Eurovision 2018: The Reviews – Semi-Final One

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AZERBAIJAN
X My Heart (Aisel)
While the staging had the potential to be the most effective of the night (there was just a little too much white, Aisel and the dancers often disappeared but those triangular platforms looked great), unfortunately her vocals were a tad underwhelming, especially her lower register.
Random Thought: I bet the rehearsals did wonders for toning her legs.

Coming to a gym near you…

ICELAND
Our Choice (Ari Ólafsson)
With Albania’s success (see the next entry) this is now my most criminally underrated song this year. Ari nailed the vocals, there was genuine warmth in his (and the back-up vocalists’) performance, and I still think the song is sweetly inspirational. Send Ari again, Iceland, he did you proud! All that said, the puppet in the postcard will give me nightmares for life.
Random Thought: I want his jacket.

ALBANIA
Mall (Eugent Bushpepa)
I told you, world. I told you that you were underrating this entry! I can’t even describe how good those vocals were. And that moment where the lights all cut to black, save the single bright spot on him, then exploded back to life… So simple, but the one image of the whole night that stuck in my head.
Random Thought: I need his jacket. 

BELGIUM
A Matter of Time (Sennek)
Zzzzzzzzzz.
Random Thought: Zzzzzzzzzz.

CZECH REPUBLIC
Lie To Me (Mikolas Josef)
I didn’t think this entry could annoy me more than it already did, but somehow it managed. But I’m sure 12 year old girls are all having very confusing feelings tonight.
Random Thought: I was totally hoping there was a severed head in that backpack.

LITHUANIA
When We’re Old (Ieva Zasimauskaitė)
I said this entry would stand or fall on Ieva’s vocals – well, it not only stood, it jumped and waved flags. Making the song personal by bringing her husband in at the end could have been trite. But that catch in her throat was pure authenticity.
Random Thought: There are A LOT of bears in the various support crews!

Hello, random Albanian bear!

ISRAEL
Toy (Netta)
A definite victim of front-runner fatigue. Netta’s vocals were good, but not great (shouting isn’t singing), the staging is distracting, and like Italy last year, there’s a sense that we’ve seen all this already. Because we have. Popularity breeds ‘meh’. For months I’ve felt like I’m being ‘sold’ this song, that if I didn’t like it there’s something wrong with me. Clearly, there’s something wrong with me.
Random Thought: Those Maneki-neko cats aren’t bringing her any good fortune.

BELARUS
Forever (Alekseev)
There are 43 entries in Eurovision this year. This was one of them.
Random Thought: He really needs to get that rash on his back checked out.

ESTONIA
La Forza (Elina Nechayeva)
This is highly rated, highly over-rated if this is an indication of her vocal abilities. Her lower register was painfully bad (ain’t nowhere to hide flaws when you’re singing opera). She cannot afford to be so pitchy in the final.
Random Thought: That final swirl on her dress may have been an attempt to hypnotise viewers into voting for her.

BULGARIA
Bones (Equinox)
Things aren’t looking good for Bulgaria. Those voices just aren’t meshing live the way they do in the studio version. And that staging was muddy at best.
Random Thought: Bears are awesome.

These bears in particular…

MACEDONIA
Lost and Found (Eye Cue)
I suspect this will turn out to be the lowest ranked song of this semi. I still rate the song but something went wrong here, “something” being “everything”. Everyone on stage looked like they’d just woken up and been thrown on stage – the performance was so flat, as was every second note.
Random Thought: Lost: the tune.

CROATIA
Crazy (Franka)
The staging might have been just a little simple – I would have loved to see Franka moving slinking around the whole stage. The song is about how crazy her lover makes her. I don’t know about you but when I’m filled with desire I don’t tend to stand in one place.
Random Thought: Consolation Prize, Franka – you now got me as a fan for life.

AUSTRIA
Nobody But You (Cesár Sampson)
I was hoping for a gospel choir, or a mini-choir given the limit on the numbers permitted on the Eurovision stage, so I was disappointed that the backup singers were almost invisible. Mr Sampson could dial up the energy at least another 50%, but way to hit those final high notes!
Random Thought: Cesár needs to take off that weird purple shirt.

Much better.

GREECE
Oniro Mou (Gianna Terzi)
Terzi constantly veered between flat and sharp, and sometimes she managed both at the same time.
Random Thought: How did she not get that blue gunk from her hand all over her white dress?

FINLAND
Monsters (Saara Aalto)
I’m not convinced about the para-military uniforms. But I’m convinced about  everything else. Spinning upside down, those vocals, that final jump – sold, sold, sold.
Random Thought: The camera was far too tentative! Saara is magnetic – she’s ready for her closeups.

ARMENIA
Qami (Sevak Khanagyan)
Once again, another vocal that needed some improvement, another act where using more of the stage would have helped the performance, another performer that needed to amp up the delivery.
Random Thought: There aren’t enough shirtless pictures of Sevak online.

SWITZERLAND
Bones (ZiBBZ)
Credit where it’s due – these siblings put on a great show. I just wish they’d had a better song. I gave them a B-, this live version is B+ worthy.
Random Thought: What is a Switzer? Seriously, it’s Switzer-land, the land of Switzers. So…?

IRELAND
Forever (Ryan O’Shaunghnessy)
Ireland, I totally thought you were going to chicken out. But then the lamp appeared. And then the guys strolled out from the darkness. Ryan’s vocals could use some fine-tuning but congratulations, Ireland, welcome back to the finals.
Random Thought: Putin must have hated this. China hated this.

CYPRUS
Fuego (Eleni Foureira)
Someone’s about to become an international star. That. Was. Amazing.
Random Thought: I still have no idea what pelican flying is.

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