Posts tagged “semi-final two

Eurovision 2017 – Second Semi-Final Recap and Podcast

Hello Dear Readers!

As we anxiously await the forthcoming Grand Final, some thoughts on last night’s Second Semi-Final. I think this semi-final suffered from a lot of nervous performers with shaky performances. Additionally, there seemed to be a plague of poor stagings (more on that below). But first, here are our qualifiers (in alphabetical order with their semi-final half in parentheses):

Photo ©EBU Andreas Putting

  • Austria (first half)

  • Belarus (first half)

  • Bulgaria (second half)

  • Croatia (first half)

  • Denmark (first half)

  • Hungary (first half)

  • Israel (first half)

  • The Netherlands (first half)

  • Norway (second half)

  • Romania (second half)

Some Historical Markers from last night

  • Romania maintains its 100% qualification record. Hungary extends its streak to seven straight qualifications, reaching back to 2011. Austria extends its streak to four. Croatia, the Netherlands, and Israel have now all qualified twice in a row.

  • Bulgaria also has qualified twice in a row for the first time ever (and only third time overall). Denmark and Norway both return to Grand Final after missing it last year (for Norway) and each of the past two years (Denmark). Belarus qualifies for the first time since 2014.

  • Serbia and Lithuania’s streaks of qualifications end after two straight and Malta fails to make a second straight qualification. Macedonia has not qualified since 2012, Ireland since 2013, Switzerland and San Marino since 2014, and Estonia since 2015.

My Reactions

  • Biggest Disappointment: Austria and Ireland, two of my favorite songs, were both terribly performed last night. I could barely make it through Austria’s performance. I hope that Nathan Trent’s singing is better tomorrow night.

  • Biggest Shock: I am still shocked by how well I thought Romania and Croatia (two songs I do not like) did. They performed their hearts out and deserved their qualification.

  • Macedonia and Switzerland, while I think there might have been some nullification effect on one another, I think both were just missed opportunities. They both had strong, popular songs this year and A) staged them poorly and B) did not sing at their best abilities. Just, disappointing.

  • I think the Netherlands had the best performance on the night, followed closely by Bulgaria. They could possibly make a huge splash tomorrow, especially with the help of the juries.

  • France, Germany, and Ukraine had very questionable stagings. Read more about it in my live notes.

  • Just sad that San Marino failed to qualify. I think SMRTV may blame it on their small size, but, actually, it’s because it continually chooses dated songs with lame stagings. More on this in a forthcoming summer series.

So, there you have it my reactions to the Second Semi-Final. My excitement for the Grand Final is through the roof! Hear more about mine (and my friend DIZZYDJC) below in our podcast from today!

Support Eurovision Obsession on Patreon.
Follow @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Sporcle


Eurovision 2017 Song Reviews (Finally!) – Second Semi-Final, First Half

Hello Dear Readers!

Our second semi-final. Sadly, Russia has decided to not participate this year due to…all the political things. This is sad because 1) I always hate to see a country withdraw and 2) I loved Flame is Burning. Oh well, such is life. It does open up one more qualifier spot in this competitive semi-final (as Russia always qualifies). Again, song reviews are in alphabetical order because…I’m lazy.

Second Semi-Final

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection*

 

Austria

Nathan Trent

Running on Air

Internal

Thoughts:

A lovely, upbeat song that can’t help make one feel happy when listening to it. Honestly, it’s such a simple song. It’s only shot at making the final, though, is probably on the back of Trent’s charisma — cute boys tend to do well.

 

Denmark

Anja

Where I Am

Televised

Thoughts:

See my Live Notes on DMGP 2017 for my full thoughts on this entry. It’s a strong entry that will not only make it to the Final, but will most likely end in the Top Ten.

 

Hungary

Joci Pápai

Origo [Origin]

Televised

Thoughts:

This song is one of the most unique, not just this year, but this decade. It’s dark one of the few that follows in the footsteps of 1944, mysterious and about a serious issue (this focuses on the prevailing racism, particularly against the Romani peoples), but this has a message of hope (and faith!).

 

Ireland

Brendan Murray

Dying to Try

Internal

Thoughts:

Such an intriguing voice and such a sweet song. The sentiment of the lyrics is definitely one with which I can relate. While it seems like a love song, it’s truly more of a song of loneliness and longing. I want nothing more than for this song to win; unfortunately, this semi-final is too strong and this song just is not captivating enough, especially being in the first half of the show. It could very well be the beneficiary of Russia’s withdrawal.

 

Macedonia

Jana Burčeska

Dance Alone

Internal

Thoughts:

A catchy song about being happy on one’s own. While I have preferred most of Macedonia’s other entries, this one isn’t bad. To me, it’s a bit generic, but fun. Macedonian fans will be happy to be back in the Grand Final and, possibly, in the Top Ten for the first time.

 

Malta

Claudia Faniello

Breathlessly

Televised

Thoughts:

A powerfully sung ballad. However, unlike in previous years where this kind of entry would make a significant impact, this year, it comes off as a bit boring and dated. I’m sure Faniello will give a stunning performance; I just don’t think this song is captivating enough to get it to the Final.

 

The Netherlands

O’G3NE

Lights and Shadows

Internal

Thoughts:

Alternatively, whereas Malta sounds a bit dated (old-fashioned in a bad way), the Dutch entry sounds “vitange” – that is, old-fashioned in a good way. Their harmonies are tight, the lyrics are inspirational, and the composition is catchy.

 

Romania

Ilinca feat. Alex Florea

Yodel It!

Televised

Thoughts:

Ugh. Probably my least favorite song this year. Let’s see, yodeling doesn’t do well at Eurovision (just ask Austria 2005). Nor does rap (just ask UK 2006 or Finland 2009). I presume that, since we’re talking about Romania, two wrongs will indeed make a right; unless Romania becomes the next country to have its 100% qualification streak snapped.

Serbia

Tijana Bogićević

In Too Deep

Internal

Thoughts:

A powerful song that is unique and intriguing! I imagine there will be silk dancers to further the aesthetic from the music video. I think, though, as I have listened through the songs over and over, this is one that I continually forget – despite its power. It will make the Final, but I think it will do surprisingly little.

*There are three basic ways for a song to be chosen. Internal Selection which is when the broadcaster within a country chooses both the performing artist and the song completely on their own without help from a professional jury or the public. Televised Selection which is the exact opposite, both the performing artist and the song are selected through a competition (or set of competitions) in which some combination of professional jurists and the public vote on the winners. There are also Mixed Selections, in which either the performing artist or the song is selected internally and the other is selected through a televised process. The examples of that this year are Armenia, Greece and Israel. Greece internally selected Demy and had a televised final to select the song. Israel and Armenia had televised shows to select a singer and then internally selected the song.

Find the other reviews from this year here!

Support Eurovision Obsession on Patreon.
Follow @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Sporcle


ESC2014 – Second Semi-Final Reaction

Wow!  The second semi-final was stunning but definitely not as strong as the first semi-final. My reactions to last night’s show.

Fulfilled Expectations
Romania, Greece, and Norway all moved through, as was to be expected. While I think Romania has only an average entry, Norway is only average, and Greece is complete rubbish. In fact, you could see the lead singer constantly motioning to the backing vocalists to sing louder throughout the entire song. The trampoline adds NOTHING.

Surprises
Israel had a very strong performance – absolutely spectacular!  It was definitely a major shock that the song didn’t move on to Saturday. I imagine that her jury performance was weak.  It was also quite a shock to see Belarus make it through as well. This song was not very highly rated and the performance was a bit weak, not to mention there were not many of Belarus’ traditional supporters voting, only Georgia.

Disappointments
Macedonia has a great song, but the staying and performance were flat! The sexiness from the video, the uniqueness from the debut performance, the edge from both – completely missing. Macedonia missed a great opportunity. Likewise, Ireland also missed the boat.   Casey’s singing was uncertain and lacked any kind of passion.  Also, the dancers were unnecessary, or, at least, could have had better choreography. Ireland had a sure thing and let it slip through there hands.

