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:
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!
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!
Latvia 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 Monetta
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.
Macedonia 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 Mammadov
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.
Finland 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 Gianluca
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.
Bulgaria 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 Ingi
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!
Greece 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 Mazor
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.
Armenia 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.Alex
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.
Norway 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 Sejko
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.
Georgia 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 Takasa
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…
Romania 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|
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!
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)
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)
- The Netherlands
- United Kingdom
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:
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!
It’s that time of year again – when Europe comes together to choose one song to rule them all over the next year. For the 58th time, the Continent is unifying in this way to select the 61st winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest (remember, 1969 had four winners). The first stage in this process is the semi-final round in which 33 songs enter, but only 20 will advance to the Grand Final. Tonight in the First Semi-Final, 16 entries battle for ten available spots. Tonight we will the big favorite (Denmark), one of the biggest names competing this year (the Netherlands), an American (Slovenia), an American-born singer (Austria), the first jESC participant to be a lead singer (Serbia), and two The Voice champions (Belgium and Russia). As I have done the past five years, I will be taking notes as I watch the show for the first time and will post them (after some light editing for fixing abbreviations and typos). Given that I live in the US and have a full time job, I cannot post notes live during the semi-finals because I will not be watching them until evening my time.
This is the tenth year of the televised semi-final (but only the fifth year of the dual semi-finals). That sets this year up to be historic – some things I expect to happen this year that we haven’t seen in quite a while (or ever):
1. The Netherlands will qualify for the Grand Final (for the first time since 2004). It’s been ten years – they have to! The Netherlands have sent some of its biggest stars in the past (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), but never one quite as big as Anouk. And, this is the best song that the country has sent in a while. It’s not too often that history is on the Netherlands’ side.
2. Montenegro will also qualify – probably the most popular Montenegrin entry to date and already one of the most commercially successful entries this year, Igranka.
3. Romania will fail to qualify – something that has never happened before. Again, the law of averages says it must happen eventually and this year seems like as good a time as any for it to come to pass.
4. We will see a tie (or at least a really, really close result) in the Grand Final. It only took until the 14th Contest for the first tie to occur (1969), then, 22 years passed before the next one (1991). It has now been 22 years since the last tie, and I think we’re due for one! I just hope they have an interesting and suspenseful way of going through the tie-break procedure (as opposed to just having the computer do it automatically).
As a reminder, I predicted that these songs would move through based on fan chatter, betting odds, history, and personal opinion:
I will make my final predictions during the interval act. Onward!!
I like this opening video – Malta to Germany to Greece to France to Russia to Ireland to Macedonia to Israel – I love how Euphoria seems to have swept over all of ESC-land. And now all these beautiful flag-butterflies arrive in Malmo. I’m loving this children’s choir!
This is great!! I love this re-interpreted version of the song. I love that everyone is signing (though, it’s always fun to be reminded that sign language changes across country boundaries). I love that Loreen disappeared into the crowd and that the host just came out of the stage. I wonder if that will be the last we see of Loreen, probably. 😦
The host: For the first time since the mid-90s, we will have only one host to guide us – and she’ll be doing that with her loud, British accent and bright, shiny dress!
The stage looks cool, but a little dated. Like, this almost looks like a Contest from the early nineties.
On to the entries!!
Love the postcard idea – show the artist in their home country with a flag butterfly floating around!! Yay!
Austria Shine performed by Nataliá Kelly
Where did all this vibrato come from? Every note warbles. Uh oh, that big note was not nearly big enough. Sorry Nataliá, I just don’t think that was enough to get you through (especially since they got rid of the sparkle shower that she had in the national selection).
Estonia Et Uus Saaks Alguse performed by Birgit Õigemeel
So, Birgit Õigemeel is pregnant! Ooh, black and white! As if to say, “we don’t think our song is quite dull and dated enough.” Oh, here comes the color! That was a pleasant effect; so is having her out on the satellite stage with the backing singer just over her shoulder. The addition of that big note was nice; it definitely gave this song a bit more oomph! Still don’t think it was enough to qualify, but I don’t think it will be last.
Slovenia Straight Into Love performed by Hannah
I don’t know how I feel about them using that beat between each entry. Ooh!! She keeps missing those big notes in the refrain. Her dances trot the line between entertaining and distracting. Well hid backing singers – I almost lost that round of “Spot the Backing Singer” (they’re behind the stage right butterfly wing). I love this song – but that performance was a mess! This will probably be last.
