It’s that time again! After giving my thoughts on Tuesday’s Semi-Final, it’s now time for me to feedback on Eurovision Song Contest 2012 Semi-Final 2, which took place last night. If you want to remind yourself of context and so on, check out the introduction to the Semi Final 1 Post. You might even want to check out those thoughts before looking at these if you haven’t already red the other post.
Now, before we get to the actual competitors’ entries, I’m gonna go ahead and say that last night’s show was much better than Tuesday’s. There were two reasons for this. First, but less importantly, the BBC’s production was much smoother yesterday. Tuesday it seems as if the talent and production team had turned up five minutes before air and had no idea what they were going to be doing more than five to ten minutes in advance. Last night flowed much more smoothly, it felt a lot more planned & considered.
They also made sure Sara Cox was rarely without Scott Mills to balance out her irritating quirks (Cox is much more agreeable playing off Scott Mills than she is trying to be funny on her own).
Secondly, and most importantly, Azerbaijan’s Semi-Final 2 played host to one of the coolest Eurovision interval acts I have ever seen – I’m almost disappointed they wasted it on the Semi, it easily would have been at home in the Final proper. They got the most recent five winners of the ESC onstage together to perform a medley, including the relevant winning five songs and then a fantastic group cover of Waterloo.
It was awesome. The winners put in standout performances, it sounded great and as a Eurovision nerd it was simply cool to see. Plus, it means Lena was at the ESC for the third successive year.
And it’s no secret I adore Lena, having voted for her on both occasions of her entering the Contest. She’s lovely, and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find out she was back again.
Anyway, with that out of the way, on to the finalists!
Serbia kicked things off with a rather mournful ballad – which frankly set the tone for what wound up being a fairly ballad-heavy semi. Serbia have won with a ballad before, but I’m not really sure it’s gonna work twice. The entry’s not awful, but it didn’t exactly ignite my passions. It did, notably, innovate. Yes, rather than falling into the “pretty lady with a violin cliché…
TWO pretty ladies with violins! Multiple nice-looking women playing lovely sounding string instruments! GENIUS!
I…Wait a minute…
Yep, it happens that quickly. Macedonia went second, and they too put on a mournful ballad (Albeit one which was a little bit more rousing towards the end) with a pair of pretty ladies paling violins. The similarity of the two acts first onstage is frankly hilarious. Luckily they’ve been separated a bit in the Final.
Not much to say about these two if I’m honest. They’re not really to my taste, I’ve only occasionally liked Eurovision ballads (Molitva deserved its win against the finalists that year in my opinion, though Salvem El Móm was the best song in the Contest overall). Still, there are worse songs than these two in the contest. In fact there’s worse songs in the final.
It’s Albania. I’m talking about Albania. That song is baaaaad.
I was slightly concerned this wouldn’t get through. It’s very good; and it has a suitably epic feel (Definitely plays well as a stadium performance, put it that way); but despite it’s catchy, poppy style it also flirts heavily with the rock music aesthetic. And as we know, rock songs have a history of being streets ahead of other songs in the contest and being left in the Semis anyway (Like Salvem El Móm).
Fortunately for Malta, it appears the maltese entry’s pop music stylings saved it from the rock music curse. It may have helped that there was another entry with more overtly rocky stylings to absorb the curse…More on that later.
Ukraine have been known to send some bizarre acts (Dancing Lasha Tumba? That was the Ukraine entry that year. Yeah), and it seems to work for them. Be My Guest continues that proud tradition:
And indeed, this is a particularly strong example. The song is actually pretty damn good, which always helps make a novelty act worth our attention, the singer is fairly easy on the eyes and the entry as a whole is very Eurovision. Definitely earning a spot in the final, I noted at the time that there was no way this song was failing to make the cut.
Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the out and out favourite to win:
Euphoria, Sweden’s latest effort, leads the bookies’ odds and the buzz in the hardcore Eurovision crowd is that this is in with a really good chance of stopping the Russian Grannies (The number 2 seed, buoyed by the novelty factor).
And it’s…Actually not bad. It’s not my favourite song in the contest, but I do like it, despite initially not taking to it. I kind of felt like the verses were a bit incomprehensible last night though. It’s possible, however, that this was a technical thing and not related to the song, so it might sound better on Saturday. At any rate, not my pick, but I’d not be upset at it winning.
Unless it narrowly beats Denmark. Then Sweden can go to hell.
Turkey sent a novelty act. Hahahaha, we get it, they made their weird costumes link together in the form of a boat around him. Isn’t that marvellous?
Not especially, no. Annoyingly, the song is actually alright. The problem, as I see it, is that the singer is not…What’s that word…Good? He’s maybe passable. But not good. The song has a relatively catchy hook, but I constantly felt the lyrics and the music were on keys which were not only quite far apart, but also so far apart it seemed unlikely the two had ever met.
Not great, might do well anyway though. Not especially bad either at least.
This is an entry which elicits a “meh” from me. It’s in no way bad, but it’s not really my cup of tea (it’s another soppy ballad). THere was some amusement to be had with its singer though, who is Estonia’s answer to Zac Efron (He played Troy in Estonian High School Musical) and perennial nobody Chris O’Donnell.
So it’s a good looking guy singing a ballad eh?
And so it came to be.
