Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eurovision Song Contest Malmö 2013, Semi-Final 2 - Thursday 16.05.2013

One down, one to go.  After a generally well-received set of qualifiers from Semi-Final 1, we move on to Thursday night and semi-final 2 which is generally considered to be the stronger of the two semi-finals. 

As with semi-final 1 there are no opening titles as such.I don't like this opening act with the dancing orchestra.  Being the old ESC purist that I am, I'd rather have the real orchestra back.  This looks more like something out of "Sweden's Got Talent".  It gets slightly more interesting when it goes all free running and cycling-up-the-skatepark-wall.  And there is dubstep.  Oh bloody hell, will someone please take dubstep away?

Petra Mede is dressed in a pretty ridiculous outfit.  She seems more comfortable in her role tonight, although still coming over as one of the most "posh" ESC presenters in many years, but she has definitely grown on me.   

LATVIA: "Here We Go" - PeR.

Oh my beloved Latvia, what has become of you?
PeR, with their glittery outfits, spikey hair and random jumping around could be misconstrued as a Jedward tribute act.  There's even a stage dive and they're proud to tell us all about it.  "The first stage dive in Eurovision history comes from Latvia!!"  It's a lively start and they make the most of the catwalk, but I can't find anything positive to say about it.  Mum is watching again tonight and she is unimpressed. 
M: I don't like rapping.
L: I like good rapping,  but this isn't good rapping.

SAN MARINO: "Crisalide (Vola)" - Valentina Monetta.

One of this year's biggest pre-contest fan-faves, th
is is thankfully a million miles away from the car-crash that was the Social Network Song/Uh oh, oh oh oh beep beep etc etc.  It's a song with a major identity crisis though: it starts off as a ballad and turns into a big gay old Euro-stomper. I like it, but it might just be a bit too old-Eurovision.  I did have this as a qualifier though....

MACEDONIA: "Pred Da Se Razdeni" - Esma and Lozano.

Lozano. Yum.  Not only does he have a great voice, but he's just become even more yum as he's removed his glasses and looks damn gorgeous.  By this time, mum has dozed off again and so she's missing this visual feast.  However she wakes up again towards the end of the song, just in time for big Esma in full lelelelelelelelele flow.  

M: I don't get this.
L: I love this! Although it doesn't really work - there's no real connection between them and it's like two people singing two different songs at the same time.  But young Mr Lozano can come back and represent Macedonia next year.  And the year after that.  And the year after that. 

AZERBAIJAN: "Hold Me" - Farid Mammadov. 

In my own humble opinion, Azerbaijan has had a rather unhealthy influence on the Eurovision Song Contest since its 2008 debut.  So all the post-contest talk of voting scandals and the undercover SIMs-for-votes video didn't surprise me.  Ironically, "Hold Me" is probably their best entry yet, performed very nicely by the not entirely unattractive Farid, with just the right amount of vulnerability.

Unfortunately the staging (man in a box and a woman in a big frock) is from the "Believe" Kitchen Sink School of Eurovision Staging.  Which can end up a major distraction, to the detriment of the song.

M: This is too gimmicky, too distracting.  Can he not just stand there and sing the song without all that rubbish going on?
L: The song is good and his performance is very good but it's ruined by the choreography.

FINLAND: "Marry Me" - Krista Siegfrids.

Lightweight nonsense from the Finnish Ke$ha with ding dongs a plenty, and a "controversial" kiss at the end. Mum is irritable.

M: This is naff.  Like something from 40 years ago.
L: Actually it's quite up to date - you could imagine something like this in the charts nowadays.
M: I don't listen to the charts so I couldn't tell you!
L: Oh oh, oh oh a ding dong!

We then get Ana interviewing Andrius, the guy with one shoe called love and the other one is pain. Now back to the songs.

MALTA: "Tomorrow" - Gianluca.

