Eurovision semi-final two: reflections

If I’m honest, I’m pretty disappointed with the results of last night’s second Eurovision semi-final in Stockholm. I thought some of the great songs I’ve grown to like in the last few weeks were a virtual shoe-in for the final. I was sure of the other would bomb.

Boy was I wrong.

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Eurovision 2016: semi-final 1 (aftermath)



Oooh. Despite what I promise myself every year, I end up getting more annoyed at Eurovision voting decisions. Last night’s first semi-final of the song contest was no exception.

While acts like Cyprus and the Czech Republic getting enough voted to secure a place in Saturday’s final, the guys from Estonia and Iceland went home empty-handed. I think both acts did a great job on the night, but where Eurovision voting is concerned, there’s simply no accounting for taste!

(Speaking of, with no Greece in the final, who will Cyprus vote for?!)

Onwards to semi-final two (which really looks like the ‘group of death’, given the great songs included) on Thursday. I’m hoping Ireland make it through as Nicky Byrne has done a great job with an okay song. I think Australia are pretty much guaranteed a place in the final, such is the quality of their act. And with the album on almost constant repeat over the last week or so, both the Macedonian and Albanian songs have really grown on me.

Here’s hoping they get through too. But please – see the above warning about the randomness of voting. Also, there was a huge difference between album recordings and live performances last night (looking at you, Finland), so all my hopes and predictions may come to nothing if the acts mess it up on the night.

As for the show itself, Petra Mede was as entertaining as ever. She should be made permanent host. Similarly, the staging was impressive.

But it was really disappointing that the BBC ignored the (apparently impressive) interval act and instead forced viewers to watching a pretty painful ‘comedy’ routine featuring the UK’s entry.

Eurovision 2016: FYR Macedonia

I’m man enough to admit that, against all my better judgement, this has grown on me since I first heard it. I actually found myself humming along with it the other day. Scary.

It has shades of Bonnie Tyler about it (check out the leggings and strained chorus) and, while it’s quite generic in a soft-rock kind of way, there’s something memorable about it.

There’s something a little diva-ish about it too, reminding me of ‘Primadonna’ by the fabulous Alla Pugacheva. I hope Kaliopi does well on the night and, given its memorable chorus, may even make it into the final.

Once again, the Eurovision demonstrating that it’s a broad church when it comes to musical styles. (Now imagine that being spoken by Terry Wogan…)

Eurovision 2016: Italy

I’ve fallen a little in love with this song since I first heard it. I’ve actually had the Eurovision 2016 album on loop since it appeared on Apple Music.

Don’t judge me.

But this Italian song, I love. It’s not a winner as it’s not that sing-a-long or memorable, but there’s something about its intensity that appeal to me. And frankly you could since a McDonald’s menu to me in Italian and I’d love it.

What a language.

So here’s Francesca Michelin singing ‘No Degree of Separation’. I’d love to see this do well, but have to wonder how it’ll fair against some of the showier acts on the night.


Eurovision 2016: Australia

You may very well wonder how and why Australia is competing in the Eurovision Song Contest. I stopped querying participation some time ago, to be honest. Apparently, the Eurovision knows no borders (though it does know outstanding membership fees, much to Romania’s embarrassment).

But they’re here now and so we better get used to it, as they seem to be taking it seriously.

Last year’s entry was great and did very well – back when we all thought it was a temporary thing, in honour of the Eurovision’s 60th anniversary. Maybe they even got a few ‘friendly’ or even ‘charity’ points. But they’re back. And they’re aiming to win, judging by the calibre of this year’s entry.

We need to take this threat seriously.

Dani Im is superb and the song is a perfect fit for her. She’s already won Australian X-Factor, could the Eurovision be next on her list? It’s a song that stands on its own merits – no need for costumes or gimmicks. And for that alone, I hope it does really well on the night.

I have to wonder: if Australia win, where will the contest be held in 2017? We need to start thinking about this…the Eurovision is just weeks away!

Eurovision 2016: France

And here’s France’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. It’s Amir with “J’ai Church”. It reminds me of a whole bunch of other songs, but mostly it has echoes of last year’s Swedish winner. Upbeat and catchy, I think it’ll do well.

It’s interesting how they’ve moved from 100% French lyrics to introducing more and more English over the years. A bit of a shame as French is so beautiful when sung. Not all languages have that advantage (I’m looking at you, Dutch).

We’re getting closer and closer to the big day(s) next month and I think it’s fair to say I won’t have time to blog about all the entries. I also think it’s fair to say not all the entries deserve individual blog posts. Harsh? Maybe. But I have been listening to a number of the songs on Spotify, to gauge what they’re like after a few days. You can hear most of them on this playlist.

After repeated plays, this one is definitely growing on me.


Eurovision 2016: Russia tones it down

After releasing what was probably the most homoerotic Eurovision entry of all time, Russia has decided to get Sergey Lazarev to sing something a little less…full on.

And I think it’s a shame.

This is (without the video) a very painting-by-numbers pop number. Whereas the first song was flamboyant and memorable, this is doing nothing for me. The video is, all the same, quite impressive. But the lyrics…are banal beyond description. I’m picturing the writers flipping through an English language dictionary looking for words that simply rhyme.

That said, I see Twitter has been abuzz about this new song, with many people tipping this for victory. But what will happen then? Will Europe’s gays be happy to decamp (pardon the pun) to Moscow, where right now it’s positively dangerous to just BE gay, never mind campaign for equal rights?!

Eurovision is, after all, like Christmas and New Years Even rolled into one for us gays. (Tongue firmly in cheek).

Meh. Still hoping Spain wins big on the night. I give this one 5/10.

Eurovision 2016: Estonia

Next up in my almost certainly incomplete series of Eurovision 2016 song reviews: Estonia!

Estonia are sending the quite suave and well turned out Juri Pootsmann, singing ‘Play’. It’s not a blockbuster, doesn’t feature any crazy on-stage shenanigans, but it’s nice all the same. And Juri? Juri will almost certainly turn a few heads.

(You can probably tell that I’m doing these in any kind of order – just as I stumble across the national winners on YouTube. I like Eurovision, but not enough to create a blog post campaign or masterplan or basically do anything more than issue a series of off-the-cuff reactions.)

Now this, I like. A lot. It has a slight ‘Bond theme’ feel to it, but it’s not a blatant rip-off of something else. It’s delivered with confidence and style. Is it memorable? Well, even after hearing it just three times, I’m now whistling along. It’s a stylish piece, if not a blockbuster. Will it threaten any of the big ‘favourites’? I’m not sure – I think it’ll come down to how political the voting is and how well Juri performs live in front of a massive live audience.

I have high hopes and it would be great to see him progress to the final. Estonia have won the contest once before, back in 2001. Maybe once more?