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Im It To Win It?

May 11, 2016 by

Im It To Win It?

Today I’m watching semi-final 2 in full for the first time. I managed to catch Lithuania onwards the other day when I arrived, so it’s the first part of this semi which interests me the most. Australia gets two mentions at the start of the show, including one in a highly enjoyable musical skit.

Latvia has been very much hyped up pre-rehearsals by people such as myself. Justs looks like a little boy lost at the beginning of ‘Heartbeat’. The staging is classy, modern enough and minimalist. I am questioning whether or not there’s enough going on here visually, but of course this deserves to qualify.

It’s immediately apparent just how powerful Michal’s voice is for Poland. He is doing his best to be remembered from the sh*tty number two slot which killed off Greece last night. If this goes through to the final it will be due to diaspora alone, which of course Poland are never short of.

Switzerland’s Rykka looks like Katie Waissel doing a sing off performance for ‘The Last of Our Kind’ by standing alone on stage and pulling some desperate movements. This is a poor quality song and pyros for the climax feel superfluous for this. Rykka is sounding much better than she has previously.

Israel has some of the most effective floor effects I’ve seen out of all the acts this year. Some of the best vocals I’ve heard too. It certainly blows the first three out of the water, and is very uplifting for the climax where the pyros kick in. This may well be on too early for it to win the semi, but it should be doing well. It’s also noticeably strong in the voting recap.

The naked hologram of Ivan from Belarus will have plenty of people fooled at the start of ‘Help You Fly’. A hologram Ivan plays drums and guitar. Creepy Zora-type characters from The Legend of Zelda walk on by on the backdrop. Your guess is as good as mine. It’s another OTT stage show very much like Iceland was in semi 1. A hologram baby walks across the stage at the end to conclude all of the nonsense.

A nice swirly floor effect is used for the opening of Serbia. A dark red and black colour scheme with vertical lights is all a bit Christopher Maloney singing ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’. The staging is much darker and unpleasant to look at than I’d feared, and is a huge disappointment actually. Despite having voting power, I’ve started laying Serbia for Top 3 in the semi.

I’d heard car crash reports about Nicky Byrne’s vocal in rehearsals, but what I’m hearing today is vocally fine. The backing singers are noticeably strong and carry the song effectively. They probably should’ve gone with an obvious sunshine backdrop or similar, but the staging is vastly more attractive to look at than Serbia and I don’t think there’s a lot wrong with this. Nicky gives the cameras plenty of smiles and overall this is an improvement on Ireland’s last two efforts.

This year’s oldest contest is Kaliopi from FYR Macedonia, who sings the hell out of her dated ballad ‘Dona’. There is some nice focused lighting which shines down from above, but otherwise this is static and a visually unmemorable performance to say the least. Perhaps Kaliopi will be able to cheer herself up by ordering a kebab on the way to the airport tomorrow night.

Lithuania is another visually dull song in this part of the semi. At least ‘I’ve Been Waiting For This Night’ is a modern song though, and Donny Montell sings it well enough. His mop haircut has been a bit of a talking point here. Like Poland, it’s relying on diaspora to get through. This one looks particularly poor in the recap. A band on stage would’ve perhaps made this one something better, like Softengine had for Finland in 2014.

Australia’s Dami Im is next with ‘Sound of Silence’. This is a very accessible, commercial and radio-friendly song which has been packaged with futuristic staging just like the film Minority Report. Dami Im was in much stronger voice than the other day, and was pretty spectacular actually. If she performs it as well as this tomorrow night, it’s going to do pretty decent business on iTunes in the run up to the final. A fair amount of money has been thrown at this, and the Aussies are clearly Im it to win it.

Slovenia also feels like it has come on vocally from the other day, but it’s still a bit dull to watch. There isn’t much to say here other than they’ve got the staging very wrong. It’s all so Taylor Swift that it probably shouldn’t be ruled out as a surprise qualifier.

The word I would most use to describe Bulgaria is embarrassing. There’s an Electro Velvet-style light up section which underwhelms. It has laughable choreography, dark visuals, a poor outfit and doesn’t provide much hope to end Bulgaria’s terrible qualification record. I don’t think ‘If Love Was A Crime’ is a  particularly strong song but it could have been staged a hell of a lot better than this. Need I go on? Poli sings it pretty well, but that’s about it.

Denmark is the third country in a row to have disappointing staging. They’re just standing there with mic stands for the most part. I’m not sure what else they could have done to sell ‘Soldiers of Love’, but this isn’t it. Vocals aren’t the best, and I think Ireland stands a better chance of getting through with a similar-sounding song.

In a short break before Ukraine, Petra Mede mentions that they won the contest before in 2004. This was as the other day; transfixing, powerful and emotional. You may need a lie down after the intensity of this one. Since I first saw it at rehearsals, ‘1944’ has been my frontrunner to win the whole thing, and it still is.

Agnete’s opening note of ‘Icebreaker’ is wobbly and has Rob and I looking at each other and shaking our heads. Apparently it’s off every time. The dancer inside the box is missing from the national final, which I think is a mistake as at least it gave you something to look at. The contrast after vocal powerhouse Jamala reflects terribly on Norway.

Georgia’s frontman Nika bares a striking resemblance to Carl Barat from The Libertines, which is appropriate for this indie rock song. Plenty of split screen effects are used like viewers will have seen for Spain’s clip from last night’s semi-final. It’s a very artistic and creative production, and looks very much like a slickly-produced MTV music video. It’s all so much more impactful than Norway, and has to be in with a shot at qualifying. This is one that would be quite difficult to ‘get’ unless you saw it on TV.

Albania is a perfect example of suffering from what I would call ‘Empty Stage Syndrome’, a term I coined myself. This is when a country has nothing on stage apart from the singer, thus making it incredibly dull to watch. Eneda sings ‘Fairytale’ well enough but it really is a poor quality song that would never exist outside of Eurovision. If there are going to be any surprise qualifiers in this semi, I can’t see this being one of them.

Praise the Lord for Belgium in the pimp slot. This would be the perfect alarm clock song and it certainly wakes you up after the misery of Albania. This isn’t the best quality song, but the staging is a triumph and it’s ideal to close this semi. Laura and her backing posse are great fun to watch and will have younger people up dancing at home. She is a sweet girl and strikes me as being very votable. ‘What’s The Pressure’ is probably the best uptempo overall package in the semi.

“Thunder and lightning, it’s getting exciting” is part of Petra Mede’s script during the voting, and it seems like she’s mocking Russia.

Germany performs first out of the Big 3 which looks and sounds as horrible as before. Italy is as pretty and pleasant as it was before. The UK’s Joe and Jake were good but their pyros were missing for this particular dress rehearsal.

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5 Comments

  1. Henry VIII

    Nice review Tim.

    What do they show on screen when Dami is carried off the plinth? I’m presuming they don’t show that?

    • Tim B

      Hi Henry, I can’t remember exactly what you see on screen at the time, but you definitely don’t see the stage hands lifting her down.

  2. stephen podesta

    Don’t understand why you like Ukraine, this pathetic attempt at Politicising this show is out of character, the song leaves me cold and un excited, the wailing sound like a banshee on steroids. Only good thing is her voice. Makes me shiver.

  3. Montell

    Do you think after tonight’s semifinal Ukraine’s and Australia’s odds will shorten? My gut feeling tells it won’t and Russia’s odds will shorten even more although I wish the opposite.

    • Rob

      Difficult one to answer Montell. We were just debating the same thing. Australian punters are very patriotic so I expect Australia to hold firm in the Outright. Ukraine had huge impact on me, and many others, on first viewing…