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Semi Final 2 Review

Macedonia Semi 2

Qualifiers: Lithuania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Estonia, Malta, Turkey

Azerbaijan are going for the whole ‘light your fire’ as the slogan for this years contest. Semi Final 1 lit that fire in style and substance, so much so it would give the Olympic torch a run for its money. Then came Semi Final 2 and that fire was damped so much it’s lucky the spark is still there.

And it always shows that running order and diaspora will always help, in no other world would Bosnia & Herzegovina have been able to qualify. As dullness goes, it was right up there, and should never have qualified, but well, it did. And at the expense of some decent songs as well. Eva Boto for Slovenia was pretty spectacular, she didn’t look like a 16 year old singing, more like a professional, but she failed to make it, and for that I will always blame Bosnia. Seemingly no matter what Bosnia send, they will qualify with ease anyway. Sigh.

And likewise with Lithuania, sure it’s a lot better than the Bosnian entry, but I struggle to see that qualifying if that wasn’t dead last. It’s even quite enjoyable once he gets past the ‘blindfold’ part, which is a positive. Ukraine, like usual, probably qualified with ease, but unlike Bosnia, they have sent a song I’d have probably sent through as well. Especially in this semi final. It’s upbeat, and while her singing is a bit annoying, it’s a nice change to have.

The expected also qualified, and it was quite a risk announcing Turkey at the very end. The song is nowhere near up my street, I can’t stand the singer or the lyrics, but being Turkey and certainly being very popular in this region will always help. Serbia, fronted by Mr. Slick himself, produced a charming, and slightly more relaxed opening than what we saw on Tuesday night. Sweden looked pretty impressive on the stage, but I have my doubts if it is the favourite everyone claims it to be. It will be a good challenger, and is clearly a unique song starting from a fantastic position. Norway looked slick on screen, even if I wasn’t terribly impressed with his vocals.

I was though still delighted for Macedonia and Malta. Kaliopi sung her heart out and it really was a fantastic change from the slow ballads in the first half of the draw, I certainly enjoyed it and I was delighted to see it qualify. I’ve liked Kurt Calleja as a bit of a guilty pleasure from the start, his performance last night justified a top 10 finish without a doubt.

There are very few choices I disagree with from those who qualified, but considering it was just such a weak selection of choices, it still remains uninspiring.

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Semi Final 1 Review

Moldova Semi 1

Qualifiers: Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Russia, Ireland

So we’re underway for the 2012 Song Contest, with, lets be honest, a rather unsurprising ten progressing. Ultimately the first semi-final had such a strong selection of songs that any of the ten were likely to be quite good songs, and that is certainly the case with what was chosen at the end.

I am devastated with two songs failing to make it, for me, Israel’s entry, Time, was brilliant, and one of my favourite ones of the whole contest. But it failed to make it and I’m kind of unsure why, the stage performance seemed highly competent, and arguably more people decided they didn’t like it rather than they did. The stage show was completely bonkers, but in a rather brilliant way, this failing to qualify is the greatest injustice since InCulto in 2010. In another sense, I was both surprised by the performance of Switzerland as well, although I would have much rather watched it live in the arena rather than on television. It looked fantastic, and the Sinplus boys took to the stage magnificently and had huge interaction of the audience. Although it’s in my personal top 10 from the night, you can see why it lost votes with the viewers at home, and even the juries. Little care was given to the camera, and vocally, they weren’t singing ‘Swim against the stream’, which maintains to be my biggest gripe about the whole song.

I’m hardly surprised Albania qualified meanwhile, it was always borderline and no doubt the juries gave this the top marks. It certainly is not my cup of tea, and Rona Nishliu seemed rather insistent on trying to permanently damage my ear drums, but it’s something the juries are going to go for, instead of say, San Marino (who, in a brief summary, we’re even worse than I thought possible).

