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Eurovision 2024 Semi Final 1

Well... So I got up early to help cover somebody who was absent, lots of work needed done, and I'm shattered.
Thankfully it is a public holiday tomorrow, and the following day, and we are "making a bridge" which means we aren't working on Friday. So it's like a mini holiday.
Good, 'cos I'm already shattered and the contest hasn't even started yet! I think time to put the kettle on! I don't normally drink tea after 6pm (else it'll keep me awake), but special circumstances.

Isn't the contest a week earlier than usual this year?

For the contest, I have moved the satellite receiver from the living room table over to the picnic table with the Pi and monitor. I am using the little 7" screen to watch the contest, and I'm using the monitor speakers to listen. Okay, it's a bit naff. If I can find a long enough lead, I might try running the audio across the room to the amplifier for the grand final.
I'll be recording it too. I've tied the harddisc to the picnic table so that if I do anything dumb like knock the receiver off, the harddisc shouldn't go with it. That being said, there aren't any unexpected and/or weird wires around, so everything ought to be okay.

I did want to watch commentary-free on YouTube, but the Android portable was too slow, it kept pausing to buffer "Daily Dose of Internet" so I didn't think I'd get far with that. My phone could keep up, but the screen was kind of small.
At 1024×600, it isn't HD or FullHD but it is better than SD or a heavily compressed 360p/480p stream. So... with commentary it is then.

Well, okay, it's not quite as much of a slog as the Grand Final will be. I have tea, I have two Twix, I can do this...

 

The big elephant in the room

A few years back, Russia invaded Ukraine, wrecked entire cities, slaughtered loads of people, and got kicked out of the contest.
This year, Israel invaded that place that they really don't want to admit exists, wrecked entire cities, slaughtered loads of people... and everybody is like "oh, no, this contest isn't political".
To be fair to Israel, Hamas started it, but the retaliation is extreme in the extreme.

I'm not going to pick sides here, either their song is good or it isn't. Let's just say, the background security operation must be something else.

 

Introduction

It looks like there's a red button stream to show the contest with sign language. Well done, Beeb.

A big arena in Malmö with what looks like a central stage that's a big plus shape. Okay, it's an opener by Eleni (?) that represented Cyprus a few years back. Hmm, I was rather expecting something, I dunno, Swedish perhaps?
Okay, we've ditched the red theme for black and white and this guy is Swedish singing about being popular.
Now it's a blue theme for... did I miss the caption? Sounds like she's singing in Spanish.

Oh, cool, Petra is back. With Malin? The theme is "United By Music". Are they all chanting "Petra! Petra! Petra!"? Yup, massive cheer as she introduced herself. Yup, she's one of a kind. It's her third Eurovision hosting.

Are the average British Eurovision viewers stupid? It's the third (or fourth?) time the voice over has pointed out that viewers cannot vote for the UK. Seriously? Nobody has to vote for the UK as it's one of the Big Five.

 

1. Cyprus "Liar" (Silia Kapsis)

At 17, this year's youngest contestant. What comes to mind watching this is a young Britney Spears (as in when she was doing Baby One More Time). The dance routine, the vocal fry... It seems quite a lot of this is performed in near darkness.
As for the song itself... sounds a bit generic and it has that horribly annoying tick-tick-tick drum sound that seems to have crept into a lot of modern songs.

 

2. Serbia "Ramonda" (Teya Dora)

Okay, Teya is cute. Starting off as an emotional ballad and in Serbian so the first non-English of the night, is this going to be which one of the former Yugoslavian countries sends in the dead serious song?
There are some nice visuals here, including climbing on a big polystyrene rock. It was, well, interesting, but alas not Molitva.

 

3. Lithuania "Luktelk" (Silvester Belt)

The second non-English and everything in single colours. Looks like the verses (or parts) are in blue, and the chorus is in red. There's some interesting staging here, given that it's just four dancers and the performer. What's with the name?
Ultimately, though, it's a bit meh.

 

4. Ireland "Doomsday Blue" (Bambie Thug)

Okay, what the hell? Ireland is sending a possessed bambi? The song goes from ballad to straight up shouty creepfest, and that's not even talking about the staging. Let's just say I think she watches the same sorts of movies that I do, and is really going overboard on the whole witch theme.