Croatia Mižerija performed by Klapa s More
I love how big their voices are! That was quite pleasant! I still think Estonia is the best thus far, but this is quite good; a close second!
Denmark Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forest
I recognize some of those places in the postcard!!
The crowd reaction is huge!! And it hasn’t even started yet.
Why are the backing singers up so loud? This performance is exactly like it was at DMGP – whoops, spoke too soon, there’s confetti here. This was good, and since she’s the heavy favorite, she’ll sail through tonight, but she’ll have to step up her game on Saturday if she hopes to win. But that ending (and the whole thing, actually) looked and felt a lot like a winner’s reprise, which I am sure was on purpose.
I liked the tagline bit, particularly the “Don’t complain, it’s even more expensive in Norway.”
Russia What If? performed by Dina Garipova
Ahh! The beat is annoying, I keep expecting Euphoria to start.
Time for another round of “Spot the Backing Singers!” Nevermind, there they are. Ooh, she botched some notes there. This is a revamp from the studio version where she sings mostly on her own. The choral effect is really effective!! It actually makes me like this song and the lights throughout the auditorium are lovely! I know I’ve written off Russia previously, but that was really good and reestablishes this entry as a legitimate contender in my book.
Ukraine Gravity performed by Zlata Ognevich
What was the point of having that tall guy carry her out? It’s distracting, from his presence to his outfit – just dumb. It already seems like a much more tacky staging after the beautiful one we just saw from Russia. I like the backing singers coming out of the ground. She has a beautiful voice and she is dressed splendidly…but…this is still a weak song in my book, musically and lyrically. Coming into tonight, I thought this was the most overrated entry, seeing it here has done nothing to change that opinion. It will most definitely open the Grand Final if it is drawn in the first half, of that I am sure.
The Netherlands Birds performed by Anouk
Ooh, I can’t wait to hear this!!
Hmmm…her voice seems a bit off, like, just below where it is supposed to be. Don’t know if we needed to see the backing singers there. I still think this is the classiest song in the competition this year; and the staging fits it perfectly. Not sure if it will go through (despite my immense enthusiasm for this song).
Montenegro Igranka performed by Who See
This is madness!! I’m a little dizzy for watching this. Props to the cameramen and directors, they are doing an excellent job capturing the craziness of this song and performance. Interesting choice to have her sing without backing singers – I think it added to the “lost in space” vibe. I think this one will be close.
Lithuania Something performed by Andrius Pojavis
I think they need a dancer here, just a one woman dancing around Andrius on stage. This song still does nothing for me. I do not see it doing anything.
Belarus Solayoh performed by Alyona Lanskaya
Did she seriously just emerge from a giant disco ball? Is she out of breath? I can barely hear her. And when I do, it sounds more like she’s shouting than singing. Ooh, she botched those big notes there. Nice pyrotechnics. When this song was chosen, there were a lot of high hopes and expectations for it, I think those are completely gone now; Belarus will be lucky just to qualify.
Moldova O Mie performed by Aliona Moon
Aliona Moon, I think because of how red her hair is, always looks like a character from the Final Fantasy series to me. What’s up with her hair? It’s like something from The Flintstones or The Jetsons; why isn’t jetting out to the side like in the national final? I hope you’re paying attention, Slovenia, that’s how you use three male dancers. Amazing vocals! Amazing song! Amazing staging (love the dress and the riser)! Why is this song not getting more respect?! Most definitely the dark horse this year; expect Moldova to finish Top Ten on Saturday.
Ireland Only Love Survives performed by Ryan Dolan
Ooh, shirtless men! Oh, just when I was going to say that his vocal performance was better than anticipated, he botches that huge note at the beginning of the chorus. His voice is a bit whiny. I don’t know, I’m on the fence. This one might sneak through, but I think that Estonia might take its spot in the Final.
Love the feature on Australia! Fun how the first Contest broadcasted there was when Sweden gained victory number two!
Cyprus An Me Themase performed by Despina Olympiou
I love the staging of the opening, well done! She missed that big note going into the last run through of the chorus and again on that second to last note. Otherwise, this was an amazing performance. I always appreciate it when a performer goes out on stage with a nice, tasteful, simple performance by themselves. Well done, well done!