Cyprus is arguably the only one I’m disappointed that it qualified. I thought Ivi Adamou’s vocals were especially poor, and were very lucky to qualify especially that a similar song of its like, Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou, also qualified to the final. Eleftheria was far from perfect too, although she had combined the art of singing and dancing better than Ivi had, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Greece were much higher up the order.

I’m amazed Romania qualified too, but not because I dislike the performance. It’s clear Elena had technical difficulties with her earpiece (her rather frustrated pointing to it and subsequent throwing it away showing it), and the vocal performance was very out of place because of it. Everything else about it was spot on, and I think Mandinga are breathing a very loud sigh of relief that it wasn’t as serious as I thought it was going to be. On a similar note, I’m glad the lead singers vocals for Hungary have improved since the last time I heard them live, they really helped carry the song and I did enjoy it for once.

I find there is little to add about Denmark and Iceland, both were performed well, but I do feel there is a growing complacency around the Danish camp, and I’m not enjoying it as much as I did when I first heard it back at the Melodi Grand Prix. Greta and Jonsi, for me, were easily the best performers of the night. Although, I would say that anyway.

As always, I fail to see the appeal of Jedward, but once again, they helped Ireland get into the final for the third year in a row (first time since 2004), probably getting wet helped them quite a bit. And Russia, I’ve never seen a crowd at Eurovision so enthusiastic and love a song as much as they loved the Russian grannies, they were adorable to watch, and they have the benefit that the audience in the arena loves them, the audience watching on television loves them. I’m now terrified though that they could win this whole thing.

The big winners, for me though, were Moldova, my word was that fun! And their running order (more of that later) is so good, I am very tempted to go for a very good finish from this song. It was fantastic!

And a brief thought on the rest, Austria really could have done with more woki-ing of the popo’s, Finland could have been less boring, Latvia could have been less condescending and Montenegro, well, couldn’t really have done anything else.

So apart from swapping Israel and Switzerland for Cyprus and Ireland, this top 10 is very similar to what I would’ve sent, and arguably, I have no complaints with that. No doubt that will all change when the Second Semi Final comes around.

Along with the semi final, the running order for the final was announced. The big winners from this were Ireland (23rd) and Moldova (26th), who will be especially helped if a couple of ballads come through and take their position. Ireland have shot from a potential non-qualifier to a top 10 prospect in the space of 2 hours.

On the other end of the scale, Hungary drew the ‘position of death’ (2nd), where no one has ever won before, followed by Albania (3rd), and with the show being opened by Engelbert Humperdinck, it’s a rather low-tempo start for Eurovision yet again, and some decent news for the UK at least. Russia (6th) and Iceland (7th) have also struggled with a bad draw, but I suspect not many people are going to forget Russia that easily.

Cyprus (8th) start a set of strong female vocals, hampering France and Italy after, and Romania (14th) start after one of the breaks. Denmark (15th) and Greece (16th) have fairly average draws.

So that’s Semi Final One down with, and 18 more songs will try and force themselves into the remaining ten places in the final. If you agree or disagree with anything, don’t be afraid to share it in the comments.

New Team Championship Mid-Season Review: The Drivers

It’s the summer break, twelve races down and just seven more to go in this season. Now, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and the like can battle all they like for the World Championship, the only one I care about however is the one involving Lotus, Hispania and Virgin Racing. Its been an interesting twelve races, some have been mighty impressive, others have failed to shine. So here we look at the seven drivers who have raced so far this season:

Sakon Yamamoto:

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 24: Sakon Yamamoto of Japan and Hispania Racing Team prepares to drive during qualifying for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 24, 2010 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images) Hispania. 7th place, 3 points.

He could go down as one of the most unpopular drivers on the grid. None his own doing, he just happens to have a bag of cash to help the struggling Hispania along. But he replaced two of the most popular drivers on the grid and compared to both of them, has looked distinctly average. He has set the slowest time in all three of his races and was last in both races he finished. The race in Germany was a particular low, switching on the pitlane limiter to start the race and retiring by pressing the fire extinguisher switch. Not impressive at all.

