance.  There’s every reason to believe that this will finish in the Top Ten.

Malta Tomorrow performed by Gianluca — this song is so adorable, and the lyric video in the background is great. It fits the song so well.  As I said on Thursday, it definitely gives you that sing-a-long on the beach feel, which is what they are going for.  Hey! That one random fan guy was singing along, but facing away from the stage.  Hahaha!

Belarus Solayoh performed by Alyona Lanskaya — much better than on Tuesday.  The staging is still much too busy, but Lanskaya sounded a thousands times better.  Only a couple of times was she screaming, hmm…she may be moving back into my predicted Top Ten.

Estonia Et Uus Saaks Alguse performed by Birgit — Is it me, or does she look naked during this black and white portion? Still a very lovely ballad, still a bit forgettable, still beautifully sung.  And still, all I can think about is France and Amandine’s awesome performance, sorry Estonia.  Great song, though!

Belgium Love Kills performed by Roberto Bellarosa — he definitely seems to have a bit more stage presence this time around.  I guess qualifying gave him the confidence he needed. His dancers are so creepy! And that look he just gave the camera (right after that big note) was a bit deranged!  Overall, a much better performance than on Tuesday – well done young man!! Is he crying? No one expected Belgium to be here, not even him, I suppose.

Spain Contigo Hasta el Final performed by ESDM — another contender for last place.  Not because it’s a bad song (actually, it’s an amazing song; it’s not too often you hear Spain embracing the Celtic roots of Galicia (they sent a major Galician artist in 2011, but gave her a thoroughly Spanish song) but because it’s kinda of just there for most ESC fans.  Did she just change her dress? Let that be a warning – don’t ESC and type, my friends. Iteresting choice to go full throttle, then pull it back.  Love the floating lamps! Is it just me, or was she flat throughout that whole song?

Finland Marry Me performed by Krista Siegfrids — a bit less energy at the beginning here. I hated this song, then liked it, then loved it, then hated it again.  And the part at the end of the performance is silly and, in my opinion, demeaning – but that’s a post for another time. Ably performed once again, albeit with a little less enthusiasm and energy tonight.  The question is, will she be able to garner enough points from the more conservative populaces (particularly those in the East) to land a decent placing?  Not sure.

Moldova O Mie performed by Aliona Moon — her voice is not quite as strong as on Tuesday. And her hair does not seem as high, either. Though, I will say, the song is captivating enough that I forgot about her backing dancers for the entire first half of the song. Awesome! Maybe not Top Ten, though, since it is so early in the Running Order.

Lithuania Something performed by Andrius Pojavis — Still not quite sure how this got through to the Final. It’s pleasant I suppose.  The lyrics still don’t make any sense to me. I predict a near bottom finish for this song.

France L’Enfer et Moi performed by Amandine Bourgeois — That was a heck of a performance – bravo!!  Amandine is going to shock a lot of folks when she scores well, I think.

BTW, my pre-Contest prediction for Top Ten

1. Denmark
2. Georgia
3. Norway
4. Ukraine
5. The Netherlands
6. Italy
7. Azerbaijan
8. Moldova
9. Greece
10. Russia

France is opening for us this year! An interesting choice, but I guess it can inject some energy into the fans – but what kind, I’m not sure. Like any French girl, Amandine loves trying on new clothes.

As I said before, Azerbaijan’s biggest fear is to have Italy too close, and they’re only four songs away, with Italy going after AZR, I predict that neither will win because of this, opening the door for a brawl between Denmark, Norway, and Georgia.  Though, given the semi-final performances, Denmark is the strongest of the three.

Whoo!!  I’m stoked – this promises to be a close a Contest with the five biggest favorites are stacked together at the end of the running order.

Clearly, Sweden does not seem to have any good fashion designers because this is Petra’s third straight ugly dress.

I find it interesting that only Gianluca of Malta got a huge fan reaction – perhaps he’ll bring Malta back to the Top Ten this year?

So, I really liked the opening clip of the caterpillar heading to Malmo.  And I really like opening song.  I know it’s supposed to feel like the opening of the Olympics, but it feels more like the Junior ESC when every country gets introduced.  I do love it, though!

