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Eurovision 2017 - first semi final (RAW)

This is a RAW text file, written - as always - as the contest unfolds. Markup, pictures, etc etc will come along later. Maybe tomorrow, but I'm recovering from a nasty bout of diverticulitis (when you go poop, blood comes out, and pain like you wouldn't believe) so no promises. I'm back to work tomorrow and I really kinda wish ESC was next week. Just wanna go into Standby Mode for the next ten hours. Well, okay, this only goes on for two-ish hours, I can handle that...

This year, the contest is being held in a town famous for a greasy garlic chicken meal. It's also the capital of The Ukraine. It's also a rather political win, given the winning song was about the Crimean Tatars being deported at the hands of the Soviets back in 1944. And, well, let's just say that it's also a hugely political FAIL for the EBU given the current situation with The Ukraine and Russia, and the former agreeing to host the contest knowing full well the latter is an entrant. Or WAS an entrant. Russia have withdrawn in protest at their performer being denied entry into the country. I am not in agreement with that, it rejects everything that the contest is supposed to represent.

Mom told me that the favourite to win, according to something she heard on Radio Four, is the Italian entry with a monkey. Well... okay. It's a far cry from last year's dose of pretty, but then stranger things have won... latex monsters, anybody?
As usual, I have not listened to any of the songs prior to the contest. I did listen to the Russian one. Not a winner, but then again that's what I'd have said about last year's winner which...oh god...I'll have to listen to again. Oh joy.

Well, Russia is out. So who will the crowd boo? Which country has made such an enormous cock-up of international relations that they would become boo-worthy? Hmmm, I really cannot imagine!

Which leads us to the wonderful United Kingdom. Some of you might be wondering why I didn't review the National Selection it's for two reasons. The first was that I felt the supposedly random order of the songs chosen was manipulated (basically, the songs got better in order) and also because a brief look at contestants showed them ALL to be X-Factor rejects. If they can't impress a few judges, how do they expect to impress over 200,000,000 people? I really couldn't be bothered wasting my time. The UK has submitted another "meh" entry. I'm only interested in the audience reaction. :-)

Okay, so now a pre-blurb by Scott and Mel before the sexed-up logo appears (I much preferred the original) and it's on with the show. There are 18 entrants, ten of which will qualify for the grand final on Saturday.

Lots of people dressed in traditional outfits, some rather odd.

A bad Usher clone comes out. Okay, okay, I won't complain, it could have been the winning song...
Well, the dance routine was interesting.

Hosts now? Yup. Three guys with unpronouncable names. Okay, they've appeared on a caption, way too many letters to read and copy.

Celebrating diversity bringing together nations through the love of song, etc... unless of course they're Russia, right?

Okay, then, after some blurb about voting and stuff, it's on to the first act.

1 Sweden: I Can't Go On

Oh, okay, he starts off backstage. Generic boyband material playing on treadmills. It actually looks fairly sophisticated, and the lead since resembles a younger Gary Barlow. But, "your love is freaking beautiful", it's a bit too repetitive.

Since this is The Ukraine and not Sweden, we can also play "spot the camera cockup".

2 Georgia: Keep The Faith

Tamara...complicated. Whoa, that hair must take an eternity. Sounds like we're on course for a moody power ballad. You know what, I wonder if she would consider Shirley Bassey to be her idol? She's certainly trying, but hasn't quite got the vocal power.
Costume change, check. Wind machine, check. Fog, check. Oooh, fire effects too. Obviously key changes too. It's a bit by-the-numbers, isn't it?

3 Australia: Don't Come Easy

Seventeen year old Isaiah WON the Aussie X-Factor last year. See UK, a winner, not a reject. Looks like he is walking a treadmill too. A soulful song with a montage of him posing behind. It went a bet wrong at the end with the over the top pyro effects and the wail. But certainly the best so far.

4 Albania: World

Whoa... the huge eye effect with the gothic scenery and the wedding dress are quite jarring, as are the false notes. Shame, she's not bad when she's not wailing... Still, I could watch it again with the sound off just for the scenery.

5 Belgium: City Lights
# ...lay out before us, and your arm felt nice wrapped round my shoulder and...

Okay, a cheer suggests the crowd like this one. Well, that is an unexpectedly slow pace of singing given the music in the background, and her voice is a lot lower pitched then expected too. Quite an effective antidote to the last song. Wow, that was quite a key change. Entire octaves. Then back down to a midway point. Nicely staged, that one.

6 Montenegro: Space

A bloke with a long hair braid... And... a big blue dress (that is rapidly shed). Interesting staging for this noisy and garish production. Okay, right, we're "ticking all the Eurovision boxes"... ugh, can't believe I wrote such a cliché.

Avert time, so the BBC cuts out to various performers in the Eurovision Support Group. Hmmm...

