Having had a good run on predicting Semi 1 it was already quite clear before the start Semi 2 would be a much harder nut to crack. Not only was the field far more diverse but there’s always… The Dimi Curse. Ah, karma!
First thought: not being able to vote sucks. Second of all: I still love the hosts, even though their staged jokes are Cliché. Eldar is so cute and smiley, bless. Third: if you can’t honor ABBA properly then don’t do it at all. Or at least take a peak at the lyrics before you give it a go. Fourth: I still wonder why Nikki is portrayed as a singer, she’s just a walking hairspray advert to me. And last but not least: it promises to be a swell final – can’t wait. Even without my grand favorite tonight… Here’s how I felt yesterday:
- Serbia: I still think it’s very odd to see people fake playing instruments but this time it did provide a certain dynamic and it definitely highlighted the richness of the music in this entry. The atmosphere was spot on and Zjelko’s warm voice only enriched it all – that man has a gift to be jealous of. Loved his outfit as well, but then again it’s the style Boyfriend tends to fill his closet with so you can see where I come from. A beautiful opening and with that draw a serious contender for the top 5 – and why not: victory. *gasp*
Personal ranking: 6 – Predicted to qualify: Obviously.
- (FYR) Macedonia: Nigella’s sister knows how to find the right notes well and put a lot of emotion in this entry that is still too two-faced for its own good. It’s only in the last acoustic part it all comes together and that might be too late for the masses. Loved the intervention of the backing vocals however, and The Shriek was fabulous – even though the camera angle at that moment left it out in the cold I feel. Close-up please!! I feared it wouldn’t get through but I am ever so happy it did as I think Kaliopi is simply brilliant.
Personal ranking: 5 – Predicted to qualify: No… (what a mistake-ah to make-ah!)
- Netherlands: Oh, Indiana Joan. How my heart melted for you. I am head over heels in love with this song and her voice, and even though she was shaky at the start she pulled it together as the song progressed and for me the atmosphere was spot on. I thought the headgear was fab and the combination with the dress and the blue accents with those bright blue eyes of hers made it all very sweet. I felt all warm and fuzzy. My objective self was completely overrun by my marshmallow side on this one – I wonder how this would have done in semi 1. I can understand why she didn’t qualify but I would have loved to see this again on Saturday. My bad karma again, sorry Joan!
Personal ranking: 1 – Predicted to qualify: Yes (against all rational arguments).
- Malta: This was always borderline for me but I’ve got to say Kurt did an excellent job on this very average song. The backdrop worked miracles and the feet thing was introduced in a very clever way. Not too keen on the ‘band’ approach though but it did provide enough variety for the camera shots so I get it. Don’t see this troubling the scoreboard on Saturday though. And Kurt, please tell me where you got that yellow glove. In exchange for a telephone vote?
Personal ranking: 11 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Belarus: Pretty posterboys with pretty poor English – I just can’t get past that accent! You’re not the weeners by a long shot, dears. It’s a bit empty really but I liked the pumping beats and the power in the vocals (in the chorus). Not so keen on the sci-fi outfits perhaps but I thought this was a tight performance of an average-ish song. A toss-up between this & Malta… so naturally I went for the wrong one!
Personal ranking: 10 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Portugal: This just screams ‘Senhora do mar’ but it’s a cheap copy to me. I simply do not like the build-up and the chorus, it’s all OTT for me. The lute in the soundmix was far too present and the fussing about by the backings got on my nerves. Luckily Filipa gave a swell performance, both vocally and in presence, so this wasn’t the disaster I expected/feared it would be but I’m just never going to like it.
Personal ranking: 13 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Ukraine: When I read that Ukraine had upped their game again after a bleak NF performance, as they did with their 2010 & 2011 entries, I was ready to be blown away but I’m wondering if I saw the same performance as some of the Baku bloggers. Just how chaotic was this? With the screens and the trumpet players and the headgear and the shouting – too much for my liking. Not keen on the brass section replacing the cheery backings in the chorus I have to say and the only thing I really liked in this performance was Gaitana – they way that woman sings is incredible. Killer draw for her but somehow I don’t see this the contender many others make it up to be.
Personal ranking: 16 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Bulgaria: I don’t care what people say: I loved the approach they took on this song. Dancers and choreography would have made it far too busy, I loved how this came across now and she was far less static then some had portrayed her to be. The backdrop was very effective and her voice made it all come together – too bad those “Dorem dem dem dej” bits took out all the power of the flow. And that outfit was like a Monet: pretty from afar, tacky from up close. I thought this would wipe the floor with Ukraine – silly little me!
Personal ranking: 7 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Slovenia: Despite being almost the same age as our Iris little Eva came across much more mature and powerful – impressed! The interventions by the backing took out a bit of the tempo and we had to wait a bit for the song to really take a flight, a pity. And while I am all for posing those backings took it a bit too far for my taste, but that’s a minor side thought. Overall this came across very strong and even though they didn’t have a lot of friends in this semi this was still a bit of a shock non-qualifier for me.
