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Eurovision Semi-Final #1, 2015

Notes on Eurovision Semi-Final #1 (Spoilers, for any of you who want to watch it still and don't know who's gone through to the final)

Hurray, four female-presenting hosts! Surely that's a first for Eurovision?

The following is in alphabetical order, not performance order.

Albania - I like the song's concept, but neither video nor stage show were particularly interesting. But it made it to the final.

Armenia - Great lighting/background work (the lighting designers for this contest need more attention!), but the song was even more piecemeal than I thought it was in the erratic video, which had lots of good things undermined by bits which didn't work for me. I'm surprised it made it through to the final - perhaps lots of credit to the lighting designer?

Belarus - It seems wrong to stay a piece with such spectacular lighting was low-key - but deprived of the danger of death by suffocation in an hourglass, it was. The song was middle-of-the road, and its lighting didn't save it. Perhaps the stage show needed greater visual stakes to win it a place in the final.

Belgium - The stage performance was so much better than the video. It was fantastic, excellent use of black and white, good use of stage and light and modern dance. Minorly riveting. I'm delighted it go through.

Denmark - I hadn't noticed in the video how repetitious this song is. It doesn't develop. Neither did the monotonous opening/closing black and white stripes. Based on the stage show, it was no loss that it didn't get through.

Estonia - Better on stage than in the video, which was decent. Good dramatic use of lighting to show off the different sides of the conversation. Very pleased it's through to the final.

F.Y.R. Macedonia - What were you thinking? Were you actively trying to avoid getting through? What on earth was up with that strange, surreal temple backdrop which had nothing to do with the song? You took a pretty good song with a fantastic video - and reworked it to be a drab thing with a weird extra unsettling rhythm near the end and a spectacularly irrelevant background. No wonder it didn't get through.

Finland - The only punk piece in the contest, the shortest in Eurovision history. For variety's sake (and saving a minute of contest time...) I'm mildly disappointed this didn't make it through.

Georgia - Solid, impressive stage show for an even more spectacular video number. It's not a bad song, it was the last to be performed so easy to remember. Not at all surprising that it got through.

Greece - I'm still finding this number not at all memorable. C was particularly underwhelmed by its breathiness (although it IS about "One last breath"). There was a lot of wind machine. I'm a bit disappointed it's in the final, but Greece is a bit of a powerhouse when it comes to vote-getting, so not surprising I guess.

Hungary - It's fine. It's a political song with not much going on in the way of choreography and a decent lighting backdrop. In performance, it was a bit boring, so I'm a bit surprised it's in the final.

Moldova - The song worked better as a soundtrack to a mini-movie with a twist video than it did as a hip-thrusting, repetitious, on-stage dance number with lots of sexy police. It was like an homage to the video, but without the plot.

Romania - A decent song about child welfare, with lots of symbol-rich stage decoration. Near the end + the best of this year's political songs, so not surprised it went through to the final.

Russia - An excellent, delightful, very expensive performance of a decent song, cutting out the manipulativeness of the lots of cute kids in the video. Glittering and sweet. Stands a good chance of winning the whole contest.

Serbia - Yay! The video was cute, but the song didn't capture me as much the first time around. On stage? It was glorious. It made me happy. I think it was the only number involving costume changes. I'm currently hoping it wins the entire contest, on the basis of this performance.

The Netherlands - A decent song with a more lackluster stage performance. I liked it better in video than on stage (even with that egotistical would-be eyecandy). I was disappointed it's not in the final, but accept that the stage performance didn't warrant it.

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