Or Dr Gianluca Bezzina to his patients, administering a prescription of sunshine and relentless glee throughout his performance.  This is such a nice, happy song which always hits the target.  Gianluca high-fives his way along the catwalk, and the result is three minutes of happiness.

M: This is a nice cheery song.

BULGARIA: "Samo Shampioni" - Elitsa and Stoyan.

Ana calls Elitsa "the Bulgarian Sheila E" - I loved that comparison!  It's three minutes of percussion interrupted by wailing and what looks like the grandchildren of the Buranovskiye Babushki on backing vocals.

ICELAND: "Eg A Lif" - Eythor Ingi.

Eythor's wearing the black jacket, good choice I think. There's a lovely stage backdrop with a lighthouse and little wooden houses which makes me want to board a flight to Iceland right now.

L: Good old egg a leaf.
M: He's not singing egg a leaf, he's singing yegg a leaf.
L: Yes but the song title's egg a leaf.  Oh forget it.
M: He looks as if he should be in a heavy metal band.  Good singer though.  I like this.

GREECE: “Alcohol Is Free” - Kosa Mostra and Agathon Iakovidis.

At this point feel free to jump in and scoff, but I love, love, love this.  It's manic ska-flavoured fun with a capital F and Greek with a capital G.  Love it!  You can’t have enough Greek men in kilts.
Unfortunately due to the ongoing and worsening economic crisis in Greece, which shockingly resulted in the government's recent closure of ERT, we wonder where this leaves Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest.  Maybe a small and insignificant matter in the larger scheme of things, but we still wonder anyway. 

ISRAEL: “Rak Bishvilo” - Moran Mazor.

This one has grown on me over recent weeks.  All the comments leading up to the contest have been about her and her glasses and that dress, rather than the song.  She is a lovely, real woman with a wonderful voice.  This may not be a particularly great song but she is mesmerising. 

ARMENIA: “Lonely Planet” - Dorians.

Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath wrote this, don’t ya know!  The Dorians ditch the gimmicks for a straightforward rock band/concert performance.  They are very comfortable on stage.  This is another ‘let’s save the world’ song but less offensive than that awful Russian effort this year.  Strangely enough I really enjoyed this, although there are some shabby camera angles and poor backing vocals towards the end of the song.  They all go on about Andrius from Lithuania's eyebrows, but these ones are serious!

HUNGARY: “Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix) - ByeAlex.

Mum wakes from her slumber just in time for ByeAlex who as usual hasn’t exactly dressed up for the occasion.  This gets a few cheers from the audience and there is a trippy cartoon backdrop.  The song is quite sweet and less-is-more, although his can’t-be-arsed delivery of it suggests to me that he wouldn’t really be that bothered if it qualified or not.  I'd like to see him with a makeover, with the beard shaved off and the hat removed.  Oh and did he sing "Nurofen" at one point?

NORWAY: “I Feed You My Love” - Margaret Berger. 

Maybe not ‘skipping dinner to get thinner’ but I’d like to know the secret of how she gets into this dress. It's a little customised variation on the original MGP-winning dress by the way, and that little second-verse dance totally destroys the ice queen persona.  Effortlessly sailing to the final.

Hello, how's the flow?  Yes, Petra is relaxing in the green room and interviewing none other than the legend who is Lys Assia, the queen of Eurovision.  Long may she reign.

ALBANIA: "Identitet" - Adrian Lulgjuraj and Bledar Sejko.

Followers of this blog and my Twitter feed will be well aware that I wasn't too happy when this won FiK back in December 2012.  So it was one of the biggest surprises of this Eurovision season when this duo and their band took to the ESC stage to deliver a rock-tastic performance and suddenly it all made sense.  A confident performance with that pyro guitar solo.... they were robbed, weren't they!

GEORGIA: "Waterfall" - Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani.

The G:son-written, bought-in song.  The not-entirely-unattractive Nodi will be welcome at ESC any time as a solo performer.  They may be sailing on a sea of dreams, but there is little chemistry between him and Sophie, and at one point it looks as if she's drunk and he's holding her up.  I still think we're back in cynical 'let's win ESC' territory.  It's a little too cold and calculating. It's Running Scared II. 