7 Finland: Blackbird

Oh, a nice happy start to the Finnish song.... a woman dressed in black and black lace giving everybody a reason to feel happy their life sucks less. That's just a really weird song, but... maybe I was a goth in a former life? I quite like this. Of course I'll have to download it off YouTube thanks to Mel speaking over the song - thinking the song had finished.

8 Azerbaijan: Skeletons
Cool title.

Wait, was that a horse's head? Okay, we should expect something weird and arty from Azerbaijan, and this is certainly that. A box room which is a big chalkboard, and a bloke with a horse's head on a ladder, lots of emotions and feelings written on the blackboards. Can you say loaded with symbolism?
Weird as hell, and all the better for it.

9 Portugal: Amar Pelos Dois
Ooh, finally one that isn't in English.

Okay, he's on a stage off the main stage. Uh... is he autistic or something? A surprisingly quiet song performed in what might be this year's most distinctive style.

10 Greece: This is Love
# don't leave me, don't leave me, no more...

Starts off as a ballad, then picks up tempo as she rises up on a pedestal, maybe to keep her out of the way of the two mostly naked guys fooling around in a small pool of water. Not really my idea of a song, but it was nicely performed.

11 Poland: Flashlight
Is this going to be "Lighthouse" on a budget? ;-)

Okay, another moody intro and possibly the winner of the minimalist dress award. Moody power ballad. Okay, so she can sort-of hold a note for a really really long time.

12 Moldova: Hey, Mamma!

Uhhh... Okay, epic sax and comical backing singers. I didn't like it, but it's the right amount of bonkers it ought to do well. Epic dancing brides. Speaking of which - is it me, or wedding dresses featured a lot this year?

13 Iceland: Paper

Another dress with parts missing, and a win machine. Weird performance.

Another adbreak so we talk to Emilie who won a few years ago, and Lucie for the UK entry. Emilie is taller than I expected, or Lucie is small.

14 Czech Republic: My Turn
Yup, it is your turn. Use your three minutes wisely.

A bronze outfit, a nicely performed song. Not sure what the slow motion people in their underwhere has to do with things?

15 Cyprus: Gravity

The UK hosts are going on about blokes wearing shoes without socks. Maybe a trend from Poland last year? Still, what's the big deal? It's normal for women so...?

Nicely staged, just don't like his voice. The music sounds like that Rag'n'Bone Man song. Oh, that falling blocks effect was wonderful.

The hosts pick up on the Rag'n'Bone similarities.

16 Armenia: Fly With Me

Something arty from Armenia. Well, the performer calls herself Artsvik. You know, some of the vocals resemble that Madonna song with the black outfit, where she falls into the desert and bursts into crows. I really ought to look out the title of that.
Okay, yup. Arty.

17 Slovenia: On My Way

Hmm, video corruption in the postcard with the commentary continuing. Wonder who messed up?
Nice voice. Strange staging, I wonder how many people saw a white square instead of the performer for a lot of the song? His voice can carry this, even through the obligatory key changes. Damn.

18 Latvia: Line

The final song. Okay, that's a interesting outfit. Like the Tim Burton version of last year's German performer.
Uh, okay, it's memorable, I'll give it that.

Right then. Voting has started. Time for a recap, surely?

Here are my picks:

1 Latvia - goota keep the weird quotient
2 Moldova - brides and sax
3 Sweden - freakin' treadmill action
4 Australia - not their usual powerful selves
5 Portugal - oddly alluring, this
6 Azerbaijan - school from hell
7 Greece - the water boys
8 Belgium - nervous loneliness
10 Czech Republic - the foil dress
12 Finland - the smoking piano

The 10/12 was a hard call.

Here it comes, a special interval act version of the previous winning song.

Another recap before the final sixty second countdown.

Okay, a little interval video with Verka or whatever star-head-guy was called. Okay, that was...odd.

Jamala back again for something. It's 52 past, are they running late? Freaky puppets.

Sneak preview of...

Spain - uh... no. Just no.

UK - interesting staging, but it's just another power ballad. It's lacking the "epic" that propelled Conchita to superstardom.

Italy - hahaha... that's funny.

Jon Ola Sand, still looking surprised to be on camera. Everything is ready. Here are the results.

Okay, here are the ten winners, revealed in random order:

1. Moldova - brides and saxes

2. Azerbaijan - of course

3. Greece - the bathing guys

4. Sweden - the treadmill guys

5. Portugal - I kind of expected this

6. Poland - blonde power ballad

7. Armenia - artsy stuff

8. Australia - expected this

9. Cyprus - Rag'n'Bone

10. Belgium - yes! Phew. A bunch of ridiculous tension, but one of my top three picks went through.

I'm surprised Latvia failed.

So that's it. Thirteen minutes over. Not bad for the song contest.

Time to upload this and then hit the sack.




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