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Sorry!

I'll be honest. I missed it. It wasn't until Chris posted a message on the ROOL forum that I was like "what? already? we've only just come out of winter!".
A quick glance at the calendar and... bloody hell... it's the middle of May. Longest day is like four and a half weeks away (and it's then downhill until the dismal cold... like just a couple of weeks ago).

What. The. Hell.

I'll be dead before I know it at this rate.

But, there is a silver lining. I picked up the 720p YouTube broadcast (1.14GiB). The town where I work has 4G, so it took about five minutes. ☺
Also, doing it like this I get saved from the inane commentary on the BBC semi-final broadcasts...at least Graham Norton is (usually) amusing sarcasm. The others? Not so much.

So I'm not going to bother with the second semi final being broadcast... not so long from now. Instead, I'll wait until tomorrow or Saturday daytime and pick it up from YouTube. That way I can watch as and how I want (pee break, tea break, Kitkat/Mars break...).

 

Eurovision 2021 Semi Final 1

Let's get going

Well then, I have a tea and a disc chocky and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps. My phone's audio is hooked to my BIG speakers, so it's time to press Play and see how this, the first Eurovision in Times Of Plague actually goes.

 

Well, there's an audience of brave souls. And... oops, the famous dum-duh duh duh-duh introduction missed it's cue by nearly six seconds.
You know, something I wonder (and it's great I can just pause a "live" broadcast to write this without missing anything ☺) is that the whizzy circles thing is white circles on a European blue background.
Why aren't the circles yellow?

So we're in Rotterdam. Which actually looks a lot nicer than the song by The Beautiful South led me to believe (this could be Rotterdam or anywhere...). We have various shots with lines of colour bouncing off the frame of a little house. I'm not entire sure if it's a real house or rendered, suffice to say it's a wireframe house. For non-nerds, that means it's an outline in the shape of a house. Well, more like a garden shed, it's little.

Perhaps the theme of this year's contest is "don't go to mass gatherings, stay the hell at home!". ☺

The sad thing about it being a downloaded video... "only" two hours and six minutes to go. It says so on the bottom right when the controls are visible.

 

Welcome

The welcome performance is... is that the previous winner, Duncan something? He isn't playing his winning song, it's something with what sounds like that weird over-processed effect more commonly used by rappers. Suffice to say, I don't like it.
The visual effects, on the other hand, are quite impressive. A few years back (cough, twelve!) Russia grabbed the concept of Eurovision and took it up to eleven. Then they took that up to eleven.
Now, this contest is two years in the making plus there are spin offs in Asia and the United States... so I can't help but wonder if they're going to pull out all the stops and put on a hell of a show?
Well, maybe not a suspended swimming pool. That's the sort of crazy you get when your country's leader amuses himself by wrestling bears...

Please bring on that badass flymo? Come on, she didn't say that... but what she is saying is plenty cringe inducing. The auto-generated captions didn't even attempt to figure out what she said there. Given the captions are auto-generated and Eurovision has multiple languages, I can't help but wonder what sort of mess it'll get itself into?

Four hosts. Too much audience screaming so I have no idea what they are called. There's a black one, a short cute blonde, a guy, and an extremely tall blonde... so a diverse enough mixture (unless you like Asians or gingers, that is).
On-screen captions - Edsilla, Chantal, Jan, and Nikkie.

"The sixty fifth edition of the Eurovision Song Contest is about to burst onto your screens"... so, um, what have I been watching for the past five and a half minutes?

"This will be a song contest that you won't easily forget" - I'm going to hold them to that!

Hehe, cute blonde switches to French and gets a cheer from the audience. Because everything sounds sexier in French even though she's basically just explaining the voting process that has been done a billion times before.

Nine minutes and, finally...

 

1. Lithuania "Discoteque" (The Roop)

Okay, I'm getting a Right Said Fred vibe from this. People in yellow with a purple backdrop with an annoyingly catchy song and nutzoid dancing. I'm not sure if I hate this or love it. But if this fails to qualify... come on, there's a certain style of song that just screams Eurovision and this one ticks all the boxes.