Belgium Love Kills performed by Roberto Bellarosa
Perhaps Belgium could have loaned one of its dancers to Lithuania, as, together, they’re a little creepy. This is going to sound meaner than it is supposed to, but Roberto Bellarosa looks like a robot. He’s showing zero emotion – is that intentional? This was better than expected, but I still don’t think that it will do anything.
Serbia Ljubav je Svuda performed by Moje 3
WHAT. ARE. THEY. WEARING?!?!?!?! If I didn’t already know the lyrics, I would think this is a song about two lesbians fighting over a girl. It was smart to have the backing singers so that the main three could act out the song, but again, there was something lost – that was…not good.
|My Top Ten for the night||Who I Think Will Qualify|
I find it interesting that Montenegro chose to use just the part of Nina singing as the recap clip.
Also, I find it interesting that they are not showing the numbers throughout the entire voting sequence.
I love the history clips though!! Yay for cherishing history!
Hmm…we seem to have a bunch of people dancing in the snow to a deconstructed version of Euphoria.
I don’t get modern dance.
They should have just made the entire interval act Lynda Woodruff – that segment was awesome!
Boo Sweden, boo! Why are you showing us the postcards for the automatic qualifiers? Though, I do love that Natalie Horner (lead singer of Germany’s Cascada) is wearing an American flag t-shirt.
Who Actually Qualified
Here we go! Moment of truth!
Moldova Good stuff! (1 for 1)
Lithuania What?!?!?!?!?! I guess Belgium is not moving through (1 for 2)
Ireland No real surprise there (2 for 3)
Estonia She had enough tonight to pull it through! (3 for 4)
Belarus Hmm….interesting….that performance was a hot mess! Guess Croatia is not moving through (3 for 5)
Denmark Well, duh! (4 for 6)
Russia Again, not surprise here, she was great tonight! (5 for 7)
Belgium Interesting. Didn’t think Belgium and Lithuania would both go through, guess Montenegro will not be moving through (6 for 8)
Ukraine No surprise here (7 for 9)
The Netherlands oohh, why did they have to pause for so long? That was almost too much anticipation for me to bear! (8 for 10)
That was a very satisfying semi-final. Three surprises.
Small Surprise: Estonia performed well enough to make a lasting impression.
Medium Surprise: So did Belgium.
Big Surprise: Lithuania is going to be performing again on Saturday night. Shocking!
In the end, I am satisfied with the songs that are moving through. I love Slovenia, but Hannah sounded awful tonight. I also loved Cyprus, but no one expected that song to get to the Final. I am so happy that the Netherlands have made it back to the Final, finally, after waiting so long (in case you did not know, the last time the Netherlands qualified for a Final was 2004, the first year with a televised semi-final). I’m a little disappointed that Croatia did not progress, but, again, not too surprising given that it was buried amongst a lot of popular female ballads.
In the end, the juries and the public made the best decisions. An interesting note about the draws that happened during the press conference, with the exception of Denmark, Ukraine, and Ireland, all the songs were drawn for the first half of the show. That means several things:
1. Estonia will probably end up being second in the running order again.
2. The Netherlands have most likely lost its shot of winning
3. Denmark’s chances have exponentially increased as it will most likely be placed towards the end of the running order (since it’s so popular) giving it amble opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
I’m so excited for Thursday!!
It’s that time of year again! I open up my ESC coverage with live notes for the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix! This year, DMGP takes us to Herning and gives us three lovely lady-hosts (currently in catsuits). From my understanding, there are three big favorites this year. Simone, who returns to DMGP with the song Stay Awake and won the DR internet poll, leads the way. Emmelie de Forest with Only Teardrops is ahead on the international opinion polls. And Mohammed Ali, who achieved third place on the Danish iteration of X-Factor despite having Egyptian and Iraqi roots, with the song Unbreakable was announced as the big favorite during the DMGP pre-show. A noticeable absence from the list, Danish representative from ESC2009 – Brinck, who performed Believe Again in Moscow for a respectable 13th place, who will be singing a song that he penned himself called Human.
Let’s see who wins!
