The Eurovision Song Contest 2007
The Semi Final




Hosted for the BBC by Sarah Cawood (no Fearne?) and Paddie O'Donnell, we are in Helsinki / Helsingfors (in Finland) for the semi-final of the 52nd Eurovision Song Contest.


MP3'dYou may see MP3 markers, such as that shown to the left. This means that, upon the second viewing of the competition (on videotape), I sampled the song into the computer and MP3'd it. Essentially this means I liked the song... MP3s of the songs are not available from this site.


We quickly begin with a dance routine to accordion which takes us from winter to summer.

We now meet our hosts for the evening, Jaana Pelkonen (left) and Mikko Leppilampi (right).

Without any further procrastination, the songs...


1 Bulgaria "Water"

Performed by Elitsa Todprova & Stoyam Yankoulov, in Bulgarian.

With lots of high pitched "eeh!" bits and warbly vocal effects, the female singer treats us to what sounds like a poor rendition of a techno Aboriginal tribal song (!), in Bulgarian.
Watching this, you wonder how on earth they think they could win with a song like this.

I received an email regarding this review:
Look, you have made an awfully stupid comment that only points at your ignorance and bad education about the world. This is not Aboriginal music, it is Bulgarian folk. It is not a "warbly vocal effect", but the the well-known Kehlkopfgesang.
You're right. I figured it may have been a folky sort of music, however I have indeed never heard of "Kehlkopfgesang". I have a suspicion that quite a number of readers who do not have in-depth knowledge of the Balkans, perhaps Bulgaria in particular, would not have known that either. Why do I say this? Well, I just typed "Kehlkopfgesang" into Microsoft Encarta 2000 World Encyclopaedia (the best information source I have here, I don't have Internet at home) - I'm sure you can guess the response...
It did have a sample of traditional Bulgarian folk ("More, Zazheni Se Gyuro" by Trio Bulgarka), which sounded a lot like this entry, including an "eeh!" bit at the end; only without the 'warbling'.
The email goes on to say "[...] if the music is Aboriginal, which to your racist mind should be considered equal to bad,[...]". Please note that I am not being racist. I did not like this song much, and the closest I could think of to describe it was to say it sounded like Aboriginal music. That isn't to say Aboriginal music is bad, it's the closest approximation to something I have heard, and possibly may be more widely known in the world than Bulgarian traditional music.
And anyway, how dare you call me "racist" because you misread what I wrote and figured I think Aboriginal music is "equal to bad". So what if I had thought that? I don't like rap, does that mean I'm racist? I don't like most jazz, and that plinky-plonky smoochy music drives me nuts.
Let's look at it another way around... Aboriginals, rappers, jazzers, and smoochy-bar players would probably say "ugh!" to a lot of the stuff that I listen to and enjoy. Would that make them racist? Of course not! It's just different people with different tastes. And for what it is worth, I happen to think Aboriginal music, done correctly, can be very powerful and evocative.
Anyway, today's lesson kiddies, is that the Bulgarian entry was a type of traditional folk music given a techno remix, and the name you'll want to drop into Google or Wiki is "Kehlkopfgesang".


2 Israel "Push the button"

Performed by Teapacks, in English, French, and Israeli.

This controversial song is an Israeli punk group sounding like a really poor impression of an Indian. Sung in English, French, and Israeli, you really have to give some credit (but not much) to a song that says "I wanna see the flowers bloom, don't wanna go 'kaboom'".


3 Cyprus "Comme ci, comme ça (Like this, like that)"

Performed by Evridiki & D. Korgialas, in French.

A rock chick singing in French. Okay, credit, that's perhaps the last language I'd have expected from Cyprus! It's not a bad song, in the '80s soft rock tradition.


4 Belarus "Work your magic"

Performed by Koldum, in English.

An energetic dance routine and some impressive visual gimmicks (like the girls 'stuck' to the wall) make up for a popish song that leaves little impression.


5 Iceland "Valentine Lost"

Performed by Eirikur Hauksson, in English.