SWITZERLAND:  "You and Me" - Takasa.

Or the artists-known-as-Salvation-Army to be precise.  That 95 year old guy with the double bass doesn't know where he is.  Not much effort has gone into this - from the drab backdrop to the stage presentation where they all just basically stand in a line.  This is not qualifying, is it?  But that guitarist is hot.  Oh, and did I mention that guitarist is hot???

ROMANIA: “It’s My Life” -  Cezar.

Ana is calling this guy the second coming of Klaus Nomi.  He should have kept the song in the lower register.  But the song is secondary to the kitchen-sink performance with the gymnast/dancers who don't look as if they have any clothes on, and Cezar himself who seems to pay tribute to his country which after all gave us the legend of Dracula.  Eats My Life.  Even this has a flippin' dubstep breakdown. 

I’ve hugely enjoyed tonight, although mum didn't quite share my enthusiasm and bailed out of the proceedings, however promises to return for the final. 

Recap time, and for Georgia they show the propping-a-drunk-woman-up clip.  BBC Three has an interview with Ryan Dolan which I miss most of, because....I’m off to fetch the laptop, because I’m not going to make the same mistake as Tuesday night and miss what’s happening on stage.  Whilst.  BBC Three is doing a VT about Swedish music, even interviewing Westlife's Kian Egan and top songwriter and Idol judge Andreas Carlsson, I head over to SVT Play for the interval act - Darin and Agnes!  Not together but separately. 

Darin gives us a little medley of “Nobody Knows” and “So Yours” proving yet again that he should be a major international megastar.  I would really love so see him represent Sweden at Eurovision some day but that probably won't happen now :(  Ditto, Agnes.

Ms Carlsson then takes to the stage (with a subliminal nod to Sertab’s 2003 winning dress) with “One Last Time” and “Release Me”. 

Meanwhile over at BBC Three, they're interviewing Aussie commentator Julia Zemiro and the legend who is Paul "Dr Eurovision" Jordan, swiftly followed by some hot Greek men in kilts, and then Bonnie Tyler.  I think we all agree that the Ana Matronic experiment has been very successful, and maybe she'll talk Jake and her other 'Sisters' into representing the UK, eh?  But wait...

BBC Three: “Oh look, there’s a song we know - quick - let’s go to the TV coverage for the last minute of “Release Me”.

Let's then have a look at the big 5 (and Sweden) shall we?  Petra then introduces ESDM and Cascada-Natalie in the audience. 

Petra: "When in doubt, turn to Norway!" as she introduces Mr Eurovision, Jon Ola Sand.

After a blast of the Euphoria-foghorn, Petra reveals the qualifiers for the final. 

First out is..Hungary!  Now there’s a shocker! The fan community is immediately wondering who’s going to miss out......   #lessismore

Azerbaijan #quellesurprise #maninabox

Georgia #nodinodinodi
Romania #haha #eatsmylife #100%successrecord

Norway #feedingtime #norvegedouzepoints

Iceland #yay  #eggaleaf

Armenia #12pointsfromAzerbaijan  #booing #eyebrows

Finland #dingdong

Malta #ohohohoh #jeremy #yay

And the final qualifier is:

Greece #kilts #hotbeardedmen #greeceistheword

So, San Marino misses out again, but could it be third time lucky for Ms Monetta in Denmark 2014?  It has been announced this week that she will represent San Marino for the third year in a row!  Glad to hear it - people of Europe, please reward her and San Marino with a place in the final next year! 

Albania fails to make the final: will they play it safe next year or will they send something completely off-the-wall Rona style?  The answer is just 6 months away!

And finally...there is no place for my lovely Lozano in the final, meaning that for the first time in many years, there will be no presence from the former Yugoslavia in the final.

So the line-up is now known for the final in Malmö....

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