This year I am writing notes live and then immediately posting so remember to refresh your browser.

Hello Everyone!


Eurovision 2013 – Live Notes for the Second Semi-Final

After a few days of thinking about it, I am still fairly satisfied with the results of the First Semi-Final – let’s hope that tonight will be equally as satisfying (if not more!).  A lot of people seemed shocked that none of the former-Yugoslav countries made it through, despite the fact so many of them were in the First Semi-Final together.  Now the big question is: “Who will they all vote for in the Grand Final (since Macedonia most likely will not be in the Final)?”  I can tell you now, Serbia will vote for Russia, Croatia & Slovenia will vote for Italy, and Montenegro & Macedonia will vote for Albania.

Something interesting going on with the draws for the halves of the Grand Finals:

Estonia, the Netherlands, Russia, Lithuania, Belgium, Moldova, Belarus, Spain, Germany, and France have all been drawn into the first half of the Grand Final – that means only three songs qualifying tonight will join them; all the rest will be in the second half.  What does that mean, the Netherlands, Russia, and Germany, who all had outside shots of winning, have much slimmer hopes now.  Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Norway – the remaining favorites (who all will most likely qualify tonight) have had their chances increased! as they will probably land in the second half of the show.  Italy also sees its slim hopes alive, as it is in the second half, and as I said previously, if it is close to Azerbaijan, it will surely still votes from last year’s host as it is the better male ballad between the two.  San Marino, who is a dark horse this year, could also see itself land in higher than expected spot if it qualifies for the Final and gets drawn to the second half.

Onward to the Second Semi-Final!

I was 8 for 10 in my predictions from Tuesday night – not too shabby!  Below are my initial thoughts on who will qualify for Grand Final from tonight’s show:

-San Marino

-Azerbaijan

-Finland

-Iceland

-Greece

-Israel

-Norway

-Albania

-Georgia

-Switzerland

I think San Marino is poised with its best chance to qualify since joining the Contest.  It has a good spot in the running order and is a big fan favorite (it got second place in the OGAE Fan Poll); but, we have seen fan favorites fall before.  Same goes for Norway – it is the kind of thing that would succeed in the Grand Final, but may not do well in a semi-final.  With a strong performance, Switzerland could join the Netherlands and Belgium in the Final – wouldn’t that be a sight!  Anyway, I’m super excited for this – so let the show began!

Opening Act:

I’m rather liking this Opening Act! I think it’s called dance symphony or something like that.  That was pretty awesome!

OH MY GOODNESS – What is our host wearing?!  And what’s up with her hair?!  And why did she compare herself to Indira Gandhi and Mother Theresa?

On to the entries!

Latvian Flag MapLatvia Here We Go performed by PeR

OH MY – this went from zero to sixty in a blink of an eye!  There’s…so…much…sequins – does that jacket really need to be so bright and silver?  Is that guy playing an iPad attached to a guitar?  I get it, he represents today, the keytar represents the 80s and the those two guys represent the 90s, the era from which this song was taken.  That was better than expected – but still rather silly.

San Marino Crisalide (Voda) performed by Valentina MonettaSammarinese Flag Map

Already some positive crowd reaction and it hasn’t started yet.  Looking at this robe she’s wearing – will there be a costume change?  Yes! the first since, what, 2009?  Remember when costume changes used to be the staple of the Contest?  Now the wind machine has taken over.  Well done (except for that last note, which was rather botched), though not quite as strong as I was hoping it would be.

Macedonian Flag MapMacedonia Pred da se Razdeni performed by Lozano & Esma

I like how Esma’s portions of the postcard all show off how famous and decorated she is.  Where’s Lozano’s glasses?  What is Esma wearing?  Is she sick?  Why is her voice so hoarse?  I wonder if Lozano came over to hug her to let her know it was time to start wrapping up the song.  If they had any hope of moving through, they needed a flawless performance.  This, unfortunately, was not it.  It looks like there will not be any former Yugoslav nations in the Final this year (the first time since they started joining the Contest in 1993).