History (kinda)
For only the second time, Poland made it out of the semi-finals. Switzerland and Slovenia qualified for the Final for only the third time (it’s the fourth time for the Swiss, but they automatically qualified in 2006). Along with Poland, the Netherlands, Montenegro, and Sam Marino, this year’s final will have quite a few countries with little Saturday night experience.

Running Order
Now that we have a running order for the final, I can say that I think much higher of the chances of the UK.  It closes the show, follows a tame ballad in San Marino, and will be balanced against the much weaker Ukraine that will be opening the show. The Netherlands also has a legitimate shot at success from its draw position and following the manic, overdone performance of Denmark.  My final predictions will be posted after I see the jury performances tonight!


Eurovision 2013 – Final Predictions!!!

2013 Desktop

Here we are, less than one week out from the First Semi-Final!  With rehearsals in full swing, we are seeing some of the last throws of changes and adjustments ahead of next week’s shows. Below, I will be giving my final review and predictions for each entry – pulling in everything I know and have learned in terms of history, betting odds, and fan chatter.

I’ll give a brief review of every entry, then dive deeper into who I think will win.

Starting with the First Semi-Final:

Austrian Flag MapAustria – It’s a very pleasant song, but I do not think it will have a very lasting impact.  It may sneak into the Final, but it will not do anything once it gets there.

Estonia – This song has definitely grown on me since the first time I heard it.  It’s still quite dull, though, and will make zero impact on the night.  I fear that it will be struggling to avoid last place.

Slovenia – I love this song! And the fact that Hannah Mancini is American only makes me like it all that much more.  Unfortunately, there’s usually only room for one club track in ESC and Norway owns it this year. Even within its own semi-final, Slovenia is less memorable (and appears earlier than) Montenegro and will likely suffer because of it.

Croatia – Classy, simple, clean – it’s lovely.  It will garner points for being so culturally true, but it will suffer from beCroatian Flag Maping so early and so slow. Like Austria, I think it might sneak into the Final and then just sit there.

Denmark – This is the big favorite to win, I loved it since the first time I heard it at DMGP.  If this song is not in the Top Five, I would be shocked.

Russia – Dina Garipova has a beautiful voice, but this song is sooo bland.  It will do well given that its Russia and I wholeheartedly expect this to finish in the Top Ten.

Ukraine – I’ve said it before, the retooled version is miles better than the original, but it’s still a bit too theatrical, I think, to challenge for a win. I think being from the Ukraine will get the entry some points as will the sheer power of Zlata Ognevich’s voice. Unfortunately, the feedback from rehearsals is not good and her chances are sinking.

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands – Anouk is a rather amazing performer and the chatter is that she is keeping her presentation simple, which is perfect for this song.  I think there’s a lot of positive buzz around this song but the Dutch’s stock seems to be dropping. I think she will qualify, but struggle to reach the Top Ten.

Montenegro – I’m still on the fence about this song, personally.  Depending on the mood of the voters, I think this could take the last qualifying spot away from Austria or Croatia.

Lithuania – The song doesn’t entirely make sense and it’s not very dynamic.  I think this will be challenging Estonia for last place on Tuesday.

Belarus – I think of this year’s 39 entries, Belarus’ stock dropping faster than anyone else. When Solayoh was revealed, it was immediately counted as a contender to win. Now, people think it will be lucky to qualify – which I think it will do as long as the presentation is decent.

Moldova – I think this is the most underrated entry – I think it’s captivating, well-sung, and not getting any bad press – look out! Moldova is up to big things!Irish Flag Map

Ireland – I think this is in a similar situation as Slovenia, except Ireland is a much more popular and successful country than Slovenia or Montenegro in ESC. I think that it will qualify for the Final, but not do too much after that.

Cyprus – Another one of my absolute favorites this year. But, like Estonia, I think it is a bit too dull to do anything.  I think it benefits from being expertly sung (particularly, following Ireland) but I do not think Serbian Flag MapDespina Olympiou’s fantastic vocals will be enough to bring success to Cyprus this year.

Belgium – This song gets better each time I hear it.  Unfortunately, viewers only have one time to listen and Roberto Bellarosa is not necessarily a great live singer.

Serbia – This song is a hot mess, and I think it’s stock is also headed in the wrong direction. It has all the makings of a dud.

Bottom Line: Who do I think will qualify?

-Denmark

-Russia

-Ukraine

-The Netherlands

-Ireland

-Austria

-Montenegro

-Croatia

-Belarus

Danish Flag Map-Moldova

I think Denmark is the only one from this bunch that can actually win.

Take a quick breath.  Ready?  Onward to Semi-Final Two.

Latvia – I never particularly cared for this song.  I recently looked up their other song from the Latvian, Sad Trumpet, it’s amazing, which makes me dislike this song even more.

San Marino – Already proving itself to be SM’s most popular entry, it scored a second placing in ESCToday/OGAE’s Annual Poll of Clubs.  I think this could surprise a lot of folks and finish Top Ten.

Macedonian Flag MapMacedonia – I love this song and do not understand why it’s being panned across the web. Anyway, I have very low expectations for this entry.

Azerbaijan – I think Azerbaijan’s weakest entry yet, but it will benefit from the fact that Turkey is not voting. They even released a Turkish language version (which is awful, by the way) in order to capitalize on the Turkish diaspora.

Finland – Like Belgium and Estonia, this song has definitely grown on me and she has a cult following across Europe. But, most Finnish entries seem to garner a cult following of some degree (I’m thinking of 2010, especially) and still not go anywhere. I’m thinking that this will qualify and finish mid-table.

Malta – I really like this, it’s adorable, genuine, and very sweet.  I do not think, though, that it will make a lasting impression on the night, but it could sneak through.

Bulgaria – Not as good as Voda, I think it will fall flat.Bulgarian Flag Country

Iceland – This song is a bit captivating and is generally well-received throughout the fan-sites.  I think it will qualify and has a chance to sneak up the scoreboard.

Greece – Great song! It will definitely qualify, but how will it do? I think it depends on the running order – if it’s surrounded by two ballads (like it is in the semi-final) I think it has a real shot of being Top Ten, otherwise, it will finish mid-table.

Israel – The question is, will the amazingness of this song be outweighed by the horrendous fashion and hairstyle?  Probably.

Armenian Flag MapArmenia – Meh. This song is decent, but still not great.  I do not think it will do that well, but may qualify on virtue of the fact that over half will move through.

Hungary – I really, really like this.  But it’s so soft I think that it will be loss among the shuffle.

Norway – This song is very different from the grand majority of ESC entries, which means that it will either be wildly successful or fail greatly. It has a lot of fan support and haunts you long after listening – it’s bound to do well.

Albania – This song seems to be fairly popular, but I do not know why.  It will benefit from being the only rock song in the Contest this year.

Georgia – “Eurovision by Numbers” is the phrase that everyone seems to be throwing around for this entry.  I agree, but I don’t mind – it’s a fantastic entry in my opinion and can challenge for the win.Swiss Flag County

Switzerland – I love this song but it seems to be getting mixed reviews. I think it’s just good enough to qualify (when was the last time the Dutch and the Swiss were in a Final together? 2003 I think).

Romania – Romania will be the next country with a 100% Final qualification rate to fall (as Turkey did in 2011 and Georgia did in 2012).

The Bottom Line: Who do I think will qualify?

-San Marino

-Azerbaijan

-Finland

-Iceland

-Greece

-Israel

-Norway

-Albania

-GeorgiaGeorgian Flag Map

-Switzerland

I think Georgia and Azerbaijan are the most serious contenders.

Whew!  Blink a few times – maybe take a sip of water – onward to the Final!!

