- Songs 1-5: Montenegro / Israel / Estonia / Moldova / San Marino
- Songs 6-10: Belgium / Azerbaijan / Slovenia / Norway / Poland
- Songs 11-15: Ireland / Andorra / Bosnia & Herzegovina / Armenia / The Netherlands
- Songs 16-19: Finland / Romania / Russia / Greece
- Get ready for voting
- My picks
- Preview of songs in the final
- Results of the televote
- The abrupt end!
- Predictions of an eventual winner
Because each country can only vote in one of the semi finals, a number of broadcasters are not bothering to show the semi that they cannot vote in. This, on my site, may be the first that some Frenchies actually see of the contest. I've checked the schedules in TéléStar (magazine) and this semi-final doesn't appear to be broadcast at all in France. (the second semi is on France4). It'll be similar in other countries.
Thing is, you can't complain that the voting is politically biased while then refusing to show the semi-final you don't have any influence in. That's just rude.
As always, the basis of this write-up is written as the contest in progressing; followed by a number of tweaks to make my hastily-jotted notes more readable! At some later stage I will probably listen to the songs again, and if I decide to flesh out a review with more information (giving nothing away, of course!) then I will add this later content in indented blocks so you know it is not "on the night" material.
I was asked by somebody if I ever tactfully 'edit' my pick of the ones I like between making my choice and publishing the review, in lieu of who actually wins. My answer to that would be "why?". I mean, this is my review and it is what I think of the entries. It may be that the songs I love don't pass into the final (in semis gone by, I could name several bad songs that passed and good songs that failed... We Are The Winners vs Comme Si, Comme Ça for an example!).
My original notes needed some reworking because, well, I now have to watch the contest, comment on the songs, think about the performances, while still finding time to actually just my notes down and grab and save 140megabytes worth of imagery to whittle down. And that's just for the first of two semi-finals. If it was possible to record the contest in full quality (like a SkyPlus sort of thing), I'd so watch and review and worry about the pictures later. But I can't, so you'll see me slowly losing my mind and then writing rubbish like this paragraph! Hehe, well, I hope you at least appreciate the nicer pictures!
The very first thing we see is our two BBC commentators. Paddy O'Connell, who has commented a number of times, and newbie Caroline Flack.
The night begins with the familiar EBU logo and music, and then it's some artsy-swirly thing with red and blue, looks like flying paint which forms into a treble clef. It all comes together to promote the theme of this year's competition - "Confluence of Sound". A confluence is a coming together. Not a word you'll hear very often.
A little throw-away is next, a group of people singing the "dum-dee-dee-dahhh" that accompanies the EBU logo...
Now we're on to the stage. It is bright, colourful, but seems to be small compared to, say, Greece's open layout. The venue was fairly large, however, though one could spot quite a number of unoccupied seats.
Some children, then dancers in colour. Totally, their clothes and skin coloured red or blue. It was like those "Blue Man" Intel® adverts from the late '90s. If you listen carefully you would make out familiar sounds coming from the brass band. "Waterloo", for example.
Now we briefly meet our hosts for the night. Željko Joksimović (left) and Jovana Jonković (right). Her dress seemed to be open until quite far up in the front, so it's a good thing she was wearing a slip.
I had switched to BBC interactive (one of the BBC streams, easy to switch with a freebie-TV receiver, takes a bit longer if you have to go the red button route).
Bloody hell!!! Do you have to take a quarter of the screen area with the brash subs? Can't you make it a little more subtle? Tone it down, shift it a further the screen, and how about a bit of transparency so that the competition shows though?
I didn't think it would be possible to make it worse than last year. I apologise. I was wrong...
On the right in a five-minute mock-up of what I think a more acceptable subtitle would look like. Then maybe I can enjoy the contest and understand the songs.
A quick chat with UK's Andy (as lesser channels go to break). Blah blah.
In actuality, I think Azerbaijan is sort of Georgia direction, in that bit the other side of the sea where Russia and Iran (Iraq?) meet.
I have been informed that Azerbaijan is southeast of Georgia, northeast of Armenia, south of Russia, North of Iran and west of the Caspian Sea. So now we know!
In a contrast to the norm, Serbia has chosen not to promote itself in between songs. Instead we have various Serbs doing stuff in a stage (lifting weights, kissing, etc) and their clothing meets to form the flag of the country coming up. Also stuff on-screen is written in the language of the country to follow...
Another tiny pause while they explain how to vote, only we can't in this one... Suckier channels probably tried to flog their equivalent of DFS sofas.
Paddy brought up an interesting question - if there were six performers and a puppet (presumably with a puppeteer), surely that's seven people on-stage?
By now we ought to be used to some quirky things from the ex-Yugoslav countries. But this? It is like musical theatre. No, wait, scrub that. It is like musical therapy with theatrical elements.
The song itself was quite catchy (verging on being oddly captivating), but I have a horrible suspicion that I really don't want to know what the words actually mean!