Personal ranking: 3 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Croatia: Fishing in the same pond as Kaliopi and I fear this was an unequal dual as Nebo is far less catchy and instant as a song. Nina and her team did the best they could and the stage setting was very effective but it still kind of floated by. Too bad, I think miss Badric is a class act who – even with that dress (how very pageant mid ‘90s!). But a bit of a snooze anyway.
Personal ranking: 12 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Sweden: The hardest one to judge – I’ve seen and heard this so much by now I’m getting immune I fear. First off: I was happy to see her face being lit at times and her vocals were fab in the chorus (still mumbling too much in the verses for my liking). I still think the song is too David-Guetta-left-a-demo and I still think the act is nifty but perhaps a bit too arty-farty and by now I can’t even objectively see how this will do on Saturday. I did however have several colleagues come up to me this morning to say they loved this and want it to win (it was the first time they saw and heard it) as they were completely blown away by it, so perhaps I (and many others with me) just have to stick to my gut feeling: who will beat Hurriceen Loreen?
Personal ranking: 2 – Predicted to qualify: Obviously.
- Georgia: Seems like Deen has aged a bit and moved to Tbilisi – didn’t do him any good I’d say. I love the camped up vibe but this was really all over the place, in presentation ànd composition. Chaos with a Capital C. Thank Goddess this didn’t qualify.
Personal ranking: 17 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Turkey: Can Bonomo was a delight to talk to in person but I am no fan when it comes to his style of singing and performing. It comes across really weird and at one point I felt slightly uncomfortable watching this. His voice, his movements, the chorus, the act – this did absolutely nothing for me. How I wish they’d had less friends in this semi.
Personal ranking: 18 – Predicted to qualify: No (risky, I know – but I couldn’t bring myself to do it).
- Estonia: I like the understated studio version and I would have loved to see it being performed in the same way but I have to say Ott’s new take wasn’t necessarily bad – it was just completely different. He went far out in the vocals and was luckily spot on – even though it was too Mariah Carey to completely sweep me off my feet I still think it was a very impressive performance. Still love the female backing joining him mid song. Goosebumps basically.
Personal ranking: 4 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Slovakia: As far as rock goes this was going very niche with this glamrock perspective and I fear dear Max was too much of a lightweight to really sell the song. He came across very confident I have to say but vocally he made some slip-ups that were very hard to ignore. I liked the tempo of it and the boy rightfully flaunted his sexiness but those pants slid down to a very dangerous point – I half expected some people of the organization to come running up the stage with a blanket to cover him up! Not the car crash I was half expecting but not exactly brilliant either.
Personal ranking: 15 – Predicted to qualify: No.
- Norway: Ow Tooji. How I’d hoped you’d be in better vocal form! Some of those high notes really went all foggy sadly and it took away some of the power that blasted off the screen in the performance. You strut your stuff well, girlfriend, and that gorgeous face is one in a million but you’d better pump up the volume for Saturday or the left hand side of the scoreboard will be out of reach. This is the one I had the most doubts about putting in my qualifying prediction – happy I did eventually, I would have scored even worse without it!
Personal ranking: 8 – Predicted to qualify: Yes (but only just).
- Bosnia-Herzegovina: The sleeping pill of the Contest beforehand but Maya managed to convince me yesterday with that beautiful voice of hers. I simply love how she put a lot of emotions in this little song without going overboard and the simplicity of it all worked to its advantage – even that blue backdrop looked gorgeous. Not too sure about the outfit, it’s a bit too early 20th century for my liking but overall I was pleasantly surprised! (Happy now, Ademir?)
Personal ranking: 9 – Predicted to qualify: Yes.
- Lithuania: Performing last was a big advantage for Donny and he can kiss his lucky stars because any other draw would have made it very difficult for this bipolar song to convince I feel. I’m okay with the ballad part but the disco beat in the second half is far too weak and uninspired to wow me. Vocally this was very strong however and even though the thing with the blindfold is still contrived for me but it did put the emphasis on his gorgeous eyes. But I’m not a fan.
Personal ranking: 14 – Predicted to qualify: No.
So I had 6 out of my personal 10 and 6 out of my predictions. I’ve done worse actually but I wouldn’t exactly call it my proudest moment. Things turned out to be as I half expected them to turn out beforehand but I would have loved to have seen it shaken up a bit more I guess. Anyway, I’m extremely happy Macedonia & Estonia made it through so all in all I am indeed a happy campy bunny.
As for the final tomorrow: I really haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen. I still think Loreen could walk with it. I haven’t heard or seen Italy and Azerbaijan in their final form but for me they could be in the shake-up as well. Of course there’s Russia and if I get granted one wish I’d like for them to end up anywhere but on top. When it comes to the draw I think Serbia might be dangerous but I don’t see it as a winner right now. And I’ve fallen in love with the trash that is Cyprus so I wouldn’t mind Ivi doing well. I love the fact that it’s such an open race so it promises to be entertaining no matter what. I’ll launch the poll this afternoon, curious to see what you guys think!