Paddy says this is the first rock song of the evening. Okay, so this guy has long hair and that way of holding the mic, but where was Paddy for Cypriot song?
This is a song where the chorus contains the line "Rock and roll can heal your soul" coupled with loads of cliches ripped from a Bon Jovi concert...


6 Georgia "Visionary Dream"

Performed by Sopho, in English.

"Traditional" dance meets a power ballad sung by Sherilyn Fenn, oops, no, it is Sopho. Quite a catchy song, this. I would like to see this go through as it isn't bad, and it is Georgia's very first Eurovision entry.


7 Montenegro "Ajde kroči (Come on, step up)"

Performed by Stevan Faddy, in Yugoslavian.

After their dropping out of the 2006 contest ("We're not Serbia!"), here is Montenegro entering as its own country. A charismatic male singer presenting what, sadly, is a song that comes and goes, again without leaving an impression.
Eurovision has some pretty weird stuff - you can't really top the monster winners of 2006, Lordi. Anyway, you need to have an impressive performance.


8 Switzerland "Vampires are alive"

Performed by DJ Bobo, in English.

Knowing of DJ Bobo from German TV, and with a cool title, I was expecting something dark and gothic. Instead, we got treated to a semi-serious pop number with a nifty dance routine that I could imagine Spike bopping along to. I liked this, it was just so daft I couldn't help giggling all the way through.


9 Moldova "Fight"

Performed by Natalia Barbu, in English.

Serious leather and rock violins, you could be mistaken for thinking Bond was on-stage. Quite a nice colourful performance, even if the lyrics (in English), were a little bit garbled.


We now take a short break while lesser, suckier, channels go to adverts.


As usual, in between the songs we have the traditional "postcards" of the host country. Here is how to snowboard with a reindeer. Wow!


10 The Netherlands "On top of the world"

Performed by Edsilia Rombley, in English.

Edsilia is singing a song written by her husband. It came across as Eurovision does Tina Turner, without enough attitude or vocal power. However it was a good attempt. Will it rate in the chosen ten? Only 18 songs to go...


The postcard now is Hayley Westenra and a Sami (okay, not quite...).


11 Albania "Hear my plea"

Performed by Frederik Ndoci, in English and Albanian.

We go all serious now for a male singer inspired by Pavarotti, and perhaps the freakiest dress of the night, and a wonderfully kooky violinist.

After the song finished, it sounded like Sarah Cawood said "Sorry, but that was a f##king horror show." Did I hear that correctly, at 20h51 UK time???
LATER: I have been contacted by a number of people who have said things akin to "no, she really said "that was a frocky horra show" but you misheard because of her accent". I'd like to believe that, if it wasn't so very close sounding to that which I thought I heard in the beginning! Whatever - you can make your own mind up from the following recording:

Just download the passworded Zip file, extract the MP3 of the commentary snippet, and listen for yourself.
The password is "i want to hear this" (all lower case). I apologise in advance for this peculiar measure, but given what it appears she is saying, I don't want any emails saying "my kids stumbled upon this by accident", so I am making it that you have to interactively want to listen...


12 Denmark "Drama Queen"

Performed by DQ, in English.

A man dressed as a dancer with slinky dress and fake-feather headdress, in bright magenta. You want a horror show? This is it. We are even treated to the obligatory tear-off-the-dress sequence. Think of Diva International after a few shots of vodka. Mmm, a few hundred perhaps. At least he does the drag queen thing slightly tongue-in-cheek.


13 Croatia "Vjerujem u ljubav (I believe in love)"

Performed by Dragonfly feat. Dado Topić, in English and Croatian.

Aging rocker and his groupie do soft-rock love song, in English and Croatian. The name of the performer apparently means "the dude" in Croatian. How appropriate.


14 Poland "Time to party"

Performed by The Jet Set, in English.

Pop and rap meet for those yucky songs that would turn up in the charts as a new entry at number 2 and you'd think "who the hell actually buys that?". If her dress was any shorter, it'd be illegal.
She might have done better without the male vocalist. Rap doesn't work in Eurovision, how many failed attempts do we need?
She gets cute points though, and as she's a good performer she would have had a better song without the male rapper.


