The Eurovision Song Contest 2009
The second Semi Final
We're back to the overstated so-big-it-hurts Moscow Olympic Arena just as the 10 second count happens. I've just noticed the EBU logo has been sexed up. I would like to like it, but it's like when they revamp the theme tune of your favourite TV programme, you're like "noooo! leave it be!". In my benefit, the new logo appeared to suffer from 'noise'. This is possibly more a fault of PAL via composite video than anything else, but it means I can point to it and go "ugh!". ☺ Picture above, look at all the interference around the word "Eurovision".
Okay, the original sliding-in-paint-strokes was about as sophisticated as Button Moon, but that was all it needed. At least they've not messed with the da-da-da-da-dum-daah-di-dah...
Intro act. Russian dolls and some extremely odd looking instruments - playing a medley of famous ESC songs. You can't miss "Waterloo". Dancing bears, snow sparklers.
1 Croatia "Lijepa Tena"
Performed by Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea.
Sultry woman in black with a wind machine, and a tenor, and a co-singer in white. Not my thing, but competently performed. This ought to qualify.
Actually, the co-singer was originally in black. It was a costume change. Why am I making a big deal of this? Because I think we've made history, having passed an entire semi-final with no costume changes. Incredible!
2 Ireland "Et Cetera"
Performed by Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy.
Bew*tched doing Vanilla Ninja (Switzerland 2005). It isn't a bad song, might make it to airplay, but it's so far from anything that Ireland has ever won with. Will it qualify?
Apparently Sinéad came 6th in the same programme that picked Donna and Joe representing Ireland.
3 Latvia "Probka"
Performed by Intars Busulis.
Chris Moyles and two girls from the '70s shout a lot. There's a weird slow paced falsetto bit in the middle, as if these are two different songs.
4 Serbia "Cipela"
Performed by Marko Kon & Milaan.
A man with Shaun the sheep hair and the oddest assortment of dancing dancers (including a flexible woman) put in a comedy act. He looks like some kind of eccentric science teacher.
How ironic that one of the countries that always took the contest seriously has sent in a comedy act when it looks like the rest are starting to take it seriously!
5 Poland "I Don't Wanna Leave"
Performed by Lidia Kopania.
A word for this ballad could be "triste". Powerful, emotional, lovely performance by the ballerina.
This, however, is one of the few songs to feature hand-held camerawork instead of crame-mounted, and let's just say it is quite uneven and jarring to watch.
6 Norway "Fairytale"
Performed by Alexander Rybak.
One of the favourites, this. A young Morten Harket with a violin. It's a pleasant song, but is it a winner? Could be, it's a good routine, it's a fun song, he's got loads of charisma. All the necessary ingredients.
7 Cyprus "Firefly"
Performed by Christina Metaxa.
"Firefly" was a highly underrated space sci-fi by Joss Whedon, and made television history by being a cancelled series that was later turned into a big budget movie ("Serenity").
I'm not sure exactly how to describe this, it's a lovely song, with such an arty gentleness. Three glowing boxes are a simple gimmick well used.
Sadly I don't feel this will qualify. Firstly, I'm gushing about it and that's surely the kiss of death. And secondly, some wobbly vocals. You can see the nerves at play.
We've come to expect these gentle understated songs from Cyprus; and like the artistic oddities from Croatia (and sometimes Bosnia), they won't win, but please don't change. I am always pleased to see one such song make it into the final as, really, twenty five power ballads would be insufferable.
8 Slovakia "Let' Tmou"
Performed by Kamil Mikulčík & Nela Pocisková.
We welcome Slovakia after a ten year absence.
It started off well with just the girl. Then he turned up and it went a bit Il Divo with them shouting at each other and into the microphones. While he was good, I think she walked rings around him - rather reminds me of when Barb Streisand duetted with Neil Diamond on "You Don't Bring Me Flowers". This song, however, was considerably less subtle.
9 Denmark "Believe Again"
Performed by Brinck.
A reasonable soft rock number with sparlkies and stuff. Written by Ronan Keating, and spookily Brinck seems to be performing it AS Ronan! Go on, close your eyes and tell me you can tell a difference!
10 Slovenia "Love Symphony"
Performed by Quartissimo feat. Martina.
Quartissimo sounds like a type of espresso. People playing strings in boxes, and a woman in a box. Of this entry, most of it is the introduction, in a classical transition style (think "Bond" (as in the four violinists, not 007)). After she begins singing, you kinda wish she'd stayed in the box. Thankfully it's only about a minute to endure. Let's have the music back instead...
11 Hungary "Dance With Me"
Performed by Zoli Ádok.
