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Eurovision 2019 - second semi final
Still watching the live stream on YouTube for the second semi final from Tel Aviv.
I'm armed with a chicken mayo egg sandwich and a bag of Mackie's (of Scotland) mature cheddar and onion crisps.
Tonight's yardsticks are as follows:
- Most epic performance - Australia
- Most the hell did I just watch performance - Poland (Portugal didn't qualify)
- Most dark horse performance - Slovenia
- Most likely to win it performance - San Marino (but I'm hoping for Down Under)
As I'm writing this, I'm watching "120 Memorable Eurovision Moments 1999 2018" and the streaming seems to bounce between 360p and 480p. My connection can cope with HD (I know, I watch Prime Video), but where I'm sitting isn't a great position for an already weak (huge stone wall) WiFi signal. And since I'm watching this, can I say that Love Love Peace Peace is probably the greatest Eurovision song ever written, and it wasn't even a competitor...
Looking down the list of competitors (there are eighteen tonight), I can see there's only one in a country's own language (hello Albania), and two in a mixture of English and non-English. I say it like that because the Danish song is apparently in English and French.
Time to break open the munchies and wait for the EBU jingle to play. Oh, and a quick note before then - it was lovely to watch the contest as broadcast, without cut-outs or commentary mocking the competitors and giving shout-outs...
A preview of things from the first semi final, in case we had forgotten in the intervening...day. The same four hosts come to talk and say the same things they say every time. I guess a couple of minutes in which to eat my sandwich. Oh, we're starting early, it's only six minutes past. I guess that's to fit the extra songs in.
Oh, yes, and Madonna is going to be in the final interval. I'm not sure if that's better or worse than Timberlake...
1. Armenia "Walking Out" (Srbuk)
Armenia? Sounds like a mid-tempo pop number if Azerbaijan had decided to enter such a thing. It's trying to be atmospheric, but the wailing ruins it. It all sounds a bit too "X Factor winner song" to me.
2. Ireland "22" (Sarah McTernan)
Ireland once had the mojo, but last it. Will it be this year? Okay, in a word, no. Unusual staging, it is about reminiscing about teenage sweethearts, the vocals are like a sloppy Duffy and the style is a mixture of comic book and American diner. It's also somewhat slight. I can't see this one passing into the final.
3. Moldova "Stay" (Anna Odebescu)
Anna got to dance in a winery in what might be the cheesiest postcard video yet.
Oh, hang on. The backdrop video is that woman who can draw stuff in sand. She's damn good, and she's been on Eurovision before. At least this generic power ballad is happier than the last time sand girl was on. Wait - wasn't that for The Ukraine?
That I'm talking about the sand drawing ought to indicate how memorable the song itself was.
4. Switzerland "She Got Me" (Luca Hänni)
Well, that was a big cheer in the hall for a pop song that has more than a dash of Latin vibe thrown in, not to mention a carefully choreographed routine.
Let's be honest. I hate this, but I would be very surprised if this didn't qualify. Judging by the audience reaction, it will probably get an easy left-side-of-the-scoreboard placement.
5. Latvia "That Night" (Carousel)
Well, that's a change of pace. It's a gentle folk number with hints of the blues. I can see this playing on the radio during quiet hour. I can't see this qualifying.
6. Romania "On a Sunday" (Ester Peony)
Ester Peony - cool name. In the postcard she's dancing in the snow. They have snow in Israel? Well, you learn something every day...
If I had to sum this up, it would be a sultry gothic dramatic song performed by somebody who might be a dominatrix. Or maybe a vampire. It's hard to tell these days.
I didn't like her vocals much, but the staging was pretty good.
Now, now. Come on Eurovision. It's all been a bit meh so far. Time to bring out the nuts, no? And no, I don't mean Conchita Wurst flirting with the host.
Hmm, the Swiss bloke said the name "Céline" like "Selling" without the 'g'. So, okay, that's something else in French I've been saying wrong all these years. Or do the Swiss have weird accents? ☺
7. Denmark "Love Is Forever" (Leonora)
Oh my God, this is Hello Kitty levels of cute. Even with a rather soulful voice, it's ridiculously cute, with the singer and her backing girls sitting on a giant chair.