15 Serbia "Molitva (Prayer)" MP3'd

Performed by Marija Ŝerifovič, in Serbian.

Here is the left-of-centre I expect from the ex-Yugoslavian area. She comes out looking a bit geeky with those glasses... I think she is a she, amazingly androgynous. Anyway, she comes out and puts it right out there with female singers. A serious, powerful song. I liked it.


16 Czech Republic "Malá Dáma (Little lady)"

Performed by Kabát, in Czech.

It is what I was afraid of. A higher than usual proportion of rock numbers that I would put down to Lordi winning last year, only nobody has the balls to dress up as monsters. If nothing else, that'd just be blatant bandwagoning.

The Czech song contains the obligatory shades-worn-indoors, weird shaped electric guitars, and features a lead singer that only seemed capable of shouting his entire song. It sounded horrible. This is the first song from the Czech Republic.


17 Portugal "Dança comigo (Dance with me)"

Performed by Sabrina, in Portuguese.

The sort of song you'd expect in a Mexican bar, only with plenty of touches of class. A nice entry from Portugal, I hope this goes through.


18 F.Y.R. Macedonia "Mojot svet (¿Sacred music?)"

Performed by Karolina, in Yugoslavian and little bits of English.

A nice song, I liked it, but the performance (with the sweet ballerina and the male/female interaction) reminded me way too much of Romania's entry "Tornero" last year.


A quick pause for sucky-channel-advert-break, so we BBC viewers chat to DJ Bobo.


19 Norway "Ven a bailar conmigo (Come dance with me)"

Performed by Guri Schanke, in English and Spanish.

In English with a chorus line in Spanish, this is a very Spanish-inspired song. Lots of dancing, obviously, and a really nifty change of dress mid-song - interestingly longer than previous, and a change, again, at the end.


20 Malta "Vertigo"

Performed by Olivia Lewis, in English.

A powerful performance by Olivia. She has represented Malta how many times now? Nine? Ten? No, this is her eleventh outing for Malta! Will this be her chance?


21 Andorra "Salvem el món (Let's save the world)"

Performed by Anonymous, in Catalan and English.

List the Boy Bands - Sum41, Blink182, and others with numbers in their name. A song in Catalan, with some bits in English. It is about making a change in this world. One of the singers is apparently from Guildford. Coo!

YES YES YES! Sarah Cawood said they set up a band in the style of their idols, Blink182 and Sum41. Woo-hoo, I called that exactly correctly. Actually, that's kinda sad, isn't it? ☺


22 Hungary "Unsubstantial Blues" MP3'd

Performed by Magdi Rúzsa, in English.

A total change of pace now for a blues number from Hungary. I quite liked this one. Paddy said it was a "sleeper", one that was originally unnoticed but may come along and do big things.


23 Estonia "Partners in Crime"

Performed by Girli Padar, in English.

What, does she think she's Pink-gone-serious? Another soft-rock number, with some flashing lights effects to make us think stuff is happening.


24 Belgium "Love Power"

Performed by The KMGs, in English.

For the style of this song - think "Mika goes hippy love". NEXT!


25 Slovenia "Cvet z juga (Flower of the south)" MP3'd

Performed by Alenka Gotar, in Slovenian.

A woman with a freaky dress and powerful voice sings gothic opera. Could this get any more dramatic? Whoa!


26 Turkey "Shake It Up Shekerim"

Performed by Kenan Doġulu, in English.

This time, George Michael (complete with the "designer stubble") does Eurovision. Energetic routine let down by the song.
Actually, you know what? Make that George Michael meets Chris Moyles...


27 Austria "Get A Life - Get Alive"

Performed by Eric Papilaya, in English.

Austria demonstrating a a pop number which won't win the coveted Grand Prix, but ought to win the "bad taste set design" award. Seriously, I think even Graham Norton would turn this set-piece down, even though it does look like a giant "AIDS awareness" ribbon...
The song is a lot less memorable than the set and the flagrant abuse of tinfoil.
This song is the official anthem for AIDs awareness in Austria. That would explain the red-knot-ribbon.
[thanks Moray, for pointing that out]


28 Latvia "Questra Notte (This night)" MP3'd

Performed by, in Italian.

