And suddenly it was here: the first semi for this year’s Eurovision – the most magical of all weeks, y’all! After having followed press reports from fans and (self declared) press in Stockholm, and without having watched any of the rehearsals, I was extremely curious to see what reality would look and sound like. And here’s a recap of my thoughts…
First off: amazing production. Unlike many others, I really like the staging this year – the stage itself is relatively simple in design, but offers a lot of versatility (right up my alley *wink-wink nudge-nudge*). The floor especially offers a lot of possibilities, and is a crucial factor in setting the mood for the songs. I feel like most of the camera work is on point, although some delegations would do well to reconsider some of the work they’ve been doing for the past week and a half (I’m looking at you especially, Czech Republic). Others shouldn’t change a thing (Armenia, for example – but more on that further down). Måns & Petra do a swell job, as expected – I don’t know what people’s problem with Petra is, but I think she is simply divine and spot on. The interval act with the refugee dancers was breathtaking and incredible to watch, I found. And I like the tiny touch of personal identity SVT injected for each country through the use of different fonts at the introduction of the songs. All in all a rather satisfying experience, I have to say.
What was also rather satisfying was the fact that I predicted 8 out of 10 qualifiers correctly! Sadly, my personal taste influenced my crystal ball a tad too much, I fear. Still got 7 of my personal top 10, with the little side note of having two out of my top three missing out on the final *cue sad face*. Here’s what I thought of the non-qualifiers (in order of performance):
- Finland: And the Sophie Carle award goes to… My my, Sandhja really fracked that one up didn’t she. The verses were quite okay, but that chorus was vocally and visually all over the place. Add a bad lack of taste in fashion and an ounce of stage fright to the mix and voilà: the most obvious non-qualifier of the evening.
- Greece: I didn’t (and still don’t) like the song, but they managed to sell this quite decently, which led me to believe the Greeks would be able to maintain their 100% qualification record. I’m kinda happy they didn’t though.
- Moldova: Seriously, what were they smoking when they came up with that “concept”. The second Buzz appeared I started laughing – it’s just so ridiculous! Other than that, the entire thing smelled like an entry in Melodifestivalen that would’ve definitely finished last in its semi about a decade ago.
- San Marino: What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? This failed before it even started. Give those backings their own entry – and some rollerskates.
- Estonia: One of my favorite songs in this semi, but boy did he manage to frack it up. He looked like a serial killer and suddenly sounded like one too. And what was with that awful stage act? The ‘magic trick’ was the tipping point: back to oblivion was the only way. Press pause instead of play.
- Montenegro: I always knew this was a lost cause, because it’s simply too non-Eurovision, but boy was this KICK-ASS or what? I really think this was simply ACE, and this was my personal 10 points. Would have loved to see this in the line-up on Saturday, and even though I expected it I’m still gutted that the likes of Malta & Croatia made it over this one. Or Cyprus, which really was too much of rock’n roll wannabe.
- Iceland: Even though I always considered the song to be too repetitive and fickle, I still thought this would sail through. Silly me. Professional rendition of a so-so song that was too all over the place = surprise elimination. My number three of the evening though. Pity.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina: This was all over the place – the stage clothes, the barbed wire drama, the rapping bit… Chaotic drama never hurt anyone, but it never helped anyone either. And Deen needs to tone it down a notch. A big notch.
I quite agreed with the qualifiers, I have to say – even though I don’t get the enthusiasm for Malta & Croatia, and didn’t think the fakeness of Cyprus would convince. Extremely happy with Armenia, Iveta really SERVED IT – and that camera work was spot on! Cheering for Austria as well, which got a lot of positive feedback from non-Eurovision nerds in my circle. Surprised by Azerbaijan, which managed to convince me to even like that plastic nothingness of a song – or was I too surprised by her decent performance after all of those negative reports from rehearsals? And I still can’t see Russia as the obvious winner – it all feels too overdone and calculated, and you can tell he’s thinking about his moves, which makes him disconnect from audience and song. Dunno, it just does so little for me…
Speaking of which: those snippets from the direct finalists didn’t exactly bode well. Those who hoped France would get it right for once (yours truly included) got their reality check: if that snippet is anything to go by, France is going bottom five again. And Spain won’t be far off either. Sweden was… well, Sweden – it’ll still do well. But Amir, my dear Amir… Je suis fort déçu. Already.
Still: bring on semi 2! #cantwait