 

Now we're going to have a bit of blah blah while lesser channels try to sell their viewers random rubbish. Well, I suppose it gives everybody a chance to calm down after Ireland's witch.

 

-. The United Kingdom "Dizzy" (Olly Alexander)

Oh, okay, so they're having the UK's entry stuck into the semi final. Not just a brief recap, but the whole performance.

Uh, is he upside down? Or are the others? Wait, what? Okay, it's mostly a camera effect, but that's pretty impressive staging.
The song... is a bit meh. I think I've already said that. Kind of waiting for something different to come along and blow away the mediocrity.
The staging, however, does impress.

 

5. Ukraine "Teresa & Maria" (Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil)

Ukraine here channeling Jamala and something you'd expect from Serbia. Well, okay, the first minute and a bit with the serious girl standing on a bigger polystyrene rock was good, and impressive vocals, but then the other woman started rapping. Credit to her for getting through that much dialogue that quickly, but rap isn't something that does well. But will the serious part raise the song?

 

6. Poland "The Tower" (Luna)

Luna with a Moon motif (who'd have guessed), and power shoulders that are bordering on something you'd expect to see on a massive mecha. Ooh, it's a pull-apart costume change. Here, now, in 2024, we're still doing this.
Oh, this girl also likes chess. You'd never guess... though the staging is heading into Bad Romance territory.
That song... was actually better than I was expecting.

 

I would, during the contest, pop over to Twitter to see if/what Vince might have thought... but ever since the world's richest twat took over and broke Twitter (and renamed it after a simple alphabet letter), all I see is a login screen.
So, Vince, drop a link below if you're using something else (Mastodon?) instead...

 

7. Croatia "Rim Tim Tagi Dim" (Baby Lasagna)

They're called what? Is this a joke entry? It's like something from the eighties, like one of those groups that's a guilty pleasure that you deny listening to, hmm, think Adam Ant or that one that went on and on about Captain (don't recall the group's name).
This is apparently the favourite to win the contest. Oh My Effing God.
Let's put it like this, it's catchy in an earwormy kind of way, but it's also kind of awful.
That being said, it's not "meh". It's very far from "meh", and they possibly just put out more energy in their three minutes than the seven songs prior. So, yeah, okay, I could stand to see that again.

 

8. Iceland "Scared of Heights" (Hera Björk)

The vocals are okay, but it's that horrible annoying tick-tick-tick drum thing again. Let's put it like this, my music of choice is symphonic metal (sometimes symphonic power metal). There, the drum not only shakes the room, but it also has it's own performance to play, it doesn't just tick-tick-tick-tick annoyingly and incessently like shaking a tin with a bean rattling around in it.

 

More time wasting for adverts elsewhere, so we cut out for Rylan to talk to the woman that handled all the culture stuff in Liverpool.

Looking on my mobile, the live broadcast had a skit about movie magic, a look at the stage, and I think they just said nine hundred square metres of LED screens.

 

-. Germany "Always On The Run" (Isaak)

An armchair next to a burning oil drum. It starts strong, and then everything else catches fire. I can't help but think there's a blunt metaphor lurking here that I just can't quite put my finger on.
The chorus is a bit annoying, but it's a good strong performance. No meh here either.
Bonus points for lots of actual fire and not a crappy video effect.

 

9. Slovenia "Veronika" (Raiven)

Well, okay, it looks like she's wearing... I'm a bloke so I don't know the name of the garment, but it's like a bodysuit made of the same stuff that tights are made of. To say it doesn't leave much to the imagination would be an understatement.
This is supposed to be about female empowerment (according to the announcers - it's in Slovenian), and while it has some powerful vocals (though not quite Sharon den Adel level), but I'm afraid it must be a hard downvote from me for trying to do something about female empowerment while dressing in a way to directly appeal to the male gaze. That's just fail, you know.

 

10. Finland "No Rules!" (Windows95man)

"Windows95man"? What?
So there's a guy wearing no underwear posing behind carefully-placed props and various stage hands holding clipboards. Actually, he's wearing skin coloured underwear because, you know, decency rules. This is not just a gag entry, it's a Weird Al Yankovic gag entry.