Talk about saving the best for last. Smartly dressed from the waist up (shame about the jeans), just think Il Divo and you'll know exactly what this is about. A solid performance.


Get ready for voting

While the hosts, after a change of dress talk about how to vote, and how to say some stuff in Finnish, I'll give my rundown of who should progress to the final.


My picks

Here is my pick of the ten to pass to the grand final, with order of preference. Note it is in order of Eurovision scoring, to the ones I like best are given last!
1 The Netherlands   On top of the world
2 Malta Another power ballad
3 Serbia Androgynous power ballad
4 Portugal Lovely simple stylish song
5 Slovenia Gothic opera
6 Switzerland Vampires are alive
7 Georgia Sherilyn Fenn
8 Hungary Unpretentious blues
10 Cyprus Rock comme ca
12 Latvia Il Divo stand aside
I liked Moldova too, but there are only ten places...
Having watched the entire contest again, mainly to get the names of who sings each songs, I would alter the above list to drop Cyprus down to maybe 5th place, and put Serbia in 2nd place. The list would remain unaltered asides from that.
For the third edit, it'd be the same ten songs, but rearranged again - Cyprus back up, Slovenia up, Hungary down a few. Serbia would remain in 2nd place.
So as you can see, while I generally like the same ten songs, the ordering depends a lot upon my caprices. Perhaps at three in the morning as I'm trying to get the document ready for the following day's upload, a bit of blues sounds perfect. Now, it is earlier, so some rock and "popera" (though Alenka transcends "pop opera") are more to my liking. In any case, same ten songs, don't take most of the ordering as fixed as I'll change my mind again tomorrow... ☺

Top three most disliked.

Denmark Dame Edna was last decade
Austria yuck yuck yuck!
Czech Republic   constant shouting


While waiting for the voting to finish

Paddy (left) interviews DQ and Maria, so he's a he (centre) and she's a she (right). We got that sorted. ☺


As the vote comes to an end, the hosts quickly plug the CD and DVD...


We then talk to Scooch, the Brit entry. They will be wearing blue, the bright pink (how camp is that!) is for some of their local performances.


A preview of finalist entries

To fill time, as there was no interval act, we got to see previews of the songs that will be in the final, perfect to say what I think of them.
Bosnia Maybe
Spain Funky, but nah
Ireland Yay, this sounds okay - I want an MP3 of it!
Finland Not bad, from the preview
Lithuania Nope
Greece Nope
Sweden Uh, no...
France I like this one but I'm afraid it may be lost on many
Russia Tatu reborn, with another member?
Germany   Don't think so
Ukraine No, and it's freakier than Elton John
UK Of course not! We might have stood a chance with Cyndi
Romania Nope!
Armenia No


Time for the results

Mr. Stockselius and cutey. If I need to introduce these people, you've not been paying attention... for years and years...


So here are the results of the European vote. The number in the caption is the position where the song will appear in the grand final.











In other words...

Belarus The sticky girls
Slovenia Gothic opera, I expected this to get through
Georgia Sherilyn Fenn - well done Georgia!
Serbia The androgynous girl - good choice
Turkey Shaken, not stirred...
F.Y.R. Macedonia   The bouncing ballerina
Hungary The blues - I expected this to get through
Latvia If this hadn't gone though, I'd have given up watching!
Bulgaria What the...? Are you taking the ####?!?!
Moldova Leather and violins


The actual results

I thought the actual results of the semi-final were not supposed to be 'known'.
Well, here they are... [thanks Moray!]