Azerbaijan Hold Me performed by Farid MammadovAzerbaijani Flag Map

Is he singing in English?  Oh, yeah, he is.  He mumbles a lot.  Oh cool!  It’s like his shadow there in the box.  WHOA!  That guy is upside-down!  Does that lady’s dress need to be so long?  Oh – the box is actually a money machine full of little paper hearts!  Whoops – Farid dropped that last note.  His vocals were about as expected – okay, whiny and a bit nasally, but that’s his voice. That guy in the box is much like the sand artist for the Ukraine from 2010, makes the stage show so unique, it’s hard not to like it.

Finnish Flag MapFinland Marry Me performed by Krista Siegfrids

She looks so much more mature with her hair down – I actually think that hinders the song a bit.  Well, this most definitely gets the “Campiest Act of the Year Award.”  Was that part supposed go like that – because on the studio version she says “Yeah” one more time and for a longer amount of time.  And the timing seems rather off for launching back into the chorus.  And I roll my eyes at the girl-girl kiss – really?  That just cheapens everything.  But it’s a cheap song, so perhaps it will work well for them.

Hahaha – yes Petra, folks just tuning in are probably freaking out if the first thing they saw was that Finnish act.  I really like this Lynda Woodruff character – she’s funny!  And I loved the reference to Bonnie Tyler.

Malta Tomorrow performed by GianlucaMaltese Flag Map

I bet Malta is happy they got an advert break between themselves and Finland – gives us time to readjust ourselves.  There was a lot of energy in those first few entries, and we have to recalibrate.  I like the words on the screen, it gives the act a sing-along feel; like, we’re all on that beach with him and his friends in the postcard.  That’s such a sweet song – the whole thing is rather adorable.  Still don’t think it has a shot of moving through, though.

Bulgarian Flag CountryBulgaria Samo Shampioni performed by Elista Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov

And Europe’s favorite Bulgarian percussion duo is back on the ESC stage.  The only act to get Bulgaria to the Grand Final (back in 2007, they got 5th place), they’re hoping for a repeat after Bulgaria’s participating broadcaster polled people and found that folks wanted a ethno-club track in Bulgarian for ESC.  That bagpiper is a bit creepy.  Glad to hear that Elitsa’s voice is much stronger (and more frequently on key) than in 2007.  The bagpiper seems to have evolved into some kind of creepy tribal man – how strange.  This whole package – the song, the performance – just…kinda…strange.

Iceland Ég á Líf performed by Eythor IngiIcelandic Flag Map

Not a strong start out of the gate.  That big note was amazing!!  It completely wipes out the fact that the rest of the song was performed marginally (as compared to the studio version).  There’s his backing singers!  All I can think about is that big note in the middle – and it was amazing!  Well done!

Greek Flag MapGreece Alcohol is Free performed by Koza Nostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis

Oh cool – their instruments light up!  The energy here is maybe not as high as Latvia or as manic as Finland, but it feels Oh! so much more genuine.  While those other two acts may be a bit more dazzling, this one infects you and wants to get you up and moving and dancing and singing.  I thoroughly enjoyed that!

Israel Rak Bishvilo performed by Moran MazorIsraeli Flag Country

Wow, listen to that crowd reaction!  What a shame, that would be such a nice dress if it didn’t go all the way down to her belly button (apparently, it originally went lower before they thought better of it).  So, she’s only 21, but the combination of hair, glasses, and dress makes her look like she’s in her 40s.  Which works for this song, since it has such a mature sound and would seem disingenuous if she appeared her age.  Oh, she hit the high note, but was smart enough to not linger on it as it was getting away from her.  AMAZING!  Her voice is so powerful, it’s awe-inspiring.

Armenian Flag MapArmenia Lonely Planet performed by The Dorians

His voice sounds like a gospel singer – it’s really soulful.  Too bad this song is trite and dull.  Oh, spoke a little too soon, he’s gone a bit screechy.  If we’re trying to save the world – why so many pyros?  All that smoke cannot be good for the ozone.  Ouch – he botched that last note.

Hungary Kedvesem performed by Bye.AlexHungariran Flag Map

Who knew Europe had hipsters?  I like this song and I like reprising the cartoon from the music video in the background.  That was rather pleasant.  Unfortunately for Hungary, pleasant does not go far at the ESC.

