So, I got 7 out of 10 on Tuesday and let's just say I didn't take Finland's non-qualification well. There are some songs which, for whatever reason, you just have a feeling that they're not qualifying. I didn't have that feeling with "Blackbird". Not only did I think it would qualify but I genuinely felt that this song would get a top 10 placing on Saturday night. Instead, we just wonder what might have been.
I will review the first semi-final in more detail in the next few weeks but I wanted say that - apart from the non-qualifications of Finland, Latvia and Iceland - there were other disappointments throughout the evening. The vocal shortcomings of many of the artists, for one. And despite "Celebrate Diversity" we had three male interchangeable identikit robot-hosts. Now we all know that Petra is a very tough act to follow, but were these three the best that Ukraine can do? Having said that though, at least Timur is quite nice to look at *shallow alert*.
So let's have a look at tonight's semi-final 2 and the songs I think will qualify.
SERBIA: "In Too Deep" - Tijana Bogićević.
This song has never had any impact on me from day one. It goes down the very same musical road of "Walk on Water" - enough said. I've liked a few of Serbia's songs in recent years but this is just far too anonymous.
AUSTRIA: "Running On Air" - Nathan Trent.
One of this year's most likeable and charming participants, with a sweet and likeable song, and cute staging to match. Austria is maintaining its very strong resurgent phase at ESC and it looks like it will continue this year. I worry of course about the 2nd-placed draw of doom, but hopefully it will work to his advantage after that anonymous opener.
FYR MACEDONIA: "Dance Alone" - Jana Burceska.
In its studio version, this is one of the songs I've played quite a lot this year. It's just a straightforward upbeat pop song, and there are never too many of those at ESC these days. However, rehearsal footage indicates a rather trashy and tacky presentation which may put off many of the juries and televoters.
MALTA: "Breathlessly" - Claudia Faniello.
As old-school 90s ESC ballad as you're likely to get this year. She has a very strong voice and has tried so hard for years and years to represent Malta so I'm happy for her that she's finally made it to ESC. However I think this will just get lost and won't appeal to those who like a more contemprary ESC song.
ROMANIA: "Yodel It" - Ilinca feat. Alex Florea.
I mentioned in one of my previous posts that although I didn't hate any of this year's songs, there was one which I really wouldn't want to win. This is it. I know it's a controversial opinion as this is hugely popular in the fandom, but I just find it intensely irritating. Ilinca's yodelling talent can't be disputed but the whole mix of rap and yodelling just screams clip-show fodder for the next 20 years. Yes, it's a fun song, and boy oh boy do we need more fun in an often very po-faced line-up of songs, but this is just not to my taste.
NETHERLANDS: "Lights and Shadows" - O'G3NE.
Good old Oh-Gee-Three-Knee haven't been so popular with the fandom since this song was chosen. The song isn't as good as it should be, and yes they are certainly far better than the song. I've seen lots of clips on YouTube and their vocal harmonies are never anything less than tremendous. This is one of 2017's most underrated entries and although I still have reservations about the song, their vocal talent should be enough to get them to the final.
HUNGARY: "Origo" - Joci Papai.
Again I never really made a connection with this song during national finals season but credit to it for being (a) in a native language and (b) a break from the norm. Since the beginning of this decade Hungary have qualified to the final every year so this will probably continue that record.
DENMARK: "Where I Am" - Anja Nissen.
On a fashion note I think we're all relieved that she's wearing the red dress rather than the Bebi Dol-inspired combo she wore in the rehearsals. This song still leaves me cold and I am genuinely unsure of how this will do. Yes she can sing, but it all turns into an outbreak of big singing, and that didn't bode well for Albania or Georgia in semi-final 1. If this had been in semi-final 1 it wouldn't have made it, but in the weaker semi-final 2 who knows? However the non-qualification record of the past couple of years doesn't bode well.
