Well, here we all are again then. On Tuesday night, 10 countries qualified for Saturday’s grand final; now 18 more nations line up in hopes of joining them.
Our hosts Oleksandr and Volodymyr are back, with Timur ably abetting them from the green room (I don’t know why we persist in calling it that, but they like it, so we’ll humour them) – and it’s possible they’ve been at the drinks cabinet for a quick relaxant.
So here we go with the second semi, a few of my favourites will be in this evening’s show, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how they stage everything. We kick off with a performance from Olek and Vlod, reworking a few recent Eurovision winners in a Ukrainian style. That works exactly as well as you would imagine.
ON WITH THE SONGS. Negotiating the tricky opening spot is Serbia’s Tijana Bogicevic, and her song is called In Too Deep. And she really is.
When you’ve listened to it a million times Austria’s entry Running On Air does start to wash over you and you don’t mind it too much, but I suspect if you’re listening to it for the first time, it will bore you to tears. Sorry Nathan Trent. But, being fair to him, he’s got a lovely silver moon to sit on, lots of dry ice and he’s in tune. Not something we can say of everyone.
Boom! Macedonia are bringing it this year! This is Jana Burceska, with Dance Alone. I really hope this one does well, she’s gone for the slightly slutty approach, A++, she’s pregnant (she will also get a proposal from her boyfriend post-performance) and I like the song a lot. Unfortunately though, the stage just seems too big for her and I’m worried for its chances.
In the fourth spot, we have Malta. Claudia Faniello is singing Breathlessly. No really, she is, that’s the name of the song. It’s dull as, Eurofans.
After that, let’s all get our breath back and listen to um, some yodelling? Why not? Well even if you didn’t particularly want to, you have to, because that’s what Romania has entered. Ilinca and Alex Florea implore us all to Yodel It. Yodel is also the name of a very unreliable UK delivery company, so if you find yourself with a package to mail in the United Kingdom, I would implore you not to Yodel It. We find ourselves in a classic Euro situation with this one – I personally could live without ever hearing it again, but it’s pretty much a banker to qualify.
Interesting one, the next one. This is the Netherlands, who’ve been on a very good run of it for the past few years, and I suspect this will either continue that, or sink without a trace. The group is called O’G3NE and is made up of three sisters, they actually have already taken part in Eurovision once, the junior contest in 2007, and won The Voice in 2014. Their dad wrote the song, Lights and Shadows and I believe it is dedicated to their mother, who is not well. Some people in the Eurocrew like to call these Dutch girls Wilson Phillips, for obvious reasons; I get a vaguely Kardashian vibe from them. I actually quite like the song, I think it gets better as it goes along, and their vocals are ON. POINT. Could be a surprise top fiver.
Hungary are up next. Joci Papai sings Origo, and I am glad to see an entry that’s not in English. Italy and France are also doing this, though the French have added an English section. Does his dancer fall over though?! (No) But he does enjoy banging his wee churn.
I’m a bit meh about the next one, but see what you think. Denmark’s Anja is singing Where I Am.
Our Irish friends are not particularly happy with their entry this year: Brendan Murray is Dying To Try (or Trying To Die, as they are calling it) Careful then, Bren! I do hope it qualifies for the final, but it will be a tough ask. A very tough ask. A hot air balloon that does not take off is a great metaphor for this song…
Welcome back now to Valentina Monetta! This is her FOURTH crack at Eurovision for San Marino! She’s had several other attempts to be chosen as their act as well; she just loves the Euro. This year she’s brought an AMERICAN with her, I know, and he’s called Jimmie Wilson. Interesting fact about Jimmie: he played Barack Obama in Hope! Das Obama Musical, in Germany. Anyway, San Marino’s entry is Spirit of the Night, and it’s fun enough.
Halfway! Croatia’s Jacques Houdek performs now, in both English and Italian, and his song is My Friend. That’s what it’s called, I’m not friends with his song. Being 100% honest, it’s a nightmare. Which means it will go through. He’s duetting WITH HIMSELF, guys.
I’ll be interested to know what you all make of Norway, up next. Jowst is the act, Grab The Moment is the song. I think this taps into a type of music that’s pretty popular right now in Europe anyway, Rag N Bone Man-type stuff. Doesn’t do a lot for me, but I think it’s good to have it in the mix, so I hope it qualifies.
Switzerland will be hoping to end a pretty dismal recent run this year. Timebelle are performing Apollo. Lovely staircase, lovely Beauty & The Beast dress, another dismal song, sad to say.
Now we have Belarus – it’s Naviband with Story of My Life (calm it, One Direction fans, it ain’t what you think it is), which has an English title but is sung in Belarusian. They’re on a hovercraft. They. Are. On. A. Hovercraft.
The next song is a Beautiful Mess, and that’s just the title. Kristian Kostov is representing Bulgaria. A lot of people think this will be a strong contender not just to make the final, but to win the whole thing. See what you think.
Lithuania come next, and sadly my old mate Donny Montell is not having a third go at winning that Euro crown. But we do have Fusedmarc, with Rain of Revolution. She has a touch of the Tracey Ullman’s about her, only not actually very funny, but you can’t fault the performance.
The penultimate act is Estonia and if this bad boy doesn’t qualify, I may actually not watch the final on Saturday in protest (I jest. Of course I will watch it. I’m not insane) The performers are Koit Toome and Laura, and the song is Verona, and it is the business. They’ve buggered about with some of it since it won the Estonian selection back in March, sort of smoothing out some of the edges, which is perfectly legit but I think a bit of a shame. That said it’s still great, and Koit’s brought his full stary face.
And very finally, it’s Israel, with I Feel Alive, performed by Imri. It’s a nice note to end on. Hahaha, someone knows their target audience. It’s a fun, upbeat song and performance, and yeah, he’s easy on the eye. Job done.
Strap in for the voting now, accompanied by some street dance. I have nothing to say about this.
But here are our qualifiers:
Well. Well well well. There are going to be some very unhappy Eurofans out there, not least those of us who were rooting for Estonia and Macedonia, but no one can argue that there’s variety heading for the final. I have no idea how Croatia made it through, but OK.
That’s our final 26 sorted – see you on Saturday for the main event! Which, by the way, happens to coincide with my birthday… it’s fate, I tell you!