Well two semi finals have come and gone and I have to say that they have thrown up a very interesting final for us on Saturday night. I will talk about the final soon, but lets review the two semi finals.
On Tuesday, we sat in and looked forward to a good first heat. There were some very good acts expected to qualify and some that were the opposite. On the night though, it would appear that the voters had other ideas. From the start it was obvious that the calibre of performance was going to be exceptional this year and the eventual winner would have to put on a mammoth show to win the contest this year.
Poland were first up and unfortunately for Poland and the lovely Magdelena Tul, the backing music was turned down so low that her vocals did not sound the best that they could have. Many acts suffered from this particularly in the first semi final. Having said that, some acts were able to overcome this and show what they can really do. Some highlights for me were Finland’s entry Paradise Oskar who managed to qualify for the final with a very simple song about Peter going off to try and save the planet as a child. The innocent young lad look seemed to score some points for him and was getting big cheers in the arena throughout the night. Here is his performance on Tuesday…
A solid performance I think you would agree. Elsewhere, there were qualifying places for Serbia, Russia, Switzerland and Georgia. At the end of the show it was unclear whether the big guns were going to qualify, Hungary and Norway and Azerbaijan were the ones everyone wanted to get through and 2 out of those three made it. Hungary seemed to stutter over the line while Azerbaijan strode confidently through. The shock of the evening was the failure of Norway and Stella Mwangi to make it through to Saturday’s final. That coupled with Greece’s progression with a very poor track by their standards added to the excitement of the evening.
So the 10 qualifiers were Serbia, Russia, Finland, Azerbaijan, Greece, Iceland, Switzerland, Georgia, Hungary and Lithuania. The mix of music is also varied and with no “comedy” acts making it through (Portugal), on the whole the voters seem to have decided this year that song quality is important with only a couple of exceptions.
I have managed to ignore pretty much of the in between chat from the 3 German presenters who seem to be an afterthought this year. There isn’t much focus on them thus far although I’m sure that will change in the final and they will become a bigger fixture in the proceedings. The German comedienne Anke Engelke seems to be much more professional and straight to the point than the other two presenters and could have easily done this on her own.
One thing I will say is that Hungary should definitely have performed their track in their native language. The track is much much stronger and there is no empty space after the first chorus, and I think that performing the track in English may be a mistake. In Hungarian there are two verses before that break and it works much better. I know time constraints have had an effect, but I think they could have edited the track better. It will lose for this reason.
On to the second semi final which took place on Thursday night. After the enjoyment of the first night, I was hoping for another good night. The second semi always seems to be the stronger set of contestants and this year was no exception. With many of the bookmaker’s front-runners in this pot, someone was going to be disappointed by the end of the night.
The sound production hadn’t really improved between the two shows although Bosnia’s entry “Love In Rewind” was performed very admirable by Dino Merlin and deserved to qualify. Most of my favourite tracks managed to make it through to Saturday, with Ireland’s Jedward being a particular highlight as I wasn’t expecting very much of them. they did however manage to put in a very good performance on the night and have made it to the final on merit in my opinion. We can’t even use the UK vote as a reason here as we weren’t allowed to vote for them.
Th big screen is proving to be a very useful tool behind the acts and some countries have made very clever use of it. Estonia adding to their model city on the stage with much bigger pictures. Still one of the favourites, think they are a top 3 finisher on Saturday after qualifying with ease although the amount of votes is kept secret until after the final. Sweden’s Eric Saade also used the big screen plastering his name all over it at the end of the track in an attempt to get it stuck in the viewers’ minds.
There were also shock in this semi final with Moldova making it to the final, big tall pointy hats and all. They must be “So Lucky” 😉 This biggest shock of the night was when, with just one act left to qualify both Sweden and Israel hadn’t yet made it through. The returning Dana International for Israel was expected to qualify, but in a major upset, Sweden ousted the former winner of the contest and yet another big act was going home disappointed.
So the 10 qualifiers from Thursday were Bosnia, Austria, Ukraine, Moldova, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Estonia, Denmark and Ireland. The Ukraine’s act was unusual with Mika Newton singing her song “Angel” while a sand artist did a tremendous display on a lightboard which was projected on the big screen on the stage. Very clever, but the song isn’t a favourite of mine.
After two semi finals, I think we have a very good mix of 25 songs. There are the big songs and bouncy songs and also the quiet songs. I also think the countries that have progressed have on the whole, deserved to be in the final and I look forward to Saturday night. I think the stigma of political voting is on its way out and with an even split of Eastern and Western european countries in the final I think the result is going to be a lot closer this year than in previous contests.
There will be a final preview before tomorrow’s final including a run down of the “Big 5” countries taking part this year, but for now I will leave with two of my favourite songs in the second semi final, Denmark and Ireland. Enjoy