As a reminder, the Danes have a one night national final format that they have been using since 2009 and amended last year. Producers and executives at DR choose ten songs, six that were submitted and four “wildcards” late in the preceding year. Those ten songs then compete in DMGP in three rounds. In the first round, the songs are given a number (that stays with them) and perform in numerical order. Then, using a combination of jury votes and popular votes (via SMS texts), three songs are selected to move through to the Super Final were they are performed again, this time, for al the marbles. This is new since last year, when a song had to be removed at the last minute, DR decided to throw out the Knock-Out Round and have the top three from the first round go straight to the Super Final. This year, the points will work a little differently. There will be a total of 60 points available, 30 from the jury, 30 from the Danish public. The jury reveals their votes one at a time; each juror gives the three acts either 1, 2, or 3 points. The votes of the public are then revealed; their set of 30 points is divided proportionally to reflect the voting. And a winner is crowned!
The Round of Ten
Song 1. Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det performed by Frederikke Vedel
The title translates to “I always knew it” and is one of only two songs in Danish this year (the other being Song 4 Rejs dig op performed by Louise Dubiel). What an awesome start to the show!! I really like this song and the staging was very well done! But fear that it did not make a big enough impact to stay in folks’ minds all the way through to the end of the tenth song. Though, there’s usually one token Danish-language song in the next round, it will depend on Louise Dubiel’s performance if Vedel moves through to the next round or not.
Song 2. Human performed by Brinck
Brinck, as I said above, represented Denmark in Moscow back in 2009. He’s ready to try again with a song he wrote himself. I’m a little confused. Is he singing in English and just mumbling? Or is this a song in Danish with a few English lyrics? Why does he sound so scared? Is he still so scarred from his experience in 2009? In DGMP2009 he had a strong performances, as well as in the semi-final in Russia. It was the during the Grand Final that he started singing like he was scared, and apparently, he’s still scared. He seems small on the big stage and his voice is lost in the music and backing singers. It’s pleasant, but does not stand a chance of moving to the next round.
Song 3. I’m Not Alone performed by Kate Hall
Kate Hall is one of Denmark’s bigger pop stars and has some recognition internationally in Northern and Central Europe. This song is nice, but very generic. While the Danes do seem to like generic songs (see: any DMGP ever) I don’t see this one moving through unless the remaining songs are as uninspired as this one. Not to mention, the Danes tend to be easily swayed by stage shows, and Hall botched a major note there.
Now, a short trip to Denmark’s ESC-ally as of late, Ireland. With a cameo by the one and only Mr. Johnny Logan (if you’re new to ESC, Johnny Logan is the only performing artist to win twice, 1980 with What’s Another Year? and 1987 with Hold Me Now, both for Ireland, both are considered ESC classics. He also wrote the 1992 Irish winner Why Me? performed by Linda Martin).
Now back to the show!
Song 4. Rejs dig op performed by Louise Dubiel
The song title translates to “Stand Up.” This is a pleasant enough song and has all the making a dark horse – nice stage show, catchy tune, quirky singer, and a bit nationalistic. I think this song might surprise a lot of folks (particularly Frederikke Vagel).
Song 5. We Own the Universe performed by Daze
Oh. My. Goodness! What is up with her hair?! I like the use of the lights like a keyboard. The song is catchy and I can see it doing some real damage to the scoreboard. This is the first song I would confidently say could move through to the next round.
Song 6. Stay Awake performed by Simone
I see why this is a favorite, but I do not say it was the strongest tonight, perhaps she’s saving herself for the Super-Final (she was eliminated in 2010 in the now defunct knock-out round after a stunning first round performance)? This is a high energy song with a bright stage show, and Simone was just kinda, neutral. I think it will move through due to its popularity and mass appeal, but she has to turn it up a few notches in the next performance.
The tour of countries with more wins than Denmark continues with…the United Kingdom. We talk with two of the members of Brotherhood of Man, the third winner from the UK back in 1976 with Save Your Kisses for Me, one of the most commercially successful ESC winners ever.