298 ...  1 ... Serbia
224 ...  2 ... Hungary
197 ...  3 ... Turkey
176 ...  4 ... Belarus
168 ...  5 ... Latvia
146 ...  6 ... Bulgaria
140 ...  7 ... Slovenia
123 ...  8 ... Georgia
 97 ...  9 ... F.Y.R. Macedonia
 91 ... 10 ... Moldova

 88 ... 11 ... Portugal
 80 ... 12 ... Andorra
 77 ... 13 ... Iceland
 75 ... 14 ... Poland
 65 ... 15 ... Cyprus
 54 ... 16 ... Croatia
 49 ... 17 ... Albania
 48 ... 18 ... Norway
 45 ... 19 ... Denmark
 40 ... 20 ... Switzerland
 38 ... 21 ... The Netherlands
 33 ... 22 ... Montenegro
 33 ...  = ... Estonia
 17 ... 24 ... Israel
 15 ... 25 ... Malta
 14 ... 26 ... Belgium
  4 ... 27 ... Austria
  1 ... 28 ... Czech Republic



Note: This was written before the full scores (above) were known, so there is no reference to that. Draw your own conclusions. ☺

On the whole I think Europe choose well. While I can imagine Switzerland's vampires being left for the creatures of the night (oh dear, it was a favourite to win!), I think it is disappointing that Cyprus did not figure, and it is a total injustice that Portugal was not in the running - especially given that Bulgaria made the grade.

Terry Wogan (in the commentary of the final) was not backward about coming forward about the "political voting", which seems to be his own pet conspiracy theory.
Perhaps, rather than political, Bulgaria made it through to the final because the large Eastern European contingent would have appreciated this song more?
Wogan also commented that of the number of Western European countries in the semi-final, not one made it to the final - due to it being what one teletext correspondant called the EastEurovision Song Contest.

I am pleased to see that my three most-hated didn't get through, and it was pretty much a given that the rap elements would kill Poland's song stone dead.

I had actually expected Israel to go through, sometimes the voting is weird like that and a bad song (in this case, bad theme) will progress to be royally humiliated. Or perhaps voted for by people who really should get a clue. I refer anybody to LT United in 2006 for an example of the latter. However nobody pushed Israel's buttons. Hasta la vista, ciao-ciao-bye-bye and never heard of again. Like, whatever.


REALLY sticking my neck out...

The original of this document was uploaded to my web site on Friday, with the grand final on the day after, the Saturday. This gives me a brief time to genuinely call who I think will be a mover and who will be a winner without already knowing.
This line is newer, as the contest has now happened and the text about "The final will be on Saturday" is no longer relevant.

I guess it comes time to see how I call it. From the semi final and the preview, with no further knowledge (no downloaded MP3s, no trawling ESCtoday, etc), I can narrow the list down to:

Remember that the audience profile will be a lot larger and also a bit different. You see, in a number of places the semi-final is consigned to a minority channel; sometimes also a digital channel so those stuck in the dark ages won't have access. These images were taken from BBC Three, for instance.
The grand final, however, enjoys the prime time. Bang through Saturday evening, on BBC One. You can't get it any bigger than that on British television. And absolutely everybody, even those with a 405/625 switchable black-and-white valve television will be able to receive the song contest. Well, this year. Maybe not next.

Essentially, although the five songs I list above are all good in their own ways, I think it will come down to a battle between Latvia and Slovenia; and it is hard to call this, however if I have to, I'd go on the side of Latvia.
However, let's keep an eye on Ireland. It sounded a lovely song from the tiny preview, but a preview isn't a three-minute performance. Things may change on the night.


And finally...

I'd like to see France win. I like the song, and, hey, if they hold the contest in Nantes instead of the more likely Paris, I could maybe go see it for real instead of watching on TV. ☺

I think it is safe to say that the United Kingdom won't win. I always say... oh, come on, you know how I rate the UK. ☺ I think if Scooch do pull off a winning song, I'd go get myself in a state of absolute sozzlage... which may be easier said than done, given that I appear to be 'sensitive' (I hesitate to use the word 'allergic' as the medical meaning is different to what many people think it means) to alcohol, and as mom doesn't drink there isn't exactly much to get sozzled with.
Not that I need to stock up on foul-tasting overpriced concoctions such as whiskey or whisky, 'cos the UK won't win. Latvia will...


Other people's thoughts on interactive media

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Copyright © 2007 Rick Murray
Images copyright © 2007 EBU-UER
Broadcast in widescreen by BBC Three.