I dunno, there are like a billion reasons why I should hate this, but... I don't. It's my favourite so far. Oh my God.
8. Sweden "Too Late for Love" (John Lundvik)
Okay, it's Sweden. Let's see if they'll give us another winner. Honestly... quite possibly. A straight pop song with a touch of gospel and a touch of emotion. There's no doubt this will qualify, and get a top five placement if not actually going and winning it for Sweden again. Well, I wouldn't mind that if Petra hosts again.
9. Austria "Limits" (PÆNDA)
Australia in 9th place, last year, now Austria. Well, Austria is only a few letters different.
Breathy and ethereal, this ballad is extremely understated, especially compared to Sweden. Perhaps the most memorable thing here is her blue hair. Yes, blue. Like an animé magical girl.
10. Croatia "The Dream" (Roko)
The Dream, sounds like the title of a song Russia might enter. Turning war into a work of art? He has a strong voice and... okay, guys with angel wings have just come down from above for the chorus of dreaming of love. It's like somebody took the instructions in Love Love Peace Peace a little too literally.
Now he has angel wings. I dunno. He's really belting this out, but it just seems so incredibly silly.
And did KAN make a little mistake right at the end there? It looked like we cut to the wrong camera for a half second. Finally, a cock-up, in what has so far been a very slick presentation. Really, it's been a challenging game of spot the camera.
11. Malta "Chameleon" (Michela)
Malta was 11th last year too. This is quite a boppy song, with an interesting change in the chorus. I can imagine this qualifying. And if not, hearing it on the radio.
12. Lithuania "Run with the Lions" (Jurij Veklenko)
Sorry, I think my favourite Lithuanian entry has already happened. Last year. Ieva. 'nuff said.
Okay, he can do multiple octaves. It would be impressive if he could it all those high notes. It's another generic mid-tempo ballad. I don't think this will do a lot.
A talk with the people from Ireland and Sweden while lesser channels go to adverts. I remember S4C cut to adverts quite frequently (or so it seemed) during the Junior contest. Or maybe it was more notable given it was mostly in Welsh?
13. Russia "Scream" (Sergey Lazarev)
Will the audience boo Russia? If so - fake news! Hey, it works both ways, right?
Hey, I recognise that face. I guess I ought to say welcome back, and Sergey's powerful voice lends itself to the over the top drama that Russia has entered in recent years.
Well, actually, that was almost epic. No doubt it'll qualify. Just don't pay too much attention to the bizarre lyrics. I guess this ticks the most epic box.
14. Albania "Ktheju tokës" (Jonida Maliqi)
I can see why this is in Albanian. It would have been crap in English, but in the native language it turns into something... I'm actually getting a bit of a Wild Dances vibe from this. No idea what she's on about, but I like it. This will surely qualify.
15. Norway "Spirit in the Sky" (KEiiNO)
Staying Nordic, it was Sweden in this slot last year. Spirit in the Sky? A song performed by Doctor And The Medics (written by somebody else before I was born).
This is quite an upbeat one, isn't it? Sort of traditional Eurovision. Throw in some reindeer and chanting in one of the Nordic peoples languages (Sami?) and you have the makings of an easy qualifier.
Actually, I'm waiting for the bald bloke to burst out with come on Barbie, let's go party.
16. Netherlands "Arcade" (Duncan Laurence)
Okay, a fighter plane just screamed over the house. I didn't think my headphones had quite that much dynamic range. Still, the roar of the engine actually made an interesting lead-in to this song.
As for the song, it's a good solid ballad played by a man with an impressive voice seated at a piano. The staging is simple yet effective.
Something tells me that this is going to be the dark horse song.
17. North Macedonia "Proud" (Tamara Todevska)
Macedonia no longer with "Former Yugoslav Republic" before their name.
Husky vocals for a seemingly simple ballad, the sort of song you might expect to hear performed by somebody like Streisand. A like this one. It's going on the strength of the song rather than a jaw dropping performance.
18. Azerbaijan "Truth" (Chingiz)
We can expect some sort of interesting staging here and... Okay, a heart projected on the performer, and two medical robots checking him out. It's a solid pop song, I can imagine "shut up about it" to be an easy catchphrase this summer. This ought to qualify.