France – I love! this song.  It’s great!  For some unknown reason, no one else seems to.  New French Flag MapI think with a really good presentation (Amandine Bourgeois alone on stage (the backing singers can be off-camera on the catwalk – like Sweden last year) with flames that grow higher throughout and begin to dance by the end), this song could be a dark horse.

Germany – I like this a lot, I wonder if Europe will get up and dance or be tired of all the club tracks between last year and this year. I think Cascada, on name alone, will be able to break the Top Ten.

Italy – In my opinion, this is the most overrated song this year. Everyone is talking about how much they love it and how great it is, but I do not see what separates this entry from Iceland or Israel (or even Cyprus and Estonia for that matter) – they’re all well sung ballads in my opinion. Expect it to fight with Georgia for jury points.

Spanish Flag MapSpain – I really like this entry, it’s really sweet and I love the Celtic sound (the band is from northern Spain, where Celtic Galician region is).  However, it will merely be a palate cleanser between whatever two song its performed between. I don’t think it will be last.

Sweden – I think this song has great potential, but I have yet to see Robin Stjernberg perform this song live well.  While the viewing public may not care as much, the juries will (remember Russia 2011?).

United Kingdom – I like it; it’s grown on me. Most of the comments I see and the betting odds all seem to have this song doing well (except for Britons, but after following the Contest since 2007, Briton Flag MapI do not think there is a single thing the BBC can do that won’t make British fans whine).

Bottom Line: Which of these six do I think can finish in the Top Ten?

-Italy

-Germany

So, who’s going to win?

I think there are only four legitimate contenders: Denmark, Italy, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

Danish Flag MapDenmark – the big favorite among the fans and the bookies – by a country mile!  This song’s biggest challenge is whether it can withstand being in a field of 26 others. If this song is stuck in the first half of the Grand Final, then it can sink.  It’s a great song, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression; if it’s mixed with other pleasant entries (like Switzerland, the UK, Spain) or more memorable entries (like Ukraine or Norway) then it will be forgotten by the average viewer.Italian Flag Map

Italy – perceived, by just about everyone, as the strongest ballad in the field this year.  If Marco Mengoni has to worry about Eythor Ingi (Iceland) being within close range, then I he’ll also have to worry about losing votes to him.  The two songs are similar in appearance, tone, and mood and can split votes, resulting in lower placings for both of them.

Georgian Flag MapGeorgia – a powerful, stirring ballad that represents one of the best efforts of ESC legend Thomas G:son.  Conversely, the drawback from of having a renowned ESC composer writing for you – all his songs have a similar sound and put this song at risk of sounding generic.

Azerbaijan – Turkey is not competing, leaving Europe’s biggest diaspora up for grabs and ripe for the picking for mini-Turkey:Azerbaijani Flag Map Azerbaijan.  Everything about this entry is average – thehttps://eurovisionobsession.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=608&action=edit singing, the lyrics, the music; I also doubt Azerbaijan wants to host again so quickly after last year’s Contest.

I stick by my prediction from a few weeks ago, Denmark and Georgia will be battling it out for victory.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday when I will be posting my annual live notes! Every year, I take notes as I am watching the Semi-Finals and Grand Final and post them here for your reading pleasure!  The shows occur at 3PM here, so I have to watch the semi-finals later in the day (hence why the notes are posted the following day). I will try to keep my Grand Final notes on here live this year after Twitter failed me last year – so be sure to check back in on Saturday!

ESC2013 Logo Facebook Cover

ESC2013 Facebook Cover


Eurovision 2013: Semi-Final Running Order

esc2013 logo

Hello Readers!

As promised, here is my take on the winners and losers of the Semi-Final running order.  In case you do not know, for the first time in the history of the Contest, the producers are determining the running order.  The previous 57 editions of the Contest used random draw to determine the running order.  SVT’s defense for moving in this direction?  “It makes for a better show.” The Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of the EBU Jon Ola Sand has said that the idea behind this move is to give each song a “chance to shine.”

I think they are misguided in their intentions.  I do not think that they can preserve the competitive integrity of the Contest without going back to the random draw.  Unfortunately, while fans (people who follow the Contest beyond the one week of May during which it takes place) are vehemently against this move, we only make up a small percentage of the total number of viewers and consumers of ESC, so, ultimately, our voice does not mean much.  So, essentially, we should saddle up and prepare ourselves for producer-determined running orders to stay.

With all that said, here’s my take on the running orders for the Semi-Finals!

Semi-Final One

Winners

Austria fits very nicely at the beginning of the show as it is a mid-tempo song with a big ending.  While it is a bit generic, going first will help make it a bit more memorable, as long as Natália Kelly’s vocals are stronger than they were in the national selection.Ukranian Flag Map

Ukraine is a song in a similar style to Russia, but is much more memorable.  It benefits from following What If in the running order.

Cyprus is a stirring ballad that has the potential to be sung flawlessly by Despina Olympiou.  While I still do not think that Cyprus has a chance of moving through, this the best option they could hope for, being sandwiched between two up-tempo songs performed by guys who don’t have nearly the same vocal abilities.

Losers

Slovene Flag MapSlovenia is a club track sandwiched by the two slowest entries in the Contest.  A juxtaposition between it and slower tracks – that’s okay; being the crazed, over-the-top dance-focused performance between two understated, simple songs – that’s an order for disaster.

Montenegro will find it difficult following the Netherlands.  It has been argued that the Netherlands got the raw end of the deal coming between Ukraine and Montenegro, but I think Montenegro loses out coming between the Netherlands and Lithuania.  While both of those entries are rather subdued, Montenegro will be come off as a bit mad with its dubstep and men in hazard suits.

Semi-Final Two

Winners

Finland benefits from being a crazy ball of energy between two very forgettable acts.  Unlike Montenegro and Slovenia in the first Finnish Flag Mapsemi-final, the two acts surrounding Finland, Azerbaijan and Malta, are not very musically interesting (when compared to, say, Croatia, the Netherlands, Lithuania, or Estonia).  Not only that, but people who like up tempo numbers will appreciate the fury of Krista Siegfrids after a serious of mid-tempo numbers in San Marino, Macedonia, and Azerbaijan.

Albania benefits in the same way as Finland.  The one of the few rock numbers this year, Albania follows a combination of four mid-tempo songs and ballads: Israel, Armenia, Hungary, and Norway.  People who like Albania also will most likely shy away from Georgia’s ballad, the pop-y goodness of Switzerland, and the sheer “uniqueness” of Romania, meaning that Albania will stick in folks’ minds at the end of the night.

Losers

San Marino, for all its merits, is not an overly remarkable or memorable entry. Latvia is.  Macedonia is.  Valentina Monetta will have to give a performance of a lifetime to make a lasting impression between those two songs.  Her producers also need to make sure they design a stage show that not only compliments the song, but helps it stand out.

Greece is in the same predicament as Slovenia, it’s a crazed, high-energy song sandwiched between two subdued, beautifully sung pieces (Iceland and Israel).  Fortunately for Greece, this is a rather good song that is already quite popular, the lousy position shouldn’t affect its chances of moving through too much.Hungariran Flag Map

Hungary is a sweet lullaby sandwiched between the rock ballad from Armenia and the techno track from Norway (there is a more specific genre in which Feed You My Love falls, but I can’t remember the name for it).  As soon as it was selected, MTV knew that it was going to be a struggle to ensure that the performance is memorable, the pressure to do this is intensified by performing between two very memorable entries.

With all this said, I think the running order will matter much more in the Grand Final then in the semi-finals.  Taking into account the running orders, Internet chatter, betting odds, and Contest history, here are my updated predictions for the ten qualifiers from each semi-final.Georgian Flag MapDanish Flag Map

First Semi-Final

Second Semi-Final

Denmark Georgia
The Netherlands Norway
Russia Greece
Ukraine Azerbaijan
Moldova Switzerland
Ireland Albania
Belarus San Marino
Slovenia Iceland
Austria Romania
Serbia Finland

Stay tuned, as I will be starting a new series in a week or two.  It will be a Contender or Pretender series looking at the the top ten contenders in the betting odds: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Russia, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Azerbaijan (with the United Kingdom, San Marino, and Belarus hovering just outside the top ten).