 

2. Slovenia "Amen" (Ana Soklic)

The postcard is of a woman with a cat badly superimposed into a rendered green house on a beach. This is the introduction to the Slovenian entry. I've just been watching the Netflix film "The Strange House" which is set in Austria very close to the border with Slovenia. And a bit of wandering around Google Street View later and... there is some ridiculously impressive mountain scenery there, right where Austria and Slovenia meet.

Okay, she's singing in a lower register than I expected. The background visuals are nice, but the singing seems a little off. Is she flat?
I wonder where the backing singers are hiding. There's a whole sort of gospel chorus thing going on here, but we just see Ana walking purposefully across the stage.
Well, she gave it everything, but like I said, it sounded a little...off.

 

3. Russia "Russian Woman" (Manizha)

This postcard is a woman in a red house in... a field full of alien pods? What is that?

Oh for freak's sake Russia... can't you come up with original ideas? Sweden does interacting with the video wall and the next year you guys take interacting with the video wall up to eleven. This? This song this year? It's just Toy sung in Russian, isn't it? But, even with the over-the-top dress (that has a door!), Manizha is a performer but she's no Netta.
This is, I should note, the first song of the night that isn't in English (well, some bits are). And yes, Russian women may be great and needing more opportunities to shine... but really that applies everywhere. Far too many parts of this world treat women like crap, and in some cases, barely better than an expendible posession and/or something to be feared.
Perhaps it might be worth every misogynistic prick that thinks like that to remember where he came from. Yup, that's right. A woman. Because men can take life but they cannot give it. Only a woman can do that. Suck it up, losers...

 

4. Sweden "Voices" (Tusse)

Oh, opening with some sort of pipes. Classy.
Is that a man or a woman? Quite the outfit. Tusse is like what would happen if you putting Seal and Prince into a blender.
His dancing is... not much (a lot of bending over). But if you're writing crap for a blog that few people bother to read, you're looking at the words rather than looking at the performance. And that's a good thing because this is actually quite a catchy song, powerfully performed. Complete with a key change. Well, what else can we expect, this is Sweden after all.
This not qualifying would be criminal.

 

5. Australia "Technicolour" (Montaigne)

I can't help but feel that anything Australia sends will struggle to be as epic as spinny-flying-ice-queen and...
...what... the...????
Okay, so visually she's a punk Sinead O'Connor, and stylistically she's somewhere between O'Connor and The Cranberries, with a song that isn't even remotely disco set to a disco light show.

This is deliciously weird. I mean... damn... I don't even know what I mean.
I rather hope this qualifies so it can be appreciated by the audiences that only watch the grand final.

 

6. North Macedonia "Here I Stand" (Vasil)

Still seems strange to write "Macedonia" without sticking the initials "FYR" in front of it. Instead they go lumbered with "North", which often translates as "forgotten-meh-whatever", as in North Korea, North Dakota, North Westeros, and anywhere in England known as The North...

Oh, yeah, it's one of the Slavic nations. So, let's see who can bring the most melancholy this year. I think opening the song with "there are times when I remember back which to hug the child about to crack" is a damn strong contender.

Okay, it's a damn solid song powerfully performed. Complete with a glitter shirt! Holy effing crap, spotlight onto the shirt on an otherwise black stage, that was a great visual.

Well, who would have thought a song with such a depressing opening would turn into such a great entry? It's all about the performance and that delivered.

 

Some random on-line rubbish

A bunch of people's videos, green room bits, and some other stuff to waste time while commercial channels try to sell their viewers rubbish that they don't need.
I swiped right for four minutes, until...

Okay, I wonder if it's a complicated stage set up? We've had a postcard, and now it's the smaller blonde presenter filling time... and there's an app or something that people can clap along with their favourite song... oh... my... <facepalm>
Yes, it's great to have an audience in the arena. It's also great seeing how many people are not wearing face masks. Come on people, it's a basic protection measure. Especially when everybody is shouting and yelling. All those particles. (ewww!)