Okay, that's it. All songs have been presented. Now it's time to vote...or not...depending upon what country you are in.
Oh my. This is going to be hard. Let's see...
Ten places out of eighteen, after a slow start, this seemed to be a more serious (and thus much harder) contest tonight.
- 1. Switzerland - didn't think much of it, but it seemed popular
- 2. Malta - bouncy pop number
- 3. Azerbaijan - shut up about it
- 4. Norway - traditional Eurovision fodder
- 5. Russia - acid rain from our fingertips
- 6. N Macedonia - proud to pick this one
- 7. Albania - warrior princess
- 8. Netherlands - hopefully not a losing game
- 10. Denmark - tastes like diabetes
- 12. Sweden - let's be honest, potential winner material here
A spectacularly lovely song performed by Shalva band, a band made up of people with disabilities. The two lead singers are obviously blind, and one of them has Down's Syndrome. A quick look on Google says they're performing tonight instead of on Saturday because they are religious and wanted to observe Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest).
Now a mentalist, is doing a numbers routine. A bunch of numbers which, with a '3' added, and flipped, spell Eurovision. It would be an impressive trick if it wasn't obviously scripted (they've had several dress rehearsals, remember!).
Another recap and the voting comes to an end.
Oh look. They dragged Mâns out to talk about his performing Fuego, while Conchita performs Heroes... that'll be on Saturday's show.
Oh, nice. Part two of the Eurovision history mash-up. Lena and Buck's Fizz, with a dash of Iki Dakika.
If you liked Eurovision Choir, it's on August 3rd.
Okay, her a capella joke fell on its face. Embarrassing!
Now a preview of the final three auto-qualifiers after a chat with them:
- Germany - "Sisters" who are sisters singing a song called sisters. Blonde one is cute.
- Italy - a serious song about how money changes things. Rapping in Italian? At least we can rely on Italy (and Portugal) to bluntly refuse to jump on the English wagon. Good for them.
- United Kingdom - never heard the UK song before, so let's see what it's like. Better than recent years, if a little X Factor-ish.
A brief look at what it's like to get the 12 points.
Mister Jon Ola Sand yet again looking surprised to be on camera. I ought to just copy-paste that line for every time he is on camera.
So, presented in random order:
- North Macedonia - she'll be proud
- The Netherlands - he didn't lose
- Albania - the warrior rules
- Sweden - seriously? who even doubted this!
- Russia - another obvious pass
- Azerbaijan - oh, do shut up!
- Denmark - squeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!
- Norway - come on Barbie let's go party!
- Switzerland - this was also pretty obvious
- Malta - again, not a hard one
Oh My God.
Do you know what?
Look at my list. Look at the list of who passed to the grand final. Ten out of ten.
I think I'll go lie down now.
Ready for the big night
I'm still rooting for the Aussies purely because it's such an "out there" performance, but I have a feeling it's going to be a race between Sweden and the Netherlands.
But, you know... there's a part of me that wants Denmark to win it.
I remembered that I looked at Oddschecker last year, so here we go. As I write this on Thursday night just after the second semi final:
- Netherlands 11/10
- Australia 8/1
- Russia / Sweden 10/1
- Italy 16/1
But remember they reckoned Cyprus last year and Israel in second place, so maybe it'll be Australia's night after all?
Denmark is 150/1 and Slovenia is 250/1, as is the United Kingdom.
See y'all in two days for the grand final where they duke it out for the glittery glass microphone. Be there or be square.
Addendum: Just reading Tuesday's write-up on my phone while waiting for the PC to catch up, and getting a little embarrassed. No, not the typos - that's to be expected when I'm watching a contest and writing at the same time. No, it's how often I prefix sentences with "okay" or "oh my god". I feel like I ought to crack open a thesaurus to try some alternative phrases. How about... oh, I dunno... "jolly ho what" or "my word" or "dear fellow, you wouldn't believe it but".
Righty-ho then, "okay" and "oh my god" it shall be, m'kay?
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Last read at 11:41 on 2019/07/24.
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