I just want to open by saying I’ve been totally blown away by the support for this blog, particularly in recent weeks, thanks so much, it means a lot to me and keeps me going on!!
But we are already on Wednesday of Eurovision week, so the second semi-final must be around the corner. In contrast to last night’s semi, there are a number of entries here that won’t go down without a fight. But they can’t all make it…
Remember you can read my individual reviews for the entries by clicking the country name, or clicking “Eurovision 2012” at the top of the page – my ESC2012 reviews are there too!
Serbia – Opening the show, Serbia are sending one of their Eurovision heavyweights into the ring. He came 2nd for Serbia & Montenegro, and wrote Bosnia & Herzegovina’s biggest hit (3rd), and Serbia’s entry for Belgrade’s contest – which he hosted! It’s a rousing track even without the benefit of English. Qualifier? Without a doubt, and a contender for the win, I think.
FYR Macedonia – Good luck following Serbia. Kaliopi might have been through a long journey to finally represent her country, but I’m not sure it’ll attract the voters outside the region. It’s a decent song but her vocals are an acquired taste, something it might take more than 3 minutes to achieve. Qualifier? FYRoM haven’t got a great history of qualifying, and I don’t think this will change that.
Netherlands – I love this one, described as “the ‘Smelly Cat’ of this year’s contest” by Måns Zelmerlöw. I totally get that, and it’s a gorgeous country-lite ballad, it’s catchy as hell, and I want it to qualify. Her outfit is a bit strange but it needs all the attention it can get, given its poor placing in the set-list. Qualifier? It will break my heart but I just don’t see it happening. I will be overjoyed if it gets through, as will the long-suffering Dutch.
Malta – Another one with the whiff of cannon fodder about it. Malta are struggling at the moment, but this is a clear progression from last year’s entry. It might be a bit generic and hasn’t got a lot to say, but it’s a fun up-tempo, the first of this semi. Qualifier? I am always rooting for Malta, and it might just make it this year.
Belarus – After a fantastic mess last year, they are sending a pretty great pop-rock-dance effort this year. It’s benefitted from a post-selection remix, and I think this could be a good year for Belarus. Qualifier? Well if Hungary can manage it…
Portugal – What was I saying about cannon fodder? A real toilet-break this time I’m afraid, I just can’t see this getting anywhere. Portugal have an unparalleled record for poor results in Eurovision, 45 entries with not even a top 5 finish. It’s still managed a few qualifications since the semi-finals came in, but I don’t think this is another. Qualifier? No way, José.
Ukraine – Ukraine have a great track record, 100% qualification from the semis, and often do even better once they get to the final. For this reason I’m confident they’ll make it through, but the song itself – a lyric-lite 90s dance throwback – is joyous enough (especially after Portugal), but not up to their usual standards. That said, I think it’s strong enough to make it through. Qualifier? Don’t bet against it.
Bulgaria– Going an extra mile to please the neighbours, this song says “I love you” in an impressive 10 languages, including the first usage of Azerbaijani in the contest, something even Azerbaijan haven’t done yet! This could be a hot mess, and Bulgaria’s terrible qualification record put it on shaky ground instantly, but it could well outshine Ukraine with Sofi’s vocal range singing a difficult melody. Qualifier? In a just world, it would, but it’ll need a lot of those countries to say “I love you” back…
Slovenia – Another Eastern-European ballad, and she has surprising magnetism in the performance I saw. Staging is everything for something like this, I think it’ll take more than her great vocals to win over Europe, but I hope she makes it. Qualifier? A poor qualification record, but they’ve shown they can do it with the right song, which this could well be.
Croatia– A dignified Balkan ballad now, and I really like it. The visuals in the video really helps so I think this could work on the stage given the right choices, but I worry its lack of big notes and its subtle beauty will be lost, or outshone by Slovenia. Qualifier? I’m not sure, but I hope it does.
Sweden– The juggernaut is here, and all eyes will be on Loreen to blow everyone away like she did at the Globen theatre in March. I’m concerned that her ‘art’ will get in the way of an amazing pop song, and her recent habit of barely pronouncing the words is infuriating for such a strong song. Sweden could land their first win for 13 years with this one, don’t mess it up. Qualifier? Surely it must, or cause one of the biggest shocks in recent Eurovision memory.
Georgia – Time to lighten the mood, Sweden is likely to be a bit po-faced. But maybe not with this, really gaudy and horrible. There’s a catchy melody in there, but this weirdo is putting me off it. Novelties didn’t play well in the first semi-final (bye bye, Montenegro, Austria, San Marino) and I don’t think this is the one to break that trend. A real shame, Georgia have sent some great entries in their short history. Qualifier? God I hope not.
Turkey – Never bet against Turkey – at least that’s what I thought until they deservedly crashed out in the semis last year. This year’s guy has some strange quality to him, and with Moldova a safe distance in the other semi, this is a distinctive pop song that’s bound to get people back on-side. Qualifier? Turkey are back in form, probably not a winner, but at least a qualifer.
Estonia– Finland and Latvia are already out, so it’s up to Estonia (and Lithuania but who are we kidding) to fly the flag for the Baltic bloc, with a powerful ballad. I think this really has a shot of looking and sounding great, and with a nice late position in the set-list, I hope this one gets through. Qualifier? Semi 1 was a Baltic disaster but I think this might make it through, along with his rampant genitalia.
Slovakia – And now for something completely different. A real rocky number, not sanitised for Europe. But there’s a really strong melody under there, and I think it will benefit hugely from being an authentic rock track, as several countries have learnt in recent years. Expect this to do well. Qualifier? I have a funny feeling about this one, it may well smash Slovakia’s previous best result.
Norway – Recent winner Norway had a rude shock when Stella Mwangi crashed hard in the semis last year, but they are pulling no punches this time. Seeing Eric Saade’s success in Dusseldorf proved that modern dance-pop could pay dividends, and so we have Tooji grinding his hips to an ultra-modern but ethnically tinged dancefloor stomper. With a late performance slot, I think Norway could get through comfortably. Qualifier? I hope so, he needs to nail these vocals though, and try not to be TOO gay (though apparently he isn’t)
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Another tender Balkan ballad, and it would probably get lost earlier in the slow. It’s a lovely song, and B&H have a 100% qualification record. I fear the Balkan block voting in this semi will more likely turn its attention to Serbia and Slovenia, but it’s a good effort. Qualifier? A great slot but not sure it’s got the power to get through, perhaps for the same reason Finland didn’t make it.
Lithuania – Not a big one to finish on, and Lithuania certainly have a difficult time of getting through to the final. This one is a little too slow getting going, but turns into a vaguely modern dance track later on. He’s going to need more than a backflip and a blindfold to get this through. I suspect the juries helped Lithuania’s shock qualification last year, but I don’t think they will bail this one out. Qualifier? If he raised his game for the performance, his great slot might sneak a qualification, but he’ll need all the luck he can get.
Phew!! Well that’s the lot, 10 of these 18 tracks will make it through, but which ones?
My predictions: Serbia, Malta, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia, Slovakia, Norway.
Hope you guys enjoy the show, and I’ll do a results/reaction piece as soon as I can after it’s over!