Okay, +39m03s Ireland starts, +37m42s the postcard ended. So it took a minute and a third. I wonder why.

 

7. Ireland "Maps" (Lesley Roy)

Lesley is definitely channeling her inner Katy Perry for this one, only with her accent I don't really get much of what she's on about. The visual presentation is quite impressive, and quite complicated. I can see why it took so long to set up... but isn't it a rule that performances are supposed to be able to be set up during the postcard? Or did something go wrong that didn't in rehearsals?

On a technical viewpoint, it's pretty obvious that part of the "stage" is right in front of the camera. Lesley herself made that clear when she walked up to it (and broke reality for a moment in doing so), but... I can't help but wonder what sort of lens is on the camera to get both her (on the stage) and the fake scenery (in front of the camera) in focus at the same time?

Come on, close your eyes. This is such a Katy Perry song.

She breaks reality again by ending the song with a chorus as she runs out onto the stage and you can see some stage hands making the scenery work, as well as some of the other bits and pieces used to make the performance. Interestingly, it looks like this one was aimed directly at the television audiences. Unless there's a live monitor somewhere, I can't imagine the audience would have seen much other than a box in front of a camera and whatever appeared on the backdrop.

 

Some more blah blah

Strange, they're really bending over to give extra time to put up and take down Ireland's stage equipment. It was interesting and unique, but this shouldn't become a thing. Can you imagine if the Grand Final, some 26 songs, all asked for an extra two minutes for setting up their stages? You'd get Portugal winning again with a sweet song performed by a girl with a guitar that needed exactly zero time to set it all up...

 

8. Cyprus "El Diablo" (Elena Tsagrinou)

Ugh. That voice. You know, I'm getting a bit of a Bad Romance vibe here, the Lady Gaga song. Yup, it even ends with fire (but not a burnt corpse with sparking boobs, because only Lady Gaga is out there enough to pull off such a thing).

 

You know, it would have been nice if the broadcaster dropped captions into the postcards to say where these places are. The alien eggs mentioned above, to this castle-thing. It's probably all quite recognisable, maybe even famous places, for the natives. But for those of us watching elsewhere?

 

9. Norway "Fallen Angel" (TIX)

The postcard introduces us to what looks like a 70s disco dude in a massive furskin coat. I get the feeling there won't be any yoiking this year. Shame.

Okay, yeah, let's see. He's dressed like something from the seventies with a massive fur coat, a headband that says TIX (in case you forget) and... to distinguish him from Jeremy Corbyn (another 70s throwback that liked fur coats), he has angel wings. He also has shackles. And four backing dancers dressed like black demons.
Okay, TIX, you're taking the name of your song a little too literally.

As for the song, it's a reasonably well performed generic (and thus not terribly interesting) love song. Bleugh.

Is he blind? He took his sunglasses off for a moment and his eyes didn't seem as if they were coping with the stage lights. Or maybe working at all?
Hang on, let me Wiki this.
Oh, okay, that was unexpected. He has Tourette syndrome. That may explain the erratic eye movements.

 

10. Croatia "Tick-Tock" (Albina)

Oops, out of sync with the video backdrop. Well, my big speakers are enjoying the bass thump here. I'm looking at the neon backdrop effects and the backing dancers like a weird sci-fi version of Mad Max (in spaaaace!) and I'm trying to work out what sort of person choreographs this with a straight face.
Oh, a tiny bit of native language.
This sounds like something that might be more appreciated in Ibiza (you know, in those halcyon days when people could go on holiday to other countries....and Brits could even go and live in some of them).

 

11. Belgium "The Wrong Place" (Hooverphonic)

Oh boy, "Hooverphonic" conjures up images of somebody that spent a childhood pretending that the vacuum cleaner nozzle was a microphone. But hey, if she did, more power too her as she is now participating in one of the world's largest live music broadcasts (the others being special events like Live Aid, and whatever CCTV does on a Saturday night).