More hilarious lookalike fun to be had here. Take a look at Norway’s entry:
It could also be that this guy is the magic offspring of Kutcher and Taylor Lautner.
Joking aside, Norway put in a solid effort. Nothing much to complain about here. Competent entry, decent enough song, no surprise it made the final. It’ll probably do quite well. I didn’t like it early on in the performance and felt like it might go out, but by the end it had flipped me and I was approving, though slightly concerned about what the judges would do with it. Concerns were ill-founded, since it made it in.
Bosnia And Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina sent Romana, one time Lord President of the Time Lords (Snark snark her costume is preposterous oh that Bosnia and Herzegovina etc. etc.) to perform an example of my least favourite Eurovision entry type, a weeper – a particularly soppy, miserable and downbeat ballad.
Not a fan, but apparently Europe is because it got in along with…
Who also sent a weeper – though at least theirs became a bit more rousing toward the middle and back half. Still not one of my favourites, and I certainly would;t have been sorry to see it go out. It capped off what turned out to be a very ballad-heavy Semi Final, and I have to say I strongly disagree with the sentiment of some other Eurovision geeks (At least ahead of Semi Final 2) that Semi Final 1 was the weaker Semi. Only a few good songs if you ask me – and precious few of those made it from Semi Final 2 to Saturday’s Final (More on that below).
Lithuania did provide me some amusement though, as 24 year old Donny Montell (4 years my senior) looks about half that age.
Anyway, with the Finalists out of the way, it’s time to move on to the unlucky eight who are going home early (Well, metaphorically speaking).
See, I’m not sure if Joan Franka realised 120 Million+ People watch this thing. Because it certainly seemed as if she thought it was a little thing down the pub. Her jaunty little love-themed ditty wasn’t awful, but it was by no means good. It sounded weird and she looked high most of the time she was onscreen (She even seemed under the influence in the Green Room).
Still, the netherlands did decide to keep up the theme of innovation with violins from the two acts before them, by changing things up in a crazy new way:
Note for the record though that a male violinist did win for Norway in 2009. He was also the lyricist though.
Belarus overturned the result of the national tele-vote to pick their entry because their country’s leadership agreed with the population’s sentiment that the vote had been rigged to prevent this entry from winning.
Well, you know what Belarus? You should have let BTRC rig the result. Lightspeed’s effort was incredibly mediocre. Another bloody Eurovision Song about succeeding against long odds, with clichéd boasts of presumptive triumph thrown in? Jeez, guys, 2007 called, they want their semi-finalist dropouts back.
No surprises this went to, and no huge loss to the Contest.
The first big scalp, at least if the hype was to be believed. If you ask me though, a lone woman in a showy dress in front of a crowd of barely moving backup singers (take a shot) singing a ballad? Yeah, like we needed another one of those. Portugal sent a particularly uninspiring effort at a style already being overused, so they were always going out.
Bulgaria’s entry had a lot of hype behind it because it had one of the least worthless gimmicks of all the gimmicks entered this year (And there’s quite a few of them, as per usual). You should check it out, because it’s actually not bad – in fact I had it pegged as probably getting through, though I did imagine it would endure anonymity in the final. I guess Europe had other ideas.
For my money, the biggest scalp of the night, was this rather enchanting entry from Slovenia failing to make it into the final.I really liked it, and it seemed like a lock to me:
But it seems Europe didn’t want that much variety in the finalists tonight (We’ll get to that) and so they decided the only song tonight which successfully took the “get a lady to sing a song” idea in a direction other than “make it a ballad because real art is sad!” should be shown the door. Kind of a big loss. This was a good one. One of my top five for sure.
Yes, it starts off as kind of a ballad, but unlike the others it quickly builds to something anthemic. The others stick pretty stubbornly to downbeat balladic themes. This one reminds me of Molitva, in that it becomes very powerful and catchy as it builds.
Also, she’s quite pretty.
Croatia’s entry opted for an…Ahem…Innovative approach to preparing for the Contest.
Yeah…So that was weird. And not worth it because it didn’t go through. No huge loss, it merely joined the throngs of songs last night which were mournful dreary ballads sung by women. In fact, this one really took the cake:
Still, it did have one thing going for it, the most obvious example of an old friend to all Eurovision fans:
And yes, the Eurovision key Change did lead to it being a bit more upbeat, but enough of it was dreary and miserable that it failed to excite me the way Slovenia did.
Baffling. Just baffling.
Not a huge loss, though not abysmal.
Simultaneously the biggest scalp of the evening (Semi Final 2’s best song – hands down) and the one I was least surprised was forced out. Slovakia, failing completely to heed my repeated warnings about rock songs frequently being among the best songs in the Contest and yet still going out in the Semi because apparently Europe hates rock music now, entered “Don’t CLose Your Eyes” and…Just listen to it:
How can you not want to rock out to that!? It’s fantastic. This is exactly the kind of song which would be played all over University Campuses.
I voted for it, despite knowing full well it was probably a waste of effort. I had to try. Andorra going out still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth (As you may have noticed). Alas, the curse struck once again, and so another of the top five songs in the entire contest has gone out at the first hurdle.
This was the dog with the best chance of unseating Denmark was my personal voice for winner. But Europe hates rock music, and so Slovakia’s chances are down the drain.
So then, I leave you with this:
Go Soluna Samay Go! Vote Denmark!