So, the light stuff has been digested, time for the main course! What happened in the semis & what’s about to happen tonight? Let’s have a look, shall we?
The semis are always evoquing mixed feelings: excitement, as Eurovision week finally gets kicked off officially – but also disappointment, as there usually is quite a load of semi fodder to sit through. This year was no exception at all, sadly. I’ll give a quick look on how my crystal ball worked for the semis, and then I’ll put it to work one last time with my current prediction for tonight’s final. I’ll keep my reviews of this year’s qualifiers for my Grand Final review, will spare a quick thought on those who are probably already back home from Vienna by now…
Not tackling the show elements, will keep that for my Final Review. All in all, I thought this was a pretty horrible semi to sit through to be honest. I only really liked my personal top 4, which makes for only 25% of the songs. Could be better, me thinks. I had 8 out of 10 qualifiers correct, both on personal ànd prediction level – so yay me! Here’s what I thought about the non-qualifiers:
Moldova: Could’ve been delightfully trashy, but ended up just being trashy. Too much fussing about on that construction, the outfits come straight out of some porn pastiche and Eduard’s vocals were all over the place. A just NQ.
Netherlands: Might have been a train (wordgame for the Dutch speakers amongst us) but it ended up being a total carcrash. The experimental camera work didn’t do this any favors, as it came across quite confusing. Seems like Trijntje was confused as well, she seemed really nervous and out of her element. Which didn’t benefit that already yawn inducing nothingness of a song. Suspect this might be the surprise last place of the semi. A just NQ as well.
Finland: I quite liked how hilariously no-nonsense this turned out to be. It’s still amazing how some songs, however short they may be, manage to sound like an eternity. This was a brave attempt at non-compliance, it was simply taken several stretches too far. I went against my gut instinct and put this down as a NQ, so yay for me.
FYR Macedonia: How to screw up a perfectly decent entry, part 632. Almost everything was off here: the backdrop was OK but should have been the video instead, the R&B approach was clumsy and Daniel himself was vocally all over the place. This could’ve done a lot better in a different set-up. Not surprised by his NQ!
Belarus: A bit of a fart in a bottle, this one. So standard, it was probably written by someone who was sleepwalking. Still, it came across much better than beforehand so it got me confused. They both gave us a serious and rather unlikeable mood though, so I should have seen the NQ coming. I always seem to get Belarus wrong. I won’t loose any sleep over thàt, however.
Denmark: It was always in danger, but I have to say I was rather smitten by the end of these three minutes – it just makes me happy in a let’s-go-for-a-walk-and-pick-flowers-even-though-I’m-allergic-and-you-hate-walking kinda way. I’d have picked it over the Albanian atrocity any day. And I’ll mimic those bababab-movements by the backings for months to come.
A better semi than the first one, when it comes to the average points I gave. When it comes to really loving songs, not so much. Quite the average bunch, in other words. I had 8 out of 10 qualifiers correct on a personal level, and even managed to get 9 correct when it comes to prediction! Here’s what I thought about the non-qualifiers:
Ireland: Disappointment, 911! Loved this beforehand, but Molly was so lacking in engagement it totally put me off. She only glanced into the cameras a couple of times, what a mistake-ah to make-ah for such an intimate song. Well, I say intimate, but they really fracked thàt up with that new arrangement. Too bombastic, overshadowed all fragile misguided emotions in this little entry. Missed opportunities aplenty, and I immediately saw this as the NQ it would turn out to be.
San Marino: This was just all kinds of embarrassing, from the fragile vocals over the wonky ‘rap’ to the dated song. A chain of farts, and a stain on Eurovision. If you can’t send anything decent, just pull an Andorra and stay away. Easiest NQ ever.
Malta: My mistake in prediction. Not because I love it, it just seemed like the safest bet looking at the countries that could vote in this semi. I àm happy I got it wrong though, as this was 50 shades of bad. Vocally all over the place (decent last minute, but by then the ship had already gone down), clever stage show (though a tad too wannabe Conchita) but especially that fluff of a song. Powerless warrior, party for one. Bubaai!
