After Tuesday’s drama, another 18 countries are lining up for your musical delectation tonight. I think it’d be fair to say that Tuesday’s semi was not a classic, and all signs point to this one being far, far better. Eurocrew – assemble!
Petra and Mans acquitted themselves admirably earlier in the week, and if we work to the theory that the two semis are but a warm-up for Saturday’s Grand Final, then we are in for a treat at the weekend. It’s also definitely time for me to point out that my birthday is in the middle of a Eurovision sandwich, between this semi and the final. Lucky me! (not so lucky me – an actual hornet got into my living room just as I was trying to get ready for Thursday’s show. If it hadn’t left, I would have had to move house)
The opening number is LEGENDARY. If you’ve ever had any questions about what Eurovision is, then let Petra and Mans help you:
Here are tonight’s songs then, and Armenia get us started. Justs is singing Heartbeat, and it’s a strong start.
Michal Szpak is representing Poland, with the Americanly-spelled Color of Your Life. There’s much to comment on here, but I’m not sure any of us are strong enough to do it.
We watched some of the Swiss selection this year, and to quote one of the Eurocrew, “it looks like they hosted it in a Topshop changing room”. Compared to the razzmatazz some other nations put on, it really did look like Switzerland didn’t want to be there! No one is forcing you, Switzerland. Let’s see how Rykka gets on – the song is called The Last of Our Kind. Well. OK. Smoke machine on a budget there, anyway… It’s funny, in many ways there’s a lot of classic Euro fare here, but it just seems somehow not right.
Israel did VERY well last year with Golden Boy! What a fun song that was. The follow-up is not better or worse, no actually it is worse. Sorry. I wasn’t going to judge. Make up your own minds – here’s Hovi Star with Made of Stars. (Here’s how you know you’re waist-deep in Eurovision: when you remember there was another song called Made of Stars and you can name the artist, the country, the year and where it placed. THAT’S NOT SOMETHING I CAN DO, YOU UNDERSTAND… NOOOO, NOT ME!)
Here we have IVAN (what is it with capitalised artist names this year?) representing Belarus with Help You Fly. Of course, IVAN here has made a lot of show about how he’s going to perform completely naked and with a pack of wolves. Someone clearly lost their bottle, cos those wolves were rubbish! Nice Tippex on his face though.
Now it’s time for Serbia, with a few more capital letters. It’s Sanja Vucic ZAA, singing Goodbye (Shelter) Eh, it’s not for me, but a lot of the Eurocrew like it.
A home favourite now, here’s Ireland’s Nicky Byrne with Sunshine. Nicky was of course a member of Westlife, and that surely will win him a few votes? It’s a nice upbeat song and I wish him well. The UK public is allowed to vote tonight, and that must help.
Kalliopi is representing FYR Macedonia with the song Dona. I’m saying nothing original if I point out the Anjelica Huston similarities.
*drum roll please* The return of another old Eurofriend now, as Donny Montell has a second crack at the title for Lithuania. His song is I’ve Been Waiting for This Night, but really, no one has been waiting for this night as much as I have, following his 2012 number.
I don’t really know what he’s done with his hair there, but ah I love him. Please watch at least the first minute of the older song. It’s mindblowing.
Some head-scratching over the inclusion for the second year of Australia. But they’re here and they love the contest, so we’ll open our arms and welcome them. Dami Im is their singer, with Sound of Silence.
She’s lucky she got away with that “Facetime” lyric, as rules forbid product placement, but somehow Eurobosses decided that it meant ‘face’ and ‘time’, rather than “Facetime”? Ha, OK! Look, this is very very strong. Our correspondents in Stockholm tell us this has been getting a very good response live. I’m not sure it will win the whole thing, but it should qualify.
Next up, it’s ManuElla for Slovenia, singing Blue and Red. Big fan of her ponytail – but wait, what’s this? Who’s that man? Why does he not have a shirt on? AND WHAT’S THAT POLE AND WHY IS HE SWINGING ON IT? He’ll have someone’s eye out.
And now it’s time for another wonderful song title – If Love Was A Crime, sung for Bulgaria by Poli Genova. Oooh this is cool, and I like any dance that involves side face. Plus light-up trousers.
When this song was picked, I have to confess I thought it was a slightly random choice for Denmark. But perhaps seeing it on the proper stage will change my mind. Lighthouse X (another lighthouse! 2016 must be the year of the lighthouse!) are here with Soldiers of Love. It’s funny how despite (presumably) being half the ages of A-ha, they look older. I didn’t mind it! No one else liked it though.
Now we have a controversial choice from Ukraine. Firstly let me say that Jamala is an INCREDIBLE singer. Have a dig through her back catalogue for confirmation, particularly this. Some, though, feel that her song 1944 – which touches upon the deportation of the Tatar people from the Crimea by the Soviet Union under Stalin – is too political for Eurovision, which has strict rules in place as to what songs can and cannot cover. I just think it’s quite a musical feat, and I think it will definitely qualify.
It’d be nice for Norway to do well, this is Agnete with Icebreaker, hopefully a song about a massive metal ship. Reactions to this are the exact opposite to what they were for Denmark – I didn’t like it, but everyone else did. I’m told this girl won a Norwegian Grammy with the first song she ever wrote though, so that’s a result.
Three more to go! We’re so close we can almost touch it. It’s Georgia next. Their artists are the fabulously named Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz. Holy shit, etc. Midnight Gold is the tune, it almost goes without saying. There’s a feeling in the room that this could be a surprise qualifier, but I got slightly confused at how there were two of everyone, for a moment I genuinely did think there were lots of twins on stage.
What have Albania brought us this year? Well it’s Eneda Tarifa, with Fairytale (again, mos def NOT Alexander Rybak’s 2010 winner, but proof we’re running out of song titles) I’ll be honest, I have no memory of this, even though I was watching and listening and not drunk. That’s probably not a good sign.
And finally… it’s Belgium, with Laura Tesoro’s What’s The Pressure? Well, Laura, what is it?
Absolute Eurobanger. If I had one thing to say, it might be that it’s a bit too polished? Sometimes voters seem to prefer a bit wackier, a bit less slick. I, however, loved it.
So we’re back for more entertainment whilst the votes are counted, except we won’t see it, partly cos we’ve got the number for Nicky Byrne on speed dial, and partly because the BBC hosts have done a spoof of Scandinavian dramas. It’s called The Force and it’s very very funny.
You get the sense people don’t want to mess around though, so here are our top 10:
The Belgians were clearly held back till last to provide tension, but I don’t think her place was in any doubt. A few other surprises though, both in those who have gone through, and those who haven’t – I didn’t think Georgia, Poland or Israel would get through, and it’s surely a shock that the only Scandinavian country now left in is Sweden, who automatically qualified anyway, as hosts.
All in all though, a much better semi-final tonight, and it leaves us with a mouthwatering prospect for Saturday’s final! I’m off for a slice of birthday cake! See you at the weekend…