Norwegian Flag MapNorway Feed You My Love performed by Margaret Berger

Is it me, or does the timing seem off?  Like, Margaret Berger is just ahead of the beat and that the whole song is a few clicks faster than it should be.  It kinda feels like she’s phoning in this performance.  The one from Norsk Melodi Grand Prix was much more emphatic.  I know she’s a favorite to win – but we’ve seen favorites fall in the semi-final and after with great performances.  With a song that is this different and this out-of-the-ordinary, you cannot risk having a less than awesome performance.  I think she left herself vulnerable here.

Lys Assia!  Glad to see her out of the hospital and looking good (she was hospitalized last week for pneumonia – she said that she thought that she was dying).  We weren’t expecting to see her this year – but here she is!  Great to have you Ms. Assia!  I wish every winner was as endeared to the Contest as she is.

Albania Identitet performed by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar SejkoAlbanian flag country

Whoa!  We don’t need to be that close to Bledar!  The camera was, like, literally on his cheek!  Everyone seems to like this song so much – I think it’s because it’s the only rock song this year…and it has that killer guitar solo, but still.  It’s alright, but it could be better.

Georgian Flag MapGeorgia Waterfall performed by Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani

People compare this song to In a Moment Like This (Denmark 2010) and Running Scared (Azerbaijan 2011).  I don’t think it’s anything like 2011’s winning song; it’s much more powerful and emotive.  It is a lot like the Danish 2010 entry, though, “Eurovision by numbers” they say.  It worked then and I see no reason it won’t work now.

Ooh!  Sopho missed both big notes in that key change – badly!  Disappointing, but they’re going through.  This type of song is too popular and both Armenia and Azerbaijan are voting tonight.

Switzerland You and Me performed by TakasaSwiss Flag County

Another change from the studio version – the girl lead singer gets the second verse.  In case you were wondering, the bass player is 95 and is now the oldest person to ever compete in the Contest.  I don’t know.  I love this song, but it is definitely lacking energy – it just is not very dynamic tonight.  Disappointing.

I find it interesting that calling themselves “Salvation Army” and wearing their uniforms was too political and religious, but Krista Siegfrids can kiss a girl in protest on the stage (something that Russia was forbidden from doing in 2003) and use her song for political activism….interesting…

Romanian Flag MapRomania It’s My Life performed by Cezar

WHAT IS HE WEARING?!?!  What is up with the awful outfits this year?!  Are those dancers naked?  Why are they red, like, they’re covered in blood or something?  Oh, time for “Spot the Backing Singer!”  Oh look, a lady covered in gold.  Oh my gosh!  He’s so tall!  Wait, I think he’s on stilts.

Oh!  Thanks Petra – I guess the backing singer was under Cezar’s vampire cloak.

And, there you have it!  In an hour’s time, we will have the last ten songs to enter the Final.

Any else reminded of Jedward by the Latvian duo?  They jump around, where a small country’s worth of sparkles, and sing off key.

Overall, I am somewhat disappointed.  This was supposed to be the stronger of the two semi-finals, with three favorites (Norway, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), a major fan favorite (San Marino), and a bunch of my personal favorite entries (Macedonia, Switzerland, etc.) but everyone seemed to be under-performing except for Azerbaijan, Greece, and Israel – I hope all three move through!

My Top Ten Who I Think Will Qualify
Israel Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan Greece
Greece Israel
Malta Norway
San Marino Albania
Hungary Georgia
Latvia Armenia
Switzerland Iceland
Norway Malta
Iceland San Marino

Excuse me, I stand corrected, Moran Mazor is actually 22.

I love the history bits!

Haha San Marino!  I noticed that this time they used the faster part of the song as opposed to the slower half in the second recap (in the first recap, the slower half was used).  I guess if people only remembered half of it, they wanted to make sure that they remembered to vote for them!

Interval Act:

Darin!  A major Swedish pop star and Melodifestivalen loser (he got 4th in 2010).  He’s attractive but his voice is not that good.  But he’s a pop start, so I guess that’s a winning combination.