Eurovision 2013 – Second Half of the Second Semi-Final

esc2013 logo

Hello! Welcome to the fourth installment of my five part series previewing this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  Each day this week, I have been previewing each half of each semi-final.  The First Semi-Final was split between Monday and Tuesday; yesterday was the first half of the Second Semi-Final. Today, I’m looking at the second half of the Second Semi-Final.

Albania Identitet performed by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar SejkoAlbanian flag country

It’s okay.  I don’t mind it, but I definitely don’t prefer it.  It’s composition rocks harder than the singing.  I have a feeling that this song is trying to be much more epic than it is succeeding at being.  Better luck next year Albania

Armenian Flag MapArmenia Lonely Planet performed by Gor Sujyan

Meh.  I’m not impressed.  I feel like this song missed its potential and will most likely hover around the qualification line, particularly if the Swedish producers want to disadvantage it by placing it between two very memorable songs (like Georgia and Greece).  Speaking of which…

Georgia Waterfall performed by Sopho & NodikoGeorgian Flag Map

A very powerful song, but not all that great.  I think this song, like several other Georgian entries, was designed to be jury fodder.  I think it will also benefit from votes from Armenia and Azerbaijan. I expect it to move through.

Greek Flag MapGreece Alcohol is Free performed by Koza Mostra feat. Agathonas Iakovidis

Whoa!!  This entry is a little over the top, much like LIT2010 and MOL2011.  And, like those entries, I like it!  Despite the apparent promotion of drinking and drunkenness, it’s so catchy and I have a weakness for pop-ska.  It’s Greece, so, of course, it will do well, perhaps bringing the country back to the Top Ten, but it’s still too early to tell in that regard.

Hungary Kedvesem (My Sweetheart) performed by ByeAlexHungariran Flag Map

What a pretty song.  It’s so soothing and nice.  Even though it’s about being in love with a mermaid, it’s a nice lullaby.  Unfortunately, lullabies do not tend to do too well.  Though, a favorable position (perhaps immediately after Greece so those who were overwhelmed have a chance to grab on to something pleasant) will bolster its chances.  It’s on the bubble right now!

Israeli Flag CountryIsrael Rak Bishvilo (Only for Him) performed by Moran Mazor

AMAZING!!  Israel is bringing it after taking a few years away from serious contention!  This song is awesome!  The composition fits Mazor’s voice perfectly, she conveys the lyrics (a deep, mature love for her man) in such a powerful way that leaves all her competition sounding like itty-bitty teeny-boppers.  This song must do well!  It must!!

Norway I Feed You My Love performed by Margaret BergerNorwegian Flag Map

Yikes!  This sounds like a “love me or else” type of song, the kind that provides the soundtrack for anime fanvids for many years to come.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s already a Sailor Moon fanvid set to this song somewhere on the Internet right now.  I like it a lot!  I think if it qualifies for the Grand Final, then it will be in the Top Ten, otherwise, it will be last or close to it in the semis.

Romanian Flag MapRomania It’s My Life performed by Cezar

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Countertenors are creepy!”  How did this become the selection for Romania?  I like the beat, but the whole song is a bit much.  I think Romania will be missing the Grand Final for the first time since 2002.

Switzerland You and Me performed by TakasaSwiss Flag County

One of the most controversial entries this year come from a group of Salvation Army workers.  Apparently, their actual name “Heilsarmee” (literally “Salvation Army” in German) was perceived as too religious by the EBU and their outfits too off-putting (they usually dress like soldiers given their association with the Salvation Army).  Regardless, this song is most definitely one of the best of the Contest this year and already one of my favorites after one listen. Oh, and in case you are wondering, “takasa” is a Swahili word meaning “clean” – which, to many Christians, can be another way of saying “salvation” – it’s often used as a metaphor, like “washed and made clean” due to Jesus’ death and resurrection (which is the basic concept of salvation). But of course, I’m sure the band means it more along the lines that they’re clean and wholesome….or they mean it both ways.

So, what do I think of the second half of the Second Semi-Final?

My Order of Preference How I think the final scorecard will look
Israel Greece*
Switzerland Israel*
Norway Georgia*
Hungary Norway*
Greece Hungary+
Georgia Switzerland+
Albania Armenia+
Armenia Romania
Romania Albania

*Who I think will definitely move through to the Grand Final
+May move through to the Grand Final depending on the second half of the Second Semi-Final

So, what does all of this mean?

I solidly predict Azerbaijan, Greece, Israel, Georgia, and Norway to move through to the Grand Final.  After that, it’s a bit murky, as my desires play with my reasoning.  While I really want San Marino to move through, I don’t think it’s quite there just yet.  With that said, I think Switzerland, Hungary, Armenia, Malta, and Bulgaria are.  I don’t think Romania, Latvia, Finland, or Macedonia have a chance of progressing, but nothing’s for sure.  The competition is much closer in this semi-final than in the First one.

Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the Automatic Qualifiers as well as my first official prediction for the outcome of the Grand Final.


Eurovision 2013 – First Half of the Second Semi-Final

esc2013 logo

Hello!  If you are new to Eurovision Obsession (or haven’t been here in a while) I am in the middle of a series.  Each day this week I am previewing one half of each semi-final, and the Grand Final on Friday.  Over the past two days, I examined the First Semi-Final, on Monday I looked at the first half and yesterday, the second.

Azerbaijan Hold Me performed by Farid MammadovAzerbaijani Flag Map
Immediately, I think this is stronger than the majority of entries from the First Semi-Final (links to my thoughts on the First Semi-Final are above).  It’s a strong entry from a very popular country that has never seen the wrong side of the Top Ten.  I do not think there’s any question that this will be a Top Ten song, if not a competitor for the Winner’s Circle.

Bulgarian Flag CountryBulgaria Samo Shampioni (Only Champions) performed by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov
Our favorite Bulgarian percussionists are back hoping to return Bulgaria to the Top Ten.  Unfortunately, this song is not a strong as Voda, but it’s close, the question is, would Voda be competitive nowadays?  We’ll see.  Even the traditional chanting makes a return in this song – good stuff! I do not understand how this did not win originally; it’s light years better than Kismet.  Perhaps the co-writer of Kismet did not see anything wrong with the final version but instead wanted to give Bulgaria a better shot of succeeding (in case you did not know, Kismet was to be the song for Bulgaria, but the third author of the song challenged it on grounds that he was not consulted on the final version.  To avoid issues around copyright and plagiarism, Bulgaria simply moved to the runner-up song).

Finland Marry Me performed by Krista SiegfridsFinnish Flag Map
Going in the exact opposite direction as Cyprus, Finland turns 360º from last year’s entry and heads straight for the 90s.  Unfortunately, it’s equally as weak, but without the nice sentiment of being written by a sibling pair for their mother.  It’s kinda annoying, actually, but not in an endearing way like ICE2006.  Speaking of Iceland…

Icelandic Flag MapIceland Ég á Lif (I’ve Got a Life) performed by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson
It’s about time we heard some Icelandic on the ESC stage!  It’s been absent for 14 years! Too bad this song is somewhat boring.  It’s pretty, no doubt, but definitely a little dull.  Though, I do like the orchestration a lot; it gives the song a bit more of an anthem feeling, which makes sense given the lyrics.  And the lyrics are vaguely Christian, definitely a plus!

Latvia Here We Go performed by PeRLatvian Flag Map
Awww….a boy band that raps.  The rapping is better doen than a lot of other ESC rap songs, but given that Latvia does not have the clout of Greece, the only nation to successfully land a rap song in the Top Ten, I imagine this song will linger behind in the semi-finals.

