Eurovision Song Contest 2012: Semi-Final 1 Thoughts

Ah, the Eurovision Song Contest. Music as sport, with hilarious campiness and snark added for that little extra spice. As you might know, I ADORE it. I watch it every year and blow up Twitter with my ongoing commentary on everything that happens. And now, I’m blogging about it too (Ahead of having a mini Eurovision Party on Saturday for the first time!)

Here then I will be writing up my thoughts on Semi Final 1. I’ll do the same on Friday for Semi Final 2, and Sunday for the Final. Naturally, during the shows, my usual Twitter service will be in full effect. Saturday’s should be fun, as I’m going to be drinking Beer and playing a Eurovision Drinking Game and there’s nothing funnier than drunken live tweets. Now, for context, I take a semi serious approach to ESC. I treat it as a serious competition of musical performance but I’m entirely okay with it being light entertainment. And the fact is, if you take the show slightly seriously, it makes the campy nonsense even funnier to snark about.

With that in mind, I tend to favour serious entries, by which I mean heartfelt genuine efforts to produce a genuinely good song and performance, over the deliberately absurd gimmick entries – though if the song is good, I can appreciate the gimmick. I do, however, have a preference for more upbeat tracks. That said, I’ll support something more akin to a ballad provided it’s catchy enough or what have you.

With that out of the way then, here’s my thoughts on, first, the ten lucky entrants who will join the Big Five & Our Hosts (Azerbaijan) on Saturday.

Iceland

A heartfelt ballad duet song by a pretty girl and a handsome guy. Okay, first of all, take a shot. Take another because the pretty lady has a violin. Second…Meh? There’s almost always a song like this, and I can’t for the life of me recall it winning…Except, last year. Yes, that’s right, Iceland have turfed up as both this year’s cliche storm entry and the entry flagrantly ripping off last year’s winner (Another thing which also always happens – oh you better believe you should take a shot). It’s inoffensive enough like, so it was always getting through, but I predict (and hope for) relative anonymity on Saturday.

Greece

What’s that? Greece have sent a pretty girl with a sexually suggestive song who dances around provocatively giving us a good view of her legs and the occasional panty shot? Take another shot, and I hope you weren’t planning on driving tonight because you’re already wasted. Greece have pulled this exact stunt several times, as have other countries with admittedly less frequency than our cash-strapped Olympic inventing friends. Their best effort in this regard was 2008’s Kalomira, who at least seemed like a lovely girl on top of being pretty (it was also probably the best song they’ve sent with a pretty girl dancing suggestively, which helped). I doubt Greece are going to score big with Eleftheria and her “Aphrodisiac” (Subtelty has gone out the window incidentally), still the girl’s nice to look at.

Albania

Albania’s entry sucks. It just flat out sucks. This is an awful “song”, in a horrible style sung by a woman with what appears to be the weirdest hairdo in ESC history – think about that for a moment. How hard would it be to be that weird? She managed it. It’s mournful, a-melodic screeching and I’m frankly disgusted it got through. I have to imagine the judges are responsible for that (out of some pretentious belief that it’s artsy) because if Europe voted in droves for this dreck, I despair for humanity in general.

Romania

Another meh here. This is a song which left very little impression on me. I predicted at the time it would get through, as it had a distinctly inoffensive blandness, but I’d be amazed if it breaks the top ten in the final. Not much to say really. It’s okay, I guess.

Cyprus

Here we have Cyprus copying Greece’s signature play, which if you think about it is all sorts of hilarious given the relationship between the two nations. Yes it’s a pretty girl dancing about and singing a relatively catchy pop song. But, interestingly enough, it seems Cyprus may just have beat Greece at the latter’s own game. “La La Love” is undeniably a better song than Greece’s entry. And Ivi Adamou, whilst perhaps not quite as overtly sexy as  Eleftheria, is probably prettier than her Greek rival – and pretty girls tend to be more likely to succeed in ESC than simply sexy ones.

