Finally it’s here: Eurovision week! We’ve just survived semi 1 and of course I’ve got a couple of things to say – so let’s get cracking!
First of all some thoughts on the organisation of course! The stage design looks modern, like a cool update of the 1993 stage. Don’t know how I feel about those thick white frames everywhere but I do like the effective use of the LED screens (yay!) and the lighting is often nothing short of AMAZING (hello Albania!). Nice direction, a couple of tweaks to be made perhaps, and I adore the way the country flags are set-up with the exterior of the Crystal Hall. A very nice job all in all, even by the presenters. Eldar looks great and comes across very sweet and both ladies are quite classy. Too bad about those lame ‘I do not speak French’ jokes. But I’ll forgive them, out of the generosity of my heart. Now – on to the main event: the songs!
- Montenegro: This scared off a lot of viewers I reckon. Must be the worst opening of the Contest ever. The first ten seconds were cool, the rest of it anything but. He came across like a drunk – and there’s no guarantee he actually wasn’t by the look of things. Awful.
Personal ranking: 17 – Predicted to qualify: A clear NO.
- Iceland: Thank heavens they went for the dark approach, it suits this bombastic song very well and the backdrop only enhanced the atmosphere. Jonsi looked HOT and even though he was a bit shaky at the start he managed to come around and deliver. Greta was very much on par vocally and the blended voices sounded great. My clear favorite yesterday, don’t know how this’ll do in the final though, coming right after Russia. Wouldn’t mind a top 3 though.
Personal ranking: 1 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Greece: Well this was cheating, how much did that backing in the shadows absorb? This had Javine written all over it: kind of ok but fake and empty. Eleftheria shakes her moneymakers very well but I’m not a fan.
Personal ranking: 15 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Latvia: I can see what they tried to do, but as Boyfriend rightfully said it was all a bit primary school. Anmary looked at least a decade older than she actually is and the whole thing was a bit of a mess really. Such a pity, as I feel the vocals were spot on and the light humor in the song is cute. It just didn’t translate at all.
Personal ranking: 9 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Albania: All right, I get it now. I wasn’t a big fan of this until I met her in Amsterdam and now I fully see the beauty of this entry, which got a bit of an extra dimension with that tragic accident in Albania. Visually this was really stunning, although I’m not a fan of those blue pieces of fabric, and Rona gave a bit of a Malificent-meets-Björk vibe. Very interesting and impressive and I loved how the crowd was going wild over it. Goosebumps.
Personal ranking: 3 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Romania: I don’t see a potential winner in this I’m afraid, but perhaps it was in fact all due to the earpiece drama. The sexiest woman in the Contest (sic) didn’t look all that hot to me with that clownesque make-up on and she was out of breath about halfway in so my enthusiasm has faded a bit. Still think it’s a nice summer tune but they’ll have to tighten the performance if they want to trouble the top ten…
Personal ranking: 8 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Switzerland: “Cute but boring” is what I wrote on my score sheet and I firmly stand behind that – it’s impressive how some countries manage to make 3 minutes sound like 6. The Sinplus team looked great, I want the singer’s outfit, and vocally all went fine but it got dull after the first chorus which was then repeated countless times. Plus I still get annoyed by that accent.
Personal ranking: 12 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Belgium: I think that went quite well actually – our Iris did a swell job (certainly for a 17 year old) but the song just didn’t convince. I still think this is better than Portugal 2010 on every level and I had her down as the surprise qualifier but I have to admit that Would You seriously lacked impact and Iris’ Cinderella sweetness simply couldn’t make up for it.
Personal ranking: 7 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Finland: My favorite song going into the semi but Pernilla looked so disconnected and I hated the color combination – I would have gone for a more fairytale atmosphere, but who am I? She was kind of nervous at the start but got better as the song progressed and I loved the wide shots from behind. Still a lovely song with beautiful lyrics but it felt a bit sterile sadly. She was cursed anyway, being my favorite. I’m sorry for having done that top you, Pernilla. Bad karma I guess.