Macedonian Flag MapMacedonia Pred da se Razdeni (Before the Dawn) performed by Esma & Lozano
I like this a lot!  I think it is one of the best matching of contemporary and folk traditions we’ll see on the ESC stage.  With that said, without any other former Yugoslav nation, I’m not sure if Macedonia stands much of a chance without some kind of amazing performance in the semi-final (it does have Albania to help it out, but one country is not enough to push it forward).  But the country can pride itself on putting out another high quality act for the second straight year!  Also, I don’t quite understand the need to change songs; the original selection, Imperija, is just as good as this one, if not better.  Either way, Macedonia will be staying in the semi-finals, I’m sure.

Malta Tomorrow performed by Gianluca BezzinaMaltese Flag Map
I’m beginning to get the sense that Malta is nothing but sunshine and smiles.  Gone are the power ballads and bellowing ladies, here are the guys who just want to sing about love and good times.  This song is so fun and bouncy and tells a fun story.  I hope they don’t screw it by giving it a poor staging.  I think you get a nice couple of dancers to act out the story, keep Bezzina and his three backing singers off to the side and out of the way of the unfolding story, and this song has a decent shot of qualifying.

Sammarinese Flag MapSan Marino Crisalide (Vola) (Chrisalis (Fly)) performed by Valentina Monetta
Everyone’s favorite social media star is back!  Once again, I’ll just like to remind everyone that she was brought to SMRTV’s attention due to her jazz singing, which is her specialty.  With that said, this song is a thousand times better than her entry last year!  I don’t know if the tempo change is necessary…or the key change.  Let’s hope they have a ribbon climber on stage, that would definitely add to epic-ness of this song and give them a shot of moving through to the Grand Final.

What do I think about the first half of the Second Semi-Final?

My Order of Preference How I think the final scorecard will look
Macedonia Azerbaijan*
Azerbaijan Malta+
Malta Bulgaria+
San Marino San Marino+
Iceland Iceland+
Bulgaria Latvia
Finland Finland
Latvia Macedonia

*Who I think will definitely move through to the Grand Final
+May move through to the Grand Final depending on the second half of the Second Semi-Final

Check back tomorrow for the second half of the Second Semi-Final!


ESC2011: Notes on the Second Semi-Final

Eurovision 2011 – Düsseldorf

SECOND SEMI-FINAL 2!

Tuesday was a hoot!  While I don’t think that this year has presented songs as strong as the past few years, surprises and entertainment still abound!  Congratulations to Switzerland and Lithuania for making the Final, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it on the backs of the juries.  The blogosphere is still rocking from the absence of Turkey, Norway, and (for the first time since it joined in 2006) Armenia in Saturday’s Final – better luck next year, y’all!

That is a point I want to make before the Semi-Final starts.  I think (and was thinking about this even before Tuesday) that this will be the first time since the new voting system was introduced in 2008 that there will be a strong discrepancy between the juries’ votes and the televotes.  I don’t know why, I just have a hunch.  Hopefully, I am wrong because any major discrepancy (for instance, if the two groups have different winners) might lead to a change in the voting system, which I think is really as good as it can get.  Only time will tell.

One more note, we have this year’s first controversy.  Five broadcasters (Armenia’s for sure and probably, Turkey’s, Norway’s, Poland’s, Albania’s, and Malta’s) have filed a grievance, saying that technical issues prevented many countries from casting votes throughout the first thirty minutes of Tuesday’s semi-final.

My final pre-show predictions.  I think the ten qualifiers will be: Estonia, Denmark, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ukraine, Moldova, Israel, Sweden, Slovenia, Austria, Romania.  I think Israel almost has a free pass since it is being represented by a Contest icon.  Austria, like Lithuania and Switzerland, is jury fodder and will most likely woo the professionals enough to make it to Saturday.  I have a similar feeling about Slovenia.  I know Ireland is picked to do really well, but honestly, I have a really hard time believing that.  Sweden, who is a heavy favorite, has been having lots of technical issues in rehearsals, not to mention has a very taxing dance routine, so everything must work near-perfectly for it to move through.  The issue with starting voting at the very beginning is that people will vote based upon who they like without figuring in performance, so it almost defeats the purpose of having a televised show at all.  As always, the songs that are able to master the Contest as it is (and not as it should be, or was, or will be) are the ones that deserve to win.

So, onward with tonight’s semi-final!

Opening Act:

Hopefully, the opening banter will be better than on Tuesday – it is slightly better.  The comedienne’s outfit is much better, though.  And again the tv journalist lady is dressed beautifully.  Why is Stefan Raab there?  He adds nothing!

01. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Love in Rewind performed by Dino Merlin

Why is there no yellow in the BiH heart?  Why, oh why, do audiences never clap on beat?  I hope they don’t make it too difficult for the performers to stay together.  As someone who’s performed in front of 60,000 people clapping off-beat, it’s not easy to avoid being swept up in their wrong rhythm.  I really like this song!  I was weary given how awful his previous entry was, but I really, really, really like this – Go BiH!  And it was so beautifully staged – why is this not a bigger favorite than it is?  (Right now, I think it is supposed to be lower Top Ten – but it should be a contender for victory!)

02. Austria – The Secret is Love performed by Nadine Beiler

A capella!  Interesting, she didn’t start going off-key until after the music started – but she does have a really great voice.  I understand why the bookies (and probably the juries) like this, but I couldn’t imagine a slow song like this winning over many televoters.  This is nice; a really strong entry.  If this was the mid-90s, I would say that she absolutely had a chance of doing great!  But it’s not, so I think she should count herself lucky if she makes it to the Final, really lucky if she gets a finish in the top fifteen.

03. The Netherlands – Never Alone performed by 3JS

The 3JS are huge in the Netherlands, but have never done anything in English.  They should have stuck to Dutch; they just sound really nervous and I’m sure the language has something to do with it more so than the size of the audience.  In the end, I did really enjoy this entry, though I think, like most Dutch entries, it’s fairly forgettable.

04. Belgium – With Love performed by Witloof Bay

A capella!!!  I think the song is a bit corny, but they are definitely a great group.  The beatboxer is definitely awesome.  Fan reactions are so dubious, they cheer for everything, and the songs with the biggest reactions don’t always do well.  So it’s hard to really judge how well this entry will do, though, they are quite talented and the arrangement was pretty amazing.

05. Slovakia – I’m Still Alive performed by TWiiNS

I just want to point out that the drum beat we here was created by the Belgian beatboxer just moments earlier.  With a title like “I’m still alive,” one would think that this would be a high energy foot-stomper or a slow, somber song of survival; instead, it’s awkwardly between the two extremes.  I guess that’s the reason why this song has been under the radar…or is it because of the twins’ shaky vocals?  I think it is a pleasant enough entry, but I like it the least so far.

06. Ukraine – Angel performed by Mika Newton

Oh yes, this is the entry with the famed sand artist. She definitely adds a unique and intriguing element to the stage show – which is good because Mika’s vocals are a bit suspect.  I also like the fashion for this entry.  I really liked the music and the performance, but am lukewarm about the lyrics.  It’s an alright entry for me and may fall prey to the same wave that got typical qualifiers Armenia and Turkey.

07. Moldova – So Lucky performed by Zdob şi Zdub

diggiloo.net tells me that this song is in English, I don’t think I believe it.  The staging freaks me out, especially when juxtaposed against Ukraine’s.  I doubt any other act will be able to match their energy, though I am Eric Saade will try.  I definitely like the composition; this sounds like something from the mid-90s Ska-era.  I like it, but I don’t love it, though, I am really confident that this will move through to Saturday.

