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Eurovision 2019 - first semi final

We see a young girl growing up. I bet this is going to be Netta. And so we're off to Tel Aviv.

This year, I'm watching the YouTube live stream because for some reason my satellite receiver isn't tuning to any of the transponders carrying BBC Four.
This is bad and good. Bad that I'll be watching live on a smaller screen. Good that I won't have to put up with any of the inane BBC commentary. To be honest, I might prefer it commentrary free.

So Netta has come out of a giant robotic maneki neko to perform a "different" version of her winning song. I'd like to say she's barely dressed, and the backing dancers are nuts. But this is "Toy" we're talking about, a song with chicken noises (and appropriate gestures).

As is usual I have completely ignored the social media, promotions, videos, and such of all of the entries. I prefer to see them "fresh on the night". All I've done is write out the song titles ahead of time so this document can look a little better.
What I haven't done yet is sort out the odd accents and characters not in the Latin1 character set. I may or may not get around to doing this. If you see this sentence, I've not done it yet. ☺


Four hosts tonight, don't ask me to pronounce any of them.

There are seventeen competitors tonight - two less than last year's first semi final.


Right. The intro stuff, and now after 12 minutes we're off.


1. Cyprus "Replay" (Tamta)

Dancing in the video postcards. Cool. So what's this? A mashup of Lady Gaga and Madonna?
Yeah, even with what she's not wearing, I predict this will be forgotten sixteen songs from now. Actually, I suspect I'd have forgotten it about sixteen seconds from now. It's not even a clone of Fuego.


2. Montenegro "Heaven" (D mol)

Oh my.
I guess Montenegro really doesn't want to win.
Actually, it might have worked if it was less disjointed and the three blokes just stayed at home...


3. Finland "Look Away" (Darude feat. Sebestian Rejman)

Haha, the postcard had girls with ribbons dancing around the guys who obviously can't dance. I can't see this without thinking of keitai dekra mai.
The song is okay (only "okay") but I quite like the staging. Negative point - a DJ hamming it up something terrible. Positive point - drowning girl.
Yeah, song was a bit meh but I liked the presentation.


4. Poland "Fire of Love (Pali sie)" (Tulia)

What's this? Sung by schoolgirls? Wait, what...?

...the hell?

Okay, it's memorable.

Please please let this qualify so it can be appreciated by everybody who only bothers to watch the final.


5. Slovenia "Sebi" (Zala Kraji & Gasper Santl)

Finally one in a national language. Actually I lie, the Polish one was English and Polish, but I'm not sure I could tell the difference. Anyway, this is in Slovenian? Slovene?

Oh, whiplash pace change. I like her voice. It's kind of hypnotic. No idea what she's on about.
She stares at him pretty much the entire time, he plays guitar and a few notes on an electronic piano. They barely move.
Yeah, I actually really liked that.


6. Czech Republic "Friend of a Friend" (Lake Malawi)

Classic cheesy Eurovision fodder. So so. I feel like this sort of thing has come along so many times. Nicely performed.


Ad break while announcers talk to the Cypriot and Polish performers.
Whoa, the bloke with glasses is actually smiling. I didn't think I'd see that.


7. Hungary "Az én apám" (Joci Pápai)

Oh, big bloke with pony-tail on top. Welcome back Joci. Please don't break into rap. You have a good voice, but that rap bit ruined the previous song.
This one also is in national language, and so far it's pretty damn good, if a little understated.
Yes, the end and it stayed true to itself. Nice job, Joci.


8. Belarus "Like It" (ZENA)

Belurus running in eighth place in the first semi final. I have déjà vu - that was their placement last year.
How old is she? She looks like she barely qualifies for the adult contest.
The song itself is... a bit meh. I mean, she performed it well, but when you look at some of the ones we've already seen.


9. Serbia "Kruna" (Nevena Bozovic)

Serbia - it's in Serbian, so will this be our yearly dose of Slavic melancholy?
From the opening note I think we can say Yes.
Nice staging, vibes of a goth funeral to launch right into the sort of over the top power ballad we'd expect. And hey, don't worry if she hits the climax in the first chorus. She's just getting started. This is a bit Bolera. I liked it.


10. Belgium "Wake Up" (Eliot)

Belgium always seems to send unusual songs. This year is no exception, the chorus actually slows down. The singer seems to lack charisma, but maybe he's just terrified and hiding it better than Blanche? Maybe this is some weird Belgian torture? Whatever, the result is worth the pain. It's not as strong as recent Belgian entries, but definitely one worth keeping an eye on.


11. Georgia "Keep on Going" (Oto Nemsadze)

In Georgian, a man with a gravel voice shouts to whip up drama. It's been done.

Actually, give it credit for one thing. When the five other blokes turned up and he out-shouted the lot of them, I burst out laughing. Was this supposed to be funny?


12. Australia "Zero Gravity" (Kate Miller-Heidke)

Okay, Australia. What can I say... except: Britain - watch and learn.

What is this? Frozen cosplay? Opera? And....? Okay. Holy crap - this is batshit crazy. There's nothing else to say other than brilliant.
A well deserved cheer from the audience. My favourite of the night so far.


