This year, since I cannot attend the events live, I am bringing back my live notes – written, running commentary throughout the show! Tonight, the first semi-final.
Wow, an interesting opening act. Rap music. I’m just happy they seem to be returning to the tradition of the reprise being at the start of the Grand Final.
What a beautiful stage!!
Yes, a “Euro-genius” is a great term for those of us who love and are knowledgeable about the Contest.
So, the postcards are a mix of prep and home life for the artists. Cool.
01 SwedenI Can’t Go On
Again, I don’t much care for this song. The staging is identical as Melodifestivalen‘s, per usual. He sounds fine. Why are none of them wearing socks? Pretty much exactly as expected.
02 GeorgiaKeep the Faith
The staging is pretty dark for a song about hope and faith. Oh! There go the lights. A little off with the pitch there. Love her dress. Hmmm….where are those backing singers hiding? Yay – fire! This performance did not reach the level of epicness that this song requires.
03 AustraliaDon’t Come Easy
Starting a bit shaky. Is it me or is he just under pitch? Not quite sure they went with a backing screen of infinite Isaiah’s. It doesn’t do the song justice. The backing track is too low. Yeah, he just botched the only big note he had, as the others seemed to have been removed. Underwhelming. Perhaps Australia will miss the Final this year.
Why so quiet? Not a great outfit; not terrible, just not good. Yay! Backing singers getting some time in the light! That’s how you do epic — she nailed her big notes and staging did not take away from the lyrics or composition.
05 BelgiumCity Lights
Love her dress and the staging choices thus far. The song has a since of isolation about it, which is well represented by the camera working emphasizing her being alone on such a big stage. She looks quite scared, though. But the fans seem to love her. I like the compositional change at the end here – the chord interval between her and the backing singer is really cool.
I expect there to be controversy around his song. Whoo! Look at those pants! His pitch seems a bit off. Unlike Australia, the use of his image on the backing scenes fits the song well. I wonder if the EBU limited what he could do. I expected there to be a lot more sexiness to his staging.
Two corrections for the green room host: 1) So, this is NOT Ukraine’s first ESC or even Kyiv’s. It’s the second time we are here in the capital – after they hosted the 50th edition in 2005. 2) Georgia debuted in 2007. Tamara was part of the group that was disqualified in 2009.
07 Finland Blackbird
Oh! Lights throughout the audience. So, they are recreating the UMK staging. Flawless performance. Perfect staging. Beautiful song.
08 Azerbaijan Skeletons
Love the use of the blackboard with the wordcloud of the lyrics. Horsehead guy….? And the pitch issues continue — or maybe it’s the mic effect they have her using? What is she wearing, by the way? What was the point of drawing xs on the singers’ backs? That was an…interesting staging, but not quite in the way I was hoping it to be.
09 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois
His voice sounds great! Good choice to use the satellite stage, too. I would have had a piano up there with him; but this was utterly flawless.
10 GreeceThis is Love
Some interesting chord choices for the refrain. Fun staging and backing screen. Demy: “This is love: two hot shirtless men dancing in water!” That was fun and accomplished what it set out to do. It is definitely moving forward.
Look at those heels! I like this song, but having her up so loud takes away some the mystery and intrigue of the song. She killed it though!
12 MoldovaHey, Mamma!
Surprisingly, one of the best dressed acts tonight. That was good. Fairly unremarkable – no “Epic Sax Guy” memes this year. That was fine. The song was the center of the show, which, I guess, is how it should be.
She’s got a huge boob window in the dress. No Illuminati earrings like in the video. I’m surprised they went with a white outfit, but I guess it’s the most drastic contrast they could go with between her and the background. And, I guess, most paper is white. She looks more like a superhero that just saved the day (perhaps Powergirl with a weave) than she does a woman broken by her love leaving her.
Epic Sac Guy playing his well-known riff.
14 CzechiaMy Turn
What is she wearing?! I like the walking path of light effect. This is not how I would have staged this entry — the song needed to do something to standout and they chose to try to do so through a hideous outfit. I do not think this will go well for Czechia.
More pitch problems. Hey! The backing dancers disappeared. Let me guess, they’re gonna come back while flying. Nope. Just reappeared. Wow – this staging is just one huge missed opportunity. There’s so much more they could have done.
16 ArmeniaFly with Me
Awww, no giant ring of hair. Cool camera effect of having it bounce around. Nice use of strobes and fire without letting them be overwhelming. Love the flying bird at the end; what a cool effect!
17 Slovenia On My Way
They really need to do everything they can to help this song standout. Let’s see… Why is his suit so sparkly? Pitch problems in the second refrain. So, that was probably the best they could do to stage it without things getting too overwhelming, but, still a bit boring and forgettable.