Denmark

Speaking of pretty girls doing well, Soluna Samay is very pretty. Although her fashion sense is a bit suspect, as noted in response to me by @SLomasSCFC1883:

Anyway, Soluna has entered a catchy acoustic pop song called “Should Have Known Better”. This song is fantastic. It’s a wonderfully pleasant listen. It’s technically a bit sorrowful if you listen to the lyrics, but it’s composed in a delightfully hopeful manner. This, for me, is the standout song of the Semi, and it’s my favourite so far (I’ve heard all the songs barring those in Semi Final 2 and the UK’s entry, which I usually wait until the final to hear unless there’s a public vote to pick it). I love this song, and Soluna is well on her way to getting my vote at this rate.

Russia

I’m in two minds about the infamous “Russian Grannies” entry. On the one hand, it is delightfully silly and genuinely endearing. Plus, it is appealingly catchy. After all, it’s a cheesy pop song. They tend to be catchy. On the other hand, it’s the Russian entry. This isn’t going to make sense to you if you’re not a Eurovision nut like myself, but we really don’t need or want to be going back to Russia, and the bitter taste of their last victory is still in my mouth. Unfortunately, this could be a lock. It’ll play well with the casual voters Europe-wide. The judges will take a dim view, but that could well not be nearly enough to keep this from winning. Apart from anything else, I’d like to keep it from winning precisely because it’s goofy. As noted above, I prefer genuinely good songs to win. Like “Should Have Known Better”.

Seriously, Soluna is this year’s Lena, I swear.

Hungary

Hungary’s was another entry which had “heading on to certain obscurity in the final” written all over it, with the the added bonus of being another example of those entries which seem to make an appearance every year (Yay for generic entries I guess?):

So, yeah. Not a lot to be said. It wasn’t awful, but I doubt it’s contesting the win.

Moldova

I’m a little disappointed this got through. I mean it’s not awful. And there were worse songs which were deservedly left behind. But I could have done without it (Though, given the choice, I’d pick it over Albania’s shameful waste of a slot any day). It’s a predictably absurd entry from the Moldovans, and I’m starting to wonder if they’re not a bit unhinged. From the weird costumes to the slightly bizarre song itself, it’s just a smidge too goofy for my tastes. And the fact it’s not even full on goofy makes it worse. It’s almost a normal entry. But with absurdity smeared all over it for no apparent reason. I’m not a fan, but it could possibly do well.

Ireland

Yeah, it’s Jedward. Back for another go. Funnily enough I actually like Waterline more than last year’s “Lipstick”. It’s a more sincere effort at a song. And the theatrics onstage with the fountain were pretty great actually, made a nice change to the usual fireworks and props stuff. Biggest mistake? Jedward’s needless shiny spacesuit outfits. Completely out of place with the song and just generally stupid. I know they’re supposed to have this quirky stage persona, but I just think it doesn’t fit this song and it’s possibly hurt their chances.

Incidentally, I’m not sure why, but the press (Or at least, the BBC) seemed baffled by the word “waterline” and kept asking “what is a water line?” of Jedward. The boys were equally baffled by the question. But I would suggest this was not, as it may have seemed, because they didn’t now, but because they weren’t prepared to be asked such a moronic question. It’s the surface of a given body of water. The metaphor, equally, is pretty self-explanatory. I really didn’t understand where the confusion arose from. But there you are.

Anyway, those are our ten qualifiers. Let’s take a look at the eight acts which have crashed out of the contest for the year now.

Montenegro

Montenegro it seems did not make a sincere effort, with their entry coyly describing his attendance at the contest as a “mistake”.

I’d have to assume this is because they don’t want to pay to host the contest next year  – fair enough, other nations have done the same thing. I do wish they had chosen to simply enter something which would just “never win” rather than this abomination of a time waster. I think it was supposed to be funny. But it wasn’t. It was just genuinely bad. Which is not a substitute for funny.

Latvia

Yes Latvia’s bizarrely staged “Beautiful Song” turned heads for the oddly broadway-esque style of its opening moments and the “vaguely attractive in an ugly sort of way” looks of is performers. Unfortunately, the heads turned were treated to an ironically bland and forgettably mediocre ode to a beloved and memorable song (Presumably it was supposed to be shaped like itself. It was not.)