08. Sweden – Popular performed by Eric Saade

Here I am, thinking that Saade’s voice would have improved since last year when he perofrmed Manboy at Melodifestevalen, how disappointed I am.  And apparently, he is still mourning the loss of the Eurovision Dance Contest, as he seems to try to be bringing it to the ESC stage.  That’s interesting lighting choices, the last thirty seconds all you really see are shadows moving about, effectively hiding the thing that made him “popular” last year when giving the Swedish votes.  It was definitely an electrifying performance, but I think the song is generic and trite, not to mention “I will be popular” is not necessarily a line that will endear you to the hearts of the average middle schoolers who will be voting.

09. Cyprus – San Angelos S’Agapisa performed by Christos Mylordos

And now, a complete 180 degree turn from the last two entries, Cyprus brings a ethno-rock!  Actually, the song was better before the wailing lady and the rock riffs started.  I tend to love songs of heartache, but am underwhelmed by this act.  I think that the performance was good, but comes off a bit amateurish after Saade’s, though I like this song a lot more – and in the end, that’s what it’s all really about.

10. Bulgaria – Na Inat performed by Poli Genova

These last two acts are definitely much more in line with the ESC of the past few years, for better or for worse.  I like this, though, I don’t know how I feel about doing things “for spite.”  I definitely see how this song won the Bulgarian national selection, though, I do miss having the club anthem that the country typically sends.

11. Macedonia – Rusinka performed by Vlatko Ilievski

I thought his voice was strange because he was singing in English, nope, that’s just how he sounds.  And why have that English part?  It’s the only thing not in Macedonian.  Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to put it in Russian, particularly given the song’s story?  I like the staging of this song very much.  Once again, the Second Semi-Final is proving itself to be the stronger of the two – why is this the case year after year?  I like it a lot, but I don’t think it has a shot of moving through.  Also, I am pleased that Macedonia brought back its trademark “lai, lai, lai”s to its song this year; it has been too long since they’ve last sung those on the ESC stage.

12. Israel – Ding Dong performed by Dana International

Dana International is in an uncharacteristically subtle outfit.  Ding Dong is definitely no Diva, though I do really like this song.  It’s not as strong as I would have hoped it to be, in composition, lyrics, or performance – but it’s hard for me to think that Dana International won’t go through to the Final.

13. Slovenia – No One performed by Maja Keuc

The big note should have been bigger.  I would feel better about this song’s chances if the crowd reacted to that big note – but they didn’t.  Talk about a spiteful song, “No one will ever, ever touch you…” that cuts deep.  I think it was ably performed, but was it ably performed enough to get through?  Probably not.

14. Romania – Change performed by Hotel FM

Wow, yet another corny song.  Despite the lyrics…and the cheesy performance…and the shaky vocals, I like this song.  I think it’s terribly overrated, but I do indeed like it.

The advert break medley of ESC songs was alright, but still cheesy and over-the-top.  I guess the Germans really aren’t all that funny.

15. Estonia – Rockefeller Street performed by Getter Jaani

Oh yay! The magic hanky from Eesti Lauul, surely there’s going to be more tricks, as everyone expected that to happen (notice the lack of audience reaction to the trick).  I liked this song, certain parts more than others, but I am left with one question: Why is this song a favorite to win?  I wouldn’t even immediately predict to move through to the Final, let alone win.  Can you say: “Overrated?”

16. Belarus – I Love Belarus performed by Anastaiya Vinnikova

In a quintessential exercise of irony, I Love Belarus is sung entirely in English!  Belarus has its own language and Russian to choose from to show its patriotism, yet they choose English, a language I am pretty sure most of its residents don’t speak.  Apparently, this is popular at the Euro-club, which makes sense – it’s a vapid dance track – but it has zero chance of progressing through to the Final.

17. Latvia – Angel in Disguise performed by Mussiq

I am beginning to think that I could make a killing teaching English to Latvians; “Kill me with killer kiss” – seriously?!  You want to convince millions of Europeans from Iceland to Siberia to vote for you, and you come with “Kill me with killer kiss?”  Seriously?  The actual verses are much better, though I will say, this sounds more like a sex song than a love song (“Kill me with luscious thighs!”).  Despite the rapping, I am not quite sure why this song is not predicted to go through to the Final, it is certainly better than Denmark, Estonia, Moldova, and (presumably) Ireland.

18. Denmark – New Tomorrow performed by A Friend of London

If you’ve read anything I’ve posted about this year’s Danish entry, you’ll know that I don’t like this song at all.  I think it is corny and meant to appeal to four year olds.  I have no idea why this song is predicted to be Top Ten – and I consider Denmark to be my second home (after the USA of course!).  Once again, I am baffled by the popularity of a subpar Danish entry.  Where are the beach balls, that was the one cool effect that this song had at DMGP, and I only saw one – we were promised hundreds of balls bouncing around Espirit Arena, where are they?!

19. Ireland – Lipstick performed by Jedward

Continuing the stupid haircut portion of the show, the twins from Ireland take to the stage.  What are they wearing?  If it was anyone other than Jedward, than I would say this is a prime candidate for DEDF status (decent entry derailed by fashion).  Yes, I said “decent entry,” I actually don’t hate this song despite the fact that I think Jedward’s entry is a gag act (and yes, Latvia’s song is better than this).  You forget that these guys are 19, because looking at how they act, you think they’re more like 9.

My Top Ten on the Night Who I Think Will Progress on to the Final
1. Bosnia & Herzegovina Sweden (of course, and it has a good chance of winning)
2. The Netherlands Ireland (it didn’t suck and people already like Jedward)
3. Romania Austria (the juries will make their voices heard)
4. Moldova Moldova (they’re too crazy not to move through)
5. Austria Israel (it’s an ESC icon!)
6. Belgium Bosnia & Herzegovina (it’s an intensely popular song)
7. Ukraine Romania (it’s a catchy, feel good song)
8. Latvia Denmark (it’s inexplicitly popular despite controversy)
9. Slovenia Estonia (it’s inexplicitly popular)
10. Israel Latvia OR Slovenia (but not both)

Interval Act: I really enjoyed that.  Not quite as much as I did Cold Steel Drummers from Tuesday, but I enjoyed the dancers and their music.

The ten that actually made it to the Grand Final:

Estonia – of course, she’s a heavy favorite to win (I am 1 for 1 so far)

Romania – of course, it’s catchy and fun (2/2)

Moldova – of course, it’s fun gibberish! (3/3)

Ireland – of course, a big change from Tuesday when everyone was shocked by the first few winners announced (4/4)

Bosnia & Herzegovina (5/5)

Denmark – why?  why is this song so popular? (6/6)

Austria – yay, the jury has spoken! (7/7)

Ukraine – not too surprising given that’s its UKR and the amazing stage show (7/8)

Slovenia – awesome, let’s hope she’s even stronger on Saturday (8/9)

Sweden – of course, he’s another huge favorite to win (9/10)

Final Thoughts on the Second Semi-Final:

So, Dana International becomes the first winner to return to the Contest and fail to qualify for the Final.  It’s just as well, as she said so herself, she didn’t care about the competition this time around.  I don’t like the direction that the Contest will take if Sweden wins; however, I have to admit that it is the clear favorite to win in my eyes right now.  I would bet money that he won this semi-final.  Also, it’s a true shame that the Netherlands did not qualify, they had a great song with strong music and strong lyrics, but like most Dutch entries, it had an underwhelming stage show.  Finally, Slovenia, in my opinion, has all the makings of a dark horse candidate this year.  It has been fairly below the radar, yet it is a strong song with the potential of an even stronger performance.  Hopefully, Maja Keuc is up to the challenge.

Final Thought on the two semi-finals:

It once again seems that the Second Semi-Final had the stronger performers and more acts picked by fans and bookies to be successful.  This has happened every year the two semi-final system has been in use.  There has to be something that can be done about this, maybe waiting longer before assigning semi-finals (for instance, waiting until the March Heads of Delegation meetings, where they normally draw the running order).