Song 7. Invincible performed by Jack Rowan feat. Sam Gray
A cute guy, a hot beat, a dj (which is a gimmick in and of itself) with a gimmick (that ugly mask), a simple song with a refrain that even the most English-phobic Dane could sing along to – a recipe for success? Not quite. The Danes are rather nationalistic. Having foreign songwriters don’t lower an entries chances as I doubt many viewers will realize this. But a foreign singer? Oh no! Americans have failed at DMGP. Icelanders have failed at DMGP. I cannot imagine a Brit faring much better. Eurovision.tv seemed to favor this song in its coverage of Denmark until recently when it began to focus on the next entry…
Song 8. Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest
Irish whistle! That’s why the international crowd likes this song. This is my favorite, by far, thus far! I can imagine this song being widely popular in Malmö, though naysayers might say Forrest’s voice is too similar to Loreen’s. This song has good lyrics, a simple stage show (which, admittedly, would need to be enhanced on the international stage), and a slightly Celtic feel – I predict this to move to the Super Final and do very well
Song 9. Beautiful to Me performed by Albi
Hmm…another generic song in my opinion. Not bad, just not great.
Song 10. Unbreakable performed by Mohammed Ali
How old is Ali, 12? I see why he did not win X-Factor, his voice is not very good (at least, not tonight). Perhaps the studio version of this song is why it’s so popular. Oh wait, look at this staging – cool LED work, the lights go out, choreography, flames! Almost distracts enough to look past Ali’s horri- crazy face paint on a dancer!! What?! No! The song’s over. I remember the beat….and a young looking guy…and cool staging! Wasn’t I saying something negative about this song? But listen to the crowd reaction, it must be good.
So, my favorite part: the recap! I love how the crowd is going crazy for every song (except for the first one). Time for rankings and predictions!
|My Top Three||Who I think will compete in the Super Final|
|(Song 8) Only Teardrops||Song 6. Stay Awake|
|(Song 6) Stay Awake||Song 8. Only Teardrops|
|(Song 1) Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det||Song 10. Unbreakable|
In the end, the three favorites I mentioned at the beginning had strong enough performances to move through.
Soluna Samay! Lookee – she’s all grown up. Glad she ditched the awful dreads from last year. I like this song and its staging, she should hav re-entered DMGP with this!
Our fair hostess’ travels now takes her to the most recent country to join the Five Winners’ Club and close Danish ally – Sweden. Eww…the Herrey’s – Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley (the winner from 1984) is, in my opinion, one of the worst songs to win the Contest.
Now the promotion of junior Melodi Grand Prix. I’m still not quite convinced it’s worth my time to watch Scandinavian fight it out on stage, especially since the three countries all submit multiple entries. But it is a widely successful show and served as the basis for jESC.
Now, revealing the four songs to move through to the Super Final
Song 6. Stay Awake performed by Simone – of course! Let’s see if she turns it up in the next round. Her opponent will be…
Song 8. Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest. Yayayayayay! My favorite song this year!
Song 10. Unbreakable performed by Mohammed Ali. The only surprise here: that a Muslim can be popular in Denmark. Good for him!
Song 6. Stay Awake performed by Simone
So, this song is definitely sexier and edgier than How Will I Know. And ends much more awkwardly, I wonder if the song is actually longer and had to be shortened. This was definitely a better performance than in round one, but I don’t know if it was enough to win. She just doesn’t really have a strong enough voice for this kind of song.
Song 8. Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest
Let’s see if Forrest can replicate (or even outdo) her first performance. I wonder if the older Danes will think she’s too young…never mind, I’m reminded of my earlier comment regarding the popularity of Junior Melodi Grand Prix in the country. Listen to that crowd reaction! Folks were up and dancing! I think we just saw a winning performance everyone.
Song 10. Unbreakable performed by Mohammed Ali
He’s almost guaranteed to carry the votes of the Denmark’s Muslim population. Not just due to his heritage, but because of the nature of his song. Denmark is an incredibly homogenous society (everyone looks the same and holds similar beliefs) and people of Eastern European and Arab descent who immigrate there often find themselves the victims of bullying and discrimination. With that said, there are not enough immigrants, I think, to help him win. I smell another third place finish for Mr. Ali. Though, I will admit, his voice sounded much better this time around.
Oooh! Brotherhood of Man is performing!! I really do like this song a lot! Wow – they look so different now, but still good for the age. Now the Herreys, doing a lot o the original choreography from their winning performance – still don’t like the Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, but at least they sound good – better than they did back in the 80s. Johnny Logan!!! Performing Hold Me Now – good stuff! I love the ode to Eurovision history, Denmark! Three of the most popular winners of all time (The Herreys are generally disliked except for in Scandinavia – Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, where they and their song are incredibly popular) all on one stage. Lovely!