Personal ranking: 4 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Israel: A prime example of how you can frack up a great song. I want to slap them all, and I don’t know whether to start with those two prancing backings (how very Israel they are, didn’t they learn anything from the past?) or that tart on keyboard. She doesn’t look like she wants to be there at all and I would have loved it if they’d left her in Tel Aviv. This was my disappointment of the evening.
Personal ranking: 14 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- San Marino: Quite simply a disgrace.
Personal ranking: 18 – Predicted to qualify: Heeeell to the no!
- Cyprus: One of those I kind of disregarded before the Contest but Ivi managed to convince me with that vibrant performance. Not too keen on the beige outfits and the thing with the table but she and the girls strutted and posed their bottom’s off and I loved the energy. Was pleasantly surprised by her vocals and I loved the male backing vocal, a nice extra dimension to this not so very deep dance track. But still: eat that, Greece.
Personal ranking: 5 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Denmark: I expected way more of this but all I could think during Soluna’s performance was: Hello, Anna Bergendahl? I get the set-up (a few friends jamming in the basement) but it all looked very random and a bit messy and the beautiful melancholy of the studio version was a bit lost. And I still hate that outfit. Great vocals though. My only miss in my prediction, I thought this would fall flat on its Popo but I still kind of liked it. Mixed feelings over here!
Personal ranking: 6 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Russia: The living proof of how the circle of life works – you get childish again when you grow old. I don’t like this at all, the chorus is catchy but so flat it makes me… kind of angry actually. This is a SONG Contest after all. Yes, the grannies are cute but with those awful 30 first seconds and the lack of a genuine song I simply cannot support this. By now I’ve got this feeling that says: anyone but them on Saturday, pretty please. And how they milk the little one, tsk!
Personal ranking: 16 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Hungary: Another pre-Contest favorite and I was very happy with how this came across. The verses were a bit lackluster and Csaba Walkó was very nervous at the start but the chorus was as hypnotizing as I remember it being the first time I saw/heard it and the vocals were surprisingly powerful. I loved the energy, they played with the stage set-up and camera angles really well and the part on the catwalk gave it a nice involved layer. Very happy this got through, too bad they drew The Place Of Doom for the final…
Personal ranking: 2 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Austria: Now, this I liked very much beforehand but something was off yesterday – is it the lack of backing vocals in the chorus? It all went a bit Titanic for me: the act wasn’t dynamic enough, the LED’s were a mistake (hasn’t Hungary 2011 taught you anything?) and the vibe simply wasn’t strong enough. Still like both guys though, they did as good a job as they could’ve done but the overall package just didn’t come across – sadly.
Personal ranking: 11 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Moldova: Ever since Amsterdam I’ve had a sneaking regard for this one and judging by the comments of bloggers in Baku I was right but when I saw this yesterday I was a bit flabbergasted as it was all over the place. That act is really disturbing, taking away the attention of what is otherwise a cracking performance by a really cute and confident singer. It’s Serbia 2010 all over again, help!
Personal ranking: 13 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Ireland: Don’t know what to think of that hairdo actually, I liked the spikey one! But that wasn’t the most distracting thing – that fountain was. How tacky and out of place, good lord! It was too omnipresent for my liking and took away the attention Jedward so obviously need. It’s not the best song in the field but it got going quite nicely and the twins delivered as I suspected they would. The backings were tight and it was funny to hear that there was no difference in sound at all when the twins stopped singing those last 10 seconds in the fountain. Don’t see this troubling the top 10 however, even with that very good draw in the final…
Personal ranking: 10 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
So there you go: 7 of my personal top 10 made it but I managed to predict 9 – I don’t think that’s ever happened actually!
I’m not all that disappointed by the result, I think the 10 that qualified deserve to be there (bar Greece perhaps – I’ll leave Russia out of this discussion). I guess RTBF has got their work cut out for them, after Witloof Bay & Iris it’s time to focus again and think internationally. Curious to see what semi 2 will bring (a truckload of Balkan I presume). Can’t wait!
Feel free to share your thoughts as well by the way!