Twiggy and Duffy in a blender. The woman surounded by other performers - piano guy, drum guy, electric guitar guy... and tamborine woman.
There doesn't seem to be much stage presence here. It's "okay", but...
And, it ends. Just like that.

 

12. Israel "Set Me Free" (Eden Alene)

Well, that's novel hair. Interesting to begin a song "Set Me Free". I can't help but think that a small population might want to say the same to Israel.
This, with the energetic timed dance routine and costume change (yes, they went there) is just Eurovision-by-numbers.

 

More time wasting for adverts

They talk to... oh, it's "mols salmonella". Hahaha! Great job YouTube with the automatic captioning! That's an AI trying to understand a Dutch woman pronouncing the name "Mans Zelmerlow" (with writing this it's already taken two and a half hours and I have an hour left to watch, so sorry Mans (and... the Slovenian woman?), I'm not going to rummage around to work out what the correct glyphs are for the accents).
I'm going to FFWD. I can always watch this bit later.
On to...

 

13. Romania "Amnesia" (ROXEN)

The postcard had books on psychology and such featured. Is she a bit of a nerd or going through med school, or was that just something to tie into "Amnesia"?

Quirky English and lots of dry ice. I'm not sure what all of the lyrics are, but the "lost myself" and "not alone" could tie in to how a lot of people feel about the past year and a bit of various degrees of confinement. The song probably isn't about this at all, though.
I didn't understand most of that, but I quite liked it. It was an engaging performance. And this, actually, nicely demonstrates what I mean by stage presence.

 

14. Azerbaijan "Mata Hari" (Efendi)

Azerbaijan usually sends quite arty entries, so what will it be this year?

Fuego given an eastern makeover? What aren't they wearing? They're only missing the bunny ears.
Well, that was repetitive nonsense sung by scantily clad women. An obvious crowd pleaser...

 

15. Ukraine "SHUM" (Go_A)

Uh... Techno-ethnic? This... Words fail me. It's like if you're offered the red pill or the blue pill and you decide to take both.

 

16. Malta "Je Me Casse" (Destiny)

The last I heard, Malta was out of the contest because somebody else in the same hotel tested positive for The Unforgiving Plague. It seemed to me to be, okay, a safety precaution but crappy and unfair that a country's chances rested upon a load of other people. Meaning that if you take every possible precaution, you're still screwed by somebody you might not even have met. So, it's good to see Malta here.

Despite a title in French, the song is in English. And it's one of those little French expressions that doesn't translate literally. Je me casse would seem to imply I break myself (literal: I myself break); however it's an expression that is best translated as "I'm outta here!".
As for the song, it's R&B meets funk meets pop.
You might recognise her if I pointed out that her full name is Destiny Chukunyere, as in the winner of the 2015 Junior Eurovision.
Personally, I'm not taken with this, but it's more the genre than the performance. I would be surprised if this fails to qualify.

 

Europe start voting!

Finally, we've come to the end. As a lot of blah blah and recaps take place, I'll announce my picks. Now, the top six was easy picks that leapt out at me. The remaining four are not songs I'd have voted for (I watched the recap twice, but it was only the top six that I liked), but ones that I felt would likely qualify.

12Sweden
10North Macedonia
8Ireland
7Lithuania
6Romania
5Australia
4Russia
3Malta
2Azerbaijan
1Norway

Is it too early to call Sweden as this year's winner? ☺

 

Interval act - The Power Of Water

The Dutch might know a thing or two about the power of water...

Uh, guys? You know there's a 't' in the word "water"?

Well, I'm not sure if that's a song messed up with a sci-fi concept, or a sci-fi concept messed up by a song? Let's ditch the song and develop that tidal-wave thing into a film. I mean, why does the water stop? Who or what is in the water? Come on, tell me more!

 

FINALLY!!!!

The presenter just said that this final promises to be something very special, for one time only we are bringing a full piece orchestra back to Eurovision.

Yes! A proper orchestra. Like how it used to be.