Now the jury votes –
Only Teardrops is the favorite of the jury receiving three “3 points” from the five jurors (two gave the song only 1 point). Unbreakable leaves the jury round tied for first after receiving two 2 points and two 3 points.
Now the popular vote –
1. Only Teardrops – 26 points (11 from the jury, 15 from the public)
2. Unbreakable – 19 points (11 from the jury, 8 from the public)
3. Stay Awake – 15 points (8 from the jury, 7 from the public)
And, for the first time since 2008, there’s a Winner’s Reprise – lovely!!
For the first time since I have been watching DMGP (since 2007), I can honestly say that I liked all 10 songs that competed. Don’t get me wrong, Human, Invincible, and Beautiful to Me aren’t great, but, in the end, I did like them. And, for the first time since I’ve been watching DMGP, I fully, 100% agree with the winner. It’s about time, too!! Only Teardrops is the quintessential ESC song of the current era – young performer, hip beat, nice lyrics, lots of potential in its staging.
From here, as Emmelie de Forrest continues to perfect her vocal performance of the song, her producers have to make a decision about the staging of Only Teardrops. What they had on stage tonight was nice for DMGP, but would be too underwhelming on the ESC stage. If they want a toned down, simple staging, they need to tone down the LED work and give her a bit more room on stage so it seems less crowded. On the other hand, I think this song, especially given its arrangement and the existing camera-angles, would benefit from a bit of a bigger staging, with more movement from the backing singers and dancers to and more sophisticated light work to maximize the camera angles that are already in place (as those are already pretty well done).
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed DMGP this year. I thought the three Super-Finalists were well deserved and that the best song did, indeed, win this year. Congratulations to Emmelie de Forrest and the entire stage and songwriter team. I look forward to seeing Denmark return to the Top Ten with this sure hit in Malmö.
In honor of the tenth Junior Eurovision Song Contest (and the fact that I do not have anything better to do); I’ve decided to watch and liveblog the jESC this year. For the first time, I won’t know the winner while watching the jESC – which is a good thing, as the voting is always rather tight! If you are looking for my first post for the upcoming ESC2013 – Malmö, you can find it here.
I like the focus on the contestants leading up to the show. I like the opening act. The tune is vaguely familiar, but I can’t place it. Oh!! It’s Euphoria! Definitely has to be one of the most popular winners of the Contest. Oh look, some random Dutch singer* singing the song. What’s up Netherlands? Couldn’t get the rights to perform Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie)?
*After further reflection, I realize it’s the Dutch representative from last year, Rachel!
Look at that dress on the host! I cannot quite decide if it’s crazy awesome or merely just crazy. The male host’s suit, though, is much too loud. And why is his shirt unbuttoned so low?
Belarus! A More – Egor Zheshko
Interesting. One thing I always like about the jESC is that a lot of songs tend to have a retro feel to them. This song is okay, but not my favorite – mostly due to Zhesko’s nasally voice. But it’s Belarus and jESC is their wheelhouse. I expect this to do well.
Sweden! Mitt Mod – Lova Sönnerbo
Sweden, interestingly enough, tends to send slower songs to jESC. Normally I like their entries, but I think Sönnerbo is suffering from stage fright, as her voice is way off! And the way they chose to end the song did not help things. I’m thinking this will be last.
Azerbaijan! Girls & Boys – Omar & Suada
Azerbaijan’s debut entry and the first time we get to here Azerbaijani on any ESC stage! Please note, that even though the performers are supposed to at least co-write their entries, neither singer is listed as a writer or composer. Despite this fact, the song is very childish – it’s things like this that kept me from watching (and continue to keep me from watching) the first five editions; it’s just kid bop stuff.
Belgium! Abracadara – Fabian
Yay – magic tricks! This is probably the best set of performers we’ve seen thus far, but the song still leaves me fairly lukewarm.
Russia! Sensation – Lerika
Russia always has a good entry! And this year is not disappointing. What a performer! I really like this song – the performance, the lyrics, the music. Good stuff! This song could even be competitive at the real ESC.
That girl is dancing all over Amsterdam…and with that giant sledgehammer – she must be getting tired!