Hahahahaha! LOVELY! Just when you think there are no surprises, out comes Evgenie Plushenko to ice skate on the world's tiniest ice rink! (Dima there barefoot, yikes!). In case you don't know the name, he's only the world male figure skating champion (and has held that title for a billion years). I know I recognised the violinist too, he usually played for Evgenie during some sort of gala performance (that would be the bit after he'd won gold, again, where he could send himself up a bit).
Paddy then attempts to briefly explain (in a minute) the change in voting by accosting four fans (a Brit, two Irish, and a Serbian (the pretty one with the world's tiniest waistcoat and a Union flag!?!)) and juggling them around. It takes more than a minute and I bet people were more confused afterwards!
I don't want to toot my horn (too much!) but I think I summed it up perfectly well in the second sentence of this review! ☺
Our hosts then take a moment to plug the official DVD and CD; though interestingly they did not say where you can obtain these. I mean, can you order from Amazon or do you have to go through the Eurovision website? How much are they? (in euros at least)
There did appear to be something briefly on-screen (a web address?) which for some reason was blanked out. Odd!
12 Moldova and the teddy bear 10 Russia's miniature skating (what, no Slutskaya?) 8 Belgium's total nonsense! 7 Slovenian man troubles 6 Andorra's freaky outfits 5 Norway's Six And The City 4 Armenian "kelly kelly" 3 Bosnian musical theatre therapy (and God help me!) 2 San Marino and the ghostly presence 1 Oooh, oooh, Israelite!
I'm not going to list my top three most disliked. That'll jinx them to pass into the final!
...talks to some people...
...then we're back for the commentators to take us behind the scenes of Thursday's performance, some of the performers - even a group of pirates!
This is followed by a preview of The Big Four and Serbia, the countries who will be in the final no matter what happens on Thursday. I'll not show you any pictures, save that for Saturday's contest.
What I will say is that it looks as if France's entry (something like Jesus-meets-TeenWolf) will be misunderstood again, while Spain looks to have entered a comedy song. The real serious one looks to be Serbia.
And now, the winners, in drawn order:
Okay, fair enough...
Whoa! Whoa! Wait, whoa, seriously?!? ...awesome!
I suppose if a 'novelty act' should make it to the final, better this than Ireland Douze Pointe.
Yuck, my kitten could rock harder than that with nothing more than an acoustic banjo!
For this not to have passed would have been a travesty.
Fair enough, I could see this getting through.
Oh, now you're just taking the ****...
Armenia were in this semi? Oh yeah, pretty girl wailing.
Mmmm, and Moldova is...?
The voters and winners are supposed to be dispersed to try to get away from the supposed Eastern influence. But if it wasn't for Norway and Finland, this lot would all be from the east.
Of course, how does one define "East"? We must not forget that a big chunk of the West (Spain, Germany, France, and the UK) are auto-qualifiers!
No Moldova? No Belgium? Finland and Azerbaijan instead?!?
Given that Finland is in the final, I thought I might as well analyse in more detail what is so bad about this song. You want rock? Fine. You want it cheesy ('cos it is Eurovision)? Fine. I have a song that fits the bill perfectly - "The Final Countdown" by Europe (!). Cheesy classic rock.
If you don't know the song, go look for a copy. If you do, we'll continue... [and if you have it in your vinyl collection, give it a spin and relive some old memories]
The proper version of the song runs in at five-odd minutes. But this isn't a problem. A few minutes diddling around with an audio editor allowed me to trim some of the "it's the final countdoooooowwwwwn" repeats at the end. Then the instrumental in the middle has been trimmed. Finally the minute-and-a-half introduction has been hacked to within an inch of its life. The result? A three-minute power ballad. I can't put an MP3 here for obvious reasons.
Like most rock songs, TFC opens well. The long intro works quite well for the song, but it wouldn't be useful within Eurovision's time limitation. We then progress to the vocal which is high pitched without being all Justin Hawkins about it. The song itself is mysterious - is he mourning a lost love, a lost civilisation, a lost planet? Or has he just lost the plot? When the chorus kicks in, we're back to a repeat of the opening riff. I think it is some sort of brass instrument, but it's the kind of song that makes you want to jump up and play air guitar (best if you're on your own for this...). Just when you think the chorus is the main climax of the song, we're into the instrumental break and they crank those knobs up to 11... Guitars chucking out power chords overlaid on the thematic riff. It could be said that the song loses direction a bit at the end, but I think this is the emotional release to let you down more gently. This isn't like a sugar high that is followed by the sugar crash.
Yup, it is extremely cheesy, but it is a near-perfect rock song, living up to most (if not all) of the clichés.
Now compare Missä Miehet Ratsastaa...
Will this be second time lucky for Dima? I think Russia is in with a chance here. I also have good hopes for the UK entry. I think, if his performance is outstanding, he'll be at the good end of the scoreboard. A winner? I'm not sure, but fingers crossed. Sadly it seems as if Spain and France are destined to linger at the bottom of the table. France's odd offering, are they aiming for the revered "null pwah"?
I would like to say that Serbia is going to be the dark horse, but I have a horrible suspicion that it will actually be Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Continue on to the second Semi Final
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