There also seems to be a stark divide in entries this in the Final this year.  Of the twenty entries that have qualified from the Semi-Finals, seven (Sweden, Moldova, Estonia, Ireland, Georgia, Russia, and Hungary) seem to be weaker artistically speaking (music and lyrics) but appear to be designed to soak up televotes and win fans over.  Conversely, seven (Slovenia, Ukraine, Austria, Iceland, Switzerland, Lithuania, and Finland) seem to be meant more to appeal to juries.  Leaving the remaining six entries (Greece, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, and Romania) to either be crushed by both groups (particularly Greece and Romania) or to be able to split the difference (particularly Denmark and Bosnia & Herzegovina).  Either way, Saturday is up for grabs especially when you throw in additional favorites France and the UK, and the home field bump Germany will receive.  The official list of favorites to win on Saturday is: Sweden, Estonia, UK, France, Hungary.  Only one of those will continue the recent tradition of song-centered winners (France).  That’s not to say that the UK’s and Hungary’s entries aren’t song-focused, just not as much as France.  Furthermore, Estonia and Sweden are generic pop songs trying to win on performance alone, which was the problem with many of the Contests of the early 2000s.  But this is why they brought the juries back, to help deal with this problem (among others), so hopefully, they do their job!

**UPDATE: Bosnia & Herzegovina just pulled the second position for the Final on Saturday, so I am going to go ahead and say that it will not win.  Sorry Dino Merlin; it’s a shame because I really like that song.  Denmark got position three, not much better.  These were probably the two non-favorites that had the best shot of pulling off an upset victory, now that seems so much less likely.  In case you’re wondering why I’m saying this, no country has ever won from the second position…or the third.***


Notes on the ESC 2010 – Oslo: Second Semi-Final

Semi-Final Two:

Pre-Show Predictions for countries that will move forward: Armenia, Israel, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Romania, Ireland, Croatia, Turkey, Cyprus

Opening Act: Same video as last time, boo.  The hosts’ outfits improved from last night to tonight.  Therefore, we should expect great things on Saturday!

Lithuania: What a great way to start the night!  Pop-ska, cheesy choreography, and a well timed costume change!  I really liked this one, too bad it won’t make the Final.

Armenia: The first of several favorites tonight.  I thought this was a slow song, guess not.  I like it, though.  It’s not as moving as I think it should be due to the tempo of the song.  However, Eva has a nice voice, the staging is perfect (despite the creepy tree), there is no reason this should not move through to Saturday.

Israel: Is it me, or did Harel Skaat look quite nervous during the postcard?  The second favorite to perform tonight, and another shoo-in for the Final.  I think Skaat has a lovely voice, I really do, but all of his songs sound the exact same!  Essentially, a pretty song that is sung very well, great staging, and an overall moving performance, well done Harel!

Denmark: Whoa!  Go Danes!  And the streak of bookie favorites extends to three.  Chanee and N’Evergreen merely needed a decent performance to make it through, and they did slightly more than that.  If they want to carry the day on Saturday, they need to show the heart and passion they did during the Second Round of the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, otherwise it will be another near miss for Denmark.

Switzerland:  I see why it has such a strong and vocal following.  And I also see why it will probably linger behind in the Semis.  It’s up-tempo and kind of fun, but it is forgettable.  Sorry Switzerland, hopefully we’ll still see you next year!

Sweden: The official website kept saying Sweden would have light staffs, those are just glow sticks!  The song is alright, it sounded like it was too low for the singer.  It will pass through because it is Sweden, but expect another disappointing finish for the Land of ABBA.

Azerbaijan: Safura is showing herself to be the weakest singer among the favored acts.  The song is alright, it will definitely make the Final.  However, like last year, Azerbaijan’s song is too American and too dispassionate to win.  She will definitely have to step up her game if she hopes to carry that microphone trophy back to Baku.

Ukraine: This is so different than anything that the Ukraine has ever done!  A “Call to Action” song dressed up as a rock ballad.  It’s actually not that bad of a song, and doesn’t deserve a lot of the crap people say about it (on a musical level, as you recall, the crap I say about it is more based on the controversy surrounding its selection).  I am tentatively changing my vote and saying that it will go through.

The Netherlands:  One of the most talked about entries this year!  This is so catchy and fun; why do people hate this song?  By no stretch of the imagination is it the only old-fashioned thing this year.  It’s so cherry; I hope it goes through just to spite all of its critics!

Romania: I really like this song, but it is probably the most overrated song this year.  It will move through, but it will probably finish in only the lower teens (11-14) on Saturday.  I do really like the two sided piano, though.

Slovenia:  This was a great concept that was very poorly executed.  First, it should have just been Ansambel Roka Zlindra, without any vocal input from Kalamari.  Second, the polka parts should be expunged, and it should just be like how the refrain is, folk sound with rock music underneath.  No way, no way, no way will this song make it through to the Final.

Ireland: This is what made Ireland the winningest country in the Contest; beautiful ballads like this.  She will definitely make the Final, every previous winner is almost guaranteed this (and past favorites – Chiara, Sakis Rouvas, Dima Bilan, etc…).  Mrs. Kavanaugh merely needs to tweak some spots vocally, and nothing that will be able to stop Ireland from returning to the Top Ten.

Bulgaria: Are those male dancers oiled up enough, I think I can see my reflection on one of their shoulders, and I am watching online!  The Bulgarians took a page out of Greece’s book by sending a generic pop song with an awesome dance routine.  Problem is, this song has a weird ending, and doesn’t come from Greece.  Expect it to linger behind in the Semis.

Cyprus: Another strong with a strong fan base.  I see why, it’s a captivating song.  It’s a shame so many heavy hitters were stacked up tonight, it forces these medium songs to fight it out for two spots.  Cyprus competes for the golden ticket against Sweden, Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania, even Bulgaria and the Netherlands for one of those spots not taken by a sure bet (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Turkey, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, and Israel).

Croatia: The final favorite of the night.  Wow!  This is awesome.  Feminnem is in it to win it this year.  I can definitely see why they are one of the favorites!  I don’t quite understand why they make a heart at the end, since the song is about a woman cheating on her lover; maybe to show remorse and that she is still in love?  We will definitely see this one again, and, depending on its draw and the draw of some other acts, there odds could sky rocket.

Georgia: This is alright.  I really like the choreography and how it interprets the song.  Too bad the song is generally forgettable.  Due the strength of tonight’s competition, I will predict that this will be Georgia’s first time lingering behind in the Semis.

Turkey: As is typical for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the Turkish entry.  It will obviously move through, as the Turkish Diaspora is probably the largest in Europe.  Not to mention that it is just an awesome song and is quite different than all the other entries.

My Top Ten Who I think will be moving through to the Final
1. Israel Armenia
2. Turkey Israel
3. Croatia Azerbaijan
4. Ireland Denmark
5. The Netherlands Turkey
6. Bulgaria Ireland
7. Denmark Romania
8. Lithuania Croatia
9. Cyprus Cyprus
10. Armenia The Netherlands (it will probably be Sweden, but maybe Europe has fallen in love with the happy tune, let’s hope “Sha-la-lie”)

Interval Act: Was that one of the drag queens from Slovenia 2002 in that video with the sound effects choir (playing the part of the flight attendant waling past the main character)?  Oo, Norwegian hip hop dancing.  By the way, that was an awesome Interval Act!  Yay!  They brought back the tiny version of the hosts, and this time with the senior versions, too!