Bruno Senna:

July 29, 2010 - Budapest, Hungary - BRUNO SENNA (BRA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT), Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations.

Hispania. 6th place, 22 points.

It is a slow car the Hispania, but Karun Chandhok has shown how to score high points despite all of that. Sadly however, Senna hasn’t managed to match the reliability of Chandhok. He has six retirements to his name in just eleven races, the worst start to finish ratio out of anyone. Sure his lack of race seat at Silverstone didn’t help, but he would still be comfortably in sixth place either way. The issue with Senna is when he does finish, so does everyone else.

Lucas di Grassi:

Apr. 01, 2010 - Sepang, Malaysia - (L to R): Bruno Senna (BRA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) with LUCAS DI GRASSI (BRA) Virgin Racing..Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations.

Virgin Racing. 5th place, 36 points.

Looking at the facts, it hasn’t been too bad for di Grassi. Only recently has his team mate overtaken him and the standings and he certainly hasn’t been humiliated by him either. Yes, his qualifying record stands at a dysmal 1-12, but come race time, that changes to 5-7, that is fairly close. But the thing with that is Glock’s poor finishing record, when Glock has finished, di Grassi has only finished ahead of him once. He is second best to the German clearly.

Timo Glock:

May 27, 2010 - 05963608 date 30 05 2010 Copyright imago Crash Media Group Thursday Timo Glock ger Virgin Racing VR 01 Turkish Grand Prix 28 30 May 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK motor aviation men Formula 1 F1 F World Cup GP Turkey Istanbul Portrait Vdig 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd.

Virgin Racing. 4th place, 38 points.

If we look at pace, Timo is up there with the Lotus cars, his qualifying has always been the third best of the new teams and in Hungary he even managed to get above them. But when it comes to the race he has been poor. He didn’t even finish one until the Spanish Grand Prix, ever since then he has been solid, and so far has yet to pick up less than 4 points from when he has finished, an achievement only managed by the current leader. Good times should be coming for Glock and the top 3 isn’t too far away.

Jarno Trulli:

June 13, 2010 - Montreal, Canada - Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus on the grid...Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, Canadian Grand Prix, Race.

Lotus. 3rd place, 42 points.

I’m not really too sure what to make of Trulli’s performance so far this season. They have all been very mixed. He has his good performances, but then also has his bad ones. Our best bet is to compare him to his team mate Heikki Kovalainen. His strength in qualifying is being beaten by Kovalainen. Race wise he is also well behind. He may be top 3 but I don’t think he is having the best season that he could be having, is Jarno Trulli way past his best?

Karun Chandhok:

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 24: Karun Chandhok of India and Hispania Racing Team is seen before the final practice session prior to qualifying for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 24, 2010 in Hockenheim, Germany. (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)

Hispania. 2nd place, 45 points.

The lovable Karun Chandhok, the fans favourite but ultimately not Hispania’s favourite. His ten races have been brilliant, if we forget Bahrain. He has retired just the twice, and for a new team, and in a Hispania, that is impressive, and one of those being the fault of another driver. This series rewards consistency more than speed, this is why Chandhok looks good, he has treated the Hispania car so very well and even after missing two races, Trulli, Glock, di Grassi, they still haven’t caught up with him. Sadly though, with the improving reliability of all three teams, even if he is in the car at Spa, I can see him sliding down the order.

Heikki Kovalainen:

NORTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 08: Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and Lotus talks to the media in the paddock during previews to the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone on June 8, 2010, in Northampton, England. (Photo by Malcolm Griffiths/Getty Images) Lotus. 1st pace, 56 points.

One word, brilliant. You want another one? Dominant. Five wins and one second place. When he has finished, he has finished well. He is the quickest out there by a mile, even if he has one of the worst reliability records. I said on Chandhok this series is based on reliability, well Kovalainen has made the statement look irrelevant. The fact he has a habit of not finishing races is the only reason why he isn’t over 30 points in front.