Switzerland

Switzerland made two mistakes. First (technically second, but I’m addressing it first) of all, their lead singer was squinting distractingly in one eye as the song began. The effect was incredibly bizarre and unsettling. Second (really first), they entered a rock song.

And so it proved, as Switzerland became another example of a rock song failing to make it out of the Semis. Personally, I think it’s a shame, I’d like to see more rock songs in the final, even if just for the sake of variety. But alas, the trend continues. Still, at least it wasn’t as disappointing as 2007, when the best song in the entire contest (Andorra’s “Salvem El Móm”) didn’t make it out of the Semis having fallen victim to the rock song curse (Amusingly though, the contest was held in Finland that year because the previous year Finland broke the rock song curse by combining it with a gimmick – the oldest Eurovision trick in the book – in the form of Lordi, the monster make up performers).

Belgium

Belgium had a sweet entry, with 17-year-old Iris rivalling Soluna for prettiest girl performing. The entry was perhaps held back a bit though by the fact that it was a bit boring. The song started off seeming as if it was building to something which never really came. It could have done with an uplifting chorus, final verse or even middle eight to lift things. Instead it came across as a wee bit mournful. This and Switzerland’s efforts though, by far the least deserving of being ejected. I myself would have swapped this in for Albania and Switzerland for Moldova. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I originally thought the judges might save it, but it would seem not.

Finland

Finland have fallen a long way from winning six years ago. This year’s entry was a blandly uninteresting cliche storm, which I’ll let my Tweets summarise:

I guess they were trying to do an Iceland, but their effort fell flat. It was never getting through.

Israel

Hooray! Israel knocked out in the Semis! I really am sick of Israel turfing up to these contests and trying to make a mockery of proceedings. This year’s acid trip of a clanger was no exception, and I was not in the least bit sorry to see it go. It ranks in my bottom four alongside alongside Albania and our next two evictees.

San Marino

San Marino tried to enter a song called “Facebook (Uh Oh)” but were politely reminded commercial messages are banned. They renamed it “The Social Network Song” and inflicted it on us anyway. It stank. It’s bad. It’s terrible. It’s musically pathetic, lyrically awful and it falls into the “You’ve Got Mail” trap hard. Some of its apologists are pointing out that it’s meant to be satire. And, okay, yeah, it’s satire. Fine. That doesn’t excuse the fact it’s awful. It’s horrible to listen to. You wanna write a satirical song, go right on ahead, but make it a good song. San Marino’s crime is identical to that of…Ugh…Dustin the fucking Turkey.

Thankfully, like Dustin, this atrocious act of parody was shown the door in the Semis.

Austria

Austria just weren’t trying. From their TV-unfriendly artist name (Trackshittaz is clearly a corruption of Track Shitters, whether you admit it or not, BBC) to the pole dancing, to the awful lyrics to the douchebaggish nature of the assholes performing the song, Austria apparently sought to make a mockery of the contest and were promptly shown the door. Eurovision may be campy and ridiculous, but you will never get far trying to take the piss out of the Contest like this. Didn’t work for Dustin, didn’t work for those idiots who ‘sang’ “We Are the Winners (Of Eurovision)” and it didn’t work for this pair of assholes.

That then is Semi Final 1. I’ll be back Friday with my detailed thoughts on Semi Final 2 (And you can see my Tweets live during the show @TVPaulD). In the meantime, I leave you with my thoughts on the Automatic Qualifiers:

France: Good

Germany: Good

Spain: Okay

Italy: Very Good

United Kingdom: SIGH, I really wanted us to send something with a chance of winning this year, but we did not

Azerbaijan: Meh

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4 responses to “Eurovision Song Contest 2012: Semi-Final 1 Thoughts

  1. I never watch Eurovision but a mate wanted me to blog about it this year. I agree with your views on Iceland and Denmark! I hope Soluna Samay wins as the song is actually quite good (sadly, much better than our UK entry…what was that anyway?!).

  2. Pingback: Eurovision Song Contest 2012: Semi-Final 2 Thoughts | Paul Douglas Online·

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