IRELAND: "Dying To Try" - Brendan Murray
Dying to try to remember that this song is not called Trying to Die, but Dying to Try. Whatever it's called it's just a soggy old boyband album track which you just press the skip button on. Young and cute will only take you so far, and in a semi-final where he'll be up against the vocally superior Kristian, then Brendan is likely to lose out in the battle for the cute-young-boy vote.
SAN MARINO: "Spirit of the Night" - Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson.
No doubt Valentina is a Eurovision legend within the fandom, but that means nothing to a casual fan or a jury member with no prior ESC knowledge. This is another Ralph Siegel effort and is a tribute to the 70s disco sound, with a bit of "One Night Only" thrown in. They are good singers, yes, but outwith the fandom I can't really see it having much wide appeal.
CROATIA: "My Friend" - Jacques Houdek.
I remember this guy from the Croatian national final a few years ago, singing "Break A Leg". He was beaten by Darja Kinzer, the song eventually became "Celebrate" and failed to qualify for the final in 2011. Jacques might have the last laugh though as this is a completely bonkers, original and memorable concept which will be enough to get him to the final. Jacques is duetting with himself as opera singer and r'n'b singer. He has an impressive voice but the song for me is pretty hideous.
NORWAY: "Grab The Moment" - JOWST.
I might have been underwhelmed by this year's MGP final in Norway but this was an immediately likeable winner. It's modern, but in a good way. It's catchy and well-sung, and very accessible. I have been a bit concerned about the controversy around the vocal samples and hope that this doesn't eventually lead to taped backing vocals being allowed - that would ruin ESC, the same way it has ruined Melodifestivalen.
SWITZERLAND: "Apollo" - Timebelle.
Ah, Switzerland. Eurovision's first ever winners - and eternal underachievers ever since. This is just one of the emptiest songs for me this year. The singer's yellow dress is hurtling towards the Barbara Dex award whilst the chorus ("I'll follow you Apollo") is just plain stupid.
BELARUS: "Story of My Life" - Naviband.
Belarus' first ever entry in its national language, sung by a very appealing duo who spread joy in every performance they give. I would love to see this qualify but I'm worried as the country's qualification rate is not good, and the hey-heys can be a bit irritating after a while.
BULGARIA: "Beautiful Mess" - Kristian Kostov.
Kristian is only 17 but he has a vocal quality beyond his years, and he's also been one of the more high profile artists on the pre-party circuit. After Poli's success this year it's very clear that Bulgaria are becoming a force to be reckoned with at ESC. Kristian performs this song very well - but my main problem is with the song itself. It's just too dull for my tastes and is in the same Sam Smith-ballad category as the Aussie entry. It's one of the main contenders but lacks that something special to make it truly great. He is better than the song.
LITHUANIA: "Rain of Revolution" - Fusedmarc.
This song was this year's winner of Europe's most interminable national finals process. And at the end of it, the general view was...."is that it???". Along with Poland, Lithuania always has a strong diaspora vote - but on the other hand, "Attention" didn't qualify, and that was better than this. This has no redeeming features for me and I can't see it having any voting appeal, so that would normally make a non-qualifier. However: it's Lithuania, so expect qualification even in the most impossible circumstances. Yeah yeah!
ESTONIA: "Verona" - Koit Toome and Laura.
Is it too old-fashioned? Will the viewers get their interpretation of lost love? Will Koit and Laura find that chemistry? We will know this evening. I would just like to say that for me this is one of the more memorable songs this year, I remembered it after one hearing. Eurovision is a very different contest nowadays though, but in a semi-final of many below-par songs, this stands out as one of tonight's best.
ISRAEL: "I Feel Alive" - IMRI.
Another song which has underwhelmed me from the beginning, and I spent weeks and weeks getting this mixed up with the Cypriot entry even though they don't sound like each other (but because two good-looking guys!). If Cyprus qualified, then so can this. It's an upbeat and lively ending to a rather unexciting semi-final line-up.