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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 2 Predictions

Netherlands Semi 2

I got eight out of ten for the first semi final, so with any luck, I will be quite good at guessing at who is going to qualify. No, Georgia is not a typo.

Pos Nation Song
1 Serbia Nije Ljubav Stvar (Željko Joksimović)
2 Norway Stay (Tooji)
3 Ukraine Be My Guest (Gaitana)
4 Sweden Euphoria (Loreen)
5 Estonia Kuula (Ott Lepland)
6 Slovenia Verjamem (Eva Boto)
7 Macedonia Crno i belo (Kaliopi)
8 Turkey Love Me Back (Can Bonomo)
9 Georgia I’m a Joker (Anri Jokhadze)
10 Portugal Vida minha (Filipa Sousa)
  —–Non-Qualifiers—–
11 Netherlands You and Me (Joan Franka)
12 Belarus We Are the Heroes (Litesound)
13 Croatia Nebo (Nina Badric)
14 Malta This is the Night (Kurt Calleja)
15 Slovakia Don’t Close Your Eyes (Max Jason Mai)
16 Lithuania Love Is Blind (Donny Montell)
17 Bosnia & Herzegovina Korake ti znam (MayaSar)
18 Bulgaria Love Unlimited (Sofi Marinova)

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.

Semi Final 1 Predictions

Israel Semi 1

Here we are then, in just a few hours the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku kicks off with the first of two semi-finals, deciding the first ten songs that will head on into the final. The juries have sent their votes off after watching the second dress rehearsal last night and it’s just time for the big two hour show to impress the voters from home.

The order of the first semi-final can be found on the right hand side of this page, and all these countries can vote in this one, along with hosts Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain. So, while I can’t vote (I can’t even watch it live) here are my predictions for the first semi-final (not who I want in the final it must be said, as much as I’d love to see San Marino make it…), in the order that we’ll find out at the conclusion of the final. Belgium is not a typo, either.

Pos Nation Song
1 Iceland Never Forget (Greta Salome & Jonsi)
2 Russia Party for Everybody (Buranovskiye Babushki)
3 Denmark Should’ve Known Better (Soluna Samay)
4 Greece Aphrodisiac (Eleftheria Eleftheriou)
5 Romania Zaleilah (Mandinga)
6 Israel Time (Izabo)
7 Hungary Sound of Our Hearts (Compact Disco)
8 Ireland Waterline (Jedward)
9 Moldova Lautar (Pasha Parfeny)
10 Belgium Would You? (Iris)
  —–Non-Qualifiers—–
11 Albania Suus (Rona Nishliu)
12 Switzerland Unbreakable (Sinplus)
13 Cyprus La La Love (Ivi Adamou)
14 Latvia Beautiful Song (Anmary)
15 Austria Woki mit deim Popo (Trackshittaz)
16 Finland Nar jag blundar (Pernilla Karlsson)
17 Montenegro Euro Neuro (Rambo Amadeus)
18 San Marino The Social Network Song (Valentina Monetta)

Eurovision Sofa: Semi Final Two

imageAnd all that is left is the final 25. A further 9 countries have been told that they were simply not good enough and now its all down to the finals.

I’ll get my clear and obvious bias out of the way first. Romania, with a singer from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, North East England, qualified. Get in there, what a result, wooooooohhoooooo. Simply brilliant on the night I thought and it was impossible not to like. Trousers possibly needed a bit of work on them.

And lets calm down a little bit now, it did feature very few shocks and 9 out of the 10 finalists I can see how they got there. The odd one out is Moldova, who, with their crazy hats and similarly crazy song somehow managed to find themselves in. They had the energy and certainly enjoyed themselves out there. It wasn’t Epic Sax Guy (who is?). But, really, better than say Bulgaria, or even Latvia.

Those two countries were the ones I was most impressed with on the night, but they both failed to qualify. I personally hadn’t rated Latvia for a while but they showed up for the semi final and slightly disappointed they didn’t get through. Bulgaria for me was a top 5 song on the night, the lack of them in the top 10 also makes me slightly sad.

The expected qualifiers of Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland all put out good performances. Sweden managed to get their fantastic glass explosion working this time but frankly, it doesn’t really fit in well. Estonia wasn’t too bad albeit it did sound a bit shouty towards the end. Ireland was vocally terrible, but we expected that didn’t we? They had so much energy they could power Ireland for a year. Denmark for me was the best, and despite the insane decision to run all the way down the catwalk and back again, which ruined about two lines of the song vocally. But apart from that look like the country to beat.

Sadly, the rather lovely TWiiNS didn’t make it. They were even worse than Jedward in terms of vocals, probably needed one or two more close ups. Just saying.

My final thought is this, the Netherlands sent there best possible chance in years to qualify yet they didn’t make it. Will they ever qualify out of the semi final? And will they keep bothering with Eurovision considering their results?

Eurovision Sofa: Semi Final One

image

And so it begins.

And for nine of them its over before it could really get going. So where did it all go right and where did it all go wrong?

The biggest shocks of the night certainly can be awarded to Turkey and Norway. Stella Mwagani is probably a bit easier to explain why she didn’t qualify, and I reckon it might have a lot to do with her vocals. She isn’t an impressive singer and that might not have gone down well with the jury vote, which is responsible for 50% of the vote. On the night itself it wasn’t that much better, and I really had expected this one to stand out being all cheery and happy. But that never came from Norway, and after an underwhelming start by Poland, the stage was all set for Stella to go out and give it all, and it just never happened.

Turkey and Yüksek Sadakat though, I really can’t explain what happened. Sure it wasn’t as good as maNga from last year, but I (and many others) had this down as nailed on qualifier and certainly was all set to do well on Saturday. What happened? Really, anyone out there? It baffles me, maybe it was the ridiculous outfit he had decided to wear, or even it just didn’t appeal to the masses (which surprises me as it certainly was different on the night and a better song than the other rock effort, Georgia). And now, poor old Yuksek has the unfortunate tag of being the only Turk not to qualify for the final.

Many people are also counting Armenia in this category, but despite nicking half the set of Rocky III, this was never good in the first place.

So those were the shocks that failed to qualify, what about the big surprises who did qualify? For me the big two I didn’t see coming were Lithuania and Georgia. Lithuania for me sent me to sleep first time I listened to it and still sends me asleep to this day. But like Armenia last year, they found something to keep (the male viewers) interested. Georgia certainly pulled out the stops and for me, probably scraped through in 10th. How anyone, jury and viewers said this was better than Turkey though shocks and astounds me.

Elsewhere on the night I was disappointed by Kati Wolf and Hungary, who vocally was off the mark but did enough in the end to run through.  I reckon though improvement could made here and it still could be good. And sadly Croatia’s two costume changes both went without a hitch, leaving only Sweden with the risky gimmick remaining.

Overall I’m delighted for Switzerland and Iceland, who probably put out there best performances and I do like the songs themselves. Performer of the night certainly goes to Paradise Oscar of Finland who ended up getting my vote, and has the tough gig of opening the final itself. My only fear it is hardly going to be memorable being the first one out, but it’s a stunning and simple performance and I’ll be more than happy to give another vote to him on Saturday.

Finally, the BBC’s decision to have Sara Cox as ‘host’ is a horrible one and does not work out at all, she is trying far too hard to interact with the audience. Scott Mills isn’t too bad but his insistence to talk over the songs from the ‘Big 5’ slightly annoyed me. Also if the hosts in Dusseldorf could try and be less funny (because they aren’t), that might be helpful too.

So, we now have 15 confirmed finalists, 10 more will be decided in the ‘semi final of death’ on Thursday evening.