Israel! Let the Music Win – Kids.il
The English translation of these lyrics are not on the site, but, given the title, I can pretty much assume what they’re saying. Opera! That was not at all what I expected when I saw that boy come forward. I can imagine this winning, but it will either do really well, or really bad, I think.
We’re already halfway through the acts and we’ve only been going for about a half-hour – way to keep things moving Netherlands! Dutch host guy – don’t ask the girl about eating moose right after she told you it is her mascot, that’s just poor form! I like how he doesn’t actually know the kids’ names, so he just refers to them as Ms. Sweden and Mr. Azerbaijan.
Albania! Kam Një Këhgë Vetëm Për Ju – Igzidora Gjeta
Our third debut entry comes from Albania. Apparently, it’s the country’s centennial and this song signifies that. What’s up with Gjeta’s hair? The song is not bad, not my favorite, but I like it. And I commend her bravery for coming out and performing by herself.
Armenia! Sweetie Baby – Compass Band
Another throwback entry – this time in the style of 60s rock (are they trying to look like the Beatles?). I’m pretty sure that bass is bigger than that kid playing it. I really like this song, I didn’t think I was going to, but I really like it. Oh, lookie, English that last time through the chorus. I think they are new frontrunners (though Russia is not out of it).
Ukraine! Nebo – Anastasiya Petryk
The Ukraine is trying to recover from a string of disappointing finishes in the past few jESCs. Petryk is only 10 years old, but she has a much bigger voice! This song makes me think of the 90s when rock-muzak was popular. I like it. Petryk is turning out a very strong performance; I think this an entry that would be competitive in the real ESC. Though, I’m not sure how it will do tonight.
Georgia! Funky Lemonade – The Funkids
Georgia attempts to defend their crown and break their tie with Belarus for most jESC wins. So, another fun feature of jESC is that experimental pop is also rather popular and no one does it better than Georgia, which always sends an entry that is wholly unique. So, this song mixes Georgian, English, and gibberish – fun. I don’t know if Georgia has ever submitted a song that was entirely in Georgian…or normal. Either way, I really liked it, but do not think it was enough to win a third time.
Moldova! Toate Vor Fi – Denis Midone
His intro clip was full of confidence, his performance, full of nerves. Did he just start a new song? Meh, I am not impressed.
The Netherlands! Tik Tak Tik – Femke
The Netherlands is always good for a solidly retro song every other year. This is their attempt to defend their home turf and become the third country to win twice within the short history of the jESC. This would have a better chance of doing well if she didn’t hit those bad notes towards the end of the song. This most definitely will not win, but the host country bump, performing last, and the pyrotechnics will definitely get her in the top half of the scoreboard.
How are they doing a recap without opening the voting? Also, I had some technical difficulties – was Belarus left out of the recap? By the time the site self-corrected, they were on Sweden.
My Top Twelve (might as well rank them all)
How I think the final votes will go
5. The Netherlands
6. The Netherlands
This was very difficult, as I think Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, and Georgia really separated themselves from the pack with vastly superior songs and performances. I would be shocked if any other entry made it into the Top Four.
So, just like in 2008, the last time all the entrants performed together – everyone is singing without microphones. Wouldn’t it just be easier to shoot a music video with all of them – same result (using the studio version, ensuring that everything goes smoothly) without insulting the viewers.
Wait, when was voting opened? There’s not countdown clock so we know how much time is left in voting! And the male host is causing more awkward moments by trying to get the Belgian boy (note: he’s Flemish, so his language is essentially a more guttural Dutch) and the Dutch girl to hook up. Is this how foreign journalists get their stories, they make them happen? What was the point of the host talking to the Israel boy, just so he could say “Fine, fine?”
That final countdown was definitely shorter than ten seconds!
Oh – it’s always fun to see how the jESC contestants grow up. Wow!! He looks so differet – a lot can change two years (he won in 2009, but we saw him again in 2010 when Belarus had all the previous winners together for the Interval Act). This is crazy!! It’s like he’s a totally different person – which I guess is what he was going for.
The whole “everyone gets 12 points” thing is nice – I like how they did it last year, where it was as if Australia gave 12 points to everyone.
Hmmm…so this is how they’re working in the jury votes. I guess it makes sense, since they were able to vote for everyone and there are only a few countries competing. Hmm…Georgia jumps out to an early lead. Albania and Moldova start off with nothing.