I realized that I didn’t give my opinion of the Big Four and Norway last time from the short clips: Spain – a waltz!  How awesome, definitely the leading candidate to be this year’s dark horse.  Norway – not bad, but i think it wouldn’tbe getting the kind of favor it has if it wasn’t the host country.  UK – so the song is a little corny, it’s Eurovision, songs are allowed to be corny, get over yourselves all you who hate the entry!  In fact, the UK has won and done quite well with corny songs, like Ireland, the BBC has just returned to its wheelhouse.  France – I agree with a comment from the official website, this is going to be a great summer song, especially with the World Cup coming, but it’s not meant for Eurovision.  It will probably finish in the mid-teens.  Germany – this sounds like it’s gonna be an awesome song, I see why it’s a favorite.  It’s quirky but not too eccentric

Songs that Actually Qualified for the Final

  • Georgia (I guess Cyprus is not going to move through)
  • Ukraine (really?  I guess the controversy wasn’t as big a deterrent as I thought it would be, does that mean Sweden isn’t moving through?)
  • Turkey (1 for 3 so far; no surprise here!)
  • Israel (2 for 4 so far; no surprise here, either!)
  • Ireland (3 for 5 so far; yay!  First Irish entry in the Final since 2007)
  • Cyprus (4 for 6 so far; whoa!  I’m happy, but I think another favorite may fall tonight.)
  • Azerbaijan (5 for 7 so far, no surprise, but now things are getting tight!)
  • Romania (6 for 8 so far; it’s official, another favorite will be going Slovakia on the sidelines on Saturday)
  • Armenia (7 for 9 so far; no surprise, let’s see who wins between Croatia and Denmark)
  • Denmark (8 for 10 so far; too much press to fail)

Final Thoughts: Five favorites to win the Contest performed tonight.  Of those five, two came to win, Israel and Croatia.  I get the idea that Harel Skaat (Israel) hit his ceiling tonight and will only decline on Saturday (or at least only maintain), whereas Croatia seemed like they still had a whole lot more to give.  Unfortunately, Croatia will not have a chance to show this; I cannot believe that Croatia failed to move through!  Oh well, such is life at the Eurovision Song Contest.  I am shocked Ukraine moved through, as it is a very off-center song that I wouldn’t think would get much attention in Europe.  Georgia’s success is not a surprise (especially with Azerbaijan and Armenia on the same night), but I don’t know if I think it should be moving on.  Following that, Sweden had a lot of online support, and it failed to go to the Finals.

To recap, a bookie’s favorite (Croatia) failed to progress tonight as well as a fan favorite (Sweden).  Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Denmark all still have some tweaking to do in order to pose a serious threat to Israel, Germany, or Iceland (who I think stand a great chance of winning given its draw in the running order).  I know on Saturday that all of the singers and dancers will up their game tenfold!  I look forward to this year’s Grand Final with much eagerness and anticipation!!!

Looking Ahead to Saturday: So, two favorites have fallen by the wayside, Croatia and Slovakia.  Slovakia was not that big of a surprise, but Croatia, after the press that Feminnem received, the fact that they were returning to the Contest after having a popular song in 2005, and the fact that they were stellar, was a big surprise.  But, such is life.  Denmark, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, and Germany all still remain in the hunt, along with 20 other countries looking for an upset. Since the second semi-final, Belgium and Albania are both strong contenders according to esctoday.  I don’t know how much I buy this.  I honestly think, given the running order, Germany, Iceland, Armenia, Israel, and Denmark are the top entries to beat, with Germany and Denmark being my the two I have the most faith in.  The last three countries to give votes are Georgia (big points to Armenia, medium points to Germany), Sweden (big points to Denmark, medium points to Germany and Armenia), and Armenia (could shoot themselves in the foot by giving medium/big points to Germany and/or Denmark).  This means that we can see a situation similar to 1998 and 2001, when the final countries to give votes determined the winner.

*So, I just read an interesting article on esctoday about the shifting of power in this year’s Contest.  The Nordic countries are held to only three finalists (apparently, it’s the first Final without Sweden since 1976!), and the former-Yugoslav countries are held to only two (Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina).  Meanwhile, Belgium, Ireland, and Cyprus have all returned to the Final after multi-year absences.  So this could mean…well, a few things, actually.  The selection pots are working at lowering rates of diaspora and same geographic bias in voting by splitting up statistically supported voting blocs.  However, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan were all together on Thursday (whereas Greece was by itself on Tuesday) and that whole little “Barely Europe” bloc is quite strong.  Then there’s the idea that all three countries is putting up entries that are far superior (in the majority’s eyes) than anything from those countries in the past few years.  But then, look at Switzerland.  That country has put up its best acts for the last four years running, gained a strong fan base, and lingered behind in the Semis each time.  A post dedicated to the Swiss will be the one of my first after the Contest is over.  One more possible answer, people.  Niamh Kavanaugh is a former winner, so she was pretty much expected to make it to the Final.  Tom Dice and Jon Lilygreen are both cute, young, emotive singers, which plays well with the large teeny bopper (think 8-16 year old girls) that like that sort of thing — and their style speaks to the 16-25 year old population that seems to be really into this acoustic movement that is sweeping into pop music.  I don’t know, but then Sweden would have moved trough with this logic.  Who knows?  What do y’all think?

(A link to the article: http://esctoday.com/news/read/15869)


Predictions!!!

Howdy Readers!  I realize that last time I wimped out; I didn’t give you all solid predictions.  Now that I can say that the Contest is later this month, I wanted to provide my updated predictions.  I also wanted to give you all a road map to the remaining pre-Contest posts.  It will start with the prediction post.  Next week, I will add my commentary from the Eurovision 2008 Contest, and the following week I will add my notes from the 2009 Contest.  I wanted to do this so you all would get an understanding of what I like and expect from the Contest; so you know what to expect from my live commentary on this year’s Contest.  The final pre-Contest post will be updated predictions for each of the semi-finals.  I will then have live commentary for each semi-final and an updated prediction for the Grand Final.

So, onwards to these predictions!

First Semi-Final

Qualifiers: Slovakia (it’s actually a favorite to win by many fans and bookies!), Belgium (the song has been generally well-received; it’s time for them to qualify out of the semis), Greece (because it’s Greece, and its a party song), Iceland (another well-received), Finland (Europe likes folk music), Estonia (I truly believe that this will be a dark horse entry-an entry that gets little attention before the Contest, but does really well, like ICE2009), Latvia (the jury will boost her score), Albania (another up-tempo song amidst ballads), Bosnia & Herzegovina (another one that will be boosted by the jury…and diaspora voting), Russia (because it’s Russia).

Going home: Moldova (they’re starting the show!), Serbia (the comments have been almost universally negative!), Poland (comments rate it as boring), Malta (critics say that her voice isn’t strong enough for the song), Portugal (see Poland), Macedonia (I haven’t found much of anything on this entry), Belarus (generally received as pleasant, but not great)

Second Semi-Final

Qualifiers: Armenia, Israel, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Croatia (these are five favorites, along with Germany and Slovakia), Sweden (also fairly popular), Ireland (c’mon, she’s a former winner!), Georgia (Georgian entries tend to be well-received), Romania (not necessarily popular, but it is doing surprisingly well in online polls), Turkey (because it’s Turkey)

Going home: Lithuania (too far out for many fans), Switzerland (because it’s Switzerland – though, like their last five entries, this will probably be a big fan favorite after the Contest), Ukraine (too much controversy this year), the Netherlands (even the Dutch hate this song), Slovenia (just not a lot of positive response), Bulgaria (most reviews = too boring), Cyprus (too many guys with guitars, and BiH and Belgium are getting a more press — could qualify at the expense of Georgia or Romania)

Grand Final

Finish with a respectable placing (Top 14) – Germany (it is already a favorite), Norway (nothing but positive comments), France (it’s vastly different than any other entry)

Finish with shame (Bottom Ten) – Spain (really bad draw position, poor reception from fans), United Kingdom (one of this year’s biggest stories is how most Britons hate this entry)

Top Five:

Denmark, Armenia, Germany, Israel, Croatia

There you go, my predictions, I am sure they will change as we get closer to the Contest, but here is where I stand now.  Comments?  Questions?  Concerns?