A break while the presenter talks to Lake Malawi who takes the "friend of a friend" idea and runs with it in an overly long gag.


13. Iceland "Hatrio mun sigra" (Hatari)

So what is this, industrial/techno with BDSM themes sung in Icelandic? Yeah. This was just unpleasant to listen to. If we want pervy Icelandic people, can we just do Minn hinsti dans again?


14. Estonia "Storm" (Victor Crone)

Tinges of country in an unoffensive pop number. Not really my sort of song but I would be surprised if this doesn't qualify.


15. Portugal "Telem&oactute;veis" (Conan Osiris)

Weird dancing (or spasmic jerking?) on a beach as the postcard. Well, okay, the staging is weird, you kind of expect a flying monkey to cross the stage.
Okay, gotta hand it to Eurovision 2019, it's taken the crazy quota and dumped industrial strength fertiliser on it. I want this to qualify just so I get another opportunity to try to work out what the hell that was all about.


16. Greece "Better Love" (Katerine Duska)

Another woman with a distinctive voice. Guys running around with swords and a girl carries a giant inflated ball. Can we see what's about to... oh, sweet, she actualy chucked it to the crowd.
Nice staging. I liked that one too.


17. San Marino "Say Na Na Na" (Serhat)

Would you believe it? Final song. Okay, we're too less than last year, but all the same, seems like time has flown. Maybe it's because I'm writing this at the same time - luckily the screen I'm typing on is just behind the one I'm watching the contest on, so I just glance up and make sure I'm hitting the right keys...

Oh my God, his voice. It's like Right Said Fred meets Leonard Cohen. Yet another in a long list of crazy songs. Okay, it isn't Australia level crazy, but then... wait... Serhat - was he in the contest a few years ago?


Okay, that's it. All songs have been presented. Now it's time to vote...or not...depending upon what country you are in. Time to think how I'd rate these entries as the recap plays.


My picks

  • 1. Georgia - out-shouting everybody everywhere
  • 2. Portugal - uh, say what?
  • 3. Finland - look away from the drowned world
  • 4. Belgium - he came to fight over us
  • 5. Hungary - na-na na na, na na naaah, eee yeah
  • 6. Poland - national folk performed by schoolgirls
  • 7. Greece - fluffy yellow and sharp pointy objects
  • 8. Serbia - melancholia raising the roof
  • 10. Slovenia - pretty big eyed girl lays down the mood
  • 12. Australia - this is just so.... out there

I cannot vote (sorry Australia!). It's not a website, it's an app.


Interval act

Whoa, that is Dana International?

Oh my God, you're wearing heels on a Eurovision stage - remember what happened last time?
Quick camera close-up on two guys kissing. A nice rendition of a Bruno Mars song. Oh my God, wasn't Dana's song twenty years ago? Yikes. I feel old now.

A quick chat with the girl from Poland who won the Junior Eurovision. Then something about... ibani b? I don't think I heard that correctly.


Another recap. Shouldn't the voting be finishing soon?
I wonder what rubbish BBC Four cut out to.

Just watching the recap to realise how nuts this contest was.

Thirty seconds of voting remain and, yeah, don't call your ex.

A world premiere of a remarkable piece of art as a man went through the entire history of Eurovision to create a new song from it. Lordi and Ghengis Khan - nice mash up. This is like a game of how many I can remember. I guess that's probably the saddest thing on earth, right?

Wait? They're still promoting a DVD? Aren't they aware that YouTube is streaming this? I can download it at a quality far superior to DVD's standard definition?

Some auto-qualifier previews: A very Eurovision song from Spain. Won't win, but is good to clap along to.
Bilal from France - is that male or female? Okay, icons are Bowie, Prince, Freddie Mercury, so I guess it's a guy. It's Franglish.
Finally, the Israeli song, looks like it's going to be a dramatic one.


The results

Mister Jon Ola Sand still looking surprised to be on camera, as if this doesn't happen every year...

So, presented in random order:

  • Greece - not a surprise for the pointy objects
  • Belarus - which one was that? oh, the young one
  • Serbia - good, where would we be without the melancholy?
  • Cyprus - okay... so some people did remember it
  • Estonia - didn't like it, but I could see that passing into the final
  • Czech Republic - I can understand that
  • Australia - massive cheer because this not qualifying would be a travesty
  • Iceland - seriously? that?
  • San Marino - I guess I missed something
  • Slovenia - YES! I had a feeling they would qualify.


After the end

Ones that didn't qualify - Mr. Shouty-Shouty. I guess we'll never see what the Portuguese song again. No more drowned world, or the odd little Belgian song. Sorry Joci, back to Hungary... I guess it must be galling to be beaten by Iceland. What is it? The leather? The chains? The pain? Or just the amusement of having your granny choke on her tea when that comes on TV?


Okay, it's nearly midnight on a worknight. Upload, then to bed.

See y'all in two days for the second semi-final.



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Stuart Painting, 15th May 2019, 08:14
"ibani b" may have been a reference to A-Ba-Ni-Bi, Israel's winning entry in the 1978 competition. Yikes, 41 years ago...

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