He gets to lie on the floor with his head between a woman's legs. Nice work if you can get it... ☺
Whoo - here we go. The 11th song of the second semi, and it's a pointless costume change. Not just the one, either. This is a bit Justin Timberlake and for that reason alone it won't qualify.
If you think Hungary's song is a bit naff, keep in mind it's their third. The first was deemed ineligible. The performer of the second pulled out due to other commitments. This is third time lucky, or perhaps not...
12 Azerbaijan "Always"
Performed by Aysel & Arash.
It's a Eurovision style song, isn't it? You can spot some eastern influences here. She's pretty, he's dressed like a hotel porter. This will do well.
13 Greece "This Is Our Night"
Performed by Sakis Rouvas.
Recognise him? Apparently a favourite, but I'm not convinced. The only thing I will say is performing that dance routine will be quite a workout.
Either there's a conveyor belt in that box, or he can glide like Michael Jackson can only dream of.
14 Lithuania "Love"
Performed by Sasha Son.
A bloke with a mafia-man hat and a piano. Nice entry. Reminds me of something Germany might have entered.
15 Moldova "Hora Din Moldova"
Performed by Nelly Ciobanu.
It's a traditional music performance, but it's actually quite catchy. Nice skirt too, check out that detail (no, that wasn't a euphemism, I'm talking about the garment!).
16 Albania "Carry Me In Your Dreams"
Performed by Kejsi Tola.
Fluffy-haired girl sings a pop song. Fair enough. It could have stood on its own. Did we need the acrobatic midgets and the blue bloke?
17 Ukraine "Be my valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)"
Performed by Svetlana Loboda.
A set design like something out of a budget sci-fi flick, and a sassy woman as Ukranian women seem to be. Underdressed mohawks, it's all a bit wild.
18 Estonia "Rändajad"
Performed by Urban Symphony.
Lifting the title of a Verve song, a woman with a violin and moody music. There are a lot of violins this year, aren't there?
The feel of this performance is a kind of pagan take on Nocturne. I quite like it.
And here it comes, the last song of the night...
19 The Netherlands "Shine"
Performed by The Toppers.
A political song with some, perhaps unintentionally, hysterical lines - such as "love will make us glow in the dark". Fzzzzzt-fzzzzzt-fzzzzzt-fzzzzzt-fzzzzzt-fzzzzzt! [*]
It's three backing singers and three blokes who have horribly abused the sequin.
* - that's the noise you make when you glow in the dark; god people, don't you watch B movies?
Voting commences / my picks
Time to start voting.
Okay, so here are my picks:
- Cyprus (firefly)
- Norway (the predicted winner)
- Estonia (violin girl)
- Poland (ballerina)
- Moldova (detailed skirt)
- Azerbaijan (at least it isn't screaming angels)
- Denmark (being Ronan)
- Lithuania (piano hat guy)
- Greece (it's sure to qualify)
- Ireland (Bew*tched/Vanilla Ninja)
The interval, or not...
There's the usual recap. A chat with Graham Norton, some behind the scenes stuff, more recaps. Gotta pass 15 minutes. The BBC then cuts out to talk to some of the divas, show who the UK entry is up against. More Jade publicity.
We do get to see Paddy in the commentary booth, so if you ever wonder what it's like...
Oh, Kati's around today. As we're seeing these faces, it means the votes are in. Counted, washed, hung up to dry ready for use on Saturday... ☺
Obviously I'm a little bit upset that Cyprus did not qualify, but even more so than the first semi, there is nothing surprising with this selection.
Of Cyprus, a friend wrote:
she seems so lovely and modest and shy and unassuming, but this competition is just too big for her
and I think he's hit the nail on the head. I am reminded of a television programme ages ago where a classical violinist and a club DJ swapped places to experience each other's world. At the end of the programme, when the violinist quite got into the whole club scene, my only thought was "oh my God, they broke the cute girl".
I'm tempted to say something like that here. I think this is the sort of soft song that suits Christina, but I don't think performing it to a hundred million people in a venue the size of the Isle of Wight is exactly suitable. We can certainly thank Eurovision for giving us a glimpse (even if she was like totally nervous) and maybe if I'm ever in Cyprus one day (unlikely, mind you, I don't like hot places much) I might bump into her performing in a smaller more intimate setting, one where she can connect with the audience.
But, hey, congratulations to Cyprus for running with a song that is rather different to the usual Eurovision fodder (you know - pap rock, Abba clones, and Lane Moje recycled ad finitum)...
It also seems to be that Bosnia is stealing the limelight for the arty oddities away from Croatia.
Say what you want about Bistra Voda, it is well performed and memorable.
Continue on to the Grand Final
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Copyright © 2009 Rick Murray
Images copyright © 2009 EBU-UER
Broadcast in widescreen by BBC Three.