Her hair – why?!?! The backing screen is really cool. And I love the neon color scheme. I was hoping for some glow-in-the-dark effects… Nope. Those boots, though. That was much more tame of a staging than anticipated.
Why do they keep showing delegations from other countries after a performance?
My Favorite Ten from tonight
Who I think will be moving through (in no particular order)
Jamala! If they weren’t going to open with 1944, they needed to have just saved it for Saturday. I do like this version. But again, it should have been during the opening sequence on Saturday. Congrats to her on her marriage, though!
And – technical difficulties 😡😡😡
Oh! Jamala is back for the interval act! I thought they said she wouldn’t be here again until Saturday. I guess I misheard the hosts. Interesting outfits and backing screen choices. Cool song, though!
Automatic Qualifiers Previews
Spain – well, that performance sounds wholly uninspired
United Kingdom – love the infinite stars! Well staged, UK, well staged.
Italy – that was about as expected. It’s the big favorite for a reason.
Oooohhhh!!!!! Here we go!!!
Moldova – no surprise there; I’m 1 for 1
Azerbaijan – cool beans! 2 for 2
Greece – fun, positive dance track; 3 for 3
Sweden – probably undeserved; 4 for 4
Portugal – first time in the Grand Final since 2010! 5 for 5
Poland – yay! Loved this song, happy it moved through; 5 for 6
Armenia – a favorite of mine, woot! 6 for 7
Australia – no, this is the most undeserved qualifier; 6 for 8
Cyprus – that was unexpected. Good for them; 6 for 9
Belgium – it would have been a huge upset if Belgium failed. 7 for 10.
So, I’m 70% accurate for the qualifiers. I’m bummed that Finland did not qualify. Sad that Sweden and Australia did. And pleasantly surprised that Poland did. Check back tomorrow for 1) my full thoughts on each qualifier and 2) my next podcast previewing the Second Semi-Final.
Today we have a special treat: a collaborative podcast with my friend DizzyDJC! We’ll be recording podcasts ahead of each remaining show (so, on Wednesday and Friday) as well as on Sunday after the Contest. Join us live on his YouTube channel or catch it later on mine – either way, enjoy!
This may seem quite skewed, however, I truly believe that the winner will be from among Belgium, Bulgaria, and Italy. Since the start of this series, Ireland has fallen out of the top ten of the betting odds, replaced by France (who I have previously deemed as a legitimate contender).
So, in adding France to the fray, of the four contenders, who do I think will win?
Well, my opinion has not changed. I still think Bulgaria will pull out the victory this year in Kyiv, taking the Contest to Sofia for 2018.
Beautiful Mess is compelling, intricate, and heartfelt. Much more so than any of its closest competition. Italy is fun, but it will be a bit much for a lot of first time viewers. Belgium has been losing ground over the past week and will be going into the Contest on a downward trajectory. France, while beautiful and unique, just isn’t as captivating Bulgaria’s ballad. I think Bulgaria has the perfect mix of jury appeal and fan attraction to win this year.
What are your thoughts? Leave them below and/or on Twitter.
Stay tuned!! Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday I will be teaming up with DizzyDJC to bring you podcasts all throughout Eurovision Week. Stay tuned here, YouTube, or Twitter for the link to broadcasts!
It’s been nearly a week already! We have reached the last two entries that are a part of this series: Armenia and Ireland! Armenia probably does not surprise many, but most are probably shocked (if not pleasantly surprised) to see Ireland make a late surge for the top ten of the betting odds going into Eurovision Week. But, does either country have what it takes to raise the crystal microphone?
Why it is a contender: This song is unique with it’s varying tempos and ethnic flair. More than that, the song tells a story of trusting in love – always a popular sentiment at ESC. Furthermore, the composition is utterly captivating; each moment builds upon the last.
Why it is a pretender: The same compositional elements that make this song stand out are the same ones that can turn off viewers. The ever-shifting tempos and melodies make the song sound a bit cluttered and confused. By the end, the viewer is left trying to catch their breath.
Final Verdict: Pretender As much as I love this song, I just don’t see it captivating viewers enough to pull off a victory. I do think the juries will like it, so expect a Top Ten finish.
Why it is a contender: Murray’s voice is certainly unique and it helps that he is rather adorable. The song is also something that many can relate to; it’s a love song with a heavy dose of reality.
Why it is a pretender: Murray’s voice isn’t for everyone. The composition is also not inherently interesting; subtly is rarely appreciated at Eurovision.
Final Verdict: Pretender I think this song will qualify for the Final. But there will be the eventual comparison between this and the other two young, male ballads – Australia and Bulgaria – and I just don’t think that this will stand up to those two in the minds of viewers seeing these songs for the first time at the Grand Final.
So, will Armenia build upon its recent success? Or will it just be too much for viewers? Conversely, will Ireland spark a new era of domination? Or will it be not enough for viewers? Leave your thoughts below and/or on Twitter!