That’s How You Write a Song (Alexander Rybak)
Rybak automatically carries the weight of high expectations – he’s a past winner and he had to open the show. But it’s a virtual repeat of his Norwegian qualifying performance. Hopefully there’s at least one surprise for the finals, even if it’s just to swap out that blue jacket for something that doesn’t see him disappear against the similarly hued background.
Random Thought: Where was the chunky dancer? One change from Oslo and that’s what you choose to alter?!
Goodbye (The Humans)
If there’s one non-qualifier I could put through to the finals, it would be this. The mannequins were an inspired choice and the wind machine was suitably 1980s-rock ballad-ish. But there was a fussiness to the opening choreography that didn’t quite work for me and I’ve heard Cristina Caramarcu sound better in earlier performances. Maybe she was tired from having to climb that mountain they forced the band up for their postcard.
Random Thought: So it’s goodbye to Goodbye. But thanks for the pianist bear.
Nova Deca (Sanja Ilić & Balkanika)
Defying the odds (that had them as far back as 15th) Sanja Ilić & Balkanika have elbowed their way into the finals. As I’ve noted before, this is an underrated tune and the band are impressive live. I’m sad about Romania, but Serbia qualifying almost makes up for it.
Random Thought: Almost.
Who We Are (Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening)
Look, they never really had a chance and Jessika’s wobbly vocals didn’t help matters. The robot holding the sign “Size doesn’t matter” kind of says it all – smaller countries are always going to struggle at Eurovision but I’d hate for San Marino to stop sending entries, they’re my favourite underdogs.
Random Thought: Size does matter.
Higher Ground (Rasmussen)
There were a few painful notes from Rasmussen, but I’m less disinterested in this entry than I was previously.
Random Thought: It’s nice that Game of Thrones loaned them a snow machine.
I Won’t Break (Julia Samoylova)
Samoylova can sing. She can even do a passable Whitney (and that’s a steeper mountain than the one she’s sitting on here). So what happened? This is a trainwreck – the overpowering background vocals, the random dancers, hiding Julia’s body in both the video and the live performance, that bizarre hill-thing, the sub-par song. This was meant to be Samolova’s second chance, but her country never gave her a chance.
Random Thought: Julia seems nice.
My Lucky Day (DoReDos)
This was easily the most effective staging of the night, mainly because there was a lot more of hot bear Sergiu Mîța than in the official video. And he brought a lookalike!
The harmonies suffered slightly from the madcap antics (Benny Hill never had to carry a tune when he was doing this kind of farce) but that’s something this insanely likeable trio can tweak now that they have the semi under their belts. Speaking of belts, how sexy does hot bear Sergiu Mîța look in that blue suit? How sexy does hot bear Sergiu Mîța look in anything?
Moldova surprised everyone last year with their best ever placing. The competition is stiffer this time, but with Russia out of contention for the second year in a row I expect DoReDos will again benefit from some bloc voting, plus high points from the UK and Australian televoters – the Brits and Aussies love a laugh. Hmm, his is the longest entry in these reviews. It has nothing to do with hot bear Sergiu Mîța.
Random Thought: It has everything to do with hot bear Sergiu Mîța.
Outlaw In ‘Em (Waylon)
Waylon’s vocals were never going to disappoint, but for a song about being an outlaw he is awfully sedate – that old lady bathrobe in particular isn’t doing him any favours. The dancing didn’t quite gel with the song (do outlaws do acrobatics?) but while others have accused Waylon of blacksploitation in that he’s supported by four men of colour, I assumed the exact opposite. My key issue with Eurovision is that it’s incredibly white. I have the same problem with country music. With his choice of support, I figured Waylon was giving the finger to both.
Random Thought: Hi Waylon, my aunt wondered if you could return her bathrobe.
We Got Love (Jessica Mauboy)
As with the Israeli entry, I feel like I’m expected to love this song. There’s an aura of entitlement about it, even though it’s standard pop with trite lyrics. That said, Mauboy almost makes a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.
Random Thought: Almost.
For You (Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao)
Well, I liked it.
Random Thought: If this had come from Australia everyone would have got love for it.
Light Me Up (Gromee feat.Lukas Meijer)
It baffles me that countries continue to send acts that cannot sing their song live.
Random Thought: I’ve never seen Amish people skateboard before.
The screens were incredibly effective but the lyrics still make no sense.
Random Thought: Christabelle seems nice.
Viszlát Nyár (AWS)
Running and screaming never sounded so good. Yes, these entries are getting shorter. I’m so not reviewing the finals.
Random Thought: That was really post-hardcore.
Funny Girl (Laura Rizzotto)
I suspect this will be the lowest ranked song of the night. I gave this a B+ in my reviews? I must have been drunk at the time.
Random Thought: That dress-shorts thing she’s wearing is very dress-shortsy.
Dance You Off (Benjamin Ingrosso)
Sweden is two steps ahead of everybody. The rest of Eurovision is acting like it’s a stage show when the Swedes know it’s the TV visuals that get you votes – so why not have your act look like a music video? Despite the effective staging, there’s something missing here. Ingrosso has charm to spare but there’s a clinical nature to his performance, and he needs to improve those vocals.
Random Thought: This is still the coolest song in the contest this year.
Inje (Vanja Radovanović)
I gave this song a Zzzzzzzz in my reviews? It’s a bit sleepy and Radovanović doesn’t help matters – great voice, zero charisma – but still, it deserves a rating. B? B.
Random Thought: That suit is…I don’t know what it is. Awful?
Hvala, Ne! (Lea Sirk)
Wow! Just like Cyprus in the first semi, this is a singer I’ve underestimated. Lea Sirk nailed the vocals, and the “OMG, the music cut out” beat was the standout moment of the night.
Random Thought: Lea Sirk seems nice.
Under the Ladder (Mélovin)
I didn’t think Mélovin could up the drama from his qualifying performance but never underestimate a vampire. I still can’t believe the Ukrainian judges didn’t want to send him to Lisbon, he’s one of the highlights of the whole shebang. Mélovin has been stuffed into the opening slot for the finals, which will dent his chances, but never underestimate a vampire.
Random Thought: I so expected him to burst into flames the moment he stepped out of the doorway into the sunlight.