As for the "one time only" part? Well, I do recall them saying that about Australia, letting them enter as a special thing because of how popular the song contest was (at some ungodly hour in the morning), until it became really obvious that Aussies aren't sort-of Brits with weird accents but a country that actually tries to win.

 

The Winner's Journey

The lines are closed. There's a video about a winner's journey, with past winners looking back at their winning performances. Oh wow, Eimear Quinn still looks gorgeous all these years later.

Something else I skipped over, it's getting late.

 

Pre-qualifiers

Talking to the Italian entry. Rock, in Italian. Well, I can't see that winning. Isn't it traditional that Italy's entries are the San Remo winners? Did this win?

Now the German entry. Uh, is he singing with a giant middle finger? So with a perky song about not feeling hate, Germany slips in the ability to give the whole world the finger.
Who says Germans don't have a sense of humour?

Finally, the Dutch entry. Not bad, actually.

 

The results

Finally. It's ten to eleven, I've been at this since 7pm. I ought to type less, stop pausing the video...

At least they had the lion's share of the presenting done by the cute blonde.

Has Jon Sand Whatshisname (Ull-something) retired? They've just announced the new Big Boss, Mr. Martin Estrada.

Right, here we go.

They're presented in a random order:

  • Norway - fur coat guy, I figured this would qualify.
  • Israel - wasn't a bad song, so not a surprise.
  • Russia - yeah, I could see this.
  • Azerbaijan - not a surprise.
  • Malta - again, not a surprise.
  • Lithuania - good, the quirky yellow song.
  • Cyprus - mmmm...
  • Sweden - of course, there was surely no doubt here.
  • Belgium - uh, okay.
  • Ukraine - what?!

Well, I called six of them correctly. But instead of North Macedonia, Ireland, Romania, and Australia we get Israel, Cyprus, Belgium, and Ukraine.

Perhaps Australia was a bit too weird? It's a real shame about Ireland though. It's an innovative performance.

So, that's that. There's another semi-final to wade through. It's probably already finished the live broadcast.

But for tonight, a recap of the qualifiers, then the end credits. It's late, I am supposed to have a quiche for dinner and I should have gone to bed half an hour ago so please excuse any typos you might see. I'm going to drop this on my blog, and then go straight to sleep because I've not won the lottery so tomorrow is yet another work day... Sorry quiche (and stomach), it's too late. :-(

Bye for now.

 

 

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VinceH, 21st May 2021, 00:16
Some tweets by Ben Avison this evening reminded me that it's Eurovision this weekend. 
 
I have a suitable supply of cider - so I'll be tweeting silliness Saturday evening. IIRC I was booted off for exceeding a limit last time, though, so I'll try to slow myself down/restrict my tweets this time. 
 
It probably won't be as much fun doing that, though. We shall see.
Rick, 21st May 2021, 07:45
It's a bit ridiculous of Twitter to boot people off when they're giving thoughts of a live many-hour event...
VinceH, 21st May 2021, 18:35
The current limit is 2,400 tweets per day, but they say it's also "broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals" without specifying what those limits are. 
 
Which means they're pretty much arbitrary. 
 
Logically, those smaller limits must be *at least* 100 in an hour, otherwise 2,400 day is meaningless. I'd therefore expect them to be slightly higher, so limiting myself to 100/hour should be safe. 
 
Assuming 4 minutes per song (probably around 3, but allowing for the time between acts), that gives me 6 and 2/3 tweets per song - so if I say 5 max, I should be okay. (And I'm sure some will get fewer, allowing more for others - and any chatty/interval bits). 
 
Having said all that, I'll be consuming alcohol so as the evening goes on it becomes increasingly likely I'll forget all of this.  
David Pilling, 23rd May 2021, 02:05
" Rock, in Italian. Well, I can't see that winning. Isn't it traditional that Italy's entries are the San Remo winners? Did this win?" 
 
Yup it won. You're brave to predict. 
It is like can anyone predict on the available data. Wonder what the bookmakers said.

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