Posts tagged “semi-final two

Eurovision 2013: Semi-Final Running Order

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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

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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

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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.***