Portugal: Lovely first verse, great atmosphere – and then THAT CHORUS HAPPENS. What? The? Hell? Pity, as Leonor really tried her best to sell this for all she’s got – loved that dominatrix dress by the way. Pity she got stuck with THAT CHORUS. Still can’t believe they went there. Not a surprise NQ.
Czech Republic: The upset at Casa Dimivision. Not for me (I had it down as 7th in my personal top ten, and suspected it wouldn’t qualify), but for my two best friends who both gave this their douze. Silly bints. It was always gonna fail, with the amount of chaos that whirls in these mere three minutes. There was no real performance there, just three minutes of shouting and shoe throwing (what the frack?!) so this was always going to be in danger.
Iceland: Simply horrible. I almost always find something to love about the Icelandic entry, but to each rule an exception and this just made me want to destroy things. Over and over again.
Switzerland: So our commentators stated that Mélanie took Jessie Ware as an example for her entry – nice idea, but Ware’s songs are growers so that was a risky move. It comes off as a bleak Ware tribute though, as it doesn’t even manage to keep the attention long enough to get bored by it. Stage act was decent, huzzah for the lack of Pocahontas elements, but never intriguing. Not a surprise NQ either.
The only thing the semis managed to do is reopen the race, which until recently seemed like it would be won with relative ease by a certain country that’s among the title candidates almost every year. Then there’s the matter of the draw, which turned out to be a bit of a surprise – with so many up tempo songs in the first half, and so many slower ones in the second half, I am really curious how things are gonna turn out! I haven’t seen any of the direct finalists, but have got a firm idea on how they might do. So here’s my guess for tonight:
27th: United Kingdom. All kinds of wrong choices – least of all the song.
21st – 26th: Poland (evaporates while it’s on), Albania (screamfest), Armenia (chaos), Montenegro (anonymous in the final), Hungary (zzzzz), Austria (might turn out to be invisible)
16th – 20th: Serbia (too gay to function), France (forgettable), Germany (radio fodder), Spain (too close to Latvia in the line-up), Romania (sweet but zzzzzz)
11th – 15th: Cyprus (sweet enough), Greece (thanks to the rare straight male viewer), Norway (underwhelming), Slovenia (sadly), Lithuania (fun)
6th – 10th: Australia (too bland to really go all the way), Italy (really, who will vote for this to get it top 5?), Azerbaijan (because Bakoo), Israel (pure innocent fun), Georgia (oxymated, shouldn’t be underestimated)
TOP 5: Now it gets really tough – could be any of these 5 I feel:
BELGIUM: I’ve always felt we were in with a shot, but the semi performance confirmed what I suspected – this is very dangerous. If Europe is looking for something fresh & polished, this might just do the trick. Will still give us our best result in years.
ESTONIA: Cursed 4th place still didn’t stop Sertab. This duet is very cleverly staged, a whole different level from their NF performance. Translates the lyrics very well, even for those who only really listen to the chorus.
LATVIA: A bombshell on all levels, and my favorite this year (sorry, Loïc). It’s art, Jim, but not as we know it. Hughely helped by the draw, will stand out a mile and pull a Suus, if not better.
RUSSIA: Much as I hate to admit it (as I still think it’s too much propaganda for its own good), this comes across very strong. Very clever stage presentation, impressive vocals (in the high range, the verses are a bit wonky on occasion) & a Disney atmosphere: could do very well. Still hope it doesn’t go all the way though, for the afore mentioned reason ànd the fact that it’s too formulaïc for my liking.
SWEDEN: Of course. It ticks all the boxes (cute guy, strong voice, nifty stage act), except when it comes to the song which is still too generic I feel. Dunno, it feels mechanical and overrehearsed, but I simply might be too used to it by now.
Still, it’s much more of an open competition than I woud have guessed beforehand. Bring. It. ON! #excited
Have fun y’all, and see you on the other side!!