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