Funny how those weeks between the last entry being chosen and Eurovision itself seem to last forever. Tossing and turning, looking at every entry from every angle… Until that first semi somehow manages to overturn almost everything we were nearly sure about, cause as always reality trumps fiction (pun may or may not be intended). And also: ah yeah yeah, FUEGO.
Reports from Lisbon – I’ve bought my own house last year so I probably won’t be attending the event live anytime soon *insert random Grey’s Anatomy crying scene here* – were quite conflicting as to who would qualify or not, so the flutter of excitement was tangible over here. Not in the least because semi 1 was going to be the Semi of Death of this year’s edition anyway, and La Belgique was going to be in the eye of the hurricane.Or so we hoped.
We also hoped Portugal would prove an enthousiastic host, with that whopping 54 year wait for that host status, and they (sort of) delivered. There’s been much ado about the stage this year and I don’t really get the fuss to be honest. What it lacks in LED charisma they make up for in on-screen effects and lighting extravaganza – whether the effects are quite as effective (ha!) is still up for debate but the lack of LED’s and the abundance of black doesn’t really bother me. The ‘creativity’ of some delegations to compensate said lack of LED’s is another matter entirely however *glares at Belarus*.
Back to Planet Portugal (LOVED that cookoo bit), where all sorts of attempts were made to be on par with the successsful balance between being serious and being funny that was struck in 2016. Only RTP felt the need to get four hosts aboard – I already felt three was a crowd. The black jumpsuit woman and the green room host (I’m sure I’ll get their names right in my final review) would have sufficed – thumbs up for the abundance of girl power though, however light that power may have been at times.
One other thought before going over to the songs: totally adoring the sea theme, and most notably the coral flags. My inner snorkler and Finding Nemo fan are very pleased, very pleased indeed.
Now, let’s get to the essence: the participants. There were always going to be surprise qualifiers and heartbroken delegations, and I got my fair share of both in one evening. Contrarily to my preview post, where I got only six qualifiers right, I managed to predict nine yesterday! My only mistake was keeping in Armenia instead of Finland – quite happy though that I dared to exclude usual suspects such as Greece and Azerbaijan. And I feared the wost for our own SENNEK, not too happy about getting that right. Only got seven right in my personal top ten though. As far as favorites go, I didn’t feel Israel and Czechia at all – way too Junior for my liking. Totally adored Cyprus in a Hadise kind of way, but I was mostly impressed by Bulgaria – all of a sudden I’m feeling this 100% and I’m completely #TEAMEQUINOX (for now). Didn’t quite see that coming. I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts on the qualifiers for my final review, here’s what I had to say about the ones that are packing their suitcases as we speak:
- AZERBAIJAN: So soulless and mechanical – Aisel was channeling Zafura and Ell & Nikki in one go and we ended up with fifty shades of MEH. The running around, the posing, the on screen effects – it all felt like a diversion for the lack of decent vocals and a decent song. Had this bottom three in my personal ranking, ever so happy (though equally amazed) that this rightfully didn’t qualify ànd that I managed to predict that.
- ICELAND: It was never going to go anywhere and even with Ari channeling Johnny Logan it was so sugary sweet it made me barf. The suit was probably the best thing about this – thing is, I actually like the suit. But hey. Probably the most obvious non qualifier of the semi.
- BELGIUM: Ever since rehearsals began I felt a shadow growing – and yesterday’s performance only confirmed my fears. SENNEK was vocally on point and looked solid at the start but then it all backfired. Satellite stage, wide shots, overacting and ‘missing cameras’ – I’m using quotes cause I kinda feel that those shots from almost every angle showing SENNEK’s head except her face were deliberate. You know, being arty and all that jazz. It was more Trijntje Oosterhuis than Common Linnets unfortunately and I am sad to say that I predicted this NQ correctly.
- BELARUS: Vocally and manually shaky, and visually so OTT that it wasn’t even fun anymore. No really, stop this kind of nonsense, Belarus.
- FYROM: Have you ever thought about it, it went not far enough and now there’s no way back? A firm contender for this year’s Barbara Dex award – for both outfits – and that’s about the only way this’ll go down as a remarkable Eurovision entry. Amateur level at best.
- CROATIA: My personal number three – I loved the sultry and sexy vibe and the way Franka performed it. But it fell flat two or three times along the way, which is the death of any entry so that NQ didn’t really come as a surprise.
- GREECE: This came right behind Austria and the lack of backings on stage in both entries really made me grind my teeth – it’s okay when the backings aren’t a major part of the song (see: Belgium). But for this song especially we needed more than just Yianna on stage, she simply didn’t do enough to command that stage on her own and the overall effect with all those vocal layers was really weird and empty. Especially since Yianna wasn’t vocally all there. This could’ve been a reall contender if they’d have taken a different approach – doesn’t matter if this was only plan C or D. A big disappointment, and a just NQ.
- ARMENIA: The shock NQ for me. Had it in my personal top 5 and it’s the only one I missed in my predictions – thought the juries would eat this up. Shame on going all Gerard Joling on the high note though (ie. avoiding it at all cost). I’ll miss this on Saturday.
- SWITZERLAND: I ain’t throwing stones when I say this was too non-descript to ever threaten the top ten. The chorus was almost interesting, the rest not so much. Quintessential Swiss almost. Anyone surprised they didn’t make it? Nobody? Thought so.
So there we are, semi 1 is already over and done with! Have we learned anything? Yes! I don’t think Israel or Czechia are good enough to walk with it, lower top ten would be my guess. Bulgaria and Estonia seem more likely for a top 5 spot, even if Elina needs to reign in her nerves at the start of the song. And Cyprus is setting this year’s edition on fire but I don’t see her as a front runner yet – don’t think juries will love her the way the viewers at home do. Anyway, bring on semi 2 already!
So, how did you do?