 

11. Moldova "In the Middle" (Natalia Barbu)

Nice orchestration, good vocals, nice staging. I like this. I hope it goes through as my signal is breaking up. Yup, it's raining kind of hard outside. She's doing the "gentle clap in the chorus" thing. Wasn't it Serbia that started that a few years back? Um... Konstrakta? Something like that? Hang on, let me Google...
...oh, my god, not only remembered it but spelled it correctly. Should I be impressed by my memory for useless trivia, or depressed that I'm turning into one of those sad guys that can tell you that France and Sweden were tied in 1991 but Sweden won in the end due to having more dooze pwah.

 

-. Sweden "Unforgettable" (Markus and Martinez)

Yes, the staging of this song is quite impressive, but the song itself is highly annoying. Are those live vocals or have their voices been autotuned to the point of being an effect in itself.

 

12. Azerbaijan "Özüle apar" (Fahree feat. Ilkin Dovlatov)

The 'e' at the end of the first word is back to front, but my computer has an eight bit (ISO 8859/1) character set so it doesn't have a reversed 'e' and the only time I've ever seen that is in IPA...

As for the song, moody. If we gloss over the thankfully brief drum ticks, this is exactly the sort of artisty turned-up-to-eleven performance that you'd expect from Azerbaijan. There's surely no way this won't qualify.

 

13. Australia "One Milkali (One Blood)" (Electric Fields)

Sorry, having previously entered Dami Im and Kate Heidke-Miller, this song has a seriously high bar to deal with.
The premise is pretty obvious from the title, with plenty of different people to point out that we're all the same. And, of course, an aboriginal with an impressive didgeridoo, because it's Australia and it's something they have that we in Europe don't (though, you know, colonialism...).

 

14. Portugal "Grito" (Iolanda)

The woman dressed in white with five people wearing white suits and material over their heads so they're essentially featureless, with a stark black and white staging.
No idea what she's on about, but it's a captivating performance.

 

15. Luxembourg "Fighter" (Tali)

Back after something like 31 years, it is a small place but not as small as San Marino. In French (verse) and English (chorus), this is sort of like the first song done better. Interesting way to bookend the contest. But will it qualify?

 

Well, okay, I'm watching the recap, and only seven songs interest me:

  • Azerbaijan - Okay, I liked it. No idea what it was about...
  • Ireland - Crown the witch.
  • Germany - Fire on the run. Oh, wait... don't need to vote for this one.
  • Moldova - Be happy.
  • Portugal - Black and white.
  • Ukraine - The bigger polystyrene rock (shame about the rapping).
  • Serbia - The smaller polystyrene rock.
  • Finland - Ding Dong.

Since I'm supposed to list ten, let's watch the first recap and come up with three more:

  • Luxembourg - The twin pigtails.
  • Poland - Lunar chess.
  • Croatia - Ting ding diggy diggy hole, or something.

So, there you go, my picks for the first semi-final.

 

Johnny Logan

Okay, if you're going to get some Eurovision royalty to perform an interval act, you can't get much better than Johnny Logan... singing Loreen's Euphoria. Somebody has a sense of humour, and give him credit, he does it bloody well (except trying to hit the big note, wasn't quite on target there, but it's a hard song to perform).

 

The opening ceremony

The on-the-night show has now turned into a huge event with loads of media attention. As always, and as every year, I pay exactly no attention to the contest until the live broadcast. I have no idea who is in it, I haven't seen any of the videos or followed anybody on social anything. So this, the live broadcast, is an entirely new set of songs for me, and my comments and thoughts are based entirely on the performances on the broadcast night.

 

My video recording is saying 1:53:30 as we're going through another recap. Voting ought to be coming to an end soon, shouldn't it?

Oh, yup, here's the countdown. Then there will be an interval act, and then the bloke that isn't Jon Ola Sand will say his "You're good to go" catchphrase and we'll see who did and didn't.

 

Nicole and Hugo

From 1973, and one of the first times in the contest when a performer sung and danced. Yeah, it's kind of shocking isn't it, like over the top choreographed dance routines are an essential part of oh so many performances.
They had a brief recap of all sorts of dancing in the contest, yet strangely enough they missed Ruslana's Wild Dances (clue in the name).