The official theme song. Is it me, or does this, the song that Ralf Mackenbach performed, and the version of Euphoria from the Opening Act sound ridiculously similar to one another? Also, why wouldn’t they bring that girl from the postcards back for the performance of the theme song?
I like Sietse Bakker – I’ve always been a fan (if you wanna know about his rise to where he is now, and why he is a personal hero of mine, check out his Wikipedia page). But you can tell that he’s still getting used to being on screen – if the results don’t matter, what’s the point of the show?
Voting: So, essentially, everyone will give points to all but one of the other competitors.
Belarus – people are not happy with the small points to the Netherlands, no surprise with the 12 to Ukraine.
Sweden – (so I see we’re going in performance order for the voting) I imagine this will be a long night for Albania – too bad they didn’t debut last year when Macedonia and Bulgaria were still competing.
Azerbaijan – isn’t that the girl who had that amazing song for Georgia a few years back? She’s surely taking her sweet time, though. I guess we knew that Armenia was not getting any points, but who would have guessed 12 for Albania?
Belgium – Through 1/3 of the voting, I’m doing pretty well, three of my predicted Top Four is up there. The Netherlands is definitely doing better than expected.
Russia – So, this is going to be close, but it’s now a two-horse race between Ukraine and Georgia.
Israel – nix that, Ukraine is quickly ascending to the Winner’s Circle.
They need to lose this host! Why is taking the trophy around? This is so wrong!! He needs to be reprimanded! Poor Albania and Israel, the host did not even acknowledge them. The Ukraine is separated from the rest of the group at the midway checkpoint, is that simply because she has such a big lead?
Albania – and the technical difficulties continue to abound. Ha! And the signal is lost right as she was about to give the 12 points to someone. Ha! Who would think that Tirana wouldn’t have a strong internet connection…. Who would have guessed that Albania would blank Russia?
Armenia – Armenia returns the favor of zero points to Azerbaijan. Fun times. Ukraine breaks 100!
Ukraine – Time for Georgia to make up ground as the Ukrainians cannot vote for themselves. Whoops! Only seven – the Ukraine is in it to win it!
Georgia is behind by 14 points, mathematically, they can pull off a come-from-behind victory. So can Armenia (they’re down by 31 with three countries left to vote), but it’s not likely.
Moldova – whoops! there goes Armenia’s shot. Georgia has to hope for 12 and 0 to Ukraine. Whoops! only eight for Georgia. Ukraine now has an 18 point lead, looks like it’s a lock for Ukraine.
The Netherlands – five points to Georgia and they are mathematically eliminated (but hey, they broke 100). Congratulations to the Ukraine, you do not need points from the Netherlands or Georgia to win at this point. And the Ukraine just got another 12.
Georgia – wait, shouldn’t Candy be in Amsterdam to pass over the Winner’s trophy? This really is merely a formality at this point, though there’s a battle for third! Armenia gets third!
And the winner is….the Ukraine!
This is most definitely a well-deserved victory! Anastasiya Petryk has an amazing voice, the song is well-written, and the composition fits beautifully – all from a ten year old! Petryk not only performed on stage by herself but is also the only person listed as lyricist and composer. Well done; bravo!
As far as the final Scoreboard goes:
How I thought the final votes would go
6. The Netherlands
7. The Netherlands
Clearly, I am stunned that Sweden did so well despite the singer’s mousey performance. And, in case you’re wondering, the Netherlands was one point out of the top half on the final scoreboard. I am mildly shocked that, essentially, I inversely predicted Belgium and Belarus’ final positions.
And, the thing I was most sure about, the countries comprising the Top Four, came to fruition – with a full 16 points between fourth-place Russia and fifth-place Belgium. As I said before, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Russia set themselves apart from the rest and the clear divide in the voting backs this up.
Overall, I think the Dutch put on a good show, though, I did not like the male host at all. But it was definitely high quality by jESC standards. However, I think the qualities of entries was down. Hopefully, next year, the number of participating entries bounces back up. I think Western Europe has taken to heart the moderate success of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden of late. Not only that, I hope the participating countries send stronger entries next year. With that said, I still found it to be entertaining and enjoyed watching the show. Next year in…..where ever they decide to hold it next year!