And now we have Agnes.  Who has not competed in Melodifestivalen (yet) but did win the second season of Swedish Idol (Darin was runner-up the preceding season).  I liked her bit better than Darin’s songs, but I am not about to run out and buy either of their albums.

Why isn’t Amadine Bourgeious not in the arena for this semi-final?

The Actual Qualifiers Are:

-Hungary!  Whoa!!  That was not expected! (0 for 1)

-Azerbaijan – no surprise here (1 for 2)

-Georgia – they need to step up their game if they hope to contend for the victory (2 for 3)

-Romania – What…the…Heck!  How did this happen? (2 for 4)

-Norway – I was getting scared after Romania got through…Oh, I hopw San Marino makes it!! (3 for 5)

-Iceland – yay! (4 for 6)

-Armenia – it’s a weak song, but well performed (5 for 7)

-Finland – big reaction!  I wonder if it will be as popular on Saturday (6 for 8)

-Malta – nice, but now a more deserving entry (San Marino or Israel) will not make it (7 for 9)

-Greece – right, I forgot they hadn’t moved through yet (8 for 10)

Final Thoughts:

What just happened?  I like Kedvesem but it did not deserve to go through.  Romania…what?!…how?  I’m so confused!!!  How on earth did he garner enough points to move through?  How did Israel and San Marino fail to garner enough points to progress?  What?!  My head hurts.  I can’t think about what just happened.  San Marino had so much fan support.  Israel was such a high quality entry – what?  Romania?  What? How?  I give up.  Let’s just look at the running order:

Break down of who landed where

The three unlucky entrants that will be in the first half on Saturday: Finland, Malta, and Armenia

All others are in the second half.

They just released the running order (remember, I’m watching the semi-final in the evening (American East Coast time) since I work during the day)

  1. France
  2. Lithuania
  3. Moldova
  4. Finland
  5. Spain
  6. Belgium
  7. Estonia
  8. Belarus
  9. Malta
  10. Russia
  11. Germany
  12. Armenia
  13. The Netherlands
  14. Romania
  15. United Kingdom
  16. Sweden
  17. Hungary
  18. Denmark
  19. Iceland
  20. Azerbaijan
  21. Greece
  22. Ukraine
  23. Italy
  24. Norway
  25. Georgia
  26. Ireland

France gets to open the show – and interesting choice when Spain or Malta might have been provided an easier, smoother opening.

Lithuania gets the kiss of death with the second spot – not that it had much chance to win, anyway.

Finland is sandwiched between two ballads, which will either smother it or boost its ratings, I’m not sure.

The Netherlands once again finds itself at the end of the first half, sandwiched between two very different songs, Armenia (which will probably a slightly smoother transition than Ukraine) and before Romania (which will probably wipe out the Netherlands from people memories with its craziness).

The United Kingdom is much higher in the running order than expected, given the name recognition of Bonnie Tyler (compared to Anouk, who is always as late in the running order as possible, most likely due to her celebrity).

Interestingly enough, with the producer chosen running order, all the favorites are at the end of the show:

18. Denmark

20. Azerbaijan

22. Ukraine

23. Italy

24. Norway

25. Georgia

This has never happened before, where so many betting favorites are lumped together and with prime running order position.  Russia is the only favorite not in that run because it was drawn in the top half of the show.  I’m interested to see how this affects the show, I imagine that it will lead to a more even point spread.  Since many favorites tend to be knocked out by running order position (think Russia last year or Azerbaijan in 2010) points were easily pooled into one or two acts.  This year, the favorites are all together at the end of the show, they will all be vying for points against one another – I think my prediction of a tie just might come to fruition!

Finally, Ireland closes the show.  In my opinion, this song should not even be in the Final, now it will most likely finish in the Top Ten.  Oh well, at least it’s not a bad song.

I think I’ve recovered from Romania’s qualification, but, yikes! it was still so unexpected.  I guess its 100% qualification record survives another year.  Okay, so, we can all take Friday to recover, reflect on what has happened on Tuesday and Thursday, and prepare for the Grand Final – I’ll see y’all here Saturday!  I’m posting my live notes live this year!  So don’t miss out!