Oops, the dancers helping Petra down the steps missed their cue and then had to back out of the way. Hehe, live TV. ☺

 

Benjamin Ingrosso

A bloke in a white suit with huge shoulder pads (but tiny compared to Poland), nothing buttoned up, and red gloves sings what sounds like a medley of boy band songs. I guess he's popular in Sweden...

 

The results

Well, that was impressive. The big background screen split in two (lengthwise) to reveal the so-called green room.

"You're good to go", so let's get on with it. Here are the ones that have qualified...

  • Serbia - yay, the cute girl on the (smaller) rock.
  • Portugal - monochrome.
  • Slovenia - her not wearing anything much.
  • Ukraine - the bigger rock and the good voice (and the rap).
  • Lithuania - Hmm, okay...
  • Finland - Weird Al qualifies.
  • Cyrpus - wasn't that the opening meh?
  • Croatia - the annoying/catchy song.
  • Ireland - crown the witch!
  • Luxembourg - the twin pigtails.

What the hell? No Azerbaijan this year? How did that happen?

 

Okay, my recording stopped just before Portugal's song and I didn't notice as I was writing this and paying attention to the performances. Oh well, I got most of the songs in HD, can pick up the rest off YouTube if I feel like it. But I'll have to pay more attention. I got an hour and a half, and it's 5.4GB. Yikes - how big will the Grand Final be, then?

Wait, hang on, I mentioned it said 1:53:30 during the opening ceremony part. Hmm, I wonder what happened. Too many segments to split the video into (while it is a unique 'video', the underlying files are split into parts to fit into FAT32's limitations)?
There seems to be about half an hour missing.
Perhaps I ought to start/stop the recording to split apart the part with the songs and "all the other guff"? That's what I used to do when using the other PVR to record, that way if something goes wrong, less to lose (given that a messed up finalisation would render the file unplayable).

Anyway, it is late and I want to chuck this at my site and call it a day, so excuse any typos... and I hope like hell I remember to turn my alarm off so it doesn't go off tomorrow morning.

 

 

Your comments:

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VinceH, 8th May 2024, 12:10
Seeing as this is your customary first Eurovision semi-final post I'm not going to read it yet (spoilers! 😁). I'll read it through properly at some point after the main event to compare notes as it were. 
 
But because I know you've commented on my Eurovision tweets in the past, I did a really sad thing and searched the page for my name. 🤣 
 
So to answer the question... My personal Mastodon account is AFAIK extinct. The server vanished (though I haven't checked, so for all I know it could be back). 
 
Without setting up something[1] 
new my only real option is Twitter. Or possibly Facebook - an initial post, then my commentary as replies. I don't fancy that, though, so it'll be Twitter. 🤷‍♂️ 
 
I might try copying the tweets off on the fly into a text file to process into something ASAP after though - but as the evening goes on, I suspect that'll go a bit wrong. 🤣 
 
[1] My plan was to set up a quick & dirty page on vinceh.com that I could add to on the fly with tweet style comments. But life's been a bit hectic lately, so not a chance of that happening by Saturday. 
David Pilling, 8th May 2024, 15:26
"No Azerbaijan this year?" - Azerbaijan was the only one I saw.
Rick, 8th May 2024, 15:59
I meant as in qualifying to the final...
jgh, 8th May 2024, 19:48
Hey, if Australia still keeps getting in, I demand an entry from Hong Kong. Go Go Crazy Glass City!
Chris M, 9th May 2024, 07:52
> There seems to be about half an hour missing. 
 
Yep. My recording is 2:21:58, from the starting Eurovision "bumper" to the end one. 
 
> More time wasting for adverts elsewhere, so we cut out for Rylan to talk to the woman that handled all the culture stuff in Liverpool. 
 
That was evidently the BBC doing its own thing, because on YouTube we had a couple of scenes from Swedish movies set to Eurovision songs. 
 
I only liked about five songs from this semi-final, and I'm a bit disappointed that Poland didn't make it though, but oh well. I can't really complain, because I didn't vote (although I plan to for the grand final).
Rick, 9th May 2024, 09:08
Yes, it seemed the "Meh" was strong in this broadcast. 
Will tonight's second semifinal be better? 

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